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Avedon Carol presents:

The Sideshow

My motto as I live and learn is: dig and be dug in return. -- Langston Hughes
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Sunday, 16 December 2018

Baby, it's cold outside

"Defying Trump, US Senate votes to end US support for Yemen war: The final vote of the Yemen resolution was 56-41, with seven Republicans breaking with their party to vote in support of the measure. [...] Due to tactics used by the Republican leadership in the House, the lower chamber will not take up the Senate measure before adjourning, leaving the matter unresolved until the new Congress convenes in January." Well, it wasn't simply due to Paul Ryan's tactics - it was also that five Democrats used those tactics as an excuse to vote the wrong way - they were Jim Costa, Al Lawson, Collin Peterson, Dutch Rupperberger, and David Scott. Peterson's explanation for his vote is priceless. Co-sponsors of the resolution to stop supporting the Yemen atrocity were Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

"Abrams' New Voting Rights Org, Fair Fight Georgia, Files Suit: Charges Kemp "grossly mismanaged" election and "unconstitutionally purged" Georgia's voter rolls: Stacey Abrams, who refused to officially concede defeat in her bid for Governor, filed suit today in federal court in Atlanta charging the entire election process was hopelessly tainted. Abrams, who has formed a non-partisan voter protection organization, Fair Fight Georgia, cites, among other racially biased attacks on the rights of citizens to vote, the wrongful mass purge of voters by Secretary of State Brian Kemp — who was Abrams' opponent and the presumptive winner."

"Congress may have accidentally freed nearly all banks from the Volcker Rule: A few double negatives buried in legislative text may have inadvertently freed nearly all U.S. banks from a regulation known as the Volcker Rule, which sought to curb risky behavior in response to the 2008 financial crisis. The text in question comes from a package bill passed in May that pared back portions of the Dodd-Frank post-crisis financial regulatory framework. One of the many provisions of the bill offered an exemption from the Volcker Rule to smaller community banks that policymakers felt were burdened by the regulation, which limited banks' proprietary trading, or trading for their own accounts." Hm, "accidentally", "inadvertently", I wonder....

"Supreme Court sides with Planned Parenthood, declines to take case: The Supreme Court on Monday refused appeals from two states looking to end funding to Planned Parenthood, striking a blow to abortion foes. The decision leaves in place lower court rulings that blocked Louisiana and Kansas from banning Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from the states' Medicaid programs. [...] Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito, dissented, writing that the court should have taken the cases. Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not sign on to the dissenting opinion."

"'Infuriating': Trump FCC Refusing to Release Data Showing If Telecom Industry Being Truthful About Internet Speeds: 'Without this information, consumers who are lucky enough to have a choice of broadband providers won't be able to make informed decisions about which broadband provider to choose.' Under Trump-appointee Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has continued a program to track whether major companies like AT&T, Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon are providing their promised internet speeds, but has failed to publish any of its findings — concealment that has raised alarm among tech reporters and former agency officials. 'The only reason I can think of is that the data doesn't promote the chairman's narrative that broadband industry investment and performance allegedly suffered when it was subject to net neutrality rules grounded in Title II of the Communications Act,' former agency lawyer and adviser Gigi Sohn told Motherboard, referencing Pai's defense of a party-line vote that repealed the rules last year."

"In Stunning Power Grab, Wisconsin Republicans Pass Bill Weakening New Governor: Wisconsin's lame-duck, Republican-controlled state Legislature passed on Wednesday a host of measures designed to kneecap Gov.-elect Tony Evers, other Democrats elected to statewide offices and hurt the Democratic Party in general, sending the legislation to the GOP governor Evers defeated ? Scott Walker ? for his signature. One part of the package would prohibit municipalities from allowing more than two weeks of early voting. That presumably would cut down on voter turnout, which generally helps Republicans. Other provisions would give the Legislature full control of a state economic development agency, block the governor's ability to write regulations and allow the Legislature to hire its own lawyers to file lawsuits on behalf of the state. Walker, who narrowly lost to Evers, is expected to sign the package into law. Democrats are already threatening to fight the measures in court." They shouldn't wait for that - they should block a quorum by going into hiding. This didn't work in Texas because, although the Dems managed to hold out for a month, there was no time limit and they couldn't do that indefinitely. In this case, however, there is indeed a time limit, so it could work. (Here's the same story from Mother Jones.) Hear the Ari Berman interview on this at the Majority Report: Republicans Lose, So They Mount Coups w/ Ari Berman - MR Live - 12/4/18.

Also on The Majority Report, Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies, & Destruction of Mexico w/ Alyshia Gálvez - MR Live - 11/27/18

Sam actually got David Dayen into the studio to discuss all the stuff about AOC and the new kids going for the important committees and how Joe Crowley's parting shot to undermine Barbara Lee ended up with Pelosi finding space for Lee and the progressive freshies.

"How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens w/ Bernard E. Harcourt - MR Live - 12/10/18

And I guess I'm late to the party about Comrade Pamela Anderson.

The Michael Brooks Show really worth a listen, "TMBS - 66 - You Need Marx To Understand Brexit ft. Richard Wolff"

Senator Bernie Sanders on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert saying Medicare For All Isn't A Fringe Idea Anymore.

"Charlottesville: James Fields guilty of murder for driving car into crowd: A jury has found 21-year-old James Alex Fields Jr guilty of first-degree murder for intentionally driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one woman and injuring dozens. Fields was convicted in the August 2017 crash that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Her death came after police forced a white nationalist rally to disband after participants clashed with counter-protesters. The jury of seven women and five men began deliberating on Friday morning and took just over seven hours to reach the guilty verdict. [...] Jurors also convicted Fields of eight other charges, including aggravated malicious wounding and hit and run. [...] Fields faces 20 years to life in prison. The jury is set to return on Monday to determine his sentence. He has also been charged with federal hate crime counts, which could carry the death penalty."

"Tennessee Supreme Court rules Cyntoia Brown must serve 51 years in prison before she's eligible for release: The Tennessee Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Cyntoia Brown, who was 16 years old when she killed a man who solicited her for sex, must serve 51 years in prison before being eligible for release. [...] Brown said she shot and killed her victim, 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allan, after she resisted his advances, and after she believed he was reaching for a gun. She then took a gun out of her purse and shot and killed Allan. [...] The unanimous ruling against Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2004, followed a lawsuit in which she argued that her sentence was unconstitutional. Brown had pointed to a 2012 Supreme Court opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court to argue in the suit that being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders violated the Constitution. The court denying the motion said she hadn't received a life sentence without parole and was just handed a life sentence instead."

"Ammon Bundy Quits Militia Movement in Solidarity With Migrant Caravan" Ammon Bundy is best known as a leading light of the American militia movement (a motley coalition of various different flavors of firearms enthusiasts who hate the federal government). He's famous for getting into armed standoffs with federal agents and violently occupying bird sanctuaries. His friends are the kind of folks who co-chair pro-Trump veterans groups; his father is the kind of man who says, 'I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro' — and proceeds to explain why black people were 'better off as slaves.' So, this being 2018, Bundy naturally just disavowed the militia movement in solidarity with the migrant caravan, suggested that nationalism is actually the opposite of patriotism, and said that Trump's America resembles nothing so much as 1930s Germany." Well, that was certainly unexpected.

Dean Baker at Beat the Press, "Trump and China: Going with Patent Holders Against Workers: While most of us don't have access to the inner workings of the Trump administration to know exactly what is going on with its negotiations with China, given the public accounts and statements, it seems workers have clearly lost. Trump seems to have made the concerns of companies like Boeing, who want more help maintaining their control over technology, his top priority. The impact of an under-valued Chinese currency, which has led to a large U.S. trade deficit, seems to have been dropped from discussion. [...] Most of the media cover this as though Trump is pursuing a genuine national interest in pressing this issue, as opposed to the interest of a small number of large corporations. This is seriously wrong. In fact, if Trump is successful to pushing his 'anti-intellectual property theft' agenda with China, it will actually be bad for most of the nation's workers."

Matt Taibbi, "The French Protests Do Not Fit a Tidy Narrative: The yellow vest protests are more nuanced than American pundits want to admit. 'What's wrong with elitism?' asked Washington Post columnist Max Boot this week on Twitter. Boot posed this in a discussion about the merits of centrism, raised in the context of the 'yellow vest' protests against the government of Emmanuel Macron in France." The confusion about French outrage at rich people imposing austerity on those who can't afford it isn't just for long-time right-wing pundits. Here's alleged "liberal" Neera Tanden on Twitter: I don't understand why any progressive is cheering French protesters who are amassing against a carbon tax." Because it's so hard to figure out that a tax on working people who can't afford it will not even cause any change in the behavior of the corporations who are most responsible for the pollution that is implicated in climate change, and it's just one more straw in a long list of grievances that have increased wealth inequality in France, silly. Matt Taibbi talked to Michael Brooks about this, too.

"Secret Scottish-based office led infowars attack on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn: On the surface, the cryptically named Institute for Statecraft is a small charity operating from an old Victorian mill in Fife. But explosive leaked documents passed to the Sunday Mail reveal the organisation's Integrity Initiative is funded with £2million of Foreign Office cash and run by military intelligence specialists. The 'think tank' is supposed to counter Russian online propaganda by forming 'clusters' of friendly journalists and 'key influencers' throughout Europe who use social media to hit back against disinformation. But our investigation has found worrying evidence the shadowy programme's official Twitter account has been used to attack Corbyn, the Labour Party and their officials."

David Dayen, "White Nationalist Steve King May Have Won, But Iowa Race Shows Republicans Are Losing Ground In Rural Areas: ELECTION ANALYSTS HAVE zeroed in on Donald Trump's weakness in well-educated suburban districts to explain the outcome of the 2018 midterms, in which Democrats won back more than 30 House seats. But the biggest losses of the night for Republicans, in terms of raw vote share, actually happened in rural districts, long presumed to be GOP territory."

* * * * *

Down With Tyranny!
• "The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President-- Part III, Michael Bloomberg
• "The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President-- Part IV, Joe Biden"

"New Election After Republicans Were Caught Trying To Steal A House Seat In North Carolina?: By the end of last month, it was already obvious that North Carolina Trumpist, Mark Harris, had stolen both the GOP primary that ousted Robert Pittenger and then the general election in which he-- against all odds-- beat Blue Dog Dan McCready. The final 538.com forecast omg November 6, showed Harris with just a 12.1% chance to win (1 in 8). [...] In an exclusive interview, McCready told Joe Bruno that he thinks Harris not only knew what McCrae Dowless was doing but that he was bankrolling 'criminal activity.' [...] Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, was also on CNN where he hinted that the state party might support a new election if allegations of fraud are proven true and if it impacted the outcome of the race. If allegations of fraud are proven true, the perps shouldn't be allowed to participate in a new election unless it's from a prison cell. Woodhouse: 'This has shaken us to the core. We are not ready to call for a new election yet. I think we have to let the board of elections come show their hand if they can show that this conceivably could have flipped the race in that neighborhood, we will absolutely support a new election.'"

"Republicans Thwarting The Will Of The Voters-- Michigan" — Democrats routed the Republicans, but the lame duck still has time to burn the house down, just as in Wisconsin.

"Wanted: Candidates To Take On Top 2020 Congressional Targets: Bernie is going to need a progressive Congress to help pass his platform in 2020 when he becomes president-- more members like Alexandria Ocasio, Ro Khanna, Raul Grijalva, Pramila Jayapal, Ted Lieu, Rashida Tlaib, Jamie Raskin, Mark Pocan, Mark DeSaulnier, Ayanna Pressley, Katherine Clark, Jim McGovern, Adriano Espaillat... and fewer Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, faux Democrats who oppose Bernie programs like Medicare-for-All, free state colleges, Job Guarantee, the Green New Deal, etc. They will vote with the Republicans against these proposals-- which is why the 2020 cycle primaries, some of which are starting right now-- are so important." By my lights, no matter who wins the presidency in 2020, we need people in Congress who won't cave to right-wing demands, whether they come from Republicans or Democrats.

* * * * *

"Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees: The White House again wants to expel certain groups of protected immigrants, a reversal after backing away from the policy months ago."

Zaid Jilani at Current Affairs, "What Does Beto O'Rourke Actually Stand For? What makes anyone think O'Rourke should be president? He is neither a bold progressive nor a distinguished legislator. "

"How Did The Dems Win 7 Red GOP Seats? Ben Ray Lujan And His Band Of Incompetents Want The Credit— But Kevin McCarthy (And Trump) Did More Than The DCCC Did. [...] The DCCC has been running around trying to claim credit for the California wins, where they deserve none at all. Their presence in the state made it more difficult for Democrats and nearly cost the party several districts. The reason for the wins has more to do with Ted Lieu's fundraising strategies for the candidates combined with the immense dislike for Trump and the bumbling of Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, another Californian who himself is lucky the DCCC gave him a pass, allowing a hapless joke candidate to run against him.

"Joe Crowley'S Parting Shot: Ousted By Ocasio-Cortez, He Undermined Barbara Lee In House Leadership Race: THE ELECTION OF Rep. Hakeem Jeffries as House Democratic Caucus chair on Wednesday represented a symbolic and substantive comeback for the wing of the party that had suffered a stunning defeat last June, when Rep. Joe Crowley was beaten by primary challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Jeffries, who represents a Brooklyn district next door to Crowley's, bested Rep. Barbara Lee of California, who had the support of the insurgent movement that had ousted Crowley. A protege of Crowley's, Jeffries is heavily backed by big money and corporate PACs. Less than 2 percent of his fundraising comes from small donors, who contribute less than $200, according to Federal Election Commission records. [...] Crowley, though, wasn't going gently into the night. In the run-up to the vote, he told a number of House Democrats that Lee had cut a check to Ocasio-Cortez, painting her as part of the insurgency that incumbents in Congress feel threatened by, according to Democrats who learned of the message Crowley was sharing. There was a kernel of truth in the charge. Lee's campaign did indeed cut a $1,000 check to the campaign of Ocasio-Cortez, but did so on July 10, two weeks after she beat Crowley. Since then, Reps. Steny Hoyer, Raúl Grijalva, and Maxine Waters, as well as the PAC for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, have all given money to Ocasio-Cortez's campaign committee. It's not an unusual phenomenon — a way to welcome an incoming colleague — but Crowley's framing of it linked Lee to the growing insurgent movement, despite her decades of experience in Congress. "

I keep hoping this will go away, but oh, those "progressive Democrats" are keeping it alive. "Senators Working To Slip Israel Anti-Boycott Law Through In Lame Duck: DEMOCRATIC SEN. BEN Cardin is making a behind-the-scenes push to slip an anti-boycott law into a last-minute spending bill being finalized during the lame-duck session, according to four sources familiar with the negotiations. The measure, known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, was shelved earlier amid concerns about the infringement of free speech, after civil liberties groups argued that the original version would have allowed criminal penalties for Americans who participate in a political boycott of Israel. Some of the more aggressive elements of the provision have been removed under pressure, but the American Civil Liberties Union, which spearheaded the initial opposition to the bill, is still strongly opposed."

It looks like we dodged a bullet. "Deval Patrick bows out of 2020 presidential run." Now read this thread about just how sleazy this piece of crapforeclosure monster really is.

"CNN Submits to Right-Wing Outrage Mob, Fires Marc Lamont Hill Due to His 'Offensive' Defense of Palestinians at the U.N. CNN ON THURSDAY afternoon fired its commentator, Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, after right-wing defenders of Israel objected to a speech Professor Hill gave at the U.N. on Wednesday in defense of Palestinian rights. CNN announced the firing just twenty-four hours after Hill delivered his speech. Hill's firing from CNN is a major victory for the growing so-called 'online call-out culture' in which people who express controversial political views are not merely critiqued but demonized online and then formally and institutionally punished after a mob consolidates in outrage, often targeting their employes with demands that they be terminated. Hill's firing, conversely, is a major defeat for the right to advocate for Palestinian rights, to freely critique the Israeli government, and for the ability of journalism and public discourse in the U.S. generally to accommodate dissent. Conservatives claimed to be offended, traumatized and hurt by Hill's political views on Israel and Palestine, which they somehow construed as being anti-semitic, and demanded that CNN fire him as punishment for the expression of those opinions. CNN honored the demands of those claiming to be victimized by exposure to Hill's viewpoints by firing him as a political analyst."

"Ocasio-Cortez Gunning For Powerful Committee, Setting Up Showdown With Long Island Democrat: ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ is making a push for a seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, according to people familiar with her decision. It's a panel whose jurisdiction over taxes and revenue puts most of the economy within its mandate. For that reason, freshmen are almost never given spots on the panel, but the midterm elections upset the balance of power in the House. Sixty-three new representatives have joined the Democratic caucus, and some 43 Republicans either lost their seats or retired — so there is an unusually large number of vacancies to fill. By custom, New York City effectively has at least one reserved seat on Ways and Means, and Ocasio-Cortez is looking to claim it. Its former occupant was Rep. Joe Crowley, whom Ocasio-Cortez beat in a primary election. Any major piece of legislation — whether it's 'Medicare for All,' a 'Green New Deal,' or free public college — would involve some level of revenue, putting it squarely in the domain of Ways and Means, which makes it a key spot for a legislator looking to have an impact. Ocasio-Cortez is routinely asked how she plans to pay for her aggressive economic agenda, and the first answer begins with securing a spot on the House's key tax-writing committee."

Rep. Marc Pocan (D-WI 2), "'No Labels' Needs A Warning Label [...] Look, I get it. No Labels is slick, and I got duped. But no other current or newly elected member of Congress should fall for its shtick. No Labels is a centrist, corporate organization working against Democrats with dark, anonymous money to advance power for special interests. Period."

"'Lobbyists Are Here. Goldman Sachs Is Here. Where's Labor? Activists?' Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez Pull Back Curtain on Corporate-Sponsored Freshman Orientation: One of the best parts of Ocasio-Cortez's arrival in D.C. as a new leader is that she notices, and is revolted by, the corrupt, corporatist rituals that are so embedded in D.C. culture that most politicians and journalists barely notice them."

"At elite gala with ex-Bush official, Obama implores Wall Street to thank him for making them so much money: Barack Obama urged bankers to thank him for helping make them so much money during his tenure as president. He also boasted of turning the US into the world's largest oil producer, while surrounded by wealthy Republicans in tuxedos. Obama made these appeals for elite adulation at a lavish gala hosted by former Secretary of State James Baker. His comments came just a few hours after he met with former Republican President George H. W. Bush at his home in Texas. [...] 'I know we're in oil country, and we need American energy,' Obama said. 'And by the way, American energy production — you wouldn't always know it — but it went up every year I was president. And that whole, 'Suddenly America is the biggest oil producer' — that was me, people.'" Which is a pretty funny thing to say after delivering lip-service to doing something about climate change. But it seems like just last month, everyone was laughing at Trump for saying he was grateful for himself, and now here's Obama telling Wall Street they should be grateful to him. He's right, too. The rest of us should probably tar and feather them both.

This was probably not supposed to be the funniest story I read all week, but it is. Danielle Paquette in The Washington Post, "Workers are ghosting their employers like bad dates: Economists report that workers are starting to act like millennials on Tinder: They're ditching jobs with nary a text. 'A number of contacts said that they had been 'ghosted,' a situation in which a worker stops coming to work without notice and then is impossible to contact,' the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago noted in December's Beige Book, which tracks employment trends. [...] Keith Station, director of business relations at Heartland Workforce Solutions, which connects job hunters with companies in Omaha, said service workers in his area are most likely to skip out on low-paying service positions. [...] Some employers in Nebraska are trying to avoid unfilled shifts with apprentice programs that guarantee raises and additional training over time." Well, gosh, it seems some of these innovative entrepreneurs have... invented the raise.

"The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush: War Crimes, Racism, and Obstruction of Justice [...] The inconvenient truth is that the presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush had far more in common with the recognizably belligerent, corrupt, and right-wing Republican figures who came after him — his son George W. and the current orange-faced incumbent — than much of the political and media classes might have you believe."

Read this Will Stancil thread about the miracle of black kids going to Ivy League colleges and doing just fine, even though they were just ordinary kids. (via)

Richard Eskow at Common Dreams, "Wall Street Is Leading the Attack on Pelosi — Steny Hoyer Is the Real Barrier to the Progressive Agenda: A Hoyer speakership would be a catastrophe for the left. [...] The anti-Pelosi insurgency is not a movement. It's a cabal, orchestrated by the appropriately hashtagged #FiveWhiteGuys, a group of self-self-interested players with big money behind them. These white males resemble nothing so much as the next-generation terminator played by Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. They're cunning, aggressive, shape-shifting, and so reflective that anyone who looks at them sees only a distorted image of themselves."

Dave Lindorf in The Nation, "Exclusive: The Pentagon's Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed: How US military spending keeps rising even as the Pentagon flunks its audit.: On November 15, Ernst & Young and other private firms that were hired to audit the Pentagon announced that they could not complete the job. Congress had ordered an independent audit of the Department of Defense, the government's largest discretionary cost center — the Pentagon receives 54 cents out of every dollar in federal appropriations — after the Pentagon failed for decades to audit itself. The firms concluded, however, that the DoD's financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible."

"Officers pry 1-year-old from Brooklyn mom's arms during arrest; police investigating: BOERUM HILL, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Two peace officers from the Human Resources Administration will be placed on modified duty after shocking video showed an excruciating tug of war between a group of officers and a mother trying to hold on to her baby. It all apparently started because there was nowhere for the young mother to sit. [...] Eyewitness News was told the city agency was slow and crowded, so there were no chairs available, and Headley sat on the floor with her son to wait her turn. [...] Nyasia Ferguson took the video and confirms that both Headley and her son were not blocking any doors or passageways. When security guards ordered Headley to stand, Eyewitness News is told the mother refused because there were no seats and she had her baby. A supervisor was called - and then police."

RIP: "William Blum, Renowned U.S. Foreign Policy Critic, Dead at 85. I know I should remember him, since he was the founder of The Washington Free Press, but I really don't recall ever actually seeing him. "William Blum died in Virginia early this morning on December 9, 2018. He was surrounded by friends and family after falling in his Washington D.C. apartment and sustaining serious wounds 65 days ago. He was 85 years old. [...] in London in the mid-1970s, Blum collaborated with ex-CIA officer Philip Agee and his associates 'on their project of exposing CIA personnel and their misdeeds.'"

"Snowden Speaks Out for Assange: 'If You Would Deny a Thing to Your Enemy, It Is Not a Right': 'You cannot support the prosecution of a publisher for publishing without narrowing the basic rights every newspaper relies on,' says NSA whistleblower."

This is from 2016, but an interesting contribution. "Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers: Here's the problem with the current immigration debate: Neither side is revealing the whole picture. Trump might cite my work, but he overlooks my findings that the influx of immigrants can potentially be a net good for the nation, increasing the total wealth of the population. Clinton ignores the hard truth that not everyone benefits when immigrants arrive. For many Americans, the influx of immigrants hurts their prospects significantly. [...] Both low- and high-skilled natives are affected by the influx of immigrants. But because a disproportionate percentage of immigrants have few skills, it is low-skilled American workers, including many blacks and Hispanics, who have suffered most from this wage dip. The monetary loss is sizable. The typical high school dropout earns about $25,000 annually. According to census data, immigrants admitted in the past two decades lacking a high school diploma have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by roughly 25 percent. As a result, the earnings of this particularly vulnerable group dropped by between $800 and $1,500 each year. We don't need to rely on complex statistical calculations to see the harm being done to some workers. Simply look at how employers have reacted. A decade ago, Crider Inc., a chicken processing plant in Georgia, was raided by immigration agents, and 75 percent of its workforce vanished over a single weekend. Shortly after, Crider placed an ad in the local newspaper announcing job openings at higher wages. Similarly, the flood of recent news reports on abuse of the H-1B visa program shows that firms will quickly dismiss their current tech workforce when they find cheaper immigrant workers. But that's only one side of the story. Somebody's lower wage is always somebody else's higher profit. In this case, immigration redistributes wealth from those who compete with immigrants to those who use immigrants — from the employee to the employer."

Norman Solomon, "The 'Pelosi Problem' Runs Deep: Whether our concerns involve militarism, social equity, economic justice, civil liberties, climate change or the overarching necessity of a Green New Deal, the Democratic Party must change from the bottom up."

"Criminalisation of sex work normalises violence, review finds: Sex workers three times more likely to experience violence from client where trade is criminalised, data shows: Sex workers are more likely to suffer poor health, violence and abuse in countries where their trade is criminalised, a major review has found. The review, by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that sex workers suffering repressive policing — including arrest, imprisonment and extortion by officers — were three times more likely to experience sexual or physical violence from a client and were twice as likely to have HIV or another sexually transmitted infection as those who lived in countries where sex work was tolerated. Sex workers who fear that they, or their clients, may be picked up by the police are more likely to engage in risky encounters, unable to take the time to talk to a client before getting into a car or negotiate terms in advance, the researchers found."

Pastor to Make Controversial Sculpture Out of Purity Rings: Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber is inviting women who grew up during the purity movement to send her their purity rings so that she can melt them into a 'golden vagina' "

John Dingle, former Democratic Representative from Michigan, says, "I Served in Congress Longer Than Anyone. Here's How to Fix It. Abolish the Senate and publicly fund elections." I think this is simplistic and ignores numerous other causes of the problem. Once the high taxes on the rich were lowered, things were bound to go to Hell.

"US Labor Leader Says Case for Bernie Sanders 2020 Is Simple: His 'Life and Heart and Soul': 'I always say that heroes are not made, they're cornered," says RoseAnn DeMoro, former head of the National Nurses United. "And I've never seen anybody more cornered in my life than Bernie Sanders.'"

Glen Ford in Black Agenda Report, "Bernie Sanders Puts Forward a Program That Could Split the Democratic Party: Bernie Sanders has opened his 2020 campaign with a 10-point program that could bust the Democratic Party wide open — which would be best thing Bernie could do for the world. Bernie Sanders last week unveiled a 10-point legislative agenda that he believes will galvanize the Democratic base in much the way that Newt Gingrich's 1994 'Contract With America' propelled the GOP to its biggest electoral sweep since 1946 . The Vermont senator's wish list is genuinely impressive in sweep , a full-blown progressive domestic platform for his expected second run for the presidency in 2020. But the immediate obstacle to Sanders' proposals for Medicare-For-All, tuition-free public higher education, expanded Social Security, a $15 an hour minimum wage, 'bold action' on climate change, fixing the criminal justice system, comprehensive immigration reform, progressive tax reform, a $1 trillion infrastructure overhaul and cheaper prescription drugs, is not Donald Trump's GOP troglodytes -- it's Nancy Pelosi and her corporate Democrats, who answer to a much higher power: big capital."

Note to self: "19 Examples of Bernie Sanders' Powerful Record on Civil and Human Rights Since the 1950s"
Bernie Sanders voted for the 1994 tough-on-crime law. But it's complicated.

One of the less interesting criticisms I've heard from the alt-center of Bernie Sanders is that his use of the term "revolution" portends violence and horror. This is a deliberate and specious misreading of the word, but it's funny none of them had this criticism of the 1992 Democratic platform.

Okay, I think this looks like mom's irresistible Christmas cookies. I want some.

I was never bothered by the original song anyway, but here's a response to the criticism: "Baby, Just Go Outside".

04:06 GMT comment


Sunday, 02 December 2018

Oh, how they pound, raising the sound

Time to start the war against Bill O'Reilly's war on Christmas, so happy Advent and some traditional music to set the mood and the North Pole Advent Calendar (which now lets you cheat) while you're waiting. I like the funky little jigsaw puzzles.

"Jill Stein wins Election Reform in PA: Today, Green Party 2016 Presidential nominee Jill Stein announced the formal settlement of her 2016 lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit called for an end to the use of paperless voting machines known to be vulnerable to hacking, tampering and error, and for the reform of unworkable recount procedures that prevent verification of the vote. The settlement guarantees that Pennsylvania will provide new voting systems using paper ballots by 2020, followed in 2022 by automatic robust audits after every election to confirm the accuracy of the vote before results are certified."

"Senate defies White House on Saudi support in Yemen: The Senate delivered a stunning rebuke to the Trump administration on Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to advance a measure yanking U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces at war in Yemen. The 63-37 vote, in which 14 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to move forward on the bipartisan Saudi resolution, came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis failed to sway key undecided senators with an appeal to hold off lest they upset progress of nascent talks on a cease-fire in Yemen." Or as Ben Norton tweeted: This Sanders/Murphy/Lee resolution would force a withdrawal of US support for this unauthorized war, which created Earth's largest humanitarian crisis and pushed millions into famine." We are all amazed to see that no Democrat actually voted against this bill. All the bipartisanship came from the other direction, for a change - and it's the first bipartisan bill to pass the Senate in a long time that is an unmitigated good. It's reasonable to hope the House may pass it, but if Trump vetoes it, it's unlikely to get past the next Senate.

"Taxpayers — not Big Pharma — have funded the research behind every new drug since 2010: A sweeping study of drug R&D funding shows the public pays for the crucial foundations of medical breakthroughs. So why not let the public have access to them? Something odd happened when the Trump administration submitted the original version of its latest pro-corporate budget: Big Pharma didn't like it. The problem wasn't a tax hike or new regulations: the problem was that the budget included deep cuts to the budget of the National Institutes of Health. If those cuts had gone through, they would have exposed one of the biggest lies told about Big Pharma: that the current system of patents and price-gouging is just an unfortunate necessity to cover the cost of all their brave and noble R&D work. Trump's original spending proposal for fiscal year 2019, released last month, included major cuts to not just to the NIH, but the National Science Foundation as well. It is those two publicly funded entities — not Big Pharma — that support the bulk of the country's basic research into diseases and pathways to new treatments. That's why the cuts were especially unwelcome in the executive suites of drug and biotech companies. Their business models depend on Washington subsidizing expensive, high-risk basic research, mostly through the vast laboratory network funded by the NIH.

Juan Cole at Informed Comment, "Trump cuts Palestinians off at Knees, Ending $5 bn in US AID Support: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that all operations in the West Bank and Gaza will close by early 2019. Half of the agency's staff are expected to be let go in the coming weeks. USAID is one of the largest aid organizations in the region, supplying around US$5.5 billion to the occupied Palestinian territories for infrastructure, medical and social services, and humanitarian aid. There is currently no alternative in sight. Some US$215 million that the United States was to invest in humanitarian aid and development in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip has been withheld, according to an analysis for the U.S. Congress. U.S. financing for UNRWA has also been blocked as part of President Trump's blackmail tactics against the Palestinians."

"Ukraine Bans All Russian Men, Raising Tensions: Adding to growing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, and the broad Ukrainian hostility toward all things Russian, President Petro Poroshenko announced on Friday that he is banning all Russian men between the ages of 16 and 60 from the country. Officials are trying to tie this to last weekend's maritime incident with Russia, and Poroshenko is claiming it is to prevent Russian soldiers from sneaking into the country to 'destabilize' Ukraine before a war. In reality, it feels like a continuation of Poroshenko's anti-Russia policies which included harsh restrictions on the use of the Russian language, the sort of policies which fueled secessionist fervor in the mostly ethnic-Russian east. In the near term, the impact is mostly economic and cultural. Russian soloist Andrei Merkuriev, from the Bolshoi, reported that he was forbidden from attending a ballet in Odessa, a show which he was staging in the first place. Beyond this, Poroshenko announced new crackdowns on the Russian Orthodox church, ordering raids against important religious sites in the country. This comes amid his government's push to emphasize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox church."

RIP: "Director Nicolas Roeg dies aged 90." I think I only saw The Man Who Fell To Earth a couple of times, but I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've seen Performance. A friend who worked at the theater slipped me in to see it the first several times ("You gotta see this movie!"). I couldn't stop watching. (Still one of the best soundtracks ever.)

* * * * *

From Down With Tyranny!
"New Series: The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President-- Part I, Tulsi Gabbard [...] In Hawaii, she earned a reputation among her former colleagues in the State Legislature as one of their most bigoted contemporaries. She defined her local career as an outspoken anti-gay and anti-reproductive rights politician. Volumes of official records from the Hawaii State Legislative Reference Bureau tell Tulsi's story in her own words. Here, Tulsi, then Representative Tamayo, presents a floor speech against a measure supported by local hospitals that resolved to study the needs of LGBTQ students, who suffered the highest rates of suicide in the state...."

"The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President-- Part II, Kirsten Gillibrand [...] Trump and the GOP will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars eviscerating anyone the Democrats run in 2020. But Gillibrand would be their easiest target to destroy, since she's laid so much of the groundwork herself."

"New Series: Democraps Who Are Calling Out To Be Primaried-- Meet California Blue Dog Jim Costa"

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This is from September but kept forgetting to post it, even though I've listened to it several times since then. Matt Taibbi on The Michael Brooks Show, TMBS - 58 - Ten Years Of Not Jailing Bankers. I particularly liked the parts where they tear up Jamie Dimon (welfare queen) and Ben Bernenke.

"Pennsylvania Case Challenges 'Death By Incarceration' For 18-Year-Olds: Recent Supreme Court rulings have led to a review of life-without-parole sentences for crimes committed at age 17 and younger, but attorneys for Avis Lee say there's no reason to stop there."

Matt Taibbi, "Who Will Fix Facebook? In its effort to clamp down on fake news, Russian trolls and Nazis, the social media giant has also started banning innocent people, proving again it can't be trusted to regulate itself [...] We could have responded to the fake-news problem in a hundred different ways. We could have used European-style laws to go after Silicon Valley's rapacious data-collection schemes that incentivize clickbait and hyper-partisanship. We could have used anti-trust laws to tackle monopolistic companies that wield too much electoral influence. We could have recognized de facto mega-distributors as public utilities, making algorithms for things like Google searches and Facebook news feeds transparent, allowing legitimate media outlets to know how they're being regulated, and why. Instead, this story may be turning into one of the oldest narratives in politics: the misuse of a public emergency to suspend civil rights and concentrate power. One recurring theme of the fake-news controversy has been a willingness of those in power to use the influence of platforms like Facebook, rather than curtail or correct them. Accused of being an irresponsible steward of information, Facebook is now being asked to exercise potentially vast and opaque new powers."

"A group of students at Weill Cornell and Columbia explain why their CEO is wrong to oppose 'Medicare for All'

This is old and maybe I even posted it before and forgot, but I was listening to it just now and it was kinda spooky to hear Robert Scheer and Thomas Frank discussing the Democrats at the 2016 Democratic Convention.

Just sticking this here as a note to self: "What Bernie Sanders Got Done in Washington: A Legislative Inventory"

"Analysis: From Glasgow to Berlin - how strikes, mutinies and revolutions ended WW1: Official commemorations for the end of WW1 refuse to acknowledge how it ended."

Whovian Complaint Form (via)

Someone reminded me to watch the "Ode to Joy - Flash Mob Started by One Little Girl" video again.

You can read all of Will Shetterly's Warpship Victoria comic here.

07:15 GMT comment


Friday, 23 November 2018

Thank you, as always

The colors change, the pages turn, and everything gets harder. There's no way I could ever tell you how grateful I am to you for still being here with me, but believe me, I am.

At this writing, all of the Senatorial elections have been called with the exception of the special election in Mississippi, where Mike Espy (D) and Cyndy Hyde-Smythe (R) are tied at 41% each. Dems picked up AZ and NV, and the GOP picked up FL, IN, MO, and ND.

"Iowa Democrat loses race by 7 votes — but officials refuse to count 29 absentee ballots from left-leaning county [...] 'About 29 absentee ballots from left-leaning Winneshiek County weren't counted. One of those was Liam's, and he says his ballot was mailed ahead of deadline,' tweeted Senapathy. While the ballots may have been mailed by the date, some post offices didn't postmark the ballots, so there was no verification of when the ballot was received. 'Here's where it gets disturbing. According to @52101news (Decorah Iowa News) Winneshiek County Auditor says the 29 ballots without a postmark will NOT be included in the vote totals because of specific rules about how mailing dates may be verified,' Senapathy went on. 'Meanwhile, as Liam explained to me, in neighboring, right-leaning Fayette County, ballots that weren't postmarked were 'accidentally' counted. This is against policy, but the claim is that it's too late to do anything about it. This is some rank BS.'"

Ari Berman in Mother Jones, "These Unheralded Democratic Wins Could Reshape Voting Rights Across the Country: Democrats took control of secretary of state jobs in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan. Kyrsten Sinema's narrow victory in Arizona's US Senate race may have gotten all the attention, but Katie Hobbs' even narrower victory, declared five days later on Saturday, might say more about the future of the emerging purple state — and of voting rights across the country. Hobbs, a Democrat, will become Arizona's first Democratic secretary of state since 1995. The position is second-in-command to the governor, and it's a common stepping stone to the governor's mansion: Four of Arizona's last nine governors were previously secretaries of state, according to the Phoenix New Times. Just as important, Hobbs campaigned on an expansion of voting rights, and she will now oversee the state's elections, with the potential to reshape the electorate by improving access to the ballot for minority, young, and low-income voters. She was one of three Democrats who took over secretary of state jobs previously held by Republicans, joining Democratic victors in Michigan and Colorado. These races were unheralded next to congressional and gubernatorial races across the country, but these officials now have the power to enforce state voting laws in 2020, advocating and implementing practices that will make it easier to vote in critical swing states. [...] There's still one big secretary of state race outstanding, in Georgia, the epicenter of the fight over voter suppression in 2018. Rep. John Barrow, the last white Democrat from the Deep South in the House of Representatives, who lost his seat in 2014, is running to succeed Kemp. He trailed on Election Day by just 19,000 votes, so he's now in a runoff against Republican State Rep. Brad Raffensperger that takes place on December 4, with early voting beginning next week. Barrow has criticized Kemp's voter registration restrictions as 'plainly illegal' and has been an outspoken opponent of gerrymandering after Georgia Republicans redrew his district to oust him from Congress. 'Any thing we do that makes it harder than necessary for honest citizens to register, stay registered, or vote undermines their right to vote,' he wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday."

"House Progressives Are Facing An Unexpected Problem In The Quest For Committee Power [...] And yet, it's a precarious situation for the CPC. Several key retirements and the blue wave adding between 38 and 40 House Democrats has led to an unprecedented number of open slots on the money committees. The unsettled race for speaker provides a unique opportunity for influence. But if progressives cannot find the warm bodies willing to fill committee slots, they'll have put their reputation on the line in a bid for power, without being able to follow through."

Here's a nightmare scenario: "155 Democrats back Hoyer's bid for majority leader. This amidst complaints about Pelosi from the left while right-wing Democrats attack from the right. Those hot young Blue Dogs want a chance at her seat that they won't get if the party won't move farther to the right.

Another good move that passed at the polls, "What is Ballot Question E? Banning Water Privatization in the City of Baltimore" - "Inalienability of the Sewer and Water Systems". Everybody should do this.

"Somali Workers in Minnesota Force Amazon to Negotiate: Labor organizers and researchers said they had not heard of Amazon previously coming to the table after worker pressure, even for private discussions."

"Amazon Is Kicking All Unauthorized Apple Refurbishers Off Amazon Marketplace: Amazon told independent refurbishers that it will now only allow "authorized resellers" to sell Apple products on Amazon Marketplace. [...] Aaron Perzanowski, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University and coauthor of The End of Ownership, told me in an email that this decision is a dangerous infringement of ownership rights. 'Wow. This is a very troubling development,' he said. 'Given Amazon's dominance as an online retail marketplace, its decision to disregard the first sale rights of resellers will significantly limit consumer choice. The fact that this move was demanded by Apple makes it even more problematic. What we see here are the world's two most valuable companies engaging in a coordinated assault on the lawful resale of consumer devices.'"

Sirota, "Will New York Fund Amazon Subsidies or Student Debt Relief? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made headlines begging Amazon to site its second headquarters in the state. Now, however, prominent Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly have slammed the idea of offering taxpayer subsidies to the retail giant. [...] Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim announced that he will introduce legislation to slash New York's economic development subsidies and use the money to buy up and cancel student debt — a move he said would provide a bigger boost to the state's economy. The legislation, says Kim, would halt any Cuomo administration offer of taxpayer money to Amazon, which could reap up to $1 billion in tax incentives if it moves to Long Island City. The deal is a goodie bag for Amazon: It includes everything from a $325 million cash grant to a promise that taxpayers will help secure a helipad for Amazon executives."

Okay, this one is actually from National Review? "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Right about Amazon's Corporate Welfare: After a long process, Amazon finally announced that it will locate its new headquarters in New York and Virginia. Following the announcement, Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that 'Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.' As a result of her tweet, conservative commentators all over twitter and on shows like Fox Business's Varney & Co. are making fun of her. They argue that her reaction is yet more evidence that she doesn't get economics and that doesn't want New Yorkers and Virginians to get the thousands of jobs that will be created there thanks to the new headquarters. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Ocasio-Cortez is mostly correct on this matter, and her conservative critics are wrong. Handouts like this to Amazon and other prominent companies are appalling in their cronyism, pure and simple. I agree that she doesn't understand economics and that her socialist ideal is a recipe for fiscal and economic disaster. But her conservative critics reveal their own economic misunderstanding when they support targeted tax breaks as a means of creating jobs.

Derek Thomson in The Atlantic, "Amazon's HQ2 Spectacle Isn't Just Shameful — It Should Be Illegal: Each year, local governments spend nearly $100 billion to move headquarters and factories between states. It's a wasteful exercise that requires a national solution. [...] Every year, American cities and states spend up to $90 billion in tax breaks and cash grants to urge companies to move among states. That's more than the federal government spends on housing, education, or infrastructure. And since cities and states can't print money or run steep deficits, these deals take scarce resources from everything local governments would otherwise pay for, such as schools, roads, police, and prisons. [...] But there are three major problems with America's system of corporate giveaways. [...] Corporate America is getting all the help it doesn't need. You and I may not like it. But executives such as Jeff Bezos have no reason to care. They are winning by the rules of a broken game."

"Georgia Legislator, Arrested At Work, Says She Was 'Singled Out As A Black Female Senator': Georgia state Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) was arrested along with more than a dozen other protesters at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday afternoon at a demonstration asking the state to 'count every vote' from last week's gubernatorial election. Protesters shouted 'Let her go!' as Williams was handcuffed while the General Assembly was in session. [...] One of Williams' white male colleagues, state Rep. David Dreyer (D-Atlanta), went to the same protest with Williams for the same reason and was not arrested. He stood outside the jail after her arrest and spoke out about Williams' unfair treatment by Capitol police. Dreyer said he went down to the Capitol about the same time as Williams, 'but for some reason, Sen. Williams was treated differently than I was treated.'

"Ohio House passes 'Heartbeat Bill' restricting abortion after detection of fetal heartbeat: By a vote of 59 to 35, the Ohio House of Representatives once again passed the 'Heartbeat Bill.' The bill, considered by among the most restrictive abortion bills in the country, would ban abortion at the first detectable fetal heartbeat. That could come within the first six weeks of pregnancy. [...] The bill would first have to be voted on in the Senate, something Senate leaders have not yet decided on."

"Abortion clinics on edge after woman who shot Kansas doctor is released from prison: Abortion clinics across the country were taking extra precautions Wednesday after the anti-abortion activist who shot Wichita physician George Tiller in 1993 and committed a string of clinic attacks in several states was released from prison. Rachelle 'Shelley' Shannon, the Oregon woman whose actions once triggered a federal investigation into the possible existence of a national conspiracy of anti-abortion terrorists, had been living in a halfway house in Portland, Ore., since May. She has spent 25 years in custody. [...] News of Shannon's release has clinic operators on edge. In addition to showing no remorse for her actions, they say, Shannon has been visited in prison by several activists who believe that killing abortion doctors is an act of justifiable homicide. Clinic supporters also note that Tiller, a regular target of abortion protesters because he was one of a handful of doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions, was shot to death in 2009 by Kansas City-area anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder, who had admired Shannon and visited her many times in prison.

Maryland Matters with "2018 Election Cycle's Ups and Downs" reports some good news despite the way Ben Jealous was abandoned by the party.

By the way: Keith Ellison left a safe seat in Congress to run for Minnesota AG, realizing it would be terrible to leave that office to a Republican. He won, 49.1%-45.2%.

Lee Fang and Nick Surgey in The Intercept, "Lobbyist Documents Reveal Health Care Industry Battle Plan Against 'Medicare For All': NOW THAT THE midterms are finally over, the battle against 'Medicare for All' that has been quietly waged throughout the year is poised to take center stage. Internal strategy documents obtained by The Intercept and Documented reveal the strategy that private health care interests plan to use to influence Democratic Party messaging and stymie the momentum toward achieving universal health care coverage.

Right-wingers and Dem Donuts alike love to attack Bernie Sanders because his wife's attempt to save a failing college was not successful, and five years after the event, the head of Trump's presidential campaign complained about it to the FBI. There is actually news on this front that probably still won't shut them up: "Adviser says Bernie Sanders' wife cleared in college land deal investigation: A top adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that the Vermont independent's wife, Jane Sanders, has been recently told by the US attorney in Vermont that they have closed an investigation into a land deal involving Burlington College during Jane Sanders' presidency." This is exactly the kind of nonsense Ken Starr pulled on the Clintons, but it had even fewer legs. What's weird is not that some right-wingers tried to talk it up, but that Democrats were doing the same thing, which is about like believing that Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster.

I hate to admit it, but not only is Maureen Dowd right, but it's an article that needed to be written. "Who's the Real American Psycho? [...] Even for Washington, the capital of do-overs and the soulless swamp where horrendous mistakes never prevent you from cashing in and getting another security clearance, this is a repellent spectacle. War criminals-turned-liberal heroes are festooned with book and TV contracts, podcasts and op-ed perches. Those who sold us the 'cakewalk' Iraq war and the outrageously unprepared Sarah Palin and torture as 'enhanced interrogation,' those who left the Middle East shattered with a cascading refugee crisis and a rising ISIS, and those who midwifed the birth of the Tea Party are washing away their sins in a basin of Trump hate. The very same Republicans who eroded America's moral authority in the 2000s are, staggeringly, being treated as the new guardians of America's moral authority. They bellow that Trump is a blight on democracy. But where were these patriots when the Bush administration was deceiving us with a cooked-up war in Iraq? How do you like your norms broken? Over Twitter or in a torture memo? By a tinpot demagogue stomping on checks and balances he can't even fathom or a shadowy authoritarian expertly and quietly dismantling checks and balances he knows are sacred? Before we had Trump's swarm of bloodsucking lobbyists gutting government regulations from within, we had Cheney's. Before Trump brazenly used the White House to boost his brand, we had Cheney wallowing in emoluments: He let his energy industry pals shape energy policy; he pushed to invade Iraq, giving no-bid contracts to his former employer, Halliburton, and helping his Big Oil cronies reap the spoils in Iraq. The movie opens at Christmas, but it's no sugary Hallmark fable. It's a harrowing cautionary tale showing that democracy can be sabotaged even more diabolically by a trusted insider, respected by most of the press, than by a clownish outsider, disdained by most of the press."

"Secret CIA Document Shows Plan to Test Drugs on Prisoners: Thanks to an ACLU victory in federal court, we know much more about how CIA doctors violated the medical oath to 'do no harm.' One of the most important lessons of the CIA's torture program is the way it corrupted virtually every individual and institution associated with it. Over the years, we have learned how lawyers twisted the law and psychologists betrayed their ethical obligations in order to enable the brutal and unlawful torture of prisoners. Now we've won the release of a 90-page account of the CIA's Office of Medical Services role in the CIA torture program — a secret history written by the top CIA medical official, whose identity remains classified."

Death of HHS official Daniel Best is ruled a suicide: WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Nov. 1 death of Daniel Best , a pharmaceutical executive from Bay Village who led U.S. Department of Health and Human Services efforts to lower prescription drug prices, has been ruled a suicide, officials in Washington, D.C., said Thursday. [...] The city's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Thursday said Best died from "multiple blunt force injuries" and it ruled his death a suicide. It would not release further information." What, he clubbed himself to death?

This article from May has recently been updated. "Did Rep. Adam Schiff Just Admit the US Has a Secret Indictment of Julian Assange?" Schiff's office responded to news that Assange would be happy to talk to him with, "Our committee would be willing to interview Julian Assange when he is in U.S. custody, not before." So, they want to terrorize him and, by proxy, all other journalists who might want to expose government corruption and crime. Last week The Washington Post reported, "Julian Assange has been charged, prosecutors reveal inadvertently in court filing."

"Jónasson: The Icelandic Minister who refused cooperation with the FBI [...] What happened was that in June 2011, US authorities made some approaches to us indicating they had knowledge of hackers wanting to destroy software systems in Iceland. I was a minister at the time. They offered help. I was suspicious, well aware that a helping hand might easily become a manipulating hand! Later in the summer, in August, they sent a planeload of FBI agents to Iceland seeking our cooperation in what I understood as an operation set up to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Since they had not been authorised by the Icelandic authorities to carry out police work in Iceland and since a crack-down on WikiLeaks was not on my agenda, to say the least, I ordered that all cooperation with them be promptly terminated and I also made it clear that they should cease all activities in Iceland immediately. It was also made clear to them that they were to leave the country. They were unable to get permission to operate in Iceland as police agents, but I believe they went to other countries, at least to Denmark. I also made it clear at the time that if I had to take sides with either WikiLeaks or the FBI or CIA, I would have no difficulty in choosing: I would be on the side of WikiLeaks."

Bruce Shapiro in The Nation, "The Indictment of Julian Assange Is a Threat to Press Freedom: If the First Amendment means anything, it is the right to obtain public-interest information from impure, indeed hopelessly tainted, sources."

"There Are 200 California Inmates Fighting the Camp Fire. After Prison, They Likely Won't Be Allowed to Become Firefighters: California's licensing laws mean inmates can risk their lives for less than $2 per day, but can't earn a living after they get out of prison.: About 200 inmates are among the thousands of firefighters still doing battle with the massive wildfire that has destroyed the town of Paradise, California, and killed at least 31 people. Once they are released from prison, however, most of them will be prohibited from joining the fire crews that they currently work alongside. It's a cruel irony that demonstrates just how difficult life can be for the formerly incarcerated — even those with needed, practical skills — who continue to be punished long after they have paid their debt to society, and bad policy that effectively prevents the state from calling upon well-trained, experienced firefighters when wildfires erupt."

Seems I missed it in September when the California legislature passed a bill to help protect PG&E from wildfire damage suits. "It was a balancing act, the Democratic senator from Napa said after months of furious lobbying over whether lawmakers were going too far in helping PG&E with what critics called a bailout for a utility that has been accused of putting profits before safety."

@StephenKinzer tweeted: I posted my @GlobeOpinion column about #Bolsonaro and #Brazil on @facebook a week ago. Now I see that beneath it is this notice: "This post goes against our Community Standards, so no one else can see it." Here's the column, what standards does it violate?" The column is called "Jair Bolsonaro threatens us all."

RIP: "Douglas Rain: Actor who voiced Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey dies," at 90. He also voiced an evil computer in Sleeper, along with some robot butlers.

RIP: Stan Lee, 95. I don't even have to tell you, do I?

RIP: "William Goldman, screenwriter of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All The President's Men, has died aged 87. Goldman, who received Oscars for both of those films, also wrote Marathon Man, Magic and The Princess Bride, which he adapted from his own novels. His memoir Adventures in the Screen Trade is famous for his memorable declaration that "nobody knows anything" about the movie business. He was also a noted "script doctor" who worked uncredited on many features. Born in Highland Park, Illinois in 1931, Goldman started out as a novelist before breaking into movies with 1965 spy caper Masquerade. He followed that with The Moving Target, also known as Harper, in which Paul Newman played a laconic private eye."

Some fascinating history of court decisions, some of which were passed for thoroughly racist reasons but later became the basis of civil rights actions (and decisions) - and civil rights decisions that were later used specifically to undermine civil rights: "Public Education, SCOTUS , & The Battle for the American Mind w/ Justin Driver - MR, on The Majority Report.

Matt Taibbi, "Bernie Sanders Opens Up About New Democrats in Congress, Taking on Trumpism [...] I absolutely believe that from day one, the Democrats in the House have got to come out with a progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of working people. And that leads to — as you know, the Medicare-for-all bill I introduced, which is to be implemented over four years, lowers the eligibility age from 65 to 55, covers all of the children, and lowers the cost of prescription drugs. My guess is that about 80-percent of the American people would support a proposal like that. It's wildly popular. And that's what the Democrats have got to do. They've got to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, they've got to make public colleges tuition-free and they've got to lower student debt. All of these proposals are enormously popular. And they're good public policy. And here's what I think, Matt, that maybe nobody else in the world believes. As you know, Trump is a 100-percent political opportunist, who has no political views other than how he can win elections." I adored Bernie's response to being told that The Washington Post advised Democrats to avoid "fire-breathing" progressives and to stick to moderates.

Matt Taibbi, "Forget 'Conventional Wisdom': There Are No More Moderates: Beware the latest call to 'move to the center' — which is just the same old tune, re-packaged [...] Voters are not skittish, brainless creatures afraid of strong policy proposals. That more accurately describes the politicians and corporate donors who are invested in things staying as they are. Most actual people are living on the edge financially, are angry, and will take policy help from anywhere they can get it."

Libby Watson at Splinter News, "House Democrats Balk at Prospect of Being Good [...] Meanwhile, on the financial end of things, Nancy Pelosi endorsed a list of changes to House rules, including a rule to 'create a supermajority requirement to raise individual income taxes on the lowest-earning four-fifths of taxpayers.' That is a disastrous idea. Alan Essig, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, noted the rule 'could make it difficult, as a practical matter, to raise taxes — on the rich — without making the tax code a complicated mess. This is because few changes in the federal income tax would affect no one in the bottom 80 percent.' Such rules have also been disastrous at the state level, and tax rates in states with supermajority rules are comparable to those without them. But more importantly, it sends entirely the wrong message: that taxation is among the gravest, most serious things Congress can do. Congress doesn't need a supermajority to declare war, but it should have one to raise taxes? If we're going to play this game, there are tons of other things Democrats could require a supermajority for — cutting Medicare or Social Security, for example, or selling off any new public lands. All this does is affirm Republicans' world view that taxation is among the most vicious evils the government can force on its citizens. "

Lordy, Alex Pareene in The Washington Post, of all places, "Political power never lasts. Democrats need to use theirs while they have it. [...] With Democrats about to control the House of Representatives again, I have been thinking about that last majority: what it achieved, what it was too cautious to attempt and what that caution actually bought. Because we may be asking the same questions about the next Democratic majority sooner than we think. The lesson of the careful restraint that Democrats showed the last time they controlled either chamber of Congress — and of the Republican ferocity since then — is simple: Your job is not to win power and then maintain it. Your job is to win power and then use it, with the knowledge that you won't have it forever or even, most likely, for very long at all." (via)

And Pareene in the HuffPo, "In Journalism About Race, A Tinge Of Denial: The only appeal the conservative movement has left is white panic. Why is that story still so hard to tell? As the midterms hurtle to an astonishingly racist close, the nonpartisan political press has continued to rely on the old 'racially tinged' euphemisms, taking care not to draw any conclusions about the party doing all the race-baiting. Call it denial-tinged journalism."

Is it really possible that more people wanted to vote for every other elective office than wanted to vote for US Senator in Broward County?

Paul Rosenberg has an optimistic take on the midterms, "Reflections on a blue wave: How progressive activists drove a historic victory: Several progressive Democrats won this week. But even when they didn't, activists drove the blue wave to victory." And helped develop infrastructure that can be used again.

Pierce, "Democrats Can't 'Work With' Republicans Until Republicans Return to Reality: There are two things to remember as we go forward. First, there is absolutely no reason for Democratic congresscritters to assume good faith on any subject on the part of their Republican colleagues. Second, the most notable thing about the Problem Solvers Caucus is that it never has solved a single problem."

"'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda': 'This is a very bad idea, House Democrats. It makes no sense whatsoever to give Republicans veto power over progressive legislation.'"

"46 Minutes With Barbara Lee Talking Iraq, poverty, and getting a seat at the table with the House's lefty conscience."

David Atkins at The Washington Monthly, "Counting All the Votes Is Not a Surprise or a Rollercoaster: We need to change the way elections are reported in America. [...] But at the end of the day, TV networks want to send their viewers to bed with answers, journalists need definitive copy for the Wednesday morning edition and op-ed writers must deliver their scheduled smart takes. The result is that election night coverage is considered the default version of events, and ballots counted in the days and weeks afterward an afterthought or exciting aberration. States like California that make expansive efforts to count every eligible vote and give voters maximum opportunities to make their voices heard are resented as disrupters of the natural order, inconveniences to the unity of the narrative. So when results change in close races several days after Election Tuesday, it is treated as a remarkable phenomenon. Headlines describe lead changes as 'roller coasters' and 'dramatic comebacks.' Unsurprisingly, when Republicans find themselves as usual on the short end of such reversals their politicians and media outlets increasingly insinuate dark allegations to their base about voter fraud and ballot stuffing. After all, why else would these late results continually go against them? They feel that contests rightfully won on election night are being taken from them. And the press generally does the truth no favors in this regard. If a race is too close to call and hundreds of thousands of mostly urban and provisional ballots remain outstanding, the press will treat the race as an open question even when the Republican is behind, leaving conservatives to believe that results could go either direction even when they invariably will not. Just yesterday an NPR show in Southern California nonsensically suggested that despite the widening lead for Democrat Harley Rouda against Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher, in California's 48th congressional district, Rohrabacher could still 'come back' to retake it based on the (mostly Democratic-leaning) precincts and provisional ballots remaining. This type of electoral coverage must change. Readers, viewers and listeners deserve the truth and an accurate prediction of reality."

Luke Savage in Jacobin, "American Politics Could Use More Conflict: Decrying 'tribalism' is a favorite pastime of American elites, but the real problem is the unity among them. [...] Conflict of this kind ultimately has little to do with noxious debates broadcast on cable news or with a political class that theatrically stages them while tapping the same corporate donors and casually dishing about Social Security privatization across the tables of opulent D.C. restaurants. The fact is that beneath the facade of intra-elite camaraderie amid televised partisan rancor, there remain deep and abiding political disagreements between Americans that will only be resolved when one side is defeated or lays down arms. This is, I believe, the main reason elites and members of the intelligentsia broadly invested in status quo ultimately see salvation in a mythic kingdom without conflict or meaningfully distinctive parties to institutionalize it. It's also why so many of them seem determined to pathologize political differences as random sociological spasms rather than expressions of genuine grievances, progressive or prejudicial as the case may be: plenty of them, whether they care to admit it or not, privately pine for a place where the interests they share can be safely negotiated unfettered by the irritants of democratic politics or the headaches they tend to create."

"Here's the real reason health care costs so much more in the US [...] Per capita, the U.S. spent $9,403. That's nearly double what the others spent. This finding offers a new explanation as to why America's spending is so excessive. According to the researchers at the Harvard Chan School, what sets the U.S. apart may be inflated prices across the board. In the U.S., they point out, drugs are more expensive. Doctors get paid more. Hospital services and diagnostic tests cost more. And a lot more money goes to planning, regulating and managing medical services at the administrative level. In other areas, despite conventional wisdom, there seems to be less discrepancy between the U.S. and other countries than commonly thought. Experts have previously suggested high utilization rates could explain high spending in the U.S. But looking at hospital discharge rates for various procedures, such as knee and hip replacements and different types of heart surgeries, the researchers found that use of care services in the U.S. is not so different compared to other countries. In fact, compared to the average of all the nations, Americans appear to go to the doctor less often and spend fewer days in the hospital after being admitted. [...] The real difference between the American health care system and systems abroad is pricing."

"This Is the Amount of Money You Need to Be Happy, According to Research: Money really can buy happiness, as it turns out — but you might not need as much as you think. A large analysis published in the journal Nature Human Behavior used data from the Gallup World Poll, a survey of more than 1.7 million people from 164 countries, to put a price on optimal emotional well-being: between $60,000 and $75,000 a year. That aligns with past research on the topic, which found that people are happiest when they make about $75,000 a year. But while that may be the sweet spot for feeling positive emotions on a day-to-day basis, the researchers found that a higher figure — $95,000 — is ideal for 'life evaluation,' which takes into account long-term goals, peer comparisons and other macro-level metrics. [...] Money really can buy happiness, as it turns out — but you might not need as much as you think. A large analysis published in the journal Nature Human Behavior used data from the Gallup World Poll, a survey of more than 1.7 million people from 164 countries, to put a price on optimal emotional well-being: between $60,000 and $75,000 a year. That aligns with past research on the topic, which found that people are happiest when they make about $75,000 a year. But while that may be the sweet spot for feeling positive emotions on a day-to-day basis, the researchers found that a higher figure — $95,000 — is ideal for 'life evaluation,' which takes into account long-term goals, peer comparisons and other macro-level metrics."

"Revolutionary Socialism And The Black Panther Party [...] As Fred Hampton of the esteemed Chicago chapter stated, 'You don't fight racism with racism. We're gonna fight racism with solidarity. You don't fight capitalism with Black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.' [...] At the same time, these were the same revolutionaries whose party motto was: All power to the people! Black power to Black people! Brown power to Brown people! White power to white people! Panther power to the Black Panther Party!"

"GOP Jesus"

Mattell has released a Doctor Who Barbie.

"Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Painting Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes."

I like the look of The Radical Literary Calendar 2019, although it has an obvious flaw. But the idea is good and it's the calendar layout I like.

The complete animated Discworld film,"Wyrd Sisters"

The Beatles live at the BBC, "Thank You, Girl"

03:58 GMT comment


Thursday, 08 November 2018

Happy Dawali!

Palast has been screaming for months about Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp's illegal voter roll purges in an election where he was running for governor, which historically has meant resigning from the seat in the name of fairness. But this is a Republican election fraudster. Similarly, he's been after Kris Kobach, who was Trump's fraudster-in-chief. Those are two races I was particularly paying attention to, but in the last few weeks Palast was tweeting warnings in far more states, telling people to check their registrations. I couldn't even begin to keep track of all the problems I saw being tweeted about as Tuesday night went on, all over the country, including Brooklyn, New York. Utterly outrageous behavior on the part of election officials working hard to disenfranchise voters. Ari Berman in Mother Jones, "Voters Are Making an Unprecedented Number of Calls to Report Election Problems: Broken voting machines in New Jersey. Absentee ballots that never arrived in Florida. Voters being asked for the wrong forms of photo ID in Mississippi. A call center at a law firm in New York is fielding complaints from around the country of voting irregularities, and voters are reporting a wide range of barriers to voting in a midterm election that will determine control of Congress and the fate of President Donald Trump's agenda." Even Berman's list is not comprehensive, and the implication is that a lot of it was lack of preparedness for unusually high turnout for a mid-term election, but a lot of these are issues that only happen if you're trying to make it hard for people to vote. There should not be four-hour lines, ever.

Democrats took the House Tuesday (and got rid of Pete Sessions), picked up the Senate seat in Nevada but lost seats for Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. So much for the idea that running to the right helps Democrats, I guess. Presumed rising stars Randy Bryce (WI 1st Congressional district) and Beto O'Rourke (for the Texas Senate seat) failed to win their bids, so Ted Cruz is still in the Senate. On the bright side. Kris Kobach, major election fraudster, lost the Kansas gubernatorial race to Democrat Laura Kelly. Dems did flip more governorships than they lost (Scott Walker lost WI, and Maine finally got rid of LePage), and New York finally dumped its Republicans. Of course, with Maryland Democrats supporting the Republican governor, Ben Jealous lost by a decisive margin to Larry Hogan. But once again, we lost more right-wing Dems from office, which gives us the option of building a better Democratic position in those areas.

Oh, and I confess that I wanted to see this: "Democrat Ned Lamont Wins Connecticut Governor's Race," although I really have no idea how he will govern. Never gonna forgive Lieberman, though.

Some important races haven't actually been called yet, and the Gillum and Abrams races may be headed for recounts. Fingers crossed and all that, but so far it seems like the election frauds may have won.

The Onion, "Georgia Election Worker Assures Black Man Ballot Scanner Supposed To Sound Like Shredder."

Oh, yeah, Bernie Sanders won his Senate race with over 67%.

Twitter had some fun moments.

There was some great news on ballot initiatives, particularly:
• "Louisiana votes to eliminate Jim Crow jury law with Amendment 2: The law made Louisiana one of two states that allowed a non-unanimous jury in felony trials."
• "In Historic Move, Florida Approves Automatically Restoring Voting Rights To Felons: The move, reversing a Jim Crow-era policy, is one of the most significant expansions of the franchise in modern times."

Someone told me the Texas Board of Education flipped blue. That would be a big deal, since Texas seems to control textbooks all over America. However I couldn't find a story on that.

* * * * *

I think I actually missed this last year when it was posted, but now that I've found it, you should read it.

Keep It Simple and Take Credit
By Jack Meserve

As Democrats stare down eight years of policies being wiped out within months, it's worth looking at why those policies did virtually nothing for their electoral success at any level. And, in the interest of supporting a united front between liberals and socialists, let me start this off with a rather long quote from Matt Christman of Chapo Trap House, on why Obamacare failed to gain more popularity:

There are parts to it that are unambiguously good — like, Medicaid expansion is good, and why? Because there's no fucking strings attached. You don't have to go to a goddamned website and become a fucking hacker to try to figure out how to pick the right plan, they just tell you 'you're covered now.' And that's it! That's all it ever should have been and that is why — [Jonathan Chait] is bemoaning why it's a political failure? Because modern neoliberal, left-neoliberal policy is all about making this shit invisible to people so that they don't know what they're getting out of it.

And as Rick Perlstein has talked about a lot, that's one of the reasons that Democrats end up fucking themselves over. The reason they held Congress for 40 years after enacting Social Security is because Social Security was right in your fucking face. They could say to you, 'you didn't used to have money when you were old, now you do. Thank Democrats.' And they fucking did. Now it's, 'you didn't used to be able to log on to a website and negotiate between 15 different providers to pick a platinum or gold or zinc plan and apply a fucking formula for a subsidy that's gonna change depending on your income so you might end up having to retroactively owe money or have a higher premium.' Holy shit, thank you so much.

This point has been made before on Obamacare, but the tendency behind it, the tendency to muddle and mask benefits, has become endemic to center-left politics. Either Democrats complicate their initiatives enough to be inscrutable to anyone who doesn't love reading hours of explainers on public policy, or else they don't take credit for the few simple policies they do enact. Let's run through a few examples.
[...]

This shouldn't even be a liberal-socialist divide, although it seems to have become one in recent years. When society decided citizens should be able to read, we didn't provide tax credits for books, we created public libraries. When we decided peoples' houses shouldn't burn down, we didn't provide savings accounts for private fire insurance, we hired firefighters and built fire stations. If the broad left takes power again, enough with too-clever-by-half social engineering. Help people and take credit.

Now go read the rest — and then send it to any Dem reps you might have, and anyone else you think might benefit from having this drilled into them.

* * * * *

This CNBC interview with Sherrod Brown is interesting. I mean the way he talks, it's so different from the way pretty much every other candidate is talking. I have my problems with him but seeing the way he talks about trade and never once attacks Trump even while disagreeing with how he went about it, I think I can see why he's doing so well. Brown won re-election to the Ohio Senate quite comfortably Tuesday.

Capital-D Democratic darling "Cory Booker uses anti-Semitic massacre as an excuse to dismiss Palestinians rights: New Jersey Senator Cory Booker says that the Pittsburgh massacre has led him to support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. He becomes the first politician to use the killings of 11 Jews to take a racist position against Palestinian rights. His move should be described exactly that way, as a cynical use of real antisemitism as an excuse to dismiss Palestinian rights so as to further his political career."

Watch: Glenn Greenwald Breaks Down Lessons for the West From Bolsonaro's Fascist Victory in Brazil: "When the establishment class fails a huge portion of the population for enough time and to enough of an extent, sooner or later they will decide that it is the ruling class that is their enemy."

Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report, "Fascism is Real, But the 'Resistance' is Mostly Fake [...] I have no problem labeling Trump a fascist, and Bolsonaro appears to have no problem being called one. My problem is with a phony 'resistance' that defines fascism so narrowly that it applies, domestically, only to Donald Trump and his most crazed followers. For Democrats, the fascist label is mere political epithet, a demon-word hurled for election purposes."

Margaret Sullivan, former "public editor" at the NYT — the good one — has a new job as "Media Columnist" at the WaPo. "Defensive, caravan-fixated and Trump-obsessed, the media blow it again. Just not as badly." Of course, the media that reported on every hysterical word about the caravan conveniently forgot it as soon as the election was over, just like the White House and the rest of right-wing media seem to have done.

"LA Times Publishes Completely Different Political Endorsements in English and Spanish: LOS ANGELES — Why would the same newspaper, with a mainstream version in English and another version in Spanish covering the same geographical area and diverse communities, endorse different candidates for the same federal, state and local elections in each language? [...] The English version of the LA Times suggests you re-elect U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein because she comes from a more 'civil and productive era of governance' and has accomplished a great deal like that. The editorial casts doubt on the effectiveness of her challenger, state senator Kevin de León who seems 'unwilling to compromise.' LA Times en Español, however, has a different take. According to its editorial, de León is the best choice because he seems pragmatic and effective enough and knows the immigrant community best. And, after all, 'Dianne Feinstein has been in the Senate since 1992' and that's 'too long. A generational change is needed.'"

"3P Gives Glenn Kessler 8 Pinocchios for Healthcare Bungle." Kessler really seems to be desperate.

David Dayen, "The Dialysis Industry Is Spending $111 Million To Argue That Regulating It Would Put It Out Of Business

Thomas Ferguson, Benjamin Page, Jacob E. Rothschild, Arturo Chang, and Jie Chen at the Institute for New Economic Thinking have a new paper out, "The Economic and Social Roots of Populist Rebellion: Support for Donald Trump in 2016" (.pdf), which they introduce in "Economic Distress Did Drive Trump's Win" this way: "Contrary to the dominant media narrative, social issues like racism and sexism on their own can't explain Trump's success. [...] Economic factors mattered at both stages. Moreover, in the general election — in contrast to the primaries — leading social factors actually tended to hurt rather than help Trump. While agreeing that racial resentment and sexism were important influences, the paper shows how various economic considerations — including concerns about imports and job losses, wealth inequality, social welfare programs, and starved infrastructure — helped Trump win the Republican primary and then led significant blocs of voters to shift from supporting Democrats or abstaining in 2012 to voting for him. It also presents striking evidence of the importance of political money and senators' 'reverse coattails' in the dramatic final result." (Lee Fang has the short version at The Intercept, "Donald Trump Exploited Long-Term Economic Distress To Fuel His Election Victory, Study Finds.")

Lynn Parramore, also at INET, interviews Adolph Reed in light of the new paper, "Cheap Talk on Race and Xenophobia Keeps Americans from Confronting Economic and Political Peril: Adolph Reed, who researches race and politics, warns that 'identitarian' politics can conceal the structural inequities of capitalism. [...] I had a very sharp and studious black undergraduate student wholly inside a race-first understanding of politics. When I mentioned the white people who had voted for Obama once if not twice who also voted for Trump, his response was, well, of course you can't say that voting for Obama means that you're not a racist. I said, yes, that's true, but by the same token you can't say that voting for Trump means you are a racist, right? Which they don't want to accept.

Sam Seder and David Dayen, How Corporate-Funded Judicial Bootcamp Made More Conservative Judges on Ring of Fire.

Thom Hartmann says The Real Reason Why Republicans Fear 'Medicare for All' is that it will provide every citizen with legitimate voter ID. I'm pretty sure that's not the only reason.

"Start the Voter Suppression Hearings Now and Don't Stop [...] The House can hold hearings on voter suppression. They can start immediately. They can subpoena every fucking Republican secretary of state who can reasonably be judged to have assisted in the suppression of minority voters. They can subpoena law enforcement officials. They can subpoena campaign staffers. They can subpoena poll workers. They can call in all types of political science professors and statisticians and sociologists to explain in detail what is happening. They can invite Michelle Alexander to read the entirety of The New Jim Crow into the Congressional record. They can draw attention. They can make noise. They should, and they must. The more you let the overt oppression slide, the more it will be seen as the standard playbook for the next election." Personally, I'm not getting behind abolishing the Senate until House reps can only have 30K constituents.

The Onion, "White House Concerned Ryan Zinke Made Land Deal Without Giving Cut To Trump."

"See Beatlemania Hit the Comic Book World During the 1960s!" I actually remember that Jimmy Olsen stuff, but I remember finding it embarrassing.

"Motown Guitarist Wah Wah Watson Dead at 67: Born Melvin Ragin, the iconic guitarist lent his signature licks to the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, others."

Temptations, "Papa Was A Rolling Stone"

23:57 GMT comment


Tuesday, 30 October 2018

But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured

With the synagogue shooting, the Kroger shooting, and the result of the Brazilian election (and this piece of crap Macron), I'm a bit shell-shocked. I can't write anything.

The DC City Council has no Republicans, but, "Yep, They Did It — D.C. Council Repeals Initiative 77: The D.C. Council has now officially repealed Initiative 77, the measure approved by voters in June that would have gradually eliminated the tipped wage. What began as a protracted and oftentimes contentious battle during the primary season ended with a whimper in legislative session on Tuesday. The vote was 8-5, with the same councilmembers who voted against the measure two weeks ago similarly opposing the second vote: Ward 1's Brianne Nadeau, Ward 3's Mary Cheh, Ward 6's Charles Allen, and At-large Councilmembers Robert White and Elissa Silverman. In addition to repealing Initiative 77, the Tipped Wage Workers Fairness Amendment Act of 2018 also requires employers of tipped workers to be trained on the topics of sexual harassment and wage-theft laws, and to use a third-party payroll system that submits data to D.C.'s Department of Employment Services. That employment agency must also create a website with information about the city's wage and hour rules, and the mayor must set up a tip line for workers to report wage theft. Now, the repeal needs the mayor's signature, which Mayor Muriel Bowser has said she will provide, and a standard 30-day Congressional review period to become law. While 55 percent of voters came out in favor of Initiative 77 during the June primary, the council moved quickly towards repealing the measure, which faced strong opposition from the restaurant industry."

So, a guy tried to bomb some prominent Democrats who, just by coincidence, are constant hate figures of the right wing, including right-wing television, radio, and Trump. But David Dayen noticed an interesting bit of the guy's back story, "Cesar Sayoc's Home Was Foreclosed On By Steve Mnuchin's Bank, Using Dodgy Paperwork: CESAR SAYOC, THE Donald Trump-loving Floridian who was taken into custody in relation to pipe bombs mailed to prominent Democrats, was foreclosed on in 2009 by a bank whose principal owner and chair is now Trump's treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. The documents used to enact the foreclosure were signed by a prominent robo-signer and seemingly backdated. Nonetheless, the evidence was good enough for the famously inattentive Florida foreclosure courts to wave the case through. Years later, Sayoc became a supporter of Trump, who came into office and appointed a treasury secretary who ran the bank that snatched Sayoc's house. [...] It's a bizarre twist to a story that has captured America's attention this week. Thirteen pipe bombs were sent by mail to high-profile Trump critics: former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, Rep. Maxine Waters, former Attorney General Eric Holder, actor Robert DeNiro, financier and Democratic donor George Soros, among others. None of the bombs exploded. In yet another irony, Soros was one of the investors in the bank that executed the foreclosure on Sayoc's home. [...] The story is a lesson about the toxicity of the foreclosure crisis and how it upended millions of lives. It's also a lesson about how the failure to uphold the rule of law can reverberate in unforeseen directions, and how a combination of ignorance and partisan passions can make people believe their assailants are their saviors."

Surprisingly, a strong article in Politico that's very positive, "Bernie Sanders Is Quietly Remaking the Democrats' Foreign Policy in His Own Image: The gadfly senator suddenly finds himself in an unfamiliar role: consensus-builder. [...] Van Jackson, a foreign policy expert and adviser to the Pentagon during the Obama administration, described Sanders' global-minded makeover: 'I'm a progressive but couldn't bring myself to vote for Sanders in 2016 because I thought he wasn't serious about national security. He was basically silent on it. ... Not only does Sanders now seem to take national security seriously — he's literally the only politician accurately diagnosing the threat landscape America faces,' he wrote in an email."

I saw "centrists" saying that if Bernie Sanders went to South Carolina only 15 people would show up. This looks like more than 15 people. (Sanders' speech starts about halfway through the video, but it's interesting seeing the local speakers and Nina Turner rabble-rousing first, too.)

"US votes against UN resolution condemning gay sex death penalty, joining Iraq and Saudi Arabia: The US is one of just 13 countries to have voted against a United Nations resolution condemning the death penalty for having gay sex. Although the vote passed, America joined countries such as China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in opposing the move. The Human Rights Council resolution condemned the 'imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations'. It attacked the use of execution against persons with 'mental or intellectual disabilities, persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, and pregnant women'. It also expressed 'serious concern that the application of the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women'. The US supported two failed amendments put forward by Russia, which stated the death penalty was not necessarily 'a human rights violation' and that it is not a form of torture, but can lead to it 'in some cases'. And it abstained on a 'sovereignty amendment' put forward by Saudi Arabia, that stated 'the right of all countries to develop their own laws and penalties'."

Bill Mitchell has depressing news in his summary of his meeting with John McDonnell in London: It is Wednesday and I am reverting to my plan to keep my blog posts short on this day to give me more time for other things. Today, I will briefly outline what happened last Thursday when I met with Shadow British Chancellor John McDonnell in London. As I noted yesterday, I was not going to comment publicly on this meeting. I have a lot of meetings and interactions with people in 'high' office which remain private due to the topics discussed etc. But given that John McDonnell told an audience in London later that evening that he had met with me and that I thought the proposed fiscal rule that Labour has adopted was 'fine', I thought it only reasonable that I disclose what happened at that meeting. I did not think the rule was fine and I urged them to scrap it and stop using neoliberal constructs." It seems Labour has bought the deficit lie and is talking austerity.

"Even janitors have noncompetes now. Nobody is safe.: One of the central contradictions of capitalism is that what makes it work — competition — is also what capitalists want to get rid of the most. That's true not only of competition between companies, but also between them and their workers. After all, the more of a threat its rivals are, and the more options its employees have, the less profitable a business will tend to be. Which, as the Financial Times reports, probably goes a long way toward explaining why a $3.4 billion behemoth like Cushman & Wakefield would bother to sue one of its former janitors, accusing her of breaking her noncompete agreement by taking a job in the same building she had been cleaning for the global real estate company but doing it for a different firm."

Sirota, "Noble Energy Pumps Unregulated Cash Into Fight Against 112: In a last-ditch attempt to defeat one of the most far-reaching environmental measures on the 2018 ballot, a fossil-fuel giant is blanketing Colorado television with election-focused political ads that it now claims are outside the purview of all state campaign-finance laws. The maneuver — which pioneers a novel way for corporations to circumvent disclosure statutes and inject money directly into elections — has been blessed by the office of Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who has led a Republican political group bankrolled by the same fossil-fuel corporation that is airing the ads."

"At the Heart of Global Woes, 157 of World's 200 Richest Entities Are Now Corporations, Not Governments: From massive inequality to the climate crisis, these powerful corporations 'are able to demand that governments do their bidding'"

"I Bought Used Voting Machines On Ebay For $100 Apiece. What I Found Was Alarming [...] Surely, I thought, these machines would have strict guidelines for lifecycle control like other sensitive equipment, like medical devices. I was wrong. I was able to purchase a pair of direct-recording electronic voting machines and have them delivered to my home in just a few days. I did this again just a few months ago. Alarmingly, they are still available to buy online. If getting voting machines delivered to my door was shockingly easy, getting inside them proved to be simpler still. The tamper-proof screws didn't work, all the computing equipment was still intact, and the hard drives had not been wiped. The information I found on the drives, including candidates, precincts, and the number of votes cast on the machine, were not encrypted. Worse, the 'Property Of' government labels were still attached, meaning someone had sold government property filled with voter information and location data online, at a low cost, with no consequences. It would be the equivalent of buying a surplus police car with the logos still on it. [...] This year, I bought two more machines to see if security had improved. To my dismay, I discovered that the newer model machines — those that were used in the 2016 election — are running Windows CE and have USB ports, along with other components, that make them even easier to exploit than the older ones. Our voting machines, billed as 'next generation,' and still in use today, are worse than they were before — dispersed, disorganized, and susceptible to manipulation.

OK, this is just hilarious. "Francis Fukuyama interview: 'Socialism ought to come back': The End of History author on what Karl Marx got right, the rivals to liberal democracy and why he fears a US-China war."

Poynter, "About 1,300 U.S. communities have totally lost news coverage, UNC news desert study finds." Many newspapers that still exist are publishing little if any local news, but in many parts of the US, there are simply no newspapers at all. Some local stations are still trying hard to cover local news and issues, but for many people, there is no local broadcast news and no local coverage.

Jay Rosen says, "Next time you wonder why New York Times people get so defensive, read this." And goes on to say that now that the journalists are forced to get more feedback, and the paper now depends more closely on subscriptions rather than advertising for income, readers are making them nervous. This seems like an awfully sympathetic position to take for a paper that chose to fill its op-ed page with right-wingers in one of the most liberal markets in America. I feel bad for journalists who want to write the Who, What, Where, When, and Why and instead find themselves having to juggle both-siderism with stratospherically insane claims from the "other side", but that's on their bosses, not on the readers.

Robert Kuttner, "Sears Didn't 'Die.' Vulture Capitalists Killed It. If you've been following the impending bankruptcy of America's iconic retailer as covered by print, broadcast and digital media, you've probably encountered lots of nostalgia and sad clucking about how dinosaurs like Sears can't compete in the age of Amazon and specialty retail. But most of the coverage has failed to stress the deeper story. Namely, Sears is a prime example of how hedge funds and private equity companies take over retailers, encumber them with debt in order to pay themselves massive windfall profits, and then leave the retailer without adequate operating capital to compete." On that same subject, Sam Seder talked to Marshall Steinbaum about The Sears Bankruptcy & Private Equity Raiders on The Majority Report.

"Wrongfully convicted by non-unanimous jury, I spent 15 years in prison for crime I didn't commit [...] In any other state, we wouldn't have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, probation, or suspension of sentence. Louisiana is one of only two states that allow people to be convicted of felonies with non-unanimous jury votes. After the Civil War, when the 14th Amendment mandated that black men be allowed to serve on juries, Louisiana took action to maintain our second-class status. In 1898, the state changed its constitution so that a less than unanimous vote by a jury could convict a defendant of a felony. The purpose was to make sure that black jurors could be outvoted by a majority of white jurors. The official statements made at the 1898 Constitutional Convention stated that the intention was to 'perpetuate the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon race in Louisiana.' On November 6, Louisiana will have a chance to overturn this expressly racist jury rule. A proposal on the ballot asks voters if they want to end the state's split-jury statute and the unfair practice of convicting people of a felony without the unanimous consent of a jury."

David Dayen in The New Republic, "The Essential Difference Between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren: The potential 2020 candidates are often portrayed as identical progressives. A closer look proves otherwise. [...] They have markedly different approaches to empowering the working class. In the simplest possible terms, Warren wants to organize markets to benefit workers and consumers, while Sanders wants to overhaul those markets, taking the private sector out of it. This divide — and where Warren or Sanders's putative rivals position themselves on it — will determine the future of the Democratic Party for the next decade or more."

"Group Purchasing Organizations, Health Care Costs, and Drug Shortages [...] In 1972, Congress enacted the Anti-Kickback Statute as part of the Social Security Act Amendments that banned kickbacks, bribes, or rebates in return for furnishing items or services; the statute was intended to protect patients and federal health programs from the inherent conflict of interest. However, in 1987, group purchasers were granted an exception to the antikickback law, known as the safe harbor exemption. The exemption allowed creative strategies for GPOs to increase their profits. Today, GPOs ask manufacturers to pay them undisclosed vendor fees as a condition to have their products placed in the GPO catalogs. This issue can be problematic when GPOs go further and invite a manufacturer to pay a premium fee to become a sole supplier, allowing the manufacturer that is the highest bidder to essentially purchase market share, rendering hospitals and patients dependent on a single manufacturer's supply chain. Hospitals in turn are sometimes asked to enter into contracts with GPOs that offer greater discounts for longer, more exclusive contracts. One potential result of these contracting interactions is that only 1 or 2 manufacturers may be responsible for an entire regional or national supply chain. This reliance on a narrow supply chain can have an adverse effect on hospital inventories if a factory has production problems. A 2016 US Government Accountability Office study concluded that there was a strong association between critical drug shortages and a decline in the number of drug suppliers.2 Furthermore, GPOs were a significant focus in a US House of Representatives report on drug shortages, which stated that 'the GPO structure reduces the number of manufacturers producing each generic drug.'3 This association between drug shortages and the number of drug suppliers was likely a contributing factor when hospitals faced a nationwide shortage of intravenous saline bags after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico and damaged the manufacturing plant of Baxter International, which has dominated the US saline bag market.4 Although there is limited evidence to support the direct link between GPOs and drug shortages, the vendor fee model of GPOs has the potential to create barriers to market entry for manufacturers by rewarding fewer, larger manufacturers and thus increasing dependence on fewer supply chains."

"The Growth of Sinclair's Conservative Media Empire: The company has achieved formidable reach by focussing on small markets where its TV stations can have a big influence. [...] There are regulations that prevent any single company from controlling too large a share of the press, in order to protect competition and the free exchange of ideas. Sinclair has achieved its formidable reach by exploiting loopholes in these regulations. During the past few decades, it has bought small and midsized television-station operators and then circumvented regulations by setting up shell companies that on paper appear to be separate entities but over which Sinclair exerts almost total control. Sinclair's stations — there are often several in the same broadcast area, branded as local ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox affiliates — enjoy the trust of viewers because they appear independent, even though much of the content is dictated at a national level. A former news director at a Sinclair-owned station told me that Smith 'purposely went in and bought a whole bunch of stations in mid-America — i.e., Trump kinds of towns. Places where they could have a big influence.' She added, 'I don't care what your politics are — the bottom line is, they hatched a plan to have an effect on the majority of this country. And, when you look at it, I'm positive the right-wing commentaries, in small markets, had an effect on the election.'"

Haaretz, "$6 Billion of Iranian Money: Why Israeli Firm Black Cube Really Went After Obama's Team: When it was revealed earlier this year that the commercial spy firm was targeting members of the Obama administration, it was assumed it was working for the Trump team. But official company documents leaked to Haaretz reveal a far more lucrative target — the seizure of Iranian cash worldwide"

Andrew O'Hehir at Alternet, "Donald Trump Didn't Start the Fire: Here Are Things the Midterms Can't Fix: An appalling week of mail bombs, Trump tweets and Megyn Kelly overload should remind us: Politics won't fix America [...] Let's say instead that for many powerful and well-insulated Americans near the top of the cultural pyramid, from the center-left to the center-right — including at least some penitent conservatives in the Max Boot and Tom Nichols mold — a potential Democratic congressional majority in 2019 carries a special significance. It represents a symbolic Restoration of the old order, something like installing Charles II on the throne in 1660 after the disastrous experiment of Oliver Cromwell's Puritan regime. It's one last chance to reassert sanity and normalcy — which in this case signifies a government operated by spooks and wizards with Ivy League degrees — before we plunge off the cliff into the bottomless troll-hole of dumbass fascism. It's time, in this worldview, for ideological enemies to set aside our differences and join in a 'Coalition of Normals,' to quote Salon contributor Bob Cesca, devoted to restoring our republic and enforcing 'presidential' conduct on the presidency. To this particular fantasy I say, with respect and affection and some lingering nostalgia: LOL whatever. This 'normal' that you speak of: When was that, and where is it to be found? The Benghazi hearings? The drone war and the secret 'kill list' that included American citizens? The birther controversy and the 'death panels'? Potential vice president Sarah Palin? The Iraq war and the 'unknown unknowns'? The Lewinsky scandal and the 'meaning of is'?"

Tom Joudrey in Slate, "The Alarming Paternalism of Today's Queer Agenda: What the anti-pornography campaign of 1980s radical feminism can teach us about queer politics today."

"@emarvelous: Fifty years ago today, two American Olympians showed what it meant to champion justice and equality. It would cost them their careers, test their sanity, and earn them the scorn of their fellow citizens. Their protest inspired multitudes and left a legacy that transcends sport." Of course, everyone knows the iconic photo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos with their fists raised at the Olympic podium. The third athlete, the Australian Peter Norman, also suffered for his solidarity with his fellows, but times have changed. I was touched by this detail: "The other monument was erected in 2005 on the campus of Smith's and Carlos's alma mater, San Jose State University in California. For this piece, the second-place podium was left empty. Norman had declined to be depicted, to allow visitors to stand in his place in solidarity with the two Americans instead."

A correction in The New York Times: "An obituary on Wednesday about Alex Spanos, the owner of the Chargers, misstated the location of Stockton, Calif., where he was born. It is about 80 miles east of San Francisco, not west" Via Fark.

"New York Review of Science Fiction #349 is the special Gardner Dozois memorial issue, downloadable for free.

I'm so old, I can't remember whether I've seen this video before or not. It seems familiar, and yet, I dunno, maybe I just never really watched it that hard before. "Help!"

15:54 GMT comment


Monday, 15 October 2018

The night's magic seems to whisper and hush

"Pointing the Finger at Jeff Bezos Worked: Jeff Bezos raised Amazon's starting wage to $15 because of pressure from workers and Bernie Sanders — showing how, even when workers and socialists are weak, we can win against the most powerful people in the world."

"Bezos Bows To Pressure On $15/hr. Keep Pressuring Him. Keep Pressuring Them All. In a move that is being widely attributed to pressure from activists and Bernie Sanders' famous Stop BEZOS Act, Amazon has announced a pay increase for all workers inside the US to $15 an hour as of next month. Which is of course a good thing. It is a good thing that the aggressively anti-union Amazon, which is owned and operated by the planet's wealthiest man Jeff Bezos, is finally taking a step in the direction of treating its workers like human beings after the sound of sharpening guillotine blades began to echo off the walls of its warehouses. But that isn't something people should be grateful for, let alone something that causes them to ease up the intensity of the fight against plutocracy. You don't thank a man for ceasing to punch you in the face, especially not while he's still stabbing you in the chest."

"Amazon jumps out ahead of its rivals and raises wages to $15: NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon, the business that upended the retailing industry and transformed the way we shop for just about everything, is jumping out ahead of the pack again, announcing a minimum wage of $15 an hour for its U.S. employees that could force other big companies to raise their pay. The online giant also said it will push Congress to increase the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25. Given Amazon's size and clout, the move Tuesday is a major victory for the $15-an-hour movement, which has organized protests of fast-food, gas station and other low-paid workers. Already, several states and cities have raised their minimum wages above the federal one."

But wait! "Amazon cuts to bonuses leads to questions about wage hike: A spokesperson for Amazon said the ending of stock vesting plans and bonuses makes compensation 'more immediate and predictable.'" Make no mistake, by highlighting the workers' action against Amazon, Senator Sanders helped push the company into raising its wages. But Amazon has reasons for preferring to raise wages rather than continue issuing stock bonuses. "Sanders said in an emailed statement in response to questions about the stock and bonus programs that he hopes Amazon's change does not end up hurting veteran workers. 'Our understanding is that the vast majority of Amazon workers are going to see wage increases, including some very significant increases as the minimum wage goes up to $15 an hour,' Sanders said. 'I would hope that as a result of Amazon's new policy, no worker, especially long-time employees, sees a reduction in total compensation. Amazon can afford to make all workers whole and should do that.'"

"'Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist': Sanders Introduces Bill to Break Up Nation's Largest Wall Street Banks [...] With Wall Street banks as big and profitable as ever ten years after their reckless criminality sparked the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would break up Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and other so-called "too big to fail" financial institutions that pose a major systemic risk to the American economy. "No financial institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk to millions of Americans or to our nation's economic well being," Sanders said in a statement. "We must end, once and for all, the scheme that is nothing more than a free insurance policy for Wall Street: the policy of 'too big to fail.':Titled "The Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act," Sanders' legislation would break up any bank that has a total exposure of more than three percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) — the equivalent to $584.5 billion in today's dollars."

"Bernie's New Internationalist Vision: Right-wing populism is advancing across the world. Bernie Sanders wants to fight back. [...] Sanders's speech yesterday, titled 'Building a Global Democratic Movement to Counter Authoritarianism' and adapted from an editorial he wrote in the Guardian last month, was a yardstick measuring his progress in this task to date. In it, he spelled out a dual opposition to authoritarianism and oligarchy. Sanders emphasized throughout his speech that economic inequality and wealth concentration are corrosive to democracy, and in turn to civil rights — a refrain we've heard from him many times in the domestic context. We must develop a global movement against unaccountable state and corporate power, which are mutually reinforcing, he said."

"Bernie Sanders saved a woman from getting hit by a car while he was out for a walk in DC, and she's very grateful."

Trump has started a new campaign lying about Medicare for All. Robert Weissman at Common Dreams had the first fact-check I saw, "Trump Is Dead Wrong on Medicare-for-All: Lies and deceptions from Trump are nothing new. Lies and deceptions from Trump about Medicare-for All are new, so it's worth correcting his USA Today column attacking such a system. One reason his attacks on Medicare-for-All are new is that he probably has supported it in the past. But whatever, there's no reason to think Trump particularly believed what he said then, or what he says now."

To the astonishment of many, "'Justice for Laquan!': Jury Finds Chicago Cop Guilty of Second-Degree Murder for Fatally Shooting Black Teen 16 Times: 'We hope that this verdict sends a clear message that police officers can no longer act with impunity against Black Americans.'"

"Facebook Accused of 'Full-Frontal Suppression of Dissent' After Independent Media Swept Up in Mass Purge: The massive shutdown affected many progressive sites devoted to covering war, police brutality, and other issues neglected by the corporate media. After Facebook announced on Thursday that it shut down and removed hundreds of pages and accounts that it vaguely accused of spreading "spam" and engaging in "inauthentic behavior," some of the individuals and organizations caught up in the social media behemoth's dragnet disputed accusations that they were violating the platform's rules and raised alarm that Facebook is using its enormous power to silence independent political perspectives that run counter to the corporate media's dominant narratives."

"Censorship crackdown? Top 10 alt-media pages newly banned by Facebook & Twitter: Sites dealing with government transparency, pages dedicated to police brutality and alternative media — take a closer look at the top ten accounts with millions of followers that were recently suspended by Twitter and Facebook."

Adam Serwer in The Atlantic, "The Supreme Court Is Headed Back to the 19th Century: The justices again appear poised to pursue a purely theoretical liberty at the expense of the lives of people of color. [...] The justices did not resurrect Dred Scott v. Sandford's antebellum declaration that a black man had no rights that a white man was bound to respect. Rather, they carefully framed their arguments in terms of limited government and individual liberty, writing opinion after opinion that allowed the white South to create an oppressive society in which black Americans had almost no rights at all. Their commitment to freedom in the abstract, and only in the abstract, allowed a brutal despotism to take root in Southern soil. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court today is similarly blinded by a commitment to liberty in theory that ignores the reality of how Americans' lives are actually lived. Like the Supreme Court of that era, the conservatives on the Court today are opposed to discrimination in principle, and indifferent to it in practice. Chief Justice John Roberts's June 2018 ruling to uphold President Donald Trump's travel ban targeting a list of majority-Muslim countries, despite the voluminous evidence that it had been conceived in animus, showed that the muddled doctrines of the post-Reconstruction period retain a stubborn appeal. [...] The lesson of the post-Reconstruction Supreme Court is that a determined Court majority can prove stubbornly resistant to short-term swings of political fortune. Even if Democrats win the next election cycle, and the one after that, an enduring conservative majority on the Supreme Court will have the power to shatter any hard-won liberal legislative victory on the anvil of judicial review. It will be able to reverse decades-old precedents that secure fundamental rights. It will further entrench the rules of a society in which justice skews toward the wealthy, and the lives of those without means can be destroyed by a chance encounter with law enforcement. It will do all these things and more in the name of a purely theoretical freedom, which most Americans will never be able to afford to experience."

"Brazil's Bolsonaro-Led Far Right Wins a Victory Far More Sweeping and Dangerous Than Anyone Predicted. Its Lessons Are Global. FOR THE PAST THIRTY YEARS, Congressman Jair Bolsonaro was a fringe extremist in Brazilian politics, known mostly for outlandish, deliberately inflammatory quotes in which he paid homage to the most notorious torturers of the 1964-1985 military regime, constantly heralded the 1964 coup as a 'defense of democracy,' told a female socialist colleague in Congress that she was too ugly to 'deserve' his rape, announced that he'd rather learn that his son died in a car accident than was gay, and said he conceived a daughter after having four sons only due to a 'moment of weakness.' [...] As a result of last night's truly stunning national election in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro has been instantly transformed from marginalized clown into the overwhelmingly dominant force in the country's political life. Bolsonaro himself fell just short of winning the 50% needed to win the presidency without a run-off. But given the margin of victory, he is the overwhelming favorite to win on October 28 against the second-place candidate, ex-São Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad. Haddad is the previously unknown, hand-picked successor anointed by Lula, the ex-two-term President who had been leading all polls until he was convicted on dubious corruption charges and quickly imprisoned so as to bar his candidacy, then silenced by Brazil's right-wing judiciary with a series of remarkable prior restraint censorship orders barring all media outlets from interviewing him."

I'm so old I can remember when if a reporter for The Washington Post, or even a lesser paper, were murdered, or suspected of being murdered, under circumstances like Jamal Khashoggi's, it would be a top headline for at least two or three days.

For comic relief, a reminder of what it means to be one of the "smartest guys in the room. "Leading Member of Global Elite Pens Cartoonish Blog About Driving Through Shithole Country," starring Larry Summers.

Public Citizen: "How the New NAFTA Text Measures Against the Essential Changes We Have Demanded to Stop NAFTA's Ongoing Damage: Text of a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was made public on September 30. This initial analysis measures the released text against the changes that Public Citizen has long demanded that are necessary to stop NAFTA's ongoing damage. Almost one million American jobs have been government-certified as lost to NAFTA, with more outsourced to Mexico every week. New NAFTA Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) attacks on environmental and health policies are being regularly filed after $392 million has been seized from taxpayers to date by corporations using NAFTA's ISDS regime. The text includes key improvements for which we have long advocated, as well as the addition of damaging terms found in other agreements that we have long opposed. It also reveals that more work is needed, especially with respect to ensuring the swift and certain enforcement of labor standards and environmental standards."

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party conference speech in full [...] We have also been raising more money for our party. But not a penny of our funds came from a dodgy donor or a shady businessmen's club. Our money comes from hundreds of thousands of people across our country who believe in what we stand for. So I don't have to play tennis with an oligarch to keep our party organisation running. Labour trades in hope for the many, not favours for the few. [...] You may have noticed that not everyone is entirely happy about all this. It turns out that the billionaires who own the bulk of the British press don't like us one little bit. Now it could be because we're going to clamp down on tax dodging. Or it may be because we don't fawn over them at white tie dinners and cocktail parties. Or it could even be because Tom Watson has been campaigning for the second part of the Leveson media inquiry to be set up - something the last Prime Minister promised, but failed to deliver. We must, and we will, protect the freedom of the press to challenge unaccountable power."

Max Blumenthal, "How an American Anthropologist Tied to US Regime-Change Proxies Became the MSM's Man in Nicaragua: It might seem cavalier for an academically credentialed anthropologist to assert political influence on the population he is supposed to be studying; however, Goette-Luciak's activities fit within a long tradition." One guy who only talks to one side is your "expert". "MANAGUA, NICARAGUA — (Investigation) The Guardian, The Washington Post, the BBC and NPR have assigned an American anthropologist with no previous journalistic experience to cover the crisis in Nicaragua. The novice reporter, named Carl David Goette-Luciak, has published pieces littered with falsehoods that reinforce the opposition's narrative promoting regime change while relying almost entirely on anti-Sandinista sources."

I'm betting this collusion doesn't get the "Russia" treatment: "Israeli firm pitched social media manipulation to Trump campaign — report: New York Times publishes proposals from Psy-Group, including creating fake accounts to target would-be Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz backers."

RIP: "Peggy Sue Gerron, inspiration for Buddy Holly song, dies in Lubbock," at 78. She also was a locally celebrated ham radio operator, and became the first female licensed plumber in California.

Great episode of Citations Needed, "'Populism' - The Media's Favorite Catch-All Smear for the Left: But what exactly is populism? How is a term that allegedly applies to Hugo Chávez and Bernie Sanders also casually used to describe fascists and far-right forces? Under the thin, ideology-flattening definition of populism, the term is more often than not used as a euphemism for demagogic cults of personality and fascism and as the ultimate horseshoe theory reduction to lump together movements for equity and justice on the Left with those of revanchism, nationalism and explicit racism on the Right. We are joined on this episode by writer and historian Thomas Frank."

Vincent Chatworth on Facebook: "Kamala Harris was one of the driving forces behind #SESTA and #FOSTA, the legislation that shut down the websites that sex workers use to feed their families and stay safe. Since the shut down of #backpage and other websites, screening clients had gotten way more difficult. The websites we use to report abusers have had to change to the point that they are now useless to us. So many women had to go back out on the street after BP shut down and just in the past couple months, two sex workers (that we know of) have been murdered in Seattle. [...] Kamala Harris was THE prosecutor who went after BP before she was elected to the senate. She was the driving force behind SESTA/FOSTA but kept her involvement very hush hush to the point that she didn't even put her name as a co sponsor up until it was almost done. That bill made internet platforms criminally liable for the things it's users write AND gives the government and law enforcement the power to shut down and prosecute the owners of any website they deem to be 'promoting human trafficking'. The definition of suspected human trafficking is so vague, that it basically allows them to shut down whatever they want without due process. The two top industries that funded her campaign are lawyers/law firms and tv/movies/music. Time warner was her top contributor. These are two industries which stand to profit HEAVILY from SESTA. Lawyers get more work because there are more people being arrested w much more serious charges. Companies like Time Warner and Comcast have already gotten a huge boost from the demise of #netneutrality (basically they can choose to slow down your internet speeds if you visit a website that they do not own making it much harder for independent content creators to be seen). With the passage of SESTA/FOSTA, internet providers now have even more control through that hand of Senator like Harris."

Sean McElwee tweeted: A team of intrepid economists just perpetrated a giant version of the Sokal Hoax, call it Sokal Cubed. They proved that for $1,500 an hour, economic models can be manipulated into defending literally anything, including anti-competitive corporate mergers." The article, from Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott at Pro Publica, is "These Professors Make More Than a Thousand Bucks an Hour Peddling Mega-Mergers: The economists are leveraging their academic prestige with secret reports justifying corporate concentration. Their predictions are often wrong and consumers pay the price." Imagine my surprise at seeing this: "ONE EVENING IN 1977, University of Chicago law professor Richard Posner hosted a colleague from the economics department and a young law student named Andrew Rosenfield at his apartment in Hyde Park. The leading scholar of the 'Law and Economics' movement, Posner wanted to apply rigorous math and economics concepts to the real world." So many evil things can be traced back to these people.

But I missed Adam Liptak's "An Exit Interview With Richard Posner, Judicial Provocateur" last year when it came out upon Posner's retirement, and it does refer to a phenomenon I have noticed and remarked on before — the increasingly more sensible and less nasty positions Posner seemed to be taking of late. He doesn't go into it in much depth, but he certainly seems to have had a change of heart late in life. "'About six months ago,' Judge Posner said, 'I awoke from a slumber of 35 years.' He had suddenly realized, he said, that people without lawyers are mistreated by the legal system, and he wanted to do something about it."

Shamus Khan tweeted: "Thread on my thoughts re: elites: I think elite schooling can help develop real talents in people. But here's the thing: the idea that those talents are 'inherent' vs 'cultivated as a result of investments' is where I take serious issue. The consequences are really important" Now go read the thread.

For a little background on what kind of a frat Kavanaugh belonged to, "The frat barred from Yale for 5 years is back — and women are saying they warn one another to stay away: Yale's Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity was barred for five years after a profane video of brothers chanting about women, rape, and consent emerged online."

"'That's a hell of an act. What do you call it?' Fuzzy-edged though differences between generations are, surely one difference between people of my own age and those born after 9/11 is their experience of 'security.' I never went through a metal detector in school; never in my wildest dreams would I have thought this country would come to that. And as for airports! Anyhow, this Zeitgeist Watch anecdote that a friend threw over the transom starts out being about security. But there's a plot twist!"

"Americans Strongly Dislike PC Culture: Youth isn't a good proxy for support of political correctness, and race isn't either. [...] Whites are ever so slightly less likely than average to believe that political correctness is a problem in the country: 79 percent of them share this sentiment. Instead, it is Asians (82 percent), Hispanics (87percent), and American Indians (88 percent) who are most likely to oppose political correctness. [...] The one part of the standard narrative that the data partially affirm is that African Americans are most likely to support political correctness. But the difference between them and other groups is much smaller than generally supposed: Three quarters of African Americans oppose political correctness. This means that they are only four percentage points less likely than whites, and only five percentage points less likely than the average, to believe that political correctness is a problem."

"How Bill Clinton Remade the Democratic Party by Abandoning Unions: An Arkansas Story: Much has been made in the recent campaign about the alienation of working-class whites from the Democratic Party. Michael Pierce shows this is a path long traveled; Bill Clinton undermined the budding multi-racial labor coalition in 1970s Arkansas. In a horrendous election night for the Hillary Clinton, the only bright spot was Nevada, where Culinary Workers Union Local 226's massive get-out-the-vote operation ensured that the state's six electoral votes went into the Democratic column. Not only did the local get their Hispanic, Asian, African-American, and white members to the polls but its sophisticated operation also rallied other members of Nevada's diverse working-class. In much of the rest of the country, the working-class voters — especially white ones — stayed home, alienated from both a Democratic candidate who made little effort to address their economic concerns and a Republican candidate who stirred up hate. Class-based union-led mobilization operations like the one in Nevada have become rare, but they were central to the Democratic Party's successes from the 1930s through the 1980s even in what are now deep red states like Arkansas. The irony is that the decline of such mobilization efforts can be traced back to Bill Clinton and his activities in 1970s Arkansas, when he and his allies began undermining the labor movement and its efforts to educate working-class voters and get them to the polls on behalf of the Democratic Party. Not only did Bill Clinton refuse to support efforts to strengthen unions at a time when local companies like Walmart and Tyson Foods were becoming more aggressive in their 'union avoidance' methods, but he also began to bait the labor movement to gain electoral advantage. He would ride his Arkansas strategies into the White House in 1992, transforming the Democratic Party along the way."

I'm not sure whether I linked this in 2014 when it first appeared, but it seems apropos of the moment and in my continuing mission to remind people of just what a disaster the Obama-Geithner administration was for us, here's Matt Stoller's review of Geithner's book Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises, "The Con-Artist Wing of the Democratic Party: The most consequential event of this young century has been the financial crisis. This is a catchall term that means three different things: an economic housing boom and bust, a financial meltdown, and a political response in which bailouts were showered upon the very institutions that were responsible for the chaos. We will be seeing the fallout for decades. Today, in Europe, far-right fascist parties are on the rise, climbing the unhappiness that the crisis-induced austerity has unleashed. China is looking away from the West as a model of development. In the US, Congress is more popular than certain sexually transmitted infections* but little else, and all institutions of national power are losing their legitimacy. At the same time, the financial system did not, in the end, collapse, and there was no repeat of the Great Depression. [...] I'll address both of these, since they are intertwined. For as I read the book, and compared the book with what was written at the time and what was written afterwards, I noticed something odd, and perhaps too bold to say in polite company. As much as I really wanted to hear what Geithner had to say, I quickly realized that I wasn't getting his actual side of the story. The book is full of narratives, facts, and statements that are, well, untrue, or at the very least, highly misleading. Despite its length, there are also serious omissions that suggest an intention to mislead, as well as misrepresentations of his critics' arguments. As I went further into Geithner's narrative, even back into his college days, I got the sense that I was seeing only a brilliantly scrubbed surface, that there were nooks and crannies hidden away. It struck me that I was reading the memoirs of an incredibly savvy and well-bred grifter, the kind that the American WASP establishment of financiers, foundation officials, and spies produces in such rich abundance. I realize this is a bold claim, because it's an indictment not just of Geithner but also of those who worked for him at Treasury and at the Federal Reserve, as well as indictment of the Clinton-era finance team of Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, Michael Barr, Jason Furman, and other accomplices. That's why this review is somewhat long, as it's an attempt to back up such a broad and sweeping claim. I will also connect it to what Geithner is doing now: working in the same kind of financial business that made Mitt Romney a near billionaire."

But lest we forget, the Democratic Party was deciding to enable the Republicans just as the right-wing was putting forward it's radical plans to destroy democracy, "The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement" is an old document that is chilling to read now. "Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. All of our constructive energies will be dedicated to the creation of our own institutions."

Umar Haque, "The Big Crunch: Why Predatory Capitalism is Exploding into Fascism, in Every Corner of the Globe: I've often said that the rise of global fascism would be the defining event of our adult lifetimes — and, understandably, I guess, considering Americans and their need to feel superior, I was often met with skepticism, if not outright derision. Yet here it is. Like dominoes: America — where genuine Nazis now sit in government — in Italy, Poland, Turkey, Hungary. Neo-Nazis marching in Germany. Even in Sweden, a kind of absurd, pathetic extremist nationalism is surging."

Howard Zinn, October 21, 2005, "Don't Despair about the Supreme Court [...] It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds. Those rights only come alive when citizens organize, protest, demonstrate, strike, boycott, rebel, and violate the law in order to uphold justice. The distinction between law and justice is ignored by all those Senators--Democrats and Republicans--who solemnly invoke as their highest concern "the rule of law." The law can be just; it can be unjust. It does not deserve to inherit the ultimate authority of the divine right of the king. The Constitution gave no rights to working people: no right to work less than twelve hours a day, no right to a living wage, no right to safe working conditions. Workers had to organize, go on strike, defy the law, the courts, the police, create a great movement which won the eight-hour day, and caused such commotion that Congress was forced to pass a minimum wage law, and Social Security, and unemployment insurance. The Brown decision on school desegregation did not come from a sudden realization of the Supreme Court that this is what the Fourteenth Amendment called for. After all, it was the same Fourteenth Amendment that had been cited in the Plessy case upholding racial segregation. It was the initiative of brave families in the South--along with the fear by the government, obsessed with the Cold War, that it was losing the hearts and minds of colored people all over the world--that brought a sudden enlightenment to the Court. [...] No Supreme Court, liberal or conservative, will stop the war in Iraq, or redistribute the wealth of this country, or establish free medical care for every human being. Such fundamental change will depend, the experience of the past suggests, on the actions of an aroused citizenry, demanding that the promise of the Declaration of Independence--an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--be fulfilled."

"Inside Uzbekistan's beautiful, rarely-seen metro: After a 40-year photo ban, images finally reveal Tashkent's symbolic underground."

Good Omens - Official Teaser Trailer

Van Morrison, "Moondance"

01:53 GMT comment


Sunday, 30 September 2018

The streets are fields that never die

It started like this: "Dianne Feinstein Withholding Brett Kavanaugh Document From Fellow Judiciary Committee Democrats: DEMOCRATS ON THE Senate Judiciary Committee have privately requested to view a Brett Kavanaugh-related document in possession of the panel's top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, but the senior California senator has so far refused, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation." It soon transpired that a woman said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when she was in high school. It then instantly developed that the GOP just happened to have a letter signed by 65 women who purported to know him then and claimed he had always been a perfect gentleman with them. You know, I went to a public high school and for one year I went to an all-girls school, and I don't think I could find 65 women I knew from high school. Brett Kavanaugh went to Georgetown Prep, a boys' school. (Kavanaugh also recently claimed to have grown up in a rough neighborhood. That would be Bethesda, Maryland, which never had any rough neighborhoods.) Atrios has the next ridiculous chapter.

Yes, okay, Kavanaugh cemented his reputation as a serial perjurer and should be impeached. (If you need some catharsis, I recommend Sam Seder's interview with Judy Gold on Friday's Majority Report.) Meanwhile....

"Buried in an Overloaded and Terrible News Cycle: The House of Representatives Just Voted to Expand the PATRIOT Act. Nonetheless, it passed 297 to 124, clearing the 2/3 threshold it would have needed to pass under suspension by 16 votes. Republicans voted 202 to 29 in favor of the bill. Democrats split evenly: 95 in favor and 95 against."

"With Nation Transfixed By Kavanaugh Monstrosity, House GOP Votes to Give Rich Another $3 Trillion in Tax Cuts: 'This is yet another shameful tax law that would swindle working families and siphon even more funding from the programs that help our communities thrive.' [...] Three Democrats— Reps. Conor Lamb (Penn.), Jacky Rosen (Nev.), and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) — voted for the GOP-crafted measure, which would permanently extend the individual tax cuts under the current Republican tax law."

Voter turnout in New York was enormous and though Cynthia Nixon lost, she did get more votes than Cuomo won with in the previous election. Sadly, Zephyr Teachout also lost in her bid to be State AG. Curiously, there were many "Reports of Widespread Voter Suppression in New York State Democratic Primary" and we wonder if that explains the results, since we're not hearing it from Cuomo voters. But the good news is that most of the right-wing Dems who'd been caucusing with the Republicans (IDC) lost their seats, so Cuomo may have a harder time preventing progressive change in the future.

If you ever doubted that Michael Bloomberg is a creep (though I don't see how you could), he's obviously afraid Bernie will win this time and is already making noises about exploring a presidential bid himself. For Liberty, Fraternity, Plutocracy, "Bloomberg would be less than a month from turning 79 when inaugurated. Also $50 billion is $50 million times 1000. If he runs I do expect him to become the darling of reactionary centrists and Third Way doofi, who collectively make up 2.72% of the U.S. population and 38.67% of all elite media pundts." Only a few months younger than Sanders, too. He threatened a third-party run last time if Sanders got the Democratic nomination. He might actually do it this time and grab the H8% vote.

David Dayen, "The Fake Public Comments Supporting A Bank Merger Are Coming From Inside The House: COMMENTS SUBMITTED TO a top banking regulator supporting a 2015 merger between OneWest Bank and CIT Bank were attributed to people who never sent them, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and reviewed by The Intercept. The fake comments appear to be tied directly to Joseph Otting, the head of the regulatory agency himself. The documents reviewed by The Intercept show that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the main bank regulator for nationally chartered banks, knew about the fake comments at the time, before it approved the merger. But the OCC appears to have done no meaningful investigation of the matter, and even cited public support for the merger when approving it." So, "the public" is his sock puppet.

"Sen. Ted Cruz Calls Rival Beto O'Rourke 'Quick' To Blame Dallas Cop Who Killed Botham Jean. Beto says the officer who seems to have misplaced her own apartment, and instantly killing the tenant of the one she was trying to get into when he opened the door, should be fired. This sounds fair considering how unprofessional her behavior was, but Cruz has a novel approach to employee termination policy: "'The individual ... was at home in his apartment and found himself murdered,' Cruz said, using a bizarre choice of words. Guyger 'may have been in the wrong. She's facing legal proceedings, and if a jury of her peers concludes that she behaved wrongly, then she'll face the consequences.'" The jury can decide whether she goes to jail, but I've never heard of anyone getting a jury of their peers to decide whether they should be fired - that responsibility is in the hands of your bosses, not your peers.

"The Senseless Legal Precedent That Enables Wrongful Convictions: A federal appeals court has ruled that prosecutors can withhold evidence that may prove defendants innocent before they plead guilty. [...] Prosecutors are obligated under what's known as the Brady rule to disclose any evidence in the government's possession that may benefit a defendant's case. The rule takes its name from the landmark 1963 case Brady v. Maryland, where the Supreme Court held that withholding exculpatory evidence violated a defendant's right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. But the lower courts are divided on whether that also applies to the plea-bargaining process. The Supreme Court itself has never ruled on the matter." But how can they be divided on whether they should proceed with a prosecution when they aren't reasonably sure they have the guilty party in the first place - especially when there may be exculpatory evidence? What kind of thinking is even going on there?

Chris Hayes and Michael Moore, Town Hall in Flint Michigan

On The Majority Report,
• Sammy interviewed Dday on Tim Geithner: The Villain Who Protected Wall Street, w/ David Dayen - MR Live - 9/12/18
How Fascism Works, w/ Jason Stanley
Crashed: How A Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World, w/ Adam Tooze
Temp: How the Temp Economy Took Over America w/ Louis Hyman - MR Live - 9/25/18

The Michael Brooks Show:
Brazil's Fascist Right & the Attack on Lula

Did I mention Deficit Owls? They're not hawks (who want lots of austerity), and they're not doves (who want a little less austerity). They are wise.

What Modern Money Theory is NOT Saying

Over 150 Democrats are introducing the Expand Social Security Caucus (video)

I don't have a pull-quote from this one, but Matt Taibbi talked to Noam Chomsky, and some of you will be happy to know it's text, not video.

"Labour To Vote On Bringing Back 'Clause Four' Pledge To Nationalise Industries: Labour is set to vote on restoring the party's historic Clause Four pledge to nationalise key industries following a grassroots campaign by activists, HuffPost can reveal. The commitment to 'common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange' was famously axed by Tony Blair when he created New Labour in the 1990s. But local constituency parties have now tabled motions for its restoration that will guarantee the issue appears on the agenda at the party conference."

"Europe Just Voted to Wreck the Internet, Spying on Everything and Censoring Vast Swathes of Our Communications." I read this and just thought, "No, that's crazy, it can't be true." But I suppose it can. Not sure how to live with this one.

"Rejected Applicant Sues Law Schools for Violating Magna Carta [...] According to the complaint, the plaintiff applied to at least 24 law schools, or tried to, but was not admitted to any. While there may well have been other reasons for that, it was enough that Plaintiff had refused to take the LSAT, which most if not all schools require. [...] What exactly did the defendants do wrong, you are probably asking. Well, first, the ABA has apparently broken a promise it made to Eleanor Roosevelt in 1947 to the effect that it and its members would comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Which was adopted in 1948, but it could have promised her before that.) Beyond that — not that anything else is really necessary — Plaintiff alleges that not admitting him to law school constituted various torts including trespass, 'trespass on the case,' intentional infliction of emotional distress, bad faith, trover (!), and the best of the formal causes of action, 'failure to provide a Republican form of government.'"

@MMFlint has a new movie out, and Glenn Greenwald reviews it at The Intercept. "Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9 Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise: Fahrenheit 11/9 the title of Michael Moore's new film that opens today in theaters, is an obvious play on the title of his wildly profitable Bush-era Fahrenheit 11/9 but also a reference to the date of Donald J. Trump's 2016 election victory. Despite that, Trump himself is a secondary figure in Moore's film, which is far more focused on the far more relevant and interesting questions of what — and, critically, who — created the climate in which someone like Trump could occupy the Oval Office. For that reason alone, Moore's film is highly worthwhile regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum. The single most significant defect in U.S. political discourse is the monomaniacal focus on Trump himself, as though he is the cause — rather than the by-product and symptom — of decades-old systemic American pathologies. Personalizing and isolating Trump as the principal, even singular, source of political evil is obfuscating and thus deceitful. By effect, if not design, it distracts the population's attention away from the actual architects of their plight. [...] Embedded in the instruction of those who want to you focus exclusively on Trump is an insidious and toxic message: namely, removing Trump will cure, or at least mitigate, the acute threats he poses. That is a fraud, and Moore knows it. Unless and until the roots of these pathologies are identified and addressed, we are certain to have more Trumps: in fact, more effective and more dangerous Trumps, along with more potent Dutertes, and more Brexits, and more Bolsonaros and more LePens."

RIP: "Marty Balin, musician and Jefferson Airplane co-founder, dies aged 76." This seems like a good time for a musical interlude, and a pretty song: "Today".

RIP: "Bassist Max Bennett Dies at 90: His varied career included stints with Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and the L.A. Express."

Amazingly, this article appeared at Bloomberg: "Unions Did Great Things for the Working Class: Strengthening them could blunt inequality and wage stagnation."

"L.A. Police Union Bought Newspaper Stock, Used Leverage to Try to Fire Editorial Staffers It Accused of Being Anti-Police" — Ted Rall thinks he's found out why The Los Angeles Times fired him.

From the NYT Opinion page, "The Truth in Trump's Law-Enforcement Hypocrisy: As a public defender, I'm not mad at how well Manafort and Cohen have been treated. I just want that same treatment for my clients. [...] Needless to say, Mr. Trump's apparent justice renaissance has nothing to do with how our criminal justice system actually operates, and has always operated, for communities of color and people living in poverty, the vast majority of those who face arrest and prosecution in this country. No, he is outraged by how the system treats his friends. Still, it would be a mistake to dismiss his outrage over the government's ability to turn a person's life upside down as mere hypocrisy. I understand President Trump's outrage. It is remarkable that people, presumed innocent, are locked up before being convicted of any crime. It is deeply unfair that mere accusations can lead to devastating, lifelong consequences. It is alarming that, in a system theoretically built around transparency and truth seeking, police and prosecutors have such outsize power to surveil, search, detain, bully, coerce and nearly destroy a person without producing evidence sufficient to secure a conviction."

Dean Baker, "NYT Is Badly Mistaken: China Has Many Many Options in Trade War with Trump: The NYT erred badly with an article that told readers, "China Once Looked Tough on Trade: Now Its Options Are Dwindling." The article claims that China is running out of ways to retaliate against Trump's tariffs because it imports so much less from the United States than the United States imports from China. In fact, China has many other ways to retaliate. The most effective would probably be to stop paying attention to patent and copyright claims of US corporations. It can encourage domestic Chinese companies to make millions of copies of Windows-based computers, without paying a penny to Microsoft. It can do the same with iPhones and Apple. In fact, it can encourage Chinese companies to export these unauthorized copies all over the world, destroying Microsoft's and Apple's markets in third countries. It can do the same with fertilizers and pesticides, making Monsanto and other chemical giants unhappy. And, it can do this with Pfizer and Merck's drugs, flooding the world with low-cost generic drugs. Even a short period of generic availability may do permanent damage to these companies' markets."

I'd been wondering where Hillbots were getting claims of the Sanders campaign keeping lots of illegal funds, and now I know: Hillary Clinton Supporters Filed A Complaint Against Bernie Sanders — And Lost [...] The complaint alleged that Sanders, an independent, and his campaign treasurer, Susan Jackson, accepted excessive contributions. Under Title 52 of federal campaign finance rules, no individual can make a contribution to a candidate in excess of $2,700. The FEC's decision was addressed to Brad Woodhouse, founder of the American Democracy Legal Fund and president of the pro-Clinton super PAC Correct the Record. Both the ADLF and the super PAC were founded by prominent Clinton supporter and Media Matters founder David Brock. 'On April 20, 2017, the Federal Election Commission reviewed the allegations in your complaint received on April 8, 2016, and on the basis of the information provided in your complaint, and information provided by Bernie 2016 and Susan Jackson in her official capacity as treasurer, the Commission voted to dismiss the allegation that the Committee violated 52 U.S.C. § 30116(f),'" It's even funnier when you read how tiny the amounts were - it looks like a few people lost track of how many $27 contributions they'd sent in and sent one or two more than they should have. The campaign sent it back as required by law, so no big deal. It's hard to believe the Clinton campaign could be so petty.

"Aaron Maté is a Beast! This statement was admiringly blurted out by political vlogger Jamarl Thomas on his program The Progressive Soapbox last week. What he was talking about was a recent interview that Aaron Maté, producer, journalist and on-air talent at Paul Jay's Real News Network, did with veteran journalist James Risen, currently of The Intercept. What did they discuss? The jailing of Reality Winner — Risen's source for a leaked NSA document about potential Russian digital interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential primary." Risen was perfectly comfortable with talking about how ridiculous it was that Winner was jailed — without any trial — for exposing what should just have been an ordinary public service advisory in any case. But the moment Maté started discussing the actual content of the material Winner released, Risen got his back up. Now, you can say it's not surprising that there's a bit of nervousness about the topic after The Intercept's mishandling of publishing the information in such a way that it was they who exposed Winner by publishing raw code from her communication without redaction, but that didn't seem to be Risen's problem. Maté wanted to talk about just how small a bombshell Winner's leak really was, nowhere in proportion to the reaction it got. Curiously, Risen was so offended by the idea that Winner's leak was only the flimsiest evidence that a phishing expedition from a Gmail account was evidence of a Russian plot that he threatened to terminate the interview in a huff. Do watch the video, it's brow-furrowing, and Maté deserves the kudos for his handling of Risen.

David Dayen in In These Times, "Retrospectives of the Financial Crisis Are Leaving Out the Most Important Part — Its Victims: Because I'm a masochist, I've read as many retrospectives as I could about the 10th anniversary of the fateful failure of Lehman Brothers, the emblematic event of the financial crisis. And I can't help but notice a gaping hole in the narratives. I've heard from Lew Ranieri, the Salomon Brothers trader who invented the mortgage bond in the 1980s, and now regrets it. I've heard bailout architects Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and Tim Geithner justify their beliefs in doing whatever it took to save the banks. I've endured you-are-there narratives about bankers and policymakers racing to rescue the financial system. Wonks, pundits, and reporters have all offered thoughts on the crisis' origins, the response, and its ultimate meaning. It seems the only people not consulted for their perspective were those most powerfully affected by the crisis' impact — the millions of families who suffered foreclosure and eviction."

"Neoliberal epidemics: the spread of austerity, obesity, stress and inequality [...] In our new book, we draw on an extensive body of scientific literature to assess the health effects of three decades of neoliberal policies. Focusing on the social determinants of health — the conditions of life and work that make it relatively easy for some people to lead long and healthy lives, while it is all but impossible for others — we show that there are four interconnected neoliberal epidemics: austerity, obesity, stress, and inequality. They are neoliberal because they are associated with or worsened by neoliberal policies. They are epidemics because they are observable on such an international scale and have been transmitted so quickly across time and space that if they were biological contagions they would be seen as of epidemic proportions."

"Deregulation of Wall Street Is Plain and Simple Corruption [...] These sweeping attacks on financial and consumer protections won't make America greater. They'll make it crater, setting the stage for the next Wall Street crisis and very likely another round of taxpayer-funded bank bailouts."

Historical Note: Let's not have any more mythology about who gave us CHIPS. March 14, 1997, in The New York Times, after Bill Clinton had gutted the much better AFDC/TANF provision, "Hatch Joins Kennedy to Back a Health Program: Senator Orrin G. Hatch, a conservative Republican, today embraced a major Democratic effort to provide health insurance for half of the nation's 10 million uninsured children, saying he would become the chief sponsor of the legislation. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, wrote much of the bill, which would increase the Federal tax on tobacco products to finance health care for children."

"25 Years Of Wired Predictions: Why The Future Never Arrives: To write the history of how our culture thinks about tomorrow, one obsessed academic read every issue of Wired in chronological order. Here are his findings."

Someone wrote an update of Phil Ochs' "Love me, I'm a Liberal."

The Doors, "The Crystal Ship" and "Light My Fire" w/ Dick Clark

21:02 GMT comment


Thursday, 13 September 2018

I'd love to turn you on

"I Wrote Some of the Stolen Memos That Brett Kavanaugh Lied to the Senate About: He should be impeached, not elevated. [...] No, Kavanaugh should be removed because he was repeatedly asked under oath as part of his 2004 and 2006 confirmation hearings for his position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit about whether he had received such information from Miranda, and each time he falsely denied it."

Chuck Schumer is a menace who should be removed from leadership immediately. David Dayen describes the idiot Senator from New York's latest "deal-making" at The American Prospect, "Schumer Surrenders: The Democrats' Senate leader lets Mitch McConnell pack the courts. [...] None of this has anything to do with how liberal Schumer or his caucus either is or isn't. It's all about tactics. In the minority, McConnell made life miserable for Senate Democrats, minimizing their output. Schumer has simply not stepped up with the same aggression. As a result, McConnell has been able to outmaneuver his counterpart repeatedly, with wide-ranging consequences for all Americans. Where have you gone, Harry Reid? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you."

"Nancy Pelosi Promises That Democrats Will Handcuff The Democratic Agenda If They Retake The House: IN THE FIRST outline of the legislative agenda House Democrats would pursue if they take the majority in November, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has made the public a big promise, vowing to handcuff her party's progressive ambitions, including in the event that a Democratic president succeeds Donald Trump, by resurrecting the 'pay-go' rule that mandates all new spending is offset with budget cuts or tax increases. Along the way, she is playing into the hands of Republican strategists eager to warn voters that Democrats' top priority is raising taxes. Forcing budget offsets for every piece of legislation would make it more difficult for Democrats to pass a host of liberal agenda items, from 'Medicare for All' to tuition-free public college. It continues a trend of Democrats caring far more about deficits than Republicans, constraining the activist impulses of liberal policymakers while giving conservatives free rein to blow giant holes in the tax code."

"Progressives Denounce Pelosi for Obsession With 'Economically Illiterate and Politically Insane' Pay-Go Rule: 'Instead of vowing budget chastity, Democrats should be articulating an agenda that excites voters so that they can unleash the full power of the public purse on their behalf.'"

"Andrew Gillum scores stunning victory in Democratic nomination for Florida governor: The progressive mayor of Tallahassee overwhelmed his rivals in Miami-Dade, Broward and Duval counties -- all key battlegrounds. TALLAHASSEE — Democrat Andrew Gillum rode a surge of liberal support from young people and African-Americans to a stunning primary victory Tuesday and the historic opportunity to be the first black governor in Florida's history." Some of his tweets in the ensuing week, however, have taken the shine off.

"Ayanna Pressley defeats 10-term incumbent Mike Capuano in Democratic primary in Massachusetts: It's another upset for insurgent left, which has had its biggest successes when people of color embrace progressive ideology. [...] She appears to have done it by turning out young people and people of color, neither of whom typically vote in party primaries. With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, Pressley had 58.4 percent, or 50,917 votes, to Capuano's 41.6 percent, or 36,234 votes."

"Democratic Party Mailer Associating Cynthia Nixon With Anti-Semitism Backfires: On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, just days before New York's gubernatorial primary on Thursday, a mailer sent by the New York Democratic Party misrepresenting Cynthia Nixon's views on Israel and accusing her of ignoring anti-Semitism has inspired widespread condemnation, forcing Governor Cuomo to assert that he did not approve it." Claims from Cuomo that he had nothing to do with it are hard to believe. Remembering a much earlier Cuomo campaign against Ed Koch, the Majority Report crew reversed and revised their slogan to, "Vote the Homo, not Cuomo."

"Bernie Sanders introduces 'Stop BEZOS Act' in the Senate: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday introduced a Senate bill — the "Stop BEZOS Act" — that would require large employers such as Amazon.com and Walmart to pay the government for food stamps, public housing, Medicaid and other federal assistance received by their workers. The bill's name is a dig at Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos and stands for 'Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act.' It would establish a 100 percent tax on government benefits received by workers at companies with at least 500 employees, the former presidential candidate said Wednesday. "In other words, the taxpayers of this country would no longer be subsidizing the wealthiest people in this country who are paying their workers inadequate wages," Sanders said at a news conference announcing the bill. "Despite low unemployment, we end up having tens of millions of Americans working at wages that are just so low that they can't adequately take care of their families.""

"LePage files court-ordered plan to expand Medicaid in Maine — and asks feds to reject it: The LePage administration complied with a court order Tuesday and finally submitted required documents to the federal government to expand Medicaid to 70,000 Mainers — but there's a catch. Gov. Paul LePage, an expansion opponent, is asking federal officials to deny the application. [...] Voters approved Medicaid expansion by a 59 to 41 percent margin in November 2017, and the law passed at the ballot box required the state to file a State Plan Amendment in April. But the LePage administration has refused to implement it. The expansion, a key component of the Affordable Care Act, would provide health insurance for low-income Mainers earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty limit, or $34,638 for a family of three and $16,753 for a single person. Expansion has been approved in 34 states."

"Roy Oliver: White police officer found guilty of murdering unarmed black teenager Jordan Edwards: It is extremely rare for police officers to be tried and convicted of murder for shootings that occurred while they are on duty." I imagine this case was immeasurably helped by the fact that Oliver's partner would not confirm Oliver's defense.

"Baltimore Cops Carried Toy Guns to Plant on People They Shot, Trial Reveals: One officer involved in the city's massive corruption scandal said officers kept the replicas 'in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them.'"

Zaid Jilani, "Republicans Who Oppose Teacher Protests Are Losing Their Primaries, Even In Red States: WEST VIRGINIA REPUBLICAN state Sen. Robert Karnes felt pretty confident about opposing the longest teachers strike in the state's history. A longtime opponent of the state's teachers unions, he told a local newspaper that he wasn't worried about any political ramifications of the strike. 'I can't say that it will have zero effect, but I don't think it'll have any significant effect because, more often than not, they probably weren't voting on the Republican side of the aisle anyways,' he said of the state's teachers. Essentially, Karnes bet against his constituents' interest in education funding. And they called him on it. Karnes lost his May primary election, winning only 3,749 votes compared to Republican Del. Bill Hamilton's 5,787 votes. Hamilton was an opponent of right-to-work laws and expressed sympathy for the teachers strike. He secured the support of labor groups like the West Virginia AFL-CIO and the West Virginia Education Association Political Action Committee; altogether, organized labor contributed around $10,000 to his campaign." And similar stories in Kentucky and Oklahoma.

"'Cruel and vicious': Palestinian officials condemn Trump's closure of DC office: Palestinian leaders have condemned a decision by Donald Trump to shutter their diplomatic mission to Washington as part of a 'cruel and spiteful' campaign they say represents collective punishment against Palestinians. The move follows a year of US action that includes cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Palestinians and recognising Jerusalem, a city that is territorially contested, as Israel's capital."

Dean Baker, "NYT Is Mistaken on NAFTA Negotiations: Trump is Threatening Ford and GM with Auto Tariffs, not Canada: Donald Trump is very confused about trade and it seems the confusion has spread to the NYT. Its article on the trade negotiations between the United States and Canada told readers that Trump is threatening with tariffs on the cars it exports to the United States. Canada doesn't pay tariffs on cars exported to the United States. The companies that import the cars to the United States would be the ones that pay the tariffs. This would primarily be Ford and General Motors, although there may also be some foreign auto companies that bring cars in from Canada. In Trump World it seems that trade is a battle between countries, with the ones that have the largest trade surplus being the winners. In reality, many U.S. corporations have benefited hugely from the imports that have been associated with the U.S. trade deficit. They have taken advantage of lower cost labor (not really true in Canada) in other countries to reduce costs. The basic story is that trade is about class, not country. Our patterns of trade were put in place to redistribute income upward. When Trump threatens to disrupt the patterns of trade established over the last quarter century he is most immediately threatening U.S. corporations. While there may also be some negative effects for workers in other countries, the direct targets are U.S. corporations. Trump may not understand this fact, but the NYT should."

Unfortunately, they are still in the education business. I hope this time they actually consult real educators instead of their rich-people genius. At least this one doesn't sound as bad as the last one. So far. "With $92 Million in Grants, Gates Foundation Launches Newest Strategy to Improve K-12 Schools. [...] "Rather than coming in with a bright, shiny new idea, we're asking districts, schools, and intermediaries to look at investments they've already made, and we're trying to make that last-mile investment that enables them to connect their work, to set the strategies or data that will enable them to be successful for students," said Robert Hughes, the foundation's director of K-12 education in a telephone press call with reporters."

"Bernie Sanders Is Officially Getting Under Jeff Bezos'S Skin [...] In statement after statement, the progressive senator from Vermont has decried Amazon, claiming that the $954 billion company doesn't pay enough workers a living wage — especially those who toil in its more than 100 fulfillment centers across the country. Many of the attacks have been personal: 'It is completely unacceptable that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest people in the world like Jeff Bezos when they pay their employees such inadequate wages,' he tweeted earlier this week. 'Count to ten,' he wrote in another tweet. 'In those ten seconds, Jeff Bezos, the owner and founder of Amazon, just made more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year.' Not content to bludgeon the company from the confines of Twitter, Sanders's office has also appealed directly to Amazon employees: 'Have you used public assistance, such as food stamps, Medicaid or subsidized housing, in order to make ends meet?' asks a form on his Web site. By now, these sorts of accusations are commonplace. But Amazon's response was not. Instead of brushing off the claims with a boilerplate statement or an internal memo, as Bezos did in response to a damning New York Times story in 2015, the company published an entire blog post on Wednesday devoted to debunking Sanders's claims. [...] The company added that it had offered Sanders a tour of its fulfillment centers, and invited its workers to respond with their positive experiences. Its post was later updated to include one worker testimonial." But there are a lot more testimonials to the contrary elsewhere.

Bruce Dixon explains "Why the Blue Wave Missed Missouri's 1st CD [...] The first is the black church, which is ridden with local, and since the advent of Bush's and Obama's faith based initiative, federal patronage. Black churches are often tied hand and foot to local politicians for everything from real estate deals to charter school contracts, and their leaders are often fixtures in local Democratic party affairs, even public officials themselves. The second is the nonprofit industrial complex, a literal army of advocacy groups sometimes doing housing and homeless activism, sometimes feeding the hungry, sometimes doing worker centers, womens health, tenants rights, LBGTQ activism, environmental stuff. There's another section of the nonprofit industrial complex which can't even be called nonpartisan with a straight face, offshoots of the NAACP and the Movement 4 Black Lives. These forces are tied to the political preferences of their corporate philanthropic funders. Executive directors of nonprofit organizations who don't find a way to support the right Democrats in primary season and all Democrats in general election put their careers, the livelihoods of all their employees, and the outfit's good works in jeopardy. And there are the unions — heavily public sector and disproportionately people of color, again all tied to the most right wing established Democrats on the local, state and federal level."

RIP: "The Village Voice Is Officially Dead: Three years after buying The Village Voice, and a year after the paper shut down its print edition, owner Peter Barbey told the remaining staff today that the publication will no longer be posting any new stories."

Sam Seder left some great pre-recorded interviews for listeners during The Majority Report's vacation week.
* America's Forgotten Black Pioneers & the Struggle for Equality - MR Live - 8/27/18
* This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent w/ Daegan Miller - MR Live - 8/28/18
* Globalists: The End Of Empire & the Birth of Neoliberalism w/ Quinn Slobodian - MR Live - 8/29/18

Katie Halper interviewed Asad Haider on the betrayal of Identity Politics.

Briahna Gray, "Beware The Race Reductionist [...] If you're #online, like I am, you're probably already familiar with the main argument. It goes something like this: If a policy doesn't resolve racism 'first,' it's at worst, racist and at best, not worth pursuing. [...] Notice that this trick is aimed at policies which would threaten significant corporate or entrenched interests: the insurance industry, the banking industry, the energy sector, lenders. As the University of California, Berkeley, law professor and leading scholar on race Ian Haney-López observed as we discussed the motives behind this framing, mainstream Democrats, like Republicans, 'are funded by large donors. Of course they're concerned about the interests of the top 1 percent.' It's almost as if the real agenda here isn't ending racism, but deterring well-meaning liberals from policies that would upset the Democratic Party's financial base. [...] So will 'Medicare for All' cure racism? No. Will it completely eliminate point-of-care discrimination? It won't. But neither will doubling down on the status quo. Those who admonish these broad economic policies on the grounds that they won't end bigotry rarely, if ever, propose alternatives that will; nor do they suggest reforms to make flawed universal programs more perfect. This fact, more than anything, exposes the bad faith motives of at least some race reductionists.

Howie Klein on "What Happens AFTER The Wave? What Can Democrats Accomplish? [...] The DCCC is making the same mistake they made-- so disastrously-- in 2010 by letting the Republicans define Democratic candidates while they sit on their asses doing nothing but figuring out how of a rake-off from campaign donations their pals can get. Ryan's SuperPAC "is already unloading blistering attack ads on Democratic nominees in 15 key districts," while the DCCC is still spending their energy and resources against progressives and ignoring Republicans."

Why Philanthropy Is Bad for Democracy: Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All, on how well-meaning liberals paved the way for Trump [...] I would love to tell you I figured it out within two minutes, but these things are seductive. It was a drip-drip-drip-drip of moments where you thought, 'Wait a second, why are we sitting in the Koch building? Why is this event funded by Monsanto, and by Pepsi, which seems to be changing the world by fattening kids? Why is Goldman Sachs a sponsor of our annual summer retreat?' The reality of the world outside kept getting worse and worse, and the people in the fellowship, and the sponsors, seemed to be the very people sucking most of the juice of progress. What I started to realize was that giving had become the wingman of taking. Generosity had become the wingman of injustice. 'Changing the world' had become the wingman of rigging the system."

Ryann Liebenthal in Mother Jones, "The Incredible, Rage-Inducing Inside Story of America's Student Debt Machine: Why is the nation's flagship loan forgiveness program failing the people it's supposed to help?"

Pierce, "It Turns Out Mike Pence Has Been Working on Being Unlikable for Decades: The late great Indiana political blogger Doghouse Riley used to call Mike Pence "the Choirboy," and hipped us all to the fact that this was a walking haircut stuffed with piety, ignorance, and not a whole lot else. Comes now CNN with a profile, and we learn from the people with whom he went to college that Pence has been practicing to be an unlikable and thoroughgoing prig for decades now. [...] This is the guy who is about four Diet Cokes, one clogged coronary artery, and/or a massive rage-tweet-induced aneurysm away from the presidency of the United States. And, again, it did not take Donald Trump to make Mike Pence a twisted, god-bothering, judgmental and successful political reptile. All that took was the Republican Party."

David Dayen says Tim Geithner was the "resistance" inside the Obama administration: "Last week, in an anonymous New York Times op-ed, a senior Trump official attempted to reassure the public that members of the administration were actively impeding their boss's wishes. One member of the public wasn't soothed: Trump's predecessor. 'The claim that everything will turn out okay because there are people inside the White House who secretly aren't following the president's orders, that is not a check,' Barack Obama said in a speech. 'That's not how our democracy's supposed to work. These people aren't elected. They're not accountable.' It was interesting timing for Obama to condemn executive branch defiance. This week marks the tenth anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers, seen as the emblematic event of the financial crisis. And early in Obama's first term, as he struggled to prevent further collapse, he faced similar insubordination from a key official: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. According to credible accounts, Geithner slow-walked a direct presidential order to prepare the breakup of Citigroup, instead undertaking other measures to nurse the insolvent bank back to health. This resistance to accountability for those who perpetrated the crisis, consistent with Geithner's demonstrated worldview, had catastrophic effects — including the Trump presidency itself. [...] Today, some may welcome the internal dissension in the Trump administration. But Geithner's actions to protect banks from the president he served, and the anger it bred at a 'rigged' system, diminished the public's faith in government intervention and helped install Trump in the White House. Ten years later, Geithner's one regret, as he put it in the Times, was that regulators don't have as much power now as he had then to bail out banks. But he wasn't given that power unilaterally; he took it, and America is still dealing with the consequences."

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "The biggest policy mistake of the last decade: In the great economic battle of the past decade, the winner is the tried and true — in a rout. After the 2008 financial crisis, old-fashioned Keynesians offered a simple fix: Stimulate the economy. With idle capacity and unemployed workers, nations could restore economic production at essentially zero real cost. It helped the U.S. in the Great Depression and it could help the U.S. in the Great Recession too. But during and immediately after the crisis, neoliberal and conservative forces attacked the Keynesian school of thought from multiple directions. Stimulus couldn't work because of some weird debt trigger condition, or because it would cause hyperinflation, or because unemployment was "structural," or because of a "skills gap," or because of adverse demographic trends. Well going on 10 years later, the evidence is in: The anti-Keynesian forces have been proved conclusively mistaken on every single argument. Their refusal to pick up what amounted to a multiple-trillion-dollar bill sitting on the sidewalk is the greatest mistake of economic policy analysis since 1929 at least. Let's take the culprits in turn."

A book review from Jennifer Szalai, "Crashed Connects the Dots From 2008 Crisis to Trump, Brexit and More [...] [...] On the apparent Democratic distaste for conflict, Tooze is quietly scathing. 'Rather than seeking to mobilize the indignation simmering in American society,' the Obama administration sought to tamp it down, offering 'one technocratic fix after another.' Putting it another way, Democratic centrism won the (financial) war but lost the (political) peace. To judge from Trump's ascendancy, along with the historical evidence so scrupulously marshaled in 'Crash,' Tooze is right. [...] One of the great virtues of this bravura work of economic history is how much attention it devotes to issues of power. 'Who was being hurt?' Tooze writes of the 2008 crisis. 'Who was included in the circle of those who needed to be protected? And who was not?' He reckons that in their bid to paper over such fundamental political questions with technical solutions, neoliberal centrists inadvertently answered them. Incremental tweaking did little to address the grief and suffering caused by the crisis, making political power more visible. By laying bare who would be sacrificed when the tide went out, they left a ragged hole for the likes of Trump and Bannon to walk through."

Harper's Index:
• Average number of months by which Republican-appointed judges sentence blacks to longer jail terms than whites : 7.8
By which Democratic-appointed judges do : 4.8
• Estimated percentage of US adults exonerated of crimes who are found to have falsely confessed : 10
Of juveniles : 38
• Percentage of heterosexual men without a high school diploma who changed their last name when they were last married : 10
Of heterosexual men with a college degree who did : 2

Nick Hanauer is sounding the alarm to his fellow zillioniaires, "The Pitchforks Are Coming — For Us Plutocrats [...] If we don't do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality. In fact, there is no example in human history where wealth accumulated like this and the pitchforks didn't eventually come out. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It's not if, it's when." Also, when I scrolled past the end, I found another warning from Joseph Stiglitz on The Myth of America's Golden Age. He says the same thing, only shorter.

Matt Stoller tweeted: Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, and Hank Paulson argue in the New York Times that our main political problem is insufficient authority to bail out banks. I mean, just, speechless. And then he "tweeted, "1. Ok, time to address this piece by Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, and Ben Bernanke on the need for more bailout authority to address financial crises. It is a surprisingly interesting but hidden political argument." Go read the thread.

RIP: Bill Daily, Major Healey in I Dream of Jeannie, Dies at 91: Bill Daily, the affable TV actor who starred as Major Roger Healey in I Dream of Jeannie as well as on The Bob Newhart Show, died Sept. 4 in Santa Fe, N.M., his son J. Patrick Daily confirmed. He was 91."

RIP: "Burt Reynolds, Smokey and the Bandit star, dead at 82." I actually remember him best for being hilarious on late-night talk shows. He was fun.

Sirota at the Guardian, "Yes, let's wipe out Trump. But take neoliberal Democrats with him, too: [...] Recounting this sordid record is not to dispute Democrats' occasional successes. Some blue locales continue to periodically pass progressive initiatives, most recently on climate change, net neutrality and minimum wages. These are undoubtedly important, but they have for the most part been incremental at a time when the economic and ecological crises we face demand far more radical action. The current iteration of the Democratic party has proven time and again that it is not merely uninterested in that kind of radicalism, but actively opposed to it. Party powerbrokers and multimillion-dollar MSNBC pundits would prefer an election focused exclusively on the palace dramas surrounding Trump's boorish outbursts and outrageous personal behavior. They don't want an election focused on the bipartisan neoliberalism that has wrought the desperation and mayhem unfolding outside the palace walls."

If you ever wonder what's wrong with Bob Woodward's journalism, you normally can't check his sources to find out what really happened. But one time, he didn't have that protection, because he wrote a regrettable book where sources weren't speaking confidentially and no state secrets were involved, and someone checked it out. Tanner Colby on the troubling things he learned when he re-reported Woodward's book about John Belushi.

This is a few years old, but I get tired of hearing right-wingers (especially the "centrists") pretending it was all some instant reaction from the religious right against Roe v. Wade. But that didn't happen. There was no reaction from the religious right at the time because they didn't care about that. It was manufactured. "The Real Origins of the Religious Right"

Eventually, if I keep looking, everything turns up on YouTube. Meeting of Minds, first episode, in which Steve Allen talks to dinner guests Teddy Roosevelt, Cleopatra, Thomas Paine, and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Paul McCartney Breaks Down His Most Iconic Songs

00:21 GMT comment


Monday, 27 August 2018

Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash

Elizabeth Warren's press release for her Accountable Capitalism Act is nicely put together and provides some good background:

"For most of our country's history, American corporations balanced their responsibilities to all of their stakeholders - employees, shareholders, communities - in corporate decisions. It worked: profits went up, productivity went up, wages went up, and America built a thriving middle class.

"But in the 1980s a new idea quickly took hold: American corporations should focus only on maximizing returns to their shareholders. That had a seismic impact on the American economy. In the early 1980s, America's biggest companies dedicated less than half of their profits to shareholders and reinvested the rest in the company. But over the last decade, big American companies have dedicated 93% of earnings to shareholders - redirecting trillions of dollars that could have gone to workers or long-term investments. The result is that booming corporate profits and rising worker productivity have not led to rising wages.

"Additionally, because the wealthiest top 10% of American households own 84% of all American-held shares - while more than 50% of American households own no stock at all - the dedication to "maximizing shareholder value" means that the multi-trillion dollar American corporate system is focused explicitly on making the richest Americans even richer."

Warren's prepared remarks to the National Press Club about her anti-corruption bill are also pretty interesting. And Howie Klein bulllet-pointing it in "Can Corruption In Government Be Legislated Out Of Existence By... Corrupt Politicians?."

* * * * *

"To Force Billionaires Off Welfare, Sanders Tax Would Make Corporations Fund 100% of Public Assistance Their Low-Paid Workers Receive: I don't believe that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest person in the world because you pay your employees inadequate wages."

"Verizon refused to un-throttle a California fire department's 'unlimited' plan during wildfires: Although calling out wireless carriers is a frequent pasttime here at BGR, sometimes a story comes along that sounds so cartoonishly villanous that you assume something in the story is wrong. But in this case, there are emails, and what they reveal is that Verizon's big talk about supporting emergency services apparently doesn't work in the real world. Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin found a series of emails between the Santa Clara County Fire Department and Verizon discussing the fire department's supposedly unlimited plan, how it was being throttled while on scene trying to battle a wildfire, and what could be done about it." This is shameful; if they're going to say a plan is "unlimited", it should damned well be unlimited, fire department or not. Their claim of support for emergency services sounds like pure fabrication.

"Empire Files forced to shut down by sanctions against Venezuela: As a result of financial attacks by the US government on the primary source of TeleSUR's funding, production was halted before the completion of Empire Files Season Two."

"The Facebook blackout 'glitch' censored independent media, but left the mainstream media untouched: Facebook has initiated a massive purge of independent media content. This blackout includes barring multiple independent media sites from posting links to their own site on their Facebook page, deleting independent media posts without warning or reason, marking independent media posts as spam so ordinary members of the public can't share them, and deleting ordinary people's posts without reason. This issue has impacted multiple left-leaning independent media sites like Another Angry Voice, Evolve Politics, Vox Political, People's Campaign for Corbyn, EU Citizens for an Independent Scotland, and many others. With pages left unable to post links to their own articles. Facebook have tried to dismiss the independent media blackout as a "glitch" but interestingly the Facebook pages of mainstream media outlets were unaffected by the "glitch". Mainstream media outlets that have been able to continue posting articles throughout the blackout include the Daily Mail, The S*n, Evening Standard, The Times and Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Spectator, Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Sky News, BBC News, and BBC Politics. Additionally the hard-right Guido Fawkes blog was also allowed to continue posting links to their vile echo chamber of hate throughout the Facebook blackout. The fact that a select few pages were allowed to continue posting throughout the Facebook blackout suggests that there's some kind of Facebook 'whitelist' protecting them from whatever measures they've been taking against independent media sources. So a range of left-wing, pro-independence, anti-Tory, pro-Corbyn, anti-fracking independent media pages were barred from sharing links, while mainstream media outlets and hard-right blogs were completely unaffected."

"Reality Winner, who pleaded guilty to leaking secret U.S. report, gets 63-month sentence: AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A former government contractor who pleaded guilty to mailing a classified U.S. report to a news organization was sentenced to more than five years Thursday as part of a deal with prosecutors, who called it the longest sentence ever imposed for a federal crime involving leaks to the media. Reality Winner, 26, pleaded guilty in June to a single count of transmitting national security information. The former Air Force translator worked as a contractor at a National Security Agency's office in Augusta, Georgia, when she printed a classified report and left the building with it tucked into her pantyhose. Winner told the FBI she mailed the document to an online news outlet."

"Wells Fargo-- The Anti-Medical Marijuana Bank-- Strikes Again [...] 'They told me my account was being flagged because of my political platform,' Fried said during a news conference at the Capitol. She lists greater access to medical marijuana as one of the main issues of her campaign."

'Incredible': New Poll That Shows 70% of Americans Support Medicare for All Includes 84% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans: Don't tell anyone but, uh, we're gonna win. [...] With such levels of popularity, as an accompanying article exploring some of the tensions within the party makes clear, Democratic leaders are being told they ignore the push for Medicare for All at their own peril. [...] While the Reuters article focused mainly on the question of whether progressive leaders like Sanders and congressional candidates like New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nebraska's Kara Eastman can convince voters to support progressive proposals, the news agency's polling showed that centrist Democrats, who claim they are trying to appeal to so-called "moderates," are actually alienating the vast majority of potential voters on key issues." This means that the percentage of Republican voters who support M4A is higher than the percentage of Democrats in Congress who do.

"California Could Soon End Money Bail, But At What Cost?: The passage of Senate Bill 10 would decimate the bail industry, but many advocates say it falls short of true reform. [...] In earlier drafts of the bill, all defendants would have appeared before a judge with a presumption of release. To detain someone, prosecutors would have had to make a case with convincing evidence that there was no way to release the person while ensuring his or her next court appearance and protecting public safety. This month, however, a new draft of the legislation began making the rounds that vastly altered its vision and scope. While abolishing cash bail and mandating the release of most people arrested for nonviolent misdemeanors within 12 hours of being booked, the new draft gives county judges wide-ranging discretion over which defendants deemed 'medium risk' could be detained pretrial."

RIP: Lynn Stout, economics professor best known for busting the shareholder value myth. Though she died last April at 60 after a battle with cancer, I only just learned about it, but I really want people to talk about this important aspect of her work. Her book, The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations, and the Public came out years ago but deserves far more penetration into people's consciousness.
* Back when her book was released, Jay Ackroyd interviewed Lynn Stout on Virtually Speaking.

Yves was also on that subject at the time, with discussion and an interview with Bill Lazonick

Here's Ryan Grim interviewing Stephanie Kelton last spring on why we can't have nice things - but could if Congress wanted to.

And Gaius reminded me recently of this four-year-old interview Sam Seder did with Philip Mirowski, author of Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown., on the history and continued evil of neoliberalism.

"Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent's Stealth Takeover of America: Nobel laureate James Buchanan is the intellectual linchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions, argues Duke historian Nancy MacLean."

George Monbiot in the Guardian, "A despot in disguise: one man's mission to rip up democracy: James McGill Buchanan's vision of totalitarian capitalism has infected public policy in the US. Now it's being exported. [...] He explained how attempts to desegregate schooling in the American south could be frustrated by setting up a network of state-sponsored private schools. It was he who first proposed privatising universities, and imposing full tuition fees on students: his original purpose was to crush student activism. He urged privatisation of social security and many other functions of the state. He sought to break the links between people and government, and demolish trust in public institutions. He aimed, in short, to save capitalism from democracy."

Even Forbes admits it: "America's Real Economy: It Isn't Booming: Ostensibly, for the past ten years, our economy has been recovering from the 2008 collapse. During the past few years, our comeback seems to have gained momentum. All the official indicators say we're back in boom times, with a bull market, low unemployment and steady job growth. But there is an alternative set of data that depicts a different America, where the overlooked majority struggles from month to month." The story gets the data right (Thanks to The Nation and TomDispatch), but then, alas, descends into prescriptions that come straight from the centrist playbook. "What's genuinely astonishing to me is that the private sector doesn't see the immense danger in all this — not simply the prospect of a collapse from enormous household debt loads, but the prospect of civil unrest after another huge correction like the one in 2008. Our current course is unsustainable. And for all the proposals for changes in public policy to ameliorate income inequality, only the private sector can get the nation on a better track by raising wages, increasing benefits and investing in new ventures and expanded markets." While it's true that raising wages is certainly a necessity, the private sector is not going to do any of this unless public policy forces them to. The constant refrain that we need more and more education — now supplied by the private sector — is ludicrous since we already have an educated populace that is out of work. The only thing the private sector can actually do at this point is reverse course on pressuring government to make their lives so easy, and start telling government to restore the regulations and enforcement that used to make them pay better wages, treat their workers better, and quit moving production abroad. Government has to go back to making business work, and it has to start spending real money again in the real economy and taxing the hell out of the rich.

Just when I was about to go to bed I see this tweet from Sam retweeting David Dayen retweeting a Will Sommer tweet posting a screen capture of a tweet from Lionel ("One of the leading promoters of the QAnon conspiracy theory") bragging about the honor of going to the White House to meet Trump. Lionel, as David points out, is "literally the guy who replaced @SamSeder on Air America." But in the ensuing thread I found a 2010 video I'd never seen, "Sam Seder on TYT Network (Why Air America Fell, Obama & Much More!)," posted because it includes Sam talking about the end of Air America Radio not long after it's official demise, but before that an amazingly prescient interview with Chris Hayes about how the failure of Obama and the Democratic Party to seize the populist moment could easily lead to right-wing "populism" - and the situation we have now.

RIP: "Sen. John McCain, Former Presidential Nominee And Prisoner Of War, Dies At 81." I think I'm with Max Blumenthal on this.

I actually enjoy Sherlock, but it's hard to argue with the claim that they really lost the point.

Pink Floyd live, "Money"

23:45 GMT comment


Monday, 20 August 2018

I used to feel so uninspired

RIP: "Aretha Franklin, 'the queen of soul', dies aged 76: Regarded as one of the greatest singers of all time, Aretha Franklin has died of advanced pancreatic cancer" Everybody has the same headline, because what else could it be? The Guardian used a video of "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" in it's obit, but it's longer tribute gives you more. Okay, I teared up, but still, she had a great run - she got to be Aretha.
* "When Aretha Franklin Offered To Post Bail For Angela Davis: Aretha Franklin, who died today at the age of 76 in her home in Detroit, was known for her unbelievable musical talent and majestic career, but the Queen of Soul was also a longtime warrior in the fight for social justice. A close friend of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who visited her in her final days, Franklin was a vocal supporter of civil rights movements, often performing at benefits and encouraging voter registration. But her private and church-based work — including stepping in to financially support Martin Luther King Jr.'s movement, the families of incarcerated people, and black activist ministers — was largely under the radar, Jackson told the Detroit Free Press recently."

RIP: Mark Perkel. "On August first, one of the coolest people you've probably never heard of died. Before there was a Netroots Nation or bloggers commonly called bloggers way back in 2000, Mark Perkel founded the liberal voices on the web — people like Bartcop, Brad Friedman and me — and offered us free hosting and eternal digital protection." -- Tammy, delivering a quick obituary on phone call to The Majority Report. (That's a direct section link.)

If you listen to the earlier parts of that Sam Seder video, you'll hear that some YouTube algorithm knocked him off his live feed Friday. It's funny how these social media censors have such a problem with comedy. But they have trouble with other things, too, and it's curious that Facebook has a problem with Venezuelanalysis: "Venezuelanalysis is the only independent English language website covering news and analysis on Venezuela from a progressive perspective, & which platforms leftist grassroots voices from within Venezuela. It is run by committed journalists, authors and academics, & praised by renowned journalists and intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Marta Harnecker, Oliver Stone, and so on. We cannot help but feel that the removal of our page is related to an attempt to stifle the alternative and progressive perspectives that we feature on Venezuela." (Here's another story at Global Research.) Still no explanation from FB. And AntiWar.com is reporting on suspensions and bannings, too. It seems strange that all this cross-platform de-platforming has happened at once.

Matt Taibbi, "Censorship Does Not End Well: How America learned to stop worrying and put Mark Zuckerberg in charge of everything [...] Two weeks ago, we learned about a new campaign against 'inauthentic' content, conducted by Facebook in consultation with Congress and the secretive think tank Atlantic Council — whose board includes an array of ex-CIA and Homeland Security officials — in the name of cracking down on alleged Russian disinformation efforts.­ As part of the bizarre alliance of Internet news distributors and quasi-government censors, the social network zapped 32 accounts and pages, including an ad for a real 'No Unite the Right 2' anti-racist counter-rally in D.C. this past weekend. [...] Last week, we saw another flurry of censorship news. Facebook apparently suspended VenezuelaAnalysis.com, a site critical of U.S. policy toward Venezuela. (It was reinstated Thursday.) Twitter suspended a pair of libertarians, including @DanielLMcAdams of the Ron Paul Institute and @ScottHortonShow of Antiwar.com, for using the word 'bitch' (directed toward a man) in a silly political argument. They, too, were later re-instated. [...] And yet: I didn't celebrate when Jones was banned. Collectively, all these stories represent a revolutionary moment in media. Jones is an incidental player in a much larger narrative. Both the Jones situation and the Facebook-Atlantic Council deletions seem an effort to fulfill a request made last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Last October, Facebook, Google and Twitter were asked by Hawaii Senator Mazie Hizono to draw up a 'mission statement' to 'prevent the foment of discord.' [...] Now that we've opened the door for ordinary users, politicians, ex-security-state creeps, foreign governments and companies like Raytheon to influence the removal of content, the future is obvious: an endless merry-go-round of political tattling, in which each tribe will push for bans of political enemies."

Leaving aside the usual creebing about college liberals, which is wrong and beside the point, Peter Van Buren's argument in The American Conservative is fairly strong, in "I Was Banned for Life From Twitter: I became persona non grata after a heated exchange over the media's complicity with the government. The mob won."

The Onion with an unusual weather forecast.

Dean Baker, "Jake Tapper' Dishonest Fact Check On Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Medicare for All: I already did a tweet on this, but thought it was worth posting here. Jake Tapper did a completely dishonest fact check on Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over their claim that a study by a right-wing think tank showed that Medicare for all would save the country $2 trillion over a decade (roughly 0.8 percent of GDP). Tapper misrepresented their comments to say that they claimed the study would save the government $2 trillion. He then points out that the study showed Medicare for all would hugely increase the cost of healthcare to the government. Of course, the cost to the government will increase if it takes responsibility for the bulk of healthcare payments in the country. No one is contesting this point. The question is what happens to the cost of healthcare to the country as a whole. Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez were accurately citing one of the scenarios in the study on this point. Tapper owes it to Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, and more importantly to his audience, to correct himself on this one. It's a straightforward point and he really should be able to get it right." More specifically, the study, in its main body, discussed the costs under Sanders' actual, existing Medicare for All bill. The other scenario the study mentions occurs only in an appendix and is sheer conjecture about what it might otherwise contain.

Michelle Goldberg on "The Debt-Shaming of Stacey Abrams: Our pernicious double standard on politicians who owe money. [...] It's going to be a tight race: Abrams and Kemp are currently tied in the polls. But Republicans think they can damage Abrams by going after her on the issue of her personal debt, which totals more than $200,000. Last week, an ad from the Republican Governors Association hit her for lending money to her own campaign while owing $54,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, describing her as 'self-serving' and 'fiscally irresponsible.' Kemp himself made a baseless suggestion that Abrams might have violated the law: 'Instead of paying more than $50,000 in back taxes, she gave $50,000 to her campaign. If that's not criminal, it should be.' This line of attack throws a pernicious political dynamic into high relief. The financial problems of poor and middle-class people are treated as moral failings, while rich people's debt is either ignored or spun as a sign of intrepid entrepreneurialism."

With the Accountable Capitalism Act, says Charlie Pierce, "Elizabeth Warren Put a Stake in the Ground. We Should Pay Close Attention. If corporations want to be treated like people then they should be punished like them, too." The idea is to have a federal charter system for big corporations and make them live up to being good citizens that contribute to the public good.

"Author Reza Aslan threatened by Israeli Border Authorities with Family Separation: BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) — Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency, detained Iranian-American writer, Reza Aslan, as he was entering Israel through Jordan, with his family. Reza Aslan, 46, took to his Twitter account, where he said that the Shin Bet used police state tactics against him and his family. Aslan arrived in Israel with his wife, children, and in-laws after a visit to Jordan. Upon his arrival, he was separated from his family at the border and detained by the Shin Bet, which repeatedly threatened him . He wrote in his Twitter post that the Shin Bet interrogator threatened him by repeatedly saying 'we can make it so you don't see your kids for a long time.' Aslan mentioned that 'the police state part began in earnest: Write down names of journalists you associate with. Write down names of Palestinian organizations you support.' According to Aslan, he tried to cooperate as best as he could, but was accused of lying after answering each question. The Shin Bet interrogator warned Aslan not to enter the Palestinian territories, not to meet with or speak to any Palestinians or any Israeli troublemakers and warned him by saying that 'we are watching you,' Aslan wrote. Aslan concluded his tweets by saying that 'this was my 4th trip to Israel in ten years and every time it's gotten worse. It's becoming unrecognizable as a democracy. It is becoming a full-blown police state.'"

"Fracking is destroying U.S. water supply, warns shocking new study: Toxic wastewater from fracking jumps 14-fold from 2011 to 2016 — and it may get 50 times bigger by 2030."

Ellis Winningham, "Public Purpose Spending is Not Socialism — It's the Job of the Federal Government: There is an immense problem with the term 'socialism', especially in the United States, where the word is abused endlessly by right-wing politicians, 'free market' enthusiasts and now, even liberals have joined the red-baiting bandwagon, labeling former Sanders supporters, many of whom are now Stein supporters as 'socialists' and any proposed economic initiatives as 'socialism'. This is the result of a successful long-term propaganda campaign of intentional misinformation which causes the general public to view any public purpose spending as socialism and so, they irrationally fear the public purpose. Meanwhile, the 1% reaps the benefits through continued abuse of an unwitting public, allowing them to profit at the expense of the national economy and society. Let me assure you that there isn't an academic definition of socialism for those of us who possess degrees and then an entirely different one for the general public. It doesn't work that way. There is only one definition of socialism and we will discuss it today, because the nonsense needs to stop."

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "The treachery of Tom Perez: Tom Perez is chair of the Democratic National Committee because wealthy centrist liberals — above all then-President Barack Obama — needed a convenient stooge to keep the party machinery out of the left's hands. He's serving his big donor masters loyally, and in the process failing his party, the United States of America, and humanity as a whole. Most egregiously, he recently reversed a ban on the party accepting donations from fossil fuel corporations, with the limp excuse that "[w]e're not a party that punishes workers simply based on how they make ends meet." The man is an obstacle to human flourishing. [...] It takes a special kind of incompetence to sell out the party's activist base and not even be able to raise good money off it."

"The New Old Democrats: It's not the 1990s anymore. People want the government to help solve big problems. Here's how the Democrats must respond."

"Democrats Must Reclaim the Center — by Moving Hard Left: America needs a centrist party that actually represents the economic center, not just zillionaires like me. [...] There once was a time when both parties vied to occupy the majoritarian center, an era when American politics was more a struggle over means than of ends — until, after three decades of unprecedented and broad-based post-war prosperity, the Republican Party lurched violently to the right, and the age of New Deal centrism came to a close. Supply-side tax cuts, attacks on unions, a crusade against 'big government' and other tactics of the Reagan revolution helped put us on the road to a new Gilded Age. And while Republicans certainly led the way, we wouldn't have gotten here as quickly had Democrats not kept driving in the same direction every time we managed to get our hands on the wheel."

"There Is No Such Thing As A Moderate Mainstream Centrist [...] This is what passes for the American political 'center' today. Two mainstream parties, both backed to the hilt by the entirety of corporate media from coast to coast, arguing with each other over who is doing more to help advance cold war aggressions between two nuclear superpowers. They're not arguing about whether or not the world should be destroyed, they're arguing over who gets to push the button.

Yves Smith on Why We Didn't See the 2008 Crash Coming [...] One point that is often lost is the Bush administration courteously left $75 billion in the TARP for the Obama administration to use to pay for mortgage modifications, which they never used. Obama had an opportunity when he came in. The country was desperate and frightened. He could've done an FDR. He could've done almost anything. And yet, the die was cast when he appointed Timothy Geithner as his Treasury secretary. That was announced in mid-November. I mean, Obama is basically don't-rock-the boat. He may be center-left on social issues, but he's basically center-right on economic issues. [...] We have this fallacy that normal people should be able to save for retirement. If public pension funds, which can invest at the very lowest possible fees, can't make this work, how is Joe Mom-and-Pop America gonna be able to do this? Again, it's back to the stagnant worker wages. So, great, we're not paying people enough, housing prices are very inflated. We've got this horrible medical system that costs way too much, and how are people supposed to put any money aside when their real estate and their rents and their health costs are going up? Why do you think we have Trump? I mean, even though he did a big bait-and-switch, as we all know, there were a lot of people that lost their homes, their community wasn't what it used to be, particularly if they lived in the Rust Belt. And then you have these people on the coast saying, 'Oh, they should go get training. It's disgusting.' I mean, let them eat cake is let them get training. What you hear from these coastal elites: People over 40, even over 35, are basically unhirable. Are you gonna train them? They're gonna waste their time thinking they can get a new job? I mean, that's just lunacy.

"The Explicable Mystery of the National Debt [...] The mystery is, while all this perpetual haggling and hand-wringing is happening, no one seems to be knocking on America's door asking to be repaid. Unlike Greece and Italy who are constantly being squeezed by the E.U. central bank and the IMF to repay their debts, no one seems to be squeezing the U.S. at all. Unlike Spain, which gets an earful from Germany if it even whispers about increasing its national borrowing, the U.S. hears nothing from anybody (except its own politicians and pundits) when it votes to raise the beanstalk one cap higher. How can that be? It's almost as if — weirdly — there isn't anyone out there expecting to get paid back. [...] First, the U.S. 'national debt' is functionally not a debt at all. It is simply a tally of the U.S. Treasury bonds which the government has issued and then traded for U.S. dollars which already existed in the private sector. These Treasury bonds are in effect interest-paying, time-deposit savings accounts for the bond holders. You personally may have traded some of your retirement dollars for one of these 'savings accounts' and you know, firsthand, they definitely contain real money! The 'national debt,' then, is really a 'national savings account.'"

Nice xkcd on computerized voting. Paper ballots, hand-counted in full public view on the night, y'all.

"Clinton Democrats Embrace Losing Strategy To Combat 'Sanders-Style Socialism' In Midterms: Democratic Party elites are increasingly concerned the midterm elections will be a 'base election' and make their centrist politics even more irrelevant, as insurgent candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez garner widespread support. The think tank, Third Way, recently held a conference in Ohio with Democrats, who primarily adhere to the politics of President Bill Clinton, and new recruits, who they hope will counter 'Bernie Sanders-style socialism.' They also intend to defend corporate executives and wealthy people from condemnation for their attacks on poor and working class Americans. 'Right now, in the Democratic Party, there is only one option on the table: Sanders-style socialism. That's the main option on the table. We're doing this now because the party's got to have a choice,' Jon Cowan, one of the presidents of Third Way, declared. 'It's going to matter a hell of a lot in 2020, and so while 2020 may feel a ways off, in our mind it isn't. And the ideas primary starts now.'"

"Would Corporate Democrats Rather Lose Than Include Progressives? [...] What the DNC and the centrist-corporatists who control it still refuse to accept is that anti-Republicanism — even anti-Trumpism — is not now, nor will it ever be, enough to lure the progressive populist left to the polls. Against history, against the 2016 election results, they assume that the default mode of a left-leaning voter is Democratic."

"'Absolute Failure': DNC Passes Perez Resolution Reversing Ban on Donations From Fossil Fuel PACs: Just two months after the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was celebrated by environmentalists for banning donations from fossil fuel companies, it voted 30-2 on Friday to adopt a resolution from Chair Tom Perez that critics said effectively reverses the ban and represents 'an absolute failure by the DNC.'"

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "America for sale: Let's review some news from the first half of the week [...] This is modern American politics, folks: rotten to its very marrow. Corruption is eating the United States alive. As the Numidian King Jugurtha supposedly said of the Roman Republic: 'Yonder lies a city put up for sale, and its days are numbered if it finds a buyer.'"

David Dayen, "The CEO Circle of Trust: About a year ago, CEOs enlisted PR underlings to send out strongly worded press releases distancing themselves from President Trump's allyship with hate in Charlottesville. A year later, five members of business advisory councils that were shuttered after Charlottesville sat down to dinner with the president. Because in the end, they want power on their side. Having power on your side can lead to fun things like secretly running a cabinet agency. Three Trump cronies from Mar-a-Lago, including Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, are effectively setting policy for the Department of Veterans Affairs. I've just going to attribute the useless VA hotline to them. By the way, Perlmutter keeps a grip on this power by... having dinners with Trump. I don't know the dining schedule of the CEOs of Nucor and U.S. Steel, but as long as they keep close to Trump, they can maximize monopoly power by rejecting requests for exemptions to foreign steel tariffs. (by the way I called this one.) And if you're a CEO who's really in tight with Trump, you can just get your own cabinet agency outright, like demonstrable grifter Wilbur Ross, who until just weeks ago still had major investments in shipping companies while running the Commerce Department, whose logo has a ship on it. We're seeing a fusion of business and the state that only has precedent if you take the word "fascism" literally. Corporate titans are learning that kissing the president's ring for the next 2-6 years is the way to get ahead in life. And now that the SEC wants a word with Elon Musk over his obvious chicanery in tweeting about taking Tesla private, he may want to book a room in the Trump hotel in D.C. too."

Another own-goal when "The Koch Brothers Commissioned A Survey Of Americans And Found Most Like A $15 Minimum Wage, Free College, And Universal Health Care: DURING THE MONTH of July, the marketing and communications group In Pursuit Of — launched by the Koch brothers in 2017— conducted a survey of Americans on a range of issues. The poll was later written up by RealClearPolitics, which spun the results as favorable to the Koch network. RealClearPolitics noted that on a set of vague values questions, Americans appeared to take the conservative or libertarian side of political arguments. For instance, RealClearPolitics noted that the survey found that 86 percent of Americans said the right to personal property is key to a free and just society. Okay, sure." (Did anyone mention the difference between "personal property" and "private property", I wonder?) Short version: Despite the fact that the Kochs have put millions of dollars into convincing Americans that we don't want more regulation of Wall Street, free college, a living wage, and a lot of other things that the Kochs don't like, Americans still think they'd be an improvement over what we have now.

"Kobach Recuses Himself From Kansas Vote Count Amid Public Pressure" — Kobach is a sleazebag grifter who is famous for trying to cook the vote. Even a lot of local Republicans are getting sick of him.

A pretty straightforward chart accompanies this article, "'X' Marks the Spot Where Inequality Took Root: Dig Here [...] The graphic below tells three stories. First, we see two distinct historic periods since World War II. In the first period, workers shared the gains from productivity. In the later period, a generation of workers gained little, even as productivity continued to rise. The second message is the very abrupt transition from the post-war historic period to the current one. Something happened in the mid-70's to de-couple wages from productivity gains. The third message is that workers' wages — accounting for inflation and all the lower prices from cheap imported goods — would be double what they are now, if workers still took their share of gains in productivity." I kept getting the feeling there was something he was trying not to say, though.

Lauren Windsor had a few choice words for the opportunist debutentes in, "Polishing Turds at Third Way: A few weeks ago, I debunked the spin out from CNBC that Sen. Mark Warner is being pressured by major Democratic donors to run for president in 2020 as a moderate counter to liberal Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren -- according to my source, "he is indeed running" and has been pitching the idea since at least September of 2017. It's worth noting that CNBC did not name any of these big donors, and I suspect that's because they hail from the likes of centrist, establishment DC think tank Third Way, which has been burned in the past for launching broadsides against Warren." These people think if they can just find the right PR, they can keep sailing this stuff by us all.

Margaret Kimberly, "The United States Destroys Venezuela's Economy [...] Sanctions are war by other means, invisible to most eyes. [...] In 2015 Barack Obama issued an executive order declaring Venezuela to be 'an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.' That decree is necessary in order to impose economic sanctions. But sanctions do not only mean that American corporations and individuals cannot do business with the targeted country. Any country that conducts economic transactions with Venezuela will also be subject to sanctions. Even in its state of decline the United States is the 800-pound financial gorilla that can't be ignored."

The Economist tries to explain why America's electoral system gives the Republicans advantages over Democrats: The constitution was not designed for the two-party politics it unwittingly encouraged."

"They stood up to hatred" — They came back from defeating the fascists only to find them at home. The 43 Group, including a young Vidal Sassoon, took their outrage to the streets. Years later, they contributed to this oral history. Watch A Rage In Dalston.

Film review of "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution [...] One thing that I loved about this documentary was that it told a piece of the story of the Panthers from the perspectives of a number of the major leaders, including Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, David Hilliard, Kathleen Cleaver, Ericka Huggins, Emory Douglas, Fred Hampton and others, but it also told the history from the perspectives of the rank and file members — people like the Freeman brothers, William Calhoun, Wayne Pharr, Steve McClutchen, Tarika Lewis, Blair Anderson, Jamal Joseph, Landon Williams and others."

Mark Evanier posted an episode of Firing Line in which William F. Buckley interviewed Groucho Marx, which he introduces by reposting something he wrote about Buckley earlier. It's all true.

A threat to the Gnome Liberation Front from gentrification: "Are Germany's Garden Gnomes Endangered?"

This guy does photoshopping for you, but maybe not the way you wanted. Some of these are laugh out loud.

Baby elephants' first bath

03:18 GMT comment


Thursday, 09 August 2018

Did you see her crying?

So many evils can be traced back to Richard Nixon. "Did you know that before 1973 it was illegal in the US to profit off of health care. The Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973 passed by Nixon changed everything. In 1973, Nixon did a personal favor for his friend and campaign financier, Edgar Kaiser, then president and chairman of Kaiser-Permanente. Nixon signed into law, the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973, in which medical insurance agencies, hospitals, clinics and even doctors, could begin functioning as for-profit business entities instead of the service organizations they were intended to be. And which insurance company got the first taste of federal subsidies to implement HMOA73 ... *gasp* ... why, it was Kaiser-Permanente! What are the odds?" Now, if only we can explain why the so-called liberal champion of health care, Edward Kennedy, proposed this piece of crap.

I'm not going to post the details, but so far nearly half of the Our Revolution types have been winning primaries and elections. Considering the fact that most of them are running against establishment picks and incumbents, that's actually a pretty remarkable record.

"Even Libertarians Admit Medicare for All Would Save Trillions: A new study from a libertarian think tank admits that Medicare for All would save a whopping $2 trillion." Of course, the headline buried the lead on every story about this, but this Koch-funded study tried to make M4A sound more expensive than what we have now and still couldn't, despite underestimating the likely costs of continuing the way we are and the potential savings of the proposed program.

Bernie Sanders thanks the Koch brothers for accidentally showing that Medicare for All saves two trillion dollars.

RIP: Another guy I would have loved to vote for once, for president: "Ron Dellums, Forceful Liberal in Congress for 27 Years, Dies at 82. Ron Dellums, the son of a longshoreman who became one of America's best-known black congressmen, a California Democrat with a left-wing agenda that put civil rights and programs for people ahead of weapons systems and warfare, died early Monday at his home in Washington. He was 82."

RIP: Joel Silberman, activist, organizer, performer, and show biz mensch. We were hopeful when Joel's doctors said they thought they'd caught his pancreatic cancer early enough, but though he fought and continued to run workshops and keep on doing what he did right up to the end, he finally had to admit defeat and say farewell to us. I will always treasure the reports, clips, and musings he posted for his friends during that journey, and I was pleased to see a statement on Joel's passing from Rep. Barbara Lee.

"Should Republican Billionaires Be Picking Democratic Candidates The Way They Already Pick GOP Candidates? Let's start with some news: Last week, Fox News' James Rupert Murdoch, a British billionaire, put half a million dollars into one of Nancy Jacobson's shady No Labels SuperPACs that aims to fill Congress with candidates from the Republican Wing of the Democratic Party. Their current goal is a smear campaign against Alan Grayson. Most recently, Jacobson pulled off the same filth against Marie Newman in Illinois' 3rd District House primary, spending $931,600 to spread absolute lies against Newman while bolstering anti-Choice Blue Dog Dan Lipinski."

We're number one! "US the 'Worst Place in the World' to Give Birth: USA Today Investigation [...] "Deadly Deliveries," the result of a four-year investigation, references federal data showing that more than 50,000 women are 'severely injured' and roughly 700 die during childbirth each year. Perhaps even more staggering is that "half of these deaths could be prevented and half the injuries reduced or eliminated with better care," the investigation found."

On The Zero Hour, Richard J. Eskow interviewed David Dayen on Global Trade: With or Without Trump, It's Chaos.

Citations Needed podcast, "The Not-So-Benevolent Billionaire - Bill Gates and Western Media" - the media is awfully kind to Bill Gates, even when his philanthropy does more harm than good.

Never in my life did I expect Devin Nunes to do what I've been waiting for Democrats to do for 18 years: "House Intel chair calls for ban on electronic voting systems: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) called for a ban on electronic voting systems in an interview that aired Thursday on Hill.TV's Rising. 'The one thing we've been warning about for many, many years on the Intelligence committee is about the electronic voting systems,' Nunes told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton, who sat with the lawmaker on Wednesday. 'Those are really dangerous in my opinion, and should not be used. In California — at least in the counties that I represent — they do not use an electronic system,' he continued. 'I think anybody that does that, and that's communicating over the web, it's going to be a challenge. So you have to make sure that you limit that as much as possible, and we need a paper trail so that you can go back in case you have to do a manual recount,' he said."

OK, this one makes no sense at all. I can't see millions of Trump voters saying, "Yes, make my car get fewer miles to the gallon! And since most states have stricter standards than the federal requirements already, and car-makers are having no trouble meeting those standards, who the hell is this for? "To Nix Obama Fuel Standard, WH Argues That Better Gas Mileage Is Dangerous."

Dismayingly, John Oliver seems to have fallen for the establishment story on Venezuela, but none of it is true. (We've already noticed media stories showing empty supermarket shelves - without mentioning that those shelves are not in Venezuela, but in the United States. We're also not told that the reason some popular products are not on the shelves at the moment is that the companies that sell those products are deliberately withholding them to try to give the appearance of food shortages - but, in fact, people are eating just fine. And that's just one little thing.)

It's official: @RepBarbaraLee is running for House Democratic Caucus chair. "There is nothing more important than returning bold Democratic leadership to Congress." But Howie wonders, "What Excuse Will They Use This Time To Keep Barbara Lee Out Of The House Democratic Leadership?"

"139 House Democrats Join GOP to Approve $717 Billion in Military Spending: 'How are they going to pay for this? Oh wait, that question only gets asked when it comes to social programs that benefit the working class.'"

Lee Fang and Nick Surgey, "Health Care Lobbyists Secretly Secure Democrats' Opposition To 'Medicare For All,' Internal Documents Show [...] The Healthcare Leadership Council has closely tracked what its lobbyists have described as the 'leftward movement' within the Democratic Party. In Hawaii and other states, the lobby group wanted to know if ideas popularized by Sen., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. — such as aggressive proposals to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals and institute a single-payer health care system modeled on Medicare — were taking hold. The council, which spends over $5 million a year on industry advocacy and brings together chief executives of major health corporations, represents an array of health industries, including insurers, hospitals, drugmakers, medical device manufacturers, pharmacies, health product distributors, and information technology companies. The group's focus on competitive open seats around the country — like Hawaii's 1st Congressional District — is aimed at shaping the next generation of lawmakers' views on health care policy.

"Next 100 Days: In the Era of Trump, NYS is Out of Step and In the Crosshairs [...] 'By 2040, 70 percent of Americans are expected to live in the 15 largest states, which are also home to the overwhelming majority of the 30 largest cities in the country. By extension, 30 percent of Americans will live in the other 35 states. That means that the 70 percent of Americans get all of 30 Senators and 30 percent of Americans get 70 Senators,' Birdsell says." So, most people will be crammed together in a few states, and the minority will be in control of Congress, which means cities will have very little say in what goes on.

It's hard to tell whether Forbes is cheering or trying to horrify me with this story. "An Unlikely Group Of Billionaires And Politicians Has Created The Most Unbelievable Tax Break Ever [...] Too good to be true? 'The incentive needs to be powerful enough that it can unlock large amounts of capital, aggregate that capital into funds and force the funds to invest in distressed areas," says Parker, the original Facebook president whose think tank, the Economic Innovation Group, created the policy and helped press it into law. Instead of having government hand out pools of taxpayer dollars, you have savvy investors directing money into projects they think will succeed.' The heart of this new law: Opportunity Zones, or "O-zones,' low-income areas designated by each state. Investors will soon be able to plow recently realized capital gains into projects or companies based there, slowly erase the tax obligations on a portion of those gains and, more significantly, have those proceeds grow tax-free. There are almost no limits. No limits on how much you can put in, how much tax you can avoid and, for most of the country, the types of taxes you can avoid, whether federal, state or local. No limits on how long those proceeds compound tax-free. And precious few limits on what types of investments you can make." Right, instead of the government putting money into projects in poor communities, they give it to investors to... Wait, haven't we heard all this before?

Dday, "The Obamacare cover story: Spikes in insurance premiums on the Obamacare exchanges never gets foregrounded as a reason for the 2016 election outcome. Here are a few examples: 17 percent in Michigan. 43 percent in Iowa. 50 percent in Minnesota. It's an October surprise hard-wired into the electoral calendar, in one of the more abominable decisions in liberal history. And those premium rises may have soured people on the signature achievement of the Democratic era, and moved a few undecideds. But never mind that, because a shiny new narrative has been constructed that Donald Trump's sabotage of the exchanges, not their rickety structure to begin with, has set the table for Medicare for All."

Naomi Klein at The Intercept, "Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum, Not 'Human Nature': THIS SUNDAY, THE entire New York Times Magazine will be composed of just one article on a single subject: the failure to confront the global climate crisis in the 1980s, a time when the science was settled and the politics seemed to align. Written by Nathaniel Rich, this work of history is filled with insider revelations about roads not taken that, on several occasions, made me swear out loud. And lest there be any doubt that the implications of these decisions will be etched in geologic time, Rich's words are punctuated with full-page aerial photographs by George Steinmetz that wrenchingly document the rapid unraveling of planetary systems, from the rushing water where Greenland ice used to be to massive algae blooms in China's third largest lake. The novella-length piece represents the kind of media commitment that the climate crisis has long deserved but almost never received. We have all heard the various excuses for why the small matter of despoiling our only home just doesn't cut it as an urgent news story: 'Climate change is too far off in the future'; 'It's inappropriate to talk about politics when people are losing their lives to hurricanes and fires'; 'Journalists follow the news, they don't make it — and politicians aren't talking about climate change'; and of course: 'Every time we try, it's a ratings killer.' None of the excuses can mask the dereliction of duty. It has always been possible for major media outlets to decide, all on their own, that planetary destabilization is a huge news story, very likely the most consequential of our time. They always had the capacity to harness the skills of their reporters and photographers to connect abstract science to lived extreme weather events. And if they did so consistently, it would lessen the need for journalists to get ahead of politics because the more informed the public is about both the threat and the tangible solutions, the more they push their elected representatives to take bold action. [...] That's also why it is so enraging that the piece is spectacularly wrong in its central thesis."

"What's This? A Genuinely Left Wing Panel on Cable TV?! Last night, MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes broadcast something that is almost unprecedented in our modern era: four left wing people on TV, speaking about politics. Whoa. The panel was made up of The Majority Report's Sam Seder, New York Times opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg, and The Intercept's Senior Politics Editor Briahna Gray. They were there to talk about conservative media's reaction to the surprise primary victory of New York City congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez." (Video included.)

Atrios: Is the idea (widespread, but wrong) that these are 'unskilled' jobs because they are often low paid and therefore you can just throw anyone into them. Almost all the job categories listed are stereotypically work for women, which is one reason they are so low paid, but aside from that I don't know why people think you can just throw anybody into 'early childhood education' or 'after-school care' or 'childcare' generally."

They sound like opportunist Republicans who just switched their R to a D for electoral advantage, but Third Way are now calling themselves "Opportunity Democrats", yet another tone-deaf phrase from people who have lost the plot. Sara Jones at The New Republic reports on their latest roll-out with, "There Is No Silent Centrist Majority: The base of the Democratic Party is much further to the left than moderates recognize." You can tell who you're hearing from by the fact that they regard people who want health care and living wage, a majority of Americans, as "far-left".

Really, you can't make this stuff up. "Undaunted Democratic Centrists Ready to Fight Trump and Bernie at Same Time [...] The new economic platform leans heavily on words like 'earn' and 'opportunity,' and away from demonizing tycoons — 'For most Americans, billionaires and millionaires are not next door, or part of their lived experience,' Cowan said in his opening speech. The policy backbone of the pitch includes an American Investment Bank designed to back 'Main Street, not Wall Street' entrepreneurs, a 'Boomer Corps' part-time national-service program for senior citizens whose earnings would be tax-free (on top of their Social Security), a massive state-driven apprenticeship system, and universal private retirement savings accounts funded by employers." They still think the "swing voters" are in the "middle of the road" and that's who they are pitching to. They have no clue that they lost the middle years ago. 'Everybody's got a camera on their phone. That never worked, but it really doesn't now: You can't just go and say one thing to one group and another to another group,' said Jason Kander, the former Missouri secretary of state who last month opted to run for Kansas City mayor rather than president, making the case onstage that you lose both the base and swing voters if you try to differentiate between them." Oh, and watch out for Mitch Landrieu, who they seem to like a lot.

"Centrism Is Dead: The left has already won the debate over which ideas should animate the Democratic Party."

"Judge's ruling invalidates FEC regulation allowing anonymous donations to 'dark money' groups: A U.S. District Court judge on Friday issued a ruling invalidating a Federal Election Commission regulation that has allowed donors to so-called dark-money groups to remain anonymous, the latest development in a years-long legal battle that could have major implications for campaign finance. Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled the FEC's current regulation of such groups, including 501(c) 4 non-profits, fails to uphold the standard Congress intended when it required the disclosure of politically related spending."

Ecuador Will Imminently Withdraw Asylum for Julian Assange and Hand Him Over to the U.K. What Comes Next? ECUADOR'S PRESIDENT Lenin Moreno traveled to London on Friday for the ostensible purpose of speaking at the 2018 Global Disabilities Summit (Moreno has been using a wheelchair since being shot in a 1998 robbery attempt). The concealed, actual purpose of the president's trip is to meet with British officials to finalize an agreement under which Ecuador will withdraw its asylum protection of Julian Assange, in place since 2012, eject him from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, and then hand over the WikiLeaks founder to British authorities. Moreno's itinerary also notably includes a trip to Madrid, where he will meet with Spanish officials still seething over Assange's denunciation of human rights abuses perpetrated by Spain's central government against protesters marching for Catalonian independence. Almost three months ago, Ecuador blocked Assange from accessing the internet, and Assange has not been able to communicate with the outside world ever since. The primary factor in Ecuador's decision to silence him was Spanish anger over Assange's tweets about Catalonia. [...] The consequences of such an agreement depend in part on the concessions Ecuador extracts in exchange for withdrawing Assange's asylum. But as former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told The Intercept in an interview in May, Moreno's government has returned Ecuador to a highly 'subservient' and 'submissive' posture toward western governments. It is thus highly unlikely that Moreno — who has shown himself willing to submit to threats and coercion from the U.K., Spain and the U.S. — will obtain a guarantee that the U.K. not extradite Assange to the U.S., where top Trump officials have vowed to prosecute Assange and destroy WikiLeaks."

"Bigfoot Porn Has Become A Major Controversy In A U.S. House Race. Seriously. A Virginia Republican who has been linked to white supremacists now faces accusations of liking Bigfoot erotica."

Is Trump about to lower drug prices? David Dayen at The American Prospect, "Trump Eliminates the Middleman: His administration takes aim at the heretofore legal kickbacks to prescription drug distributors — but leaves the drug companies themselves untouched. [...] The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration, both led by drug company veterans, have started with pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), the middlemen who negotiate prices with drug companies on behalf of health plans and reimburse pharmacies after sale. PBMs exploit an information advantage in this multi-sided market to skim as much as one in every five dollars out of every prescription drug purchase, harming pharmacies, health plans, and consumers alike."

And DDay at The Intercept, "The 'Mulvaney Discount': Trump'S Consumer Protection Czar Is Shrinking Fines For Law-Breaking Companies [...] After pausing enforcement work when Acting Director Mick Mulvaney took over, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been on a relative tear, announcing five civil settlements of cases begun under Mulvaney's predecessor, Richard Cordray. But in at least three of them, CFPB has explicitly reduced the fine handed down against corporate offenders to a fraction of the initial amount. The smaller fines mean softer punishment for violations of law and, in some cases, less restitution to victims of the misconduct."

Naturally, the "centrist" Dems are having trouble making themselves enthusiastic about supporting Ben Jealous in the Maryland election. The sticking point seems to be that he is insufficiently supportive of letting Amazon headquarter in the state - no doubt a wiser move than they're prepared to admit. This story, of course, appears in the newspaper owned by Jeff Bezos.

"Bernie Sanders And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Went To War With Partisanship In Kansas [...] Though the first of two rallies held Friday was ostensibly in support of James Thompson, a candidate for Kansas's 4th Congressional District, the gestalt of the day's remarks was something bigger than any one race. The speeches — particularly Sanders's — announced a unifying theme that felt too coherent to have been thrown together for a House primary or two. Individually, the remarks were compelling. Together, they comprised an unabashed declaration of post-partisan movement building — a rebuke to those in power who fetishize every identity-based division in order to diffuse the largest coalition in the country: the working class."

Dean Baker, "Trump's 'Victory' in Trade War: Like many economists I have been puzzled over the likely end game in the trade war that Donald Trump has initiated with most of our major trading partners. He has escalated his rhetoric and put together a large list of imports to be hit with tariffs. His demands are vague and continually shifting. This doesn't look like the way to win a trade war. But then I remembered we are talking about reality TV show host Donald Trump. Winning a trade war for this reality TV show star doesn't mean winning a trade war in the way that economists might envision. It's not a question of forcing concessions from trading partners that will improve our trade balance and the overall health of the economy. It's a question of being able to hold something up that allows Trump to declare victory. That doesn't require much."

Interesting interview on The Majority Report: The Fall of Wisconsin w/ Dan Kaufman - MR Live - 7/25/2018. A lot of us wondered about that.

Bernie Sanders takes on institutional racism and gets accused of not making the connection with institutional racism. That's not the headline of the article, which is where the accusation is actually made, but the first comment below the article is a great response.

I like the way it's framed in The New York Times, complete with a photo of Bernie at the top, "'Modern Day Debtors' Prisons': The time has come to end cash bail, a major factor in inequality in the court system. Despite releasing a comprehensive and remarkably radical criminal justice reform agenda in 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders was accused throughout his presidential campaign of being insufficiently concerned with the topic, and of habitually changing the subject to economics. The reality is that Mr. Sanders has the clearest insight into the connections between criminal justice issues and economic inequality of any major politician today. And nowhere, perhaps, are those connections more obvious than in the instance of cash bail."

Not sure whether I posted this article when it came out in 2009, but whenever I think about this stuff, I want to smack Bill Clinton and his little friends around the room. "How Congress Rushed a Bill that Helped Bring the Economy to Its Knees: n the waning days of the 106th Congress and the Clinton administration, Congress met in a lame-duck session to complete work on a variety of appropriations bills that were not passed prior to the 2000 election. There were other, unmet pet priorities of some lawmakers that were under consideration as well. One of those pet priorities was a 262-page deregulatory bill, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. Tucked into a bloated 11,000 page conference report as a rider, with little consideration and no time for review, this bill would be viewed only eight years later as part of the failure of our political system abetting a financial storm that brought the world to its knees."

"The Elite Fixation With Russiagate: Does a broader public share this sense of crisis?" The public seems less concerned with Russia than with bread & butter issues, Trump is even being harsher toward Russia than Obama was, and no one meddles with our foreign policy like that great puppeteer, Bebe Netenyahu.

"Russiagate Covers Up Black Vote Theft: The corporate media and their friends in the Democratic Party are whipping up so much hatred and disinformation that it is almost impossible to discuss Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin. Putin is a multi-purpose villain. He is blamed for the vote theft conducted by white Americans against black people that resulted in the Donald Trump presidency. What is clear is that the Republicans stole the 2016 election for Donald Trump with a combination of voter suppression and outright theft directed against black people. Trump supposedly won the state of Michigan) by a 10,000 vote margin, but more than 75,000 votes cast in majority black cities Flint and Detroit went uncounted because of 'malfunctioning' voting machines. An additional 449,000 voters in that state were purged from the rolls through the infamous Crosscheck system."

Taibbi, "Taibbi: An Ode to the Feeble Corporate Apology: Some of America's biggest capitalist entities are begging for forgiveness on TV — while barely acknowledging their sins [...] There are times when corporate apologies are appropriate and can be taken at face value. After the Tylenol murders in the '80s, for instance, Johnson & Johnson created a new standard in introducing safety caps and the brand (rightfully) survived. That scandal wasn't the company's fault, but it did the right thing anyway. The three companies apologizing now are a little guiltier."

In Dissent, "The Right-Wing Firestorm That Rages On: A new documentary reveals how the right-wing attack on the national, grassroots anti-poverty group ACORN was a dress rehearsal for our current toxic political culture."

Another documentary, Vanguard of the Revolution: The Real Story of the Black Panther Party

"The Big Tent Is Really No Tent: Why the Democrats' Old Guard Has to Get Out of the Way: It's time for the party to follow the people and back a set of progressive policies and candidates that put people first. 'The nearly complete defeat of the centrist, corporate Democrats over the last four decades should have made it obvious that the age of the DLC centrists has been coming to an end for some time."The Democratic Party's leadership would phrase it differently. Something like, 'Their go our people. We must stop them, or they will make us give up our triangulating centrism,' or more likely, '...they will make us give up our corporate campaign contributions.'"

Thomas Frank, "Can liberals please work out how to win back the working class? I'm taking a pause from journalism — while I'm gone, can someone please tell the Democrats that they need to stop betraying the movements that support them. [...] Still, as we are reminded at every turn, this flawed organization is the only weapon we have against the party of Trump. And as the president's blunders take a turn for the monumental and public alarm grows, the imperative of delivering a Democratic wave this fall grows ever more urgent. Make no mistake: it has got to happen. Democrats simply have to take one of the houses of Congress this fall and commence holding Trump accountable. Failure at this baseline mission is unthinkable; it will mean the Democratic party has no reason for being, even on its own compromised terms."

"America's heart of darkness [...] We're about there, I think — perhaps not every single one of us, perhaps not just yet, but the conditions are right and the summer is long. The entire 2016 episode has been, in some sense, an introspective journey into America's own innermost parts, with Donald Trump's victory prompting a nervous self-inventory of what we value, whether our institutions work and to what degree we ought to trust one another. The full contents of that inward odyssey have yet to unfold. But on the question of institutional functioning, the news is unequivocally grim. Like Marlow, even after this particular chapter has ended, we are likely to find ourselves changed by what we've seen."

"2008:Ten Years After the Crash, We Are Still Living in the World It Brutally Remade" — essays by Frank Rich, Sheila Bair (Former head of FDIC), Corey Robin,Robert Shiller,Matt Bruenig, Yves Smith, Boots Riley, Stephanie Kelton, and others, and some depressing statistics.

Here's Mark Ames talking about his experiences in Russia and giving his analysis of what's going on now. Boris Yeltsin in his five years in office dragged Russia into a war in which about 100,000 people were killed, and they lost. The average life expectancy of a Russian male plummeted from 68 years to 56 years. It had a death to birth ratio perhaps never seen in the 20th century, even during war times. People were just dying like flies everywhere. There was no state support, just pure banditry starting with Yeltsin at the top, all the way down. So he had actually — unlike Putin — say what you will about him — but I think even his enemies agree he is very popular. They might blame it on the propaganda, but he is popular. His ratings are still in the 80th percentile range, and he's always been popular. With Yeltsin you had to perform a miracle. This guy was absolutely hated and is still one of the probably two or three most hated Russians in modern history for what he did to the country. And so it was a tough job, and Clinton was also running for re-election that year [1996], and Clinton did not want to be known as the president who 'lost Russia' if Yeltsin's communist opponent won. [...] I didn't see the anger really explode until we bombed Kosovo in 1999. Then suddenly all these Russians turned against us, and it all kind of started make sense to them, but before then you had the most equal society where the privileged people had a somewhat nicer dacha or the really privileged ones maybe had a car, or the super, super privileged had a car and a driver, but no one was a billionaire, and there certainly weren't millions and millions of people starving in the streets or half starving in the streets. So you went from the world's most equal society to the world's most unequal society in a very short period of time. It was incredibly traumatic, and so Putin was brought in. When he first appeared there was this great relief, I think, for a lot of Russians because he was a guy who a) didn't drink, and b) seemed serious, and he seemed like somebody who was more seriously interested in not doing any more experiments on the country. The Russians kept saying, 'We don't want to be experimented on anymore,' and the American attitude was: 'OK we experimented on you, and you died on the operating table. Clearly it's your fault. We need a better patient than you.' Certainly by the end of the 1990s democracy was a bad word in Russia. It was just equated with stealing from everybody."

Richard Eskow, "While Democrats Chase Russians, Republicans Keep Rigging Elections: What does it tell us when leading Democrats are more upset about alleged Russian election-rigging than they are about proven Republican election-rigging? After all, American oligarchs like the Koch Brothers have no more right to undermine our democracy than Russian oligarchs do."

Jonathan Cohn reviews Fear City: New York's Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics [...] Fear City focuses on New York City's 1973 financial crisis, the result of which was a steep retrenchment of city government -- which no longer provided the robust public services that it had by mid-century. As Phillips-Fein observes, contrary to the neoliberal mantra of "there is no alternative," there were many alternatives at every step of the way leading to New York's near-bankruptcy. Many of the roots of the crisis were out of New York City's hands, instead the results of federal policies that incentivized out-migration into suburbia and state policies that hamstrung the city's ability to raise tax revenue."

"How American Economics is Ruining Your Life [...] It's almost impossible to overstate just how uniquely bad American life is — school shootings, medical bankruptcies, young people trying to crowdfund insulin, skyrocketing suicide rates, opioid epidemics, one year olds on trial. These things don't happen anywhere else in the world, really. Not even poor countries. And yet Americans live uniquely wretched and ruined lives not because the hand of fate fell — but largely because American economics destined them to. "

Sam Seder on The Majority Report, Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity w/ Lilliana Mason - MR Live - 7/30/18

Bill Black Interview, The Truth About the 2008 Financial Meltdown and How it Contributed to Trump's Rise (Pt 1/2) and (Pt 2/2)

You know, it really does seem like Debbie Wasserman Schultz is bad for Florida. She's not bringing home the bacon for the state and she's even refusing to spend money the voters made available to clean up the local environment. You just might think she's corrupt.

"London erects 25-foot Jeff Goldblum statue to commemorate 'Jurassic Park's 25th anniversary: They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should build a 25-foot replica of Jeff Goldblum."

I can't remember if I've linked this before, but it just made me feel better so I'm linking it anyway: "Old Movie Stars Dance to Uptown Funk"

Face Vocal Band, "The Parting Glass"

"Boz Scaggs Processes The Past And Rebuilds For The Future [...] Out of the Blues includes covers of songs by Bobby "Blue" Bland, Jimmy Reed and Samuel "Magic Sam" Maghett, as well as a cover of Neil Young's "On the Beach." The Young song deals with loss and despair, which Scaggs faced directly when his house and all its contents burned in the Napa, Calif., wildfires last year. "It simply all is gone," he says. "It has you reaching for all sorts of answers and conclusions and ways to take it in.""

Steve Miller Band/Boz Scaggs, "Baby's Calling Me Home"

22:47 GMT comment


Saturday, 21 July 2018

The only time I feel all right is by your side

Bernie Sanders held a CEOs vs Workers Town Hall. Donut Twitter* went insane with tweets to the effect of, "How dare he talk about unimportant stuff like this when Trump had a lousy press conference in Russia!"

"How to Survive America's Kill List: When a U.S. citizen heard he was on his own country's drone target list, he wasn't sure he believed it. After five near-misses, he does — and is suing the United States to contest his own execution." There's an irony here. This guy spent a couple of hours trying to explain that "democracy" in America has nothing to do with policy, that Americans have little or no input into what an administration might actually do, that a majority of Americans are not necessarily in favor of droning Muslim weddings. The person he was explaining it to was an Al Queda leader, and that "association" is very possibly why this American citizen is being targeted for murder by our government.

"Charges Dropped Against Remaining J20 Inauguration Day Protesters: Federal prosecutors dropped all charges against the 38 remaining defendants arrested and charged with rioting during the Disrupt J20 protests on Donald Trump's Inauguration Day. The dismissal brings an end to the nearly 18-month saga that saw 234 protesters threatened with as much as 60 years in prison for their alleged roles in the destruction of property on January 20, 2017."

"AT&T promised lower prices after Time Warner merger — it's raising them instead: AT&T is raising the base price of its DirecTV Now streaming service by $5 per month, despite promising in court that its acquisition of Time Warner Inc. would lower TV prices. [...] Just two months ago, AT&T said in a court filing that buying Time Warner would allow it to lower TV prices. The US Department of Justice tried to stop the merger, arguing that it would raise prices for consumers, but a federal judge sided with AT&T. The merger was completed on June 15. AT&T scoffed at the Justice Department's argument that the merger would raise prices. The telecomm giant wrote in its post-trial brief that the merger will 'enabl[e] AT&T and Time Warner to reduce consumer prices.'"

"Federal judge dismisses suit over literacy rights in Detroit: A federal judge has dismissed an unprecedented civil lawsuit filed on behalf of Detroit students fighting to establish literacy is a U.S. constitutional right. In the suit filed in 2016 through a California public interest law firm, the youths alleged the conditions of their schools are so poor and inadequate they had not received the best education and were denied access to literacy on account of their races, violating their rights under the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. But attorneys for Gov. Rick Snyder and state education officials have said no fundamental right to literacy exists for Detroit schoolchildren. The lawyers had asked the judge to reject what they have called an 'attempt to destroy the American tradition of democratic control of schools.'" This is unpardonable, Rick Snyder should be arrested for fraud against taxpayers, and judges like this should be locked in a room and forced to read the Preamble over and over until they understand what "promote the general Welfare" means.

"U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials: A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly. Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother's milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes. Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations."

"Ethiopia and Eritrea declare war 'has come to an end': Leaders of Horn of Africa nations sign joint peace agreement, officially ending decades of diplomatic and armed strife."

Israel officially becomes a a racist, apartheid theocracy: "Israel Passes Controversial Jewish Nation-state Bill After Stormy Debate: 62 lawmakers vote in favor of the bill after a stormy debate ¦ Arab lawmakers tossed out after they tear bill in protest, call it 'apartheid law'."

"A $1 billion Gates Foundation-backed education initiative failed to help students, according to a new report — here's what happened: [...] The initiative, called the Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching, didn't improve student graduation rates or schools' ability to retain effective teachers." What really happened is that two people who thought because they were rich they were also "smart" on issues they knew nothing about could just inject themselves and their money into a vital area and, as a result, helped to completely wreck our educational system. They were not educators and had no reason at all to think they knew more than experienced teachers knew, but they just jumped right in and gave the whole charter school movement the boost it needed to be saleable to people who were unwise enough to think that there is any better way to get good student outcomes than to have experienced teachers who are rewarded with a living wage and pension teaching those students. Experience, you see, is the best teacher.

"Ro Khanna Says He'Ll Rally Support For Barbara Lee If She Makes Bid For Democratic Leadership: REP. RO KHANNA plans to throw his full weight behind Barbara Lee, his fellow representative from California, if she makes a final decision to run for caucus chair, a leadership position being vacated by New York's Rep. Joe Crowley. "

"California Democratic Party Snubs Feinstein, Endorses de León in Senate Race: Longtime California Senator Dianne Feinstein lost the California Democratic Party's endorsement, in a stunning vote Saturday night at the party's executive board meeting in Oakland. Though the vote was expected to be close, state Senator Kevin de León rather easily crossed the 60 percent threshold necessary for endorsement."

"The Dialysis Industry Is Putting Profits Over Patients. A California Democratic Party Official Is Quietly Helping Them: EARLIER THIS WEEK, the California Democratic Party announced that it would no longer accept contributions from the private prison industry, and that it would donate the $160,000 it received from the top two prison operators — GEO Group and CoreCivic — to organizations that assist immigrants and ex-offenders. It was a heartening reversal of pay-to-play politics, made possible by an organized activist movement capitalizing on financial disclosure. But pay-to-play still has a role within the party. According to financial statements, party vice chair Alex Gallardo-Rooker received $30,000 in the first quarter of this year from opponents of a controversial ballot measure that would cap patient payments at outpatient dialysis facilities. She waited several weeks to make a written disclosure of this relationship, contravening the party bylaws. And critics claim that she continues to stay quiet about her role as a paid consultant, even while attempting to persuade party members to oppose the initiative. It's unclear whether Gallardo-Rooker continued receiving payments after March; second-quarter financial statements have not yet been released."

"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Democratic Primary Opponent Will Remain on the Ballot Because of Some Bullshit [...] If you are wondering why in the fuck this is happening, you can thank New York's byzantine election laws and the stubbornness of bad men. As the New York Times explains, Crowley received the endorsement of the Working Families Party, a group of labor unions and activists that has also backed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon. But after Ocasio-Cortez's primary win, Bill Lipton, the state director of the Working Families Party, reached out to Crowley's team and asked that he vacate the line. Crowley, however, declined. This means he'll remain on the ballot, which is certainly a curious decision to make!"

Pareen, "Haim Saban Is Bad For Democracy: Last month, twelve Democratic senators signed a letter from the office of Sen. Bernie Sanders to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asking the Trump administration 'to do more to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.' The letter was sent following a series of protests by Gazans that were met with overwhelming, deadly force by Israel, which has had Gaza under a punishing blockade for more than a decade. [...] In response, Haim Saban, a billionaire media mogul and longtime 'megadonor' to the Democratic Party, wrote a pissy email to each of those senators (sent to some of their personal addresses, probably just to make the point that he had their personal email addresses), listing, in syntax and tone typical of conservative chain emails, various reasons why Israel's treatment of Palestinians, and Gazans in particular, must never, ever be criticized. It doesn't even address the actual issues and concerns laid out in the letter to Pompeo; it is merely a collection of braindead talking points."

I'm not sure I can quite unpack all of this, but Marcy Wheeler is "Putting A Face (Mine) To The Risks Posed By GOP Games On Mueller Investigation [...] I'm making this public now because a David Ignatius report Thursday maps out an imminent deal with Russia and Israel that sounds like what was described to me within hours of the election. This deal appears to be the culmination of an effort that those involved in the Russian attack worked to implement within hours after the election." She talked with Sam Seder about this on The Majority Report.

Zaid Jilani at The Intercept, "Health Care Blunder Reveals Michigan Candidate For Governor's 'Progressive' Branding Is False Advertising." There are three people in this race — one who seems to be the genuine article, one who looks like a guy with too much money who is pandering as a "progressive", and one who is the corporate-backed establishment candidate (and is in the lead because the progressive vote is being split).

Libby Watson at Splinter, "Tim Geithner Is Living His Best Post-Obama Life by Running Scam to Bleed Poor People Dry: Sorry if you had anyone else winning in your Most Hideous Career After Leaving the Obama Administration bracket, because Tim Geithner just blew the competition out the water. The Washington Post has a detailed and devastating report, published Sunday evening, about the predatory lending activities of Mariner Finance, a company 'owned and managed by a $11.2 billion private equity fund controlled by Warburg Pincus,' of which Geithner is president. Cool job, Tim!"

Briahna Gray, also commenting on the Abrams-Evans race in Georgia, says, "Fetishizing 'Identity Politics' Could Cost Democrats In 2020 [...] IT'S NECESSARY, HERE, to define 'identity politics,' since a failure to do so is at the root of most of the controversy around the subject. Critics on the right generally define identity politics as any reference to racial, sexual, or gender identities, whether as calls to solidarity or a recognition of the particular harms those groups face because of their identities. This is wrong. But critics from the left don't generally question the political or cultural relevance of identities, or the extent to which they serve as important axes for political mobilization. Instead, the leftist critique condemns the 'weaponization' of identity — the cynical emphasis on personal identity over political beliefs in order to advance candidates whose interests are inapposite to the needs of the groups they're presumed to represent. See, for example, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders's claim that Democrats who 'support women's empowerment' but critique Gina Haspel's nomination for CIA director are 'hypocrite[s].' Or the idea that Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor who once criminalized truancy and oversaw the country's second largest non-federal prison population as the attorney general of California, is necessarily a good standard bearer for political justice reform."

"Why Did the Rhode Island Democratic Party Endorse an Alt-Right Supporter Over a Progressive Incumbent? Walsh has since been a progressive voice in the legislature and supports increasing the minimum wage and marijuana legalization. She also caused a stir in March when she said in a radio interview that there was an 'insane amount of drinking' among legislators at the statehouse. All this might go some way towards explaining why the state Democratic Party has endorsed her opponent in the upcoming primaries — a man who appears to have once been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump and alt-right figures."

"Patreon Is Suspending Adult Content Creators Because of Its Payment Partners: The subscription crowdfunding platform Patreon confirmed that they are increasing efforts to review content, due to payment processor pressure. [...] 'This is bigger than us & Patreon. It's a world wide crack down on freedom of expression, on women, on marginalised people, on sex and sex work, on non conventional forms of labour that counter the status quo: the domination of corporations and patriarchy. On dissent,' Ashley wrote. 'Just to be clear what is at stake, this is my whole income, my livelihood.'"

Alex Jones discovered the left's plans to start a second civil war on July 4th. Hilarity ensues.

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone, "We Need a Financial Transactions Tax Before It's Too Late: As the country sits atop a giant debt-bomb, measures are needed to rein in excess speculation"

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "How the capitalist class is strangling the American economy [...] Why the capitalist class does this is something of a mystery. Don't they love growth? Well, they do, but only under the right circumstances. They present themselves as concerned with growth, productivity, and output above all else, but it turns out they are in reality a lot more concerned with high profits and a politically quiescent working class. A big economic boom is fine, but a tight labor market requiring wage increases that come out of the capitalist share of the corporate surplus — or worse, workers confident that they can get another job organizing union drives — is horrifying to them. Our capitalist overlords think they deserve easy profits and beaten-down workers who will take crappy wages and bad benefits without a peep or protests, and mobilize politically to rig the economy to make that happen."

Also Ryan Cooper, "The new Republican Gilded Age [...] The basic idea is to reconfigure the American state to serve only the interests of business: forbidding as much regulation of industry as possible, and using violent state power to suppress the inevitable backlash from the rest of society. America once had much of its democratic nature cored out by rapacious capitalists. It could happen again."

"Yes, Normal Republican Elites Are a Threat to Democracy [...] In its mission to undermine popular government — so as to insulate the policy preferences of reactionary elites from majoritarian opinion — elected Republicans have received the indispensable aid of normal conservative jurists like Brett Kavanaugh. Over the past decade, the Roberts court has worked to systematically increase the influence that concentrated wealth can exert over American politics, while vetoing democratically enacted attempts to either constrain that influence, or else to buck the substantive preferences of the Republican donor class. The court's efforts on this front include abolishing virtually all restrictions on corporate spending in American elections; overturning an Arizona law that attempted to counter such spending by providing candidates with public funds; legalizing most forms of political bribery; and gutting anti-trust law. In sum: The modern Republican Party has demonstrated a commitment to suppressing voter participation; reducing the influence of majorities over electoral outcomes; and subordinating the policy preferences of its own constituents to those of reactionary elites. It has further demonstrated a willingness to achieve the latter end by lying to its own base about its intentions for public policy; obfuscating the policy-making process to limit public awareness of the government's activities; appointing activist judges who will veto democratically enacted legislation on dubious grounds; and stoking the most incendiary cultural divisions in American life.

"Democrats ignore the left at their peril. Midwesterners aren't scared of socialism — they're hungry for it. Some members of the Democratic establishment argue that bold, left-wing platforms can't win elections. They're wrong."

Hamilton Nolan at Splinter, "This Is Just the Beginning: Do you think that being asked to leave a restaurant, or having your meal interrupted, or being called by the public is bad? My fascism-enabling friends, this is only the beginning. One thing that people who wield great power often fail to viscerally understand is what it feels like to have power wielded against you. This imbalance is the source of many of the most monstrous decisions that get made by powerful people and institutions." I like this approach even though I disagree that they don't understand how it feels. I think they love knowing they can make you feel that way and you can't do anything about it. What they underestimate is that even in this society, you can still damage those people if you really come to believe you have nothing to lose.

From Tom Scocca at Gawker, an interesting essay On Smarm [...] But why are nastiness and snideness taken to be features of our age? One general point of agreement, in denunciations of snark, is that snark is reactive. It is a kind of response. Yet to what is it responding? Of what is it contemptuous? Stand against snark, and you are standing with everything decent. And who doesn't want to be decent? The snarkers don't, it seems. Or at least they (let's be honest: we) don't want to be decent on those terms."

Here's an interesting development: "'Tea Party Liberal' Promises To Bring A Blue Wave To West Virginia: Richard Ojeda joined the Army because he says it seemed like the most reasonable choice he had growing up; his alternative options, he says, were to 'dig coal' or 'sell dope.' So he chose the Army, where he spent more than two decades. But when he came home to Logan County, W.Va., he was stunned. "I come home from spending 24 years in the United States Army and I realize I got kids in my backyard that have it worse than the kids I saw in Iraq and Afghanistan," he shouts into the microphone during an interview."

My favorite 4th of July moment, of course, was Therese Okoumou climbing the base of the Statue of Liberty to demand that immigrant children be reuinted with their parents. The police, of course, "rescued" her with a choke-hold, but hey, that's freedom in America. I mean, she's black, whaddaya expect?

I reckon the best take came on The Michael Brooks Show when Matt Taibbi came in to talk about Centrism Isn't Sexy & Are Russian Spies Among Us?. But I don't know what all the "unprecedented" stuff is about - it's hardly as if we haven't seen this before.
Taibbi's article referred to in the show is here.)
Also on TMBS:
TMBS - 43 - How Not To Do Identity Politics ft. Asad Haider & Alyona Minkovski
TMBS - 47 - SCOTUS v. Democracy & What Beats Fascism ft. Harvey Kaye

On Majority Report:
The Kurds Anarchist Liberation Struggle w/ David Graeber - MR Live - 7/9/18
Our New Restoration Story w/ George Monbiot - MR Live - 7/3/18
Casual Friday w/ Nomiki Konst - MR Live - 6/29/18
How Jesse Helms Invented the Republican Party w/ Nick Martin - MR Live - 7/19/18

Putting this here as a reminder: Yvette Carnell - Breaking Brown

Seymour Hersh on who controls the news agenda around Donald Trump

RIP: "Ed Schultz, Former MSNBC Host, Dies at 64." I had my problems with this guy, but he didn't like being pushed into being partisan-no-matter-what, and I gotta respect that. Here's an interesting interview he did with a guy from The National Review in which he talks about how MSNBC wouldn't let him cover Bernie Sanders and why he prefers working for RT America.

It's always good to remember that Tim Geithner should take much responsibility as the architect of our current woes. He wrote an autobiographical book to "explain" how he, in indifferent student who grew up entirely ordinary just happened to become the hero of the 2007 financial crisis, and, as Matt Stoller noted, nothing about that story rings true. The Con-Artist Wing of the Democratic Party: The most consequential event of this young century has been the financial crisis. But is the party of Obama ready to come to terms with its own role in the disaster? [...] You see the same rhetorical tricks and traps as we move to Geithner's tenure as president of the New York Federal Reserve, which began in 2003. Much of the discussion of Geithner's book and his time in office is essentially a rehash of the strategies pursued during the bailouts. As with the hot money flows, Geithner pretends he was part of the solution, not the cause of the problem. But Geithner also played a huge role in the run-up of leverage in the financial system, a role he lies about when discussing his time at the Fed. Geithner served at the New York Fed until 2008, and this region was the center of the financial universe, the place where profits from the boom were husbanded and collected. The New York Fed regulated Citigroup, a massive systemic risk requiring multiple bailouts and obscure financial supporting arrangements. Thus, lying about his tolerance for this run-up in leverage, and about his distance from the financial industry, is critical in painting a later portrait of a cautious but savvy crisis manager." Countries that took Geithner's advice did poorly, and those who ignored it did just fine. And then Obama put him in charge of our economy.

David Dayen's "Inhuman Resources" at The Huffington Post is a harrowing tale of a decent guy on Wall Street who tried to help a colleague who was the victim of harassment and became one himself, but I'd personally like to slap whoever coded the page so that it flutters around when you page to the next section. I hate these sliding sections and giant illustrations all over the place. Someone should make it stop.

Mark Evanier has A Harlan Ellison story and promises more. By actual count, there are 8,448,329 anecdotes about Harlan Ellison, 7,609,224 of which are actually true. This is one that fits into both categories and it involves a man named Julius Schwartz who was an important editor for DC Comics and a semi-important figure in the science-fiction community. Julie and Harlan had an extremely close relationship that some would describe as "father-son." Some would also tell you that at times, Julie — though he was nineteen years older than Harlan — was in the "son" role. Most of the time though, Julie was the obstreperous adult and Harlan, the even-more-obstreperous child. Every Wednesday morning for a very long time, Julie (in the DC offices in New York) would phone Harlan (in his home in Southern California) and they'd talk about anything and everything. One day around 1971, the topic somehow ventured to the notion of Harlan, who had done very little writing for comic books, writing a Batman story. Julie Schwartz was the editor of Batman and Detective Comics at the time. Harlan did not want to do it with any sort of deadline but he said he would come up with something in the near future. "

Badass: Stagecoach Mary Fields: Up until her death in 1914 at the age of 82, Old West badass "Stagecoach" Mary Fields had a standing bet at her local saloon: Five bucks and a glass of whiskey said she could knock out any cowboy in Cascade, Montana with a single punch."

Um, "'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Series Reboot With Black Lead In Works From Monica Owusu-Breen & Joss Whedon." I have real problems with the idea of a black woman being named "Buffy".

It's amazing what you can find by accident on the intertubes. Here's Peter Tatchell and me on The James Whale Show talking about the gay age of consent back when we were trying to get it changed. (Our bit starts about halfway through.) Alas, they cut out some of my favorite lines.

"The Kinks to reunite after two decades apart" Ray Davies confirms that he's been working on a new album with Dave.

The Kinks, "All Day and All of the Night", live.

15:45 GMT comment


Monday, 02 July 2018

Not working just to survive

See, here's what happens: I start thinking I'd better hurry up and upload this latest post I'm working on, and if I can just get that last link on the primaries I can post, and then Sam Seder says Anthony Kennedy has just announced his retirement, and I'm, "Oh, no," and then I think, okay, just that one more, and then Roz sends me her latest poem and I see the first line and I'm, blinking at the screen and "What? Harlan died?" Okay, we all know there were troublesome things about him, though I have to say he was always nice to me, but I'd seen him be not so nice, too. I think Cory said it best for me about all that ambivalent feeling he provoked, but my eyes still got wet. He was a lot of things, and he stood up for civil rights and women's rights, and sometimes he wasn't the best person he could be, you bet - and as with everything else, he did that big and public, too. But you can check out Variety, Guardian, and I see File770 has a whole bunch more. Oh, and Mark Evanier, of course.

And then there was that shooting at the Capital Gazette, and as if I didn't feel shell-shocked enough, half the links I tried to grab tell me they are suddenly no longer available in Europe.

That Majority Report link has a lot of material about the NY primary before the sudden interruption by Kennedy's retirement announcement, including Joe Crowley's concession featuring his surprisingly good performance of "Born to Run". And Thursday's show was on SCOTUS Apocalypse & Organizing Post-Janus w/ Ian Millhiser & Jane McAlevey.

Most of the media seemed not to have heard of her before she won the primary, and gave her no coverage, but one exception was The Intercept, which, among other things, did this interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which gives you a good sense of the candidate. (At one point she tweeted some photos under her caption, "A girl has no name," with headlines from newspapers that announced Joe Crowley's loss to a "challenger" without even using her name. Joy Reid actually tweeted that she - and most of her colleagues - were having to do remedial study of who she was. And then the alt-center all ran to the media to explain why this win doesn't mean anything. Tammy Duckworth even claimed that AO-C was fine for the Bronx but her priorities couldn't win in the midwest - that'd be the same midwest that voted for Bernie but not for Hillary.)

While I was waiting for the polls to close, I read, "97%:Why Incumbents Are So Hard to Defeat, and What It Means That a Working Class Latina Candidate Might Just Do It to One of the Most Powerful Political Bosses in the Country: In my time working and volunteering for political campaigns, I learned why 97% of incumbent politicians won re-election in 2016. I want to go into this phenomenon, noting every advantage incumbent candidates have, at least the ones that I've noticed, to underscore how dramatic the odds that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is facing are, and how historic a win by her would be. The support she's gotten is already close to unheard of." In New York they make it especially hard, by the way - you have to come back to vote for your nominee for governor separately, in September, - so no coat-tails, either.

Later: She wiped the floor with him. "Rep. Joe Crowley, one of the top Democrats in the House of Representatives, lost his New York primary in a shocking upset on Tuesday night to community organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Crowley, having fundraised nearly $3 million for the race in New York's 14th District, fell easily to a first-time candidate with a viral introduction video, a Democratic Socialists of America membership card, and a proudly leftist agenda. She ran on Medicare-for-all, a federal jobs guarantee, and getting tough on Wall Street. The race was called just before 10 pm for Ocasio-Cortez." Looks like 58%-42%. I'm going to bed, too sleepy to post.

Meanwhile, in another race we were watching, Emily Sirota won Colorado's 9th District, 54.29%-45.71, but I can't find a story to link to yet. Well, I saw some headlines that wouldn't let me in, so this is the best I can do.

Also, Maryland could elect its first African-American governor this fall: Democrats nominated Ben Jealous in their primary on Tuesday. [...] Despite being a first-time political candidate, Jealous dominated a crowded fight for the Democratic nomination, triumphing over a wide range of political veterans including a former adviser to Hillary Clinton and a Maryland state senator. Polls had Jealous and Baker in close range of one another ahead of Tuesday's election."

* * * * *

Eric Levitz in New York Magazine, "In Hindsight, Democrats Really Mishandled That Merrick Garland Thing [...] But one can also sprinkle a scintilla of blame on whoever convinced the last Democratic administration to nominate a middle-aged, white male centrist to the Supreme Court — and to then argue for his confirmation on grounds of procedural norms, rather than ideological goals. [...] In hindsight, it's hard to argue that Democrats did everything in their power to increase the salience of such questions. For example, imagine if Barack Obama had nominated the first African-American woman to the Supreme Court — one who was young, and unabashedly progressive in her jurisprudence. When McConnell subsequently vetoed her appointment — and thereby nullified Obama's attempt to give a modicum of representation in the halls of high power to the Democratic Party's most loyal constituency — wouldn't it have been easier to mobilize the Democratic base in outrage, than it was to rally them behind Merrick Garland?"

"The Supreme Court may have just killed public unions: The case, Janus v. AFSCME, dealt with the fees that public unions can collect from non-members. In a 5-4 decision, the justices ruled that people who aren't union members but are represented by a public union cannot be forced to pay fees because fees violate their freedom of speech. Instead, union dues must be opt-in only."

"In 'Severe Blow' to Voting Rights, Supreme Court Preserves GOP Gerrymanders in Texas and North Carolina: In a victory for "GOP racial gerrymanders everywhere" and a significant loss for voting rights, the Supreme Court's conservative majority on Monday overturned a lower court ruling and revived electoral districts drawn by Texas Republicans that many experts say are blatantly designed to discriminate against minorities. Compounding what has already been a rough several days for activists and legal experts working to combat gerrymandering nationwide, the Supreme Court also decided to send a major North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case back to a lower court, leaving intact congressional maps that rights groups argue were drawn to discriminate against Democratic voters."

This should scare you: "Younger generations make up a majority of the electorate, but may not be a majority of voters this November [...] It's difficult to predict who will turn out to vote in the upcoming 2018 midterm. A reasonable scenario might be that eligible voters would turn out as they have, on average, in past midterm elections. Gen Xers and Millennials have consistently underperformed in terms of voter turnout in midterm elections, compared with Boomers when they were the same age. Millennials have had the opportunity to vote in four midterm elections (2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014). Among Millennials who were between the ages of 18 and 24 during these elections, 20% turned out to vote, on average. By comparison, 26% of Boomers in that same age range turned out to vote in midterm elections between 1978 and 1986."

"Democrats are losing the millennial vote and need to change message: Millennials are at best soft Democrats. Many got enthused and mobilized by Barack Obama in 2008 and largely hung around for Obama in 2012 and, even less, Clinton in 2016. But many seem to have had enough. And who could blame them? Clinton's campaign mainly targeted the illusive 'moderate Republican', the white, middle-aged middle class. And since her shock defeat, many prominent Democrats have pivoted towards the cliched 'Trump voter' as defined by the liberal media, ie a middle-aged to older white, working-class male."

* * * * *

Public Policy Polling says that voters like gun control and the DREAM Act, don't want to arm teachers in schools, and don't like the wall. And you'll never guess who the favorite against Trump in the next presidential election is so far... er, yes, you will.

Q35 If the candidates for President next time were Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican
Donald Trump, who would you vote for?
Kirsten Gillibrand ..............42%
Donald Trump ....................40%
Not sure ........................18%

Q36 If the candidates for President next time were Democrat Kamala Harris and Republican Donald Trump, who would you vote for?
Kamala Harris ...................43%
Donald Trump ....................39%
Not sure ........................18%

Q37 If the candidates for President next time were Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump, who would you vote for?
Bernie Sanders ..................55%
Donald Trump ....................39%
Not sure .........................6%

Q38 If the candidates for President next time were Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Republican Donald Trump, who would you vote for?
Elizabeth Warren ................51%
Donald Trump ...................40%
Not sure ........................9%

* * * * *

"Trump Administration Won't Say How A Random CBP Agent Would Know Of A Reporter's Personal Travel: The Justice Department says an apparent Customs and Border Protection agent identified as Jeffrey Rambo was not involved in its leak investigation. [...] In June 2017, Rambo, whose official role CBP also refuses to explain, contacted national security reporter Ali Watkins, identified himself as a government agent and implied that he could be a source, according to The Washington Post. But when they met, he grilled her about her work and her personal life, noting the dates and locations of international trips she took with James Wolfe, then the director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee, whom she was dating. Rambo didn't give Watkins his name, but he mentioned that the Trump administration was aggressively investigating journalists and their sources. But Customs and Border Protection is not normally involved in investigations of national security leaks. The Justice Department, which handles such matters, says it didn't ask Rambo for help."

"MOVE Member Debbie Africa Released: Philadelphia — In the early morning of June 16, after nearly 40 years of unjust imprisonment by the state of Pennsylvania, political prisoner and MOVE 9 member Debbie Sims Africa was granted parole and released from the State Correctional Institution-Cambridge Springs. [...] This Aug. 8 marks the 40th anniversary of the all-out assault by thousands of police on the MOVE house in 1978. When the family still refused to leave their home, police launched an early morning raid, using thousands of rounds of munitions, water cannons and tear gas to destroy the compound and drive the family out. During the raid, Philadelphia Police Officer James P. Ramp was killed by a shot to the back of the head. All MOVE 9 members were convicted of third-degree murder and conspiracy, even though no evidence linked any of them to the shooting. In fact, by immediately razing the entire property, police destroyed any potential evidence that would have helped the MOVE 9 prove their innocence. Police made no efforts to preserve the crime scene or measure for ballistic angles."

Even The American Conservative seems to be to the left of the Democratic Party leadership. "The Conservative Case for Universal Healthcare: Don't tell anyone, but American conservatives will soon be embracing single-payer healthcare, or some other form of socialized healthcare. Yes, that's a bold claim given that a GOP-controlled Congress and President are poised to un-socialize a great deal of healthcare, and may even pull it off. But within five years, plenty of Republicans will be loudly supporting or quietly assenting to universal Medicare. And that's a good thing, because socializing healthcare is the only demonstrably effective way to control costs and cover everyone. It results in a healthier country and it saves a ton of money."

"Russiagate's 'Core Narrative' Has Always Lacked Actual Evidence: The unprecedented allegation that the Kremlin 'attacked America' and 'colluded' with its president in order to elect him is based on two documents devoid of facts or logic. [...] Intentionally or not — one former intelligence officer called it a 'deliberate misrepresentation' — the ICA, by using the term 'Community,' gave the impression that its findings were the consensus of all '17 US intelligence agencies,' even though it was signed by only three (the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA) and by the overseeing director of national intelligence, James Clapper. This canard was widely deployed by pro-Clinton media and by her campaign until The New York Times belatedly corrected it in June 2017. But even then, anti-Trump forces continue to deploy a deceptive formulation, insisting that the ICA narrative was 'a consensus of the intelligence community.' That was false on two counts. Clapper subsequently admitted he had personally selected for the ICA analysts from the three agencies, but we still do not know who. No doubt these were analysts who would conform to the 'core narrative' of Kremlin-Trump collusion, possibly even one or more of the FBI officials now exposed for their 'bias.' Second, on one crucial finding, the NSA had only 'moderate confidence,' not the 'high confidence' of the CIA and FBI. This has yet to be explained. Still more, the ICA provided almost no facts for its 'assessment.' Remarkably, even the Times, which has long been a leading promoter of the Russiagate narrative, noticed this immediately: 'What is missing,' one of its lead analysts wrote, is 'hard evidence to back up the agencies' claims.' Even more remarkable but little noticed, the ICA authors buried at the end this nullifying disclaimer about their 'assessment': 'Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.' What did that mean? Apparently, that after all the damning and ramifying allegations made in the report, the authors had no 'proof' that any of them were a 'fact.'"

"Here's Why the Hope of a 'Blue Wave' in November Is Dangerous to Democracy [...] Given the uphill climb for congressional representation that Democrats have in front of them (especially for the progressive subset of the party) it's clear that the midterms will largely be decided by the people who find a reason to vote. Pew Research shows Republicans generally have higher turnout than Democrats. Democrats might reconsider any 'we got this' conclusions or talk of blue waves. Overconfidence cost them in 2016, and for democracy's sake, they can't let themselves fall into the same trap."

The "Resistance" — or "The Assistance", as we call them — has decided they love them some Adam Schiff as one of their choice alternatives to the evil Bernie Sanders. He is frequently on the list of bright young Dems who should replace the old guard. A virulent Russia conspiracy theorist, there are reasons not to think he's a good choice. "Resistance leader? Not really. Democratic congressman Adam Schiff personifies the link between foreign policy hawks and deep-pocketed defense contractors."

Haaretz, "Israel Is Gunning for Its Gatekeepers" A bill that would in effect let cabinet members choose their ministries' legal advisers is part of the coalition's program to eliminate checks on its power. [...] The 'selection committee' would exist in name only, a way to whitewash the complete politicization of the position of ministry counsel. In the name of governability, Shaked seeks to eliminate the gatekeeper function of the legal adviser, protecting human and minority rights and fighting corruption and damage to proper public administration."

"After 2 Months of Unrest, Nicaragua Is at a Fateful Crossroads [...] How did it begin? Nicaragua has a backstory of violence: the revolutionary struggles of the 1970s against the repressive Somoza dictatorship, followed by the US-financed Contra war against the revolutionary Sandinista government in the 1980s (the US role in that war was condemned by the World Court in 1986 as a violation of international law). Electoral defeat for the Sandinistas in 1990 brought peace, but at the expense of 16 years of corrupt, neoliberal government that undid many of the gains of the revolution. Daniel Ortega's election win in 2006 led to a decade of renewed social investment. Poverty fell by almost half between 2005 and 2016, according to World Bank data, from 48 percent to 25 percent. Nicaragua won praise for its low crime rate, limited drug-related violence, and community-based policing. Nor could the private sector complain: Nicaragua's per-capita GDP increased by 38 percent — more than for any of its neighbors. [...] It seems clear that repression of the initial student demonstration was a grave error of judgment by the police. But there is growing evidence that subsequent events were manipulated so as to magnify discontent. For example, according to a reliable eyewitness, before the ransacking of a supermarket in Managua those doing it were seen to be given Sandinista T-shirts to wear. Burning of buildings is routinely ascribed to Sandinistas, even when it is party officials' houses that are destroyed, or in city streets under the opposition's control. Police in Managua apprehended a known criminal nicknamed 'The Viper' who confessed to plotting with the protesters to carry out armed attacks on shops and FSLN offices. Even the evidence against the police for the shooting at the opposition march on Mother's Day has been called into question, in an open letter to Amnesty International by a former prisoner of conscience. The fact that gunmen are working with the opposition was confirmed by the attempted assassination of Leonel Morales, a student leader who strongly criticized the protesters. On June 12 he was kidnapped, shot, and left for dead in a ditch, an incident at first ignored by the right-wing media, then ascribed to robbery."

REST IN PEACE: "Dick Leitsch, Whose 'Sip-In' Was a Gay Rights Milestone, Dies at 83: Dick Leitsch, who in 1966 led a pioneering act of civil disobedience to secure the right of gay patrons to be served in a licensed bar, helping to clear the way for gay bars to operate openly in New York State, died on Friday at a hospice center in Manhattan. He was 83."

ROT IN PERDITION: "A Lover Of Death Gets His Wish: Neocon Charles Krauthammer Dead At 68: Fox News contributor, Washington Post columnist and neoconservative thought leader Charles Krauthammer has died of cancer, and there is a mad media rush of establishment eulogies scrambling to canonize him as a great man in the eyes of the public before anyone can step back and take stock of what this man's legacy actually is. This is perfectly understandable, because if social consciousness cements into history what a wheelchair full of toxic human waste Krauthammer actually was, it will make things much more difficult for them to manufacture support for their neoconservative wars going forward."

Nathan J. Robinson says in Current Affairs, "There Is Still Only One Clear Way To Get Rid Of Trump: Let's be honest: running Bernie in 2020 is the best shot the Democrats have at beating Trump... [...] Needless to say, if your party contains a wildly popular politician, with an enthusiastic fan base of young activists, who is adept at speaking to the concerns of the 'Rust Belt' states that lost you the election the last time around, it would seem criminally foolish not to nominate that person as your presidential candidate."

Umair Haque, "Do Americans Understand They're Beginning to Commit The Legal Definition of Genocide? No, You Don't Know What Genocide (Really) Is. But You Should."

"When Both Men and Women Drop Out of the Labor Force, Why Do Economists Only Ask About Men? That's what New York Times readers were wondering when they saw Harvard Economics Professor Greg Mankiw's column, 'Why Aren't Men Working?' The piece notes the falloff in labor force participation among prime-age men (ages 25 to 54) for the last 70 years and throws out a few possible explanations. We'll get to the explanations in a moment, but the biggest problem with explaining the drop in labor force participation among men as a problem with men is that since 2000, there has been a drop in labor force participation among prime-age women also.

Interviewed at Truthout, Noam Chomsky on Fascism, Showmanship and Democrats' Hypocrisy in the Trump Era: "The coverage has been quite instructive, in part because of the efforts of the Democrats to outflank Trump from the right. Beyond that, the coverage across the spectrum illustrates quite well two distinct kinds of deceit: lying and not telling relevant truths. Each merits comment."

"Mr. Peabody and Sherman Travel WayBack to 1953 - A History of Iraq"

A couple of Majority Report episodes really worth listening to:
* American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism w/ Dr. Henry Giroux
* Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump w/ Asad Haider

Back in March, Ryan Grim wrote about What The Dan Lipinski-Marie Newman Democratic Primary In Illinois Means. A lot of things are going to go this way because the "centrists" have deep pockets, but sometimes you have to run more than once to win. And the more people know that Lipinski was one of only two Democrats to vote for the Hyde Amendment, the more his seat will be in jeopardy.

Margaret Kimberly in Black Agenda Report, "No Protest for Black People: Donald Trump is certainly a motivator for white liberals. That group was quiescent when other presidents committed human rights abuses and war crimes, but they spring into action when Trump does something they don't like. It is commendable that thousands of people converged on airports in 2017 to protect victims of the Trump travel ban against seven Muslim nations. Now the outrage over the official policy of immigrant family separation has produced another groundswell of protest. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices have been blockaded, ICE employees are outed online and presidential staff are chased from restaurants by angry people. To be clear, the anger is justified and the protest is necessary. But where is this level of outrage when black people are victimized by this system?"

Caitlin Johnstone, "I Paid To See A Movie About Singing. I Got Ninety Minutes Of Pentagon Propaganda."

The Batman dance

I know I was pretty preoccupied at the time, but I just can't imagine how I missed Stephen Colbert's Tolkien Mockingbird.

"Fictional Cops I Love, Ranked By How Guilty I, As An Anarchist, Feel For Loving Them" — I don't even recognize the first one, but I have no guilt about liking Foyle and Murdoch, and of course, it was the last one that made me post the link, 'cause I love him most of all.

Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke fab. I think I teared up a bit at the end there. Everyone looked so happy. It was fab!

Jessica Harper, "Special to Me"

21:46 GMT comment


Friday, 22 June 2018

He'd make a plan and follow through

"Telecom-Backed Democrat in California Just "Mutilated" Nation's Strongest State Net Neutrality Bill: 'These California Democrats will go down in history as among the worst corporate shills that have ever held elected office. Californians should rise up and demand that at their Assembly members represent them.' Following a "major win" for open internet advocates in the California Senate last month, State Assemblyman Miguel Santiago provoked widespread outrage on Wednesday when he 'rammed through' amendments that critics say 'eviscerate' what 'would have been the best net neutrality bill in the country.' 'It is, with the amendments, a fake net neutrality bill," declared state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, who introduced the original legislation. Wiener said Santiago's amendments 'mutilated' Senate Bill 822, which had passed the higher chamber despite fierce lobbying by the telecom industry."

David Dayen in The New Republic, "The AT&T-Time Warner Merger Is Already What the Government Feared: It's been quite a week for AT&T. One of the largest providers of wireless, internet, and cable TV in America, it closed a $85.4 billion deal last Thursday to acquire Time Warner, one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, after a federal court blessed the merger over the Justice Department's objections. Judge Richard Leon, of the U.S. District Court for D.C., had rejected the government's argument that AT&T would lessen competition by leveraging Time Warner's 'must-have' television content to drive rival customers to its products. Within one week, AT&T announced a plan to use Time Warner's television content to drive rival customers to its products. It's just one of several announcements from the new conglomerate that show the government was right: AT&T is determined to use its economic and political power to expand its reach and dominate markets."

Zach Carter at The Huffington Post says that, "Stephanie Kelton Has The Biggest Idea In Washington: Once an outsider, her radical economic thinking won over Wall Street. Now she's changing the Democratic Party." But clearly, not fast enough: "Why do Democrats love pay-go? House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer on Wednesday both said they'll back pay-go rules if they regain control of the House this fall, meaning that all proposed legislation will have to be deficit-neutral." This may be the stupidest thing they could say in public.

On a similar note, The Hill reports that Pelosi said that, "'Medicare for All' should be 'evaluated' if Dems win House." This sounds like a non-promise to begin with (yeah, well "evaluate" the excuses for why we can't do it), but of course if they actually campaigned on it, people might even believe they mean it. Also, it might help them win.

This National Tracking Poll for June 7-10 says a number of things you already know but the Democrats have managed to weaken themselves where they should be strongest and if they actually wanted to win, they'd be worried.

David Dayen in The Nation, "Toys 'R' Us Workers Take on Private-Equity Barons: 'You Ought to Be Ashamed': The executives stripped profits from the toy chain and left employees with nothing. "

The Hill, "Sanders gets best reception at early 2020 audition [...] More than a thousand energetic attendees gathered at the We the People Summit to hear from some top potential 2020 contenders: Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). But it was Sanders who won the most applause from the crowd of progressive and labor activists."

Attempted murder: "Florida school shooting survivor targeted in 'swatting' prank" — Calling the cops on someone is not a "prank", and if the Hoggs had been at home when the police responded to the call, they might very well have been killed.

Bernie wants to save the postal service. One of the people he wants to save it from is Joe Manchin, one of Trump's Democrats.

"The Unofficial Gag Order of Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown): 16 Years in Prison, Still Not Allowed to Speak" — Al Amin had a gag order placed on him during his original trial, but something very odd has happened, all these years later, and suddenly a paranoid-sounding FBI report got him hidden away at grave threat to his health. As for the original crime, the only evidence that was used against him did not implicate him at all. Funny, that.

This story isn't interesting until you get to the perp's name. All I can say is, I blame the parents. "Anonymous complaint in St. Augustine leads to arrest of two on drug charges: Police say they found crystal meth in a search."

* * * * *

Howie Klein on Why You Should Never Vote For A Blue Dog:

It's important to remember that the phrase "Blue Dogs" is not an adjective to describe conservative Democrats, though it could be. The "Blue Dogs" is a formal organization. You pay dues, elect officers, go to meetings, split up bribes from Big Business interests eager to purchase influence inside the Democratic caucus, etc. In order to be endorsed by the Blue Dogs, you have to apply and pass a written test proving you are a corrupt conservative. Many of their worst candidates-- like Jay Hulings (TX), Brad Ashford (NE), JD Huffstetler (VA) and Jim Grey (KY)-- have already been defeated by more progressive candidates in primaries this year. This is the garbage that's left:

Anthony Brindisi (NY)
• Paul Davis (KS)
• Gretchen Driskell (MI)
• Mel Hall (IN)

• Chris Hunter (FL)
Brendan Kelly (IL)
• Kathy Manning (NC)
Ben McAdams (UT)
• Matt Reel (TN)
• Max Rose (NY)
• Clarke Tucker (AR)
Denny Wolff (PA)
• Jeff Van Drew (NRA-NJ)

For the fun of it, I bolded every Blue Dog candidate who is in a district that was won by Bernie in the 2016 primary. So what's so bad about the Blue Dogs that I would urge readers to not vote for them in primaries and consider carefully if you want to vote for a lesser-of-two-evils candidate in the general? Let's go back a few years when the Blue Dogs were bragging about how they were powerful enough to have scuttled the public option. Not a single House Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act-- and all the negotiating was internal, between Democrats. The Blue Dogs held the bill hostage, threatening to vote with the Republicans to kill it.

[...] ProgressivePunch has graded every Blue Dog's record "F." These are the 7 worst Democrats in Congress based on this cycle's votes. All of them have voted more frequently with the Republicans on crucial roll calls than with the Democrats. Walter Jones (R-NC) votes with the Democrats more than they do. And Justin Amash votes against the GOP than all but one of the stinkin Blue Dogs. This year, worst of all has been Collin Peterson, who has voted with the Democrats 28% of the time. Kyrsten Sinema-- Blue Dog chairwoman who Schumer has chosen to run for the Senate-- has voted with the Democrats (from a safe blue seat) 32% of the time. Jim Costa, also in a safe blue district, voted with the Dems 32%, as have 2 more from safe blue seats, Jim Costa (CA) and Henry Cuellar (TX). Josh Gottheimer- 39%, Tom O'Halleran- 40%, Stephanie Murphy- 42%. Horrible. And if you say, we need them to win, you are absolutely wrong. In fact, the opposite is true. History proves that most of them will likely lose their seats in the 2022 midterms when Democratic core voters realize what they are and stay away from the polls.

* * * * *

Eric Levitz says Democrats are more focused on bread-and-butter issues than people think, but "The Democratic Party Has an 'MSNBC Problem' [...] In truth, the Democratic Party is quite focused on promoting a progressive critique of the GOP's positions on taxes, health care, and social spending, because it knows that Republicans are deeply vulnerable on those issues. MSNBC, CNN, and the broader mainstream media, however, are obsessed with the White House's myriad scandals — because they know that a federal investigation into the American president's potential ties to the Kremlin (and/or porn stars and/or white-collar crime) is ratings gold — while daily broadcasts reiterating the regressive implications of the GOP's tax law and health-care plans would be anything but."

Eric Levitz was also on The Majority Report talking to Sammy about Why Unions Are Not a Special Interest.

"Supreme Court allows Ohio, other state voter purges: WASHINGTON (AP) — States can target people who haven't cast ballots in a while in efforts to purge their voting rolls, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a case that has drawn wide attention amid stark partisan divisions and the approach of the 2018 elections. By a 5-4 vote that split the conservative and liberal justices, the court rejected arguments in a case from Ohio that the practice violates a federal law intended to increase the ranks of registered voters. A handful of other states also use voters' inactivity to trigger processes that could lead to their removal from the voting rolls."

"ICE Came for a Tennessee Town's Immigrants. The Town Fought Back. Agents conducted one of the biggest workplace raids since President Trump announced a crackdown on illegal immigration, detaining 97 workers in Morristown. But for residents, these workers were their neighbors."

This almost makes me laugh, but "Eric Holder May Be Considering A Presidential Run. But Has His Time Passed? If Holder's DOJ showed little mercy to drug offenders and whistleblowers, his DOJ was tender and mild with big banks after the financial asset bubble collapse. 'There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps' is how one DOJ source described Holder's approach to Wall Street crime. At the end of 2014, Columbia Journalism Review business reporter Ryan Chittum observed that 'Holder leaves office having been far outclassed by the Bush administration even in prosecuting corporate criminals, despite overseeing the aftermath of one of the biggest orgies of financial corruption in history.' [...] We surely haven't seen the last of prosecutor politicians who grandstand and indict their way into cable news glory and donor-class cocktail parties. But a little light bulb is going on over an increasing number of Americans' heads that ambitious prosecutors in the most carceral country on the planet are perhaps not the best people to put in charge of fixing our justice system, much less running our government."

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "Trump's Family Separation Scandal Has Revealed Every Species of Hypocrite: Immigration hawks and War on Terror monsters alike are using President Trump's revolting present to expiate past sins." Even Michael Hayden is getting in on this.

Theresa May was doing this crap when she was still Home Secretary. She is sympatico with Trump and it's a joke to hear her pretending she finds Trump's behavior worthy of condemnation.

RIP: Jerry Maren, last surviving member of 'Lollipop Guild,' dies at 98: SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Jerry Maren -- the world's last living Wizard of Oz munchkin -- has died at the age of 98, TMZ has learned."

RIP: Clint Walker, Star of TV Western Cheyenne, Dies at 90: For seven seasons from 1955-61, he played Cheyenne Bodie, a rambunctious wanderer in the post-Civil War West, on the ABC series Cheyenne. (He also guested as the character on Maverick.)" Yeah, we watched all those westerns at our house when I was a kid. I didn't even notice this until I saw Langford had mentioned him in the Ansible obits for his genre credits.

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "The presidential delusions of Democratic billionaires: Howard Schultz announced Monday that he's stepping down as CEO of Starbucks and immediately sparked speculation that he is going to run for president. Business-friendly news outlets got his friends (that is, other CEOs) to vouch for him, and he started talking up an issue to seem like a serious political player. Naturally, it was a lot of claptrap about the national debt. But he's not alone. Other billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, and Michael Bloomberg (who may be getting the itch to purchase himself another high political office, as he did the New York City mayoralty) have also invited speculation about running. The modern robber barons of our Second Gilded Age already have a death grip on the commanding heights of the economy, and Donald Trump seemingly cruised to the presidency on his billions, so why shouldn't they try the same trick? [...] All that aside, the political appeal of deficit phobia today is nil, and nobody but a billionaire (or, just possibly, Chuck Schumer) could fail to notice it. No coddled, inept rich guy limply whining about borrowing and how Medicare is too expensive is going to beat Trump delivering xenophobic tirades to the baying ride-or-die partisans of the Republican base. Of course, in the age of President Donald J. Trump, one must always include the caveat that the future is an unknowable void from hell, and anything bad that can happen probably will. Maybe one of these plutocrats will discover his inner Mussolini and cruise to victory. But I fear it is more likely that one will mount a vanity third-party run, only to bleed enough votes from the Democratic candidate in 2020 to give Trump another term." Remember Bloomberg threatening to make an indy run if Sanders was the Democratic nominee? Yeah.

"The Surprising Popularity of 'Far Left' Policies: Supposedly radical ideals are actually embraced by large swaths of the American public." — It's just amazing who can get called "far left" by The Washington Post.

Josh Barro in Business Insider, "Why does Trump get away with corruption? Because Bill and Hillary Clinton normalized it [...] Here's one reason the Trump corruption scandals aren't connecting as much as they should: Before Democrats spent the past 18 months telling everyone this is not normal, they spent years reassuring voters that this was normal."

Branko Marcetic, Jacobin, "From the Jaws of Victory: We've read Chasing Hillary so you didn't have to. The Clinton campaign was even worse than we thought." Here's one to start: After flirting with running in 2016, former vice-president Joe Biden ultimately declined to jump in due to what many believed was grief over his son's death. Yet Chozick argues he was nervous about the prospect of crossing the Clintons to begin with. 'You guys don't understand these people,' Biden had allegedly told the White House press corps off the record one day. 'The Clintons will try to destroy me.'"

Shaun King,, "How Bernie Sanders Evolved on Criminal Justice Reform [...] In meeting Krasner, Sanders found someone who approaches problems in a manner very similar to his own — but is actually getting stuff done. I don't mean that as a slight to Sanders, but as a progressive U.S. senator in a Republican-controlled Congress with Donald Trump as president, it's almost impossible to pass progressive reforms. Krasner has only been in office for six months and is radically changing everything about the inner processes of justice in Philadelphia. It was a light bulb moment. Real Justice helped elect Krasner, as well as other reform candidates across the country, and Sanders now wanted to know how he could help. [...] 'It's disgusting, Shaun, that our country is basically criminalizing poverty. I'll be honest with you. I really didn't know this was happening. I had no idea hundreds of thousands of Americans, particularly African-Americans, were being held in jail, for months or years, even though they've never been convicted of a crime, simply because they can't afford bail,' Sanders told me in a tiny dressing room backstage before the event. 'I've learned a lot,' he continued. 'I see the racial disparities clearer than ever. I want to help — just tell me how I can best help and we'll do it.'"

Also Shaun King, "You don't really know who Bernie Sanders was in the 1960s. Why it mattered then and why it matters in 2018 [...] Bernie hates telling these stories and has resisted using them for political capital across the years — even when advisors and others have told him it would boost his profile — he has refused. He does what he does because he cares. When I introduced Bernie at a rally in Los Angeles by sharing many of these stories, his own family came to me in tears saying that even they had never heard them before. He has always felt that what he did during the sixties paled in comparison to those who were beaten or lost their lives — and so he has kept some powerful stories to himself."

This is a good little video that explains exactly why Hillary Clinton really lost, and why Democrats have to keep denying it. "Thomas Frank on the Democratic Party, Their Credibility Trap, and the Beleaguered Middle Class"

I see people keep asking what "Donut Twitter" is. It's the proud tradition of the alt-center snubbing the left: "Repeatedly, establishment Democrats have infantilized and derided the progressive wing of the party."

Reminder: Right-wing billionaires have been working to a plan, with the help of some Democrats, with "Weaponized Philanthropy: Document Trove Details Bradley Foundation's Efforts To Build Right-Wing 'Infrastructure' Nationwide

Why American Life is Traumatizing Americans But They Don't Know it [...] I hope by now you are beginning to see what I see. American life is becoming one long, daily, repeated exercise in trauma. Americans are being traumatized according to the textbook definition, by the institutions, structures, and habits of daily life under predatory capitalism, which demands that they live at the edge of survival, of just being, at the very brink of being annihilated, mostly so that the economy can 'grow'. Americans have become accustomed to being at the edge of life and death — but that is what trauma is."

Raven Onthill at Advice Unasked, on "A Well Regulated Militia: The genesis of the piece was some decades ago research into the Second Amendment and the militia. One of the works I read was the commonly-cited-by-firearms — advocates 1698 'A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias' by Andrew Fletcher. The 'Discourse' contains what may be the first use of the phrase 'well-regulated militia;' certainly one of the earliest uses. But how did this phrase make it into the Constitution? What was Fletcher doing writing about militia anyway? And what does it all mean for us, now?"

Fallstream holes look like a portal in the sky to another dimension.

"Genius Street Artist Is Secretly Turning New York Streets Into Art." Some of these are fun.

"This Mindblowing Video of The Moon Coming Down to Earth Is Totally Real" This is immensely cool.

I've always wondered what Brian Boitano thought about his appearances in South Park, and it just occurred to me that someone must have interviewed him about it, and, indeed, they have.

"What Would Brian Boitano Do?"

18:13 GMT comment


Wednesday, 06 June 2018

It could make a million for you overnight

Cristian Farias in New York Magazine, "The Supreme Court Has Decided to Shut Workers Out of the Courthouse for Good [...] So high were the stakes in Epic, that during the hearing for the case — which saw lawyers for employers, workers, the Department of Justice, and the National Labor Relations Board all squaring off with everyone else — Justice Stephen Breyer openly wondered if a ruling for the employers would effectively cut out 'the entire heart of the New Deal.'" RBG calls on Congress to fix the mess. Everyone else should, too.

"Democrats join Koch group to revamp veterans programs: WASHINGTON Democrats for years have seen the conservative Koch brothers as political enemies. Former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid even called them "un-American." But Wednesday, Senate Democrats teamed up with Republicans to pass major veterans health care legislation championed by the Kochs. The Koch-funded Concerned Veterans for America celebrated a big victory with the passage of the VA MISSION Act, a sweeping bill that overhauls how the Department of Veterans Affairs gives patients access to private-sector doctors. It's a big win for the once-obscure advocacy group backed by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch. The group helped write the bill, which sailed through the Senate by a 92-5 vote after also passing the House overwhelmingly. It got broad support from politicians and veterans groups across the political spectrum, and President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law soon." Of the Democratic caucus, only Merkley, Sanders, and Schatz voted No.

"Prosecutors Withheld Evidence That Could Exonerate J20 Inauguration Protesters, Judge Rules: CHIEF JUDGE Robert E. Morin of the D.C. Superior Court found on Wednesday that federal prosecutors suppressed potentially exculpatory evidence against six Inauguration Day protesters. In a motion filed late last night, attorneys for the defendants accused the government of withholding evidence that could have exonerated their clients — a serious violation of pretrial discovery rules. Attorneys allege that the state withheld evidence by editing a video of a protest planning meeting. Defense attorneys called on the court to sanction Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff for 'blatant hiding of evidence' and requested that the indictment against their clients be dismissed. At pretrial hearing Wednesday afternoon, Morin agreed that the prosecution had violated the 'Brady rule,' which governs the state's pretrial obligations to disclose exculpatory evidence, but declined to rule on the defense's motions to dismiss the indictment or suppress the evidence. Morin will rule on those sanctions next week."

The Clintonati like to claim Bernie Sanders said Planned Parenthood was "the establishment", which is a mischaracterization, but maybe if he had he wouldn't have been wrong. "Planned Parenthood Is Asking Donald Trump's Labor Board For Help Busting Its Colorado Union: COLORADO PLANNED PARENTHOOD executives, with help from President Donald Trump's labor board appointees, are fighting their health center workers' unionization efforts in a case that could set a precedent for workers' rights nationwide. The case is Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood Inc. v. SEIU. Staff for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, in coordination with SEIU Local 105, won the election for their union in December 2017. But shortly after the vote to unionize, Planned Parenthood leadership, instead of recognizing the new unit, turned to the Republican-controlled National Labor Relations Board to challenge the outcome. The Planned Parenthood bosses won the first round, and the appeal will now move to the full five-member labor board." (Interestingly, PP doesn't appear to be supporting Medicare for All, either.

"The Supreme Court just quietly handed a big victory to abortion opponents: Trump's judges just got a clear signal that they can chop away at abortion rights and get away with it. The Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it will not hear Planned Parenthood of Arkansas v. Jegley, despite the fact that the lower court's opinion in this case is at odds with the Court's 2016 opinion striking down a Texas anti-abortion law.

"Illinois ratifies Equal Rights Amendment — decades after deadline." I still get angry when I remember why this didn't happen before the deadline.

The first two Episodes of The Appeal Podcast are up, on "District Attorneys Are The Most Powerful People You've Never Heard Of. With guest Josie Duffy Rice" and "The Misplaced Sanctimony of Criminalizing Sex Work. With guest Melissa Gira Grant".

"Blue-state Democrats have a new cause: Helping millionaires [...] On the heels of the new Republican tax law, state Democrats, who until recently were advocating higher taxes on the rich, are suddenly fighting to protect their own members of the top 1 percent from higher taxes. Some Dems are even proposing both — raise taxes on the wealthy with one hand and help them with the other."

"How an arcane, new accounting standard is helping reporters follow the money [...] In Fulton County, the largest of nine counties in the Atlanta metro area, officials were trying to comply with the new disclosures and had hired Ernst & Young to help. As the accountants spoke, Niesse peppered them with questions. At one point, the accountants left the room to discuss the accuracy of their numbers. 'When they came back out, they agreed they needed to present the information in a clearer way,' Niesse recalls. That's when Niesse noticed an extensive spreadsheet on an accountant's laptop, open on the conference room table. Unlike the PowerPoint, the spreadsheet was crystal clear: it showed the parcel IDs and property taxes not paid on every recent development in Fulton County."

"The Right-Wing Millennial Machine: Conservatives are building an army of fired-up young people. How? By offering them salaries. [...] Progressives aren't just out of sync with their own need to recruit and retain young people. They're also lagging behind conservative interests. A 2017 study found that between 2008 and 2014, conservative donors gave three times more to millennial outreach groups than liberal donors. Much of that funding, Thompson says, went to things like paid fellowships, travel stipends and study grants ? creating the feeder system that will guide young people into actual jobs with political campaigns and think tanks. 'The Republicans are building an army, while the Democrats are still paying you in "making the world a better place,"' said Carlos Vera, the executive director of Pay Our Interns, a watchdog group. 'I've had older people say to me, 'Well, I did unpaid internships and I was fine.' Then you ask them when that was and they say, '1972.' You could work your way through college back then. That simply is not the case anymore.'"

The Hill, "WikiLeaks's Assange reportedly offers to show Schiff 'there was no collusion': WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is willing to meet with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, to prove there was "no collusion," according to an intermediary who spoke with MSNBC. [...] Schiff reportedly said that he would talk to Assange but only if he were in U.S. custody. Assange is currently residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid arrest and possible extradition to the U.S. on allegations of espionage." Schiff doesn't want to hear evidence of no collusion, so of course he's willing to talk to Assange only under conditions Assange would have to be suicidal to agree to.

Interesting article from David Adler in The New York Times, of all places. "Centrists Are the Most Hostile to Democracy, Not Extremists [...] Some of the most striking data reflect respondents' views of elections. Support for 'free and fair' elections drops at the center for every single country in the sample. The size of the centrist gap is striking. In the case of the United States, fewer than half of people in the political center view elections as essential." [graph] Of course, the concept of 'support for democracy' is somewhat abstract, and respondents may interpret the question in different ways. What about support for civil rights, so central to the maintenance of the liberal democratic order? In almost every case, support for civil rights wanes in the center. In the United States, only 25 percent of centrists agree that civil rights are an essential feature of democracy. [...] One of the strongest warning signs for democracy has been the rise of populist leaders with authoritarian tendencies. But while these leaders have become more popular, it is unclear whether citizens explicitly support more authoritarian styles of government. I find, however, evidence of substantial support for a 'strong leader' who ignores his country's legislature, particularly among centrists. In the United States, centrists' support for a strongman-type leader far surpasses that of the right and the left."

"Voting Rights Roundup: New Hampshire GOP's voter fraud detection system exposed as, well, a fraud" — and a lot of other places where voter-suppression and gerrymandering have been in play.

Jon Schwarz in The Intercept, "Chuck Schumer Is The Worst Possible Democratic Leader On Foreign Policy At The Worst Possible Time [...] Schumer's positions on domestic policy leave much to be desired, but not on every issue. By contrast, his views on foreign policy are largely indistinguishable from the Republican Party in general and Trump specifically."

Sean McElwee in the NYT, "The Rising Racial Liberalism of Democratic Voters: In response to both the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and the backlash in favor of Donald Trump in 2016, analysts and commentators have focused mostly on racial attitudes on the right. Both scholarship and journalistic accounts of American politics have drilled down on the increased opposition to immigration and high levels of racial resentment among Obama opponents and Trump supporters. But few have investigated the countervailing trend on the left, the increasing racial liberalism of Democratic voters, which I've been thinking about for a while."

Dday has "Fears of the Next Recession: What will it do to the many millions of Americans who still haven't recovered from the last one? [...] Oil prices aside, other economic indicators suggest a recession in the not-too-distant future, perhaps by the last year of Trump's current term in 2020. There are obvious political ramifications to that. Trump currently gets relatively high marks on the economy; a slump during a presidential election year would damage hopes of a second term. But it would also damage all the 'forgotten men and women' who have been put further and further behind with each cycle of recession and recovery. Bard College economist Pavlina Tcherneva constructed the best visual depiction of this phenomenon, with a chart showing the distribution of post-recession gains. In the 1940s and '50s, the bottom 90 percent of income earners enjoyed at least two-thirds of the benefits. In the 1980s and '90s, they saw only 20 percent of the gains, and in the recovery after 9/11, that number fell to 2 percent. After the financial crisis of 2007, the bottom 90 percent saw negative gains — that is, they lost ground during the recovery."

Interview by Katie Halper, "Debunking the Bernie Bro Myth: Briahna Joy Gray Interview"

Ladies and gentlemen, the legendary Ace of Cups are finally making a record.

RIP, "It is my sad duty to note the passing of Gardner Dozois today, Sunday May 27, at 4:00 p.m. The cause was an overwhelming systemic infection. Gardner had been hospitalized for a minor illness and was expected to be released shortly. The decline was swift. He died surrounded by his family." — posted by Michael Swanwick on FB, It's the anniversary of that Memorial Day weekend when I met them all at Disclave for the first time — Gardner, Sue Caspur, Piglet (George Alec Effinger), Swanwick, GRRM, Dave Harris, Pat Cadigan, Tess Kissinger, et al. Gardner and Sue in particular were a big part of my fandom. This breaks my heart.

RIP: Eddy Clearwater, blues guitarist, at 83: "Grammy-nominated Chicago blues guitarist Eddy 'The Chief' Clearwater has died of heart failure at age 83, his label, Alligator Records, announced. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016 and had received two Blues Music Awards. His Grammy nod came when his 2003 album Rock 'N' Roll City appeared in the Best Traditional Blues Album category."

RIP: "Alan Bean, moon-walking astronaut and artist, dies aged 86" — He retired so he could paint what he had seen and record it for posterity. He saw the colors on the moon.

Matt Taibbi, "The Battle of Woodstock: What does it mean when the biggest threat to upstart Democrats is the national Democratic Party? [...] Beals goes on to suggest that there's an even more nefarious motive for the defeatist analyses. Successfully spreading the idea that the party can't reach certain voters not only absolves the national bureaucracy of any need to change, but reduces campaigning to a blunt-force fundraising contest, a place where they're comfortable. 'This is where things get dark, but I think there are a lot of people who want you to think we can't win those votes,' he says. 'They want us to just get back to focusing on the fundraising, and keep the cash cow going.'"

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "The Democratic Party is flying blind on economics [...] I found no evidence that anyone in the Democratic Party, in the leadership or out, had been promulgating a strategic party doctrine on this question, or even discussing it much. On the contrary, if anything there were strong indications that the old background radiation of austerity and deficit phobia has continued to beam through their collective political unconscious."

Matt Stoller in The Baffler, "Lords of Misrule: How the legal profession became Wall Street's helpmeet: IN 1937, FUTURE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE Robert Jackson gave a toast at the New York State Bar Association on the civic responsibilities of the legal profession. 'No other people have submitted so generally to lawyer leadership,' he said. Yet, he argued, 'There is no constitutional protection for our lawyer monopoly.' Jackson was referring, in a tone of populist outrage, to the new wave of big law firms that were then vehemently opposing Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and its crackdown on Wall Street in the wake of the 1929 crash. 'We must rely solely on the record of a trust well fulfilled to perpetuate lawyer control.' Jackson was the last Supreme Court Justice not to graduate from law school, and he hated the corruption of the craft of lawyering via the growth of corporate law, centered then in the American Bar Association. Jackson believed that the professionalization of the law and the resulting priority of financial over ethical considerations among lawyers have been toxic for American democracy. [...] Seeing the ethos of federal enforcement collapse under all these pressures, it's hard not to be enraged at the entire legal profession, from self-satisfied judges like Kaplan to corporate defense attorneys like Mary Jo White who collect millions and construct an ethical system designed to help their friends steal from all of us. [...] It's abundantly clear, in other words, that the decision to refrain from prosecuting important actors in the corporate world was Obama White House policy, and this policy was part of an overall ideological shift away from allegiance to democracy itself, to rule by the people."

"Yes, There is a Civil War Within the Democratic Party — it's Just Not What You Think: The popular narrative about the Democratic Divide is all wrong and it's important that we realise the truth — before it is too late. [...] So yes, Mainstream Media and political pundits, there is a 'civil war' raging within the Democratic Party, but the rebels are not the Berniecrats. The true revolutionaries are the Clintonian apostates who have been trying for 20 years to overturn and reverse the greatest achievements of the Democratic Party, programs that help the poor, the working class and the middle class; programs that protect the people from the cruel vicissitudes of the Market and the sociopathic machinations of those whom FDR called 'the Economic Royalists.' The current Democratic Establishment is run by those self-same Economic Royalists; the robber barons whose hatred FDR welcomed are now met with open arms and warm receptions by the revolutionary Leadership that has seized control of the Democratic Party. These radicals have taken the Party of FDR, JFK, LBJ, RFK and turned it into the Democratic Party of Goldwater, Nixon and Reagan."

David Dayen in The New Republic, "A Fitting End to Paul Ryan's Fraudulent Political Career: The Republican House of Representatives has become an unruly mob, and the speaker has no one to blame but himself. [...] Ryan's speakership has become untenable. House members are roping in Trump on a plan to depose Ryan this summer, putting the House in the hands of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. It's unclear whether the Freedom Caucus would go along. They have circulated a letter to get Jim Jordan, one of their leaders, to run for speaker, so the McCarthy plan to bring order to the House may only create greater disorder, and no speaker in charge for months."

The Guardian, "Exclusive: how rightwing groups wield secret 'toolkit' to plot against US unions: Internal documents obtained by the Guardian reveal a nationwide drive to persuade union members to quit and stop paying dues. [...] Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that a network of radical conservative thinktanks spanning all 50 states is planning direct marketing campaigns targeted personally at union members to encourage them to quit. The secret push, the group hopes, could cost unions up to a fifth of their 7 million members, lead to the loss of millions of dollars in income and undermine a cornerstone of US progressive politics."

I'm not sure what to make of this, but, "Wikipedia Is An Establishment Psyop." Hm, the Herald seems to have the story, too. The Canary has been a victim. It seems obvious that "Philip Cross" is more than one person with a mission to make Wikipedia less friendly to leftier voices.

Did we mention that Google is officially evil now? "Google Removes 'Don't Be Evil' Clause From Its Code of Conduct: Google's unofficial motto has long been the simple phrase 'don't be evil.' But that's over, according to the code of conduct that Google distributes to its employees. The phrase was removed sometime in late April or early May, archives hosted by the Wayback Machine show."

"Why Economists Ignore Much of Rich People's Income: Did you 'earn' that money?"

David Dayen and Ryan Grim in The Intercept, "Party Leaders Are Not Strategic Geniuses, They Just Really Like Moderates, New Research Finds: THE BATTLE BETWEEN grassroots Democratic activists and Washington-based party leaders continued to unfold Tuesday night, with the national party notching some rear-guard victories and local forces delivering the party its second high-profile setback in as many weeks. Through all of these contests, national party leaders have argued that their decision-making is not personal or ideological. They believe in the same progressive values as the grassroots activists, goes the argument, but more moderate candidates are needed to be able to win the general election and take the House back from Republicans. [...] A paper in this month's edition of the peer-reviewed Legislative Studies Quarterly analyzes a decade's worth of federal elections, finding that party organizations boost moderate candidates across the board, whether the general election is expected to be competitive or a long shot. In other words, party support for moderates does not appear to be strategic, but sincere. 'They're not doing this to have a better shot at winning elections,' said the paper's author Hans Hassell, assistant professor of politics at Cornell College in Iowa."

David Dayen's Tiny Letter on how "Wells Fargo Makes Pope Francis Sad: "We are a much better company today than we were a year ago, and I am confident that this year Wells Fargo will be even better," said Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan in January. We now know that at that precise moment, employees in the wholesale unit of Wells Fargo were altering information on client forms without their knowledge. Wells Fargo needed to supply this information as part of an anti-money laundering consent order, and when faced with the deadline, they just broke the law and forged the forms. And the bank acknowledged this took place in late 2017 and early 2018. This comes on the heels of Wells Fargo admitting that, also in 2017, they kept fee rebates intended for public pension funds. It was called a "system set-up error." Both of these incidents occurred years after being caught issuing fake accounts, after illegally repossessing cars, after the dozen-odd other scandals for which Wells Fargo has made a show of penitence. When punishment is not meaningful, offenders get the message that they can continue to offend. Anyone with a 2 year-old child understands this, yet we continue to let banks like Wells Fargo escape without real accountability."
* At a later Tiny Letter, David has a whole bunch of good links to too many stories by himself and others for me to individually link to them all, but you may want to check them out

"The trouble with charitable billionaires: More and more wealthy CEOs are pledging to give away parts of their fortunes — often to help fix problems their companies caused. Some call this 'philanthrocapitalism', but is it just corporate hypocrisy? [...] Essentially, what we are witnessing is the transfer of responsibility for public goods and services from democratic institutions to the wealthy, to be administered by an executive class. In the CEO society, the exercise of social responsibilities is no longer debated in terms of whether corporations should or shouldn't be responsible for more than their own business interests. Instead, it is about how philanthropy can be used to reinforce a politico-economic system that enables such a small number of people to accumulate obscene amounts of wealth."

Matt Taibbi, "Seymour Hersh's Memoir Is Full of Useful Reporting Secrets: The best of his generation writes a how-to that undermines the industry of Access Journalism [...] When it comes time for the next generation of journalists to re-discover what this job is supposed to be about, they can at least read Reporter. It's all in here."

Also, Jon Schwarz, "Seymour Hersh'S New Memoir Is A Fascinating, Flabbergasting Masterpiece [...] If Hersh were a superhero, this would be his origin story. Two hundred and seventy-four pages after the Chicago anecdote, he describes his coverage of a massive slaughter of Iraqi troops and civilians by the U.S. in 1991 after a ceasefire had ended the Persian Gulf War. America's indifference to this massacre was, Hersh writes, 'a reminder of the Vietnam War's MGR, for Mere Gook Rule: If it's a murdered or raped gook, there is no crime.' It was also, he adds, a reminder of something else: 'I had learned a domestic version of that rule decades earlier' in Chicago."

Let's see, what's more depressing? Charlie Stross' "Happy 21st Century!" or Chris Hedges' "The Coming Collapse"? hard to say.

Kitty Marion: The actress who became a 'terrorist'" — Stumbling across the history of an unknown suffragette in the study of music halls.

The Onion, "Lindsey Graham Vows To Uphold John McCain's Legacy By Blindly Supporting GOP Agenda After Grumbling For A Few Minutes"

This Zain Ramadan 2018 Commercial is rather touching.

If you can, you might want to listen to the BBC radio play in five parts of Terry Pratchett's Night Watch, one of my all-time favorites.

Beatles video for "Paperback Writer"

03:10 GMT comment


Sunday, 20 May 2018

Some say it's a sign of weakness

The Hill, "Court orders Iran to pay billions to 9/11 victims and families: A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Iran to pay billions of dollars in damages to the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks." It's unlikely they will actually pay it, but the very idea that Iran should have to pay for an attack by Saudi Arabians is pretty appalling.

"Call Congress's 'Blue Lives Matter' Bills What They Are: Another Attack On Black Lives: ON WEDNESDAY, THE House of Representatives passed the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 by a vote of 382 to 35. The act — a congressional 'Blue Lives Matter' bill — would make it a federal crime to assault a police officer. The Senate version of the bill, which also has broad bipartisan support, goes even further, framing an attack on an officer as a federal hate crime. The bills exemplify the very worst sort of legislation: at once unnecessary and pernicious. [...] A number of commentators have stressed the superfluousness of making police attacks a federal crime. There's not a state in the country that doesn't already treat assaulting or killing an officer with the heaviest of penalties. With the laws that are already on the books at the state level, it's already a safe assumption today that any convicted cop killer will be sentenced to life without parole." 162 Democrats voted for this piece of garbage. Out of 193.

Jonathan Cohn, "House Republicans, with Some Democratic Help, Vote in Favor of Discrimination and Deregulation in Latest Attacks on Federal Watchdogs: This week, the Republican House of Representatives continued to work on one of their favorite lobbies: gutting financial regulation. On Tuesday, the House voted to repeal a 2013 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) guidance that laid out steps indirect auto lenders should take to ensure that they are operating in compliance with the fair credits laws as applied to dealer markup and compensation policies. In other words, the CPFB wanted to help curb discrimination against consumers on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, and age, all prohibited by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). Racial discrimination in auto lending is a well-documented phenomenon. The vote was 234 to 175, with Vern Buchanan (FL-16) voting present. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (IL-27) was the only Republican to vote against the repeal. 11 Democrats joined the GOP: Jim Cooper (TN-05), Lou Correa (CA-46), Jim Costa (CA-16), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Gene Green (TX-29), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), David Scott (GA-13), and Filemon Vela (TX-34)."

Socialist-Backed Candidates Sweep Pennsylvania State House Primaries: Four Pennsylvania state House candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) won their Democratic primaries, marking another milestone in the radical left's march into electoral politics. The wins by the four candidates — all women unseating men — were the product of a variety of political forces and groups. But in a country where 'socialist' remains an epithet in certain quarters, the growing electoral success of a once-marginal socialist organization is an especially notable political development." There are also two Berniecrats from Nebraska who won primaries for seats in the US House, and in state legislatures, ten in PA, one in Nebraska, two in Oregon and two in Idaho.
* The story in In These Times, "Socialists and Progressives Just Trounced the Democratic Establishment: On Tuesday, insurgent challengers beat out their opponents in races across the country by running on bold left platforms."

David Dayen, "Bill Aimed At Saving Community Banks Is Already Killing Them: AFTER INITIAL RELUCTANCE, House Republicans have finally reached an agreement to move forward on a bipartisan bank deregulation bill that the Senate passed in March. Its stated aim — to help rural community banks thrive against growing Wall Street power — appears to have been enough to power it across the finish line. But banking industry analysts say the bill is already having the opposite effect, and its loosening of regulations on medium-sized banks is encouraging a rush of consolidation — all of which ends with an increasing number of community banks being swallowed up and closed down."

Dday talked to Sam Seder about Primary Results & the Fallout of the Dodd Frank Rollback (among other things) on The Majority Report.

Symbolic victory in The Hill, "Senate votes to save net neutrality rules: The Senate on Wednesday voted to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules, passing a bill that has little chance of advancing in the House but offers net neutrality supporters and Democrats a political rallying point for the midterm elections. Democrats were able to force Wednesday's vote using an obscure legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA). CRA bills allow Congress, with a majority vote in each chamber and the president's signature, to overturn recent agency moves."

"Police Realizing That SESTA/FOSTA Made Their Jobs Harder; Sex Traffickers Realizing It's Made Their Job Easier: For many months in the discussion over FOSTA/SESTA, some of us tried to explain how problematic the bills were. Much of the focus of those discussions were about the negative impact it would have on free speech on the internet, as the way the bill was drafted would encourage greater censorship and more speech-chilling lawsuits. But as we heard from more and more people, we also realized just how incredibly damaging the bill was going to be to those it was ostensibly designed to protect. Beyond the fact that it was passed based on completely fictional claims about the size of the problem, those who actually were victims of sex trafficking began explaining -- in fairly stark terms -- how SESTA/FOSTA would put them in greater danger and almost certainly lead to deaths." And they were right.

Matt Stoller notes that the new FTC Commissioner is sounding like the real deal.
"1. I mentioned this last night, but this memo by new FTC Commissioner @chopraftc is really worth reading. It is a bad-ass and extremely important statement on corporate crime and has significant implications for Facebook.
"2. First, some context. This memo is about recidivism, or committing a crime again once you've been caught. In 2011, Facebook was caught in 2011 engaging in 'unfair and deceptive' practices, and the FTC stated the company 'violated federal law.' Today's scandal is a repeat crime.
"3. 'FTC orders are not suggestions.' [] That's how law enforcer Chopra says it. And he footnotes that showing that the cost can be $41,484 per violation. Facebook has 87 million violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a company killer.
"4. @chopraftc comes close to saying Zuckerberg should be fired and Facebook broken up. Violations of consent decrees should result in firing 'senior management and board directors," "outright bans on adjacent business practices, and closure of appropriate business lines.'
"5. What shows @chopraftc is serious and bipartisan about this is that he critiques Obama's failed law enforcement regime. He goes after the failure to do anything about HSBC for money laundering, and Wells Fargo for fraud. This is a defense of the rule of law.
"6. Now, here's why this matters. The FTC almost always has unanimous enforcement opinions, which gives individual commissioners sway to shape them. This is not a random shot across the bow, it's a signal to FTC staff to really propose aggressive remedies for Facebook violations."
Matt says it's worth looking at the memo yourself. ProPublica's article is here.

* * * * *

Jeremy Scahill is exactly right, Haspel belongs in jail and Obama should have put her there, but thanks to him, she now looks set to be head of the CIA. Here he is on Democracy NOW!, saying, "Obama Paved Way for Haspel to Head CIA by Failing to Hold Torturers Accountable [...] And, you know, Amy, the CIA is generally prohibited from engaging in operations inside of the United States, and also prohibited from engaging in propaganda aimed at the American people. And yet, to me, this whole Gina Haspel nomination really seems like a CIA operation itself. You know, the CIA, throughout history, from its origins — and this was the case with its predecessor, the OSS — has had a mastery of coups and interventions and interfering in affairs of other nations and waging propaganda battles. Gina Haspel, when she was nominated for the CIA, was the recipient of an enormous amount of support from the CIA's social media accounts, Twitter and others. And it was a propaganda campaign that was aimed at all of us, at the American people. It was aimed at lawmakers, it was aimed at journalists, where they sort of tweeted a — and they did it over and over and over, and they even did it once Haspel was technically in charge of the CIA, where they're giving her biography, making her sound like some combination of like Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, with Jack Bauer. I mean, it was really kind of incredible."

And here is Scahill on Intercepted, "Just Following Orders: Donald Trump loves Gina Haspel, particularly because of her role in torture." (Also an interview with Matt Taibbi on "Trump, Russia, Putin, Stormy Daniels, and the Liberal Embrace of Authoritarianism," and "Reporter Sarah Jaffe on the Teachers Strikes Across the U.S., the Fight For Unions, and the Rebellion of Low Wage Workers." Good stuff, transcripts included.)

* * * * *

"Sanders Institute Launches Voter Registration Initiative: In November 2016, there were more than 224 million citizens over the age of 18 in the United States, yet only around 157 million were registered to vote. Even fewer actually voted."

The headline says it all: "Oliver North leaving Fox News to become next NRA president" — Yes. this Oliver North.

"There are some prisoners who have served their sentences but who refuse to leave this prison facility." Again, the headline says it all.

"Black activist jailed for his Facebook posts speaks out about secret FBI surveillance: Rakem Balogun spoke out against police brutality. Now he is believed to be the first prosecuted under a secretive US effort to track so-called 'black identity extremists' [...] Investigators began monitoring Balogun, whose legal name is Christopher Daniels, after he participated in an Austin, Texas, rally in March 2015 protesting against law enforcement, special agent Aaron Keighley testified in court. The FBI, Keighley said, learned of the protest from a video on Infowars, a far-right site run by the commentator Alex Jones, known for spreading false news and conspiracy theories. The reference to Infowars stunned Balogun: 'They're using a conspiracy theorist video as a reason to justify their tyranny? That is a big insult.'"

"How To Organize A Prison Strike: Organizers inside and outside of the penitentiary walls are teaming up — and getting creative — to fight for reform."

"There's No Good Excuse For The Racist Impact Of Michigan's Medicaid Proposal: The plan's architects say they didn't mean to disadvantage black cities, but they had easy ways not to. Michigan Republicans are pushing a new, Donald Trump-inspired bill that would require Medicaid recipients in the state's mostly black cities to work to keep their health benefits, but exempt some of the state's rural white residents from the same requirement.

David Dayen on "The Downfall of a Grifter: I was part of a small subset of people who were infuriated by Eric Schneiderman before Monday night. So welcome to the rest of the nation for catching up. I had no idea he was a notorious alcoholic and abuser of women until the New Yorker profile. But I did witness his tendency to be a con artist, with his public persona not matching up with the private actions. Zach Carter tells this story very well so I don't have to, and the rest of it is in my book. The short version is that the guy came in making a lot of promises on taking down the banks and then sold out so he could get a good seat at the State of the Union. He wanted the glory without doing the work. In a real sense he didn't know how to do the work - the big lawsuit he filed against JPMorgan Chase right before the 2012 elections, entirely to show a pose of "getting tough" on Wall Street, was ripped off from a staffer and could have been filed years earlier. As co-chair of the vaunted "task force" on bank fraud, he never issued a single criminal subpoena."

Also from Dday, "American Telephone and Telegraft: [...] AT&T's lead lobbyist has now been encouraged to take an early retirement, and the CEO is "very sorry" any of us found out about the Cohen payment. But their real failure lies in not working the influence industry the right and honorable way. Like LiveNation did when they had Rahm Emanuel's brother on their board when they purchased Ticketmaster. Or the way American Airlines used Rahm and a bunch of other Democratic cronies to move through the USAirways merger. AT&T doesn't deserve Time Warner until they can prove they can bribe officials responsibly and effectively. That's how the game is played, Politico Playbook (sponsored by Goldman Sachs) wants you to know, and really you're very silly for thinking it outrageous. It's a cesspool but it's our cesspool."

"How Walmart is Helping Prosecutors Pursue 10-Year Sentences for Shoplifting [...] In Tennessee, as in many states, shoplifting items under $1,000 is a misdemeanor. But, in the past few years, the Knox County district attorney's office has been prosecuting people like Lawson under the burglary statute, which under Tennessee law is defined as 'unlawfully and knowingly entering a building without the consent of the owner and committing a theft.'"

David Menschel (@davidminpdx) tweeted "In NYC, police arrest black people for marijuana at 8x the rate of white people. NYPD say this is because they get more complaint calls about marijuana in black neighborhoods, but NYT found that that was false." The story, in The New York Times, "Race Remains a Key Factor in Marijuana Arrests, Analysis shows."

"Colorado bans solitary confinement for longer than 15 days: DENVER — Inmates in state prisons can't be held in solitary confinement for more than 15 days, the Colorado Department of Corrections announced on Thursday in the latest effort to overhaul a practice criticized as 'torture' by the agency's chief. The changes also require that inmates who are held in solitary confinement at the discretion of prison officials get at least four hours per day outside a cell for recreation or group classes."

But "Denver says its top cops are now exempt from independent monitor's oversight. Here's who disagrees. The city administration has told its police oversight agency to stay way from internal investigations of the police chief and sheriff, and the decision is raising eyebrows around Denver."

Jon Schwarz, "New Bipartisan Bill Could Give Any President The Power To Imprison U.S. Citizens In Military Detention Forever [...] But now, incredibly enough, a bipartisan group of six lawmakers, led by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., is proposing a new AUMF that would greatly expand who the president can place in indefinite military detention, all in the name of restricting presidential power. If the Corker-Kaine bill becomes law as currently written, any president, including Donald Trump, could plausibly claim extraordinarily broad power to order the military to imprison any U.S. citizen, captured in America or not, and hold them without charges essentially forever."

* * * * *

Julian Assange may be a jackass, but he's also the face of the real free press, and the neocons and neoliberals all hate him and want him permanently silenced. At the moment, his former protector, the state of Ecuador, seems to be hinting that it may hand him over to Britain and the US.

On March 28, under immense pressure from the governments in the US, Britain and other powers, Ecuador imposed a complete ban on Assange having any Internet or phone contact with the outside world, and blocked his friends and supporters from physically visiting him. For 45 days, he has not been heard from. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa stated in a Spanish-language interview on Wednesday that her government and Britain 'have the intention and the interest that this be resolved.' Moves were underway, she said, to reach a 'definite agreement' on Assange.
If the United States government gets its hands on Assange, they might torture and even kill him, but it's fairly certain they will try to make sure he never has access to the press again. I know there are those who think Trump would like to reward Assange for helping him out in the election, but Trump doesn't actually reward loyalty or pay his debts, so that seems like a fantasy to me. And I sincerely doubt that, even if Trump decided to pardon Assange just to piss off the Clintonites, the right-wing authoritarians he surrounds himself with would let any such document land on his desk. (We know Trump can't write it himself, which is the only way I can imagine him slipping that one by them.)

* * * * *

"How Did Benghazi Become a Ruin? NYT Ignores US Role — in Multiple Media: New York Times Cairo bureau chief Declan Walsh went to Benghazi, Libya, which is in ruins, to find out how it got that way. 'When I went to Benghazi, I was guided by one main question: How did the city come to this?' he declares in his multimedia presentation, which combines text, audio, video and large-format photography. One thing that's not conveyed via any medium, though: Seven years ago, the United States and its allies used military force to overthrow Libya's government. The country has been in almost continual civil war since then, which you would think would be crucial in explaining 'how the city came to that.' But apparently you don't think like a New York Times bureau chief. The thing is, when President Barack Obama — egged on by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — called for an attack on Libya, the justification they offered was that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi would otherwise destroy Benghazi. So the fact that military intervention actually turned out to lead to the destruction of Benghazi seems like something you might want to tell Times readers, or Times consumers of multimedia, anyway."

Matt Stoller, "Bigger Corporations Are Making You Poorer: A wave of new research shows how as corporations get bigger, the share of money out there going to actual workers declines." (Matt also did a good thread full of interesting links that is unrolled here.)

"Soul Snatchers: How the NYPD's 42nd Precinct, the Bronx DA's Office, and the City of New York Conspired to Destroy Black and Brown Lives (Part 1) [...] 'Stop and frisk has been banned, but police in the 42nd precinct are actually doing something far worse. They are setting quotas and goals for the number of people each officer must arrest. If you don't meet or exceed the quotas, you feel the wrath of your supervisors. Instead of rejecting the quotas, some officers are embracing them and rounding up people, particularly teenage children, for crimes they know good and well they didn't commit — locking them away sometimes for days, weeks, months, or even years at a time — then simply dismissing the charges. This isn't just a few rogue cops, but an entire precinct is doing this and they are partnering with the Bronx District Attorney's Office to make it happen. With threats, and even brute force, kids are being coerced to identify and testify against people they don't even know. Officers are terrorizing families, snatching kids out of their beds, not a few times, but dozens of times per child, sometimes arresting them on false charges, sending them to Rikers, then releasing them months later. Cops think they can do anything they want and it appears they can. Pedro is being framed. They tried to frame him over and over again before this case. And other kids are being framed too. And the kids and families who've been victimized by this scandal are hollow shells of their former selves. The Police Commissioner, the Comptroller, and the Mayor all know about this and are doing nothing.'"

Eric Levitz in New York Magazine, "Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die: The GOP understands how important labor unions are to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, historically, has not. If you want a two-sentence explanation for why the Midwest is turning red (and thus, why Donald Trump is president), you could do worse than that. [...] With its financial contributions and grassroots organizing, the labor movement helped give Democrats full control of the federal government three times in the last four decades. And all three of those times — under Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — Democrats failed to pass labor law reforms that would to bolster the union cause. In hindsight, it's clear that the Democratic Party didn't merely betray organized labor with these failures, but also, itself." I think this article is too generous to Democrats, since they have also spent part of that time actively undermining unions.

Nathan Newman, "NY Real Estate Lobbies Protect Trump Corruption- and GOP Control of State Senate w Help of Cuomo-IDC Dems: We need to break the power of corrupt NY real estate — then expose Trump money laundering, stop obscenely low luxury property taxes & end GOP control of NY Senate."

Rachel M. Cohen at The Intercept: "Democrats In A New York County Refuse To Pledge Loyalty To Candidates Just Because Party Endorses Them: A COUNTY DEMOCRATIC committee in New York voted down an extreme proposal on Tuesday night that would have required all members to pledge loyalty to candidates endorsed by the state, local, or national party. Progressives on the committee in Chemung County, on the Pennsylvania border, viewed the proposed loyalty pledge as an attempt by establishment Democrats to silence their dissent; they spent the week leading up to the meeting organizing opposition from members of the 20-person committee. At the meeting, the committee voted down the oath in its current format, but did not get rid of it entirely."

"Bernie Sanders Is Quietly Building a Digital Media Empire [...] The Vermont senator, who's been comparing corporate television programming to drugs and accusing it of creating a 'nation of morons' since at least 1979 — and musing to friends about creating an alternative news outlet for at least as long — has spent the last year and a half building something close to a small network out of his office in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill."

Also from Eric Levitz, "The Liberal Media Can Have Ideological Diversity Without Conservatives" — My main problem with this piece is that by "liberal media" he still seems to be talking about not-so-liberal organs like The New York Times.

Joe Cirincione and Guy Saperstin in The Nation, "Progressives Need a New Way to Talk About National Security: Voters say they support cuts in defense spending — Democrats should, too." I can go along with this, but I still maintain that our real national security is economic security for everyone.

Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney, "How The ACORN Scandal Seeded Today's Nightmare Politics: Breitbart led the charge, but Democrats delivered the killing blow. Has anyone really learned?" This is one of many pernicious examples of Democrats helping Republicans dismantle the progressive infrastructure that helped the party as a whole, The jury is still out on just how much of a creep Obama was regarding Shirley Sherrod, and whether Democrats keep voting to fund abstinence-only sex "education" out of stupidity or puritanism (or just a desire to funnel more money into the right-wing gravy train), but I still wish I could ask Bill Clinton what the hell he thought the outcome of "ending welfare as we know it" and turning the criminal justice system into a meat-grinder for minorities and the poor would be - and whether he did it out of malice or stupidity. And don't get me started on the Telecommunications Act.

Aalya Ahmad, "Working for the Weekend: The labour movement should renew its demands for a shorter workweek: Our communities are crumbling under capitalism and the obscene inequalities it creates. Income inequality has steadily risen in Canada over the past 20 years. The threat of climate change is becoming ever more obvious while environmental policies progress more slowly than melting glaciers. While workers in Canada are waging vital campaigns such as the Fight for $15 to improve wages for those who are paid the least, the mobilization around fairer compensation is just one part of the struggle to resist workers' exploitation. One of the oldest rallying cries of the labour movement is to reduce the time that workers spend working."

"How Clintonites Are Manufacturing Faux Progressive Congressional Campaigns [...] For it seems that progressive candidates aren't the only ones who learned the lesson of Bernie Sanders in 2016; the neoliberal Clintonites have too. So, while left-wing campaigns crop up in every corner of the country, so too do astroturf faux-progressive campaigns. And it is for us on the left to parse through it all and separate the authentic from the frauds."

Norman Solomon at Common Dreams, "Why the DNC Is Fighting WikiLeaks and Not Wall Street: Willingness to challenge Wall Street would alienate some of the Democratic Party's big donors." Gosh, I wonder why that is?

Michelle Cottle in The Atlantic, "Hillary Clinton's High Profile Is Hurting the Democrats: She dismisses those who tell her to step aside, but at this rate she will harm her political future and aid the GOP. [...] You know how Donald Trump seems weirdly, almost pathologically, obsessed with Clinton, despite the election having occurred nearly a year and a half ago? He is not alone. The Republican base (as hosts at Fox News can attest) still hates Clinton with the heat of a thousand suns. Is that rational? No. Is it a super-effective way for the GOP to fire up its base with high-stakes midterms approaching? To quote that great political sage Sarah Palin, you betcha!"

"For Democrats, the Russian Investigation Is Not Just Patriotic — It's Smart Politics: After a year of #RussiaGate, the Democrats have both their base and the entire country right where they want them." Democrats and independents increasingly believe in the myths around Russiagate, including that somehow the "dank memes" of Russian bots are what swung the election for Trump (God knows how), even though there is no evidence for any of it. Oh, and it provides a platform to attack Sanders as a Russian dupe or colluder, as well.

"Wrong-way Democrats: Will a 'blue dog' blue wave pave the way for future disaster?: Democrats will win big this fall (probably). But are they just repeating the mistakes of the Clinton-Obama era? [...] One especially trenchant observer on this front is activist, blogger and longtime music exec Howie Klein, who has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the Democratic Party's efforts to intervene in the midterms, and the way the struggle has been covered in the media. Klein discussed the Southern California races recently on his Down With Tyranny! blog, writing that DCCC-favored candidates "are always conservatives and never independent-minded agents of change.' A day before that: 'The DCCC has 38 candidates on their Red To Blue list so far. I count three who are worth voting for &mdash' and I'm not even 100% sure about one of the three. At least nine of them are outright Blue Dogs. ... And 21 of them are admitted New Dems.'"

Jeff Weaver has written a book, How Bernie Won: Inside the Revolution That's Taking Back Our Country--and Where We Go from Here.

Interview in The Nation, "Thomas Frank: Trump Could Win the 2020 Election: But we can also stop him."

Gaius Publius, "How the Democrats Could, and Probably Will, Blow 2020"

An Al Jazeera reporter went undercover to look for the much-touted anti-semitism of the British left, but mainly found a state-sponsored PR campaign to promote the idea that criticizing Israel's policies is anti-semitism. "Al Jazeera Investigations exposes how the Israel lobby influences British politics. A six-month undercover investigation reveals how Israel penetrates different levels of British democracy."

Jonathan Cook, "Anti-Semitism. Orchestrated Offensive against Jeremy Corbyn in the UK: For months, a campaign has been aimed at destabilising British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, accused of anti-Semitism. The right-wing party, Tony Blair's heir, and pro-Israel circles are targeting both Corbyn's left-wing line and his support for the Palestinian people."

I might be inclined to agree with a lot of Michelle Goldberg's "How the Online Left Fuels the Right" if she didn't screw it up by talking about people like Ben Shapiro as if they are prepared to argue in good faith . They're not, and anyway, that's not the point. Call-out culture on the left just isn't very good at making friends, period.

"Another Side of Feynman: Nine letters by Freeman Dyson portray his relationship with the Nobel Laureate."

"This magical drug mansion in Upstate New York is where the psychedelic '60s took off: Owned by one of America's richest families, Millbrook hosted Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Mingus and more"

This is a few years old but it cracked me up. "One Restaurant Owner Has Been Waging An Online War With Vegans For Two Months Now"

The Four Tops, "Baby, I Need Your Loving", because sometimes I just gotta get up and dance to it.

16:58 GMT comment


Tuesday, 01 May 2018

I got sunshine

Read this scary thread from @ArshyMann. (And, while on the one hand, I've been acutely aware, and most women at least sense, that this kind of projection exists and is dangerous to us, I admit I never would have predicted it as a proud identity.) "For the past little while, I've been working on a piece about Toronto's relationship to the alt-right, especially the "manosphere." Unfortunately that research has become relevant. I'm going to share as much as I can here for people who may not be familiar with these movements."

"Portland Burgerville workers approve federally recognized union: Workers at a Burgerville in Southeast Portland overwhelmingly approved the formation of a federally-recognized union, making them the first to do so since a fast-food labor fight erupted nationally five years ago."

"Electronics-recycling innovator is going to prison for trying to extend computers' lives: A Southern California man who built a sizable business out of recycling electronic waste is headed to federal prison for 15 months after a federal appeals court in Miami rejected his claim that the "restore discs" he made to extend computers' lives had no financial value, instead ruling that he had infringed on Microsoft Corp. to the tune of $700,000." This is basically corporate prosecution of a private citizen to prevent him from helping people save a bit of money.

"Barcelona Forces Banks to Turn Repossessed Homes Into Affordable Housing: To address a housing shortage, Spain's second city says bank-owned properties can no longer sit empty." This is a great idea and American cities should be doing the same.

"USA Today: Nearly Two Thirds of Americans Have Given Up On Political Parties: (IVN) Many Americans will be staying out of the voting booth for the 2018 elections, disillusioned by the promises of politicians and convinced that the political system is irreparably corrupt."

David Dayen says, "Whether America Can Afford A Job Guarantee Program Is Not Up For Debate: SEN. BERNIE SANDERS'S endorsement of a guaranteed job for anyone who wants one, joining previous supporters such as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, reinvigorated a debate that has been roiling within economics Twitter and academic circles for a long time. Those more partial to a universal basic income untethered to work clash with job guarantee supporters from the left; those who see the job guarantee as a dangerous slip into socialism attack from the right. And mainstream Democrats not running for the presidency don't really want to talk about it. Those fresh to the debate, meanwhile, instinctively ask what feels like an intuitive question: How on earth can we pay for that? But if we're going to have an honest debate about whether the government should be spending hundreds of billions of dollars so that people can obtain jobs, we should acknowledge that the government already does. Officials at the local, state, and federal levels push enormous amounts of money toward this stated purpose — they just channel it through corporations, in the form of special tax breaks and 'economic development' subsidies. It's not clear that businesses actually use all that money to create jobs, rather than just enjoying the subsidies and tax cuts for themselves, so if the true purpose really is to create work for people, the new jobs guarantee debate offers a much simpler — and probably much cheaper — approach to the same end."

It would be nice to believe they would do this stuff if they ever got back in control of Congress: "Kirsten Gillibrand Unveils A Public Option For Banking: The idea would provide a low-cost alternative to payday loans -- and it might just save the Postal Service, too." It would also be nice to think the Dems would get rid of that stupid requirement to fund all Post Office pensions 75 years in advance, which is the very thing we have to save the Post Office from.

"Speaker Ryan Firing Chaplain Conroy Is True Attack on Religious Liberty: Fr. Patrick J. Conroy, a Jesuit priest who served as Chaplain to the US House of Representatives, has been fired by Speaker Paul Ryan. Though the Speaker declined to justify his action, Fr. Conroy told the New York Times that Ryan had admonished him after a public prayer for the poor, 'Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.' As clergy who, like Fr. Conroy, have taken vows to preach the Word of God, we do not see how you can read the Bible and stay out of politics. Isaiah 10 speaks directly to lawmakers: 'Woe unto you who legislate evil and rob the poor, making widows and orphans your prey.' Jeremiah received a Word from the Lord in chapter 22, saying, 'God down to the palace of the king and declare, 'Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.' These are not only the public priorities of the Hebrew prophets. In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus says he will judge nations — not individuals — by asking, 'When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was thirsty, did you give me something to drink?' The epistle of James makes clear that God opposes anyone who prevents workers from receiving a living wage..."

David Dayen, "Ryan's Hope [...] Nobody deserved to go out in shame more than Ryan did; I'm sad it didn't come when he lost his Speaker's gavel or, worse, when he lost his seat. (I don't buy that "see I'm popular!" poll he released showing him up 21 points on Randy Bryce, but even if it were true, a 55% re-elect for a 20-year Congressman and national leader isn't that good). He deserved to go out the way Thomas Foley did in 1994, after he was targeted by Newt Gingrich and doomed to defeat in his eastern Washington district. Ryan was a con man and a liar armed with terrible, unpopular ideas that he somehow grifted the national media into thinking were responsible. His budgets were innumerate, hiding the class warfare and mass suffering they would have caused with phony numbers. His philosophy was bankrupt, hated by those who actually divined its intentions. His concern for anyone who couldn't buy him a $350 bottle of wine was fake, and his great dream in live was to take away their safety net as they crashed to Earth. And he was actually a bad politician, swinging his home state and even his home district further away from Republicans when he became the vice presidential nominee. But make no mistake: Ryan won. His sensibilities matched the pain demands of the Washington Post editorial board, who joined his call to starve the poor. And while he didn't reach his cherished goals of crushing Social Security and Medicare, he did force a Democratic administration into the smallest percentage of public investment since the Eisenhower era. He did deliver one of the most imbalanced, gimmicky, gift-style tax cuts to corporate America in history. He did preserve most of the last giant tax cut, which was more larded on the rich. Because Washington can be amoral and stupid, Paul Ryan was seen as its one-eyed king, its boy wonder. And the inequality statistics don't lie as to his success. We'll spend the next generation burying the Ryan era."

Alex Pareene, "If We Had a Liberal Media We Wouldn't Have Had a Paul Ryan [...] The sheer admiration the political press has shown for him since then can't even be explained by something like his popularity — he is deeply unpopular, almost entirely because his ideas are deeply unpopular, and that is in spite of a years-long campaign by our liberal media to launder those ideas. If longtime Washington journalists treat plans to literally end Medicare, among the most popular programs in the history of American governance, as not just 'serious' but arguably necessary, by what possible definition can the elite media be said to be 'liberal'?"

David Dayen, "The Art of the Let Me Back in That Deal: The thing about lacking any core beliefs is that it's liberating. Donald Trump, who spent the entire presidential campaign calling the Trans-Pacific Partnership the worst trade deal ever written, now is openly musing about re-joining it. The flip-flop is rooted in desperation. Trump has managed to figure out that China's retaliatory tariffs slam farm states, and he's digging up any policy he can find to keep them happy, including going back to New Deal-era farm supports! Trump as FDR! Like I said, liberating. TPP is part of that mix, not only as an alleged opening of new markets (which it isn't, as the U.S. already has bilateral agreements with countries representing the overwhelming majority of TPP economies) but as another provocation to China, as a pretext to get them to bargain.It's also true that the TPP agreed to by the other eleven nations is substantially different than the one negotiated by President Obama, particularly on intellectual property for pharmaceuticals. That's good news for the global poor who won't be held up by multinationals for life-saving medications, but bad news for the multinationals who urged the U.S. to sign TPP. Those nations aren't interested in re-opening that can of worms, even as Trump conditioned re-entry on a "substantially better" deal. Of course, none of this is going to happen. The tariffs and this TPP play are all fodder for some negotiated settlement with China. I'm not sure that'll come about either. But Trump's not a very good bluffer. And he's betrayed the workers he incited with TPP opposition in the process. All in a day's work."

Oh, look, here's Steny Hoyer on video trying to elbow a progressive candidate out of the primaries to clear the road for another corporate hustler of Hoyer's choosing.
* And here's Lee Fang's story on the background of the candidates and the maneuvering in the DCCC.

Ryan Grim, "National Democrats created a competitive primary in New York, infuriating the local party. Another case where the DCCC tries to overrule the grassroots by recruiting a loser to run against their candidate. "In Syracuse, New York, a heavily Democratic city, things didn't go quite as well. The party's nominee for mayor, Juanita Perez Williams, lost in a landslide to an independent candidate, even managing to lose her own neighborhood by two to one. In some lines of work, a failure so complete might earn somebody a demotion, a period of probation, or a rethinking of whether the career path and the skillset are a perfect marriage. But this is Democratic Party politics, where consequences are for the people, not the politicians. And so, the performance earned her an invitation to the headquarters of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, touching off another intraparty saga that would go on to pit the national party against grassroots activists. Within just a few days of the loss, Perez Williams was in Washington, D.C., sitting down with top-tier Democratic operatives who saw, in her failed campaign, the makings of a promising 2018 congressional candidate."

Uh oh, it's the Judean People's Front versus the People's Judean Front versus the People's Front of Judea... Benjamin Studebaker, "The Left is Not a Church [...] You know how the religious right became a big deal in the United States? It stopped acting like a bunch of churches. It stopped caring whether you were Catholic or Protestant, whether you were Evangelical or Mainline. It stopped caring if you were Mormon. It even stopped caring if you went to church. All the religious right cares about is whether your policies work for them and whether you have a realistic strategy for implementing those policies. If you're anti-abortion you can have three wives, cheat on all of them constantly, never go to church, and brag about abusing women. You can be Donald Trump. It doesn't matter. The religious right sees itself as trying to save millions of people from being brutally murdered by their own mothers. It will subordinate all petty theological disputes to the overarching goal of putting a stop to the killing. They are relentless. They take their goals seriously."

Ryan Grim at The Intercept, "Democrat claimed independent status in election filings, but records show he was a Republican [...] Butner was recruited to run in California's 50th Congressional District by the Democratic leaders, yet his progressive opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, has won the endorsement of the state Democratic Party and the bulk of the activist groups in the district." He has a remarkably spotty voting record, but it's all Republican. "Elsewhere around the country, the Democrat leadership's zeal for veterans to run for office has led them to back other former Republicans. In Texas's 21st Congressional District, Joseph Kopser was previously registered as a Republican, having grown up in a conservative family. In Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, the party's chosen candidate, Elaine Luria, voted for her own Republican opponent not once, but twice. Gil Cisneros, a candidate in California's 39th District, is a Navy veteran and former Republican who had registered as a Democrat in 2015, after three years as an independent. He was named on Wednesday to the DCCC's Red-to-Blue program, tantamount to an endorsement. Butner came under fire earlier in the campaign for insisted that military service should be a prerequisite for a run for Congress."

David Dayen and Ryan Grim, "Democratic Party-Backed Candidate Leaves Groggy Voicemail Warning For Opponent: 'I'm Gonna Go Negative On You': WHEN KAREN THORBURN checked messages on her home answering machine on a Wednesday evening in early April, one of them was not like the others. It was a groggy-sounding voice, leaving a short but to-the-point message for her husband, Andy, who is running for Congress in California's 39th District. 'Hi Andy. It's Gil Cisneros. I'm gonna go negative on you,' the man said, before going silent for an awkward four seconds and hanging up. [...] The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently named Cisneros to the list of candidates it's supporting in races around the country. He is running to replace incumbent Republican Ed Royce, who is retiring. The crowded district was recently featured in a New York Times article about the party's interventions in California primaries, which the DCCC laments have been forced upon it by events outside its control. But a closer look at the district finds a mess very much of the party's own making."

Conor Lynch at Salon, "Bernie Sanders criticizes Democrats, they flip out (again): Has politics become team sports? Sanders' comments about Democratic failures aren't even controversial. But for some partisans, he's the enemy [...] It is not so much the message but the messenger that infuriates them. It's also true, however, that the idea Sanders represents — namely, that principles should come before party, and that politics should not be treated like a team sport — is anathema to these committed partisans. [...] Another interesting finding in Mason's research is that those who identify as 'conservative' demonstrate 'significantly less issue-based constraint.' As she notes, this is consistent with the research of Christopher Ellis and James Stimson, who find that 'American conservatives tend to be relatively left-leaning in their issue-based preferences, while liberals also hold left-leaning attitudes.' In other words, so-called conservatives are even more likely to be driven by group identity than liberals, even though they might actually agree with liberal or progressive positions on many issues. It's no wonder, then, that Sanders, who talks about the issues and offers progressive solutions that are popular with the broader public, while avoiding overheated partisan, has appeal not just to liberals and young people in blue states but to many voters in traditionally Red states. Though identity-based ideology has grown more pervasive over the past few decades, there is still a strong underlying desire for issue-based candidates."

"The Democratic Party is paying millions for Hillary Clinton's email list, FEC documents show: HEADING INTO THE 2018 midterms, with Democrats hoping to take back the House of Representatives and even make a run at the Senate, the party has spent more than $2 million worth of campaign resources on payments to Hillary Clinton's new group, Onward Together, according to Federal Election Commission filings and interviews with people familiar with the payments. The Democratic National Committee is paying $1.65 million for access to the email list, voter data, and software produced by Hillary for America during the 2016 presidential campaign, Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson for the DNC, told The Intercept. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has paid more than $700,000 to rent the same email list. Clinton is legally entitled to rent her list to the party, rather than hand it over as a gift, but in 2015, Barack Obama gave his email list, valued at $1,942,640, to the DNC as an in-kind contribution. In 2013 and 2014, OFA had similarly made in-kind contributions exceeding $3.4 million for uses of the list that cycle." Of course, the party is even more cash-strapped than it was back then. Irritatingly, the Clintonites spent months bashing Bernie Sanders for not handing over his email list for free.

The Pied Piper strikes again. "Dems Meddle In WV To Boost Ex-Con Coal Baron In GOP Senate Primary: National Democrats have been not-so-quietly hoping that controversial ex-con and coal baron Don Blankenship wins the West Virginia GOP Senate primary in a few weeks, seeing him as by far the easiest opponent for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Now, they're stepping up to try to make that happen."

Why commercial medicine is a bad idea: "Goldman Sachs Analysts Question Whether Curing Patients Is Good for Business." These guys talk about infectious diseases being spread by carriers like it's a good thing.

"Why we can always afford a war: Patricia Pino and Christian Reilly discuss Government 'debt' and explain why politicians never ask 'how are you going to pay for it?' when it comes to war."

Robert Fisk at the Independent: "The search for truth in the rubble of Douma — and one doctor's doubts over the chemical attack: [...] As Dr Assim Rahaibani announces this extraordinary conclusion, it is worth observing that he is by his own admission not an eyewitness himself and, as he speaks good English, he refers twice to the jihadi gunmen of Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] in Douma as 'terrorists' — the regime's word for their enemies, and a term used by many people across Syria. Am I hearing this right? Which version of events are we to believe?"

"American media wrong on Syria coverage" — Mark Crispin Miller makes the point that while people assume that Russia Today is propaganda, Americans don't understand that the same is true of the "free press" in the United States.

And that goes for Britain as well, where in true MSNBC fashion, the narrative of the elites is the only one that matters at the Guardian, who aren't interested when a seasoned and accomplished war reporter actually goes to Douma and tries to make sense of events, only to be dismissed like an unfounded rumor, in favor of people whose "expertise" is based on not being there and being pro-regime change.

"Eyeless in Gaza: Write down: I, Uri Avnery, soldier number 44410 of the Israel army, hereby dissociate myself from the army sharpshooters who murder unarmed demonstrators along the Gaza Strip, and from their commanders, who give them the orders, up to the commander in chief."

Poor beleaguered Andrew Cuomo is at war with the evil teachers' union. "Andrew Cuomo rips teacher unions as selfish 'industry' more interested in members' rights than student needs: A passionate Gov. Cuomo upped his war with the teacher unions on Thursday, charging that they represent themselves — not the students." It's funny how much he sounds like a Republican. I hope Cynthia Nixon wipes the floor with him She already has the Working Families Party endorsement (won with 91% of the committee vote). I never thought I'd be endorsing a candidate named "Nixon", but jeez she's good! Look at this: "Cynthia Nixon Puts Legalizing Marijuana Front and Center of Campaign: Cynthia Nixon on Wednesday made legalizing recreational marijuana the first policy plank of her campaign for governor, framing it as a necessary step toward reducing racial inequities in the criminal justice system — and, in doing so, bringing to the forefront an issue that may help her make inroads into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's robust support among black voters. [...] In a brief homemade video posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Ms. Nixon, seated in her living room, speaking over a faint but steady hum of background noise, said 80 percent of New Yorkers arrested in connection with marijuana use were black or Latino, despite roughly equal rates of use among white people and communities of color. [...] The simple truth is, for white people, the use of marijuana has effectively been legal for a long time. Isn't it time we legalize it for everybody else?"

Cuomo also hasn't been that kind to immigrants, but at least he knows he's in a fight this time around, and he's making everyone laugh with his attempts to cash in on other people's identities. "Andrew Cuomo Keeps Calling Himself 'Undocumented,' Which, Hmmm [...] During a union rally last Wednesday, Cuomo proclaimed that he was 'raised by poor immigrants from South Jamaica.' (South Jamaica is a neighborhood in Queens. His father, Mario Cuomo, was born in New York, and his mother, Matilda Cuomo, was also born in New York.) A day later, the governor said in the same vein, 'I'm an Italian-American, I came from poor Italian-Americans who came here. You know what they called Italian-Americans back in the day? They called them wops. You know what wop stood for? Without papers. I'm undocumented. You want to deport an undocumented person, start with me, because I'm an undocumented person.'" Well, no, it didn't, and he isn't, and his farther was the Governor of New York.

Meanwhile in Florida, unbelievably, "Patrick Murphy And David Jolly Want To Insert Third Way Into The Florida Governor's Race" - just what everyone wants, a "bipartisan" ticket with an "ex"-Republican and a real Republican, the ultimate DINO/RINO punch. God help us all.

"Health Insurers Spend $158K to Make Sure 'Blue Wave' Is Against Medicare for All: Tweet In the current cycle, big health insurers have quietly donated more than $150,000 to Democrats opposed to Medicare for All legislation."

Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo, "What else have they gotten wrong?" - This is really about what the GOP and libertarians and "centrists" have gotten wrong about regulations and business, but the interesting thing is that, "This month, Washington Monthly looked at a libertarian economist Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University's Mercatus Center. Tabarrok went looking for the effects of federal regulation on "economic dynamism" expecting to find support for the conservative dogma that government regulation harms the economy. He found none. What is remarkable is he published the paper anyway."

Branko Marcetic at Jacobin, "The Two Faces of Kamala Harris: Kamala Harris has matched every one of her progressive achievements with conservative ones." At first I was thinking, "Hm, maybe she's better than she seems...." And then I read further.

Teodrose Fikre, "I Don't Give a Damn about the First (Insert Identity Here) CEO or President: Do you know what literally repulses me these days? Hearing about the first so and so to get accepted into the exclusive club of the aristocracy. Frankly, I don't give a damn about the latest first black president or first woman CEO. Who cares! I don't know how we have arrived at this notion where we measure the wellness of humanity not based on the well being of the least of the citizenry who suffer in silence but based on the accumulation of the wealthiest among us. This annoyance of mine got revved up to full blown peeve two days ago when I heard a report of how Kamala Harris has a chance to become the first black woman president."

Valerie Tarico at AlterNet, "Here's Why Some Progressives Are Tearing Each Other Apart: Progressives are telling two different stories about the world we live in and the future we are trying to create. In important ways, they clash."

Smári McCarthy, "Universal coverage is good economics: Healthcare costs less and performs better when societies pull together. Unfortunately, Icelandic conservatives want American inefficiencies."

Democracy in Exile: The Rise of the Defense Intellectual w/ Daniel Bessner — Really interesting interview by Michael Brooks on The Majority Report looking at the history of how what started as a noble goal in the wake of the Nazi horror developed into the antidemocratic force for evil that the foreign policy community is today.

Reminders still always needed: "How the Koch brothers helped dismantle the Democratic Party: For over 20 years I have reported on the mostly unnoted role played by the Democratic Leadership Council dismantling the Democratic Party, disconnecting it from its New Deal and Great Society past and turning it into Republican Lite. [...] Such a partnership — between something called the Democratic Leadership Council and the Koch Brothers — goes a long way to explaining why our last two Democratic presidents have been so disloyal to their party's traditions. And why Obama is pushing something as atrocious and anti-American as the secret TPP agreement. Bipartisanship may be gone on Capitol Hill, but it's still flourishing in the checks that are written for politicians."

Here's a worthy project: putting data in the hands of advocates. "Democratic party leaders believe that Americans are more conservative than they actually are, and believe that supporting progressive candidates will hurt them electorally." But the data doesn't support this belief, and apparently if legislators see that their constituents support progressive policies, they are more likely to move toward those policies. And here's the article that sums it up, from Sean McElwee at Vice, "If Democrats Listened to Their Voters, They'd Be Moving Left: The Democratic base overwhelmingly supports progressive positions. It's time for the party to pay attention."

Jeff Spross in The Week, "Bernie Sanders has conquered the Democratic Party: Bernie Sanders' bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 was not universally welcomed, to put it mildly. His basic argument was that Democrats could assemble a cross-ethnic and cross-class coalition by offering big universal public programs like Medicare-for-all and free college tuition. But large portions of the party dismissed him as an interloper, a naive radical, or even just another entitled white male. Which makes developments since the 2016 election rather interesting: Quietly but steadily, the Democratic Party is admitting that Sanders was right."

Damon Linker, "Why can't liberals accept the truth about Hillary's 2016 failure? [...] I have no idea if Sanders would have fared better against Trump than Clinton did. But I do know that Clinton was the worst possible person to answer the angry accusations of a populist insurgency from either the protectionist right or the socialist left. She was too much a contented representative and beneficiary of the very political and economic establishments against which Trump directed his fire. She was the Davos candidate, the woman who defied the advice of her handlers to accept six-figure speaking fees from investment banks at events where she wooed rooms full of potential donors by dreaming of a world of open borders - a world in which the last remaining businesses to pay a decent wage in the Rust Belt would be given the green light to flee in pursuit of ever-higher profits. To counter that Trump-the-corrupt-real-estate-mogul is just as much a member of the nation's economic elite misses the political point entirely. A populist defines himself by those he attacks, and Trump attacked those in power. Who did Clinton attack? The "deplorable" voters who were tempted to vote for Trump - and she did it, of course, at a big-ticket fundraiser, before a room full of wealthy liberal donors." (I didn't think this article answered the question in the title, though.)

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink talks a good game about corporations taking account of their effect on the community, but actions speak louder, and some say "BlackRock Wields Its Big Stick Like a Wet Noodle on C.E.O. Pay."

Umair Haque, "Why We're Underestimating American Collapse: The Strange New Pathologies of the World's First Rich Failed State" — I have to take issue with the idea that it's the "first rich failed state". All those places in the Bible that God smote were pretty big deals with lots of wealth concentrated at the top, and they failed, too.

Corey Pein, "'Like Selling Crack to Children': A Peek Inside the Silicon Valley Grift Machine: Without rampant, unchecked fraud, I came to realize, the entire digital media business would collapse."
* Pein discussed this on The Michael Brooks Show

Now even Bloomberg is talking about it. "U.S. Jobs Guarantee Held Out as Path to True 'Full Employment'." Well, that's just true. I wonder why it's catching on.

Speaking of that, the neoliberals have been remarkably successful at convincing some people that the New Deal was nothing but a racist gift to white people and did nothing for black America. This would be false even if not a single penny of it went directly to any black people, since it brought a lot of money into the real economy at the lowest levels, which benefited everyone - but it's also not true that New Deal money only went directly into white people's hands. There is absolutely no question that, yes, some important parts of the New Deal blocked help for black Americans (and don't even get me started on red-lining), but even if you leave aside the fact that the programs we still have were since expanded to include them, there was also the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
* I also found this amusingly prescient prediction of the future from 1967 at the History site.

Hmmm, who's leading in the latest presidential poll? No surprises. (Details here in this .pdf.)

The Onion, "Fuming Rachel Maddow Spends Entire Show Just Pointing Wildly At Picture Of Putin"

"It's The Hubble Space Telescope's Birthday. Enjoy Amazing Images Of The Lagoon Nebula"

"This Incredible Vintage Film Shows a Trip Through New York City in 1911"

Have some fun loop animations.

The Temptations My Girl Original Video Recording 1964

16:19 GMT comment


Saturday, 14 April 2018

The boundaries in between

This is just a neat old picture of Arthur Thomson drawing direct to stencil that Rob Hansen found in someone's old photo collection. Arthur once asked me why everyone called him "ATom" in print instead of just "Atom", which is what he thought he was writing. He didn't seem to realize his signature came across that way.

Despite the best efforts of the Democratic leadership to protect Paul Ryan, someone is finally challenging him and, whoops! Not so safe anymore! So, not surprisingly, "Paul Ryan will not seek re-election in 2018 midterms amid Republican fears of losing House and Senate: The 2012 Vice Presidential candidate is said to have grown increasingly frustrated working with the president." Or maybe the fact that everyone hates him and no one wants him in office could have swayed him, and he knows he can go on to bigger things in some cushy corporate pay-back job.

David Dayen, "Save the VA: The power struggle inside the Department of Veterans Affairs burst into the open this week with the firing of David Shulkin, replaced by a blank slate who served as the president's doctor. But this has been simmering for some time as a war between a Koch Brothers-funded front group that wants to privatize the VA health system, the overwhelming mass of veteran's groups that don't, and a president who doesn't know or care much about the details but is easily led. Shulkin's post-firing op-ed lays out the battle lines."

Dean Baker, "We Win Trade War! China Goes Generic Big Time: Donald Trump has proved the skeptics wrong, it seems that the American people stand to be big winners as a result of his trade war. The Chinese government announced a major initiative to promote the manufacture and use of generic drugs. The reason this is potentially a big deal for the United States is that it could mean that China intends to push the envelope in replacing drugs protected by government-granted patent monopolies with drugs sold at free market prices. While the TRIPS provisions of the WTO do require members to respect patents and copyrights, there are flexibilities, such as compulsory licensing, to allow far more competition that what we see in the United States market."

"Arizona Democrats Show Up In Record Numbers, Told They're Registered Republicans." This problem seems to be cropping up all over the country. Check now to make sure your registration is in place and correct, because an awful lot of people are finding these odd little anomalies when they go in to vote.

"Supreme Court rules police officer cannot be sued for shooting Arizona woman in her front yard: The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a lawsuit an Arizona woman tried to bring against a Tucson officer who shot her four times in her front yard in May 2010. In an unsigned opinion, the court said the officer, Andrew Kisela, was entitled to qualified immunity in the shooting of Amy Hughes. [...] The court's decision Monday reverses a 9th Circuit Court ruling in favor of Hughes. The lower court said Kisela had used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court, however, said Kisela was entitled to qualified immunity because there is no prior case setting a precedent that his use of force in this situation would be excessive. [...] In a scathing dissent, which Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the court has never required a factually identical case to satisfy the 'clearly established' precedent standard. 'It's decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public,' she wrote. 'It tells officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished.'"

"Texas woman sentenced to 5 years in prison for voting while on probation: If she had known it was illegal, Crystal Mason said she would have never cast a vote in the 2016 presidential election."

"The Growing Divorce Between American Jewish Youth and Israel [...] When you find that those in society who are most anti-Semitic, like neo-Nazi Richard Spencer of the alt-Right, Steve Bannon, Le Pen, Geert Wilders, Nick Griffin of the BNP, Pastor John Hagee and assorted racists and fascists all love Israel whilst, at the same not liking Jews then it begins to occur to young Jews that Israel is not all that it is cracked up to be. In addition a Jewish state suggests that Jews don't belong in America. It is therefore not surprising that in this survey of the Bay Area district in California, only 11% of Jews between 18 and 34 were 'very attached to Israel'. Even better only 40% of young American Jews are 'comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state.' It is becoming ever clearer that it isn't Jews but racist non-Jews who most love Israel. In Fire & Fury it describes how Jared Kushner felt Steve Bannon's support for Israel was a cover for his anti-Semitism. Today the normal response from anti-Semites is that they love Israel. "

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, "The $500,000 GoFundMe Charity Campaign for Wealthy Ex-FBI Official Andrew McCabe Is Obscene" — It's a bad joke when "The Resistance" makes heroes of security state agents who have not been acting in our best interests and even turns them into "our" charity beneficiaries when real poverty and desperation are going unaddressed - and should be what we are focused on.

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "Is the Two-Party System Doomed? A new study shows us what observation should already have made clear: a messy restructuring of America's political parties is coming [...] Papers like Piketty's are a warning that if the intellectuals in both parties don't come up with a real plan for dealing with the income disparity problem before someone smarter than Donald Trump takes it on, they're screwed. Forget nativists vs. globalists. Think poor vs. rich. Think 99 to 1. While Washington waits with bated breath for the results of the Mueller probe, it's the other mystery — how do we fix this seemingly unfixable economic system — that is keeping the rest of the country awake at night."

"Sanders condemns killing of Palestinian protesters: The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic. It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response."

Mehdi Hasan in The Intercept, "Israel Kills Palestinians and Western Liberals Shrug. Their Humanitarianism Is a Sham. 'IF THE CONCEPT of intervention is driven by universal human rights, why is it — from the people who identify themselves as liberal interventionists — why do we never hear a peep, a word, about intervening to protect the Palestinians?' That was the question I put to the French philosopher, author, and champion of liberal (or humanitarian) interventionism, Bernard-Henri Lévy, on my Al Jazeera English interview show 'Head to Head' in 2013. The usually silver-tongued Levy struggled to answer the question. The situation in Palestine is 'not the same' as in Syria and 'you have not all the good on one side and all the bad on the other side,' said Levy, who once remarked in reference to the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, that he had 'never seen such a democratic army, which asks itself so many moral questions.' I couldn't help but be reminded of my exchange with the man known as 'BHL' this past weekend, as I watched horrific images of unarmed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border being shot in the back by the 'democratic army' of Israel. How many 'moral questions' did those Israeli snipers ask themselves, I wondered, before they gunned down Gazan refugees for daring to demand a return to their homes inside the Green Line? On Friday, the IDF shot an astonishing 773 people with live ammunition, killing 17 of them. Yet a spokesperson for the IDF bragged that Israeli troops 'arrived prepared' and 'everything was accurate. ... We know where every bullet landed.' On Sunday, Israel's hawkish defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, roundly rejected calls from the European Union and the United Nations for an independent inquiry into the violence and insisted that 'our soldiers deserve a commendation.'"

Haaretz, "Debunking Israel's Talking Points on Deadly Gaza Protests: To understand why Gazans are willing to pit their bodies against an army, peel away the political positioning on all sides."

Forbes, "60% Of House Democrats Vote For A Defense Budget Even Bigger Than Trump's [...] There are currently 240 Republicans and 194 Democrats in the body, with 1 vacancy. Out of the Republicans, 227 voted in favor and 8 voted against this bill, making 230, with 10 apparently missing in action. Of the 194 Democrats, 117 voted for the bill and 73 voted against, with 4 not voting. In other words, of the party that supposedly opposes rampant military spending and the Trump administration, 60% voted for this bill." Most of this article is of the "We spend too much on the military and not on other things" school, but the point still stands: Democrats are making a pretty poor showing of being "The Resistance". Maybe they should call themselves, "The Assistance".

* * * * *

I'm not even going to describe the latest crazy "Bernie is a racist" crap that emanated from his panel with Mayor Lumumba, but it was actually a really good event and well worth watching, especially if you've been hearing the nonsense about what he said. U.S Senator Bernie Sanders and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba Town Hall Meeting 'Examining Economic Justice 50 Years Later'. Strangely, this entire crowd of mostly black people in an 85% black city were unable to detect the terrible racism of Sanders when he pointed out that the Democratic Party screwed up. (Warning: There's a lot of stuff in the beginning that doesn't really have clear audio but isn't actually part of the discussion, which doesn't start until about the 25-minute mark.)

Briahna Joy Gray was there, and what she saw is very different from what the Twitter trolls, the H8%, were saying about it. "Bernie Sanders in the Deep South: Last week, I joined Bernie Sanders in Memphis, Tennessee, and Jackson, Mississippi, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Sanders was overwhelmingly well received by both passersby and the local audiences who came to hear him speak. But so far, the media coverage of his trip has revolved around a brief aside, in which Sanders faulted the Democratic Party for its recent legislative failures [...] In fact, if Beale Street could talk, it would tell a very different story about Bernie Sanders than the now-familiar critique that he is insufficiently sensitive to racial issues. As I walked with Sanders down Memphis's famous thoroughfare, his popularity, including among the predominantly black crowd attending the commemorative festivities, was self-evident. The senator was stopped every few feet by selfie-seekers and admirers. Yes: Perhaps this is to be expected of any politician with a national profile, but given his poor showing in Mississippi during the 2016 Democratic primary, in which he secured less than 17 percent of the black vote, I had thought the senator and his small cohort might go unnoticed. I was wrong."

There is, however, one worrying thing going around where Bernie really put his foot in it, and frankly, I'm very surprised that he didn't already know it. It happened three years ago but I never heard this until now: "In a September meeting with Campaign Zero, a movement formed out of the Ferguson protests, activists asked Sanders why, in his opinion, there were a disproportionate amount of people of color in jail for nonviolent drug offenses. Sanders, seated across the table, a yellow legal pad at hand, responded with a question of his own, according to two people present: 'Aren't most of the people who sell the drugs African American?' The candidate, whose aides froze in the moment, was quickly rebuffed: The answer, the activists told him, was no. Even confronted with figures and data to the contrary, Sanders appeared to have still struggled to grasp that he had made an error, the two people present said." That seems like shocking ignorance, but illegal drugs have never been his issue so I suppose it's not surprising that he never thought it through, but of course, the reason there are more arrests of black people for drugs is that the police go after black people for drugs, and carefully avoid confronting kids in white suburban neighborhoods where there is far more dealing and using going on. So I put a simple little primer thread up on Twitter. I hope it comes to his attention.

PS. I could only find a record of three politicians who endorsed Jesse Jackson when he ran for president. Two were US Senators, Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Ernest Hollings (D-SC). The third was the Mayor of Burlington, VT, Bernie Sanders. Jackson won 55% in the Michigan primary and was the frontrunner until Dukakis pulled ahead, but the media was so quiet about Jackson's momentum that you never would have guessed he was in the running.

PPS. The canard that Sanders never released his taxes is still going around amongst the Clintonati. It's not true. Note the date on the article is 16 April.

* * * * *

On The Majority Report:
The Rise of the Working-Class Shareholder w/ David H. Webber - MR Live - 3/29/18

On The Michael Brooks Show:
TMBS - 34 - Lee Carter: Socialist Win in Virginia; Hitchens Right, Harris Wrong on Bell Curve

Matt Bruenig at Jacobin, "How Did Private Property Start? Libertarians tend to get flummoxed when confronted with this simple question. Perhaps the most interesting thing about libertarian thought is that it has no way of coherently justifying the initial acquisition of property. How does something that was once unowned become owned without nonconsensually destroying others' liberty? It is impossible. This means that libertarian systems of thought literally cannot get off the ground. They are stuck at time zero of hypothetical history with no way forward."

The usual suspects have been claiming that high-schooler David Hogg is against the Constitution because he wants restrictions on guns after seeing his fellow students shot to death. But their view of the 2nd Amendment is extremely modern and is not how it was interpreted until very recently. In fact, even the Supreme Court's ruling in Heller (2008) did not grant an unlimited right to own and bear arms (although this article completely misconstrues "the common defense" as being against "tyrannical governments", which it wasn't - taking up arms against the U.S government was clearly defined as treason in the Constitution). George Washington had become acutely aware that unregulated and untrained militias were pretty useless for repelling invaders, which is what the 2nd Amendment's language is about and was always interpreted to mean prior to Heller. Moreover, English common law continued to be the rule where gun ownership and carry were concerned.

Zaid Jilani and Ryan Grim at The Intercept, "Centrist Group Backed Anti-Abortion, Anti-LGBT Rep. Lipinski Because His Opponent Supported Bernie Sanders, Emails Reveal: EARLIER THIS YEAR, Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., was facing a surprisingly robust primary challenge from Marie Newman, a progressive Democrat backed by some of the many constituencies that Lipinski has clashed with over the years. Lipinski represents a solidly Democratic seat, but has become one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, with his opposition to legal abortion and hostility toward marriage equality and immigration rights. Eventually, Lipinski narrowly defeated Newman in the March 20 primary — thanks in part to support from the centrist political alliance No Labels. Lipinski is a member of the group's House Problem Solvers Caucus, an informal collection of representative who work to, well, solve problems. [...] Jacobson replied with her reasoning for the group's intervention, explaining that part of the opposition to Newman was related to her endorsement by Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont. 'I see a whole new crop of Democratic challengers — like Marie Newman — who see Bernie — WHO IS NOT EVEN A DEMOCRAT — as a model worthy of emulation,' Jacobson wrote, all-caps in the original, denigrating Sanders for not labeling himself a Democrat. 'But I don't think we need more people in Congress on either side who rile up their bases and then actually achieve nothing.'"

Ralph Nader in Lapham's Quarterly, "Land of the Lawless: How power in America has turned the rule of law into a mere myth"

Since the Hillbots are still polluting Twitter with Barney Frank's bitter smear of Bernie Sanders, it's time for another round of Richard Eskow's retort, "Barney vs. Bernie: Sanders Is the Real 'Progressive Who Gets Things Done'."

A few of Joe Kennedy III's other "missteps" have been around the net, but it hasn't stopped "The Resistance" from listing him as a possible contender to run in 2020. I hope no one forgets that he thinks marijuana should be illegal so the cops can search people's cars without a good reason. That's two bad positions at once. He's also "embraced Bernie Sanders's Medicare for All as a vision but dismissed it as practical policy, saying, 'much as people don't love incrementalism, this is I think how part of this debate is going to go.'" Other things Kennedy does not appear to support are higher taxes on Wall Street, free college, and addressing voting rights.

"What It's Like for an American Drug Reformer to Go to a Country with a Compassionate System [...] Welcome to Portugal. The country's low-key, non-headline-generating drug policy, based on compassion, public health, and public safety, is a stark contrast with the U.S., as the mind-boggled response of the activists suggests."

"Scrubbed clean: why a certain kind of sex is vanishing from the internet: A US government effort to fight online sex trafficking has cleansed many sites of personal ads and consensual eroticism, in a shift advocates say amounts to dangerous censorship."

RIP: Steven Bochco, creator of Hill Street Blues, dies at 74." Some people say he remade television by giving his characters story arcs at a time when other evening television shows were always stand-alone episodes where the characters and settings always went back to zero in time for next week's show.

RIP: "Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Anti-apartheid campaigner dies at 81." She also disturbed some people by talking about sexism. Fancy that.

Just Enough Room Island — If it gets decent internet and easy food deliveries, I'm in for the view.

"Alaska Airlines Delayed Their Flight So Passengers Could See Something Breathtaking" — a total eclipse, from the air.

Paris Steampunk 1889 LEGO Project by Castor Troy

This is nice: Google Doodle for Maya Angelou's 90th birthday
* And, elsewhere... "The Erasure of Maya Angelou's Sex Work History"

Damn, I can't find the song I wanted on the internets, so have some P.F. Sloan.

02:15 GMT comment


Friday, 30 March 2018

You're gonna reap just what you sow

So, I was watching this conversation where everyone was talking about "Republicans" and how awful they and their ideology are. And, I admit, I have started to get a little irritated with that discussion because it doesn't seem to me that covers the ground. So I asked a question:

Are you talking about rank-and-file Republicans who identify as "conservative" mainly because they (a) are lifelong-Republicans and (b) think of themselves as "sensible", having absorbed a lot of misleading rhetoric that sounds good on the surface, or are you talking about the Congressional delegation and their political manipulators?

When I look at the polls, what I see is that a substantial percentage of people who identify as "Republican" or "conservative" are actually fairly mainstream and:
• a) want government to do the same things we want it to do — keep the air and water clean, provide disaster relief, take care of our veterans, educate our kids, provide Social Security (most oppose cutting it), maintain infrastructure, etc.
• b) recognize that Democrats have not been doing these things and are hypocritical about caring about or providing for these things. And, yes, that includes racial issues, which Democrats may give a lot of lip-service to but actually work in the other direction to exacerbate.
• c) are confused about how to accomplish these goals because they've heard a lot of rubbish — most off it carried as much by Democrats as by Republicans — about why these things aren't being done.

When you talk to most ordinary Republicans, what you find is that they believe a lot of the same lies you'll hear from Democratic leaders. (Did you catch Kamala Harris responding to a call to abolish ICE by talking about how we need people to deal with violent crime? — as if that wasn't already handled by the police?) Most egregiously, Democrats continue to behave like the Budget Act is some sort of Constitutional or even natural law that can't be changed. Everyone (even Bernie Sanders, who must know better) talks like there is a finite amount of money available and we have to balance our checkbook. We "can't afford" nice things. Health care is "a pony". (By the way, I looked this up: At the cost of most people's annual premiums, they could buy several ponies a year and many people could get a pony at least monthly.)

Conservatives want to keep the good things they have — or had — and don't want to "innovate" them away. I know a lot of Democrats who consider themselves liberal like to think that all they are unhappy about losing is something called "white privilege", but a lot of black people have also seen many good things "modernized" out from under them — like having their homes stolen, facing a job market that barely even offers bad jobs to people, let alone decent work. The fact that something unfair happens more often to black people than to white people doesn't mean it is somehow "fairer" when it happens to white people. If it's okay for it to happen to white people, then why isn't it okay if it happens to black people? The fact is, the sense of unfairness is natural and legitimate and everyone feels this way about these things when they see them happening to themselves and their friends, and they shouldn't be happening to any people. Here is your choice: Work three jobs to maintain your home, let your kid enlist in the military and come back broken or in a box. These didn't used to be our choices and a lot of people can still remember that. Some are even aware that Democratic Presidents made great strides in making these things become our choices and making sure no one did anything to stop it. Carter, Clinton, and Obama were supposed to ameliorate the damage but instead eased the progression downward.

People say they are "fiscal conservatives" because they think they understand that there is only so much money to go around and we have to "tighten our belts" on some things so we can do the things that have to be done. Although, to some, endless wars are the only thing that "have to" be done, many others assume that the better things that have to be done are what's consuming our resources and we just have to cut something else out.

At the top end, though, there are plenty of people who understand that it's all rhetoric and what they want is power and control. They don't just want to protect themselves, they want to make other people squirm, they want to make decent people have to beg them for any kind of mercy, for jobs, for a few crumbs. They like being able to put people in a tight spot so they have to agree to things they find morally repugnant in order to make a crust. They like being able to screw people gratuitously just to see them realize there is nothing they can do about it. And they also know that given the opportunity, increasing numbers of their victims would cheerfully kill them in their beds, so they like having a large, militarized police force to make sure they can't do that. They even like selling products and having policies that kill and imprison them so there are fewer of them in a position to do so.

And there is a class of people just under them who have internalized the kiss-up/kick-down nature of success in such a system and they have cast their lot with the bullies on top. And some of them are the Democrats who run the party. And if you listen to them, they sound an awful lot like the bullying Republicans, even though they may couch it in finer language (or, like Rahm Emanuel, don't). We have spent decades hearing it, every time they say, "Where else are they gonna go?" They love making us vote for them just because the only other option is even worse. They laugh when they say it.

I look at some of the things my liberal friends say on Facebook and I'm often appalled at the meanness and human insensitivity of what they say. Yes, they really do sound like they believe men and white people are not entitled to an opinion. Yes, they really do seem to think that only they suffer ordinary human discomforts during the day. Yes, they really do gleefully celebrate that poor people in the south who may have voted for Trump, maybe didn't vote — or, a fact they seem to ignore, may even have voted for Clinton — will suffer because their states voted red.

I was working on the city desk at the Baltimore Sun when David Simon came to work there. They sat him right next to me. And Baltimore was still a nice city to live and work in, back in those days, even if you were black. Our black reporters were not coming in reporting racist indignities that were foisted on them constantly. The maids who were the mothers of my friends were not worrying that their kids were going to get shot just walking to the corner shop, and they expected their kids' lives to have opportunities, to be better than theirs had been. And those kids were not walking around fearfully, terrified that they'd come to the attention of a cop. They were, just like the white kids, looking to choose between the opportunities that were on offer to them. It took very few years of Reagan and then Clinton to change that. I did not recognize the Baltimore David Simon wrote about. I had walked down those streets and they were not like that. Comfortable, clean, middle-class black neighborhoods with pristine front stoops now just look like part of some nightmare. That's not progress.

Do not tell me that we keep taking steps forward. And don't tell me we have "incremental change" for the better. We have had rapid change for the worse on almost every measure.

Ordinary liberal Democrats know the Republican leadership are liars. But what they don't get is that ordinary mainstream Republicans also know that Democratic leaders are liars. Republicans are less likely than ever to hide their cruelty, but Democrats still try to convince themselves, or at least their voters, that they are not also being cruel.

Supposedly "liberal" Democrats gave us the Budget Act.

Supposedly "liberal" Democrats ended "welfare as we know it" and made it normal to imprison school kids for what used to be minor infractions, privatized prisons, created Three Strikes, militarized the police, destroyed banking regulations that had prevented another depression, allowed banks to steal people's homes with impunity and virtually wiped out most black wealth.

Democrats lied all the time about what they were doing, what needed to be done, what they would do, what couldn't be done, and what the results would and must be. That's why they keep being voted out.

What's the ideology of the Democratic Party? From what I can see, it's just, "Vote for Democrats."

* * * * *

Bernie Sanders' Inequality in America: A National Town Hall, with Senator Elizabeth Warren, economist Darrick Hamilton, and filmmaker Michael Moore, wasn't too bad, but the audio on the video clips wasn't very clear. Also, the lead-in to the video takes about five minutes, which is just barely enough time to turn it on and make popcorn before it actually starts.

"In Chicago primaries, a string of defeats for the Democratic establishment at the hands of progressive Democrats: Four Democratic challengers backed by United Working Families (linked with the progressive Working Families Party) have successfully challenged establishment Dems backed by Chicago's legendarily unassailable "Democratic machine," effectively winning their offices at the same time, because the Democrat candidate always gets elected to those offices, thanks to Republicans not bothering to field candidates (leaving a vacuum that is sometimes filled by Holocaust-denying Illinois Nazis). [...] It's not all good news, though. Dan Lipinski kept his candidacy, despite having inherited his Congressional seat from his father and having voted against a $15 minimum wage, against abortion on demand, for mass surveillance and endless war, and against basic railroad safety rules that would have affected one of his largest campaign donors, a rail industry PAC. Lipinski was being challenged by Marie Newman, who ultimately outraised him with small-money donations from Sanders Democrats, and who lost the primary by a razor-thin margin. That's something of a victory -- Lipinksi had been considered unassailable and he only won by a handful of votes -- but it still seems like Lipinski will return to Congress as a Democrat-in-name-only. But the closeness of the race may inspire other primary challengers to establishment Dems in other seemingly unassailable positions." She came so close to beating him it almost breaks your heart, but I bet it scares the hell out of the alt-center. Or — wait! — is that what really happened? Marie Newman was ahead until her vote-count suddenly went down rather than up. How does that happen? Shades of Volusia County, FL.

Naturally, there have been a spate of yet more articles insisting that the way to win is "moderate" campaigns, but Polling shows running on progressive policies would work in swing districts.

OWN GOAL: "Labor Rallies Behind Laura Moser After She Overcomes Party Effort To Stomp Out Her Congressional Bid." After the DCCC's bizarre attacks on Moser's primary bid, voter reaction buoyed her candidacy into the runoff.

Jeff Hauser and Kurt Walters in The Hill, "17 Senate Dems broke their contracts with their voters [...] Needless to say, a third of Senate Democrats siding with Trump to deregulate big banks damages the credibility of this message. And let's not kid ourselves about what's going on: They're voting for the bill, raising money from the industry and hoping no one notices. Schumer himself bears a great deal of responsibility, and progressives rightly suspect him of actually wanting the bill to pass. He voted against it but didn't fight against it either. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a member of Schumer's leadership team, no less, came under withering attack from fellow Democrats for having the audacity to inform the American public which members of the Senate voted for S. 2155."

As we may recall, George H.W. Bush referred to the Cheney-Rumsfeld crew as "the crazies" — maybe okay to do some work and fill some spots, but not the sort of people you'd put in charge of policy. His son put them in charge of policy, but they had their own fringies who were useful for some things but not people you wanted making decisions. One of their most significant crazies was John Bolton. But none of the people who were mad enough, credulous enough, or just plain stupid enough to support the invasion of Iraq have paid a price for it. That fact doesn't please Ryan Cooper any more than it should please the rest of us. "Why America is asking for more wars [...] After the Iraq cataclysm, what America desperately needed was an honest debate about its bloody imperial bungling. What we got was, by and large, a lot of evasive mumbling about how "no one could have predicted," and how we need to "turn the page" and "look forward, not backward." The result is a Republican administration full of people who would still be in prison for war crimes in a country that took the rule of law seriously, and an opposition party too full of idiots and/or cowards to present a united front against war. Just last week, 10 Senate Democrats provided the crucial swing votes that allowed Trump to keep backstopping the genocidal Saudi war in Yemen. I have little confidence there will be a party-wide attempt to stand up to Bolton and Trump when the time comes.

Ari Berman in Mother Jones, "Kris Kobach Just Got Humiliated in Federal Court: The Kansas secretary of state wanted to prove his claims of widespread voter fraud. Instead, he was repeatedly embarrassed."

"Capitalism Eats a Co-op [...] True Value is a chain of more than 4,000 hardware stores around the world. It is a cooperative, meaning simply that it is collectively owned by the individual retail store owners, rather than being owned by, for example, a faceless outside investment firm who cares about nothing but the bottom line. This does not mean that True Value hardware is the vanguard of the socialist revolution, but it does go to show that a thoroughly middle American company can operate at large scale, for many decades, under a decentralized cooperative ownership model. It is simply a living demonstration of the fact that capitalism need not operate in its most rapacious and inhuman form; it can, instead, with collective agreement, be operated in a somewhat less horrible way, in which individual small business owners are empowered. Ah... cancel that. True Value has been sold to a private equity firm."

Sarah Jones at The New Republic, "The Pinkertons Still Never Sleep: The notorious union-busting agency has resurfaced in a telecommunications labor dispute, revealing how it has adapted to the 21st century. Workers at the telecommunications company Frontier Communications have been on strike for 20 days in West Virginia and Virginia. Their grievances are familiar ones: Workers want more protection from layoffs, better health care coverage, and the return of contracted work to the bargaining unit. The workers' union, Communications Workers of America, says the company is refusing to meet workers even part-way and has brought in replacement workers, or scabs. Furthermore, Frontier has hired some muscle: the Pinkertons.

In the Independent, "Roger Waters: Pink Floyd star on why his fellow musicians are terrified to speak out against Israel: "If they say something they will no longer have a career - I have been accused of being a Nazi and an anti-Semite."

David Dayen in The Nation, "How Mortgage Companies Might Finally Be Held Accountable: A former congressman has come up with an ingenious new approach. Brad Miller's been tracking his particular white whale for over a decade. But he hadn't found the right harpoon with which to slay it. Until last week. Miller is a former congressman from North Carolina, who co-authored the legislation creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Since leaving Congress, he's been working on litigation to finally bring to justice the mortgage companies that damaged millions of lives during the foreclosure crisis. And last week, he filed an innovative lawsuit against Ocwen, one of the nation's largest mortgage-servicing companies. (A servicer operates as an accounts-receivable department for home loans. This is the company you make your check out to.)

Shuan King at The Intercept, "Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner Promised a Criminal Justice Revolution. He's Exceeding Expectations. WHEN LIFELONG CIVIL rights attorney Larry Krasner was elected in a landslide this past November to become the new district attorney of Philadelphia, to say that his fans and supporters had high hopes would be an understatement. Anything less than a complete revolution that tore down the bigoted and patently unfair systems of mass incarceration would be a severe disappointment. Across the country, talking the talk of criminal justice reform has gotten many people elected as DA. Once in office, their reforms have often been painfully slow and disappointing. Krasner was the first candidate elected who publicly committed not just to intermittent changes, but a radical overhaul. So far, having been in office less than three months, he has exceeded expectations. He's doing something I've never quite seen before in present-day politics: Larry Krasner's keeping his word — and it's a sight to behold."

"Paul Ryan sold shares on same day as private briefing of banking crisis: Vice-presidential candidate denies he profited from a 2008 meeting with Fed chairman in which officials outlined fears for financial crisis" — That's straight-up insider trading, y'all. What are the chances he'll be prosecuted?

Alyssa Rosenberg in The Washington Post, "The most radical part of Anderson Cooper's interview with Stormy Daniels [...] But as a cultural milestone, the most radical thing Cooper did was refuse to treat Clifford as if she was irresponsible or immoral, or as if she were less than credible simply because of what she does for a living."

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "How Democrats can wipe out the GOP and fix America." There are some good ideas in here, but he glossed a little on foreign policy. And I still wish people would talk about abolishing the Budget Act.

James Banford in The New Republic, "Anti-Intelligence: What happens when the president goes to war with his own spies? [...] Former intelligence chiefs who, a few years ago, were justly chastised by much of the mainstream media for lying and violating civil liberties are now featured in the press as purveyors of truth and justice. Among them is former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was roundly criticized for what many view as his lying under oath before Congress regarding the NSA's illegal domestic spying; former NSA Director Michael Hayden, who secretly ordered his agency to begin that spying; and former CIA Director John Brennan, who purportedly ran the agency's program of targeted killing of Americans and tried to prevent the Senate from releasing its voluminous investigation into the CIA's torture program. In November, Trump attacked Clapper and Brennan as 'political hacks.' The next day, the pair appeared on CNN to defend the intelligence community. 'Considering the source of the criticism,' Brennan said of Trump's comments, 'I consider that criticism a badge of honor.' [...] Ironically, much of the danger Trump poses can be laid at the feet of Barack Obama. Assuming that past norms would be future norms, Obama created the most powerful surveillance state the world has ever seen. Over eight years, he spent more than $100 billion on everything from eavesdropping satellites encircling the globe, to a million-square-foot building in the Utah desert for storing massive troves of intercepted data, to secret taps on the hundreds of thousands of miles of undersea cables that carry everything from tweets to Google searches to endless chatter. He also unleashed fleets of killer drones around the world, authorized the assassination of Americans without trial, and jailed more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined. What Obama apparently never considered was that the Orwellian surveillance tools he created, and the precedents he set of killing and jailing Americans, could one day fall into the hands of a mountebank, demagogic president unrestrained by norms and perhaps even untethered from reality. One who may see them as preapproved weapons in his war to delegitimize his own government and attack political opponents, innocent Americans, and the press, which he has labeled 'the enemy of the American people.'"

Interesting wrinkle: I've been keeping my mouth shut about this whole story because my instincts were just up in the air. Everyone - and I mean everyone - just takes for granted that, well, Putin is vindictive and it's just the kind of thing he would do. But that presents a problem, because everyone does know it, and that means it's very easy to put him in the frame. And there are a lot of people who are getting really good at blaming their designated bad guy for stuff we even know they didn't do, and they all seem to be people who are dedicated to making Putin the Bad Guy of the Decade and pointing all the weapons in Russia's direction. And we have no reason to trust those people. So there's always a question of why, at a time like this, Putin would be dumb enough to do something that is so in character with the villain those people need him to be. (Yes, yes, he's an oligarch and thug and authoritarian, but that doesn't mean he's stupid.) And then there's this story: "Skripal 'regretted being double agent': A former classmate says the spy told him he wrote to Vladimir Putin asking to come back to Russia. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are in a critical condition after being poisoned by a nerve agent in Salisbury on 4 March. Vladimir Timoshkov was speaking exclusively to the BBC." Moscow says they never got that letter. They also claim they had nothing to do with the attack on the Skripals. Maybe, maybe not. It would have been in their interest to say that they'd seen the letter and were considering it, if they really want to deny their involvement. A lot of claims have been made that the Skripals were poisoned by a uniquely Russian nerve agent, but no experts are willing to support those claims and they seem to be sheer propaganda. (Much like with the "Russian hacks" story, ridiculous claims are made about the supposedly "uniquely Russian" origins of things that are already out there and can't actually be traced to source anymore. It's like saying Germans developed modern aspirin so it must be Germans who are responsible for an aspirin overdose. It's rubbish.)

"Making Profits on the Captive Prison Market [...] Some jails, for instance, have removed in-person family-visitation rooms to make way for 'video visitation' terminals, provided by private firms, which can charge as much as thirty dollars for forty minutes of screen time. One prison phone company, Securus Technologies, says in its marketing materials that it has paid out $1.3 billion in these so-called commissions over the past ten years."

Transcript of Mehdi Hasan's interview with Senator Bernie Sanders on the #Deconstructed podcast, We need to talk about inequality. (Podcast audio is included.)

In Gentleman's Quarterly, of all places, "The Great Lie of Conservatism [...] I grew up during the downfall of the Soviet Union, so I understand why men from the generation before me are so wary of Communist and socialist ideas, and why they endlessly worship Reagan for helping precipitate its downfall (one author created a set of Reagan-style bedrock principles, and they are as equally blind and dated as the others). I am a greedy capitalist at heart, and I do not like the prospect of a Commie Russia endgame any more than they did. But these guys were so obsessed with how liberalism might go sour that they seem to have never once considered how their own philosophy could do likewise."

Richard Eskow in Common Dreams, "The Resistance Needs Better Heroes: A movement is defined by its heroes. The Resistance can find better heroes than the ones some of its members have chosen — and it should."

Michelle Chen in The Nation, "Worker Cooperatives Are More Productive Than Normal Companies: When maximizing profits isn't the only goal, companies can actually work better. [...] By prioritizing worker autonomy, co-ops provide more sustainable long-term employment, but not only because worker-owners seek to protect their own livelihoods. If a company runs into economic distress, Perotin says, co-ops are generally more adept at preserving jobs while planning longer-term adjustments to the firm's operations, such as slowing down expansion to maintain current assets — whereas traditional corporations may pay less attention to strategic planning and simply shed jobs to tighten budgets."

"Why Black Americans Stay Poor: The education gap with whites has narrowed, but not the wealth gap. [...] In many areas -- college education, two-parent families, employment -- black families made progress toward closing the gap with whites from 1989 to 2013 (the earliest and latest data available). But the wealth gap ended up larger than ever." Well, sure, you can't put redlining on steroids and then steal all those homes — homes, that's where most families' wealth is — and not lose ground.

Just for grins, a review in the National Catholic Reporter says, "Douthat's Francis book is poorly sourced, inadequate journalism: Let's start with the compliments. Ross Douthat's latest book, To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism, exhibits a writing style that is admirable and enviable, and his command of the English language is exemplary, his ability to turn a phrase exceptional. And, like his columns, there is an almost lawyerly logic to his writing, as he moves from fact to argument and from argument to thesis. And, like all great spiritual writing, Douthat does not hold back: His personal wrestlings are there upon the page for all to see. But I come to bury Douthat not to praise him, for his facts are nonsense, his arguments tendentious, and his thesis so absurd it is shocking, absolutely shocking, that no one over at Simon & Schuster thought to ask if what he writes is completely or only partially unhinged. I incline to the former adverb."

REST IN PEACE: Dave Bischoff, 15 December 1951-19 March 2018 — He was my friend, part of the old University of Maryland sf group crew, a contributor to Thrust back when it was just a fanzine, and he once made me an incidental character in one of his books just because I'd mentioned liking one of his short stories. The obits I've seen talk about his Star Trek work but don't give a cause of death or any other personal information. He was 66.

REST IN PEACE: "Groundbreaking Journalist & Newsday Columnist Les Payne Dies at 76. Payne was a champion for racial equality and a groundbreaking journalist who exposed racial injustice from Long Island, New York, to apartheid South Africa. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on a 33-part series entitled 'The Heroin Trail,' in which he and other reporters traced the drug from the poppy fields of Turkey to the streets of U.S. cities. Les Payne was a founding member and former president of the National Association of Black Journalists. For years, he's been working on an unfinished biography of Malcolm X. This is Les Payne, reading his essay 'The Night I Stopped Being a Negro,' about his experience hearing Malcolm X speak at Bushnell Memorial Hall in Hartford, Connecticut, in June 1963. At the time, Payne was one of only 60 African-American students at the University of Connecticut — out of 10,000 enrolled students."

ROT IN PERDITION: Pete Peterson, deficit fear-monger whose "philanthropy" was largely aimed at impoverishing any American who didn't get rich during their working life. "As a fiscal watchdog, he created a well-financed foundation that addresses a spectrum of fiscal issues and holds conferences that draw America's top financial and political leaders. He wrote a half-dozen books laying out his vision for economic prosperity while critiquing, and criticizing, entitlement spending, the Social Security system and the impact on the economy of partisan politics in Washington." Gee, they make it sound so harmless, but it would be difficult to overstate what a terrible, destructive monster he was. Robert Kuttner has a much better take with his "Pete Peterson Meets St. Peter: The late private equity billionaire has some trouble at the Pearly Gates."

ROT IN PERDITION: Zell Miller, 86, former Georgia governor and US Senator, bigot, homophobe, and Fox News Democrat who famously refused to endorse the party's nominee, Bill Clinton, and was therefore denied a speaking spot at the Democratic Party convention and incessantly whined ever after that they wouldn't let him talk because he was anti-abortion, and was also the keynote speaker at the 2004 Republican Party convention. He was happy to go everywhere and complain that, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, it left me" - but not because it had turned against the New Deal, and merely because it was less inclined to accept his overt bigotry on "social issues". His erratic slides to left and right earned him the nickname "Zig-Zag Zell", but his trajectory soon became consistently toward the far right.

"The comic book that changed the world: Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story's vital role in the Civil Rights Movement"

Peter, Paul & Mary, "Well, Well, Well"

03:11 GMT comment


Monday, 19 March 2018

Don't stay too long

Democrat wins deep-red PA district; Republican turn-out was normal, but Democrats showed up. Pennsylvania Special Election Results: Lamb Wins 18th Congressional District

Charlie Pierce, "Conor Lamb's Victory Matters, and Paul Ryan Should Be Scared: Republicans had the money. They had the gerrymandering. They still couldn't do it. In his victory speech, which came before anyone had called the race, which MSNBC's Brian Williams couldn't resist telling his audience, Lamb interestingly leaned very hard on thanking the support he'd received from organized labor. In fact, he talked more — and more sincerely — about unions in that speech than any candidate I've heard since the beginning of Bernie Sanders' campaign back in 2015. This is beyond encouraging. I am sure that Lamb is going to take some positions that are going to make me crazy. (If he takes a dive on guns in this historical moment, or if he really becomes part of an effort to make, say, Tim Ryan the speaker of a newly elected Democratic House, the shebeen will not be pleased.) But telling labor that he owes his victory largely to its effort, and actually meaning it, is a very welcome — and an extremely shrewd — move for a rookie, and it evinces the kind of awareness that he's going to need to win re-election in whatever district he has to run in when this one disappears."

Ryan Cooper in Common Dreams, "Can Democrats Think Strategically About Trump Country? If Democrats are going to win in places like western Pennsylvania, they have to formulate an ideological and political stance that reverses the last generation of weak and elitist neoliberal Democratic Party policy."

"Philadelphia's New Top Prosecutor Is Rolling Out Wild, Unprecedented Criminal Justice Reforms: Philadelphia's newly minted district attorney, Larry Krasner, was meeting constituents in a packed church in West Philadelphia earlier this month to discuss his plans for the job. The meeting was unique in that it quickly revealed to community members what local civic leaders and officials have already learned about Krasner: He is making good on his promise to revolutionize the job of district attorney and, in the process, offering an extraordinary experiment in criminal justice reform at the municipal level that could serve as a national model. [...] On Tuesday, Krasner issued a memo to his staff making official a wave of new policies he had announced his attorneys last month. The memo starts: 'These policies are an effort to end mass incarceration and bring balance back to sentencing.' The most significant and groundbreaking reform is how he has instructed assistant district attorneys to wield their most powerful tool: plea offers. Over 90 percent of criminal cases nationwide are decided in plea bargains, a system which has been broken beyond repair by mandatory minimum sentences and standardized prosecutorial excess. In an about-face from how these transactions typically work, Krasner's 300 lawyers are to start many plea offers at the low end of sentencing guidelines. For most nonviolent and nonsexual crimes, or economic crimes below a $50,000 threshold, Krasner's lawyers are now to offer defendants sentences below the bottom end of the state's guidelines. So, for example, if a person with no prior convictions is accused of breaking into a store at night and emptying the cash register, he would normally face up to 14 months in jail. Under Krasner's paradigm, he'll be offered probation. If prosecutors want to use their discretion to deviate from these guidelines, say if a person has a particularly troubling rap sheet, Krasner must personally sign off."

David Dayen at The Intercept, "Democrats offer last-minute, pretend defense of fair lending laws, as they prepare to weaken them: IN A FINAL indignity, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., has offered an amendment essentially striking a controversial provision from bipartisan bank deregulation bill S.2155 that would limit tools prosecutors use to detect mortgage lending discrimination, while acknowledging that the amendment probably wouldn't get a vote — and wouldn't be necessary for his ultimate support. At issue is Section 104, which exempts all banks and credit unions issuing 500 mortgages or less a year from enhanced Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, or HMDA, data requirements used to identify lending discrimination. This would cover 85 percent of all regulated mortgage lenders from the new requirements, which were part of the Dodd-Frank Act."

David Dayen at The New Republic, "The Government's Taxes on Citizens' Free Time: The Trump administration's latest shenanigans add to the growing, everyday burden of being an American. [...] Why must Americans become part-time accountants, just to follow the rules of society? Both parties are responsible for layering these responsibilities on citizens, choosing complication over simplicity and offloading that complexity onto the individual."

Zaid Jilani at The Intercept, "States That Have Decriminalized Marijuana Should Expunge Prior Pot Convictions, Activists Say: A GROUP OF legal activists is calling on district attorneys in eight states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana to take the next logical step: expunge the records of people charged with misdemeanors related to marijuana possession. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an advocacy group, sent letters to 201 officials in eight states: Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington last week, pointing out that current procedures to expunge convictions for misdemeanor marijuana possession are cumbersome. The committee encouraged the district attorneys to follow the lead of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who announced in January that he would expunge and then dismiss thousands of misdemeanor and felony marijuana possession cases going back to 1975.

"German cities to trial free public transport to cut pollution: Plan to be tested in five cities in effort to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines: 'Car nation' Germany has surprised neighbours with a radical proposal to reduce road traffic by making public transport free, as Berlin scrambles to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines. The move comes just over two years after Volkswagen's devastating 'dieselgate' emissions cheating scandal unleashed a wave of anger at the auto industry, a keystone of German prosperity."

"Nancy Pelosi Just Endorsed a Congressman Who Opposes Abortion and Gay Rights: Dan Lipinski even voted against Obamacare. Illinois Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski's career is on life-support. The seven-term congressman from the Chicago area, who inherited his seat from his father, is facing a formidable primary challenge from businesswoman Marie Newman, whose campaign has been fueled by progressive anger at Lipinski's opposition to reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and Obamacare. EMILY's List, the national organization that supports pro-choice women candidates, has backed Newman and, along with a host of progressive groups — including Planned Parenthood and the pro-LGBT rights Human Rights Campaign — has spent heavily on ads against Lipinski Elected Democrats — including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and fellow Chicago-area Rep. Jan Schakowsky — have waded into the primary to back Newman. And in an unusual step for a race with a Democratic incumbent, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had declined to endorse Lipinski. But on Thursday, less than three weeks before the March 20 primary, Lipinski did pick up one notable supporter: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi."

"U.S. judges see 'epidemic' of prosecutorial misconduct in state: The hearing seemed largely routine until a state prosecutor approached the lectern. Deputy Atty. Gen. Kevin R. Vienna was there to urge three judges on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold murder convictions against Johnny Baca for two 1995 killings in Riverside County. Other courts had already determined that prosecutors had presented false evidence in Baca's trial but upheld the verdicts anyway. Vienna had barely started his argument when the pummeling began."

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "The subtle racism of centrist Democrats: Quisling Senate Democrats are collaborating with congressional Republicans and President Trump to roll back the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. So far they have broken a filibuster, and the bill looks set for passage. It's an immensely horrible idea that significantly raises the risk of a future financial crisis. However, it should also be emphasized that this deregulation package is racist both in specifics and in general effect. It's a perfect demonstration of how centrist Democrats sell out their most loyal voting bloc to predatory Wall Street banks." (I actually don't think it's all that subtle, myself. To me, all this deregulating and defending the banks has always screamed, "Steal black wealth!" to me. Yes, steal a lot of white wealth, too, but there have been numerous structural means used longer than my lifetime to make it harder for black people to get "real property" than it is for whites, and since having that land and home make an enormous difference to the success of a family, allowing the financial industry to continue to make both acquiring and keeping real property especially difficult for black people is a blatant and direct racist attack on black America.)

"If You Care About Sex Trafficking, Trust People in the Sex Trades — Not Celebrities: When I use my writing platform to discuss my sex work history and advocate for people who are currently in the sex trades, one of the occupational hazards I resent the most is the demand that I prove my legitimacy by reliving past traumas. Another is the unending task of learning the ins and outs of misleadingly labeled federal legislation that would be disastrous for sex workers. But learn it, I do, and you should too as a horrific bill, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 (SESTA), inches closer to a Senate vote."

"The article removed from Forbes, 'Why White Evangelicalism Is So Cruel' [...] There is still today a Southern Baptist Church. More than a century and a half after the Civil War, and decades after the Methodists and Presbyterians reunited with their Yankee neighbors, America's most powerful evangelical denomination remains defined, right down to the name over the door, by an 1845 split over slavery. Southern denominations faced enormous social and political pressure from plantation owners. Public expressions of dissent on the subject of slavery in the South were not merely outlawed, they were a death sentence. Baptist ministers who rejected slavery, like South Carolina's William Henry Brisbane, were forced to flee to the North. Otherwise, they would end up like Methodist minister Anthony Bewley, who was lynched in Texas in 1860, his bones left exposed at local store to be played with by children. Whiteness offered protection from many of the South's cruelties, but that protection stopped at the subject of race. No one who dared speak truth to power on the subject of slavery, or later Jim Crow, could expect protection. Generation after generation, Southern pastors adapted their theology to thrive under a terrorist state."

The Hill, "Sanders: DCCC primary attacks on other Dems 'not acceptable': Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Wednesday that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's attacks on a progressive House candidate in Texas were "appalling" and 'unacceptable.'" I still get bugged by Clinton's claim that the "long primary" hurt her in the general. It wasn't a long primary. It started more than a whole summer later than the primaries for the 2008 election, which didn't hurt Obama at all in the general.

Also at The Hill, Brent Budowsky says, "A Sanders-Warren ticket could win big in 2020 [...] Whether one supports Sanders or any other potential candidate in 2020, the case is clear that a strong progressive program and message would give Democrats a decided advantage in any campaign against the scandal-ridden and crony-capitalist-dominated presidency of Trump and his GOP allies in Congress."

"The CIA Democrats: Part one: An extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The potential influx of military-intelligence personnel into the legislature has no precedent in US political history. If the Democrats capture a majority in the House of Representatives on November 6, as widely predicted, candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress. They will hold the balance of power in the lower chamber of Congress. If the Democrats capture a majority in the House of Representatives on November 6, as widely predicted, candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress. They will hold the balance of power in the lower chamber of Congress."

The California Democrats did not endorse Diane Feinstein this year, so it's hardly a surprise that Sanders won't endorse Feinstein, either.

Elizabeth Bruenig in, amazingly, The Washington Post, says, "It's time to give socialism a try: In the United States, we've arrived at a pair of mutually exclusive convictions: that liberal, capitalist democracies are guaranteed by their nature to succeed and that in our Trumpist moment they seem to be failing in deeply unsettling ways. For liberals — and by this I mean inheritors of the long liberal tradition, not specifically those who might also be called progressives — efforts to square these two notions have typically combined expressions of high anxiety with reassurances that, if we only have the right attitude, everything will set itself aright. Hanging on and hoping for the best is certainly one approach to rescuing the best of liberalism from its discontents, but my answer is admittedly more ambitious: It's time to give socialism a try."

Matt Taibbi, "Russiagate may have been aimed at Trump to start, but it's become a way of targeting all dissent [...] If you don't think that the endgame to all of this lunacy is a world where every America-critical movement from Black Lives Matter to Our Revolution to the Green Party is ultimately swept up in the collusion narrative along with Donald Trump and his alt-right minions, you haven't been paying attention."

"How A Twitter Fight Over Bernie Sanders Revealed A Network Of Fake Accounts: One Democratic Party consultant said an unnamed client controlled many of these accounts." Basically, a bunch of bots used to promote hateful, divisive tweets against Bernie Sanders.

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest On Trump's Steel/Aluminum Tariffs And So-Called 'Trade' Generally: I agree with the tariffs, but not the way it is being done. It should have been planned, phased in, coordinated with US industry and, most important, part of a comprehensive US economic/trade/industrial policy. The latter just isn't going to happen under Trump nor under a Wall Street dominated economy even with Democrats running things."

Thomas Kline MD, PhD, "February, 2018 update of PAIN RELATED SUICIDES associated with forced opioid pain medication reductions and discontinuations as recommended by the CDC and by Andrew Kolodny, M.D. and his 'Physicians for Responsible Opiate Prescribing' (PROP)" — I don't expect anyone to read all of this but it shouldn't take much reading to recognize that this is a cruel and vile situation.

In The Nation, It's Time to Abolish ICE: A mass-deportation strike force is incompatible with democracy and human rights."

Max Sawicky reviews Fair Shot: BY THE STANDARDS OF FACEBOOK'S TITANS, co-founder Chris Hughes was an also-ran. His payout from early participation in the company's launch, which stemmed from the good fortune of having been Mark Zuckerberg's college roommate, was only $500 million. To his credit, Hughes — a former fundraiser for Barack Obama now best known for his short-lived reign as The New Republic's would-be Silicon Valley savior — is preoccupied with the injustice of his windfall and has investigated how best to give an appreciable chunk of his money away, in the service of good causes. This turns out to be a difficult project. One of his solutions is to devote himself to the advocacy of a new program to guarantee income for all Americans. He could have done worse." Max reckons Hughes makes a nice start at batting away some of the worst myths in opposition, but has a long way to go.

"The Impact of 'Modern Sexism' on the 2016 Presidential Election: A report from the 2016 Blair Center Poll prepared by Angie Maxwell, Ph.D. and Todd Shields, Ph.D." I didn't read it all, but it did have this amusing graph.

RIP: "Rep. Louise Slaughter, progressive champion of women's rights, dies at 88." This is pretty sad news, because she was one of that small handful who had real accomplishments, fought the good fight, and wasn't just in it for herself. She was also a champion of net neutrality and was never a trusting neoliberal. "When President Bill Clinton asked for her support on NAFTA, she famously replied, 'Why are you carrying George Bush's trash?'"

RIP: "Former Black Panther Herman Wallace dies days after judge overturns murder conviction that saw him serve 41 years in solitary confinement: A former Black Panther who served 41 years in solitary confinement has died days after a US federal judge overturned his conviction for the murder of a prison guard. Herman Wallace was freed on Tuesday after Judge Brian Jackson ruled his 1974 trial had been 'unconstitutional' and ordered his immediate release. He was suffering from terminal liver cancer and died with supporters by his side early this morning. He was 71."

RIP: Kate Wilhelm, science fiction great and co-founder of the Clarion Workshop, accomplished and widely-read author, mentor to many, at 89. The photo above is one I took of her with Chip Delany at Wiscon 30.

RIP: Peter Nichols, write, editor, and longtime critic and historian of science fiction, best known as the creator-organizer of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, presumably of Parkinson's. He was 79.

RIP: Stephen Hawking, renowned theoretical physicist, Star Trek fan, and not a big fan of Sheldon, at 76. And who can forget that endearing moment when right-wingers who never figured out that it was Hawking's voice machine, and not him, that had the American accent, and who actually used him as an example of the merits of the American system — and Hawking's rejoinder was that he would have died without the UK's National Health Service.

Atrios claims he tried this trick for making microwave buckwheat bread in three minutes and it worked. It's even gluten-free.

Patrick Sky, "Nectar of God"

16:23 GMT comment


Thursday, 08 March 2018

Did you follow the Crystal Swan?

Bless you, Matt Taibbi. "If We Want Kids to Stop Killing, the Adults Have to Stop, Too"

Apart from a few scenes in Bowling for Columbine, this is an explanation you won't hear very much. Military spending is the lifeline of virtually every federally-elected politician in the country. You've been to trained seal shows where the animals get a fish every time they perform? The same principle works with members of Congress and defense contracts.

The U.S. is more dependent than ever on a quasi-socialistic system that redistributes tax dollars to defense projects in even fashion across both Republican and Democratic congressional districts. A few times a year, you'll spot a news story about someone in the Pentagon trying to refuse a spending initiative, only to be told to keep building by Congress.

Yes, I remember Michael Moore being the only public figure I have ever seen asking this important question about the simple fact that while other countries have guns, they don't have all this shooting people going on. And why is that? Isn't it the constant ginning up of fear and hate our own mass media has dedicated itself to?

* * * * *

I am so bored with Russian bots. Seems they tweeted or Facebooked everyone, but the Clintonites are of course out in force saying, "Bernie benefited from Russian bots and he should answer for this!" or similar. It's annoying. The whole story gets stupider by the day. They also seem to think they have "proof" that Putin was elevating Jill Stein, although the bots gave Clinton at least as much of a boost as they gave Stein. 13 bots sent out memes saying, among other things, "Hillary is a Satan" (they also sent out pro-Clinton posts and retweeted the hell out of Joy Reid), and this supposedly swung Clinton voters away from voting for her, which is an interesting theory about the minds of potential Clinton voters. Anyway here's a good comment from Atrios on the subject.

At a blog that bears a mysterious resemblance to Billmon's Whiskey Bar, we learn "'Russian bots' — How An Anti-Russian Lobby Creates Fake News: The U.S. mainstream media are going nuts. They now make up and report stories based on the uncritical acceptance of an algorithm they do not want to understand and which is known to produce fake results. [...] In other words — the "Twitter accounts suspected of having links to Russia" were following the current news just as cable news networks do. When a new sensational event happened they immediately jumped onto it. But the NYT authors go to length to claim that there is some nefarious Russian scheme behind this that uses automated accounts to spread divisive issues. [...] The real method the Hamilton 68 group used to select the 600 accounts it tracks is unknown. The group does not say or show how it made it up. Despite that the NYT reporters, Sheera Frenkel and Daisuke Wakabayashi, continue with the false assumptions that most or all of these accounts are automated, have something to do with Russia and are presumably nefarious."

I sometimes find Jimmy Dore a bit over-the-top but this clip gives you a more accurate picture of what's really going on than any of our more "responsible" coverage provides. It's embarrassing to see people like Ari Melber repeating nonsense about how Sanders (but not Clinton) has to answer for the social media junk that apparently supported the campaign.

"Hyping the Mueller Indictment: Do the charges against Russian individuals and organizations really describe the 'second-worst foreign attack on America'? [...] Neoconservative pundit Max Boot decries 'the second-worst foreign attack on America,' after 9/11, one that 'may be even more corrosive.' According to liberal Jonathan Alter, the Russians have launched 'an attack that — but for the loss of life — is as bad as Pearl Harbor.' Democratic Representative Jerrold Nadler concurs, explaining to MSNBC: 'They didn't kill anyone but they're destroying our democratic process.' Not in the amount of violence, but in the seriousness, it is very much on par.'" You could just bang your head against a wall.

Norman Solomon at Truthdig, "Is MSNBC Now the Most Dangerous Warmonger Network? [...] In effect, the programming on MSNBC follows a thin blue party line, breathlessly conforming to Democratic leaders' refrains about Russia as a mortal threat to American democracy and freedom across the globe. But hey — MSNBC's ratings have climbed upward during its monochrome reporting, so why worry about whether coverage is neglecting dozens of other crucial stories? Or why worry if the anti-Russia drumbeat is worsening the risks of a global conflagration?"

* * * * *

Haaretz, "To Leave Gaza, Israel Asks Palestinian Minors to Commit They Not Return for a Year: Israel imposes harsher restrictions on Gazan kids leaving the Strip for abroad, demanding they sign an agreement to stay away. On January 24, 17-year-old Hadil and her three younger siblings arrived at the Erez Checkpoint between Israel and the Gaza Strip. A day earlier, they'd received an Israeli permit to leave Gaza through Israel via the Allenby Bridge to Jordan. Since Israel didn't let their oldest brother accompany them on the trip to see their father, who lives in Sweden, Hadil got the job of being the responsible adult. At Erez, a representative of Israel's Coordination and Liaison Office asked all four to sign a commitment not to return to Gaza during the next year, adding that they wouldn't be allowed to leave if they didn't sign. Having no choice, Hadil signed for all of them. Hadil never dreamed that her signature on this commitment would result in the Liaison Office issuing more stringent instructions to its Palestinian counterpart, the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee, and in the latter defying the new rules."

"West Virginia Teachers Are Now Out on a Wildcat Strike. The Labor Movement Should Follow Their Lead. In a bright spot among an otherwise bleak landscape for labor, over 15,000 teachers and school support employees in all 55 West Virginia counties have been out on strike for seven days, as they and supporters from around the state continue to flood the capitol in Charleston, W.V., demanding higher pay and affordable healthcare. Bucking a deal struck between the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) and the state government, school workers have defied both union leadership and state law, which affords them no right to strike and does not recognize their right to collectively bargain. These restrictions haven't stopped West Virginia educators from leading what may be one of the most important labor actions in years."

"Sanders Introduces Bill to End Catastrophic US War in Yemen: Three years of U.S.-Saudi war has turned Yemen into the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth. Senators Bernie Sanders and Mike Lee introduced a bipartisan bill to end the U.S. role in the war — Ben Norton reports."

"2 winners and 2 losers from the 2018 Texas primary elections: Most high-profile races will go to runoffs. But there were some clear outcomes."

There is something really twisted about admitting that you think people shooting each other is healthier than masturbation. I mean, seriously. In "NRA vs. Exxxotica", our friend Mark Kernes explains why the Dallas city council has decided that a weapons-dealers' trade show is good enough for their convention center, but a return of the successful and popular Exxxotica is not.

"At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions. [...] Conservatives, it turns out, react more strongly to physical threat than liberals do. In fact, their greater concern with physical safety seems to be determined early in life: In one University of California study, the more fear a 4-year-old showed in a laboratory situation, the more conservative his or her political attitudes were found to be 20 years later. [...] But if they had instead just imagined being completely physically safe, the Republicans became significantly more liberal — their positions on social attitudes were much more like the Democratic respondents. And on the issue of social change in general, the Republicans' attitudes were now indistinguishable from the Democrats. Imagining being completely safe from physical harm had done what no experiment had done before — it had turned conservatives into liberals."

Max Sawicky, "Is That All There Is? How Full Is Our 'Full Employment'? There's more than one reason to get jacked up over the Republicans' epic deficit orgy of 2017-18. One that deserves closer scrutiny is the view that since the economy is at full employment, this is the wrong time for deficits to increase. The temptation to lambaste the G.O.P. for its deficit perfidy may be overwhelming, but it could also be both bad economics and bad politics."

* * * * *

Atrios, with "Centrism Isn't Centrism"

One of the running themes of this sucky blog is much of what is generally described as the "political center" is not and "moderate politicians" are not. Such "centrism" is mostly about issues and votes which have no constituency where Democrats are willing to join with Republicans (yay, bipartisan!). Or, at least, no constituency of voters. They're things which, usually, have a constituency of big donors. They aren't our principled deal-making "last honest people of Washington." They're our most corrupt.

Thinking otherwise allows corrupt Dems to join with equally corrupt Republicans to do things like this, and con people into thinking it's about "principled moderation" and that (in some cases) they're just representing their red state voters. Crazy liberals can't win in Missouri! Only principled moderates can!

No voters in Missouri want to eviscerate banking reforms. The most you can say with respect to electoral viability is that by pleasing big money, you prevent big money from going after you at election time. That might be true. But that's because they're going to run ads about other issues (the laundry list of Liberals Are Bad), not because supporting bank regulations is going to turn off independent minded swing voters.

I question the utility of being squishy on abortion rights and gun control, but it's fair to say that positioning might actually get some votes. Voting for future bank bailouts? Nah.

* * * * *

At Econospeak, Peter Dorman with "Divide and Rule"

There was a time, one I can remember from when I was growing up (the 1950s and 60s), when being a liberal meant you wanted certain rights and benefits for everyone, at least ostensibly. We had Social Security because everyone should have a basic pension when they retire, and all disabled people need to be cared for. Freedom of speech was for everyone, even those horrible Nazis in Skokie. Liberals wanted national health insurance so everyone could afford medical care, but settled for Medicare, a universal program for seniors. Protestors like me were not against the rhetoric of universalism but the hypocritical practice, where blacks, Mexican and Filipino farmworkers and poor single moms were denied their share. That was then.

Now, liberals are concerned about minorities and the poor. They are against privilege, which is defined as not being a minority or poor. Public programs are designed to give assistance to the most oppressed and not waste their resources on those who have the privilege to fend for themselves. A poster child for the new politics is higher education. Liberals want bigger subsidies, like more Pell Grants, for the poorest students and those who self-select by enrolling in community college. They were distraught at Bernie Sanders' call for free public higher ed for all, since that would siphon off scarce resources for the benefit of privileged, nonpoor families. From their perspective, this was proof that Bernie and his ilk were unwoke: unaware of the scourge of privilege, they even wanted public support for it.

In fact, nothing is more important for the future of progressive politics than a return to universalism. If you doubt this, read this powerful reportage in the New York Times on the divisions opened up by Obamacare. It describes two women, one working part-time and living below the poverty line who gets ample, free health coverage, the other working full-time in a middle class job who is stuck with monthly $1000 premiums and a big deductible. That's not a bug but a feature: the program was set up to focus its support on those at the bottom and charge full freight for everyone else.

The effect is to divide the working class into two groups, poor winners and nonpoor losers. The politics are toxic, as you might expect. (Yes, the reporter found a Democrat to represent women below the poverty line and a Republican for women above it, which gives it an unfortunate air of exaggeration, but the logic of the comparison remains compelling.) It is also bad social policy, since at the margin households making $80,000 a year (the middle class example) can also skimp on care if the financial pinch is too much.

* * * * *

Pankaj Mishra, "Why do white people like what I write? [...] Compared to these internationalist thinkers, partisans of the second black president, who happen to be the most influential writers and journalists in the US, have provincialised their aspiration for a just society. They have neatly separated it from opposition to an imperial dispensation that incarcerates and deports millions of people each year — disproportionately people of colour — and routinely exercises its right to assault and despoil other countries and murder and torture their citizens. Perceptive about the structural violence of the new Jim Crow, Coates has little to say about its manifestation in the new world order. For all his searing corroboration of racial stigma in America, he has yet to make a connection as vital and powerful as the one that MLK detected in his disillusioned last days between the American devastation of Vietnam and 'the evils that are rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society'. He has so far considered only one of what King identified as 'the giant American triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism' — the 'inter-related flaws' that turned American society into a 'burning house' for the blacks trying to integrate into it. And in Coates's worldview even race, despite his formidable authority of personal witness, rarely transcends a rancorously polarised American politics of racial division, in which the world's most powerful man appears to have been hounded for eight years by unreconstructed American racists. 'My President Was Black', a 17,000-word profile in the Atlantic, is remarkable for its missing interrogations of the black president for his killings by drones, despoilation of Libya, Yemen and Somalia, mass deportations, and cravenness before the titans of finance who ruined millions of black as well as white lives. Coates has been accused of mystifying race and of 'essentialising' whiteness. Nowhere, however, does his view of racial identity seem as static as in his critical tenderness for a black member of the 1 per cent."

"Why are Democratic party thinktanks still not backing universal healthcare?" Well, the last time there was a roll toward some kind of single-payer-ish program, the American Enterprise Institute created a monstrosity that became RomneyCare and then Obamacare to head it off. They've shot their wad, looks like it's time for the faux "progressives" to take a shot.

* * * * *

Howie Klein, "DCCC Comes Out Of The Closet As The Progressive-Hating Attack Machine It's Been For Over A Decade. Nancy Pelosi gave a very strange interview the other day, but "Her theory behind the races exploded yesterday in Houston when the DCCC did something publicly that it usually only-- and always-- does behind the scenes where no one can watch. It viciously attacked a progressive candidate, Laura Moser, to benefit an establishment corporate shill in the primary."

Lee Fang, Ryan Grim, David Dayen. "DCCC goes nuclear, slams Dem candidate as corrupt for same behavior it engages in regularly: ON THURSDAY EVENING, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took the extraordinary step of publicly attacking a prominent Democratic candidate in a contested Texas primary. The party committee's move was made all the more jarring given the background of the candidate, Laura Moser, who in 2017 became a hero of the Trump resistance movement as the creator of Daily Action, a text-messaging tool that channelled progressive anger into a single piece of activism per day."

Daniel Marans at The Huffington Post, "DCCC Advised Candidates Not To Discuss Gun Control Policy Right After Vegas Shooting: The campaign organization said Democrats should focus on offering thoughts and prayers."

"From Pushing 'Thoughts and Prayers' to Dissing Medicare for All, DCCC Called Out for Sabotaging Bold Demands: While House Democrats were urged to ignore Medicare for All as a viable solution to the nation's healthcare woes, a separate memo to lawmakers after Las Vegas shooting appeared to be 'straight out of the NRA's talking points'" It's just amazing how the leaked DCCC "unity" memo seems so concerned about hiring the "right" consultants and spending most of your money on paid advertising.

Zaid Jilani, "DCCC internal polling presented to members of congress panned single-payer health care

For the record, the Democratic Party does not have a page like this listing their election wins and losses. And while it's true that Our Revolution appears to have lost more than they've won, they've had some interesting victories, often in deep red country. You might want to save this link for the next time someone claims otherwise.

* * * * *

"Supreme Court limits protections for corporate whistleblowers: The Supreme Court sharply limited the legal protections for corporate whistleblowers on Wednesday, ruling they are not shielded from being fired under a federal law unless they have reported a potential fraud to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The justices conceded their ruling might gut the whistleblower protections that were adopted after the Wall Street collapse in 2008. Lawmakers had said they wanted to break the "corporate code of silence" that prevented employees from revealing wrongdoing inside their companies. But the high court, in an unanimous decision, said the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 defined a protected whistleblower as someone who reported a potential fraud "to the commission," referring to the SEC."

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Calls Out Big Pharma For Opposing Legal Marijuana: "'To them it's competition for chronic pain, and that's outrageous because we don't have the crisis in people who take marijuana for chronic pain having overdose issues,' Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said. 'It's not the same thing. It's not as highly addictive as opioids are.'"

"Let Them Eat Experience: Until last month, almost all unpaid internships were technically illegal. Now it's open season for employers who want free labor."

David Dayen says it's Time to Take On ICE, and also links to some other stories he's done on an interesting development in the newly-Democratic Virginia legislature.
* Also Dday in The Nation on The Dirty Secret Behind Warren Buffett's Billions." In other Tiny Letters, he tells us about Bipartisan Deregulators, Stadium Banks and the Citigroup Carve-Out and the Janus case that looks set to cripple public sector unions.

Dday also tells us about a publishing project he will be contributing to, of small "books" on DC-related subjects. "My friend and Intercept colleague Ryan Grim has co-founded a publishing company called Strong Arm Press. They produce investigations of major figures in the Trump orbit, a sort of field guide to the people running the world these days. The books are expansive enough to really delve into a subject but much smaller than a book, about 10,000 words or so. They are sold cheaply, like $5 or $10, mostly as ebooks. Ryan has asked me to contribute to one such exposé of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who I've written about once or twice. We have a terrific reporter, Rebecca Burns, working hard on this project. So, you can buy the in-depth reporting, but you can also help fund it if you have a few extra pennies to throw in.

Plus! On The Majority Report, "Attacking Wall Street Reform w/ David Dayen" — Gosh, he sounds really steamed.

"If Police Don't Have to Protect the Public, What Good Are They? The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed, most recently in 2005, that police have no constitutional duty to protect members of the public from harm. [...] Police have shot and killed Americans of all ages — many of them unarmed — for standing a certain way, or moving a certain way, or holding something — anything — that police could misinterpret to be a gun, or igniting some trigger-centric fear in a police officer's mind that has nothing to do with an actual threat to their safety. In recent years, Americans have been killed by police merely for standing in a 'shooting stance,' holding a cell phone, behaving oddly and holding a baseball bat, opening the front door, running in an aggressive manner holding a tree branch, crawling around naked, hunching over in a defensive posture, wearing dark pants and a basketball jersey, driving while deaf, being homeless, brandishing a shoehorn, holding a garden hose, and peeing outdoors." But they didn't do a thing against the Parkland shooter. And, don't get me wrong, that was the smart thing to do — they would have ended up dead. But the police seem to have become the most dangerous gang on the streets while contributing increasingly less value to the community.

Juan Cole, "Did an Emirates-Israel alliance Help elect Trump more than Russia?

Lee Camp at Truthdig. "Six Ways the 'Resistance' Gave Trump a Dictator's Toolkit: My longtime arch-nemesis, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — which I thought we had vanquished after years of stabbing, kicking and choking it — may now be rising from the dead like a zombie, like a vampire, like a Jeff Sessions. And this is yet another sign that the so-called Democratic 'Resistance' is a joke so big it has to buy two airplane seats. [...] What does this have to do with the so-called Democratic 'resistance'? Well, there's a reason Trump has such an outsize trade authority — a reason your mainstream media would rather you forget. Obama handed this trade authority to Trump on a silver platter. Back in 2015, Congress, under pressure from the Obama administration, voted to give the president, any president, unlimited trade authority for the next six years. This means Congress cannot change a word of any trade deal Trump approves."

Beat the Press, "Hey Folks, Looks Like Corporate America Hasn't Heard About the Trump Tax Cuts: News must travel slowly to corporate headquarters these days. How else can we explain the fact that corporate America isn't rushing out to invest in response to the big tax cut Congress voted them last year? [...] If the tax cuts matter for investment, then companies like GE, Microsoft, and Amazon were making plans as soon as it became clear that the Republican majority in Congress was serious about passing a tax bill. The fact that we are seeing zero evidence of an uptick in investment suggests that tax cuts don't have much impact on investment. Rather than being about promoting economic growth that would lead to productivity gains and higher wages for ordinary workers, the tax cuts were actually just another way to redistribute more money upward. As Speaker Ryan always says: #RichPeopleNeedTaxCuts."

David Cay Johnston, "Here's Why Donald Trump Is In The White House: New Data Show Falling Incomes Through the Obama Years [...] The average income on 2016 tax returns shows that people effectively lost one week of income compared to 2015. The average was $67,755, down almost $1,300 from the year before when adjusted for inflation, my analysis of new IRS Table 1 preliminary data shows."

CONGRATULATIONS: "Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Associate Publisher, is now also Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Tor Books, reporting to me. Patrick's 29 years at Tor, coupled with his encyclopedic knowledge of the industry and his award-winning editing skills, make him perfect for this key role that will help us to continue to grow the business."

REST IN PEACE: "Pearls Before Swine Band Mastermind Tom Rapp Dead at 70: Psych folk legend also worked as civil rights lawyer"

REST IN PEACE: "Barry Crimmins, Comedian and Activist, Dead at 64 [...] Crimmins was a stalwart in the Boston stand-up scene during the Eighties and became known for his powerful monologues and scathing political satire. Along with performing, he founded two clubs, the Ding Ho and Stitches, where he produced an array of shows that featured burgeoning comics like Goldthwait, Steven Wright, Kevin Meaney and Paula Poundstone." There are some videos there at The Rolling Stone's article and more at the Guardian. Longtime readers of The Sideshow will remember that Barry was a mainstay of the liberal web in the days of Bartcop, Media Whores Online. and the early blogging days.

REST IN PEACE: "Nanette Fabray, TV Star of the '50s and '60s, Dies at 97" One of those actors who was on the screen my entire life. I noticed she had gone only because Marlee Matlin tweeted: "A follower shared this very sweet video of Nanette Fabray signing 'Over the Rainbow' on the Carol Burnett Show. It was probably the first time anyone signed on network TV."

REST IN PEACE: "The Crystals Singer Barbara Ann Alston Dead at 74, following a two-week battle with the flu." I can't pick my favorite of their songs, but here she is singing lead on "Uptown". (Oh, okay, she didn't sing lead on "Da Doo Ron Ron". but here it is anyway.)

REST IN PEACE: "David Ogden Stiers, Major Winchester on 'MASH,' Dies at 75. [...] Indeed, it was his voice that earned him his first screen credit — as the announcer in George Lucas' 1971 film THX 1138."

REST IN PERDITION: Billy Graham, Evangelist for American Empire and homophobia, at 99.

Tom Sullivan, "This is what more looks like: Want to know one reason why Democrats get no traction in the Plains States? I tried to email Kansas, South Dakota, and Montana counties yesterday and got pissed off. The white counties in otherwise red-shaded states are either unorganized or have no email or Facebook contact information on the state party websites (and probably not even a Facebook page not listed there). That's 40 percent of Kansas counties, half of Montana, and 70 percent of South Dakota. That's counties, not population, naturally. Okay, very rural, low-density areas I have the luxury of not trying to organize. And maybe it is because there are no Democrats out there. Even so. Those states elect U.S. senators. If Democrats don't show up to play, they forfeit. Look at south-central Georgia. So, I don't want to hear "This is the most important election of our lifetime" again. Ever. Because if you think short-term, you never invest in the future. As they say around the office, "Why is there never time to do it right, but always time to do it over?" Democrats do it over — and over — on a two-year cycle, in many places starting each time from scratch."

"Depressed? Anxious? Blame Neoliberalism. [...] Throughout the day, some of the country's most important scientists spoke about their research into these problems. Yet, as the day went on, something baffled me. If all you knew about depression, anxiety and addiction was what was presented at this day-long conference, you would have thought these conditions were caused by malfunctions in people's brains. We looked at pictures of brain scans and talked about internal brain mechanisms. One group of scientists said they aimed to eradicate depression by 2050 — but the focus of their research was entirely biological. [...] As Margaret Thatcher put it when I was a kid, 'There's no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.' Neoliberalism poses many problems, but perhaps the most neglected is that it has supercharged our current crisis of depression and anxiety. All human beings have natural psychological needs: to feel we belong, to feel we are secure, to feel we are valued, to feel we have a secure future we can understand. These are ingrained in us all. Neoliberalism does a very poor job of meeting these psychological needs, in part because its theory of human nature doesn't match with human nature.

"There Was A 1908 Board Game About Women Fighting Cops In The Streets" — called Suffragetto.

A recent appearance by Miss Boop

They look like photographs but they're drawings: The art of Kelvin Okafor.

These bras are exactly the opposite of what I love about Wacoal, but they are so beautiful I almost wish for them.

Pearls Before Swine, "Another Time"

19:10 GMT comment


Sunday, 18 February 2018

And sometimes there are no words

Last month's weird story about a raid on Newsweek/IBT offices was followed by David Sirota's announcement that he was resigning the publications. It seems management was playing a bit fast and loose with the laws on fraud and money laundering. "Newsweek's Top Editors and a Reporter Let Go Amid Turmoil: Less than a week after both the chairman and finance director of Newsweek Media Group stepped down, several of the publication's top editors and reporters are also out. While some were let go, at least one has resigned. Bob Roe, editor in chief of Newsweek since August, and Ken Li, the publication's executive editor, were dismissed Monday. It's not clear yet why they were let go. Celeste Katz, who had been reporting on a Manhattan District Attorney's office probe of the Newsweek Media Group, was also dismissed. 'I'll sleep well tonight — and I'm looking for a job!' she tweeted late Monday. Another reporter who had been looking into the company, Josh Keefe, tweeted, 'I have not been fired, although that was very clearly the plan.' Matthew Cooper, who's worked twice for Newsweek, first in the 1990s and again since 2014, resigned. 'I've never seen more reckless leadership,' Cooper wrote in his resignation letter to NMG CEO Dev Pragad, which Cooper published to Facebook, adding 'I'm resigning from Newsweek at the end of the business today. Perhaps that's moot since the staff has been sent home and the magazine, for all we know, doesn't exist.' This morning, another Newsweek and IBT reporter, David Sirota announced his resignation from the company." And then there's this story: "Newsweek Editors Blast Exec to His Face: 'What You're Doing Is Bulls**t. You Don't Understand Journalism.': During an increasingly ugly meeting, the company's CCO refused to answer whether money laundering allegations were true and blamed staff for undermining the business." Anyway, David Sirota is looking for a job and health care for his family.

"Marijuana Criminal Cases Dropped En Masse by Philadelphia District Attorney: The new DA's message to police who arrest people for simple pot possession: We're going to drop the charges."

"Abolition of death penalty gets closer to reality as bill clears Washington state Senate: Efforts to eliminate Washington's death penalty in the 2018 legislative session continued to break new ground Wednesday when a bill banning the practice passed the Senate. The 26-22 vote marks the latest — and what some lawmakers say is the strongest — push to repeal the death penalty as a possible punishment for aggravated first-degree murder. That punishment would be replaced with life without parole if the bill is signed into law."

"Anti-Trumpists Use Mueller Indictments to Escalate Tensions With Nuclear-Armed Russia: Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's indictment of 13 alleged members of a Russian troll farm is leading to calls for escalation with Russia, exacerbating tensions that are already at historic — and dangerous — lows, observes Caitlin Johnstone."

Jonathan Cohn, "Without the Votes of these 12 Dems, the House GOP's Assault on the ADA Would Have Failed: On Wednesday, House Republicans celebrated Valentine's Day by attacking consumer protections and financial regulations. The next day, amidst the national mourning following the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, House Republicans voted to turn the clock backwards on civil rights. Just like Social Security and Medicare 'reform' often means dismemberment, so, too, was ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 about weakening this landmark law protecting the rights of those with disabilities."

"How To Root The Republican Fakers Out Of Democratic Primaries-- Joseph Kopser Just Made It Very East In TX-21: The Texas primaries are coming up in just under 3 weeks-- followed by primary runoffs on May 22. And those primaries-- with so many vulnerable red seats and so many seats Republican incumbents are abandoning-- are crowded. TX-21 is a super-gerrymandered district that starts up in West Campus and the Drag in Austin, skirts the state Capitol, takes in Downtown before crossing the Colorado River to encompass Travis Heights, South Lamar and Sunset Valley before heading down through Buda, the western part of both San Marcos and New Braunfels before hitting Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, Terrell Hills, Fort Sam Houston and Government Hill in San Antonio. To the west of that skinny corridor from south Austin to north San Antonio is a big chunk of less populated Hill Country that includes Boerne, Frederickcburg, Bandera, Medina way out to Camp Wood on the Nueces River. May back last April we started warning our friends in San Antonio-- people in Austin already knew-- that one of the Democratic candidates, Joseph Kopser, was really a Republican trying to pass himself off as a Democrat." You know what comes next, right?

David Dayen at The Intercept, "After Boasting About Lowering Black Unemployment, Donald Trump Undermines The Federal Unit Defending Against Housing Discrimination: DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL campaign, Donald Trump's pitch to the black community was direct: 'What the hell do you have to lose?' On Tuesday night, he stood before the nation and boasted about the lowest unemployment rate on record for African-Americans. But just hours before his State of the Union address, his lieutenant and handpicked head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney, told staff in an email that he was seizing control of the unit responsible for policing anti-lending-discrimination laws. CFPB Acting Director Mulvaney, in a previously unreported move, said that he would be putting the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, or OFLEO, under his direct control, startling consumer protection and civil rights advocates, and raising concerns that the office would be unable to carry out its mission — and that, indeed, that was the very purpose of the shift." As a side note, The Washington Post seems to be grabbing credit for this story although their version looks remarkably like David's, which was published first.

"'Socialist' Judge, Refusing To Evict Tenants, Rankles City Landlords: PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Luxury apartment buildings are going up, rents are going up, and guess what else? Evictions are going up as more and more people are being tossed out of their apartments for non-payment of rent. 'We have a crisis in housing in this city. Poor people are being forced out of the city,' said Mel Packer, an affordable housing advocate. Recently-elected District Justice Mik Pappas ran on a platform of stemming that tide by making landlords more accountable in court."

Dday at In These Times, "Cities Scrambling to Attract Amazon Because It 'Creates Jobs' Are Being Sold a Lie: Using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, EPI researchers Ben Zipperer and Janelle Jones analyzed what happens to employment in a county once Amazon builds a fulfillment center. Though warehousing and storage jobs do increase, the net effect is close to nil, as new jobs are offset by losses elsewhere in the county. The findings mean that all the money poured into Amazon on the promise of job creation is essentially a waste. 'It doesn't increase overall private sector employment,' Jones, an economic analyst with EPI, tells In These Times. 'No matter how much you slice this data, it's just not there.'"

"ICE lawyer in Seattle charged with stealing immigrants' IDs: The chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle has been charged with stealing immigrants' identities. Raphael A. Sanchez, who resigned from the agency effective Monday, faces one count of aggravated identity theft and another of wire fraud in a charging document filed Monday in U.S. District Court."

Zaid Jilani, "Democrats Anonymously Target Muslim Candidate, Questioning His Eligibility To Run For Michigan Governor: ON THE SAME day that he unveiled an urban agenda that highlights public transportation, affordable housing, and criminal justice reform, Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed came under fire in what he has described as a 'birther'-like campaign questioning his eligibility to run for governor. El-Sayed, a lifelong Michigander whose campaign has raised nearly $2 million, could be the first Muslim-American governor in the United States. He is considered the most serious challenger to Democratic frontrunner Gretchen Whitmer ahead of the August primary. And on Monday, Bridge, a Michigan magazine, published an article saying the stint El-Sayed spent as a medical student and professor at Columbia University in New York between 2013 and 2016 could be used against him, writing that 'questions surrounding El-Sayed's candidacy are an open secret among Democrats, particularly in southeast Michigan.'" This is pure bollocks, since he never gave up his Michigan residence and has consistently voted there, but I can't help wondering where these "Democratic" heroes were when Dick Cheney illegally stood as George W. Bush's runningmate in 2000, even though they were both residents of the same state.

"Democratic Establishment Tries To Keep Progressives Off Congressional Ballots: Several grassroots and progressive congressional candidates are facing expensive lawsuits from the Democratic establishment, which is challenging their ballot petitions in hopes of clearing the primary field."

James Risen, "U.S. Secretly negotiated with Russians to buy stolen NSA documents — and the Russians offered Trump-related material, too: THE UNITED STATES intelligence community has been conducting a top-secret operation to recover stolen classified U.S. government documents from Russian operatives, according to sources familiar with the matter. The operation has also inadvertently yielded a cache of documents purporting to relate to Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Over the past year, American intelligence officials have opened a secret communications channel with the Russian operatives, who have been seeking to sell both Trump-related materials and documents stolen from the National Security Agency and obtained by Russian intelligence, according to people involved with the matter and other documentary evidence. The channel started developing in early 2017, when American and Russian intermediaries began meeting in Germany. Eventually, a Russian intermediary, apparently representing some elements of the Russian intelligence community, agreed to a deal to sell stolen NSA documents back to the U.S. while also seeking to include Trump-related materials in the package. The CIA declined to comment on the operation. The NSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment."

"Israeli police recommend indicting Netanyahu for corruption: report: Israeli police chiefs will recommend to the country's attorney general that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on corruption charges, according to reports in local media. The Times of Israel reported Wednesday that police chiefs, including the general commissioner of Israel's police force, were in 'unanimous agreement' that Netanyahu should be indicted for allegedly accepting bribes and receiving lavish gifts from wealthy benefactors, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan."

"California launches investigation following stunning admission by Aetna medical director: California's insurance commissioner has launched an investigation into Aetna after learning a former medical director for the insurer admitted under oath he never looked at patients' records when deciding whether to approve or deny care."

"After Annie Rice's Victory, Democrats Weigh Punishing Her Supporters: Last night, Annie Rice won a resounding victory, with nearly 60 percent of 8th ward voters choosing her to represent them on the city's Board of Aldermen. But later this month, the Democratic Central Committee will weigh a bylaw change directly aimed at punishing Rice's supporters. If members approve the proposed amendments, anyone who "supports or endorses" candidates like Rice "shall be subject to censure." Committee members who follow in Rice's footsteps and run for office without the party's blessing could face removal. The ugly situation says a lot about the mutinous mood — and old guard pushback — roiling the St. Louis Democratic Party these days. Progressives have taken aim at the Democratic establishment in recent years, winning some key victories (Bruce Franks Jr. for state rep) and coming tantalizingly close in others (Tishaura Jones for mayor). In St. Louis, it's no longer enough to ask whether someone is running as a Democrat; the real question is whether they're allied with the upstart progressive wing or the establishment one allied with the powers that be and the party's longstanding donors (developers, lawyers, lobbyists)."

"Home Depot destroys 1 million pounds of supplies in wake of hurricane: ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands — A trip along the winding mountain countryside in Saint Thomas reveals scenes that are not scattered across network news shows anymore. [...] The company crushed one million pounds worth of goods, according to Waste Management records obtained by Channel 2 Action News. They were sent to a local landfill and claimed on the company's insurance — rather than sorted for hurricane survivors."

FAIR, "US 'stumbled into torture,' says NYT reporter" — Apparently, the poor old bumbling US just accidentally stared torturing people.

Beat the Press, "Charles Lane and the Washington Post Continue Attack on Unions: Disturbed to Discover the Importance of Precedent in Court Decisions."

"Report: Recording Released Of Clinton Suggesting Rigging 2006 Palestinian Election: Chomsky was "taken aback" that 'anyone could support the idea — offered by a national political leader, no less — that the US should be in the business of fixing foreign elections.'"

"The Coming Republican State of Minnesota?" Everyone thinks of it as a blue state, but like so many other places, it's been hollowed out.

On The Majority Report:
* White American Youth w/ Christian Picciolini — how he got into a nasty race hate group, and how he got out of it.
* What the Democratic Establishment Demands w/ Ryan Grim

Atrios on bipartisan compromise: "I think it's a bit... out of date... but I at least get why members of Congress used to blather on about bipartisan this and bipartisan that. And, yes, of course sometimes compromise is necessary and it's nice if people can work together, though the outcome is the thing, not the process (This is the part our political press does not understand. It does not matter if TipnRonnie have beers, it matters what they do before and after). The scary thing is some senators really... believe it? They think they've been elected to form gangs and go the gym together or whatever. Strange people. I'm looking at you Claire McCaskill. Stop it."

Atrios on the Shutdown: "John Kelly is as big a racist xenophobe as Stephen Miller, if perhaps for different reasons, and you can't make a deal with bestest boy Donald about immigration (or anything) because they'll run interference and get him to "reconsider." The New York Times reporters spent all last night (in their shitty newspaper and on the twitters) blaming Democrats for the shutdown, because it's always their fault, so cancel your subscriptions. Please. I am so sick of this shitty newspaper destroying our politics. From Whitewater to Iraq to Clinton Cash to Emails to Maggie when will people learn. It is a bad newspaper. Local media is often horrible but at least they cover things that nobody else does so give your guilt money to them instead."

"Kept out: How banks block people of color from homeownership: PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Fifty years after the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in lending, African Americans and Latinos continue to be routinely denied conventional mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts. This modern-day redlining persisted in 61 metro areas even when controlling for applicants' income, loan amount and neighborhood, according to millions of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act records analyzed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting."

RIP: John Perry Barlow, Internet Pioneer, 1947-2018. Most of the obits I've seen so far concentrate on his life and work as a founder of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF), but we first heard of him as a songwriting collaborator with his friend Bob Weir. JPB introduced the Grateful Dead to Tim Leary back in the Millbrook days. He was still a charismatic guy when I met him in the '90s when Feminists Against Censorship was working with other groups concerned with internet censorship.

"The Butcher Builders: How Western Journalists Helped Create a Monster in Russia: The Soviet Union's collapse left Russia in disarray, but key figures in the administration of President Boris Yeltsin — namely deputy prime minister Yegor Gaidar and privatization chief Anatoly Chubais — had plans to transform the country's failing economy into a robust free market. This presented a unique business opportunity for western capitalists. The Clinton administration needed no convincing, eagerly sending economists from the Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID) under the direction of professor Andrei Shleifer to advise the Russian government in its transition. What ensued was 'shock therapy' — rapid deregulation, easing price controls, and privatization of state assets including social services, occurring in two waves: a voucher program and later the notorious 'loans-for-shares.' In the end, the effort failed. Shleifer, his wife, Nancy Zimmerman, and his colleague Jonathan Hay were embroiled in a scandal for using their position to personally enrich themselves, and had to settle with the U.S. government. Russia was left in ruins. The attempted transformation had left a small class of oligarchs (including Chubais) enriched, and had plunged the country into a deep depression that lasted from 1991 until the millennium (although its impact lasted well into the '00s). Large amounts of wealth exited the former Soviet Union, the ruble hyperinflated, pensions became worthless, job security disappeared, and GDP plummeted by orders of magnitude — by some estimates as much as 40 percent between '91 and '98. Organized crime was rampant, fueled by oligarchs, and street violence became commonplace. Adult mortality rose at a rate one study described as 'unprecedented in a modern industrialised country in peacetime.' By 2009, roughly 7 million Russians had died."

I have a problem with an assumption in this article that progressives (or whoever) who concentrate on economic issues (and particularly Bernie Sanders), are people who have "a class analysis and not a race analysis." I believe that if you start with a race analysis you will, like Dr. King and Malcom X, eventually come to see the economic analysis as vital. After all, most of us did start with a race analysis first, and that led to all the broader issues. (Hillary Clinton wasn't one of them. How could someone who claims to care about racial issues have thought ending "welfare as we know it" and militarizing the police, privatizing prisons, and creating harsher laws could do anything but exacerbate the already perilous position of the black community? Although, since structural racists have always understood the importance of preventing black Americans from having wealth and freedom, maybe she knew perfectly well — she was, after all, a Goldwater Girl while MLK was talking about class.) So this article has it backwards — that too many people haven't made the connection yet that you aren't going to get anywhere addressing race alone and overlooking class. But maybe having it spelled out this way will help them do that. "How Can Democrats Connect 'Identity Politics' to Economics?"

Ian Welsh, "How To Solve London's Housing Problems (And Canada's): So, two lovely facts about London's housing market. First:
Londoners spend 72% of their income on rent.
Second:
Overseas buyers snap up majority of exclusive London homes
These two facts are related.
This is a problem with an obvious solution, do not allow non residents to buy housing in your country. Do not allow housing to be empty more than 3 months a year. If it is, and renovations are not actively ongoing (physically check to see if it is), then tax them at punitive rates (30% of the property value or more) and if after a year it still isn't, simply expropriate it, with no compensation.
"

The Democrat from the Upside Down
(Via Down With Tyranny!, with "You're Not A Progressive Just Because You Mouth The Word 'Progressive'.")

This is a long read but I found it hard to stop reading: "Report: A precise look at Sanders vs Trump in 2016" — pretty compelling analysis of why it's most likely that Bernie would have won.

I think Ryan Cooper still gives too much credit here to neoliberals, but it's still a useful read. "Somewhere in Between: The rise and fall of Clintonism [...] In the context of postwar politics, the upper class accommodated itself to a truce in the class war, for about three decades. But when the system came under strain, the elites launched a renewed class war, leveraging stagflation to destroy and devour the welfare state. Clintonism could work in the early stages of that process, buoyed by the economic bubble of the 1990s. But when the inevitable disaster struck, it would become an anchor around the neck of the Democratic Party — and it remains one to this day."

"Democrats Can't Run and Win on the Fact That Trump's an Idiot: Voters Want an Alternative, Not Someone to Blame. [...] Polls show that the major reason eligible voters gave for not voting was that they were not interested in the issues being pushed in the campaigns or they disliked the candidates. And this makes sense, given that there's been a decades long campaign by the oligarchy to discredit government and glorify the private sector, using wedge issues, sophisticated marketing and branding strategies, and lots of money."

In The Nation, a consideration of the work of Lynne Segal (a founding member of Feminists Against Censorship), Feminist Living [...] "To hold fast to this version of feminism in the Trump era is a bit like clinging to a pile of dynamite in the middle of a forest fire. Yet it's the only feminism that some women have ever known, and it's no easy feat to convince them that the individual power a woman might amass through self-involvement and self-promotion — and almost inevitably at the expense of other, less advantaged women — is not synonymous with true liberation. Now 73, and having devoted nearly her entire adult life to prioritizing collective triumph over individual, Segal confronts a devastating possibility: 'Have we feminists wasted our time on politics?'"

"In 1990, a homeless man looked me in the eye and said, 'You aught to do a story about me.'
I asked him why.
'Because I've played in three Super Bowls.'
Now, finally, here's the entire story, 28 years in the making.

"The search for Jackie Wallace"

"Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read: ... and the movies and TV shows we watch"

Thanks as always to CMike and Mark for helping me out here. And helping me get through the winter, for that matter. And by the way, that last Laundry novel was seeming all too real when it was explained that agents of the Eldritch Horrors were responsible for the privatization of the Post Office.

Mason Williams, "Classical Gas"

05:21 GMT comment


Thursday, 01 February 2018

Now you know I'd try

Bernie Sanders responds to the State of the Union Address

"6 Senate Democrats put confirmation of Trump HHS nominee with fringe views over the top: Six Dems voted for an anti-choice candidate who once helped big pharma game patents for profit." Note that the vote was 55-43.
* But there is always worse to come. The other day Jonathan Cohn tweeted: Fun fact: Democrats actually had a majority in the Senate today. Three Republicans were absent, making the body 49-48. But don't worry -- Democrats still allowed Trump's nominees to sail through!"

"President Trump Slaps Tariffs on Solar Panels in Major Blow to Renewable Energy [...] The U.S. will impose duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made abroad, a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply. Just the mere threat of tariffs has shaken solar developers in recent months, with some hoarding panels and others stalling projects in anticipation of higher costs. The Solar Energy Industries Association has projected tens of thousands of job losses in a sector that employed 260,000. The tariffs are just the latest action Trump has taken that undermine the economics of renewable energy. The administration has already decided to pull the U.S. out of the international Paris climate agreement, rolled back Obama-era regulations on power plant-emissions and passed sweeping tax reforms that constrained financing for solar and wind. The import taxes, however, will prove to be the most targeted strike on the industry yet."

"Ex-Justice Dept. lawyer offered to sell secret U.S. whistleblower lawsuits to targets of the complaints: Jeffrey Wertkin had a plot to bring in business and impress his new partners after joining one of Washington's most influential law firms. As a former high-stakes corporate-fraud prosecutor with the Department of Justice, he had secretly stockpiled sealed lawsuits brought by whistleblowers. Now, he would sell copies of the suits to the very targets of the pending government investigations — and his services to defend them. Wertkin carried out his plan for months, right up until the day an FBI agent arrested him in a California hotel lobby."

"Satanic Temple Beats Missouri In Showdown Over Abortion Rights [...] JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — On Wednesday, Missouri's Solicitor General D. John Sauer declared ultrasounds are not required to obtain an abortion in Missouri, according to a press release from the Satanic Temple. The move comes after a showdown in the Missouri Supreme Court after a group called the Satanic Temple fought the state's abortion restrictions on behalf of an anonymous woman."

"NSA Deletes 'Honesty' And 'Openness' From Core Values [...] On January 12, however, the NSA removed the mission statement page — which can still be viewed through the Internet Archive — and replaced it with a new version. Now, the parts about honesty and the pledge to be truthful have been deleted. The agency's new top value is 'commitment to service,' which it says means 'excellence in the pursuit of our critical mission.'"

"Ned Lamont Jumps Into Connecticut Governor's Race: ed Lamont, the Greenwich millionaire who rose to national prominence when he defeated then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman in a 2006 Democratic primary, is entering the crowded contest to become Connecticut's next governor, his second bid for the office." This is a story I hope no one has forgotten, because leadership Dems tried hard to beat Lamont, but when he won anyway and became the Democratic nominee, they joined up with Republicans to make sure he lost.

Here's Howie Klein talking about how the Democratic leadership screws the Democratic Party and the country. Well, it's not called that, but that's what it's about — how Republicans beat us because the Democratic leadership is spending so many resources beating back progressives that they even recruit Republicans to help them do it. Honest to gods, it's a scandal.
* Howie also spoke to Nicole Sandler on the same subject. He's been writing about this, of course.

Lee Fang and Ryan Grim have been talking to Howie after watching the Democratic fifth column in action, and they have a detailed piece in The Intercept on just this phenomenon. "The Dead Enders: Candidates Who Signed Up to Battle Donald Trump Must Get Past the Democratic Party First. [...] In his farewell address, President Barack Obama had some practical advice for those frustrated by his successor. 'If you're disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself,' Obama implored. Yet across the country, the DCCC, its allied groups, or leaders within the Democratic Party are working hard against some of these new candidates for Congress, publicly backing their more established opponents, according to interviews with more than 50 candidates, party operatives, and members of Congress. Winning the support of Washington heavyweights, including the DCCC — implicit or explicit — is critical for endorsements back home and a boost to fundraising. In general, it can give a candidate a tremendous advantage over opponents in a Democratic primary." A fundamental component of the DCCC's losing strategy: "James Thompson, who lost a close special election in Kansas and is again running for the Wichita seat in 2018, said the DCCC is specific about why it wants candidates to raise money. 'They want you to spend a certain amount of money on consultants, and it's their list of consultants you have to choose from,' he said. Those consultants tend to be DCCC veterans. A memo the party committee sent to candidates in December lays out some of the demands the DCCC made around spending."

On The Majority Report:
* James Risen on his Battles w/ Bush, Obama, and the New York Times — MR Live — 1/24/18
* The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills w/ David Ansell — MR Live — 1/25/18

Bernie Sanders led a National Medicare for All National Town Hall, breaking the myths and giving the facts about single-payer systems.

Marcy Wheeler thinks Glenn Greenwald's take is different from her own, but she sees other problems with the Russia story, in All Glenn Greenwald's Women," where she notes that, "A big profile of Greenwald neglects to cite even one woman — thereby missing crucial nuance in the story of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election."

"Despite Liberalizing Marijuana Laws, the War on Drugs Still Targets People of Color: THE HUGE FAILURE we know as the 'war on drugs' is back in full force under the Trump administration, thanks in no small part to Attorney General Jeff Sessions's retrograde tough-on-crime approach to drugs. It's not hard to understand why someone like Sessions, with a history of racism, would love the war on drugs: In reality, it was always a war on a very particular set of people — and you can probably guess who those people are. And yet despite Sessions's best efforts, there's been a lot of progress on legalizing marijuana; opinions are changing and, in a lot of places, so are laws. At the intersection of these pushes to legalize weed and the so-called war on drugs, there are a bevy of major scandals unfolding, all of which are ravaging communities of color. And here's the thing about these scandals: They can't simply be blamed on President Donald Trump and his team. Instead, they're deeply rooted in a bipartisan type of anti-blackness."

Niko House is convinced that Bernie Sanders will run in 2020, and I wish he'd use a spell-checker, but I think most of what he says in "No, Bernie 2020 Will Not Be The Same As 2016" is on the mark. This is addressed to questions some of his crankier supporters have expressed about why he endorsed Clinton and made other noises they didn't like, and whether he should run as a third-party candidate. House doesn't address the age question (but with Biden throwing his hat in the ring, why should he?); however, "Bernie Sanders is not the perfect candidate. He is not the perfect human being. We may not even like all of his decisions. But there is no one else in his position that is speaking about universal healthcare at nationally televised town hall meetings. There is no one else telling the media that we need to get out of the middle east and stay out. There is no one else who speaks of ranked choice voting and election reform. And there is without a doubt no one else who has chained themselves to a Black woman in a valiant display of courage during the civil rights movement who is still preaching those same values today."

"A huge cache of Rumsfeld memos were just released — Here are the best ones." Scott Horton liked the one about how apparently James Carville "volunteered to help in the information war."

"Tronc Is Building A Shadow Newsroom Full Of Scabs, L.A. Times Staffers Fear: A mysterious new management team appears to be quietly building a non-union network."

"Racism May Have Gotten Us Into This Mess, But Identity Politics Can't Get Us Out [...] My ultimate quibble with Coates's piece is with its pessimism — the presumption that the union between rich and poor whites, forged in the heat of antebellum anti-black antipathy, is America's destiny as well as its past. Coates argues that admitting race, rather than class, was the proximate cause of Trump's electoral victory would mean that leftists 'would have to cope with the failure, yet again, of class unity in the face of racism.' But that presupposes that class unity was attempted by the Democratic Establishment in 2016. Tragically, it was not. Perhaps, if it had been, there would be no need to address the phenomenon of our 'first white president.' We'd be discussing our first female president instead."

"Biden Trashes Millennials in His Quest to Become Even Less Likable: 'Give me a break,' he said of young people who 'think they have it tough.'"

"Fascism: A False Revolution by Michael Parenti (1996)

JUST MARRIED; Capt. Daniel Hall and Capt. Vincent Franchino, Apache helicopter pilots, "on Jan. 13 in the Cadet Chapel at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., where they are believed to be the first active-duty, same-sex couple to exchange vows at the legendary Army post."

RIP: "Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88: Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like The Left Hand of Darkness and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88." She was our inspiration and our mentor and a lot of things. We owe her so much. And we loved her. Roz Kaveney wrote an obituary for TLS.

RIP: "Mort Walker, Creator of 'Beetle Bailey' Comic Strip, Dies at 94 [...] Mr. Walker had the longest tenure of any cartoonist on an original creation, King Features, which began its syndication of 'Beetle Bailey' in 1950, said in a statement. 'Little did I know when I was drafted that I was going to get almost four years of free research,' Mr. Walker recalled in his collection 'The Best of Beetle Bailey' (1984)."

RIP: Robert Parry, 68, after a series of strokes and pancreatic cancer. Parry, founder of Consortiumnews, covered the Iran-Contra scandal for AP and Newsweek and popularized the phrase "October Surprise" after discovering the roots of Iran-Contra went all the way back to the 1980 presidential campaign. Consortiumnews was a vital part of the liberal internet from its inception in 1995, and as longtime readers of The Sideshow may recall, got links here from the very beginning. He was an inspiration to us old-school bloggers.

Buffalo Springfield, "Expecting to fly"
Sometimes I can't believe how pretty this song is.

00:10 GMT comment


Tuesday, 23 January 2018

But it all amounts to nothing if together we don't stand

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, "The Same Democrats Who Denounce Donald Trump as a Lawless, Treasonous Authoritarian Just Voted to Give Him Vast Warrantless Spying Powers [...] LEADING THE CHARGE against reforms of the FBI's domestic spying powers was Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee who, in countless TV appearances, has strongly insinuated, if not outright stated, that Trump is controlled by and loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Indeed, just this weekend, in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Schiff accused Trump of corruptly abusing the powers of the DOJ and FBI in order to vindictively punish Hilary Clinton and other political enemies. Referring to Trump's various corrupt acts, Schiff pronounced: 'We ought to be thinking in Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, beyond these three years what damage may be done to the institutions of our democracy.' Yet just two days later, there was the very same Adam Schiff, on the House floor, dismissing the need for real safeguards on the ability of Trump's FBI to spy on Americans. In demanding rejection of the warrant requirement safeguard, Schiff channeled Dick Cheney — and the Trump White House — in warning that any warrant requirements would constitute 'a crippling requirement in national security and terrorism cases.'"

Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to Sam Seder about what was happening Friday in the government shut-down, on The Majority Report.

Dave Weigel talked to Sammy about the Wisconsin Election Surprise.

"New federal court order green lights Republican efforts to 'supercharge voter suppression': For the first time in 35 years, the RNC won't be under a consent decree." This basically means it's okay for them to do things that are illegal.

"Time's running out for Cuomo to call meaningful Senate special election: Editorial: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Jan. 3 State of the State address took about 92 minutes; his delivery at the Capitol was accompanied by a 374-page booklet. And yet, Cuomo whispered nary a word about calling a special election to fill the two Senate and nine Assembly seats now vacant." One of the weirder things hardly anyone ever seems to notice is that the New York legislature is controlled by Republicans. And it's thanks to Cuomo and "Democrats" like him that we have this situation. It's not a natural consequence of the desires of the citizens of the state of New York. The details of the current situation are... curious.

This is just weird. "Newsweek's headquarters just got a visit from the police: Cops came to the headquarters of Newsweek and IBT Media at 7 Hanover Square this morning." There's no clear explanation for why this happened. Cops took pictures of their servers. They seem to have been sent by the DA's office as part of an "investigation" but no one knows what they were investigating.

Alleen Brown at The Intercept, "Five Spills, Six Months In Operation: Dakota Access Track Record Highlights Unavoidable Reality — Pipelines Leak"

Haaretz, "How a U.S. Quaker Group That Won the Nobel Peace Prize Ended Up on Israel's BDS Blacklist: American Friends Service Committee was honored in 1947 for its work helping victims of the Nazis, but 70 years on has been declared an enemy of the Israeli state. Peace activists are baffled by the move, but critics say it is richly deserved."

Luke Barnes at Think Progress, "IRS paid private debt collectors $20 million to recoup $6.7 million from low-income Americans: Math does not appear to be their strong suit." But that's not an IRS decision, it's a higher-level policy decision about who the IRS chases. It used to be taken for granted that there was more to be gained by going after wealthy tax-evaders, who were usually holding out on lots of money. There are much bigger returns on going after a billionaire than there are on going after a slew of ordinary households that might have held out on less money than the audit costs to pursue. Going after rich people annoys rich people, so the Bush administration reversed this policy. I don't recall hearing anything about Obama reverting to the previous norm, so now it's an ongoing waste of money and time — or at least, it is if you think the IRS is about collecting money to be used for the running of the federal government and its services. But it isn't. A policy of harassing the hoi polloi while letting the wealthy skate on much larger infractions is a values judgment, not a fiscal calculus. It tells you straight up that taxation isn't about paying for the government.

I'd never heard of Aflac until now, but David Dayen says it turns out to be one big, nasty pyramid scheme.

Black Agenda Report, "Donkey In A Hole: Don't Expect Democrats To Change Much in 2018 [...] And given the corporate media coverage of Trump and 'the Donalds' low popularity ratings, relegating Trump to a one-term Presidency should be a relatively easy task. However, few signs show that the Democratic Party can complete the task in a period marked by instability and crisis. Polls indicate Trump maintains a slightly higher approval rating than the entire Democratic Party. That's because the Democratic Party spent eight years under Obama waging an assault on workers and poor people in the US, especially its most loyal base of support in Black America. Black American wealth plummeted , and poverty increased exponentially under the first Black President. War, austerity, and police-state politics defined the Obama era."

CMike provides a link to a story from November, "19 more Colorado cities and counties vote in favor of city-owned internet, while Fort Collins approves $150 million to move forward: The 19 join nearly 100 others that have gained the right to explore whether municipal broadband is feasible. Voters in Vail, Louisville and 17 other Colorado cities and counties Tuesday voted to take internet service into their own hands in a move that could lead to providing citizens an alternative to the entrenched cable internet provider. Fort Collins voters, who voted to do so two years ago, passed a measure to finance exploration of a city-owned broadband utility. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which has tracked broadband votes for years, the 19 cities and counties join about 100 others in the state that previously opted out of Senate Bill 152. That bill, passed in 2005, restricts local governments from using taxpayer dollars to build their own broadband networks. 'These cities and counties recognize that they cannot count on Comcast and CenturyLink alone to meet local needs, which is why you see overwhelming support even in an off-year election,' Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said in a statement. Passage, however, doesn't mean cities and counties will start offering their own broadband internet service. In 2005, cable and internet providers campaigned to stop cities from offering internet service. At the time, Steve Davis, an executive at Qwest, which is now CenturyLink, told The Rocky Mountain News, 'I think it's inappropriate for public tax dollars to be invested in competitive businesses. At minimum, taxpayers should have the opportunity (to vote on the matter).'"

"The 'Capitalized Womb': A Review of Ned and Constance Sublette's The American Slave Coast"

I wish I could make everyone watch this 6:29 video on The Basics of Modern Money.

This is from FiveThirtyEight last January but it's worth paying attention to, because white racists don't usually make much noise (or make much headway when they do) if most people are getting reasonable rewards for their work and seeing a decent future for themselves and their families ahead. They don't piss and moan and wave torches around if black and other funny-colored people are doing well if they are also doing well. But even if you have a reasonably secure situation yourself, you feel economic anxiety when you look around and see a lot of foreclosed houses in your area, a lot of shops that seem to be permanently closed, know a number of people who've been foreclosed on and lost their homes, and your kid — who is better educated than you were — sees only joining the military to fight endless wars as a career option (and many of your friends have lost kids in our military adventures already, or have kids returned to civilian life to languish in their parents' homes with physical injuries and severe emotional problems), that's a whole other thing. Maybe you've even already seen your best friends grieving because their grandchild came back from deployment in a box, and you know that in an earlier time, that kid would have gone to college (maybe even for free) and gotten a good job that didn't put them in harm's way. You don't have to be conscious of even knowing this, just know that this isn't how it used to be, this isn't how it was supposed to be. And you'd be right, because an evil change has come over America. And you can claim all you want that it's the Republicans and their official policies that created this disaster, but when some of the worst excesses were directly caused by Carter, Clinton, and Obama, you might not be crazy to blame the Democrats, whose rhetoric you'd swear means they have something against white men just for being white men and they only want to help poor black women. You don't realize that they don't help poor black women, because what you hear is that that's who they want to help and they for sure don't want to help you. (Meanwhile, you should hear how a lot of black military guys who would never ever vote for a Republican talk about how badly the military was treated under Obama.) "Stop Saying Trump's Win Had Nothing To Do With Economics." Oh, and one more thing: Clinton may have won the lower economic strata, but she also won up at the top, too.

Barbara O'Brien has also been writing about this, in "Democrats: Big Tent, Yes, but With Parameters [...] I'm arguing that in many parts of the country that voted for Trump, the economic anxiety fuels racism and keeps it as alive as if the past 50 years hadn't happened. Otherwise, a lot of it might have dissipated by now."

"Garbage collectors open library with abandoned books: A library in Ankara gives new meaning to the notion that books are timeless. Garbage collectors in the Turkish capital have opened a public library comprised entirely of books once destined for the landfills."

* * * * *

Chart: "Life Expectancy vs. Health Expenditure Over Time (1970-2014)"

"Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally"

"The U.S. Spends More Public Money on Healthcare Than Sweden or Canada"

Health System Tracker

Top Senate recipients of donations from pharmaceutical manufacturers

* * * * *

Paul Street reviews Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, "Obama: a Hollow Man Filled With Ruling Class Ideas [...] The irony here is that one can consult Rising Star to determine the basic underlying accuracy of Reed's acerbic description. My foremost revelation from Rising Star is that Obama was fully formed as a fake-progressive neoliberal-capitalist actor well before he ever received his first big money campaign contribution. He's headed down the same ideological path as the Clintons even before Bill Clinton walks into the Oval Office. Obama's years in the corporate-funded foundation world, the great ruling and professional class finishing schools Columbia University Harvard Law, and the great neoliberal University of Chicago's elite Law School were more than sufficient to mint him as a brilliant if 'vacuous to repressive neoliberal.'".

"ON STAGE IN LONDON, THE TWILIGHT ZONE SHINES IN ALL ITS JEWISH GLORY"

A friend of mine started a blog and he's begun with telling a little story about having stumbled on an interesting little genealogical tidbit, with "The Death of William Van Meter — Part One" and Part Two.

SOLIDARITY: Yes, it really happened, although it had faded into legend for 20 years. In 1984, a small group of gay activists decided to support the families of striking coal miners and struck up a relationship with a mining community in Wales, much to the surprise of everyone. Many credit that relationship with the ultimate passage of gay rights in the United Kingdom. I urge you to google and find out more, and to see the whole 2014 docudrama about these people, but just the ending is enough to make many people cry: Pride. (Dominic West does a lovely job of playing Jonathan Blake, by the way. Blake talks about it all here.) For more to the story, here's a good interview that provides another poignant moment and a coda to the short life and magnificent project of Mark Ashton.

03:36 GMT comment


Saturday, 06 January 2018

Epiphany

I seem to have fallen down on posting through December, which means I was mostly a wimp as far as my war against Bill O'Reilly's War on Christmas is concerned. Except that my Second Life avatar put up two different Christmas trees this year. But Christmas isn't officially over yet, so here are the traditional Christmas links:
* Mark Evanier's wonderful Mel Tormé story, and here's the man himself in duet with Judy Garland.
* Joshua Held's Christmas card, with a little help from Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters.
* Brian Brink's virtuoso performance of "The Carol of the Bells"
* "Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime."
* Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol

For many it is the Epiphany, and for others the final day of Christmas, also known as Twelfthnight. But it's Christmas for the Russian Orthodoxed Christians and for Armenians. My parents would have been in church today, singing "Loor Keeshair", a tune you know.

* * * * *

Thomas B. Edsall in The New York Times, "You Cannot Be Too Cynical About the Republican Tax Bill." Nice to see Sirota et al. getting credit for the work they've done on this issue, like this scoop, "Republican Senators Will Save Millions With Special Real-Estate Tax Break."

But Dean Baker says there are some silver linings in this cloud in "The Trump Tax Cuts' Secret Santa. No one should have any doubt about the main impact of the Republican tax cuts. These tax cuts are about giving more money to the richest people in the country. After four decades of the largest upward redistribution in the history of the world, the Republican tax cuts give even more money to the big winners. In TrumpWorld, that makes sense. Instead of spending money to rebuild our infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide quality child care or affordable college, we're going to hand more money to Donald Trump and his family and friends. However, even in the cesspool known as the 'Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,' there are some changes for the better. These are worth noting and expanding upon when saner creatures gain power." I'm sure not going to complain that they doubled the standard deduction. There are also a few other surprises that are such a good idea you wonder how they got there.

Matt Bruenig, "What actually happened in Alabama? [...] But if you actually look at the exit polling, it is pretty clear that the real story of Jones's victory was not inordinate black turnout but rather inordinate white support for the Democratic candidate." Because black turnout and support for the Dem was not much different than in many races where the Dem lost. But whites voted for the Democrat enough to make up for the usual deficit — and it's a big one. "The white share of the electorate is virtually unchanged, but white support for the Democrat changes dramatically, rising all the way to 30 percent in the Jones-Moore election. This white swing towards the Democratic candidate is basically solely responsible for the fact that Jones won rather than losing by over 20 points, which is the typical outcome of a statewide Alabama election that features this level of black turnout."

Lead editorial in Haaretz, "Endless Detention: Israeli jurists and academics should speak out against the military courts' free hand with administrative detention orders, which allow Palestinians to be held without trial and can be renewed indefinitely. Last week the detention without trial of Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar was extended by an additional six months. In July, a year after serving 14 months in prison — she had been convicted of incitement and of membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — she was rearrested and placed under administrative detention for six months. [...] But there is room to ask the law schools, the Israel Bar Association, judges and even historians and sociologists to intervene. They must make themselves heard and remind Israeli society that denying a person's freedom without evidence and without a right to defense is one of the characteristics of dictatorships. Only if the voices of these professionals and social figures are heard will generals and military judges stop signing unlimited detention orders so easily."

"J20 Defendants Cleared of Charges in Trump Inauguration Arrests: Six people arrested during protests on Donald Trump's inauguration day and charged with rioting and destruction of property were acquitted Thursday, a good sign for the more 150 other so-called J20 protesters awaiting trial. The verdict, delivered by a D.C. Superior Court jury, followed a four-week trial that saw prosecutors attempt to pin blame for $100,000 worth of property damage on the six protestors. Though they admitted there's no evidence linking the defendants to the property damage, the Justice Department lawyers argued that they were part of the so-called riot anyway."

"Americans Support Expanding Social Security But The GOP is Still Trying To Cut It: Largely unreported in the negativity of this year's election is how united the American people are over Social Security. New data from Public Policy Polling confirms what multiple other polls have found: Irrespective of age, race, gender, or party affiliation, Americans support expanding, not cutting, Social Security. [...] In the real America, grandparents and grandchildren care about each other. American families know that we are stronger together. And the new polling shows that. It reveals that the effort to turn grandparents and grandchildren against each other has failed: 70 percent of 18-29 year olds, 65 percent of 30-45 year olds, 76 percent of 46-65 year olds, and 70 percent of Americans over 65 all support expanding, not cutting, Social Security. The story is very similar when it comes to race: 69 percent of whites, 82 percent of African-Americans, and 79 percent of Latinos are united in support of expansion. Party affiliation, too, makes little difference. The Republican Party has spent decades working to cut and privatize Social Security, but the Party's base disagrees: the majority of Republicans support expanding benefits, as do 87 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Independents."

"Amazon is killing your mailman: Why its Sunday service is a labor travesty: The online retailer's newest service has created an underclass of postal workers. I should know — I'm one of them [...] With the USPS being financially burdened by congressionally mandated pre-funding for retiree healthcare packages (paying 80 plus years in advance at 100% compensation — a burden no private company has had to nor could endure), it has looked to find different avenues to help increase its profitability and fight to stay viable in this 'age of digital mail.' To help combat this huge economic disadvantage — along with the decrease in first-class mail volumes — the USPS management has attempted to implement many different approaches to their problem. They've tried ending Saturday delivery, contemplated neighborhood cluster boxes, which would oust door-to-door delivery, and of course, there's the tried and true elimination of positions, which the USPS has been engaged in since the unprecedented 2006 pre-funding mandate was established. Their latest solution is a relatively new business concept called the negotiated service agreement or NSA."

"Newly-Declassified Documents Show Western Leaders Promised Gorbachev that NATO Would Not Move 'One Inch Closer' to Russia."

Meanwhile, even The Washington Post admits, "There's still little evidence that Russia's 2016 social media efforts did much of anything [...] All of that, though, requires setting aside what we actually know about the Russian activity on Facebook and Twitter: It was often modest, heavily dissociated from the campaign itself and minute in the context of election social media efforts." It was also badly targeted and didn't quite seem to have much of a grasp of what might actually work. For example, who, among Clinton's likely voters, was going to believe, let alone change their vote, over the (laughably false) claim that HRC was "soft" on Iran? Even the Republicans noticed there was something very odd about spending more in Maryland and DC than in any of the swing states Clinton lost. $300 was spent in Pennsylvania? Um, not a lot. And most of this was spent... during the primaries. "Facebook's own public numbers hint at how the ads were weighted relative to the campaign. Ten million people saw ads run by the Russian agents — but 5.6 million of those views were after the election."

"Price of 40-year-old cancer drug hiked 1,400% by new owners: Prices for a cancer drug called lomustine have skyrocketed nearly 1,400 percent since 2013, putting a potentially life-saving treatment out of reach for patients suffering from brain tumors and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Though the 40-year-old medication is no longer protected by patents, no generic version is available."

David Dayen in The American Prospect, "Big Tech: The New Predatory Capitalism: The tech giants are menacing democracy, privacy, and competition. Can they be housebroken? [...] 'What has the greatest collection of humanity and IQ and financial capital been brought together to accomplish?' Galloway asked the crowd. 'To save world hunger? To create greater comity of man? I don't think so. ... Their singular mission, simply put, it's to sell another fucking Nissan.' [...] After an unconscionable period of naive neglect, in which the public was dazzled by tech wizardry, Americans of all stripes have recognized that allowing Silicon Valley to take this much control was dangerous. Polls show the public still likes tech platforms but doesn't trust them. Conservatives think Big Tech stifles their voices; liberals think Big Tech hobbled our competitive economy; both think they've abused power, and both are right. Politics has grown interested in monopolies, and particularly tech monopolies, for the first time in decades."

When the Clintonites aren't busy attacking Bernie, they are busy hating Jill Stein, and now it looks like she's been roped in. "The Senate's Russia Investigation Is Now Looking Into Jill Stein: The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Green Party candidate Jill Stein's campaign to turn over documents, which Stein is expected to release publicly in the future. Committee chair Richard Burr said investigators are looking into two general election campaigns in addition to the Trump campaign." There's a photograph of Stein sitting at the same table with Putin at an RT dinner, thus "proving" that she was colluding with Putin. Stein says she had hoped to talk to him about her agenda — climate change etc. — but never got the chance to talk to him at all. Jeremy Scahill interviewed Stein on the subject.

James Cardin in The Nation, "Russiagate Is Devolving Into an Effort to Stigmatize Dissent: An amicus brief to a lawsuit filed against Roger Stone and the Trump campaign raises troubling questions over the right to political speech. [...] Much of this has been said before. But where the briefers branch off into new territory is in their attempt to characterize journalism and political speech with which they disagree as acts of subversion on behalf of a foreign power. [...] In other words, a Russian 'cut out' (or fifth columnist) can be defined as those 'activists, academics, journalists, [or] web operators' who dissent from the shared ideology of the 14 signatories of the amicus brief."

"Vacant Units, San Francisco 2015" — "2012 ACS data indicates there are 30,057 vacant homes in San Francisco. A common residents per unit calculation is 2.8 persons, meaning that the city of San Francisco has empty homes capable of housing more than 84,000 more people than it does. [...] According to a 2013 comprehensive report on homelessness by the city of San Francisco, one of the wealthiest cities in the richest nation in the world, contains 6,636 homeless adults and 914 homeless children and transition-age youth, totaling 7,550 homeless persons. The Vacant Homes in San Francisco map yields another irony: two of the districts with the densest numbers of homeless persons also contain the most vacant homes. According to the homelessness report, census tract 6, which includes most of the Tenderloin and SOMA neighborhoods, contains over 3,000 homeless persons, as well as the highest density of vacant homes." One of the more interesting maps I've seen in a while.

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest, "Postal Workers And The Public Want A Postal Banking Public Option [...] Until 1967, the Postal Service (then called the Post Office) operated postal banking through the United States Postal Savings System. Reviving postal banking would be like offering a 'public option' for financial services. It would let people have accounts they could use to cash checks, get small loans, pay bills and even get prepaid debit cards. These services would enable lower-income Americans to avoid the exploitative 'payday lenders' and check-cashing 'services' that eat up working people's earnings."

Cornel West says, "Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle: The disagreement between Coates and me is clear: his view of black America is narrow and dangerously misleading." He's not wrong, but at The Intercept, Naomi Klein and Opal Tometi say, "Forget Coates vs. West — We All Have a Duty to Confront the Full Reach of U.S. Empire."

"Sessions rescinds Obama-era letter to local courts on fines and fees for poor defendants: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding an Obama-era letter to local courts advising them to be wary of imposing stiff fees and penalties on poor defendants, The Washington Post reports. The move comes as Sessions revokes more than two dozen Justice Department guidance documents going back to the 1990s on various topics, the Post reports."

The War on People Who Aren't the Establishment continues with NPR (Nice Polite Republicans) attacking Lee Camp personally. Why? Because he's on RT America, so he must be a Russian stooge. Mr. Camp responds..

A great response to yet another claim that rich people create jobs, over at Stone Kettle Mountain, making Lemonade: "Every time old rich white men bring up the idea of trickle-down economics, or whatever they call this scam nowadays, the one question that never gets asked is this: Why? Why would rich people create jobs? Why? Why would rich people take their billions and create jobs? Because they're what? Feeling generous all of a sudden? Why? Take the Walton family, their wealth is nearly unimaginable. The amount they'll reap from this tax cut is astronomical. But they already can't spend what they have, even if they live another thousand years. And they don't spend their personal fortune on building new Walmarts anyway, that's what investors are for. And if they did, well, there's nothing stopping them from doing so now, without a tax cut, they've got plenty of money. But they don't. Why? They could use their personal fortune to improve the lot of their employees, but they don't. They could use their fortune to give their employees a living wage, healthcare, benefits, overtime. But they don't. Why? Why should they? What's in it for them? What's the incentive? Altruism? Ha ha! Hilarious. Giving rich people more money just gives rich people more money." The author does not seem to know that the government still has all the money it needs to pay for schools and roads and health care and anything else we need, but on the question of why the rich would create jobs just because we give them more money — well, that's a question that should be asked any time someone suggests that giving them more money would do anything to create jobs.

Susan McWilliams in The Nation, "This Political Theorist Predicted the Rise of Trumpism. His Name Was Hunter S. Thompson [...] What made that outcome almost certain, Thompson thought, was the obliviousness of Berkeley, California, types who, from the safety of their cocktail parties, imagined that they understood and represented the downtrodden. The Berkeley types, Thompson thought, were not going to realize how presumptuous they had been until the downtrodden broke into one of those cocktail parties and embarked on a campaign of rape, pillage, and slaughter. For Thompson, the Angels weren't important because they heralded a new movement of cultural hedonism, but because they were the advance guard for a new kind of right-wing politics. As Thompson presciently wrote in the Nation piece he later expanded on in Hell's Angels, that kind of politics is 'nearly impossible to deal with' using reason or empathy or awareness-raising or any of the other favorite tools of the left."

Last year, Adolph Reed made "The Case Against Reparations: Randall Robinson's argument for pursuit of reparations hinges on this view of the black American population — lucky petit bourgeois people like himself excepted, of course — as defective and in need of moral and psychological repair. The idea resonates with middle class noblesse oblige and a commitment to a racial politics that ensconces a particular guiding role for upper class blacks. Those are, after all, the people who can conduct the finely calibrated analyses that determine what forms and magnitude just compensation should take; they are the people who would stand to administer whatever compromise palliatives are likely to ensue from this activity. But the question of compensation opens a plethora of technical problems. Should payments go to individuals or to some presumably representative corporate entity? If the former, who qualifies as a recipient? Would descendants of people who had been enslaved elsewhere (for instance, Brazil or the Caribbean) be eligible? And what of those no longer legally black people with slave ancestors?" Michael Brooks interviewed Reed about this and other things on The Michael Brooks Show.

Sam Seder did another great interview with David Dayen, about the tax bill and other things, on The Majority Report.

Sammy also did an interesting interview on The Battle for Veterans' Healthcare w/ Suzanne Gordon — illuminating info about America's best health care system — and one that provides data and develops treatments the whole world uses.

ProMarkets tweeted out their hits of the year in a thread that promises some interesting reading, here. I thought this title sounded particularly promising: "The Rise of Market Power and the Decline of Labor's Share: A new paper argues that the decline of the labor and capital shares, as well as the decline in low-skilled wages and other economic trends, have been aided by a significant increase in markups and market power." (Also fascinated by Posner's slow move toward the reality. If he could live long enough, he might be full-on lefty by the time he finished his evolution from the far-right.)

Bernie Sanders, fashion icon, got a gift from his son for Christmas, a parka from a Vermont company. He wore it in the rain to an event (at which other politicians appeared in coats that cost thousands of dollars), but Newsweek spun as "Socialist Bernie Sanders Wears a $700 Jacket While Complaining About Rich People" — picked up straight from the right-wing DailyWire story. (They appear to have only three pictures of Bernie, I see.)

And oh, yeah, California decriminalized recreational marijuana.

RIP: "Erica Garner, Black Lives Matter activist, dies aged 27: Daughter of Eric Garner was in hospital for a week after a heart attack."

RIP: "Rose Marie, actress and showbiz legend, dies at 94." She sang for three presidents (two of whom were dead before I was born, and frankly, I was surprised to learn that Coolidge was still alive in my lifetime), but we all loved Sally Rogers on Dick van Dyke. One day I was watching an old movie and saw her original child star incarnation as Baby Rose Marie. Mark Evanier, of course, has a nice obituary for her, but he's written a lot about her in the past, too (some of it probably still linked on this page). "Like a lot of you, I first became aware of Rose from her appearances on The Dick Van Dyke Show. She was great on that program — and while no one thought this way at the time, that was an important role in the history of on-screen females. She wasn't there to play somebody's wife or somebody's mother or somebody's girl friend. She was a full-fledged working woman with a career and an income and a job that was equivalent to a man's. I mean, you just know Sally Rogers got the same money as Buddy Sorrell. Name me another character on TV before her who got equal pay as a guy — or as many good lines. She scored with every one of them."

RIP: This is embarrassing, but I completely missed somehow that Kate Millett died last September at 82, from a heart attack,

"NORAD's Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport"

"Top 17 Earth From Space Images of 2017 in 4K"

Every time I go back to show someone this video, I find another one. There were really quite a lot of them that I didn't even know about. In some ways it's heartening to see how much creativity they inspired. Wish someone had put them all on TV. Which just proves that "the left" is still good at this, it's just that it's not allowed on TV anymore.

14:33 GMT comment


Monday, 18 December 2017

Somebeody's tuggin' at your heartstrings

Bill Moyers says Farewell: "BillMoyers.com will continue to serve as the archive of the television journalism my colleagues and I have produced over the past 44 years. I hope you find it useful. The site will go into archive mode on Wednesday, Dec. 20."

Stiglitz in the Guardian, "Globalisation: time to look at historic mistakes to plot the future: Trade deals were hammered out in secret by multinationals at the expense of workers and citizens. Benefits must be shared if the global economy is to work. [...] To someone like me, who has watched trade negotiations closely for more than a quarter-century, it is clear that US trade negotiators got most of what they wanted. The problem was with what they wanted. Their agenda was set, behind closed doors, by corporations. It was an agenda written by, and for, large multinational companies, at the expense of workers and ordinary citizens everywhere."

Top Pennsylvania Republicans Are Fighting Like Hell To Keep Gerrymandering Secret: Two court cases could reveal how the GOP took over the state's congressional delegation. Two of Pennsylvania's top Republicans are fighting hard to conceal information about how Republicans drew the state's 2011 congressional redistricting plan, now the subject of lawsuits in both state and federal court. At stake is the public's chance to see how Pennsylvania lawmakers in 2011 used technology and detailed voter information to reset the state's electoral map. The voters bringing these cases argue that the districts were deliberately drawn to secure Republicans' domination of the state's congressional delegation and that the process violated the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions."

Matthew Cole and Jeremy Scahill in The Intercept, "Trump White House Weighing Plans for Private Spies to Counter 'Deep State' Enemies: The Trump administration is considering a set of proposals developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer — with assistance from Oliver North, a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal — to provide CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals. The sources say the plans have been pitched to the White House as a means of countering 'deep state' enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Donald Trump's presidency. The creation of such a program raises the possibility that the effort would be used to create an intelligence apparatus to justify the Trump administration's political agenda. "

On The Majority Report, Social Reproduction Theory w/ Tithi Bhattacharya.

Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, "A Police Killing Without a Hint of Racism: Daniel Shaver begged officers not to shoot him. What role will his death play in the push for law-enforcement reforms?" Nothing seems to be able to stop this train. " Even if Black Lives Matter critics were right that police killings in America are not racially suspect, that would not be a sufficient argument against police reforms. It would still remain the case that American police officers kill many more people overall — and many more unarmed and mentally ill people in particular — than do police officers in other democratic countries. Why isn't that enough to warrant serious, systemic reform?" The video hadn't been released at the time the article was written, but if you have the stomach for it, it's here.

"JUST IN: Alabama to Jail Hundreds of Voters for Switching Parties: Alabama just slapped its citizens with nasty news concerning voter fraud. The Republican Secretary of State John Merrill has officially threatened to jail up to 674 Alabamans who he believes committed voter fraud by switching parties for the September 26th run-off election. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) signed a law in May 2017 prohibiting the act of 'crossover voting.' Crossover voting occurs when voters switch their minds to vote for a candidate who isn't affiliated with their party. Merrill wants to slap all 674 'crossover voters' with the maximum prison sentence of 5 years and a $15,000 fine." They couldn't find any voter fraud so they made their own!

Details of exit poll results on the vote on Roy Moore v. Doug Jones for the Alabama Senate.

"Why Aren't More Democrats Using Anti-Monopoly Arguments In Their Congressional Campaigns?" — featuring a great speech by Senator Warren on the dangers of monopoly and concentration, the history of anti-trust success, and how it literally got Borked..

Tess Townsend, "Can Silicon Valley's Pro-Antitrust Congressman Navigate His Monopoly-Friendly District? [...] So far, Khanna doesn't seem particularly concerned that his comments will offend his constituents. On the antitrust issue that might be the most pressing to Silicon Valley in particular — the AT&T-Time Warner merger, opposition to which observers like investor Mark Cuban say could be turned on Facebook and Google — Khanna has been outspoken: 'Every American should be concerned that a few major corporations control the flow of news and information,' he tweeted in November. 'The AT&T-Time Warner deal must be rejected.' But he said that blocking it shouldn't cause concern for tech companies. 'You cannot compare telecom companies that control access to the internet with those that provide a platform [or] content,' the Democrat told Select All last month."

Pushback from Zephyr Teachout on Al Franken being pushed out of the Senate, "I'm Not Convinced Franken Should Quit: I care passionately about #MeToo. Women are routinely demeaned, dismissed, discouraged and assaulted. Too many women's careers are stymied or ended because of harassment and abuse. In politics, where I have worked much of my adult life, this behavior is rampant. I also believe in zero tolerance. And yet, a lot of women I know — myself included — were left with a sense that something went wrong last week with the effective ouster of Al Franken from the United States Senate. He resigned after a groundswell of his own Democratic colleagues called for him to step down. Zero tolerance should go hand in hand with two other things: due process and proportionality. As citizens, we need a way to make sense of accusations that does not depend only on what we read or see in the news or on social media."

An editor at The Houston Chronicle wrote this remarkable editorial in response to the GOP's tax bill, recommending an alternative plan of his own: "Mintz: A modest tax proposal: End payroll taxes, hire IRS goons and bring back the guillotine [...] Taxes are even more complicated. There are seven different brackets. Under my plan, we'll cut this down to size and replace the whole thing with just one, single easy bracket. All income over $200,000 will be taxed at 95 percent." And replace the estate tax with the guillotine. I like it!

"DNC Unity Commission Agrees On Slate Of Historic Reforms: The Democratic Party comes one step closer to healing the wounds of the 2016 primary."

"Prophecies and politics: How US evangelical Christians pushed for Jerusalem move: Religious conservative groups have lobbied for policy relocating US embassy to Jerusalem from biblical standpoint. [...] President Donald Trump went against the advice of allies and warnings of foes and announced on Wednesday plans to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The US religious right was a driving force behind the move, which left Washington isolated on the world stage, analysts say." Yes, that's right, they want to speed the way to the apocalypse and this is a first step. Israeli leadership is becoming even more belligerent and fascist in the wake of Trump's decision.

Gaius Publius: "Deficit Talk Is a Trap. Will Democrats Fall Into It? A budget surplus on the government side is a budget deficit on the economy's side. — A fact you'll rarely hear spoken on big-donor-owned media. [...] As they did in the 1980s, Republicans are laying a 'deficit trap' for Democrats. As they did before, they're blowing up the budget, then using deficit scares to force Democrats to 'be responsible' about cutting social programs — 'because deficits matter.'"

"There is No Debt to Have a Ceiling: The debt ceiling debate looms once again as Congress paints itself into a familiar corner; feigning horror at the big scary number that records all outstanding government bonds while simultaneously expressing the gravest of concern that a default would be unthinkable, precipitating a global economic catastrophe. Default would, in fact, be an unconscionable act of irresponsibility, because financial default is not possible for the U.S. government unless our politicians foolishly choose to default for no reason. Why? The simple answer is that we issue our own sovereign currency and, as such, we can always afford to make any payment that is due in US dollars. We left the gold standard and global fixed exchange rate system a long time ago — it's time we updated our thinking.
•We have no debt in other nations' currencies.
•We make no promises to convert our currency to other currencies.
•We allow our currency to float in exchange.
•Our central bank, not financial markets, decides how much interest bond holders will receive.

"There Are No Real Republican 'Deficit Hawks.' Here's Why. Strategy: Republicans Create Deficits, Stoke Deficit Fear, Then Campaign Against Government Spending. Here's the thing. There are no real Republican 'deficit hawks.' Republicans stoke deficit fear, and then say they are opposed to budget deficits. But they always, always increase deficits. On purpose. There's a reason."

Jonathan Cohn, "These 27 Democrats Voted to Side with Predatory Billionaires over Low-Income Homeowners: While Senate Republicans worked on finalizing their Christmas gift to the 1 percent, House Republicans took their own steps to reward predatory billionaires. The House today took up the deceptively titled Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act, which, contrary to its title, does nothing to preserve access to manufactured housing ('mobile homes'). So what does the bill actually do? First, it changes the definition of a 'mortgage originator' so that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule on marketing and documenting consumer financial transactions wouldn't apply to mobile home retailers offering credit to borrowers. And second, it would increase the thresholds for specific rates and fees that trigger Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) protections. This would have exempted more than half of mobile home loans in 2013, according to Consumer Bureau data. In short, it removes vital protections for low-income homeowners to encourage predatory practices by the rich. And one of the biggest culprits is the Warren Buffett, who, contrary to what some Democratic elites like to say, is not your billionaire friend. He's just as predatory as his peers. [...] Maxine Waters hammered this point further in a passionate floor speech: 'This bill makes it easier for financial titans like billionaire Warren Buffett to earn even more profits, at the expense of the most vulnerable consumers in this country.'"

Lee Fang and Nick Surgey, "Koch Brothers' Internal Strategy Memo on Selling Tax Cuts: Ignore The Deficit: The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch spent much of the eight years of the Obama presidency stoking fears about the budget deficit. Their political network aired an unending cascade of campaign advertisements against Democratic politicians, sponsored several national bus tours, and paid organizers in communities across the country to mobilize public demonstrations, all focused on the dangers of increasing the deficit. One such ad even warned that government debt would lead to a Chinese takeover of America — which, for many voters, is a concern linked to debt. Another effort, also quietly bankrolled by the Koch network, used Justin Bieber memes to try to reach millennials about too much government borrowing. Now that Republicans control all levers of power in Washington and the Koch brothers are poised to reap a windfall of billions of dollars through tax cuts, they have a new message: Don't worry about the deficit."

David Dayen, "Trump'S Acting Directors Are Quietly Dropping 'Acting' From Their Titles: THE FIGHT OVER the leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is assumed to be about President Donald Trump's intent to deregulate finance. But it's also part of a larger fight about separation of powers and the expanding authority of the executive, made clear by the Trump administration's use, and abuse, of the law the president relied on to attempt to install Mick Mulvaney as acting director. Trump doesn't just want to undermine consumer financial protection with Mulvaney; he wants to end-run the Senate and install unaccountable loyalists throughout the government by executive fiat. Across the government, acting directors who were installed without Senate approval are quietly dropping the 'acting' title from their name, suggesting they have every intention of overstaying their legal welcome."

"Proposed rule would protect employers who steal workers' hard-earned tips: Today the Trump administration took their first major step towards allowing employers to legally take tips earned by the workers they employ. The Department of Labor released a proposed rule rescinding portions of its tip regulations, including current restrictions on 'tip pooling — which would mean that, for example, restaurants would be able to pool the tips servers receive and share them with untipped employees such as cooks and dishwashers. But, crucially, the rule doesn't actually require that employers distribute pooled tips to workers. Under the administration's proposed rule, as long as the tipped workers earn minimum wage, the employer can legally pocket those tips."

"Philadelphia write-in candidate: I won with one vote." Not "by one vote" — with only one vote. "They say that one vote doesn't matter, but I literally wrote in my own name and won an election because I guess no-one else ran/voted for this position."

Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics "Executive Summary: Survey of Young Americans' Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service: 14% of young Americans believe we're generally headed in the right direction."

Fallout: MSNBC, in an unsurprising act of cowardice, let Cernovich's smear campaign against Sam Seder win the day after unearthing an old 2009 tweet in which Sam was sarcastic about liberals who defended Roman Polanksi's involvement with underaged girls on the grounds that he was a great filmmaker. "MSNBC to Cut Ties With Sam Seder After Roman Polanski Rape Joke (Exclusive): MSNBC has decided not to renew its contract with contributor Sam Seder after an old tweet emerged in which Seder joked about Roman Polanski raping his daughter, TheWrap has learned. Seder's contract ends in February and he has no scheduled appearances between now and then, a spokesperson for MSNBC told TheWrap. 'Don't care re Polanski, but I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/a great sense of mise en scene,' wrote Seder in the now deleted tweet from 2009." But there was outrage from almost everyone from New York Magazine ("Sam Seder's Firing Proves, Once Again, That Corporations Like MSNBC Can't Stop Getting Rolled by the Far Right"), so MSNBC reversed itself and offered Sammy his job back, which he accepted, appearing on the network again that very night.

"FOIA Docs Show FDA's Data on Kratom Deaths is Complete Propaganda: As the FDA fearmongers over alleged Kratom associated deaths, documents on these deaths reveal that the American people are being lied to. [...] But that's not all, as TFTP reported last month, in order to understand why this push for a ban is happening, we can simply look at who is spearheading it: FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb. For those unaware, before he was appointed as the commissioner of the FDA, Gottlieb was a resident fellow at the neoconservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute. AEI has long pushed for the war in and US occupation of Afghanistan — which, since the US invasion, has become the world's number one source of poppies. AEI's officers and board members are made up of warmongers like Dick Cheney, as well as Big Pharma insiders like Raymond Gilmartin, former CEO of Merck & Co., and mega bankers like Harvey Golub, the retired chairman and CEO of the American Express Company."

One of the ways life could be better is if the DCCC Dems would stop protecting one of the most odious Republicans in Congress. "Can A Progressive Former Marine Colonel Dislodge Republican Crook Darrell Issa? The slimiest of California's "Democratic" political consultants, slate vendor and ping-pong player Parke Skelton, is being paid a great deal of money to undermine Doug Applegate, in effect, guaranteeing that Darrell Issa retains his seat. I don't know exactly who's paying him but first, let's look at a little background. Issa, a former car thief and the richest member of Congress, was first elected in 2000. [...] The DCCC had never been remotely interested in challenging Issa and has studiously avoided the district. In 2014 the candidate was Dave Peiser and Issa creamed him 98,161 (60.2%) to 64,981 (39.8%) a race that saw Issa spending $1,749,467 to Peiser's $85,321. The DCCC spent zero, as usual. But last year a remarkable candidate jumped in against Issa, former Marine Colonel Doug Applegate. The DCCC ignored, ignored, ignored... until Applegate started raising some real money and making some significant headway in the polls. The DCCC kept waiting and watching and making nice noises about Applegate. [...] Applegate and his grassroots army of supporters decided early to finish what they had started and defeat Issa in 2018. However several multimillionaires have other ideas, thinking it looked so easy. One Pelosi crony who never lifted a finger to defeat Issa, a transplanted failed politician and fixer from Virginia, Ira Lechner, persuaded a friend of his, Mike Levin, to run. Members of Skeltons staff say it is Lechner who has been paying Skelton to undermine Applegate, primarily by having Levin run around with Issa's discredited opposition smears as though they were new."

"Orange County's Informant Scandal Yields Evidence of Forensic Science Deception in Murder Trials [...] 'Should it really take an informant scandal to find out that the key forensic expert in two murder cases switched her opinion?' Sanders asked. 'It's been almost 10 years since Hong did this, so obviously, she was content to let these defendants die in prison without ever revealing what she had done. It's beyond sick. [In] how many other cases has she adjusted her opinion so it could work for the prosecution?'"

"When Buying Prescription Drugs, Some Pay More With Insurance Than Without It: As insurers ask consumers to pay a greater share of their drug costs, it may be cheaper to pay cash than use your insurance card. One expert estimates that consumers could be overpaying for as many as 1 in 10 prescriptions."

"Destruction Of Black Wealth During The Obama Presidency: The People's Policy Project is proud to release its first formal paper. Co-authored by Ryan Cooper and Matt Bruenig and designed by Jon White, it uses data from the Survey of Consumer Finances to track the evolution of African-American wealth during the Obama presidency, and how that wealth was affected by housing policy choices made by the administration. The paper finds that while President Obama had wide discretion and appropriated funds to relieve homeowners caught in the economic crisis, the policy design his administration chose for his housing program was a disaster. Instead of helping homeowners, at every turn the administration was obsessed with protecting the financial system — and so homeowners were left to drown."
* Bruenig and Cooper, "How Obama Destroyed Black Wealth: The nation's first African-American president was a disaster for black wealth."
* Ryan Cooper discusses the paper on The Dig.

"Palestinians recognize Texas as part of Mexico: JERUSALEM — In response to US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, the Palestinian National Authority has announced that it will recognize Texas as a state of Mexico since it was violently annexed by the United States in the 1840s."

"Bernie Sanders hits the trail again, this time to fight GOP tax bill

"Bernie Sanders nominated for a Grammy: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) could be adding Grammy winner to his resumé — the 2016 White House hopeful just garnered his first Grammy nomination. The former presidential candidate and actor Mark Ruffalo were nominated Tuesday in the spoken word category for the audiobook of Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, Sanders's 2016 tome."

"Annie Lennox first female chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian: Singer-songwriter and social activist Annie Lennox is to become the first ever female Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University. Lennox will succeed anti-poverty and Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus in the position on Friday. The role of Chancellor involves formal and ceremonial duties, conferring degrees on students and supporting and promoting the University's ambitions and vision. The university said Lennox, who has been honoured for her humanitarian work, 'embodies the mission and values of Glasgow Caledonian University'.The former Eurythmics singer said she is looking forward to the role."

Karen Bernal, Pia Gallegos, Sam McCann, and Norman Solomon, "Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis"

"Australia Seeks New Gag Laws That Could See Journalists And Whistleblowers Jailed for 20 Years: Organisations such as WikiLeaks and disclosures from whistleblowers like Edward Snowden appear to be the target."

"The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened." One reason I don't even bother to report on the Russia story is that not a lot that shows up in the news turns out to be true. This week everyone from CNN to Josh Marshall fell for another fake bombshell.

Oops! "Newspaper's Botched Front Page Goes Down In Headline History"

RIP: "Former religion professor, activist John Raines dies at 84: The professor emeritus served as a religion professor for nearly 50 years and was most known for breaking into an FBI field office in 1971. [...] Raines and other political activists — including his wife Bonnie Raines — broke into an FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1971. The group, which named itself the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI, stole documents that would expose the abuse within J. Edgar Hoover's FBI administration, and John Raines drove the getaway car, The Temple News reported in 2014. The stolen documents included information about COINTELPRO, the FBI's domestic surveillance operation to spy on prominent political organizers and sabotage any 'anti-government' movements, The Temple News reported in 2014."

RIP: "Johnny Hallyday, the 'French Elvis', dies at 74

Umair Haque, "The Life and Death of an Economy: How Economies Commit Suicide, Starring America and Britain as Romeo and Juliet [...] Today, the UK — we'll get to the US, the world, and the future, but let's begin here — released some genuinely stunning economic 'numbers.' It forecast the economy basically never to grow again, and for incomes not to rise to 2008 levels until 2028. But of course the contradiction is that if the economy will never grow again, then incomes are hardly likely to rise, so we are seeing the death of a modern economy. But it isn't the first, it is the second: the first death was the USA, which is now something like a post-economic country, nominally rich, but plagued by things like mass school shooting and medical bankruptcies, which don't even happen really in Delhi or Bangkok."

"Cornel West Doesn't Want to Be a Neoliberal Darling: After nearly a year of the Trump presidency, do you regret your criticisms of Barack Obama? Oh, no. I told the truth. When I said drone strikes are crimes against humanity, when I said Obama bailed out Wall Street rather than Main Street — I shall forever support that. I was just speaking to the reality that people are hurting, and we have to do the same thing under Trump as we did under Obama."

"Robert Reich: How Clinton and Obama Failed to Defend the Middle Class: Reich told IBT that the Democratic Party 'is just a big fundraising machine' and its failure to fix the economy helped Donald Trump win the White House."

Kevin Carty, Leah Douglas, Lina Khan, and Matt Stoller in New York Magazine, "6 Ideas to Rein in Silicon Valley, Open Up the Internet, and Make Tech Work for Everyone:
- 1. Stop Facebook From Spying on Its Competitors
- 2. Jail Bosses Who Use Contracts to Lock Down Workers
- 3. Stop Amazon From Selling Books — or Anything Else — Below Cost
- 4. Stop Mastercard From Robbing Main Street
- 5. Stop Amazon From Selling Groceries
- 6. Stop Google From Steering You to Its Own Apps

Erik Erikson was on Twitter babbling some phony biblical rationalization of the rich getting to keep all the money. Someone posted a link to "Caring for the Poor is Government's Biblical Role" in response.

The NYT did a feature on Richard Avedon's photos from the civil rights era.

Atrios linked to a song called "Eschaton." His readers disagreed on its quality. I kinda liked it.

I don't know if FireRTC works over here, but across the pond it gives you free phone calls "to any US, Puerto Rican, or Canadian cell phone or land line!" I'd like to use it, since it doesn't require the person you're calling to be using the same service, and it also sends an identifier to your recipient instead of "unknown". The call recorder is part of it, rather than an add-on, as well. It looks like I may be able to use it to call other FireRTC users, though. Doesn't say anything about from.

"The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour at 50: The Rise and Fall of a Groundbreaking Variety Show"

It's been 20 years. "The Day Frank Zappa Died"

This is cute: "Muslim attacks four British youth."

"Comic Book Covers Recreated Using Balloons"

Here's a little tune I found on YouTube: "Fire Is Ours"

16:54 GMT comment


Monday, 27 November 2017

I'm near the end and I just ain't got the time

It may surprise you to know that the only thing I have to say right now about all the sexual harassment scandals is that FOR GOD'S SAKE CONGRESS IS DESTROYING OUR ECONOMIC SYSTEM, OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM, AND THE INTERNET, AND WTF ARE YOU PEOPLE PLAYING AT?!?!?!?!, but here's that old Saturday Night Live Anita Hill hearings clip, which never really seemed that funny to me, but I'd already heard Lenny Bruce talking about how the prosecutors and judges at his obscenity trial seemed to be going out of their way to keep repeating the words he was being prosecuted for saying.. No, wait, I think I pretty much agree with Atrios. The world is full of people who make annoying jokes. In fact, the world is full of people who make annoying jokes you've had to put up with on a weekly basis as if they are the first person you've ever heard that joke from. They make these jokes if you are tall or short, skinny of fat, voluptuous or flat, and every damn time they think it's a big chortle. But resigning just because the opposition party wants you out of the way (because you are effective!) misses the whole point of that "democracy" thing, and god knows we've got precious little of that left.

Interestingly, even Forbes is worried. "GOP Tax Bill Is The End Of All Economic Sanity In Washington: If it's enacted, the GOP tax cut now working its way through Congress will be the start of a decades-long economic policy disaster unlike any other that has occurred in American history." They're right that the bill is insane, but they really don't seem to be worried about the right things. Everyone who points out that the bill will enlarge the deficit is right, of course, but the deficit isn't what matters. What matters is an even greater transfer of wealth from the American people to the top 0.001% and their ability to acumulate it endlessly.

"Detained Saudi Arabia princes are being tortured by American mercenaries, UK paper claims: In a recent crackdown ordered by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, some of the country's most powerful figures were arrested this month. The Saudi elite -- princes and billionaire businessmen -- recently arrested in a power grab are reportedly being tortured and thrashed by American private security contractors, according to a report by Daily Mail." You can find the Daily Mail's original story here if you want to, but it's the Daily Mail..

Eric Schneiderman, "An Open Letter to the FCC [...] Specifically, for six months my office has been investigating who perpetrated a massive scheme to corrupt the FCC's notice and comment process through the misuse of enormous numbers of real New Yorkers' and other Americans' identities. Such conduct likely violates state law — yet the FCC has refused multiple requests for crucial evidence in its sole possession that is vital to permit that law enforcement investigation to proceed." Hm, I wonder who could have fabricated those comments, because there just aren't that many people who favor repeal of net neutrality.
* WaPo, "Investigation of fake net neutrality foes has been stymied by the FCC, New York attorney general says."

"Verizon and the Death of the Internet: There are two stories here, one about net neutrality — which Trump's FCC is about to terminate — and one about a corruption of the process by which the FCC arrives that decision."

Michael Hiltzik, "The chained CPI: Another secret tax hike for the middle class slipped into the GOP tax bills." Yes, it's back.

"A Conservative Plan to Weaponize the Federal Courts: Even though there's been nothing subtle about the current push to fill dozens of judicial vacancies kept open by the Republican-controlled Senate during the final years of the Obama administration, a document now making the rounds inside the Beltway is head-snapping. It is a proposal by a leading conservative constitutional scholar to double or even triple the number of authorized judgeships on the federal Courts of Appeals, now fixed by law at 179. Why so many, and why now? The author, Steven G. Calabresi, a law professor at Northwestern University, a founder and the current board chairman of the conservative Federalist Society, declares his goal boldly: 'undoing the judicial legacy of President Barack Obama.'"

This article in The Atlantic looks at "The Very Bad Arguments for Killing the Estate Tax" and then takes a side trip into silly arguments for ending it before returning to the case against ending it. But it doesn't say that billionaires need to be taxed out of existence as quickly as possible, not allowed to build dynasties that control the government.

Jordan Weissmann at Slate, "The Most Egregious Gift to the Wealthy In the Republican Tax Plan." But this is pretty egregious: "Killing the estate tax is an egregious move on its own. There is little to no economic rationale for it — some economists have argued the tax discourages savings by the wealthy on the margins and could hurt investment, but that's not really much of a public policy concern when the capital markets are flooded with money. Meanwhile, nixing the tax will allow wealth to concentrate in the hands of the richest families while discouraging charitable bequests. It's a win for the top 0.1 percent, at the expense of philanthropy and the federal budget. But when you drill down to the specifics of the GOP's plan, it looks even worse. While they do away with the estate tax, Republicans would leave in place the rules that currently spare heirs from paying capital gains taxes when they sell off the assets they inherit. Essentially, they're turning death into a supercharged tax avoidance strategy for country's most loaded families."

"St. Louis police shut down entire mall to violently arrest black lawmaker for protesting racial injustice: Police in St. Louis shut down a large shopping mall on 'Black Friday' to arrest activists protesting police violence. The arrests included a state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. (D), a black lawmaker who could be heard screaming in pain in video that shows multiple officers on top of the handcuffed lawmaker, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported."

"When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work: Twenty states suspend people's professional or driver's licenses if they fall behind on loan payments, according to records obtained by The New York Times."

David Dayen at The Intercept, "A Week After Virginia Election Sweep, Democrats Join Republicans for More Bank Deregulation [...] The measure would roll back several key financial regulations, including sections of the Dodd-Frank Act. It does so under the cover of offering consumer protections and coming to the aid of community banks — though the financial institutions that benefit have not-so-obscure names, like American Express, SunTrust, and BB&T. Four Banking Committee Democrats — Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Mark Warner, D-Va. — negotiated the bill with committee chair Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, after ranking Democrat Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, broke off talks on a compromise bill with Crapo just last month. Warner's Virginia colleague Tim Kaine, last year's vice presidential nominee, signed on as an original co-sponsor of the bill, along with Joe Manchin D-W.Va., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Gary Peters D-Mich., and Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with Democrats. The Democratic support would give the legislation enough support to break a filibuster, if all Republicans signed on."

"The Pig That Burst The Keystone Pipeline: Yesterday, the Keystone pipeline cracked and dumped 210,000 gallons of oil onto the South Dakota prairie. Here's the reason the pipeline burst: the PIG didn't squeal. The PIG, the Pipeline Inspection Gauge, is sent through the Keystone to check for evidence of any leak, failure, or corrosion that will cause it to burst. But the PIG didn't squeal a warning. Why not? Because, as disclosed in my investigation for Britain's investigative TV series Dispatches in 2010, the PIG has been silenced, its software jacked and hacked by a company that provides PIGS. The software is deliberately set to reduce the warning signals and thereby cut costs of replacement and repair by billions of dollars on the Keystone and other pipes."

"The FCC just repealed a 42-year-old rule blocking broadcast media mergers. And you can be sure this is about letting Sinclair take over the spectrum.

NYT: "He's a Member of Congress. The Kremlin Likes Him So Much It Gave Him a Code Name." This may be one of my favorite headlines. Remember Dana Rohrabacher posing with the Taliban?

Jeff Spross in The Week, "Killing the AT&T-Time Warner deal would be radical. Good. Let's do it. n Monday, the U.S. Justice Department officially filed a lawsuit to block AT&T's $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. The two sides may still eventually settle out of court. But it sounds like they're headed for trial. AT&T general counsel David McAtee declared the lawsuit a "radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent." He's right. But in a just world, the DOJ should prevail. This merger should be killed."

"Will Wendy's Help Protect Farmworkers From Sexual Violence? Wendy's has chosen to source tomatoes and other produce from Mexico, including from firms with a known history of human rights violations."

"Serving Extra Years in Prison, and the Courthouse Doors Are Closed: WASHINGTON — It is one thing for a new administration to switch sides in a legal dispute. That is merely unusual. It is another to urge the Supreme Court to deny review in a case that would test whether the government's new position is correct. In a Supreme Court brief filed last month, the Justice Department tried to have it both ways. It told the justices that it no longer believed that some federal prisoners serving longer prison terms than the law allowed were entitled to challenge their sentences in court." It's hard to believe this is even a question. I mean, yes, even now, it's hard to believe.

David Dayen in The Nation, "The Trump Administration Had 1 Real Wall Street Cop — and He Just Quit: Richard Cordray's departure is a loss for consumers, but may be Ohio's gain."

The Talking Dog has done another interview with another frustrated individual who has tried to ameliorate the disaster of Guantanamo, Mark Fallon: "In his more than thirty years as an NCIS special agent and counterintelligence officer, Mark Fallon has investigated some of the most significant terrorist operations in US history, including the first bombing of the World Trade Center and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole. Soon after the September 11th attacks, Fallon was named Deputy Commander of the newly formed Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF), created to probe the al-Qaeda terrorist network and bring suspected terrorists to trial. Mr. Fallon is the author of Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon, and US Government Conspired to Torture, where he describes his experience in his role with CITF, and makes a number of other observations from his unique perspective, including the evolution of "enhanced interrogation techniques" (torture) into the American interrogation program and his and others' heroic efforts of many to thwart it that were ultimately not successful. On November 10, 2017, I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Fallon by e-mail exchange."

"America Is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People: A new book reveals that the U.S. is becoming two distinct countries, with separate economies, politics and opportunities. [...] The two sectors, notes Temin, have entirely distinct financial systems, residential situations and educational opportunities. Quite different things happen when they get sick or when they interact with the law. They move independently of each other. Only one path exists by which the citizens of the low-wage country can enter the affluent one, and that path is fraught with obstacles. Most have no way out."

'Hasidic Brooklyn Neighborhood Has Lead Poisoning Rates Triple That of Flint, Michigan: Since last year, Reuters has obtained neighborhood-level blood lead testing results for 34 states and the District of Columbia. This data allows the public its first hyper-local look at communities where children tested positive for lead exposure in recent years. The newly identified communities with high rates of elevated childhood lead levels include a historic district in Savannah, Georgia, areas in Rutland, Vermont, near the popular skiing mountain Killington, and a largely Hasidic Jewish area in Brooklyn. The areas where the most children tested high are in Brooklyn, including neighborhoods with historic brownstones and surging real estate values, where construction and renovation can unleash the toxin. The worst spot — with recent rates nearly triple Flint's — was in a Hasidic Jewish area with the city's highest concentration of small children."

Max Blumenthal asks an interesting question about the push by The Washington Post and others to treat RT America as a foreign agent when APAIC isn't.

"Rent controls promote stability: Housing security leads to healthier neighbourhoods and tenants."

Matt Stoller in 2012 on Why Politicians Don't Care That Much About Reelection: Most activists and political operatives are under a delusion about American politics, which goes as follows. Politicians will do *anything* to get reelected, and they will pander, beg, borrow, lie, cheat and steal, just to stay in office. It's all about their job. This is 100% wrong. The dirty secret of American politics is that, for most politicians, getting elected is just not that important. What matters is post-election employment. It's all about staying in the elite political class, which means being respected in a dense network of corporate-funded think tanks, high-powered law firms, banks, defense contractors, prestigious universities, and corporations. If you run a campaign based on populist themes, that's a threat to your post-election employment prospects. This is why rising Democratic star and Newark Mayor Corey Booker reacted so strongly against criticism of private equity — he's looking out for a potential client after his political career is over, or perhaps, during interludes between offices. Running as a vague populist is manageable, as long as you're lying to voters. If you actually go after powerful interests while in office, then you better win, because if you don't, you'll have basically nowhere to go. And if you lose, but you were a team player, then you'll have plenty of money and opportunity. The most lucrative scenario is to win and be a team player, which is what Bill and Hillary Clinton did. The Clinton's are the best at the political game — it's not a coincidence that deregulation accelerated in the late 1990s, as Clinton and his whole team began thinking about their post-Presidential prospects."

RIP: "David Cassidy, 'Partridge Family' Star, Dies at 67." I was strangely saddened by this, although he'd been ill and was also suffering from dementia. He'd had problems with drinking and his liver got him. But looking at his picture, I remembered how pretty he was. how he could sometimes blast exuberant life out of the TV screen. He had come from a showbiz family (Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones) and made his name in a show that was based on another showbiz family (The Cowsills), but you forgot all that when you saw him bouncing around on screen.

RIP: "AC/DC Guitarist Malcolm Young Dies at 64," so soon after the death of his brother George, leaving Angus as the surviving Young brother involved with the band.

Judging by the messes we make when we cut cakes around here, maybe we could use one of these.

The Ealing Club, "The club where The Who first rocked"

Blind Faith, "Can't Find My Way Home (electric)

02:53 GMT comment


Monday, 13 November 2017

I'd give you everything I got for a little peace of mind

At the polls, it was a good night for Dems.

"Democrats make significant gains in Virginia legislature; control of House in play: The Democratic wave in Virginia on Tuesday wiped out the Republican majority in the state House of Delegates, throwing control of the chamber in play for the first time since 2000 and putting Republicans in blue-tinged districts across the country on alert for next year's elections. Democrats snared at least 15 seats in an upset that stunned members of both parties and arrived with national implications."

Manassas: "Democratic Socialists Just Won a Huge Victory in Virginia: Lee Carter's (D) election victory was a shocking upset for experts, who predicted that Republican incumbent Jackson Miller would likely win. Carter ran unapologetically on pursuing a single payer healthcare system for Virginia and limiting corporate influence in politics, echoing policy positions taken by Sen. Bernie Sanders in last year's Democratic primary. Carter, an IT specialist and Marine veteran, now represents Virginia's 50th District, which includes the city of Manassas and part of Prince William County." Miller was the VA House Majority Whip, so that's a big shot Republican he ousted.
* "How a Socialist Beat One of Virginia's Most Powerful Republicans: Is Lee Carter's shocking victory a sign of things to come across America?"

"Democratic Socialism Is Having a Very Good Year at the Ballot Box: They're singing 'Solidarity Forever' and winning elections in states across the country. [...] From Peekskill, New York, to Moorhead, Minnesota, from to Pleasant Hill, Iowa, to Knoxville, Tennessee, and Billings, Montana, DSA-backed candidates won town-council and city-council seats, school-board seats, and even a judgeship. The list of democratic-socialist victories was striking — the longest in decades. But it was not unprecedented."

"First Two Latinas Are Elected to Virginia House of Delegates, Making History: Elizabeth Guzmán and Hala Ayala became the first Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, part of a Democratic sweep in the state."

"Virginia elects transgender woman to state legislature: Danica Roem, a former journalist and member of heavy metal band, beats Republican who sponsored bathroom bill."

Virginia Election Results: Northam Defeats Gillespie in Governor Race: Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, won a decisive victory in the race for governor of Virginia, defeating his Republican rival, Ed Gillespie, on Tuesday. Mr. Northam was propelled by liberal and moderate voters who were eager to send a message to President Trump in a state that rejected him in 2016 and where he is deeply unpopular." 53.9% to 45.0.

"Democrat Vi Lyles makes history in Charlotte mayoral win: Casting herself as a unifier after two years of tumult, Democrat Vi Lyles easily defeated Republican Kenny Smith on Tuesday to become Charlotte's first African-American female mayor. Lyles took about 58 percent to Smith's 42 percent in unofficial returns. She carried precincts throughout the city, including a handful in south Charlotte. Despite being heavily outspent, she won on a night Democrats flexed their muscles not only in Charlotte but in Virginia and New Jersey, where they swept state races."

In Philly, "'Completely Unelectable' Progressive Larry Krasner Wins DA's Race: He beat Republican Beth Grossman by more than 40 percentage points. [...] Most of Krasner's opponents, including Grossman, were longtime prosecutors. Krasner, on the other hand, has never worked for the DA's office a day in his life. He is a civil rights and defense attorney who has represented Black Lives Matter and Occupy Philly. He's also sued the police department and City Hall more than 75 times, and promised never to seek the death penalty or bring cases based on illegal searches. Krasner once joked that he'd 'spent a career becoming completely unelectable.'"

"How did Democrat Phil Murphy win the New Jersey gubernatorial race? Democrat Phil Murphy was elected governor of New Jersey with strong support from his party's base, including women, younger voters, and by making inroads with some less traditionally Democratic groups, such as independents and white voters. Murphy defeated the state's lieutenant governor, Republican Kim Guadagno, who was hurt by her association with current Governor Chris Christie, CBS News exit polling shows."

"Democrat Phil Murphy Wins New Jersey Governor Race: He'll inherit Chris Christie's beach house."

"In a City of Firsts, Hoboken Elects a Sikh as Mayor [...] And now the city of some 55,000 people on the Hudson River can boast another first: Councilman Ravi Bhalla on Tuesday became the first Sikh elected mayor in New Jersey, and one of only a few Sikhs to become mayor of an American city."

A few more highlights: Democrats also made significant down-ballot gains in Virginia. Justin Fairfax won the lieutenant governor's against Republican Jill Holtzman Vogel, a state senator known for her sponsorship of a 2012 bill that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo vaginal ultrasounds. Social issues were prominent in another statewide race, where Democratic attorney general Mark Herring defeated Republican challenger John Adams, who has hit Herring for his refusal to defend Virginia's same-sex marriage ban in court. And Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend Alison Parker was the Virginia TV reporter killed on live television in 2015, won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates"

"Election Night 2017 Was Defined By Progressive Victories & Twitter Is Ecstatic."

"The Secret to Progressives' Electoral Success? They didn't just say NO to Trump, they offered a serious, affirmative agenda." Some really great victory stories here, including a lefty winning in a town most people would assume would be red forever.

Mike Lux, "Democrats Face an Intersection: We Won Big, Thank Goodness: But How Do We Keep It Going? [...] An economic populism with a bold agenda that doesn't ignore the needs of either communities of color or white working class folks, that is conscious and purposeful in reaching out to and embracing both, is the path that leads to Democrats to victory in the years to come. But Democrats face an intersection: we can embrace this path forward together, or we can continue to chase moderate voters and kowtow to the 1% at the expense of everyone else. The former can lead us to a lot more victories in 2018 and 2020, the latter will keep us stuck in the past."

* * * * *

"A Billionaire Destroyed His Newsrooms Out of Spite It is worth being clear about exactly what happened here, so that no one gets too smug. DNAinfo was never profitable, but Mr. Ricketts was happy to invest in it for eight years, praising its work all along. Gothamist, on the other hand, was profitable, and a fairly recent addition to the company. One week after the New York team unionized, Mr. Ricketts shut it all down. He did not try to sell the company to someone else. Instead of bargaining with 27 unionized employees in New York City, he chose to lay off 115 people across America. And, as a final thumb in the eye, he initially pulled the entire site's archives down (they are now back up), so his newly unemployed workers lost access to their published work. Then, presumably, he went to bed in his $29 million apartment. Of all the lies spouted during the DNAinfo-Gothamist anti-union campaign, none was more transparent than a spokeswoman's assertion that the union was a 'competitive obstacle making it harder for the business to be financially successful.' The company never made money before it was unionized, but more important, the new union hadn't made a single demand yet." That's the NYT opinion piece — the news story is "DNAinfo and Gothamist Are Shut Down After Vote to Unionize."

"House to vote on giving Amazon $53 billion deal to become main Pentagon supplier: Members of the US House of Representatives and Senate Armed Services committees announced Wednesday that they have reached agreement on the proposed $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense spending bill. This astronomical figure — an $80 billion increase over spending in 2016 and roughly $26 billion more than was requested by President Donald Trump — is a clear signal that the US will expand its ongoing wars around the world and is preparing to engage in far broader conflicts potentially involving North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China."

Elizabeth Warren Warns: Navient Deal A Danger To Student Loan Borrowers: U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren warned Wednesday that the nation's largest student loan servicer has positioned itself to stealthily strip consumer protections from unwitting borrowers across the country. In an interview with International Business Times, she also said the loan servicer, Navient, should not be permitted to be a government contractor handling student loans on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education. The Massachusetts Democrat was sounding an alarm about Navient's recent acquisition of online lender Earnest. She said the transaction opened up the possibility that the company will try to boost its profits by selling debtors on refinancing their current federal student loans with the company's own private loans — the kind that she said to do not necessarily permit income-based repayment options."

"With New D.C. Policy Group, Dems Continue to Rehabilitate and Unify With Bush-Era Neocons: One of the most under-discussed yet consequential changes in the American political landscape is the reunion between the Democratic Party and the country's most extreme and discredited neocons. While the rise of Donald Trump, whom neocons loathe, has accelerated this realignment, it began long before the ascension of Trump and is driven by far more common beliefs than contempt for the current president. A newly formed and, by all appearances, well-funded national security advocacy group, devoted to more hawkish U.S. policies toward Russia and other adversaries, provides the most vivid evidence yet of this alliance. Calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the group describes itself as 'a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative' that 'will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors' efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions,' and also 'will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin's ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.' [...] Democrats often justify this union as a mere marriage of convenience: a pragmatic, temporary alliance necessitated by the narrow goal of stopping Trump. But for many reasons, that is an obvious pretext, unpersuasive in the extreme. This Democrat/neocon reunion had been developing long before anyone believed Donald Trump could ascend to power, and this alliance extends to common perspectives, goals, and policies that have little to do with the current president."

"What are the Paradise Papers? The Paradise Papers are a huge leak of financial documents that throw light on the top end of the world of offshore finance. A number of stories are appearing in a week-long expose of how politicians, multinationals, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals use complex structures to protect their cash from higher taxes. As with last year's Panama Papers leak, the documents were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which called in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to oversee the investigation. BBC Panorama and the Guardian are among the nearly 100 media groups investigating the papers. The Paradise Papers name was chosen because of the idyllic profiles of many of the offshore jurisdictions whose workings are unveiled, including Bermuda, the HQ of the main company involved, Appleby. It also dovetails nicely with the French term for a tax haven — paradis fiscal. Then again, the Isle of Man plays a big part." Hmm, it seems Charles has been a naughty boy.

"UN: Yemen facing massive famine if blockade not lifted: Millions of people will die in Yemen, in what will be the world's worst famine crisis in decades, unless a Saudi-led military coalition ends a devastating blockade and allows aid into the country, the United Nations has warned." The media is either ignoring complete or misrepresenting this situation, because the bad guys in this story are the US, the UK, and our good buddies in Saudi Arabia.

Thomas Frank, "Why have we built a paradise for offshore billionaires? [...] For decades Americans have lashed out against taxation because they were told that cutting taxes would give people an incentive to work harder and thus make the American economy flourish. Our populist leaders told us this — they're telling us this still, as they reform taxes in Washington — and they rolled back the income tax, they crusaded against the estate tax, and they worked to keep our government from taking action against offshore tax havens. In reality, though, it was never about us and our economy at all. Today it is obvious that all of this had only one rationale: to raise up a class of supermen above us. It had nothing to do with jobs or growth. Or freedom either. The only person's freedom to be enhanced by these tax havens was the billionaire's freedom. It was all to make his life even better, not ours."

Bernie Sanders in Politico, "How to Fix the Democratic Party: It's time we come together to enact real reform — only then can we defeat Donald Trump and retake the country. [...] An economic populism with a bold agenda that doesn't ignore the needs of either communities of color or white working class folks, that is conscious and purposeful in reaching out to and embracing both, is the path that leads to Democrats to victory in the years to come. But Democrats face an intersection: we can embrace this path forward together, or we can continue to chase moderate voters and kowtow to the 1% at the expense of everyone else. The former can lead us to a lot more victories in 2018 and 2020, the latter will keep us stuck in the past."

Salon, "Bernie Sanders: To reform the party, Democrats must split from corporate America: Sanders said the Democrats must reform the party and primary process, and not rely on wealthy donors to beat Trump,"

Meanwhile, from the Department of Doubling Down on Stupid: "Joe Biden Positions Himself as the 'Anti-Bernie': Biden, like many mainstream liberal Democrats, seems intent upon not understanding the real lessons of 2016." I still would argue with that "liberal" label. Biden has been a handmaiden of the aristocracy for some time. "By failing to formulate an alternative to the failed foreign and economic policies of the past, which he has done much (more than most politicians) to shape, Biden showed that he remains wedded to the tenets of liberal interventionism and free-trade orthodoxy that have served the citizens of this country so poorly over the past quarter-century."

* * * * *

"Donna Brazile's bombshell about the DNC and Hillary Clinton, explained: A former Democratic National Committee chair on Thursday revealed the existence of a previously secret agreement that appeared to confirm some of Bernie Sanders supporters' fears about the 2016 Democratic primary. Donna Brazile, a longtime Clinton ally who stepped in as DNC chair last year in the wake of Debbie Wasserman Schultz's resignation, published an excerpt of her upcoming book in Politico in which she disclosed the details of a fundraising agreement between the DNC and the Clinton campaign reached in August 2015. 'The agreement — signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and [Clinton campaign manager] Robby Mook with a copy to [Clinton campaign counsel] Marc Elias- specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party's finances, strategy, and all the money raised,' Brazile wrote in the story under the headline 'Inside Hillary Clinton's Secret Takeover of the DNC.' Brazile added of the deal: '[Clinton's] campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.'" Naturally, she's getting the hate treatment from the Clintonians, and mostly for saying things that are true, or for things she didn't say at all.

Elizabeth Warren gets the hate treatment from the Clintonians when "Asked if DNC system was rigged in Clinton's favor, Warren says 'yes'."

Claims that what Brazile said has been "debunked" by Howard Dean turn out to be fake news, as the "debunking" turns out to be nonsense.

Ryan Grimm, "Angry About The DNC Scandal? Thank Obama. [...] All that is fodder for a good flamewar, but walking away rather unscathed is the man who set the blaze in the first place: former President Barack Obama. 'Nobody wanted to out the fact that Obama had let it get so bad,' said the DNC official. [...] Raising money for a bland outfit like the DNC isn't easy in the best of times, but with Obama offering little to no help, and clinging to his invaluable email list, Wasserman Schultz was set up to fail, even if she would have done so on her own. Obama instead reasoned that he could become the party, his dynamic and charismatic personality carrying it at the national level. Obama was re-elected, but the party itself went on a historic losing spree, ultimately shedding nearly 1,000 seats across the country. Even after Democrats lost the Senate in 2014, and the DNC continued spending money on consultants at an eye-popping rate, Obama decided not to make a leadership change. Instead, he left it saddled with debt — debt the Clinton campaign would later agree to pay off in exchange for control. [...] Obama finally became interested in the party after the 2016 loss. His final gift to the party apparatus was Tom Perez, his labor secretary, who he recruited to stop Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., from winning the race for DNC chair. Obama and Perez won. DNC funding has been anemic, and it recently had to add to its roughly $3 million in debt."

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

Why Donna Brazile's Story Matters — But Not for the Reason You Might Think
Everyone knew the primary was rigged. The real question is: Why did they bother, when they would have won anyway?

[...]

The use of rumors and innuendo to gin up furious emotional responses through a community before facts and corrections can catch up; the use of letters of denunciation; the reflexive charge that dissenting thoughts aid a foreign enemy — does no one recognize this? Has no one out there read a history book?

[...]

But that is what's so weird. Why bother monkeying around with rules, when you're going to win anyway?

Why not welcome Sanders and the energy he undoubtedly would (and did) bring into the party, rather than scheme to lock him and others out?

There are a lot of people who are going to wonder why so much time is being spent re-litigating the 2016 campaign. It sucked, it's over: Who cares?

It does matter. That race is when many of the seeds of what will be the defining problems of our age first began to be sown.

[...]

This is when establishment Democrats began to openly lose faith in democracy and civil liberties and began to promote a "results over process" mode of political thinking. It's when we started hearing serious people in Washington talk about the dangers of "too much democracy."

[...]

The point of the Brazile story isn't that the people who "rigged" the primary were afraid of losing an election. It's that they weren't afraid of betraying democratic principles, probably because they didn't believe in them anymore.

If you're not frightened by the growing appeal of that line of thinking, you should be. There is a history of this sort of thing. And it never ends well.

And finally, those wags at The Onion, "DNC Unveils Clinton Institute For Campaign Ethics Reform In Response To Corruption Allegations"

* * * * *

"Georgia man charged with murder for shooting friend following argument over forgiveness in the Bible"

"This North Carolina County Has a Thriving Branch of the NAACP — and It's Mostly White [...] The branch's success speaks to the potential for progressive organizing in Appalachia, and to the promise — and challenges — of building diverse coalitions in the 21st-century South. "

Helaine Olen's op-ed in the NYT, "Choosing a Health Insurance Plan Is Not 'Shopping' [...] No surprise, reviewing our health insurance options doesn't score high on the fun-o-meter. A 2016 Harris Poll discovered almost half of the employees they questioned always found choosing an insurance plan stressful. A similar number told Aflac they would rather talk to an ex or walk across hot coals than enroll in a health insurance plan. And yet another United Healthcare survey found more than a quarter of respondents would rather lose their credit card, smartphone or luggage, not to mention suffer a flat tire, than review their health insurance options during open-enrollment periods."

The push for more STEM training isn't about filling jobs, but about pushing tech job wages down. "Where the STEM Jobs Are (and Where They Aren't)".

Umair Haique, "(Why) The English-Speaking World is the New Soviet Union [...] The best way to understand what has gone wrong with the Anglo world, and America in particular, is simply to think of it as a staggeringly ironic repeat of history. A few short decades ago, the Soviet Union fell, after thirty or so years of stagnation, which its complacent, pampered leaders, utterly divorced from lived reality, vociferously denied could ever be happening to begin with. That steadfast denial opened up the possibility of sudden collapse, and collapse it did: into authoritarianism, extreme inequality, superstition, cults of personality, tribalism, vendetta, violence, corruption, and kleptocracy. That is exactly what is happening to America, from the denial to the pampering to the sudden shock. Falling life expectancy, flat incomes, a shrinking middle class — short of war, or a giant meteor striking the earth, more severe indicators of collapse simply don't exist. So. What led to the collapse?"

Why You've Never Heard of a Charter as Important as the Magna Carta: The Charter of the Forest was sealed 800 years ago today. Its defence of the property-less and of 'the commons', means the Right would prefer to ignore it — and progressives need to celebrate and renew it. Eight hundred years ago this month, after the death of a detested king and the defeat of a French invasion in the Battle of Lincoln, one of the foundation stones of the British constitution was laid down. It was the Charter of the Forest, sealed in St Paul's on November 6, 1217, alongside a shortened Charter of Liberties from 2 years earlier (which became the Magna Carta). The Charter of the Forest was the first environmental charter forced on any government. It was the first to assert the rights of the property-less, of the commoners, and of the commons. It also made a modest advance for feminism, as it coincided with recognition of the rights of widows to have access to means of subsistence and to refuse to be remarried. The Charter has the distinction of having been on the statute books for longer than any other piece of legislation. It was repealed 754 years later, in 1971, by a Tory government. In 2015, while spending lavishly on celebrating the Magna Carta anniversary, the government was asked in a written question in the House of Lords whether it would be celebrating the Charter this year. A Minister of Justice, Lord Faulks, airily dismissed the idea, stating that it was unimportant, without international significance. Yet earlier this year the American Bar Association suggested the Charter of the Forest had been a foundation of the American Constitution and that it was more important now than ever before. They were right."

I can't believe I missed this last year. "What Democrats Still Don't Get About George McGovern: The party took all the wrong lessons from his landslide loss to Richard Nixon in '72." Establishment Democrats vowed to make sure McGovern lost in the general, and it sure worked. "Democratic leaders' response to McGovern's defeat was swift and unequivocal. From the ashes of McGovern's loss rose a group of disaffected Democratic campaign staffers and elected officials, soon dubbed the 'neoliberals,' who promised to put the Democratic Party back on the winning track, which invariably lay to the right. The neoliberals and their biggest stars, such as Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis and California Governor Jerry Brown, called for a full-scale repudiation of not only McGovernism, but also the 'New Deal ethic' that had animated Democratic politics since FDR. On foreign policy, they claimed that Democrats needed to reestablish their toughness and willingness to use the military to confront enemies abroad. On social issues like busing and gay rights, the neolibs urged Democrats to strike a more conservative tone, even if it meant shunting aside the very groups that McGovern had worked so hard to court. On economic issues, McGovern's greatest sin in the eyes of the neolibs was precisely what had most worried the Nixon White House — his populism. The neolibs argued that economic growth, not income inequality, needed to be Democrats' primary concern. The entrepreneurial class, they claimed, needed to replace the working class as the Democrats' idée fixe — a shift that not coincidentally would make the party a more welcome home for the donations of big business and rich individuals." And when all these neolibs lost, we were told that they were lefties who lost. (And anyway, Nixon ran as far left as McGovern on major issues, promising to end the war and soak the rich, and running an anti-austerity policy.)

Meteor Blades, "In '57, a judge said 'incorrigible' and sent me to 'reform school.' Such places still need big fixes."

Matt Taibbi, "The Great College Loan Swindle: How universities, banks and the government turned student debt into America's next financial black hole [...] America as a country has evolved in recent decades into a confederacy of widescale industrial scams. The biggest slices of our economic pie — sectors like health care, military production, banking, even commercial and residential real estate — have become crude income-redistribution schemes, often untethered from the market by subsidies or bailouts, with the richest companies benefiting from gamed or denuded regulatory systems that make profits almost as assured as taxes. Guaranteed-profit scams — that's the last thing America makes with any level of consistent competence. In that light, Trump, among other things, the former head of a schlock diploma mill called Trump University, is a perfect president for these times. He's the scammer-in-chief in the Great American Ripoff Age, a time in which fleecing students is one of our signature achievements. "

Jane Ward, "Thinking Bad Sex [...] But the rush to meme-ify sexual harassment and assault with our righteous rage, and to reduce our thinking to the level of 'what will straight people think??!' is hardly our best way forward. For me the question is, as always, how do we draw upon decades of feminist and queer activism and theorizing to see our way through the complexities of sex and its intersections with violence?"

Michael Kempster said this on Facebook: "Corporate governance, in particular, is to my mind very much like Soviet: the stockholders (proletariat) own the company (country), but have little if any say. The board of directors (central committee of the Communist Party) runs things, largely to the end of its own profit, power and continuity of office. The CEO (general secretary) oft becomes the focus of a cult of personality. The board (committee) usually deliberates in secret. Succession to higher posts is usually governed by secret actions, which are the object of profuse speculation. On and on--the more I go on, the more exact the analogy."

Good interview on Majority Report in which David Dayen explains to Sam Why Deregulation Made Air Travel Hell. Dday's article on this, in The American Prospect, is "Unfriendly Skies: It's time to admit that airline deregulation has failed passengers, workers — and economic efficiency." You'll never guess who have to blame for the fact that airline travel has become such a nightmare. I really can't bear to get on a plane anymore. I may never see my family again. "But the real outrage should be directed at the fact that abuse of passengers is the logical endpoint of a 40-year trend since the government liberated the airline industry. Until 1978, air travel was heavily regulated. In that year, some of the nation's most celebrated liberals joined conservatives in trusting free markets. A brief rush of competition in the 1980s gave way to consolidation and monopoly power, at the expense of workers and passengers alike. Today, four carriers control 80 percent of all U.S. routes."

RIP: D. Potter, fanzine writer, apahack, former denizen of the building at Broadway Terrace she called "Broadway Terrors", blogger at Onyx Lynx, and commenter to this blog. She was a co-founder and OE of ALPS (The Amateur Long-Playing Society) and of course an original member of A Woman's APA. She called herself "Nina Razrushen" in print and her fanzines were Tall Black Woman With One Blond Shoe Productions. She was my friend for nearly my entire adult life, and I loved her. I'm going to miss her a lot. (I'd completely forgotten that I wrote that bio of her for Balticon. Every word is true.)

RIP: "John Hillerman, Emmy-Winning 'Magnum P.I.' Actor, Dead At 84: He also played Bonnie Franklin's cold fish boss on One Day at a Time, and had a recurring role on The Betty White Show."

You know, I had entirely forgotten that there was a Salvadore Dali Disney cartoon.

One of the funniest and most erudite comedians in the world, Bill Bailey's Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra (2009). The "extremely versatile and strangely attractive" Beeb's concert orchestra must have had so much fun doing this.

"I'm So Tired"

23:59 GMT comment


Thursday, 02 November 2017

I found my thrill

"51 GOP Senators Just Voted To Cut $1.5 Trillion from Medicare and Medicaid To Give Super-Rich and Corporations a Tax Cut: The Republican budget, declared Sen. Sanders after its passage, 'is not a bad bill. It's a horrific bill.'"

"House Democratic Whip Resists Effort to End U.S. Involvement in Yemen War: The bipartisan push to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen has gained political momentum but faces resistance from the No. 2 Democratic lawmaker in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md." Just in case anyone forgot how much of a piece of garbage Steny Hoyer is.

"Man Busted for Meth That Was Actually Donut Glaze Gets $37,500 for His Trouble: The Krispy Kreme Caper illustrates the limits of drug field tests and the cops who perform them."

"Emmanuel Macron's Anti-Terror Law Is a Throwback to the Bad Days of Colonialism: France has codified draconian security measures that echo some of its worst historical crimes."

"Why Are Prosecutors Putting Innocent Witnesses in Jail? Across the country, people who committed no crimes are being locked up to compel their testimony in court."

Rachelle Hampton in The New Republic, "The most underplayed story of the 2016 election is voter suppression." It's amazing to me that the Democratic Party can make so much more noise about the dubious value of Russian "interference" with our elections than they can with this blatant, home-grown and documented interference that's happening in plain sight.

"Ditch neoliberalism to win again, Jeremy Corbyn tells Europe's centre-left parties: The Labour leader was given a hero's welcome in Brussels" — and two standing ovations.

Matt Bruenig, "Capping 401k Tax Benefits Is Generally A Good Idea: According to Jim Tankersley at the New York Times, Republicans are thinking about reducing the amount of income workers can shelter from taxation through 401k retirement account contributions [...] This proposal is similar to the Obama plan to scrap the tax benefits associated with 529 college savings accounts. Tax benefits for 401k and 529 accounts flow overwhelmingly to rich people and do not apparently incentivize people to save much more (if any) than they would in the absence of the tax breaks. [...] Overall, the Republican tax reform effort is pretty bad. But this proposal, like the Obama-era effort to scrap 529 tax benefits, is a good one."

Marcy Wheeler "On the Lawfare over the Steele Dossier."

"Telecom Lobbyists Fund Lawmaker Who Sponsors Bill To Ban Municipal Broadband: A freshman Michigan state representative introduced a sweeping bill last week that would ban any city and town in the state from using public funds to provide municipal broadband service — publicly owned internet infrastructure. An International Business Times review of state campaign finance and lobbying records found that the representative's campaign was heavily financed by telecommunications companies and trade associations. She also dined with trade association lobbyists in the months leading up to introducing the bill."

"Female homicide rate dropped after Craigslist launched its erotic services platform: Sex workers have long argued that online erotic services platforms make their jobs safer. A new study proves it. [...] The September 2017 study, authored by West Virginia University and Baylor University economics and information systems experts, analyzes rates of female homicides in various cities before and after Craigslist opened an erotic services section on its website. The authors found a shocking 17 percent decrease in homicides with female victims after Craigslist erotic services were introduced."

"Dark Money Group Received Massive Donation In Fight Against Obama's Supreme Court Nominee: A dark money organization that spent $7 million to block former President Obama's Supreme Court pick received just three donations between 2015 and 2016, but one transaction really counted: A single $17.9 million contribution from a mystery donor."

Stiglitz in The Nation, "America Has a Monopoly Problem — and It's Huge [...] Let's begin with a simple question: Is there any reason why US telecom prices should be so much higher than in many other countries and service so much poorer? Much of the innovation was done here in the United States. Our publicly supported research and education institutions provided the intellectual foundations. It is now a global technology, requiring little labor — so it cannot be high wages that provide the explanation. The answer is simple: market power."

Interestingly, the NYT seems to have discovered Stephanie Kelton, having given her an op-ed early in October ("How We Think About the Deficit Is Mostly Wrong") in early October and now a discussion with Paul McCulley, "The Fed Chair Should Be a 'Principled Populist'." It sounds like Yellan should be that person, because she cares. "McCulley: Of course the Fed should care. The more skewed national income is toward the rich, the more difficult it is to maintain a robust aggregate demand growth. Rich people spend a lot, absolutely, but they have a lower marginal propensity to spend than less-affluent citizens. Put differently, give a rich man another dollar, and he'll spend very little of it. Give a man living paycheck to paycheck another dollar, and he'll spend all of it."

I've never thought "didn't campaign in Wisconsin" had much to do with Clinton's loss. She made some mistakes with Wisconsin, but I really don't think that was significant. I mean, I lived the entire first half of my life in the DC area and I don't think I ever saw any signs on the ground that campaigning was going on. We saw what was on our TV news, and TV news might have been from anywhere. The same is true of The Washington Post that arrived on our doorstep every morning — if the candidate allegedly said something interesting, be it in Virginia or Baltimore or Los Angeles, it might be in the paper with the venue itself barely noticeable. The ads the Clinton campaign ran in the final weeks of the campaign might have been a factor, but the fact that she wasn't physically present wouldn't really have mattered unless you'd actually been expecting to have her to tea during her visit. But one significant factor was one Democrats as a party should have been working on non-stop since long before the Clintons came along. Ari Berman in Mother Jones, "Rigged: How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump: And possibly handed him the whole election. [...] According to a comprehensive study by MIT political scientist Charles Stewart, an estimated 16 million people — 12 percent of all voters — encountered at least one problem voting in 2016. There were more than 1 million lost votes, Stewart estimates, because people ran into things like ID laws, long lines at the polls, and difficulty registering. Trump won the election by a total of 78,000 votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. [...] After the election, registered voters in Milwaukee County and Madison's Dane County were surveyed about why they didn't cast a ballot. Eleven percent cited the voter ID law and said they didn't have an acceptable ID; of those, more than half said the law was the 'main reason' they didn't vote. According to the study's author, University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Kenneth Mayer, that finding implies that between 12,000 and 23,000 registered voters in Madison and Milwaukee — and as many as 45,000 statewide — were deterred from voting by the ID law. 'We have hard evidence there were tens of thousands of people who were unable to vote because of the voter ID law,' he says." Understand, I still blame the Democratic Party for either ignoring or actively suppressing any attempt to address this issue. Whining about Russians is just more deflection. Throughout my lifetime, we have known that the segregationists were doing everything they could to prevent black Americans from voting. The Voting Rights Act stopped some of the more overt efforts, but that's gone now, and they've got vote-prevention laws busting out all over, just aside from some mighty suspicious vote counts and GOP-owned voting machines you can't audit. After the 2000 selection, anyone who talked about these things was written off as a conspiracy theorist. Makes you wonder why the Democratic Party wants to keep losing, doesn't it?
* Ari Berman discussed this with Sam Seder on The Majority Report.

"APNewsBreak: Georgia election server wiped after suit filed: A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned. The server's data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state's election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case that was later obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wipe. The lawsuit, filed July 3 by a diverse group of election reform advocates, aims to force Georgia to retire its antiquated and heavily criticized election technology. The server in question, which served as a statewide staging location for key election-related data, made national headlines in June after a security expert disclosed a gaping security hole that wasn't fixed six months after he reported it to election authorities." Well, that's not at all suspicious, is it?

"NYC's Board of Elections will admit it purged more than 200,000 voters from city rolls." 127,000 of purged voters are from Bernie' home borough of Brooklyn. I'm still unclear about whether this was a routine purge of people who hadn't voted for the last six years or something else, but the question remains of why it seems to have been only this area and nowhere else.

"States consider best ways to legalize recreational marijuana" — Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont are making a move.

"RT reveals its top promoted tweets during US election campaign, & the results may surprise you [...] In his Senate testimony, Twitter's Sean J. Edgett explained his company's decision to ban RT from advertising on Twitter by referencing RT's supposed 'low-quality content.' RT's head of communications, Anna Belkina, responded: 'Somehow the quality of our content was just fine while Twitter pushed for a giant, Election-targeting ad buy from RT, which RT refused.'"

Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing, "The DNC picked a bunch of sleazy lobbyists as superdelegates, can't figure out why no one is donating: The 2018 "superdelegates" to the Democratic National Convention will include lobbyists for Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp, CITGO petroleum, Citigroup, and other large corporations. Superdelegates are unelected party favorites who get to vote for the party leader in primaries. The DNC was sued for dirty tricks in the 2016 primaries, and in its defense, DNC leaders insisted the party could "pick candidates in smoke-filled back-rooms" and ignore the votes of party members. In what is certainly unrelated news, the DNC is in a panic because its donations are way, way down heading into the 2018 elections.

Ryan Grim at The Intercept, "Democratic Party Drama Puts Deputy Chair Keith Ellison in a Tough Spot [...] On Thursday, four long-serving DNC officials who had backed Ellison's bid to be DNC chair were removed from their positions. Ray Buckley, James Zogby, and Barbra Casbar Siperstein were bounced from the executive committee, and Buckley was also taken off the rules committee, on which he served as well. Alice Germond lost her at-large appointment. 'I think Tom is putting Keith in a tough spot,' said Claire Sandberg, the digital organizer for Sanders's 2016 campaign. 'He's been working in good faith to convince grassroots progressives not to give up on the Democratic Party and its institutions. But that will be a much more difficult task now.'"

Progressives' Anger Over Key Committee Appointments Roils Democratic Party Meeting: Officials who backed Rep. Keith Ellison over Tom Perez were removed from crucial posts."

Briahna Joy Gray, "Bernie Sanders Isn't A Democrat — Thank God."

David Dayen in The New Republic, "The Democrats' Dianne Feinstein Problem"

David Dayen, "The drug industry hustle is bigger than one obscure law: Journalism can still work to produce change. The Washington Post/60 Minutes exposé about the DEA getting robbed of its tools to fight the opioid crisis is a great window into how Washington works. But the focus on the 2016 law that finished the job — under the noses of everyone, including the Obama White House, which is astounding — is unfortunate, as the story outlines a much bigger problem. The whistleblower in the piece, Joe Rannazzisi, was getting high-level pushback for his efforts to target drug distributors for pushing giant numbers of opioid pills into communities years before any bill passage. Obama's DoJ was already captured and preventing the "suspicious orders" crackdown that attempted to keep these pills off the street. By the time Congress got involved DEA was already working under serious constraints, fueled by lobbyists and lawyers who previously worked at the agency. The second misimpression is that this was about the manufacturers of the drugs themselves. No, it was the distributors, a small but vital cog in the pharmaceutical supply chain. And like practically every link in that chain, the distributors are an oligopoly. McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen control between 85-90% of the whole business. That magnified the decision they made to let the opioids flow and ignore their responsibility under federal law. The Teamsters and other groups have been going after distributors for years on this point. The lack of competition for distribution, and pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers, creates powerfully bad incentives and ripple effect that, in this case, cost thousands of lives."

"Did Obama's Stimulus Hurt The Planet? How Trump Could Revive Homegrown Solar [...] The U.S. International Trade Commission recommended Tuesday that the president impose tariffs on imported solar panels in order to counter the financial harm caused by a mix of seemingly unrelated economic trends — and the unintended consequences of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package — which have pushed the U.S. solar manufacturing industry to the brink of extinction."

Selective Feminism and the Myth of the Bernie Bro: The Backlash to Sanders and the Women's Convention: The latest example of the double standard applied to abuse and harassment on the left"

It's unfortunate that "Black Critics Shake Their Heads at Ta-Nehisi Coates" appears where it does, because it automatically makes people, including me, wonder what it's doing there. And yet, it rings entirely true.

A nice review of Matt Taibbi's new book, "Breaking From Trump-Bashing, Matt Taibbi Examines Eric Garner's Death In I Can't Breathe," with an interview.

David Atkins in The Washington Monthly, "Are Third Way's Focus Groups Valid Research? Much attention has been lavished on this Molly Ball piece in The Atlantic on the centrist think tank Third Way's listening tour across America. In it, Ms. Ball subtly fillets the Third Way's domestic anthropologists in their search for answers that already align with the group's preconceptions about a fundamentally centrist, moderate America that wants small government, local control and even-tempered politicians in line with the preferences of the group's corporate donors. Per her story, the focus groups seemed to show one thing, but the conclusions from Third Way showed another. But the reason I write this is to highlight something more disturbing from the piece that speaks to the Third Way's methodology in doing the research." (By all means follow the link to Molly Ball's piece.)

Charlie Stross' bleak consideration: "Some notes on the worst-case scenario"

Ted Rall, "The Trouble with NDAs"

I wish I had this desk. And the room for it.

RIP: "George Young, pioneering songwriter and member of the Easybeats, dies at 70: Young co-wrote 'Friday on My Mind' and 'Love Is in the Air', and worked as a producer for AC/DC. Young, the brother of AC/DC's Angus and Malcolm Young, was a member of the Easybeats and co-wrote its classic hit 'Friday on My Mind'." Andrew Stafford said, "George Young should be remembered as the sonic architect of Australian rock music."
* "Friday on My Mind"

RIP: "Fats Domino: Rock and roll legend dies aged 89: [...] The New Orleans singer sold more than 65 million records, outselling every 1950s rock and roll act except Elvis Presley. [...] Elvis Presley referred to Fats Domino as "the real king of rock n roll" and Paul McCartney reportedly wrote the Beatles song Lady Madonna in emulation of his style."

Alexis Petridis in the Guardian, "Fats Domino: a huge talent who inspired the Beatles, ska and bling: The boogie-woogie master, who has died aged 89, shaped the course of popular music over and over again."

Michael Gray in the Guardian, "Fats Domino obituary: giant of American music: Rock'n'roll star who was crucial in breaking down the musical colour barrier and proved enormously influential."

David Brown in Rolling Stone, "Fats Domino, Rock and Roll Pioneer, Dead at 89: Genial singer behind "Blueberry Hill" and "Ain't That a Shame" helped popularize early rock and roll."

Amanda Petrusich in The New Yorker, "The Inescapable Fats Domino"

Fats Domino live in concert

21:32 GMT comment


Thursday, 19 October 2017

With every mistake, we must surely be learning

We Can Have Nice Things: "We CAN have nice things. We can provide a well-paying job for anyone who wants one. Medicare-for-All. Child care. Tuition-free public college and excellent public schools. Modern infrastructure including high-speed rail from city to city. We CAN have nice things that make our lives better. The US government issues its own currency. That means We the People can spend on what we want and need without worrying about 'how to pay for it.' We just pay for it by issuing money. The government can't go bankrupt."

Charlie Pierce, "If the Democrats Don't Learn This Lesson, They Deserve to Lose Forever: Progressive candidates can win anywhere. Contest every race."

Apparently, the Trump administration's trade reps are doing a better job than you'd expect. You know this because: "Chamber calls many Trump administration NAFTA proposals 'dangerous'" And the Chamber is against those changes for the usual reasons, too. "In an unusual turn, the AFL-CIO — which on Thursday gave the Trump administration an "F" for the openness of the negotiations — came to the defense of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who is spearheading the NAFTA talks. 'The U.S. Chamber's negative reaction to even discussing creative trade solutions reveals a lot about how much corporate CEOs benefit under the NAFTA status quo,' AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement Friday. He also accused the business group of trying to keep 'the same old broken trade rules' at the expense of working people."

I've always found the "libertarians" a good place to get a bitter laugh, not least because of their ludicrous argument that the right to bear arms will protect us from tyranny. Never mind that hundreds of years of history already show that tyrants can take over without ever troubling about citizens with guns — the Russian people had guns, as did the German people — but they still say this as if it had any foundation at all. (It's not even the reason for the Second Amendment, which had more to do with George Washington's disgust at how badly untrained and unregulated militias performed, and the founders' hope that well-regulated local militias would prevent the existence of standing armies. Alas, no.) But with the data showing that guns aren't much use for self-defense and a stadium full of people with guns would only have resulted in more deaths rather than fewer in the most recent high-profile shooting tragedy, Matt Taibbi says, "The Gun Lobby Is Down to Its Last, Unconvincing Excuse: Las Vegas rips apart the "good guy with a gun" justification, leaving only a flawed constitutional take to justify the madness. [...] Here's my question about that. Where were all these heroic tyrannophobe gun owners during the unprecedented expansion of police and surveillance powers that took place after 9/11? Answer: nowhere. We didn't hear them shrieking about habeas corpus becoming a joke in the Bush years, or torture and extrajudicial assassination becoming standard practices. We didn't hear them protesting the vast expansion of the classification of government documents, or complaining about the widespread abuse of material witness statutes, the national security letter provision of the Patriot Act, or a hundred other problems. Nor did they ever protest aggressive new domestic enforcement policies like stop-and-frisk and predictive policing, for the obvious reason that those programs were mostly directed against minorities in poor neighborhoods." It's even weirder than that, when you consider how much they hated Obama and kept talking about what a fascist dictator he was — and he even declared himself to have the right to kill American citizens without trial, and did so — but they didn't exactly overthrow the tyrant, did they?

Zach Carter, "Trump's Tax Plan Is An Act Of Political Domination By The Rich: But at least we don't have to pretend it isn't. Most Americans suffer from the unfortunate delusion that economic problems are violations of some mathematical order. When recession, severe inflation or other hard times engulf society, it is because the sacred equations have been angered. If we adjust the right variable just so, a set of very important numbers will respond appropriately, and a process of mystical, self-sustaining prosperity will begin. Knowledge of these secret statistical potions is closely guarded, and its practitioners deploy sophisticated abstractions to explain away common-sense calls for reform. Why do so many people work 60-hour weeks for poverty wages while a few luxuriate in the fabulous returns of interest-bearing assets? Why are the citizens of Puerto Rico threatened by a deadly social collapse while the fruit of the island's labor is shipped to Wall Street bondholders? The answer surely cannot be that some wealthy members of our society are exercising political power over the lives and incomes of others. We must consider growth, productivity, liquidity, gross domestic product and the debt-to-GDP ratio. But at the heart of every important economic issue are simple and straightforward power relationships. When you are in debt, someone else has financial power over the ordering of your affairs. Wealth enables rich people to buy their way out of troubles that overwhelm the lives of the poor. For much of our history, the American government granted some people the right to own other people. Economic problems are political problems. They have always been so; they can never be otherwise."

Zack Carter and Ben Walsh, "Congress Is Doing A Huge Favor For BofA While No One Else Watches: WASHINGTON ? House and Senate committees will consider an obscure bill called the 'Fair Access to Investment Research Act' on Thursday. It will not be a major media event. The bill, which will likely sail through Congress, will not cause a new financial crisis, bar millions from accessing health insurance or undermine any foreign policy alliances. But it will help one company — Bank of America — make money by avoiding lawsuits. [...] But even if Democrats do stop it ? Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has filed an amendment that would eliminate one of the most glaring problems with the bill ? the fact that a favor for Bank of America is the source of bipartisan cooperation on Capitol Hill speaks volumes about congressional priorities." The bill passed in the House.

"The U.S. Voted Against a U.N. Resolution Condemning Death Penalty for LGBTQ People: President Donald Trump's administration is facing strong backlash from civil rights groups after voting against a U.N. resolution that condemns using death penalty to punish 'consensual same-sex relations.' The U.N. Human Rights Council approved the measure on Friday with a 27-13 vote, with seven countries abstaining. The United States, led by Amb. Nikki Haley, voted for an amendment to the resolution that said the death penalty was not necessarily a human rights violation, and voted against amendments urging countries to stop using experimental drugs in executions. [...] The Trump administration's vote is nothing new — presidents from both parties have long objected to U.N. resolutions critical of capital punishment. In December 2016, for example — in the final weeks of Obama's presidency — the U.S. voted against a resolution urging states not to execute minors, pregnant women, and the intellectually disabled.

Russ Feingold in the Guardian, "Will the fate of America's democracy be decided by this US supreme court case? On Tuesday, the US supreme court hears oral arguments in Gill v Whitford. This will open the door for a potentially precedent-setting ruling on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering — the process of redrawing electoral districts in order to favor one party over another."

"Common Cause challenges partisan gerrymandering in NC: In a potentially landmark lawsuit, Common Cause and the N.C. Democratic Party Friday launched the nation's latest challenge to partisan gerrymandering. The suit, filed in a federal court in Greensboro, follows a long parade of redistricting litigation in North Carolina. It's also one of several suits around the country contesting the use of partisanship in drawing political boundaries."

"Early Medicaid Expansion Associated With Reduced Payday Borrowing In California: We examined the impact of California's early Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act on the use of payday loans, a form of high-interest borrowing used by low- and middle-income Americans. Using a data set for the period 2009-13 (roughly twenty-four months before and twenty-four months after the 2011-12 Medicaid expansion) that covered the universe of payday loans from five large payday lenders with locations around the United States, we used a difference-in-differences research design to assess the effect of the expansion on payday borrowing, comparing trends in early-expansion counties in California to those in counties nationwide that did not expand early. The early Medicaid expansion was associated with an 11 percent reduction in the number of loans taken out each month. It also reduced the number of unique borrowers each month and the amount of payday loan debt. We were unable to determine precisely how and for whom the expansion reduced payday borrowing, since to our knowledge, no data exist that directly link payday lending to insurance status. Nonetheless, our results suggest that Medicaid reduced the demand for high-interest loans and improved the financial health of American families. "

David Dayen in The Nation, "Special Investigation: How America's Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis — With Phony Mortgages!: Alleged fraud put JPMorgan Chase hundreds of millions of dollars ahead; ordinary homeowners, not so much. [...] Here's how the alleged scam worked. JPMorgan moved to forgive the mortgages of tens of thousands of homeowners; the feds, in turn, credited these canceled loans against the penalties due under the 2012 and 2013 settlements. But here's the rub: In many instances, JPMorgan was forgiving loans on properties it no longer owned."
* Sam Seder discussed the story with Dday on The Majority Report.
* Charlie Pierce asked, "How Is This Not Fraud?" Charlie, it is fraud.

PDF of "FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS: THE MEGABANK ACCOUNTABILITY AND CONSEQUENCES ACT: Running a federally-chartered or federally-insured bank is a privilege, not a right. When megabanks repeatedly exhibit indifference toward consumer protection and demonstrate that they are incapable of complying or unwilling to comply with U.S. laws and regulations, they should be promptly shut down. To date, the federal prudential banking regulators (The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Federal Reserve Board) have neglected to fully exercise their authorities to shut down such a megabank and hold culpable executives and board directors individually accountable. To that end, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, is introducing the Megabank Accountability and Consequences Act to require the federal prudential banking regulators to fully utilize existing authorities — such as the ability to shut down a megabank and ban culpable executives and directors from working at another bank — to stop megabanks that clearly and repeatedly engage in practices that harm consumers. The bill also clarifies and enhances the enforcement tool kit to ensure that megabanks and their executives will be held accountable for repeatedly breaking the law and harming consumers."

Ari Berman in Mother Jones, "Trump Election Commission Leader Sought a Radical Change to a Key Voting Law: New documents show that Kris Kobach wanted Trump to make it much harder to register to vote."

"IMF: higher taxes for rich will cut inequality without hitting growth: Analysis supports tax strategy of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour in UK — and undermines that of Donald Trump in US. Higher income tax rates for the rich would help reduce inequality without having an adverse impact on growth, the International Monetary Fund has said. The Washington-based IMF used its influential half-yearly fiscal monitor to demolish the argument that economic growth would suffer if governments in advanced Western countries forced the top 1% of earners to pay more tax. The IMF said tax theory suggested there should be 'significantly higher' tax rates for those on higher incomes but the argument against doing so was that hitting the rich would be bad for growth. But the influential global institution said: 'Empirical results do not support this argument, at least for levels of progressivity that are not excessive.' The IMF added that different types of wealth taxes might also be considered."

"US police killings undercounted by half, study using Guardian data finds: US police killings undercounted by half, study using Guardian data finds "

"Brazil's President Michel Temer Says Rousseff was Impeached for Refusing His Economic Agenda: Brazilian President Michel Temer let an open secret become explicitly clear during a speech to business and foreign policy leaders yesterday in New York. The country's elected and now-removed President, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached because of her position on economic policy, rather than any alleged wrongdoing on her part, her installed successor admitted. Temer's stunning, and seemingly unscripted, acknowledgement will surely bolster the view of impeachment opponents that Dilma's removal was a 'parliamentary coup d'etat.'"

I can't believe the number of hate threads that were generated by the announcement that one of the speakers on the first night of the women's convention would be Bernie Sanders. Sanders is not the only male speaker, and the headliner is Maxine Waters, but when some news outlets put out the story, you'd have thought he was the only speaker invited, to see some of the ridiculous nuttery on Twitter. (Hillary Clinton had already declined to attend.)

William Lazonick in The Harvard Business review, "Profits Without Prosperity: Five years after the official end of the Great Recession, corporate profits are high, and the stock market is booming. Yet most Americans are not sharing in the recovery. While the top 0.1% of income recipients — which include most of the highest-ranking corporate executives — reap almost all the income gains, good jobs keep disappearing, and new employment opportunities tend to be insecure and underpaid. Corporate profitability is not translating into widespread economic prosperity. The allocation of corporate profits to stock buybacks deserves much of the blame. Consider the 449 companies in the S&P 500 index that were publicly listed from 2003 through 2012. During that period those companies used 54% of their earnings — a total of $2.4 trillion — to buy back their own stock, almost all through purchases on the open market. Dividends absorbed an additional 37% of their earnings. That left very little for investments in productive capabilities or higher incomes for employees."

"How military outsourcing turned toxic: new Propublica logoIn August 2016, an inspector from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency arrived at Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana, a nerve center for the U.S. military's global air combat operations, to conduct a routine look at the base's handling of its hazardous waste. Barksdale, like many military bases, generates large volumes of hazardous materials, including thousands of pounds of toxic powder left over from cleaning, painting and maintaining airplanes. For years, Barksdale had been sending a portion of its waste to an Ohio company, U.S. Technology Corp., that had sold officials at the base on a seemingly ingenious solution for disposing of it: The company would take the contaminated powder from refurbished war planes and repurpose it into cinderblocks that would be used to build everything from schools to hotels to big-box department stores — even a pregnancy support center in Ohio. The deal would ostensibly shield the Air Force from the liability of being a large producer of dangerous hazardous trash. The arrangement was not unique."

"The Scariest Thing About Trump's Presidency Is How Little Has Actually Changed [...] This is the very best advice I could give anyone who's trying to piece together an intelligent worldview in an information age that is saturated in establishment propaganda: ignore the stories and watch events. Ignore the rude tweets, the Russia hysteria, the partisan feuds, the wedge politics etc., and look instead at who gets richer, who gets poorer, what actually happens to all the money, how that money influences politics, the legislation that actually gets passed, the military budget which continually expands, the military interventionism which marches on unimpeded, the surveillance network which continues to encircle the globe with an ever-tightening fist, the governments which fall into alignment with America and what happens to the governments that don't, etc. This will tell you everything you need to know about what's really happening in your world, who your real enemies are, and what humanity is really up against."

"Somtow wins European Cultural Achievement award: Thai composer, conductor and novelist Somtow Sucharitkul has won the 2017 European Award for Cultural Achievement."

"A Review of What Happened by an Author Who Insists He Has Never Heard of Hillary Clinton or the 2016 Election [...] We saw it happen not because Hillary Clinton is particularly wretched or terrible — no one person is so consequential — but because the depravity of our empire is straining under its own weight. Because it is barely able to tolerate its contradictions anymore. Hillary Clinton is not singularly responsible for any of this, but this book is not about Hillary Clinton, not really. It's about power. I meant that. It's about what you have to believe if you believe that an adequate response to the present moment consists of trusting the experts, recalibrating the polling computer, and returning the Democratic Party to power. It's about what to do if you missed what happened, if you forgot what happened, if you want all of this to happen again."

Adam Johnson at FAIR, "Media's Grim Addiction to Perseverance Porn [...] These stories are typically shared for the purposes of poor-shaming, typically under the guise of inspirational life advice. 'This man is proof we all just need to keep walking, no matter what life throws at us,' insisted Denver ABC7 anchor Anne Trujillo, after sharing one of those stories of a poor person forced to walk thousands of miles a year to survive. A healthy press would take these anecdotes of 'can do' spirit and ask bigger questions, like why are these people forced into such absurd hardship? Who benefits from skyrocketing college costs? Why does the public transit in this person's city not have subsidies for the poor? Why aren't employers forced to offer time off for catastrophic accidents? But time and again, the media mindlessly tells the bootstrap human interest story, never questioning the underlying system at work. [...] Journalism is as much — if not more — about what isn't reported as what is. Here a local reporter is faced with a cruel example of people falling through the cracks of the richest country on Earth, and their only contribution is to cherry-pick one guy who managed — just barely — to cling on to the edge. [...] It's part of a broader media culture of anecdotes in lieu of the macro, moralizing 'success' rather than questioning systemic problems. Perseverance porn may seem harmless, but in highlighting handpicked cases of people overcoming hardship without showing the thousands that didn't — much less asking broader questions as to what created these conditions — the media traffics in decidedly right-wing tropes. After all, if they can do it, so can you — right?"

Bill Black, "Is Politico or Third Way More Divorced from Reality? [...] I have written several times and documented that Third Way is a creature of, and devoted to, Wall Street's CEOs. Third Way's con is describing itself as 'centrist.' Wall Street CEOs are not centrist. They include the world's most powerful and destructive predators and parasites. The 'left, right, center' metaphor does not apply to a group like Wall Street's CEOs. The latest media sucker to fall for Third Way's con is Politico. Politico fell whole hog, calling Third Way a 'center-left think tank.' Fortunately, Google's recent purge of New America Foundation scholars has proved that 'think tanks' financed by elite corporate CEOs are oxymorons run by regular morons. The one thing you can never do as a scholar at a faux 'think tank' like Third Way is actually think — and then make public the perfidy of the corporate CEOs that fund the non-think tank. Third Way is Wall Street on the Potomac, so it is preposterous to call it 'center-left.' It keeps its corporate funders secret to maximize their corrupting influence. It is one of many Pete Peterson front groups."

"These are the Facebook posts Russia used to undermine Hillary Clinton's campaign: Russian Facebook and Twitter accounts masqueraded as pro-Trump Americans when they took aim at Clinton." The idea that anyone who would otherwise have voted for Clinton would have paid attention to this stuff is just completely laughable.

"Beautiful Girls Scribe Scott Rosenberg On A Complicated Legacy With Harvey Weinstein

"'We Are Not the People We Have Been Waiting For': Prominent Progressive Resigns from State Central Committee [...] So many young people were involved. Tech savvy and invested. There was no hiding from mistakes and the doors were wide open on everything. They were reading state party constitutions and by-laws. They came to meetings prepared after sharing information on how things were supposed to be done only to find that nothing was done the way it was written on most occasions. People that had been involved for a long time took this to be an 'invasion' of the party. A huge divide started that was much larger than the 'Bernie v Hillary' thing but everyone likes to blame it on that and continue to do that to this day. Do you see it? Do you see it that way? Or is it just still a 'Bernie v Hillary' thing to you? We play our own game of 'the rules apply only to those outside our circle'"

This is from last March, a tweetstorm Teresa compiled together in a single post for Making Light, on Wealth, risk, and power.

RIP: "Tom Petty, a Mainstay of Rock With the Heartbreakers, Dies at 66 [...] Tony Dimitriades, Mr. Petty's longtime manager, said in a statement that Mr. Petty suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, Calif., early Monday morning and was taken to the U.C.L.A. Medical Center, where he could not be revived. He was pronounced dead at 8:40 p.m. with family members, friends and bandmates present at the hospital, Mr. Dimitriades said." There was a long period on Monday night when There was some confusion about whether the artist was actually dead, after a premature announcement by the local police apparently beginning while he was still on life support though showing no brain function. It was later announced that he was taken off life support but there was no announcement that he had died, leading to a Twitter thread on Schroedinger's Tom Petty. But it was clear from the first announcement that a third chair was empty for the Travelling Willburys, Roy Orbison and George Harrison having gone on before, leaving only Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne.

See the trailer for The Brainwashing of My Dad. "As filmmaker Jen Senko tries to understand the transformation of her father from a non political, life-long Democrat to an angry, Right-Wing fanatic, she uncovers the forces behind the media that changed him completely: a plan by Roger Ailes under Nixon for a media takeover by the GOP, The Powell Memo urging business leaders to influence institutions of public opinion, especially the universities, the media and the courts, and under Reagan, the dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine."

Atrios linked this and I thought, "That's perfect." Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (And, my god, that boy sure looks like his dad.)

03:12 GMT comment


Sunday, 01 October 2017

Nobody wanna take the blame

Charlie Savage, "E.P.A. Threatens to Stop Funding Justice Dept. Environmental Work: WASHINGTON — Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator who has aggressively pushed to dismantle regulations and downsize the organization, is threatening to reach outside his agency and undermine the Justice Department's work enforcing antipollution laws, documents and interviews show."

"House votes to curb asset seizures: The House voted Tuesday to curb the law enforcement practice of seizing cash and property from people who are suspected of illegal activity but who have not necessarily been charged. A bipartisan group of lawmakers pushed an amendment to a government-spending package for 2018 that would prohibit the Trump administration from using funds to remove restrictions on the use of asset forfeiture. The practice allows law enforcement to seize cash and property and keep at least part of the proceeds."

"New Fed Data: Black Wealth Cratered Under Obama: The Federal Reserve released the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances today. This is the first wealth survey of its kind since 2013. By comparing the 2007 and 2016 versions of the SCF, we can see roughly how the various racial groups fared under Obama. What you see in the below graphs is that the top 2 percent of black families improved their position; the top 2 percent of Latino families improved their position; and the top 22 percent of white families improved their position. Virtually everyone else was worse off in 2016 than in 2007 in terms of their family's net worth." (The graphs make sense if you mouse over them.)

Bernie Sanders & Amy Klobuchar debate Lindsay Graham & Bill Cassidy about the horrible Obamacare repeal bill, full video. Boy, that Cassidy is one clever weasel.

"How Bernie Sanders got Democrats to stop worrying and embrace single-payer [...] Over the past several months, Sanders has convinced 24 of the biggest liberal advocacy organizations and nearly one-third of Senate Democrats to co-sponsor his updated Medicare-for-all bill. It is a sharp reversal for the party that once relegated the idea to its radical fringe: Just two years ago, Sanders couldn't find a single co-sponsor for his bill. [...] The combined result of Sanders's carrot-and-stick approach — the implicit threat of criticism from the outside, the concessions from within — is a single-payer bill that 15 Senate Democrats have publicly said they will support, and an abrupt transformation in a political party's health care policy position that almost nobody could have guessed even a few months ago. "

But "Democratic leaders keep distance from Sanders single-payer plan: Democratic support for a single-payer health-care system has grown by bounds this year, attracting more lawmaker endorsements than any time in the past. But one group is conspicuously not on board: party leaders. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday previewed the much-anticipated release of Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) 'Medicare for all' bill by taking the notable step of refusing to throw their weight behind it. 'Right now I'm protecting the Affordable Care Act,' Pelosi told a group of reporters in the Capitol."

Back in September, Gaius Publius was saying that the sudden emergence of Democrats signing on to Sanders bill was open rebellion that forced our enemies to show us where they stand rather than the usual "closed rebellion" where everything is done quietly behind closed doors so that the establishment can be protected from being seen for what they are by the public. "If you keep these points in mind as the debate evolves, you'll be well-positioned to understand what ensues," he wrote at the time. Howie Klein's "The Third Way Has Always Been A Fancy Excuse For Politicians Taking Massive Special Interest Bribes is almost a companion piece toward the end, with details confirming that sentence. And also reminding people of what a disgusting piece of crap Tony Blair is, I'm happy to say.
* Howie also notes that while even the worst Democrats are not quite as bad as the worst Republicans, it just isn't true to say that every Democrat is better than any Republican.

Dean Baker, "Why Don't Normal Liability Rules Put Equifax Out of Business? [...] In terms of breaches, we don't know how much damage people will suffer from the most recent one but suppose we just give a nominal amount, say $100, to each of the 140 million victims. This would come to $14 billion. If people suffer serious damage in the form of stolen identities leading to phony credit charges and stolen assets, the damages would be hugely higher. The revenue (not profits) of the three credit agencies is $10 billion a year, If these companies faced liability in accordance with the actual harm caused by preventable errors, it is difficult to see how they could stay in business. This raises the question of what sort of legal liability the credit agencies face."

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "Trump made his very first halfway smart political move. Too bad it's too late. The federal debt limit, an archaic holdover from a century ago, needs to be raised again soon. Remarkably, President Trump has reached an agreement with congressional Democrats not just to raise it, but to look into abolishing it altogether — drawing the fury of the congressional Republican leadership. What is perhaps most surprising is that it took this long for Trump to try this tactic — and long past when it would have possibly worked. Folks — and by the way, everyone is saying this, you'd be surprised — the president is stupid."

Republicans claim that passing their health care bill "keeps campaign promises" — but it doesn't look much like the campaign promises Trump made. Fortunately, it all fell apart again when they couldn't get the votes.

Sam Seder had Marcy Wheeler on to explain the latest state of play. She seems more convinced than I am that Guccifer is with the Russians, but even she admits it's only what they say, and not what we can see.
* Sammy also had Stephanie Kelton on again for another tutorial on Modern Monetary Theory and how it works.

Charlie Pierce, "Chuck and Nancy Just Played Don Like a Fiddle."

David Dayen in The Nation, "Did President Trump Really Strike A Deal That Screwed Republicans?: The whole question revolves around whether Democrats actually want to play hardball. [...] All that said, Republican leaders might see this turn of events as positive, regardless of what they are saying in public. They had a packed schedule to deal with in September, and this allows them to put off some major decisions. Plus, they can place the blame with President Trump instead of themselves. It takes some pressure off leadership from the rank and file. To see this as truly good for Democrats, you have to believe that there's some endgame for which Chuck and Nancy are willing to hold out. Do people really think that Democrats would play games with the full faith and credit of the US government? I simply don't see them being that ruthless; this is a difference between the parties. Democrats generally aren't interested in crippling the government, but that's what they'd have to be willing to risk in order to succeed in the negotiations."

Alice Speri, "Israel Security Forces Are Training American Cops Despite History of Rights Abuses: It's not uncommon for residents of America's most heavily policed neighborhoods to describe their local cops as 'an occupying force.' Judging by where many U.S. police forces get their training, the description seems apt. Thousands of American law enforcement officers frequently travel for training to one of the few countries where policing and militarism are even more deeply intertwined than they are here: Israel."

Ari Berman, in Mother Jones, "A New Study Shows Just How Many Americans Were Blocked From Voting in Wisconsin Last Year [...] The study's lead author, University of Wisconsin political scientist Kenneth Mayer, says between roughly 9,000 and 23,000 registered voters in the reliably Democratic counties were deterred from voting by the ID law. Extrapolating statewide, he says the data suggests as many as 45,000 voters sat out the election. 'We have hard evidence there were tens of thousands of people who were unable to vote because of the voter ID law,' Mayer told me. "

In Harper's, "Crime and Punishment: Will the 9/11 case finally go to trial?"

Matt Stoller in The Nation, "How America Could Collapse: Supply chain shocks have already led to shortages of videotape and auto parts. Could food or medicine be next?"

Bernie Sanders' book tour took him to Stephen Colbert.

Bernie Sanders Explains What a Progressive Foreign Policy + National Security Strategy Look Like. There were a few phrases that made me cringe, but overall he is outlining a better approach, f'sure — a path to peace.
* Senator Sanders' interview with The Intercept, "Bernie Sanders: Saudi Arabia Is 'Not An Ally' And The U.S. Should 'Rethink' Its Approach To Iran

"Tom Perez, former U.S. labor secretary, to teach at Brown" So much for his being a better choice than Ellison because he would make party chair his full-time job....

Bloomberg, "Obama Goes From White House to Wall Street in Less Than One Year [...] But Jeff Hauser, who studies political corruption as head of the Revolving Door Project in Washington, said Obama should play by the same rules as other politicians because of his ongoing work with the Democratic Party. 'He's continuing to exercise the authority,' Hauser said, citing Obama's support for the party's redistricting committee and the push he gave Tom Perez in the race to head the Democratic National Committee. If he wants to play a role, 'he ought to forgo a few hundred thousand here and maybe a half-million there.'"

"Obama: 'The world has never been healthier, wealthier or less violent': Former president urges optimism and focus on progress at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation conference, despite shadow cast by Trump's UN speech." And despite the shadow cast by how these neoliberals have made the world a poorer and more violent place.

"ACLU of Missouri Files Lawsuit Against City of St. Louis for Unconstitutional Police Conduct: ST. LOUIS — The ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit today against the city of St. Louis for unlawful and unconstitutional actions against people during the Stockley verdict demonstrations of the past week."

Dday in The New Republic, "Why You Should Side With Google Against an Anti-Sex Trafficking Bill: People of all political stripes now argue for regulation that treats these companies as public utilities, like the telephone industry, or for stronger antitrust regulation — that is, to break up these giants. The first real legislative test amid this more hostile atmosphere comes Tuesday at a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee. Tech firms, in particular Google, are being criticized for quietly opposing a bipartisan bill that would let victims of sex trafficking sue websites that facilitate it. The companies contend that, while they oppose sex traffickers like Backpage.com, the bill would create a slippery slope toward limiting or removing all user-generated web content, the lifeblood of sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. It's hard to be coolly rational about heinous crimes like forced prostitution. But on the merits, this bill would have troubling implications for free speech online. As this backlash against Silicon Valley grows, we need to be careful that a desire to constrain tech monopolies doesn't harm the rest of us."

A little research from Hamline University professor David Schultz, "Swing Counties and Why Clinton Really Lost? It Wasn't Sanders Fault...It was Hers."

Democratic pollster, Stanley Greenberg, on "How She Lost [...] The campaign's approach senselessly and increasingly drove up Trump's margin in white working-class communities, tipping Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The analytics model built around these assumptions was so simple-minded it portended disaster. Despite overwhelming evidence that the Democratic base wasn't consolidated or excited, the campaign believed Trump's tasteless attacks and Clinton's identification with every group in the rainbow coalition would produce near universal support. Thus, they stopped trying to persuade voters and measured only the probability of support for Hillary. The campaign's task was turning out those Clinton voters, and they fell frustratingly short."

"A massive new study reviews the evidence on whether campaigning works. The answer's bleak: In general elections, campaigns' attempts to win swing voters appear to not work at all. [...] This doesn't mean that political campaigns never matter. Kalla and Broockman find that these activities can persuade voters in primary elections and during ballot-initiative campaigns. Campaigns can still effectively turn out voters whose minds are already made up about a candidate, and voters can and do change their opinions when prompted by politicians they already support (something a previous study of Broockman's confirmed)."

"The Boring Story of the 2016 Election: Donald Trump did not win because of a surge of white support. Indeed he got less white support than Romney got in 2012. Nor did Trump win because he got a surge from other race+gender groups. The exit polls show him doing slightly better with black men, black women, and latino women than Romney did, but basically he just hovered around Romney's numbers with every race+gender group, doing slightly worse than Romney overall. However, support for Hillary was way below Obama's 2012 levels, with defectors turning to a third party. Clinton did worse with every single race+gender combo except white women, where she improved Obama's outcome by a single point. Clinton did not lose all this support to Donald. She lost it into the abyss. Voters didn't like her but they weren't wooed by Trump.

Shock Tactics: In the most detailed study ever of fatalities and litigation involving police use of stun guns, Reuters finds more than 150 autopsy reports citing Tasers as a cause or contributor to deaths across America. Behind the fatalities is a sobering reality: Many who die are among society's vulnerable — unarmed, in psychological distress and seeking help."

"Democrats are losing their most loyal voters: black women. [...] These voters aren't running into the arms of Republicans, of course — just one percent of respondents said the GOP best represents them. But the percentage of black women who said neither party represents them jumped from 13 percent in 2016 to 21 percent in 2017. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat in the Congressional Black Caucus, addressed the news after the poll's release at the Washington Convention Center. 'I respect independents. I understand independents,' she told the crowd, arguing that her party needs to do more to communicate its values. 'I've never said I'm in the Democratic Party because I like to party,' she said. 'I'm in there because of values.'"

"Obama pollster Cornell Belcher on the failures that led to President Trump: 'What happens to a centrist Democrat who can't hold the Obama coalition?': Trump didn't 'remake the electorate.' argues leading Democratic pollster. Instead, Hillary and her party blew it [...] Again, Trump didn't expand the Republican tent. He didn't bring in all these millions upon millions of new Republican voters. This was about Democrats losing, more so than Trump remaking the electorate and winning in some sort of profound and new way. It should not have been a winning percentage, right?"

Pierce, "You're Not Supposed to Say This Out Loud: Deficits are just a talking point when Democrats are in power."
* Atrios said much the same thing, "Nobody Ever Cared About The Deficit: The simplest proof of the fact that almost every political reporter was either dumb as rocks, happy to be lied to, or, most likely, was on board with the ideology that government spending money on anything except war is bad, was that they took deficit concerns seriously. Nobody cares about the deficit (and, mostly, they shouldn't!). [...] They don't care. They never cared. Republican presidents run up the deficit and Democratic ones bring it down, and after decades of this the Republicans are still the party of fiscal responsibility according to political journalists. Republicans hate spending any money for nice things and love tax cuts for rich people. That's it. I am a dumb blogger and I know this. You all get paid big salaries by our leading media outlets and you are stupid or liars."

"'I Wanted to Tell the Story of How I Had Become a Racist:' Historian Charles B. Dew: In The Making of a Racist, professor Charles B. Dew describes his evolution from a 'young Confederate' to an outspoken critic of racism."

RIP: Charles Bradley, soul singer, at 68: Sam Cooke sang about a change that was gonna come. It spread optimism to black Americans. Charles Bradley, on the other hand, sang of moral corruption and turning to love to survive, because who knows when change will finally come."

RIP "Hugh Hefner: Playboy magazine founder dies aged 91: Playboy Enterprises Inc said he passed away peacefully at home in Los Angeles, from natural causes." (Playboy's own obit for Hefner is here.) A lot of feminists won't say this, but I will: Playboy was a great contributor to the sexual revolution, supporting reproductive rights and making sex something you could actually discuss and ask questions about. The Playboy Advisor I read when I was a teenager and young adult was thoughtful and not sexist at all, often giving truly useful advice to men and women alike. (I noticed in later years that he'd been replaced by someone else who wasn't nearly as good.) Its support for civil rights was undoubtedly a helpful addition to the discourse. Yes, famously, when an Ursula Le Guin story was published in its pages, she appeared as "U.K. Le Guin", but Playboy paid top dollar for science fiction stories (!), even to someone named "Ursula", as well as publishing, every month, some of the best interviews on topical issues of every kind. In 1965, Martin Luther King gave his longest interview ever to Alex Haley for Playboy; in a 1968 issue of Playboy, Haley interviewed George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party. (They had already published his interview with Malcolm X in 1963.) And of course, Playboy was there with it's timely interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which had already been scheduled for publication, by sheerest coincidence, to appear just after Lennon's murder. Hefner's fight to force the US Post Office to carry Playboy to subscribers through the mails was a major victory for free speech which still has impact today on both what's delivered to your front door and what is on the internet. And Hefner was there with the money Dick Gregory needed to pressure the FBI to find the bodies of three murdered civil rights workers. He wasn't the father of the sexual/revolution by any means, but he brought it to the public and fought to preserve it, and made civil rights a moral imperative for many who had probably given it little thought. That's no small thing.

Jay Rosen "Getting granular with the claim that Trump is some media wizard: That our President is a master of media manipulation is a view commonly expressed by American journalists. I doubt it." I've long wondered about this. What is it about journalists that makes them so willing to dance to Trump's tune?

This article is terrible framing and has some of the worst sentences I've seen on the subject. I really wish people wouldn't do this stuff. It's not illuminating and it just implies something that isn't true. Stoppit! And here's an article by someone else who doesn't like these sorts of articles. "Ta-Nehisi Coates, however, illustrates the debilitating limits of what 'identity politics' has now come to represent, something far from the radical and coalitional practice of the Combahee River Collective: a moralizing discourse which monopolizes the discussion of race, yet fails to propose either a coherent theory of racial oppression or a viable program for eliminating it. Coates deploys his considerable erudition and rhetorical flourish in service of sheer obfuscation — the story of whiteness as magic and Trump as sorcerer. Despite the gingerly placed historical references, in Coates's telling whiteness has no history. It is a malevolent force which surges from the netherworld in moments which can only be identified by the intensity of Coates's own feelings — the American Dream become Coates's personal nightmare."

Beat the Press, "Washington Post News Article Argues It is Better to Tax Work Than Vacant Property in London: Economists usually argue that it's best to tax the things you want discourage, like cigarettes, alcohol, and gasoline, not things you want to encourage, like work. That is why it is striking that the Washington Post could not find one economist who thought that a plan in London to tax vacant housing units is a good idea."

Alex Pareen, "You Are Jonathan Chait's Enemy [...] Something that is well-known to people who've read Chait for years, but may not be apparent to those who just think of him as a standard-issue center-left pundit who is sort of clueless about race, is that he is engaged in a pretty specific political project: Ensuring that you and people like you don't gain control of his party. I say 'you' because his conception of the left almost certainly includes you. He is not merely against Jill Stein voters and unreconstructed Trotskyites and Quaker pacifists. He means basically anyone to the left of Bill Clinton in 1996. If you support a less militaristic foreign policy, if you believe the Democratic Party should do more to dismantle structural racism and create a more equitable distribution of wealth, if you think Steve fucking King is a white supremacist, Chait is opposed to you nearly as staunchly as he is opposed to Paul Ryan."

Sam Seder did an interesting interview with George Monbiot about Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis on The Majority Report.

Paul Jay of Reality Asserts Itself talked with Thomas Frank about how the Democratic Party hates the base and has been trying to purge us since Clinton.

"How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America: America didn't used to be run like an old Southern slave plantation, but we're headed that way now. How did that happen?"

Christy Thornton: Narco States & Neoliberalism — MR Live — 9/11/17

"The Jones Act: The Law Strangling Puerto Rico [...] After World War I, America was worried about German U-boats, which had sunk nearly 5,000 ships during the war. Congress enacted the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a.k.a. the Jones Act, to ensure that the country maintained a shipbuilding industry and seafaring labor force. Section 27 of this law decreed that only American ships could carry goods and passengers from one United States port to another. In addition, every ship must be built, crewed and owned by American citizens. Almost a century later, there are no U-boats lurking off the coast of Puerto Rico. The Jones Act has outlived its original intent, yet it is strangling the island's economy. Under the law, any foreign registry vessel that enters Puerto Rico must pay punitive tariffs, fees and taxes, which are passed on to the Puerto Rican consumer. [...] The foreign vessel has one other option: It can reroute to Jacksonville, Fla., where all the goods will be transferred to an American vessel, then shipped to Puerto Rico where — again — all the rerouting costs are passed through to the consumer."

Katherine Krueger, "Hillary Clinton Will Never Understand What Happened [...] 'When someone shows you who they are, believe them,' Clinton said again and again on the campaign trail. Unfortunately for her, this goes both ways. Through decades of being a Washington insider, Clinton has shown herself to be a foreign policy hawk, a capitalist of the highest order, and an opportunist who's been tarred with the 'slime' of many scandals even she recognizes can never be fully washed away. Above all, Clinton has relentlessly embraced the notion that politics must bend to the world as it is — no matter how sordid — rather than imagine the world as it could or should be. It is this quality that she defends perhaps most zealously in What Happened, despite the fact that her unapologetic embrace of that ethos helped create the world that gave us Donald Trump. In 2016, Clinton showed people who she was. Voters in the crucial states that decided the race believed her, and rejected her. In What Happened, she shows us again. Nearly a year later, the image hasn't changed."

Sam Kriss in The Huffington Post, "What Should Have Happened In Hillary Clinton's Useless Book: An artless and inauthentic memoir, written by the absence of Clinton. [...] Vagueness seeps everywhere. Discussing her decision to launch a second presidential bid, Clinton protests that she wasn't simply after power. 'I wanted power to do what I could to help solve problems and prepare the country for the future. It's audacious for anyone to believe he or she should be President, but I did.' What problems? Solve them how? The answers reveal a strange antinomy of her liberal-centrist leadership cult. Clinton's policy team started using data and focus groups to work out what problems Americans were concerned with, and started scouring think tanks for solutions. Clinton is not partisan or ideological. She simply follows the facts. In other words, she did something that absolutely anyone else should be capable of doing. She is an exceptional individual who deserved to be president, precisely because she's just another cog in the bureaucratic machine. In the counter-democratic universe of establishment managerialism, elections are just another interview process for another government job; the winner should be the person with the most gold stars on their résumé, and we can trust that they're embedded enough in the mechanisms of government to use their authority properly. It's a politics of systems and social control: Power is always a question of efficiency and problem-solving, never one of justice. Trump, too, is a member of the New York ruling classes. He is also blissfully unencumbered by any cohesive ideology, preferring 'deals' (read: bipartisanship) and 'answers' (read: solutions). He is also someone who wanted power; not to do anything in particular with it, but because he thought he deserved it."

Bryce Covert in The New Republic, "Deadbeat Democrats: How Bill Clinton set the stage for the GOP's war on the poor. [...] In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan's talk of lazy 'welfare queens' and 'strapping young bucks' buying expensive steaks on the government's dime had turned welfare into a dirty word. By 1989, two-thirds of Americans thought welfare made people dependent and 'content' to stay poor. Feeling hemmed in by white voters who had responded to Reagan's racemongering about the shiftless poor guzzling up government benefits, Clinton decided to make a sort of Faustian bargain: He would 'reform' welfare in a way that would detoxify the politics around it, gambling that the move would create more support for a strong safety net in the long run. 'Once taxpayers started viewing the poor as workers, not welfare cheats, a more generous era would ensue,' The New York Times observed in 2000, summing up the rationale for Clinton's wager on welfare reform. 'Harmful stereotypes would fade. New benefits would flow.' Celebrating the law's passage in 1996, Clinton repeated his Reaganesque justification for sweeping change. 'The current welfare system undermines the basic values of work, responsibility, and family,' he declared, 'trapping generation after generation in dependency.' In the end, though, Clinton never succeeded at getting more generous benefits for the poor. And his bet on 'reform' turned what was once a helping hand into a slap in the face — and an utter disaster for the vulnerable. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act ended the Great Society promise of cash benefits for all families in need. It imposed work requirements on recipients of welfare benefits, and allowed states to erect further barriers to aid. And it plunged millions into even deeper poverty. In 1996, nearly 70 percent of poor families received benefits. Today it's less than 25 percent. And that's not because they all found decent jobs and developed the sense of 'personal responsibility' and 'self-sufficiency' that Clinton loved to preach about. According to a study of low-income single mothers, more than 20 percent go for months at a time with neither employment nor benefits. Since 1995, the number of Americans living on $2 or less a day has nearly tripled — including some three million children."

"Centrism.biz: Scathing New Parody Site Rips Mask Off 'Zombie Neoliberalism' [...] But what about an online home for the dedicated centrists: for those who prefer small ideas to large ones; for those who oppose both fascism and universal healthcare; for those who take money from the murderous Saudi regime and still claim to value human rights? Centrists, the wait is finally over: Centrism.biz is the brand new, one-stop shop for all things 'moderate.'"

"15 Percent? 20 Percent? It Doesn't Matter, Because Tipping Culture Is Fundamentally Broken: Leaving a tip isn't only payment for services, it is a mark of social and economic superiority -- which is why workers in the US resisted the system in the 19th century."

"What sex workers want should be a vital part of feminist politics [...] Whether or not sex work should be considered a job or a form of violence against women is a question that has featured in feminist debates for decades. Those who fully advocate decriminalising sex work do so because they believe that granting sex workers the support, labour rights and legal protections of any other type of employment is the best way to help them stay safe."

Was Malcolm in the Middle actually a socialist masterpiece? "Malcolm in the Middle showed that the promises of neoliberalism had always been false."

"Orange is the new green: How orange peels revived a Costa Rican forest: PRINCETON, N.J.--In the mid-1990s, 1,000 truckloads of orange peels and orange pulp were purposefully unloaded onto a barren pasture in a Costa Rican national park. Today, that area is covered in lush, vine-laden forest. A team led by Princeton University researchers surveyed the land 16 years after the orange peels were deposited. They found a 176 percent increase in aboveground biomass -- or the wood in the trees -- within the 3-hectare area (7 acres) studied. Their results are published in the journal Restoration Ecology."

"New Martin Luther-Shaped Amazon Echo Will Rudely Answer All Your Theology Questions"

"If Bernard Black Quotes Were Motivational Posters"

First Look At David Tennant & Michael Sheen From Good Omens

KINGSMAN: The Golden Circle Trailer

Roller Dreams premiers in London in the first week of October.

Charles Bradley, "The World (Is Going Up In Flames)"

17:53 GMT comment


Monday, 11 September 2017

You might think I'm crazy

Dept. of Google Doing Evil:
Note: Barry C. Lynn mentioned herein is a different fellow from Barry W. Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Both are normally referred to only as "Barry Lynn".
* NYT: "Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant: WASHINGTON — In the hours after European antitrust regulators levied a record $2.7 billion fine against Google in late June, an influential Washington think tank learned what can happen when a wealthy tech giant is criticized. The New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family's foundation since the think tank's founding in 1999. That money helped to establish New America as an elite voice in policy debates on the American left and helped Google shape those debates. But not long after one of New America's scholars posted a statement on the think tank's website praising the European Union's penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had been chairman of New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group's president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar. [...] Ms. Slaughter told Mr. Lynn that 'the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,' according to an email from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team — nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows — would be exiled from New America."
* Matt Stoller at The Huffington Post, "Citizens Against Monopoly: As Google aims to consolidate complete power over discussion and free expression, it is time to heighten public urgency and pushback. [...] In late June, the European competition authority handed down a decision against Google for monopolizing the search market and suppressing rivals. It was a classic case of anti-competitive behavior, and the EU made the right decision. What's interesting, however, is not the decision, but what happened next across the ocean in Washington, D.C. My group, the Open Markets Program at New America, researches and studies monopoly power. Barry Lynn began this research 15 years ago, and has been building the necessary intellectual and historical grammar to understand the deep dysfunction in our corporate and political sectors. In response to the EU decision, Lynn sent a statement lauding the action. In response, Google had our group kicked out of our parent think tank, New America. Ken Vogel at the New York Times did the story on the specifics of how this happened. The combination, of the misbehavior in the search market and the attempt to suppress research into how Google operates, shows that the actual issue at hand is one of political power."
* Matthew Yglesias at Vox, "A leading Google critic's firing from a Google-funded think tank, explained: Forget it, Jake. It's Washington. [...] Google seems to have implicitly or explicitly used its financial clout to pressure New America to dissociate itself from Lynn, and now Lynn and his team are leaving New America and (apparently with some funding in hand) creating a new organization — Citizens Against Monopoly. In this particular case, Google's heavy-handed tactics seem more likely than not to backfire. But the case sheds light on the growing tendency of companies to use think tanks as essentially stealth lobbyists, and underscores the ways in which their priorities can shape the research agenda in Washington, even if it typically happens in more subtle ways." As long as Google was on the side of the consumer against telecoms companies, things were cozy. "What makes Google somewhat unusual for such a big company is that it's fairly closely aligned with the Democratic Party. Dozens of people moved from jobs at Google to jobs in the Obama administration, and vice versa, over its eight-year span. Schmidt was a major Hillary Clinton donor. More tellingly, Schmidt owns a company called Civis Analytics that does an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes data work for Democratic Party campaigns. This alignment grows out of both cultural affinity between Democrats and Google on social issues, and also years of regulatory struggle that often saw Google, Democrats, and consumer groups on one side pitted against telecommunications industry incumbents." But when it comes to anti-trust, Google is clearly on the other side, and they don't like it.
* Zephyr Teachout at The Interecept, "How I Got Fired From a D.C. Think Tank for Fighting Against the Power of Google"

Weirdly, Tucker Carlson gave sympathetic coverage to the story, including an interview with Matt Stoller.
* But Kashmir Hill says this isn't the first time. "Yes, Google Uses Its Power to Quash Ideas It Doesn't Like — I Know Because It Happened to Me."

And anti-monopoly arguments are penetrating. Even The Wall Street Journal takes "A Provocative Look at the Harm From Corporate Heft [...] That can be good: size and scale can enable companies to reduce costs, invest in better products and compete globally. But a provocative new study concludes the opposite. It found that in recent decades a lack of competition has driven up prices, hurting U.S. growth, wages and labor-force participation.

"How the Democratic Party Is Learning to Love Being Anti-Monopoly: Democrats just unveiled the opening salvo to their attempts to take back Congress. It sounds like the Warren and Sanders playbook — but the roots go deeper."

Marshall Steinbaum at The Roosevelt Institute, "A Real Monopoly Moment: The news that Barry Lynn's Open Markets group has been evicted from its DC think tank home, New America, for crossing the interests of its major funder, Google, is a legitimately shocking development. This development crystalizes the concerns about monopoly power that we at Roosevelt have been pointing out these past few years — along with our like-minded colleagues who have set up shop at the new Citizens Against Monopoly. Evidence is mounting that market power is causing economic problems: stagnant growth, rising inequality, slack labor markets, and vacant storefronts and factories. It should surprise no one that this excess power is now threatens intellectual freedom and inquiry. Concentrated power does not appreciate being called out."

Here's a good 2013 article by Lynn, on an earlier era of anti-trust action, "Estates of Mind: The answer to America's techno-malaise is to force big corporations to compete more. And to open their patent vaults. [...] Or consider the business software giant Oracle. Its CEO, Larry Ellison, once said that acquiring another company was 'a confession that there's a failure to innovate.' Then in 2004 Ellison began to gobble up precisely those competitors most likely to force Oracle to innovate. This included PeopleSoft, Siebel, Sun Microsystems, and more than eighty other firms. The story is not much different at Google, which has vacuumed up more than 120 former competitors, along with their products, patents, and, often, their scientists and engineers. If you think of Google as an innovative company, remember that it was the smaller companies it swallowed that actually developed most of its key components. These include YouTube, DoubleClick, and the ITA airline reservation system, as well as ten search companies that no longer compete with Google because Google now owns them. Much the same is true of Intel, Corning, Pfizer, and Microsoft. These giants don't merely set standards for certain formats of semiconductors, glass, pharmaceuticals, and software. Their mastery over patents and markets empowers them to block or buy most any newcomer that might threaten their sovereignty. What technologies are developed, and how and where they are developed, is increasingly up to these small clubs of executives alone. [...] Nevertheless, problems soon emerged. By the mid-nineteenth century, American financiers had figured out how to use patent monopolies not merely to hobble rival innovators but also to erect corporate empires; by the turn of the twentieth century, they had largely perfected the art. One of the more notable instances saw J. P. Morgan grab control of the electrical patents of Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla, and then use the resulting 'pool' to control the entire electrical industry. One lawyer of that era even penned a primer for businessmen. 'Patents are the best and most effective means of controlling competition,' he wrote. Sometimes, he added, patents 'give absolute command of the market, enabling the owner to name the price without regard to cost of production.' The first coherent reactions against such abuse of patents also date to this time. In 1900, political scientist Jeremiah Jenks proposed using antitrust law to compel giant companies to license their patents."

David Dayen at The New Republic, "Democrats Face an Important Anti-Monopoly Test: How the party treats Trump's pick for antitrust enforcement will speak volumes about its commitment to fighting corporate consolidation. [...] The authority to change those guidelines rests with the head of the DOJ's antitrust division. So the Delrahim nomination suddenly puts the Democrats' credibility on the line. It's highly unlikely Delrahim would upend the consumer welfare standard. He praised it in this 2003 speech from when he served in the Justice Department under George W. Bush, arguing that 'increased use of economic thinking has transformed federal merger analysis.' Analysts at Hughes Hubbard put Delrahim 'within the mainstream of the last several decades' antitrust orthodoxy.' That's just what Democrats, in A Better Deal, claim to want to break from."

Best Protest Ever: "Dinosaur suit-wearing protesters march on Washington to protest Pres. Trump's plan to slash the budget for national service programs."

An Unhinged Rant about Harvey.

An Evening with Bernie Sanders: Riverside Church, NYC 8/28/17

David Dayen on how we are, "Canada's China: Buried amid NAFTA negotiations this week was a fun little nugget: we are Canada's China. Our corporate titan-backed rollout of "right to work" principles in state after state has denied a level playing field for Canadian manufacturers, which is all the U.S. ever says we want in trade negotiations. So Canada decided to call us on it."

Dday at The Intercept, "The Politics Of The Dream Act Seem Pretty Easy, But Some Democrats Are Still Screwing It Up: IF SENATE DEMOCRATS were united in 2010, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children would already be on the path to citizenship. A vote on the DREAM Act held after the disastrous midterm elections got three Republican votes, enough to break a filibuster at the time if Democrats held firm. But six Democratic defections ' five no votes and one abstention ' sunk the bill, leading then-President Barack Obama to eventually establish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, to protect the 'Dreamers.' [...] In other words, Congress is falling into two camps: not for and against a DREAM Act, but for and against voting on a DREAM Act by itself. And calling for a comprehensive immigration solution — which Congress has failed to agree on for decades, even when the parties were far less polarized — is pretty close to being against anything getting done. It's a cheap way to earn support and respect from a public that overwhelmingly supports DACA — 76 percent in favor of allowing beneficiaries to stay, including 69 percent of Republicans — without having to vote to keep them in the country."

Brent Budowsky in The Hill, "How Sanders could save the Democratic Party in 2018: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the conscience of the Democratic Party at a moment in history when it is crucial that Democrats stand for profiles in courage as a historically crucial midterm election effectively begins this week with the return of Congress from recess. [...] Democrats stand on the brink of being on the winning side of an anti-Trump wave election in the 2018 midterm elections. But it is possible for Democrats to win a wave election in the popular vote in 2018 without winning enough seats to gain control of the House of Representatives or the Senate, which would perpetuate one-party control in Washington after the midterm votes are counted. [...] What Sanders and his supporters have, and many Democratic insiders and large donors lack, is the passion and commitment of knowing that they speak for hugely important issues at a dangerous moment for American politics."

"Democrats Put Eric Holder, Best Friend of Wall Street Banks, in Charge of Winning Back Main Street America: Holder was a "double agent" for high finance while serving as America's top cop. [...] Eric Holder, the former U.S. Attorney General, is the chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which promises to unfurl — a targeted, state-by-state strategy that ensures Democrats can fight back — when the political maps are drawn for U.S. House and state legislative races for the decade of the 2020s."

Late to the party, The New York Times appears to take vote-rigging seriously — but only if the Russians are in it. "Susan Greenhalgh, a troubleshooter at a nonpartisan election monitoring group, was alarmed. Most of the complaints came from Durham, a blue-leaning county in a swing state. The problems involved electronic poll books — tablets and laptops, loaded with check-in software, that have increasingly replaced the thick binders of paper used to verify voters' identities and registration status. She knew that the company that provided Durham's software, VR Systems, had been penetrated by Russian hackers months before." Let's see, where was the NYT 17 years ago....?

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "Did Kamala Harris just become a Bernie Bro? [...] Now Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a centrist darling, has taken up the major proposal of the left, by becoming a co-sponsor of Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-all bill. She may have become ... one of the Dread Bernie Bros. This is interesting, and not a little amusing, on multiple levels. But it's also a good opportunity to drive home the fact that the largest beneficiaries of an agenda of economic populism would be oppressed minorities, especially black and Latino Americans." (I was amused to see Cooper says the "centrists" who attacked him for an earlier article subjected him to a social media pile-on that was worse than he'd had from the Gamergate crowd. I tell ya, those HillBros are the worst. Meanwhile, Joy Reid is the poster child for deranged Clintonophilia.) "Jokes aside, what matters about this move is how it clarifies both recent history and the policy stakes. The problem with the argument about political success from Reid and Dean is that it's completely at odds with recent electoral results. Democrats just ran a compromising, centrist, big-donor candidate with a 3-2 money advantage and lost to the biggest buffoon in the history of presidential politics. Overall, the party is in its worst shape since 1928. If anybody is calling for a "purity test," it's people continuing to cling to such a world-historical failure."

"Best Looting of West Baltimore: The Hogan Administration Making Off with the Red Line Funds: It has been a shitty year for West Baltimore. But of all the crimes committed in 2015, nothing trumps Gov. Larry Hogan's decision to cancel the Red Line. The proposed subway-to-surface light-rail line — which had been planned for more than a decade and was supposed to break ground this year — would have linked impoverished West Baltimore to thousands of jobs and the rest of the city's transit system. To add insult to injury, the transportation funds that the O'Malley administration had been saving for the rail project were redistributed to wealthier, low-density counties for sprawl-inducing highway projects. Baltimore City literally received $0 from the 'savings.' So instead of providing life-changing access to employment, education, and health care to an area with the lowest car ownership in the state, that money is now going to projects such as widening roads in the middle of nowhere. And the $900 million the federal government was giving the MTA to cover its half of construction costs? That's now going somewhere other than Maryland, not to mention the millions of dollars already spent on planning and right-of-way acquisition. Even in a city known for crime, this is a heist for the history books."

"In Arizona, People Power Triumphs Over Dark Money in School Voucher Fight: In Arizona, people power just won a major victory over national dark money groups. In 90 days, more than 2,500 regular Arizona voters fanned out across the state, collecting more than 110,000 signatures to block a radical and highly controversial expansion of school vouchers pushed through by our GOP legislature and governor this spring. In a state that already ranks dead last in teacher pay and hovers just above last place for per-student spending, parents would now be able to take money out of local public schools to use toward private, home-school and religious education. With their signatures, 110,000 Arizona residents said 'enough.' Another cut to public school funding would be devastating. [...] Political insiders were quick to dismiss us. They said that the controversial law was more of the same, nothing to get hot and bothered about, and that Save Our Schools would turn out to a political blip in a state where residents are ready to walk away from their public schools. They were wrong.

"Federal Judge Bars Enforcement Of Texas' Voter ID Laws: The permanent injunction against the law follows years of litigation, but will be appealed. The Justice Department, which once backed the challengers to the state's voter ID law, reversed course once Trump took office — urging that recent amendments to the law eliminated its discriminatory effects."

"Emmanuel Macron's Waning Support Shakes Bid to Overhaul French Economy: PARIS — As Emmanuel Macron sets out to shake up France's rigid labor market, the young president is losing the public support he may need to weather protests by the country's powerful unions. [...] Unpopular budget cuts, accusations of an authoritarian approach and weeks of critical news coverage have sent Mr. Macron's approval ratings in a downward spiral. The latest poll, published in mid-August by public opinion firm Harris Interactive, found that 37% of voters approve of him, down from 51% in July and 59% in June. Given that drop, Mr. Macron will have to tread carefully in rolling out his labor reforms in September. For months, the 39-year-old president has been in talks with powerful labor unions in a bid to contain planned street protests. Now the prospect is growing that the ranks of those demonstrations could swell with students, retirees and other segments of French society unhappy with Mr. Macron's early steps." He wants to bust unions. He's going to be the Bill Clinton of France, wrecking the economy and calling it "reform".

This may be a bit late, but worth taking note of, from Jon Schwarz, "Happy Labor Day! There Has Never Been a Middle Class Without Strong Unions" points out a number of benefits of unions, including this one: "Dean Baker, co-director of a Washington, D.C. think tank called the Center for Economic and Policy Research, or CEPR, is arguably the only economist in the U.S. who both recognized the danger of the gigantic U.S. housing bubble in the mid-2000s and warned about it loudly. But Baker didn't appear out of nowhere. His first job in Washington was at the Economic Policy Institute, which was founded in 1986 with a five-year funding pledge from eight unions. His foothold there made it possible for him to eventually co-found CEPR and make his case on the housing bubble. (I know this about Baker because I briefly worked for CEPR long ago.)"

You can tell we've got a better pope. "U.S. Bishops' Labor Day message: 'Unions must retain and recover their prophetic voice': WASHINGTON (CNS) -- 'Excessive inequality' threatens cooperation among all people in society 'and the social pact it supports,' said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, in the U.S. bishops' annual Labor Day statement. In the message, Bishop Dewane cited the words of Pope Francis, who told factory workers in Genoa, Italy, 'The entire social pact is built around work. This is the core of the problem. Because when you do not work, or you work badly, you work little or you work too much, it is democracy that enters into crisis, and the entire social pact.' [...] Workers' legal rights to 'a just wage in exchange for work, to protection against wage theft, to workplace safety and just compensation for workplace injuries, to health care and other benefits, and to organize and engage in negotiations, should be promoted,' he added. 'Workers must be aided to come to know and exercise their legal rights. As an example, CCHD has supported the Don Bosco Workers in Westchester, New York, which has launched a successful campaign to combat wage theft. Persons returning from prison also need support to understand their legal rights as they seek new employment. CCHD has helped the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Cincinnati and elsewhere as they work with returning citizens to find stable and meaningful jobs.' Labor unions play an important role in this effort, according to Bishop Dewane, as he quoted from Pope Francis' remarks in June in an audience with delegates from the Confederation of Trade Unions: 'There is no good society without a good union, and there is no good union that is not reborn every day in the peripheries, that does not transform the discarded stones of the economy into its cornerstones.'"

"What Can Trump Learn From Local Governments? How Not To Handle Infrastructure: Public-private partnerships are frequently portrayed, especially by President Donald Trump, as an easy infrastructure fix for cities and states with tight budgets. But horror stories of so-called 'P3s' gone wrong have been making headlines for the past decade, often as a result of contractual clauses that prove costly for governments or keep information from the public eye. They don't have to be that way." This article is actually too kind on several fronts, since it singles out a handful of egregious examples but fails to point out that it's not just a few examples but rather the norm. There was a time when government and the commercial sector could work together for a common goal, but that was before the sole goal was to ensure massive profits to commercial industry even if it meant high costs go government at the expense of public services. If, for example, the goal were to get everyone to work, you might get the commercial sector to pitch in with government to build the New York subway system. Today, the goal of getting everyone to work would be pretty much on the back-burner, with transport merely a gimmick for skimmers to make more money.

Marcy Wheeler, "The Arpaio Pardon: You're Not the Audience: Meanwhile, Brennan Center's Mike German has started to track a disturbing trend. I believe he, like me, thinks the FBI is generally adequate at infiltrating white supremacist groups to disrupt the most outrageous attacks. But what law enforcement is not doing is policing right wing violence at protests the same way it polices left protests." It's about cops.

Bernie Sanders in Fortune: "Why Medicare-for-All Is Good for Business" — for one thing, it cuts out 33% of costs from administration alone, not to mention the extortion to fatten insurance company exec's wallets.

Robert Kuttner talked to Amy Goodman on Democracy NOW! about his surprising interview with Steve Bannon.

Another day, another reframing of the CCES study of who voted how and why. As Lambert notes, the original framing was about Obama voters who jumped ship to vote for Trump, but this week's frame is Sanders supporters who did so — and caused the election of Trump, because they were a bunch of racists. The data don't actually say that, though, and there are plenty of reasons to think other factors were involved, even for these people who clearly had no intention to vote for a status quo candidate of either party. (It shouldn't be forgotten that of actual Democrats, more Clinton-supporting Democrats defected to McCain in 2008 than Sanders-supporting Democrats defected to Trump. That's a particularly interesting jump since, policy-wise, there was virtually no difference between the two Democratic candidates in 2008 beside sex and race. This was not the case in the 2016 race, where differences in the records and approaches of the two contenders for the Democratic nomination were significant.) The study seemed to use views on "trade" as an indicator of whether views on the economy or simple racism were the strongest motivators for these Trump voters, but, "Let me remark here that other factors that correlate with voting for Trump include poor credit scores, battlefield casualties, employment situation, and deaths of despair. These do not seem to have been considered by CCES, or if considered were not brought forward by Schaffner, and it is not clear to me that views on trade or race are adequate proxies for them."

Meanwhile, "Bernie Sanders, Nation's Highest Profile Socialist, Once Again Voted Most Popular [...] According to the poll — conducted online from Aug. 17-22 with 2,263 Democrats, Republicans, and registered Independents — Sanders is currently the only politician in the whole country who "a majority of Americans actually like." Among the respondents, 54 percent view Sanders favorably with just 36 percent taking the opposite view. Compared to others included in the survey — including Republicans like McConnell, President Donald Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence as well as top Democratic leaders like Hillary Clinton, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California — it wasn't even close. 'When it comes to the most popular demographics," Bustle reports, "the poll showed Sanders scored highest among millennials — people aged 18-34, who expressed a 62 percent approval rating. Furthermore, 58 percent of women registered to vote view Sanders favorably, as do 55 percent of men.'"

Sections leaked from Clinton's book attack Sanders. Bernie brushes off her contradictory and delusional claims as looking backward when there are more important things to be concerned with. "I'm working overtime now to see we overturn Trump's decision on DACA, pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and next week I'll be offering a Medicare-for-all single-payer system." Her claims are pretty strange, though — says he stole her ideas even though he'd actually introduced a bill ten months before she mentioned the subject, and a direct government employment infrastructure program is not merely "bigger" or less realistic than her infrastructure bank idea, it's different, better, more likely to result in actual restoration and expansion of infrastructure, and cheaper than a lot of over-financialization. The media is full of talk about Clinton's book, but as Sophia A. McClennen in Salon notes, Bernie has a book out, too, and it isn't being talked about much. Maybe that's because it's not about the 2016 election, about making things better.

Amber A'Lee Frost in Current Affairs, "How To Write About Nazis: When covering the far right, the media has a duty to deliver both facts and context, fearlessly and stoically..." The mainstream press, however, seems to be writing just the kind of pieces they want — either adoring profiles or alarmist nonsense that makes them seem far more mainstream and popular than they are. "Above all, keeps things in perspective. It's true that the far right are coordinating, but they are not on the precipice of seizing power — the traditional right (that old Republican base) already have that squared away. The brownshirts are not at the gates just yet, but if they ever get there, we're not going to beat them back if we lose our heads."

"St. Louis gave minimum-wage workers a raise. On Monday, it was taken away [...] St. Louis is not the first city to see its minimum-wage ordinances undercut by state legislatures. The issue is a divisive topic across America, and there are 25 states that have minimum-wage preemption laws — when state governments approve laws that prevent local governments from passing such measures — including Kentucky and Iowa, according to Paul Sonn, general counsel with the National Employment Law Group."

"Louisiana floods destroy home of Christian leader who says God sends natural disasters to punish gay people: A flood has destroyed the home of a Christian lobbyist who preached that God sends natural disasters to punish gays. President of the controversial Christian group Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, described a deluge of 'near biblical proportions' hitting his Louisiana home." (This story is actually a year old, but it just seemed timely.)

Peter reminds us that, though most Britons know that homosexual sex ceased to be a specific crime in 1967, 25 years later we were still campaigning to make more sense of the law and stop the campaign of harassment by the police. "The Myth of Homosexual Decriminalisation: On the 50th Anniversary of the ground breaking 1967 Sexual Offences Act, the campaigner Peter Tatchell takes a sceptical look at its impact on Britain's gay communities."

"How SB Nation Profits Off An Army Of Exploited Workers [...] Twelve years ago, SB Nation began as a do-it-yourself venture, by and for fans, more a community of communities than a journalistic endeavor. It has since evolved and rebranded itself and emerged as Vox Media, which was valued at $1 billion in 2015 after a $200 million round of funding from NBCUniversal. The SB Nation network itself, consisting of 319 team websites, has remained in place, a vast operation read by millions of people every month and powered by unpaid and underpaid labor."

Beat the Press, "Opposition to Trade Deals: Brad DeLong's "Socialism of Fools" Might Look Like Common Sense to Those Outside the Fraternity: The usually sensible Brad DeLong is very unhappy with those who oppose the agenda that has passed for globalization over the last three decades. He argues that people are foolish for believing that globalization has had a major impact on employment and the distribution of income in recent years. I'll take the side of Brad's 'fools' in this matter."

Briahna Joy Gray in Current Affairs, "How Identity Became A Weapon Against The Left: Reaction to criticism of Kamala Harris shows how the voices of progressive people of color are erased...
* Michael Brooks discussed the article with Ms. Gray on The Michael Brooks Show.

Ian Welsh says "The World Is Going To Hell Because: You get the behaviour you reward."

RIP: "Science fiction author Brian Aldiss dies aged 92: The prolific writer behind more than 80 books and editor of 40 anthologies died at his Oxford home after celebrating his birthday." Well, that's the way to do it — become a revered grandmaster of your craft, and then have a nice bash to celebrate your 92nd birthday, go to bed and die in your sleep.

RIP: "Walter Becker, Steely Dan Guitarist, Dies at 67." Donald Fagen put out a statement. A fuller obit from the Guardian says Becker died of "an undisclosed illness." He was still touring as of last year. "Walter Carl Becker, singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, born 20 February 1950; died 3 September 2017" Rolling Stone obit, and New York Times obit.

"Bob Dylan Documentarian Murray Lerner Dead at 90: Oscar nominated filmmaker captured legendary performances at Newport Folk Fest, Isle of Wight." There's a nice little clip there of Mike Bloomfield talking about Sun House and Paul Butterfield.

RIP: "Richard Anderson, Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman Actor, Dies at 91." Other genre credits include Forbidden Planet. He was on most of the regular evening shows in the late '50s and early '60s, including Zorro, The Untouchables, and Perry Mason, as well as having a role in The Fugitive.

My new favorite TV show is Braindead. Unfortunately, it was cancelled after one short season, but it was lots of fun, and when it says, "Previously on Braindead..." Jonathan Coulton sings the recap wonderfully. It can't have had much promotion, we stumbled on it by accident while rummaging through Amazon Prime, having never heard of it before.

APOD: Milky Way over Chilean Volcanoes
* Diamond Ring in the Clouds
* The Crown of the Sun

"Photographer Kristina Makeeva Captures the Otherworldly, Frozen Beauty of the Earth's Oldest & Deepest Lake

Russian Photographer Kristina Makeeva Captures Girls In Dresses Against Backgrounds Of The Most Beautiful Places

119: Skiffle, The Beatles, and Billy Bragg — An interview that explains why George Harrison once said that if there was no Leadbelly there's no Lonnie Donnegan, and if there's no Lonnie Donnegan, there's no Beatles.

The Cars

03:24 GMT comment


Monday, 21 August 2017

Ain't it the truth babe?

A lefty woman was murdered, and others injured, in a terrorist attack on counter-protesters of a Nazi action. Naturally, the fascists claim the "alt-left" was violent, too. For example, they claim they "saw" an antifa protester clubbing a cop. In fact, what they saw was a doctored photo from Greece in 2009.

Marcy Wheeler: "Three Times Donald Trump Treated Vehicular Manslaughter as Terrorism" — but not Charlottesville. "Donald Trump gave the weakest statement on Charlottesville today, even going so far as calling on Americans to 'cherish our history,' in response to a Nazi mob responding to the removal of Confederate symbols."

Ian Welsh, "Oppressive Precedents Used Against Nazis Will Be Used Against the Left." The sudden urge to censor Nazis can feel compelling, but history shows that laws that can be used against either side are more likely to be used against the left, even when they are inspired by a desire to suppress Nazis. Even the guy at who terminated a Nazi site's account isn't happy about doing it, and for good reason: No one should have that power.

Sarah Jones in The New Republic, "Liberals Helped Create Trump's New Bogeyman, the 'Alt-Left' [...] We shouldn't be surprised that Trump is unwilling to blame white supremacists for the fatal violence that struck Charlottesville on August 12, even when one of their cohort murdered an innocent woman, Heather Heyer, who was protesting their presence in her city. We shouldn't be surprised because his every deed and utterance has shown that he either holds similar views or is merely content to let them flourish. Nor should we be surprised by his use of the term 'alt-left.' The only way he can excuse the actions of violent racists is to create a false equivalence. The press, Trump rambled, had treated the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville 'very unfairly.' But we should be at least partly surprised by the origins of this misleading and corrosive term. It is beloved by the likes of Sean Hannity and former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who have used it to denigrate Trump's opponents. And it has also been popularized — and legitimized — by red-baiting liberals who fear the rise of a progressive populist movement."
* Sam Kriss in Politico, "The Myth of the Alt-Left: It began as an epithet hurled from centrist liberals. Now it's backfiring."
* Stanislav Vysotsky in In These Times, "Drawing Equivalencies Between Fascists and Anti-Fascists Is Not Just Wrong — It's Dangerous: We must be very wary of any attempts to excuse or normalize white supremacy."
* "Stop Saying 'Alt-Left'"
* Liam Stack in The New York Times, "Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Antifa: A Glossary of Extremist Language [...] Researchers who study extremist groups in the United States say there is no such thing as the 'alt-left.' Mark Pitcavage, an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, said the word had been made up to create a false equivalence between the far right and 'anything vaguely left-seeming that they didn't like.'"

It was odd, Steve Bannon decided for some reason to phone Robert Kuttner himself at The American Prospect and give him an on-the-record interview explaining his thinking and strategy. "Steve Bannon, Unrepentant: Trump's embattled strategist phones me, unbidden, to opine on China, Korea, and his enemies in the administration," is how the piece is headed, and although some of his thinking is convoluted, much of what he says rings true. He's certainly right that there is no military solution to Korea. And he's also right when he says, "The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got 'em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats." Of course, the "centrist" concentration on ignoring — even encouraging — the economic immiseration of Americans of every race while focusing on the fortunes of a few female and minority rising stars of the Democratic right is not serving their party or the country very well. Meanwhile, if the Republicans can keep talking about protecting the American economy (and by implication, American jobs) from China, that's probably going to go down well with a substantial number of voters. It makes it sound like it's the GOP, not the Democratic Party, that wants to help Americans who are being pushed off of the economic ladder. And that appears to be why he lost his job. The Independent says, "The interview that got Steve Bannon fired: Mr Bannon was forced out of the White House after he revealed his ambition to 'crush' political opponents who take a stand against racism" — although it may have been his enemies within the administration who were worried about being "crushed". I certainly don't imagine Republicans in the White House had a problem with Bannon wanting to crush Democrats. Nor was Bannon saying he wanted to crush them because they "take a stand against racism". He was saying — quite rightly, I think — that if Democrats continue their self-destructive strategy of deflecting from the economy in favor of talking just about racism, they will lose. He may be a white supremacist nationalist, but he's not nearly as dumb as whoever wrote that subhead, or the Democrats who can't add 2+2 and see that we started losing as soon as Democrats started agreeing with Republican economic policies and promoting them.

Your typical centrists at work: "The real litmus test is whether pro-life democrats vote for pro-life legislation: Democratic political elites now publicly admit abortion extremism is costing Democrats the votes they need to compete nationally. We at SBA List welcome this admission. But will the Democrats really let pro-lifers' nose under the tent?" Everything in that is wrong. Democrats have always "let" anti-choicers into the party — indeed, even into the party leadership. There has never been a time when that was not so. And the idea that being pro-choice is "extreme" is one that comes from extremists, not from the mainstream of American thought, which largely supports Roe v. Wade.

"Elizabeth Warren fires back at centrist Democrats: ATLANTA — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took aim at centrist Democrats on Saturday in front of the one of the largest annual gatherings of progressives in the country. Two days after a new Democratic-aligned superPAC called New Democracy formed to push back against the party's ascendant left wing, Warren argued that Democrats would not be 'going back to the days of welfare reform and the crime bill.' 'We're not going back to the days of being lukewarm on choice,' Warren told a crowd of about 3,000 people at Netroots Nation. 'We're not going back to the days when universal health care was something Democrats talked about on the campaign trail, but were too chicken to fight for after they got elected.'"

"DCCC & Kings Landing Consultants Are Instructing Candidates How To Deceive Democratic Primary Voters On Healthcare [...] That's when it got interesting. He said the DCCC is now instructing their candidates to thwart progressives by pretending to be for Medicare-For-All to help them defeat progressive primary opponents who are for Medicare-For-All."

"Sanders to Big Pharma: Stop making Americans pay twice While both political parties have denounced the rising cost of prescription drugs, neither Democrats nor Republicans have done much to address the problem. But this summer, a new tool to restrict the rising prices of drugs developed with taxpayer dollars has been introduced by the two U.S. senators who don't belong to either party."

"Tensions Flare as Cuomo Confronts Democratic Rift [...] That was all Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate minority leader who represents the suburbs of Westchester County, needed to hear. 'You look at me, Mr. Governor, but you don't see me. You see my black skin and a woman, but you don't realize I am a suburban legislator,' Ms. Stewart-Cousins said, according to the accounts of five people who were in the room. 'Jeff Klein doesn't represent the suburbs,' she said. 'I do.' Mr. Cuomo reacted in stunned silence."

"Bank of America to Pay $6 Million to Bankrupt Couple Evicted From Home." BoA's behavior was reprehensible, unsurprisingly, and I'm sure receiving this money will be a relief to the homeowners, but this is actually a win for the bank, who were originally supposed to pay $46 million.

David Dayen, "Orrin Hatch, The Original Antitrust Hipster, Turns On His Own Kind." Hatch used to be a lonely crusader against monopolies, but now he's suddenly dissing the emerging crowd of trust-busters who have entered the public debate.

I can't believe anyone was stupid enough to think a good way to celebrate the total eclipse of the sun would be a fireworks display at totality. See, I can still be shocked. Meanwhile, you can Make Your Own Safe Solar Viewer.

Jeff Stein in Vox, "Inside Bernie Sanders's campaign to save Obamacare: On three separate occasions this July, staffers for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) began preparing for the rollout of his new single-payer health care bill. But every time they started to do so, Senate Republicans would improbably revive their push to repeal Obamacare — and Sanders's team would postpone the launch of their 'Medicare-for-all' campaign, according to aides to the Vermont senator."

Gabriel Kristal at Bill Moyer's site, "A Working-Class Strategy for Defeating White Supremacy: To advance anti-racism on the macro scale, we need to collectively engage in popular struggle."

Yves Smith, introducing Alexey Kovalev's "Why Explaining US Internal Strife Through 'Russian Influence' Is Lazy and Unhelpful" at Naked Capitalism: "Yves here. This is a well-argued debunking of various 'evil Rooskie' claims and is very much worth circulating. Stunningly, there actually are people asserting that white supremacists and the figurative and now literal hot fights over Confederate symbols (remember that Confederate flags have been a big controversy too?) are part of a Russian plot. Help me. Fortunately their views don't seem to have gotten traction outside the fever-swamp corners of the Twitterverse."

"Why Are Drug Prices So High? These Politicians Might Have The Answer [...] In 2016, Harvard University researchers found patents are one of the main reasons drug prices are so high in the United States. Those patents give drugmakers exclusive monopoly rights to produce a medicine — thereby insulating the pharmaceutical company from price competition."

"ACLU suing DC Metro for rejecting ads on abortion, PETA, Milo Yiannopoulos: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing Washington's Metro for pulling or rejecting controversial ads, which the organization claims violates the freedom of speech. The ACLU is representing a 'diverse group of plaintiffs' in the new lawsuit, including an abortion provider, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos. [...] One of the rejected ads — from the ACLU itself — featured the text of the First Amendment in English, Spanish and Arabic, which the group proposed after President Trump escalated his feud with the media earlier this year."

"Police Are Killing Citizens at Highest Rate Ever While Govt and Media Ignore It: Police in the United States are breaking records in 2017 by killing a record number of the same people they claim to serve and protect, and there is no change in sight under the current administration. In 2017 alone, police have killed 746 people in the U.S., according to the Killed By Police database, which puts this year on pace to become the deadliest year on record. In contrast, in the first seven months of 2016, police killed 714 people; the number was slightly higher in 2015 with 725 killed; and it was noticeably lower in 2014 with 663 killed and in 2013 with 353 killed."

"Lee Fang on How a Little-Known U.S. Libertarian Think Tank Is Remaking Latin American Politics

Brian Beutler, "Democrats, Don't Raise the Debt Limit: Instead, they should aim to abolish it as a Republican weapon."

"Democrats Can Abandon the Center — Because the Center Doesn't Exist [...] It is difficult to overstate how thoroughly these developments discredited the baseline assumptions of a certain strand of mainstream punditry. We're living through a kind of Copernican revolution for the political universe: The old guard still insists that everything revolves around 'the center,' but the data keep saying otherwise."

David Dayen, "Trump's Opioid Commission Had Some Stunningly Good Recommendations. He Ignored Them for 80s Drug War Nostalgia. [...] If you were reminded of Nancy Reagan's cameo on Diff'rent Strokes, you're not alone. But 'Just Say No' didn't work as a policy 35 years ago — teenagers in programs, such as DARE, were as likely to use drugs as those who weren't. It also initiated the school-to-prison pipeline with the creation of 'drug-free schools' and other policies of overcriminalization. And it's particularly useless for an opioid epidemic where adolescents age 12-17 represent a little more than one-tenth of those affected."

"Who Are The Dozen Trumpiest Democrats In The House?" And in that article you'll find the DCCC's own purity test: "And this year Ben Ray Lujan has openly admitted the DCCC is recruiting Blue Dogs and anti-Choice candidates--and will finance their races-- and they appear to have an unofficial litmus test of their own: candidates who openly advocate Medicare-For-All, which is not backed by DCCC honchos like Lujan and almost his whole team, are getting the shitty end of the stick. It appears that, so far at least, the DCCC is encouraging candidates who don't commit to Medicare-For-All and giving candidates who do, the cold shoulder. So... whose side is the DCCC on? Not the same side I'm on, that's for sure."

Rachel Cohen in The New Republic, "This Is the Wrong Way to Fight Inequality: A new book proposes Americans should compete against each other for well being — so long as it's a "fair" contest." Needless to say, this is a terrible idea.

Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons, "Hacked emails show UAE building close relationship with D.C. Think tanks that push its agenda."

Carl Beijer, "Bankers and Big Pharma lawyers: We are the left! [...] This is the system that McKnight-Chavers wants to preserve: the system that has made her family wealthy, largely at the expense of some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in our society. From her position of privilege, it's easy to call for "a fair capitalist system" where "capital will make its way into our communities" — because capital has made it into her community. But why are we making this voice of privilege an arbiter of the left? "

Jayati Ghosh in Naked Capitalism, "After Neoliberalism, What Next? [...] Whether we look at straws in the wind or green shoots in the ground, there is no doubt that there are incipient signs of change. But at this point there are many directions in which such change could go, and not all of them are progressive or even desirable. That is why it is important to get social and political traction for alternative trajectories that focus on more equitable, just, democratic and ecologically viable outcomes for most of humanity."

Robert Borosage, "Movements Are Driving Democratic Party Debate [...] Entrenched interests, policy gurus, political operatives, and big money all have a significant stake in defending business as usual. If Democrats are to meet the promise their leaders made in their 'Better Deal' platform to put forth a bold agenda that works for working people, a fierce debate isn't pernicious. It is utterly imperative."

"Fear, Loathing, and the Democratic Party" — It's odd watching the flurry of hate pieces against Nina Turner whenever she does anything. A lot of it is reminiscent of slurs against Sanders, pretending some insight into character flaws of the target that would require actual mind-reading to confirm. Meanwhile, every time Bernie Sanders does anything, there's a flurry of hate on Twitter for him. In this case, Sanders is the only one doing anything at all in reaction to Charlottesville, and of course the knives are out. Lawrence Tribe has become a national embarrassment: "Sen. Sanders just urged a resolution by Congress condemning Nazism & White Racism. Really? How about condemning TRUMP for his appeasement?" Of course, Sanders has been condemning Trump, but (a) it doesn't fit the narrative, and (b) apparently these people think we can just get rid of Trump and life will be peachy. It's hard to believe anyone is this stupid.

A kickass tweetstorm from Lana Del Raytheon: "as bipartisan centrists and liberals put donut emojis in their twitter names, let's review their political legacy over the last few decades:"

This is a blast from the past that I may have linked before, but I'm trying to remind people what The Democratic Party was back when it was winning. Adolph Reed, "Nothing Left: The long, slow surrender of American liberals: FFor nearly all the twentieth century there was a dynamic left in the United States grounded in the belief that unrestrained capitalism generated unacceptable social costs. That left crested in influence between 1935 and 1945, when it anchored a coalition centered in the labor movement, most significantly within the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). It was a prominent voice in the Democratic Party of the era, and at the federal level its high point may have come in 1944, when FDR propounded what he called 'a second Bill of Rights.' Among these rights, Roosevelt proclaimed, were the right to a 'useful and remunerative job,' 'adequate medical care,' and 'adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.'"

"Why we lost the war in Afghanistan [...] Folks, if we can't do something as basic as pave Afghanistan's roads and convince the government to keep them safe and passable, we've lost. We have no business remaining there for one more minute. We should pack up all of our tanks and Humvees and MRAPs and Howitzers and helicopters, not to mention all of our bulldozers and earthmovers and asphalt-layers, and we should load all of our soldiers on C-130's and get the hell out of there. Russia learned this lesson. That's why one day they packed up their war making stuff and drove north across the border with Uzbekistan and never looked back."

"Mongolians protest as bulldozers threaten Beatles monument: AKIPRESS.COM — A statue of the Beatles in Ulaanbaatar could be at risk amid an alleged land grab, protesters say, as rapid development turns a city once famed for wide open spaces into a cluttered metropolis. Residents are protesting against plans to build commercial properties in an area known as Beatles Square, where a bronze bas-relief monument to the "Fab Four" commemorates the former Soviet satellite's transition to democracy in 1990, Reuters reported."

Mark Evanier on the wonderful Rose Marie, who we all loved as Sally on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and an upcoming biopic about her that he recently got to see an early screening of in the company of Van Dyke himself and Carl Reiner, who both agreed it was the best biopic they had ever seen: "Movie history was made in 1927 when The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson opened at the Wintergarden Theater in New York. It was the first major "talkie," (film with sound) although it was partially a silent film with title cards. It was preceded that first evening at the Wintergarden by all all-talking, all-singing short. That short starred Baby Rose Marie." Now go read the rest.

RIP: Dick Gregory, Barrier-Breaking Comedian and Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 84. I always remember him saying that calendar on your wall is called the Gregorian calendar, and "You better be nice to me, or I won't let you use tomorrow." And also, "Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind paying my taxes if I knew it was going to a friendly country." Here he is in 1965 on police brutality.

RIP: Gregg Calkins, 82, fanzine publisher (Oopsla, 1952-1961), and letterhack — and, as File770 says, "In contrast to most of his generation, he was highly active in social media, frequently posting on Facebook where it was his pleasure to carry the conservative side of debates." And, to my surprise, although I had never had any contact with him before and never expected to, he sent me a friend request, and it was my pleasure to participate in that debate with him. Though we disagreed on many things, he was always friendly and respectful, even flattered me by saying he hoped the DNC didn't start listening to me because if they did we would be a real threat to the Republicans electorally. I already miss his contributions to my threads.

RIP: Glenn Campbell, first-class guitar player, former first-call sessions man, and popular country singer. He played sessions for everyone from Elvis to Nancy Sinatra to Jan & Dean. We first saw him on that summer version of the Smothers Brothers' show, and then were disappointed when he turned out to be kinda right-wing. But he sure could play guitar. In 2011 he announced that he had Alzheimer's, but no cause of death has been released. He was 81.

Baby elephant temper tantrum

Yes, we all know why they're doing this, but still, the Proctor & Gamble ad made my eyes tear up.

Wow. If I didn't already know this was Al Franken, I never would have guessed.

02:53 GMT comment


Monday, 07 August 2017

Too late, my brothers, too late

I'd never seen this photo before last week when Colin Hinz posted it. Chuch Harris, Rob Hansen, me, and Sue Harris, at Toad Hall in Minneapolis before the 1989 Corflu, all looking so very much like ourselves.

The last couple-few weeks have been a bit harrowing for me, and I already hadn't been particularly thrilled by dragging myself at a slower and slower pace to the hospital every day for treatments. First I had an allergic reaction to the creams they gave me to protect my skin after radiotherapy, with agonizing results, and then in the midst of this misery, three friends of mine, all younger than me, died in the same week. Oh, and by the way, this year we've had the most virulent mosquitos I have ever experienced in my life, and maybe it was worse because my resistance was down but these bites are like superbites, y'know? One even required a trip to the hospital and antibiotics. But enough about that, because I've got way too many links to get to....

Here's a nice, short video that kinda says it all about the magic money tree.

Democrats and Republicans, together in evil. "U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel: But now, a group of 43 senators — 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats — wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country's decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison. [...] The bill's co-sponsors include the senior Democrat in Washington, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, his New York colleague Kirsten Gillibrand, and several of the Senate's more liberal members, such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Maria Cantwell of Washington. Illustrating the bipartisanship that AIPAC typically summons, it also includes several of the most right-wing senators such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Marco Rubio of Florida."
* But Gillibrand may be backing away after she was put on the spot in a town hall meeting.

Baltimore State's Attorney Dismisses 34 Cases After Officer Caught Allegedly Planting Drugs: [...] Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday, July 28, that over 100 cases are now under review following the release of police body camera footage from a January arrest that appears to show an officer planting drugs at a crime scene, The Baltimore Sun reported. She said 34 of the cases, which were all drug- or gun-related, would be thrown out, while 77 others are still being reviewed."

"64 Years Later, CIA Finally Releases Details of Iranian Coup: New documents reveal how the CIA attempted to call off the failing coup — only to be salvaged at the last minute by an insubordinate spy. [...] Declassified documents released last week shed light on the Central Intelligence Agency's central role in the 1953 coup that brought down Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh, fueling a surge of nationalism which culminated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and poisoning U.S.-Iran relations into the 21st century. [...] Known as Operation Ajax, the CIA plot was ultimately about oil. Western firms had for decades controlled the region's oil wealth, whether Arabian-American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia, or the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Iran. When the U.S. firm in Saudi Arabia bowed to pressure in late 1950 and agreed to share oil revenues evenly with Riyadh, the British concession in Iran came under intense pressure to follow suit. But London adamantly refused. So in early 1951, amid great popular acclaim, Mossadegh nationalized Iran's oil industry. A fuming United Kingdom began conspiring with U.S. intelligence services to overthrow Mossadegh and restore the monarchy under the shah. (Though some in the U.S. State Department, the newly released cables show, blamed British intransigence for the tensions and sought to work with Mossadegh.)"

Everyone made a big deal out of John McCain rising from his hospital bed to vote on the latest (at this writing) GOP health-destruction bill, but the media didn't notice The heroic Senator with severe cancer who interrupted treatment to vote... NO [...] Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii was just doing her job as a good politician, voting not to repeal the ACA so as to protect her constituents. She has Stage Four kidney cancer — that means scarce chances of survival — is recovering from a second surgery to remove part of a rib, and made sure she got to her seat in the Senate Chamber to vote 'no' to whatever Republican wealth-care crap was thrown at her."
* In any case, McCain surprised everyone by voting NO, along with Collins and Murkowski.

The strange case of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's computer: "The Capitol Police and outside agencies are pursuing Imran Awan, who has run technology for the Florida lawmaker since 2005 and was banned from the House network in February on suspicion of data breaches and theft." But when they took a laptop believed to be important to the case, DWS was strangely reluctant to let them keep it and "threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with 'consequences' for holding equipment that she says belongs to her "As one of eight members of the Committee on Appropriations' Legislative Branch subcommittee, Wasserman Schultz is in charge of the budget of the police force that is investigating her staffer and how he managed to extract so much money and information from members. In a highly unusual exchange, the Florida lawmaker uses a hearing on the Capitol Police's annual budget to spend three minutes repeatedly trying to extract a promise from the chief that he will return a piece of evidence being used to build an active case. [...] The investigation is examining members' data leaving the network and how Awan managed to get Members to place three relatives and a friend into largely no-show positions on their payrolls, billing $4 million since 2010. [...] When The DCNF asked Wasserman Schultz Monday if it could inquire about her strong desire for the laptop, she said 'No, you may not.' After The DCNF asked why she wouldn't want the Capitol Police to have any evidence they may need to find and punish any hackers of government information, she abruptly turned around in the middle of a stairwell and retreated back to the office from which she had come."
* Anyway, they finally caught the guy trying to fly to Pakistan. The story in Forbs is amusingly titled, "The Exploding DNC IT Scandal Is As Crazy As Fiction."

The Democrats either are or aren't rolling out a new agenda. Pelosi says it's not a new agenda, just new presentation. She may be right, because their sloganeering sounds an awful lot like the same stuff they used to sell NAFTA. And giving subsidies to employers for offering on-the-job training they should already be offering is a bass-ackwards way of creating jobs in a demand crisis — people aren't buying because they have no money, so just give people money; go back to welfare-as-we-used-to-know-it and maybe we'll start having an economy again. (Also: A real infrastructure program in which the government directly hires individuals to enhance and rebuild infrastructure, with no out-sourcing or contracting, just lots of employees in stable jobs creating institutional memory of how to do things right.) But c'mon, we all know it's been a long time since Democrats seemed to care about trust-busting. In fact, they seem to have decided during the Clinton administration that there's nothing better than letting Malefactors of Great Wealth get together and take over everything. But David Dayen thinks they may finally be getting it: Now, Democrats say they're putting down roots. They say they have ideas. They rolled out their 'Better Deal' agenda on Monday, and a shockingly large portion of the platform is dedicated to breaking corporate power, and in particular monopoly concentration. It's a credit to the emerging New Brandeis movement that these ideas have been embraced at the highest levels of a political party. But will Democrats have the credibility to get a hearing from the public on a problem even they acknowledge they helped create?" That's a good question, since they've never come out and admitted that Bill Clinton really screwed the pooch on this. (In my fantasy, Wolf Blitzer asked Hillary during the debates what the hell they were thinking when they decided it was okay to get rid of all the regulations that had been put in place to prevent another depression, which had been shown to be effective for five decades. I have a lot of debate questions like that.)
* On the other hand, Damon Linker thinks that, "Democrats don't need 'A Better Deal.' They need Bernie Sanders.." For the credibility: "Had he won the presidency in 2016, political realities and limited resources would have forced Sanders to prioritize among these and other goals. Compromises would have needed to be struck. But those who voted for him would have known exactly where he stood, and what he would choose to do if he could. That would be the ground from which he began to work toward a compromise, not a position that already represented a pre-emptive capitulation to the other side, which is what Democrats have been doing ever since they made their peace with the Reagan revolution."

[Linker also reckons Clinton's book will not answer the question of how she lost. "And the answer is: Because Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate who ran an atrocious campaign and should never have been anointed as the presumptive nominee by the Democratic National Committee in the first place. If Clinton wanted to run for president while under investigation by the FBI, that was her business. But why on Earth would the DNC and the party's "superdelegates" decide so far in advance that a candidate running with that kind of baggage should be considered the inevitable victor? Aside from the obstacles it placed in the way of her one serious challenger (Bernie Sanders), it helped to discourage many others (including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren) from jumping into the race. Why bother when you know the party is standing against you?"]

"No 'litmus test': Desperate Democrats are now officially willing to back anti-choice candidates: The Democratic Party has decided to financially support candidates who oppose women's rights. [...] According to Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), the chairman of the House campaign arm, Democrats are willing to do whatever they can to win back the House in 2018, even if it means electing Democrats who oppose abortion, The Hill reported." This is not the way to do it.

Dept. of Silver Linings: Cory Booker's buddy "Betsy DeVos Is Making 'School Choice' Toxic for Democrats: Conservatives frame privatization as a civil rights issue, but Trump's extreme agenda is energizing racial justice and public education advocates." "School choice", which means vouchers and charter schools, is touted as a plan to improve education but is really intended to use public funds to segregate schools by class instead of race. But they love to pretend otherwise. "Trump's education policy advocates for both, and in his controversial appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary, he elevated a longtime champion of the cause. Like her boss, she has pitched school choice as a solution to racial inequities in education, saying in February that historically black colleges and universities 'are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality.'" OK, sit back and cogitate on that quote for a moment. In what way does it have anything to do with "choice" as presented by vouchers and charter schools? Black universities were created precisely because existing colleges wouldn't admit black students at all. America's public schools admit everyone, that's not the problem. The problem is that the right-wingers in government have manipulated funding and regulations to make sure that the public school system is outrageously underfunded and then added the new burden of charter schools to suck more public money out of the system and into the hands of profit-seekers. Vouchers would make this problem even worse, and, not incidentally, funnel more of that money — and more students — into religious schools. "But some Democrats, particularly in cities, have embraced the full school choice agenda. Anthony Williams, the former Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., appeared in an ad this year in support of DeVos, saying she 'fought by my side' for the District's voucher program. Senator Cory Booker supported charters and vouchers as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and sat on the board of Alliance for School Choice with DeVos. (He voted against her confirmation this year, but so did every Democrat.) In general, Democrats have stayed in the good graces of public school defenders by limiting their support to 'public school choice.' But now that the Trump administration is promoting charters as part of a broader school choice agenda, and civil rights groups are increasingly leery of charters, Democrats are facing pressure to oppose all privatization schemes."

"Saudi Investor Pours Millions Into British News Site, The Independent: LONDON — A mysterious Saudi-based investor has plowed millions of dollars into a British news organization renowned for championing liberal causes, in a move that will enrage human rights and media freedom campaigners. Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel, 42, listed in company records as a Saudi-based Saudi Arabian national, has acquired up to 50 percent of the Independent website, whose newspaper shook Britain's journalism establishment in the 1980s before struggling financially and ditching the printed word in 2016."

"What's the link between charter schools, political donations and teacher certification in New York?: In New York state, most teachers of publicly funded schools have to be certified through a state-run process. Now, that may change. Many of the state's publicly funded charter schools may soon have the right to certify their own teachers with their own processes. (In some states, charter school teachers don't have to be certified at all.) The specific proposal is being considered by the board of trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) and a decision will be made shortly. The trustees oversee the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, which authorizes a good number of charter school operators in the state, including the well-known Success Academies charter network."

I mostly try to avoid paying much attention to the White House game of musical chairs, since it's tedious repeating that Trump has another horrible person working for him, but The Onion did not make up the quotes in Onion Fact Checks: Anthony Scaramucci's New Yorker Interview: "In an interview with The New Yorker earlier today, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci leveled harsh criticism against the FBI and members of the Trump administration. The Onion fact-checks Scaramucci's claims."

Marcy Wheeler stopped being called by TV talk show producers when she said "blow-job" on the air. I don't think MSNBC is going to change their minds after her recent appearance on Democracy NOW: "National security journalist calls GOP donor 'ratf*cker' on live TV for role in Seth Rich and Benghazi hoaxes."

"Fired/Rehired: Police chiefs are often forced to put officers fired for misconduct back on the streets: Since 2006, the nation's largest police departments have fired at least 1,881 officers for misconduct that betrayed the public's trust, from cheating on overtime to unjustified shootings. But The Washington Post has found that departments have been forced to reinstate more than 450 officers after appeals required by union contracts."

Beat the Press, "Robert Samuelson Doesn't Think Diagnosing Diseases and Treatment Affect Outcomes: Shilling for Republicans and the Rich: You know the person who commits murder and the dead person really are both victims in Robert Samuelson land. His latest column on health care shows his great expertise in obscuring everything he touches to say it's all just so complicated."

For some July 26th fun, "Republican Sen. Steve Daines to make Democrats vote on single payer: Sen. Steve Daines is proposing an amendment to the Republican healthcare bill that would implement a government-run, single-payer insurance system in the U.S. The Montana Republican doesn't support single-payer healthcare. But in a bit of political gamesmanship often seen in Congress, Daines wants to force vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election in red states in 2018 to take a position on the liberal healthcare policy, which is gaining currency on the Left."
* But, "Bernie Sanders will foil Senate Republicans' single-payer trolling [...] 'The Democratic caucus will not participate in the Republicans' sham process. No amendment will get a vote until we see the final legislation and know what bill we are amending,' spokesperson Josh Miller-Lewis said in a text. 'Once Republicans show us their final bill, Sen. Sanders looks forward to getting a vote on his amendment that makes clear the Senate believes that the United States must join every major country and guarantee health care as a right, not a privilege.'"

Meanwhile, Shadowproof offers its own health care plan: Shadowproof is proud to contribute to the national health care debate by introducing our plan to transition the United States to a single-payer health care system. Our plan, the Medical Insurance and Care for All program (MICA), is a public health insurance program based on Medicare but open to all individuals. Employers will be required to buy their employees MICA or equally good private coverage. If one does not receive employer coverage, they will automatically be enrolled in MICA and charged for it in their taxes."

"Benjamin Netanyahu threatens to expel al-Jazeera from Israel: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he would work to close the Jerusalem offices of al-Jazeera, accusing the Qatar-based television news network of inciting recent violence in the city."

Sharon Lerner in The Intercept, "100,000 Pages of Chemical Industry Secrets Gathered Dust in an Oregon Barn for Decades — Until Now: For decades, some of the dirtiest, darkest secrets of the chemical industry have been kept in Carol Van Strum's barn. Creaky, damp, and prowled by the occasional black bear, the listing, 80-year-old structure in rural Oregon housed more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others. As of today, those documents and others that have been collected by environmental activists will be publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers. Together, the library contains more than 200,000 pages of information and 'lays out a 40-year history of deceit and collusion involving the chemical industry and the regulatory agencies that were supposed to be protecting human health and the environment,' said Peter von Stackelberg, a journalist who along with the Center for Media and Democracy and the Bioscience Resource Project helped put the collection online.

At Mother Jones, "North Dakota's Norway Experiment: Can humane prisons work in America? A red state aims to find out." I'm excited by the idea of this type of change being tried in the United States, under a chief of prisons who really gets why it needs to be done.
* In the Economist, "Too many prisons make bad people worse. There is a better way: The world can learn from how Norway treats its offenders [...] Norway has the lowest reoffending rate in Scandinavia: two years after release, only 20% of prisoners have been reconvicted. By contrast, a study of 29 American states found a recidivism rate nearly twice as high. This is despite the fact that Norway reserves prison for hard cases, who would normally be more likely to reoffend. Its incarceration rate, at 74 per 100,000 people, is about a tenth of America's.

The Hill, "Schumer: Dems, not Russia, are to blame for loss to Trump: When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don't blame other things — [James] Comey, Russia — you blame yourself. So what did we do wrong? People didn't know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that."

Dean Baker, "The Washington Post's War on Disability Programs Continues [...] The assertion that the program will go broke is extremely misleading. Even if Congress never did anything it could still pay will over 90 percent of projected benefits for more than two decades into the future and even at the end of the 75-year planning period it is still projected to be able to pay over 80 percent of scheduled benefits. This is an important point since many politicians have advocated cutting benefits to keep the program fully funded. If the point is to ensure to prevent benefits from being cut due to a shortfall, cutting benefits to make up the gap doesn't help."

"Researchers shut down AI that invented its own language: An artificial intelligence system being developed at Facebook has created its own language. It developed a system of code words to make communication more efficient. The researchers shut the system down as it prompted concerns we could lose control of AI."

Ian Welsh, "A World Without Poor People (Sort of)" — The price of homes and food and fuel shoots up dramatically, and yet the Fed tells us there's no inflation. How does that work, exactly?

"Joseph Stiglitz Says Standard Economics Is Wrong. Inequality and Unearned Income Kills the Economy [...] The trickle-down notion — along with its theoretical justification, marginal productivity theory — needs urgent rethinking. That theory attempts both to explain inequality — why it occurs — and to justify it — why it would be beneficial for the economy as a whole. This essay looks critically at both claims. It argues in favour of alternative explanations of inequality, with particular reference to the theory of rent-seeking and to the influence of institutional and political factors, which have shaped labour markets and patterns of remuneration. And it shows that, far from being either necessary or good for economic growth, excessive inequality tends to lead to weaker economic performance. In light of this, it argues for a range of policies that would increase both equity and economic well-being. [...] The term 'rent' was originally used to describe the returns to land, since the owner of the land receives these payments by virtue of his or his ownership and not because of anything he or she does. The term was then extended to include monopoly profits (or monopoly rents) — the income that one receives simply from control of a monopoly — and in general returns due to similar ownership claims. Thus, rent-seeking means getting an income not as a reward for creating wealth but by grabbing a larger share of the wealth that would have been produced anyway. Indeed, rent-seekers typically destroy wealth, as a by-product of their taking away from others. A monopolist who overcharges for her or his product takes money from those whom she or he is overcharging and at the same time destroys value. To get her or his monopoly price, she or he has to restrict production."

"U.S. Intelligence Veterans Believe the 'Russian Hack' of DNC Computers May Have Been an Inside Job: Forensic studies of 'Russian hacking' into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to DNC computers, and then doctored to incriminate Russia."

Steven Thrasher in the Guardian, "The Democrats' performance as an opposition party? Pathetic: Though Trump is historically unpopular for a president at this moment in his presidency, the opposition is not benefiting from this obvious opportunity. [...] When the poll came out saying that 'Democrats stand for nothing more than opposing' Trump, I thought to myself, 'If only that were true!'' But they can't even do that well. When House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley was asked by the Associated Press just what his party's core message was, he 'hesitated' and then said, 'That message is being worked on.' It was as tone deaf (but honest) an answer as when Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum — as sycophantic a representative of the Democratic party in the punditocracy as there is — wrote about how people would have to be 'crazy' not to 'have a reflective disgust' of people who are homeless and mentally ill. Considering homeless people are also disproportionately black, LGBT, disabled and, of course, poor, Drum managed to reveal the disdain the liberal elite has of wide swaths of Americans."

Margaret Kimberly in Black Agenda Report, "Freedom Rider: Kamala Harris and America's Oligarchs: California's new senator is actively being vetted as the 'next Obama, ' or 'Obama 2.0' -- a youngish, biracial corporate Democrat and a woman. Democratic honchos are betting that 'white people will consider her exotic enough to be acceptable and black voters will rally around her.' The oligarchic George Soros likes Harris, who did him a favor by refusing to indict one of his banks. Most importantly, Harris is all about 'form' -- not 'reform.'

"Why leftists don't trust Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick: The contest for control of the Democratic Party between left and center is continuing apace. The latest battleground is over a handful of minority Democrats being groomed by the centrist establishment to run for office: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. If the center wants to win over a suspicious left, they can start by clearly explaining their policy orientation, particularly in areas where they might have fallen short by the supposed standards of the modern Democratic Party — which all three of the above candidates have done in various ways. If they want to deepen divisions, they can use cynical accusations of bigotry to try to beat back any leftist challenger." Maybe Kamala Harris can explain why she protected West One from prosecution for all its crimes, but I don't see how Deval Patrick can rid himself of his ties to Bain Capital, being managing director, and Cory Booker's entire career is backed by genuine right-wing Republicans who want to destroy education and the teachers' unions.

Here's a few highlights from Kamala Harris' record. From 2010, "Judge rips Harris' office for hiding problems: San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris' office violated defendants' rights by hiding damaging information about a police drug lab technician and was indifferent to demands that it account for its failings, a judge declared Thursday. [...] But in a scathing ruling, the judge concluded that prosecutors had failed to fulfill their constitutional duty to tell defense attorneys about problems surrounding Deborah Madden, the now-retired technician at the heart of the cocaine-skimming scandal that led police to shut down the drug analysis section of their crime lab. [...] Massullo wrote that top drug prosecutor Sharon Woo's Nov. 19 memo about Madden showed that prosecutors "at the highest levels of the district attorney's office knew that Madden was not a dependable witness at trial and that there were serious concerns regarding the crime lab.""
* From January of this year, "Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin's Bank Accused of 'Widespread Misconduct' in Leaked Memo [...] In the memo, the leaders of the state attorney general's Consumer Law Section said they had 'uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct' in a yearlong investigation. In a detailed 22-page request, they identified over a thousand legal violations in the small subsection of OneWest loans they were able to examine, and they recommended that Attorney General Kamala Harris file a civil enforcement action against the Pasadena-based bank. They even wrote up a sample legal complaint, seeking injunctive relief and millions of dollars in penalties. But Harris's office, without any explanation, declined to prosecute the case. [...] Why did her office close the case, deciding not to 'conduct a full investigation of a national bank's misconduct and provide a public accounting of what happened,' as her own investigators had urged?" Perhaps it was because, "Harris Was Only 2016 Senate Democratic Candidate to Get Cash From Mnuchin." Her non-explanation sounds like classic evasion to me.
* Either Harris had no idea what her own office was doing (and didn't care to find out), or she knew that lawyers for her office argued in court not to process parole release of non-violent offenders because the state wanted to use them as free fire-fighting labor. Harris purported to be shocked, but in that case, why didn't she already know?

"The One Word Guaranteed to Make the Corporate Pundit Class Squirm: 'Neoliberalism' isn't a left-wing insult but a monstrous political system of inequality. [...] Neoliberalism is not particularly hard to define. It's not only an ideology or a set of principles; it's a system of practices, and an era, the one we're living in now. What it means, over and above everything, is untrammeled ruling-class power, an end to the class-collaborationism of the post-war years and a vicious assault of the rich against the poor. This is achieved through market mechanisms, fiscal austerity and the penetration of capitalist relations into every possible facet of human life. It doesn't mean that the role of the state vanishes — an essential precondition for neoliberalism is the destruction of working-class power and collective bargaining, and this has to be achieved, often brutally, through laws and their enforcement. There isn't just "some role for market forces" either, but their invasion into every fathomable social situation."

Mike Konczal in Vox, "'Neoliberalism' isn't an empty epithet. It's a real, powerful set of ideas. [...] One highly salient conflict was the fight over free college during the Democratic primary. It wasn't about the price tag; it was about the role the government should play in helping to educate the citizenry. Clinton originally argued that a universal program would help people who didn't need help — why pay for Donald Trump's kids? This reflects the focus on means-tested programs that dominated Democratic policymaking over the past several decades. (Some of the original people who wanted to reinvent the Democratic Party, such as Charles Peters in his 1983 article 'A Neoliberal's Manifesto,' called for means-testing Social Security so it served only the very poor.) Bernie Sanders argued instead that education was a right, and it should be guaranteed to all Americans regardless of wealth or income. The two rivals came to a smart compromise after the campaign, concluding that public tuition should be free for all families with income of less than $125,000 — a proposal that is already serving as a base from which activists can build. This points to a disagreement as we move forward. Should the Democratic Party focus on the most vulnerable, in the language of access and need? Or should it focus on everyone, in the language of rights? [...] Another place we can see a break in the Democratic Party is in its view of full employment. Between 1944 and 1988, the phrase 'full employment' was found in every Democratic Party platform and was commonly mentioned in Democratic State of the Union addresses. As an excellent new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a group called Fed Up, and the Center for Popular Democracy underscores, full employment was also a core demand of the civil rights movement. Then it disappeared, and was only put back in the platform for the 2016 election. [...] Or take the general stance toward the business community. Another policy concern that has entered, and departed, the Democratic platform over time is the antitrust agenda — worries about the concentration of big business. The 2016 Democratic platform said: 'Large corporations have concentrated their control over markets to a greater degree than Americans have seen in decades' and that Democrats "will make competition policy and antitrust stronger and more responsive." Again, that marked a return of language that was prevalent in the mid-century period but that disappeared after 1988."

"The Great Recession never ended [...] Taken together, the American economy looks quite similar to that of around 1939 or so. Back then, the New Deal had partially fixed the Great Depression, but had failed to restore full employment due to anxious politicians (including FDR) flipping out about the budget deficit and turning to austerity. It took the stupendous mega-spending of war mobilization to break the political deadlock and restore full employment and production. In 1939 as today, many argued that limp performance was simply the best that could be done. But it turned out after the war the economy did not collapse back to its prewar levels. Instead (after a brief hiccup from demobilization) it rocketed up into its greatest boom in history. Wit