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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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Tuesday, 20 October 2020

And the forests will echo with laughter

"Bolivia election: Evo Morales's leftwing party celebrates stunning comeback: Exit polls for presidential election project win for Luis Arce as rival concedes defeat. Evo Morales's leftwing party is celebrating a stunning political comeback after its candidate appeared to trounce rivals in Bolivia's presidential election. The official results of Sunday's twice-postponed election had yet to be announced on Monday afternoon, but exit polls projected that Luis Arce, the candidate for Morales's Movimiento al Socialismo (Mas), had secured more than 50% of the vote while his closest rival, the centrist former president Carlos Mesa, received about 30%. Mesa conceded defeat on Monday lunchtime, telling supporters that a quick count showed a 'very convincing and very clear' result. 'There is a large gap between the first-placed candidate and us ... and, as believers in democracy, it now falls to us ... to recognise that there is a winner in this election,' Mesa said"

"The Unprecedented And Illegal Campaign To Eliminate Julian Assange: Assange would never receive a fair trial in the U.S., but he's not receiving one in Britain either. OVER THE 17 DAYS of Julian Assange's extradition hearing in London, prosecutors succeeded in proving both crimes and conspiracy. The culprit, however, was not Assange. Instead, the lawbreakers and conspirators turned out to be the British and American governments. Witness after witness detailed illegal measures to violate Assange's right to a fair trial, destroy his health, assassinate his character, and imprison him in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. Courtroom evidence exposed illegality on an unprecedented scale by America's and Britain's intelligence, military, police, and judicial agencies to eliminate Assange. [...] The deck was clearly stacked. Assange's antagonists were marking the cards as early as February 2008, when the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center set out, in its words, to 'damage or destroy this center of gravity' that was WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks, from the time Assange and his friends created it in 2006, was attracting sources around the world to entrust them, securely and anonymously, with documents exposing state crimes. The audience for the documents was not a foreign intelligence service, but the public. In the governments' view, the public needed protection from knowledge of what they were doing behind closed doors and in the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq. To plug the leaks, the governments had to stop Assange. The Pentagon, the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the State Department soon followed the Counterintelligence Center's lead by establishing their own anti-Assange task forces and enlisting the aid of Britain, Sweden, and Ecuador." Everything from direct violations of his human and civil rights to petty cruelties seems to be the order of the day.

"A dueling town halls upside: Media finally focuses on the wide gulf between Biden and Trump: The nation's top political reporters actually focused on the extreme contrast between the candidates, not spectacle. NBC did a terrible disservice to the public by ceding to Donald Trump's demand to counterprogram Joe Biden's ABC town hall on Thursday night. But the net effect on political journalism turned out to be quite positive. The dueling town halls actually forced several top journalists to directly address the extraordinary imbalance between the two candidates and what they represent, rather than get distracted by the spectacle.

Summing up, Max Kennerly tweeted: "As of the last 48 hours, the Trump re-election platform is:
— Mr. Rogers sucks
— I'm annoyed local TV covers severe weather but not a foreign politician talking about me
— there might be a Satanic pedophile cult, haven't found it yet
— I ordered US Marshals to murder someone
"

So, "Is Trump Having American Citizens Murdered Now?" He certainly is claiming to. But there's no question that whoever arranged it, it was murder. "A witness, Garrett Louis, told the New York Times he watched the shooting begin while trying to get his eight-year-old son out of the way. He said the officers began shooting so suddenly that he initially assumed they were criminals gunning down an enemy, not police. 'There was no, 'Get out of the car!' There was no, 'Stop!' ... They just got out of the car and started shooting.'"

Dan Goodspeed did an interesting time-lapse chart of rates of Covid over the course of the last few months according to how "red" or "blue" the states are. The one that keeps getting me is North Dakota — they must be going out of their way to get exposed in such a sparsely-populated state. They're significantly worse than a lot of densely-populated places.

"A Month Before Louisville Drug Warriors Killed Breonna Taylor, They Knew the 'Suspicious Packages' She Supposedly Was Receiving Came From Amazon: The detective who obtained the search warrant cited the deliveries to falsely implicate Taylor in drug trafficking."

"Not News But A Juicy Collection Of Narratives - How The New York Times Failed Its Readers: The New York Times star reporter Rukmini Callimachi had been widely criticized for her exaggerated reporting about the Islamic State and terrorism. But her editors kept supporting and promoting her stories. That finally ended when Canada recently indicted one Shehroze Chaudhry, also known as Abu Huzaifa, for falsely claiming to have been an ISIS member. Chaudhry had made up his blood dripping stories. He had never been with ISIS and had never been to Syria or Iraq. But the unverified stories of Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi had been the central element of the NYT's ten part Caliphate podcast by Rukmini Callimachi. The failure of her reporting finally was so evident that the NYT had to allow its media columnist Ben Smith to write about the issue. Remarkably his reporting was published in the Business section of the paper."

Dean Baker, "Patent Monopolies in Prescription Drugs Cause Corruption # 43,508 [...] We should be glad that reporters have actively worked to expose the abuses associated with the tariffs Donald Trump has imposed since coming into the White House. But what about the abuses associated with government-granted patent monopolies for prescription drugs? We literally never see a piece pointing out that patent protection creates an enormous incentive for corruption, in fact, one that is far larger than with the Trump tariffs. Just to get some basic orientation, depending on the country and the product, Trump's tariffs were generally between 10 and 25 percent. By contrast, government granted patent monopolies often raise the price of a protected drug by at least a factor of ten and often by a factor of one hundred or more. The impact of this protection is therefore equivalent to tariffs of 1,000 or 10,000 percent." And just think of how this will work for a vaccine..

From Richard Wolff's continuing series on the collapse of "the West", and specifically America, "Global Capitalism: Capitalism's Decline Accelerates [September 2020]".

August J. Pollack says, "LOL: I have lived my entire life in a media narrative that Republicans are simply not supposed to face any consequences for their actions and what we have been witnessing for the last 48 hours is the result of a media completely unequipped to handle exactly that happening. I think that's why there's such a cognitive dissonance between how punditry is reacting to this versus, well, basically the rest of the planet. People are done. They are fucking done with this bullshit. [...] I nearly dropped my coffee cup, like at the end of The Usual Suspects, hearing someone on TV this morning calling this an 'October surprise.' This is the October most expected and obvious thing ever. That's why the media and so many pundits are losing their shit over this now—because there's no spin on this. There's no way, though I know some will try, to blame this on Joe Biden or on Democrats or on the liberal media. Hell, even the folks who want to blame this all on China knows China didn't make 100 people sit shoulder-to-shoulder without masks on."

I know I've complained about this before, but Tucker Carlson's weird populism is an embarrassing scam — embarrassing not just because he's faking it, but because his analysis is one that should be coming from Democrats, with democratic prescriptions instead of whacked-out right-wing nuttiness.

"How Are Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google Monopolies? House Report Counts The WaysIn a sweeping report spanning 449 pages, House Democrats lay out a detailed case for stripping Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google of the power than has made each of them dominant in their fields. The four companies began as "scrappy underdog startups" but are now monopolies that must be restricted and regulated, the report from Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel says. "These four corporations increasingly serve as gatekeepers of commerce and communications in the digital age, and this gatekeeper power gives them enormous capacity to abuse that power," a lawyer for the subcommittee's Democratic majority said in a briefing with reporters. The lawmakers say Congress should overhaul the laws that have let the companies grow so powerful. In particular, the report says, Congress should look at forcing "structural separations" of the companies and beefing up enforcement of existing antitrust laws."

"Why Liberals Pretend They Have No Power: Elite politicians invoke the rhetoric of national emergency only to behave like hapless passengers trapped aboard a sinking ship. [...] This tension underscores a deeper paradox of liberalism that has arguably reached its apex in the Trump era. Since the president's election four years ago, the political and intellectual leaders of America's supposedly reform-minded opposition have issued warnings about the existential threat that Trump poses to democracy. Amid it all, senior Democrats have mostly maintained both the regular operation of government and a standard of congressional etiquette that connotes normalcy more than it does any state of exception: applauding the president's speeches, approving his military budgets, awarding him new domestic spying powers, and even fast-tracking his judicial nominees. A line from one 2019 CNBC report detailing the overwhelming House approval of Trump's marquee NAFTA renegotiation sums up the absurdity of this posture: 'Democrats also wanted to show they can work with Trump only a day after they voted to make him the third president impeached in American history.' [...] Liberalism in the Trump era has thus become a kind of strange pantomime act in which elite politicians deploy the rhetoric of imminent threats and national emergency only to behave like hapless passengers trapped aboard a sinking ship. Although it has certainly found its most potent expression in Washington, this posture of feigned powerlessness has gradually come to infect the broader culture and ideology of American liberalism as a whole. [...] The contradictory posturing of today's most powerful liberals is not fully attributable to the shock and disorientation brought about by the 2016 election; its roots go back to the Clinton era at least—the period (not incidentally) when Democratic leaders formally abandoned their commitment to the New Deal and absorbed key parts of a Republican agenda. [...] This style found its ultimate expression in Barack Obama, who masterfully paired a sonorous rhetoric of optimism with, to paraphrase the political scientist Corey Robin, a 'moral minimalism' that rendered Democrats not so much unprepared for a fight with their Republican foes as indisposed to the very idea of one. Beginning with the hopeful cadence of 'Yes we can!' and ending, after a slew of congressional defeats, with the election of Donald Trump, the Obama era has served to convince many liberals of the need to compromise even further—anything remotely ambitious being doomed to fail on the altars of conservative partisanship and Republican obstruction. (Rampant opposition to Medicare for All from centrist Democrats despite its considerable popularity has been justified on these grounds for years.) [...] It's all well and good to recognize the structural constraints imposed by America's political system, and the difficulty of passing major reforms in the face of organized opposition. But for too many of America's leading liberal politicians, 'realism' has become an identity unto itself, unmoored from any programmatic orientation toward the future or sustained effort to bring about significant change."

Black Agenda Report, "The Politics That Led to the 'Worst Debate': The incoherence of the Biden-Trump debate will be repeated every election cycle until Blacks and progressives break with the corporate duopoly. There is nothing smart or 'strategic' about falling for the same trick every election cycle. The rich man's media are calling it 'the worst debate in modern American history,' but that's because the truth is often painful to watch. The Biden-Trump confrontation revealed, with crystalline clarity, that the real 'genius' of the American electoral process is its total imperviousness to popular demands for a healthier, more just and less economically precarious society and a peaceful, ecologically stable world."

"The Devastatingly Low Bar of 'Official' Poverty: Poverty numbers leave out far too many who are struggling economically. Shouldn't we reach for more than whatever rests just above abject misery? [...] For a more accurate gauge of poverty, some economists have advocated using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which includes benefits like food stamps when measuring income, and therefore better reveals the extent to which such programs help people—or, conversely, how dire things become when such benefits are slashed or shuttered. Yet even this expanded definition has its shortcomings; as Center for Economic Policy and Research fellow Shawn Fremstad recently wrote, under this measure, 'two adults raising two children in 2019 needed only $28,881 to not be poor (assuming they rented and lived somewhere with average housing costs).' For context, the average cost of a full-time childcare program was $16,000 that year."

"Newport Beach CEO steps down from company after being charged with child prostitution: Newport Beach resident Ian Charles Schenkel, facing charges of engaging in underage prostitution, has stepped down as chief executive of Haliburton International Foods, according to the company. The statement released by the Ontario-based company does not state the reason for Schenkel's resignation. Dan Glick, a management and financial advisor to the company, was appointed as the new CEO. Schenkel, who founded Haliburton International Foods, is no longer listed on the company's website."

Sorkin has made a movie. Rennie Davis himself had things to say about it. "'I was hit and knocked to the ground': the true story of The Trial of the Chicago 7 One of the defendants portrayed in Aaron Sorkin's Oscar-tipped film talks about the 1968 protest and the dramatic trial that followed [...] 'Certainly none of us want to go to prison for many years, so it's not to say we weren't mindful of the likely outcome, but quite honestly this was a group of people, myself included, who really saw the opportunity to basically speak to the country about the Vietnam war. We had different styles and we came from different organisations but, while the movie characterises us as squabbling and fighting a fair amount, it really wasn't the case.' [...] Davis has mixed feelings about the finished product. 'I was the coordinator of the coalition that went to Chicago and I brought back American prisoners of war from Vietnam at a time when places where I was living were being bombed by US military. In the movie, I'm made out to be a complete nerd who's afraid of his own shadow.' He adds: 'Sorkin was seven years old when the trial was occurring and clearly had no understanding of the defendants or, maybe more importantly, the tens of millions of people that were just passionately supporting us.'" I can't tell much from the trailer, but Sascha Baron Cohen does seem reasonably convincing as Abbie, even seems to have the accent. Looks like a good choice for the part.

RIP: Quilt Lady, or "ql" as she signed herself at Atrios' blog, had the keys to Eschaton like I do, except that she posted every morning while I was sleeping through to the afternoon and not checking to see if a new post was needed. I've been lousy about doing that these last few years, but she was diligent. I met her once and felt kinship with her. I'm going to miss her. Atrios wrote "Morning Thread - In Memoriam".

RIP: Mac Davis, Who Wrote Hits For Elvis, and Had His Own #1 Pop Single, Dies, at 78. He had hits of his own with "I Believe in Music" and "Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me", as well as songs her wrote for Elvis, including "In the Ghetto".

"No, the Nazis Were Not Socialists: The idea that the Nazis were socialists is transparently absurd. Unfortunately, it's also an idea that prominent figures on the Right like Sen. Rand Paul have taken up. So let's all say it together now: no, the Nazis were not socialists. They were, in fact, committed anti-socialists."

"Health Care: The Best and the Rest: Which Country Has the World's Best Health Care? [...] Truman proposed federal grants for hospital construction and medical research. He insisted, controversially, not only that the nation had too few doctors, but that the ones it did have were clustered in the wrong places. And he addressed the 'principal reason' that forced so many Americans to forgo vital medical care: 'They cannot afford to pay for it.' [...] The economist Milton Friedman once described the AMA as 'perhaps the strongest trade union in the United States.' It influenced medical school curriculums, limited the number of graduates, and policed the rules for certification and practice. For the AMA, Truman's proposal not only challenged the profession's autonomy, it also made doctors look as if they could not be trusted to place the country's needs above their own. As a result, the AMA ran a simultaneous campaign congratulating its members for making Americans the healthiest people in the world. The existing system worked, it claimed, because so many physicians followed the golden rule, charging patients on a sliding scale that turned almost no one away. If the patient was wealthy, the fee went up; others paid less, or nothing at all. What was better in a free society: the intrusive reach of the state or the big-hearted efforts of the medical community?"

"We Shouldn't Have to Work So Damn Much—An Interview With Jamie Mccallum: We're working longer hours than in decades. But we don't have to. We deserve a more democratic economy in which we have the free time to develop our talents, hang out with friends and family, and do whatever else we please. [...] However, if you dig into it, you find quite a lot of variation. What I found interesting was that low-wage workers have increased their time the most. We're all familiar with white-collar professionals being overworked, but I don't think that's the most interesting part of the story. So there's a trend toward overwork for everyone, but there is an unequal distribution of that rise in work time among different classes of people. Another dimension is increased unpredictability and volatility of schedules and hours, which is mostly the case for low-wage service-sector workers. In other words, their schedules became increasingly controlled by their managers and by technology. Unpredictable hours are volatile by design, not just happenstance. And they create an incredibly stressful and hectic work life. The last dimension is the rise in people simply not having enough hours, which is connected to the volatility. Because most employers require forty hours of availability to work, even if you only get twenty hours of work, it's hard to find a second job that you can also work out in a reasonable way. As a result, many people are suffering from involuntary unemployment."

Compare this article to the ones we saw about the "BernieBros": "Kamala Harris Has A Vibrant Online Fan Club. But It Also Has A Toxic Side: The KHive aims to amplify and support the Democratic vice presidential nominee, but some of its members have crossed the line from ardent fandom to overt harassment."

Peter Falk's Acceptance Speech for COLUMBO | Emmys Archive (1972), because I needed something to cheer me up.

"Graham Nash's 1960 meeting with the Everly Brothers set the path for his life in music."

"IF DONALD GOT FIRED - Randy Rainbow Parody (featuring Patti LuPone!)"

Heart with Jason Bonham "Stairway to Heaven" Led Zeppelin - Kennedy Center Honors HD — and some proud daddies in the audience.

04:19 GMT comment


Wednesday, September 30 2020

What hijacked my world that night?

I see a lot of people talking about Trump's Supreme Court nominee's weird and anti-constitutional religious views, but she also seems bent on creating the kind of society that God always liked to "smite" in the Bible. "Barrett Crushed Gig Workers Weeks Before Likely SCOTUS Nomination: In August, the likely Trump nominee delivered a key ruling blocking many gig workers from suing in court when tech companies deny them overtime pay. That ruling was one of a number of cases in which Barrett helped corporate interests prevail over workers. Her highest-profile business-focused actions on the federal bench have limited the enforcement of age-discrimination laws, restricted federal agencies power to punish companies that mislead consumers and reduced consumers' rights against predatory debt collectors, according to a recent report from the Alliance for Justice." She would be the third member of the Supremes to have helped Bush steal the 2000 election, with Roberts and Kavenaugh.

And wait, there's more! Nathan Robinson read all her court decisions and they told him "Why Amy Coney Barrett Should Not Be On The Supreme Court

"If You Think Amy Coney Barrett Is Extreme, Meet Judy Shelton: Trump's nominee to the Federal Reserve has gotten a lot less publicity. But her desire to return the US to the gold standard and eliminate federal deposit insurance could destroy the economy. [...] But Shelton doesn't believe in the idea of a Federal Reserve system, or indeed any power of government to determine the value or supply of money. In her 1994 book Money Meltdown, Shelton argued that the United States should 'repeal all current federal legal tender laws,' (p. 301) which would return the US financial system to its crazy-quilt pre-Civil War status, when states, banks, and companies could all issue their own money. She advocates eliminating the Federal Reserve's open market operations and ending the Fed's ability to hold government debt—the very tools that Powell and previous Fed chairs have used to try to keep and get us out of recessions. All of these extremist views are in service of reinstating a version of the gold standard, in which the dollar is tied to a specific amount of gold (as was the case in the Bretton Woods international financial system, which ended in 1971) and gold coins would be widely circulated. [...] Shelton has also taken the scary position that the US government should not guarantee bank deposits, a confidence-boosting safeguard that dates back to the Great Depression; some version of deposit insurance exists in every major economy in the world. To Shelton, federal deposit insurance 'undermines the integrity of the banking industry in the United States by steering it in the direction of excessively risky loan portfolios.' As for your savings account, Shelton wants to disabuse you of 'the mistaken notion that funds deposited in interest-bearing accounts at banking institutions can be thought of as being safe.'(pp. 305-6) Or at least that's what Shelton wrote in her 1994 book. When questioned during a February Senate hearing, Shelton said 'I totally support federal deposit insurance. We've had it since 1933.' Little wonder that senators accused her of a 'confirmation conversion.'"

"Pelosi Can Save Obamacare With a One-Line Amendment: By repealing the individual mandate, which is now functionally inert, the House Speaker can invalidate a push to eliminate the Affordable Care Act."

"Khaled El Masri stands up to CIA on intimidation, supports Assange during extradition trial: El Masri declared, 'I record here my belief that without dedicated and brave exposure of the state secrets in question what happened to me would never have been acknowledged and understood.' He added threats and intimidation are 'not diminishing but expanding for all concerned.' 'I nevertheless believe that the exposure of what happened was necessary not just for myself but for law and justice worldwide. My story is not yet concluded.' As El Masri noted, he submitted testimony because 'WikiLeaks publications were relied on by the [European Court of Human Rights] in obtaining the redress' he received."

Workers' rights are on the ballot in California — and on the table everywhere. Fascinating interview with Marshall Steinbaum on The Michael Brooks Show.

Thomas Frank is giving interviews on his latest book, The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism, and did a great free-wheeling interview with Sam Seder on The Majority Report, and another with Anton Jäger at Jacobin. I had fun listening to them.

"Gas Companies Are Abandoning Their Wells, Leaving Them to Leak Methane Forever: Just one orphaned site in California could have emitted more than 30 tons of methane. There are millions more like it

"A new report showing that US state-level voter databases were publicly available calls into question the narrative that Russian intelligence 'targeted' US state election-related websites in 2016. [...] In fact both un-redacted and redacted state voter files are obviously widely available on the dark web as well as elsewhere on the internet. Meduza, a Russian-language news site based in Riga, Latvia, published the Kommersant story along with an 'anonFiles' download portal for access to the Michigan voter database and a page from it showing that it is the officially redacted version. The DHS and the FBI both acknowledged in response to the Kommersant story that 'a lot of voter registration data is publicly available or easily purchased.'" I'd wondered about that myself, since I didn't have to sign in or offer any personal information to check my registration online.

"US Poverty Measure Fails to Meet Government Standards of Reliability, Accuracy, Timeliness, and Objectivity There are many reasons why the Census Bureau's statement is utterly unreliable and inaccurate, but here are the two most important ones. The poverty line used by the Census Bureau to produce this figure is 1) much lower than the amount of income most Americans say is needed to not be poor in today's America; and, 2) much lower than any reasonable expert estimate of the goods and services it takes to not be poor today." I believe I've remarked before on how ridiculously low the so-called "poverty line" is.

Craig Murray and others have been doing daily coverage of the extradition hearing of Julian Assange. Day 9: Things became not merely dramatic in the Assange courtroom today, but spiteful and nasty. There were two real issues, the evidence and the procedure. On the evidence, there were stark details of the dreadful regime Assange will face in US jails if extradited. On the procedure, we saw behaviour from the prosecution QC that went well beyond normal cross examination and was a real attempt to denigrate and even humiliate the witness. I hope to prove that to you by a straightforward exposition of what happened today in court, after which I shall add further comment."

"FinCEN Files: All you need to know about the documents leak: Leaked documents involving about $2tn of transactions have revealed how some of the world's biggest banks have allowed criminals to move dirty money around the world. They also show how Russian oligarchs have used banks to avoid sanctions that were supposed to stop them getting their money into the West. It's the latest in a string of leaks over the past five years that have exposed secret deals, money laundering and financial crime."

"Global banks defy U.S. crackdowns by serving oligarchs, criminals and terrorists: The FinCEN Files show trillions in tainted dollars flow freely through major banks, swamping a broken enforcement system."

"Strategic Aims Behind The War On Armenia" — I don't even want to write about this, but you might want to read it. It's all just too depressing.

"No Parks for the Poor: In the face of budget cuts, some land management agencies are ramping up user fees — and betraying the egalitarian promise of public lands. Livingston, Mont.—A while back I was loaf­ing around a camp­fire with a group of friends and strangers on the bank of one of this state's famous­ly beau­ti­ful rivers when the con­ver­sa­tion turned to the over­crowd­ing prob­lems on anoth­er of this state's famous­ly beau­ti­ful rivers. 'Is it too much to ask that we pay a small fee to use the pub­lic access sites on the riv­er?' offered a well-mean­ing and com­fort­ably wealthy retiree. 'I sure wouldn't mind.' Well, I do mind, and I think a lot of oth­er peo­ple do mind, too. Under­stand that it's not because I'm against con­ser­va­tion, or because I believe in human use of land above all else. In some cas­es I sup­port restrict­ing access to pub­lic land if it's cru­cial to pro­tect­ing wildlife habi­tat. What I'm against is con­ser­va­tion or facil­i­ty main­te­nance that depends on weed­ing out the poor."

"Bill Gates' Global Agenda and How We Can Resist His War on Life: Gates' 'funding' results in an erasure of democracy and biodiversity, of nature and culture. His 'philanthropy' is not just philanthrocapitalism. It is philanthroimperialism.

RIP: "Helen Reddy: Australian singer of feminist anthem 'I Am Woman' dies, at 78, "Reddy, who had Addison's disease and was diagnosed with dementia in 2015, spent the last years of her life in a celebrity care home in Los Angeles. She had a string of pop-rock hits in the 1970s, but is best known for the 1972 anthem 'I Am Woman' - which became prominent in the women's liberation movement."

RIP: "Stephen F. Cohen, Influential Historian of Russia, Dies at 81, of lung cancer. His wife, Katerina vanden Heuval, has a more personal tribute at The Nation.

RIP: Ruth Bader Ginsburg: US Supreme Court judge dies of cancer, aged 87." I know a lot of people loved her, and I certainly don't look forward to the GOP getting another one of their lunatics on Supreme Court, but she was a "moderate", which means she was really pretty conservative, and a lot of her votes did harm to America. So, no, I didn't cry when I heard the news. She was no Thurgood Marshall, no John Paul Stevens. Back in 2016, David Kinder wrote a review of Notorious RBG, "The Rise Of The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Cult: How a wizened, middle-of-the-road jurist became a T-shirt icon for millennial feminists," and made a convincing case that she wasn't all that. It's full of tidbits like this: "In Slate, Mark Joseph Stern contrasted Sotomayor's perceptiveness about police and prisons issues with Ginsburg's indifference: 'When it comes to understanding the systemic flaws and violent behavior of America's criminal justice system, there's no one quite like Justice Sonia Sotomayor... Sorry, Notorious R.B.G. groupies, but [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] has a bit of a law-and-order streak.' (This despite Sotomayor being an ex-prosecutor, while Ginsburg worked for the ACLU.)"

"Anosognosiogenesis @pookleblinky on Twitter: "Every heartwarming human interest story in america is like "he raised $20,000 to keep 200 orphans from being crushed in the orphan-crushing machine" and then never asks why an orphan-crushing machine exists or why you'd need to pay to prevent it from being used."

"The radical mysticism of identitarian reductionism: A sect of liberalism seems to reject any influence of the material economy on human behavior. [...] It is hard to overstate how historically and ideologically bizarre — how breathtaking in its counterintuition and metaphysical ambition — this doctrine of identitarian reductionism actually is. This is not just the usual identitarian claim that there are causal forces in our politics that cannot, ultimately, be traced back to the material economy. This is a second declaration: that somehow, the material economy is not also playing a role in our politics. At all. The fear, misery, and bitterness of poverty; the anxiety over one's precarious standing in the so-called middle class; the insular luxury and jealous ambition of wealth; the concentration of wealth, the evaporation of jobs, and so on — none of this, evidently, plays any role whatsoever in the emergence of demographic tribalism, in interpersonal attitudes, in voting behavior, and so on. This is obviously not the socialist position, but it is not even an ordinary capitalist position. From Adam Smith to Rand Paul to Elizabeth Warren, liberals have always admitted a role for economic 'incentives' in shaping human behavior and political outcomes. 'It's the economy, stupid' was considered a central insight of Democratic politics for more than two decades. On the contrary, the sort of ontology one would have to construct to rationalize an absolute analytical bias against material causality seems to have little precedent outside of certain genres of religious mysticism. As noted, I think that identitarian reductionism is probably best understood as a historical consequence of Clinton 2016's campaign messaging: it is what happens when liberal pundits with massive corporate platforms popularize hardline, hyperbolic criticism of 'class reductionists' out of rhetorical convenience. This is not, in other words, some inevitable expression of liberal ideology — it's even weirder than that. And regardless, we're going to be living with it for a long time.

"Four Steps to Transform the Pharmaceutical Industry and Survive the Pandemic: Dealing with the Covid crisis will require taking the profit motive out of our health systems. Here's how."

At Black Agenda Report, "The Democrats' Supreme Failure [...] The Supreme Court is supposed to be the issue that ends all arguments. The fact that the Democrats mishandled this situation so badly is one of the reasons they have deified the late justice Ginsburg. They have to divert attention from the mess they created. The federal courts would not play such a large political role if the Democrats were serious about winning and keeping legislative majorities. When Barack Obama was president they lost more than 900 seats in state legislatures, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The loss of the Senate was particularly devastating. Ginsburg should have stepped down when Obama still had the Democratic Party control needed to nominate a replacement. Instead, the 80-year old who had already been diagnosed with cancer was supremely arrogant. In 2014 Ginsburg was dismissive of prudent calls for her to retire and said so publicly . 'So tell me who the president could have nominated this spring that you would rather see on the court than me?' Thanks to her hubris, Democrats are now caught in a mixture of panic and overly deferential mourning."

Scary interview (text and audio), "Fool Me Twice: How Democrats Risk Repeating The Mistakes Of The Financial Crisis In The Era Of Covid-19: Economist James Galbraith explains what the U.S. economy will need to get back on its feet.. [...] They believe that what they did in 2008, 2009, and 2010 worked; that they can pull the economy out through a short-term program of stimulus and then shift to retrenchment of one kind or another in the following years." And this is why it has been making me crazy for years to hear people insist that Obama heroically "saved" the economy when, in fact, he screwed the pooch on the financial crisis.

Katie Halper and Matt Taibbi did a terrific interview with Glenn Greenwald on Useful idiots where Glenn makes a lot of great points about the vapidity and unreliability of our discourse. One point worth emphasizing is that the same people who were outraged when the Sanders campaign posted a clip of Joe Rogan (who'd once had the temerity to wonder whether mtf transsexuals could fairly compete with female athletes) saying he was probably voting for Bernie were nevertheless happy to embrace Rick Snyder's endorsement, despite the fact that he is the man who poisoned the water in Flint, MI. Glenn also explains exactly what really happened with Reality Winner and why the version of the story most people have heard is nothing like the truth.

"The Prochoice Religious Community May Be the Future of Reproductive Rights, Access, and Justice: There is a vast prochoice religious community in the United States that could provide the moral, cultural, and political clout to reverse current antiabortion policy trends in the United States. Most, but not all, of this demographic are Christians and Jews. There are also deeply considered, theologically acceptable, prochoice positions and, therefore, prochoice people and institutions within all of major world religious traditions present in the United States, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese traditions.1 Taken together, they have vast resources, institutional capacity, historic and central roles in many towns and cities, and cadres of well-educated leaders at every level—from national denominational offices to local congregational leaders, current and retired. This cohort is often measured by reputable pollsters and may actually comprise the majority or near majority of the religious community. Nevertheless, it is not well identified or sought out by the organized prochoice community, the media, and elected officials. What's more, this wide and diverse constituency is insufficiently organized by the prochoice religious community itself. But it could be. This essay will show that this demographic, and the institutions and traditions that inform it, may be the best hope for restoring and sustaining abortion rights, access, and justice in the United States at a time when the Christian Right and its allies in state and federal government are undermining and seeking to eliminate them."

This interview with George Farah, author of No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates is infuriating. Also includes an interview with Steve Silberstein on the fight to get rid of the Electoral College.

From 2014, "How the Rich Conquered the Economy, in One Chart" — The bottom 90% used to take the lion's share of income growth during expansions, but after 1980, this reversed, with the 90% getting a smaller and smaller bite of the growth until we get to the Obama years, when the 90% actually lost ground during the "expansion".

2017 in The Atlantic, "The Lost History of an American Coup D'État: Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina are locked in a battle over which party inherits the shame of Jim Crow. By the time the fire started, Alexander Manly had vanished. That didn't stop the mob of 400 people who'd reached his newsroom from making good on their promise. The crowd, led by a former congressman, had given the editor-in-chief an ultimatum: Destroy your newspaper and leave town forever, or we will wreck it for you. They burned The Daily Record to the ground. It was the morning of November 10, 1898, in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the fire was the beginning of an assault that took place seven blocks east of the Cape Fear River, about 10 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. By sundown, Manly's newspaper had been torched, as many as 60 people had been murdered, and the local government that was elected two days prior had been overthrown and replaced by white supremacists." Suzanne Mettler revisited this story on Tuesday's The Majority Report with Sam Seder.

The Straw Hat Riot: "A fashion faux pas turned violent in NYC's Straw Hat Riot. A bizarre incident in 1922 when the fashion police were supplanted by fashion vigilantes, out for blood. Like wearing white after Labor Day, wearing a straw boater after September 15 was a faux pas in 1920s America, and it was common practice for teenagers to knock straw hats off people's heads and stomp on them after that date. When, in 1922, a bunch of teenagers decided to start a few days early, things escalated quickly."

Noticed the old link that was there until maybe a few months ago has disappeared, but found a different one for "Operation Ignore".

The Avengers of Oz

Twilight Zone, the Lost Episode, with Jack Benny and Rod Serling.

"Nihilistic Password Security Questions"

Ray Manzarek on creating "Riders on the Storm"

Steve Cropper tells the story of how "Green Onions" came to be. And "Green Onions", 1962.

The Pretenders 2020, "Back on the Chain Gang". Chrissy Hynde was born in 1951.

23:48 GMT comment


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

I'm thinking about the fireworks

Must-listen: I hate making a video the top news item, but Richard Wolff's discussion of what our leaders have planned for us is absolutely terrifying. Not only are we already in a downward cascade, but they're pulling out all the stops on how miserable your life can be made by the same creatures who are no longer dependent on us as consumers since they are now directly funded by the government. Ah, but don't worry, Nancy Pelosi made sure that you get...74¢.Meanwhile, the CPFB has just announced a new rule allowing your dead relatives' creditors to harass you 40 times a week, while our government pours billions into corporations to play in the Big Casino. And neither Democrats nor Republicans are willing to discuss a jobs program. "USA political and economic collapse".

"Despite DNC focus on winning 'Biden Republicans,' poll suggests beating Trump is about Dem turnout: 'So much for going all out to get Republicans and shunning progressives.' Progressives are raising alarm over new poll results from CBS News out Tuesday, which suggest the Democratic Party's courting of moderate so-called "Biden Republicans" while sidelining popular progressive proposals and voices has not so far resulted in a groundswell of support for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden from disaffected GOP voters. In a poll taken between August 20 and 22, after the Democratic National Convention wrapped up last week, CBS found that just 5% of self-identified Republicans said they plan to vote for Biden in the November election; 93% said they were planning to vote for President Donald Trump. The president also led by 10 percentage points among Independent voters, who make up a plurality of U.S. voters. Justice Democrats spokesperson Waleed Shahid tweeted that the poll showed an "interesting dynamic" following a national convention at which the party gave more speaking time to anti-Trump Republicans including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Secretary of State Colin Powell than they did to popular progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), as well as largely ignoring a number of key progressive policy proposals. [...] Biden's support within the GOP is now lower than the number of Republicans who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to the CBS poll, as well as those who voted for former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012."

Remember when Obama promised single-payer advocates a "compromise" of a public option, but it turned out he was just playing 11-dimensional chess against us? Well, "Biden's flexibility on policy could mean fierce fights if he wins: WILMINGTON, Del. — When Joe Biden released economic recommendations two months ago, they included a few ideas that worried some powerful bankers: allowing banking at the post office, for example, and having the Federal Reserve guarantee all Americans a bank account. But in private calls with Wall Street leaders, the Biden campaign made it clear those proposals would not be central to Biden's agenda. 'They basically said, "Listen, this is just an exercise to keep the Warren people happy, and don't read too much into it,"' said one investment banker, referring to liberal supporters of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The banker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private talks, said that message was conveyed on multiple calls."

"House Democrats, Working With Liz Cheney, Restrict Trump's Planned Withdrawal of Troops From Afghanistan and Germany: The bipartisan commitment to using Russia for endless war and imperialism remains vibrant. THE U.S. MILITARY HAS BEEN fighting in Afghanistan for almost nineteen years. House Democrats, working in tandem with key pro-war GOP lawmakers such as Rep. Liz Cheney, are ensuring that continues. Last night, the House Armed Services Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of an amendment — jointly sponsored by Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado and Congresswoman Cheney of Wyoming — prohibiting the expenditure of monies to reduce the number of U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan below 8,000 without a series of conditions first being met. The imposed conditions are by no means trivial: for these troop reductions from Afghanistan to be allowed, the Defense Department must be able to certify, among other things, that leaving Afghanistan 'will not increase the risk for the expansion of existing or formation of new terrorist safe havens inside Afghanistan' and 'will not compromise or otherwise negatively affect the ongoing United States counter terrorism mission against the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and associated forces.'"

"KY Prosecutors Offer Breonna Taylor's Ex-Boyfriend Plea Deal to Name Taylor in Drug Case: In Louisville, Kentucky, prosecutors reportedly offered Breonna Taylor's ex-boyfriend a plea deal if he named Taylor as a member of an alleged 'organized crime syndicate' in return for leniency on drug charges. Jamarcus Glover turned down the plea deal. Prosecutors on Monday denied naming Breonna Taylor as a co-defendant in Glover's case and argued a document leaked on social media was just a draft as part of early negotiations. An attorney for Taylor's family who posted the photo on Facebook said it was a 'desperate' attempt by prosecutors to justify Taylor's killing. Protests have been ongoing to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, who was fatally shot by Louisville police in her own home in March. The officers involved in her killing have not been charged."

"Elon Musk Thinks His Treatment of Workers Is a 'Trade Secret': A wonky California legislative fight is a test of whether green jobs will be good jobs, too. Leave it to Elon Musk and his ilk to show that paying companies to create good, green jobs is easier said than done. Right now, his companies are opposing a California bill that will allow the public to access data on wages, benefits, and working conditions that they already provide to the state as a condition of public subsidy and procurement contracts. From the Green New Deal to Joe Biden's campaign platform, any measures proposing to pay corporations to create well-paid clean energy jobs would need public oversight to ensure follow-through. But as this tense, wonky fight in the Californian statehouse is showing, even the greenest parts of Corporate America may not be up for such transparency. Until now, companies with state and local contracts in California have claimed that wages, working conditions, and other hiring and employment information constitute proprietary 'trade secrets' exempt from state disclosure rules and the California Public Records Act, or CPRA. Senate Bill 749 aims to close that loophole, making the information companies already provide to state agencies as a condition of public subsidies and procurement contracts subject to public records requests. Opposition to SB 749 has been led by the California Manufacturers Technology Association, a trade lobby including Musk's Tesla, as well as the California Chamber of Commerce, SpaceX, and several defense contractors, including Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. In addition to complaints about making alleged trade secrets public, they've argued through public letters and calls to legislators that such rules could require companies to disclose 'potentially dangerous information related to the supply chains, staffing, and even the location of specific projects with national defense implications,' according to a floor alert about SB 749 sent to legislators by groups opposed to the bill. But the state's public records rules already include several protections against disclosing information with national security implications, which aren't under the purview of the trade secrets loopholes contested by SB 749."

"Appeals court temporarily halts protections for journalists, legal observers in Portland: A three-judge panel on Thursday temporarily halted protections for journalists and legal observers covering the unrest In Portland, Oregon. Last week, federal Judge Michael Simon ruled that journalists and legal observers were exempt from federal officers' physical force, arrest or other treatment if the officers "reasonably know" that a person is a journalist or legal observer. But in a 2-1 decision, the judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, agreed with the government that Judge Simon's initial ruling was too broad. 'Given the order's breadth and lack of clarity, particularly in its non-exclusive indicia of who qualifies as 'Journalists' and 'Legal Observers,' appellants have also demonstrated that, in the absence of a stay, the order will cause irreparable harm to law enforcement efforts and personnel," two of the three judges wrote. "This means that journalists could be subjected to the same physical force as that of the individuals participating.'"

"The Pentagon has ordered Stars and Stripes to shut down for no good reason: Even for those of us who are all too wearily familiar with President Donald Trump's disdain for journalists, his administration's latest attack on the free press is a bit of a jaw-dropper. In a heretofore unpublicized recent memo, the Pentagon delivered an order to shutter Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that has been a lifeline and a voice for American troops since the Civil War. The memo orders the publisher of the news organization (which now publishes online as well as in print) to present a plan that 'dissolves the Stars and Stripes' by Sept. 15 including "specific timeline for vacating government owned/leased space worldwide.' 'The last newspaper publication (in all forms) will be September 30, 2020,' writes Col. Paul Haverstick Jr., the memo's author."

"How millions from Uber and Lyft are funding the harassment of a critic: Veena Dubal has spent much of her professional career examining and writing about the rise of the gig economy and the loss of employment rights by workers in that sector. An associate professor at UC Hastings law school, Dubal has been an outspoken supporter of AB5, the California law designed to rein in those employment abuses, including those by the ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft. She's also a critic of Proposition 22, the initiative funded chiefly by Uber and Lyft aimed at overturning AB5. As a result of her criticism of Uber, Lyft and the gig economy business model, Dubal has become the target of harassment on Twitter, some of it obscene and some of it overtly encouraged by the Yes on Proposition 22 campaign, which is heavily funded by Uber and Lyft. Her home address has been published online, which prompted her local police department to start regular patrols around her home. She has been falsely accused of having written AB5 and having had a 'hand' in the 2018 California Supreme Court decision that led to AB5."

What if Trump could do something to give red meat to his base and piss off the libs - and it would be a good thing? "Trump orders crackdown on federal antiracism training, calling it 'anti-American': Memo directs officials to identify spending related to training on "critical race theory' and "white privilege'" — It would be a blessing to get rid of this stuff, which does nothing but treat minorities as "others" who have to be constantly placated while distracting from the larger issues that make the concrete lives of minorities (and many whites!) miserable.

"What is happening to Portland?: Summer, which was once characterized by waterfront festivals, is now just the time of the year when right-wing provocateurs come here looking for trouble. These demonstrations are planned in advance, many times calling for people to attend from across the nation, and often it is Patriot Prayer who organizes them. Patriot Prayer is a far-right group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as containing 'violent extremists' and, like many other far-right groups that stage these events, most of their members do not live in Portland. Instead, the monthly (and sometimes weekly) far right demonstrations held here are typically full of out-of-town individuals, many of whom are armed with weapons. And once assembled, they shout insults and slurs at nearby locals. And that's on a good day. Many times these events also devolve into violence. If the goal was to recruit and persuade the people of Portland, it is a poor strategy. But that does not appear to be their purpose. Rather, the goal appears to be provocation and intimidation."

"Under Trump the NLRB Has Gone Completely Rogue: An agency founded to defend workers' rights is dismantling them just when workers need them most. [...] The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a New Deal agency established by Congress to implement and enforce the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the law giving most private-sector workers the right to join together and take action, whether through forming a formal union or not, to improve their pay, benefits, and working conditions. These rights are more relevant now than ever, as demonstrated by the recent wave of strikes and job actions by health care workers and workers at Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and other companies. Workers have taken to the streets, started petition drives, and made bargaining demands in an effort to get their employers to provide safety equipment and institute other measures to protect them from workplace exposure to the Covid-19. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, worker interest in organizing unions was on the rise, with the percentage of nonunion workers saying they would vote for a union if given the chance up 50 percent from a similar poll 25 years ago. The board is currently composed of three white male NLRB members and another white male general counsel (prosecutor)'all Republicans, three with careers representing corporations and one as a Republican Capitol Hill staffer. Both Democratic seats are currently vacant. There is nobody currently on the NLRB with experience representing workers or unions. Through these appointees, an agency that is supposed to protect workers' right to organize has taken the law in exactly the opposite direction. In decision after decision, the NLRB has stripped workers of their protections under the law, restricted their ability to organize at their workplace, slowed down the union election process to give employers more time to campaign against the union, repealed rules holding employers accountable for their actions, and undermined workers' bargaining rights.

"Possible evidence found for life on Venus: The best evidence for life beyond Earth has been found in the most surprising of places — the atmosphere of Venus. A team led by Jane Greaves, who is a professor at Cardiff University, has detected the presence of phosphine gas in Venus' clouds. The intriguing thing about phosphine, which is a molecule formed of three hydrogen atoms and one phosphorous atom, is that on Earth its only natural source is from some anaerobic (i.e., non-oxygen breathing) microbial lifeforms. No known geological mechanism or non-biological chemical reaction produces it on our planet, although it is produced deep inside gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn where hydrogen is plentiful and the temperature and pressure extremely high."

RIP: "David Graeber, anthropologist and author of Bullshit Jobs, dies aged 59: David Graeber, anthropologist and anarchist author of bestselling books on bureaucracy and economics including Bullshit Jobs: A Theory and Debt: The First 5,000 Years, has died aged 59. On Thursday Graeber's wife, the artist and writer Nika Dubrovsky, announced on Twitter that Graeber had died in hospital in Venice the previous day. In a statement, Graeber's publisher, Penguin Random House, said that the cause of death was not yet known. Renowned for his biting and incisive writing about bureaucracy, politics and capitalism, Graeber was a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement and professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics (LSE) at the time of his death. The historian Rutger Bregman called Graeber 'one of the greatest thinkers of our time and a phenomenal writer', while the Guardian columnist Owen Jones called him 'an intellectual giant, full of humanity, someone whose work inspired and encouraged and educated so many'. " This is a terrible shock, he had sounded healthy and vital in recent interviews and to have him gone at a mere 59 years of age is really distressing. He was a hero for some of us.

RIP: "Diana Rigg, Avengers and Game of Thrones star, dies aged 82: Actor who played Emma Peel in hit spy series and James Bond's only wife was diagnosed with cancer in March." We loved Mrs. Peel and she was wonderful as Lady Tyrell. One great, great Dame.

RIP: Shere Hite, 77, "'She began the real sexual revolution for women': The pioneering feminist Shere Hite, known for her research on female sexuality, has died at the age of 77. She was best known for The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality, which has sold more than 50m copies since publication in 1976." She was important, although it didn't exactly answer my prayers to now have guys obsessing on muff-diving in an effort to give me an orgasm. I hate it when guys think they know how to "pleasure a woman", as if we were all identical. Reality is that most guys may like sloppy kisses but some guys don't, and most women don't like sloppy kisses although some women do, and sex is like that all over the place and you can't read a book and know what that particular person is going to like. But bless Shere Hite for telling the world that reproductive sex isn't necessarily the optimal road to female orgasm.

RIP: "Joan Feynman, Who Shined Light on the Aurora Borealis, Dies at 93: Joan Feynman grew up in the shadow of her older brother, the brilliant scientist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman. When she expressed interest in following in his footsteps, her mother crushed the impulse. 'My mother warned me, "Women's brains can't do science,"' Ms. Feynman recalled in a 2018 speech at the California Institute of Technology. Despite those discouraging words, Ms. Feynman went on to become a world-famous astrophysicist. She predicted sunspot cycles and figured out how many high-energy particles were likely to hit a spacecraft over its lifetime, allowing the space industry to design satellites and capsules with greater longevity. Her crowning achievement was understanding solar activity and its influence on Earth, including auroras, those dazzling, psychedelic displays of colors — known as the aurora borealis in the Northern Hemisphere and the aurora australis in the Southern — that inflame the night skies."

"People worry that 'moderate' Democrats like Joe Biden are the same as Republicans. Our study suggests they may be right [...] When it comes to addressing climate change, Eric Levitz of New York Magazine argued that 'a major [obstacle] is the tendency of moderate Democrats to mistake their own myopic complacency for heroic prudence'. Political researcher David Adler found that across Europe and North America, centrists are the least supportive of democracy, the least committed to its institutions, and the most supportive of authoritarianism. Furthermore, Adler found that centrists are the least supportive of free and fair elections as well as civil rights — in the United States, only 25 percent of centrists agree that civil rights are an essential feature of democracy. [...] This IDEALS finding is on par with a recent Gallup study encompassing over 29,000 interviews with American adults, which revealed that moderates and conservatives remain closely aligned in their ideological preferences. This raises important questions heading into the election: Is a moderate male candidate a bait-and-switch for Democratic voters? Are they actually casting their votes for a conservative?"

Branko Marcetic on the RNC, "Last Night's GOP Insanity Proves How Much the Two Parties Need Each Other: The lunacy on display at last night's Republican National Convention is what keeps frightened liberal voters satisfied with the meager crumbs of progress offered by the Democrats — and the meagerness of those crumbs is what keeps working-class whites inside an increasingly lunatic GOP."

"The carbon footprint sham: A 'successful, deceptive' PR campaign" — You're not the big polluter, but the big polluters sure want you to think so.

"Michael Hudson: How an 'Act of God' Pandemic Is Destroying the West: The U.S. Is Saving the Financial Sector, Not the Economy: Yves here. Michael Hudson explains how the American fixation on protecting creditors is making our bad response to the coronacrisis even worse. And unlike the 2008 crisis, this time the damage to the real economy is overwhelming, meaning the logic of putting financial firms at the head of the line is even weaker than back then. Before juxtaposing the U.S. and alternative responses to the coronavirus's economic effects, I would like to step back in time to show how the pandemic has revealed a deep underlying problem. We are seeing the consequences of Western societies painting themselves into a debt corner by their creditor-oriented philosophy of law. Neoliberal anti-government (or more accurately, anti-democratic) ideology has centralized social planning and state power in 'the market,' meaning specifically the financial market on Wall Street and in other financial centers."

"Democrats Have Failed Urban Black Americans: The Republican critique of misrule in American cities has some merit, and it's not clear that Joe Biden's party is prepared to meet the need: On the first night of the Republican National Convention on Monday, viewers were treated to a taped speech by Kimberly Klacik, a young, Black candidate for Maryland's 7th House district, which includes a large share of Baltimore. She won't be among the convention's best-remembered appearances, but she did manage to capsulize much of Trump's message for Black urban voters in just two short minutes. 'Let me remind you that Democrats have controlled this part of Baltimore City for over 50 years,' she said. 'And they have run this beautiful place right into the ground. Abandoned buildings, liquor stores on every corner, drug addicts, guns on the street—that's now the norm in many neighborhoods. You'd think Maryland taxpayers would be getting a whole lot since our taxes are out of control. Instead, we're paying for decades of incompetence and corruption. Sadly, this same cycle of decay exists in many of America's Democrat-run cities.' [...] It goes without saying that nothing in Klacik's 300-word platform would solve the deep problems facing Baltimore or any city. Tax incentives that flow largely to well-off neighborhoods and school choice policies aren't going to undo decades of socioeconomic and structural decay in poor communities. We know this because Democrats have tried them; the failures Klacik points to have been efforts to do exactly as she recommends now. We know too that the dismantling of the federal welfare state and mass incarceration failed to revive poor communities and that the Republican Party remains a central obstacle to federal urban investment. The question is what Democrats will attempt now to turn the page."

"The New Face of Union-Busting: Anti-labor strategies with a liberal twist [...] Over the years, the anti-union industrial complex has evolved into a lucrative field unto itself; it's not all brash targeted firings and stuffy, captive audience meetings anymore. Some solutions are quieter, sneakier, and more suited to the image that outwardly progressive or even 'social justice'-oriented organizations seek to convey. Whether it's hiring a very specific kind of law firm, chiseling away at a new union's bargaining unit to lessen its impact, or forcing workers to jump through the hoop of holding a secret ballot election instead of just voluntarily recognizing their union, these more genteel tactics can be just as effective as those wielded by old-fashioned strikebreakers, even if they're no longer quite as violent."

"Larry Flynt: My Final Farewell to the Falwells: When I heard that Jerry Falwell Jr. had resigned the presidency of Liberty University in disgrace, it struck me as the belated ending to a long personal saga with the Falwell clan— and an essential footnote to the role of religion and free speech in America. For those unfamiliar with ancient history, it began in the 1970s, soon after I started publishing Hustler."

This is a few years old from Steve Brust, but it's a pretty sharp retort to the claim that Obama was helpless because of the Republicans. "President Obama's Legacy in his Own Words Except Not."

"Mick Jagger demanded penis apology from Keith Richards as 'prerequisite' to Rolling Stones reunion." It's not really a very interesting story but it was just amusing to have that headline show up on my screen.

"One American Wrote Most of Scots Wikipedia. And They Got It All Wrong. [...] A wiki with tens of thousands of entries in what's supposed to be the Scots language — and they were nearly all written by one, very prolific and very American person. A person — who does not speak Scots. [...] 'This is going to sound incredibly hyperbolic and hysterical but I think this person has possibly done more damage to the Scots language than anyone else in history.'"

Terry Carr's last public appearance at ConFederation, the 1986 Worldcon, in Atlanta.

"The Glorias | Official Teaser

The Pretenders, "Don't Get Me Wrong" (official music video)

01:01 GMT comment


Monday, 31 August 2020

He knows that all his hopes and dreams begin and end there

Senator Bernie Sanders' complete remarks at 2020 Democratic National Convention may be the only speech from the DNC that causes anyone to vote for Biden who might not have.

Obama also spoke at the DNC, and listening to him say these things as if they were about Republicans rather than himself and his cronies was absolutely infuriating.

Michael Moore makes his case: "Ep. 113: I'm Voting For Joe Biden Because I Don't Believe Him | Rumble w Michael Moore podcast."

The Majority Report's crew looks at the possibilities for Congress and says, "No Such Thing As An Unwinnable Race In 2020."

In Minnesota, Michigan, and Arizona, Biden's numbers look too close for comfort.

"Biden suggests he'd nominate Obama to Supreme Court." Imagine wasting a Supreme Court seat on the only president ever to claim he had a right to kill American citizens without charges or trail - and did it, for speech he didn't like.

Meanwhile, "Chuck Schumer isn't an 'angry centrist' anymore" — or so he claims. Is he still getting his polling from that imaginary couple? (I'm not making this up.)

"Carter Center to launch first-ever US election initiative, citing 'erosion' of democracy: Exclusive: Democracy promotion group founded by Jimmy Carter will launch US-focused initiative for first time in its history. [...] 'We are now at a point where we have taken an institutional decision to explore some direct engagement on US election issues. And this is a departure from our whole history trying not to do that,' David Carroll, director of the centre's Democracy Programme, told The Independent. In the past, he added, the centre has prioritised countries where there is 'a significant potential for an important change in the quality of democracy', or where democracy is 'under severe threat'. 'Until the last 10 years, we wouldn't have thought of the US in that category. But it's been increasingly the view of the Carter Center that the state of democracy in the US has been eroding.'"

"The Police Are Pretty Sure They're Going to Get Away With It: In Portsmouth, Virginia, cops have been systematically using their state power to tyrannize political enemies. As my colleague Adam Weinstein noted a few weeks ago, it has become a minor cliché in American political rhetoric to ask your audience to imagine how the media would cover some domestic development if it were taking place overseas, in one of the countries we consider less 'free.' But the device does make clear the extent to which we are willing to tolerate authoritarianism and petty tyranny here in the United States. How can anyone accurately describe what is happening in Portsmouth, Virginia, for example, without lapsing into the language of the foreign correspondent? The security forces are threatening to detain their political opponents. In June, protesters beheaded a few Confederate statues in Portsmouth and tore down another, which landed on and injured a demonstrator. Several months later, Portsmouth police, taking advantage of Virginia's magistrate system, which bypasses elected prosecutors in these decisions, charged various local civil rights leaders, public defenders, and the president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate, Louise Lucas, with felony charges of conspiracy to injure a monument. [...] The Virginian-Pilot's Ana Ley and Gary A. Harki reported that 'elected officials, activists and historians' have identified a 'clear pattern' in which Portsmouth's 'majority-Black population pushes its government to repair strained police relations, spend more tax dollars on children and pass countless other measures to make Portsmouth more equitable,' only for that majority to find its representatives hounded out of power by the police."

Sirota, "Team Biden Now Signals Austerity, Despite Campaign Pledges: Biden's top adviser made a hugely important declaration -- and almost nobody noticed it. The Democratic convention has sucked up all the political oxygen in America — so much so, that most people missed Team Biden signaling that it may back off the entire agenda it is campaigning on. This monumental declaration went almost completely unnoticed for an entire day — which is a genuinely disturbing commentary on how the biggest of big political news gets routinely ignored. To review the situation: earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that Biden's 'campaign rolled out a $3.5 trillion economic program over the past month' — one that 'promises to invest in clean energy and caregiving, buy more made-in-America goods, and start narrowing the country's racial wealth gaps.' This, said the news service, was proof that Biden no longer adhered to an ideology of austerity and deficit hawkery — which would be good news. But then on the eve of Biden's convention speech, the Democratic nominee's top aide suggested to Washington reporters that, in fact, that's not true. [...] Economist Dean Baker goes over exactly how destructive and insane this ideology is. As he says: 'The idea that we would not address pressing needs, like climate change, child care, and health care because we are concerned about the debt burden is close to crazy. As long as the economy is not near its capacity, there is zero reason not to spend to address these priorities.' I encourage you to read his piece. [...] This is not the first time there's been silence on stuff like this — less than a month ago Biden explicitly promised his Wall Street donors that despite his public campaign promises, he will not be pushing new legislation to change corporate behavior. That happened and it basically went unreported. You didn't see it on MSNBC or hear it on NPR. You didn't see it anywhere, except for right here at TMI (this is the kind of reporting you are supporting when you become a subscriber). [...] Nathan Tankus reacts to the Biden statement: 'This is completely unacceptable. I don't want a qanon president in 2024. The fiscal policy we need is much greater than short term stimulus and committing to 'long run' austerity is horrendous and amounts to a commitment to cut medicare and social security.'"

"The Burden of the Debt: Lessons for Biden Adviser Ted Kaufman: Top Biden adviser, and long-time personal friend, Ted Kaufman was seen in the Wall Street Journal warning that the debt run up by the Trump administration will seriously limit what Biden will be able to do as president. This is wrong big time, and it is the sort of silly thing that no one in a Biden administration should ever be saying. The government's ability to spend is limited by the economy's ability to produce, not the debt. If the government spends too much, it will lead to inflation. When we have a period of high unemployment, as is the case now and almost certainly will still be the case if Biden takes office in January, we are very far from hitting the economy's inflation barriers. It takes some very deliberate head in the ground economics to argue that we are somehow limited by the size of the government debt. Japan provides a great model here. Its ratio of debt to GDP is more than 250 percent, more than twice the current U.S. level. Yet, the country is seeing near zero inflation and has a 0.03 percent interest rate on its long-term debt. The interest on its debt is near zero, since much of its debt carries a negative interest rate. The idea that we would not address pressing needs, like climate change, child care, and health care because we are concerned about the debt burden is close to crazy."

"I Have Spent My Career Advocating for Fair Housing. It's Good to See Obama's Rule Go: The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, as adopted by the Obama administration and scrapped by the Trump administration, didn't include the policy tools necessary to achieve fair housing in the United States, according to this opinion piece. [...] Many civil rights advocates have decried the Trump administration's actions, accurately noting that it reflects Trump's hostility to equal justice generally and Black Americans in particular. But they shouldn't complain. Withdrawing the rule represents a crucial first step in breaking down racial segregation—for reasons completely opposite to Trump's intentions. The final AFFH rule under Obama was almost comically weak. It literally contained no rules for how state and local governments were actually supposed to "Affirmatively Further Fair Housing." It only promised an "Assessment Tool" for how cities were supposed to evaluate the impacts of their policies. Note the word "promise": the rule did not even contain the Assessment Tool itself. It simply said that at some point in the future, HUD would present the Assessment Tool. [...] If the Obama rule was weak but the Trump Rule is awful, why does it matter? Decrying the demise of the Obama rule sets us up for a terrible outcome in the event that a Biden Administration takes power next year. A Biden-led HUD that merely reinstates the Obama rule might proclaim it a great triumph. It is anything but. Celebrating the Obama's AFFH rule presents the real danger that it will become a ceiling rather than a floor for future fair housing policy."

"NYT Urges Biden to Shun His Party's 'Left-Leaning Brand': As the Democratic National Convention kicks off, election season is finally heating up again—which means it's time for corporate media to get back to flogging their 'move to the center' horse when covering Democrats. This week's edition comes from New York Times reporter Reid J. Epstein, in an article headlined, 'How Biden Could Learn From Conor Lamb's Victory in Trump Country' (8/16/20). Lamb won his long-shot House race in a 2018 special election, in a district in southwestern Pennsylvania that went for Trump in 2016 by around 20 points."

"Media Show Little Interest in Israeli Bombing of Gaza: Israel is bombing Palestine again, although you likely wouldn't guess that from watching TV news. For the eleventh straight night, Israeli Defense Force warplanes have been bombing the densely populated Gaza Strip. Israel's bombs have caused considerable damage, forcing the shutdown of the area's only power plant. But US corporate media, focused on the coronavirus and election coverage, have shown little interest in the renewed violence in the Middle East. Searching for 'Gaza' on the websites of NBC News, CNN, MSNBC and PBS elicits no relevant results. Nor has Fox News addressed the bombings, although it did find time (8/18/20) to cover the archaeological discovery of an old soap factory in Israel's Negev Desert."

"RAY McGOVERN: Catapulting Russian-Meddling Propaganda: The New York Times is leading the full-court press to improve on what it regards as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's weak-kneed effort to blame the Russians for giving us Donald Trump. [...] The recent release of a 1,000-page, sans bombshells and already out-of-date report by the Senate Intelligence Committee has provided the occasion to 'catapult the propaganda,' as President George W. Bush once put it."

"Terrible Rumor: Donald Norcross, A Conservative Democrat From New Jersey's Most Corrupt Political Family Is Being Vetted As Biden's Labor Secretary: Neoliberal Democratic presidents do a little balancing dance when they pick their first cabinets. They give a grotesque Wall Street whore the Treasury job and they gave a real progressive the Labor Secretary job. JFK's first Secretary of Labor was Arthur Goldberg, a Steelworkers general counsel who was appointed to the Supreme Court. JFK didn't even pretend when it came to the Treasury Secretary; he gave the job to conservative Republican and Wall Street bankster Douglas Dillon. Bill Clinton gave the Labor job to Robert Reich and then appointed 3 for the most conservative assholes to Treasury imaginable: Lloyd Bentsen, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. Obama gave Labor to Hilda Solis-- another outstanding progressive-- and Treasury to Wall Street creep Tim Geithner. There's no reason to imagine Biden isn't going to find a nightmarish conservative for the Treasury job. Bank on it. And I think he intends to pick a progressive for Labor-- but not a real progressive. A rumor has been circulating in New Jersey and DC that he has his mind on a crooked pro-labor conservative congressman, Donald Norcross. How can Norcross be called a progressive? Well, he can't-- except that Mark Pocan sold him a spot in the Progressive Caucus and made him vice chair for labor. Norcross doesn't have an "A" rating from Progressive Punch, nor even a "B" or a "C." He doesn't even have a "D." Nope-- pure "F." That's Pocan's idea of a progressive-able-to-write-a-check. And Biden's people honed right in on it.

RIP: "Chadwick Boseman: Black Panther star dies of cancer aged 43: The actor died at his Los Angeles home after being diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago." @fpaulwilson tweeted: Chadwick Boseman...let me get this straight: He made "Black Panther," "Avengers: Infinity War," "Avengers: Endgame," "21 Bridges," "Da 5 Bloods," and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" while undergoing multiple surgeries and chemo without letting anyone know he was sick. That's a mensch."

"White Vigilantes Have Always Had A Friend In Police: New data shows that far-right vigilantes, often with support from cops, have threatened protesters nearly 500 times since police killed George Floyd [...] The dataset, which Ross shared with HuffPost, documents a staggering amount of violence directed at protesters by the far-right, including 64 cases of simple assault, 38 incidents of vigilantes driving cars into demonstrators, and nine times shots were fired at protesters. All told, six protesters were hit by vigilante bullets in this summer's violence. Three died from their wounds. Ross' dataset also includes 387 incidents of intimidation, such as people using racist slurs, making threats and brandishing firearms. 'There just isn't really anything to compare it to,' Ross told HuffPost. 'I've never seen anything like this in my life.' "

Bloomberg, "INSIGHT: The Simple Fix For Corporate Income Tax—Tax Stock Returns: The 2017 tax law didn't accomplish what it promised, writes Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The author says the main problem with the current system is that it is focused on the wrong target. Instead of taxing corporate profits, we should be taxing stock returns."

"You can't trust the media on Evo Morales: Socialists are being taught an important lesson in skepticism towards international reporting. When the BBC broke news this morning that exiled Bolivian leader Evo Morales has been accused of rape, I didn't believe it. I wasn't skeptical of the charge because I had any countervailing evidence about what had happened. I didn't harbor doubts because of some personal judgment about Morales himself, though as far as I can tell he seems to be a profoundly decent and honorable man. And I didn't even dismiss it because of something suspicious about the reporting, which on its face seemed quite damning. The reason I was skeptical about this news is simple: the right uses fabricated allegations of crimes and atrocities in order to advance its agenda all of the time. And this is particularly true in the international arena, where tales of horrors perpetrated by Official Enemies of the beltway blob and its corporate sponsors bubble up constantly. At first these narratives can seem extremely convincing, and the pressure to accept them and condemn their targets is always extraordinary — yet time and after time, it turns out that they were exaggerated, or outright fabricated. That appears to be the case once again with Morales."

Why should anyone vote for this? "Joe Biden's Platform for 2020: Anti-Populism: By criticizing the views of both Berniecrats and Trumpites, Biden is positioning himself as the antidote to populism in all its forms and flavors."

I'm not sure how many people haven't figured out yet that Politifact has a right-wing bias, but "PolitiFact's 'Trump-O-Meter' is an embarrassing encapsulation of the problem with modern media: On Monday, fact-checking organization PolitiFact tweeted a link to one of the entries in its 'Trump-O-Meter' campaign-promise tracker. In doing so, the organization highlighted a longstanding problem with its own work."

Jeff Sharlet in Vanity Fair, "'He's The Chosen One To Run America': Inside The Cult Of Trump, His Rallies Are Church And He Is The Gospel: Trump's rallies—a bizarre mishmash of numerology, tweetology, and white supremacy—are the rituals by which he stamps his name on the American dream. As he prepares to resume them for the first time in months, his followers are ready to receive. [...] Jones is only the second person I've met at the rally, so I don't yet know just how common this perspective is. Through a season of Trump rallies across the country, before the global pandemic forced the president to retreat for a while from the nation's arenas, I spoke with dozens of Trump supporters who believe that the Democratic establishment primarily serves as a cover for child sex trafficking." Sharlet tells Sam Seder in an interview that he once told people that fascism couldn't happen in America, but after attending Trump rallies and talking to Trump's supporters, he's realized his mistake. Well, part of it - I don't think he recognizes the material reasons why cults like this can come to dominance. But his explanations in the interview of what his supporters believe and how well Trump plays to them is downright spooky. And I'm sure the relationship between Epstein and Bill Clinton just underscores their belief that Democrats are sex-trafficking cannibals.

"How the 'Useful Idiots' of Liberal New York Fueled Income Inequality: Kurt Andersen, founder of Spy magazine and the author of Evil Geniuses, on how affluent lefties slept through the escalating inequality crisis. Including him. In his new best-selling book, Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History, the author and cultural critic Kurt Andersen performs a deep excavation of the country's inequality crisis. He finds the roots not only in the balance-tilting schemes of Wall Street and the champions of right-wing political economics but also in the obliviousness of the liberal professional class. For decades, these liberals have been the useful idiots, as he calls them, in the plan that has funneled financial spoils to the tiny percentage of Americans now riding out the current catastrophes in Hamptons compounds, and left everyone else scrambling. Kurt, a former colleague at Time magazine (and by colleague, I mean boss), cops to his own part in the profound social reordering that has taken place since the 1980s."

Another great interview of John Nichols by Nomiki Konst, "Henry Wallace Was the OG Bernie Sanders"

Bhaskar Sunkara interviews Harvey Kaye about Thomas Paine.

Reminder: "Free Trade is a Myth." Or more to the point, it's a lie that "free trade" has lifted millions out of poverty.

FiveThirtyEight , "The Moderate Middle Is A Myth."

Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey is why, although it was already widely-used in Europe, Thalidomide was never approved for use in the United States. She didn't like the look of existing data so she withheld approval despite continued pressure from the manufacturer, and then, "In November 1961, reports began to emerge in Germany and the United Kingdom that mothers who had taken thalidomide during pregnancy were now having babies with severe birth defects. Dr. Helen Taussig learned of the tragedy from one of her students and traveled to Europe to investigate. By testifying before the Senate, Tauusig was able to help Kelsey ban thalidomide in the United States for good. At least 4000 children in Europe were affected by the drug, but thanks to Kelsey's rigorous professionalism a similar tragedy was averted here in America.."

Christo and Jean-Claude's The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-05

"Announcing the winners of Portrait of Humanity 2020"

Gary U.S. Bonds, "The Pretender"

02:37 GMT comment


Tuesday, 18 August 2020

But the post office has been stolen and the mail box is locked

My avatar went touristing in Second Life and found this plant display restful. If you're bored being cooped up, you might want to try this sort of thing.

"Former Attorney General Holder Suggests Postmaster General Should Be Prosecuted: As Democrats increasingly decry what they have characterized as President Donald Trump's assault on the U.S Postal Service, some are warning of possible legal consequences for the administration's actions. Among them is former Attorney General Eric Holder. On Saturday morning, law professor and legal analyst Barb McQuade pointed out that obstructing mail is a federal offense and wondered who would prosecute Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in the Department of Justice headed by William Barr. 'The next, real, Justice Department,' Holder replied. Earlier, Holder posted a tweet that simply stated the law regarding the fines and imprisonment of up to six months that anyone who 'willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail' can face. Holder has been posting quite a bit on the Postal Service lately and in that sense is like a lot of Democrats who have taken up the issue that was simmering for weeks in the news cycle but seemed unable to break through amid the coronavirus disaster. Now, Democrats increasingly seem to realize that Trump's actions regarding the Postal Service gives them an opportunity to coalesce behind a message that might even help them win over new voters." Pelosi should be calling the House back from vacation immediately to start impeachment proceedings, of course. No need to wait for Mitch McConnel to convict, just have hearings with people getting up every day and pointing out that the president has admitted he is rigging the election and that his Postmaster General is committing a federal crime, apparently under Trump's orders. Make sure Americans turning on their TVs know what they're up to and to forget about getting their birthday cards and medications and other necessities in the mail until these swine are kicked out of government. Trump doesn't have to still be in office to be impeached and convicted. If the election goes well for the Democrats, they can do both after the new Congress is seated. Of course, this is Pelosi and Schumer we're talking about, so they might not do a bloody thing.

"The Left Needs to Stop Falling for Absurd Sex Panics: The absurd allegations against progressive Congressional candidate Alex Morse have now been exposed as a hoax. But they couldn't have been better calculated to excite a Left prone to mindless sex panics. Alex Morse, 31, is just the kind of Democratic candidate progressives usually love. The young, gay mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts is challenging a corrupt, centrist incumbent, Richie Neal, for Congress. Backed by the Squad-making Justice Democrats, Morse is a supporter of the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. And the Left did love him — that is, until the College Democrats of Massachusetts figured out a brilliant way to take him down: make absurd sexual allegations against Morse and watch the Left lose its collective mind. Last Friday, just a couple weeks before the primary, the College Democrats — who received $1,000 from Rep. Neal, Morse's opponent, in April — launched the scandal with a letter disinviting Morse from all their future events. The missive, which was given to the Daily Collegian, University of Massachusetts's student newspaper, made three accusations against the insurgent candidate. [...] No one ever came forward as a 'survivor' of any of Morse's heinous acts of Instagramming, but in one case, according to the College Democrats' letter, a young man hooked up with Morse and found out later that Morse was the mayor and felt weird about that. (This would appear to be a comically ineffective use of his 'status.') [...] It turns out the Left got played. For days, agonized online discourse parsed acceptable behavior for consenting adults and trafficked (disgracefully) in stereotypes about predatory gay men. Thankfully, the Intercept's Ryan Grim stepped in to reveal that there weren't even any 'victims' of 'discomfort' or 'power dynamics.' Messages Grim obtained show that the College Dems planned the whole thing deliberately, as one of the group's leaders was hoping to get an internship with Rep. Neal, Morse's opponent."

Alex Pareene, "A Government Too Broken to Write $600 Checks: The president and the Senate majority leader weren't even in the room for the failed negotiations to save the economy. [...] The sticking point in the negotiations, besides the overall price tag, was apparently that the White House (meaning Meadows) refused to budge on aid to state and local governments; in other words, the White House wants to see crushing, pointless austerity cuts across the entire nation at the level of government where the effects of austerity will be clearest to middle- and working-class Americans. This makes some amount of sense in terms of the conservative project, but it makes very little sense in terms of the political prospects of President Donald Trump. He has no personal allegiance to conservative fiscal policy. Surprisingly for a rich guy, he has never been particularly interested in dingbat rightwing economics. (A money launderer, for example, doesn't care what the top marginal tax rate is; he cares about how rigorously money laundering is being investigated and punished.) Perhaps 20 years ago, he would have been canny enough to realize that bailing out the states would benefit him politically, just as he still had enough wits to figure out that signing 'Donald Trump' on stimulus checks was good politics regardless of the budgetary math. But the Donald Trump we have is the one who believes meaningless or imaginary executive orders will substitute for congressional action for the same reason that he believed Covid-19 would go away on its own. As he understands it, the important thing is that he was seen on television promising relief. The idea that people might notice if that relief never came, or was inadequate when it did, is as foreign to him as the idea that people might notice that their neighbors or parents had died of Covid-19 even if none of them could get a test to confirm the diagnosis."

"Bernie Sanders introduces bill to tax 60% of millionaires' earnings during pandemic to pay medical costs: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk would all be taxed tens of billions under bill Senator Bernie Sanders has announced legislation that would impose a 60 per cent tax on the wealth gains of billionaires from 18 March through the end of 2020 for the purposes of funding Medicare and paying all Americans' out-of-pocket health-care needs for a one-year period. Mr Sanders said the tax hike was meant to help people who are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic. 'The legislation I am introducing today will tax the obscene wealth gains billionaires have made during this extraordinary crisis to guarantee healthcare as a right to all for an entire year,' Mr Sanders said in a statement.

We have the worst party leaders. Sam Seder wonders, "What Is Nancy Pelosi Even Trying to Do?"

Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "Big Pharma's Covid-19 Profiteers: How the race to develop treatments and a vaccine will create a historic windfall for the industry — and everyone else will pay the price [...] The CEO noted a study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health, showing that Covid-19 patients taking remdesivir recovered after 11 days, compared with 15 days for placebo takers. In the U.S., he wrote, 'earlier hospital discharge would result in hospital savings of approximately $12,000 per patient.' The hilarious implication seemed to be that by shortening hospital stays by four days on average, remdesivir was worth $48,000 a dose."

So, continuing with his policy of adding insult to injury over and over, Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running-mate. This woman was so unpopular that she couldn't even place in her own state during the primaries, and now there are New Questions About Harris's Record On Antitrust & White-Collar Crime,

Democrats have gotten really good at promoting people who have no idea that the obvious consequences of their actions will actually occur. Like, if you pass a law that puts people in jail, it comes as a big surprise that some people go to jail. "Kamala Harris regrets California truancy law that led to arrest of some parents [...] Speaking on the liberal podcast Pod Save America, Sen. Harris said the arrests and, in some cases, jail sentences of parents in multiple California counties were an 'unintended consequence' of the statewide law, which built on her tough-on-truancy approach as San Francisco district attorney."

Columbia Journalism Review, "MSNBC public editor: A strained symbiosis with Obama: MSNBC was not and is not about to call Obama out for having broken his campaign promises of transparency, for permitting nine million people to lose their homes in the mortgage crisis, for failing to jail even a single banker, or for having failed to call the butchers of Iraq to account. There is no cable news station broadcasting today that is willing to state the blindingly obvious, to wit, that a less corrupt, less wealth-enslaved, less warmongering Democratic Party—a party that had paid more than lip service to the needs of working people over the previous eight years—would have walked away with the 2016 election. "

"Denounced as Going 'Too Far' When Sanders Said It—American Bar Association Backs Full Voting Rights for Incarcerated People: 'This Resolution follows a long American Bar Association tradition affirming and supporting the expansion of Americans' right to vote.' [...] At its annual meeting earlier this month, the ABA adopted a resolution stating the organization would urge all levels of government to 'repeal laws that disenfranchise persons based upon criminal conviction [and] restore voting rights to those currently and formerly incarcerated, including those on probation, parole, or any other community-based correctional program.' The national lawyers' association further said (pdf) that 'no person convicted of crime' should be disenfranchised in the U.S. because of failure to pay fines, court fees, or other payments as a result of their conviction."

"Popular Viral Video Firm Sues Facebook over Russian Propaganda Label: The company behind In The Now, Soapbox and Waste-Ed is taking on media giant Facebook, who it claims is falsely labeling it as Russian state-controlled propaganda. [...] Go to any of the Maffick-owned Facebook pages, including In The Now (4.9 million followers), which focuses on light-hearted news and social justice issues, Soapbox (320,000 followers), featuring politically opinionated videos, or Waste-Ed (216,000 followers), with content on environmental topics, and you are greeted with a warning from Facebook: 'This publisher is wholly or partially under the editorial control of a state.' Maffick strenuously denies this, noting that its sole owner, Anissa Naouai, is a U.S. citizen living in California. 'In doing all of these actions, Facebook has acted fraudulently, with actual malice and in reckless disregard for the truth,' the complaint alleges."

"The Disconnect Between the Stock Market and the Real Economy Is Destroying Our Lives: Stocks are the wall that protects the rich from the consequences of this crisis [...] The glaring disconnect between the real economy, of working humans with jobs and bills to pay, and the investor class economy, embodied by the stock market, is one of the most brutal and devious political issues of this age of crisis in which we're living. Though free marketeers like to boast of the fact that more than half of Americans now own stocks, the fact is that most of them own too few stocks to matter to their day-to-day economic lives. Half of all stocks in America are owned by the wealthiest 1% of people. They are the stock market's target audience and prime movers. The primary effect of high stock prices today is to insulate the rich from the consequences of the wrecked real economy. So long as stocks are doing okay, there is no need for the class of people who control most of America's institutions to feel much urgency to save the lives of everyone. A strong stock market is like a sturdy wall around the rich and powerful. You can stay outside and lose your job and starve and die, and it won't penetrate their serene bubble very much at all."

Not all of this is right, but there's a lot of truth here: "What Democrats Can Learn from the Republicans about Political Power [...] This is problematic because voters, despite their liberal tilt, have few firm and informed opinions about public policy, and no coherent ideology to speak of. Public opinion and the political landscape can be moved by powerful rhetoric and political leadership. Democrats, however, take the political landscape as a given and do little to change it. They build political strategies upon sand, while conservatives build political strategies premised on shaping that sand to suit their needs, and then mixing it into semi-concrete."

Matt Stoller interviews David Dayen about America's Folksiest Predator: One of the more important figures in American capitalism over the last forty years is Warren Buffett, the legendary investor who is now the fourth richest man in the world. Buffett is an icon, the 'Oracle of Omaha,' who lives a simple lifestyle based on folksy wisdom, eating Dairy Queen ice cream, and drinking Coca Cola. Or so goes the myth. In this issue, I'm going to do an interview with an author who presents a very different side of Buffett, the side that is key to his wealth and power. Specifically, the monopolist side, and how Buffett's way of investing has been a multiplier force for dominant corporations." (Text only). Man, that guy is a horrorshow.

Part Three of Paul Jay's interview with Thomas Frank, reprinted at Naked Capitalism, "Thomas Frank: Liberal Elites Will Create Conditions for Another Trump: Yves here. On to the last part of Thomas Frank's discussion of his new book, The People, No. Here Frank focuses on the danger to the US of demonizing populism."

"Covid Vaccines with Dr. Robert Gallo, Plus the Democrats' Campaign Strategy | Useful Idiots" — Remember him? The AIDs guy? It was interesting to hear him meandar,but he's also got an idea that the Sabin oral polio vaccine might be an interesting place to look for help with Covid — but no one will give him funding to investigate it.

Interesting Interview with Lee Camp, who reminds us that in 2016 while the American mass media was treating Trump like a big joke and giving him massive media promotion, it was possible to find real political criticism of Trump in Lee Camp's videos - on RT.

"Of Guns and Men: In Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore made the case that the number of guns and the availability of guns is not causal in the number of gun deaths, There are plenty of examples where a country has as many if not more guns per capita than the US (e.g., Canada) yet they have nowhere near the rate of gun deaths. So if the proliferation of guns isn't the cause; violent movies are not the cause; and bloody video games are not the cause, what then is the cause of the gun violence that puts America literally off the charts? Michael Moore believed it was fear: rampant fear and fear-mongering on the part of the media and the culture. Gun sales spiked in 2008 following Obama's election. Why? FEAR. More and more women (including Adam Lanza's mom) have guns for 'personal protection.' Why? FEAR."

"25 Years Gone: The Day Jerry Garcia Died Remembered by Bill Walton, Bruce Hornsby, Perry Farrell, Warren Haynes"

"Carbonatite: 'Sandcastle' Structures in Calcium Carbonate-Rich Tanzanian Volcano"

Painstakingly restored video, "[4k, 60 fps] San Francisco, a Trip down Market Street, April 14, 1906" — ends with a brief view of what it looked like four days later.

Bob Dylan, "Memphis Blues Again"

00:11 GMT comment


Sunday, 09 August 2020

Burns like a red coat carpet

"Down Goes Clay: Cori Bush Knocks Off Half-Century Dynasty: Cori Bush's defeat over 19-year incumbent Rep. Lacy Clay in St. Louis, Missouri, is Justice Democrats's latest upset." As I said a couple years ago, I don't expect these young challengers to win their first time out, but when they try again, it's not surprising to see them win. Meanwhile, Twitter was full of gleeful Hillarystans cheering for Rashida Tlaib to lose her seat, but she's pretty popular in her district.

"Marquita Bradshaw scores upset win in Tennessee Democratic Senate primary: NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Memphis environmentalist, Black activist and single mom Marquita Bradshaw won the Democratic primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee on Thursday. Bradshaw defeated Nashville attorney and former Army helicopter pilot James Mackler, who had snagged an endorsement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and others. Bradshaw will face former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, who defeated Nashville trauma surgeon Manny Sethi in the Republican primary. Bradshaw and Hagerty are seeking to succeed Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is retiring. Republicans have held both Senate seats in Tennessee since 1994." Not only did Chuck Schumer and the DSCC (and a couple million bucks) back her opponent, but Bradshaw only had $8,200, and still won.

"'History Will Not Judge This Kindly': DNC Platform Committee Votes Down Medicare for All Amendment: 'It's like opposing the New Deal during the Great Depression. Unforgivable.' A Democratic National Committee panel on Monday voted down an amendment that would have inserted a plank supporting Medicare for All into the party's 2020 platform, a move progressives decried as out of touch with public opinion and a slap in the face to the millions of people who have lost their health insurance due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The DNC Platform Committee rejected the Medicare for All amendment introduced by longtime single-payer advocate Michael Lighty by a vote of 36-125 during a virtual meeting Monday. The committee also voted down separate attempts to include support for expanding Medicare to children, dropping the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 55, and legalizing marijuana."

And that's not all, the Platform Committee bottled out on a lot of things before announcing it was "the boldest Democratic platform in history." No, it really wasn't, and I've seen GOP platforms that were further to the left. But, as John Nichols told Sam Seder, it has some good stuff in it. Still, "Democrats Miss HUGE Opportunity To Push Platform Ideas During Biden's Surge In Polls."

"Portland sees peaceful night of protests following withdrawal of federal agents: Thursday night's protest passed off without major incident or intervention by the police in the absence of federal officers. The withdrawal of federal agents from frontline policing of demonstrations in downtown Portland significantly reduced tensions in the city overnight.Protesters in support of Black Lives Matter once again rallied near the federal courthouse that became a flashpoint, and the scene of nightly battles amid the swirl of teargas, after Donald Trump dispatched agents to end what he called anarchy in the city after weeks of demonstrations. But in the absence of the federal officers, Thursday night's protest passed off without major incident or intervention by the police."

Matt Stoller, "The Day Big Tech Stopped Being Untouchable [...] Today I'm going to write about we learned on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week. In sequence, Wednesday was the day of a historic Congressional hearing on big tech monopoly power, Thursday was when these firms announced blow-out earnings even in the midst of an economic collapse, and Friday saw Donald Trump announce he might ban the social media firm TikTok. That's democracy, monopoly, and national security in sequence."

I was really pleased that Michael Brooks had this guy on the show. I think it was the last interview he ever did. How Can We End Corporate Media? ft. Robert McChesney (TMBS 148)

"TMBS Doc: Labor Power & The New Deal ft. Harvey Kaye"

"Michael Brooks takes a question on Israel."

"Jeremy Corbyn accuses Labour officials of sabotaging election campaign: Jeremy Corbyn and his former leadership team have openly accused disgruntled Labour officials of potentially costing the party the chance of victory by sabotaging the 2017 election campaign in a factional dispute. In a joint statement that shines a light on the scale of continued Labour splits, Corbyn, the former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and seven other former shadow ministers and aides have for the first time formally endorsed claims made in a party report leaked in April. In their submission to the party inquiry called to examine the leaked report, Corbyn and his former colleagues claimed the alleged diversion of some party funds during the 2017 election could even constitute fraud."

As you may recall, Zach Carter has recently written a book about Keynes, and David Dayen has recently written a book about monopolies, and now they've interviewed each other in a single podcast, Keynes and Corporate Power: David Dayen in Conversation With Zach Carter.

Dan Froomkin at Press Watch, "The New York Times has a misogyny problem, too: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes some people very uncomfortable, and apparently that includes some editors and reporters at the New York Times. So rather than report on how Ocasio-Cortez's riveting, viral speech on the House floor on Thursday was a signal moment in the fight against abusive sexism, Times congressional reporters Luke Broadwater and Catie Edmondson filed a story full of sexist double standards and embraced the framing of her critics by casting her as a rule-breaker trying to 'amplify her brand.'"

"Bill Clinton Used John Lewis's Funeral to Disparage the Black Freedom Struggle: Bill Clinton has a penchant for overstepping, for going too far and for being too cocky, especially when it comes to Black people. He assumes a kind of insider posture that is, quite frankly, offensive. This posture was on full display yesterday when, while eulogizing the late civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, Clinton took the liberty to render his opinion about who was a good Black leader vs. who was a not-so-good Black leader. In referring to the political differences between Lewis and Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) — both former leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) — Clinton backhandedly disparaged Ture. [...] Another section of Lewis's 1963 D.C. speech came to mind as I listened to Clinton and other opportunistic politicians sing Lewis's praises in recent days. He warned: 'This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic and social exploitation.' That statement was true in 1963 and it remains so in 2020." Mr. Clinton also thanked Jim Clyburn for destroying the Sanders campaign, although he hardly did it without help from the media.

"Yale Antitrust Scholars Resign Because Director Advises Apple, Amazon: A leading antitrust crusader revealed she was getting paid by companies facing antitrust scrutiny by federal and state authorities, as well as her own antitrust research project. Two fellows at Yale's Thurmond Arnold Project, an antitrust research organization at the university, have resigned after it was revealed that a leading antitrust scholar and director of the project has been taking paid advisor roles for Apple and Amazon. Both companies are facing multiple antitrust investigations.

"A Huge Wall Street Scandal Just Exploded In Kentucky: GOP law enforcement officials are targeting Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire who bankrolls Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump's political machine. The lawsuit breaks open a major financial scandal that threatens the world's largest private equity firms — with global implications. In a landmark case with potentially global implications, Kentucky's newly elected Republican attorney general is targeting some of the world's largest financial firms in a new lawsuit alleging that teachers, firefighters, and other government workers have been systematically bilked by Wall Street's rampant fraud and self-dealing, which has created a massive financial crisis in the state. [...] As TMI previously reported, the US Supreme Court recently blocked workers and retirees from suing these kind of firms because the high court said they did not have legal standing. A Kentucky court then quickly cited that ruling to short-circuit retirees' case against Wall Street giants Blackstone and KKR, which said the firms' investment schemes had fleeced the state pension system. But in an extraordinary move on Monday, Kentucky's GOP Attorney General Daniel Cameron intervened to sue on behalf of the state government — a maneuver that likely renders the standing issue moot. The suit alleges that the firms misled the state into funneling retirees' money into investments that were 'secretive, opaque, illiquid, impossible to properly monitor or accurately value, high-fee, high-risk gambles with no historical record of performance.' The suit asserts that these were 'absolutely unsuitable investments for a pension fund in the particular situation [Kentucky] was in, and violated the applicable laws, codes and standards.'"

Thread from Cory Doctorow: "States across the US have enacted cruel, unconstitutional abortion laws that require doctors to sexually assault women seeking abortions and lie to them about the health impacts of abortion. Some laws require funerals for foetal remains. These laws were pushed by ALEC, the corporate-backed 'legislative exchange' that pushes 'model legislation' through a network of slick lobbyists in state-houses across the country. ALEC purports to be in favor of 'liberty' and 'small government.' Enter the Satanic Temple, a federally recognized religion whose members do not believe in Satan or supernatural phenomena. They believe 'that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition.' The Temple has a fantastic schtick. They go to places where theocrats have gotten laws passed that shove their weird, apostate version of 'Christianity' down everyone else's throats and point out that the First Amendment requires nondiscrimination among faiths. Wanna put a giant stone Ten Commandments in front of your courthouse? Sure. But they're gonna put a giant statue of Baphomet right next to it. The court challenges they mount aren't cheap, but they're slam dunks. The US Constitution is pretty clear on this. Now, in 1993, Chuck Schumer sponsored the 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act' which lets Americans sue governments over laws that 'substantially burdens a person's exercise of religion.' Religious maniacs LOVE the RFRA and its progeny, like SCOTUS's Hobby Lobby decision, which broadened the RFRA's provisions and allowed corporations to claim exemptions from Rendering Unto Caesar where that interfered with the owners' faith. Guess what you get when you combine the RFRA, ALEC's restrictive abortion laws, and the Satanic Temple? That's right...SATANIC ABORTIONS. A Satanic Abortion is a religious ritual that is totally indistinguishable from a normal, medical abortion, except that the participant says a few self-affirming words about her bodily autonomy. Oh, also: the ritual absolutely forbids, as a bedrock matter of religious conviction, any waiting periods, the withholding of medically necessary advice, mandatory counseling, required readings, and unnecessary sonograms. Also forbidden: mandatory fetal heartbeat listening sessions and compulsory fetal burials. If you want an abortion and the doctor tries this bullshit, hand them one of these exemption letters explaining how the law doesn't apply thanks to the RFRA. Now, the religious right could fight this. But if they win...they overturn the RFRA, and Hobby Lobby has to provide its employees with contraception and all the other theocratic exemptions go poof, too." There's a bit more, and you can go to the tweet to get Cory's links to citations.

RIP: "Pete Hamill, celebrated New York newspaper columnist, dies aged 85: Self-taught 'giant of journalism' wrote on everything from baseball to the war in Vietnam and mixed with America's elite. Pete Hamill, the self-taught, streetwise newspaper columnist whose love affair with New York inspired a colorful and uniquely influential journalistic career and produced several books of fiction and non-fiction, died on Wednesday morning. He was 85. Hamill died at a Brooklyn hospital from heart and kidney failure, his brother Denis confirmed in an email. [...] Hamill found his way on to President Richard Nixon's 'enemies list'. In a column, Hamill said the president shared the blame for the 1970 shootings at Kent State University by calling campus dissenters 'bums'. Vice-President Spiro Agnew called the column 'irrational ravings', and Hamill borrowed the phrase for the title of a 1971 collection of his columns."

RIP: Olivia de Havilland, Golden Age of Hollywood star, dies at 104 [...] De Havilland's career spanned more than 50 years and almost 50 feature films, and she was the last surviving actor from Gone with the Wind (1939)." And oh, how we loved her in Captain Blood. (The other headliners in GWTW died a lifetime ago. Leslie Howard was gone a decade before I was born, and Hattie MacDaniel died in my first year of life. Clarke Gable died in 1960 and Vivian Leigh was the last to go, in 1967, until now. That's a helluva span for a helluva woman.)

RIP: Peter Green, 73: Peter Green, who has died aged 73, was one of the guitar-playing greats of 1960s blues-rock as well as a gifted songwriter. He was a founder of Fleetwood Mac and although he was with the band for less than three years they became one of Britain's leading acts during that time. Their singles of that period, including the Green compositions "Black Magic Woman", "Albatross", "Man of the World", "Oh Well" and "The Green Manalishi", remain some of the most cherished releases of the era and the band was beginning to display major international potential by the time he quit in May 1970."

RIP: "John Saxon, Enter the Dragon, Nightmare on Elm Street Actor, Dies at 83 [...] Saxon died of pneumonia in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, his wife, Gloria, told The Hollywood Reporter." I can remember when John Saxon seemed to be in just about everything, from science fiction movies to medical shows to those teen movies with Sal Mineo. He was even in Bonanza a few times and Gunsmoke a few more. He did The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rockford and pretty much everything else that was going at one time or another.

RIP: Sir Alan Parker, director, writer, and producer, at 76: "Although Parker directed only two bona fide British productions — Bugsy Malone (1976) and Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) — in 1998 he was appointed chairman of the board of governors of the British Film Institute (BFI) and in 1999 first chairman of the Film Council."

RIP: Annie Ross, jazz singer, at 89: "It was her spirited marriage of the instrument-mimicking 50s 'vocalese' singing style that set her musical career alight as a 22-year-old in 1952, with a version of Wardell Gray's instrumental song 'Twisted'. Ross added a sardonically funny lyric that reflected both her abandoned-child anxieties and her self-possessed intelligence, featuring lines such as: 'My analyst told me that I was right out of my head/he said I'd need treatment but I'm not that easily led'."

Matt Karp interviews Matthew E. Stanley about the AbeBros: "Lincoln's Paramilitaries, the Wide Awakes, Fought Slavery"

"How To Pretend That You Are Smart: There is a difference between assertion and argument, but a lot of highly credentialed people do not notice when they're just stating their prejudices rather than proving anything. Today we are going to look at two examples of men with PhDs from Harvard making asses of themselves without realizing it. We are going to see how things that are wrong, unproven, nonsensical, or bigoted are presented as insight, and Very Smart Men are often not actually very smart at all. That will probably not come as a surprise to you, but what I want to demonstrate here is how easy it is to disguise one's unfounded opinions or prejudices as scholarly musings."

"The Reason Americans Don't Trust Experts — Economists [...] Specifically, the fact that economists told middle America since at least the 1980s that free trade would be good for everyone in America, and that anyone who said otherwise was an ignorant rube who didn't understand basic economic 'science.' The economists who incessantly proffered this view were 'experts' from the most prestigious schools in America—Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Georgetown, the University of Chicago, and the like. They claimed it was a settled argument, and that economics had 'proven' it beyond the shadow of a doubt through equations as surely as we had proven the movements of the stars and planets. Even the way they framed the argument backed this up. They invoked the 'Law' of comparative advantage, suggesting that this was a law of the universe on par with those of physics or chemistry. Anyone who disputed it might just was well believe that water runs uphill or the earth is flat, they claimed (although they weren't above invoking a little magic on occasion) [...] Businesses that had been the cornerstones of communities for many generations began to disappear left and right. They either lost out in the newly globalized struggle for profits and went under; moved most of their operations overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor; or were bought out in the accompanying wave of financialization and were 'restructured.' In each and every instance, these businesses—formerly the sources of prosperity for so many Americans—were gone, never to return. This happened throughout the eighties and nineties."

Matt Taibbi reviews Thomas Frank's The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism: Author Thomas Frank predicted the modern culture war, and he was right about Donald Trump, but don't expect political leaders to pay attention to his new book about populism. [...] Since the establishment of this template, Frank notes, 'virtually everyone who writes on the subject agrees that populism is 'anti-pluralist,' by which they mean that it is racist or sexist or discriminatory in some way... Populism's hatred for 'the elite,' meanwhile, is thought to be merely a fig leaf for this ugly intolerance.' Trump and Bernie Sanders both got hit with every cliché described in Frank's book. Both were depicted as xenophobic, bigoted, emotion-laden, resistant to modernity, susceptible to foreign influence, and captured by 'unrealistic' ideas they lacked the expertise to implement." And Matt and Katie interviewed him about populism on Useful Idiots.

"The Unraveling of America: Anthropologist Wade Davis on how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era [...] For the first time, the international community felt compelled to send disaster relief to Washington. For more than two centuries, reported the Irish Times, 'the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the U.S. until now: pity.' [...] At the root of this transformation and decline lies an ever-widening chasm between Americans who have and those who have little or nothing. Economic disparities exist in all nations, creating a tension that can be as disruptive as the inequities are unjust. In any number of settings, however, the negative forces tearing apart a society are mitigated or even muted if there are other elements that reinforce social solidarity — religious faith, the strength and comfort of family, the pride of tradition, fidelity to the land, a spirit of place. But when all the old certainties are shown to be lies, when the promise of a good life for a working family is shattered as factories close and corporate leaders, growing wealthier by the day, ship jobs abroad, the social contract is irrevocably broken. For two generations, America has celebrated globalization with iconic intensity, when, as any working man or woman can see, it's nothing more than capital on the prowl in search of ever cheaper sources of labor."

"Reaganland Is the Riveting Conclusion to a Story That Still Isn't Over: Rick Perlstein's epic series shows political history and cultural history cannot be disentangled. [...] The Carter years, and Reagan's place within them, are the subject of historian Rick Perlstein's latest book, Reaganland: America's Right Turn, 1976-1980. At more than 1,100 pages, Reaganland is the fourth and final volume of Perlstein's massive, sweeping history of American conservatism in the postwar era, following Before the Storm, Nixonland, and 2014's The Invisible Bridge, which tracked Reagan's trajectory from the early 1970s up to his own unsuccessful primary challenge of Gerald Ford in 1976. Reaganland is terrific, a work whose characteristic insight and soaring ambition make it a fitting and resonant conclusion to Perlstein's astounding achievement. I think most Americans, regardless of political affiliation, would agree that the effects of the Reagan Revolution are still with us and that in many senses Reaganland is still the place we all live."

Petition for the emoji the internet needs.

"As a cop, I killed someone. Then I found out it happens more often than we know: I'm a former officer who studies police violence. Most databases vastly undercount the number of civilians killed by US police."

"Chris Frantz: 'If you knew David Byrne, you would not be jealous of him': The ex-Talking Heads drummer talks about his revealing new book Remain in Love and a contentious relationship with the band's frontman."

"My Science Fiction Rabbi: How the prolific writer Barry N. Malzberg showed me my passion was just Judaism in a spacesuit."

"#BillBlur Bill Burr - Black Friends, Clothes & Harlem REACTION" - Black kid watches white guy comedian talk about....

"Is Betty Boop black? Yes and no."

Alex Ross: Making the Marvel Mural

It's truly the best dance routine of all time, and I've watched it over and over in black and white, but this colorized version looks even sharper. "Stormy Weather in color - The Nicholas Brothers and Cab Calloway | Colorized with DeOldify".

Well, this just totally tickled me.

The Rolling Stones, "Gimme Shelter"

02:00 GMT comment


Saturday, 25 July 2020

It's the terror of knowing what this world is about

RIP: Michael Jamal Brooks. I knew someone major had died when Monday's The Majority Report suddenly ground to a halt with Sam saying they needed to end the show. It never once crossed my mind that it was Michael. He was young, healthy, energetic, constantly creating new projects, and he was the best Obama and Bill Clinton impressionist ever. His right-wing Mandela and Nation of Islam Obama had me cracking up the moment I heard them. I was amazed by how good that boy was. And then the way he created new stuff to work with - and promote - other insightful people he knew, or knew of. He was spreading the word, talking people up. He was doing everything right. (And I don't mean he never put a foot wrong - I was hoping someday to tell him where he screwed up on something that I thought mattered, but I knew he did it with the best will in the world, and now it doesn't matter.) He gave history and world politics an immediacy few have managed to convey. I've spent the week wondering who is going to pick up the slack, there was so much he was involved in that never would have happened without him.
*—Variety, "Michael Brooks, Political Commentator and Podcast Host, Dies at 37"
*—Jacobin, "Remembering Our Friend and Comrade Michael Brooks"
*—Anna Kasparian's tearful farewell with Cenk in a TYT video, "Remembering Michael Brooks"
*—The Humanist Report, "Remembering Michael Brooks..."
*— Even the Independent and the Standard have pages up.
*—Matt Binder (aka Old Matt) did a tribute on his show that included some of those hilarious impressions, "For Michael Brooks (1983-2020)".
*—And of course, Remembering Michael Brooks (1983 - 2020) - MR Live - 7/21/20, where Michael's sister discussed their last conversation the night before he died and explained the "medical condition" that killed him.

"US Supreme Court rules half of Oklahoma is Native American land: The US Supreme Court has ruled about half of Oklahoma belongs to Native Americans, in a landmark case that also quashed a child rape conviction. The justices decided 5-4 that an eastern chunk of the state, including its second-biggest city, Tulsa, should be recognised as part of a reservation. Jimcy McGirt, who was convicted in 1997 of raping a girl, brought the case. He cited the historical claim of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to the land where the assault occurred. What does the ruling mean? Thursday's decision in McGirt v Oklahoma is seen as one of the most far-reaching cases for Native Americans before the highest US court in decades. The ruling means some tribe members found guilty in state courts for offences committed on the land at issue can now challenge their convictions."

"Privatizing Our Public Water Supply: Private water companies want to use the infrastructure bill to accelerate privatization. Why is Tammy Duckworth carrying water for them? In order to recover from the COVID economic depression, America will need a massive public infrastructure effort. This will do triple duty—in addition to providing stimulus and jobs, it will modernize our museum-quality public facilities, and accelerate an overdue green transition. The House Democrats have made a good start with HR2, the Invest in America Act—but with one weird exception: A provision slipped into the bill by the water privatization industry and its Congressional allies would create incentives to privatize America's water supply systems, one of the few essential services that are still mostly public thanks to the heroic struggles of our Progressive Era forebears, who worked to assure clean and affordable water via public systems."

"Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab Protesters Off Portland Streets [...] Blinded by his hat, in an unmarked minivan full of armed people dressed in camouflage and body armor who hadn't identified themselves, Pettibone said he was driven around downtown before being unloaded inside a building. He wouldn't learn until after his release that he had been inside the federal courthouse. [...] Pettibone said he was put into a cell. Soon after, two officers came in to read him his Miranda rights. They didn't tell him why he was being arrested. He said they asked him if he wanted to waive his rights and answer some questions, but Pettibone declined and said he wanted a lawyer. The interview was terminated, and about 90 minutes later he was released. He said he did not receive any paperwork, citation or record of his arrest."

"We Reviewed Police Tactics Seen in Nearly 400 Protest Videos. Here's What We Found.: We asked experts to watch videos showing officers using tear gas, pepper balls and explosives on protesters. Police actions often escalated confrontations."

"Who Actually Wants Trump to Send in the Feds? Police Unions. Protesters say local cops and the feds are clearly colluding on the spooky crackdown that began in Portland and could soon spread to Chicago and other cities. PORTLAND—Leaders of cities like Portland and Chicago publicly say they don't want federal law enforcement policing protesters. But as President Donald Trump threatens to send in the troops to a handful of America's largest cities, some of those same locales' police unions appear to be circumventing elected officials to work with the feds."

The map at Electoral-vote.com of state-by-state polls sure looks like a strong Biden win, with FL, MI, PA, and WI all blue outside the margin of error. Interestingly, even TX, NC, and GA are edged in blue, although too close to be convincing.

David Dayen in The American Prospect, "A Leader Without Leading: Nancy Pelosi is an expert at obtaining power. But what does she want to use it for? Nancy Pelosi was upset. Her blitz of cable news appearances as a high-profile counterpart to Donald Trump had taken her to CNN in late April. And Jake Tapper had the temerity to question that which is not typically questioned: Pelosi's legislative acumen. Congress had just passed its fourth bill responding to the coronavirus crisis. Republicans wanted more money for forgivable loans for small businesses. Democrats had a host of liberal priorities left out of prior legislation that could have been paired with the extension. But Pelosi and her Senate colleague Chuck Schumer chose to go along with the Republican framework, leaving everything else for later. Immediately afterward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hit the pause button on future legislation. It felt like the Democrats were played. And governors were sounding alarms about the lack of federal aid to cover massive state and local government revenue shortfalls, which triggered a loss of 1.5 million jobs in April and May alone. 'Was this a tactical mistake by you and Senator Schumer?' Tapper asked Pelosi. 'Just calm down,' she replied sternly, pivoting to tout getting more small-business money than McConnell even wanted. (As of mid-June, about $130 billion in authorized funding had not been claimed, and a May survey found that half of all small businesses expected to fail, even with federal support.) Pelosi vowed to obtain state and local fiscal relief eventually. 'There's no use going into what might have been.' [...] During the pandemic, Pelosi centralized control to an unprecedented degree, placing responsibility for crisis governance entirely in her own hands. Yet the result mainly protects corporate interests while throwing temporary life rafts to everyone else. The caucus dominance and tactical savvy and leverage over Republican opponents failed her in this case. It's worth wondering why, which is inextricably tied to one question: What does Nancy Pelosi really believe?" Most politicians have at least one issue they get into politics to fight for. Pelosi's issue has always been...fundraising. She raises funds. That's all she's for. Dday also talked about the article on The Rising, "David Dayen: Why Pelosi is TO BLAME for coronavirus economic disaster"

Natalie Shure at In These Times, "What's Missing From the Biden-Bernie Task Force Plan? Medicare for All. The recommendations are an improvement on Biden's previous healthcare plans, but a public option won't cut it. We need free, universal coverage. [...] Unsurprisingly, the task force did not endorse Medicare for All, which would essentially liquidate the existing version of private health insurance and replace it with a single public system that covers everyone and provides all necessary and effective care free from the point of use. But the presence of former Michigan gubernatorial candidate and single-payer advocate Abdul El-Sayed as well as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)—who each endorsed Sanders, and the latter of whom is the lead sponsor of the Medicare for All bill in the House—was evident in more left-leaning measures than Biden has previously embraced. If the healthcare platform as presented were to be fully implemented under a future President Biden, it would amount to a significant improvement on the status quo—albeit with persistent gaps that can't be resolved without abolishing private health insurance as it's currently constituted." This was predictable, of course, but a public option will improve things, because losing 150,000,000 of their customers will weaken the insurance industry considerably, which means they will hate it just as much, which means they will put out lots more ads with spurious talking points and campaign against it just as hard as they did against single-payer. But it's getting harder and harder for politicians to explain why they haven't done it yet (especially since it's the remedy they keep trying to substitute for single-payer when they are arguing against it), and if current projections hold true, Democrats are going to have an even harder time explaining it.

"Senate Democrats' Machine Spent $15 Million To Destroy Progressive Primary Candidates: The Democratic establishment has successfully blocked progressive Senate candidates in primaries, with the help of labor unions, Wall Street tycoons and corporate interests. [...] With the help of the party, its major donors, and the Senate Majority PAC (SMP) -- a super PAC funded by labor unions, corporate interests and Wall Street billionaires -- candidates endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have won contested primaries in four battleground states. While the DSCC's chair, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, said last year the party would support progressive incumbent Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey if he faced a primary challenger, he hasn't seen any outside help yet from the DSCC or SMP in his tough battle with Rep. Joseph Kennedy III. [...] Overall, the top donor to SMP so far this cycle has been Democracy PAC -- a super PAC that's bankrolled by billionaire George Soros and the Fund for Policy Reform, a nonprofit funded by Soros. Democracy PAC has contributed $8.5 million to SMP."

Pareene, "Throw the Bums Out: We are in the midst of a world-historic failure of governance. Why isn't anyone in charge acting like they are responsible for it? Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the Covid-19 mountain, a three-dimensional foam mound representing the pandemic's toll on his state. He had used the 'mountain' metaphor before and had apparently decided to make it tangible. Referring to the chart of daily new infections statewide, he said that New Yorkers had climbed the 'mountain.' Now, with that number declining to seemingly manageable levels, he turned the chart into a monument to the state's collective achievement. In a functional democracy with any standard of democratic accountability—a country where elected officials expect to be held responsible for outcomes they could have controlled or influenced—a governor would only have unveiled such a bloody monument if he needed an explanation for his immediate resignation. Cuomo, instead, had the mountain recast as a commemorative poster, which he revealed at a press conference on Monday afternoon. [...] If Donald Trump loses in November, our political system's last true believers will think that the system worked precisely as it is supposed to: It held him accountable. But this is an ongoing catastrophe of government as a whole. Every day brings a new reason to feel outraged or numbed by the scope of the disaster. We haven't begun to grapple with the breadth of it. Governors, big-city mayors, public health officials, and congressional leaders should be resigning in disgrace, firing those responsible, groveling for forgiveness, or fleeing town under cover of night."

Harold Meyerson, "Trump, DeVos, Scalia, and the Depraved Indifference Presidency: To constitute depraved indifference, the defendant's conduct must be so wanton, so deficient in a moral sense of concern, so lacking in regard for the life or lives of others, and so blameworthy as to warrant the same criminal liability as that which the law imposes upon a person who intentionally causes a crime. — Legal definition of 'depraved indifference'" DeVos got on national TV and said school districts should google to figure out if they should open or close, because she can't be bothered to do her job.

ProPublica, "How McKinsey Is Making $100 Million (and Counting) Advising on the Government's Bumbling Coronavirus Response: For the world's best-known corporate-management consultants, helping tackle the pandemic has been a bonanza. It's not clear what the government has gotten in return." No-bid contracts. There is nothing about McKinsey's view of the world that suggests it could have done anything right in this, and no reason to expect it would be anything else but a shambles. "Over decades, McKinsey's approach became self-reinforcing. As successive administrations chipped away at the civil service, politicians who advocate small government got the dysfunctional bureaucracy they had complained about all along, which helped them justify dismantling it further."

"The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House's Military Spending Bill: There is simply no logic to it—other than the inexorable logic of war profiteering and global control. The House Armed Services Committee just passed a defense appropriations bill filled with moral contradictions and illogical absurdities. Consider: It removes some racist symbols in the military, but preserves Trump's ability to use the military against anti-racist demonstrators. It abdicates Congress' responsibility to declare war, but prevents the executive branch from moving toward peace. It was passed by elected officials, but gives a single general the ability to overrule an elected branch of government. It requires officials to state definitively that removing troops won't harm security interests, but not to say whether keeping them there will—despite the destabilizing and destructive impact of our troop presence to date in the Middle East. It is supported by deficit hawks, but would result in 50 percent higher military spending than the last Cold War budget."

"What the Coronavirus Proved About Homelessness: Britain's efforts to house thousands of people amid the pandemic prove that even the most intractable problems are solvable—with enough political will. [...] For Britain, the answer was simple: 'Bring everyone in.' Within days of imposing its national lockdown on March 23, the British government told local authorities to shelter any person in need of accommodation. It was an extraordinary task—one requiring millions of pounds, not to mention the efforts of huge numbers of officials and charities. But it worked. Thousands of unhoused people were placed in vacant hotel rooms, student dormitories, and other forms of temporary housing. A goal the government had given itself years to accomplish was achieved much more quickly."

Forbes, "The Highest-Paid CEOs Are The Worst Performers, New Study Says: Across the board, the more CEOs get paid, the worse their companies do over the next three years, according to extensive new research. This is true whether they're CEOs at the highest end of the pay spectrum or the lowest. 'The more CEOs are paid, the worse the firm does over the next three years, as far as stock performance and even accounting performance,' says one of the authors of the study, Michael Cooper of the University of Utah's David Eccles School of Business."

Bloomberg, "Banker Pay Theory Upended by Harvard Expert Who Studied Sweden: Campbell says staff at Handelsbanken were highly motivated despite the absence of bonuses for all but a tiny group. What struck him was 1) how flat Handelsbanken's corporate hierarchy is, and 2) how important branch managers are. 'Handelsbanken just stood out as a really interesting example because they have really unusual levels of empowerment,' Campbell said in an interview via Zoom. What's more, he says the Swedish bank has 'had these really unusual performance outcomes that normally don't go along with that level of decentralization.' [...] 'We would normally think that the level of decentralization that they have ... would lead to things like higher loan losses, would lead to less efficiencies in their cost structure,' Campbell said. 'Yet here's this bank that has operated this way since the 1970s and has had higher returns on equity than its peers, not just on average over those years but literally every single year, going back that far, and has also had a fraction of the loan losses of their competitors in any given year, including in years where there were major economic crises."

Remember that 90% of Americans oppose Social Security cuts, so the proper description of someone who supports such cuts is "extremist" and "radical". Don't let anyone call them "a moderate". "Unsanitized: Mitt Romney Wants to Use the Crisis to Cut Your Social Security: A Bowles-Simpson-style process to cut benefits could end up in the Republican economic relief bill. This is The COVID-19 Daily Report for July 23, 2020.

"The New York Times's 1619 Project: A racialist falsification of American and world history [...] Its aim is to create a historical narrative that legitimizes the effort of the Democratic Party to construct an electoral coalition based on the prioritizing of personal 'identities'—i.e., gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, and, above all, race. [...] The essays featured in the magazine are organized around the central premise that all of American history is rooted in race hatred—specifically, the uncontrollable hatred of 'black people' by 'white people.' Hannah-Jones writes in the series' introduction: 'Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.' This is a false and dangerous conception. " Why are these people trying to convince us that racism is immutable and that slavery is all about race-hatred and not about economics or anything else?

Will Shetterly pointed out on Facebook that Newsweek didn't have the guts to simply post this as news and branded it "opinion", but it's got all the hallmarks of actual news. "Private Equity Captures Rather Than Creates Value [...] Wealth can be a sign that tremendous value has been created for investors, customers and society more broadly. But wealth can also be captured rather than created. And while that works well for the capturer, the game is zero-sum, or even value-destroying, in aggregate. The private equity industry offers a fascinating case study in the importance of distinguishing between these scenarios. [...] Fortunately, such data exist. In American Affairs, private equity veteran Daniel Rasmussen asked and answered the question, 'Do Private Equity Firms Improve Companies' Operations?' If the industry's claims are true, he writes, 'we should see results in the financials of the portfolio companies, such as accelerated revenue growth, expanded profit margins and increased capital expenditures. But the reality is that we see none of these things. What we do see is a sharp increase in debt.' In most transactions, 'revenue growth slowed' and '[capital expenditure] spending as a percentage of sales declined.' [...] Massive paydays have drawn entrepreneurs and managers, who might once have built, into the game of buying and selling. Meanwhile, performance in the real economy—among the operating companies they buy and sell—has degraded. Economic growth and dynamism have slowed, productivity growth has come nearly to a halt and wages have stagnated. Bizarrely, with so much 'investment' going on, actual investment has plummeted. Assets get shuffled and reshuffled, profits get made, but relatively little flows toward actual productive uses. 'Net private domestic investment,' observes a report from Senator Marco Rubio's Project for Strong Labor Markets and National Development, 'fell from nearly a tenth of U.S. Gross Domestic Product as late as the mid-1980s, to less than half of that amount by the end of 2018. As a percent of corporate profits, it declined from nearly 100 percent in the early 1980s to less than 40 percent today.'"

RIP: "Rep. John Lewis, Civil Rights Icon, Dies At Age 80: The Georgia Democrat who helped organize the March on Washington and was called the "conscience of Congress," has died. The Georgia Democrat announced in December 2019 that he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

"A Side of Franchise: There are many books about McDonald's that criticize the company for its many sins, and author Marcia Chatelain has read all of them. But her book comes at this famous fast-food restaurant from a different angle and with a much wider lens. In Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America, Chatelain offers a critique of racial capitalism and a long history of trying to address social problems with business-based solutions."

"David Shor's Unified Theory of American Politics" — There's a lot of interesting things to read here, but I think he has a couple of blind spots. For one, he doesn't seem to realize that the Clinton administration orchestrated worldwide changes in banking laws so the US wouldn't have to compete with healthier systems when it weakened our own. For another I don't think he gets the distance between "racial resentment" and "racism" when Democrats seem to be working just as hard as Republicans to give the impression that they are helping black people, but not white people. But Shor is right that it's a mistake to assume "the demographics are on our side." They're not.

Michael Harriot did a little tweetstorm on how Big Government solves problems that Small Government creates — and how Small Government stole money from black people to give it to white people.

The Atlantic, "Ronald Reagan's Long-Hidden Racist Conversation With Richard Nixon: In newly unearthed audio, the then-California governor disparaged African delegates to the United Nations. The day after the United Nations voted to recognize the People's Republic of China, then-California Governor Ronald Reagan phoned President Richard Nixon at the White House and vented his frustration at the delegates who had sided against the United States. 'Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did,' Reagan said. 'Yeah,' Nixon interjected. Reagan forged ahead with his complaint: 'To see those, those monkeys from those African countries—damn them, they're still uncomfortable wearing shoes!' Nixon gave a huge laugh.

Teen Vogue, "Ronald Reagan Wasn't the Good Guy President Anti-Trump Republicans Want You to Believe In: In this op-ed, politics editor Lucy Diavolo responds to a recent ad attempting to distance Ronald Reagan from Donald Trump by assessing how much the two Republican presidents have in common."

It's a bitter joke that the Democrats can't pass anything because Republicans don't agree with them. It's just amazing how much the Democrats and GOP agree on. "How Congress Maintains Endless War - System Update with Glenn Greenwald"

"Monopolies Make Their Own Rules: Zephyr Teachout's new book lays bare the private legal system that shores up their immense power—and hides it from public view. [...] Teachout's thesis is provocative and simple: that monopolistic corporations operate a despotic parallel governmental system, or as she writes in her refreshingly brusque style, 'monopoly is tyranny.' It is a system of coercive, private power that rivals, and often surpasses, the power of the state. (And they know it: 'In a lot of ways, Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company,' Mark Zuckerberg once chirped to Ezra Klein.) You might think that a monopoly is strictly defined as one firm totally dominating a single market, but this isn't true. Teachout observes that when Standard Oil (considered one of the biggest monopolies ever) was broken up in 1911, it controlled only 65 percent of the oil market. And antitrust action has been brought against firms controlling just over 5 percent of their market. A monopoly, Teachout proposes, is simply 'any company that has so much power that it sets the terms of an interaction.'"

Adolph Reed, "The Surprising Cross-Racial Saga of Modern Wealth Inequality: Why the 'racial wealth gap' fails to explain economic inequality in black and white America. [...] 'Racism' is an alternative to a concrete explanation; it doesn't tell us how inequalities are produced, and in lieu of that only gives us a name by which we can group, and stigmatize, them. Patterns of racial difference in outcomes can occur for many different reasons, some of them random. Knowing what produces the truly ongoing and germane unequal outcomes behind the wealth gap is the only way we can hope ultimately to address and correct them. What's more, recognizing that racial economic inequality is in large part a product of 40 years or more of upward redistribution and intensifying concentration of income among the already wealthy creates a different set of necessary political responses. To eradicate the racial wealth gap, we need to link up the pursuit of justice and equality for African Americans to the broader campaign to bring justice and equality to all working Americans."

An entertaining thread on how Jeff Bezos is a black hole.

I had a moment of nostalgia watching the Rolling Stone interview with Al Gore and wondered for a moment why, forgetting everything else, Joe Biden is our nominee instead of this guy.

Everything you know is wrong, volume 168: "Michael Parenti: Reflection on the Overthrow of Communism"

"Data-mining reveals that 80% of books published 1924-63 never had their copyrights renewed and are now in the public domain: This January, we celebrated the Grand Re-Opening of the Public Domain, as the onerous terms of the hateful Sonny Bono Copyright Act finally developed a leak, putting all works produced in 1923 into the public domain, with more to follow every year -- 1924 goes PD in 2020, and then 1925, etc. But there's another source of public domain works: until the 1976 Copyright Act, US works were not copyrighted unless they were registered, and then they quickly became public domain unless that registration was renewed. The problem has been to figure out which of these works were in the public domain, because the US Copyright Office's records were not organized in a way that made it possible to easily cross-check a work with its registration and renewal."

Annie Lennox with Queen and David Bowie, "Under Pressure"

03:20 GMT comment


Thursday, 09 July 2020

It's always the living that are haunting my nights

The Onion, "Nancy Pelosi Calls Jamaal Bowman To Scold Him For Winning Primary: WASHINGTON—Following the progressive challenger's victory over 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi phoned Jamaal Bowman to scold him for winning his primary race, sources confirmed Wednesday. 'I just wanted to call and personally reprimand you for your victory,' said Pelosi, extending her sincerest indignation to the former Bronx middle school educator, who is expected to easily win the general election in his heavily Democratic congressional district. 'I understand there are some mail-in ballots that still need to be counted, but it appears you won big last night and energized a lot of first-time voters and young people we absolutely did not want voting in this primary. So allow me to extend my sincerest fuck-you for everything you've done. Obviously, we're going to be working together soon, so I look forward to crushing you the first chance I get.' Pelosi added that when things became official in November, she would call again to express how frustrated she was to welcome Bowman to Congress."

Photo: Heroic MA Senator protects his constituents: "This is my favorite photo of Senator Ed Markey. He's the guy in the middle of the photo in the dorky shirt. This United States Senator showed up at the #SayHerName BLM protest in Boston yesterday to bear witness and be an ally. See how he's standing alone, listening respectfully to the speakers? He did that *the entire event*. Markey did not take a mic. He only spoke to reporters when they approached him. He did not have an entourage. None of the marshals were assigned to keep an eye on him. He just showed up, took a knee, and marched behind the POC who organized the event. What he did do, was use his presence to keep the people at that event safe. You better believe Boston Police knew a United States Senator was walking in the noisy, unruly mob that was our protest yesterday. And not one cop hassled us. Not one White Supremist made a run at us. Markey quietly used his presence to protect his constituents. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen is how a true public servant behaves. Vote to re-elect Senator Ed Markey on September 1."

"In Colorado, Progressives Had A Chance At Real Power. They Let It Go.: John Hickenlooper swept the Democratic Senate nomination with little fight from the left. [...] Hickenlooper, the popular former governor and failed 2020 presidential candidate, routed Andrew Romanoff, the former state House speaker who ran firmly to Hickenlooper's left, in the race to take on Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in November's election. Gardner is among this cycle's most vulnerable GOP incumbents, meaning the Democratic primary presented the opportunity for progressives to place an ally in the Senate. But in letting Hickenlooper claim the nomination with a margin of close to 20 percentage points, they lost any hope of having a candidate who might actually rally around some of their biggest policy ideas, including the Green New Deal and Medicare for All."

Supreme Court hands big win to Trump on expelling immigrants seeking asylum: The 7-2 ruling allows people to be deported without judicial review of their cases. WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday gave a victory to the Trump administration on the president's signature issue of immigration, ruling that some people seeking asylum in the U.S. can be deported without additional court hearings. In a 7-2 vote, the court said people who fail to make a valid case for asylum in their initial screenings, by credibly claiming that they fear persecution at home, can be fast-tracked for deportation and cannot challenge that decision in federal court. [...] Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said that form of relief is intended to be used for those seeking release from detention, not as an avenue to get into federal court. And other constitutional rights of due process do not automatically apply to migrants simply because they set foot on U.S. soil and have not been legally admitted. In their dissent, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said the court was wrong to rule that constitutional protections don't apply to asylum-seekers "who challenge the procedures used to determine whether they may seek shelter in this country or whether they may be cast to an unknown fate." The decision 'increases the risk of erroneous immigration decisions.'"

"Supreme Court Rules Taxpayers Must Subsidize Religious Schools [...] In other words, the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue decision means that public dollars will go to private religious schools, in a clear violation of the separation of church and state, and a direct attack on public education."

"The Supreme Court Just Gave Corporations A License To Steal: The courthouse door was just slammed shut on workers and retirees whose pension plans get bilked. [...] Now here's the punchline: Rather than weighing in on the allegations of theft, Kavanaugh and the other conservative justices slammed the courthouse door on the plaintiffs and every other plaintiff like them, thereby creating the conditions for an undeterrable crime spree."

"Supreme Court Lifts Limits on Trump's Power to Fire Consumer Watchdog: The case concerning the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was part of a politically charged battle over presidential authority. WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the president is free to fire the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without cause. The decision, rejecting a federal law that sought to place limits on presidential oversight of independent agencies, was a victory for the conservative movement to curb the administrative state. The ruling puts to rest a decade of doubt over whether the bureau and its leadership structure, in which the director is appointed by the president to a five-year term and cannot be dismissed without a substantial reason, were constitutional. While the narrow decision validates the agency's existence, it could also open it to greater politicization, effectively turning its director into something akin to a cabinet member who serves at the pleasure of a president."

"'Monumental Victory': Tribes and Climate Activists Celebrate Court-Ordered Shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline: 'If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it's that health and justice must be prioritized early on in any decision-making process if we want to avoid a crisis later on.'"

"'Vindication': Bayer Reaches $10 Billion Settlement Over Roundup Cancer Lawsuits: The deal includes $1.25 billion to cover potential future settlements. Agribusiness giant Bayer announced Wednesday that it reached a more than $10 billion deal to settle thousands of lawsuits that claimed exposure to Monsanto's Roundup caused cancer. A statement from Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018—and thus inherited lawsuits targeting the widely used weedkiller—said the settlement affects "75% of the current Roundup litigation involving approximately 125,000 filed and unfiled claims overall."

"A Federal Judge Is Really Tired Of GM And Fiat Chrysler's Shit: GM sued Fiat Chrysler in November, accusing it of corrupt contract negotiations, which led to higher labor costs for GM. In light of events since then, a federal judge is extremely tired of the suit already. The judge's order—for GM CEO Mary Barra and FCA CEO Mike Manley to meet in person and alone—is a good reminder that legal disputes are often only about five or ten percent of actual law and in fact more like regular disputes in real life. Lawsuits are cloaked in legal language—95 pages of it, in GM's original civil complaint—but it doesn't follow that resolutions have to be especially complex. That, of course, doesn't stop some civil proceedings from going on for years at a time, seemingly only to the benefit of the lawyers getting paid to argue them. Which is just the kind of proceeding Judge Paul Borman foresees happening in the GM-FCA case. On Tuesday, he ordered Barra and Manley to meet in person before July 1 to resolve things, explicitly tying the case to the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement."

"SEC Regulators: Private Equity Is on a Crime Spree: Securities and Exchange Commission regulators recently issued a scathing report that reads like a last-ditch plea for help in reeling in private equity billionaires, who have all but free rein to fleece whoever they want, whenever they want. [...] In a little-noticed ruling last week, the Supreme Court restricted the SEC's power to punish private equity firms. With the agency successfully neutered, Trump is now trying to move Clayton into the job of US Attorney, overseeing Wall Street."

"An Entire Pro Softball Team Quit After Their GM Tried to Use Them as Racist, Pro-Trump Propaganda: A few weeks ahead of the slated return of most U.S. sports, pro women's softball held its first game in Melbourne, Florida this week. Shortly after the game ended, every member of the Texas-based Scrap Yard Fast Pitch quit the team. Every single one. At some point during the game, the team's general manager Connie May tweeted a picture of the players standing during the national anthem. The tweet tagged Donald Trump, declaring, 'Everyone respecting the FLAG!' According to the New York Times, the team returned to their locker room after the game to find a bunch of texts and notifications about the picture, which was posted without their knowledge or consent to promote a political message they say was not their intention. May's implication is that by standing for the anthem, the team is showing opposition (or at the very least, indifference) to the Black Lives Matter movement, making it a sort of anti-protest protest in itself. And the team made it clear they were not okay with that message."

"The Marijuana Superweapon Biden Refuses to Use: Legalizing marijuana is extremely popular. So why won't Joe Biden embrace the idea? Democratic political consultants dream of issues like marijuana legalization. Democrats are overwhelmingly in favor of it, polls show. So are independents. A majority of Republicans favor it now too. It motivates progressives, young people, and Black Americans to vote. Put it on the ballot, and it's proved a sure way to boost turnout for supportive politicians. It's popular in key presidential-election states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, and Virginia. There's no clear political downside— although marijuana legalization motivates its supporters, it doesn't motivate its opponents. For the Democratic presidential nominee, the upsides of supporting it would include energizing a very committed group of single-issue voters and making a major move toward criminal-justice reform and the Bernie Sanders agenda. Joe Biden won't inhale."

"Chelsea Manning's Jailer Is Running For Congress -- As A Democrat: James Averhart confined the Iraq War whistleblower to a tiny cell 23 hours a day -- and now could end up as the Democratic Party's nominee in Alabama [...] James Averhart, who is competing in a July 14 run-off election for an Alabama congressional seat, also oversaw a Bush-era military push to track down and punish veterans who deserted the Vietnam War -- an initiative seen as an attempt to discourage soldiers from deserting during the Iraq War."

"Who To Believe on Afghan Intelligence: CIA, NSA, or Pentagon?: Digging below the bombshell headlines and MSM chyrons on the current Russian-bounty-on-US-soldiers-in-Afghanistan allegations, it seems three separate US government (USG) agencies — the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Pentagon — have different assessments as to the veracity of this story. [...] I can easily see this Russian-bounty story — to the extent the CIA's intelligence is creditable — being concocted by corrupt local officials and/or USG employed Afghans to keep their gravy train going in an effort along with Deep State operative to derail Trump's troop-withdrawal plans. Thus, I place very little credence in the CIA's in-country human intelligent sources who supposedly are the source of the CIA's Russian-bounty story. [...] Contrarily, the NSA — which strongly disagrees with the CIA's assessment on the Russian-bounty story — relies on so-called signal intelligence for making its intelligence assessments. [...] It is also important to note the Pentagon's statement on Tuesday: '... the Department of Defense [DoD] has no corroborating evidence at this time to validate recent allegations regarding malign activity by Russian personnel against US forces in Afghanistan ....' [...] Getting back to reality, the real rationale behind the MSM's and the Washington War State's latest Russia-gate story can be explained in two words: Bagram Airbase. As I cover in an article I wrote in September 2019 ("The Real Reason the US is Staying in Afghanistan"), the pushback Trump has gotten throughout his presidency on removing all US troops in Afghanistan as he campaigned he would do as president has nothing to do with keeping Americans safe from jihadi terrorism, installing a democratic government in Kabul, or advance human (particularly women's) rights in Afghanistan. As I state in this article: The real reason for the pushback by the Washington national security establishment against getting all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan is the guiding maxim of our post-World War II "War State" (the military-industrial complex and pro-war political establishment President Eisenhower warned about) that has grown into a $1-trillion/year enterprise with a worldwide empire of over 800 foreign military installations: never give up a military base in a strategic location."

In Consortium News, "LEE CAMP: Connecting the Dates — US Media Used To Stop The 'Threat' of Peace [...] Now, I'm not implying Trump is some kind of hippy peacenik. (He would look atrocious with no bra and flowers in his hair.) No, the military under Trump has dropped more bombs than under Obama, and that's impressive since Obama dropped more bombs than ever before. However, in certain areas of the world, Trump has threatened to create peace. Sure, he's doing it for his own ego and because he thinks his base wants it, but whatever the reason, he has put forward plans or policies that go against the military industrial complex and the establishment war-hawks (which is 95 percent of the establishment). And each time this has happened, he is quickly thwarted, usually with hilarious propaganda. (Well, hilarious to you and me. Apparently believable to people at The New York Times and former CIA intern Anderson Cooper.) I know four things for sure in life. Paper beats rock. Rock beats scissors. Scissors beat paper. And propaganda beats peace. All one has to do is look at a calendar."

I found this clip from The Michael Brooks Show pretty scary since it confirms all my worst fears, "Pentagon's 'Zoomer Rebellion' War Games ft. Joshua Kahn Russell.

"On Stonewall anniversary, the NYPD launched a brutal unprovoked attack on LGBTQ people: The NYPD may have apologized last year for raiding the Stonewall Inn, spawning days of riots and police brutality, but they apparently haven't decided to stop the behavior. As Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted about honoring Stonewall, the cops were unleashing pepper spray on LGBTQ people dancing in celebration. Yesterday, as the Queer Liberation March wound down and participants celebrated in nearby Washington Square Park, police charged into the crowd, swinging batons, shoving people to the ground, and arresting a handful of participants. The officers kept their badge numbers covered."

"I'm Black and Afraid of 'White Fragility' [...] White Fragility also reinforces the belief that the responsibility for racism lies with individual workers' attitudes and invisible phenomena including implicit bias rather than the policies and practices authorized by employers. If I were an employer, why wouldn't I want to hire a specialist to train workers to believe that their own identities and unconscious biases are the main sources of inequality, instead of exploitative workplace practices? Simply put, DiAngelo continues to be paid by schools and firms across the country for the same reason that employers pay any professional or manager: it advances their material interests as opposed to the interests of their personnel."

Matt Taibbi wrote about the subject and later discussed it with Katie Halper on their podcast, ""White Fragility," Plus Adolph Reed on Identity Politics | Useful Idiots."

"How to Be an Anti-Intellectual: A lauded book about antiracism is wrong on its facts and in its assumptions. [...] Kendi's goals are openly totalitarian. The DOA would be tasked with 'investigating' private businesses and 'monitoring' the speech of public officials; it would have the power to reject any local, state, or federal policy before it's implemented; it would be made up of 'experts' who could not be fired, even by the president; and it would wield 'disciplinary tools' over public officials who did not 'voluntarily' change their 'racist ideas'—as defined, presumably, by people like Kendi. What could possibly go wrong? [...] For one thing, he doesn't believe that people can be persuaded out of racism. 'People are racist out of self-interest, not out of ignorance,' Kendi writes. Thus, racists can't be educated out of their racism. 'Educational and moral suasion is not only a failed strategy,' he laments, it's a 'suicidal' one. This is a tough claim to square with the rest of the book, which contains story after story in which Kendi gets persuaded out of his racist beliefs—including one where a friend named Clarence reasons him out of believing that white people are extraterrestrials. Indeed, what makes Kendi's personal story so compelling is precisely the fact that he's constantly changing. That said, when reflecting on his college days, Kendi describes his former self as 'a believer more than a thinker,' so perhaps not everything about him has changed."

"It Wouldn't Be 'The Chicks' If Their Comeback Didn't Piss Off Some People" — They dropped the "Dixie" part and have a new album, Gaslighter.

In which Nathan Robinson totally disagrees with Matt Taibbi: "Has The American Left Lost Its Mind?: No. Once again critics of the left are misstating the facts and distracting us from consequential issues."

This is Ted Rall in WSJ, which is surprising enough, but he's right. "Police Brutality Affects Us All: Advocates for police reform have emphasized brutality's unique burden on black Americans. A better approach might be to emphasize that police officers rough whites up, too. The point isn't to diminish the black experience but to convince everyone they're in the same boat. More whites would join the struggle against police brutality if they believed the police were dangerous to them as well. Support for funding AIDS research expanded after activist groups convinced Americans in the 1980s that the 'gay plague' threatened straight people. It was oversold: A 2015 study found homosexuals were more than 20 times as likely to be infected as heterosexuals. But 1/20th isn't zero. Anyone can contract the virus. Similarly, there's no dispute that black Americans bear more than their share of police violence. In 2019, according to Statista, officers killed1,004 civilians nationwide: 370 whites, 235 blacks, 158 Latinos and 241 of other or unknown ethnic origin. Adjusting for population, the odds of an African-American dying at the hands of police is about 2.5 times as high as for a white person. Even so, 370 is far from zero. [...] If you're white, you should know you may get shot and brutalized by cops. That knowledge could save your life—and it will help you empathize with black victims of police violence."

Dean Baker, "NYT Argues Workers Should Get More, but Gets Some Important Facts Wrong I hate to be nitpicky when the NYT writes a very strong editorial arguing that we need more money going to ordinary workers and less to the rich, but it is important to get the story right. Unfortunately, the editorial misses much of it. First and foremost, there has not been a major shift from wages to profits during the period of wage stagnation. [...] The piece also implies that stock returns have been extraordinarily high through the last four decades. This is clearly wrong. While returns were very high in the 1980s and 1990s, they actually have been well below long-term averages for the last two decades. In this vein, the piece also proposes banning share buybacks as a way to reduce returns to shareholders. It is not clear what it hopes this would accomplish. It is hardly better for workers or anyone else if companies pay out money to shareholders through dividends rather than share buybacks. [...] The piece also is very modest in suggesting that the minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour. While this is a good near-term target, if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity growth since 1968, it would be over $24 an hour today. [...] In order to be able to raise the minimum wage back to its productivity-adjusted level from 1968, and not see excessive inflation, we would have to take steps to reduce high-end wages. This would mean things like fixing the corporate governance structures so CEOs could not ripoff the companies for which they work. This would mean they might get $2 million to $3 million a year, instead of $20 million. We would have to eliminate the waste in the financial sector, thereby ending the exorbitant pay in this sector. We would also have to weaken the importance of patent and copyright monopolies, making it less likely that Bill Gates types could get $100 billion. And, we would have to subject doctors and other highly paid professionals to competition, bringing their pay in line with their counterparts in other wealthy countries."

RIP: "Carl Reiner, Actor, Director, Writer, Producer And Mensch, Dies At 98. In 1950, comic actor Sid Caesar hired Reiner for the pioneering live TV sketch comedy program, Your Show of Shows. Reiner was a writer alongside Woody Allen, Neil Simon and Mel Brooks. He also acted as a supporting player. 'Being a second banana to such a massive first banana ... wasn't a comedown at all for me,' said Reiner. 'I realized I was working with the best.'" I can't even imagine my life without Carl Reiner. Especially, I can't imagine my life without The Dick Van Dyke Show and moments like this. But, as Alan Sepinwall said in Rolling Stone, "The Dick Van Dyke Show would be Carl Reiner's one inarguable masterpiece, if it weren't for all the others."

Some fascinating history of the south's Black Belt from Jacobin's podcast series: "Robin D. G. Kelley: How Depression-era Communists Fought to Organize Alabama.

"Mapping Paramilitary and Far-Right Threats to Racial Justice: We have been tracking reports of paramilitary and other far-right actors who are showing up at or adjacent to protests demanding an end to racist policing and a transformation of our carceral state. This map seeks to right-size the threat of paramilitaries to our social justice movements, neither exaggerating nor minimizing. We have confirmed 136 reported incidents since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020, and with new reports daily there are dozens more as of yet unconfirmed incidents to review. Given the variety of groups and factions involved and types of incidents, we have divided the data into a few broad categories of actors/ideologies on the one hand and actions and tactics on the other. In most cases, the underlying data preserves more nuance and can be used to make finer distinctions. "

From Harper's in 2008, Thomas Frank, "The Wrecking Crew: How a gang of right-wing con men destroyed Washington and made a killing Republicans and Democrats may fight over how big government should be and exactly what it should do, we tell ourselves, but surely everyone shares those baseline good intentions, that simple devotion to the public interest. [...] But the truth is almost exactly the opposite, whether we are discussing Abramoff or the wider tsunami of corruption that has washed over the capital in recent years. It is just this: Fantastic misgovernment is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society."

Rolling Stone interviews Ringo Starr for his 80th birthday.

"Lord of the Rings Director Peter Jackson Pens Moving Tribute to Ian Holm: Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson penned a moving tribute to the late Ian Holm." There are a few interesting behind-the-scenes touches in here.

"Meet The Real Mrs. Maisel: Jean Carroll [...] Although she was revered as the top 'comedienne' (the quaint term for a woman comic) of her day, had her own sitcom on ABC, appeared on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' nearly 30 times and headlined at every major theater in the United States and London, she is notably absent from most histories of comedy."

Someone from the Draft Jesse Ventura movement is appealing to my love of Legos.

David Gilmour has a new song, "Yes, I Have Ghosts".

05:34 GMT comment


Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Though we really did try to make it

People were surprised by the first two rulings out of the current Supreme Court session. Right-wingers hate them, the rest of us are relieved, but many of us are wondering how these same opinions will later be used as foundations for some pretty terrifying right-wing rulings: But for the moment, we are generally seeing them as a good thing.

"US Supreme court rules employers cannot discriminate against LGBTQ+ workers: Court rules 1964 civil rights law bars employers from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation or transgender status. [...] 'Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,' justice Neil Gorsuch wrote."

"US Supreme Court rules against Trump in 'capricious' DACA case: Court ruling allows 650,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children to remain and work. The US Supreme Court dealt US President Donald Trump a major setback on his hardline immigration policies, ruling against his bid to end a programme that protects from deportation 650,000 immigrants, dubbed "Dreamers", who entered the United States as children without documentation. The justices on Thursday upheld lower court rulings that found Trump's 2017 move to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, created in 2012 by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, was unlawful."

"Corporations Are Bankrolling US Police Foundations Without Public Oversight: As calls to defund the police gain traction, bloated police budgets are coming under scrutiny for siphoning public resources away from Black and Brown communities. While police budgets are typically public documents that must be approved by elected officials, there are other institutions in place with the sole purpose of funneling even more resources toward law enforcement. Police foundations across the country are partnering with corporations to raise money to supplement police budgets by funding programs and purchasing tech and weaponry for law enforcement with little public oversight. Annual fundraising events and parties like the St. Paul Police Foundation's 'Blue Nite Gala' and the Chicago Police Foundation's 'True Blue' event are huge moneymakers. The NYC Police Foundation reported that it raised $5.5 million from its annual benefit in 2019. If police departments already have massive budgets — averaging 20% to 45% of a municipal budget — why do these organizations exist? Police foundations offer a few unique benefits to law enforcement.

"Unsanitized: The Federal Reserve Can End the State Fiscal Crisis Today: With Congress inert, the Fed can solve the economy's biggest looming threat. This is The COVID-19 Daily Report for June 12, 2020.. [...] The MLF is a $500 billion fund. Under the self-imposed rules of the emergency credit facilities (governed by Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act), the $454 billion stake from Treasury authorized by the CARES Act must absorb losses from the loans they make. So they could shut down the other credit facilities entirely and tweak the MLF, eliminating the interest rate and making principal payments optional or extending the maturities to 200 years or some other function that makes them effectively grants, with Treasury eating the losses. In other words, the $500 billion that the National Governors Association wants is mostly available, from the Fed, and all it would take is a simple announcement to distribute it." But you know what's really going to happen."

Pareene, "Abolish These Police Departments: Minneapolis's police force has forfeited its right to exist. So have other cities'. [...] Before telling activists and protesters to abandon radical slogans for more targeted reforms, consider that Minneapolis has already tried a number of reforms—it has reached for nearly every piece of low-hanging fruit. It would be great if police departments could more easily fire bad officers, and other police departments could not hire them. But the Minneapolis Police Department couldn't even implement a plan to identify problem officers. Any attempt to do so—to identify problem officers and then fire them—would require an entirely different police culture. It would require, in other words, dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department. Of course, if you come to believe that, because of its unique history and resistance to previous reform efforts, the Minneapolis Police Department has forfeited its right to exist, it is difficult not to apply the same logic to nearly every other urban police department in the nation. Chicago needs public safety; does it need the police department responsible for murdering Laquan McDonald and detaining thousands of people in the Homan Square black site? People who argue that Baltimore needs more and better policing should explain why that policing ought to come from the irredeemable Baltimore Police Department, one of the most fundamentally rotten and corrupt institutions in the country. Public figures have debated what to do about Baltimore's horrific homicide rates for years. The criminal mob that has been wreaking havoc there, while also not preventing or solving very many of those murders has, I think, lost the right to participate in that debate. If the reasons to disband these particular urban police departments are all quite similar, maybe the problem with policing in this country is the way that we have built the modern urban police department. Maybe the problem is the way we conceive of policing. Maybe the problem is the police."

Handy advice from Teen Vogue: "Tear Gas and Pepper Spray: What to Do if You're Exposed: Whether it's tear gas or pepper spray, find out what to do if you're exposed."

Help from Vox, "How to fight an outrageous medical bill, explained: Five patients tell us how they pushed back — and won."

A lot of these warmongering conservative Democrats just don't seem to get that "democracy" thing: New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel on Sunday scolded firebrand lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for backing his progressive primary challenger — going so far as to accuse her of acting like a dictator." Endorsing conservadems is just fine, but endorsing progressives is "a dictatorship".

"Beltway Dems Are Trying To Prevent A Progressive Senate: Party leaders are desperately trying to buy the Colorado Senate primary for a scandal-plagued opponent of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. [...] For years, Democratic party leaders have publicly insisted they follow a 'just win, baby' playbook that leads them to support any candidate -- liberal or moderate -- best positioned to win GOP seats. But activists have come to suspect that, in fact, party leaders are actually willing to prioritize crushing progressive candidates, even if that might risk losing general elections to Republicans. Democratic leaders' heavy-handed behavior in Colorado seems to confirm those suspicions -- and it could now jeopardize the entire effort to take back Congress from Donald Trump's party."

"Football Leaks' Rui Pinto in prison with hard-drive passwords in his head: Website provided evidence that led to Manchester City's ban but Pinto has more information and 'authorities are afraid' Lisbon's Judiciary Police prison is situated just down the road from Eduardo VII Park, one of the Portuguese capital's most popular tourist attractions that is famed for its spectacular views of the city and the River Tagus. With only around 25 tiny cells and based in the depths of the giant white building which is the headquarters of the country's antiterrorist and serious crime authorities, the high-security facility is usually reserved for only the most dangerous criminals. For almost the past year, however, it has also been home to Rui Pinto. The 31-year-old, who created the Football Leaks website which provided some of the evidence that led to Manchester City's Champions League ban and numerous other investigations into tax evasion and corruption in football and beyond, is still awaiting trial for alleged extortion, violation of secrecy and illegally accessing information despite being extradited to his homeland from Hungary in March 2019. Last week, his lawyers filed a complaint to the European Commission over inconsistencies in the original arrest warrant that accused Pinto of only six offences before that was increased to 147 while he was in custody."

"The Great Seed Piracy: A great seed and biodiversity piracy is underway and it must be stopped. The privateers of today include not just the corporations — which are becoming fewer and larger through mergers — but also individuals like Bill Gates, the 'richest man in the world'. When the Green Revolution was pushed in India and Mexico, farmers' seeds were 'rounded-up' and locked in international institutions, which used these seeds to breed green revolution varieties which responded to chemical inputs. The first two institutions were the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico. These institutes took diversity from farmers' fields and replaced the diversity with chemical monocultures of rice, wheat and corn."

"Racism and the Working Class: When I tell other middle-class professionals who don't know me well that I'm writing a book about working-class culture, it's amazing how often they respond approvingly that 'white racism' is an important subject. My reaction, depending on the circumstance, ranges from embarrassment to rage. It's frustrating that 'working class' reads as all white to so many people who should know better. And it pisses me off that so many educated people assume that the white part of the working class is either uniformly racist and/or that racism is the most distinctive part of their culture. And it often seems there is a background assumption that little or no racism exists among the educated middle class, that all white racism is contained within the working class."

When you think about how hard (and effectively) the United States government has worked to prevent or destroy democracy in the rest of the world, it's hard to believe they wouldn't stop it at all costs in America, too. "The Jakarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade w/ Vincent Bevins - MR Live - 6/9/20. [...] Bevins shares the untold story of the US's role in promoting slaughter across Indonesia in the name of securing western capitalist."

"In 1918, there was an anti-mask league in San Francisco: In 1918, there was an anti-mask league in San Francisco, which objected to wearing masks to prevent the spread of influenza. They held meetings of thousands of maskless people. San Francisco was ultimately was one of the cities that suffered most from the Spanish Influenza pandemic."

It's one thing when Republicans call you a conspiracy theorist for suspecting them of cheating, but it's another thing when Democrats agree with them. How did that happen? The voting machines are still suspicious, and so are the outcomes of elections. If you can't do a full manual recount and you can't audit, you should assume someone is rigging elections. "There's No Way to Know If ANY U.S. Elections Are Legitimate." (Full show: "Jennifer Cohn talks to Nomiki - Our Democracy Is Eroding.")

Touré Reed is giving interviews for his new book. "The Pitfalls of Liberal Antiracism and Woke Neoliberalism: "Tonight we're speaking with Professor of history at Illinois State University, Touré Reed, about the political implications of seeing racial identities, separated from material relationships, as the engine of American history. Instead, he spells out why the road to a more just society for African Americans broadly is inextricably linked to that of poor and working-class Americans and coalitions built around their material needs." He makes the important point that, contrary to claims of neoliberal identitarians, the New Deal did a lot for black America. And universal programs usually do.

"Adolph Reed, Cedric Johnson, Willie Legette & Michael Brooks 'Bernie, South Carolina & Black Voters'" — Personally, I found this most gratifying to watch because it horrified me to watch otherwise smart people constantly putting pressure on Sanders about being more race-centered, something he did well to avoid in 2015-16 but succumbed to by 2019-20,sadly.

"Antiracism Campaigns: Twenty Years of Making Racism Worse: Studies over twenty years come to the same conclusion: Antiracism fails because it reduces complex problems to race, which strengthens the idea that race matters enormously."

"The Pitfalls of Liberal Antiracism and Woke Neoliberalism (Stay At Home #12) Tonight we're speaking with Professor of history at Illinois State University, Touré Reed, about the political implications of seeing racial identities, separated from material relationships, as the engine of American history. Instead, he spells out why the road to a more just society for African Americans broadly is inextricably linked to that of poor and working-class Americans and coalitions built around their material needs. His latest book out from Verso is titled Toward Freedom: The Case Against Race Reductionism."

Republicans are certainly a big part of the problem, but there's still the other part: [...] When it comes to the problems with policing in this country, Democrats seem fundamentally unable to conceive of themselves as a big part of the problem. At best there is an argument about the Republicans being worse — which is true, and is almost universally true — that is used to deflect criticism. It is necessary to face up to the reality that many of the places with the worst problems with police violence are, and have been, controlled by Democrats at the local level for a long time. If you look at protesters and don't understand why they burn property rather than channel their anger into voting, the very obvious answer is that there is no imaginary future in which voting for Joe Biden and whoever they just elected Mayor will actually solve the problem. Republicans offer pure authoritarianism — they actively *encourage* police to be brutal — while Democrats have done nothing to stop them, or in many cases abetted them."

Taibbi, "The American Press Is Destroying Itself: A flurry of newsroom revolts has transformed the American press. [...] The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation. They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily. They've conned organization after organization into empowering panels to search out thoughtcrime, and it's established now that anything can be an offense, from a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King's 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail' out loud to a data scientist fired* from a research firm for — get this — retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones! Now, this madness is coming for journalism. Beginning on Friday, June 5th, a series of controversies rocked the media. By my count, at least eight news organizations dealt with internal uprisings (it was likely more). Most involved groups of reporters and staffers demanding the firing or reprimand of colleagues who'd made politically 'problematic' editorial or social media decisions." There's been other crazy stuff he doesn't mention here, but I actually think James Bennet should have lost his seat at the NYT because he didn't do his job, which is to read stuff before publishing it.

"RAY McGOVERN: How an Internet 'Persona' Helped Birth Russiagate: Guccifer 2.0 turns four years old today and the great diversion he took part in becomes clearer by the day, writes Ray McGovern. Four years ago today, on June 15, 2016, a shadowy Internet persona calling itself 'Guccifer 2.0' appeared out of nowhere to claim credit for hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee on behalf of WikiLeaks and implicate Russia by dropping 'telltale' but synthetically produced Russian 'breadcrumbs' in his metadata. Thanks largely to the corporate media, the highly damaging story actually found in those DNC emails — namely, that the DNC had stacked the cards against Bernie Sanders in the party's 2016 primary— was successfully obscured. The media was the message; and the message was that Russia had used G-2.0 to hack into the DNC, interfering in the November 2016 election to help Donald Trump win. [...] Adding to other signs of fakery, there is hard evidence that G-2.0 was operating mostly in U.S. time zones and with local settings peculiar to a device configured for use within the U.S., as Tim Leonard reports here and here.) Leonard is a software developer who started to catalog and archive evidence related to Guccifer 2.0 in 2017 and has issued detailed reports on digital forensic discoveries made by various independent researchers — as well as his own — over the past three years. Leonard points out that WikiLeaks said it did not use any of the emails G2.0 sent it, though it later published similar emails, opening the possibility that whoever created G2.0 knew what WikiLeaks had and sent it duplicates with the Russian fingerprints. As Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) told President Trump in a memorandum of July 24, 2017, titled 'Was the 'Russian Hack' an Inside Job?': 'We do not think that the June 12, 14, & 15 timing was pure coincidence. Rather, it suggests the start of a pre-emptive move to associate Russia with anything WikiLeaks might have been ready to publish and to 'show' that it came from a Russian hack.' 'The recent forensic studies fill in a critical gap. Why the FBI neglected to perform any independent forensics on the original 'Guccifer 2.0' material remains a mystery — as does the lack of any sign that the 'hand-picked analysts' from the FBI, CIA, and NSA, who wrote the misnomered 'Intelligence Community' Assessment dated January 6, 2017, gave any attention to forensics.'"

"Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge: Exclusive: prehistoric structure spanning 1.2 miles in diameter is masterpiece of engineering, say archaeologists [...] Four thousand five hundred years ago, the Neolithic peoples who constructed Stonehenge, a masterpiece of engineering, also dug a series of shafts aligned to form a circle spanning 1.2 miles (2km) in diameter. The structure appears to have been a boundary guiding people to a sacred area because Durrington Walls, one of Britain's largest henge monuments, is located precisely at its centre. The site is 1.9 miles north-east of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, near Amesbury, Wiltshire."

"Cycling Into London As Comic Shops (And Everything Else) Open Up: I took a socially distanced bicycle ride into London this morning. Today is the day that the UK government has decreed that non-essential shops are allowed to open across England, and that includes comic shops. Boris Johnson has read all his Tintin books three times over and was clearly in need of something new. So on my Boris bike, I whizzed in, filming as I went..." Lotsa photos and a video.

Boogaloo WTF?

RIP: "Ian Holm, Shakespearean actor in Lord of the Rings, Alien, Chariots of Fire, dies at 88: [...] His agent confirmed the death to the Guardian newspaper in England: 'It is with great sadness that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88. He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer,' adding that his illness was Parkinson's related. 'Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.'"

RIP: "Dame Vera Lynn: Forces' Sweetheart dies aged 103" — BBC. "Singer known as the 'Forces Sweetheart' whose recordings of We'll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover shaped the national mood in wartime BritainGuardian

Some favorite commentary on the events of the day from Atrios:
* — "Seems Bad: Remember when the Bush administration fired US attorneys and most people in the press refused to believe it because it was too bad to imagine and now George Bush paints dogs so he is good. I bet you don't recall."
* — "Owning The LIbs: As with any policy, it's reasonable to ask just what the enforcement mechanism is. I don't think cops (especially our glorious boys in blue who don't personally seem interested in any kind of responsible behavior such as mask wearing) should be arresting people for not wearing masks. Even if there is precisely zero enforcement of any kind, simply having a rule means that many people will follow it. Most people are rule followers! Signal people should wear masks, and a lot of people will wear masks! Though conservatives arguing one minute that black people deserve to be murdered for not obeying even the mental commands of cops, and then screaming TYRANNY over the unlikely possibility a cop might tell them to wear a mask is, well, you know what it is. These people who aren't wearing masks specifically to OWN THE LIBS, the plague spreading version of rolling coal, are deeply fucked up individuals. Like most efforts to OWN THE LIBS it doesn't make us mad the way they think it does, because we actually aren't the triggered-by-stupid-shit snowflakes they imagine we are. It makes us a bit worried that people are going to die and the whole damn country is going to collapse into the hellmouth."
* — "Bold: Back the dark ages of the internet, even pre-blog time, there was a little online magazine called Slate, which over time got a reputation for "contrarian" thinking. They did do the "that thing you like is actually bad" kind of contrarian stuff, but mostly it was simply a rhetorical ploy, a way of presenting dominant mainstream positions as being rebellious." (There's more.)
* — "Why Won't The Protesters Take Advice From Me [...] It's clear by now that while there unsurprisingly hasn't been some amount of opportunistic theft (looting is loaded word, also, too), the people escalating violent situations are the people tasked with preventing violence. Calls for "nonviolent protest" place the responsibility on the people who are almost entirely not responsible for any violence. Direct it at the people in power." (Do read the rest.)

"On the Groundbreaking Documentary That Brought the Birthplace of Chicago Blues Alive: It Wouldn't Have Been Possible Without 'Guitar King' Michael Bloomfield. [...] 'You gotta make a movie about Maxwell Street, Mike,' Bloomfield said. 'The hustlers, the pimps, those alte kaker businessmen, man, it's real street action. And the music! Blues, gospel, street corner shouters— it's all down there on Maxwell.'

"Make 'This Land is Your Land' the U. S. National Anthem.."

Mr. Sideshow has just stumbled upon a cache of old R. Crumb comics he forgot he had somewhere which included an issue of HUP with a six-page story from 1989 featuring the kidnapping and forced "interview" of "one of the most evil men alive, real estate tycoon Donald Trump!" (Cover)

"Mel Brooks: Why Blazing Saddles Is the 'Funniest Movie Ever Made'

David Malki's Wondermark is an entertaining comic strip.

Smashing socially-distanced performance by Steve Martin and the Philadelphia Orchestra of Martin's "Office Supplies"

Oh, wow, look at these beautiful redwoods in the snow

Audio of the 1978 WorldCon (Iguanacon) Fans to Pros panel with Terry Carr, Harlan Ellison, Richard Lupoff, Bob Silverberg,Ted White (pt.1), illustrated.

Eyeball in the sky: Halo of the Cat's Eye

Carole King & James Taylor, "It's Too Late" (Live at The Troubadour 2007)

04:33 GMT comment


Saturday, 13 June 2020

I hear the voice of rage and ruin

The Kirsi by Maria Susarenko is from this collection of seascapes. (More Susarenko here.)

"There, I Fixed It for You...: Corporate media headlines revised as though they were journalism."

Atrios calls this "The world's scariest graph".

"We Crunched the Numbers: Police — Not Protesters — Are Overwhelmingly Responsible for Attacking Journalists: WE ARE WITNESSING a truly unprecedented attack on press freedom in the United States, with journalists are being systematically targeted while covering the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The scale of the attacks is so large, it can be hard to fathom. At the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a project of Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists, we catalogued 150 press freedom violations in the United States in all of 2019. We are currently investigating 280 from just the last week. The crisis has rightly generated international outrage. Some have pushed a narrative — fueled by commonly used phrases like 'journalists are being attacked by police and protesters alike' — that police and protesters are attacking journalists at relatively equal rates. Our data shows this is incorrect. Police are responsible for the vast majority of assaults on journalists: over 80 percent."

"Minneapolis SF Bookstore Burned, Another Vandalized: Two Minneapolis science fiction landmarks were caught up in the wave of vandalism that struck the city amid protests against the death of George Floyd. Don Blyly's Uncle Hugo's bookstore has been burned, and Greg Ketter's DreamHaven was broken into and damaged. Uncle Hugo's, in business since 1974, and neighboring mystery bookstore Uncle Edgar's since 1980 (also burned), are located near the corner of Lake and Chicago, Uncle Hugo's is the nation's oldest surviving sf bookstore." Damn. I think Uncle Hugo's is where we bought our copy of The Motion of Light in Water. Wendy at Dreamhaven posted an update on the clean-up. Here's a photo of what the storefront looks like now.
Greg Ketter was interviewed on local television.

"Who Will You Believe, de Blasio or Your Lying Eyes?: Bill de Blasio didn't have a good morning, and that's fair, because neither did I or anyone else in his city. When he showed up as usual for Brian Lehrer's weekly 'Ask The Mayor' segment, the venerable WNYC host asked him some thrilling questions. 'I think there is one dominant topic for you this week,' Lehrer said. 'It seems, from a lot of reporting, that the city has a problem of the protests against too much police violence being met with too much police violence, or heavy-handed police tactics. Do you accept the premise?' 'No,' the mayor said. People are deeply hurt, he added. There's anger. There's pain. There are problems in policing we all have to fix. But minus a few unfortunate incidents, he continued, 'the police have shown a lot of restraint.' Citing reality, Lehrer pushed back. Here's all the reporting, he told the mayor. But the mayor dug in. No, no, no. Not happening, not here."

"Nothing Is Certain But Death, Taxes, And Police Infiltration Of US Protests: A video has been circulating of a white man casually smashing the windows of a Minneapolis shop with a hammer during protests against the police murder of George Floyd. The man is clearly trying to hide his identity by wearing a gas mask, carrying a large umbrella, and wearing full-length black clothing. Protesters can be seen intervening to stop his destructive behavior in the video. 'Are you a fucking cop?' one asks."

Tucker Carlson goes all-in for the Irony Award: "Did you watch that? How many more nights like this can we take? How many more nights like this before no one in America will serve as a police officer? It's not worth it. The people in charge hate you. The job doesn't pay enough. At that point, who will enforce the laws? Who will be in charge? Well, violent young men with guns will be in charge. They will make the rules, including the rules in your neighborhood. They will do what they want. You will do what they say. No one will stop them. You will not want to live here when that happens." That's already happened, Tucker, that's why people are protesting!

"'All an act': Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, says she was paid by right-wing groups to publicly turn against abortion [...] But in what she describes in the documentary as her "deathbed confession," McCovey characterizes her antiabortion activism as "all an act," telling a number of friends — and the public — that she was paid to repeat antiabortion talking points, according to reviews of the documentary in The Daily Beast and the Los Angeles Times. When she's asked if the antiabortion evangelical movement used her "as a trophy" in their cause, she says, 'Of course. I was the big fish ... I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money, and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say. That's what I'd say.' [...] The documentary makers found that McCorvey had been paid at least $456,911 worth of "benevolent gifts" by the antiabortion groups she affiliated herself with, The Daily Beast reported."

"The NYT Admits Key Falsehoods That Drove Last Year's Coup in Bolivia: Falsehoods Peddled by the U.S., its Media, and the NYT: IN NOVEMBER, 2019, Bolivia's three-term left-wing President, Evo Morales, was forced by the country's military and police forces to flee to Mexico after Morales, the prior month, had been officially certified as the winner of his fourth consecutive presidential election. It was unsurprising that Morales won. As the Associated Press noted in 2014, his governance was successful by almost every key metric, and he was thus 'widely popular at home for a pragmatic economic stewardship that spread Bolivia's natural gas and mineral wealth among the masses.' While Morales' popularity had marginally waned since his 2014 landslide victory, he was still the most popular politician in the country. On the night of the October 21, 2019, vote, Bolivia's election board certified that Morales' margin of victory against the second-place candidate exceeded the ten percent threshold required under Bolivian law to avoid a run-off, thus earning him a fourth term. But allegations of election fraud were quickly voiced by Morales' right-wing opponents, leading to his expulsion from the country on November 11."

Michael Brooks et al., "Bolivia's Coup Government Cancels Elections, What Happened To 'Restoring Democracy'?"

Not feeling too positive about her right now. "Stacey Abrams: Pragmatic Democrat in a Red State: Stacey Abrams is a proud ex-bureaucrat who also loves the novel Atlas Shrugged; she works with Republicans but sometimes frustrates her Democratic colleagues; she grew up on food stamps and co-founded a beverage company for children; she has worked as a tax attorney and written several romantic suspense novels on the side."

"Democrats are fueling a corporate counter-revolution against progressives: Democrats in Washington are not just passively failing to mount an opposition to Trump. They are actively helping Republicans. [...] This corporate counter-revolution is easiest to see in Democrats' enthusiastic support for Republicans' legislative response to the coronavirus crisis. Democrats' entire 2018 electoral campaign told America that the opposition party needed to win back Congress in order to block Trump's regressive agenda. And yet, when the Republicans proposed a bill to let Trump's appointees dole out government cash to their corporate allies with no strings attached, this same opposition party mustered not a single recorded vote against the package. Not one. Thanks to that, Trump appointees and the Federal Reserve can now hand out $4tn to politically connected corporations as they lay waste to our economy and steamroll progressive reforms. Private equity firms and fossil fuel companies get new tax breaks as they buy elections and try to lock in permanent climate change."

After publishing a shameful op-ed (with the excuse that he hadn't read it!), "James Bennet Resigns as Editor of The New York Times: The New York Times came under fire last week after publishing Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton's 'Send in the Troops' op-ed, a frighteningly fascist take on the George Floyd protests. Many readers and journalists at the Times were infuriated by the incendiary and downright dangerous screed, which lacked facts and credibility. In response, over 300 employees staged a virtual walkout, and every contributor of color tweeted the message that Cotton's article put their lives in danger." His replacement might even be good: "Katie Kingsbury was previously the managing editor at the Boston Globe. In 2015 she won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for a series of articles that exposed the unfair working conditions facing restaurant workers."

"Coming Soon: Bipartisan Deficit Hawks Calling for Austerity: Right now, government money is flowing. But soon the self-appointed guardians of 'fiscal responsibility' will call for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and SNAP, while leaving the defense budget and large tax breaks for the wealthy intact."

"43 Million Americans Are About to Lose Their Health Insurance Because of Our Employer-Based Health Care System: Opponents of Medicare for All have cast it as a political nonstarter since it would 'force people off their health insurance.' Now, as millions of laid-off workers lose their employer-provided insurance, the cynicism of that claim is being laid bare.

"Protestors Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First: MINNEAPOLIS—Calling for a more measured way to express opposition to police brutality, critics slammed demonstrators Thursday for recklessly looting businesses without forming a private equity firm first. 'Look, we all have the right to protest, but that doesn't mean you can just rush in and destroy any business without gathering a group of clandestine investors to purchase it at a severely reduced price and slowly bleed it to death,' said Facebook commenter Amy Mulrain, echoing the sentiments of detractors nationwide who blasted the demonstrators for not hiring a consultant group to take stock of a struggling company's assets before plundering. 'I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn't just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations. It's disgusting to put workers at risk by looting. You do it by chipping away at their health benefits and eventually laying them off. There's a right way and wrong way to do this.' At press time, critics recommended that protestors hold law enforcement accountable by simply purchasing the Minneapolis police department from taxpayers."

Atrios with a "Serious Question: I know some people get annoyed because I criticize the good guys a bit too much. Sometimes I have good explanations for their behavior even if I disagree. But Jared went around the country literally stealing PPE shipments, giving it to his friends, and letting them sell it for a big profit. I bet most of the country is not even aware of this. Why are they not on teevee, or even the twitter, talking about this constantly?"

"Toward Freedom: The Case Against Race Reductionism w/ Touré F. Reed - MR Live - 5/27/20"

RIP: "Larry Kramer, Normal Heart Playwright and AIDS Activist, Dies at 84: Best known for his devastating chronicle of the early days of the AIDS crisis, he also wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Women in Love. [...] Kramer died Wednesday morning in Manhattan of pneumonia, his husband, architect David Webster, told The New York Times."

RIP: "Singer Bonnie Pointer, of The Pointer Sisters fame, dies aged 69: Singer Bonnie Pointer, best known as a member of the Grammy-winning group The Pointer Sisters, has died at the age of 69, a representative has said. She died on Monday, according to her sister and fellow singer, Anita. No cause of death was revealed. In a statement to the PA news agency, Anita said: 'It is with great sadness that I have to announce to the fans of The Pointer Sisters that my sister, Bonnie died this morning.'"

"Tipping Point: Thomas Piketty's new history of global inequality [...] Capital and Ideology is a different kind of book. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer, it moves from an account of wealth accumulation in the most advanced economies over the last few centuries to a sprawling exploration of inequality worldwide going back to the Middle Ages. In the process, Piketty wades a few steps further into the forbidding waters of politics. Opening with a look at the feudal societies of the premodern era and surveying the development of capitalism and colonialism, he then turns to communism and the heyday of social democracy in a brief study of the post-World War II era before ending with a chapter that outlines a 'participatory socialism for the 21st century.' This was the same set of proposals that he defended against Lordon in January and has been championing in the French press since the book's release last September. In both its ambition and tone, Piketty's socialism is not all that different from the parliamentary socialism of the early 20th century, but it marks a considerable move left for someone whose first forays into politics fell firmly within the mainstream of France's Socialist Party, which by the 1990s had abandoned any pretense of breaking with capitalism. "

This is a long piece, I'm just pulling quotes out at random. "David Graeber on harmful jobs, odious debt, and fascists who believe in global warming [...] Capitalist evangelists always insisted the global financial system was the better, free market version of central planning: like a five year plan, in that it decides how resources will be allocated and invested to optimize future production, basically, to ensure that future people get what they want, to ensure long-term prosperity, happiness, well-being. No it doesn't. [...] I always find it slightly amusing that people always say 'oh my God, we can't get rid of the police, because if we get rid of police, everybody will just start killing each other!' Notice they never say 'I would start killing people.' 'Hmm, no police? I think I'll get a gun and shoot someone.' Everyone assumes someone else will. Actually as an anthropologist I know what happens when police disappear. I even lived in a place in rural Madagascar where the police had, effectively, disappeared some years before I arrived. It made almost no difference whatsoever. Well, property crime did increase, if people were very rich, they sometimes got pilfered. Murder if anything decreased. When police vanish in the middle of a big city, where property differences are much more extremely, burglary increases, definitely, but violent crime is entirely unaffected. But when it comes to organization — well, what we need to ask ourselves is why we think it's necessary to threaten to hit people over the head, or shoot them, or lock them in a dingy room for years, in order to maintain any form of organization. People who think that really don't have much faith in organization, do they?"

"Bernie Lost Because America Doesn't Have a Strong Labor Movement [...] The political Left does not need to be forever frustrated by the process of using campaign speeches to drag a skeptical or disinterested 18% of the public into enlightenment every four years. Elections are not the time to magically instill mass class consciousness; that has to be done between elections. And it will not be done by politicians, no matter how good they are. It can only be done by giving millions of people the firsthand experience of class consciousness in their own lives."

"You Don'T Understand, Or You Do, And In Either Case We'Re All Dead [...] Look, this isn't a case where you can split the baby (AND THE FUCKING POINT OF THAT STORY IS THAT SOME COMPROMISES CAN'T BE MADE JESUS CHEESY FRIES CHRIST)."

This article is worth reading every word of. "Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop [...] Reading the above, you may be tempted to ask whether cops ever do anything good. And the answer is, sure, sometimes. In fact, most officers I worked with thought they were usually helping the helpless and protecting the safety of innocent people. [...] The question is this: did I need a gun and sweeping police powers to help the average person on the average night? The answer is no. When I was doing my best work as a cop, I was doing mediocre work as a therapist or a social worker. My good deeds were listening to people failed by the system and trying to unite them with any crumbs of resources the structure was currently denying them. [...] What I mainly provided was an 'objective' third party with the authority to document property damage, ask people to chill out or disperse, or counsel people not to beat each other up. A trained counselor or conflict resolution specialist would be ten times more effective than someone with a gun strapped to his hip wondering if anyone would try to kill him when he showed up. There are many models for community safety that can be explored if we get away from the idea that the only way to be safe is to have a man with a M4 rifle prowling your neighborhood ready at a moment's notice to write down your name and birthday after you've been robbed and beaten."

I'm going to link this article, which Biden deserves, even though if I were Joe Biden and some black interviewer asked me if I was going to nominate a black woman as VP and suggested I should do this because the black community would want something from me, I'd have to smack him and say, "Are you telling me that all the black community wants is a token?" Not that Joe Biden would even be able to say it, but seriously? You're talking to a guy whose legislation kept segregation in place, put a bullseye on every young black male who walked down the street, put an extraordinary number of them in prison, made it impossible for them to discharge their debts, and increased the likelihood that their homes would be foreclosed on, and you're telling him that what the black community wants from him is just a token black woman? Really, slap him with a fish. But anyway, "Black Americans are in an abusive relationship with the Democratic party: An offensive comment by the Democratic presidential candidate is a reminder that black people — all people — deserve better than Joe Biden. I am very tired of Joe Biden. My vote for him was already hanging by a thread before his disastrous interview with Charlamagne tha God on Friday. Interrupting the Breakfast Club host's explanation that black people needed assurances that our communities will benefit from his presidency, Biden asserted: 'If you've got a problem figuring out whether you're for me or for Trump, then you ain't black.' Again, I am very tired of Joe Biden. Not because I am a purist, or have inflexible ideological commitments of what it will take to remove Donald Trump from office. But rather because Biden's condescension towards black communities is intolerable." Yes, Biden shouldn't have said it, but really, this is Joe Biden, and even if it weren't, if nominating Stacey or Kamala is all Charlamagne thinks black people need, he is out of his tiny little mind. Do we need to remind people that they had a whole black president and that guy let the banks wipe out black middle-class wealth? Jeez, get a clue, man.

"Touchscreen Voting Machines And The Vanishing Black Votes: Votes from predominantly black precincts have mysteriously vanished from touchscreen voting machines in both Tennessee and Georgia in recent elections. Georgia replaced the touchscreen system it had been using since 2002 with yet another controversial touchscreen system, rejecting the advice of most election security experts, who note that hand-marked paper ballots are less vulnerable to both tampering and error. A political battle is now raging in Shelby County — Tennessee's most populous county — over whether it will follow in Georgia's footsteps or switch to hand-marked paper ballots for the general election in November."

I'm pretty sure I must have linked this at the time, but worth remembering why we don't see the same kind of investigative reporting on the corporatocracy as we do of government. Mark Ames, "Seymour Hersh and the dangers of corporate muckraking," from five years ago.

"There's Nothing Good About Phyllis Schlafly: Mrs. America, the new miniseries about Phyllis Schlafly, doesn't want us to come away with a harsh view of its subject. But we should: Schlafly's right-wing views were consistently monstrous, doing untold damage to the country."

Woody Allen had a new movie out that in the rest of the world was very successful, but it has no American distributor. He's giving interviews. "'Do I really care?' Woody Allen comes out fighting: The 1992 accusation that the film-maker sexually assaulted his young daughter has made him a pariah, yet he was never charged. In this exclusive interview, he explains why he is done with treading carefully. [...] 'It doesn't pay to sue. Do I really want to be tabloid fodder for two years and go to court? And do I really care?' he says. Given that he lays out the allegation and ensuing drama in searing detail in his memoir, I would wager he cares quite a lot these days." Anyone who is really interested in the details should watch By the Way, Woody Allen Is Innocent, a feature-length (longish) documentary that I think makes a convincing case for its title. It's got a lot of interesting points but honestly, it just confirmed what I've felt all along from what I'd seen.

Eleven years ago, Bill Moyers sat down with Harvey J. Kaye and Richard Brookhiser to talk about Thomas Paine, on the 200th anniversary of his death. "Paine's extraordinary life was both glorious and tragic. He was not revered as some of our other founding fathers — and during his lifetime he was often feared and lampooned — and under threat of prison and even death. Harvey J. Kaye, who recently told his story in Thomas Paine and The Promise Of America, notes that Paine has again become currency in political debate because of a revolutionary idea that spread from the colonies to France and around the globe: 'That the common people...that Americans could be citizens and not merely subjects. That people had it within themselves not only to listen to their superiors, but literally to speak to each other and deliberate and govern themselves.'"

I hadn't realized Trina Robbins was that much older than me (and she sure looks different in that photo since the last time I saw her), but there's a nice little profile in a non-genre publication, San Francisco Senior Beat, "'I'll show them:' After a career challenging sexism, pioneer and icon of underground comix for 'wimmin' fends off ageism."

Seriously zoomed-in photo of Orion over Argentine Mountains.

Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Bad Moon Rising"

02:12 GMT comment


Sunday, 24 May 2020

Staring down this broken land

"FBI 'mistakenly reveals Saudi official linked' to 9/11 attackers: Mistake was made in a declaration by an FBI official in response to lawsuit by families of 9/11 victims, report says."

"With Move to Remote Voting, House Alters What It Means for Congress to Meet: The House's vote on Friday to allow lawmakers to work from afar will fundamentally change how Congress operates." This is a welcome turnabout from the games Pelosi has been playing. I'm hoping it's the first step in admitting that we don't have to restrict the number of Reps voters have to how many can fit under the Capitol Dome.

Must-listen: Nomiki Konst's smashing interview with John Nichols about The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party: The Enduring Legacy of Henry Wallace's Anti-Fascist, Anti-Racist Politics, the fascinating history from FDR to the present of a fight that never ends. Along the way, he mentions this 2016 article by the late Ron Dellums about how to fight Trump and what he says is the best Democratic Convention speech ever, by an exciting black politician named Jesse Jackson. (I remember that speech, getting little chills when he said, "but your patch is not big enough.")
Similarly good Nichols interview from Michael Brooks on The Majority Report with more details.

"UnitedHealth Lobbyist Announces Pelosi Fundraiser As She Begins Backing Off Pub Option: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time yesterday suggested she may be backing off her support of the public option. According to CNN, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid 'said they would support any provision that increases competition and accessibility for health insurance - whether or not it is the public option favored by most Democrats.' When 'asked if inclusion of a public option was a non-negotiable demand — as her previous statements had indicated Pelosi ruled out any non-negotiable positions,' according to CNN. This was also corroborated by the Associated Press, and by Pelosi's own words, as quoted in those stories. This announcement came just hours before Steve Elmendorf, a registered UnitedHealth lobbyist and the head of UnitedHealth's lobbying firm Elmendorf Strategies, blasted this email invitation throughout Washington, D.C. I just happened to get my hands on a copy of the invitation from a source - check out this OpenLeft exclusive: ..."

The Brownshirts are here. "Michigan Cancels Legislative Session to Avoid Armed Protesters: Michigan closed down its capitol in Lansing on Thursday and canceled its legislative session rather than face the possibility of an armed protest and death threats against Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The gathering, meant to advocate opening the state for business despite the coronavirus pandemic, followed one April 30 that resulted in pictures of protesters clad in military-style gear and carrying long guns crowding the statehouse. They confronted police and taunted lawmakers."

"Why Armed Right Wingers Were Able To Shut Down Michigan's Legislature [...] Let us understand the context: protesters from the left-wing in legislatures are routinely arrested. The charge is generally something like 'disturbing the peace.' Police can always find a way and excuse to clear protesters if they want to. The police have SWAT teams, they can call in the national guard if necessary. They could wait for the next time the armed protesters come and arrest them. There's a chance of violence, of course, but there are ways to do this that protect legislators. This is clearly intimidation of elected officials. It would not be tolerated from the left, but it has not only been tolerated from the right, it has been allowed to succeed. [...] So there are two likely reasons the Michigan legislature gave into violence. One: they think that right wing violence is legitimate. Two, they don't trust the police or national guard to stop right wingers they sympathize with and support."

"Democracy Wins in New York—and Bernie's Back on the Ballot!: Andrew Cuomo and state Democrats should acknowledge their mistake and stop trying to show Trump and the GOP how to call off an election. Last week, the Democratic commissioners of the New York Board of Elections did something unprecedented in election law: They threw legally qualified candidates off the ballot without their assent. Yesterday, a district judge held that what the board had done was unconstitutional and ordered it to reinstate the presidential primary for June 23. Judge Analisa Torres's decision was a lucid, thorough 30-page destruction of the board's argument. It was an especially important decision given that Donald Trump, whose disrespect for the law and desire for power are well established, might use any precedent to justify canceling or closing down elections later this year." I'm sure this was Cuomo trying to depress progressive turnout and allow him to reinstate his awful faux Democrats to put the Republicans back in power. Good on the New York Yang Gang and Sanders delegates for suing.

A longer than usual post from Atrios says, "We'll Know Better Next Time: I don't have the entirety of The Discourse jacked into my head, but I see very little acknowledgement from the people in power, or even people with big microphones, that this is an unfolding disaster that can't be remedied with the equivalent of a few band aids. Things are fucked - short term, long term, structurally - and they can't easily be unfucked. Fixing the Great Recession was easy and "they" failed at that. Fixing this one is hard and even with unimaginable unemployment numbers coming in there doesn't seem to be much urgency. It's been 8 weeks since Mitch McConnell took his 3 day weekend and Democrats pretended to be mad about that. Pelosi won't let the House do anything except vote for bills she hands them 5 minutes before, and we have evidence from minute one that Pelosi and her people are bad and incompetent about what needs to be done. Just a reminder: [See post for embedded Tweet from Drew Hammill.] That's Pelosi's Deputy Chief of Staff. Anyone knew that one way or another trillions were about to go out the door to save THE MARKET (through the Fed, Treasury, etc.) and they were worried about whether Don Jr's $1200 check might be too generous for him."

"Heroes Act Delivers A Win To The Health Insurance Industry: THE HEROES ACT, the new coronavirus relief bill introduced by House Democrats on Tuesday, includes protections for employer-sponsored insurance plans, which the health care industry has been lobbying Congress on for weeks. The proposed legislation includes subsidies for continued coverage for furloughed workers and people using COBRA, a continuing health coverage plan for those who have lost work, even if they don't pay their premiums. The bill also creates avenues for premium assistance for certain categories of people who want to pay those premiums anyway and would open a special insurance enrollment period a week from the date it's enacted into law. It also provides nine months of premium payments to health insurance plan administrators who don't receive them during the ongoing pandemic. The push to protect insurance premiums comes as some health care companies, like UnitedHealth, Humana, and Cigna, have reported profits during the pandemic amid record-high unemployment levels and have boasted that they don't expect to take a financial hit. "

"Dems Nix Anti-Recession Policy After Learning It Would Help Too Many People: The bill has many laudable provisions. But it also suffers from baffling omissions. Chief among them, the absence of any proposal for what we in the wonk business call 'automatic stabilizers.' An automatic stabilizer is (more or less) any fiscal policy that mitigates the severity of an economic downturn without Congress having to take any new action. Medicaid and food stamps are two prime examples: When the economy weakens, the number of people who qualify for public health insurance and food assistance goes up, and spending on those programs automatically increases in response. This helps to (modestly) stabilize household incomes and demand for groceries and medical services. Unemployment benefits serve a similar function."

"A Guide to the Nightmare of Getting Health Insurance in a Pandemic: It's really simple, unless you live in the United States of America. Losing your health insurance when you lose your job is confusing in the best of times and even more so during the coronavirus crisis. In addition to needing to deal with all the inherent complexities of our system, there are now numerous additional economic, political, and health factors that make it very difficult to know what is financially the best choice."

"Democrats Are Now Retreating On A Public Option Amid The Pandemic: An emblematic example of how even in a blue state, health care industry propaganda and lobbying can kill a modest reform at the worst possible time. In theory, a public health emergency like coronavirus should prompt lawmakers to do whatever they can to lower the cost of medical care for millions of people who lose their job-based health insurance. In theory, something like a public insurance option should be eminently achievable particularly in states that are completely controlled by Democrats. But then there is the real world of a democracy that is dominated by corporate interests. In an emblematic turn of events in one blue state, the pandemic is now being cited as the rationale to kill rather than pass a state public health insurance option, after the health care industry spent millions of dollars successfully intimidating the Democratic Party into retreating."

"'The American friends': New court files expose Sheldon Adelson's security team in US spy operation against Julian Assange: An exclusive investigation by The Grayzone reveals new details on the critical role Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands played in an apparent CIA spying operation targeting Julian Assange, and exposes the Sands security staff who helped coordinate the malicious campaign. As the co-founder of a small security consulting firm called UC Global, David Morales spent years slogging through the minor leagues of the private mercenary world. A former Spanish special forces officer, Morales yearned to be the next Erik Prince, the Blackwater founder who leveraged his army-for-hire into high-level political connections across the globe. But by 2016, he had secured just one significant contract, to guard the children of Ecuador's then-President Rafael Correa and his country's embassy in the UK. The London embassy contract proved especially valuable to Morales, however. Inside the diplomatic compound, his men guarded Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, a top target of the US government who had been living in the building since Correa granted him asylum in 2012. It was not long before Morales realized he had a big league opportunity on his hands."

"Time for Progressives to Seize the Means of Production of House Relief Bills: Pelosi's bill proves Democratic leadership won't do what needs to be done. There is no upside to moderation in the face of a disaster. Asking for only half as many fire trucks as necessary to rush to the scene of a fire does not make you a wise leader; it makes you someone who let the house burn down. No matter how many times we are forced to learn this the hard way, the lesson has not sunk in for the leaders of the Democratic Party. [...] As soon as Pelosi's bill was announced, Republicans called it 'dead on arrival.' The Democrats knew this would happen. Their bill is meant to send a message about what needs to be done. Or that is what it should have been. Instead, they have already started negotiating against themselves, before the real negotiations have even begun. This losing dynamic will continue until the progressive faction of the party forces its leaders to be just as ruthless as the Republicans are—not in the interests of donors, but in the interests of the 300 million other Americans. Unfortunately, we are a long, long way from there now. And those 300 million other Americans will continue to suffer in the meantime."

"Andrew Cuomo Uses Budget To Cut Medicaid, Settle Political Scores: The New York governor's response to the COVID-19 pandemic has made him a star, but progressives say the new state budget shows his true colors. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has struck a deal with state lawmakers to enact a budget that cuts billions of dollars a year from the state's Medicaid system and other social programs, and punishes his political enemies in the progressive Working Families Party."

"Federal Judge Calls For McConnell To Be Investigated For Improperly Pressuring Judge To Retire: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could soon find himself under investigation for improperly pressuring a judge to retire so he could fill the opening with a 37-year-old protégé."

"It's Not a 'Chinese Virus.' The Correct Name Is 'The Capitalism Virus': The novel coronavirus is new, but greed is an ancient disease.

As far as I can tell, the main difference between Trump and Biden is that Trump lies more often, and the reason he lies more often is that he addresses the public more often. He seems to be pretty compulsive about it anyway, his Twitter account is famous and prolific, and I don't even know if Biden has ever had a Twitter account for personal use, or written a single Tweet himself. Biden is not an internet kinda guy, but he has to make campaign speeches and he also used to make speeches on the Senate floor when he was trying to promote one of his odious policies. But he doesn't call in to radio or TV shows, he never had a gig as a TV game show host, he's never bothered to play the celebrity unless you count having to make the occasional campaign appearance. So, though he will lie constantly to promote his agenda, his agenda isn't merely to get elected, but to pass lots of horrible policies — or prevent good ones. Since he's not president, of course, he also isn't getting up and doing daily chats with the press that are covered by every network. Basically, Trump lies more often because he talks more often. "If Trump is a Pathological Liar, What Type of Liar is Biden? When I began researching this piece, I knew that Joe Biden told lies, but my expectation was that I would be able to make a clear distinction between Biden and Trump with respect to the type of liar each is. With the exceptions of the staggering amount of Trump falsehoods, and the fact that Biden has admitted to some of his lies, I can't find much difference between them. Sorry, Blue Team. Biden's well-publicized record of lying should be well-known to those who pull the strings of the Democratic National Committee (DNC)—those who have been orchestrating Biden's nomination. This compels several questions: Is the DNC so stupid so as to not realize what a gift a Biden candidacy is to Trump, who can easily use the facts of Biden's lying to suppress the Blue Team vote? Is it not obvious that many Blue Team voters will stay home rather than vote to replace one liar with another? Or is the DNC and its masters so evil that they really don't mind having Trump win again? So evil that opting for an alternative to Biden who could beat Trump but who is slightly less oligarchy-friendly than Biden was out of the question for them?"

Dday, "Dr. Jekyll, or Mr. Biden? The presidential hopeful has a choice to make: restoring the corporate centrism of the past, or attacking the stunning inequities highlighted by the coronavirus crisis. [...] The longest episode of the first six features presidential historian Jon Meacham, who gave what amounted to a lecture on FDR's leadership. 'American history from 1933 to 2016,' Meacham tells Biden, can be seen as 'a figurative conversation between FDR and Reagan. You were on a field that was marked off by Reagan on one end and FDR on the other.' How a Biden presidency will proceed, and succeed, depends upon his placement on that field. Does he stay on the 50-yard line, splitting the difference between anti-government conservatism and progressive populism, and cutting bipartisan deals? Or does he surge toward the end zone with 'Roosevelt' written on it, transforming the nation through 'bold, persistent experimentation' that fills in all the cracks the coronavirus exposed? A good reporter is supposed to supply a definitive answer. But I've talked to a dozen people inside the campaign and out, those with the ear of the president and those being wooed by his team, and it's too soon to know how this will break. Not even Biden knows yet. Judging by his personal record, you could envision his presidency as another round of triangulating disappointment. Hopes over the campaign's widespread outreach to progressive leaders and adoption of liberal policy planks are tempered by the presence of Larry Summers at economic-policy meetings." Sam Seder talked to David about this article on The Majority Report.

"Democrats Have Abandoned Civil Liberties: The Blue Party's Trump-era Embrace of Authoritarianism Isn't Just Wrong, it's a Fatal Political Mistake [...] The acts at issue are calls Flynn made to Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak on December 29th, 2016 in which he told the Russians not to overreact to sanctions. That's it. The investigation was about to be dropped, but someone got the idea of using electronic surveillance of the calls to leverage a case into existence. In a secrets-laundering maneuver straight out of the Dick Cheney playbook, some bright person first illegally leaked classified details to David Ignatius at the Washington Post, then agents rushed to interview Flynn about the 'news.' [...] Remember George Papadopoulos, whose alleged conversation about 'dirt' on Hillary Clinton with an Australian diplomat created the pretext for the FBI's entire Trump-Russia investigation? We just found out in newly-released testimony by McCabe that the FBI felt as early as the summer of 2016 that the evidence 'didn't particularly indicate' that Papadopoulos was 'interacting with the Russians.' If you're in the media and keeping score, that's about six months before our industry lost its mind and scrambled to make Watergate comparisons over Jim Comey's March, 2017 'bombshell' revelation of the existence of an FBI Trump-Russia investigation. Nobody bothered to wonder if they actually had any evidence. Similarly Chelsea Manning insisted she'd already answered all pertinent questions about Julian Assange, but prosecutors didn't find that answer satisfactory, and threw her in jail for year anyway, only releasing her when she tried to kill herself. She owed $256,000 in fines upon release, not that her many supporters from the Bush days seemed to care much. [...] I can understand not caring about the plight of Michael Flynn, but cases like this have turned erstwhile liberals — people who just a decade ago were marching in the streets over the civil liberties implications of Cheney's War on Terror apparatus — into defenders of the spy state. Politicians and pundits across the last four years have rolled their eyes at attorney-client privilege, the presumption of innocence, the right to face one's accuser, the right to counsel and a host of other issues, regularly denouncing civil rights worries as red-herring excuses for Trumpism."

"The tyranny of the Congressional Budget Office" - People think of the CBO as "non-partisan", but that doesn't mean it isn't ideological, and it certainly doesn't mean they don't actually change their language and way of calculating numbers depending on whether they want to make it look "too big". "To begin, the CBO "scores" legislation by estimating its budget cost over a 10-year window. Right out of the gate this is a misleading way to do things. When thinking about the price of something, logically what one should consider is the qualities of the item relative to one's ability to pay. That requires additional thought in the case of the government, because it has the best credit in the world, and borrows in a currency it can print. For some proposed federal program, therefore, the wise place to start is not the headline figure of required spending, but the size of spending relative to the whole economy. [...] None of this is accidental. The CBO was originally set up in the 1970s by the late Alice Rivlin, a neoliberal deficit scaremonger who got her start as a sort of colonial viceroy over the District of Columbia, imposing austerity by fiat and coring out the city's political sovereignty. She positioned the CBO as a nonpartisan agency that would fairly adjudicate bills from both parties, and while it has produced damaging estimates about Republican bills, its bias is overwhelmingly against big social reforms. She inserted the agency in the center of budget politics as part of an ideological crusade against the national debt and social welfare programs, as David Dayen writes at The American Prospect. She's a person who worked with Paul Ryan on an appalling scheme to privatize Medicare. [...] It's hard to say whether or not Pelosi and company would behave any differently without the CBO — they could just be hiding their austerian preferences behind the agency. But this kind of thinking is going to do stupendous damage to a Democratic presidency if the party wins in November. If stabilizers aren't passed in the next few months, President Biden is going to burn up most of his political capital trying to get additional rounds of aid past Republican congressional obstruction. Democrats really need to stop worrying and learn to love big, beautiful programs."

"New Banksy artwork appears at Southampton hospital" — and he's not the only artist to honor the NHS, as the video below the article shows.

RIP: "Jerry Stiller, star of Seinfeld and father of Ben, dies aged 92," none of which are what I know him for since to me Stiller & Meara were famous long before I ever heard of Ben (or Amy) Stiller or Seinfield. The NYT obit is better.

RIP: "Former NSS president Barbara Smoker dies at 96: The National Secular Society is deeply saddened to report the death of one of its longest-serving presidents, Barbara Smoker, at the age of 96 after a long illness. Barbara was president of the NSS from 1972 to 1996 and a consistently forthright campaigner on issues such as faith schools and religious restrictions on freedom of expression." I think I met her once or twice when her other organization, the Humanist Society, gave Feminists Against Censorship a refuge at Conway Hall for our meetings when pro-censorship groups were trying to ensure that we were denied space.
"Humanists UK mourns Barbara Smoker (1923-2020), prolific activist for humanism, secularism, abortion rights, peace, and the right to die."

RIP: "Phil May, frontman with the Pretty Things, dies aged 75: Singer revered by David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix had complications in hospital following hip surgery. [...] He died in hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk, from complications following hip surgery after a cycling accident, that are not related to coronavirus. [...] They were revered by artists as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, the Ramones and Kasabian, and while there were spells of inactivity, the band never split up, enjoying a 55-year career. They played their final concert in 2018, with guest appearances by David Gilmour and Van Morrison."

RIP: "Dave Greenfield: The Stranglers keyboard player dies at 71: The Stranglers keyboard player Dave Greenfield has died at the age of 71 after testing positive for Covid-19. Greenfield died on Sunday having contracted the virus after a prolonged stay in hospital for heart problems. He penned the band's biggest hit, Golden Brown, a song about heroin, which went to number two on the UK singles chart in 1982. The Stranglers bass player Jean-Jacques 'JJ' Burnel paid tribute to Greenfield as a 'musical genius'."

RIP: "Betty Wright, US soul, funk and R&B singer, dies aged 66: Singer with remarkable vocal range had been sampled by generations of hip-hop and R&B artists, including Beyoncé and Mary J Blige" She was 17 when she charted with "Clean Up Woman" in 1971.

RIP: "Little Richard, Founding Father of Rock Who Broke Musical Barriers, Dead at 87: Little Richard, a founding father of rock & roll whose fervent shrieks, flamboyant garb, and joyful, gender-bending persona embodied the spirit and sound of that new art form, died Saturday. He was 87. The musician's son, Danny Jones Penniman, confirmed the pioneer's death to Rolling Stone. The cause of death was bone cancer, the musician's lawyer Bill Sobel told Rolling Stone." There's nothing I can say that you don't already know, so have some essential songs.

I've still been trying to crystallize my thoughts about China, though I admit it's been on the back-burner, even though it's an important element in what's been going on (by which I mean for the last 40 years, not Trump or pandemia). This is a fascinating discussion on the subject between Glenn Greenwald and a China scholar whose name I already can't remember, and with Matt Stoller. Recommended. "System Update with Glenn Greenwald - Is China a Competitor, an Adversary or an Enemy?"

This review of Morris Berman's work is, well, it's hard to argue with Berman's conclusion. "It's All Over but the Shouting [...] Having studied the downfall of other empires, Berman saw the window for American reform closing. He warned that if America did not drastically transform its public policies, ideology, and working conception of citizenship, its troubles would only intensify and calcify, bringing a once-promising civilization past the point of no return. In the two books that followed—Dark Ages America and Why America Failed—Berman meticulously demonstrated that America's myopic focus on profit, at the expense of everything else, its zest for war — at home and abroad — and its lack of self-awareness and insight had escalated, making recovery virtually impossible."

Another review, of Zachery Carter's The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes, "Still in thrall to John Maynard Keynes [...] It is our good fortune, then, that at this most Keynesian of moments, Zachary Carter has produced a spectacular new biography that paints a rich and textured portrait of the great economist and locates his ideas within the broad sweep of economic and intellectual history. [...] Carter's perspective is that of a 21st-century American who sees a parallel between Britain's decline and fall as an economic superpower, starting in 1914, and a similar fall from economic grace that he fears has begun in his own country. In Carter's telling, everything Keynes did as an economist, journalist and public official was motivated by his determination to preserve Britain's place in the global hierarchy. The tragic irony of his remarkable career was that his ideas were rejected before they were belatedly embraced. At the Paris Peace Conference that convened at the end of World War I, Keynes failed to persuade his own delegation, and those of the other Allied powers, not to saddle Germany with reparations so large that they would crush the German economy. Not only would the money never be paid, Keynes warned prophetically, but the punishment would invite social unrest and a nationalist resurgence that could lead to another war. Dejected, he returned to London early and penned 'The Economic Consequences of the Peace' — a 'furious tirade against autocracy, war and weak politicians,' as Carter describes it — which became an instant bestseller and established Keynes as Britain's best-known and most influential economist. In the period between the wars, Keynes could not persuade Britain and other countries to abandon a gold standard that forced too many nations to raise interest rates to protect their currencies, thereby driving their economies into recession. In 'The End of Laissez-Faire,' he laid out the argument that markets were neither self-correcting nor self-sufficient enough to deliver the right balance of economic efficiency, social justice and individual liberty to save capitalism from its own shortcomings and excesses. [...] Frustrated by his attempts to shape policy, Keynes retreated to Cambridge to write his magnum opus, 'The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,' which laid out a new economic belief system, one that acknowledged the irrationality of economic actors, the imperfection of competition, the inherent instability of finance and the possibility that vigorous pursuit of individual self-interest can result in collective economic failure." The review is laudatory right up to the last two paragraphs which fall apart into completely ahistorical nonsense in defense of neoliberalism.

"The real Lord of the Flies: what happened when six boys were shipwrecked for 15 months: When a group of schoolboys were marooned on an island in 1965, it turned out very differently from William Golding's bestseller, writes Rutger Bregman. [...] 'One day, in 1977, six boys set out from Tonga on a fishing trip ... Caught in a huge storm, the boys were shipwrecked on a deserted island. What do they do, this little tribe? They made a pact never to quarrel.'" The year turns out to be a typo, but the story is really marvelous, and tells a much brighter story than Golding could have imagined.

I really enjoy Matt Taibbi & Katie Halper's Useful Idiots show, and this one has an interesting interview of Aaron Maté about how Russiagate has totally deflated.

"Is Harley Davidson Dying?"

Zoomable map of Medieval trade routes

If Escher had computers

I can't bring myself to make this the Bra of the Week, but in sweaty weather it's a temptation.

Mr. Monk in Quarantine

Chris Whitley, "Living With the Law"

00:35 GMT comment


Sunday, 03 May 2020

We won't be at brunch

This painting by Lily Van Bienen is from the Artists Support Pledge pages

A political party is a weapon. If it's pointed at you, you want to wrest it out of the wielder's hand and get control of it. You have no power to overcome the GOP, but you might be able to get the Democratic Party to aim at them instead of at us. Remember that no matter what happens in November (and right now the polls are a lot better for Biden than they were for Hillary Clinton), there will never be a moment when everyone can just relax, when things will suddenly be good. You gotta know that it's always time to organize, it's always time to fight.

"Biden Sides With Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo in Backing Coup Effort in Venezuela: Democratic frontrunner characterizes effort to overthrow elected government of President Nicolas Maduro at gunpoint just another benign effort to "restore democracy" in Latin America. [...] But what Biden embraced as an effort to "restore democracy," many foreign policy experts—ones not willing to give the benefit of the doubt to people like national security advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and President Donald Trump—called something else entirely: a violent effort by Venezuela's rightwing elites, led by Juan Guaidó, to overthrow the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro."

"Democrats' Big Coronavirus Idea Is to Subsidize Health Insurers: Instead of pushing for public health solutions, Democrats want to cover COBRA premiums. [...] But subsidizing overpriced premiums just sends money directly to private insurers and providers, without eliminating deductibles or copays. It also does nothing to help the millions of people who never had employer-sponsored health insurance in the first place."

"Dems Give Unanimous Consent To Trump: Traumatized a generation ago, party leaders' default setting during a crisis is fear-driven acquiescence. Why do Democrats want to win Congress if they don't want to use power? What is the entire point of Democrats raising money and ginning up activist energy to win control of the U.S. House, if when a crisis hits they just pass whatever Mitch McConnell sends them? Is there anything they'll actually negotiate for? And why won't they flip the script and force McConnell to vote yes or no on their own agenda? [...] McConnell is using the same tactic he's always used -- he rams legislation through the Senate, and then shuts the Senate down, daring the House to reject it. At the same time, Trump airs an ad equating Nancy Pelosi to Marie Antoinette, effectively pressuring her to back down -- which she already has. And so it goes. Pelosi depicts this all not as Democratic weakness or ineptitude, but as some genius game of 5-dimensional chess. She insisted that when it comes to desperately needed aid to states, 'We could relent on some of that because we know this next bill is going to happen very soon.' But McConnell is already laughing at her: the Senate Republican leader who just gave a $500 billion check to Steve Mnuchin to dole out to GOP campaign donors is now suddenly citing the national debt as reason there may be no next bill at all. It doesn't have to be this way."

"Medical Staffing Companies Owned by Rich Investors Cut Doctor Pay and Now Want Bailout Money: Companies that employ emergency room medical personnel, many owned by private equity firms, say they are reeling from vanishing demand for non-coronavirus care. But critics worry that bailout money would be a windfall for rich investors."

This is Yglesias: "Joe Biden's health care plan, explained: It's not Medicare-for-all, but if it happened it would be a big, um, deal. Joe Biden has a health care plan that, while not going nearly as far as 'Medicare for all' in initiating a single big-bang transformation of the American health care system, would nonetheless, if implemented, arguably be the most dramatic piece of new social legislation since the Great Society. [...] But the form of public option described in a fact sheet about the plan that the Biden campaign released to reporters is considerably more ambitious than the public option that was considered — and ultimately rejected — by congressional Democrats during the ACA debate. Not coincidentally, while health care provider groups generally liked Obamacare (more people with health insurance meant more customers), the main industry group that was founded to oppose Medicare-for-all also blasted Biden's proposal Monday morning, saying it would 'ultimately lead our nation down the path of a one-size-fits-all health care system run by Washington.'" Whenever you hear someone use the "one size fits all" line, stop them immediately and ask them what they mean, since we're talking about something where one size really should fit all. This isn't bathing shorts we're talking about; if it's a plan to make sure you don't have to worry about how much money you need to see a doctor and get treated, that fits everyone. Of course, that's not what Biden is proposing, but it's a lot better than Obamacare. "The main difference between Biden's plan and Medicare-for-all is a BidenCare transition that would be more gradual and much less costly in terms of explicit tax increases. That likely makes it more politically palatable (though still almost certainly unrealistic in terms of congressional politics) but also much less likely to deliver some of the simplification and cost containment benefits of Medicare-for-all. All told, however, both Biden and his more progressive rivals are somewhat downplaying exactly how much more left wing than the ACA this idea is — while the industry groups, facing a different set of incentives, are having a more telling reaction." (Bear in mind that the insurance industry will still hate it and still campaign vigorously against it. I have absolutely no reason to believe that a Biden administration would do any of it. It's much more likely that Biden's "olive branch" of lowering the Medicare age to 60 would happen, since the insurance industry would love to take those high-risk over-60s off their rolls.)

And the real Biden is the one who's actually running, and hanging out with none other than the man who caused the financial crisis. "Do You See What Happens, Larry? Biden signs up Larry Summers, after Summers destroyed the world and now wages a campaign against a wealth tax and against worker power. Joe Biden infamously promised his big donors that if elected, 'nothing would fundamentally change' for them. The news that Biden is being advised by Larry Summers suggests the presumptive Democratic nominee is dead serious about fulfilling that campaign promise — which is very bad news. Summers was the architect of major corporate trade policies that ended up offshoring America's manufacturing capacity -- a development that left the United States in the unenviable position of begging China's authoritarian regime to help produce the basic goods we need during the coronavirus emergency. Summers also sculpted Wall Street deregulation and was billed as one of three members of a 'committee to save the world' -- a committee that ended up destroying the world when its bank-coddling policies culminated in the financial crisis. That didn't stop Summers -- he took a lucrative trip through the revolving door into a reportedly part-time job at a hedge fund that netted him $5 million. After that, he went back into government and fought against proposals to protect homeowners and crack down on the financial industry that had destroyed the global economy. He was also terrible on climate change."

The allegations of Joe Biden's sexual assault on a former staffer have finally, just after Sanders suspended his campaign and Biden became the nominee-presumptive, becomes fodder for the news media and a source of further contention on the Democratic side. The hypocrisy alone is sickening, but many people are so committed to the belief that anything is better than Trump that they are happy to play along. Biden's accuser, much like any other victim of sexual assault, is imperfect and leaves just enough room for doubts and smears, but hearing this reprise of all the GOP lines used against Christine Blasey Ford coming from Democrats is too much for some. But, lest anyone get the impression that the charge of being a sexual harasser is sudden and new, it might be worth recalling the shadow Biden cast back in 2008, from right-wing corporate hatchet-man to trespasser on women's personal space: "Biden is a notorious flapjaw. His vanity deludes him into believing that every word that drops from his mouth is minted in the golden currency of Pericles. Vanity is the most conspicuous characteristic of US Senators en bloc, nourished by deferential acolytes and often expressed in loutish sexual advances to staffers, interns and the like. On more than one occasion CounterPunch's editors have listened to vivid accounts by the recipient of just such advances, this staffer of another senator being accosted by Biden in the well of the senate in the weeks immediately following his first wife's fatal car accident."

"Black Caucus seeks to squash liberal insurgents: The Congressional Black Caucus is defending 4th-term Rep. Joyce Beatty against a progressive challenger, Morgan Harper, in Tuesday's Ohio primary. Senior black Democrats are mounting an aggressive defense of Rep. Joyce Beatty in Tuesday's delayed Ohio primary, hoping to quash not only her left-wing primary challenger but the liberal insurgents gunning for a number of their colleagues. Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus have framed the fight as greater than just defeating Beatty's opponent, Morgan Harper, a well-funded attorney backed by the progressive group Justice Democrats. They are eager to show they can smack down any primary challengers nationwide who conspire against senior members of color who have spent decades fighting to the top.

Taibbi, "Why Did Democrats Nominate Donna Shalala to the Bailout Oversight Panel?: With the Congressional Oversight Committee, Democrats had a rare opportunity to reverse public perception about the party's closeness to Wall Street. Instead, they punted again [...] Late the next day, Pelosi announced her choice: Donna Shalala, Florida congresswoman and former Health and Human Services Secretary under Bill Clinton. Phones buzzed. WTF? I heard a variety of confused exclamations over Shalala's appointment this weekend, ranging from 'baffling' to 'curious' to 'fucking absurd.' The popular choice among lobbyists and staffers was financial services and oversight committee member Katie Porter (D-CA), who had actually sought the job. If it was not to be Porter, it was assumed the choice would be someone with expertise in banking, derivatives, or financial investigation. 'You have to really know your shit to have a chance at doing anything here,' is how it was put to me." But Shalala doesn't. In fact, Shalala has some serious conflicts of interest in her resumé."With the massive Trump tax breaks of two years ago and now a CARES Act rescue package that appears designed to repeat the 2008 pattern of saving the economy by hurling money indiscriminately at Wall Street, Democrats had an opening to turn the tables. The COC could have been a prime perch to lament the use of public treasure to rescue the financial markets at the expense of main street. Thus putting a big-name Clinton apparatchik with millions invested in the very financial markets that stand to rise from bailout programs seems like a major unforced error, to put it mildly. Even if Democrats just wanted to ineffectually complain about the unequal distribution of bailout funds, they'll have a harder time doing even that now, with a millionaire BlackRock customer leading the minority review team. It's a weird, bad look. Again."

"After Revelations of Improper Stock Sales by Rep. Shalala, Groups Demand Pelosi's Pick for Bailout Oversight Step Down: "Not understanding disclosure is a pretty bad look for the member of Congress chosen to force disclosure out of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve on its lending programs." Progressive groups on Wednesday demanded House Democratic leadership pressure Rep. Donna Shalala to step down from a committee on oversight of the appropriation of billions of dollars in coronavirus stimulus funds after it was revealed Saturday by journalist David Dayen that the Florida Democrat failed to follow the law on disclosing stock transactions in 2019."

David Dayen has been doing regular updates on the multiple scandals surrounding (or embedded in?) the Covid crisis, like this one: "Unsanitized: Why Relief for Mortgage and Student Loan Borrowers Must Be Automatic: Also, Donna Shalala admits to breaking the law, and the Democrats' sad strategy. This is The COVID-19 Daily Report for April 22, 2020. [...] . If Joe Biden knows your program is bad, it's bad. But he's blaming the Trump administration, not Congress, where the blame belongs."

"Billionaire-Backed Human Rights Watch Lobbies for Lethal US Sanctions on Leftist Govts as Covid Rages: Human Rights Watch, the leading so-called rights organization in the United States, has actively lobbied for Washington to impose suffocating sanctions on leftist governments in Latin America. The group has even praised the Donald Trump administration for ramping up its aggressively destabilizing regime-change measures. NGOs like Human Rights Watch (HRW) depict targeted sanctions as a more palatable alternative to military action, although these measures are widely recognized by international legal experts to be a form of economic warfare that have led to the deaths of many thousands of civilians, destroyed the livelihoods of countless people, and devastated entire nations' economies. As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, HRW operatives took credit for new sanctions the Trump administration had imposed on Nicaragua's democratically elected leftist government. Among those cheering on the escalation of economic warfare was HRW Australia development and outreach manager Stephanie McLennan, who chirped that the fresh round of sanctions were 'great news!'"

"Yes, Section 215 Expired. Now What?: On March 15, 2020, Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act—a surveillance law with a rich history of government overreach and abuse—expired. Along with two other PATRIOT Act provisions, Section 215 lapsed after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a broader set of reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). In the week before the law expired, the House of Representatives passed the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act, without committee markup or floor amendments, which would have extended Section 215 for three more years, along with some modest reforms. In order for any bill to become law, the House and Senate must pass an identical bill, and the President must sign it. That didn't happen with the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act. Instead, knowing the vote to proceed with the House's bill in the Senate without debating amendments was going to fail, Senator McConnell brought a bill to the floor that would extend all the expiring provisions for another 77 days, without any reforms at all. Senator McConnell's extension passed the Senate without debate. But the House of Representatives left town without passing Senator McConnell's bill, at least until May 12, 2020, and possibly longer. That means that Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, along with the so-called lone wolf and the roving wiretap provisions have expired, at least for a few weeks."

"Labour antisemitism investigation will not be sent to equality commission: A report found factional hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn amongst former senior officials contributed to 'a litany of mistakes'." The internal investigation shows that anti-Corbyn forces within Labour deliberately sabotaged not just Corbyn, but the election.

CEPR, "The Washington Post's Debt Cult: The Washington Post is always telling us that debt, especially government debt is bad, very bad. It's not quite sure why or how, but debt is definitely bad. We got the latest confused entry from the Post's debt cult today, warning us about some 'tipping point' that we are at risk of passing. The notion of a tipping point on government debt had its shining hour when a paper by Harvard professors Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff purported to show that when a country's debt-to-GDP ratio crossed 90 percent, it led to sharply slower growth. While this paper was used to justify austerity in countries around the world, it turned out that the result was driven by an Excel spreadsheet error, as shown in a paper by University of Massachusetts economists Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash, and Robert Pollin. When the error was corrected, the data showed no 90 percent tipping point."

So, how bad is election fraud from the machines, really?

"How a Trump media dump mainstreamed Chinese lab coronavirus conspiracy theory: A conspiracy theory about Covid-19 escaping from the Wuhan Institute of Virology is the Trump administration's Iraqi WMD. And the Washington Post's Josh Rogin is playing the role of Judith Miller." Proving once again that there is not much distance between Fox News and "the liberal media".

More reasons to end the existence of billionaires: "Gates' Globalist Vaccine Agenda: A Win-Win for Pharma and Mandatory Vaccination: Vaccines, for Bill Gates, are a strategic philanthropy that feed his many vaccine-related businesses (including Microsoft's ambition to control a global vaccination ID enterprise) and give him dictatorial control of global health policy. Gates' obsession with vaccines seems to be fueled by a conviction to save the world with technology. Promising his share of $450 million of $1.2 billion to eradicate polio, Gates took control of India's National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), which mandated up to 50 doses (Table 1) of polio vaccines through overlapping immunization programs to children before the age of five. Indian doctors blame the Gates campaign for a devastating non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP) epidemic that paralyzed 490,000 children beyond expected rates between 2000 and 2017. In 2017, the Indian government dialed back Gates' vaccine regimen and asked Gates and his vaccine policies to leave India. NPAFP rates dropped precipitously. [...] In 2010, when Gates committed $10 billion to the WHO, he said 'We must make this the decade of vaccines.' A month later, Gates said in a TED Talk that new vaccines 'could reduce population.' And, four years later, in 2014, Kenya's Catholic Doctors Association accused the WHO of chemically sterilizing millions of unwilling Kenyan women with a 'tetanus' vaccine campaign. Independent labs found a sterility formula in every vaccine tested. After denying the charges, WHO finally admitted it had been developing the sterility vaccines for over a decade. Similar accusations came from Tanzania, Nicaragua, Mexico, and the Philippines. A 2017 study (Morgensen et.Al.2017) showed that WHO's popular DTP is killing more African than the disease it pretends to prevent. Vaccinated girls suffered 10x the death rate of unvaccinated children. Gates and the WHO refused to recall the lethal vaccine which WHO forces upon millions of African children annually. Global public health advocates around the world accuse Gates of — hijacking WHO's agenda away from the projects that are proven to curb infectious diseases; clean water, hygiene, nutrition and economic development."

Jeremy Scahill on "The Moral and Strategic Calculus of Voting for Joe Biden to Defeat Trump — or Not [...] The public still does not know the full story of how Mike Pence ended up on the ticket as Trump's running mate, but when it was announced, it was clear that the professional Republicans and the extremist evangelical lobby had their inside man. With Mitch McConnell running the Senate and Pence babysitting the president, Trump could focus on barking for the crowds in between golf outings and Twitter rants while the political hitmen in Washington dust off every extreme right-wing initiative they've cooked up for decades and which they work day and night to methodically ram through. Trump has had his signature moments, but much of his policy has been outsourced to craftier and more sophisticated policymakers. [...] Donald Trump's presidency is not an aberration of U.S. history in substance. His rise to power and the policies he has implemented are, in many ways, the logical product of the U.S. as a failed state, politically and functionally. Trump says the quiet parts about the system out loud, but his agenda is firmly rooted in the bloody history of this republic. And his rise was made possible by the failed two-party system and the corporate dominance of electoral politics in the U.S. Also, let's not pretend that congressional Democrats have not enabled Trump by regularly voting for his obscene military budgets and sweeping surveillance powers while simultaneously calling him the most dangerous president in history. What would happen if Trump wins the election in November? In practical terms, it would be a nightmare. Trump would emerge emboldened beyond imagination. What minuscule restraints that currently exist would be wiped out entirely. [...] There is an abundance of justification to oppose a Biden presidency. And principled people are right to ring loud alarms over Biden's record, policies, and some of his personal conduct. At the same time, it is not honest to imply there would be no difference between a Biden and Trump administration."

"Anti-Corbyn Labour officials worked to lose general election to oust leader, leaked dossier finds: Call for investigation into 'possible misuse of funds' by senior officials on party's right wing Labour party officials opposed to Jeremy Corbyn worked to lose the 2017 general election in the hope that a bad result would trigger a leadership contest to oust him, a dossier drawn up by the party suggests. A huge cache of leaked WhatsApp messages and emails show senior officials from the party's right wing, who worked at its HQ, became despondent as Labour climbed in the polls during the election campaign despite their efforts."

"Editorial: Red Light Rationality [...] What this boils down to: crimes that are punishable by fine are legal for the rich." My main problem with this is her scale. I think a $200 fine is a hell of a lot for a minimum wage worker, and $2,000 is not even noticeable to Jeff Bezos.

Anis Shivani at Naked Capitalism, "#DemExit Now: How the Democratic Party Cheated Bernie Sanders Out of the Nomination [...] The Democratic party would much rather see Trump reelected by nominating a flawed neoliberal candidate with as much baggage and who is as associated with the recent Clinton failure as is Biden. Think about it: the party we're supposed to get behind actually prefers fascism over the mildest concessions to social democracy, in order that the entire power structure might persist unchanged. For the sake of denying the slightest help to poor, debt-burdened, sick and unemployed people, this party would rather have untrammeled white nationalism, immigrants in concentration camps, and accelerated income inequality, as though we could sustain any more of it than we already have."

At Afflict the Comfortable, "Older and Wiser, and Vote-Shaming [...] And then, I just saw this, 'an open letter from the old left to the new left,' and it's deeply saddening. This missive, lecturing and condescending, came from alumni of the Students for a Democratic Society and other partisans of the 'New Left.' (See Staughton Lynd and C. Wright Mills on the New Left). Without going into exhaustive detail, SDS was one of the most important organizations of the tumultuous 1960s, dedicated to bringing a 'participatory democracy' to the U.S., not a contrived political system in which simply voting for elite-chosen candidates was one's only civic role. And the New Left was a large and amorphous description for scholars and radicals who took on the Capitalist state and, most importantly for us here, developed the idea of Corporate Liberalism."

Sirota's post-mortem, "The Tyranny of Decorum: A look back on the 2020 primary: If you've read the autopsies of the Bernie 2020 campaign in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Politico, Buzzfeed or CNN, you've probably read a version of a story that goes something like this: pollster Ben Tulchin, co-chair Nina Turner and I were fire-breathing monsters aggressively pushing Bernie to 'attack' Joe Biden, Bernie refused to do it, and that's why Bernie lost. There are some nuggets of truth in here, but there's also some fiction — and so it is worth separating the facts from the fantasy, in order to understand a huge-but-little-discussed problem plaguing the Democratic Party that I call the tyranny of decorum. "

"Moderate Democrats Suggest Working with Coronavirus to Find Common Ground [...] 'It's our priority to find a solution everyone is happy with,' revealed Sen. Chuck Schumer. 'Nancy [Pelosi] and I have been meeting with the Coronavirus to try to work out a plan that both saves lives and kills people. We can't afford to be partisan or idealistic, and we have to be willing to make concessions. If that means giving up everything we want, so be it.'"

I don't really have a pullquote from Atrios' "Robot Chicken Frightener," but I never tire of his critiques of the punditry, especially Tom Friedman.

Fun with maps: Why is the Mercator map so top-heavy? Contrast and compare! "Mercator Misconceptions: Clever Map Shows the True Size of Countries"

History, from Rick Pearlstein in 2013, "Right and Left in Democratic Politics: The Long View: The party has always harbored conservatives and sell-outs to big business and pro-austerity boosters. The point is not to deny them, but to beat them."

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Dolly Parton Was Secretly a Producer." Who knew?

RIP: I don't know how I missed this, but I guess being deluged with really horrible stuff all year may be a distraction. I just don't know how nothing I was reading told me, "'We Lost A Giant': Remembering Former Black Panther Party Member Bruce A. Dixon, Co-Founder Of The Black Agenda Report," According to The Florida Courier, "Black Agenda Report (BAR) managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, a lifelong and unapologetically Black community activist, died June 28 as a consequence of a multiple myeloma, a rare blood-borne cancer. He was 68." So very sorry to learn this.

I'd never heard of this comic but someone sent me the link and drew my attention to the third image down in the middle column and it made me laugh.

Rolling Stone video, "Roger Waters: RS Interview Special Edition: We spoke with Pink Floyd founder, stadium-filling solo artist, and activist Roger Waters about Donald Trump and COVID19, his postponed tour, John Prine, a failed Pink Floyd peace meeting, and aging artists on tour."

Great little APOD video of the night sky Around the World at Night, and also a neat photo of the new comet Swan.

"At-Home Gala: Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin: The Met Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, performs the Prelude to Act III of Wagner's Lohengrin in a video assembled from individual takes and shown during the April 25, 2020, At-Home Gala. Edited by Pete Scalzitti." (I think this means the playing was simultaneous, but each person had one recording of themselves and they had to be patched together into a single video.)

Quarantined stuntmen

Teaser for HBO's Perry Mason

Approach Saturn from Cassini.

Explore Pharaoh Ramesses Tomb.

Temptations, "Get Ready"

00:07 GMT comment


Friday, 10 April 2020

But they turned us out and they closed the doors

Bernie suspended his campaign. He went on TV and congratulated Biden. When the media showed the clip of him doing so, they portrayed it as a virtual attack on Biden. The Onion, of course, had the honest headline: "'I Congratulate Joe Biden, A Very Decent Man,' Says Bernie Sanders In Unprovoked Attack On Democratic Party Unity."

"Bernie Sanders Was Right: Goodbye to an honest man's campaign. Bernie Sanders has ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, which is a tragedy, because he was right about virtually everything. He was right from the very beginning, when he advocated a total overhaul of the American health care system in the 1970s. He remains right now, as a pandemic stresses the meager resources of millions of citizens to their breaking point, and possibly to their death. He was right when he seemed to be the only alarmist in a political climate of complacency. He is right now that he's the only politician unsurprised to see drug companies profiteering from a lethal plague with Congress's help. In politics, as in life, being right isn't necessarily rewarded. But at least there's some dignity in it."

"Nomiki Konst: Breaking: Where do we go now that Bernie is out?" — Organize, of course.

You can check delegate counts for the Democratic primaries on this page. Biden is roughly 300 ahead, and needs about 700 more, with 1,719 still available and half the electorate still waiting to vote. Sanders says his name will remain on the ballots in all the states that haven't voted and he still wants to collect delegates for leverage with the party.

"'Why the Unnecessary 6?': Medicare for All Advocates Warn Biden That Lowering Age to 60 Solves Nothing: 'These policies are what I would expect from Republicans. This is not a 'big overture' by any stretch of the imagination.' Progressives on Thursday were quick to call foul after it was reported that Joe Biden, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, put forth a pair of policy proposals—one lowering the Medicare age to 60 and the other a student debt relief program—purportedly designed to win over supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders who instead saw the plans as woefully insufficient." Lowering it to 60? As a trade-off for Medicare for All? And this is his charm offensive to Sanders supporters? Is this a joke?

Elie Mystal, "SCOTUS Just Set the Stage for Republicans to Steal the Election: In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin from extending the absentee voting deadline, disenfranchising thousands and creating a terrible precedent." To add insult to injury, the number of polling stations in Milwaukee had been reduced from 180 to five.

"By a 5-4 Vote, SCOTUS Lets Wisconsin Throw Out Tens of Thousands of Ballots: The conservative majority just approved one of the most brazen acts of voter suppression in modern times. [...] The court will nullify the votes of citizens who mailed in their ballots late—not because they forgot, but because they did not receive ballots until after Election Day due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in dissent, the court's order 'will result in massive disenfranchisement.' The conservative majority claimed that its decision would help protect 'the integrity of the election process.' In reality, it calls into question the legitimacy of the election itself."

"Cuomo Calls New State Budget 'Robust,' Progressives Call It 'Republican Austerity Warfare' [...] In fact, the $177 billion budget dilutes major criminal justice reforms passed last year and abandons legalizing marijuana, gives the executive branch extraordinary authority to slash funding for municipalities without raising any taxes on the wealthy, enacts substantial cuts to Medicaid, and creates a public campaign financing system that threatens the survival of third parties in New York—including the one that is most critical of Governor Cuomo. For years, advocates for government transparency have criticized the secretive way that New York's budget has been created: the governor creates a framework, and he and the two legislative leaders hash it out, often cramming in consequential legislation that has little to do with state finances without allowing for any real public debate. 'It's worthy of Vladimir Putin and the Saudi government,' one lawmaker told us last year."

"Cuomo Helped Get New York Into This Mess: The governor's position on health care spending looked starkly different a couple of months ago. As the novel coronavirus rages in New York, killing more than a thousand and locking down millions, Governor Andrew Cuomo has emerged as the hero of the moment. On television, he is everything Donald Trump is not: calm, coherent, and blunt, in a strangely reassuring way. He is becoming a #resistance hero. Some people are (literally) falling in love with him. But the same Cuomo who is racing to expand New York's hospital capacity and crying out for more federal resources is quietly trying to slash Medicaid funding in the state, enraging doctors and nurses, and elected officials of his own party. The same Cuomo who holds press briefings at a major New York City convention center, now the home of a temporary 1,000-bed hospital, presided over a decade of hospital closures and consolidations, prioritizing cost savings over keeping popular health care institutions open. It's the same Democratic governor—every liberal pundit's tried-and-true Trump antidote—who is doing damage to his state's health care system at the worst possible moment, in the eyes of the critics who follow him most closely."

Lyta Gold in Current Affairs, "Stop Trying To Make Andrew Cuomo Happen. You don't want him as president. You don't really want him as governor either." With a handy and detailed list of reasons why.

"The Truth About Governor Andrew Cuomo: Nomiki dusts off her old notes on Andrew Cuomo, who she reported on and organized against for years. Turns out, when the cameras are off, he does a lot of bad things for working people and protects a lot of corporate interests and wealthy people."

Famous economist Duncan Black says we need to pass this or we are doomed: "Priorities for the Next Coronavirus Relief Package" from Bernie Sanders.

"Republicans Are Using the Covid-19 Crisis to Kill Abortion Rights: GOP governors have begun banning abortion during the Covid-19 crisis, creating a precedent that might be too cruel for conservative judges to pass up. [...] Within the last few weeks, the governors of Texas, Ohio, Iowa, and Alabama—Republicans all—have taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to issue orders further restricting the rights of women. Their excuse? Abortions are 'elective' medical procedures and therefore have to be put on hold alongside all the other elective procedures that are being suspended during the crisis. As if a woman's right to her body is akin to getting a nose job."

"North Carolina Republican operative charged in election fraud scheme: (Reuters) - The North Carolina Republican political operative at the center of an absentee ballot fraud scheme that led the state to order a rerun of a congressional election was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice on Wednesday, officials said. The operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, was charged with three felony counts of obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiring to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of absentee ballots, according to court documents. Allegations that operatives working for Dowless illegally collected, and sometimes filled in, absentee ballots on behalf of Republican Mark Harris' campaign emerged shortly after the Nov. 6 election. They caused the state to hold off certifying Harris' apparent narrow victory over Democrat Dan McCready."

"The Far-Right Helped Create The World's Most Powerful Facial Recognition Technology: Clearview AI, which has alarmed privacy experts, hired several far-right employees, a HuffPost investigation found. [...] Even if you've never heard of Clearview, you likely have an online presence — maybe a friend or a relative has posted a photo of you to Facebook — which means you're probably in its database. Clearview's CEO and co-founder, Cam-Hoan Ton-That, and his associates chose to mass-violate social media policies against scraping accounts to build an image warehouse of unprecedented size, as several outlets have noted recently. What hasn't been reported, however, is even scarier: Exclusive documents obtained by HuffPost reveal that Ton-That, as well as several people who have done work for the company, have deep, longstanding ties to far-right extremists. Some members of this alt-right cabal went on to work for Ton-That."

The Financial Times practically endorsed Bernie without mentioning his name in "Virus lays bare the frailty of the social contract [...] Radical reforms — reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades — will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public services as investments rather than liabilities, and look for ways to make labour markets less insecure. Redistribution will again be on the agenda; the privileges of the elderly and wealthy in question. Policies until recently considered eccentric, such as basic income and wealth taxes, will have to be in the mix."

"It's Time for Democrats to Go Big—Really Big [...] The worst-kept secret in Washington is that there is plenty of money to help working people. All we need is the political will to deliver it to them. Whatever this bill costs, the price of failing to meet this moment will be larger in every respect, from human suffering to the long-term economic costs of cratering consumer demand in an economy reliant on it, than the up-front cost of relief." Yes, we need — and can afford — those FDR policies that Bernie has been talking about. But this article fails at the end by saying Democrats must level with the public about how we got here. The trouble is that they can't, because they have been part of the problem. Sure, Trump's particular response in this particular moment has been not merely atrocious but criminal, but the thing is, even if Hillary Clinton had won, we would still be unprepared for a disaster like this, and it was Democrats who truly led the way.

Jon Schwarz, "The Democratic Party Must Harness the Legitimate Rage of Americans. Otherwise, the Right Will Use It With Horrifying Results.: THE POLITICAL POSSIBILITIES of this moment are different than anything we have ever experienced. We possess a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the United States a more humane country. But if we fail to seize it, we will face mortal danger from the right. That's not hyperbole. The anger of Americans, once they figure out what's being done to them right now, is going to be volcanic. The fallout from 9/11 and the great recession of 2007-2010 will be imperceptible in comparison. Not long from now, almost everyone will have a family member or friend who died of Covid-19, many of them suffocating in isolation wards with insufficient treatment, perhaps deprived of a ventilator that would have saved their lives. Huge swaths of the country are plummeting into desperate penury, even as they witness large corporations unlock the U.S. Treasury and help themselves to everything inside. [...] What we know from history is that someone always shows up to harvest this level of ambient rage — but it can go in two directions. If people can be made 'angry at the crime,' as Steinbeck wrote, there can be huge positive political changes. During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt and unions organized the anger and used it to create the New Deal and the largest middle class in history. In unluckier countries, like Germany, Italy and Japan, the political left failed. The fury was organized by fascists, and directed at innocents."

Mindy Isser in Jacobin, "Workers Are More Valuable Than CEOs: The coronavirus pandemic has revealed a simple fact: it's low-wage workers that make our society run — not bankers, landlords, or CEOs. [...] But what does it say about our country when the jobs that are most critical to sustaining life at its basic level are also some of the lowest paid and least valued? Grocery store workers and first responders are exposing themselves to a massive health crisis in order to keep the rest of us functioning as normally as possible. Many of them work for minimum wage or close to it — and without health benefits — meaning that they could contract coronavirus and get stuck with either a massive bill or no health care at all. Meanwhile, with many school districts closed indefinitely, parents are missing the critical and challenging work done every day by nannies, childcare workers, and educators of all kinds. These workers have a right to higher wages, full benefits, health and safety guarantees, and strong unions — just like every other worker."

"What Everyone's Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage" — If everyone is home, they aren't using toilet paper at work, in restaurants, wherever. They are using it at home, and it's not even the same kind of toilet paper. The shelves are emptying because people actually need more consumer toilet paper rather than the crummy industrial stuff you find in giant rolls in restaurants or at work.

"Reality Has Endorsed Bernie Sanders [...] Thus far, the Trump Administration has predictably bungled the response to the coronavirus. But the Democratic Party's response has been hampered by its shared hostility to unleashing the power of the state, through the advance of vast universal programs, to attend to an unprecedented, devolving catastrophe. About half of American workers receive health insurance through their employer. As job losses mount, millions of workers will lose their insurance while the public-health crisis surges. In the last Democratic debate, former Vice-President Joe Biden insisted that the U.S. doesn't need single-payer health care because the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy proved that it doesn't work. Strangely, he simultaneously insisted that all testing and treatment of the virus should be free because we are in crisis. This insistence that health care should only be free in an emergency reveals a profound ignorance about the ways that preventive medicine can mitigate the harshest effects of an acute infection. By mid-February, a Chinese government study of that country's coronavirus-related deaths found that those with preëxisting conditions accounted for at least a third of all covid-19 fatalities."

"76 Percent Of Democrats Say They'd Vote For A Socialist For President, New Poll Shows: Just over three-quarters of Democratic voters said that they would vote to elect a socialist president, according to poll results from Gallup released Tuesday. The poll, conducted between January 16 and 29, asked respondents whether they identified as Republican, Democrat or independent and questioned them about their willingness to vote for candidates with "diverse characteristics." "Between now and the 2020 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates—their education, age, religion, race and so on," read the poll question, according to Gallup. "If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be [characteristic], would you vote for that person?" When it came to candidates who were socialists, Democrats were most likely to answer that they would vote for them. Seventy-six percent of Democrats said they would back a socialist candidate, compared with 17 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of independents."

"Adolph Reed Jr.: Here They Come Again-The Kind of Neoliberal Democrats Who Prefer Trump to Sanders: I wrote the essay in disgust after Bill Clinton concluded his and other New Democrats' deal with the devil by signing the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act—welfare reform—that ended the federal government's sixty-year commitment to direct income provision for the indigent. That emphatically punctuated Clinton's bulldozing of the left in Democratic politics and ushered in the bipartisan neoliberal regime under which we've lived ever since. Welfare 'deform,' as many characterized it at the time, was a culmination of the year that began with Clinton using his State of the Union address to declare that 'The era of big government is over.' As New Labour neoliberal Tony Blair was, by her own account, Margaret Thatcher's greatest achievement, Bill Clinton consolidated Reaganism as hegemonic in American politics, defined the neoliberal regime of upward redistribution and repression of the poor as the unchallengeable horizon of political aspiration. The essay comes to mind at this moment because so many liberal Democrats now in their dismissals and attacks regarding Bernie Sanders' campaign for the party's presidential nomination seem to be rehearsing the kind of smug, self-righteous, and backward arguments they made then about why it was necessary to sacrifice poor people—ultimately variants of a contention that commitment to egalitarian principles is naïve."

More reasons why anyone who advocates for anything like a "public-private partnership" should be shunned and driven out of town, "Taxpayers Paid Millions To Design A Low-Cost Ventilator For A Pandemic," but for some reason we just don't have them. "Five years ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tried to plug a crucial hole in its preparations for a global pandemic, signing a $13.8 million contract with a Pennsylvania manufacturer to create a low-cost, portable, easy-to-use ventilator that could be stockpiled for emergencies. This past September, with the design of the new Trilogy Evo Universal finally cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, HHS ordered 10,000 of the ventilators for the Strategic National Stockpile at a cost of $3,280 each. But as the pandemic continues to spread across the globe, there is still not a single Trilogy Evo Universal in the stockpile. Instead, last summer, soon after the FDA's approval, the Pennsylvania company that designed the device — a subsidiary of the Dutch appliance and technology giant Royal Philips N.V. — began selling two higher-priced commercial versions of the same ventilator around the world. [...] 'That's the problem of leaving any kind of disaster preparedness up to the market and market forces — it will never work,' said Dr. John Hick, an emergency medicine specialist in Minnesota who has advised HHS on pandemic preparedness since 2002. 'The market is not going to give priority to a relatively no-frills but dependable ventilator that's not expensive.'"

"If you imagine that a local business making surgical face masks is working 24/7, guess again: An owner at the North Texas plant is frustrated that his dire warnings went unheeded. [...] The story of Bowen's unhappiness is a cautionary tale about what can happen if Americans searching for cheaper prices send entire industries offshore to countries like Mexico and China. Everything Bowen has warned about has come true. He warned that allowing another country to serve as our main supplier of personal protection equipment has the potential to become a national security nightmare."

"Gavin Newsom Declares California a 'Nation-State': The state is at odds with the federal government over coronavirus plans and much else. California this week declared its independence from the federal government's feeble efforts to fight Covid-19 — and perhaps from a bit more. The consequences for the fight against the pandemic are almost certainly positive. The implications for the brewing civil war between Trumpism and America's budding 21st-century majority, embodied by California's multiracial liberal electorate, are less clear. Speaking on MSNBC, Governor Gavin Newsom said that he would use the bulk purchasing power of California 'as a nation-state' to acquire the hospital supplies that the federal government has failed to provide. If all goes according to plan, Newsom said, California might even 'export some of those supplies to states in need.'"

"Man In Center Of Political Spectrum Under Impression He Less Obnoxious: MT. VERNON, OH—Loudly explaining to anyone within earshot that both the left and right were ruining the level of discourse in this country, Jesse Levin, a man firmly in the center of the political spectrum, is under the impression that he is less obnoxious than those with more partisan viewpoints, sources reported Friday. 'We're never going to get anywhere in this country if you lunatics keep foaming at the mouth about some one-sided fantasyland,' said Levin, 32, who despite characterizing those who do not stand precisely equidistant between two ideological extremes as 'raving fanatics' and repeatedly interrupting people before they can fully explain their 'nutjob' beliefs, reportedly seems to think he is, in fact, much more civil. 'If you idiots stopped throwing temper tantrums every time some little thing doesn't pass your precious purity test and came back down to the real, complicated world with the rest of us, we'd all be a lot better off.' At press time, Levin was butting in on a lively social media debate to tell two total strangers that they were 'everything that's wrong with this country.'"

Matt Taibbi is developing an independent media site. "Announcement to Readers: I'm Moving: Substack is now my full-time job." Matt says he wants to do a lot more actual reporting and get outside of the current media tendency toward reporting from partisan points of view. He wants to go back to covering financial reports as well as campaign coverage that steps away from the ordained narratives of mass media. It will be interesting to see if he can make it work.

"Bill Gates's Philanthropic Giving Is a Racket: Bill Gates recently resigned from the board of Microsoft to focus full time on philanthropy. It's a perfect time to remember: billionaire-funded philanthropy is a public-relations scam. [...] But Bill Gates and his foundation are the perfect picture of why this model of billionaire philanthropy is so flawed. Gates's foundation was originally cooked up as a feel-good gloss to cover up his shredded reputation during Microsoft's antitrust trial, putting him in the long tradition of obscenely rich people using the occasional generous gift to try justifying their enormous wealth and power. [...] The business press has observed how 'Twenty years ago, people associated the name Gates with 'ruthless, predatory' monopolistic conduct.' However, 'after taking a public relations beating during [the Microsoft antitrust] trial's early going in late 1998, the company started what was described at the time as a 'charm offensive' aimed at improving its image .?.?. Mr. Gates contributed $20.3 billion, or 71 percent of his total contributions to the foundation .?.?. during the 18 months between the start of the trial and the verdict.' A wealth manager frankly states, 'his philanthropy has helped 'rebrand' his name.' Indeed, philanthropy by the very richest men and women globally is one of the main arguments their defenders have — sure, Gates and other billionaires make a lot of money, but then they use it to help us. So generous! And look, he's smarter than our racist TV president! But often it's a fig leaf for ruling-class dominance."

Glennzilla: "Nonvoters Are Not Privileged. They Are Disproportionately Lower-Income, Non-White and Dissatisfied With The Two Parties.: NOT EVEN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS have elapsed since Bernie Sanders announced that he was suspending his presidential run, and already a shaming campaign has been launched against those who are contemplating abstaining from voting due to dissatisfaction with the two major-party candidates. The premise invoked for this tactic is that only those who are sufficiently 'privileged' have the luxury of choosing not to vote — meaning that nonvoters are rich and white and thus largely immune from the harmful consequences of a Trump presidency, which largely fall on the backs of poorer and non-white Americans."

"Elite Media Dismiss Voter Suppression on Grounds That It's 'Complicated': Some voters—disproportionately black and brown ones—waited in line for several hours on Super Tuesday to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary, and media paid attention. But their love for a good visual doesn't always correspond with a love for connecting the dots, and so most of the coverage downplayed any suggestion that there might be voter suppression going on in 2020."

Ian Welsh, "It's Biden's World [...] Joe Biden was there every step of the way, creating a world in which young people live in poverty, poor black (and white) men are in prison, and in which the rich get richer and everyone else scrambles to even keep up. By any rational consideration, Biden is a bad man. Evil, even. Let us move briefly to Sanders. Bernie's key planks were Medicare-for-all and student debt forgiveness, with a large climate change plan. There are now great cries that Sanders supporters should support and vote for Biden. People supported Sanders so ferociously because his policies meant they could actually have health care they could use (Medicare-for-all) and might be able to not spend decades in debt, and thus start families and maybe even own a home. In other words, Sanders policies would make them more likely to NOT DIE and to be able to live a decent life. Biden's policies do not do that. Period. So when you see upset Sanders supporters, understand that they're angry that people who voted Biden don't seem to care if they die or live in poverty."

RIP: "Bill Withers, influential soul singer behind Ain't No Sunshine, dies aged 81: Bill Withers, the influential US soul singer who wrote Lean on Me, Ain't No Sunshine and Lovely Day has died aged 81 of heart complications, according to a statement from his family. Withers wrote and recorded several other major hits including Use Me and Just the Two of Us, before retiring in the mid-1980s and staying out of the public eye." And here's a nice live version of "Lean on Me" with Stevie Wonder and John Legend.

RIP: "John Prine, One of America's Greatest Songwriters, Dead at 73: Grammy-winning singer who combined literary genius with a common touch succumbs to coronavirus complications."

"Jane McAlevey: We Desperately Need a Mass Strike Against the Billionaire Class [...] If it's Trump, it's war. Any union left having a residual concern about what it means to strike if Trump becomes the president again needs to be taken out to the woodshed. He's already taken us back to the 1960s in terms of the progress we've made. There's going to be nothing left of the country if unions don't unleash the biggest firepower in the history of the universe against a second Trump administration. If it's Biden, unions would have to fight like hell to get anything."

Historical document from 2018"The Egregious Lie Americans Tell Themselves [...] There's a verbal tic particular to a certain kind of response to a certain kind of story about the thinness and desperation of American society; about the person who died of preventable illness or the Kickstarter campaign to help another who can't afford cancer treatment even with 'good' insurance; about the plight of the homeless or the lack of resources for the rural poor; about underpaid teachers spending thousands of dollars of their own money for the most basic classroom supplies; about train derailments, the ruination of the New York subway system and the decrepit states of our airports and ports of entry. 'I can't believe in the richest country in the world. ...' This is the expression of incredulity and dismay that precedes some story about the fundamental impoverishment of American life, the fact that the lived, built geography of existence here is so frequently wanting, that the most basic social amenities are at once grossly overpriced and terribly underwhelming, that normal people (most especially the poor and working class) must navigate labyrinths of bureaucracy for the simplest public services, about our extraordinary social and political paralysis in the face of problems whose solutions seem to any reasonable person self-evident and relatively straightforward."

Time for one of my favorite quotes from Tony Benn, "Every generation must fight the same battles again and again and again.."

Historical document from 2017, "Forclosed: Destruction of Black Wealth During the Obama Presidency" by Ryan Cooper & Matt Bruenig.

Before 2016, I only ever saw articles like this one about Republican candidates, because it was a Republican dirty trick.

Viral art: "Street Artists Take On Coronavirus Pandemic With Powerful, Poignant And Witty Pieces

Sandford police Dalek keeps people in their homes

"Town Hall Live! From the Archives: Legendary Ladies of the Screen - Bette Davis (2/11/73)"

I accidentally clicked on this picture and it took me a minute to realize I recognized those faces. The odd thing was who I recognized first.

James Mcmurtry, "We Can't Make It Here Anymore"

23:51 GMT comment


Wednesday, 01 April 2020

I don't want to hear them scream

Bernie Sanders wins a big victory for the American people: "Senate passes $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, sending it to the House [...] Before passing the bill, the Senate first rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to cap unemployment insurance at a recipient's previous wages. The bill adds $600 per week to the benefits a recipient would normally get for up to four months. Sasse's amendment failed in a 48-48 vote. The senator and three of his GOP colleagues threatened to delay passage of the legislation if they could not get a vote on an amendment. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., then suggested he could hold up the bill's approval if they did not back down from their opposition."

Which doesn't mean the bill itself is even remotely good. David Dayen, "Unsanitized: Bailouts, A Tradition Unlike Any Other [...] This is a robbery in progress. And it's not a bailout for the coronavirus. It's a bailout for twelve years of corporate irresponsibility that made these companies so fragile that a few weeks of disruption would destroy them. The short-termism and lack of capital reserves funneled record profits into a bathtub of cash for investors. That's who's being made whole, financiers and the small slice of the public that owns more than a trivial amount of stocks. In fact they've already been made whole; yesterday Wall Street got the word that they'd be saved and stocks and bonds went wild. BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, is running these bailout programs for the Fed, and could explicitly profit if the Fed buys its funds, which it probably will."

Now that the media and the Democratic leadership have decided that, though he is still hundreds of delegates short and half the country is still waiting for their chance to vote, Biden has "really" won the nomination, they are starting to worry about whether he can win. "Joe Biden is the worst imaginable challenger to Trump right now: For anyone plugged in to the news firehose about the coronavirus pandemic, it has been extremely bizarre to watch President Trump's approval rating. He has botched the crisis beyond belief, and the United States now has the biggest outbreak in the world. Because of his ongoing failure to secure stockpiles of medical supplies, doctors and nurses are re-using protective gear over and over, and suiting up in garbage bags and page protectors to treat COVID-19 patients. Some have already caught the virus and died — along with over 1,300 others at time of writing, which is very likely an underestimate. Yet Trump's approval rating keeps going up. Poll averages show a marked bump in favorable ratings, a recent Washington Post/ABC poll has him above water. He does even better on the coronavirus response, with a Gallup poll finding him at 60 percent approval of his handling of the situation. This is what happens when the Democratic Party, de facto led at this point by its presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, refuses to make the case that Trump is in fact responsible for the severity of the disaster. Biden is proving to be about the worst imaginable nominee to take on Trump."

Video: "Krystal Ball: THIRSTY Dems throw themselves at Cuomo, here's why that's a mistake"

Teen Vogue, "Andrew Cuomo's Coronavirus Response Doesn't Mean He's Crush-Worthy [...] But shouldn't the bar be higher for a corona-inspired crush? In times of panic-induced infatuation, let's remember that someone can be a better leader than Trump during a crisis and still not deserve our praise. Particularly when the leader in question helped set the stage for many of the devastating challenges we now face as coronavirus sweeps the nation."

"Inside a Murder Trial in Krasner-Era Philadelphia: Not long ago, a poor black man charged with the murder of a wealthy white man wouldn't have a chance at justice. Times have changed." Innocent man goes free because the evidence doesn't support a conviction.That shouldn't be a story, but of course, it is.

"Colorado abolishes death penalty; governor commutes sentences of 3 on death row [...] Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill Monday making Colorado the 22nd state to abolish the death penalty, and he also commuted the sentences of the three killers on death row. They will instead serve life prison sentences without the possibility of parole, Polis said."

Hilarious. The Russians decided to call the Russiagate bluff and... "Justice Department moves to drop charges against Russians indicted in the Mueller probe." You remember, they charged 13 Russians with "interfering" with our election, only they knew the Russians would never answer the charges so they could fabricate any charges they wanted out of thin air. But when the Russians respond instead with a not guilty plea, there has to be discovery, and since there's nothing to discover, the government has to claim they can't provide discovery material because that would mean exposing the Russians to our secret stuff. In other words, there was never any There there.

Michael Moore talked to the people he knows in Washington about Joe Biden, and they said some chilling things about how they had it covered.

And here's an episode of Useful Idiots in which, among other things, Matt and Katie marvel at Rachel Maddow's bizarre reason for not letting the remaining states vote in the primaries - an argument that would work pretty well for shutting down the general election if she really meant it, but of course she doesn't.

It goes without saying that Trump's leadership on the Coronavirus is worse than useless, but he's not the only one. "How Did Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden Screw This Up?: The Democratic response to the coronavirus has been a political disaster. [...] But Trump does not have a monopoly on political malpractice. As the crisis has spread, Democratic Party leaders — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden — have either been missing in action or short on solutions. Incredibly, a handful of arch-conservative Republicans have been able to take public credit for advancing the popular, progressive idea of just sending every household a large check for the duration of the crisis. Pelosi explicitly rejected that very idea in early talks among House Democrats, overruling pleas from Democratic economists. With Democratic leaders thinking small, a majority of the public now actually approves of Trump's catastrophic pandemic management, according to a new poll."

"Democrats' grotesque coronavirus failure [...] Meanwhile on the question of broader economic stimulus, several Republicans are now outflanking Pelosi to the left. On Monday, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) rejected the Pelosi bill as insufficient, while Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) proposed an immediate payment of $1,000 to every adult. On Tuesday, the White House released a massive $850 billion stimulus plan (which may get even bigger), including "$500 billion in a payroll tax cut, a $50 billion bailout for airlines struggling from plummeting demand, and $250 billion for small business loans," Reuters reports. [...] Only Pelosi can leverage Democrats' control of one chamber of the legislature to influence the process. As Michael Grunwald argues, she should very obviously just write a plan that is both fair and big enough to address the crisis, and tell Republicans to take it or leave it. That would mean at a minimum a massive expansion of unemployment benefits, a sickness allowance, and paid family leave. Any bailouts of businesses should have heavy strings attached to halt dividends, share buybacks, and excessive executive compensation, so the rich don't just gobble up the money. Bailouts should also mean the government collects new stock issues in return, so if and when the market bounces back, the state rather than rich investors collects the benefit. [...] But if I had to guess, I reckon Pelosi will basically agree to whatever Republicans propose. Indeed, she may well push Republicans to the right — former Obama adviser Jason Furman proposed the cash payment idea in a recent meeting with Democrats, but Pelosi shot him down. Democrats have long thought that exploiting political leverage in a crisis to make the response as good as possible is somehow "irresponsible." That means the Republicans will lead, and quite possibly get credit for doing what they could. If Trump wins with such a campaign, it will be Nancy Pelosi's fault."

"Michael Hudson: A Debt Jubilee is the Only Way to Avoid a Depression [...] The word 'Jubilee' comes from the Hebrew word for 'trumpet' — yobel. In Mosaic Law, it was blown every 50 years to signal the Year of the Lord, in which personal debts were to be canceled. The alternative, the prophet Isaiah warned, was for smallholders to forfeit their lands to creditors: 'Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.' When Jesus delivered his first sermon, the Gospel of Luke describes him as unrolling the scroll of Isaiah and announcing that he had come to proclaim the Year of the Lord, the Jubilee Year. [...] It is now understood that these rulers were not being utopian or idealistic in forgiving debts. The alternative would have been for debtors to fall into bondage. Kingdoms would have lost their labor force, since so many would be working off debts to their creditors. Many debtors would have run away (much as Greeks emigrated en masse after their recent debt crisis), and communities would have been prone to attack from without. The parallels to the current moment are notable. The U.S. economy has polarized sharply since the 2008 crash. For far too many, their debts leave little income available for consumer spending or spending in the national interest. In a crashing economy, any demand that newly massive debts be paid to a financial class that has already absorbed most of the wealth gained since 2008 will only split our society further. This has happened before in recent history — after World War I, the burden of war debts and reparations bankrupted Germany, contributing to the global financial collapse of 1929-1931. Most of Germany was insolvent, and its politics polarized between the Nazis and communists. We all know how that ended. [...] In fact, it could create what the Germans called an 'Economic Miracle' — their own modern debt jubilee in 1948, the currency reform administered by the Allied Powers. When the Deutsche Mark was introduced, replacing the Reichsmark, 90 percent of government and private debt was wiped out. Germany emerged as an almost debt-free country, with low costs of production that jump-started its modern economy."

"Medicare for All is a Great Automatic Fiscal Stabilizer: So why does it matter that Medicare for All would make our healthcare system far more countercyclical? For one, it means that it contributes to building an infrastructure which is far better at responding to recessions and even preventing them. Strong indefinite mandatory funding for a Medicare for All system would have also been far more capable of responding to pandemics. These crises still require discretionary closing businesses and implementing social distancing measures by government officials to be lessened but we could have far higher healthcare capacity than we do to respond to these crises as needed. People would also seek treatment at the speed necessary without having to worry about cost. To get the full benefits of this crisis response, we need a system as Sanders envisions it- no out of pocket costs and comprehensive coverage that makes supplemental private insurance irrelevant."

Alex Sammon at The American Prospect, "It's Time to Nationalize the Airlines: America's most consumer-abusing and environment-degrading industry wants us to bail it out. Instead, we should take it over. [...] The airline industry has become another cautionary tale of the pitfalls of deregulation, the result of extremely misguided policy set loose over decades. Air travel wasn't always like that. In its early days, between 1937 and 1978, air travel was treated as a public utility. The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) managed domestic flights and was responsible for establishing schedules, fares, and routes. But in 1978, under the guidance of the Jimmy Carter administration, the industry was deregulated, in the name of increasing competition and driving down prices. Initially, that decision was ballyhooed as a free-market triumph, a true success story that made the case for deregulation and privatization. A smattering of startup airlines joined the skies; the price of a plane ticket fell; the number of fares sold increased dramatically. But quickly, the airlines began to merge, and the industry became an oligopoly (if you're feeling charitable) or a cartel. The airlines dropped unprofitable routes, many of them direct flights, and went to work upping bag fees and cutting back on meals, entertainment, and the size of their seats in coach, infuriating consumers while racking up massive profits. Study after study began to find that airfares had actually fallen more rapidly before Carter's Airline Deregulation Act, and that, if the CAB had been allowed to continue enforcing its long-standing formulas for setting maximum fares, prices would have been considerably less than the free-market offering. As a result, U.S. airlines currently pull in net profit margins of 7.5 percent, which is twice the average for airline companies internationally. Meanwhile, the U.S. hasn't seen a new scheduled passenger airline come into existence since 2007." Alex talked to Sam about this on The Majority Report.

I saw one of those online Twitter polls asking, "Who do you think has stronger, deeper, personal ideological opposition to #MedicareForAll?" Biden was "winning" with 82.5% to Trump's 17.5%. I actually think this might be true (not that it makes a difference, but bear with me.) I remember during the campaign Trump raving about the great health care system they have in Scotland. Trump knows that health care free at the point of delivery is possible, and it works. And it's quite possible that when he babbled about how his administration was going to replace Obamacare with a much better program, he believed it. He had to figure, piece of cake, if they can do it in Scotland, why can't we write a good health care plan, too. Of course, he wasn't going to write it, and that meant Republicans were going to write it, and it's just possible he didn't realize that they would absolutely refuse to produce a genuinely good plan. And according to this story I failed to see at the time, that might really be the case. From January of 2018, "Trump asked 'Why can't Medicare simply cover everybody?' before pushing Obamacare repeal."

David Dayen, "The Man Who Knew" An interview with Barry Lynn, whose prediction about the dangers of centralizing our manufacturing has sadly come true amid the coronavirus outbreak.
David Dayen: What piqued your interest in this circumstance with supply chains in the beginning?
Barry Lynn: I first approached it after this earthquake that happened in Taiwan, in September 1999. I was running a magazine called Global Business. We wrote about how large businesses were moving things around the world. Within a few days, all these factories in the U.S. shut down, in California and Texas, because the supply chains, the supply of semiconductors from Taiwan, were broken. They couldn't fly them out because there was no power at the airport, so the shipments couldn't get out.
It showed me that we took this really important set of eggs and put them all in the same basket. At the time, I became really quite curious why these really smart people running these corporations would do that, and why the really smart people running government would allow that to happen."
"

"How to Save Elections From a Pandemic" - to me this article could be called, "How to make sure everyone has paper ballots." But by saying you're doing something else.

"Who Wants a Revolution? No One Who Owns a Major Media Outlet [...] Of course, that raises the question that is almost never answered in such outlets: Why do Democratic voters think Biden is the more electable candidate, even if they like Sanders' policy positions better? Why, if in head-to-head polling—our best available data on who is 'electable'—Sanders has consistently done as well if not better than Biden over the months, have Democrats been convinced to vote against their own preferences? The pundits appear willfully ignorant of their own role in shaping electability narratives. In the debates, electability was a favorite topic of the journalists doling out questions, and the message (evidence be damned) was clear: Sanders is unelectable. As we reported after studying every debate question prior to Super Tuesday (FAIR.org, 2/29/20), Sanders' electability was questioned more than four times as often as Biden's (21 to 5). While Biden's lackluster campaign performance had prompted much commentary about whether he could win the primaries, the chorus of pundits and 'experts' in political coverage counseled that this year, as always, the center is the one and only place for Democrats to find electability (e.g., FAIR.org, 10/25/19). With Biden's victory in South Carolina, media doubts about his strength were quickly banished. He walked away with an 'earned-media tsunami' of three days of almost entirely exuberant media coverage, worth in the neighborhood of $70 million (Vanity Fair, 3/5/20). By comparison, Sanders, whose massive grassroots fundraising outpaced all of his competitors, spent $50 million in the last three months of 2019 (Politico, 2/20/20)."

"The Four Senators Who Sold Their Stocks Just in Time [...] Loeffler, Inhofe, and Feinstein say that they didn't personally sell those stocks. Their financial managers sold those stocks; the senators themselves deny knowing anything about it. According to TPM, 'Burr has since claimed that he dumped between $628,000 and $1.72 million of his holdings in February, based solely on publicly available news reports.' The 'insider' information he was getting as a senator had nothing to do with it, he says. One suspects we'll be hearing more about this. And it's not just about potential 'insider' trading; it's about these people knowing the situation was dire but going along with the Trump Administration's claims that everything was just fine and under control. Well, the Republicans, anyway. I'm not aware of Feinstein trying to cover Trump's ass."

RIP: "Jerry Slick, San Francisco Musician/Filmmaker & Grace's 1st Husband, Dead at 80: Jerry Slick, a drummer turned cinematographer whose mid-'60s San Francisco band the Great Society featured his then-wife Grace Slick on vocals, has died. No cause, date or place was cited in online posts announcing Slick's death, which was confirmed by his current wife, Wendy Slick, and by Darby Slick, Jerry's brother. Jerry Slick was 80." I was interested to learn from this obit that the producer of the album was a guy who came to be known as Sly Stone.

RIP: "Tom Turnipseed, a 'reformed racist' after backing George Wallace, dies at 83: Tom Turnipseed, who after working on the presidential campaign of the segregationist George C. Wallace in 1968 took a 180-degree turn and became a champion of civil rights, died on March 6 at his home in Columbia, S.C. He was 83. In 1968 when Wallace, the former governor of Alabama, was the American Independent Party candidate for president, Turnipseed, a South Carolina lawyer, was the campaign's executive director. 'I liked him,' Turnipseed explained in an interview for Tom Brokaw's book 'Boom! Voices of the Sixties' (2007). 'He was standing up for the South.' But the campaign began to change his thinking, setting the stage for him to become, as he often described himself, a 'reformed racist.' 'What turned me off was not Wallace, but the crowds,' he told the New York Times in 1978. Wallace, he saw, was tapping into something ugly, not just in the South but among white blue-collar supporters in the North."

I found this conversation between Michael Brooks and Adolph Reed pretty interesting

More like Trump every day: "Time's Up Said It Could Not Fund A #Metoo Allegation Against Joe Biden, Citing Its Nonprofit Status And His Presidential Run: [...] She thought about the world she wanted her daughter to live in and decided that she wanted to continue telling her story and push back against what she saw as online defamation. To get legal help, and manage what she knew from her first go-around would be serious backlash, she reached out to the organization Time's Up, established in the wake of the #MeToo movement to help survivors tell their stories."

"Tourism is not development [...] If not tourism, then what? Cambridge based development economist Ha Joon Chang in his book Kicking Away the Ladder looked at all the developed countries and observed a pattern in how they developed. All the countries instituted industrial policies that supported their infant industries through subsidies and protectionism. Once these countries had efficient industries, only then, these countries opened their borders for trade."

"The decline and fall of neoliberalism in the Democratic Party [...] Meanwhile, New Dealers ran into political difficulties. In 1972, George McGovern ran on a strongly left-wing platform, and got flattened by Nixon, seemingly demonstrating that the New Deal was no longer a vote winner. Neoliberal economists were reaching the height of academic respectability, they had a convincing story to explain the problems, and they gained the ears of top Democratic politicians like Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter. On the advice of Alfred Kahn, Kennedy shepherded through airline deregulation, while Carter appointed neoliberal Paul Volcker to chair of the Federal Reserve, where Volcker proceeded to create a terrible recession to crush inflation. "The standard of living of the average American has to decline," he said. This produced growing inequality, which turned out to be a keystone element of neoliberal political economy. Deregulation, union-busting, abandoning anti-trust, and so forth shunted money to the top of the income ladder — thus providing more resources for lobbying, political pressure groups, think tanks, and economics departments to produce yet more neoliberal policy.

Naomi Klein in 2016: "It was the Democrats' embrace of neoliberalism that won it for Trump [...] Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present. At the same time, they have witnessed the rise of the Davos class, a hyper-connected network of banking and tech billionaires, elected leaders who are awfully cosy with those interests, and Hollywood celebrities who make the whole thing seem unbearably glamorous. Success is a party to which they were not invited, and they know in their hearts that this rising wealth and power is somehow directly connected to their growing debts and powerlessness."

"The World War II food memoir that's getting me through life in a pandemic: MFK Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf is a hopeful message on how to survive during wartime when food supply lines were disrupted, fuel was scarce, and people stocked "blackout shelves" in case of a bombing."

"Museum asks people to recreate art from household items while social distancing and it's delightful" — and it is, too.

"7 of the Best Art Deco Buildings in London"

"Your Guide To Not Getting Murdered In A Quaint English Village"

I really am sick of having all the news be about one subject, but I have to admit this made me smile: "Beautiful Covid-19 Song Spotted on Youtube. Chris Franklin and Robert Kelly. (STAY THE F*CK AT HOME)"

"Lukas Nelson & Family - Turn Off The News And Build a Garden (Quarantunes Evening Session)"

Warren and Neil, "Splendid Isolation"

22:47 GMT comment


Sunday, 15 March 2020

You're still sorry, and there's still no apology

No surprises in South Carolina, where Biden won big. Sanders was the only other to break the 15% threshold (with 19.8%). Buttigieg and Steyer dropped out of the race the next day, and Klobuchar a day later. Pete and Amy made it clear they were dropping on behalf of Biden to help him beat Bernie. The terrain looked quite different from the polls and there was little joy in Mudville on Super Tuesday when Bernie won only four states — CO, UT, VT, and CA. Bloomberg, his work done, was gone by Wednesday night, and Thursday, Warren made a stirring resignation speech. Liz didn't endorse, probably because she needs to decide whether she can bring herself to endorse her original nemesis in politics, Joe Biden, or snub the establishment and endorse Sanders. It's hard to imagine her lining up with the man she said this about as recently as Monday night. It all seems to have been orchestrated by Obama, of course - the man whose sole interest in politics since Trump's election has been to thwart progressive Dems. It's a two-man race, now - two "old white guys", in fact. Sanders announced Thursday that his VP would be a woman who supports Medicare For All.

But the turn-out continues to be disappointing even where wins had been hoped for, when, Michigan turned to Biden and he seems to have doubled his lead on March 10th. Although neither candidate has a knock-out lead, it's hard to see where Sanders can make up the numbers. But, clearly, the Democratic leadership has decided to put all its chips on people hating Trump enough that they will vote for someone who couldn't be more similar to him.

"Bernie Sanders: Now More Than Ever: There's too much at stake to let establishment Democrats lead us down the road of failure by selling Joe Biden as safe. He's not. [...] A long career as a union organizer who has helped workers overcome incredibly stiff odds in many hard-to-win National Labor Relations Board elections has given me some insight into the Trump strategy, because it is identical to the methods and techniques deployed by anti-union consultants: drive doubt, suspicion, division, fear, hate, and, above all else, use every mechanism of voter suppression—especially damping down turnout on election day—available. This union buster-Trump playbook can be overcome only by a candidate who will raise people's expectations that they and their family deserve and can obtain a better life, and who has the capacity to counter wedge against Trump on key issues. With no special affection for either of the older white men this contest has come down to—I'd like the chance to vote for a younger, unionized, working-class woman of color, to be clear—I also know that it's imperative we understand why Joe Biden is a repeat of Hillary Clinton and thus will likely lose in November. "

I'm going to steer clear of the pandemic, since it's suddenly become all the news there is. But Pareene is right on the money. "The Dismantled State Takes on a Pandemic [...] Despite its grip on power, the conservative movement cannot adapt to the circumstances created by its victory over the state. It didn't occur to the right that a more terrifying series of words than 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help' would turn out to be 'I'm from the government, and I guess I anticipated that the private sector would have engaged.'"

"Most People Never Saw the Best of Bernie Sanders's Campaign On Wednesday, Sanders gave a press conference in Vermont and declared his intention to stay in the race, despite delegate math that makes his nomination look extremely unlikely. 'On Sunday, I very much look forward to the debate in Arizona, with my friend Joe Biden,' he said. But the confidence that he displayed in February is gone. An outbreak of the coronavirus is starting to paralyze life in the United States, and both Sanders and Biden have begun cancelling campaign events, complying with expert advice to avoid large gatherings of people. (The location of Sunday's debate between the two has been moved from Arizona to Washington, D.C., for the same reason.) For Sanders, this means giving up the best of his campaign. He's not ready to give up the rest, yet."

Some writers have attempted to interpret the fact that South Carolina's black voters went for Biden despite the fact that they seem to support Sanders' agenda, but I mostly read them as black "centrists" making stuff up to explain away the usual manipulation of voters. I trust Adolph Reed a lot more. "South Carolina, Neoliberalism's Stranglehold, and the Mystique of the 'Black Vote': By reducing all of black Americans' concerns to race or exploiting the idea of a singular 'black vote' in the first place, the elite political class continues to undermine our ability to organize the majoritarian social movement we need to combat the ruling-class assault on all working people in the United States."

"Sanders Releases Reproductive Justice Plan, Calls for Legislative Codification of Roe v. Wade: A day prior to announcing his Reproductive Heath Care and Justice for All plan, Bernie Sanders lit Joe Biden's ass up at a rally in Detroit by doing what is increasingly becoming the easiest thing to do when criticizing the former Vice President, quoting him directly."

OK, this is enough to make me swear. "Warren Urged By National Organization For Women Not To Endorse Sanders: He Has 'Done Next To Nothing For Women'." Sanders' record on women's issues can stand up to anyone's; Biden's record is mostly fighting against things women need. NOW supporting Joe Biden is one of the more disgusting things I've ever heard. It's...deplorable.

"Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups: Mr. Prince, a contractor close to the Trump administration, contacted veteran spies for operations by Project Veritas, the conservative group known for conducting stings on news organizations and other groups."

"The Times' Attempt to Create a Bernie-Russia Scandal Is an Embarrassment [...] Crazy! Bernie Sanders, as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, tried to betray the United States! Wow! Really? Ah, no"

At Black Agenda Report, a frustrated Glen ford complains that, "The Corporations and Their Media Strangled Bernie, and Older Black Voters Tied the Knot: There really is no more to the clap-trap about a Black electoral 'strategy' than attempting to figure out which way the white folks are going and then circling the Black wagons, accordingly."

"The Amount of Voter Suppression in Texas Would Keep U.N. Election Monitors Busy: Before Super Tuesday, the essential Ari Berman pointed out on the electric Twitter machine that, in the wake of the Supreme Court's having gutted the Voting Rights Act, Texas had gone out of its way to close 750 polling places. (The Guardian looked into the numbers and came to the unsurprising conclusion that these closures affected minority voters most harshly.) And that's how Hervis Rodgers became famous on Tuesday night. Rodgers waited seven hours to vote at a polling station on the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston."

Tucker Carlson makes me crazy again. This time he barely even wandered off the path into Fox News territory. It's all true: "Tucker: Democrats pin their hopes on gaffe-prone Joe Biden." Almost word-for-word what Democrats should be saying. I remember there used to be someone on Air America named Rachel Maddow who might have said something like this. Usually Tucker completely ruins it at the end of his amazingly progressive analyses by suddenly detouring into raving right-wing loony conclusions, but not this time.

"Democrats, You Really Do Not Want To Nominate Joe Biden: We urgently need to remember who Biden is and think carefully about what would happen if he were chosen. [...] The reason many of us are so turned off by Joe Biden is that, over the course of a many-decade career in Washington, he has let us down on the key issues when it matters most. Joe Biden has shown himself to be fundamentally weak, unreliable, and dishonest. He gets taken advantage of by Republicans, and he seems more interested in making friends than advancing Democratic ideals."

Is our old friend Election Fraud back? Given that everyone seems to have switched to electronic voting, it's probably the way to bet. "Super Tuesday Biden Victories Questioned by Election Watchers: Wildly divergent exit polls in South Carolina and Massachusetts, and documented voting problems in California and Texas, have prompted veteran election watchers to suggest that there may have been election fraud on Super Tuesday, always at the expense of the Bernie Sanders vote. Edison Research/CNN polls show 4 point and 7 point discrepancies in South Carolina and Massachusetts, respectively, between the computer-tallied vote totals and exit polling. Exit polls are considered by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to be one reliable, although not in itself conclusive, indicator of election fraud. Election fraud may be perpetrated by hacking of vote tabulation machines, or reporting incorrect results that are different from the tally tapes from each machine. Although exit polls may be wrong, which even among experts are considered just one limited but useful tool for detecting fraud, it is more unusual when the errors always point in the same direction. The both SC and MA, exit polls showed Sanders doing better than the official vote tallies."

"How The Senate Paved The Way For Coronavirus Profiteering, And How Congress Could Undo It [...] That's how much of the pharmaceutical industry's research and development is funded. The public puts in the money, and private companies keep whatever profits they can command. But it wasn't always that way. Before 1995, drug companies were required to sell drugs funded with public money at a reasonable price. Under the Clinton administration, that changed. [...] The move was controversial, and a House member from Vermont, independent Bernie Sanders, offered an amendment to reinstate the rule. It failed on a largely party-line vote, 242-180. Then in 2000, Sanders authored and passed a bipartisan amendment in the House to reimpose the 'reasonable pricing' rule. In the Senate, a similar measure was pushed by the late Paul Wellstone of Minnesota. 'Many in Congress find it hard to argue with Sanders' line that 'Americans must pay twice for life-saving drugs, first as taxpayers to develop the drug and then as consumers to pad pharmaceutical profits,'' Nature wrote at the time. Then-Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware voted to table Wellstone's amendment, and it was defeated 56-39."

And if someone asks you for info on Joe Biden, by all means send them here.

"What Happened to the Company That Raised Minimum Wage to $70k/yr? Remember a few years ago when the owner of a credit card payment processing company based in Seattle raised the minimum wage of his employees to $70,000/yr while taking a huge pay-cut himself and capitalists the world over, afraid of their beloved & apparently suuuuper delicate system collapsing from such madness, flipped out? The BBC recently checked in with Gravity Payments and its owner Dan Price to see how things were going. Pretty damn well, as it turns out: [...] When Price made the announcement about raising wages, two senior employees quit because they thought the junior employees would become lazy and the company would suffer. Spolier alert: didn't happen. [...] Employees that worry less about debt, healthcare, or where their next meal is coming from are happier, more productive employees. Imagine that."

Interesting little data point from a couple weeks ago: "Bernie Sanders Beats All Other Democratic Candidates In One-On-One Matchups, Says Poll" — which means once we get down to just Bernie and any other Dems, most Democrats would side with Bernie. At the other end of the spectrum, everyone in the field beats Bloomberg. In national head-to-heads with Trump, Sanders beats him better than anyone, but of course what really matters is the state head-to-heads, where it's way too close for comfort in too many places. (Of course, these things can change, and seem to have done so since that poll was taken.)

A little story from 2016: "Obama Wanted To Cut Social Security. Then Bernie Sanders Happened." What caused Obama's complete about-face on an issue he'd been pushing from the moment he got into the Oval Office? (And, really, had hinted at before he was even elected.) Well, you know the answer to that.

"There is hard data that shows "Bernie Bros" are a myth: A computational social scientist's study shows Bernie's Twitter followers act pretty much the same as everyone else. Mainstream pundits and politicians continue to obsess over the stereotype of the "Bernie Bro," a perfervid horde of Bernie Sanders supporters who supposedly stop at nothing to harass his opponents online. Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and New York Times columnist Bret Stephens have all helped perpetuate the idea that Sanders' supporters are somehow uniquely cruel, despite Sanders' platform and policy proposal being the most humane of all the candidates. The only problem? The evidence that Sanders supporters are uniquely cruel online, compared to any other candidates' supporters, is scant; much of the discourse around Bernie Bros seems to rely on skewed anecdotes that don't stand up to scrutiny. Many Sanders supporters suspect that the stereotype is perpetuated in bad faith to help torpedo his candidacy."

"Centrists" argue that we need to nominate someone "moderate" enough for Republicans to vote for, which, aside from being a terrible reason to nominate someone as the candidate for the Democratic Party doesn't seem to be holding much water if even "NeverTrump" voters are willing to vote for Sanders. "Former Trump Presidential Opponent Joe Walsh Backs Bernie Sanders, Tells GOP 'I'd Rather Have A Socialist Than A Con Man'." Not that Walsh is typical of the NeverTrumpers, an awful lot of whom seem to be Republican operatives who have merely been frozen out of the current administration and just want the old regime back in — and they, of course, keep advising us to nominate someone who is pretty much a Republican except for the D.

Please make this nightmare go away. "Joe Biden's secret governing plan: Joe Biden confidants are privately discussing potential leaders and Cabinet members for his White House, including the need to name a woman or African American — perhaps both — as vice president, top sources tell "Axios on HBO." Why it matters: Biden advisers describe a Return to Normal plan — a reversal of President Trump's unorthodox, improvisational style. Biden wants known, trusted people around him — many from the Obama years." Shortlist appears to include: John, Kerry, Elizabeth Warren, Susan Rice, Michael Bloomberg, and Jamie Dimon.

"MSNBC Benches Contributor Who Smeared Bernie Sanders Staffers: Following MSNBC contributor Dr. Jason Johnson's inflammatory remarks about supporters and campaign staffers of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the academic has been temporarily benched by the network, sources confirmed to The Daily Beast. In recent months, Johnson—a fixture of the network's Democratic primary analysis—has drawn considerable heat for his relentlessly anti-Sanders commentary on MSNBC, which has also come under fire from the left for its skeptical and largely negative coverage of the democratic-socialist senator. During an interview last week on SiriusXM's The Karen Hunter Show, Johnson claimed 'racist white liberals' support Sanders and that the senator has done 'nothing for intersectionality.' The MSNBC contributor then took aim at the women of color who work for Sanders. 'I don't care how many people from the island of misfit black girls you throw out there to defend you,' Johnson exclaimed."

"Noam Chomsky: 'Bernie Is Vilified Because He Has Inspired a Movement' [...] First of all we should mention and bear in mind that Margaret Thatcher and the people around Reagan were not fools. They understood that it would be necessary to destroy the labour movements if they wanted to carry through the kinds of policies which were certain to harm the general population, as indeed they have done."

Jake Tapper noticed something. And tells us, by the way, that a Republican operative said they were more afraid of Howard Dean than they were of the "more electable" John Kerry.

Edroso, "Red Assed: Sometimes it seems things are out of control in dazzling new ways, and sometimes it seems they're out of control in ways that are even older than I am. Like did you see that Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential front-runner, said on TV that Cubans have done alright at health care — which is true! See 'How Cubans Live as Long as Americans at a Tenth of the Cost' — and at literacy programs — which is also true! See 'An adult literacy program developed in Cuba is now being used in more than 30 countries' — and now everyone's acting like he said 'I think gulags are great, you can't have universal health care without gulags, as President I will throw you all in gulags'?"

"Months After Supporting a Deadly Coup, WaPo Admits Bolivia's Elections Were Clean" — Points to the Post for having printed it, but it still leaves out a lot. "Thus, the entire article is presented as an interesting anomaly, rather than evidence of a major international crime."

"Bernie Sanders' Medicare For All Policy Would Likely Increase Wages And Create Jobs, New Economic Analysis Shows [...] Sanders, a progressive senator from Vermont who is currently a close second to former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner, has long advocated for a universal or single-payer health care system. Critics argue that such a policy would lead to mass job loss and be an economic drain on the country, but the new analysis published Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) suggests the opposite would happen. Josh Bivens, EPI's director who conducted the study, wrote in the report that Medicare for All 'would be unambiguously positive' for the labor market in the U.S., leading to a 'boost in wages and salaries' as well as an 'increase in job quality, while producing 'a net increase in jobs.' Although the analysis notes that policymakers should not 'ignore the distress caused by job transitions' due to such a health care reform, Bivens wrote that job losses during a transitional period would be 'relatively small.'"

The Los Angeles Times, "Column: Bernie Sanders isn't going to destroy the Democratic Party. He just might save it [...] After all, most polls say that Sanders can beat Trump. Sanders' polling strength undercuts the oft-repeated claim that he can be destroyed because he calls himself a democratic socialist. Besides, if the Republicans haven't already neutered the word 'socialist' through overuse, they soon will. Also, when he is given the chance, Sanders makes a perfectly cogent case that he is ideologically in tune with most Americans, whether they realize it or not."

For some reason, anti-Berners pretend to care passionately about how Sanders voted on it, so here's a quick refresh: "Why Did Bernie Sanders Vote Against the Magnitsky Act?."

RIP: "Dr. Stanley Dudrick, Who Saved Post-Surgical Patients, Dies at 84: Why were they dying after 'successful' operations? He discovered the cause and came up with a remedy: intravenous nutrition — a technique that has saved millions of lives." He did more, and he never patented any of it because he believed it should be available to everyone. More here

RIP: "Rosalind P. Walter, original 'Rosie the Riveter,' dies at 95: Walter was the inspiration behind the "Rosie the Riveter" song after she spent a year working at the Sikorsky aircraft plant at the age of 19."

RIP: Legendary science fiction fan and pornographer Earl Kemp, 1929-2020, after a fall. He connected with fandom in 1950 and eventually became the president of U of Chicago's SF club. "In 1955, Earl and several other UofCSF Club members started Advent:Publishers with the idea of bringing out critical works about science fiction. Advent's other founders, besides Earl, were Robert Briney, Sidney Coleman, James O'Meara, George Price, Jon Stopa and Ed Wood. Damon Knight had written a goodly number of critical essays for science fiction magazines by then, and it was Earl's idea to assemble them into a book. In 1956, Advent published as its first book Damon Knight's In Search of Wonder. Advent would also publish major nonfiction works such as James Blish's The Issue at Hand, Don Tuck's massive bibliographic Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy to 1968, Robert Bloch's The Eighth Stage of Fandom, as well as Harry Warner, Jr's All Our Yesterdays and Alexei Panshin's Heinlein in Dimension." Here he talks about his famous arrest.

"How To Be A Democrat, According To Republicans: Beware the advice offered by your literal opponent. [...] Republicans have always loved to lecture liberals on what they should be doing, sometimes adopting the pretense of telling them how to win elections. This always takes the form of encouraging them to be more like Republicans. To an easy mark, the offer of advice might seem to display a lack of self-interest that makes it trustworthy. But in the world of American politics, it's a deviously effective strategy. If Republicans can convince Democrats to dilute their identity and abandon their principles, there are two possible results. The first is that they will appear so enfeebled and unreliable to the electorate that they will inevitably lose. The second is that even if they win, they will have become Republicans in the process. Like the scorpion sinking into the river with the frog, Republicans know that this defeat is also in some sense a victory. Yet Democrats fall into this trap over and over again, a tendency that has risen precipitously with the emergence of the so-called #NeverTrump movement. MSNBC is crawling with Republican talking heads; the op-ed pages of major newspapers regularly allow them to address Democrats in the second person.

"The Liberal-Conservative-Socialist Case for Bernie Sanders [...] Even someone committed to reasonableness and conversation can find that their energy flags while arguing with Brooks, his colleagues Bret Stephens and Thomas Friedman, and other never-Sanders avatars of the center. Brooks has seemingly gotten his impression of Sanders from Stephens's columns, not from anyone with first-hand experience of the campaign."

Robert Borosage, "Biden's Not the One: [...] If the Democratic establishment thinks that Joe Biden is a better candidate to run against Donald Trump, they're in for a rude awakening. Joe Biden was less architect than inheritor of his stunning electoral comeback. His sweeping victory in South Carolina was largely orchestrated by the forceful South Carolina Representative James Clyburn. Then the Democratic establishment went all in."

"How 'Bernie Bros' Were Invented, Then Smeared as Sexist, Racist and unAmerican as Borscht [...] Biden's campaign is a reminder that power is indivisible. Donald Trump or Joe Biden for president — it doesn't matter to the power-establishment. An egomaniacal man-child (Trump), representing the billionaires, or an elder suffering rapid neurological degeneration (Biden), representing the billionaires, are equally useful to power. A woman will do too, or a person of colour. The establishment is no longer worried about who stands on stage — so long as that person is not a Bernie Sanders in the US, or a Jeremy Corbyn in the UK."

"Recovered History: America lured, drowned thousands of Cubans: Seems like everyone's slamming Bernie Sanders for saying a few nice things about Cuba and Fidel Castro. Miami's response topped them all, though. The city just announced it's gonna hold a government-funded (yes, government-funded) anti-communist concert dedicated to the people who risked their lives escaping communism. Take that Bernie, you old Judeo-Bolshevik! Speaking of escaping communism. Most people don't know that America had a hand in killing an estimated 77,000 Cubans just in the 1980s and 1990s — that's way more than the total number of Cubans than Castro is accused of killing. [...] Obviously not everyone decided to raft it to freedom because of one-sided CIA propaganda. But it's clear that some — and possibly very, very many — did. Producing disinformation that celebrated the people who made it across safely while being quiet about the ones who didn't — the ones who drowned at sea? Not sure what the relevant legal classification here would be. But to a simple Soviet refugee like me, this is more than callous. It's straight up murder. Publicly, Radio Martí said it cared about the Cuban people. Privately, it knowingly led many to their deaths. Of course the body count from these drownings doesn't include the one racked up by the brutal colonial dictatorship that Fidel Castro overthrew — the one that America supported. But hey, can you really put a price on anti-communism? American history says, 'No.'"

I'm not sure how I ended up getting requests for comment at Quora, but it was interesting to see Vermonters talking about What Vermont residents think of Bernie Sanders.

This is a WaPo link so you might want to use the Incognito Window to read it. "Coronavirus makes the case for Medicare-for-all [...] We're all fixated on the Trump administration's day-late-and-billions-of-dollars-short response to the increasing likelihood that coronavirus will cause a public-health crisis in the United States. But the fact remains that even if the government were fully prepared, many Americans will face another barrier to receiving care that will make the crisis worse."

"Who Moved Tom Friedman's Cheese? I regret to inform you that Tom Friedman has written about electoral politics again. Does he try to filter the Democratic primary through a mediocre 15-year-old bestseller that for some reason middlebrow pundits instantly determined had a lesson that was applicable to obviously inapplicable situations? You know the answer!"

I watched this video and I feel like I just had four years of college in an hour, only without the boring parts: Michael Hudson - Life and Thought: The interview with Professor Michael Hudson was conducted on 7 May 2018 in Beijing, by Professor Lau Kin Chi and Professor Sit Tsui Jade. Professor Hudson talked about his formative years, and his turn to economics from music as he found his mentor Terence McCarthy's speech about economics beautiful and aesthetic. He recalled his experiences in research and teaching, and the background leading to his writing the many books on imperialism, balance of payment, history of debt, and fictitious capital."

Cory Doctorow has moved to his own blog.

Embroidery tattoos

"Listen To This Fascinating WWII Radio Chatter From A Lancaster Crew On A Bombing Raid."

The return of the Dixie Chicks, "Gaslighter".

02:31 GMT comment


Friday, 28 February 2020

Is resistance futile yet?

Bernie's win in Nevada was decisive, with 47% of the vote and 22 of the 36 available delegates. MSNBC had a complete melt-down.

"Full transcript: Ninth Democratic debate in Las Vegas" - I want to see the expressions on their faces, but most people read faster than I do so maybe you prefer this. Still looking for a link to the full debate.

The big take-away from the debate, for some people, was about the feisty performance of Warren, who laid serious gloves on the centrists in the race. Mike Lux says: She's Baaack [...] Elizabeth first got a following in the progressive movement by her searing questioning of Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner: people figured that if she was willing to challenge the Democratic Party's leadership, she would be willing to fight for them on the issues that mattered the most. And when she got to the Senate and was named to the Banking Committee, in her first hearing as Senator, her questioning of a witness was so devastating that the video became the first Banking Committee hearing ever to get over a million views on YouTube. She knows how to be tough. Well, that Elizabeth Warren is back, folks. Maybe with her running from behind and being written off by the pundits, she felt freed up to go back into Socrates with a machine gun mode. I hope she stays there, and that she stays in this race over the long haul. We need that toughness."

A Culinary Union boss tried to scam his workers with a flier fear-mongering over Medicare for All. It didn't work. The flier, tweeted out, got lots of pushback from union members and other defenders of M4A. Naturally, they were all called "BernieBros" and all accused of attacking "the culinary workers' union". Shamefully, Elizabeth Warren jumped onto this bandwagon, but that didn't work, either, and the union workers themselves backed Bernie and helped give him his win. "Culinary Workers Bucked Their Leadership by Backing Bernie Sanders in Nevada. Here's What They Knew."

There was a lot of misreporting of what was going on when the Democratic Party reform committee was working on the new rules, so it's always interesting hearing about it first-hand from Nomiki Konst. "Why does every candidate but Bernie want to keep Superdelegates?"

Also, Nomiki explaining what's wrong with Joy Reid's story about the Platform Committee and the Reform Commission.

And now that Russiagate is being aimed at Bernie, Nomiki's Dispelling Russia-gate: "Bernie Edition" with Aaron Mate is very useful and contains some interesting surprises.

Sam Seder interviews Thom Hartmann on The Hidden History of the War on Voting, and how they're winning that war now. Keep checking your registration regularly, folks!

According to Newsweek, "76 Percent Of Democrats Say They'd Vote For A Socialist For President, New Poll Shows [...] When it came to candidates who were socialists, Democrats were most likely to answer that they would vote for them. Seventy-six percent of Democrats said they would back a socialist candidate, compared with 17 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of independents." The interesting thing is that other polling shows that the percentage of indies who say they would vote for the specific person called Bernie Sanders show he is more popular than this generic socialist is.

McGovern concern trolling is popular again. People forget that no one could have beaten Nixon in 1972. He was a popular president with 60% approval ratings. The economy was genuinely good, because Nixon was no austerian and spent money in the real economy. And George Meany, the powerful union boss, hated McGovern and vowed to make him lose, thus restoring his own power in the party. Meanwhile, Vietnam was the Democrats' war and Nixon claimed that he had a plan to get out. The war created a huge split within the party that hugely weakened it. This article was written before Biden's poor showing in the primaries, but it's still relevant. "Bernie Isn't McGovern. Biden Might Be Humphrey. [...] But the Democrats, as usual, have learned all the wrong lessons from history. McGovern didn't lose because he was too left-wing. He lost because he was confronting a very popular and savvy incumbent in Richard Milhouse Nixon. Even more importantly, McGovern and his left-wing politics rose to the top because the party was confronting a devastating crisis over its prosecution of the Vietnam War. The fissures the war carved in the party made politics as usual an impossibility."

And Robert Kuttner, "Sanders Is Not Another McGovern. I Know — I Worked on McGovern's Campaign. [...] Jim Hightower, a left-wing Democrat who won statewide office in Texas, has noted that within the white middle class, there are more downwardly mobile angry voters who would be more attracted to Sanders's call to shake up the system in a progressive direction than a return to normalcy. The status quo ante doesn't have that much appeal."

The H8%, again with help from Liz Warren, has been pretending Sanders didn't release his health records. Actually, that's a lie.

Old videos of Bernie Sanders allegedly (but not really) praising Fidel Castro are being trotted out again, but "As a Young Cuban-American, I'm Defending Bernie Sanders (OPINION): I am the son of Cuban immigrants. I grew up in South Florida. My grandfather was a political prisoner under Fidel Castro in 1961. He passed away in 2017, and before my grandfather left us, I sat down with him to listen to his stories about his time in the prison camp. That was a deeply emotional conversation, and a day like today makes those memories flash back into my mind. These disingenuous attacks against Bernie Sanders have been deeply offensive and hurtful, as I see these political hacks using my grandfather's suffering and that of other political prisoners to advance their cynical political agenda."

Jesse Jackson in The Chicago Sun Times, "The important word in 'democratic socialism' is 'democratic': Here's the reality. The important word in 'democratic socialism' isn't socialism, it's democratic. Sanders isn't talking about making America into Cuba or Venezuela; he's talking about extending social guarantees like those offered in most other advanced industrial states, invoking Denmark or Sweden. These countries have universal health care at lower cost, paid family leave, guaranteed paid vacations, higher minimum wages, more generous public retirement programs. They also have vibrant and competitive economies, lower inequality, less poverty, and higher life expectancies. Sanders is seeking a popular mandate from voters to move in this direction."

"Why Does Mainstream Media Keep Attacking Bernie Sanders as He Wins?" It really amazing watching some of the derangement - especially major media figures insisting that Bernie Sanders would cheer if commies executed him in Central Park, comparing his supporters to brown shirts, and insisting that winning a primary was like the Nazis taking over France. Some of these people seriously need mental help.

Let's see what Fred Hiatt did this time to earn another America's Worst Editorial Page Editor award from Atrios. "A line-by-line response to Fred Hiatt's pro-oil, anti-Sanders climate op-ed." Fred thinks Sanders is as "unrealistic" as Trump because he doesn't think that a carbon tax, by itself, will solve climate change.

"How Money Works: Why we can pay for nice things!" If only every householder could get the kind of attention the stock market gets from the Fed when they had money troubles....

Vanity Fair, "Get A Grip, Bernie Bed-Wetters: His Message And Media Machine Could Be Potent Against Trump: Socialist Schmocialist. Sanders has a set of political assets—celebrity, fundraising power, committed foot soldiers, media sophistication, relentless consistency—possessed by no one else in the race."

In In These Times, "Barbara Ehrenreich on Her Endorsement of Bernie Sanders and Why Socialism Should Be Fun: In a sprawling interview, Ehrenreich explains why Sanders is her choice for 2020, the joys of radical politics and why there's no time to wait on capitalism to solve the climate crisis."

"Mayor Pete's Health Care Plan Is a Joke: Pete Buttigieg can't stop attacking Medicare for All. But his own health care plan is so bad it borders on the comical." No one ever asks him how he'll pay for it, either, which is pretty rich since he hectored Warren mercilessly about how she'd pay for hers. But the pay-for pales into insignificance in light of the other problems. "This is, in a nutshell, what is wrong with 'technocracy' as it has come to be known in the discourse. What masquerades as technical competence and a light touch is, more often than not, really science fantasy delusions about what a state can actually successfully administer." The extra-large version of the individual mandate doesn't seem like a particularly smart move, either, seeing has how unpopular it already was. And his plan is actually more expensive than Medicare For All, which raises the question of why we should settle for that. It's not as if any public option plan is going to thrill the insurance industry, given how many customers they would still lose, so they will still fight hard against it.

"Opinion: Bernie Sanders isn't a radical — he's a pragmatist who fights to un-rig the system: Sanders would use both markets and government to reverse the upward redistribution of income to the already rich: As Bernie Sanders continues to increase his standing in the Democratic primary, and his opponents in both parties feel the pain, there is an effort to paint him as an extremist of some sort. Someone who might even lose to Trump because of this alleged 'radicalism.' But it's not that easy to make the case on the basis of facts. He has a 40-year track record as a politician. The things he is saying now are mostly what he has shouted from the mountain tops for pretty much the whole time. The main difference is that now, other Democratic politicians have joined him: on a $15 minimum wage, student-debt relief, free tuition at public universities, expanding Social Security, reducing income inequality, and some even on Medicare for All. His actions speak even more consistently than his words: he understands that politics is about compromise. He fights hard for what he has promised to voters, but then takes the best deal he can win if it will advance the ball down the field, and prepares to fight again the next day."

David Dayen, "Tom Perez Should Resign, Preferably Today: Tom Perez should never have been DNC chair. He was used as part of a proxy war between Barack Obama's faction of the establishment and the rest of the party, which was fully ready to move on after the 2016 mess. Both Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer had embraced Keith Ellison, one of Bernie Sanders's top surrogates in 2016, for the position, a show of unity that might have helped rebuild broken bonds within the party. Just as Howard Dean's elevation to DNC chair in 2005 brought insurgents within a broader circle of power, Ellison's victory would have at least attempted a rough union between the Sanders and Clinton forces, and given the party's left wing more of a shot at creating a strong and legitimate message to counter Donald Trump. Obama couldn't handle it. He pressured Perez, who was musing about running for governor in Maryland, into the race, and bore down on the establishment to break with the Ellison unity shtick and accept his preferred candidate. This eventually succeeded, with the help of a party coup in Puerto Rico that delivered Perez all of that delegation's votes. Obama, now a movie studio boss and occasional public speaker, had no personal reason to force Perez on the party. The most logical reading of his rationale would be that he did it for the blob, the network of consultants, strategists, pollsters, lobbyists, policy mandarins, and media figures for whom politics is their business. They didn't want the spigot to close on the hundreds of millions of dollars that flow through campaigns, and they needed to eliminate the threat of a gatekeeper like Ellison, who might have different ideas. So Perez was installed. The disastrous past week of Democratic politics is the result, deeply damaging the perceived competence of a party that is attempting to ask the American people to put them back in power to engage in activist government. The Iowa results weren't just one snafu but part of a pattern of self-dealing and stupidity within a party elite that's more concerned with staying in power than taking power."

"Emily's List Weighs In Hard In Texas Primary — Against A Leading Woman In The Trump Resistance: EMILY'S LIST IS dumping big money into an upcoming Democratic primary in Texas's 7th Congressional District, pitting the women's group against a pro-choice woman who was, in the months after the election of Donald Trump, a face of the resistance. Laura Moser, as creator of the popular text-messaging program Daily Action, gave hundreds of thousands of despondent progressives a single political action to take each day. Her project was emblematic of the new energy forming around the movement against Trump, led primarily by women and often by moms. (Moser is both.) It was those types of activists EMILY's List spent 2017 encouraging to make first-time bids for office. But that doesn't mean EMILY's List will get behind them. Also running is Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, a corporate lawyer who is backed by Houston mega-donor Sherry Merfish. EMILY's List endorsed her in November."

"Michael Bloomberg Is Legitimately Dangerous [...] Bloomberg is poaching staffers from smaller races, paying well above market rate and offering huge perks like housing and free laptops and iPhones. What's really terrible is that it sounds like he's repeatedly done this right before those candidates' elections or other critical points in their campaign, 'hobbling their political program,' as one operative put it, and leading to the election of Republican opponents."

"When Bloomberg News's Reporting on China Was Challenged, Bloomberg Tried to Ruin Me for Speaking Out: I AM ONE of the many women Mike Bloomberg's company tried to silence through nondisclosure agreements. The funny thing is, I never even worked for Bloomberg. But my story shows the lengths that the Bloomberg machine will go to in order to avoid offending Beijing. Bloomberg's company, Bloomberg LP, is so dependent on the vast China market for its business that its lawyers threatened to devastate my family financially if I didn't sign an NDA silencing me about how Bloomberg News killed a story critical of Chinese Communist Party leaders. It was only when I hired Edward Snowden's lawyers in Hong Kong that Bloomberg LP eventually called off their hounds after many attempts to intimidate me."

"Mike Bloomberg is not the lesser of two evils [...] Does this sound like a guy who would do anything substantial to reverse Trump's worst policies? If we're lucky, he might reverse the Muslim ban and let a few people out of the CBP camps. If we're not, he'll implement a much quieter and more effective version of the same policies, and partisan Democrats will reverse-engineer justifications for these being somehow necessary (or just ignore them, as they did during the Obama years). Recall that Bloomberg once argued that every Social Security card should have fingerprints so unauthorized immigrants would be unable to get jobs. [...] Given his wretched politics, even Bloomberg's superior competence is a mark against him. Right now one tiny silver lining of the Trump administration is that the people trying to commit atrocities through the federal bureaucracy are so inept they keep fumbling the legal procedures and getting stopped in the courts. Bloomberg is sure to appoint competent authoritarian maniacs."

"A Republican Plutocrat Tries To Buy The Democratic Nomination: No Democrat should consider Michael Bloomberg as a candidate. The idea of Michael Bloomberg becoming the Democratic presidential nominee should be too absurd to even consider seriously. For one thing, he is a conservative who openly believes that the poor should be ruled over by the super-rich and is trying to buy the nomination outright. He has a history of saying monstrously offensive things about women and transgender people, and oversaw an infamous racist police regime that terrorized Black and Hispanic New Yorkers. If he did somehow manage to spend his way to the nomination, bypassing the democratic process, it would be such an outrage—and so demoralizing to the Democratic base—that it would guarantee Trump's reelection. If the choice were between two sexist billionaires who hate the poor, how many young people would drag themselves to the polls to support 'our side's' billionaire? It would permanently disillusion an entire generation and vindicate every cynical theory of politics as a domain where money rules absolutely. But, troublingly, Michael Bloomberg's candidacy has not entirely been laughed out of the room. [...] "

In USA Today, Stop Bloomberg. He's showing billionaires how to buy the presidency and it's dangerous. How far would you go to get rid of President Donald Trump? Would you give up any pretense that we live in a democracy of the people, by the people, for the people? That seems to be the bet Mike Bloomberg is making. [...] While it might feel comforting to have our self-made real billionaire beat the spray tan off the fake mismanager of his daddy's wealth, here's the spoiler: You don't have any billionaires; they have you. And once they figure out it's easier and cheaper to buy the presidency than an NFL franchise, the excesses of Trump — or even King George III — will seem trivial in comparison."

Peter Beinart in The Atlantic, "Regular Democrats Just Aren't Worried About Bernie: Many in the party elite remain deeply skeptical of the Vermont senator, but rank-and-file voters do not share that hesitation. [...] Judging by media coverage and the comments of party luminaries, you might think Democrats are bitterly polarized over Bernie Sanders's presidential bid. Last month, Hillary Clinton declared that 'nobody likes' the Vermont senator. Last week, James Carville, who ran Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign, said he was 'scared to death' of the Sanders campaign, which he likened to 'a cult.' Since the beginning of the year, news organization after news organization has speculated that Sanders's success may set off a Democratic 'civil war.' But polls of Democratic voters show nothing of the sort. Among ordinary Democrats, Sanders is strikingly popular, even with voters who favor his rivals. He sparks less opposition—in some cases far less—than his major competitors. On paper, he appears well positioned to unify the party should he win its presidential nomination. So why all the talk of civil war? Because Sanders is far more divisive among Democratic elites—who prize institutional loyalty and ideological moderation—than Democratic voters. The danger is that by projecting their own anxieties onto rank-and-file Democrats, party insiders are exaggerating the risk of a schism if Sanders wins the nomination, and overlooking the greater risk that the party could fracture if they engineer his defeat."

"AT&T is doing exactly what it told Congress it wouldn't do with Time Warner: AT&T's decision to prevent Time Warner-owned shows from streaming on Netflix and other non-AT&T services reduced the company's quarterly revenue by $1.2 billion, a sacrifice that AT&T is making to give its planned HBO Max service more exclusive content. AT&T took the $1.2-billion hit despite previously telling Congress that it would not restrict distribution of Time Warner content, claiming that would be 'irrational business behavior.'" And no one is surprised — they asked for it, they got it, and of course they asked for it because they planned to use it.

"AIPAC Is Helping Fund Anti-Bernie Sanders Super PAC Ads In Nevada: THE AMERICAN ISRAEL Public Affairs Committee is helping to fund a Super PAC launching attack ads against Sen. Bernie Sanders in Nevada on Saturday, according to two sources with knowledge of the arrangement. The ads are being run by a group called Democratic Majority for Israel, founded by longtime AIPAC strategist Mark Mellman. The Nevada attack ads, which will air in media markets in Reno and Las Vegas, follow a similar spending blitz by DMFI ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Like the ads that aired in Iowa, the Nevada ads will attack Sanders on the idea that he's not electable, Mediaite reported."

"Feminist Scholar Barbara Smith on Identity Politics & Why She Supports Bernie Sanders for President [...] The reason I support Bernie Sanders is because of the fact that he has a theory of change. You know, that's a popular phrase now. He has an understanding of like why things are not working in our U.S. society, and he has ideas like Medicare and healthcare for all, like changing the criminal justice system, like having access to college for all young people and not just for those who are privileged. He has good ideas about how we can actually fulfill that promise that the Founders supposedly put out, in their very flawed way, since they didn't really include people like me. They didn't include women. They didn't include black people. But they had some great ideas about freedom and justice for all. He has the plans. He has the passion and the compassion. He has the base of support, which is much more diverse than, I think, any of the other candidate at this point."

In The New Republic, "The Obsolete Politics of James Carville: The Clinton-era avatar of respectable Democratic politics continues to confuse elite opinion with public sentiment [...] Times change, however. At present, Carville represents much that's wrong with the Democratic Party—its refusal to learn from its mistakes; its obsession with appealing to wealthy suburbanites while telling its traditional base of the working class and people of color to suck it up because the Republicans are worse; its preference for the performative over the substantive (Pelosi ripped the speech!); and, above all else, the belief that 'operatives' and 'consultants' know the pulse of the nation and can soothsay the will of the common man. [...] Carville is the most skilled practitioner of a hobby common to his social and political stratum: ascribing to 'the working class'—or simply 'voters'—a resistance to any kind of change that inconveniences people like James Carville. Simply put, his performances seek to demonstrate the remarkable coincidence that 'voters,' particularly of the central casting Average Joe variety, dislike all of the same things he dislikes."

Everyone is posting this study but just for the record, "Medicare For All Would Save $450 Billion Annually While Preventing 68,000 Deaths, New Study Shows: The Medicare For All plan proposed by Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars each year and would prevent tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths, a new study shows. The analysis, conducted by researchers at Yale University, the University of Florida and the University of Maryland, found that transitioning the U.S. to a single-payer health care system would actually save an estimated $450 billion each year, with the average American family seeing about $2,400 in annual savings. The research, which was published Saturday in the medical journal The Lancet, also found that Medicare for all would prevent about 68,000 unnecessary deaths per year. 'Our study is actually conservative because it doesn't factor in the lives saved among underinsured Americans—which includes anyone who nominally has insurance but has postponed or foregone care because they couldn't afford the copays and deductibles,' Alison Galvani, an author of the study and researcher at the Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis at the Yale School of Public Health, told Newsweek."

Dday, "Welcome to the Bullshit Economy: The Iowa caucus disaster is a function of a broken economic structure that rewards con artistry over competence. [...] But the spectacle has highlighted a much more consequential problem in America, something I have called the bullshit economy. We've seen elements of it all over the place. When MoviePass offers unlimited screenings for ten bucks a month, when Uber gets an $82 billion valuation for a low-margin taxi business it has never made a dime on, when WeWork implodes after the slightest scrutiny into its numbers, that's the bullshit economy at work. We have seen the farcical bullshit of Juicero and the consequential bullshit of Theranos. Even at the highest levels, bullshit pervades, in fraudulent advertising metrics and fake numbers peddled to convince the world to siphon cash through Facebook and Google's dominant platforms. So many counterfeit goods pass through Amazon that the site might get listed on the U.S. Trade Representative Office's 'Notorious Markets' list. We have endured the more comprehensive bullshit of the financial industry marking corporate progress by manipulated stock prices and air rather than productive advances for society. We had a financial crisis based on bullshitters telling us housing prices would endlessly rise. We have the bullshit of the private equity industry extracting value from companies through the skillful use of debt and other financial engineering, without regard for whether the companies succeed or fail."

Also Dday, "Michael Bloomberg and the Dangers of 'Any Blue Will Do' Politics: The presidential candidate is a mirror image of Trump. [...] And I'm going to say something controversial. There has been plenty of conjecture over whether a Trump-like figure could take over the Democratic Party. And I would say with Bloomberg that we're about to find out. The cries of 'Bloomberg is not Trump!' will rain down on me now, and, of course, he's not. But there are a disturbing number of similarities. We have a figure without connections or the same value system as the party he seeks to represent, with racial and sexist skeletons in his closet, and a penchant for subverting democracy and showing contempt toward the rule of law. Democrats who are acting as pundits and thinking that Bloomberg offers the most certain close to the Trump era are playing with a stick of dynamite. [...] Too many Democrats have spent the Trump era looking for a Republican 'daddy' to rein in the toddler-in-chief and restore both Republican and American decency. From John Bolton and James Mattis to Jeff Flake and Mitt Romney, surely some conservative with courage and self-respect would step up and straighten things out. I think it would be a disaster to extend this delusion by actually nominating a Republican to lead the Democratic Party."

In which George Soros writes a letter to The Financial Times demanding the temporary removal of Zuckerberg and Sandberg until the general election is over.

"'Utterly Shameful': Pelosi Slammed for Boosting Koch-Backed Texas Democrat Over Progressive Challenger Jessica Cisneros: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stirred outrage Saturday by visiting Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar at his campaign headquarters in Laredo and voicing hope that the Koch-backed, anti-choice Democrat will ride to a "resounding victory" over progressive primary challenger Jessica Cisneros on March 3." Also, why is his SuperPAC called "Voter Protection Project" instead of Cuueller SuperPAC?

FAIR, "Factchecking NPR's Attempted Takedown of Bernie Sanders" - My favorite bit is this one: "As the two journalists continued to chat, Liasson took closer aim at Sanders, stating with bold authority that 'you don't even need to do the research part of oppo-research because his policy positions are opposed by big majorities of Americans.' Clearly, these journalists did little to no research preparing for this important broadcast. So many polls have documented what the public thinks about Sanders' policy positions, and the evidence is overwhelming: From a wealth tax to minimum wage, they are extremely popular."

"Joe Biden, Ukraine, nazis, John Conyers and the fall election" — Russ Bellant, an award winning journalist and author of Old Nazis in the Republican Party, says that the story of the Bidens and Ukrain is a lot more complicated than we know, and there are no good guys.

Oh, my The Washington Post admits, "Bolivia dismissed its October elections as fraudulent. Our research found no reason to suspect fraud. Bolivians will hold a new election in May — without ousted president Evo Morales As Bolivia gears up for a do-over election on May 3, the country remains in unrest following the Nov. 10 military-backed coup against incumbent President Evo Morales. A quick recap: Morales claimed victory in October's election, but the opposition protested about what it called electoral fraud. A Nov. 10 report from the Organization of American States (OAS) noted election irregularities, which 'leads the technical audit team to question the integrity of the results of the election on October 20.' Police then joined the protests and Morales sought asylum in Mexico. The military-installed government charged Morales with sedition and terrorism. A European Union monitoring report noted that some 40 former electoral officials have been arrested and face criminal charges of sedition and subversion, and 35 people have died in the post-electoral conflict. The highest-polling presidential candidate, a member of Morales's Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS-IPSP) party, has received a summons from prosecutors for undisclosed crimes, a move some analysts suspect was aimed to keep him off the ballot. The media has largely reported the allegations of fraud as fact. And many commentators have justified the coup as a response to electoral fraud by MAS-IPSP. However, as specialists in election integrity, we find that the statistical evidence does not support the claim of fraud in Bolivia's October election."

RIP: Derek Fowlds, 82: "The actor Derek Fowlds, who has died aged 82, enjoyed long-running stardom on the small screen in popular TV shows ranging from children's programmes to sitcom and drama." And most vividly remembered by me from Yes, Minister.

RIP: "Legendary Rock Poster Artist Bonnie MacLean Dead at 80." Those iconic Fillmore posters were instantly recognizable to us all.

This article is by a career Bernie-hating journalist — it's what he does — but it's pretty clear that Bernie had an important role is preventing Obama from passing chained CPI, and thus saving many lives and homes. "The Hidden History of Sanders's Plot to Primary Obama." I liked Atrios' take on the portrayal of the argument between Obama and Sanders over chained CPI when Obama responded to Sanders' opposition by saying, "'You're acting like I'm the enemy.' Obama was trying to say, 'I hear you that you want this revolution, but explain to me, how's this going to happen?" Atrios: "Not cutting Social Security is a fucking revolution." Luckily, Sanders' "revolution" won.

Just for the record, Glenn Greenwald answered the whole BernieBro scam four years ago with "The 'Bernie Bros' Narrative: a Cheap Campaign Tactic Masquerading as Journalism and Social Activism."

"Norway Is Far More Socialist Than Venezuela." Of course, our right-wing pundits are happy to make bold statements about what makes Venezuela "socialist" without actually making the comparison with other countries.

"How Bernie Sanders Should Talk About Venezuela and US Intervention in Latin America [...] As mayor of Burlington in the 1980s he found time in between initiatives to build affordable housing and transition the Burlington Electric Department to renewable energy to speak out against Reagan's dirty war in Nicaragua. He needs to draw on that understanding now, using silly red-baiting questions about Venezuela as an opportunity to talk about how and why he would pursue a foreign policy as president that would be fundamentally different from that of any of his predecessors."

"'Bernie or Bust' Voters Have a Point [...] Yes, it sounds like ugly hostage taking—not a brilliant persuasive strategy but a crude ego-boosting exercise for a group of leftists who can't resist the impulse to lord some power over an electorate that doesn't normally consider them relevant. But that's exactly what makes it so normal, even understandable, in a depressing 'we're all human' sort of way. Because the truth is this: Every threat these Sanders stans are explicitly making is one the venerated Centrist Swing Voter makes implicitly—and isn't judged for. The centrist never even has to articulate his threat. The media narrates it for him. 'What does the swing voter want?' is the kind of question that rescues this brand of voter from owning or even admitting any moral consequences at all. The question is framed as sensible, and so is its subject. The swing voter—which, let's be clear, is diminishing in this political landscape—is typically treated as the antithesis of a Bernie stan: as a rational and passionless subject (as if contemplating just not voting in an election were a morally neutral choice). That the swing voter is arguably worse than the Bernie or Bust crew—in that in lieu of just staying home and not voting at all, he might actually vote for the other guy—doesn't even register. That's how accustomed we all are to being held hostage to the centrist concerns. As for leftists, who are undeniably real? Well, the Democratic machine has never wondered what they thought; it's simply taken them for granted. After all, who else are they going to vote for?"

"Make America Radical Again: A Conversation with Harvey J. Kaye [...] Harvey Kaye: We're confronting not only the Trump Administration and a truly corrupt and reactionary political regime, but also 45 years of corporate class war from above — a class war that is not just economic for it involves assaults on the rights of workers, women, and people of color — a class war that not only conservative and reactionary Republicans but also neoliberal Democrats have advanced. All of which led to the Trump presidency... And we now face a crisis...."

"The Problem with Alinsky: Saul Alinsky's work formed the intellectual basis of what we call community organising today — but his ideas were deeply hostile to the Left, and should be treated with caution."

Joanna Russ' papers are online, including her correspondence with James Tiptree, Jr./Alice Sheldon.

Just in case you didn't have enough podcasts to listen to, let me recommend You're Wrong About, which tells you a lot of things you didn't know about our cultural stories and how most people have it all wrong.

"Opinion Rhapsody" is pretty well done.

"Someone Built a Distraction-Free Cellphone With a Working Old-School Rotary Dial."

Peter Parker finally gets his driver's licence.

00:51 GMT comment


Thursday, 13 February 2020

Now I know you're not the only starfish in the sea

Bernie won New Hampshire, but it doesn't seem he gets more delegates out of it than second-placer Buttigieg. Klobuchar obviously got some mileage from all that media love, leaving Warren and Biden distant fourth and fifth, respectively. Meanwhile, Yang dropped out and Tom Steyer appears to be teetering on the brink. (Naturally, the headlines are all about Amy and Pete, not Bernie's win.)

It's still unclear who officially won the Democratic caucuses in Iowa, despite Sanders having more votes in both the first and second round. Buttigieg declared victory first with 0% reporting, then later with 38% of the vote still unreported and the news media seemed happy to let him, but even with the convoluted reasoning they use, his lead was drying up as a few more of the late-reporters started coming in. And then Tom Perez said they needed a re-caucus. The facts we have: Sanders got the most votes. But doesn't get the most delegates.

R.J. Eskow, "Iowa Wasn't a Technology Failure. It Was a Failure of Democratic Values. This kind of behavior undercuts the Democratic Party politically. To put it in today's corporatized vocabulary, "democracy" is the party's brand—and lately they've been trashing it. [...] On its face, the level of incompetence leading up to the Iowa fiasco seems almost incomprehensible. First, a party that has spent the last three years talking about data hacking took a manual process and shifted it onto on one of the most hackable devices in the world: a cell phone. Then, having created a vulnerability where there had been none, it spent more money protecting itself from this self-created vulnerability. The technology in question was then rushed into production without proper training for its users, when the stakes for democracy were high—and the whole world was watching. Crazy, right? Actually, no. It all makes perfect sense—once you realized that the software was only a secondary concern for the people involved. Max Blumenthal reports that Shadow Inc, the software company that produced the app, had ties to the Buttigieg campaign both as a contractor and (through its top funder) as a donor. ( 'Shadow Inc'? Really? Were all the best evil names taken, like 'Spectre' and 'Hydra?') Shadow Inc's website says that its employees are veterans of the Clinton and Obama campaigns, as well as the DNC—although, like the Men in Black, it refuses to identify its operatives by name. This reinforces the sense of an insider clique with an interest in the caucus results, rather than a team of the most qualified tech experts. As Blumenthal observes, 'the conspiracy theories write themselves.' The technology failed, but the deal-making worked just fine. Its underlying purpose wasn't to produce an app, or any other product. The deal was the product. The app was merely the residue of an agreed-upon cash transfer among insiders. Its functionality was a secondary concern."

"Sam Seder RIPS Into Iowa Caucus App and Democratic Swamp." — You could say we got Mooked again.

FiveThirtyEight shows Sanders now leading nationally, though RealClearPolitics tells a different story with Biden still slightly ahead of him, and Bloomberg ahead of him.

It's worth right-clicking this link for an incognito window to see just how dangerous McKinsey Pete really is: "Buttigieg health plan hinges on 'supercharged' version of unpopular Obamacare mandate: Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg sells his health-care plan as a moderate alternative to Medicare-for-all — offering a government-sponsored plan to those who want it while letting others keep their private and employer-sponsored insurance. But the South Bend, Ind., mayor's plan has a catch: If you choose not to enroll in any coverage, you could still be on the hook for thousands of dollars. Under Buttigieg's proposal, Americans who lack coverage would be automatically enrolled in the government plan, potentially saddling them with a big bill at the end of the year for 'retroactive' coverage. [...] 'Instead of paying a $695 fine at the end of the year for being uninsured, you are hit with a bill to pay an entire year of premiums that could be ten times that amount,' he said. 'This will be a political nightmare.'"

Joseph Stiglitz, "The Truth About the Trump Economy." Wages are still low, Americans are dying of "diseases of despair" in record numbers, but the Democrats, for some reason, let Trump go on crowing about his "great" economy as if it were true. I wonder why that is?

"Bernie Sanders leads Donald Trump in polls, even when you remind people he's a socialist" - being called a socialist in polls doesn't seem to hurt Sanders much - maybe even less than being called a Democrat.

At The Toledo Blade, recognition that Trump will have a hard time getting under Sanders' skin, "How Bernie Sanders hangs in: THE BIGGEST national political story of the holidays was a sleeper: the resilience of Bernie Sanders. After flirtations with various new flavors and saviors — Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, to name two — the two old white guys are still standing and, in polling terms, stronger than ever. Even the promise of Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg has faded. But whereas Joe Biden seems permanently diminished by his own verbal and intellectual confusion and by his son's self-dealing, Bernie is getting stronger."

"'We Will Not Be Intimidated': Journalist Glenn Greenwald Defiant After Being Charged With Cybercrimes By Right-Wing Bolsonaro Brazilian Government: Journalist Glenn Greenwald hit back after being charged with cybercrimes by Brazilian authorities Tuesday in connection to his reporting on corruption in the country, saying he would fight to defend the right to a free press and his right to report the truth. [...] The move to charge Greenwald by the right-wing government of President Jair Bolsonaro was quickly and forcefully condemned by progressives and journalists around the world. [...] Prosecutors claim that Greenwald—who has lived in Brazil with his husband, David Miranda, for many years—is at the center of a "criminal conspiracy" to hack cellphones of government officials."

Tom Perez ensures tilted scales by nominating staunch anti-Bernie people to the 2020 Democratic National Convention committees. Have a look at who those people are.

The New Republic, "Tom Perez Stacks the DNC Deck Against Progressives: A rogues' gallery of influence-peddlers and insider power brokers will run the party's powerful convention committees.." I think what irritates me most is remembering all those people who insisted that we shouldn't be upset about how Perez was inserted into the race against Ellison because after all the head of the DNC has no power to do anything.

The DNC changed the rules for the debates to allow a Republican, Michael Bloomberg, to participate. This inspired The Onion, "DNC Mulls Asking Donald Trump To Run As Democrat In Effort To Stop Sanders [...] 'He's obviously not our first choice, but Trump has a track record of winning elections, not to mention he does well with the conservative voters we'll need to swing some red states blue—if that's who we need to ask to ensure Bernie doesn't win, we'll do it,' said DNC chairman Tom Perez, who had circled Trump's name on a white board listing dozens of potential candidates the party could try to convince to jump into the Democratic Party primaries in order to obstruct a Sanders nomination."

"The Stop Bernie Movement Is Inherently Anti-American," but one thing I like about the Stop Bernie movement is that they have ads that probably convince more normal people to vote for him.

"Why the centrist extremists are an incredibly dangerous political animal" — mainly because they have a constituency of about 3.8% of the population and keep trying to pretend they are the entire voting public except for a few "extremist crackpots, when in fact those "extremists" make up nearly three-quarters of the electorate.

The Onion, "Liberals Say Sanders's Acceptance Of Rogan Endorsement Sends Dangerous Message He Trying To Win Election [...] Griffin added that it was even more disturbing that Sanders would attempt this during an election year."

End of Blame Game: Sanders (and His Supporters) Helped Hillary Win Popular Vote in 2016: Sanders voters were an indispensable contribution to her popular vote tallies. [...] If Sanders voters hadn't voted for Clinton, she would have lost. Badly. Not just the national popular vote either.....Clinton would have lost all the states she lost anyway but by larger margins, and would have also lost New Hampshire, New Mexico and Minnesota by even the more expansive figure, Virginia"

"Hillary Clinton is still trying to sell herself as a feminist icon. Don't buy it: The real issue of 'representation' isn't that there aren't enough powerful women. It's that what is represented as feminism is actually corporatism."

She has actually vaguely walked back on what the headline here is, but it's really not about that, anyway, but about the dishonestly of Clinton's claims. "Hillary Clinton Won't Commit to Endorsing Sanders If He Wins Nomination [...] It is true that Bernie Sanders has been in Congress for years and that Jeff Merkley was the only senator to endorse him in the 2016 primary. But everything else Clinton says here is false. Eight members of Congress have endorsed the Vermont senator this cycle, including the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and three of the House's most prominent first-term congresswomen. The fact that these lawmakers have rallied to Sanders's side — despite the presence of another viable progressive candidate in the race — suggests that they have a high-level of interest in working with him." [...] The notion that Sanders 'got nothing done' over his long tenure in Washington is also untrue. During his 16 years in the House, Sanders passed more amendments than any other member of Congress, shoehorning small progressive wins into must-pass legislation." The come-back to this is always some variation on, "Oh, just amendments. Anybody could do that." They never realize that this raises the question: Why didn't they? Why did Bernie Sanders have to be the one to write and get passed over 90 amendments? Why didn't Hillary Clinton write and pass even one amendment? Bernie wrote amendments and got a lot of good things done - and they didn't. Why is that?

"Key House Democrat says Perez must go: 'He doesn't lead on anything': A top Democratic voice on election reform is calling for the ouster of Tom Perez, the powerful chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) who has come under fire following the Iowa caucuses. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the House Administration Committee's subpanel on elections, said Perez has failed to take responsibility for the Iowa vote-counting debacle as it unfolded this week, instead shifting blame on lower-ranking party leaders in Des Moines. [...] Fudge, the former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, also accused Perez of neglecting DNC promises to diversify the organization with more minority leaders, citing as an example the DNC's recent personnel shake up in Milwaukee, where the Democrats are set to hold their convention in July. [...] Fudge also went after Perez over reports that the DNC had approved — and later retracted — a lucrative exit package for the chairman and two of his top deputies."

You know, I can't help the feeling that Matt Yglesias is starting to feel the Bern. "Bernie Sanders showed us he's a very skilled politician: He's a much savvier operator than the establishment gives him credit for."

RIP: "Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin creator MC Beaton dies aged 83 Marion Chesney Gibbons, who wrote under the pseudonym MC Beaton, was the prolific author of the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin crime novels." - I never read the books, but I loved the TV show and, of course, that's where we discovered Robert Carlyle.

RIP: Kirk Douglas at 103: "No actor now would dare to perform with the zest and belief that drove him. In Douglas, we can recognise a kind of acting that seems as antique, as 'period', precious and charming as the way the Gish sisters fluttered their hands and widened their eyes in the silent era. No one now is capable of the fun that Douglas had, or all the conviction he brought to good work and garbage alike. But he was Kirk Douglas — and others were not." He was also the last surviving cast member of the 1954 film 20,000 Under the Sea.

Robert Kuttner in The American Prospect, "Was Putin Inevitable?: How policy blunders under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush helped bring about a post-communist Russia hostile to democracy, free markets, and the West [...] The Western officials who inflicted raw, uncushioned shock therapy on Russia's economy and needlessly treated Russia as a defeated enemy rather than a new security partner virtually invited a nationalist reaction likely to produce a Vladimir Putin or someone like him. This observation doesn't make Putin a good guy. Quite the contrary: He is a thug, an autocrat, and an ally of kleptocrats. But the history shows that the twin conceits of America as sole superpower and abrupt marketization as the cure for communism interacted to create a needless catastrophe that ranks with the Treaty of Versailles. The fact that an American president has been enlisted as Putin's agent only deepens the disaster. The rise of Hitler, at least, paralleled the ascent of Roosevelt."

"Thomas Frank: Bill Clinton's Five Major Achievements Were Longstanding GOP Objectives [...] Clinton never had a really great relationship with workers' organizations, but the worst thing Clinton he did to them was NAFTA. There were many trade agreements, of course, but NAFTA was the one that mattered, both because it was the first one and because labor put everything into stopping it. Indeed labor had stopped it when George H. W. Bush tried to get it through Congress. Clinton got it done, however, with a little muscle and a vast fog of preposterous claims about how NAFTA would increase exports and manufacturing employment. His admirers saw NAFTA as his 'finest hour,; because he had stood up to a traditional Democratic constituency. What an achievement. NAFTA handed employers all over America the ultimate weapon against workers: They could now credibly threaten to pick up and leave at the slightest show of worker backbone — and they make such threats all the time now."

Thom Hartmann, "The Republican Party has been running a long con on America since Reagan's inauguration, and somehow our nation's media has missed it — even though it was announced in The Wall Street Journal in the 1970s and the GOP has clung tenaciously to it ever since.: This scam has been killing wages and enriching billionaires for decades [...] First, when Republicans control the federal government, and particularly the White House, spend money like a drunken sailor and run up the US debt as far and as fast as possible. This produces three results — it stimulates the economy thus making people think that the GOP can produce a good economy, it raises the debt dramatically, and it makes people think that Republicans are the 'tax-cut Santa Claus.' Second, when a Democrat is in the White House, scream about the national debt as loudly and frantically as possible, freaking out about how 'our children will have to pay for it!' and 'we have to cut spending to solve the crisis!' This will force the Democrats in power to cut their own social safety net programs, thus shooting their welfare-of-the-American-people Santa Claus."

"2 truths and 31 lies Joe Biden has told about his work in the Civil Rights Movement: Since the early 1970s, Joe Biden has been a serial liar when it comes to his "work" in the Civil Rights Movement. It's the equivalent of stolen valor and is fundamentally disqualifying. [...] Temporarily, Joe Biden paid a price for most of those lies, but was never fully held to account for the worst of them all. On the backs of people who actually paid an enormous price for being activists and organizers in the Civil Rights Movement, Joe Biden created a completely false narrative of his work and contributions to the movement that persists to this very day. Instead of plagiarized speeches, he was plagiarizing details about his actual life. He not only told these lies in previous generations, they have now fully returned to his current stump speeches in churches and venues around the country as if he never acknowledged and apologized for them in the past. It's shameful. Below is a full accounting of every lie Joe Biden has told about his work in the Civil Rights Movement. First, though, we must begin with two truths."

"Ep. 10: Reconsidering Ralph (feat. Ralph Nader) ["RUMBLE with Michael Moore" podcast]" - in which Michael recalls asking Al Gore if he blamed Nader for his loss, and Gore said, "Absolutely not. I blame me."

Nick Hanauer's Pitchfork Economics: "How Neoliberalism Captured Democrats (With James Kwak)" Recommended.

"The Enemies of Truth: What is George Packer so afraid of?" This is a marvelous essay about the distinction between self-important journalists who think they're too good to take criticism from their readers and journalists who actually try to get the job done. "As Packer reminds us, Hitchens once said that 'views do not really count.' 'It matters not what you think,' he said, 'but how you think.' The remark is important because it is wrong. The views counted a great deal to the Iraqis. By the time the bombs fell, it mattered little how many strokes of the chin sent them down. And that is why a writer's ultimate obligation isn't to any particular mode of discourse, but to the truth."

A great deal of how Democrats behave is down to one thing: "It's Intimidation, Not 'Moderation' [...] One early line stood out to me, 'Democrats are afraid of appearing weak on defense.' This line says so much about our national discourse. We are so used to hearing it. Democrats do things because they are afraid of how things they do and say will 'appear.' They don't want to 'be seen as' holding certain positions that trigger a certain response. Just how does that 'appearance' reach the public? Through our nation's information channels. Think about this. In a supposed democracy members of the country's majority party are 'afraid' of how they will be 'made to appear' if they do not conform to certain positions."

New from Ansible Editions, Homefront: Fandom in the UK: 1939-1945. "Another massive fanhistorical compilation by Rob Hansen, this time focusing on British fandom during World War Two. Homefront brings together a great many first-hand accounts of wartime experience through fannish eyes, showing how the lines of communication between fans continued during that huge national disruption — and so, somehow, did the fannish sense of humour. Ansible Editions ebook added to the TAFF free library on 1 February 2020. 161,500 words." Comes with an online photogallery.

In which Walt Willis invents Nudgism.

The Cyrkle, "Red Rubber Ball"

05:59 GMT comment


Friday, 24 January 2020

Another runaway post

You can see more pretty oils by Zingitis here.

Digby has a new address.

Michael Moore's podcast, Rumble, has an interview with Anand Giridharadas about how the incredibly rich scam us into giving up more and more of our lives, and try to get us to love them for it, "Please Let Me Rob You, I'm Woke. [...] But what happens when the very people hoarding this wealth at the expense of democracy, the environment and an equitable society, re-brand themselves as the people who will fix society's problems? What happens when the arsonists pose as the firefighters?"

"Virginia Votes to Ratify ERA, Setting Up Likely Legal Battle: Court ruling or congressional action likely needed to override 1982 deadline Virginia on Wednesday became the 38th state to vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, teeing up an expected legal battle over whether the approval counts. The Trump administration has said the ratification deadline expired by 1982, a decade after Congress first passed the ERA, which would enshrine women's equality in the U.S. Constitution. It may take a court ruling or congressional action to override that decision and determine whether the vote in Virginia, which pushed the number of ERA-approving states across a necessary three-fourths threshold, should lead to amending the Constitution.:" Well, I wasn't expecting that headline at this late date!

"Bernie Sanders leads Donald Trump by widest margin of all 2020 candidates: election poll: SurveyUSA asked 4,069 registered voters nationwide how they would vote in an election today if Trump was pitted against each of the 2020 candidates in the Democratic race. The progressive Vermont independent came out on top. The poll found that 52 percent of voters would choose Sanders and 43 percent Trump, giving the veteran senator a nine-point lead. Next was former vice president Joe Biden at 50 percent to Trump's 43 percent, a seven-point lead."

Hillary Clinton came out to lead her hate-fest against Bernie Sanders again, claiming no one likes him and he can't build coalitions. The Atlantic debunked this one ages ago, showing that Democrats and Republicans alike have praised him on this very thing. Not that it should be necessary, since, as surely everyone knows, Bernie Sanders was co-founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and chaired it for its first eight years, so it sure looks like he is used to working with others. But even Peter and Leela Daou, having come to their senses and remembered what they actually believe in after getting wound up defending Hillary for two years, came right out in public to say that, "I worked for Hillary Clinton. Her attacks on Bernie Sanders are a big mistake: Why is Clinton amplifying destructive myths about Sanders and his supporters just weeks before the primaries begin?"

"S. Carolina elected official now backing Sanders over Biden: COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina elected official who endorsed Joe Biden last month is switching her allegiance to Bernie Sanders in the state's first-in-the-South presidential primary, saying she had viewed the former vice president — whose support in the state is considered deep -- as 'a compromise choice.' Dalhi Myers told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she was making the change in part because she values what she sees as Sanders' strength in being able to go toe-to-toe with President Donald Trump in the general election. 'I looked at that, and I thought, 'He's right,'' said Myers, a black woman first elected to the Richland County Council in 2016. 'He's unafraid and he's unapologetic. ... I like the fact that he is willing to fight for a better America — for the least, the fallen, the left behind.'"

"We Tortured Some Folks: The Report's Daniel Jones On The Ongoing Fight To Hold The CIA Accountable: MONDAY MARKED THE five-year anniversary of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's executive summary on the CIA's torture program. The former top Senate Intelligence Committee investigator, Daniel Jones, and his team combed through 6.3 million pages of CIA records. Jones discusses the yearslong battle with the Bush and Obama administrations to make public the findings of this still-classified 7,000-page report. In this bonus episode, Jones expands on the torture report findings. Jones is the subject of the new feature film, 'The Report,' starring Adam Driver and Annette Bening, and the host of its companion podcast, 'The Report Podcast,' with Kelly McEvers, where they unpack the story of the CIA's torture program, the Senate's investigation, and the ensuing cover-up.

* * * * *

"Entire Afghanistan War A Fraud, Rich People Scrubbing History"

I need to introduce this Lee Camp video:

Anyone who was paying attention knew that The Most Trusted Names In News were telling you lies for at least the last couple of decades. A lot of us warned that false information was being funneled into an ever-contracting news-gathering apparatus controlled by self-serving billionaires who happily broadcast single-sourced press releases straight from the White House and/or the Republican Party, unedited, to your pages and screens without any real investigation. You weren't allowed to argue with these obvious lies in American mass media. There might have been the occasional op-ed from some college professor few had heard of expressing doubts, but it might as well not have been there for all the acknowledgement it received from broadcast media. Phil Donahue was fired from his popular slot on MSNBC for opposing the invasion of Iraq, something that should have generated wall-to-wall outrage from working journalists of every stripe, but it was barely reported and was forgotten within days instead. The only person who was allowed to express those doubts on the air at all was actor Janeane Garafalo - because she could be ridiculed as a mere actress - but at least there was one debater allowed on the air - ironically, on Fox News.

But, pretty much no one at all asked why we had to invade Afghanistan. Surely no one even believed the fantasy that Osama bin Laden was in a high-tech James Bond villain-type cave fully supported by the government of Afghanistan, could they? Everyone knew that bin Laden and his merry band were Saudis, right? When the normally timid Barbara Lee voted against the attack on Afghanistan, she was the sole member of Congress to do so, which generated lots of hate for her on Fox but no defense from fellow Democrats. We went into Afghanistan without a whimper of objection in the "serious" and "respectable" American media.

Be that as it may, when American citizens who want to argue with this blatant propaganda look for an outlet, they generally have to go abroad for a platform. And then they get dismissed by not only the mainstream media but by our very own, "liberal blogosphere"-spawned unpaid social media gatekeepers who seem to think there is anything more reliable about the New York Times or CBS than there is from internet comedians on RT. Bollocks.

* * * * *

"Hear the Bern Episode 32 | Bernie Gets It Done (w/ Warren Gunnels): Next time someone asks you what Bernie has accomplished in his career, send them this podcast and tell them that we had to leave the better part on the cutting room floor just to get it under an hour. Featuring veteran policy advisor to the Senator, Warren Gunnels."

The Maryland Democratic machine actually resisted the prospect of electing the Democrat who won the primaries so much that state elective officials told the press they were supporting the Republican. Ben Jealous was a union guy with progressive policies, so Democrats backed a man who Alex Pareene calls, "The Most Popular Crook in America: The ominous approval ratings of Larry Hogan, the corrupt Republican governor of Maryland Maryland Governor Larry Hogan repeatedly steered state transportation development money to projects that would increase the value of his real estate holdings, according to a lengthy investigation by Washington Monthly's Eric Cortellessa. Cortellessa reports that Hogan, who ostensibly left his brother in charge of his real estate brokerage firm when he was elected, has, in fact, maintained ownership and control while serving as governor; the trustees he handpicked to run his company have continued to keep him apprised of its business dealings. And as governor, he has advanced highway and road construction projects that directly boosted the value of land owned by his company. Those efforts have proved extraordinarily lucrative: During his first three years in office, Hogan reported $2.4 million in income, more than four times his salary. No other governor in the history of the state has made as much, according to Maryland's former Secretary of State John Willis. Hogan, he told Washington Monthly, is the only governor in the history of Maryland 'to have made millions of dollars while in office.' [...] Hogan, on the other hand, is exactly the 'normal' to which politicians like Joe Biden promise to return us when they try to speak into existence a Republican Party that they can 'work with.'"

And since Pareene has been on a roll, check out this earlier piece, "How Political Fact-Checkers Distort the Truth Glenn Kessler and his ilk aren't sticking to the facts. They're promoting a moderate dogma. At the June 28 Democratic presidential debate, Senator Bernie Sanders said, 'Three people [in this country] own more wealth than the bottom half of America.' And Glenn Kessler, who leads The Washington Post's 'Fact Checker' blog, wrote, 'This snappy talking point is based on numbers that add up.' But Kessler, having checked the fact and confirmed that it was true, for some reason continued checking. 'People in the bottom half have essentially no wealth,' he helpfully pointed out. 'So the comparison is not especially meaningful.' That seems like a judgment call best left to, say, a 'meaning-checker,' but Kessler, a former business section editor who happens to be a descendant of Royal Dutch Shell and Procter & Gamble executives—an actual member of the American elite and a likely member of the one percent—makes Sanders the regular target of his attempts to police the bounds of acceptable political realities from his perch at The Washington Post. In June, he dinged Sanders for saying that 'millions of Americans are forced to work two or three jobs'—because, while Sanders was right, at least eight million do work more than one job, 95 percent of Americans don't. His team has also taken on Sanders's claim that health care costs lead to 500,000 bankruptcies a year, going so far as to fact-check the study where Sanders found that statistic. Finding fault with its premises, they declared the study to be untrue, and awarded the candidate three 'Pinocchios' for referencing it. (In the lexicon of the Post's fact-checking department, lies, rather than causing Pinocchio's nose to grow, cause him to spontaneously reproduce, like a very naughty paramecium.) [...] Because Kessler is particularly bad at his job—or, rather, because he is doing a different job, that of a centrist columnist disguised as a fact-checker—he has deflected attention from his competitors, most of whom also routinely mistake elite conventional wisdom for truth. In September, PolitiFact, the venerable fact-checking operation run by the nonprofit Poynter Institute, waded into a fight between Julian Castro and Joe Biden over their health care plans, and found a disputable but eminently supportable claim Castro has made—that there is a 'big difference' between a plan people are automatically enrolled in and one they opt into—to be 'mostly false.' When Elizabeth Warren blamed trade policy for American job losses, an Associated Press fact check said, 'Economists mostly blame those job losses on automation and robots, not trade deals.' Some economists have indeed made that claim, but others vehemently disagree—pointing out that very little, if any, evidence exists to support the automation thesis. What may look like the unquestioned assumptions of centrist economists appear to these organizations, somehow, as cold, hard facts. Ironically, had fact-checkers kept to this narrow interpretation of the facts, they might actually be useful today. Trump deals less in shifty evasions and omissions than he does in clear falsehoods. While some of his claims can be hard to verify, the just-the-facts approach will catch most of his 'whoppers' (to use a highly technical fact-checking term). The trouble is, fact-checkers have expanded their purview from checking strictly empirical statements to 'checking' contestable political statements. As a result, Trump's most glaring whoppers—such as his ludicrous suggestion last April that wind turbines cause cancer—appear no different than Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's contention that it's morally wrong to pay people less than a living wage."

At first when I saw this headline I thought this was The Onion — because it's true. But no, it turns out to be The Washington Post. "The 1% are much more satisfied with their lives than everyone else, survey finds: An NPR/Harvard poll shows that, among the rich, 97 percent say they're living the 'American Dream.'"

Stepping in to sow division, "Yet Another Round of Clinton Smears." He didn't even mention that Clinton was the one with the army of online trolls set up to sow division in the party.

In this segment, Nomiki tells Sam about the time she was getting death threats from the Clinton campaign trolls and she told the DNC to make it stop, and it stopped.

"Andrew Yang and the Failson Mystique," in which Amber A'Lee Frost argues that, "America has already witnessed the largest UBI experiment known to history — the postwar middle-class housewife. And she was utterly miserable."

"Biden Accidentally Makes Case for Medicare for All by Admitting Employers Can Take Away Your Insurance—Even If You Like It: 'No you don't have the choice, but you had the choice to — that's why — I'm not saying, I said, if you like your plan, you can keep it, assuming — I should add the obvious — if your employer doesn't take it away from you. OK?'"

Pretty terrible campaign news here, "Bernie-Elizabeth Tacit Alliance Frays." You can read the piece, but what I get from it is that in a week when French protesters forced Macron to back down on raising the retirement age, more and more of Trump's crimes were exposed and he bragged about selling US troops as mercenaries to Saudi Arabia (or did he just give them away for free?) , and, oh, we had only just recently been on the brink of war (and maybe still are), Elizabeth Warren thought it would be a good idea to make sure the big topic for the last debate before the first primary vote was that Bernie Sanders was sending his campaign out to "trash" her, and then next day "someone" leaked the unlikely claim that Sanders told her two years ago that a woman couldn't win the presidency. (Kristal Ball is on a real tear about this Clintonesque betrayal, and I can't help agreeing with her.) The buzz has been that Warren has hired Hillary's people and if David Brock is one of them this is just the sort of thing he does. This makes Warren look weak, and the fact that she's suddenly shifted to a BernieBro-type of tone just means her advisors are screwing her over. Seems to have backfired. But Taibbi thinks the network was even worse: "CNN's Debate Performance Was Villainous and Shameful: The 24-hour network combines a naked political hit with a cynical ploy for ratings [...] This time, the whole network tossed the mud. Over a 24-hour period before, during, and after the debate, CNN bid farewell to what remained of its reputation as a nonpolitical actor via a remarkable stretch of factually dubious reporting, bent commentary, and heavy-handed messaging." (Taibbi's follow up is "Media Stupidity Is Uniting Left and Right: After CNN's debate ambush and MSNBC's body-language analysis, loathing of media is becoming a crossover phenomenon.")

"Joe Biden Lies to the New York Times About His Attempt to Gut the ACA's Contraceptive Coverage, Rambles Incoherently About the Hyde Amendment: Joe Biden—who somehow continues to be the frontrunner in the Democratic primary despite repeatedly lying about his opposition to the war in Iraq and evincing a decades-long passion for cutting Social Security—also continues to be on his bullshit about everything from his support for the Hyde Amendment to his attempts to gut contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act." Biden had tried to pretend that video of him from C-Span huckstering Social Security cuts that David Sirota put round was "doctored" and that he'd never tried to cut Social Security, which had half of Twitter out with more C-Span videos of him doing the same thing multiple times, and even The Washington Post admits that his record makes him vulnerable.

Democracy NOW!, "Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: Qassem Soleimani Worked with U.S. in Fight Against Taliban & ISIS: [...] But let's take that and apply it to what we're looking at today. In September of 2015, I was in the Roosevelt Room in the White House. President Obama came out of the Oval Office, sat down across from me, with Secretary John Kerry beside him. And we were there ostensibly to be thanked for our help on the nuclear agreement with Iran. The president launched into a 30-minute disquisition that he began with these words: 'There is a bias in this town toward war.' I almost fell off my chair. That's what I teach. But I didn't think that any president, even one who had been in office for seven years, would ever come to that conclusion. Clearly, here was one who was intelligent enough to have come to that conclusion. But what he was telling us was he didn't know what to do about it."

Richard Eskow, "The Progressive's Guide to Corporate-Democrat Speak:'Purity test'? 'Pragmatic progressive'? 'Free stuff'? What are these politicians talking about?" This is a handy primer but I think he should have included the fact that "centrist" is genuinely constructed jargon to make right-wing Democrats sound mainstream.

New polling shows that "Americans want jobs, not war," and they want spending on health care and other public goods instead of war toys.

David Dayen, "Goldman Sachs's Shell Game: The mega-bank has created 61 different off-balance-sheet corporations with help from companies based in the Cayman Islands. That looks in no way shady! Tyson Slocum has embarked on a crusade the past few months that would make I.F. Stone jealous. The director of Public Citizen's Energy Program has stumbled into some genuinely novel evidence about how mega-banks cloak their entry into commodity markets. First, Slocum found associations between JPMorgan Chase and an allegedly non-affiliated entity buying a power station in El Paso, Texas, links that the bank would eventually acknowledge. But Slocum's discovery regarding Goldman Sachs seems even more revelatory. The banking giant has set up at least 61 different off-balance-sheet entities controlling various investment assets, all of which have the same three-member panel of 'independent' directors. The directors were all leased from 'rent-a-director' firms based in the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax haven. 'They're almost like a dating site, choose your director,' says Slocum, who is protesting one of the entities as it requests regulatory approvals at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). These transparently affiliated shell corporations enable Goldman Sachs to avoid FERC limitations on sales of electric power, bank regulatory requirements around participating in pooled investment funds, merchant banking restrictions, and requirements to add capital in case of losses. 'Goldman Sachs has enormous financial and regulatory incentives to keep these entities off the books,' Slocum says. The sham directors fulfill corporate governance rules without having to put the fate of the shell companies in the hands of anyone with independent thought. In other words, it's a useful and lucrative fiction, manipulating the securities laws to conceal the truth."

"Unmasking the secret landlords buying up America: America's cities are being bought up, bit by bit, by anonymous shell companies using piles of cash. Modest single-family homes, owned for generations by families, now are held by corporate vehicles with names that appear to be little more than jumbles of letters and punctuation — such as SC-TUSCA LLC, CNS1975 LLC — registered to law offices and post office boxes miles away. New glittering towers filled with owned but empty condos look down over our cities, as residents below struggle to find any available housing. All-cash transactions have come to account for a quarter of all residential real estate purchases, 'totaling hundreds of billions of dollars nationwide,' the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — the financial crimes unit of the federal Treasury Department, also known as FinCEN — noted in a 2017 news release. Thanks to the Bank Secrecy Act, a 1970 anti-money-laundering law, the agency is able to learn who owns many of these properties. In high-cost cities such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami, it's flagged over 30% of cash purchases as suspicious transactions. But FinCEN also cites this bill to hide this information from the public, leaving the American people increasingly in the dark about who owns their cities. For journalists, it requires undertaking a tremendous investigative effort to find the real owner of even one property, let alone millions. 'It reminds me of Moldova after the fall of the Soviet Union: oligarchs running wild, stashing their gains in buildings,' James Wright, an attorney and former Treasury Department bank examiner, told me. [...] With anonymity comes impunity, and, for vulnerable tenants, skyrocketing numbers of evictions. It wasn't until reporters from The Guardian and The Washington Post began to investigate, for example, that residents living in hundreds of properties across the South learned that they shared a secret landlord, hiding behind names such as SPMK X GA LLC: Fox News personality Sean Hannity."

"Economists 'Surprised Americans Aren't Revolting' Over $8,000 Tax They Pay Each Year Due to For-Profit Healthcare System: The payments made to the U.S. healthcare system are 'like a tribute to a foreign power, but we're doing it to ourselves.'"

Here's a fun little episode of Useful Idiots in which Katie and Matt have some useful insights and then a chat with Nina Turner.

R.J. Eskow and Diane Archer reminding me how lucky I am that I escaped to Britain before I ever had to go on the health insurance shopping spree every year, "Don't let the Trump administration corporatize Medicare". Oh, God, I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

EuroYankee, "The Smears Against Bernie Must Be Stopped—Here's How to Do It: A rapid response guide to 23 classic anti-Bernie smears. This is a handy guide to beating back the ridiculous and vile smears that are being leveled at Bernie Sanders, and in particular those that may compare him to Joe Biden."

RIP: Steve Stiles (1943-2020): Steve Stiles, one of fandom's all-time great artists, died during the night on January 12, only a few days after he shared on Facebook that he had cancer and a short time to live. It's a double shock to his wide circle of friends who were still adjusting to the first piece of news. His awards history barely begins to scratch the surface of how much he meant to fandom over the past fifty-plus years, substantial as it is. He earned the first of his 17 Best Fan Artist Hugo nominations in 1967, winning the award in 2016. He's won 15 FAAn Awards, presented by fanzine fans at Corflu, since the award was revived in 2001. And Steve was the first winner of the Rotsler Award (1998), a career honor for fan artists." There's a lot of stuff in Mike Glyer's obit about his pro work, too, and also some fascinating things I never knew. He was an important part of my life for a long time and I have often missed him since moving to London. I'll also always cherish that moment when we were in that room party (I think it was Boston in 1980) where John Shirley was rhapsodizing about fatherhood and using a lot of sentences that started with, "I believe..." and when he wound down Steve quietly remarked, "I believe my suitcase comes from Saturn." I have stolen that line many times.

RIP: "Mike Resnick (1942-2020): Mike Resnick, who at his zenith was one of the most popular figures in the science fiction fan and pro community, died January 9. He was nominated for the Hugo Award 37 times, winning 5, and 11 Nebula nominations, with 1 win. He was a Guest of Honor at Chicon 7 in 2012." Mike edited a lot of anthologies, famously doing alternate histories as well as his Women Writing Science Fiction As Men and the vice-versa companion book.

RIP: Terry Jones, 77. Another Python gone. Stephen Fry tweeted: "Farewell, Terry Jones. The great foot has come down to stamp on you. My god what pleasure you gave, what untrammelled joy and delight. What a wonderful talent, heart and mind."

RIP: "Roger Scruton: Conservative thinker dies at 75." I won't pretend I never deliberately mispronounced his name, especially after that time he accused me of destroying British culture when we got the courts to acknowledge that there was no proof of harm from seeing pornography.

RIP: "Barbara Testa, Hollywood librarian who found 'Huck Finn' manuscript in her attic, dies at 91: Barbara Testa had enjoyed a perfectly anonymous life in Hollywood until she crawled up in the attic one day and opened a steamer trunk left behind by her grandfather, a 19th century attorney with powerful friends. Inside, amid the letters and ledgers James Fraser Gluck had stowed away, was a handwritten manuscript that would solve a century-old literary riddle and plunge Testa into the headlines in a mounting dispute over ownership of the precious document, the missing first half of the original copy of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

David Graeber on how the "center" threw the election to the right, "The Center Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the 'Brexit Election'. [...] This simultaneous embrace of markets, and of rules and regulations, represents the soul of what's sometimes called 'centrism.' It's a decidedly unlovely combination. Nobody truly likes it. But the talking classes had reached an absolute consensus that no politicians who departed significantly from it could possibly win elections. In 2015, the handful of 'hard Left' MPs of the Socialist Campaign Group, who fell well outside this consensus, were largely considered mildly entertaining Seventies throwbacks. The election of one of them as party leader was therefore treated—both by the party establishment and their allies in the left-of-center media outlets like The Guardian—as an embarrassing accident that had to be immediately reversed. Corbyn was declared 'unelectable.' In order to demonstrate this, dozens of Labour MPs initiated an immediate campaign to render him so, via an unceasing barrage of press briefings, leaked documents, attempts to create false scandals, and a campaign of sustained psychological warfare directed against Corbyn himself—essentially waging an active and aggressive campaign against their own party. Tony Blair even openly stated that he would rather see his own party defeated than come into power on Corbyn's leftist platform. [...] Most sitting Labour MPs had begun as Labour youth activists themselves, just as most centrist political journalists had begun their careers as leftists, even revolutionaries, of one sort or another. But they had also risen through the ranks of Blair's machine at a time when advancement was largely based on willingness to sacrifice one's youthful ideals. They had become the very people they would have once despised as sell-outs. Insofar as they dreamed of anything, now, it was of finding some British equivalent of Barack Obama, a leader who looked and acted so much like a visionary, who had so perfected the gestures and intonations, that it never occurred to anyone to ask what that vision actually was (since the vision was, precisely, not to have a vision). Suddenly, they found themselves saddled with a scruffy teetotaling vegan who said exactly what he really thought, and inspired a new generation of activists to dream of changing the world. If those activists were not naive, if this man was not unelectable, the centrists' entire lives had been a lie. They hadn't really accepted reality at all. They really were just sellouts.":

"Why Fascism is the Wave of the Future: " - This London Review of Books article is so depressing I don't even want to quote from it.

Screaming far-left radical John F Kennedy argues for universal healthcare.

"Mobilization and Money: I'm nearly finished with a very long book that may well be the best illustration of the basic principles of Modern Money Theory available. The book is 'A Call To Arms,' by Maury Klein. It is an historical account of the U.S. mobilization as it prepared for, and engaged in, war with Germany and Japan. The scale of the task was unprecedented in human history—and the accomplishment of it changed not just the structure of the American economy, but American society as well. What is striking about the story—and the monumental effort to quickly build, virtually from scratch, the largest and most sophisticated war machine ever to exist on the planet—is that there is nary a peep of concern or argument about how this enormous task would be paid for. All of the anguish and struggle had not to do with finding enough 'money' to pay for things, but rather with finding enough things to buy—and enough skilled labor to properly marshal it all together. In the end, virtually every real resource available in the continental U.S.—oil, gas, steel, aluminum, rubber, copper, sugar, tin, and man-hours of labor—was purchased by the Federal government to build the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps that ultimately defeated the Axis powers. The scale of the sovereign spending is almost beyond comprehension—especially given the fact that, at the starting gate, the U.S. economy was still decimated and impoverished by the Great Depression. At the finish line, however—VJ day, September 2, 1945—the U.S. had become the most powerful, efficient, and equitable economic power the world had ever seen. So how did it all get paid for? And even more important, how did we travel from that VJ day of economic triumph to our sorry state of today, where we think we are so 'broke' we can't even afford to hire enough fire-fighters and equipment to put out the forest-fires raging in our western states?" Of course, it worked by MMT - not a theory, but just the way things are done. The question has never been how to pay for things - we can do that easily. The question, always, is what to spend the money on.

Mark Fisher's 2013 piece, "Exiting the Vampire Castle: We need to learn, or re-learn, how to build comradeship and solidarity instead of doing capital's work for it by condemning and abusing each other. This doesn't mean, of course, that we must always agree — on the contrary, we must create conditions where disagreement can take place without fear of exclusion and excommunication."

"Why was pioneering director Alice Guy-Blaché erased from film-making history? A new documentary sheds light on the career of the forgotten Frenchwoman who helped write the rules of film [...] Guy-Blaché was in the room when the Lumière brothers held the first ever cinema screening, in Paris in March 1895. By the following year, she was making her own films. And while the Lumières were still hung up on cinema as a technological spectacle — 'Look! A train!' — Guy-Blaché immediately saw its potential for telling stories. Even her 60-second debut, The Cabbage Fairy, had a fictional narrative (a fairy conjures babies from cardboard cabbages). As time went on, Guy-Blaché helped write the rules of this brand new medium. She incorporated now-standard techniques such as editing, primitive special effects and hand-tinted colour. She might even have invented the music video, back in 1905, with her use of newfangled 'chronophone' technology, by which singers were filmed lip-syncing to a prerecorded playback."

I posted a link to a story about this survey when it came out, but I could never find the original survey report. For completeness sake, here it finally is, saying that people on social media found Hillary Clinton's supporters the most obnoxious after Trump's.

Linkrot already got another article I posted and still occasionally want to link to, but the Web Archive comes through again, "The American Prison in the Culture Wars."

"Picardilly Circus: TfL renames Tube station to celebrate Star Trek launch: For 48 hours Piccadilly Circus will be renamed PICARDilly Circus to celebrate the launch of Amazon's original series Star Trek: Picard." I didn't see it but the article has pictures, and Rob took some more posted here..

I got Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries series for Christmas and I absolutely love it, in case you're interested.

04:13 GMT comment


Friday, 10 January 2020

I hear the music all the time

"Illinois becomes 11th state to legalize marijuana: On New Year's Day, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize marijuana, prompting long lines to start forming at dispensaries before sunrise. Dispensaries were allowed to begin selling cannabis at 6 a.m., but there was a delay in some sales due to a problem with the state database that will track all marijuana sales. Illinois residents may possess up to 30 grams of the dried flower, five grams of cannabis concentrate and 500 milligrams of THC in edibles, while nonresidents may possess only half as much. The first day of legal sales follows Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) granting more than 11,000 pardons to people convicted of low-level marijuana convictions."

"Illinois Governor Pardons Over 11,000 People For Marijuana One Day Before Legal Sales Begin: One day before legal recreational marijuana sales launch in Illinois, the governor announced that his office is clearing the records of more than 11,000 people who have previously been convicted of simple cannabis possession. Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D) said the move 'sets us apart' from other states that have legalized marijuana for adult-use and that 'Illinois is putting equity first, clearing thousands of convictions and giving individuals & their families a new lease on life.'"

"Bernie Sanders Outperforms Joe Biden In Head To Head Matchup With Donald Trump, New Poll Finds: In a recent survey by Ipsos/Reuters, slightly more respondents said they would vote for Senator Bernie Sanders than former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election against President Donald Trump. Though the difference is within the margin of error (3.4 percentage points) 39 percent of the 1,108 adults surveyed between December 18 and 19 preferred Sanders over Trump, compared to 37 percent who preferred Biden."

Believe it or not, Matthew Yglesias in Vox, "Bernie Sanders can unify Democrats and beat Trump in 2020: The first in a Vox series making the best case for each of the top Democratic contenders. The case for Bernie Sanders is that he is the unity candidate. The Vermont senator is unique in combining an authentic, values-driven political philosophy with a surprisingly pragmatic, veteran-legislator approach to getting things done. This pairing makes him the enthusiastic favorite of non-Republicans who don't necessarily love the Democratic Party, without genuinely threatening what's important to partisan Democrats. If he can pull the party together, it would set him up to be the strongest of the frontrunners to challenge President Donald Trump." And then he says everyone should be calm because he's not really all that.

And here's a GOP operative who thinks Bernie Sanders has mojo that Liz Warren doesn't - and I don't think he's spinning. "Why Trump should fear Sanders much more than Warren in 2020: It is conventional political wisdom that President Trump stands his best chance in 2020 if Democrats nominate a progressive candidate on the far left such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. That is half right. I have witnessed both of these candidates up close as a former chairman of the Vermont Republican Party when Sanders rose from the backbench of the House to the Senate, and as campaign manager for the Senate reelection of Scott Brown against upstart Warren in Massachusetts. It has given me some insight into both their strengths and weaknesses as candidates. [...] To better understand this political dynamic, compare two instructive elections in locations that have little in common, one in tiny Essex County in the most rural northeast corner of Vermont and another in the only New England metropolis of Boston. Essex County is the most Republican part of what was once the most Republican state in the nation. Today it is the lone Republican holdout among the 14 counties in Vermont. In 2016, it was the red dot in the blue sea of the state, going for Trump by 18 points. Flashback to 2006 when Sanders ran for the open Senate seat in the only serious contest he had faced since 1994 when he was a member of the House and socialism was still a dirty word. Sanders cruised to victory and won Essex County with 59 percent of the vote, even as those same people had overwhelmingly backed the reelection of their Republican Governor James Douglas."

Every time I think Biden couldn't be more like Trump, he gets even more like Trump: "Biden again dishonestly suggests he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning" Both of these putzes were all for the war and now we have both of them pretending they were too smart to fall for it.

"Court bounces Abrams Suit against Voter Purges Shunts Case to GOP-Controlled State Courts: In Atlanta Friday, Federal Judge Steve Jones ruled against Stacey Abrams' organization Fair Fight in its suit to restore nearly 100,000 Georgians to the voter rolls. It turns out that Abrams' attorneys were not in a fair fight against this federal judge who refused to even consider if the purge would cause 'irreparable harm' or 'the public interest would support the issuance of a preliminary injunction.' Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Ratffensperger, was using Kris Kobach's favorite method of vote theft, what we call, 'Purge by Postcard.' Under the guise of 'voter list maintenance,' Georgia sent out postcards that look like cheap junk mail — see one at the link here. When a voter fails to return the card, they lose their vote. Yes, the cancelled voter can re-register. But, as we have uncovered in our film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, most people don't know they were pulled from the list until it's too late."

From back in 2011, Michael Moore with a bit of history at Common Dreams, "30 Years Ago: The Day the Middle Class Died:: From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated. Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, 'When did this all end?', I say, 'It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981.'"

"Four-day working week and six-hour shifts to be introduced in Finland: Finland's new Prime Minister wants to introduce a four-day working week. Sanna Marin, 34, says an extra day off and six-hour days will allow the public to spend more time with their families and on hobbies. The proposal from Ms Marin — the world's youngest sitting prime minister — follows the lead of Scandinavian neighbour Sweden, where a six-hour working experiment began in 2015. According to the New Europe newspaper, she said: 'I believe people deserve to spend more time with their families, loved ones, hobbies and other aspects of life, such as culture."

"The Anarchist Daughter of the GOP's Gerrymandering Mastermind Just Dumped His Maps and Files on Google Drive: 'I won't be satisfied that we the people have found everything until we the people have had a look at it in its entirety,' she said. The daughter of late GOP gerrymandering mastermind just put all of his files online in a Google Drive for anyone to read. Thomas Hofeller, who died in 2018, was crucial to the Republican Party's redistricting efforts across the country: He drew up tons of maps that the party used to make districts easier for them to win — sometimes at the expense of minorities' voting rights. In an effort to defend their state's political map in a lawsuit, Republicans had tried to keep Hofeller's files secret. But on Sunday, his daughter, Stephanie, who identifies as an anarchist, tweeted them out. She'd announced her plans to release the files last month and has now made them public on a website: thehofellerfiles.com, which links to a Google Drive full of his emails and documents related to his gerrymandering work. (Thomas pronounced the word 'gerrymander' with a hard 'G,' in honor of the former U.S. Vice President Elbridge Gerry, who pioneered the practice in Massachusetts in 1812.) 'These are matters that concern the people and their franchise and their access to resources. This is, therefore, the property of the people,' Stephanie told NPR. 'I won't be satisfied that we the people have found everything until we the people have had a look at it in its entirety.'"

It continues to fascinate me that so many faces — including not just Republicans but Democratic leaders — persist in showing up and speaking as if American troops in the Middle-East are not principally foreign invaders and occupiers in places they simply don't belong. It's hardly as if we were invited into Iraq and no one happened to notice yet that our "reasons" for invading were based on a stack of lies, but are we still at the phase where we think we can get away with pretending that the only reason these inscrutable foreigners don't welcome us into their homes with cookies and milk when a bunch of soldiers break down their doors and point guns at them is that they have some really weird cultural attitudes and superstitions? The simple fact is that we shouldn't be there and we should have gotten out as fast as we could. There's just no excuse. And, as Ryan Cooper points out, "America is guilty of everything we accuse Iran of doing [...] Events like this bring out the absolute worst in the American foreign policy community. Many conservative writers and thinkers, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton, the Hudson Institute's Michael Doran, and Commentary's Noah Rothman, openly cheered this Putin-style cold-blooded murder of a foreign statesman. Other more supposedly nonpartisan commentators uncritically parroted Trump administration assertions that Iran was planning something bad. Every top Democratic presidential candidate except Bernie Sanders was careful to foreground that Soleimani was a bad guy before condemning the assassination in their initial comments. The truth is that Soleimani was not all that different from any of about five dozen current and former American politicians and bureaucrats — if anything, he was considerably more restrained about the use of force. Yes, he was involved in a lot of bloody wars — but so was every American president since 2000, and besides half the wars he fought in were started or fueled by the United States. It's just another instance of America's gigantic hypocrisy when it comes to war. [...] So yes, Soleimani has fueled a lot of nasty conflicts and killed a lot of people, directly or indirectly, many of them American soldiers — though it's worth noting also that much of his recent effort has been dedicated to fighting ISIS (with great effectiveness, by all accounts) in a tacit uneasy alliance with U.S. forces. Yet even the worst of Soleimani's record pales in comparison with the most blood-drenched American warmongers. If Soleimani deserves condemnation for arming Iraqi insurgents, then George W. Bush and Dick Cheney deserve 10 times as much for starting the war in the first place. It was a pointless, illegal war of aggression sold on lies that obliterated Iraqi society and killed perhaps half a million people, almost all of them innocent civilians. (Our own Soleimani, General David Petraeus, was connected to the operation of Iraqi torture dungeons and paramilitary death squads during the fight against the insurgency.)" Apparently, all this is justified because President George W. Bush understood in his wisdom that no one native to Iraq could paint schools so we had to send in U.S. troops to do it for them.

"Google fired an engineer who built a tool that notified employees of their labor rights. She's the 5th employee this month to accuse the company of illegal retaliation.

"DCCC To Consultants: Helping To Elect A Republican? Sure, We'Ll Work With You: IN MARCH, House Democrats' campaign arm formalized a policy cutting off firms working with candidates running primary challenges against incumbent Democrats. But the rule doesn't appear to apply to consultants who get millions of dollars from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee while working for political action committees that support and elect Republicans. One of the biggest vendors working with the political action committee With Honor, Trilogy Interactive, has taken at least $2 million from the DCCC since the 2016 election cycle, according to FEC filings. With Honor PAC — which has an affiliated bipartisan caucus, the For Country caucus, that includes at least 10 Democratic members — is dedicated to electing veterans to Congress. [...] The DCCC has faced intense scrutiny for the blacklist policy, which critics say is another example of the committee exploiting its position to keep centrist Democrats in power while discouraging women and people of color to run for office. For example, Marie Newman lost to Rep. Dan Lipinski last year, after the committee backed the anti-abortion Democrat over his progressive challenger. She's running against the eight-term incumbent a second time in 2020. As of October, several consultants had dropped her campaign because of the DCCC rule change, though a number of House Democrats were privately supporting her. In 2018, the DCCC intervened in a competitive New Jersey primary to help Jeff Van Drew, one of the most conservative Democrats in the state, win the party's nomination. Democrats expected to flip the House seat, but overlooked progressives like retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood and ex-Cory Booker staffer Will Cunningham in favor of Van Drew — who enjoyed a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association and supported restrictions on abortion."

"Leak: How NYT Editor James Bennet Justifies The Op-Ed Page To His Colleagues: In December, New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet met with a group of Times employees to answer questions about his much-questioned opinion section. At the time, A.G. Sulzberger, now publisher of the Times, was conducting a tour of the company he was about to inherit, meeting with employees from different corners of the newspaper. The Q&A session with Bennet was apparently convened in a similar spirit of transparency and goodwill. But according to some Times staffers who were present, little clarity was offered by Bennet and even less goodwill was spread. One person who was there, still angry more than two months later, called Bennet's answers 'equivocal bullshit.' [...] It was as frank an explication as Bennet has given of how he conceives of the opinion section. Slaloming between contradictions, Bennet laid out an ideology of no ideology. The editorial page is beholden to no priors (except when it is). It proudly forswears the idea of right answers (except when it doesn't). It is humanist and ecumenical but also of the belief, for instance, that some kinds of ethnic cleansing are worthy of debate. 'The world needs this from us right now,' Bennet told the dozen or so New York Times staffers in the room. 'I don't mean to sound pious, but it really is true that this is a crude and dangerously polarized time... And to simply assert that we know what the right answers are is not good for the democracy.'"

"They Loan You Money. Then They Get a Warrant for Your Arrest: High-interest loan companies are using Utah's small claims courts to arrest borrowers and take their bail money. Technically, the warrants are issued for missing court hearings. For many, that's a distinction without a difference. Cecila Avila was finishing a work shift at a Walmart. David Gordon was at church. Darrell Reese was watching his granddaughter at home. Jessica Albritton had pulled into the parking lot at her job, where she packed and shipped bike parts. All four were arrested by an armed constable, handcuffed and booked into jail. They spent anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days behind bars before being released after paying a few hundred dollars in bail or promising to appear in court. None of the four, who live in northern Utah and were detained last year, had committed a crime. They had each borrowed money at high interest rates from a local lender called Loans for Less and were sued for owing sums that ranged from $800 to $3,600. When they missed a court date, the company obtained a warrant for their arrest. [...] It's against the law to jail someone because of an unpaid debt. Congress banned debtors prisons in 1833. Yet, across the country, debtors are routinely threatened with arrest and sometimes jailed, and the practices are particularly aggressive in Utah. (ProPublica recently chronicled how medical debt collectors are wielding similar powers in Kansas.) Technically, debtors are arrested for not responding to a court summons requested by the creditor. But for many low-income people, who are not familiar with court proceedings, lack access to transportation, child care options or time off, or move frequently and thus may not receive notifications, it's a distinction without a difference.

"The Campaign Against 'Medicare For All' Is Spending Millions. Progressives Not So Much. The most hotly debated policy in the Democratic presidential primary is 'Medicare for All' — a plan to move all Americans onto a single, government-run health insurance plan. But while proponents of single-payer health care like presidential hopefuls Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have had the chance to make their case on the debate stage, the opponents of the idea are vastly outspending them on the airwaves in early caucus and primary states. The Partnership for America's Health Care Future — an industry front group representing private health insurers, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies — has spent at least $1 million in television advertisements blasting the policy in Iowa alone. (It is also ghost-writing anti-Medicare for All op-eds for state lawmakers, according to a Washington Post report.)"

"I Am a Union Worker, and I Want Medicare for All: My union is in a perpetual battle for decent health care coverage. It's a tactic of our employers to prevent us from striking against our terrible work conditions. If we had Medicare for All, we could demand much more at the bargaining table."

David Dayen picked this as one of his best of the year and wants more people to pay attention to it: "Democrats Are Ignoring the Power of the Hospital Industry And this will doom any meaningful reform. [...] But Democrats are actually united on health care in one respect, from Joe Biden to Bernie Sanders. All of them lack the courage to name the one major obstacle to getting any meaningful reform done: the hospitals and medical providers who create the most costs in the system by a wide margin. Watching the debates, I got the feeling that there was a swear jar offstage, and candidates would be fined $10,000 if they said the word 'hospitals.' The calculation has been made to choose insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers as the core villains. The candidates have put shackles on themselves, content to debate whether to eliminate private insurance or how much the respective plans will cost. The price of health care, not insurance, was nowhere to be found, even though we pay the highest prices in the world, and concentrated hospital networks, not insurers, are largely to blame. Meanwhile, during commercial breaks of the CNN debate, viewers heard from the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, the main corporate coalition opposed to major reforms to the health-care system. And while America's Health Insurance Plans, the lead trade group for insurers, is among the funders of this initiative, so is the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, hospital network Ardent Health Services, Catholic hospital network Ascension, Fortune 500 giant Community Health Systems, The Federation of American Hospitals, Bill Frist's old hospital network HCA, outpatient group Tenet Healthcare, and hospital management company UHS. Simply put, if candidates fail to talk about the companies primed to strangle any health-care reform before it gets started, nothing will happen."
Check out the rest of the "Best of 2019: David Dayen: The Prospect's executive editor highlights his favorite stories of the year."

RIP: "William Greider, Journalist Who Focused on Economy, Dies at 83: In interviews with Reagan's budget director, David Stockman, he exposed doubts about the supply-side economics that the administration had embraced. William Greider, a reporter, editor and popular author who examined the United States, its politics and its position in the world through an economic lens for four decades for The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Nation and other media outlets, died on Wednesday at his home in Washington. He was 83. His son, Cameron, said the cause was complications of congestive heart failure. Mr. Greider worked for 15 years at The Post, where he was a national correspondent, an assistant managing editor for national news and a columnist. His writing then took a more polemical and leftward turn at Rolling Stone, where, as a columnist and national affairs editor from 1982 to 1999, he began investigating the defense establishment and challenging mainstream political and economic thought. He joined The Nation in 1999 as the national affairs correspondent and was also a correspondent for six Frontline documentaries on PBS, including 'Return to Beirut,' which won an Emmy in 1985."

John Nichols in The Nation, "William Greider Knew What Ailed the Democratic Party ...and how to fix it. We will miss him.: Born in the year of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's greatest electoral triumph, William Greider was in so many senses the last New Dealer. His death on Christmas Day, at age 83, represents a stark loss for American journalism. His honest diagnosis of our political crisis distinguished him from his contemporaries as he covered politics across six long decades. Now, it forms a legacy that is essential to understanding a 2020 election campaign that could finally see the emergence of the more humane and progressive electoral project that he identified as necessary—and possible. I knew Bill as a quick-witted comrade in the press corps of too many campaigns to count, a generous mentor, an ideological compatriot, and an occasional co-conspirator. He taught me to see politics not as the game that TV pundits discuss but as a high-stakes struggle for power in which the Democrats foolishly, and then dangerously, yielded far too much ground to increasingly right-wing Republicans."

RIP: "Buck Henry: the master of despair whose comedies seduced Hollywood: Screenwriter behind The Graduate and What's Up Doc? forged a cultural cache that paved the way for future generations he language of American comedy would have been a lot less sparky without Buck Henry, who has died aged 89. He helped shape one of the most revolutionary films of the 1960s (The Graduate), co-wrote one of the funniest of all time (What's Up, Doc?) and scripted the movie that became the springboard for Nicole Kidman's career (To Die For). Each new wave of comic talent took it in turn to pay tribute to Henry in some way; Tina Fey, who cast him as her character Liz Lemon's badly behaved father in 30 Rock, was only the most recent." The article doesn't even mention That Was The Week That Was, where I still have sharp memories of him (particularly that time with the hamburger buns falling on his desk). Doesn't mention his multiple guest appearances on SNL, either, though I don't think anyone else had ten of them. Nor his valiant attempt to translate Catch-22 to film (it wasn't quite what I wanted, but it was a damned good try - and funny). There's more.

RIP: "Neil Innes, Rutles star and 'seventh Python', dies aged 75" — Guardian
"Neil Innes, 'Monty Python' Songwriter, Rutles Co-Founder, Dead at 75" — Rolling Stone"

RIP: "Jack Sheldon who sang 'I'm Just a Bill" in 'Schoolhouse Rock!' dies at age 88: Jack Sheldon, an acclaimed jazz musician whose trumpet graced the award-winning song 'The Shadow of Your Smile' and who was known to TV viewers as the puckish sidekick to talk show host Merv Griffin, has died. He was 88. Sheldon died Friday of natural causes, his longtime manager and partner, Dianne Jimenez, said in a statement Tuesday. Further details were not provided."

RIP: "Leon Lederman death: Nobel Prize-winning physicist dies aged 96 after being forced to sell medal for $765,000 to pay medical bills: An experimental physicist who won a Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work on subatomic particles has died aged 96. Leon Lederman coined the phrase "God particle", a shorthand description of the then-theoretical Higgs boson, in the title of a 1993 book. His discoveries proved crucial in the identification of the subatomic particle that accounts for matter having mass in 2012."

RIP: "Scots author Alasdair Gray dies at the age of 85: The 85-year-old was known for novels such as Lanark (1981) and the award-winning Poor Things (1992), which are both set in Glasgow where he was born. His public murals are visible across the city, with further pieces on display in the V&A and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. He died on Sunday at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. His family said he wanted to leave his body to science so there would be no funeral." He will always be fondly remembered in British fandom for that time he passed out on the steps of the ballroom as guest of honor at his first convention.

Ana Kasparian, "How Nancy Pelosi enables Trump's reelection: A common accusation to any justified leftist critique of the Democratic establishment is that progressives are only helping to reelect Donald Trump. The finger-wagging and guilt-tripping that one would expect from a disappointed mother is the corporate Democrat's way to hush up valid concerns while deflecting to the devastating consequences of Trump's second term. But if Democratic leadership perceives Trump to be a huge threat, they have a funny way of showing it. Their actions demonstrate not only a willingness to negotiate or work with Trump but also an eagerness to throw their constituents under a bus while enabling him. Trump is unquestionably monstrous to the working class in America. But so are the Democrats who consistently join in on his brutality. For instance, corporate Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have a seemingly unmitigated desire to assist Trump in accomplishing right-wing legislative wins, and there are many examples to prove the point."

"The Pelosi Playbook: What do you get when you cross big-money politics and tepid progressive positions? A look back at the career of Nancy Pelosi, who's now poised to retake the House Speaker post. [...] On the one hand, Pelosi is undoubtedly an able hand at the practical aspects of the job, and in several high-profile episodes she's successfully resisted parts of the Republican agenda and occasionally even the more right-wing elements of her own party. On the other, Pelosi is arguably the perfect avatar for today's moribund Democratic Party: awash in money, steeped in conflicts of interest, hopelessly anchored to an illiberal and always-moving center, and pathologically unable to fully stand up for what should theoretically be its own principles — all of which makes her unsuited to leading the party in the current moment."

"Envisioning Solidarity: ON DECEMBER 29TH, the last night of Hanukkah, several of us met at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza for the lighting of a hanukkiah as tall as a city street lamp. 'Brooklyn's Largest Menorah' belongs to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Chabad; it is lit nightly during the holiday at celebrations usually dominated by Chabadniks. But on this cold, rainy evening, a more diverse crowd gathered, brought together by a call from progressive Jewish and Muslim organizations to join in solidarity with the Orthodox community. The previous night, 30 miles north in the town of Monsey, a masked intruder had entered the home of a Hasidic rabbi during a Hanukkah party and stabbed five people. (All the victims lived, but one is likely to be permanently comatose.) The vigil at the menorah lighting felt both disorienting and familiar, a surreal performance of intercommunal life in central Brooklyn, where all but one of us live. It was heartening to join with friends and neighbors—Jewish, black, South Asian—to demand an end to the frightening wave of violence currently afflicting Orthodox Jews in the New York area: the stabbings in Monsey, the mass shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City, and the relentless stream of assaults and vandalisms in Brooklyn. At the same time, even as we recited the Hanukkah blessings along with a Chabad rabbi, it was clear that we were witnessing not a single unified event but two parallel ones: a Hanukkah ceremony by and primarily for a particular Hasidic community, and a rally against antisemitism held by outsiders to that community. Huddled together under umbrellas, eating hot latkes distributed by Chabadnik children, we were intimate yet divided, as we are in our neighborhoods. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, over the days that followed, these gestures at solidarity were counteracted by something darker than mere division: rhetoric from the Jewish right and center that attempted to pit leftist Jews against Orthodox ones."

I really need to get around to doing some googling to find out how it worked out six years ago when Vietnam sentenced corrupt bankers to firing squads. How's their economy doing?

From Yves Smith in April of 2013, "Bill Greider on Why Paul Krugman Was So Wrong: I know I often give Paul Krugman a hard time. The big reason is he does not always seem to take the responsibilities that come along with his stature seriously. While he has staked out some important positions and defended them vigorously, such as firmly opposing austerity, and took quite a lot of heat for his early opposition to the war in Iraq, in other areas he is often too inclined to fall in with conventional thinking. And don't get me started on how he defends dubious Obama behavior. The fact that the Republicans are bad guys does not make the Democrats good guys by default. A good piece in the Nation by Bill Greider, which focuses on Krugman's long standing support of free trade, and how, contrary to his predictions, the results were not positive for ordinary American workers. Greider, who has long stressed that our system is not open trade but managed trade, and that other countries manage it with much more attention to protecting their workers than we do, has reason to personalize this discussion. He does point out that Krugman's positions on trade were widely held among mainstream economists in the 1990s. But it is still fair for Greider to call Krugman out. First, Krugman, as a trade economist, was taken seriously not just in the profession but in wider policy debates. Second, Krugman took it upon himself to act as an enforcer, and went after people who dared suggest that opening up more sources of low wage labor might reduce pay levels in the US. In particular, he savaged Greider."

"A provocative new book argues we must 'unlearn' race. We absolutely should: While many on the left now reject gender categories, they seem determined to enshrine racial categories. Let's do better [...] Then everything changed: he and his wife, a white French woman, had their daughter Marlow. As Williams held Marlow, he took in her blonde hair and blue eyes and his conception of America's strict racial dichotomy between black and white started to collapse before him. He began to see racial categories as an obstacle to social progress."

"Bill Barr Thinks America Is Going to Hell: And he's on a mission to use the 'authority' of the executive branch to stop it. [...] It is hardly the first time Mr. Barr stepped outside of long-established norms for the behavior of attorneys general. In his earlier stint as attorney general, during the George H.W. Bush presidency, Mr. Barr took on the role of helping to disappear the case against Reagan administration officials involved in the Iran-contra affair. The situation demonstrated that 'powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office,' according to Lawrence Walsh, the independent prosecutor in that case. According to some critics, Mr. Barr delivered the partisan goods then, as he is delivering them now. Another view is that Mr. Barr is principally a defender of a certain interpretation of the Constitution that attributes maximum power to the executive. This view, too, finds ample support in Mr. Barr's own words. In the speech to the Federalist Society, he said, 'Since the mid-'60s, there has been a steady grinding down of the executive branch's authority that accelerated after Watergate.' In July, when President Trump claimed, in remarks to a conservative student group, 'I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,' it is reasonable to suppose this is his CliffsNotes version of Mr. Barr's ideology. Both of these views are accurate enough. But at least since Mr. Barr's infamous speech at the University of Notre Dame Law School, in which he blamed 'secularists' for 'moral chaos' and 'immense suffering, wreckage and misery,' it has become clear that no understanding of William Barr can be complete without taking into account his views on the role of religion in society. For that, it is illuminating to review how Mr. Barr has directed his Justice Department on matters concerning the First Amendment clause forbidding the establishment of a state religion." What Barr believes in is "religious freedom" for people with his religious beliefs, and that "freedom" is the freedom to assert, in all things, the dominance of his own religion: religious privilege.

"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? [...] Everything seemed fine for the first few years—McIlvaine initially made payments through an Education Department website, and then, as the department increasingly outsourced its loans, hers were transferred to a company called MOHELA. But once FedLoan took over, things quickly started to go awry. While FedLoan was sorting out the transfer, her loans were put into forbearance, an option usually reserved for people having difficulty making payments; during a forbearance, any progress toward forgiveness stalls, and loans balloon with interest. Then the company failed to put several of her loans on an income-based plan—so her payments briefly shot up, she says. And when McIlvaine submitted her tax information, she says FedLoan took months to process the paperwork—while she waited, the company again put her into what it called 'administrative forbearance,' so none of the payments she made during this period counted either. (McIlvaine requested a forbearance at least once, after turning in late renewal paperwork.) McIlvaine initially hoped these problems were just 'hiccups,' but they kept piling up. And when she tried to figure out what was going on, she says, FedLoan's call center 'loan counselors' brushed the whole thing off as an inconsequential administrative oversight. Astonishingly, the cycle would repeat over the next four years."

Ganesh Sitaraman in The New Republic, "The Collapse of Neoliberalism: The long-dominant ideology brought us forever wars, the Great Recession, and extreme inequality. Good riddance.: With the 2008 financial crash and the Great Recession, the ideology of neoliberalism lost its force. The approach to politics, global trade, and social philosophy that defined an era led not to never-ending prosperity but utter disaster. 'Laissez-faire is finished,' declared French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted in testimony before Congress that his ideology was flawed. In an extraordinary statement, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared that the crash 'called into question the prevailing neoliberal economic orthodoxy of the past 30 years—the orthodoxy that has underpinned the national and global regulatory frameworks that have so spectacularly failed to prevent the economic mayhem which has been visited upon us.'"

"The Ultra-Wealthy Who Argue That They Should Be Paying Higher Taxes: In an age of historic disparity, Abigail Disney and the Patriotic Millionaires take on income inequality. [...] Disney is one of the highest-profile figures in the Patriotic Millionaires, which now has more than two hundred members in thirty-four states: technology entrepreneurs, software engineers, Wall Street investors, industrialists, and inheritors of family fortunes. Although Abigail is best known for her criticisms of the Disney company, the group's mission was initially a simple idea endorsed by a half-dozen rich people: 'Please raise our taxes.' The members now have the broader goal of pressuring their wealthy peers to confront what they believe are the destructive effects of trickle-down economics—the idea, which has driven U.S. policy decisions for several decades and has largely been debunked, that reducing taxes on businesses and the wealthy will benefit low- and middle-income workers. Members of the Patriotic Millionaires lobby lawmakers and affluent individuals to instead support policies that would, for instance, increase the minimum wage and raise taxes on corporations and the rich. 'If you want to change social norms, you've got to be out there going public about your beliefs,' Eric Schoenberg, a former investment banker, said, during a breakfast that the group held in New York, in October."

Venn Diagram

Beach Boys, "I Can Hear Music"

18:18 GMT comment


Friday, 27 December 2019

Did I say overlords? I meant protectors

Oops, got distracted by Christmas from posting the traditional Christmas links, but that's okay, they're good up to the Epiphany:
* 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 tour-de-force performance of "The Carol of the Bells"
* "Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime."
* Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol

"Six companies are about to merge into the biggest farm-business oligopoly in history: Top executives from Bayer, Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical, and Syngenta today (Sept. 20) testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, making a case for why federal regulators should approve the mega-mergers, which stand to fundamentally reorganize global agriculture. (Executives from the sixth company involved in the consolidation, China National Chemical Corp., declined an invitation to appear at the hearing.) [...] The consolidation of these six highly competitive companies into three juggernauts has left many farmers and consumers uneasy. Consumers advocates say they worry the mergers will usher in a 'new era of sterile crops soaked in dangerous pesticides.' Farmers worry that less competition in the marketplace will give the merged companies an ability to increase prices of seeds and chemicals—something that would be particularly harmful during a time when US farm incomes are dropping."

"Schumer Revealed as Key Industry Ally in Defeat of Effort to Curb Surprise Billing: It was one of a series of lobbying victories by the healthcare industry in 2019 bolstered by top Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer worked behind the scenes through December in the Senate to defeat a bipartisan initiative to curb surprise medical billing, according to a new report Friday which details the lobbying victories won by the for-profit healthcare industry in 2019."

"Why the Media Is Ignoring the Afghanistan Papers: The documents are a bombshell. So why do so few news outlets care? This week, The Washington Post published the Afghanistan Papers, an extensive review of thousands of pages of internal government documents relating to the war in Afghanistan. Like the Pentagon Papers, which showcased the lies underpinning the Vietnam War, the Post's investigation shows that U.S. officials, across three presidential administrations, intentionally and systematically misled the American public for 18 years and counting. As Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1974, told CNN earlier this week, the Pentagon and Afghanistan Papers revealed the same dynamic: 'The presidents and the generals had a pretty realistic view of what they were up against, which they did not want to admit to the American people.'"

"Andrew Yang Has The Most Conservative Health Care Plan In The Democratic Primary: Entrepreneur Andrew Yang has had unexpected staying power in the Democratic presidential primary thanks in part to the enthusiasm for his plan to provide every American with a basic income of $1,000 a month. But the boldness of his signature idea only serves to underscore the unambitiousness of the health care plan he released earlier this month. In fact, Yang's health plan, which he bills as an iteration of the left's preferred 'Medicare for All' policy, is more conservative than proposals introduced by the candidates typically identified as moderate. [...] Under Yang's plan, people employed by businesses that do not provide insurance, or who are self-employed, would continue to purchase coverage on the exchanges created by former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The decision not to focus on expanding coverage distinguishes Yang dramatically from his competitors. And in the foreword to his plan, he explains that that is a deliberate choice, since enacting single-payer health care is 'not a realistic strategy.'"

"Accusing Bernie Sanders of antisemitism? That's a new low: The allegations should be called for what they are: politiking in service of politicians who will put more Jews in danger. [...] For Lowe and others on the right that have jumped on this bandwagon, though, details don't really matter. Sanders, an avowed democratic socialist, simply belongs to an opposing political camp with opposing values. Like the attacks against Corbyn abroad and Ilhan Omar at home, those now being lobbed at Sanders aren't about defeating antisemitism so much as using it as a narrative device to undermine a worldview that offends them. Sanders's solidarity with Palestinians suffering under occupation is not an affront to Jews but to the right's propaganda that looking out for their best interest means a blanket, unquestioning support for whatever the Israeli government happens to be doing, which at the moment includes maintaining a brutal apartheid state."

"National Democrats Have Endorsed Three Former Republicans In Key Senate Races: SENATE DEMOCRATS' CAMPAIGN arm has endorsed three former Republicans, adding to a list of races in which the party has continued a futile strategy of backing moderates over candidates with more progressive platforms. [...] IN OTHER SENATE races, national Democrats are backing conservative Democratic candidates over viable progressives. In Kentucky, for example, the party has coalesced around Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, a centrist who lost a winnable 2018 House race and stands little chance of unseating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. State Rep. Charles Booker is running to her left. In North Carolina, the DSCC has endorsed commercial litigation attorney, former state senator, and military veteran Cal Cunningham to replace Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, who is one of the least popular senators in the country. The committee has backed Cunningham even though state Sen. Erica Smith, a progressive, has led both Cunningham and Tillis in polling — as recently as November. Cunningham has far outraised Smith, with $1.7 million — including $200,000 of his own money — to her $133,000, including $4,500 of her own money. Cunningham has had significant fundraising help from donors linked to Schumer. " We are mere minutes from the day when saying, "Bernie's not a Democrat" will be synonymous with saying, "Bernie's never been a Republican."

Is there a sea-change in Politico? "Democratic insiders: Bernie could win the nomination [...] A series of TV segments around last week's Democratic debate illustrate the shift in how Sanders is being perceived. 'We never talk about Bernie Sanders. He is actually doing pretty well in this polling,' former senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said on CNN after the event. 'He's actually picked up. And the fact is Bernie Sanders is as consistent as consistent can be.' The same day on MSNBC, national political correspondent Steve Kornacki said, 'Democratic voters like him, and if he starts winning, there could be a bandwagon effect.' GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who conducted a California focus group that found most participants thought Sanders had won the debate, said on CNBC, 'I think you're going to see continued movement. Sanders has been gaining in California over the past two months.' [...] Faiz Shakir, Sanders' campaign manager, said political insiders and pundits are rethinking his chances 'not out of the goodness of their heart,' but because 'it is harder and harder to ignore him when he's rising in every average that you see.' And he welcomes a conversation about Sanders' electability, he said. 'We want that,' he said. 'I'd love to be able to argue why he stands a better chance to beat Donald Trump than Joe Biden.'"

"Why Are Cops Around the World Using This Outlandish Mind-Reading Tool? The creator of Scientific Content Analysis, or SCAN, says the tool can identify deception. Law enforcement has used his method for decades, even though there's no reliable science behind it. Even the CIA and FBI have bought in. [...] The review devoted just one paragraph to SCAN. Its synopsis was short but withering. SCAN 'is widely employed in spite of a lack of supporting research,' the review said. Studies commonly cited in support of SCAN were scientifically flawed, the review said. 'When all 12 SCAN criteria were used in a laboratory study, SCAN did not distinguish truth-tellers from liars above the level of chance,' the review said. The synopsis also specifically challenged two of those 12 criteria, noting: 'Both gaps in memory and spontaneous corrections have been shown to be indicators of truth, contrary to what is claimed by SCAN.' In a footnote, the review identified three specific agencies that use SCAN: the FBI, CIA and U.S. Army military intelligence, which falls under the Department of Defense. Those were the very agencies responsible for this report, concluding there's no reliable science behind SCAN."

"Government Entitled To Edward Snowden's Book Money, Judge Rules The National Security Agency leaker violated secrecy contracts by discussing his classified work without approval, a federal judge said. The government is entitled to any money that National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden makes from his book and paid speeches because he discussed his top-secret work without permission, a federal judge ruled. Snowden signed contracts while working for the NSA about handling classified information that detailed the government's sweeping surveillance programs, and his book and speeches are violations that permit the government to claim his profits, U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady wrote in an opinion released Tuesday in Virginia. 'The contracts at issue here are unambiguous and clear,' the judge wrote."

Intercepted, "We Tortured Some Folks: The Report's Daniel Jones On The Ongoing Fight To Hold The CIA Accountable: MONDAY MARKED THE five-year anniversary of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's executive summary on the CIA's torture program. The former top Senate Intelligence Committee investigator, Daniel Jones, and his team combed through 6.3 million pages of CIA records. Jones discusses the yearslong battle with the Bush and Obama administrations to make public the findings of this still-classified 7,000-page report. In this bonus episode, Jones expands on the torture report findings."

"What It Looks Like When a Hospital We Investigated Erases $11.9 Million in Medical Debt: MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When Danielle Robinson got a letter in the mail from Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in October, she braced herself. She'd missed a court-ordered payment to the hospital after she was laid off from her job in September. In 2018, the massive nonprofit health care system sued her for just over $11,500 in unpaid hospital bills, plus $3,800 in attorney's fees. In April, a Shelby County General Sessions Court judge ordered her to pay $150 per month toward the debt. If she was lucky, the envelope contained only a warning. If she wasn't, it was another attempt to garnish her paycheck, even though she wasn't even getting one. Nervously, she opened the letter. 'As of August 1, 2019,' it said, 'your total amount due is $0 for docket ROBINSON, and we have notified the court that this account has been paid in full.' 'I had to read it a couple of times just to make sure,' Robinson said. 'I couldn't believe it. I went crying around the house.'"

RIP: "Baba Ram Dass, Proponent of LSD Turned New Age Guru, Dies at 88: Born Richard Alpert, he first gained notice as a colleague of Timothy Leary and later became even better known as the author of Be Here Now."

Pareene in The New Republic, "A Decade of Liberal Delusion and Failure: It was the death of hope by a thousand tiny technocratic "nudges." As 2009 ended, the editors of this magazine at the time took their measure of the first year of Barack Obama's presidency and declared it, with some reservations, a modest success. 'All of this might not exactly place him in the pantheon next to Franklin Roosevelt,' they said of his major domestic achievements (the stimulus package, primarily, as the Affordable Care Act had not yet been signed). 'But it's not a bad start, given all the constraints of the political system (and global order) in which he works.' That was the broad consensus of American liberals at the time, ranging from nearly the most progressive to nearly the most neoliberal. Over the ensuing years, that consensus would crack and eventually shatter under the weight of one disappointment after another. The story of American politics over the past decade is that of a political party on the cusp of enduring power and world-historical social reform, and how these once imaginable outcomes were methodically squandered. [...] It's hard to remember now how wise everyone made it sound that the president and his team intentionally avoided doing things they worried would be too popular, but there would not be another New Deal."

"There is hard data that shows that a centrist Democrat would be a losing candidate: Economist Thomas Piketty wrote a paper about this in 2018, though the Democrats paid no attention. The Republican Party has earned a reputation as the anti-science, anti-fact party — understandably, perhaps, given the GOP's policy of ignoring the evidence for global climate change and insisting on the efficacy of supply-side economics, despite all the research to the contrary. Yet ironically, it is now the Democratic Party that is wantonly ignoring mounds of social science data that suggests that promoting centrist candidates is a bad, losing strategy when it comes to winning elections. As the Democratic establishment and its pundit class starts to line up behind the centrist nominees for president — like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg — the party's head-in-the-sand attitude is especially troubling.."

"'Authenticity,' 'Culturally Relevant': Why Bernie Sanders Is Resonating With Latinos [...] Recent polls by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and Latino Decisions all show Sanders as the top Democratic presidential candidate choice among Latino Democrats. He has a particular strength with young Latinos. The story of how a man who represents one of the whitest states in the country — Vermont — came to resonate with the largest nonwhite eligible voting block in the country is multifaceted."

"Pete Buttigieg's Campaign Says This Wikipedia User Is Not Pete. So Who Is It?: Tracking down the editor who tracks every move the South Bend mayor makes. [...] Luckily for Buttigieg, there is at least one person carefully looking out for his needs on Wikipedia—someone who has followed his political career from its very beginning, and whose interests and connections track his own with eerie sympathy. This Wikipedia user was there to post the site's first mention of Pete Buttigieg's political career in 2010, and to write the very first iteration of Pete Buttigieg's Wikipedia page. They go by the username 'Streeling.' Streeling is an old Irish word that means 'wandering,' the sort of word that might be familiar to the son of a scholar who studied James Joyce. Joyce uses the noun streel, meaning 'a disreputable woman,' in Ulysses, which Pete Buttigieg has cited as the book that influenced him the most." I can't help think this is either someone who has had a crush on Buttigieg since high school or one of Buttigieg's parents. It's like a a parental scrapbook of their kids.

"Future Audi Interiors Will Be A Button-Less, Screen-Filled Dystopia [...] Even if you generally know where you need to press on a touchscreen, you'll still need to look down more often than not to confirm. You can't just feel around for the right button. What happens if the touchscreen glitches or gets stuck? Will you be trapped and unable to turn off the air conditioning? You'll freeze! We've all experienced menus we can't back out of before. Does that mean we'll all have to get used to the hard-resetting (turning off then turning back on) of our cars, too?"

"Canadian Healthcare - Debunking the Myths" - Wendell Potter busting the myths he himself once spread on behalf of the health insurance industry.

"Louisa May Alcott's Forgotten Thrillers Are Revolutionary Examples Of Early Feminism: [...] Generations of scholars have examined Alcott's personal life (Civil War nurse, 'spinster,' possibly a lesbian), discussed ad nauseum her family's radical political activism (her father was not only a transcendentalist and an abolitionist, but believed in absolute equality of all races); and marveled at her childhood milieu, surrounded by people like Emerson and Thoreau and her mother's friends, Lucretia Mott and the Grimke sisters, as well as meeting Frederick Douglass and his wife. But far less attention is paid to her sensationalist 'blood and thunder tales'—pulpy thrillers she wrote early in her career, often using the pseudonym A.M. Barnard. This was the work Alcott was passionate about before the financial needs of her family forced her into writing what she called 'moral pap for the young.'"

Harry Potter But In 7 Different Genres

"Moonlight Etchings of the Forgotten Artist who Taught Edward Hopper"

01:36 GMT comment


Thursday, 19 December 2019

More slow glass

Things are happening too fast for me. I'm not even gonna talk about the impeachment stuff, it's all too much. I still think Pelosi is a saboteur, though.

Jeremy Corbyn in the Guardian, "We won the argument, but I regret we didn't convert that into a majority for change: We are living in highly volatile times. Two-and-a-half years ago, in the first general election I contested as Labour leader, our party increased its share of the popular vote by 10 percentage points. On Thursday, on a desperately disappointing night, we fell back eight points. I have called for a period of reflection in the party, and there is no shortage of things to consider. I don't believe these two contrasting election results can be understood in isolation." The other good news: Many of the Labour MPs who lost their seats were virulently anti-Corbyn, and the leader of the "centrist" party, Jo Swinson of the LibDems, lost her seat while her party went down to a mere 11 seats.

"Pelosi brokers deal with liberals on drug pricing bill: The chamber's liberal wing had threatened to stall the bill, if Pelosi refused to make a series of last-minute changes to the legislation. Significantly, Pelosi didn't want to get rid of the no-negotiation rule from Bush's Medicare Part D. This was something *everyone* in the real world had expected (and wanted!) Obama to do and one of the reasons many felt betrayed by him. And it's not something anyone should have trouble selling to the public, and I mean Republican voters, too.

"Bernie Sanders' Broadband Plan Is Comcast's Worst Nightmare: Sanders promises to break up media monopolies, restore net neutrality, and embrace the countless towns and cities that are building their own broadband networks. AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast executives aren't going to like Bernie Sanders' new broadband plan. The wide ranging proposal, released Friday morning, would all but demolish big telecom's stranglehold over the broadband and media sectors, unwinding decades of unrelenting consolidation, imposing hard new limits on how much broadband providers can charge for service, while opening the door to significantly broader availability of community broadband. The proposal pulls no punches when it comes to the U.S.' broadband woes."

"'Despicable': Internal Emails Reveal Water Contractor Knew About Lead Risks in Flint Months Before City's Public Confirmation: 'I think anyone has to ask themselves how the story in Flint would be different five years later now if Veolia had made those private concerns public.'"

Interestingly, in Forbes, "Democratic Politicians Go Back To Blaming The Poor For Their Poverty: It is typically well-off GOP members and sympathizers who explicitly and publicly blame low-income people, the poor, and everyone, for that matter, who feel discrimination, for all their problems. 'If only someone had worked harder. Had kept a family together. Valued education. Given up the cell phone. Stopped drinking those lattes. Stayed at work instead of wanting to go off and have kids.' These are self-soothing suggestions. Those with money want to believe that they have an innate right to it—that they worked hard and, through nothing more than their own effort, achieved what they have. Whereas, people in the U.S. are increasingly stuck when we look at upward mobility, according to data pulled together last year by Forbes.com contributor Aparna Mathur. Particularly when looking at generation over generation educational attainment—higher levels meaning upward mobility—for those born in the 1940s, the percentage that would exceed their parents was about 68%. Today, [...] If you're comfortably at the top, it could be distressing to consider that your fortune sat atop the backs of many people's opportunities. Lecturing on good behavior is much easier. In the past week, we had the unusual display of Democratic candidates doing exactly this."

"Ocasio-Cortez takes victory lap after Amazon goes to NYC — even after she helped block $3 billion in subsidies [...] 'The giant online retailer said it has signed a new lease for 335,000 square feet on the city's west side in the new Hudson Yards neighborhood, where it will have more than 1,500 employees,' The Wall Street Journal reported. 'Amazon is taking the space without any of the special tax credits and other inducements the company had been offered to build a new headquarters in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, the company said.'" It was always obvious that Amazon wanted to be in New York and they needed no inducements. This is New York City, ffs.

"Pete for Corporate America [...] In Buttigieg, voters get a candidate who can define neoliberalism in a sentence, who will even say that he thinks it's a negative force in the world. But he has never explained what alternative he offers. Generational change, in the mayor's case, doesn't mean much. Voters will just get a younger version of a Democratic Party they already know." So, sorta like Hillary Clinton, only younger, and with different baggage.

"People hate shopping for health insurance: Americans rarely switch to new health plans when the annual insurance-shopping season comes around, even if they could have gotten a better deal. The bottom line: People loathe shopping for health plans, and many are bad at it, for one major reason: "It's just too hard," Tricia Neuman, a Medicare expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told me last year."

I'm with Lambert on this: If Pelosi didn't think Bush-Cheney's lies and lawbreaking were impeachable, what's her justification for this one? I'm sorry, but torture and lying us into a war that's cost hundreds of thousands of lives and made an even bigger mess of the world stand in horrific contrast to what Trump is accused of. "Impeachment, the House as Prosecutor, and Justice [...] Put Turley's justifiable polemic against a childish West Wing view of international relations aside. Just look at the triviality of the subject matter, whether you think Trump is guilty or not. White House appearances. Military aid. Corruption investigations. How is lying the country into the Iraq war not impeachable, and this mass of anodyne trivialities impeachable? When it's the same prosecutor declining to indict for Iraq, and deciding to indict for Ukraine? Whatever this is, it's not 'the impartial and consistent application of rules', and that means the House is failing in its prosecutorial duty to seek justice, and not merely conviction."

"Why Hospitals Never Have Enough Nurses: The Explanatory Power of 'Prasad's Law' of Wealth Concentration: Yves here. In case you haven't had the misfortune to acquire first-hand experience, what Vinay Prasad and Roy Poses say about chronic nurse shortages in hospitals appears to be correct. I have a good friend whose father was a doctor and who has spent big parts of her career in the medical biz (her first job was at the NIH) who says she would never go to a hospital in New York without bringing her own private duty nurses. And it is not as if she is flush. Poses uses this sad fact to illustrate a more general pattern for what gets readily paid for in US medical circles: only services that direct income into the hands of the wealthy. And this is a big reason why incremental reform of the medical system will not deliver meaningfully better outcomes for patients or lower costs. The idea, for instance, that Big Pharma gets to free ride on government-funded basic and often applied research and then price gouges patients has to stop."

The UK elections may be over, but this was a good video. "An Appeal By David Graeber Re: Labour 'Antisemitism': David Graeber - a Jewish Anthropologist - speaks to the dangers of the witch hunt and why a Jeremy Corbyn victory would be the most positive outcome for Jewish people not just in the UK, but worldwide."

"Researchers say there's a simple way to reduce suicides: Increase the minimum wage: Since 2000, the suicide rate in the United States has risen 35 percent, primarily because of the significant increase in such deaths among the white population. There are hints that these deaths are the result of worsening prospects among less-educated people, but there are few immediate answers. But maybe the solution is simple: pursue policies that improve the prospects of working-class Americans. Researchers have found that when the minimum wage in a state increased, or when states boosted a tax credit for working families, the suicide rate decreased."

"Billionaire-funded protest is rearing its head in America: Recently a crowd of protesters disrupted a speech by Elizabeth Warren. The activists might have seemed grassroots, but they weren't: Last week, Elizabeth Warren went to Atlanta to give a major speech about issues of concern to black women. Her speech touched on knotty, existential topics such as the legacy of slavery, institutional racism, voter suppression, mass incarceration and reparations. But the next day's headlines overwhelmingly focused on the fact that the speech was interrupted by a loud group of pro-charter school protesters. We were supposed to be talking about challenging centuries of institutional racism, but now we're talking about charter schools. How did that happen? If you suspect that some sort of nefarious action that can be traced back to plutocratic billionaires is involved — well, of course."

Now this is weird. "Clinton Donors Charged in Massive Campaign-Finance Scheme [...] The individuals conspired to 'make and conceal conduit and excessive campaign contributions' valued around $3.5 million in the 2016 election campaign and beyond, according to the announcement. Although the indictment does not specifically name the recipient of the donations, it is clear that the contributions went to groups allied with Clinton's presidential campaign."

"What really happened during the Battle in Seattle? And how the 1999 WTO protests changed the way we think about capitalism, globalism and economic equity. The WTO protests in November 1999 put Seattle on the map in a way that grunge and tech never could. The World Trade Organization had planned a meeting in the city to discuss trade agreements for the new millennium, but then tens of thousands of protestors filled the streets. For days, activists overwhelmed the event and the city's police force, which responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. The protesters were there to condemn corporate power and the potential impacts of free trade on human rights and the environment. And while the WTO ultimately continued its work, the protest had a big effect on Seattle and the world. It influenced similar movements, like Occupy Wall Street, to come to the city. And it impacted how we think and talk about capitalism, globalism and economic equity. Now, on the 20th anniversary of the so-called "Battle in Seattle," we invited a panel of local leaders to the Crosscut Talks podcast to discuss what happened in Seattle in 1999 and what it means to our world today. The episode begins with former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and activist John Sellers, who are later joined by activist Nikkita Oliver and Norwell Coquillard, executive director of the Washington State China Relations Council. The conversation was recorded at KCTS9 studios in Seattle on Nov. 19, 2019, as part of the Crosscut Talks Live series."

RIP: "René Auberjonois, actor who starred in M*A*S*H*, Star Trek and Benson, dies aged 79: In a career spanning six decades, the actor worked on Broadway, in Hollywood's 70s golden age and TV. René Auberjonois, a prolific actor best known for his roles on the television shows Benson and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and his part in the 1970 film M*A*S*H*, has died aged 79. The actor died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles of metastatic lung cancer, his son Rèmy-Luc Auberjonois said. René Auberjonois worked constantly as a character actor in several golden ages, from the dynamic theatre of the 1960s to the cinema renaissance of the 1970s to the prime period of network television in the 1980s and 90s. For film fans of the 1970s, he was Father John Mulcahy, the military chaplain who played straight man to the doctors antics in M.A.S.H. It was his first significant film role and the first of several for director Robert Altman."

RIP: "Paul A. Volcker, Fed Chairman Who Waged War on Inflation, Is Dead at 92." He was a disaster.

"Why America's 1-Percenters Are Richer Than Europe's: A new Gilded Age has emerged in America — a 21st century version. The wealth of the top 1% of Americans has grown dramatically in the past four decades, squeezing both the middle class and the poor. This is in sharp contrast to Europe and Asia, where the wealth of the 1% has grown at a more constrained pace. [...] Rather than simply trying to make up for unequal pay through tax-code redistribution, Europe's economy delivers more equitable paychecks from the outset. Economists call this strategy 'pre-distribution.' Chancel suggests that the Europeans accomplish this through policies and institutions that improve workers' bargaining power — such as strong labor unions and higher minimum wages. And they push to make workers more productive, for example through broad-based access to education and health care. Whether U.S. voters will embrace such policies is an open question. But it's clear that rising inequality has made America exceptional — and not in a good way." Handy graphs.

"Kansas City, Missouri, Approves Free Public Transit for All: Mass transit measure is championed as 'visionary way to reduce inequality and better serve everyone in the community. 'Let's do this everywhere.' Lawmakers in Kansas City, Missouri took a "visionary step" on Thursday by unanimously voting to make public transportation in the city free of charge, setting the stage for it to be the first major U.S. city to have free public transit."

"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 Clintonite 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."

Another weird turn in the NYT: Ross Douthat makes "The Case for Bernie: The Democrats need a unifier. It could be the Vermont Socialist. [...] This is why, despite technically preferring a moderate like Biden or Amy Klobuchar, I keep coming back to the conservative's case for Bernie — which rests on the perhaps-wrong but still attractive supposition that he's the liberal most likely to spend all his time trying to tax the rich and leave cultural conservatives alone." That made me laugh.

Video, "Auschwitz Survivor - Israelis are behaving like 1930s Germans behaved - Hajo Meyer"

But PBS 2020 Segment Finds Time for Klobuchar, Sestak, and Bullock—But Completely Ignores Bernie Sanders." In the continuing story of pretending Bernie Sanders isn't in the race, this hits a new low for the establishment media. It's got to be a joke in newsrooms by now that they have to keep finding ways not to admit Sanders is any kind of contender. Here's The New York Times trying to win the award for this category with the headline, "Sanders Loses Third Place Spot in Nevada to Buttigieg," for example, and if you don't read the subhead, you miss how that happened: "As the senator rises to first in the polls, Buttigieg claims a strong lead behind Elizabeth Warren."

"The Real Barack Obama Has Finally Revealed Himself: Barack Obama is using his post-presidency to attack the Left and protect the status quo. The historical myth believed by so many liberals that Obama was a progressive leader who was hemmed in by the presidency's political constraints is collapsing fast. [...] More revealing, though, is what it tells us about Obama's attitude towards the populist left. The phrase 'stave off the same kind of forces that took over the GOP' belongs to Lizza rather than the former president himself, but it seems reasonable to conclude given Obama's words and actions that he views the Trumpian right and the populist left in roughly similar terms. If anything, Politico's investigation suggests he's been more concerned with opposing the latter since leaving the White House. As TrueAnon's Liz Franczak aptly put it: 'Obama went on like 200 billionaire yacht cruises and finalized his Netflix deal when Trump became president, but even a whiff of Sanders gaining momentum and he's running to the dais.' Now more than ever liberals, partisan Democrats, and progressives of every kind are overdue for a reckoning with Barack Obama, his legacy, and whatever residual feelings still linger from the euphoria of 2008. To his credit, Obama has always been fairly open about the conservative outlook that grounds his politics — even in the halcyon days of Yes We Can, he was already taking care to distance himself from radicalism and align himself with Reaganism. As for that initial question of what Obama wants, the answer is that he's told anyone willing to listen from the very beginning. Since 2016, his major concern has been to preserve a legacy whose progressive bona fides are increasingly threatened by the genuine radicalism of those to his left — and to use the vast power and influence at his disposal to stand in their way."

"'It's a Miracle': Helsinki's Radical Solution to Homelessness: Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them — unconditionally. [...] 'We decided to make the housing unconditional,' says Kaakinen. 'To say, look, you don't need to solve your problems before you get a home. Instead, a home should be the secure foundation that makes it easier to solve your problems.' [...] In England, meanwhile, government figures show the number of rough sleepers — a small fraction of the total homeless population — climbed from 1,768 in 2010 to 4,677 last year (and since the official count is based on a single evening, charities say the real figure is far higher)."

"Take Back Our Party Chapter 1: Their Democratic Party: The recent history of the Democrats, with neoliberalism ascendant, has offered little for ordinary working people. [...] The change that Clinton represented, however, went beyond a simple partisan shift in the White House. His historical significance lay in what he did not do. He did not reverse the conservative revolution and restore the core values of the New Deal. [...] In many ways, Clinton was the perfect standard bearer for the New Democrats. He was a Southern governor, apparently unstained by the corruption of the big city or of Congress. He had an impressive reputation as a policy wonk, having won a Rhodes Scholarship and graduated from the Yale Law School. He could fly back to Arkansas during the campaign to order the execution of the mentally disabled Ricky Ray Rector to demonstrate how 'tough on crime' he was. He emphasized welfare reform and school choice to highlight his willingness to break with past orthodoxies. He openly rejected his own party: 'The choice we offer is not conservative or liberal. In many ways, it is not even Republican or Democratic,' he said, accepting the nomination of the Democratic Party."

The Internet Archive is having a fundraiser. I want there to be a Wayback Machine so I hope you'll kick in, too.

Pretty! "Decorative Laser Cut Paper Compositions with Hand-Painted Ink by Julia Ibbini: United Emirates-based artist Julia Ibbini sources elements from Islamic geometry, embroidery, meenakari enamel work, and even electronic music to inspire the designs that compose her laser cut paper works."

"The Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar (2019 Edition)"

00:06 GMT comment


Sunday, 01 December 2019

Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity

Happy Advent, have some traditional music. At the darkest and coldest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, we need warmth and light, fellowship and joy, and I wish it to you all. Even Bill O'Reilly, much as he may try to spoil it.

"This is Bad: The Bolivian Military Coup Explained: Very Very Bad." It basically amounts to the right-wing claiming fraud because the popular left-wing president was pretty obviously winning, but read the article to see the details, which are a bit more than a simple pull-quote can clarify. And the OAS lied about "concerning" election results. Big takeway: The claim of "fraud" rests on the fact that returns from the areas where Morales' support is strongest came in later, so his six-point lead stretched over 10% as the data from the rural regions piled up.

Background from Newsweek back in April: "Bolivian Lawmakers Sent Letter To Donald Trump Asking Him To Intervene In Their Country's Election: A group of lawmakers in Bolivia is facing backlash after it sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting he work to intervene in their country's upcoming election in order to block President Evo Morales from running. The group of 12 politicians asked Trump to use Washington's influence within the Organization of American States to somehow prevent Morales from running for another term. In a 2016 referendum, which was later overturned by the South American country's Constitutional Tribunal, Bolivians voted to prevent Morales from seeking a fourth term." It's true that the referendum won, but it won very narrowly, and in the end, people clearly wanted to vote for Morales over the alternative. Which is probably why the opposition promoted term limits in the first place.

"Bolivia coup led by Christian fascist paramilitary leader and millionaire — with foreign support: Bolivian coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho is a far-right multi-millionaire who arose from fascist movements in the Santa Cruz region, where the US has encouraged separatism. He has courted support from Colombia, Brazil, and the Venezuelan opposition." The woman who simply declared herself interim president - supposedly for the sole purpose of calling new elections - has been very busy doing things that definitely are not in aid of free and fair elections, such as promising to arrest two-thirds of the legislature.. "The Bolivian Coup Is Not a Coup—Because US Wanted It to Happen: Army generals appearing on television to demand the resignation and arrest of an elected civilian head of state seems like a textbook example of a coup. And yet that is certainly not how corporate media are presenting the weekend's events in Bolivia. No establishment outlet framed the action as a coup; instead, President Evo Morales 'resigned' (ABC News, 11/10/19), amid widespread 'protests' (CBS News, 11/10/19) from an 'infuriated population' (New York Times, 11/10/19) angry at the 'election fraud' (Fox News, 11/10/19) of the 'full-blown dictatorship' (Miami Herald, 11/9/19). When the word 'coup' is used at all, it comes only as an accusation from Morales or another official from his government, which corporate media have been demonizing since his election in 2006 (FAIR.org, 5/6/09, 8/1/12, 4/11/19)."

"Unpacking Media Propaganda About Bolivia's Election: Pro-coup editorials rely on— and misreport—questionable evidence from the dubious OAS. To endorse the coup in Bolivia, numerous editorials in major US media outlets paint President Evo Morales as undemocratic. Exhibit A in their case is the Organization of American States' (OAS) claims that there was fraud in the October 20 Bolivian election in which Morales was elected for a fourth term. They also argue that he should not have been allowed to run again in the first place." A key claim in the propaganda is that Morales is "autocratic" because the Supreme Court overturned term limits, and the claim is that he had "packed the courts". That's an interesting charge since the judges aren't even appointed, but rather elected.

There was another debate. I can't seem to find a complete link yet but here's Everything Bernie Sanders Said During the Democratic Debate in Atlanta | NBC New York.

"Legislation That Would Surreptitiously Steal Social Security's $2.9 Trillion Surplus Has Been Defeated — But 97% of Republicans Voted For It: The following is a statement from Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works, in reaction to nearly every Republican member of the House of Representatives, as well as seven Democrats, voting for a Constitutional amendment requiring that all annual revenue and spending balance every year. The amendment failed to attain the two-thirds majority required to pass it into law:" If only they had an opposition party that was smart enough to make a big deal about this.

"Rodney Reed Lawyers 'Relieved and Thankful' After Stay of Execution Granted by Texas Court" - so far only a stay of execution, which is obviously not enough since he's now been fairly conclusively proved innocent. Bernie says it's not enough since we should join the civilized world and eliminate the death penalty.

In The New Republic, "The Fall of Nate Silver: His data journalism blog, FiveThirtyEight, is a political website with no politics—or rather, no politics beyond a mute approval of the status quo. [...] Silver, let's not forget, launched his career as a political forecaster in 2007 under the pen name 'poblano,' and as devilishly subversive as it no doubt was for a nerdy white boy to hide behind the pseudonymous cover of a foodstuff that brown people eat (this guy!), perhaps the signs were always there of a basic superficiality in the worldview of this, red flag incoming, University of Chicago economics major. "

"Watch The Iceland Christmas Ad Which Will Never Be Shown After Authorities Banned It; Supermarket Iceland's advert for Christmas has been banned for being too political. The commercial, made with Greenpeace, features an animated orangutan and highlights the destruction of the rainforest by palm oil growers."

Amazing Bloomberg headline: "Americans Are Dying Younger, Saving Corporations Billions: Life expectancy gains have stalled. The grim silver lining? Lower pension costs.

"Sweden drops investigation into bogus sexual misconduct allegations against Julian Assange: A Swedish prosecutor announced Tuesday morning that her office was dropping its preliminary investigation into allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It is the third time that Sweden has been compelled to shelve the investigation for lack of any evidence to support it, and confirms that the claims of 'rape' or 'sexual assault' by Assange are a politically motivated fraud. The Swedish investigation has always been a stalking horse for the US government, which has sought to extradite Assange, either from Sweden or Britain, where he is currently jailed, in order to lock him up forever or execute him on charges under the 1917 Espionage Act, because of WikiLeaks' publication of evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange was illegally dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London last April, after spending seven years inside, having been granted political asylum. At the time, the Swedish deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, reopened the investigation into claims—initiated by the police rather than the women involved—that Assange had been guilty of sexual assault in 2010."

This is the best news I've seen in a long time, that Mike's work will be back in print and with his last book finally published. "The Disappearance of John M. Ford: I wanted to learn why a beloved science fiction writer fell into obscurity after his death. I didn't expect that I would help bring his books back to life. [...] And so, after months of investigation, I found myself in an Iceberg Passage, seeing only some of the story while, lurking beneath the surface, other truths remained obscure. I do not share Ford's horror at obviousness, but there are simply things that we will never know. We will never know why Mike and his family grew apart, or, from the family's perspective, how far apart they were. We will never know who anonymously tried to edit the Wikipedia page to cut out Elise Matthesen. (The family denies any involvement.) But I reconnected Ford's family and editors at Tor, and after a year of delicate back-and-forth spearheaded by Beth Meacham, Tor and the family have reached an agreement that will gradually bring all of his books back into print, plus a new volume of stories, poems, Christmas cards, and other uncollected material. First up, in fall 2020, is the book that introduced me to Ford, The Dragon Waiting. Then, in 2021, Tor will publish— at long last— the unfinished Aspects, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman.

Astonishingly, in The New York Times, "Bernie Sanders vs. The Machine: In 1981, he was elected mayor of Burlington. But the city's bureaucracy showed him that winning wasn't everything. So he learned how to fight back. BURLINGTON, Vt. — The young woman on the political leaflet was smiling, but the message printed beside her in bold capital letters was severe. 'The last two years,' it said, 'have shown that those who made the revolution are not always the best to lead after the coup.' To voters in Burlington, in 1983, the reference to Bernie Sanders was unmistakable. What Democrats here were calling a coup was this: A young socialist had captured the mayor's office two years earlier by a margin of just 10 votes, upending the political order in a comfortable lakeside city of about 38,000. For decades, an old-school Democratic machine had dominated municipal government. In 1983, the party intended to reclaim control by assailing Mr. Sanders's 'unkept promises.' But in his re-election campaign that year, Mr. Sanders crushed the competition. Casting himself as a champion of the people against the establishment, Mr. Sanders summoned voters to the polls in unusual numbers. He triumphed over two opponents — one Democrat and one Republican — by more than 20 percentage points."

"Federal Judge Allows North Dakota Republicans to Block Native Americans From Voting [...] Following Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's narrow victory in 2012, North Dakota's Republican lawmakers passed a new law requiring voters to present an ID that lists their current residential street address. The measure plainly targeted Native Americans, many of whom live on rural reservations with no street names or residential addresses. Previously, residents could vote with a valid mailing address, allowing rural tribal voters to list their P.O. Box. Now they must provide an ID with their exact residency—something that many Native Americans don't have and can't get."

Deconstructed Special: The Noam Chomsky Interview (audio and transcription), with Mehdi Hasan. "Forty years of the neoliberal assault on the general population which has been extremely harmful almost everywhere. It's led to anger, resentment, contempt for institutions. And when you have a period of unfocused anger, resentment and so on, it's fertile territory for demagogues to arise, and try to mobilize it, and blame it, not on its sources. So, like not on the international financial institutions that are lying behind it to a substantial extent. But to focus it on scapegoats. Typically, people even more vulnerable than you are, immigrants, Muslims, Afro-Americans. This goes way back to Ronald Reagan's 'Welfare queens' and so on and many other demagogues in the past. So yes, that's rising.".

Kate Aronoff in The Nation, "We Need a Green Bailout for the People: Here's what the government should demand when the economy tumbles and Wall Street comes begging. [...] The next crash will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to decarbonize the economy, so the next recovery cannot aim to just blindly increase output and demand. An industrial mobilization on the scale of a Green New Deal could cause a short-term spike in emissions, but it will need to transform consumption qualitatively by giving more people access to real prosperity, not just the ability to buy more cheap junk. Sociologist Daniel Aldana Cohen has aptly called for a 'last stimulus' that would dramatically shrink those parts of the economy we don't need (fossil fuels, speculative finance, building more McMansions) while increasing those we do (renewable energy, public transit, care work, affordable housing, education, the arts, and more)."

"Is Your Employer Stealing From You? Millions of workers lose billions in stolen wages every year—nearly as much as all other property theft. [...] Wage theft isn't one of the crimes most prosecutors and politicians refer to when they talk about getting "tough on crime," but it represents a massive chunk of all theft committed in the U.S. A 2017 study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that in the ten most populous states, an estimated 2.4 million people lose a combined $8 billion in income every year to theft by their employers. That's nearly half as much as all other property theft combined last year—$16.4 billion according to the FBI. And again, EPI's findings are only for ten states. According to the institute, the typical worker victimized by minimum-wage violations is underpaid by $64 per week, totaling $3,300 per year. If its figures are representative of a national phenomenon, then EPI estimates that the yearly total for American wage theft is closer to $15 billion."

"California Mayors Back Plan to Make PG&E a Cooperative: Frustrated with wildfires and intentional blackouts caused by Pacific Gas & Electric, more than two dozen California mayors and county leaders are calling for a customer-owned power company to replace the giant utility."

A recent poll found that Fox News viewers were more likely to support Bernie Sanders than viewers of MSNBC were. That's not surprising, since Fox attacks Sanders all the time in just the ways that are likely to make people want to vote for him, but "MSNBC Is the Most Influential Network Among Liberals—And It's Ignoring Bernie Sanders: When the network's primetime pundits do cover Sanders, they cover him more negatively than Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden."

Linda Sarsour in Teen Vogue, "Yes, Women of Color Support Bernie Sanders. It's Time to Stop Erasing Our Voices. In this op-ed, the activist and Sanders surrogate argues that Sanders is the only candidate who can bring transformational change. [...] Women of color are exhausted from bearing the disproportionate burdens of inequality — and with so much at stake in this election, we are exhausted from having to explain ourselves. Every time our choice for the presidency is discredited, our agency of women of color is stripped away. Every time people echo the patently false 'Bernie Bro' narrative, they erase our voices as well. Regardless of who the Democratic nominee is, we will not hesitate to support them in the summer of 2020. But by supporting Sanders in the primary, women of color are simply continuing the fight for justice we have spearheaded for generations."

Oh, look whose reared his bankster head again. "Deval Patrick, Foreclosure Mogul: How the 2020 Democratic presidential contender helped a Republican billionaire rip off the middle class." Short version: He covered for Ameriquest. He also covered for Texaco. "Under Patrick's leadership in 1997, the DOJ signed a $176 million settlement with Texaco for racial discrimination against its employees. A year after a court approved the deal, he left the DOJ for a job as Texaco's top in-house attorney." It appears Barack himself has convinced him to enter the presidential race. I guess he doesn't fancy the chances of any of the other "centrists" in the race and really hates the alternative possibilities of Warren and Sanders.

"The Iron Law of Institutions: What You Need to Know About Voting in the 2020 Primary [...] If you don't believe the Democratic party is redeemable, don't get your hopes up that another party would end up being much better. Any other party would also be subject to the Iron Law of Institutions. It thus would be quickly just as dreadful as the Democrats...unless people put in the same amount of work as would be required to clean out the Democrats' Augean stables.

"Billionaires hurt economic growth and should be taxed out of existence, says bestselling French economist [...] Thomas Piketty, whose 2013 book on inequality, Capital in the 21st Century, became a global bestseller and bible for tax-the-rich progressives, just published a 1,200-page follow-up book called Capital and Ideology It won't be published in English until March. But in an interview with the French magazine L'Obs, Piketty called for a graduated wealth tax of 5% on those worth 2 million euros or more and up to 90% on those worth more than 2 billion euros. [...] Piketty added that the notion that billionaires create jobs and boost growth is false. He said per capita income growth was 2.2% a year in the U.S. between 1950 and 1990. But when the number of billionaires exploded in the 1990s and 2000s — growing from about 100 in 1990 to around 600 today — per capita income growth fell to 1.1%."

"The US could raise $1 trillion more in taxes through stricter IRS enforcement, according to a new study [...] There will be more than $7.5 trillion uncollected taxes by 2029 under the current system, they estimated, and roughly 70% of that would be driven by underpayment by the top 1% of earners."

Dean Baker, "How Rich Would Bill Gates Be Without His Copyright on Windows? [...] This simple and obvious point matters because it is popular in many circles to claim that income inequality is just an inevitable, even if unfortunate, result of technology and globalization. In fact, there is nothing inevitable about patent and copyright protection; these monopolies exist as a result of government policy. The fact that Bill Gates and many others have gotten hugely rich as a result of these protections is a result of government policy, not an inevitable outcome of technological progress."

"Why Political Pundits Are Obsessed with Hidden Moderates [...] This isn't just a question of bad punditry—it's a window into how skewed our standards have become by the extreme concentration of wealth and the normalization of an assault on the formerly bipartisan, post-war governing consensus, which embraced forceful government regulation of corporations and a steeply progressive income tax structure. But while elites have accepted the concentration of wealth, the leveling of the tax code and the decimation of even basic consumer protections as normal, the majority of voters have not. Americans have been losing faith in government for decades, long before Trump. And income inequality is driving that loss of faith."

David Dayen, "What Obama Really Wants: His interventions in the presidential race are music to the ears of the wealthy and powerful. [...] Obama has determined to put his thumb on the primary scale, and he couches his critique in the language of electability, in what voters really want. Practically every Democrat in America wants to eject Donald Trump from the White House, and ask 100 of them and you get 101 theories of how to make that happen. But without doubting Obama's sincerity that a moderate politics and only a moderate politics can spell victory next November, I can't help but notice the audiences for his targeted attacks on progressive policy: wealthy donors in the most rarefied, winner-take-all enclaves of America, whether in Washington last week or San Francisco on Thursday. It's rather telling that The New York Times quoted Obama's friend Robert Wolf to unlock the former president's mindset, when he argued that Obama is 'trying to set a tone.' Who is Robert Wolf? The former chairman and CEO of UBS Americas, the U.S. affiliate of the Swiss megabank, who now sits on the board of Obama's foundation, and owns a venture capital firm and a company offering 'drones as a service' on the side. That's the milieu Obama lives in today; he hasn't spent a year on the campaign trail like the candidates have. And his warnings about runaway liberals doing 'crazy stuff' just so happen to line up with protecting the profits and lifestyles of those wealthy donors. In doing so, Obama is revealing the limits of his own incrementalism, which cannot surmount a Washington rigged in favor of elites. This has real consequences in politics and policy, for who sits in power and who struggles on the outside. During his own presidency, Obama told a group of bankers that he was the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks. Here we are, sadly, again."

Haretz, "The Contract on Corbyn [...] Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. He never was. His real sin is his staunch position against injustice in the world, including the version Israel perpetrates. Today this is anti-Semitism. The Hungarian Viktor Orban, the Austrian Freedom Party and the extreme right in Europe are not the danger to Jews. Corbyn is the enemy. The new and efficient strategy of Israel and the Zionist establishment brands every seeker of justice as an anti-Semite, and any criticism of Israel as hatred of Jews. Corbyn is a victim of this strategy, which threatens to paralyze and silence Europe with regard to Israel."

An entertaining little ad from the Labour Party, "Jeremy Corbyn: There's a DEADLINE to rewrite your future."

Mehdi Hasan, "When Asked How They'll Pay for Their Plans, Democrats Should Answer Just as Trump Does: Mexico: [...] When they are inevitably asked by a moderator from MSNBC or the Washington Post how they plan to 'pay for' one of their signature proposals — whether it is Medicare for All (Elizabeth Warren), a Green New Deal (Bernie Sanders), baby bonds (Cory Booker), middle-class tax cuts (Kamala Harris), or a universal basic income (Andrew Yang) — they should respond with one word: Mexico. Mexico, they should say, with the straightest of straight faces, will pay for it. Yes, that line would get a big laugh from the crowd in the hall. It would go viral online. It would endear the candidate who dares say it to Democratic voters watching at home (many of whom are fed up with debate moderators who constantly frame their questions around GOP talking points). It would help that candidate dominate the post-debate headlines on cable news. But it would do much more than that: It would serve a major strategic purpose. Democrats who dare to remind pundits and the public of Donald Trump's ridiculous yet oft-repeated campaign pledge that 'Mexico will pay for the wall' would finally be drawing a crucial line in the sand and saying to Republicans, to the media, and even to each other, that they will no longer be playing the tiresome and very right-wing 'pay for' game."

The tweet caught my attention:: While we were distracted by Ukrainegate over the past weeks, @SpeakerPelosi hid an extension of the Patriot Act into HR 3050, the House's version of the bipartisan bill in the senate that allows for trillions in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid Snap and SS." And the linked article: "Why the Hell Did Democrats Just Extend the Patriot Act? House leadership included the measure in a government funding bill—and even members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus went along with it. [...] Just 10 Democrats defied the leadership to vote against the resolution, including Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar (a.k.a. 'the Squad'). 'I cannot in good conscience vote in favor of a [continuing resolution] that reauthorizes unconstitutional mass surveillance authorities,' Tlaib told me, 'especially under a president who has retweeted images of his opponents jailed and suggests anyone who disagrees with him is a criminal.' AOC tweeted before the vote, 'Yeah that's gonna be a no from me dog.'"

"Senate Democrats Join GOP to Back 'Automatic Austerity' Bill That Would Gut Social Programs, Hamstring Bold Policies: 'One priority of a Sanders or Warren White House absolutely must be politically crushing the deficit scolds within the Democratic Party.' A handful of Senate Democrats joined forces with Republicans last week to advance sweeping budget legislation that would establish an "automatic deficit-reduction process" that could trigger trillions of dollars in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and other social programs—and potentially hobble the agenda of the next president. The Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act (S.2765), authored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), passed out of the Senate Budget Committee on November 6. The legislation is co-sponsored by five members of the Senate Democratic caucus: Whitehouse, Mark Warner (Va.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Chris Coons (Del.), and Angus King (I-Maine). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, issued a statement last week opposing the legislation and warning it 'could be used by Republicans to unilaterally cut programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and nutrition assistance—all supposedly to reduce the deficit.'" The others you could expect this from, but I don't think I'll pay attention next time someone tells me what a great progressive Sheldon Whitehouse is.

"Los Angeles County to Introduce VSAP E-Voting System: NOT Hand-Marked, NOT Paper, NOT Hand-Counted in Public: No doubt Los Angeles County's VSAP ('Voting Solutions for All People') rollout will not be covered as a debacle. The real question is: If there were a debacle — like, say, a case of election fraud — would we even know? Doubtful. Just what we want in a voting system! In this post, I'll give a brief overview of issues with electronic voting. Then I'll look at VSAP as an institution. Next, I'll show why the VSAP system is not only insecure, but likely to make money-in-politics even worse than it already is."

"No Imitations and No Limitations: Phillip Agnew talks to us about the Movement for Black Lives, the erasure of Bernie Sanders's diverse support base, and the need for a North Star beyond capitalism. [...] Yes, if anything, Barack Obama was a tranquilizer to many people. When activists went to visit him in the White House, he spoke down to us, counseling us on the way he sees change happening. He continues to speak ill of movements since leaving the presidency."

"Top U.S. Toxicologist Was Barred From Saying PFAS Cause Disease In Humans. She's Saying It Now.: THE WIDESPREAD ENVIRONMENTAL contaminants known as PFAS cause multiple health problems in people, according to Linda Birnbaum, who retired as director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program earlier this month. The statement may come as little surprise to those following the medical literature on the industrial chemicals that have been used to make nonstick coatings, firefighting foam, and host of other products. Thousands of scholarly articles have linked the chemicals to at least 800 health effects. Some of the health problems found in humans — including elevated cholesterol levels, liver dysfunction, weight gain, reproductive problems and kidney cancer — have been shown to increase along with the levels of the chemicals in blood. Extensive research also shows that children with higher levels of PFAS have weakened immune responses. Yet while she was leading the NIEHS, a division of the National Institutes of Health, whose mission is 'to discover how the environment affects people, in order to promote healthier lives,' Birnbaum was not allowed to use the word 'cause' when referring to the health effects from PFAS or other chemicals."

Adolph Reed, Jr., "How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence [...] But, when we step away from focus on racial disproportions, the glaring fact is that whites are roughly half or nearly half of all those killed annually by police. And the demand that we focus on the racial disparity is simultaneously a demand that we disattend from other possibly causal disparities. Zaid Jilani found, for example, that ninety-five percent of police killings occurred in neighborhoods with median family income of less than $100,00 and that the median family income in neighborhoods where police killed was $52,907.4 And, according to the Washington Post data, the states with the highest rates of police homicide per million of population are among the whitest in the country: New Mexico averages 6.71 police killings per million; Alaska 5.3 per million; South Dakota 4.69; Arizona and Wyoming 4.2, and Colorado 3.36. It could be possible that the high rates of police killings in those states are concentrated among their very small black populations—New Mexico 2.5%; Alaska 3.9%; South Dakota 1.9%; Arizona 4.6%, Wyoming 1.7%, and Colorado 4.5%. However, with the exception of Colorado—where blacks were 17% of the 29 people killed by police—that does not seem to be the case. Granted, in several of those states the total numbers of people killed by police were very small, in the low single digits. Still, no black people were among those killed by police in South Dakota, Wyoming, or Alaska. In New Mexico, there were no blacks among the 20 people killed by police in 2015, and in Arizona blacks made up just over 2% of the 42 victims of police killing."

"Drinking water supplying Great Lake turns toxic [...] 'If you did a Google image search for 'Toledo water,' what would pop up is the Toledo skyline where the Maumee River looks like the Chicago River on (St. Patrick's Day),' Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said. "The only difference is we didn't put any dye in it.'"

Patriotic Millionaires have a column in The Hill, "Ensuring everyone pays their fair share: Most people have heard of the estate tax, or as it's labeled by conservative fearmongers, the 'death tax.' But few understand just how important it is, how weak it's become in recent years, or why that matters. Thanks to the 2017 Trump tax cut — one of the biggest wealth grabs in history — a couple can now pass on an estate worth up to $22.8 million completely tax-free. With such a high cutoff before you start paying any estate tax at all, this clearly isn't something that prevents working class families from passing along their savings to their children and grandchildren. Rather, it's one of the best defenses we have in addressing economic inequality — one of the defining challenges of our time — and pushing back against the growth of a new American aristocracy, one in which a small number of wealthy families get wealthier while working Americans fall further behind. It's the only tax that many ultra-rich heirs will ever pay on the millions of dollars they're inheriting. And unless you're incredibly wealthy, you'll never pay a cent of it."

"Researchers Discover Seaweed That Tastes Like Bacon And Is Twice As Healthy As Kale: Researchers at Oregon State have patented a new strain of seaweed that tastes like bacon when it's cooked. The seaweed, a form of red marine algae, looks like translucent red lettuce. It also has twice the nutritional value of kale and grows very quickly. Did we mention it tastes like bacon?"

Pareen in The New Republic, The Death of the Rude Press: Deadspin and Splinter were only the most recent victims of a culling that began many years ago. [...] This is not a story about the private equity vampires ruining this specific company. It is about the implications of the fact that Splinter was not allowed to live, and Deadspin is not allowed to be political. Rude media, for lack of a better term, is dying. [...] Rudeness is not merely a tone. It is an attitude. The defining quality of rude media is skepticism about power, and a refusal to respect the niceties that power depends on to disguise itself and maintain its dominance. It's often hard for me to imagine that anyone can grow up in this era and not end up doubting the competence and motives of nearly everyone in charge of nearly every American institution, but some of us grow up instead to be Bari Weiss. For various reasons you could figure out after a couple hours with the writings of a Noam Chomsky or a Robert McChesney, this skepticism is frequently missing from the coverage of what we once called the 'mainstream media,' and people who have long and successful careers at our most prestigious press outlets tend to either never possess it, or have it systematically beaten out of them over time."

"Trends in Party Identification, 1939-2014: For more than 70 years, with few exceptions, more Americans have identified as Democrats than Republicans. But the share of independents, which surpassed the percentages of either Democrats or Republicans several years ago, continues to increase. Currently, 39% Americans identify as independents, 32% as Democrats and 23% as Republicans. This is the highest percentage of independents in more than 75 years of public opinion polling. Report: A Deep Dive Into Party Affiliation"

RIP: "Diahann Carroll: Pioneering actress dies aged 84 Carroll, who was 84, starred in 1960s TV show Julia, the first US sitcom to centre on a black woman. She was also the first black woman to win the Tony for best actress in 1962, for Broadway musical No Strings. She went on to be nominated for an Oscar for best actress in 1975 for Claudine.

I was cheered to see this in The Los Angeles Times, "Opinion: The Democratic debate confirmed it — we've entered the 'Bernaissance' [...] He and his supporters gathered on a scorching unshaded high school basketball court at a rally in El Sereno last weekend. Hearing him address nurses and teachers and undocumented Americans with such vitality, in the midst of such a vital campaign, just weeks after a heart attack, was moving. 'No half measures,' he insisted at the rally. 'We don't have decades,' he said about the climate crisis Wednesday night. Sanders has a sense of urgency that matches this moment and thoughtful policies — his devotion to which has been proven over the course of decades — to match that drive."

Nicole Aschoff reviewed Matt Stoller's latest book and criticized it - from the left. "It's Not Enough to Be Against 'the Monopolies': Antitrust is, and was, an extremely limited strategy for reining in corporations. We need a broader project to democratize the economy and the state. The 2008 financial crisis was traumatizing for millions of Americans. For some, the pain was visceral, caused by losing a job, a home, savings. For others, like Matt Stoller, the suffering was more existential. Stoller was working as a congressional staffer during the financial meltdown and witnessed firsthand how the US government screwed over homeowners while bailing out the bankers and speculators who had caused the crisis. Stoller wasn't alone in his disgust. Neil Barofsky, a prosecutor for the Southern District of New York who was brought on to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program, had similar sentiments. After much thought (and a book), Barofsky concluded that the US government had been 'captured by the banks.' Stoller would no doubt agree, but in his new book, Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy, he situates the crisis in a much longer struggle.

RIP: Michael J Pollard, at 80, from a heart attack. "American actor who played the hapless getaway driver in the 1967 film classic Bonnie and Clyde." He also had a bunch of sf genre credits, but our eyes once met across a hotel lobby while I was checking in and he was looking straight at me and caught my look of surprised recognition. He was just as twinkly as he was on screen and I grinned and gave him a wink and went to find my room in the strange and legendary Chelsea. No idea what he was doing there, he'd just been sitting as if he was waiting for someone to arrive.

"Steal This Archive? Abbie Hoffman's Papers Become a College Collection: Thousands of letters and other artifacts from the life of the radical prankster of the counterculture are sold to the University of Texas at Austin"

Ringo was lookin' really good the day they did that shoot. "Abbey Road Walk"

I'm sorry, I can't explain my sudden inability to stop hearing Queen in my head all the time, but there it is. "Don't Stop Me Now" for an hour.

00:21 GMT comment


Sunday, 10 November 2019

One golden glance of what should be

"Democratic Socialists Had a Pretty Good Election Night: Several of the victories were in purple states. [...] Some were historic victories. In Philadelphia, the DSA-backed independent candidate Kendra Brooks won her City Council seat by over 10,000 votes, flipping a slot held by Republicans for generations. The national organization even sent DSA members from New York down to Philly to help knock on doors for her. [...] DSA members not endorsed by the national committee also won city council seats in Medford and Lansing; in Virginia — where Democrats won a majority of seats in the state legislature and turned every branch of the state blue for the first time in 26 years — delegate Lee Carter, a DSA member, won reelection."

"BERN NOTICE: Trump Pal Matt Bevin's Attacks On Bernie Wildly Backfired: After portraying his reelection campaign as an explicit crusade against Bernie and the working-class agenda fueling Bernie's campaign, GOP Gov. Matt Bevin said he felt 'confident' he'd win by 6 to 10 points in the Republican-leaning state of Kentucky. Instead, by the end of election night, Bevin was down, and both Kentucky's Secretary of State and NBC News declared that Bevin lost the race. Whatever happens with the final results (Bevin has not conceded), the fact that Kentucky's election was even close is a fantastic sign for the 2020 election and Bernie's campaign. It shows that GOP attacks on Bernie and his agenda are likely to backfire — even in traditionally Republican states."

"Fracking halted in England in major government U-turn: Victory for green groups follows damning scientific study and criticism from spending watchdog.The government has halted fracking in England with immediate effect in a watershed moment for environmentalists and community activists. Ministers also warned shale gas companies it would not support future fracking projects, in a crushing blow to companies that had been hoping to capitalise on one of the new frontiers of growth in the fossil fuel industry. The decision draws a line under years of bitter opposition to the controversial extraction process in a major victory for green groups and local communities. The decision was taken after a new scientific study warned it was not possible to rule out 'unacceptable' consequences for those living near fracking sites. The report, undertaken by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), also warned it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes fracking might trigger."

"Brazil's former president Lula walks free from prison after supreme court ruling: Brazil's former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been released from prison after a supreme court ruling that delighted his supporters and infuriated followers of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. Lula, who was serving a 12-year corruption sentence, was greeted by hundreds of supporters wearing red vests emblazoned with his face outside the federal police headquarters in the city of Curitiba, where he had been imprisoned for 580 days. In a speech to the crowd, Lula thanked party militants who had camped outside throughout his imprisonment, and attacked the 'rotten side' of the police, prosecutors, tax office and justice system for jailing him." Shortly after his release, Lula was on Twitter thanking Bernie Sanders for his solidarity - and endorsing him for president.

Flabbergasting interview:The Enigma of Clarence Thomas w/ Corey Robin - MR Live - 11/4/19. Some people wonder where Clarence Thomas is coming from, but I gotta admit, I was not expecting that.

On CNN, "Cornel West: This is not the time for centrism: CNN's Anderson Cooper sat down with professor Cornel West to discuss Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and what it means to be a democratic socialist."

"Career-Long Conservative Joe Biden Attacks Progressives, Extols Imaginary Bipartisanship And Middle Way To Nowhere And Nothing [...] When Biden-- almost as big a liar as Trump-- wrote that "I have fought for the Democratic party my whole career" he was lying in the same manner he's been lying his whole life. [PolitiFact rates 15% of Trump's public statements 'true' or 'mostly true' and rates 37% of Biden's 'true' or 'mostly true,' better than Trump for sure-- but that still leave most of what he says a lie. Most Democratic politicians mostly tell the truth, not most lie.] In the past, Biden has admitted that when he was just getting started in politics he 'thought of myself as a Republican.' The Delaware Republican Party was talking with him about running as a Republican but he was hesitant because he didn't like Richard Nixon. Because of that antipathy for Nixon, he registered as an Independent. After he went to work for a local Democrat, Sid Balick, he switched his registration to Democrat and soon after began running for office, appealing to white resentment of black people.

"By trying to Silence Sanders, the Corporate Media De-Legitimize Themselves [...] In the absence of massive, grassroots movements, corporate voices always drown out all the others. Capitalist ownership of the media allows the rich to frame their own worldview as the political 'center,' thus relegating contending ideologies to the 'extremes' of left or right. In this sense, 'centrism' is nothing more than the political position of the corporate owners, who construct media versions of reality that make corporate-concocted policies seem the most logical, commonsensical and socially responsible approach to the world's problems. As long as the rich can sustain broad public trust in the 'truth' of their 'journalistic' products -- newspapers, electronic newscasts, books and other media created by professional operatives directly answerable to rich owners — widespread revolt against the corporate order is unlikely. "

"The Media Has a Right-Wing Bias. Politico's Founder Just Admitted It: How Republicans benefit from the media's centrist instincts. [...] It's hard to think of an analogy that does this justice. Phil Jackson admitting the triangle offense has lost its potency in the space-and-pace NBA? Paul Ryan turning on trickle-down economics? This is not exactly a mea culpa. Instead, it's a forthright description of the way that D.C. media works, all but acknowledging that liberal critics of mainstream news coverage have been right all along. Despite what the right might say, the problem with the news isn't a liberal bias—it's bias toward an arbitrary, made-up center that ends up tilting reality against liberal policies and politicians. [...] Here one of the nation's preeminent political journalists is admitting that he and other members of his class adhere to a rather cynical ideology—the ideology of finding the midway point between a normal party with normal policies and proposals and an intellectually bankrupt tribe of troglodytes that gets crazier and more morally repugnant by the day. The problem, in the view of Harris, is that pesky 'activists' (which is really just another word for 'voters') get in the way. Candidates like Warren and Bernie Sanders suffer in this environment because their ideas are out of step with the D.C. consensus. They are automatically categorized as 'extreme,' their ideas 'unworkable,' all because they reject the midway-point mode of governance, which only ends up favoring the actual extremists on the right."

Shickha Dalmia in The Week, "The real reason Kamala Harris is tanking [...] The real reason she's falling is that the more voters learn about Harris' decade-and-a-half record, first as a San Francisco prosecutor and then as the California attorney general, the more they recoil. And rightly so. Harris has long billed herself as a "progressive prosecutor." To most people, that would strike as oxymoronic. But to her this meant using the carceral state that conservatives like to tackle social problems that progressives care about. She's got the mindset of a cop who wants to save you not from the bad guys but yourself. "She repeatedly fought for more aggressive prosecution not just of violent criminals but of people who committed misdemeanor and 'quality of life' crimes," Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown noted after an exhaustive look at Harris' record."

"The Inflation Gap: A new analysis indicates that rising prices have been quietly taxing low-income families more heavily than rich ones. In an era of wild inequality, sputtering wages, and rising rents and health-care costs, the American working class has had one consistent financial respite: 'stuff,' broadly defined, is cheap. Sure, workers might not be able to afford a decent apartment, a college education, or sufficient elder care for an infirm relative, or to ever, ever get sick. But burgers, leggings, yard tools, bicycles, dishes, smartphones, soda—these items have become less expensive, thanks to big-box stores and internet retailers and imports from abroad. Or perhaps not. A new analysis from a prominent group of economic researchers suggests not only that rising prices have been quietly taxing low-income families more heavily than rich ones, but also that, after accounting for that trend, the American poverty rate is significantly higher than the official measures suggest. Call it 'inflation inequality,' a subtle, pernicious way that the fortunes of the rich and the poor have diverged. Using government data and scanner data from retail stores—the bar codes that get swiped at Target, the produce codes that get punched in at grocery stores—Xavier Jaravel of the London School of Economics found that from 2004 to 2015, the prices of the products purchased by the bottom income quintile increased faster than the prices of the products purchased by the top income quintile. As a result, low-income families experienced an annual rate of inflation conservatively estimated at 0.44 percentage points higher than that of high-income families."

"Manufacturing Fear and Loathing, Maximizing Corporate Profits! A Review of Matt Taibbi's Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another [...] For all that, however, the most salient difference between the news media of 1989 and the news media of 2019 is the disappearance of the single type of calm and decorous and slightly boring cis-het white anchorman (who somehow successfully appealed to a nationwide audience) and his replacement by a seemingly wide variety of demographically-engineered news personæ who all rage and scream combatively in each other's direction. 'In the old days,' Taibbi writes, 'the news was a mix of this toothless trivia and cheery dispatches from the frontlines of Pax Americana.... The news [was] once designed to be consumed by the whole house.... But once we started to be organized into demographic silos [italics mine], the networks found another way to seduce these audiences: they sold intramural conflict' (p. 18). And in this new media environment of constant conflict, how, Taibbi wondered, could public consent, which would seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum from conflict, still be manufactured?? 'That wasn't easy for me to see in my first decades in the business,' Taibbi writes. 'For a long time, I thought it was a flaw in the Chomsky/Herman model' (p. 19). But what Taibbi was at length able to understand, and what he is now able to describe for us with both wit and controlled outrage, is that our corporate media have devised — at least for the time being — highly-profitable marketing processes that manufacture fake dissent in order to smother real dissent (p. 21). And the smothering of real dissent is close enough to public consentto get the goddam job done: The Herman/Chomsky model is, after all these years, still valid. Or pretty much so. Taibbi is more historically precise. Because of the tweaking of the Herman/Chomsky propaganda model necessitated by the disappearance of the USSR in 1991 ('The Russians escaped while we weren't watching them, / As Russians do...,' Jackson Browne presciently prophesied on MTV way back in 1983), one might now want to speak of a Propaganda Model 2.0. For, as Taibbi notes, '...the biggest change to Chomsky's model is the discovery of a far superior 'common enemy' in modern media: each other. So long as we remain a bitterly-divided two-party state, we'll never want for TV villains' (pp. 207-208)."

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism notices something odd. "Paul Jay and Sharmini Peries Ousted from The Real News Network in June; Current Fundraiser Hides that Fact; Falling Viewership and Liberal Turn Result: It's remarkable, or perhaps a function of the aggressive use of non-disclosure agreements, that the June defenestration of Paul Jay and Sharmini Peries from The Real News Network, the site they had founded and run for over a decade, has been kept under wraps for so long." And now that I think of it, I haven't posted anything from TRRN since April, haven't seen anything interesting from there.

Luke Savage, "Neoliberalism? Never Heard of It: The latest liberal parlor game is pretending there's no such thing as neoliberalism. The game's very popularity highlights neoliberalism's enduring hegemony. For the first time in decades, it has become possible to envision real alternatives to the prevailing political and economic order of the past forty years. In both Europe and the Americas, the neoliberal consensus is facing a crisis of moral, intellectual, and popular legitimacy: proving unable to deliver either the growth or the broad prosperity its ideologues once promised and facing robust electoral challenges from both the socialist left and the nationalist right. Predictably enough, this turn of events has elicited a defensive response from neoliberalism's greatest partisans and those otherwise invested in its political and cultural hegemony."

"Measles wipes out immune system's memory, study finds: Scientists say threat posed by measles is 'much greater than we previously imagined' [...] Measles causes long-term damage to the immune system, leaving children who have had it vulnerable to other infections long after the initial illness has passed, research has revealed. Two studies of unvaccinated children in an Orthodox Protestant community in the Netherlands found that measles wipes out the immune system's memory of previous illnesses, returning it to a more baby-like state, and also leaves the body less equipped to fight off new infections. Measles eliminated between 11% and 73% of children's protective antibodies, the research found."

Still fun to watch: "Old Movie Stars Dance to Uptown Funk"

Queen, "It's a Kind of Magic"

19:02 GMT comment


Thursday, 31 October 2019

Tell them Boris sent you

If you were thinking you couldn't figure out the news from the British Parliament merely because you are American and therefore the British system is just too alien to you, no, it's not that. No one here knows what's going on, either. Conversations almost daily go something like this: "Did you hear Boris did X?" "Yeah, but what's it mean?" "Nobody knows."

"Trump administration official resigns, calls for massive student debt forgiveness: A senior government official appointed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned Thursday, saying the current student loan system is 'fundamentally broken' and calling for billions of dollars in debt to be forgiven. A. Wayne Johnson was hired as the chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, which manages the country's $1.6 trillion outstanding student loan portfolio. He later worked in a strategic role, directing how student loans are serviced for borrowers." He says he's going to run for the Senate as a Republican on a platform of eliminating student debt, using a tax increase to pay for it. As Dan Riffle tweeted, "The thing about overton window politics is you don't just move your own party. The leading edge moves left, and the trailing edge moves left with it."

John Nichols in The Nation, "Bernie Sanders Is As Frustrated as Ever With Corporate Media: The senator explains to The Nation why he is raising concerns not just about the presidential debates but about the media's narrow coverage of national crises. [...] Critiquing media coverage of debates and campaigns, issues and ideas is nothing new for Sanders. He has been calling out 'the corporate media' in much the same language that he now employs for decades. When Robert W. McChesney and I were writing about media and democracy issues in the mid-1990s, Sanders, who was then serving in the House of Representatives, and Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone were among the rare members of Congress who recognized that the conglomeration of media ownership—and the influence of this consolidated media on our politics—could not be ignored. [...] 'Even more important than much of the corporate media's dislike of our campaign is the fact that much of the coverage in this country portrays politics as entertainment, and largely ignores the major crises facing our communities,' wrote Sanders. 'In fact, what I have learned from experience is that, as a general rule of thumb, the more important the issue is to large numbers of working people, the less interesting it is to the corporate media. Sadly, for the corporate media, the real issues facing the American people—poverty, the decline of the middle class, income and wealth inequality, trade, health care, climate change, education etc.—are fairly irrelevant.'"

New campaign ad: "Bernie's Burlington: The Spark That Spread Around the Country"

"Harris Loses Ground in California to Front-Runners Warren and Sanders: Less than five months before Californians vote in the 2020 presidential primary, a new Change Research poll for KQED shows U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris losing ground to the front-runners, Sens. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts and Vermont's Bernie Sanders. The poll, taken after last week's Democratic candidate debate, finds Warren is the top choice of 28% of primary voters, followed by Sanders at 24% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 19%. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is fourth with 9% followed by Harris at 8%."

"Bernie Sanders Vows To Revive Criminal Prosecutions Of CEOs For Unfair Trade Practices: BERNIE SANDERS, IF he were elected president, would revive the criminal provisions of the Sherman Antitrust Act to prosecute CEOs who have illegally monopolized a market, he told The Intercept in an interview. The Sherman Act is the Department of Justice's main tool for enforcing antitrust laws, which are meant to prevent monopolies from dominating an industry, which harms workers, consumers, and other businesses. It has both civil and criminal provisions, though in recent years, prosecutors have relied only on its civil provisions, with the intent of breaking up monopolies and opening markets. Asked if the criminal provisions, which could see a CEO locked up for 10 years if intent to engage in unfair restrictions on trade can be proven, Sanders said, 'Damn right they should be.'"

On Democracy NOW!, "Noam Chomsky: Bernie Sanders is Not a Radical, He Has Mass Support for Positions on Healthcare & Taxes: During an event Tuesday night, Noam Chomsky was asked about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and said he considered him more of a 'New Deal Democrat' than a radical extremist, as some have portrayed him. Chomsky said Sanders' positions on taxes and healthcare are supported by a majority of the American public, and have been for a long time. He added that Sanders has 'mobilized a large number of young people who are saying, 'Look, we're not going to consent anymore.' If that turns into a continuing, organized, mobilized force, that could change the country—maybe not for this election, but in the longer term.'"

"The Real Obama: What the president does in retirement will reveal his true self.. [...] During his two terms in office, Barack Obama's most zealous devotees tended to explain away apparent failures or complacencies by referring to the constraints high office places on anyone who ascends to it. Even some critics on the left may have suspected that the deeds of Obama's administration were out of sync with his natural instincts, that Obama was a man of high conscience weighed down or blunted by Washington's leviathan bureaucracy, or frustrated by the exigencies of an unstable world. Obama's retirement should therefore finally give us meaningful insight into who he really is or, to put it another way, who he has been all along. The albatross of office finally lifted from his neck, America's 44th president is now free to do anything and everything he desires without impediment. He can be the person he has always wanted to be, the person whom he has had to keep hidden away. Who, then, is the real Obama? Well, it turns out the real Obama is quite like the one we knew already. And what he most wants to do is nestle himself cozily within the bosom of the global elite, and earn millions from behind a thinly-veiled philanthropic facade."

"Two Leading Economists Say Medicare for All Would Give Workers 'Biggest Take-Home Pay Raise in a Generation': Medicare for All would give most U.S. workers 'the biggest take-home pay raise in a generation,' two economists from the University of California, Berkeley said Friday, countering one of the main insurance industry talking points against single-payer."

RIP: Former Rep. John Conyers dies at 90: Former Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the longest-serving African American House member in congressional history, died Sunday at age 90. Conyers, a veteran of the Korean War and participant in the Civil Rights movement, was co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and chaired the House Oversight Committee from 1989 to 1995. He also introduced the bill establishing a national holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. He was also the first African American to serve as Dean of the House, or longest continually-serving current member. Conyers was a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation into President Richard Nixon, and was on Nixon's 'enemies list.' During his tenure, he also regularly introduced bills to establish a single-payer health care system and to conduct a study on reparations for the descendants of slaves."

Great interviews on The Majority Report:
Student Debt Cancellation & the Progressive Agenda w/ Marshall Steinbaum - MR Live - 10/1/19
The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy w/ Robert Kuttner - MR Live - 9/23/19
Goliath: The 100 Year War b/w Monopoly Power & Democracy w/ Matthew Stoller - MR live - 10/28/19
Make America Radical Again w/ Harvey J. Kaye - MR Live - 10/29/19

"J.S. Bach the Rebel: The subversive practice of a canonical composer." This guy was a troublemaker and possibly a great big slut.

And now a word from Jason Mraz, "Look For The Good."
(And here's the song.)

Bobby "Boris" Pickett, live on American Bandstand, "The Monster Mash"

20:35 GMT comment


Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Let me tell you 'bout the headline news

Oh, man, I really let this one get away from me.

There was another debate. Sanders definitely won it, despite what the talking heads said. They actually praised the shameful performances of Buttigieg and Klobuchar, of all people. Biden trying to claim credit for helping Warren get the CPFB and Warren's failure to thank him graciously for it were described as "petty" on her part rather than shameless credit-hogging on his. Ryan Cooper was not impressed with "Pete Buttigieg's disingenuous attack on Medicare-for-all: In the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night, once again Medicare-for-all was a major focus of discussion. Once again, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren defended the plan against all comers — most especially Pete Buttigieg, who had a number of slick arguments about how universal Medicare would be a disaster. There's just one problem: None of Mayor Pete's arguments are true. [...] Those savings would necessarily be less in more fragmented systems which would preserve private insurance — like the one proposed by Pete Buttigieg. In other words, Mayor Pete's plan would be more expensive than Medicare-for-all. He would "pay for that" by keeping more of the cost burden on the shoulders of individual Americans."

And speaking of Buttigieg's strange position on M4A, it's interesting how his position seems to have radically changed since February.

Bernie's Back Rally with AOC in New York. I liked the part where Michael Moore points out that it's a good idea to have someone who is old enough to remembers what things were like before the neoliberals ate them.

I've always said that Democratic operatives and politicians know how to read the polls and they've known for 50 years that some policies are popular (Social Security, universal health care, living wages higher taxes on the rich), but the neoliberals were against those things so they just didn't mention them like the previous generations of Democrats did. Rahm Emanuel knew he was backing unpopular policies, which is why he opposed Obama using the "bully pulpit" to defend and promote them. But Stephie was the White House spokesperson for a Democratic White House and he didn't know? And he thinks he is insulated because he lives in Manhattan? Oh, honey, your cocoon is much smaller than that.

"Voting machines pose a greater threat to our elections than foreign agents [...] In follow-up testimony, Halderman offered some chilling details: 'While we were in control of these systems, we observed other attack attempts originating from computers in Iran and China. These attackers were attempting to guess the same master password that we did. And since it was only four letters long, they would likely have soon succeeded.' Security experts have long warned that short passwords provide easy targets, but hackers at DEF CON, an annual security convention, recently found U.S. election systems with no passwords at all. How did the security bar get set so low?"

"US Supreme Court overturns ruling in Michigan gerrymandering case: What it means: WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday officially overturned a ruling which had called for nearly three dozen congressional and legislative districts in Michigan to be redrawn because they unfairly helped one political party."

"Utility Expert Claims PG&E Blackouts Are 'All About Threatening the Judge' in Bankruptcy Case: California utility company Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) is blackmailing the judge overseeing their bankruptcy case by instituting widespread blackouts across California, a utility regulation and power industry company expert claims. 'The PG&E Blackout Con is all about threatening the judge in the PG&E bankruptcy case,' Greg Palast said in a press release. 'The victims have joined with the bondholders to eliminate the equity of the stockholders who deserve nothing. So in desperation, the power company [is] turning off your lights. Hopefully, the judge will not be intimidated.' Palast previously worked for energy regulators in 26 states and eight countries and also authored a United Nations guide on utility regulation and investigator of power companies."

"Private Equity Chases Ambulances: Investment firms have bought up emergency medical service companies, squeezing soaring profits from vulnerable patients. On July 2, 2018, a Boston woman fell into the gap between a subway car and the platform. Passengers rocked the train back and forth, eventually extricating her. Her leg was cut down to the bone. Still, she begged her rescuers not to call an ambulance. 'Do you know how much an ambulance costs?' she sobbed. Because there was no choice but to call an ambulance, though, one eventually arrived. Ambulance services used to be covered by local taxpayers, volunteers, or nonprofit hospitals, part of a suite of services akin to firefighting, which many people took for granted. This remained the status quo for emergency medical services for decades. Then, following the 2008 recession, private equity firms began to buy up ambulance companies. Quality has declined, and prices have shot up. Within ten years, from the recession to the Boston woman falling on the platform, the transformation of ambulance services from community service to luxury good was complete. Under the new paradigm of private equity, poorly maintained ambulance services siphon profit from vulnerable patients."

"How Private Equity Makes You Sicker: Investment firms have created consolidated hospital empires across America, leading to closures, higher prices, and suffering. [...] Hahnemann, a 171-year-old institution in Center City Philadelphia that serves primarily low-income patients of color, closed on September 6 in one of the more egregious cases of private equity wealth extraction. In 2018, Paladin Healthcare, an entity owned by private equity baron Joel Freedman, bought Hahnemann as part of a small hospital portfolio. He made no improvements for 18 months, and then closed the facility with the intention of selling the real estate, which is set in a 'gateway location' for gentrification. 'This seems to have been [Freedman's] plan all along, to buy this place, let it fail, and shut it down.' McHugh said. Local politicians in Philadelphia and even presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke out, savaging Freedman as an avatar of greed. But the condemnations did nothing to stop the closure. Freedman's lucrative scheme could become a trend, where private equity firms find hospitals in urban areas attractive to developers and strip the assets."

"Documents Reveal Hospital Industry Is Leading Fight Against Medicare For All: INVESTOR-OWNED HOSPITALS are leading the fight against the creation of a comprehensive, universal health care system, according to corporate filings reviewed by MapLight and The Intercept. Tenet Healthcare, the nation's third-largest investor-owned operator of hospitals, has donated nearly $630,000 to the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, or PAHCF, a dark-money organization created last year to erode public support for Medicare for All, a government-run plan that would provide health care for all Americans."

"Inside TurboTax's 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free: Using lobbying, the revolving door and 'dark pattern' customer tricks, Intuit fended off the government's attempts to make tax filing free and easy, and created its multi-billion-dollar franchise." [...] But the success of TurboTax rests on a shaky foundation, one that could collapse overnight if the U.S. government did what most wealthy countries did long ago and made tax filing simple and free for most citizens. For more than 20 years, Intuit has waged a sophisticated, sometimes covert war to prevent the government from doing just that, according to internal company and IRS documents and interviews with insiders. The company unleashed a battalion of lobbyists and hired top officials from the agency that regulates it. From the beginning, Intuit recognized that its success depended on two parallel missions: stoking innovation in Silicon Valley while stifling it in Washington. Indeed, employees ruefully joke that the company's motto should actually be 'compromise without integrity.' [...] This year, Intuit was close to realizing a long-held goal: enshrining the Free File program in law, effectively closing the door on the IRS ever creating a free tax filing system. But an outcry followed ProPublica's reporting on the matter and Intuit's treatment of its customers, prompting the provision to be dropped and state and federal investigations into Intuit's practices. Yet even after this setback, the company remained steadfastly confident that its clout in Washington would win the day."

"Zuckerberg: No One Deserves to Be a Billionaire, But It's Useful: Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, the fifth-richest person in the world, was asked by an employee to respond to an assertion by U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that billionaires shouldn't exist. Zuckerberg conceded that they probably shouldn't. 'No one deserves that much money,' Zuckerberg said. 'I think if you do something that's good, you get rewarded, but I do think some of the wealth that can be accumulated is unreasonable.'"

Doctors say people are better after a stent to clear arterial blockage, so news that Bernie had to get one was startling not so much because he'd had a medical incident but because there'd been no sign that he was even slowing down. He already races around the country like a Lamboughini so, what now? Will he still need a plane to get from one city to another, or can he run there? Of course, the media was full of alarm at "proof" that Sanders was in dire health and also of course that the Sanders camp had not used exactly the alarmist language they wanted to use so this was evidence of Sanders' "lack of transparency". (Still no word on why Biden's eye was bleeding and he seemed confused during the last debate, though.) Meanwhile, says The Onion, "Weak, Exhausted Nancy Pelosi Given Saline Drip Following Hours-Long Attempt To Stand Firm In Convictions: WASHINGTON—Collapsing from the extreme exertion required to announce an impeachment inquiry into the president, a weak and exhausted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was reportedly given a saline drip Tuesday night following an hours-long stretch during which she stood firm in her convictions. 'She's obviously not used to following her conscience like this, or acting in accordance with any clear set of principles, so the experience has left her completely drained,' said Pelosi's communication director, Ashley Etienne, confirming that medical personnel administered fluids to the speaker after she went an entire news cycle without ever capitulating, an amount of strain that can be life-threatening for a 17-term lawmaker."

"The 'Public Option' on Health Care Is a Poison Pill: Some Democratic candidates are pushing it as a free-choice version of Medicare for All. That's good rhetoric but bad policy. [...] That's comforting rhetoric. But the case for a public option rests on faulty economic logic and naive assumptions about how private insurance actually works. Private insurers have proved endlessly creative at gaming the system to avoid fair competition, and they have used their immense lobbying clout to undermine regulators' efforts to rein in their abuses. That's enabled them to siphon hundreds of billions of dollars out of the health care system each year for their own profits and overhead costs while forcing doctors and hospitals to waste billions more on billing-related paperwork."

As you may recall, Wendell Potter was an insurance exec who had an epiphany and has spent the rest of his life essentially blowing the whistle on the insurance industry. Instructive interview with Michael Winship in Common Dreams, "Healthcare Reformer Wendell Potter: The For-Profit 'System Is Unraveling': A business group comes out swinging on behalf of Medicare for All. [...] One of the things that I can remember so vividly toward the end of my career was attending a leadership meeting with our then CEO at Cigna, and someone asked him what kept him up at night. He used a word that you don't use everyday -- disintermediation. It's a word that means essentially disrupting or getting rid of the middleman, the unnecessary middleman. He went on to say that he feared that at some point Americans, and in particular American employers, would begin to question 'the value proposition,' to use business jargon, of the private insurance industry.

"Documents Reveal Hospital Industry Is Leading Fight Against Medicare For All: INVESTOR-OWNED HOSPITALS are leading the fight against the creation of a comprehensive, universal health care system, according to corporate filings reviewed by MapLight and The Intercept. Tenet Healthcare, the nation's third-largest investor-owned operator of hospitals, has donated nearly $630,000 to the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, or PAHCF, a dark-money organization created last year to erode public support for Medicare for All, a government-run plan that would provide health care for all Americans."

"Massachusetts Unions Vote To Vet Presidential Candidates On Medicare For All, Breaking With Labor's Top Brass: MEMBERS OF THE Massachusetts AFL-CIO recently passed a unanimous resolution to endorse a presidential candidate only if that candidate supports Medicare for All, marking a break from the labor federation's national leadership, which has equivocated on the question of whether to support universal health care. The resolution, which was passed at a late September convention in Massachusetts attended by delegates from AFL-CIO constituent unions across the country, comes after months of comments from labor leaders criticizing Medicare for All, despite support for the measure among their members. In August and September, Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (an AFL-CIO member union), said publicly that they do not currently support a single-payer plan would ban private insurance, despite assurances from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who authored the Medicare for All plan, that a single-payer option would not sacrifice hard-won benefits for union members. 'The Massachusetts AFL-CIO urges the national AFL-CIO to endorse a presidential candidate with a demonstrated commitment to the pro-worker agenda that this body has previously endorsed, including but not limited to a $15-dollar federal minimum wage, ending Right to Work nationwide, and a Medicare for All system that recognizes health care as a human right,' reads the resolution, which was put forward by Beth Kontos, the president of the American Federation of Teachers in Massachusetts."

Interviewed in Teen Vogue, "Bernie Sanders Shares His Plan for a Working-Class Revolution." This interviewer is too good for most newspapers, and never mind television news.

"Cancelling Student Debt Reduces The Racial Wealth Gap: Debt cancellation must be on any progressive agenda and we should be suspicious of anyone who calls it 'regressive'.Since Elizabeth Warren proposed sweeping student debt cancellation in April, and Bernie Sanders put forth his own more extensive plan in June, members of the D.C. establishment have invented all sorts of reasons why cancelling student debt is privileged, actually. '[It's] a big gift to a select group of people' opined Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute. Jason Delisle of the American Enterprise Institute said Elizabeth Warren's plan suffers from a 'fairness problem' because it 'favors one class of students over those who never took out student loans.' And last fall, New York Times op-ed columnist David Leonhardt asserted that most student debtors are 'doing just fine.' Student debt cancellation, however, is progressive, not regressive; rather than favoring one elite class of people over another, it would in fact benefit the poorest. Lower-wealth households are likelier to have student debt, and even more so if they're Black. As such, student debt cancellation would also help close racial wealth gaps." Yes, there really are people out there who imagine that rich kids are the have all the student debt.

Marshall Steinbaum, "Is Student Debt Cancellation Regressive? No. [...] The idea that student debt causes borrowers to earn more, by increasing their educational attainment and therefore their earnings, is baked into the idea that cancellation of student debt would be a regressive policy— people with the most debt need the least help, but they'd get the most money from forgiveness." Right, because everybody who goes to college automatically gets a high-paying job.

"Warren Runs False Facebook Ads to Highlight Problem: The ad's own admission of a lie seeks to draw attention to a controversial Facebook policy Warren has spent days criticizing. Under the policy, Facebook exempts ads by politicians from third-party fact-checking — a loophole, Warren says, that allows Zuckerberg to continue taking 'gobs of money' from Trump's campaign despite Trump's ads telling untruths Joe Biden and his son."

"How the Bush Foundation wasted $45 million and 10 years on an ill-conceived assault on teachers: The foundation famously promised 50% more students in post-secondary education in three states, erasure of so-called 'achievement gaps,' and a fancy new evaluation tool. Ten years later there are actually fewer students in college, 'achievement gaps' are the same or worse, and its hyped $2 million VAM evaluation tool is up in flames - but the foundation is undaunted — proud of its failure" Of course, it wasn't such a failure, since it was an attack on education and teachers' unions. If there's two things right-wing aristos really hate, it's an educated populace and unions.

"AT&T Workers Fight For Their Lives As Company Faces Investor Revolt: Union workers say an investor plan to save the company will only make the problem worse. [...] 'Elliott's proposal represents the archetype ploy of vulture capitalists: boost earnings through headcount reductions, outsourcing, and reduced investment to benefit Elliott Management,' one letter warns. 'The cost-cutting measures that Elliott recommends, such as closing wireless retail stores and increasing outsourcing, would accelerate the loss of family-supporting jobs and the shift to using low-wage and potentially overseas contractors.' Analysts from Morgan Stanley also questioned Elliot's move, however, wondering whether the sale of 'non-core businesses' would help or hurt AT&T's future cash flow. There is also the question of whether Elliot is making these suggestions because it owns AT&T debt and would stand to profit from its own suggestions—Elliot Management, after all, had an Argentine training vessel seized to force the government to clear a debt with the firm."

"After Avoiding Safety Upgrades, PG&E Hired Lobbyists And Public Relations Instead: POWER SHUTOFFS AFFECTING more than 1 million residents, scheduled by PG&E this week throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, have sparked a massive backlash, with many community members telling reporters that they are shocked that the company has not done more to upgrade its transmission lines. The decision to shut off the electricity services, a precaution over concerns about high winds, raises the question of precisely how PG&E has been spending its rate-payers' money. And the answer isn't pretty: While neglecting safety upgrades and investments in its aging infrastructure, PG&E has instead been lavishly rewarding shareholders and buying political influence."

"PG&E is a Crime Wave, Not a Power Company: Blackout is Blackmail: The PG&E Blackout Con is all about threatening the judge in the PG&E bankruptcy case. The victims have joined with the bondholders to eliminate the equity of the stockholders who deserve nothing. So in desperation, the power company pigs are turning off your lights. Hopefully, the judge will not be intimidated. Leaving hospitals, schools and 1 million homes without power — and that means without water — in California is the endgame of deregulation mania. Jerry Brown, Bill Clinton and other deregulation snake-oil salesmen, and the PG&E greedster bosses, should be imprisoned for the people already burned to death. Where is the California utility commission?"

"Dear Ellen: The Problem With George W. Bush Is Not His Beliefs—It's His War Crimes: Bush may owe Ellen six bucks for nachos. He owes the rest of us a prison sentence at The Hague. [...] Yet Ellen's specific argument in defense of her friendship with the former president is both nonsensical and offensive. No one is suggesting that she shouldn't be pals with a conservative or a Republican. Bush's beliefs are irrelevant here; his actions are what matters. He was one of the most destructive presidents in modern American history; a man who has never been held to account for a long litany of crimes, misdeeds, and abuses of power committed during his two bloodstained terms in office. The reason '43' should be treated as a pariah is not because he is a Republican or a conservative, but because he caused the deaths of thousands of innocent people and tortured hundreds of others."

"Nobody Should Be Friends With George W. Bush: Tens of thousands of people are dead because his administration lied to the American public about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and then, based on that lie, launched a war that's now in its 16th year. After Hurricane Katrina struck and hundreds of people drowned in New Orleans, Bush twiddled his thumbs for days. Rather than fire the officials responsible for the government's life-threateningly lackluster response to the crisis, he praised them, before flying over the scene in Air Force One. He opposed basic human rights for LGBT people, and reproductive rights for women, and did more to empower the American Christian right than any president since Reagan. [...] DeGeneres isn't a role model for civility. Her friendship with Bush simply embodies the grossest form of class solidarity. From a lofty enough vantage point, perhaps Bush's misdeeds really look like minor partisan differences. Perhaps Iraq seems very far away, and so do the poor of New Orleans, when the stage of your show is the closest you get to anyone without power."

"How Democrats Became the Party of Monopoly and Corruption: This wasn't an accident.: [...] Ambitious men now wanted to change the world through finance. Bruce Wasserstein had been a "Nader's Raider" consumer advocate; he now worked at First Boston as one of the most successful mergers and acquisitions bankers of the 1980s. Michael Lewis wrote his best-seller Liar's Poker as a warning of what unfettered greed in finance meant, but instead of learning the lesson, students deluged him with letters asking if he "had any other secrets to share about Wall Street." To them, the book was a "how-to manual." [...] Meanwhile, the family farmer had lots of people who said they were friends at election time—even the glamorous music industry put on a giant "Farm Aid" concert in 1985 to raise money for bankrupt growers. But there was no populist leader like Congressman Wright Patman had been during the New Deal in the Democratic Party anymore. On the contrary, "new" Democrats like Dale Bumpers and Bill Clinton of Arkansas worked to rid their state of the usury caps meant to protect the "plain people" from the banker and financier. And the main contender for the Democratic nomination in 1988, the handsome Gary Hart, with his flowing—and carefully blow-dried—chestnut brown hair, spoke a lot about "sunrise" industries like semiconductors and high-tech, but had little in his vision incorporating the family farm." As we know, Al From and Bill Clinton cooked us.

"Anti-Sex Work Feminists Try to 'Rescue' Strippers With 'Revenge Porn Tactics': Nine strip club performers in the United Kingdom are fighting to stop the publication of an undercover video shot by Not Buying It, a self-described 'feminist' anti-sex work organization. The performers argue that the footage, shot by hired private detectives with the aim of capturing business-ending violations at Spearmint Rhino clubs in London, 'could infringe their human right to respect for private life,' reports the Guardian. Already, this seems to be proving true: Just this week, the dancers lost an appeal for anonymity. A judge ruled that, against the performers' wishes, their names will be revealed in court records. These women were not only non-consensually filmed while doing their jobs, in footage that may soon circulate widely, but will also be outed as sex workers on judicial record. All this because a feminist organization is ostensibly concerned, as the Guardian puts it, 'about the exploitation of women.' Guess it's OK when self-described feminists are the ones doing the exploiting—and for political ends."

Sydney Morning Herald, "Nestle says slavery reporting requirements could cost customers: One of the world's largest food and drink companies has warned proposed legislation requiring big business to report on their efforts to combat modern slavery could hit consumers' hip pockets. Companies operating in Australia with an annual turnover of $100 million or more would be required to annually report on the risks of modern slavery within their business and the actions they've taken to address those risks under the federal government's draft Modern Slavery Bill 2018."

"Banksy launches homewares shop in dispute over trademark" Artist opens Gross Domestic Product for sale of 'impractical and offensive' merchandise. In the run-up to a potentially record-breaking auction of his work at Sotheby's, to be held on Thursday, the street artist Banksy said he had been forced into taking the unusual step of opening his own homewares store following a legal dispute with a greetings card company. Gross Domestic Product mysteriously opened in Croydon on Tuesday on the site of a former carpet shop. It will trade for the next two weeks — though will never open its doors, with all sales being made online. Banksy said the motivation behind the venture was 'possibly the least poetic reason to ever make some art' — a trademark dispute."

"Fearful of Lula's Exoneration, His Once-Fanatical Prosecutors Request His Release From Prison. But Lula Refuses. Lula's accusers are desperately trying to get him out of prison, while he insists on staying there until he's fully exonerated. THE SAME BRAZILIAN PROSECUTORS who for years exhibited a single-minded fixation on jailing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva are now seeking his release from prison, requesting that a court allow him to serve the remainder of his 11-year sentence for corruption at home. But Lula — who believes the request is motivated by fear that prosecutorial and judicial improprieties in his case, which were revealed by The Intercept, will lead to the nullification of his conviction — is opposing these efforts, insisting that he will not leave prison until he receives full exoneration."

"Pennsylvania Attorney General'S Staff Pushed Philadelphia Inquirer To Be More Critical Of Larry Krasner: Emails: OFFICIALS WORKING ON behalf of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro pitched the Philadelphia Inquirer to be more critical of local District Attorney Larry Krasner, according to emails revealed through an open records request. Several stories published by the Inquirer after Shapiro's office reached out to the paper, drawing on some of the same arguments that Shapiro's office had made to the paper, were heavily criticized by criminal justice experts after its publication for painting a misleading picture. The emails shed light on an ongoing power struggle between two of the area's top law enforcement officials, pitting the more moderate Shapiro against Krasner, a leading figure in the movement to roll back mass incarceration by taking power at the district attorney level. On June 18, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Krasner's office had actually increased the number of gun cases approved for prosecution despite criticism that his approach to criminal justice reform was too lenient. The coverage appeared to rankle officials at Shapiro's office, who swapped emails criticizing the story and indicating that they subsequently facilitated an off-record phone call with the paper, in which they suggested that future coverage should show that Krasner's policies were actually linked to increased crime, shootings, and homicides in the city."

"Ten Recent Democratic Primary Polls Good for Bernie Sanders Ignored by the Conventional Wisdom." This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, because many voters will support the candidate they perceive as most likely to beat the Republican, so the more the media talks Sanders' electoral potential down, the less likely such voters are to give him their support.

Norman Solomon, "MoveOn's Phony New Campaign for 'Protecting Whistleblowers': All of a sudden, MoveOn wants to help 'national security' whistleblowers. Well, some of them, anyway. After many years of carefully refusing to launch a single campaign in support of brave whistleblowers who faced vicious prosecution during the Obama administration — including Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden, and CIA whistleblowers John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling — MoveOn.org has just cherrypicked a whistleblowing hero it can support." I forget who said it, but it was suggested that the real tragedy for Manning and Snowden was that they blew the whistle during a Democratic administration.

Robert Kuttner, "The Coming Primary Challenges to Corporate Democrats: Is the threat to senior House incumbents a risky distraction or a long overdue exercise of grassroots progressive power—or both? Representative Richard Neal, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is the poster child for everything that's wrong about corporate Democrats. His newly announced primary challenger in Massachusetts's First Congressional District, Alex Morse, epitomizes the grassroots dynamism that is making over the party. Beyond this primary contest is a much larger story involving the unsavory role of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the creative disruption of a growing wave of challengers to other corporate Democratic incumbents."

"Fighting The Dog Whistle, Sam Seder interviews Ian Haney Lopez about how to break through the use of racism as a weapon against all of us.

"The rise of the entitled millennial politician [...] Unlike Mayor Pete, Kennedy's politics are not terrible, but his only real argument for taking Markey's seat is "my name is Kennedy." Indeed his attempted pole-vault could easily turn out to be a tactical blunder. It looks increasingly likely that Elizabeth Warren (the other Massachusetts senator) will be on the 2020 Democratic ticket in some fashion, in which case she will probably resign her seat before November so the special election to replace her can take place alongside the presidential one (so the Republican governor Massachusetts "liberals" are inexplicably fond of installing won't get to pick a replacement). In that case Kennedy would be all but guaranteed to walk into the open seat, and he wouldn't have to stomp on a loyal progressive in the process." Not that Kennedy's politics are any good, but at least they're not quite as odious as Mayo Pete's.

Ryan Grim talked to Bernie and AOC, and they talked about lots of stuff, but the headline is, "Sanders: I Wouldn't Make Obama's Mistake Of Shutting Down Grassroots Pressure On Washington: AFTER WINNING THE election in 2008, Barack Obama, before being sworn in as president, effectively shuttered the unprecedented grassroots army his campaign had mobilized. The decision, which took his 10 million-plus donors and volunteers off the political battlefield, is regularly cited today as having hampered his first-term agenda. Bernie Sanders, when asked on Saturday afternoon whether he would make a different decision if he were to win the presidency in 2020, said, 'Yes, I absolutely would.' Sanders, along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., sat down for an interview with The Intercept ahead of his rally in Queens, New York — his first since having a heart attack in Las Vegas earlier this month — and spoke in granular detail about what political revolution means to him. While he was eager to expound on the ability of an organized, working-class movement to overpower structural obstacles, he stopped short of endorsing new congressional primary challengers. However, he did say that he plans to become more involved in such challenges in the near future. "

QUIT: "Why Shep Smith finally walked out of Fox News for good: New York (CNN Buiness)Last month Shep Smith decided that he had simply had enough. With President Trump actively distorting the truth and many of his own colleagues helping him do it, the Fox News star prided himself on anchoring a newscast that countered the network's pro-Trump opinion shows. he way Smith saw it, he was making sure that accurate information was getting on Fox's air. 'I wonder,' he told a Time magazine reporter last year, 'if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place in this place that is most watched, most listened, most viewed, most trusted? I don't know.' But he had had enough. In September, according to a well-placed source, he went to Fox News management and asked to be let out of his long-term contract. Tensions with the opinion shows were the breaking point. Executives at the network leaned on him to stay, but to no avail. On Friday afternoon he announced his departure on the air, then exited the building immediately, clearly emotional about saying goodbye to his television home of twenty years.".

RIP: "Ginger Baker: Legendary Cream drummer dies aged 80:" There's nothing I can add to accolades for Cream and its members, but the truth is, most of us thought Ginger Baker could not possibly last this long.

RIP: "Fiery blues guitarist Beverly Watkins dies at 80: Beverly Watkins, a rare woman among blues guitarists, who cleaned homes when music did not pay her enough and did not record her first solo album until she was 60, died Oct. 1 in Atlanta. She was 80. Her son, Stanley Watkins, said the cause was a heart attack that had been preceded by a stroke. Ms. Watkins called her music lowdown, stomping blues and complemented it with crowd-pleasing antics into her 70s — playing her electric guitar on her back and behind her head, sliding across the stage. When she sang, it was often with a growl. 'She'd been doing all that since the late 1950s, but she wasn't a star because she'd been a sideman most of her career, playing with bands that didn't have hits,' Brett J. Bonner, editor of Living Blues magazine, said by phone. 'She was a fabulous guitar player.'" Here she is performing last year.

RIP: "Rep. Elijah Cummings, powerful Democratic chairman and Trump target, dies at 68: The Maryland congressman's death was due to complications from longstanding health challenges, his office said in a statement. Cummings had represented Maryland's 7th Congressional District for 23 years before ascending in January to his perch atop the Oversight panel, from which he oversaw several investigations into the administration. Along with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), he was one of three committee leaders guiding House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

REST IN PUZZLEMENT: Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies At 75." My opinion of this woman was cemented in stone the day she said in front of God and everyone that "we" had no idea what the protesters were protesting about as if it were their fault and not a failure of a media that did not seem interested in asking, let alone reporting, on what they were actually on about. "If only," I thought, "there were some kind of job where you would go out and ask people what they were doing and tell the public. You could even have them come on TV and talk about it. I wonder what that would be called."

Orf makes videos that would make great ads:
Bernie Sanders Gets Stuff Done | 5 Amazing Victories
Rising Up | Bernie 2020

Krystal Ball is getting to be the smartest thing in what on most days has been establishment media. "Why the establishment smears people as Russian plants"

"Federal Job Guarantee: History, Research, Proposals, Commentary: Conversations about the nation's budget should be about spending priorities and the resources necessary to accomplish them: the people, materials and time. And those conversations should include the benefits of those spending priorities to the well-being of we, the People."

Jim Hightower, "Why we must ignore the cries of doom from corporate boardrooms — and start fixing our unequal country: When Jesse Jackson ran a strong populist campaign for president in 1988, advocating bold new policies and programs to address inequality, establishment skeptics scoffed, 'Where ya gonna get the money?' Jackson answered directly: 'Get it from where it went.' He meant from corporations and the rich, which had been rigging the economic system and government policies to shift income and wealth from the workaday majority to themselves. Thirty years later, that shift has become an avalanche, with income and wealth inequality reaching the plutocratic excesses of the Gilded Age. Just three men — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — now own more of the nation's wealth than the 165 million Americans who make up the bottom half of our population."

Hadas Thier, "Why the Differences Between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Matter: Denying that there are differences between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and that those differences matter, is absurd. One candidate has a suite of progressive policy proposals; the other has stronger versions of those policies plus a commitment to building a movement to win them. [...] It should be clear from reading Jacobin's coverage of Elizabeth Warren that she is not a corporate shill, nor an enemy of working people. She's an actual progressive Democrat, proposing real reforms. But she is a progressive Democrat at a time when the bar has been raised (finally, thankfully) beyond progressivism."

Former NC Rep. Brad Miller, "The 40-Year War: William Barr's long struggle against congressional oversight 'I have Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,' Donald Trump said in a recent speech to a far-right-wing campus organization. Trump is not a constitutional scholar, and he would not care at all about 'constitutional architecture' were he not president. So where did this sweeping claim to executive power come from? Trump's claims are largely motivated by self-interest, as all of Trump's motivations begin with "self,' rather than any doctrinal belief. Congressional investigations may expose his venality and perhaps criminality, so Trump will fight them tooth and nail. But for Trump's attorney general, William Barr, and others on the right, the effort to take power for the president from the courts and especially from Congress has been a 40-year project. Barr and his comrades may find statements like 'I have Article II' crass and narcissistic, but in their view Trump is generally correct. Executive power maximalists argue that the 'original intent' of the framers of the Constitution was to create a strong president with concentrated power and a largely advisory Congress." I can remember back in the days of George W. Bush's occupancy of the White House, we sometimes used to refer to his administration as "the Regency". That wasn't far off the mark from the way Bush talked, There seem to be a number of Republicans who think that's fine. Sam Seder interviewed Brad about this on The Majority Report.

"Joe Biden Is Right About The New York Times [...] 'In recent years the times has become a leading perpetrator of one of the most corrosive trends in modern journalism—'savvy' reporting that prizes the identification of disingenuous political tactics at the expense of focusing on the facts that voters need to know. This unfortunate tendency was visible in the days the scandal that has led Trump to the brink of impeachment broke, as the Times rehashed this hateful and disproven conspiracy theory as though it hadn't been put to bed. Two of our staff members, when discussing the Trump news with a pair of Times reporters, were stopped as they tried to outline how disproven the smear Trump wanted to pressure Ukraine into fomenting was, being told that this piece wasn't about the facts of what happened and instead had to do with trying to forecast how it might play in the Democratic primary.'"

"Why Barack Obama was particularly unsuited to live up to the ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize: In the primaries, Obama pledged to filibuster any bill that promised amnesty to the telecommunications companies for warrantless data collection on the American public. He repeatedly promised to close Guantanamo. He called it a stain on the honor of the United States. I think more largely, he was seen as the anti-war candidate. He was going to withdraw the United States from these overextended, violent commitments abroad. And, of course, he also promised to be the one who would help solve the financial collapse and its effects in a way that was not going to favor the big banks, the large money interests. On all of those commitments, to one degree or another, he reneged. He never closed Guantanamo. The numbers of prisoners were decreased. But there are still scores of them, who have no prospect of release, and they're now talking about creating an old age unit, so people captured at the age of 30 will die in Guantanamo."

"I ran a business. I know a CEO doesn't need to make 1,000 times more than his workers.: I've been an entrepreneur about as long as any American still alive. I started my fishing tackle business in 1937, as a high school sophomore. A few decades later, in a 1964 White House ceremony, President Lyndon Johnson named me the first Small Businessman of the Year. At the ripe old age of 98, I've now been around long enough to watch the American business landscape evolve over the grand sweep of time — and I haven't liked that evolution. Top executives today can pocket more for a morning's labor than their employees earn in an entire year. Last year, the Institute for Policy Studies reports, 50 major U.S. corporations paid their chief executives more than 1,000 times what they paid their typical workers. I never paid myself more than four or five times what my employees were making. I lived like my friends in my hometown of Spirit Lake, Iowa. I drove an older car, served as a scoutmaster and resided in a modest home. I had a good life. The younger me would have found today's corporate world — where share prices mean everything and workers and communities mean just about nothing — unimaginable. "

"'A Feminism Aimed at Liberating All Women Must Be Anti-Capitalist': An Interview With Nancy Fraser: Women workers, people of color, and white men in the Rust Belt may not see each other as natural allies. But as Nancy Fraser tells Jacobin, there is a path to uniting the social majority — so long as we recognize our common enemy in capitalism."

Further to the question of where private property comes from, Terri Windling in 2015 on, "Enclosure of the Commons: the borders that keep us out: Historically, the Commons straddles the border between private space and unmanaged wilderness."

A neat little .gif: "Land doesn't vote; people do."

"Two Mathematicians Just Solved a Decades-Old Math Riddle — and Possibly the Meaning of Life." You'll never guess what the answer is.

"The Roman Empire's Roads In Transit Map Form. They all lead to the same place.

The King's Man Official Trailer 2

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins, "Red Mama Blues"

22:52 GMT comment


Monday, 30 September 2019

Everybody's desperate, trying to make ends meet

David Dayen, "Great News: Wall Street Democrats Might Leave the Party: My fervent hope for many years could be coming true. [...] This is fantastic news. Anything that accelerates the split in the decades-long marriage between the alleged party of the people and Big Money should be celebrated. The transformation in policy that would ensue if Wall Street Democrats walk away from the party, freeing it from self-censorship and bad ideas, far outstrips whatever money they might raise for Democratic candidates."

Ryan Grim, "Why The House Democratic Caucus Was Able To Move So Rapidly Toward Impeachment"

It's only an occasional ray of sunshine, but every once in a while even a major network has a decent piece about Sanders. "Emotional town halls become centerpiece of Bernie Sanders' campaign: 'I'm a doctor, I've got a prescription and it's Medicare for All,' said one medical debt town hall attendee. 'We're leaving here today with another prescription in our pocket. That prescription is you, senator. Eighteen months from now, it's "Mr. President".'"

"Orrin Hatch: Joe Biden told me he 'didn't believe' Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas hearings: Former Vice President Joe Biden's handling of Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas is under new scrutiny, as a former Senate colleague and fellow Judiciary Committee member contradicted Biden's repeated recollections of his feelings at the time of those contentious hearings."

A Michael Brooks interview about good prospects in the upcoming Canadian election. Trudeau might just get kicked out for someone better.

The last presidential candidate to go to the all-female HBCU Bennett College was Shirley Chisholm. So it was a big deal when Bernie Sanders came with some friends to Greensboro.

David Dayen spent a lot of the last decade or so pointing out that presidents have enormous power and can do a lot to fix the system and help people. When a president doesn't do that, you have to conclude that they don't want to. But if they do, well, they can do a lot. "The Day One Agenda: Laws already on the books give a president great discretionary power for constructive change—without abusing executive authority." It's worth listening to Sam Seder's interview with David Dayen about this, and the reminder of why excusers who sneered at "the Green Lantern theory" were wrong.

Common Dreams, "MSNBC Pundit Who Accused Those Who Prefer Sanders to Warren of 'Sexism' Sparks Viral Outcry From #WomenforBernie: 'Not here to be vote shamed by the 1%. I am supporting the only candidate who will always put the needs of people first.' [...] Collectively, the argument from most Sanders supporters appears not be that they dislike Warren or her policies, but that they have come to believe that Sanders—largely based on his concept of political power and his lifelong commitment to a host of issues and values—is a truly unique and superior candidate overall." Embedded in the article is Katie Halper and Matt Taibbi's Useful Idiots podcast with guest Nathan Robinson, talking about Warren and Sanders, that's worth a listen.

RIP: Cherie Matrix-Holt, 1 April 1963-19 September 2019. longtime member of Feminists Against Censorship and member of the FAC publishing group, for which she edited Tales From the Clit: A Female Experience of Pornography, from metastatic small cell lung cancer. She was vibrant and inspiring and meant a lot to us all. She was my friend and I loved her. She complained of back pain and went to the doctor for relief, which lead to the discovery that cancer had been eating its way through her for a long time, and her death a few weeks later. I'm still reeling in shock.

RIP: Diplomat Joseph Wilson, who challenged lead-up to Iraq war, dies at 69: Diplomat Joseph Wilson, whose disagreements with the George W. Bush administration led to his then-wife Valerie Plame being outed as a CIA agent, died Friday, according to The New York Times."

Black Agenda Report, "Believe Absolutely Nothing the US Government and Media Say About...Anything [...] There was a time, not so long ago, when most Black Americans of all classes were highly skeptical of every word that emanated from the mouths of white folks in power in the United States. A substantial body of Black opinion believed nothing at all that appeared in the corporate media — which, back then, we simply called the 'white press.' It was a wise and healthy skepticism, learned over generations of enduring a constant stream of lies and slander against Black people from politicians and mass media of the two governing parties. These organs and mouthpieces of rich white people's power were no more to be trusted, as Malcolm X counseled, than 'foxes' (Democrats) and 'wolves' (Republicans). The logic of the collective Black domestic experience extended to international affairs, as well. We empathized with the 'colored' peoples of the world under attack by the U.S. government and media. If white politicians and press lied about us, we knew they were probably lying about their foreign non-white victims, as well. And we were right." So how did that change?

"Edward Snowden: Joe Biden Threatened Countries Not To Give Me Asylum: Edward Snowden revealed then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Secretary of State John Kerry pressured countries that protect whistleblowers and asylum seekers to deny him entrance. In an interview with MSNBC's Brian Williams, Snowden said he applied for asylum to countries such as allies France and Germany but every time it got pulled."

"The Prospect Of An Elizabeth Warren Nomination Should Be Very Worrying [...] I understand that, if Sanders is the leftmost U.S. senator, and Warren the second leftmost, it seems nitpicky and fringe to disparage Warren. In fact, I've tried to refrain from criticizing Warren too much, because I think the difference between having either her or Sanders as the nominee and having someone else as the nominee is substantial, and if Sanders isn't it then by God it had better be Warren. Yet I think it is necessary for Sanders supporters to fight hard to make sure he is the nominee. Settling for Warren should be a last resort. "

Bernie Sanders has been promoting a wealth tax since at least 1972, so it was unsurprising — if also largely unheralded — when he tried to introduce one in 2014. Elizabeth Warren has recently introduced one, so it was even less surprising when Sanders refurbished the idea himself. My personal proposal is for a 200% tax on anything over $100 million, so I'm always happy when I see something like Luke Savage's "Abolish the Billionaire Class: Billionaires are the grotesque products of an exploitative, immoral economic system. We should get rid of them. [...] To state what should be obvious, these two facts are not unrelated. Vast concentrations of wealth in the hands of the few is both how and why there is so much poverty and insecurity among working and middle-class Americans, despite there being so much wealth overall. Thanks to their cumulative labor — in factories, schools, hospitals, care homes, restaurants, and throughout the economy — an immense amount of wealth is produced in a society like the United States, but much of it is expropriated by billionaires in the form of rents and capital income. No one earns a billion dollars, but hierarchical economic structures and a skewed political system ensure some nevertheless acquire it because of the property they own. A billion dollars, let alone the over $100 billion amassed by Jeff Bezos, is not a reward proportionate to someone's social contribution. It's institutionalized theft, plain and simple."

Also Luke Savage, "Liberalism in Theory and Practice: Contemporary liberals are temperamentally conservative — and what they want to conserve is a morally bankrupt political order. [...] No, that instinct owes much more to watching Barack Obama summon forth a tidal wave of popular goodwill, then proceed to invite the same old cadre of apparatchiks and financiers back into the White House to carry on business as usual despite the most punishing economic crisis since the Great Depression; to seeing the 'war on terror' become a permanent fixture of the global landscape long after its original architects had been booted from the halls of power, courtesy of supposedly enlightened humanitarians; to witnessing a potentially monumental hunger for change be sacrificed on the altar of managerialism and technocratic respectability. It comes from watching a smiling Nick Clegg stand next to David Cameron in the Rose Garden at Number 10 Downing Street before rubber-stamping a series of lacerating cuts to Britain's welfare state and betraying a generation of students in the process; to seeing the dexterity by which Canada's liberals gesture to the left then govern from the right; and from seeing the radical demands of global anti-austerity movements endlessly whittled down and regurgitated as neoliberal slam poetry to be recited at Davos by the hip young innovators du jour."

"Someone Should Do Something: After seeing the events of the past few days, in the light of the events of the days before those, in relation to the events that took place in the weeks, months, and years before that, I am strongly considering writing something that would address the question of whether Nancy Pelosi is bad at her job. If I did, I would argue that the House of Representatives, under Pelosi's leadership, has come to function as a necessary complement to the corruption and incompetence of President Donald Trump—that a lawless presidency can only achieve its fullest, ripest degree of lawlessness with the aid of a feckless opposition party, which the Democrats are eager to provide. My editor thinks that I should write this article. I understand that in a week when one of the president's most dedicated flunkies went before Congress to openly sneer at the idea that he should answer questions, making a show of obstructing what was supposed to be an investigation into obstruction of justice—a week now ending with reports, confirmed by the president's jabbering ghoul of a lawyer on television, that the president tried to force a foreign country to act against the Democrats' leading presidential candidate—there is good reason to feel that something needs to be written. It is certainly the sort of situation that someone could write about: the opposition party sitting on its hands and issuing vague statements of dismay while the entire constitutional order is revealed to be no match for the willingness of a president and his enablers to break the law.

"A strange Twitter glitch is censoring the left — and no one knows if it's a bug or a feature: Twitter is mum about a well-documented "bug" that seems to prevent verified accounts from getting ratioed." I keep another browser open that isn't logged into Twitter so I can read things that are blocked, and sure enough, I can read the WFP thread just fine there, but not in the browser where I'm logged in.

The WFP Thing: The Working Families Party's members voted to endorse Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly in 2016. Strangely, they altered their counting methodology this time and weighted leadership's votes (56) as 50% of the vote, and membership's votes (about 10,000 people) at 50% of the vote, and Warren won. And, also unusually, they have refused to release the vote tallies. Naturally, there have been a lot of complaints online, and naturally, there is a lot of the usual push-back about how it's all just a bunch of white BernieBros saying racist things. "White Terrorism", in fact! So far the examples given are of an Amerind calling them "Uncle Tom" and a black guy calling them "slave". Going deeper, Katie Halper interviewed Susan Kang, who "talks about quitting the Working Families Party over its endorsement of Elizabeth Warren over Bernie Sanders and its lack of transparency. Instead of paying WFP dues, she'll give her money to the Sanders campaign. Plus the differences between Sanders and Warren and the cynical accusation that criticism of WFP's endorsement is an attack on people of color."

"'Exactly What I've Hoped For': 100+ Education Leaders Voice Support for Sanders K-12 Plan: 'No president or presidential candidate has offered a proposal so bold and sweeping.' [...] Unveiled in May, the Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education calls for 'a transformative investment in our children, our teachers, and our schools, and a fundamental re-thinking of the unjust and inequitable funding of our public education system.'"

"Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Are Breeding in Brazil, Despite Biotech Firm's Assurances to the Contrary: An experimental trial to reduce the number of mosquitoes in a Brazilian town by releasing genetically modified mosquitoes has not gone as planned. Traces of the mutated insects have been detected in the natural population of mosquitoes, which was never supposed to happen. The deliberate release of 450,000 transgenic mosquitoes in Jacobina, Brazil has resulted in the unintended genetic contamination of the local population of mosquitoes, according to new research published last week in Scientific Reports. Going into the experimental trial, the British biotech company running the project, Oxitec, assured the public that this wouldn't happen. Consequently, the incident is raising concerns about the safety of this and similar experiments and our apparent inability to accurately predict the outcomes."

"Documents: Police Used Buttigieg Donors to Get Him to Fire Black Chief: Legal documents related to Pete Buttigieg's ousting of South Bend's first black police chief describe a plan by white police officers in 2011 to use Buttigieg's campaign donors to get him to remove the chief, Darryl Boykins, once Buttigieg became mayor. 'It is going to be a fun time when all white people are in charge,' one officer is quoted as saying in the documents, which describe secret police recordings. The previously undisclosed documents shed new light on the most controversial chapter of Buttigieg's South Bend political career. The documents describe a plan to use two Buttigieg donors — including his campaign chairman — to lobby Buttigieg on personnel changes at the South Bend Police Department (SBPD). Both donors deny having such discussions with Buttigieg."

"Surveillance Nation: How DEA Agents Search and Seize Property from Amtrak Passengers: As you listen to the panicked fear that the U.S. government will turn authoritarian under Trump, consider the following story about the DEA and drug surveillance on the Amtrak Southwest Chief, the long train between Chicago and Los Angeles."

Stephanie Kelton: The Public Purse

Anti-BernieBros

"Elizabeth Warren Is Thirty Years Too Late: Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are political throwbacks. But whereas Warren wants to fix the policies that went astray in the Clinton era, Sanders wants to change the economic foundations of American life. [...] On the campaign trail, 'I believe in markets' has become a kind of mantra for Warren. 'I am a capitalist to my bones,' as she put it more explicitly last year. Her 2004 book even boasted that 'We haven't suggested a complete overhaul of the tax structure, and we haven't demanded that businesses cease and desist from ever closing another plant or firing another worker. Nor have we suggested that the United States should build a quasi-socialist safety net to rival the European model.' (At the time, a whopping 45.8 million Americans were without health insurance, a number roughly equivalent to the entire population of Spain.) And it's not clear her thinking has changed all that much since."

"The Untold Story: Joe Biden Pushed Ronald Reagan To Ramp Up Incarceration — Not The Other Way Around [...] The politics of race relations have been a central part of Biden's career, from his high-profile opposition to busing to his authoring of the 1994 Biden Crime Bill. When he talks about his criminal justice record on the campaign trail, he argues today that the focus on the '94 bill is unfair, because the real rise in mass incarceration happened at the state level and was long underway by then. Biden is correct that the surge began in the 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s, but a closer look at his role reveals that it was Biden who was among the principal and earliest movers of the policy agenda that would become the war on drugs and mass incarceration, and he did so in the face of initial reluctance from none other than President Ronald Reagan. Indeed, Reagan even vetoed a signature piece of Biden legislation, which he drafted with arch segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, to create a federal 'drug czar.'"

Matt Taibbi in 2005, "Inside the Horror Show That Is Congress [...] To understand the breadth of Bush's summer sweep, you had to watch the hand-fighting at close range. You had to watch opposition gambits die slow deaths in afternoon committee hearings, listen as members fell on their swords in exchange for favors and be there to see hordes of lobbyists rush in to reverse key votes at the last minute. All of these things I did — with the help of a tour guide. 'Nobody knows how this place is run,' says Rep. Bernie Sanders. 'If they did, they'd go nuts.'"

David Klion in The New Republic, "The Conscience of Bret Stephens: How one columnist's wild family history explains an increasingly isolated school of conservatism." I had no idea that Leon Trotsky once had an affair with Frida Kahlo. The things you learn....

Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne - Mohammed's Radio - Live 1976 (HD)

19:34 GMT comment


Tuesday, 17 September 2019

September, I'll remember

"6 winners and 3 losers from CNN's climate town hall: CNN's climate crisis town hall on Wednesday night was an unprecedented seven hours of discussion on climate change with 10 of the Democratic 2020 presidential contenders. It was also the most substantive discussion of climate change policies ever broadcast on primetime television. Each candidate was given a 40-minute segment, meaning they could provide long, nuanced answers to hard questions on the most far-reaching issue of our time. There was a lot that could have gone wrong, so it's remarkable so much went right. The town hall easily outshone the muddled discussion in the paltry half-hour or so devoted to climate change across eight hours of official Democratic debates."

Bloomberg, "Schumer Picks Senate Primary Favorites, Irking Progressives: Chuck Schumer's effort to unite Democrats behind well-funded, centrist Senate candidates has sparked a backlash from progressives who warn that the Democratic leader risks turning off voters they'll need to take back the chamber. Consolidating the party apparatus behind strong candidates early can help raise their profile -- and bring in millions of dollars in fundraising. But the strategy is angering local activists and competing primary hopefuls. The campaign committee associated with Senate leaders has already picked well-established candidates in key battleground states more than a year before the election, including Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, who's seeking to unseat Republican Susan Collins, and former Governor John Hickenlooper in Colorado targeting Republican Cory Gardner. Most of the favored Senate hopefuls don't back Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, and in many cases they have more progressive competition.

"Four states set to cancel 2020 GOP presidential primaries: report: Four states are preparing to cancel their 2020 Republican nominating contests over the weekend, Politico reported, citing three sources. The sources told the outlet that South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas Republicans are reportedly slated to scrap their primaries and caucuses, in a move that would demonstrate President Trump's effort to shore up control over the GOP at the state level. The report comes as Trump faces two long-shot primary challenges from former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. "

"California Bill Makes App-Based Companies Treat Workers as Employees: SACRAMENTO — California legislators approved a landmark bill on Tuesday that requires companies like Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees, a move that could reshape the gig economy and that adds fuel to a yearslong debate over whether the nature of work has become too insecure."

"Private Equity Tries to Protect Another Profit Center: The fight in Congress heats up over surprise medical billing, another abuse of the public driven by the private equity industry. Surprise medical billing has quickly become a small but critical flashpoint in health care reform. Because doctors and hospitals negotiate separately with insurance companies over reimbursement rates, it's possible for a patient's insurance to cover hospital charges while failing to cover the fees of some doctors in the hospital who are 'out of network.' Patients who visit an emergency room (ER) or are admitted to an in-network hospital by an in-network doctor may find that some of the professionals who treat them are not covered by their insurance. That is because hospitals have outsourced ER, anesthesiology, radiology, or other specialized services to outside physician practices or staffing firms. Patients often find themselves on the hook for thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars in surprise medical bills.

Well, here's an article I never expected to see in the Telegraph: "Corbyn better than no-deal Brexit, say investment banks as anti-capitalist Labour wins unlikely new City fans: Jeremy Corbyn, the scourge of bankers and avowed opponent of capitalism, is winning support from unexpected new quarters: two of the biggest global banks operating in the City of London are warming to the Labour leader. Unlikely as it may seem, he is now seen as the lesser of two evils by analysts at Citibank and Deutsche Bank, respectively American and German titans of the financial system. 'Is Corbyn as bad as no-deal? Perhaps no longer,' said Christian Schulz at Citi."

"The Citgo conspiracy: Opposition figures accuse Guaidó officials of 'scam' to liquidate Venezuela's most prized international asset: Venezuela's opposition has long accused the Bolivarian government of corruption and mismanagement. But with Citgo on the verge of liquidation, Guaidó's officials are too incompetent — or too devious — to save it."

"BRICS was Created as a Tool of Attack, Says an Imprisoned Lula: Former Brazilian leader wishes emerging economies were closer; recalls Obama 'crashing' Copenhagen climate meeting, writes Pepe Escobar. In a wide-ranging, two-hour-plus, exclusive interview from a prison room in Curitiba in southern Brazil last week, former Brazilian president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva re-emerged for the first time, after more than 500 days in jail, and sent a clear message to the world."

"ThinkProgress, a Top Progressive News Site, Has Shut Down: ThinkProgress, the influential news site that rose to prominence in the shadow of the Bush administration and helped define progressivism during the Obama years, is shutting down. The outlet, which served as an editorially independent project of the Democratic Party think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), will stop current operations on Friday and be converted into a site where CAP scholars can post." In other words, they fired all the unionized staff.

Pareen in The New Republic says, "ThinkProgress Was Always Doomed: Independent journalism fits uncomfortably with mainstream think tank politics. [...] ThinkProgress was not shuttered because it loses money. It certainly did lose money—political journalism is not exactly a cash cow!—but it was not a business of any kind: It was an arm of an extremely well-funded nonprofit think tank. If the Center for American Progress, as an institution, was interested in sponsoring journalism, CAP would've sponsored it. CAP isn't, and here we are."

Over at The Jacobin, Max Sawicky says, "Politics Is Not Arithmetic: UBI advocates have a habit of mistaking politics for arithmetic. Proving that a policy is mathematically possible isn't enough — and it can distract from more compelling left priorities."

Meanwhile, Ben Burgis says, "Socialism and the Self-Checkout Machine: A $1,000 a month check won't cut it, but there's a real democratic socialist response to automation that could make us all happier and give everyone more leisure time.

"This Alone Should Disqualify Pete Buttigieg" — The last thing we need is another Democrat who does the GOP's work for them by whining about fiscal "time bombs" and such.

"Why is the media gaslighting everyone about Joe Biden? After the Democratic primary debate on Thursday, top-shelf political journalists were quick to declare Joe Biden the winner by default. Biden turned in 'a solid but unspectacular showing' that was good enough 'for the former vice president to win the Democratic nomination and maybe even the White House,' wrote Stephen Collison at CNN. 'Joe Biden on Thursday delivered the kind of performance his supporters have been waiting for — combative when needed and in the thick of the action throughout,' wrote The Washington Post's Dan Balz. Biden 'fights off rivals,' wrote Katie Schubauer and Michael Mathes at AFP. 'Biden won, again,' wrote Jonathan Last at The Bulwark. I have only one question: Were these folks watching the same debate as I was? Because while nobody quite executed a Chris Christie-style suicide attack on Biden, his performance was still at-times gobsmacking evidence of a man whose mental acuity is fading by the day."

Deadspin was a bit less polite. "Joe Biden Is A Doddering Old Mummy With A Skull Full Of Dumpster Juice. [...] If you accept the basic and fairly uncontroversial proposition that 'President of the United States' is an important job with the power to influence many extremely vital functions of government, and that this job is best done by someone capable of at least steady if not genuinely nimble brainwork, then it doesn't even matter whether Biden's politics are bad; or whether he has shown himself over the years to be a weasel who uses a phony Regular Amtrak-Ridin' Uncle Joe routine to paper over shameless stoogery on behalf of various predatory industries; or whether his cretinous attitudes toward issues such as race, criminal justice, and the bodily autonomy of women were outdated over 40 years ago and have not substantially changed since then. He can't fucking think straight. He's a senile old man who has no business running a museum tour, much less the executive branch of the federal government."

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "Is Bernie Sanders right about medical bankruptcies? As funny as it is to watch so-called fact checkers beclown themselves in their palpable eagerness to expose the radical commie candidate, the specifics of this debate shouldn't lead us to miss the bleeding obvious. Whatever the accurate number is, we can be sure beyond question that medical debt is causing a great ocean of pointless misery — and Medicare-for-All would help a lot."

"Democracy Dies From Bad Fact-Checking: The Washington Post is feeding into Trump's agenda by turning fact-checking into an ideological weapon. [...] With these polemics-disguised-as-rebuttals, the Post is discrediting the entire journalistic genre of fact-checking. This is dangerous in a way that goes beyond any damage it does to Sanders as a presidential candidate. In truth, Sanders has little to worry about. The fact-checks are so ludicrous that they are unlikely to sway any voters. What they are more likely to do is feed into a pervasive distrust of the mainstream media, which is bad for democracy."

Luke Savage and Nathan J. Robinson in Current Affairs, "Support For Biden Is An Irresponsible Gamble With Our Future: There's nothing pragmatic or safe about a Biden nomination... [...] Even putting aside the inadequacy of his politics, Biden's inability to articulate a clear or legible Democratic message—even on his own terms—means that he cannot be put forward as a candidate against Donald Trump. The stakes are simply too high. [...] This magazine warned in February of 2016 that Trump had unique advantages against an 'establishment' candidate like Clinton, because he could run simultaneously to her right and to her left, criticizing her over her record on the Iraq War and Wall Street. Because these criticisms were accurate, they proved difficult to respond to. The same dangers apply to a Biden candidacy. Biden is not well-positioned to attack Trump on Trump's plutocratic agenda, given his own ties to the banking industry, which Trump will not hesitate to bring up. Nor will Biden be able to effectively criticize Trump's reckless foreign policy when he himself helped agitate for the single most reckless and deadly policy decision of the 21st century. Trump is excellent at preying on personal weaknesses (e.g., mocking Elizabeth Warren's silly ancestry claim) and will not hesitate to portray Biden as senile and out of touch. Unless Biden becomes far more energetic and cogent than he has thus far been, his responses will only confirm the charge."

Paul Rosenberg at Rolling Stone, "When establishment Democrats attack the 'hard left,' what are they really afraid of? [...] So why does anyone outside the right-wing media circus fall for this kind of propaganda, let alone actively promote it? We know why Fox News and the Republican establishment say this sort of nonsense. But why do establishment Democrats and MSNBC, the supposed 'Fox News of the left,' do the same? More importantly, what are they trying to hide? As I inquired above, what does the label hide in terms of policy? A livable wage and a livable planet are cornerstones — and popular ones at that. Higher tax rates (although still lower than Eisenhower's) are popular too."

In the Guardian, Bernie Sanders, "The media has become gossip, clickbait and punditry. This threatens democracy: Walter Cronkite once said that 'journalism is what we need to make democracy work.' He was absolutely right, which is why today's assault on journalism by Wall Street, billionaire businessmen, Silicon Valley and Donald Trump presents a crisis — and why we must take concrete action."

"The Quincy Institute opposes America's endless wars. Why should that be a scandal? When we decided to create a new foreign policy think tank, we never dreamed it would generate the wave of interest, curiosity and occasional vitriol that has ensued since we announced it. My colleagues and I founded the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft to promote — brace yourself — diplomatic engagement and military restraint. But since the news of our formation broke last month, the speculation about us has proved as revealing as anything we've done. Why, many asked, were George Soros's and Charles Koch's foundations teaming up as founding donors of the Quincy Institute?"

"The New American Homeless: Housing insecurity in the nation's richest cities is far worse than government statistics claim. [...] If the term 'working homeless' has not yet entered our national vocabulary, there is reason to expect that it soon will. Hidden within the world of homelessness has always been a subset of individuals, usually single parents, with jobs; what's different now is the sheer extent of this phenomenon. For a widening swath of the nearly seven million American workers living below the poverty line, a combination of skyrocketing rents, stagnant wages, and a lack of tenant protections has proved all but insurmountable. Theirs, increasingly, is the face of homelessness in the United States: people whose paychecks are no longer enough to keep a roof over their heads"

RIP: "Ric Ocasek, Cars Singer Who Fused Pop and New Wave, Dead at 75: Hall of Fame singer behind 'You Might Think,' 'My Best Friend's Girl' and 'Good Times Roll' found dead in New York." I like the cars, but they were in the air the summer I moved to England because of "Drive" at Band Aid, and later I loved them all over again when "You Might Think" was used as a recurring theme in BrainDead. I was surprised to learn when I saw his obit that he was older than I had thought. Good, solid, fun band.

At the top and bottom of the page for "From Obama Boys to Bernie Bros: The Creation of Twitter's Worst Attack Line," there's a podcast embedded called "The Candidates: Please, Whatever You Do, Don't Vote For Joe Biden" which I can't find a separate link for but is worth a listen.

"What Kind of Mayor Was Bernie Sanders? In his eight years as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders revitalized the economy and solidified support for progressive municipal policies. [...] Thanks to the enduring influence of the progressive climate that Sanders and his allies helped to create in Burlington, the city's largest housing development is now resident-owned, its largest supermarket is a consumer-owned cooperative, one of its largest private employers is worker-owned, and most of its people-oriented waterfront is publicly owned. Its publicly owned utility, the Burlington Electric Department, recently announced that Burlington is the first American city of any decent size to run entirely on renewable electricity."

This article is by Glenn Reynolds so of course it has to contain some right-wing bull about voter ID, but he's right about paper ballots. "Paper ballots are hack-proof. It's time to bring them back. [...] In some ways, paper and ink is a super technology. When you cast a vote on a voting machine, all that's recorded is who you voted for. But a paper ballot captures lots of other information: Ink color, handwriting, etc. If you have access to a voting machine that's connected to the Internet, you can change all the votes at once. To change a bunch of paper ballots takes physical access, and unless you're very careful the changed ballots will show evidence of tampering. Paper ballots aren't fraud-proof, of course, as a century of Chicago politics demonstrates, but they're beyond the reach of some guy sitting at a computer in a basement halfway around the world. And there are well-known steps to make Chicago-style fraud harder."

"Exactly Nobody Needed This: Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel have three things in common: aggressively courting reputations for being assholes, showing their mugs on television, and their shared commitment to right-wing politics. Oh, and political careers that ended in complete humiliation and failure. Nobody should have to listen to either of them ever again, but that didn't stop ABC News from forcing them on us anyway."

"The Federalist Society Says It's Not an Advocacy Organization. These Documents Show Otherwise [...] Despite what appears to be an obvious political valence, the Federalist Society and its high-profile members have long insisted the nonprofit organization does not endorse any political party 'or engage in other forms of political advocacy,' as its website says. The society does not deny an ideology—it calls itself a 'group of conservatives and libertarians'—but it maintains that it is simply 'about ideas,' not legislation, politicians or policy positions. Federalist Society documents that one of us recently unearthed, however, make this position untenable going forward. The documents, made public here for the first time, show that the society not only has held explicit ideological goals since its infancy in the early 1980s, but sought to apply those ideological goals to legal policy and political issues through the group's roundtables, symposia and conferences."

Just for the record, I think the Tiptree Award should continue to be called "The Tiptree Award" and that what Alli Sheldon did was an act of courage and love, and I'm deeply offended by the whole conversation.

"How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire: 'Mr. Chairman, I am against all foreign aid, especially to places like Hawaii and Alaska,' says Senator Fussmussen from the floor of a cartoon Senate in 1962. In the visitors' gallery, Russian agents Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are deciding whether to use their secret 'Goof Gas' gun to turn the Congress stupid, as they did to all the rocket scientists and professors in the last episode of 'Bullwinkle.' Another senator wants to raise taxes on everyone under the age of 67. He, of course, is 68. Yet a third stands up to demand, 'We've got to get the government out of government!' The Pottsylvanian spies decide their weapon is unnecessary: Congress is already ignorant, corrupt and feckless.

They say that Martin Hoare's coffin was bigger on the inside than on the outside.

How a Zildjian cymbal is made

Oh, yeah, I finally found "Hang On, Stevens", a bit late. I didn't remember what a mess the lyrics were, but it was fun at the time.

Push Trump off a cliff again.

Simon & Garfunkel live at Central Park, "April Come She Will"

22:01 GMT comment


Saturday, 31 August 2019

A revolution is the solution

"FDIC approves Volcker revamp, in latest move to roll back bank rules: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board voted 3-1 Tuesday to give big banks more leeway to make risky short-term bets in financial markets by loosening a landmark but highly contentious regulation known as the Volcker rule. The FDIC and four other independent agencies have dropped their proposal to tie the rule to a strict accounting standard — a move that banks argued would have made it more burdensome by subjecting additional trades to heightened supervision. Instead, regulators will give banks the benefit of the doubt on a much wider range of trades, according to the text of the final rule." Regulators "will give banks the benefit of the doubt." Because they've really earned our trust.

David Dayen, "With the Volcker Rule Now Dead, Democrats Need to Bring Back Glass-Steagall: Trump's 'regulators' have allowed banks to play fast and loose with your deposits. It's time to make banks' speculation with your money flat-out illegal. In 2017, when Obamacare looked to be a vote or two away from oblivion, a popular argument in left circles went like this: The Rube Goldberg contraption that is the Affordable Care Act represented a compromise from the easier and cleaner way to do universal health care, and if Republicans and the medical industry couldn't even stomach that, the next time Democrats take power they might as well go to full single-payer. If Democrats are going to be called socialists either way, the left theorized, they should choose the best policy instead of a half measure in the faint hope of winning bipartisan support. Democrats now have another example of this in financial reform. Trump's regulators have finally eviscerated the compromise version of a structural separation between deposit-taking banks and trading institutions, known as the Volcker Rule. The financial sector could not allow even minor constraints on its practices of betting prodigious sums with other people's money. Well, fine. Then I guess when Democrats retain control they should just go back to the gold standard in this department, the firewall between commercial and investment banks passed in 1933 as the Glass-Steagall Act.

"Obama Repeatedly Tried to Get Biden Not to Run for President: The former president is reportedly worried Biden will 'embarrass himself.' [...] The most surprising part of the Times story though is how Obama has on multiple occasions tried to dissuade Biden from running for president. First, in 2016, Obama pressured Biden to sit out the race because he believed Hillary Clinton was the best shot at continuing his legacy. Even though that didn't pan out for Obama, he still tried to talk Biden out of running in 2020."

HILL TV EXCLUSIVE, Full Interview: Bernie Sanders sits down with Krystal Ball (28:55 video)

"Column: In shocking reversal, Big Business puts the shareholder value myth in the grave: Among the developments followers of business ethics may have thought they'd never see, the end of the shareholder value myth has to rank very high. Yet one of America's leading business lobbying groups just buried the myth. 'We share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,' reads a statement issued Monday by the Business Roundtable and signed by 181 CEOs. (Emphasis in the original.) The statement mentions, in order, customers, employees, suppliers, communities and — dead last — shareholders. The corporate commitment to all these stakeholders may be largely rhetorical at the moment, but it's hard to overstate what a reversal the statement represents from the business community's preexisting viewpoint." But as David Dayen observed in his newsletter, "The Business Roundtable's statement that companies have obligations to more than shareholders is funny, considering that two months earlier they sent a comment to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking for a rule change to preserve 'long-term shareholder value.'

Matt Binder explains what the new domain name regime could mean, for independent sites (like this one) and other internet users, on Doomed. (The audio-only stream may be more useful and starts at the beginning of the show, unlike the video that starts over two minutes in.)

Since the usual suspects are dissing it, Bernie Sanders' Green New Deal.

Recommended video: "How Societies Turn Cruel - feat. Sargon of Akkad" (30 minutes)

What happened to America's unions? How the US Auto Industry Destroyed Its Capacity to Compete w/ Joshua Murray - MR Live - 8/29/19

Someone updated Al Franken's "Hang On Stevens" idea for Justice Ginsberg, "Hang On Ruthie!."

I keep telling people that the candidate who is most like Trump is Biden.

Meagan Day, "Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Aren't Playing the Same Game: The Democratic Party establishment has shown itself time and again to be an enemy of left-wing policies. Despite her progressive plans, Elizabeth Warren is cozying up to those Democratic elites. Bernie Sanders welcomes their hatred. [...] The differences between Sanders and Warren on the one hand and Biden on the other are obvious. Biden has no idea what he wants the country to look like or why he's running for president. Warren and Sanders do. But the differences between Warren and Sanders continue to confuse many in the mainstream media, who repeatedly assert or imply that they're ideologically identical. They aren't. Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist and Warren calls herself a 'capitalist to my bones.' These aren't just labels. They're distinct approaches to the fundamental problems facing our society. A socialist tries to liberate the things people need to survive from the clutches of capitalist markets, which is why Sanders has taken the lead on Medicare for All, transforming it into the most popular working-class demand of the moment. A capitalist respects the superior wisdom of capitalist markets and tries to restore them to optimal functionality, which can help explain why Warren is so frustratingly noncommittal on Medicare for All. A socialist pursues decommodification through universal social programs that enshrine new social rights for all, which is why Sanders has proposed to eliminate every last penny of existing student debt. A capitalist of the liberal or progressive variety is seduced by means-testing, which is why Warren needlessly introduced eligibility requirements and caps into her student-debt forgiveness program.

"Another Nail in the Coffin' of Democracy and Journalism as US Newspaper Giants Gannett and GateHouse Announce $1.4 Billion Merger: 'Hundreds of communities and ultimately our democracy will pay the price for this deal. Less journalism and less deep-dive investigative reporting will only lead to less informed citizens.'

"Corporate Interests Use Voter Purges To Disenfranchise Citizens: The SCOTUS decision in Shelby County v Holder ruled that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is unconstitutional. Greg Palast talks about how what followed has been the expansion of the very issue that the VRA was implemented to curb."

Every now and then I find myself in a conversation with someone, usually a libertarian, who seems to have no idea how people and history ever happen. And I ask them, "And where does private property come from?" Nice little interview from Sammy pretty much explains why this is a useful question. "The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth & Inequality w/ Katharina Pistor - MR Live - 8/27/19"

"Memo to mainstream journalists: Can the phony outrage; Bernie is right about bias: Mainstream media is shocked at Sanders' suggestion that ownership influences coverage. I can tell you it's true. Mainstream journalists are having a ridiculous hissy fit over Sen. Bernie Sanders' suggestion that there may be a connection between the owner of a news outlet and the content or biases of that outlet's coverage. If Sanders had suggested that Rupert Murdoch's ownership of Fox News impacts its coverage, few would argue with him. But Sanders referred to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' ownership of the Washington Post — a corporate centrist outlet. And the senator, an Amazon critic, complained that the newspaper 'doesn't write particularly good articles about me.' [...] I worked in and around mainstream TV news for years, including at corporate centrist outlets CNN and MSNBC. Unlike at Fox News (where I'd also been a paid contributor), there's almost never a memo or direct order from top management to cover or not cover certain stories or viewpoints. But here's the sad reality: There doesn't have to be a memo from the owner to achieve the homogeneity of coverage at 'centrist' outlets that media watchdog groups like FAIR (which I founded) have documented in study after study over the decades. It happens because of groupthink. It happens because top editors and producers know — without being told — which issues and sources are off limits. No orders need be given, for example, for rank-and-file journalists to understand that the business of the corporate boss or top advertisers is off-limits, short of criminal indictments. No memo is needed to achieve the narrowness of perspective — selecting all the usual experts from all the usual think tanks to say all the usual things. Think Tom Friedman. Or Barry McCaffrey. Or Neera Tanden. Or any of the elite club members who've been proven to be absurdly wrong time and again about national or global affairs. [...] If you still want to believe there's no connection between corporate media ownership and content, join me in a mental exercise: Imagine how quickly heads would roll at the Post in the fantastical event that it somehow produced even three negative stories about owner Jeff Bezos in a few hours. (Needless to say, there's much to critically report about Bezos, including Amazon's tax avoidance, labor exploitation, taxpayer subsidies and CIA contracts.) [...] I said above that there's 'almost never a memo or order from top management' to newsroom journalists. In normal times, the media system works smoothly without top-down directives. But in times of crisis, such as during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq — when I was a senior producer of MSNBC's primetime Phil Donahue show — there may well be orders and memos. As the invasion neared, top management at MSNBC/NBC News ordered us to bias our panel discussions. If we booked one guest who was antiwar on Iraq, we needed two who were pro-war. If we booked two guests on the left, we needed three on the right. When a producer proposed booking Michael Moore, she was told that three right-wingers would be required for balance. (I thought about proposing Noam Chomsky as a guest, but our stage couldn't have accommodated the 28 right-wingers we might have needed for balance.) During that period, we were told by MSNBC brass that invasion opponent Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general, should not appear on the channel. Apparently, some sort of blacklist." And we all know what happened to Phil Donahue.

"For Bernie, The Washington Post's Hatred Is Pure The Post is apoplectic that Bernie would call out its bias. [...] Take a stalwart of the liberal establishment press, the Washington Post, for example. The Post seems to operate, similar to Cockburn, based on a principle of hatred for one's enemies. The problem, however, is that many of the Post's enemies would never have made Cockburn's enemies list: the Post's targets are all too often in the crosshairs not for being corrupt elites but principally for bucking the elite consensus."

ROT IN PERDITION: "After Life of Incalculable Harm, Billionaire Climate Denialist and Right-Wing Villain David Koch Dead at 79: 'Death is an escape hatch for David Koch while the rest of us are left scrambling for the emergency brake before we go over the cliff.'"
"David Koch's Monstrous Legacy [...] But Koch's largesse wasn't free. We are paying for it now, and have been paying for it for decades. Koch's legacy is a testament to the power of weaponized philanthropy. For Koch did not restrict himself to supporting artists and scientists. He, along with his brother Charles, who survives him, committed their vast family fortune to the construction of a powerful conservative network. We live in the world that he helped build, and it is on fire."

"Fidel Castro's crocodile attacks man at Stockholm crayfish party [...] Skansen's pair — named Castro and Hillary — came to Stockholm from Moscow Zoo in 1981, to whom they had been donated by a Russian cosmonaut who were given the animals as a gift by then Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1978. They have had 11 children since arriving at the Stockholm zoo."

"Disaster capitalism: the shocking doctrine Tories can't wait to unleash: The Tory right doesn't care about the damage Brexit will do. The prize is a free hand to exploit this mess and roll back the state for good. [...] Many thought that the near meltdown of the global financial system would prompt a comprehensive rethink of the principles underlying global capitalism. Instead, it was exploited to de-fund social welfare provision on a grand scale, prompting much of the anger wrongly vented against migrants during the referendum. What then about Brexit? The advocates of leaving the European Union have always claimed that it would be easy and, after a brief period of turmoil, positively productive. A vast chorus of experts disagreed. The decision to leave therefore delivered an enormous economic and political shock to England, Scotland, the EU and the global economy. Why is the government not doing everything possible to mitigate that shock? [...] As Andy Beckett pointed out in the Guardian on Friday, within minutes of the BBC declaring victory for Brexit, the free-market thinktank the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) revealed the plan B that has otherwise remained hidden from view. 'The weakness of the Labour party and the resolution of the EU question have created a unique political opportunity to drive through a wide-ranging ... revolution on a scale similar to that of the 1980s ... This must include removing unnecessary regulatory burdens on businesses, such as those related to climate directives and investment fund[s].'"

Garbage, "Sex Is Not The Enemy"

02:55 GMT comment


Saturday, 17 August 2019

Just nod if you can hear me

"Sanders Says If Israel Wants to Ban Members of Congress, It Should Not Receive Billions in US Military Aid: 'The idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which, by the way, we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars is clearly an outrage.'" Even AIPAC condemned Benjy on this one. Imagine a president of the United States advising another country to insult our members of Congress!

Democratic Debate 2, in Detroit:
Night 1: Hickenlooper, Bullock, Buttigeig, Klobuchar, O'Rourke, Ryan, Sanders, Warren, Williamson, with commentary from The Majority Report crew. I was going to post night 2 but CNN apparently decided to cut off any of the feeds. I think there's universal agreement by anyone who isn't in the centrist bag that CNN's questioning was horrible and Jake Tapper might as well be on Fox.

"Progressive Democrats vote against BDS, Palestinian rights" — Really disappointed in Ro Khanna on this. (And so did my own Rep., Raskin.)

Joe Rogan did a full hour-long interview with Bernie Sanders. This is notable because more people watch Rogan's YouTube videos than watch the cable shows, and you're lucky to get a ten-minute interview full of all the wrong questions from those cable shows. Rogan actually did a good job of getting Sanders to talk in a little more depth about his plans and policies — and in front of an audience that is unlikely to see or hear them anywhere else. Of course, the only part the media is talking about is the joke about flying saucers.

Even Politifact had to admit that John Delaney is full of crap.

John Oliver explains the horror of Boris Johnson, PM.

"Leaked Draft of Executive Order to 'Censor the Internet' Sets Off Alarm Bells: Civil liberties groups are warning of a major threat to online freedoms and First Amendment rights if a leaked draft of a Trump administration edict—dubbed by critics as a 'Censor the Internet' executive order that would give powerful federal agencies far-reaching powers to pick and choose which kind of Internet material is and is not acceptable—is allowed to go into effect."

"Sanders Demands Drug and Insurance Industries Explain the Hundreds of Millions They Seem Willing to Spend to Defeat Medicare for All: 'You made a $100 billion in profits last year — how much are you going to be spending of that $100 billion to oppose Medicare for All? Is it $200 million? Is it $500 million? Is it a billion dollars in order to protect your profits?'"

"Nina Turner: There is "Something Wrong" With Dems Who Won't Support Medicare-For-All."

"Kamala Harris Releases Healthcare Plan Calling for Privatization of Medicare [...] Bernie Sanders's campaign quickly slammed Harris's plan, saying it is 'centered around privatizing Medicare, enriching insurance executives and introducing more corporate greed and profiteering into the Medicare system.' Bernie Sanders is calling for a single healthcare system, run by the government, that would essentially do away with private insurers."

"Democratic Voters Rank Bernie Sanders as 'Most Qualified' 2020 Candidate to Solve US Healthcare Crisis: 'Bernie Sanders's fight to guarantee healthcare to all Americans through a Medicare for All system is not only a moral necessity—polls show it is also the most compelling healthcare message to mobilize voters.' [...] That's according to a Morning Consult/Politico survey released Tuesday, which found that 25 percent of likely Democratic primary voters believe Sanders, a longstanding supporter of Medicare for All, has a better "understanding of the problems with the U.S. healthcare system" than his 2020 rivals."

Great interview on The Majority Report with an author who was inspired by Barbar Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, an important reminder not just that poverty is hard, but that low-waged work has gotten even worse and more soul-killing than it's been in living memory: On the Clock: How Low-Wage Work Drives America Insane w/ Emily Guendelsberger - MR Live - 8/6/19. (Link is direct to the interview but you can roll it back to watch the whole show.)

A little recommended reading, from Bloomberg, "Russiagate Is Deader Than Ever: A judge has ruled it was actually fine to publish material stolen by the Russian intelligence — even if the Trump campaign had done it The ruling by U.S. District Judge John Koeltl to dismiss the Democratic National Committee's lawsuit against Russia, the Trump campaign and others on Tuesday may look like something of an afterthought now that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has failed to find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump's team. It is, however, anything but anticlimactic: It contains some hard truths for those still hanging on to the Trump-Russia story." Obviously, the Ellsberg principle is correct, and it's nice to know there are still courts that recognize it.

"Golly, So Many Voter Purges After Supreme Court Declared Racism DOA! The Brennan Center for Justice, using data from the federal government, found that since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, the number of Americans purged from voter rolls has increased to are you kidding me levels of 17 million people. Worse, states that had a history of discrimination against minority voters purged a greater percentage of voters in the last two years than in other parts of the country. Before that 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 required jurisdictions that had a history of voting discrimination to get clearance from the Justice Department before making any changes to voting procedures. But in Shelby, the Supremes decided racism was largely a thing of the past, so such "preclearance" was clearly not needed anymore, and actually was very unfair to places that used to use underhanded tactics to rig the vote. After all, Republicans all over the country were emailing each other pictures of the White House surrounded by watermelon patches, not just in the South! And yet, in a development that nobody wearing opaque goggles could have seen coming, it turns out that getting rid of preclearance resulted in a big rise in voter purges, and those purges somehow managed to be even worse in the places formerly covered by Section 5 of the VRA." I still say there should be a list of known voter-suppression tactics that no jurisdiction, regardless of their history, should be permitted to use.

Speaking of that, remember that some states require you to be registered well in advance of an election, so if you want to vote in the primaries, make sure you are registered now, and that no one has "accidentally" changed your registration or removed you from the rolls. Here's the primary schedule — mark your state primary in your calendar now.

Surprisingly, Bloomberg has a good interview with Stephanie Kelton answering the question, "How will we pay for it?"

The peacefulness of Buttigeig: "McKinsey and Company Is an Elitist Cult. Why Is Buttigieg Defending It? [...] In 1993, Fortune magazine put it this way: 'These fellows from McKinsey sincerely do believe they are better than everybody else. Like several less purposeful organizations—Mensa, Bohemian Grove, Skull and Bones, the Banquet of the Golden Plate—McKinsey is elitist by design.' [...] [...] 'We are now living with the consequences of the world McKinsey created,' writes a former McKinsey consultant in an expose´ for Current Affairs. 'Market fundamentalism is the default mode for businesses and governments the world over.' [...] As McKinsey comes under heavier scrutiny for its role in the crimes of governments and powerful corporations, any 'progressive' who worked there and wants to be taken seriously should have a rather critical perspective. Buttigieg has shown no such reflection. Instead, he calls his time at McKinsey his most 'intellectually informing experience'; he left only because it 'could not furnish that deep level of purpose that I craved.' Buttigieg has said he didn't follow the story of McKinsey's OxyContin push. On McKinsey's Saudi and South African government ties, he said: 'I think you have a lot of smart, well-intentioned people who sometimes view the world in a very innocent way. I wrote my thesis on Graham Greene, who said that innocence is like a dumb leper that has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.'"

Matt Stoller, "Why Private Equity Should Not Exist [...] I'm going to explain what private equity is and why it is facing these attacks. I'll also go into a bit of history, how private equity, which used to be called the leveraged buy-out industry (LBO), was started by a Nixon administration official who oversaw the both the bankruptcy of New York City and the intellectual attack on antitrust in the 1970s. Finally I'll also discuss what it would mean to eliminate PE from our economy and politics. [...] So what is private equity? In one sense, it's a simple question to answer. A private equity fund is a large unregulated pool of money run by financiers who use that money to invest in and/or buy companies and restructure them. They seek to recoup gains through dividend pay-outs or later sales of the companies to strategic acquirers or back to the public markets through initial public offerings. But that doesn't capture the scale of the model. There are also private equity-like businesses who scour the landscape for companies, buy them, and then use extractive techniques such as price gouging or legalized forms of complex fraud to generate cash by moving debt and assets like real estate among shell companies. PE funds also lend money and act as brokers, and are morphing into investment bank-like institutions. Some of them are public companies. While the movement is couched in the language of business, using terms like strategy, business models returns of equity, innovation, and so forth, and proponents refer to it as an industry, private equity is not business. On a deeper level, private equity is the ultimate example of the collapse of the enlightenment concept of what ownership means. Ownership used to mean dominion over a resource, and responsibility for caretaking that resource. PE is a political movement whose goal is extend deep managerial controls from a small group of financiers over the producers in the economy. Private equity transforms corporations from institutions that house people and capital for the purpose of production into extractive institutions designed solely to shift cash to owners and leave the rest behind as trash. Like much of our political economy, the ideas behind it were developed in the 1970s and the actual implementation was operationalized during the Reagan era. [...] PE firms serve as transmitters of information across businesses, sort of disease vectors for price gouging and legal arbitrage. If a certain kind of price gouging strategy works in a pharmaceutical company, a private equity company can roll through the industry, buying up every possible candidate and quickly forcing the price gouging everywhere. In the defense sector, Transdigm serves this role, buying up aerospace spare parts makers with pricing power and jacking up prices, in effect spreading corrupt contracting arbitrage against the Pentagon much more rapidly than it would have spread otherwise."

"White-Collar Slowdown Forces Law Firms, Ex-Prosecutors to Adapt: The slowdowns in white-collar enforcement activity and litigation have coincided with diminished hiring demand from law firms, while some white-collar defense attorneys are shifting their practices to focus on other areas.

Pierce, "The Democratic Party May Finally Be Emerging From the Shadows of 1980: I occasionally talk about the most singularly dismal episode in my experience hanging around politicians and political events, and it is not the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, nor is it the events that occurred between the beginning of November, 2016 and the end January, 2017. It isn't even Betsy DeVos's confirmation hearing, although that's a real contender. No, the episode in question occurred in 1982, when I was just a young alternative journo, and I attended something called the Democratic Midterm Issues Convention. It was at that event that you could see what was coming for the next 30 years or so, and what you saw wasn't pretty.

"The American Medical Association Is Taking a More Aggressive Approach on Abortion Legislation: The American Medical Association is suing North Dakota to block two abortion-related laws, the latest signal the doctors' group is shifting to a more aggressive stance as the Donald Trump administration and state conservatives ratchet up efforts to eliminate legal abortion. The group, which represents all types of physicians in the U.S., has tended to stay on the sidelines of many controversial social issues, which, until recently, included abortion and contraception. Instead, it has focused on legislation affecting the practice and finances of large swaths of its membership. But, says AMA President Patrice Harris, the organization feels that, in light of new state laws in the U.S. that would force doctors who perform abortions to lie to patients—put 'physicians in a place where we are required by law to commit an ethical violation'—it has no choice but to take a stand. One of these laws, set to take effect Aug. 1, requires physicians in North Dakota to tell patients that medication abortions—a procedure involving two drugs taken at different times—can be reversed. The AMA said that is 'a patently false and unproven claim unsupported by scientific evidence.' North Dakota is one of several states to pass such a measure."

In the wake of Donald Trump's attack on Baltimore, Dave Ettlin takes you on his tour of the city, in "Defending Baltimore: The City Of My Birth Has Problems But Promise, Reflecting Urban America." I was sorry to learn that his old house on Calvert Street, Toad Hall, where I had many adventures, has been turned into apartments, "most of its original features stripped away."

Dave Langford reports in Ansible: Court Circular: The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (of 'Urban Spaceman' fame; see SFE entry) found their name had been trademarked by Anglo Atlantic Media Limited, which claimed ownership at the Intellectual Property Office website — no evidence required, just a £200 fee — and then sued them for using their established name. Directors of AAML include the band's former promoter Bob Carruthers. A fundraiser for the Bonzos' legal costs at www.crowdjustice.com/case/bonzodogbanned/ reached its £15,000 target on 26 July, but more would be welcome. [JD] The IPO has scheduled a hearing of the case for 5 September 2019."

Eskow, "What the Fight Over Means Testing Is Really About: What started as a tool to target need has spread into an ideology that runs the risk of puzzling the public and overcomplicating policy. [...] Sanders, who has thus far refrained from criticizing Warren, kept his remarks positive. But Omar's office contrasted Warren's proposal unfavorably with hers, calling it 'a complicated means-tested plan to keep out a doctor or lawyer who might be earning a good living.' 'Means-tested' is clearly used unflatteringly here, because it has become a pejorative shorthand to describe and dismiss a certain kind of Democratic politics. As the headline to a 2017 essay by The Week's Ryan Cooper put it, 'The road to hell is paved with means-testing.'" I actually think he understates the case, here. The simple fact is that when you throw a load of administrative crap at low-income people in need, you make it harder for them to receive the benefits you claim you want to give them. The more they need it, the more they get tripped up by red tape. It's easy for people of means to hire someone to navigate these obstacle courses for them, but it can be insurmountable for people who actually need those benefits the most.

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."

Down in Fulton, Georgia, the first #BlackLivesMatter organizer elected to public office in America has a rebirth. "Councilman khalid: Why I'm Still Sanders [...] In June, Vermont's Public Access Channel CCTV released the entire archives of 1980s TV show: Bernie Speaks. The City of Burlington cable access show was created in 1986 by then-Mayor Bernie Sanders to circumvent commercial media and promote his political agenda directly to constituents. Late-night host Trevor Noah featured a few funny clips from the show, exposing America to this forgotten trove of what he called 'Bernie gold'. I went online and began binge-watching episodes. I was looking for reasons to believe in Bernie again. I found them. I also found myself. It was Bernie's 2016 Presidential Campaign that inspired me to run for local office. Little did I know that since winning, I was still following in his footsteps. [...] Many of the same issues I discuss on khalidCaresTV — political education, equitable economic development, divesting in policing and investing in young people before they get into criminal trouble — I saw Bernie address on this 30-year-old TV show. As it turns out, the Blackest City in America is suffering the same problems as overwhelmingly-white, 1980s Burlington, Vermont. Civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King was right. We are tied together in a single garment of destiny.

"When Will Obama Stop Dividing Democrats by Attacking Obama's Record? An idea that has entered the political universe this week is that certain 2020 Democratic candidates are 'attacking' Barack Obama by employing certain campaign themes and proposing certain policies, a trend that purportedly came to a head during Tuesday and Wednesday's primary debates in Detroit. [...] Have 2020 presidential candidates begun engaging in suicidal attacks on Obama's legacy by suggesting ambitious universal care policies, critiquing free trade's effects on American workers, discussing the downsides of capitalism, and calling for a reduction in criminal prosecutions of undocumented immigrants? Not really. For one, if you look at the transcripts, you find that almost none of the candidates who've taken those positions actually criticized Obama during the debates; in fact, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Julián Castro only used the former president's name to praise him or to suggest that his example supported the cases their campaigns are making. More importantly, though, none of those individuals nor any other 2020 candidate is doing or proposing anything that departs significantly from the path that Obama himself set for the Democratic Party." TL;DR: Eric Holder is a disingenuous putz.

"Stephen Colbert Jumps The Shark With Cringey Bernie-Bezos Bit:" Bernie Sanders made the completely unremarkable statement that it's unsurprising that media owned by billionaires would not support a candidate who rails against billionaires, and for some reason, Colbert thought this was occasion to attack him. The Majority Report is dismayed. Meanwhile, The Washington Post's New Social Media Policy Forbids Disparaging Advertisers.

And speaking of that, there's now a Bernie substack, and it has "BERN NOTICE: What We Cannot Discuss: Pundits freak out over the suggestion that billionaire media tycoons don't like Bernie Sanders"

"Chase Bank Erases All Debt For Credit Card Customers In Canada: Imagine if that massive credit card bill in your name just magically disappeared. For Chase Bank credit card customers in Canada, that dream became a reality. 'I don't know why they're doing it,' Toronto airbrush artist Randal Thibodeau wrote on Twitter. 'Good news for me.'"

"We Need A Wizard Who Can Appeal To The Moderate Orc Voter: I may be just an ordinary orc, but I wasn't at all surprised when the Dark Lord Sauron became the leader of Mordor. A lot of my smart, liberal friends, though, reacted as if Middle-earth was coming to an end. Dwarves in the barroom of the Prancing Pony said it was the pride of the High Elves. Ravens twittering under the eaves of Mirkwood blamed the cunning of dragons. The Steward of Gondor, posting on FacePalantir, said it was because of Sauron's hatred for the heirs of Isildur. I'm here to tell you: it's the economy, stupid."

"A Bear Somehow Fell Onto A Moving Police Car, Then Things Got Really Weird"

"A Lost Album From John Coltrane, With Thanks To A French-Canadian Director [...] Now comes word of another new album by the classic John Coltrane Quartet, with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Blue World will be released on Impulse!/UMe on Sept. 27, and like Both Directions it offers an unexpected view on a pivotal period in the band's evolution. It was recorded at Van Gelder Studios on June 24, 1964 — a few weeks after the quartet put a finishing touch on the album Crescent — as the soundtrack to a Canadian art film. Because the date had gone unnoted in session recording logs, this music has occupied a blind spot for Trane-ologists, archivists and historians."

Mark Kernes reminds me that the complete run of the late Paul Krassner's The Realist is available online.

RIP: Martin Hoare (1952-2019) was well-known to anyone who loves Dave Langford, since they often seemed inseparable. (When Dave met me at Heathrow to pick me up for my TAFF trip, Martin was driving — and, having heard that I was interested in seeing interesting old pubs, pulled us up to a weird little thatched place as soon as the pubs opened. The place had such a low ceiling that I could reach up to lean on a ceiling beam.) (Graham Charnock posted the best photo of Martin I've seen.) More from Langford in Ansible.

RIP: Toni Morrison: Nobel Prize-winning author dies at 88: Her family confirmed 'with profound sadness' that Morrison had died 'following a short illness'. Author of 11 novels, she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, having published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. Her 1987 book Beloved told the story of a runaway female slave and was made into a film starring Oprah Winfrey in 1998. [...] Morrison once said: 'We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.'"

RIP: "Peter Fonda, celebrated actor known for Easy Rider, dies aged 79: Son of Henry Fonda and brother of Jane Fonda died after battling lung cancer, family says"

RIP: "Film-maker DA Pennebaker dies aged 94: The documentary-maker's work included Monterey Pop, Bob Dylan's Don't Look Back and Bowie's Ziggy Stardust concert film.

"Why They Hate Bernie: Remember the frenzied, paranoid style of right-wing anti-Clintonism? The lies, the conspiracy theories, the deeply personal disgust? Well, it's back — only this time it's migrated to the Democratic Party and its unhinged attacks on Bernie Sanders." I've actually remarked myself on the way a lot of it has the same features from the same sources of the Arkansas Project.

Liz's inside-outside game: "Elizabeth Warren Took On Obama Over Student Debt Forgiveness. How She Won Is Central To Her 2020 Campaign. [...] She did it by turning to what had become the core tool of her political life: a potent combination of grassroots activism, intense political pressure, and detailed analysis of consumer law. And she used that tool in part against her own party's administration, strengthening a political identity that cut against what was then the mainstream of American liberalism." And here's a little more from Dday.

This 1993 article from The American Prospect is a good reminder that all those left-wing losers of the Democrats' past were, in fact, not left-wing - and that it's always the right-wing Democrats who have the temper tantrums. "The Myth of the New Democrats [...] The notion that the Democratic Party is a captive of left-wing extremists is a familiar one to readers of the American press. It has been a staple of conservative Republican doctrine since 1932. In itself, this does not make the point incorrect, although it suggests that it is a bit musty. Reminiscent of the analysis that has been nurtured for decades in places such as the National Review, New Democrats have a tendency to argue at a level of abstract generalization that permits them to leap over some facts that would otherwise puncture their case. The first set of facts is historical. With the exception of McGovern in 1972, in five of the last six presidential campaigns, the Democratic candidates--Humphrey, Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis--ran as centrists. Humphrey was the establishment candidate against Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy. Carter ran as a conservative southerner moderate on race. The centerpiece of Mondale's campaign (for which Galston served as chief issues adviser) was deficit reduction. And Dukakis ran as a technocrat who, until the last two weeks of his campaign, avoided attacking Ronald Reagan because he didn't want to sound too partisan. Even McGovern didn't run as a "tax and spend" Democrat; a central part of his platform was a proposal for a huge middle-class tax cut. Indeed, the Carter presidency--the failure of which still weighs heavily on the Democratic psyche--was the exemplar of the New Democrat spirit. The New Republic reports that when Al From talked with Carter about forming the DLC, the latter said: 'Boy, could I have used a DLC to back me up.' [...] Naureckas concludes that 'when the "pragmatists" lose badly with their centrist approach, they are repainted after the fact as radicals, so the strategy of tilting to the right can be tried again and again.'"

"After 48 Years, Democrats Still Haven't Gotten the Memo: Lewis Powell once drafted a how-to guide for maximizing political power. Only one party took his advice. Here's how Democrats can catch up."

Michael Moore at Common Dreams, "30 Years Ago: The Day the Middle Class Died: From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated. Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, 'When did this all end?', I say, 'It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981.' Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to 'go for it' -- to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves. And they've succeeded. On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who'd defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days." Moore overlooks a lot of what came before (like the 1973 HMO bill that made profiteering off of medical care legal), but make no mistake: The firing of the air traffic controllers was a very big deal. And it wouldn't have happened without the help of an unlikely culprit.

Never forget that when it came to reproductive rights, Barack Obama never missed a chance to spit in our eyes: "As of this writing, House Democrats passed a health care reform bill that would extend the principles of the Hyde Amendment to proposed overhaul of the health care system, and further block federal subsidies for private health insurance that covers abortion care. While President Obama reportedly opposed the move, he told Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News in July that there is a 'tradition' in Washington 'of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care.' [31]".

An oldie but a goodie, "One Chart About Income Inequality That Will Make Your Blood Boil"

I can't believe people are still throwing out the "Bernie Sanders has no accomplishments" meme. Bernie Sanders' Accomplishments.

Pink Floyd, "Comfortably Numb"

17:27 GMT comment


Monday, 29 July 2019

And there are no truths outside the gates of Eden

So, after Pelosi and her pals painted a target on Ilhan Omar's back and spent the last few weeks dissing her, AOC, Tlaib and Pressley in the press, Donald Trump picked up his cues and attacked them. So Bernie Sanders asked in one of his campaign's regular fundraising letters that supporters send some of the money they were going to give him to these four women. The H8% was ready with angry threads about how the evil Bernie was "using" them to fundraise. (I liked this response.)

And speaking of that, "Moderate Democrats Warn That AOC Is Distracting From Their Nonexistent Message: Moderate Democrats are sick and tired of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her 'squad' dominating the headlines. Thus, to ensure that those four progressive congresswomen do not garner any additional media attention, several House moderates decided to complain about them anonymously in interviews with CNN Wednesday. [...] If your goal is to galvanize media attention around bread-and-butter issues, whining to Jake Tapper seems like a less effective tactic than, say, taking interesting stances on bread-and-butter issues. And yet, as Vox's Matt Yglesias notes, it has been House moderates — not Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, or AOC — who have prevented House Democrats from advancing several of their most compelling messaging bills. Nancy Pelosi's caucus finally passed a $15 federal minimum wage Thursday. But Pelosi had promised to pass that (popular) policy within 100 hours after assuming the speakership. Instead, it has taken seven months for her to grind down moderate opposition. Meanwhile, centrist Democrats have blocked their party from passing a bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a measure that would effectively transfer large sums of money out of Big Pharma's profit margins and into seniors' pockets. This a winning issue in every district in the country (at least, if you value the approval of voters more than lobbyists)."

And from The Onion, "Pelosi Concerned Outspoken Progressive Flank Of Party Could Harm Democrats' Reputation As Ineffectual Cowards"

It's not funny. Seriously, DDay: Pelosi's Bargaining Chip: Privatize the VA Faster?: While we're consumed with racist tweets, an important discussion about how government dollars will be spent is happening right now. There's something of a fiscal cliff coming in the next couple months, as the annual budget must be approved by the end of September, the debt limit must be lifted, and without a multi-year budget deal sequestration would return. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin did something stupid in negotiations by tipping his hand, noting that the debt limit would be reached by September and asking for a short-term extension. Speaker Pelosi jumped on that. There won't be a short-term debt limit deal, making the White House more desperate to agree to terms. What Pelosi appears to be angling for is this: parity between defense and non-defense spending, and several billion dollars extra for the VA MISSION Act, which privatizes the VA. And I think that's it." Yes, that's right, Nancy Pelosi thought that instead of getting something we need, she would use her leverage to privatize the VA faster.

Aidan Smith in The Nation, "The Overlooked Difference Between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren: It's their approach to party politics—not policy—that truly sets the progressive senators apart. [...] There's only so much a Democratic majority could accomplish as long as the party's institutions are ridden with hedge fund managers, defense contractors, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and other actors whose interests are in diametric opposition to the progressive reforms that Sanders and Warren champion. In the two years since Trump's inauguration, the leadership of the Democratic Party has invested far more time and energy into curbing potential opposition from its left than it has to resisting the total acquisition of America's political institutions by the far right. Sanders intimately understands this. Warren, irrespective of her personal beliefs, does not operate as if she does, and that could prove a major impediment to achieving her policy goals."

Bernie Sanders has an answer to school busing - for today.

Bernie Sanders speaks during NAACP forum in Detroit

"Sanders Tops Democrats' List Of Most Liked 2020 Candidates: Gallup: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the Democratic Party's most liked 2020 presidential candidate, according to a new Gallup survey released Friday. Out of 10 candidates ranked in the poll, Gallup found that Democrats had the most favorable opinion of Sanders, with 72 percent of respondents indicating a favorable view of the senator. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been leading every national poll of the 2020 roster, earned the second-highest favorable rating from Democrats, at 69 percent."

And let's see how the latest smear against Ilhan Omar is created and propagated....

Katie Halper at FAIR, "MSNBC's Anti-Sanders Bias Makes It Forget How to Do Math" — It's just amazing how the folks at MSBBC just can't seem to read a poll.

Mysteriously, no one seems to want you to know that there is bill and that it's actually advancing. This is weird, because it's a good thing. Let your representatives know you're watching. "Alex Lawson: We WILL Expand Social Security" on The Zero Hour.

"Sanders and Warren voters have astonishingly little in common: His backers are younger, make less money, have fewer degrees and are less engaged in politics."

"How Texas Accidentally Legalized Marijuana" - that moment when you legalize low levels of THC and then realize you have no way to test levels of THC.

David Atkins in The Washington Monthly, "What's the Point of Democratic Leaders Insulting AOC and Friends? [...] Actively dissing the party's most energized base to a national columnist makes no sense unless you actively believe that the energized base isn't just potentially losing the votes of a handful of people who would be irrelevant but for their irrational empowerment by the electoral college, but rather that the energized base truly speaks for only a tiny minority of the country." It really does seem like Pelosi is out of her mind.

This is Ryan Grim talking about Tiffany Caban's attempt to become DA in Queens. She won the primary but then the machine decided to disallow some of the ballots. She's fighting it, but we will see what happens.

"Nancy Pelosi Has Lost Control: New York's corrupt machine is running its own show for House Democrats. Two days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called a meeting admonishing her caucus to stop publicly criticizing each other on Twitter, the official House Democrats Twitter account launched a public broadside against a staffer for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The tweet itself is a cheap smear, the strain of context-free character assassination deployed by 4chan-dwellers and alt-right agitators, assailing a prominent liberal with a snippet of an old Twitter conversation. Two days later, party leaders are hoping everyone will forget the whole thing, and President Donald Trump's racist rant targeting Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) has sucked up most of the oxygen in Washington. But the House Dems' tweet carries a symbolic power that a turn of the news cycle can't erase. One of Pelosi's top lieutenants, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the caucus chair, effectively declared war on Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti on Friday night. Nobody in leadership has apologized for it, recanted or publicly rebuked anyone. The tweet is still live. Not since Anthony Weiner's sexual misconduct scandal in 2011 had the Democratic Party leadership targeted one of its own with such ferocity. Divided over how to oppose Trump and his agenda, party leadership attempted to purge its own ranks, and only eased up when the president himself attacked the same members that leadership had been blasting for weeks." Of course, the alternative view is that Nancy Pelosi hasn't lost control, and sounding like Trump just doesn't bother her.

Ryan Grim is in The Washington Post saying more about Democratic history. "Haunted by the Reagan era: Past defeats still scare older Democratic leaders — but not the younger generation Newly elected Democrats in the House of Representatives spent June 27 with the sinking feeling that it was happening again: Their party was going to cave to President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on a viscerally emotional issue. Just after a searing photo circulated of a father and his young daughter who had drowned in each other's arms while fleeing for the sanctuary of U.S. shores, Democrats in Congress let a GOP-drafted spending bill go through that did nothing to address conditions for detained immigrant children — abandoning a House version that would have ordered improvements. House leaders blamed Senate Democrats for capitulating; Senate Democrats attacked the House for poor negotiating. [...] Frustration with the refusal to stand up for principle is boiling over among younger Democrats. On issue after issue — impeachment, Medicare-for-all, a $15 minimum wage, free public college, a Green New Deal — the answer from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other Democratic leaders is consistent: Now is not the time; the country isn't ready. Push too fast or too far, and there'll be a backlash."

Unbelievably, Kamala Harris is tooting her own horn about her role in the prosecutions of the criminal banksters. "Kamala Harris' Claims About Her Record on Big Banks 'Doesn't Withstand a Moment's Scrutiny': Dayen said today: 'Kamala Harris's role in the failed attempt to hold banks accountable for stealing homes from families during the foreclosure crisis was no more or less tragic than that of many other officials. But now that she's running for president, Harris is not only eliding responsibility for her part in the failure, but claiming it as an outright success. That claim doesn't withstand a moment's scrutiny.'"

When the worst people in the world hate your candidate: "Haim Saban loves every Democratic candidate . . . except Bernie Sanders, who he thinks is turning Dems against AIPAC [...] Saban, who is worth an estimated $3.2 billion, has donated millions of dollars to Democrats and pro-Israel efforts throughout the years alongside his wife Cheryl, president of their Saban Family Foundation. 'The basic strategy is 50-50. Meaning for every dollar we give in America, we give a dollar in Israel,' he says in the interview."

Saying what mustn't be said: "Ilhan Omar: Obama's a 'pretty face' who got 'away with murder': Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar ripped former President Barack Obama in an interview published Friday, belittling his 'pretty face' and saying his agenda of hope and change was an illusion. She cited the 'caging of kids' at the Mexican border and the 'droning of countries around the world' on Obama's watch — and argued that he wasn't much different from President Trump. 'We can't be only upset with Trump,' the freshman firebrand told Politico Magazine. 'His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,' Omar said. 'And that's not what we should be looking for anymore. We don't want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.'"

"House Democrats Are Panicked About Primaries, And New York Shows How Potent They Can Be: A SPECTER IS haunting the House of Representatives: the specter of primaries. All the powers of the status quo have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter. Blacklists have been drawn up; arms have been locked. The ferocity with which House Democratic incumbents have rallied around each other reached absurd new dimensions this week. With Crisanta Duran, the first Latina state House speaker in Colorado history, challenging Rep. Diana Degette, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus weighed into the primary — on behalf of Degette. "

"Bernie Sanders' Democratic Socialism Speech Was a Landmark: In a single speech, Bernie showed why he's an existential threat to the political establishment. He decried poverty and exploitation and named capitalism as the culprit and democratic socialism as the solution.

I think this paragraph from Bill Scher's "How the Democratic Netroots Died" is funny: "In March 2008, a group of Daily Kos diarists who backed Clinton staged a virtual walkout in protest of the site's tilt toward Obama. Moulitsas shot back that Clinton's refusal to drop out showed she was 'eager to split the party apart in her mad pursuit of power.' His Crashing the Gate co-author, Armstrong, saw the race differently; in his view, Clinton 'showed signs of being accountable to the netroots movement' while Obama 'didn't need the netroots' and 'was basically an identity-politics cult' leader. Armstrong later quit blogging and worked for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2012."

RIP: "1960s prankster Paul Krassner, who named Yippies, dies at 87: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul Krassner, the publisher, author and radical political activist on the front lines of 1960s counterculture who helped tie together his loose-knit prankster group by naming them the Yippies, died Sunday in Southern California, his daughter said. [...] The Yippies, who included Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman and were otherwise known as the Youth International Party, briefly became notorious for such stunts as running a pig for president and throwing dollar bills onto the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange." He had worked for Mad but caught my attention when he published The Realist for years and I was one of his admirers, even more so when I found out that before the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, he had been "Jane". I found him standing next to me that day on the Ellipse while we were watching Abbie Hoffman chase the pig around (before being arrested for wearing that shirt). I talked to him for a bit but I didn't tell him he was one of my heroes.

RIP: "Former US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died at the age of 99, after suffering a stroke.. One of the longest-serving US justices, he was on the liberal side of the court despite being appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford. He wrote more dissenting opinions than any other Supreme Court Justice in US history, and retired in 2010." During the Bush years, we all spent a lot of time hoping Stevens would outlast the administration, Al Franken, then doing a show on Air America Radio, wrote a song to the tune of "Hang On, Sloopy" with the lyrics, "Hang on, Stevens." Sadly, no one seems to have saved it to YouTube as a historical artifact.

RIP: "Rip Torn, cult actor, dies aged 88:" Huh, I hadn't realized the role that made Jack Nicholson famous was originally written for Rip Torn. Check out the video of Torn and Norman Mailer actually coming to blows.

"Nancy Pelosi's renewed attacks on AOC aren't just disrespectful, they're dangerous: America is becoming an increasingly hostile place for women and for people of color. Pelosi's constant public attacks against the four newly elected women of color aren't just disrespectful, they're dangerous. Whether she means to or not, her repeated insinuations that the Squad are rabble-rousing upstarts who are undermining the Democratic party helps bolster the right's vitriolic narratives about the congresswomen. As America grows increasingly brazen in its bigotry, Pelosi should be aggressively standing up for her freshman colleagues, not trying to tear them down. So why isn't she?

Elizabeth Spiers in The New Republic, "Beyond Pelosi: Why impeachment can't penetrate the cult of D.C. savvy.: Every time I see Nancy Pelosi patiently spell out the higher political wisdom of refraining from impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, I think of Alan Greenspan. That's obviously not because the speaker of the House and the famously tight-lipped former Fed chair have any affinities of political outlook or personal temperament. Rather, it's because as a former financial journalist, I'm reminded of how Greenspan's observers in the financial industry tended to project all manner of genius onto him simply because he refused to articulate, in any concrete way that involved anything so crass as a narrative, what he was thinking or doing. For market watchers and finance industry savants, Greenspan was a human koan upon which they were expected to puzzle out their own economic enlightenment. If you didn't get it, you were the idiot. And now I get the sense that Pelosi's refusal to articulate her strategy with regard to Trump is being met with the same familiar projection of assumed good faith and competence."

Atrios on the fundamental error of wonkiness on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, "Bending The Cost Curve: Too often lost in all the discussion of ACA is that its prime architects were just fundamentally wrong. This is not an argument that ACA should not have been passed, it's an argument that the wonks who had all those wonky wonk wonk profiles written about them as they were getting rich on grifting in various ways were wrong about what they saw as the fundamental problems - and solutions to - our private insurance system. [...] Imagine being in the hospital waiting for your chemo treatment and hearing the president telling you that the problem with our health care system is that people don't have enough "skin in the game." The thing about health care is that you do, by definition, have skin in the game. Your fucking skin."

"Most Veterans Say America's Wars Are a Waste. No One's Listening to Them. There's a widening gap between Washington's bipartisan militarism and veterans' bipartisan war-skepticism. [...] The only meaningful variation pollsters found among vets was by party identification: Republican-identifying veterans were likelier to approve of the wars. But even a majority of those GOP vets now say the wars were not worth waging."

Not only is he a creepy bully and the most disgusting quisling Dem in Congress, but "Rep. Josh Gottheimer Is A Really, Really Terrible Boss, Former Staffers Say [...] I heard from staffers who worked for him when he was a lawyer at the Federal Communications Commission ('Josh Gottheimer is the biggest [jerk] I have ever worked for, ever') to his time at the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller ('He was a terror there') to his first campaign for Congress ('When I was reading those [Sen. Amy] Klobuchar stories, I was like, maybe Gottheimer isn't unique') to his congressional office ('Never experienced anything like it. Narcissistic, egotistical sociopath')." His priority is fundraising and he's sitting on a pile of cash, so going after him will be hard if anyone tries to primary him.

Robert Kuttner, "Neoliberalism: Political Success, Economic Failure: The invisible hand is more like a thumb on the scale for the world's elites. That's why market fundamentalism has been unmasked as bogus economics but keeps winning politically. Since the late 1970s, we've had a grand experiment to test the claim that free markets really do work best. This resurrection occurred despite the practical failure of laissez-faire in the 1930s, the resulting humiliation of free-market theory, and the contrasting success of managed capitalism during the three-decade postwar boom. Yet when growth faltered in the 1970s, libertarian economic theory got another turn at bat. This revival proved extremely convenient for the conservatives who came to power in the 1980s. The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism—from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries. [...] Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. Enterprise has been richly rewarded, taxes have been cut, and regulation reduced or privatized. The economy is vastly more unequal, yet economic growth is slower and more chaotic than during the era of managed capitalism. Deregulation has produced not salutary competition, but market concentration. Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration."

I often get the feeling that people demanding programs that only benefit black people are actually trying to undermine programs that would massively benefit black people. "Stuck: The Absence of a Political Argument in the Debate Over Reparations: On June 17, in Washington, D.C., Reverend William Barber and the Poor People's Campaign hosted a presidential forum as a part of its three-day event called the Poor People's Moral Action Congress. In his discussions with each presidential candidate, Reverend Barber hewed to questions that focused tightly on the way that voter disenfranchisement, especially disenfranchisement of Black voters, helps to maintain poverty for people of all races. He, in fact, took pains to note that the states most impacted by voter suppression also tend to be the states with the highest rates of overall poverty. To underline this insight, he consistently returned to the point that our nation's 140 million low-wage workers and people in poverty, while disproportionately Black, is, in raw numbers, majority white. Consistent with his efforts to take up a modern-day version of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr's mission, Reverend Barber has taken on his messaging as well, [...] Since that writing, the common circumstances to which Reed refers have only grown more stark. Despite the relative historical weakness of the left and labor, and the nation's growing wealth concentration and general economic insecurity, the potential for solidarity continues to grow. It's not difficult to see the call for reparations, as Reed does, as an attempt to weaken that potential."

I can't remember if I posted this when it first came out, but since it keeps being thrown out as an example of how government can't do anything right, here's Barry Ritholtz, "Congress, Not Amazon, Messed Up the Post Office: Legislators passed a law that made the USPS less competitive with the private sector."

In The Atlantic, "Power Causes Brain Damage: How leaders lose mental capacities — most notably for reading other people — that were essential to their rise If power were a prescription drug, it would come with a long list of known side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. It can even make Henry Kissinger believe that he's sexually magnetic. But can it cause brain damage?"

Atrios reminded me of this oldie from The Onion, which is like every political argument I see lately: "This War Will Destabilize The Entire Mideast Region And Set Off A Global Shockwave Of Anti-Americanism vs. No It Won't"

"Stop Being a Tool for Asshole Anonymous Sources [...] So, what we have here is a Democratic aide on the Hill essentially accusing AOC of being a fake woman of color and a puppet for white liberals. That's an extremely serious and offensive charge. And yet we have no idea who leveled it."

I would have saved myself a lot of disappointment if I'd seen Rolling Stone's review of the TV adaptation of Catch-22, and the one from The New York Times, before I started watching it, but really, it left me a sputtering wreck. What the Stone and the Times don't tell you is that all of the horrible things that happen in the book because of blind chance, stupid bureaucracy, sadistic and callous officers, or just because war is war, happen in the TV show because Yossarian - er, pardon me, some guy who introduces himself as "Yo-Yo" (as Yossarian would never do) - is a callous, sloppy, selfish, thoughtless jerk who is single-minded for no reason even though Snowden hasn't even died yet. That's just leaving aside the fact that the book's wildly different and distinguished characters are all almost identical cut-outs in the TV show - even Orr is just another guy (who, by the way, doesn't do anything interesting like keep crashing his planes even though he's a brilliant pilot, have crabapples in his mouth, winterize the tent, or have oracular conversations with Yossarian). And: Hungry Joe's story is cut out of the script, of course, but that's no excuse for Yo-Yo being unaware that the paperwork always gets delayed when you finish your required number of missions so you have to keep flying anyway. (The show even leaves the impression that the number of missions keep getting raised not because Cathcart is a prick, but because Yo-Yo keeps getting under his skin.) And, for a final insult, Yo-Yo doesn't finally get Orr's message, but instead gets out of the war by doing what Yossarian would never do.

On the other hand, I didn't know what to expect from the movie Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, and I was charmed and touched by the story of a psych prof and his wife and their girlfriend who designed the lie detector as part of the larger project that resulted in the Wonder Woman comic.

"He was buried in a casket labeled: "Flight Recorder Inventor: Do Not Open.". The boy's father had died in a plane wreck, so he set about designing a recording device that would be likely to survive a crash and tell the tale.

"Oh My God, Jojo Rabbit Brought Back the Downfall Meme"

Bob Dylan and Neil Young, live, "Gates of Eden"

22:00 GMT comment


Saturday, 06 July 2019

And behold a mighty city broken in the dust again

"Representative Gottheimer Asks Regulators to Deregulate Banks He's Invested In: At the behest of a big-bank trade group, Gottheimer rallied 16 of his fellow Democrats to join him in urging financial regulators to gut a provision of Dodd-Frank that protects insured depository institutions from risky trading. Big Wall Street banks are on a mission to reverse a section of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that requires them to post collateral when making internal derivatives transactions among their affiliates and subsidiaries. Congressional Republicans have supported the banks' efforts for several years. Now a key House Democrat has taken up their cause." On almost every progressive or even Democratic initiative, you can find Gottheimer in there rallying to the GOP cause. He really needs to go.

"Planes Were In The Air To Strike Iran When Trump Called It Off." Amazingly, Trump was about to do the wrong thing that Pompeo and Bolton wanted him to do but at the last minute did the right thing. There is much speculation about why he did it, but I suspect that Trish Reagan and Tucker Carlson both, separately, saying on Fox that doing so would be a bad idea, had a strong impact on Trump, who seems to think Fox is speaking to him from God. But then he started obfuscating again — I dunno, maybe he thinks he's playing 13-dimensional chess or something.

Op-ed in the Guardian by Senator Bernie Sanders, "We must stop the US from going to war with Iran [...] I want to be clear on this: Iran pursues many bad policies. It violently represses its own population and supports extremist groups around the region. The same could be said of our longtime partner Saudi Arabia. We need to take a more even-handed approach to the Middle East, and not simply support one side against another in a regional conflict. The US is strong enough to deal with these issues diplomatically, working with allies around the world, and that is what we should be doing. We must not fight another unnecessary war."

Matt Taibbi says, "Elizabeth Warren's Rise Is a Plus for Issue Politics — And a Bad Sign for Billionaires: The press is choosing to view it in another light. That will only work for so long. [...] If Elizabeth Warren is rising in the polls, it's not because people are tired of Sanders. It's because they're pissed at Amazon and Facebook, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase, Dow-Dupont, Monsanto, Syngenta and countless other soulless, nationless, money-sucking companies — along with their overpaid, under-prosecuted, deviant scum executives who've had outsized influence with both parties for too long."

Sam Seder did a quickie interview with Bernie Sanders on The Majority Report.

Full interview: Bernie Sanders on Face the Nation

For some reason I don't seem to be able to find a handy YouTube video of the first night of the first Dem debate. I listened to it in the members section of The Majority Report* but not sure where else to find it that everyone can see. [Update: It's here.] I did find Democratic Debate 1: Night 2 on YouTube (but with so much introductory crap that I hope I copied that link from the actual start time of the debate). Consensus seems to be that Warren gave herself a boost on the first night, Booker committed to being in the Sanders/Warren lane (looking to be the VP pick?) and was doing well until he fumbled, De Blasio suddenly looked like he should be in the cabinet. Beto hurt himself, and no one seems to think Biden can win. Next night Biden embarrassed himself and Kamala Harris went after him like a prosecutor (although I think there were better lines of attack. And, wait a minute, didn't she go to school in Canada?) Buttigeig's damage control seemed to be good for anyone who doesn't read the news, but he repeated the "I don't want to help rich people go to college for free so let's make it harder for poor and middle class people just in case" story. Too bad we can't just vote Klobucher and Delany off the island. Yang still sounds like a libertoonian. Biden, Beto, and Buttigeig each dropped significantly in "electability" polling. Since the assumption of electability is all Biden's got, that doesn't bode well for him.

"Alabama Bars Sheriffs from Pocketing Food Funds: The Latest from State Legislatures: Alabama sheriffs can no longer personally pocket the funds meant to provide food to people in jail. A new law, sponsored by Republican Senator Arthur Orr and signed by Governor Kay Ivey, ends a rule that incentivized sheriffs to provide subpar meals and then keep leftover money. This longstanding practice drew renewed outrage in 2018, when an AL.com investigation by Conor Sheets revealed that Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin had pocketed $750,000 of jail food funds and bought a $740,000 beach house. Also in 2018, the Alabama Appleseed Center and the Southern Center for Human Rights went on the offensive, demanding that all sheriffs disclose how they use food funds; but many sheriffs refused."

How come rich Democratic donors never do this but a rich Republican did? "GOP donor gives $1 million to fight new Missouri abortion law, sues Secretary of State: A prolific GOP donor and Joplin businessman has contributed $1 million to fight a new Missouri law that criminalizes abortions after 8 weeks of pregnancy and has sued the Missouri Secretary of State for rejecting a referendum application that seeks to put the law before the voters in 2020." [...] 'While I am personally opposed to abortion, I do support a woman's right to choose, particularly in the case of rape or incest,' Humphreys said in a statement at the time. 'And I have to believe that the politicians in Jeff City that voted for this bill would themselves support their wives or daughters' right to choose if their loved ones were raped.'" That's right, a big Republican donor is fighting against a Republican abortion ban.

"Oregon Statehouse Shut Down After Lawmakers Team Up With Right-Wing Militias: Oregon's statehouse shut down for safety concerns on Saturday. But the threats weren't coming from anonymous trolls or foreign fighters—they were coming from the state's Republican senators, who have teamed up with right-wing militias to threaten violence over a climate change bill. Eleven of Oregon's Senate Republicans fled the state this week to avoid a vote on a bill that would cap greenhouse emissions. The group, believed to be hiding in Idaho, left the state senate with too few lawmakers to hold a vote. But the move is more than a legislative maneuver. The missing senators have partnered with right-wing paramilitary groups to threaten violence, should they be brought back to Oregon."

"Jewish Activists Are Protesting ICE Detention Centers Across The Country These young, progressive Jews are insisting that saying "Never again" to the Holocaust means speaking up about the government's treatment of migrants. [...] 'We have a responsibility as a people whose history included these kinds of atrocities to identify the signs and prevent them from happening,— said Rubin, a 25-year-old activist from Boston. 'If you've ever said, 'Never again,' or if you've ever wondered what you would have done if you were alive during the Holocaust, this is the time,— she added."

"California State University stashed $1.5 billion in reserves while hiking tuition, audit says: The California State University stashed away $1.5 billion in discretionary reserves while raising tuition and lobbying the Legislature for more funds, according to a report released Thursday by California State Auditor Elaine Howle. CSU put the money, which came primarily from student tuition, in outside accounts rather than in the state Treasury, the report said."

"Bernie to Student Loan Sharks: Drop Dead: Earlier today, Bernie Sanders and Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Pramila Jayapal announced a plan to completely cancel all $1.6 trillion of student debt. Funding for the program would come from a Wall Street speculation tax. 'If the American people bailed out Wall Street, now it is time for Wall Street to come to the aid of the middle class of this country,' Sanders said at a press conference. [...] In April, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a plan that would cancel about 40 percent of outstanding student debt ($640 billion). Warren's plan is means-tested, meaning that those with higher incomes — specifically those with household incomes above $100,000 per year — would have less of their debt forgiven, and many would have none forgiven at all. Her plan also capped the amount of debt forgiveness any borrower could receive at $50,000, regardless of income. Critically, as Jacobin's Meagan Day pointed out at the time, Warren's plan 'fails to fully cast education as a social right and student debt as essentially illegitimate. [T]his leaves the plan politically vulnerable, because if some student debt is legitimate, then conservative interests will endeavor to broaden that category.'"

"Illinois approves legal weed, expunging criminal records for pot crimes: Illinois on Tuesday became the 11th state to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana for adults, a major victory for cannabis advocates who incorporated "social justice" initiatives into the measure. With Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signature, the new law is the first of its kind passed by a state legislature and signed by a governor. It capped off a legislative year in which legalization efforts sputtered in New York and New Jersey despite heavy pressure from proponents. Illinois, which has more than 12 million residents, is the second-most-populous state to permit recreational cannabis, behind California. Regulators will spend the next few months developing a system for taxing and testing cannabis and will launch sales Jan. 1. [...] Money raised by the new taxes would first be dedicated to expunging about 770,000 minor cannabis-related cases. Expungement has long been a goal of marijuana-legalization advocates, who argue the federal government's war on drugs disproportionately targeted minorities. Other states have similar provisions, usually added after the fact, but Illinois' law is the first to contain such a sweeping expungement provision from the start. Any tax money left over would be used to support drug treatment and enforcement programs, improve mental health counseling access and bolster the state's general fund."

"Aggression Detectors: The Unproven, Invasive Surveillance Technology Schools Are Using to Monitor Students: Ariella Russcol specializes in drama at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, New York, and the senior's performance on this April afternoon didn't disappoint. While the library is normally the quietest room in the school, her ear-piercing screams sounded more like a horror movie than study hall. But they weren't enough to set off a small microphone in the ceiling that was supposed to detect aggression. A few days later, at the Staples Pathways Academy in Westport, Connecticut, junior Sami D'Anna inadvertently triggered the same device with a less spooky sound — a coughing fit from a lingering chest cold. As she hacked and rasped, a message popped up on its web interface: 'StressedVoice detected.' 'There we go,' D'Anna said with amusement, looking at the screen. 'There's my coughs.'"

Robert Reich at Common Dreams, "Dems Cave on the Border: A week of disgusting images at the border that repulsed a nation ended with Trump getting more money to carry out the same abuses, without accountability. While attention has been focused on the Democratic debate—in which most contenders are pushing progressive policies—congressional Democrats have moved in the opposite direction. They caved on an emergency border supplemental appropriation that can now be used by Trump to make the border situation worse, not better. This is how it happened, folks. The House had been working on a $4.5 billion emergency border supplemental appropriation designed to respond to the inhumane conditions in migrant holding cells. The goal was to use the funds to improve standards for migrants, and include safeguards to prevent Trump from using the money to finance deportation raids or his border wall. But then Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, along with a number of Senate Dems, came up with their own $4.6 billion bill containing none of the safeguards to limit the funding to emergency aid—even earmarking some of it to continue Trump's draconian immigration policies, including funding for ICE and funds that could be used for additional tent camps to warehouse more migrants. Chuck Schumer did nothing to keep the House safeguards in the Senate bill. Worse yet, when the Senate bill got to the House, Democratic centrists led by Josh Gottheimer organized enough votes to block the House from putting the safeguards back into the bill. Nancy Pelosi caved—accepting a bill her House majority had no hand in writing—and the House passed the Senate version, with 129 Democrats supporting it."

"What The Hell Is Nancy Pelosi Doing? House Democrats have lost their moral compass. [...] To sum up the week for House Democrats: no oversight of the rape allegation against the president, no protections for abused immigrant children, a hearing on tax cuts for millionaires and a request that Trump officials deregulate big banks. Democrats did pass a bill trying to guard voting systems from foreign intrusion. But at the moment, it appears the most serious threat to the party's electoral future is coming from inside the House."

"How Israeli spies are flooding Facebook and Twitter: Israel secretly operates a troll army of thousands, partly funded by a government department. The Ministry of Strategic Affairs is dedicated to a global 'war' against BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights. To conceal its involvement, the ministry has admitted to working through front groups that 'do not want to expose their connection with the state.'

No surprises here: "Major study suggests Medicaid work requirements are hurting people without really helping anybody: The first major study on the nation's first Medicaid work requirements finds that people fell off of the Medicaid rolls but didn't seem to find more work. Since Arkansas implemented the nation's first Medicaid work requirements last year, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found, Medicaid enrollment has fallen for working-age adults, the uninsured rate has been rising, and there has been little discernible effect on employment. The research appears to confirm some of the warnings from Medicaid advocates who opposed the Trump administration's approval of work requirements in Arkansas and other states. People are losing Medicaid coverage, often as a result of confusion rather than failure to meet the work requirements, but they aren't finding jobs and getting insurance that way. They are simply becoming uninsured."

David Dayen at The American Prospect, "The Democrats' Retirement Debacle—and Ted Cruz's Last-Minute Save: The House resoundingly passed a retirement bill that could be dangerous for workers. It's been blocked in the Senate because of an unrelated perk Cruz wants to give to homeschooling families. House Democratic leaders are frustrated. They thought America would thrill to the bills they're passing that have no chance of making it into law so long as Republicans control the Senate, and Donald Trump the White House. Why they thought that is beyond my comprehension—minority-party agendas hardly ever drive political discussion—but they're desperate to turn attention to a policy agenda rather than oversight of the president (another mistake, in my view). 'I'm spending a lot of time on the issues that my district sent me here to work on,' Representative Ben McAdams, a Blue Dog from Utah, told The Washington Post. 'But it doesn't break through. People understand controversy more than they understand retirement reform, you know?' McAdams should hope that people don't start to understand retirement reform, because then they'd know that the House, by an overwhelming 417-3 margin, passed a retirement reform bill last month that potentially exposes millions of workers to unscrupulous salespeople peddling high-cost annuities through their 401(k) plans. There's evidence to suggest that the bill is the reason that Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal has slow-walked oversight of the Trump administration, including collection of the president's tax returns. If Neal plays relatively nice with the White House, Trump might sign his bill, which helps out the annuity providers that are among Neal's biggest donors.

"Mayor Pete Is Really Screwing Up In His Day Job: On Sunday, a white South Bend police officer named Ryan O'Neil shot and killed 54-year old Eric Logan, a black man. O'Neil, who told investigators he was responding to a break-in, alleges that Logan was carrying a knife and refused to put it down, and that he was forced to shoot and kill Logan when he stepped towards the officer. O'Neil wasn't wearing a body cam during the incident. And as HuffPost reported earlier this week, court documents showed that fellow officers have alleged that O'Neil has made racist comments in the past. The incident is a window to how Buttigieg would handle criminal justice reform and police brutality at a national level. So far, according to an account in the Washington Post, it appears that he hasn't passed the test. According to the Post, Buttigieg gave a press conference about the killing while Logan's family waited in the next room. While the Post says they did have a brief conversation, the family 'grew frustrated with Buttigieg's inability to provide information and his lack of compassion,' and the meeting ended. '[Buttigieg] ain't done nothing,' Logan's mother told the Post. 'He ain't recognize me as the mother of nothing. He didn't say nothing to me.'"

"What Is Joe Biden Hiding About What He's Hiding From the New York Times?: On Wednesday, the New York Times published the culmination of a three-month-long project in which it asked 21 Democratic primary candidates the same 18 questions. According to the Times' own description of the project, every single candidate invited to participate in the Q&A sessions did so, except for one: former Vice President and current Democratic primary front-runner Joe Biden. [...] So what is Biden doing if he's not running around the country campaigning at a pace so frenetic that he can't find a single pocket of time over the course of months for the New York Times? Speaking to wealthy donors about the simpler times when he could still be friendly with avowed racists, for one. But even that only takes up so much time."

Biden was explaining his ability to work across the aisle with people he disagreed with — and cited some nasty segregationists as proof. This might have been interesting if he were working with segregationists to eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits or to lower the retirement age (fat chance), but no, he was working with segregationists to preserve segregation. He's just that kinda guy.

He also manages to give away the store when he works with Republicans, as mentioned before. Another piece of Ryan Grim's work on the suicide Democrats, "Joe Biden Says He Can Work With The Senate. The Last Time He Tried, Mitch Mcconnell Picked His Pockets Badly.: AS THE YEAR 2012 wound down, Democrats hopefully eyed what looked to be one of the last opportunities for genuine legislative progress in a divided government. The party had just stomped Republican Mitt Romney at the polls in a post-Occupy campaign that centered on economic inequality. Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate, expanding their majority to 53 and adding Elizabeth Warren to their ranks. Though Democrats won more House votes nationwide and picked up a net of eight seats, Republicans held onto the newly gerrymandered lower chamber. The hope was tied to the expiration of the tax cuts passed under George W. Bush. Republicans, despite losing the popular vote and only taking the White House in 2000 by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, moved swiftly to pass an enormous tax cut tilted heavily toward the rich. To do so, they used a parliamentary procedure that could get around the filibuster in the Senate, known as budget reconciliation. The cost of doing so, however, is that policy enacted through reconciliation must expire in 10 years' time. By the time the legislation was set to expire in 2010, the tea party wave had shaken up Congress. The Obama White House urged Senate Democrats to extend the tax cuts, arguing both that they had a difficult political hand, and also that extending them in an unstable economic environment was good policy. White House economic adviser Larry Summers told a private meeting of Finance Committee Democrats that allowing the tax cuts to expire would 'tank the economy,' according to a Senate aide at the time. [...] The Senate agreed to a two-year expansion at the end of 2010, but only after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., delivered his viral, eight-hour old-fashioned filibuster on the Senate floor to draw attention to the fiscal giveaway. The extension meant that the tax cuts were now expiring in 2012, and in order to repeal all of them — to go over what the media began calling the 'fiscal cliff' — all Congress had to do was nothing. That, Harry Reid told me in an interview for my new book, was precisely his plan. 'I wanted to go over the cliff,' said Reid, the Senate majority leader at the time. 'I thought that would have been the best thing to do because the conversation would not have been about raising taxes, which it became, it would have been about lowering taxes.' In other words, let all the rates go up, and then bargain with Republicans to reduce taxes just for the middle class and the poor. Then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell similarly knew the difficult position going over the cliff would put him in, and in preliminary talks with Reid, he agreed to let rates on people making more than $250,000 per year go back up, if to slightly lower levels to pre-Bush. (McConnell aides would later say that McConnell had not firmly conceded anything, and that negotiations weren't finalized.) [...] In desperation, McConnell reached out directly to Biden, calling him on the phone and explaining that Reid was refusing to be reasonable. Over the course of the day, McConnell and Biden struck a deal. 'Biden gave Republicans everything they wanted in exchange for fixing the fiscal cliff problem,' the GOP operative recalled."

Also, "Joe Biden Bragged About Getting Republicans To Raise Taxes In 2012. It Was Actually A Disaster For Democrats.: IT DIDN'T TAKE long for the political classes to decide that the biggest loser in part two of the first Democratic primary debate was former Vice President Joe Biden. California Sen. Kamala Harris ripped Biden for bragging about maintaining relationships with segregationists, leading Biden to bizarrely defend the right of local governments to pursue segregation as a policy. And the moderators raised his vote for the Iraq War while in the Senate. The most unlikely Biden callout, though, came in the form of a recent history lesson by longshot candidate Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet. Bennet turned one of Biden's own talking points back on him by pointing out the former vice president's revisionist version of when he was taken to the cleaners by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Biden attempted to defend his acumen for negotiating with Republicans during Thursday night's debate by citing his ability in late 2012 to convince McConnell to raise taxes. The problem for Biden was that multiple people on stage had witnessed Biden's effort, and it was an utter catastrophe for Democrats. [...] 'I got Mitch McConnell to raise taxes $600 billion!' Biden said. Bennet wasn't having it. 'The deal that he talked about with Mitch McConnell was a complete victory for the tea party,' Bennet said. 'That was a great deal for Mitch McConnell. It was a terrible deal for Americans.'"

"Warren emerges as potential compromise nominee: Centrists who once said the senator would lead the party to ruin are coming around to her as an alternative to Bernie Sanders." There are different ways to look at this. One is that the centrists will abandon Warren once she takes enough of Bernie's support to weaken him sufficiently. The other is that Bernie has been making room for Warren from the left. Of course, both of these things can be true.

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "Elizabeth Warren's Rise Is a Plus for Issue Politics — And a Bad Sign for Billionaires: The press is choosing to view it in another light. That will only work for so long. Back in 2009, I called for Elizabeth Warren to run for president. I may have been the first media figure to do so. This was early in the Obama presidency, when he was beginning to renege on some of his progressive campaign promises (closing Gitmo, drug re-importation, etc.), but more importantly already showing an unwillingness to take on Wall Street after the crash. Warren, a rare high-finance literate among national politicians, seemed like the person needed to lead an economic reform effort after the crash.

"How Third Way Democrats Could Get Trump Re-elected: The New Democracy PAC and other centrist groups want you to learn all the wrong lessons from 2016. [...] Just as there is nothing 'progressive' about PPI, there is nothing 'new' about the ideas advanced by New Democracy. Like the Republican Party, New Democracy is death on single-payer healthcare, which the group's website explains 'would force working Americans to give up their doctors, and raise the threat of rationing care.' Back in 2010, PPI wonks ensured that the White House not push for a 'public option'—a government-run nonprofit insurance option—in Obamacare. New Democracy's stated goal in 2020 is to expand 'the party's appeal across Middle America and make Democrats competitive.' Pragmatic radicals like Marshall advocate doing so not by 'tear[ing] up existing trade agreements' but by building a 'knowledge economy' that is 'shaped largely by American ingenuity and technological prowess'—a vision crafted for corporate America under the guise of aiding downwardly mobile white working people who, according to the New Democracy fairy tale, were abandoned by Democrats in 2016. Not so. The abandonment dates to the 1990s, when the DLC, PPI and Bill Clinton championed free trade policies that destroyed the livelihoods of working people of all races, including many of Hillary Clinton's 'deplorables.'"

The anti-Bernie talking points are going around again (such as here), so let's go back to 2016 when Katie Halper explained how, no, Bernie didn't "dismiss" identity politics. "Bernie Sanders Nailed It On Identity Politics and Inequality, and the Media Completely Missed the Point: For over a year, critics within and around the established wing of the Democratic Party have painted Bernie Sanders as a misogynistic, racist, heteronormative, cis, male, pseudo-anti-establishment, actually-totally establishment politician motivated by a humongous ego and a desire to thwart progress and the election of the first female president in US history. And then there were the less moderate critics. [...] And as we saw in a recent episode of anti-Sanders outrage, this narrative is still extant. On Sunday November 20, during a talk at Berklee College in Boston, Sanders said something nuanced about race, ethnicity, gender and class, and the same media that supported Clinton during the campaign distorted his remarks to fit this narrative."

Right-wing talking-point alert: I was following a thread on Bernie's debt-forgiveness plan and saw someone arguing that in Germany, which offers free college and reputedly excellent universal health coverage, everyone pays 50% of their income in taxes. This is not an uncommon error but this person actually linked an article (that part is unusual) that he apparently believed supported this point. This is the article he linked. As you can see, it does not say that there is a universal tax rate of 50%. It says there is a "tax wedge" of 50%, which is something else entirely. A quick google reveals: "The first €9,169 (or €18,338 for married couples submitting a combined return) earned each year is tax free. Any amount after that is subject to income tax. Income tax in Germany is progressive: first, income tax rates start at 14%, then they rise incrementally to 42%; last, very high income levels are taxed at 45%." In other words, you can conceivably be paying no more in income tax than 14% on all income over the first €9,169. However, there are other interesting taxes I've never heard of in the US or UK context. Imagine my surprise: "In addition to income tax, everyone has to pay solidarity tax, which is capped at 5.5% of your income tax. Finally, if you are a member of a registered church in Germany, you will also have to pay a church tax of 8 or 9% of your income, depending on which federal state you live in." I did enjoy this little exercise, which made a refreshing change from having to explain that, no, a top marginal rate of 90% does not mean that if you make ten dollars, the government only lets you keep a dollar.

Katie Halper, "Sydney Ember's Secret Sources: NYT reporter hides corporate ties of Sanders critics she highlights. New York Times reporter Sydney Ember has a problem with Bernie Sanders—which may be why the paper has her cover him. Ember is supposed to write reported articles, not op-eds, but she consistently paints a negative picture of Sanders' temperament, history, policies and/or political prospects in the over two dozen pieces she's done on him. This makes sense, given the New York Times' documented anti-Sanders bias, which can be found among both editors and reporters alike.

Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report, "The Ruling Class Will Not Tolerate the Sanders-Led Assault on Austerity: The Ruling Class Will Not Tolerate the Sanders-Led Assault on Austerity. The whole point of the austerity project is to disempower workers and concentrate wealth at the top. The rulers will kill to keep that dream alive."

RIP: "Gary Duncan, Quicksilver Messenger Service Guitarist, Dead at 72: Influential San Francisco psychedelic rock band among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list [...] Quicksilver Messenger Service bassist David Freiberg confirmed Duncan's death to Rolling Stone. Duncan's widow, Shelley Duncan Haslouer, said that Duncan had a 'severe fall and hit his head' last week. Duncan suffered a seizure as a result of the fall and went on life support for a few days before his death in Woodland, California. 'I've always thought of Gary as the engine of the original four-piece group,' Freiberg told Rolling Stone. 'He kind of taught me by osmosis, as I was a folkie 12-string guitar finger-picker, how to become a part of the machine. I felt he was always underrated as a guitarist. His solos with QMS were some of the finest ever. He was an amazingly talented musician — one of the best.'"

Seth Harp at The Intercept, "I'm A Journalist But I Didn't Fully Realize The Terrible Power Of U.S. Border Officials Until They Violated My Rights And Privacy [...] It was around 4 p.m. when Moncivias finally finished up and informed me, anticlimactically, that I was free to go. I couldn't wait to get outside because the detention area was freezing. No wonder Spanish-speaking migrants call CBP detention la hielera — the icebox. I took my phone and laptop and silently packed up my luggage, which still lay disemboweled on the desk, underwear and all. Pomeroy was gone by this time. As I was walking out, I said to Moncivias and Villarreal, 'It's funny, of all the countries I've been to, the border guards have never treated me worse than here, in the one country I'm a citizen of, in the town where I was born.' 'Welcome back to the USA,' Moncivias said."

"How a Young Joe Biden Turned Liberals Against Integration: Forty years ago, the Senate supported school busing— until a 32-year-old changed his mind. [...] Ed Brooke, a Massachusetts Republican, was the first black senator ever to be popularly elected; Joe Biden was a freshman Democratic senator from Delaware. By 1975, both had compiled liberal voting records. But that year, Biden sided with conservatives and sponsored a major anti-busing amendment. The fierce debate that followed not only fractured the Senate's bloc of liberals, it also signified a more wide-ranging political phenomenon: As white voters around the country —especially in the North — objected to sweeping desegregation plans then coming into practice, liberal leaders retreated from robust integration policies.

"Apple's Scary Buying Power And The Woman Who Named It: Last month, the Supreme Court opened the door for Apple to lose a lot of money. It decided in Apple vs Pepper — the rare court case that sounds like a deathmatch between fruits and vegetables — that Apple could be held liable for how it runs its App Store. Apple typically takes a 30% cut from every app and service sold there, and Robert Pepper, the lead plaintiff for a class action, claims the company's anti-competitive practices are hurting consumers like him. In handing down this decision, Justice Brett Kavanaugh broke with his conservative colleagues and joined the liberals. Delivering the majority opinion for the court, Kavanaugh wrote that Apple can be sued by its customers "on a monopoly theory." That's pretty standard: when a company, facing little competition, uses its market position to raise the prices of its products, it can be in violation of laws aimed at promoting competition and the well-being of consumers. But Kavanaugh went further. He said Apple could also be sued by app developers, most of whom are forced to fork over a big percentage of their potential revenue, "on a monopsony theory." Over the last couple years, this obscure economic term — monopsony — has popped up in courtrooms, newspapers, magazines, academic journals, and the halls of government. [...] Released in 1933, Robinson's book, The Economics of Imperfect Competition, took aim at the notion that markets were perfectly competitive. Competition, economists believe, ensures prosperity. It's what makes goods and services affordable. It's what drives innovation and economic growth. And by giving us options to quit crummy jobs and get new ones at competing firms, it's supposed to provide a crucial channel for getting a raise. The question Robinson sought to answer was: what happens when markets aren't really competitive?"

From Law Works, The Investigation: A Search For The Truth In Ten Acts" - Theatrical reading of the (abridged) Mueller Report by John Lithgow, Kevin Kline, Anette Bening, Ben McKenzie, Alfre Woodard, Alyssa Milano, Zachary Quinto, Joel Grey, and others.

Quicksilver Messenger Service, "Pride of Man"

02:12 GMT comment


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Something inside, that was always denied, for so many years

David Dayen at The American Prospect, "Tom Perez Traded a Puerto Rico Statehood Endorsement for DNC Chair Votes [...] The anecdote reveals a mildly seamier side of backroom politics. But it throws the decision to nix the climate debate into even sharper relief. Tom Perez owes his chairmanship to some maneuvering on the island of Puerto Rico. If there's anyone who owes an island devastated by extreme weather, it's Tom Perez. And yet while he seeks the favor of power-broker Puerto Rican politicians enough to meet their demands, he won't grant the people of Puerto Rico some debate time to address the very topic that's led to so much of their destruction."

Also David Dayen talked to Sam Seder on The Majority Report, Casual Friday w/ David Dayen & Andy Kindler - MR Live - 6/7/19.

You gotta listen to this Majority Report: We've Got People: From Jesse Jackson to AOC, the End of Big Money w/ Ryan Grim - MR Live - 6/10/19. Every interview Grim does on this book reveals new nuggets of horribleness from the Dem leadership that screwed us. In this episode, how Joe Biden pulled the rug out from under Harry Reid when he was trying to get rid of the Bush tax cuts and get something good for the public. I've always wondered how Obama could do something as stupid as making the "temporary" Bush tax "cuts" permanent, and now I know exactly who to blame.

"Citing Fears of Americans Getting 'Screwed,' Progressive Democrats Call Out Pelosi for Crafting Pharma-Friendly Drug Pricing Bill in Secret: 'If we don't address this in a big and bold way, a lot of us should go home and start knitting,' said Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Mark Pocan"

I keep seeing "centrist" supporters insisting that Joe Biden's horrible policies were in the last century and he's "evolved" on them by now. No, he hasn't. On abortion, for example, he not only supported the Hyde Amendment throughout his career, but tried to shoe-horn birth control bans into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And his campaign says he hasn't changed his tune on Hyde. Except that there was such a huge reaction to this that he reversed his position overnight, suddenly repeating the same objections to Hyde he'd been shrugging off for more than 40 years.

I saw someone who is alert and knowledgeable about what's going on in politics link an article asserting that Elizabeth Warren had chosen a charter school lobbyist to introduce her at a campaign event. People who are also alert and knowledgeable started talking about why Warren would position herself that way. Luckily, someone in that same conversation posted a link this article debunking the first one. It says many wise things "Rebecca Solnit: How Internet Insinuation Becomes Campaign Fact: On the Curious Case of Elizabeth Warren and the 'Charter School Lobbyist' Who Wasn't."

Cenk interviews Bernie about the usual stuff.

"Bernie Sanders's Walmart Speech May Offer a Preview of Larger Labor Proposals: On policy, Sanders is perhaps best known for his support for two progressive proposals: Medicare for All and a fifteen-dollar minimum wage. But his appearance at Walmart's shareholders' meeting came on the heels of a report, by the Washington Post, that Sanders is expected to release a pair of proposals that take a new approach to reducing the wealth gap. One is a plan to require large companies, like Walmart, to grant workers a substantial number of seats on their corporate boards. The other would require companies to turn over portions of their stock to a worker-controlled fund, granting employees both stock dividends and, potentially, the votes in corporate affairs afforded to shareholders."

"Bernie Sanders's most socialist idea yet, explained" by Dylan Matthews at Vox, and the Guardian says, "Bernie Sanders' plan to empower workers could revolutionise Britain's economy: Giving employees a stake in firms would reshape power: this could be the start of a transatlantic challenge to neoliberalism."

"Watch Bernie Sanders Deliver Speech on Why Democratic Socialism 'Only Way to Defeat Oligarchy and Authoritarianism': 'We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights. And that is what I mean by democratic socialism.'" In which Senator Sanders re-submits FDR's Economic Bill of Rights and quotes the man himself. (Full transcript and reporting included.)

"Even the 1% Know They Aren't Paying Their Fair Share: New Poll Shows 60% of Millionaires Support Warren's Ultra-Wealth Tax: 'A majority of Americans, even the 1% of us, know that our inequality is out of control and we need to make some big changes if we want to fix things.'"

Ways And Means Committee Chair Doesn't Want Medicare For All Hearing To Mention 'Medicare For All': IN PREPARATION FOR Wednesday's hearing on Medicare for All before the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the panel's chair met privately with Democrats to lay out how he wants it to unfold. Rep. Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat who has been in office since 1989, told the Democrats on the panel that he didn't want the phrase 'Medicare for All' to be used. Instead, he said, the hearing should focus on all the different ways to achieve 'universal health care' or 'universal health coverage,' which he said was a better term to deploy. Medicare for All, he argued, was wrong on policy and is a political loser, sources present for the meeting, held last Wednesday, told The Intercept."

"'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion: The top one percent owns nearly $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half owns less than nothing."

Down With Tyranny! is still the best place to learn about Democratic self-sabotage while it's happening. Recent examples are:
* "The Same Reasons Why Primaries Are So Important, Are The Reasons Anti-Democracy Creeps Like Cheri Bustos Hate Them" — More on how the new official anti-primary rule is setting us up.
* "House Democrats Pass Dreamer Protection Bill, But... " — How the Blue Dogs and New Dems tried to help Republicans poison-pill the bill, orchestrated by the execrable Josh Gottheimer. I do not know why this odious man is still not being primaried.

"A Harris poll for "Axios on HBO" finds that socialism is gaining popularity: 4 in 10 Americans say they would prefer living in a socialist country over a capitalist one. Why it matters: Socialism is losing its Soviet-era stigma, especially among women. Popular Democratic socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders are bringing new life and meaning to the term." Socialism is also a lot more popular with women than with men, proving once again that Bernie Bros are the problem.

Matt Taibbi has a sort of blog you may want to subscribe to. It's really articles posted one after another on the page. The one that drew it to my attention is "Military vs. military, with an interesting take on how General Michael Flynn annoyed Washington by taking a position that was unpopular in DC. "Flynn is also a puzzle. He's been outspoken and critical of America's Middle East adventures in a way that's almost unheard of in a military man. In a paper about Afghanistan he once wrote, he said, 'Merely killing insurgents usually serves to multiply enemies rather than subtract them.' He denounced our intel there as 'ignorant,' 'incurious,' and 'disengaged.'"

And speaking of Taibbi's Substack, Thomas Neuburger quotes from it at length in a post called, "Are Right-Wing Media Sources Ever Reliable? which addresses the curious case of what is either an important story or a ridiculous rationalization from John Solomon — but we don't know, because almost no one is writing about it either to support it or refute it. Oh, and he quoted me from a letter, too. I think I'll make a meme quoting myself: "There's a right-wing media that tells its listeners that Democrats are corrupt and lying, which they are. There's a leftish media that tells its viewers that Republicans are corrupt and lying, which they are. The only people who admit that both of these things are true are 'the crazy far-left'."

"Dismissing Bernie Sanders as a communist shows your 'profound ignorance,' says one of the most influential behind-the-scenes figures in American business: Delaware is the second-smallest American state by area and has under a million people, but it's where 66.8% of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated. The First State has become a destination for major corporations' legal frameworks largely due to policies that result in significantly smaller tax bills than elsewhere in the country. This also means that its courts are among the most important in the United States for business, and the chief justice of its Supreme Court has a platform for influencing corporate law. Leo E. Strine, Jr., is the outspoken judge holding that position, and he's got a lot to say about the current state of the American economy. At the recent CECP CEO Investor Forum in New York, which focused on CEOs moving beyond toxic 'short-termism,' Strine said that growth is largely captured by the country's wealthiest. He explained that this can only be changed on a structural level if Republicans and centrist Democrats start supporting significant changes, and look to the past. He pointed to the way some Americans talk about Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running as a Democratic presidential candidate. 'When people talk Bernie Sanders as if he's a communist, they show a profound ignorance' of the market and of history, Strine said. He added that while he doesn't agree with all of Sanders' proposals, they're not actually radical from a historical or global perspective. Per Strine, Sanders is actually a centrist by the standards of some of our closest and most prosperous European allies. 'There is profound economic insecurity. That is the sort of thing that happened in the late '20s and 1930s and that we overcame with New Deal democracy, which became a role model for market dynamism that was tempered by fairness for everybody,' Strine said."

"In Appeal to Moderates, Sanders Calls for Worker-Ownership of Means of Production [...] And yet if Sanders's plan for worker wealth funds is his most radical and socialistic, moderate voters may actually find it more palatable than his conventional redistributive policies. As mentioned above, raising taxes on the non-rich isn't superpopular in the contemporary United States. Over the past half-century, conservative Republicans (and, to a lesser extent, neoliberal Democrats) have given Americans plenty of cause for doubting that Uncle Sam will be a faithful steward of their tax dollars. Asking voters to believe that the federal government knows how to invest their income better than they do can be tough. But asking them to believe that they know how to invest their employer's income better than their bosses? That's usually an easier sell."

I'm not going to argue with the content of Saritha Prabhu's short article "Joe Biden is a candidate of the oligarchy. Democratic primary voters will see through him", but I was disturbed by this: "He is a personally decent man. But the fact is, he is a consummate, long-time Washington insider, who has demonstrated in his long career that he often dances with the ones who brought him: wealthy donors and special interests." No, the donor class may be the ones who push the candidate, but the phrase "dance with the ones who brung ya" isn't about donors, it's about the people who actually matter when it comes to getting into office: the voters. And that's been the problem with Democratic politicians for 50 years - they think their dance partners should be the donors, but we are the ones who brung 'em, and they won't dance with us, and we let them get away with it, which is why they can keep doing it.

"Team Of American Hackers And Emirati Spies Discussed Attacking The Intercept: OPERATIVES AT A controversial cybersecurity firm working for the United Arab Emirates government discussed targeting The Intercept and breaching the computers of its employees, according to two sources, including a member of the hacking team who said they were present at a meeting to plan for such an attack. The firm, DarkMatter, brought ex-National Security Agency hackers and other U.S. intelligence and military veterans together with Emirati analysts to compromise the computers of political dissidents at home and abroad, including American citizens, Reuters revealed in January. The news agency also reported that the FBI is investigating DarkMatter's use of American hacking expertise and the possibility that it was wielded against Americans."

"Breach Of Ethics: Exclusive: Leaked Chats Between Brazilian Judge and Prosecutor Who Imprisoned Lula Reveal Prohibited Collaboration and Doubts Over Evidence: A LARGE TROVE of documents furnished exclusively to The Intercept Brasil reveals serious ethical violations and legally prohibited collaboration between the judge and prosecutors who last year convicted and imprisoned former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on corruption charges — a conviction that resulted in Lula being barred from the 2018 presidential election. These materials also contain evidence that the prosecution had serious doubts about whether there was sufficient evidence to establish Lula's guilt. The archive, provided to The Intercept by an anonymous source, includes years of internal files and private conversations from the prosecutorial team behind Brazil's sprawling Operation Car Wash, an ongoing corruption investigation that has yielded dozens of major convictions, including those of top corporate executives and powerful politicians. In the files, conversations between lead prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol and then-presiding Judge Sergio Moro reveal that Moro offered strategic advice to prosecutors and passed on tips for new avenues of investigation. With these actions, Moro grossly overstepped the ethical lines that define the role of a judge. In Brazil, as in the United States, judges are required to be impartial and neutral, and are barred from secretly collaborating with one side in a case. Other chats in the archive raise fundamental questions about the quality of the charges that ultimately sent Lula to prison. He was accused of having received a beachfront triplex apartment from a contractor as a kickback for facilitating multimillion-dollar contracts with the state-controlled oil firm Petrobras. In group chats among members of the prosecutorial team just days before filing the indictment, Dallagnol expressed his increasing doubts over two key elements of the prosecution's case: whether the triplex was in fact Lula's and whether it had anything to do with Petrobras. These two questions were critical to their ability to prosecute Lula. Without the Petrobras link, the task force running the Car Wash investigation would have no legal basis for prosecuting this case, as it would fall outside of their jurisdiction. Even more seriously, without proving that the triplex belonged to Lula, the case itself would fall apart, since Lula's alleged receipt of the triplex was the key ingredient to prove he acted corruptly." They knew they were just making it up and they had no case, but it didn't stop them. But now questions are shaking the political discourse and Moro is even being pressed to resign.

"We Finally Have Found a Way to Convert Donor Blood Into a Universal Type: In July last year, the American Red Cross declared an emergency blood shortage - it simply wasn't receiving enough donations to help all the patients that needed blood. Now, researchers from the University of British Columbia may have found a way to address the problem, even if people aren't donating more: convert a less-usable blood type into one that anyone can receive."

RIP: "Dr. John, Hall of Fame Singer Who Brought New Orleans to the World, Dead at 77: 'He created a unique blend of music which carried his hometown, New Orleans, at its heart, as it was always in his heart,' family says of Grammy-winning musician born Malcolm John Rebennack. [...] Although best known for his Seventies solo work and radio hits like 'Right Place, Wrong Time,' Rebennack had a career that spanned pop history. He was a key part of the 'Wrecking Crew' stable of ace Los Angeles session musicians in the Sixties. He played on recordings by Cher, Aretha Franklin, Canned Heat, Frank Zappa and countless others, fusing funk with R&B and boogie woogie." His first album was one of the three I lost my virginity to when the guy across the hall played them all night, since he'd bought them all earlier that day.

RIP: "Doris Day, who has died aged 97, was a singer who came out of the big-band boom of the 1940s to become one of Hollywood's top box-office stars throughout the 50s and 60s. She had a honey voice, short, buttercup-coloured hair, a sunny smile — and as many scruples as freckles. If Marilyn Monroe was the 'girl downtown' at 20th Century Fox, Day was the archetypal 'girl next door' at Warners." Yes, that was how I had remembered her, until I saw Young Man With a Horn one day on my TV, all dark in black & white, and realized she'd been something else before. Be that as it may, That Touch of Mink, in which she plays the ultimate Good Girl, is one of my favorite flicks. This owes a lot, of course, to the interplay between Cary Grant and Gig Young, our heroine's best friend played by Audrey Meadows, and John Astin's portrayal of the egregiously sleazy Mr. Beasley. So, in spite of her image, she's had a place in my heart ever since.

RIP: "Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli dies at 96: The Florence native directed stars including Elizabeth Taylor in the 1967 film Taming of the Shrew and Dame Judi Dench on stage in Romeo and Juliet. Italian media said Zeffirelli died after a long illness which had grown worse in recent months."

Nick Hanauer used to believe one of those benevolent rich people things that screwed things up worse, but... "Better Schools Won't Fix America: Like many rich Americans, I used to think educational investment could heal the country's ills — but I was wrong. Fighting inequality must come first. [...] Taken with this story line, I embraced education as both a philanthropic cause and a civic mission. I co-founded the League of Education Voters, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public education. I joined Bill Gates, Alice Walton, and Paul Allen in giving more than $1 million each to an effort to pass a ballot measure that established Washington State's first charter schools. All told, I have devoted countless hours and millions of dollars to the simple idea that if we improved our schools—if we modernized our curricula and our teaching methods, substantially increased school funding, rooted out bad teachers, and opened enough charter schools—American children, especially those in low-income and working-class communities, would start learning again. Graduation rates and wages would increase, poverty and inequality would decrease, and public commitment to democracy would be restored. But after decades of organizing and giving, I have come to the uncomfortable conclusion that I was wrong. And I hate being wrong. What I've realized, decades late, is that educationism is tragically misguided. American workers are struggling in large part because they are underpaid—and they are underpaid because 40 years of trickle-down policies have rigged the economy in favor of wealthy people like me. Americans are more highly educated than ever before, but despite that, and despite nearly record-low unemployment, most American workers—at all levels of educational attainment—have seen little if any wage growth since 2000. To be clear: We should do everything we can to improve our public schools. But our education system can't compensate for the ways our economic system is failing Americans. Even the most thoughtful and well-intentioned school-reform program can't improve educational outcomes if it ignores the single greatest driver of student achievement: household income.

It's all about the rents. "Michael Hudson - How We Got to Junk Economics: In this episode of Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges interviews Michael Hudson, UMKC economics professor and author of Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy. In the first half of their conversation, Hedges and Hudson trace the history of classical economics and explore Marx's interpretation of capitalism as exploitation." Adam Smith understood that allowing the rentiers to run things was a way to destroy an entire society. Then the Junk Economists came along and rationalized a rentiers' economy — and people still believe it.
* "Days of Revolt: Junk Economics and the Future: In this episode of Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges continues his discussion with UMKC economics professor Michael Hudson on his new book Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy. Hedges and Hudson expose the liberal class' allegiance to the predatory creditors on Wall Street and their indifference to real economic justice."

"Frustrated by His Own Party [...] Franklin D. Roosevelt began his "fireside chat" on June 24, 1938, as he had begun others, recounting New Deal battles won and lost during the most recent congressional session. But he ended the broadcast with a surprise. "And now," the president intoned, "I want to say a few words about the coming political primaries." In this midterm primary season, he said, "there will be many clashes between two schools of thought, generally classified as liberal and conservative." Roosevelt insisted that, as "head of the Democratic Party," charged with carrying out "the definitely liberal declaration of principles set forth in the 1936 Democratic platform," he had an obligation to speak out about primary contests involving such a clash. Thus did Roosevelt announce a political gambit not attempted by any president since: active and personal intervention in key primary contests, not only to protect liberals but to replace conservatives. The press branded the effort a "purge," and the name stuck. As Susan Dunn emphasizes in Roosevelt's Purge, her lively narrative of that vexed campaign, FDR was motivated not merely by personal pique and short-term legislative goals but by a vision of a refashioned party system. He explained in that extraordinary fireside chat that primaries should facilitate a "healthy choice" between the two parties in November, for "an election cannot give the country a firm sense of direction if it has two or more national parties which merely have different names but are as alike in their principles and aims as peas in the same pod." According to Dunn, Roosevelt "believed that the nation should have two effective and responsible parties, one liberal and the other conservative." Since the president attempted to accomplish in one frenzied summer what six decades of subsequent developments only haltingly produced, it's perhaps no surprise that the effort failed. But what an exciting failure!"

Blast from the past, George Monbiot in April of 2016, "Neoliberalism — the ideology at the root of all our problems: Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump — neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative?"

"When Democrats Declined Populism: Sam & Chris Hayes in 2010 - MR Throwback - 5/27/19" — Frustration with Obama had us tearing out our hair, and we knew what he was setting us up for.

"Jacques Cousteau's Grandson Is 3D Printing Coral Reefs: Fabien Cousteau, descendant of the famous sea explorer, is working on a project to bring 3D printed coral reefs to the Caribbean island of Bonaire."

"The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper': The Story Behind Every Song: A track-by-track guide to every tune on the landmark 1967 album"

01:58 GMT comment


Friday, 07 June 2019

Can't believe you fake it

"Benjamin Netanyahu: The fugitive Crime Minister: In a move considered surreal even two days ago, the Israeli Knesset — elected on April 9th — dissolved itself last night (Wednesday). Some new Members of Knesset didn't even get to get to give their maiden speech. The vote on dismissal came after a few political days which cannot be described as anything but lunatic. [...] With no cards up his sleeve and no rabbits in his hat, the so-called wizard of Israeli politics managed to pull an extraordinary act of self-immolation."

"Biden, Sanders other Democrats lead Trump in Michigan poll: Lansing — While most Michigan voters don't want Congress to impeach President Donald Trump, a majority said they would vote against him if the election were held today, according to a new statewide poll. Both former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont showed 12-point margins over the first-term Republican incumbent in a Glengariff Group public opinion survey of 600 likely voters released to The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (Local 4). Three other Democrats included in the poll were preferred over Trump by less substantial margins. [...] South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (6 points), U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (4 points) and Kamala Harris of California (3 points) polled ahead of the president in the Glengariff poll, but the advantages of Warren and Harris were within the 4-percentage-point margin of error."

"Ginsburg sides with conservative justices in ruling over prison sentence: The Supreme Court on Monday found that a criminal defendant can be sentenced for violating his supervised release, even if the release expires while he is incarcerated ahead of facing new charges. The justices, divided in the 5-4 decision, ruled against Jason Mont's argument that a district court shouldn't be able to charge him for violating his release because the term had expired at the time of the new sentencing. [...] However, Sotomayor wrote in the dissenting opinion that she doesn't agree with the majority's reasoning "that a person 'is imprisoned in connection with a conviction' before any conviction has occurred.'"

Ryan Grim's book We've Got People: From Jesse Jackson to AOC, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement is coming out, and he's done a couple of interviews on it that are really worth listening to, and you can find them here. The one with Chapo Trap House is particularly fine and concentrates on the evils of Rahm Emanuel and his would-be successor, Josh Gottheimer.

RIP: "Musician Leon Redbone dies aged 69 [...] Notoriously secretive, Redbone rarely spoke out but when asked in a rare interview why he chose to focus on music from the 20s and 30s, he said: 'It was a more interesting time, a more interesting period in the history of the music development of certain styles of music. Something about it seems to speak to me more than what came after.'" My favorite line in this obit is, "Born in Cyprus and once allegedly known as Dickran Gobalian" - I mean, what?

RIP: "Three-Eyed Man: Remembering Psychedelic Seer Roky Erickson." The genius behind the 13th Floor Elevators has died at 71. Rolling Stone has some clips up for you.

"There is hard data that shows that a centrist Democrat would be a losing candidate: Economist Thomas Piketty wrote a paper about this in 2018, though the Democrats paid no attention. The Republican Party has earned a reputation as the anti-science, anti-fact party — understandably, perhaps, given the GOP's policy of ignoring the evidence for global climate change and insisting on the efficacy of supply-side economics, despite all the research to the contrary. Yet ironically, it is now the Democratic Party that is wantonly ignoring mounds of social science data that suggests that promoting centrist candidates is a bad, losing strategy when it comes to winning elections. As the Democratic establishment and its pundit class starts to line up behind the centrist nominees for president — mainly, Joe Biden, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris — the party's head-in-the-sand attitude is especially troubling. [...] Piketty's paper is an inconvenient truth for the Democratic Party. The party's leaders see themselves as the left wing of capital — supporting social policies that liberal rich people can get behind, never daring to enact economic reforms that might step on rich donors' toes. Hence, the establishment seems intent on anointing the centrist Democrats of capital, who push liberal social policies and neoliberal economic policies."

Somewhat longer than usual post by Atrios that begins: "Both Sides: I often think people miss the point of the 'both sides' joke which is not actually that the press always feels the need to bring the universe into harmony by finding a way to match up the sins of one party with supposedly equal and opposite sins of the other. They only both sides...one side. As in, Democratic sins stand on their own, while Republican sins inspire lines like 'Republican Congressman John Smith's conviction on 37 counts of child rape are a stark reminder of the time Democratic Congressman Jay Smith was arrested for whistling too loudly at a woman in public in 1926.'" Read the rest.

Jimmy Dore found a really creepy video of a guy explaining how to provoke a war with Iran. Not as a warning, but as a How-To.

"What was the first US city to undergo an attack from the air? No, not NYC, 2001. And it wasn't Honolulu, 1941, either. No, it occurred during what was probably the worst, bloodiest, deadliest and most destructive 'race' riot in American history occurred in 1921: in the 'Black' neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, called Greenwood. The Governor of Oklahoma ordered military aircraft to attack the Greenwood district of Tulsa with incendiary bombs and sniper fire on Sunday, June 1, 1921, to suppress a 'Negro Rebellion.'"

Coo, Wikipedia has a nice pic of Whit Diffie.

Have a clip from "Feast Your Ears: The Story of WHFS 102.3 FM. I can't actually remember when I first met Cerphe, I guess it was wandering into the building to see a friend who had a late show, but I haven't seen him since that time I saw him hitching into town and picked him up and got to see his new hair up close.

Garbage, "Stupid Girl"

03:14 GMT comment


Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Winter is over?

David Dayen's last piece for The Intercept before he takes his new stint as executive editor of The American Prospect to full time. "How Rep. Ro Khanna Got A Price-Gouging Defense Contractor To Return $16.1 Million To The Pentagon: JUST BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY, embattled defense contractor TransDigm agreed to return $16.1 million in excess profits to the Department of Defense. The refund was remarkable, a rare example of what congressional oversight can accomplish. TransDigm wasn't required by law to reimburse the Pentagon, and it didn't cough up the dough at the behest of regulators. It returned the money after a damning report from the Defense Department's inspector general, showing profit margins as high as 4,451 percent on sole-source spare parts. And it did so after a contentious House Oversight Committee hearing two weeks ago, where members of both parties — from freshmen progressives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib to Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan — demanded payback. In other words, TransDigm paid $16.1 million because powerful people asked them to. 'We saved more money today for the American people than our Committee's entire budget for the year,' said House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in a statement. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., chaired that hearing. For him, it was the culmination of two years of work on TransDigm, which started when he was a freshman member of the minority party in the House. His successful fight to hold an egregious monopolist accountable for price-gouging reveals the kind of power members of Congress can wield, if they choose to wield it. At a time when much of Congress has gone out of its way to make itself irrelevant, fulminating about the corruption and obstruction of the Trump White House but unwilling to do much about it, it's worth pausing to look at the type of investigation the legislative branch is capable of — and used to routinely perform, to great success."

"The Boss of the NYC Board of Elections is Pushing for New Voting Machines Made by a Company He Benefited From: : It's a new machine called the ExpressVote XL, and it's made by the major voting machine manufacturer, Election Systems and Software (ES&S). In a letter exclusively obtained by NY1, the city asked the state Board of Elections this week to possibly use the new machine for early voting this year. It says using paper ballots would be virtually impossible. That's because there will be far fewer poll sites open for early voting than on a traditional election day. Officials question whether every site would be able to keep all of the different ballot configurations for each election district, and this ExpressVote XL machine uses a touch screen to vote instead. But there is a problem: The state Board of Elections has not certified or fully tested this machine for use in New York. The city Board of Elections is essentially asking state officials to skirt that approval process, specifically asking permission from the state board to use the machine in this fall's general election. [...] Ryan's request comes after NY1 uncovered last year that he had been sitting on a secretive advisory board for this same voting machine company. The company paid for him to take trips across the country, attending so-called conferences. 'The arguments that are in this letter hue very closely to a lot of those arguments we hear coming directly from the vendor's salespeople,' said Susan Greenhalgh of the National Election Defense Coalition. 'They are picking a piece of voting technology that has been roundly criticized across the country and that is insecure,' said Susan Lerner of Common Cause."

"Bernie Sanders will call for ban on for-profit charter schools: (CNN)In a major education policy speech set to be delivered Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders will call for a ban on all for-profit charter schools, a position that puts him directly at odds with the Trump administration and becoming the first of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to insist on such a move. The Vermont independent also will call for a moratorium on the funding of all public charter school expansion until a national audit on the schools has been completed. Additionally, Sanders will promise to halt the use of public funds to underwrite all new charter schools if he is elected president."

Lawrence Wilkerson is in The New York Times saying he and his boss did a bad thing and he recognizes the signs. "I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It's Happening Again. Fifteen years ago this week, Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, spoke at the United Nations to sell pre-emptive war with Iraq. As his chief of staff, I helped Secretary Powell paint a clear picture that war was the only choice, that when 'we confront a regime that harbors ambitions for regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we are not confronting the past, we are confronting the present. And unless we act, we are confronting an even more frightening future.' [...] This should not be forgotten, since the Trump administration is using much the same playbook to create a false impression that war is the only way to address the threats posed by Iran."

Even Peter Beinart, in The Atlantic, has a problem with it. "Even Democrats Keep Thinking Iran Is Worse Than Saudi Arabia [...] By echoing the GOP's confrontational language, these Democrats are forgetting a crucial lesson of the Iraq War. America didn't invade Baghdad only because people such as John Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control, misrepresented intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. America invaded because, under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Democrats and Republicans so inflated the threat from Saddam Hussein that restoring normal economic and diplomatic relations with his regime became politically impossible. The result was a web of sanctions that no administration could lift, and a glide path to war. [...] Ever since the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, Americans have held an understandably negative view of the Iranian regime, a public perception that makes it easy for Trump, Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to describe it as the root of virtually all of the Middle East's ills. But, in truth, Iran today is no more aggressive and malign than its key regional competitor, and America's ally, Saudi Arabia. [...] Saudi and Emirati misdeeds don't excuse Iran's. But they underscore the problem with calling Iran reckless, revolutionary, imperial, or destabilizing without describing its American-backed rivals in the same way. In contrast to Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo, security professionals generally describe Iran's foreign policy as opportunistic but cautious. A 2014 Pentagon report argued that 'Iran's military doctrine is defensive.' In 2012, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, called the Iranian regime a 'rational actor,' an assessment echoed by Benny Gantz, then head of the Israel Defense Forces, and the former Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan. The Democrats running for president need to say this too. They need to say it because only by challenging the Trump administration's description of Iran as singularly irrational and menacing can Democrats justify the normalization of relations with Tehran. And without such a normalization, the prospect of war, which flared this week, will return again and again."

"Sanders, Warren, And Wyden Slam Assange Indictment, A Renegade Use Of The Espionage Act To Criminalize Journalism: THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT filed 17 charges against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange on Thursday, deploying the controversial Espionage Act as a cudgel against First Amendment protections and press freedom. It's the first time the U.S. government has used the Espionage Act to prosecute a publisher, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, along with Sen. Ron Wyden, who all have been outspoken on civil liberties issues, slammed the indictment. 'Let me be clear: it is a disturbing attack on the First Amendment for the Trump administration to decide who is or is not a reporter for the purposes of a criminal prosecution,' Sanders wrote in a tweet Friday afternoon after The Intercept contacted his office for comment. 'Donald Trump must obey the Constitution, which protects the publication of news about our government.'"

"Pelosi Must Not Run Congress Like Trump Ran His Businesses: In the midst of a constitutional crisis of Trumpian proportions, the House of Representatives is poised to unilaterally disarm. At the very heart of how the Congress can hold the president to account is whether it will have the resources to do so. The only real growth in Congress's budget over the last decade has been for the Capitol police force (up 25 percent), the Copyright Office (up 50 percent), and tellingly, the Office of the Speaker (up 23 percent) and the Minority Leader (up 46 percent). So the leadership has been spared the brunt of these actions even as the first branch has been hollowed out. This year alone, spending on the Office of the Speaker will go up almost 12 percent. And yet, Democrats, having finally regained control of the people's chamber, are busy cementing Congress's second-class status."

"Nancy Pelosi Plans To Go Easy On Big Pharma: Progressive advocates are angry about the speaker's drug price proposal. Do Democrats care? [...] Although much still depends on the final details of the legislation, the scheme that Pelosi presented to her colleagues would represent a serious defeat for Democrats concerned about the power of Big Pharma and monopolies writ large. It is not clear, for instance, how HHS would select the 25 drugs in question or how long any lower prices would remain valid."

In Fortune, "Joe Biden Is Wrong. Businesses Will—and Want to—Pay for Medicare for All: Earlier this week, former vice president and current presidential hopeful Joe Biden made one of the more unusual arguments against Medicare for All. 'Right now you have this ... overwhelming number of employers who are paying into the health care plan. Why let them off the hook? All the sudden they don't have to pay anything?' I'm one of those employers, and I'm supportive of Medicare for All, but it's not about being let off the hook. As the founder and CEO of a business that has always provided health care for our employees, MCS Industries, I'd rather pay a predictable, manageable payroll tax to finance health care than pay impossibly high and unpredictable premiums."

"New Poll Suggests Trump Would Beat Biden in Key Battleground States in 2020: A new poll conducted by WPA Intelligence — which describes itself as a 'leading provider of political intelligence for campaigns from President to Governor and U.S. Senate to Mayor and City Council in all 50 states' — suggests that in a prospective head-to-head matchup between Biden and President Trump, Trump slightly edges out Biden in four of six battleground states by an overall margin of 46-44. This includes the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which secured the Electoral College for Trump in 2016. Florida, Iowa, and Texas were also included in WPA's poll."

Malaika Jabali in Current Affairs, "The Color Of Economic Anxiety: Is the collapse of Democratic fortunes due to economic anxiety? Of course. Just ask black Milwaukeeans: Is the collapse of Democratic fortunes due to economic anxiety? Of course. Just ask black Milwaukeeans. [...] A common narrative about the November 2016 election is that a wave of white backlash thrust Donald Trump to the White House and that white Obama voters 'flipped' to Trump. This may have been true on a small scale, but Obama-Trump voters did not make a significant difference. White people of all genders and classes voted for Trump at about the same rates as they voted for Romney, McCain, and George W. Bush, and both white and Republican voter turnout stayed fairly steady between 2012 and 2016. More significant was the critical mass of Democrats who defected from the party or didn't vote at all in the battleground states the Democratic Party needed most. The rate of this decline among Democrats in key swing states was larger than the increase of Republicans who brought Trump to victory. And in some states, the drop was unprecedented. While the Democratic Party argues about whether and how to win back the vanishingly small number of white Obama-Trump voters, the uncomfortable fact remains that black voter turnout in 2016 was down in over half the country. In Wisconsin, the decline in black voter turnout between 2012 and 2016 was 86,830 votes. Hillary Clinton lost the state by a mere 22,748 votes. If Clinton won over more of the black Democrats who voted in 2012 in just three states— Wisconsin, Florida, and Michigan — she would have won the election. So why didn't black voters turn out for Clinton? Even accounting for the thousands of potential voters who were likely harmed by Wisconsin's incessant suppression tactics, studies show that voter suppression was among the least important factors affecting black turnout in Wisconsin."

So, it wasn't white voters who made the difference: "As you can see from the right-hand column, Trump did better than Romney among every racial or ethnic group. In fact, if you subtract off how he did among all voters (2 points better than Romney), his performance among whites relative to his overall performance was 1 point worse than Romney's. [...] There are two factual statements you can make about this picture. One is that Trump lost the 'working class' (under $50,000) vote. You will hear a lot of people make that statement. The other is that he did much, much better among the working class than Romney: about 11 points better (the <$30K and $30-50K groups are roughly equal in size). The Democrat always does better among poor people, in part because Democratic policies are always better for poor people, at least as a first-order matter. [...] But in 2016, relative to 2012, the Republican did much better among the poor and much worse among the rich.** His gains among the poor outweighed his losses among the rich by just enough to swing the election."

"Teacher with cancer paying for substitute sparks outcry: A San Francisco teacher on extended sick leave due to breast cancer has had to pay for her own substitute, sparking a nationwide outcry over the policy. The average cost for a substitute in the city is $200 (£150) per day, which gets deducted from the sick teacher's salary, thanks to a 1976 state law. Parents have responded by raising over $13,000 to help the teacher pay her medical bills, local media report. Lawmakers and the city teacher's union are now considering changing the rule." So, wait, Democrats did this?

What makes this interesting is that it's Matthew Yglesias. "Joe Biden is the Hillary Clinton of 2020 [...] What brought Clinton down was public exposure not to her personality — which was sparkling enough to make her the most admired woman in America for 17 years straight before losing the claim to Michelle Obama in 2018 — but extended public scrutiny of every detail of a decades-long career in public life. This, in turn, is the exact same problem Biden will inevitably face as a presidential candidate. Americans like outsiders and fresh faces, not veteran insiders who bear the scars of every political controversy of the past two generations."

Pierce, "The Question Isn't How the Republican Party Produced This Disastrous President*. It's How It Took This Long. Joe Biden kicked up a fuss the other day by saying something...un-smart. (Ex-tree! Ex-tree! Read allaboutit!) He suggested that the current president* is a historical one-off and that, once we are rid of him and have fumigated the White House thoroughly, the normal routine of governing the country will resume and everybody can have drinks with each other at the end of the day. If there is one issue that desperately needs litigating in the Democratic Party's primary process it is this: Resolved: this presidency* is the logical outcome of 40 years of modern conservatism and its effect on the Republican Party. If it wasn't this guy, it would've been somebody else." But that's letting Democrats off the hook for spending those decades refusing to oppose their increasingly crazy antics and even goading them to further heights.

Alex Pareen in The New Republic, "Democrats Have Created an 'Electability' Monster: And this time, it's even eating establishment candidates. [...] 'Electability' is a crock of shit. It is defined, like political 'moderation,' only in terms of opposition to things people want, but are told they can't have, ranging from antiwar politics to left-wing economic populism to even the 'cultural liberalism' that is seemingly the cornerstone of the modern Democratic Party. (Back in 2004, supporting civil unions, not even marriage, for same-sex couples was a threat to a Democrat's perceived 'electability.') While the impulse to vote according to how you think a candidate would appeal to people who don't share your priorities might make sense in theory, practice has revealed time and time again that no one involved in electoral politics — from the pundits down to the caucus-goers — has a clue who or what Americans will actually vote for. That was supposed to be, as the political scientist Masket says, the main lesson of Trump's election. But Democratic voters did not teach themselves to prioritize electability over their own actual concerns. They were trained to, over many years, by party figures who over-interpreted the loss of George McGovern, or who wanted to use the fear of McGovern to maintain their power over the Democratic candidate pipeline and nomination process. 'Electability' is a way to get voters to carry out a contrary agenda — not their own — while convincing them they're being 'responsible.' And now Democratic candidates and their most loyal voters are stuck in an absurd feedback loop. The politicians campaign and govern as if they themselves don't believe a majority of voters prefer their agenda, signaling to their most loyal voters that they must vote not for what they want, but for what they imagine their more-conservative neighbors might want. But when voters in 2016 did exactly that, and nominated the candidate they were repeatedly told was most qualified to defeat Trump in the general election, they chose a person who went on to lose to him."

"Bernie Sanders Used His Campaign Data To Drive Turnout On Strike Picket Lines: Typically, unions rally for a candidate. But using targeted texts and emails, the Sanders camp rallied for unions. Thousands of workers from the University of California waged a one-day strike Thursday and found some unexpected allies out on their picket lines. In an unusual move for a presidential candidate, the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent out targeted text messages and emails to its supporters in California a day ahead of the strike, urging them to join workers as they rallied against the university system in a labor dispute. Or as Alice Marshall put it, "Bernie is organizing a political revolution under color of a presidential campaign."

"AOC, Sanders, and Warren Are the Real Centrists Because They Speak for Most Americans" - When majorities in both parties support your positions, it's not you who is the extremist, it's your opponents.

Branko Marcetic with another review of A Crisis Wasted, "How Obama Failed [...] It's ironic that Obama's defenders point to Republican obstructionism to explain away his administration's inadequacies, when Hundt makes clear that the primary source of obstructionism was coming from inside the house. Obama's outsourcing of his administration's transition process to Clintonites, combined with his lack of commitment to a progressive political vision, hemmed him in and undermined the economic recovery, particularly since his advisors underestimated the scale of the crisis. David Axelrod candidly admits being shocked to hear a second Great Depression was a possibility, believing the first had been simply 'something that is part of history' and not 'something that could reoccur.' Hundt doesn't let Obama off the hook for his response to Republican obstructionism either. He acknowledges the president had limited options due to an obstinate GOP and a host of conservative Democrats. But he faults the cool, calm, collected Obama for not using the bully pulpit more aggressively to sell the public and Congress on his agenda. He chides him for failing to tie the stimulus to any grander overarching program or vision, like fighting climate change or rebuilding infrastructure. When 'Blue Dog' Democrat Evan Bayh torpedoed Dick Durbin's cramdown legislation, he faced no opposition. 'Obama did not intervene,' notes Hundt. What we might consider Obama's most admirable personal qualities — his preternatural calm, his even temper — ended up being his greatest weaknesses in the field of politics. [...] The Obama administration that came into power in 2009 was ill-equipped, temperamentally and ideologically, to carry out a break with the disastrous road of the previous decades. And while a few, including Summers, have reconsidered some of their original assumptions, there's little sign that Obama or most of the Clintonites who staffed his presidency have done the same. Indeed, while Obama is reported to have privately lashed out at Hillary Clinton's hapless campaign after her 2016 loss, he refused to acknowledge his own role in what happened, believing that he had left office with a 'strong record and healthy economy' and there was 'no way Americans would turn on him.'"

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "We've Hit a New Low in Campaign Hit Pieces: Recent efforts to sandbag Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard are crude repeats of behaviors that helped elect Trump in 2016. Last week, the Daily Beast ran this headline: 'Tulsi Gabbard's Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists' That was followed by the sub headline: 'The Hawaii congresswoman is quickly becoming the top candidate for Democrats who think the Russian leader is misunderstood.' The Gabbard campaign has received 75,000 individual donations. This crazy Beast article is based on (maybe) three of them. The three names are professor Stephen Cohen, activist Sharon Tennison and someone using the name 'Goofy Grapes,' who may or may not have once worked for comedian Lee Camp, currently employed by Russia Today. This vicious little article might have died a quiet death, except ABC's George Stephanopoulos regurgitated it in an interview with Gabbard days later. The This Week host put up the Beast headline in a question about whether or not Gabbard was 'softer' on Putin than other candidates. Gabbard responded: 'It's unfortunate that you're citing that article, George, because it's a whole lot of fake news.' This in turn spurred another round of denunciations, this time in the form of articles finding fault not with the McCarthyite questioning, but with Gabbard's answer. As Politico wrote: ''Fake news' is a favorite phrase of President Donald Trump...' Soon CNN was writing a similar piece, saying Gabbard was using a term Trump used to 'attack the credibility of negative coverage.' CNN even said Gabbard 'did not specify what in the article was 'fake,'' as if the deceptive and insidious nature of this kind of guilt-by-association report needs explaining. [...] She's Exhibit A of a disturbing new media phenomenon that paints people with the wrong opinions as not merely 'controversial,' but vehicles of foreign influence." I don't think it's that new, though.

The Onion, "Jay Inslee Recalls Decision To Run For President After 5 Teens From Across Globe Pressed Enchanted Rings Together To Call Him Into Existence: OLYMPIA, WA — Explaining to reporters how he had arrived at the difficult decision, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee recalled Thursday choosing to enter the race after five teenagers from countries across the globe pressed their enchanted rings together to call him into existence. 'The leadership in Washington has failed the American people, and that's been clear to me from the moment I was summoned into being by a multinational group of youngsters holding aloft magical jewelry given to them by the spirit of Mother Earth,' said the 68-year-old governor, adding that he had expressed some initial skepticism about jumping into an already crowded primary field when colorful beams of energy representing the four elements and love had combined to bring him to life, but had made the leap after realizing none of his fellow Democrats were giving an appropriately full-throated defense of green policies. 'Democratic voters have consistently indicated that fighting climate change is a top priority, and this issue hit especially close to home for someone like me who is the manifestation of five children's godlike environmental powers. Please join me in helping to take pollution down to zero.' Inslee then reportedly transformed into a tornado and was racing towards D.C. to advocate for the robust public investments required to achieve zero-emission energy in electricity generation by 2035."
Jay Inslee himself tweeted the story, saying: "This was supposed to be off the record."

"BBC Producer Says Syria Douma Chemical Attack Footage 'Was Staged': Well-known BBC Syria producer Riam Dalati shocked his nearly 20,000 twitter followers by stating that after a 'six-month investigation' he has concluded, 'I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged.'"

"Border Patrol In New Mexico Stood By As Right-Wing Militia Terrorized Migrants: Videos and audio posted by the group and its supporters on social media raise questions about the agency's role. National and international media crackled this month with reports that the United Constitutional Patriots, an armed, right-wing paramilitary group, was detaining migrants as they crossed from Mexico to the U.S. in southern New Mexico. In an April 18 news release, that state's ACLU affiliate called the group an 'armed fascist military organization' and characterized its detention of migrants as kidnapping. It also publicized a damning video of the paramilitaries in action in the desert, rounding up scores of migrants, including children, and shining bright lights in their faces. Two days later, the FBI arrested United Constitutional Patriots' (UCP) leader, Larry Hopkins aka Johnny Horton Jr., on a firearms charge. The FBI has since said that the United Constitutional Patriots had once, according to Hopkins, planned to kill former President Barack Obama, George Soros, and Hillary Clinton."

Paul Blest at Splinter, "Jonathan Chait's Laughable Attempt to Take Down Bernie Sanders Over Nicaragua: Because vapidity never takes a day off, New York concern troll-at-large Jonathan Chait was at it again on Memorial Day with a piece on why, in a country that has essentially known nothing but perpetual war since World War II, Bernie Sanders' pro-Sandinista stance in the 1980s is problematic. Chait has three major qualms with Sanders in this arena based on Sanders' recent interview with the New York Times, the primary one being that Sanders wasn't sufficiently mealy-mouthed about the Nicaraguan Civil War and the American government's attempts to overthrow Nicaragua's socialist government and replace it with a right-wing militia."

"Joe Biden's long record supporting the war on drugs and mass incarceration, explained: Biden was a major Democratic leader in spearheading America's war on drugs during the 1980s and '90s. [...] Consider one moment in his career: In 1989, at the height of punitive anti-drug and mass incarceration politics, Biden, then a senator, went on national television to criticize a plan from President George H.W. Bush to escalate the war on drugs. The plan, Biden said, didn't go far enough."

"The bizarre tale of President Nixon and his basic income bill: In 1969 President Richard Nixon was on the verge of implementing a basic income for poor families in America. It promised to be a revolutionary step — had the President not changed his mind at the last minute. This is the incredible and largely forgotten tale of just how close the U.S. came to stamping out poverty altogether."

From Time, a little bit of history: "The Surprising Role of Clergy in the Abortion Fight Before Roe v. Wade [...] But Landreth and Sandon were not alone. Their experiences reveal how, in the half-decade before Roe v. Wade, respected religious leaders participated in a nationwide struggle to make abortion more accessible. This largely forgotten history undercuts the popular myth that religious people oppose abortion rights. Fifty years ago this month, in May of 1967, as mainline Protestants and Reform Jews called for the liberalization of abortion laws, a group of clergy in New York City founded the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion (CCS), an international network of clergy that helped women obtain legal and illegal abortions from licensed medical professionals. When Landreth spoke out, it was as part of CCS, which by then counted over 2,000 other ministers across the United States and Canada as members."

Women are just like everyone else — sometimes we just might not be telling the truth. "Johnny Depp accuses ex-wife Amber Heard of abuse, chopping his finger: Hollywood actor Johnny Depp had been embroiled in a controversy after his ex-wife Amber Heard accused him of domestic abuse last year, in an op-ed penned in the Washington Post. Things seem to have turned around, however, with Depp suing Amber for $50 million for defamation. Depp's lawsuit referred to Heard's allegations as a 'hoax' and has presented new evidence that it was actually Depp who was physically abused in the marriage, and not the other way around. "Ms. Heard also knew that her elaborate hoax worked: As a result of her false allegations against Mr. Depp, Ms. Heard became a darling of the #MeToo movement, was the first actress named a Human Rights Champion of the United Nations Human Rights Office, was appointed ambassador on women's rights at the American Civil Liberties Union, and was hired by L'Oreal Paris as its global spokesperson," the lawsuit stated. Depp's legal team have provided fresh evidence alleging Heard punched Depp in the face and chopped a part of his finger. The new video and photographic evidence submitted show Depp's face with a huge bruise, and one of his fingers severed. Depp also submitted 87 surveillance camera videos to the court and 17 depositions of witnesses, including police officers."

"Neil Gaiman: 'Good Omens feels more apt now than it did 30 years ago.' Before Terry Pratchett died, Gaiman told his friend he would adapt their novel about an angel and a devil stopping the apocalypse. As Good Omens starts on TV, he discusses fame, politics and honouring that promise."

"AOC, Warren Explain Why Game of Thrones' Finale Disappointed: WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones series finale, 'The Iron Throne'"

The winning sand sculpture at the Texas Sand Sculpture Festival, 2019

18:01 GMT comment


Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Ignorance is kind

This infuriating article from Ryan Grim at The Intercept is a bit long but very much worth reading all of: "The Democratic Counterrevolution Has A Self-Appointed Leader: Josh Gottheimer:

NOT LONG AFTER Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were sworn into Congress, they began hearing from their new colleagues that one member of the House Democratic caucus, Josh Gottheimer, had particularly strong views about each of them. Gottheimer, a second-term representative from New Jersey, has deep ties to the lobbies for Saudi Arabia and Israel, while Tlaib and Omar are often critical of both Mideast governments.

So when Gottheimer reached out to meet with Tlaib, she was eager to take it, hoping that a personal connection would help bridge their differences. On the day of the meeting, February 6, Gottheimer arrived with a colleague, freshman Elaine Luria from Virginia — and a white binder. Luria began by saying that she had met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu six weeks earlier, and Tlaib tried to break the ice with a joke: 'How's the two-state solution going?'

The joke fell flat. Gottheimer pulled out the binder, opening it to show Tlaib the contents. It was a collection of printed-out articles, with quotes and other lines highlighted. 'He goes through them, 'you said this, you said that,' confusing me with other colleagues,' Tlaib said.
[...]

Tlaib said she tried to reach Gottheimer on a personal level, telling him about her grandmother, who lives in occupied Ramallah. He wasn't interested. 'He was using a very stern tone, like a father to a child. At that moment, I realized he's a bully,' said Tlaib. 'He had a goal of breaking me down. I left feeling exactly that way.'

Breaking down Tlaib, Omar, and their allies on the left has been one of Gottheimer's primary goals since the November elections. He has worked assiduously to carve out a role in the Democratic caucus as something of an avenger, a centrist proud of his centrism and willing to take the fight directly to the squad of freshmen trying to push the party in a progressive direction. He even has a name for his handpicked adversaries: 'the herbal tea party.'

His definition of too progressive is startlingly broad. As the Democratic chair of the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus, he led a push against Nancy Pelosi as she ran for House speaker last year. He has consistently voted against the party even on procedural motions, threatening to hand control over the House to the GOP. This spring, he was one of just a handful of Democrats at a private retreat on Sea Island, Georgia, hosted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, mingling with Vice President Mike Pence, Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other Republican heavyweights. He was one of just six Democrats to break with the party on a push for the DREAM Act in 2018, and he publicly undermined the chair of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., during a hearing in which he fawned over CEOs of the nation's biggest banks.

His boldest bid for internal power, however, came amid the push for a congressional War Powers Resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. As progressives in the House neared a historic achievement, Gottheimer organized behind the scenes to take the resolution down, in part by attempting to make it a referendum on support for Israel — and very nearly succeeded.

The bill's supporters out-organized him, and in April, Congress sent a War Powers Resolution to Trump's desk. He vetoed their resolution, rejecting Congress's demand that the president stop backing the Saudi-led war. Last week's effort to override the veto failed in the Senate on a 53-to-45 vote.

Trump's rejection of the resolution — which was led in the House by Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and in the Senate by Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Mike Lee, R-Utah — was expected. But for advocates who worked on it, Gottheimer's intervention was unwelcome but not surprising. 'He was counterproductive in a totally unnecessary way at a time when there was actually party unity on something really progressive and historic — and that unity had been fought for a long time,' said Elizabeth Beavers, who was associate policy director at Indivisible during the Yemen fight. 'This is a thing that he's doing consistently, helping to organize against progress.'

And, by the way, do we remember this guy?
"Gottheimer is a protege of Mark Penn, a notorious Democratic operative who has become a leading Trump cheerleader on Fox News. Penn's companies, where Gottheimer has held senior positions over the years, have long been on Saudi Arabia's payroll.
[...]

Madeline Trimble, a steering committee member for the main Indivisible chapter in Gottheimer's district, said that local activists' hard work to elect a Democrat in the seat wasn't paying off. 'Many of our members actively supported Josh Gottheimer's re-election efforts because we believe in the Democratic Party platform. Some of us are concerned that sometimes it seems like Congressman Gottheimer is working at odds with that platform,' she said. 'We understand this is a purple district and we're not expecting an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in NJ-5; we just want him to meet us halfway and act like a normal Democrat who believes in the party.'

* * * * *

"Bernie Sanders, AOC unveil legislation to cap credit card interest at 15%: Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced new legislation Thursday to cap credit card interest rates at 15%, a move that they said will help protect consumers from the "greed" of the credit card and banking industries. Sanders, who is vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, referred to credit card industry executives as "loan shark hoodlums" in three-piece suits as he outlined the legislation. He also accused the industry of "grotesque and disgusting" behavior. "Let's be clear what we're talking about: We're talking about economic brutality," Sanders said in announcing the plan during a Facebook livestream with Ocasio-Cortez. "We are talking about some of the most powerful people in the world, people who make millions and millions of dollars a year, and banks that make billions of dollars a year in profit. And they see a real profit center in going after desperate people...who cannot afford the basic necessities of life.""

"States Sue Generic Drug Makers Over Alleged Price-Fixing Schemes: The states claim the companies artificially inflated and manipulated prices for more than 100 different generic drugs. BOSTON (AP) — Attorneys general from more than 40 states are alleging the nation's largest generic drug manufacturers conspired to artificially inflate and manipulate prices for more than 100 different generic drugs, including treatments for diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other medical conditions. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Connecticut on Friday, also names 15 individual senior executives responsible for sales, marketing and pricing. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said investigators obtained evidence implicating 20 firms. 'We have hard evidence that shows the generic drug industry perpetrated a multibillion dollar fraud on the American people,' Tong said. 'We have emails, text messages, telephone records and former company insiders that we believe will prove a multi-year conspiracy to fix prices and divide market share for huge numbers of generic drugs.'"

"Ohio Legislature Considering An Abortion Bill That Is More Restrictive Than The 'Heartbeat Bill' : A new bill would ban most private insurance coverage for abortions. But opponents say it would also ban effective methods of birth control. [...] The bill would ban nontherapeutic abortions that include 'drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum.' And Becker says the bill also speaks to coverage of ectopic or tubal pregnancies where the fertilized egg attaches outside of the womb. 'Part of that treatment would be removing that embryo from the fallopian tube and reinserting it in the uterus so that is defined as not an abortion under this bill,' Becker explains. 'That doesn't exist in the realm of treatment for ectopic pregnancy. You can't just re-implant. It's not a medical thing,' says Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio. She says, under this bill, women would have to wait until their very lives were in danger to get an abortion in the case of an ectopic pregnancy."

Denver shrooms! "Denver first in U.S. to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms: Psilocybin possession would remain illegal but would become police's 'lowest law-enforcement priority': Denver is poised to become the first city in the nation to effectively decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms. After closing an early vote deficit Tuesday night and early Wednesday, final unofficial results posted late in the afternoon showed a reversal of fortune — with Initiative 301 set to pass narrowly with 50.6 percent of the vote. The total stands at 89,320 votes in favor and 87,341 against, a margin of 1,979."

"Study: U.S. Fossil Fuel Subsidies Exceed Pentagon Spending: The world would be richer and healthier if the full costs of fossil fuels were paid, according to a new report from