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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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Monday, 18 July 2016

Fear's the way we die

Recent events have really gotten away from me and I can't bring myself to write about the shootings and the truck bomb and all the killing or Turkey right now. So for the moment, I will just post these:
* "Police Shouldn't Ask If a Shooting Is Justified, But If It's Avoidable."
* "How the Police See Us, and How They Train Us to See Them"
* "Police Shootings Won't Stop Unless We Also Stop Shaking Down Black People: The dangers of turning police officers into revenue generators."

"Bernie Sanders offers long-awaited endorsement: Hillary Clinton is 'far and away the best candidate'" - Technically, he has not dropped out of the race and is still running for president, but it looks like he finally managed to win a few concessions from Clinton to get this endorsement out of him.

Mother Jones, "Here Is the Democratic Party's Draft Platform: It has plenty to please liberals - but will it be enough to win over Bernie Sanders?"

The Labour Party's neoliberals tried to come up with a procedural way to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. It didn't work. "For at least 20 years, the leaders of the Labor Party, the ones before Jeremy Corbyn, were involved in eliminating--purging, you might say--all of the progressive MPs to have a parliamentary Labor Party which was overwhelmingly centrist and right wing neoliberal. Tony Blair was very effective in doing that, and his successors did not change that. [...] So he came to control a party whose members supported him strongly and supported his social democracy. But his members of Parliament were neoliberals. All right. The members of Parliament have, the overwhelming majority of them, have been plotting to get rid of him since the day he was elected, which was the middle of September last year. All right. They have seized this moment to do it. The problem can be stated simply. If they run against a Social Democrat, Jeremy Corbyn or someone else from the left of the party, they will lose. Their only hope of regaining their control, their neoliberal control of the party, was to keep Corbyn off the ballot. And I can only assume that the woman who announced that she was going to challenge Corbyn thought that today the executive committee of the Labour Party would vote to keep Corbyn off the ballot. The vote, in fact, was very close, 18 to 14."
* The new leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore Prime Minister, is the extremely right-wing Theresa May, who unfortunately is not Teresa May. As Home Secretary she instituted policies with complete disregard to the actual law, even over the objections of the House of Lords. Her immigration policies were a scandal and her attitude toward internet privacy is a horror show. And she appointed Boris Johnson to be Foreign Secretary, which shows she's mad as a hatter.
* Jonathan Pie on assignment, who has some questions for Theresa May.

Jeremy Corbyn's speech to Parliament in response to the Chilcot Report. It said what we all knew at the time.
* "Damning Chilcot Report Confirms Iraq Invasion Was Bush/Blair's War of Choice"
* "Happy Chilcot Day (A Fairy Story): Fantasy author Charlie "Oversight/Paradox" Fletcher says, "I wrote this as a Christmas story for my friends and family in 2010, seven years after the Iraq War began, eighteen months after the Chilcot Inquiry into it was announced."

Former Labour MP Bryan Gould, who once might have been a potential challenger to Tony Blair but suddenly ran off to Australia, asks: "How Did It Come to This?" And it all sounds so familiar.

"Theresa May's husband steals the show in sexy navy suit as he starts new life as First Man."

California Final result: statewide turnout 47.5% 8,504,538 ballots cast. Clinton 53.2%, Sanders 45.9%

911 Report section on Saudi Arabia (.pdf) - Those previously unseen 28 pages give every reason to be suspicious of our "friends"..

"TSA Agents Beat Deaf, Partially Blind Teen, Returning From Brain Surgery."

"Two People Connected To Flint Water Investigation Found Dead." Yes, again.

"Sanders booed by House Democrats: Lawmakers press Sanders during a tense question-and-answer session on whether he would ultimately endorse Clinton and help foster party unity." This has been annoying from the beginning - Sanders has always said he would endorse the Democratic nominee, but the Clinton side kept ginning up fantasies about his plans not to do so, or to act as a splitter, or some other nefarious plot to blow up the whole party. The craziness has been evident on Facebook and Twitter ever since the California primary, but of course everyone insists that's "not the campaign", just random social media users. However, now we see the rot at the top, too. The only question I have is whether they are really this stupid and actually think such behavior fosters party unity, or if it's all part of the usual DLC program of trying to push liberal progressives out of the Democratic Party.

"It's Harder for Some Republicans to Hop On The Hillary Bandwagon Than It Is For Others."

"Debbie Wasserman Schultz Still Helping Her Republican Cronies Against Democratic Candidates In South Florida ."

"Picking Up James Comey's Pieces - What He Did, What He Should Have Done & Why."

"Top Banking Committee Democrat Reprimands Loretta Lynch For Going Easy On Wall Street: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) sent a sharply worded letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Friday, calling on the government's top lawyer to rescind a drug money laundering settlement with HSBC and bring criminal charges against the British financial titan's employees. Under the standards of Beltway etiquette, it's a provocative move for a Democratic congresswoman in a leadership position Waters is the ranking member of the powerful House Financial Services Committee ? to publicly challenge a sitting Democratic cabinet member. But Waters' letter is particularly biting for another reason: Lynch was personally in charge of the HSBC investigation that infuriated financial reform advocates in December 2012, while she was U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York." The whole HSBC settlement is a scandal of enormous proportions, especially the fact that no one went to jail.

"The ghosts in Minneapolis' 'progressive' machine [...] There is a warning tucked neatly in a 2006 report from the Federal Bureau of investigations about 'ghost skins,' a network of whites with extremist positions who don alternate personas so that they can infiltrate law enforcement, state government, and the military to further the cause of white power. In Minneapolis it would be hard to believe such a problem could exist. It's liberal here. Very liberal. It would be harder to push a camel through the eye of a needle than to elect a Republican in Minneapolis. Yet, the police department is mostly made up of suburban and exurban officers who come from parts of Minnesota that aren't liberal."

Clinton's briefing paper on "Universal, Quality, Affordable Health Care for Everyone in America".

Bill Black and Stephanie Kelton on a New Deal-style jobs program - versus the "private-public partnership" that makes it all too expensive and inefficient, combined with austerity to hurt the economy more.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on why we need to stop the TPP

Greg Sargent, "Democrats are booing Bernie Sanders. But his movement is succeeding.

Is "Lesser Of Two Evils" Going To Be Good Enough In November? What Does The Democratic Party Claim To Be Offering?

Yves, "Elizabeth Warren Opens Broad Attack Against Rent-Seeking Oligopolists Like Amazon, Apple, Google, Walmart, Comcast: While the media has been obsessed with Elizabeth Warren acting as the new heavy in the Clinton campaign against Donald Trump, it has curiously neglected a front she and other progressives are opening against powerful companies that are strong backers of the Clinton presidential bid. She has called out some of the most powerful companies in America as having too much economic power and has called for them to reined in." If Elizabeth Warren is going to be the trustbuster barnstormer, I'm good with that. And so is:
* Pierce, "Another Plea for Elizabeth Warren to Keep Her Day Job: She's too valuable for a gig like VP right now."

Jonathan Pie's news report from London, "What's that coming over the hill? The Tories"

Robert Parry, "How Hillary Clinton Ignores Peace: Despite neocon-instigated chaos and bloodshed across the Mideast (and now into Europe), Hillary Clinton continues to advocate more 'regime change' wars with almost no fear from a marginalized anti-war movement."

"This is how the CIA's first captive after 9/11 described his years of torture."

"Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists."

RJ Eskow, "Would You Trust Henry Kissinger With Your Social Security? [...] When a group uses prominent people to promote its arguments, it's prudent to ask: Who are these people? Can we trust them? Are they wise and just?"

Bill Black, "The Terrible Cost to Democrats and Our Nation of Ignoring Tom Frank's Warnings" - Black takes down the NYT's emerging neoliberal apologist Nick Cohn, who would rather hint that the working class is motivated entirely by racism and nationalism than acknowledge that the working class hates them because of the war they have waged - and mostly won - against the non-rich.
* "Defying the Investors: Thomas Ferguson on how voter alienation from corporate candidates produced this year's dizzying election results. [...] But I have looked through some of the Sanders campaign filings. My tentative judgment is that unlike 2008 and 2012, when the Obama campaign clearly encouraged donors to break up their contributions into smaller amounts to create the appearance of a mass movement, the Sanders campaign pretty much is what it appears to be: a movement swept along by a vast array of small donors. No wonder Democratic elites were so nervously petulant at Sanders for staying in the race and continuing to propagate his views."

"The Psychology of Why Hillary Clinton Supporters are Still So Angry at Bernie Sanders" - It has been puzzling to see the bizarre hatred of Sanders that has sprung up from people who support Clinton. This has ranged from people I used to like making bizarre assertions about why he hasn't dropped out and endorsed Clinton yet to some fairly vicious and no longer-veiled claims that Sanders is only interested in "a white, male electorate". Many Clintonites have behaved this way from the moment he entered the race, screaming vitriol about how he is a liar who is misleading his supporters, making up stories about how he has "never had a real job in his life" (which is a funny thing to say about one of the few people in Congress to have ever had a job working with his hands - and may have been helped along by this "meme"), and so on. They also seem to subscribe to the fantasy that all legislative work is done by being a sponsor or author of a bill that passed - as if none of his many other accomplishments exist because it wasn't his name on the bill. But many others seem to have developed a kind of Tourettes where they simply can't stop posting on social media about how much they hate him for not dropping out of the race and endorsing Clinton - apparently, they don't realize he really is about his issues. They also don't seem to know that endorsing her now would be counterproductive, but nevermind. The main thing is that they can't seem to stop themselves. Shane Ryan thinks it's about identity politics - and no doubt some of it is - but I think a lot of this goes back to 2008. I'm not saying Team Clinton didn't play a bit dirty back then, but no one who wasn't the most severe Obama fanatic could have missed just how much nastier the Obama campaign played it, and I think, having defended her then, they have bonded to Clinton in a way they might otherwise not have, and to them, a Clinton win is the only justice, giving her the victory she deserved against Obama.

Matt Taibbi, "In Response to Trump, Another Dangerous Movement Appears: Fears of demagoguery are provoking a frightening swing in the other direction [...] Donald Trump is dangerous because as president, he'd likely have little respect for law. But a gang of people whose metaphor for society is 'We are the white cells, voters are the disease' is comparably scary in its own banal, less click-generating way. These self-congratulating cognoscenti could have looked at the events of the last year and wondered why people were so angry with them, and what they could do to make government work better for the population. Instead, their first instinct is to dismiss voter concerns as baseless, neurotic bigotry and to assume that the solution is to give Washington bureaucrats even more leeway to blow off the public. In the absurdist comedy that is American political life, this is the ultimate anti-solution to the unrest of the last year, the mathematically perfect wrong ending"

William Greider in The Nation, "Should the Democratic Party Be Added to the Endangered-Species List: The Bernie-Hillary face-off has exposed how far the party has drifted from its working-class base -and how angry that base still is at the betrayal."

Andy Stern, former head of the Service Employees International Union, is also talking about the need for a Universal Basic Income, but again the figure is much too low, a mere $1,000 a month. Why do these people think anyone can live on that?

Commenter CMike has caused me to do something I never thought I'd do - recommend, without irony or derision, a column by Ross Douthat, on "The Myth of Cosmopolitanism".

Watch out for deceptive fundraising letters in your mailbox - yes, even the hard-mail kind.

The Comprehensive Activist Guide to Dismantling Neoliberalism

A short timeline of socialism and the fight for racial equality

RIP:
* "The First Screen Lois Lane, Noel Neill Dies, Aged 95
* "Elie Wiesel, Nobel winner and Holocaust survivor, dies aged 87."
* Corey Robin isn't all that comfortable treating Wiesel with unalloyed praise, and gives one reason here.

"Universal basic income to be trialled in Oakland, Y Combinator announces: Around 100 families will be given between $1,000 and $2,000 each month to test how a basic income will affect their lives." This isn't going to tell us much - I mean, 100 families? Really? That won't have any impact on the economy or the society, which means it will tell us very little.

The Fascinating History of Flour Sack Dresses

How a Portuguese-to-English Phrasebook Became a Cult Comedy Sensation

Jeff Tiedrich won Twitter on the 4th of July.

"Smokey Robinson to Receive Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize" - wonderful, and do click on those links to enjoy some great music.

Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and John Sebastian, "Get Together", live, 1969

02:09 GMT comment


Saturday, 02 July 2016

Darling, you got to let me know

Startlingly, our members of Congress pretended to be hippies protesting right on the floor on behalf of a worrying version of anti-gun legislation. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor calls it "The Cynical Sit-In," saying, "The congressional sit-in was not just cynical political theater - it was for a deeply reactionary cause."

The idea that we can say it is a "right" to make, sell, buy, and own a particular sort of gun, but then say that we can deprive some people of that "right" if they happen to have landed on the terror watch-list or no-fly list (largely due to being brownish or Muslim, although you may recall that pacifist nuns have also found themselves on the latter list), which is something you don't even know in advance and have no means to challenge, sounds pretty creepy to anyone who thinks about civil liberties. You may also recall that US Senator Ted Kennedy spent months getting his name off the no-fly list, and the actor David Nelson (son of Ozzie and Harriet) found he was forbidden to fly. And so, for that matter, did one man who should know better: Congressman John Lewis.* Yet there are Lewis and all the other "liberal" Democrats claiming to "occupy" the House, presumably to dramatize Republican intransigence on gun control, which forces many of us to wonder why such a potentially useful tactic waited until now - for this issue, and after the votes have been taken and it's too late.

The failure of Republicans to act on gun control legislation is a curious breaking point for the Democratic Party. House Democrats have endured the political recalcitrance of the Republican Party without protest on any number of issues that affect millions of Americans.

Where have the sit-ins been to protest the continued cuts to social welfare? Where have the congressional protests been to demand affordable housing or a public option for healthcare? Where have the sit-ins been to demand an end to police brutality and mass incarceration?

Indeed, there are other things going on right now that a stunt like this draws attention away from, such as Paul Ryan's latest proposal to "replace" Obamacare with measures that raise the age of Medicare eligibility to 67. But then, Democrats didn't seem to be that interested in fighting back when the age of retirement went up, and they still aren't saying anything about it.

None of which should surprise anyone at this late date, since it has long been obvious that the Democratic leadership hates liberalism:

Democrats did not merely stand by and watch as Republicans destroyed welfare, deregulated Wall Street, and passed disastrous trade deals: They have been at the front fighting, with impressive gusto, for the interests of corporate America and against the interests of those they claim to support.

President Obama has carried the baton with his endorsement of and aggressive lobbying for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement that, if passed, would grant corporations unprecedented power and influence.

Though her rhetoric has shifted drastically in the face of pressure from her left, Hillary Clinton represents more of the same - another self-styled progressive whose campaign is heavily bankrolled by some of America's largest financial institutions and whose agenda focuses almost entirely on tempering the expectations and ambitions of Democratic voters rather than pushing them upward.

Ah, but with the Clinton nomination in the bag, the Democrat Party wants to make sure its message is not lost on you. For example, here's the DNC Platform Committee voting down a living wage. Given that the platform isn't exactly binding, it's rather amazing that they wouldn't even give lip service to it. Oh, and they also voted down opposition to the TPP. The excuse for this is that they can't be seen to be opposing the policy of the Democratic president - but why is the Democratic president so busy opposing Democratic voters (and most everyone else) in an election year? That's inexcusable.

Bill McKibben says, "The Clinton Campaign Is Obstructing Change to the Democratic Platform." Cornel West says he can't support it.

Isn't it great to know they are on "our" side?

* * * * *

Over to Ian Welsh on Brexit. Cameron resigned after losing this one, which means more than a lot of people realize. Meanwhile, many European leaders reacted with statements to the effect that the EU needs to stop with the austerity and start taking care of their people again - there are some interesting quotes in this article (starting about halfway down the page). All over, people just plain hate the status quo.
* "People are really, really hoping this theory about David Cameron and Brexit is true [...] Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron. With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership."
* Glenn Greenwald, "Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions."
* Marcy Wheeler on NATO and Brexit
* Patrick Healy in The New York Times: "'Brexit' Revolt Casts a Shadow Over Hillary Clinton's Cautious Path [...] 'Brexit is clearly a cautionary tale for the Clinton campaign not to get too complacent with a potential victory,' said David B. Cohen, a professor of political science at the University of Akron. 'Trump, Sanders and those in Great Britain who ran the Leave campaign are tapping into an anger and anxiety that is clearly festering. Working-class folks in the United States are similar to working-class folks in Europe. And a lot of those working-class people feel as if the international economic system is not working for them and strangling the middle class.'" Clinton's people dismiss these concerns, with one saying, "Hillary Clinton understands we always need to change - but change that doesn't cause unintended consequences for the average American." Leaving aside the question of whether putting half the country into a depression was an intended consequence, Cory Robin has a few thoughts on Unintended Consequences, and his commenters discuss what "average American" must mean when she says it.
* Yves Smith, "Brexit: Fear, Loathing, and Anger on Both Sides of the Channel"
* Dean Baker, "On Brexit, Experts Leave Much to Be Desired."
* Bill Black on BREXIT: Populism and Democracy: Part 1, BREXIT Part 2: Roger Cohen
* Matt Taibbi, "The Reaction to Brexit Is the Reason Brexit Happened: If you believe there's such a thing as 'too much democracy,' you probably don't believe in democracy at all."
* Cory Doctorow, "Bernie Sanders on Brexit: urgent lessons for the Democrats"

Trust neoliberals to react to the opposition party's failures by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and trying to destroy their own party instead of capitalizing on the moment (which the Torygraph can tell you about its own self). Not content to watch the Tories blow up, the New Labour right decided to try to follow suit, and seems to have failed:
* The New Tory wing of the Labour Party tried to blame it all on Corbyn, but the unions are backing Jeremy, who sacked Hillary Benn in the wake of his blatant coup attempt.
* Richard Seymour at Vice says Corbyn has called the rebels' bluff: "Labour's No Confidence Vote is a Perfect Example of How Not to Do A Coup [...] Nevertheless, in so many of the resignation letters, there was also a carefully pitched plea for Corbyn to 'do the decent thing' and go. His refusal to comply, to the amusing exasperation of journalists and politicos alike, seems to have called their bluff. They seem to have no plan for the next steps. While those resigning claimed that Corbyn had 'lost the confidence of the party,' they seem determined not to test that in a leadership contest.
* "Is it true that a PR firm full of Blairites is orchestrating the Labour coup?" The author states up front that it's not true, but, curiously, provides no evidence that it couldn't be.

"House of Commons cafeteria runs out of knives: The House of Commons cafeteria has asked MPs if they'd mind returning the knives they currently have sticking out of their backs, as they've run out."

"Clinton's pledge to forgive student debt of entrepreneurs, not average workers, will benefit the elite: Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has pledged to help forgive the student loans of entrepreneurs and small business owners, yet has not made similar promises to help forgive the student debt of average workers. Clinton released her Initiative on Technology & Innovation on Tuesday. It reflects her neoliberal, technocratic vision of the economy."

A bit of a surprise when #BLM's Alicia Garza says she voted for Bernie. But she doesn't say she's sorry she undermined him to Clinton's benefit, despite her position on Clinton.

The death of Antonin Scalia has had fairly dramatic effects on the Supreme Court, as Ian Millhiser discussed with Sam Seder.
* Adam Liptak in the NYT, "Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions [...] The 5-to-3 decision was the court's most sweeping statement on abortion since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, which reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade. It found that Texas' restrictions - requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers - violated Casey's prohibition on placing an 'undue burden' on the ability to obtain an abortion. If Casey limited the right established in Roe, allowing states to regulate abortion in ways Roe had barred, Monday's decision effectively expanded that right. It means that similar requirements in other states are most likely also unconstitutional, and it imperils many other kinds of restrictions on abortion."
* "Supreme Court Rules Domestic Abusers Can Lose Their Gun-Ownership Rights: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in a 6-2 vote that domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanors can be barred from owning firearms. The majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, concludes that misdemeanor assault convictions for domestic violence are sufficient to invoke a federal ban on firearms possession. [...] Five justices concurred in Kagan's opinion, while Justice Clarence Thomas dissented and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in part."
* On the other hand, "Sonia Sotomayor Blasts SCOTUS for Excusing 'Lawless Police Conduct' in 4th Amendment Case: In a 5-3 decision issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an illegal police stop and resulting drug arrest did not ultimately violate the Fourth Amendment because the officer later discovered an outstanding traffic warrant for the individual that he had illegally stopped." The "liberal" Stephen Breyer joined with Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Kennedy to agree that it is fine for police to illegally stop you and rummage around looking for an excuse to arrest you.

With ongoing ballot counts and recounts in California, Sanders' is closing in on Clinton in every county, and although a winning leap seems unlikely, the gap has narrowed in the state . And there are still the LA ballots remaining to count. (But don't hold your breath - what activists are doing out in the states is more important than this part of the process, now.) The latest story I've seen on the count is from Wednesday's Los Angeles Times.
* Testimonials from Poll Workers and Voters in LA County about the CA Primary on June 7, 2016. This isn't about intraparty politics, it's about a lack of funding for elections and a dearth of competent poll-workers. Still, it should be incomprehensible that an organ that calls itself "the Democratic Party" hasn't tried to do anything to alleviate any of the problems with election incompetence or fraud. (And, depressingly, some Clintonites have now been dismissing complaints about these things as "conspiracy theories". We are now being told that the only thing that went wrong in Florida in 2000 was Ralph Nader.)
* And on that subject, Matt Taibbi on "The Return of Lesser Evilism" With Trump on the other side, Democrats can be lazier than ever this election. [..] The problem with this line of thinking is that there's no end to it. If you think I owe you my vote because I recycle and enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird, you're not going to work very hard to keep it. That's particularly true if the only standard you think you need to worry about is not being worse than Donald Trump, which is almost the same as no standard at all. This is why the thinking within the Democratic Party has gotten so flabby over the years. It increasingly seems to rejoice in its voters' lack of real choices, and relies on a political formula that requires little input from anyone outside the Beltway."

"TransCanada formally seeks NAFTA damages in Keystone XL rejection: TransCanada Corp is formally requesting arbitration over U.S. President Barack Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, seeking $15 billion in damages, the company said in legal papers dated Friday."

"Bernie Sanders live address to supporters - What's next for the movement? (Full video and transcript)" Clintonistas heard only one thing from this: the absence of a concession and endorsement of their candidate.

Sneaky: You do a survey of voters and ask them to choose their preferred Democratic candidate, and even though many of them are Republicans whose vote in November will still to go the Republican or Libertarian, you treat all of those who chose Sanders as "Sanders supporters". When "Sanders supporters" seem to lean a bit to the right of Clinton supporters, you say Sanders supporters are less liberal - and the Clintonites catapult the propaganda. But when you take out the Republicans, you see something else entirely: "Interestingly, when we remove these GOP respondents from the pool, the sharpest differences between Sanders and Clinton supporters occur not on economic policy but on questions involving gender and race. And for all the online chatter about sexist 'Bernie Bros,' the ANES data offer little evidence that Sanders voters embrace him out of a desire to buttress their male identity. Sanders backers, for instance, were more likely to strongly endorse requiring employers to pay men and women equally for the same work. They were also much more assertive in their support for mandatory paid parental leave [...] Nor do the ANES data furnish much evidence that Sanders voters have been motivated by white racial resentment. Among Democrats and non-Republican-leaning independents, in fact, white Clinton supporters were more inclined than white Sanders supporters to say that blacks are 'lazy' or 'violent,' and that black people should work their way up 'without special favors.'"

"Now, Why Would Foreigners Want To Put Millions Into U.S. Politicians' Campaigns?: That foreign money floods into the American political system is hardly a secret, although it is illegal."

When asked back in April why no Wall Street executive went to jail for the massive mortgage fraud behind the financial crisis and robbed millions of Americans of their wealth, Hillary Clinton used a lot of words that amounted to there just not being any good cases or any firm laws or - well, what does she mean, exactly? "Are the laws insufficient? Therefore how do we try to make them tougher as a deterrent and make it clear to people in the financial services industry that there's a new sheriff in town so that there will be additional legal requirements and we will resource better." (New York Daily News interview.) No, no, no. The laws are on the books and clear, people have gone to jail in the past for violating such laws - fraud, forgery, and perjury are crimes. David Dayen has explained many times that the banks knew what they were doing was illegal, did it anyway, and got off the hook because the Obama administration ran interference for them. One person did go to jail, and is still there, for having done the banks' bidding: "The one person held accountable for foreclosure fraud was Lorraine Brown. She was the CEO of DocX. DocX was a third party company that actually created these fraudulent documents. She was arrested, charged and convicted for committing a conspiracy that was 'unbeknownst to DocX clients.' In other words, her clients - banks and mortgage companies - were asking for documents after the fact to support their foreclosure operations. However, somehow they didn't know that they were going to be fake documents - even though they couldn't be anything but fake because they were done after the fact. I describe Lorraine Brown as the private first class Lindy England of the foreclosure."

"US Government and Wall Street Played a Trick on Libya: Libya is suing Wall Street megabank Goldman Sachs for $1.2 billion dollars, claiming that it used different forms of corruption to secure high-risk contracts with Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) in 2008. According to the Libyan government, Goldman Sachs bankers used bribes, lavish gifts, and prostitutes to lock in contracts that turned out disastrous for the African nation. The trial, which begins this week in London, has made headlines, as many of the bank's top officials rotated into and out of influential government jobs, including managing partner Timothy Geithner, who was appointed Secretary of the Treasury under US President Barack Obama."

"Is This The Return Of U.S. 'Gunboat Diplomacy' Serving Corporations?: Colombia is allowing local production of a generic form of a cancer drug that is ultraexpensive because of a government-granted monopoly handed to a giant, multinational pharmaceutical corporation. The U.S. government is stepping in on the corporation's side with a modern form of 'gunboat diplomacy' - even though the giant corporation isn't even 'American.'"

"Former Rep. Frank urges White House, Congress to drop efforts to pass TPP" - Frank seems to have changed his mind based on the politics of trying to pass a bill everyone hates. Maybe he had a dream about guillotines....

"Only One Presidential Candidate Accepts Invite To Address National Congress Of American Indians: The National Congress of American Indians invited four presidential candidates to its mid-year conference in Spokane this week.Although Hillary Clinton is likely to be the Democratic party's nominee for President, Bernie Sanders is still on the campaign trail. In a three-and-a-half minute video message to the National Congress of American Indians, Sanders said he'd continue to fight for a progressive agenda."

"The US Is Sleepwalking Towards A Nuclear Confrontation." This podcast may be well worth your time.

"In Some States, Defendants Can Be Charged Hundreds of Dollars Just to Face a Jury: And other ways our judicial system bleeds the poor with debt."

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: explains that ISIS isn't about religion, it's about power, on Morning Joe (video).

"I Am An AR-15 Owner And I've Had Enough [...] Give me three 100 round drum magazines and I could hold my whole block hostage for a day. Give me thirty 10 round magazines and someone will be able to stop me."

"First female teen to win Ohio masonry competition bumped from national contest" - You know, I find myself really wanting to know what actually happened there.

Charles Murray, of all people, is making a case for "A Guaranteed Income for Every American," but at only $10,000 a year, it's not going to be enough to replace all other subsidies and grants for people who can't work.

This article at TPM is called "The History of Privateization," and it made me angry all over again. "'Thus a top priority,' Smith wrote, 'should be to identify Democratic senators and representatives who might be persuaded to support privatization and convince them to take the lead on the issue.' The liberal think tanks were also targeted. In 1988 the conservative Olin Foundation provided funding to the Brookings Institution for a book on education vouchers, and, throughout the 1990s, to the program on education policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. In the words of Olin's executive director, James Piereson, 'we were interested in getting these ideas ensconced at liberal places.'" Yes, converting the discourse from the Democratic side was a key priority for the right-wing, but this article does not mention the Democratic Leadership Council. I realize this is only Part One of a series, but once you start talking about Reagan, Al From is already on the scene. "In fact, Clinton succeeded where Reagan and Bush failed. Writing in 1997, the Heritage Foundation's Ron Utt (who had been Reagan's 'privatization czar') praised Clinton for pursuing 'the boldest privatization agenda put forth by any American president to date,' and noted that his proposals were 'virtually all drawn from recommendations made in 1988 by President Reagan's Commission on Privatization.' In 2006 Reason Foundation's Robert Poole declared that 'the Clinton administration's privatization successes exceeded those of Reagan.'" That's your DLC for you. (And no one ever seems to mention the Post Office, it's as if what they now call "socialism" didn't exist in America before. It's not a New Deal program; Benjamin Franklin created the US Post Office.)

Your Talking Dog has interviewed Rebecca Gordon, author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes. Gordon's earlier works include Mainstreaming Torture, Letters from Nicaragua, and Cruel and Usual: How Welfare 'Reform' Punishes Poor People. Sam Seder also interviewed her on The Majority Report.

SWOU Statement: Prostitution inquiry recommends the decriminalisation of sex workers!

R.I.P. Bernie Worrell, keyboardist for Parliament-Funkadelic and Talking Heads, has died at 72

Olivia de Havilland is 100.

New Ron Howard-directed Beatles documentary highlights the band's formative years

The Clash, live, "Should I Stay or Should I Go"

17:32 GMT comment


Thursday, 16 June 2016

There's no times at all, just The New York Times

The last couple of weeks kinda got away from me, so I'm just going to post this to get it out of the way.

Gun control just became a gay issue: There's nothing I can really say about the Orlando killings, but given that gay-hating in certain American "Christian" circles is ubiquitous, it's pretty stupid to blame Muslims for something these "Christians" seem to advocate on a daily basis. And maybe the story is more complicated than the punditocracy can understand. You only have to look at the Republicans in Congress to know that homosexuals who also suffer from their own homophobia are pretty scary people. Or maybe the guy just got turned down too may times, or just got dumped, but he doesn't even seem to have known the difference between Hezbolla and ISIL, so he wasn't much of a Muslim activist. I don't know. But from the beginning, the media was strangely reluctant to admit that there was any significance to the fact that it was an attack on a gay venue, though the world knew it,
* And then there's this: "British security company G4S confirms that Florida shooter is one of their own [...] G4S claims expertise in vetting and screening employees: 'A robust employee screening programme helps organisations minimise the risk of making inappropriate recruitment decisions,' G4S tells potential customers. 'We have a wealth of experience in developing and implementing background checks and security clearance for companies in the private and public sector.' But time and again racist, misogynist and otherwise dangerous people have slipped through the company's own screening process and been given power over vulnerable people. Repeatedly the company's readiness to act in response to warnings has been found wanting."
* Bernie Sanders, of course, reiterated his long-standing opposition to the sale of automatic weapons and his support of expanded background checks and closing sales loopholes.

LGBT for Sanders: Be the change you want to believe in.

Bernie Sanders' speech in Santa Monica

Stunning millions, the Associated Press announced early last week that the primaries were over and Hillary Clinton had won, based on her superdelegate count - on the eve of the California, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Montana races. At first I assumed it was just AP jumping the gun to scoop everyone else, but maybe not. Perhaps we were tipped that this was already in the works when a superdelegate endorsed Bernie because "the DNC has informed me that I cannot stay neutral until the convention." Hm, where do they get off doing that? In the event, there is much speculation that this announcement depressed voter turn-out and hurt down-ticket races as well as specifically depressing Sanders turn-out (since older voters are far less likely to be voting-day voters and had probably already mailed in their ballots).

So, the results were disappointing, with radical drop in what appeared to be a close race on the west coast, and Sanders only taking two states - one where hardly anyone seemed to show up - only 354 Democrats caucused in North Dakota (which Bernie took 64.2%-25.6). He also took Montana, 51.1%-44.6%. But California went to Clinton (55.8%-43.2%), as did New Jersey (63.2%-36.8%) and the rest, and that's really all she wrote. There are still a couple million provisional and mail-in ballots left to be counted in California, but no one expects them to change anything, particularly since Clinton voters were more likely to have voted early. (But yeah, there were voting problems.)
* No surprises in the Chocolate City, either.

Sanders Campaign Statement on Puerto Rico Polling Places: "Some Puerto Rico Democratic officials are claiming that the Sanders campaign requested fewer polling places in today's primary contest. That's completely false. The opposite is true. In emails with the party, Sanders' staff asked the party to maintain the 1,500 plus presidential primary locations promised by the Puerto Rico Democratic party in testimony before the DNC in April, when the party was asking to have its caucus changed to a primary. They cannot blame their shoddy running of the primary on our campaign. This is just one example of irregularities going on in Puerto Rico voting today. We are the campaign that has been fighting to increase voter participation." Activists had warned that closing so many polling places would cause chaos, and it did, as well as significantly depressing turnout: While local officials expected more than 700,000, only 60,671 made it to the ballot box. Though voter turnout in Puerto Rico is usually much higher than in the 50 U.S. states, Sunday's Democratic race had a dismal showing of just 3.45 percent of eligible voters. After spending weeks telling the press that the decision to reduce the number of polling sites was based on lack of funding and a lack of poll workers, the local Democratic Party changed its story Sunday and claimed that the Sanders campaign requested the cuts." Of course, this is a ludicrous excuse and one wonders if it's possible for the DNC to stop blaming Sanders for their own behavior.

Matt Taibbi: "Democrats Will Learn All the Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie: [...] This was no ordinary primary race, not a contest between warring factions within the party establishment, á la Obama-Clinton in '08 or even Gore-Bradley in '00. This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters. Yet editorialists mostly drew the opposite conclusion. [...] Politicians are so used to viewing the electorate as a giant thing to be manipulated that no matter what happens at the ballot, they usually can only focus on the Washington-based characters they perceive to be pulling the strings. Through this lens, the uprising among Democratic voters this year wasn't an organic expression of mass disgust, but wholly the fault of Bernie Sanders, who within the Beltway is viewed as an oddball amateur and radical who jumped the line. Nobody saw his campaign as an honest effort to restore power to voters, because nobody in the capital even knows what that is. In the rules of palace intrigue, Sanders only made sense as a kind of self-centered huckster who made a failed play for power. And the narrative will be that with him out of the picture, the crisis is over. No person, no problem."
* He's right. The press is already full of articles explaining that Clinton doesn't need those Sanders' voters anyway.
* Meanwhile, Joshua Holland is quick to use it as an excuse to stop fighting and learn to love the neoliberals. Pretty sad.

"Proving Revolution Has Roots, Vast Majority of Dems Back Major Sanders Role: 'Election days come and go but political revolutions are not dependent on election days,' says Bernie Sanders." Clinton claimed she was winning because of her policies, but that clearly isn't true if most Democrats want Sanders' policies to stay up front. Of course, a majority of them also said Sanders should endorse Clinton. I wonder if it will be anything like the endorsement he gave Bill Clinton....

"The Democratic Party derailed Bernie: How the establishment has worked to discredit Sanders' movement: Party leaders demonized Sanders supporters to stymie debate of the progressive change he's championed. [...] One constant narrative throughout the primaries has been that Sanders just can't gain the support of women or people of color, and that his supporters are overwhelmingly white males who back him for the simple reason that he is a man (e.g. Walsh's 'angry white male cult'). But again, this is complete hogwash. Sanders has actually done better with young women than young men - a USA Today poll taken in the midst of the primaries found that Millennial women backed 'Sanders by a jaw-dropping 61%-30% while the divide among Millennial men is much closer, 48%-44%.' Similarly, while Clinton has dominated with African American voters overall, young black and Hispanic voters have a more favorable opinion of Sanders than Clinton, according to a Gallup survey from May. Indeed, Sanders is viewed even more favorably among black millenials than white millenials. The survey also found that Sanders is viewed more favorably among millennial women than millennial men, and that millenials were the most left-leaning generation. [...] This seems to validate the notion that the youngest generation is the most progressive generation and that they like Bernie Sanders because he's the most progressive candidate (I know, it's crazy that voters would support a politician because of his or her politics and ideas rather than his or her gender or ethnicity)."

"Media Coverage of the Primaries Was Awful, Harvard Study Confirms [...] Thomas Patterson, Harvard's Bradley Professor of Government and the Press, in conjunction with the Shorenstein Center on Media, Public Policy, and Politics, conducted an analysis of eight different cable networks and newspapers and found that media companies devoted an unprecedented amount of coverage to Donald Trump from the start of his campaign, effectively shutting out over a dozen of his competitors. The Shorenstein analysis also learned that the Republican candidates got roughly twice as much media coverage as the Democratic candidates."

Thomas Frank, "Anthem for Bummed Youth [...] As for the issues, there is really only one this year: What we call, alternately, 'the economy,' or 'inequality,' or the slow deterioration of the middle class. It overshadows everything else. For young people, who know firsthand the emptiness of the politicians' promises of economic security for the properly credentialed, the matter is particularly acute. This is the one great issue facing the nation, and yet as of today it is essentially off the table. Yes, economic desperation has given us Donald Trump, but the suggestion that this swaggering mountebank might actually do what is required to reverse our national illness seems like a cruel joke at the moment. Hillary Clinton, for her part, has never really had more than a feigned, superficial interest in the fate of working people; her lifelong concern is exactly what she has said it is so many times in this campaign: 'breaking down barriers' that keep individuals from rising in their chosen fields. That this is the correct goal of all social policy is obvious and even instinctive to her, as are so many other assumptions of the professional class. Meritocracy defines her life as well as her politics. For the affluent professionals who are the Democratic Party's truest believers, what is unfolding today is a scenario of fulfillment and triumph. They have always suspected that politics is really just a battle between the stupid and the smart, the ignorant and the enlightened, and every morning for the next five months their newspapers will tell them how very right they are. "

Paul Street, "Feel the Hate [...] Mr. Clinton earned the gratitude of Wall Street and corporate America by passing the arch-global-corporatist North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act (which had mandated a necessary separation between commercial deposit and investment banking), and by de-regulating the burgeoning super-risky and high-stakes financial derivatives sector. He knew the score from day one of his presidency. As the famed Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward noted in his 1994 book The Agenda, Clinton said the following just weeks after winning the 1992 election: 'we're Eisenhower Republicans here.... We stand for lower deficits, free trade, and the bond market. Isn't that great?' Clinton added that his post-election policy direction would 'help the bond market' and 'hurt the people who voted us in.' The Clintons certainly do know how to get things done." There's a whole lot more there, but I hadn't seen that before.

"President Obama Proposes Expanding Social Security Benefits" - This is a bit of a surprise, although it's fuzzy enough not be clear what it actually means, but it's a gift to Clinton if she's smart enough to take it. Not sure she understands that the best way to unify the party is to take Sanders' policies on board. Not sure she even wants to unify the party.

Jonathan Turley, "Nixonian palace guard now protects Hillary: Greatest danger from electing Clinton president may be her cadre of fawning aides [...] What is so concerning is that Clinton seems to invite such expressions of absolute loyalty and reverence. The question is whether there is a John Dean willing to walk into her office and tell her of a cancer growing within the White House. After years of scandals and investigations, Clinton has distilled a team down to the truest believers who have little difficulty repeating truth-defying spins or refusing to cooperate with investigators."

"Emails Show TPP 'Collusion' Between Big Banks & Obama Administration: Emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman discussing TPP with Goldman Sachs lobbyists."

"Hillary Clinton's Flat and Misleading Foreign Policy Speech [...] It's been getting decent reviews in the mainstream media for the zingers she tossed at Donald Trump. But when you listen to the speech (you can watch it here) and think about it, you realize how insipid and unoriginal it really was. [...] 1. The speech featured the usual American exceptionalism, the usual fear that if America withdraws from the world stage, chaos will result. There was no sense that America's wars of choice in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. have greatly contributed to that chaos. Oh, there was also the usual boast that America has the greatest military. That's what Imperial and Nazi Germany used to boast - until the Germans lost two world wars and smartened up. 2. Hillary mentioned we're electing 'our' next commander-in-chief. No, we're not. The president is a public servant, not 'our' commander-in-chief. The president serves as the civilian commander-in-chief of the military, and the military alone. [...] For many people who are leery of a Trump presidency, Hillary's hawkish and colorless conformity to the Washington system is more than enough to qualify her. If she wins the presidency, she will be much like Brezhnev and Andropov, senior apparatchiks of an empire in denial of its own precipitous decline."
* "Sanders to Clinton: Yes, Trump's Foreign Policy Ideas Are Scary. But So Are Yours: We need a foreign policy based on building coalitions and making certain that the brave American men and women in our military do not get bogged down in perpetual warfare in the Middle East. That's what I will fight for as president."
* Marcy Wheeler, "Hillary Promises Not to Order the Military (!?!) to Torture: Though I agree with the general sentiment that Donald Trump should not be trusted with America's nuclear codes, there's a lot I loathed in Hillary's foreign policy speech yesterday. Her neat espousal of American exceptionalism, with the specter that another country could make decisions about our lives and jobs and safety, is especially rich coming from a woman who has negotiated several trade deals that give corporations the power to make decisions about our lives and jobs and safety." x
* "The Bigger Nuclear Risk: Trump or Clinton? If the U.S. election comes down to Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump, the American people will have to decide between two candidates who could risk the future of the planet, albeit for very different reasons, writes Robert Parry."
* "Clinton Positions Herself to the Right of Trump in National Security Speech: Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies says although Clinton rightfully used her national security speech to condemn the bigotry and outlandishness of Trump's positions, she laid out a much more militaristic foreign policy."
* "We Can't Have More of the Same: The Very Real Dangers of Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy: Trump may well be dangerous. But know what you're getting with Hillary: American hegemony that's hated worldwide."

"Did Hillary Force #DebtTrapDebbie And Patrick Murphy To Stop Backing The Koch Brothers Payday Lenders Bill?"

David Dayen in The New Republic,: "Bernie Sanders Has Already Won California: The results won't change the Democratic contest - but the campaign has changed everything. Does the outcome of next Tuesday's California primary matter? Conventional wisdom says no; news outlets are already pinpointing the precise time of the evening when Hillary Clinton will clinch the nomination with victories elsewhere - three hours before the polls close in the Golden State. Naturally, this perturbs Bernie Sanders fans, who see it as one more way the Democratic nomination contest has been rigged from the start. But they should know that the election in California is of critical importance - not to deciding the 2016 Democratic nomination (already a done deal), but to determining the future of the Democratic Party."

Hillary Clinton's Plan for Conservation and Collaborative Stewardship of America's Great Outdoors is full of wonkish phrases but if you read carefully, it seems to be saying we will be destroying the natural landscape in order to turn it into energy farms. "MAKE PUBLIC LANDS AN ENGINE OF THE CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY: As President, Clinton will set a goal to generate enough renewable energy to power every home in the country. To help meet this goal, Clinton will expand energy production on public lands and waters ten-fold within ten years of taking office, while reforming federal fossil fuel leasing."

"Clinton isn't Moving Left, She is Dragging her Supporters to the Right
* "Clinton's Long Shadow: Hillary Clinton may never be called to account for her role in Haiti's ongoing political crisis."

Yves Smith, "Why Some of the Smartest Progressives I Know Will Vote for Trump over Hillary [...] The result is that the U.S. economy is becoming lethal to the less fortunate, according to the New York Times, which reported this week that U.S. death rates have risen for the first time in a decade. The increase in death rates among less educated whites since 2001 is roughly the size of the AIDS epidemic. One cause, the opioid epidemic, resulted from Purdue Pharma overselling the effectiveness of reformulated OxyContin, then recommending higher dosages when it failed to work properly, which experts deemed a prescription for creating addicts, according to a number of lawsuits. This was permitted by the U.S. government, leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths. Despite President Barack Obama's Panglossian claim that the economy is doing well, the spike in suicides to levels over those during the financial crisis belies that. Yet the Clinton campaign is in such denial about this that it has become vitriolic in its verbal and tactical attacks on Sanders and his supporters - rather than recognizing that the stunning success of his campaign is proof of their abject policy failures. The message is clear: The Clintons believe, as Bill himself put it, that the true progressives have nowhere to go. But in fact, they've been leaving. The Clinton and Obama administrations presided over the worst losses in congressional and state races in modern history in 1994, 2010 and 2012. And voter preferences were clear. Under Obama, it was the Blue Dog, Third Way Democrats who were turfed out, while candidates with strong stances on economic justice kept their seats. Similarly, as political scientist Tom Ferguson pointed out in a Roosevelt Institute paper, Obama's loss of a Senate majority when Republican Scott Brown won in Massachusetts was the result of his focus on bailing out banks rather than aiding distressed homeowners (or forcing mortgage services to give modifications to borrowers who still had adequate income, as banks had done historically). The level of votes for Brown was strongly correlated with the amount of foreclosures in those particular districts."
* And a scary poll graph from The Wall Street Journal and NBC News shows Americans think Trump will be better than Clinton on the economy, but Clinton will be a better "Commander in Chief"..

"Obama Administration Bars Release of Clinton's TPP Emails Until Post-Election: Response for FOIA request was 'abruptly' changed from spring 2016 to late November 2016."

"New Hillary Scandal Checks All the Boxes on the Clinton Controversy Bingo Card. [...] Thanks to a newly released batch of State Department emails, ABC News was able to revisit the story of Rajiv Fernando, a wealthy securities trader who gave heavily to both Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and the Clinton Foundation - and who just so happened to land himself a plum spot on a sensitive government intelligence advisory panel after Hillary became secretary of state. Politicos rewarding donors is sadly not uncommon but what makes this particular example stand out is Fernando's lack of qualifications for a job that involved advising the secretary of state - and, by extension, the president of the United States - on the topic of nuclear weapons."

"Fraction Magic - Part 1: Votes Are Being Counted As Fractions Instead Of As Whole Numbers: This report summarizes the results of our review of the GEMS election management system, which counts approximately 25 percent of all votes in the United States. The results of this study demonstrate that a fractional vote feature is embedded in each GEMS application which can be used to invisibly, yet radically, alter election outcomes by pre-setting desired vote percentages to redistribute votes. This tampering is not visible to election observers, even if they are standing in the room and watching the computer. Use of the decimalized vote feature is unlikely to be detected by auditing or canvass procedures, and can be applied across large jurisdictions in less than 60 seconds."

David Dayen, "New Payday-Loan Rules Won't Stop Predatory Lenders"

Government Will Pay $100,000 to Davis, Former Chief Prosecutor at Guantánamo

Jason Leopold, Marcy Wheeler, and Ky Henderson at Vice, "Snowden Tried to Tell NSA About Surveillance Concerns, Documents Reveal." Which is what he's been saying all along.

Employers Butthurt By Having To Pay Hard Workers A Middle Class Wage

"US unemployed have quit looking for jobs at a 'frightening' level: Survey" - I wonder if anyone has noticed.

"The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies" - The reason we had eight-hour days in the first place wasn't just the union movement, it was the realization by employers that by having workers on the job for shorter hours, they saved money. If they could figure that out in the steel mills of Pittsburgh, it's amazing that our modern technocrats haven't managed to keep up to date.

"Ex-Big Pharma Rep: We're Trained To Misinform -The Drugs ARE Dangerous."

"Burying the White Working Class: Liberal condescension towards white workers is code for a broader anti-working class agenda [...] Despite off-the-charts wealth inequality, Democratic Party liberals have been concerned not with an egalitarian reckoning to unite the have-nots against the haves but with inclusion: bringing different 'interest groups' into the professional class while managing everyone else's expectations downward. This kind of 'inclusion' politics - the chance at climbing one of a tiny handful of rickety ladders to the top - is the only economic program the Democratic Party mainstream is selling to those not already in the upper tiers. Sure, this politics is better than nothing. But as Ralph Miliband put it, 'access to positions of power by members of the subordinate classes does not change the fact of domination: it only changes its personnel.' Standing outside of this shift, unmoved and - as the Democratic Party sees it - ungrateful, is the white working class. Not just those silver-haired remnants from the unionized, manufacturing heyday whose jobs have been offshored or, more likely, de-unionized, but the vast swath who've been forced to adjust to the new norm of low-wage, flexible, service-sector hell. Even with the college degree and boatload of debt needed to obtain it."

Astonishingly, "Larry Summers Gets This Right: We Really Need An Infrastructure Decade" - When ordinary people don't have enough money to spend, there's no demand, and therefore nothing for rich investors to invest in. You can start fixing this by having a government that puts money into the hands of ordinary people - by, for example, hiring them to do all the work that needs to be done, of which there is quite a lot.

"John Oliver buys up $15 million in medical debt, then pays off the debt for 9,000 people in hardship." Actually, he bought it up at a substantial discount ($60K) and then simply forgave the debt, but how cool is that? (I couldn't see the video in the article, which apparently the uploader had not made available in my country, but I found it here instead.)

"US unemployed have quit looking for jobs at a 'frightening' level: Survey." I'm just gonna let you read this and make your own grumbled retorts.

"U.N. Chief Admits He Removed Saudi Arabia From Child-Killer List Due to Extortion: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon publicly acknowledged Thursday that he removed the Saudi-led coalition currently bombing Yemen from a blacklist of child killers - 72 hours after it was published - due to a financial threat to defund United Nations programs."

RIP: Muhammad Ali, 'The Greatest of All Time', Dead at 74. He would "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." He was a champion of civil rights and one of the most compelling figures on the world stage in my lifetime.
* Pierce: "Muhammad Ali Transcended Sports, Culture, and Time: There's no real ending for an existence like that."
* Thomas Hauser in the Guardian, "Muhammad Ali: the man behind the icon: The late boxer's biographer recalls getting to know a deeply spiritual and intelligent man with endless tales, no regrets and a passion for life that never diminished, even as his condition did."
* "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I'm not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn't have to draft me, I'd join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I'll go to jail, so what? We've been in jail for 400 years." - Muhammad Ali

Richard Eskow, "Social Security's Enemies Are Down - But They're Not Out [...] If the Republicans win all three branches of government, Social Security will be in immediate mortal danger. And while the rhetorical shift among Democrats is welcome, they'll need to be held to it. Hillary Clinton's website says she would 'expand Social Security for those who need it most and who are treated unfairly by the current system.' That's not enough, given the current retirement crisis. The Sanders proposal, which is detailed and covers everyone, must be written into the Democratic platform. And activists must send the message that there will be dire political consequences if it isn't honored. Otherwise, a new 'grand bargain' is still a very real possibility."

"Eric Clapton Struggling to Play Guitar Due to Nerve System Damage." He can still play, but it hurts.

Congratulations, Roz! "30 years on, Roz Kaveney's Tiny Pieces of Skull, or a Lesson in Manners is finally in print and winning prizes."

"The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare: Australia's natural wonder is in mortal danger. Bleaching caused by climate change has killed almost a quarter of its coral this year and many scientists believe it could be too late for the rest. Using exclusive photographs and new data, a Guardian special report investigates how the reef has been devastated - and what can be done to save it"

Wind sculptures

Simon & Garfunkel live

04:15 GMT comment


Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Nobody knows

The moment Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy, the entire press corps started singing in unison a talking point that they were obviously repeating directly from the Clinton campaign: "Bernie Sanders doesn't connect with people of color."

That's how I knew from the start that the Clinton campaign was going to use racism to undermine a man whose support for black civil rights goes seamlessly back from the 1960s (a time when Clinton was supporting Goldwater), right up to the present. (The real disparity is that, though young black people have a slight preference for Sanders, they are less likely to vote than their white counterparts.)

The "doesn't connect with people of color" story is veiled but implies a racism that isn't there: Sanders doesn't hang out with a lot of black people, Sanders moved to a white state, Sanders wins white states, and on and on and on - from which we are meant to infer that maybe what's behind Sanders is that perhaps he doesn't really like black people very much, and that the Democrats who like Sanders might not like black people much, either. It was also a way to make his black supporters invisible, the same way the BernieBros meme was meant to make his female supporters invisible (as a similar Clinton campaign meme did in '08). So you never see much in the press about how support for Sanders among male millenials is nothing compared to Sanders' support from young women, and you don't hear about it when numerous black and Latino-dominated groups endorse Sanders, nor when America's oldest black magazine endorses him. The suggestion, of course, is that only sexist men and whites like Sanders, because they just don't care about racism or sexism.

Neoliberals, like their plantation-owning ancestors, love to use racism and sexism to divide people, and this is a great example of how they do it. When Clinton says "If we break up the big banks, will that end racism? Will that end sexism?" she isn't just pointing out that "not everything is an economic theory," she is actually pitting economic justice against social justice, as if the two weren't very much a part of the same thing. She doesn't want you to think about how white racism is constantly encouraged and used to break up joint efforts by whites and blacks together to get economic justice. And she also doesn't want you to ask whether Too Big To Fail banks should be allowed to continue to suck away the wealth of the black community and impoverish women (and whites in general) whose lives are already precarious - and whether doing so can possibly do anything to ameliorate racism and sexism, either.

Understand, the big banks stole the homes of millions of people, committed massive fraud of every kind and created the greatest financial crisis in history and were allowed to get away with it and keep doing it because they were deemed "too big to fail", and yet Hillary Clinton can say, "If we broke up the big banks tomorrow - and I will if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, I will - would that end racism?" as if their being too big and posing a threat was even in question, despite the fact that they are even bigger today than they were in 2008.

"If"? If they pose a systemic risk? If they deserve it? Is this a joke? Thanks to Bill Clinton's policies and Obama's indulgence of the banksters, the black community has been losing economic ground to an even greater degree than they did under Reagan, but we're supposed to ignore that.

We are also supposed to ignore the fact that it is precisely because of the growing poverty of whites that resentment of black people has skyrocketed, and every time Democrats speak as if they are going to give special help to blacks or women, that resentment grows. It doesn't grow because everyone is a racist, it grows because when they hear Democrats talking about how bad things are for black people, they know that what they really mean is, "We're not going to help you."

This is why the right-wing can sell the implication that black people are getting some kind of secret welfare that whites aren't getting, that they are giving black people a leg up while letting whites sink into poverty and die.

But the kicker is, they're not helping black people, either, and they're still not going to.

* * * * *

Feeling the Hamilton-style Bern

Starting to see new polling in California that show the gap narrowing again. Still not throwing any parties yet, and even if Sanders wins, it probably won't be big enough to make a real difference, but perhaps he won't do as badly as earlier polls were suggesting.

I haven't seen any official statement that Clinton did anything indictable, but some people seem to be sure the indictment is coming - just as soon as she officially gets nominated.
* State Dept. Report on Clinton's Emails
* Hillary Clinton broke the rules for using private email, State Department says
* Experts: Audit justifies FBI's push for Hillary Clinton indictment

Seizing Chance, Sanders Makes Bold Progressive Picks to Shape DNC Platform
* DNC to offer Sanders more seats on platform committee: report
* This story is slanted, but essentially correct in its conclusions: "Bernie Sanders's 'Scorched Earth' Strategy Seems to Be Working [...] In late April, when national polls consistently showed Clinton prevailing over Trump by comfortable margins, Clinton allies were whispering to the Hill that she planned to take a 'hard line' with Sanders, insisting the party's left flank had already received its fair share of concessions. Since then, Clinton's unfavorability rating with Sanders's supporters has steadily increased - and her polling advantage over Trump has collapsed. Now, anonymous Clinton surrogates are singing a different tune. 'She needs to do something in the coming weeks to show that she's also trying to unify the party,' a Clinton ally told the Hill on Thursday, arguing that Clinton should look left for her vice-presidential pick." Of course, this was always true - alienating Sanders supporters was a good way to alienate them, as anyone could have told her. Leadership requires that she, not Sanders, find some way to unify the party. It's always important for a candidate to ask voters for their votes, but Hillary's message for the last few weeks had been, "I don't need you, go away." Stupid. Relenting on freezing Sanders out of choosing members of the platform committee is a nice start, though it means little in the long run. Still, Bernie picked some pretty in-your-face choices and it could make a difference on issues that don't get much of a hearing otherwise. But we all know Clinton needn't bother running on that platform and no one ever seems to remember what was in the platform once the general election is over. But even The Washington Post is seeing this as a win for Sanders.

A Voter's Guide to Hillary Clinton's Policies in Latin America

There's tons of evidence all over the net of no violence having occurred at the Nevada convention, but the Clinton talking points went out and spread Jon Ralston's fairy story far and wide, and nothing seems to catch up with it. Of course, the whole "BernieBros"-style narrative is a time-honored tradition in HRC campaigns, so we shouldn't be surprised.
* Snopes: "The Chair Thrown 'Round the World: A Las Vegas reporter's second-hand claim Bernie Sanders supporters threw chairs at a Nevada convention was widely reproduced by other news outlets."
* Barbara Boxer joins the smear campaign with a shameful claim that Sanders supporters frightened her.
* Let's take a look at that internecine primary violence again - Oh, Wendell, how disappointing. Where's Clinton's apology, again?
* Greg Palast, "Media Fabricates Sanders Riot, Buries the Real Story: In Nevada, 64 Bernie Sanders delegates - some committee chairmen and life­long county Democratic Party members - were disqualified on the grounds that they were Republicans. They are lifelong Democrats, and that's why they were at the convention, as chosen delegates. Bernie Sanders had more delegates than Hillary Clinton. It was a very close race in Nevada. When they knocked out the 64 Bernie delegates as Republicans, suddenly Hillary won the caucus by 35 delegate votes. Some of the Sanders people didn't like that. So what was the report? Not how Sanders delegates were somehow excluded from exercising their rightful vote for the party's nominee. Instead, The New York Times headline was: 'From Bernie Sanders Supporters, Death Threats Over Delegates.'"
* But the hits just keep on coming, with members of the party leadership comparing Sanders supporters with the John Birch Society and the Tea Party and demanding that Sanders should point them to the exits. Jimmy Dore reports.

In any case, Hillary Clinton, having declared herself to have won the primaries, has refused a California debate.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, "Democrats Can't Unite Unless Wasserman Schultz Goes!: The Democratic National Committee chair has thrown fuel on the flames of infighting just as the party faces a critical November election." This woman has protected Republican seats and lost hundreds of Democratic seats all over the country. There isn't a single reason to leave her in position.
* But, "In Race Against Clinton, Bernie Sanders Has Unveiled An Ugly Truth About Democratic Party: If nothing else, Bernie Sanders has pulled the curtain back on something we all suspected but couldn't yet prove: The Democratic Party doesn't really care about the people."

"First, Do Some Harm: How to Smear a Disfavored Candidate on NYT's Front Page [...] This is Bad Journalism 101: You come up with a thesis, like 'Bernie Sanders wants to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances of beating Donald Trump.' You take your thesis to your source, and ask them to agree with it; like any sensible spokesperson, they decline to comment on it. You take their no-comment as an endorsement of your thesis - and that becomes the lead headline in the nation's most influential newspaper"

If you can stand Facebook, Matt Karp did a review of Sanders' 1996 memoir, recently re-issued with an updated title. Here's my favorite bit: "Some dismiss Bernie's past electoral success as the skewed product of the leftmost corner of America's leftmost state. But it's not at all clear that Burlington, Vermont was a hotbed of radical energy until Bernie's Progressive Party made it that way. When he won an upset victory as mayor in 1981, the 11 Republicans and Democrats on the 13-member Burlington city council joined forces to block his new administration's every move, refusing even to accept his appointments as city attorney, clerk, treasurer, etc. Only through extensive political struggle - which involved nearly doubling the Burlington voter turnout between 1978 and 1983 - did Bernie build a coalition that was able to govern effectively. In other words, when Bernie talks about one election not being enough to matter - that real change will require a 'political revolution' - he speaks from personal and hard-fought experience." And if you can't stand Facebook, here's Verso's page for Outsider in the White House (originally titled Outsider in the House).

Meanwhile, I stumbled on this piece from April by far-right crackpot Charles Krauthammer called, "Clintonism, dead and buried: Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have decisively discarded Bill Clinton's legacy." As usual, there is a lot of twisted logic, but it's a rather illuminating piece of work, when you think about it.

Finally! "Obama cuts all funding for Christian-based 'Abstinence Only' sex-ed programs." There should never have been a single day when this was funded, and it's outrageous negligence that Democrats continued to vote to fund this thing even after they took the White House and the largest majorities in a generation in Congress. I can't believe it's taken this long. "President Obama's 2017 budget proposal has removed a $10 million annual grant that goes towards funding 'abstinence-only' sexual education classes in public schools. By eliminating the grant, Obama would end the financial incentive for states to continue teaching the debunked sex-ed program."

"Banks Must Defend Libor Lawsuits After Judges Warn of Impact: Sixteen of the world's largest banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. must face antitrust lawsuits accusing them of hurting investors who bought securities tied to Libor by rigging an interest-rate benchmark, a ruling that an appeals court warned could devastate them."

"GOP budget bill would kill net neutrality and FCC's set-top box plan: House Republicans yesterday released a plan to slash the Federal Communications Commission's budget by $69 million and prevent the FCC from enforcing net neutrality rules, "rate regulation," and its plan to boost competition in the set-top box market. The proposal is the latest of many attempts to gut the FCC's authority, though it's unusual in that it takes aim at two of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's signature projects while also cutting the agency's budget. The plan is part of the government's annual appropriations bill."

Ryan Cooper recommends David Dayen's Chain of Title in The Week, "This is Obama's biggest failure: In the early 2000s, when the great housing bubble was gaining steam, one hurdle for Wall Street firms who wanted to issue mortgage-backed financial products was the simple reality of the American mortgage market: It was mature. It had been around for decades, its procedures were very well-established, and just about everyone who could reasonably qualify for a loan already had one. One path mortgage originators took, as most people know by now, is handing out mortgages to anyone who could fog a mirror. But another one was systematic fraud. That is the subject of Chain of Title, a new book by David Dayen about the foreclosure crisis. It's an excellent and absolutely infuriating look at how the American political system, from Barack Obama on down, refused to use enormous legal leverage to help millions of its citizens who were victimized by Wall Street crime. Every American should read this book."
* David Dayen in Salon, "This man made millions suffer: Tim Geithner's sorry legacy on housing: Forget the book tour designed to polish his legacy. Tim Geithner's record on housing will forever live in infamy [...] In reality, Geithner made the same arguments as DeMarco against principal reduction, most explicitly in a hearing of the Congressional Oversight Panel in December 2009, arguing it would be 'dramatically more expensive for the American taxpayer, harder to justify, [and] create much greater risk of unfairness.' Geithner later cited the potential moral hazard of 'strategic default,' where homeowners would intentionally not pay their mortgage to get a principal reduction (something that never has and never would happen), to argue against making such modifications mandatory when they made sense for the investor and the borrower."
* From 2012, in The Fordham Urban Law Journal, Matt Stoller with "The Housing Crash and the End of American Citizenship

Tom Gallagher in the Los Angeles Times, "Can superdelegates be convinced to support Bernie Sanders? Unlikely, but not impossible [...] It's all but impossible for either Clinton or Sanders to amass enough pledged delegates to ensure the nomination before the convention. To achieve the 2,383 votes needed just through pledged delegates, Clinton would need to take 77% of those still up for grabs in the remaining primaries and caucuses, even though her portion of those elected so far is just 54%. Sanders could not reach the mark even if he were to win all of the remaining pledged delegates. This puts the Democratic nomination squarely in the hands of the party's 714 superdelegates."

The Hill says, "Sanders is the king of credibility in 2016 [...] Even more striking, the number of Democrats who consider Sanders honest and trustworthy was an astonishing 84 percent in that poll, almost 30 points higher than the same number for Clinton among Democrats and for Trump among Republicans."

"Koch Brothers Prepare To Go To War Against Democrats, While Schumer, Reid And Wasserman Schultz Go To War Against Progressives: So what are the Democrats doing while the Koch brothers ready a $30 million Senate war-chest for August and September targeting races in Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania? If you're on the DSCC mailing list you know they are asking for contributions on a daily basis. But if you get your Senate campaign news from that list what you don't know is that they've been deploying whatever money they can get their hands on to smear and destroy progressive Democrats. If you contributed to the DSCC, regardless of what the e-mail you were responding to said, your money went to knock Joe Sestak out of the Pennsylvania Senate race because he refused to kiss Chuck Schumer's ass. (The Democrats don't put it that graphically and just claim he is too independent-minded for what they have in mind.)"

I confess, I have been unable to understand why people who I swear gave every appearance of being real liberal progressives who understood the problems with the Democratic establishment a year ago seem to have become its great defenders once this race got started. Is it really down to this? "When olds like Joan Walsh and Michael Tomasky lecture young people for worrying about their future, they are doing this from a position of absolute privilege. For them, a Hillary Clinton presidency is acceptable, because they get all of the advantages and none of the disadvantages. They get low energy prices that come from Clinton's middling climate-change incrementalism, and none of the droughts, rising oceans, and global instability that we'll see by the end of the century. They can tell young black people that their votes don't matter, because olds won't be around to see the devastation wrought to black communities by Clintonian economic governance; olds will, however, get the nice short-term bump in their 401(k) that comes when Hillary inflates the next bubble. They can tell young women that their fights for childcare and family leave are overhyped, because the boomers have already sent their last children to college."

Remember, it's still a lie that the 1973 decision in Roe v Wade caused a natural backlash. There was no backlash, so they had to invent one. Samantha Bee's Full Frontal.on the history of the religious right and how the anti-choice movement got started as a cynical move to create a political movement. Part 2. And the full interview with Frank Schaefer about his involvement, which he says he bitterly regrets.

The Supreme Court Just Sent a Strong Message About Racism in the Justice System: In a 7-1 opinion, the court grants a new trial for a black death row inmate convicted by an all-white jury>." [...] The lone dissenter was the court's only African American justice, Clarence Thomas, who sided firmly with state of Georgia."

"Banks Must Defend Libor Lawsuits After Judges Warn of Impact: Sixteen of the world's largest banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. must face antitrust lawsuits accusing them of hurting investors who bought securities tied to Libor by rigging an interest-rate benchmark, a ruling that an appeals court warned could devastate them. The appellate judges reversed a lower-court ruling on one issue -- whether the investors had adequately claimed in their complaints to have been harmed -- while sending the cases back for the judge to consider another issue: whether the plaintiffs are the proper parties to sue, in part because their claims, if successful, provide for triple damages that could overwhelm the banks."

"Wisconsin county clerk objects to weekend voting because it gives urban areas 'too much access': a Wisconsin county clerk testified in federal court this week that weekend voting should be eliminated because it gave urban areas 'too much access' to the polls."

"San Francisco Police Chief Resigns Following Recent Police Shooting: San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr has resigned following a shooting by San Francisco police officers. SF Mayor Ed Lee asked for Suhr's resignation and then announced it at a press conference at City Hall Thursday evening. The announcement comes just days after Suhr indicated he had no intention of leaving the department. But this morning, A 27-year-old black woman was shot by SFPD officers in the Bayview neighborhood around 10am"

"15 Year-Old BackPage Prostitute Sentenced To 9-years In Prison: A 15-year-old girl and mother of two toddlers was sentenced to prison for helping to rob prospective johns who responded to an Internet sex ad. 15-year-old prostitute sentenced to 9-years prison for robbing a trick with a toy gun Latesha Clay was sentenced Monday, Jan. 11, to nine years in prison for robbing two men who responded to an ad on Backpage.com. The ad offered sex with a teen."

US nuclear arsenal controlled by 1970s computers with 8in floppy disks: Government Accountability Office report details 'museum-ready' machines controlling nuclear force messaging system that are 'obsolete'."

"Outgoing Defense Minister Ya'alon: Extremists Have Taken Over Israel: Sadly, senior politicians in the country have chosen the way of incitement and segregation of parts of Israeli society instead of unifying it and bringing it together. It is unbearable to me that we will be divided among us out of cynicism and lust for control, and I expressed my opinion on the matter more than once out of honest concern for the future of society in Israel and the future of the next generations"
* "Israel Has Been Infected by the Seeds of Fascism, Says ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak [...] Responding to the resignation of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon earlier in the day, Barak said that it 'should be a red light for all of us regarding what's going on in the government. Life-sustaining Zionism and the seeds of fascism cannot live together,'"

RIP:
* Hedy Epstein, Rights Activist and Holocaust Survivor, Dies at 91, of cancer. This is her in a Humans of St. Louis post on Facebook last year: "The first time I really remember being shocked about my own lack of information was when I came to this country in May 1948, and I started working a few days later. The person who told me what I was supposed to do in my job was an African American woman. Shortly before lunchtime she said, 'We go to lunch at noon. Did you bring your lunch?' And I said, 'No.' She told me all the different restaurants in the neighborhood. This was in New York City. So, I said, 'Well, can we go together?' And she said, 'No.' And I didn't really think anything about it. Maybe she's made some arrangement with somebody else. 'OK, well, maybe tomorrow?' 'No.' I waited a few days, and I asked again, 'Well, can we go to lunch together?' 'No.' By that time, I was beginning to wonder, 'Is there something about me that's bothering you? Please tell me.' She said, 'Well, you know why.' 'No, I don't know why.' I said, 'Please tell my why. I honestly don't know why.' 'Well, you're White, and where you can go to lunch, I cannot. I'm Negro. And where I go, White people don't go there.' I said, 'What? I read the Good Book, and Lincoln freed the slaves, and this is 1948, and you can't go to eat where I go? Isn't somebody doing something about this?' She said, 'Yeah, well maybe the Urban League and the NAACP.' I said, 'Well, how about I get in touch with them?' I'd only been in this country less than two weeks. Finally, I went to where she went to eat. I asked her, 'Can I please go with you?' And I ate chitlins for the first time. I never heard of chitlins before. That was the beginning of me getting involved in civil rights issues."
* Marco Pannella, Italian civil liberties champion, 86. He served in the parliament for nearly two decades, and though officially he was never very powerful, he was disproportionately influential, and many credit him with being personally responsible for changing the debate on divorce and abortion - and other issues - that led to far-reaching liberal changes. "A one-man party of irrepressible energy, who never gathered more than a handful of votes (3.4% in 1979 was the best result), he was never far from the limelight, galvanising his followers and attracting the odium of much of respectable Catholic society. Yet the tributes following his death temporarily united the entire Italian political spectrum, the anti-clericals as well as the pope, the right as well as the left, the pacifists as well as the 'liberal' interventionists - all joining in praising the exceptional life of a man who had done his best to annoy all of them, though never at the same time. Pannella's longevity was remarkable considering that he had endured several debilitating hunger strikes (the most recent, in 2011, in protest against prison conditions, lasted three months), had a quadruple heart bypass in 1998, and smoked almost continuously throughout his life."
* Mr. Ed's best friend Wilber, Alan Young dies at 96. His other genre credits include The Time Machine and numerous cartoon voices.
* Mr. Ed, first episode.
* Mister Ed's Christmas Story

These cops are tired of white people getting freaked out by their black neighbors: "So I'm working last week and get dispatched to a call of 'Suspicious Activity.' Ya'll wanna know what the suspicious activity was? Someone walking around in the dark with a flashlight and crow bar? Nope. Someone walking into a bank with a full face mask on? Nope. It was two black males who were jump starting a car at 930 in the morning. That was it. Nothing else. Someone called it in."

It's been disorienting over the last 15 years to realize that Barney Frank can no longer be deemed a progressive - sure, he's gay, but without him how could Dodd-Frank have been such weak tea? Oh, well, I'm sure the financial industry could have gotten some other "progressive" Democrat to co-sponsor it.

McJoan reviews Dday's Chain of Title: "Dayen knows you're going to be filled with impotent fury at the very unsatisfying ending, so he gives you a silver lining. 'Without the foreclosure fraud movement,' he writes, 'there is no Occupy Wall Street; there is no Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party; there is no student debt movement, or low-wage worker movement, or movement to transfer money to credit unions and community banks.' That's all true, but because this is the story of these three individuals who gave up so much of their lives in this fight, the real happy ending is that they overcame the shame and the isolation and the feeling of personal failure their foreclosures brought them. They overcame it not just personally, but for all the people who were cheated by their banks and lost everything. They created a community and gave regular people the power to fight back."

Geoff Beckman made a comment on Facebook I thought would have made a good blogpost, so since he doesn't have a blog, I made it into a blog post at the other weblog and called it, "Fight to lose, or fight to win."

Revealed: How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet: Writing a bad review online has always run a small risk of opening yourself up to a defamation claim. But few would expect to be told that they had to delete their review or face a lawsuit over another part of the law: copyright infringement. Yet that's what happened to Annabelle Narey after she posted a negative review of a building firm on Mumsnet."

Good Housekeeping says, "Study Proves Spanking Hurts Your Kids' Mental Health [...] Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan used data on more than 150,000 children over a 50-year period to come up with a fairly damning conclusion: Spanking is linked to aggression, antisocial behavior, mental health problems, cognitive difficulties, low self-esteem, and a whole host of other negative outcomes. As for the upsides, there were absolutely zero - the practice revealed no redeeming effects but consistently strong links to 13 bad ones."

"Device used in Nazi coding machine found for sale on eBay: Rare Lorenz teleprinter, part of Hitler's encryption equipment, snapped up by National Museum of Computing."

Ars Technica: "William Gibson has written a comic called Archangel, and you should read it."

"When This Boat Crew Realized What They Were Seeing, It Was Almost Too Late To Escape." A rare event and a rarer sighting, with lots of pictures.

Darth by Darthwest stars one of my favorites.

Fellowship of the Nerds

18:40 GMT comment


Thursday, 19 May 2016

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?

Sanders outperforms the polls in the West Virginia primary, which always had him ahead, but not as high as 51.4%-35.8%. Still, that state is not likely to go blue, although there hasn't been enough polling to have a clue.
* Jedediah Purdy, "What West Virginia is saying at the polls"

In Oregon and Kentucky, Sanders wins in the west 54.5%-45.5%, and Clinton narrowly takes KY 46.8%-46.3% (amidst many charges of fraud) after spending a lot of money there and continuing to tell that lie about how Sanders voted against the auto industry bailout. The only Oregon poll at RCP had Clinton at +15, so this is a happy result. Can't find any polls at all for KY.

But what really happened at the Nevada Democratic convention? There are claims of violence, threatened violence, and people complaining merely because they didn't get their way, but I've seen no evidence of the former and it sure looks like the woman chairing simply picked her favorite results for voice votes. Wild claims have been made about Sanders' supporters reacting with violence and throwing chairs, although there is no evidence of it. Sanders disavowed violence and then was accused of not disavowing violence. Even Van Jones is disgusted with the DNC's reaction: "I don't think that that was wise for her to do that. First of all, Bernie did say in his statement that he was against the violence. Also, if you want to talk about violence, only one person's been arrested; it was a Hillary Clinton supporter, Wendell Pierce, arrested for assaulting a Sanders supporter."
* Bernie Sanders' statement
* More details at Naked Capitalism.

So now it's time for that old dance about whether Hillary will deign to debate in California. From the San Francisco Chronicle, "Sanders steps up in California - will Clinton?"
* "Sanders pushes Clinton for debate in California: In a Wednesday afternoon statement, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the Vermont senator has accepted an invitation from Fox News to debate 'with the understanding that we can reach mutual agreement on the debate moderators, the format and other details.'"

The big arguments now are about just how narrow the path is for Sanders to win the nomination, whether he should, whether the superdelegates should vote for Sanders because current polling says he is most like to win the general or whether they should go with the candidate who has the most votes, whether Sanders can win once the Republicans find themselves faced with such a prospect. It still doesn't look like either candidate will reach the convention with the minimum number of required delegates, so it does seem like things will be contentious one way or the other. There's a lot of optimism in the Sanders camp about the rest of the west coast going the way of Washington, but I just don't see it: Hilary has been consistently ahead in California, where it looked for a while that the gap was narrowing but that trend reversed around the first of May. Clinton is way out ahead in New Jersey, too.
* National polling for the general election, though, seems to be all in favor of Sanders, and some would say that only Sanders would be a sure thing. But that presupposes that the GOP (and Democratic establishment) won't pull some rabbits out of their hats. Judging by some of the things I've seen from pro-Clinton Sanders-haters, that could be pretty creepy, because for Democrats, these people sound pretty right-wing - but they're Clintonites. It would be one thing if they were saying that he'd been too complimentary toward Castro in the past, but they aren't just saying these things might hurt him with Republicans, they are foaming at the mouth that he objected to US support for the Contras, which is a mighty strange thing for "progressives" to be angry at him for.
* "Dead heat: Trump, Clinton tied in 3 swing-state polls" - Sanders has been consistently beating Trump in all three states. This kind of thing keeps giving Seth Abramson dreams, but they rely on wins for Sanders in California and New Jersey, and I don't see that happening. He has some good points, though: "Clinton and the DNC Are Not Just Colluding - They're Changing the Rules for Superdelegates" - because it's still their job to get a Democrat elected, not just nominated.
* Meanwhile, the GOP is in the acceptance phase, and they're ready to rally around the candidate. Well, most of them.

Marcy Wheeler is probably the smartest analyst of foreign policy working today, and in her two most recent appearances on Virtually Speaking, she made some very important comments on the fantastical, expensive, and extremely dangerous foreign policy approach of Hillary Clinton. The first of these was a a couple of weeks ago with Jay Ackroyd, and the second was Virtually Speaking Sundays where they were joined by Avedon Carol (who accidentally said "Goldwater" when she meant "Rockerfeller" at the '68 GOP convention). Marcy noted that Clinton just gave the best reason to let Chelsea Manning out of jail - without knowing it.
* Jay also spoke to Lawrence R. Jacobs about Fed Power: How Finance Wins. The Fed is pretty murky to most people and most don't realize that we've essentially got an unelected body that has commandeered what were supposed to be the prerogatives of Congress - and they have no accountability and are under no control.

Wise words from Atrios on Incrementalism.

"Pollster Stan Greenberg Urges Democrats Not To Run For Obama's 'Third Term': Bill Clinton's former pollster thinks it's a mistake for Democratic presidential candidates to essentially run for President Barack Obama's 'third term.' 'That's not what the country wants. It's not what the base of the Democratic Party wants,' said longtime Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, whose past clients include Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. 'The Democratic Party is waiting for a president who will articulate the scale of the problems we face and challenge them to address it.' Greenberg thinks it's time to go bigger."

"Court Backs Snowden, Strikes Secret Laws: In a major vindication for Edward Snowden -- and a blow for the national security policy pursued by Republicans and Democrats alike -- the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Thursday that the National Security Agency's metadata collection program is unlawful. This is the most serious blow to date for the legacy of the USA Patriot Act and the surveillance overreach that followed 9/11. The central question depended on the meaning of the word "relevant": Was the government's collection relevant to an investigation when it collects all the metadata for any phone call made to or from anywhere in the U.S.?"

Am I the only one who thinks Comey is having too much fun with this cat-and-mouse game? "FBI head challenges Clinton's description of email probe: The head of the FBI on Wednesday appeared to challenge Hillary Clinton's characterization of the federal investigation into her private email server. Clinton and her allies have repeatedly called the probe a routine 'security inquiry.' But Director James Comey told reporters that wasn't an accurate description. "It's in our name. I'm not familiar with the term 'security inquiry,' " Comey said at a roundtable with reporters, according to Politico. 'We're conducting an investigation ... That's what we do,' he said, according to Fox News. Comey reportedly declined to say whether or not the investigation is 'criminal' in nature."

"Is There A Better Poster Child For A Culture Of Corruption Than Debbie Wasserman Schultz?"

"Hillary Clinton to form "Republicans for Hillary" group to exploit furore over Donald Trump ."

Alex Pareen, "Don't Blow This [...] Democrats could, for example, take their famously thin-skinned opponent, who is easily provoked into absurd and unpresidential tantrums when his insecurities are mocked, and they could bestow upon him a nickname that instead serves to reinforce his own (imagined) toughness. They could call him, I don't know, 'Dangerous Donald.'" Personally, I thought they should have gone with "Dainty Donald" - both a reference to his hands and to that maiden-aunt performance when he apparently couldn't cope with the idea that Hillary Clinton went to the loo.

Read about Nicole Sandler's experience of running to be a Sanders delegate from Florida. It was not reassuring. But I think she comes to the wrong conclusion - they are perfectly happy to alienate anyone who doesn't support the status quo, and that's exactly why people need to stay in and fight them.

"Yes, Voters Really Are Angry and Anxious About the Unfairness of the Economy: There is a growing amount of contrarian analysis these days suggesting that Americans really aren't so angry about the economy after all, that what appears to be economic populism is really just a cover for racism, sexism or other cultural issues, and that ultimately the only thing the majority of voters really want is a stable technocrat who will keep the good times rolling while fixing some social issues. [...] To believe these things, of course, you would have to assume that voters aren't actually being inspired by the rhetoric and policy positions of Sanders and Trump but by other factors they're subtly tapping into. You would have to ignore most of the actual reasons given in interviews and focus groups by Sanders and Trump voters for why they support their candidates. You would have to ignore what they actually say in media comments sections and at various political forums. You would, in essence, have to ignore all the qualitative data in front of you showing what people say in their own words, in favor of polling data about their generic feelings about the economy or their own current personal economic situation."

David Dayen: "Donald Trump Is Right: Deficits Don't Matter [...] I'm almost certain that Donald Trump had no intention of stumbling into this philosophical debate, traditionally fought between the left and the far left. But his freewheeling style of political rhetoric often drops him into uncharted territory. In this case, Trump exposed an unsaid but prevalent conservative hypocrisy about deficits. As Cheney's quote about Reagan shows, Republicans habitually ignore deficits when they obtain power. It's a matter of convenience, a tempting way out of the fiscal responsibility trap that makes it difficult for politicians to keep their campaign promises. But every time a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama gets the keys to the Oval Office, Republicans flip the script, generating a sudden fear of mountains of debt. Congressman Paul Ryan has been claiming the U.S. is about to turn into Greece for eight years. A deficit hawk industry in Washington comes alive to tell the nation that we're broke. This creates practical constraints on liberal spending programs to help the poor and the elderly. Trump's comment that America can't default on its debt, and can money-print its way out of trouble, shreds that Republican playbook. Deficit fear-mongering loses its punch if the GOP's new leader dismisses an animating principle of how conservatives defend against social spending." I've been disappointed that Sanders has never brought this up, but he seems to prefer to stay within conventional frames, even though he has had Stephanie Kelton working with him. But I also found it interesting that this article appeared in The New Republic.

"New Democrats Still Partying Like It's 1999: The Mark Warner Edition [...] Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called on an audience of business and political elites earlier this week to respond to populist anger by lobbying harder for a deficit-reduction package that would reduce corporate tax rates and cut public retirement programs such as Social Security." Your DLC, still at work despite officially disbanding in 2011.

"Rather Than Campaign As Liberal Alternative To Trump, Clinton To Run As Smarter Republican [...] The strategy will not only allow Clinton to be her authentic political self again, but it will also end the charade of moving to the left to appease supporters of her opponent, Bernie Sanders. It would also diminish any confusion over whether Clinton is anything more than a corporate Democrat, who progressives should approach with great skepticism and opposition."

Democratic Convention Hosted by Republican Donors, Anti-Obamacare Lobbyists [..] The composition of the 15-member Host Committee may appear out of sync with the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but the reality is that the party, in the form of the Democratic National Committee, has moved decisively to embrace the lobbying industry. In October 2015, DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., reportedly huddled with dozens of lobbyists to plan the convention in Philadelphia, and provided the influence peddlers involved with a menu of offerings in exchange for donations. In February, news reports revealed that the DNC had quietly lifted the Obama-era ban on federal lobbyist donations to the party and convention committee."

Meanwhile in Florida, it's pretty rich Harry Reid getting on a high horse about Alan Grayson's alleged ethics (that aren't being investigated because the ethics committee could find no There there) when his own Golden Boy in Florida, "ex"-Republican Patrick Murphy, stinks to high Heaven. For that matter, so does Reid.

"Ending Tax Break for Ultrawealthy May Not Take Act of Congress [..] In one deft move, Mr. Obama could instruct officials at his Treasury Department to close the so-called carried interest tax loophole that allows managers of private equity and hedge funds to pay a substantially lower federal tax rate on much of their income."

Change you can't believe: "The Obama Administration Just Granted Henry Kissinger a Distinguished Public Service Award." I guess he needs us to forgive famous war criminals so we might forgive him, too. Oh, and make Clinton look better, after she embraced Kissinger.

"Ala. gov. signs two antiabortion-rights bills; ACLU of Alabama pledges legal challenge."

"A master teacher went to court to challenge her low evaluation. What her win means for her profession."

"Lawsuit accuses Flint mayor of trying to redirect water crisis donors to campaign fund."

"Wall Street Money: Barney Frank To Oversee Democratic Platform While Running Big Bank."

"This isn't how a democracy should work: How the media boosted Donald Trump and screwed Bernie Sanders: Voters want change. Elites in D.C. and the media -- both liberal and conservative -- are actively obstructing it. [...] In his book Democracy, Inc., the late, distinguished political scientist Sheldon Wolin has argued that we have a 'managed democracy,' that elite 'management' of elections is the key to perpetuating the 'primal myth' that the people determine the rulers. As Wolin put it, this 'antidemocracy' doesn't attack the idea of government by the people, it encourages 'civic demobilization' - conditioning the electorate to be aroused for a brief spell, controlling its attention span, and then encouraging distraction or apathy."

"For 40 Years, Liberals Have Accepted Defeat and Called It 'Incremental Progress.' [...] For most of the Left, Clinton-style 'incrementalism' is just a code word to disguise what is effectively a right-wing retrenchment. Nevertheless many self-identified progressives have backed Clinton's 'theory of politics' as the most realistic path to achieve Sanders's objectives. [..] 'There are those timid souls who say this battle cannot be won; that we are condemned to a soulless wealth,' declared Lyndon Johnson in 1964. 'I do not agree. We have the power to shape the civilization that we want.' Compare that to our current Democratic front-runner, whose most impassioned moment on the 2016 campaign trail came when she denounced single-payer health care as an idea 'that will never, ever come to pass.'"

"Bernie Sanders's Legacy? The Left May No Longer Need the Rich."

"Uber and Lyft's big new lie: Their excuse for avoiding regulation is finally falling apart: Did Lyft just admit it's a taxi company after all? Ridesharing companies pretend to be tech firms. They're not."

"Pfizer Blocks the Use of Its Drugs in Executions." This is interesting for a number of reasons. Not only is it surprising that Pfizer did something good, but it suggests a sea-change in how Pfizer is looking at the United States as a market - not so much for the number of dollars involved (which isn't that great), but for the willingness to play ball.

"Larry Summers is wrong. Harvard should be spending much, much more of its money." You can never have too many reminders of what a failure Larry Summers is in his alleged areas of expertise.

"Goodbye Middle Class: 51 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than 30,000 Dollars A Year: We just got more evidence that the middle class in America is dying. According to brand new numbers that were just released by the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all workers in the United States make less than $30,000 a year. Let that number sink in for a moment. You can't support a middle class family in America today on just $2,500 a month - especially after taxes are taken out. And yet more than half of all workers in this country make less than that each month. In order to have a thriving middle class, you have got to have an economy that produces lots of middle class jobs, and that simply is not happening in America today."
* RJ Eskow, "What's Killing the American Middle Class?: A new study by the Pew Research Center spurred a rash of headlines last week about 'the dying middle class.' But the word 'dying' might be more appropriate if we were watching the regrettable but inevitable effects of natural forces at work. We're not. We're seeing the fruits of deliberate action - and sometimes of deliberate inaction - at the highest levels of power."

David Dayen: "The Bright, Techy Future of Banking Just Crashed: LendingClub's Crisis Confirms the Worst Fears About Fintech"

"9/11 commissioner leaks damning new info: Saudi government officials supported the hijackers: The 9/11 hijackers had support from Saudi government employees, said a former Republican official who investigated the attacks - and he wants the Obama administration to release evidence to prove it. John Lehman, an investment banker and Navy secretary in the Reagan administration, said his fellow 9/11 commission members had helped to obscure Saudi links to the 2001 terrorist attacks, reported The Guardian."

Department of misleading headlines: "CSU student sues college for sanctioning him for what he calls consensual sex: A Colorado State University-Pueblo student filed a federal lawsuit against the university and the U.S. Department of Education claiming sexual discrimination after he was sanctioned for a sexual act that he and his girlfriend insist was consensual sex." That phrase "and his girlfriend" makes all the difference there, doesn't it?

Dday's Chain of Title reviewed in The New York Times: "Exposing those lies becomes a moral crusade. The homeowners' stories are emotional roller coasters, which Dayen meticulously reports. He and his characters find the banks' behavior not just indefensible but criminal. Prepare to be surprised, and angry."

"Washington Post Squeezes Four Anti-Sanders Stories Out of One Tax Study Over Seven Hours" - and it's another "study" that pretends single-payer costs more than what we have now, rising like a zombie to campaign for Clinton in it's rotting corpse. "Why would so much ink be spilled on a candidate who, by the Post's estimation, can't possibly win? The objective is, of course, to further stigmatize Sanders' ideas and platform goals - all of which are deeply antithetical to the editorial and financial bottom line of the paper and its sole owner, Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is over $45 billion."

"The sorry facts which show the BBC has moved beyond bias, into pure propaganda"

RIP:
* "Michael Ratner, Lawyer Who Won Rights for Guantánamo Prisoners, Dies at 72 [...] As head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner oversaw litigation that, in effect, voided New York City's wholesale stop-and-frisk policing tactic. The center also accused the federal government of complicity in the kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects and argued against the constitutionality of warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency, the waging of war in Iraq without the consent of Congress, the encouragement of right-wing rebels in Nicaragua and the torture at the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq war."
* William Schallert, 93, Dies; Prolific Actor Was Father on The Patty Duke Show and actors' union leader who appeared in nearly everything else, too. His list of sf genre credits alone is longer than most actors' entire careers, but he was in everything our whole lives. (Except, for some reason, M*A*S*H. I was honestly shocked not to see it on his IMDB page.)

"Burying the White Working Class: Liberal condescension towards white workers is code for a broader anti-working class agenda."

"Why Employers Love Advocating Self-Care"

"Misperceiving Bullshit as Profound Is Associated with Favorable Views of Cruz, Rubio, Trump and Conservatism

"Who edited Shakespeare?"

"Meet the Woman Who Invented Cosplay: Myrtle R. Douglas, otherwise known as Morojo, rarely gets the credit she deserves for the worldwide phenomenon. [...] For more than 10 years Morojo and Ackerman were an inseparable, intellectually compatible dream duo, and 1939 was an especially big year for the pair: they started their first major zine together, jointly financed the publication of teenage Ray Bradbury's first sci-fi zine, and attended the first-ever World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) wearing "futuristicostumes" straight out of the 1936 H.G. Wells movie Things to Come - the FIRST FAN COSTUMES EVER WORN IN RECORDED HISTORY."

An interview with Uncle Ted in The Falls Church News-Press, "F.C.'s Ted White Reflects on Comics, Sci-Fi and the Little City."

Wire sculpture art and perspective
* "Why do all old statues have such small penises?" (NSFW)

The lost Twilight Zone episode - starring Jack Benny.

David Gilmour Wish you were here live unplugged

18:56 GMT comment


Monday, 09 May 2016

Jealous night and all her secret courts

David Dayen's book, Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud, is being released this month and you should buy it. Readers of this blog know that Dday is not simply the best reporter on the banking scandal to come out of the blogosphere, but one of the very best anywhere, and this book is the story of how the bankers broke the cadaster - the record of property ownership - and how a nurse, a car dealership worker, and a forensic expert got together to investigate and expose it.

Nate Silver gave Hillary Clinton a 90% chance of winning Indiana, but Bernie took the state, 52.5%- 47.5%. This sent the Clinton partisans into a frenzy of insistence that Sanders couldn't win and he should drop out now

"After Bitter Tuesday, Progressives Ask Democratic Party What It Stands For [...] At a union hall in Prince George's County Tuesday night, Edwards gave a passionate concession speech that criticized the Democratic Party's faux-progressive mantle. 'To my Democratic Party, you cannot show up in churches before election day, you cannot sing the first and last verse of 'Lift Every Voice and Sing,' you cannot join hands and walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and call that post-racial and inclusion,' she said to cheers and applause. 'To my Democratic Party, let me say that today Maryland is on the verge of having an all-male delegation in a so-called progressive state. So what I want to know from my Democratic Party, is when will the voices of people of color, when will the voices of women, when will the voices of labor, when will the voices of black women, when will our voices be effective, legitimate, equal leaders in a big-tent party?' she said."

"If Clinton Wins, She Plans To Put Bill To Work on Trade: 'He's Gotta Be In Charge Of This'" - Oh. My. God.

"Schmidt: There Will Be An Organized Effort By Clinton To Grab The Republican Foreign Policy Establishment: Men and women who served in senior positions, in national security positions, in Republican administrations. The Clinton campaign's going to go after them. They're going to go after them forcefully. And I think you look ahead now in the weeks to come. As Hillary Clinton moves beyond the Bernie Sanders challenge for the moment for Hillary Clinton to address Republicans in this country."

David Dayen in The New Republic, "Why Hillary Clinton Won't Offer a Bold Economic Agenda [...] A coalition of professionals, minorities, and people freaked out about the prospect of a Trump presidency will likely amount to a majority of Americans for this election. But it isn't a majority that's going to push a Clinton presidency to prioritize the struggles of the working class. And I don't know if there's a way to change that, to turn an election featuring Donald Trump into an election about ideas. During the primary, Clinton memorably asked, 'If we broke up the big banks tomorrow... would that end racism?' Set aside the fact that racism was at the heart of the subprime mortgage crisis, when toxic loans were handed out disproportionately to African-Americans. Clinton's question reveals a clever way to opt out of this dilemma of how to properly credit Obama's economic gains in an age of inequality, when all those gains go to the top. She can find other points of emphasis, enough to win a general election. But failing to address the real economic pains felt by large swaths of the country will not only exact a political price down the line, it will ensure that those pains continue far beyond when they could have been eased."

"Jane Sanders: If Bernie loses, we'll form a new organization."
* "This is what the revolution looks like: Former Sanders staffers are launching a new PAC aimed at midterm Congressional elections: The ambitious new plan by Bernie staffers is a giant leap in guaranteeing his movement endures." Um, maybe, unless it just means electing more lackluster Dems.

Matt Yglesias says, "Bernie Sanders is (still) the future of the Democratic Party" - it's in the numbers.

But before any eulogies are written, here's some optimism from John Laurits, who says, "This is What Will Happen at the Democratic Convention [...] It has even become something of a weekly occurrence for Hillary Clinton and her Wallstreet-backed campaign to imply, insinuate, or flat-out demand that Sanders withdraw his bid for the nomination - they are growing increasingly indignant about the fact that Sanders is trying to win. Which brings us to the heart of the issue - can Bernie Sanders - can we - win the delegates needed for the nomination? The answer to this question is as simple as it is misleading - No. No, my friends, we cannot. And yet! And yet, neither can Hillary Clinton - and I am going to show you what the media is willfully hiding from you. I am going to show you why, using the one thing that even the media can't hide: Math."

Department of Dreamers: "Hey, Hillary: Let's make a (new) deal! How moderates and progressives can unite." This doesn't seem likely when you see stories like this: "Clinton to take hard line with Sanders, say allies [...] Clinton supporters argue the former secretary of State has already been forced to the left by Sanders, and can't risk moving further ahead of a general election. 'I don't know what's left to extract,' Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), a Clinton supporter, said in an interview with The Hill. He said the Democratic primary moved the discussion 'farther to the left than most moderate Democrats would like to see.'" Which puts "moderate" Democrats farther to the right than most of the country. Okay...
* Gaius Publius expected this. Certainly nothing I'm seeing says he's wrong.
* I can't escape the feeling that Benjamin Studebaker is looking at him through rose-colored glasses, but there's a lot to consider in, "Clinton Supporters are Scaremongering about Donald Trump to Silence the Concerns of the Young and the Poor: I started seeing it a few weeks ago, when Daily Kos told its contributors that after March 15th, they were no longer allowed to robustly criticize Hillary Clinton from the left. As Donald Trump continues to win, win, and win some more, it has only intensified. First they asked Bernie Sanders supporters to unite behind Clinton. Now they're accusing Sanders supporters of being privileged if they resist. And from there, it's just a small step to calling Sanders' people enablers of racism, sexism, or even fascism. If you haven't seen these arguments yet, you will soon. The arguments being peddled are very poorly constructed. They rely on a mix of fear and bias toward the near. [...] But left egalitarianism is not the only alternative to neoliberalism on the menu. Donald Trump offers right nationalism as an alternative, and his alternative has proven very compelling. Right nationalism acknowledges the economic problems people face, but its solutions are much more bellicose and divisive. Right nationalists believe that we are being taken advantage of by somebody, usually somebody foreign. Many people think that Trump is popular because of his personality, but the Trump persona is gift-wrapping a product, and that product is the idea that foreigners are the reason you've been getting a raw economic deal. So Trump says that immigrants are taking your jobs and driving down your wages. Like Sanders, he also goes after bad trade deals. Many countries now have political parties that market right nationalism as an alternative to neoliberalism. There's National Front in France, UKIP in Britain, the Alternative for Germany, Golden Dawn in Greece, and the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, among others. Many of the leaders of these European right nationalist parties have endorsed Trump. What he is selling is not new or even uniquely American. All of these parties market themselves by telling working people that their grievances are real and offering them solutions. The solutions are terrible, but because the left has become so impotent in most of the western world today, right nationalist parties tend to do much better with these groups than leftist parties. Clinton supporters want you to believe that if Donald Trump gets elected, it would be some kind of massive disaster, that he might start a nuclear war or enact policies that are immensely damaging to marginalized groups. This is all based on the idea that Trump is some kind of insane person. But while many right nationalist politicians are true believers who have consistently expressed abhorrent views, we have strong reasons to think that Donald Trump is exploiting the right nationalist playbook for personal gain. This becomes clear when we look at the history of things he said and did before he became a presidential candidate." Yes, it's true that Trump didn't used to sound this right-wing, and, frankly, it was unclear whether he felt any significant ties to either party. And yes, it does seem he is playing the Republicans because he knows how to game them. There's an undercurrent on the net of people (from both parties) who wonder whether Trump didn't get into the race to make it easy for Clinton to win. I do hear people worrying that Trump will do things that he just can't do, and I also hear them worrying that he will do things that Clinton is actually more likely to do. But I am not all relaxed about a Trump presidency, either. Still, there's something to be said for this: "But while Donald Trump is not a right nationalist, he is marketing himself as if he is one and most people believe he is one. He's choosing to do this for strategic reasons - he recognizes that the public increasingly holds the neoliberal consensus exemplified by the establishments of both parties in contempt. The anger they feel toward neoliberal establishment figures is so intense that they welcome it when Trump openly bullies members of the establishment on national television. The American people loved watching Jeb Bush go down in flames and the internet mocked him harshly" And this: "Hillary Clinton's net favorability rating has been continuously falling for a couple years now, and Trump hasn't even started in on her in earnest yet. She's currently at -13.0. This is only going to get worse. Clinton is unpopular not because she's a woman (she was a woman in January 2013, when she was much more popular) but because she's part of the neoliberal establishment. As economic conditions have continued to stagnate or deteriorate for many Americans, their anger toward this establishment continues to increase, and the ability of left egalitarian and right nationalist candidates to effectively channel this anger continues to grow." Sure, but I'm not sure Trump can do anything to counteract his own negatives by November, so he still looks the weaker candidate to me. However, here's a point I agree with so much that I'm even gonna boldface it: "But let's say you don't buy this. Let's say that you think that no matter what, Clinton is always going to be a more competitive candidate than Sanders in 2016. Let's say that you don't buy my argument that we don't really know what Trump will do, that you remain convinced he is absolutely deadly. None of this changes the fact that Clinton is a neoliberal and that neoliberalism is failing too many people too conspicuously. Even if Clinton wins in 2016, continued neoliberal policies are going to continue to build anger, and if the left doesn't develop a left egalitarian alternative to neoliberalism to channel that anger constructively, the right nationalists will become the only vehicle through which anyone can express serious effective dissent. Over time, this will strengthen the right nationalists until they do win, and when they win they might not be led by Trump but instead by a true believer, someone who is absolutely committed to every right nationalist principle - someone like Ted Cruz."
* Not sure who this writer at Political Reads is, but it's quite a fancy. "Super Delegates Will Write History by Nominating Sanders in Philadelphia [...] However, the purpose of the minority power is not to elect a candidate. Rather, they were designed to prevent a loss in a general election, a proverbial safety valve to circumvent an obviously weak candidate. This is the superdelegate's role in the Democratic nomination process: they are independent judges that only emerge in marginal contests. Their function is to secure a nomination based upon available data and a completed primary map. Their sole task is to identify and eliminate the candidate that controls a frenzied base, yet fails to connect outside of their stronghold. They're designed to stop a candidate like Hillary Clinton. The control Clinton has over the Democratic base is frightening. Obvious vulnerabilities that would end any other candidate's presidential bid are overlooked and dismissed by her loyalist support. Face it. Whenever drastic unfavorability, distrust, and a possible FBI indictment fail to internally dismiss a party's candidate, you're not dealing with a potential nominee. You're describing the leader of a cult, the very thing superdelegates were designed to prevent." Rumor has it that the superdelegates are actually leaning toward Biden, so I don't think so.

Meanwhile, Cory Robin reckons the Clinton-Trump race would be like 1972 - and "Hillary Clinton is a modern-day Richard Nixon."

"What Florida New Dem Patrick Murphy Did To Undermine Hillary Clinton: On May 8, 2014, the Republicans rammed through a resolution to establish the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, a committee specifically designed as a witch hunt to drag Hillary Clinton through the mud and sully her name before the 2016 presidential election. Every single Republican voted YES (225 of them) and 186 Democrats voted NO. Seven of the worst Democrats in the House-- the ones who consistently vote for Boehner's agenda day in and day out-- crossed the aisle and voted with the Republicans." And one of them was Murphy, the guy Chuck Schumer is running against Grayson.
* And in the House, John Delaney (MD-06) and Dan Lipinski (IL-03) voted with Republicans to siphon funds out of DC public schools and into a voucher system.

"Is Social Media Empowering or Silencing Political Expression in the United States?" Not sure how good this poll is but it's kind of interesting anyway.

Mike Bloomberg gives a speech, and Bill Black takes it apart: "Bloomberg Tells Michigan Grads They Must Defeat Bernie's Plan to Jail Wall Street Felons: Michael Bloomberg has just published, in Bloomberg, what he describes as 'an adaptation of an address to the University of Michigan's class of 2016.' Having graduated twice from Michigan, as did our eldest, I was intrigued. Bloomberg's title was 'Here's Your Degree. Now Go Defeat Demagogues.' What Bloomberg means is that he is frightened that so many young people supported the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement and support Bernie Sanders. I've written before about Bloomberg, a Wall Street billionaire, and the myths he tries to spread about Bernie. Wall Street elites fear Bernie. They know he won't take their money, he will end the systemically dangerous banks, and he will imprison their leading felons. Bloomberg's hate for, and fear of, Bernie is perfectly rational. Why he thinks that Michigan students will take his advice and learn to love Wall Street's felons is a lot less clear." Bloomberg decried students who worry about racism and sexism, but it looks like the real threat that worries him is that someone might impose responsibility on the financial industry. Black notes that Bloomberg's own paper contains many article showing just why such regulation should be imposed. The Bloomberg context of Bloomberg's speech to the Michigan grads demonstrates that Bloomberg is indeed open to different ideas. Each of the seven articles I cited that accompanied his printed version of his speech is supported by citations of facts from experts - and proves that Bernie is right about the critical need to restore the rule of law and morality in order to end Wall Street's corrupt culture. Demagogues are the folks who ignore the facts and data and make biased assertions that just happen to be in their personal and commercial self-interest. That makes Bloomberg the demagogue."
* Gail Collins repeats the usual mantra of Hillary Clinton's supposed history as a progressive fighter, but it's thinner than you think. Her first professional job was one year at the sChildren's Defense Fund, and then she went on to Rose Law Firm. "Hillary's fight for 'better schools in Arkansas' included a war on the state's teachers' union, making her a pioneer of neoliberal education reform, which holds teachers' unions in deep contempt. The school reform initiative, which Hillary led, imposed competency tests on teachers. That act that was widely seen as racist because the teaching corps was disproportionately black, earning the enmity of civil rights organizations in the state. According to Carl Bernstein, this criticism 'deeply pained' Bill and Hillary, but not enough to make them rethink the struggle. As for making the union the enemy, Bernstein noted that 'the ASTA [Arkansas State Teachers Association] was not exactly the antichrist, and in fact had done some pretty good things in a state where the legislature had typically accorded more attention to protecting the rights of poultry farmers to saturate half of Arkansas's topsoil with chicken feces than providing its children with a decent education.'" Her alleged advocacy for reproductive rights has never impressed me, either (her sole objection to proposed Republican legislation banning late-term abortion is that it omitted exceptions for life and health of the mother), and I'm still waiting to see her actually do anything for women. And, seriously, you have to be stupid not to realize that cutting off welfare hurts women and families - how can anyone ever have defended welfare reform?
* In which Katha Pollit doesn't get it: "Why Bernie Didn't Get My Vote: It's not his focus on the economy - it's that he doesn't seem to understand that the economy is structured by gender and race." Apparently, Bernie gave insufficient lip-service to "gender" issues, so she - well, wait, she's been voicing her support for Clinton all along, it obviously had nothing to do with anything Sanders did or didn't do during the campaign. Throwing in a little red-baiting for the "electability" argument, she still can't defend her belief that Clinton's poor lip-service to issues of racism and sexism is somehow superior to Sanders' obvious understanding that having an equal shot at no money, no jobs, and no hope is not exactly keeping your eyes on the prize.
* Andrew Sullivan has returned to blogging, and The Rude One is unimpressed. While it is indisputable that Sullivan has things entirely wrong, I won't say His Rudeness has things entirely right - except for that last paragraph.
* Anis Shivani was also inspired by the re-emergence of Andrew Sullivan, to write a righteous rant, "Our awful elites gutted America. Now they dare ring alarms about Trump, Sanders - and cast themselves as saviors : Both parties ignored workers, spewed hate, enriched themselves, hollowed out democracy. Now the problem's populism? [...] To manipulate them, the Democratic and Republican elites have both played a double game for forty years and have gotten away with it. They have incrementally yet quite comprehensively seized all economic and political power for themselves. They have perverted free media and even such basics of the democratic process as voting and accountability in elections. Elites on both sides have collaborated to engineer a revolution of economic decline for the working person, until the situation has reached unbearable proportions. The stock market may be doing well, and unemployment may theoretically be low, but people can't afford housing and food, they can't pay back student loans and other debts, their lives, wherever they live in this transformed country, are full of such misery that there is not a single word that an establishment candidate like Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush says that makes sense to them."

Thomas Frank, "Why must the Trump alternative be self-satisfied, complacent Democrats? [...] Seven years have passed now since the last recession officially ended, and yet the country's fury has scarcely cooled. To this day we remain angry at Wall Street; we rage against career politicians; and we are incandescent that the economic system seems to have been permanently 'rigged' against working people. Median household income has still not recovered the levels of 2007. Wages are going nowhere. Elite bankers are probably never going to be held accountable for what they did. America is burning. Listening to the leading figures of the Democratic party establishment, however, you'd never know it. Cool contentment is the governing emotion in these circles. What they have in mind for 2016 is what we might call a campaign of militant complacency. They are dissociated from the mood of the nation, and they do not care.

"Donald Trump Isn't Going to Be President: He'd have to win unprecedented shares of the very kinds of voters who hate him: blacks, Latinos, and women."

Eugene Robinson says, "Trump understood the voters the GOP forgot," and he isn't just talking about racism: "This ideological disintegration has been years in the making. I believe one fundamental cause is that after winning the allegiance of millions of 'Reagan Democrats' - mostly white, blue-collar, and Southern or rural - the party stubbornly declined to take their economic interests into account."

With Kasich and Cruz both withdrawing to leave Trump with a clear field, some Republicans are endorsing Clinton, some are just opposing Trump, and some are Rush Limbaugh:
* "George Bush and George W. Bush say they refuse to support Donald Trump [...] And as it now stands, Donald Trump will be running as the 2016 republican nominee for President without the support of a single living republican President. In contrast, his opponent, democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, will have the support of at least two and likely all three living democratic Presidents. Interestingly George W. Bush's wife, First Lady Laura Bush, has made subtle hints that she may be leaning toward Hillary. This possibility may have just gotten easier now that her husband is rejecting the notion of siding with Trump."
* Former Bush White House staffer David Ross Meyers, "A message for my fellow Republicans: If you back Trump you will not be trusted again [...] This desire for control of the presidency, and the belief that any Republican is better than any Democrat, is why many Republicans are now embracing Trump. They claim that the GOP needs to coalesce behind Mr. Trump because he is a better alternative than Hillary Clinton. He is not."
* "Ross Douthat: Trump's victory proves part of conservatism 'was actually a racket'
* "Rush Limbaugh: Trump will beat Clinton by 'landslide proportions'."

Some interesting Gallup Poll opinions

Can you believe it? Only 16 years after the stolen election of 2000, "Members of Congress Call for End to Mass Voter Suppression and Insecure Elections."
* And I see Greg Palast had the same thought in this interview of voter purges.
* Lee Camp reckons the voting machines are rigged. Gosh, ya think?

"The Story of the Great Brooklyn Voter Purge Keeps Getting Weirder: The first head has rolled after more than 100,000 voters were mistakenly purged from the Brooklyn voter rolls ahead of this week's New York primary, which handed Hillary Clinton a much-needed win over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Diane Haslett-Rudiano, the chief clerk of the New York Board of Elections, was suspended "without pay, effective immediately, pending an internal investigation into the administration of the voter rolls in the Borough of Brooklyn," the agency said in a statement, according to the New York Daily News. Anonymous city elections officials said Haslett-Rudiano, who was in charge of the city's Republican voter rolls, had been "scapegoated," according to the New York Post. "It sounds like they cut a deal to make the Republican the scapegoat and protect Betty Ann," an anonymous Democratic elected official from Brooklyn told the Post, referring to Betty Ann Canizio, who was in charge of the Democratic voter rolls."

"Prominent Democratic Consultants Sign Up to Defeat Single Payer in Colorado: INFLUENTIAL DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANTS, some of whom work for the Super PACs backing Hillary Clinton, have signed up to fight a bold initiative to create a state-based single-payer system in Colorado, according to a state filing posted Monday. [...] The anti-single-payer effort is funded almost entirely by health care industry interests, including $500,000 from Anthem Inc., the state's largest health insurance provider; $40,000 from Cigna, another large health insurer that is current in talks to merge with Anthem; $75,000 from Davita, the dialysis company; $25,000 from Delta Dental, the largest dental insurer in the state; and $100,000 from SCL Health, the faith-based hospital chain."

"The Supreme Court Is Fixing To Let Political Corruption Run Rampant: Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was convicted by a federal jury in September 2014, after he was caught participating in one of the most cut-and-dry examples of cash-for-favors found in the political corruption textbook. Now, however, McDonnell's appeals have taken his case to the Supreme Court, where - believe it or not - a majority of justices seem predisposed to overturning his conviction, and decimating anti-corruption laws. [...] As The Huffington Post's Cristian Farias reported, McDonnell may well be on his way to a great escape, thanks to a majority of Supreme Court justices who seem, alternatively, amenable to McDonnell's point of view, and troubled that too many prosecutors might start taking up corruption cases" This is a straightforward case of bribery, but the Court seems to be unable to distinguish actual bribery from campaign contributions, even though no campaign contributions are involved. (You don't give someone a Rolex as a campaign contribution!) And I'm not just talking about Chief Justice Roberts, here - only Ginsberg and Sotomayor seem to see what's going on here.

"'We need fundamental changes': US doctors call for universal healthcare: More than 2,000 physicians want a single-payer system similar to Canada's and say the Affordable Care Act didn't go far enough."

"Tax Cheats Stick Honest Taxpayers with a $406 Billion Annual Tax Bill: A new report from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) estimates that the 'tax gap,' meaning the amount in taxes that are owed but go unpaid each year, was $406 billion on average between 2008-2010. This is a $406 billion cost that honest taxpayers are forced to make up for due to the illegal actions of individuals and corporations. While the $406 billion figure is rather staggering, many experts believe that this could be an understatement of the cost of tax evasion. In testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, Bob McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, explained that the IRS estimates likely underestimate the amount of income that individuals and corporations are able to evade by hiding their money in tax havens. It is also important to note that the vast majority of middle income taxpayers are not the ones evading taxes. That's mainly because they can't cheat even if they were so inclined. Employers must report wages to the IRS and remit withholding taxes. The majority of the tax gap ($247 billion) is due to underreporting of business income. [...] Providing the IRS with the resources it needs to do a better job cracking down on tax cheats would seem to be a no brainer, except to the brain dead members of Congress. According to one estimate, increasing funding for IRS enforcement, modernization and management systems can save the government $200 for every dollar invested. Rather than increasing the funding of the IRS to close the tax gap however, Congress has actually cut the IRS budget by 17 percent since 2010, after accounting for inflation. While cutting the IRS budget may appeal to members of Congress who are in favor of tax cheating, it's counterproductive in terms of deficit reduction and protecting honest taxpayers." But you knew that

"This Town Ran An Illegal Debtor's Prison For Years. Now It Has To Pay Back The People It Jailed. Colorado Springs will pay back destitute people it illegally jailed because they couldn't pay court fines, the city announced Thursday. The city will also discontinue its debtor's prison policy, which violated both the U.S. Constitution and a 2014 state law in Colorado. The system usually targeted non-jailable offenses like jaywalking, violating park curfews, or drinking in public.

"Financial frauds had a friend in Holder: Eric Holder was U.S. attorney general at a time when the world desperately needed the nation's chief law enforcement officer to hold accountable the elite bankers who oversaw the epidemic of fraud that drove the 2008 global financial crisis and triggered the Great Recession. After nearly six years in office, Holder announced on Sept. 25 that he plans to step down, without having brought to justice even one of the executives responsible for the crisis. His tenure represents the worst strategic failure against elite white-collar crime in the history of the Department of Justice (DOJ). "
* Matt Taibbi: "Eric Holder, Wall Street Double Agent, Comes in From the Cold: Eric Holder has gone back to work for his old firm, the white-collar defense heavyweight Covington & Burling. The former attorney general decided against going for a judgeship, saying he's not ready for the ivory tower yet. "I want to be a player," he told the National Law Journal, one would have to say ominously."

Even Brad DeLong can't make sense of TTP: "I am what Paul Krugman calls "Davos Man" to a substantial degree--a card-carrying neoliberal, a believer in globalization and free trade, someone who has seen more than enough of the stupidities of places like Berkeley and so doesn't mind hippy-punching now and then. As a believer in free-trade, in the importance of harmonizing global economic regulation, and in getting intellectual and general property rights right, I ought to be a very strong technocratic advocate for the TPP. Yet I found myself having major questions about it [...] Plus there is the big negotiating question: This is, primarily, a Republican priority. Why would a Democratic president put himself in the position of begging for Democratic legislative votes for a Republican priority, rather than demanding Republican policy concessions on issues of importance to Democrats in return for his signature?"
* TTIP, TISA Explained | Wikileaks | Jeremy Corbyn | Bernie Sanders | Julian Assange
* "Another Secret 'Trade' Deal Leaks, Shows Corporations Still In Control"

"'You want a description of hell?' OxyContin's 12-hour problem" - They knew many people would not get 12 hours of relief, but they didn't tell you that.

RIP: "Daniel J. Berrigan, Defiant Priest Who Preached Pacifism, Dies at 94: The Rev. Daniel J. Berrigan, a Jesuit priest and poet whose defiant protests helped shape the tactics of opposition to the Vietnam War and landed him in prison, died on Saturday in New York City. He was 94. His death was confirmed by the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large at America magazine, a national Catholic magazine published by Jesuits. Father Berrigan died at Murray-Weigel Hall, the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University in the Bronx." The Berrigans are who I always think of when I hear Paul Simon sing the words "the radical priests", but they were on the cover of Time, not Newsweek.
* Amy Goodman, "RIP Father Daniel Berrigan: Remembering the Life and Legacy of the Antiwar Priest and Poet"

"A World to Make: Eleven Theses for the Bernie Sanders Generation: 1. The Economy is About Power; 2. Expertise Is Not Legitimacy; 3. You're Allowed to Want Economic Security; 4. You Are More than Human Capital; 5. Solidarity Is Different from Hope; 6. Democracy Is More than Voting; 7. Not Everything Has to Be Earned; 8. Equal Treatment Is Not Enough; 9. We Need a Fight to Make Peace with the Planet; 10. We Have in Common What We Decide to Have in Common; 11. We Have a World to Make." Now read the rest.

It's been clear that nobody knows what you mean when you talk about neoliberalism, so Ed Waller rounded up some Recent Discussions of Neoliberalism by Corey Robin, Billmon, and others.

"Economists Ignore One of Capitalism's Biggest Problems: Banks create money out of nothing."

"Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously [...] What Amber explained was exactly what I'd feared: through the Apple Music subscription, which I had, Apple now deletes files from its users' computers. When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple's database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn't recognize - which came up often, since I'm a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself - it would then download it to Apple's database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted. [....] If Apple serves me my music, that means that when I don't have wifi access, I can't listen to it. When I say 'my music,' I don't just mean the music that, over twenty years (since before iTunes existed), I painstakingly imported from thousands of CDs and saved to my computer's internal hard drive. I also mean original music that I recorded and saved to my computer. Apple and wifi access now decide if I can hear it, and where, and when. [....] the only way to prevent this from happening over and over, according to Amber, was to cancel my subscription to Apple Music (which she herself doesn't use due to the above-listed reasons) and to make sure my iCloud settings did not include storing any music backups."

Lest we forget: Many people who pretend to be older and wiser assure me that it is a paranoid delusion on my part that Obama tried to cut Social Security. I'm too tired to search out a list of links regarding his attempt to get Congress to hold a "Deficit Commission" and, when that failed, his setting up his own "Deficit Commission" packed with people whose hobby-horse was privatizing, cutting, or killing Social Security. Or how he refused to simply allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on schedule and then used this as yet another set-up for his Grand Bargain. Or any of his other machinations to try to get his GB through. But someone reminded me of this one from 2013: "Reality Check: Obama Cuts Social Security and Medicare by Much More Than the GOP: Obama plans to cut between $200 billion and $380 billion more from Social Security and Medicare than Republicans in the next ten years."

"Bus Driver's Son Beats Billionaire's Son in London Mayoral Race: Sadiq Khan overcame the smear campaign leveled against him and Labour colleagues to take back the capital after eight years of Tory rule."
* "Finkelstein Breaks His Silence. Tells Holocaust-Mongers, 'It is time to crawl back into your sewer!': The American Jewish scholar behind Labour's 'antisemitism' scandal breaks his silence", discussing the dust-up about Naz Shah MP, Ken Livingstone, and the joint war on the Labour leadership by regular Tories and Blairites..

A lot of people have been angry at the way YouTube treats creators who use clips by fair use. But it looks like they are sort of changing the rules.

"Warner Bros Wins Battle For Channing Tatum's The Forever War [...] ...the feature adaptation of the popular sci-fi actioner The Forever War with Channing Tatum attached to star and Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Doctor Strange, Passengers) scripting.."

Patrick Leahy hasn't been much of a Senator since that assassination attempt put the fear into him, but at least he's a Batman fan.

Nice T-shirt

Steve Winwood, "Arc of a Diver"

03:55 GMT comment


Friday, 29 April 2016

If it's jug band music or rhythm and blues

Bernie didn't get his miracle in New York, where Hillary beat him 58%-42%. Sanders took most of the counties, but they aren't terribly populous, and Clinton took the city, where most people live. Unlike in so many places, Sanders underperformed the polls, although some people credit some interesting chicanery in Brooklyn, where over a hundred thousand people were oddly kicked off the rolls. Still, he did better than Obama did in 2008.
* Chris Lehman in The Baffler watched the spectacle of "Hillary's Courtiers: You could almost hear the great sigh of relief heaving across cable TV's green rooms and the news-curating portals of our media nation: sure, the Republican side of Campaign '16 continues to resemble a dumpster fire on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road, but the Democrats, bless their managerial hearts, had begun to show signs of what passes in these circles for political maturity. After a distressing series of primary contests falling to Bernie Sanders, the wild-eyed socialist insurgent, New York state - the very seat of media power - has heroically elevated the most experienced, the best-connected, the savviest, most lavishly moneyed Democratic aspirant to the presidency, one Hillary Rodham Clinton. Perhaps you've heard of her?"
* "Sanders Campaign's Commitment To Victory Irritates Media, Offends Clinton Campaign." Yes, every few weeks the Clinton campaign and the press crow that the primaries are over, even with half the delegates still to be voted on, but never mind that detail, let the coronation begin! Sure, it's harder for Bernie to make it to the nomination, but it's still technically possible, even though the likelihood does seem to dwindle. And there is something ironic about hearing the same refrains we heard in 2008, when it was Obama who needed to quit because he couldn't possibly win.

And then Maryland (63.0%-33.3%), Connecticut (51.7%-46.5%), Pennsylvania (55.6%-43.6%), Delaware (59.8%-39.2%) all went to Clinton on the same night, with only Rhode Island (55%-43.3%) going to Sanders. Although Sanders significantly outperformed polling expectations in RI, his showings in states that went to Clinton were for the most part unimpressive (PA, CT) and Clinton did even better in MD, and though there wasn't much polling in DE, she was way up on it. (I was a a little surprised by this, given all the little digs Biden has been making about Clinton and praise for Sanders, but then again, it is the credit card state.) Once again, there are claims of shenanigans.
* Then again, Bernie might somehow get Colorado since the Colorado Democratic Party admitted it screwed up.
* Apparently, an overzealous Clinton supporter also arranged to troll some pro-Sanders groups on Facebook and get them taken down - then gleefully crowed about it in a Clinton FB group..Of course, her fans kept it classy.

The Clinton folks have pretty much declared victory, so Kos decided they can play nice, now: "Clinton hasn't won, Sanders hasn't lost. This is bigger than any single primary. [...] If you are a Clinton supporter, have some damn compassion, will you? You haven't won yet. The primary? Who gives a shit! Donald Trump will win his too, and has he won shit yet? The real winner will get crowned in November. That's the victory that matters. Beating another Democrat shouldn't bring you any joy unless that Democrat is Joe Lieberman. So why would you piss on people we need for November, not just for the White House but all those downballot races as well. How well do you think Clinton will do with a Republican Congress? We need everyone we can get. So maybe it's time for some olive branches? Also, be impressed. It's not every day we get to see the creation of a whole new class of people excited about politics. Hillary certainly didn't manage that. So it behooves you to harness as much of that energy as possible. Of course, Sanders people won't be as excited about Clinton as you are, but who cares? There are more Democrats on the ballot than Clinton, and some of them are pretty awesome. Help them get excited about fixing our party."

Certainly, Sanders has acknowledged that his path has narrowed considerably. Though it is still possible for him to catch up with Hillary in delegates, it gets less and less likely with each primary. He's cutting staff outside of states where there are still primaries to be held, which many are treating as a concession right there.

David Dayen, "A Rough Night for Democratic Revolutionaries: Donna Edwards and Joe Sestak went up against Chuck Schumer on Tuesday. It was no contest." This is a shame, Edwards was doing well against van Hollen, but in the end the party machinery went into high gear for him and froze her out - and so much for all that backing for women and minorities, eh?

Whatever happens, here's Jim Hightower on "Why Bernie Sanders will, should and must stay in the race: Bernie has substantively changed American politics for the better - his movement must endure ."

Again, Team Clinton kept castigating Sanders for not helping downticket Dems - although he does - but this is a ridiculous charge to make during the primaries. This isn't something you normally expect from someone who is fighting for the nomination (and for good reason). For example, In 2008 Barack Obama Didn't Start Helping Down-Ticket Dems Until After Hillary Left the Race.

"Hillary Clinton 'goysplains' to Bernie Sanders in Passover article, accusing him of betraying his people by criticizing Israel: Hillary published a condescending piece on The Times of Israel condemning Bernie for promising neutrality on Israel."

Department of Serious Revisionism: "Clinton: I put the blame for foreclosure crisis 'squarely on the Republicans'. Um, no, unless you completely ignore this and this and this and this and....

"Hillary Not Truthful About Wall Street Speaking Fees [...] Hillary is veering from the truth when she suggests her $225,000 per speech fee, paid three times by Goldman Sachs, was 'what they offered.' It was not what they offered - it was what Team Hillary demanded."
* "Money influences everybody. That includes Hillary Clinton: Democrats were quick to criticize Republicans who flirted with banks and big oil. Why won't they admit that Hillary's links are a problem too?" This is one of the things that annoys me about her campaign - these have always been standard criticisms of Republicans, but now suddenly we're not allowed to criticize this appearance of corruption or assimilation by the corporate Borg. But it was good enough for Clinton, once: "While Clinton called the suggestion that she might be influenced by the wealthy bankers who raise money for her campaign an 'artful smear' in 2016, she also had no problem hurling even stronger accusations about Obama in 2008: 'Senator Obama has some questions to answer about his dealings with one of his largest contributors - Exelon, a big nuclear power company,' she said. 'Apparently he cut some deals behind closed doors to protect them from full disclosure of the nuclear industry.'" But that was before she got money from the banksters to put in her own pockets for closed-door speeches. But now she wants us to believe she's incorruptible.
* "To Protect Hillary Clinton, Democrats Wage War on Their Own Core Citizens United Argument: Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in Citizens United was depicted by Democrats as the root of all political evil. But now, the core argument embraced by the Court's conservatives to justify their ruling has taken center stage in the Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders - because Clinton supporters, to defend the huge amount of corporate cash on which their candidate is relying, frequently invoke that very same reasoning."
* David Dayen, "Why We Don't Need to See the Hillary Clinton Transcripts: We already know that she gives priority of place to Wall Street [...] That's what the fuss over the Goldman Sachs speeches is all about: who you believe and who you trust as a politician. [..] Nobody is perfectly objective and unmoved by the people around them. It's why politicians need a diversity of opinion and experience in their inner circles, to fight through the inevitable bubble mentality. And it's why spending hours giving talks to financial elites matters."

"It's 'Possible' Hillary Clinton Could Be Better President than GOP Pick, Charles Koch Says." And why not? As one of the original funders of the Democratic Leadership Council, Charles, with his brother, could pretty much claim to have helped create the Clintons. And given the current crop of GOP candidates, there is no reason why he - or any other part of the GOP establishment - should feel particularly uncomfortable about another Clinton presidency, seeing how much the first one did for them all.

Lawrence Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, in The Washington Post: "Clinton's campaign-finance hypocrisy [...] Of course, most candidates and super PACs say they are following the law and not coordinating, no matter how ludicrous the claim appears in light of the facts. But according to Correct the Record, the super PAC and Clinton's campaign have taken a new and different approach - actually claiming the right to coordinate." The internet is full of Clinton partisans insisting this is no big deal, too, proving that in the name of Clinton, Democrats are willing to sacrifice every standard Democrats once tried to hold Republicans to.
* "Re-explaining Why the Hillary Victory Fund Is an Issue [...] The new allegation is that this money being allocated by the joint committee is mostly being spent in ways that help the Clinton campaign, either primarily or exclusively. This is where the legal issue gets sticky. Instead of keeping a wall between Clinton money and DNC money, which I believe is what the law calls for, it appears the money is being treated as something fungible that is still mostly being spent according to the wishes of the Clinton campaign."
* "Hillary PAC Spends $1 Million to 'Correct' Commenters on Reddit and Facebook [...] The PAC was created in May of last year when it was spun off from the American Bridge SuperPAC, which is run by longtime Hillary and Bill Clinton supporter David Brock. [...] 'This explains why my inbox turned to cancer on Tuesday,' wrote user OKarizee. 'Been a member of reddit for almost 4 years and never experienced anything like it. In fact, in all my years on the internet I've never experienced anything like it.'" Last May? Seriously? Did we even *have* Bernie Bros back then?

"Bernie Sanders To Stay A Democrat For Life And Support Clinton If She Is The Nominee: Bernie Sanders is going to keep campaigning for a Democratic nomination that he is still trying to win, but the long-term ramifications of the announcement by Jeff Weaver are huge. By keeping his Democratic affiliation, Sen. Sanders may see an even bigger promotion in the Senate if he fails to win the Democratic nomination. Sanders had been caucusing with the Democrats, but there are benefits to being a member of the party."

"Why Bernie vs Hillary Matters More Than People Think [...] We have a tendency in American politics to focus too much on individuals and personal narratives, especially in presidential campaigns. Who's in touch with ordinary people? Who is experienced? Who is a nice person? Who connects better with different identity groups? Who would you like to have a beer with? This is in large part because many democrats like to think of Hillary and Bernie as different flavors of the same Democratic Party popcorn. Consequently, they mostly just pay attention to which candidate they feel they can more readily identify with. But Sanders and Clinton represent two very different ideologies. Each of these ideologies wants control of the Democratic Party so that this party's resources can be used to advance a different conception of what a good society looks like. This is not a matter of taste and these are not flavors of popcorn. [...] On economic policy, contemporary establishment democrats have more in common with contemporary republicans than they do with the FDR/LBJ democrats. Carter and Clinton took the party away from economic progressives. The Democratic Party, which was once the party that saw economic inequality and poverty as the core causes of economic instability, now sees inequality and poverty as largely irrelevant. Instead of eliminating inequality and poverty to fuel the capitalist system and produce strong economic growth, establishment democrats now largely agree with establishment republicans that the problem is a lack of support for business investment. So Bernie Sanders is not merely running to attempt to implement a set of idealistic policies that a Republican-controlled Congress is likely to block. He is running to take the Democratic Party back from an establishment that ignores the fundamental systemic economic problems that lead to wage stagnation and economic crisis. [...] Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal building on the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. She doesn't understand the pivotal role inequality plays in creating economic crisis and reducing economic growth. She has been taken in by a fundamentally right wing paradigm, and if she is elected she will continue to lead the Democratic Party down that path."

Here's the Thing So Many Americans Can't Grasp About Bernie Sanders [...] Here's the big thing about Bernie that makes so much sense to the rest of the world, but not to a lot of you. Our earliest ancestors formed tribes so we could hunt more efficiently and protect one another. We moved on to villages, then cities and finally nations for mutual benefit. We can do more together than alone, and when we band together we can put safety nets in place so if people are unlucky and get struck down, we can all help them back up. That way no one has to live in fear of losing out in the lottery of life. That's what social democracy is, and those of us who live in them recognize that what we have is pretty damn great."

"Forget Bernie Bros - the Worst Trolls Work in Corporate Media: One of the more popular pastimes of establishment media pundits is complaining of their various 'trolls' - anonymous, faceless basement dwellers who lurk online and harass with aggressive, non-stop vigor. But a recent online dust-up started by Washington Post columnist Philip Bump made something clear: When you factor in actual impact, big media pundits troll just as much as - if not more than - any random egg avatar on Twitter."

"House Democrats Push Back On Obama Plan To Cut Drug Prices: Pharmaceutical companies hate the new plan, and Democrats have noticed." But this is Nancy Pelosi, and she apparently means to do what the drug companies want: "The Department of Health and Human Services is working toward finalizing a new rule that would experiment with ending the financial incentive doctors have for prescribing some extremely expensive medications. The rule has been well-received among some patient advocates, but congressional Democrats have been largely silent, while the pharmaceutical industry and medical community have waged an aggressive campaign to stop it. The campaign is bearing fruit. The letter being circulated among House Democrats uses the oldest move in the opposition playbook - warning of the dreaded unintended consequences. [...] Pelosi encouraged her caucus to get behind the Neal letter to fend off the GOP attack. In fact, Pelosi's office even helped with the letter: Democrats forgot to scrub their data from the document before circulating it, and an inspection of its properties reveals that it was last handled by a health policy fellow in Pelosi's office."

Matt Taibbi, "Why Is the Obama Administration Trying to Keep 11,000 Documents Sealed? The "most transparent administration in history" has spent years trying to hide embarrassing financial secrets from the public." No one believes that "most transparent" stuff anymore, do they? "The Obama administration invoked executive privilege, attorney-client and deliberative process over these documents and insisted that their release would negatively impact global financial markets. But in finally unsealing some of these materials last week, a federal judge named Margaret Sweeney said the government's sole motivation was avoiding embarrassment." Yeah, that's the usual reason.

"Virginia's Awesomely Sneaky Governor Screws Republicans, Restores Voting Rights To 200,000 Americans: Virginia's Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe secretly plotted (moohoohahahaha!) and then executed a plan to restore the voting rights to 200,000 convicted felons. This move bypasses the GOP controlled legislature and will send Republicans into a screaming fit of outrage and lawsuits" I don't have much good to say about McAuliffe, but restoring voting rights to felons who've served their sentence is a good thing. This isn't legislative, so it seems only to apply to people who have already "paid their debt to society," but it's a start.

"Poll worker testifies on AZ voting problems: 'Every single time it happened - it was a Democratic voter' [...] Dianne Post, an attorney and Maricopa County poll worker, testified that the computer system checking in voters would not allow her to give the correct ballots to 36 voters, and she said 22 other voters were listed in the wrong party, reported the Arizona Republic."

"Sometimes, When "All the Facts are In," It's Worse: The UC-Davis Pepper-Spray Report: You know how every time somebody in law enforcement does something that looks bad, we're told that we should "wait until the facts are in" before passing judgment? Well, after Lieutenant Pike of the UC Davis Police Department became an internet meme by using high-pressure pepper-spray on peaceful resisters, the campus hired an independent consulting firm to interview everybody they could find, review all the videos and other evidence, review the relevant policies and laws, and issue a final fact-finding report to the university. The university just released that report, along with their summary (PDF link), and the final report is even worse than the news accounts made it seem.

David Dayen, "Bill That Obama Extolled Is Leading to Pension Cuts for Retirees: ONE OF THE MANY obscure provisions jammed into a last-minute budget bill in 2014 endorsed and signed by President Obama is leading to what would be the first cuts in earned pension benefits to current retirees in over 40 years. The Washington Post reports that the Treasury Department is on the verge of approving an application from the Central States Pension Fund - a plan that covers Teamster truckers in several states - to cut worker pensions by an average of 23 percent, and even more for younger retirees. Over 250,000 truckers and their families would be affected.

"Woman In Leading Flint Water Crisis Lawsuit Shot To Death In Home [...] Her lawsuit was among 64 filed on behalf of 144 children, the Journal reported, which named six companies involved in monitoring and constructing Flint's water system. The case is slated to continue, with a representative to be appointed to represent Bell's child."

In England, it's finally acknowledge that the deaths 27 years ago of 96 people at Hillsborough were not the fault of the fans, but of the police and other professionals whose job it was to keep the crowd safe. The families of the dead appear to have expressed closure, but there is still plenty of anger from the public about the way the Thatcher government treated the Hillsborough disaster and the claims that were made placing full responsibility on the fans and the victims.

Bill Moyers' 2012 interview with Neil Barofsky on the Need to Tackle Banking Reform

Sam Seder talked to Thomas Frank about What Happened to Liberalism in America?

This would make a great $20 bill.

Thanks again to CMike, who in comments called our attention to this quote in Emmett Rensin's "The smug style in American liberalism," a long essay in Vox: "If the smug style can be reduced to a single sentence, it's, Why are they voting against their own self-interest? But no party these past decades has effectively represented the interests of these dispossessed. Only one has made a point of openly disdaining them too. Abandoned and without any party willing to champion their interests, people cling to candidates who, at the very least, are willing to represent their moral convictions. The smug style resents them for it, and they resent the smug in turn. The rubes noticed that liberal Democrats, distressed by the notion that Indiana would allow bakeries to practice open discrimination against LGBTQ couples, threatened boycotts against the state, mobilizing the considerable economic power that comes with an alliance of New York and Hollywood and Silicon Valley to punish retrograde Gov. Mike Pence, but had no such passion when the same governor of the same state joined 21 others in refusing the Medicaid expansion. No doubt good liberals objected to that move too. But I've yet to see a boycott threat about it." Some further thoughts on that from Fredrik deBoer at far less length here, and some more from Will Shetterly.

David Dayen, "This election is blinding us to a Wall Street outrage: Inside the media's negligent response to a foreclosure disaster: While banks are finding new ways to rip off homeowners, the press only cares how it affects Julian Castro's VP odds One of the biggest problems with the permanent campaign mentality we've succumbed to is that every issue gets folded into the presidential election. Last week we saw a perfect example. An activist group that has for years been criticizing pernicious practices at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) escalated their campaign, known as Don't Sell our Homes to Wall Street. And the only thing the media cared about was how it would affect HUD Secretary Julián Castro's chances for the vice presidency. Politico won the day with the headline 'Progressive groups target Julián Castro.' Progressive caucus co-chair Raul Grijalva had to explain to Buzzfeed that he wasn't trying to torpedo Castro's VP bid, entangling the entire matter with intra-Latino politics. Castro himself turned around the campaign, telling NBC News that he thought 'it was really about politics and the presidential race and not really about the policy.' This is dumb. Housing advocacy groups have been working on this issue since well before Castro became HUD Secretary in July 2014. They represent communities of color that have been devastated by foreclosures and are now seeing the same financial players who precipitated that crisis come back into their neighborhoods to wreak havoc. And at a time when they've begged for mortgage relief for troubled borrowers, they're seeing that relief go to the Wall Street firms instead. [...] Whatever the solution, the issue has nothing to do with Julián Castro's political career, or his ethnicity, to suggest that the agency he runs is hurting communities and abandoning HUD's mission in favor of a quick buck. 'We've been dedicated for years to saving our neighborhoods,' said Amy Schur. 'Having a federal agency dedicated to affordable housing sell off housing stock to private equity firms and hedge funds is problematic.' "

EFF, "Secret Court Takes Another Bite Out of the Fourth Amendment: Defenders of the NSA's mass spying have lost an important talking point: that the erosion of our privacy and associational rights is justified given the focus of surveillance efforts on combating terrorism and protecting the national security. That argument has always been dubious for a number of reasons. But after a November 2015 ruling [.pdf] by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) was unsealed this week, it's lost another chunk of its credibility. The ruling confirms that NSA's warrantless spying has been formally approved for use in general criminal investigations. The national security justification has been entirely blown. That's because the secret court, over the objection of its hand-selected amicus, determined that once information is collected by the NSA for "foreign intelligence" purposes under section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, that information can be searched by the FBI for regular criminal investigations without any need for a warrant or prior court oversight. Although the FISC has signed off on the FBI's procedures claiming this authority for years, this ruling from late 2015 may be the first time the FISC has actually considered their legality."

Seymour Hersh says the Saudis bribed Pakistan to hide bin Laden: "The Saudis bribed the Pakistanis not to tell us [that the Pakistani government had Bin Laden] because they didn't want us interrogating Bin Laden (that's my best guess), because he would've talked to us, probably. My guess is, we don't know anything really about 9/11. We just don't know. We don't know what role was played by whom."

"Confessions of a former US Air Force drone technician [...] It hit me when I was in Kandahar airbase, on one side you have a McDonald's and down the road there's kids begging for water. Those people lived an austere life, and we're sitting there from the comfort of the joystick, resolved in the idea that we're killing bad guys. Maybe they're not bad guys. Maybe we just need fewer bombs and more communication between cultures."

"Q&A - Michael Chabon Talks Occupation, Injustice and Literature After Visit to West Bank [...] 'I do love Israel. I do care about Israel,' he said. 'To dehumanize others dehumanizes you. It is bad for Israel and if it ended it would be good for Israel.'"

"After A Year, Seattle's New Minimum Wage Hasn't Raised Retail Prices: Business owners did a bunch of handwringing about how damaging to the economy the wage increase would be. But so far, they're wrong."

Tom Tomorrow on Still More Primary Phenomena

"Troy LaRaviere, Outspoken CPS Principal And Rahm Critic, Ousted: LAKEVIEW - Blaine Elementary School Principal Troy LaRaviere, an outspoken critic of Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has been ousted in a sudden change that left some parents shocked." He's talking about this at his own blog and says he still hasn't been informed of the charges against him.

"Top GOP Pollster: Young Americans Are Terrifyingly Liberal." Frank Luntz finds that The Kids Today would rather have dinner with Bernie Sanders and admire him more than anyone else.

RIP: "Victoria Wood dies aged 62 after cancer battle" - She was a brilliant and versatile comic genius, and she will be missed.
* "Ron Beasley, Veteran, Engineer, Photographer and Moderate Voice Assistant Editor, dies at 69" - So much a part of the early blogosphere as well as later being a Newshogger, it's hard to believe he's suddenly gone.
* "Prince, singer and superstar, dies aged 57 at Paisley Park." This just came as a complete shock. I don't even know what to say.
* "Philly Soul Singer Billy Paul Dies at 81: Manager Beverly Gay told NBC10 that Paul, born Paul Williams, was recently diagnosed with cancer and was hospitalized last week at Temple University Hospital. He died Sunday at his home in Blackwood, New Jersey, according to Gay." A rich, warm voice.
* Lonnie Mack, , "whose impassioned, fast-picking style on the early 1960s instrumentals 'Memphis' and 'Wham!' became a model for the blues-rock lead-guitar style and a seminal influence on a long list of British and American artists, died Thursday in Nashville. He was 74." Lonnie Mack, Albert Collins & Roy Buchanan live at Carnegie Hall, 1985

Inversion, from Pfizer, the Makers of Viagra (parody ad)

60 minutes exposes mortgage fraud - again!

If you can see Facebook, read "Aphantasia: How It Feels To Be Blind In Your Mind" - This had never even occurred to me, and I can't imagine that someone could not imagine.

Carl Beijer, "This is what I see in liberal journalists who call themselves feminists, but who only care about the problems of rich women: a toxic blend of apathy for their comrades and ambition for themselves. If America, as Steinbeck supposedly put it, is a land of "temporarily embarrassed millionaires", liberal journalism is an industry of temporarily embarrassed executive editors, would-be Jill Abramsons who are fine with laying off hundreds of women as long as they're the ones who get to do it."

"Who Was Ty Cobb? The History We Know That's Wrong" He was one of the greatest ballplayers of all time, but a false story of who he was obliterated his history - until someone did a little research and realized there was nothing to back it up.

"I want an inverse spy flick."

Robert Crumb: 'I was born weird'

The Kraken Black Spiced Rum TV Commercial

"John Sebastian on the 'Magic' of The Lovin' Spoonful"

02:19 GMT comment


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

I should be sleepin' like a log

For the record, I have always been uncomfortable with the way people use the words "whore" and "prostitute" to mean you're selling out your integrity. Whores rent their services out for money, but they don't sell their souls. Be that as it may, I don't think feminism is well served by cries of sexism every time someone uses language like this. Liberals have been calling members of media and Congress "whores" for a long time now to emphasize the fact that they have become people whose paychecks depend on selling out the public, and no one would think twice about such language if both of our candidates were men. I think it would be nice if people realized that calling someone a "bankster" or "neoliberal" or "former leader of the Democratic Leadership Council" is actually a bigger insult than to call them a "whore", but since we don't live in that world yet, I'll just be that little voice over here to the side saying, "That's an insult to whores!" and the rest of ya'll can just shut up about how we have to use more polite language now that one candidate is a woman and everything is all about her - and her sex. (I was disgusted when the Obama campaign did this crap to the Clintons in 2008, but it's clear she's adopted his playbook.)

I'm still listening to the Democratic debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard - for the fourth time. (This video seems to loop when I open it - I had to push it back to the beginning.) Clinton talked over Sanders constantly - now that she has her whole chorus screaming "Sexism!" every time he tries to get a word in edgewise, she clearly feels free to step all over him when he tries to speak. Knowledgeable people may recognize how much of what she had to say was fog and double-talk, but the cheers of her supporters in so many wrong places tell us that they don't. Meanwhile, I thought it was interesting that no matter how many times she was asked if she supported raising the cap on Social Security, she always evaded the question. The Young Turks sum up.
* Ludicrously, the Clinton reaction to another suggestion that she release the transcripts of her paid speeches has been to say she would do it when everyone else does. Not sure who she means, since Sanders, like any other member of Congress, is forbidden to give speeches for money. Not sure it's the same for governors, but Trump has no secrets and nobody cares - or even remembers if he ever gave a speech for money - did he? Threads around the web complain of a "double standard" that only Hillary is being asked this, but again, only Hillary is in the position of having been paid more than a US Senator's annual salary for a single speech. Then we got the demand that Sanders release his tax returns! We don't usually hear that one until the general election, when the Democrat tries to get the Republican to spill. But this time, it's a desperation move from the Clinton camp. Right, because Sanders is of course hiding all of his ill-gotten gains in the Caymans. Oh, wait, he isn't.

US Senator Jeff Merkley, "Why I'm Supporting Bernie Sanders [...] But as we look toward the next administration, there is far more work to do. We need urgency. We need big ideas. We need to rethink the status quo. [...] But Bernie Sanders is boldly and fiercely addressing the biggest challenges facing our country. He has opposed trade deals with nations that pay their workers as little as a dollar an hour. Such deals have caused good jobs to move overseas and undermined the leverage of American workers to bargain for a fair share of the wealth they create in our remaining factories. He has passionately advocated for pivoting from fossil fuels to renewable energy to save our planet from global warming - the greatest threat facing humanity. He recognizes that to accomplish this we must keep the vast bulk of the world's fossil fuels in the ground. Continue reading the main story Bernie is a determined leader in taking on the concentration of campaign cash from the mega-wealthy that is corrupting the vision of opportunity embedded in our Constitution. [...] It is time to recommit ourselves to that vision of a country that measures our nation's success not at the boardroom table, but at kitchen tables across America. Bernie Sanders stands for that America, and so I stand with Bernie Sanders for president."
* 'Determined Leader' Sanders Nabs First Senate Endorsement
* Sanders hangs out with striking communications workers and picks up an endorsement from a New York transit union.

"Bernie Sanders' powerful new ad is going viral" - This is pretty damned good. I wonder if they'll actually be buying much airtime for this, it's nearly two-and-a-half minutes.

The Clinton camp had to really reach to twist that New York Daily News interview to make Sanders look bad, but no editorializing makes Clinton's own assertions when she spoke to the NYDN look good: "Hillary Clinton Says Honduras Coup Not Illegal In Daily News Editorial Board Interview." Anyone who was following the Honduras story at all knows that the whole world condemned this illegal coup, including our own ambassador and, originally, even Obama. But as Secretary of State, Clinton undercut efforts to restore democracy in Honduras and the result has been disaster for that country. She just loves decapitating governments to no useful purpose and letting the blood flow. (I won't even start on her plan to "incentivize" entities to put more money where it would be more useful. If there is one thing the last 45 years should have taught her, it's that "incentives" just create new options for raking off profits by gaming the system rather than using funds for the purposes they are intended.) Oh, yes, and there's the means-testing and promise of ten hours work for college tuition, evidence that she still doesn't get where the expenses are and what is being asked of students. And when asked about whether some of the banksters should have gone to jail, she says, "Well, it rankles me that I don't believe we had sufficient laws, sufficient prosecutorial resources to really go after what could have been not just dangerous, unethical behavior but perhaps illegal behavior. I've talked with some of the people responsible for trying to determine whether there could be cases brought. And they were totally outresourced." Well, no, actually, we had the laws, we had prosecutions going forward, and Obama stopped them. Everybody knows this - he insisted on offering them an opportunity to settle their cases for paltry sums of money when they should have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They had committed well-documented fraud of every type and they belonged in jail and they deserved to pay crippling fines. They should have hurt. Instead, they all came out better off than they'd been before. Let's not pretend it was all legal and no one could prosecute them. And does she think there are banks that should be broken up? "At this point, I am not privy to the analysis that is being conducted under Dodd-Frank to make that determination." Seriously? They were "too big to fail" before, but not now, when they are even bigger? Of course, forewarned and forearmed by having seen the interview with Sanders, Clinton was careful to make sure she had the explicit statutes to hand, so she could carefully recite them when they came up in the interview. None of it matters, because The Washington Post isn't writing stories about how badly Clinton answered these questions, and the NYDN itself, owned by a man who is already closely allied with Clinton, endorsed her, as they were always going to. But anyone who already has questions about Clinton's goals was not disabused of the feeling that Clinton's foreign policies are terrible and her aspirations for improvement in the current system are so minimal that they won't do much for the rest of us at all.
* "'She's Baldly Lying': Human Rights Expert on Hillary Clinton's Defense of Her Role in Honduras Coup"

David Dayen: "The Fed needs a revolution: Why America's central bank is failing - and how we can make it work for us: A bold new plan with links to the Sanders campaign has proposed taking the Federal Reserve, at long last, public ."
* Robert Reich on "Bernie and the Big Banks: The recent kerfluffle about Bernie Sanders purportedly not knowing how to bust up the big banks says far more about the threat Sanders poses to the Democratic establishment and its Wall Street wing than it does about the candidate himself. Of course Sanders knows how to bust up the big banks. He's already introduced legislation to do just that. And even without new legislation a president has the power under the Dodd-Frank reform act to initiate such a breakup. But Sanders threatens the Democratic establishment and Wall Street, not least because he's intent on doing exactly what he says he'll do: breaking up the biggest banks."
* Also from Dday, "Why the Goldman Sachs Settlement Is a $5 Billion Sham: The penalty might sound pretty stiff. But get a load of the real math." Actually, the penalty doesn't sound that stiff, either, when you consider what they did. David talked to Sam Seder about it on The Majority Report.

The Sacramento Bee, "No consequences, no justice in Goldman Sachs settlement.[...] It's now clear from a review of the settlement that Goldman Sachs likely will pay much less in penalties than the Justice Department claims, due to special credits included in the deal and, unbelievably, tax deductions Goldman Sachs will receive for payments it makes under the settlement. Disturbing as this may be, what's most troubling is that this settlement agreement - like previous deals between the Justice Department and big financial institutions - contains no consequences for the executives who drove or condoned wrongdoing. As a result, it will not deter future financial lawbreaking and will further undermine the public's faith in the fairness of our legal system."
* "FDIC, Fed Rulings Could See Five 'Too-Big-to-Fail' Wall Street Firms Broken Up by 2018: Federal regulators announced Wednesday morning that Dodd-Frank-mandated resolution plans of five "too big to fail" banks were 'not credible,' setting in motion a process that could see them broken up in thirty months."
* "I'm the real-life Gordon Gekko and I support Bernie Sanders: Banking is the least understood, and possibly most lethal, of all the myriad issues at stake in this election. No candidate other than Bernie Sanders is capable of taking the steps necessary to protect the American people from a repeat of the recent debacle that plunged the nation into a recession from which we have not recovered. The potential for a depression looms heavily on the horizon. As a trained economist who has spent more than 20 years on Wall Street - and one of the models for Gordon Gekko's character - I know the financial system is in urgent need of regulation and responsibility. Yet Hillary Clinton is beholden to the banks for their largesse in funding her campaign and lining her pockets. The likelihood of any Republican candidate taking on this key issue is not even worthy of discussion. The recession of 2007-2016, and the persistent transfer of wealth from the 80% to the 1% is, mostly the result of banking irresponsibility precipitated by the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. The law separated commercial banking (responsible for gathering and conservatively lending out funds) from investment banking (more speculative activities)."

Robert Reich: Bernie Sanders' threat to break up the banks is a threat to the Democratic Party establishment: The bottom line: Regulation won't end the Street's abuses. The Street has too much firepower. And because it continues to be a major source of campaign funding, no set of regulations will be tough enough. So the biggest banks must be busted up."

"Sorry Paul, but the Bailout WAS about the Banks. Paul Krugman claims that "Many analysts concluded years ago" that the big banks were not at the heart of the financial crisis and that breaking them up would not protect us from future crises. Incredibly, his claim is linked to an article by ... Paul Krugman. Maybe a Nobel Prize comes with a license to cite oneself as Gospel authority, but I don't believe that Krugman's Nobel Prize was for his expertise on bank regulation. So what's wrong with Krugman's claim? Let's go piece by piece."

Even Joe Conason, who has a long history of defending the Clintons and supports Hillary in this race, admits it: "On Israel, Bernie Sanders Is Right (And Hillary Clinton Knows It) [...] That should be blindingly obvious, especially to Clinton, who has worked alongside President Clinton and President Obama toward a decent two-state solution for almost a quarter century. Her disappointing reply to Sanders reflected her political priorities in the New York primary, rather than her commitment to human rights or her assessment of American diplomatic interests."

"Hillary Clinton Channels Allen and John Foster Dulles."

"Clinton, Sanders Will Sue Arizona Over Botched Election [...] According to the Post, the suit will focus on Maricopa County, home to roughly 2 million registered voters. Many voters experienced hourslong wait times after county elections officials cut the number of polling places from 200 in 2012 to 60 in 2016."

"Bernie Rocks Buffalo. He Also Did Something Else. Sanders turned out a huge crowd. He also took a notable detour. [...] The audience at Sanders's first stop was a lot quieter, a lot older, a lot whiter - and a whole lot smaller. They were pleased to see Sanders, but there was no mistaking the scene at Local 1122 of the Communications Workers of America for a rock concert or a sporting event. These were 25 shop stewards at Verizon who had to prepare their members to go on strike on Wednesday morning, and the mood in the room was a mixture of anxiety and defiant anger."
* The communications workers endorsed Sanders earlier this year, and now he's supporting them at the picket line. (This video starts out crummy but eventually gets to his speech.)
* "Hillary Clinton rakes in Verizon cash while Bernie Sanders supports company's striking workers: Verizon paid Hillary $225,000 for speech and poured money into Clinton Foundation. Executives give to her campaign."
* Verizon CEO Attack on Bernie Sanders Receives Gushing Praise - From Fellow Execs
* "Sanders Responds to Disgruntled CEOs: 'I Welcome Their Contempt': This is not the first time Bernie Sanders has drawn the ire of corporate honchos."

"Warren, Sanders Sponsor Bill Going After TurboTax, Complexity of Tax Filing [...] The following is another instance of the difference between neo-liberal governance and FDR-liberal governance. At present, tax filing - filling out and sending in a prepared multi-page tax return - is complicated and in most cases requires third-party software to complete. The government could do this for you, by filling in your forms with the information they have already, making those forms available online at a secure government web site and letting you add the rest of the data yourself. But under our current neo-liberal government, the IRS doesn't do that. Instead, the IRS has agreements with vendors in the software industry, including the TurboTax giant Intuit, not to cut into their profit by "competing" with them in "providing free, on-line tax return preparation and filing services to taxpayers." Even though, as you'll see below, the IRS is compelled by law to do just that. Consider that point for a moment, as you (perhaps) scramble to complete your own return for this year. What if you could go to a U.S. government website (instead of a third-party corporate website) and complete your tax filing online without filling out a complicated paper or PDF "return"? Would you prefer that? Would you mind not buying tax-filing software each year, year after year? At present, you don't have that choice. Even though, since 2002, the government has been legally required to develop and offer such a service, it won't. Capture of government by industry, including in this case the tax-preparation industry, has delayed that implementation."

"Colorado Democrats admit mistake that cost Bernie Sanders key delegate."

"Bernie Sanders Called Out Panama As A 'World Leader' In Tax Evasion Years Ago."

Last week, Nicole Sandler's Monday show discussed the "Democracy Spring" demonstrations in DC and talked to Joel Silberman (about superdelegates and the mish-mash of the primaries) and Seth Abramson about his perceptions of the primaries.

Pierce: "The Clintons Can Have Their Own Opinions, But They Can't Have Their Own History: Particularly when it comes to criminal justice and the 1994 Crime Bill."

Black Agenda Report: "Bill Clinton Insults Blacks in Order to Build Hillary's 'Big Tent' Party: Bill Clinton's behavior was calculated, predictable, and inevitable. The only question was the timing. It's the song he loves to sing, and Hillary sings it, too, as she did two decades ago when she spoke of the 'kinds of kids that are called 'super predators' - the ones with 'no conscience, no empathy, we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.' This is a lot louder than a dog-whistle; it's white racist theater in service of the Mass Black Incarceration State. Bill Clinton reprised the performance, in Philadelphia, a generation later, with full-throated venom."

One of the big claims going around on the Clinton side is that Sanders isn't supporting down-ticket Democrats the way Clinton is. But "Is Clinton Really Supporting Down Ballot Candidates? Or Just Laundering Campaign Donations? [...] This is just a way to raise huge amounts of money (up to $355,000) for the Clinton campaign. It does nothing, absolutely nothing to help state parties. Worse, it is overt support for one candidate during a primary by the party - and remember, this was happening while O'Malley, a long-time Democrat 'in good standing' was also in the race."
* "How Hillary Clinton Bought the Loyalty of 33 State Democratic Parties [...] If a presidential campaign from either party can convince various state parties to partner with it in such a way as to route around any existing rules on personal donor limits and at the same time promise money to that state's potential candidates, then the deal can be sold as a way of making large monetary promises to candidates and Super Delegates respectable." She bought endorsements and superdelegate vote commitments. But another meme has been, "Why won't Sanders' Senate colleagues endorse him?" - an attempt to buttress a (false) claim that none of his colleagues like him. But Clinton has deftly found ways to make it advantageous to Senators to withhold endorsements from Sanders and to make sure that if they endorse anyone, it will be her. "In Montana, a state where one third of voters identify as independents, and where it is imperative that Democratic candidates for public office win some votes from both Republicans and Independents in order to get elected, it seems peculiar that the Montana State Democratic Party would make a deal with the Hillary Clinton campaign months before the national primaries were underway, given that there is a very real and proud tradition of political independence in Montana. Being told who to vote for in a primary by your party's big wigs is not part of that tradition."

"Bernie Sanders Has Won Something Big, Even If It's Not the Nomination: Forget who won the debate. Bernie has framed the debate."

"Gaius Publius: A Look Ahead: Neither Party Can Win Without Winning Independents."

"Republicans have faced more and more ideological primary challenges. Democrats haven't." Yes, the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC have suppressed those challenges, to the detriment of the party. They tried to stop this primary from being anything more than a coronation of Hillary Clinton, again to the party's detriment. As it was, the dearth of debates earlier in the season allowed the Republicans to command the airwaves and suppress the excitement that a real primary contest can generate.

The headline here is, "The Fed's Newest President Wants to Break Up Too-Big-to-Fail Banks, and Bernie Sanders Is Thrilled." But, wait - isn't this the same guy?

Robert Borosage, "Sanders on Clinton: Not Unqualified, Compromised. [...] Sanders' critique of Clinton isn't that she is unqualified or inexperienced. It is far tougher and more substantive. His campaign is premised on the belief that she is too compromised and conservative to be the president we need. It isn't about character or experience; it is about direction, program and independence. Sanders argues that our economy is rigged to favor the few, and our politics is corrupted by the big money, special interests and revolving door appointments that keep fixing the game. He argues we need fundamental change, not simply piecemeal or incremental reform if we are to make this economy work for working people once more. Sanders is running because he believes that Clinton is too compromised in her agenda. He has defined major substantive areas of disagreement: on corporate trade policies, on the need for major public investment and a sweeping initiative to take on global warming, on national health care, on breaking up the big banks and curbing Wall Street, on progressive taxation that will pay for tuition free public college, on $15.00 an hour minimum wage and empowering workers to organize, on dialing down our interventionist foreign policy and more. Clinton has moved to adopt a bolder reform position this year than in 2008 or before. She's basically at one with President Obama's policies. Yes, she's come out against the president's Transpacific Partnership deal, but everyone believes that is just campaign positioning. She claims to be tough on Wall Street, but even her Wall Street donors don't believe her. She's assiduously avoided embracing the Warren-Sanders reform agenda. She's put forth a good agenda on global warming, but opposes putting a price on carbon, opposes banning fracking, and hasn't made climate change a centerpiece of her campaign. She's scorned Sanders call for national health care or for tuition free college. She's been a supporter of the regime change follies from Iraq, to Honduras to Libya to Syria to the Ukraine."

David Cay Johnston, "How Corporate Inversions and Congressional Gridlock Got Beat: You don't necessarily have to pass a bill to get something done in Washington. How Pfizer's attempt to offshore its profits got stymied."

"Big Bank 'Living Wills' Are a Failure - and Point to a Bigger Problem: Regulators this week rejected, in whole or in part, the 'living wills' of seven of the eight largest U.S. banks. Does that suggest that those banks are all still 'too big to fail?' I would step back from that. The very process of having banks design living wills, which are roadmaps for their own bankruptcy, suggests they are too big."

I can't find anything wrong with this one, except that he could have done it a lot sooner and he could still do more, but here is Obama apparently doing something that is good: "Obama to forgive the student debt of permanently disabled people."

"Dozens of Prominent Academics Urge McGraw-Hill Education to Reverse Decision to Censor Palestinian Loss of Land Maps: Last month, publishing giant McGraw-Hill Education withdrew and destroyed copies of a US college level textbook because of complaints from supporters of Israel over a series of maps showing loss of Palestinian land from 1946, shortly before Israel was established, to 2000. In response to this shocking and outrageous act of censorship of the Palestinian narrative from US schoolbooks, dozens of respected Palestinian, Israeli, and American academics have signed onto the enclosed open letter calling on McGraw-Hill Education to reverse its decision."

"Warren Buffett's right-hand man gave a dark warning about American finance [...] 'There's way, way too much of that in America. And too much of the new wealth has gone to people who either own a casino or are playing in a casino. And I don't think the exaltation of that group has been good for life generally, and I am to some extent a member of that group. I'm always afraid I'll be a terrible example for the youth who want to make a lot of money with and not do much for anybody else and who just want to be shrewd about buying little pieces of paper. Even if you do that very honestly, I don't consider it much of a life. Just being shrewd about buying little pieces of paper, shrewder than other people, is not an adequate life. It's not a good example for other people.' [...] Munger, a Republican and a billionaire, also said he agreed with the views of Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on this issue. 'The truth of the matter is that ... Elizabeth Warren doesn't agree with me on many subjects, and I wouldn't agree with her on many subjects, but she is basically right when she says that American finance is out of control and that it isn't good for the rest of us,' he said. 'Both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are not two of my favorite people on earth, but they are absolutely right.' Munger went on to say that there was cyclicality in the securities market and that 'the big busts hurt us more than the big booms help us.' He added that what gave rise to Hitler was the Great Depression." (That's from the story - but the full transcript of the interview is attached below it.)

The establishment always wants you to shut up. "Actually, make lots of noise. Make all the noise you can."

It always worries me when people start getting triumphal about how any minute now demographics or political weather is presaging a sea change in political control of the country. I've been hearing it my whole life while the people who are running things keep moving further and further to the right. I think the assumption that the clock is ticking against the aristocracy makes people complacent. The Baby Boomers had this same belief and allowed themselves to be distracted and deceived by clever "nuanced" language and politicians who wore the trappings of liberalism while forwarding the language and the policies of the aristocracy. Demographics may offer a chance at shifting course, but only if people are prepared to be very vigilant, to organize, and to work hard and never think the work is done.
* Jacobin, "The Coming Left-Wing Majority: More and more young people are rejecting the politics of fear and moving left."
* Cory Robin, "What's going to happen to liberals when the Right begins to give way?

"Neoliberalism - the ideology at the root of all our problems: Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has - or had - a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?"

"We Asked 4 Prominent Bernie Supporters if They'd Vote for Hillary in November. Here's What They Told Us [...] Rania Khalek: Sure, Trump has demonized Mexicans, Muslims, and women. But Clinton called black children 'superpredators' and referred to welfare recipients as 'deadbeats.' She routinely accuses Palestinians of teaching their children to hate while closely aligning herself with Israel's right-wing, Holocaust-revising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a man whose demagoguery rivals Trump's. She also likened Russian president Vladimir Putin to Hitler and expressed pride in making an enemy of 'the Iranians' whose country she once threatened to 'obliterate.' e problem with Clinton goes beyond semantics. On issues relating to trade and foreign policy, Clinton is clearly to the right of Trump. [...] Josh Holland: e counter-arguments are, frankly, incoherent. If droves of Sanders supporters were to stay home and deliver the White House to the GOP, the political establishment would view that as further proof that parties rarely win three terms in a row. The story would be that Clinton had too much baggage, or that Trump had brilliantly appealed to 'Reagan Democrats.' Whatever message the 'Bernie or Bust' crowd might think they'd be sending to the establishment would undoubtedly fall on deaf ears. [...] Doug Henwood: I've spent too much time reading about her hawkishness and her loyalty to corporate power to bring myself to pencil in the oval next to her name. It's likely she'd rip up the nuclear deal with Iran - more elegantly than Donald Trump, perhaps, but no less thoroughly - and try to change a disobedient regime or two. And her apologists who want to know what specific quid pro quos she's granted in exchange for campaign contributions from banks and other powerful corporations are missing the point: They shouldn't be read as transactional but as votes of confidence from people who don't part with money lightly. [...] Kathleen Geier: Vote for the sinner, hate the sin."

"The Panama Papers prove it: America can afford a universal basic income."

Juan Cole, "Are Sanders' Criticisms of Israeli Occupation Policies unprecedented in a Presidential Campaign? Bernie Sanders is being attacked for comments on the Middle East in his interview with the editorial board of The New York Daily News, but all he did was restate current US government policy."

"Why It Matters That Hillary Clinton Championed Welfare Reform: As poor people suffer without a safety net, it's time for the two Democratic candidates to start talking about restoring the welfare system."
* "Late-Term Abortion Debate Reveals a Rift Between Clinton and Sanders: Bernie Sanders opposes all abortion restrictions. Hillary Clinton's stance is murkier."

Sorry Paul, but the Bailout WAS about the Banks: Breaking up the big banks alone will not prevent all future crises. And no one is claiming that. But by breaking up the big banks there will be the political room to regulate the financial system more effectively. Too-big-to-fail is too-big-to-regulate. And that alone makes breaking up the big banks an important goal."
* The headline is just a bit misleading, but it's not really that much of a stretch to think that Warren had Krugman and others of his ilk in mind when she said: "There's been a lot of revisionist history floating around lately that the Too Big to Fail banks weren't really responsible for the financial crisis, That talk isn't new. Wall Street lobbyists have tried to deflect blame for years. But the claim is absolutely untrue. There would have been no crisis without these giant banks. They encouraged reckless mortgage lending both by gobbling up an endless stream of mortgages to securitize and by funding the slimy subprime lenders who peddled their miserable products to millions of American families. The giant banks spread that risk throughout the financial system by misleading investors about the quality of the mortgages in the securities they were offering"

Matt Bruenig is grateful to learn from this campaign about "The various pathologies of young women: One thing I've enjoyed about the Democratic primary is learning which voter demographics you can pathologize and which you can't. It turns out that even vaguely gesturing at the idea that Black voters may be choosing incorrectly is definitely oppressive and wrong. After all, that's the kind of stuff we usually only reserve for the disgusting poor and working class white voters. On the other hand, explicitly saying young women voters are ignorant, complacent, naive, or boy-crazy cool girls is actually fine. Used to, that was the stuff of Reddit, but believe it or not, 'bitches be crazy' is an actual genre of election coverage about why young women go for Bernie."

Joe Sestak's last stand against the Democratic Party

"Panama Papers: Spy agencies widely used Mossack Fonseca to hide activities: Intelligence agencies from several countries, including CIA intermediaries, have abundantly used the services of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to "conceal" their activities, German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) says, citing leaked documents."

Russ Wellen, "Let's Review: Saudi Arabia Is Not Our Friend [...] It is time we get it through our heads once and for all that the Saudis are not our friends. Not only have they funded terrorism for years, either directly or indirectly, but they constitute an ongoing fly in the ointment in our relations with Iran. Also, the United States has let itself get sucked into supporting the Saudis in its war on Yemen - the savageness of which is only exceeded by its senselessness. The United States doesn't even need their oil anymore."

The BradBlog: "Absent Court Intervention, 608k Registered TX Voters Face Unlawful Disenfranchisement (Again!)

"Media Blackout As London Muslims March Against ISIS: The reporting double standard around Muslims made plain by anti-ISIS rally."

Apparently, a couple of weeks ago Peter Lilley himself posted on the Tory blog that he opposes TTIP. This guy was Secretary of State for Trade & Industry under Thatcher, and he's breaking with his party by sounding a warning against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - which, being the kind of Tory he is, he had initially been wholly in favor of, before he actually looked into it. But even as anti-protectionist as he is, he ended up not liking it. "TTIP is not primarily about removing tariffs and quotas. The average tariff levied by the US on goods from Europe is just 2.5 per cent. Getting rid of them would be worthwhile - but no big deal. It is mainly about harmonising product specifications and creating a special regime for investment. There is no objection to those things in principle. Insofar as product harmonisation means removing rules introduced as hidden protection of a domestic producer, that is fine. But we should not sign away Parliament's right to protect our citizens from harmful additives, and so forth." Eric Zuesse says, "The very core of both Obama's 'trade' deal with Europe, TTIP, and his 'trade' deal with Asia, TPP, is precisely that: to sign away legislators' power to protect the electorate from harmful additives, toxic water and foods and air, unsafe cars, and a sustainable environment for themselves and future generations - and more (Lilley is especially concerned because it would abolish Britain's vaunted public health service. Imagine: a British Conservative is determined to protect that enormously successful socialist program in his country! Flabbergasting, but true.) The very core of it is to transfer national sovereignty to a worldwide dictatorship of international corporations (three-person corporate-accountable panels of 'arbitrators', whose rulings are non-appealable and aren't required to adhere to any nation's laws - it's shocking, but true)."

Dean Baker, "Point: We Had Trade Before We Had NAFTA and Other Trade Deals [...] The United States already had plenty of trade before NAFTA, CAFTA and the other trade deals negotiated over this period, just as it already has a huge amount of trade with the TPP countries. It will continue to have large amounts of trade with Canada, Japan and other TPP countries regardless of whether Congress approves the deal, so we are not arguing about whether or not the United States should trade. Rather, NAFTA and subsequent trade deals are about putting in place a set of rules that structure the pattern of trade to favor some groups and disadvantage others. At the top of the list of beneficiaries of these deals are the multinational corporations that want more protections for their investment in other countries."

Ian Welsh, "The Market Fairy will not solve the problems of Uber and Lyft: Here is the thing about Uber and Lyft (and much of the 'sharing economy'). They don't pay the cost of their capital. The wages they pay to their drivers are less than the depreciation of the cars and the expense of keeping the driver fed, housed and healthy. They pay less than minimum wage in most markets, and in most markets that is not enough to pay the costs of a car plus a human."

Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole, "Echo Papa Exposed: Inside Erik Prince's Treacherous Drive to Build a Private Air Force [...] One of the mechanics soon recognized Echo Papa from news photos - he was Erik Prince, founder of the private security firm Blackwater. Several of the Airborne staff whispered among themselves, astonished that they had been working for America's best-known mercenary. The secrecy and strange modification requests of the past four months began to make sense."

"Barack Obama says Libya was 'worst mistake' of his presidency: 'Failing to plan' for the aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi's downfall is the US president's biggest regret from his time in office." You'd think they would have thought of that, eh? Prepared, much? Thanks, Hillary.

There's more than one creep jacking up drug prices: Valeant Pharmaceuticals raises price of Cuprimine from $400 a month to $40,000 a month. It's the only drug for Wilson's disease, and without it, patients will die.

"The South's new re-segregation plan: The Koch brothers, ALEC and the sneaky scheme to undo Brown v Board of Education: Eighty years after Brown, Southern segregation is on the rise -- and "school choice" is its vehicle. [...] The rise of vouchers is not a response to popular demand. Vouchers have been put to voters in several states, and every time they have been soundly defeated, even in red state Utah. The revival of the voucher movement is nothing more than ideology and politics taking charge of schooling. School choice is not the 'civil rights issue of our time,' as its proponents claim; it is the predictable way to roll back civil rights in our time."

Cenk makes a good point about his recent problem with American Airlines. You're a captive in an airport and individuals who work for an airline have tremendous power to exact significant vengeance for the pettiest of reasons, and you shouldn't have to be Cenk Uygur to get any redress, but the fact is you shouldn't have to put up with this crap at all. No one should be able to yank your ticket (no refunds!) at the last minute of boarding a plane over some irrelevant nonsense that everyone knows poses no impediment or threat whatsoever. The crazy security theater needs to be gone, and with it the sense of entitled power that even the pettiest officials are able to abuse.

"I am on the Kill List. This is what it feels like to be hunted by drones: I am in the strange position of knowing that I am on the 'Kill List'. I know this because I have been told, and I know because I have been targeted for death over and over again. Four times missiles have been fired at me. I am extraordinarily fortunate to be alive. I don't want to end up a 'Bugsplat' - the ugly word that is used for what remains of a human being after being blown up by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone. More importantly, I don't want my family to become victims, or even to live with the droning engines overhead, knowing that at any moment they could be vaporized. I am in England this week because I decided that if Westerners wanted to kill me without bothering to come to speak with me first, perhaps I should come to speak to them instead. I'll tell my story so that you can judge for yourselves whether I am the kind of person you want to be murdered."

"How 'Maintainers' not 'Innovators' Make the World Turn [...] But those who've questioned whether technology really is society's salve aren't alone. Lee Vinsel, an assistant professor of science and technology at the Stevens Institute of Technology, wrote a dissertation on innovation and regulation in the early days of the automobile. But lately, he finds that the word 'innovation' is overused to the point of meaninglessness - and worse, that it can obfuscate the bleak realities of the status quo. 'In a culture where we forget about things like crumbling infrastructure and wage inequality, those narratives about technological change can be really dangerous,' Vinsel says."

"Exactly how male gamers react when they are forced to play female characters"

"Did Led Zeppelin really write 'Stairway to Heaven'?"

"Looking For Tom Lehrer, Comedy's Mysterious Genius"

Trailer for Doctor Strange

Frank Zappa steps off of a plane and encounters a US Navy Marching Band playing "Joe's Garage".

Paul McCartney hasn't performed "A Hard Day's Night" since the Beatles played the Cow Palace in 1965. Until now.

00:17 GMT comment


Sunday, 10 April 2016

You thought the leaden winter would bring you down forever

Bernie wins Wisconsin, 56.6%-43.1%, exceeding the polls. FiveThirtyEight showed a remarkable switch from giving Clinton an 83% probability of winning less than a week earlier, with a rapid turnaround as we got into April. (He was in Wyoming to announce it at a rally.)
* I don't suppose anyone really expects the same last-minute turnaround to happen in New York on 19 April, but Clinton's lead is narrowing....
* Bernie also won Wyoming, a big state with big precincts with not many people in them, 55.7%-44.3%. Curiously, however, Hillary gets the same number of delegates that Sanders does.

And, speaking of New York, the Bernie campaign made a reprise of their "America" video - only this time, for New York.

Not sure who the next president will be or for how long, but if we are still having elections after that, the next one has to be Elizabeth Warren. That video is so much fun!

Team Clinton must have decided that their email was running against refusing to debate Sanders in New York, since she'd already promised to do so. They 180'd and said they would debate - but they are using the DWS scheduling tool, apparently. Sanders released a statement: We are very pleased that Secretary Clinton finally has accepted our request for a debate about the needs of New York and America. Unfortunately, the dates and venues she has proposed don't make a whole lot of sense. The idea that they want a debate in New York on a night of the NCAA finals - with Syracuse in the tournament no less - is ludicrous. We have proposed other dates which they have rejected. We hope we can reach agreement in the near future. The people of New York and America deserve to see and hear a debate on the important issues facing the state and country" Wil Wheaton had a nice little tweet summing up the debate about debates.
* They did finally agree to a date, on April 14th, but it won't be open to the public. "Sources said each candidate will receive a private allocation of tickets to Thursday night's showdown that will be televised live on CNN and NY1. It remains unclear how each campaign plans to distribute those tickets. Representatives for the Clinton and Sanders campaigns did not respond to requests for comment."

The Sanders campaign apparently got stupid again and talked to the NYT about campaign strategy. This is always a mistake and they should stop doing it. "But allies and advisers of Mr. Sanders say they missed opportunities to run an aggressive political operation in 2015 that would have presented more of a challenge to Mrs. Clinton. She has now firmly built a big lead in delegates needed to clinch the nomination - a margin that would be smaller if Mr. Sanders had run differently last year, according to interviews with more than 15 people who are on his team or close to him." That's 15 blabbermouths who need to be told. And anyway, I think they're wrong. Greg Sargent agrees with me - so there.

And this is the video and transcript of The Daily News interview with Bernie Sanders. Regardless of what you may have read in the press, it was not at all a bad interview, although Sanders did not realize that tokens are no longer used on the New York Subway. Bear in mind that a lot of these, though they seem reasonable, are gotcha questions, and the editors who interviewed him either didn't understand his answers or were trying to make him look like he had never thought about these things. (And one question, well, Bernie is hamstrung as long as he can't just say, "Because Barack Obama protected the criminals.") But most people seeing this interview won't be thinking of those things, and to a lot of people - and, unfortunately, journalists - it looks bad that he didn't appear to answer those questions. Except, he did answer the questions, as Mike Konczal points out - it's just that the journalists didn't know what he was talking about - or, indeed, what they. were talking about, such as that it's pretty hard to know what a judicial decision (MetLife) is going to mean when it's been sealed and no one can read it. Or maybe they did know and were trying to trip him up. But all this raises the question of who wrote the interview questions, and whether it was someone who knew that the right answers would appear wrong to people who didn't understand this stuff. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks think the whole thing was a set-up. Apparently, Hillary Clinton doesn't know much about these issues, either, because she seemed to imply that it all made him #unqualified. (And then there was this, which some nitwit confused with "blood libel.")
* Incidentally, Ryan Grim even remembered that Hillary must know better, because she has said the same thing - but only to attack reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.
* And yes, asserting that a few journalists who support Clinton might be less knowledgeable about how to break up the banks than people who are experts in the field really does get you the "Oh, you're right and everyone else is wrong" treatment. Which has been the general tone of Clinton supporters all along. How'd that happen?
* Matt Taibbi on "Why the Banks Should Be Broken Up [...] The typical arc of this scam went as follows: Giant bank lends money to sleazy mortgage originator, mortgage originator makes lots of dicey home loans, the dicey home loans get sold back to the bank, the bank pools and securitizes the loans, and finally the bank sells the bad merchandise off to an unsuspecting investor. The criminal scenario that was most common was a gigantic bank buying up huge masses of toxic loans from a Countrywide or some other fly-by-night operation and knowingly selling this crap as a good investment to some investor."
* Krugman has gone so partisan for Hillary that Bill Black reckons Krugman's first post of this month was an April Fool's gag. It's hard to disagree, given that the same man who today argues that the big banks aren't a problem wrote in 2009 that "The collapse of Lehman Brothers almost destroyed the world financial system, and we can't risk letting much bigger institutions like Citigroup or Bank of America implode."

"The Disappearance of Hillary Clinton's Healthcare Platform: In an extraordinary magic trick, performed on a national scale, Hillary Clinton's healthcare platform has been disappeared. While policy analysts, news anchors, and columnists have been engaged in an intense debate over Bernie Sanders's 'Medicare for All' proposal, Clinton's incremental alternative has escaped almost all scrutiny - even among those who say they prefer it. Combining the election-season writings of our most prolific, liberal-leaning columnists at the New York Times, Huffington Post, Vox, Mother Jones, Politico, The American Prospect, etc. you'll find dozens of articles critiquing Sanders's single-payer plan. None have mentioned a single Clinton healthcare proposal as a point of comparison - merely that she supports a philosophy of incremental reform. [...] What would happen if the media lifted the curtain on Clinton's healthcare platform and introduced any level of scrutiny to her proposed improvements on the Affordable Care Act? They would find two categories of Clinton proposals: some that are so vague they're difficult to evaluate, and other more concrete plans that follow in the footsteps of one of Congress's most practiced healthcare incrementalists: Senator Bernie Sanders. [...] Previous national trends in incremental healthcare reform - from managed care through pharmacy benefit management, chronic disease management, narrow networks, and beyond - have often created lucrative new industries, but had dubious impacts on underlying healthcare costs or access to care. Most of Clinton's healthcare platform falls exactly into these danger zones, and should be received with a critical eye."

Max Sawicky says, "Hillary's getting a huge free ride on her purported mastery of the mechanics of policy, in contrast to Bernie. I decided to look into just one of her campaign initiatives. She likes to throw around the phrase 'universal child care' or 'universal pre-K.' But she isn't proposing universal either. She's proposing new money for pre-K, which is fine, but a) false advertising, and b) it's not clear how it would 'work.' [...] The rub is that they are no more specific or rigorously motivated than the Sanders proposals that people have been blathering about. [...] Note that bumping up Head Start does not get you to universal either. It's fine, but Head Start is a tiny program, relative to the relevant population. How to 'pay for it'? Forget it. They don't say, not that I care. All the critics of 'unpaid-for' single-payer BernieCare evidently don't care either. Criticisms of Sanders' vagueness on policy can be applied to HRC as well, if one delves just a little bit. I look forward to all the deep-dive analyses of HRC's projected path to universal health care coverage. Are there any? Why not? Because Hillary advocates are too busy blathering about Bernie. Those with policy expertise don't apply it to Hillary's treacle."

Another meme that's going around is that Bernie never works for downticket candidates and he didn't even work for the more progressive judge running against an extremist right-wing partisan in Wisconsin - but it just isn't true.

Greenpeace has been asking the same question of Hillary Clinton about her relationship to the fossil fuel industry, for a long time, but now when they ask it, she pretends it's "the Sanders campaign lying about me" - but that has nothing to do with it.
* Naomi Klein: "The Problem With Hillary Clinton Isn't Just Her Corporate Cash. It's Her Corporate Worldview. Clinton is uniquely unsuited to the epic task of confronting the fossil-fuel companies that profit from climate change."
* Funnily enough, it used to be a normal Democratic criticism of Republicans, but apparently it's a different matter when Democrats do it and Bernie Sanders asks why.

Hillary tries to charm young Bernie voters some more by stupidly insulting them: "Hillary: 'I Feel Sorry' for the Young People Who Believe Sanders Camp's Lies: I feel sorry sometimes for the young people who, you know, believe this. They don't do their own research. And I'm glad that we can now point to reliable independent analysis to say no, it's just not true." Yes, those poor little kiddies have never heard of Google.

At least the surrogates were civil in New Haven, and so was everyone else.

This piece is wonderfully sarcastic, but it's exactly what people don't want to admit they are saying when they suggest that Clinton's foreign policy experience is "better" than Bernie's: "Sorry Bernie Bros, Your Candidate Just Doesn't Have The Foreign Policy Experience Necessary To Prop Up A Pro-Western Dictatorship. [...] Argue all you want, but the bottom line is that Sanders has repeatedly failed to demonstrate the deep grasp of international affairs that a president needs to install politically expedient totalitarian regimes abroad. Sure, he can speak abstractly about international relations, but enabling the rise of the next Pinochet requires a lot more than abstractions. For that, you need actual diplomatic chops and hands-on experience supporting tyrannical despots, and that's where Sanders would be way out of his depth. I'm just being pragmatic here. Even the most fanatical Bernie Bro has to admit their hero knows nothing about the real-life challenges a president faces when undermining established foreign governments. The tough truth is that no amount of high-minded rambling about free college tuition can put machine guns into the hands of juntas sympathetic to U.S. strategic goals." Well, you have to admit, if by "experience with foreign policy" you mean undermining democracies and supporting coups and dictators, Hillary is indeed the one with foreign policy chops.

Clinton surrogate and financial industry shill Barney Frank has been running around insulting Sanders again, so RJ Eskow wrote, "Barney vs. Bernie: Sanders is the Real 'Progressive Who Gets Things Done' [...] Here's the truth: Hillary Clinton got very little done during her eight years in the United States Senate, while Bernie Sanders amassed an impressive record of accomplishments in both the House and Senate. [...] Before Barney Frank repeats his unfounded attacks on Bernie Sanders' record, he may want to take a second look at his own."
* Clinton isn't being quite accurate about Bernie and guns, either.

"Hillary is sick of the left: Why Bernie's persistence is a powerful reminder of Clinton's troubling centrism"

David Brock puts out an ad equating Sanders with Dick Cheney and Wayne LaPierre.

Riding to the rescue, Bill Clinton unites the party in wanting him to shut up and stop ruining everything. Hillary has had to work hard to put distance between herself and the right-wing dialogue that inspired the horrible criminal justice approach from the Clinton administration, and he just got up there and undid all her work.

The New York Times tells everyone to cool it.

Meanwhile, Bernie says he'll fight at the convention for a better platform.

Howie Klein, "Still Don't Know For Sure Who Beat Harry Reid Within An Inch Of His Life And Got Him To Retire But..." he and his "centrist" pals would do anything to keep progressives out of Congress.

Another chapter from Thomas Frank's Listen Liberal, "The Democrats own this mess too: Gerrymandering and obstructionism alone can't explain American inequality: Progressives are told time and again that Clinton and Obama are the best their party can do. It's a total crock."

"How Hillary Clinton is Like a Shitty Mechanic [...] Every pundit trying to paint Clinton as a pragmatist is selling me on my own shitty car. They're the bankrupt mechanic who needs you to buy one last round of repairs. Don't give up on the thing, they say. They don't really care what's best for you. The car's already in the shop, they say. One more go, for old time's sake? Think of all the progress this car has gotten you. Don't get all crazy thinking about a new car when you can sink a few thousand bucks into this shitbucket. As Lee Fang reported in The Intercept, most of the pundits being called on to talk about Clinton are quite literally in her employ. They run consulting firms that the Clinton campaign pays to advise them. They would be bad at their jobs if they told you to buy a new car. No, they're going to tell you how great your shitty car is. Or that you're not ready for a new car. Or that the world is not ready for everyone to drive good cars. Or elderly Blacks in the South drive shitty cars so your new car is somehow racist. Whatever it takes to get you to sign on to pay for the same old shit."

Let's be frank about this. Yes, the right wing wants to create division among Democrats and weaken the presumptive nominee in the general election. But that's not the real problem. The problem is that it's actually harder to attack Clinton from the right than from the left, because there isn't enough distance between her and the right to shoot from on economic issues. If she didn't leave so much room on the left to attack her from, Karl Rove and his friends would not be able to do it. It always requires a lot less creativity to be able to critique her on something that's true rather than have to make up lies (as they spent the '90s doing). Clinton's relationship with all of the wrong people is too cozy and all of the on-the-ground indicators are that she will go back to supporting odious ideas like TPP once she is in the White House. Look at that equivocal answer she gave on fracking - asking if you support fracking is much the same as being asked, "Do you support poisoning the groundwater and causing earthquakes in your town?" But she couldn't bring herself to oppose it. Her own policies and actions make her an easy target. Admonishing the left not to believe right-wing memes because they emanate from the right-wing is disingenuous when the critiques actually originate on the left and the charges are true. The issue isn't that Sanders supporters are dumb, it's that you have a bad candidate.

Pierce: "Your Taxes Are Being Spent on Making It Harder for Americans to Vote."

Scandal weekend: Two big scandals that lay bare the structure of global corruption.
* "Unaoil's Huge New Corporate Bribery Scandal, Explained [...] Unaoil and its subcontractors bribed foreign officials to help major multinational corporations win contracts, tens of thousands of the company's internal documents show. The investigation illustrates just how complicit big Western companies are in corruption overseas. It also shows that by enabling corruption, these companies fuel the kind of political instability that allows insurgencies like the self-described Islamic State to grow."
* "The Panama Papers - What Happens When Corruption Is Systemic: Over the weekend, an historic release of information came out in the Panama Papers showing exactly who, how, and when a vast network of people stole and hoarded money. Our minds easily grok the realities of Vladimir Putin embezzling a billion dollars through offshore accounts or the Prime Minister of Iceland stealing cash from public coffers. Where we fail more easily is visualizing the system of shell companies, accounting tools, trade regimes, tax havens, and legislative changes that make up the system of wealth extraction all of these individuals are using in collaboration with their partners in crime. As the media is quite likely to frame the Panama Papers as a few bad apples using legal financial instruments, I would like to offer an alternative that keeps our mental eye on the ball. What really matters is the architecture of wealth extraction that has been systematically built up in every country around the world."
* "What are the Panama Papers? A guide to the biggest data leak in history" Hiding money, laundering money, you name it - and even David Cameron's father are involved.
* Craig Murray, "Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak"
* Marc Wheeler, "Why Do They Call It Panama Papers, Anyway?"
* "How the U.S. became one of the world's biggest tax havens"
* "Bernie Sanders Predicted Panama Papers Scandal back in 2011!" - he objected to the Panama "free trade" agreement.

Don't forget to check out the Water Cooler at Naked Capitalism, where there are always loads of links like these about the latest on TPP, corruption, money-laundering, mortality rates, suicide rates, you name it.

David Dayen, "Why Are Voters Angry? It's the 1099 Economy, Stupid. [...] But The New York Times's Neil Irwin might have found an answer last week, when he pointed to eye-opening new research from Princeton's Alan Krueger and Harvard's Lawrence Katz on Americans in alternative work arrangements, which they defined as 'temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract workers, and independent contractors or freelancers.' This cohort of the workforce grew from 10.1 percent in 2005 to 15.8 percent at the end of 2015, representing an increase of 9.4 million workers. That's all of the growth in the labor market over the past decade."

"Solving the Mystery of the Schools: In recent years, American public education has been swamped by bad ideas and policies. Our national leaders, most of whom were educated at elite universities and should know better, have turned our most important domestic duty into a quest for higher scores on standardized tests. While it is true that students must do well on standardized tests to enter universities, few of the better universities judge students' knowledge and ability solely by such flimsy measures. Thus it is puzzling why public officials have made test scores the purpose of education."

"The Origins of Totalitarianism: Conclusion [...] Polanyi says that when a social structure imposes too much stress on too many people it has to change. We don't know how many disaffected people there are In the US, but it is clear that there is an enormous number, in both parties and among the unaffiliated, and that change will come. The US has always prided itself on its openness to change. We believe that everything will work out for the best, because we are the exceptional people, the City on the Hill. We assume that change will be for the best. Arendt points out the sickening reality: some changes are deadly."

No surprises here:
* "Study finds police fatally shoot unarmed black men at disproportionate rates."
* "Stereotype Shattered as New Study Finds White Youth Are More Likely Than Blacks to Abuse Hard Drugs."

"The Fall of King Coal: After 29 men died in his company's mine, Don Blankenship is fighting to stay out of prison. But he already won the battle to convert coal country to his brand of conservative politics."

"Mo. Supreme Court: Voter ID law is unconstitutional: In a 6-1 decision, the Supreme Court of Missouri struck down the state's voter identification law Monday. Supreme Court Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. cast the dissenting vote. Senate Bill 1014, signed into law June 14 by Gov. Matt Blunt, required Missourians to show a valid federal or state-issued photo ID to vote this November. Monday's decision upholds a September ruling by Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan that the ID requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote."

"Today in the UK, a woman was sentenced for the crime of an abortion - yet we act outraged at Donald Trump: She desperately tried to save up enough money to travel to England to have an abortion, but wasn't able to. Her housemates reported her to the police."

Jimmy Carter: U.S. Is an 'Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery'

For April 1st, The Talking Dog departed from his usual habit of (really) interviewing people who were directly involved with Guantanamo, and applied his format to Donald Trump.

'Generic presidential campaign ad' mocks political cliches

"In Blow to Big Pharma, Treasury Cracks Down on Corporate Tax Dodgers: New rule would 'wipe out the expected tax breaks Pfizer was counting on' from its $150 billion mega-merger: Issuing what some called a death blow to the proposed $150 billion merger between pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Allergan, the U.S. Treasury Department late Monday proposed new tax regulations aimed at cracking down on so-called corporate inversions. Corporate inversions allow U.S. businesses to avoid paying U.S. taxes by claiming foreign citizenship. The merger between Viagra-maker Pfizer Inc. and Allergan PLC, which manufactures Botox, would have been "the largest inversion ever," according to the Wall Street Journal, allowing Pfizer to profit from a lower corporate tax rate in Allergan's home country of Ireland."

"Two Losses for Bosses: SCOTUS Rules Against Walmart, Wells Fargo in Class-Action Suits: The Supreme Court made more decisions unfavorable to corporate executives in the wake of Antonin Scalia's death. Justices declined on Monday to hear appeals by Walmart and Wells Fargo in moves that upheld two nine-figure class action judgments that went against the multinational giants." This would almost certainly have been heard and overturned with Scalia still on the court, and Obama's nominee has a history of being unsympathetic to unions as well, so this was probably the best possible timing.

"Gov. Rick Snyder sued by hundreds of Flint residents over poisoned water supply: Republican Gov. Rick Snyder is the main target of a federal racketeering lawsuit over the Flint water crisis." RICO can be used for good. (Get the banksters next!)

We nominate our Lois Lane Award choice: "9-year-old journalist, chided for breaking murder story, puts critics in their places: Hilde Kate Lysiak received a tip, hustled to the scene, and beat all local journalists with the news of a murder by posting a short story and video online. Unfortunately for her competitors and critics, Lysiak is a nine-year-old third grader. Lysiak was recently profiled in The Washington Post and the journalism prodigy already has thicker skin than most adult reporters. Locals bashed Lysiak on Facebook Sunday night after she broke her big story. One person said they are 'disgusted that this cute little girl thinks she is a real journalist,' before asking, 'what happened to tea parties?' Another said Lysiak should be 'playing with dolls.' Lysiak was not only unfazed, but fired back. 'If you want me to stop covering the news, then you get off your computers and do something about the news. There, is that cute enough for you?'"

Chile students' debts go up in smoke: Artist named Fried Potatoes removed tuition contracts he says were worth up to $500m from private university and burned them."

"Meet a Doctor Who Provides Abortion Services BECAUSE of His Christian Faith"

Nice shirt.

RIP:
* Winston Moseley, Who Killed Kitty Genovese, Dies in Prison at 81, at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y. after nearly 52 years imprisonment. Everyone who has ever studied sociology or psychology must know this story, but very possibly you have it all wrong.
* Merle Haggard, Country Music's Outlaw Hero, Dies at 79: "Merle Haggard, one of the most successful singers in the history of country music, a contrarian populist whose songs about his scuffling early life and his time in prison made him the closest thing that the genre had to a real-life outlaw hero, died at his ranch in Northern California on Wednesday, his 79th birthday."

"Why it's OK to give to homeless drug addicts: If a person living on the streets decides to spend your money on drugs or alcohol, it's none of your business." I can't tell you how strongly I agree with this. And yes, I have had someone walk up to me and thank me for having given them a quid a time or two last year, and tell me they've gotten themselves together since, and that they are grateful for people like me who helped them in the interim.

"Could mushrooms be a secret weapon for disaster relief?"

The Real Difference Between Brown Eggs vs White Eggs - Actually a bunch of different things about eggs, including the egg-scare. I admit to getting bored before I read to the end, but I didn't see a place where they noted that the yolk is where the protein is and the white has more carbs.

"See inside the 'secret' Victorian station left abandoned in London."

"Mathematicians mapped out every Game of Thrones relationship to find the main character."

How to tell the new Star Wars film was shot at Canary Warf

Lois Lane versus Brainiac

"Tales of Brave Ulysses"

14:24 GMT comment


Saturday, 02 April 2016

This ain't that kinda movie

"Clinton Strategist: We Won't Do Any More Debates Unless Bernie Sanders Changes His Tone" - So, it seems Clinton doesn't like it that Bernie is actually running against her, and now no debates unless he stops doing so. Nobody asked whether we like her tone. But the tone of this is that Clinton is a poor, wilting flower of womanhood who can't handle criticisms of her record and now she's all upset because having someone campaign against her is so ungentlemanly and mean. Or, as Reno Berkeley put it, "Hillary's Refusal To Debate Until Sanders Is 'Nicer' Is A Sign Of Weakness." She's right: "Hillary Clinton has a history of using her gender to her advantage. On the one hand, she claims to be a strong, independent feminist, able to take on men in power. On the other hand, she is quite willing to play the damsel in distress if someone calls her out on her questionable behavior or actions. Because of this, she actually sets the feminist movement back. She claims the criticism lobbed at her is due to sexism. She advances the idea that women who criticize other women's ideas or behavior is traitorous. It's a show of contempt toward other women who dare question her past actions and words, and that in itself is dangerous."

Bernie's shut-out victory in the Alaska(81.6%-18.4%), Hawaii (69.8%-30%), and Washington (72.7%-27.1%) caucuses. It was just fun to see those figures. (Mousing over the precincts in Alaska is even more fun - man, they are small!)
* "#BernieMadeMeWhite: No, Bernie Sanders Isn't Just Winning With White People" - The Clinton campaign's continuing strategy of trying to make women and people of color who support Sanders invisible has really irritated women and people of color who support Sanders, but the idea that majority-minority Hawaii is the same as Vermont has made it a hashtag. "I knew it. I knew if Bernie won Hawaii it would magically become a white state." Only 23% of Hawaii's population is white. "Diversity" in Hawaii means, "We've got some white people here, too."

Cenk Uygur does an Interview With 2016 U.S. Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders On TYT - March 23rd 2016.

"Hmm, That's Strange... Why Would Clinton Use Trump Abortion Remarks to Attack Sanders? Even though Bernie Sanders immediately took to Twitter and called Donald Trump "shameful" for his comments on Wednesday regarding "punishment" for women who would have abortions, Hillary Clinton is now using the incident as an opportunity to attack her Democratic rival on the campaign trail by suggesting to voters that Sanders does not take the issue of women's choice seriously enough."

"Listen Up Bernie Supporters - Get a Grip"

Women Hate Donald Trump Even More Than Men Hate Hillary Clinton

"Hillary Clinton's Support Among Nonwhite Voters Has Collapsed. On February 27th, Hillary Clinton led Bernie Sanders among African-American voters by 52 points. By March 26th, she led Sanders among African-Americans by just nine points."
* "Why Are Millennial Women Gravitating to Bernie Sanders?"

Why Is Clinton Polling Worse Than Her Delegate Count? Early Voting: Yes, the answer, unique to this contest, is early voting. Let me explain. Anyone who's breathlessly watched as voting returns come in knows at least two things: early voting totals (from votes by mail, for example) are reported first; and on the Democratic side early voting heavily favors Clinton. Most of the analysis of this phenomenon ignores the way this "primes the pump," as it were, by creating the initial impression that Clinton will win a given contest, and instead focuses on other factors.." And when Hillary Clinton was declared the winner in Arizona before a single election-day count had been reported, that set the scene for all those people who were waiting in line. As the most familiar candidate, Hillary has an advantage with early voters in that many of them will be voting before they've even been exposed to Sanders and his campaign. But election day voters will have had time to become more informed, which makes the difference. "Which leads to a rather stunning discovery - if you subtract out the early voting totals in the Democratic contests and look at election day totals only, Sanders ties or beats Clinton, even in some of the "Clinton states" like North Carolina." Those Clinton states, by and large, are also states where Republicans have set voter-suppression methods in place. They advantage Republicans in the general election, but in the primaries, they give the advantage to the most established candidate and hurt the candidate who is most popular among younger voters.

Bernie Sanders Is Currently Winning the Democratic Primary Race, and I'll Prove It to You
* Abramson Claims: "Sanders is Winning;" Could He Be Right?

Ezra Klein and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Tax Calculator

The two Bernie ads for Hawaii:
* Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, "The Cost of War"
* Rep. Kaniela Ing Hope for a Generation

Why Sanders Needs To Stay In - It's All About The Down Ballot Races

How The Democratic Elite Betrayed Their Party And Paved The Way For Donald Trump
* Black Agenda Report: Why a United Front Against Trump is Dangerous Territory for the Left
* This one anecdote perfectly explains how Donald Trump is hijacking the GOP

It's almost as though the Democratic Party is trying to irritate people, isn't it? "Sanders bumped off D.C. ballot: Both the Sanders' campaign and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's campaign paid the $2,500 fee to appear on the June 14 Democratic primary ballot on time but the district's Democratic Party failed to inform the Washington D.C. Board of Elections until March 17, one day after the deadline."

Hillary Clinton's campaign promises not to call Bernie Sanders a fake Jew

A Dozen Reasons Sanders Voters Are Justifiably Angry at the Media Right Now

Some endorsements are just plain embarrassing: "Five Clinton Endorsements Among North Carolina Anti-LGBTQ Vote"

When the candidates come to town, it's expensive, but the public usually foots the bill. But this time, "Police Chief: Bernie Is the First Candidate to Ever Offer and Pay Police Overtime [...] Not only did Sanders pay, 'He actually asked up front how much, and he paid those costs, which makes him the first candidate to do so in my 23 years [of law enforcement in Iowa].'"

Matt Taibbi, "Why Young People Are Right About Hillary Clinton"

Don't Blame It All on Donald Trump: To treat Trump's candidacy as an anomaly is to overlook the system that gave birth to it.

No Memory Equals No Perspective
* Like Obama in 2008, Bernie Sanders Is Experiencing 'Dirty Politics' From Clinton's Campaign

This is an odd one: "Bernie MI Dir. Allegedly paid by Hillary PAC."

The 'Sanders Democrat' is paving the way for the radical left

"Economist Argues 'Pie in the Sky' Sanders Will, in Fact, 'Make Economy Great Again': Leading economist argues that Sanders' bold economic agenda would 'deliver standards of well-being for the overwhelming majority of Americans in ways that we have not experienced for generations.'"

From Dean Baker:
* "Magical Thinking: Sanders, Clinton, and the Federal Reserve Board"
* "Michael Gerson's Fact Free Attack on Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump: Gerson doesn't just get the basic story of productivity growth 180 degrees backward, he also gets the story of globalization wrong. Our manufacturing workers saw their pay lowered by globalization because that was the purpose of the trade agreements we negotiated. The point was to make it as easy as possible to relocate factories in Mexico, China, and other developing countries, putting our workers in direct competition with low-paid workers who were often willing to work for less than one-tenth the wages of our workers. At the same time we left in place or even increased the barriers that protect doctors, dentists, and lawyers from having to compete with their lower paid counterparts in the developing world or even other rich countries. (Apparently our trade negotiators think that doctors and lawyers lack the skills necessary to compete in the world economy.) For example, doctors still have to complete a U.S. residency program to practice in the United States and dentists have go a U.S. dental school. (We recently starting allowing graduates of Canadian dental schools to practice here as well.)"
* The Generational Warfare Industry
* "Washington Post Tea Parties Out on Representative Donna Edwards

"House Radicals Have Come Up With A Way To Derail The TPP." Will the crazy Republicans save us from another of Obama's horrible ideas?
* "Bernie Started The Congressional Progressive Caucus But... They've Moved In Other Directions." You let Steny Hoyer in anywhere, there goes the neighborhood.

"The feds have resumed a controversial program that lets cops take stuff and keep it: The Justice Department has announced that it is resuming a controversial practice that allows local police departments to funnel a large portion of assets seized from citizens into their own coffers under federal law. The "Equitable Sharing Program" gives police the option of prosecuting some asset forfeiture cases under federal instead of state law, particularly in instances where local law enforcement officers have a relationship with federal authorities as part of a joint task force. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize." This is a licence to steal, of course, and should be outlawed. So why have they resumed it? Oh.
* Well, at least there's this: "Supreme Court: Feds Can't Seize Untainted Assets Needed For Legal Fees."

"Every Day April Fools' for TPP Groupies"

The Housing Bust's Long Shadow [...] A new report from the Urban Institute's Housing Finance Policy Center offers a valuable glimpse at what has happened to the U.S. population's housing and credit status since the turn of the century. Of particular interest: A group of about 19 million renters who, at some point in the past 16 years, used to be homeowners."

ACLU, Lambda Legal to Sue North Carolina Over Law Banning LGBT Rights Ordinances

"My crude attempt to visualize the ENTIRE current U.S. healthcare coverage situation"

Democrats Need to Give Up Being Deficit Hawks Even When it Feels Good Politically

Joseph Stiglitz: "In 2016, let's hope for better trade agreements - and the death of TPP."

"U.S. Citizen Detained By Immigration Agents After Protesting Donald Trump" - We know what this is all about, but she said an interesting thing at the end of the article. "She said of the Obama administration: 'They built up the prisons, they built up the deportation programs, they made sure Border Patrol and ICE are the largest they've ever been. They would just be handing over the keys to Trump with a full tank of gas.'"

An Open Letter to Dolores Huerta

Federal Corruption Prosecutions Plummet Under Barack Obama

Feds Eye Blackwater Founder for Selling Mercenary Services Abroad

"Prosecutor Wants No Jail Time For NYPD Officer Convicted Of Manslaughter."
* "Trial and error: Report finds prosecutors rarely pay price for misconduct: According to The Innocence Project, our justice system often looks the other way at attorneys who withhold evidence."

David Dayen: "High Court Asks Administration to Weigh in on Predatory Lending Case: A SUPREME COURT order this week forces the Obama administration to make a decision: either save consumers tens of billions of dollars at the expense of debt collectors, car loan specialists, and student lenders, or defend those financial entities. In a one-line order, the justices on Monday asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the legal representative for the federal government in Supreme Court matters, to file a brief in the case of Madden v. Midland Funding, 'expressing the views of the United States.' In Madden, a class-action case, borrowers argued that loans sold by a bank to a debt collector should be subject to the usury law in New York state, which limits the interest rate that can be charged. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, and Midland Funding appealed to the Supreme Court. Legal experts are following the case closely, since it could, after nearly 40 years, herald a return to prominence for state-based usury laws, a key safeguard against predatory lending. [...] If the administration advises the court to hear Madden, it would presumably signal that it wants the Court to overturn the 2nd Circuit ruling, which would be a victory for the financial industry." This is actually a more important case than you might imagine, keep your eye on it.

"Koch Brothers Attempt to Kill Single-Payer Health Care in Colorado: Colorado's efforts to become the first state to pass a public, universal health care system are facing stiff opposition from right-wing organizations, many of which are funded by or affiliated with brothers Charles and David Koch. As expected, these moneyed interests are doing everything they can to stop the state from amending its constitution with a ballot referendum, Amendment 69, which would implement a statewide version of "single-payer" health care. If approved, ColoradoCare would cover every resident, regardless of employment or ability to pay. In October, organizers submitted enough signatures to put the amendment on the ballot. The vote will take place on Election Day this year."

Interesting heads-up from Lambert on the "TPP: '[T]he nation's mayors - most of them Democrats, especially in the larger cities - remain overwhelmingly committed to free trade in general and the Trans-Pacific Partnership in particular' [Rob Brownstein, The Atlantic]. These Mayors are Clinton's local surrogates. You can bet that if Clinton had changed her position on TPP in reality, that they'd be changing their tune." (There are, of course, a lot of other interesting links and observations in that post, too, including "Was There Election Fraud in Arizona? 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.")

California Raises Minimum Wage to $15: "According to the LA Times, Governor Jerry Brown has reached a deal with the state's labor unions to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour through legislation passed by both the California Assembly and Senate, avoiding a ballot initiative that may have instituted a $15 an hour minimum wage sooner."

"FBI Got Into San Bernardino Killer's iPhone Without Apple's Help"

"French journalist Florence Hartmann jailed by war crimes tribunal: The journalist Florence Hartmann, a former correspondent for Le Monde, has been jailed at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, the body established to try the criminals she devoted her life to exposing. She was arrested ahead of the verdict handed down to former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžic. Hartmann's lawyer said she was being held in isolation, a situation that will last until at least Tuesday because of the Easter holiday. [...] Hartmann was convicted of contempt of court in 2009 for revealing in a book that the tribunal had withheld crucial information on the Srebrenica massacre of 1995 from the nearby international court of justice. The conviction was later upheld on appeal."

"Foreign Money Is Flowing Into U.S. Elections, Alito's Lying Lips Notwithstanding" - Foreign countries wouldn't have to bomb America, they just need to use their money to do things like interfere with our elections, among other things.

"Three centuries of data debunks Osborne's economic theories." You could almost have the impression that rather than austerity being a reason to worry about debt, worrying about debt is an excuse for imposing austerity.

That Ehrlichman quote about why they invented the War On (Some People Who Use Some) Drugs is going around again, which no doubt makes it another good cue for a mention of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, a reminder that the real war started over a hundred years ago, and that Billie Holliday's "Strange Fruit" was a focus of Anslinger's hatred and his drug war vendetta.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, "Five prisons to close as falling crime rate leaves cells empty."

Startlingly, John McCain wrote this Salute to a Communist in The New York Times: "Delmer Berg wasn't a celebrity. He wasn't someone with great wealth or influence. He had never held public office. He was a Californian. He worked as a farmhand and stonemason. He did some union organizing. He was vice president of his local N.A.A.C.P. chapter. He protested against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. He joined the United States Communist Party in 1943, and, according to The Times, he remained an 'unreconstructed Communist' for the rest of his life. He was 100. He was also the last known living veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade."

RIP: Patty Duke, 69, of sepsis related to a ruptured intestine. Her performance as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker won her an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress at 16 and she soon had her own TV show, playing two identical teenagers who weren't actually twins - and one was British..

Interactive Google Doodle for the 105th birthday of Clara Rockmore, theramin virtuoso
* Video Google Doodle for the 101st birthday of fabulous movie star and inventor Hedy Lamarr

The Sessions - A live restaging of the Beatles at Abbey Road studios.

Your moment of Paul Merton on Have I Got News For You

We watched Kingsmen. I found it lots of fun and gratifying to watch.

02:58 GMT comment


Thursday, 24 March 2016

It really doesn't have to be this way

Yes, who appoints the next Supreme Court Justice is important, but so is who appoints cabinet members and hires other officials with whom to surround themselves. Hillary Clinton's financial advisor is Gary Gensler, the same man who, with Bill Clinton, shoe-horned the new deregulatory language into the Commodity Futures Modernization Act at the last minute in the dead of night and then tacked the whole ugly package onto a bill to fund the entire government - without most people who voted for it even knowing the CFMA had been changed so radically. Clinton says her husband - who created the "new economy" and rammed through deregulation Republicans could never pass because Democrats used to stop them - will also be an advisor. The man who crafted America's foreign policy of endless wars, Henry Kissinger, is apparently a mentor of Clinton's and he still has her ear.

I have no faith whatsoever that her Supreme Court appointments will be any better than a Republican's as regards these issues, and the only question is which social justice hostage she will choose to stamp "progressive" credentials onto while selling out the others. "Centrists" give a lot of lip-service to being defenders of reproductive rights while normally never lifting a finger to prevent the right-wing's attacks on them from being successful. They've treated the fight for abortion rights as icky, they come up with slogans like, "Safe, legal, and rare," trying to distract us from what they are saying. Rare? We're talking about a medical procedure here - do you say you want appendectomies to be "safe, legal, and rare"? If they really even believed that, wouldn't they have stopped voting to fund abstinence-only sex miseducation by now and returned to the older model that was, y'know, trying for truthful effectiveness? Oh, but Bill Clinton reversed his predecessor's infamous order not to fund abortions for our overseas military personnel, so he was a champion of reproductive rights - while abortion became increasingly inaccessible in most of the United States.

Yes, Trump and Sanders are both a response to the same problem, but that problem, more than anything, is that Democrats in leadership went over to the other side and started fighting their own party in favor of the same Republican policies we hate. And we hate those policies because they are terrible, damaging, dangerous policies. The kind of austerity policies that, imposed from without, created the fertile soil for fascism in Weimar Germany.

And since the Democratic leadership kept enabling Republicans and marching to the right, the Republicans had to march further to the right and went completely over-the-top. The authors of today's Republican Clown Car Politics were the Democratic Leadership Council.

If Clinton wins the presidency, I have no faith that she or her supporters will do a damned thing to right the course of the nation and restore the policies that used to protect our country and its people - and get rid of the policies that have been the fuel of rising fascism on the right. Trump may never be president, but what's behind him isn't just going to go away under the leadership of someone who promises more of the same.

The Huffington Post says, "Win Or Lose, Bernie Sanders Has Changed America," but I'm worried about what happens if all those Bernie kids get slapped in the face with a Clinton nomination and either Trump wins (which I still think is unlikely) or Clinton becomes president and continues the policies that have given us Trump and his movement of fascists in the first place. She can't keep the lid on it if she delivers on her promise to maintain the status quo.

Results Tuesday in Arizona, Idaho and Utah: The sparse polling for Arizona put Clinton ahead by at least 26 points, and she won the state but Bernie did do better than predicted and was only 18.1 points down.
* There weren't many polls available for Utah, either, and Clinton was ahead in January by 10 points, down to seven points in February and by this month Bernie was eight points up, but on Tuesday he came out massively higher at 79%-20.3. RCP only shows one poll for Idaho, in February, and it shows Sanders at +2, But he won 78%-21.2%. A decent night for Bernie.
* "AZ Lawmakers to hold special hearing on elections fiasco" - There were many complaints of voting problems in Arizona, with people having to wait in line for hours after never having to wait before. A huge turn-out meant the decision to cut polling places in Maricopa County from 200 to 60 meant people were waiting for four or five hours to cast a ballot. Moreover, registration lists appear not to have been up-dated and many people who had recently registered as Democrats found they were either not listed (first-time voters) or re-registration from Independent had not been changed.

Meritocracy of Failure: Video, Thomas Frank on the State of the Democratic Party, interviewed by Thom Hartmann.

Senator Sanders was the only candidate in the race who didn't show up for AIPAC, but he did make a speech from elsewhere. "Sanders Outlines Middle East Policy." Hillary Clinton was in attendance, however, and gave a "disgusting speech" that would have made any right-wing hawk proud. HuffPo said, "Bernie Sanders Delivered A Killer AIPAC Speech ... In Utah, while Slate said "Hillary Clinton's AIPAC Speech Was a Symphony of Craven, Delusional Pandering: Clinton had an opportunity to show some political courage. She decided to alienate the left instead." And Bernie did a One-on-One with Chris Hayes.
* Vox is taking a different view, saying that Clinton's speech "sounded as or more in tune with Israeli right-wing concerns than even many speeches by conservative Republican candidates." But that's okay, because she didn't really mean it.

"With Tax Plan, Sanders Beats Both Clinton and Trump by Double Digits: After accounting for 'No Idea,' the tax plan put forth by the only democratic socialist in the race is the winner... by far. Undermining the flawed trope that "everyone hates the tax man," for those who have opinions on the competing tax plans put forth by this year's presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders' proposal is the hands-down favorite. Beating out all other contenders from both major parties by double-digit margins, according to a new survey WalletHub/Survey Monkey published Monday, Sanders' plan was supported by 23 percent of respondents. In comparison, only 13 percent liked the plan of Hillary Clinton best, giving her a slight edge over the 12 percent who chose Donald Trump's plan. Taking the fourth and fifth spots respectively, Sen. Ted Cruz nabbed 8 percent support while Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) got 5 percent.

Not sure this gives her a problem in the general like the headline says, but it's nice to know so many "BernieBros" are women. "Sanders Wins Millennial Women Two-to-One; Clinton Would Have Millennial Problem in General Election. "Sanders now leads Clinton among younger voters by 54%-37%, an even bigger advantage than the 11-point edge he held in January's survey. Millennial women now back Sanders by a jaw-dropping 61%-30% while the divide among Millennial men is much closer, 48%-44%.

Pierce: "The Scariest Thing About Trump? He's Winning Fair and Square He has forced the Republican party to reckon with many decades of poor choices." Yes, but poor choices by the Democrats, too, for enabling the crazy and creating the economic conditions that are fertile ground for the growth of fascism. You can't hollow out the wealth of the working classes without creating this kind of reaction. Your choices are left-wing populism or right-wing populism. And the Democrats kept their mouths shut and nodded along, and Obama kept saying things like, "Republicans have some good ideas," while saving his insults for "the crazy far-left", and this is where you go. And now the Democrats are offering more of the same. It may delay the nightmare of a fascist leadership by a couple-few years to get Clinton into the White House, but unless she changes her mind and uses the power of the presidency to do everything possible to restore the economy, it's just not going to last.
* Charlie also isn't impressed with Brooks' worries about Trump.

Remember that time George W. Bush told us the thing to do after 9/11 was to go shopping? And remember that time a divorced mother of three told George Bush she couldn't make ends meet working three jobs and he said, "You work three jobs? Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that"? I wonder if Hillary is going to run through any more of George W. Bush's greatest hits. And by the way, Madame Secretary, no one should have to shop for health insurance.

"Think Again Hillary Democrats: 10 Reasons Why She Could Lose this Fall." I actually think a lot of this is wrong, but there are a few bits that didn't seem wrong at all. I still doubt Trump can beat Clinton, but this is a strange election season.

You don't see a lot of stories about Jane Sanders on the campaign trail, but she seems to have picked an unusual stop, having a confrontation with the notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio when she toured his equally infamous Tent City Jail.

"Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation, Endorses Bernie Sanders at Flagstaff, AZ Rally."

"Congressman calls on bankers to 'neuter' Elizabeth Warren - the 'Darth Vader' of Wall Street: Senior House Financial Services Committee member, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) told a conference of bankers Wednesday morning that they needed to 'find a way to neuter' Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to Politico. Luetkemeyer was at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington when he made the remark, also calling Warren 'the Darth Vader of the financial services world.'"

"Joan Baez calls Donald Trump supporters 'troglodytes,' says Bernie Sanders 'speaks to the human condition'.
* Sarah Silverman on Bill Maher Explains Why She Dumped Hillary For Bernie.

You gotta wonder what was President Bill thinking - presumably, he was talking about the Republicans, though how we can put that behind us is unclear, but it's pretty easy to take it that he means the Obama administration when he says, "'But if you believe we can all rise together, if you believe we've finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us and the seven years before that where we were practicing trickle-down economics with no regulation in Washington, which is what caused the crash, then you should vote for her,' he added." Oh, I see, he wants you to forget who put that no-regulation stuff into action, and that was the guy before George W. Bush. What was his name again?

Ian Welsh, "Why Poor White Males Are the Core of Trump's Support [...] So, for damn near 48 years, poor whites have done terribly. For forty-eight years, ordinary politicians have promised to do something about it, and nothing has improved. Do not tell me, or them, that they are 'privileged.' Yes, it is better to be poor and white than poor and black, and better to be a poor white man than a poor white woman, but people who are in pain do not react well to some smug, upper-middle-class jerk telling them they are privileged when their lives are clearly terrible."

"Report Of High Level DNC Infiltration In N. Carolina Sanders Campaign: Niko House is the President of North Carolina College Students for Bernie Sanders. In a recent video posted to youtube, he describes the orchestrated infiltration of the Bernie Sanders campaign in that state by well-connected DNC operatives. House goes into great detail to describe intimidation tactics used against his group that seemed counterproductive - suppression of advertising for events, reaching out to the community, etc. He goes into some detail explaining that the outsiders who stepped in and took over the campaign from the initial grassroots organizers made what seemed like a concerted effort to avoid reaching out to black leaders in North Carolina and basically ran the campaign into the ground. The videos are worth a watch and pretty illuminating. I'd also say they're disturbing, but we've all come to expect these types of tricks from the Clinton campaign."

Political cartoon: "Total electoral eclipse"

Robert Reich wants you to act now, because, "My old department -- the U.S. Department of Labor -- is close to issuing a new rule giving lower-wage salaried workers the overtime pay they deserve. (I explain the justification for the rule in the accompanying video.) But the moneyed interests don't want it. Just days ago, congressional Republican shills of big U.S. corporations introduced legislation to block the new rule. Anyone in America who still believes Republicans in Washington are working for average workers rather than for the privileged and the powerful few has no idea what's going on. Vote them all out of office this November. (From his Facebook page.)

Steve M. is talking about the Supreme Court nomination, and while he's talking about Republican tactics and how "moderate" Merrick Garland is or isn't, I noticed something interesting in the first comment, noting that, "I'm going further: in my view, President Obama has nominated the best candidate for the SCOTUS period. I don't just mean 'in these peculiar circumstances'. Garland is the lawyer's lawyer, the judge's judge. If there were a votes on these matters by every attorney in the nation and by every judge in the nation, I have no doubt that Garland would among the top 5 in the first and would be at the top of the second. But even that doesn't capture the brilliance of this nomination: this SCOTUS has two big needs plus one desperate one. It needs another criminal law expert; it needs another administrative law expert; and it desperately needs who would become its ONLY antitrust expert. That last one is actually alarming: if one goes back to the federal courts appointments of each of both Roosevelts, Wilson, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Carter, yes even GWB Bush, and dammit even to some extent first term Reagan, the one single golden thread that runs through the thousands of judges nominated by those 16 White Houses is an understanding of the dangers of business trusts and the necessity of a federal court system that gets the dangers of economic monopolies and monopsonies, and the need to bust trusts or at least regulate the oligarchical tendencies in the American economic system. Garland is an order of magnitude more adept and solid on antitrust law than even Breyer and Notorious." You know, that could be really cool.
* But Charlie Savage says, "Merrick Garland Often Deferred to Government in Guantánamo Cases." That's not the kind of thing that instills confidence.

Mike Signorile notes that the Human Rights Campaign has done it again, endorsing a Republican with only a 75% HRC rating over Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who has a 100% rating. Duckworth has been a hard worker on behalf of gay rights and she deserved that endorsement.(Source: The Hill.)

"The Job-Killing Trade Deal You've Never Heard Of: The China Bilateral Investment Treaty: In behind-the-scenes negotiations with China, the Obama administration is pushing a trade compact that could export jobs overseas and erode worker protections. Why?"

"Huge Victory: Senate Rejects the DARK Act: Today, the Senate did the right thing and did not advance a bill from Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) that can best be described as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. The bill would have prevented states from requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods and stopped pending state laws that require labeling to go into effect."

NYT Public Editor: "Were Changes to Sanders Article 'Stealth Editing'?" Stealth editorializing in a news story, more like.

Dean Baker with Trade Lessons for Thomas Friedman "Thomas Friedman once again stumbled into trade policy, telling us that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is exactly the sort of trade deal that tough negotiator Donald Trump would have gotten. Unfortunately, he gets some of the big things badly wrong."

"In Louisiana, the Poor Lack Legal Defense: I'm the public defender in Vermilion Parish, right now the only public defender. Due to a lack of funding for our district and our office, today we will be taking applications for our service but you will be put on a wait list."

"Illinois cuts off funding for its public universities."

Our friends in Philly might want to know that there is an alternative to monopolistic cable companies - and it's a no-contract deal.

"Flint's Police Chief Calls Break-In At Office Storing Water Documents an 'Inside Job': Suspicions are growing regarding a mysterious break-in at the city of Flint, Michigan's city hall, where an office containing documents relevant to the city's ongoing crisis with contaminated water were stored. Flint's new police chief, Tim Johnson, more or less made the implication the two events are linked on Friday, telling the Flint Journal the robbery was an 'inside job.' 'It was definitely an inside job,' he told the site, noting only a television has been confirmed to be among the missing items. 'The power cord (to the TV) wasn't even taken. The average drug user knows that you'd need the power cord to be able to pawn it.' 'It was somebody that had knowledge of those documents that really wanted to keep them out of the right hands, out of the hands of someone who was going to tell the real story of what's going on with Flint water,' Johnson continued. His opinion was echoed by Mayor Karen Weaver, who confirmed she also thought the timing and target of the robbery curious. 'Well sure (it's suspicious) when they go into a room where all the water files were and they take a TV, but not the cord to make it work, yes,' the mayor told the paper. '... We don't know if papers or files were taken because papers were all over the floor.'"

"Blacks at All Wealth Levels Are More Likely Than Whites to Be Incarcerated." Yes, being wealthier does, obviously, reduce the chances that you will be incarcerated, but, "Wealth does not provide the same degree of insulation from imprisonment for black and Hispanic males as it does for white males."

"Redaction error reveals FBI did target Lavabit to spy on Edward Snowden: Court-ordered release of Lavabit case files finally reveals Snowden was target of action that shuttered secure and private email service."

UK: "Scratch. One. Tory." Ian Duncan Smith resigned from the government, ostensibly because cuts to disability benefits offended his conscience (not bloody likely), and it would seem to portend a real revolt in the party and growing recognition that austerity is definitely not working and maybe George Osborne isn't so smart after all! It was nice to see the government back down on the cuts despite Osborne's efforts to keep digging that hole. In any case, Paul Mason reckons the IDS resignation is Jeremy Corbyn's victory: "In one speech he's blown apart the Tory front bench, made likely two substantial revolts, destroyed the cabinet and made the Tories look like incompetent fools." Even better, "It's a disaster for Blairites. They'd prepared their cabbage patches of opposition to Labour's own new fiscal rule, and spent weeks revving up to diss Corbyn over his expected mishandling of the Budget. Instead Labour is ahead in one poll, tied in another, and its radical left leadership looks not just vindicated politically, but - and this matters in the Commons - tactically: Corbyn and McDonnell executed a near perfect hit on the government by announcing their own fiscal rule; denouncing the benefit cuts; and now splitting the cabinet."
* "Snooper's Charter: Tech companies will have to give police 'back-door' access to customers' data. Companies will not be allowed to tell customers if their messages are being shared with police."

Brazil: "Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption - and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy [...] But the picture currently emerging in Brazil surrounding impeachment and these street protests is far more complicated, and far more ethically ambiguous, than has frequently been depicted. The effort to remove Dilma and her party from power now resembles a nakedly anti-democratic power struggle more than a legally sound process or genuine anti-corruption movement. Worse, it's being incited, engineered, and fueled by the very factions who are themselves knee-deep in corruption scandals, and who represent the interests of the richest and most powerful societal segments long angry at their inability to defeat PT democratically. In other words, it all seems historically familiar, particular for Latin America, where democratically elected left-wing governments have been repeatedly removed by non-democratic, extra-legal means. In many ways, PT and Dilma are not sympathetic victims. Large segments of the population are genuinely angry at them for plainly legitimate reasons. But their sins do not justify the sins of their long-standing political enemies, and most certainly do not render subversion of Brazilian democracy something to cheer."

Juan Cole: "Int'l Criticism mounts over massive Israeli 'land grab' in Palestinian West Bank."
* In Haaretz "Protesting Bigots and Demagogues at AIPAC? Don't Stop at Trump. Call Out Netanyahu Too [...] Israel has already built the wall that Trump only talks about. It has blighted the lives of millions of Muslims, as Trump says he would like to do. Its behavior has been far more bellicose than anything Trump has exhibited so far and its racism is not only more extreme, but a lot more deadly. The supporters of Israeli Trumpism have assassinated a prime minister, gunned down worshippers in a mosque, burned a Palestinian baby to cinders in its bed and committed thousands of other racist atrocities. But when the Israeli Trump-in-chief arrives in Washington, he is feted by AIPAC as the true representative of Jewish values. The anti-Trump. What perversion allows American Jews - or the majority of them, it would seem - to regard Donald Trump as the antithesis of their Jewish values and Benjamin Netanyahu as their exemplar? What cognitive bypass enables them to recognize the potential fascism of Trump, but not the existing tyranny of Israel's rule over the Palestinians, under the decade-long leadership of Netanyahu?

"Erdogan claims fighting terrorism outweighs democracy in Turkey: Combating terrorism is Turkey's highest priority, even higher than the rule of law, Turkish President Erdogan has said. Following a recent bomb attack in Ankara, he has pledged to crack down on Kurdish dissidents." So, pretty much like the New America.

In the fight against plastic, we now have the edible spoon. (Scroll down for video.)

Did you know what happens when you put a brick inside of a washing machine on top of a trampoline?

Some nice photographs of Whitechapel Bell Foundry, and a chat with Alan Hughes, its current owner. I've spoken to Alan a few times, mainly because if you phone the main number at the Foundry, he is sometimes the person who answers. Just think, the owner of Britain's oldest manufacturing plant answers the phone.

The Grateful Dead to Release July 1978: The Complete Recordings: "The collection contains five complete concerts, including the band's historic debut at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater."

The Wintergatan Marble Machine looks like something from Animusic, except that it's not an animation.

Ellen's Bernie video

"Bag Of Hammers" by The Granite Countertops

03: GMT comment


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

You don't need me to show the way

Just for the record, there is no way I would support pulling Warren out of the Senate to fill the VP slot, and no way I'd support doing the same with Sanders if Clinton is the nominee. They have more power in the Senate where they can be useful than a Vice President has, and I'm sure there is someone else who can fill that position.

Nearly all the polls said Clinton had Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio, although a couple of outliers suggested Sanders could take Missouri and was within breathing distance in Illinois and Ohio, but Clinton took them all. Results in Florida were right in line with polling predictions, coming in at 64.5%-33.3%. Much the same was true in Illinois with 50.5%-48.7%. In North Carolina, the result was exactly the RCP average of 54.6%-40.8%. Same again with Ohio's 56.5%-42.7% and with the razor-thin 49.6%-49.4% in Missouri. Uncanny, isn't it?

The next races on the schedule are Tuesday, 22 March, in American Samoa, Arizona, Utah, and the Idaho. Those will be followed Saturday the 26th by Democratic caucuses in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington. Polling for these so far has been sparse, and Sanders has only looked good in Idaho, but some of these states haven't been polled since January, so we don't have much information yet.

"All Three Networks Ignored Bernie Sanders' Speech Tuesday Night, 'Standing By For Trump'," with the sole exception of C-Span, so you can still watch Bernie stumping.

FULL: CNN Democratic Town Hall, Ohio, March 13, 2016, Bernie Sanders & Hillary Clinton

"Bernie wins Democrats Abroad primary 70% to 30% (bigger margin than Obama in '08): Democrats abroad are 'FeelingTheBern' strongly (nearly) everywhere: Bernie Sanders has won an overwhelming victory in the Democrats abroad primaries conducted in the week from March 1 to March 8. While it will take another week (March 21st) until official results will be released, it seems that Bernie has won an astonishing 70 percent of Democrats' abroad votes, winning the primaries in every country (with the lone exception of Singapore), exceeding Obama's 2008 - then big - margin of victory by another 8 points. Therefore It seems highly likely that Bernie Sanders will win 9 out of 13 pledged delegates, ensuring a 9 to 4 delegate split over Mrs. Clinton, thereby closing the overall delegate gap by 5 delegates."

"Ben Carson: I Didn't Want To Endorse Trump, But He Promised Me A Position." Leaving aside that this is the saddest endorsement ever and pretty embarrassing to have anyone guess at let alone admit in public, it's also kind of illegal: "Federal law expressly prohibits candidates from directly or indirectly promising 'the appointment of any person to any public or private position or employment, for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy.' The penalty for violations could include fines or a year in jail - two years if the violation was willful. "

"Inside the Protest That Stopped the Trump Rally: The plan worked better than they'd ever imagined. Then the trouble began."

Clinton reached too far when trying to find something nice to say about Nancy Reagan. (Or did she? DLC types have been instrumental in rehabilitating Republicans since the 1980s, and sometimes I think they just can't say enough about how much more wonderful Republicans are than those pesky liberals.) So she said something "so profoundly untrue that it's hard not to laugh when you hear it" - and yet, to Amanda Marcotte, this is just evidence that Clinton needs to get better at shading the truth.
* David Atkins: "How Clinton's Reagan-AIDS Gaffe Helps Explain Why Populism Is Rising"
"Dear Hillary, Please Fire Robby Mook and John Podesta [...] And if she keeps up this tactic of trying to smear Sanders' voting record to portray him as a friend of conservative causes, it may have serious consequences for the general election."
* "The shameful Bernie race smear: Hillary supporters have played a dirty, dangerous game: The toxicity -- and falseness -- of the "Bernie so white" narrative is a real stain on Democrats and the left. [...] Relentlessly painting Sanders as only having white supporters will continue a dangerous practice of misinformation and cavalier smearing. It would make it seem that no minority voters like him, or don't believe or accept the actual substance of Sanders' plans, or believe in his policies galvanizing the masses to either make Republicans and 'Republican acting' Democrats vote for those policies or vote them out of office. And it would make it appear as if all minorities are chastising or eagerly humiliating Sanders and his supporters every chance they get, for legitimate or illegitimate reasons."

Audio: Bernie Sanders and Latino voters

"Hillary Clinton's backseat driver: The running commentary from one of the stewards of the Obama legacy gets deep under the campaign's skin." It seems lately David Axelrod feels that, as a journalist, he has to call it like he sees it.
* "Hillary will never survive the Trump onslaught: It's not fair, but it makes her a weak nominee [...] And yet: What did Clinton actually do in his eight years on Pennsylvania Avenue? While writing this book, I would periodically ask my liberal friends if they could recall the progressive laws he got passed, the high-minded policies he fought for - you know, the good things Bill Clinton got done while he was president. Why was it, I wondered, that we were supposed to think so highly of him - apart from his obvious personal charm, I mean? It proved difficult for my libs. [...] One of the strangest dramas of the Clinton literature, in retrospect, was the supposed mystery of Bill's developing political identity. Like a searching teenager in a coming-of-age movie, boy president Bill roams hither and yon, trying out this policy and that, until he finally learns to be true to himself and to worship at the shrine of consensus orthodoxy. He campaigned as a populist, he tried to lift the ban on gays in the military, then all of a sudden he's pushing free trade and deregulating telecom. Who was this guy, really? [...] Clinton's wandering political identity absorbed both his admirers and biographers, many of whom chose to explain it as a quest: Bill Clinton had to prove, to himself and the nation, that he was a genuine New Democrat. He had to grow into presidential maturity. And the way he had to do it was by damaging or somehow insulting traditional Democratic groups that represented the party's tradition of egalitarianism. Then we would know that the New Deal was truly dead. Then we could be sure."

Bell Hooks on why she no longer supports Hillary Clinton
* "Dick Cheney heaps praise on Hillary Clinton: Former US vice president Dick Cheney has praised Hillary Clinton as one of the more competent members of President Barack Obama's administration, saying it would be "interesting to speculate" on how she would perform as president."

"Hillary Questioned Bernie's Record on Health Care and The Internet Made an Epic Correction."

Pierce: "Rahm Emanuel's Disastrous Stint as Chicago Mayor Is Officially a Campaign Issue" - Strangely, Charlie left out the part where Rahm seems to played politics with a murder investigation.

This is actually in The New York Times: "Via Legislative Side Doors, Bernie Sanders Won Modest Victories [...] Over one 12-year stretch in the House, he passed more amendments by roll call vote than any other member of Congress. In the Senate, he secured money for dairy farmers and community health centers, blocked banks from hiring foreign workers and reined in the Federal Reserve, all through measures attached to larger bills.""
* Oh, but wait, Matt Taibbi says the NYT piece changed in the course of the day: "How the New York Times Sandbagged Bernie Sanders [...] Not so fast! As noted first in this piece on Medium ("Proof That the New York Times Isn't Feeling the Bern"), the paper swiftly made a series of significant corrections online. A new version of the piece came out later the same day, and in my mind, the corrections changed the overall message of the article."

Dave Johnson, "What's The Problem With 'Free Trade'?: "Our country's 'free trade' agreements have followed a framework of trading away our democracy and middle-class prosperity in exchange for letting the biggest corporations dominate. There are those who say any increase in trade is good. But if you close a factory here and lay off the workers, open the factory 'there' to make the same things the factory here used to make, bring those things into the country to sell in the same outlets, you have just 'increased trade' because now those goods cross a border. Supporters of free trade are having a harder and harder time convincing American workers this is good for them." One thing Dave leaves out is that our higher standards also helped push other countries' standards up because we refused to do business with some countries that didn't share those standards. "Free trade" pushed them down again - in our country.
* Ted Rall, "Forget Free Trade"

It seems that Thomas Frank is letting it all hang out in his new book, Listen Liberals, judging from this excerpt in Salon. "Bill Clinton's odious presidency: Thomas Frank on the real history of the '90s [...] Someday we will understand that the punitive hysteria of the mid-1990s was not an accident; it was essential to Clintonism. Taken as a whole with NAFTA, with welfare reform, with his plan for privatizing Social Security and, of course, with Clinton's celebrated lifting of the rules governing banks and telecoms, it all fits perfectly within the new, class-based framework of liberalism. Clinton simply treated different groups of Americans in radically different ways - crushing some in the iron fist of the state, exposing others to ruinous corporate power, while showering the favored stratum with bailouts, deregulation, and a frolicking celebration of Think Different business innovation. Some got bailouts, others got 'zero tolerance.' There was really no contradiction between these things. Lenience and forgiveness and joyous creativity for Wall Street bankers while another group gets a biblical-style beatdown - these things actually fit together quite nicely. Indeed, the ascendance of the first group requires that the second be lowered gradually into hell. When you take Clintonism all together, it makes sense, and the sense it makes has to do with social class. What the poor get is discipline; what the professionals get is endless indulgence."

David Neiwert on waving the bloody shirt and Trump rally violence.

David Dayen, "The Most Important 2016 Issue You Don't Know About: Antitrust regulation may sound dull. It's also the root of our economic evils. We've seen plenty of economic issues discussed in this presidential election: the proper level of financial regulation, the high cost of prescription drugs, the clustering of wealth at the very top. But all of these things, and many more, boil down to one problem: Practically every major American industry has become extremely concentrated, and this creeping monopolization has increased inequality, created economic hazards where they previously didn't exist, and heightened public anxiety. [...] Amazingly, Wednesday's hearing showed that antitrust policy is not a partisan issue. It's even become a point on the campaign trail: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have stressed greater antitrust enforcement and breaking up monopolies, and while not specifically talking antitrust, Donald Trump wants to inject competition into the drug industry. But the pressure from Congress is even more encouraging, because it could be all it takes to spur the agencies to do their job. And aggressively enforcing the antitrust laws would be one of the best ways to reinvigorate our economy."

"Campaign Donations Could Keep 'Carried Interest' Tax Loophole Open: New York legislators announced Monday they're introducing a bill to end a perk that lets financial executives pay a significantly lower tax rate than most Americans. Eliminating the so-called 'carried interest' loophole could generate $3.7 billion a year in revenue for the state of New York - but if the financial industry has its say, the movement there and similar measures in other states will face as tough a battle as it has in the nation's capital."

Dean Baker: "Raising Wages: What's Wrong With Ending Protection for Those on Top?

"Cashing in on Kids: 172 ALEC Education Bills Push Privatization in 2015: Despite widespread public opposition to the corporate-driven education privatization agenda, at least 172 measures reflecting American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bills were introduced in 42 states in 2015, according to an analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy, publishers of ALECexposed.org and PRWatch.org."

"The Mass-Market Edition of To Kill a Mockingbird Is Dead: Harper Lee's estate will no longer allow publication of the inexpensive paperback edition that was popular with schools."

"Cambridge university college cancels Jules Verne party as 'it may cause offence': Students from a Cambridge University college have cancelled a party themed on the Jules Verne novel Around the World in 80 Days because wearing costumes in the style of another culture may cause offence."

I finally got around to reading the Mother Jones profile of Bernie Sanders that contains, among other things, his so-called "rape" essay from 1972. I was actually expecting him to have said something embarrassing in it, but he didn't, really. It's not about rape, or really even about rape fantasy - although his jump-off is that many people have rape fantasies (which is absolutely true) - so much as gender roles in which men are expected to dominate and women expected to submit (which he's clearly against). He basically says sexism robs both women and men of genuine love and knowledge of each other. Bearing in mind that at the time, pretty much no one had any analysis of bdsm, Bernie made a pretty game try. His language is unsophisticated, but the truth is that even today many feminists make the same equation between bdsm fantasy and gender roles (with more high-falutin' language). Nothing to be ashamed of, there, although I don't think the relationship between dominance fantasies and male roles, and submission fantasies and female roles, is as direct as many people assume.

If you can stand Facebook, this is one of those moments when Facebook lifts your heart.

Baby Elephants Who Want To Be Lap Dogs

Awkward Metal Band Photos

Russian media report on Fred Phelps' death. A couple of years old, of course, but I just saw it, and found it entertaining.

"My Back Pages" performed by diverse hands for Bob Dylan's 30th anniversary, featuring vocals by Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Dylan, and George Harrison.

Candi Staton "You Got The Love" live, 2008

Martha and the Vandellas, "You've Been In Love Too Long"

George Martin and The Beatles: The Making Of "Please Please Me"

21:44 GMT comment


Saturday, 12 March 2016

Some are gone, and some remain

The news is happening so fast I'm getting lost in it.

Primary schedule. Next races are Saturday the 12th (DC and Guam for Republicans, Northern Marinas for Democrats). The next states are on the 15th: Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Island (R), and Ohio - right now showing strong for Clinton.

FULL SPEECH : Univision Democratic Primary Debate Miami Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders Mar 9,16. The video of Sanders talking about Cuba and Ortega is probably something we'll be hearing about again, I'm sure the Republicans enjoyed it. It'll be tricky for him to make the sale on that stuff, for sure.
* AP fact check: Eye-popping claims about Sanders by Hillary.
* The Majority Report did a decent debate review on this. It sounds like the union people in Michigan were pretty aggravated by Clinton's claims about Bernie's vote on the auto industry bail-out, so who knows what she was thinking when she did it again? And the Koch brothers? Really? When she's the only one who's ever benefited from contributions from the Koch brothers (donors to the DLC)? Is it part of her strategy to just try to aggravate him by smearing him until he gets upset and shakes his finger so her supporters can wail about how sexist he is? (Because she is such a helpless, wilting flower that she needs to be protected from the mean old man?)
* In an interesting role-reversal, "Hillary spoke 32% longer, moderators interrupted Bernie 150% more."
* Pierce: "Bernie Sanders Said Something We Weren't Ready to Hear Last Night. It's also something that could easily be ratfcked by the Republicans: Well, at least I lived long enough to hear a presidential candidate from one of the major parties refer to 'the so-called Monroe Doctrine.'" The Republicans? Hillary started on it right there.

Video: "Burlington Mayor Bernie Sanders Address at Puerto Cabezas Sister City Program: At the invitation of the Nicaraguan government, Sanders participates in the 7th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, visits the Atlantic coast and initiates a sister-city program with Puerto Cabezas on July 10, 1985."
* 2016: Sanders: 'Democracy is not a spectator sport'.

"The real reason Bernie and Hillary supporters can't seem to get along" - Except this sounds more like a neoliberal's story about the difference between Clinton and Sanders. I don't recall hearing Bernie say anything about "equality of outcomes" - do you? And I haven't heard Hillary Clinton suggest doing anything that will "incrementally" improve things for women and people of color in our lifetimes.

I found watching the Democratic debate in Flint excruciating. It started off well enough, with Bernie hitting hard, but there were moments that made me cringe with missed opportunities and missteps. When Clinton falsely claimed that Sanders had voted against saving the auto industry, he needed to make it clearer that he had actually voted for it, not against it. (I'm sure she knew it.) And when asked about personal experience in his past that made racism matter to him, he needed to be personal. He grew up Jewish in the shadow of the Third Reich at a time when little kids in America still got beat up for being Christ-killers, and it had to inform his thinking even if he never got beaten up himself, He shouldn't have had a problem bringing those experiences together. And though I knew from context what he meant, I cringed when he said, "You don't know what it's like to be poor." I knew it wasn't what he meant, but that line could be fatal. I do think he needs to be more prepared to call Clinton on her smears and lies and be sharper about it, too. He's still afraid to punch, despite his strong opening. Yes, he was more combative, but it was like he didn't realize yet what kind of a fight he was in. Well, the kind of fight that when Clinton lies, her supporters accuse him of sexism when he tries to correct the record.

March 8th: "Washington Post Ran 16 Negative Stories on Bernie Sanders in 16 Hours [...] All of these posts paint his candidacy in a negative light, mainly by advancing the narrative that he's a clueless white man incapable of winning over people of color or speaking to women. Even the one article about Sanders beating Trump implies this is somehow a surprise - despite the fact that Sanders consistently out-polls Hillary Clinton against the New York businessman." But it's all okay, because the WaPo investigated themselves and decided they were not guilty.
* This is interesting. If you look at the URL, you can see the original title of this story was "Sanders would be better against Trump than Clinton," but that's not what you see when you click through to The Hill.
* "Hillary really could lose to Trump: Her weakness with the working class is Trump's strength": Clinton will have a hard time winning over voters fed up with corporate-friendly trade deals."

Super Saturday saw Clinton getting a big win in Louisiana - as predicted - and Sanders having a blow-out win in Kansas (67.7-32.2) and taking Nebraska (57.1-42.9).
* The Young Turks on SUPER Biased Super Saturday Headlines From Mainstream Media when Kansas disappears from coverage.
* Sanders won Maine (64.3-35.5) in what was reported to be a huge turn-out.
* Big upset in Michigan: Nate Silver was tipping Clinton to win at 99-1, and the most recent polling showed her ahead 13 points (Monmouth) and 27 points (Fox), but Sanders took the state 49.9%-48.2%. "At a party for Clinton supporters in Detroit, many were shocked as results began to flood in - especially as just a day earlier their candidate had effectively called on Sanders to drop out and 'end the primary'."
* On the other side of the ledger, Clinton was polling at 65-11 against Sanders in Louisiana but she took 71.1% against Bernie's 23.2%.
* A lesson for supporters from a comment at the Guardian from Mark Thomason: "We did our part here in Michigan. It was a lot of work by a lot of people to upset a 20 point projection. It was door to door by young black women and Senior Center talks by elderly white women that overturned the assumptions of Hillary's strengths. It could not have happened without that. The entire margin was 18,500 votes out of 1.1 million. The same margin of black voters Hillary had in the South in just Wayne County would have been enough to change the outcome. She got just 60% in Wayne County. This outcome was not one group overpowering another. It was all of us.
* FiveThirtyEight: "What The Stunning Bernie Sanders Win In Michigan Means"

Marcy Kaptur, the "Longest-serving woman in the House makes her case for Bernie Sanders."

Although predictions leading up to Super Tuesday projected Bernie Sanders to lose all but perhaps two states, the media and the Clinton camp started talking like the primaries were all over and done despite the fact that he won four of them and outperformed projections even in several of the states he lost. Given the trends, the likelihood appears to be that he might have won Massachusetts given an additional week, but he surprised everyone by taking Colorado (58.9-40.4), Oklahoma (51.9-41.5), and Minnesota (61.7-38.3). There were no surprises in Vermont, of course, where Sanders won with 86.2% of the vote. Clinton is now way ahead of Sanders in delegate count, but some of the biggest states are still to come and Sanders still has a good chance to take them. Clinton's wins Tuesday were largely in states Democrats are expected to lose in the general.
* Trump won most of the primary states, but Rubio took Minnesota and Cruz took Texas, Oklahoma, and Alaska. Current polling still shows Sanders beating all three of them easily in the general, with Clinton only beating Trump.
* Did thousands of Massachusetts Democrats really leave the party to support Trump?
* "Latino Vote Helps Bernie Sanders Surge to Victory in Colorado in Massive Democratic Caucus Turnout" - So, maybe all that hocus pocus about how Latinos couldn't really have voted for Sanders in Nevada was just wishful thinking after all.
* "How Hillary Clinton's Super Tuesday 'Win' Relied on Dismal Voter Turnout"
* I'd like to see more about this, but my default position is that when exit polls disagree with voting results, something is probably amiss.

The Political Compass for the current bunch of candidates. Unfortunately, there's too much missing from this chart to account for both the similarities and divergences between candidates, but there was always that problem.

Some Democrats are fearful that not electing a "safe", establishment candidate could lead to a repetition of 1972. But what if the year they should really take a lesson from has been 1968? That was the year the Democratic establishment imposed the "safe" candidate - Hubert Humphrey: "When the Democrats met in Chicago late in the summer of 1968, the field had been tragically narrowed two and a half months earlier with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. Only two candidates remained, Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy. Humphrey had not won a single primary. Indeed, his primary total was a minuscule 161,143 votes. But he controlled the most delegates. By contrast, McCarthy had received 2,914,933 primary votes, almost 20 times the number that Humphrey could claim. Yet, by the time the balloons had settled onto the convention floor, a Democratic Party controlled by machine politicians and union leaders had chosen Hubert Humphrey as the Democratic nominee." That didn't work out too well, did it?

"Meet the fossil-fuel loving hedge fund billionaire behind Hillary's surge"
* This is from last October, and it's Jack Schafer, but he's right: "The Hole in Hillary's Flip-Flop Excuse: She keeps saying new information makes her change her mind on policy. But what new information?"
* Corey Robin says when Clinton tells the truth, believe her: "Amid all the accusations that Hillary Clinton is not an honest or authentic politician, that she's an endless shape-shifter who says whatever works to get her to the next primary, it's important not to lose sight of the one truth she's been telling, and will continue to tell, the voters: things will not get better. Ever. At first, I thought this was just an electoral ploy against Sanders: don't listen to the guy promising the moon. No such thing as a free lunch and all that. But it goes deeper. The American ruling class has been trying to figure out for years, if not decades, how to manage decline, how to get Americans to get used to diminished expectations, how to adapt to the notion that life for the next generation will be worse than for the previous generation, and now, how to accept (as Alex Gourevitch reminded me tonight) low to zero growth rates as the new economic normal. Clinton's campaign message isn't just for Bernie voters; it's for everyone. Expect little, deserve less, ask for nothing. When the leading candidate of the more left of the two parties is saying that - and getting the majority of its voters to embrace that message - the work of the American ruling class is done."
* Clinton's strategy promotes right-wing memes to beat Bernie, Part 12
* "Hillary's State Department Pressured Haiti Not To Raise Minimum Wage to $.61 An Hour."

"Hillary Clinton Said Outsourcing 'Benefited' America After She Criticized Bush Officials For Saying The Same Thing."
* "The Clinton-Backed Honduran Regime Is Picking Off Indigenous Leaders: The names of Berta Cáceres's murderers are yet unknown. But we know who killed her. Hillary Clinton will be good for women. Ask Berta Cáceres. But you can't. She's dead. Gunned down yesterday, March 2, at midnight, in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca, in Honduras. Cáceres was a vocal and brave indigenous leader, an opponent of the 2009 Honduran coup that Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, made possible."
* After all that Obama-hugging last week, "Hillary Blames Obama: His Syrian 'Failure' Led To Rise Of ISIS."
* It's not so much that Bernie Sanders is wonderful, it's that nominating Hillary Clinton is likely to encourage the growth of fascism. Chris Hedges, "The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism: College-educated elites, on behalf of corporations, carried out the savage neoliberal assault on the working poor. Now they are being made to pay. Their duplicity - embodied in politicians such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - succeeded for decades. These elites, many from East Coast Ivy League schools, spoke the language of values - civility, inclusivity, a condemnation of overt racism and bigotry, a concern for the middle class - while thrusting a knife into the back of the underclass for their corporate masters. This game has ended. There are tens of millions of Americans, especially lower-class whites, rightfully enraged at what has been done to them, their families and their communities. They have risen up to reject the neoliberal policies and political correctness imposed on them by college-educated elites from both political parties: Lower-class whites are embracing an American fascism.
* Marcy Wheeler: "Hillary Is Now Picking and Choosing Which Obama Accomplishments to Take Credit For: According to Hillary Clinton's latest campaign ploy, she deserves credit for domestic policies passed under Obama - notably, ObamaCare - but not issues - in this case, trade deals - she negotiated as Secretary of State.""
* "Even critics understate how catastrophically bad the Hillary Clinton-led NATO bombing of Libya was: The NY Times reports on Clinton's war leadership don't go far enough. Hillary's disaster in Libya should haunt her."
* The real scandal about Clinton's emails isn't that she had her own server or committed any crime by having it, it's what they reveal about her policies.
* In 2003, everyone knew there was no reason to invade Iraq, including Hillary Clinton.

"Former Massachusetts Democratic Chair: Bernie Sanders 'speaking the truth to the American people'"
* "I've Never Seen a Presidential Candidate Talk About Spirituality as Beautifully as Bernie" - This link is worth clicking just for the graphic.
* Is Bernie losing the photo-staging war? I know the Clinton campaign likes to pretend she owns all of the People of Color vote, and her campaign started off with the "He doesn't connect with minorities" meme long before there was any evidence of whether he did or didn't, and she's certainly kept pounding it, along with her media courtiers, despite the fact that this doesn't at all appear to be true in the Asian and Latino communities. She definitely locked up the black establishment very quickly, although there are certainly many younger black voters (and much of the black political left, right on down to original Black Panthers), who see Bernie as the only choice. But it's curious that Sanders' aversion to pandering is so severe that he hasn't managed to promote a few photos of those many black, Asian, and Hispanic supporters gathered around him the way Clinton always seems to manage to do. He's got more than black celebrities behind him and plenty of younger black kids on his side, so it wouldn't hurt to get them into the photos more often.

What is it like to work with Bernie Sanders? [...] In short, What was it like to work with Senator Sanders in the capacity that I had? It was great, and I can't speak highly enough of him. He and his office were never less than professional, there was never a sense that they were rushing to judgment, and I could always expect that they'd treat whatever information we provided them with fairness. It was very rare in my line of work to come across a team like the one he put together and then led by example. If everyone in Congress had an ethic like his - even if not the philosophy - I think we'd have a much better political climate."

Gaius Publius liked something I wrote elsewhere, so he made a post out of it: "The Goal of the Neo-Liberal Consensus Is to Manage the Decline."

"Export-Import Bank Debate Puts Sanders at Odds With Senate Democrats: When Democratic presidential candidate Bernard Sanders' campaign blasted fellow candidate Hillary Clinton this weekend for her support for the Export-Import Bank, it was highlighting an issue on which he stood alone among Senate Democratic caucus members. 'The Export-Import Bank provides corporate welfare to some of the largest multi-national corporations that are moving jobs to China and stashing their profits in tax havens like the Cayman Islands,' policy director Warren Gunnels said in a statement issued ahead of a Democratic debate in Flint, Mich. Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, was the lone member of the caucus to vote against reauthorizing the export financing agency when it came up for votes last year, including on the tests vote in late July that proved a bipartisan group of more than 60 senators supported the underlying reauthorization."

Why Is DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz Co-Sponsoring a Bill to Help Predatory Payday Lenders?
* Pierce: "It's Time for DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Ride Off into the Sunset."

"Michigan mayor says he was nearly kicked out of Dem debate."

Mitt Romney endorses Hillary Clinton in Democratic Primary.

"U.S. hedge fund managers pour money into 2016 race and Trump is a factor: Major U.S. hedge fund managers are on pace this year to more than double the amount they gave in the 2012 election campaign, with independent fundraising groups backing Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and Republican rival Ted Cruz receiving the most so far.

Peter Beinart completely loses his mind. Seriously, he supports Clinton, but he thinks Dems should switch over if they can so they can vote against Trump, and for Marco Rubio. No matter how you look at this, it makes no sense. Trump's saving grace as the GOP candidate is that most people can't stand him. But after watching Trump's circus act for months, a lot of people are too dazzled to notice how horrible Rubio is and they will imagine that he's more "reasonable" and they may find him easier to vote for. And given Beinart's support for Clinton, you'd think he'd prefer the GOP candidate to be the only one polls show Clinton likely to beat.Those polls have been too consistent for too long now to completely write them off; they show Sanders leading Cruz and Rubio comfortably while Clinton loses to them. Of course, her spread against Trump isn't so good, either, showing as low as only 1% (or less, at one point), but Sanders beating him comfortably. And before you sneeze at those polls, bear in mind that a significant number of Democrats really don't like Clinton. Of course, if Trump keeps running to the left, and Clinton keeps telling everyone she's not going to change things, Trump may just be the one to beat her after all. Maybe that's what Beinart is really afraid of.
* But Tad Devine has also lost his mind: "Sanders Campaign Strategist Suggests a Clinton-Sanders Ticket" - You don't start talking this way unless you're already giving up, but it's dumber than that, because Bernie is worth a whole lot more in the Senate than as VP, where he will have no power. Whatever happens in November, we still need Sanders in the Senate. I really do want to slap people who keep suggesting that our most valuable Senators give up their seats for a position that's worth very little.

Kevin Drum seems to have forgotten to drink his Kool-Aid: "On Second Thought, Maybe Bernie Sanders' Growth Claims Aren't As Crazy As I Thought."

As usual, the Republicans are in turmoil, waiting for the neoliberals to save them, no doubt. Right now their big worry is that they've exposed what they are and it's making conservatives introspect, which to them is a bad thing. They say scary things: "'It's scary,' South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who has endorsed Rubio, said on ABC's 'This Week.' She added: 'I think what he'll do to the Republican Party is really make us question who we are and what we're about. And that's something we don't want to see happen.'" But it's a bit late to worry about things like that when more than one Republican is waking up: "I'm a lifelong Republican but Trump surge proves that every bad thing Democrats have ever said about GOP is basically true."

"Watch a Democratic Senator Explain Donald Trump To Janet Yellen [..] 1.The Senator feels like he got the ol' bait-and-switch when he was convinced to support the Export-Import Bank - a controversial government fund that helps corporations make deals and reap profits. Its critics called it crony capitalism, but big government contractors like Boeing played hardball with members of Congress by threatening to shut down manufacturing here and, therefore, eliminate jobs if their private little (taxpayer-funded) slush fund was not refilled. Sen. Donnelly used it as a case-in-point to illustrate how the wider economic agenda is built on a bait-and-switch that promises good jobs and white picket fences if the 'business climate' is improved with tax breaks, slush funds and deregulation, but always ends up moving capital away from American labor and shifting profits into offshore tax havens." It's unfortunate that he got sidetracked on monetary policy, because all this is the result of political decisions, and Yellen's answer was just the usual voodoo about how stuff is happening as if it simply has to.
* "Trump Taps Into Economic Anxiety Resulting From 'Free Trade'"
* "Donald Trump: The Protector: He will make you safe. He will give you health care. He will give you jobs. He will build a wall. Protecting you is his prime directive."
* George Lakeoff: "Why Trump?
* "Trump Supporters Aren't Stupid: America incentivizes racism in working class white people, and if we fail to understand this, we will fail to fix it."
* Thomas Franks's latest is, "Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump. Here's why, and it isn't just a slew of insults about bigotry. It also contains this sentence: "The views of working-class people are so foreign to that universe that when New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wanted to 'engage' a Trump supporter last week, he made one up, along with this imaginary person's responses to his questions."

"Jim Webb: I could vote for Trump, but not Hillary: It's nothing personal about Hillary Clinton, but the reason Donald Trump is getting so much support right now is not because of the, you know, 'racists,' etc. and etc.,' Webb said. 'It's because a certain group of people are seeing him as the only one who has the courage to say, 'We've got to clean out the stables of the American governmental system right now.' If you're voting for Donald Trump, you might be getting something very good or very bad. If you're voting for Hillary Clinton, you're going to get the same thing. Do you want the same thing?'" Make no mistake, Jim Webb is no one's hero and his tenure as a Democrat was brief. But he he's right about one thing: Hillary Clinton is promising more of the same thing that's ailing us.

Blast from the past from the much-missed Molly Ivins: "I will not support Hillary Clinton for president: The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It's about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief."

I wish I could believe this headline: "The Democratic Primaries Have One Clear Loser: Third Way Centrism." I don't see how he justifies that claim. He sets up his definition of the Third Way candidate he says we don't have in this race and then say we don't have that candidate running this time - or, well, we did, but that was Webb and he got the hook early - but that sort of overlooks the elephant in the room named Hillary Clinton, who started off negotiating down on the minimum wage and whose entire campaign is based on the idea that thinking big is silly fantasy and things can't be made better than they are now. I guess we're going to see more of this from the Roosevelt Institute if they are going to keep taking Pete Peterson's money, but it would have been nice to have an actual Roosevelt Institute pointing out the dangers of the Third Way candidate who happens to be the frontrunner.

"Government may soon begin putting an end to forced arbitration clauses [...] Democratic lawmakers recently introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate called the Restoring Statutory Rights and Interests of the States Act. It would forbid companies from making customers waive their right to sue or join a class-action lawsuit." It would be nice if this were to happen, it's an outrage that companies are using this dodge to circumvent the law.

Charlie Savage and Scott Shane: "Political Talk on Guantánamo Veers From Facts: Even by the standards of an epically polarized Washington, the political talk about President Obama's effort to close the Guantánamo Bay prison is starkly divorced from facts. On both sides of the debate, many claims collapse under scrutiny."

Bobby Kennedy on "Why the Arabs Don't Want Us in Syria: They don't hate 'our freedoms.' They hate that we've betrayed our ideals in their own countries - for oil." But this is a history lesson, not just a rant.

Mark Fiore cartoon: "Voter Fraud Vigilantes"

Stephen Hawking: "If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality."

"Scalia was an intellectual phony: Can we please stop calling him a brilliant jurist? [...] For the truth is that, far more than the average judge, Scalia had no real fidelity to the legal principles he claimed were synonymous with a faithful interpretation of the law. Over and over during Scalia's three decades on the Supreme Court, if one of his cherished interpretive principles got in the way of his political preferences, that principle got thrown overboard in a New York minute."

"Legalizing Weed Has Done What 1 Trillion Dollars and a 40 Year War Couldn't: The $1 trillion War on Drugs launched by President Nixon in 1971 created the Mexican drug cartels, now legalizing weed is killing them."

Can a 3-year old represent herself in immigration court? This judge thinks so: A senior Justice Department official is arguing that 3- and 4-year-olds can learn immigration law well enough to represent themselves in court, staking out an unconventional position in a growing debate over whether immigrant children facing deportation are entitled to taxpayer-funded attorneys." Jeez, I wonder how old you have to be to be a judge...

"Federal Court Rules You Have No Constitutional Right to Engage in 100% Consensual Rough Sex: The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia released its decision in the case of Doe v. George Mason University et al. and, for some reason, they felt compelled to weigh in on whether there is a constitutional right to engage in consensual BDSM sex. Their answer is, 'no.'"

Whit Diffie and Martin Hellman win the Turing Award.

It's about time! Marvin Gaye To Be Inducted In Songwriters Hall Of Fame: "Marvin Gaye, Elvis Costello,Tom Petty, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards from CHIC, and Chip Taylor will be the latest inductees to the Songwriters Hall of Fame."

Ghostbusters: first trailer for all-female reboot arrives

"Donald Trump Gets AIDS In A New Movie, And That Has Studio Execs In A Panic: Afraid of Trump's reaction, they're 'subtly trying to make it disappear,' says an industry source. Audiences at screenings around the world, and some even in the United States, have been cheering and applauding a macabre scene in a new film by Sacha Baron Cohen in which "Donald Trump" accidentally contracts HIV."

"If You Can Get Past Karrine Steffans Calling Oprah And Maya Angelou Hoes, She Actually Has A Point About Women And Sexuality [...] "You don't have to like or even appreciate what Karrine Steffans exemplifies, but she is right when she says a woman's sexual past doesn't determine her worth and purpose. And, like Amber Rose, her voice on this subject exposes many of our hypocrisies because we like to declare a woman can have agency over her body up until that freedom becomes unabashedly sexy and maybe even promiscuous - though there's a wide variation on what many consider such behavior - and then we fall into crass slut-shaming judgement as well."

Nobody could have predicted...

3-D printed steampunk guitar

Neil Rest says this isn't the future he signed up for, but how would I have known about it without him? Worlds First Pancake Printer: PancakeBot
Okay, hungry now.

Among the many things I did not know before YouTube, Tom Jones and Janis Joplin in a duet of "Raise Your Hand".

Aryeh and Gil Gat The Amazing Rabbis, live in Jerusalem, "Wish You Were Here"

I've never regarded the Temptation's performance of this song as a cover, because I know it was written for David Ruffin's voice, and to me it's still the definitive version. But Smokey wrote it, and this is how "My Girl" sounds by the Miracles.

RIP: George Martin, Producer and Arranger for The Beatles, Dies at 90.
- Rolling Stone: "Over the decades, many people have claimed to be the 'fifth Beatle.' But the only person who can credibly hold that title was Martin. The producer not only signed the Beatles to their first record contract in 1962 but went on to work extensively with them on the vast majority of music they recorded over the next eight years, from 'Love Me Do' to the majestic suite that wrapped up Abbey Road."
* Keith Emerson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer Keyboardist, Dead at 71.

"In My Life" - with George Martin on piano.

01:03 GMT comment


Tuesday, 01 March 2016

This could be the last time

"Hillary Clinton Wins Big In South Carolina Primary [...] But the South Carolina black community's longstanding support for the Clinton family ultimately prevailed. The win is also a significant comeback for Clinton, who lost to President Obama in South Carolina in 2008 by 28 points. According to ABC News' exit polls, 70 percent of voters this year said the next president should continue Obama's policies rather than change to more or less liberal policies." Clinton 73.5%, Sanders 26% (39 delegates to 14).
* "With All Eyes On Trump, Clinton Is Winning The Democratic Nomination: In South Carolina today, Hillary Clinton scored her biggest victory yet in the Democratic presidential primary. She beat Bernie Sanders by what looks to be at least 30 percentage points, according to exit polls, thanks to overwhelming support from African-Americans. As the race heads into Super Tuesday, Clinton has clear momentum: She has big leads in many of the 12 contests that will take place, according to the polls. According to the South Carolina exit poll, Sanders lost black voters 16 percent to 84 percent. That doomed him in a contest in which 62 percent of voters were black. If white voters were more supportive of his candidacy, Sanders might have been able to keep the race closer. But they split 58 percent for Sanders to 42 percent for Clinton. That's simply not good enough to overcome Clinton's advantage among black voters."

But Nate Silver doesn't think the media narrative is the last word: "Bernie Sanders Doesn't Need Momentum - He Needs To Win These States: The media narrative of the Democratic presidential race is that Bernie Sanders has lost momentum to Hillary Clinton. After nearly beating Clinton in Iowa and then crushing her in New Hampshire, Sanders had a setback on Saturday, the story goes, losing Nevada to Clinton by 5 percentage points. And this weekend, Sanders is about to lose South Carolina and lose it badly. All of this is true insofar as it goes. But it doesn't do nearly enough to account for the demographic differences between the states. Considering the state's demographics, Sanders's 5-point loss in Nevada was probably more impressive than his photo-finish in Iowa. It was possibly even a more impressive result than his 22-point romp in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, a big loss in South Carolina would be relatively easy to forgive. That doesn't mean Sanders is in great shape, however. Based on the polling so far, Sanders is coming up short of where he needs to be in most Super Tuesday (March 1) states, along with major industrial states like Ohio and Pennsylvania where he'll need to run neck and neck with Clinton later on."
* And Glen Ford doesn't see much room for movement where it seems to count the most: "The Bogus Power of the Black Vote Within the Confines of the Democratic Party [...] But Bernie Sanders, whose domestic politics is a much closer fit with the historical and current Black world view, is not losing to Hillary because of his positions on the issues, or because Blacks trust in Clinton's honesty and integrity (huge numbers don't, in every demographic). It is also no longer the case that most Blacks are unfamiliar with Sanders' platform. African Americans are, by some measures, more tuned in to the 'news' than whites (although Blacks trust the media less). But they tune Sanders out, because their main purpose for voting in national elections is to keep the White Man's Party, the Republicans, out of the White House, and believe Clinton has a better shot. Almost everything else is bullshit."

Writing the epitaph of the Sanders campaign may not be a wise move for the Dems if they want some kind of a future - and there are still plenty of delegates to pick up in California, too.

"The Exposure of the Vast Left-wing Establishment [...] Let's be clear, I am not saying as a black man originally from the South that I did not understand long ago that American society was definitely tilted in favor of whites, men, straights, the wealthy, the attractive and Christians for example. The reality of the privilege inherent to those groups has always been obvious. But I guess this year, as I have watched the way the entire system has piled on I have come to realize in a much deeper way that those in power, even those with a little bit of power, will do everything they can to maintain the system. Of course we all know this was and is the reality when we are talking about the 1 percent who own and control mostly everything there is in our society. And we always knew the political ruling class would do what they could to stay on the side of power, including conspiring with the 1 percent when necessary, by taking their money and doing their bidding in order to curry favor. So there were no surprises there. But what jolted me the most from my previous misunderstanding about how powerful the whole system is and how wide it stretched was in not fully accepting the fact that even those on the Left could be part of that rigged system. Of course seeing it now it is obvious. Those in power, even when the power is on a side I support, will support actions that maintain power. The idea of an "establishment" in the women's movement, in the black and Hispanic communities, in the "liberal media," in the Left in general, is not one we typically think of. But that establishment is very real. And has it ever raised its ugly head during this primary season.

"The Establishment vs. Bernie Sanders: "Say what you will about this strange election season, but at least it's been a lesson in clarity. The citizenry are at last getting an unobstructed view of the ugly, powerful forces destroying their republic. And if the view isn't pretty, at least we now know where we stand. Which, though, is more instructively shocking--the fact that the Republican front-runner is Donald Trump, or the fact that the liberal political establishment--and yes, Virginia, there is an establishment, big time--is doing everything it can to throw the Democratic Party's most exciting reform candidate in years under Hillary Clinton's campaign bus? [...] Thus it came to pass that Sanders, whose voting record in the Senate on behalf of civil rights, gay rights, and women's rights has been flawless--for years he has received an approval rating of 95-100 percent from the National Organization of Women, the NAACP, and the Human Rights Campaign--was "exposed" as a sexist and maybe even crypto-racist. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, former supporter of her husband Bill's racist demolition of the social welfare safety net for millions of working class and poor families in the 1990s, was being lionized as a leader in civil rights. Not for nothing has the Democratic Party spent decades cultivating a national patronage system, treating black and Latino Americans chiefly as a demographic bulwark against Republican encroachment. Now the chits are being dialed in. The very ferocity and coordinated nature of the attacks on Sanders makes clear that the Democratic establishment views Sanders not merely as an annoyance, but as an existential threat. And he may be, at that." The details really are sickening.

How Harry Reid won Nevada for Hillary. He was supposed to be neutral, but he still knows where to pull the strings.
* "The Race to Lose the White House" - Just how many times can Democrats get into office and fight for the other side before it's Game Over?

The Bernie Sanders action figure

The Oscars happened. The Big Short won Best Adapted Screenplay and when Adam McKay picked up his award, he said, "if you don't want big money to control government, don't vote for candidates who take money from big banks, oil, or weirdo billionaires - stop."

Marcy Wheeler says, "Hillary Clinton's foreign policy is pure fantasy: Clinton talks of possibly decades-long occupations and orderly regime changes, yet somehow Sanders is the fantasist: Meanwhile, while Bernie Sanders may be recommending the U.S. adopt domestic policies that match those of our Canadian and European counterparts, thus far he has mentioned nothing about 60-year military deployments. Moreover, unlike Sanders, Clinton has not even called for taxes to pay for what would be a costly endeavor - unless her reference in this exchange to Libya's oil means she hopes to be more successful billing Libya for defense than the U.S. has been with Iraq. Such is the nature of our politics that Sanders can be attacked as a fantasist for daring to aspire to live as well as Europeans, while 60-year military deployments get treated as magic ponies that cost nothing. Perhaps it is considered bad economics to make this suggestion. But it seems like a smart way to pay for universal health care for all Americans is to stop getting into 60-year military deployments around the world?"
* With experience like this - "Despite being an icon for many liberals and an anathema to the Republican right, former US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's positions on the Middle East have more closely resembled those of the latter than the former. Her hawkish views go well beyond her strident support for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent occupation and counter-insurgency war. From Afghanistan to Western Sahara, she has advocated for military solutions to complex political problems, backed authoritarian allies and occupying armies, dismissed war crimes, and opposed political involvement by the United Nations and its agencies."
* The Nation: "A Sanders Foreign-Policy Doctrine? How About 'No Wars for the Billionaire Class'?"

Poverty Press Conference in South Carolina | Bernie Sanders

DNC Vice-Chair Resigns, Throws Support Behind Bernie Sanders: U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii announced Sunday that she will resign as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee and endorse Bernie Sanders for president. 'I think it's most important for us, as we look at our choices as to who our next commander in chief will be, is to recognize the necessity to have a commander in chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment,' Gabbard said on MSNBC's Meet the Press." But, wait - this woman is supporting Bernie Sanders because of his foreign policy approach? It doesn't make sense.

Blacks in Law Enforcement of America supports Bernie Sanders for Democratic Presidential Primary: "In keeping with our mission, it is with great pride that Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, a national organization of Black Law Enforcement Professionals, will support U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on his run to be the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States of America."

Trade Officials Promised Exxon That U.S.-EU Pact Would Erase Environmental 'Obstacles' Worldwide

Do you realize Donald Trump is the only candidate saying he will impose a tariff? Ian Welsh: "Trump Says He Would Put a 35 Percent Tax on Goods from Mexico: That would be illegal under NAFTA, and long odds under the WTO. Certainly under TPP, if it's in force then. Someone should straight up ask Trump if he's willing to leave those treaties. If he is, and the Dem candidate is not, he will win the election. Once more, Trump is a nativist populist. If he wasn't so racist and for torture, I'd be pushing him hard. As it is, he's beyond the pale, but a lot of working and middle class folks aren't going to give a damn."

In The Washington Post, a right-wing neocon monster endorses Clinton, more-or-less: "Trump is the GOP's Frankenstein monster. Now he's strong enough to destroy the party," writes Robert Kagan, who concludes: "So what to do now? The Republicans' creation will soon be let loose on the land, leaving to others the job the party failed to carry out. For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be."
* In The New York Times, "The Next Act of the Neocons: Are Neocons Getting Ready to Ally With Hillary Clinton? [...] It's not as outlandish as it may sound. Consider the historian Robert Kagan, the author of a recent, roundly praised article in The New Republic that amounted to a neo-neocon manifesto. He has not only avoided the vitriolic tone that has afflicted some of his intellectual brethren but also co-founded an influential bipartisan advisory group during Mrs. Clinton's time at the State Department."

Pruning Shears says, "Hard does not mean impossible [...] But anyway, Clinton's proposal is in the end just another illusion, right? Krugman's rather cynical subtext is that nothing can change so you may as well make peace with the way things are. Unicorns are everywhere, none of it is real, the best you can do is settle for the candidate offering the least outlandish lies. Here's the thing though. Every last goddamn decent and humane thing America has ever done started out as a unicorn. And then enough people noticed it was really a horse with a papier-mâché horn."

"Wall Street's political shakedown: We'll stop funding Dems if Elizabeth Warren won't sit down and shut up: Top banks consider cutting off Dems if the party won't rein in party progressives." So, bribery and extortion, then. Arrest them.
* Liz Warren doesn't plan to back down: "They want a showy way to tell Democrats across the country to be scared of speaking out, to be timid about standing up, and to stay away from fighting for what's right.... I'm not going to stop talking about the unprecedented grasp that Citigroup has on our government's economic policymaking apparatus ... And I'm not going to pretend the work of financial reform is done, when the so-called 'too big to fail' banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008."

"Note To Steve Israel And Chuck Schumer: The Word Progressive Actually Has A Meaning [...] Israel is now Pelosi's head of House Democratic messaging and he, along with other unscrupulous DC party bosses, have admitted they want to entice Bernie's grassroots supporters into contributing to candidates like Ashford and the other garbage candidates who the DCCC-- like "former" Republicans Monica Vernon in Iowa, Mike Parrish in Pennsylvania and Mike Derrick in New York-- and DSCC-- "former" Republican Patrick Murphy-- recruit on a regular basis. It's especially galling to watch these conservatives using the word "progressive" to describe themselves during primary season. It's linguistic fraud. It isn't popular in Democratic primaries for a candidate to run as a conservative even if that's what they are. Steve Israel, who hates progressives far more than he hates Republicans, encourages even the most conservative Democrats stuck in a primary battle to make the word meaningless by using it over and over and over until voters are confused or even turned off. It's what conservative Democrats did to the word "liberal." Yesterday and the day before I got letters from the frantic and desperate Patrick Murphy campaign-- horrified that Alan Grayson's polling lead in the Florida primary has continued to grow-- asserting that Murphy is a progressive. Patrick Murphy-- the one who has one of the most right-wing, anti-working family voting records of any Democrat in Congress? Who voted for the Keystone XL Pipeline half a dozen times? Who voted to create the Benghazi witch-hunt Committee to destroy Hillary Clinton? Who voted for oil drilling off Florida's pristine beaches? Who has worked in the House Financial Services Committee on behalf of his Wall Street financiers to undermine and sabotage Dodd-Frank? Yes, that Patrick Murphy. He actually tried making the case that he's a progressive and Alan Grayson isn't! Chuck Schumer told him it would be good politics. They even dragged poor, old, increasingly senile Harry Reid into it! I noticed the other day when Chris Matthews' conservative lobbyist wife endorsed Wall Street-friendly establishment Democrat Chris Van Hollen for Senate against progressive icon Donna Edwards, she (Kathleen Matthews) kept referring to herself as a "progressive." But she isn't a progressive. She's an upper class conservative who's pro-Choice. Progressives are tribunes for working families. Democrats like Kathleen Matthews have contact with working families when they hire them as servants."

Glenn Greenwald: "With Donald Trump Looming, Should Dems Take a Huge Electability Gamble by Nominating Hillary Clinton?: Many Democrats will tell you that there has rarely, if ever, been a more menacing or evil presidential candidate than Donald Trump. 'Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory,' pronounced Vox's Ezra Klein two weeks ago. With a consensus now emerging that the real estate mogul is the likely GOP nominee, it would stand to reason that the most important factor for many Democrats in choosing their own nominee is electability: meaning, who has the best chance of defeating the GOP Satan in the general election? In light of that, can Democrats really afford to take such a risky gamble by nominating Hillary Clinton?"

"Why Bernie Can Win: The pundits are wrong. Bernie Sanders is the most electable candidate this November. Her forthright opposition to the Sanders agenda has won Clinton praise from some liberal elites, unable to disguise their hostility toward even the most basic social-democratic reforms. Yet unfortunately for Clinton, most actual Americans do not inhabit the pundit class, and their professional credentials do not depend on gravely denying the existence of puppies, rainbows, and successful single-payer health programs." And, interestingly, despite dismissals of early match-up polling, "In a comprehensive analysis of elections between 1952 and 2008, Robert Erikson and Christopher Wleizen found that matchup polls as early as April have generally produced results close to the outcome in November. Even much earlier 'trial heats' seem to be far from meaningless. As partisan polarization has increased over the last three decades, there's some evidence that early polling has become more predictive than ever. In all five elections since 1996, February matchup polls yielded average results within two points of the final outcome. [...] The unstable and multidimensional identity of the 'moderate' voter helps explain why Sanders's own polling numbers have regularly confounded the prejudices of pundits. In New Hampshire, for instance, where experts repeatedly stressed his strength with 'liberals,' Sanders actually did even better with 'moderate/conservative' voters."

Again, I still don't think the Republicans can beat either Democrat, but this guys does: "Unless the Democrats Run Sanders, A Trump Nomination Means a Trump Presidency [...] But this is far from a typical previous American election. And recently, everything about the electability calculus has changed, due to one simple fact: Donald Trump is likely to be the Republican nominee for President. Given this reality, every Democratic strategic question must operate not on the basis of abstract electability against a hypothetical candidate, but specific electability against the actual Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Here, a Clinton match-up is highly likely to be an unmitigated electoral disaster, whereas a Sanders candidacy stands a far better chance. Every one of Clinton's (considerable) weaknesses plays to every one of Trump's strengths, whereas every one of Trump's (few) weaknesses plays to every one of Sanders's strengths. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition."

"Why Baby Boomers Don't Get Bernie Sanders: Hillary speaks to them. He speaks to everyone else. [...] Surveying one hundred years of history, though, the question is not why younger voters are embracing Sanders's populist revolution, but why the Baby Boomer generation came to believe that Bill and Hillary Clinton - with their close ties to big business - should become the standard-bearers for the nation's liberal party. In other words, Bernie's millennial army isn't the generational exception. Hillary's Boomers are."

This was a brave soul: "'I'm not a Superpredator, Hillary!': Black Lives Matter protestors confront Clinton at South Carolina fundraiser."
* But this is wishful thinking. I don't know why, but none of this stuff is having an impact on Hillary's image as a champion of the black community.

But how is the DNC's voter-suppression tactic going to work for them in November? "Democratic turnout at primaries is down, and fewer voter registration drives could be to blame. [...] For decades, the "Get Out the Vote" campaigns and voter registration drives have been driven by liberals. The logic is this: the bulk of unregistered voters in the United States have Democratic leanings. The more people who are registered and the more people who vote increases the likelihood that Democratic candidates will win. College campuses and youth events are gold mines for unregistered voters. In previous presidential elections, you couldn't step foot on a college campus or go to a concert in the country without being hounded to register. But it doesn't seem to be a priority this year, and I can't help but to think that party leaders don't mind." Because those unregistered voters are the ones who are most likely to break for Sanders, among other things. And then there's that paltry number of low-profile debates. The whole thing seems geared to depress voter turn-out in the primaries, but just how does that work for generating enthusiasm on election day? "When the Democratic Party loses interest in voter registration and voter empowerment, it is truly blurring the lines between what makes it fundamentally different than the Republican Party." And yet, Democratic voters are supporting this leadership because they think it's better placed to win in November. Maybe it isn't.

James K. Galbraith spanks Krueger, Goolbee, Romer and Tyson - and Krugman: "I was highly interested to see your letter of yesterday's date to Senator Sanders and Professor Gerald Friedman. I respond here as a former Executive Director of the Joint Economic Committee - the congressional counterpart to the CEA. You write that you have applied rigor to your analyses of economic proposals by Democrats and Republicans. On reading this sentence I looked to the bottom of the page, to find a reference or link to your rigorous review of Professor Friedman's study. I found nothing there. [...] It is not fair or honest to claim that Professor Friedman's methods are extreme. On the contrary, with respect to forecasting method, they are largely mainstream. Nor is it fair or honest to imply that you have given Professor Friedman's paper a rigorous review. You have not. What you have done, is to light a fire under Paul Krugman, who is now using his high perch to airily dismiss the Friedman paper as 'nonsense.' Paul is an immensely powerful figure, and many people rely on him for careful assessments. It seems clear that he has made no such assessment in this case."
* Goldsmith responds to Krugman.

Bill Curry: "The Clintons really don't get it: False attacks and failed strategies as Hillary repeats 2008: They're distorting Sanders' plans and ham-handedly using Obama and race. It's a dangerous game and a losing plan" An interesting aside about the way the press likes Clinton: "It may explain the boffo reviews of Clinton's PBS debate performance, as in the Times headline, 'Analysis: Clinton Is Cool, Calm and Effective.' Pundits praised her superior grasp of policy partly out of habit - it was true of earlier debates - but also because it's how they see the world. They should read the transcript. If anything, Bernie does the better job of explaining how he'd fund his programs. Hillary won't say how she'd pay for Social Security. She says she has a universal healthcare plan but she doesn't. She has a laundry list of programs, one for each demographic, all with unanswered questions about implementation, effectiveness and affordability."

2008: February 26 Democratic Debate - Clinton and Obama on NAFTA

"Hillary Clinton's Ghosts: A Legacy of Pushing the Democratic Party to the Right" - Bernie Sanders has put bread and butter issues on the table and forced the dialogue to move away from the right and back toward the center, but there's a "but": "But the party's latest generation of "New Democrats" - self-described "moderates" who are funded by Wall Street and are aggressively trying to steer the party to the right - have noticed this trend and are now fighting back. Third Way, a "centrist" think tank that serves as the hub for contemporary New Democrats, has recently published a sizable policy paper, "Ready for the New Economy," urging the Democratic Party to avoid focusing on economic inequality. Former Obama chief of staff Bill Daley, a Third Way trustee, recently argued that Sanders' influence on the primary "is a recipe for disaster" for Democrats." Yes, the DLC may have closed up it's storefront, but it's still moving and shaking just as strong as ever.

"Secrets, lies and the iPhone: A CIA whistleblower talks about Obama's bizarre secrecy obsession - and why Hillary and Bernie won't talk about it: This isn't about Apple vs. the FBI ' it's about a 'progressive' president with a dismal record on civil liberties [...] So what's the deal with Barack Obama? How did our coolest-ever president also turn out to be the one who pursued leakers and whistleblowers with a vengefulness and vigor without precedent in American history?"

This is from a few years ago, but a good reminder: "How Obama's Early Career Success Was Built on Fronting for Chicago Real Estate and Finance" - Something I've noticed about neoliberal proponents during campaign season is that there's always a sell stream deflecting your attention from the real record of their candidates and telling you something else. They know that no one is going to read up on it. (Remember how when asked about Obama's actual positions and policies, we kept being told to "Read his book"? Well, if people had read his book, they would have known he was no progressive and was pretty much saying outright that he was for sale, but they knew you weren't going to, so it was win-win for them.) So they released a video of Obama saying something about how if we were starting from scratch, single-payer would be the way to go, to imply (falsely) that Obama wanted single-payer. They told us he was a Constitutional scholar, perhaps trying to imply that he was the successor to Thurgood Marshall, when of course he ended up using what legal acumen he had to codify George W. Bush's policies. He was a "community organizer" (though not much of one, it turns out), but his real work was the kind of thing that's in this speech. "Fitch gave his eye-opening speech before an unlikely audience at an unlikely time: the Harlem Tenants Association in November 2008, hard on the heels of Obama's electrifying presidential win. The first part contains his prescient prediction: that Obama's Third Way stance, that we all need to put our differences aside and get along, was tantamount to advocating the interests of the wealthy, since they seldom give anything to the have-nots without a fight. That discussion alone is reason to read the piece. But the important part is his description of the role that Obama played in the redevelopment of the near South Side of Chicago, and how he and other middle class blacks, including Valerie Jarrett and his wife Michelle, advanced at the expense of poor blacks by aligning themselves with what Fitch calls 'friendly FIRE': powerful real estate players like the Pritzkers and the Crown family, major banks, the University of Chicago, as well as non-profit community developers and real estate reverends."

"Why DeRay Mckesson's Baltimore Campaign Looks Like It Comes Right Out of Teach for America's Playbook: As Mckesson launches his outsider candidacy for mayor of Baltimore, many worry his roots in the education privatization movement put the city's public schools in peril."

"Let Them Eat Privilege: Focusing on privilege diverts attention away from the real villains." It's very important for us to check each other's privilege instead of looking at the people who actually have it.

Charlie Pierce: "The Roots of Donald Trump's Candidacy Lie in a South Carolina Cemetery [...] 'ATWATER,' the plaque reads. 'H. Lee. 1951-1991. Father, Leader, Husband, Son.'"

Melissa Harris-Perry and the Fall of the "Negro Whisperers"

When you're forced to train foreign workers to take over your job

This is Frank Luntz giving the latest reason why the kids will change everything. Anyone else remember being 15 and being told it would all be better once the old people died out and we got to take over? Yeah, me too.

"Is the US undermining India's solar power programme? Whatever happened to all the talk of international co-operation to tackle climate change that we heard during the climate conference in Paris just a few months ago? That is what many environmentalists are asking after the United States delivered a damaging blow to India's ambitious solar power programme this week. In response to a US complaint, a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has ruled that India's National Solar Mission breaches trade rules. It judged that India's policies on buying locally made solar power equipment discriminates against imports."

UK: "The government has announced the outlawing of intellectual opposition."

David Cameron launches personal attack on Jeremy Corbyn's appearance: The prime minister made the remarks after a Labour MP shouted out in the Commons chamber that Mary Cameron should be asked about the NHS after she signed a petition opposing cuts to children's centres. The prime minister replied: 'Ask my mother? I think I know what my mother would say. I think she'd look across the dispatch box and she'd say: put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem.' Corbyn immediately hit back and cited his late mother, Naomi, a peace campaigner. He said: 'Talking of motherly advice, my late mother would have said: 'stand up for the principle of a health service free at the point of use' because that is what she dedicated her life to, as did many people of her generation.'" The Prime Minister's suit cost more than he expects a sick person to live on for a year.

"It's the £30bn cut you've never heard of. And women are bearing the brunt: Women in their 50s, who benefited little from feminism, are being told they must pay the price of equality with a rise in their retirement age." Oh, but it's worse than that: "The reform itself dates back to 1995, however the government did not get in touch with those affected until 2009, 14 years later. Initially the reform was supposed to be phased in slowly, but in 2011 George Osborne decided to accelerate the process of equalisation by several years. Many women had been expecting for years to receive their pension at 60, and yet all of a sudden the reality was that they would not be receiving a single penny until they were 66. Entire life plans had to be remedied, with less than five years' notice." And that's leaving aside how ludicrous it is to expect people (of either sex) who are already considered "too old" to keep on the job to find some way to make ends meet once they've already reached the age of 60.

British fetish film-makers are organising against censorship [...] "Under the ATVOD regime, many of us were targeted for censorship, and some of us have had our websites forced offline entirely. Some, such as myself, have appealed to Ofcom regarding ATVOD's decision - as Itzi did, successfully, in the wake of ATVOD's investigation into her site the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell. While many appeals to Ofcom are still pending, that organisation has become the sole regulator of video on demand, and none of us knows how we will fare under the new regime."

"Sex worker and activist Laura Lee: 'It's now far more difficult to stay safe': The criminalisation of men who pay for sex in Northern Ireland was supposed to protect women - but one of the few sex workers prepared to talk publicly says it will do the opposite. As Laura Lee prepares to challenge the new law in court, she explains the trials and consolations of the oldest profession."

Backlash Submits Written Evidence To Home Affairs Committee Inquiry On Prostitution: "We contest this assumption on the simple basis that sex workers are, in fact, human beings capable of as much choice and agency as anyone else. They are not typically 'forced' into their line of work anymore than anyone else is compelled by material circumstances to seek employment. While such choices may sometimes reflect an economically insecure position (just as working longer hours or accepting harsher conditions in other sectors may reflect such a position), reducing demand for sex work will not improve that economic position."

RIP: Lennie Baker, Sha Na Na Singer and Saxophone Player, Dies at 69. Here he is leading on "Blue Moon".

Great moments leading to Second Wave Feminism: Once upon a time, Germaine Greer was an editor of an underground paper called Suck. They got the idea that all the editors should take turns posing nude in the paper. Foolishly, she went first - and of course, the others never got around to doing it. This is the photo that was published. Not work-safe.

OZ Magazine archive: "OZ magazine was published in London between 1967 and 1973 under the general editorship of Richard Neville and later also Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis. Martin Sharp was initially responsible for art and graphic design. Copies of OZ can be viewed and downloaded for research purposes from this site. OZ magazine is reproduced by permission of Richard Neville. Please be advised: This collection has been made available due to its historical and research importance. It contains explicit language and images that reflect attitudes of the era in which the material was originally published, and that some viewers may find confronting."

IF Magazine archives. It was launched in 1952 and "merged into Galaxy Science Fiction after the December 1974 issue, its 175th issue overall."

A Stunning Scale Model of Our Solar System, Drawn in the Desert

The Calvin and Muad'Dib mash-up

"The Setup Wizard" - Daily accounts of a Muggle I.T. guy working at Hogwarts.

I may not rate him much as a president, but you gotta admit the guy is one of the great actors of our time.

The Rolling Stones, on Tops of the Pops, 1965

Thanks so much, Mark and Mike.

13:59 GMT comment


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Where the girls are

FULL MSNBC Town Hall: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, South Carolina February 18, 2016. Sanders spoke first, but for those who can't bring themselves to watch Clinton, she had a big moment when she brought out her new zinger: Bernie isn't a Democrat. Well, Madame Secretary, Bernie has never been a Republican, either, and Bernie Sanders never, never supported Republican policies like "ending welfare as we know it" and "three strikes", and never tried to repudiate, let alone rescind, the New Deal. Hillary Clinton was a Goldwater Girl and then a Wellesley Republican and then, somewhere in the late '60s, she apparently switched her R to a D, but there doesn't seem to be any record of her having given so much as lip-service to the core values of the Democratic Party in supporting working people. By the time we see Clinton in public life, she is already in the Democratic Leadership Council, an organization whose mission is to overturn the New Deal. Naturally, she got some boos for that statement, despite the fact that it was her town hall and a Clinton-friendly crowd. Maybe those in attendance know that it's not unusual for the party to draft non-Democrats at times to run as Democrats.
* Bernie Sanders with Stephen Colbert on The Late Show.

Clinton's massive lead in Nevada dwindled to the point where she seemed to be in a tie with Sanders. She came out ahead in the end, but not by the huge margin she thought she had. Perhaps these push polls helped her win, too. (Curiously, we're being told that entrance and exit polls don't work with Latinos.) (And why did someone like Dolores Huerta post a divisive and misleading tweet?) Clinton thought she had a lock on the Hispanic vote, but her campaign is going to a lot of effort to try to smear Sanders now as anti-immigration, among other things. Sanders voted against an immigration bill that contained an odious guest-worker provision, and like many pro-immigrant groups, he opposed it. Some say that Harry Reid's "neutrality" evaporated and he came home to give her the win, despite her campaign's sudden claim that Nevada is a white state. Of course, as in 2008, some suspect dirty pool helped, too. Of course, the fact that Bernie didn't win Nevada, which no one had expected him to win anyway, suddenly means to the press that the primaries are pretty much over, even though their delegate count is 51:51. No one expected Sanders to even be in it by now, so perhaps it's a bit early to write the obits for the campaign?

Clinton is still way ahead of Sanders in South Carolina, but perhaps not as much as she was. (I see the list of the top 10 early primary states' polls shows Clinton leading everywhere but Massachusetts and Vermont. The article credits the black vote, which is undoubtedly true, but that's what they mean by "firewall" - Clinton takes for granted that she owns the black vote.)
* However, "Sanders, Clinton in dead heat nationwide."
* And, strange as it is to link to the Daily Mail, an odious right-wing newspaper I do not recommend, it's rather amazing to even see a headline like this there: "New Bernie crisis for Hillary: Two-thirds of Democrats say he could win the election, and the more they know him, the more they like him."

Former DNC Chairman Paul Kirk Endorses Bernie Sanders - This is actually worth listening to. "Mark my words on this, a representative democracy will not be restored from within the capital beltway until a majority of Americans can cause their elected representatives to Feel the Bern!"

In 3 Minutes: Bernie Sanders DOES Have a Foreign Policy Position

"The Crackpot Realism of Clintonian Politics: The most bizarre thing about these desperate calls to realism is our modern context. In what possible way is it 'realistic' to continue voting for the lesser evil when we have an ongoing climate catastrophe no mainstream Democrat or Republican is willing to discuss, let alone actually do something significant about? During Obama's first term he even pressured environmental groups to stop or tone down their discussions of climate change. Each lesser evil candidate just happens to be a greater evil than the last one. Each of their politics are unimaginable even as one is in the throes of the attacks on basic human decency engendered by the last one. The slogan of the Democratic party is 'it could always be worse' while the promise is 'it will always be worse'. When your realism involves supporting a trend that could quite realistically mean the end of human civilization forgive me for holding you in contempt. [...] What they miss is these right wing Democrats have profoundly shaped this status quo. Bill Clinton's treatment of poor people was unimaginable before him and par for the course after him. Obama's treatment of ordinary homeowners would have been a preposterous fictional story of campy villany. Now it's just how the world works. Sanders (for all his faults on issues like Israel and immigration) is actually looking to push the center to the left for once and is hoping to galvanize ordinary people to do it. It's the realism of the psych ward that says we'll solve climate change, help ordinary people and build a workable economy by supporting an endless series of politicians who care less and less about the issues that matter and exploit hopeful supporters more and more cynically. Admonishing young people for both not voting and desiring anything other than a debt-crippled, climatologically-unstable future feels more like admonishing serfs for being insufficiently pious and for caring about what happens to themselves or their children on this plane of existence. In short, realism is just a code word for 'shut up, sit down and be quiet'."

"Hillary Clinton: I Could Compromise on Abortion If It Included Exceptions For Mother's Health."
* "Chelsea Clinton: Bernie Sanders' plan to end mass incarceration is 'worrying': 'We are not electing a king, we are electing a president,' said Ms Clinton's daughter - she claims Mr Sander's criminal justice policy is beyond the realms of possibility." Do the Clintons understand that mass incarceration at the state level happens because of both funding and policy made at the federal level? Apparently not.
* Hillary continues her claim that Bernie Sanders is a one-issue candidate, saying stuff like this: "'Not everything is about an economic theory, right?' Clinton rhetorically asked the crowd Saturday in Henderson. 'If we broke up the big banks tomorrow -- and I will, if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, I will -- will that end racism?' she said as the crowd answered 'no.'" Leaving aside the fact that the big banks are a threat right now and yet she still isn't promising to break them up, just how is she promising to end racism and sexism? It's not as if she's had any more to say about those issues than Sanders has.
* "Half the Foreign Policy Experts Signing Clinton's Anti-Sanders Letter Have Ties to Military Contractors: Hillary Clinton's campaign released a letter this week in which 10 foreign policy experts criticized her opponent Bernie Sanders' call for closer engagement with Iran and said Sanders had 'not thought through these crucial national security issues that can have profound consequences for our security.' The missive from the Clinton campaign was covered widely in the press, but what wasn't disclosed in the coverage is that fully half of the former State Department officials and ambassadors who signed the letter, and who are now backing Clinton, are now enmeshed in the military contracting establishment, which has benefited tremendously from escalating violence around the world, particularly in the Middle East."
* "Hillary Clinton Emails: Secret Negotiations With New York Times, Trade Bill Lobbying Revealed In Latest State Department Release [...] Other emails show Clinton seeming to personally lobby her former Democratic colleagues in the Senate to support free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. She had previously told voters she would work to block the Colombian and South Korean pacts."

I'm told I should find this statement by Killer Mike manifestly sexist. Well, no, not when I have people telling me that the only reason I don't support Clinton is sexism.

Michael Brooks did a good interview with Benjamin Dixon about race, class, and Bernie Sanders, on The Majority Report.

Georgia state Sen. Vincent Fort flips endorsement from Hillary to Bernie: "Back to Georgia for a moment, where Senator Fort explained his switch to Bernie by saying, 'After months of looking at Bernie's record and studying his positions on healthcare, Wall Street, predatory lending and the minimum wage, I came to the conclusion that Bernie's position on the issues that affect my constituents in Georgia the most conform most closely to my positions... He's going to do well here. As people have a chance to listen to him, to have a chance to understand that he's speaking to the issues that are the most critical. As people study and listen to him, I think there's going to be movement toward his campaign.' Fort is now the most high-profile Bernie backer in Georgia, joining state Rep. LaDawn Jones and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry-- and putting him at odds with a very uninspiring party establishment."
* "Big Win For Bernie: AFL-CIO Holds Off On Presidential Endorsement" - That really is a big deal. Maybe they learned something from last time.

Yes, the same Black Caucus PAC that gave its endorsement to Hillary Clinton has refused to endorse Donna Edwards: "The political arm of the Congressional Black Caucus has decided not to endorse Rep. Donna Edwards for Senate -- despite the fact that the Prince George's County Democrat would be the first African-American elected to the chamber from Maryland." This is just plain shameful. But it tells you a lot about how much politics is at play when the black establishment lines up behind Hillary.
* It's hard not to wonder whether Clyburn's tepid endorsement of Hillary was so half-hearted because he knew it would not be well-received in the room, or if his heart just wasn't in it: "'And I believe,' he said, launching into his central applause line, 'that the future of the Democratic Party and the United States of America will be best served with the experiences and know how of Hillary Clinton as our 45th president.'"

From The Atlantic, "The Pragmatic Case for Bernie Sanders: Political and social change emanate from persistent pressure for a just world, not settling for what is 'realistic' before even getting to the negotiating table."
* Mahabarb says, "Let's Stop Being Weenies [..] So I'm huddled in bed reading political commentary and social media on my Kindle. And it's pissing me off. I read one thing after another saying, oh, Walter Mondale lost in 1984 and Mike Dukakis lost in 1988 - most of 'em don't go as far back as my first presidential candidate, George McGovern, who lost in 1972 - and because we lost then we must choose a very safe candidate and not anybody too radical because the Right is all-powerful and very mean and they will beat us to death, or something. [...] None of the weenies seem to remember that we all settled on John Kerry in 2004 because he seemed to be the 'safe' candidate. I don't recall that he won. But that was then." But the weenies keep driving her bats, so "Let's Talk About Hillary Clinton's Electability: In spite of my earlier call to arms, I keep seeing sniveling weenies all over social media warning that we must vote for Hillary Clinton or face a Trump or Cruz presidency. Because only Hillary Clinton could win that general election against a broken Republican machine and an extremist who is favored by, it says in an article, fewer than 15 percent of all registered voters. [...] But against this alleged behemoth, we are told, only Hillary Clinton can prevail. So we must nominate her whether we like her or not. Seriously? Hillary Clinton has won two general elections in her life, both for senator of New York. Let's look. In 2000, she won against a largely unknown congressman named Rick Lazio. But originally her opponent was Rudy Giuliani. It was a close race; the polls swung back and forth, favoring one and then the other. Let it be added that Giuliani was not exactly beloved in New York City at that time; people were pretty much over him. But then in May 2000 Giuliani dropped out, mostly because of marital scandals that had been an open secret for some time. Five months before election day the Republicans chose the 40-something Lazio to take his place. [...] Lazio ran a flat-footed campaign, and Clinton defeated him fairly easily, 55 to 43 percent. He left the House after 2001 and at some point went to work for JP Morgan Chase. In 2006 Hillary Clinton ran for re-election nearly unopposed. Oh, she had an opponent, a former mayor of Yonkers named John Spencer. Spencer was invisible. I lived in New York and couldn't have told you a Republican was running against her. Clinton raised nearly $36 million for her re-election campaign. Spencer had less than $6 million." Be that as it may, Clinton didn't do as well as she ought to have done in that terrain.
* "The establishment looks like this: The real reason why Clintons always push our politics to the right: Hillary and Bernie have two different visions. You can make a case for either -- but they're not the same [...] Note that none of that proves, or even points to anything, illegal. That's not the point. It's not about being bought off by one payment, it's about buying in to a system where money flows like wine, and everyone is always drunk. 'But you will not find that I ever changed a view or a vote because of any donation that I ever received,' Clinton said, expressing her individualist view of the problem, and I'm perfectly willing to believe her. But that's not what the argument is about. Structural money influence doesn't require an individual to be corrupt, any more than structural racism requires an individual to be racist. In fact, it works even better because no one is consciously doing anything wrong. It's part of how the system perpetuates and defends itself. But the victims suffer just the same.
* A nice reminder from Thomas Picketty that it's not that we're trying to be "like Europe", but we are trying to be like the America Europe copied: "Thomas Piketty on the rise of Bernie Sanders: the US enters a new political era"
* At Ian Welsh's digs, Pachacutec asks and answers, "Does Bernie Sanders Know What He's Doing? Bernie Sanders is taking a lot of heat for making promises everyone agrees can't be achieved in today's Washington. However, Sanders is not just smoking free-love-sixties-dope when he talks about universal health care, free college tuition, stopping deportations, and drastically cutting the prison population. [...] A couple of weeks ago, members of the neoliberal wonkosphere and others in the pundit class tut-tutted, fretted, and wearily explained to Sanders' band of childish fools and hippies that his 'theory of change' was wrong. Well, not merely wrong, but deceptive, deceitful, maybe even dangerous. False hopes, stakes are too high, and all that. This was Clinton campaign, and more to the point, political establishment ideology, pushback. When Ezra Klein starts voxsplaining how to catalyze a genuine social, cultural, and political movement, you know you've entered the land of unfettered bullshit. [...] Yes, I'd say Sanders has a very clear, and historically grounded 'theory of change.' What those who question it's validity are really saying is either: 1) they lack imagination and can't' see beyond the status quo; 2) they lack knowledge of history, including American history, or; 3) they understand Sanders' 'theory of change' very well and want to choke it in the crib as quickly as they can."
* "Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and their new coalitions on the left"
* "The Pragmatic Case for Bernie Sanders: Political and social change emanate from persistent pressure for a just world, not settling for what is 'realistic' before even getting to the negotiating table. Based on her record and political positions, it is not credible for Democrats to hope that a Clinton presidency can deliver progressive change. It is not pragmatic to hope that Clinton, by dint of her centrist leanings, can work with Congress on anything other than a centrist agenda - at best. To the extent that she gets things done with a Republican legislature, based on an electoral mandate of centrism, there is zero prospect of progressive reform on Wall Street, corporate accountability, wealth inequality, or campaign finance. In politics, if you demand a mile, you get a foot; demand a moderate inch, and at best, you get a centimeter. On the other side of the ledger, history shows that political and social change emanate from persistent pressure - organizing and arguing for a more just world, not settling for what is deemed 'realistic' before getting to the negotiating table. Remember when gay rights and gay marriage were 'unrealistic'? Remember when voting rights, desegregation, and other basic justice were far from 'pragmatic'? They became real through years of dedicated, principled, idealism - by insisting the unrealistic become real."
* Frameshop: Big Change Happens Precisely When It Seems Impossible.
* Dick Van Dyke endorses: "He's sounding an alarm about something I've worried about for the last 30 years, or since World War II, really: the stranglehold that big business has on this country. [...] Woodrow Wilson, in 1913, said there's an invisible force running the country, and he blamed the banks and the corporations and the insurance companies. And since then it's only gotten worse. Ike (President Dwight D. Eisenhower) warned us about the military-industrial complex. Jimmy Carter, in an interview recently, said he couldn't get anything done (as president) because of the power of the lobbyists. It's at a place where the election is almost a little charade they let us go through. I think the thing is rigged. It's been brought up so many times before, but nobody ever listens. And somehow, Bernie got their attention."

Right-wing surprise of the week: In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Charles Koch: This is the one issue where Bernie Sanders is right: The senator is upset with a political and economic system that is often rigged to help the privileged few at the expense of everyone else, particularly the least advantaged. He believes that we have a two-tiered society that increasingly dooms millions of our fellow citizens to lives of poverty and hopelessness. He thinks many corporations seek and benefit from corporate welfare while ordinary citizens are denied opportunities and a level playing field. I agree with him. Actually, he agrees on more than one thing - but somewhere in the middle of the article he dismisses remedies that actually work. (His example of the War on Poverty is an interesting example, since most of it started being dismantled almost as soon as LBJ left office, despite the fact that it had cut poverty in half. The splintering of poor (and black) families is the result of the right wing refusing to keep offering welfare to unbroken families, not the largess of the program.)

"Hedge Fund Billionaires Fund Super PAC Ad Against Bernie Sanders and Minimum Wage Hike [...] Future 45 is run by Brian O. Walsh, a longtime Republican operative who has in the past served as political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Most recently, he was president of the American Action Network, a dark money group that was the second-largest outside spender in 2010."

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari hasn't exactly endorsed Bernie Sanders, but he's on the same page with him when he says the big banks should be broken up. A lot of people were caught by surprise when this Bush appointee made the statement, but he says his experience after the banking crisis taught him there is still too much danger from too big to fail institutions.
* David Day on the surprising speech: "The thing I never got around to this week was Neel Kashkari's surprising endorsement of breaking up the banks. A couple people got at this, but Kashkari actually split the difference between a Bernie Sanders break-em-up approach, a Hillary "it's the shadow banks, stupid" approach of expanding the regulatory perimeter, and the consensus position of using higher capital requirements to discipline big banks. Only Kashkari goes way further than the Fed has been willing to go on capital, into Anat Admati territory. Incidentally, Kashkari rejects the separation of investment and commercial banking. So while Sanders gave his speech a full-throated endorsement, it's hard to plot him against the intra-Dem debate about financial reform. Which makes Kashkari even more dangerous to Wall Street, actually. First of all, regulating banks as public utilities goes beyond even a Warren/Sanders approach. Second, as Yves Smith points out, Kashkari, with a cushy appointment at the Minneapolis Fed, wants to keep this in the headlines for at least a year with policy symposia and the like. This is someone developing policy in public, with a profile that makes it very hard for bankers to dismiss him as an unsophisticated crank. If he gains in stature, he shows that positioning against the banks is a good CAREER move. That's a brave new world."

Dean Baker: "NYT Invents Left-Leaning Economists to Attack Bernie Sanders: A NYT piece headlined 'left-leaning economists question cost of Bernie Sanders' plans' may have misled readers about the extent of skepticism among economists who consider themselves left-leaning. I can say this as a card-carrying left-leaning economist who often talks to other card-carrying left-leaning economists. While there are undoubtedly many left of center economists who have serious objections to the proposals Sanders has put forward, there are also many who have publicly indicated support for them. Remarkably, none of those economists were referenced in this article. In fact, to make its case on left of center economists' views, the NYT even presented the comments of Ezra Klein, who is neither an economist nor a liberal, by his own identification. It also misrepresented the comments of Jared Bernstein (a personal friend), implying that they were criticisms of Sanders' program. In fact his comments were addressed to the analysis of Sanders' proposals by Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts who is not affiliated with the Sanders campaign. It also presented the comments of Brookings economist Henry Aaron about the views expressed by 'other economists in a 'lefty chat group' he joins online.' This would seem to violate the NYT's usual policy on anonymous sources. Sanders has a very ambitious agenda covering everything from universal Medicare, reforming the financial sector, paid sick days and vacation, free college, and universal childcare. If an economist, left-leaning or otherwise, can't find some grounds for skepticism on any of these proposals they should probably be in a different line of work. These are all big ideas, each of which will face enormous political opposition even if Bernie Sanders were in the White House. Sanders has not given a fully worked out proposal in any of these areas, nor is it reasonable to expect a fully worked out proposal from a candidate for the presidency. His campaign platform outlines general approaches. In the event Sanders got to the White House, it would be necessary to draft fully worked out legislative language which would almost certainly amount to hundreds of pages, and quite possibly thousands of pages, in each area. In addition, whatever he initially put on the table would have to be haggled over with Congress, even assuming that he had a much more sympathetic group than the current crew. While it is nice that the NYT is subjecting Sanders' views to serious scrutiny, it would be good if it also subjected the views of other candidates to the same scrutiny. For example, Secretary Clinton has indicated a desire to give more opportunity to African Americans and Hispanics, yet she has not commented on the decision by the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates at the end of last year. This rate hike was intended to be the first of a sequence of rate hikes. The purpose of raising interest rates is to slow the economy and the rate of job creation, ostensibly to prevent inflation. The people who will be disproportionately hurt by slower job growth and high unemployment are African American and Hispanic. NYT readers would likely be interested in knowing how Secretary Clinton can reconcile her commitment to helping African Americans and Hispanics with her apparent lack of concern over the Fed's decision to raise interest rates and deny them jobs. Whatever standard of scrutiny the NYT chooses to apply to presidential candidates it should apply them equally. It is not good reporting to apply one standard to Senator Sanders, and even inventing credentials to press its points, and then apply lesser standards to the other candidates."
* "NYT Rounds Up 'Left-Leaning Economists' for a Unicorn Hunt."

Digby says, "Antonin Scalia was the forefather of modern Republican nihilism: Antonin Scalia wasn't just a giant of conservative jurisprudence. He was an architect of right-wing legal extremism "
* Scott Lemieux: "Justice Scalia's legacy: blistering zingers and a more partisan America"
* Back in 2012, Richard Posner, of all people - not by any means a liberal - wrote "The Incoherence of Antonin Scalia."
* Marcy Wheeler, "The Play on the Scalia Replacement: Remember the Lame Duck [...] The presumption Srinivasan - or someone similar - would be the nominee easily justifies the GOP's immediate promise they won't confirm a nominee. That's because they need to explain why someone they just overwhelmingly confirmed, someone who faced more opposition from the left than the right, suddenly became unacceptable."
* "Is Obama About to Nominate an Exxon Lawyer to the Supreme Court?"
* Edroso: "Saint Scalia? Sure, Why Not?"

"UN committee finds Australia breached David Hicks' rights" This was always a shameful case, but you could say that about anything having to do with Guantanamo.

Albert Woodfox released from jail after 43 years in solitary confinement: "Woodfox, who was kept in solitary following the 1972 murder of a prison guard for which he has always professed his innocence, marked his 69th birthday on Friday by being released from West Feliciana parish detention center. It was a bittersweet birthday present: the prisoner finally escaped a form of captivity that has widely been denounced as torture, and that has deprived him of all meaningful human contact for more than four decades. [..] Woodfox was one of the so-called 'Angola 3': three prisoners initially held in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison, and who subscribed to the Black Panther movement and campaigned against segregation within the institution in the 1970s. His supporters contend that he was framed for the 1972 killing of the prison guard Brent Miller as revenge for his political activities."

"Ohio Signs Nation's First Anti-Renewable Energy Bill Into Law" - Well, I think Ohio would be surprised to hear that they did it. No, there was one culprit: "Gov. John Kasich just signed into a law a bill that freezes Ohio's renewable energy mandate for the next two years, making Ohio the first state to make negative progress on its green energy goals. Good job, Ohio."

"State Supreme Court Rules Cops No Longer Need a Warrant to Enter Homes and Seize Evidence: Wisconsin Just Lost its 4th Amendment Rights by the Single Vote of a Judge Appointed by Scott Walker."

The Lost Decade is now 11 years long: "As we have remarked before, never before in the history I have readily accessible (for which figures extend back to the 1850s) has such a period of decline and stagnation had to be endured. The chart below shows a decade growth rate. Across the whole period real earnings grew on average by 15 per cent a decade. Between the Second World War and 2007 they grew by 26 per cent a decade (annual averages are derived by dividing by ten). In 2017 the decade figure will show a decline of -1.7 per cent. The charts shows how the progress of the post-war age has been brought decisively to a halt. The only era remotely comparable episode was around the 1920s. This is a terrifying precedent..."

"Due Process is Dead: A Staggering 95% of All Inmates in America Have Never Received a Trial."

"Private Prisons Sues States for Not Having Enough Prisoners."

"Suit alleges that Georgia is illegally bumping voters off rolls."

"FBI demands iPhone backdoor access; Tim Cook tells them to get lost."

Well, this is rich. After all these years of whining about a Social Security crisis in order to rationalize cuts in benefits, conservatives have done an about-face in response to talk of expanding Social Security. Why, everything will be fine!

The diplomat and the killer: Death squads, dirty war and the untold story of H. Carl Gettinger [...] On December 1, 1980, two American Catholic churchwomen - an Ursuline nun and a lay missionary - sat down to dinner with Robert White, the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador. They worked in rural areas ministering to El Salvador's desperately impoverished peasants, and White admired their commitment and courage. The talk turned to the government's brutal tactics for fighting the country's left-wing guerrillas, in a dirty war waged by death squads that dumped bodies in the streets and an army that massacred civilians. The women were alarmed by the incoming Reagan administration's plans for a closer relationship with the military-led government. Because of a curfew, the women spent the night at the ambassador's residence. The next day, after breakfast with the ambassador's wife, they drove to San Salvador's international airport to pick up two colleagues who were flying back from a conference in Nicaragua. Within hours, all four women would be dead. [...] In the years since, much has come to light about this pivotal event in the history of U.S. interventions in Central America. But the full story of how one of the most junior officers in the U.S. embassy in San Salvador tracked down the killers has never been told. It is the tale of an improbable bond between a Salvadoran soldier with a guilty conscience and a young American diplomat with a moral conscience. Different as they were, both men shared a willingness to risk their lives in the name of justice."

Ex-Black Panther Leader Elaine Brown Slams Stanley Nelson's 'Condemnable' Documentary: Minimizing the role of Huey Newton, founder of the Party, along with Bobby Seale, Nelson elevates the role in the Party of Eldridge Cleaver - who individually did more to try to destroy the Party than the U.S. government. This elevation of Cleaver is a clue to the point of Nelson's 'documentary' - to produce a piece of provocative propaganda worthy of the FBI itself. Though Cleaver was but a fleeting darling of the establishment press who was in the Party for no more than a year or so before being expelled, footage of Cleaver and 'Cleaverites' overwhelms almost half of Nelson's two-hour film.

Spocko's review: "Michael Moore Steals Other Countries' Ideas In Where To Invade Next." The irony is that these are all ideas that were American, that started in our country and were copied by others. But they worked so well that the aristocracy fought back to throw them out.

Letter to The New York Times: "My name is Lorelei Lee and I'm an adult film performer who has worked in the industry for fifteen years. I read your article, 'Actors in Pornographic Films Fight Proposal to Enforce Safety Regulations,' and I am writing to say: how dare you."

"Got yourself an all-white panel? Just click on rentaminority.com: I set up a spoof website to joke about the frustrating way we deal with diversity. The response - applicants seriously trying to hire a minority to keep up corporate appearances - proves that we need more than a punchline."

Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, Saturday, March 4, 1865

In other blasts from the past, some might think this is evidence of how crazy the GOP has become compared to the one we used to have (and that's true), but more registered Republicans than you might think still oppose the idea of the judgement of politicians being substituted for that of their doctors. But in 1982, a Republican Senator led a real filibuster against an abortion debate before Jesse Helms could get it off the ground. Those were the days, eh?

Colbert has some fun when Chris Hayes misspeaks. Maybe he was hungry at the time. I was by the time I finished watching. This one's for the LGBLT community!

NASA's Giving Away Brilliant Space Travel Posters For Free.

RIP:
* Harper Lee, Author of To Kill A Mockingbird, Dead at 89. You all know I've read the book over and over through the years. I still recommend it, it's still my favorite.
* Umberto Eco, 84, Best-Selling Academic Who Navigated Two Worlds, Dies

Katie Halper's response to Gloria Steinem's little faux pas makes great use of Connie Francis' "Where The Boys Are" as a whole bunch of women endorse Bernie Sanders.

21:37 GMT comment


Sunday, 14 February 2016

I think you move me

PBS NewsHour Democratic Debate , Milwaukee.
* Vox says, "Hillary Clinton finally found her argument against Bernie Sanders" when she closed by saying she was not a single-issue candidate. Actually, she is - her entire message is that she is the proper custodian of the status quo.

Bernie Sanders speech at the Forum on Race and Economic Opportunity.

To no one's surprise, Bernie Sanders won New Hampshire by a significant margin - 22 points (60.4% Sanders, 38.0% Clinton). Oh, yeah, and Trump won, too, with 35.3% and Kasich suddenly pulling into the spotlight with 15.8% in second place.
* "Bernie Sanders Wins Every Demographic Group" in New Hampshire primary. Well, not every - the people with lots of money really liked Hillary better.
* "Bernie Sanders won 2,095 votes in the New Hampshire Republican primary." Hillary Clinton won 540. In the Democratic primary, 1,795 write-in votes went to Trump.

"Ron Paul says Ted Cruz is no libertarian and Bernie Sanders is the most free-market."

Marcy Wheeler: "Biased Pluralism and the Defense of 'Reality' in the Democratic Primary: Last week, I pointed to a problem with Jonathan Chait's defense of Hillary Clinton's 'pluralistic' approach to governance, noting that in an era of weak labor organization, such an approach leaves out the views of the great majority of working people, precisely the kinds of people Bernie Sanders is attracting." But the rich and powerful are the ones who really have the muscle and get what they want.
* "Hillary Clinton Says Obama Took On Wall Street. The Facts Don't Back Her Up. [...] But Clinton's claim about Obama 'taking on Wall Street' isn't borne out by the numbers, which indicate prosecutions of financial and other professionalized crimes in the United States are at their lowest level in 20 years."
* "Hillary Clinton's Pay-for-Play Reality" - You know, Clinton talks a lot about Dodd-Frank, but it seems to have no teeth when it comes to constraining the big banks, yet it does constrain community banks. Think about that.
* "New Emails Show Press Literally Taking Orders From Hillary."
* "Why Hillary Clinton Doesn't Deserve the Black Vote"
* "Hillary Clinton's DLC Problem"
* Corey Robin asks, "Is Hillary Clinton Running the Most Cynical Campaign in Recent History?" I dunno, it's kinda hard to beat Obama on cynicism. But this is the DLC for you.

"The Democratic National Committee, headed by the massively unpopular Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has just lifted the last restrictions preventing the DNC from receiving direct contributions from Wall Street and special interest lobbyists."

* "Jay Carney: Obama wants Clinton to win."

Erica Garner's powerful video explaining why she supports Bernie Sanders. On Facebook, she wrote: "Last week we made a commercial to express to the world exactly why I am endorsing Bernie Sanders for President. The Sanders team allowed me and my team full creative control of this video so this message is 100% my message and my views! They had a totally different idea of what should be done, but true to form with Senator Sanders, he listened to me, didn't tell me he knew better and I was not practical and this is what we produced. The Senator didn't reach out to me all of a sudden because he needs help with Black people. He didn't put out a press conference announcing that we would be working together. He didn't force me to frame my support of him around a subject matter that special interest groups that support him can get behind. They said we are glad to have your support, how do you want to plug in. You will see a lot of Black leaders handing out endorsements, think to yourself, have they historically been a rubber stamp for the establishment? I hope this expresses why I think Bernie is our guy!"
* "Bernie Sanders' campaign just released a video that will give you goosebumps."
* "The Bernie Sanders era is upon us: Why Iowa was a watershed moment for American politics"

"Why Bernie Sanders Is Not George McGovern" - It shouldn't be necessary to say this, but Nixon was the incumbent, which makes a huge difference. And staying the course probably seemed a great idea to a middle-class (the real kind - working people!) that was rich by any historical standard, before or since. This is a very different time.
* "What Do You Mean 'Sanders Might Be Another George McGovern'?" This story leaves out the back-stabbing inside the Democratic Party, but yeah. Oh, and Nixon was red-baiting long before 1972.

"Hillary Clinton Endorsed By Congressional Black Caucus's Corporate-Backed Political Arm: The political action committee of the Congressional Black Caucus announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton on Thursday, giving the former secretary of state a potential boost in her bid to win over the African-American electorate in South Carolina and other coming primary states. The endorsement, however, quickly became a flashpoint, as one prominent congressman alleged that the group's leadership did not consult fellow caucus members about the decision. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who has endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, noted that the Congressional Black Caucus itself has not issued a presidential endorsement, and asserted that the CBC's separate PAC 'endorsed without input from CBC membership, including me.' As documented by the Intercept and the Street, Clinton has secured wide backing from Washington-based political groups who do not permit their rank-and-file membership to vote on presidential endorsements, while Sanders has secured the backing of groups that do allow members to vote." But Barbara Lee refrains from endorsing.

"Regulating Banks vs. Displacing Them: Where Clinton and Sanders Disagree on Wall Street [...] They believe in different roles for the financial sector in the economy. And, yes, campaign finance factors in heavily, as Sanders wants to radically change the financial institutions at the core of our financial sector, while Clinton, still surrounded by the same status quo corporate and investment banking advisers, wants to largely leave them be and regulate them more stringently."
* "Hillary Clinton's Attitude Toward Wall Street Is Subjective [...] But I remain skeptical. I tend to subtract Mrs. Clinton's more recent left-leaning policy proposals. Consider her first major tax proposal of the campaign, on capital gains. Rather than suggest that we abolish the capital gains preference, she proposed a gradual step-down in rates depending on the length of time an investor holds assets, with the lowest rate of 20 percent available after five years. I find this approach troubling because it would do little to address top-end income inequality, which is exacerbated by the lower rate of tax on long-term capital gains, much of which is generated by the sale of assets with long holding periods."

Ta-Nahesi Coates is still unable to go along with Sanders on reparations, but nevertheless, it seems, he is feeling the Bern.
* "Hillary Is 'Confused About Feminism,' Bernie Supporters Say."
* "The Tragedy of Hillary Clinton (and Her Generation) [...] The Clintons are insiders now, their personal wealth of over $50 million derived nearly entirely from the wealthy and powerful. And it shows. Hillary's gradualism in health care carefully protects health-related industries. Her proposals for financial regulation do not include putting executives in jail, or confiscating the wealth they obtained by theft. Ironically, Bernie Sanders apparently feels that he must tread carefully here, because being fully direct about this issue would require criticizing President Obama. So Mrs. Clinton might just get away with pretending to be the reformer she once was."

Lambert on Corruption: "Clinton on releasing transcripts of her Goldman speeches: 'Let everybody who's ever given a speech to any private group under any circumstances release them. We'll all release them at the same time' [Raw Story]. First, 'everybody' isn't running for President; Clinton is. Second, Clinton basically proves Sanders' point: The political class, with rare exceptions, is deeply corrupt; hence the omerta Clinton is implicitly invoking and depending on. If they won't release them, it's for the same reason Clinton won't. Contemporaneous paraphrase of Clinton's remarks: 'We all got into this mess together, and we're all going to have to work together to get out of it.' No, we didn't. And no, we haven't. Somebody should ask Clinton if she's seen The Big Short and, if so, whether she agrees with Sanders that the Wall Street business model is based on fraud (yes, he went there)."

"Henry Kissinger's War Crimes Are Central to the Divide Between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders: The sparring during Thursday's Democratic presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders over whether Henry Kissinger is an elder statesman or a pariah has laid bare a major foreign policy divide within the Democratic Party."
* "A Key Divide Between Clinton and Sanders Supporters: Income"

Here's a good idea: Use the debates to talk about making it easier for everyone to vote.

"Rep. Mary Lou Marzian files bill requiring extra doctor visit before prescribing erectile dysfunction drugs: Prompted by the passage of an 'informed consent' abortion law in Kentucky, Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, filed a bill this week that would require a patient to have two office visits with a doctor before erectile dysfunction medication could be prescribed. In addition, the bill would allow the drug to be obtained only by married men who swear on a Bible that they'll use the drug exclusively when having sexual relations with their spouse."

"If TPP is Progressive, Why Must White House Rely on 'Republican Friendly Organizations' to Sell It?"

"Leaked police files contain guarantees disciplinary records will be kept secret."

"FBI Joins Flint Water Probe - Investigation Now A Criminal Matter."

"Why a bunch of Silicon Valley investors are suddenly interested in universal basic income"

Bill Black thought The Big Short was a fun film, even though it glorifies bankers and ignores unsung whistleblowers.

Tom Tomorrow: "Will Bernie Sanders Redistribute Your Wealth? And other pressing questions from this primary season|

Apple under pressure as lawyers pledge action over 'Error 53' codes

"Democrats Override Governor's Veto - Restore Voting Rights To Maryland's Released Felons." This is great news, make no mistake. (But I'd like to take this opportunity to kvetch that this is how bad the Democrats are that they keep letting Republicans back into the governor's mansion in Maryland, for godssakes.)

"ACTION ALERT: Stop Mega-Cable Merger to Avoid a Second Comcast: Americans are divided in many ways, but there are some points of convergence - one of which seems to be hatred of the cable company Comcast. Notoriously terrible customer service, a pricing system described as 'absurd' and a stranglehold on internet speeds garner the cable behemoth a remarkable amount of dislike and distrust, which played a role in the quashing of its recent effort to merge with perennial runner-up for worst company in America, Time Warner Cable. You'd think it would be bigger news, therefore, that Americans who hate Comcast largely for reasons related to its very bigness are now facing the possibility of, essentially, another Comcast. The harms from a possible merger between Time Warner, Charter Communications and Bright House Networks were detailed in a piece for BillMoyers.com (2/4/16) by Michael Copps."

"This is how America rations health care" - Apparently, the guy in this story is not close enough to being terminal - yet - to be in the "medically necessary" category, so no cure.

"The Top 10 Most Inhuman Henry Kissinger Quotes" - I seem to remember him saying worse things, actually...
* "Henry Kissinger's genocidal legacy: Vietnam, Cambodia and the birth of American militarism"

Dean Baker writing in 2012: "Inequality: The silly tales economists like to tell [...] But economists are not rewarded for studying the economy. That is why almost everyone in the profession missed the $8 trillion housing bubble, the collapse of which stands to cost the country more than $7 trillion in lost output according to the Congressional Budget Office (that comes to around $60,000 per household). Few if any economists lost their 6-figure paychecks for this disastrous mistake. But most economists are not paid for knowing about the economy. They are paid for telling stories that justify giving more money to rich people. Hence we can look forward to many more people telling us that all the money going to the rich was just the natural workings of the economy. When it comes to all the government rules and regulations that shifted income upward, they just don't know what you're talking about."

Ask Matt Bevin about your vagina.

"Paul McCartney to regain rights to Beatles songs currently owned by Michael Jackson" - if he lives that long. "According to the US Copyright Act of 1976, songwriters are able to regain control of publishing rights on pre-1978 compositions after 56 years … which means that the former Beatle will be able to regain control over Beatles compositions from 1962 in 2018 and songs from 1970 in 2026. McCartney only has to wait until he is 76, just a mere nine years from now, and he'll be making even more money."

RIP:
* "U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia found dead at West Texas ranch." I like the way the headline uses "found dead", as if it might be a murder. OK, yes, I'm not going to pretend I'm sorry this monster is no longer on the Supreme Court. But I'm worried about Obama appointing another damned neoliberal.
* Robin Chandler Duke, Philanthropist Who Championed Women's Rights, Dies at 92. "She was the national co-chairwoman of the Population Crisis Committee/Draper Fund, which financed International Planned Parenthood; the president and, later, the chairwoman of the National Abortion Rights Action League; the president of its successor, Naral Pro-Choice America; a founder of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities; and the chairwoman of Population Action International."

Petition to make the Ackermansion an historic site: "The Ackermansion now faces the threat of demolition. A petition to the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission asks to have it designated an historic monument."

Lego Architecture Skyline Collection
* Prefab Hobbit houses
* "Murals from Silhouetted Figures
* Intricately Detailed Papercut Designs by RIU
* Quilled Paper Art by Sena Runa
* Photorealistic Paintings by Hirothropologie
* Landscapes by Gürel Sahin
* Landscapes by Ilja Masík

The Beatles, "Love Me Do"

The Troggs, "Wild Thing"

11:38 GMT comment


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Just nod if you can hear me

Stuart Zechman and Avedon Carol discussed the incredibly annoying primaries on Virtually Speaking Sundays. Homework includes Gloria Steinhem's original statement on Bill Maher, but she did come to her senses and walk it back, later.

FULL MSNBC Democratic Debate: Hillary Clinton VS Bernie Sanders - New Hampshire Feb. 4, 2016
* As if Peter Daou claiming Hillary was not the establishment wasn't bizarre enough, Hillary Clinton actually said these words during the debate: "Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment." Er, no, pretty much everyone else thinks you're the establishment, Madame Secretary.
* "Clinton Accuses Sanders of 'Artful Smear' for Questioning Why Wall Street Gives Her Millions" It's not a smear, it's a fact that they give her free money. They didn't give it to her because they thought she was going to make a brilliant speech they were dying to hear. They gave it to her because they recognized one of their own with the only thing they place a real value on. (Or as Weldon Berger put it on Facebook, "They give her money because they're comfortable with her, and she takes it because she's comfortable with them. They're in the same club. I think that's why she has so much trouble answering why she takes the money: the question just doesn't make any sense to her.")
* Clinton managed to look better than Sanders on foreign policy this time, but then she bragged about getting compliments from Henry Kissinger, which may have reminded people just what kind of "experience" and "expertise" she really has. It's a shame Sanders didn't look at her and say, "Really? Henry Kissinger? The famous war criminal?" But Hillary's approach to foreign policy in the past really doesn't recommend it for our future; even now, she has trouble tamping down her tendency to belligerent, aggressive language that exposes a penchant for martial confrontation rather than other solutions. Her sympathizers and detractors alike tend to assume her Iraq vote was cynical, something she "had to" do to prove she was as "tough" as any man and necessary if she ever wanted to run for president. But she was strangely reluctant for a very long time to admit that it was unwise. And maybe that's because she actually believed in that war and wasn't just voting cynically. That's actually not a good thing.
* Sam Seder and Cliff Schecter made some good criticisms on both sides Friday on The Majority Report.
* The Young Turks discuss the foreign policy segment of the Democratic debate.
* Even Booman seems to be having qualms about the Wall Street issue.

Lori Wallach: Signing of TPP Marks Only Beginning of the Fight, Trade Deal Could Still Be Stopped: "Well, the signing locks the legal text, so, in a sense, it's the end of negotiations. But it's really just the beginning of the fight. The TPP is a 5,000-page doorstop, unless Congress approves it and then whomever is president signs it. So, the first thing all of us who are concerned about TPP need to do is make sure that every member of Congress is now publicly saying they're against it, they will not support this agreement. There's no more time for generalities or vague statements. There's a signed text now, so they have to take a decision."
* TPP signed in New Zealand, - but not ratified, and the question is whether the new president of the United States will be signing when the time comes. "As we learned recently, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tom Donohue thinks the vote will take place after the election - because it can't pass otherwise - and also thinks that if Hillary Clinton is president, she'll support it. Which suggests a number of questions. First, is Donohue right? Does he know some insider something we don't know?"
* "It's Not Just TPP. Can a President Kill NAFTA? Al Gore Thought So. Hillary Clinton Too." Al Gore said we can get out of it in six months. In 2008, Hillary said she would insist on renegotiating it. Bernie has pledged not to sign TPP. Where's Clinton, now?
* "Study: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Cost US a Half Million Jobs, Drag Down GDP." And that's not even the worst thing.
* Robert Reich takes on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
* Senator Elizabeth Warren says Congress should oppose the TPP deal.
* One Million Anti-TPP Petitions Delivered to Congress
* "If TPP is Progressive, Why Must White House Rely on 'Republican Friendly Organizations' to Sell It?"
* Bernie Sanders at TPP Press Conference

"Exclusive: Presidential hopefuls Sanders, Clinton in dead heat - Reuters/Ipsos poll: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has erased Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's wide lead for the Democratic presidential nomination since the start of year, putting the two in a dead heat nationally, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. Clinton leads Sanders 48 percent to 45 percent among Democratic voters, according to the poll of 512 Americans, conducted Feb. 2-5 following the Iowa caucus. The poll has a credibility interval of 5 percentage points."
* "Hillary Clinton Losing Her National Lead Over Bernie Sanders, Poll Shows: Hillary Clinton's strong national lead over Sanders is essentially gone and, instead, the Democratic race is incredibly close, according to a national Quinnipiac poll released today. Clinton received 44 percent of support while Sanders can boast about 42 percent, his highest support in any national poll to date."

Marcy Kaptur: "Comparing Sanders to former President Harry Truman, Kaptur said, 'In many ways, his struggle in this campaign is very noble, because he is up against the most powerful forces, economic forces, that have caused so much harm... They'll try to diminish him. I admire the fact that he's running, that he is an agent of change in our society, and he doesn't have the billionaire class lined up behind him. He's a senator from Vermont.'"

"Elizabeth Warren Defends Bernie Sanders From Goldman Sachs Criticism: In an interview with International Business Times hours before Wednesday night's Democratic town hall in New Hampshire, the Massachusetts senator - whose endorsement is coveted by both Democratic candidates - slammed Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein for asserting earlier in the day that Sanders' criticism of Wall Street had created a dangerous environment in America. 'He thinks it's fine to prosecute small business owners, it's fine to go hard after individuals who have no real resources, but don't criticize companies like Goldman Sachs and their very, very important CEO - that's what he's really saying,' Warren told IBT. [...] 'In the financial crisis of 2008, it was fraud right down at the heart of that crisis, and yet not one major bank executive was even charged, much less prosecuted and taken to trial - not one,' she said. Noting that the federal government prosecuted hundreds of Wall Street executives after the Savings and Loan scandal a few decades ago, she said, 'You're telling me that something changed between the 1980s, when more than a thousand people got prosecuted in the Savings and Loan crisis, but by 2008, a far bigger financial crisis involving far bigger and bolder frauds, that no one was legally responsible for that? That's just not possible.'"

Former Clinton administration counselor Bill Curry says, "It's almost over for Hillary: This election is a mass insurrection against a rigged system: Sanders has ended the coronation and fired up the grass roots. Now Clinton's electability argument is crumbling too. [...] The core of Clinton's realpolitik brief pertains not to electability but to governance. Her point is that Sanders is naïve. She says none of his proposals can get though a Republican Congress. She strongly implies that he'd roll back Obamacare, a charge that is false, cynical and so nonsensical she'll have to stop making it soon. She says she has a plan to get to universal health care - she doesn't - and that she'll do it by working 'in partnership' with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Who's being naïve here? A Republican Congress won't pass any of her ideas either. The only way to get real change is to elect Democrats to Congress and have a grass-roots movement strong enough to keep the heat on them. Nor will insurers cough up a dime of profit without a fight. Vowing to spare us a 'contentious debate' over single-payer care she ignores the admonition of Frederick Douglas; 'Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.' There has been a lot of talk lately about what a progressive is. Here's a hint: if you think Douglas is wrong, you might not be one."

David Cay Johnston says: "You agree with Bernie Sanders (but you might not know it)."

David Dayen in TNR says "Bernie's Army Is Running for Congress: Sanders Democrats like Nevada's Lucy Flores aim to amplify the Vermont senator's uncompromising message in Washington - and move the party in a populist direction." This is good, of course, but we need good people running all the way down to dog-catcher. The Democrats have no farm team anymore.

Lee Fang, "Pharma Executives Worry About Presidential Candidates Demanding Reform: Responding to tough talk by presidential candidates about price gouging by drug companies, pharmaceutical executives have told investors that they are working actively to influence the political debate. And in a move that reveals how much leeway drug firms actually have over pricing decisions, some are even saying that they have minimized price hikes in recent months to avoid attracting attention. Democratic contenders Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both called for the government to do much more to bring down the price of medications. And last week, Republican candidate Donald Trump came out in support of allowing Medicare to negotiate for cheaper drug prices, a move that places him even to the left of some leaders in the Democratic Party."

"The Pressure on Warren to Support Hillary Clinton" - It seems someone has been leaning on Democratic women to lean on Warren to endorse Hillary. I like it that Warren has resisted so far, it means at the very least that she's got leverage.

Benjamin Studebaker: "Why Bernie vs Hillary Matters More Than People Think: Lately the internet has become full of arguments about the merits and demerits of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Over the past couple weeks, I've been discussing and pondering all the various views about this, and I'm increasingly of the opinion that most of the people engaging in this debate don't really understand what is at stake in the democratic primary. This is in part because many Americans don't really understand the history of American left wing politics and don't think about policy issues in a holistic, structural way. So in this post, I want to really dig into what the difference is between Bernie and Hillary and why that difference is extremely important. [...] Many people think that it is the Republican Party alone that is responsible for this, but beginning in 1976 with Jimmy Carter, the Democratic Party was captured by this same ideology, which in academic circles is often referred to as neoliberalism. It is now largely forgotten that it was Carter, not Reagan, who began deregulating the market. Indeed, in during the 1976 democratic primary, there was an ABC movement - Anybody But Carter. Democrats who remained committed to the party's egalitarian ideology rightly feared that Carter was too right wing and would effectively strip the party of its historical commitment to the continuation and expansion of the legacy of FDR and LBJ. However, they ran too many candidates against Carter, splitting the left vote and allowing Carter to win the nomination. [...] Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal building on the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. She doesn't understand the pivotal role inequality plays in creating economic crisis and reducing economic growth. She has been taken in by a fundamentally right wing paradigm, and if she is elected she will continue to lead the Democratic Party down that path."

David Dayen in Salon, "The Democratic Primary miracle: Why Sanders vs. Clinton is just the beginning" For the first time in ages, a primary is centered around substantive differences. It's a bigger deal than you think."

Interview with Liza Featherstone, editor of False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton, on why Clinton's elite feminism does not serve women: "Well, faux feminism is a bit of hyperbole, because of course--of course all kinds of revolting ideologies are part of feminism. I can't say only my feminism is the real feminism. I'm kind of kidding about that, a little. But what I do think is that that sort of feminism is not actually serious about improving the vast majority of women's lives, that what Hillary represents--what I mean by faux feminism is that it's elite feminism, so it is only going to serve a few. So you know, elite women who may cheer, you know, the symbolic lifting of the glass ceiling that Hillary represents. But on the other hand what her record represents is, as I say in the piece, a contempt for the kind of social democratic policies that most women need."

"Top Hillary Clinton Advisers and Fundraisers Lobbied Against Obamacare - and Dodd-Frank, too. "Most of the Clinton campaign fundraisers who lobbied on Dodd-Frank did not respond to a request for comment. When asked about the work, Tony Podesta emailed us to say, 'Call B of A.' An inquiry to Bank of America was not returned. There are other lobbyists on the Clinton campaign staff. T. LaDavia Drane, the Clinton campaign's director of African-American outreach, previously worked as a lobbyist for a trade group that represents Pepsico and Hershey on issues related to obesity and advertising to children. Jeff Berman, a senior Clinton campaign official who is leading her delegate strategy, previously worked as a lobbyist for the private prison firm Geo Group, seeking to influence the federal budget, as well as working for TransCanada to help secure approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline."

Naked Capitalism: "Krugman's Cowardly, Dishonest Attack on David Dayen Over Krugman's Misrepresentation of Sanders' Financial Reforms [...] The Krugman that was early to stand up to the Iraq War, who was incisive before and during the crisis has been very much in absence since Obama took office. It's hard to understand the loss of intellectual independence. That may not make Krugman any worse than other Democratic party apparatchiks, but he continues to believe he is other than that, and the lashing out at Dayen looks like a wounded denial of his role. In other words, as much as Krugman's tantrum is so transparently off beam as to warrant ridicule, and as much it might seem fair minded to give Krugman and Konczal the benefit of the doubt and depict them as hostages of their own self-styled wonkery, that's just falling for their protective coloring. Their whole argument is political, Hillary is pragmatic and polls better, etc (check out the extreme passive aggressive way Krugman traffics in Clinton talking points about how Bernie is unelectable). They really believe in political corruption as long as Democrats and technocrats are in charge, which is why Hillary's speaking fees from Wall Street aren't even worth a mention. They believe in Scalia's logic on Citizens United. That's why Konczal defends the Peterson donations to Roosevelt; he really has a right-wing dystopian understanding of corruption and power, that might makes right. In their case, that 'might' is the professionalism of technocracy, and choosing who to ignore is their divine right.

Elizabeth Warren in the NYT last week: "One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions: WHILE presidential candidates from both parties feverishly pitch their legislative agendas, voters should also consider what presidents can do without Congress. Agency rules, executive actions and decisions about how vigorously to enforce certain laws will have an impact on every American, without a single new bill introduced in Congress. [...] In a single year, in case after case, across many sectors of the economy, federal agencies caught big companies breaking the law - defrauding taxpayers, covering up deadly safety problems, even precipitating the financial collapse in 2008 - and let them off the hook with barely a slap on the wrist. Often, companies paid meager fines, which some will try to write off as a tax deduction. The failure to adequately punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country. Justice cannot mean a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but nothing more than a sideways glance at a C.E.O. who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars."

My favorite part of this video about the carried interest loophole is the guy who moans that people like him are being singled out and they, and only they, will be forced to pay the same rates as everyone else. That's a good one.

When Mark Bessington lined up presidents in terms of how great the increase in income disparity became during the their terms in office, Reagan was, unsurprisingly, the worst. But: "The Sad Legacy of Compromise Democrats [...] Regardless of any rationale one can conjure in support of the Clinton administration's key economic decisions, the record is clear: income disparity increased significantly during his two terms as president. Indeed, the damage was greater than what was done by Nixon, George W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush combined! The biggest surprise of all is with the Obama administration: it has the second worst record in nearly 50 years. How could this be? At the start of his first term he had 58% of Congress and won nearly 53% of the popular vote."

"American Medical Association votes to BAN prescription drug commercials: AMA board chair-elect Patrice Harris said that the vote 'reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially-driven promotions,' specifically railing on the drug companies getting people hooked on expensive drugs." That ban used to be how things were, and everyone understood why. And then one day, we began the long and hair-tearingly stupid march to "thinking outside the box" and falling off the edge. It's nice to know the AMA has come back to its senses on this issue.

"California Attorney General Files Charges Over L.A.'s Natural Gas Leak: California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Tuesday that she has filed a lawsuit against Southern California Gas Company, alleging the company failed to report the massive methane leak near Los Angeles in a timely manner. The natural gas, which has been treated with an odorant called mercaptan, is making local residents sick. Since the leak began in October, some 3,000 families have been evacuated from the Porter Ranch neighborhood, about 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. "

"FBI joins investigation into Flint water contamination crisis [...] Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit, said in an email that federal prosecutors in Michigan are 'working with a multi-agency investigation team on the Flint water contamination matter, including the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the EPA's Office of Inspector General - and the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division.'"
* "Michigan inmates pledge to donate a third of their monthly incomes to help Flint: 'Literally everyone raised their hand to commit to give at least $3,' Senghor said. That might not sound like a lot to most people, but for a prison inmate, it's nothing to sneeze at. Many inmates make only about $10 a month at their prison jobs, Senghor said. Those without families supporting them have to use that to buy all of their toiletries and other supplies at the commissary."

"Federal court strikes down NC congressional district maps: RALEIGH, N.C. - Three federal judges on Friday threw out the congressional voting maps the Republican-led General Assembly drew five years ago, ruling that two districts were gerrymandered along racial lines. The ruling throws the March 15 primary into chaos, as the judges ordered state lawmakers to redraw the maps within two weeks and not to hold any elections for U.S. House until the maps are in place. A special session of the legislature would have to be called to approve new maps, and they might have to pass federal muster again."

Toys for psychopaths: "Smarter smart bombs, mini railguns, and swarming robot boats to watch man-made islands are a few of the key technology areas that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sees as vital to U.S. military superiority in the next decade. In a preview of the Pentagon's upcoming 2017 budget request, Carter said military research and development spending would rise to $71.4 billion from last year's $71.3 billion request.) Carter also listed areas where the Defense Department was already seeing 'returns' on R&D spending through the Strategic Capabilities Office, or SCO." Can't afford schools, potable water, or health care, though.

Brad Friedman and Bev Harris on voting issues in Iowa, New Hampshire, and beyond - It should tell you a lot about the Democratic leadership that even after 2000, they have never made an issue of this.

"Angela Merkel surprised by massive protest march against TTIP in Berlin: BERLIN (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Berlin on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they say is anti-democratic and will lower food safety, labor and environmental standards."

"UK Rejects UN Ruling that Assange Detention Is Illegal: After the UN finds Assange to be arbitrarily detained, Assange attorney Carey Shenkman explains how the UK is undermining the authority of the UN while simultaneously relying on it to release detained UK citizens"

Sex panic police: "Police investigate West Midlands pupils over 'sexting'"

"Why a bunch of Silicon Valley investors are suddenly interested in universal basic income"

"Soldiers who've fought in Afghanistan, what preconceptions did you have that turned out to be completely wrong?"

RIP
* It's a bit sad that two of the original members of Jefferson Airplane died at once, but since she left after their first album, most people don't remember their original singer, Signe Anderson, who has died at 74, and they didn't notice that she died on the same day as Paul Kantner. (That Rolling Stone obit has all the videos I would have posted.)
* Maurice White dead: Earth, Wind & Fire founder dies aged 74, after his condition from Parkinson's disease deteriorated. An alumna of Chess Records sessions work, he backed up numerous major stars before finally forming his own legendary ensemble.

So, all this time everyone thought you had to have exotic tropical woods to get good sound quality in guitars, and it doesn't seem to be the case.

Science says: Eat cheese to be healthy.

Majestic photos from Chile by Andy Lee
* Angela Clayton Sews Beautiful Historically-Inspired Dresses.
* Snow spray window art

David Gilmour and David Bowie, "Comfortably Numb", live.

01:10 GMT comment


Wednesday, 03 February 2016

Volunteers

Gaius Publius and Isaiah Poole discussed what the Clinton versus Sanders race is really about on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

The Iowa caucasers upset Nate Silver's prediction of a decisive Clinton win, but didn't give Sanders one, either. Having closely watched Silver's figures as the polls had Sanders closing on Clinton, I'm not terribly surprised that Sanders didn't have that decisive victory - Clinton had been consistently ahead all along after all. However, the gap was closing fast in the last week and the hair's-breadth near-tie didn't surprise me, either. I can't help feeling that if the caucuses had been held a week later, Bernie might have come out ahead. And whatever anyone else tells you, it is a victory when the candidate no one took seriously a month or two ago ends up nearly beating the "inevitable" contender. Do not expect the Democratic establishment to take the right message from this, but the idea that Sanders is "unelectable" is losing force more and more every day.
* "Sanders: 'Virtual Tie' in Iowa Sends Establishment a Profound Message: Sanders acknowledges 'cautious optimism,' but observers recognize key role early victory may have for campaign that has made 'political revolution' its calling card."
* Martin O'Malley could turn out to be the real tie-breaker if he releases his voters, most of whom appear to be Sanders leaners. It seems so far he's not releasing, probably hoping to broker a deal, but we'll see if this amounts to anything.

Iowa Democratic Presidential Town Hall Forum by CNN 01-25-2016

I have never in my life seen a march in support of a political candidate, but there actually was one: "'March for Bernie' Is an Occupy Wall Street Homecoming."

"Sanders challenges Clinton to 3 new debates
* "Sanders calls for more debates - on his own terms"
* Hillary and Bernie agree to four more debates: "DNC moving to assert control as more Democratic debates agreed"
* DNC sanctions new debate: "MSNBC announced Sunday that it will hold a Democratic presidential debate Thursday, Feb. 4, in New Hampshire ahead of the first-in-the-nation primary. The debate will take place at the University of New Hampshire in Durham at 9 p.m. Eastern and be moderated by Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow. All three Democratic presidential candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley are expected to attend. The Democratic National Committee, which has been under pressure from voters and candidates to add more debates to the primary schedule, has said the debate will be sanctioned and is moving towards sanctioning additional debates with the agreement of the candidates.

"The ugliest Bernie smear yet: Washington Post shows its corporate colors with new Sanders hit piece. [...] As I've written elsewhere, establishment gatekeeping - which make no mistake, The Washington Post is doing - is based on a tautology: Sanders can't change people's minds because serious people don't think it will work and we're serious people. Maybe the Post is right, maybe it's not, but bold policy initiatives are not all or nothing. The idea that Sanders' proposals must be adopted wholesale or not at all is a fallacy; no one thinks the U.S. will have single-payer healthcare overnight with a President Sanders, but this strawman is presented as the case. Of course, compromises will be made, as they always are, but how does starting a negotiation with a principled stand harm anyone? It doesn't, except for those heavily invested in maintaining the conventional wisdom that single payer - though entirely standard in almost every other developing nation - is a laughable fantasy here in the United States."
* Dean Baker, "Washington Post Doubles Down with Name Calling on Sanders.[...] Getting to the substance, the Post is unhappy with Sanders proposal for single payer health insurance which it argues will cost far more or deliver much less than promised. While the Post is correct that Sanders has put forward a campaign proposal rather than a fully worked out health reform bill, it is not unreasonable to think that we can get considerably more coverage at a lower cost than we pay now. After all, there is nothing in our national psyche that should condemn us to forever pay twice as much per person for our health care as people in other wealthy countries. (I have written more about this issue here.)" Which is pretty rich anyway, since Clinton hasn't produced a fully worked out health reform bill, either - just a campaign proposal.

Katrina vanden Heuvel in the WaPo saying, "Bernie Sanders is the realist we should elect [...] But this conventional wisdom clashes with the reality that this country has suffered serial devastations from choices supported by the establishment's 'responsible' candidates. On fundamental issue after issue, it is the candidate 'of the heart' who is in fact grounded in common sense."

Atrios on Obamacare: "I think Daniel Denvir is basically right here. Overall, Obamacare is an improvement (the Medicaid expansion especially, some other provisions of the law) but the Rube Goldberg mostly shitty insurance exchanges have just solidified the worst of our health care system. It isn't just not super popular because the tea party hates it, it's because our health insurance system is crap. And while detaching it from employment is in theory a good thing, it also means that people can't call their HR/benefits person, someone with at least a little leverage, to fight their insurance battles for them. Nothing is possible as long as Republicans run Congress, so it's time to talk about what we want to happen without pretending that anything actually can happen, because right now it can't." He's referencing the article "Bernie Sanders is right about Obamacare: Here's why it's time to talk about single-payer." And this isn't the only Congress we will ever have, so it might be possible - even within four years - if we start talking about it now.

"Meet the New Harry and Louise: Vox's attack on Bernie Sanders is sold as a policy critique. It's actually a dishonest exercise in managing the Democratic Party base."
* Marcy Wheeler: "The Virgin Birth of Obama's Wonk Core: There's a telling paragraph in this post from Ezra Klein, one of a series of posts written lately by self-described 'wonks' defending the electoral and political approach Hillary Clinton embraces."

"Why People Around the World are Rooting for Bernie Sanders [...] Apart from the economic and political influence that it exercises globally, the US has a strong ideological impact on the world too. American soft power has been especially devastating in terms of its export of neoliberal ideology, wherein corporates are the preferred vehicle for economic activity, even in the social sector, with the role of governments relegated to smaller and smaller niches. If Bernie Sanders becomes the next president of the United States, free health, education, and a decent minimum wage - and a clear message to big business to rein in its economic greed and political aspirations - can be expected to become strong elements of US national policy. This will hit at the very heart of the neoliberal global establishment. It could significantly weaken this establishment's ideological strength, which it currently packages so well that it has been able to sell it successfully to a very big part of the global population, especially the middle and aspirational classes."

"A Non-Neoliberal Woman President Is Not One of the Choices."

"Bernie Sanders and the Rising of We the People" - Nice inclusion of a video of Tracy Chapman doing "The Times They Are A Changing".

Cory Robin on "What the Clintons Mean to Me: Maybe this is a generational thing, but this is what the Clintons will always mean to me: Sister Souljah, Ricky Ray Rector, welfare reform, and the crime bill. And beyond - really, behind - all that, the desperate affirmation to win over white voters by declaring: We are not the Party of Jesse Jackson, We are not the Rainbow Coalition. People don't seem to remember just how much the Clintons' national ascendancy was premised upon the repudiation of black voters and black interests - a move that was both inspired and applauded by a small but influential group of Beltway journalists and party strategists, who believed this was the only path to taking back the White House from the Republicans - but for me, it's vivid as yesterday. [...] What's more, white people got the message: according to polls, white voters were more familiar with Clinton's attack on Sister Souljah than they were with his economic plan. So did black people: though they voted for Clinton, their share of the total voter turnout fell by 20% from 1988, when they cast their ballots for Michael Dukakis (and accounted for 20% of the vote for him and 10% of total turnout), and 1992, when they cast their ballots for Clinton (and accounted for 15% of the vote for him and 8% of total turnout)."
* "Black Lives Shattered: How the Clintons Built Their Legacy on White Supremacy"
* Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, on Hillary Clinton's Embrace of Mass Incarceration: If anyone doubts that the mainstream media fails to tell the truth about our political system (and its true winners and losers), the spectacle of large majorities of black folks supporting Hillary Clinton in the primary races ought to be proof enough. I can't believe Hillary would be coasting into the primaries with her current margin of black support if most people knew how much damage the Clintons have done - the millions of families that were destroyed the last time they were in the White House thanks to their boastful embrace of the mass incarceration machine and their total capitulation to the right-wing narrative on race, crime, welfare and taxes. There's so much more to say on this topic and it's a shame that more people aren't saying it. I think it's time we have that conversation."

Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, whose father was choked to death by a cop on Staten Island in broad daylight, endorses: "Black lives like my father's should matter. That's why I'm endorsing Bernie Sanders. I want a leader who truly cares about justice for my family, for black people and for all Americans. [...] That's why I resent politicians who speak their names without confronting the underlying problem: a banned chokehold was used on my father, several officers on the scene let it happen, my father is dead and Pantaleo is still on NYPD's payroll because black lives don't necessarily matter to everyone in America. If our lives really mattered, we'd have equal access to decent jobs, good schools and affordable housing. If our lives mattered in this country, we'd have equal access to clean air, clean water and real investment in black neighborhoods. If black lives mattered in America, those who routinely brutalize us wouldn't be the ones paid, with our tax dollars, to keep us safe. I trusted establishment Democrats who claimed to represent me, only to later watch them ignore and explain away the injustice of my father's death. I trusted the system; then I watched as politicians on both sides of the aisle - from Chicago's Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel to Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder - disregard the will of the people they were elected to represent and abdicate their responsibility to protect them. I've watched as our system criminalizes blackness while allowing Wall Street to bilk the American people with impunity. [...] Who will address the criminalization of our people? Who understands that we're experiencing an economic crisis made worse by structural barriers to jobs and education? Who will bring us closer to real safety, freedom and power? Who has clearly shown us where they stand? The answer is someone who started this work well before campaign season, who understands our deaths as tragedies - not political talking points - and someone who will speak out against the wars being waged against our communities. Not someone who only pays attention to our concerns when it's time to collect our votes. Not someone who gives us bread crumbs and expects us to be full. Black Americans - all Americans - need a leader with a record that speaks for itself. And to me, it's clear. Of all the presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders is our strongest ally."

Cody Gough: "I support Bernie Sanders, and I'm not stupid or unrealistic: Today I read for maybe the 10,000th time an assertion that supporters of Bernie Sanders are unrealistic, that Bernie Sanders supporters will all be disappointed if they elect him because he won't be able to bring the change he's promising, that Bernie Sanders' policies will be 'just another example of Democrats making promises they can't keep,' and so on and so forth. And I'd like to briefly dispel a misconception about people who support Bernie Sanders as the next president of the United States: We're not stupid."

"Robert Reich: I've Known Hillary Since She Was 19. Bernie Sanders is the Most Qualified Candidate."

Yves Smith, "Another Hillary Falsehood: She Didn't Tell Banks to 'Cut it Out' Pre Crisis; She Blamed Homeowners."

"How Bernie Sanders evolved from fringe candidate to contender"

"The 'Bernie Bro' is a Media Myth. It Needs to Die: Bernie Sanders has more female than male support, and Sanders is widely popular with Black, Latino, and Asian voters." Moreover, "One reddit user, who identifies herself as a woman of color, explains the Bernie Bro phenomenon as 'just basic statistics ' There are more young people who support Bernie. More young people use the Internet. So the likelihood of you bumping into a rude Bernie supporter is greater than the likelihood you'll bump into a Hillary one. Why is it so hard to understand this....'"

"What The Washington Post (and Nearly Everyone) Gets Wrong About Bernie Sanders: Every presidential campaign is aspirational."

New York Times Gets it Wrong: Bernie Sanders Not 'Top Beneficiary of Outside Money'

"I like Bernie, but..."

How is Bernie really doing in the south and with people of color?

It's funny how people are talking about those nasty Bernie Bros. Anyone remember 2007-8? The Obots were worse than any of them, but we never heard much about that, did we? I didn't much like being called a racist every time I pointed out the real content of Obama's allegedly wonderful speeches, not to mention some of his votes and his policies. At least this time I'm only being called a "boy".

Tom Tomorrow: The Election News Network

"Bernie Sanders Blocks Obama's FDA Nominee Over Big Pharma Ties: Dr. Califf's extensive ties to the pharmaceutical industry give me no reason to believe that he would make the FDA work for ordinary Americans, rather than just the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies."

"Bernie Sanders And Elizabeth Warren May Have Just Saved Consumers $14 Billion: Cable rules are changing after months of pressure from liberal senators."

Hillary Clinton had an op-ed in the NYT on "How I'd Rein in Wall Street," and Elizabeth Warren linked it in a Facebook post, and introduced it with these words. "Secretary Clinton is right to fight back against Republicans trying to sneak Wall Street giveaways into the must-pass government funding bill. Whether it's attacking the CFPB, undermining new rules to rein in unscrupulous retirement advisers, or rolling back any part of the hard-fought progress we've made on financial reform, she and I agree: 'President Obama and congressional Democrats should do everything they can to stop these efforts.' " Curiously, Salon posted an article about that with a highly misleading headline. I mention this because it worked, with several people who either touted it as Warren's official endorsement of Clinton or bemoaned the idea that Warren had endorsed Clinton. She didn't. She endorsed going after Republicans on their efforts to weaken the CFPB.

"Hillary Clinton Fails 7th Grade Civil War History: At last night's uneventful Iowa 'town hall' discussion on CNN, Hillary Clinton was asked which president she most admires. Her answer: Abraham Lincoln. Her reason: a terrible muddled mess of Dixie revisionism that puts Reconstruction in the same dark bin as Jim Crow."
* Even Ta-Nahesi Coates wonders how Hillary Clinton missed the news about Reconstruction and why it failed.

Kevin Drum posts Max Sawicky's response to Ta-Nahisi Coates: "Reparations and Bernie Sanders: Another View" - The comments are actually kinda scary in their ignorance.

"Clinton Goes to Pennsylvania to Reap Windfall from Pennsylvania Frackers: Last night, Hillary Clinton attended a gala fundraiser in Philadelphia at the headquarters of Franklin Square Capital Partners, a major investor in the fossil-fuel industry, particularly domestic fracking. The controversial fracking industry is particularly powerful in Pennsylvania, which will host the Democratic National Convention this July. Clinton has avoided taking any clear stand on fracking. While she has embraced the Clean Power Plan, which assumes a strong increase in natural-gas power plants, she also supports a much deeper investment in solar electricity than the baseline plan. The pro-Clinton Super PAC Correct the Record, run by David Brock, touts Clinton's aggressive pro-fracking record."

Surprisingly, Brian Beutler's "Is Nominating Bernie Sanders a Worthwhile Gamble?" in The New Republic is a fairly even-handed look at the question: But if we're imagining both of their agendas as opening bids in negotiations with Congress, why fault Sanders for not negotiating with himself? Ask a future Democratic Congress for single payer and a $15 minimum wage and you might get laughed at - but you also might get the public option and a bump to $12. Ask it for the public option and a $12 minimum wage, as Clinton might, and you'll get a fair hearing from the outset, but you might end up with advancements barely worth fighting for. President Obama, as Sanders is fond of noting, negotiated with himself, and progressives paid an unknowable price as a result. Center-left liberals will remind us that Obama's biggest legislative accomplishments were products of hard-nosed dealmaking, rather than mass action. And they're right. When Clinton makes LBJ-like arguments about the importance of pairing social activism with political leverage, she is telling unlovely truths. But here it's worth noting that for all the hyperventilating over Sanders's self-identification as a socialist, he's been a relatively effective and pragmatic legislator. " Plus the fact that he inspires a lot more desire for activism than Clinton does. And: "But Sanders and Clinton do have significant disagreements over regulatory and foreign policy, and as president either of them would have tremendous power to influence both. This is Sanders's strongest non-idealized appeal to progressives: He would appoint tougher regulators and conduct a more cautious, dovish foreign policy than Clinton. Here his anti-establishment bonafides would pay concrete, rather than symbolic, dividends. Wall Street has genuinely more to fear from Sanders than from Clinton. Sanders would be less likely to invade a foreign country than Clinton, and would draw brighter red lines in trade negotiations with other governments. Clinton's grasp of regulatory and foreign policy is genuinely impressive. In each of the Democratic debates this cycle, Sanders has looked out of his depth by comparison. But presidents don't micromanage federal agencies, and they aren't full-time diplomats. Their values and vision shape policy in these realms more than wonkish insistence on this strategy or that measure. Sanders, ironically, talks less about the importance principles play in securing administrative success than Clinton does. But in a party that has become increasingly dovish and alarmed by increasing concentrations of income and wealth, he would have a strong claim to being a safer bet than Clinton - if he were to ever push the point."

TX Grand Jury Indicts David Daleiden, Clears Planned Parenthood (Updated): A Houston Grand Jury investigating the bogus Planned Parenthood videos has returned a surprising and gratifying result. According to Houston Public Media, the grand jury declined to indict Planned Parenthood after concluding a two-month investigation into their conduct. Instead, they indicted David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the videographers who infiltrated Planned Parenthood with the intent to smear them."

By popular demand, "The heroic professor who helped uncover the Flint lead water crisis has been asked to fix it: In Flint, Mich., there is a famous block of concrete that for decades has served as a community message board. Like an old-school Facebook feed, residents use it to post personal news, images, upcoming events and commentary in sprawling graffiti. This week, several residents went to 'The Block' (or 'The Rock,' depending on whom you ask) with a message. In big, black capital letters they painted: 'YOU WANT OUR TRUST?? WE WANT VA Tech!!!' Underneath they wrote 'PSI' and circled it in red with a line through it. It stands for Professional Service Industries Inc., the independent business the city had wanted to hire to test its water for contamination, and which the residents don't trust. They want Marc Edwards. And now, they're getting him. On Wednesday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced that he was appointing Edwards to the newly created 'Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee,' tasked with finding a long-term strategy to address the water crisis. The 17-person team of experts will have three years to report their recommendations.
* "Outrage: House Republicans Call Everyone BUT Gov. Snyder for Flint Poisoning Hearing: After intense public pressure, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has finally agreed to hold a congressional hearing this February 3rd to address the Flint water crisis. Incredibly, Governor Rick Snyder will not be required to testify."
* ": So, let's first point out that there's already a lawsuit underway related to the Flint water crisis. Three, in fact. A group of Michigan lawyers are suing the state of Michigan, local governments and state and local officials seeking damages for health problems they claim are caused by lead-tainted water piped into Flint residents' homes for the past 18 months. Many state officials' emails and messages related to Flint, including Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder's (R), have been subpoenaed. But as Reuters' Brendan Pierson reported Monday, some of the nation's top environmental lawyers are hesitant to join in. And with good reason, says University of Michigan law professor Gil Seinfeld. It basically comes down to this: In America, it is very difficult to sue the government and officials for money. In fact, the Supreme Court has (controversially) decided that the Constitution prohibits suits of this sort against the states." It's called "sovereign immunity", which doesn't really make sense in the United States.
* Michael Moore: "10 Things They Won't Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy. But I Will."
* Pierce: "Okay, Somebody Should Go to Jail Over the Flint Water Crisis: I am now of the Michael Moore persuasion. "
* "300 Union Plumbers Spent The Weekend Installing Water Filters For Flint Residents For Free"

"Michigan House Passed Bill Allowing EMTs To Refuse Treatment To Gay People: Over the weekend, Republicans in the Michigan Statehouse passed a 'license to discriminate' bill that would give just about anyone the right to refuse service to LGBT people if it conflicted with their religious beliefs."

"Court rules Michigan has no responsibility to provide quality public education: In a blow to schoolchildren statewide, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on Nov. 7 the State of Michigan has no legal obligation to provide a quality public education to students in the struggling Highland Park School District. A 2-1 decision reversed an earlier circuit court ruling that there is a 'broad compelling state interest in the provision of an education to all children.' The appellate court said the state has no constitutional requirement to ensure schoolchildren actually learn fundamental skills such as reading - but rather is obligated only to establish and finance a public education system, regardless of quality."

"This poll is very, very bad news for Rahm Emanuel: More than two months after the graphic dashcam video of a Chicago police officer shooting and killing a black 17-year-old was released, a new Chicago Tribune poll found a whopping 83 percent of Chicagoans don't believe their mayor is telling them the truth about what he knew and when."

"Why Prosecutors Don't Target Thieving CEOs: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren issued a stinging broadside against federal prosecutors on Friday, charging U.S. courts with throwing the book at mixed-up teenagers, while letting wealthy corporate executives who commit much larger and sometimes deadly crimes off with essentially no chance of punishment."

Gerrymandering Is Even More Infuriating When You Can Actually See It

Bill Black and friends invite candidates to pledge to eliminate crony capitalism and control fraud in the first 60 days, because they can: Announcing the Bank Whistleblowers' Group's Initial Proposals

Mad Cop Disease: "'I Can't Breathe': Leaked Police Cam Shows Handcuffed Oakland Man Screaming for Help Until He Dies"

For the record: The US Government charges $1.35 per animal to graze cattle on federal lands, according to The Bureau of Land Management. The market price is over $20. So these guys are getting a massive discount and still whining about wanting, well, "free stuff".

What Happened to Jane Mayer When She Wrote About the Koch Brothers

"The Cop: Darren Wilson was not indicted for shooting Michael Brown. Many people question whether justice was done." This is a profile of Wilson, who now can't get a job as a cop because he's too high-profile, but he's not what you might think.

"The Opposite Of Addiction Is Not Sobriety - It Is Human Connection." One hundred years of drug war sold on a false theory of addiction.

RIP
* Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner dies at 74, of multiple organ failure. I've always thought he wrote something beautiful with "Today," and always been baffled that he lifted the lyrics to "Crown of Creation" wholesale out of a Wyndham novel (with a slight change of pronouns) without any credit at all.
* Detective Fish, for real this time: "Abe Vigoda, of 'Godfather' and 'Barney Miller,' Dies at 94"
* "Michael J. Kennedy, Lawyer for Underdogs and Pariahs, Dies at 78 [...] A steadfast defender of the underdog and the First Amendment, Mr. Kennedy represented radicals including Rennie Davis, Bernardine Dohrn and Mr. [Huey P.] Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party. His clients also included the Native American protesters at Wounded Knee, S.D., the family of the rogue real estate heir Robert A. Durst; Mr. Leary, the LSD guru; and Mr. Gotti, the mob boss."

Science to the rescue! "Chocolate cake breakfast could help you lose weight: Eating chocolate cake as part of a full breakfast can help you lose weight, say scientists."

"Why Are Americans Ignoring Trevor Noah? This crazy campaign should be his coming-out party. Instead, it's our first election since 2000 where The Daily Show might as well not exist." Sounds like Trevor Noah is no Jon Stewart.

I have tried to explain this to people, that no, pornography doesn't desensitize men to women, but rather desensitizes them to fetishizing women's bodies. There's a big difference. So I was rather pleased to see this article: "Men Aren't Hard Wired To Find Breasts Arousing."

I missed this last May: "Easter Island Statues With Bodies - Who Knew?" I didn't, although apparently this was revealed back in the '50s. Oh, wait, I wasn't reading the newspapers then.

Smashing photo of the Flatiron Building in the snow

"Wooden Ships", Crosby, Stills & Nash, featuring Paul Kantner - 11/26/1989 - Cow Palace

Volunteers

18:38 GMT comment


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

What is past is prologue

NBC News-YouTube Democratic Debate video

"Its Official: Mainstream Media Declares Bernie Sanders Winner of Debate."

"Elizabeth Warren Sinks Clinton's Hopes for Endorsement: In a speech before the Senate Thursday, on the sixth anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, Elizabeth Warren made clear -- for those with ears to hear -- that she will not endorse Hillary Clinton." She said: "A new presidential election is upon us. The first votes will be cast in Iowa in just eleven days. Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard has crawled into bed with the billionaires who want to run this country like some private club."

Hilary expressed outrage over the poisoning of Flint's water, which is good, but it's not clear she is correct that it has been swept under the carpet merely because the victims are largely poor and black. David Dayen on Twitter: "#PorterRanch is a collection of gated communities sickened by a gas leak for close to 3 months. Nobody "came running" to fix it #DemDebate" He's not wrong, and he talked about that, and about the comparison between Sanders and Clinton on financial regulation, on last week's Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Sanders releases universal healthcare plan before Democratic debate
* "Sanders vows to fulfill MLK's legacy in Alabama: 'We still have a long way to go'."

This is interesting - right-wingers funding a lefty-sounding ad against Clinton: "Wall Street-Funded Super PAC Airs New Iowa Ad Slamming Hillary Clinton's Ties to Wall Street." Oh, but is this Karl Rove's hand?

"Bernie Sanders Has One Pro-Wall Street Vote" - or does he? "This was an era in which voting against funding the federal government was considered a major governance faux pas. The bill sailed through both chambers of Congress, with few lawmakers even aware of the major new deregulatory changes."
* Robert Scheer: "Hillary Blames Bernie for an Old Clintonite Hustle, and That's a Rotten Shame."

I do have problems with the amount of control the states have over Medicare/Medicaid. I also think Medicare is pretty weak tea compared to the NHS, and I'd like to see the medical industry brought to heel rather than simply promising to cover their outrageous costs. So I understand what Karoli is saying in, "Sanders Defends His Single Payer Health Care Proposal But Questions Linger." No, wait, I don't, because this piece still accepts the frame Clinton has put it in, including the idea that letting the states have any control is not the present situation under Obamacare. Clinton is not proposing to solve any of these problems, she's just pretending that she wants to. And I don't understand this idea that somehow Hillary Clinton's "pragmatic" approach is more possible. We need to elect a Congress that will pass an improved plan before we can do anything. I can't imagine the current Congress doing it and I don't see Clinton as the one who has the vision or the coat-tails to do it. In fact, the "centrist" Dems have been consistently sabotaging any attempt to get real liberal progressives into Congress. So, no, nothing floats until someone fixes the Democratic Party. And that means getting rid of the DLC, not re-electing it. Ezra is more honest over at Vox with "Hillary Clinton doesn't trust you [...] "Here, again, Clinton knows better. Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program - which she helped create - and Obamacare are already administered by the states and already rely on state funding. Sanders's plan would reduce the share of contributions states are responsible for and provide a federal fallback that doesn't currently exist if states refuse to participate in those programs. [...] All this, though, is Clinton's attempt to obscure the big picture: Sanders supports a single-payer health care system, and she doesn't. The technical arguments she's making about past legislation he's proposed could all be addressed if the bills moved forward. That's not the real disagreement between Clinton and Sanders. The real disagreement is he thinks we should move forward on single-payer, and she doesn't."
* "Hillary Clinton's absurd Bernie smear: Why attacking him from the right on healthcare makes literally no sense at all."
* Dean Baker, "Paul Krugman, Bernie Sanders and Medicare for All"

This number proves Bernie Sanders can win Iowa [...] The 43 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers who self-identify as socialist is actually more than the number who identify themselves as capitalist - 38 percent."
* Nate Silver still doesn't think it's gonna happen, though.

"Human Rights Campaign Endorsement of Clinton Sparks Huge Controversy." Could it be because the current head of HRC once used to work for Bill Clinton's White House? It certainly can't be based on Clinton's superior record on the issue. And it wasn't based on a vote in the organization, because there wasn't one. Bernie Sanders answered Rachel Maddow's question about it by referring to the leadership of these organizations as "establishment" - which, of course, is true, because you can't hang around Washington lobbying Democratic bigwigs without becoming part of the political establishment. But that doesn't mean the membership of your organization is "the establishment". The establishment is a small collection of individuals, not the mass of underprivileged groups they purport to represent.

In a week when Ms. Palin made a word-salad speech endorsing Donald Trump that left many agape with its sheer incoherence, the dumbest entry still has to be this: "INDISPUTABLE: Bernie Is the Establishment, Hillary and Planned Parenthood are the Anti-Establishment", by Peter Daou. Now, I like Peter, even though I know he is a long-time Hillary partisan who has worked with her and thinks very highly of her, but this really takes the biscuit. "Bernie Sanders is a white male who has been in Congress for over a quarter century - his views notwithstanding, he is the definition of the establishment. Hillary Clinton is a woman attempting to break the ultimate gender barrier, the first female to become President of the United States - she is the definition of the anti-establishment." And, sorry, but when the head of an organization who spends a lot of time lobbying in Washington suddenly uses the prestige of their formerly non-partisan organization to endorse a political candidate they happen to have personal ties to, that's the establishment's network in action. When someone who used to work in the Clinton White House suddenly announces, without any consultation with the membership, that the gay rights organization they now head is endorsing Clinton, even though Sanders is demonstrably better on gay issues, that's the establishment network in action. Pretending that Bernie Sanders is more establishment than a multimillionaire former Senator and former Secretary of State who hob-nobs with the very people who have sucked the life out of our economy and still run it is like claiming that the miners who lost their livelihoods under Margaret Thatcher were more "establishment" than Thatcher was. It's just crazy. But I guess that's the kind of thing Blue Nation Review is suddenly posting now that it was bought out last month by a Hillary partisan. The radical change in its headlines from last month to this is downright scary.
* Also on David Brock's plate: "Correct the record doesn't want to be quoted when offering Anti-Sanders oppo research" - We all know David Brock is a Clinton partisan, but he doesn't want the public to know he does anti-Sanders oppo research and tries to slip it to the press without being named as a source.

Lee Fang asked Clinton if she'd release the transcripts of her Goldman Sachs speeches. She laughed.

The big guns are coming out:
* Ta-Nahesi Coates, "Why Precisely Is Bernie Sanders Against Reparations?" A better question might be, "Why doesn't anyone ask Hillary Clinton if she supports reparations?" Well, because they know the answer would be a nuanced version of, "No." Benjamin Dixon smells a rat, and Killer Mike is is on the same page. Chris Hayes talked to Coates, and I'm curious about why the Sanders campaign didn't respond to his queries. But it's clear that there's a difference between advocating policies that the current Congress won't pass (but another might) that have massive support from the public, on the one hand, and advocating policies that have limited support from the public that even a comparatively liberal Congress still wouldn't pass, on the other. Reparations isn't even a priority for the black community and is pretty unpopular with the public. This is not an issue you build mass solidarity on, especially at a time when half the white population feels that they, too, have had their resources ripped out from under them and they are practically slaves themselves. The latter concerns everyone, but reparations targets only a specific slice of the population. Bernie Sanders isn't actually campaigning for pie-in-the-sky, he's campaigning to do things we've already done before and can do again that the public has always supported, or things that have already succeeded in other countries that the American public massively supports. He's putting these issues on the table and reminding us that there is no earthly reason why we couldn't or shouldn't do them, and that we need to do them if we are going to go back to having the kind of country we all want. The kind of country in which, by the way, the black community's wealth grew enormously after the inception of the New Deal, and the rate of murder of blacks by the police dropped radically. That country was on a path to real equality for black people, but it was also on a path to making life reasonable for pretty much everyone.
* Paul Street, in "Race Without Class: the 'Bougie' Sensibility of Ta-Nehisi Coates," reminds us that Coates is essentially a neoliberal, however good a writer he may be, and he doesn't get the relationship of class to race nor the problems that hurt us all. "The 'satisfaction of thinking you are somebody because you are white' has always been a terrible lie. It has helped cloak white workers' subordinate and expendable status, which never disappeared despite the very real if limited advantages white skin privilege has conferred them relative to non-whites. It has injured those workers' material status by undermining their capacity to enhance their economic and political power by joining in solidarity with nonwhite workers. It has too often joined them in allegiance to rich fellow whites who couldn't care less about working class people of any color. It has focused white workers' ire on the wrong enemies - those with the least power (non-white workers and the poor) instead of the moneyed elite, which wields its wealth and power to cripple and destroy lives and the common good. And it has (along with numerous other the related reactionary messages in the reigning American ideology) encouraged white workers to blame themselves as well as even less privileged people of color for their own difficult circumstances under the remorseless reign of capital. 'Privileged' people are supposed to be doing well, after all. If they're not, it must be their own fault. Hence the rising death rates of working class white males, driven largely by alcoholism, drug abuse, and gun suicide. Hence also the popularity of 'The [white racist-sexist-nationalist] Donald' with millions of angry and marginalized white male 'Trumpenproletarians.'"

David Dayen: "What the Liberal Attacks on Bernie Sanders Are Really About: Self-styled liberal wonks and opinion writers decided to turn their guns on Bernie Sanders this week, deriding him as myopic, unrealistic and even wrong on the merits of his arguments on behalf of single-payer healthcare and systemic financial reform. But at least on financial reform, they weren't actually attacking Bernie. They were attacking Elizabeth Warren. It's Warren, not Sanders, who represents the leftward pole in the intra-Democratic debate over how deeply to reform the financial sector. Warren, not Sanders, manifests part of her vision in the bill she wrote - the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, named for the two Depression-era lawmakers who initially separated commercial and investment banking. When Hillary Clinton and her supporters in the media dismiss Glass-Steagall as unnecessary and dangerous, they dismiss a consensus in most developed nations about the need to break interconnections in finance. The radicals in this debate, in other words, are those protecting the deregulatory status quo."

Cory Robin is getting irritated: "Bile, Bullshit, and Bernie: Sixteen notes on the presidential campaign: This is becoming a straight-up rerun of the 1948 campaign against Henry Wallace. Except that Clinton is running well to the right of Truman and even, in some respects, Dewey. It seems as if Clinton is campaigning for the vote of my Grandpa Nat. There's only one problem with this strategy: he's been dead for nearly a quarter-century. As was true of McCarthyism, it's not really Sanders's communism or his socialism that has got today's McCarthyites in the Democratic Party worried; it's actually his liberalism."

Pierce: "We Haven't Scratched the Surface of What Bernie Is Capable Of. [...] Meanwhile, Sanders punches up at the elites that, frankly, have more power in our politics than he does, or than you do, or than any politician does. He tells his audiences that he can't do it alone, that the money power has grown too great for any one person to combat. He needs them more than they need him. He is not Napoleon, he is a democratic politician. And that makes all the difference and that's why the "populist anger" narrative is a shuck."
* "Friends say Bernie isn't electable? Robert Reich offers guide of 6 perfect comebacks for Sanders' skeptics."
* Bernie Sanders Campaign Political Ad - America

Meanwhile, a curious thing: "Hillary is no lock in Nevada either: Bernie threatens to steal another key primary." Interestingly, the union that represents the most black and Latino voters has decided not to endorse a candidate.

"The Head of the Democratic Party Is Either a Failure or a Liar: Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said today that the Democrats' 2016 presidential debates were scheduled to reach the largest audience possible." She has to be an idiot. If she didn't know beforehand that Saturday nights opposite major sporting events during the busiest parts of the Christmas season were stupid times to schedule the debates, she certainly must have noticed everyone pointing it out as soon as we saw the schedule, so even if she was stupid enough to think those were good nights to schedule, why would she say such a thing in public after she managed to garner the lowest viewership conceivable?

"Meet Debbie Wasserman Schultz's First-Ever Primary Challenger: Tim Canova" - The DNC chair's new opponent is interviewed by Glenn Greenwald: "I am a lawyer by training. I studied at Georgetown University, and then was a Swedish Institute visiting scholar at the University of Stockholm. I practiced law in Manhattan for a large firm for a few years, and then went into teaching, and really my entire legal career was animated by the study of, you can say, making our institutions more democratically accountable. The thesis I wrote as a Swedish Institute visiting scholar was a comparison of Swedish and American labor law and corporate law, and comparing how in Sweden and in other European countries, labor had a seat at the table. Fifty percent of the board members were labor. And in the United States, labor doesn't have a seat at the table. They get run over. So that is the orientation - more democracy - that has animated me throughout my career. I served on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide to the late U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas in the early 1980s. A lot of this is on my campaign website, on the About Tim page - that I was an opponent of financial deregulation very early. I was writing in the early 1980s that the Garn-St. Germain Act, deregulation of depository interest rates and lending standards, would be a disaster, that it was a repeat of what had happened in the 1920s. It opened the door to predatory lending and sub-prime mortgages. I was calling that decades before that actually came to a crisis stage, you could say. In the 1990s, both as a lawyer and as a law professor, I was warning against getting rid of Glass-Steagall - Brooklyn Law Review article in the mid 1990s, 1995. I warned against financial derivatives. So I've been a constant critic of Wall Street deregulation. I'm for Main Street; I always have been. I believe in the New Deal. I believe in bottom-up economics."

"WFSE/AFSCME Endorses Sanders for Democratic Nomination for President: The Executive Board of the Washington Federation of State Employees/AFSCME Council 28 on Sunday (Jan. 10) adopted a motion to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) for the nomination of the Democratic Party for U.S. president. The national union, AFSCME, endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in October but grassroots support for Sanders has always been high amongst Federation members and Sunday's action reflects the homegrown perspectives."
* "Bernie Sanders Has The Most Effective Political Ads On TV"

"170 Economists Endorse Bernie Sanders' Plan To Reform Wall St. And Rein In Greed."

I guess it shouldn't surprise me to learn that Jesse Ventura and Henry Rollins feel the Bern.

"Liberals No Longer Amused By Bernie Sanders' Presidential Campaign. He doesn't actually mean "liberals", he means the Democratic establishment, but anyway: "Those in power expect liberals to police others on the left who would threaten their supremacy. So, when a political elite such as Clinton is faced with a formidable opponent, liberal pundits wittingly or unwittingly devise arguments for why Americans should vote against their interests and support someone who would likely manage government in a manner suitable for the corporate state." The arguments against Sanders amount to smears, a campaign of despair, and red-baiting. Speaking of which, I liked the headline Weldon Berger put on this one when he linked it on Facebook: "Stalwart Democrat frets that Sanders will lose the election when Republicans tar him as a commie, bravely goes there first."
* Speaking of red-baiting, David Brock is there, too: "Sanders smeared as communist sympathiser as Clinton allies sling mud."

Bill Black, "Wall Street Declares War on Bernie Sanders [...] Why do the Wall Street billionaires hate Bernie? Paul Krugman, unintentionally, provided the key in his most recent attack on Bernie. Krugman claimed that the key to what he claimed was President Obama's success was not 'breaking' 'Wall Street's power' over our economy and democracy. To Krugman and Hillary's horror, however, Democratic voters, like the median U.S. voter, understand that breaking the paramount power of the Wall Street billionaires over our economy and its political power that has caused us to descend into crony capitalism is essential to take back our Nation."

Paul Rosenberg has a great piece in Salon on "The truth about Flint: Kids drank poisoned water because of the GOP's radical, anti-democratic 'reforms': This nightmare happened because of deeply undemocratic steps taken after the GOP gerrymandered a blue state "
* "State of Michigan, Gov. Snyder sued in class action lawsuit over Flint water crisis." He belongs in jail, and so does his emergency manager.
* "Desperate MI Governor Tries Claiming Flint Poisoning Was 'Natural Disaster', Obama Slaps Him Down"
* But could it be even worse than it already seems? What if this wasn't done just to save the city money?

State politicians everywhere are more dangerous than people realize until it's too late: "Senate pushes to eliminate health retirement benefits for North Carolina's teachers and state employees."

Glennzilla: "The Seven Stages of Establishment Backlash: Corbyn/Sanders Edition"

Republican surprise of the week: "Mitt Romney: 'I think we're nuts not to raise the minimum wage.'"

"Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits a Potential White House Run" - if Sanders wins the nomination.
* Howie Klein thinks an indy run by Bloomberg would make the Clinton people happy and give them somewhere to go if Sanders is the nominee.

"Justice Ginsburg Hands Surprise Victory To Consumers Over Big Business" - This was actually a question of whether a class action could go forward, but the truly fascinating thing is that, though Roberts, Scalia, and Alito dissented, Thomas did not.

"Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons: President Obama on Monday announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences."

Obama gave his last State of the Union Address, and spent a little time making up stories about how wonderful TPP is, but we all know they're not true: "The Deeper, Uglier Side of TPP"

"Obama Administration Enables Billionaire Takeover of US Public Schools: With the Walton billionaires doubling down in their efforts to accelerate the charter school industry and with the Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, throwing in $100 million to privatize traditional public schools, one might think that the U.S. Department of Education would be a major line of defense for America's public schools educating the most underserved students or even a bold investor in sustainable community schools that are truly public. One would be wrong."

"With Inequality Rising, Billionaire Steve Schwarzman Expresses Surprise That American Voters Are Unhappy." Mind you, this is the guy who can't tell the difference between taxing billionaires and invading Poland.

"What $15 an Hour Looks Like: In July, Emeryville, California, passed the highest city-wide minimum wage in the country. Here's how workers' lives changed - and didn't." You know it should be $21, don't you?

"Reefer madness debunked as major UK study finds marijuana does not reduce IQ in teens."

"U.S. Radically Changes Its Story of the Boats in Iranian Waters: to an Even More Suspicious Version [...] So, to recap the U.S. media narrative: when the U.S. Navy enters Iran's territorial waters without permission or notice, and Iran detains them and then releases them within 24 hours, Iran is the aggressor; and the same is true when Iran aggressively allows one of its civilian jets to be shot down by the U.S. Navy. And no matter how many times the U.S. government issues patently false statements about its military actions, those statements are entitled to unquestioning, uncritical treatment as Truth the next time a similar incident occurs."

Alberta fracking operation closed indefinitely after triggering 4.8 earthquake.

Britain's only publicly owned railway delivered record performance for passengers before Tory sell-off: "East Coast Mainline had been placed in state ownership after previous privatisation deals collapsed but was flogged off again despite its outstanding performance "

"You're not hallucinating, MPs really did pass crazy bad drug law."

Monsanto Buys Up Heirloom Seed Suppliers

"Opus Dei: Neofascism Within the Catholic Church"
* "Is the Left Prepared for the Right's Terrorism?"

Billy Bragg made this observation in his FaceBook post on the death of Alan Rickman: "It's not only the timing of his death and the fact that he too was 69 that links him to David Bowie. Both were working class kids from council estates who went to art school where they gained enough confidence in their own creativity that they were able to go on to find fame and fortune. Is it still possible for working class kids to realise their potential in such a way? The art schools are almost gone, those that survive now charge a fortune. The social mobility that Rickman and Bowie experienced is increasingly stifled."

"ATVOD Has Closed. Now What?" Its attacks on the British porn industry, and on the internet, won't stop. "Now that Ofcom has taken the reins, we can expect to see the regulator lobbying for more censorship powers against 'unacceptable' overseas content - which doubtless will go far broader than pornography. Currently, a private members bill to enable censorship is in progress through Parliament. Like previous non-government attempts, this will probably fail, but we should watch out for the contents of the Queen's Speech this Spring. Any mention of 'online safety' or 'protecting children online' will herald the impending end of free Internet access for British citizens."

RIP Tor Books Senior Editor, David G. Hartwell, 1941-2016. And, among other things, the wearer of outrageous clashing colors and hilarious ties who would always go along with a sartorial joke, and had a hand in nurturing some of the most important authors and editors and other publishing geniuses in science fiction. Memory is flooded with images of joking around with him, his smile, and serious conversations as well. At my first worldcon, he turned me on to Frangelico, so naturally I poured some in his honor when I first heard the news that he was alive but not expected to survive. He was special to many of us, and I could go on at length about what he meant to me, but Patrick also had a close professional association and wrote this. There are more like that all over the net, our family is in mourning. And Kathryn Cramer, his wife, wrote this. And George R.R. Martin says good-bye.
* Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey, 67, dies. I had enormous respect for their compositional and harmonic skills, always spot-on emotionally, and smarter than they might have seemed to some.
* "Dallas Taylor dies at 66; drummer for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young." Also of Clear Light and sessions work. Seems young until you think about how badly he treated himself. I mean, Keith Moon told him he did "too much drugs". Keith Moon!
* Dale Griffin, drummer for Mott the Hoople, 67 - Their most noted tune was one David Bowie gave them, "All The Young Dudes".
* Giorgio Gomelsky, jazz club founder who gave The Rolling Stones and The Yardbirds their start, at 81 (although the Telegraph decided to headline him at 82, which wouldn't have happened until February).
* Robert Stigwood, music producer of almost everyone, 81: "In short, he was the man who put Cream together, launching Eric Clapton's career on the big stage; he discovered the Bee Gees and shepherded them through the highest points of their career; and he produced numerous iconic stage and film musicals, including Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Grease and Saturday Night Fever."

What a real soldier had to say about the clown protest: "Refuge of Scoundrels [...] If the Founding Fathers had depended for their independence on the various irregular militias, they surely would have all been hanged - separately and together. Those men, those men who led the Continental Army and fought for our freedom, those men knew exactly what they were doing when they included the words 'well-regulated militia' in the Second Amendment. And they for damned sure weren't talking about giving Americans the right to shoot down their own government - because those Founders were the government."

"Hillary Clinton Isn't a Lesbian - but She Dresses Like One." Kudos, even though it's Slate, because this is the territory I never did figure out how to navigate back in the days when I worked in - well, anywhere.

Interview with Marcy Wheeler, The NSA's Worst Nightmare

"What the Vanilla ISIS Crisis in Oregon Says About the History of Wage Labor [...] The thing that is, again, never taught or said is that most English peasants wanted land and not a wage, which was too low to adequately sustain them. The wage system also deprived them of free time (the war on Christian holidays was not started by atheistic liberals but by the big bosses of farms and factories). Subsistence farming, foraging, and hunting provided rural peasants with more than they needed. Wage labor did not, and as a consequence, the state, which supported the interest of capitalists, had to impose laws that banned hunting (game laws) and made domestic production nearly impossible (enclosures). The English transition to capitalism did not need slave labor because wages for landless peasants were very low. But in the New World, the United States, the situation was different. There was lots of land to be had, and so wages were very high, and it was almost impossible to keep white workers in factories, fields, or other market-related enterprises. As soon as they made enough money, they left and bought land and become independent. And it is here that we find the roots of American individualism; it's not in entrepreneurship but in revolt: White American individuals were fleeing the market-centered system. They wanted out. And the best way out was land, which provided the things that the market provided but for much less work and demands on personal space and time."

"Most Of The Radical Ideas The Black Panthers Had Are Now Totally Mainstream."

"Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did."

The U.K. National Health Service Act of 1946: "The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care act signed into law by President Obama in late March is a complicated bill that overhauls the nation's health care system over a period of five years. It sometimes is mentioned in the same breath with the United Kingdom's National Health Service Act of 1946 which set up that country's government-run health-care system. But that law was a paragon of succinctness, occupying only 92 pamphlet pages. Here (in three parts in Adobe Acrobat PDF format) is Britain's National Health Service Act of 1946"

"Woody Guthrie Despised His Landlord - Donald Trump's Racist Father."

"David Bowie, rock star groupies and the sexually adventurous '70s: 'Labeling us as victims in retrospect is not a very conscious thing to do'."

"The Doctor Is Not In: BBC Delays Season 10 Of Doctor Who Until 2017."

You know, I had completely forgotten who played Scum of the Earth in the WKRP Episode "Hoodlum Rock".

"Victorian London in Incredible Detail: Here's a real treat. The National Library of Scotland's Map Department, supported by David Rumsey, have taken some very high-resolution scans of the Ordnance Survey 1893-6 1:1056 (that's 60 inches to the mile!) set of 500+ maps of London and, crucially, reorientated and stitched them together, so that they can be presented seamlessly (using OpenLayers) on top of a 'standard' Google web map or OpenStreetMap, with the base map acting as a modern context."

"David Bowie Tribute: Starman Gets His Own Constellation."
* "Did You Know STAR TREK's Dr. Crusher Choreographed the Goblins in LABYRINTH?"

Ronan Murray, the organist at St. Joseph's in Glasthule, Dublin, performs "Life on Mars" on the church's organ.
* Clip of Chris Nickol's performance of "Life on Mars" on the 115-year-old organ in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum,

Six Into One: Seldom seen doc on Patrick McGoohan's cult TV classic The Prisoner

Classical Music Mashup knitted together by Grant Woolard, with visual aids. Quite a lot of fun.

Darlene McBride - Take Back America Tour
* Lewis Black on NY versus TX

16:10 GMT comment


Friday, 15 January 2016

Just for one day

I know we're all supposed to be fixed on the right-wing clown protest of a wildlife preserve, but everyone's already seen the story about how one of them took the money and drank it all up,* and the only other story I saw that truly entertained me was the one about the old man who took one of them down with his leg after the guy annoyed him.

"The Top 5 Reasons MoveOn Members Voted to Endorse Bernie (with the Most Votes and Widest Margin in Our History)"
* The interesting thing about this article isn't that it's in the HuffPo, and isn't that it says, "The Impossible Could Be A Real Contender In 2016," but that it's written by Howard Fineman.
* Tommy Chong gets out there for Bernie - because he wants to legalize "a real living wage".
* Even Booman reckons that Bernie has a real chance if he can win the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire and if the polls continue to say that Bernie fares better than Clinton in the general election. Current polls show Sanders running a few points ahead in NH and in Iowa, but only Sanders beating the top three Republicans in the general in those states, while Clinton only beats Trump (and not by nearly as much). Print out copies of the January 10th polling entry to show your local friends and relatives who keep insisting that Clinton is "more electable", since that seems to be one of their big arguments. True, the Republicans haven't really started going after Bernie yet, but since all they seem to have is "Socialist! He wants to raise your taxes!" this is a lot less convincing with some fairly simple push-back by people who can point out that "democratic socialism" (or socialism in general) is nothing like Soviet communism, and that it's more American than apple pie, what with being pretty much spelled out in the Preamble to the Constitution and all. And that Bernie wants you to have more money in your pocket at the end of the month.
* CNN has "Biden praises Sanders on income inequality, calls Clinton 'relatively new' to the fight," and at The Hill, "Biden: Clinton 'relatively new' to income inequality issue."
* "Bernie Sanders Is a Loud, Stubborn Socialist. Republicans Like Him Anyway."

Chelsea Clinton goes out scamming on Medicare for All for her mom: "'Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the CHIP program, dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance,' she said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire. 'I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we'll go back to an era -- before we had the Affordable Care Act -- that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.'" Wait, I've heard this before, and it was a lie then, too.
* "'Fighting Dirty,' Clinton's 'Inflammatory Distortion' of Sanders' Single-Payer Plan"
* "Nurses Blast Clinton Attack on Healthcare for All."

"Howard Dean, Now Employed by Health Care Lobby Firm, Opposes Bernie Sanders on Single-Payer."

Ian Welsh's 2015 in review: "The real dangers in the world are increasing. For the first world, this doesn't mean 'Islamic Terrorism,' which has never been an existential threat; it means political and economic instability at home. The people one should fear most are almost always one's own leaders, both political and economic, rather than foreigners, and this remains true."

And it's nice to see Thomas Frank finally saying what I've been saying for years: "It's not just Fox News: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street: Center-left pundits have carried water for the president for six years. Their predictable excuses all ring hollow. As the Obama administration enters its seventh year, let us examine one of the era's greatest peculiarities: That one of the most cherished rallying points of the president's supporters is the idea of the president's powerlessness."

"The DNC Junta Is Continuing the Democratic Leadership Council Coup"

"There Is A Bipartisan Refusal to Accept Obama's Push For TPP."

David Dayen: "Hillary Clinton Whiffs on Reforming Wall Street's Ratings Agencies: Hillary Clinton's response to Bernie Sanders' plan to aggressively break up the big banks responsible for the financial crisis is to suggest that he is naive. 'My plan also goes beyond the biggest banks to include the whole financial sector,' Clinton wrote in a New York Times op-ed in December. 'My plan is more comprehensive,' she said at the first Democratic debate in October - and for that reason, 'frankly, it's tougher.' But Clinton's vision of financial reform neglects one part of the industry everyone agrees was an essential factor in the 2008 crisis: the credit ratings agencies, which assess the worthiness of Wall Street securities for investors. Sanders' plan, released last week, would no longer allow the companies that issue securities to pick which ratings agency they use - a simple but outrageous practice that creates an enormous conflict of interest and helps facilitate fraud. The heart of Clinton's pitch on Wall Street is that she recognizes all potential hazards. But there is not one word in her big reform plan about the ratings agencies."

"ObamaCare's Neoliberal Intellectual Foundations Continue to Crumble" - Basically, the theory that's supposed to make Obama care "work" doesn't work, unless of course the real theory is something else.

"DNC chairwoman flippantly defends her support for war on drugs: In a recent interview with Ana Marie Cox in the New York Times Magazine, Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz admitted her 'criminal-justice record is perhaps not as progressive' as the records of some of her progressive colleagues. Wasserman Schultz was asked during the interview about her status as 'one of a dwindling number of progressive politicians who oppose legalization of even the medical use of marijuana.' Her response was frankly a word salad of tired drug war cliches - the same ones that have fueled mass incarceration for decades."
* "DNC chair: Young women have been complacent since Roe. Young women: WTF?" Stupid woman. Who do you think has been fighting for reproductive rights while the "centrists" have been shushing the older women who've just gotten tired of having to fight Democrats on the subject?
* "Debbie Wasserman Schultz Blames Voters for Failures of Democratic Party."
* Pierce: "Update: Debbie Wasserman Schultz Is Still Head of the DNC."
* Controversial DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz To Face Progressive Tim Canova In An August Primary.

"Lawyers Went to Rahm Emanuel, Then Quashed the Laquan McDonald Video: The mayor's men demanded that dash-cam video be kept confidential for at least several years as part of a $5 million settlement with the teenager's family."

Elizabeth Warren And Chuck Schumer Will Have To Co-Exist
* VA-09 Congressional Primary Pits A Bernie County Chairman Against The Hillary Backer Who Loves Japanese Internment Camps

Pierce: "Joe Lieberman's 'No Labels' Group Has Labeled Donald Trump a 'Problem Solver'."

David Dayen, "The Problem With Hillary Clinton Using a Progressive Hero to Attack Bernie Sanders" The problem is that it neuters Gensler, silences him, because as part of the Clinton campaign he can't object to things he used to object to that Clinton herself seems unconcerned with. "When asked for Gensler's views on Massad's tenure and whether a hypothetical Clinton administration would prioritize restoring stronger derivatives rules, the campaign declined to comment. Gensler's comments about Sanders repeatedly attacked him for failing to consider the shadow banking system: the collection of financial institutions whose activities sit outside the regulatory perimeter. But after two years of CFTC give-backs, much of the derivatives market sits in the shadows as well. On this point Gensler and Clinton have said little, and the silence speaks volumes."

"Massive Online Backlash After Planned Parenthood Endorses Hillary Clinton." This seems like a bad move, since they have never done this before. Hm, maybe this is why.

"This Supreme Court Case Could Make All Public Unions 'Right to Work': The legal foundations of thousands of public-sector bargaining agreements could soon disappear."

Ryan Cooper in The Week: "How Michigan literally poisoned an entire city to save a few bucks [...] Why on Earth did they do this? Austerity. Aside from the obvious humanitarian disaster, this is a stark demonstration of austerity's false economy. Trying to be cheap on Flint's water supply will end up costing the state of Michigan (and probably the country as a whole) a ton more money than it would have to fix it properly in the first place."
* "Michael Moore Demands MI Republican Gov. Be Arrested For Poisoning Flint's Water."
* Maddow: "Flint toxic water tragedy points directly to Michigan Gov. Snyder." And that's just one little thing Snyder has done.

"FBI Turns 18-Year-Old With An IQ Of 51 Into A Terrorist; Dumps Case Into Laps Of Local Prosecutors." Really, the FBI should be embarrassed to have anything to do with these cases, and so should prosecutors.

"California Crisis Pregnancy Centers Dealt a Double Blow in Court: Two federal judges in California delivered a one-two punch to anti-choice activists at crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) last week by declining to block the state's new reproductive disclosure law. The law, set to go into effect January 1, requires a public notice about access to abortion and birth control at pregnancy-related clinics statewide. CPCs have sought to block the California Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency (FACT) Act, arguing in a flurry of lawsuits that it violates their constitutional rights to ?freedom of speech, assembly, and free exercise of religion."

Al Jazeera America shutting down.

Squeeze makes David Cameron listen to insults

"DuPont's deadly deceit: The decades-long cover-up behind the 'world's most slippery material' [...] None of this would have come to light had it not been for a West Virginia cattle rancher named Wilbur Tennant who, along with four other members of his family, sued DuPont in 1998 claiming he had lost hundreds of head of cattle because of pollution from a landfill next to his farm. DuPont had purchased the patch of land, which included a creek that ran directly into the Ohio River, from Tennant in the 1980s, telling him that it would be used as a non-hazardous landfill. But soon after the landfill got underway, the creek started to turn black and smelly. Sometimes there would be a layer of foam on the water. Within a few years, about 280 of Tennant's cattle, which drank water from the creek, had died. When the Tennants cut open a cow to investigate the cause of its death, they discovered that its internal organs had turned bright, neon green, video footage recorded by the rancher shows. Tennant and his family members, too, suffered breathing difficulties and cancers."

Kevin Drum: "My Right to Die: Assisted suicide, my family, and me" - Unfortunately, not just a long think piece. I was so sorry to read this. Whatever differences I have ever had with Kevin's approach over the years, I still think of him as One of Us, a friend, maybe even family. This was painful.

Naked Capitalism:
* Job Guarantee Versus Basic Income Guarantee
* The Obama Report Card: The Good, the Bad and the Incomplete
* 15 Ways Bill Clinton's White House Failed America and the World

A more positive review of "The Big Short: The criminality of Wall Street and the crash of 2008"

"I'm From Philly. 30 Years Later, I'm Still Trying To Make Sense Of The MOVE Bombing" - So am I, it was and is incomprehensible that this could happen in a major city, and no one in authority paid a price. "The police had come with warrants for several people they believed to be in the compound at 6221. No one knew how many weapons the MOVE folks had, or even how many people were in the compound - the police guessed that there were six adults and possibly as many as 12 children inside." And the cops blew the place up.

How Saul Alinsky scared Mayor Daley into paying attention.

What happened to democracy in the UK: "From reactionary revolution to consolidation: 11 February 1975 to 7 May 2015"

Emily goes back to the orphan elephant refuge to give birth to her baby.

If I had a car, this would look good on my bumper.

This Triumph ad may not be historically or scientifically accurate. I loved it.

The Thrilling Adventures of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage - the comic.

Women In Stem Collection - dresses for geek girls, but I'm not so sure, since I don't seem to see any pockets. I did like the periodic table dress, though. But a smock-style dress would be a lot better for crawling around setting cables and such.

RIP: David Bowie, 8 January 1947-10 January 2016, who wondered if there were life on Mars and who fell to Earth, and who said good-bye, and I don't even know what I can say about this. Except, I guess, this. Well, and this, of course.
* Bowie's first TV performance
* Amiri Baraka, Polarizing Poet and Playwright, Dies at 79, the former Leroi Jones.
* Professor Snape, we loved you truly, madly, and deeply: "Alan Rickman, giant of British film and theatre, dies at 69 ." Always a commanding presence as either hero or villain. And Metatron. God, this has been a terrible week.

11:08 GMT comment


Tuesday, 05 January 2016

All your dreams are on their way

"Dave Johnson and Marcy Wheeler wrote posts in December referring to Jimmy Carter's 'Malaise Speech' and its relationship to where the United States is today. Marcy and Dave describe some key inflection points we can expect to see in 2016, ranging from the impact of climate change policy to the Saudi/Iranian axis' impact on the Middle East and US policy. Also, the effect of the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) on American policy and politics, and the role of declining middle class wages on the Presidential election. Jay Ackroyd hosts," on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

The Washington Post fires it's only regular truly liberal columnist, Harold Meyerson "More than any other columnist for a major U.S. newspaper, Meyerson provided ongoing coverage and incisive analysis of the nation's labor movement and other progressive causes as well as the changing economy and the increasing aggressiveness of big business in American politics. He was one of the few columnists in the country who knew labor leaders and grassroots activists by name, and who could write sympathetically and knowledgeably about working people's experiences in their workplaces and communities. Since Steve Greenhouse retired last year as the New York Times' brilliant labor reporter, no other major paper has a reporter who covers unions and working people on a full-time basis. Now with Meyerson's firing, there's not one weekly columnist who understands the ins and outs of organized (and disorganized) labor."
* "Bernie Sanders calls Washington Post's column cancellation 'unfortunate'" is the WaPo's own story.
* Politico: "Washington Post: Harold Meyerson column dropped because he failed to attract readers" - but. "In my discussion with him, Fred cited two reasons for not renewing my column. In addition to the click-count, he said there was too frequent an emphasis in my column on 'unions and Germany,' by which he meant -- my phrasing, not his -- worker rights and an alternative form of corporate governance."
* Digby: "The Washington Post just dissed the single largest faction in the Democratic Party"
* Meyerson's last WaPo column

Bernie Sanders told Face the Nation that he thought he could win over Trump's supporters because Trump says wages are too high but he - and everyone else - knows wages are too low. Interestingly, Trump did a sudden turnaround on the issue, later, saying now that wages are too low.

In case anyone was wondering where the DNC was going to find "independent investigators" of the data breach, they're probably not so independent.

Atrios actually gave Barack Obama his America's Worst Humans Award* for this one: "A political bomb is about to blow up in the Democrats' faces." But read his comments in this follow-up post.

In The American Prospect, "2016: The Year of the Billionaire: This presidential election could show how private capital and secrecy conspired to take the political process away from the American people."

"The Sudden But Well-Deserved Fall of Rahm Emanuel" - Well, he's not dead yet, but I think the party is going to be less inclined to treat him like a rock star now that even rich Republicans won't snuggle up with him anymore.
* "Newly released emails reveal coordination after teen's death [...] The Chicago mayor's office, police and the body that investigates police shootings closely coordinated their response in the months after a white officer fatally shot a black teenager in 2014, emails released Thursday revealed."

Remember that guy who landed a gyrocopter on the Capitol lawn? He wants to primary Debbie Wasserman Scultz. David Dayen tweeted: "I would vote for the actual gyrocopter over Wasserman-Schultz."

Once again, the prosecutor sabotages his own case about cops who kill innocents. No one will go to jail for the murder of Tamir Rice.
* "The American criminal justice system is guilty of killing Tamir Rice"
* Pierce: "The Tamir Rice Shooting Reveals the Darkness at the Heart of Open Carry Laws" - Actually, I don't think this is about open carry so much as it's about police incompetence and cops who swoop in like raiders, ignoring safe procedure, and then suddenly behave like they are under threat.

Black man is pulled over by cops who just give him a warning. #NotAllCops are out of control, but the ones who are should be kicked off the force.

"Tennessee students lose voter ID challenge."
* Kentucky governor Bevin issues executive orders rolling back voting rights and minimum wage, gives Kim Davis a win: Last month, former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear issued an executive order last month that extended voting rights to roughly 150,000 ex-felons who had completed their sentences. Yesterday, newly-elected Kentucky governor Matt Bevin reversed Beshear's executive order as one of a series of executive actions that amounted to a laundry list of conservative priorities. Bevin overturned Beshear's voting rights expansion despite having previously supported legislation to that effect. Kentucky has some of the most restrictive laws in the country when it comes to restoring voting rights for ex-felons, and Bevin has previously said that he thinks the state should move to allow for automatic rights restoration. So voting rights advocates were hopeful - even optimistic - that he would leave Beshear's order intact when he took office while the legislature worked to pass a law to its effect. Instead, Bevin went out of his way to take voting rights away from people he has already said should have them. You will recall there are still questions about the election that mysteriously put Bevin in office despite consistent polling prior to the election that showed him losing - so it's certainly not surprising that he'd pull something like this.

"Edward Clarkin Is The Most Important Man In Journalism Today - And He's Probably Not A Real Person." (One reporter quit his job over this, and while I admire his position, I think he should have had a new job lined up before he suddenly cut off the family income on Christmas Eve. Nevertheless, if you'd like to help him out, I'm in favor of that, too.)

"Your Life Savings Could Be Wiped Out In A Massive Derivatives Collapse."

"Powerful Study Finds Marijuana Dispensaries Are Literally Saving Lives."

"Americans Want Cops Tested to See if THEY are on Drugs - Cops Say It's 'Unconstitutional'." Actually, I'd think it is unconstitutional, but since every damned employer in the US seems to be doing it for jobs that have nothing to do with aiming guns at people or driving a vehicle, I don't see why cops should be let off the hook. Oh, wait, they have powerful unions, that's why.

Joss Whedon pledges to give $50 to Planned Parenthood for every person who pledges a monthly donation, up to $100,000, wingers have a big sad.

The Most Undercovered Stories of 2015 (Part One)

Naked Capitalism's 5 of the Worst Examples of Biased and Distorted Media Coverage of Education in 2015

"Debunking The Big Short: How Michael Lewis Turned the Real Villains of the Crisis into Heroes"

Chris Hedges tells you prisons are even worse than you thought: "Prison State America: Inmates becoming corporate slaves in for-profit facilities."

Krugman on Privilege, Pathology and Power: "Just to be clear, the biggest reason to oppose the power of money in politics is the way it lets the wealthy rig the system and distort policy priorities. And the biggest reason billionaires hate Mr. Obama is what he did to their taxes, not their feelings. The fact that some of those buying influence are also horrible people is secondary. But it's not trivial. Oligarchy, rule by the few, also tends to become rule by the monstrously self-centered. Narcisstocracy? Jerkigarchy? Anyway, it's an ugly spectacle, and it's probably going to get even uglier over the course of the year ahead."

Bill Black doesn't think much of Hillary's position on Glass-Steagall: "So this is the same thing that your mother taught you when you said that you did it because Johnny did it. And she says, and if Johnny jumped off, you know, a building, would you jump off a building? Well, Senator Clinton says yep, we've got to jump off the building again."

Scalia: 'Don't cram' religious neutrality 'down throats of American people'"

"Economic apartheid: Explosive report shows how rich Americans have their own 'private tax system that saves them billions': The U.S. tax system is essentially regressive, and rich elites use the money they save to buy political influence." I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but there's a reason why you don't hear much about the "flat tax" anymore. Rich people don't want a flat tax - it would mean having to pay just as high a percentage as you do.

"Trickle-Down to Keep-the-Worker-Down: It's Not the 'Skills Gap' Driving Down Wages."

"History Teaches That We Have the Power to Transform the Nation, Here's How."

"Aside From The Legalistic Bribes, What Makes Politicians Tick?"

David Graeber: debt and what the government doesn't want you to know - video

"Sued Over Old Debt, and Blocked From Suing Back" - But it's much worse than that, and it seems to me some states attorneys should be prosecuting these thieving companies.

"Quebec cop pepper sprays father driving his kids to school." So, they're hiring idiots as cops north of the border, too.

Beat the Press: "The Effort to Divert Class War Into Generational War: Lessons On Economics You Won't Get from Jeff Bezos"

David Dayen: "America Is Not Becoming More Liberal: "

"'Every president has been manipulated by national security officials': David Talbot exposes America's ;deep state'" in an interview at Salon about his book, The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government.

"So-Called 'Post-Capitalism' is Just Another Crappy Capitalist Snowjob." It's very trendy to make up stories about how the robots will do all the work or whatever fantasy they're having about how wonderful things are getting, but it's simply not true.

"Michael Moore just exploded the right's biggest lie [...] In a brilliant move, Moore has made his most patriotic film yet without shooting a single frame in the United States."

"When the Boss Says, 'Don't Tell Your Coworkers How Much You Get Paid'," it's illegal, but most workers don't know their rights.

John Ehrlichman explains the drug war in a few sentences.

Eisenhower and the Cold War Arms Race: 'Open Skies' and the Military-Industrial Complex by Helen Bury (review)

"A generation of failed politicians has trapped the west in a tawdry nightmare : A cosseted, arrogant elite has presided over a swift decay in the very liberal values it claims, with bombs and guns, to be defending."

Why you should always buy the men's version of almost anything

"All Muslim Life in America Is Seen Through the Lens of Terrorism"

"How Popular Music's Lyrics Perpetuate American Idiocy"

Sara Robinson, whose blogging - about hate groups and about how we can communicate with people who identify as conservative - I have long admired, has rejoined the blogging community with her own site. She ended her introductory post with this: "Unitarian Rev. Forrest Church, son of Idaho Senator Frank Church, gives us our benediction: 'We must first let go of the things that will not save us. Then we must reach out for the things that can.' If this blog has a mission, it's to become a place where we embrace the task of figuring out what we need to let go of, and what might bring us to slightly less imperfect future."

Mark Steel on David Cameron's generosity: "Money's no object for flood defences - unless they're too expensive."

This discrimination against white guys has to stop.
* Is Steven Moffat a, um, schlong?

"Muslims hilariously troll the hell out of ISIS after their call for new jihadists ends up on Twitter."

"Small Bavarian Town Fights Back Against Neo-Nazis in Hilariously Perfect Way."

Dave Barry's 2015 Year in Review - He says it was the worst year ever.

RIP: Meadowlark Lemon, Harlem Globetrotters' Dazzling Court Jester, Dies at 83 - An amazingly gifted athlete and comedian who became a much-loved legend to many. Watch A history of Meadowlark Lemon, The Harlem Globetrotters, and his Bucketeers in 15 minutes.
* Stevie Wright, singer for the Easybeats whose influence on Australian rock was enormous, at 68. Simels says: "One of the saddest rock stories ever, alas -- it's amazing he lived as long as he did. The bottom line, however -- as I've said here on numerous happier occasions -- is that the Easybeats deserve to be thought of as right up there with the whole Stones/Who/Kinks pantheon, which is to say along with any great Sixties band who wasn't The Beatles. Seriously -- they were that good."
* "Lemmy, Motorhead frontman, dies aged 70 after cancer diagnosis."
* Natalie Cole, singer and daughter of Nat 'King' Cole, dies aged 65. Here she is doing "Gotta Serve Somebody".
* William Guest of Gladys Knight & the Pips, at 74
* Trapper John: "Wayne Rogers M*A*S*H Star Dead at 82."

I haven't had a chance to listen to this yet (and not entirely sure that I can), but BBC World Drama did a radio play called "The Great Charter" that might be interesting: "This innovative drama charts the fight for rights and freedoms in the 21st Century's supra-state - the Internet - to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. It powerfully re-imagines the conflict which gave birth to the original Magna Carta in a fictional future to explore the current debate around digital rights." I think it will still be available to listen to up to the 21st.

Solstice Sun at Lulworth Cove - gorgeous.

Read Ken Liu's amazing story that swept the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards, "Paper Menagerie". You'll love it.

Sir Terry Pratchett remembered by his daughter, Rhianna Pratchett: "We got a number of tear-inducing letters from fans who were nearing the end of their lives and took great comfort in imagining that the death that came for them would be riding a white horse called Binky. Dad had done something with more success than anyone else - he made Death friendly."

Of course, Christopher Lee has top billing among the voice actors in Soul Music. Terry Pratchett's Discworld Soul Music Part 1: "Soul Music is a seven-part animated television adaptation of the book of the same name by Terry Pratchett, produced by Cosgrove Hall, and first broadcast on 12 May 1997. It was the first film adaptation of an entire Discworld novel (following the Welcome to the Discworld short, which was based on a fragment of the novel Reaper Man)." Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7

Rehearsal: Somtow conducts Star Wars

Aretha sings for Carole King.

Simon & Garfunkel recently performed "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

16:25 GMT comment


Saturday, 26 December 2015

Timing is everything

The traditional Christmas links:
* Mark Evanier's wonderful Mel Tormé story, and here's the man himself in duet with Judy Garland.
* Joshua Held's Christmas card, with a little help from the Platters.
* Brian Brink's virtuoso performance of "The Carol of the Bells"
* "Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime."
* Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol

FULL Democratic Debate - December 19, 2015 - ABC. The Guardian says, "Sanders outshone Clinton on foreign policy at the debate. But who watched?"
* But for those who listened, people who know better than to believe lies about single-payer were frustrated when Sanders did not say immediately that it's false to claim that the program would cost more rather than saving money both in taxes and out of pocket. "Hillary Clinton spreading the idea that a single-payer health care system would bankrupt America is keeping U.S. citizens sick, injured, and broke. Right now, we have a failing health care system, and a single-payer system that would be both cheaper and provide care to every single woman, man, and child, is desperately needed." Even The Washington Post has admitted this. America's residents already spend more in taxes alone on health care than taxpayers in almost any other country do (exceptions are Sweden and Luxembourg), and that's before they even start looking for a health insurance plan. There is no country in the world where the full bite of medical care is higher than in the United States - the real difference being that although everyone pays for medical care, the people in those other countries not only pay much less, but can afford to use their medical system when they need it. Sooner or later, someone needs to ask Madame Secretary why she keeps lying about this.

So, the Friday night right before the debate, there was a stream of constantly updating stories on how some geek in the Sanders campaign saw a breach in the security that was supposed to exist between some Clinton campaign data and their own and naturally checked it out to see what their own exposure must be from the other side - which is a mistake to do without witnesses if you're part of a political campaign, but pretty much what most geeks would do in other circumstances. Anyway, the net was abuzz with accusations and recriminations and conflicting charges from each side. (And, yes, the DNC went a little nuts if you ask me, and I'm not surprised that some people were pissed.)
* Charlie Pierce wants to know, "Why Did the DNC Let the Bernie-Hillary Tech Story Leak?: A better question: Would it have leaked if the roles were reversed?"
* Rachel Maddow figured the DNC had no reason to release this story unless it was intended as a smear. And even Slate says, "Debbie Wasserman Schultz Is Acting Just Like the Villain Bernie Sanders Says She Is."
* David Dayen, "The real scandal in the Bernie/DNC feud is the one nobody is talking about [...] But there's a crater-sized hole in this reporting. The reason this controversy sprung up in the first place is that the DNC has been facilitating a monopoly, with all the usual results from that decision. In fact, it's a case study in why policymakers should aggressively protect against monopolies. NGP VAN, the private company that provides database software for voter information, has a sole-source contract with the DNC. And the DNC exploits this to force state parties and candidates that want their voter data, which has been refined and sharpened by campaigns for years, to use NGP VAN. This gives the DNC incredible power to dictate who gets to see the voting history and contact information for every registered voter in America. It also creates enormous potential risk."

No matter how you look at it, though, someone should really primary Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

"Edward Snowden: Clinton's Call for a 'Manhattan-Like Project' Is Terrifying."

The Week: "Hillary Clinton and the awful risk of winning ugly"

Pierce: "Hillary Clinton Will Need to Face Facts: Her Husband Allowed Wall Street to Run Wild."

International Business Times:
* "Hillary Clinton Says She Is Unaware Of Big Money That Oil And Gas Companies Have Given Her And Family Foundation."
* Hillary Clinton Denounces Corporate Crime While Accepting Cash From Blackstone, Firm Sanctioned By SEC

"Why Some Feminists are Choosing an Old White Guy over Hillary"

"Conservative Democrats Use Politics To Make Sure Their Policy Goals Aren't Threatened By Progressives."

John Scalzi with Eight Things About Donald Trump

"Congress quietly ends federal government's ban on medical marijuana."

Two New Bernie Sanders campaign ads:
"Consistent, Principled, Effective Leader" and "Bernie is a Rock."

"The General Election Electoral Vote Map: Hillary vs. Bernie" - I'm not at all convinced that Clinton would lose against whatever the GOP runs, but I've always been sure that Sanders would win bigger and have much longer coat-tails. I think he could even win the white vote, which would leave the GOP True Believers without their favorite argument. The ex-conservative who wrote this article says that Bernie can win handily but Clinton's negatives put her "into Mondale or Dukakis territory." So it's time to ask Clinton's supporters, "What are you going to do if a Republican beats Hillary?"

"Walker Signs Bills Scrapping State Elections Board, Overhauling Campaign Finance Rules."

"Don't Silence Michigan Librarians: The Michigan House and Senate pulled a fast one last week and Governor Snyder needs to do the right thing for libraries, schools, and parks by Vetoing SB 571. If SB 571 becomes law, librarians would be sent to jail for sharing factual information about elections with their communities. Library boards would be fined thousands of dollars of sending out a newsletter if it shares information about what is on your local ballot. We need honest and transparent elections. SB 571 is ridiculous. It is both anti- free speech and anti- good government. Don't let the politicians in Lansing force librarians to hide information about what is on your ballot! Join thousands of citizens from around Michigan and tell Governor Snyder to Veto SB 571 because information needs to be free by signing the petition today. "
* "CIRCLE OF LIES: Dodging Blame for the Flint River Disaster" - but the blame goes right up to the governor's office.

"IETF approves HTTP error code 451 for Internet censorship: The 451 HTTP error code, first proposed in 2012 as a tribute to Ray Bradbury's classic novel is now an IETF standard and is the preferred error message for a server to send to a browser when content is blocked for legal reasons.".

Bill Black: A "Jihadist" Against the Banks? [...] But this is how far the Justice Department has fallen. Not only will they not prosecute the elite bank frauds that drove the crisis, but anyone that wants them to do their job they're treating as a terrorist."

"Military to Military: Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war: Barack Obama's repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office - and that there are 'moderate' rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him - has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon's Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration's fixation on Assad's primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn't adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington's anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped."

Frank Luntz pretends to offer American Muslims an unedited voice, and CBS helps.

First of its Kind Study Finds Virtually No Driving Impairment Under the Influence of Marijuana.

Gawker calls them "The Least Inspiring Group of Class Warriors Ever Assembled in Human History."

Bill Moyers: The End Game for Democracy

Nine Numbers That Cry Out: "Bring On Socialism!"

In her closing remarks at the 2015 Internet Governance Forum, APC's Nadine Maowad said, "Keep fighting for a free and open internet - if not, we are going to lose it."

Last October Matt Yglesias made this important point: "Democrats are in denial. Their party is actually in deep trouble. [...] But the much more significant question facing the party isn't about the White House - it's about all the other offices in the land. The problem is that control of the presidency seems to have blinded progressive activists to the possibility of even having an argument about what to do about all of them. That will change if and when the GOP seizes the White House, too, and Democrats bottom out. But the truly striking thing is how close to bottom the party is already and how blind it seems to be to that fact." There have been many times when I wanted to smack Matt for being such a damned "centrist", but he's not wrong about this, although I wonder if he's aware of just how much the "centrist" types have been responsible for this dire situation. You expect people who are young and naive to think it's enough to elect a presidential candidate, but why did Rahm Emanuel want to ditch Howard Dean and his 50-state strategy? Why did the Democratic leadership allow small-d and big-D democratic groups to be corralled into a cult of personality whose sole "policy" goal seemed to be simply to promote, support, and defend Barack Obama? Why does the leadership deliberately undermine democratic legislators who are popular and maybe even charismatic, in favor of candidates no one likes? Why is it so important to them to get people to be quiet instead of loudly promoting the policies and values of both the Democratic platform and, really, most of the people in the country? Why do they actively discourage challenges to hard-right Republican incumbents who could easily be unseated with just a little bit of support from the Democratic Party?

"Power-pop justice is served as Cheap Trick enters the Rock 'N' Roll Hall Of Fame."
* "Your Tuesday Moment of Words Fail Me: Special Can Blue Men Sing the Whites? Edition: From approximately 2011, and the praise Jeebus just renewed for another season cable music show Live at Daryl's House, please enjoy Daryl Hall and the incomparable Smokey Robinson and a mind-blowing live version of Smokey's classic 'Tears of a Clown.'"

Swedish crime novelist Sara Lovestam took a break from making a gingerbread house this year and instead made a gingerbread typewriter.

I have vague memories of linking to this video a few years ago, but let's see that Rube Goldberg stuff again.

The Beethoven's birthday Google Doodle was fun.

An entire year later, no one at The Washington Post has proofread Daniel W. Drezner's "The War on Jewish Christmas must be stopped."

"The Year Kenny Loggins Ruined Christmas"

02:15 GMT comment


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

In restless dreams I walked alone

"Bernie Sanders urges carbon tax and deeper emissions cuts in climate plan."
* "Sanders on Trump: 'That kind of crap is not going to work' in US."
* "Poll: Sanders More Electable than Clinton Against GOP Frontrunners: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would win the 2016 U.S. presidential election against all top Republican candidates, with scores that make him more electable in the general than even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his main rival for the Democratic nomination, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday. In a match-up against the leading Republican candidates, Sanders leads Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) by 10 points, Donald Trump by eight points, and Ben Carson by six points - while Clinton only leads Cruz by five points and Trump by six. "
* The Hulk endorses Bernie Sanders for president
* "Sanders 'Talks Shop' and Socialism with Renowned Rapper"
* "Ohio Democrat Nina Turner Is Trying To Convince Black Voters To Take A Chance On Sanders."
* "Fear not: More Americans support Bernie Sanders than Donald Trump - no matter what TV says."
* "Sanders: Paris climate pact 'goes nowhere near far enough'"
* Hm, looks like CBS has learned a little trick from Fox News.

Oy, even The National review is on this: "Why Democrats Buried Their Debates at Times No One Will Watch"
* "ABC, CBS, And NBC News Made An Intentional Decision To Ignore Bernie Sanders"
* Eric Boehlert: "Report: ABC World News Tonight Has Devoted 81 Minutes To Trump, One Minute To Sanders."
* CNN: "Sanders ratchets up anti-media rhetoric in Iowa
* "Sanders rips Trump, but Dems say problems run deeper"

Does Clinton Really Oppose TPP? There Is A Test For That
* Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton ∧ America's Endless War

William Greider, "Hillary Clinton Is Whitewashing the Financial Catastrophe: She has a plan that she claims will reform Wall Street - but she's deflecting responsibility from old friends and donors in the industry.
* "Hillary Clinton: Wall Street Tool [...] She represents what peace activists deplore, an unabashed over-the-top hawk, supporting endless wars of aggression, as well as monied interests exclusively at the expense of popular ones. [...] She favors the illusion of stimulating economic growth by corporate tax cuts and other business friendly measures - with no program to address Depression-level unemployment (opposite phony Labor Department numbers), underemployment or reduce poverty. Nothing to stop continued offshoring of US jobs to low-wage countries. Nothing to help growing millions of ordinary Americans most in need."

"The Hillary Clinton Emails and the Honduras Coup [...] The released emails provide a fascinating behind-the-scenes view of how Clinton pursued a contradictory policy of appearing to back the restoration of democracy in Honduras while actually undermining efforts to get Zelaya back into power."

"Hillary Clinton Says Raising Social Security Cap Will Hurt Seniors & Middle Class," which is an interesting way of saying she thinks it's okay to hurt people whose income is below the capped level but not those who are over it. Not that she's right anyway, but who does she think she's fooling?

"Who Do The Millionaires Want For President? Surprise!!! According to the CNBC Millionaire Survey, Hillary is the runaway favorite for president among millionaires (and billionaires) at 34%. Not many millionaires are pumpin' for Bernie, though, just 7%, same as the number who want Kasich. And if you just ask millionaires who are Democrats... well, that's Hillary's wheelhouse. She gets 76% and Bernie a mere 13%. Oddly, 2% of Democratic millionaires are for Trumpf. And among GOP millionaires, that percentage for the bigoted real estate agent goes up to 15%. 3% of Republican millionaires are for Hillary. None want Bernie."

Dept. of Banging Your Head Against A Wall - and this from The Nation, for godssakes - "Why This Socialist Feminist Is for Hillary: The stalled revolution for gender equity won't be won simply by installing a woman in the White House - but it can't hurt." Yes, it can. We've spent every minute of Obama's presidency being told that we can't criticize him because we have to support The First Black President. Every minute being told Obama can't say or do anything that might be construed as being helpful to black people (even if it is even more helpful to white people), because, well, he's black and they'll say he's doing it for blacks or they'll call him an angry black man and all that. Every criticism, no matter how legitimate, deflected as racism rather than addressed squarely. Just as we've been told that Hillary had to vote for the AUMF and the PATRIOT Act to show she had the same stones as any man and wasn't just some bleeding-heart liberal woman. And worst of all, it would be even more years of having the "liberal" party led by a neocon Wall Street-hugger - a disaster for the country, for the discourse, and for anything remotely liberal. Seriously, how can you call yourself a feminist and advocate such blatant tokenism?
* Only one woman in the Senate has not endorsed Hillary Clinton: Elizabeth Warren.

I love seeing someone unpack bad polls: "First Ban All Muslims? Donald Trump, Polls and Echidne Researches"
* Matt Taibbi, "It's Too Late to Turn Off Trump."
* Mark Bowden's article about interviewing Trump 20 years ago is not terribly surprising, but there is an amusing history of Trump's hair at the end that entertained me.

Anonymous Just Declared War Against Donald Trump

David Dayen: "This is what good government looks like: Why Elizabeth Warren is the senator America needs. [...] Warren criticized the Education Department last week for the hurdles and delays to cancelling loan debt for defrauded students. But her behind-the-scenes work with the IRS cleared the way for blanket debt relief, by ensuring that students wouldn't face a tax nightmare and further administrative headaches in the process. And here's the thing: Dozens of these types of interventions happen every day. The power of members of Congress extends well beyond voting up or down on legislation. They can identify potential concerns, work with the executive branch, and aid in the smooth functioning of government. Few people ever see this at work, but it's a key part of the job."

Marcy Wheeler, "Paul Ryan Is Trying To Deputize Comcast To Narc You Out To The Feds."

Marco Rubio Pushes to Block Low-Cost, High-Speed Broadband

"Obama Signs Bill Overthrowing George W. Bush's Disastrous No Child Left Behind."
* "Is Obama proposal the end of taxpayer-subsidized sports stadiums?"

"A Victory for Privacy and Transparency: HRW v. DEA: In a victory for millions of people in the U.S. who have placed telephone calls to locations overseas, EFF and Human Rights Watch have confirmed that the Drug Enforcement Administration's practice of collecting those records in bulk has stopped and that the only bulk database of those records has been destroyed. From the 1990s to 2013, the DEA secretly and illegally collected billions of records of Americans' international calls to hundreds of countries around the world. In April 2015, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of our client, Human Rights Watch, challenging the constitutionality of the program and seeking to have the records purged from the government's possession. Today, HRW has agreed to voluntarily dismiss that suit after receiving assurances from the government, provided under penalty of perjury, that the bulk collection has ceased and that the only database containing the billions of Americans' call records collected by the DEA has been purged from the government's possession." Hm, assurances from the government don't mean much. They don't care if they perjure themselves.

"Groups Cry Foul as Congress Readies 'Super Bill of Pure Terribleness': Digital rights organizations publish letter slamming cybersecurity bill cobbled together from three different proposals and 'gutted' of privacy safeguards"

Ari Berman: "The New Attack on 'One Person, One Vote': 's been settled law for five decades - but now the Supreme Court might shoot it down."

Wisconsin: "'Unprecedented': Supreme Court 'Fires' Investigator Probing Walker"

"19 civil liberties organizations oppose final version of dangerous cyber bill [...] 'The final version of this bill is an insult to the public and puts all of us in greater danger of cyber attacks and government surveillance,' said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who organized the letter, 'This was already a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation, and now even the meager privacy protections it provided have been gutted, exposing it for what it really is: a bill to dramatically expand abusive government spying.'"
* "Lawmakers 'Fail the Internet,' Sneak Cyber Bill Into Must-Pass Omnibus: It's clear now that this bill was never intended to prevent cyber attacks, it's a disingenuous attempt to quietly expand the U.S. government's surveillance programs.""

Froomkin: "Obama Hints at Renewed Pressure on Encryption, Clinton Waves Off First Amendment [...] "'And this is complicated. You're going to hear all of the usual complaints, you know, freedom of speech, et cetera.'"

"Chicago's 'Black Site' Police Scandal Is Primed to Explode Again"
* "New Poll Shows Majority of Chicagoans Want Rahm Gone."

9/11 responders bill defeated by Senate GOP filibuster.

Court Rules Bush Administration Can Be Sued for Its "War on Terror" Conduct: For almost a decade and a half, the people behind the Bush administration's shameful treatment of terrorism suspects have avoided punishment for their crimes, but that may be about to change. The courts have had their say and have ruled that former Bush administration officials can, in fact, be sued for how they conducted the "war on terror." The Second Circuit Court of Appeals made that pretty much official on Friday when it refused to hear a challenge to its earlier ruling in the case of Turkmen v. Ashcroft. That case involves hundreds of Arab, Muslim or South Asian men who were detained and then abused by our government in the weeks following 9/11.

"New Report Shines A Light Into The Charter School Black Box [...] As the authors state, a 'substantial share of public expenditure intended for the delivery of direct educational services to children is being extracted inadvertently or intentionally for personal or business financial gain, creating substantial inefficiencies.'"
* "Charter schools are a 'gravy train,' say researchers."

Every time I see one of these stories about cops busting into people's houses and causing mayhem, possibly shooting someone or even killing someone, it makes me grim. It doesn't matter what color the victims are, it's just a fury that such arrogant, incompetent, trigger-happy idiots are out there with badges causing chaos in people's lives. So as I read the first words of this headline I was feeling all that anger coming back, and then I got to the last words and I burst out laughing. I couldn't help myself. Sorry about the dog and the other inhabitant who got shot, but still, "Cops Break Into Wrong Home, Shoot Innocent Homeowner, Kill His Dog, Then Shoot Each Other." My god, it's like a cartoon. It's a pity more of these stories don't end up with the cops shooting each other, maybe someone would stop giving badges and guns to people who shouldn't be allowed out.

The Huffington Post: "It's Time for Washington to Get Out of Bed With the Wahhabists Saudis: How is it possible that the United States is an "ally" with a regime as brutal as Assad that refuses to stop spreading its hateful, misogynistic anti-secular Wahhabists ideology all over the world (hereandhere)? And, how is it that We the People of the United States, a beacon of democracy throughout the world are tolerating a Congress who have been shamefully silent on this medieval self-anointed "royal family" of Islamic extremist bankrollers and terrorist enablers? The problem lies in this administration's insistence on telling Americans that Saudi Arabia is an ally of ours. This is pure fiction and very dangerous. They are the power behind the Wahhabist ideology machine who fund radical mosques all over the world, spreading their hatred of us shared by all of the Islamic terrorist groups. They are the primary cause of Wahhabist-inspired terrorism, including the attacks of 9/11 with the murder of almost 3,000 Americans as well as the death cult of ISIS. Yes - Saudi Arabia and ISIS share the same hateful extremist ideology, not just with al Qaeda."

"The Unbearable Lightness of America's War Against the Islamic State: If Washington were really serious about defeating terrorism, it would have an entirely different playbook. [...] As numerous scholarly studies have shown, the actual risk of terrorism to the average American is remarkably low. In their new book Chasing Ghosts, John Mueller and Mark Stewart estimate the odds that an American will be killed by a terrorist are about one in 4 million each year. Compared with more prosaic dangers that we accept on a daily basis, this level of risk is absurdly small." More Americans have been shot by toddlers than have been killed by Muslim terrorists this year, but either way you look at it, too many people profit by encouraging fear and madness.

Mary Wheeler reckons Obama caved in to the forces of evil in his speech: "Obama's Terrorism Cancer Speech, Carter's Malaise Speech"

"A Colorblind Constitution: What Abigail Fisher's Affirmative Action Case Is Really About [...] Even among those students, Fisher did not particularly stand out. Court records show her grade point average (3.59) and SAT scores (1180 out of 1600) were good but not great for the highly selective flagship university. The school's rejection rate that year for the remaining 841 openings was higher than the turn-down rate for students trying to get into Harvard. As a result, university officials claim in court filings that even if Fisher received points for her race and every other personal achievement factor, the letter she received in the mail still would have said no."

"Uber: On the Road to Nowhere: Uber drivers are getting creative in their fight for basic workplace rights." Uber gets all the power of employers without the responsibilities, and the drivers get all the hassles of having bosses with none of the benefits.

Amnesty report: ISIS armed with U.S. weapons

"Who Bought This Influential Newspaper? Its Own Journalists Don't Even Know: Secrecy behind Las Vegas Review-Journal sale even more troubling because of the role Nevada holds in the upcoming 2016 presidential election."

PZ Myers: "Everyone is talking about that stupid town that voted against solar energy because it would suck up the energy of the sun. So I read the story from the local paper, and hey, it wasn't as stupid as it was made out to be, and there are actually valid arguments against solar farms."

David Dayen: "The Next Financial Crisis Will Start Here [...] Many would argue that low-grade corporate debt markets aren't big enough to trigger a systemic crisis. Leveraged loans rose to about $605 billion in 2013; by contrast, the U.S. housing market is $10 trillion. But in the financial system, it actually doesn't take much to cause a panic, especially since financial alchemy can magnify a small loss into a big problem. For example, JPMorgan Chase's 'London Whale' trade was a derivative bet on investment-grade corporate debt, and that ended up costing the bank almost $7 billion to unwind. We simply don't know how many other bets have been placed on low-grade corporate debt, given the opacity of the system."

Longtime readers will remember the case of how the Karl Rove machine kept the governor from returning to office after his re-election. The Political Assassination of Don Siegelman looks like it could be a great film.

Rick PerlStein, two years ago: "Exclusive: Lee Atwater's Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy: The forty-two-minute recording, acquired by James Carter IV, confirms Atwater's incendiary remarks and places them in context."

Chip Berlet, "Into the Mainstream: An array of right-wing foundations and think tanks support efforts to make bigoted and discredited ideas respectable."

So, who is this Syrian Observatory For Human Rights everyone is citing?

Proof that Concealed Carry permit holders live in a dream world, Part One

Keiser Report: Following Don Corleone... or Jamie Dimon.

Where disgusted Guardian readers run to

Nicole Sandler put together a list of real Liberal Media.

RIP: Dave Brubeck, Whose Distinctive Sound Gave Jazz New Pop, Dies at 91

Juan Cole, "Top 10 Signs the U.S. Is the Most Corrupt Country in the World"

"When Porn Complicates The Relationships Of Straight White Christian Hipsters, It's Not Our Problem."

I missed this one last year, but it it's Cenk on a comment from Michael Moore on Obama's legacy.

Violins of Hope - Some of the instruments came from the camps, where they were "playing for time." And now they are playing again.

150 years since ratification of the 13th Amendment. "The end of chattel slavery in American history"

TED Talk: The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar.

And now a word from Steven Brust

I keep seeing stories like this about the shootings in San Bernadino and I have no way to make sense of them. Here's another. It has that grassy knoll quality...

10,000 zines and counting: a library's quest to save the history of fandom: The University of Iowa's fanzine collection is going digital before it falls apart. The University of Iowa is home to almost a century of fandom history. Its library's special collections house everything from 1920s 'dime novel' reviews to T-shirts that were auctioned off in protest of the 2002 Farscape cancellation. In 2012, though, it acquired one of the most valuable resources yet: the library of James 'Rusty' Hevelin, a lifelong science fiction superfan and prolific collector of books and fanzines dating back to the 1930s. Last year, the Hevelin Collection was chosen as the first target of the university's Fan Culture Preservation Project, a massive effort to digitize some of the most vulnerable and ephemeral pieces of science fiction history. Now, that effort is starting to take shape."

Ah, but what about Donald Trump's birth certificate?

A fine example of good scansion: "Old Man Zombie"

Dave Barry's 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

Trailer: Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next. It's not about foreign policy.

Wonderful photographs of water

Street art

120 Subway Stations Speed by in Less Than 2 Minutes

Non-Kosher Menorah

Carrie Fisher's interview promotingStar Wars: The Force Awakens
* The Force Awakens Cast Singing Star Wars Music A Capella

Woman Up! (Audio is probably not work-safe.)

A very Cthulhu Christmas

Video Premiere for Disturbed's powerful cover of "Sound of Silence"

21:46 GMT comment


Monday, 07 December 2015

Make It Easy On Yourself

Sarah Robinson (a gun-owner who also tracks right-wing hate groups and violence) and David Waldman (KagroX, #gunfail) discuss domestic terrorism: perception, framing and responses to gun violence in the wake of two different domestic terrorism events in the past week, on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Bernie Sanders And Killer Mike Campaign Rally Speech In Atlanta, Georgia 11.23.15
* Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins on Ring of Fire: Bernie Sanders: Finally A Candidate With Common Sense Foreign Policy

"Sen. Bernie Sanders Meets With Picketing WMUR Workers, Helps Broker A Deal To Reopen Negotiations" - But, uh oh, "There is still the looming issue of whether or not Sanders and Hillary Clinton - who has previously voiced her support of the WMUR union members - will boycott the WMUR debate or if the DNC will pull WMUR's debate completely if the contract dispute is not resolved by the December 19th debates."

Hm, Hillary Clinton blew off MoveOn, that won't go down well. (Er, no puns intended.)

You won't believe why N.H.'s top paper endorsed Christie

Vote Now: Who Should Be TIME's Person of the Year?

Cover-Up in Chicago - Gosh, it sure does look like Rahm interfered with this investigation in order to protect his re-election chances. But it might just be enough to finally get rid of him in the end.
* Chicago Top Cop Fired, But Demand Grows for Mayor Emanuel To Be Next
* Rahm takes heat from black lawmakers
* Pierce: "Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Is Throwing Anyone Within Arm's Reach Under the Bus"
* Rahm Emanuel's Next Scandal? Chicago's Public Housing
* Department of not knowing when to keep your mouth shut: "Clinton still confident in Rahm Emanuel"

Pfizer Buying Allergan So It Can Pretend To Be Irish In Tax Scam

Another Shooting Death at Another Women's Center: This One is In Texas

T. R. Ramachandran's family lives in a city in India that is flooding out under the worst recorded rainfall in history. So he started to wonder how it's going elsewhere, and learned that 19 US cities have had record-breaking rains this year. And that's not all.

Five Ways Sanders Could Democratize the Financial Sector That Clinton Won't Touch

More like Reagan than FDR: I'm a millennial and I'll never vote for Hillary Clinton

David Dayen in The American Prospect, "Bring Back Antitrust: Despite low inflation and some bargain prices, economic concentration and novel abuses of market power are pervasive in today's economy - harming consumers, workers, and innovators. We need a new antitrust for a new predatory era." You can thank Robert Bork for all this, by the way. Dday talked to Sam Seder about this on The Majority Report.

Pierce: "Scott Walker Bankrupts Wisconsin Food Banks - Just in Time for Christmas!: "It is becoming increasingly likely that, come Christmas Eve, Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their Midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, will be visited by three very angry spirits - the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost Of Christmas Present, and the Ghost Of Let Me Hit You With This Croquet Mallet."

David Dayen in The New Republic: "The Real Roots of the Rising Right: Financial crises always result in a far-right political bump, a new study finds. But Democrats made this one worse."

Why a German billionaire says that pledges like Mark Zuckerberg's are really bad
* Wealthy philanthropists shouldn't impose their idea of common good on us
* "How Mark Zuckerberg's Altruism Helps Himself: Zuckerberg set up a limited liability company, which has reaped enormous benefits as public relations coup and will help minimize his tax bill. Mark Zuckerberg did not donate $45 billion to charity. You may have heard that, but that was wrong. Here's what happened instead: Zuckerberg created an investment vehicle."

The Dangerously Limited Foreign Policy Discourse of the Democratic Candidates

"Fox News, liberal-baiting and the politics of populist fear: Here's where it all began: The roots of our modern nightmarish politics can be found in Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon's early campaigns "

Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin: Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?

UK porn laws a year on: A porn actress and a dominatrix on destroyed businesses and censorship

The debates about military action in Syria remind me a lot of the "debate" over the invasion of Iraq, which had a lot of people raising legitimate reasons why it would do more harm than good (which turned out to be right) and the other side adamantly refusing to answer with anything of substance. Same again. The Onion, naturally, got it right: "This War Will Destabilize The Entire Mideast Region And Set Off A Global Shockwave Of Anti-Americanism vs. No It Won't."

Syria's climate-fueled conflict, in one stunning comic strip
* But that may be oversimplifying.

"I'm a black ex-cop, and this is the real truth about race and policing"

Macy's Imprisons Minority Customers and Extorts Them for Bogus Fines: Suit

Muslim Woman on a Train: Mr. Sideshow was struck by two stories he saw on the same day with contrasting outcomes, one in Boston, the other in Newcastle.

G-String lawyer cleared after bedroom break-in

xkcd interviews Canadian astronaut.

I missed this last summer but just stumbled across Dennis Waterman's eulogy for George Cole. Brought a tear to my eye, it did.

Peter Jackson Filmed a Mini-Episode of Doctor Who to Announce He's Directing a Full Episode of Doctor Who

Doctor Who Adventure Calendar, 2015 - "A seasonal selection of videos, galleries and much more. One unlocked every day!"

Robert Silverberg, pre-beard

Billy Joel - Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize For Popular Song 2014, full concert and award presentation with an all-star cast - and Kevin Spacey on harmonica.

The Walker Brothers

18:52 GMT comment


Monday, 30 November 2015

Happy Advent

It's time for this.

Dave Johnson and Isaiah Poole discussed Sanders on Democratic Socialism; Trump on Muslim Americans, and Warren on corporate tax reform on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Bernie Sanders releases two new television ads, "A Rigged Economy" and "Works for All of Us." (Story here.)
* Bernie Sanders' speech on democratic socialism at Georgetown University
*WaPo's Wonkblog: "Bernie Sanders is right: The top 0.1 percent have as much as the bottom 90 percent."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at The National Press Club
* Elizabeth Warren Takes On 'Insider Washington' At CAF Awards Gala
* By the way, did you see the ad the financiers came up with to smear the CPFB? It's rather amazing.

For contrast, CMike supplies a few moments of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I've got my problems with Martin O'Malley (boy, do I!), but he is right about debates. It's just bizarre, after all these years of trying to do something about the lopsided coverage on television that is really all-Republicans all the time, to hear Democrats defending the idea of reducing one of the few chances they have to get air time.

"Democratic Race Heats Up As Bernie Sanders Gains 10 Points On Hillary Clinton: According to the ABC News/Washington Post poll, Hillary Clinton has gone from leading Bernie Sanders 56%-22% in October to 59%-35% in November. Support for Sen. Sanders is up thirteen percent, and support for former Sec. of State Clinton has gone up by three percent in the past month. Voters said that the three most important issues in the election are the economy (33%), healthcare (13%), and immigration (10%)."

This is worrying: Van Hollen is way ahead of Edwards in the polls. Someone needs to get the lead out to raise Donna Edwards' standing, Maryland shouldn't be represented in the US Senate by a faux "progressive" like Chris van Hollen.

I can't help being glad to be rid of him, but is this a victory? "John Bel Edwards, Democrat, Defeats David Vitter in Louisiana Governor's Race:[...] A more promising red state Democrat could hardly have been found than Mr. Edwards, a Catholic social conservative from a family of rural law enforcement officers who graduated from West Point and served eight years of active duty in the Army."

"Is Clinton Still a Carbon Candidate? The Data to Date [...] I think the answer to the above question, in all fairness, has to be "Yes" until she proves otherwise. I'm open to being shown otherwise - as are we all who care about our children's and grandchildren's future. But the weight of evidence so far is this - under a President Clinton, no halt to carbon emissions, and no commitment to one, will be forthcoming. Does that mean she doesn't care about climate change. No, but it does mean she won't act effectively to prevent it."
* "Clinton, Finally Forced to Confront a Single Payer Advocate in Debate, Can't Win on Policy, Falls Back on Demagoguery and Distortion" - This is a good unpacking both of Clinton's "nuanced" language in the debate and Sanders' failure to call her out on it.
* "Believe It: Trump Can Defeat Hillary
* "Hillary Clinton, the Democrats' Dick Cheney" - There is a lot wrong with this article but one thing is true: "No, what makes Hillary Clinton the Dick Cheney of the Democrats is Libya. You heard that right - Clinton is to Obama in Libya what Cheney was to President Bush in Iraq. Against other voices urging caution, they both strongly advocated the invasion of a country that, lacking a follow-up plan to restore stability, fell into complete chaos."

Possibly the most amazing news of the week: "Mike Huckabee Calls Planned Parenthood Shooting 'Domestic Terrorism'." I don't think most of us predicted that, since the media had already agreed not to call it terrorism.

Ohio's Vote Against Pot Legalization Was 'Statistically Impossible': "The conclusion that the vote was stolen is almost inescapable. [...] The Columbus Free Press asked Baiman to calculate the odds of the official vote count of Ohio's Issue 3, to legalize marijuana, being correct - compared to the tracking polls charting voter preference leading up to this year's November election. The Free Press supplied Baiman with poll results taken prior to the election by noted pollster Jon Zogby. The polls leading into the November 3 vote showed the referendum passing. But the official results claim it lost by 2:1."

"GOP senators press Obama on prescription drug imports: Two top Republicans are urging the Obama administration to open up access to imported prescription drugs to prevent steep hikes in drug prices. Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and John McCain (Ariz.) sent a letter on Monday asking Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to use her power under existing federal regulations to allow patients to directly purchase certain drugs, particularly those that have been subject to sharp price increases." But not a word about negotiating drug prices, of course.

"Wall Street: Democrats Work To Block New Regulations After Flood Of Campaign Cash."

Marcy Wheeler: "Obama Administration Changed the Rationale for Why Assassinations Don't Violate the Assassination Prohibition." I like the way they keep stressing domestic law, as if they are entitled to violate the law (and the Constitution!) as long as they do it somewhere else. They're not.

3 Men Charged In Plot to Bomb Black Churches

"Judge Gives Man 60 Years In Prison For Driving With Suspended License." This story is unclear about whether the sentence is the result of a mandatory minimum or the judge handed down a maximum that makes no sense.

After Endless Demonization Of Encryption, Police Find Paris Attackers Coordinated Via Unencrypted SMS

The US makes more unbelievable excuses for the airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital.

Former Drone Pilots to Obama: Civilian Killings Driving 'Terrorism, Instability'

"Dems call for ouster of Obama's drug chief: Several House Democrats are calling for the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to step aside after he referred to medical marijuana as a 'joke.'"

Scott Walker calls 'em in to see how to save money on health care. Doubt he'd do what they said, but if he did, he'd probably find some way to screw it up: "State could save $42 million a year through self-insurance, consultant says."

"Kentucky Restores Voting Rights for Thousands of Ex-Felons: Governor Steve Beshear, Democrat of Kentucky, only has two weeks left in office, but he's determined to go out with a bang. Beshear announced today that he is issuing an executive order restoring voting rights for nonviolent ex-felons who have completed their sentences. This will give 170,000 ex-offenders the opportunity to register to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice." This is great news, we need more states to restore felon voting rights - or not take them away at all. "In 1792, Kentucky became the first state to adopt a constitution preventing those with criminal convictions from being able to vote. Many states adopted felon voting bans after the Civil War, when African-Americans were granted the right to vote with the passage of the 15th Amendment. 'Felon voting restrictions were the first widespread set of legal disenfranchisement measures that would be imposed on African-Americans,' found a 2003 study from sociologists at the University of Minnesota and Northwestern."

David Neiwert, "The Fear: As Groundless Then As It Is Now" - It should be astonishing that anyone in government would use the internment of the Japanese in World War II as a justification for

"New Hampshire SEIU branch backs Sanders: The New Hampshire branch of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president, bucking the powerful labor group's international leadership. The endorsement from SEIU Local 1984 comes just two days after the international union backed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for president. "

Borowitz nails this one: "G.O.P. Unveils Immigration Plan: 'We Must Make America Somewhere No One Wants to Live'".

Rick Perry Loses, Ordered To Stand Trial For Felony Abuse Of Power

Public Citizen: "TPP Financial Stability Threats Unveiled: It's Worse than We Thought: Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch has carefully analyzed the Financial Services Chapter of the recently released Trans-Pacific Partnership. One story that has not been told about the TPP is how this first U.S. trade agreement negotiated since the global financial crisis would impose the same model of financial deregulation that is widely understood to have fueled the crisis. For the first time in any U.S. trade agreement, the TPP empowers some of the world's largest financial firms to challenge U.S. financial regulatory policies in extrajudicial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals using the broadest 'minimum standard of treatment' claim."

Sanders Says Pfizer-Allergan Merger 'Disaster' for Americans
* Pfizer-Allergan Merger: How Much Will U.S. Treasury Lose Out On In Taxes?

Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year

One year after: "Texas dad left paralyzed when cops beat him 'like a bunch of thugs' after mistaking him for drug suspect."

"The National Security State's Incestuous Relationship With Islamic State"

Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam

What is most remarkable about "In defence of Jeremy Corbyn" is not so much its content but the fact that it appears in the Spectator: "What strange people we Brits are. We spend years moaning that our politicians are cynical opportunists who don't stand for anything. Then along comes an opposition leader who has principles - and appears to stick by them even when it makes him unpopular - and he is dismissed as a joke. Jeremy Corbyn has been ridiculed in recent days for the feebleness of his foreign policy. It is widely agreed that his positions on terrorism and Isis show how unelectable and useless he is. At the same time, we say he is a grave threat to national security. But what has Corbyn said that is so stupid or dangerous? In the wake of the attacks in Paris, he declared that Britain 'must not be drawn into responses that feed the cycle of violence and hate'. He has urged his country not to 'keep making the same mistakes' in the Middle East, something he has been saying for decades. 'Enthusiasm for interventions has only multiplied the threats to us,' he says, not unreasonably. He has said he will not support airstrikes in Syria unless it is clear that military action will help us achieve our strategic objective of defeating Isis." It sure would be nice to see more of that in the Guardian.
* Similarly, Matthew Parris in The Times, unfortunately behind the paywall with "The bombs-away brigade are on autopilot." The teaser: Amazingly, Corbyn is right. The hawks just want to join a scrap with their mates and haven't a clue what happens afterwards 'If not now, when?' asked the prime minister this week: a question that has surely preceded some of the silliest decisions in history. It could have been asked before Iraq. It could have been asked before Afghanistan or Libya, or Suez. It was probably asked before the Charge of the Light Brigade. There is no right time for an unwise decision." Of course, if you want to read the whole thing, you could enlarge this tweet. It's actually pretty good, and a nice piece of writing.

Cannabis is a wonder drug, again. "The National Cancer Institute recently released its report on medical marijuana. The overview of their conclusion is, THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) caused a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer, remission in breast and liver cancer and more."

Juan Cole: "Why did Turkey dare shoot down a Russian Plane? The Proxy War in Syria"

"Tangled Threads of US False Narratives: Official Washington's many false narratives about Russia and Syria have gotten so tangled that they have become a danger to the struggle against Sunni jihadist terrorism and conceivably a threat to the future of the planet, a risk that Robert Parry explores."

The Difference Between Middlemen and A Real New Economy

At The New Yorker, the solution to our problems is Printing Money: "

Adolph Reed, "Identity Politics Is Neoliberalism [...] Sure, those earlier struggles relied on a discourse of racial justice, but their targets were concrete and strategic. It is only in a period of political demobilization that the historical specificities of those struggles have become smoothed out of sight in a romantic idealism that homogenizes them into timeless abstractions like 'the black liberation movement' - an entity that, like Brigadoon, sporadically appears and returns impelled by its own logic." This is a bit less accessible than most of the pieces I've seen by Reed on the subject, but there it is.

Somehow I missed the news that Dilbert's creator is like a parody of a male supremacist. Are you sure this isn't a comedy bit?

"The Incredible Tale of World War II's Single Deadliest Homefront Disaster: Chances are you've never heard of the Port Chicago disaster. Yet it was the worst catastrophe on the US home front during World War II. It was the single deadliest incident on the mainland during the war, and remains one of the worst calamities to ever hit the San Francisco Bay Area. Yet today, it largely lives on only in the memories of long-time locals who actually heard the blast, and, as we'll see, civil rights historians."

The UK government asked the public to comment on whether they want to make a complete mess of the NHS. Well, they sort of asked.

Pussy Riot releases video for 'Refugees In' filmed at Banksy's Dismaland.

It's just a tiny west African country, not central Africa where the problem has such deep roots (even in Christian countries), but it's a tiny, tiny start: "Gambia bans female genital mutilation."

I'm always hesitant about articles like this that try to divide people up into different red and blue psychologies, but ultimately, the conclusion is right: Bring them economic security and they will vote for it.

In 1941 Dr. Seuss sent a message that, sadly, hasn't lost its meaning.

Mack McCormick, Student of Texas Blues, Dies at 85: Mack McCormick, a folklorist who spent a lifetime searching out forgotten or unrecorded blues singers all over Texas, helped revive the career of Lightning Hopkins and unearthed a trove of historical material on hundreds of blues singers, including Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lead Belly, died on Nov. 18 at his home in Houston.

A 1950s Superman Poster Says What We All Need To Hear About American Values Right Now

This is an animal? It looks like canvas and plastic to me....

If girls were boys for a day...

This is sorta cute - Rumor joined by P.F. Sloan to back her up on "P.F. Sloan."

Antsy McClain & Tommy Smothers, "Prozac Made Me Stay" - Yep, that Tommy Smothers.

"Peace On Earth" - an oldie but a goodie.

00:03 GMT comment


Thursday, 19 November 2015

It looks like Heaven's lost an eye

Marcy Wheeler and Avedon Carol talked about the Paris attacks and the Democratic debates on Virtually Speaking Sundays. Marcy points out that Clinton's answer that the AUMF covers anything they might want to do (which it doesn't) is mission creep. Homework includes Marcy's article about Jihadi John and the strange mission creep of the CIA. (Sam Seder did a better job of unpacking the debate than I was able to on Mondays's MR show.) I also said that horrible people will use the tragedy in Paris to do horrible things - for example, "Cameron shamelessly exploits Paris tragedy to increase spying on all of us."

Everybody else is doing fundraisers, but much as I may need any funds I can get my hands on, I am just too tired to deal with PayPal's limit right now, so if you were planning to send my account anything, please wait until January.

Just go read Charlie Pierce, who isn't afraid to point the finger at Saudi Arabia - and Hillary Clinton: "The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated act of war. They were a brilliantly coordinated act of pure terrorism, beyond rhyme but not beyond reason. They struck at the most cosmopolitan parts of the most cosmopolitan city in the world. They struck out at assorted sectors of western popular culture. They struck out at sports, at pop music, and at simple casual dining. They struck out at an ordinary Friday night's entertainment. The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated statement of political and social purpose, its intent clear and unmistakable. The attacks were a brilliantly coordinated act of fanatical ideological and theological Puritanism, brewed up in the dark precincts of another of mankind's monotheisms. They were not the first of these. (The closest parallel to what happened in Paris is what happened in Mumbai in 2008. In fact, Mumbai went on alert almost immediately after the news broke.) They, alas, are likely not going to be the last. [...] Abandoning the Enlightenment values that produced democracy will not plumb the depths of the vestigial authoritarian impulse that resides in us all, the wish for kings, the desire for order, to be governed, and not to govern. Flexing and posturing and empty venting will not cure the deep sickness in the human spirit that leads people to slaughter the innocent in the middle of a weekend's laughter. The expression of bigotry and hatred will not solve the deep desperation in the human heart that leads people to kill their fellow human beings and then blow themselves up as a final act of murderous vengeance against those they perceive to be their enemies, seen and unseen, real and imagined. Tough talk in the context of what happened in Paris is as empty as a bell rung at the bottom of a well."
* Glenn Greenwald: "Exploiting Emotions About Paris to Blame Snowden, Distract from Actual Culprits Who Empowered ISIS" - Oddly, he didn't mention that Hatch had been telling the press we'd been tracking terrorists cellphones, way back in the '90s.
* Hezbollah chief denounces Paris attacks
* Muslims Around the World Are Condemning the Paris Attacks: Outpouring of grief shared by people of all faiths and no faith.
* Just in case you haven't seen it, Jean Jullien's graphic.
* What's really happened: Political author Gearoid O Colmain discusses the Paris attacks with RT International.
* Yes, I know about Beirut, but this is the one that captured the imagination of the media and the pols.
* Oliver Willis won the internet with this tweet: "if only we had a seasonally appropriate story about middle eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless."

Democratic Debate FULL Democratic Debate CBS 11/14/15 Democratic presidential Debate
* Not sure what kind of a "point" it is when Hillary says there's no international comparison so she supports $12 an hour instead of $15. What does that even mean?
* The 9/11 response about Wall Street set off my slap response. It's okay to be in Wall Street's pocket because of 9/11 and women? Seriously?
* No, actually, I don't think Obama deserves more credit for what he's got done despite Republican obstruction. The Republicans did not stop him from using the TARP money he still hasn't used for home-owner relief. They didn't force him to interfere with prosecutions of bankster fraud. They didn't make him declare that a president has the power to murder Americans without trial and they didn't make him go out and murder them. They didn't make him keep bringing up cutting "entitlements" over and over, push for it, and promote stupid ideas like chained CPI.
* McClatchy, "Clinton on the defensive as debate turns to terrorism."
* Bernie Highlight: "I'm Not That Much Of A Socialist Compared To Eisenhower."
* Contra Clinton, Top Economists Are Backing Sen. Bernie Sanders on Establishing a $15 an Hour Minimum Wage.

There are a number of articles like "Democratic Party Hopes No One Watches Democratic Debates" and "Did You Know There's a Dem Debate Tonight? No, Because Debbie Doesn't Want You To" floating around, but what's really strange is the Hillary partisans leaping up to defend the idea of fewer debates, as if Democrats should be happy about having fewer opportunities to make their case on national television. Look, if all you want to hear about is what Republicans have to say, we do that all year long.
* "Former Democratic Chairs Deny Consulting on Debate Schedule."

Charlie Pierce says, "The Best Speech in Iowa Didn't Come From Hillary or Bernie: It came from Dr. Cornel West."

In new shock poll, Sanders has landslides over both Trump and Bush: "In a new McClatchy-Marist poll, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) leads Republican candidate Donald Trump by a landslide margin of 12 percentage points, 53 to 41. In the McClatchy poll, Sanders also leads former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) by a landslide margin of 10 points, 51 to 41."
* "Why Sanders defeats Trump, but Trump defeats Clinton"
* Bernie Sanders exceeds Obama's historic 2008 run in crowds, donors and polling
* Bernie Sanders Won the Debate. Hillary Clinton Evoked 9/11 and Sounded Like A Republican.

"'Fifteen Bucks and a Union': Bernie Sanders Marches With Striking Workers."
* "Not For What He 'Says' But For What He Has 'Done,' Postal Workers Endorse Sanders: Declaring that 'politics as usual has not worked' and 'enough is enough,' the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) announced its endorsement of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Thursday morning, saying the longest-serving independent in the U.S. Congress is the best candidate of the entire 2016 field. 'We should judge candidates not by their political party, not by what they say, not by what we think they stand for, but by what they do," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. "Applying that criteria, Sen. Bernie Sanders stands above all others as a true champion of postal workers and other workers throughout the country.'"

"Nina Turner changes her mind on Hillary Clinton, endorses Bernie Sanders for president: CLEVELAND, Ohio - Nina Turner, the former state senator from Cleveland and a top Ohio Democratic Party official, is ditching Hillary Clinton in favor of Bernie Sanders."

Open Letter to Hillary Clinton from a Young Palestinian Feminist

Rand Paul Challenges Bernie Sanders To Hour-Long Debate On Socialism vs. Capitalism.

Kentucky demands a public hand count of every ballot that was cast for Governor on November 3rd

AFSCME union endorses Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate - This makes no sense, Murphy is terrible and votes like a Republican. And he's running against Grayson.
* Of course, Florida Democrats are on that page, too, attacking Grayson for opposing Murphy. Make it stop.

Bloomberg: "GOP Says Big Banks Are Bad (But Don't Touch Them). It came through loud and clear in Tuesday's presidential debate: Republicans don't like Wall Street. They don't like its behavior before the 2008 financial meltdown. They don't like the bailouts that followed. And they don't like the financial power the biggest banks still wield. Here's the snag: Their contempt for Wall Street is exceeded only by their contempt for regulating Wall Street."

The Young Turks on the best line of the GOP debate.

"Obama Administration Approves Pipeline Expansion Set to Feed First Ever Fracked Gas LNG Export Terminal."

We Just Sold Another Billion Dollars Worth of Weapons to Our Frenemies in Saudi Arabia.

The Supreme Court Just Agreed to Hear a Case that Could Destroy Roe v. Wade.

The video that might rip Chicago apart - and why you need to see it

10 Shocking Realities of the TPP; Join The Revolt
* "'A Very Big Mistake': Joseph Stiglitz Slams Obama for Pushing the TPP: 'This is about who makes the rules of trade - the American people or the corporations.' [...] Yeah, so, in a sense, what you see both in the Republican and Democratic Party is a sense that something is wrong. You know, America was the first middle-class society. We're about to become the first society that ceases to be a middle-class society."
* Release of TPP Full Text Shows Victory for Corporate Rights

Supreme Court gives broader immunity to police using deadly force in chases.

Dissent Breaks Out at the Center for American Progress Over Netanyahu's Visit
* 10 Falsehoods That Netanyahu Told During His Appearance At CAP

"To Break Big Pharma's Stranglehold, Doctors Vote for Ban on Drug Ads: Prescription drug prices have already become a presidential campaign issue, with healthcare costs a top concern for American voters. In an attempt to combat the soaring cost of prescription drugs and Big Pharma's stranglehold on the U.S. healthcare system, the American Medical Association (AMA) has approved a new policy to 'support a ban on direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs and implantable medical devices.' 'Today's vote in support of an advertising ban reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially-driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices,' said AMA board chair-elect Patrice Harris, M.D., in a press statement on Tuesday. The vote took place at the AMA's 2015 Interim Meeting in Atlanta."

"Thousands To Leave LDS Church In Mass Resignation: As one of the sponsors of Proposition 8 during the 2004 election cycle, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has never exactly stood at the vanguard of human rights for LGBTQ Americans. But a new policy to ban christenings for the children of same-sex couples, and excommunicate Mormons who are married to the 'wrong' gender, seems to be the final straw for thousands of people."
* Thousands Quit Mormon Church in Mass Resignation

Mile High Comics Sells A Warehouse Thanks To Marijuana Laws

"Europe Drops Charges Against Edward Snowden, Offers Asylum And Protection: The European Parliament voted to offer Edward Snowden asylum and protection and drop all criminal charges against him. When at one time most of the world was bullied by the US government into pressing charges against Snowden and forcing him into exile, the entire European continent has now officially given him a pass."

Just in case I haven't ragged on the ACA enough lately, The New York Times is doing it for me: "Many Say High Deductibles Make Their Health Law Insurance All but Useless" That's right, you pay thousands of dollars for our medical system in taxes, then you pay more for your insurance premiums, and then when you need it, you find you can't afford to use it. Like Ian says, it's a feature, not a bug.

At this point, I really wouldn't blame anyone for concluding that Doctors Without Borders' hospital was deliberately attacked by the US.

"Daily Life in the Islamic State: The Caliphate runs theme parks, collects taxes and picks up the garbage. Many in the West think of the Islamic State as a loose collection of fighters - rabble who kill, loot and burn. But the truth is more complex though no less terrifying."

What Is Democratic Socialism?

"Demographics and Productivity: News reports continue to obsess over the idea that China and other countries might run out of people if they don't increase their birth rates. The implication is that countries won't have enough people to do the necessary work to support a larger population of retirees. (It's worth noting that many of these same people worry about robots taking all the jobs. If it's not obvious that these concerns are 180 degrees opposite then think about it until it is.)"

"Why Don't We Know Much About Right-Wing Terrorists? Conservatives Fired The Guy Studying Them."

Reza Aslan Slams Bill Maher for Facile Arguments' About Muslim Violence
* Reza Aslan on The Jesus of History versus the Christ of Faith - This is really fascinating historical stuff you didn't know, highly recommended.

Tom Tomorrow on the Republican debates.

RIP:
* P.F. Sloan, 1945-1915, legendary singer-songwriter who Dylan and others credited with helping make their own careers possible at a time when recording companies were hostile to letting songwriters perform their own work. His was the original voice on the Grass Roots hit "Where Were You When I Needed You" before the record company withdrew the record and had it re-recorded without Phil's voice. (Simels also reminds us that The Bangles did a good cover of this song.) He wrote numerous hit songs starting when he was just 14, recorded by numerous artists, most notably Barry MacGuire, who made a major hit of his "Eve of Destruction" - the first protest song to hit number 1. When Sloan played that song for the record company, they told him if he played it for anyone, they'd suspend his royalties. They did. Sloan has a credit (with a little tiny picture) on the back cover of the first Mothers album, and told Brian Wilson about suspension chords. He played the famous intro to "California Dreaming" that everyone thinks Papa John played. When the British television show Danger Man came to American TV as Secret Agent, Sloan wrote the new title song, performed by Johnny Rivers. A surprisingly wide range of acts covered his music, from Jan & Dean ("The Little Old Lady From Pasadena", "Here They Come (From All Over The World) The Theme to the T.A.M.I Show", "I Found A Girl"), The Turtles ("Let Me Be", "You Baby"), The Searchers' - and the title song to the Herman's Hermits movie Hold On, as well as a couple of other covers, appearing on the movie's soundtrack. There was a period where songs written by P.F. Sloan & Steve Barri filled the airwaves. And of course, Jimmy Web wrote "P.F. Sloan". Longtime readers of The Sideshow will recall that I've loved this guy for a long time, and when I finally met him in London a few years ago, he was very sweet to me. So this is one that hurts. You might also remember that "From a Distance" was one of my favorites. And another victim of pancreatic cancer.
* Warren Mitchell, 89, the actor who played Alf Garnett in the BBC's Till Death Us Do Part - the show that inspired Norman Lear's All in the Family - and the follow-on In Sickness and in Health. Garnett was nowhere near as loveably-drawn as Archie Bunker was, but there were still plenty of viewers who identified with him. "Comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted: 'Alf Garnett was one of the most influential and important characters and performances in comedy history. RIP Warren Mitchell.' Theatre director Rupert Goold wrote: 'RIP Warren Mitchell. A deeply soulful and erudite man who genuinely loved the theatre.'"

The 'middle class' myth: Here's why wages are really so low today: Want to understand the failures of the "free market" and the key to getting a decent wage? Here's the real story" - Short version, it's about unions. Organize. "Slaughterhouses insist they hire immigrants because the work is so unpleasant Americans won't do it. They hired European immigrants when Upton Sinclair wrote 'The Jungle,' and they hire Latin American immigrants today. But it's a canard that Americans won't slaughter pigs, sheep and cows. How do we know this? Because immigration to the United States was more or less banned from 1925 to 1965, and millions of pigs, sheep and cows were slaughtered during those years. But they were slaughtered by American-born workers, earning middle-class wages."

Wait, so the real first black president was... Dwight D. Eisenhower? Or were there some even earlier?

6 Ways Albert Einstein Fought for Civil Rights

New London Tube Map Shows How Long It Takes to Walk, Not Ride a Train. Hmph. Still doesn't show you how close Bayswater is to Queensway.

16th-Century Gothic Chapel Turned Into Starry Night Sky

Watch Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman In Manhattan Beach, In December: In 2005, Joss Whedon was hired to write and direct a live action Wonder Woman movie. It didn't happen. So he left the project and wrote and directed The Avengers instead. And everyone at Warners performed the world's biggest simultaneous facepalm. Well, Manhattan Beach comic book store The Comic Bug got a copy of the screenplay. And, with Jennifer Wenger, Curtis Fortier, Adam Marcus and Debra Sullivan and more, they will be performing the whole screenplay for the audience who attend. It's free to turn up, with popcorn and drinks, and is a sequel event to last year's Indiana Jones and the City of the Gods performance."

03:33 GMT comment


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Glad all over

Happy Dawali - the Festival of Lights, or "the Festival of Loud Bangs," as we know it here, started tonight, and it was like a war zone out there with all the fireworks going off.

Digby and Gaius Publius discussed "Rachel Maddow and the Democratic forum in South Carolina; climate change developments: Keystone, ExxonMobil, RICO; the increasingly bizarre Ben Carson." on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

TPP is released; Bernie Sanders says "Now that the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has finally been released, it is even worse than I thought. It is clear to me that the proposed agreement is not, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements."
* Mass Mobilization To Stop The TPP Announced, As Text Is Released
* And here it is! "The Transpacific Partnership: Leveling the playing field for American workers & American businesses." Yeah, right.

Brad Friedman wants to know if the Kentucky governor's race was stolen: "Lower down the ballot, many Democrats got tens of thousands more votes than Bevin. We see, again, the nightmare scenario I've warned about for so many years: a U.S. election where all of the pre-election polls suggest Candidate X is set to win, but Candidate Y ends up winning by a huge margin instead and nobody even bothers to verify that the computer tabulated results accurately reflect the intent of the voters." I'm saying this again: If Democrats aren't willing to fight for clean elections, you can blame them for the losses, because the GOP would not be doing this stuff if Dems were putting up a fight. That goes for gerrymandering, too. People need to stop telling themselves fairy stories about why we keep losing elections and start doing something about why we keep losing elections, and one of those reasons is that the Democratic leadership likes having Republicans around to blame their crummy policies on. Paper ballots, publicly hand-counted on the night, people.

"Salt Lake City Elects Utah's First Gay Mayor: Salt Lake City voters elected Jackie Biskupski as Utah's first openly gay mayor and only the second female top executive in the capital city, according to the unofficial election-night count."

Mathematician suspicious of election fraud hires lawyer to force Kansas to hand over voting records: A Kansas mathematician said this week that she had retained a lawyer and had scheduled a discovery hearing to force Secretary of State Kris Kobach to hand over voting records after they showed evidence of election fraud. 'I don't understand why those patterns are there, the patterns are very definitely real. But we don't know what's causing them or why they're there,' Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson told KSHB last month. 'They do fit what would be expected if election fraud is occurring, and that's very concerning.' [...] Kobach, however, went to court to block Sedgwick County from releasing voting records to Clarkson." Now, why would that be?

"Christian pregnancy centers freak out after California turns tables and forces them to disclose abortion rights."

Budget Deal Fine Print Axes Benefit for Married Social Security Beneficiaries

"Clinton proposes $12 federal minimum wage: CORALVILLE, Iowa - Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday the federal minimum wage should be $12 an hour. Clinton said that figure would roughly match in today's dollars what the federal minimum wage was in 1968, the time when it was highest in terms of buying power." Except that if the minimum wage had actually kept up since then, it would be more like $21. So why is she saying $12? Why, she wants to show how moderate she is, asking for less than all those crazy lefties like Bernie Sanders and everyone else, dammit.

"There Is No Reasonable Case To Be Made For A Democratic Take Back Of The House, Not While Steve Israel Is Still There: There is virtually no serious coverage of the colossal failure of the DCCC under Chris Van Hollen and Steve Israel, two incompetent Pelosi allies who have presided over the loss of dozens of Democratic House seats in 2010, 2012 and 2014-- and for countless missed opportunities." The real reason Democrats keep losing seats is sabotage from the top of the party.

The National Journal has an important and illuminating article by John Judis on The Return of the Middle American Radical ("An intellectual history of Trump supporters") that everyone really ought to read, because I think these people can be reached.

"Sanders: I hate missing Senate votes: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says he does not like missing Senate votes due to his 2016 Democratic presidential campaign. 'My job [that] I'm paid to do right now is to represent the people of the state of Vermont in the United States Senate,' he said on MSNBC's 'Andrea Mitchell Reports. 'I will miss votes, but I'm trying to miss as few as I possibly can. I am extraordinarily proud to represent my great state in the Senate," Sanders continued. 'We're working very hard on a number of issues,' he added. "And while it is difficult and very time-consuming to be a full-time candidate and to be a full-time senator, that is at the moment what I'm trying to do.' Sanders was responding to a question about Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) track record in the Senate. Rubio, a GOP presidential candidate, has come under bipartisan fire for missing votes for campaign events."

I would truly love to believe in the predictive infallibility of Western Illinois University's mock election, what with it giving Bernie Sanders an overwhelming victory. For some reason, though, I just don't. "History of the Mock Presidential Election: This simulation always takes place the year before the presidential election year, and three months before the actual Iowa caucuses. The genesis of this mock presidential election began at the University of Iowa in 1975 with two political science doctoral students, John Hemingway and Rick Hardy. In that year, students selected Jimmy Carter over Gerald Ford - long before anyone really knew of Jimmy Carter. In the years that followed, Rick Hardy expanded the format and engaged thousands of students at the University of Missouri-Columbia where students registered a perfect record of selecting the subsequent winning presidential party. In 2007 and 2011, Hardy and Hemingway teamed up again to conduct a massive campus-wide simulation at Western Illinois University. In 2007, Western students selected Barack Obama as president at a time when no one thought he could win! And, in 2011, students narrowly re-elected President Obama over the GOP ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan! How's that for reality!"

2 Louisiana Officers Charged With Second-Degree Murder in Killing of Boy, 6

Bernie Sanders on Israel and the Palestinians - He's still a two-state solution man, but at least he doesn't cheer when Palestinians get killed.

"Hillary Clinton's 2008 position on gun control wasn't what it is now."

Leaked Emails From Pro-Clinton Group Reveal Censorship of Staff on Israel, AIPAC Pandering, Warped Militarism

Wow, Matt Bruening really doesn't like Hillary, he says, "My beef with Hillary is mainly that she is an enemy of the poor."

Atrios found this one a few days back and I'm starting to think the Guardian needs to label these things as their "The Tories Speak for Labour" columns.

Cocaine Production Plummets After DEA Kicked Out of Bolivia

Charlie Pierce: "Here's a plan. Stop sending weaponry to a place if you can't keep track of it. Stop trying to sort out which people doing the slaughtering are the Good People doing the slaughtering. Best as I can figure out, we're supporting some people in Iraq that we're opposing in Syria, and vice versa, and now it seems we're arming all sides, occasionally by accident. I don't mean to shout, but, honestly...? They lost four Hueys? They lost a CN-235? A CN-235 is 70 goddamn feet long! Have they checked under the cushions of the sofa? This would all be funny if, you know, it were funny."

"How and why MI5 kept phone data spy programme secret"

"Only three states score higher than D+ in State Integrity Investigation; 11 flunk."

"NASA just saw something come out of a black hole for the first time ever ."

Neoliberalism's War on Workers: An Interview With Peter Fleming

Verso announces book "From leading feminist figures like Roxane Gay and Barbara Ehrenreich to a new generation of young women writers and thinkers" about False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Fear Of The Walking Dead: The American Police State Takes Aim While zombies may be the personification of our darkest fears, they embody the government's paranoia about the citizenry as potential threats that need to be monitored, tracked, surveilled, sequestered, deterred, vanquished and rendered impotent."

Naomi Klein's interview with Johann Hari: Does Capitalism Drive Drug Addiction?

"Confessions of a Paywall Journalist: Thanks to a booming trade press, lobbyists and other insiders know what's happening in government. The rest of the country, not so much."

"Remembered, Remembered, The Fifth Of Novembered" - the Million Mask March.

Men Just Don't Trust Women -- And It's A Huge Problem

A glowing review of Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan

Remembering Cleveland's Muhammad Ali Summit, 45 years later - mouseover the faces if you can't remember them all.

Eugene V. Debs and American socialism, a brief history.

50% female cabinet appointments lead to 5000% increase in guys who suddenly care about merit in cabinet.

You might recognize the name of the late Augustus Owsley Stanley III for other things, but he made lots of recordings of the music scene and they're all on tape and need to be digitized before they crumble. Spread the word and help preserve the works of the Grateful Dead, Big Brother, and a lot of other acts that he recorded.

The first ever photograph of light as both a particle and wave

I actually think The Huffington Post has a lot of nerve asking writers to let them use their work for free. Someone is making money off that site, and it should be the contributors, but it isn't, they aren't even paying their bills.

Bill Maher to Poor People: Stop Thinking Your Interests are the Same as the Rich - Yeah, it's Bill Maher, but this is good stuff.

Brave New Films, Whistleblower: Halliburton provided contaminated water to Soldiers

You won't learn anything illuminating from this, but I had fun watching these two windbags slugging it out.

RICHARD NIXON TAPES: Archie Bunker & Homosexuality

"'It's going to be okay.' He told her this as he watched the engine continue to burn. He told her this as he watched it fall from the plane. He told her this as the fuel lines became exposed, fire overtook the aircraft, and the plane pitched downward. He told her this knowing that every single person on that plane was about to die." Now read the rest. Really.

The Clara Theory of this Doctor Who arc

This Holiday Greeting Flowchart should help you out with Bill O'Reilly's War On The Spirit of Christmas.

Of course, you could just buy a little stool, but then we'd miss the beauty and wonder of this ad.

Rich McCor's cut-outs

Share if you agree!

The one Christmas thing you have to do in November is shop for your Advent Calendar. I don't think I'll be getting this one but I know people who'd love it. And then there's this one. Oh, wait, there's more!

Filling in the gaps in the works of Thomas Kincaid

Chalkboard art

Well, lookee there, Google celebrates Adolph Sax.
* Oh, that reminds me, they did a little game for Halloween.

Lil Buck and Yo-Yo Ma: The Swan

Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale, live in Denmark 2006

How Dave Clark mostly wrote one of the most successful bands of the British Invasion out of pop music history.

03:02 GMT comment


Thursday, 05 November 2015

And they wither with the wind, and they crumble in your hand

Stuart Zechman and Cliff Schecter discussed "the GOP debate turmoil & NBC; Gun Control/Gun Safety & American Liberty," on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Bernie Sanders releases his first TV ad.
* This is how NBC reported it.

Bernie Sanders on the Senate floor on marijuana arrests and mass imprisonment.

"Dems have 'strong disagreement' on Social Security, Sanders says."

Republicans had a fit when debate questioners didn't tip-toe around them enough and have withdrawn their agreement with NBC for further debates, thus opening up a slot Democrats may be stepping into. That would add one for the Dems, which should make a lot of people happy. (The Republican hissy-fit also gave Obama another couple of punch-lines in his stand-up routine.)

Matt Taibbi: "The Case for Bernie Sanders: His critics say he's not realistic - but they have it backwards. [...] Sanders is a clear outlier in a generation that has forgotten what it means to be a public servant. The Times remarks upon his "grumpy demeanor." But Bernie is grumpy because he's thinking about vets who need surgeries, guest workers who've had their wages ripped off, kids without access to dentists or some other godforsaken problem that most of us normal people can care about for maybe a few minutes on a good day, but Bernie worries about more or less all the time. I first met Bernie Sanders ten years ago, and I don't believe there's anything else he really thinks about. There's no other endgame for him. He's not looking for a book deal or a membership in a Martha's Vineyard golf club or a cameo in a Guy Ritchie movie. This election isn't a game to him; it's not the awesomely repulsive dark joke it is to me and many others. And the only reason this attention-averse, sometimes socially uncomfortable person is subjecting himself to this asinine process is because he genuinely believes the system is not beyond repair."

"Hillary Clinton: Being pro-business doesn't mean hanging consumers out to dry." She's right about this - monopoly capitalism is toxic.

David Sirota and Andrew Perez: "Hillary Clinton Demands Probe of Exxon After Oil Giant Stops Funding Clinton Foundation: Hillary Clinton is now supporting a federal investigation of ExxonMobil following the latest disclosures that the giant oil company worked to hide the effects of climate change. Her call for an investigation comes only months after the company decided to stop sponsoring her family's foundation. The Clinton Foundation has accepted at least $1 million from ExxonMobil, despite the company's history of financing challenges to climate science. And Clinton's State Department touted ExxonMobil as an example of how America should look at Iraq as 'a business opportunity.'"

"Make no mistake: A vote for Hillary is a vote for war: It is no great secret that Hillary Clinton is a hawk when it comes to foreign policy and the use of force. Even the right agrees, calling her the 'ultimate hawk ... who has supported every single major American military intervention since 1992.' Are we prepared to vote into office the ultimate hawk? For the reasons I describe below, I believe that a vote for Ms. Clinton means more war. We all know about Ms. Clinton's vote to authorize President Bush to use force in Iraq, which, even after several years of hemming and hawing, she has now admitted was a mistake. But does that reluctant admission signal that she would do anything differently if she had to do it all again? Not if her hawkishness as Secretary of State, Senator, and First Lady is any indication."

"Hillary Clinton's Empowerment: Hillary Clinton isn't a champion of women's rights. She's the embodiment of corporate feminism."

"Hillary Might Be Better Off Next Nov. If She Doesn't Allow EMILY's List To Offend Bernie's Supporters With Their Ugly, Aggressive Lies."

"The betrayal that should haunt Hillary Clinton: How she sold out working women & then never apologized [...] "Clinton wrote that 'too many of those on welfare had known nothing but dependency all their lives.' She suggested that women recipients were 'sitting around the house doing nothing.' She described the 'move from welfare to work' as 'the transition from dependency to dignity.' Or a 'substitute dignity for dependence.' Put more simply, she stated, 'these people are no longer deadbeats - they're actually out there being productive.' In sum, she has frequently validated a pathologization of poor black women that has often served as a pretext for Republican assaults on the social safety net. She has not repudiated these remarks."

Third Way panics over Bernie Sanders. This is Thom Hartmann unpacking Third Way for listeners, but when he reads the list of who they are, well, I bet you can guess what the two little words were that made me go, "What?"

The loathesome Chris Christie says something true and right and human about drugs. I have to say I was stunned, because this is a really good speech I never could have imagined coming from him.

"Washington Post reporter removed from meeting with Kerry: A correspondent for the Washington Post was escorted out of a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov on Sunday. Carol Morrello asked a question about the State Department's critique of the Uzbek record on human rights, according to Reuters."

"After Listening To Women, Longtime Anti-Abortion Congressman Becomes Pro-Choice." Blue Dog Tim Ryan has a change of heart. "Tim Ryan, once one of the extreme voices against legal abortion is now speaking up in defense of keeping it legal. And all it took to change his mind was a real conversation with women." Not even sure what to say about this, except that, once again, it proves that sometimes you really can talk to them and change their minds.

Ohio votes against legalizing marijuana monopolies. "Ohio voted Tuesday against legalizing recreational and medical marijuana via an amendment to the state's constitution, shooting down a proposal to grant a small number of wealthy investors sole permission to operate commercial marijuana farms."

Oklahoma: "State Law Makes it a Felony to Touch a Police Officer Even Off-Duty and Out of Uniform [...] The law, which passed the legislature unanimously (always a bad sign), went into effect on November 1. In effect, this measure extends the cloak of 'qualified immunity' to cover every aspect of a law enforcement officer's life." So now they have a licence to run around starting bar fights and arresting their victims.

"Chicago police use 'heat list' as strategy to prevent violence: Officials generate analysis to predict who will likely be involved in crime, as perpetrator or victim, and go door to door to issue warnings: Robert McDaniel was puzzled when the Chicago police commander dropped by his West Side home unannounced last month. The visit was cordial, but Barbara West's message was clear: Don't commit any more crimes or face the consequences. Revealing that she had a folder on him back on her office desk, West told the 22-year-old that she knew his best friend had been slain last year in their crime-plagued Austin community. She cautioned that he could meet the same fate if he didn't change his ways. McDaniel, who has multiple arrests on suspicion of minor offenses but only one misdemeanor conviction, learned to his surprise that he had made the so-called "heat list" with more than 400 others across the city who have been deemed by the department to be most prone to violence - either as a perpetrator or victim. 'I haven't done nothing that the next kid growing up hadn't done. Smoke weed. Shoot dice. Like seriously?' an incredulous McDaniel said while recalling the recent visit from police brass with a Tribune reporter.

"New Hampshire Man Arrested For Parking In 'Predictive Hot Spot': Eighteen year-old Connor Deleire may be the first person to go to jail for parking his car in a 'predictive hot spot', an area determined likely to be a target of crime by a computer program. Minority Report seemed outlandish in its time, however many believe its day has arrived. On October 20, 2015, Connor parked his car on Merrimack Street in Manchester, New Hampshire, near Union St. What Connor didn't know was that the area he parked in had been labeled a 'hot spot' for crime and had been allotted increased patrols."

"Police Say Tasering 8-Year-Old Native American Girl Was Justified [...] Four police officers decided that this young girl who had a small paring knife was 'a danger to herself,' requiring them to taser her. "

This is the kid who took the video of Ben Fields assaulting a student, and he says the girl hadn't done anything wrong and the cop was already planning to get physical when he walked in.

"Denver Police Arrest 10 Activists, Destroy Tiny Homes They Built For The Homeless: On October 24, about 70 Denver Police Department and Denver Sheriff's Department officers, including swat units, arrested 10 homeless activists for trying to set up a 'tiny homes' village for city's homeless at Sustainability Park without proper permits. The riot police then destroyed several tiny homes created by Denver Homeless Out Loud (DHOL) - a group 'composed of homeless people and supporters'. [...] According to the activists, the Denver Housing Authority, which owns the property, had initially removed hundreds of low-income housing units to create the park. Now the Authority plans to sell the land, currently used by three urban farms, to a private developer, 'who will build multifamily housing that will support gentrification in Curtis Park but be far beyond the reach of those for whom the Authority is supposed to exist'."

"'Absolute Crap' But Brilliant: Corporate America's Plan to 'Misbehave Without Reproach': An independent investigation by journalists featured in the New York Times on Sunday offers an in-depth look at the way American corporations have used the inclusion of "arbitration clauses" within consumer contracts to strategically circumvent judicial review of their behavior and immunize themselves from class action lawsuits - 'realistically the only tool citizens have to fight illegal or deceitful business practices.' [...] However - and despite the success of their stratefic effort - Paul Wallis, a business observer writing for the Digital Journal responded to the Times investigation by arguing that even as this trend to immobilize consumers with arbitration clauses show that corporate crime is again 'on the rampage' in the United States, the whole legal concept is actually built on a fallacy. Though acknowledging business interests have used the strategy brilliantly to their advantage, the other way to look at contract arbitration is by recognizing that it is 'absolute crap, from start to finish.'" He says, "Therefore, actions taken under that contract are not immune to prosecution or other legal processes. You can't shoot someone or rob a bank and say 'It's OK, I have a contract.'"
* "Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Unconstitutional? [...] As it presses for the passage of TPP, the administration needs to explain how the Constitution allows the United States to agree to submit the validity of its federal, state, and local laws to three private arbitrators, with no possibility of review by any U.S. court. Otherwise, it risks securing a trade agreement that won't survive judicial scrutiny, or, even worse, which will undermine the structural protections that an independent federal judiciary was created to ensure."
* "In Arbitration, a 'Privatization of the Justice System' [...] The change has been swift and virtually unnoticed, even though it has meant that tens of millions of Americans have lost a fundamental right: their day in court."

Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century: "This paper documents a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround."

"A proven way to reduce poverty? Give poor people money."

Human rights group in Berlin starts process of indicting Bush administration officials for war crimes.

The Mystery of the Vanishing Pay Raise

Barry Ritholtz, "Money Managers Go on Offense Against Speed Traders: Stock exchanges once were operated as not-for-profit public utilities, managing the listing and trading of companies in the public marketplace. Today, they have morphed into rent-seeking, publicly traded companies in the zero-sum game of executing orders."

Students at Airline High say Christianity is being shoved down their throats while "Christians" claim to be under siege. "During health class, students at Airline High, a public school in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, read Bible passages, and their teacher asks them to identify their favorite verses. Airline students told me they are taught creationism as science and pressured into attending Fellowship of Christian Athletes club meetings. During gym class, girls are warned against contraception by a 'born again virgin' from the local crisis pregnancy center, a Christian anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-premarital-sex advocacy center.".

"Ireland to 'decriminalise' small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis, for personal use" - but only for users; you still won't be able to find a legal source.

I'm not enthusiastic about articles that insist nothing can be changed, but sometimes they are worth looking at for they key to what has to be changed. From The Boston Globe, "Vote all you want. The secret government won't change."

10 Of The Worst Moments From Morning Joe's Fawning Koch Brothers Interview

60 Minutes rips off Sam Quinones. He says he pitched his story to them and they turned him down - and then just plain stole it.

RIP:Fred Thompson, actor and legislator, living embodiment of everything that was wrong with Law & Order.

Can Gitmo ever be closed?

Forget the Bacon: Living in Poverty Means You Have An Advanced Risk of Getting Cancer

"Holy Crap, They Are Officially Making a New Star Trek TV Series."

"An Oscar-Nominated Short Film of John Lennon's Ramblings: A lot of people didn't want John Lennon to enter America, he told a teenage fan in 1969: "They think I'm going to cause a violent revolution, which I'm not." 14-year-old Jerry Levitan had snuck into Lennon's Toronto hotel room with a tape recorder and probed the English singer about the state of the Beatles, their dwindling American fan base, and the meaning behind his music. In 2007, the conversation was animated by James Braithwaite and turned into a short film, I Met the Walrus, which went on to win an Emmy and be nominated for an Oscar."

Elephants vs. giant pumpkins

Google Halloween doodle game

Ballerina pole-dance

"Leaves That Are Green"

15:22 GMT comment


Saturday, 31 October 2015

We all want to change the world

"EU Parliament Votes To Drop Charges Against Snowden: They also encouraged members to block his extradition 'in recognition of his status as a whistleblower and human rights defender.'"
* United Nations comes out in support of whistleblower protections.

"CISA Overwhelmingly Passes, 74-21" - Marcy Wheeler says the Senate has embraced "a truly awful bill."

John Nichols at The Nation: "Bernie Sanders Is Actually Quite Serious About This 'Political Revolution' Thing: With a rock concert, a rally and a key speech in Iowa, the insurgent signals that he intends to remain an insurgent."
* Harold Meyerson, "Can Bernie Sanders's followers create a true leftist movement? [...] When Sanders says - as he does in every speech - that he's seeking to build 'a revolution,' that's not just rhetoric. What Sanders understands in his bones is that every period of progressive reform in U.S. history has come as a result of massive street heat, of energized movements that push policymaking elites to the left.
* Sam Seder on Ring of Fire: Bernie Sanders - How He Should Discuss Democratic Socialism. (Actually, it's not that hard - democratic socialism is what we used to call "democracy" and it's all right there in the Preamble of the Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.")
* "Slow Burn: Bernie Sanders Ignites a Populist Movement."
* "Bernie Gets It Done: Sanders' Record of Pushing Through Major Reforms Will Surprise You."

"There Are Plenty Of Differences Between Bernie's Record And Hillary's."

Medea Benjamin, "Hillary Clinton Hasn't Learned a Thing from Iraq: The former secretary of state could shatter the glass ceiling for women, but she'd leave the old boys' military-industrial complex intact."

"Hillary Clinton Comes Out Against Abolishing the Death Penalty." I'm sure she thought she was saying something more "nuanced", but anyone who can think their way out of a paper bag knows that is just the sort of thinking that gave us Texas governors who try to set the record for killing the most people. Are there "certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty"? Possibly those police officers and prosecutors who lie or withhold evidence that would exonerate the innocent raise the question, but without the certain knowledge that such people would be found, prosecuted, and executed, you can't even start to talk about "egregious".
* "Clinton Throws Out Black Lives Matter Activists During Speech On Race. Black Lives Matter protesters in Atlanta protest Hillary Clinton's defense of the death penalty." Well, at least they picked an appropriate target, this time.

"Say It Ain't So, Hillary Clinton - You're Open to the Idea of Raising the Retirement Age?" See, she's sensitive to the fact that some people's jobs are just too physical to make them keep working until they're 70, so she doesn't see any practical way to do it, but there's quite a few things missing in her thinking. One is that even "non-physical" jobs have physical components that we can't expect to do indefinitely, and another is that it's not just physical capabilities that leave you. And then there is just all the stress that comes with knowing that the older you get, the more pressure there is on you to leave, the more people find excuses to get rid of you. Sometimes people who are downright irreplaceable get forced out simply because it's convenient for someone else or they failed to play office politics effectively with the wrong person or the new Director just can't believe you can possibly be that useful at your age. Layoffs anywhere, at any time, can mean you'll never be able to get another job. What are you supposed to do when these things happen? And why would you even accept raising the age of retirement as a rational thing to consider when it's so much simpler and fairer to simply eliminate the damned cap?

"Bernie Sanders is in big trouble: You don't have to be a neoliberal shill to see the cold, hard facts" - Is he losing the Invisible Primary? Is there any way to get around it?
* Did Bernie's supporters screw it up? "And there you have it. Parachute in, treat the Democratic event with ill-disguised contempt, then leave without any meaningful interaction with the people whose support your candidate is supposed to be courting. But hey, they're not progressives, so it's okay to do that to them, eh? Granted, many Bernie backers aren't Democrats and are proud of this fact, but showing such obvious disdain for Democrats and their party functions is, well, not exactly good politics." Poor planning, perhaps - it seems they had to catch the buses that were about to leave. But whoever didn't make sure transport would be available at the end of the event itself made a pretty big mistake.
* Sanders campaign honchos commit an act of massive campaign malpractice and Bernie Sanders should fire them. I can't even begin to say how horrified I was to know that "three members of the Sanders high command - campaign manager Jeff Weaver, communications director Michael Briggs, and field director Phil Fiermonte" decided to sit down with a journalist from Bloomberg and, my god, explain their campaign strategy to him. This is the very thing the Clinton White House team used to do that convinced everyone they were nothing but cynical. But it also did something else, since once you tell the press what your strategy is, it ceases to be a strategy. Clinton's claim to fame was that he was King Wonk, they were all these smart little technocrats who had come up with ingenious strategies for "triangulating" their way into policies that, frankly, would have gotten them strangled in their beds by Democrats if they'd understood what was going on. So we were constantly picking up the newspaper and seeing George Stephanopoulos explaining their damn strategy and letting everyone know how very clever they were. We're so wonkish! Bill Clinton loves being a Policy Wonk! Whoohoo! Except that is most emphatically not what Sanders is, and his campaign is supposed to be about issues and how policies actually affect people, and by god that's all his campaign should be talking to the press about. Just stfu about what bright boys you are. (Yes, it's good that Bernie publicly criticized them, but really, they need to shut up.)

The upside of Clinton: "She has been promising DNC members that she wants to revive the party infrastructure that withered under President Barack Obama. Organizing for America point-whatever has been a bust. Super-delegates welcome the return of something resembling Dean's 50 state plan in hopes that party infrastructure will accomplish more than presidential candidates' personalities." (That party infrastructure didn't just "wither"; Obama's machine shut it right down. Anyone who wants to undo that certainly has my blessing to make it happen. But then, it doesn't take a president.)

I'm sure Charlie Pierce told me everything we need to know about Wednesday's GOP debate.

Dean Baker says, "Paul Ryan Wants to Shut Down the Government, Permanently: Everyone has seen the news stories about how Representative Paul Ryan, the leading candidate to be the next Speaker of the House, is a budget wonk. That should make everyone feel good, since we would all like to think a person in this position understands the ins and outs of the federal budget. But instead of telling us about how much Ryan knows about the budget (an issue on which reporters actually don't have insight), how about telling us what Ryan says about the budget? It is possible to say things about what Ryan says, since he has said a lot on this topic and some of it is very clear. In addition to wanting to privatize both Social Security and Medicare, Ryan has indicated that he essentially wants to shut down the federal government in the sense of taking away all of the money for the non-military portion of the budget."

The wingers at Newsbusters are up in arms when Dick van Dyke endorses Bernie Sanders on two separate shows. Don't read the comments, I warn you.

"What Ever Happened To The 9 Corrupt Democrats Who Voted For Medicare Part D?" Well, most of them lost the support of the voters, but Steve Israel is still sabotaging Democrats at every turn.

"How superdonors are gutting America: Here's the research that helps explain a political system's rightward lurch"

Ben Bernenke finds Republicans difficult. Gosh.

Demands Increase For Investigating Exxon's Funding Of Climate Denial

"New Analysis of Wikileaks Shows State Department's Promotion of Monsanto's GMOs Abroad [...] But what really stands out in the cables quoted in the report is the length to which State Department officials were willing to go for American biotech companies. In a statement to Reuters, Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said, 'It really gets down to twisting the arms of countries and working to undermine local democratic movements that may be opposed to biotech crops, and pressuring foreign governments to also reduce the oversight of biotech crops.' "

Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson review Dick and Liz Cheney's book: "Back to the Dark Side: Dick Cheney's Pax Americana" Exceptional, the new book from former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz, is not. It is nothing more than an unhinged rant that smacks of sedition." And, goodness, it's in The Spectator.

Book Review: Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception: "This book, by Nobel-winning economics professors George A. Akerlof (Georgetown University) and Robert J. Shiller (Yale University), is an extended discussion of the role of fraud in economics. The authors argue that fraud is a natural feature of unregulated markets and that fraud is as subject to economic equilibrium as any other product. They back the argument with multiple historical examples, including a short history of advertising, abuses in the pharmaceutical industry, a history of the discovery of the health risks of cigarettes."

"What the Steve Jobs Movie Won't Tell You About Apple's Success"

Health Care "by the People": An Interview With the Architect of Colorado's Single-Payer Plan

Martin Amis gets called on being a nitwit about Jeremy Corbyn.

"No-Fly Zone No Answer for Syria [...] Air power can stop tanks, but can do very little when it comes to protecting civilian populations from the likes of the Islamic State or al-Nusra. Even Assad's paramilitaries could easily infiltrate the buffer zone and inflict their share of violence. All it takes is a few bands of marauders on foot to create mayhem and all the air forces of the world would be helpless. Another unintended consequence of a buffer zone bereft of protection from ground forces is that its population would be susceptible to Islamic state's forcible recruitment of youngsters to their cause. No one, including the no-fly zone's most vociferous supporter, Turkey - much less the U.S. or the Europeans - is willing to send ground troops into this safe zone."

"What Could Possibly Go Wrong (Next) in the Middle East?" Everyone is playing each other against everyone else. Who wins?

Pulling the curtain on "democracy" in Portugal
* "Eurozone crosses Rubicon as Portugal's anti-euro Left banned from power: Constitutional crisis looms after anti-austerity Left is denied parliamentary prerogative to form a majority government [...] Anibal Cavaco Silva, Portugal's constitutional president, has refused to appoint a Left-wing coalition government even though it secured an absolute majority in the Portuguese parliament and won a mandate to smash the austerity regime bequeathed by the EU-IMF Troika."
* The Washington Post, like The New York Times, leaves out the fact that it was the anti-austerity left that won the election and claims otherwise.

Iceland: "First They Jailed the Bankers, Now Every Icelander to Get Paid in Bank Sale [...] If Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson has his way - and he likely will - Icelanders will be paid kr 30,000 after the government takes over ownership of the bank. Íslandsbanki would be second of the three largest banks under State proprietorship."

"Forget Shorter Showers: Why personal change does not equal political change"

My trigger-warning disaster: 9 1/2 Weeks, The Wire, and how coddled young radicals got discomfort all wrong

A reminder: What "block grants" means.

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters supports Bernie. He can't vote, of course, but he's afraid that Clinton "might become the first woman president to drop a f**king nuclear bomb on somebody."

"We are lifelong Zionists. Here's why we've chosen to boycott Israel."

Robert Parry's Speech at I.F. Stone Award

Dan Froomkin, "George W. Bush Was AWOL, But What's 'Truth' Got to Do With It?: The only journalistic sin worse than disastrously misreporting an important story that turns out to be untrue is disastrously misreporting an important story that is true, so no one believes it anymore."

Last year I started to see articles about how cigarettes are more deadly than ever because tobacco companies have changed how they make them. I'm not sure how long ago I started wondering what had changed - I began to notice that people who smoked one or two cigarettes a day had the same cough chain-smokers had, which never used to be the case. And it was a much more horrible cough. And in the very same rooms where a dozen people at a time had been smoking at parties for decades without any problem, suddenly just one or two people smoking in that same room for a few hours was enough to bother the eyes of a heavy smoker. And the smell stuck more. So I wasn't surprised to learn that cigarette manufacturers had changed something. But think about that: They took a deadly product and made it more deadly, and nobody sued them, no one seems to care to hold tobacco companies responsible, and just plain nobody cares. Everyone seems to be quite happy with the plan to kill smokers as fast as they can. Smoking has gone from being a generally popular habit to an inexpensive moment of relaxation for the working class to the last luxury of the lower classes. And, hey, aren't those the people we want to kill?

This Heroic Captain Defied His Orders and Stopped America From Starting World War III

"Spoken Like a Woman [...] In this programme, Anne Karpf explores, with the help of the sound archive, the way women's voices have shaped the sound of British radio, from Auntie Kathleen of Children's Hour and those formal talks of the early BBC, via the forces' sweethearts like Jean Metcalfe and Marjorie Anderson, to today's topliners like Martha Kearney and Bridget Kendall."

The Flash of Two Worlds

Drummers explain why Ringo is so cool.

"The Beatles have posted the newly restored clip of 'Revolution' from their upcoming 1+ video collection. It was filmed on September 4th, 1968 at London's Twickenham Film Studios." (From the Frost show.)

13:33 GMT comment


Sunday, 25 October 2015

Eyesight to the blind

The Intercept: "What Did Clinton Mean When She Said Snowden Files Fell Into the 'Wrong Hands'?" They fell into the hands of responsible journalists who digested the information and gave it to the public. And here's the thing: We're supposed to know.
* The New Yorker: "Hillary Clinton Is Wrong About Edward Snowden."

The Democratic Strategist cites two WaPo articles, by E.J. Dionne and Harold Meyerson, and says, "Clinton-Sanders Synergy Gives Dems Leverage. [...] Meyerson acknowledges that Clinton also wants to expand worker rights in the context of liberal capitalism and he credits Sanders with having the understanding that empowering workers is an essential requirement for Democratic advancement. Meyerson concludes with the powerful insight that 'In the United States, liberalism advances only when radicalism is bubbling, which is why Clinton and Sanders need each other, and why the Democrats need them both.'"

On the other hand, "After Dem Debate, Rightbloggers Rage Against 'That Socialist' - and Bernie Sanders."

CNN/ORC poll: Hillary Clinton wins debate, but Bernie Sanders rises: "Compared with pre-debate polling, Sanders' support is up five points since mid-September, but no other candidate showed significant change."

What does it mean when a poll asks Democrats who won a debate that only 23% of them actually watched? I'm not making that up.
* List of online polls from the first Dem debate, and what they said. I don't actually put a tremendous amount of stock in these since, even if you could believe they were scientifically accurate, you know that only a minority of eventual voters actually saw the debate to begin with. But what they will see is the continual spin from the pundits, and what they actually say on the air and in their op-eds is usually what ends up counting. In 2000, every focus group and poll of viewers on the night of the first debate gave Gore the overwhelming edge, and even Chris Matthews - who unabashedly admitted to being a Bush partisan - declared that Gore had wiped the floor with Bush. But within 24 hours, the constant litany of complaints about Gore, sneering at his perfectly accurate phrases and somehow making it seem that all the eye-rolling Bush had earned was a negative on Gore's part, had convinced everyone, including Tweety, that Bush had won.

Latest polling at Real Clear Politics shows Clinton still well ahead of Sanders, but Sanders doing better than Clinton against all Republican comers. That actually matters - Bernie would get better coat-tails (which means a better Congress), and it would be so refreshing to win the white demographic and not have to listen to the GOP patting themselves on the back about how they win with "real Americans". I want a candidate who can win with all Americans.

"Poll: More Democrats Now Favor Socialism Than Capitalism" - Now, if only we can come up with a definition for each of those words.

"Bernie Sanders' Brilliant Plan to Turn Post Offices into Banks" - Postal banking is, of course, quite normal outside of the United States, and it's baffling that we still don't have it. The Brits started it in 1861. Oh, but wait! We had one from 1911! So, what happened?
* "Sanders Calls for Probe into Exxon Mobil Claims on Climate Change: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today asked the Department of Justice to investigate potential fraud by Exxon Mobil Corp. over conflicts in what it knew and what it told the public and shareholders about the cause of climate change. In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Sanders asked for a probe into what he called a 'potential instance of corporate fraud' by the oil giant. "

Colbert on the Dem debates
* Bill Maher on the difference between what Bernie said and what Republicans heard

Bernie Sanders on Meet The Press, full Interview
* Bernie Sanders Sits Down With Rachel Maddow (Full Interview) | MSNBC

Sanders closing the gap on Hispanic support.

The media spent a couple of days promising that Joe Biden would enter the primaries. God knows why anyone thought this would be a good idea. That'd be Joe Biden, D-Financial Industry Hero, who worked tirelessly to pass a bankruptcy bill that prevents ordinary people from being able to get relief for student loans or mortgages that can't be repaid on the demanded schedule. Paul Wellstone kept fighting him to a standstill on this but once he died Biden had smooth sailing to nail the coffin lid on students and other Americans who were facing hardship.
* And then there's Biden's contribution to the prison industry with his push for more punitive sentencing. It's a hell of a legacy. More than once this year, Biden has bragged about his role in passing the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, and though the climate for this sort of thing has receded enough to loosen him up on it, he still doesn't get it. He's the wrong man.
* MSNBC: "Joe Biden is no savior for progressives" - Where he differs from Clinton, he's generally much worse, not better.
* Yglesias: "Biden and the AUMF" - Like Clinton, he voted for it, so no salvation there, either. (Remember Ray McGovern's scathing open letter to Biden? Even by 2007, Biden was still sounding like the Bush administration, going so far as to falsely claim that the weapons inspectors said Saddam had WMD. Everyone else already knew this wasn't true.)
* But - surprise! Biden didn't throw his hat in the ring!

The Republicans gave Hillary an all-day campaign ad with their Benghazi interrogation.

To solve the contentious debate issue between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, Think Progress investigates whether or not George W. Bush was president on 9/11.

SNL's Democratic debate skit. Personally, I don't think Larry David's Bernie is in the same class with Michael Brooks' Bad-Ass Bernie impressions.
* At any rate, Bernie is the cool candidate.

Clinton Takes Her Adviser's Side, Attacking Big Banks but Not BlackRock: Hillary Clinton has received a mixture of plaudits and qualified skepticism for her Wall Street reform plan. She insists that the plan is tougher than those of her Democratic presidential rivals, because it targets more participants in the financial industry beyond the big banks. But Clinton's plan was mute on a key sector of the industry: asset management firms, like BlackRock or Vanguard or Fidelity, which control a staggering $30 trillion in global wealth. And a number of Clinton's ideas mirror the preferences of leading asset managers, who would profit from crackdowns on their competition - the big banks - while they get a pass. That's probably not a coincidence."

"Bernie Sanders Got More Done in the Senate than Hillary Clinton." But it's more than that - Sanders has an amazing record in terms of working across the aisle to get amendments passed. And amendments do matter, a whole lot.

Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel) says, "Jim Comey Describes the Dangerous Chilling Effect of Surveillance (But Only for Cops): For at least the second time, Jim Comey has presented himself as a Ferguson Effect believer, someone who accepts data that has been cherry picked to suggest a related rise in violent crime in cities across the country (I believe that in Ferguson itself, violent crime dropped last month, but whatever)."
* NYT: "F.B.I. Chief Links Scrutiny of Police With Rise in Violent Crime" - Of course, the entire construct is ridiculous. The police aren't just private citizens going about their private business, they are public servants who are supposed to be accountable. If they are really such pants-wetters that they are afraid to act legally and sanely when being observed, they shouldn't be on the force.

The Canadians got rid of Harper with jubilation, voting in the Liberals and the very dishy junior Trudeau with a clear majority. I feel nervous, though - Trudeau is not Corbyn or Sanders, and I'm reminded a little too much of the same sort of euphoria when Britain thought they'd gotten rid of the Tories by electing Blair, and Americans thought they'd gotten rid of our own Tories with the election of Obama. They hadn't, and we hadn't. So when I hear Trudeau saying there'll be a whip on TPP, I'm wondering which way. "In the end, anti-Harper voters decided that rather than elect a centrist NDP, they'd go with the Liberals who were already parked in that spot. But hopefully for folks like my parents, the incoming Trudeau government will remember the left turn that got them there."
* The best person to ask is probably Ian Welsh, who has of course been talking about the Consequences of the Canadian Liberal Majority, asking What Is the Cost of NDP Losing Canada?, and What Type of Electoral "Reform" Might Canada's Liberal Party Enact?

"Netanyahu's Record on Inciting Violence Against Palestinians" - Interview with Max Blumenthal after Netanyahu blames Palestinians for the Nazis.
* "Palestinian Attacks Fueled by Settler Violence, Senior Israeli Commander Says."

"The Banking Industry's Transparent Attempt to Weaken the CFPB: You'll never guess who's going around Washington, trolling the halls of Congress, talking about the importance of protecting the long-term health of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The banking industry. That's right: After years of trying to kill, then delay, and then defang the agency, the banking industry and their Republican friends in Congress have launched a new effort to attract Democratic support for their latest attack by claiming that they just want to help the agency and the consumers it protects. Surely Democrats will not be taken in by yet another attempt to weaken the CFPB."

From Forbes, "Credit Suisse Wealth Report: There Are More Poor People In America Than China." OK, not the way you think, but more people in America have "negative wealth" in the sense that their debts outweigh their assets.

Glen Ford is still scathing on #BlackLivesMatter: Chat Partners with Hillary. "The #BlackLivesMatter tent has already been folded up inside the Democratic Party, where slick Black "activists" on the make go to catch the express elevator to the executive suites. In less than a year, the #BLM crowd milked the incipient movement for all it was worth, presenting themselves as the interlocutors between the streets and Power. It's been one hell of a journey -- a great hustle. They have arrived at where they wanted to be: part of the age-old Black Petit Bourgeois Shuffle, dancing to the Master's tune, while complaining that their pale partners still don't have the right rhythm."

How gerrymandering can change election outcomes, in one chart

Amazingly, The Washington Post has an article exposing the creepy underpinnings of the "school reform" movement that is destroying our once pretty damned good public school system: "What are Bill and Melinda Gates talking about?" Apparently, they haven't a clue about education, but by god they are going to fix it - following the lesson plan of The American Enterprise Institute to destroy public schools.

Why Free Markets Make Fools of Us

The Trade Creature Walks Among Us!

AJC investigation: Why fatal police shootings in Ga. aren't prosecuted

"San Diego company slaps 'Pharma Bro' down by offering same cancer drug for $1 a pill: A San Diego-based company announced on Thursday that it would compete with Martin Shkreli's Turing Pharmaceuticals by offering the same drug used to help AIDS and cancer patients for $1 a pill, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported."

'Huge Step': FCC Slashes Costs of Prison Phone Calls - This is a big deal for a lot of prisoners, but it's not enough.

Police Chief Makes Unique Offer To Addicts - He announced that if they came to the station, they would be helped and not arrested.

"For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man: Today in Texas, former prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence in a case that sent an innocent man, Michael Morton, to prison for the murder of his wife. When trying the case as a prosecutor, Anderson possessed evidence that may have cleared Morton, including statements from the crime's only eyewitness that Morton wasn't the culprit. Anderson sat on this evidence, and then watched Morton get convicted. While Morton remained in prison for the next 25 years, Anderson's career flourished, and he eventually became a judge. In today's deal, Anderson pled to criminal contempt, and will have to give up his law license, perform 500 hours of community service, and spend 10 days in jail. Anderson had already resigned in September from his position on the Texas bench."

"Little Guantanamos" in the United States

IPA whistleblower press conference: "full video of Holly Sterling's news conference, which was her first such appearance since her husband's trial and imprisonment. The news conference also featured Thomas Drake, Delphine Halgand, Ray McGovern, and Jesselyn Radack."

"Federal Whistleblower Investigator Fired After Blowing The Whistle On His Own Agency: Former OSHA employee says he was fired as 'retaliation' for exposing problems in the Whistleblower Protection Program."

"Families' fury over Blair's Iraq War lie: 'Smoking gun' memo reveals he backed Bush 12 months before conflict." Every now and then even the Daily Mail can get one right. "Former shadow Home Secretary David Davis said the classified memo from US Secretary of State Colin Powell was a 'smoking gun' that proved Blair had lied about his intentions over the disastrous conflict in Iraq."

"New law makes Canadian Jews second-class citizens [..] Jews are second-class citizens under this law. That's because the Law of Return gives an almost automatic right of Israeli residency and citizenship to any Jew. Every Canadian with citizenship or a right of citizenship abroad now has conditional rights to be a Canadian. It doesn't even matter that you or your ancestral family have not lived in Israel for the past 2,000 years. Because a government official could argue that the Law of Return means you won't be stateless if your Canadian citizenship is taken away, the second-class citizenship law applies to you."

Timothy Egan in the NYT: "Guess Who Else Is a Socialist? [...] Free of the label, a hybrid economy where health care, education and pensions for the elderly are provided, side-by-side-by-side with creative capitalism, works pretty well in the Nordic countries, Britain and Canada. And most of the tenets of what is considered democratic socialism have majority support in the United States." The article ends up favoring Hillary, but it's nice to see an op-ed in the Newspaper of Record acknowledging that Bernie and the public are in agreement.

Democracy NOW!: Drone War Exposed: Jeremy Scahill on U.S. Kill Program's Secrets & the Whistleblower Who Leaked Them

Marcy Wheeler on The raging irony of WikiLeaks' latest release: Inside the absurd hacking of CIA chief John Brennan: A 13-year-old has hacked America's intelligence chief and sent the spoils to Assange's crew. Here's what to know."

Judge Rejects Justice Department's Crackdown on Medical Marijuana: In what may prove a turning point in the fight over medical marijuana, a federal judge this week rejected the Department of Justice's rationale for pursuing cases against dispensaries in states where they are legal."

RIP: Cory Wells, 74, one of the three vocalists for Three Dog Night. I never went to see them on purpose, but they showed up at more than one rock festival and were always great at pleasing the crowd. Loved Cory's shirts, too. Here's Cory leading on "Try A Little Tenderness".

David Brooks' crack-up

Pro-Lifer Admits Regulating Women's Sexuality, Not Abortion, Drives Planned Parenthood Attacks

How Blacks have Irish Last Names

"The Necktie Party," a short comic by Will Shetterly

"Malaria vaccine provides hope for a general cure for cancer: The hunt for a vaccine against malaria in pregnant women has provided an unexpected side benefit for Danish researchers, namely what appears to be an effective weapon against cancer. The scientists behind the vaccine aim for tests on humans within four years."

Looks like someone at The Huffington Post has discovered "The Christian Left" - or what used to just be normal Christianity before Paul Weyrich got his hands on it.

Check out this comment from CMike from below, commenting on a discussion between Chris Hedges and Cornel West. Gotta say I agree with him.

"Palestinian Attacks Fueled by Settler Violence, Senior Israeli Commander Says: Former West Bank division commander testifies in court against right-wing extremists."

"Which Syrian Chemical Attack Account Is More Credible?: Let's compare a couple of accounts of the mass deaths apparently caused by chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21. One account comes from the U.S. government (8/30/13), introduced by Secretary of State John Kerry. The other was published by a Minnesota-based news site called Mint Press News (8/29/13). The government account expresses 'high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack' on August 21. The Mint report bore the headline 'Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack.' Which of these two versions should we find more credible?"

"White Protesters Form Human Shield To Protect Black Protesters From Police. [...] The rally took place in South Africa, where police officers had previously used brutal force against the predominantly black demonstrators who turned out to peacefully protest rising university fees."

"Universal Basic Income Will Likely Increase Social Cohesion" - Real-life experiments and observable social phenomena have shown this to be true, so there's no reason not to do it.

I hate stuff like this. It's true that Republicans are "grumpy" and hate America and Americans, but please, don't try to con me that everything is sunny in America. Things really are a mess, and a lot of that is owing to what can most flatteringly (and forgivingly) be described as the rosey assumptions and expectations of Mr. HopeyChangey himself.

Being Poor Is Too Expensive.

Famous quotes, the way a woman would have to say them during a meeting

"The porn business isn't anything like you think it is."

7 of NYC's Abandoned Subway Stations: City Hall, 18th St, Worth Street, Myrtle Ave, 91st St.

Overwhelmed by fallen maple leaves? Try eating them.
* Brain cake for you zombies

Auto Mechanics Hilariously Recreate Renaissance Paintings.

6 July 1957, John Lennon meets Paul McCartney.

Tory children's books

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official)

The Who at Tanglewood, 1970

15:17 GMT comment


Saturday, 17 October 2015

So many different people to be

Dave Johnson and Marcy Wheeler talked about the mystery of the Speakership, TPP, and Dem debates, on Virtually Speaking.

The first Democratic debate, Nevada, Lincoln Chafee, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, full video.
* Afterwards, Bernie rescues Andrea Mitchell from her colleagues.

I don't know about anyone else, but I absolutely despised Clinton's answer on Social Security. When asked if she would expand it, she said she would "protect" it. Asked again if she would expand it, she said she would "enhance" it for women. Wrong answers. Disgusted with her on Iran, too.

Who won? Well, The Chicago Tribune says in an editorial, "Bernie Sanders' night: Authenticity wins the Democratic debate." Vox says, "DC insiders think Bernie Sanders lost the debate. Here's why they might be wrong." The Washington Post says, "The candidate breaking through in the Democratic debate? Bernie Sanders." The Huffington Post says, "Yes, Bernie Sanders Defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Debate. Here's Why," and Nathan Francis at Inquisitr concurs, and Colin McEnroe at Salon says, "This was Bernie Sanders' night: The candidate of anger and honesty won the Democratic debate." But the Nate Silver contingent says, "Did The Democratic Debate Change The Odds? Bernie Sanders had a good debate, but we're still selling his stock." They could be right: Here are some offline polls: Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll; HuffPost/YouGov Poll; One America poll.

Yes, the online polls everywhere said that Bernie won the debate, but they're online polls and their value is debatable. Focus groups are a different thing, though, and at CNN, on Fox, and at Fusion, focus groups liked Bernie. Still not the most scientific, but Guy Saperstien reminded me that they used to do snap polls after debates, but when the polls disagreed with the pundits, they stopped doing them. But the pundits thought Rubio won the earlier Republican debates and Trump was toast, and, um, they were wrong, so we really have no idea who won.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg tells us, How Bernie Sanders Raised $1.3 Million in Four Hours during the debate: "When a campaign reaches out to people on their mobile phones, it can catch them wherever they are, sweeping them up in a moment of excitement, said Erin Hill, ActBlue's executive director."

Is Joe Scarborough feeling the Bern? Sure sounds like it. Maybe they should get him to be one of the journalists who ask the questions in the upcoming Democratic debates, since they seem to be short of liberal progressives.
* I think Ellen is feeling the Bern, which is no surprise. But that doesn't mean this clip doesn't start off with a surprise.

Tuesday's polls from Real Clear Politics showed Biden, Clinton, and Sanders beating all Republican frontrunners. Thursday polling in Pennsylvania didn't look so good.

11,000 turn out for Bernie in Tucson; Bernie gets his first Congressional endorsement.
* "Keith Ellison hands Bernie Sanders his second congressional endorsement: Sen. Bernie Sanders will get a pre-debate boost from Rep. Keith Ellison, the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, who will become the second member of Congress to endorse Sanders' insurgent presidential campaign Monday, he told MSNBC. [...] Ellison joins his fellow Progressive Caucus co-chairman, Rep. Raul Grijalva, who endorsed Sanders last week at a rally in Tucson, where Grijalva's congressional district is based. Sanders will face off against his rivals Tuesday at the first Democratic debate in Las Vegas."
* They've changed it, now (probably owing to some sneering responses to it), but the original headline at The Hill for this story was, "Muslim lawmaker endorses Sanders."

"GOP Extremists About To Be Hoist On Their Own Petard?" Seems they made their own rules to deal with something that already happened, and instead made their problems much worse. Oh, dear. Some pretty radical notions are popping up. Scary.
* Of course, both sides do it - that is, stab themselves in the foot. "Debbie Wasserman Schultz Has Ruined The First Debate Already-- They Should Fire Her Before She Ruins The Rest. Remember how CNN hired Rachel Maddow to host the Republican debate? No, you missed that one? Me too. But CNN did hire Fox-Republican shill Brian Kilmeade to make sure the GOP perspective was well represented in the first Democratic primary debate. Blame DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
* "The DNC screwed Hillary - now get ready for a Bernie Sanders earthquake: Limiting debates did her no favors. Now she's barely leading a 74-year-old socialist. This debate is pivotal."

Ezra Klein unnerved by Clinton's TPP opposition: "On Wednesday, Clinton came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, saying that she's concerned with the provisions around pharmaceuticals and the absence of provisions around currency manipulation. But as Tim Lee notes, Clinton strongly supported early versions of the deal - she called the TPP 'the gold standard in trade agreements" - that were worse on pharmaceuticals and identical on currency manipulation."

"Trumka calls for immediate release of TPP text [...] 'In my experience, when there is such good news to share, there is no need for secrecy,' Trumka wrote. 'If TPP will do for the American middle class all that USTR claims, releasing the text would be the single best way to prove that.' U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has said that the text should be ready in about 30 days, once the lawyers are done scrubbing the agreement. Then the 30-chapter TPP deal will be available to the public for scrutiny. In response to that timeline, Trumka said that 'creating a level playing field for American workers includes equal access to information, and the only way to ensure that is to ensure that all Americans have equal access to the text - not in 30 days, after the public relations spin has been spun, but right now.'"
* Jim Hightower: "'We Are Writing the Rules,' says Obama. Who's 'We'?"

Down in the weeds, I still have plenty of reasons not to want her to be president, but there's no denying that the press hates Hillary Clinton, and their own words tell you it's true.

"Jeb Bush At Lehman Brothers: Florida Official Joked About Bush's Influence Over State Pension [...] Bush has denied any involvement in the transactions, which might eventually cost Florida taxpayers as much as $1 billion. But a state official named Michael Lombardi -- who managed investments for the part of Florida's pension that bought Lehman assets -- invoked Bush's name in a Jan. 9 email exchange with a Lehman managing director who was announcing his new job at the firm."

Assange: UK refuses hospital visit for MRI and diagnosis: "In a press conference today, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino read out a letter from Assange's UK doctor who conducted a medical examination in August. The letter says that he is in constant and severe pain, which is growing worse and has been present since June 2015. The doctor stated that an MRI scan needs to be performed. This can only be carried out in a hospital." But the UK is refusing to grant him safe passage to a hospital and is saying he must give up his asylum in order to receive medical treatment.

The other Wonder Drug: "National Cancer Institute Finally Admits THC Causes 45% Remission in Bladder, Breast, and Liver Cancer." Among other things.

Tim Dickenson's detailed exposé of the Koch brothers in Rolling Stone apparently freaked them out.

Just 158 families have provided nearly half of the early money for efforts to capture the White House. "Relatively few work in the traditional ranks of corporate America, or hail from dynasties of inherited wealth. Most built their own businesses, parlaying talent and an appetite for risk into huge wealth: They founded hedge funds in New York, bought up undervalued oil leases in Texas, made blockbusters in Hollywood. More than a dozen of the elite donors were born outside the United States, immigrating from countries like Cuba, the old Soviet Union, Pakistan, India and Israel."

"More than 50 Labour MPs to defy Jeremy Corbyn in vote on Syria. [...] In a clear challenge to the Labour leader's authority, a group of MPs and peers is ready to work with Conservative colleagues to promote a three-pronged strategy in which military intervention by UK forces would complement fresh humanitarian and diplomatic initiatives."

"California Will Automatically Register Millions Of Voters: On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will allow the state to automatically register millions of residents to vote, using their DMV records. Starting in 2016, every eligible California citizen who goes to a DMV office to get a driver's license or renew one will be instantly registered to vote, unless he or she chooses to opt out." This is great, but I like it even better here in the UK where they actually send people to your door to make sure people who are entitled to vote are registered.

"Mom Calls 9-1-1 for Paramedics, Cop Shows Up, Shoots 4-yo Daughter."

"'Great Pause' Among Prosecutors As DNA Proves Fallible."

"GOP Governor Finally Admits His Hand-Picked Emergency Manager Poisoned Children."

Catholic Nun Slams Republicans on Their Anti-Abortion Hypocrisy: "I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

"Gun nuts freak out over Texas students' #CocksNotGlocks open carry protest - and it's awesome." Sadly, it looked to me like someone had cleaned up all the Facebook comments by the time I got there. Oh, well. But the women came out with a clever idea with their "open carry" of dildos.

I went broke teaching your kid: The real story about life on a teacher's salary

[Video] Corruption is Legal in America - The Princeton study showing that politicians pass laws that serve the rich instead of what the public wants (and needs), illustrated.

Jeremy Cahill says "Drones are a tool, not a policy. The policy is assassination." But really, drones are terrorism.

How real news would sound

Toni Morrison: 'We used to be called citizens. Now we're called taxpayers'

Hail to the Pencil Pusher [...] But the problem was so severe that Congress eventually decided tackle it administratively. Criminalizing bad behavior wasn't enough; for the good of individual lives and the larger economy, the government would take positive steps to prevent explosions. Under the Steamboat Act of 1852, Congress mandated standards for boiler pressure and testing. Pilots and engineers would be federally licensed. And government inspectors could enforce these rules. This 'steamboat agency' seems like something straight out of the twentieth century. It relied on the Constitution's commerce clause to regulate a specific industry for personal safety. It developed these regulations based on scientific understanding. And it combined licensing, rule making, and adjudication, as the New Deal and Great Society agencies did and continue to do. It was, in sum, an early manifestation of an administrative state that contemporary conservatives insist did not exist until Progressive Era reformers built it upon the ashes of a former libertarian utopia."

Iraq For Sale: BANNED Excerpts - banned from being shown in Congress in 2007.

Every Conversation Between A Parent And A Child In Four Conversations

Fashion. Seriously. I mean, seriously. No.

Was this what inspired Alien?

The Flash season 2 trailer

Haphead, the movie

"Season of the Witch" from the lost concert tapes of Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield

00:43 GMT comment


Saturday, 10 October 2015

The homecoming queen's got a gun

A little reminder, and I still haven't heard of anyone doing anything about this: "GOP voter registration scandal widens: A Virginia official is busted for tossing voter forms. Turns out he works for the national party, too"
* Voter ID and driver's license office closures black-out Alabama's Black Belt

A Breakthrough on the TPP deal. Damn. TPP Agreement Announced, Setting Up Battle In Congress
* Sherrod Brown's statement on reports that Trans-Pacific Partnership could harm American auto workers
* Lori Wallach at Public Citizen on some questions about the process of passing TPP (.pdf)
* Techdirt: "TPP Also Locks In Broken Anti-Circumvention Rules That Destroy Your Freedoms
* "WikiLeaks Publication of Complete, Final TPP Intellectual Property Text Confirms Pact Would Raise Costs, Put Medicines Out of Reach: Final Deal Rolls Back Bush-Era 'May 2007' Access to Medicine Protections [...] The leak comes the morning after a White House meeting with pharmaceutical executives who are dissatisfied that the deal did not provide them even greater monopoly rights."

The headlines say, "Hillary Clinton comes out against TPP trade deal," "Hillary Clinton comes out against Obama's trade deal," "Clinton sides with progressives against Obama trade deal," but did she really?

This is interesting: Jennifer Rubin, part of the "conservative" slate at The Washington Post, has an article up called, "Don't forget about Bernie Sanders," and it makes perfectly good points about why Sanders might very well win the nomination. But since it's Rubin, I have to ask myself what her purpose in writing it is, don't I? Is it that she thinks taking Sanders seriously makes it a more interesting horse race for a mainstream journalist to cover? Is it that she hates Hillary Clinton? Is it that the Republicans think Sanders will be easier to beat? Or is it that she has a grudging respect for how far the old man has come? "If Sanders is simply a not-Hillary vote one could see that all shifting to Biden. But if he is - as one surmises from huge crowds - a leader of a true left-wing movement just as fed up with Washington, D.C. as their right-wing counterparts then Sanders remains the man to beat. It is tempting for non-Democrats to write off Sanders as the Democrats' Donald Trump, a flash-in-the-pan with no real chance to win the nomination let alone the presidency. But in contrast to Trump who is ideologically all over the map and personally obnoxious, Sanders is a U.S. senator, a somewhat charming figure and representative of a significant segment of the party for whom Obama's greatest fault was in not going far enough (on climate change, immigration, single-payer healthcare, etc.) or selling out entirely (on trade)."
* The adventures of Bernie Sanders and Cornell West in South Carolina
* If you're not rich and want to go to college, vote for Bernie: "College is a time for study and achievement. It can also be competitive. Students who are forced to comply with Clinton's 10-hour-per week work requirement-- which is one-fourth of a full-time job - will carry a heavy burden of time and effort. Wealthy students won't share that burden because their parents are paying full tuition."
* Bernie Sanders Brings Out Record-Breaking Crowd in Boston
* Bernie Sanders at the Littleton Opera House in Vermont
* Can Bernie Sanders win the south?

Firefighters' Union Backs Away From Endorsement of Hillary Clinton

Snowden asks to be put in US prison?

Charlie Pierce, "The U.S. Military Is Determined to Dodge Responsibility for the Afghan Airstrike: Somebody bombed a hospital."
* Doctors Without Borders airstrike: US alters story for fourth time in four days
* Greenwald, "The Radically Changing Story of the U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital: From Mistake to Justification"

"U.S. to Release 6,000 Inmates Under New Sentencing Guidelines: The Justice Department is preparing to release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prison as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers in the 1980s and '90s, according to federal law enforcement officials."

"Pope Francis Rejects Kim Davis's Account Of Meeting And Refuses To Endorse Her Bigotry."
* "Pope Francis expected to fire the Archbishop who tricked him into meeting Kim Davis ."

How Conservative State "Think Tanks" Will Spin ALEC's 2016 Agenda

Colbert on when Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy tell the truth.

"Elizabeth Warren Made Washington Angry Again. [...] The Beltway outrage directed at Warren for sending the letter, of course, has nothing to do with the quality of Litan's research or his ability to publish it. The First Amendment has not been repealed. Nothing prevents Litan from doing all the industry-funded research he wants and letting the public evaluate its merits. What Litan can no longer do, however, is capitalize on Brookings' centrist, scholarly reputation when performing favors for flush corporate clients. This is a scary thing in the nation's capital, where this sort of thing happens all the time. Corporate interests pay for a lot of economic studies that end up being used as lobbying cudgels. People in Washington are accustomed to cashing in on their reputations and those of prestigious institutions."

Back in February, Marcy Wheeler warned us that Loretta Lynch was a terrible choice for Attorney General, and now here's Lynch saying the government shouldn't require reports of people killed by police.


* "California Governor Signs Ambitious Renewable Energy Bill Into Law: While a whole bunch of states are suing the EPA for regulating carbon spewing from the electricity sector, other states, such as California, are moving full-steam ahead towards renewables and carbon-cutting. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Wednesday that requires state-regulated utilities to get a whopping 50 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and hydro, by 2030. The law also requires a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings by that year. The goals were previously laid out during Brown's inaugural address. "

How America Helped Saudi Arabia Block A Human Rights Inquiry In Yemen

How Harper and the Conservatives Broke the Canadian Economy

What We Lose With a Privatized Postal Service
* Don't Put Privatizer And Payday Lender Lobbyist On The USPS Board

Air France execs' clothes torn off by protesters after layoff announcement

Patriotic Millionaires answer the question, "What Is Carried Interest Anyway?" and say the carried interest loophole should be eliminated. Why? "'At a time when wages for working people have stagnated at 1990 levels and they are paying taxes at ordinary income rates, it is an outrage for a small group of hedge fund operators, often making hundreds of millions of dollars a year, to have their income taxed at low capital gains rates,' said Patriotic Millionaire Guy T. Saperstein, Attorney."
* Who is the Retail Investor Protection Act trying to protect?

And for today's chart, American deaths in terrorism vs. gun violence in one graph.

"Women legislators turn the tables and introduce bills regulating men's reproductive health: Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner (D) isn't happy with bills that seek to control women's access to contraception and abortion. She has joined a trend across the nation by introducing a bill that would require men seeking a prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs to see a sex therapist, receive a cardiac stress test and 'get a notarized affidavit signed by a sexual partner affirming impotency.' Sex therapists would be required to present the option of 'celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.'"

'Suffrajitsu': How the suffragettes fought back using martial arts

Feminist protesters storm red carpet at London premiere of Suffragette: "Activists from Sisters Uncut, who campaign against domestic violence, attended the red carpet event saying they wanted to bring attention to the cuts to domestic violence services and declaring 'the battle isn't over yet'."

"Scientists Invent a New Steel as Strong as Titanium: South Korean researchers have solved a longstanding problem that stopped them from creating ultra-strong, lightweight aluminum-steel alloys."

Psychedelic Mushroom Compound Found to Grow and Repair Brain Cells: "The study, published in Experimental Brain Research, says psilocybin is able to bind to special receptors in the brain that stimulate healing and growth. In the case of these mushrooms, brain cell growth occurs. In mice, the researchers found psilocybin to actually help repair damaged brain cells and cure or relieve PTSD and depression."

Dept. of If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You in Prison? "Harvard Debate Team Loses to Prison Debate Team: The prison team had its first debate in spring 2014, beating the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Then, it won against a nationally ranked team from the University of Vermont, and in April lost a rematch against West Point."

RIP: Dennis Healey, 98, legendary Labour Party figure who was either too right-wing or "one of the best prime ministers Britain never had," depending on who you ask.

The Adventures of God: The Extinction of the Dinosaurs Explained

Musical glasses - Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor

"The fake horror movie trailer the internet deserves" - may not be work-safe.

The Kinsey Sicks present: "Get A Gun".

X-Files trailer

Astrophotographer Dave Lane's photos of the Milky Way over National Parks

Bernie in music:
* "Mr. Sanders, Bring Us A Dream"
* "The Ballad of Bernie Sanders"

Julie Brown, unedited

14:57 GMT comment


Friday, 02 October 2015

Playoff season

"Don't understand what's happening with Planned Parenthood and John Boehner? Carly Fiorina? Cliff & Digby shed some light. Plus Culture of Truth," on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Credo says "Tell Congress: Ban private for-profit prisons: Sen. Bernie Sanders just introduced a bill to end one of the biggest contributors to America's broken criminal justice system: private, corporate-run, for-profit prisons." They have a petition.

Chart of the day: Inequality in life expectancy widens for women.

"A mathematician may have uncovered widespread election fraud, and Kansas is trying to silence her [...] According to the Wichita Eagle, Wichita State mathematician Beth Clarkson has found irregularities in election returns from Sedgwick County, along with other counties throughout the United States, but has faced stiff opposition from the state in trying to confirm whether the irregularities are fraud or other, less-nefarious anomalies. Analyzing election returns at a precinct level, Clarkson found that candidate support was correlated, to a statistically significant degree, with the size of the precinct. In Republican primaries, the bias has been toward the establishment candidates over tea partiers. In general elections, it has favored Republican candidates over Democrats, even when the demographics of the precincts in question suggested that the opposite should have been true."

David Sirota, "Hillary Clinton Prescription Drug Plan Challenges Past Policies Of Bill And Hillary Clinton: Touting her commitment to lowering healthcare costs, Hillary Clinton this week unveiled a plan that she says will drive down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs. The initiative from the Democratic presidential candidate was billed as a challenge to the pharmaceutical industry -- but it is also a rebuke of some of the major pharmaceutical policies of Bill and Hillary Clinton."
* "Hillary Tells Biotech Indus. to Change Marketing of GMO, not Product: Americans will then Want GMO."
* "Clinton opposed LGBTQ-friendly gender-neutral passport forms: Hillary Clinton vehemently opposed the State Department's 2010 decision to use 'parent one and two' instead of 'mother and father' on U.S. passport applications, according to a newly released email from her time in office."
* "Sanders & O'Malley Object To Democratic Debate Schedule But Clinton Reportedly Only Wanted Four Debates [...] Democrats are risking a serious problem with turnout if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination in a year when the outsiders are creating all the excitement. This problem could be further exacerbated should she be the nominee by this limited debate schedule. Clinton's fear of facing her Democratic challengers could seriously hurt her should she be the candidate in the general election."

Frank Rich, "The importance of Donald Trump: Far from destroying our democracy, he's exposing all its phoniness and corruption in ways as serious as he is not. And changing it in the process. [...] Some kind of farce, nonetheless, is just what the modern presidential campaign has devolved into. By calling attention to that sorry state of affairs 24/7, Trump's impersonation of a crypto-fascist clown is delivering the most persuasively bipartisan message of 2016." Rich discussed this with Sam Seder on The Majority Report.
* Rich mentioned Chris Rock in Head of State, which I've never seen, so I looked at clips. Here he is saying, "That ain't right!"

Tavis Smiley interviews the presidential candidate from the Green Party, Dr. Jill Stein.

"Bernie Sanders claims more than 1 million donations."

"What the Pundits and Experts Fail to Understand about the Bernie Sanders Phenomenon [...] So the pundits look at Sanders, a man who is clearly not a political acrobat, and conclude he couldn't possibly win the tight-rope race. But of course Sanders isn't walking a tight-rope, he's competing on foot. So we shouldn't be asking ourselves who is faster between Clinton and Sanders, that is what the pundits are doing and it is precisely why they keep getting it wrong. The real question is can she walk a tight-rope faster than Bernie can run on the ground?"

Stephen Colbert interviews Ted Cruz. It always interests me that Republicans want things to be matters "for the states" because the Constitution says so, but they never refer to the rest of the Tenth Amendment, "or to the people". ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.") In this case, because it's already pretty clear that the people do not want to ban gay marriage.

Scott Walker drops out of presidential race; Orange Mike not happy: "My concern is that, like an abusive spouse returning from an unsuccessful business trip, he will come back to Wisconsin and beat us up some more, doubling-down on his attacks on almost every non-millionaire Wisconsinite, especially those of us with the gall to work for the public or to have unions or (shudder!) both, while shouting the management equivalent of, 'You lazy bitch! Look what you made me do!'" And that's just what he's doing.

I remember after Obama won the election and suddenly various Democratic organizations I'd never signed up for and including Obama's own organizations were sending me constant offers to sell me T-shirts and coffee mugs. Seriously missing from all of these mails were requests to come help put all that eager enthusiasm that won Obama the presidency to work. No one looking for skills, looking for warm bodies, looking to make any of that "change" we'd been hearing about. The only materials I was getting from these people that weren't trying to get me to buy promotional materials were talking points to defend Obama from whatever talking points The Enemy (sometimes Republicans, sometimes the "crazy left") were putting forward. None of it was aimed at substantively addressing the real problems of Americans, although some of it was thinly-disguised hostage-taking on behalf of terrible programs we had to pass in order to make minor improvements in systems that needed major overhauls. I cannot think of a better way to kill a budding movement. I don't suspect Jeremy Corbyn of wanting to keep all his young supporters bamboozled and sequestered in another veal pen the way Obama did, but I hope he is giving a lot of thought to how to avoid doing it wrong.

The WSJ took a poll and found out America is a liberal country. Well, yes, it's supposed to be, it's called "liberal government", that's what the whole Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are about. But anyway, Americans like the Republicans even less than they like the Democrats, and no one wants to defund Planned Parenthood. Since I can't see the original article, I don't know if they mentioned those other little issues like, y'know, the economy and Social Security and whether people are more afraid of government power than they are of banks and corporate power, but anyone who reads polls can tell you that even most Republicans are liberal on these issues.

"Democrats Victorious As Senate Passes CR That Keeps Planned Parenthood Funded."
* Unconstitutional: If corporations are people, defunding Planned Parenthood is a bill of attainder.

"Investigation: Secret Service tried to discredit US lawmaker: WASHINGTON (AP) - Scores of U.S. Secret Service employees improperly accessed the decade-old, unsuccessful job application of a congressman who was investigating scandals inside the agency, a new government report said Wednesday. An assistant director suggested leaking embarrassing information to retaliate against Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House oversight committee."

"'Snowden Treaty' Under Review By Multiple Countries: A draft of the 'Snowden Treaty,' which would expand international legal obligations to protect privacy and whistleblowers, is under review by multiple countries."

"Profiled: From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users' Online Identities."

"Three Exceptional Facts About the US: It's Safe to Be Paranoid: Exceptional Fact #1: Failure Is Success, or the U.S. Remains the Sole Superpower; Exceptional Fact #2: Americans Are Actually Safe and Secure; Exceptional Fact #3: A Culture of Victimhood Is Developing Among the Inhabitants of the Planet's Sole Superpower.

"South Dakota no longer requires kids to learn about the Constitution, Native Americans, or slavery"

Journalist David Dayen's forthcoming Chain of Title named the latest winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize. Chain of Title is the dramatic true story of how, in the depths of the Great Recession, a nurse, a car dealership worker, and a forensic expert helped uncover the largest consumer crime in American history - a scandal that implicated dozens of major executives on Wall Street. They called it foreclosure fraud: millions of families were kicked out of their homes based on false evidence by mortgage companies that had no legal right to foreclose.

CNN did an awesome interview with Ben Carson, who wants to shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood - a perfectly legal organization that does legal and beneficial things for citizens - because he wants to "protect all life", but the death penalty should be a civil matter, and Muslims can't be trusted to uphold the Constitution because (the most extreme interpretations of) their religion wouldn't allow them to prioritize the Constitution. Oh, and he wants to be president, but being asked about his position on Muslims in the presidency was too much for him, so his campaign manager stopped the interview.

CMike alerts me to Charlie Rose's astonishingly stupid interview with Vladimir Putin, as described by James Howard Kunstler. "I guess Charlie and the 60-Minutes production crew hadn't noticed what had gone on around the Middle East the past fifteen years with America's program of toppling dictators into the maw of anarchy. Not such great outcomes." (Link to the video of the interview.) CMike also linked to this little story from Putin. Perhaps it tells us something.

Scott Lemieux says David Broder still lives at The Washington Post: "Our Conclusion, As Always: Both Sides Do It [...] If I understand correctly, what being on 'the far left' means in this instance is 'opposing massively unpopular Social Security cuts.' And Obama was supposed to 'stand up' to the 'far left' by continuing to make offers to Republicans he knew they would refuse. This is one of those times where to state an argument is to refute it." I suppose I shouldn't bring up the fact that the tax bite Obama was asking for was so tiny and so unlikely to collect any real revenues as to be a laughable exchange for the quite serious sacrifice of cutting Social Security, and we should be damned grateful that the Republicans refused to bite. The very fact that Obama was asking for so little suggested his real goal was those Social Security cuts and not raising taxes at all.

"Cops Brutally Beat Police Misconduct Investigator After Turning Off Dash Cam."

"Cowardly brutality exposed: The viral video that should change the Israel/Palestine debate forever [...] One would have thought that the video would have occasioned some circumspection, or at least awkward silence, among Israelis and what remains of their rapidly thinning fan club in the U.S., but no - of course not. Israel's minister of culture took to the media to declare that the army's open-fire regulations ought to be changed to officially permit shooting unarmed Palestinians in order 'to put an end to the humiliation.' Better, then, for the soldier to have gunned the family down in cold blood than to have failed to snatch their 12-year-old. Such are the choices to which Israel now finds itself reduced." To put an end to "the humiliation." Yeah, that's a good reason.

As Atrios points out, the Volkswagen scandal is a classic case of management criminality for which people far down the chain will take the hit. Bloomberg: "Volkswagen has blamed its emissions scandal on a 'small group' of people and has suspended a number of staff as Matthias Müller was unveiled as its new chief executive. Müller, who has been promoted from his role as boss of Porsche, pledged to leave 'no stone unturned' and 'maximum transparency' in an investigation into how the company cheated emissions tests on diesel cars. The new VW boss did not reveal how many staff had been suspended or who they were, but the company said the scandal was the result of 'unlawful behaviour of engineers and technicians involved in engine development'."

The Data Are Damning: How Race Influences School Funding: Research shows that in Pennsylvania's public schools skin color, not economics, determines how much money districts get. [...] 'If you color code the districts based on their racial composition you see this very stark breakdown. At any given poverty level, districts that have a higher proportion of white students get substantially higher funding than districts that have more minority students.' That means that no matter how rich or poor the district in question, funding gaps existed solely based on the racial composition of the school. Just the increased presence of minority students actually deflated a district's funding level. 'The ones that have a few more students of color get lower funding than the ones that are 100 percent or 95 percent white,' Mosenkis said."

"Pope Francis Enters the House Chamber and Gives The Only Handshake to John Kerry. "The Pope knows Kerry from his recent work on the Iran deal, but this is also a profound shift for Kerry. Josh Lederman of the AP pointed out that Kerry was once denied communion over his support for choice for women." I keep wondering how this pope even got elected, since he was chosen by the same people who either picked Benedict or were picked by him. But he's definitely a big departure from his predecessor - he actually mentioned Dorothy Day! - and since he demoted the guy who said Kerry and Pelosi shouldn't get communion, I think that handshake was pretty pointed. More details from Rachel Maddow.
* But he's not such a cuddly pope as he appears: "Pope Francis Excommunicates Priest Who Backed Women's Ordination and Gays."
* And from back in February, "Pope Francis says trans people destroy creation and compares them to nuclear weapons."
* "How Pope Francis Undermined the Goodwill of His Trip and Proved to Be a Coward: After first refusing to confirm nor deny it, the Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis met with the Kentucky clerk Kim Davis at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, where Davis' attorney -- who made the news public after the pope's trip ended -- said Francis told her to 'stay strong.' And that simple encounter completely undermines all the goodwill the pope created in downplaying 'the gay issue' on his U.S. trip."
* But Charlie Pierce wonders, "Was Pope Francis Actually Swindled into Meeting Kim Davis?" Update: The Vatican confirms that Charlie Pierce was correct.

"Why Is College So Expensive if Professors Are Paid So Little?" Like a lot of private enterprise these days, the folks in charge think it's more important to hire a lot of overpaid "management" to run the place rather than hire and pay the people who are actually needed to get the job done.

"Debacle, Inc.: How Henry Kissinger Helped Create Our 'Proliferated' World"

What poverty looks like in America - They studied real people who live on $2.00 a day, and that's good, but I wish the authors would spend some time thinking about where jobs come from. It can't start with the private sector - that's not how things work. And this public-private partnership stuff keeps right on failing.

Driftglass' latest unpacking of David Brooks is worth reading just to get to the candy surprise at the end.

The honest campaign ad - vote for Gil!

The thing that is making me crazy is that I never know when I am going to fall asleep, but when it's time the demand comes hard and fast, and then I know I have to lie down right now. I did look outside the other night and see that the sky was clear and the moon was big and gorgeous, but the sleep thing hit me sometime around midnight and that was that. Some people did get to see the eclipse, though.

For people who are not sleeping too much and instead are being kept up by a cold, science allegedly says your best cold cure is a hot toddy. Or at least, the internet says science says it.

RIP: D. West (8 July 1945-25 September 2015), occasionally known as "Don", legendary fanartist, critic, founder of the Astral Leauge (pronounced "Loog"), major figure from Leeds fandom, author of renown - most notably of "Performance",* publisher and author of the fanzine Daisnaid (Do As I Say Not As I Do), I beat him at dominos. I'm still shocked at the notion that D. West can die. He was diagnosed with lung cancer only shortly before his death, which I guess saved him a lot of trauma from life-prolonging misery. He could be pretty scary, but he backed me up when I was trying to explain to Michael Ashley about the Beatles, so he was all right with me.

Julian Lennon has a new collection up, of photographs of Venice.

My team has clinched the division.

14:02 GMT comment


Friday, 25 September 2015

I went to see the doctor and I had my fortune read

My doctors claim I'm doing good, and I'll just have to find out what the new normal is. I could go on at length about how grumpy this is making me, but let's just say that next time someone says "a few weeks" to me, I'll be asking, "Do you mean 'a few weeks' as in three or four weeks, or do you mean 'a few weeks' as in three months?" Similarly, what does "a little darker" mean?

"Democrats to Win in a Landslide in 2016, According to Moody's Election Model." Not sure how seriously to take that when their metric seems to be that the economy is good.
* Strangely, this is from The Washington Post: "Two days later, Sanders draws five times as many people as Clinton to event at same university in N.H.: DURHAM, N.H. - Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders drew an estimated 3,000 people to a boisterous rally here Sunday night at the University of New Hampshire, about five times as many people as Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton attracted to an event two days ago at the same campus."

Astonishingly, Forbes tells the truth on this: "Can America Afford Bernie Sanders' Agenda? [...] But returning to the main point, anyone who says the federal government doesn't have the budget to manage Sanders' (or anyone else's) programs doesn't understand how modern macroeconomies work. The federal government's budget is not analogous to your own and it cannot run out of money."
* It's probably not a very big deal that "Republican Poll Shows Bernie Tied for First Place with Trump and Carson in This State" in the Republican primary when that state is Vermont.
* "Why Hillary Clinton May Not Have The Female Vote Locked Up"

Bernie Sanders at Common Dreams: "We Must End For-Profit Prisons [...] No one, in my view, should be allowed to profit from putting more people behind bars -- whether they're inmates in jail or immigrants held in detention centers. In fact, I believe that private prisons shouldn't be allowed to exist at all, which is why I've introduced legislation to eliminate them."

It's not just that they limited the debates to just six with no outside debates allowed, it's also how they scheduled them: "And check out some of these dates: Saturday, November 14. Saturday, really? Who exactly is the DNC expecting to watch a Saturday night debate? But it gets better! Saturday, December 19. Yes, the Saturday six days before Christmas. Hmm ... I could attend a holiday party with my friends and loved ones, do some last-minute shopping, or watch a presidential debate. Why not just schedule it on Christmas Eve, FFS? But let's keep going through this debate schedule: January 17. That's the Sunday night of Martin Luther King Day weekend. This is absurd."
* "Democratic Party Shutting Out Bernie Sanders!"

"Hillary Clinton Wants Poor Students to 'Work' for Tuition - Though Her Dad Paid Hers [...] I'm not going to give free college to kids who don't work some hours to try to put their own effort into their education."

Andy Borowitz: "Ben Carson Shattering Stereotype About Brain Surgeons Being Smart."

"Americans Want Congress Members To Pee In Cups To Prove THEY Aren't On Drugs: While Congress pushes for drug tests for food stamp recipients, most Americans like the idea of drug testing members of Congress even better. A YouGov poll found that 78% of U.S. citizens are in favor of requiring random drug testing for members of Congress. A full 62% said they 'strongly' favor this, compared with only 51% who feel the same way about food stamp and welfare recipients. The support for this move was bipartisan, as 86% percent of Republicans, 77% of Democrats and 75% of independents support the mandatory drug tests for members of Congress."

David Dayen, "Leaked Seattle Audit Concludes Many Mortgage Documents Are Void: A Seattle housing activist on Wednesday uploaded an explosive land-record audit that the local City Council had been sitting on, revealing its far-reaching conclusion: that all assignments of mortgages the auditors studied are void. That makes any foreclosures in the city based on these documents illegal and unenforceable, and makes the King County recording offices where the documents are located a massive crime scene. The problems stem from the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), an entity banks created so they could transfer mortgages privately, saving them billions of dollars in transfer fees to public recording offices. In Washington state, MERS' practices were found illegal by the State Supreme Court in 2012. But MERS continued those practices with only cosmetic changes, the audit found." MERS was obviously a scam from the git-go, it's sole purpose to cheat their way out of paying required filing fees. Everyone who set this up should be arrested and thrown in jail for a long time.

"What Exxon Knew About Climate Change: Wednesday morning, journalists at InsideClimate News, a Web site that has won the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on oil spills, published the first installment of a multi-part exposé that will be appearing over the next month. The documents they have compiled and the interviews they have conducted with retired employees and officials show that, as early as 1977, Exxon (now ExxonMobil, one of the world's largest oil companies) knew that its main product would heat up the planet disastrously. This did not prevent the company from then spending decades helping to organize the campaigns of disinformation and denial that have slowed - perhaps fatally - the planet's response to global warming." (Thanks to commenter ifthethunderdontgetya for the tip.)
* "Citigroup: Tackling climate change now could save $1.8 trillion: Tackling climate change is expensive. But not as expensive as doing nothing, according to new research (PDF) published last week by global banking giant Citigroup."

It's not the hypocrisy that bothers me, it's just the fact that it's evil: "GOP Candidate Kasich Caught Providing Food Stamps to White Communities but not Black Communities. [...] In 2013, Governor Kasich could have accepted food stamp assistance for all of Ohio, as he had done for the previous six years. Instead, he limited the waivers to a handful of primarily rural counties with a large percentage of white residents. Urban regions with large minority populations and unemployment rates far above average have been denied the food stamp assistance. Furthermore, according to Kate McGarvey of the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC), Kasich had this decision rammed through with little or no debate - and for no apparent reason. She told Mother Jones, 'It was really fast - no advocates I know of were given a chance to give feedback on the wisdom of the partial waiver.'"

"Suit Alleges 'Scheme' in Criminal Costs Borne by New Orleans's Poor [...] On Thursday, Ms. Cain joined five other plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the criminal district court here, among others, alleging that judges and court officials have been running an 'illegal scheme' in which poor people are indefinitely jailed if they fall behind on payments of court fines, fees and assessments. The suit describes how fees are imposed with no hearing about a person's ability to pay, and how nearly all components of the local criminal justice system - the judges, the prosecutors, the public defenders - benefit financially to some degree."

"How an obscure drug's 4,000% price increase might finally spur action on soaring health-care costs"

This page from the Kaiser Family Foundation says, "Employer Family Health Premiums Rise 4 Percent to $17,545 in 2015, Extending a Decade-Long Trend of Relatively Moderate Increases," a price tag people in most of the word wouldn't believe could be placed anywhere near the word "moderate", but scrolling down you see deductibles have shot up incredibly.

"16 years ago, a doctor published a study. It was completely made up, and it made us all sicker."

"Nashville JCC Kicks Out Planned Parenthood." This is just crazy. But someone rides to the rescue: "The oldest and largest Jewish congregation in Nashville has opened its synagogue to Planned Parenthood for its annual Middle Tennessee fundraiser."

"Chick-fil-A Stops Anti-Gay Donations, Adopts Anti-Discrimination Policy." This may have something to do with the fact that their founder died last year.

"Anger after Saudi Arabia 'chosen to head key UN human rights panel'" - I really don't understand how this could even happen.
* "You Can't Understand ISIS If You Don't Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia."

There's a curious editorial in The New York Times complaining about how the Republican candidates are full of bollocks. It's like a blog post from 2001, except that they left out the part about how the reason candidates and political leaders and their spokesbots so confidently talk out of their backsides is that the media has been letting them get away with it for years and even encouraging it, trumpeting it, and firing people who won't play along. I'm looking at you, New York Times (and MSNBC).
* This is less surprising, from Counterpunch: "Red Neoliberals: How Corbyn's Victory Unmasked Britain's Guardian [..] Corbyn is not just threatening to expose the sham of the PLP as a real alternative to the Conservatives, but the sham of Britain's liberal-left media as a real alternative to the press barons. Which is why the Freedlands and Toynbees - keepers of the Guardian flame, of its undeserved reputation as the left's moral compass - demonstrated such instant antipathy to his sudden rise to prominence."
* "MSNBC Threw Liberals Under The Bus And Is Now The Lowest Rated News Network."

In These Times: "Why Radical Leftists Need To Stop Worrying and Back Bernie Sanders." The simple fact is that none of the other issues is going to go anywhere until we find some way to restore democracy, and we just aren't going to be able to do that unless something is done to knock the aristocracy off its perch and put power into the hands of the people, and that's about money. That's what Bernie's about, and if you see your chance, take it.
* And, interestingly, Counterpunch: "Sniping at the Sandernistas: Left Perfectionism in the Belly of the Beast."

Why Income Inequality Isn't Going Anywhere: Rich elites - even rich liberal elites - don't believe in redistributing wealth. [...] The conventional view of America as a classless society has long sided with Hemingway - the only difference is the money. But our results suggest that, at least when it comes to attitudes toward inequality, Fitzgerald is right: Elite Americans are not just middle-class people with more money. They display distinctive attitudes on basic moral and political questions concerning economic justice. Simply put, the rich place a much lower value on equality than the rest. What's more, this lack of concern about inequality among the elite is not a partisan matter. Even when they self-identify as progressive Democrats, elite Americans value equality less highly than their middle-class compatriots."

I wonder if his fans know this: "Friedrich Hayek Supported a Guaranteed Minimum Income: Not only that, he assumed it would exist."
* Oddly, David Frum, of all people, did notice it. "The Conservative Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income: Creating a wage floor is an effective way to fight poverty - and it would reduce government spending and intrusion."

These 10 Countries Are The Most Prosperous In The World, And They Don't Include The U.S.

Bruce Schneier on the Movie Plot Threat: Terrorists Attacking US Prisons: "Not just terrorists, but terrorists with a submarine! This is why Ft. Leavenworth, a prison from which no one has ever escaped, is unsuitable for housing Guantanamo detainees. I've never understood the argument that terrorists are too dangerous to house in US prisons. They're just terrorists, it's not like they're Magneto."

"David Cameron says he 'will not dignify' claims he put his genitals in the mouth of a dead pig." Ah, yes, you can almost hear LBJ saying, "But let's make the sonofabitch deny it."

"Progressive Change against Corporatism is Sweeping the World: Thom Hartmann Explains." For the record, the "s" in "Islington" is not silent. Like in "Israel".

"Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel." Funnily enough, I actually looked at that headline and thought about Ta-Nehisi Coates writing a comic about the Black Panthers.

"Orders pouring in for Lil' Bernie Sanders dolls hand sewn by Ludlow seamstress Emily Engel." I want one.

RIP: Yogi Berra, outstanding baseball player, coach, and manager, and famous sayer of lines people had to think about, at 90. However, the AP wire got it a little wrong.

Lovelace & Babbage build the first computer - in Lego.

Howie Klien remembers Hendrix: "I met Jimi Hendrix in 1967, before he went off to England and formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience."

Steve Miller and Paul McCartney, "My Dark Hour"

14:29 GMT comment


Saturday, 19 September 2015

In a time of possibilities

"Congress just passed a bill addressing police killings while no one was looking: After watching nationwide protests unfold against police brutality, members of Congress did what they have seemed incapable of doing for years: something. A bill passed by both chambers of Congress and headed to President Barack Obama's desk will require local law enforcement agencies to report every police shooting and other death at their hands. That data will include each victim's age, gender and race as well as details about what happened. 'You can't begin to improve the situation unless you know what the situation is,' bill sponsor Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) told the Washington Post. 'We will now have the data.'"

"Fringe No More: Sanders Takes Major Lead in Key Battleground States [...] The new CBS/YouGov poll finds U.S. Sen. Sanders (Vt.) with 52 percent support among Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, while former frontrunner Clinton receives 30 percent. 'Possibly more worrying for the Clinton campaign is her performance in Iowa,' writes YouGov US and UK assistant editor William Jordan - in that key caucus state, Sanders is now ahead by 10 points, with 43 percent to Clinton's 33 percent."
* Bernie makes the cover of TIME. Story: "The Gospel of Bernie: The man who brought fire back to the Democratic Party" - good title, 'cause that's about the size of it.
* Bernie visited The Late Show. I found this intro and his response to the important question of why he doesn't feel insulted when people call him a "liberal" and a "socialist".

Pelosi says the DNC "probably should" have more debates, but DNC doesn't care.

Bernie Sanders' speech at Liberty University
* Jim, a Liberty University Alumnus and evangelical Christian, explains his reaction to Bernie Sanders' speech - and why Bernie Sanders' message is Gospel. (Full audio here, transcript here.)
* Bernie Sanders: In-Depth Explanation of Income Inequality

David Dayen at The Intercept: Wall Street Journal's Scary Bernie Sanders Price Tag Ignores Health Savings: The screaming headline on Tuesday's Wall Street Journal reads 'Price Tag of Bernie Sanders's Proposals: $18 Trillion.' This would comprise 'the largest peacetime expansion of government in American history,' the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper warns. [...] But how did the Journal arrive at $18 trillion? They added up the 10-year price tags of seven programs Sanders has endorsed in his candidacy for president. It turns out that $15 trillion of the $18 trillion, or 83 percent of the total, comes from just one of these programs: establishing a single-payer health care system. What the Wall Street Journal won't tell you is that $15 trillion in national health spending over 10 years would represent a massive savings for the United States. Right now we spend at twice that rate for health care. [...] Accounting for cost inflation in health care and extending that out for 10 years, on our current trajectory we would spend more than $30 trillion, compared to the $15 trillion of a single-payer plan, which would totally supplant it." (Jerry Friedman objected to having his figures misused by the WSJ.)
* "Andrea Mitchell Pushes Wall Street Journal Hit Job On Bernie Sanders" - not a surprise, but Bernie had no trouble responding to that one.
* Matt Yglesias is a concern troll. Listen, you putz, if Bernie Sanders betrays Democratic women the way McGovern did, you can bet he will lose. But as long as he keeps being Bernie Sanders, that's not an issue. Meanwhile, Sanders is accessible in ways that McGovern is not. There's no "nuance" to confuse people, he just says it plain. No one is going to accuse him of being "too cerebral" when he keeps right on talking like an ordinary person.
* A Pro-Clinton Super PAC Is Going Negative On Bernie Sanders: The group links Sanders to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and the United Kingdom's new Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn." (HuffPo) And "David Brock Declines to Apologize to Bernie Sanders Over Jeremy Corbyn Comparison: The founder of the pro-Clinton group Correct the Record said that the comparison the UK labor leader was 'standard opposition research'." (Bloomberg) But, "Sanders sees burst of fundraising after opposition research against him surfaces." (WaPo)
* What Corbyn actually said

USA Today admits Hillary Clinton email scandal is a sham
* Is the NY Times out to get Hillary Clinton?
* Clinton's support erodes sharply among Democratic women: "Her college plan was going to give people $17 a month, What is that? That's not even a pizza"
* Clinton uses Biden to defend bankruptcy bill vote: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday said Vice President Joe Biden was part of the reason she backed a bankruptcy bill that liberals vehemently oppose. She was asked during a campaign stop in New Hampshire about a 2001 vote she made that was supported by the credit card industry, according to the Wall Street Journal. Consumer activists argued the bill would make it harder to consumers to hold credit card companies accountable. "It was Vice President Biden who was the senator from Delaware and the Republican co-sponsor that I was talking with, so I said I'd support it even though I'd opposed it before," Clinton said, according to the Journal. The bill did not end up passing, she added.
* "Hillary Clinton Goes to Militaristic, Hawkish Think Tank, Gives Militaristic, Hawkish Speech."

Charlie Pierce has a few words about the Republican debate.

Political Smearing: Project Islington
* Losing Their Grip: the Meaning of Corbyn's Win
* Pessimism after Corbyn [...] There is war coming in the Labour Party. Already, the bad-faith resignations and rumour-mongering of leading right-wingers signals the scale of resistance Corbyn will face. And that struggle will refract through its own institutional and ideological character the conflict that cleaves society as a whole, that between exploiter and exploited, between oppressor and oppressed. And the odds in that conflict remain stacked heavily in favour of the habitual victors. The Labour right have been caught off-guard, exhausted, and weakened by the loss of a major bastion of their power the size of Scotland. Ironically, the very processes of Pasokification that threaten the survival of Labourism as a serious force are also responsible for the chinks in the armour of the old guard, which have allowed Corbyn and his allies to make this audacious dash for power. But, also ironically, Corbyn's very victory, in its shattering of their complacent, internalised claim that There Is No Alternative (to them and their project), will galvanise the Labour right. They will not forgive this humiliation. Numb inertia is no longer their instrument: they will have to remember how to fight again. And remember they very soon will."
* Ian Welsh, "So, you supported Corbyn: here is what you MUST do if he is to survive and win
* Jeremy Corbyn's debut at Prime Minister's Question Time

"For first time, Alabama schools required to teach climate change, evolution: For the first time, Alabama students will be required to learn about evolution and climate change after the State Board of Education unanimously voted to update the science standard for 2016. The last time the science standards was updated was a decade ago."

New Mexico Court Orders Mother to Take Faith-Based Classes if She Wants Custody of Her Kids: Holly Salzman was ordered by a New Mexico district court to take conflict resolution classes stemming from a child custody case with her ex-husband. That sort of thing happens fairly often in these situations. The problem is that Salzman was told to see Mary Pepper (below), a Christian who pushed God on her during the court-ordered sessions. Pepper also turns out to be a freeloader who illegally holds her sessions in the public library and makes her clients collude in keeping her name off the arrangements and paying her under the table so she won't have to rent space for sessions.

"If You're From One of These Five States, You'll Likely Need a Passport for a Domestic Flight: Driver's licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, American Samoa, and New Hampshire will no longer be enough to get on a domestic commercial flight. The standard licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and American Samoa are considered 'noncompliant' with the security standards outlined in the Real ID Act, which was enacted back in 2005 but is being implemented in stages. Why are these specific licenses deemed sub-par? In these five states, getting a license doesn't require proof of citizenship or residency."

Nine police California officers arrested a black teenager and slammed him onto concrete while apparently arresting him for jaywalking.

Kansas Secretary of State Fires State Employee For Not Attending Church

Glenn Greenwald, "Arrest of a 14-Year-Old Student for Making a Clock: the Fruits of Years of Fear-Mongering and Anti-Muslim Animus"

"Desperate Elephants Shot With Poison Arrows Travel To Humans For Help ." I find it remarkable that they knew to go somewhere they had never been before in search of aid.

This is a speech by Chris Hedges where he talks about how he became who he is and where it got him, and a lot of it is interesting, but the bit toward the end where he talks about prisons really got to me.

Neil deGrasse Tyson geeks out with Edward Snowden.

Video on the first showing of Banksy's Dismaland

The UK's new Star Wars stamps

The Tide commercial and the sanctity of marriage
* Another Tide commercial

"The World's Most Beautiful Library Is In Prague, Czech Republic."

John Boorman's The Matrix

Gollum meets Hal Jordan

Black Violin: "Stereotypes"
(Story here.)

The lost legacy of David Ruffin

16:32 GMT comment


Monday, 14 September 2015

Face the music and dance

Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 2015: "The 2015 Labour Party leadership election was won by Jeremy Corbyn. The election was triggered by the resignation of Ed Miliband as Leader of the Labour Party on 8 May 2015, following the party's defeat at the 2015 general election. Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader, became Acting Leader but announced that she would stand down after the leadership election." Corbyn had 59.5% of the vote against the three other candidates.
* The new Labour leader himself says, "Britain can't cut its way to prosperity. We have to build it."
* Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership race in stunning victory - as it happened, complete with Billy Bragg leading everyone (including Corbyn) to sing "The Red Flag".
* Ellie Mae O'Hagan in the Independent: "5 reasons to be happy with Jeremy Corbyn's victory"
* Laurie Penny in The New Statesman: "What the Corbyn moment means for the left: At long last, the left is asking itself whether power without principle is worth having. [...] The 'electability' conversation is where it all becomes clear. The argument that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable is being made by three candidates who can't even win an election against Jeremy Corbyn. Their arguments are backed by two former prime ministers: Gordon Brown, whose main claim to fame is losing an election to the Tories in 2010, and Tony Blair, the Ghost of Bad Decisions Past. Both of them are making the case that the ability to win a general election is the first and only important quality in a leader after years of muttering and shuffling behind Ed Miliband, a very nice man whose middle name could have been 'Constitutionally Unable to Win a General Election'."
* Someone was asking me what it all means. Well, here's a bit of history to remind you of how it evolved that there seemed to be absolutely no one around to challenge the position of Tony Blair or any other New Labour politician, no matter how they might have been despised by most normal Labour supporters. John Smith, the Labour leader at the time, had to die of a sudden heart attack at the age of 56 for Blair to become the new party leader. Everyone was so happy to finally get rid of the Tories that no one seemed to scrutinize Blair enough to see that they wouldn't be getting rid of the Tories at all, just enthusiastically electing a wolf in sheep's clothing who had gone to Australia to kneel at Rupert Murdoch's feet and kiss his ring and then run around saying things like, "We're all Thatcherites now!" He won handily and made up some obvious lunacy about how Saddam could hit us with a nuclear bomb in 45 minutes or by next Christmas, apparently by magic since Saddam had never tested a nuclear device and had no delivery systems. Everyone was upset about the invasion of Iraq, but there was a problem. The only Labour politician who seemed to be in any position to challenge Blair's leadership was Robin Cook, a vocal opponent of the invasion and never an enthusiastic New Labour supporter. Cook, at 59, had a heart attack and fell and died while on holiday. By then, Bryan Gould, who might once have been competition for Blair, had already given up and returned to academic life in New Zealand, leaving no one with a high enough profile to fight for leadership, which left us with only Blair's hand-picked successor when Blair finally decided to retire to the Carlyle Group. (There was a short moment when the wonderful and much-loved Mo Molem might have been on the list of challengers, just before we learned about her cancer. She is still much missed.) As a sidebar, Blair pretty much turned the BBC into a sheepdog by attacking it for its now-proven-true report on how the Iraq intelligence had been "sexed up" to support Bush's invasion, forcing top heads to roll at the BBC and giving us a much less believable "news" organization. And all this time, Jeremy Corbyn was on the back bench and no one so much as fantasized in public about him ever being Labour leader, until New Labour drove the party to its worst ever crushing defeat this year against an unloved Tory government, and created this sudden opportunity, enlivening the Labour base and drawing many enthusiastic young people into the party. So that's a pretty big deal, and quite possibly big enough to win the next election, if Corbyn can manage to stay alive until then.
* There's an old anecdote about a new MP sitting in Parliament for the first time and expressing a certain excitement to be facing "the enemy", to which the man seated beside him, Winston Churchill, is purported to have said, "No, that is the Opposition Party. The enemy is all around you." It's worth remembering that Corbyn's enemies in the right-wing of the party worked hard to try to keep this from happening, but, happily, their image is so tarnished and New Labour so out of touch that their rhetoric doesn't even make sense to anyone other than Tories, so it simply didn't work. (This does not mean that they aren't still trying to sabotage him.) The Democratic Party establishment, however, is much more clever and well-rehearsed these days, and quite experienced at back-stabbing its own candidates - and still has many of its supporters so completely dazzled that even now they run around daily posting little "Facebook memes" touting the brilliance of Obama for "saving" the economy and reducing the deficit, as if he hadn't merely saved the banks from facing the music after robbing the country blind to pay off their gambling debts while Obama's austerity measures sucked more and more blood out of the remainder of the economy. For half the country, we are already in a depression, and these idiots are still bragging about how Obama saved us from another depression. Even if Sanders wins the nomination, it would be a mistake to think it's just the Republicans we have to worry about.

Harold A. Pollack in The Atlantic, on Saving SSDI. You can listen to Sam Seder's interview with him here.

Billionaires Try To Shut Down Bernie Sanders Headquarters "Why don't they inherit it just like we do?"
* Oh, look, someone put Jon Stewart's bit on Bernie Sanders where I could actually see it.

From HuffPo, "Dear America: Meet Bernie Sanders. Properly, This Time [...] No candidate is ever inevitable and no candidate is ever doomed -- that is not how democracy works. A society that continually wishes to achieve political change in the most passive way possible is not a society that will ever achieve political change. A candidate is only inevitable or doomed if the voting public decides that to be the case."

Hillary trailing Bernie in New Hampshire, 49-38
Bernie Sanders takes the lead over Hillary Clinton in Iowa poll: Poll released Thursday found 41% of likely Democratic primary voters in the crucial early voting state would vote for Sanders, versus 40% for Clinton." Not so much a lead as a statistical tie, but still good news for Sanders supporters.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar is feeling the Bern.

"Bernie Sanders picks up megaphone, walks union picket in Cedar Rapids [...] Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, joined perhaps 100 Cedar Rapids-area union workers in an 'informational picket' outside Penford Products, a corn processor where the Bakers Confectioners Tobacco Grain Millers union local 100G is negotiating a new contract with the management. Sanders strolled up to the picket shortly before 5:30 p.m., picked up a sign stapled to a long stick and marched with the crowd to a park across the street from the plant. [...] Sanders' boisterous, arm-waving speech went deep into the details of the union local's disagreement with Penford - even calling out the CEO by name and criticizing her pay package. At one point the microphone went out, but he continued in a loud, hoarse voice until the man who had been leading chants during the picket approached and handed him a megaphone, which he took and used to finish his speech." There's a bit of video here where it says you can read the full story, which maybe you can, but I didn't see anything much but the video there. Browser issue, or did you get that, too?
* Also, Bernie on undocumented immigrants and what they didn't do to wreck America's economy.
* The Raw Story says, "Bernie Sanders' popularity continues to soar - despite a conspicuous mainstream media bias against him," but if you check out this CNN stream, you can see there's been some coverage of him, anyway. Of course, this doesn't tell me how much most Americans are seeing of this stuff, since it's still broadcast television that seems to be the main source of news for most people.
* Imagine my surprise at learning that Bernie's brother stood for Parliament in the UK, for the Green Party. He lost to a white South African immigrant.

Not sure why the headline for this video says "Biden Presidential Run Could Destroy Hillary's Pro-Corporate Candidacy," but we all know which candidate is the real threat to Clinton's candidacy.

Now, I'm sure you all know that I have been against another Clinton going to the White House for a long time, but not because of the "email scandal", which is only a scandal in that the press keeps running with it. I don't care how she handled it, it just is not a serious issue and has nothing to do with anything, it's like Whitewater all over again - no There there. The real scandal - and it's a big one - is that the press keeps covering it even though I'm sure most of them don't even know if she did anything wrong or not, mostly because they don't actually read up on the news so they wouldn't know that even the Republicans can't actually point to anything wrong or illegal in this. And while sexism has always been a factor, I think the Clinton Rules are a bigger one, because the press went crazy against the Clintons after Bill Clinton was nominated and they have never stopped treating every single rumor and lie about either Clinton as the gospel truth, nor failed to find a way to brand even their most innocent activities as conniving and dishonest. And after it turned out the Republicans had been hacking the Democrats' emails, I don't blame Hillary for wanting to keep her correspondence on a separate server, anyway. I wouldn't even go so far as to call it dumb. Dumb would be reducing the number of Democratic primaries and keeping a low profile while the press has nothing much else to report in the race except to cover and re-cover the email "scandal".

"You can wave your arms and give a speech but at the end of the day are you connecting with and really hearing what people are either saying to you or wishing that you would say to them? - Hillary Clinton. And are you really hearing people recoil in horror against TPP and the XL Pipeline, Madame Secretary?
* "