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Avedon Carol presents:

The Sideshow

My motto as I live and learn is: dig and be dug in return. -- Langston Hughes
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Tuesday, 07 February 2017

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors

Michael Kinnucan in Current Affairs, "Why Republicans Are Impressive:

This asymmetry is what's so impressive about the modern Republican Party. It's not just that they've won, but that winning has put them in a position to enact an extraordinarily ambitious and radical agenda, one which will in the course of a few months destroy pillars of American government that have stood for fifty years or more. If Democrats are ever to be in a position to pass their own agenda (or merely to undo the damage that's about to be done), they need to play close attention not only to how the Republicans won in 2016 - a question over which much ink has been spilled - but to how the Republicans transformed themselves over a much longer timeline into a party that could transform the country when it won.

The lesson is this: in modern American politics, having an ideologically coherent and disciplined party is an advantage, not a liability. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom: during the 2016 primary, many Democrats, especially those who supported Clinton, worried about the 'purism' of the party's younger and more progressive wing: would it force the party to confront a choice between nominating ideologically progressive candidates who would be unelectable and facing mass defections to its left? After all, it was widely understood that candidates needed to 'pivot to the center' to win general elections. Clinton's claim to be a 'progressive who gets things done' was founded on this assumption: the notion was that Sanders' policies, even if you found them desirable, were unlikely to get done because it was too extreme, while Clinton's was closer to the center and therefore more achievable. Yet in 2017 the most extreme political party in decades seems poised to get more things done than any party since the Johnson administration. What's wrong with the conventional view?

The notion that it's easier to pass moderate policies than extreme ones takes its plausibility from the notion of the average or centrist voter. You can read about this voter in polling on policy issues. If your policy is fairly close to the views of the centrist voter, he's likely to vote for you and you're likely to win elections; the farther you get from this average view, the more difficulty you'll have. An extreme candidate will turn off centrist voters for the simple reason that they disagree with him. (It is through this logic that Mother Jones' Kevin Drum mistakenly concluded that Bernie Sanders would have lost against Donald Trump.)

The trouble with this theory is that in modern US politics it is by definition impossible for a major party to embrace policies which are 'extreme' in the sense of 'far from the consensus views of the average voter.' The average voter's policy views, to the extent that these exist at all outside this context other than as artifacts of polling, are largely determined not by any particular factual information about the issues or ideological commitments concerning the role of government but by the policy positions of the major parties. If one of these parties embraces a particular position on any given issue, the 40% of American voters who consistently support that party will come to adopt that position wholesale, while most of the rest will come to believe (and be encouraged by the media's carefully even-handed reporting to believe) that this position is at least reasonable and defensible if not correct. There are very few views so extreme and so indefensible that they can't garner mass support if repeated frequently enough by a major US party - just think of 'global warming is a hoax.'

Or think of the Democratic Party's position on what it calls "free trade", even though it isn't, and even though half the country is in a depression and in despair as a result of these odious policies.

Bernie Sanders' policies were not "extreme" by the standards of most American voters, but the discourse allows them to be called "extreme" because the Democratic Party leadership keeps saying they are extreme, despite the fact that many of these "extreme" policies have the agreement of 70%, 80%, and even 90% of Americans.

* * * * *

David Dayen in The American Prospect, "Dismantling Dodd-Frank -- And More: Candidate Trump promised to take on Wall Street. As deregulator-in-chief, he will be Wall Street's best friend. History teaches us that financial regulations die from a thousand cuts rather than a signifying event. As Cornell University law professor Saule Omarova puts it, 'Financial reform is like a big onion. The more layers you peel off, the harder you cry.' For example, by the time the Gramm-Leach-Bliley law removed the Glass-Steagall firewall between commercial and investment banks in 1999, that separation was already effectively wiped out - by administrative waivers granted by regulators. The 1994 Riegle-Neal Act that formally allowed banks to open branches across state lines came after a decade of states altering rules to undermine local control of finance. Deregulation of mortgage rules that led to the housing bubble rolled out over a 20-year period, spanning Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. And even then, it took the George W. Bush administration's laissez-faire supervision to really supercharge predatory lending. So while Donald Trump, populist rhetoric notwithstanding, promised on the campaign trail and on his transition website to 'dismantle' Dodd-Frank financial reform, he probably won't do it in one shot. He won't even have to do it through Congress. Here's the likely blueprint."

Samantha Bee talks to Lee Gelernt about stopping the Muslim ban.

"Nationwide General Strike Gains Traction, Scheduled For February 17." I do think we need one, but I'm not sure who these people are or whether the timing isn't awfully premature.

President Bannon nominates Neil Gorsuch, who in high school founded a club called Fascism Forever, to the Supreme Court.
* "About That Kissinger Quote Neil Gorsuch Likes..." What does it mean when someone "whose primary credential is his supposed textual fidelity to the Constitution" loves a quote that says, "The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer"?

"As Iran Dumps Dollar, Congress Quietly Slips in Bill for 'Use of Force Against Iran': On March 21, The Islamic Republic of Iran will cease using the U.S. dollar in all of its financial reporting. The decision to stop using the dollar as a reference has been in the works for some time but was expedited after the Trump administration decided to include Iran as one of the seven countries banned from entering the United States. [...] In fact, the United States is already preparing for potential conflict with Iran, the US has introduced H.J.Res.10 - Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution. This resolution was quietly introduced last month with absolutely no media attention in spite of the fact that it 'authorizes the President to use the U.S. Armed forces as necessary in order to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.'"

"San Francisco police cut ties with controversial FBI terrorism task force: The San Francisco Police Department is suspending cooperation with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces, or JTTFs, that have been accused by civil liberties activists of specifically targeting Arabs and Muslims, and violating their First Amendment rights."

The "centrists" always told us we were crazy and paranoid to think the anti-abortion people were after more than abortion. That's why now they are able to be right out in the open about it. "Anti-choice advocate admits to Joy Reid her ultimate goal is to make birth control illegal."

The Bannon White House doesn't want to hear from you, so they are diverting callers. Some techies who worked for Bernie Sanders have found a way to help you contact Trump anyway.

"Obamacare's Unlikely Defenders: The prospect of losing coverage and jobs has jolted a marginalized workforce into political organizing."

Yves Smith, "The Obama Administration Bails Out Private Equity Landlords at the Expense of the Middle Class: Government Guarantees for Rental Securitization [...] So in its waning hours, the Obama Administration gave a completely unjustified bailout to private equity landlords, that Fannie Mae is guaranteeing the income of all but the bottom tranches of Blackstone's latest rental securitization. Let us stress that there is absolutely no policy justification for this. The mission of the government sponsored agencies is to promote home ownership, not to give real estate speculators a 'get out of losses or underwhelming returns for free' card. Even worse, rather than forcing the private equity industry to take some well-deserved lumps for miscalculation, it will encourage them to continue to compete with lower-income prospective homeowners for purchasing properties. That means it will be even more difficult for young people to buy homes. Lambert has pointed out repeatedly in his stats wrap in Water Cooler that real estate markets are suffering from a shortage of homes. Having private equity continue to be on the prowl for lower priced properties that they know they can unload from an economic perspective means that the pauperization of the middle class is now official policy. Even though this guarantee clearly had to have been worked out during the Obama Administration, Blackstone did not make it public until it updated its filing with the SEC this week. It looks an awful lot like the timing was designed to make sure that the disclosure came after the new Trump team was in charge, meaning Obama would be unlikely to face the criticism he deserves, and the Trump Administration would be certain to let the deal stand."

"Donald Trump didn't come up with the list of Muslim countries he wants to ban. Obama did." This is actually a bit of spin, since it was not for the same thing. But: they're not countries that were associated with the 9/11 attackers, they're all countries we've bombed.
* Greenwald, "Trump's Muslim Ban Is Culmination of War on Terror Mentality but Still Uniquely Shameful."

"Army Corps of Engineers Directed To Clear Way For Dakota Access Pipeline: Jan 31 (Reuters) - Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline, U.S. Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota said in a statement on Tuesday."

"The Simple Psychological Trick to Political Persuasion: Conservatives are more likely to support issues like immigration and Obamacare if the message is 'morally reframed' to suit their values."

"The Left Needs to Be a Movement, Not a Bunch of Lobbyists: Democrats have been on a losing streak almost from the moment President Obama was inaugurated and began his program of appeasement and compromise. They lost control of Congress in 2010, and lost the White House last November, because they were not offering American voters a real progressive alternative. For decades now, the party and its elected officials in Washington have been DINOs (Democrats in Name Only). Corporatists as much as their Republican opponents, they have been posing as something different by playing to their base with things like support for gay marriage, support for the unenforceable and purely aspirational Paris Climate Agreement, and support for...um, well, it's actually a pretty short list when you think about what Democrats have been for lately that really rates as progressive. Recall that when President Obama came into office, with a solid Democratic majority in both houses of congress, he had won with a campaign in which he had vowed to restore open constitutional government, to make it easier for unions to organize, to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to kickstart the recession-mired economy with a burst of major deficit spending. He did none of that, and the Democratic Congress did none of it for him either. Obama and the Democrats paid for their lack of decisive progressive action by losing Congress two years later and it's been downhill ever since. Now they've lost the White House too. Unless that party wakes up and realizes that it needs a wholesale makeover, in the form of a return to its progressively assertive New Deal roots, it will lose the Congressional elections in 2018, and it will lose the presidential race in 2020, along with even more state governorships and statehouses (currently 32 of the 50 states are wholly in Republican hands)."

"Hamlet in the Age of Trump: Should Officials Resign When the Government Goes Crazy? This unusual question is presenting itself with urgent regularity as President Trump tries to overturn a wide array of sensible policies in his drive to implement a far-right agenda, including a chaotic travel ban aimed at Muslim immigrants. Yet it's a familiar question to a particular species of government official: those who have resigned to protest deplorable initiatives they disagreed with. The last time it happened on a significant scale was in the early 1990s, and George Kenney was at the epicenter. [...] What should a frustrated civil servant do? In recent weeks, The Intercept interviewed Kenney and the other officials who quit over Bosnia, and to a surprising degree, they generally agreed that dissenting officials should stay in their jobs as long as possible in the Trump administration, working inside the always-powerful machinery of bureaucracy to keep destructive policies from being implemented."

"Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warns, 'It all looks as if the world is preparing for war' [...] 'No problem is more urgent today than the militarization of politics and the new arms race,' he continued. 'Stopping and reversing this ruinous race must be our top priority.' Earlier this month, hundreds of U.S. tanks, trucks and troops rolled into eastern Europe as part of a NATO buildup - a move that Russia has rebuked as aggressive Western buildup. Meanwhile, President Trump has reportedly said he wouldn't mind having an arms race and has openly called for America to strengthen its nuclear weapons capacities. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also said modernizing Russia's strategic nuclear forces is a priority."

"Seymour Hersh Blasts Media for Uncritically Promoting Russian Hacking Story: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh said in an interview that he does not believe the U.S. intelligence community proved its case that President Vladimir Putin directed a hacking campaign aimed at securing the election of Donald Trump. He blasted news organizations for lazily broadcasting the assertions of U.S. intelligence officials as established facts. Hersh denounced news organizations as 'crazy town' for their uncritical promotion of the pronouncements of the director of national intelligence and the CIA, given their track records of lying and misleading the public." It's been pretty disgusting watching Democratic partisans use half-baked talking points and fabrications to try to discredit some of our most reliable reporters of the last 17 years, like Scahill and Greenwald and, yes, sometimes even Hersh. "'It's high camp stuff,' Hersh told The Intercept. 'What does an assessment mean? It's not a national intelligence estimate. If you had a real estimate, you would have five or six dissents. One time they said 17 agencies all agreed. Oh really? The Coast Guard and the Air Force - they all agreed on it? And it was outrageous and nobody did that story. An assessment is simply an opinion. If they had a fact, they'd give it to you. An assessment is just that. It's a belief. And they've done it many times.'"

Chelsea Manning in the Guardian, "Compromise does not work with our political opponents. When will we learn?"

Apparently, the Bannon White House is right about one thing. Turns out the popular president wasn't that popular. Of the last 12 presidents, it's no surprise to see that Kennedy had the highest popularity at the time he "left office" (70.1%), seeing as how he was assassinated and all. But even Johnson (55.1), Clinton (55.1), G.H.W. Bush (60.9%), W (49.4%) and Reagan (52.8%) were more popular than Obama when they left office. Only Ford, Carter, and Truman scored lower. Eisenhower's approval rating was 65% when he left office.

"How Democrats are getting played" - Or so it would seem. So far they are following the same playbook they used to let Scott Walker defeat them. Mass demonstrations are all very nice, but if they don't lead to people going out into the communities and finding a way to talk to strangers about the things they have in common and getting them onside, they end up being worthless.

Michael Hitzik, "Politicians aiming to cut Social Security and Medicare use weasel words to hide their plans. Let's call them on it. [...] We've been particularly wary of plans described as 'fixes' to Social Security and Medicare. As we've observed, these are invariably 'fixes' in the same sense that one 'fixes' a cat. But several other such weasel words surfaced in coverage of the confirmation hearing for Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), President Trump's budget director-designate. NPR reported that Mulvaney 'wants to overhaul' Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. CNN said that he 'wants to overhaul' the programs and believes they 'need revamping to survive' - a journalistic twofer! [...] Let's not allow these euphemisms to obscure Mulvaney's true opinions about these programs. He proposes to raise Social Security's normal retirement age to 70 (it now tops out at 67 for those born in 1960 or later), and to means-test Medicare. These are benefit cuts any way you define them. Mulvaney also has described Social Security as a 'Ponzi scheme,' a term he tried to evade during his Jan. 24 confirmation hearing. He said he was just trying to explain Social Security's cash flow, which 'takes money from people now in order to give money to people now.' That's not a Ponzi scheme. Moreover, that's not a full and accurate description of Social Security's cash flow, which collects money from people now and banks some of it to provide benefits for people in the future. (Do we really want a budget director whose understanding of one of America's most important fiscal programs is so vacuous?)"

Did I mention that MaxSpeak is back? (And while I would never say that demonstrations are useless - they're not - I do want to see people do more than just demonstrate. I'm happy to say that whatever made people numb-out over the last 17 years seems to be evaporating, but you still need to talk to people who don't already agree with you if you want to get something done.)

Alice Speri, "The FBI Has Quietly Investigated White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement: Bureau policies have been crafted to take into account the active presence of domestic extremists in U.S. police departments."

RIP: "Barbara Hale, 'Perry Mason' Actress, Dies at 94" (I liked the picture in this one, but there is a more detailed obit in the Telegraph, and still more with even more pictures in WaPo.) I always did like Della, a rare portrayal of a woman who was smart, competent, and efficient at something beside housekeeping and making dinner. And, of course, I liked it that there was a show on that reminded us every week that the accused is not simply "innocent until proved guilty", but sometimes even actually innocent.
* "Sir John Hurt, legendary British actor who starred in Alien, Harry Potter and Midnight Express, dies aged 77," of pancreatic cancer.
* Dan Spiegle, revered comic artist for almost everyone, at 96. Bleeding Cool has some more art in its write-up.

Dave Langford has posted Tom Shippey's eulogy for Pete Weston at Ansible.

"Should Progressives Let Corporate Democrats Lead and Be the Face Of the Resistance? [...] One of the side effects (or the main effect if you're cynically minded) of the constant and appropriate indictment of Donald Trump's policies is the rapid "disappearing" of those Democratic party actions that set the table for all Trump plans to do. This has two serious consequences. First, it puts neo-liberal, pro-corporate, pro-austerity Democrats first in line if Trump falls from grace and loses the consent of the governed. Which means competing progressive candidates would be mainly out of luck, and if Democrats won, we would likely get back a "fiscally responsible" Democrat who may want, for example, to "trim" Social Security, as Obama tried several times to do, instead of slash it, as Paul Ryan wants to do. [...] Putting austerity-loving Democrats first in line, though, wouldn't make them any more popular than they were the last time, when they lost a presidential squeaker that should have been blowout. And it puts them no closer to control of the House or Senate than they are right now, given their propensity to put up lackluster corporate candidates and kick real progressives to the electoral curb. In other words, putting corporate Democrats first in line to replace Trump is no solution at all from a "real progressive" standpoint - unless, of course, one is fully on board with a promise of incrementalism in a time that still demands rapid change."

Pretty sure the Churchill quote in "How to be a democracy under Trump" is spurious, but it's worth reading anyway.

"Democracy is Not a Team Sport [...] When we are aligned with a particular team, we tend to excuse and rationalize that team's bad behavior, because that team becomes attached to our own ego. We project our beliefs and feelings onto that team and its representative leader. Thus, any attack on the team becomes a personal affront, regardless of the fact that the team seldom cares about us. Consequently, Democrats rarely balked at Bill Clinton's roll-back of welfare, repeal of Glass-Steagall, enactment of an excessively harsh crime bill, passing of NAFTA, and deregulation of the Telecommunications industry. In addition, many Democrats justified or ignored Obama's increase in foreign wars, bail out of Wall Street, expansion of offshore oil drilling, extension of Bush's tax cuts to the wealthy, and promotion of free trade agreements that empower and enrich corporations. There is no direct Republican corollary to the actions of the Democrats because Republicans do not implement policies that would be otherwise considered Democratic. However, what occurs with Republicans is that when confronted with such policies from Clinton and Obama - policies that are inherently Republican in nature - the Republicans reject rather than support them because they originate from the wrong team."

Smart tweet storm by Matt Stoller on how to shape activism.
* Matt Stoller in The Washington Post, "Democrats can't win until they recognize how bad Obama's financial policies were: Two key elements characterized the kind of domestic political economy the administration pursued: The first was the foreclosure crisis and the subsequent bank bailouts. The resulting policy framework of Tim Geithner's Treasury Department was, in effect, a wholesale attack on the American home (the main store of middle-class wealth) in favor of concentrated financial power. The second was the administration's pro-monopoly policies, which crushed the rural areas that in 2016 lost voter turnout and swung to Donald Trump."

Larry E, "Excuses for failures of Democrats continue to come [...] So here's the kicker, the bottom line of what the Clinton campaign and the whole damn self-serving liberal political establishment got wrong: All that talk about the fears and frustrations, all that talk about economic stress, about the loss of things you had counted on, about the loss of hope that your children will have a better life, all that talk doesn't just apply to white people!"

"Game Over for Democrats? [...] Obama created Trump, the man didn't simply appear from the ether. Had Obama acted in good faith and kept his promises to shake up the status quo, end the foreign wars, restore civil liberties, hold Wall Street accountable or relieve the economic insecurity that working families across the country now feel, Hillary Clinton would have been a shoe-in on November 8th. As it happens, Obama made no effort to achieve any of these goals, which is why Hillary was defeated in the biggest political upset of the last century."

Freddie says, "the thing is that we're losing terribly: The thing about the left, whatever that is, is that we tells jokes. That's what we do. And this is what the people who tell jokes can't do: anything else. They can tweet, and they can joke, and they can mock, and they can fav each other's stuff, and they can make their memes and get in their sick burns. But what they can't do is win. All that pride, all that showy pride, that LOLing, that meme-making, that joking, that peacocking, that self-aggrandizing, swaggering style that's ubiquitous in left online circles... it's tied to nothing. No power. No movement. No plan. That's not fatalism. It's barely pessimism. It's a description of the world that, they know themselves, is simply and indisputably true."

Well, maybe using humor to promote a message can have value, as with "The Smothers Brothers: Laughing at Hard Truths." But that was a different president, and a different time. (And they still got kicked off the air for it.)

"It Will be Called Americanism: the US Writers Who Imagined a Fascist Future: From Sinclair Lewis and Philip Roth to Donald Trump's favourite film, Citizen Kane, US culture has long told stories about homegrown authoritarianism. What can we learn from them?"

The precinct captain's guide to political victory. You might need this.

"Signs Democrats Are Rejecting The Gutter Politics Of David Brock & Peter Daou" - I'm not sure I would class Peter with Brock, but I have to admit he has been pretty awful since the beginning of the primaries, and he's still doing it. (Ironically, I noted that in his tweets, he actually took a rare break from trashing voters and pushing the Russian Traitor meme to ask why Senate Democrats weren't standing up to Trump. It was an act of will not to respond.)

"How Author Timothy Tyson Found the Woman at the Center of the Emmett Till Case: With a renewed cultural interest in the 1955 murder that catalyzed the 20th century civil rights movement, an interview with the author of a new book who tracked down the long-hidden woman at its center."

Jimmy Carter in The Onion, "You People Made Me Give Up My Peanut Farm Before I Got To Be President."

"The Best Mary Tyler Moore Episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show" - You can find some of these, or at least the significant scenes, on YouTube if you don't get Hulu. I found the whole of "Oh How We Met on The Night That We Danced", so far.

"Man Photographs Caiman Wearing a Crown of Butterflies in the Amazon"

Kubrick's brainstorms for the title of Dr. Strangelove

OMG, there's an ap for that? Lickster (Looking carefully, I wouldn't say their aim is true, though.)

Nicely done: Blade Runner fan film (11 minutes)

01:14 GMT comment


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

You know the sheriff's got his problems too

Some new guy was sworn in as president. A lot of people expressed their displeasure. A lot.
* What President TrumPence did on Day One and Two and Three.

Obama does good, but:
* "Chelsea Manning: majority of prison sentence commuted by Barack Obama: Chelsea Manning, the US army soldier who became one of the most prominent whistleblowers of modern times when she exposed the nature of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who then went on to pay the price with a 35-year military prison sentence, is to be freed in May as a gift of outgoing president Barack Obama. In the most audacious - and contentious - commutation decision to come from Obama yet, the sitting president used his constitutional power just three days before he leaves the White House to give Manning her freedom. Manning, a transgender woman, will walk from a male military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on 17 May, almost seven years to the day since she was arrested at a base outside Baghdad for offenses relating to the leaking of a vast trove of US state secrets to the website WikiLeaks." But some people, despite being very relieved to see Manning freed, are not applauding Obama. And "Behold the worst reactions to Chelsea Manning's commutation ."
* "President Obama Pardons Oscar Lopez Rivera: After spending more than three decades in a Chicago prison, Puerto Rican political prisoner Oscar López Rivera was among the 64 prisoners pardoned by President Obama on Tuesday (Jan. 17). The Vietnam War veteran, who became the longest-held political prisoner in the history of Puerto Rico after being sentenced to 70 years in prison for "seditious conspiracy" back in 1981, will be released in May."
* However, though even "The US Attorney who prosecuted Leonard Peltier is now asking President Obama to free him," "President Obama won't commute Native American activist who killed FBI agents despite plea from Pope Francis." That should say "who allegedly killed FBI agents," but nevermind. "Ultimately, even the FBI in later appeals admitted it could not be sure Peltier pulled the trigger on the shots that felled the two agents - but insisted the charges against him should stand as an 'aider and abettor.'"

Marcy Wheeler wonders if Assange hasn't come to think that maybe those leaks were from Russian hacks and he could be in the line of fire. She thinks he's being paranoid (or not) about Putin's goons, but Putin is not the only one who has goons. He is in Britain, after all, where people have been known to die with amazing convenience to certain western leaders.

However, someone at HuffPo wants to point to "The Domestic Conspiracy That Gave Trump The Election Is In Plain Sight: Information presently public and available confirms that Erik Prince, Rudy Giuliani, and Donald Trump conspired to intimidate FBI Director James Comey into interfering in, and thus directly affecting, the 2016 presidential election. This conspiracy was made possible with the assistance of officers in the New York Police Department and agents within the New York field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. All of the major actors in the conspiracy have already confessed to its particulars either in word or in deed; moreover, all of the major actors have publicly exhibited consciousness of guilt after the fact. This assessment has already been the subject of articles in news outlets on both sides of the political spectrum, but has not yet received substantial investigation by major media." I still am not sure whether anything related to emails affected the election, but if anything did, it was Comey's late October surprise, and not anything to do with the WikiLeaks.

Ray McGovern at Consortium News, "Obama Admits Gap in Russian 'Hack' Case: Oops. Did President Barack Obama acknowledge that the extraordinary propaganda campaign to blame Russia for helping Donald Trump become president has a very big hole in it, i.e., that the U.S. intelligence community has no idea how the Democratic emails reached WikiLeaks? For weeks, eloquent obfuscation - expressed with 'high confidence' - has been the name of the game, but inadvertent admissions now are dispelling some of the clouds."

"Gaius Publius: Who's Blackmailing the President & Why Aren't Democrats Upset About It? [...] Yet a summary of this widely-considered-unreliable dossier appeared in the classified briefing the U.S. intel chiefs presented to Donald Trump. Why? The obvious answer is to blackmail Trump for their own purposes."
* "The Deep State Goes to War With President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer

Taibbi: "The Russia Story Reaches a Crisis Point: Have we ever been less sure about the truth of an urgent news story? Three days into the 'Russian dossier' scandal, which history will remember by a far more colorful name, we still have no clue what we're dealing with. We're either learning the outlines of the most extraordinary compromise to date of an incoming American president by a foreign power, or we're watching an unparalleled libel and media overreach."

Matt Taibbi talked to Sam Seder about Insane Clown President and other things, on The Majority Report.

"Booker And The Other Big-Pharma Democrats Have No Excuse. Here's The Vote That Proves It. It's devastating, and potentially lethal, when Americans can't afford life-saving drugs because their elected representatives are in thrall to Big Pharma. It's disappointing when Democrats offer implausible excuses for their votes, as Sen. Cory Booker and twelve other senators did this week. And it's downright outrageous when those same Democrats claim their votes were driven by drug safety concerns, since all twelve voted to lower drug safety standards when they supported the 21st Century Cures Act. If Booker and the others hadn't broken with their party and ignored the needs of the American people, a budget amendment from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar would have paved the way for the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, where they cost far less than they do in the United States. This was a rare opportunity for bipartisan progress. Twelve Republicans broke with their party to support the amendment. If these Democrats hadn't moved the other way, it would have passed. Their betrayal crushed one of the few remaining rays of hope for the millions of Americans whose health and financial security are endangered by the new Republican Congress."
* Zaid Jilani and David Dayen, "Cory Booker Joins Senate Republicans to Kill Measure to Import Cheaper Medicine From Canada."
* Michael Hitzik, "The 21st Century Cures Act: A huge handout to the drug industry disguised as a pro-research bounty [...] If universal praise for a measure makes your B.S. detectors twitch, you're on the right track. The 21st Century Cures Act is a huge deregulatory giveaway to the pharmaceutical and medical device industry, papered over by new funding for those research initiatives. The punchline is that the regulatory rollback is real, but the funding may not be - it's subject over the next decade to annual appropriations by Congress that might never come."
* "Meet Cory Booker's Top Donor: A Right-Wing, Islamophobic, Pro-Israel Outfit That Backs Trump's Extremist Agenda: At a recent town hall, Booker's responses to questions about his bigoted donors were baffling."
* For the record: Hillary partisans in my Facebook feed are railing against "BernieBros" for being upset with Brooker et al. over this Pharma vote.

"DNC Chair Candidate Tom Perez Refuses to Support Ban on Corporate Money and Lobbyists: Labor Secretary Tom Perez, one of the leading candidates for chair of the Democratic National Committee, has stumbled in recent days when asked about his position on money in politics. Asked at a DNC forum in Phoenix last Saturday whether he will 'revive President Obama's ban on corporate donations to the DNC' and a ban on appointing lobbyists as party leaders, Perez demurred. 'It's actually not that simple a question,' Perez responded, adding that such a move might have 'unintended consequences.' Perez argued that such a ban might impact 'union members who are lobbyists,' though the question explicitly only addressed corporate lobbyists. Speaking to the Huffington Post, Perez has refused to clarify his position on resurrecting President Obama's ban on lobbyist donations to the DNC, which was overturned by former DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., during Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency."

"Obama Expands Surveillance Powers on His Way Out: With mere days left before President-elect Donald Trump takes the White House, President Barack Obama's administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation's intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about innocent people."

"Republican Lawmakers in Five States Propose Bills to Criminalize Peaceful Protest [...] The proposals, which strengthen or supplement existing laws addressing the blocking or obstructing of traffic, come in response to a string of high-profile highway closures and other actions led by Black Lives Matter Activists and opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Republicans reasonably expect an invigorated protest movement during the Trump years."

"Congress moves to give away national lands, discounting billions in revenue: Though recreation on public lands creates $646bn in economic stimulus and 6.1m jobs, Republicans are setting in motion a giveaway of Americans' birthright. In the midst of highly publicized steps to dismantle insurance coverage for 32 million people and defund women's healthcare facilities, Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away Americans' birthright: 640m acres of national land. In a single line of changes to the rules for the House of Representatives, Republicans have overwritten the value of federal lands, easing the path to disposing of federal property even if doing so loses money for the government and provides no demonstrable compensation to American citizens. At stake are areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forests and Federal Wildlife Refuges, which contribute to an estimated $646bn each year in economic stimulus from recreation on public lands and 6.1m jobs. Transferring these lands to the states, critics fear, could decimate those numbers by eliminating mixed-use requirements, limiting public access and turning over large portions for energy or property development.

"Erik Prince in the Hot Seat: ERIK PRINCE, founder of the now-defunct mercenary firm Blackwater and current chairman of Frontier Services Group, is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies for attempting to broker military services to foreign governments and possible money laundering, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the case."
* "Scahill: Blackwater Founder Erik Prince, the Brother of Betsy DeVos, Is Secretly Advising Donald Trump: Right, well, Robert Mercer, the billionaire hedge funder, his daughter Rebekah ran one of the most important super PACs to Trump, Make America Number 1 super PAC. And Trump - and Erik Prince and his mother, Elsa, were two of the largest contributors to one of the most significant super PACs that supported Donald Trump. Erik Prince is very close to Robert Mercer. Prince was also at the "Heroes and Villains" party that Mercer threw in Long Island after the election. And, in fact, there's a picture that Peter Thiel, the right-wing billionaire who destroyed Gawker - a picture of Peter Thiel, Donald Trump and Erik Prince, that Peter Thiel says is not safe for the internet. But it's clear that Erik Prince, through Betsy DeVos, through Robert Mercer and through his very right-wing paramilitary crowd, has the ear of President-elect Donald Trump. And our understanding, from a very well-placed source, is that Prince has even been advising Trump on his selections for the staffing of the Defense Department and the State Department." And Prince wants to resurrect a version of Operation Phoenix. His sister, of course, is President Pence's pick to destroy public education and funnel public funds to religious "schools".

Dean Baker, "NYT Says Davos Elite Are Concerned Because Public Doesn't Buy Their Lies Anymore. [...] The concern in Davos is that the public in western democracies no longer buys the lie that they are committed to the public good rather than lining their pockets. It is nice that the NYT is apparently trying to assist the elite by asserting that they have an interest in "free trade," but it is not likely to help their case much."

* * * * *

Someone called a civil rights icon a bad word, but Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Report isn't moved. "Is It Time To Revoke John Lewis's Lifetime Civil Rights Hero Pass?" he asks.

It's not like Lewis has lacked new chances to serve the people this last half century. He's represented a metro Atlanta district in Congress the past 28 years. Ruled by black mayors and the black political class since 1973, Atlanta has billed itself as 'Black Mecca' though for more than half of black Atlanta there's been little to celebrate. Black mayors have relentlessly gentrified the city, starting with the Carter Presidential Library in the 80s, the Olympics in the 90s, and after that demolition of public housing, privatization of the land under it, and the BeltLine project which steals $150 million annually from Atlanta's public schools to build yuppie housing and shopping destinations. Marquee 'development' projects have driven a six figure number of poorer black residents from the city. John Lewis never says a mumbling word about any of this. John Lewis never publicly contradicts the black Atlanta mayors who crack down on the homeless, who line up for the privatization of public property, public transit and public schools. Perhaps being a Legendary Civil Rights Hero puts him above all that.

Supporting Hillary Clinton last year, Lewis spoke out against free health care and free college tuition which many countries grant their young people, explaining that 'free stuff' was just not the American Way. Lewis was also an early member of the Democratic Leadership Council, which irretrievably locked that party into subservience to its one percenter donors.

Sometimes members of Congress can undo historic wrongs. Lewis blew one such chance when he doubled down upon the expulsion of the descendants of black freedmen from the Cherokee nation in which they had once enjoyed voting rights.

John Lewis calls himself a pacifist and never misses a chance to lecture on the supreme utility of nonviolence. But the US Navy is building a ship with his name on it, a 'fleet replenishment oiler' to resupply warships on deployment. Isn't this an 'honor' a pacifist should reject? And shouldn't our Apostle of Non-Violence vote against every arms giveaway, sale and Pentagon budget? John Lewis doesn't. Like most other members of the Black Caucus Lewis votes to fund mass surveillance and re-arm the apartheid state of Israel with depressing regularity.

* * * * *

And here was Politico's view last week of the state of the contest for the Democratic Party chairmanship.

"The Audacity of Obama's Farewell Address" - he can brag all he wants to (the gods know there are plenty of partisans and personality cultists to do it for him), but his real record doesn't look so good. "The true legacies that will be remembered long term will be the accelerating rate of income inequality, the real basis for the growing divisions in America, and the near collapse of the Democratic Party itself."

"The Sanders Conundrum" - Everyone agrees he's got the right message, but is Bernie giving too much cover to the wrong people by sharing a stage with the likes of Chuck Schumer?

"Chuck Schumer, Leader of the Resistance, Keeps Approving Trump's Nominees" 'I looked at their records ... and I think they'd be very good," Schumer said of Mattis and Kelly."

Old Cue Ball, of all people, gets it right when establishment Dems get together: "There were real disagreements about the right course of action. But speaker after speaker said the party's reliance on demographic trends had made it complacent on matters of economic justice. This had cost Democrats not just the presidency, but governorships and hundreds of state legislature seats across the country. 'The Democratic coalition lives in the economy, all right?' former Bill Clinton campaign manager James Carville told reporters. 'The idea that somehow it's only white working-class people that live in an economy - blacks, Hispanics, unmarried women, gay people ... they're like everybody else.'"

"Trump Team Targets Iran: Saudi Arabia dominates above all other nations as a supplier of suicide bombers, and its royal family dominates as the world's top financial backer of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups, but incoming President Donald Trump has chosen to lead his national-security team, only people who blame Iran and not Saudi Arabia, as being the main source of international terrorism. All four of the persons selected by U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump for the top U.S. national-security posts are committed to replacing the outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama's #1 military target, Russia, by a different #1 military target, Iran. Iran has long been the #1 military target in the view of Michael Flynn, the chosen Trump National Security Advisor; and of James Mattis, the chosen Trump Secretary of Defense; and of Dan Coats, the chosen Trump Director of National Intelligence; and of Mike Pompeo, the chosen CIA Director."

"The Clinton Foundation Shuts Down Clinton Global Initiative: The Clinton Foundation's long list of wealthy donors and foreign government contributors during the 2016 elections provoked critics to allege conflicts of interests. Clinton partisans defended the organization's charitable work, and dismissed claims that it served as a means for the Clintons to sell off access, market themselves on the paid speech circuit, and elevate their brand as Hillary Clinton campaigned for the presidency. But as soon as Clinton lost the election, many of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton Foundation were reaffirmed. Foreign governments began pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization's clout was predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic work."

"How the American Postal Workers Union Scored One of its Biggest Wins Ever: Members of one of the largest labor unions for post office workers are celebrating the success of a three-year campaign to roll back a commercial alliance between the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and office supplies retailer Staples that threatened a major advance in the privatization of the national mail system. Coming just before the accession of Donald Trump to the White House, the victory marks one of the most successful corporate campaigns by any labor union during the Obama era." They organized all of the related unions to act together, but more importantly, an alliance outside of the various postal workers' unions: "But the act of solidarity that carried the most powerful punch was the decision by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) to support the boycott. According to Dimondstein, 'There are 3 or 4 million teachers in this country, and in a lot of cities and towns the teachers are given the power to go out and buy school supplies. For Staples, these are customers who come back year after year. This is market power that has real meaning to corporations like Staples.'"

James Kwak, "A Change Is in the Air: There was one moment, when I was finishing up the manuscript of Economism, that I thought someone had already said what I was trying to say in the book." That someone was, of course, John Maynard Keynes in the 1920s.

"Ringling Bros. Circus to Close After 146 Years." Wow. I once spent two weeks traveling with the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Blue Show on the west coast. It was a little society of its own and even had some of its own laws. I wouldn't say it was magical or anything like that, but it had its own little dramas and history and culture and I feel sad for the people who had that dream and now will have no place to take it. These people aren't just losing their dreams or a job, by the way - they live in the circus, so they're losing their homes, too.

RIP: Maggie Roche, oldest of The Roches, at 65. The three sisters were quite popular in 1979 when their album came out, and they continued to work until 2007.
* "Clare Hollingworth: The Reporter Who Broke the News of World War II: The veteran British journalist, who scooped the story of Hitler's invasion of Poland on her third day on the job and later unmasked Soviet spy Kim Philby, has died at 105."
* "Mary Tyler Moore, Who Incarnated the Modern Woman on TV, Dies at 80" Of course, she will alwaays be the woman who's voice I hear saying, "Awww, Rob!"

* * * * *

Kim Moody asks and answers the question of Who Put Trump in the White House?

[...]

While there was a swing among white, blue-collar and union household voters to Trump, it was significantly smaller than the overall drop in Democratic voters.

While recent voter suppression laws demanding state-issued photo IDs in some 17 states along with the racial cleansing of voter rolls in many states have undoubtedly limited voting for Blacks, Latinos and low-income whites, most non-voters don't vote because they don't see anything compelling to vote for.

At the same time, working-class voter participation has remained low in part because the political parties have reduced the direct door-to-door human contact with lower-income voters in favor of purchased forms of campaigning, from TV ads to the new digitalized methods of targeting likely voters.(12)

[...]

It's not that no doors are knocked on or phone calls made, but the algorithm that decides the limited number of actual voters to be visited or called to turn out the vote in practice has meant identifying the better-off part of the population. The Get-Out-The-Vote campaign has become the Get-Out-The-Well-To-Do-Votes canvass. More importantly, the shaping of the political process, already an auction, is being even further outsourced to the profit-making 'expert' firms that provide this service.

In short, despite all the vast amounts of money raised and deployed, all the digital and 'expert' sophistication available to this 'party of the people' and Clinton's allegedly massive 'ground game' force in the 'battleground' states, the Democratic Party as a whole no longer can or tries to mobilize enough of those among its traditional core constituencies - Blacks and Latinos, as well as white workers and union members - to win national and even state offices in these key states.

To be sure, Clinton won the popular vote nationally, perhaps as John Nichols gloated in The Nation by an 'unprecedented' margin that might run as high as two million or more. The problem is that 1.5 million of that can be accounted for from Clinton's margin over Trump in New York City alone.(16) The majorities in the coastal states of California and New York by themselves accounts for more than her net majority; the rest of the country continues to see its Democratic vote stagnate or decline.

* * * * *

"Applying God's Law: Religious Courts and Mediation in the U.S."

Collectable Hieronymus Bosch Figurines

Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne, "Mohammed's Radio"

20:46 GMT comment


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Now it looks as though they're here to stay

I remember back in the earlier years of this century there were a few jokes going around about getting rid of the south. I even linked to a couple of them, I understand the impulse that well. Or I did. But right now I'm seeing people discuss things like partitioning the country without even the least bit of humor. I think it's time for this article again, with specific attention to that last map.

One of the loopier themes I've seen on my Twitter feed accepts that Clinton was the wrong candidate but posits that this is because she wasn't a "sensible" candidate like, of all people, Barack Obama. This is a bit like the people who seemed to think that Michael Bloomberg was the perfect candidate. Or maybe they are even the same people, I don't know. After seeing the behavior of Democrats over the last few months, I have no idea how many of them might find excuses to support him, but the simple fact is that he's never been able to rouse much enthusiasm and there's every reason to believe he'd just be another loser. But, as Branko Marcetic says in "Nobody for Bloomberg," the fetish of the elite for "sensible centrism" isn't sensible and certainly isn't popular among voters. Obama didn't win because he was "sensible", he won because he was charismatic and symbolic and anyway everyone was sick of Bush. But on policy, "Despite the certainty of political elites that the path to political success sits directly down the middle - a belief typically based on nothing but gut instinct - there is plenty of evidence that policies typically considered far to the left enjoy broad support." Obama was certainly not being sensible when he referred to people who opposed Social Security cuts - about 90% of Americans - as "the crazy far-left." That's exactly the kind of thing that makes people lose their minds and vote for the likes of Trump. "This is the trend for a whole host of other supposedly far-left policies. Large majorities of Americans believe money has too much influence on politics and want campaign finance reform. 58 percent favor replacing Obamacare with a federally funded health insurance program, with only 22 percent in favor of repealing it with no replacement. 61 percent say the wealthy pay too little in taxes. Just over half think the Obama administration failed to do enough to prosecute bankers. And 54 percent agree with the statement that a 'political revolution might be necessary to redistribute money from the wealthiest Americans to the middle class.' The ideas championed by 'firebrands' like Sanders are not fringe policies to be abandoned in the rush to the center. They are the center."

It's nice to know there is someone showing enough leadership to be talking about what matters. "Bernie Sanders: We need serious talk on serious issues: In my view, the media spends too much time treating politics like a baseball game, a personality contest or a soap opera. We need to focus less on polls, fundraisers, gaffes and who's running for president in four years, and more on the very serious problems facing the American people -- problems which get relatively little discussion. I hope that's what our town meeting on CNN tonight will accomplish."
* CNN Bernie Sanders Town Hall 1/9/17, with Chris Cuomo.

Meryl Streep made a little speech at the Golden Globes that upset right-wingers but generated lots of applause among everyone else. Almost, but James Risen had a real point at the end of December when he said, "If Donald Trump Targets Journalists, Thank Obama."

Norman Solomon, "The Democratic Party Line That Could Torch Civil Liberties - and Maybe Help Blow Up the World [...] Many top Democrats are stoking a political firestorm. We keep hearing that Russia attacked democracy by hacking into Democratic officials' emails and undermining Hillary Clinton's campaign. Instead of candidly assessing key factors such as longtime fealty to Wall Street that made it impossible for her to ride a populist wave, the party line has increasingly circled around blaming Vladimir Putin for her defeat. Of course partisan spinners aren't big on self-examination, especially if they're aligned with the Democratic Party's dominant corporate wing. And the option of continually fingering the Kremlin as the main villain of a 2016 morality play is clearly too juicy for functionary Democrats to pass up - even if that means scorching civil liberties and escalating a new cold war that could turn radioactively hot.

Glenn is absolutely right about anti-Russia hysteria, and his scathing evaluation of Howard Dean's McCarthyism is spot on. Watching this craziness is disgusting. And Glenn is also absolutely right that Democrats need to stop obsessing on Russia conspiracy theories and address the real and present danger of Republicans' plans to destroy our institutions. Now.

Jimmy Dore is right, too, that when even Tucker Carlson can tear you full of holes, you really need to get your act together - and nothing in this whole Russia scare is doing any good for the American people, or even for the Democratic Party.

The Baltimore Sun has William Binney and Ray McGovern saying the Emails were leaked, not hacked, and they certainly have more credibility than all these other "experts".

Leonid Bershidsky has no love for Putin, but even he doesn't bye the Russian hacking story. The trouble with these "security" people who think they know what happened is that they start with inference and keep building. Their stack of assumptions makes the whole story shaky, weak as the foundation is.

Meanwhile, people are working overtime to make Julian Assange look like the villain who gave Trump the election - even at the Guardian, which ginned up some juicy quotes it made up and spread all around the net.

At The American Conservative, the whole thing looks like "Christmas Crackers, Moscow-Style." I just can't help but concur.

And Matt Taibbi says, "Something About This Russia Story Stinks." Well, it does.
* And Marcy Wheeler On the Joint Analysis Review, AKA the False Tor Node Positives Report says, "As I noted here, everyone agrees that the Joint Analysis Report released with Obama's sanctions package is a shitshow (here's the best explanation of why). But aside from complaining about how the shitshow JAR undermines the Administration's claims to have confirmed Russia's role in the DNC hack, no one has tried to explain why the Administration would release such a shitshow report."

Micah Lee checked some data. "The U.S. Government Thinks Thousands of Russian Hackers May Be Reading My Blog. They Aren't. After the U.S. government published a report on Russia's cyber attacks against the U.S. election system, and included a list of computers that were allegedly used by Russian hackers, I became curious if any of these hackers had visited my personal blog. The U.S. report, which boasted of including 'technical details regarding the tools and infrastructure used by Russian civilian and military intelligence services,' came with a list of 876 suspicious IP addresses used by the hackers, and these addresses were the clues I needed to, in the end, understand a gaping weakness in the report. An IP address is a set of numbers that identifies a computer, or a network of computers, on the internet. Each time someone loads my website, it logs their IP address. So I searched my web server logs for the suspicious IP addresses, and I was shocked to discover over 80,000 web requests from IPs used by the Russian hackers in the last 14 months! Digging further, I found that some of these Russian hackers had even posted comments (mostly innocuous technical questions)! Even today, several days after publication of the report (which used a codename for the Russian attack, Grizzly Steppe), I'm still finding these suspicious IP addresses in my logs - although I would expect the Russians to stop using them after the U.S. government exposed them. [...] I found out, after some digging, that of the 876 suspicious IP addresses that the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of National Intelligence put on the Russian cyber attacker list, at least 367 of them (roughly 42%) are either Tor exit nodes right now, or were Tor exit nodes in the last few years."

Barry Lynne in The Washington Monthly, "Democrats Must Become the Party of Freedom: Re-embracing anti-monopoly will reinvigorate American liberty and beat back Trumpism."

* * * * *

"Here's what to tell people who love to remind blacks that Democrats were pro-slavery in the 19th century"

In 1932, about 70% of blacks voted for Republican Herbert Hoover but by 1936 a historic realignment began. Most Blacks were poor before the Great Depression and they continued suffering, even more than whites, during it; black poverty and unemployment rates were about twice as high than for whites. Though Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies did not target black poverty - and Southern Democrats managed to carve out huge, racist exceptions that severely disadvantaged blacks - millions of blacks benefited. FDR's wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, also pushed him toward black equality, earning her the enmity of sexists and racists alike.

As a result of tangible gains, African Americans started voting Democratic. In 1936 71% voted for FDR, perhaps the single most dramatic shift of any group of American voters in a four-year period.

* * * * *

Matt Taibbi, "The Vampire Squid Occupies Trump's White House" - It does seem that Trump is appointing an awful lot of people who Obama should have put in jail.

Did I mention that Trump's expected nominees seem to be mostly people who should have been prosecuted by the Obama administration? Well, they are. And Steve Mnuchin is one of those people who should have been aggressively prosecuted for numerous documented crimes leading up to and evolving from the financial crisis, but funnily enough, he was never prosecuted. Who was the state AG who made that decision? "The Elephant in the Room Is a Donkey (Reflections on Kamala Harris) [...] In other words, how many Democratic leaders wish they had run the general election with Sanders in the lead? Not one. Just listen; you won't hear a single regret. There's no point in controlling the country, as they see it, if they don't control the party as well. Without control of the party, which of their donors would back them? With Sanders jailing Wall Street bankers, where who would pay Chuck Schumer to stay in office? With Sanders in the White House, the current class of Democratic leadership would have to find new donors - actual humans perhaps, as Sanders did - or retire from public life on their previous gains and lobby for a living."
* David Dayen wrote the story on Mnuchin on 3 January, with a follow-up on the 5th, "Kamala Harris Fails to Explain Why She Didn't Prosecute Steven Mnuchin's Bank. Former California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday vaguely acknowledged The Intercept's report about her declining to prosecute Steven Mnuchin's OneWest Bank for foreclosure violations in 2013, but offered no explanation. 'It's a decision my office made,' she said, in response to questions from The Hill shortly after being sworn in as California's newest U.S. senator. 'We went and we followed the facts and the evidence, and it's a decision my office made,' Harris said. 'We pursued it just like any other case. We go and we take a case wherever the facts lead us.'" But as near as I can tell, her office advised her to prosecute, and the decision not to was made entirely by Kamala Harris.

It's always worth remembering The Powell Memo: A Call-to-Arms for Corporations.

Naturally, Al From is in the Guardian trying to sell more of his snake oil. "Conventional wisdom among many pundits and Democratic strategists is that to win over more of them, we need to offer a populist agenda - associated with senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren - that rails against the wealthy. This thinking would also relegate the growth-oriented New Democrat-Third Way agenda associated with President Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, which I played an active part in promoting, to the scrapheap of history. I disagree. In fact, I believe the opposite is true." What he does believe is warmed-over GOP rhetoric that was a lie when we first heard it, and still is.

And, naturally, Labour is much too busy trying to bring Corbyn down to worry about fighting the Tories, so "Strategy to bring down Unite's Len McCluskey revealed in election campaign document."

"TPP: How Obama Traded Away His Legacy: Donald Trump is preparing to wipe President Barack Obama's legacy from existence. The Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank and protections for the environment and immigrants all are set to disappear in no part small part thanks to President Obama himself and his relentless advocacy for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) right through Election Day."

Paul Street, "Barack Obama's Neoliberal Legacy: Rightward Drift and Donald Trump" - the inauthentic opposition earned us this.

Cornell West, "Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama: Our hope and change candidate fell short time and time again. Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility." West actually gives Obama more slack than I would.

Gaius Publius, "How Obama Traded Away His Legacy: I'm about to say the obvious, but with so many dots getting connected in this post-election, pre-Trump interregnum, I want to connect just these two and let the obvious sink in. Obama's push for TPP not only cost Clinton the election (among other factors, of course), it very likely cost Obama his legacy - all of it."

Jon Schwarz, "Chuck Schumer: The Worst Possible Democratic Leader at the Worst Possible Time: When Barack Obama leaves the White House, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer will almost certainly be elected Senate minority leader - and therefore become the highest ranking Democratic official in America. That's a terrible roll of the dice for Democrats, because Schumer might as well have been grown in a lab to be exactly the wrong face for opposition to Donald Trump." He's got a list.

Torture apologist Alan Dershowitz says he'll leave the Democratic Party if Keith Ellison is made chair of the DNC. Dershowitz has gone full-Likud since 9/11, it's embarrassing.

Hating the poors is universal, even in the UK. Apparently, feeding the poor makes a mess.

"Amicus: Corruption in the White House: [N]o person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state." Zephyr Teachout talks to Dahlia Lithwick about "why the Emoluments Clause is so important, and why Trump's planned violation is a pretty serious affront to our Constitutional history."
* Pierce on the same subject, "If We Tolerate This, What Won't We Tolerate?"

"The Crimes of SEAL Team 6: Officially known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, SEAL Team 6 is today the most celebrated of the U.S. military's special mission units. But hidden behind the heroic narratives is a darker, more troubling story of 'revenge ops,' unjustified killings, mutilations, and other atrocities - a pattern of criminal violence that emerged soon after the Afghan war began and was tolerated and covered up by the command's leadership."

"I've translated this chart of the Davos crowd 5 priorities for 2017 into human language."

"Backpage Shutters 'Adult' Ads Section Following Years of Government Bullying [...] Backpage CEO Carl Ferrer and his associates have been subject to lawsuits, criminal charges, economic bullying, and Congressional hearings - the latest of which will take place today, January 10, before the U.S. Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations - in an attempt to thwart this supposed sex trade. But after proclaiming innocence and pushing back and for several years, Backpage will now - 'as the direct result of unconstitutional government censorship,' its lawyers said in a statement - comply with demands to end its adult-ad section. [...] Last fall, former California Attorney General Kamala Harris tried to convict Ferrer and former Backpage.com heads Michael Lacey and James Larkin (founders of Village Voice media) of pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping. A judge threw out the charges, saying they were unconstitutional and violated federal law, which specifies - under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act - that third-party publishers can't be held criminally liable for the content of user-generated posts. Section 230 doesn't just stop sites like Craigslist and Backpage from getting in trouble if someone posts a prostitution ad there but allows Reddit to exist without its CEO getting charged for every credible user threat, keeps Facebook from being shut down after some 20-year-old picks up a 17-year-old girl there, prevents Craigslist from being found guilty every time someone rips someone off over a used washer, and stops the feds from coming after Reason.com when the comments section contains unsavory content." The claim is that shutting down he adult ads protects children. In fact, it does the reverse.

Rick Perlstein, "He's Making a List: Donald Trump and Richard Nixon have at least one thing in common: They are the two most paranoid and vindictive men ever to win the presidency. Both came to power armed with enemies lists, vowing to seek revenge against those who stood in their way. Both roamed the mansions of power late at night, raving against every perceived slight. Both were caught on tape describing the ways they enjoyed bending others to their will."

Bernie Sanders talks to Amy Goodman on Democracy NOW!

Atrios goes long on Nice Things, and there are eight whole paragraphs here so I'm not going to quote the whole thing, but it's one of the longest things he's written, and he's right: "We're the richest damn country in the history of the world (close enough, anyway). Life shouldn't be so hard. Not against The Data, but the data doesn't really capture what's going on for "the middle class." It isn't that wages are stagnant or shrinking - though that's an issue too! - It's that doing the right thing and having a tiny bit of luck is no longer enough to achieve economic security anymore. Life's a crap shoot from 18-67 (soon to be longer, if Republicans get their way). We're all one medium sized economic hit (including medical) away from the downward spiral. And thanks to that glorious bankruptcy bill, once you get into a hole you're probably trapped there. Bipartisany goodness to make David Broder swoon. 74-25 in the Senate, 302-126 in the House. But the Dems are the good guys! Yah, well, not enough of them and not consistently enough. Vote for Dems and the share of them voting for horrible things will shrink slightly! And it isn't complicated. Thinking that it is complicated is the problem. There are better and worse ways to achieve things, and the wonks can fight it out, but the point is to achieve them. And, really, given how small the nice things budget is who cares?"
* Also a little bit longer than I want to quote all of, Atrios says, "Can't Appeal To The Judges," so, "Fight the agenda. The man isn't going anywhere." Yes, dammit, fight the agenda.
* Damn, he did it again, on "Fissures: One can draw too many inferences from a life spent online, but I see a lot of antagonism towards The Left, and by The Left I just mean people who, before the whole Clinton/Sanders spat erupted, were pretty solidly in the mainstream of the online Left, a group which was the on the left wing of the democratic party, but not exactly planning on leading the communist revolution. Policy positions that I thought were pretty standard fare are now dismissed because they're associated with Sanders, and therefore associated with Berniebros, and therefore the people who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton and therefore the people who are to blame for all of this. There are a lot of assumptions in there (and of course I'm making gross generalizations I recognize), as on the internet no one knows you're a dog. But basically there's a chain of them which goes from support of policy ideas which were pretty standard stuff before the primary means you didn't vote for Clinton which means it's all your fault." Go read the rest.

"Twelve Must-Reads From The Intercept in 2016" - I did miss some of these when they came out.

"The Molly Ivins Alternet Archive

Press release for the Age of Twitter: "CONGRESSMAN LIEU STATEMENT ON THE CONFIRMATION HEARING OF REX TILLERSON: #RexTillersonKnew."

RIP: Peter Weston (1944-2017), of complications of cancer. I first met Pete when he came to DC for his TAFF trip at the 1974 Worldcon, Discon II, and of course have had many encounters with him since, not only at conventions, but in my home in London when he came around to put his head together with the resident fanhistorian. We saw more of him after he was diagnosed and coming around with boxes of memorabilia to give a new home to, as well as background and photos for the final version of Then. He was always easy to get along with and good at infecting you with his enthusiasm, and he is the man who made the Hugos. His last box of fan memorabilia arrived only a a month or two ago. We'll miss him.
* "Nat Hentoff, Journalist and Social Commentator, Dies at 91: Nat Hentoff, an author, journalist, jazz critic and civil libertarian who called himself a troublemaker and proved it with a shelf of books and a mountain of essays on free speech, wayward politics, elegant riffs and the sweet harmonies of the Constitution, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 91. His son Nicholas said he was surrounded by family members and listening to Billie Holiday when he died."
* "Carrie Fisher, Star Wars actress, dies aged 60" - You already know what the obits say. Me, I always enjoyed her interactions with Craig Ferguson. But this is where I first saw her. A little different from Princess Leia. And here she was at the AFI.
* Debbie Reynolds DEAD AT 84, while planning arrangements for her daughter Carrie's funeral. Reynolds and Eddie Fisher had been America's sweethearts until he left her for Elizabeth Taylor.
* "Watership Down author Richard Adams dies aged 96"
* I see there were a few I didn't hear about in TCM Remembers 2016, and more in In Memoriam: Remembering Those We Lost in 2016, THE LOST LEGENDS OF 2016: IN MEMORIAM, and In Memoriam 2016. Of course, they'd all jumped the gun, so they missed Carrie and Debbie.
* And they also missed "William Christopher, Father Mulcahy on 'M*A*S*H,' Dies at 84," of lung cancer, on New Year's Eve, exactly one year after the death of co-star Wayne Rogers.

Kevin Smith on Alan Rickman

Russian Photographer Daniel Kordan Captures Breathtaking Photos Of Milky Way Mirrored On Salt Flats In Bolivia

"Bernie Would Have Won." Well, it's just possible he might have.

Live in Munich, 1966, "Yesterday"

18:23 GMT comment


Monday, 26 December 2016

Felicitations of the season

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

* * * * *

Ryan Cooper in The Week on "2009: The year the Democratic Party died" is probably the best explanation for what happened this November, and I recommend you read it all:

There are unquestionably many factors behind this result. But I want to focus on the biggest one that was completely under Democrats' control. It is the same thing that killed the Republicans of Hoover's generation: gross mishandling of an economic crisis. Democrats had the full run of the federal government from 2009-10, during the worst economic disaster in 80 years, and they did not fully fix mass unemployment, nor the associated foreclosure crisis. That is just about the most guaranteed route to electoral death there is.

[...]

So when the crisis happened, the main thing the political system managed to do was fling money at bankers until the financial sector was stabilized. Afterwards, the idea that bankers might have committed crimes - might in fact have had whole floors of people committing crimes all day long - was simply too big to swallow. So Democrats - many of whom no doubt had plush consulting gigs in the back of their mind - basically looked the other way. No bankers went to jail, and over nine million people lost their homes.

This is not to absolve Republicans of their obstruction in Congress or President-elect Donald Trump or anything else. But the fact of the matter is that Democrats had two golden years to fix the depression, restore the housing market, hold Wall Street to account, and cement a new generation of loyal Democrats, and they bobbled it.

President Obama's spectacular charisma - and his savvy campaign against a filthy rich vulture capitalist in 2012 - papered over these problems to some extent. But for most of his presidency America has basically ceased to function for a huge fraction of the population. Fair or not, the party perceived to be responsible for that situation is going to be punished at the polls.

I have a few quibbles with Cooper - it's not that the party "did not fully fix mass unemployment, nor the associated foreclosure crisis," it's that they just didn't fix it and didn't try to. Their priority was clearly saving the bankers, despite the fact that these people had damn-near wrecked the world with their criminal enterprise. Everyone down-plays the fact that the reason they "had to" go into court with forged documents in the first place was because they'd set up an illegal mechanism to by-pass the ordinary filings and transaction fees that are required for any sale of real property to take place. The banksters found it too cumbersome to obey the law and record transfers of title, and decided it cost them too much to pay the legally required fees, so they invented MERS to paper-over the fact that they weren't doing it. And the courts were letting them get away with foreclosing on properties where they not only didn't hold the titles but couldn't even begin to guess where they were. Did the Obama administration make any effort to rein this in? No, they did not, and the same criminality is still going on.

And, meanwhile, Democrats are bragging about the fact that Obama cut deficits. He did this by reducing government expenditure, which in part was done by reducing government jobs. Those were jobs that needed doing, and those paychecks were money that needed to keep going out into the real economy. This had nothing to do with Congress - it was all in the executive's hands. Cooper is right about this: Barack Obama's decisions in the early part of his first term were devastating to the country and to the party.

"Majority of jobs added under Obama administration are temp, part time - study" - But you knew that, right? "Jobs that come with access to healthcare, vacation time, the occasional sick day and Social Security and Medicare taxes paid through employers have declined under Obama's presidency. One-million fewer people are working steady jobs than they were at the beginning of the recession, according to a study authored by Lawrence Katz at Harvard University and Alan Krueger at Princeton University." I'm old enough to remember when the only people who took part-time and temp jobs were people who actually wanted to work part-time or temp because it fit better into their lifestyle. People who wanted a full-time job looked for, and got, full-time jobs. Some people just weren't suited to that kind of permanent slot, but they've been pushed out of the part-time or temp market by people who are. And today's version of a "part-time" job is very often really full-time or worse, when your time is never your own and employers practice wage-theft as a matter of course. (And yes, the link is to RT, and I've already seen Clinton partisans treat the story as Russian propaganda, even though they must know it's true. Or are they really that dumb?)

"Democrats are wasting no time in repeating the mistakes they made in the 2016 primary. The race for DNC chair is getting heated. Shortly after the election, it looked like it was going to be a cakewalk for Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison. He quickly racked up all the right endorsements - Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer and the AFL-CIO and Bill de Blasio. (OK maybe not that last one.) He did the rounds on the Sunday shows, saying all the right things about broadening the party's base - bringing white working class voters back into the fold without losing its progressive, multicultural base. But then things started to shift. The Obama White House was not thrilled with the idea of Ellison leading the DNC - and many of the leaks have suggested that they were uncomfortable with Ellison's identity (he's black and Muslim), more than anything else. Labor secretary Tom Perez jumped into the fold with the White House at his back. And now, Ellison is dealing with opposition research dumps - something of an oddity in a race for party chair."

It was always obvious that the Clinton team was convinced they did not need any Sanders people or any advice from "the left" that supported him. People from the Sanders team tried to help Clinton but no one would listen. They wanted to get out there and talk to people in Wisconsin and Michigan and they wanted to talk about issues and what they got back from the Clinton team was talking points for how to answer the Comey email crap. They were clueless. Naturally, Cenk has steam coming out of his ears about this, and he's right.

"Why Did Planned Parenthood Supporters Vote Trump? A series of maddening focus groups suggest Clinton made it easier for voters to reconcile themselves to Trump. [...] "

"UN Resolution Is a Breath of Hope in Sea of Darkness and Despair: It's now even more crystal clear: The world thinks the settlements are a crime. All the settlements and all the world.

"Wisconsin Election Officials Reject Hand Counts After Electronic Scanners Make Big Mistake." Even the judge admitted it was the best way to look at what the real vote had been and what the error rate was, but ruled against hand-counts anyway.
* "Why Clinton Didn't Push for Michigan Recount [...] When Joe Biden said, "Our electoral system is the envy of the world," I'm thinking, he's only been to Kazakhstan then. Because when I'm in London for the BBC, when I'm in Berlin for ARD, their giant station there, when I'm in Buenos Aires, for the big southern South American stations, they are both laughing and terrified of what our system's going to come up with next. No one thinks our system works. When I did the story, The Steal of Florida, with wiping out black men, calling them felons and it was fake, the rest of the world got that story on page one in The Guardian, top of the nightly news BBC -- all over the world, everywhere but the United States. In fact, if it weren't for The Real News Network, I'm not sure much of it would've finally made it through that electronic Berlin Wall."
* For the sake of completeness, Bruce Schneier, in "Auditing Elections for Signs of Hacking", points out that being able to audit machine reports against paper ballots is a national security issue.

"There is more than one truth to tell in the awful story of Aleppo: Our political masters are in league with the Syrian rebels, and for the same reason as the rebels kidnap their victims - money. Western politicians, 'experts' and journalists are going to have to reboot their stories over the next few days now that Bashar al-Assad's army has retaken control of eastern Aleppo. We're going to find out if the 250,000 civilians 'trapped' in the city were indeed that numerous. We're going to hear far more about why they were not able to leave when the Syrian government and Russian air force staged their ferocious bombardment of the eastern part of the city. And we're going to learn a lot more about the 'rebels' whom we in the West - the US, Britain and our head-chopping mates in the Gulf - have been supporting."
* Atrios probably has a better understanding of Syria than most of them do: "As far as I can tell (news reports are sometimes contradictory), we had a program of arming moderate rebels which put a bunch of weapons there and then we discovered that our rebel fighting force wasn't too "moderate" (whatever that means) and wasn't that interesting in fighting for "us." Then we had the Saudis arm rebels and that didn't work too well. Then we tried to cut some sort of deal with Russia and Assad and that didn't turn out too well. We're notionally supporting some "rebels" (yay Star Wars!) against Assad and Assad against some rebels. And now there are a bunch of good liberals making holocaust comparisons (I don't want to downplay what's going on there, but there is a lot of propaganda which makes it harder to really know what's going on there). You know, the usual "never again" stuff. Go read the rest.

The liberal media: "Venezuela Brings Toys to Poor Kids, Gets Called 'Grinch' on CNN."

Just in case anyone gets the idea that Republicans are serious when they talk about the sanctity of elections and the right of the winner to get their wish list, there is North Carolina, where Republicans are so steamed that a Democrat won the governorship that they're hurriedly passing laws to block gubernatorial powers. "First, for weeks after the close election, Gov. Pat McCrory refused to concede to Attorney General Roy Cooper, demanding recounts and alleging, without evidence, widespread voting fraud. It didn't get him anywhere. So on Wednesday, during a hastily convened special session, Republican lawmakers introduced bills to, among other things, require State Senate confirmation of cabinet appointments; slash the number of employees who report to the governor to 300 from 1,500; and give Republicans greater clout on the Board of Elections, the body that sets the rules for North Carolina's notoriously burdensome balloting." They also want to weaken the state supreme court, which has a 4-3 Dem majority.
* Mark Joseph Stern in Slate, "North Carolina Republicans' Legislative Coup Is an Attack on Democracy: The trouble in North Carolina began when Republican Gov. Pat McCrory lost his re-election bid, likely because of his support for the anti-LGBTQ law known as HB2. At the same time that voters replaced McCrory with Democrat Roy Cooper, they ousted a conservative state Supreme Court justice in favor of a progressive. That tilted the balance of power on the court to a 4-3 liberal majority, ending an era in which the court's conservatives could rubber stamp the legislature's voter suppression and gerrymandering."
* Someone asked how it is that they have all these destructive plans ready and waiting all the time. Where do they come from? A right-wing think-tank called Civitas. But when I google Civitas, all I see is their own propaganda. Even Wikipedia is just their bumph repeated. But here's Jane Mayer in 2011, "State for Sale: A conservative multimillionaire has taken control in North Carolina, one of 2012's top battlegrounds."

Hm, I wonder whose idea it was to appoint the CEO for Secretary of State.... Oh, well, at least the prince of darkness is on board: "At the center of the pitch for Tillerson: Richard Cheney and Marco Rubio [...] What's not clear is whether these Republicans are working with Trump's blessing or cooperation - or whether, instead, they are freelancing their own agenda to promote an official they favor for Trump's administration. Rice and Gates run a consulting firm that counts ExxonMobil as a client."

"Yale History Prof Timothy Snyder's 20 Pts for Defending Democracy under a Trump presidency." Some of these look good. Some make me curious.

* * * * *

Paul Ryan is trying to privatize everything, cut taxes for the rich, ban abortion - you name it, he's ready to pass the whole right-wing wish list - so, of course, Democrats are all over the place ranting about the extreme importance of doing something about Russians "influencing" our elections. There are a lot of things wrong with treating this as a priority, given that no one seems to care that we can't even count our own ballots, but there's also the fact that the emails that may have turned the election weren't the WikiLeaks mails, but the ones that were on Hillary Clinton's home server. And, in fact, it's not really the emails themselves, but just the fact that she had them on her own server and Comey kept dribbling out announcements about how he might or might not be doing something-or-other about the server maybe not being appropriate. The WikiLeaks mails, of course, told us nothing we didn't already know, but rather confirmed what many were saying anyway. But Comey's continual hints that there might be a subpoena or something in the future, well, that seemed to unnerve a lot of people. Although even that is in question since the polls tightened a little bit before Comey's infamous last announcement before the election - oh, around the time Hillary called Trump voters "deploraables". But seriously, and I'm not making this up, my feeds are full of partisan Dems talking for all the world like the Russians committed an act of war by (allegedly) telling us that Democrats were actually just what they seemed. Did Putin want Trump to win? Quite possibly. When his opposition seems to constantly be trying to encourage a war between his country and our own, I can see his point. Come to think of it, I don't want to see my country go to war with another nuclear power, either. (Or maybe they just want revenge for this.) But the idea that Russia can be blamed for our ills is a bit far-fetched, or as Juan Cole says, "No, America, it wasn't Russia: You did it to Yourself." Indeed, and since Bernie Sanders pretty much handed Clinton a blueprint for what she needed to do to win, the sheer arrogance of her campaign in tossing it into the fire is all the explanation we need.

So, it seems pretty clear that there's still not much to write home about when it comes to Russian hacks, but it seems most people still haven't learned to read the news for tell-tales. And, as Glenn Greenwald says, "Anonymous Leaks to the WashPost About the CIA's Russia Beliefs Are No Substitute for Evidence." Yet Democratic partisans have suddenly developed a touching faith in the integrity of the CIA.

The assumption that it's all about the Russians would appear to fall apart with Craig Murray's Description of WikiLeaks' Sources. Marcy picked this apart, too. And though Bloomberg was not as sarcastic as Murray, they were skeptical about the sourcing, too.

But hey, this story keeps changing by the day. It would be funny if everyone wasn't taking it so seriously. Marcy: "The DNC's Evolving Story about When They Knew They Were Targeted by Russia: This week's front page story about the Democrats getting hacked by Russia starts with a Keystone Kops anecdote explaining why the DNC didn't respond more aggressively when FBI first warned them about being targeted in September. The explanation, per the contractor presumably covering his rear-end months later, was that the FBI Special Agent didn't adequately identify himself."

Marcy Wheeler in The New York Times, "I Despise Donald Trump, but He's Right to Be Skeptical of C.I.A. Leaks," with a further note at her own blog, "16 Words: 'The British government has learned that Vladimir Putin recently sought significant quantities of votes for Trump'," for those who get that reference.

"The DNC Breach and the Hijacking of Common Sense: In the physical world of crime investigation, common sense dictates that the perpetrator of a crime may use any weapon and not just one made in the country of his birth, and that the developer or manufacturer of the weapon most likely isn't the criminal. And yet, those seemingly crazy assumptions are made every day by cybersecurity companies involved in incident response and threat intelligence."

* * * * *

In other stupid Democrat news, there was a move on to convince Republican electors to switch their votes in the Electoral College vote to officially choose the president. The extreme unlikeliness of this time-wasting enterprise just made me wonder how insane people are. There they all were, ignoring the blatant plans the Republicans in Congress and from state to state were making plain for a wholesale destruction of our country, and all they could think about was doing something that held no promise of any useful outcome. (Unless you think fomenting war with Russia is a useful outcome.) As it turned out, two Republicans did switch their votes - one to Kasich, and one to Ron Paul, but four Democrats did - three to Sanders, and one to Faith Spotted Eagle of the Yankton Sioux Nation, organizer and activist against Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline. "Democratic electors in other states attempted to change their vote for Clinton, but they were shot down by state laws. Only one other faithless vote was counted, and it went to Bernie Sanders in Hawaii. That vote was cast by David Mulinix, who said that he would have voted for Clinton if President-elect Donald Trump had not already won the Electoral College by the time that he placed his vote." Except last I heard, that wasn't true, either. Then there was something about Sanders votes being switched to Colin Powell? I don't know, the internet is full of conflicting stories but the bottom line is that the Dem's case for being a "faithless elector" mostly only worked on other Dems.

There is some sign of leadership , going on, though: Bernie Sanders Persuades Trump Voter That She's Actually a Liberal - In 2 Minutes (Watch the whole thing.)
* Jacobin says, "Power and Persuasion: Bernie Sanders's nationally televised town hall spotlighted the type of politics we need to beat Trump."
* "Bernie Sanders' Speech And QnA On Trump's Victory"

And also, Sarah Silverman interviews Bernie Sanders - this was fun as well as downright inspiring.

"The Democratic Deficit: As the dust settles following last month's Brexit vote, elites seem to be coming to the same conclusion about what's ailing the United Kingdom and the rest of the advanced capitalist world: an excess of democracy."

The Hill, "Biden: Clinton never figured out why she was running: Vice President Biden believes Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election in part because she never figured why she was running for the nation's highest office. 'I don't think she ever really figured it out,- Biden told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Thursday. 'And by the way, I think it was really hard for her to decide to run.' As evidence, the vice president pointed to similar concerns raised privately by Clinton allies in hacked emails that were published by Wikileaks in the midst of the campaign."

Dean Baker, "The Trade Deal Crusaders: Can They Never Learn? Viewing the unpopularity of failed trade deals as being a problem of messaging is a denial of reality that deserves the name Trumpian. In the last 15 years, millions of workers have lost jobs due to imports and tens of millions have seen weaker wage growth - this is not a problem that will go away with better messaging. "

"Higher Profits for Companies Does Not Translate Into Higher Investment" - Not exactly a news flash, but it would come as news to the Washington press corps.

Diane Ravitch, "Chicago: Charter Schools Do Not Outperform Public Schools, Despite Rahm's Claims: Rahm Emanuel wrote an article in the Washington Post a few days ago, defending school choice (and putting him in the same camp as Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump). He gave the example of charter schools in Chicago to support his claim. But a recent analysis of charter school performance in Chicago says that they do not measure up to the public schools, even though they get to choose their students and benefit from the extra money of philanthropists and hedge fund managers."

Shaun King, "Obama and the Clintons still have no earthly idea why the Democratic Party lost the presidential election: Over the past few days, the Obamas and the Clintons have made a series of statements on why the Democratic Party lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. The statements, if anything, reveal what happens when politicians are isolated from the American public for so long. While some nuggets of truth could be found there - by and large they all severely miss the mark on how and why Hillary Clinton lost. Instead of looking internally at mistakes they made, they continue to look outward - casting blame on anybody and everybody but themselves."

The Wall Street Journal, "Shifting Political Landscape in U.S. Prompts Saudi Arabia to Rethink Financial Strategy: With U.S. political climate unclear, Saudi's sovereign-wealth fund could pause investments."

I get so tired of being told how Obama saved us from the financial crisis. No, he didn't. I explain this to people over and over, I just wish they'd read David Dayen. "Obama Failed to Mitigate America's Foreclosure Crisis: The country's first black president contributed to a significant disintegration of wealth for people of color. [...] Former Representative Brad Miller calls the crisis 'an extinction event' for the black and Latino middle class." David talked about this, and a lot of other things, on The Majority Report.

Hm, this sounds kinda fascist. "'Alt-Right' Trolls Are Targeting DC's DIY Music Houses: The Washington area has a long and mostly proud tradition of houses that lend themselves as venues for up-and-coming bands. But in the last few days, some residents of those houses have become guarded after discovering their homes' names and addresses targeted in online message boards populated by members of the white nationalist movement known as the 'alt-right.'"

Noam Chomsky with Amy Goodman and Harry Belefonte

"Why Russia Shut Down NED Fronts: The neocon-flagship Washington Post fired a propaganda broadside at President Putin for shutting down the Russian activities of the National Endowment for Democracy, but left out key facts like NED's U.S. government funding, its quasi-CIA role, and its plans for regime change in Moscow, writes Robert Parry."

"Federal Bureau of Prisons Renews Contract With the Company Formerly Known as CCA: So much for the Justice Department's plan to phase out private prisons. The private prison company formerly known as the Corrections Corporation of America - recently rebranded CoreCivic - announced Tuesday that the Federal Bureau of Prisons will extend its two-year contract with the company, despite recent findings of inadequate supervision and gaps in oversight of private prisons. In August, the Department of Justice announced that it would phase out its use of private prisons. The announcement came on the heels of a blockbuster Mother Jones investigation of a Louisiana CCA prison by reporter Shane Bauer, and just one week after the DOJ's inspector general released a report that found shortcomings in safety, security, and oversight at private prisons used by the government. The Bureau of Prisons is a subsidiary of the DOJ." Remember, Obama is still the president.

"Leaked Audio: Dakota Access Pipeline Executive Says 'Election Night Changed Everything' and DAPL 'Is Going Through' [...] 'We now are going into a transition where we are going to have a new President of the United States who gets it. He understands what we're doing here and we fully expect that as soon as he gets inaugurated his team is going to move to get the final approvals done and we'll begin to put [Dakota Access] across Lake Oahe.'

Even many people who voted for Trump are being surprised by cabinet choices that promise the very reverse of "draining the swamp" and cleaning up corruption and crony capitalism. His choice of Goldman Sachs honchos for his cabinet has dismayed some of them, but of course there are others who are gleeful. And nothing makes them more gleeful than something that they know will aggravate liberals, like this here: "Potential Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson Has an SEC Problem: ExxonMobil has been under SEC investigation since "
* Naturally, we seem to be looking at more far-right wet dreams for education: Betsy DeVos and the Plan to Break Public Schools: Among the points that can be made in favor of Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's billionaire nominee for the position of Secretary of Education, are the following: She has no known ties to President Vladimir Putin, unlike Trump's nominee to head the State Department, Rex Tillerson, who was decorated with Russia's Order of Friendship medal a few years ago. She hasn't demonstrated any outward propensity for propagating dark, radical-right-leaning conspiracy theories, unlike Michael T. Flynn, Trump's designated national-security adviser. She has not actively called for the dismantling of the department she is slated to head, as have Rick Perry, Trump's nominee for Energy Secretary, and Scott Pruitt, the nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency. That the absence of such characteristics should bear noting only underlines the dystopian scope of Trump's quest to complete his cabinet of cronies. On the other hand, DeVos has never taught in a public school, nor administered one, nor sent her children to one. She is a graduate of Holland Christian High School, a private school in her home town of Holland, Michigan, which characterizes its mission thus: 'to equip minds and nurture hearts to transform the world for Jesus Christ.' How might DeVos seek to transform the educational landscape of the United States in her position at the head of a department that has a role in overseeing the schooling of more than fifty million American children? As it happens, she does have a long track record in the field. Since the early nineteen-nineties, she and her husband, Dick DeVos, have been very active in supporting the charter-school movement"

It isn't just Americans who are having a rude awakening, of course. Wherever the neoliberals have prevented the left from rooting them out, the worst elements of the right gain power, and then surprise their own supporters with betrayal. Take Britain, for example. Oh, no one should be surprised that Theresa May is a disaster, but her promises weren't worth anything, either - a habit conservatives and neoliberals alike just can't break. "She steeled herself to call off the expensive disaster of Hinkley C - then meekly waved it through. She vowed to install workers on company boards - then the idea didn't even make it on to a green paper. She promised to stick up for 'just about managing' families, then allowed her chancellor instead to carry on slashing taxes for multinationals. And then there's foreign ownership of Britain's infrastructure. Remember how May promised to scrutinise any proposed takeovers of such strategic assets as water, energy and transport? Well, last week, while the rightwing commentators were diligently huffing and puffing over Gina Miller at the supreme court, another kind of sovereignty was being covered on the City pages. The National Grid announced it would sell a majority of its gas pipelines to a consortium of largely overseas investors, including China and Qatar, and led by an Australian investment bank, Macquarie." Well, Macquarie is a shady little empire that already owns a considerable part of Britain, so why not?

Brave New Films wants you to know that "Almost Half a Million People Are in Jail Awaiting Trial," and the private bail business can keep people in jail who've never committed a crime. They want to do something about it.

"Detroit's voting irregularities spur state audit: Lansing - Voting irregularities in Detroit have spurred plans for an audit by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's office, Elections Director Chris Thomas said Monday. State officials are planning to examine about 20 Detroit precincts where ballot boxes opened during the recount had fewer ballots than poll workers had recorded on Election Day."

Policy changes that began to affect workers in the early '70s have meant consistent wage stagnation, but it happened at the same time that Affirmative Action started to be enforced, and that's what a lot of people blamed, because, as MahaBarb put it in "Why People Turn to Dictators," scapegoating is "easier than explaining the real reasons."
* Barb also linked to an Ian Welsh piece I missed, "Living in the Truth or Dying in Lies," in which he says, "It is nice that you don't think that racism and racists get stronger when times are bad, and that people who don't see a pay raise in 40 years are likely to turn to nasty politics, and it is even important that you think so, since your sheer stupidity and blindness makes it harder to stop, but you are wrong. You are, in fact, part of the problem, because problems happen and we need to be able to fix them, and you and your type are making it harder to do anything by muddying the water. The inability to separate partisanship from a clear understanding of the world is at the heart of why we are where we are today. Clear consequences of action and non-action are dismissed wholesale until it is too late to do anything about it."

"Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit [...] The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people. While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much - when they caused a ruckus - and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy. That message was heard loud and clear. The institutions and elite factions that have spent years mocking, maligning, and pillaging large portions of the population - all while compiling their own long record of failure and corruption and destruction - are now shocked that their dictates and decrees go unheeded. But human beings are not going to follow and obey the exact people they most blame for their suffering. They're going to do exactly the opposite: purposely defy them and try to impose punishment in retaliation. Their instruments for retaliation are Brexit and Trump. Those are their agents, dispatched on a mission of destruction: aimed at a system and culture they regard - not without reason - as rife with corruption and, above all else, contempt for them and their welfare."

I know I've said this before, but I've been hearing that whole thing about how demographics will give Democrats a lock on electoral and ideological victory since I was 15, and as old people have died off and babies have reached voting age, things have only moved to the right, state-by-state, and now each branch of the federal government is in the hands of people who really do sound crazier than legislators of the Jim Crow era. And the Democratic response to the issues that affect a considerable proportion of the population is not to address those issues, but to simply cast them as intractable and inevitable facts of nature. Which means only the right-wing gets to provide answers, and therefore solutions. That the answers and solutions are all based on racism, nativism, and sexism may trouble the modern liberal Democrat, but not enough to require them to tell the truth: that these problems are not intractable or inevitable but can be ameliorated by policies geared to relieve the pressures on Americans that make them so desperate to grasp for any solution, even a monstrous one. When only the right-wing acknowledges the suffering of millions and avers that there is a way to fix it, the right-wing is going to be able to take ground that was once held by those with more democratic and progressive impulses. "Demographics Are Not Destiny: Why Democrats were wrong to think that shifting demographics alone would hand them victory."
* As a footnote, some of us were horrified at the way the Clinton campaign took for granted that she owned the black vote. I don't mean simply that they assumed black voters would support the Democrat, but that the black community was a monolith that all thought the same way, and, more, owed their allegiance to Clinton. This despite the fact that there were a number of indicators showing that, as with white Democrats, there were divisions within families, particularly between generations, on whether to support Clinton or Sanders in the primaries. Carl Beijer looked at the numbers back in February.

Someone was remarking that Trump's cabinet choices were so deeply contraindicated that it would not be surprising if Bernie Madoff got an appointment. I said that'd be great, because his time in prison seemed to have given him a new appreciation for just how rancid the financial industry really is. Someone else mentioned that Bernie Kerik also seemed to have gained new insights into our judicial system after spending time inside.

"Intake: Lock them in. Bill their insurer. Kick them out. How scores of employees and patients say America's largest psychiatric chain turns patients into profits. [...] Current and former employees from at least 10 UHS hospitals in nine states said they were under pressure to fill beds by almost any method - which sometimes meant exaggerating people's symptoms or twisting their words to make them seem suicidal - and to hold them until their insurance payments ran out."

"Lawmakers Who Owned Bank Stock Were More Likely To Vote For Wall Street Bailout: Study: Do the personal assets of congressional lawmakers affect the way they vote on federal legislation? New data says yes -- at least when it comes to their votes to bail out Wall Street with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars."

The Los Angeles Times says, "Fighting for the progressive cause got a little easier thanks to this Bernie Sanders-affiliated group: Observers say Sanders made a real impact in the races he boosted directly or indirectly - an organization launched with his blessing raised six-figure sums for some candidates - an effect that could multiply if the movement the senator began continues to grow."

I regard tweetstorms as an unwieldy substitute for a good blog post, but Chris Arnade does some great ones. This one starts with, "1. I am now hearing this meme that this country being fucked up ain't the bankers fault," and tears it apart. Along the way, he mentions some old articles he wrote a few years ago - "Here's why Wall Street has a hard time being ethical" in the Guardian, and "Bringing Broken-Windows Policing to Wall Street: The banking industry needs more than regulation. It needs a new culture" in The Atlantic. And when someone asked why he left the financial industry, he linked to one about himself in Business Insider, "A Trader Turned Photographer Admits the Ugly Truth About Numbers No Wall Streeter Wants To Hear"

Ian Welsh believes that "Reagan and George W Bush Changed the World More than Bill Clinton Or Obama [...] George W. Bush had his two terms, and he changed the nature of American government in ways that neither Clinton nor Obama did. Bill Clinton ran Reagan's economy better. Reagan was not smart. Reagan changed the nature of American government more than any President since FDR. Bill Clinton was Reagan's butt-boy. Understand that. Internalize it. He ran the neo-liberal economy that Reagan had created, and yes, he ran it better than Reagan, but he was living in Reagan's world. Obama ran Bush's government. He kept deporting people, deported even more than Bush. He ramped up drones. He kept troops in Afghanistan, he attacked Libya, he kept extending the Patriot Act and AUMF. He was operating in a constitutional order set up by Bush, and he never challenged it, not once. Obama was Bush's butt-boy. Understand that, internalize it." All of this is true, but I believe that there was one significant change of "things", and that's that we now had Democrats essentially championing right-wing policy rather than working to undo it and defend liberalism, and I think that's what made it possible for us to be where we are today. And if Democrats don't take this all to heart, they have no hope of fighting Trump.

"Will The Real Tulsi Gabbard Please Stand Up... Please Stand Up - Her support for Sanders is fairly confusing when you look at the rest of her record.

A friend and I were walking down St. Mark's Place one night when we were stopped by gentlemen standing outside of the big building that had recently been painted blue and opened as a club - what was it called? The Electric Factory? Memory is dim, but anyway, they invited us to come in for free and hear some live music, so we did. The place wasn't terribly crowded and the stage itself was the perfect height to lean on, so I did, trying to read the twisty writing of the band's name on the drum-head. Eventually, between tunes, I caught the bass-player's eye and motioned him over and said I couldn't read it, what was the band's name? And he told me it was "Sly and the Family Stone." They sounded good. Anyway, Sly Stone, The Velvet Underground, Nina Simone and others are getting Lifetime Achievement Grammy's.

RIP:
* "Larry Colburn, Who Helped Stop My Lai Massacre, Dies at 67"
* "Zsa Zsa Gabor dead at 99 after suffering heart attack."
* "George Michael: Pop superstar dies at 53"

Cool APOD from Hubble, The Extraordinary Spiral in LL Pegasi

The Unipiper keeps Portland weird.

"Woman Kyrgyz singer records amazing version of a traditionally male-voiced poem"

Apparently, Marlene Dietrich was a Peter, Paul & Mary fan.

This is a beautiful thing that belongs in my Christmas stocking. I also have a birthday coming up, soon. Of course, I still want this under the tree.

01:59 GMT comment


Friday, 09 December 2016

Meat nor drink nor money have I none

"Barrett Brown has been released from prison; WikiLeaks publishes to celebrate: Today, investigative journalist Barrett Brown has been released from FCI Three Rivers to a halfway house outside Dallas, earlier than initially scheduled. His parents picked him up from the federal prison to drive him six hours to his new residence. Brown's release comes with several post-imprisonment restrictions, including a 'computer and internet monitoring program', a ban on firearms, and forced drug tests and participation in a drug treatment programme. It is as yet unknown how long Barrett will spend at the halfway house."

"Top Trump campaign aide in Michigan guilty on 10 felony counts: Brandon Hall, the controversial west Michigan blogger who served as a key figure in the Donald Trump campaign's organizing efforts across the state, was found guilty today on 10 felony counts of election fraud."

Bernie Sanders says Trump got rolled by Carrier: "In exchange for allowing United Technologies to continue to offshore more than 1,000 jobs, Trump will reportedly give the company tax and regulatory favors that the corporation has sought. Just a short few months ago, Trump was pledging to force United Technologies to 'pay a damn tax.' He was insisting on very steep tariffs for companies like Carrier that left the United States and wanted to sell their foreign-made products back in the United States. Instead of a damn tax, the company will be rewarded with a damn tax cut. Wow! How's that for standing up to corporate greed? How's that for punishing corporations that shut down in the United States and move abroad? [...] Trump has endangered the jobs of workers who were previously safe in the United States. Why? Because he has signaled to every corporation in America that they can threaten to offshore jobs in exchange for business-friendly tax benefits and incentives. Even corporations that weren't thinking of offshoring jobs will most probably be reevaluating their stance this morning. And who would pay for the high cost for tax cuts that go to the richest businessmen in America? The working class of America."

"There have been just 4 documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election" - Republicans, of course.

"Senate Democrats Have One Shot At Saving SCOTUS - Will They? It is now time for Senate Democrats to take their shot at saving this country from fascists assuming the reins of power in January. It can be done, but it will require them to be courageous and aggressive."

Of course, the death of Fidel Castro has caused the same people who said we should say something nice about Sfalia when he died to tell us that Fidel Castro was without redeeming value. Some would argue there was more to be said for Castro than for Scalia, but never mind that - whatever else you may know about Cuba, you should certainly remember that there is a prison on that island where people have been held and tortured for 14 years without charges. And Cuba does not run that prison. But even leaving all that aside, "American criticism of Cuba on human rights is total hypocrisy, given our history of terrorizing the island."

"Pipeline politics explained: That contentious oil pipeline being built across the Standing Rock reservation's water supply has a revealing history. It wasn't originally supposed to go there!"

"Trump and the GOP Have Massively Unpopular Tax Policies: Even wealthy Republican voters support higher taxes for themselves."

David Dayen in The Nation, "Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin - Profiteers of the Great Foreclosure Machine - Go to Washington: ? Mnuchin and Ross led companies that committed fraud to foreclose on millions of homeowners. Now they will be in charge of the entire US economy. What could go wrong?" If only Obama had put them in jail where they belonged.

Also from Dday, "Donald Trump Is Coming for Your Medicare: The selection of Tom Price to head HHS brings the president-elect into alignment with Speaker Paul Ryan."

"The Dangers of Anti-Trumpism: Silvio Berlusconi's tenure as Italian prime minister shows how not to resist an authoritarian demagogue."
* "Normalizing Trump [...] Berlusconi was toppled the first time by popular action, something that unsettles mainstream liberals, who are terrified of the mob. Of course, a government can fall in a parliamentary system and not ours. But popular action is all we've got. It won't be long before Chuck Schumer and Steve Mnuchin sit down and make some deals. Faced with profound defeat at every level of government, all the Dems seem able to do is re-elect Nancy Pelosi and dream of Cory Booker as their 2020 savior. Booker, who made his political debut at a lunch thrown by the right-wing Manhattan Institute, served on the same school reform board as Education Secretary-designate Betsy Devos, who wouldn't mind destroying the public school system. These are dire times, and it's hard to imagine resistance that doesn't feature millions in the streets."

"Trump May Not Be Anti-Gay, But Much of His Senior Staff Is: President-elect Donald Trump has called himself a 'supporter' of LGBT rights, but his senior staff picks include some of the most virulently anti-gay politicians in the country, leaving LGBT groups uncertain and worried about what path he will eventually take."

Could Trump follow Jimmy Carter's example? So far he is only threatening to prevent Muslims from entering the country, but Carter actually did worse to Iranians. The trouble is that Carter went after a nationality, whereas Trump is going after a religion. Still, was it right the first time?

"How Stable Are Democracies? 'Warning Signs Are Flashing Red' [...] He fears that the minutiae of politics can easily distract from these more fundamental dangers. 'It's not just about what Trump will do to the E.P.A.,' he said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. 'It really is that Trump may try to undermine liberal democracy in the United States.' 'Look, this stuff is already going on in other places,' Mr. Mounk added. 'If there's one task that we have as journalists, as academics, as thinkers, it's to drive the stakes of this home for people.'"

Nate Silver, "Why I Support An Election Audit, Even Though It's Unlikely To Change The Outcome: In many ways, undertaking an audit of the election results is tantamount to performing a test for a rare but potentially fatal disease. You want to weigh the probability of successfully detecting an anomaly against the invasiveness of the procedure and the chance of a false positive result. Oftentimes, the risk outweighs the reward. For instance, many experts warn against mammograms for women in their 40s because the underlying risk of breast cancer is low for women of that age and the rate of false positive tests is high, causing undue stress for the patients and subjecting them to further tests and operations that might be harmful."

I'm tempted to quote way too much of this scathing indictment of Krugman, so follow the link and enjoy: "Who Lost The White House? [...] But unlike Clinton campaign goons, paid party operatives, and your liberal Facebook friends who play them for free on the internet, Krugman is not a party crackpot - a liberal, yes, obviously, and a Democrat, but also, supposedly, a scholar and intellectual being paid to tell us the truth as he understands it, not to spin some bogus line about how the Russians magically - with Facebook memes! - caused Clinton to flush a billion dollars to raise another billion dollars, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and then not even to have the guts to come out and address her supporters on the night she lost, choosing instead to do what the campaign did all along: send an overpaid functionary to play surrogate on her behalf." Oh, hell, I can't resist one more: "The argument is that something like Obamacare is complex and corporate because that was the only way to smuggle in the benefits without tripping over the obstructionist GOP. This argument would hold more merit if the Democratic Party ever bothered to engage in full-throated advocacy for a real, non-means-tested, universal program which then got whittled down in negotiation. Instead, the party endlessly triangulates against itself, and the few things that squeak through often are worse than the alternative nothing. The real Clinton campaign slogan wasn't 'I'm With Her'; it was 'How About $12.50?' - Hillary Clinton's answer when asked about a $15 per hour minimum wage."
* And at Ring of Fire, "Paul Krugman Pompously Suggests Democrats Turn Their Backs On Working Class."

Matt Taibbi, "The Washington Post 'Blacklist' Story Is Shameful and Disgusting: Last week, a technology reporter for the Washington Post named Craig Timberg ran an incredible story. It has no analog that I can think of in modern times. Headlined "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say," the piece promotes the work of a shadowy group that smears some 200 alternative news outlets as either knowing or unwitting agents of a foreign power, including popular sites like Truthdig and Naked Capitalism. [... Helping Beltway politicos mass-label a huge portion of dissenting media as "useful idiots" for foreign enemies in this sense is an extraordinarily self-destructive act. Maybe the Post doesn't care and thinks it's doing the right thing. In that case, at least do the damn work."

"In the early going, nothing is closer to pure gold than favorable free media exposure." Of course, the Clinton campaign knew this, and knew that while Clinton's own name-recognition and access to big money were already high, debates were free airtime that they didn't want to give Bernie Sanders, and that's the real reason they scheduled only six of them and started them as late as they possibly could.

My feeds are full of my friends screaming about how anyone who voted for Trump should not be understood as anything but horrible people. I understand the temptation, but I don't think it's a terribly productive approach and it sounds to me like they are planning to keep repeating the same mistakes. Meanwhile, here is someone who tried to explain - but anonymously. "Liberals Should Stop Ranting And Seek Out Silent Trump Voters Like Me: I am an urban, millennial woman, and I voted for Trump. Now, I'm afraid to explain my reasoning to an angry, vitriolic left that will not listen to me. [...] I understand many of you opposed Trump and feel afraid and frustrated, or just saddened and confused. I know it is easy to lash out right now. But I don't want to be subjected to vitriolic tirades by people who claim to practice tolerance, then project fury whenever their worldview is challenged."

Leslie Lopez, "'I believe Trump like I believed Obama!': Christian Parenti's Listening to Trump resonated with me on a personal level. Both of my 'Latino' working-class parents voted for Trump, and I don't think we were the only family politically divided this Thanksgiving. Election night, I was exactly like those stunned white people suffering from cognitive dissonance on Saturday Night Live, except I'm not white. I'd enthusiastically supported Sanders, and then reluctantly voted for Hillary - but her campaign did not represent a 'glass ceiling' moment for me. In the mid-90's, while teaching at a Native American Preparatory School in New Mexico, I'd shown my students videos of working conditions in maquiladoras, read Subcommandante Marcos and Rigoberta Menchu, and taught about NAFTA from an indigenous and economic perspective. I later learned that liberalism excluding class and labor had a word - neoliberalism. "

"How to Get Ahead as a Woman in Tech: Interrupt Men." I'm still not sure what the cause-and-effect is, there, but it's always been fairly clear to me that people who are more confident of what they are talking about are also more likely to interrupt and contribute to conversations. Status alone can give someone some of that confidence and also make others less likely to react disapprovingly when they interrupt.

Tom Sullivan on Disaster Progressivism: "The hair-on-fire panic many progressive activists exist in vis-a-vis national politics and the future of the country (and now the planet) reflects the same short-term thinking that leads establishment Democrats to defend their reelection first and the voters second. ("This is the most important election of our lifetimes," etc.) No long-term thinking. Longer-term, the Democratic party is a pushover if progressives will just do the work and stick around long enough to see results from the pushing. Yet a lot of talented activists are unwilling to get their nice, white vinyl souls soiled by contact with the icky party to do that. They consign themselves to irrelevancy. [...] Democrats and progressives seem forever to do more Monday-morning quarterbacking about missed opportunities than thinking three to five moves ahead, never pre-positioning themselves to capitalize on opportunities when they arise. That's what Naomi Klein described in "The Shock Doctrine." Like my roommate, those disaster capitalists pay attention to faint signals and pre-position themselves so they are poised to move quickly and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. So are progressives going to do that now or just protest after the fact? Because there's a disaster coming, and we'd best be positioned to capitalize on opportunities that will appear suddenly out of nowhere. Better that than complain how the old boys clubs failed to do it for us."

Ezekiel Kweku on "The Skin Game: How to beat white nationalism at the polls [...] The lesson we should draw from Clinton's loss is not that white supremacy is unbeatable at the polls, but that it's not going to beat itself. White people are not going to instinctively recoil from racist appeals, and neither are people of color going to flock to the polls to defeat them. If the Democratic Party would like to keep more Donald Trumps from winning in the future, they are going to have to take the extraordinary step of doing politics."

Wolfgang Münchau in the Financial Times, "Some revolutions could have been avoided if the old guard had only refrained from provocation. There is no proof of a 'let them eat cake' incident. But this is the kind of thing Marie Antoinette could have said. It rings true. The Bourbons were hard to beat as the quintessential out-of-touch establishment. They have competition now. Our global liberal democratic establishment is behaving in much the same way. At a time when Britain has voted to leave the EU, when Donald Trump has been elected US president, and Marine Le Pen is marching towards the Elysée Palace, we - the gatekeepers of the global liberal order - keep on doubling down."

"The Blind Spots of Liberalism: What an impoverished small town tells us about the dangers of not taking class seriously. [...] This November, the town (and 362 other Placer County, California precincts not unlike it) voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, 51.1 percent to 39.5 percent. But it's hard to blame sexism or racism for Clinton's loss. On Election Day, the people of Placer County also voted for Kamala Harris, a black woman, to be their US senator. Her vote share? 63 percent. And her vote tally? 16,178 more than Clinton's."

Mike Konczal, "Learning From Trump in Retrospect: Trump is unapologetically against trade that harms American workers. I would have assumed he was fighting a straw man here, but one thing I've learned is how a certain class of liberals don't approach job loss from trade with a regrettable sense of the trade-offs, but instead a more cutting sense that Americans don't have any claim on the jobs that go away anyway. It's all for the best, in the long-run. The brilliant economist David Card gave me a useful point here during an interview: the divide among economists on trade is driven by the fact that labor economists study the real effects of unemployment on real people, where trade and macroeconomists treat people as just another commodity."

Rick Perlstein, "Meet the Press: The hustlers, hucksters, hacks, and cowards who helped elect Donald Trump" I was curious, so I did a bit of research on theories about why great civilizations fall. Some scholars point to the danger of overextended militaries, others on overwhelmed bureaucracies. Sometimes the key factor is declines in public health, often caused by agricultural crises. Political corruption is another contender, as are inflated currencies, technological inferiority, court intrigue, rivals taking control of key transportation routes, or an overreliance on slave labor. Others point to changes in climate, geographic advantages won and lost, or the ever-popular invasion by barbarian hordes. None I could find, however, mentioned what may become future historians' most convincing explanation for America's fall, should Donald Trump end up her author and finisher: bad journalism.

Howie Klein, "The Democratic Party's Scourge: Identity Politics: I'm gay. I'm proud that the highest lifetime crucial vote score of any member of Congress is Mark Pocan, a gay men. His score is 98.95. Does he rock! Unfortunately, the single worst voter of all members being returned in 2107 is also gay-- Arizona Blue Dog Kyrsten Sinema, whose lifetime score is a an abysmal 36,63. And Sinema isn't the only LGBTQ person at the bottom on the garbage pile. Sean Patrick Maloney, currently making a bid for chairman of the DCCC, is not just a married gay man but also a New Dem Wall Street whore and the proud owner of 5th worst voting record score (45.19) among Democrats."

"A Note on the Taboo Subject of Stolen Elections" - A reminder that we hardly know how a fair election would play out anymore in America, but no one in big media wants to talk about it, so small media will have to do the job.

I'm sad to say that the Whitechapel Bell Foundry has announced that it "will cease its activities at the Whitechapel Road site that it has occupied since its move there in 1738." You may recall that I visited the place for a celebration a few years ago and felt it was like I'd walked into Old Fezziwig's Christmas party. I loved having a connection to that place, and those people, and I think very highly of Alan Hughes. This kinda makes me want to cry.
* BBC: "Whitechapel Bell Foundry up for sale."
* Guardian, "Whitechapel Bell Foundry to ring in new era as owner sells site."
* "Whitechapel Bell Foundry: end of an era in pictures"

The Recording Academy has announced that 25 tracks will be added to the Hall of Fame. And some of those artists are even still alive.

I have to agree, Disraeli Gears was the best Cream album.

Interview with Bruce Springsteen on Fresh Air. I'm told his book is really good and he's a great writer with a fascinatingly grim childhood.

I recently discovered Lilo & Stitch, and I love it.

Doctor Who Adventure Calendar, 2016
* Sadly, the cheese advent calendar won't be available until next year.

I don't really remember when Frank Zappa was on the Monkees.

Peter, Paul & Mary, "A-Soalin'"

04:09 GMT comment


Monday, 28 November 2016

Heard it through the grapevine

OK, it's that time of year again, so let's start with a little Advent music. We'll get to the other Christmassy stuff I like to deploy in my war against Bill O'Reilly's War on Christmas soon. Remember, it's the darkest and coldest time of the year up here in the northern hemisphere, and we need to light and warm the way. So, just a simple little version of "The Carol of the Bells" to get the feeling.

Everyone is chiming in with what went wrong. what needs to go right, who to blame and who is faultless, people scared to death, or else steeling themselves to face what's coming. As always, there are a lot of people I'd like to smack, but let's start two years ago in the NYT:

Democrats did lose the South, but they didn't lose it because of the Civil Rights Act. Instead of waiting for all those mean old Southern white men to die, Democrats might be better off asking themselves why so many of them were still voting Democratic just 22 years ago.

Nor have Democratic losses in the South been much worse than they were all over the country. To give just one egregious example, Democrats lost the Massachusetts statehouse this year - for the fifth time in their last seven tries.

This is a historic shift. From 1931 to 1995, Democrats held majorities in the House of Representatives for all but four years and in the Senate for all but 12. On the state level, they held their own with (or outnumbered) Republicans in governorships and state legislatures for the vast majority of those 64 years.

It's been a completely different story since 1994, however, and by next January, Democrats will not only be in the minority in both houses of Congress. They will likely hold 18 statehouses and both chambers in only 11 state legislatures.

Suffering a series of historic defeats is not a sign that you're winning. The Democrats no longer please anyone much, neither their depressed base nor the less committed. Meanwhile, Republicans still manage to portray them as wild-eyed socialists. The party does take the White House more often now, but at the state level, and in the midterms, when a third of the senators and all representatives are up for election, the party has been hollowed out.

THE trouble was that the Clinton-Obama strategy got things upside down from the start. Why try to cast yourselves as economic moderates and cultural progressives when the disparate elements of your coalition have little in common culturally, but are all struggling with the same wretched economy?

* * * * *

Max Sawicky (MaxSpeak) on FB this week:

OK, folks. This is the game.

Bernie Sanders is taking the line of resisting the intolerant, warmongering Trump & Co. while simultaneously challenging him to put real money into infrastructure and to write better trade deals, Trump's signature overtures to the working class. Most if not all Senate Democrats are taking the same line.

An alternative strategy would be to emulate what Mitch McConnell did with Obama, to just oppose everything, regardless of whether or not it is congenial to his ideological interests. This worked well for the Republicans, but that doesn't mean it would work for the Dems, since their constituencies and policy priorities are different. It makes for a debate in which reasonable people can disagree. But that's not what's happening.

Justifiable hysteria over Trump's appointments, such as the unspeakable Senator Sessions for Attorney-General, is making rational discussion more difficult. Some are accusing Sanders of collaborationism, 'reaching out' to racist Trump voters, folding in the face of fascism. In other words, they are resuming the Clinton primary campaign of libelous gossip and the failed general election campaign against deplorables.

In this setting, every single Trump voter is irredeemably racist from top to bottom, with no mitigating concerns. As a matter of fact, I don't doubt that many of them are, but to win a national election, Democrats don't need all of these people; they only need a handful. After all, the total margin of defeat in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin - the electoral vote difference that put Trump over the top - was less than 110,000. Tiny.

I don't normally defer to authority, but in this case it ought to be noted that Sanders' line is the same as other Senate Democrats, who know more about electoral politics than I do. So some consideration is merited, and the onus of the position should not be put on Sanders alone.

The Clinton line about her defeat is that nothing was their fault. It was all the FBI, Wikileaks, and the media. To be sure, all of those factors exerted a malign influence and any one of them could have flipped the result. So might any number of decisions by the Clinton Campaign. The upshot of the Clinton line is that no course corrections for the Democratic Party are warranted, except in the realm of technical operations. The strategy going forward is to hope for better luck and demographic rescue in the years (decades!) ahead.

The Clintons and their elite cronies are not going away. They want to retain power. Their attacks on Sanders should be rejected by the left; these attacks are an effort to demobilize his movement, which as things stand is The Movement. There is no Clinton movement; there are Clinton elites and apologists. There is no Clinton-led grassroots mobilization against the impending racist, sexist, xenophobic wave led by Trump. The Clinton plan is to hunker down and broker the next neo-liberal champion. Corey Booker, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

There may be good arguments for a stance of wall-to-wall opposition to all things Trump. Let them be made. At the same time, the only impact from stigmatizing Sanders and his followers is to perpetuate the current Democratic sclerosis that has led us into this abyss.

* * * * *

Dennis Kucinich posted on Facebook a letter he sent to the Attorney General:

As a former member of Congress and former chair of the Committee on Domestic Policy, I hereby request you open an immediate investigation of police authorities in Standing Rock, North Dakota for conspiring against the civil and constitutional rights of protestors, in violation of 42 U.S.C., Section 1983, which reads, in part, 'Every person who, under color of any statute - causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law. . . ."

It has been reported that police, as part of a strategy of crowd control, deliberately used water cannons, in subfreezing temperatures, against protestors, subjecting protestors to risk of serious injury and depriving them of their First Amendment right of free speech, the right to protest.

I am requesting that you use the power of your office to investigate this incident, to determine the participants and to take such action to enjoin the offending parties from further violation of the US Constitution and applicable federal law.

Al Franken has also sent a letter to the AG. Obama, who promised to have their back, has been amazingly quiet about all this. Clinton, when pushed, was non-committal during the campaign and has nothing to say on the subject now. Schumer? Don't kid yourself. "Phillips 66, who have financed 25% of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, is primarily owned by billionaire Warren Buffett's holding company. Buffett actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton this past presidential election, and has made large donations to Clinton, Obama, and other Democrats over the past several years."

"Father of Activist Injured at Standing Rock Calls on Obama to Stop Dakota Access Pipeline Drilling [...] President Obama, has to step in there and stop this. They're drilling now even though they don't have a permit. The Army Corps of Engineers has asked them to stop. The Army Corps of Engineers has said that they were not going to issue a permit until after they did further environmental studies and spoke with the tribe, and yet they go ahead and set all the drills in place, and they continue. They're probably drilling under the river right now, as we speak. And it's a very, very dangerous situation there. And that's just thing number one. Number two is they have to demilitarize the police there. There's no reason that the police should be intentionally trying to kill people, maim people. And this has to stop."

But the citizenry's pressure on local authorities to withdraw from the attack on the protesters, especially in the face of increasing costs to public funds, does seem to be having an effect. "It was not an easy choice to make, Gootkin said. 'I wanted to go and help my fellow law enforcement.' Then, he raised a question that has begun to rattle many communities across America lately. 'I just don't understand where we separated from the public. It really breaks my heart. We are not the enemy.'"

* * * * *

"Slovenia Declares Water A Human Right By Amending Constitution [...] Meanwhile, private corporations like Nestle are expanding their extraction of fresh water, bottling it and selling it for profit. In one particularly horrific example, Nestle is set to triple its water extraction from an aquifer in Michigan only 120 miles from the embattled town of Flint, where residents have not had access to clean drinking water for over a year."

Thanks to commenter CMike for alerting us to this from Jimmy Dore: "Economist Who Predicted Brexit & Trump Brilliantly Explains Capitalism's Collapse"

You would think Democrats would be asking why no recounts with such close losses and contradictory exit polls, but no. In fact, when Jill Stein raises over $4.5m to request US election recounts in battleground states, the Clintonites are all over the net sneering and accusing her of nefarious purposes and "a scam" and advising people not to give money to the cause. Apparently, they got the memo to blame Trump's election on Stein and her supporters and they just can't stop themselves.

We might learn something about this election if we look at the foreclosure map. "The first map is from RealtyTrac, and indicates the states with the largest foreclosure inventory in 2012. The second is a map of the key battleground states. In 2008 and 2012, Obama won these states. In 2016 Clinton lost them. There's a lot of similarities between those two maps. Even in the best economic environment, residential mortgage foreclosure is a long, messy process. The massive wave of foreclosures that hit these regions after the financial crisis had enormous consequences economically. They also had a tremendous, painful impact on the families and neighborhoods of the people affected, directly and indirectly by the foreclosures. [...] I was involved, to a small degree, with homeowners, activists and lawmakers that tried to deal with the issues and problems in the foreclosure crisis, some of which is documented in David Dayen's excellent new book, Chain of Title. As Dayen documents, the government response to the issues was ultimately terribly unsatisfying and at best, had the effect of sweeping the issue under the carpet. The consequences of the government's response played out in this presidential election. [...] How much of an impact would a compassionate outreach have had on these neighborhoods? It's also worth remembering that the people hit by the foreclosure crisis were generally middle class - prior to the crisis they owned homes, held jobs, were members of the community. Where were they by the time the 2016 election came around?"

Bernie Sanders made a speech on Our Revolution - A Future to Believe In, after which he made a statement during the Q&A that makes perfect sense, although Vox seemed to view it with some consternation and TPM completely mischaracterized it, but it was, of all places, in The New Republic that the air was cleared: "No, Bernie Sanders didn't ask his supporters to 'ditch' identity politics," and Salon added that he had done rather the opposite. Sanders himself came back with an essay reiterating his point: "Our rights and economic lives are intertwined. Now, more than ever, we need a Democratic Party that is committed to fulfilling, not eviscerating, Dr. Martin Luther King's dream of racial, social, and economic justice for all."

"Why Some Protests Succeed While Others Fail [...] Since those D.C. protests are coming up, and are likely to be massive, they are a natural focal point for the complicated questions surrounding protest and organization. So I asked several scholars of activism, protest, and movement-building what advice they would give to the organizers, and how their own work fits into their predictions about what could go well or poorly in January. One of the most consistent answers I got was that protesters should realize that protests aren't enough. There's a real risk of catharsis being the start and end of the resistance to Trump: Protesting feels good and righteous, but if nothing comes after then it may not accomplish that much. It's key, therefore, to understand the limits of protests and to put them in a broader activism context. 'There are some people that think that protests solve everything; you just have a protest, it's going to make everything change,' said Fabio Rojas, a professor at Indiana University and the author of From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline. 'That's not true - it is a tool that does a very specific thing, and you have to understand that when you start out.'"

David Dayen, "Democrats: Revoking Trump's Fast-Track Trade Authority Is Good Policy and Good Politics: Trump doesn't need fast track to accomplish bilateral deals, but he could use it to dole out corporate favors."

Bernie Sanders is all up in Trump's face: "Sanders Statement on Carrier and Outsourcing: During the campaign, Donald Trump made a 100 percent commitment to prevent United Technologies from shipping 2,100 jobs from Indiana to Mexico. All of us need to hold Mr. Trump accountable to make sure that he keeps this promise. Let's be clear: it is not good enough to save some of these jobs. We cannot rest until United Technologies signs a firm contract to keep all of these good-paying jobs in Indiana without slashing the salaries or benefits workers have earned."

"Wall Street and Private Prisons 'Licking Their Lips' Over Trump Presidency: Under Obama, DOJ was set to phase out private detention centers. After Trump's victory, prison corporation stocks skyrocketed."

Robert Reich, "The Democratic party lost its soul. It's time to win it back [...] You might think this overwhelming drubbing would cause the Democratic party to reorganize itself into a very different party from the one it's become - which is essentially a giant fundraising machine, too often reflecting the goals and values of the moneyed interests that make up the bulk of its funding. Don't bet on it."

"We Can Blame the Voters or Blame the Elite. Only One Choice Offers a Way Forward [...] Which of these characterizations you choose, the first or second above, will determine whether you see the world in "the left vs. the right" terms or "the rich vs. the rest" terms, and also whether you wish to continue the failed American struggle against the elites, or improve your chance of winning it."

"There's a simple reason for Clinton's shocking loss to Trump [...] But the very inconvenient truth that must be absorbed, by the technocratic Democrats of the Obama years and by the apparent plurality of voters who supported Secretary Clinton, is that the Obama administration did not deliver on its promises of hope and change, and broke the trust of many of those (enough, at least, to elect Donald Trump) who were counting on a sharp departure from business as usual following the Great Recession."

It was a mistake to keep saying the economy was so much better when Millions of Americans Are Still Out of Work: "In 2007, before the Great Recession, the unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. The employment rate - the percentage of all Americans age 16 and older who had a job - was 63.0 percent. By 2010, the unemployment rate had risen to 9.6 percent, and the employment rate had dropped to 58.5 percent. Since then, a weird thing has happened. Although unemployment has fallen back to 4.9 percent - just 0.3 percentage points above the 2007 average - the employment rate has remained stubbornly low."

"Many in Milwaukee Neighborhood Didn't Vote - and Don't Regret It. [...] As for the claims of racism that have dogged Mr. Trump, Mr. Babar wasn't so worried. 'It's better than smiling to my face but going behind closed doors and voting against our kids,' he said."

"Trump's Infrastructure Bill? It's a Trap [...] Trump's so-called "infrastructure" bill is really just a tax cut bill for investors in infrastructure and would do nothing to guarantee that the most needed (as opposed to the most profitable) projects are undertaken."

"Donald Trump was right: THE ELECTION WAS RIGGED. In his favour." Voter purges, voter suppression, and we don't even know who really won until we count the ballots by hand.

One thing I never want to see again is another candidate in which loyalists will with a straight face explain that their candidate can't do what's needed because this particular candidate is handicapped by some trait that is mainly their own and that another candidate would not have. We had a lot of that with Obama ("If he does that, they'll call him an angry black man" - I disagreed, but if they really believed that, why did they think he was the right man for the job?), and now we see that even Clinton's own team knew that Clinton couldn't campaign against Trump as needed, but Sanders could. Nevertheless, they kept insisting that in "the most important election in history", only she could win.

Bill Black, "Hillary's Threat to Wage Continuous War on the Working Class via Austerity Proved Fatal: I've come back recently from Kilkenny, Ireland where I participated in the seventh annual Kilkenomics - a festival of economics and comedy. The festival is noted for people from a broad range of economic perspectives presenting their economic views in plain, blunt English. Kilkenomics VII began two days after the U.S. election, so we added some sessions on President-elect Trump's fiscal policy views. Trump had no obvious supporters among this diverse group of economists, so the audience was surprised to hear many economists from multiple nations take the view that his stated fiscal policies could be desirable for the U.S. - and the global economy, particularly the EU. We all expressed the caution that no one could know whether Trump would seek to implement the fiscal policies on which he campaigned. Most of us, however, said that if he wished to implement those policies House Speaker Paul Ryan would not be able to block him. I opined that congressional Republicans would rediscover their love of pork and logrolling if Trump implemented his promised fiscal policies. The audience was also surprised to hear two groups of economists explain that Hillary Clinton's fiscal policies remained pure New Democrat (austerity forever) even as the economic illiteracy of those policies became even clearer - and even as the political idiocy of her fiscal policies became glaringly obvious. Austerity is one of the fundamental ways in which the system is rigged against the working class. Austerity was the weapon of mass destruction unleashed in the New Democrats' and Republicans' long war on the working class. The fact that she intensified and highlighted her intent to inflict continuous austerity on the working class as the election neared represented an unforced error of major proportions. As the polling data showed her losing the white working class by staggering amounts, in the last month of the election, the big new idea that Hillary pushed repeatedly was a promise that if she were elected she would inflict continuous austerity on the economy. 'I am not going to add a penny to the national debt.' The biggest losers of such continued austerity would as ever be the working class. She also famously insulted the working class as 'deplorables.' It was a bizarre approach by a politician to the plight of tens of millions of Americans who were victims of the New Democrats' and the Republicans' trade and austerity policies. As we presented these facts to a European audience we realized that in attempting to answer the question of what Trump's promised fiscal policies would mean if implemented we were also explaining one of the most important reasons that Hillary Clinton lost the white working class by such an enormous margin."

Brian Beutler in The New Republic, "How to beat Donald Trump" - There are a number of words in this article that I disagree with, but he still thinks running like Bernie will do a better job of beating Trump.

Beat the Press on "Surviving the Age of Trump [...] Most importantly, the people in Congress want to get re-elected. Pushing unpopular policies like privatizing Social Security or Medicare, or taking away insurance by ending Obamacare, will be horrible albatrosses hanging over their heads the next time they face voters. This reality has to constantly be put in their faces. It is easy for politicians to push nonsense stories about eliminating trillions of dollars of waste, fraud, and abuse. It is much harder to get away with taking away your parents' Social Security check or the health care insurance that pays for your kid's insulin.

So, The WaPo got suckered by a fake news org. "Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group: The Washington Post on Thursday night promoted the claims of a new, shadowy organization that smears dozens of U.S. news sites that are critical of U.S. foreign policy as being 'routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.' The article by reporter Craig Timberg - headlined 'Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say' - cites a report by a new, anonymous website calling itself 'PropOrNot,' which claims that millions of Americans have been deceived this year in a massive Russian 'misinformation campaign.' The group's list of Russian disinformation outlets includes WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report, as well as Clinton-critical left-wing websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute. This Post report was one of the most widely circulated political news articles on social media over the last 48 hours, with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of U.S. journalists and pundits with large platforms hailing it as an earth-shattering exposé. It was the most-read piece on the entire Post website after it was published on Friday. [...] In casting the group behind this website as 'experts,' the Post described PropOrNot simply as 'a nonpartisan collection of researchers with foreign policy, military and technology backgrounds.' Not one individual at the organization is named. The executive director is quoted, but only on the condition of anonymity, which the Post said it was providing the group 'to avoid being targeted by Russia's legions of skilled hackers.'" We can't even know the name of the executive director? Are we sure this isn't a couple of eight-year-olds in a treehouse? "More troubling still, PropOrNot listed numerous organizations on its website as 'allied' with it, yet many of these claimed 'allies' told The Intercept, and complained on social media, they have nothing to do with the group and had never even heard of it before the Post published its story."

"Democrat Harold Ford Jr. emerging as potential Trump pick." Some of us would argue that Harold Ford was never a Democrat, but the Dem leadership did keep trying to foist him off on us. Then when he would lose, they'd pretend it was racism. But no one wanted to vote for Harold Ford, no matter what color they were.

"Jesse Jackson: Obama should pardon Hillary Clinton: Speaking at President Gerald Ford's alma mater, The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for President Obama to issue a blanket pardon to Hillary Clinton before he leaves office, just like Ford did for Richard Nixon."

Cornel West, "Goodbye, American Neoliberalism. A New Neo-Fascist Era Is Here." I think it's being optimistic to think we will see the back of neoliberalism that easily.
* Hazem Salem has a similar pipedream: "Clinton & co are finally gone. That is the silver lining in this disaster : Hillary Clinton has given us back our freedom. Only such a crushing defeat could break the chains that bound us to the New Democrat elites. The defeat was the result of decades of moving the Democratic party - the party of FDR - away from what it once was and should have remained: a party that represents workers. All workers [...] This is not to deny the reality of structural racism or xenophobia or the intolerance shown to Muslims or the antisemitic undertones of Trump's campaign. I am myself a person of color with a Muslim-sounding name, I know the reality and I am as frightened as everyone else. But it is crucial that our cultural elite, most of it aligned with the New Democrats, not be allowed to shirk their responsibility for Trump's success."
* And over at The Baffler, another fantasy that it will all go away: "#RIPMyShillaries [...] Third, the Shillaries. The host of journalists, commentators, pundits, and celebrities who took it upon themselves day in and day out to explain, scrub, polish, promote, praise, defend, and sell Hillary as the best thing that could ever happen to our blessed country, because she had an endemic inability to do what politicians are supposed to do: sell themselves to the public. Presidential candidates, especially those with Clinton's record-breaking funding base, can pay consultants to promote their ideas and promise. We don't need journalists to volunteer to do it for them, and we sure as hell don't need journalists who are taking on double-duty as PR flacks to further their own careers in the liberal punditocracy's cursus honorum from lowly scribe to editor-writer at a highbrow magazine or earnest millennial channel to White House press secretary - or the C-suite at a Silicon Valley unicorn. RIP, my Shillaries. (A new genre seems to have emerged, here, for getting on Ezra's case after his recent performance during the primaries and election season. Another entry is "The persistence of Vox".)

I'm glad someone besides me is disgusted by this guy's version of "liberalism": "Nicholas Kristof's Burden: First class travel and $30,000 speakers fee makes reporting on poverty easier to endure." We have people like Friedman and Kristof representing "liberalism" on the NYT op-ed pages, and you wonder why people hate "liberals".

'Extreme surveillance' becomes UK law with barely a whimper: Investigatory Powers Act legalises range of tools for snooping and hacking by the security services. [...] The security agencies and police began the year braced for at least some opposition, rehearsing arguments for the debate. In the end, faced with public apathy and an opposition in disarray, the government did not have to make a single substantial concession to the privacy lobby."

"Alan Grayson Offers A Plainspoken Bill That Allows Americans To Vote With Our Middle Fingers" - It hasn't got a prayer of being taken seriously, but wouldn't you love to be able to vote for "None of the Above" the next time your leaders try to foist off two unacceptable choices on you?

Alex Emmons and Naomi Chance in The Intercept, "Obama Refuses to Pardon Edward Snowden. Trump's New CIA Pick Wants Him Dead. President Obama indicated on Friday that he won't pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, even as President-elect Donald Trump announced his pick to run the CIA: Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo, who has called for 'the traitor Edward Snowden' to be executed."

David Atkins, "Stop Blaming the Voters: Only the brilliant minds of the establishment could have taken a race featuring a 68-year-old white lifetime civil servant, running against a comically corrupt billionaire real estate tycoon who rides in a gilded elevator to a gaudy sex palace highrise home befitting a Sasha Baron Cohen character, and turn it into a referendum on temperament and multiculturalism instead of inequality."

"The Right Way to Resist Trump: Mr. Berlusconi was able to govern Italy for as long as he did mostly thanks to the incompetence of his opposition. It was so rabidly obsessed with his personality that any substantive political debate disappeared; it focused only on personal attacks, the effect of which was to increase Mr. Berlusconi's popularity. His secret was an ability to set off a Pavlovian reaction among his leftist opponents, which engendered instantaneous sympathy in most moderate voters. Mr. Trump is no different. [...] The Italian experience provides a blueprint for how to defeat Mr. Trump. Only two men in Italy have won an electoral competition against Mr. Berlusconi: Romano Prodi and the current prime minister, Matteo Renzi (albeit only in a 2014 European election). Both of them treated Mr. Berlusconi as an ordinary opponent. They focused on the issues, not on his character. In different ways, both of them are seen as outsiders, not as members of what in Italy is defined as the political caste."

This is a completely different take on the subject than anything else I've read: "You're still crying wolf [...] Stop writing articles breathlessly following everything the KKK says. Stop writing several times more articles about the KKK than there are actual Klansmen. Remember that thing where Trump started out as a random joke, and then the media covered him way more than any other candidate because he was so outrageous, and gave him what was essentially free advertising, and then he became President-elect of the United States? Is the lesson you learned from this experience that you need 24-7 coverage of the Ku Klux Klan?"

Michael Hudson on the Orwellian Turn in Contemporary Economics

Chris Hedges, "We Are All Deplorables [...] I finished my book with a deep dislike for megachurch pastors who, like Trump, manipulate despair to achieve power and wealth. I see the Christian right as a serious threat to an open society. But I do not hate those who desperately cling to this emotional life raft, even as they spew racist venom. Their conclusion that minorities, undocumented workers or Muslims are responsible for their impoverishment is part of the retreat into fantasy. The only way we will blunt this racism and hatred and allow them to free themselves from the grip of magical thinking is by providing jobs that offer adequate incomes and economic stability and by restoring their communities and the primacy of the common good. Any other approach will fail. We will not argue or scold them out of their beliefs. These people are emotionally incapable of coping with the world as it is. If we demonize them we demonize ourselves.

"A New Documentary Explores the Devastating Effects of Drone Warfare on Victims and Whistleblowers [...] I can say the drone program is wrong because I don't know how many people I've killed."

Oh, gods, not this again! "UK to censor online videos of 'non-conventional' sex acts."

RIP: Ron Glass, 71, who played Detective Ron Harris in Barney Miller and Shepherd Book in Firefly, of respiratory failure. And a bright light goes out in the 'Verse. No, I wasn't expecting this, it was mere happenstance that I linked to "The Harris Incident" last time, but perhaps good timing. His former colleagues from Firefly were all over Twitter with tributes.
* Fidel Castro, at 90. Most people forget that even if you see him as a tyrant, he kicked out an even worse tyrant (and the Mafia) and gave his people health care, despite the embargo. Say what you will, but Batista was a bastard, yet somehow the United States managed to make nice with him.
* Scott Eric Kaufman (SEK), blogger at Lawyers, Guns & Money and a bunch of other things. He was funny and much-loved, and I don't want to talk about this now. There was still hope, for a while, that he could recover from the infection that caused multiple organ failure, but on the 18th he posted on Facebook: "I'm dead -- well, not yet. Still sorting it out. But I'm entering an end-of-life facility at the end of the week, to die in Houston. It's been fun, but such fun can only last so long -- time to get to the difficult business of dying."
* Don Waller, who chronicled rock music and was even a punk musician back in the day - but who we remember as a once-active Atriot screen-named Agent Orange. There's a nice remembrance over at Buzzbands with a video of the Imperial Dogs playing, but I can't find an obit with details of age and cause of death. LA Weekly doesn't know either, but they did say, "R.I.P. Don Waller, Influential Music Journalist and Imperial Dog [...] OK, there's his resume. If you didn't know about Don Waller before, the gist of it is that the man made a major, major contribution to what you know and think about pop and rock and American roots music; if you're a fan of any of the above-mentioned stuff, Don's DNA is inside you, whether you knew the man or not."

Spocko's noisy Happy Holidays to Christian Trump Supporters!

You can now get Molly Ivins Letters to the Nation as an ebook.

As a fan of cashews, I have idly wondered why I've never seen them in a shell. Now I know.

The artwork of Dorothea Tanning

"How Many LEGO Would It Take to Build Sci-Fi Megastructures?"

You would think you were on an alien planet if you woke up in the Rainbow Mountains.

Marvin Gaye, live at Montreux

02:14 GMT comment


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The system's not broken, it's fixed

There were things I knew and forgot because for a moment there was a chance to get around them. It's incredibly rare for the incumbent party to win the White House after a full two terms - it's only happened once in my lifetime, and that was Bush1, who turned out to be a one-term president. And much as the public seems to love Obama (who, it must be said, has comic timing that must make hundreds of professional comics envious), they had voted for real change in 2008, and did not get it, and still wanted it. Bernie Sanders had offered that option - a different kind of leadership you really could believe in, because there wasn't a neoliberal record that had to be constantly explained away. He was a wild card. So I guess I got carried away with the idea that we could win, even after my heart sank when I realized there was no chance for Sanders to take the nomination. And even though I still knew, and kept cataloging, the reasons why Clinton was a terrible standard-bearer and a terrible candidate, I was completely unprepared for the fact that Trump actually won.

But wait - this is The Sideshow, and I never take for granted that that's really what happened. On Tuesday night, my Twitter feed was full of people saying, "These exit polls are really messed up," but there were no links, there was no data, and I couldn't find anything about them. We know that we can't expect transparency from the voting machines - we simply can't trust them. We know that Voter ID laws stopped some people from voting and had a deterrent effect on others. But we also know that voting was depressed - voter ID laws stopped both white and black poorer people from voting in some states, and so did pulling legitimate voters off the rolls. But millions of people who showed up for Obama did not show up Tuesday, even in states that didn't have new voting restrictions. Nevertheless, I know that yes, our elections can be stolen. I assumed all along that the Republicans (who own the machines) wouldn't bother to use that strategy against Clinton because a lot of the GOPs bigwig funders seemed to know Clinton was the real Republican in the race, but it seems they all got on board in the end, so I don't know. And it would appear that the red shift keeps on happening. We won't know what's really going on unless we have paper ballots, hand-counted in full public view on the night.

Still, I think the best explanation for how Trump won was that his opposition was a candidate who as much as promised that people would not get the change from her that they wanted, and that they were childish to want that change - and whose principle campaign argument for her election was that she wasn't Trump. This is never a winning strategy for Democrats. The candidate who admitted that things were bad and needed to be fixed was Trump. Trump had the message of hope and change, and Hillary was the candidate of fear.

So let's hear it for the one lefty who told us months ago why Trump would win: Michael Moore. Nobody listened, but he was right.
* And here was Moore after the election, saying it again on Morning Joe.

Al Gore said the people usually get it right. For all I know, maybe they did. God knows those smug, self-satisfied "centrist" elites who've been running the Democratic Party needed a wake-up call. And much as it terrifies me to think that we really will have President Pence, appointing GOP crackpots to head our agencies, I can't help but notice that in the last few days, Trump has been backing off of some of his most odious campaign policies, and the week before the election, there was this at Reuters: "Trump calls for '21st century' Glass-Steagall banking law." Right? The Republican called for a new Glass-Steagall. Believe me, it would not hurt to see that happen.

What was the disheartening message on my feeds on Wednesday morning? That Clinton Democrats were unfriending any Sanders supporter who expressed their own bitterness about the results, who said, "I told you so," who said, "Bernie would have won." Well, maybe he would have and maybe he wouldn't have - it appears that the polls were right all along - but the fact is that after nearly two years of being told that Clinton was the inevitable next president, the sure thing, and anyone who wanted a different candidate was just being childish, selfish, and "privileged", they're entitled to. (Oddly, The Washington Post let Freddie deBoer say, "Hillary Clinton lost. Bernie Sanders could have won." Tuesday night, Krugman was in my Twitter feed blaming it all on Jill Stein, whose poll numbers were so low she might as well not have been there. That Nader fever just keeps infecting some people.)

There are still plenty of Clintonites making embarrassing arguments about why Trump won. Lambert Strether debunks some of the most popular ones over at Naked Capitalism. (Just for the record, I really get upset when people write off election results they don't like as "the public is stupid". The public is often a lot smarter than our highly-educated technocrats, and they seem to know what's going on a lot better than the "smart" people do. And, as I said privately to Matt Stoller, it's almost funny listening to people who love Obama talk about how Trump voters were taken in by a con man.)

Anyway, the net is full of recriminations and even self-recriminations, like this one from David Plouffe: "What I Got Wrong About the Election," He has a list of things he got wrong, but I really think this is the one that mattered most: "IT REALLY WAS A CHANGE ELECTION The voters were serious about that. And there was only one change candidate."

And speaking of recriminations, go Zach, whoever you are. "DNC Staffer Screams At Donna Brazile For Helping Elect Donald Trump [...] 'Why should we trust you as chair to lead us through this?' he asked, according to two people in the room. 'You backed a flawed candidate, and your friend [former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz] plotted through this to support your own gain and yourself. You are part of the problem,' he continued, blaming Brazile for clearing the path for Trump's victory by siding with Clinton early on. 'You and your friends will die of old age and I'm going to die from climate change. You and your friends let this happen, which is going to cut 40 years off my life expectancy.'"

And from the old socialist Jew himself, "Trump Won Because Democratic Party Failed Working People, Says Sanders: Adding his voice to the chorus of condemnation heaped on the Democratic Party in the wake of Donald Trump's election victory, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday attributed the Republican win to the failure of the liberal elite to represent working people. 'It is an embarrassment, I think, to the entire of [the] Democratic Party that millions of white working-class people decided to vote for Mr. Trump, which suggests that the Democratic message of standing up for working people no longer holds much sway among workers in this country,' the progressive senator and one-time presidential candidate told the Associated Press. 'You cannot be a party which on one hand says we're in favor of working people, we're in favor of the needs of young people but we don't quite have the courage to take on Wall Street and the billionaire class,' he continued. 'People do not believe that. You've got to decide which side you're on.'"

Matt Taibbi, "President Trump: How America Got It So Wrong: Journalists and politicians blew off the warning signs of a Trump presidency - now, we all must pay the price [...] The almost universal failure among political pros to predict Trump's victory - the few exceptions, conspicuously, were people who hailed from rust-belt states, like Michael Moore - spoke to an astonishing cultural blindness. Those of us whose job it is to cover campaigns long ago grew accustomed to treating The People as a kind of dumb animal, whose behavior could sometimes be unpredictable but, in the end, almost always did what it was told. [...] These elites lived in both parties, Trump warned. The Republicans were tools of job-exporting fat cats who only pretended to be tough on immigration and trade in order to win votes, when all they really cared about were profits. The Democrats were tools of the same interests, who subsisted politically on the captured votes of hoodwinked minorities, preaching multiculturalism while practicing globalism. Both groups, Trump insisted, were out of touch with the real American voter. Neither party saw the awesome potential of this story to upend our political system."

Jonathan Pie Tells Liberals Why Trump Won. He's never work-safe, but he says a lot that's true.

Richard J. Eskow and Mike Lux both did useful post-mortems.

It's pretty disgusting watching people killing themselves to insist that the sole takeaway from the election result is that well-to-do whites voted for Trump only because they are racist and sexist, and that no other factor was involved. The demographic that broke most strongly for trump made $50K-$70K - not poor, but certainly not rich. They may make more than the median, but these are the people who can't afford to send their kids to college and know the only way to do it is see them saddled with crushing debt. They aren't people who have helicopter pads, and they probably don't even have a pool. They aren't simply looking at an imaginary loss of status because being white doesn't make them better than blacks anymore, they are looking at a world of real, material loss. They remember when they were young and they were able to find jobs that had real hours and a straight salary and they could plan an evening out in advance, and their kids can't because their employer won't give them a reliable schedule and might just call them up at a moment's notice to come in to work. They remember a time when it was possible to say, "Take this job and shove it," because it was a reasonable expectation that you could walk away and find something better. They remember that yes, even black teenagers could get a job and rent an apartment and know that the job would cover the rent every month - hell, cover the rent in the first week of the month - and now their kids can't possibly find a place where they can expect that they will get enough hours this month to pay the rent when it comes due. They started with the same dream their parents had, to make life better for their kids, to give them those things they never had - and now they know they can't even give them what they did have. Employers and banks are doing things that used to be illegal - for good reason! - and they can't promise their kids anything at all, least of all that, "Everything will be all right," because it's become pretty obvious that it won't. Here's David Atkins responding to myriad articles purporting to show that only racism and sexism account for the election results: "The Twisted Pretzel Logic of the 'It's Not Economic Anxiety' Crowd.

"Here's to all the lonely progressives living outside the liberal echo chamber: How did this happen? I'm a progressive. I see government as a tool of the people, and I think things like food and healthcare should be basic human rights. What am I doing out here, shunned and exiled by all my liberal friends and keeping it a secret how relieved I am that Hillary Clinton lost the election?"

Atrios wrote what for him is a long piece, for a change - long enough that I'm not just going to quote the whole thing, here. But the shortened version is: "Shit is fucked up and bullshit and neither our benevolent nor our malevolent overlords know or care." Go read it: "Don't Overlearn."
* Also: And Piss Off About That: I've seen some prominent liberals fretting "oh noez Trump now owns the NSA!!!" Well, uh, yeah, principled opposition to the NSA's ever expanding powers never depended on whether one thinks the guy in charge is a good guy or a bad guy. Abuse of those powers never required that the person on top was the one abusing them. The powers are themselves intrinsically abusive, and giving them to a secret, largely unaccountable, and powerful for rather obvious reasons agency is nuts even if you trust the person who is supposedly their boss."

"Polls Showed Sanders Had a Better Shot of Beating Trump - but Pundits Told You to Ignore Them: There was a debate last spring, when the Sanders/Clinton race was at its most heated, as to whether Bernie Sanders' consistently out-polling Hillary Clinton was to be taken as a serious consideration in favor of his nomination. Before, during and after the race was competitive, this was the Vermont senator's strongest argument: He was out-polling Trump in the general election by an average of 10 or so points, whereas Clinton was only slightly ahead. His favorables were also much higher, often with a spread as much as 25 points. Never mind, the pundits said - Clinton had been 'vetted' and Sanders had not [...] The idea that Sanders had not been 'properly examined' was pure dogma, asserted by pundits with hardly any critical thought. It was true because Important People in Important Media Outlets simply said it was. Most in the media failed to meaningfully push back against this dogma, and it was a major contributing factor to the Democrats nominating someone who, by all available measures, was a stronger candidate than Clinton."

Thomas Frank in the Guardian, "Donald Trump is moving to the White House, and liberals put him there: Hillary Clinton was exactly the wrong candidate: a technocrat who offered fine-tuning when the country wanted to take a sledgehammer to the machine."

Jimmy Dore says Bernie at the DNC is now the most heartbreaking video of 2016.

Let's get to some good news. "Controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio ousted after 24 years in Democrat upset: End of sheriff's reign, whose crackdowns on undocumented residents foreshadowed Trump, triggered rare scenes of Democratic jubilation on Tuesday."
* Actually, there was some other good news, in spite of what you may have heard.
* Blue America backed some progressive winners, so it ain't all gloom and doom.

"Congress will flush TPP down the toilet, White House concedes: Obama administration admits defeat after congressional leaders from both parties say they will not bring trade deal forward during lame-duck session. White House officials conceded on Friday that the president's hard-fought-for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal would not pass Congress, as lawmakers there prepared for the anti-global trade policies of President-elect Donald Trump.

"Elizabeth Warren And Bernie Sanders Tell Donald Trump They'll 'Work With Him' On Key Economic Issues: During his unorthodox Republican presidential campaign, Donald Trump at times touted his support for longtime progressive causes, promising to reform trade deals, invest in infrastructure, reinstate a key Depression-era financial regulation and combat political corruption. Now, some of Trump's harshest progressive critics are offering their support for the president-elect on the issues on which they seem to agree. [...] 'Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media,' he said in a press release. 'To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.' [...] 'Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media,' he said in a press release. 'To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him.'"

NYT op-ed from Bernie Sanders, "Where the Democrats Go From Here: I will keep an open mind to see what ideas Mr. Trump offers and when and how we can work together. Having lost the nationwide popular vote, however, he would do well to heed the views of progressives. If the president-elect is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families, I'm going to present some very real opportunities for him to earn my support."

Look, no one is saying that racism had nothing to do with why some people voted for Trump - there has always been a cadre of old-line segregationists and their heirs in the far right of the GOP. But it doesn't explain why so many people who you would expect to vote Democratic voted for Trump instead. What might is the fact that the bottom 90% has been losing ground during the nearly eight years of a Democratic administration. And that fact is almost certainly behind rising incidence of racism, too. "But ugly attitudes don't simply fall out of the sky, eternal and inflexible. A new paper from economists Rob Johnson and Arjun Jayadev looks at economic downturns from 1979 to 2014, and finds a tight correlation between unemployment and racism - the higher the unemployment rate, the more ubiquitous the discrimination. A 2014 study from New York University psychologists found that racial animosity hardens under economic scarcity. Last year, three German economists found that 'far-right' political parties almost always make significant gains after a financial crisis."

"Bernie's empire strikes back: In state after state, supporters of the Vermont senator's presidential bid are challenging the Democratic establishment for party control."

Sam Seder did a great interview with Jane McAlevey, author of No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age - about how liberals have forgotten how to do the real work of organizing that is necessary to wielding citizen power.
* Also on The Majority Report, "Wes Clark, Jr: Mobilizing for the Climate Crisis: The history of the oil industry's intermingling with US intelligence and the subsequent history of colonialism, evident in the mentality of Energy Transfer Parters and the pipeline builders. How #NoDAPL represents 'colonialism at home.' The need for climate radicalism as opposed to spectatorship. How climate change will enter the system through the insurance industry. The geopolitical risks of China's plan to use Africa for future food growth." And a reminder that the land those #NoDAPL protesters are on belongs to the people who are being arrested for "trespassing" on it, not to the people who are tasing and tear-gassing and setting dogs on them.

Neoliberals like to pretend that it's "protectionist" and bad to want to protect the jobs of ordinary working people, but somehow the opposite when they want to protect high-earners' incomes. Dean Baker sees things differently: "Rather than Dumping Unions, Democrats Could Shake Off Their Upscale Hard Core Anti-Market Stance."

"How the Hillary Clinton campaign deliberately 'elevated' Donald Trump with its 'pied piper' strategy: An email released by WikiLeaks shows how the Democratic Party purposefully 'elevated' Trump to 'leader of the pack'."
* "Wikileaks: Damaging analysis of Sanders's single payer plan was likely a coordinated Clinton hit." It's pretty strange when a "study" is suddenly released at a crucial time that contradicts all the previous work of the researcher.

"Restoring trust in our trade policy: I'm in favor of trade. I don't know anyone opposed to trade. A better question is, 'How should we manage globalization?' We've lost trust in our approach to globalization. The Brexit vote in Europe was a vote of no confidence. Millions of voters in our presidential campaigns send a similar message. Globalization is not working for us. We should rethink our approach to globalization if we hope to restore trust."

"Why the White Working Class Rebelled: Neoliberalism is Killing Them (Literally) [...] [...] Neoliberalism - putting the market in charge of social policy and actually encouraging industries to move abroad for higher profit margins (but for fewer industrial jobs at home) - had much the same effect on the white working class as the fall of the Soviet system had on the Russian working class"

"Muslims who saved Jews from Holocaust commemorated in I Am Your Protector campaign [...] Organised by I Am Your Protector (IAYP) - who describe themselves as 'a community of people who speak up and stand up for each other across religion, race, gender and beliefs' - the group is attempting to highlight the, often forgotten, stories of Muslims who helped Jews during one of history's deadliest genocides."

David Dayen in The New Republic on "The Utter Chaos of Brexit: If you thought U.S. politics was fractured, take a look across the pond. Britain's High Court has thrown the future of Europe into uncertainty, ruling this week that Prime Minister Theresa May must get Parliament's approval before she can begin the process of taking Britain out of the European Union. The potential consequences of the ruling are all over the map: It could lead to an accelerated Brexit timetable or a new British governing coalition that nullifies it. It could lead to greater harmony inside Europe or a continental banking crisis."

The Legacy of Billy Tauzin: The White House-PhRMA Deal [...] In the 2008 campaign, Obama declared his intention to include all stakeholders as he sought to reform the nation's health care system, but also supported key Democratic health reform policies. Among these were several that targeted the pharmaceutical industry: Allowing re-importation of drugs from first world countries with lower drug prices and providing Medicare with negotiating authority over prescription drug prices in the recently enacted Part D program. These weren't just promises, Obama had already voted for both of them as a senator in 2007. (Roll Call Vote 132 and Roll Call Vote 150.) [...] The cost cutting measures passed in the Energy & Commerce bill spooked the board of PhRMA, which included all of the CEOs involved in the deal-cutting meetings with the White House and Baucus. The board pressured Tauzin to go public with the deal to ensure that the White House would recognize it and not renege. On August 4, the Los Angeles Times, in an exclusive report, featured quotes from Tauzin claiming that a deal between the White House and PhRMA existed and that, as Tauzin put it, 'The White House blessed it.' Tom Hamburger wrote in the article, 'For his part, Tauzin said he had not only received the White House pledge to forswear Medicare drug price bargaining, but also a separate promise not to pursue another proposal Obama supported during the campaign: importing cheaper drugs from Canada or Europe.' The White House's Jim Messina later confirmed Tauzin's claim, stating, 'The president encouraged this approach ... He wanted to bring all the parties to the table to discuss health insurance reform.'

"Controversy Erupts Around $10 Million Bust of Legal Marijuana Grow: Over the weekend, 35 people were arrested and $10 million worth of marijuana was seized during a raid at an old airport in Calavaras County, California. According to the sheriff's department, the grow operation had been under investigation for the past month due to a reported increase in traffic going and out of the airport. However, the operation wasn't illegal; investigators found that the owners had a permit to grow cannabis."

"How Donald Trump Used Fine Print To Make It Harder To Sue Wall Street For Fraud: Throughout the presidential campaign, Donald Trump has cast himself as both an anti-Wall Street populist and a straight shooter fed up with the waffling and equivocating that dominates business and politics. He disdains 'crooked' Hillary Clinton, as he calls her, but the blunt-talking Trump is no stranger to the art of the lawyered caveat. In one of his most significant court battles, Trump protected his business empire with carefully parsed fine print - a 'perfect prospectus' that secured a landmark ruling helping to insulate Wall Street from charges of fraud."

"Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops [...] But an extensive examination by The New York Times indicates that the debate has missed a more basic problem - genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides."

Dept. of Keystone Kops: "N.S.A. Appears to Have Missed 'Big Red Flags' in Suspect's Behavior: WASHINGTON - Year after year, both in his messy personal life and his brazen theft of classified documents from the National Security Agency, Harold T. Martin III put to the test the government's costly system for protecting secrets. And year after year, the system failed."

"A City Clerk Opposed an Early-Voting Site at UW-Green Bay Because 'Students Lean More Toward the Democrats': New emails released to The Nation reveal ongoing GOP attempts to suppress the vote."

"Racism Alone Doesn't Explain Trump's Support, Which Also Reflects Economic Anxiety: [...] This analysis, however, falls apart under scrutiny. First, while Trump's biggest fans are indeed wealthier than average, they remain overwhelmingly blue collar - and the Gallup study also shows that their children's community health and economic mobility are lower. They don't depend much on social services themselves, but they see their way of life and their families' futures disappearing before their eyes."

"Enormous, Humongous $36.4 September Trade Deficit Helps Trump: [...] In normal times a trade deficit of $36.4 billion in a single month would be met with outrage, headlines, speeches, torches and pitchforks. It represents a transfer of fulfillment of our economy's 'demand' out of the country at a time when we need jobs here. A trade deficit means factories close here, workers are laid off, they open 'there,' the same goods come back to our country. But it is called 'trade' because now the goods cross a border. And it is a trade deficit because more goods are coming in than are going out. Our economy has to borrow to make up the difference. In these abnormal times we're only getting the torches and pitchforks - also known as Trump voters, pissed off that their middle-class jobs have been replaced by low-paying jobs. The US has had a trade deficit since the late 1970s, when we were sold on 'free trade' and 'free markets' that benefit the 1% at the expense of the rest of us"

"6 Reasons Why A New Civil War Is Possible And Terrifying"

"Why Trump's Popularity Signals an Oligarchy on the Brink of a Civilization-Threatening Collapse: Oligarchies win except when society enacts effective reforms."

"Clarice Starling is not a real FBI agent."

Jon Schwartz, "Donald Trump Will Be President. This Is What We Do Next. It's not hyperbole to say the United States, and in fact the world, will need some luck to get out of this one alive. So let's concentrate on making our own luck."

"Why More American Men Feel Discriminated Against [...] Perhaps more important, though, researchers have found that men are prone to seeing discrimination as a zero-sum game. That is, they believe that discrimination against one group necessarily benefits another group and vice versa, so any policy that benefits African-Americans, for instance, harms whites, and any policy that benefits women amounts to discrimination against men. Fifteen years ago, younger men - and women of all ages - overwhelmingly rejected this view, but recent data shows that younger white men are now about as likely as older men to see discrimination as zero-sum. With race-based policies, it's possible that some might amount to aiding a minority at the expense of the majority - affirmative action policies for college admissions, for instance. But it's often less clear how policies that help women might hurt men. In the ANES data, men who perceive discrimination against men are more likely to oppose mandatory employer coverage of contraception and parental leave laws, for instance. Even if there's no evidence that such policies would hurt men (heterosexual men clearly also benefit from contraception), the logic of the zero-sum approach is unforgiving: Anything that helps women must also be hurting men."

RIP: "Leonard Cohen Dead at 82: Hugely influential singer and songwriter's work spanned five decades" I suspected this would be coming soon, he was no spring chicken and he'd had a good run, but he was still performing and you always hope for more. It's not happy news, but we will always have that music.
* "Musician Leon Russell has died at 74." He'd been performing right up to the end.
* "Mose Allison, Iconic Blues and Jazz Pianist, Dead at 89: The Who, Yardbirds, Van Morrison, the Clash and Elvis Costello all covered musician's prolific catalog."

"Janet Reno, former US attorney general, has died," at 78, of complications from Parkinson's disease. Reno gets blamed for a lot of things that were set in motion before she took the job, but to me she will always be remembered as the idiot who was so afraid of being accused of partisanship that she let Ken Starr turn the Whitewater case into a sex show by expanding an investigation of a lousy real estate deal into a prurient circus around a private sexual affair.

"Creator of chatbot that beat 160,000 parking fines now tackling homelessness : Teenager who designed DoNotPay to overturn tickets in London and New York expands service to assist those dealing with housing problems in the UK. London-born Stanford student Joshua Browder created DoNotPay initially to help people appeal against fines for unpaid parking tickets. Dubbed 'the world's first robot lawyer', Browder later programmed it to deal with a wider range of legal issues, such as claiming for delayed flights and trains and payment protection insurance (PPI). Now, Browder, 19, wants his chatbot to provide free legal aid to people facing homelessness. He said: 'I never could have imagined a parking ticket bot would appeal so much to people. Then I realised: this issue is bigger than a few parking tickets.'"

"Wall Street Isn't Worth It: Cutting the banks down to size is good policy and good politics."
* "Everyday Finance Politics: Taking on Wall Street is central to fighting racial and gender inequality."

Somehow I missed these at the time, but former US Congressman from North Carolina Brad Miller, now a Roosevelt Institute senior fellow, has been writing a bit about what he has seen in Washington, at HuffPo. Here are a couple:
* "The Rabble Understands Trade Pretty Well: There is no issue that has done more to fuel the unexpected success of anti-establishment candidates on the left and the right this year ' Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump ' than international trade. There is no issue about which establishment economic policy elites feel more certainty than trade. There is no issue about which elites feel more entitled to act on supposedly neutral, antiseptic technocratic analysis without the intrusion of tawdry politics than trade. And there is no issue that has done more to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of elites, political insiders, in the eyes of ordinary Americans, people trying to make an honest living, than trade."
* "Pragmatism in Pursuit of What? On Financial Reform, Differences in Goals [...] The elites who have filled economic policy roles in recent administrations, Democratic and Republican alike, did not share the public's enthusiasm for tough reform. And they regarded economic policy as the province of experts into which the opinion of the rabble should not intrude. 'Our job was to fix it,' former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said, 'not to make people like us.'"

The news told me the clouds had cleared so I could se the supermoon, only they hadn't, so no. However, David Sirota got a couple of nice shots.

With weeks still to go, John Oliver calls 2016 early, with a rousing farewell to a very bad year.

Bob Dylan ends grumpy speculation that he will refuse the Nobel Prize, saying he will be at the ceremony if he possibly can.

"The Harris Incident" - I'd forgotten about this 1978, episode of Barney Miller. There's a lot in it. Watch it closely and see if you can see what I mean. And also remember that this is the show real cops used to say was the most realistic cop show on the air. Detective Ron Harris, by the way, is played by the same Ron Glass who we later knew as Book in Firefly.

"When Charles Dickens & Edgar Allan Poe Met, and Dickens' Pet Raven Inspired Poe's Poem 'The Raven'

Radio interview of H.G. Wells by Orson Welles. No, Really.

If you missed the Halloween Google Doodle, it's a cute little game.

Wonder Woman trailer

Nellie McKay, "Ridiculous"
♫ "you shoulda listened to your kids
not corporate nationalists
nor fortunate fantasists who ill disguise their proto-fascist fist
you can't remember who to blame
those you hate or those you agree with
but the latter is hard to resist" ♬

16:52 GMT comment


Thursday, 27 October 2016

Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain

"Operation Cross Country X: Everything You Need to Know About the FBI's Annual 'Underage Human Trafficking' Sting In One Chart" - Hundreds of law enforcement agencies nationwide get together to bust mostly adult prostitutes and the johns.

"How Comcast Muscled Its Way out of Negative Political Ads: There are few things people agree on in this world more readily than their abhorrence of Comcast. Thanks to its price gouging and infamous customer service, the odious telecom monopoly was named Consumerist's "Worst Company in America" in both 2010 and 2014. The company has even been criticized for violating free-speech provisions via throttling - the intentional slowing of internet service to certain websites. Now, Comcast is under fire for messing with political advertisements in Oregon."

"We Never Voted for Corporate Rule: The $66 billion sale of Monsanto is yet another reminder of how corporations have colonized the world and subverted democracy. To regain our future, we must claim our right to popular sovereignty."

Matt Stoller in The Atlantic, "How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul: In the 1970s, a new wave of post-Watergate liberals stopped fighting monopoly power. The result is an increasingly dangerous political system."
* Also on the subject of monopoly power (and how Robert Bork - yes, that Bork - started the ball rolling), Sam Seder interviewed Barry Lynn on how it directly threatens democracy and what we can do about it.
* "What Voters Need to Know About Wall Street and Economic Policy: Mike Konczal, a financial-engineer-turned-popular-progressive-blogger, offers his views on the 2008 financial meltdown and the ways in which it changed both political parties."

Dday is worried that the Clinton campaign has already chosen it's key staffers and we need to push hard to make sure they are to our liking. I don't actually consider it that surprising that they've already got their players lined up, but push-back is certainly something people should be ready to do.

"Major New Court Ruling Says 'Even The President' Can't Declare Torture Lawful: "In a robust ruling in favor of Abu Ghraib detainees, an appellate court ruled Friday that torture is such a clear violation of the law that it is 'beyond the power of even the president to declare such conduct lawful.' The ruling from a unanimous panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates a lawsuit against a military contractor for its role in the torture of four men at the notorious prison in Iraq. Last June, a district court ruled that a 'cloud of ambiguity' surrounds the definition of torture, and that despite anti-torture laws, the decision to torture was a 'political question' that could not be judged by courts. That ruling echoed the widely discredited legal theories of the Bush administration, which argued that the war on terror gave the president the inherent authority to indefinitely detain and torture terror suspects, and conduct mass surveillance on Americans' international communications. But the Fourth Circuit soundly rejected that theory, saying that the United States has clear laws against torturing detainees that apply to the executive branch." About damned time.

"ACLU Wants 23 Secret Surveillance Laws Made Public: The ACLU has identified 23 legal opinions that contain new or significant interpretations of surveillance law - affecting the government's use of malware, its attempts to compel technology companies to circumvent encryption, and the CIA's bulk collection of financial records under the Patriot Act - all of which remain secret to this day, despite an ostensible push for greater transparency following Edward Snowden's disclosures."

"Leading US civil rights organizations call for decriminalization of personal drugs: American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch report finds last year someone was arrested every 25 seconds for low-level drug offenses in the US."

Over the last week there seems to have been a sudden upsurge in attacks on Assange, first with his internet access being shut off by the Ecuadorian embassy, then with that perennial favorite that gets dragged out when all else fails, the completely unsubstantiated and frankly unbelievable claim that Assange is a pedophile. Seriously.
* Ecuador Admits They Silenced Assange Because Clinton Leaks Were 'Interfering' With US Election
* Gee, I wonder why I don't cite Bipartisan Report a lot. "JUST IN: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange CAUGHT In Alleged Sex Chat With Child (REPORTS)
* "Background and Documents on Attempts to Frame Assange as a Pedophile and Russias spy"

David Dayen, "When You Find Out Your Neighbors Own Your House and They Try to Evict You" - What it means when the banks broke the cadastre - the chain of title.
* "Robert Scheer and David Dayen Uncover Untold Stories of the Mortgage Crisis [...] That's right. What they did on the back end, after they fell into foreclosure, and reading those foreclosure documents, and seeing the discrepancy, and seeing that they're being sued by people they've never heard of before, entities that they've never heard of before, and seeing that the alleged transfer to that entity was executed after they were put into foreclosure. In other words, by the evidence they were presented, U.S. Bank, in the case of Lisa Epstein, didn't own the loan at the time that they foreclosed on her, and that's just the beginning."

Dean Baker, "Volcker and Peterson: Ignoring the Lack of Demand Problem: Former Federal Reserve Board Chair Paul Volcker and private equity billionaire Peter Peterson had a NYT column this morning complaining that not enough attention is being paid to the national debt. The piece uses wrong-headed economics and xenophobia to try to scare readers into backing their austerity agenda. On the economic side, it implies that the prospect of a rising debt to GDP ratio implies an imminent crisis. [...] There are several points to be made here. First the ratio of debt service to GDP is currently just 0.8 percent. (This is net of interest payments rebated by the Federal Reserve Board.) This is near a post-war low. By comparison the ratio was over 3.0 percent in the early and mid-1990s. In other words, the reality is the exact opposite of what Volcker and Peterson claim, the burden of the debt on the economy is unusually low.
* David Dayen, "Debate Moderators Under the Spell of Deficit-Obsessed Billionaire Pete Peterson: THE COMMITTEE FOR a Responsible Federal Budget, an organization that is virtually unknown outside of Washington, was nonetheless cited in four different questions during this year's presidential and vice-presidential debates. Moderators Elaine Quijano and Chris Wallace, seemingly unable to string together an intelligent thought about domestic policy on their own, outsourced their questions to a cabal of self-styled serious grown-ups who believe that advocating for cutting Social Security and Medicare makes them look like paragons of virtue. But members of Washington's media elite are virtually the only people left in America still buying the well-funded nonsense CRFB and its Wall Street backers have been selling for decades. Every time their ideas get exposed to the public, they are rejected wholesale. While the D.C. cocktail-party circuit sees deficit scare tactics as steely-eyed wisdom, the national constituency for such monomania could fit in a mid-sized sedan." I didn't think writing about Pete Peterson's antics could be so funny.

By the way, Dean Baker has a book out, Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer. "There has been an enormous upward redistribution of income in the United States in the last four decades. In his most recent book, Baker shows that this upward redistribution was not the result of globalization and the natural workings of the market. Rather it was the result of conscious policies that were designed to put downward pressure on the wages of ordinary workers while protecting and enhancing the incomes of those at the top. Baker explains how rules on trade, patents, copyrights, corporate governance, and macroeconomic policy were rigged to make income flow upward."

Our friend Alice Marshall also has a book out, on How to stop voter suppression before it begins, called The Precinct Captain's Guide to Political Victory.

"Group accuses Mike Pence of voter suppression after state police raid registration program in Indiana: A progressive advocacy group is launching an advertising campaign accusing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who also is the Republican vice-presidential nominee, of allowing voter suppression after state police raided the offices of a voter registration program aimed at signing up African Americans."

"UN Expert Decries Global Assault on Freedom of Expression: The findings reveal 'how policies and laws against terrorism and other criminal activity risk unnecessarily undermining the media, critical voices, and activists'"

"Good News, Everybody! Politicians are celebrating a decline in the poverty rate. There's just one problem: it doesn't really measure poverty"

Thomas Frank, "Swat Team: The media's extermination of Bernie Sanders, and real reform"

"Donald Trump's 'Voter Fraud' Lies Are Part of the GOP's DNA

"We're Missing The Point About Trump's Charges Of Illegitimate Elections." I think most readers of The Sideshow are aware that if the Republicans are accusing the Democrats of doing something shady, that means the Republicans are doing it. But the Republicans also have a long history of declaring any Democratic presidential winner illegitimate. Strangely, the one president of our lifetimes who can genuinely be called "illegitimate", George W. Bush, is not given this label by the Democratic establishment. Funny how that happens.

NYT In Hindsight, Backers of Bernie Sanders Lament What Might Have Been

"An Unpredictable, High-Stakes Election [...] On election night, Wasserman Schultz was announced the winner by a commanding lead of 13.5%. However, we have examined statistical analysis of the race from four separate analysts and after detailed demographic research have concluded that there are red flags that deserve further investigation." This is Florida, where people have constantly complained that the machines flip their votes.

Glenn Greenwald, "Is Disclosure of Podesta's Emails a Step Too Far? A Conversation With Naomi Klein"

David Sirota, "Hillary Clinton And Wall Street: Financial Industry May Control Retirement Savings In A Clinton Administration: While Hillary Clinton has spent the presidential campaign saying as little as possible about her ties to Wall Street, the executive who some observers say could be her Treasury Secretary has been openly promoting a plan to give financial firms control of hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement savings. The executive is Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group."
* Yves Smith, "Blackstone's Tony James Touting What Looks Like Hillary's Scheme to Gut Social Security: In other words, this is the worst of all possible worlds. You have an individual account, but you are not permitted to invest in stocks and bonds; you may not be permitted even to choose your asset allocation. Worse, James' language suggests that the vehicles will be 'run by professional asset managers,' as in many or perhaps all will be actively managed, as opposed to indexes. As any student of John Bogle will tell you, paying for active managers is a waste of money, but Hillary wants to go that route on an industrial scale so as to further enrich grifters like Tony James (let us not forget that the Blackstone has paid fines in an SEC settlement for charging fees it was not authorized to take, which in most walks of life would be called embezzlement). And of course, private equity is on the list of preferred investment. And even better: James holds up private equity as a solution, just as it supposedly is for public pension funds, even as Blackstone was one of the first private equity firms to warn that returns in the future would be paltry. Indeed, the valuations of the private equity firms that are public say that they expect none of them will be earning any carry fees over the next few years. It's perverse to see James praise public pension funds for their high allocations to alternative investments even when he and his private equity colleagues snigger privately about their lack of sophistications."
* Sirota again, "Wall Street 2016: Firms Managing Pension Money Spend Millions To Support Governors, Despite Pay-To-Play Rule."

David Dayen, "Debate Moderators Under the Spell of Deficit-Obsessed Billionaire Pete Peterson: THE COMMITTEE FOR a Responsible Federal Budget, an organization that is virtually unknown outside of Washington, was nonetheless cited in four different questions during this year's presidential and vice-presidential debates. Moderators Elaine Quijano and Chris Wallace, seemingly unable to string together an intelligent thought about domestic policy on their own, outsourced their questions to a cabal of self-styled serious grown-ups who believe that advocating for cutting Social Security and Medicare makes them look like paragons of virtue. But members of Washington's media elite are virtually the only people left in America still buying the well-funded nonsense CRFB and its Wall Street backers have been selling for decades. Every time their ideas get exposed to the public, they are rejected wholesale. While the D.C. cocktail-party circuit sees deficit scare tactics as steely-eyed wisdom, the national constituency for such monomania could fit in a mid-sized sedan." I didn't think writing about Pete Peterson's antics could be so funny.

"Trump TV? CNN's Jeff Zucker explains how he became Donald's useful idiot: Until very recently, it seemed self-evident that Donald Trump was the biggest raging moron in American public life. But that was before CNN president Jeff Zucker's star turn before the guardians of establishment wisdom at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government."

Hélène Barthélemy in The Nation, "The Agency Designed to Protect Civilians From the Police Actually Protects Police From Civilians: The CCRB, it seems, was an agency doomed to uselessness from the start. On September 16, 1992, 10,000 protesters descended on City Hall. They blocked traffic for the better part of an hour, climbing over cars, buses, and police barricades. Some were violent and inebriated, and a few physically assaulted members of the press, as others hurled racist epithets at New York's first African-American mayor, David Dinkins. They eventually burst through barricades into the City Hall parking lot, much to the indifference of the 300 uniformed police officers there to oversee the demonstration. The protesters were off-duty cops. sent in by police unions and egged on by would-be mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, they were indignant over that day's heated hearing on a bill supported by Mayor Dinkins. The bill was designed to establish an independent civilian agency providing oversight of police, at a time not too different from today, when unrelenting police brutality was the subject of both weekly headlines and unyielding protests. The agency was pushed for by a 'rainbow coalition' of community groups, civil-liberties agencies, and City Council representatives."

James O'Keefe hits paydirt. They got a video of a Democrat talking about sending people to Trump rallies to start fights. But it means some people are starting to talk about O'Keefe like he's...legitimate.
* And just in time, because some people are also saying that "Trump Could Be Quietly Building a Media Empire," and O'Keefe is expected to have a place in it.

"Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer Says Top Priority for Next Year Is Giant Corporate Tax Cut: New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, likely to be majority leader next year if Democrats take back the Senate, told CNBC Tuesday that one of his top two 2017 priorities would be an enormous corporate tax cut."

Best line of the general election season so far comes from Richard J. Eskow: "They're Dorian Gray, and Trump is their picture."

"What Richard Branson Understands About Trump That Half The Punditocracy Doesn't [...] For more than a year, pundits have treated Trump's occasional populist talk as sincere. It never was. It was about getting back at people. That's Trump's prime motivation in life."

"A Stroll Down Memory Lane: The Clintons' Passionate Friendship with Alvaro Uribe, man who scuttled Colombia's peace deal"

"Physician Revives a Dying Art: The Physical"

Not much has changed since 2007, when this came out: "Special Report: Democratic House Officials Recruited Wealthy Conservatives: This letter sent from then DCCC Head Rahm Emanuel to Democratic House hopeful Jan Schneider underscores a DCCC policy of remaining "neutral" in primary races. Schneider soon came to doubt the letter's sincerity."

RIP: "Phil Chess, the Polish immigrant who brought blues to the world: The Chess Records co-founder was first inspired by music he heard through the walls of a Baptist church, and went on to make an indelible mark on music history."
* Tom Hayden, Civil Rights and Antiwar Activist Turned Lawmaker, Dies at 76, of complications after a stroke. A long time ago, I met Tom and his wife of the time, Jane Fonda, in a local church. It was Jane I ended up arguing with, so I can't say much about Tom, although I had seen him at events where SDS made presentations. In recent years, he has been most notable for making silly endorsements of Democratic primary candidates Senator Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton, but in his younger years, he made his mark with The Port Huron Statement, a document that was remarkable in its time, and perhaps today as well.
* Bobby Vee: 1960s pop singer dies aged 73. He did two of my favorites, "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" and "Take Good Care of My Baby".
* Sherri S. Tepper, 87. John Scalzi, said: "This is genuinely upsetting news for me: Locus is reporting the death of Sheri S. Tepper, who wrote the Hugo-nominated novel Grass among many others, and who was given a lifetime achievement award by the World Fantasy Convention just last year. Tepper was in her late 80s, and had an accomplished life outside of her considerable writing career, including being an executive director of the Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood in Colorado, so one can't precisely say this is an unexpected development. But she was one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy writers, and an influence on my thinking about SF/F writing, so to have her gone on is still a deeply depressing thing." Me, I loved her books. Here's the obit at Tor.com.
* "Steve Dillon: Judge Dredd, Preacher and Punisher comic artist dies" - he was 54.
* "RIP Jack Chick, father of the Satanic Panic." Cory Doctorow said, "The paranoid, hateful minicomics pioneer is now dead. No one will say how he came to be dead." Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian, posted a cartoon in his honor that you can print out and leave around for people to find, just like the real thing (only different).

Winners of the 2016 RMet-RPS Weather Photographer of the Year Contest Announced

This one always seemed appropriate for Halloween to me: "St. James Infirmary", with Betty Boop.

00:57 GMT comment


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Do you want to know a secret?

"Code of Silence: Two Chicago police officers uncovered a massive criminal enterprise within the department. Then they were hung out to dry." - Yes, that's right, a criminal gang operating inside the Chicago police. "The common understanding of the code of silence is that it is a peer-to-peer phenomenon - I've got your back, you've got mine - within the rank and file. Senior officials are implicated to the extent they do not take affirmative steps to discourage operation of the code. The thesis of the Spalding case, by contrast, is that high-ranking officials ordered retaliation against the officers for violating the code."
* "Hundreds of police departments in Texas, California broke laws on reporting police shootings, study finds. HOUSTON -| Hundreds of police departments in Texas and California failed to report officer-involved shooting deaths as required by law in the past decade, a recent study found. Research by Texas State University in San Marcos found registries created by the two states to report all in-custody deaths did not list about 220 use-of-force fatalities in Texas and 440 in California from 2005-2015, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday. " I don't even blink when I see stories like this anymore. Of course they did.

"Elizabeth Warren Wants President Obama to Fire His SEC Chair: In an extraordinary letter, Warren highlighted several critical shortcomings at the Wall Street oversight agency. For many months, Senator Elizabeth Warren has been castigating Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White during hearings, media appearances, and in letters to the agency. Friday morning, Warren finally asked President Obama to replace her. In a strongly worded letter to the White House, Warren outlined her principal objections to White's tenure and what she described as 'brazen conduct': namely, White's refusal to develop an SEC rule that would force publicly traded companies to disclose political donations, along with White's failure to fully implement Dodd-Frank financial reforms. [...] Moreover, Warren is firing yet another warning shot to the next president about the role Warren expects to play. While Obama is unlikely to demote his own selection for chair, Hillary Clinton could plausibly do so without appearing to do an about-face."

"A New Spy Scandal Exposes the Corruption of Privatized Intelligence: 'This is corporate malfeasance and a direct threat to national security.'"

"Legalizing Cannabis: Prison Food Provider Donates To Keep Marijuana Illegal In Arizona: A deep-pocketed coalition is spending big to keep marijuana illegal in Arizona. Drug companies, the Chamber of Commerce, and the alcohol industry, have together poured millions of dollars into the campaign to defeat Proposition 205, a ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for those over 21. And as opinion polls show a tight race, another industry entered the fray: prison food providers."

"RT: NatWest 'freezes Russian channel's UK bank accounts': NatWest bank has frozen the accounts of Russia's state-run broadcaster RT, its editor-in-chief says. Margarita Simonyan tweeted: "They've closed our accounts in Britain. All our accounts. 'The decision is not subject to review.' Praise be to freedom of speech!" RT says the bank gave no explanation for its decision."

Jon Schwarz, "D.C. Hivemind Mulls How Clinton Can Pass Huge Corporate Tax Cut: Treating the whole voting thing as a formality, serious political players are now pondering how exactly President Hillary Clinton can pass what Sen. Elizabeth Warren has called 'a giant wet kiss for tax dodgers.' This discussion isn't happening on television, where normal people would hear about it. Or on Reddit, where people would freak out about it. To the degree it's taking place in public at all, it surfaces in elite publications, where only elites are paying attention. For instance, Peter Orszag, a top Obama economic official before he left to cash in with Citigroup, just wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times on how to make the wet kiss happen."

The Nation, "Amy Goodman Is Facing Prison for Reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline. That Should Scare Us All. e charges against Goodman are a clear attack on journalism and freedom of the press. [...] Goodman's report created a rare crack in the consensus of silence. And, as Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi writes, the outrage it generated may well have influenced the Obama administration's decision to halt work on the pipeline several days later. This was journalism that mattered. Yet, on September 8, Goodman received the news that Morton County, North Dakota, had issued a warrant for her arrest. The charge: riot, a misdemeanor punishable by jail time and a fine. (It should be noted that the original charge leveled against Goodman was not riot but criminal trespass, also a misdemeanor. However, just days before Goodman was set to appear in court, the prosecutor, Ladd Erickson, switched up the charges because, he admitted in an email to Goodman's lawyer, Tom Dickson, there were 'legal issues with proving the notice of trespassing requirements in the statute.') When asked to explain the grounds for arresting a working journalist, Erickson told the Grand Forks Herald that he did not, in fact, consider Goodman a journalist."
* Matt Taibbi, "Journalist Amy Goodman Shouldn't Be Arrested for Covering Dakota Pipeline Story: [...] But a prosecutor who arrests a reporter because he doesn't think she's "balanced" enough is basically telling future reporters what needs to be in their stories to avoid arrest. This is totally improper and un-American. We have enough meddling editors in this country without also recruiting government officials to the job. "
* "Documentary Filmmaker Faces Up to 45 Years in Prison for Covering Pipeline Protest." Edward Snowden tweeted this story, saying, "This reporter is being prosecuted for covering the North Dakota oil protests. For reference, I face a mere 30 years."
* Luckily... "Judge Rejects "Riot" Charges Against Amy Goodman in North Dakota."

It's not just black Kenyan Muslim presidents: "McCain: GOPers Will Unite To Block 'Any' Clinton SCOTUS Nominee." She's hardly nearing the end of her term, either. They can do this without ever going on the record, simply by continuing not to bring votes on nominees to the floor. Then you can never say, "He voted against Garland." Which is protection for office-holders on both sides who don't want to let anyone know where they really stand. As in, "He voted against Roberts," when he first made sure there was no filibuster of a nomination he knew would pass if it got to the floor, versus, "He never voted for Garland."

"Excerpts of Hillary Clinton's Paid Speeches to Goldman Sachs Finally Leaked - And if you expected her to sound more in tune with Wall Street than with all those kids who live in their parents' basements (do they? Maybe in some households, but my parents didn't make me vacate my room on graduation), well, you won't be surprised. One gets the impression that, while she thinks she can understand why those kids are so upset, she doesn't actually concur with their entirely sane recognition that it doesn't have to be this way - I mean, gosh, it's too bad for them, but it's just the way it is.
* David Sirota, "Hillary Clinton, In Paid Speeches To Wall Street, Promoted Commission That Pushed Social Security Cuts [...] In the email published by Wikileaks, Clinton tells a real estate industry trade association that she believes that as a public official, 'You need both a public and a private position' on major issues. Clinton promised on the campaign trail that she would oppose the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership, and that she 'will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages.' But in the email released by Wikileaks, she is shown telling a Brazilian bank that, 'My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.' She also is quoted saying: 'We have to resist protectionism, other kinds of barriers to market access and to trade and I would like to see this get much more attention and be not just a policy for a year under president X or president Y but a consistent one.' Clinton on the campaign trail declared, 'I won't cut Social Security.' Yet in the email's excerpts of her Morgan Stanley speech, she lauded a presidential commission that proposed changes that would slash Social Security benefits, according to experts. The email shows Clinton specifically telling Morgan Stanley that the Simpson-Bowles commission 'put forth the right framework' for dealing with fiscal challenges. She also said 'the Simpson-Bowles framework and the big elements of it were right.' As the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported in 2011, that commission proposed a plan to 'cut benefits for the vast majority of Social Security recipients, weaken the link between a recipient's benefits and past earnings (which could undermine public support for the program), and, despite the claims of the co-chairs, fail to protect most low-income workers from benefit cuts.'"
* David Dayen, "Behind Closed Doors, Hillary Clinton Sympathized With Goldman Sachs Over Financial Reform [...] Far from chiding Goldman Sachs for obstructing Democratic proposals for financial reform, Clinton appeared to sympathize with the giant investment bank. At a Goldman Sachs Alternative Investments Symposium in October 2013, Clinton almost apologized for the Dodd-Frank reform bill, explaining that it had to pass 'for political reasons,' because 'if you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it's all the fault of Wall Street, you can't sit idly by and do nothing.'"
* "New Email Leak Reveals Clinton Campaign's Cozy Press Relationship" - Glenn says this is just a glimpse into how political campaigns operate rather than some surprising exposé of nefarious doings, but considering the way the narrative became filled with spurious smears of Sanders and his supporters that came straight from the Clinton campaign, it's that much more of a bitter reminder that they pretty much kept the establishment press thoroughly in the bag for The One True Candidate all along.

People who get all their information from Clinton campaign emails keep insisting that the restricted number of debates DWS set up were not evidence that the DNC was working to aid Clinton's campaign and rig the primaries against Sanders, but the email that says it all right up front makes it clear: "Through internal discussions, we concluded that it was in our interest to: 1) limit the number of debates (and the number in each state); 2) start the debates as late as possible; 3) keep debates out of the busy window between February 1 and February 27, 2016 (Iowa to South Carolina); 4) create a schedule that would allow the later debates to be cancelled if the race is for practical purposes over; 5) encourage an emphasis on local issues and local media participants in the debate formats; and 6) ensure a format that provides equal time for all candidates and does not give the moderator any discretion to focus on one candidate."

Nice precis in "Roaming Charges: a Wikileak is a Terrible Thing to Waste [...] The three prevailing obsessions of the Podesta emails: raising money, containing the contamination of the Clinton Foundation and screwing Bernie Sanders. There's barely any hint of anxiety over Trump. In fact, they relish his every false move, almost as if each faltering step had been pre-visualized, if not orchestrated. If possible, the press corps comes off worse than Team Clinton. Almost every reporter is revealed as pliable, servile and so lazy that they basically beg the Clinton PR shop to write their stories for them. The press has reiterated this obsequiousness over the course of the last seven days with what can only be described as an orgy of coverage of the Trump sex tapes and assorted scandals. By all accounts, the Trump campaign is dead and has been for weeks. The 24/7 obsession now amounts to a kind of political corpse abuse. Forsaken in this feeding frenzy has been any serious attention at all to the Wikileaks email dump, except to echo Clinton camp assertions that they were the victims of a Russian plot to tilt the election to Trump. If so, the Russians have proved even more incompetent than we thought them to be." (And comments on other news, as well.)

"Wikileaks: Letter to Tulsi Gabbard in February - 'Hillary will be our party's nominee'." This is, you understand, before anyone had voted yet - it was foreordained that Clinton would be the nominee, and Gabbard wanted someone else, so the party was refusing to help her in her own election bid. Nasty stuff.

Despite the fact that Clinton herself confirmed the authenticity of the leaked emails when she explained their contents in response to questions at the second debate between Clinton and Trump, David Brock's Daily News Bin has been pushing back with fanciful stories about how the emails are fake and come from the Russians. Then the government spook agencies got into the act, which of course led to Marcy Wheeler unpacking the language to work out what it means, and what it means is that they still have no way whatsoever to tie these particular leaks to actual Russian hackers. Yes, the Russians have been hacking all over the place, but no, there's no evidence that the material posted at DCLeaks and WikiLeaks came from the Russians, let alone the fanciful idea that all hacking and leaking could only have occurred at the command of Putin.

A connected meme is that it's terrible for the Russians to be trying to influence or otherwise interfere with American elections. Even if we forget that politicians taking campaign donations from foreign entities is exactly that and goes on constantly - and illegally - it might be a good idea to recall The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere.

Another talking point meant to undermine WikiLeaks is the question of why Assange isn't releasing hacks of the RNC and Donald Trump. We know that Assange is pissed off with Clinton, who has been a cheerleader for the notion that Assange should be shut up permanently, preferably in a deep, dark hole, but WikiLeaks doesn't commission leaks, it just receives them. They're not responsible for the fact that no one has sent them data about Trump or the GOP. But isn't it a funny question? This blog has about 15 years worth of scandals by Republicans that involve quite serious criminal as well as immoral activity, and the Democratic Party, the DoJ, the White House, and law enforcement in general, not to mention the TV talking heads, all seem to be completely uninterested. So what are these hacks supposed to reveal? Are they going to find out Trump is a crass, racist, sexist, tax-evading right-wing loon? Yeah, that'll surprise people!

Understand, there is no evidence that the Russians are behind the emails, but Clinton campers really urgently want you to think so. For some reason they believe it invalidates the contents, but it is also part of the rhetoric that the neocon warriors have been floating against Russia in their current revival of red-baiting. Yeah, the Russians are coming.

Of course, the whole Russian thing, aside from being a modern commies-under-the-bed propaganda campaign, is really just about distracting from the contents of the emails. By which I do not mean mere confirmation of the illicit relationship between the Clinton campaign in the primaries and the DNC itself, but things like "Clinton Email Shows US Sought Syria Regime Change for Israel's Sake ."

Video: Glenn Greenwald on Reliable Sources about WikiLeaks and media

Democratic partisans think they're seeing the GOP falling apart. It may be fun to think so, but let Ian Welsh spell it out for you. "The Republican Party Is Not 'Broken': There are a great number of stories about how Trump is 'destroying' the Republican party.
Bullshit.
That Trump is most likely to lose the Presidency badly does not make the Republican party broken. There is some down-ballot effect, but:
* Republicans will certainly hold the House;
* Republicans will still control majority of State Governorships; and,
* They might lose the Senate but if they do it will be barely.
Does that sound like a broken party? No, it sounds like a largely ordinary election result: in fact, in 2008, the Republicans did far worse.
There will be blow-on effects from the Trump candidacy, but they will no more 'destroy' the Republican Party than the Tea Party did.
"

I can't help wondering if Joe is feigning surprise in this segment where he appears to be learning for the first time that the government can't negotiate drug prices. I wonder this, because it was big news at the time and we were all bitching about it and startled that the Republicans finally gave in and voted for it. I say "gave in" because even though, yes, some of them were happy to do Big Pharma's bidding, a lot of them balked and they had to hold voting up late into the night and blackmail their own members into voting for it. I realize he was always a Republican operative, in or out of Congress, but he didn't notice? (Thanks to CMike for supplying better links than the one I was going to use, complete with transcriptions.)

This is a very good interview of Geoffrey Nunberg by Angie Coiro about the language that's being used in this election.

Chris Hedges and David Cay Johnston on a tax system rigged for the rich

From bmaz, "Trump Is Who He's Always Been, And Trump Is the Epitome of the GOP; They Have To Own Him." And they're having a hard time with it. A variety of Bushes and the McCains have already declared they won't vote for him, while Paul Ryan and others are steadfastly biting their lips together. Many establishment Republicans are saying they'll vote for Clinton, others are saying they simply won't vote for president (or at all!). Officially, the Republican Party is still "100% behind Trump", but the religious right is split between being outraged at how this man should never be president and believing that Trump's vulgar impropriety, misogyny and licentiousness were all part of God's plan to propel him to the White House.

From Facebook, Matt Stoller defines neoliberalism: "Our current governing apparatus is neoliberal. What does that actually mean? What is neoliberalism? Neoliberalism is a kind of statecraft. It means organizing state policies by making them appear as if they are the consequences of depoliticized financial markets. It involves moving power from public institutions to private institutions, and allowing governance to happen through concentrated financial power. Actual open markets for goods and services tend to disappear in neoliberal societies. Financial markets flourish, real markets morph into mass distribution middlemen like Walmart or Amazon. This definition is my paraphrase of Greta Krippner's "Capitalizing on Crisis", a pretty good book about what happened from the 1960s to the 1980s in terms of financial politics. Her thesis is that the liberal democratic system was dismantled because it was too explicit about who was making choices. People would get mad at politicians when they didn't have, say, mortgage credit, or when the price of milk went up too high. The answer came to be neoliberalism, or creating a veil of financial markets to make all those decisions seem apolitical. Milk too expensive? Ah, those darn markets. Sure you can get mortgage credit, but market is going to charge you 19%. Can't afford that? Oh those darn financial markets. Neoliberalism is not faith in free markets. Neoliberalism is not free market capitalism. Neoliberalism is a specific form of statecraft that uses financial markets as a veil to disguise governing policies."

John Pilger isn't so sure the CW is correct. He says Hillary Clinton is more dangerous than Donald Trump. "A mini nuclear bomb is planned. It is known as the B61 Model 12. There has never been anything like it. General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, 'Going smaller [makes using this nuclear] weapon more thinkable.' In the last eighteen months, the greatest build-up of military forces since World War Two - led by the United States - is taking place along Russia's western frontier. Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia. Ukraine - once part of the Soviet Union - has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that is next door and hostile to Russia: a regime rotten with Nazis, literally. Prominent parliamentary figures in Ukraine are the political descendants of the notorious OUN and UPA fascists. They openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian speaking minority. This is seldom news in the West, or it is inverted to suppress the truth. In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - next door to Russia - the US military is deploying combat troops, tanks, heavy weapons. This extreme provocation of the world's second nuclear power is met with silence in the West." And then there's China, and no sign from Clinton that she is the least bit worried by these developments. Indeed, quite the reverse.

Chris Hedges, "Donald Trump: The Dress Rehearsal for Fascism [...] The political elites in Yugoslavia at first thought the nationalist cranks and lunatics, who amassed enough support to be given secondary positions of power, could be contained. This mistake was as misguided as Franz von Papen's assurances that when the uncouth Austrian Adolf Hitler was appointed the German chancellor in January 1933 the Nazi leader would be easily manipulated. Any system of prolonged political paralysis and failed liberalism vomits up monsters. And the longer we remain in a state of political paralysis - especially as we stumble toward another financial collapse - the more certain it becomes that these monsters will take power."

"House of Lords attacks the government over library closures: John Bird painted a grim picture of the UK with a reduced library service, warning the House of Lords on Thursday that cuts would result in 'disorder, crime, problems for schools and the fact that children will not be able to get a job because they will not have the skills and abilities'."

Richard J. Eskow, "'Two Million Felonies': Will The Wells Fargo Scandal Finally Change Wall Street?" I don't see why, since HSBC got away with everything.

Fred on Everything, "An Obsolescent Military: Bombing Everything, Gaining Nothing: What, precisely, is the US military for, and what, precisely, can it do? In practical terms, how powerful is it? On paper, it is formidable, huge, with carrier battle groups, advanced technology, remarkable submarines, satellites, and so on. What does this translate to?"

"2016 Nobel Prize In Literature Awarded To Bob Dylan: STOCKHOLM, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his influential songs from the 1960s onwards, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature in a surprise decision that made him the only singer-songwriter to win the award. The 75-year-old Dylan - who won the prize for 'having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition' - now finds himself in the company of Winston Churchill, Thomas Mann and Rudyard Kipling as Nobel laureates. The announcement was met with gasps in Stockholm's stately Royal Academy hall, followed - unusually - by some laughter."

"The Onion Is Withholding Our Endorsement For President Until Both Candidates Respond To Our Questionnaire "

Our friend Mark of Adult Video News was amused to see The New York Times, at long last, breaking their style code to accurately report a story. They got complaints.

In The New Yorker, a long profile, "Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker: At eighty-two, the troubadour has another album coming. Like him, it is obsessed with mortality, God-infused, and funny." I was more affected then I expected to be over the news therein that Marianne had died last summer - which I had missed at the time - with a friend holding her hand and humming "Bird on the Wire". So long, Marianne. Nice discussion with Dylan of Cohen's work, too.

"Watching This Rare Color Film Of London In 1927 Makes You Feel Like You're There."

"This Mosque Might Look Ordinary From Outside, But It Will Make Your Jaw Drop Once You Enter It."

Something about these color-coordinated dancing Sikhs makes me smile.

Production trailer for Fury in My Soul: The Artistry of Laura Nyro

I loved the Amazon blurb for Is There Life Outside The Box?: An Actor Despairs by Peter Davidson, the Fifth Doctor. Not sure if he wrote it or it's just Tennant's foreword or something else, but it was fun to read.

Mr. Sideshow enjoyed this Halloween costume he saw on the front page of the Evening Standard.

Video: 1984 Nebula Awards Full

"Larry Kane: The reluctant Beatles fan. [...] Kane tried to persuade his bosses to send instead one of the DJs already into the band. 'There were all the Cuban refugees in Miami. There was war in Vietnam escalating and racial revolution in America - why would we bother about an English band who would doubtless disappear in a few months?' But in December 1964 Kane found himself at the first venue on the tour - the Cow Palace in Daly City, California."

We all live in a Lego submarine.

Big Bang Theory Legos

Max Fleischer nominates Betty Boop for President.

The Beatles: On Air -- Live at the BBC

01:36 GMT comment


Sunday, 09 October 2016

You've got to pick up every stitch

Transcripts of the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Dainty Donnie Trump. A big topic of the Twittosphere: Why was Trump sniffing so much?

There was a vice presidential debate that I could not bring myself to watch, but as I understand it, two white bread guys flapped at each other. I didn't expect Kaine to tell much truth and I didn't expect Pence to do anything but lie, and from all reports, that's mostly what happened. Ryan Grim and Sam Seder did what might be a useful debate recap that was probably smarter than most of the articles I read about, though. Short version: Kaine's job was to get a few lines out there uninterrupted that could be used in video ads later, and to keep Pence from doing the same. I guess he did that.

"'So what?': In 1984, Bush official celebrated impotence of post-debate factchecking: Just before the 1984 election, Peter Teeley, the press secretary for then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, told the New York Times, 'You can say anything you want during a debate and 80 million people hear it.' If the media documents afterwards that what the candidate said was false, said Teely, 'So what?... Maybe 200 people read it or 2,000 or 20,000.'"

It sounds like some members of the anti-Corbyn wing of Labour are starting to realize they are doing real damage to their party and it has to stop. Even the Guardian is starting to post articles to this effect, after abusing Corbyn all year. With even Gordon Brown making the call, that leaves Tony Blair as the major outlier. Of course, much of this is along the lines of "rejoin his government and get back on the bench before those seats get filled by more Corbyn-minded types," and "Corbyn needs to compromise like hell and not get rid of people who have consistently been trying to undermine him," but it's a start, I suppose. Anyway, they tried it on again and failed even worse than they did last time, and it's not like they have much choice.
* "The Guardian view on the Labour leadership: wanted - tolerance and compromise"
* "Labour faces terminal damage if fighting goes on, warns Andy Burnham"
* "Corbyn Wins Challenge From The U.K.'s Version Of The Blue Dogs And New Dems-- The Conservative Wing Of The Labour Party.: Today, Jeremy Corbyn's 62% win was bigger than his original victory as leader of Britain's Labour Party-- 313,209 to 193,229 votes-- much to the chagrin of the establishment conservatives (and their media allies) who hold the progressive Corbyn in contempt and view him with disdain and hatred."
* But somehow Mr. Corbyn doesn't think keeping a cabinet full of enemies at his back is a prudent idea.
* I'm pleased to see Mark Steel weigh in on the subject: "The Labour plotters are right: it's definitely Jeremy Corbyn who needs to 'learn lessons' from the last few months: The plotters made an important point: that Corbyn must 'reach out'. Instead of being divisive, as he was last time by offering them jobs in the shadow cabinet from which they resigned, he should let them pick their own jobs, and if they don't fancy doing them one day, let them bring in games."

Not quite sure how long we've been waiting for something like this to happen - "Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended for rest of term: Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended from the bench for telling probate judges to defy federal orders regarding gay marriage. It's the second time Moore has been removed from the chief justice job for defiance of federal courts - the first time in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building."

"Entire Police Department Just 'Accidentally' Deleted Massive Chunk of Body Camera Video."

No surprises here: "US police abused database access to stalk innocent people - report: Police across the US have been abusing confidential law enforcement databases to stalk romantic partners, landlords, journalists or neighbors who had no connection to actual police investigations, a report has revealed. An Associated Press probe into abuses of the federal and state crime databases has revealed numerous cases of law enforcement checking information on people for personal reasons - whether romantic quarrels, personal conflicts, or voyeuristic curiosity. In a handful of cases, officers were caught using the information to stalk or harass people, while one former New York cop even sold information to private investigators."

"Opiates Are a National Epidemic. Enter the Opioid Lobby: The epidemic is nationwide. The crisis is nationwide. The corporate pushback to develop a policy that looks good and doesn't do something about the problem that cuts into corporate profits also is nationwide."

"Haymarket time capsule uncovered, still unopened: History is being uncovered near the Haymarket Martyrs Monument in Forest Home Cemetery. A large team of volunteers worked to recover a time capsule that was buried near the monument over a hundred years ago. Despite adverse weather conditions over the weekend, they made remarkable progress, finding a cube, believed to contain the ashes of Haymarket martyr, Oscar Neebe. Beneath this, they discovered a cylinder that appears to be the time capsule. It was removed late Monday afternoon. This discovery caps over two years of effort on the part of local residents and archeological experts. Researchers Mark Rogovin, a labor historian, and Bleue Benton, an Oak Park Public Library research librarian, first found mention of the capsule in a Chicago Tribune article from Nov. 7, 1892. It describes a capsule being ceremonially buried under the cornerstone of the monument. A speaker at the ceremony stated, 'When generations to come dig up these records and read them, they will wonder that such barbarity could have been tolerated in the 19th century.'"

"Why This Activist Hacker Is Launching A Hunger Strike In Jail: Martin Gottesfeld, an activist jailed on charges stemming from a politically motivated cyberattack on Boston Children's Hospital, said he'll begin a hunger strike on Oct. 3 to bring attention to what he says is widespread mistreatment of children. In a message published exclusively on HuffPost last week, Gottesfeld said he took out the hospital's internet in the spring of 2014 to protest the controversial treatment of teenager Justina Pelletier and to protest the 'troubled teen industry' more broadly."

"Before Firing at a Palestinian, the Israeli Sniper Asked: Where Do You Want to Be Shot?"

"U.S. Admits Israel Is Building Permanent Apartheid Regime - Weeks After Giving It $38 Billion: In 2010, Israel's then-defense minister, Ehud Barak, explicitly warned that Israel would become a permanent 'apartheid' state if it failed to reach a peace agreement with Palestinians that creates their own sovereign nation and vests them with full political rights. 'As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel, it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic,' Barak said. 'If this bloc of millions of ­Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.' Honest observers on both sides of the conflict have long acknowledged that the prospects for a two-state solution are virtually non-existent: another way of saying that Israel's status as a permanent apartheid regime is inevitable. Indeed, U.S. intelligence agencies as early as 45 years ago explicitly warned that Israeli occupation would become permanent if it did not end quickly. All relevant evidence makes clear this is what has happened. [...] This week, with its fresh new $38 billion commitment in hand, the Israeli government announced the approval of an all new settlement in the West Bank, one that is particularly hostile to ostensible U.S. policy, the international consensus, and any prospects for an end to occupation. The new settlement, 'one of a string of housing complexes that threaten to bisect the West Bank,' as the New York Times put it this morning, 'is designed to house settlers from a nearby illegal outpost, Amona, which an Israeli court has ordered demolished.' This new settlement extends far into the West Bank: closer to Jordan, in fact, than to Israel. In response to this announcement, the U.S. State Department yesterday issued an unusually harsh denunciation of Israel's actions. 'We strongly condemn the Israeli government's recent decision to advance a plan that would create a significant new settlement deep in the West Bank,' it began. It suggested Netanyahu has been publicly lying, noting that the 'approval contradicts previous public statements by the government of Israel that it had no intention of creating new settlements.'"

"Yes, Monsanto Actually DID Buy the BLACKWATER Mercenary Group!: Reports that the huge multinational corporation Monsanto bought the largest mercenary army in the world might have seemed ridiculous on the surface. But it turns out that's exactly what happened. A report authored by Jeremy Scahill for The Nation revealed that Blackwater, later called Xe Services and more recently 'Academi', had been sold to Monsanto."

"Cerberus Uses Private Equity Looting Strategy With Scandal-Ridden Steward Health Care Hospitals [...] After Steward consolidated, operational misadventures began. In 2013, it closed the pediatric unit at Morton Hospital (look here). In 2014, it closed Quincy Hospital, despite promises that it would expand health care services, and specifically not close that hospital so quickly (look here). Starting in 2014, Steward stonewalled state requests to disclose financial data as required by state regulations after the private equity takeover (look here). In 2016, Steward continued to withhold financial data (look here), and closed the short-lived family medicine residency program at Carney Hospital, amidst complaints by the residents about poor organization, and inadequate numbers of faculty (look here).

"Former CIA Detainees Describe Previously Unknown Torture Tactic: A Makeshift Electric Chair: Two former CIA captives recently described being threatened with a makeshift electric chair - a previously unreported torture method - while being held in the U.S. government's infamous 'Salt Pit' prison in Afghanistan."

Now, this is an interesting development. "Congress votes to override Obama for first time: Congress voted Wednesday to override President Obama for the first time in his eight-year tenure, as the House followed the Senate in rejecting a veto of legislation allowing families of terrorist victims to sue governments suspected of sponsoring terrorism. The House easily cleared the two-thirds threshold to push back against the veto. The final tally was 348-77, with 18 Republicans and 59 Democrats voting not to override the veto. The Senate voted 97-1 in favor of the override earlier in the day, with only Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voting to sustain the president's veto. Given that Obama's argument is that people we bomb might sue the United States, it's rather astonishing that this Congress actually shot him down. The White House said, "I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983." Many people think it's the most sensible thing they've done for quite a while. But think about that headline - for the first time ever. The obstructionist Republicans have never before overridden a Obama veto. I wonder if any of his apologists saw that headline and thought, "Oh. How come?"
* Elsewhere, opinions differ: "White House Is Profoundly Wrong About the Most Embarrassing Thing Senate Has Done."
* But anyway, the very next day, the Republicans complained that the president had not properly apprised them of the "downside" that Obama had been claiming was the downside in all the media, so it's all his fault they overrode his veto. Yes, "Day After Rejecting Veto, Congressional Leaders Concerned About 9/11 Law: House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress might have to 'fix' the legislation to protect U.S. service members in particular." Of course, the legislation itself is such weak tea that it takes very little for the government to stop any lawsuits it doesn't happen to like.

"Big Data Exposes How Politically Connected Traders Cashed In During the Financial Crisis [...] The findings emerged as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, is demanding a formal investigation of why the Obama administration did not more forcefully prosecute financial firms after the crisis."

"Pro-Fracking Law Ruled Unconstitutional by Pennsylvania Supreme Court: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the state's controversial Act 13 is unconstitutional, calling it a special law that benefits the shale gas industry. The massive Marcellus Shale formation, which underlies a large area of Western Pennsylvania, provides more than 36 percent of the shale gas produced in the U.S. ...] The Pennsylvania State Legislature passed Act 13 in 2012 and it was almost immediately challenged by seven of the state's municipalities along with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and a private physician. The onerous law enabled natural gas companies to seize privately owned subsurface property through eminent domain, placed a gag order on health professionals to prevent them from getting information on drilling chemicals that could harm their patients, and limited notification of spills and leaks to public water suppliers, excluding owners of private wells that supply drinking water for 25 percent of Pennsylvania residents. Act 13 also pre-empted municipal zoning of oil and gas development."

"Bill Clinton slams ObamaCare as 'craziest thing in the world'" - I wonder how people hearing this actually parsed it. It's not terribly coherent.

Deplorable: "Obama enlists Republican Kasich to push for TPP trade deal [...] The unlikely partnership comes as the White House makes a final full-court push to persuade Republican congressional leaders to approve the deal in a "lame duck" session after the Nov. 8 election. Both Republican and Democratic candidates have pilloried the TPP."

"McConnell threatens shutdown to keep corporate political spending secret." On both the left and the right, people are outraged at the way corporate political spending is corrupting government, and Congress is determined to prove they are right to be outraged about it.

Corey Robin, "When a Worker Freezes to Death in a Walk-In Freezer at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Downtown Atlanta" - You know, it shouldn't be hard to design freezers that don't latch. It's what I've got on my fridge, and it's hardly as if the dead meat is going to try to escape.

"Just how bad is voter suppression in Wisconsin?" Ari Berman talked to Mike Signorile about how it works.

Elizabeth Warren Just Gave Hillary Clinton a Big Warning: Senator Elizabeth Warren fired an unmistakable warning shot to Hillary Clinton and her advisers on Wednesday, cautioning against appointing cabinet or administration members who are linked to Wall Street while name-checking a firm closely tied to Clinton and the Democratic Party."
* Warren, invoking Clinton, demands FBI explain failure to charge bankers: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is trying to leverage the FBI's unusual embrace of transparency around Hillary Clinton's email investigation as a means to get answers about why more banking executives were not punished after the 2008 financial crisis."

This is a fairly good news discussion show, with some illuminating analysis of what the Democrats are really up to - "What Clinton Really Thinks About Progressives: On this episode of "By Any Means Necessary" host Eugene Puryear is joined by Marcus Farrell, political strategist, organizer and former African American Outreach Director for Bernie Sanders and Ben Norton, columnist with Salon.com to talk about the recently leaked audio of Clinton discussing Sanders' supporters that gave them all the more reason not to support her candidacy. The group also discusses the implications of a Clinton presidency on the American progressive movement and why Trump supporters couldn't care less if he has ever paid taxes."

"Hyde Is What Happens When Left Fakes Right: Today, we mark 40 years of the Hyde Amendment. This law banning federal money from funding abortion has been renewed through administrations Democratic and Republican. Beyond hindering access to abortion, Hyde encapsulates what happens when Left fakes Right and unwittingly undermines its own aims." I'm not sure there's much illumination in the essay, but Democrats let this happen as surely as the right-wing pushed for it. It's time to end it.

"If Clinton Beats Trump 60-40%, The DCCC Would Still Fail To Take Back The House-- And Anyone Who Tells You Differently, While Asking You For A Donation...
* "A Quick Senate Scorecard" - from Gaius Publius, a rundown on how Chuck Schumer is screwing Democrats' chances of taking back the Senate. "Schumer has succeeded in sabotaging every race he has tried to sabotage" - so Gaius figures he will succeed in doing that in Alaska, but if he fails, we could take that seat, which is apparently just what Schumer is afraid of. (By "we", in this case, I mean someone who doesn't have a history of being corrupt.) He already succeeded in sabotaging the Florida Senate seat, paving the way for Patrick Murphy to take the nomination and thus lose the contest.

As The General put it, "Skeletor makes his pick" - remember, this guy was George W. Bush's Homeland Security chief: "Former Whitewater investigator Michael Chertoff backs Hillary Clinton."

"Donald Trump is going to win, says professor who has correctly predicted the last 8 elections - He uses 13 non-ideological True/False questions to assess the likelihood of the party in power winning re-election. They look like pretty good questions. But I still don't know who is actually going to win. This is a strange election, and the FSM knows the Dems are doing a great job of finding ways to lose it, but then, so is Trump.

William Greider in The Nation, "Whom Should We Blame for Our Deranged Democracy?: Laying it all on Trump is too easy -both political parties are out of touch and distant from the people. [...] The leaders of both parties may be betting that the Trump upheaval will be defeated in November, then lose energy and fade away afterward, so politics can get back to 'normal.' For lots of reasons, I think this is delusional. Regardless of who wins this year and what happens to Trump, the political instability will continue because it reflects seismic shifts under way in the American condition." I normally love what Greider writes, but when I got to the end of this article I realized he never really answered the question in the title.

"If You're a Democrat Bashing Bernie Voters, You're Supporting Trump [...] The argument I have just made is, of course, absurd. But it follows from the logic being advanced by many Democrats, which is that by criticizing Hillary Clinton, one supports Donald Trump, since criticism of Clinton makes people less likely to vote for her. Clinton-supporting pundit Bob Cesca has gone so far as to say that 'any attack on Hillary must be taken as tacit support for Trump.' Others, like Paul Krugman, imply that any journalism that puts Clinton in a negative light deliberately provides aid and comfort to the Trump campaign."

"Clinton hasn't won over millennials. And no, sexism isn't to blame: Obama said that her struggles in the polls are due to bias. But for younger voters, our hesitance is about policy - not gender."
* "Unlike Their Parents, Black Millennials Aren't A Lock For Clinton."
* "Among Democrats, deep concern about Clinton's Hispanic strategy."

Oh, Lord, do they hear themselves? "Hillary Clinton: My Plan for Helping America's Poor"

"Inside Hillary Clinton's Outrage Machine, Allies Push the Buttons."

"Maybe Hillary Clinton Shouldn't Spend So Much Time Pursuing Republican Voters."

The American Prospect, "Why Millennials Don't Like Clinton - And What She Can Do About It: Hillary Clinton's support from millennial voters has dropped sharply since August, a problem that she needs to address even more aggressively to hold onto this key bloc of voters."

Strangely, there's a good piece by Emmett Rensin in Newsweek, of all places, "This Is Hillary Clinton's Millennial 'Problem': It is possible, just possible, that political choices meaningfully reflect political preferences. [...] Here is my own wild take on why millennials don't support Clinton 'enough': Many younger American voters, perhaps a sufficient number of them to seriously imperil Clinton's chances, have significant ideological differences with the candidate. That's my theory. Many liberal pundits seem unimpressed by this idea perhaps because it suggests that votes must be earned in a democracy, but it does have the benefit of the evidence. The liberal punditry might be forgiven for underestimating the depth and seriousness of these differences had these young people not voted overwhelmingly and across all other demographic lines for a different candidate. The Clinton campaign might be forgiven for imagining these voters would 'come home' had it not spent the weeks since the Democratic Convention fundraising and playing Bush administration endorsement bingo. The trouble is not that young people are insufficiently familiar with the neoconservative horror show of their own childhoods. The trouble is that the candidate they are meant to support does not appear to find that show particularly horrifying."

Sam Seder has been arguing a lot lately with Jimmy Dore about voting for Hillary. Sam says if you're in a swing state, you need to vote to stop Trump. Jimmy disagrees. The arguments are lively and entertaining, although I don't know if they change anyone's mind. But just for the record, you might want to bookmark The Jimmy Dore Show page, 'cause no matter where you fall on this particular argument, Jimmy does say some pretty smart things.
* And here's a more concise Progressive Case for a Non-Progressive Candidate. (And down in the ensuing thread, I found this video on How to Fix America's Corrupt Political System, which was a relief to see since it's been obvious for a long time that Citizens United isn't really the issue.)

I admit to being bored with complaints about the Democratic convention, but I was surprised by some of the things in this video that I hadn't realized they'd done.

Hillbots keep accusing Glenn Greenwald of being pro-Trump because he dares to criticize Hillary, so he made up a little compendium of evidence to the contrary.

Links from commenter CMike, "Out of Prison, Out of Work" About 7 million American men of prime working age (25 through 54) are not in the labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means they don't have a paid job and haven't been actively looking for one. This figure does not include those in jail or prison. It does include students and men staying home to take care of children or other family members -- but, as Nicholas Eberstadt estimates in his important new book, "Men Without Work," these two categories seem to account for less than 15 percent of what he calls the NILFs (for not in labor force). And the NILF share of the U.S. prime-age male population has been growing and growing.
* Chris Hedges, "The Prison State of America: Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society. States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners with essential items including shoes, extra blankets and even toilet paper, while starting to charge them for electricity and room and board. Most prisoners and the families that struggle to support them are chronically short of money. Prisons are company towns. Scrip, rather than money, was once paid to coal miners, and it could be used only at the company store. Prisoners are in a similar condition. When they go broke - and being broke is a frequent occurrence in prison - prisoners must take out prison loans to pay for medications, legal and medical fees and basic commissary items such as soap and deodorant. Debt peonage inside prison is as prevalent as it is outside prison."

Dean Baker, though, says that, while the post-incarceration unemployment situation is a real problem, "it just cannot explain the larger falloff in employment rates over the last 15 years."
* Also, "NYT Devotes Room for Debate Segment to Dealing with Defense from Martians: At a time when we are seeing the slowest productivity growth on record the NYT decided to devote a Room for Debate section to the question of how we will deal with surging productivity (called "automation" in the description). Blaming the problems of high unemployment and low wages on automation has certain attractive features. It makes our major social problems the result of the development of technology rather than bad economic policy. This is a longer topic (yes, it will be addressed in my forthcoming book), but let's just say that it is not only Donald Trump's supporters who have a tenuous grip on reality."
* And, "NYT Pulls Out the Stops in Pushing NAFTA: The NYT is bending over backwards to promote the protectionist pattern of trade policies of recent presidents. Yes folks, it is protectionist even if they call them "free trade" deals. Patent and copyright protection are protectionism, even if your friends benefit from them. And when we spend an extra $100 billion a year on doctors, compared with pay in Canada and Western Europe, because doctors who don't complete a U.S. residency program are not allowed to practice in the United States, that is protectionism."
* Plus, "Why Don't Directors Want to Clawback Pay from Corrupt CEOs? Gretchen Morgenson had an interesting piece pointing out that it is rare that corporate boards ever clawback substantial sums from CEOs involved in illegal or inappropriate activity. (The immediate context is the clawback of some future performance pay from Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf.) The issue, as Morgenson presents it, is that boards don't generally do clawbacks except where it is legally required."

"Do Not Resist: new film shows how US police have become an occupying army: Craig Atkinson's documentary about police militarization in America asks an important question: how did we get here? Craig Atkinson's documentary about police militarization, Do Not Resist, is filled with unsettling scenes like the one where a Swat team destroys a family's home during a drug raid that nets small amounts of loose marijuana. But the most disturbing scene transpires during the relative placidity of a seminar when a hugely successful lecturer tells a room full of police officers: 'We are at war and you are the frontline. What do you fight violence with? Superior violence. Righteous violence. Violence is your tool ... You are men and women of violence.'"

David Dayen has completed all seven parts now of The Penny Stock Chronicles.

Will Shetterly has a good post up at it's all one thing clarifying the relationship between police violence and class, "Why #BlackLivesMatter should be #PoorLivesMatter now with graphics: A casual glance shows police killings are racially disproportionate to our population - though black people are 13.3% of the US, 25% of people killed by the police are black. But that hides another fact: Police killings are racially proportionate to America's poor. Which makes sense - though there are exceptions from all races, most people killed by the police are poor. [...] The racial list of who is most likely to be killed lines up with racial household income: Native Americans are poorest, followed by blacks, then Hispanics, then non-Hispanic whites, then Asian Americans, who have higher incomes than white Americans. The basic rule for police killings: the richer the group, the less likely its members will be killed by police."

Katie Halper's interview with Glenn Greenwald on Clinton supporters, the Edward Snowden playlist & the afterlife was fun.

"Brooks Brothers Riot: Blame elites for the far right's rise."

"Weimar America: Four major ways we're following in Germany's fascist footsteps"

Monty Python's Terry Jones diagnosed with dementia.

RIP: Terence Bayler, at 86. More sad Pythhon-related news. He had two memorable lines in Life of Brian (both ad libs), and also appeared in The Rutles, Time Bandits and Brazil, as well as numerous other credits, including Doctor Who and much non-genre work in various media.

RIP Doug Fratz (1952-2016), alumna of the University of Maryland (College Park) science fiction club and long-time active fan. (I hold him personally responsible for convincing me to come to the convention they put together and therefore setting me up to get roped into a bridge game by Fred Pohl and Tom Monteleone. On the other hand, they also roped in X, who turned out to be Jack Heneghan and who, with his partner Elaine, taught me how to actually play the game.) I really liked that guy, he was fun and I miss him, I'm really sorry that he's already gone. (CSPA Obit)

'Draw and you'll go to jail': the fight to save comics from the censor: From worried parents to policemen with built-in 'Satan detectors', underground comics have never lacked enemies. And for 30 years Neil Gaiman and his friends have fought back in the name of free speech." I remember the Mike Diana case at the time, being shocked that someone could be sent to jail not for acts, not even for photographs of acts, but for drawings. And all these years later, it still shocks me.

"A 'Quick Perspective' on the Scale of the Manmade and Natural Marvels That Surround Us"

A bedtime story read by Samuel L. Jackson

STOPPING BY THE WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING - By Donald J Trump

Bra-clasp of the week. I only know about this because I found an eight-year-old message Karen B. left me in one of a million websites I've been known to wander into.

Well, I had no idea that "Rocket Man" was a big thing in bluegrass.

Dr. John, "Season of the Witch" and "Creole Moon"

17:35 GMT comment


Friday, 23 September 2016

If there's anything that you want

Some people complain that I'm always ragging on Democrats instead of on Republicans. Leaving aside my opinion that some Democrats are Republicans, I just don't see the point, since the Republicans are already hopeless, and there's nothing I can do about them except hope we somehow get a party that will actually oppose them. Until the Democrats start really doing that, yes, I'm ragging on them.

This is FiveThirtyEight's election projection page, and about halfway down there's a map with the states sized by number of electoral votes, which is nice because all those big red states like Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas are cut down to size and are no bigger than Vermont. It gives you a much better picture of how close the election is than looking at a normal map with all that red territory.

"In historic move, Gov. Jerry Brown expands overtime pay for California farmworkers: Leaders of the United Farm Workers of America, which sponsored the overtime bill, called Brown's decision a victory in a nearly 80-year quest to establish broad rights and protections for farm laborers. But the move shocked the agricultural community, which lobbied heavily against its provisions, saying the new law would hurt a valuable state industry already on the decline. [...] It will lower the current 10-hour-day threshold for overtime by half an hour each year until it reaches the standard eight-hour day by 2022. It also will phase in a 40-hour standard workweek for the first time. The governor will be able to suspend any part of the process for a year depending on economic conditions."

Forget jail, "Wells Fargo Exec Who Headed Phony Accounts Unit Collected $125 Million" - and 5,000 nonentities working for him got fired.
* "Bernie Sanders Asks The Only Relevant Question About The Wells Fargo Scandal."
* David Dayen in TNR, "The Obama Administration Must Prosecute Wells Fargo: CEO John Stumpf's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee offered more than enough evidence of major securities fraud. [...] If the SEC and the Justice Department don't get involved here, they might as well not even exist. CFPB's Cordray and OCC's Thomas Curry wouldn't say whether they issued criminal referrals to law enforcement in this case, though Cordray hinted at it. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, if she wants to emerge from wherever she's been hiding on this issue, has enough information to bring cases. Will President Barack Obama's administration end its tenure as it began, by refusing to prosecute systemic fraud in the financial markets? That's the unavoidable conclusion so far."
* There's nothing quite like watching her give a fraudster a good grilling, and it was gratifying to see Elizabeth Warren eviscerate Wells Fargo's CEO.

"'Big Short' guru tells whiny bankers to shut up [...] 'You lived in a bad neighborhood. You didn't police yourselves. You're going to have to live with this. You frickin' blew up Planet Earth. Shut up and move on.'"

Marcy Wheeler on "A Busy Day for the Bears" after the leaked Powell emails, a speech by Guccifer, and other things.
* Much as I hate to link to the Daily Mail, I have to admit to being amused by their headline of the leaked Colin Powell emails.

Juan Cole, "Why the Boeing & Airbus Sales to Iran are a Big Effing Deal" - Because it's more ethical, more economically sensible, and it helps strengthen the Iran deal.

Noam Chomsky explains the TPP

"A bad day for Missouri: The people of Missouri just had a very bad day. It started off with the top lobbyist for the top donor in Missouri being allowed by Republicans to speak from the dais on the Senate floor. Lobbyists getting what they wanted would be the theme of the day. During the veto session on Wednesday, the Republicans who control our legislature went on a rampage against the people of Missouri. They made it harder to vote and easier for anyone to carry a gun anywhere, unchecked and untrained. They put industry representatives in charge of policing their own water pollution. They gave a $50 million retroactive handout to special interests without budgeting for it. They voted to fine the poorest people in the state if they use an emergency room or miss a doctor's appointment. They spent the day celebrating their unchecked authority taunting Democrats, voters and the Governor on social media, while refusing to help any Missourians."

Barton Gellman, one of the four journalists (with Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, and Ewen MacAskill) to see the original Snowden materials, and whose stories in The Washington Post on the subject earned the paper a Pulitzer, on "The House Intelligence Committee's Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Snowden Report: Late on Thursday afternoon the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a three-page executive summary (four, if we count the splendid cover photo) of its two-year inquiry into Edward Snowden's National Security Agency (NSA) disclosures. On first reading, I described it as an 'aggressively dishonest' piece of work. With a day or so to reflect on it, I believe it's worse than that. The report is not only one-sided, not only incurious, not only contemptuous of fact. It is trifling."
* Marcy Wheeler: "Remember, every single member of the committee, Democrat or Republican, signed this report. Every single one. For some reason, even fairly smart people like Adam Schiff and Jackie Speier signed off on something with inexcusable errors."
* "Former CIA Officer: President Obama Should Pardon Edward Snowden: He let Americans evaluate omniscient domestic surveillance for themselves."
* "WashPost Makes History: First Paper to Call for Prosecution of Its Own Source (After Accepting Pulitzer): Three of the four media outlets that received and published large numbers of secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden - The Guardian, the New York Times, and The Intercept - have called for the U.S. government to allow the NSA whistleblower to return to the U.S. with no charges. That's the normal course for a news organization, which owes its sources duties of protection, and which - by virtue of accepting the source's materials and then publishing them - implicitly declares the source's information to be in the public interest. But not the Washington Post." But Margaret Sullivan took issue with them - in their own Style section, with "As a source - and a patriot - Edward Snowden deserves a presidential pardon."
* "'Pardon Snowden' Campaign Takes Off as Sanders, Ellsberg, and Others Join: His bravery was a catalyst for the modern movement to defend democracy."

"Warrant Issued for Amy Goodman's Arrest for DAPL Reporting: Watch Your Back! I guess that you might expect a film showing security guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on those protesting the Dakota Access oil Pipeline (DAPL) would be bound to get someone's attention. Surely it might lead to an arrest or at minimum, disciplinary measures against those who employed such tactics against non-violent protestors. After all, the optics of such measures surely rebound against those who order them to be unleashed (anyone remember Selma, for example?) Well, if you thought that, you would be wrong. We don't live in sane times. Instead, a warrant has been issued in Morton County, North Dakota for the arrest of award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, on a charge of criminal trespassing, a Class B misdemeanor offense, as reported by the local Dickinson Press. Goodman and her team have been in the forefront of covering the DAPL protests. On September 3, they filmed security personnel working for the pipeline company using dogs and pepper spray to attack protesters. That graphic report, which may be viewed here, went viral and was rebroadcast widely by CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, MSNBC and the Huffington Post, among other outlets."

Pierce, "The Charter School Movement Is a Vehicle for Fraud and Corruption: As I may have mentioned, we have a red-hot ballot initiative up here in the Commonwealth (God Save It!) in which we are asked whether or not we want to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The usual suspects and the usual out-of-state money are weighing in heavily on the YES side of things; their ads continually portray charters as merely an extension of the existing public school system even though experience everywhere tells us that the people who are making big bank of education "reform" generally, and on charters in specific, insist that they be allowed to run their businesses...er...schools independently of the school boards that manage the rest of the public system. In other words, all they want from the public school system is money and suckers."

I'm always wary of "cures" for addiction, but I'm also aware that there are circumstances where they can help, and this one looks - so far - like it might just work, So, yes, "Banning a promising cure for opioid addiction is a bad idea [...] But not to worry: The Drug Enforcement Administration is on the case. 'To avoid an imminent hazard to public safety,' the agency said in a press release, it will be adding kratom, a medicinal herb that has been used safely in Southeast Asia for centuries, to its list of Schedule 1 substances, placing the popular botanical in a class with killers like heroin and cocaine at the end of September. Why ban the mild-mannered tree leaf? Well, because the DEA claims it's an opioid with 'no currently accepted medical use.' Wrong on both counts. " But given the nature of the drug's potential, why would the DEA even get interested in banning it. Oh. "However, drug companies have shown little interest in a plant remedy that cannot be patented. While some of kratom's active ingredients have indeed been patented by researchers who hope one day to market them to pharmaceutical firms, Boyer said that these compounds have failed to exhibit as powerful pain-killing effects as the whole plant."

For a change, the stats say things were better for Americans last year. Well, some of them, anyway. David Dayen in The New Republic, "Obama Thanks Himself - for a Slow, Partial Recovery: A good 2015 doesn't make up for years of stagnation. [...] But digging into the data reveals a more complicated picture, especially when put in the context of what we've been through in the Obama era. First of all, we should be chastened by the fact that this is the first gain in median household income since 2007. That means that, after eight years in the wilderness, the post-recession recovery for the middle class only started in 2015." And not all of the credit should be going to Obama, either; much of it may be owed to Fight for $15.

"Obama Expected To Veto 9/11 Bill Because It Sets A Dangerous Precedent: The House voted Friday to allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the state of Saudi Arabia for their alleged ties to terrorism. The vote comes four months after the Senate voted the bill through, but proponents worry that President Obama will veto the bill. 'We are in the same place we were the last time,' a White House official told NBC on Friday. Obama said in April he would veto the bill. The White House says that the bill's enactment could put American officials overseas in danger. By opening up the prospect of victims suing governments (or states), the United States could be opening itself up to law suits from individuals who feel that the country has committed crimes in their nation - like victims of drones in Pakistan, or civilians killed by the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition in Yemen." Oh, noes! We wouldn't be able to bomb children safely!

"Secret government electronic surveillance documents must be released, judge says: In a major victory for journalists and privacy and transparency advocates, a federal court has started the process of unsealing secret records related to the government's use of electronic surveillance. US District Court Judge Beryl Howell said at a hearing Friday morning that absent an objection by government attorneys, the court would post to its website next week a list of all case numbers from 2012 in which federal prosecutors in Washington, DC applied for an order to install a pen register or a trap and trace device. A pen register is an electronic apparatus that tracks phone numbers called from a specific telephone line (though the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act expanded the definition of pen register to allow for collection of email headers as well). A trap and trace device is similar, but tracks the phone numbers of incoming calls. [..;] Orders authorizing the use of a pen register are initially sealed to prevent tipping off the subject of the investigation that their communications are being monitored. However, courts rarely reexamine the need for continued secrecy after the investigation is closed. As a result, virtually all pen register applications and orders have remained hidden from public view years or even decades after the investigation has ended."

"Chelsea Manning Ends Hunger Strike, Will Get Gender Affirming Surgery

The ACLU has a case: "Police Accidentally Record Themselves Conspiring to Fabricate Criminal Charges Against Protester." A long time ago, before there were videocams, I watched some cops sit around casually trying to figure out what charge they could trump up against me right in front of me, without the slightest worry that they were doing so in front of a witness. This wasn't going to be easy, because they'd stopped a car for going five miles over the speed limit and I had been asleep in the back seat, so it would have been hard for me to be an accessory to the crime. Didn't stop me from spending three days in jail, though.

"Did You Know We Are Having the Largest Prison Strike in History? Probably Not, Because Most of the Media Have Ignored It: The prison strike didn't merit a single mention in NYT, Washington Post, NPR, CNN or MSNBC."

"Stephen A. Smith: Military Pays NFL To Make Players Stand For National Anthem: On ESPN's First Take, Stephen A. Smith blew the whistle on Jones' fake outrage by reporting that players were not mandated to stand until 2009. Until then, nobody stood for the anthem because players stayed in the locker room until it was time to come out on the field and play. He goes on to say that players were moved onto the field during the anthem as a marketing strategy to make them look more patriotic. Smith says that the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. National Guard paid the NFL more than $10 million combined to pull off the move."

Rick Perlstein, America's historian in The Washington Spectator, "Hillary's Reckless Off-Ramp Strategy [... The speech, I was dismayed to discover, proved quite popular among liberals, some of whom singled me out for not understanding the sublime cleverness of the 'off-ramp' Clinton had provided for indignant Republicans. After all, the person who wins the most votes wins the presidential election. (I know, I know, Mr. Gore, I mean usually wins the presidential election.) Additionally, a president with more friends in Washington has a better chance of advancing her agenda than one with fewer friends - and that, simply, was all Clinton's speech was about. But it's not so simple. For decades, the Democrats' Achilles' heel has been an obsession with strategizing to win this election, often at the expense of building strategic capacity to keep winning elections and control the agenda for the next several elections - and decades - to come. [...] But what's the harm? Don't right-wing grifters' votes count the same as horny-handed tillers of the soil? Won't the news that famous Republicans are breaking for Hillary help ordinary Republicans stomach the switch, too? It's not like Glassman is going to be her treasury secretary. Democrats have an election to win, and it's less than two months away - doesn't Team Clinton want to pile up as many supporters as it possibly can? The flaw in this argument is that it overlooks something: the potential problems come in the longer term. Large numbers of supporters of only glancing or provisional commitment to your governing agenda, shoehorned into your tent in time for Election Day, can become quite the liability for effectuating that agenda when it comes time to govern. Just ask Jimmy Carter. Carter was elected president in 1976 by riding a wave of disgust with untrustworthy government, a victory foreshadowed in 1974 by the election of a passel of what became known as Congress's 'Watergate Babies.' Many of these fresh-faced political youngsters retired as legendary liberal lions: Representatives George Miller and Henry Waxman, Senators Tom Harkin and Chris Dodd. A lot of them, however, were explicitly like Gary Hart." And Hart was the exemplar of the New Democrats. He even had a name for his stump speech: "The End of the New Deal." If you ever wondered how it was that the Republicans were suddenly able to sell their appalling, destructive - and widely hated - policies, Democrats like Hart are the ones you can blame.

The Guardian has a little report, "Because Scott Walker Asked: Leaked court documents from 'John Doe investigation' in Wisconsin lay bare pervasive influence of corporate cash on modern US elections [...] The prosecutors alleged in court filings published here for the first time that Walker's campaign found a way around these restrictions by banking the corporate cash through the third-party group, Wisconsin Club for Growth. WCfG describes itself as a 'pro-liberty, pro-fiscal restraint' organisation, sharing the same small government and anti-union ideology as Walker. It is a tax-exempt group, or 501 (c) (4), that is supposed to be primarily concerned with 'social welfare' rather than partisan politics and as such is not obliged to reveal its donors."

David Dayen introduces this Intercept series in a Facebook post: I've spent nearly a year working on a series of articles for The Intercept that we're calling The Penny Stock Chronicles. It follows Chris DiIorio, an institutional stock trader and analyst who loses over a million dollars in a penny stock. Wanting to understanding why, he researches this world and finds a web of short selling fraud, tax evasion, shell corporations, and money laundering. This was a very difficult story to write. The twists and turns are quite incredible. There's an entire market out there that everyone knows is suffused with corruption, but they have no idea about the extent of it. And though DiIorio's claims can be hyperbolic and should be judged on their own terms, the numbers he provided all check out. When he wrote Flash Boys, Michael Lewis said 'the market is rigged.' He didn't even know the half of it. Please give The Penny Stock Chronicles a read."

Those Biblical cities that God kept smiting? They all did what Bill Moyers is describing in "We, the People Versus We, the Wealthy: How did the United States become the land of the unequal - and how do we find our way back? [...] The Greek historian Plutarch is said to have warned that 'an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of a Republic.' Yet as the Washington Post pointed out recently, income inequality may be higher at this moment than at any time in the American past. When I was a young man in Washington in the 1960s, most of the country's growth accrued to the bottom 90% of households. From the end of World War II until the early 1970s, in fact, income grew at a slightly faster rate at the bottom and middle of American society than at the top. In 2009, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez explored decades of tax data and found that from 1950 through 1980 the average income of the bottom 90% of Americans had grown, from $17,719 to $30,941. That represented a 75% increase in 2008 dollars."

Commenter CMike informs us that Matt Stoller says that "This is better policy analysis than 99% of news media." It's "The Conspiracy Behind Your Glasses by comedian Adam Conover.
* And while we're at it, Adam ruins Security Theater, too, with a surprise appearance from our pal Bruce.

"'Be Afraid': Largest Corporations Wealthier Than Most Countries: The power of corporations is so great within our society that they have undermined the idea that there is any other way to run society."

Chris Hedges on "The Courtiers and the Tyrants [...] The corporate elites failed to grasp that a functioning liberal class is the mechanism that permits a capitalist democracy to adjust itself to stave off unrest and revolt. They decided, not unlike other doomed elites of history, to eradicate the liberal establishment after they had eradicated the radical movements that created the political pressure for advancements such as the eight-hour workday and Social Security. [...] 'There hasn't been a single major piece of legislation advancing the health, safety and economic rights of the American people since 1974, arguably since 1976.'"

Bitter truth from The Onion: "Man Just Waiting Tables Until Fundamental Structure Of U.S. Economy Changes."

"How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat" - It still irritates me that I continue to run into people who think using butter and cream is more fattening and generally harmful to health than cereals packed with sugars - by which I don't just mean your Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, but Quaker Oats.

Jeffrey Sterling in The Intercept, "I Was a CIA Whistleblower. Now I'm a Black Inmate. Here's How I See American Racism.: Call me naive, call me a dreamer, and I'll wear those monikers proudly because I still believe, even from prison, in this country and what it is supposed to stand for. Has that been my personal experience and what I've been seeing from prison? No. As merely one example, during my time in the CIA it became clear, in the organization's words and actions toward me, that they saw me not as an American who wanted to serve his country but as 'a big black guy.' But my dreams of America are far more enduring than a prison TV room mentality. There is a black America, there is a white America, there are many Americas. The greatness and promise of this country lies in equality reinforced by our differences rather than defined by them. My America is not a prison. For now, I'm confined to the black TV room at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado. When I am free, I don't want to feel that I'm merely going from one prison to another."

"Bernie backer wins special Democratic primary: After losing the Democratic primary in Missouri's 78th District, Bruce Franks has won in a landslide after challenging the validity of the first primary. Franks won with more than 75 percent of the vote on Friday, a much greater margin than the 55 absentee votes he lost by in August. State Representative Penny Hubbard won that contest, however Franks filed suit, with the courts ruling that the city's board of elections mishandled at least 142 in-person absentee ballots. Franks will almost certainly be on his was to Missouri's state house, as the district leans heavily Democratic."
* I read this story, "Challengers beat two state representatives, primary winners in line for open seats", but I still can't tell whether the results were good or bad. They say the winners won "from the left", but there's nothing in there about what that means, and I'm not inspired to do the research to find out.

"Why the Deeply Held Ideas of the Nation's Most Elite Economists Were Direct Causes of Extreme Inequality [...] This is dismaying but it is important to understand that a fundamental mainstream idea was behind it. Generally, the reaction of the economic mainstream to the inflationary turmoil of the 1970s was to retreat to an ideological interpretation of their fundamental ideas - a doctrinaire reinforcement of laissez-faire economics. As Americans turned away from government, so did the economics profession. In regard to the financial markets, it boiled down to this. Free markets without government interference work too well to become dangerously unstable; therefore, no need to account for how a credit crisis might affect the real economy. It would correct itself too quickly to do damage."

Comedy from DNC lawyers when they file to dismiss the lawsuit against them from Sanders backers. "The DNC attorneys also get a bit creative in their effort to get this lawsuit thrown out. They claim that all of the named plaintiffs already knew that the DNC was biased when they donated - so therefore how could they have been duped if they knew? We are not joking, that was one of their actual claims in the motion to dismiss."

"What would Mother Jones do? Probably not bash idealistic young leftists: The left-of-center Mother Jones mag inexplicably is targeting the young people behind Bernie Sanders's movement." But perhaps MoJo is just doing what it's spent the last year-and-a-bit doing, which is promoting Clintonite memes, and Clinton's camp is doing what it always does, which is try to alienate real liberal progressives.

AWARE's video, "LGBTQ Rights Are Human Rights"

Ted Rall cartoon: The Clinton Campaign

I really don't know if it will get out the vote, but it was interesting to see all these people Joss Whedon collected together telling you to register to vote.

Refugee Crisis: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

"To beat airport security lines, famous British actor Michael Caine has changed his name to Michael Caine."

The US ambassador to Denmark is a rock star.

RIP: Dave Kyle (1919-2016), former Worldcon chair, founder of Gnome Press, probably the first SMOF, and revered long-time fan. He was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1983 Worldcon, where I ran fan programming, which was a bit of a problems since I simply did not know him well enough to figure out what would be the most appropriate sort of panels to build around him. I asked everyone I knew, including the committee members who'd chosen him as FGoH, and no one had any suggestions. So finally I told him if he had any ideas of what he would do with them, I could offer him six hours of programming time. He had ideas and, if I recall correctly, used all six hours. It seemed to go over really well.

"Stephen King Compares Donald Trump To Cthulhu; Cthulhu Issues Angry Denial: The Great Old One objects to being compared to the GOP presidential candidate."

"Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr were adorable at Eight Days a Week premiere."

NYT Corrections: "A picture caption on Sept. 4 with an article about Boulder, Colo., described a house in the city incorrectly. The house was the setting of the Mork and Mindy TV show, not the residence of the poet Allen Ginsberg."

This ad for Virgin TV entertained me.

A little late to the party, Avedon discovers Nolan Strong and the Diablos, a Detroit group with a really great tenor - and Doo-Wops. Here they are doing "Mind Over Matter".

From Pathé News, "The Beatles Come To Town - Two Stories - Technicolor & Techniscope (1963)" Gary Farber points out that it's "terrific early concert footage with complete songs; it's the first known color film to include sound of the band performing."

19:45 GMT comment


Monday, 12 September 2016

Billion-year-old carbon

Spencer Ackerman has a fascinating report in the Guardian, "Inside the fight to reveal the CIA's torture secrets" The first part of the inside story of the Senate investigation into torture, the crisis with the CIA it spurred and the man whose life would never be the same." He was part of the Senate investigation and he'd found a smoking gun. "There was one document in particular that proved it. Jones and his team had found it years before, placed mysteriously onto a shared computer network drive the Senate intelligence committee investigators were using in northern Virginia, not far from CIA headquarters. But they hadn't appreciated its full significance until the agency, in an attempt at refuting a report that was still far from publication, told Barack Obama's staff that the committee was pushing a hysterical interpretation of the agency's fateful post-9/11 embrace of torture. The document, prepared for Leon Panetta when he was CIA director, had reached the same conclusions about the torture program that Jones had. As long as Jones had it, he would be able to show that the agency knew full well how brutal the torture was; how ineffective its torturers considered it to be; and how thoroughly the CIA had covered all of that up. As long as Jones had the document, that is. Lurking in the back of his mind was the event that had led him to devote five years of ceaseless work, through nights and weekends: the CIA had already destroyed evidence of torture. It did that before the Senate had launched an investigation, and long before that investigation had turned acrimonious."
* Charlie Pierce says you should read it all. "This CIA Torture Story Is the Best Example of Our Post-9/11 Failings: Not that they'd listen to me or anything but, if I were the gang at the Pulitzer committee, I'd get a head start on putting Spencer Ackerman's name on the National Reporting plaque right now, just to save themselves the work next spring. Getting someone to talk on the record is the eternal jackpot of investigative reporting, and, in today's Guardian, Ackerman hits the Comstock Lode with Daniel Jones, who was the chief investigator for the Senate intelligence committee when that committee was looking into the practice of rendition and torture and the other extraconstitutional horrors perpetrated in our name by the late Avignon Presidency, and who also looked on in anger as the CIA worked overtime to ratfck the investigation and to bury its result. This is the first of a three-part series. I'd say that the extended weekend forecast calls for fury and outrage. [...] Nobody comes out of this report very well. Leon Panetta's reputation gets its bell rung pretty hard. John Brennan is exposed as somebody you wouldn't trust to park your car. And why, Mark Udall, why didn't you read the report into the Senate record after you lost re-election the way so many people begged you to do?

WaPo, "Inside the Republican creation of the North Carolina voting bill dubbed the 'monster' law" - I have no patience with the idea that it's okay to deprive American citizens of their right to vote as long as its purpose is merely to prevent people from voting for the other party, rather than to prevent black people from voting. It's still election-fixing and it should be a jailable offense.

"Distrust Of 2016'S Hackable Election Is A Media Landslide With Just One Solution: Hand-Counted Paper Ballots. ...] But the real threat to our election system comes from private for-profit corporations that register voters, control voter databases, then count and report the vote with secret proprietary software and zero transparency, accountability or recourse. After ignoring or attacking the reportage since Florida 2000 of Bev Harris, Greg Palast, freepress.org and numerous others, the corporate media seems finally to be getting the message: under the current system, any American election---even the one for president---can be stripped and flipped by a tiny handful of electronic hackers working anywhere from the Kremlin to a party HQ to a state governor's office to a teenager's garage."

"Jeremy Corbyn media coverage deliberately biased against him, British public believes: Perception of unfairness extends beyond supporters of Labour leader."

It was obvious this was going to happen, but Brazil's Senate voted to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff. Of course, they're a bunch of criminals who are far more corrupt than they've accused her of being, but never mind. I'm sure they're happy in Washington.

"This small Indiana county sends more people to prison than San Francisco and Durham, N.C., combined. Why? [...] If Mr. Gaddis had been caught 20 miles to the east, in Cincinnati, he would have received a maximum of six months in prison, court records show. In San Francisco or Brooklyn, he would probably have received drug treatment or probation, lawyers say. But Mr. Gaddis lived in Dearborn County, Ind., which sends more people to prison per capita than nearly any other county in the United States. After agreeing to a plea deal, he was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison."

"U.S. Denies Entry to Former British Ambassador Craig Murray: The U.S. government, for no stated reason, and after having approved his entry in the past, has denied Craig Murray the usual approval to enter the United States without a visa that is given to UK citizens. Craig Murray was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004."

"Hours Before Courtroom Showdown, Tribal Activists Shut Down Pipeline Construction: A federal judge is expected to rule later Tuesday on an emergency request for a restraining order filed in response to the holiday weekend desecration of sacred sites."

Wonkette, "God Spares Phyllis Schlafly Sight Of First Woman President."
* Corey Robin on Phyllis Schlafly, 1924-2016, quoting Catharine MacKinnon's words in debate with Schlafly: "Mrs. Schlafly tells us that being a woman has not gotten in her way. That she knows what she is saying because it happened to her. She could be one of the exceptional 7.8 percent, although who's to know? I do submit to you, though, that any man who had a law degree and had done graduate work in political science; had given testimony on a wide range of important subjects for decades; had done effective and brilliant political, policy, and organizational work within the party; had published widely, including nine books; was instrumental in stopping a major social initiative to amend the Constitution just short of victory dead in its tracks, and had a beautiful, accomplished family - any man like that would have a place in the current administration. Having raised six children, a qualification not many men can boast of (and if so probably with less good reason) did not make the difference. I would accept correction if I am wrong, and she may yet be appointed. She was widely reported to have wanted such a post, but I don't believe everything I read, especially about women. She certainly deserved a place in the Defense Department. Phyllis Schlafly is a qualified woman. I charge that the Reagan Administration has discriminated against Phyllis Schlafly on the basis of her sex."
* Los Angeles Times obituary for Schlafly, world's most famous anti-feminist.

"Four Ways Media Attack Organized Labor"

Thers chooses "the Worst University Administration Ever".

In our continuing coverage of the parade of Bad Dems the leadership has been foisting off on us, we see Blue Dogs and New Dems helping the GOP when "Friday House Conservatives Granted Private Equity Firms A License To Defraud Their Customers: OK, so now, what is this Investment Advisors Modernization Act of 2016? Modernization sounds good-- even progressive-- no? No, not in the Orwellian sense it's being used. Alan Grayson, who of course, voted against it, told us yesterday that "basically, the bill dictates to the SEC how to protect, or not to protect, investors. It repeals by statute investor-safety regulations that, in some cases, date back half a century."
* "Keep Track Of Who's Celebrating Victories By Wasserman Schultz And Patrick Murphy." Given how badly Murphy is polling against his Republican opposition, you'd think the Democratic Party would not be so happy.

"There's no such thing as a victimless billionaire" - A great line if ever I saw one, and the explanation for why the Kochs and their little friends are on the warpath to prevent people from voting, most notably by making claims of voter fraud. "Is there really a gigantic conspiracy of one million Democrats to vote twice, or is it a massive scheme to take away the votes of a million innocent people?" Innocent people whose names are on a list of people with similar names - names like Washington, Kim, and Garcia.

"U.S. Considers HSBC Charge That Could Upend 2012 Settlement: Prosecutors' fresh investigation of HSBC brings them closer to a step that has often been threatened but rarely taken -- tearing up a deferred-prosecution agreement if a company fails to walk the road of reform laid out by the Justice Department." This really should happen.

The Washington Post says, "A record number of Americans now dislike Hillary Clinton." Theories about how this has happened are mainly that: 1. The Republicans have been attacking her for 30 years; and 2. That mean old Bernie Sanders attacked her so viciously during the primaries. It's true that the Republicans have been attacking her for 30 years (they never forgave her for keeping her maiden name when she got married), but Sanders didn't attack Clinton, and if you want to see a vicious primary campaign, look no further than the Obama camp's antics in 2008, which were downright sickening. No, all Sanders did was disagree with Clinton's policies. And maybe some people just don't like them. But her popularity seems to be going down since the primaries ended, and, gosh, I wonder who is helping that? Could it be the "objective" media? After the NYT embarrassed themselves reporting a Trump speech in advance as being much like the sane pivot Trump's advance publicity said it would be (yes, stenography in the NYT, what a surprise) and it just plain wasn't, we now have an endless stream of false equivalence to beat the band. They can't bring themselves to call Trump what he is, but every innuendo about Clinton gets a big headline. The media just can't stop themselves - but it's all Bernie's fault that they've carried GOP water for 30 years.

On the other hand, watching Democratic partisans in the media in action inspired Matt Taibbi to say, "Why Vox's Matt Yglesias Should Go Back in Time and Unwrite Recent Column: A member of the press arguing against transparency?"
* And Marcy Wheeler on "The Misunderstandings of the Anti-Transparency Hillary-Exonerating Left"

"The Clinton Foundation's Problems Are Deeper Than You Think: But critics of the Clinton Foundation may want to think twice before casually paying tribute to the organization's tremendous good work. Most of the claims about the Foundation's efficacy have little basis in any actual reported facts. Instead, it is simply assumed that the organization has tremendous humanitarian accomplishments, without any serious inquiry into what these are. An examination of the actual available evidence, as opposed to the PR claims of the Foundation and its boosters, suggests the need for far greater skepticism about the organization's charitable acts in addition to its fundraising."

"The Unrelenting Pundit-Led Effort to Delegitimize All Negative Reporting About Hillary Clinton [...] That Donald Trump is an uber-nationalist, bigotry-exploiting demagogue and unstable extremist does not remotely entitle Hillary Clinton to waltz into the Oval Office free of aggressive journalistic scrutiny. Nor does Trump's extremism constitute a defense to anything that she's done. It is absolutely true that Trump has at least as many troublesome financial transactions and entangling relationships as the Clintons do: These donations to the Florida attorney general are among the most corrupt-appearing transactions yet documented. Even worse, Trump has shielded himself from much needed scrutiny by inexcusably refusing to release his tax returns, while much of the reporting about the Clintons is possible only because they have released theirs. All of that is important and should be highlighted. But none of it suggests that anything other than a bright journalistic light is appropriate for examining the Clintons' conduct. Yet there are prominent pundits and journalists who literally denounce every critical report about Clinton as unfair and deceitful, and band together to malign the reporters who scrutinize the Clintons' financial transactions. Those prominent voices combine with the million-dollar online army that supreme sleaze merchant David Brock has assembled to attack Clinton critics; as the Los Angeles Times reported in May: 'Clinton's well-heeled backers have opened a new frontier in digital campaigning, one that seems to have been inspired by some of the internet's worst instincts. Correct the Record, a Super PAC coordinating with Clinton's campaign, is spending some $1 million to find and confront social media users who post unflattering messages about the Democratic front-runner.'"

"Addictive painkiller profiteer donates $500k to fight cannabis legalization in Arizona: Insys Therapeutics, which profits off of a painkiller 50 times more potent than heroin, has donated $500,000 to a campaign opposing marijuana legalization in the US state of Arizona."

"The TSA is a waste of money that doesn't save lives and might actually cost them." On the bright side, it reminded me how much I prefer train travel.

People who claim to be "fiscally responsible" always seem to come up with ideas that cost more money than they pretend to be saving. "DWP fit-to-work assessments cost more money than they save, report reveals: Government will pay £1.6bn in next three years to private contractors who carry out controversial assessments The Government is spending more money assessing whether people are fit to work than it is saving in reductions to the benefits bill, a damning official report has revealed."

"This is Wrong and Bullshit and You Shouldn't Support It" - Brock Turner's slap on the hand for rape outrages a lot of people for a lot of reasons). John Cole: "But cheering armed mobs outside his house threatening castration and rape is illiberal, offensive, and obscene, not to mention unfair to his other neighbors."

Jared Bernstein is actually going easy here, but even he can see that the prez is talking bollocks: "The shortcomings of the Obama administration's latest pitch on the TPP."

"The human toll of America's public defender crisis: Years of drastic budget cuts have created bottomless caseloads for public defenders - the 'pack mules of the system' - and tipped the scales of justice against the poor. [...] In recent years the US has begun to reckon with its role as the world's biggest jailer, home to a manifestly unequal justice system that disproportionately punishes poor people of color. In diagnosing the causes of this problem much of the focus has centered on sentencing reform, but in a country where 95% of criminal cases are settled by plea deal, little attention has been given to the critical state of indigent defense. Around the US, defenders routinely report an increase in overburdening and underfunding, caused by a variety of structural, political and economic drivers."
* "For Louisiana's defenseless poor, it's one for all: Meet Rhonda Covington, the last line of defense for thousands in need of an attorney in a forgotten corner of rural Louisiana"

Barry Eisler at BoingBoing, "How To Be At War Forever."

Ian Welsh on the curious fact that J.K Rowling prefers Blairism to Corbynism, in two charts.

In the LAT, "Too poor to retire and too young to die" - What do you do when you're 79 and can't afford to quit working?

Having obsessed on the subject for 15 years, your Talking Dog did not let this anniversary go by without writing his "homily" for 9/11. He used the word homily, I wouldn't.
* Ray McGovern on what happened and what didn't happen and what it all must mean. There's a lot of information in this, and I recommend you listen to it all.
* Seeing all the various stories around commemorating 9/11, I couldn't help remembering how uninterested the Bush administration had been in security against terrorism. And Al Franken's chapter on Operation Ignore.

"Guac the Vote"

"Teaching 'grit' is bad for children, and bad for democracy [...] There is a time and place for grit. However, praising grit as such makes no sense because it can often lead to stupid or mean behavior. Duckworth's book is filled with gritty people doing things that they, perhaps, shouldn't."

"Warner Bros. Demands Copyright Takedown Of Its Own Websites." Gee, maybe these big entertainment industry types have gotten a bit carried away.

It is devoutly to be hoped that if even her worshippers have lost faith in Michelle Rhee, we will finally be rid of this national nightmare.

"All Ideas Are Second-Hand: Mark Twain's Magnificent Letter to Helen Keller About the Myth of Originality"

Charlie Stross, "Sometimes I don't know why I bother! The trouble with writing fiction is that, as a famous novelist once said, reality is under no compulsion to make sense or be plausible. Those of us who make stuff up are constantly under threat of having our best fictional creations one-upped by the implausibility of real events. I'm pretty much resigned to this happening, especially with the Laundry Files stories: at least space opera and fantasy aren't as prone to being derailed as fiction set in the near-present. But there's a subtle corollary to the impossibility of story-telling keeping up with reality, and that's the point that it is also pretty much impossible to invent protagonists who can keep up with reality."

Get your Then t-shirts here.

"These Ridiculous Propaganda Postcards Warn Men about the Dangers of Women's Rights from the Early 20th Century."

"The 10 Best Photographs Ever Taken Without Photoshop"

"25 Extremely Beautiful Minerals And Stones"

Maia recently took some lovely photos at an exhibition of glass sculptures.

Good Harvest performing "Woodstock"

23:19 GMT comment


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

And I'm sure they meant you could be president

Ray McGovern, "A Lawless Plan to Target Syria's Allies: On Aug. 17, TV interviewer Charlie Rose gave former acting CIA Director Michael Morell a 'mulligan' for an earlier wayward drive on Aug. 8 that sliced deep into the rough and even stirred up some nonviolent animals by advocating the murder of Russians and Iranians. But, alas, Morell duffed the second drive, too. Morell did so despite Rose's efforts to tee up the questions as favorably as possible, trying to help Morell explain what he meant about 'killing' Russians and Iranians in Syria and bombing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into submission. [...] Not to put too fine a point on this, but everything that Morell is advocating here violates international law, the rules that - in other circumstances, i.e. when another government is involved - the U.S. government condemns as 'aggression' or as an 'invasion' or as 'terrorism.'" And it looks like there may be a place for him in Clinton's government, too.

"A Congressman Campaigns to 'Stop the Madness' of U.S. Support for Saudi Bombing in Yemen: For months, a California congressman has been trying to get Obama administration officials to reconsider U.S. backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. And for months, he has been given the runaround. Ted Lieu, a Democrat representing Los Angeles County, served in the Air Force and is a colonel in the Air Force Reserves. The brutal bombing of civilian areas with U.S.-supplied planes and weapons has led him to act when most of his colleagues have stayed silent. 'I taught the law of war when I was on active duty,' he told The Intercept. 'You can't kill children, newlyweds, doctors and patients - those are exempt targets under the law of war, and the coalition has been repeatedly striking civilians,' he said. 'So it is very disturbing to me. It is even worse that the U.S. is aiding this coalition.'"

"Is Angela Corey the Cruelest Prosecutor in America? The woman who failed to convict Trayvon Martin's killer is putting hundreds of kids in prison, and dozens of people on death row."

"Cop Shoots and Kills Unarmed Deaf Man as He Tries to Communicate Using Sign Language."

"Man Sues Surveillance Company for Spying on His Conversations With Married Woman: And the legal implications are as far-reaching as affecting if it's legal for your boss to spy on you at work."

"Obama's TPP campaign could drag down Democrats: How much is President Obama willing to harm the Democratic Party in order to win approval for the deeply unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) 'trade' agreement? We may soon find out."

David Dayen, "The Big Problem With The Trans-Pacific Partnership's Super Court That We're Not Talking About: Financiers will use it to bet on lawsuits, while taxpayers foot the bill."

The Nation, "How Obama Helped Lay the Groundwork for Trump's Thuggery: His refusal to prosecute torturers and his Wild West assassination of bin Laden show how moral complacency can all too easily degenerate into full-blown corruption."

Rolling Stone, "The GOP's Stealth War Against Voters: Will an anti-voter-fraud program designed by one of Trump's advisers deny tens of thousands their right to vote in November?"

"Report shows that Army took away gun from Dallas cop shooter Micah Johnson: A sergeant who supervised Micah Johnson, the man who killed five Dallas police officers in July, told the Army that his gun should be taken from him in 2014 because he posed a potential threat, according to a newly released Army investigation."

"U.S. Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business: The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries. Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian's annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget."

"One year on, Russia's war in Syria is hardly a 'quagmire': US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan got bogged down by ambitious goals. In Syria, Russia has kept it simple and is gaining in influence in the region because of it."

"WikiLeaks Reveals How the US Aggressively Pursued Regime Change in Syria, Igniting a Bloodbath: On August 31, 2013, US president Barack Obama announced that he intended to launch a military attack on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack in that country that the US blamed on the Syrian government. Obama assured the US public that this would be a limited action solely intended to punish the Assad government for using chemical weapons; the goal of US military action would not be to overthrow the Assad government, nor to change the balance of forces in Syria's sectarian civil war. [...] The cables gave the public a recent window into the strategies and motivations of US officials as they expressed them to each other, not as they usually expressed them to the public. In the case of Syria, the cables show that regime change had been a long-standing goal of US policy; that the US promoted sectarianism in support of its regime-change policy, thus helping lay the foundation for the sectarian civil war and massive bloodshed that we see in Syria today; that key components of the Bush administration's regime-change policy remained in place even as the Obama administration moved publicly toward a policy of engagement; and that the US government was much more interested in the Syrian government's foreign policy, particularly its relationship with Iran, than in human rights inside Syria."

Marcy Wheeler, "Breaking from Saudi Arabia!!! Two-Month-Old Misleading News [...] From that headline, particularly the use of the present tense, you might assume that the US is in the process of withdrawing its Yemen-related staff from Saudi Arabia, perhaps in response to the Saudi war crimes earlier this week. But here's what the story actually reports: the staff withdrawal happened in June, and was in no way a response to this week's war crimes."
* "Breaking: Russians Claim They've Found Extraterrestrial Life to Tamper with Our Elections."

"The real reason Washington calls Putin a thug"

"US Soldiers Are Relying on Millions of Dollars in Food Stamps to Survive [...] For years, the military has been embarrassed by reports showing that some active-duty service members struggle to feed their families and use government benefits to get by. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Department of Defense (DoD) does not fully understand the scope of the problem." Frankly, this article doesn't go far enough - members of the military are being charged for things they should be getting for free, to begin with.

Dean Baker, "Fixing Obamacare: The Democrats Have to Talk About It [...] If we are going to see the problems with the ACA addressed, Democrats will have to start talking about the program and explaining what it has done in ensuring that people have health care. If people understand what the ACA is, they are likely to want to protect it, just as millions now rush to the defense of Medicare whenever it is threatened."

The New Republic, "The Anti-Democratic Urge: With populism on the rise in both parties, it has become fashionable for elites to bash the masses. But we need more democracy, not less. [...] In reality, our political system is far less democratic than it was a generation ago. Over the past 40 years, we've seen unions crushed, welfare gutted, higher education defunded, prisons packed to overflowing, voting rights curbed, and the rich made steadily richer while wages stagnated. It's not the frustration of the people that should terrify us, but rather the legitimate sources of their frustration, which have so long gone unaddressed. Regular citizens struggling to make ends meet have almost nowhere to turn, nothing to join. We shouldn't wonder that so many voters have seized on this election to make a statement, even a nihilistic one. To insist that the only solution is for the people to get back in line is to refuse to acknowledge that the 'establishment' bears any responsibility for the conditions that created the public's outrage in the first place.

"Liberal Hate for the Green Party: Liberals have joined Hillary Clinton's 'big nasty tent' in a very big way. They have moved far beyond the usual rationales for sticking with the Democrats and are now carrying on a full-fledged hate fest. Their targets are Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, who is also a Black Agenda Report editor and columnist."

It's really worth listening to Sam Seder's interview with Carol Anderson: White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, much as it will make you feel the outrage all over again - and there are probably a couple of things you didn't know about, too. But most of all, she ties it all together neatly.

Great segment from John Oliver on Charter Schools.

"The Real Reason Middle America Should Be Angry: Like many 'flyover' cities, St. Louis's decline is not mainly a story of deindustrialization, but of decisions in Washington that opened the door to predatory monopoly."

"Virgin Trains controversy 'has helped Jeremy Corbyn's leadership bid'" - All Corbyn had to do was mention being on a crowded train and the press seems to have gotten excited, but I was more interested in this: Corbyn also said he would support a private members' bill tabled by Labour backbencher Margaret Greenwood aimed at unpicking the internal market in the NHS. That approach received support from David Owen, former Labour health secretary and one of the founders of the Social Democratic party. 'For the first time in 14 years we have the leader of the Labour party today unequivocally committing the party to reversing the legislation which has created in England a broken down market-based healthcare system,' Lord Owen said. 'Surely now the whole Labour movement can combine together, left, right and centre to make this official party policy at this year's autumn conference.'" Yes, you'd think they could at least agree on that. I mean, that's David Owen, who isn't exactly famous as part of Labour's left.

"NPR Host Demands That Assange Do Something Its Own Reporters Are Told Never to Do" In a ten-minute interview aired Wednesday morning, NPR's David Greene asked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange five times to reveal the sources of the leaked information he has published on the internet. A major tenet of American journalism is that reporters protect their sources. Wikileaks is certainly not a traditional news organization, but Greene's persistent attempts to get Assange to violate confidentiality was alarming, especially considering that there has been no challenge to the authenticity of the material in question.

Carl Beijer reviews the latest embarrassing Twitter moment: "Why Neera Tanden's notepad gaffe is so hilarious"

On how Gawker has been sued out of existence, Tom Scocca says, "Gawker Was Murdered by Gaslight. [...] "Gawker always said it was in the business of publishing true stories. Here is one last true story: You live in a country where a billionaire can put a publication out of business. A billionaire can pick off an individual writer and leave that person penniless and without legal protection. If you want to write stories that might anger a billionaire, you need to work for another billionaire yourself, or for a billion-dollar corporation. The law will not protect you. There is no freedom in this world but power and money."

"Why Trump voters are not 'complete idiots' [...] Trump voters may not vote the way I want them to, but after having spent the last five years working in (and having grown up in) parts of the US few visit, they are not dumb. They are doing whatever any other voter does: Trying to use their vote to better their particular situation (however they define that). Labeling them dumb is simply a way of not trying to understand their situation, or what they value."

"Why Poor People Stay Poor: Saving money costs money. Period." The article is a couple years old, but it bears repeating.

"How Veterans Are Losing the War at Home: A friend of mine, a Vietnam vet, told me about a veteran of the Iraq War who, when some civilian said, 'Thank you for your service,' replied: 'I didn't serve, I was used.' That got me thinking about the many ways today's veterans are used, conned, and exploited by big gamers right here at home." And the Koch brothers themselves are making a tidy profit sucking up VA money to keep right on using them.

"This week in the war on workers: Black Lives Matter and the NAACP say no to more charter schools."

"Inmates Made Thousands Of Unsafe Helmets For U.S. Troops: After multiple investigations, the Department of Justice found that a company that employed prisoners to build U.S. military helmets produced thousands of defective products, putting combat soldiers at risk. The Office of Inspector General worked with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Army to expose poor manufacturing practices by a company that paid inmates to make military helmets for the Department of Defense."

"In States Like Tennessee, Private Prisons Will Survive Obama Administration: On August 18, the same day the Department of Justice announced it would seek to end its private prison contracts, an inmate died at a Corrections Corporation of America facility in Tennessee, where she was denied proper medical treatment after she was attacked by other inmates." The facility holds a number of federal prisoners, but the contract is with the state, not the fed, so it may continue.

Dahlia Lithwick on "Leavenworth's Spygate: A private prison facility in Kansas was spying on constitutionally protected attorney-client conversations. [...] Amid this news, it was easy to miss the story out of the Leavenworth Detention Center in Kansas, in which a private prison system appears to have been committing a broad and systematic violation of the constitutional rights of its inmates. That federal private prison, operated by Corrections Corporation of America, was secretly videotaping conversations between prisoners and their lawyers and also allegedly recording audio of some phone calls between prisoners and their attorneys, then handing over some of the information from those recordings to state prosecutors. Corrections Corporation of America, which manages 85 facilities all over the country, appears to have basically been engaging in a widespread fishing expedition for evidence gleaned from secret videotapes - evidence they then handed off to prosecutors without the knowledge of prisoners nor their lawyers."

RIP: "Gene Wilder: a comic enigma whose genius shone brightest in collaboration" - of complications related to Alzheimer's, at 83.
* I don't expect anyone could get away with this ever again, but I still think it was hilarious.

"Obamacare's Faltering for One Simple Reason: Profit: There have been dozens if not hundreds of news articles about Aetna leaving the Affordable Health Care Act's online marketplaces in eleven states, and whether this signals serious problems for Obamacare down the road. But none of them have truly explained that what's happening with Aetna is the consequence of a flaw built into Obamacare from the start: It permits insurance companies to make a profit on the basic healthcare package Americans are now legally required to purchase. This makes Obamacare fundamentally different from essentially all systems of universal healthcare on earth. (There is one tiny exception, the Netherlands, but of the four insurance companies that cover 90 percent of Dutch citizens, just one is for profit.)"

"So You Think You Can Take Over the Democratic Party? With the nominating process now behind us, the question for supporters of Bernie Sanders both unwavering and critical is simple: What is to be done now?"

"Why Is Maddow In The Bag For #DebtTrapDebbie Wasserman Schultz?"

Alan Grayson: Dem Party Essentially "Money Laundering" For Donors

"Donald Trump is a Fascist: Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or 'merely' a proto-fascist depends on which historian's definition of fascism you prefer." An eight-part series (scroll down to get to the first part).

"The Real Way the 2016 Election Is Rigged: Despite what the media tells you, the Democrats will not take the House in November. Here's why."

"What Does It Mean When War Hawks Say 'Never Trump'? The enemies of my enemy may be war criminals."

"20 Years Later, Poverty Is Up, But Architects of 'Welfare Reform' Have No Regrets."

Corey Robin on "How Clinton Enables the Republican Party: I've been saying that one of the problems with the 'Trump is like no Republican we've ever seen before' line is that it prevents us from consigning the Republican Party to the oblivion it deserves. In making Trump sui generis, by insisting that he is an utter novelty, you allow the rest of the party to distance themselves from him, to make him extreme and themselves respectable, and to regroup after November."

"Ross Perot, Last American Leftist [...] Agents of Influence ultimately inspired Perot's whole political career - and gave Choate a second act as a senior campaign adviser commonly called 'Perot's brain.' And to their combined credit, Perot's brain on matters of substance remained remarkably lucid, consistent and focused during the surreal and volatile four years that followed. Sure, he had some odd personal notions about a GOP plot to crash his daughter's wedding, but his political convictions were unflappable. He spent all of seven words - 'I think this is a woman's decision' - on abortion, blaming failing infrastructure and the weak economy for the 'breakdown of the family' that preoccupied the culture warriors of the day. And while he often invoked the menace of debt and deficits on the campaign trail, it was always as a byproduct of the trade deficit he sought to attack with a robust Japan-style industrial policy."

"Why the Deeply Held Ideas of the Nation's Most Elite Economists Were Direct Causes of Extreme Inequality: As Americans turned away from government, so did the economics profession." Could these people really have had no idea of the damage they were doing? Surely it's obvious why so many people had hated those policies in the past and done their best to prevent them. It's hard to believe that the destruction of our economy is a bug rather than a feature.

Brad DeLong can still adhere to economic models that make no sense, but nevermind. As Norman Mailer explained long ago, the Elitemigration happened when smart Republicans took over the Democratic Party. No, really. "It's not like that faith is gone with the wind. Someone still vehemently believes in all those classic Chamber of Commerce GOP things, plus trade deals and outsourcing (with social liberalism, too, in a minor difference); someone still hates the economic left with religious and eliminationist intensity; someone still praises business, growth, deregulation with sunshiney Reaganite enthusiasm and in total denial of the persistent corruption, failure, and moral bankruptcy of same; and that someone is the current neoliberal Democratic Party elite, of which Brad DeLong is a prominent member." I hate to admit it, but Mailer was way ahead of me: "The Republicans said to themselves, 'we're in terrible trouble, they're on to us, we've...got to send a few of our best people into the Democratic Party and get them to run it' sort of as undercover people all these years. And I think they've succeeded. Look at the results."

"Hillary Clinton's Not-So-New, Not-So-Worker-Friendly Economic Plan : Hillary Clinton unveiled her "new" economic plan to much fanfare--but it looks an awful lot like someone else's old program."

"The Scourge of Neoliberalism: Why the Democratic Party Is Failing the Poor: When Democrats began their rightward lurch in the late 1960's, they were not content to merely broaden their coalition in order to quell the rise of the ultra-reactionary right; they have been concerned, also, with preventing left-wing insurgencies that could spook their patrons and push the party left."

"During Obama's Presidency Wealth Inequality has Increased and Poverty Levels are Higher [...] Despite the last few years of 'recovery,' the share of wealth held by the bottom 50% of the U.S. population declined from 1.15% in 2010 to 1.05% in 2013. This is less than half of where it stood in 2007, before the great recession, when the share of the country's wealth held by the poorest 50% of the population was at 2.5%."

Rick Perlstein on "Hillary's GOP Sympathies: Don't save the Speaker - let him go down with the Trump ship. When your opponent is drowning, the old saying goes, throw him an anvil. Is Hillary Clinton throwing hers a life raft instead?"

Lee Camp interviews economist Richard D. Wolff

"There Will Be No Second American Revolution: The Futility of an Armed Revolt [...] There is no place in our nation for the kind of armed revolution our forefathers mounted against a tyrannical Great Britain. Such an act would be futile and tragic. We are no longer dealing with a distant, imperial king but with a tyrant of our own making: a militarized, technologized, heavily-financed bureaucratic machine that operates beyond the reach of the law.

"Sci-fi author Haldeman on whether a 'Forever War' movie will happen." There isn't really any surprising content in the article, but I do remember that day when Joe walked up to me in the bar looking stunned, having just met Heinlein and having him enthuse about how he'd enjoyed The Forever War. Joe had felt the book was a retort to Starship Troopers, so that was a bit unexpected.

What I found most interesting about "Few quick thoughts on Brexit" was that Arnade focuses somewhat on Emile Durkheim, but never really spells out what may have been Durkheim's most important revelation: that the rate of suicide in a society is a response to the society. Presumably, there will always be people who would kill themselves regardless of how much they are offered by society, but when rates of suice go up, it's not an individual illness or problem, it's something the society is doing to its people. Suicide is up in America, and our government's decisions are what is killing them.

In "Soul of A New (Political) Machine," Anne Laurie says, "I am personally pro-machine, both out of filial piety (my Irish grandparents owed their livelihoods to Tammany Hall) and because the known alternatives are so much worse. Perhaps the concept is due for revival, as the retro vintage artisanal alternative to the kleptocrats of our Second Gilded Age? Are we sophisticated enough, technologically or socially, to harness the machines' benefits without the corruption for which they were infamous?" p>"Nobody talks about the fact that Taylor Swift is Jewish. Here's why it matters."

What's the difference between a hijab, niqab and burka?
* Ann Telneas: "Men: Stop telling women what to wear."

"The Complete Inverse of Man of Steel, in One Perfect Image"

Rimshot

Here Are Some Words That Seem Like They Should Be Related But Actually Aren't at All

The Beatles, live TV concert, 7 December 1963

50 years ago, the Beatles played their last concert, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Ben Folds, "Capable of Anything"

18:26 GMT comment


Sunday, 21 August 2016

We gave her everything money could buy

"Obama puts Congress on notice: TPP is coming: The White House put Congress on notice Friday morning that it will be sending lawmakers a bill to implement President Barack Obama's landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement - a move intended to infuse new energy into efforts to ratify the flat-lining trade pact. The move establishes a 30-day minimum before the administration can present the legislation, but the White House is unlikely to do so amid the heated rhetoric of a presidential campaign in which both major party nominees have depicted free trade deals as massive job killers. Friday's notification is the clearest signal yet that the White House is serious about getting Obama's legacy trade deal - the biggest in U.S. history - passed by the end of the year, as he has vowed to do despite the misgivings of Republican leaders and the outright opposition of a majority of Democrats in Congress." I was pretty sure as soon as Hillary started using stronger anti-TPP language that she knew Obama was going to push for it to be a done deal in the lame duck and ostensibly take it out of her hands.
* "Sanders to Democrats: Rule out lame-duck vote on trade deal: It is now time for the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate and the House to join Secretary Clinton and go on the record in opposition to holding a vote on this job-killing trade deal during the lame-duck session of Congress and beyond."
* "Liberals rally to sink Obama trade deal: Liberals are amping up their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on and off of Capitol Hill, amid escalating concerns that the package will get an 11th hour vote after the November elections. Republican leaders in both chambers have said it's unlikely the mammoth Pacific Rim trade deal will reach the floor this year. But the accord remains a top priority for President Obama in the twilight of his final term, and the critics - leery of pro-TPP members in both parties - aren't taking anything for granted."

Bless you, Zephyr Teachout! David Dayen in The New Republic, "Debate the Billionaires! What do you do as a politician when billionaire plutocrats drop millions of dollars into a super PAC dedicated to ending your career? Democrats will need to answer this question, and fast. As desperation sets in with the Donald Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee is considering cutting its losses and re-directing funds to save the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. And right-wing super PAC helmsmen, from the Koch Brothers to Karl Rove, have been training their eye on Congress for months. This means dozens of Democrats will likely see attack ads and mailers blanketing their districts this October. One candidate has come up with a plan to deal with this, and it could become a model for how to, at least, raise awareness of the effort by Big Money to effectively buy congressional races. Zephyr Teachout, a progressive populist hoping to take over an open seat in upstate New York currently held by the GOP, has challenged her opponent to a debate. Not the Republican candidate, but his wealthy super PAC donors. [...] 'We can't let billionaire donors buy off politicians and get away with being faceless names on a filing,' Teachout told me. 'People deserve to know who's trying to take away their right to choose their representatives.'"

"Fox, Meet Henhouse: FDA Says Food Makers Can Decide Which Food Additives Are Safe: If you want proof that our food system is corporate-friendly rather than consumer-friendly, putting consumer health at unnecessary risk, take a look at the FDA's Final Rule on Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), which was released last Friday. It's a doozy. The agency announced it will continue to allow food manufacturers to decide whether new food additives that preserve, flavor, blend or add texture to food can be safely added to processed food or drink. Yes, you read that correctly. The food company, which may have a financial interest in using the food additive, gets to decide its safety while the FDA does not have to do a review."

"US justice department announces it will end use of private prisons: [...] Yates said in her memo that research had found private prisons 'simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources' and 'do not save substantially on costs' either. Essential government education and training programs for prisoners 'have proved difficult to replicate and outsource' in the private sector, she said. The decision was announced days after the Department of Justice's inspector general released a damning investigation report. It found instances of inmate-on-inmate assaults were 28% higher in contract prisons than in government-run facilities, and that the confiscation of contraband mobile phones occurred eight times more frequently. Federal inmates in private prisons were found to be nine times more likely to be placed on lockdown than those at other federal prisons, and were frequently subjected to arbitrary solitary confinement." Well, yes, all the things we warned against, not to mention the creation of a powerful lobbying industry that has, among other things, sucked up precious state funds as well, made more things crimes, and increased the likelihood that kids who normally might have had nothing worse than detention to deal with suddenly ended up being dragged out in cuffs and incarcerated. The very idea that "the Land of the Free" actually allowed a private prison system is unbearably shameful. Unfortunately, it's not only the federal government that's been playing this game, and the states are still riddled with this corrupt system.

"The Justice Department's stunning report on the Baltimore Police Department [...] As you might expect, all of these problems are exacerbated in black neighborhoods, where stops, use of force and unlawful arrests are far more common, even after controlling for racial demographics. There's also just routine harassment. One officer told DOJ investigators that she likes to disperse (usually black) youths in public spaces because it 'looks bad.' She recalled another time when she told a man and his four-year-old son to leave a playground because they 'couldn't just stand around' and 'needed to move.' [...] In fact, the report found that officers routinely described clearly unconstitutional stops and arrests in their police reports. I suppose it's at least good that they're forthcoming about it. But it suggests either a department that doesn't bother educating its officers about the constitutional rights of the people they serve, or that enforcement of those rights is so lax that officers have no qualms about documented their own unconstitutional behavior. I'm not sure which is worse. [...] Just so we're clear, the sergeant not only instructed a subordinate to violate the men's constitutional rights by concocting a lie, he did so while knowingly in the presence of DOJ monitors. That's some serious cultural and institutional rot. In another incident, the report describes how several officers detained a man whose only offense was to be in a 'high-crime area' with his hands in his pockets. (The DOJ report notes that it happened to be a cold January morning.) After repeated questioning, the officers found a (perfectly legal) kitchen knife in his possession. They then illegally arrested him. When he resisted, they beat and Tased him to the point that he needed medical care. He was never charged with a crime. In his report, the supervising sergeant praised the officers for their 'great restraint and professionalism.'"
* "Everything Wrong With How Our Justice System Treats Poor People, In One Awful Case" - Well, not everything, but it's a pretty big thing.

"At Least 20 Casualties in Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Yemen: A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Yemen's northern Hajja province on Monday, Reuters reports. At least seven people were killed and 13 wounded."
* Marcy Wheeler, "Six Years Later, the US Continues to Facilitate Saudi War Crimes."

"Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace: In a stunning diplomatic surprise, Turkey and Iran have announced a preliminary agreement on fundamental principles for a settlement of the Syrian conflict. The dramatic turn in the diplomacy of the Syria War was revealed in Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's regular weekly speech to the ruling AKP Party in the parliament and confirmed by a senior Iranian foreign ministry official Tuesday. Both Yildirim's speech and the Iranian corroboration were reported Tuesday by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Al-Hayat, Arabic-language newspapers published in London, but the potentially pivotal development has been unreported thus far in Western news media."

"Feds can't spend money to prosecute people who comply with state medical pot laws, court rules: A U.S. appeals court decided unanimously Tuesday that the federal government may not prosecute people who grow and distribute medical marijuana if they are complying with state laws. Congress in the last two years has banned the federal government from spending money in ways that would thwart state medical marijuana laws. The U.S. Department of Justice contended the ban did not undermine its right to prosecute growers and distributors under federal law, even in states where medical cannabis was legal. But in the first federal appellate decision on the subject, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban prevents the government from spending money on prosecutions of people whose marijuana activities were legal in their states."

Big health insurers are pulling out of Obamacare in spite of its giveaway to them. Apparently, they just can't cope with the meager requirement that they actually do at least a little insuring. But Aetna is actually doing it as blackmail. The Wall Street Journal says, "To Sanders, Aetna's Pull-Back from Affordable Care Act Markets Shows Need for Overhaul: Sen. Bernie Sanders, who mounted a strong challenge for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Tuesday that news that a major health insurer was pulling back its participation in the Affordable Care Act exchanges affirms the need for his single-payer, government-run program. He promised to introduce legislation creating 'Medicare for all' again next year. This week, Aetna Inc. said it will withdraw from 11 of the 15 states where it currently offers plans, the latest major national insurer to sharply pull back its participation."

"Hillary Clinton Appoints Ken Salazar To Lead White House Transition. Salazar is a prime example of a revolving-door traveler of the very kind that Clinton purports to oppose. And, "In November, Salazar authored a joint oped with former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt saying 'The TPP is a strong trade deal that will level the playing field for workers to help middle-class families get ahead. It is also the greenest trade deal ever.' Politico reports that Salazar is now opposing a ballot measure designed to restrict fracking in his home state of Colorado. He has previously asserted that 'there's not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone.'
* "Hillary Clinton Picks TPP and Fracking Advocate To Set Up Her White House.TWO BIG ISSUES dogged Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) and fracking. She had a long history of supporting both. Under fire from Bernie Sanders, she came out against the TPP and took a more critical position on fracking. But critics wondered if this was a sincere conversion or simply campaign rhetoric. Now, in two of the most significant personnel moves she will ever make, she has signaled a lack of sincerity. She chose as her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine, who voted to authorize fast-track powers for the TPP and praised the agreement just two days before he was chosen. And now she has named former Colorado Democratic Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to be the chair of her presidential transition team - the group tasked with helping set up the new administration should she win in November. That includes identifying, selecting, and vetting candidates for over 4,000 presidential appointments."
* "Progressive Clinton supporters: You broke it, you bought it: With Donald Trump tanking in the polls, there's room for progressives to simultaneously crush his bid for the presidency while holding Hillary Clinton's feet to the fire on the TPP. She's now appointed two pro-TPP politicians to key positions on her campaign - Tim Kaine as her Vice President and Ken Salazar to lead her presidential transition team. It's time for progressives who helped Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in the primary to take the lead on holding her accountable. Progressives who supported Clinton in the primary should use their leverage to ensure Clinton makes good on her vow to stop TPP and keep other promises she made on the campaign trail to win progressive votes. Bernie supporters will have your back, but it's up to you to lead on this one."

Pierce: "Why Is Hillary Clinton Bragging About This Endorsement? A recurring series. In her continuing tour of the dingier side of the 20th Century American diplomatic elite, Hillary Rodham Clinton picked up the endorsement on Wednesday of one John Negroponte." Sam Seder thinks the news was released by some younger person in the campaign who didn't know who Negroponte was. Let's hope that's true, but it seems like Clinton has been courting these endorsements.

In the face of continuing charges of corruption about what appears to have been a little too much horse-trading between foreign donors and Hillary Clinton's state department, we get the announcement that the "Clinton Foundation won't accept foreign money if Hillary wins". But even Jonathan Chait can see that "Hillary Clinton's Ethics Problems Are Worse Than She Understands," although he is still making excuses. Yes, it's particularly short-sighted for someone who knows she has been under a microscope for decades to do something that looks so corrupt, but no one should be acting with such an overt conflict, regardless of who them are.

"Federal judge refers Sheriff Joe Arpaio for criminal contempt: A federal judge on Friday referred Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and three of his aides to the U.S. Attorney's Office, requesting that they be prosecuted for criminal contempt of court. The landmark decision comes after U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow found that Arpaio intentionally violated various orders rooted in an 8-year-old racial-profiling case. The judge's order also refers Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Arpaio's former defense attorney Michele Iafrate, and Capt. Steve Bailey for prosecutors to consider criminal contempt charges against them as well. The sheriff and Sheridan already have been held in civil contempt of court. Potential penalties are steeper in a criminal case, and only criminal contempt could result in incarceration." This should have happened a long time ago and should end up with Arpaio in jail. We'll be watching.

Whistleblower Retaliation Alive and Well at Hanford: It's getting real out at Hanford in eastern Washington, the site of the most expensive (and likely dangerous) environmental clean-up in the world. On July 21, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, along with watchdog group Hanford Challenge and UA Local Union 598 Plumbers and Steamfitters, filed an emergency legal motion asking US Judge Thomas Rice to intervene and force the US Department of Energy and federal contractor Washington River Protection Solutions to protect their workers from toxic vapor exposure at the site. [...] Allegedly, that 'culture of indifference' is what got Sandra Black, an employee concerns program manager (ECP), fired in January 2015. Black, who worked for DOE contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), was in charge of hearing out grievances raised by workers who have safety concerns, such as those working at Hanford. Black claims that she was terminated after speaking to investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO)."

"The Raid: In Bungled Spying Operation, NSA Targeted Pro-Democracy Campaigner." He had committed no crime, but "Ony Fullman is a middle-aged former tax man and a pro-democracy activist. But four years ago, a botched operation launched by New Zealand spies meant he suddenly found himself deemed a potential terrorist - his passport was revoked, his home was raided, and he was placed on a top-secret National Security Agency surveillance list."

"4 Years Later, Sweden Accepts Ecuador's Offer to Hear Assange: More than four years after Ecuador offered Swedish authorities the opportunity to interview Julian Assange in the nation's London Embassy, a deal appears to have been struck Wednesday after Ecuador's attorney general responded positively to a request from the Swedish government to interview the WikiLeaks founder in the building. [...] The WikiLeaks founder entered his fifth year inside the Ecuadorean Embassy on June 20 in conditions the United Nations has deemed arbitrary detention. Swedish and British authorities dismissed the U.N. ruling, which was made a day before the former requested to interview Assange in London. Ecuador's decision to continue to grant asylum to Assange has sparked friction with not just Sweden and the U.S., but also the U.K. But on Wednesday Ecuador's Foreign Ministry was unequivocal in reaffirming the country's support for both the U.N. ruling and the whistleblower's continued asylum."

Elizabeth Warren demands open access to data from patient trials of drugs: "'I appreciate that there are many policy, privacy, and practical issues that need to be addressed in order to make data sharing practical and useful for the research community,' Warren wrote in an editorial in the venerable New England Journal of Medicine, 'but the stakes are too high to step back in the face of that challenge.'"

"FEC Commissioner, Citing The Intercept, Calls for Ban on Foreign Money in Politics."

Jeremy Corbyn handles a hostile interview with the Guardian

Matt Taibbi, "The Summer of the Shill: Campaign 2016 won't just have lasting implications for American politics. It's obliterated what was left of our news media [...] It's not that stations were wrong to denounce Trump's comments. He deserves it all. But he's not the only stupid, lying, corrupt politician in the world, which is the impression one could easily get watching certain stations these days. These all-Trump, all-the-time story lineups are like Fox in reverse. The commercial media has devolved, finally, into two remarkably humorless messaging platforms."

Well, even The Atlantic is asking the question, now: "Is the U.S. Due for Radically Raising Taxes for the Rich?" Oh, gods, yes. Yes, it is.

"Monopoly Power and the Decline of Small Business: The Case for Restoring America's Once Robust Antitrust Policies

"Clinton courts the right: Attacking Trump as aberration rather than apotheosis gives Republicans a pass: Donald Trump has made this election, like everything else, about Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton, happily skewering him as he blows up his campaign with ruinous attacks on fellow Republicans and myriad others, has zero problems with this. But critics on the left do, because by playing it safe Clinton is sending troubling if unsurprising signals about the agenda she will set as president, and also missing a historic opportunity to crush the Republican Party in a moment of acute vulnerability. Instead of aggressively making the case that Trump represents the worst of Republican greed and bigotry, she is inviting their leaders and donors to join her campaign en masse."

Erik Levitz in New York Magazine, "Disagreeing With the Elite Consensus on Trade, Immigration, or Foreign Policy Does Not Make One a Trump 'Enabler': On Monday, Kirchick wrote a piece titled 'Beware the Hillary Clinton-Loathing, Donald Trump-Loving Useful Idiots of the Left.' In the column, Kirchick observes that Donald Trump once said that he was uncomfortable with the idea of American exceptionalism - and (gasp) many left-wing thinkers agree! Thus, Kirchick reasons, all left-wing critics of American foreign policy must be 'Trump fans' who are recklessly 'validating' a 'reactionary.' That may sound like a caricature of his argument, but the cartoonishness is Kirchick's own." There's a lot of this going around.

"Hillary Shows Her True Colors (Again) In Florida [...] Many Democrats were nauseated this week to see Clinton-- up to her old tricks-- rush to Miami to try to save Wasserman Schultz's collapsing campaign."

Thomas Frank, "With Trump certain to lose, you can forget about a progressive Clinton: Come November, Clinton will have won her great victory - not as a champion of working people's concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all."

Leftists Against Clintonism: It's Not Just About the Lies, It's About the Record [...] But in advocating lesser evilism as a voting strategy, Chomsky often makes another crucial point: That electoral politics should make up only a tiny part of efforts to change society for the better. "The electoral season in the United States, the quadrennial extravaganza, typically tends to draw energy away from activism because people are caught up in the hoopla and the excitement and so on," Chomsky has said, expressing a view similar to that of Adolph Reed, who has frequently noted the problems with "electoralitis." Democrats, for their part, have long been infected by electoralitis; they have come to view the election of more Democrats as an end in itself, not as a means to push for a more equitable society. But, long-term, we must be focused on more than merely defeating Trump; we must also defeat the appeal of Trumpism. For that to happen, we need a strong left with a working class core.

The Great Grift revealed, in "How We Killed the Tea Party: Greedy super PACs drained the movement with endless pleas for money to support 'conservative' candidates - while instead using the money to enrich themselves. I should know. I worked for one of them. "

"The Great White Hype: No One Is Energizing the White Working Class, Not Even Donald Trump [...] Only in the most secure segment of Americans did Pew find that a simple majority planned to support Republican candidates. As financial security decreased, the category that benefited most was not the Democrats, but rather 'OTHER/NOT SURE' - indicating that the person being surveyed was not heavily engaged in the political process, and unlikely to vote."

I was surprised to see in my Twitter feed a flurry of people sneering about Maureen Dowd. This seemed odd, since I thought everyone had quit reading her long ago, just like I had. But then it all became clear: She said something mean about Hillary Clinton. Now, it is not exactly a surprise to have MoDo saying mean things about Hillary Clinton, but this particular mean thing - well, see if you can guess why it so upset them....

Paul Craig Roberts on "The Stench of Raw Propaganda: I just heard the rawest kind of propaganda from former presstitute David Satter, who hangs out at the right-wing Hudson Institute and pretends to be an expert on Russia and Putin. On August 10 Satter told NPR's audience that Washington's hope to bring peace to Syria would fail unless Washington understood that the Russian government had no humanitarian feelings and did not care about the loss of human life. What Washington needs to do, said Satter, was to make sure that Putin and his henchmen understood that they would be held accountable as war criminals. I should be hardened by now, but it never fails to astonish me that agents for the elite are willing to tell the most blatant and transparent lies. Perhaps this is because they know that the media and their fellow bought-and-paid-for 'experts' will not challenge them on their statements. In fact, this is the way explanations are controlled and history rewritten." But there's something perhaps more significant in this piece that bears reading.

"Social Security and the 1 Percent: In February of last year, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report titled The Effect of Rising Inequality on Social Security. The report shows how the increase in economic inequality in the U.S. has led to deteriorating Social Security revenues, often to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a year. Earlier research by Dean Baker showed that the upward redistribution of wage income was responsible for 43.5 percent of the projected 75-year shortfall in Social Security funding as of 2013."

"We're in a Low-Growth World. How Did We Get Here? One central fact about the global economy lurks just beneath the year's remarkable headlines: Economic growth in advanced nations has been weaker for longer than it has been in the lifetime of most people on earth." And it's been like that for the whole 21st century. Strangely, this article does not say it's "because people are underpaid and no one has any money."

"Why does Sanders do better than Clinton against Trump?"

Steven Thrasher in the Guardian, "Hate Trump? You should still hold Clinton's feet to the fire: It will make Hillary Clinton a stronger candidate if she's held accountable for her past and for her actions. Oh, and it's not a vote for Donald Trump."

"Trump's money mystery: Trump is definitely hiding something, but the question is what" - And it's not a bad question since he's been blackballed by every major US bank, I hear.

This is from The Washington Post: "A porous ethical wall between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department"

"'Back in time 60 years': America's most segregated city: Why Milwaukee, far from the Deep South, gets the unwelcome title as the most segregated place in America. "
* "Why Is Milwaukee So Bad For Black People?"

"Policing Class [...] There's a reason why the vast majority of police stops occur in the Western and the Central Districts: the Western is home to Baltimore's poorest black neighborhoods, the Central is home to Baltimore's business district. In effect, the city is producing and reproducing a population that has no functional purpose other than to be policed.

Atrios: "I don't go to DC much anymore. Actually I haven't been for years. For awhile I went fairly regularly for various reasons, including occasionally meeting with people who have a wee bit more power than I'll ever have. I spent some time scheming with one congressional office in particular (whether they valued my input or were just humoring me, they were serious about the issue) about how to keep people who were getting screwed in their homes. It was depressing. This office gave a shit, but nobody (exaggeration, of course) else did, and they couldn't get anything past administration attempts to block anything, or at least let things wither on the vine. One can always argue that legislative fixes just couldn't get the votes, but legislative fixes were necessary only because the administration was sitting on a giant pile of cash (went largely unspent) they had discretion over and plenty of regulatory power they could apply and they weren't doing anything. If stealing homes is basically legal and profitable, people (and companies) will steal homes. That no one could see the importance of this, even without shedding tears for the l000zers who had their homes stolen, was hard to comprehend."
* "Everybody Loves Henry: I'm not always thrilled about various efforts at broadening the coalition - voters or elite - by reaching out to Republicans, though I get the utility, but what advantages are there to publicly embracing Henry Kissinger and Negroponte? Is there a single voter out there who ponders to her/himself, "Well, I was on the fence a bit, but now that those brutal amoral assholes Kissinger and Negroponte are on board, I trust that Clinton will support enough political violence to make me happy?" Well, I'm sure there are a few, but they all write for the Washington Post op-ed pages. DC's a complicated place and I get that strange alliances are formed, but those don't require wearing your giant sized "Henry Approved!" button. This is the moment when someone says, "It doesn't matter. All that matters right now is beating Trump." Okay, fine, and this helps elect Clinton... how? I guess if I fail to mention it then it didn't happen. Blue Nation Review is a lovely happy place."
* "It's About Hating Liberals" - This one is long enough that you should click the link. I mean, long for Atrios, which isn't long.

Adolph Reed, "Vote for the Lying Neoliberal Warmonger: It's Important: An explanation for why defeating Donald Trump - despite what we know about Hillary Clinton - should be the left's primary national electoral objective this November" - I have to admit I lean toward this view for swing-state voters, at least, but I would feel a lot better if everyone was using the bumper-sticker like they did in the Duke-Edwards race.

"Jon Stewart praises Larry Wilmore on last 'Nightly Show': 'Do not confuse cancellation with failure'"

RIP: Alan Legum, "Annapolis civil rights lawyer remembered as fearless, graceful," at 69. Local civil rights people knew who he was, of course. And the liberal blogosphere knows his son Judd.
* R2-D2: "The British actor who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars films has died at the age of 81 after a long illness. Kenny Baker, who was 3ft 8in tall, shot to fame in 1977 when he first played the robot character." He was also in Time Bandits, one of my all time favorites.

In the NYT, Molly Fitzpatrick, "Letter of Recommendation: Fortean Times."

Large rubber duck joins Gnome Liberation Front.

Delighted scientists discover goofy squid (VIDEO)

Photographs from fairy tales
* More fantasy photos

Sheila played the harp on "She's Leaving Home" - she met Paul that time. And 44 years later, she met Ringo.

01:20 GMT comment


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Your day breaks, your mind aches

@samknight1 tweeted this graph with the words, "If you're trying to explain the 2016 election and deliberately ignore this graph please get out of my face forever." Or here's another way to look at it.

Jeremy Corbyn makes the case against privatized government services in the Telegraph, "You don't need to settle for the future the Tories are creating [...] Over the last six years you've been deceived on a scale not seen since Bernie Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme. Time and again you've been told that to build a strong economy we had to tighten our belts and cut public funding. Today we have the utterly self-defeating reality of rapidly declining public services while our debt is going up."

So Joe Lieberman isn't sure who to support in the presidential election. This inspired Marcy Wheeler, who remembers Joe well, to remember this Tom Tomorrow cartoon.

"Don't Get Excited About The Democrats Taking Back The House-- Pelosi's DCCC Has Made That Impossible" - Yes, the DCCC is determined to keep Congress in GOP hands. After all, they can't very well blame an obstructionist Republican Congress if Democrats have control of it, can they?

"Grassroots Democrats Are Making the TPP a Big Issue in Congressional Races [...] Critics of the TPP such as Zephyr Teachout in New York and Pramila Jayapal in Washington have won open congressional primaries in recent weeks. And the dwindling circle of Democratic incumbents with records of support for free-trade agreements, such as Kind, are getting an earful from constituents."

Charles Pierce says, "If Hillary Clinton Seeks (or Accepts) an Endorsement from Henry Kissinger, She's Lost My Vote."
* "Hillary Clinton's Embrace of Kissinger Is Inexcusable: Bernie Sanders should call on her to repudiate him as the war criminal he is. [...] Kissinger is a unique monster. He stands not as a bulwark against Donald Trump's feared recklessness and immorality but as his progenitor. As Richard Nixon's aide-de-camp, Kissinger helped plan and execute a murderous, illegal foreign policy - in Southeast and South Asia, Southern Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America - as reckless and immoral as anything Trump now portends. Millions died as a result of his actions. Kissinger and Nixon threatened to use nuclear weapons, and, indeed, Kissinger helped inscribe the threat of 'limited nuclear war' into doctrine. Kissinger, in the 1970s, not only dug the hole that the greater Middle East finds itself in, but, as an influential cheerleader for both the first Gulf War in 1991 and its 2003 sequel, helped drive the United States into that ditch."

"Frustrated state public defender appoints Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to represent indigent defendant: Fed up with what he says is the governor's failure to properly fund his overwhelmed office, the state's lead public defender ordered Gov. Jay Nixon this week to represent a poor person in Cole County this month. Michael Barrett said he was using a provision of state law that allows him in extraordinary circumstances to delegate legal representation 'to any member of the state bar of Missouri.' He's starting with the state's highest-profile lawyer: Nixon."

The shocking news that AARP has been funding ALEC generated immediate pressure that appears to have convinced AARP that being pals with Alec wasn't a good idea. But they gave a strange excuse for this affiliation: "The letter also revealed that AARP said its 'interest in supporting ALEC was to gain better access to legislators.'" I wonder where that came from - it's hardly as if AARP can't already get access to legislators and has to go through a partisan group that acts directly against its interests.

"Disturbing New Documents Reveal Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen's Allegations of Racial Harassment by Police Co-Workers: Islamophobic workplace intimidation figures into the background of another mass shooter conveniently painted as a jihadist."

"Court Throws Out Terrorism Conviction in Canada, Citing Police Entrapment: Sting operations - in which an undercover agent or informant provides the means and opportunity to lure otherwise incapable people into committing a crime - have represented the default tactic for counterterrorism prosecutions since the 9/11 attacks. Critics believe these stings amount to entrapment. Human Rights Watch, for instance, argues that law enforcement authorities in the U.S. have overstepped their role by 'effectively participating in developing terrorism plots.' Nonetheless, U.S. courts have rejected entrapment defenses, no matter how hapless the defendants. In Canada, however, the legal standing of counterterrorism stings has suddenly shifted. Last week, a high-ranking judge in British Columbia stayed the convictions of two alleged terrorists, ruling that they had been 'skillfully manipulated' and entrapped by an elaborate sting operation organized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police." This needs to start happening in the US. Again.

Katie Halper, "Hillary's Mean Media is Alive and Well: Degradation is a strange looking olive branch."

Is Jill Stein an anti-vaxxer? The Clinton camp keeps saying she is, but Snopes says no.

Dean Baker, "Secret on Orphan Drugs: The Government Could Pay the Other Half of the Price Also"

Another new interview at The Talking Dog, with A. Naomi Paik, "Assistant Professor of Asian American studies at the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. Professor Paik holds a B.A. from Columbia, and an M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University, She is the author of Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in US Prison Camps since World War II. On July 15, 2016, I had the privilege of interviewing Professor Paik by telephone. What follows are my interview notes, as corrected by Naomi Paik."

"Mississippi Police Want to Arrest the Satanists Who Turn Dead People Gay: Just over a week ago the Satanic Temple, unwavering disciples of the Prince of Darkness and aspiring adopt-a-highway participants, performed a Pink Mass over the grave of Catherine Idalette Johnston, the mother of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Jr. Westboro has yet to officially comment on the eternal gaying of its leader's dead mom, but the owner of the cemetery where the ceremony was performed has filed charges with the local police department."

Obama Expands the ISIS Bombing Campaign to a 4th Country, the Media Barely Notice: What began two years ago as 'limited' air strikes in Iraq now includes Syria, Afghanistan, and Libya - all with little public debate."

"Venezuela's Latest Terrible Economic Idea Is Forced Labor: Venezuela is mired in a years-long economic free fall that has killed a lot of people, and which is in the process of killing a lot more. Last week, the humanitarian catastrophe there got one of its darkest twists yet: The government of president Nicolás Maduro has, in a new decree, paved the way for the conscription of the nation's citizens into forced labor."

RIP: "Jack Davis, Part of Mad Magazine's Usual Gang of Idiots, Dies at 91"
* "MAD Remembers Jack Davis, Artist"

Dean Baker, "Thomas Friedman Gives Hillary Clinton Economic Advice, Gets Confused."
* Bill Black, "Thomas Friedman's Big Idea for Hillary: Embrace Wall Street and Deregulation"
* Matt Taibbi, "Thomas Friedman Goes to the Wall: High priest of globalization lashes out against the enemies of progress [...] It's been a whole week since the convention, and Hillary still hasn't yet gone back to being the unabashed friend to big banks and staunch advocate for free trade and deregulation she just spent all of last year pretending she was not. This has Friedman freaked out."

"Half of Americans below or near poverty line: The Census Bureau says 15 percent of the country is living in poverty, but the reality is much worse."

Ryan Cooper in The Week: "To end police violence, we have to end poverty: The movement against American racism recently got a big boost from a new project called "Campaign Zero." The racial justice activists behind Campaign Zero hope that by reforming the police and courts, and improving community oversight, they can eliminate unjust police violence. This is a promising and important agenda. However, it's worth examining what a narrow focus on police violence risks leaving out. Economic factors, particularly poverty, are deeply entwined with racist outcomes and police violence. To truly fight racism, we have to fight poverty, too."

David Dayen, "The Clinton Presidency Is Already Taking Shape. Will the Left Have a Voice? The transition process is shrouded in secrecy. And progressives are having bad Obama flashbacks."

"If Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are 'Progressive,' Then the Word Has Lost All Meaning [...] So why are so many liberal writers so anxious to persuade us that, deep in his heart of hearts, Tim Kaine is, too, a progressive? Probably there's a desire to exaggerate Kaine's progressivism because Hillary's own progressive bona fides are questionable. But mostly it seems that today, the progressive label has become little more than a marketing tool, a signifier deployed to distract us from that the actual content of the signified. How did we arrive at this sad state of affairs?"

Jon Schwarz, "Cracks in the Dam: Three Paths Citizens United Created for Foreign Money to Pour Into U.S. Elections"

"US Doctors Call for Universal Healthcare: "Abolish the Insurance Companies": A group of more than 2,000 physicians is calling for the establishment of a universal government-run health system in the US, in a paper in the American Journal of Public Health. According to the proposal released Thursday, the Affordable Care Act did not go far enough in removing barriers to healthcare access. The physicians' bold plan calls for implementing a single-payer system similar to Canada's, called the National Health Program, that would guarantee all residents healthcare."

Los Angeles Times op-ed: "Bernie Sanders: I support Hillary Clinton. So should everyone who voted for me."

CEPR Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Fact Sheet 2016

What I remember most about the announcement that pregnancy test kits would be sold in stores was an outcry from lab techs to the effect that performing these tests required training and skill and women would not be able to do them. Since I had been doing these tests at a clinic with about 30 seconds' training (the time it takes to do the test), that gave me a good laugh. Pagan Kennedy in the NYT provides a little history: "Could Women Be Trusted With Their Own Pregnancy Tests?"

"The Price of Access: More than 100 Americans Are Rich Enough to Buy the Presidential Election Outright"

"On causes of Brexit: There's something about the post-Brexit autopsies that I'm not entirely happy with. It's the failure to distinguish between the margin and the infra-margin."

Ted Rall: "Everyone Is Voting For Trump"

"Make Algorithms Accountable: Companies use them to sort through stacks of résumés from job seekers. Credit agencies use them to determine our credit scores. And the criminal justice system is increasingly using algorithms to predict a defendant's future criminality. Those computer-generated criminal 'risk scores' were at the center of a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision that set the first significant limits on the use of risk algorithms in sentencing. The court ruled that while judges could use these risk scores, the scores could not be a 'determinative' factor in whether a defendant was jailed or placed on probation. And, most important, the court stipulated that a presentence report submitted to the judge must include a warning about the limits of the algorithm's accuracy."

Environmentalist Bill McKibben is being stalked: "And yet, for all that logic, I still find myself on edge. To be watched so much is a kind of never-ending nightmare. And sometimes it's just infuriating. I skipped the funeral this summer of Patrick Sorrento, an important mentor to me at my college newspaper, because I didn't want my minder to follow me and cause a distracting spectacle. When my daughter reports someone taking pictures of her at the airport, it drives me nuts. I have no idea if it's actually this outfit; common decency would suggest otherwise, but that seems an increasingly rare commodity."

"Three Words That I Wish I'd Never Hear Democrats Say Again: Speaking of poor whites - or any impoverished population - as a 'separate breed' conveniently allows us to skirt solutions to help lift them out of poverty. What I experienced when I went to see my family was not racial resentment, but an overall despair and paralysis. They know how bad their lot is, but they simply can't afford to move to start a new life. It wasn't racism that angered the 'hillbillies,' but a recognition that there was simply no future for them in the American scheme, and the fact that a wealth-obsessed American society, increasingly stratified in rich enclaves, has utterly abandoned them to their fate."

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: "Want to avoid recession? Then shower UK households with cash: The economy is in dire need of a jump start - cutting interest rates has failed miserably. So instead give money to people who would actually spend it."

Bradblog, "DHS Seeks to Protect U.S. Election Infrastructure - But Is That Even Possible?"

"'I Feel Betrayed': Bernie Supporters' Stories of DNC Mistreatment" - The DNC really did go out of their way to treat Sanders delegates shabbily, but they kept smearing them, too.

Richard J. Eskow, "American Greed: Trump's Economic Team Is a Who's Who of What's Wrong. [...] Trump's team isn't just monochromatic and male. At least four, and perhaps as many six, of the men are billionaires. They range in age from 50 to 74 - or, from 'younger old white guy' to 'older old white guy.' Five team members are named Steve - which means that eight of them are not. For diversity, that will have to do. There are only two economists on the team - and one of them believes in the flat tax. But hedge funds are represented. So is fracking. And tobacco. And guns. And banking. And steel. And there's the guy who mismanaged Chrysler before it was rescued by a government intervention."

Whatever else I may think of Penn Jillette's politics, I share his lack of patience with people who try to guilt-trip people about their third-party vote.

I haven't read it since I don't like the format and was never that crazy about the show, but someone wrote a script for The 911 episode of Seinfeld.

Nice mock-up comic cover for the episode of Supergirl in which Kara runs with the Flash.

Cheese or Font? Play the game! Or maybe you see it as a quiz....

THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK - THE TOURING YEARS. Official UK Trailer

"Why Revolver still matters: The 50th anniversary of a Beatles masterpiece: The band's 1966 album was so eclectic it seems on the verge of exploding."

I'm told that a lot of Beatles music has been pulled from YouTube all of a sudden, but I can still see this so I hope you can, too - a version of Paul doing "For No One" with an American accent.

16:01 GMT comment


Wednesday, 03 August 2016

I'll never know what made it so exciting

Comments on the conventions are below, but here's what Bernie told Bill Maher Friday night.

Important bit of journalism that started with Sirota and the IBT seems to have led to a truly enormous piece of news: "U.S. antitrust officials set to challenge Anthem, Aetna deals: source: U.S. antitrust officials will file lawsuits to stop the two large health insurance deals they have been scrutinizing for a year, Anthem Inc's (ANTM.N) acquisition of Cigna Corp (CI.N) and Aetna Inc's (AET.N) takeover of Humana Inc (HUM.N), a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. Antitrust regulators have been concerned that consolidation of the nation's largest insurers would raise prices for Americans. Anthem and Aetna have said the deals will help consumers by giving the companies the scale to create more cost savings for customers." And here I was waiting for their merged company to be called "AnathemA". But at least it's being looked into. It would be nice to think we can go back to doing some serious trust-busting again.

"Munich Shooter Considered Himself Aryan, Admired Hitler and Breivik. No Wonder the Media Has Moved On: Sonboly was influenced by right-wing ideology, but German and U.S. media have cast him as just another shooter."

David Dayen, "Trouble for the TPP: Business groups' desperate PR campaign signals possible failure for trade deal: The fact that business groups are spending millions to influence pols to pass TPP shows the pact is in jeopardy " That would be great. Keep the pressure on.

Department of Nice Surprise: I don't expect much from Terry McAuliffe, but this is pretty good: "Governor McAuliffe Statement on the Virginia Supreme Court Decision on the Restoration of Civil Rights: Once again, the Virginia Supreme Court has placed Virginia as an outlier in the struggle for civil and human rights. It is a disgrace that the Republican leadership of Virginia would file a lawsuit to deny more than 200,000 of their own citizens the right to vote. And I cannot accept that this overtly political action could succeed in suppressing the voices of many thousands of men and women who had rejoiced with their families earlier this year when their rights were restored. Forty states give citizens who have made mistakes and paid their debt to society a straightforward process for restoring voting rights. I remain committed to moving past our Commonwealth's history of injustice to embrace an honest process for restoring the rights of our citizens, and I believe history and the vast majority of Virginians are on our side. Despite the Court's ruling, we have the support of the state's four leading constitutional experts, including A.E. Dick Howard, who drafted the current Virginia Constitution. They are convinced that our action is within the constitutional authority granted to the Office of the Governor. The men and women whose voting rights were restored by my executive action should not be alarmed. I will expeditiously sign nearly 13,000 individual orders to restore the fundamental rights of the citizens who have had their rights restored and registered to vote. And I will continue to sign orders until I have completed restoration for all 200,000 Virginians. My faith remains strong in all of our citizens to choose their leaders, and I am prepared to back up that faith with my executive pen. The struggle for civil rights has always been a long and difficult one, but the fight goes on."
* Don't worry, he reverted to type to pump for the TPP immediately.

"Texas Voter ID Law Violates Voting Rights Act, Court Rules: Texas' voter identification law violates the U.S. law prohibiting racial discrimination in elections, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed previous rulings that the 2011 voter ID law - which stipulates the types of photo identification election officials can and cannot accept at the polls - does not comply with the Voting Rights Act."

"Breaking and Analysis: Partially Divided 4th Circuit Strikes NC Strict Voting Law, Finds Discriminatory Intent" - Interestingly, one of the citations included was this Aasif Manvi interview from The Daily Show.

Ari Berman in The Nation, "6 Major GOP Voting Restrictions Have Been Blocked in 2 Weeks: The Republican war on voting rights is backfiring." The language has been pretty sharp, too. Ari talked about it with Sam Seder on The Majority Report.

"Flint, Michigan, Now Has Nobody Collecting the City's Garbage" - er, the mayor is a Democrat.

"Obama Signs Industry-Backed GMO Label Bill Into Law: Looks like we're finally getting GMO labels on food products - just not the kind you can actually read. " The bill "allows businesses to use a smartphone scannable QR code instead of clear, concise wording that informs consumers if a product contains genetically modified ingredients." It also nullifies state laws on labeling.

Apparently, Clinton decided to forgo assassination insurance and produced a very short list of horrible choices for her understudy (including Vilsack and this guy), and then picked Tim Kaine, and no one was jumping for joy.
* "Making the Case to Clinton: Tim Kaine, Campaigning for VP, Calls For Deregulating Banks"

"Democrats Add Major Abortion Rights Pledge To Proposed Platform: The platform draft supports a repeal of the Helms Amendment, which blocks abortion access for women abroad."

"Why Is President Obama Lying About Patrick Murphy's Record?: The TV spot targeting African-American voters in Tallahassee and Jacksonville that Obama cut for Patrick Murphy's drowning Senate primary campaign puts the president's credibility dangerously on the line. Murphy's record in the House is unquestionably one of the most reactionary and blatantly anti-progressive of any Democrat serving in the House. He has been an unabashed advocate for cutting Social Security and Medicare, an unflinching ally of Wall Street and payday loan predators and a consistent backer of Republican initiatives against the environment and, in fact, against the Obama administration itself. "

"Obama To Police: 'We Have Your Backs'; Yes, the President of the United States, in the aftermath of the police murders in Dallas and Baton Rouge, has gotten off the fence. Up to now, he spoke in irreconcilable tones in an effort to offend no one, no side, by arguing that police were needlessly killing black men while praising the police for the great job they were doing, when he just said the job they were doing was needlessly killing black men."

Dean Baker: "NYT Does Impassioned Pitch for TPP in Its News Section: "It is incredible that the NYT tried to present the current debate as a narrow one over traditional issues of trade and protection. This is obviously not the case and there are no shortage of experts who could have explained this fact to its reporter. A good place to start would be the Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, who also happens to be a NYT columnist. Joe Stiglitz, another Nobel Prize winning economist, could have also explained the nature of these trade agreements to its reporter."

It seems Scotland and Ireland can veto Brexit. We'll have to see what happens,there.

A journalist for the WSJ encounters Homeland Security at LAX: "But then she asked me for my two cellphones. I asked her what she wanted from them. 'We want to collect information' she said, refusing to specify what kind. And that is where I drew the line -- I told her I had first amendment rights as a journalist she couldn't violate and I was protected under. I explained I had to protect my government and military sources -- over the last month, I have broken two stories that deeply irked the US government, in addition to other stories before I went on maternity leave, including one in Kabul that sparked a Congressional investigation into US military corruption, all stories leaked by American officials speaking to me in confidence. 'Did you just admit you collect information for foreign governments?' she asked, her tone turning hostile. 'No, that's exactly not what I just said,' I replied, explaining again why I would not hand over my phones. She handed me a DHS document, a photo of which I've attached. It basically says the US government has the right to seize my phones and my rights as a US citizen (or citizen of the world) go out the window. This law applies at any point of entry into the US, whether naval, air or land and extends for 100 miles into the US from the border or formal points of entry. So, all of NY city for instance. If they forgot to ask you at JFK airport for your phones, but you're having a drink in Manhattan the next day, you technically fall under this authority. And because they are acting under the pretense to protect the US from terrorism, you have to give it up. So I called their bluff."

"Would Turkey Be Justified in Kidnapping or Drone-Killing the Turkish Cleric in Pennsylvania?: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan places the blame for this weekend's failed coup attempt on an Islamic preacher and one-time ally, Fethullah Gulen (above), who now resides in Pennsylvania with a green card. Erdogan is demanding the U.S. extradite Gulen, citing prior extraditions by the Turkish government of terror suspects demanded by the U.S.: 'Now we're saying deliver this guy who's on our terrorist list to us.' Erdogan has been requesting Gulen's extradition from the U.S. for at least two years, on the ground that he has been subverting the Turkish government while harbored by the U.S. Thus far, the U.S. is refusing, with Secretary of State John Kerry demanding of Turkey: 'Give us the evidence, show us the evidence. We need a solid legal foundation that meets the standard of extradition.'"

"Jeremy Corbyn Study Claims TV And Online News 'Persistently' Biased Against Labour Leader"

"Saudi Ties to 9/11 Detailed in Documents Suppressed Since 2002."

An After School Satan Club could be coming to your kid's elementary school [...] They're here plotting to bring their wisdom to the nation's public elementary school children. They point out that Christian evangelical groups already have infiltrated the lives of America's children through after-school religious programming in public schools, and they appear determined to give young students a choice: Jesus or Satan."

The Talking Dog interview with Pardiss Kebriaei, "a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she works on challenging U.S. government abuses in the national security context, including representation of current and former Guantanamo detainees, and others implicated in or affected by the "war on terror." She also advocates on behalf of other cases as part of the No Separate Justice Campaign, a grassroots initiative formed to shed light on unjust domestic terrorism prosecutions."

Michael Moore thinks Trump will win. His reasons are not that crazy, but I still don't think he will. Yes, I realize it was a total screw-up for the DNC to court another election that's closer than it ought to be, but a lot of people really don't like Trump. Nevertheless, a word of warning: Clinton and her cronies have earned themselves a lot of ill-feeling from people who they could have made allies if they had wanted to, and decisions like that do not generate respect for her integrity or her decision-making.

The RNC had their convention and everyone ended up talking about how "Melania's Plagiarism Actually Just Shows How Vapid Political Speeches Are" so no one would notice how neatly Michelle Obama's words fit into a GOP convention: "Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond... Because we want our children and all children in this nation - to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them." As opposed to all those lazy poor people who don't get to the White House.
* I saw an announcement that "GOP Platform to Call for Reinstatement of Glass-Steagall" but when I tried to find it in the Platform it made me fall asleep.
* I had Trump's speech on in the background and it was all over the place. The weirdest part was at the end where he started saying a bunch of liberal-sounding stuff. This kind of thing is inspiring Thomas Frank to write a warning: "Hillary Clinton Needs to Wake Up. Trump Is Stealing the Voters She Takes for Granted: For the first time in living memory, the Republicans are outflanking the Democrats on the left. If they don't rise to the challenge, they'll be trounced [...] The question we need to ask is this: what are the consequences of the violent disruption Trump has visited on our delicately balanced political system? Look what he has done. He has dynamited the free-trade consensus that dominated Washington for so many years, he has done it with force, and in the process he has made himself the choice of many millions of Americans who have watched their economic situation deteriorate and heard their concerns brushed off by the Thomas Friedmans and the Bill Clintons of the world. Think about it this way. For years, Republican orthodoxy on trade made possible endless Democratic sell-outs of working people, with the two-party consensus protecting the D's from any consequences. They could ram Nafta through Congress, they could do trade deals with China, they could negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership, they could attend their conferences at Davos and congratulate themselves for being so global and so enlightened, secure in the belief that the people whose livelihoods they had just ruined had 'nowhere else to go'. [...] In other words, it was only possible for our liberal leaders to be what they are - a tribe of sunny believers in globalization and its favored classes - as long as the Republicans held down their left flank for them. Democrats could only celebrate globalization's winners and scold its uneducated losers so long as there was no possibility that they might face a serious challenge on the matter from the other party in the system."
* "Jon Stewart's Closing Monologue on The Late Show is a Must-Watch."

And then the Democrats had their convention. The press focused on acrimony and Clintonites in social media obediently ranted at their friends about how stupid they were for still daring to criticize The Nominee. Then suddenly the DNC emails story breaks in the mainstream and the Clinton/DNC team (which we know were one and the same) are working heavy damage control, trying to blame the Russians while continuing to accuse Sanders supporters of originating strong language and conspiracy theories. But eventually the DNC had to admit the emails were genuine and apologized to Sanders, and even Harry Reid admitted that, "I knew - everybody knew - that this was not a fair deal." Well, we knew that. We all knew that, the minute we found out about the Democratic debate schedule. An awful lot of people seem to have forgotten how important the primary season is for creating new party activists who may ultimately evolve into your bench of future candidates. Anyone who pretends to care about downticket races yet nevertheless defends DWS' debate schedule is talking crap, because the debates are a big deal in generating excitement for the current race that turns into activism and leadership. In 2007, the debates started in April and there were 13 events before October, and 13 more after that. It generated A LOT of interest and excitement for the party. In 2015, Debbie Wasserman Schultz decreed that there would be only six debates (eventually adding a few more only because Clinton agreed, though she backed out of the promised California debate), and the first of these was not held until October 13th. So the DNC wasted an entire summer season and rather than generating enthusiasm, alienated numerous new activists who might otherwise have become reliable party activists, voters, and possibly future leaders. Now, you can say this was because the fix was in for Hillary, or you can say, "Of course they did, they hate liberal progressives and don't want them in the party in the first place," but you can't say the primaries weren't rigged. Of course they were.
* "Bernie Sanders to Return to Senate as an Independent: Democratic runner-up says more DNC staff should leave over emails."
* The Republicans got the traditional bump from their convention, bringing Trump up to parity or better with Clinton in many polls, but the Dem convention seems to have more than erased that effect and now she is looking good for November.

Oh, you know how in recent years every protest demonstration at a political convention seems to result in large numbers of outrageously out-of-order arrests? Didn't' have that in Philly. "Here's What Philly Cops Thought of the DNC Protests: We don't know if we can handle all of these good vibes."

Unsurprisingly, Trump actually got a bump from the GOP convention and a lot of people got into a frenzy because he was running so close to Clinton, but then Clinton got an even bigger bump.
* RCP Trump-Clinton electoral vote map
* Electoral-Vote.com map
* If nothing "interesting" happens, Hillary will probably win pretty big. On the other hand, that could all go topsy-turvey in the event of the economy tanking again.

The scam of the Clinton Victory Fund was also exposed for all to see, showing that all that money people thought they were giving to downticket races and local parties (because the campaign said it was) was actually going straight to Clinton. Matt Taibbi: "What does it all mean? If you're a Clinton fan, probably nothing. To anyone else, it shows that the primary season was very far from a fair fight. The Sanders camp was forced to fund all of its own operations, while the Clinton campaign could essentially use the entire Democratic Party structure as adjunct staff. The DNC not only wasn't neutral, but helped with oppo research against Sanders and media crisis management. DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign as a result of this mess, which exposed to Sanders voters the extent to which they were viewed organizationally as annoyances to be managed. The immediate question going forward for the party is whether the two camps can put aside their differences in time to defeat the more-than-a-little-scary Donald Trump. But down the road, someone will have to address the problem of a Democratic Party structure that effectively had no internal advocates for a full 43 percent of its voters. As we've seen with the Trump episode on the other side, people don't much like having to fight against the party claiming to represent them."

Anyway, Sandernistas were pretty upset and in no mood to forgive, a few of them even booed Bernie for being a turncoat for going along with the party and speaking for Clinton and all. It was less of a big deal than the press made it out to be, but there was still a lot of grumbling. But inside the hall it was mostly business as usual except for a few moments when the warhawks decided to shout down the peacenicks with "USA! USA!" Which sounds so much less jingoistic when Democrats do it, right? No.
* Here's Elizabeth Warren's speech, where she points out that DC has no problem with partisan gridlock when it comes to giving the bad guys what they want. And here's Bernie's.
* Obama made his speech and I swear it sounded like he was biting back a laugh when he talked about how hard Clinton has fought for working people. Listening to him and Biden talk about how wonderful Clinton is and her sincere commitment to teachers and families was pretty bitter brew for me, but a lot of my friends professed to be in tears and wishing for four more years.

On Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman moderated a discussion between two left-progressives on how to deal with it all, a conversation you are unlikely to hear elsewhere, at least with such civility: "Kshama Sawant vs. Rebecca Traister on Clinton, Democratic Party & Possibility of a Female President." A pullquote: "So, if you look at the significance of her being the first female nominee, I understand the appeal of that, I'm sympathetic to that. But here's what I would say. I actually - you know, all throughout this campaign season, I was reminded of a show - an episode that you played, Amy, in 2008, when you had Melissa Harris-Perry and Gloria Steinem debating, and Gloria was saying, "Well, if you're a woman, you need to vote for Hillary Clinton," and Melissa was saying, "Well, if you're a person of color, you need to vote for Obama." And I was sitting there watching as a woman of color, saying neither of these candidates represent my interests as a woman of color. And the reason I say that is it has less to do with their identity and far more to do with the interests they represent."

"Obama the Conservative: Little Hope For Change: A Summary Of The Bush-Obama Legacy"

"Clinton, Sanders, the American Principle of Association (and Fascism)"

So. Is this really An election of and for Class?

Ted Rall on "The Logic of Lesser Evilism"

A number of progressives are just throwing up their hands: "I have come to terms with the fact that the Republicans will eventually get the White House. They always do at some point. It's inevitable. The Supreme Court is always an issue, as is abortion, as is every single important social issue you can name. There will never come an election where those are not issues. And I've come to realize why it is that when we give you Democrats the ball on all of this, you drop it every time in the name of 'bipartisanship'. It's because you like things the way they are, no less than the Republicans, and pretending to give a damn about social issues will keep us voting for you like robots every time. But you can't afford to actually fix the problems because then you wouldn't be able to scare us into voting for you. You don't even really want to fix those problems. You have just as much contempt and hatred for the peasantry, for civil rights, for democracy, as do the Republicans, and you only pretend to care because it's a convenient tool to get people to vote for you without thinking."

"Can America's deep political divide be traced back to 1832?"

"Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors: POGO's study analyzed the total compensation paid to federal and private sector employees, and annual billing rates for contractor employees across 35 occupational classifications covering over 550 service activities. Our findings were shocking - POGO estimates the government pays billions more annually in taxpayer dollars to hire contractors than it would to hire federal employees to perform comparable services."

Argentina's Painful Return to 'Economic Orthodoxy'

"IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro and apologises for the immolation of Greece: The International Monetary Fund's top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory. This is the lacerating verdict of the IMF's top watchdog on the fund's tangled political role in the eurozone debt crisis, the most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions. It describes a 'culture of complacency', prone to 'superficial and mechanistic' analysis, and traces a shocking breakdown in the governance of the IMF, leaving it unclear who is ultimately in charge of this extremely powerful organisation."

"Get out your wallets, America: It might not be long before we're bailing out 'too big to fail' banks again: Despite assurances that things changed after 2008, banks are bigger, less transparent and riskier than ever." Wouldn't it be amazing if Hillary Clinton nationalized the banks and arrested those guys at the top who... nah, that's never gonna happen.

You probably have to log in to Facebook to read these, but if you can stand to:
* I know we're not supposed to acknowledge it, but Republican operatives do own and control most of the electronic voting machines in the country. Is it just possible that they could be fixing the results? In this Excerpt from 'An Electoral System In Crisis', Election Justice USA says it looks like they are.
* Blue America says, "'Party Unity' is a Two Way Street" - and Steve Israel et al. are once again doing their best to sabotage the Democratic candidate because she resoundingly beat "some guy" they dug up to try to defeat the grassroots candidate in the primary, and she won anyway. "His Wall Street-backed candidate, Bill Golderer, who was overwhelmingly rejected by all the Democratic and allied organizations in the district, brought in $375,402 for the primary. Israel's negative onslaught made it impossible for Mary Ellen to spend even $50,000. But local Democrats decided to stand up and tell the DCCC what to do with their candidate and their attempt to take over PA-07. On primary night Mary Ellen beat Golderer and the DCCC by a stunning 51,525 (73.8%) to 18,276 (26.2%). The DCCC immediately removed all mentions of PA-07 from their boards and website. They removed Golderer from Red to Blue of course but didn't replace him with Mary Ellen. They just decided to pretend that the once "must-win" district no longer exists-- like Pelosi's sometime mantra. 'When women win, America wins.' [...] And it isn't just Mary Ellen's campaign being singled out and targeted by the DCCC. Nope, while Pelosi's political arm prepares to spend tens of millions of dollars to rescue the failing careers of incumbents hated by Democratic voters-- like Collin Peterson and Brad Ashord, each of whom votes far more with the GOP on core issues than with the Democrats-- the DCCC has adamantly refused to get behind progressives like Mary Ellen who have already won their primaries and will face Republicans in November." If you have extra dosh to help grassroots candidates, follow the links.

Also on FB, a provocative piece from C'helle Egalite Griffin: "We know what Donald Trump has promised to do. He has promised to build a wall between the US and Mexico. Clinton, though, has actually supported deportations of workers and the harassment of Mexican people under a banner of "immigration reform." We know Donald Trump likes to talk about warring against Muslims; Clinton, though, has actually destroyed Muslim countries and incited--yes, incited, and not coincidentally--sectarian violence in those countries. We know Donald Trump likes to talk about taking food stamps out of poor parents' hands and making them "get off their asses." Clinton, though, has actually taken food stamps and other assistance away from the poor."

Glenn Greenwald: "One of the things that is bothering me and bothered me about the Brexit debate, and is bothering me a huge amount about the Trump debate, is that there is zero elite reckoning with their own responsibility in creating the situation that led to both Brexit and Trump and then the broader collapse of elite authority. The reason why Brexit resonated and Trump resonated isn't that people are too stupid to understand the arguments. The reason they resonated is that people have been so fucked by the prevailing order in such deep and fundamental and enduring ways that they can't imagine that anything is worse than preservation of the status quo."

Eric Levitz in New York Magazine, "Liberals Need to Stop Writing Off Non-College Educated Workers - Before the White Working Class Writes Off Liberals: To retain the party's current share of the demographic, Democrats will need to make their economic pitch more salient than the right-wing's nationalist appeals. There are many ways to go about this task. But a good first step would be to stop insinuating that non-college educated workers are destined to live miserable lives because their skills are obsolete."

"How an obscure adviser to Pat Buchanan predicted the wild Trump campaign in 1996:
[S]ooner or later, as the globalist elites seek to drag the country into conflicts and global commitments, preside over the economic pastoralization of the United States, manage the delegitimization of our own culture, and the dispossession of our people, and disregard or diminish our national interests and national sovereignty, a nationalist reaction is almost inevitable and will probably assume populist form when it arrives. The sooner it comes, the better... [Samuel Francis in Chronicles]"

Lee Camp reckons Bernie really won the primaries. Well, I don't know about that, but what I do know is that, yes, there's no reason to trust the results of hackable electronic voting machines. And it's worrying that so many Democratic voters mysteriously discovered when they went to vote that their registrations had been changed in recent months - and that one woman who went to court to challenge that change was able to prove that her signature had been forged. How does that happen?

Ha-Joon Chang: Economics Is For Everyone!

70 Years Ago Today, WWII Vets Took Up Arms Against Corrupt Cops and Ran Them Out of Town

This blast from the past from Matt Stoller is a grim reminder: "Understanding the Strategy of the Democratic Power Class"

Pearls Before Swine on the campaign trail

Member of Gnome Liberation Front returns from drunken holiday.

"Do You Eat Like a Republican or a Democrat?" - take the test. I did, and it was annoying, because I wouldn't order either of those pizzas (not enough cheese, for one thing), and in a lot of other cases the answer is, "Which one did I have last time?" Also, do I have to have my BLT on brown bread with Romaine lettuce instead of white toast with iceberg? I've never had a summer roll but I'd be happy to try one - but that doesn't mean I don't eat egg rolls.

RIP: "Marni Nixon, 86: The 'ghost' who sang for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, for Deborah Kerr in The King and I and for Natalie Wood in West Side Story."
* Here she is back on the day on To Tell the Truth, and here she is looking back.

Michael Dirda gave Lucy Sussex a really good review in the WaPo for Blockbuster! Fergus Hume & the Mystery of a Hansom Cab, the story behind the best selling crime novel of the 19th century.

Trailer for Zhang Yimou's The Great Wall

Dr. Seuss' Secret Art Collection Finally Goes On View

Amsterdam Tunnel Lined with 80,000 Delft Blue Tiles

Brass Dragon

23:54 GMT comment


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 Trum