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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 theWashington 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


Avedon Carol at The Sideshow, Spetember 2016


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