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Avedon Carol presents:

The Sideshow

My motto as I live and learn is: dig and be dug in return. -- Langston Hughes
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Sunday, 09 July 2017

This happened once before....

Everyone will tell you radiotherapy is fatiguing. Oh, gods, it bloody is!

I still have idiots in my feeds making up nonsense about how "the left" and Bernie Sanders "ignore" race and gender issues or want to pretend they don't exist or something. These are often accompanied by pictures of either Hillary surrounded by black people or Bernie speaking to largely white crowds. A few weeks back I was sufficiently annoyed by this that I started googling around for pictures of Sanders around people who weren't white, and noticed an interesting thing: Even when he was speaking to black crowds, there were few press pictures of him with attendees. And what pictures the press had published were usually tight-focused on just his face. Are there even photos of him speaking at the Apollo? I never saw them. (Apparently, the press didn't go to the Apollo. They went to another event where he spoke the same day at which they felt more comfortable - one out in the 'burbs where all those big stadiums are, and the crowds are mostly white. Then they complained that the crowd was white.) It's not easy to find pictures of him when he spoke at the NAACP, either. But I did find a couple of shots worth keeping around to remind people that the "black people don't like Bernie" crowd is not reality-based. Like this one, and like this one.
* In any event, there's that other canard, the one about Sanders supporters, but there is already plenty to debunk "BernieBro" mythology, just as there was a year ago, such as, "Sanders supporters are the least racist."

People are disturbed that Trump wants personal loyalty. I thought it was pretty scary back in 2007 when people in the White House thought they swore an oath to the president. I wonder if they actually did. But let's not pretend this "loyalty" thing is new. Party operatives always act like loyalty to the president is more important than policy or the oath to the Constitution. It was overt with Bush, and it was an entire party culture with Obama. No reason Trump wouldn't want the same thing.

As if flying isn't horrible enough already, "New TSA Policy May Lead to Increased Scrutiny of Reading Material: The TSA is testing new requirements that passengers remove books and other paper goods from their carry-on baggage when going through airline security. Given the sensitivity of our reading choices, this raises privacy concerns."

"Democrats Help Corporate Donors Block California Health Care Measure, And Progressives Lose Again: As Republican lawmakers grapple with their unpopular bill to repeal Obamacare, Democrats have tried to present a united front on health care. But for all their populist rhetoric against insurance and drug companies, Democratic powerbrokers and their allies remain deeply divided on the issue - to the point where a political civil war has spilled into the open in America's largest state."
* "Planned Parenthood Supports Shelving Single-Payer (Again)."

You know how sometimes you hear someone say "any Democrat is better than any Republican"? Well, sometimes it's just not true. "Sometimes House Democrats Are So Bad That It Doesn't Pay To Waste Resources Trying To Save Them-- Orlando Blue Dog Stephanie Murphy."
* Howie did a great Reddit thread discussing how to create elective victories for progressives. The first order of business does seem to be defeating sabotage by the Democratic Party.

"Elizabeth Warren: It's time for Democrats to run on single-payer health care: Elizabeth Warren suggests that the Democratic Party adopt the progressive agenda, including a single-payer plan. [...] 'President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts,' she told The Wall Street Journal in an interview last week. 'Now it's time for the next step. And the next step is single payer.'"

I was delighted to see headlines the other day that four Barclays execs are being prosecuted. But I'm curious about how it's happening this late at all, what with statutes of limitations and all that. Still hasn't been explained to me, but Atrios asks the important question: "Who, exactly, did they piss off?"

Marcy Wheeler, "Democrats Need A Plan For National Voter Protection [...] The House Appropriations Committee just defunded the Election Assistance Commission, which is the only federal entity to help states prevent getting hacked. The head of Trump's 'Election Integrity' Commission, Kris Kobach - fresh off court sanctions for lying to a court - sent a letter to all the Secretaries of State, asking them for their voting rolls (including party affiliation). And then Trump named the loathsome Hans Van Spaskovsky, who has a history of suppressing the vote of people of color, to the Commission. It's probably no accident all this is happening as Trump and Mitch McConnell try to force through a massively unpopular change to ObamaCare. By making showy plans to cheat on a national scale, the Administration may be reassuring Republicans they can keep their job even by selling out their constituents in favor of a tax cut for the wealthy. They'll just do it by cheating even more obviously than they have in the past."

Atrios also quotes from a useful critique of the party leadership: "If you are a Democrat and think Ossoff blew an opportunity and fear more of the same in 2018, you need the DCCC's theory of the electorate to improve." (There's more.)

"Cops Sent Warrant To Facebook To Dig Up Dirt On Woman Whose Boyfriend They Had Just Killed: Everything anyone has ever said about staying safe while interacting with the police is wrong. That citizens are told to comport themselves in complete obeisance just to avoid being beaten or shot by officers is itself bizarre -- an insane inversion of the term 'public servant.' But Philando Castile, who was shot five times and killed by (now former) Officer Jeronimo Yanez, played by all the rules (which look suspiciously like the same instructions given to stay 'safe' during an armed robbery). It didn't matter. [...] To 'win' at killing citizens, you must start the spin immediately. Yanez spun his own, speaking to a lawyer less than two hours after killing Castile. Local law enforcement did the same thing. Documents obtained by Tony Webster show Special Agent Bill O'Donnell issued a warrant to Facebook for 'all information retained' by the company on Diamond Reynolds, Castile's girlfriend. This was to include all email sent or received by that account, as well as 'chat logs,' which presumably means the content of private messages. The warrant also demands any communications that may have been deleted by Reynolds, as well as metadata on photos or videos uploaded to Facebook. It came accompanied with an indefinite gag order. [...] The only upside -- and it's incredibly small given the surrounding circumstances -- is Facebook refused to hand over the information on the grounds that the indefinite gag order was unconstitutional. Faced with this pushback, Minnesota police withdrew the warrant. But in the end, Yanez was acquitted and Philando Castile is still dead -- a man who did nothing more than try to comply with an officer's orders."

A "study" was released that purported to "prove" that the $15 minimum wage in Seattle hurt employment. It used an unreliable control group and it completely ignored chains, but there you are. Econospeak debunks: "Words cannot describe the torment experienced by the data before they confessed what the University of Washington team got them to confess. I can only urge readers with an open mind to study Table 3 carefully. The average wage increase, from the second quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2016, for all employees of single site establishments was 18 percent. Eighteen percent! That is an annual increase of almost 8 percent. For two and a quarter years in a row. Not bad. And the number of hours worked of ALL employees of single site establishments? Up 18 percent in a little over two years. That too is an increase of almost 8 percent per annum."

Glenn Greenwald has been saying for months that it's important to wait for facts from reliable sources before running with a story. Just about everyone forgot to do that, caught up in a partisan frenzy. "CNN Journalists Resign: Latest Example of Media Recklessness on the Russia Threat: Three prominent CNN journalists resigned Monday night after the network was forced to retract and apologize for a story linking Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment fund under congressional investigation. That article - like so much Russia reporting from the U.S. media - was based on a single anonymous source, and now, the network cannot vouch for the accuracy of its central claims." Of course, CNN is not alone among the establishment media in doing this non-journalism journalism.

"DHS Never Ran Audit to See If Votes Were Hacked: The Department of Homeland Security insists that no one hacked actual votes - but admits it never ran an audit to check."

Scott Ritter has his doubts: "Ex-Weapons Inspector: Trump's Sarin Claims Built on 'Lie'."
* "Why Won't the Media Tell the Real Story of Trump's Military Strike in Syria?: If you wish to understand the degree to which the supposedly free western media are constructing a world of half-truths and deceptions to manipulate their audiences, keeping us uninformed and pliant, there could hardly be a better case study than their treatment of Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. All of these highly competitive, for-profit, scoop-seeking media outlets separately took identical decisions: first to reject Hersh's latest investigative report, and then to studiously ignore it once it was published in Germany last Sunday. They have continued to maintain an absolute radio silence on his revelations, even as over the past few days they have given a great deal of attention to two stories on the very issue Hersh's investigation addresses."

Jason Leopold, "Secret Report Contradicts US Position On Chelsea Manning Leaks: Prosecutors said WikiLeaks' disclosures about Iraq and Afghanistan posed a major threat to US national security. But it turns out the classified document they cited - newly obtained by BuzzFeed News - said almost the exact opposite. "

"Amazon Bites Off Even More Monopoly Power: Amazon on Friday announced plans to acquire Whole Foods, the high-end grocer. If approved by antitrust enforcers, the $13.7 billion deal would give Amazon control of more than 400 stores, an extensive supply chain and a new source of consumer data. Amazon will argue to federal authorities, most likely the Federal Trade Commission, that the deal should be blessed because the combined entity's share of the American grocery market will be less than 5 percent. But antitrust officials would be naïve to view this deal as simply about groceries. Buying Whole Foods will enable Amazon to leverage and amplify the extraordinary power it enjoys in online markets and delivery, making an even greater share of commerce part of its fief." They can wipe out the very people who were benefiting from the existence of Whole Foods.
* "The big consequence of the Amazon-Whole Foods deal no one's talking about: Amazon has proved its power to disrupt markets. Now its proposed purchase of Whole Foods has some small farmers and food producers worried that they could be next in line. So say organic activists, farmers' advocates and economists who are just beginning to process the potential ramifications of Amazon's bid to buy Whole Foods, the country's largest organic retailer."

"How the Student Loan Industry, Trump, and Neoliberals Are Creating a Nation of Serfs: Most of the discussion about student debt in the United States has centered on its excessiveness, the negative impact it has on home-buying for the next generation, various refinancing schemes, and (for the grossly uninformed) how borrowers simply need to 'pay what they owe.' However, the untold story of student loan debt in the United States is that it is being used as a form of economic terrorism designed to not only redistribute wealth from everyday Americans to the elite, but also to undermine and degrade American democracy as a whole."

"Chicago won't allow high school students to graduate without a plan for the future: CHICAGO - To graduate from a public high school in Chicago, students will soon have to meet a new and unusual requirement: They must show that they've secured a job or received a letter of acceptance to college, a trade apprenticeship, a gap year program or the military. Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said he wants to make clear that the nation's third-largest school system is not just responsible for shepherding teenagers to the end of their senior year, but also for setting them on a path to a productive future."

"Missouri Republicans Lower St. Louis Minimum Wage From $10 To $7.70: If you thought the minimum wage only moved in one direction, then Missouri Republicans have a surprise for you. After St. Louis leaders raised the wage floor for workers within city limits, the state GOP recently passed what's known as a statewide 'preemption' law, forbidding localities from taking such matters into their own hands. On Friday, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) said he would let the law go into effect, thereby barring cities and counties from setting a minimum wage higher than the state level."

"Nina Turner on Why Ossoff Lost in Georgia Special Election [...] I think also the message was that people are not looking for folks to run 'Republican lite.' Either you are going to run on the values of the Democratic party, be authentic about those principles and those values, or you're not. But people don't want a substitute for the real thing, and that is what Mr. Ossoff was doing. He was being a substitute for what a real Republican is, and that district is a very strong Republican stronghold, no doubt about it."

Pareen, "This Is Normal: What most of the worst people in Donald Trump's administration have in common is that they are Republicans. This simple fact is obscured sometimes by the many ways in which Trump is genuinely an aberration from the political norm - like his practice of naked nepotism rather than laundering the perpetuation of class advantage through a 'meritocratic' process - and by the fact that many of the most vocal online spokespeople for 'the resistance' ignore the recent history of the Republican Party in favor of a Trump-centric theory of How Fucked Up Everything Is. But it is necessary for liberals, leftists, and Democrats to actually be clear on the fact that the Republican Party is responsible for Trump. The Democrats' longterm failure to make a compelling and all-encompassing case against conservatism and the GOP as institutions, rather than making specific cases against specific Republican politicians, is one of the reasons the party is currently in the political wilderness."

Blimey, Noam Chomsky in the NYT: "On Trump and the State of the Union [...] The Sanders campaign showed that a candidate with mildly progressive (basically New Deal) programs could win the nomination, maybe the election, even without the backing of the major funders or any media support. There's good reason to suppose that Sanders would have won the nomination had it not been for shenanigans of the Obama-Clinton party managers. He is now the most popular political figure in the country by a large margin."

"KING: We are losing the battle against police brutality in America: It's hard for me to write this, but we must be honest about our status in the fight against police brutality in America. We are losing. I have two primary metrics for that conclusion. First, 2017 is on pace to be the deadliest year ever measured for the number of people killed by police in our country. We can never claim to be winning the battle against police brutality if American police are killing more and more people. Period. Secondly, even the most egregious officers, in the most heinous cases of police violence, with the most overwhelming evidence, are still beating the charges against them."

"Texas Couple Exonerated 25 Years After Being Convicted of Lurid Crimes That Never Happened. The couple's prosecution in 1992 was part of a wave of cases across the country amid an episode of mass hysteria known as the Satanic Panic. Beginning in the 1980s, accusations flew that the childcare industry had been infiltrated by bands of Satanists hell-bent on brainwashing and sexually abusing young children. The Kellers' exoneration closes a decades-long chapter of profound injustice for a couple that paid an exceptionally high price for the credulousness of local law enforcement."

Remember Whitewater? Remember how Republican operatives turned what was no more than a failed financial decision into a federal case just to attack the Clintons? Well, Vermont has a rich, right-wing crackpot, too, and he has been doing his damnedest to turn a bad financial decision by Jane Sanders into a federal case, too. It shows every sign of being, as Bernie put it, "nonsense," but he's gotten the FBI involved and the difference between this and Whitewater is that Clintonite Democrats have been working right alongside him to promote the story of the vast corruption of Jane and Bernie. Interestingly, they are linking to the Politico story without having read it, or perhaps hoping no one will read past the headline.

"How Andrew Cuomo broke the New York subway [...] Cuomo, who has been governor since 2011, is basically the exact opposite of this visionary leader. Instead of recognizing the absolutely vital nature of the subway, he has been shockingly hostile to public transit in general, deliberately undermining and underfunding it from the beginning of his term. He has done nothing about the cost problem. Lacking both a price fix and sufficient outside revenue to stabilize its finances, the MTA has repeatedly resorted to fare hikes and borrowing to cover its spending, leading to a huge debt overhang. (On the other hand, Cuomo did spend billions on a lousy bridge after coring out all the transit additions that were supposed to go with it.)"

Juan Cole, "What Trump Didn't Know About Herat When He Barred Robotics Students From Visiting the U.S.: The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, has denied visas to six Afghan high school students from the city of Herat to accompany their invention in robotics to the United States for a demonstration. The girls made the 500 mile journey from the western city to the capital of Kabul to apply for visitor visas. They were rejected. Their project, however, was accepted by First Global Challenge, which organizes events for teenage high school students."

David Dayen, "This Is How the Trump Administration Will Privatize Our Infrastructure: Public-private partnerships have been disasters for American cities. Naturally, Trump loves them."

Matt Stoller, "If Silicon Valley's Billionaires Want To Fix Our Rotten Politics, They Should Start At Home: We've returned to the point where the enlightened businessmen decide to save the Democratic party. It never works."
* "Progressives Skewer Silicon Valley Billionaires' Newest Political Pet Project: 'Win The Future' is drawing criticism as a tone-deaf attempt to reshape the Democratic Party."

"Centrist Democrats are now the great defenders of social justice? Please. [...] It follows that there is no way to achieve a full measure of justice for all downtrodden groups without a huge left-wing economic reform. Full employment and a completed welfare state would strike a massive blow against racism and sexism - and even protect against police brutality. Strong protections for workers' rights would help prevent abuse of immigrants. An attack on monopolies and Wall Street swindlers would help minority businesses and work against racist banking practices. Left-wing economics would not completely solve social justice problems, of course. Much else would need to be done. But it would help a lot - and better still, it would help virtually every oppressed group simultaneously."

"Dems try new slogan: 'Have you seen the other guys?'" How can anyone take these people seriously?

"'Bipartisanship' means 'I don't understand what politics is': What is politics? Politics is a struggle between competing interests. What is politics not? Politics is not an ultimately unimportant game that you play in order to make friends. If you write about or participate in politics for living, please do not fuck this up."

Josh Barro has an interesting take, since no one can admit that no, we don't actually need to raise taxes on the working/middle-classes to pay for health care. It's probably the right take within the context of a discourse that still acts like we're on the gold standard. Of course, it is also based on an incorrect premise, since (a) Warren says we need to support Medicare-for-All and (b) Sanders doesn't actually oppose markets. But making a list of corporate practices that make life miserable and talking about putting a stop to them - well, that actually sounds like a good thing to do. "The formula Democrats need: less Clintonism, less Sandersism, more Warrenism. [...] Democrats should make a list of corporate practices that grind people's gears and ask whether there's a compelling economic rationale for them. If there isn't, they should propose to prohibit them, penalize them, or at least have the government stop subsidizing them. And they should explain how doing so will make it easier for people to buy the things they need to live the way they want, with their own earnings." It's still going to take some work - this is about a restoration of a lot of things we've lost in the last few decades, like those old post-Depression SEC regs, and taking antitrust seriously again. Selling it to the public shouldn't be that hard, though - I mean, everybody hates Comcast.

Ryan Cooper, "Kill the private health insurance industry before it kills you [...] Bill Clinton's experience convinced Democrats that they couldn't risk offending the health-care industry when attempting reform. But Barack Obama's effort to buy them off clearly didn't work either. ObamaCare and Medicaid are the most politically vulnerable parts of the health-care system. The former is vulnerable precisely because it has so many compromises and handouts for private insurance. But the moment Republicans took power, they immediately plotted to destroy those weak points, with the savings shoveled into the pockets of the rich."

"Even the IMF says austerity doesn't work. It's the zombie idea that will not die: Politicians say that it's sound finance, when in fact it's a tool used to demonise immigrants and profit from 'working-class concerns'."

Interview by Jon Schwarz, "Ralph Nader: The Democrats Are Unable to Defend the U.S. from the 'Most Vicious' Republican Party in History: "Do you want me to go through the history of the decline and decadence of the Democratic Party? I'm going to give you millstones around the Democratic Party neck that are milestones."

Newsweek, "Democrats Want a Socialist to Lead Their Party More Than a Capitalist [...] The poll published this week from Morning Consult/Politico asked respondents what they thought of Pelosi's job performance. Forty-one percent of Democrats thought she should stay as minority leader while 27 percent thought she should be replaced. Thirty-six percent of Democrats thought things had gone mostly well for the party under Pelosi while 19 percent said mostly bad and 27 percent said neither good nor bad. But when asked if a hypothetical replacement should be a socialist or capitalist, more Democrats opted for socialism. Thirty-five percent said it's somewhat or very important the replacement be a socialist while 31 percent felt the same for a capitalist."

"Democrats are still obsessed with Jill Stein. They should start obsessing over nonvoters instead. [...] There are two categories of non-two-party votes in the contemporary American political climate, and they're regarded differently. The first is the third-party vote, which, especially on the left side of the aisle, is considered burglary. The second is total abstention, which is considered inevitable, and therefore hardly factors into the mainstream media's election postmortems. In neither scenario does the losing major party (in this case the Democrats) take responsibility for failing to move potential voters to act on its behalf. [...] If these are the only variables of interest to us - the number of ballots affirmatively cast for Trump, Clinton, Stein, and maybe Johnson - then yeah, the Stein-as-spoiler argument makes some sense. But here's another number, one that ought to change your perspective: 87,810. That's how many Michigan voters showed up to the polls, cast ballots, and declined to vote for a presidential candidate at all."

John Nichols in The Nation, "A Progressive Electoral Wave Is Sweeping the Country: The Trump-obsessed big media are mostly ignoring it, but Bernie-inspired activists are winning across the country - including in districts that went for Trump in 2016. [...] Too radical? Too bold? Not at all. Backed by a coalition that included veteran activists who fought segregation, along with newcomers who got their first taste of politics in Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign, Lumumba won 55 percent of the vote in a May Democratic primary that saw him oust the centrist incumbent mayor and sweep past several other senior political figures in Mississippi's largest city. A month later, he secured a stunning 93 percent of the vote in a general election that drew one of the highest turnouts the city has seen in years. [...] This is the frustrating part of Lumumba's 'shock waves around the world' calculus: His election should have sent a shock wave. The same holds true for the election of progressives in local races from Cincinnati to St. Louis to South Fulton, Georgia, in a season of resistance that began with the Women's March on Washington and mass protests against President Trump's Muslim ban but has quickly moved to polling places across the country."

"What Is the Far Right's Endgame? A Society That Suppresses the Majority: Nancy MacLean, author of an intellectual biography of James McGill Buchanan, explains how this little-known libertarian's work is influencing modern-day politics."
* Sam Seder talked to MacLean about this on The Majority Report.

Beat the Press, "Thomas Friedman Whines About His Lost TPP: Thomas Friedman, who is legendary for his boldly stated wrong assertions, got into the game again making absurd claims about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the great loss the U.S. suffers from it going down.

Laura Flanders interview with Naomi Klein on No is Not Enough: Yes to the People's Movement. It's not enough to object to Trump, we have to be ready to promote positive policies to counteract the immoral proposals that are bound to come.

"Why the Democrats Won't Wake Up [...] Longtime sixth-district resident and scholar Billy Michael Honor nailed it in Huffington Post, observing that Ossoff's comfortably centrist and noncommittal message 'lacked any compelling progressive vision for the future. It also lacked any way to substantively convince the average politically uninterested citizen why they should give a damn about the Democratic Party. The message simply says, 'vote for us, we won't be as bad as the other group.'"

Weirdly, in Britain: "Top Tories in revolt against May over public spending Theresa May is facing a chorus of Tory demands for a radical overhaul of state funding for public services as cabinet ministers and senior Conservative MPs back higher pay for millions of NHS workers, more cash for schools and a 'national debate' on student debt. The prime minister's waning authority was highlighted as her health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and education secretary Justine Greening lobbied for an easing of austerity and senior Conservative MPs insisted public services would be in growing peril without an urgent loosening of the purse strings."

I ran into this thing from the wayback machine with clips of Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump at various times advocating single-payer (or some kind of real, national health care) - never mind what Jimmy Dore is saying, it's just a reminder of how much we forget.

Meanwhile in Canberra, will a new generation become fans of the late John Brosnan? Perhaps it is already happening: "John Brosnan's 1960s pre-internet fanzines sought by new fan at National Library." Not so sure about the comparison to Seinfeld, however.

"How Paul Robeson found his political voice in the Welsh valleys: African American star Robeson built his singing career in the teeth of racism in the early 1900s. But his radicalism was spurred on in Britain - by a chance meeting with a group of Welsh miners. [...] I knew that, in the winter of 1929, Paul had been returning from a matinee performance of Show Boat [in London] when he heard male voices wafting from the street. He stopped, startled by the perfect harmonisation and then by the realisation that the singers, when they came into view, were working men, carrying protest banners as they sang. [...] Some 50 years later, [his son] Pauli Robeson visited the Talygarn Miners' Rehabilitation Centre and met an elderly man who'd been present on that day in 1929. The old miner talked of how stunned the marchers had been when Robeson attached himself to their procession: a huge African American stranger in formal attire incongruous next to the half-starved Welshmen in their rough-hewn clothes and mining boots."

"This woman's name appears on the Declaration of Independence. So why don't we know her story?"

"Jimi Hendrix Park Opens at Last, With a Purple Flourish: SEATTLE - Jimi Hendrix's looping signature greets visitors at the park bearing his name, here in his hometown. The eye-catching purple script is among many personal touches that pay homage to the musician in Jimi Hendrix Park, which was formally christened in 2006 but didn't open until Saturday, after a decade of permit delays and financial woes."

RIP: Norman Pollack, 1933-2017: "Norman's legacy stands tall, from his days in the civil rights movement to his tenure at Yale and Michigan State University, he never stopped fighting for social justice."

RIP: Pete Shotton, 75, one of the original Quarrymen, the group formed by his best pal, John Lennon, which eventually became The Beatles. I missed this when it happened in April.

"Russian Photographer Captures The Cutest Squirrel Photo Session Ever

The Foreigner Official Trailer #1 (2017) Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan Action Movie HD. Nah, he doesn't look a bit like him. At all.

I was going to link to the Beatles' "No Reply" on YouTube here to go with the title of this post, but it seems to have been effectively purged, because all I could find were covers. *frowny face*

13:12 GMT comment


Friday, 23 June 2017

Woke up today in a strange, strange land

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

Goodbye, and Good Riddance, to Centrism

The idea that people who want expanded health care, reduced income inequality, fewer wars and more public services are "unrealistic" springs from an old deception in our politics.

For decades pundits and pols have been telling progressive voters they don't have the juice to make real demands, and must make alliances with more "moderate" and presumably more numerous "centrists" in order to avoid becoming the subjects of right-wing monsters like Reagan/Bush/Bush/Trump.

Voters for decades were conned into thinking they were noisome minorities whose best path to influence is to make peace with the mightier "center," which inevitably turns out to support military interventionism, fewer taxes for the rich, corporate deregulation and a ban on unrealistic "giveaway" proposals like free higher education. Those are the realistic, moderate, popular ideas, we're told.

But it's a Wizard of Oz trick, just like American politics in general. There is no numerically massive center behind the curtain. What there is instead is a tiny island of wealthy donors, surrounded by a protective ring of for-sale major-party politicians (read: employees) whose job it is to castigate too-demanding voters and preach realism.

This cannot be stressed enough: It does not matter what the Republicans say as long as the Democrats don't agree with them. If the Republicans claim that health care and public services are "extreme" or "communism" or "far-left" or "unrealistic" or "budget-busting", any meaningful opposition party must and will argue the case that they are wrong, that in fact these views are mainstream, democratic, supported by the vast majority of the country - which they are. That's the real reality-based approach to politics that our so-called "pragmatists" refuse to take. If Democrats want to pass good policy, they will argue for good policy, not constantly tell us why we can't have good policy.

* * * * *

At the People's Summit, Katie Halper interviews Thomas Frank on the Demise of the Democratic Party.

There's been a lot of high praise for Bernie Sander's speech at the People's Summit.

"Jeremy Corbyn was just 2,227 votes away from chance to be Prime Minister: Winning seven Tory knife-edge seats could have put Labour leader in Downing Street" And that might have happened if the party had decided to devote resources to winning the marginals instead of only defending right-wing seats.
* As to young people's votes for Corbyn, they may not be that young. "Labour Won Much More Than The Under-25 Vote, Says YouGov: Only if you're 47-plus were you more likely to vote Tory." (This is much the same as in the US, where it was the 18-44 group that broke for Sanders in the primaries.)

Jon Schwarz, "New Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn Faces Special Guilt-by-Association Standard." But they don't really care about anti-semitism, they just care about trashing Corbyn.
* "Labour's Israel lobby plans to relaunch campaign against Corbyn. [...] Ryan herself was caught personally engaging in concocting false anti-Semitism charges against a party member who questioned Labour Friends of Israel's position on Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law."

This is actually from before the election, but good on Stiglitz for trying. "Austerity has strangled Britain. Only Labour will consign it to history: Neoliberalism was a creature of the Reagan and Thatcher era. Austerity is its death rattle. Before it does any more damage, Britain needs a plan for growth." I'm glad to see the Guardian finally decided to get on their own alleged team, too.

Summing it all up, "Zach Carter on economic crises and authoritarianism."

Meanwhile.... "Europe: the Danger of the Center: The good news out of Europe is that Marine Le Pen's neo-Nazi National Front took a beating in the May 7 French presidential election. The bad news is that the program of the winner, Emmanuel Macron, might put Le Pen back in the running six years from now. Macron pledges to cut 120,000 public jobs, reduce spending by 60 billion Euros, jettison the 35-hour workweek, raise the retirement age, weaken unions' negotiating strength and cut corporate taxes. It is a program that is unlikely to revive the morbid French economy, but it will certainly worsen the plight of jobless youth and seniors and hand the National Front ammunition for the 2022 election."

"US has regressed to developing nation status, MIT economist warns: Peter Temin says 80 per cent of the population is burdened with debt and anxious about job security "

Right on cue, fake news from The New York Times makes up a story in which Lee Camp is a Kremlin stooge full of conspiracy theories because he doesn't repeat the same stories everyone else in the press does.

The NYT also published an outrageous article blaming the "violence" of "BernieBros" for a genuine lone-nut attempted assassination that appears to have come from someone who supported Sanders and didn't like Republicans very much. It's not exactly making amends, but the paper has now published an op-ed by the man himself, "Bernie Sanders: How Democrats Can Stop Losing Elections [...] If these results are not a clear manifestation of a failed political strategy, I don't know what is. For the sake of our country and the world, the Democratic Party, in a very fundamental way, must change direction. It has got to open its doors wide to working people and young people. It must become less dependent on wealthy contributors, and it must make clear to the working families of this country that, in these difficult times, it is prepared to stand up and fight for their rights. Without hesitation, it must take on the powerful corporate interests that dominate the economic and political life of the country."
* Bizarrely, the one media figure who got it right was Sean Hannity, who said, "I can't blame Bernie Sanders, he's a nice guy, his supporters aren't like that, it's just one guy."

"Total Surprise! People Love the Left's Ideas for Progress: I just can't believe what happened in the British elections. I can't get over the fact that when a politician with real convictions honed over 40 years of political life - generous and forward-looking convictions rooted in an understanding of how social progress for the many has actually been engineered in previous times - speaks out unencumbered by fraidy-cat image doctors, people actually respond enthusiastically. It's shocking, absolutely shocking."

Also from the Guardian just before the election, Thomas Frank, "From rust belt to mill towns: a tale of two voter revolts : On the eve of Britain's election, Thomas Frank, who anticipated the rise of Trump among white working-class voters in the US, visited the industrial heartlands of northern England to compare two momentous contests"

"The Guardian never gets a political result right. On Corbyn they got it really wrong: After spending two years trashing the possibility that Corbyn could win elections, The Guardian's coverage must be judged harshly. An apology is due."
* Dump the Guardian! has a collection of headlines from the last two years from columnists railing against the destruction Corbyn is doing or will do to the party.

"We asked 8 Senate Republicans to explain what their health bill is trying to do." Comedy gold.

Yeah, Gorsuch is definitely horrible, just like all the other Republican appointees, but when a horrible decision is 9-0, let's not kid ourselves, eh? "Supreme Court Unanimously Backs Debt Collector in Gorsuch Opinion."

"Data on 198M voters exposed by GOP contractor: : A data analytics contractor employed by the Republican National Committee (RNC) left databases containing information on nearly 200 million potential voters exposed to the internet without security, allowing anyone who knew where to look to download it without a password. 'We take full responsibility for this situation,' said the contractor, Deep Root Analytics, in a statement."

"Flint water crisis: five officials charged with involuntary manslaughter: Five Michigan officials, including the head of the state health department, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the crisis over lead poisoning in drinking water in Flint. [...] Attorney general Bill Schuette presented the charges as a turning point in the investigation into water contamination in Flint, which has continued for more than a year. He said investigators would now focus on trying 17 officials who face criminal charges."

"Cuomo To NYC's Suffering Subway Commuters: Drive A Car: No governor with an eye on the White House would possibly let the country's greatest mass transit network collapse on his watch, right? Well, you must not know Andrew Cuomo, to whom the city-dwelling car driver ranks slightly below an on-time budget and 'no new taxes' as things of the most paramount importance. As for the rest of us, however, those forced into aluminum cans in a sweltering heatwave, soon to be idled beneath the East River on account of fictional 'train traffic ahead of us,' we could truly go to hell (or the MTA's steamy approximation of it)."

"Why Are Drug Prices Going Up? Democratic Power Players Help Pharmaceutical Industry In Connecticut Battle: Wide majorities of voters want public officials to reduce American medicine prices, which are the highest in the world and have become a key driver of skyrocketing healthcare costs. And yet as politicians including Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have continued to call for a crackdown, corporate power players have successfully blocked even minimal reforms - with the help, at times, of industry-connected Democrats, whose party portrays itself as a consumer-defending critic of the healthcare industry."

"Senator Elizabeth Warren joins the call for an investigation into TransDigm's business [...] "As a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, I have also been monitoring reports that suggest TransDigm WorldWide has used a variety of tactics to avoid sharing cost information with the government for parts for which it is the sole source supplier," Warren wrote in the letter to Acting Inspector General Glenn Fine at the U.S. Department of Defense on May 19, 2017. "These reports further show that TransDigm has unreasonably raised prices on many parts shortly after completing acquisitions of the companies that produce them."

Dday in The Intercept, "Trump Assigned Himself An Awful Lot Of Homework That Isn't Getting Done: The ceremonial signing of executive orders has become a trademark of the Trump presidency, with elaborate photo ops and presentations of the president's bizarre signature happening at a record-breaking rate. But in so doing, he has assigned himself - or, at least, the agencies and departments he ostensibly leads - a record amount of homework. It's not getting done."

"U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: China Bilateral Investment Treaty 'On Our Agenda': Trump administration is seeking to make progress on specific market-access issues first such as beef exports, Chinese rules on biotechnology imports and energy products." David Dayen explained last year that this is a job-killing deal. that "would facilitate more offshoring, and that could also give China, of all countries, effective veto power over domestic policy." Moreover, " 'It's pitched as a way to promote investment,' said Celeste Drake, trade and globalization policy specialist at the AFL-CIO. 'We're one of the top countries for foreign investment anyway. We don't need to give away rights for foreign investors.'

"A neo-Nazi with explosives and a framed photo of Timothy McVeigh is not a threat, judge rules: Brandon Russell is capable of making a bomb - and he admitted doing so. Officials believe he also participated in neo-Nazi chat rooms where he threatened to kill people and blow up places. Investigators found guns, ammunition and white supremacist propaganda in his bedroom, court records say. A framed photograph of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was on his dresser. Prosecutors believe those reasons should keep Russell behind bars while he awaits trial on federal charges. A judge, however, disagreed and decided that Russell can be released on bond."

David Dayen's tiny letter on how Republicans accidentally overturned a drug-testing rule they love. Also, David is upset by an interview with Ben Bernanke in which he, of course, makes excuses for the mess he helped make. Not surprising, given the recent Chicago Tribune feature on how, "the Cook County assessor systematically inflated prices on low-income housing and deflated prices for the wealthy's homes. [...] This stunning corruption, combined with the relative indifference to the suffering of foreclosure victims, paints a disturbing picture of establishment malevolence. They not only don't care about the plight of the rank and file, they feel unencumbered to actually steal from them. And yes, Bernanke's excuse-making sets the table for this type of greed engineering. The culture of impunity and the failure of accountability represent a large reason why we have the government we have today."

Also from Dday, "Republicans Can't Really Repeal Dodd-Frank: But they will pretend to try anyway." They have a ludicrous bill in Congress that the Senate is unlikely to pass, but they like the theater and making speeches.

Robbie Nelson in Jacobin, "The Stuff of Politics: Giving people stuff isn't a bad thing. In fact, it's the material basis of mass politics. [...] But HAMP's deficiencies should also be understood as a reflection of a more fundamental political failure: that of technocratic liberalism. This political ideology - currently dominant within the Democratic Party - embraces policies whose benefits are complex, means-tested, and often delivered through tax credits or the private sector. For the past several decades, technocratic liberalism has demonstrated its inability to solidify a mass electoral base by enacting policies that improve the lives of rank-and-file constituencies. This should be Politics 101 - when a party gains power, it uses that power to pass programs that visibly benefit its base in order to shore up their loyalty, as well as to attract potential new voters. The US Constitution makes this more difficult, with its over-abundance of veto points. So do gridlock and gerrymandering. But delivering tangible gains to workers and the poor remains the linchpin of any viable left politics. People need health care, housing, education, child care. They need something to vote for. They need to see what they get when they vote.

"Saudi Arabia is Destabilizing the World [...] This episode is especially alarming because Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, has long been one of its most tolerant. Indonesian Islam, like most belief systems on that vast archipelago, is syncretic, gentle, and open-minded. The stunning fall of Jakarta's governor reflects the opposite: intolerance, sectarian hatred, and contempt for democracy. Fundamentalism is surging in Indonesia. This did not happen naturally."

What's interesting to me about this piece is not so much that it is called, "Can Hillary Clinton Please Go Quietly into the Night?" and makes that case, but that it's written by someone who actually can say, "Throwing open our markets to China as much as we did - that looked wiser back then. So did deregulating the financial industry. So did pushing for three-strikes laws. So did the bailout of Mexico. So did focusing on deficit reduction. So did high levels of immigration. So did humanitarian interventions in the former Yugoslavia. So did welfare reform. Bill's calls, like all big calls, were controversial, but they were far more justifiable in light of the data we had at the time. But what about with the data we have now?" All the data we had then said these were terrible ideas that would lead to increased poverty, racism, and financial destabilization. The recent data merely confirms what we already knew, it was not a surprise to anyone who had a passing acquaintance with history.

Van Jones - not necessarily a reliable witness, but sometimes he just can't stop himself from telling the truth - says the Clinton campaign set a billion dollars on fire: "He blamed the same forces in the Democratic Party behind the Clinton campaign's defeat for continuing to divide the resistance to President Trump after the election. 'And now they want us to fight about whether black folks or white workers or Latinos or any other group should get the money,' Jones said. 'First of all, you need to give the money back to the people, period.' 'Quit getting rich off people's struggles,' Jones finished. The progressive CNN commentator has said before that Clinton's defeat signaled an end for that wing of the Democratic Party. 'This idea that we're going to be this moderate party that's going to move in this direction, that's going to throw blacks under the bus for criminal justice reform or for prison expansion, that's going to throw workers under the bus for NAFTA, those days are over,' Jones said in January shortly before Trump's inauguration."

"A 2016 Review: There's Reason to Be Skeptical of a Comey Effect [...] But it's now clear that Mrs. Clinton was weaker heading into Oct. 28 than was understood at the time. Several other polls were conducted over the same period that showed Mr. Trump gaining quickly on Mrs. Clinton in the days ahead of the Comey letter. And the timing of these polls - particularly the gap between when they were taken and when they were released - has probably helped to exaggerate the effect of Mr. Comey's letter on the presidential race."

Amazon just patented an antitrust violation: "Amazon granted a patent that prevents in-store shoppers from online price checking: Amazon's long been a go-to for people to online price compare while shopping at brick-and-mortars. Now, a new patent granted to the company could prevent people from doing just that inside Amazon's own stores. The patent, titled 'Physical Store Online Shopping Control,' details a mechanism where a retailer can intercept network requests like URLs and search terms that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi, then act upon them in various ways. The document details in great length how a retailer like Amazon would use this information to its benefit. If, for example, the retailer sees you're trying to access a competitor's website to price check an item, it could compare the requested content to what's offered in-store and then send price comparison information or a coupon to your browser instead. Or it could suggest a complementary item, or even block content outright."

"Police officer who shot dead Philando Castile acquitted of all charges." Apparently, Castile was pulled over because he had a broad nose and shot when he mentioned that he had a licensed gun on his person.
* "Judge Dismisses Kendrick Johnson Wrongful Death Suit, Cites Negligence on Part of Teen's Parents." Help me out, here. The kid's body was found in a rolled-up gym mat. That part surely didn't happen by accident.

Radley Balko reports on a reporter who spent "A day with 'killology' police trainer Dave Grossman," one of the most dangerous men in America, who trains cops to "bravely" take shooting people lightly. "Grossman and Glennon teach the most popular of these classes, but they have competitors. When it comes to teaching cops how to escalate, how to see the world as their enemy and how to find the courage to kill more people, more often, there's no shortage of options."

"America's Health-Care Crisis Is a Gold Mine for Crowdfunding: Sites such as GoFundMe and GiveForward are poised for a wave of medical appeals if Trumpcare leaves millions uninsured, and even if it doesn't."

"Follow The Money: The Flow Of Funds In The Pharmaceutical Distribution System: About 10 percent of all health care spending is on prescription drugs, and the spending is growing at a rapid rate. This has prompted calls for government intervention to regulate drug prices or otherwise control their rapid increase. But any intervention should be predicated on a clear understanding of the economic forces that drive price increases, and the parties responsible for them."

"$15 for 15 minutes: How Courts Are Letting Prison Phone Companies Gouge Incarcerated People." Isn't it interesting how they come up with these clever ways of disintegrating the lives and families of people who are in prison? It's not simply that there is no thought of rehabilitation, it's that they make it impossible for people to maintain the connections to society that would allow them ever to recover from going to prison.

"Has the 40-year old mystery of the 'Wow!' signal been solved?"

RIP: Adam West, the actor who brought Batman to life for television audiences in the late '60s. The BBC says, "West died peacefully in Los Angeles after a 'short but brave battle' with leukemia, a family spokesperson said.." He was 88. Guardian obit here. Tributes from his colleagues and admirers. Mr. West was a man who really knew how to have fun with a phone book.
* And here's that unaired episode of Powerless - better watch it now, since DC says: "Adam West, Batman to a generation of TV fans, passed away last week. One of his final roles was a fittingly comic guest role on NBC's Powerless in an episode which never made it to air. DC All Access is proud to present this episode in its entirety for a limited time as a tribute to West and his DC legacy."

RIP Stephen Furst, who we remember from St. Elsewhere and Babylon 5, although some remember him better from Animal House. He was 63.

RIP: "Anita Pallenberg, actor, model and muse to the Rolling Stones, dies aged 73: Partner to both Brian Jones and Keith Richards, Pallenberg went on to appear alongside Mick Jagger in Performance and pursued a career in fashion" I watched that movie a lot of times.

RIP: "Comedian Bill Dana, Who Played the Character Jose Jimenez, Dies at 92: He became a 'mascot' for the Mercury astronauts, wrote jokes for Steve Allen and Don Adams and penned one of the funniest All in the Family episodes. "

Matt Taibbi's review of Thomas Friedman's latest book, Thank You for Being Late, demonstrates once again that Friedman stands with such literary greats as William McGonegal and Lionel Fanthorpe.

"Move Fast and Break Things by Jonathan Taplin review - the damage done by Silicon Valley: Taplin's starting point is the music of Levon Helm and the Band, but the fight against the spoiled brats of Google, Amazon and Facebook is much bigger. Personally, I thought Taplin omitted too much about the ludicrously low percentage of profits that the recording industry gives to creators, when he talked to Sam Seder about it.

"Austin Mayor Responds To Boycott Threats Over Women-Only Wonder Woman Screening: I am writing to alert you that your email account has been hacked by an unfortunate and unusually hostile individual."

"Time for Democrats to Unite Around Medicare for All: Contrary to how it is often portrayed, this is not some left-wing fantasy but an idea with widespread across-the-aisle support. An April survey from the Economist/YouGov showed that 60 percent of Americans support 'expanding Medicare to provide health insurance to every American,' including a majority of independents and nearly half of self-identified Republicans. Likewise, a Gallup poll conducted last month found that a majority of Americans would like to see a single-payer system implemented. (Given how deeply Medicare is woven into the fabric of our society, I prefer the term 'Medicare for all' over the wonky 'single-payer.')"

Shaun King, "KING: Why progressives and liberals continue to feel like unwelcome guests in the Democratic Party: Earlier this week in Virginia, two men who each voted for George W. Bush twice to become President of the United States won their primaries in the governor's race there. Ed Gillespie, a lifelong Republican, won the Republican primary and Ralph Northam, who has a record of voting Republican, won the Democratic primary. No, that's not a typo. It is, perhaps, the most relevant example, though, of why progressives and liberals in America are struggling to find a home in the same big tent." Of course, King mentions the now-famous

"On Bill and Hillary Clinton's First Date in 1971, They Crossed a Picket Line

"The DEA's Top 10 Most Insanely Ridiculous Slang Terms for Weed"

Greg Benford, "Escorting Vonnegut: For decades, starting in the 1970s, I was UCI's default escort for visitors and speakers a bit out of the ordinary. This usually meant science fiction writers with a large audience, though not always. I was an sf writer too, but with real-world credentials as a professor of physics, which some thought qualified me to mediate between the real and the imaginary. The most striking writer I hosted, in the early 1990s, was Kurt Vonnegut."

"The Untold and Deeply Stoned Story of the First U.S. Rock Festival: How the Doors, Byrds and nearly 30 other bands, a pack of Hells Angels and a lot of drugs made history at Fantasy Fair & Magic Mountain"

Teeny tiny art hidden in chips

One of the most popular songs in Britain in the last few weeks was "Liar Liar GE2017 by Captain SKA. It's about Theresa May. It's not being played on the radio.

"My Country Too" by the Oyster Band: "This was written overnight in a fit of exasperation when Theresa May hijacked Brexit to call an opportunistic general election, breaking repeated promises not to; but that was just the catalyst. During the long Oysters3 tour in March we travelled around and had conversations with many people about the state of our country and about their doubts and frustrations. It felt, in a way, like a song people were wanting us to write.

13:11 GMT comment


Thursday, 08 June 2017

On a knife's edge

I'm trying not to hold my breath for the results of the election tomorrow. I want Corbyn to win so much, but I know that even though he's looking better than Austerity Milliband did last time, it'd still take a miracle. But see below.

Great news for the survivors of the Kansas Catastrophe. "Kansas Gov. Brownback's tax experiment comes to end, as legislature overturns veto: When Kansas Governor Sam Brownback launched his experiment, he told Kansans that it would be an injection of adrenaline and that the economy would come roaring back to life. But after 5 years, the economy struggles and the state budget is a disaster. Speaking from the Senate floor tonight, Sen. Dennings (R-Overland Park) spoke out in favor of overturning the Governor's veto and ending the tax experiment. 'This was a mistake,' and noted that it was his mistake, and he was prepared to break out the mop and start cleaning it up. For Governor Brownback, the overturn of his tax plan represents the ultimate rebuke of a governor. Unlike Democratic governors in states with Supermajority Republicans who have faced veto override, Governor Brownback would assume immunity - the State House & Senate are both super majority Republican. But the Republicans have seen enough. Sen. Hardy (R-Salina) made the case: 'The people in this state have had it. Either we pay the bill now or we pay a bigger bill later.' "

"Nevada's legislature just passed a radical plan to let anybody sign up for Medicaid:: Nevada, with little fanfare or notice, is inching toward a massive health insurance expansion - one that would give the state's 2.8 million residents access to a public health insurance option. The Nevada legislature passed a bill Friday that would allow anyone to buy into Medicaid, the public program that covers low-income Americans. It would be the first state to open the government-run program to all residents, regardless of their income or health status."

"EPA begins offering buyouts to cut staff: report: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has kicked off its buyout program to reduce staffs numbers, according to an internal memo reported by Reuters on Thursday.The EPA memo was sent to all agency employees as President Trump, joined at the White House by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate change accord."

"California Senate passes single-payer health care plan: SACRAMENTO - As a legislative deadline loomed, California senators Thursday - in some cases, reluctantly - voted to pass a $400 billion plan to create a government-run health care system without a way to pay for it. Senate Bill 562, by Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, passed 23-14 and will now advance to the Assembly, where it will likely be amended to include taxes. And that would mean the measure would require two-thirds votes in both chambers." This still has a long way to go, and there's certainly no guaranty it'll happen, but....

"EFF Sues FBI For Refusing To Turn Over Documents About Its Geek Squad Informants: A child porn indictment in California has led to a full-fledged examination of the FBI's use of "private searches." Private searches, performed by citizens, can be used to instigate investigations and obtain warrants. In this case, the private searches were performed by Best Buy Geek Squad members, who came across alleged child porn images while fixing the defendant's computer. Private searches during computer repairs are normal. But they're not roughly analogous to searches performed with a warrant. Companies that repair electronic devices are legally required to report discovered child porn to law enforcement. What they're not supposed to do, however, is dig through devices they're repairing in hopes of finding something illegal. Most techs don't go looking for child porn. But the FBI's close relationship with Best Buy turned private searches into searches performed by paid informants. Once government money is introduced into the equation, the search can no longer be considered "private." The introduction of cash rewards also skews the incentives, possibly encouraging Geek Squad members to spend more time looking for illicit images than focusing on the repair job at hand."

"A new GOP bill would make it virtually impossible to sue the police: Keeping with the Trump administration's law-and-order rhetoric, Republicans in the House and Senate recently introduced a bill they're calling the Back the Blue Act of 2017. The Senate bill was introduced by John Cornyn (R-Tex.), and is co-sponsored by 15 senators, all Republicans. The identical House bill was introduced by Ted Poe (R-Tex.), and includes five co-sponsors, also all Republicans. The bill would create new federal crimes, impose federal police over the will of local officials and voters and shield police officers from virtually any civil liability, even in cases of egregious misconduct."

"Saudis take 100% control of America's largest oil refinery: America's largest oil refinery is now fully owned by Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco, the kingdom's state-owned oil behemoth, took 100% control of the sprawling Port Arthur refinery in Texas on Monday, completing a deal that was first announced last year. Port Arthur is considered the crown jewel of the US refinery system. The Gulf Coast facility can process 600,000 barrels of oil per day, making it the largest refinery in North America."

"Standing Rock Documents Expose Inner Workings of 'Surveillance-Industrial Complex': Leaked documents and public records reveal a troubling fusion of private security, public law enforcement, and corporate money in the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline."

It turns out there was a real Russian hack, though not the one everyone's been looking for. Naturally, it wasn't any of the usual suspects who scooped the story, it was The Intercept. "Top-Secret NSA Report Details Russian Hacking Effort Days Before 2016 Election: Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November's presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept." The story doesn't suggest any hacking of actual voting machines, but it does underline the necessity of keeping sensitive materials offline and sequestered. And as Marcy points out, there is real exposure in hiring contractors rather than keeping it in-house. The source was unfortunately exposed and of course was a contractor. "I get why we need to disseminate such information widely. But even if this information merely reports on stuff that had already been reported (to the WaPo, long ago), it nevertheless is testament to the degree to which adding contractors adds the likelihood of leaks. Or let's put it this way: we're sharing FISA information with contractors who don't have a need to know. But we're not sharing it with defendants whose freedom depends on contesting it. Maybe those priorities are screwy?"

"Hacked Emails Show Top UAE Diplomat Coordinating With Pro-Israel Think Tank Against Iran: The email account of one of Washington's most connected and influential foreign operatives has been hacked. [...] The emails provided so far to the The Intercept show a growing relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the pro-Israel, neoconservative think tank called the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). On the surface, the alliance should be surprising, as the UAE does not even recognize Israel. But the two countries have worked together in the past against their common adversary, Iran."

The New York Times has decided to end their experiment with having an ombudsperson. Jay Rosen reports on the failings of the departing "public editor".

"Former Vice President Biden to headline Romney summit: WASHINGTON - Just days after launching a new political action committee, former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden will join Republican officials and donors at a weekend retreat hosted by former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Biden will be interviewed by Romney during a Friday evening event in Deer Valley at the invitation-only summit, according to a Biden spokesman and participants briefed on the schedule. The speaker lineup for what is traditionally a gathering of Romney allies is packed with high-profile Republicans, among them House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain."

"Joe Biden's Sound Advice for Democrats: As the Trump Administration stumbles on, Democrats' thoughts turn to the elections of 2018 and 2020. Despite Trump's current troubles, many of them believe that the Party faces a painful dilemma: Should it champion progressive policies that will energize its liberal base, or should it focus on winning back some of the persuadable voters it lost to Trump this past November? Joe Biden, for one, doesn't believe that the Party has to choose. Addressing a political dinner in New Hampshire a few days ago, the former Vice-President insisted that Democrats can promote their progressive values and reach out to economically embattled voters, including Trump voters, at the same time. 'There is absolutely no inconsistency,' Biden said, 'between defending the right to [gay] marriage, defining the rights of women to control their own bodies, standing up for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and demanding safe working conditions, a living wage, sick leave.'" Is he setting up a presidential run? Funny how the same people who keep saying Sanders is too old keep saying Biden would make a great candidate, as if he isn't within a year of Bernie's age and, by the way, the Senator from the Credit Card companies.

"Accused of underpaying women, Google says it's too expensive to get wage data." I wonder if Google could maybe, I dunno, hire a company that handles data? (I mean, seriously, Google!.)

Hillary Clinton gave an interview. Everybody gets to decide what they thought was the most annoying part of it.
* "Ex-DNC aide hits back hard at Clinton, says her campaign ignored data on Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin: Hillary Clinton has found plenty of non-Hillary Clinton things to blame for her 2016 loss, including Russia, James B. Comey, debate moderators and misogyny. But her decision Wednesday to add the Democratic National Committee to that list is predictably proving pretty sensitive inside her own party. A top former DNC aide tweeted overnight that Clinton's allegations were 'f---ing bulls---' and even suggested that the Clinton campaign ignored its warnings about how competitive Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin were. Those three states proved decisive for President Trump and, especially in the case of Michigan and Wisconsin, were neglected by the Clinton campaign."

"Jeremy Corbyn's Surprising Gains: Something strange appears to be happening on the way to British Prime Minister Theresa May's anticipated victory after her clever strategy of calling a snap election. The ploy could backfire on her - just the way her predecessor, David Cameron, got caught when he thought he could shut up the ultra-nationalists by calling a referendum on British membership in the European Union. The result was Brexit, and Cameron's own hasty exit."
* "This Facebook Comment About the UK Election Is Going Viral: "
* "The fight of his life: on the road with Jeremy Corbyn: The Labour leader is vying to be elected prime minister against the odds. Through weeks of campaigning, Ewen MacAskill and photographer Sean Smith met him on his battlebus away from the spotlight."

"According to UK Prime Minister May, the fight against terrorism requires porn censorship on the Internet: A few people have commented on UK Prime Minister Theresa May jumping on the opportunity to argue for 'regulating the Internet' after the most recent terror attacks. Fewer have highlighted just what she demands, and how absolutely ridiculous this is on the surface and on every level of analysis depth: In order to fight terrorism properly, she states, Britain must censor pornography on the Internet."

David Dayen, "Here's How Broken Washington Is - Even Without Trump [...] The general idea is to allow millions more Americans to access hearing aids. Plus, the prospect of new customers could spur competition and drive down prices. Today, after numerous mergers, just six companies (William Demant, GN Store Nord, Sonova and Amplifon are the biggest) control the market, offering little incentive to lower prices. Oligopolies are a fixture in health care, from prescription drugs to hospitals to dialysis centers, and rolling back one could build momentum to truly reform health care delivery systems. Not only did Warren and Grassley introduce the bill, they got it into a must-pass piece of legislation to reauthorize user fees for the FDA. That bill is likely to become law by the end of July. So a problem caused by a government-granted monopoly looks like it'll actually get solved. Or it did, until conservatives found the name 'Elizabeth Warren' atop the bill."

RIP: Fred Kummerow, Scientist who raised early warnings about trans fats dies at 102, Like Julia Child always told you, "Butter, not margarine."

"Polls Predict Defeat For Paul Ryan In His Home District: The GOP has worked to denigrate Pelosi for over a decade. Nationally her approval rating is an abysmal 30%-- with 50% disapproving of her. That's godawful! It has made her a liability for many Democratic candidates. But you know who's even more disliked-- and with no set-up by the Democrats? Flimflam Speaker Paul Ryan. The same new Quinnipiac poll that looks so devastating for Pelosi is even worse on Ryan. Only 27% approval and a 54% disapproval. He's in much worse shape, politically, than McConnell of Schumer. People have finally recognized what a dick-head he is-- thanks to his TrumpCare bill. By the 2018 midterms he'll be so toxic that any politician photographed with him will be in jeopardy."

Dean Baker in Jacobin, "Intellectual Property Is Real Money: Want to reduce income inequality in the US? Dismantle its onerous system of copyrights and patents."

Mathiew von Rohr interviewed Bernie Sanders for Der Spiegel and found out Sanders had just read Shattered. "The Man Who Knows Trump's Voters: Bernie Sanders energized many Americans during the U.S. election campaign with his socialist ideas. In the Trump era, he has become one of the leaders of the "resistance." In an interview with DER SPIEGEL, he warns Democrats against focusing on impeachment. [...] Is it true that he didn't even know the word 'millennial,' the designation for the young generation he had inspired so much? 'That's true,' says Sanders. And how did he manage to inspire it so much? 'That is a good question, and you know what? I still don't know the answer. I honestly don't.' He says that he has just read a book about Hillary Clinton called 'Shattered,' a relentless inside view of her election campaign. Sanders says he was surprised to read 'that you needed three speechwriters to tell you why you're running for president. I don't need somebody to tell me why. If I didn't know why I was running in the first place ... You know, you've got to know what you stand for.'"

Someone is sending a meme around saying, in essence, the Democrats are going to nominate another candidate who you don't agree with 100% and who isn't ideologically pure and you have to vote for them. I kind of lost my temper at it and wrote comment about it on a Facebook thread, and Will Shetterly put it up on his blog as a post, "Who is this person who demanded a candidate they agreed with 100%?"

"Russia Blog #7: When Mother Jones Was Investigated For Spreading 'Kremlin Disinformation': Mother Jones recently announced it's 'redoubling our Russia reporting' - in the words of editor Clara Jeffery. Ain't that rich. What passes for 'Russia reporting' at Mother Jones is mostly just glorified InfoWars paranoia for progressive marks - a cataract of xenophobic conspiracy theories about inscrutable Russian barbarians hellbent on subverting our way of life, spreading chaos, destroying freedom & democracy & tolerance wherever they once flourished. . . . because they hate us, because we're free. Western reporting on Russia has always been garbage, But the so-called 'Russia reporting' of the last year has taken the usual malpractice to unimagined depths - whether it's from Mother Jones or MSNBC, or the Washington Post or Resistance hero Louise Mensch. But of all the liberal media, Mother Jones should be most ashamed for fueling the moral panic about Russian 'disinformation'. It wasn't too long ago that the Reagan Right attacked Mother Jones for spreading 'Kremlin disinformation' and subverting America."

"The Democratic party still thinks it will win by 'not being Trump': Based on their performance so far, it seems they will not learn the lessons of 2016 until they see the Republicans retain their perch in 2018. [...]

Barry Lynn"Democrats Must Become the Party of Freedom: Re-embracing anti-monopoly will reinvigorate American liberty and beat back Trumpism."

"Absent a More Progressive Economics, the Democrats Will Lose. Economic Populism appeals both to core Democratic voters and the white workers with whom the party has failed to connect. The challenge Democrats face today uniting a broad coalition of working class Americans that spans racial, regional, gender, and generational lines - is far from new, but it has not always been this daunting. "

Stanley Greenberg, "The Democrats' 'Working-Class Problem': It's not only with whites. It reaches well into the party's base. [...] The Democrats don't have a 'white working-class problem.' They have a 'working-class problem,' which progressives have been reluctant to address honestly or boldly. The fact is that Democrats have lost support with all working-class voters across the electorate, including the Rising American Electorate of minorities, unmarried women, and millennials. This decline contributed mightily to the Democrats' losses in the states and Congress and to the election of Donald Trump. [...] Working-class Americans pulled back from Democrats in this last period of Democratic governance because of President Obama's insistence on heralding economic progress and the bailout of the irresponsible elites, while ordinary people's incomes crashed and they continued to struggle financially. They also pulled back because of the Democrats' seeming embrace of multinational trade agreements that have cost American jobs." There's an instructive chartchart on that page showing Obama's annual approval ratings throughout his time in office.

Steven W Thrasher in the Guardian, "Democrats take us black voters for granted. What if we abandoned them? Black voters aren't showing up to vote for the Democratic party in the numbers they once did. There are reasons for that - and they must be confronted [...] I continue to vote, usually for Democrats and never for Republicans, largely out of a sense of nostalgia. America is a kind of drug to which I am addicted, and I continue to chase after its high even though I know it's not healthy for me. In this way, I have come to think of voting as a form of harm reduction. Voting Democrat is the equivalent of using a clean needle to shoot up, so that trying to get that American high is less likely to screw me up as badly as it could."

Matt Taibbi, "The Democrats Need a New Message."

"Wake up, liberals: There will be no 2018 'blue wave,' no Democratic majority and no impeachment."

"Two Pro-Sanders Legislators in Maine Just Left the Democratic Party."

"Problematic Liaisons: Attacking Progressive Women of Color: White Feminists Who Have Appointed Themselves Overseers of the Movement"

Jon Schwarz, "We Need Memorial Day to Obscure the Unbearable Truth About War [...] This perspective on the purpose of war was directly expressed by George W. Bush and his circle before he ever became president. Texas journalist and Bush family friend Mickey Herskowitz was hired to write a Bush biography for the 2000 campaign, and spent hours interviewing him. Herskowitz later said that Bush was already thinking about attacking Iraq - because, Bush said, 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander in chief.' According to Herskowitz, people around Bush, including Dick Cheney, hoped to 'start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade.' Why? Because, Bush told Herskowitz, that would give him 'political capital' that he could use to 'get everything passed that I want to get passed.' In other words, the actual country of Iraq had little to do with the Iraq War. Its main purpose wasn't beating Saddam Hussein, it was beating Americans who wanted to stop Bush from privatizing Social Security. "

"Iran introduced a basic income scheme, and something strange happened [...] One of the biggest criticisms of basic income, a system of giving people modest salaries just for being alive, is that it discourages people from working. A new report on an ongoing cash-transfer program launched in 2011 in Iran may cast some doubt on the claim. Published by the economists Djavad Salehi-Isfahani and Mohammad H. Mostafavi-Dehzooei, the paper finds no evidence to support the idea that people receiving cash transfers take themselves out of the labor force. Some workers even expanded their hours, the report found."

"Mythbusting: "The results were clear. Of the nearly two dozen federal minimum-wage hikes since 1938, total year-over-year employment actually increased 68% of the time. In those industries most affected by the minimum wage, employment increases were even more common: 73% of the time in the retail sector, 82% in low-wage leisure and hospitality. "These basic economic indicators show no correlation between federal minimum-wage increases and lower employment levels," the authors write. In fact, if anything, the data suggest that increases in the federal minimum appeared to encourage job growth and hiring."

Paul Street writes a review: "Obama: a Hollow Man Filled With Ruling Class Ideas: What on Earth motivated the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and law professor David J. Garrow to write an incredibly detailed 1078-page (1460 pages with endnotes and index included) biography of Barack Obama from conception through election to the White House? Not any great personal affinity for Obama on Garrow's part, that's for sure. Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama is no hagiography. On the last page of this remarkable tome, Garrow describes Obama at the end of his distinctly non-transformative and 'failed presidency' as a man who had long ago had become a 'vessel [that] was hollow at its core.' [...] His 'dollar value' to Wall Street would become abundantly clear in early 2009, when he told a frightened group of Wall Street executives that 'I'm not here to go after you. I'm protecting you... I'm going to shield you from congressional and public anger.' For the banking elite, who had destroyed untold millions of jobs, there was, as Garrow's fellow Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Sukind wrote, 'Nothing to worry about. Whereas [President Franklin Delano] Roosevelt had [during the Great Depression] pushed for tough, viciously opposed reforms of Wall Street and famously said 'I welcome their hate,' Obama was saying 'How can I help?'' As one leading banker told Suskind, 'The sense of everyone after the meeting was relief. The president had us at a moment of real vulnerability. At that point, he could have ordered us to do just about anything and we would have rolled over. But he didn't - he mostly wanted to help us out, to quell the mob.' (It's worth going back to Street's assessment of Obama's keynote address, too.)

Our rights have been taken away, and we find we are often less citizens than supplicants. We spend an awful lot of time having to deal with large, powerful organizations to beg for what we thought was already ours, even for things we have already paid for. This video is a description of the "systematic dismantling and unbundling of all instruments and mechanisms of social solidarity and reciprocity that stood against the market," and the need of most people - the Precariat - to find a new path. "A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens" - a Seminar with Guy Standing.

"What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic: Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and language use by others. People can be called out for statements and actions that are sexist, racist, ableist, and the list goes on. Because call-outs tend to be public, they can enable a particularly armchair and academic brand of activism: one in which the act of calling out is seen as an end in itself."

PSA: Why the female cashier is being nice to you

Well, I had no idea that a lawyer from Crimea could be such a celeb in Japan. "Natalia Poklonskaya finds out she's popular in internet."

How we know what's not true

Sexy fruit photos

From the first notes I asked myself, "Why didn't it ever occur to me that Todd Rundgren and Donald Fagen belong together?" See what you think: "Tin Foil Hat"

02:20 GMT comment


Tuesday, 29 May 2017

She keeps this four-ten all loaded with lead

"Supreme Court on 5-3 Vote Affirms NC Racial Gerrymandering Case, with Thomas in Majority and Roberts in Dissent: The Supreme Court has issued this 5-3 opinion in Cooper v. Harris. Justice Kagan wrote the opinion for the Court, with Justice Thomas making the fifth vote for affirmance. Chief Justice Robert and Justices Alito and Kennedy dissented. That is an interesting lineup, to be sure. There is a lot of detail but here is my bottom line: This decision by Justice Kagan is a major victory for voting rights plaintiffs, who have succeeded in turning the racial gerrymandering cause of action into an effective tool to go after partisan gerrymanders in Southern states. That Justice Kagan got Justice Thomas not only to vote this way but to sign onto the opinion (giving it precedential value) is a really big deal. Despite what is written in the text of the opinion, Justice Kagan, in a couple of footnotes (footnotes 1 and 7), attempts to solve the race or party problem by moving the Court much closer to the position of treating race and party as proxies for one another in the American South. Points 8 -10 below explains this in detail."

I can't even begin to keep track of what's going on with the whole Russia thing, but meanwhile, "Donald Trump Committed Another Impeachable Offense This Week: And it had nothing to do with the Russia investigation. [...] It did not involve firing the director of the FBI, nor conspiring with the attorney general to facilitate the firing that even some Republicans recognized as a potential obstruction of justice, nor bragging to the Russians about how 'pressure' was 'taken off' by that firing, nor any of the other acts of presidential maladministration that scream out for an accountability moment. [...] On Wednesday, US forces carried out more unauthorized air strikes on pro-government forces in Syria. Though the Constitution explicitly states that the legislative branch, not the executive, has the power to initiate new military actions, Trump has steered the United States deeper into the Syrian conflict."

On the bright side, FiveThirtyEight says, "Donald Trump's Base Is Shrinking: A widely held tenet of the current conventional wisdom is that while President Trump might not be popular overall, he has a high floor on his support. Trump's sizable and enthusiastic base - perhaps 35 to 40 percent of the country - won't abandon him any time soon, the theory goes, and they don't necessarily care about some of the controversies that the 'mainstream media' treats as game-changing developments. It's an entirely reasonable theory. [...] But the theory isn't supported by the evidence. To the contrary, Trump's base seems to be eroding. There's been a considerable decline in the number of Americans who strongly approve of Trump, from a peak of around 30 percent in February to just 21 or 22 percent of the electorate now. (The decline in Trump's strong approval ratings is larger than the overall decline in his approval ratings, in fact.) Far from having unconditional love from his base, Trump has already lost almost a third of his strong support. And voters who strongly disapprove of Trump outnumber those who strongly approve of him by about a 2-to-1 ratio, which could presage an 'enthusiasm gap' that works against Trump at the midterms. The data suggests, in particular, that the GOP's initial attempt (and failure) in March to pass its unpopular health care bill may have cost Trump with his core supporters."

David Dayen, "Steven Mnuchin Goes Through The Looking Glass-Steagall In Strange Exchange With Elizabeth Warren: SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN had a confounding exchange with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at a Senate Banking Committee hearing today. Mnuchin indicated that the Trump administration supports a 21st century version of the Glass-Steagall Act, except for the part about separating commercial and investment banks, which is substantially what is meant by Glass-Steagall. Warren wasn't having it."

The Economic Policy Institute finds "No evidence that automation leads to joblessness or inequality: In The zombie robot argument lurches on, EPI President Lawrence Mishel and Research Director Josh Bivens challenge the popular media narrative that the pace of automation is increasing, and that it will lead to overall joblessness and greater inequality. [...] What explains the failure of overall joblessness to rise despite ongoing automation? Automation allows businesses to cut costs, which leads to lower-priced goods - giving consumers additional money to spend elsewhere and creating jobs. Automation also creates complementary jobs in new industries. While there is no question that automation eliminates jobs in particular occupations or industries, historically it has not led to increased overall joblessness. There is little reason to believe that this pattern will not continue in the future." And, "'What is remarkable about the media narrative around automation is how strong the desire to believe it is, despite so little evidence to support these claims,' said Mishel. 'There clearly are serious problems in the labor market that have suppressed job and wage growth for far too long, but these problems have their roots in intentional policy decisions regarding globalization, collective bargaining, labor standards, and unemployment levels - not technological change.'"

"The Progressive Movement Just Scored a Huge Win in Philly's DA Race: Larry Krasner's victory was a referendum on Trump as well as on a whole host of issues that predate the president: immigrant rights, the war on drugs and mass incarceration. Weeks after Attorney General Jeff Sessions re-declared the war on drugs and threatened to cut federal support to police departments that do not cooperate with the administration's deportation efforts, the city of Philadelphia responded with defiance. In the Democratic primary for district attorney - the de facto election in the solidly blue city - voters chose civil rights lawyer and reformist Larry Krasner by a nearly 18-point margin. Krasner built his campaign around promises to end mass incarceration, protect rights and liberties and resist Donald Trump.
* "This wasn't just a primary victory. This was a revolution: If elected in November -- and he is the heavy favorite in this overwhelmingly Democratic town -- Krasner has pledged to never seek capital punishment while working to end bail policies that lock up people for being poor, an asset-forfeiture program that has been a national disgrace, and stop-and-frisk searches that disproportionately target non-whites."

Dems flip two deep red seats in NY special elections: "On Tuesday night, Democrats flipped not one but two state legislative seats in special elections - and both came in deep red territory. In New Hampshire, Democrat Edie DesMarais defeated Republican Matthew Plache by a 52-48 margin in the state House's 6th Carroll District, a seat Donald Trump won 51-44 last fall. Meanwhile, in the New York Assembly's 9th District, Democrat Christine Pellegrino beat Republican Thomas Gargiulo 58-42, even though Trump romped to a 60-37 victory there in November. This means that DesMarais moved the needle 11 points in the Democratic direction while Pellegrino did the same by an astounding 39 points. And while these are the first two seats to actually change hands since Trump's election, Democrats have consistently outperformed the 2016 presidential results in special elections across the country." Pellegrino is a teacher, and was a Sanders delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

"What Went Down In The Montana Special Election - FiveThrityEight's liveblog and analysis of a race where a Democrat came mighty close to winning in deep red country.
* "Lessons From Montana's Special Election Of May 25

"Why Bernie Sanders Wasn't Invited to CAP's Ideas Conference: The party has a coalition-building problem. [...] CAP president Neera Tanden explained to The Washington Post that 'We were trying to emphasize a new generation,' and a CAP spokesperson told The Nation that nobody who ran for president before was invited. That's true as far as it goes, but with any scrutiny it feels more like a post facto justification for not including Sanders. There's a big difference between Hillary Clinton - now a private citizen with no future electoral plans - and Sanders, a sitting senator who polls as the most popular politician in the country and who has pointedly not ruled out a 2020 presidential campaign. The press materials for the conference proclaimed it would 'bring together national leaders of the progressive cause,' and there's no real way Sanders doesn't fit that description, or rationally should have been excluded simply because he ran for president last year. (The presence of Susan Rice and Tom Daschle onstage also puts considerable strain on the idea that only new voices were being elevated.) [...] Meanwhile, being shunned by party bosses is rocket fuel for the Sanders movement. 'If you want to understand why establishment Democrats lose, look at CAP. They hold their...grassroots conference at the Four Seasons and don't invite grassroots progressives,' one progressive strategist affiliated with Sanders but not authorized to speak for him told The Nation. 'They charge $1,000 per ticket to attend their 'Progressive Party'...and eat canapes while wondering why they are out of touch with the rest of the country.'"
* Cenk is right about the crummy, highschool behavior of the DNC and their ridiculous exclusion of Bernie from their school prom. And I so want to smack Markos.

In other news from the Suicide Dems, looks like Debbie Wasserman Schultz has a kindred spirit in the Florida party: "So how does the new, incoming brass running the Florida Democratic Party respond? By telling constituents that "issues" don't matter and that it's not the party's job to focus on policies that will actually help anyone, like single-payer health care. Last night, the party's new second-in-command, Sally Boynton Brown, spoke in front of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Broward County. And throughout the exchange, she steadfastly refused to commit to changing the party's economic or health-care messaging in any concrete way. This is not going to be popular, but this is my belief of the time and place we're in now: I believe that we're in a place where it's very hard to get voters excited about 'issues,' the type of voters that are not voting," Brown said. [...] How important is it for candidates to concentrate on "issues" like health care or economic equality, one audience member asked. Her answer? Not very. She said candidates moving forward should focus on "identity messages" instead, which she didn't actually define. In a follow-up question, she also warned party members not to get too excited about turning districts from Republican to Democrat and said the best we ought to hope for is that Florida becomes more "purple." (She also said she was proud about not supporting either candidate in the 2016 Democratic primary, which is an odd sort of thing to boast about as a Democratic Party leader.)"

However, now that the election is over and lost, it appears a good policy is no longer unicorn-crazy. Sure would have been nice if they'd decided to do this last summer. "Democratic leaders to join Sanders on $15 minimum wage pitch. Congressional Democratic leaders will unveil a proposal to hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour on Thursday alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders, who made the issue a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and other senior Democrats will join Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, in releasing the legislation." Wow, even Steny Hoyer is in this, unlike on the single-payer bill. Amazing.

Ryan Cooper says, "Democrats: Stop. Listening. To. Rahm. Emanuel." Because, of course, establishment Dems want to follow this loser's advice. "But more importantly, Emanuel's brand of cynical deal-making politics and his handpicked congressmen led the Democratic Party as a whole into disastrous strategic errors. He personally lobbied to cut the size of the Recovery Act to below a trillion dollars, believing more was politically unrealistic. As the 2010 race got going, with unemployment stuck around 10 percent for the entire year, his moderates from the class of 2006 were a major force behind the Democrats' pivot to austerity and deficit reduction. The result was that the party's congressional majority was wiped out. "
* Another story on the same subject, "Democrats Are Turning to the Absolute Worst Person for Help Winning the 2018 Election."

"The Real Story of the Battle for California Democratic Party Chair has been made to sound like a battle between the establishment and the Berners, but it's not quite like that at all.

I'm sure we had all hoped we had heard the end of Joe Lieberman, the man without whom I am convinced we would never have had Trump, but he has reared his head again - though not in a particularly surprising way.

Just in case you wanted to know what kinds of people President Hillary was likely to surround herself by, here's the guy who was slated to head her transition team. "Ken Salazar Working For Anadarko After Promising To Honor Federal Ethics Law: Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been working for a major oil and gas company as it has sought to limit political damage after a deadly explosion near one of its Colorado wells, a spokesperson for Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and emails obtained by International Business Times and MapLight say. One of his state's most powerful Democrats, Salazar was in touch with Hickenlooper's office after the blast on behalf of Anadarko Petroleum - a company Salazar helped when he ran the Interior Department under former President Barack Obama. Salazar, a corporate lawyer, has previously said he would honor federal ethics laws by walling himself off from matters in which he was involved at the agency. Emails show he has been working for Anadarko in Colorado though he has not registered to lobby for the company there, state records show."

Win or lose, Jeremy Corbyn's poll numbers are still slightly better than Ed Miliband's were, and seem to be climbing still. May's "dementia tax" blunder, and Corbyn's speech after Manchester, seem to have made a lot of people think.

"The British establishment is putting our lives at risk: Our state's key ally is a major public threat [...] This wave of terrorism driven by Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attack, derives from a complex infrastructure of forces, working over time. But it springs ultimately from the ideology promoted by the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism, who were at least until recently funding and backing IS: they have done so to support their goal of overthrowing Assad in Syria and championing Sunni Islam in the face of rivalry with Iran. These are Britain's allies. Whitehall has a deep, long-standing special relationship with the extremist Saudis: it is arming them, backing them, apologising for them, and supporting their regional policies. At the same time, the Saudis have been helping to create the monster that now threatens the British public. So, too, have the policies of the British government." Even Boris Johnson, of all people, understood this. It's not a secret. So why do both the US and the UK continue to put up with it?

The Guardian, "Follow the data: does a legal document link Brexit campaigns to US billionaire? We reveal how a confidential legal agreement is at the heart of a web connecting Robert Mercer to Britain's EU referendum."

"White supremacist terrorist murders two men who tried to protect women from him. "Police have arrested 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian of North Portland in connection with the stabbings, which occurred after commuters on the train allegedly tried to calm the suspect who was yelling what authorities said 'would best be characterized as hate speech.'" He was haranguing two female Muslim passengers when the two intervened and he slashed their throats.

"The Long Ordeal of Julian Assange: For the past decade, WikiLeaks has published groundbreaking evidence of government and corporate abuse while getting targeted for abuse itself, including a seven-year vendetta against founder Julian Assange, says John Pilger."

"State Troopers Are Ticketing NYC Drivers More Than Ever Before [...] The paper reports that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo stationed 150 state police officers to patrol the city's bridges, tunnels and highways with the goal of building revenue and pissing off New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio."

"Black man will spend six years in Georgia prison despite jury finding him 'not guilty': Georgia judge overrules jury to incarcerate Ramad Chatman in unusual legal case."

"US admits DEA lied about Honduras 'massacre' that killed four villagers: The US Drug Enforcement Administration lied about its role in a bungled anti-narcotics operation in Honduras that left four innocent villagers dead, then misled Congress, the justice department and the public as it tried to cover its tracks, a damning bipartisan investigation has found. Honduran officers under the command of DEA agents fired at unarmed passengers traveling by taxi boat in May 2012, killing four people - including two pregnant women and a schoolboy - and seriously injuring three others."

This guy sounds pretty good, although I think America was built on more than just those two things (and that some slaves were Irish, too). "NJ's Bill Brennan Might Be the Realest Politician You've Never Heard Of [...] Bill Brennan, a Democrat, wants to be the governor of New Jersey. To that end, the veteran activist and former firefighter has positioned himself as a permanent thorn in Gov. Chris Christie's side, calling him out repeatedly for his role in 2013's politically motivated 'bridge-gate,' even going so far as to file a complaint against Christie in municipal court for official misconduct."

"Vox's CIA-Backed 'Democracy' Standard Is OK With Slavery and Women Not Voting [...] Vox, which constantly tells its readers that life is actually swell, with the momentum of history indisputably on the road to justice, decreased poverty and less war, consistently uses Polity IV to prop up its argument that 'democracy' is on the rise"

This is a pretty good speech: Transcript of New Orleans Mayor Landrieu's address on Confederate monuments. "There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth."

"Black voters say they're already losing under Trump: Conversations with Virginian voters help explain that dreadful 12-per-cent approval rating with a community he pledged to make a priority."

ACLU says, "The Trump Administration's 'Law and Order' Propaganda Is Starting to Contaminate Congress," but I think that ship sailed long ago.

Nice interview by Michael on Thursday's Majority Report, Sarah Jones: Why the New York Times Editorial Page Sucks & Hillary's New PAC.

"Tax Cuts Defund The Very Things That Boost The Economy: If you cut taxes, over time the business environment necessarily gets worse because those roads deteriorate, people are not as well educated, scientific research declines, courts clog up, regulation enforcement declines, along with about a million other things that businesses rely on. If you can't get educated employees, can't move goods on crowded and deteriorated roads and your competitors can get away with cheating, your business just isn't going to do as well as it could."

"After switching positions, Gephardt and his lobbying firm have taken $8 million from Turkish government: As a member of Congress, Dick Gephardt often spoke passionately about the need for the United States to recognize as genocide the mass deaths of as many as 1.5 million Armenians under the Turkish government that began one century ago. But as a lobbyist for Turkey since leaving Congress in 2005, Gephardt, a Democrat, has taken the opposite side. His behind-the-scenes work has been cited as a factor in the annual failure of Congress to recognize the Armenian genocide."

Ted Rall on "Non-Competes: One out of six American workers, including manual and low-level laborers, are forced to sign non-compete agreements. It's abusive, it's strange, and studies say wages are 10% lower on average as a result."

"Don't Like Betsy DeVos? Blame the Democrats. The Democratic Party paved the way for the education secretary's efforts to privatize our public schools. Listening to their cries of outrage, one might imagine that Democrats were America's undisputed champions of public education. But the resistance to DeVos obscured an inconvenient truth: Democrats have been promoting a conservative 'school reform' agenda for the past three decades. Some did it because they fell for the myths of 'accountability' and 'choice' as magic bullets for better schools. Some did it because 'choice' has centrist appeal. Others sold out public schools for campaign contributions from the charter industry and its Wall Street patrons. Whatever the motivations, the upshot is clear: The Democratic Party has lost its way on public education. In a very real sense, Democrats paved the way for DeVos and her plans to privatize the school system.

"50 Terrible Ideas That Could Become Law If Trump Is Impeached and Pence Becomes President: As many Americans ponder the prospect of Donald Trump being removed from office, they should take a deep breath and look at what a President Mike Pence and Republican Congress are likely to do if the disrupter-in-chief is sent packing." These people are a nightmare. It might be a good thing if Trump keeps messing them up.

"What Bail Does Is Coerce Guilty Pleas: CounterSpin interview with Arissa Hall on Mama's Bailout Day"

"The Usefulness of Alt-Left, EmoProg, BernieBros, and FireBaggers: The existence of all of the above phrases brings joy to my life. I consider it like nature giving skunks a broad white stripe down their back, as an extra 'bad, very, very bad' warning."

Michael Brooks and David Slavick, "No Time for a Negative Peace: This is what a failed 'resistance' looks like. What led to the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa? The African National Congress movement led by Nelson Mandela and other luminaries that pushed from the grassroots for liberation? Of course. A restive population committed to freedom and raising consciousness? Yes. A global business community who saw that the pariah nature of the apartheid system threatened the bottom line? Partially. An official opposition that promoted supposedly liberal alternatives to the Nationalist Party apartheid government in parliament? Not so much."

Rest in Peace: Roger Moore, much-beloved actor who was Beau Maverick, The Saint, and James Bond, at 89, of cancer. I was fonder of Cousin Beau and Simon Templar than of Moore's Bond, but that's nothing against him, just the fact that I met Beau first, and no one else was ever The Saint. People make jokes about Moore's acting, but no one was more deprecating of his talents than Moore himself. The net is awash in tributes and stories from admirers and colleagues alike, but this anecdote seems to have won the interwebs. However, I smiled when I read the one in this tribute.
* Gregg Allman, legendary pioneer of Southern Rock, of liver cancer. He was 69.

Regret in Perpetuity: "Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's National Security Adviser, Dies at 89." There are a lot of tributes to him from the neocons and neolibs, the establishment is full of praise, but this is the guy who was responsible for arming the Taliban and the disastrous attempt at using the military to free the American hostages in Iran.

Rot in Perdition: Roger Ailes, "the controversial, visionary founder of Fox News who was forced out of the company amid a sexual harassment scandal, has died aged 77."

Andy Grove wrote this in 2010. Things have gotten worse since then. "How America Can Create Jobs [...] Startups are a wonderful thing, but they cannot by themselves increase tech employment. Equally important is what comes after that mythical moment of creation in the garage, as technology goes from prototype to mass production. This is the phase where companies scale up. They work out design details, figure out how to make things affordably, build factories, and hire people by the thousands. Scaling is hard work but necessary to make innovation matter. The scaling process is no longer happening in the U.S. And as long as that's the case, plowing capital into young companies that build their factories elsewhere will continue to yield a bad return in terms of American jobs."

Interview with Nina Turner, "Can Dems Learn From Their 2016 Mistakes If They Do Not Acknowledge Them? [...] In order to deal with that, the Democratic party is going to have to make some confessions that it has not had the courage to make which is despite what the Russians tried to do, no one in the intelligence community has said that the Russians voted. [...] Now, in terms of what the democrats need to do moving forward is what we should have did in 2016 and even before that, Kim. That we started losing state houses and governors mansions and secretary of state's offices since 2009 and so we can not blame that on Russians."

This isn't a bad recap of "The Rise of New Labour," but every time I saw him spell "crises" as "crisis's", I wanted to bang my head against the wall.

"Hoax Science Paper Says Penis Is A Social Construct That Worsens Climate Change"

Aww, is Johnny Depp really this dumb?

"Do one brave thing today..."

Gary U.S. Bonds, "From a Buick 6"

00:25 GMT comment


Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Keepin' it unreal

Something that really bothers me is that everywhere I look, people seem to be really interested in getting rid of Trump without much consideration to what would be left if that happened. True, even with Trump in charge they all seem pretty efficient at doing horrible things, but just think how much better they'd be at it if they didn't have him to worry about. And as near as I can tell, the only other person who is worried about this is Atrios.

The Republicans passed their scary "repeal and replace" of Obamacare in the House. Democrats, more fixed on winning elections than on how many people will die if this thing makes it through the Senate, sang a happy tune to celebrate a Republican electoral loss in the next election. Trouble is, there is no guarantee of that - nor that in such an event they will fix the damage. The probability is that the bill won't get through the Senate, but the happy dance is still pretty stupid.

To add injury to injury, "Pelosi Refuses to Back Single Payer, Despite GOP Deathmongering Suddenly Taking Center Stage: " Bad policy and bad politics, Nancy. Just like it wasn't good politics for Hillary Clinton to announce during the primaries that single-payer would never, ever come to pass. Jeez, even Krauthammer says, "We will be in a single-payer system within 7 years."

Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque, "Curtains for Comey: Rocketing Through the Looking-Glass With the Troller-in-Chief: Whatever else you can say about Trump (don't get me started), he's a first-class troll: citing Comey's handling of the Clinton email probe in the last days of the campaign as his reason for firing him! The very action Trump had long praised as a "gutsy" move by Comey, one which redeemed him in Trump's eyes. That's some high-grade mendacity there, transparently false, yet told with a straight face, and pretending it was on advice of the Attorney General."

"Reporter arrested at W.Va. Capitol during visit from Conway and Price: CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A reporter was arrested Tuesday at the West Virginia Capitol for allegedly causing a disturbance and yelling questions at federal leaders in town, court records show. It happened during a visit from U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and Special Counsel to the President of the United States Kellyanne Conway. Dan Heyman, 54, of Charleston, is charged with willful disruption of governmental processes, which is a misdemeanor."

Gothomist, "State Senate Passes Bill That Would Make Assaulting A Cop A Hate Crime: The State Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would make assaulting a police officer, EMT, or other first responder akin to a hate crime. The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Fred Ashkar of Binghamton, passed 56-6 with bipartisan support." So, Democrats supported this piece of crap. Great.

Sessions is stepping up the War on (Some People Who Use Some) Drugs. "Rand Paul: Sessions' sentencing plan would ruin lives: The attorney general on Friday made an unfortunate announcement that will impact the lives of millions of Americans: he issued new instructions for prosecutors to charge suspects with the most serious provable offenses, "those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences." [...] The attorney general's new guidelines, a reversal of a policy that was working, will accentuate the injustice in our criminal justice system. We should be treating our nation's drug epidemic for what it is -- a public health crisis, not an excuse to send people to prison and turn a mistake into a tragedy."

In a rare departure from the norm, a police officer who shot a black teenager has been charged with murder.

"Three Murders in Philadelphia: In the early 1990s, the police arrested three men for crimes they didn't commit. It's taken more than 25 years for justice to be served." Coerced confessions, planted evidence, and exonerating evidence withheld - but none of those cops are going to jail.

"$elling off our freedom: How insurance corporations have taken over our bail system: Every year, millions of people are condemned to cages and separated from their families simply because they cannot afford to pay bail after an arrest. This country's justice system claims to treat people as if they are innocent until proven guilty but the reality is that before even being convicted of a crime, the accused and their families are forced to pay non-refundable deposits to bail companies in exchange for their release from jail. Bail insurers prey on those entering into the criminal justice system and trap them in debt through high fees and installment plans. These profiteers coerce people into signing over their privacy rights and when it's not profitable, they leave people in jail."

Mark Steel is the best political analyst in Britain, and he has a response to the latest claims about the evils of Corbyn. "Labour's leaked manifesto proves it's stuck in the 1970s, unlike those ultra-modern Tories who love fox hunting: Several Conservatives have taken issue with Labour's pledge to be 'extremely cautious' before using the nuclear deterrent. What sort of 1970s nonsense is that? If you're going to be extremely cautious about dissolving millions of civilians in an apocalyptic firestorm, you might as well bring back outside toilets."

Paper: "Tax cuts for whom? Heterogeneous effects of income tax changes on growth and employment [...] I find that the positive relationship between tax cuts and employment growth is largely driven by tax cuts for lower-income groups, and that the effect of tax cuts for the top 10% on employment growth is small."

Dean Baker:
* "The Fed's New Excuse for Raising Interest Rates: Helping the Poor: Bloomberg reports that Esther George, perhaps the Fed's biggest inflation hawk, has a new argument for raising interest rates: she claims that inflation is a big tax on the poor. This is peculiar for two reasons. First, the people who are denied work as a result of higher interest rates will be disproportionately those at the bottom of the ladder: African Americans, Hispanics, and workers with less education. Furthermore, higher unemployment rates mean that the workers who have jobs will have less bargaining power and be less able to push up their wages. It's hard to see how people who lose jobs and get lower pay increases will benefit from a slightly lower inflation rate. The other reason why the argument doesn't quite work is that even the modest inflation we have seen in recent years is driven almost entirely by rising rents."
* "The Need for Job Killing Robots in Pension Fund Management: Gretchen Morgenson had a good piece this weekend on fees paid by public pension funds. These fees are large and have grown rapidly in recent decades. The fees go to some of the richest people in the country, such as private equity and hedge fund managers (think of Peter Peterson or Mitt Romney). The fees often do not correspond to any benefits to the pension funds in the form of higher returns. In other words, these fees are the equivalent of a massive welfare program under which the taxpayers are putting money in the pockets of some of the richest people in the country, for doing nothing."

David Dayen:
* In The American Prospect, "Our Bankrupt Policy for Puerto Rico: The restructuring of the island's debt allows no role for the Puerto Rico's government." You guessed it - austerity imposed from without. Like Greece, only smaller. (More here.)
* At The Fiscal Times, "Who's Watching Wall Street? The Feds Turn a Blind Eye to Goldman's Game [...] There's only one problem with these investments: They're supposed to be illegal under the Dodd-Frank Act. But 'the law' is only as good as the men and women willing to enforce it, as Goldman Sachs has discovered to its delight. Big banks have turned one key section of Dodd-Frank into mush, such that Goldman can flaunt its defiance openly without an ounce of fear. It makes me wonder why House Republicans are working so hard to repeal Wall Street reform when regulators have shown so much willingness to repeal by neglect."
* At The Nation, "Trump Is Helping Big Media Companies Get Bigger: And it's looking like a mutually beneficial relationship." Pretty scary. Tribune was already big and right-wing, but Sinclair is genuinely part of the far-right media infrastructure. Laws against this kind of media conglomeration existed for very good reason. Unfortunately, as with so many things, Bill Clinton and his friends just didn't understand it when they did away with those restraints.
* At The Intercept, "Pressure On Democrats Pays Off As Chuck Schumer Picks Consumer Advocate For FTC Nominee: AFTER PRESSURE FROM consumer advocates, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has recommended Rohit Chopra, a former official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), for an open Democratic seat on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). As reported by The Intercept in March, Schumer had previously been considering his ex-Chief of Staff David Hantman - a former lobbyist for Yahoo and Airbnb who opposed regulation on Silicon Valley firms - for the position. After details of Hantman's past work became public, Schumer last month told the International Business Times that he would not be submitting Hantman's name. Chopra, by contrast, has a strong record of action on consumer issues."

"Paul Ryan Needs An Electoral Opponent-- And We're Very Close To Announcing One: Once again-- as it's done every two years like clockwork since Pelosi gained control over the committee-- the DCCC has moved to protect Paul Ryan's reelection. A swingy southeast Wisconsin district that Obama won in 2008, 51-48%, WI-01 offers an obvious Democratic target-- one the DCCC habitually refuses to consider, even going so far as to sabotage local candidates and asking institutional Democratic donors to cut off their funding. WI-01 is not on the DCCC target lists this year, despite the fact that Paul Ryan is the single most disliked and mistrusted politician in America."

Read an excerpt from Noam Chomsky's new book, Requiem for the American Dream: The Ten Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power, "Principle #6: Running the Regulators [...] Remember, there were no financial crashes in the '50s and the '60s, because the regulatory apparatus of the New Deal was still in place. As it began to be dismantled under business pressure and political pressure, you get more and more crashes, and it goes on right through the years - the '70s is where deregulation starts, and the '80s is where crashes really take off."

"Democrats say they now know exactly why Clinton lost: WASHINGTON - A group of top Democratic Party strategists have used new data about last year's presidential election to reach a startling conclusion about why Hillary Clinton lost. Now they just need to persuade the rest of the party they're right."

Greg Sargent, "Why did Trump win? New research by Democrats offers a worrisome answer. [...] One finding from the polling stands out: A shockingly large percentage of these Obama-Trump voters said Democrats' economic policies will favor the wealthy - twice the percentage that said the same about Trump."

"Why Do So Many Americans Think Democrats Are Out of Touch? The party appears to be struggling to convince the public it represents a better alternative to President Trump and the GOP."

Marcy Wheeler, "The Obamacare Not Comey Effect: Unless Wang's chart is totally mislabeled (Update: In an 'explanation' added to his post, Wang effectively says his graph is off by three - though not four - days due to the way he presents multi-day polls; he has, at least, now told his readers when the actual letter came out) but what it shows seems to be consistent with what I showed in this post, which shows a Hillary dip and a Trump spike moving in concert on before October 28), then his chart show doesn't support a Comey effect at all - it shows the opposite. The differential started narrowing after October 24. By October 28, when the letter was released, the differential had plateaued before it turned up again. As it turns out, the ObamaCare spike was announced on October 24 (and reported heavily starting October 25)."

CMike tweeted, "Healthcare wonks, consider this Tea Party-er's proposal. Case closed as to whether our system is totally FUBAR. "The Bill To Permanently Fix Health Care For All"

"Low Black Turnout May Have Cost Clinton the Election [...] According to Demos' Sean McElwee, UMass - Amherst's Jesse Rhodes and Brian Schaffner, and Indiana University's Bernard Fraga, black turnout declined by 4.7 points from 2012 nationally while white turnout increased by 2.4 points. Crucially, the drop in black turnout was even sharper in states where the margin of victory was less than 10 points than it was nationally - in those battleground states, black turnout dropped 5.3 points. In two critical states that swung to Trump - Michigan and Wisconsin - black turnout dropped by just more than 12 points. Declines were less dramatic but significant in other swing states Trump carried: Ohio (down 7.5 points), Florida (4.2), and Pennsylvania (2.1)."

Bernie Sanders had a chat with Jimmy Carter. The story linked is just repeating that Carter voted for Sanders, but the video looks to be the whole discussion.

"The New York Times defended hiring former Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens - a writer who has promoted climate denial and bigotry against Arabs - by insisting that it is seeking diversity of thought. Public Editor Liz Spayd responded to readers' complaints about Stephens by writing that the Times is looking 'to include a wider range of views, not just on the Opinion pages but in its news columns.' But hiring another prominent writer whose ideology hems close to that of the nation's elites - in this case, fossil fuel corporations who are polluting the world and advocates of Western military might - is hardly adding intellectual diversity to the pages of the Times." The Times, strangely, has no columnists representing the view of supporters of the most popular politician in America (Bernie Sanders), or the current president, who happens to be popular with Republicans. There are no young people and no Arab or Muslim Americans, although they are frequent topics in the paper. Despite the embarrassment of still employing Thomas "Suck on this" Friedman, the NYT has no counter-balancing opponent of insane militarism, and of course the hire of Stephens would only represesnt "diversity" of views if they also employed a columnist who was an environmental advocate.

"Stephen Fry's blasphemy probe dropped after Irish police fail to find 'enough outraged people': Asked in 2015 by the programme's host, Gay Byrne, what he would say to God if he arrived in heaven, Mr Fry replied: 'I'd say, bone cancer in children? What's that about?' 'How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault? It's not right, it's utterly, utterly evil.'Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain? 'We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of god would do that? 'The god who created this universe, if it was created by god, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish.'"

"Bernie Sanders Is Building An Army To Stop Trumpcare Dead In Its Tracks In The Senate: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wasted no time in immediately mobilizing the opposition that will be needed to kill Trumpcare in the US Senate. In a statement provided to PoliticusUSA, Sen. Sanders said, 'The bill that Republicans passed today is an absolute disaster. It really has nothing to do with health care. It has everything to do with an enormous shift of wealth from working people to the richest Americans. This bill would throw 24 million people off of health insurance - including thousands of Vermonters - cut Medicaid by $880 billion, defund Planned Parenthood and substantially increase premiums on older Americans. Meanwhile, it would provide a $300 billion tax break to the top 2 percent and hundreds of billions more to the big drug and insurance companies that are ripping off the American people. Our job now is to rally millions of Americans against this cruel bill to make sure that it does not pass the Senate. Instead of throwing tens of millions of people off of health insurance, we must guarantee health care as a right to all.'"

"Progressive Attorney Unseats Business-Friendly Mississippi Mayor: Chokwe Antar Lumumba picks up where his late father left off." He ran to replace his father when he died in 2014 and lost, but now he will be taking his seat.
* "Meet the Left Radical Who Will Likely Be Jackson, Mississippi's Next Mayor"

"Georgia Can't Block New Voters From Registering in the Ossoff-Handel Runoff: In a big win for voting rights, a federal court overturns the state's 90-day registration deadline"

"John Oliver Has Another Brilliant Plan to Save Net Neutrality From 'Cable Company F***ery' (Video)" - I can't actually see the video, but there's a short article and a link to some contacts.

A review by Rob Levine, "Twenty five years later charter schools a costly, failed experiment: Ember Reichgott Junge's book provides a clear view into the history of charter schools in Minnesota, just not the one she intended" She says it was a "grassroots" movement, but it was led entirely by the big shots, and against everyone else.

"We Asked ICE About the Prank Calls to Their Anti-Immigrant Hotline and They Kind of Lost Their Shit."

Have some Single-Payer cartoons.

"How to pronounce Emmanuel Macron"

Who shot Martin Luther King? On the record, it was nothing like the story you've heard. Lee Camp starts off with a fact that shocked me. The True Conspiracy To Kill Martin Luther King Jr.

Congratulations to our friend Whit Diffie for his election to The Royal Society.

"The Rock-Star Appeal of Modern Monetary Theory [...] For a small but committed group of economists, academics, and activists who adhere to a doctrine called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), though, #mintthecoin was the tip of the economic iceberg. The possibility of a $1 trillion coin represented more than mere monetary sophistry: It drove home their foundational point that fiat currency is a social construct, and that there are therefore no fiscal limits on how much a sovereign currency-issuing nation can spend.

The article is about the British election, and the headline seems misleading, but aside from the fact that Corbyn is doing better than expected in the polls, contains a piece of advice the Clinton team badly missed: "Unnoticed and unreported, Jeremy Corbyn is surging in the polls: Labour's vote share is increasing as the election approaches. [...] As I've said before and will say again, the only bits of an election that matter are the bits that people who don't care about politics see: the newsbreaks between songs on music radio, the pictures that play without sound on Sky News in every Wetherspoons through the country, the few minutes at the start of the six and ten o'clock news before people switch channels - or the few minutes at the end before they switch back."

I hate to link to Kristof, but he's talking about people who are smarter and more moral than he is, and right in America, too, in "Meet Dr. Willie Parker, a Southern Christian Abortion Provider [...] 'I believe that as an abortion provider, I am doing God's work,' Parker writes in his new memoir, 'Life's Work.' 'I am protecting women's rights, their human right to decide their futures for themselves, and to live their lives as they see fit.' Since childhood, Parker had been taught that abortion was wrong, and for the first half of his career as an OB-GYN, he refused to perform abortions. But then he had what he calls his 'come to Jesus moment,' an epiphany that his calling was to help women who wanted to end their pregnancies."

"How 'Russiagate' Got So Much Momentum: A new book about Hillary Clinton's last campaign for president - Shattered, by journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes - has gotten a lot of publicity since it appeared two weeks ago. But major media have ignored a revealing passage near the end of the book. Soon after Clinton's defeat, top strategists decided where to place the blame. 'Within 24 hours of her concession speech,' the authors report, campaign manager Robby Mook and campaign chair John Podesta 'assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn't entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.' Six months later, that centerpiece of the argument is rampant - with claims often lurching from unsubstantiated overreach to outright demagoguery. A lavishly-funded example is the 'Moscow Project,' a mega-spin effort that surfaced in midwinter as a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It's led by Neera Tanden, a self-described 'loyal solider' for Clinton who also runs the Center for American Progress (where she succeeded Podesta as president). The Center's board includes several billionaires."

And speaking of Books about Clinton, Susan Bordo wrote one, too, The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, but Sarah Jones at The New Republic sees it as "The Deification of Hillary Clinton [...] In The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, the feminist scholar seeks to absolve Clinton for her loss to Donald Trump. To do so, she presents a raft of justifications: James Comey, Wikileaks, conservatives, Bernie Sanders, and dumb young people. There is scarcely a mention of policy positions Clinton took during her campaign that were less than inspiring, or of moments when the candidate seemed to misread the public mood - such as her repeated claim that 'America is already great.' Any rational analysis of Clinton's career and campaigns must include an examination of her mistakes, but Destruction is not rational. Bordo starts from the conviction that Hillary Clinton, as 'the most qualified candidate in history,' should have won. Clinton's actions interest her less than what she deems as Clinton's greatness. It's not an investigation but a deification. [...] Bordo's objection seems to be that anyone opposed Clinton at all, even from the left. What she does not grasp - and is seemingly not interested in grasping - is that Clinton's critics from the left were not opposing a caricature of her as some kind of right-wing political operator. We opposed Clinton-the-hawk and Clinton-the-means-tester. Our objection was about politics, not personality. Similarly, we do not reject the feminism of Bordo and Clinton because of its ideological rigidity, as Bordo suggests. We reject it because it is insufficient. America was not 'already great.' Our lives are proof."

"If Bernie says working class and you hear white working class, it is on you not Bernie [...] Bernie's economic agenda would benefit the entire working class, most especially in the lives of women and minorities. I am so sickened to see the donor class attempt to trick people into thinking that Bernie is attacking them when it is just the reverse. I am even more sickened to see people who should know better fall for it."

Thomas Frank, "The Democrats' Davos ideology won't win back the midwest: The party has harmed millions of their own former constituents. If they change course, they can reverse their losses [...] The wreckage that you see every day as you tour this part of the country is the utterly predictable fruit of the Democratic party's neoliberal turn. Every time our liberal leaders signed off on some lousy trade deal, figuring that working-class people had 'nowhere else to go,' they were making what happened last November a little more likely. "

"For Health and Freedom: Civil rights activists knew their struggle was incomplete without winning a just health care system. They're an inspiration for single-payer activists today."

"Weaponized Philanthropy: Document Trove Details Bradley Foundation'S Efforts To Build Right-Wing 'Infrastructure' Nationwide [...] The documents open a window to the behind-the-scenes workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. With $835 million in assets as of June 2016, the Bradley Foundation is as large as the three Koch family foundations combined, yet receives much less attention as a significant funder of the right."
* "Bradley Foundation Bankrolls Attacks On Unions."

Carole Cadwalladr in the Guardian, "Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media: With links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, the rightwing US computer scientist is at the heart of a multimillion-dollar propaganda network. [...] We're not quite in the alternative reality where the actual news has become 'FAKE news!!!' But we're almost there. Out on Twitter, the new transnational battleground for the future, someone I follow tweets a quote by Marshall McLuhan, the great information theorist of the 60s. 'World War III will be a guerrilla information war,' it says. 'With no divisions between military and civilian participation.' By that definition we're already there."
* Carole Cadwalladr in the Observer, "The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked: A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum. As Britain heads to the polls again, is our electoral process still fit for purpose?"
* Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, "The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind The Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer exploited America's populist insurgency"

I was disappointed in Todd Gittlin's article about how Americans have lost faith in the news media, because it seems to be all about Trump and Republicans. But a lot of highly-informed news junkies can tell you that the media is full of junk, and it's not just Fox news.

"The Democratic Party Is a Ghost: Democratic Party elites don't have ideals. They just need you to be scared of the Republicans. [...] The Democratic leadership looks hardly different than it has for my entire adult life, a grim and aging collection of Clinton apparatchiks totally secure in their sinecures - all the more so because the only time the party ever does use what power it has, it's to quash any discontent from its base or its leftward flank."

And, in another stellar display of the diversity and civilized, mature decorum we expect from Clinton partisans, "An Editor at Ms. Magazine Rejoices That Someday Bernie Sanders Will Die." Katie Halper reports.

Jimmy Carter, "Losing my religion for equality: Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God. I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult."

Richard J. Eskow, "Yes, Obama's $400,000 Speech is a Problem: A new poll shows fully two-thirds of the American public agrees with this statement: 'The Democratic Party is out of touch with the concerns of most people.' And scarcely more than one in four Democrats themselves think the party understands most people's everyday concerns. It was also just announced that Barack Obama, following in the well-heeled footsteps of Bill and Hillary Clinton, will be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for giving a speech on behalf of a Wall Street firm. Anyone who thinks these two facts aren't connected isn't paying attention. Obama's payday reflects a longstanding pattern of behavior from Democratic leaders: Talk like liberals, govern from the center, and make a lot of money once you're out of office."
* Gaius Publius, "Obama Harvests His Presidency:
* And oddly, even The New York Times editorial board is critical of "The Cost of Barack Obama's Speech."
* "Barack Obama's $400,000 speaking fees reveal what few want to admit: His mission was never racial or economic justice. It's time we stop pretending it was."
* Elsewhere, Gaius reminded me of an article James K. Galbraith wrote back in 2011, "The Bad Deal: Over here reality has been evident for a while, thanks to the President's pattern of giving way to banks, lobbies, Republicans and right-wing extremists. Whether your prime interest is housing, health care, peace, justice, jobs or climate change, if you are an activist in America you have known for a long time that this President is not your friend. [...] The debt deal will make things clear. The President is not a progressive ' he is not what Americans still call a 'liberal.' He is a willful player in an epic drama of faux-politics, an operative for the money power, whose job is to neutralize the left with fear and distraction and then to pivot rightward and deliver a conservative result."

"Why the U.S. pays more for health care than the rest of the world [...] Other countries will say, here's the maximum price. Go ahead and compete below that. And in other countries, there's policy that you can charge a lot when you have a wonderful new technology, but as it gets older, that price has to keep coming down. And what we see in the United States, pretty much uniquely, is, as technologies get older, sometimes the price can go up, and can go up a lot. [...] In Japan, that same test would cost $100 to $150, because, in Japan, those prices have to go down over time. You can't say, wow, this was a great new technology 30 years ago, and so we're going to raise the price because it's even greater now. It's not. It's basically the same."

"Stay in a hospital, pay the CEO $56 a night: Norman Roth has a great job. He's the CEO of the relatively small Greenwich Hospital in southern Connecticut, and for each night patients stayed at his hospital in 2015, he got paid $56.40."

"The way forward for progressives" introduces an upcoming book: "As previously noted, this work traces the way the Left fell prey to what we call the globalisation myth and formed the view that the state has become powerless (or severely constrained) in the face of the transnational movements of goods and services and capital flows. Social democratic politicians frequently opine that national economic policy must be acceptable to the global financial markets and, as a result, champion right-wing policies that compromise the well-being of their citizens. The book traces both the history of this decline into neo-liberalism by the Left and also presents what might be called a 'Progressive Manifesto' to guide policy design and policy choices for progressive governments. We hope that the 'Manifesto' will empower community groups by demonstrating that the TINA mantra, where these alleged goals of the amorphous global financial markets are prioritised over real goals like full employment, renewable energy and revitalised manufacturing sectors is bereft and a range of policy options, now taboo in this neo-liberal world are available. In today's blog "

Last year, Gary Young went to "Middletown" to look at how America was experiencing the election up-close. His final dispatch was, "How Trump took middle America [...] But the issue was not simply about trade or globalisation: to many voters in Muncie, Clinton looked not only like an integral part of the establishment that had brought them to this place, but like a candidate advocating more of the same. 'If you take a step back and look at all America has achieved over the past eight years, it's remarkable to see how far we've come,' Clinton argued. For many of those who already had their backs against the wall, it was hard to see the progress. Trump, on the other hand, offered the near certainty that something would change. 'At least he'll shake things up,' was the phrase that kept coming up. One in five of those who voted for him thought he didn't have the temperament to be president. For some who had little to lose, he was evidently a risk worth taking. 'The Democrats keep making out like everything is OK,' says Todd Smekens, the publisher of the progressive online magazine Muncie Voice. 'And it's not. Nobody's buying it.'"

"Fellas, Should You Roll Up Your Sleeves? Here's the answer!"

Stranger Things Kids Performance at the EMMY -Dance Performance

21:17 GMT comment


Wednesday, 03 May 2017

Action-packed adventure

I sure hope I never again have to wake up from surgery during a shift change.

Having noticed that the Parliamentary Labour Party has effectively demolished it's own leader in the polls, the Tories saw their chance and Theresa May has announced an election. Labour has never been so weak, thanks to the efforts of the Blairites, and it seems pretty clear that they have no chance. Smart Tories have an ace up their sleeve: "Nicola Sturgeon and yes, Jeremy Corbyn, would demolish May in debate. If any party other than the Tories was declining to take part in debate, the media would quite rightly attack them for it. Do not however expect any more than token remonstration from the broadcasters; they are far too complicit in the cottonwool packaging of May, and have too deep an investment in the Unionist project, to rock the boat. Indeed, the media will now seek to frame any debate between opposition leaders which does go ahead as a gathering of losers, a carnival of grotesques. Any resemblance between this British general election and democracy is purely coincidental."

Meanwhile, the DNC goes to court and not only admits that the primaries were rigged, but claims a right to rig them. "DNC Shatters The Illusion Of American Democracy In Order To Keep People's 27 Bucks: Well that didn't take much. After all the time and effort that those of us in the alternative media have been pouring into our attempts to show people that democracy does not exist in America, the political establishment has stepped forward and admitted it candidly with its own face hole. A recently-released transcript of Florida court documents has revealed that the Democratic National Committee's first line of defense in their motion to dismiss a lawsuit against them by defrauded Bernie Sanders supporters is to state that they are under no contractual obligation to provide the American people with real party primaries."

So Trump bombed Syria. What's remarkable to me is the sudden emergence of members of Obama's circle who are suddenly erupting in vast applause for Trump bombing Syria - apparently, he was reining them in for all this time. The Washington press corps has suddenly decided Trump is "presidential" now that he's bombing someone for no good reason and with no plan. The neocons and the TV faces all have a tingle down their leg. But Robert Parry says it's "Trump's 'Wag the Dog' Moment: Just two days after news broke of an alleged poison-gas attack in northern Syria, President Trump brushed aside advice from some U.S. intelligence analysts doubting the Syrian regime's guilt and launched a lethal retaliatory missile strike against a Syrian airfield. The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ford Williams) Trump immediately won plaudits from Official Washington, especially from neoconservatives who have been trying to wrestle control of his foreign policy away from his nationalist and personal advisers since the days after his surprise victory on Nov. 8. [...] But a number of intelligence sources have made contradictory assessments, saying the preponderance of evidence suggests that Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels were at fault, either by orchestrating an intentional release of a chemical agent as a provocation or by possessing containers of poison gas that ruptured during a conventional bombing raid. One intelligence source told me that the most likely scenario was a staged event by the rebels intended to force Trump to reverse a policy, announced only days earlier, that the U.S. government would no longer seek 'regime change' in Syria and would focus on attacking the common enemy, Islamic terror groups that represent the core of the rebel forces." That story buries the lede, though, which is that there's no reliable evidence that Assad was guilty of the charge in this case. "New Evidence that Syrian Gas Story Was Fabricated by the White House" - Does this sound familiar?
* Really, no one is taking "The White House Report seriously, are they?
* Norman Solomon, "Russia-Baiting Pushed Trump to Attack Syria - and Increases the Risks of Nuclear Annihilation."
* Hm, I wonder where this stuff comes from.... "MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Sees a 'Russia Connection' Lurking Around Every Corner."
* "Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria Strikes - Zero Are Critical."

Of course, this was an opportunity for a bit of proxy warring against Sanders by attacking Tulsi Gabbard for not instantly supporting Trump's attack on Syria, instead saying: "'This administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning.' Gabbard added she would support Assad's prosecution and execution as a war criminal if the attacks were proven, though she still wouldn't support military action. 'A successful prosecution of Assad (at the International Criminal Court) will require collection of evidence from the scene of the incident, and I support the United Nation's efforts in this regard. Without such evidence, a successful prosecution is impossible.'" Clintonites claim this statement was "pro-Assad".

Andrew Cuomo announces free college for New York, and it sure sounds to me like a bit of a fraud. For one thing, you can't be a part-time student or one who takes a semester off to try to earn some money to keep going. It doesn't cover books, which are pretty expensive these days.

"Irish Citizens Assembly votes to amend abortion laws: Pro-choice campaigners disappointed by vote to amend, rather than repeal, Eighth Amendment." Still, a very big deal. "A special committee set up to discuss Irish abortion laws has voted in favour of changing the constitutional clause which effectively criminalises abortion - but stopped short of repealing the law entirely. The Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution protects the 'right to life of the unborn', and termination is illegal in Ireland in all but the most exceptional circumstances, where there is a 'real and substantial risk' to the mother's life." But I'm with Siobhan Fenton, who tweeted: "Not going to lie lads, I am crying my eyes out. Irish women have waited so long for this. Huge day for the country."

Payoff time: "Obama to net $400K for Wall Street speech: report: Former President Obama has agreed to speak at a Wall Street conference for $400,000, according to a new report. Obama will appear at Cantor Fitzgerald LP's healthcare conference in September, Fox Business Network first reported Monday. Fox Business said it confirmed Obama's appearance with senior members at Cantor, a financial services firm." The worst Clintonite troll in my twitter feed is manfully defending this receipt of a bribe, but Obama telegraphed it in The Audacity of Hope. He was happy to describe it, but he wasn't going to go against it. (More of that in this piece from a year ago.)

"The retail apocalypse is creating a 'slow-rolling crisis' that is rippling through the US economy: Retailers are closing thousands of stores and going bankrupt at a rate not seen since the recession, and tens of thousands of people are losing their jobs as a result. The effects of these job losses will hit local economies hard, according to Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia Business School." Scary.

"The Long, Lucrative Right-wing Grift Is Blowing Up in the World's Face." As has been obvious for a while now, the fountain of "conservative" rationalization of insane policies the oligarchs have been feeding the rubes has worked beyond their wildest expectations, actually convincing so many that they have run for office and taken their seats sincerely believing the nonsense that was never supposed to be taken seriously by anyone in power. But a considerable portion of Congress, and now the White House, is finally occupied by those very rubes, and no one knows how to control them. Pity the Democrats didn't make the arguments when they had a chance to stop this train.

This was rather amazing, given how solidly red the seat has been, but a progressive Dem came within six points of taking it. "The Kansas Democrat who nearly pulled off the impossible has some advice for his party: James Thompson says Democrats can't ignore red states." But Senator Sanders says the DCCC could have done more. (Of course, in my Twitter feed, Clintonistas are demanding to know where Bernie was. He was, of course, in Kansas.) Gosh, I wonder why someone stole the machines.

"Jeff Sessions Getting Rich Filling Private Prisons: It's more than a conflict of interest. The more people Attorney General Jeff Sessions sends to private prisons, the more money he shoves in his pockets. From announcing he wants federal law enforcement agencies to bust people for a little bit of weed, to ordering federal prosecutors to find ways to convict more immigrants, Sessions is looking for ways to provide more clients to private prisons that are contracted by the federal government. [...] As Attorney General Sessions fills these private prisons, he is making money. According to his latest financial disclosures required by congress, dated December 23, 2016, he divested of other investments that were found to be in conflict. In these disclosures, he also lists numerous Vanguard funds. Vanguard owns more private prison stock than any other investment management company. None of the Vanguard funds listed below were included in the divestiture."

"After $30k lawsuit, regional Massachusetts SWAT team releases use of force policy." They tried to claim they were a non-profit and therefore didn't have to.

Something tells me Rahm just isn't all that serious about police reform and transparency. "City delays release of police shooting video despite 90-day policy."

"Alabama Senate votes to allow church to form police dept. MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Senate has voted to allow a church to form its own police force. Lawmakers on Tuesday voted 24-4 to allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to establish a law enforcement department. The church says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe. Critics of the bill argue that a police department that reports to church officials could be used to cover up crimes."

"Police Arrested This Cop Watch Activist - But Then Recorded Themselves by Accident: Last August, Jose LaSalle, a prominent New York City Cop Watch activist, was arrested after filming a stop-and-frisk near a housing project in the South Bronx. Though filming the police is legal, LaSalle was charged with 'obstructing governmental administration.' LaSalle claims he was standing far away from the incident. To continue documenting his own arrest, the veteran activist left his two phones and a GoPro camera turned on and recording as he was being taken to a nearby police station."

"Broken door, broken promise: Police renege on pledge to ask judges for permission in no-knock raids: WORCESTER - After a 2015 'no-knock' SWAT raid that found a shaken family at gunpoint instead of the targeted criminal"

"How the Government Is Turning Protesters Into Felons" - Basically, this amounts to treating a protest even as a crime in itself, and then saying everyone who attended was complicit in any property damage that occurred. And then throwing the book at them.

"Minnesota police department wins Twitter again with hilarious 4/20 tweet."

"New Orleans district attorney has been sending fake subpoenas to witnesses to make them testify: The Orleans Parish district attorney's office has been caught issuing fake subpoenas that threatened if the recipient ignored the notice he or she would be fined or imprisoned, according to The Lens."

"Report: Body of country's first female Muslim judge found in Hudson River: Sheila Abdus-Salaam served as an associate judge of the Court of Appeals. She was the first African-American woman to serve on New York's top court. She was 65."

California fighting the trend and going for single-payer, but of course, Big Corporate Money Opposes Single-Payer Proposal. "As health care premiums rise and insurers threaten to leave Obamacare's state exchanges, polls show that a majority of Americans now support the creation of a universal, government-funded health care program. The so-called single-payer system has been a long-sought goal of progressive groups, who now hope that California lawmakers will pass a bill to create such a system. Proponents hope the system could then begin moving the United States to follow Canada, which saw its own national single-payer system first begin in the province of Saskatchewan. But before that happens, single-payer proponents are going to have to overcome powerful resistance. While California is known as a liberal stronghold, industry groups with a financial interest in blocking the measure are lining up in opposition - and they have poured cash into the campaigns of key state lawmakers who will decide the fate of the bill."

Rob Levine with some original research, "Free to choose a Walmart school: Poverty Academies, Segregation Academies and a foundation plan to destroy the Minneapolis public school district

"Fifty Shades of Green" - Thomas Ferguson, Jie Chen, and Paul Jorgensen at the Roosevelt Institute, on the effect of money in politics.
* "Does Money Buy Votes? Most Americans Say Yes; A New Study Says They're Right [...] The researchers found that for every $100,000 the financial industry spent on campaign contributions for a House Democrat who voted for Dodd-Frank, they were able to increase the likelihood that same Democrat would vote to dismantle parts of the bill by 13.9 percent, according to the study."

David Dayen on "How Congress Could Make Steve Bannon's Wildest Dream Come True: Beyond the competing sets of spin about the success or failure of Donald Trump's first hundred days, even the most committed liberal partisan can admit that he has allowed corporate America to run wild."

"'Superman Is Not Coming: Erin Brockovich on the Future of Water [...] 'It's not just one Flint. It's hundreds of Flints," Brockovich, who became a household name in 2000 when Julia Roberts portrayed her in an Oscar-winning film, tells me in an interview. 'We've already slipped and we're on the cusp of Third World conditions when it comes to our water supply.'"

The first event of Bernie Sanders' and Tom Perez's Come Together Fight Back Tour - Portland, ME.
* "The Democratic Party's messaging rift, in one short video: But serious differences between the Democratic Party's factions remain. On Wednesday, Sanders and Perez appeared with MSNBC's Chris Hayes for their first joint interview - and it didn't take long for Hayes to pry open the split in the politicians' worldviews."

Suddenly the Clintonistas are going all purity troll because Sanders and Perez are out there campaigning for Dems who aren't perfect. The New Republic, of all places, launches a defense, but frankly the whole tempest is pretty rich when you have Nancy Pelosi saying "'Of course' Dems can be against abortion" - and then of course, there was this candidate.

Yves Smith, "Democrat Disunity: Hypocritical Media Attacks on Sanders: On every conceivable front, the Democrats double downing down on the strategy that led them to hemorrhage losses in representation, meaning power, at every level of government. In keeping, more and more voters are leaving the party. The latest repeat of a failed strategy is to try to smear Sanders in a cack-handed effort to win over his base. This is as likely to succeed as calling Trump voters 'deplorables' did."
* Alas, there's not a prayer that these people who are attacking Bernie will realize the effect they are having on the polls and cut it out.

No, seriously, it may be true that President Trump is least popular president at 100-day mark, it's even worse for the Democrats.

"The DNC and DCCC Confirm They Won't Support Progressive Candidates [...] Rather than this special election representing an anomaly or misstep from the Democratic leadership, there's a prevailing trend within the party's establishment to select and support weak, centrist candidates who provide the party with opportunities to fundraise from corporate donors. This trend is symptomatic of a revolving door within the Democratic Party leadership, where party officials often sell out to work for Republican lobbying firms. The Intercept's Lee Fang pointed out Mark Squier, John Donovan, and CR Wooters as just a few examples."

"The Democratic party is undermining Bernie Sanders-style candidates: Since losing the presidency to a Cheeto-hued reality TV host, the Democratic party's leadership has made it clear that it would rather keep losing than entertain even the slightest whiff of New Deal style social democracy."

Paul Street still thinks, "Bernie Sanders, the Company Man" is just corralling us for the Dems. I think he's looking at it the wrong way, but we shall see.

"Quick thoughts about airline economics [...] There are two things wrong with this line that air travel is awful because consumers' true revealed preference is that it should be awful and cheap. First, there is the fact that air travel managed by the main domestic carriers in the United States is uniquely awful, and there is no evidence that US travelers are any more price conscious than consumers in other countries. No frills, discount air travel is popular in Europe as well, and it is sometimes awful, but it is on the whole much cheaper than 'discount' air travel within the US. Mainstream carriers almost everywhere else in the developed world are notably less awful than the big American carriers, and often just as cheap."

Naomi Klein on "How to Jam the Trump Brand"

"'Trump Is Just Tearing Off the Mask': An Interview with Eric Foner [...] ? It's very easy to say, 'Oh, Trump's gone off the reservation.' But actually, this is part of the American political culture, past and present. Our politics has not always been like the Lincoln-Douglas debates, some high-minded discussion of important issues. Even those debates weren't like that! We have seen the low road many a time. Go back to the Know-Nothings, George Wallace, Richard Nixon, the Southern strategy. This is an important strand of our political culture. That's a more frightening thought than calling Trump a lunatic and an aberration. He is the logical extension of the way the Republican Party has been operating since Barry Goldwater. This is how the Republican Party has gotten votes for 50 years - Trump is just tearing off the mask. Now he just says right out the racism that was only barely hidden for so long. An accurate history would show that it's always been there. We shouldn't just talk about how weird Trump is.

"Bernie Sanders Condemns Threats Against Ann Coulter Speech At Berkeley: 'To me, it's a sign of intellectual weakness.'"

"A Bernie Sanders Campaign Adviser Was a Russian. Now He's Speaking Out: A high-level adviser and operative for the 2016 Sanders campaign was Vitali Shkliarov, a Soviet-born citizen of Belarus. Shkliarov, who had previously worked on the 2012 Obama re-election campaign and for several other successful Democratic Party campaigns, has also become increasingly in demand as a political adviser and campaign manager in Russia, working for liberal candidates in opposition to President Vladimir Putin. Possessing a unique background and vantage point, Shkliarov, now that the 2016 election is over, has many interesting observations to express on the state of American politics, the Democratic Party, U.S.-Russian relations, and the impact of rising anti-Russian sentiment in the U.S."

"Exclusive: Julian Assange Strikes Back at CIA Director and Talks Trump, Russia, and Hillary Clinton [...] 'For the head of the CIA to pronounce what the boundaries are, of reporting or not reporting ' is a very disturbing precedent. The head of the CIA determining who is a publisher, who's not a publisher, who's a journalist, who's not a journalist, is totally out of line.'"

"Bernie Sanders Spoke From A Ben & Jerry's Tub Podium And Twitter Users Couldn't Cope"

"How this garlic farm went from a labor shortage to over 150 people on its applicant waitlist: Christopher Ranch, which grows garlic on 5,000 acres in Gilroy, Calif., announced recently that it would hike pay for farmworkers from $11 an hour to $13 hour this year, or 18%, and then to $15 in 2018. That's four years earlier than what's required by California's schedule for minimum wage increases. Ken Christopher, vice president at Christopher Ranch, said the effect of the move was immediately obvious. At the end of last year, the farm was short 50 workers needed to help peel, package and roast garlic. Within two weeks of upping wages in January, applications flooded in. Now the company has a wait-list 150 people long. 'I knew it would help a little bit, but I had no idea that it would solve our labor problem,' Christopher said." He had no idea.

David Dayen talked to Sam Seder about The Hidden Monopoly Driving Drug Prices & President Gary Cohen, on The Majority Report. (Show starts around the four-minute mark, I think.)

"Everything We Knew About Sweatshops Was Wrong" - Well, actually, a lot of us already knew this, but it's nice that some people who believed the hype are finally catching on.

The Washington Post knows perfectly well that the US Post Office does fine and that its on-paper losses are a fabrication, but it persists in promulgating fake news trying to hide this Congressional accounting hoax. "The paper's latest pot shot was in an alarmist editorial declaring, 'The US Postal Service continues to hemorrhage red ink." Embracing their owner's anti-government ideology, the editors grumped that postal unions have made our mail service outmoded and insolvent, running up "a net loss of $5.6 billion last year.' That is pure bovine excrement -- and the editors know it. In fact, thanks to our amazing, innovative and efficient postal workers, the nation's public post offices racked up a $610 million operating profit last year, and a $1.2 billion profit the year before. The $5 billion in red ink that the paper's editorial propagandists touted is not real, but instead, is a deliberate bookkeeping hoax created by Congress to make the public think that our Post Office is a hopeless money loser that should be privatized."

"How Do You Know When A Candidate With A 'D' Next To His Name Isn't Really A Democrat? " When right-wing Republicans are campaigning for him over the official Republican nominee might be a clue. Sadly, there were too many Dems in that race, so it's looking like this.

Ted Rall, "Why is Trump So Hated? It's the Tribalism, Stupid [...] Remember all the antiwar rallies in 2012? Remember how Obama got primaried for destroying Libya and Syria? Neither do I. But don't be surprised if the streets fill with signs opposing Trump's Syria war - signs that might have made a difference to the hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed by American-made and -funded weapons under Obama. [...] The worst thing about America's political system is that it has no politics." I actually disagree with Rall's main statement here, but when it comes to forgiving our own, Democrats are just as bad as Republicans with the tribalism.

You can tell Clinton partisans are over the edge when they put Consortium News and Alternet in the same category as Infowars, like this. And, apparently the post would seem to come from a member of the biggest fake news site on the "left".

Katie Halper answers the attack on young women who supported Sanders, "A Millennial Feminist Explains the New Feminism to a Boomer Feminist Philosopher [...] I had assumed, perhaps falsely, that every feminist to the left of Sarah Palin sees a living wage as a feminist issue, given that two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. But you didn't even address this significant difference. It's your prerogative to focus more on the gender dynamics and micro-aggressions that you perceive to be at play between Clinton and Sanders than a policy that will improve the lives of millions of people, the majority of whom are women. But that's a very entitled feminism."

If Bernie Sanders "doesn't connect with people of color" and is only supported by sexist white men, how is it that his popularity among blacks is +62% and at +31% among women? (For those so inclined, here's the boring data .pdf.)
* But why do people think Bernie "doesn't connect" with those among us who are not particularly white or male? Well, that's because it was Clinton campaign propaganda from the git-go. "A New Harvard Study Just Shattered the Biggest Myth About Bernie Supporters [...] "Before he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez encouraged the Clinton campaign early on in the primary election cycle to demean her opponent by labeling him as a favorite of white men and unpopular with the African American, female, and the Latinx demographics. According to emails leaked by WikiLeaks, Perez encouraged Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta to use the Bernie Bro myth in order to win the Nevada caucus: 'Nevada is an opportunity to fight back on so many levels,' Perez wrote. 'First, the current storyline is that she does not connect well with young voters. Given that Nevada is far more demographically representative of America, I am confident that HRC can do well with all African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans (don't forget the sizeable[sic] population of Asian Americans in Nevada, including Filipinos.).' '[Clinton campaign Nevada state director Emmy Ruiz] and the team have a good plan to attract all minority voters,' Perez continued. 'When we do well there, then the narrative changes from Bernie kicks ass among young voters to Bernie does well only among young white liberals - that is a different story and a perfect lead in to South Carolina, where once again, we can work to attract young voters of color.' In addition to Perez, staffers within the Democratic Party infrastructure used the term 'Bernie Bro' to loosely describe anyone who wasn't a ride-or-die Hillary Clinton supporter. In one email thread, when SiriusXM producer David Guggenheim reached out to DNC communications staff to request an interview with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC communications director Luis Miranda and other staffers snidely commented that because Guggenheim was likely a 'Bernie Bro,' they should decline the interview."
* Meanwhile, Shaun King still says, "Now is the perfect time to discuss how and why Bernie Sanders could've beaten Donald Trump."

Meanwhile, a book has come out about how messed up the Clinton campaign was, and it's called Shattered. Naturally, the Twitter machine is going hot and heavy. I'm being called a white man again, some more!
* And here's the Sander's quote: "It's so phony."
* Matt Taibbi, "Yikes! New Behind-the-Scenes Book Brutalizes the Clinton Campaign: Shattered, a campaign tell-all fueled by anonymous sources, outlines a generational political disaster"

Interestingly, even Bloomberg has noticed "The Emerging Anti-Corporate Majority". But they're not worried.

Jon Schwarz says Michael Moore, who didn't just make the film Sicko but put his money where his movie was, saved his life. "My Skin in the Game: How Ted Cruz and the Right Want to Help Cancer Kill Me, and Maybe You: Huh. That looks weird. Has that always looked like that?"

"The US Charging Julian Assange Could Put Press Freedom on Trial [...] But if the US Department of Justice prosecutes Assange, as it reportedly may soon, he could become something else: the first journalist in modern history to be criminally charged by American courts for publishing classified information. WikiLeaks may not look like a traditional journalism outlet, but it shares the same ends - publishing true information from its sources. And that means legal action against Assange could threaten the freedom of the press as a whole." I don't know why they said "could" there. It absolutely would.

John Oliver on Gerrymandering

Bravely, Nicole Sandler interviews Roger Stone: "I don't usually interview right wingers. I can't learn anything from them, and have no desire to give them an outlet to spew their bullshit. But every once in a while, an opportunity presents itself to interview someone so full of themselves, so wrong on just about everything, so completely devoid of humanity that I just can't resist."

"There Can be No Progressive Coalition Without Working Class Whites [...] Second, it simply is not possible to create a coalition that genuinely serves the poor but also excludes poor whites - especially while it enthusiastically ushers Wall Street under the tent. That certain liberals can simultaneously attack Sanders for emphasizing an economic message which, if manifested, will disproportionately uplift people of color and women, while celebrating women and people of color who have sold out the interests of their demographic groups again and again, speaks to the negative power of weaponized identitarianism, and is one of most serious threats faced by the progressive movement."

"The Duke Lacrosse Scandal and the Birth of the Alt-Right [...] Richard Spencer, the fourth speaker, is now America's most famous self-identified white nationalist. 'In this funny chain of events, the Duke lacrosse case changed the course of my career,' Spencer told me recently. 'My life would not have taken the direction it did absent the Duke lacrosse case.' The speech at the Thai restaurant - 'Ironic, isn't it?' he said - pushed him from an academic track toward a more activist one. McConnell commissioned Spencer to write a piece for The American Conservative about the case, and, by the end of the semester, Spencer had dropped out of school to work at the magazine full-time. A year later, he coined the term 'alt-right.'"

Arthur Silber on the magical powers of Putin vs. Voice of America.

"Suburban Sprawl Stole Your Kids' Sleep: Why does school start so early? Blame 1970s planning." I had no idea this was going on over there, yikes. (via)

A talk with the pastor who delivered his friend Harper Lee's eulogy, from Gary Silverman in The Financial Times, about "How the Bible Belt lost God and found Trump [...] Flynt says evangelical Christians are mainly mobilising against the sins they either do not want to commit (homosexual acts) or cannot commit (undergoing an abortion, in the case of men). They turn a blind eye toward temptations such as adultery and divorce that interest them. In 2010, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling the rising incidence of divorce among its members a 'scandal'. A Pew Research Center study in 2015 found that evangelical Protestants in the US were more likely to be divorced or separated than Catholics, Jews, Muslims or atheists."

"America's first female mayor was elected 130 years ago. Men nominated her as a cruel joke."

Did I mention that eventually, The West Wing made my blood run cold whenever they actually talked about policy? Because they always spelled out the right-wing argument and then never answered it. I thought the business about Social Security was particularly chilling. Anyway, Luke Savage on "How Liberals Fell In Love With The West Wing: Aaron Sorkin's political drama shows everything wrong with the Democratic worldview." We enjoyed the original, British, House of Cards. Kinda glad I never saw the America version.

From Ansible, "Malgorithms. A recent news page at Wn.com headlined 'Second Doctor Arrested in US Female Genital Mutilation Case' was helpfully illustrated with a stock photo of Patrick Troughton (1920-1987). [RR]"

RIP: Anti-Establishment Icon David Peel Dies at 73. He was so much a part of my neighborhood back in the day. His bandmate Billy lived in the apartment above us on East 5th Street. Used to run into David all the time, and still recall amusing moments like that time I was eating my breakfast pizza in the square and heard him shouting something, waving his album around, saying the last time the cops searched him, they found dirty underwear. Can't remember how many times I heard him sing this song.
* "Don Rickles, Legendary Insult Comic, Dies at 90." He was kind of ubiquitous back in the day. Lance Manion did a nice little appreciation of Mr. Warmth.
* "Guitarist J. Geils Dead at 71: J. Geils Band musician who appeared on rock radio hits 'Centerfold,' 'Freeze-Frame,' 'Love-Stinks' found dead at home." I never met him, but I went to a small school with Seth Justman, who used to sit in the student commons and play the piano now and then.
* Motown song writer Sylvia Moy, co-writer of Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" and "I Was Made to Love Her", at 78.
* Carolyn Kelly, R.I.P., daughter of Pogo creator Walt Kelly and restorer and preserver of his work, as well as a talent in her own right. Condolences to Mark Evanier.

Beautiful APOD of stuff that glows.

Cool vids of a rotating supercell thunderstorm

My Twitter feed went crazy at the release of Thor: Ragnarok Teaser Trailer

"The Story Behind The Perfect Photo Of Sports' First Streaker
* Behind The Photo That Changed The Boston Marathon Forever

"Princess Leia's Stolen Death Star Plans/With Illicit Help From Your Friends" - I don't know if this can stay up, but it's rather amazing - the Star Wars story set to music from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

17:42 GMT comment


Wednesday, 05 April 2017

The things that pass for knowledge I can't understand

Bra of the Week: So, I was looking at this page to see if I could get some better advice for taking care of the skin during and after radiotherapy, and down at the bottom someone produced this whimsical innovation. (Comes with matching sun hat.) Oh, and by the way, I seem to have more cancer. The plan seems to be pretty much to do the same as last time, only it's on the other side.

"The Sanders Show: Welcome to 'Bernie TV' [...] Guests on "The Bernie Sanders Show" have so far included Rev. William Barber, the leader of the "Moral Monday" movement, anti-fracking filmmaker Josh Fox and former "Science Guy" Bill Nye, whose conversation with Sanders about climate change racked up 4.6 million views and 25,000 shares." You can watch it here.

"Repealing Broadband Privacy Rules, Congress Sides with the Cable and Telephone Industry: Putting the interests of Internet providers over Internet users, Congress today voted to erase landmark broadband privacy protections. If the bill is signed into law, companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon will have free rein to hijack your searches, sell your data, and hammer you with unwanted advertisements. Worst yet, consumers will now have to pay a privacy tax by relying on VPNs to safeguard their information. That is a poor substitute for legal protections. Make no mistake, by a vote of 215 to 205 a slim majority of the House of Representatives have decided to give our personal information to an already highly profitable cable and telephone industry so that they can increase their profits with our data. The vote broke along party lines, with Republicans voting yes, although 15 Republicans broke ranks to vote against the repeal with the Democrats."

"Baltimore's Democratic mayor breaks promise, vetoes $15 minimum wage bill: Mayor Catherine Pugh dealt a shattering blow to the Fight for $15 campaign, vetoing a new minimum wage law. [...] The veto is the latest in a string of serious blows to the Fight for $15 campaign in Maryland. As reported by In These Times, an effort to enact a local minimum wage in populous Montgomery County went down in flames in January when county executive Ike Leggett vetoed the bill. As in the case in Baltimore, all the important elected leaders in Montgomery County are Democrats, and the higher minimum wage proposal fell because pro-business Democrats split with more progressive Democrats."

"Man banned from every shop, pub, cafe, restaurant and takeaway in Northern Ireland" - I don't know how he is supposed to eat, but I suppose he could always acquire more counterfeit notes and get someone else to do his shopping for him.... (OK, he's allowed to order food to be delivered to him at home, but if the judge is so convinced he has easy access to more faux fifties and would spend them, surely he could get someone else to spend them.)

Jeffrey Kaye is a clinical psychologist who wrote a book about the extremely assisted suicides at Guantanamo. Naturally, Your Talking Dog has interviewed him in his continuing series on Guantanamo. "The media reaction to the deaths has for the most part been awful. Harpers did open up their pages to Hickman and Scott Horton. But when in 2010 the story got an National Magazine Award there was significant growling from the rest of the media. Most amazing, to me, was the tirade of abuse coming from the pages of Adweek, an advertising industry stalwart. That must have thrown editors into a frenzy, with what I believe was practically explicit warning to stay away from these kinds of story, derogated as irresponsible conspiracy-mongering. From that time forward, you did not see stories about the deaths at Guantanamo."

Marcy Wheeler, "Which Came First, the Failed Ideology or the Spiking Mortality Rates? "

"How local news sounded the alarm over the GOP's defeated health plan: Editorials and news coverage in numerous American communities responded with a clear message that such measures simply didn't pass muster for their communities. Many in their audiences agreed: A Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday found that only 17 percent of American voters approved of the Republican's bill, while 56 percent didn't. Many editorials found ways to ask the same question - 'Is this bill good policy?' - and then answer, conclusively, 'No.'"

"Bernie Sanders, Top Progressives Announce New 'Medicare For All' Push.

"Obamacare's Original Sin: We can resist Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare without providing cover for the law's deep ideological flaws."

I think Paul Ryan was accidentally telling the truth when he said, "We're not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people."

"The Only Concrete Takeaway From Trump's Speech: Medicaid Is Doomed"

"No, really: Democrats should offer an ACHA alternative"

A year ago, Pachacutec asked, "Does Bernie Sanders Know What He's Doing?" Seems like he did, and does.

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "Paul Ryan is discovering why the government is involved in health care." I wonder if Ezra Klein has finally figured out that Paul Ryan is not the glorious wonk he thought he was.

My Twitter trolls continue to pretend that there's no connection between the banks and other issues. But there is an Undeniable Link Between Racism and Economics.

"The CFPB Protects Us From Bad Banks; Republicans Want To Kill It [...] But lawmakers in Washington aren't trying to tighten enforcement against serial lawbreakers like Wells Fargo. Instead, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has introduced a measure to shut it down, while other GOP efforts would strip it of funding. Other Republican initiatives would weaken the CFPB by stripping it of political independence and replacing its executive leadership with a commission. Other proposed legislation would weaken its rule-making and enforcement authority, reduce its ability to track consumer complaints, and strip it of its ability to (in the words of Bloomberg Law's Chris Bruce) 'attack unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices.' The Trump Administration, which has drawn heavily on Goldman Sachs for its senior staffers, has been openly fighting the CFPB. The administration wants to remove agency head Richard Cordray and make other staffing changes, and recently joined a lawsuit challenging the agency's independence."

"Erik Prince in the Hot Seat: Blackwater's Founder Is Under Investigation for Money Laundering, Ties to Chinese Intel, and Brokering Mercenary Services."

I can't believe that after the Republicans spent 20 years vilifying her, the Democrats spent eight years in control of the White House and apparently were only interested in fracking and TPP, and the candidate said things like this, there is still a constant flow of idiots in my feeds insisting that the only reason people didn't want to vote for Hillary was the Russians.

"Everyone loves Bernie Sanders. Except, it seems, the Democratic party."
* I mean, he's really popular. He's the most popular politician in America.

"Why Bernie's Progressive Narrative Appeals Across Partisan Lines [...] According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, 81% of Americans - including 87% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans - support Social Security and consider it a vital program. 77% of those polled want to protect Social Security benefits, even if doing so would require tax increases on all workers. As Social Security is one of the great progressive policy victories of the last century, this polling indicates that even Republicans are progressive on this issue. Sadly, this is one issue where the establishment political parties do not appear to care about the views of the voters. Virtually every Republican leader other than Trump (e.g. Ryan and McConnell) supports cutting Social Security, either through reducing benefits or increasing the eligibility age, while Democratic leaders have flirted with more subtle cuts (i.e. using chained CPI to reduce cost of living growth)." And it's much the same with other issues Sanders pushed - the public supports them, and party leadership does not. This has to raise questions about what the Democratic leaderships is up to. They can read polls as well as we can. They know their policies are unpopular, so they have to use careful - "nuanced" - language to make them sound like they're not as monstrous as they are. And one other thing. "Replicating the success of Bernie Sanders may be as simple as running candidates who credibly argue in favor of these massively popular progressive ideals, while refusing to take money from big donors. Anybody going up against this type of candidate must resort to lies, distortions, identity politics (e.g. race, religion, gender, culture, etc.) and character attacks, as real policy discussions are likely to just reinforce the idea that their opponent holds views that are widely popular."

"Bernie Sanders is mad at the Democratic Party. And he wants you to know it."

Interview By Rachel Tabachnick, "Right Moves: Historian Jason Stahl Opens a New Era of Scholarship on Conservative Think Tanks: [...] The corrosive part of DLC and PPI was a denigration of movement-based politics, a suspicion of grassroots, movement-based politics. They accepted the pernicious framing of liberal/Left social movements that the Right had been forwarding for years, that these rabble-rousing movements were out of touch and un-American. PPI used this moniker - liberal fundamentalism - suggesting that liberalism is more akin to a kind of unthinking religious orientation and that this is the real problem of the Democratic Party. When you go down that road of denigrating movement politics, you are going down a disastrous electoral path, in my mind, regardless of your politics."

"The DLC Lives: "Third Way" Democrats Are Trying to Push the Party Rightward [...] At the height of its power the DLC was the dominant force in the party, boasting President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as its acolytes. But like Bell's weak narcotics, the DLC, which supported the Iraq War and received money from the likes of the Koch Brothers, soon became a tainted brand. Long before 2011, when the organization dissolved, the DLC label hung around politicians like a scarlet letter. Even President Obama publicly distanced himself from the organization in 2004 as he ascended as a national figure. [...] Now, as Democrats face an existential crisis in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump, these fundamentally conservative organizations, armed with millions in corporate donations, are working with a renewed aggressiveness in the public sphere. They are attempting to convince the party to shun its base and further embrace the so-called 'vital center,' and the corporatism that has long defined these groups."

On The Majority Report, "How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (w/ Philip Mirowski).

Masha Gessen, "Autocracy: Rules for Survival
* Rule #1: Believe the autocrat
* Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
* Rule #3: Institutions will not save you
* Rule #4: Be outraged.
* Rule #5: Don't make compromises.
* Rule #6: Remember the future.

"Vouchers, Charters and Public School Debt: Not Just Different Education Policy Priorities: Charter-Friendly Legislation May Violate the Contract Clause."

"The Socialist Takeover of the Democratic Party Is Proceeding Nicely"

"Judicial originalism as myth"

"Progressives Slam Tom Perez's New DNC Transition Team"

"HuffPost Smears Sanders Supporters With Fake News About Russian Trolls: Motivated by personal bias, journalists mislead with anecdotal evidence."

"DNC Adds To Transition Team After Progressive Complaints: Two prominent Bernie Sanders supporters are among the additions."

George Takei has announced he is running for Congress to go after Devin Nunes' seat. On April Fool's Day.

Russia Insider disagrees with Haaretz's assessment of policy on Syria. Snarky! "We understand that Israel has its own national interests. But please stop with the baloney."

"The Bait And Switch Of Public-Private Partnerships: This being the age of public relations, the genteel term 'public-private partnership' is used instead of corporate plunder. A 'partnership' such deals may be, but it isn't the public who gets the benefits."

David Dayen in The Fiscal Times, "How Goldman Sachs Wins, and You Lose, From Its Mortgage Crisis 'Punishment': The Justice Department billed this as a '$5.1 billion settlement.' But that figure was incredibly misleading; at best the bank was giving DoJ a small cut of a decade of profits. There was a bigger problem, too: $1.8 billion of this settlement was earmarked for 'consumer relief,' in which Goldman would write down the mortgages of struggling homeowners. But it didn't own any home loans."

David Dayen in Vice, "How a Cruel Foreclosure Drove a Couple to the Brink of Death: A married couple resorted to self-harm after being physically and psychologically terrorized by Bank of America over their house - until a judge fined the bank $46 million." Of course, BoA plans to appeal, and it will be interesting to see the final disposition of this case, but this is what should have happened to them all. Even here, the judge did not impose criminal charges on BoA executives, but at long last the principle was stated clearly that this was not just the misbehavior of rogue, low-level functionaries, but decisions made at the top. "But if one bank is ordered to pay $46 million for just one foreclosure, it begs the question of whether the federal government settled on the cheap in its more systemic investigations of America's largest financial companies after the 2008 crash. 'The governmental regulatory system has failed to protect the Sundquists,'s Judge Klein wrote, and that goes double for the millions of homeowners who suffered similar fates, yet didn't contest their cases or find a judge willing to act on their behalf."

Beat the Press, "Job Loss in Manufacturing: More Robot Blaming" - Trade deficits have a bigger impact, but surely out-sourcing (which Dean doesn't mention) does, too.

I'm baffled as to why people keep saying stuff like this: "What Happens When We Don't Believe the President's Oath? [...] If you're a liberal, one who voted against George W. Bush twice, do the following thought experiment: Did you ever doubt, even as you decried the Iraq War and demanded accountability for counterterrorism policies and actions you regarded as lawless, that Bush was acting sincerely in the best interests of the country as he understood them? Yes, people used the slogan 'Bush Lied, People Died,' but how many of them actually in their hearts doubted that Bush was earnestly trying to do his duty by the electorate, even if they differed in their understandings of what that duty entailed? Some, to be sure, we suspect many more accepted that Bush was honestly doing his best." OMG, do they not remember how the guy got into the White House? You do not do that in the "best interests" of the country!

This is how the Labour Party wants to occupy its time: attacking Ken Livingstone for stating documented fact.

"Pepsi Made An Ad Where Soda Solved Police Brutality And The Internet Reacted Appropriately."

"Moscow And Beijing Join Forces To Bypass US Dollar In Global Markets, Shift To Gold Trade."

"The Sleazy Origins of Russia-gate: An irony of the escalating hysteria about the Trump camp's contacts with Russians is that one presidential campaign in 2016 did exploit political dirt that supposedly came from the Kremlin and other Russian sources. Friends of that political campaign paid for this anonymous hearsay material, shared it with American journalists and urged them to publish it to gain an electoral advantage. But this campaign was not Donald Trump's; it was Hillary Clinton's. [...] The reports not only captivated the Clinton political operatives but influenced the assessments of Obama's appointees in the U.S. intelligence community. In the last weeks of the Obama administration, I was told that the outgoing intelligence chiefs had found no evidence to verify Steele's claims but nevertheless believed them to be true.

You know who didn't get much help from TARP? If there's one thing white supremacists didn't have to fear form Obama, it was that he would help people of his own race. He sure didn't. "The Decline of Black Business: And what it means for American democracy."

Every now and then I like to remind people that if you actually read the Bible, it is less a tale of faith than a tale of how states fail, over and over. Once they fall into Mammonism, once they let the rentiers control the economy, they destroy themselves. Or God smites them, depending on your point of view (Ezekiel 16:49). Rutger Bregman doesn't mention the Bible in "No, wealth isn't created at the top. It is merely devoured there," but it's that same story, and it's happening now.

Ian Welsh on The Philosophy of Decline and Collapse.

Blast from the past: Early last year, Seth Ackerman did a useful take-down of two "liberal" pundits who did a prompt about-face on all of their previous opinions on health care, in a shameful display of partisanship. "Meet the New Harry and Louise: Vox's attack on Bernie Sanders is sold as a policy critique. It's actually a dishonest exercise in managing the Democratic Party base."

"Why You Seldom See Noxzema Anymore." This is kind of a shame, because it really is great for protecting your skin from breaking out, especially anyplace you use soap, and it wipes out eczema pretty damned quick. I get it from a local place down the market that appears to cater to a mostly black clientele, it's not seen on the shelves anywhere else that I recall. I thought that was a British thing until I saw this story - and it's from 2008.

RIP:
* One of the truly great journalists, "Legendary Newspaper Columnist Jimmy Breslin Dies At 88. [..] Breslin was old school. He began his career as a copy boy working his way up to a hard -bitten reporter." You can read his articles about Trump here, starting with his 7 June 1990.article, "Corum's Law", in which he learns that the news business sold itself very cheaply indeed to "The Donald". Also, see Michael Winship's A Couple of Things About Jimmy Breslin."
* Bernie Wrightson, (October 27, 1948-March 19, 2017), co-creator of Swamp Thing, after a long battle with brain cancer. A highly talented artist who had worked for pretty much every comic company at some time, beloved by many.
* Martin McGuinness, the IRA commander whose negotiations on behalf of Sinn Fein led to the Good Friday peace agreement, at 66, as a result of amyloidosis. "The cuddly, chess-playing and fly-fishing grandfather figure that he presented in later life was real - but so too was the guerrilla hard man of the 1970s, who neither smoked nor drank, partly because he was a member of the Catholic Pioneer temperance group, but also to minimise the pressures that might break him under interrogation"
* "Chuck Berry Dies at 90; Helped Define Rock 'n' Roll" Or, as Bill Wyman (no, not that one) put it, "Chuck Berry Invented the Idea of Rock and Roll." Brian May and Brian Wilson also gave tribute. But I loved this piece of information: "Chuck Berry reviewing old punk records remains one of my favourite things."
* "Chicago Blues Giant Lonnie Brooks Dead at 83"
* Bob Lee (1942-2017), after a battle with cancer. Black Panther and organizer Bob Lee forged the kind of revolutionary interracial solidarity desperately needed today. [...] In late 1968, Fred Hampton and Bob Lee indirectly created the original Rainbow Coalition. Led by the ILBPP, the Rainbow Coalition included the Young Lords, a socially conscious Puerto Rican gang; and the Young Patriots Organization (YPO), a group of Confederate-flag-wearing Southern white migrants.""
* Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, and three of my favorite TV series.

Dad with super powers
* Stunt woman with cute bundle

Deadpool: The Musical

Baby Groot dancing

Steely Dan "Reelin' in the Years.

22:27 GMT comment


Friday, 17 March 2017

'Cause god knows I'll never tell!

"Now Would Be A Good Time For A Democratic Healthcare Plan Proposal." A perfect time, really. And there even is one, so why aren't the Democrats pushing it like crazy? Apparently, they prefer to just talk about how mean the Republicans are instead of promoting proposals of their own that would give people a reason to vote for them.
* But no, when it's time to throw your drowning enemy an anchor, they throw them a life-preserver. "Dems Say They'll Help Trump Fix Obamacare If He Stops Trying To Kill It: The offer assumes Republicans won't try to sabotage a law they seem unable to repeal."

You would have thought that leading Democrats might have said something like this before this guy did. "Clarence Thomas Questions Legality Of Letting Cops Take Innocent People's Stuff: The Supreme Court justice's skepticism of civil asset forfeiture may signal the court would be receptive to a review."

"More Americans say government should ensure health care coverage: As the debate continues over repeal of the Affordable Care Act and what might replace it, a growing share of Americans believe that the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Currently, 60% of Americans say the government should be responsible for ensuring health care coverage for all Americans, compared with 38% who say this should not be the government's responsibility. The share saying it is the government's responsibility has increased from 51% last year and now stands at its highest point in nearly a decade." In nearly a decade of Democrats trying to pretend it's impossible, but it's actually a low number. It's not that long ago you could get nearly 70% of the country to agree that they would happily pay higher taxes if they could get a National Health Servicefor it.

Bernie Sanders did a Town Hall in "Trump Country" again, with Chris Hayes. You can see it here and here. This was, of course, an excuse for the Clintonistas to get on Twitter and get a big hate on against Bernie, who failed to spend enough time hating on Trump, apparently, and more importantly failed to be Hillary Clinton. They even hate him for talking to people in "Trump country", or speaking in public at all. They don't seem to be aware that he was appointed as the Senate Dems outreach person.

I'm leaving the whole Vault 7 thing with Marcy. In any case, no reason the CIA should have credibility with anyone. I reckon Kennedy was right.
* Oh, and Robert Parry. "Fresh Doubts about Russian 'Hacking: WikiLeaks' disclosure of documents revealing CIA cyber-spying capabilities underscores why much more skepticism should have been applied to the U.S. intelligence community's allegations about Russia 'hacking' last year's American presidential election. It turns out that the CIA maintains a library of foreign malware that could be used to pin the blame for a 'hack' on another intelligence service."

Meanwhile, even Buzzfeed admits that you can't believe every bad thing you read about Trump. "1.6 Billion Dollar Hoax: An elaborate hoax based on forged documents escalates the phenomenon of 'fake news' and reveals an audience on the left that seems willing to believe virtually any claim that could damage Trump. "

"Utah school installs showers and washing machines for homeless students to use." So, we've completely normalized homelessness.

I think I can trust RT most days more than I can trust Warner. "US Senator accuses RT of hacking Google, RT suggests he should learn how search engines work." Mark Warner has lots of sleazy connections to the tech industry and I'm pretty sure he knows the stuff coming out of his mouth is sheer nonsense.

"The really big Trump scandal (almost) everyone is missing" - Will tweeted this article by summing it up: "Trump's White House may be in disarray but actually IS a fine-tuned machine for gutting regs for Corporate America"

As Dean Baker tweeted it, "Ambitious Republican health care plan looks to have 50 million uninsured by 2025."
* "The New Trade Agenda: Deals that Promote Equality Rather than Inequality."
* "Paying for Legal Services or Keeping Melania Trump in NYC: Choices for Taxpayers"
* "Reaching Out To The Working Class: Note that I said 'working class,' not 'white working class.'"
* "The Wrongest Profession: How economists have botched the promise of widely distributed prosperity - and why they have no intention of stopping now. [...] Over the past two decades, the economics profession has compiled an impressive track record of getting almost all the big calls wrong."

How sublime, The New York Times seems to have noticed: "'Superstar Firms' May Have Shrunk Workers' Share of Income" - y'think?

Starting around the two-minute mark, The Majority Report, with Sam's interview with Rebecca Kolins Givan, Labor Organizing After Privatization.

"The Republican Health-Care Bill Is the Worst of So Many Worlds: This attempt to repeal Obamacare fails on every score - except cutting rich people's taxes." But the right is now so divided on it that it may never pass.

"Recruiting Republicans To Run For Congress As Democrats Has Usually Ended Badly For All Concerned: I'm going to start talking about a rule of Beltway politics by immediately pointing to an exception: Elizabeth Warren, who today-- along with men and women like Bernie Sanders, Ted Lieu, Pramila Jayapal, Raul Grijalva, and Jeff Merkley-- defines what it means to be a real Democrat, was once an Oklahoma Republican! That's a long time ago, the Democratic Party didn't recruit her as a Republican, and, like I said, that's the glaring exception to the rule. [...] It used to surprise me when crooked conservative Dems like Emanuel, Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen recruited Republicans to run as Democrats. Now it's practically standard operating procedure for the DCCC. Last cycle DCCC-recruited Republicans masquerading as Democratic candidates (like Monica Vernon in Iowa, Mike Derrick in New York, Randy Perkins in that old Palm Beach seat... just a few examples) went down in flames." (And as Atrios reminded us the other day, this has been going on for way too long.) How long can this go on?

And for more on how well the Democratic leadership treats progressives - not to mention blacks and women and, most notably, black women, "Donna Edwards Was Democrats' Rising Star. Now She's Podcasting From An RV. The good old boy network has no problem with elevating an obedient African-American woman. Edwards was not obedient. [...] 'I thought the Republican Party was full of dog whistles but the Democratic Party has a foghorn,' Edwards told reporters after that remark. 'As a sitting member of the House as the ranking Democrat on one of our committees in the House, as the co-chair of our steering and policy committee sitting at the leadership table with Leader Pelosi, as former chair of the bipartisan women's caucus, a lawyer: How dare they describe me as unqualified?'"

When Chaffets suggests that Americans should choose between an iPhone and health insurance, Atrios says, "Good Deal! This is the kind of thing which embodies everything about modern conservatives - a failure to understand the price/cost of anything, a failure to understand what people need to exist in contemporary society, and the belief the newfangled gadgets are like the mythical welfare queen Cadillacs of yesteryear." Go read the rest, it's not that long.

"Why is the Wyoming GOP scared? Anyone who has been around Wyoming politics understands just how small the state is. All politics there is retail. People expect to be able to meet their senators, governors, and representatives, and they almost inevitably do. Any politician deemed too formal or high-and-mighty is unlikely to go far in a state that prides itself on its non-hierarchical frontiersman mythos. Our elected officials spend a lot of time in jeans and cowboy boots. Governors have a tradition of keeping their office doors open." But GOP politicians are running away from their angry constituents.

Matt Taibbi, "Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media: [...] If there's any truth to the notion that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian state to disrupt the electoral process, then yes, what we're seeing now are the early outlines of a Watergate-style scandal that could topple a presidency. But it could also be true that both the Democratic Party and many leading media outlets are making a dangerous gamble, betting their professional and political capital on the promise of future disclosures that may not come.

"How the DudeBros ruined everything: A totally clear-headed guide to political reality: Irritating left-wing guys have ruined democracy, apparently. Which might suggest it wasn't doing so great before. [...] Without ever letting the Hacky Sack touch the ground, the DudeBro army traveled back in time in their Tardis and terrified the Democratic Party into neutering itself ideologically, spending years running as the Slightly Less Mean Republicans and losing more than 1,000 state legislative seats during the eight years of Barack Obama's presidency. Perhaps their unsettling appearance in the past, wearing T-shirts for Radiohead albums that didn't yet exist, caused Obama to demoralize the progressive base by staffing up his Cabinet with financial industry insiders and conducting drone assassinations in numerous foreign countries with which the United States was not at war. Back in the present of 2016, the 'Bernie or Bust' tribe somehow spooked the Clinton campaign into abandoning the Rust Belt states and making what many pundits perceived as a bold play for 'moderate Republican women' in the suburbs of Charlotte and Phoenix and Philadelphia and Atlanta. All we are is dust in the wind. [...] When 'liberals' become a political grouping morbidly obsessed with their left-wing critics, constantly accusing them of being too idealistic and too intransigent and of being covert agents for the enemy, they have stopped being liberals and become conservatives. Which indeed happened some time ago, when the old 'conservatives' became radical fanatics. When 'the left' endlessly debates which core issues or constituencies must be sacrificed for political gain, as if economic justice for the poor and the working class could be separated from social justice for women and people of color and the LGBT community and immigrants and people with disabilities, it is no longer functioning as the left." Damn, it's sad to see Wolcott sucked into the maw of elite Democrats' denial. And the word seems to have gone out from Dem Central, because there have been a spate of these articles and more "learned"-sounding pieces trying to explain why the left is wrong, even though you have to go pretty ahistorical to make your case. I wonder if these people realize they are really trying to make the case that democracy itself leads to fascism.

And speaking of ahistorical approaches, even the mea culpas of neoliberals who realize something went wrong tend to miss the point. Atrios notes that Charlie Peters doesn't really seem to know what the New Deal he set about to destroy really had going for it. But having him rear his head again is a good reminder to some Democrats that, no, "neoliberal" is not a term that was just invented a couple of years ago by Sandernistas. Here's "A Neo-Liberal's Manifesto" in 1982.

Dissent has a little argument going on with itself that might be illuminating. First there's "The End of Progressive Neoliberalism," and then there's "There Was No Such Thing as 'Progressive Neoliberalism'." The second article purports to disagree with the first, but I don't think so - they're saying the same thing, really, only the latter supplies more detail. And of course, you can't openly acknowledge that the phony "progressives" who've been leading the Democratic Party were just giving lip-service to equality while doing us all more harm than good.

Shaun King, "The Democratic Party seems to have no earthly idea why it is so damn unpopular [...] "Recently, I've asked the crowds where I am speaking two key questions about the Democratic Party. The response that I get is always the same -- mass laughter or audible frustration. The first question is, 'If I asked you, in just a few sentences, to sum up what specific policies the Democratic Party stands for, what would you say?'"

"Paleocons for Porn: The new online right draws on transgressive aesthetics to rebrand conservative politics. It's a contradiction that won't hold. [...] While liberals enjoyed cultural hegemony and became complacent and intellectually lazy, the young transgressives of the alt-right produced an undeniable level of creative energy. The war for the soul of America Pat Buchanan waged in the 1990s has long since been won by the cultural left, and the tyrannical overreach of liberal intellectual conformity undoubtedly helped create the youthful rebellion against it. But this temporary alliance of very different factions - the most stark being between the traditionalist right and the libertinism of chan culture - has produced a schizophrenic incoherence."

In last monologue, Israeli comedy show host implores Israelis to wake up and smell the apartheid.

RIP: "James Cotton, Blues Harmonica Legend, Dies at 81," of pneumonia.
* Joni Sledge - "Sister Sledge singer Joni dies at 60: Sledge, who formed Sister Sledge with her three siblings in 1971, was found unresponsive by a friend at her home in Phoenix, Arizona, her publicist said. She had not been ill and the cause of death is unknown. Sledge, who is survived by her adult son, last performed with the band in October."

Matt Bruenig, "Small populations make it harder to do what Nordic countries do: When you lay out the impressive economic indicators of the Nordic countries, naysayers come out of the woodwork to harp on their small size. These arguments never explain what small population sizes have to do with anything. Apparently it is supposed to be self-evident that smaller countries can do this kind of stuff more easily. But the exact opposite is true. Small populations should make it way harder to do what Nordic countries do."

Matt Stoller on "The Hamilton Hustle: Why liberals have embraced our most dangerously reactionary founder [...] Set in contrast to the actual life and career of its subject, the play Hamilton is a feat of political alchemy - as is the stunningly successful marketing campaign surrounding it. But our generation's version of Hamilton adulation isn't all that different from the version that took hold in the 1920s: it's designed to subvert democracy by helping the professional class to associate the rise of finance with the greatness of America, instead of seeing in that financial infrastructure the seeds of a dangerous authoritarian tradition."

Matt Bruenig, "Liberals and Diversity: Liberal commentators believe that you can have diversity or economic justice, but you can't have both. They're wrong."

"The 'Dutch Trump' Is Even More Toxic Than the Real Thing."

Richard (RJ) Eskow explores the way the tech company ethos is wrecking America:
* "The sharing economy is a lie: Uber, Ayn Rand and the truth about tech and libertarians: Disruptive companies talk a good game about sharing. Uber's really just an under-regulated company making riches."
* "Tom Friedman: A New Ayn Rand for A Dark Digital Future"
* "The 5 Worst Things About the Techno-Libertarians Solidifying Their Grasp on Our Economy and Culture"
* Silicon Valley will destroy your job: Amazon, Facebook and our sick new economy: The "sharing economy" makes Silicon Valley rich and takes from the rest of us. We ignore this at our imminent peril."
* "Let's nationalize Amazon and Google: Publicly funded technology built Big Tech: They're huge and ruthless and define our lives. They're close to monopolies. Let's make them public utilities."

"Who Cooked Adam Smith's Dinner? Marçal points out that when an economist marries his housekeeper, the GDP goes down."

"Politicking Without Politics: Democratic elites are delusional - you can't subdue the reactionary right without a robust alternative political vision."

"A theological case for the welfare state"

Tim Cappello/The Lost Boys,"I Still Believe"

Deadpool teaser

Grace Slick's "White Rabbit" Vocal Track, naked. (Her voice comes in around the 30 second mark.)

"Buffy at 20: Sarah Michelle Gellar Pens Emotional Essay for Anniversary"

"Learning the Lessons of 'Buffy' Again as It Celebrates 20 Years"

Buffy 6xEX Behind the Scenes of Once More With Feeling

22:47 GMT comment


Friday, 03 March 2017

Don't let him under your skin, you'll never win

Something good: "New Jersey Alters Its Bail System and Upends Legal Landscape [...] But under an overhaul of New Jersey's bail system, which went into effect Jan. 1, judges are now considering defendants' flight risk and threat to public safety in deciding whether to detain them while they await trial. Otherwise, they are to be released, usually with certain conditions." So people with jobs don't have to lose them when they can't afford bail. And even Chris Christie didn't oppose this.

Sirota, "Cigna-Anthem Merger 2017: With Billions Of Dollars At Stake, Proposed Health Insurance Deal Is Blocked By Federal Judge: A federal judge Wednesday blocked Anthem's proposed merger with Cigna -- a move that appears to shut the door on what could have created the largest health insurance conglomerate in American history. The judge in the case said the merger -- which could have affected up to 53 million consumers -- would unduly reduce competition in the healthcare economy, according to Bloomberg." We can thank The International Business Times for giving this deal a higher profile. But:
* "Anthem-Cigna Merger: With Ties To Donald Trump, Mike Pence And Jeff Sessions, Insurance Giant Hopes To Revive Blocked Deal: After delivering big money to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, health insurance giant Anthem is now pressing the new administration to settle a federal lawsuit blocking its controversial merger with Cigna, according to new court documents. Meanwhile, Trump has appointed an Anthem lobbyist to a top legal post in the White House -- a job that could position him to take over the Justice Department's antitrust unit that may ultimately decide the fate of the merger. [...] Justice Department officials typically argue that the antitrust division is insulated from political influence: As former Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer said in a 2015 speech, 'antitrust enforcement has been successfully nonpartisan' and 'political affiliation means little in this job.' Anthem's argument, though, appears to hinge on a hope that political intervention from the White House may shape the Justice Department's antitrust enforcement decisions."

Former Alabama Governor Don Seiglelman was released from prison after having been jailed under the Bush/Cheney administration's campaign of election-fixing and partisan prosecutions. The entire thing was an outrage and, given that the man was jailed essentially for being a Democrat who won an election, it's an even further outrage that Obama let him continue to cool his heels in prison rather than do anything to ameliorate the situation - you know, like a presidential pardon? In any case, Siegelman, now 70, is now out. But let's get a bit of a refresher: "Representative Bob Riley defeated Siegelman in his November 2002 reelection bid by the narrowest margin in Alabama history: approximately 3,000 votes. On the night of the election, Siegelman was initially declared the winner by the Associated Press. Later, a voting machine malfunction in a single county, Baldwin County, was claimed to have produced the votes needed to give Riley the election. Democratic Party officials objected, stating that the recount had been performed by local Republican election officials after Democratic observers had left the site of the vote counting, thus rendering verification of the recount results impossible. The state's Attorney General, Republican Bill Pryor, affirmed the recounted vote totals, securing Riley's election. Pryor denied requests for a manual recount of the disputed vote warning that opening the sealed votes to recount them would be held a criminal offense.[13] Some observers have opined that perhaps the most objective observation about this vote shift is that there was no corresponding vote shift in other issues and candidates on these same ballots, a shift that would be expected if they were actually anti-Siegelman voters, probably a mathematical impossibility. Largely as a result of this obvious inconsistency, the Alabama Legislature amended the election code to provide for automatic, supervised recounts in close races." At the time, pretty much everyone was sure that Siegelman had really won. But then, apparently at the behest of Karl Rove, Siegelman suddenly found himself on trial, though a long list of both Democratic and Republican justice officials were protesting loudly on his behalf. Why?: "In June 2007, a Republican lawyer, Dana Jill Simpson of Rainsville, Alabama, signed a sworn statement that, five years earlier, she had heard that Karl Rove was preparing to neutralize Siegelman politically with an investigation headed by the U.S. Department of Justice."

"Panama Papers investigation wins George Polk Award: The Panama Papers investigation has been honored with a George Polk Award for financial journalism, the Polk awards' sponsor, Long Island University, has announced. The Polk Awards judges lauded the reporting collaboration for sparking official investigations and reforms aimed at combating global tax dodging and money laundering. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Süddeutsche Zeitung, McClatchy, the Miami Herald, Fusion and more than 100 other media partners worked together to investigate a trove of leaked documents from inside Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-headquartered law firm that sells offshore companies and other hard-to-unravel corporate structures."

Max Sawicky (of MaxSpeak) and Bob Dreyfuss have a blog, The Populist.

If your educators and representatives won't be responsible, it's up to the pornographers:
* "Utah lawmakers nix comprehensive sex ed, so porn site steps in. The Utah Legislature recently rejected the idea of adopting a comprehensive sexual education program - instead of the state's existing abstinence-only curriculum - so porn site xHamster has decided to take matters into its own hands. This week, the website began redirecting web traffic originating from Utah to a non-explicit sub-site featuring sex-ed videos."
* "Pornhub launches online sex education centre because no-one else is doing it. . The world's largest porn site has launched a centre dedicated to educating people about sexuality and sexual health - because of poor standards of sex and relationship education (SRE). In the US sex and relationship education is often heavily regulated by state lawmakers, meaning that school kids are commonly taught under 'abstinence-only' programmes that do not provide quality advice on protection, avoiding STIs or sexual health in general. In addition, a handful of states continue to maintain laws that ban teachers from mentioning homosexuality." Update: Got a phone call advising me that this is a bit of dishonest self-promotion from Pornhub, who haven't actually provided any sex education and you would be better off looking at Scarleteen for sex ed. The source of that info seems to have been a podcast by Dan Savage, but my attempts to locate it were unsuccessful. I also gather that Pornhub is owned by a company that is trying to get the UK government to use a verification service they provide with which they can block all other porn providers. Not nice people, so phooey on them.

"Teacher's town hall question goes viral: A Tennessee woman confronts Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) about health care reform at a town hall meeting in Murfreesboro, Tennessee."

Marcy Wheeler, "Four Details about Surveillance and the Flynn Ouster: It turns out Trump is on pace to fire a person every week, just like in his reality show. As you surely know, Mike Flynn has been ousted as National Security Advisor, along with his Deputy, KC McFarland."

Indiana without Pence: He left Republicans behind to guard the chicken coop when he went on to become Vice President, but they're already undoing some of his doings. And there's good news and bad news on that front.

Here's a show-stopper: "Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent: Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad - even before anything actually happened. SB1142 expands the state's racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others. But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association - and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what's worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side." Or the police, who sent agents provocateur even back in the days when they couldn't make a profit off of it. However:
* "Arizona leader kills protest bill after widespread criticism" - in other words, protests stopped the anti-protest bill.

"House Republicans Just Voted to Eliminate the Only Federal Agency That Makes Sure Voting Machines Can't Be Hacked: Republicans would make it easier to steal an election by killing the Election Assistance Commission."

Pierce, "Pay Attention to This Particular Part of Jeff Sessions' Private Prison Memo [...] Sessions' confidence that the 'future needs of the federal correctional system' will require private prisons is a little unnerving. Remember when 'criminal-justice reform' was going to be the issue that brought bipartisan comity back to our politics? Yeah, that was cool."
* "Two Democratic Senators Voted for Climate Denial Today: Well, with the invaluable aid of Democratic Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin, Scott Pruitt was confirmed by a 'bipartisan vote' of 52-46 a little after one o'clock this afternoon."

"White House hints at crackdown on recreational marijuana." Ahh, smells like liberty, eh?

Could there be good news in America's relationships with Russia?

Back in 2002, the first issue of The Black Commentator featured an article called, "Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: The Hard Right's Plan to Capture Newark NJ," which paid particular attention to a little known mayoral candidate, "a new type of African American politician --- Corey Booker in his first run for mayor of Newark NJ. Thanks in part to this expose Booker was defeated in 2002, but won the election four years later in 2006."

"Washington Post hires John Podesta as columnist."

David Dayen in The Nation, "Behind the Scenes, Obamacare May Be in Grave Danger: Pay attention to the man behind the curtain."
* In These Times, "Putting Wall Street First: GOP Attacks Plan to Help Millions Save for Retirement." I hope no one has any illusions that "conservatives" were ever serious about "states' rights".
* David discussed The Secret Plan to Destroy the ACA & the GOP's Plan to Rob Pensions with Sam Seder on The Majority Report.

"Democratic Leader in Congress Introduces Bill to Help Trump Wage War on Iran: The U.S. is hurtling toward military conflict -- with staunch bipartisan support."

"Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year [...] Officers can take cash and property from people without convicting or even charging them with a crime - yes, really! - through the highly controversial practice known as civil asset forfeiture. Last year, according to the Institute for Justice, the Treasury and Justice departments deposited more than $5 billion into their respective asset forfeiture funds. That same year, the FBI reports that burglary losses topped out at $3.5 billion."

"Electronic Media Searches At Border Crossings Raise Worry: PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Watchdog groups that keep tabs on digital privacy rights are concerned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are searching the phones and other digital devices of international travelers at border checkpoints in U.S. airports."

Radley Balko, "Man wrongly convicted with bite mark evidence confronts bite mark analysts: Keith Harward was wrongly convicted of a grisly rape and murder and spent more than 33 years in prison. The main evidence against him were alleged bite marks found on the victim. Over the course of two trials, six bite mark analysts said the marks were a match to Harward's teeth. He was finally cleared by DNA testing last year. This week, Harward showed up in New Orleans at the annual American Academy of Forensic Sciences conference, where he crashed a panel on bite mark analysis."

"Trump's First Terror Arrest: A Broke Stoner the FBI Threatened at Knifepoint: The Department of Justice proudly announced the first FBI terror arrest of the Trump administration on Tuesday: An elaborate sting operation that snared a 25-year old Missouri man who had no terrorism contacts besides the two undercover FBI agents who paid him to buy hardware supplies they said was for a bomb - and who at one point pulled a knife on him and threatened his family."

From Marcy Wheeler, "A Modest Proposal: Ban the Interstate Travel of Kansans."

Sadly, Tom Perez beat Keith Ellison for DNC chair. "The DNC Chair Race Is Over. Now Comes the Real Battle: Tom Perez's win wasn't the end of the fights that defined the 2016 primary. It was a pause. [...] After the results were announced, a dozen Ellison supporters - including the congressman's brother, Eric - chanted "party for the people, not big money" from the back of the Atlanta ballroom, with a few cries of "bullshit!" thrown in. While the formal final vote, sealed on the second ballot, was 235 to 200, in a show of unity, Perez was subsequently elected by acclamation. In his first move as chair, he announced that Ellison had agreed to serve as his deputy chair."
* "Our Revolution Statement on DNC Chairmanship Election Results [...] Last night Keith talked about 'bus boy Democrats' - who always want to 'take things off the table' because they don't want to fight. We can no longer accept that. Now is the time to bring it all to the table and to pull up some extra chairs. With Trump and his allies controlling Washington, we have to take it upon ourselves to elect progressives -- even if elements of the Democratic Party are locked in complacency.""
* Common Dreams, "'Incredibly Disappointing': Democrats Choose Tom Perez to Head Party: DNC 'chose to continue the failed Clinton strategy of prioritizing wealthy donors over the activist base'"
* Ian Welsh, "Perez Chosen As DNC Chair [...] Ellison, of course, was the left wing choice, endorsed by Sanders, etc. I'm going to have a lot more to say about the Democratic party, neoliberals, Obama and Clinton later, for now I simply note that the most important thing, for those who control the liberal party, is retaining control over the liberal party. I note also that they genuinely believe in neoliberalism. They genuinely don't want a $15/minimum wage and will only grudgingly give on something as basic (and really, minor to them) as that. They want Americans poor. They want the poor to stay poor. They want the middle class to decline."
* The Hill, "Will Tom Perez bring the real change the Democratic Party needs? [...] Already, many activists have turned their backs on the DNC, choosing to pour energy into resistance and organizing in local communities. The new Perez administration has very little time to show the party will truly change, particularly when it comes to directing money, hiring people, leading a serious effort to reform voting laws and, most importantly, being a real voice against corporate power. If it does not, it will simply wither away."
* Earlier stories:
* "Tom Perez Apologizes for Telling the Truth, Showing Why Democrats' Flaws Urgently Need Attention." He admitted that the primary process was rigged. But soon he was hastily walking it back. But that's not what Greenwald's article is really about. "What drove Bernie Sanders' remarkably potent challenge to Hillary Clinton was the extreme animosity of huge numbers of Democrats - led by its youngest voters - to the values, practices, and corporatist loyalties of the party's establishment. Unlike the 2008 Democratic primary war - which was far more vicious and nasty but devoid of any real ideological conflict - the 2016 primary was grounded in important and substantive disputes about what the Democratic Party should be, what principles should guide it, and, most important of all, whose interests it should serve."
* Matt Stoller, "DNC Chair Candidate Tom Perez's Bank-Friendly Record Could Kneecap the Democratic Party: [...] Clinton Democrats were, of course, not in charge during the aftermath of the financial crisis; the Obama administration was. And what happened to Clinton was not isolated to her, or even to 2016. The reluctance to take on Wall Street has been a hallmark of the modern Democratic Party - and has served as an electoral headwind up and down the ticket. Democrats are currently debating how to structure themselves as an opposition party. And Tom Perez, a leading candidate for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship, has an established record of not taking on the banks; both at the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor."

Richard J. Eskow, "Principles for Progressives to Follow on Trump's Ties to Russia" - Don't get ahead of the facts, and remember that the Deep State is not your friend.
* Stephen F. Cohen in The Nation, "Why We Must Oppose the Kremlin-Baiting Against Trump: The Russia-connected allegations have created an atmosphere of hysteria amounting to McCarthyism."
* Glenzilla, "The Increasingly Unhinged Russia Rhetoric Comes From a Long-Standing U.S. Playbook: For aspiring journalists, historians, or politically engaged citizens, there are few more productive uses of one's time than randomly reading through the newsletters of I.F. Stone, the intrepid and independent journalist of the Cold War era who became, in my view, the nation's first 'blogger' even though he died before the advent of the internet. Frustrated by big media's oppressive corporatized environment and its pro-government propaganda model, and then ultimately blacklisted from mainstream media outlets for his objections to anti-Russia narratives, Stone created his own bi-monthly newsletter, sustained exclusively by subscriptions, and spent 18 years relentlessly debunking propaganda spewing from the U.S. government and its media partners. What makes Stone's body of work so valuable is not its illumination of history but rather its illumination of the present. What's most striking about his newsletters is how little changes when it comes to U.S. government propaganda and militarism, and the role the U.S. media plays in sustaining it all. Indeed, reading through his reporting, one gets the impression that U.S. politics just endlessly replays the same debates, conflicts, and tactics."

"Gaius Publius: Field Notes from the Battle Within the Democratic Party" Tom Perez just isn't very good at hiding the fact that he's not in it to change the game for the better.

Do you want advice from "Former Clinton Campaign Staffer"? Neither do I! She says, "Moving Policy Further Left Shouldn't Be Assumed Response to Protests: Jennifer Palmieri argued on Wednesday that moving the Democratic platform further left is not the answer to recent protests. The former director of communications for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign made the comments during an appearance on MSNBC with Chuck Todd. 'It is incumbent upon me as an American to stand up and say Donald Trump does not represent what I view America to be," Palmieri told Todd. "And I think that a lot of this energy is not the base, the base is there, but you are wrong to look at the crowds and think that everyone wants $15 an hour.'" Yes, they'd rather have $21 an hour.

In The New Republic, "Obama's Lost Army: He built a grassroots machine of two million supporters eager to fight for change. Then he let it die. This is the untold story of Obama's biggest mistake - and how it paved the way for Trump. [...] As we now know, that grand vision for a postcampaign movement never came to fruition. Instead of mobilizing his unprecedented grassroots machine to pressure obstructionist lawmakers, support state and local candidates who shared his vision, and counter the Tea Party, Obama mothballed his campaign operation, bottling it up inside the Democratic National Committee. It was the seminal mistake of his presidency - one that set the tone for the next eight years of dashed hopes, and helped pave the way for Donald Trump to harness the pent-up demand for change Obama had unleashed.'We lost this election eight years ago,' concludes Michael Slaby, the campaign's chief technology officer. 'Our party became a national movement focused on general elections, and we lost touch with nonurban, noncoastal communities. There is a straight line between our failure to address the culture and systemic failures of Washington and this election result.'"

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

"Unless They Get Serious About it, Stop Calling It 'Pro-Life': We can stop pretending the abortion fight is about 'life' as a general moral good. A freshman lawmaker in the state of Oklahoma has spoken with such candor about his effort to obstruct abortion rights that he has given away the game."

Jon Schwarz in 2007: "Democrats And The Iron Law Of Institutions: Read this if you're driven insane by the Democrats." Especially if you need to be reminded how desperately the Democratic Party would rather lose to the likes of Nixon and Trump than win with a candidate who really doesn't want to see a corrupt party. This quotation, for example, spells out how well they know how to lose: "As soon as McGovern was nominated, party leaders began systematically slurring and belittling him, while the trade union chieftains refused to endorse him on the pretense that this mild Mr. Pliant was a being wild and dangerous. A congressional investigation of Watergate was put off for several months to deprive McGovern's candidacy of its benefits. As an indiscreet Chicago ward heeler predicted in the fall of 1972, McGovern is "gonna lose because we're gonna make sure he's gonna lose"...So deftly did party leaders "cut the top of the ticket" that while Richard Nixon won in a "landslide," the Democrats gained two Senate seats."

"Why 'Bernie Would Have Won' Matters: Following the 2016 election, many supporters of Bernie Sanders spawned a meme: 'Bernie would have won.' Notwithstanding the merits of the argument itself - of which much has already been said - the meme alone is significant: An indictment of the Democratic party establishment. And, just as in the general election, the centrist Democratic Party establishment has failed to grasp the essence of the meme."

"Breakaway Democrats in New York Feel Trump Backlash" - There's the small question of why Democratic officials from the most liberal districts are making deals with Republicans. (There shouldn't be so many Republicans in office in the first place, I'll be interested to see what happens when they realize this.)

Have I mentioned that Andrew Cuomo is a terrible Democrat?
* I mean, seriously. "Marijuana Legalization: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Opposes Pot Legalization On Safety Grounds, Promotes Alcohol. [...] New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo waded into the national debate over drug policy, declaring his opposition to legalizing cannabis and asserting (despite research to the contrary) that using pot leads to the use of other, stronger narcotics. Cuomo has long promoted the alcohol industry, whose donors have bankrolled his election campaigns and whose businesses could be adversely affected by marijuana legalization."

Oh, for gods' sakes! "Dem senator: Russian hacking may have been 'act of war'." That's not the behavior of a responsible adult. Did we declare war on France when we hacked their elections?

"Trump's disapproval rating keeps creeping up," now at 38%, but, "Congress doesn't fare any better. Republicans, who hold majorities in both chambers of Congress, have a 31 percent approval rating and 62 percent disapproval rating. And Democrats' approval rating is 32 percent, while their disapproval rating is 59 percent." Way to go, Congressional Democrats.

Macleans interview with Chris Hayes on his book A Colony in a Nation, "America's inherent vice: the prison system: The MSNBC anchor discusses his provocative book on America's criminal justice system, the politics of fear and order, and Trump as a conspiracy theorist."

"With Coverage in Peril and Obama Gone, Health Law's Critics Go Quiet: WASHINGTON - For seven years, few issues have animated conservative voters as much as the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. But with President Barack Obama out of office, the debate over 'Obamacare' is becoming less about 'Obama' and more about 'care' - greatly complicating the issue for Republican lawmakers."

Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque, "The ICEmen Cometh: Madness, Blindness and the Anti-Immigrant Cargo Cult [...] Many Americans seem to believe that if you just got rid of Mexican restaurant owners and all the 'illegals' who clean hotels and offices and do other grunt work for peanuts, then somehow, magically, a cornucopia of secure, high-paying jobs will suddenly appear. How this will happen is never made clear; undocumented immigrants aren't holding such jobs, they never 'took away' those jobs in the first place - and their absence won't bring them back."

Back in November, Ryan Cooper started a little series at The Week. The four parts are:
* "2009: The year the Democratic Party died"
* "Why Hillary Clinton lost"
* "How the Democratic Party can rebuild"
* "How the Democratic Party can become a labor party again"

Bill Black, "Andrew Ross Sorkin's Attempt to Make Tim Geithner a Hero"

Dave Ettlin back in The Baltimore Sun, this time with an op-ed column, "How much do we care, America?"

Eschaton
* "Thanks, Obama! [...] We all want to look back with fondness on the Obama years. There are thing to be fond about, and in comparison to President Pig Fucker, the Obama era will be our happy place, but the economic record was, overall, horrible, and not something to be cheered. Our system really demands that people have uninterrupted prosperity from adulthood to retirement, or they're pretty fucked. And a lot of people were pretty fucked by this recession.
* "Rules: This point has been made a thousand times, but when one side decides it's cool to play with 15 players on the field and keeps firing refs until they find one who agrees, the other side doesn't get any points for sticking with 11. Qualified praise about sportsmanship from the Washington Post editorial page doesn't count as a victory."
* "Ending Welfare As We Know It: One of the more maddening things was the victory laps about 'welfare reform' as if getting people off welfare should have been the goal, instead of getting people to not need welfare, which should have been."

Athenae: "'your husband will do anything for you - slay the dragons, kill the beast'."

BuzzFeed Now Looking to Institutional Dems to Police a Phantom Surge of Lefty Fake News

"Federal Reserve Bankers Mocked Unemployed Americans Behind Closed Doors [...] It was hardly the first time these bankers blamed unemployment on the unemployed, rather than, say, bankers. In an April meeting that year, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeff Lacker told participants that 'Several firms told us of difficulty finding adequate workers, because they preferred to collect unemployment benefits or can't pass drug tests.' He reiterated that point in November, saying that in West Virginia he was told by an employment agency that 'unquestionably the biggest problem in hiring skilled and unskilled workers was the inability to pass a drug test.'"

"Peter's Choice" - One of Rick Perlstein's students explains why he voted for Trump. "The answer was thoughtful, smart, and terrifying." (But I saw comments on a thread about this article where readers disagreed with Rick about that.)

"Apology: On Jonathan Chait's Obama" - Let's face it, Chait's centrism and Obottery are just plain demented.

Bernie says Trump is a Fraud

"Then They Came For The Trade Unionists And It Was Time To Step The F*ck Up (Again!)"

"Donald Trump and the Continuing Bush-Obama Legacy"

A good rundown from the Water Cooler at Naked Capitalism.

"The strange tale of a dating site's attacks on WikiLeaks founder Assange: For an online dating site, toddandclare.com seems really good at cloak-and-dagger stuff. Disconnected phones. Mystery websites. Actions that ricochet around the globe. But the attention grabber is the Houston-based company's target: Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, whose steady dumps of leaked emails from Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign have given supporters of Donald Trump the only cheering news of the last few weeks."

"Is Obama's official White House photographer trolling Donald Trump?"

Our story so far: Labour elected Jeremy Corbyn and suddenly the Labour party was looking competitive with the Conservatives for the first time in years. Then the party leaders got the knives out. "Jeremy Corbyn Allies Hit Back After Peter Mandelson Reveals He Is 'Working Every Day' To Topple Him." You wouldn't think you'd have much standing in a party where you were "working every day" to destroy the party, would you? It's working, though, these guys have managed to drag the party's poll numbers way back down. "But a Labour source told HuffPost UK: 'The idea of Jeremy Corbyn being Prime Minister and implementing policies that actually benefit the people terrifies the establishment. So it's no surprise Peter Mandelson has found time in his busy schedule of spending time on oligarch's yachts to attempt to undermine him.'"

"Dress Like A Woman"

Trumpgrets. The guy who was glad to be rid of Obamacare but wasn't worried about himself because he has ACA, not Obamacare, is perfect.

Adam Johnson at FAIR, "NYT: Unlike Russian Wars, US Wars 'Promote Freedom and Democracy': The New York Times, in its recent rebuff of comments President Donald Trump made about Russia, seems not to have evolved its understanding of US geopolitics past an 8th grade level. [...] Clearly, Trump's motives in questioning American innocence were anything but liberal or noble. He was evoking America's own sins not to challenge them, but to apologize for those of the Russian president and, preemptively, his own. But the outrage over Trump's comments from pundits and editorial boards did not seek to spotlight his cynicism and its dark implications, but rather to insist that the United States is, in fact, on a higher moral plane than Russia. This is a childish assertion that serves to flatter the ego of American readers while legitimizing their government's crimes." Yes, the problem with what Trump said was not that he said we were killers, but that he didn't seem to mind.

Robert Darnton in the NYRB on "The True History of Fake News"

"30 Years Later, RoboCop Is More Relevant Than Ever: Has there ever been a movie more misunderstood than RoboCop? Paul Verhoeven's hyperviolent dystopian cybersatire was released 30 years ago and almost immediately joined the likes of The Prince, Watchmen, and Wall Street in the great pantheon of works whose points have been completely missed by legions of fans and imitators. RoboCop was intended to be a viciously hilarious attack on police brutality, union busting, mass-media brainwashing, and the exploitation of the working class by amoral corporate raiders. Alas, all too many people only noticed the viciousness, not the targets thereof"

"When Capitalists Go on Strike: It's not just 'money in politics' - capitalists get what they want through structural power over the economy. manufacturer refuses to invest in the United States until the government cuts taxes and loosens 'environmental regulations and hiring rules.' The CEO of a top technology firm flatly states that the $181 billion stored in an overseas tax haven won't come 'back until there's a fair rate.' Despite several trillion dollars in reserves, banks and corporations collectively refuse to make loans or hire new employees."

You wouldn't think you'd have to explain this to anyone, but "Gluing your labia shut during your period is a bad idea."

"Keep It Simple and Take Credit"

Animated map visualizing two centuries of immigration. (Thanks, CMike.)

Works at Whitechapel Bell Foundry up for sale.

RIP: Ed Bryant, 1945-2017, a fine sf writer and a much beloved human being, of Type 1 diabetes, and we were damned lucky to have him as long as we did.
* Professor Irwin Corey, Comedian and 'Foremost Authority,' Dies at 102
* Richard Hatch, Battlestar Galactica's original Apollo, dies at 71, of pancreatic cancer.
* "Legendary Jazz Guitarist Larry Coryell, 'Godfather of Fusion,' Dies at 73: Coryell, who passed away in his sleep from natural causes, had performed his last two shows this past weekend at the city's Iridium Jazz Club."
* "Mildred Dresselhaus, 'Queen Of Carbon' And Nanoscience Trailblazer, Dies At 86." She was "the first woman to secure a full professorship at M.I.T, in 1968, and she worked vigorously to ensure that she would not be the last." And here she is in the GE ad, "What If Millie Dresselhaus, Female Scientist, Was Treated Like A Celebrity - GE."
* Susan Casper (1947-2017) was a writer and also Gardner Dozoir's partner as long as I've known them, but most of all, she was my friend, and I have many cherished memories of her. I'd known she was in bad shape over the last couple of years and I did phone her at the hospital at one point, but it was still a shock to me to see Gardner's post saying she was gone: "She was an extremely tough woman, and fought through an unbelievable amount of stuff in the last couple of years, but this last illness was just too much for her fading strength to overcome."

This is a pretty ad called "Winter Lights in Tohoku, Japan 4K. At least, I assume it's an ad, because it played before something I was trying to watch. For about three-and-a-half minutes. Which is way too long to have to wait for something on YouTube. Still, it's really a lovely ad, for whatever it's for, which I can't really be sure of, either.

"Astrophotographer Captures Rare Lunar 'Fog Bow' Under the Northern Lights"

Not sure you can get Terry Pratchett - Back in Black without a proxy server, but if you can see it, I recommend it to Pratchett friends and fans. It gave me a good, cathartic cry.

The Chiffons, "Sweet Talking Guy"

19:54 GMT comment


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 Sma