Wednesday, April 1, 2020

I don't want to hear them scream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"7 of the Best Art Deco Buildings in London"

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

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

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

Warren and Neil, "Splendid Isolation"

Sunday, March 15, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cory Doctorow has moved to his own blog.

Embroidery tattoos

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

The return of the Dixie Chicks, "Gaslighter".

Friday, February 28, 2020

Is resistance futile yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Opinion Rhapsody" is pretty well done.

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

Peter Parker finally gets his driver's licence.