Saturday, July 6, 2019

And behold a mighty city broken in the dust again

"Representative Gottheimer Asks Regulators to Deregulate Banks He's Invested In: At the behest of a big-bank trade group, Gottheimer rallied 16 of his fellow Democrats to join him in urging financial regulators to gut a provision of Dodd-Frank that protects insured depository institutions from risky trading. Big Wall Street banks are on a mission to reverse a section of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill that requires them to post collateral when making internal derivatives transactions among their affiliates and subsidiaries. Congressional Republicans have supported the banks' efforts for several years. Now a key House Democrat has taken up their cause." On almost every progressive or even Democratic initiative, you can find Gottheimer in there rallying to the GOP cause. He really needs to go.

"Planes Were In The Air To Strike Iran When Trump Called It Off." Amazingly, Trump was about to do the wrong thing that Pompeo and Bolton wanted him to do but at the last minute did the right thing. There is much speculation about why he did it, but I suspect that Trish Reagan and Tucker Carlson both, separately, saying on Fox that doing so would be a bad idea, had a strong impact on Trump, who seems to think Fox is speaking to him from God. But then he started obfuscating again — I dunno, maybe he thinks he's playing 13-dimensional chess or something.

Op-ed in the Guardian by Senator Bernie Sanders, "We must stop the US from going to war with Iran [...] I want to be clear on this: Iran pursues many bad policies. It violently represses its own population and supports extremist groups around the region. The same could be said of our longtime partner Saudi Arabia. We need to take a more even-handed approach to the Middle East, and not simply support one side against another in a regional conflict. The US is strong enough to deal with these issues diplomatically, working with allies around the world, and that is what we should be doing. We must not fight another unnecessary war."

Matt Taibbi says, "Elizabeth Warren's Rise Is a Plus for Issue Politics — And a Bad Sign for Billionaires: The press is choosing to view it in another light. That will only work for so long. [...] If Elizabeth Warren is rising in the polls, it's not because people are tired of Sanders. It's because they're pissed at Amazon and Facebook, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase, Dow-Dupont, Monsanto, Syngenta and countless other soulless, nationless, money-sucking companies — along with their overpaid, under-prosecuted, deviant scum executives who've had outsized influence with both parties for too long."

Sam Seder did a quickie interview with Bernie Sanders on The Majority Report.

Full interview: Bernie Sanders on Face the Nation

For some reason I don't seem to be able to find a handy YouTube video of the first night of the first Dem debate. I listened to it in the members section of The Majority Report* but not sure where else to find it that everyone can see. [Update: It's here.] I did find Democratic Debate 1: Night 2 on YouTube (but with so much introductory crap that I hope I copied that link from the actual start time of the debate). Consensus seems to be that Warren gave herself a boost on the first night, Booker committed to being in the Sanders/Warren lane (looking to be the VP pick?) and was doing well until he fumbled, De Blasio suddenly looked like he should be in the cabinet. Beto hurt himself, and no one seems to think Biden can win. Next night Biden embarrassed himself and Kamala Harris went after him like a prosecutor (although I think there were better lines of attack. And, wait a minute, didn't she go to school in Canada?) Buttigeig's damage control seemed to be good for anyone who doesn't read the news, but he repeated the "I don't want to help rich people go to college for free so let's make it harder for poor and middle class people just in case" story. Too bad we can't just vote Klobucher and Delany off the island. Yang still sounds like a libertoonian. Biden, Beto, and Buttigeig each dropped significantly in "electability" polling. Since the assumption of electability is all Biden's got, that doesn't bode well for him.

"Alabama Bars Sheriffs from Pocketing Food Funds: The Latest from State Legislatures: Alabama sheriffs can no longer personally pocket the funds meant to provide food to people in jail. A new law, sponsored by Republican Senator Arthur Orr and signed by Governor Kay Ivey, ends a rule that incentivized sheriffs to provide subpar meals and then keep leftover money. This longstanding practice drew renewed outrage in 2018, when an AL.com investigation by Conor Sheets revealed that Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin had pocketed $750,000 of jail food funds and bought a $740,000 beach house. Also in 2018, the Alabama Appleseed Center and the Southern Center for Human Rights went on the offensive, demanding that all sheriffs disclose how they use food funds; but many sheriffs refused."

How come rich Democratic donors never do this but a rich Republican did? "GOP donor gives $1 million to fight new Missouri abortion law, sues Secretary of State: A prolific GOP donor and Joplin businessman has contributed $1 million to fight a new Missouri law that criminalizes abortions after 8 weeks of pregnancy and has sued the Missouri Secretary of State for rejecting a referendum application that seeks to put the law before the voters in 2020." [...] 'While I am personally opposed to abortion, I do support a woman's right to choose, particularly in the case of rape or incest,' Humphreys said in a statement at the time. 'And I have to believe that the politicians in Jeff City that voted for this bill would themselves support their wives or daughters' right to choose if their loved ones were raped.'" That's right, a big Republican donor is fighting against a Republican abortion ban.

"Oregon Statehouse Shut Down After Lawmakers Team Up With Right-Wing Militias: Oregon's statehouse shut down for safety concerns on Saturday. But the threats weren't coming from anonymous trolls or foreign fighters—they were coming from the state's Republican senators, who have teamed up with right-wing militias to threaten violence over a climate change bill. Eleven of Oregon's Senate Republicans fled the state this week to avoid a vote on a bill that would cap greenhouse emissions. The group, believed to be hiding in Idaho, left the state senate with too few lawmakers to hold a vote. But the move is more than a legislative maneuver. The missing senators have partnered with right-wing paramilitary groups to threaten violence, should they be brought back to Oregon."

"Jewish Activists Are Protesting ICE Detention Centers Across The Country These young, progressive Jews are insisting that saying "Never again" to the Holocaust means speaking up about the government's treatment of migrants. [...] 'We have a responsibility as a people whose history included these kinds of atrocities to identify the signs and prevent them from happening,— said Rubin, a 25-year-old activist from Boston. 'If you've ever said, 'Never again,' or if you've ever wondered what you would have done if you were alive during the Holocaust, this is the time,— she added."

"California State University stashed $1.5 billion in reserves while hiking tuition, audit says: The California State University stashed away $1.5 billion in discretionary reserves while raising tuition and lobbying the Legislature for more funds, according to a report released Thursday by California State Auditor Elaine Howle. CSU put the money, which came primarily from student tuition, in outside accounts rather than in the state Treasury, the report said."

"Bernie to Student Loan Sharks: Drop Dead: Earlier today, Bernie Sanders and Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Pramila Jayapal announced a plan to completely cancel all $1.6 trillion of student debt. Funding for the program would come from a Wall Street speculation tax. 'If the American people bailed out Wall Street, now it is time for Wall Street to come to the aid of the middle class of this country,' Sanders said at a press conference. [...] In April, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced a plan that would cancel about 40 percent of outstanding student debt ($640 billion). Warren's plan is means-tested, meaning that those with higher incomes — specifically those with household incomes above $100,000 per year — would have less of their debt forgiven, and many would have none forgiven at all. Her plan also capped the amount of debt forgiveness any borrower could receive at $50,000, regardless of income. Critically, as Jacobin's Meagan Day pointed out at the time, Warren's plan 'fails to fully cast education as a social right and student debt as essentially illegitimate. [T]his leaves the plan politically vulnerable, because if some student debt is legitimate, then conservative interests will endeavor to broaden that category.'"

"Illinois approves legal weed, expunging criminal records for pot crimes: Illinois on Tuesday became the 11th state to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana for adults, a major victory for cannabis advocates who incorporated "social justice" initiatives into the measure. With Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signature, the new law is the first of its kind passed by a state legislature and signed by a governor. It capped off a legislative year in which legalization efforts sputtered in New York and New Jersey despite heavy pressure from proponents. Illinois, which has more than 12 million residents, is the second-most-populous state to permit recreational cannabis, behind California. Regulators will spend the next few months developing a system for taxing and testing cannabis and will launch sales Jan. 1. [...] Money raised by the new taxes would first be dedicated to expunging about 770,000 minor cannabis-related cases. Expungement has long been a goal of marijuana-legalization advocates, who argue the federal government's war on drugs disproportionately targeted minorities. Other states have similar provisions, usually added after the fact, but Illinois' law is the first to contain such a sweeping expungement provision from the start. Any tax money left over would be used to support drug treatment and enforcement programs, improve mental health counseling access and bolster the state's general fund."

"Aggression Detectors: The Unproven, Invasive Surveillance Technology Schools Are Using to Monitor Students: Ariella Russcol specializes in drama at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, New York, and the senior's performance on this April afternoon didn't disappoint. While the library is normally the quietest room in the school, her ear-piercing screams sounded more like a horror movie than study hall. But they weren't enough to set off a small microphone in the ceiling that was supposed to detect aggression. A few days later, at the Staples Pathways Academy in Westport, Connecticut, junior Sami D'Anna inadvertently triggered the same device with a less spooky sound — a coughing fit from a lingering chest cold. As she hacked and rasped, a message popped up on its web interface: 'StressedVoice detected.' 'There we go,' D'Anna said with amusement, looking at the screen. 'There's my coughs.'"

Robert Reich at Common Dreams, "Dems Cave on the Border: A week of disgusting images at the border that repulsed a nation ended with Trump getting more money to carry out the same abuses, without accountability. While attention has been focused on the Democratic debate—in which most contenders are pushing progressive policies—congressional Democrats have moved in the opposite direction. They caved on an emergency border supplemental appropriation that can now be used by Trump to make the border situation worse, not better. This is how it happened, folks. The House had been working on a $4.5 billion emergency border supplemental appropriation designed to respond to the inhumane conditions in migrant holding cells. The goal was to use the funds to improve standards for migrants, and include safeguards to prevent Trump from using the money to finance deportation raids or his border wall. But then Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, along with a number of Senate Dems, came up with their own $4.6 billion bill containing none of the safeguards to limit the funding to emergency aid—even earmarking some of it to continue Trump's draconian immigration policies, including funding for ICE and funds that could be used for additional tent camps to warehouse more migrants. Chuck Schumer did nothing to keep the House safeguards in the Senate bill. Worse yet, when the Senate bill got to the House, Democratic centrists led by Josh Gottheimer organized enough votes to block the House from putting the safeguards back into the bill. Nancy Pelosi caved—accepting a bill her House majority had no hand in writing—and the House passed the Senate version, with 129 Democrats supporting it."

"What The Hell Is Nancy Pelosi Doing? House Democrats have lost their moral compass. [...] To sum up the week for House Democrats: no oversight of the rape allegation against the president, no protections for abused immigrant children, a hearing on tax cuts for millionaires and a request that Trump officials deregulate big banks. Democrats did pass a bill trying to guard voting systems from foreign intrusion. But at the moment, it appears the most serious threat to the party's electoral future is coming from inside the House."

"How Israeli spies are flooding Facebook and Twitter: Israel secretly operates a troll army of thousands, partly funded by a government department. The Ministry of Strategic Affairs is dedicated to a global 'war' against BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights. To conceal its involvement, the ministry has admitted to working through front groups that 'do not want to expose their connection with the state.'

No surprises here: "Major study suggests Medicaid work requirements are hurting people without really helping anybody: The first major study on the nation's first Medicaid work requirements finds that people fell off of the Medicaid rolls but didn't seem to find more work. Since Arkansas implemented the nation's first Medicaid work requirements last year, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found, Medicaid enrollment has fallen for working-age adults, the uninsured rate has been rising, and there has been little discernible effect on employment. The research appears to confirm some of the warnings from Medicaid advocates who opposed the Trump administration's approval of work requirements in Arkansas and other states. People are losing Medicaid coverage, often as a result of confusion rather than failure to meet the work requirements, but they aren't finding jobs and getting insurance that way. They are simply becoming uninsured."

David Dayen at The American Prospect, "The Democrats' Retirement Debacle—and Ted Cruz's Last-Minute Save: The House resoundingly passed a retirement bill that could be dangerous for workers. It's been blocked in the Senate because of an unrelated perk Cruz wants to give to homeschooling families. House Democratic leaders are frustrated. They thought America would thrill to the bills they're passing that have no chance of making it into law so long as Republicans control the Senate, and Donald Trump the White House. Why they thought that is beyond my comprehension—minority-party agendas hardly ever drive political discussion—but they're desperate to turn attention to a policy agenda rather than oversight of the president (another mistake, in my view). 'I'm spending a lot of time on the issues that my district sent me here to work on,' Representative Ben McAdams, a Blue Dog from Utah, told The Washington Post. 'But it doesn't break through. People understand controversy more than they understand retirement reform, you know?' McAdams should hope that people don't start to understand retirement reform, because then they'd know that the House, by an overwhelming 417-3 margin, passed a retirement reform bill last month that potentially exposes millions of workers to unscrupulous salespeople peddling high-cost annuities through their 401(k) plans. There's evidence to suggest that the bill is the reason that Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal has slow-walked oversight of the Trump administration, including collection of the president's tax returns. If Neal plays relatively nice with the White House, Trump might sign his bill, which helps out the annuity providers that are among Neal's biggest donors.

"Mayor Pete Is Really Screwing Up In His Day Job: On Sunday, a white South Bend police officer named Ryan O'Neil shot and killed 54-year old Eric Logan, a black man. O'Neil, who told investigators he was responding to a break-in, alleges that Logan was carrying a knife and refused to put it down, and that he was forced to shoot and kill Logan when he stepped towards the officer. O'Neil wasn't wearing a body cam during the incident. And as HuffPost reported earlier this week, court documents showed that fellow officers have alleged that O'Neil has made racist comments in the past. The incident is a window to how Buttigieg would handle criminal justice reform and police brutality at a national level. So far, according to an account in the Washington Post, it appears that he hasn't passed the test. According to the Post, Buttigieg gave a press conference about the killing while Logan's family waited in the next room. While the Post says they did have a brief conversation, the family 'grew frustrated with Buttigieg's inability to provide information and his lack of compassion,' and the meeting ended. '[Buttigieg] ain't done nothing,' Logan's mother told the Post. 'He ain't recognize me as the mother of nothing. He didn't say nothing to me.'"

"What Is Joe Biden Hiding About What He's Hiding From the New York Times?: On Wednesday, the New York Times published the culmination of a three-month-long project in which it asked 21 Democratic primary candidates the same 18 questions. According to the Times' own description of the project, every single candidate invited to participate in the Q&A sessions did so, except for one: former Vice President and current Democratic primary front-runner Joe Biden. [...] So what is Biden doing if he's not running around the country campaigning at a pace so frenetic that he can't find a single pocket of time over the course of months for the New York Times? Speaking to wealthy donors about the simpler times when he could still be friendly with avowed racists, for one. But even that only takes up so much time."

Biden was explaining his ability to work across the aisle with people he disagreed with — and cited some nasty segregationists as proof. This might have been interesting if he were working with segregationists to eliminate taxes on Social Security benefits or to lower the retirement age (fat chance), but no, he was working with segregationists to preserve segregation. He's just that kinda guy.

He also manages to give away the store when he works with Republicans, as mentioned before. Another piece of Ryan Grim's work on the suicide Democrats, "Joe Biden Says He Can Work With The Senate. The Last Time He Tried, Mitch Mcconnell Picked His Pockets Badly.: AS THE YEAR 2012 wound down, Democrats hopefully eyed what looked to be one of the last opportunities for genuine legislative progress in a divided government. The party had just stomped Republican Mitt Romney at the polls in a post-Occupy campaign that centered on economic inequality. Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate, expanding their majority to 53 and adding Elizabeth Warren to their ranks. Though Democrats won more House votes nationwide and picked up a net of eight seats, Republicans held onto the newly gerrymandered lower chamber. The hope was tied to the expiration of the tax cuts passed under George W. Bush. Republicans, despite losing the popular vote and only taking the White House in 2000 by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision, moved swiftly to pass an enormous tax cut tilted heavily toward the rich. To do so, they used a parliamentary procedure that could get around the filibuster in the Senate, known as budget reconciliation. The cost of doing so, however, is that policy enacted through reconciliation must expire in 10 years' time. By the time the legislation was set to expire in 2010, the tea party wave had shaken up Congress. The Obama White House urged Senate Democrats to extend the tax cuts, arguing both that they had a difficult political hand, and also that extending them in an unstable economic environment was good policy. White House economic adviser Larry Summers told a private meeting of Finance Committee Democrats that allowing the tax cuts to expire would 'tank the economy,' according to a Senate aide at the time. [...] The Senate agreed to a two-year expansion at the end of 2010, but only after Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., delivered his viral, eight-hour old-fashioned filibuster on the Senate floor to draw attention to the fiscal giveaway. The extension meant that the tax cuts were now expiring in 2012, and in order to repeal all of them — to go over what the media began calling the 'fiscal cliff' — all Congress had to do was nothing. That, Harry Reid told me in an interview for my new book, was precisely his plan. 'I wanted to go over the cliff,' said Reid, the Senate majority leader at the time. 'I thought that would have been the best thing to do because the conversation would not have been about raising taxes, which it became, it would have been about lowering taxes.' In other words, let all the rates go up, and then bargain with Republicans to reduce taxes just for the middle class and the poor. Then-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell similarly knew the difficult position going over the cliff would put him in, and in preliminary talks with Reid, he agreed to let rates on people making more than $250,000 per year go back up, if to slightly lower levels to pre-Bush. (McConnell aides would later say that McConnell had not firmly conceded anything, and that negotiations weren't finalized.) [...] In desperation, McConnell reached out directly to Biden, calling him on the phone and explaining that Reid was refusing to be reasonable. Over the course of the day, McConnell and Biden struck a deal. 'Biden gave Republicans everything they wanted in exchange for fixing the fiscal cliff problem,' the GOP operative recalled."

Also, "Joe Biden Bragged About Getting Republicans To Raise Taxes In 2012. It Was Actually A Disaster For Democrats.: IT DIDN'T TAKE long for the political classes to decide that the biggest loser in part two of the first Democratic primary debate was former Vice President Joe Biden. California Sen. Kamala Harris ripped Biden for bragging about maintaining relationships with segregationists, leading Biden to bizarrely defend the right of local governments to pursue segregation as a policy. And the moderators raised his vote for the Iraq War while in the Senate. The most unlikely Biden callout, though, came in the form of a recent history lesson by longshot candidate Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet. Bennet turned one of Biden's own talking points back on him by pointing out the former vice president's revisionist version of when he was taken to the cleaners by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. Biden attempted to defend his acumen for negotiating with Republicans during Thursday night's debate by citing his ability in late 2012 to convince McConnell to raise taxes. The problem for Biden was that multiple people on stage had witnessed Biden's effort, and it was an utter catastrophe for Democrats. [...] 'I got Mitch McConnell to raise taxes $600 billion!' Biden said. Bennet wasn't having it. 'The deal that he talked about with Mitch McConnell was a complete victory for the tea party,' Bennet said. 'That was a great deal for Mitch McConnell. It was a terrible deal for Americans.'"

"Warren emerges as potential compromise nominee: Centrists who once said the senator would lead the party to ruin are coming around to her as an alternative to Bernie Sanders." There are different ways to look at this. One is that the centrists will abandon Warren once she takes enough of Bernie's support to weaken him sufficiently. The other is that Bernie has been making room for Warren from the left. Of course, both of these things can be true.

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "Elizabeth Warren's Rise Is a Plus for Issue Politics — And a Bad Sign for Billionaires: The press is choosing to view it in another light. That will only work for so long. Back in 2009, I called for Elizabeth Warren to run for president. I may have been the first media figure to do so. This was early in the Obama presidency, when he was beginning to renege on some of his progressive campaign promises (closing Gitmo, drug re-importation, etc.), but more importantly already showing an unwillingness to take on Wall Street after the crash. Warren, a rare high-finance literate among national politicians, seemed like the person needed to lead an economic reform effort after the crash.

"How Third Way Democrats Could Get Trump Re-elected: The New Democracy PAC and other centrist groups want you to learn all the wrong lessons from 2016. [...] Just as there is nothing 'progressive' about PPI, there is nothing 'new' about the ideas advanced by New Democracy. Like the Republican Party, New Democracy is death on single-payer healthcare, which the group's website explains 'would force working Americans to give up their doctors, and raise the threat of rationing care.' Back in 2010, PPI wonks ensured that the White House not push for a 'public option'—a government-run nonprofit insurance option—in Obamacare. New Democracy's stated goal in 2020 is to expand 'the party's appeal across Middle America and make Democrats competitive.' Pragmatic radicals like Marshall advocate doing so not by 'tear[ing] up existing trade agreements' but by building a 'knowledge economy' that is 'shaped largely by American ingenuity and technological prowess'—a vision crafted for corporate America under the guise of aiding downwardly mobile white working people who, according to the New Democracy fairy tale, were abandoned by Democrats in 2016. Not so. The abandonment dates to the 1990s, when the DLC, PPI and Bill Clinton championed free trade policies that destroyed the livelihoods of working people of all races, including many of Hillary Clinton's 'deplorables.'"

The anti-Bernie talking points are going around again (such as here), so let's go back to 2016 when Katie Halper explained how, no, Bernie didn't "dismiss" identity politics. "Bernie Sanders Nailed It On Identity Politics and Inequality, and the Media Completely Missed the Point: For over a year, critics within and around the established wing of the Democratic Party have painted Bernie Sanders as a misogynistic, racist, heteronormative, cis, male, pseudo-anti-establishment, actually-totally establishment politician motivated by a humongous ego and a desire to thwart progress and the election of the first female president in US history. And then there were the less moderate critics. [...] And as we saw in a recent episode of anti-Sanders outrage, this narrative is still extant. On Sunday November 20, during a talk at Berklee College in Boston, Sanders said something nuanced about race, ethnicity, gender and class, and the same media that supported Clinton during the campaign distorted his remarks to fit this narrative."

Right-wing talking-point alert: I was following a thread on Bernie's debt-forgiveness plan and saw someone arguing that in Germany, which offers free college and reputedly excellent universal health coverage, everyone pays 50% of their income in taxes. This is not an uncommon error but this person actually linked an article (that part is unusual) that he apparently believed supported this point. This is the article he linked. As you can see, it does not say that there is a universal tax rate of 50%. It says there is a "tax wedge" of 50%, which is something else entirely. A quick google reveals: "The first €9,169 (or €18,338 for married couples submitting a combined return) earned each year is tax free. Any amount after that is subject to income tax. Income tax in Germany is progressive: first, income tax rates start at 14%, then they rise incrementally to 42%; last, very high income levels are taxed at 45%." In other words, you can conceivably be paying no more in income tax than 14% on all income over the first €9,169. However, there are other interesting taxes I've never heard of in the US or UK context. Imagine my surprise: "In addition to income tax, everyone has to pay solidarity tax, which is capped at 5.5% of your income tax. Finally, if you are a member of a registered church in Germany, you will also have to pay a church tax of 8 or 9% of your income, depending on which federal state you live in." I did enjoy this little exercise, which made a refreshing change from having to explain that, no, a top marginal rate of 90% does not mean that if you make ten dollars, the government only lets you keep a dollar.

Katie Halper, "Sydney Ember's Secret Sources: NYT reporter hides corporate ties of Sanders critics she highlights. New York Times reporter Sydney Ember has a problem with Bernie Sanders—which may be why the paper has her cover him. Ember is supposed to write reported articles, not op-eds, but she consistently paints a negative picture of Sanders' temperament, history, policies and/or political prospects in the over two dozen pieces she's done on him. This makes sense, given the New York Times' documented anti-Sanders bias, which can be found among both editors and reporters alike.

Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report, "The Ruling Class Will Not Tolerate the Sanders-Led Assault on Austerity: The Ruling Class Will Not Tolerate the Sanders-Led Assault on Austerity. The whole point of the austerity project is to disempower workers and concentrate wealth at the top. The rulers will kill to keep that dream alive."

RIP: "Gary Duncan, Quicksilver Messenger Service Guitarist, Dead at 72: Influential San Francisco psychedelic rock band among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list [...] Quicksilver Messenger Service bassist David Freiberg confirmed Duncan's death to Rolling Stone. Duncan's widow, Shelley Duncan Haslouer, said that Duncan had a 'severe fall and hit his head' last week. Duncan suffered a seizure as a result of the fall and went on life support for a few days before his death in Woodland, California. 'I've always thought of Gary as the engine of the original four-piece group,' Freiberg told Rolling Stone. 'He kind of taught me by osmosis, as I was a folkie 12-string guitar finger-picker, how to become a part of the machine. I felt he was always underrated as a guitarist. His solos with QMS were some of the finest ever. He was an amazingly talented musician — one of the best.'"

Seth Harp at The Intercept, "I'm A Journalist But I Didn't Fully Realize The Terrible Power Of U.S. Border Officials Until They Violated My Rights And Privacy [...] It was around 4 p.m. when Moncivias finally finished up and informed me, anticlimactically, that I was free to go. I couldn't wait to get outside because the detention area was freezing. No wonder Spanish-speaking migrants call CBP detention la hielera — the icebox. I took my phone and laptop and silently packed up my luggage, which still lay disemboweled on the desk, underwear and all. Pomeroy was gone by this time. As I was walking out, I said to Moncivias and Villarreal, 'It's funny, of all the countries I've been to, the border guards have never treated me worse than here, in the one country I'm a citizen of, in the town where I was born.' 'Welcome back to the USA,' Moncivias said."

"How a Young Joe Biden Turned Liberals Against Integration: Forty years ago, the Senate supported school busing— until a 32-year-old changed his mind. [...] Ed Brooke, a Massachusetts Republican, was the first black senator ever to be popularly elected; Joe Biden was a freshman Democratic senator from Delaware. By 1975, both had compiled liberal voting records. But that year, Biden sided with conservatives and sponsored a major anti-busing amendment. The fierce debate that followed not only fractured the Senate's bloc of liberals, it also signified a more wide-ranging political phenomenon: As white voters around the country —especially in the North — objected to sweeping desegregation plans then coming into practice, liberal leaders retreated from robust integration policies.

"Apple's Scary Buying Power And The Woman Who Named It: Last month, the Supreme Court opened the door for Apple to lose a lot of money. It decided in Apple vs Pepper — the rare court case that sounds like a deathmatch between fruits and vegetables — that Apple could be held liable for how it runs its App Store. Apple typically takes a 30% cut from every app and service sold there, and Robert Pepper, the lead plaintiff for a class action, claims the company's anti-competitive practices are hurting consumers like him. In handing down this decision, Justice Brett Kavanaugh broke with his conservative colleagues and joined the liberals. Delivering the majority opinion for the court, Kavanaugh wrote that Apple can be sued by its customers "on a monopoly theory." That's pretty standard: when a company, facing little competition, uses its market position to raise the prices of its products, it can be in violation of laws aimed at promoting competition and the well-being of consumers. But Kavanaugh went further. He said Apple could also be sued by app developers, most of whom are forced to fork over a big percentage of their potential revenue, "on a monopsony theory." Over the last couple years, this obscure economic term — monopsony — has popped up in courtrooms, newspapers, magazines, academic journals, and the halls of government. [...] Released in 1933, Robinson's book, The Economics of Imperfect Competition, took aim at the notion that markets were perfectly competitive. Competition, economists believe, ensures prosperity. It's what makes goods and services affordable. It's what drives innovation and economic growth. And by giving us options to quit crummy jobs and get new ones at competing firms, it's supposed to provide a crucial channel for getting a raise. The question Robinson sought to answer was: what happens when markets aren't really competitive?"

From Law Works, The Investigation: A Search For The Truth In Ten Acts" - Theatrical reading of the (abridged) Mueller Report by John Lithgow, Kevin Kline, Anette Bening, Ben McKenzie, Alfre Woodard, Alyssa Milano, Zachary Quinto, Joel Grey, and others.

Quicksilver Messenger Service, "Pride of Man"

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Something inside, that was always denied, for so many years

David Dayen at The American Prospect, "Tom Perez Traded a Puerto Rico Statehood Endorsement for DNC Chair Votes [...] The anecdote reveals a mildly seamier side of backroom politics. But it throws the decision to nix the climate debate into even sharper relief. Tom Perez owes his chairmanship to some maneuvering on the island of Puerto Rico. If there's anyone who owes an island devastated by extreme weather, it's Tom Perez. And yet while he seeks the favor of power-broker Puerto Rican politicians enough to meet their demands, he won't grant the people of Puerto Rico some debate time to address the very topic that's led to so much of their destruction."

Also David Dayen talked to Sam Seder on The Majority Report, Casual Friday w/ David Dayen & Andy Kindler - MR Live - 6/7/19.

You gotta listen to this Majority Report: We've Got People: From Jesse Jackson to AOC, the End of Big Money w/ Ryan Grim - MR Live - 6/10/19. Every interview Grim does on this book reveals new nuggets of horribleness from the Dem leadership that screwed us. In this episode, how Joe Biden pulled the rug out from under Harry Reid when he was trying to get rid of the Bush tax cuts and get something good for the public. I've always wondered how Obama could do something as stupid as making the "temporary" Bush tax "cuts" permanent, and now I know exactly who to blame.

"Citing Fears of Americans Getting 'Screwed,' Progressive Democrats Call Out Pelosi for Crafting Pharma-Friendly Drug Pricing Bill in Secret: 'If we don't address this in a big and bold way, a lot of us should go home and start knitting,' said Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Mark Pocan"

I keep seeing "centrist" supporters insisting that Joe Biden's horrible policies were in the last century and he's "evolved" on them by now. No, he hasn't. On abortion, for example, he not only supported the Hyde Amendment throughout his career, but tried to shoe-horn birth control bans into the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And his campaign says he hasn't changed his tune on Hyde. Except that there was such a huge reaction to this that he reversed his position overnight, suddenly repeating the same objections to Hyde he'd been shrugging off for more than 40 years.

I saw someone who is alert and knowledgeable about what's going on in politics link an article asserting that Elizabeth Warren had chosen a charter school lobbyist to introduce her at a campaign event. People who are also alert and knowledgeable started talking about why Warren would position herself that way. Luckily, someone in that same conversation posted a link this article debunking the first one. It says many wise things "Rebecca Solnit: How Internet Insinuation Becomes Campaign Fact: On the Curious Case of Elizabeth Warren and the 'Charter School Lobbyist' Who Wasn't."

Cenk interviews Bernie about the usual stuff.

"Bernie Sanders's Walmart Speech May Offer a Preview of Larger Labor Proposals: On policy, Sanders is perhaps best known for his support for two progressive proposals: Medicare for All and a fifteen-dollar minimum wage. But his appearance at Walmart's shareholders' meeting came on the heels of a report, by the Washington Post, that Sanders is expected to release a pair of proposals that take a new approach to reducing the wealth gap. One is a plan to require large companies, like Walmart, to grant workers a substantial number of seats on their corporate boards. The other would require companies to turn over portions of their stock to a worker-controlled fund, granting employees both stock dividends and, potentially, the votes in corporate affairs afforded to shareholders."

"Bernie Sanders's most socialist idea yet, explained" by Dylan Matthews at Vox, and the Guardian says, "Bernie Sanders' plan to empower workers could revolutionise Britain's economy: Giving employees a stake in firms would reshape power: this could be the start of a transatlantic challenge to neoliberalism."

"Watch Bernie Sanders Deliver Speech on Why Democratic Socialism 'Only Way to Defeat Oligarchy and Authoritarianism': 'We must recognize that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, economic rights are human rights. And that is what I mean by democratic socialism.'" In which Senator Sanders re-submits FDR's Economic Bill of Rights and quotes the man himself. (Full transcript and reporting included.)

"Even the 1% Know They Aren't Paying Their Fair Share: New Poll Shows 60% of Millionaires Support Warren's Ultra-Wealth Tax: 'A majority of Americans, even the 1% of us, know that our inequality is out of control and we need to make some big changes if we want to fix things.'"

Ways And Means Committee Chair Doesn't Want Medicare For All Hearing To Mention 'Medicare For All': IN PREPARATION FOR Wednesday's hearing on Medicare for All before the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the panel's chair met privately with Democrats to lay out how he wants it to unfold. Rep. Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat who has been in office since 1989, told the Democrats on the panel that he didn't want the phrase 'Medicare for All' to be used. Instead, he said, the hearing should focus on all the different ways to achieve 'universal health care' or 'universal health coverage,' which he said was a better term to deploy. Medicare for All, he argued, was wrong on policy and is a political loser, sources present for the meeting, held last Wednesday, told The Intercept."

"'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion: The top one percent owns nearly $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half owns less than nothing."

Down With Tyranny! is still the best place to learn about Democratic self-sabotage while it's happening. Recent examples are:
* "The Same Reasons Why Primaries Are So Important, Are The Reasons Anti-Democracy Creeps Like Cheri Bustos Hate Them" — More on how the new official anti-primary rule is setting us up.
* "House Democrats Pass Dreamer Protection Bill, But... " — How the Blue Dogs and New Dems tried to help Republicans poison-pill the bill, orchestrated by the execrable Josh Gottheimer. I do not know why this odious man is still not being primaried.

"A Harris poll for "Axios on HBO" finds that socialism is gaining popularity: 4 in 10 Americans say they would prefer living in a socialist country over a capitalist one. Why it matters: Socialism is losing its Soviet-era stigma, especially among women. Popular Democratic socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders are bringing new life and meaning to the term." Socialism is also a lot more popular with women than with men, proving once again that Bernie Bros are the problem.

Matt Taibbi has a sort of blog you may want to subscribe to. It's really articles posted one after another on the page. The one that drew it to my attention is "Military vs. military, with an interesting take on how General Michael Flynn annoyed Washington by taking a position that was unpopular in DC. "Flynn is also a puzzle. He's been outspoken and critical of America's Middle East adventures in a way that's almost unheard of in a military man. In a paper about Afghanistan he once wrote, he said, 'Merely killing insurgents usually serves to multiply enemies rather than subtract them.' He denounced our intel there as 'ignorant,' 'incurious,' and 'disengaged.'"

And speaking of Taibbi's Substack, Thomas Neuburger quotes from it at length in a post called, "Are Right-Wing Media Sources Ever Reliable? which addresses the curious case of what is either an important story or a ridiculous rationalization from John Solomon — but we don't know, because almost no one is writing about it either to support it or refute it. Oh, and he quoted me from a letter, too. I think I'll make a meme quoting myself: "There's a right-wing media that tells its listeners that Democrats are corrupt and lying, which they are. There's a leftish media that tells its viewers that Republicans are corrupt and lying, which they are. The only people who admit that both of these things are true are 'the crazy far-left'."

"Dismissing Bernie Sanders as a communist shows your 'profound ignorance,' says one of the most influential behind-the-scenes figures in American business: Delaware is the second-smallest American state by area and has under a million people, but it's where 66.8% of Fortune 500 companies are incorporated. The First State has become a destination for major corporations' legal frameworks largely due to policies that result in significantly smaller tax bills than elsewhere in the country. This also means that its courts are among the most important in the United States for business, and the chief justice of its Supreme Court has a platform for influencing corporate law. Leo E. Strine, Jr., is the outspoken judge holding that position, and he's got a lot to say about the current state of the American economy. At the recent CECP CEO Investor Forum in New York, which focused on CEOs moving beyond toxic 'short-termism,' Strine said that growth is largely captured by the country's wealthiest. He explained that this can only be changed on a structural level if Republicans and centrist Democrats start supporting significant changes, and look to the past. He pointed to the way some Americans talk about Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is running as a Democratic presidential candidate. 'When people talk Bernie Sanders as if he's a communist, they show a profound ignorance' of the market and of history, Strine said. He added that while he doesn't agree with all of Sanders' proposals, they're not actually radical from a historical or global perspective. Per Strine, Sanders is actually a centrist by the standards of some of our closest and most prosperous European allies. 'There is profound economic insecurity. That is the sort of thing that happened in the late '20s and 1930s and that we overcame with New Deal democracy, which became a role model for market dynamism that was tempered by fairness for everybody,' Strine said."

"In Appeal to Moderates, Sanders Calls for Worker-Ownership of Means of Production [...] And yet if Sanders's plan for worker wealth funds is his most radical and socialistic, moderate voters may actually find it more palatable than his conventional redistributive policies. As mentioned above, raising taxes on the non-rich isn't superpopular in the contemporary United States. Over the past half-century, conservative Republicans (and, to a lesser extent, neoliberal Democrats) have given Americans plenty of cause for doubting that Uncle Sam will be a faithful steward of their tax dollars. Asking voters to believe that the federal government knows how to invest their income better than they do can be tough. But asking them to believe that they know how to invest their employer's income better than their bosses? That's usually an easier sell."

I'm not going to argue with the content of Saritha Prabhu's short article "Joe Biden is a candidate of the oligarchy. Democratic primary voters will see through him", but I was disturbed by this: "He is a personally decent man. But the fact is, he is a consummate, long-time Washington insider, who has demonstrated in his long career that he often dances with the ones who brought him: wealthy donors and special interests." No, the donor class may be the ones who push the candidate, but the phrase "dance with the ones who brung ya" isn't about donors, it's about the people who actually matter when it comes to getting into office: the voters. And that's been the problem with Democratic politicians for 50 years - they think their dance partners should be the donors, but we are the ones who brung 'em, and they won't dance with us, and we let them get away with it, which is why they can keep doing it.

"Team Of American Hackers And Emirati Spies Discussed Attacking The Intercept: OPERATIVES AT A controversial cybersecurity firm working for the United Arab Emirates government discussed targeting The Intercept and breaching the computers of its employees, according to two sources, including a member of the hacking team who said they were present at a meeting to plan for such an attack. The firm, DarkMatter, brought ex-National Security Agency hackers and other U.S. intelligence and military veterans together with Emirati analysts to compromise the computers of political dissidents at home and abroad, including American citizens, Reuters revealed in January. The news agency also reported that the FBI is investigating DarkMatter's use of American hacking expertise and the possibility that it was wielded against Americans."

"Breach Of Ethics: Exclusive: Leaked Chats Between Brazilian Judge and Prosecutor Who Imprisoned Lula Reveal Prohibited Collaboration and Doubts Over Evidence: A LARGE TROVE of documents furnished exclusively to The Intercept Brasil reveals serious ethical violations and legally prohibited collaboration between the judge and prosecutors who last year convicted and imprisoned former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on corruption charges — a conviction that resulted in Lula being barred from the 2018 presidential election. These materials also contain evidence that the prosecution had serious doubts about whether there was sufficient evidence to establish Lula's guilt. The archive, provided to The Intercept by an anonymous source, includes years of internal files and private conversations from the prosecutorial team behind Brazil's sprawling Operation Car Wash, an ongoing corruption investigation that has yielded dozens of major convictions, including those of top corporate executives and powerful politicians. In the files, conversations between lead prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol and then-presiding Judge Sergio Moro reveal that Moro offered strategic advice to prosecutors and passed on tips for new avenues of investigation. With these actions, Moro grossly overstepped the ethical lines that define the role of a judge. In Brazil, as in the United States, judges are required to be impartial and neutral, and are barred from secretly collaborating with one side in a case. Other chats in the archive raise fundamental questions about the quality of the charges that ultimately sent Lula to prison. He was accused of having received a beachfront triplex apartment from a contractor as a kickback for facilitating multimillion-dollar contracts with the state-controlled oil firm Petrobras. In group chats among members of the prosecutorial team just days before filing the indictment, Dallagnol expressed his increasing doubts over two key elements of the prosecution's case: whether the triplex was in fact Lula's and whether it had anything to do with Petrobras. These two questions were critical to their ability to prosecute Lula. Without the Petrobras link, the task force running the Car Wash investigation would have no legal basis for prosecuting this case, as it would fall outside of their jurisdiction. Even more seriously, without proving that the triplex belonged to Lula, the case itself would fall apart, since Lula's alleged receipt of the triplex was the key ingredient to prove he acted corruptly." They knew they were just making it up and they had no case, but it didn't stop them. But now questions are shaking the political discourse and Moro is even being pressed to resign.

"We Finally Have Found a Way to Convert Donor Blood Into a Universal Type: In July last year, the American Red Cross declared an emergency blood shortage - it simply wasn't receiving enough donations to help all the patients that needed blood. Now, researchers from the University of British Columbia may have found a way to address the problem, even if people aren't donating more: convert a less-usable blood type into one that anyone can receive."

RIP: "Dr. John, Hall of Fame Singer Who Brought New Orleans to the World, Dead at 77: 'He created a unique blend of music which carried his hometown, New Orleans, at its heart, as it was always in his heart,' family says of Grammy-winning musician born Malcolm John Rebennack. [...] Although best known for his Seventies solo work and radio hits like 'Right Place, Wrong Time,' Rebennack had a career that spanned pop history. He was a key part of the 'Wrecking Crew' stable of ace Los Angeles session musicians in the Sixties. He played on recordings by Cher, Aretha Franklin, Canned Heat, Frank Zappa and countless others, fusing funk with R&B and boogie woogie." His first album was one of the three I lost my virginity to when the guy across the hall played them all night, since he'd bought them all earlier that day.

RIP: "Doris Day, who has died aged 97, was a singer who came out of the big-band boom of the 1940s to become one of Hollywood's top box-office stars throughout the 50s and 60s. She had a honey voice, short, buttercup-coloured hair, a sunny smile — and as many scruples as freckles. If Marilyn Monroe was the 'girl downtown' at 20th Century Fox, Day was the archetypal 'girl next door' at Warners." Yes, that was how I had remembered her, until I saw Young Man With a Horn one day on my TV, all dark in black & white, and realized she'd been something else before. Be that as it may, That Touch of Mink, in which she plays the ultimate Good Girl, is one of my favorite flicks. This owes a lot, of course, to the interplay between Cary Grant and Gig Young, our heroine's best friend played by Audrey Meadows, and John Astin's portrayal of the egregiously sleazy Mr. Beasley. So, in spite of her image, she's had a place in my heart ever since.

RIP: "Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli dies at 96: The Florence native directed stars including Elizabeth Taylor in the 1967 film Taming of the Shrew and Dame Judi Dench on stage in Romeo and Juliet. Italian media said Zeffirelli died after a long illness which had grown worse in recent months."

Nick Hanauer used to believe one of those benevolent rich people things that screwed things up worse, but... "Better Schools Won't Fix America: Like many rich Americans, I used to think educational investment could heal the country's ills — but I was wrong. Fighting inequality must come first. [...] Taken with this story line, I embraced education as both a philanthropic cause and a civic mission. I co-founded the League of Education Voters, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public education. I joined Bill Gates, Alice Walton, and Paul Allen in giving more than $1 million each to an effort to pass a ballot measure that established Washington State's first charter schools. All told, I have devoted countless hours and millions of dollars to the simple idea that if we improved our schools—if we modernized our curricula and our teaching methods, substantially increased school funding, rooted out bad teachers, and opened enough charter schools—American children, especially those in low-income and working-class communities, would start learning again. Graduation rates and wages would increase, poverty and inequality would decrease, and public commitment to democracy would be restored. But after decades of organizing and giving, I have come to the uncomfortable conclusion that I was wrong. And I hate being wrong. What I've realized, decades late, is that educationism is tragically misguided. American workers are struggling in large part because they are underpaid—and they are underpaid because 40 years of trickle-down policies have rigged the economy in favor of wealthy people like me. Americans are more highly educated than ever before, but despite that, and despite nearly record-low unemployment, most American workers—at all levels of educational attainment—have seen little if any wage growth since 2000. To be clear: We should do everything we can to improve our public schools. But our education system can't compensate for the ways our economic system is failing Americans. Even the most thoughtful and well-intentioned school-reform program can't improve educational outcomes if it ignores the single greatest driver of student achievement: household income.

It's all about the rents. "Michael Hudson - How We Got to Junk Economics: In this episode of Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges interviews Michael Hudson, UMKC economics professor and author of Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy. In the first half of their conversation, Hedges and Hudson trace the history of classical economics and explore Marx's interpretation of capitalism as exploitation." Adam Smith understood that allowing the rentiers to run things was a way to destroy an entire society. Then the Junk Economists came along and rationalized a rentiers' economy — and people still believe it.
* "Days of Revolt: Junk Economics and the Future: In this episode of Days of Revolt, Chris Hedges continues his discussion with UMKC economics professor Michael Hudson on his new book Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy. Hedges and Hudson expose the liberal class' allegiance to the predatory creditors on Wall Street and their indifference to real economic justice."

"Frustrated by His Own Party [...] Franklin D. Roosevelt began his "fireside chat" on June 24, 1938, as he had begun others, recounting New Deal battles won and lost during the most recent congressional session. But he ended the broadcast with a surprise. "And now," the president intoned, "I want to say a few words about the coming political primaries." In this midterm primary season, he said, "there will be many clashes between two schools of thought, generally classified as liberal and conservative." Roosevelt insisted that, as "head of the Democratic Party," charged with carrying out "the definitely liberal declaration of principles set forth in the 1936 Democratic platform," he had an obligation to speak out about primary contests involving such a clash. Thus did Roosevelt announce a political gambit not attempted by any president since: active and personal intervention in key primary contests, not only to protect liberals but to replace conservatives. The press branded the effort a "purge," and the name stuck. As Susan Dunn emphasizes in Roosevelt's Purge, her lively narrative of that vexed campaign, FDR was motivated not merely by personal pique and short-term legislative goals but by a vision of a refashioned party system. He explained in that extraordinary fireside chat that primaries should facilitate a "healthy choice" between the two parties in November, for "an election cannot give the country a firm sense of direction if it has two or more national parties which merely have different names but are as alike in their principles and aims as peas in the same pod." According to Dunn, Roosevelt "believed that the nation should have two effective and responsible parties, one liberal and the other conservative." Since the president attempted to accomplish in one frenzied summer what six decades of subsequent developments only haltingly produced, it's perhaps no surprise that the effort failed. But what an exciting failure!"

Blast from the past, George Monbiot in April of 2016, "Neoliberalism — the ideology at the root of all our problems: Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump — neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative?"

"When Democrats Declined Populism: Sam & Chris Hayes in 2010 - MR Throwback - 5/27/19" — Frustration with Obama had us tearing out our hair, and we knew what he was setting us up for.

"Jacques Cousteau's Grandson Is 3D Printing Coral Reefs: Fabien Cousteau, descendant of the famous sea explorer, is working on a project to bring 3D printed coral reefs to the Caribbean island of Bonaire."

"The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper': The Story Behind Every Song: A track-by-track guide to every tune on the landmark 1967 album"

Friday, June 7, 2019

Can't believe you fake it

"Benjamin Netanyahu: The fugitive Crime Minister: In a move considered surreal even two days ago, the Israeli Knesset — elected on April 9th — dissolved itself last night (Wednesday). Some new Members of Knesset didn't even get to get to give their maiden speech. The vote on dismissal came after a few political days which cannot be described as anything but lunatic. [...] With no cards up his sleeve and no rabbits in his hat, the so-called wizard of Israeli politics managed to pull an extraordinary act of self-immolation."

"Biden, Sanders other Democrats lead Trump in Michigan poll: Lansing — While most Michigan voters don't want Congress to impeach President Donald Trump, a majority said they would vote against him if the election were held today, according to a new statewide poll. Both former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont showed 12-point margins over the first-term Republican incumbent in a Glengariff Group public opinion survey of 600 likely voters released to The Detroit News and WDIV-TV (Local 4). Three other Democrats included in the poll were preferred over Trump by less substantial margins. [...] South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (6 points), U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (4 points) and Kamala Harris of California (3 points) polled ahead of the president in the Glengariff poll, but the advantages of Warren and Harris were within the 4-percentage-point margin of error."

"Ginsburg sides with conservative justices in ruling over prison sentence: The Supreme Court on Monday found that a criminal defendant can be sentenced for violating his supervised release, even if the release expires while he is incarcerated ahead of facing new charges. The justices, divided in the 5-4 decision, ruled against Jason Mont's argument that a district court shouldn't be able to charge him for violating his release because the term had expired at the time of the new sentencing. [...] However, Sotomayor wrote in the dissenting opinion that she doesn't agree with the majority's reasoning "that a person 'is imprisoned in connection with a conviction' before any conviction has occurred.'"

Ryan Grim's book We've Got People: From Jesse Jackson to AOC, the End of Big Money and the Rise of a Movement is coming out, and he's done a couple of interviews on it that are really worth listening to, and you can find them here. The one with Chapo Trap House is particularly fine and concentrates on the evils of Rahm Emanuel and his would-be successor, Josh Gottheimer.

RIP: "Musician Leon Redbone dies aged 69 [...] Notoriously secretive, Redbone rarely spoke out but when asked in a rare interview why he chose to focus on music from the 20s and 30s, he said: 'It was a more interesting time, a more interesting period in the history of the music development of certain styles of music. Something about it seems to speak to me more than what came after.'" My favorite line in this obit is, "Born in Cyprus and once allegedly known as Dickran Gobalian" - I mean, what?

RIP: "Three-Eyed Man: Remembering Psychedelic Seer Roky Erickson." The genius behind the 13th Floor Elevators has died at 71. Rolling Stone has some clips up for you.

"There is hard data that shows that a centrist Democrat would be a losing candidate: Economist Thomas Piketty wrote a paper about this in 2018, though the Democrats paid no attention. The Republican Party has earned a reputation as the anti-science, anti-fact party — understandably, perhaps, given the GOP's policy of ignoring the evidence for global climate change and insisting on the efficacy of supply-side economics, despite all the research to the contrary. Yet ironically, it is now the Democratic Party that is wantonly ignoring mounds of social science data that suggests that promoting centrist candidates is a bad, losing strategy when it comes to winning elections. As the Democratic establishment and its pundit class starts to line up behind the centrist nominees for president — mainly, Joe Biden, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris — the party's head-in-the-sand attitude is especially troubling. [...] Piketty's paper is an inconvenient truth for the Democratic Party. The party's leaders see themselves as the left wing of capital — supporting social policies that liberal rich people can get behind, never daring to enact economic reforms that might step on rich donors' toes. Hence, the establishment seems intent on anointing the centrist Democrats of capital, who push liberal social policies and neoliberal economic policies."

Somewhat longer than usual post by Atrios that begins: "Both Sides: I often think people miss the point of the 'both sides' joke which is not actually that the press always feels the need to bring the universe into harmony by finding a way to match up the sins of one party with supposedly equal and opposite sins of the other. They only both sides...one side. As in, Democratic sins stand on their own, while Republican sins inspire lines like 'Republican Congressman John Smith's conviction on 37 counts of child rape are a stark reminder of the time Democratic Congressman Jay Smith was arrested for whistling too loudly at a woman in public in 1926.'" Read the rest.

Jimmy Dore found a really creepy video of a guy explaining how to provoke a war with Iran. Not as a warning, but as a How-To.

"What was the first US city to undergo an attack from the air? No, not NYC, 2001. And it wasn't Honolulu, 1941, either. No, it occurred during what was probably the worst, bloodiest, deadliest and most destructive 'race' riot in American history occurred in 1921: in the 'Black' neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, called Greenwood. The Governor of Oklahoma ordered military aircraft to attack the Greenwood district of Tulsa with incendiary bombs and sniper fire on Sunday, June 1, 1921, to suppress a 'Negro Rebellion.'"

Coo, Wikipedia has a nice pic of Whit Diffie.

Have a clip from "Feast Your Ears: The Story of WHFS 102.3 FM. I can't actually remember when I first met Cerphe, I guess it was wandering into the building to see a friend who had a late show, but I haven't seen him since that time I saw him hitching into town and picked him up and got to see his new hair up close.

Garbage, "Stupid Girl"

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Winter is over?

David Dayen's last piece for The Intercept before he takes his new stint as executive editor of The American Prospect to full time. "How Rep. Ro Khanna Got A Price-Gouging Defense Contractor To Return $16.1 Million To The Pentagon: JUST BEFORE MEMORIAL DAY, embattled defense contractor TransDigm agreed to return $16.1 million in excess profits to the Department of Defense. The refund was remarkable, a rare example of what congressional oversight can accomplish. TransDigm wasn't required by law to reimburse the Pentagon, and it didn't cough up the dough at the behest of regulators. It returned the money after a damning report from the Defense Department's inspector general, showing profit margins as high as 4,451 percent on sole-source spare parts. And it did so after a contentious House Oversight Committee hearing two weeks ago, where members of both parties — from freshmen progressives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib to Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan — demanded payback. In other words, TransDigm paid $16.1 million because powerful people asked them to. 'We saved more money today for the American people than our Committee's entire budget for the year,' said House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in a statement. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., chaired that hearing. For him, it was the culmination of two years of work on TransDigm, which started when he was a freshman member of the minority party in the House. His successful fight to hold an egregious monopolist accountable for price-gouging reveals the kind of power members of Congress can wield, if they choose to wield it. At a time when much of Congress has gone out of its way to make itself irrelevant, fulminating about the corruption and obstruction of the Trump White House but unwilling to do much about it, it's worth pausing to look at the type of investigation the legislative branch is capable of — and used to routinely perform, to great success."

"The Boss of the NYC Board of Elections is Pushing for New Voting Machines Made by a Company He Benefited From: : It's a new machine called the ExpressVote XL, and it's made by the major voting machine manufacturer, Election Systems and Software (ES&S). In a letter exclusively obtained by NY1, the city asked the state Board of Elections this week to possibly use the new machine for early voting this year. It says using paper ballots would be virtually impossible. That's because there will be far fewer poll sites open for early voting than on a traditional election day. Officials question whether every site would be able to keep all of the different ballot configurations for each election district, and this ExpressVote XL machine uses a touch screen to vote instead. But there is a problem: The state Board of Elections has not certified or fully tested this machine for use in New York. The city Board of Elections is essentially asking state officials to skirt that approval process, specifically asking permission from the state board to use the machine in this fall's general election. [...] Ryan's request comes after NY1 uncovered last year that he had been sitting on a secretive advisory board for this same voting machine company. The company paid for him to take trips across the country, attending so-called conferences. 'The arguments that are in this letter hue very closely to a lot of those arguments we hear coming directly from the vendor's salespeople,' said Susan Greenhalgh of the National Election Defense Coalition. 'They are picking a piece of voting technology that has been roundly criticized across the country and that is insecure,' said Susan Lerner of Common Cause."

"Bernie Sanders will call for ban on for-profit charter schools: (CNN)In a major education policy speech set to be delivered Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders will call for a ban on all for-profit charter schools, a position that puts him directly at odds with the Trump administration and becoming the first of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates to insist on such a move. The Vermont independent also will call for a moratorium on the funding of all public charter school expansion until a national audit on the schools has been completed. Additionally, Sanders will promise to halt the use of public funds to underwrite all new charter schools if he is elected president."

Lawrence Wilkerson is in The New York Times saying he and his boss did a bad thing and he recognizes the signs. "I Helped Sell the False Choice of War Once. It's Happening Again. Fifteen years ago this week, Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, spoke at the United Nations to sell pre-emptive war with Iraq. As his chief of staff, I helped Secretary Powell paint a clear picture that war was the only choice, that when 'we confront a regime that harbors ambitions for regional domination, hides weapons of mass destruction and provides haven and active support for terrorists, we are not confronting the past, we are confronting the present. And unless we act, we are confronting an even more frightening future.' [...] This should not be forgotten, since the Trump administration is using much the same playbook to create a false impression that war is the only way to address the threats posed by Iran."

Even Peter Beinart, in The Atlantic, has a problem with it. "Even Democrats Keep Thinking Iran Is Worse Than Saudi Arabia [...] By echoing the GOP's confrontational language, these Democrats are forgetting a crucial lesson of the Iraq War. America didn't invade Baghdad only because people such as John Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control, misrepresented intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. America invaded because, under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Democrats and Republicans so inflated the threat from Saddam Hussein that restoring normal economic and diplomatic relations with his regime became politically impossible. The result was a web of sanctions that no administration could lift, and a glide path to war. [...] Ever since the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, Americans have held an understandably negative view of the Iranian regime, a public perception that makes it easy for Trump, Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to describe it as the root of virtually all of the Middle East's ills. But, in truth, Iran today is no more aggressive and malign than its key regional competitor, and America's ally, Saudi Arabia. [...] Saudi and Emirati misdeeds don't excuse Iran's. But they underscore the problem with calling Iran reckless, revolutionary, imperial, or destabilizing without describing its American-backed rivals in the same way. In contrast to Trump, Bolton, and Pompeo, security professionals generally describe Iran's foreign policy as opportunistic but cautious. A 2014 Pentagon report argued that 'Iran's military doctrine is defensive.' In 2012, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, called the Iranian regime a 'rational actor,' an assessment echoed by Benny Gantz, then head of the Israel Defense Forces, and the former Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan. The Democrats running for president need to say this too. They need to say it because only by challenging the Trump administration's description of Iran as singularly irrational and menacing can Democrats justify the normalization of relations with Tehran. And without such a normalization, the prospect of war, which flared this week, will return again and again."

"Sanders, Warren, And Wyden Slam Assange Indictment, A Renegade Use Of The Espionage Act To Criminalize Journalism: THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT filed 17 charges against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange on Thursday, deploying the controversial Espionage Act as a cudgel against First Amendment protections and press freedom. It's the first time the U.S. government has used the Espionage Act to prosecute a publisher, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, along with Sen. Ron Wyden, who all have been outspoken on civil liberties issues, slammed the indictment. 'Let me be clear: it is a disturbing attack on the First Amendment for the Trump administration to decide who is or is not a reporter for the purposes of a criminal prosecution,' Sanders wrote in a tweet Friday afternoon after The Intercept contacted his office for comment. 'Donald Trump must obey the Constitution, which protects the publication of news about our government.'"

"Pelosi Must Not Run Congress Like Trump Ran His Businesses: In the midst of a constitutional crisis of Trumpian proportions, the House of Representatives is poised to unilaterally disarm. At the very heart of how the Congress can hold the president to account is whether it will have the resources to do so. The only real growth in Congress's budget over the last decade has been for the Capitol police force (up 25 percent), the Copyright Office (up 50 percent), and tellingly, the Office of the Speaker (up 23 percent) and the Minority Leader (up 46 percent). So the leadership has been spared the brunt of these actions even as the first branch has been hollowed out. This year alone, spending on the Office of the Speaker will go up almost 12 percent. And yet, Democrats, having finally regained control of the people's chamber, are busy cementing Congress's second-class status."

"Nancy Pelosi Plans To Go Easy On Big Pharma: Progressive advocates are angry about the speaker's drug price proposal. Do Democrats care? [...] Although much still depends on the final details of the legislation, the scheme that Pelosi presented to her colleagues would represent a serious defeat for Democrats concerned about the power of Big Pharma and monopolies writ large. It is not clear, for instance, how HHS would select the 25 drugs in question or how long any lower prices would remain valid."

In Fortune, "Joe Biden Is Wrong. Businesses Will—and Want to—Pay for Medicare for All: Earlier this week, former vice president and current presidential hopeful Joe Biden made one of the more unusual arguments against Medicare for All. 'Right now you have this ... overwhelming number of employers who are paying into the health care plan. Why let them off the hook? All the sudden they don't have to pay anything?' I'm one of those employers, and I'm supportive of Medicare for All, but it's not about being let off the hook. As the founder and CEO of a business that has always provided health care for our employees, MCS Industries, I'd rather pay a predictable, manageable payroll tax to finance health care than pay impossibly high and unpredictable premiums."

"New Poll Suggests Trump Would Beat Biden in Key Battleground States in 2020: A new poll conducted by WPA Intelligence — which describes itself as a 'leading provider of political intelligence for campaigns from President to Governor and U.S. Senate to Mayor and City Council in all 50 states' — suggests that in a prospective head-to-head matchup between Biden and President Trump, Trump slightly edges out Biden in four of six battleground states by an overall margin of 46-44. This includes the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which secured the Electoral College for Trump in 2016. Florida, Iowa, and Texas were also included in WPA's poll."

Malaika Jabali in Current Affairs, "The Color Of Economic Anxiety: Is the collapse of Democratic fortunes due to economic anxiety? Of course. Just ask black Milwaukeeans: Is the collapse of Democratic fortunes due to economic anxiety? Of course. Just ask black Milwaukeeans. [...] A common narrative about the November 2016 election is that a wave of white backlash thrust Donald Trump to the White House and that white Obama voters 'flipped' to Trump. This may have been true on a small scale, but Obama-Trump voters did not make a significant difference. White people of all genders and classes voted for Trump at about the same rates as they voted for Romney, McCain, and George W. Bush, and both white and Republican voter turnout stayed fairly steady between 2012 and 2016. More significant was the critical mass of Democrats who defected from the party or didn't vote at all in the battleground states the Democratic Party needed most. The rate of this decline among Democrats in key swing states was larger than the increase of Republicans who brought Trump to victory. And in some states, the drop was unprecedented. While the Democratic Party argues about whether and how to win back the vanishingly small number of white Obama-Trump voters, the uncomfortable fact remains that black voter turnout in 2016 was down in over half the country. In Wisconsin, the decline in black voter turnout between 2012 and 2016 was 86,830 votes. Hillary Clinton lost the state by a mere 22,748 votes. If Clinton won over more of the black Democrats who voted in 2012 in just three states— Wisconsin, Florida, and Michigan — she would have won the election. So why didn't black voters turn out for Clinton? Even accounting for the thousands of potential voters who were likely harmed by Wisconsin's incessant suppression tactics, studies show that voter suppression was among the least important factors affecting black turnout in Wisconsin."

So, it wasn't white voters who made the difference: "As you can see from the right-hand column, Trump did better than Romney among every racial or ethnic group. In fact, if you subtract off how he did among all voters (2 points better than Romney), his performance among whites relative to his overall performance was 1 point worse than Romney's. [...] There are two factual statements you can make about this picture. One is that Trump lost the 'working class' (under $50,000) vote. You will hear a lot of people make that statement. The other is that he did much, much better among the working class than Romney: about 11 points better (the <$30K and $30-50K groups are roughly equal in size). The Democrat always does better among poor people, in part because Democratic policies are always better for poor people, at least as a first-order matter. [...] But in 2016, relative to 2012, the Republican did much better among the poor and much worse among the rich.** His gains among the poor outweighed his losses among the rich by just enough to swing the election."

"Teacher with cancer paying for substitute sparks outcry: A San Francisco teacher on extended sick leave due to breast cancer has had to pay for her own substitute, sparking a nationwide outcry over the policy. The average cost for a substitute in the city is $200 (£150) per day, which gets deducted from the sick teacher's salary, thanks to a 1976 state law. Parents have responded by raising over $13,000 to help the teacher pay her medical bills, local media report. Lawmakers and the city teacher's union are now considering changing the rule." So, wait, Democrats did this?

What makes this interesting is that it's Matthew Yglesias. "Joe Biden is the Hillary Clinton of 2020 [...] What brought Clinton down was public exposure not to her personality — which was sparkling enough to make her the most admired woman in America for 17 years straight before losing the claim to Michelle Obama in 2018 — but extended public scrutiny of every detail of a decades-long career in public life. This, in turn, is the exact same problem Biden will inevitably face as a presidential candidate. Americans like outsiders and fresh faces, not veteran insiders who bear the scars of every political controversy of the past two generations."

Pierce, "The Question Isn't How the Republican Party Produced This Disastrous President*. It's How It Took This Long. Joe Biden kicked up a fuss the other day by saying something...un-smart. (Ex-tree! Ex-tree! Read allaboutit!) He suggested that the current president* is a historical one-off and that, once we are rid of him and have fumigated the White House thoroughly, the normal routine of governing the country will resume and everybody can have drinks with each other at the end of the day. If there is one issue that desperately needs litigating in the Democratic Party's primary process it is this: Resolved: this presidency* is the logical outcome of 40 years of modern conservatism and its effect on the Republican Party. If it wasn't this guy, it would've been somebody else." But that's letting Democrats off the hook for spending those decades refusing to oppose their increasingly crazy antics and even goading them to further heights.

Alex Pareen in The New Republic, "Democrats Have Created an 'Electability' Monster: And this time, it's even eating establishment candidates. [...] 'Electability' is a crock of shit. It is defined, like political 'moderation,' only in terms of opposition to things people want, but are told they can't have, ranging from antiwar politics to left-wing economic populism to even the 'cultural liberalism' that is seemingly the cornerstone of the modern Democratic Party. (Back in 2004, supporting civil unions, not even marriage, for same-sex couples was a threat to a Democrat's perceived 'electability.') While the impulse to vote according to how you think a candidate would appeal to people who don't share your priorities might make sense in theory, practice has revealed time and time again that no one involved in electoral politics — from the pundits down to the caucus-goers — has a clue who or what Americans will actually vote for. That was supposed to be, as the political scientist Masket says, the main lesson of Trump's election. But Democratic voters did not teach themselves to prioritize electability over their own actual concerns. They were trained to, over many years, by party figures who over-interpreted the loss of George McGovern, or who wanted to use the fear of McGovern to maintain their power over the Democratic candidate pipeline and nomination process. 'Electability' is a way to get voters to carry out a contrary agenda — not their own — while convincing them they're being 'responsible.' And now Democratic candidates and their most loyal voters are stuck in an absurd feedback loop. The politicians campaign and govern as if they themselves don't believe a majority of voters prefer their agenda, signaling to their most loyal voters that they must vote not for what they want, but for what they imagine their more-conservative neighbors might want. But when voters in 2016 did exactly that, and nominated the candidate they were repeatedly told was most qualified to defeat Trump in the general election, they chose a person who went on to lose to him."

"Bernie Sanders Used His Campaign Data To Drive Turnout On Strike Picket Lines: Typically, unions rally for a candidate. But using targeted texts and emails, the Sanders camp rallied for unions. Thousands of workers from the University of California waged a one-day strike Thursday and found some unexpected allies out on their picket lines. In an unusual move for a presidential candidate, the campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent out targeted text messages and emails to its supporters in California a day ahead of the strike, urging them to join workers as they rallied against the university system in a labor dispute. Or as Alice Marshall put it, "Bernie is organizing a political revolution under color of a presidential campaign."

"AOC, Sanders, and Warren Are the Real Centrists Because They Speak for Most Americans" - When majorities in both parties support your positions, it's not you who is the extremist, it's your opponents.

Branko Marcetic with another review of A Crisis Wasted, "How Obama Failed [...] It's ironic that Obama's defenders point to Republican obstructionism to explain away his administration's inadequacies, when Hundt makes clear that the primary source of obstructionism was coming from inside the house. Obama's outsourcing of his administration's transition process to Clintonites, combined with his lack of commitment to a progressive political vision, hemmed him in and undermined the economic recovery, particularly since his advisors underestimated the scale of the crisis. David Axelrod candidly admits being shocked to hear a second Great Depression was a possibility, believing the first had been simply 'something that is part of history' and not 'something that could reoccur.' Hundt doesn't let Obama off the hook for his response to Republican obstructionism either. He acknowledges the president had limited options due to an obstinate GOP and a host of conservative Democrats. But he faults the cool, calm, collected Obama for not using the bully pulpit more aggressively to sell the public and Congress on his agenda. He chides him for failing to tie the stimulus to any grander overarching program or vision, like fighting climate change or rebuilding infrastructure. When 'Blue Dog' Democrat Evan Bayh torpedoed Dick Durbin's cramdown legislation, he faced no opposition. 'Obama did not intervene,' notes Hundt. What we might consider Obama's most admirable personal qualities — his preternatural calm, his even temper — ended up being his greatest weaknesses in the field of politics. [...] The Obama administration that came into power in 2009 was ill-equipped, temperamentally and ideologically, to carry out a break with the disastrous road of the previous decades. And while a few, including Summers, have reconsidered some of their original assumptions, there's little sign that Obama or most of the Clintonites who staffed his presidency have done the same. Indeed, while Obama is reported to have privately lashed out at Hillary Clinton's hapless campaign after her 2016 loss, he refused to acknowledge his own role in what happened, believing that he had left office with a 'strong record and healthy economy' and there was 'no way Americans would turn on him.'"

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "We've Hit a New Low in Campaign Hit Pieces: Recent efforts to sandbag Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard are crude repeats of behaviors that helped elect Trump in 2016. Last week, the Daily Beast ran this headline: 'Tulsi Gabbard's Campaign Is Being Boosted by Putin Apologists' That was followed by the sub headline: 'The Hawaii congresswoman is quickly becoming the top candidate for Democrats who think the Russian leader is misunderstood.' The Gabbard campaign has received 75,000 individual donations. This crazy Beast article is based on (maybe) three of them. The three names are professor Stephen Cohen, activist Sharon Tennison and someone using the name 'Goofy Grapes,' who may or may not have once worked for comedian Lee Camp, currently employed by Russia Today. This vicious little article might have died a quiet death, except ABC's George Stephanopoulos regurgitated it in an interview with Gabbard days later. The This Week host put up the Beast headline in a question about whether or not Gabbard was 'softer' on Putin than other candidates. Gabbard responded: 'It's unfortunate that you're citing that article, George, because it's a whole lot of fake news.' This in turn spurred another round of denunciations, this time in the form of articles finding fault not with the McCarthyite questioning, but with Gabbard's answer. As Politico wrote: ''Fake news' is a favorite phrase of President Donald Trump...' Soon CNN was writing a similar piece, saying Gabbard was using a term Trump used to 'attack the credibility of negative coverage.' CNN even said Gabbard 'did not specify what in the article was 'fake,'' as if the deceptive and insidious nature of this kind of guilt-by-association report needs explaining. [...] She's Exhibit A of a disturbing new media phenomenon that paints people with the wrong opinions as not merely 'controversial,' but vehicles of foreign influence." I don't think it's that new, though.

The Onion, "Jay Inslee Recalls Decision To Run For President After 5 Teens From Across Globe Pressed Enchanted Rings Together To Call Him Into Existence: OLYMPIA, WA — Explaining to reporters how he had arrived at the difficult decision, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee recalled Thursday choosing to enter the race after five teenagers from countries across the globe pressed their enchanted rings together to call him into existence. 'The leadership in Washington has failed the American people, and that's been clear to me from the moment I was summoned into being by a multinational group of youngsters holding aloft magical jewelry given to them by the spirit of Mother Earth,' said the 68-year-old governor, adding that he had expressed some initial skepticism about jumping into an already crowded primary field when colorful beams of energy representing the four elements and love had combined to bring him to life, but had made the leap after realizing none of his fellow Democrats were giving an appropriately full-throated defense of green policies. 'Democratic voters have consistently indicated that fighting climate change is a top priority, and this issue hit especially close to home for someone like me who is the manifestation of five children's godlike environmental powers. Please join me in helping to take pollution down to zero.' Inslee then reportedly transformed into a tornado and was racing towards D.C. to advocate for the robust public investments required to achieve zero-emission energy in electricity generation by 2035."
Jay Inslee himself tweeted the story, saying: "This was supposed to be off the record."

"BBC Producer Says Syria Douma Chemical Attack Footage 'Was Staged': Well-known BBC Syria producer Riam Dalati shocked his nearly 20,000 twitter followers by stating that after a 'six-month investigation' he has concluded, 'I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged.'"

"Border Patrol In New Mexico Stood By As Right-Wing Militia Terrorized Migrants: Videos and audio posted by the group and its supporters on social media raise questions about the agency's role. National and international media crackled this month with reports that the United Constitutional Patriots, an armed, right-wing paramilitary group, was detaining migrants as they crossed from Mexico to the U.S. in southern New Mexico. In an April 18 news release, that state's ACLU affiliate called the group an 'armed fascist military organization' and characterized its detention of migrants as kidnapping. It also publicized a damning video of the paramilitaries in action in the desert, rounding up scores of migrants, including children, and shining bright lights in their faces. Two days later, the FBI arrested United Constitutional Patriots' (UCP) leader, Larry Hopkins aka Johnny Horton Jr., on a firearms charge. The FBI has since said that the United Constitutional Patriots had once, according to Hopkins, planned to kill former President Barack Obama, George Soros, and Hillary Clinton."

Paul Blest at Splinter, "Jonathan Chait's Laughable Attempt to Take Down Bernie Sanders Over Nicaragua: Because vapidity never takes a day off, New York concern troll-at-large Jonathan Chait was at it again on Memorial Day with a piece on why, in a country that has essentially known nothing but perpetual war since World War II, Bernie Sanders' pro-Sandinista stance in the 1980s is problematic. Chait has three major qualms with Sanders in this arena based on Sanders' recent interview with the New York Times, the primary one being that Sanders wasn't sufficiently mealy-mouthed about the Nicaraguan Civil War and the American government's attempts to overthrow Nicaragua's socialist government and replace it with a right-wing militia."

"Joe Biden's long record supporting the war on drugs and mass incarceration, explained: Biden was a major Democratic leader in spearheading America's war on drugs during the 1980s and '90s. [...] Consider one moment in his career: In 1989, at the height of punitive anti-drug and mass incarceration politics, Biden, then a senator, went on national television to criticize a plan from President George H.W. Bush to escalate the war on drugs. The plan, Biden said, didn't go far enough."

"The bizarre tale of President Nixon and his basic income bill: In 1969 President Richard Nixon was on the verge of implementing a basic income for poor families in America. It promised to be a revolutionary step — had the President not changed his mind at the last minute. This is the incredible and largely forgotten tale of just how close the U.S. came to stamping out poverty altogether."

From Time, a little bit of history: "The Surprising Role of Clergy in the Abortion Fight Before Roe v. Wade [...] But Landreth and Sandon were not alone. Their experiences reveal how, in the half-decade before Roe v. Wade, respected religious leaders participated in a nationwide struggle to make abortion more accessible. This largely forgotten history undercuts the popular myth that religious people oppose abortion rights. Fifty years ago this month, in May of 1967, as mainline Protestants and Reform Jews called for the liberalization of abortion laws, a group of clergy in New York City founded the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion (CCS), an international network of clergy that helped women obtain legal and illegal abortions from licensed medical professionals. When Landreth spoke out, it was as part of CCS, which by then counted over 2,000 other ministers across the United States and Canada as members."

Women are just like everyone else — sometimes we just might not be telling the truth. "Johnny Depp accuses ex-wife Amber Heard of abuse, chopping his finger: Hollywood actor Johnny Depp had been embroiled in a controversy after his ex-wife Amber Heard accused him of domestic abuse last year, in an op-ed penned in the Washington Post. Things seem to have turned around, however, with Depp suing Amber for $50 million for defamation. Depp's lawsuit referred to Heard's allegations as a 'hoax' and has presented new evidence that it was actually Depp who was physically abused in the marriage, and not the other way around. "Ms. Heard also knew that her elaborate hoax worked: As a result of her false allegations against Mr. Depp, Ms. Heard became a darling of the #MeToo movement, was the first actress named a Human Rights Champion of the United Nations Human Rights Office, was appointed ambassador on women's rights at the American Civil Liberties Union, and was hired by L'Oreal Paris as its global spokesperson," the lawsuit stated. Depp's legal team have provided fresh evidence alleging Heard punched Depp in the face and chopped a part of his finger. The new video and photographic evidence submitted show Depp's face with a huge bruise, and one of his fingers severed. Depp also submitted 87 surveillance camera videos to the court and 17 depositions of witnesses, including police officers."

"Neil Gaiman: 'Good Omens feels more apt now than it did 30 years ago.' Before Terry Pratchett died, Gaiman told his friend he would adapt their novel about an angel and a devil stopping the apocalypse. As Good Omens starts on TV, he discusses fame, politics and honouring that promise."

"AOC, Warren Explain Why Game of Thrones' Finale Disappointed: WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones series finale, 'The Iron Throne'"

The winning sand sculpture at the Texas Sand Sculpture Festival, 2019