Thursday, June 16, 2016

There's no times at all, just The New York Times

The last couple of weeks kinda got away from me, so I'm just going to post this to get it out of the way.

Gun control just became a gay issue: There's nothing I can really say about the Orlando killings, but given that gay-hating in certain American "Christian" circles is ubiquitous, it's pretty stupid to blame Muslims for something these "Christians" seem to advocate on a daily basis. And maybe the story is more complicated than the punditocracy can understand. You only have to look at the Republicans in Congress to know that homosexuals who also suffer from their own homophobia are pretty scary people. Or maybe the guy just got turned down too may times, or just got dumped, but he doesn't even seem to have known the difference between Hezbolla and ISIL, so he wasn't much of a Muslim activist. I don't know. But from the beginning, the media was strangely reluctant to admit that there was any significance to the fact that it was an attack on a gay venue, though the world knew it,
* And then there's this: "British security company G4S confirms that Florida shooter is one of their own [...] G4S claims expertise in vetting and screening employees: 'A robust employee screening programme helps organisations minimise the risk of making inappropriate recruitment decisions,' G4S tells potential customers. 'We have a wealth of experience in developing and implementing background checks and security clearance for companies in the private and public sector.' But time and again racist, misogynist and otherwise dangerous people have slipped through the company's own screening process and been given power over vulnerable people. Repeatedly the company's readiness to act in response to warnings has been found wanting."
* Bernie Sanders, of course, reiterated his long-standing opposition to the sale of automatic weapons and his support of expanded background checks and closing sales loopholes.

LGBT for Sanders: Be the change you want to believe in.

Bernie Sanders' speech in Santa Monica

Stunning millions, the Associated Press announced early last week that the primaries were over and Hillary Clinton had won, based on her superdelegate count - on the eve of the California, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Montana races. At first I assumed it was just AP jumping the gun to scoop everyone else, but maybe not. Perhaps we were tipped that this was already in the works when a superdelegate endorsed Bernie because "the DNC has informed me that I cannot stay neutral until the convention." Hm, where do they get off doing that? In the event, there is much speculation that this announcement depressed voter turn-out and hurt down-ticket races as well as specifically depressing Sanders turn-out (since older voters are far less likely to be voting-day voters and had probably already mailed in their ballots).

So, the results were disappointing, with radical drop in what appeared to be a close race on the west coast, and Sanders only taking two states - one where hardly anyone seemed to show up - only 354 Democrats caucused in North Dakota (which Bernie took 64.2%-25.6). He also took Montana, 51.1%-44.6%. But California went to Clinton (55.8%-43.2%), as did New Jersey (63.2%-36.8%) and the rest, and that's really all she wrote. There are still a couple million provisional and mail-in ballots left to be counted in California, but no one expects them to change anything, particularly since Clinton voters were more likely to have voted early. (But yeah, there were voting problems.)
* No surprises in the Chocolate City, either.

Sanders Campaign Statement on Puerto Rico Polling Places: "Some Puerto Rico Democratic officials are claiming that the Sanders campaign requested fewer polling places in today's primary contest. That's completely false. The opposite is true. In emails with the party, Sanders' staff asked the party to maintain the 1,500 plus presidential primary locations promised by the Puerto Rico Democratic party in testimony before the DNC in April, when the party was asking to have its caucus changed to a primary. They cannot blame their shoddy running of the primary on our campaign. This is just one example of irregularities going on in Puerto Rico voting today. We are the campaign that has been fighting to increase voter participation." Activists had warned that closing so many polling places would cause chaos, and it did, as well as significantly depressing turnout: While local officials expected more than 700,000, only 60,671 made it to the ballot box. Though voter turnout in Puerto Rico is usually much higher than in the 50 U.S. states, Sunday's Democratic race had a dismal showing of just 3.45 percent of eligible voters. After spending weeks telling the press that the decision to reduce the number of polling sites was based on lack of funding and a lack of poll workers, the local Democratic Party changed its story Sunday and claimed that the Sanders campaign requested the cuts." Of course, this is a ludicrous excuse and one wonders if it's possible for the DNC to stop blaming Sanders for their own behavior.

Matt Taibbi: "Democrats Will Learn All the Wrong Lessons From Brush With Bernie: [...] This was no ordinary primary race, not a contest between warring factions within the party establishment, á la Obama-Clinton in '08 or even Gore-Bradley in '00. This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters. Yet editorialists mostly drew the opposite conclusion. [...] Politicians are so used to viewing the electorate as a giant thing to be manipulated that no matter what happens at the ballot, they usually can only focus on the Washington-based characters they perceive to be pulling the strings. Through this lens, the uprising among Democratic voters this year wasn't an organic expression of mass disgust, but wholly the fault of Bernie Sanders, who within the Beltway is viewed as an oddball amateur and radical who jumped the line. Nobody saw his campaign as an honest effort to restore power to voters, because nobody in the capital even knows what that is. In the rules of palace intrigue, Sanders only made sense as a kind of self-centered huckster who made a failed play for power. And the narrative will be that with him out of the picture, the crisis is over. No person, no problem."
* He's right. The press is already full of articles explaining that Clinton doesn't need those Sanders' voters anyway.
* Meanwhile, Joshua Holland is quick to use it as an excuse to stop fighting and learn to love the neoliberals. Pretty sad.

"Proving Revolution Has Roots, Vast Majority of Dems Back Major Sanders Role: 'Election days come and go but political revolutions are not dependent on election days,' says Bernie Sanders." Clinton claimed she was winning because of her policies, but that clearly isn't true if most Democrats want Sanders' policies to stay up front. Of course, a majority of them also said Sanders should endorse Clinton. I wonder if it will be anything like the endorsement he gave Bill Clinton....

"The Democratic Party derailed Bernie: How the establishment has worked to discredit Sanders' movement: Party leaders demonized Sanders supporters to stymie debate of the progressive change he's championed. [...] One constant narrative throughout the primaries has been that Sanders just can't gain the support of women or people of color, and that his supporters are overwhelmingly white males who back him for the simple reason that he is a man (e.g. Walsh's 'angry white male cult'). But again, this is complete hogwash. Sanders has actually done better with young women than young men - a USA Today poll taken in the midst of the primaries found that Millennial women backed 'Sanders by a jaw-dropping 61%-30% while the divide among Millennial men is much closer, 48%-44%.' Similarly, while Clinton has dominated with African American voters overall, young black and Hispanic voters have a more favorable opinion of Sanders than Clinton, according to a Gallup survey from May. Indeed, Sanders is viewed even more favorably among black millenials than white millenials. The survey also found that Sanders is viewed more favorably among millennial women than millennial men, and that millenials were the most left-leaning generation. [...] This seems to validate the notion that the youngest generation is the most progressive generation and that they like Bernie Sanders because he's the most progressive candidate (I know, it's crazy that voters would support a politician because of his or her politics and ideas rather than his or her gender or ethnicity)."

"Media Coverage of the Primaries Was Awful, Harvard Study Confirms [...] Thomas Patterson, Harvard's Bradley Professor of Government and the Press, in conjunction with the Shorenstein Center on Media, Public Policy, and Politics, conducted an analysis of eight different cable networks and newspapers and found that media companies devoted an unprecedented amount of coverage to Donald Trump from the start of his campaign, effectively shutting out over a dozen of his competitors. The Shorenstein analysis also learned that the Republican candidates got roughly twice as much media coverage as the Democratic candidates."

Thomas Frank, "Anthem for Bummed Youth [...] As for the issues, there is really only one this year: What we call, alternately, 'the economy,' or 'inequality,' or the slow deterioration of the middle class. It overshadows everything else. For young people, who know firsthand the emptiness of the politicians' promises of economic security for the properly credentialed, the matter is particularly acute. This is the one great issue facing the nation, and yet as of today it is essentially off the table. Yes, economic desperation has given us Donald Trump, but the suggestion that this swaggering mountebank might actually do what is required to reverse our national illness seems like a cruel joke at the moment. Hillary Clinton, for her part, has never really had more than a feigned, superficial interest in the fate of working people; her lifelong concern is exactly what she has said it is so many times in this campaign: 'breaking down barriers' that keep individuals from rising in their chosen fields. That this is the correct goal of all social policy is obvious and even instinctive to her, as are so many other assumptions of the professional class. Meritocracy defines her life as well as her politics. For the affluent professionals who are the Democratic Party's truest believers, what is unfolding today is a scenario of fulfillment and triumph. They have always suspected that politics is really just a battle between the stupid and the smart, the ignorant and the enlightened, and every morning for the next five months their newspapers will tell them how very right they are. "

Paul Street, "Feel the Hate [...] Mr. Clinton earned the gratitude of Wall Street and corporate America by passing the arch-global-corporatist North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act (which had mandated a necessary separation between commercial deposit and investment banking), and by de-regulating the burgeoning super-risky and high-stakes financial derivatives sector. He knew the score from day one of his presidency. As the famed Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward noted in his 1994 book The Agenda, Clinton said the following just weeks after winning the 1992 election: 'we're Eisenhower Republicans here.... We stand for lower deficits, free trade, and the bond market. Isn't that great?' Clinton added that his post-election policy direction would 'help the bond market' and 'hurt the people who voted us in.' The Clintons certainly do know how to get things done." There's a whole lot more there, but I hadn't seen that before.

"President Obama Proposes Expanding Social Security Benefits" - This is a bit of a surprise, although it's fuzzy enough not be clear what it actually means, but it's a gift to Clinton if she's smart enough to take it. Not sure she understands that the best way to unify the party is to take Sanders' policies on board. Not sure she even wants to unify the party.

Jonathan Turley, "Nixonian palace guard now protects Hillary: Greatest danger from electing Clinton president may be her cadre of fawning aides [...] What is so concerning is that Clinton seems to invite such expressions of absolute loyalty and reverence. The question is whether there is a John Dean willing to walk into her office and tell her of a cancer growing within the White House. After years of scandals and investigations, Clinton has distilled a team down to the truest believers who have little difficulty repeating truth-defying spins or refusing to cooperate with investigators."

"Emails Show TPP 'Collusion' Between Big Banks & Obama Administration: Emails obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show U.S. Trade Rep. Michael Froman discussing TPP with Goldman Sachs lobbyists."

"Hillary Clinton's Flat and Misleading Foreign Policy Speech [...] It's been getting decent reviews in the mainstream media for the zingers she tossed at Donald Trump. But when you listen to the speech (you can watch it here) and think about it, you realize how insipid and unoriginal it really was. [...] 1. The speech featured the usual American exceptionalism, the usual fear that if America withdraws from the world stage, chaos will result. There was no sense that America's wars of choice in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. have greatly contributed to that chaos. Oh, there was also the usual boast that America has the greatest military. That's what Imperial and Nazi Germany used to boast - until the Germans lost two world wars and smartened up. 2. Hillary mentioned we're electing 'our' next commander-in-chief. No, we're not. The president is a public servant, not 'our' commander-in-chief. The president serves as the civilian commander-in-chief of the military, and the military alone. [...] For many people who are leery of a Trump presidency, Hillary's hawkish and colorless conformity to the Washington system is more than enough to qualify her. If she wins the presidency, she will be much like Brezhnev and Andropov, senior apparatchiks of an empire in denial of its own precipitous decline."
* "Sanders to Clinton: Yes, Trump's Foreign Policy Ideas Are Scary. But So Are Yours: We need a foreign policy based on building coalitions and making certain that the brave American men and women in our military do not get bogged down in perpetual warfare in the Middle East. That's what I will fight for as president."
* Marcy Wheeler, "Hillary Promises Not to Order the Military (!?!) to Torture: Though I agree with the general sentiment that Donald Trump should not be trusted with America's nuclear codes, there's a lot I loathed in Hillary's foreign policy speech yesterday. Her neat espousal of American exceptionalism, with the specter that another country could make decisions about our lives and jobs and safety, is especially rich coming from a woman who has negotiated several trade deals that give corporations the power to make decisions about our lives and jobs and safety." x
* "The Bigger Nuclear Risk: Trump or Clinton? If the U.S. election comes down to Hillary Clinton v. Donald Trump, the American people will have to decide between two candidates who could risk the future of the planet, albeit for very different reasons, writes Robert Parry."
* "Clinton Positions Herself to the Right of Trump in National Security Speech: Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies says although Clinton rightfully used her national security speech to condemn the bigotry and outlandishness of Trump's positions, she laid out a much more militaristic foreign policy."
* "We Can't Have More of the Same: The Very Real Dangers of Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy: Trump may well be dangerous. But know what you're getting with Hillary: American hegemony that's hated worldwide."

"Did Hillary Force #DebtTrapDebbie And Patrick Murphy To Stop Backing The Koch Brothers Payday Lenders Bill?"

David Dayen in The New Republic,: "Bernie Sanders Has Already Won California: The results won't change the Democratic contest - but the campaign has changed everything. Does the outcome of next Tuesday's California primary matter? Conventional wisdom says no; news outlets are already pinpointing the precise time of the evening when Hillary Clinton will clinch the nomination with victories elsewhere - three hours before the polls close in the Golden State. Naturally, this perturbs Bernie Sanders fans, who see it as one more way the Democratic nomination contest has been rigged from the start. But they should know that the election in California is of critical importance - not to deciding the 2016 Democratic nomination (already a done deal), but to determining the future of the Democratic Party."

Hillary Clinton's Plan for Conservation and Collaborative Stewardship of America's Great Outdoors is full of wonkish phrases but if you read carefully, it seems to be saying we will be destroying the natural landscape in order to turn it into energy farms. "MAKE PUBLIC LANDS AN ENGINE OF THE CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY: As President, Clinton will set a goal to generate enough renewable energy to power every home in the country. To help meet this goal, Clinton will expand energy production on public lands and waters ten-fold within ten years of taking office, while reforming federal fossil fuel leasing."

"Clinton isn't Moving Left, She is Dragging her Supporters to the Right
* "Clinton's Long Shadow: Hillary Clinton may never be called to account for her role in Haiti's ongoing political crisis."

Yves Smith, "Why Some of the Smartest Progressives I Know Will Vote for Trump over Hillary [...] The result is that the U.S. economy is becoming lethal to the less fortunate, according to the New York Times, which reported this week that U.S. death rates have risen for the first time in a decade. The increase in death rates among less educated whites since 2001 is roughly the size of the AIDS epidemic. One cause, the opioid epidemic, resulted from Purdue Pharma overselling the effectiveness of reformulated OxyContin, then recommending higher dosages when it failed to work properly, which experts deemed a prescription for creating addicts, according to a number of lawsuits. This was permitted by the U.S. government, leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths. Despite President Barack Obama's Panglossian claim that the economy is doing well, the spike in suicides to levels over those during the financial crisis belies that. Yet the Clinton campaign is in such denial about this that it has become vitriolic in its verbal and tactical attacks on Sanders and his supporters - rather than recognizing that the stunning success of his campaign is proof of their abject policy failures. The message is clear: The Clintons believe, as Bill himself put it, that the true progressives have nowhere to go. But in fact, they've been leaving. The Clinton and Obama administrations presided over the worst losses in congressional and state races in modern history in 1994, 2010 and 2012. And voter preferences were clear. Under Obama, it was the Blue Dog, Third Way Democrats who were turfed out, while candidates with strong stances on economic justice kept their seats. Similarly, as political scientist Tom Ferguson pointed out in a Roosevelt Institute paper, Obama's loss of a Senate majority when Republican Scott Brown won in Massachusetts was the result of his focus on bailing out banks rather than aiding distressed homeowners (or forcing mortgage services to give modifications to borrowers who still had adequate income, as banks had done historically). The level of votes for Brown was strongly correlated with the amount of foreclosures in those particular districts."
* And a scary poll graph from The Wall Street Journal and NBC News shows Americans think Trump will be better than Clinton on the economy, but Clinton will be a better "Commander in Chief".

"Obama Administration Bars Release of Clinton's TPP Emails Until Post-Election: Response for FOIA request was 'abruptly' changed from spring 2016 to late November 2016."

"New Hillary Scandal Checks All the Boxes on the Clinton Controversy Bingo Card. [...] Thanks to a newly released batch of State Department emails, ABC News was able to revisit the story of Rajiv Fernando, a wealthy securities trader who gave heavily to both Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and the Clinton Foundation - and who just so happened to land himself a plum spot on a sensitive government intelligence advisory panel after Hillary became secretary of state. Politicos rewarding donors is sadly not uncommon but what makes this particular example stand out is Fernando's lack of qualifications for a job that involved advising the secretary of state - and, by extension, the president of the United States - on the topic of nuclear weapons."

"Fraction Magic - Part 1: Votes Are Being Counted As Fractions Instead Of As Whole Numbers: This report summarizes the results of our review of the GEMS election management system, which counts approximately 25 percent of all votes in the United States. The results of this study demonstrate that a fractional vote feature is embedded in each GEMS application which can be used to invisibly, yet radically, alter election outcomes by pre-setting desired vote percentages to redistribute votes. This tampering is not visible to election observers, even if they are standing in the room and watching the computer. Use of the decimalized vote feature is unlikely to be detected by auditing or canvass procedures, and can be applied across large jurisdictions in less than 60 seconds."

David Dayen, "New Payday-Loan Rules Won't Stop Predatory Lenders"

Government Will Pay $100,000 to Davis, Former Chief Prosecutor at Guantánamo

Jason Leopold, Marcy Wheeler, and Ky Henderson at Vice, "Snowden Tried to Tell NSA About Surveillance Concerns, Documents Reveal." Which is what he's been saying all along.

Employers Butthurt By Having To Pay Hard Workers A Middle Class Wage

"US unemployed have quit looking for jobs at a 'frightening' level: Survey" - I wonder if anyone has noticed.

"The Research Is Clear: Long Hours Backfire for People and for Companies" - The reason we had eight-hour days in the first place wasn't just the union movement, it was the realization by employers that by having workers on the job for shorter hours, they saved money. If they could figure that out in the steel mills of Pittsburgh, it's amazing that our modern technocrats haven't managed to keep up to date.

"Ex-Big Pharma Rep: We're Trained To Misinform -The Drugs ARE Dangerous."

"Burying the White Working Class: Liberal condescension towards white workers is code for a broader anti-working class agenda [...] Despite off-the-charts wealth inequality, Democratic Party liberals have been concerned not with an egalitarian reckoning to unite the have-nots against the haves but with inclusion: bringing different 'interest groups' into the professional class while managing everyone else's expectations downward. This kind of 'inclusion' politics - the chance at climbing one of a tiny handful of rickety ladders to the top - is the only economic program the Democratic Party mainstream is selling to those not already in the upper tiers. Sure, this politics is better than nothing. But as Ralph Miliband put it, 'access to positions of power by members of the subordinate classes does not change the fact of domination: it only changes its personnel.' Standing outside of this shift, unmoved and - as the Democratic Party sees it - ungrateful, is the white working class. Not just those silver-haired remnants from the unionized, manufacturing heyday whose jobs have been offshored or, more likely, de-unionized, but the vast swath who've been forced to adjust to the new norm of low-wage, flexible, service-sector hell. Even with the college degree and boatload of debt needed to obtain it."

Astonishingly, "Larry Summers Gets This Right: We Really Need An Infrastructure Decade" - When ordinary people don't have enough money to spend, there's no demand, and therefore nothing for rich investors to invest in. You can start fixing this by having a government that puts money into the hands of ordinary people - by, for example, hiring them to do all the work that needs to be done, of which there is quite a lot.

"John Oliver buys up $15 million in medical debt, then pays off the debt for 9,000 people in hardship." Actually, he bought it up at a substantial discount ($60K) and then simply forgave the debt, but how cool is that? (I couldn't see the video in the article, which apparently the uploader had not made available in my country, but I found it here instead.)

"US unemployed have quit looking for jobs at a 'frightening' level: Survey." I'm just gonna let you read this and make your own grumbled retorts.

"U.N. Chief Admits He Removed Saudi Arabia From Child-Killer List Due to Extortion: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon publicly acknowledged Thursday that he removed the Saudi-led coalition currently bombing Yemen from a blacklist of child killers - 72 hours after it was published - due to a financial threat to defund United Nations programs."

RIP: Muhammad Ali, 'The Greatest of All Time', Dead at 74. He would "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." He was a champion of civil rights and one of the most compelling figures on the world stage in my lifetime.
* Pierce: "Muhammad Ali Transcended Sports, Culture, and Time: There's no real ending for an existence like that."
* Thomas Hauser in the Guardian, "Muhammad Ali: the man behind the icon: The late boxer's biographer recalls getting to know a deeply spiritual and intelligent man with endless tales, no regrets and a passion for life that never diminished, even as his condition did."
* "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I'm not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn't have to draft me, I'd join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I'll go to jail, so what? We've been in jail for 400 years." - Muhammad Ali

Richard Eskow, "Social Security's Enemies Are Down - But They're Not Out [...] If the Republicans win all three branches of government, Social Security will be in immediate mortal danger. And while the rhetorical shift among Democrats is welcome, they'll need to be held to it. Hillary Clinton's website says she would 'expand Social Security for those who need it most and who are treated unfairly by the current system.' That's not enough, given the current retirement crisis. The Sanders proposal, which is detailed and covers everyone, must be written into the Democratic platform. And activists must send the message that there will be dire political consequences if it isn't honored. Otherwise, a new 'grand bargain' is still a very real possibility."

"Eric Clapton Struggling to Play Guitar Due to Nerve System Damage." He can still play, but it hurts.

Congratulations, Roz! "30 years on, Roz Kaveney's Tiny Pieces of Skull, or a Lesson in Manners is finally in print and winning prizes."

"The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare: Australia's natural wonder is in mortal danger. Bleaching caused by climate change has killed almost a quarter of its coral this year and many scientists believe it could be too late for the rest. Using exclusive photographs and new data, a Guardian special report investigates how the reef has been devastated - and what can be done to save it"

Wind sculptures

Simon & Garfunkel live

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Nobody knows

The moment Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy, the entire press corps started singing in unison a talking point that they were obviously repeating directly from the Clinton campaign: "Bernie Sanders doesn't connect with people of color."

That's how I knew from the start that the Clinton campaign was going to use racism to undermine a man whose support for black civil rights goes seamlessly back from the 1960s (a time when Clinton was supporting Goldwater), right up to the present. (The real disparity is that, though young black people have a slight preference for Sanders, they are less likely to vote than their white counterparts.)

The "doesn't connect with people of color" story is veiled but implies a racism that isn't there: Sanders doesn't hang out with a lot of black people, Sanders moved to a white state, Sanders wins white states, and on and on and on - from which we are meant to infer that maybe what's behind Sanders is that perhaps he doesn't really like black people very much, and that the Democrats who like Sanders might not like black people much, either. It was also a way to make his black supporters invisible, the same way the BernieBros meme was meant to make his female supporters invisible (as a similar Clinton campaign meme did in '08). So you never see much in the press about how support for Sanders among male millenials is nothing compared to Sanders' support from young women, and you don't hear about it when numerous black and Latino-dominated groups endorse Sanders, nor when America's oldest black magazine endorses him. The suggestion, of course, is that only sexist men and whites like Sanders, because they just don't care about racism or sexism.

Neoliberals, like their plantation-owning ancestors, love to use racism and sexism to divide people, and this is a great example of how they do it. When Clinton says "If we break up the big banks, will that end racism? Will that end sexism?" she isn't just pointing out that "not everything is an economic theory," she is actually pitting economic justice against social justice, as if the two weren't very much a part of the same thing. She doesn't want you to think about how white racism is constantly encouraged and used to break up joint efforts by whites and blacks together to get economic justice. And she also doesn't want you to ask whether Too Big To Fail banks should be allowed to continue to suck away the wealth of the black community and impoverish women (and whites in general) whose lives are already precarious - and whether doing so can possibly do anything to ameliorate racism and sexism, either.

Understand, the big banks stole the homes of millions of people, committed massive fraud of every kind and created the greatest financial crisis in history and were allowed to get away with it and keep doing it because they were deemed "too big to fail", and yet Hillary Clinton can say, "If we broke up the big banks tomorrow - and I will if they deserve it, if they pose a systemic risk, I will - would that end racism?" as if their being too big and posing a threat was even in question, despite the fact that they are even bigger today than they were in 2008.

"If"? If they pose a systemic risk? If they deserve it? Is this a joke? Thanks to Bill Clinton's policies and Obama's indulgence of the banksters, the black community has been losing economic ground to an even greater degree than they did under Reagan, but we're supposed to ignore that.

We are also supposed to ignore the fact that it is precisely because of the growing poverty of whites that resentment of black people has skyrocketed, and every time Democrats speak as if they are going to give special help to blacks or women, that resentment grows. It doesn't grow because everyone is a racist, it grows because when they hear Democrats talking about how bad things are for black people, they know that what they really mean is, "We're not going to help you."

This is why the right-wing can sell the implication that black people are getting some kind of secret welfare that whites aren't getting, that they are giving black people a leg up while letting whites sink into poverty and die.

But the kicker is, they're not helping black people, either, and they're still not going to.

* * * * *

Feeling the Hamilton-style Bern

Starting to see new polling in California that show the gap narrowing again. Still not throwing any parties yet, and even if Sanders wins, it probably won't be big enough to make a real difference, but perhaps he won't do as badly as earlier polls were suggesting.

I haven't seen any official statement that Clinton did anything indictable, but some people seem to be sure the indictment is coming - just as soon as she officially gets nominated.
* State Dept. Report on Clinton's Emails
* Hillary Clinton broke the rules for using private email, State Department says
* Experts: Audit justifies FBI's push for Hillary Clinton indictment

Seizing Chance, Sanders Makes Bold Progressive Picks to Shape DNC Platform
* DNC to offer Sanders more seats on platform committee: report
* This story is slanted, but essentially correct in its conclusions: "Bernie Sanders's 'Scorched Earth' Strategy Seems to Be Working [...] In late April, when national polls consistently showed Clinton prevailing over Trump by comfortable margins, Clinton allies were whispering to the Hill that she planned to take a 'hard line' with Sanders, insisting the party's left flank had already received its fair share of concessions. Since then, Clinton's unfavorability rating with Sanders's supporters has steadily increased - and her polling advantage over Trump has collapsed. Now, anonymous Clinton surrogates are singing a different tune. 'She needs to do something in the coming weeks to show that she's also trying to unify the party,' a Clinton ally told the Hill on Thursday, arguing that Clinton should look left for her vice-presidential pick." Of course, this was always true - alienating Sanders supporters was a good way to alienate them, as anyone could have told her. Leadership requires that she, not Sanders, find some way to unify the party. It's always important for a candidate to ask voters for their votes, but Hillary's message for the last few weeks had been, "I don't need you, go away." Stupid. Relenting on freezing Sanders out of choosing members of the platform committee is a nice start, though it means little in the long run. Still, Bernie picked some pretty in-your-face choices and it could make a difference on issues that don't get much of a hearing otherwise. But we all know Clinton needn't bother running on that platform and no one ever seems to remember what was in the platform once the general election is over. But even The Washington Post is seeing this as a win for Sanders.

A Voter's Guide to Hillary Clinton's Policies in Latin America

There's tons of evidence all over the net of no violence having occurred at the Nevada convention, but the Clinton talking points went out and spread Jon Ralston's fairy story far and wide, and nothing seems to catch up with it. Of course, the whole "BernieBros"-style narrative is a time-honored tradition in HRC campaigns, so we shouldn't be surprised.
* Snopes: "The Chair Thrown 'Round the World: A Las Vegas reporter's second-hand claim Bernie Sanders supporters threw chairs at a Nevada convention was widely reproduced by other news outlets."
* Barbara Boxer joins the smear campaign with a shameful claim that Sanders supporters frightened her.
* Let's take a look at that internecine primary violence again - Oh, Wendell, how disappointing. Where's Clinton's apology, again?
* Greg Palast, "Media Fabricates Sanders Riot, Buries the Real Story: In Nevada, 64 Bernie Sanders delegates - some committee chairmen and life­long county Democratic Party members - were disqualified on the grounds that they were Republicans. They are lifelong Democrats, and that's why they were at the convention, as chosen delegates. Bernie Sanders had more delegates than Hillary Clinton. It was a very close race in Nevada. When they knocked out the 64 Bernie delegates as Republicans, suddenly Hillary won the caucus by 35 delegate votes. Some of the Sanders people didn't like that. So what was the report? Not how Sanders delegates were somehow excluded from exercising their rightful vote for the party's nominee. Instead, The New York Times headline was: 'From Bernie Sanders Supporters, Death Threats Over Delegates.'"
* But the hits just keep on coming, with members of the party leadership comparing Sanders supporters with the John Birch Society and the Tea Party and demanding that Sanders should point them to the exits. Jimmy Dore reports.

In any case, Hillary Clinton, having declared herself to have won the primaries, has refused a California debate.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, "Democrats Can't Unite Unless Wasserman Schultz Goes!: The Democratic National Committee chair has thrown fuel on the flames of infighting just as the party faces a critical November election." This woman has protected Republican seats and lost hundreds of Democratic seats all over the country. There isn't a single reason to leave her in position.
* But, "In Race Against Clinton, Bernie Sanders Has Unveiled An Ugly Truth About Democratic Party: If nothing else, Bernie Sanders has pulled the curtain back on something we all suspected but couldn't yet prove: The Democratic Party doesn't really care about the people."

"First, Do Some Harm: How to Smear a Disfavored Candidate on NYT's Front Page [...] This is Bad Journalism 101: You come up with a thesis, like 'Bernie Sanders wants to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances of beating Donald Trump.' You take your thesis to your source, and ask them to agree with it; like any sensible spokesperson, they decline to comment on it. You take their no-comment as an endorsement of your thesis - and that becomes the lead headline in the nation's most influential newspaper"

If you can stand Facebook, Matt Karp did a review of Sanders' 1996 memoir, recently re-issued with an updated title. Here's my favorite bit: "Some dismiss Bernie's past electoral success as the skewed product of the leftmost corner of America's leftmost state. But it's not at all clear that Burlington, Vermont was a hotbed of radical energy until Bernie's Progressive Party made it that way. When he won an upset victory as mayor in 1981, the 11 Republicans and Democrats on the 13-member Burlington city council joined forces to block his new administration's every move, refusing even to accept his appointments as city attorney, clerk, treasurer, etc. Only through extensive political struggle - which involved nearly doubling the Burlington voter turnout between 1978 and 1983 - did Bernie build a coalition that was able to govern effectively. In other words, when Bernie talks about one election not being enough to matter - that real change will require a 'political revolution' - he speaks from personal and hard-fought experience." And if you can't stand Facebook, here's Verso's page for Outsider in the White House (originally titled Outsider in the House).

Meanwhile, I stumbled on this piece from April by far-right crackpot Charles Krauthammer called, "Clintonism, dead and buried: Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have decisively discarded Bill Clinton's legacy." As usual, there is a lot of twisted logic, but it's a rather illuminating piece of work, when you think about it.

Finally! "Obama cuts all funding for Christian-based 'Abstinence Only' sex-ed programs." There should never have been a single day when this was funded, and it's outrageous negligence that Democrats continued to vote to fund this thing even after they took the White House and the largest majorities in a generation in Congress. I can't believe it's taken this long. "President Obama's 2017 budget proposal has removed a $10 million annual grant that goes towards funding 'abstinence-only' sexual education classes in public schools. By eliminating the grant, Obama would end the financial incentive for states to continue teaching the debunked sex-ed program."

"Banks Must Defend Libor Lawsuits After Judges Warn of Impact: Sixteen of the world's largest banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. must face antitrust lawsuits accusing them of hurting investors who bought securities tied to Libor by rigging an interest-rate benchmark, a ruling that an appeals court warned could devastate them."

"GOP budget bill would kill net neutrality and FCC's set-top box plan: House Republicans yesterday released a plan to slash the Federal Communications Commission's budget by $69 million and prevent the FCC from enforcing net neutrality rules, "rate regulation," and its plan to boost competition in the set-top box market. The proposal is the latest of many attempts to gut the FCC's authority, though it's unusual in that it takes aim at two of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's signature projects while also cutting the agency's budget. The plan is part of the government's annual appropriations bill."

Ryan Cooper recommends David Dayen's Chain of Title in The Week, "This is Obama's biggest failure: In the early 2000s, when the great housing bubble was gaining steam, one hurdle for Wall Street firms who wanted to issue mortgage-backed financial products was the simple reality of the American mortgage market: It was mature. It had been around for decades, its procedures were very well-established, and just about everyone who could reasonably qualify for a loan already had one. One path mortgage originators took, as most people know by now, is handing out mortgages to anyone who could fog a mirror. But another one was systematic fraud. That is the subject of Chain of Title, a new book by David Dayen about the foreclosure crisis. It's an excellent and absolutely infuriating look at how the American political system, from Barack Obama on down, refused to use enormous legal leverage to help millions of its citizens who were victimized by Wall Street crime. Every American should read this book."
* David Dayen in Salon, "This man made millions suffer: Tim Geithner's sorry legacy on housing: Forget the book tour designed to polish his legacy. Tim Geithner's record on housing will forever live in infamy [...] In reality, Geithner made the same arguments as DeMarco against principal reduction, most explicitly in a hearing of the Congressional Oversight Panel in December 2009, arguing it would be 'dramatically more expensive for the American taxpayer, harder to justify, [and] create much greater risk of unfairness.' Geithner later cited the potential moral hazard of 'strategic default,' where homeowners would intentionally not pay their mortgage to get a principal reduction (something that never has and never would happen), to argue against making such modifications mandatory when they made sense for the investor and the borrower."
* From 2012, in The Fordham Urban Law Journal, Matt Stoller with "The Housing Crash and the End of American Citizenship

Tom Gallagher in the Los Angeles Times, "Can superdelegates be convinced to support Bernie Sanders? Unlikely, but not impossible [...] It's all but impossible for either Clinton or Sanders to amass enough pledged delegates to ensure the nomination before the convention. To achieve the 2,383 votes needed just through pledged delegates, Clinton would need to take 77% of those still up for grabs in the remaining primaries and caucuses, even though her portion of those elected so far is just 54%. Sanders could not reach the mark even if he were to win all of the remaining pledged delegates. This puts the Democratic nomination squarely in the hands of the party's 714 superdelegates."

The Hill says, "Sanders is the king of credibility in 2016 [...] Even more striking, the number of Democrats who consider Sanders honest and trustworthy was an astonishing 84 percent in that poll, almost 30 points higher than the same number for Clinton among Democrats and for Trump among Republicans."

"Koch Brothers Prepare To Go To War Against Democrats, While Schumer, Reid And Wasserman Schultz Go To War Against Progressives: So what are the Democrats doing while the Koch brothers ready a $30 million Senate war-chest for August and September targeting races in Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania? If you're on the DSCC mailing list you know they are asking for contributions on a daily basis. But if you get your Senate campaign news from that list what you don't know is that they've been deploying whatever money they can get their hands on to smear and destroy progressive Democrats. If you contributed to the DSCC, regardless of what the e-mail you were responding to said, your money went to knock Joe Sestak out of the Pennsylvania Senate race because he refused to kiss Chuck Schumer's ass. (The Democrats don't put it that graphically and just claim he is too independent-minded for what they have in mind.)"

I confess, I have been unable to understand why people who I swear gave every appearance of being real liberal progressives who understood the problems with the Democratic establishment a year ago seem to have become its great defenders once this race got started. Is it really down to this? "When olds like Joan Walsh and Michael Tomasky lecture young people for worrying about their future, they are doing this from a position of absolute privilege. For them, a Hillary Clinton presidency is acceptable, because they get all of the advantages and none of the disadvantages. They get low energy prices that come from Clinton's middling climate-change incrementalism, and none of the droughts, rising oceans, and global instability that we'll see by the end of the century. They can tell young black people that their votes don't matter, because olds won't be around to see the devastation wrought to black communities by Clintonian economic governance; olds will, however, get the nice short-term bump in their 401(k) that comes when Hillary inflates the next bubble. They can tell young women that their fights for childcare and family leave are overhyped, because the boomers have already sent their last children to college."

Remember, it's still a lie that the 1973 decision in Roe v Wade caused a natural backlash. There was no backlash, so they had to invent one. Samantha Bee's Full Frontal.on the history of the religious right and how the anti-choice movement got started as a cynical move to create a political movement. Part 2. And the full interview with Frank Schaefer about his involvement, which he says he bitterly regrets.

The Supreme Court Just Sent a Strong Message About Racism in the Justice System: In a 7-1 opinion, the court grants a new trial for a black death row inmate convicted by an all-white jury>." [...] The lone dissenter was the court's only African American justice, Clarence Thomas, who sided firmly with state of Georgia."

"Banks Must Defend Libor Lawsuits After Judges Warn of Impact: Sixteen of the world's largest banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. must face antitrust lawsuits accusing them of hurting investors who bought securities tied to Libor by rigging an interest-rate benchmark, a ruling that an appeals court warned could devastate them. The appellate judges reversed a lower-court ruling on one issue -- whether the investors had adequately claimed in their complaints to have been harmed -- while sending the cases back for the judge to consider another issue: whether the plaintiffs are the proper parties to sue, in part because their claims, if successful, provide for triple damages that could overwhelm the banks."

"Wisconsin county clerk objects to weekend voting because it gives urban areas 'too much access': a Wisconsin county clerk testified in federal court this week that weekend voting should be eliminated because it gave urban areas 'too much access' to the polls."

"San Francisco Police Chief Resigns Following Recent Police Shooting: San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr has resigned following a shooting by San Francisco police officers. SF Mayor Ed Lee asked for Suhr's resignation and then announced it at a press conference at City Hall Thursday evening. The announcement comes just days after Suhr indicated he had no intention of leaving the department. But this morning, A 27-year-old black woman was shot by SFPD officers in the Bayview neighborhood around 10am"

"15 Year-Old BackPage Prostitute Sentenced To 9-years In Prison: A 15-year-old girl and mother of two toddlers was sentenced to prison for helping to rob prospective johns who responded to an Internet sex ad. 15-year-old prostitute sentenced to 9-years prison for robbing a trick with a toy gun Latesha Clay was sentenced Monday, Jan. 11, to nine years in prison for robbing two men who responded to an ad on Backpage.com. The ad offered sex with a teen."

US nuclear arsenal controlled by 1970s computers with 8in floppy disks: Government Accountability Office report details 'museum-ready' machines controlling nuclear force messaging system that are 'obsolete'."

"Outgoing Defense Minister Ya'alon: Extremists Have Taken Over Israel: Sadly, senior politicians in the country have chosen the way of incitement and segregation of parts of Israeli society instead of unifying it and bringing it together. It is unbearable to me that we will be divided among us out of cynicism and lust for control, and I expressed my opinion on the matter more than once out of honest concern for the future of society in Israel and the future of the next generations"
* "Israel Has Been Infected by the Seeds of Fascism, Says ex-Prime Minister Ehud Barak [...] Responding to the resignation of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon earlier in the day, Barak said that it 'should be a red light for all of us regarding what's going on in the government. Life-sustaining Zionism and the seeds of fascism cannot live together,'"

RIP:
* Hedy Epstein, Rights Activist and Holocaust Survivor, Dies at 91, of cancer. This is her in a Humans of St. Louis post on Facebook last year: "The first time I really remember being shocked about my own lack of information was when I came to this country in May 1948, and I started working a few days later. The person who told me what I was supposed to do in my job was an African American woman. Shortly before lunchtime she said, 'We go to lunch at noon. Did you bring your lunch?' And I said, 'No.' She told me all the different restaurants in the neighborhood. This was in New York City. So, I said, 'Well, can we go together?' And she said, 'No.' And I didn't really think anything about it. Maybe she's made some arrangement with somebody else. 'OK, well, maybe tomorrow?' 'No.' I waited a few days, and I asked again, 'Well, can we go to lunch together?' 'No.' By that time, I was beginning to wonder, 'Is there something about me that's bothering you? Please tell me.' She said, 'Well, you know why.' 'No, I don't know why.' I said, 'Please tell my why. I honestly don't know why.' 'Well, you're White, and where you can go to lunch, I cannot. I'm Negro. And where I go, White people don't go there.' I said, 'What? I read the Good Book, and Lincoln freed the slaves, and this is 1948, and you can't go to eat where I go? Isn't somebody doing something about this?' She said, 'Yeah, well maybe the Urban League and the NAACP.' I said, 'Well, how about I get in touch with them?' I'd only been in this country less than two weeks. Finally, I went to where she went to eat. I asked her, 'Can I please go with you?' And I ate chitlins for the first time. I never heard of chitlins before. That was the beginning of me getting involved in civil rights issues."
* Marco Pannella, Italian civil liberties champion, 86. He served in the parliament for nearly two decades, and though officially he was never very powerful, he was disproportionately influential, and many credit him with being personally responsible for changing the debate on divorce and abortion - and other issues - that led to far-reaching liberal changes. "A one-man party of irrepressible energy, who never gathered more than a handful of votes (3.4% in 1979 was the best result), he was never far from the limelight, galvanising his followers and attracting the odium of much of respectable Catholic society. Yet the tributes following his death temporarily united the entire Italian political spectrum, the anti-clericals as well as the pope, the right as well as the left, the pacifists as well as the 'liberal' interventionists - all joining in praising the exceptional life of a man who had done his best to annoy all of them, though never at the same time. Pannella's longevity was remarkable considering that he had endured several debilitating hunger strikes (the most recent, in 2011, in protest against prison conditions, lasted three months), had a quadruple heart bypass in 1998, and smoked almost continuously throughout his life."
* Mr. Ed's best friend Wilber, Alan Young dies at 96. His other genre credits include The Time Machine and numerous cartoon voices.
* Mr. Ed, first episode.
* Mister Ed's Christmas Story

These cops are tired of white people getting freaked out by their black neighbors: "So I'm working last week and get dispatched to a call of 'Suspicious Activity.' Ya'll wanna know what the suspicious activity was? Someone walking around in the dark with a flashlight and crow bar? Nope. Someone walking into a bank with a full face mask on? Nope. It was two black males who were jump starting a car at 930 in the morning. That was it. Nothing else. Someone called it in."

It's been disorienting over the last 15 years to realize that Barney Frank can no longer be deemed a progressive - sure, he's gay, but without him how could Dodd-Frank have been such weak tea? Oh, well, I'm sure the financial issue could have gotten some other "progressive" Democrat to co-sponsor it.

McJoan reviews Dday's Chain of Title: "Dayen knows you're going to be filled with impotent fury at the very unsatisfying ending, so he gives you a silver lining. 'Without the foreclosure fraud movement,' he writes, 'there is no Occupy Wall Street; there is no Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party; there is no student debt movement, or low-wage worker movement, or movement to transfer money to credit unions and community banks.' That's all true, but because this is the story of these three individuals who gave up so much of their lives in this fight, the real happy ending is that they overcame the shame and the isolation and the feeling of personal failure their foreclosures brought them. They overcame it not just personally, but for all the people who were cheated by their banks and lost everything. They created a community and gave regular people the power to fight back."

Geoff Beckman made a comment on Facebook I thought would have made a good blogpost, so since he doesn't have a blog, I made it into a blog post at the other weblog and called it, "Fight to lose, or fight to win."

Revealed: How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet: Writing a bad review online has always run a small risk of opening yourself up to a defamation claim. But few would expect to be told that they had to delete their review or face a lawsuit over another part of the law: copyright infringement. Yet that’s what happened to Annabelle Narey after she posted a negative review of a building firm on Mumsnet."

Good Housekeeping says, "Study Proves Spanking Hurts Your Kids' Mental Health [...] Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan used data on more than 150,000 children over a 50-year period to come up with a fairly damning conclusion: Spanking is linked to aggression, antisocial behavior, mental health problems, cognitive difficulties, low self-esteem, and a whole host of other negative outcomes. As for the upsides, there were absolutely zero - the practice revealed no redeeming effects but consistently strong links to 13 bad ones."

"Device used in Nazi coding machine found for sale on eBay: Rare Lorenz teleprinter, part of Hitler's encryption equipment, snapped up by National Museum of Computing."

Ars Technica: "William Gibson has written a comic called Archangel, and you should read it."

"When This Boat Crew Realized What They Were Seeing, It Was Almost Too Late To Escape." A rare event and a rarer sighting, with lots of pictures.

Darth by Darthwest stars one of my favorites.

Fellowship of the Nerds

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?

Sanders outperforms the polls in the West Virginia primary, which always had him ahead, but not as high as 51.4%-35.8%. Still, that state is not likely to go blue, although there hasn't been enough polling to have a clue.
* Jedediah Purdy, "What West Virginia is saying at the polls"

In Oregon and Kentucky, Sanders wins in the west 54.5%-45.5%, and Clinton narrowly takes KY 46.8%-46.3% (amidst many charges of fraud) after spending a lot of money there and continuing to tell that lie about how Sanders voted against the auto industry bailout. The only Oregon poll at RCP had Clinton at +15, so this is a happy result. Can't find any polls at all for KY.

But what really happened at the Nevada Democratic convention? There are claims of violence, threatened violence, and people complaining merely because they didn't get their way, but I've seen no evidence of the former and it sure looks like the woman chairing simply picked her favorite results for voice votes. Wild claims have been made about Sanders' supporters reacting with violence and throwing chairs, although there is no evidence of it. Sanders disavowed violence and then was accused of not disavowing violence. Even Van Jones is disgusted with the DNC's reaction: "I don't think that that was wise for her to do that. First of all, Bernie did say in his statement that he was against the violence. Also, if you want to talk about violence, only one person's been arrested; it was a Hillary Clinton supporter, Wendell Pierce, arrested for assaulting a Sanders supporter."
* Bernie Sanders' statement
* More details at Naked Capitalism.

So now it's time for that old dance about whether Hillary will deign to debate in California. From the San Francisco Chronicle, "Sanders steps up in California - will Clinton?"
* "Sanders pushes Clinton for debate in California: In a Wednesday afternoon statement, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the Vermont senator has accepted an invitation from Fox News to debate 'with the understanding that we can reach mutual agreement on the debate moderators, the format and other details.'"

The big arguments now are about just how narrow the path is for Sanders to win the nomination, whether he should, whether the superdelegates should vote for Sanders because current polling says he is most like to win the general or whether they should go with the candidate who has the most votes, whether Sanders can win once the Republicans find themselves faced with such a prospect. It still doesn't look like either candidate will reach the convention with the minimum number of required delegates, so it does seem like things will be contentious one way or the other. There's a lot of optimism in the Sanders camp about the rest of the west coast going the way of Washington, but I just don't see it: Hilary has been consistently ahead in California, where it looked for a while that the gap was narrowing but that trend reversed around the first of May. Clinton is way out ahead in New Jersey, too.
* National polling for the general election, though, seems to be all in favor of Sanders, and some would say that only Sanders would be a sure thing. But that presupposes that the GOP (and Democratic establishment) won't pull some rabbits out of their hats. Judging by some of the things I've seen from pro-Clinton Sanders-haters, that could be pretty creepy, because for Democrats, these people sound pretty right-wing - but they're Clintonites. It would be one thing if they were saying that he'd been too complimentary toward Castro in the past, but they aren't just saying these things might hurt him with Republicans, they are foaming at the mouth that he objected to US support for the Contras, which is a mighty strange thing for "progressives" to be angry at him for.
* "Dead heat: Trump, Clinton tied in 3 swing-state polls" - Sanders has been consistently beating Trump in all three states. This kind of thing keeps giving Seth Abramson dreams, but they rely on wins for Sanders in California and New Jersey, and I don't see that happening. He has some good points, though: "Clinton and the DNC Are Not Just Colluding - They're Changing the Rules for Superdelegates" - because it's still their job to get a Democrat elected, not just nominated.
* Meanwhile, the GOP is in the acceptance phase, and they're ready to rally around the candidate. Well, most of them.

Marcy Wheeler is probably the smartest analyst of foreign policy working today, and in her two most recent appearances on Virtually Speaking, she made some very important comments on the fantastical, expensive, and extremely dangerous foreign policy approach of Hillary Clinton. The first of these was a a couple of weeks ago with Jay Ackroyd, and the second was Virtually Speaking Sundays where they were joined by Avedon Carol (who accidentally said "Goldwater" when she meant "Rockerfeller" at the '68 GOP convention). Marcy noted that Clinton just gave the best reason to let Chelsea Manning out of jail - without knowing it.
* Jay also spoke to Lawrence R. Jacobs about Fed Power: How Finance Wins. The Fed is pretty murky to most people and most don't realize that we've essentially got an unelected body that has commandeered what were supposed to be the prerogatives of Congress - and they have no accountability and are under no control.

Wise words from Atrios on Incrementalism.

"Pollster Stan Greenberg Urges Democrats Not To Run For Obama's 'Third Term': Bill Clinton's former pollster thinks it's a mistake for Democratic presidential candidates to essentially run for President Barack Obama's 'third term.' 'That's not what the country wants. It's not what the base of the Democratic Party wants,' said longtime Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg, whose past clients include Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. 'The Democratic Party is waiting for a president who will articulate the scale of the problems we face and challenge them to address it.' Greenberg thinks it's time to go bigger."

"Court Backs Snowden, Strikes Secret Laws: In a major vindication for Edward Snowden -- and a blow for the national security policy pursued by Republicans and Democrats alike -- the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Thursday that the National Security Agency's metadata collection program is unlawful. This is the most serious blow to date for the legacy of the USA Patriot Act and the surveillance overreach that followed 9/11. The central question depended on the meaning of the word "relevant": Was the government's collection relevant to an investigation when it collects all the metadata for any phone call made to or from anywhere in the U.S.?"

Am I the only one who thinks Comey is having too much fun with this cat-and-mouse game? "FBI head challenges Clinton's description of email probe: The head of the FBI on Wednesday appeared to challenge Hillary Clinton's characterization of the federal investigation into her private email server. Clinton and her allies have repeatedly called the probe a routine 'security inquiry.' But Director James Comey told reporters that wasn't an accurate description. "It's in our name. I'm not familiar with the term 'security inquiry,' " Comey said at a roundtable with reporters, according to Politico. 'We're conducting an investigation ... That's what we do,' he said, according to Fox News. Comey reportedly declined to say whether or not the investigation is 'criminal' in nature."

"Is There A Better Poster Child For A Culture Of Corruption Than Debbie Wasserman Schultz?"

"Hillary Clinton to form "Republicans for Hillary" group to exploit furore over Donald Trump ."

Alex Pareen, "Don't Blow This [...] Democrats could, for example, take their famously thin-skinned opponent, who is easily provoked into absurd and unpresidential tantrums when his insecurities are mocked, and they could bestow upon him a nickname that instead serves to reinforce his own (imagined) toughness. They could call him, I don't know, 'Dangerous Donald.'" Personally, I thought they should have gone with "Dainty Donald" - both a reference to his hands and to that maiden-aunt performance when he apparently couldn't cope with the idea that Hillary Clinton went to the loo.

Read about Nicole Sandler's experience of running to be a Sanders delegate from Florida. It was not reassuring. But I think she comes to the wrong conclusion - they are perfectly happy to alienate anyone who doesn't support the status quo, and that's exactly why people need to stay in and fight them.

"Yes, Voters Really Are Angry and Anxious About the Unfairness of the Economy: There is a growing amount of contrarian analysis these days suggesting that Americans really aren't so angry about the economy after all, that what appears to be economic populism is really just a cover for racism, sexism or other cultural issues, and that ultimately the only thing the majority of voters really want is a stable technocrat who will keep the good times rolling while fixing some social issues. [...] To believe these things, of course, you would have to assume that voters aren't actually being inspired by the rhetoric and policy positions of Sanders and Trump but by other factors they're subtly tapping into. You would have to ignore most of the actual reasons given in interviews and focus groups by Sanders and Trump voters for why they support their candidates. You would have to ignore what they actually say in media comments sections and at various political forums. You would, in essence, have to ignore all the qualitative data in front of you showing what people say in their own words, in favor of polling data about their generic feelings about the economy or their own current personal economic situation."

David Dayen: "Donald Trump Is Right: Deficits Don't Matter [...] I'm almost certain that Donald Trump had no intention of stumbling into this philosophical debate, traditionally fought between the left and the far left. But his freewheeling style of political rhetoric often drops him into uncharted territory. In this case, Trump exposed an unsaid but prevalent conservative hypocrisy about deficits. As Cheney's quote about Reagan shows, Republicans habitually ignore deficits when they obtain power. It's a matter of convenience, a tempting way out of the fiscal responsibility trap that makes it difficult for politicians to keep their campaign promises. But every time a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama gets the keys to the Oval Office, Republicans flip the script, generating a sudden fear of mountains of debt. Congressman Paul Ryan has been claiming the U.S. is about to turn into Greece for eight years. A deficit hawk industry in Washington comes alive to tell the nation that we're broke. This creates practical constraints on liberal spending programs to help the poor and the elderly. Trump's comment that America can't default on its debt, and can money-print its way out of trouble, shreds that Republican playbook. Deficit fear-mongering loses its punch if the GOP's new leader dismisses an animating principle of how conservatives defend against social spending." I've been disappointed that Sanders has never brought this up, but he seems to prefer to stay within conventional frames, even though he has had Stephanie Kelton working with him. But I also found it interesting that this article appeared in The New Republic.

"New Democrats Still Partying Like It's 1999: The Mark Warner Edition [...] Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called on an audience of business and political elites earlier this week to respond to populist anger by lobbying harder for a deficit-reduction package that would reduce corporate tax rates and cut public retirement programs such as Social Security." Your DLC, still at work despite officially disbanding in 2011.

"Rather Than Campaign As Liberal Alternative To Trump, Clinton To Run As Smarter Republican [...] The strategy will not only allow Clinton to be her authentic political self again, but it will also end the charade of moving to the left to appease supporters of her opponent, Bernie Sanders. It would also diminish any confusion over whether Clinton is anything more than a corporate Democrat, who progressives should approach with great skepticism and opposition."

Democratic Convention Hosted by Republican Donors, Anti-Obamacare Lobbyists [..] The composition of the 15-member Host Committee may appear out of sync with the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, but the reality is that the party, in the form of the Democratic National Committee, has moved decisively to embrace the lobbying industry. In October 2015, DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., reportedly huddled with dozens of lobbyists to plan the convention in Philadelphia, and provided the influence peddlers involved with a menu of offerings in exchange for donations. In February, news reports revealed that the DNC had quietly lifted the Obama-era ban on federal lobbyist donations to the party and convention committee."

Meanwhile in Florida, it's pretty rich Harry Reid getting on a high horse about Alan Grayson's alleged ethics (that aren't being investigated because the ethics committee could find no There there) when his own Golden Boy in Florida, "ex"-Republican Patrick Murphy, stinks to high Heaven. For that matter, so does Reid.

"Ending Tax Break for Ultrawealthy May Not Take Act of Congress [..] In one deft move, Mr. Obama could instruct officials at his Treasury Department to close the so-called carried interest tax loophole that allows managers of private equity and hedge funds to pay a substantially lower federal tax rate on much of their income."

Change you can't believe: "The Obama Administration Just Granted Henry Kissinger a Distinguished Public Service Award." I guess he needs us to forgive famous war criminals so we might forgive him, too. Oh, and make Clinton look better, after she embraced Kissinger.

"Ala. gov. signs two antiabortion-rights bills; ACLU of Alabama pledges legal challenge."

"A master teacher went to court to challenge her low evaluation. What her win means for her profession."

"Lawsuit accuses Flint mayor of trying to redirect water crisis donors to campaign fund."

"Wall Street Money: Barney Frank To Oversee Democratic Platform While Running Big Bank."

"This isn't how a democracy should work: How the media boosted Donald Trump and screwed Bernie Sanders: Voters want change. Elites in D.C. and the media -- both liberal and conservative -- are actively obstructing it. [...] In his book Democracy, Inc., the late, distinguished political scientist Sheldon Wolin has argued that we have a 'managed democracy,' that elite 'management' of elections is the key to perpetuating the 'primal myth' that the people determine the rulers. As Wolin put it, this 'antidemocracy' doesn't attack the idea of government by the people, it encourages 'civic demobilization' - conditioning the electorate to be aroused for a brief spell, controlling its attention span, and then encouraging distraction or apathy."

"For 40 Years, Liberals Have Accepted Defeat and Called It 'Incremental Progress.' [...] For most of the Left, Clinton-style 'incrementalism' is just a code word to disguise what is effectively a right-wing retrenchment. Nevertheless many self-identified progressives have backed Clinton's 'theory of politics' as the most realistic path to achieve Sanders's objectives. [..] 'There are those timid souls who say this battle cannot be won; that we are condemned to a soulless wealth,' declared Lyndon Johnson in 1964. 'I do not agree. We have the power to shape the civilization that we want.' Compare that to our current Democratic front-runner, whose most impassioned moment on the 2016 campaign trail came when she denounced single-payer health care as an idea 'that will never, ever come to pass.'"

"Bernie Sanders's Legacy? The Left May No Longer Need the Rich."

"Uber and Lyft's big new lie: Their excuse for avoiding regulation is finally falling apart: Did Lyft just admit it's a taxi company after all? Ridesharing companies pretend to be tech firms. They're not."

"Pfizer Blocks the Use of Its Drugs in Executions." This is interesting for a number of reasons. Not only is it surprising that Pfizer did something good, but it suggests a sea-change in how Pfizer is looking at the United States as a market - not so much for the number of dollars involved (which isn't that great), but for the willingness to play ball.

"Larry Summers is wrong. Harvard should be spending much, much more of its money." You can never have too many reminders of what a failure Larry Summers is in his alleged areas of expertise.

"Goodbye Middle Class: 51 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than 30,000 Dollars A Year: We just got more evidence that the middle class in America is dying. According to brand new numbers that were just released by the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all workers in the United States make less than $30,000 a year. Let that number sink in for a moment. You can't support a middle class family in America today on just $2,500 a month - especially after taxes are taken out. And yet more than half of all workers in this country make less than that each month. In order to have a thriving middle class, you have got to have an economy that produces lots of middle class jobs, and that simply is not happening in America today."
* RJ Eskow, "What's Killing the American Middle Class?: A new study by the Pew Research Center spurred a rash of headlines last week about 'the dying middle class.' But the word 'dying' might be more appropriate if we were watching the regrettable but inevitable effects of natural forces at work. We're not. We're seeing the fruits of deliberate action - and sometimes of deliberate inaction - at the highest levels of power."

David Dayen: "The Bright, Techy Future of Banking Just Crashed: LendingClub's Crisis Confirms the Worst Fears About Fintech"

"9/11 commissioner leaks damning new info: Saudi government officials supported the hijackers: The 9/11 hijackers had support from Saudi government employees, said a former Republican official who investigated the attacks - and he wants the Obama administration to release evidence to prove it. John Lehman, an investment banker and Navy secretary in the Reagan administration, said his fellow 9/11 commission members had helped to obscure Saudi links to the 2001 terrorist attacks, reported The Guardian."

Department of misleading headlines: "CSU student sues college for sanctioning him for what he calls consensual sex: A Colorado State University-Pueblo student filed a federal lawsuit against the university and the U.S. Department of Education claiming sexual discrimination after he was sanctioned for a sexual act that he and his girlfriend insist was consensual sex." That phrase "and his girlfriend" makes all the difference there, doesn't it?

Dday's Chain of Title reviewed in The New York Times: "Exposing those lies becomes a moral crusade. The homeowners' stories are emotional roller coasters, which Dayen meticulously reports. He and his characters find the banks' behavior not just indefensible but criminal. Prepare to be surprised, and angry."

"Washington Post Squeezes Four Anti-Sanders Stories Out of One Tax Study Over Seven Hours" - and it's another "study" that pretends single-payer costs more than what we have now, rising like a zombie to campaign for Clinton in it's rotting corpse. "Why would so much ink be spilled on a candidate who, by the Post's estimation, can't possibly win? The objective is, of course, to further stigmatize Sanders' ideas and platform goals - all of which are deeply antithetical to the editorial and financial bottom line of the paper and its sole owner, Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is over $45 billion."

"The sorry facts which show the BBC has moved beyond bias, into pure propaganda"

RIP:
* "Michael Ratner, Lawyer Who Won Rights for Guantánamo Prisoners, Dies at 72 [...] As head of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner oversaw litigation that, in effect, voided New York City's wholesale stop-and-frisk policing tactic. The center also accused the federal government of complicity in the kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects and argued against the constitutionality of warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency, the waging of war in Iraq without the consent of Congress, the encouragement of right-wing rebels in Nicaragua and the torture at the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq war."
* William Schallert, 93, Dies; Prolific Actor Was Father on The Patty Duke Show and actors' union leader who appeared in nearly everything else, too. His list of sf genre credits alone is longer than most actors' entire careers, but he was in everything our whole lives. (Except, for some reason, M*A*S*H. I was honestly shocked not to see it on his IMDB page.)

"Burying the White Working Class: Liberal condescension towards white workers is code for a broader anti-working class agenda."

"Why Employers Love Advocating Self-Care"

"Misperceiving Bullshit as Profound Is Associated with Favorable Views of Cruz, Rubio, Trump and Conservatism

"Who edited Shakespeare?"

"Meet the Woman Who Invented Cosplay: Myrtle R. Douglas, otherwise known as Morojo, rarely gets the credit she deserves for the worldwide phenomenon. [...] For more than 10 years Morojo and Ackerman were an inseparable, intellectually compatible dream duo, and 1939 was an especially big year for the pair: they started their first major zine together, jointly financed the publication of teenage Ray Bradbury's first sci-fi zine, and attended the first-ever World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) wearing "futuristicostumes" straight out of the 1936 H.G. Wells movie Things to Come - the FIRST FAN COSTUMES EVER WORN IN RECORDED HISTORY."

An interview with Uncle Ted in The Falls Church News-Press, "F.C.'s Ted White Reflects on Comics, Sci-Fi and the Little City."

Wire sculpture art and perspective
* "Why do all old statues have such small penises?" (NSFW)

The lost Twilight Zone episode - starring Jack Benny.

David Gilmour Wish you were here live unplugged