Sunday, November 10, 2019

One golden glance of what should be

"Democratic Socialists Had a Pretty Good Election Night: Several of the victories were in purple states. [...] Some were historic victories. In Philadelphia, the DSA-backed independent candidate Kendra Brooks won her City Council seat by over 10,000 votes, flipping a slot held by Republicans for generations. The national organization even sent DSA members from New York down to Philly to help knock on doors for her. [...] DSA members not endorsed by the national committee also won city council seats in Medford and Lansing; in Virginia — where Democrats won a majority of seats in the state legislature and turned every branch of the state blue for the first time in 26 years — delegate Lee Carter, a DSA member, won reelection."

"BERN NOTICE: Trump Pal Matt Bevin's Attacks On Bernie Wildly Backfired: After portraying his reelection campaign as an explicit crusade against Bernie and the working-class agenda fueling Bernie's campaign, GOP Gov. Matt Bevin said he felt 'confident' he'd win by 6 to 10 points in the Republican-leaning state of Kentucky. Instead, by the end of election night, Bevin was down, and both Kentucky's Secretary of State and NBC News declared that Bevin lost the race. Whatever happens with the final results (Bevin has not conceded), the fact that Kentucky's election was even close is a fantastic sign for the 2020 election and Bernie's campaign. It shows that GOP attacks on Bernie and his agenda are likely to backfire — even in traditionally Republican states."

"Fracking halted in England in major government U-turn: Victory for green groups follows damning scientific study and criticism from spending watchdog.The government has halted fracking in England with immediate effect in a watershed moment for environmentalists and community activists. Ministers also warned shale gas companies it would not support future fracking projects, in a crushing blow to companies that had been hoping to capitalise on one of the new frontiers of growth in the fossil fuel industry. The decision draws a line under years of bitter opposition to the controversial extraction process in a major victory for green groups and local communities. The decision was taken after a new scientific study warned it was not possible to rule out 'unacceptable' consequences for those living near fracking sites. The report, undertaken by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), also warned it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes fracking might trigger."

"Brazil's former president Lula walks free from prison after supreme court ruling: Brazil's former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been released from prison after a supreme court ruling that delighted his supporters and infuriated followers of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. Lula, who was serving a 12-year corruption sentence, was greeted by hundreds of supporters wearing red vests emblazoned with his face outside the federal police headquarters in the city of Curitiba, where he had been imprisoned for 580 days. In a speech to the crowd, Lula thanked party militants who had camped outside throughout his imprisonment, and attacked the 'rotten side' of the police, prosecutors, tax office and justice system for jailing him." Shortly after his release, Lula was on Twitter thanking Bernie Sanders for his solidarity - and endorsing him for president.

Flabbergasting interview:The Enigma of Clarence Thomas w/ Corey Robin - MR Live - 11/4/19. Some people wonder where Clarence Thomas is coming from, but I gotta admit, I was not expecting that.

On CNN, "Cornel West: This is not the time for centrism: CNN's Anderson Cooper sat down with professor Cornel West to discuss Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and what it means to be a democratic socialist."

"Career-Long Conservative Joe Biden Attacks Progressives, Extols Imaginary Bipartisanship And Middle Way To Nowhere And Nothing [...] When Biden-- almost as big a liar as Trump-- wrote that "I have fought for the Democratic party my whole career" he was lying in the same manner he's been lying his whole life. [PolitiFact rates 15% of Trump's public statements 'true' or 'mostly true' and rates 37% of Biden's 'true' or 'mostly true,' better than Trump for sure-- but that still leave most of what he says a lie. Most Democratic politicians mostly tell the truth, not most lie.] In the past, Biden has admitted that when he was just getting started in politics he 'thought of myself as a Republican.' The Delaware Republican Party was talking with him about running as a Republican but he was hesitant because he didn't like Richard Nixon. Because of that antipathy for Nixon, he registered as an Independent. After he went to work for a local Democrat, Sid Balick, he switched his registration to Democrat and soon after began running for office, appealing to white resentment of black people.

"By trying to Silence Sanders, the Corporate Media De-Legitimize Themselves [...] In the absence of massive, grassroots movements, corporate voices always drown out all the others. Capitalist ownership of the media allows the rich to frame their own worldview as the political 'center,' thus relegating contending ideologies to the 'extremes' of left or right. In this sense, 'centrism' is nothing more than the political position of the corporate owners, who construct media versions of reality that make corporate-concocted policies seem the most logical, commonsensical and socially responsible approach to the world's problems. As long as the rich can sustain broad public trust in the 'truth' of their 'journalistic' products -- newspapers, electronic newscasts, books and other media created by professional operatives directly answerable to rich owners — widespread revolt against the corporate order is unlikely. "

"The Media Has a Right-Wing Bias. Politico's Founder Just Admitted It: How Republicans benefit from the media's centrist instincts. [...] It's hard to think of an analogy that does this justice. Phil Jackson admitting the triangle offense has lost its potency in the space-and-pace NBA? Paul Ryan turning on trickle-down economics? This is not exactly a mea culpa. Instead, it's a forthright description of the way that D.C. media works, all but acknowledging that liberal critics of mainstream news coverage have been right all along. Despite what the right might say, the problem with the news isn't a liberal bias—it's bias toward an arbitrary, made-up center that ends up tilting reality against liberal policies and politicians. [...] Here one of the nation's preeminent political journalists is admitting that he and other members of his class adhere to a rather cynical ideology—the ideology of finding the midway point between a normal party with normal policies and proposals and an intellectually bankrupt tribe of troglodytes that gets crazier and more morally repugnant by the day. The problem, in the view of Harris, is that pesky 'activists' (which is really just another word for 'voters') get in the way. Candidates like Warren and Bernie Sanders suffer in this environment because their ideas are out of step with the D.C. consensus. They are automatically categorized as 'extreme,' their ideas 'unworkable,' all because they reject the midway-point mode of governance, which only ends up favoring the actual extremists on the right."

Shickha Dalmia in The Week, "The real reason Kamala Harris is tanking [...] The real reason she's falling is that the more voters learn about Harris' decade-and-a-half record, first as a San Francisco prosecutor and then as the California attorney general, the more they recoil. And rightly so. Harris has long billed herself as a "progressive prosecutor." To most people, that would strike as oxymoronic. But to her this meant using the carceral state that conservatives like to tackle social problems that progressives care about. She's got the mindset of a cop who wants to save you not from the bad guys but yourself. "She repeatedly fought for more aggressive prosecution not just of violent criminals but of people who committed misdemeanor and 'quality of life' crimes," Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown noted after an exhaustive look at Harris' record."

"The Inflation Gap: A new analysis indicates that rising prices have been quietly taxing low-income families more heavily than rich ones. In an era of wild inequality, sputtering wages, and rising rents and health-care costs, the American working class has had one consistent financial respite: 'stuff,' broadly defined, is cheap. Sure, workers might not be able to afford a decent apartment, a college education, or sufficient elder care for an infirm relative, or to ever, ever get sick. But burgers, leggings, yard tools, bicycles, dishes, smartphones, soda—these items have become less expensive, thanks to big-box stores and internet retailers and imports from abroad. Or perhaps not. A new analysis from a prominent group of economic researchers suggests not only that rising prices have been quietly taxing low-income families more heavily than rich ones, but also that, after accounting for that trend, the American poverty rate is significantly higher than the official measures suggest. Call it 'inflation inequality,' a subtle, pernicious way that the fortunes of the rich and the poor have diverged. Using government data and scanner data from retail stores—the bar codes that get swiped at Target, the produce codes that get punched in at grocery stores—Xavier Jaravel of the London School of Economics found that from 2004 to 2015, the prices of the products purchased by the bottom income quintile increased faster than the prices of the products purchased by the top income quintile. As a result, low-income families experienced an annual rate of inflation conservatively estimated at 0.44 percentage points higher than that of high-income families."

"Manufacturing Fear and Loathing, Maximizing Corporate Profits! A Review of Matt Taibbi's Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another [...] For all that, however, the most salient difference between the news media of 1989 and the news media of 2019 is the disappearance of the single type of calm and decorous and slightly boring cis-het white anchorman (who somehow successfully appealed to a nationwide audience) and his replacement by a seemingly wide variety of demographically-engineered news personæ who all rage and scream combatively in each other's direction. 'In the old days,' Taibbi writes, 'the news was a mix of this toothless trivia and cheery dispatches from the frontlines of Pax Americana.... The news [was] once designed to be consumed by the whole house.... But once we started to be organized into demographic silos [italics mine], the networks found another way to seduce these audiences: they sold intramural conflict' (p. 18). And in this new media environment of constant conflict, how, Taibbi wondered, could public consent, which would seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum from conflict, still be manufactured?? 'That wasn't easy for me to see in my first decades in the business,' Taibbi writes. 'For a long time, I thought it was a flaw in the Chomsky/Herman model' (p. 19). But what Taibbi was at length able to understand, and what he is now able to describe for us with both wit and controlled outrage, is that our corporate media have devised — at least for the time being — highly-profitable marketing processes that manufacture fake dissent in order to smother real dissent (p. 21). And the smothering of real dissent is close enough to public consentto get the goddam job done: The Herman/Chomsky model is, after all these years, still valid. Or pretty much so. Taibbi is more historically precise. Because of the tweaking of the Herman/Chomsky propaganda model necessitated by the disappearance of the USSR in 1991 ('The Russians escaped while we weren't watching them, / As Russians do...,' Jackson Browne presciently prophesied on MTV way back in 1983), one might now want to speak of a Propaganda Model 2.0. For, as Taibbi notes, '...the biggest change to Chomsky's model is the discovery of a far superior 'common enemy' in modern media: each other. So long as we remain a bitterly-divided two-party state, we'll never want for TV villains' (pp. 207-208)."

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism notices something odd. "Paul Jay and Sharmini Peries Ousted from The Real News Network in June; Current Fundraiser Hides that Fact; Falling Viewership and Liberal Turn Result: It's remarkable, or perhaps a function of the aggressive use of non-disclosure agreements, that the June defenestration of Paul Jay and Sharmini Peries from The Real News Network, the site they had founded and run for over a decade, has been kept under wraps for so long." And now that I think of it, I haven't posted anything from TRRN since April, haven't seen anything interesting from there.

Luke Savage, "Neoliberalism? Never Heard of It: The latest liberal parlor game is pretending there's no such thing as neoliberalism. The game's very popularity highlights neoliberalism's enduring hegemony. For the first time in decades, it has become possible to envision real alternatives to the prevailing political and economic order of the past forty years. In both Europe and the Americas, the neoliberal consensus is facing a crisis of moral, intellectual, and popular legitimacy: proving unable to deliver either the growth or the broad prosperity its ideologues once promised and facing robust electoral challenges from both the socialist left and the nationalist right. Predictably enough, this turn of events has elicited a defensive response from neoliberalism's greatest partisans and those otherwise invested in its political and cultural hegemony."

"Measles wipes out immune system's memory, study finds: Scientists say threat posed by measles is 'much greater than we previously imagined' [...] Measles causes long-term damage to the immune system, leaving children who have had it vulnerable to other infections long after the initial illness has passed, research has revealed. Two studies of unvaccinated children in an Orthodox Protestant community in the Netherlands found that measles wipes out the immune system's memory of previous illnesses, returning it to a more baby-like state, and also leaves the body less equipped to fight off new infections. Measles eliminated between 11% and 73% of children's protective antibodies, the research found."

Still fun to watch: "Old Movie Stars Dance to Uptown Funk"

Queen, "It's a Kind of Magic"

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tell them Boris sent you

If you were thinking you couldn't figure out the news from the British Parliament merely because you are American and therefore the British system is just too alien to you, no, it's not that. No one here knows what's going on, either. Conversations almost daily go something like this: "Did you hear Boris did X?" "Yeah, but what's it mean?" "Nobody knows."

"Trump administration official resigns, calls for massive student debt forgiveness: A senior government official appointed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned Thursday, saying the current student loan system is 'fundamentally broken' and calling for billions of dollars in debt to be forgiven. A. Wayne Johnson was hired as the chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, which manages the country's $1.6 trillion outstanding student loan portfolio. He later worked in a strategic role, directing how student loans are serviced for borrowers." He says he's going to run for the Senate as a Republican on a platform of eliminating student debt, using a tax increase to pay for it. As Dan Riffle tweeted, "The thing about overton window politics is you don't just move your own party. The leading edge moves left, and the trailing edge moves left with it."

John Nichols in The Nation, "Bernie Sanders Is As Frustrated as Ever With Corporate Media: The senator explains to The Nation why he is raising concerns not just about the presidential debates but about the media's narrow coverage of national crises. [...] Critiquing media coverage of debates and campaigns, issues and ideas is nothing new for Sanders. He has been calling out 'the corporate media' in much the same language that he now employs for decades. When Robert W. McChesney and I were writing about media and democracy issues in the mid-1990s, Sanders, who was then serving in the House of Representatives, and Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone were among the rare members of Congress who recognized that the conglomeration of media ownership—and the influence of this consolidated media on our politics—could not be ignored. [...] 'Even more important than much of the corporate media's dislike of our campaign is the fact that much of the coverage in this country portrays politics as entertainment, and largely ignores the major crises facing our communities,' wrote Sanders. 'In fact, what I have learned from experience is that, as a general rule of thumb, the more important the issue is to large numbers of working people, the less interesting it is to the corporate media. Sadly, for the corporate media, the real issues facing the American people—poverty, the decline of the middle class, income and wealth inequality, trade, health care, climate change, education etc.—are fairly irrelevant.'"

New campaign ad: "Bernie's Burlington: The Spark That Spread Around the Country"

"Harris Loses Ground in California to Front-Runners Warren and Sanders: Less than five months before Californians vote in the 2020 presidential primary, a new Change Research poll for KQED shows U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris losing ground to the front-runners, Sens. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts and Vermont's Bernie Sanders. The poll, taken after last week's Democratic candidate debate, finds Warren is the top choice of 28% of primary voters, followed by Sanders at 24% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 19%. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is fourth with 9% followed by Harris at 8%."

"Bernie Sanders Vows To Revive Criminal Prosecutions Of CEOs For Unfair Trade Practices: BERNIE SANDERS, IF he were elected president, would revive the criminal provisions of the Sherman Antitrust Act to prosecute CEOs who have illegally monopolized a market, he told The Intercept in an interview. The Sherman Act is the Department of Justice's main tool for enforcing antitrust laws, which are meant to prevent monopolies from dominating an industry, which harms workers, consumers, and other businesses. It has both civil and criminal provisions, though in recent years, prosecutors have relied only on its civil provisions, with the intent of breaking up monopolies and opening markets. Asked if the criminal provisions, which could see a CEO locked up for 10 years if intent to engage in unfair restrictions on trade can be proven, Sanders said, 'Damn right they should be.'"

On Democracy NOW!, "Noam Chomsky: Bernie Sanders is Not a Radical, He Has Mass Support for Positions on Healthcare & Taxes: During an event Tuesday night, Noam Chomsky was asked about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and said he considered him more of a 'New Deal Democrat' than a radical extremist, as some have portrayed him. Chomsky said Sanders' positions on taxes and healthcare are supported by a majority of the American public, and have been for a long time. He added that Sanders has 'mobilized a large number of young people who are saying, 'Look, we're not going to consent anymore.' If that turns into a continuing, organized, mobilized force, that could change the country—maybe not for this election, but in the longer term.'"

"The Real Obama: What the president does in retirement will reveal his true self.. [...] During his two terms in office, Barack Obama's most zealous devotees tended to explain away apparent failures or complacencies by referring to the constraints high office places on anyone who ascends to it. Even some critics on the left may have suspected that the deeds of Obama's administration were out of sync with his natural instincts, that Obama was a man of high conscience weighed down or blunted by Washington's leviathan bureaucracy, or frustrated by the exigencies of an unstable world. Obama's retirement should therefore finally give us meaningful insight into who he really is or, to put it another way, who he has been all along. The albatross of office finally lifted from his neck, America's 44th president is now free to do anything and everything he desires without impediment. He can be the person he has always wanted to be, the person whom he has had to keep hidden away. Who, then, is the real Obama? Well, it turns out the real Obama is quite like the one we knew already. And what he most wants to do is nestle himself cozily within the bosom of the global elite, and earn millions from behind a thinly-veiled philanthropic facade."

"Two Leading Economists Say Medicare for All Would Give Workers 'Biggest Take-Home Pay Raise in a Generation': Medicare for All would give most U.S. workers 'the biggest take-home pay raise in a generation,' two economists from the University of California, Berkeley said Friday, countering one of the main insurance industry talking points against single-payer."

RIP: Former Rep. John Conyers dies at 90: Former Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the longest-serving African American House member in congressional history, died Sunday at age 90. Conyers, a veteran of the Korean War and participant in the Civil Rights movement, was co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and chaired the House Oversight Committee from 1989 to 1995. He also introduced the bill establishing a national holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. He was also the first African American to serve as Dean of the House, or longest continually-serving current member. Conyers was a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation into President Richard Nixon, and was on Nixon's 'enemies list.' During his tenure, he also regularly introduced bills to establish a single-payer health care system and to conduct a study on reparations for the descendants of slaves."

Great interviews on The Majority Report:
Student Debt Cancellation & the Progressive Agenda w/ Marshall Steinbaum - MR Live - 10/1/19
The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy w/ Robert Kuttner - MR Live - 9/23/19
Goliath: The 100 Year War b/w Monopoly Power & Democracy w/ Matthew Stoller - MR live - 10/28/19
Make America Radical Again w/ Harvey J. Kaye - MR Live - 10/29/19

"J.S. Bach the Rebel: The subversive practice of a canonical composer." This guy was a troublemaker and possibly a great big slut.

And now a word from Jason Mraz, "Look For The Good."
(And here's the song.)

Bobby "Boris" Pickett, live on American Bandstand, "The Monster Mash"

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Let me tell you 'bout the headline news

There was another debate. Sanders definitely won it, despite what the talking heads said. They actually praised the shameful performances of Buttigieg and Klobuchar, of all people. Biden trying to claim credit for helping Warren get the CPFB and Warren's failure to thank him graciously for it were described as "petty" on her part rather than shameless credit-hogging on his. Ryan Cooper was not impressed with "Pete Buttigieg's disingenuous attack on Medicare-for-all: In the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night, once again Medicare-for-all was a major focus of discussion. Once again, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren defended the plan against all comers — most especially Pete Buttigieg, who had a number of slick arguments about how universal Medicare would be a disaster. There's just one problem: None of Mayor Pete's arguments are true. [...] Those savings would necessarily be less in more fragmented systems which would preserve private insurance — like the one proposed by Pete Buttigieg. In other words, Mayor Pete's plan would be more expensive than Medicare-for-all. He would "pay for that" by keeping more of the cost burden on the shoulders of individual Americans."

And speaking of Buttigieg's strange position on M4A, it's interesting how his position seems to have radically changed since February.

Bernie's Back Rally with AOC in New York. I liked the part where Michael Moore points out that it's a good idea to have someone who is old enough to remembers what things were like before the neoliberals ate them.

I've always said that Democratic operatives and politicians know how to read the polls and they've known for 50 years that some policies are popular (Social Security, universal health care, living wages higher taxes on the rich), but the neoliberals were against those things so they just didn't mention them like the previous generations of Democrats did. Rahm Emanuel knew he was backing unpopular policies, which is why he opposed Obama using the "bully pulpit" to defend and promote them. But Stephie was the White House spokesperson for a Democratic White House and he didn't know? And he thinks he is insulated because he lives in Manhattan? Oh, honey, your cocoon is much smaller than that.

"Voting machines pose a greater threat to our elections than foreign agents [...] In follow-up testimony, Halderman offered some chilling details: 'While we were in control of these systems, we observed other attack attempts originating from computers in Iran and China. These attackers were attempting to guess the same master password that we did. And since it was only four letters long, they would likely have soon succeeded.' Security experts have long warned that short passwords provide easy targets, but hackers at DEF CON, an annual security convention, recently found U.S. election systems with no passwords at all. How did the security bar get set so low?"

"US Supreme Court overturns ruling in Michigan gerrymandering case: What it means: WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday officially overturned a ruling which had called for nearly three dozen congressional and legislative districts in Michigan to be redrawn because they unfairly helped one political party."

"Utility Expert Claims PG&E Blackouts Are ‘All About Threatening the Judge' in Bankruptcy Case: California utility company Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) is blackmailing the judge overseeing their bankruptcy case by instituting widespread blackouts across California, a utility regulation and power industry company expert claims. 'The PG&E Blackout Con is all about threatening the judge in the PG&E bankruptcy case,' Greg Palast said in a press release. 'The victims have joined with the bondholders to eliminate the equity of the stockholders who deserve nothing. So in desperation, the power company [is] turning off your lights. Hopefully, the judge will not be intimidated.' Palast previously worked for energy regulators in 26 states and eight countries and also authored a United Nations guide on utility regulation and investigator of power companies."

"Private Equity Chases Ambulances: Investment firms have bought up emergency medical service companies, squeezing soaring profits from vulnerable patients. On July 2, 2018, a Boston woman fell into the gap between a subway car and the platform. Passengers rocked the train back and forth, eventually extricating her. Her leg was cut down to the bone. Still, she begged her rescuers not to call an ambulance. 'Do you know how much an ambulance costs?' she sobbed. Because there was no choice but to call an ambulance, though, one eventually arrived. Ambulance services used to be covered by local taxpayers, volunteers, or nonprofit hospitals, part of a suite of services akin to firefighting, which many people took for granted. This remained the status quo for emergency medical services for decades. Then, following the 2008 recession, private equity firms began to buy up ambulance companies. Quality has declined, and prices have shot up. Within ten years, from the recession to the Boston woman falling on the platform, the transformation of ambulance services from community service to luxury good was complete. Under the new paradigm of private equity, poorly maintained ambulance services siphon profit from vulnerable patients."

"How Private Equity Makes You Sicker: Investment firms have created consolidated hospital empires across America, leading to closures, higher prices, and suffering. [...] Hahnemann, a 171-year-old institution in Center City Philadelphia that serves primarily low-income patients of color, closed on September 6 in one of the more egregious cases of private equity wealth extraction. In 2018, Paladin Healthcare, an entity owned by private equity baron Joel Freedman, bought Hahnemann as part of a small hospital portfolio. He made no improvements for 18 months, and then closed the facility with the intention of selling the real estate, which is set in a 'gateway location' for gentrification. 'This seems to have been [Freedman's] plan all along, to buy this place, let it fail, and shut it down.' McHugh said. Local politicians in Philadelphia and even presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke out, savaging Freedman as an avatar of greed. But the condemnations did nothing to stop the closure. Freedman's lucrative scheme could become a trend, where private equity firms find hospitals in urban areas attractive to developers and strip the assets."

"Documents Reveal Hospital Industry Is Leading Fight Against Medicare For All: INVESTOR-OWNED HOSPITALS are leading the fight against the creation of a comprehensive, universal health care system, according to corporate filings reviewed by MapLight and The Intercept. Tenet Healthcare, the nation's third-largest investor-owned operator of hospitals, has donated nearly $630,000 to the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, or PAHCF, a dark-money organization created last year to erode public support for Medicare for All, a government-run plan that would provide health care for all Americans."

"Inside TurboTax's 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free: Using lobbying, the revolving door and 'dark pattern' customer tricks, Intuit fended off the government's attempts to make tax filing free and easy, and created its multi-billion-dollar franchise." [...] But the success of TurboTax rests on a shaky foundation, one that could collapse overnight if the U.S. government did what most wealthy countries did long ago and made tax filing simple and free for most citizens. For more than 20 years, Intuit has waged a sophisticated, sometimes covert war to prevent the government from doing just that, according to internal company and IRS documents and interviews with insiders. The company unleashed a battalion of lobbyists and hired top officials from the agency that regulates it. From the beginning, Intuit recognized that its success depended on two parallel missions: stoking innovation in Silicon Valley while stifling it in Washington. Indeed, employees ruefully joke that the company's motto should actually be 'compromise without integrity.' [...] This year, Intuit was close to realizing a long-held goal: enshrining the Free File program in law, effectively closing the door on the IRS ever creating a free tax filing system. But an outcry followed ProPublica's reporting on the matter and Intuit's treatment of its customers, prompting the provision to be dropped and state and federal investigations into Intuit's practices. Yet even after this setback, the company remained steadfastly confident that its clout in Washington would win the day."

"Zuckerberg: No One Deserves to Be a Billionaire, But It's Useful: Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, the fifth-richest person in the world, was asked by an employee to respond to an assertion by U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that billionaires shouldn't exist. Zuckerberg conceded that they probably shouldn't. 'No one deserves that much money,' Zuckerberg said. 'I think if you do something that's good, you get rewarded, but I do think some of the wealth that can be accumulated is unreasonable.'"

Doctors say people are better after a stent to clear arterial blockage, so news that Bernie had to get one was startling not so much because he'd had a medical incident but because there'd been no sign that he was even slowing down. He already races around the country like a Lamboughini so, what now? Will he still need a plane to get from one city to another, or can he run there? Of course, the media was full of alarm at "proof" that Sanders was in dire health and also of course that the Sanders camp had not used exactly the alarmist language they wanted to use so this was evidence of Sanders' "lack of transparency". (Still no word on why Biden's eye was bleeding and he seemed confused during the last debate, though.) Meanwhile, says The Onion, "Weak, Exhausted Nancy Pelosi Given Saline Drip Following Hours-Long Attempt To Stand Firm In Convictions: WASHINGTON—Collapsing from the extreme exertion required to announce an impeachment inquiry into the president, a weak and exhausted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was reportedly given a saline drip Tuesday night following an hours-long stretch during which she stood firm in her convictions. 'She's obviously not used to following her conscience like this, or acting in accordance with any clear set of principles, so the experience has left her completely drained,' said Pelosi's communication director, Ashley Etienne, confirming that medical personnel administered fluids to the speaker after she went an entire news cycle without ever capitulating, an amount of strain that can be life-threatening for a 17-term lawmaker."

"The ‘Public Option' on Health Care Is a Poison Pill: Some Democratic candidates are pushing it as a free-choice version of Medicare for All. That's good rhetoric but bad policy. [...] That's comforting rhetoric. But the case for a public option rests on faulty economic logic and naive assumptions about how private insurance actually works. Private insurers have proved endlessly creative at gaming the system to avoid fair competition, and they have used their immense lobbying clout to undermine regulators' efforts to rein in their abuses. That's enabled them to siphon hundreds of billions of dollars out of the health care system each year for their own profits and overhead costs while forcing doctors and hospitals to waste billions more on billing-related paperwork."

As you may recall, Wendell Potter was an insurance exec who had an epiphany and has spent the rest of his life essentially blowing the whistle on the insurance industry. Instructive interview with Michael Winship in Common Dreams, "Healthcare Reformer Wendell Potter: The For-Profit 'System Is Unraveling': A business group comes out swinging on behalf of Medicare for All. [...] One of the things that I can remember so vividly toward the end of my career was attending a leadership meeting with our then CEO at Cigna, and someone asked him what kept him up at night. He used a word that you don't use everyday -- disintermediation. It's a word that means essentially disrupting or getting rid of the middleman, the unnecessary middleman. He went on to say that he feared that at some point Americans, and in particular American employers, would begin to question 'the value proposition,' to use business jargon, of the private insurance industry."

"Documents Reveal Hospital Industry Is Leading Fight Against Medicare For All: INVESTOR-OWNED HOSPITALS are leading the fight against the creation of a comprehensive, universal health care system, according to corporate filings reviewed by MapLight and The Intercept. Tenet Healthcare, the nation's third-largest investor-owned operator of hospitals, has donated nearly $630,000 to the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, or PAHCF, a dark-money organization created last year to erode public support for Medicare for All, a government-run plan that would provide health care for all Americans."

"Massachusetts Unions Vote To Vet Presidential Candidates On Medicare For All, Breaking With Labor's Top Brass: MEMBERS OF THE Massachusetts AFL-CIO recently passed a unanimous resolution to endorse a presidential candidate only if that candidate supports Medicare for All, marking a break from the labor federation's national leadership, which has equivocated on the question of whether to support universal health care. The resolution, which was passed at a late September convention in Massachusetts attended by delegates from AFL-CIO constituent unions across the country, comes after months of comments from labor leaders criticizing Medicare for All, despite support for the measure among their members. In August and September, Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (an AFL-CIO member union), said publicly that they do not currently support a single-payer plan would ban private insurance, despite assurances from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who authored the Medicare for All plan, that a single-payer option would not sacrifice hard-won benefits for union members. 'The Massachusetts AFL-CIO urges the national AFL-CIO to endorse a presidential candidate with a demonstrated commitment to the pro-worker agenda that this body has previously endorsed, including but not limited to a $15-dollar federal minimum wage, ending Right to Work nationwide, and a Medicare for All system that recognizes health care as a human right,' reads the resolution, which was put forward by Beth Kontos, the president of the American Federation of Teachers in Massachusetts."

Interviewed in Teen Vogue, "Bernie Sanders Shares His Plan for a Working-Class Revolution." This interviewer is too good for most newspapers, and never mind television news.

"Cancelling Student Debt Reduces The Racial Wealth Gap: Debt cancellation must be on any progressive agenda and we should be suspicious of anyone who calls it 'regressive'.Since Elizabeth Warren proposed sweeping student debt cancellation in April, and Bernie Sanders put forth his own more extensive plan in June, members of the D.C. establishment have invented all sorts of reasons why cancelling student debt is privileged, actually. '[It's] a big gift to a select group of people' opined Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute. Jason Delisle of the American Enterprise Institute said Elizabeth Warren's plan suffers from a 'fairness problem' because it 'favors one class of students over those who never took out student loans.' And last fall, New York Times op-ed columnist David Leonhardt asserted that most student debtors are 'doing just fine.' Student debt cancellation, however, is progressive, not regressive; rather than favoring one elite class of people over another, it would in fact benefit the poorest. Lower-wealth households are likelier to have student debt, and even more so if they're Black. As such, student debt cancellation would also help close racial wealth gaps." Yes, there really are people out there who imagine that rich kids are the have all the student debt.

Marshall Steinbaum, "Is Student Debt Cancellation Regressive? No. [...] The idea that student debt causes borrowers to earn more, by increasing their educational attainment and therefore their earnings, is baked into the idea that cancellation of student debt would be a regressive policy— people with the most debt need the least help, but they'd get the most money from forgiveness." Right, because everybody who goes to college automatically gets a high-paying job.

"Warren Runs False Facebook Ads to Highlight Problem: The ad's own admission of a lie seeks to draw attention to a controversial Facebook policy Warren has spent days criticizing. Under the policy, Facebook exempts ads by politicians from third-party fact-checking — a loophole, Warren says, that allows Zuckerberg to continue taking ‘gobs of money' from Trump's campaign despite Trump's ads telling untruths Joe Biden and his son."

"How the Bush Foundation wasted $45 million and 10 years on an ill-conceived assault on teachers: The foundation famously promised 50% more students in post-secondary education in three states, erasure of so-called 'achievement gaps,' and a fancy new evaluation tool. Ten years later there are actually fewer students in college, 'achievement gaps' are the same or worse, and its hyped $2 million VAM evaluation tool is up in flames - but the foundation is undaunted — proud of its failure" Of course, it wasn't such a failure, since it was an attack on education and teachers' unions. If there's two things right-wing aristos really hate, it's an educated populace and unions.

"AT&T Workers Fight For Their Lives As Company Faces Investor Revolt: Union workers say an investor plan to save the company will only make the problem worse. [...] 'Elliott's proposal represents the archetype ploy of vulture capitalists: boost earnings through headcount reductions, outsourcing, and reduced investment to benefit Elliott Management,' one letter warns. 'The cost-cutting measures that Elliott recommends, such as closing wireless retail stores and increasing outsourcing, would accelerate the loss of family-supporting jobs and the shift to using low-wage and potentially overseas contractors.' Analysts from Morgan Stanley also questioned Elliot's move, however, wondering whether the sale of 'non-core businesses' would help or hurt AT&T's future cash flow. There is also the question of whether Elliot is making these suggestions because it owns AT&T debt and would stand to profit from its own suggestions—Elliot Management, after all, had an Argentine training vessel seized to force the government to clear a debt with the firm."

"After Avoiding Safety Upgrades, PG&E Hired Lobbyists And Public Relations Instead: POWER SHUTOFFS AFFECTING more than 1 million residents, scheduled by PG&E this week throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, have sparked a massive backlash, with many community members telling reporters that they are shocked that the company has not done more to upgrade its transmission lines. The decision to shut off the electricity services, a precaution over concerns about high winds, raises the question of precisely how PG&E has been spending its rate-payers' money. And the answer isn't pretty: While neglecting safety upgrades and investments in its aging infrastructure, PG&E has instead been lavishly rewarding shareholders and buying political influence."

"PG&E is a Crime Wave, Not a Power Company: Blackout is Blackmail: The PG&E Blackout Con is all about threatening the judge in the PG&E bankruptcy case. The victims have joined with the bondholders to eliminate the equity of the stockholders who deserve nothing. So in desperation, the power company pigs are turning off your lights. Hopefully, the judge will not be intimidated. Leaving hospitals, schools and 1 million homes without power — and that means without water — in California is the endgame of deregulation mania. Jerry Brown, Bill Clinton and other deregulation snake-oil salesmen, and the PG&E greedster bosses, should be imprisoned for the people already burned to death. Where is the California utility commission?"

"Dear Ellen: The Problem With George W. Bush Is Not His Beliefs—It's His War Crimes: Bush may owe Ellen six bucks for nachos. He owes the rest of us a prison sentence at The Hague. [...] Yet Ellen's specific argument in defense of her friendship with the former president is both nonsensical and offensive. No one is suggesting that she shouldn't be pals with a conservative or a Republican. Bush's beliefs are irrelevant here; his actions are what matters. He was one of the most destructive presidents in modern American history; a man who has never been held to account for a long litany of crimes, misdeeds, and abuses of power committed during his two bloodstained terms in office. The reason '43' should be treated as a pariah is not because he is a Republican or a conservative, but because he caused the deaths of thousands of innocent people and tortured hundreds of others."

"Nobody Should Be Friends With George W. Bush: Tens of thousands of people are dead because his administration lied to the American public about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and then, based on that lie, launched a war that's now in its 16th year. After Hurricane Katrina struck and hundreds of people drowned in New Orleans, Bush twiddled his thumbs for days. Rather than fire the officials responsible for the government's life-threateningly lackluster response to the crisis, he praised them, before flying over the scene in Air Force One. He opposed basic human rights for LGBT people, and reproductive rights for women, and did more to empower the American Christian right than any president since Reagan. [...] DeGeneres isn't a role model for civility. Her friendship with Bush simply embodies the grossest form of class solidarity. From a lofty enough vantage point, perhaps Bush's misdeeds really look like minor partisan differences. Perhaps Iraq seems very far away, and so do the poor of New Orleans, when the stage of your show is the closest you get to anyone without power."

"How Democrats Became the Party of Monopoly and Corruption: This wasn't an accident.: [...] Ambitious men now wanted to change the world through finance. Bruce Wasserstein had been a "Nader's Raider" consumer advocate; he now worked at First Boston as one of the most successful mergers and acquisitions bankers of the 1980s. Michael Lewis wrote his best-seller Liar's Poker as a warning of what unfettered greed in finance meant, but instead of learning the lesson, students deluged him with letters asking if he "had any other secrets to share about Wall Street." To them, the book was a "how-to manual." [...] Meanwhile, the family farmer had lots of people who said they were friends at election time—even the glamorous music industry put on a giant "Farm Aid" concert in 1985 to raise money for bankrupt growers. But there was no populist leader like Congressman Wright Patman had been during the New Deal in the Democratic Party anymore. On the contrary, "new" Democrats like Dale Bumpers and Bill Clinton of Arkansas worked to rid their state of the usury caps meant to protect the "plain people" from the banker and financier. And the main contender for the Democratic nomination in 1988, the handsome Gary Hart, with his flowing—and carefully blow-dried—chestnut brown hair, spoke a lot about "sunrise" industries like semiconductors and high-tech, but had little in his vision incorporating the family farm." As we know, Al From and Bill Clinton cooked us.

"Anti-Sex Work Feminists Try to 'Rescue' Strippers With 'Revenge Porn Tactics': Nine strip club performers in the United Kingdom are fighting to stop the publication of an undercover video shot by Not Buying It, a self-described 'feminist' anti-sex work organization. The performers argue that the footage, shot by hired private detectives with the aim of capturing business-ending violations at Spearmint Rhino clubs in London, 'could infringe their human right to respect for private life,' reports the Guardian. Already, this seems to be proving true: Just this week, the dancers lost an appeal for anonymity. A judge ruled that, against the performers' wishes, their names will be revealed in court records. These women were not only non-consensually filmed while doing their jobs, in footage that may soon circulate widely, but will also be outed as sex workers on judicial record. All this because a feminist organization is ostensibly concerned, as the Guardian puts it, 'about the exploitation of women.' Guess it's OK when self-described feminists are the ones doing the exploiting—and for political ends."

Sydney Morning Herald, "Nestle says slavery reporting requirements could cost customers: One of the world's largest food and drink companies has warned proposed legislation requiring big business to report on their efforts to combat modern slavery could hit consumers' hip pockets. Companies operating in Australia with an annual turnover of $100 million or more would be required to annually report on the risks of modern slavery within their business and the actions they've taken to address those risks under the federal government's draft Modern Slavery Bill 2018."

"Banksy launches homewares shop in dispute over trademark" Artist opens Gross Domestic Product for sale of ‘impractical and offensive' merchandise. In the run-up to a potentially record-breaking auction of his work at Sotheby's, to be held on Thursday, the street artist Banksy said he had been forced into taking the unusual step of opening his own homewares store following a legal dispute with a greetings card company. Gross Domestic Product mysteriously opened in Croydon on Tuesday on the site of a former carpet shop. It will trade for the next two weeks — though will never open its doors, with all sales being made online. Banksy said the motivation behind the venture was 'possibly the least poetic reason to ever make some art' — a trademark dispute."

"Fearful of Lula's Exoneration, His Once-Fanatical Prosecutors Request His Release From Prison. But Lula Refuses. Lula's accusers are desperately trying to get him out of prison, while he insists on staying there until he's fully exonerated. THE SAME BRAZILIAN PROSECUTORS who for years exhibited a single-minded fixation on jailing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva are now seeking his release from prison, requesting that a court allow him to serve the remainder of his 11-year sentence for corruption at home. But Lula — who believes the request is motivated by fear that prosecutorial and judicial improprieties in his case, which were revealed by The Intercept, will lead to the nullification of his conviction — is opposing these efforts, insisting that he will not leave prison until he receives full exoneration."

"Pennsylvania Attorney General'S Staff Pushed Philadelphia Inquirer To Be More Critical Of Larry Krasner: Emails: OFFICIALS WORKING ON behalf of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro pitched the Philadelphia Inquirer to be more critical of local District Attorney Larry Krasner, according to emails revealed through an open records request. Several stories published by the Inquirer after Shapiro's office reached out to the paper, drawing on some of the same arguments that Shapiro's office had made to the paper, were heavily criticized by criminal justice experts after its publication for painting a misleading picture. The emails shed light on an ongoing power struggle between two of the area's top law enforcement officials, pitting the more moderate Shapiro against Krasner, a leading figure in the movement to roll back mass incarceration by taking power at the district attorney level. On June 18, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Krasner's office had actually increased the number of gun cases approved for prosecution despite criticism that his approach to criminal justice reform was too lenient. The coverage appeared to rankle officials at Shapiro's office, who swapped emails criticizing the story and indicating that they subsequently facilitated an off-record phone call with the paper, in which they suggested that future coverage should show that Krasner's policies were actually linked to increased crime, shootings, and homicides in the city."

"Ten Recent Democratic Primary Polls Good for Bernie Sanders Ignored by the Conventional Wisdom." This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, because many voters will support the candidate they perceive as most likely to beat the Republican, so the more the media talks Sanders' electoral potential down, the less likely such voters are to give him their support.

Norman Solomon, "MoveOn's Phony New Campaign for ‘Protecting Whistleblowers': All of a sudden, MoveOn wants to help 'national security' whistleblowers. Well, some of them, anyway. After many years of carefully refusing to launch a single campaign in support of brave whistleblowers who faced vicious prosecution during the Obama administration — including Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden, and CIA whistleblowers John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling — MoveOn.org has just cherrypicked a whistleblowing hero it can support." I forget who said it, but it was suggested that the real tragedy for Manning and Snowden was that they blew the whistle during a Democratic administration.

Robert Kuttner, "The Coming Primary Challenges to Corporate Democrats: Is the threat to senior House incumbents a risky distraction or a long overdue exercise of grassroots progressive power—or both? Representative Richard Neal, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is the poster child for everything that's wrong about corporate Democrats. His newly announced primary challenger in Massachusetts's First Congressional District, Alex Morse, epitomizes the grassroots dynamism that is making over the party. Beyond this primary contest is a much larger story involving the unsavory role of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the creative disruption of a growing wave of challengers to other corporate Democratic incumbents."

"Fighting The Dog Whistle, Sam Seder interviews Ian Haney Lopez about how to break through the use of racism as a weapon against all of us.

"The rise of the entitled millennial politician [...] Unlike Mayor Pete, Kennedy's politics are not terrible, but his only real argument for taking Markey's seat is "my name is Kennedy." Indeed his attempted pole-vault could easily turn out to be a tactical blunder. It looks increasingly likely that Elizabeth Warren (the other Massachusetts senator) will be on the 2020 Democratic ticket in some fashion, in which case she will probably resign her seat before November so the special election to replace her can take place alongside the presidential one (so the Republican governor Massachusetts "liberals" are inexplicably fond of installing won't get to pick a replacement). In that case Kennedy would be all but guaranteed to walk into the open seat, and he wouldn't have to stomp on a loyal progressive in the process." Not that Kennedy's politics are any good, but at least they're not quite as odious as Mayo Pete's.

Ryan Grim talked to Bernie and AOC, and they talked about lots of stuff, but the headline is, "Sanders: I Wouldn't Make Obama's Mistake Of Shutting Down Grassroots Pressure On Washington: AFTER WINNING THE election in 2008, Barack Obama, before being sworn in as president, effectively shuttered the unprecedented grassroots army his campaign had mobilized. The decision, which took his 10 million-plus donors and volunteers off the political battlefield, is regularly cited today as having hampered his first-term agenda. Bernie Sanders, when asked on Saturday afternoon whether he would make a different decision if he were to win the presidency in 2020, said, 'Yes, I absolutely would.' Sanders, along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., sat down for an interview with The Intercept ahead of his rally in Queens, New York — his first since having a heart attack in Las Vegas earlier this month — and spoke in granular detail about what political revolution means to him. While he was eager to expound on the ability of an organized, working-class movement to overpower structural obstacles, he stopped short of endorsing new congressional primary challengers. However, he did say that he plans to become more involved in such challenges in the near future. "

QUIT: "Why Shep Smith finally walked out of Fox News for good: New York (CNN Buiness)Last month Shep Smith decided that he had simply had enough. With President Trump actively distorting the truth and many of his own colleagues helping him do it, the Fox News star prided himself on anchoring a newscast that countered the network's pro-Trump opinion shows. he way Smith saw it, he was making sure that accurate information was getting on Fox's air. 'I wonder,' he told a Time magazine reporter last year, 'if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place in this place that is most watched, most listened, most viewed, most trusted? I don't know.' But he had had enough. In September, according to a well-placed source, he went to Fox News management and asked to be let out of his long-term contract. Tensions with the opinion shows were the breaking point. Executives at the network leaned on him to stay, but to no avail. On Friday afternoon he announced his departure on the air, then exited the building immediately, clearly emotional about saying goodbye to his television home of twenty years.".

RIP: "Ginger Baker: Legendary Cream drummer dies aged 80:" There's nothing I can add to accolades for Cream and its members, but the truth is, most of us thought Ginger Baker could not possibly last this long.

RIP: "Fiery blues guitarist Beverly Watkins dies at 80: Beverly Watkins, a rare woman among blues guitarists, who cleaned homes when music did not pay her enough and did not record her first solo album until she was 60, died Oct. 1 in Atlanta. She was 80. Her son, Stanley Watkins, said the cause was a heart attack that had been preceded by a stroke. Ms. Watkins called her music lowdown, stomping blues and complemented it with crowd-pleasing antics into her 70s — playing her electric guitar on her back and behind her head, sliding across the stage. When she sang, it was often with a growl. 'She'd been doing all that since the late 1950s, but she wasn't a star because she'd been a sideman most of her career, playing with bands that didn't have hits,' Brett J. Bonner, editor of Living Blues magazine, said by phone. 'She was a fabulous guitar player.'" Here she is performing last year.

RIP: "Rep. Elijah Cummings, powerful Democratic chairman and Trump target, dies at 68: The Maryland congressman's death was due to complications from longstanding health challenges, his office said in a statement. Cummings had represented Maryland's 7th Congressional District for 23 years before ascending in January to his perch atop the Oversight panel, from which he oversaw several investigations into the administration. Along with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), he was one of three committee leaders guiding House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

REST IN PUZZLEMENT: Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies At 75." My opinion of this woman was cemented in stone the day she said in front of God and everyone that "we" had no idea what the protesters were protesting about as if it were their fault and not a failure of a media that did not seem interested in asking, let alone reporting, on what they were actually on about. "If only," I thought, "there were some kind of job where you would go out and ask people what they were doing and tell the public. You could even have them come on TV and talk about it. I wonder what that would be called."

Orf makes videos that would make great ads:
Bernie Sanders Gets Stuff Done | 5 Amazing Victories
Rising Up | Bernie 2020

Krystal Ball is getting to be the smartest thing in what on most days has been establishment media. "Why the establishment smears people as Russian plants"

"Federal Job Guarantee: History, Research, Proposals, Commentary: Conversations about the nation's budget should be about spending priorities and the resources necessary to accomplish them: the people, materials and time. And those conversations should include the benefits of those spending priorities to the well-being of we, the People."

Jim Hightower, "Why we must ignore the cries of doom from corporate boardrooms — and start fixing our unequal country: When Jesse Jackson ran a strong populist campaign for president in 1988, advocating bold new policies and programs to address inequality, establishment skeptics scoffed, 'Where ya gonna get the money?' Jackson answered directly: 'Get it from where it went.' He meant from corporations and the rich, which had been rigging the economic system and government policies to shift income and wealth from the workaday majority to themselves. Thirty years later, that shift has become an avalanche, with income and wealth inequality reaching the plutocratic excesses of the Gilded Age. Just three men — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — now own more of the nation's wealth than the 165 million Americans who make up the bottom half of our population."

Hadas Thier, "Why the Differences Between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Matter: Denying that there are differences between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and that those differences matter, is absurd. One candidate has a suite of progressive policy proposals; the other has stronger versions of those policies plus a commitment to building a movement to win them. [...] It should be clear from reading Jacobin's coverage of Elizabeth Warren that she is not a corporate shill, nor an enemy of working people. She's an actual progressive Democrat, proposing real reforms. But she is a progressive Democrat at a time when the bar has been raised (finally, thankfully) beyond progressivism."

Former NC Rep. Brad Miller, "The 40-Year War: William Barr's long struggle against congressional oversight 'I have Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,' Donald Trump said in a recent speech to a far-right-wing campus organization. Trump is not a constitutional scholar, and he would not care at all about 'constitutional architecture' were he not president. So where did this sweeping claim to executive power come from? Trump's claims are largely motivated by self-interest, as all of Trump's motivations begin with "self,' rather than any doctrinal belief. Congressional investigations may expose his venality and perhaps criminality, so Trump will fight them tooth and nail. But for Trump's attorney general, William Barr, and others on the right, the effort to take power for the president from the courts and especially from Congress has been a 40-year project. Barr and his comrades may find statements like 'I have Article II' crass and narcissistic, but in their view Trump is generally correct. Executive power maximalists argue that the 'original intent' of the framers of the Constitution was to create a strong president with concentrated power and a largely advisory Congress." I can remember back in the days of George W. Bush's occupancy of the White House, we sometimes used to refer to his administration as "the Regency". That wasn't far off the mark from the way Bush talked, There seem to be a number of Republicans who think that's fine. Sam Seder interviewed Brad about this on The Majority Report.

"Joe Biden Is Right About The New York Times [...] 'In recent years the times has become a leading perpetrator of one of the most corrosive trends in modern journalism—'savvy' reporting that prizes the identification of disingenuous political tactics at the expense of focusing on the facts that voters need to know. This unfortunate tendency was visible in the days the scandal that has led Trump to the brink of impeachment broke, as the Times rehashed this hateful and disproven conspiracy theory as though it hadn't been put to bed. Two of our staff members, when discussing the Trump news with a pair of Times reporters, were stopped as they tried to outline how disproven the smear Trump wanted to pressure Ukraine into fomenting was, being told that this piece wasn't about the facts of what happened and instead had to do with trying to forecast how it might play in the Democratic primary.'"

"Why Barack Obama was particularly unsuited to live up to the ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize: In the primaries, Obama pledged to filibuster any bill that promised amnesty to the telecommunications companies for warrantless data collection on the American public. He repeatedly promised to close Guantanamo. He called it a stain on the honor of the United States. I think more largely, he was seen as the anti-war candidate. He was going to withdraw the United States from these overextended, violent commitments abroad. And, of course, he also promised to be the one who would help solve the financial collapse and its effects in a way that was not going to favor the big banks, the large money interests. On all of those commitments, to one degree or another, he reneged. He never closed Guantanamo. The numbers of prisoners were decreased. But there are still scores of them, who have no prospect of release, and they're now talking about creating an old age unit, so people captured at the age of 30 will die in Guantanamo."

"I ran a business. I know a CEO doesn't need to make 1,000 times more than his workers.: I've been an entrepreneur about as long as any American still alive. I started my fishing tackle business in 1937, as a high school sophomore. A few decades later, in a 1964 White House ceremony, President Lyndon Johnson named me the first Small Businessman of the Year. At the ripe old age of 98, I've now been around long enough to watch the American business landscape evolve over the grand sweep of time — and I haven't liked that evolution. Top executives today can pocket more for a morning's labor than their employees earn in an entire year. Last year, the Institute for Policy Studies reports, 50 major U.S. corporations paid their chief executives more than 1,000 times what they paid their typical workers. I never paid myself more than four or five times what my employees were making. I lived like my friends in my hometown of Spirit Lake, Iowa. I drove an older car, served as a scoutmaster and resided in a modest home. I had a good life. The younger me would have found today's corporate world — where share prices mean everything and workers and communities mean just about nothing — unimaginable. "

"'A Feminism Aimed at Liberating All Women Must Be Anti-Capitalist': An Interview With Nancy Fraser: Women workers, people of color, and white men in the Rust Belt may not see each other as natural allies. But as Nancy Fraser tells Jacobin, there is a path to uniting the social majority — so long as we recognize our common enemy in capitalism."

Further to the question of where private property comes from, Terri Windling in 2015 on, "Enclosure of the Commons: the borders that keep us out: Historically, the Commons straddles the border between private space and unmanaged wilderness."

A neat little .gif: "Land doesn't vote; people do."

"Two Mathematicians Just Solved a Decades-Old Math Riddle — and Possibly the Meaning of Life." You'll never guess what the answer is.

"The Roman Empire's Roads In Transit Map Form. They all lead to the same place.

The King's Man Official Trailer 2

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins, "Red Mama Blues"

Oh, man, I really let this one get away from me.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Everybody's desperate, trying to make ends meet

David Dayen, "Great News: Wall Street Democrats Might Leave the Party: My fervent hope for many years could be coming true. [...] This is fantastic news. Anything that accelerates the split in the decades-long marriage between the alleged party of the people and Big Money should be celebrated. The transformation in policy that would ensue if Wall Street Democrats walk away from the party, freeing it from self-censorship and bad ideas, far outstrips whatever money they might raise for Democratic candidates."

Ryan Grim, "Why The House Democratic Caucus Was Able To Move So Rapidly Toward Impeachment"

It's only an occasional ray of sunshine, but every once in a while even a major network has a decent piece about Sanders. "Emotional town halls become centerpiece of Bernie Sanders' campaign: 'I'm a doctor, I've got a prescription and it's Medicare for All,' said one medical debt town hall attendee. 'We're leaving here today with another prescription in our pocket. That prescription is you, senator. Eighteen months from now, it's "Mr. President".'"

"Orrin Hatch: Joe Biden told me he 'didn't believe' Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas hearings: Former Vice President Joe Biden's handling of Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas is under new scrutiny, as a former Senate colleague and fellow Judiciary Committee member contradicted Biden's repeated recollections of his feelings at the time of those contentious hearings."

A Michael Brooks interview about good prospects in the upcoming Canadian election. Trudeau might just get kicked out for someone better.

The last presidential candidate to go to the all-female HBCU Bennett College was Shirley Chisholm. So it was a big deal when Bernie Sanders came with some friends to Greensboro.

David Dayen spent a lot of the last decade or so pointing out that presidents have enormous power and can do a lot to fix the system and help people. When a president doesn't do that, you have to conclude that they don't want to. But if they do, well, they can do a lot. "The Day One Agenda: Laws already on the books give a president great discretionary power for constructive change—without abusing executive authority." It's worth listening to Sam Seder's interview with David Dayen about this, and the reminder of why excusers who sneered at "the Green Lantern theory" were wrong.

Common Dreams, "MSNBC Pundit Who Accused Those Who Prefer Sanders to Warren of 'Sexism' Sparks Viral Outcry From #WomenforBernie: 'Not here to be vote shamed by the 1%. I am supporting the only candidate who will always put the needs of people first.' [...] Collectively, the argument from most Sanders supporters appears not be that they dislike Warren or her policies, but that they have come to believe that Sanders—largely based on his concept of political power and his lifelong commitment to a host of issues and values—is a truly unique and superior candidate overall." Embedded in the article is Katie Halper and Matt Taibbi's Useful Idiots podcast with guest Nathan Robinson, talking about Warren and Sanders, that's worth a listen.

RIP: Cherie Matrix-Holt, 1 April 1963-19 September 2019. longtime member of Feminists Against Censorship and member of the FAC publishing group, for which she edited Tales From the Clit: A Female Experience of Pornography, from metastatic small cell lung cancer. She was vibrant and inspiring and meant a lot to us all. She was my friend and I loved her. She complained of back pain and went to the doctor for relief, which lead to the discovery that cancer had been eating its way through her for a long time, and her death a few weeks later. I'm still reeling in shock.

RIP: Diplomat Joseph Wilson, who challenged lead-up to Iraq war, dies at 69: Diplomat Joseph Wilson, whose disagreements with the George W. Bush administration led to his then-wife Valerie Plame being outed as a CIA agent, died Friday, according to The New York Times."

Black Agenda Report, "Believe Absolutely Nothing the US Government and Media Say About...Anything [...] There was a time, not so long ago, when most Black Americans of all classes were highly skeptical of every word that emanated from the mouths of white folks in power in the United States. A substantial body of Black opinion believed nothing at all that appeared in the corporate media — which, back then, we simply called the 'white press.' It was a wise and healthy skepticism, learned over generations of enduring a constant stream of lies and slander against Black people from politicians and mass media of the two governing parties. These organs and mouthpieces of rich white people's power were no more to be trusted, as Malcolm X counseled, than 'foxes' (Democrats) and 'wolves' (Republicans). The logic of the collective Black domestic experience extended to international affairs, as well. We empathized with the 'colored' peoples of the world under attack by the U.S. government and media. If white politicians and press lied about us, we knew they were probably lying about their foreign non-white victims, as well. And we were right." So how did that change?

"Edward Snowden: Joe Biden Threatened Countries Not To Give Me Asylum: Edward Snowden revealed then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Secretary of State John Kerry pressured countries that protect whistleblowers and asylum seekers to deny him entrance. In an interview with MSNBC's Brian Williams, Snowden said he applied for asylum to countries such as allies France and Germany but every time it got pulled."

"The Prospect Of An Elizabeth Warren Nomination Should Be Very Worrying [...] I understand that, if Sanders is the leftmost U.S. senator, and Warren the second leftmost, it seems nitpicky and fringe to disparage Warren. In fact, I've tried to refrain from criticizing Warren too much, because I think the difference between having either her or Sanders as the nominee and having someone else as the nominee is substantial, and if Sanders isn't it then by God it had better be Warren. Yet I think it is necessary for Sanders supporters to fight hard to make sure he is the nominee. Settling for Warren should be a last resort. "

Bernie Sanders has been promoting a wealth tax since at least 1972, so it was unsurprising — if also largely unheralded — when he tried to introduce one in 2014. Elizabeth Warren has recently introduced one, so it was even less surprising when Sanders refurbished the idea himself. My personal proposal is for a 200% tax on anything over $100 million, so I'm always happy when I see something like Luke Savage's "Abolish the Billionaire Class: Billionaires are the grotesque products of an exploitative, immoral economic system. We should get rid of them. [...] To state what should be obvious, these two facts are not unrelated. Vast concentrations of wealth in the hands of the few is both how and why there is so much poverty and insecurity among working and middle-class Americans, despite there being so much wealth overall. Thanks to their cumulative labor — in factories, schools, hospitals, care homes, restaurants, and throughout the economy — an immense amount of wealth is produced in a society like the United States, but much of it is expropriated by billionaires in the form of rents and capital income. No one earns a billion dollars, but hierarchical economic structures and a skewed political system ensure some nevertheless acquire it because of the property they own. A billion dollars, let alone the over $100 billion amassed by Jeff Bezos, is not a reward proportionate to someone's social contribution. It's institutionalized theft, plain and simple."

Also Luke Savage, "Liberalism in Theory and Practice: Contemporary liberals are temperamentally conservative — and what they want to conserve is a morally bankrupt political order. [...] No, that instinct owes much more to watching Barack Obama summon forth a tidal wave of popular goodwill, then proceed to invite the same old cadre of apparatchiks and financiers back into the White House to carry on business as usual despite the most punishing economic crisis since the Great Depression; to seeing the 'war on terror' become a permanent fixture of the global landscape long after its original architects had been booted from the halls of power, courtesy of supposedly enlightened humanitarians; to witnessing a potentially monumental hunger for change be sacrificed on the altar of managerialism and technocratic respectability. It comes from watching a smiling Nick Clegg stand next to David Cameron in the Rose Garden at Number 10 Downing Street before rubber-stamping a series of lacerating cuts to Britain's welfare state and betraying a generation of students in the process; to seeing the dexterity by which Canada's liberals gesture to the left then govern from the right; and from seeing the radical demands of global anti-austerity movements endlessly whittled down and regurgitated as neoliberal slam poetry to be recited at Davos by the hip young innovators du jour."

"Someone Should Do Something: After seeing the events of the past few days, in the light of the events of the days before those, in relation to the events that took place in the weeks, months, and years before that, I am strongly considering writing something that would address the question of whether Nancy Pelosi is bad at her job. If I did, I would argue that the House of Representatives, under Pelosi's leadership, has come to function as a necessary complement to the corruption and incompetence of President Donald Trump—that a lawless presidency can only achieve its fullest, ripest degree of lawlessness with the aid of a feckless opposition party, which the Democrats are eager to provide. My editor thinks that I should write this article. I understand that in a week when one of the president's most dedicated flunkies went before Congress to openly sneer at the idea that he should answer questions, making a show of obstructing what was supposed to be an investigation into obstruction of justice—a week now ending with reports, confirmed by the president's jabbering ghoul of a lawyer on television, that the president tried to force a foreign country to act against the Democrats' leading presidential candidate—there is good reason to feel that something needs to be written. It is certainly the sort of situation that someone could write about: the opposition party sitting on its hands and issuing vague statements of dismay while the entire constitutional order is revealed to be no match for the willingness of a president and his enablers to break the law.

"A strange Twitter glitch is censoring the left — and no one knows if it's a bug or a feature: Twitter is mum about a well-documented "bug" that seems to prevent verified accounts from getting ratioed." I keep another browser open that isn't logged into Twitter so I can read things that are blocked, and sure enough, I can read the WFP thread just fine there, but not in the browser where I'm logged in.

The WFP Thing: The Working Families Party's members voted to endorse Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly in 2016. Strangely, they altered their counting methodology this time and weighted leadership's votes (56) as 50% of the vote, and membership's votes (about 10,000 people) at 50% of the vote, and Warren won. And, also unusually, they have refused to release the vote tallies. Naturally, there have been a lot of complaints online, and naturally, there is a lot of the usual push-back about how it's all just a bunch of white BernieBros saying racist things. "White Terrorism", in fact! So far the examples given are of an Amerind calling them "Uncle Tom" and a black guy calling them "slave". Going deeper, Katie Halper interviewed Susan Kang, who "talks about quitting the Working Families Party over its endorsement of Elizabeth Warren over Bernie Sanders and its lack of transparency. Instead of paying WFP dues, she'll give her money to the Sanders campaign. Plus the differences between Sanders and Warren and the cynical accusation that criticism of WFP's endorsement is an attack on people of color."

"'Exactly What I've Hoped For': 100+ Education Leaders Voice Support for Sanders K-12 Plan: 'No president or presidential candidate has offered a proposal so bold and sweeping.' [...] Unveiled in May, the Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education calls for 'a transformative investment in our children, our teachers, and our schools, and a fundamental re-thinking of the unjust and inequitable funding of our public education system.'"

"Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Are Breeding in Brazil, Despite Biotech Firm's Assurances to the Contrary: An experimental trial to reduce the number of mosquitoes in a Brazilian town by releasing genetically modified mosquitoes has not gone as planned. Traces of the mutated insects have been detected in the natural population of mosquitoes, which was never supposed to happen. The deliberate release of 450,000 transgenic mosquitoes in Jacobina, Brazil has resulted in the unintended genetic contamination of the local population of mosquitoes, according to new research published last week in Scientific Reports. Going into the experimental trial, the British biotech company running the project, Oxitec, assured the public that this wouldn't happen. Consequently, the incident is raising concerns about the safety of this and similar experiments and our apparent inability to accurately predict the outcomes."

"Documents: Police Used Buttigieg Donors to Get Him to Fire Black Chief: Legal documents related to Pete Buttigieg's ousting of South Bend's first black police chief describe a plan by white police officers in 2011 to use Buttigieg's campaign donors to get him to remove the chief, Darryl Boykins, once Buttigieg became mayor. 'It is going to be a fun time when all white people are in charge,' one officer is quoted as saying in the documents, which describe secret police recordings. The previously undisclosed documents shed new light on the most controversial chapter of Buttigieg's South Bend political career. The documents describe a plan to use two Buttigieg donors — including his campaign chairman — to lobby Buttigieg on personnel changes at the South Bend Police Department (SBPD). Both donors deny having such discussions with Buttigieg."

"Surveillance Nation: How DEA Agents Search and Seize Property from Amtrak Passengers: As you listen to the panicked fear that the U.S. government will turn authoritarian under Trump, consider the following story about the DEA and drug surveillance on the Amtrak Southwest Chief, the long train between Chicago and Los Angeles."

Stephanie Kelton: The Public Purse

Anti-BernieBros

"Elizabeth Warren Is Thirty Years Too Late: Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are political throwbacks. But whereas Warren wants to fix the policies that went astray in the Clinton era, Sanders wants to change the economic foundations of American life. [...] On the campaign trail, 'I believe in markets' has become a kind of mantra for Warren. 'I am a capitalist to my bones,' as she put it more explicitly last year. Her 2004 book even boasted that 'We haven't suggested a complete overhaul of the tax structure, and we haven't demanded that businesses cease and desist from ever closing another plant or firing another worker. Nor have we suggested that the United States should build a quasi-socialist safety net to rival the European model.' (At the time, a whopping 45.8 million Americans were without health insurance, a number roughly equivalent to the entire population of Spain.) And it's not clear her thinking has changed all that much since."

"The Untold Story: Joe Biden Pushed Ronald Reagan To Ramp Up Incarceration — Not The Other Way Around [...] The politics of race relations have been a central part of Biden's career, from his high-profile opposition to busing to his authoring of the 1994 Biden Crime Bill. When he talks about his criminal justice record on the campaign trail, he argues today that the focus on the '94 bill is unfair, because the real rise in mass incarceration happened at the state level and was long underway by then. Biden is correct that the surge began in the 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s, but a closer look at his role reveals that it was Biden who was among the principal and earliest movers of the policy agenda that would become the war on drugs and mass incarceration, and he did so in the face of initial reluctance from none other than President Ronald Reagan. Indeed, Reagan even vetoed a signature piece of Biden legislation, which he drafted with arch segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, to create a federal 'drug czar.'"

Matt Taibbi in 2005, "Inside the Horror Show That Is Congress [...] To understand the breadth of Bush's summer sweep, you had to watch the hand-fighting at close range. You had to watch opposition gambits die slow deaths in afternoon committee hearings, listen as members fell on their swords in exchange for favors and be there to see hordes of lobbyists rush in to reverse key votes at the last minute. All of these things I did — with the help of a tour guide. 'Nobody knows how this place is run,' says Rep. Bernie Sanders. 'If they did, they'd go nuts.'"

David Klion in The New Republic, "The Conscience of Bret Stephens: How one columnist's wild family history explains an increasingly isolated school of conservatism." I had no idea that Leon Trotsky once had an affair with Frida Kahlo. The things you learn....

Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne - Mohammed's Radio - Live 1976 (HD)