Sunday, March 17, 2019

I don't know where but she sends me there

The Bernie Sanders rally in Brooklyn was notable for many things, but Nina Turner's speech was the best playlist I've seen in years and had me raising my hands at my desk. Wow, love that woman! Shaun King did a nice job of filling out Bernie's background, too. (MSNBC lied about Bernie's speech, of course, in that "Oh, he didn't talk enough about racism and sexism" way we've come to expect from establishment partisans.)

Freshman Congresswoman Katie Porter gets Equifax CEO to admit that releasing private data causes harm. Not only does this embarrass him, but it can now be used by litigants in the case against Equifax.

I haven't seen anyone much talking about it, but this is a big deal. Charlie Pierce, "The Supreme Court Just Stopped Local Sheriffs From Carjacking to Pay the Bills. And it was a unanimous ruling. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court unanimously decided the case of Timbs v. Indiana. The decision was an auspicious one, and it was auspicious for two reasons. The first was that the decision was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg so, yes, she's back, sports fans. The second is that it was a harpoon sunk deeply into the scam that is the civil forfeiture procedure."

Scott Lemieux, "Police abused civil forfeiture laws for so long that the Supreme Court stepped in. But one ruling won't end it. Arbitrary state actions are exactly what the courts should be checking, and the Timbs decision provides a way to challenge many such abuses. [...] On Tuesday, in its unanimous ruling in Timbs v. Indiana, the court for the first time held that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on 'excessive fines' also applies to state and local governments. And, even more importantly, the court rejected Indiana's argument that, even if the excessive fines clause applies to the state, it does not apply to the civil forfeiture of the assets of criminals (or suspected criminals.) In her relatively brief opinion for the Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rejected the conclusion of the Indiana Supreme Court that the civil forfeiture was lawful. Ginsburg — speaking for eight of the court's nine members — held that, like the vast majority of the Bill of Rights, the excessive fines clause is a fundamental right that applies to the states under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. And, since the court had already held in a 1993 federal case that civil forfeitures that are even partly punitive are governed by the excessive fines clause, applying the clause to the states made the case easy."

"W.V. teachers' rapid strike victory shows why progressives must join fight against privatization: West Virginia's most recent statewide teacher walkout came and went so quickly there was too little time and attention to comprehend and appreciate the impact the teachers' actions will likely have long-term on changing the narrative of the teacher movement and how politically progressive advocates and candidates relate to it. In the very first day of the strike, teachers squelched new state legislation they objected to and then held out an additional day to ensure it would die. The day after schools reopened, the teachers got what they wanted — a 'clean' bill increasing teacher pay five percent.But, unlike their largely successful labor action from last year, this time the teachers weren't making pocketbook issues the focal points of their demands. Instead, it was all about stopping school privatization through charter schools and a new voucher program. The point of the strike was to oppose a Senate bill that included bringing charters and a voucher program to the state even though the measure included the pay raise teachers wanted. Teachers accompanied their protests in the capitol building with chants of 'Hey-hey, ho-ho, charter schools have got to go.'"

Jeez, Lee Camp covers a lot of stuff, much of which I didn't see highlighted anywhere else. This week's 1-minute rundown has things no one on else on social media even mentioned. Also, Venezuelans have food and toothpaste, thanks.

TMBS - 79 - Venezuela, Haiti, and the New Imperialism ft. France Francois

"Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez chew out House Dems who vote with the GOP in tense closed-door meeting: report: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tore into fellow Democrats for voting with the GOP on procedural votes during an emotional closed-door session Thursday. Politico reported that Pelosi warned moderate members of the caucus that they could lose financial support from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee if they kept voting with the opposite side of the aisle." And AOC said she'll be watching their votes and making sure voters knew what they did.

Ryan Grim, "The Special Interests Behind Rep. Pramila Jayapal's Medicare For All Bill Are Not The Usual Suspects: THE MEDICARE FOR ALL legislation unveiled Wednesday by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, was written with the help of a broad swath of lobbyists and special interest groups, if perhaps not the kind associated with typical health policy legislation on Capitol Hill. The key outside groups involved in the drafting included nurses, doctors, disability rights activists, and advocates for the elderly, as well as public interest organizations such as Public Citizen and the Center for Popular Democracy. The result is legislation that, within one year of its passage, would provide improved Medicare coverage for everyone 19 and under, as well as everyone 55 and over. Within two years, it would cover everyone between the ages of 19 and 55, as well." (Later: The Sanders/Jayapal proposal just got more inclusive.)

"Michael Hudson: The Shape of the Venezuelan Economy, from Chavez to Maduro and Beyond: Venezuela was an oil monoculture. Its export revenue was spent largely on importing food and other necessities that it could have produced at home. Its trade was largely with the United States. So despite its oil wealth, it ran up foreign debt. From the outset, U.S. oil companies have feared that Venezuela might someday use its oil revenues to benefit its overall population instead of letting the U.S. oil industry and its local comprador aristocracy siphon off its wealth. So the oil industry — backed by U.S. diplomacy — held Venezuela hostage in two ways. First of all, oil refineries were not built in Venezuela, but in Trinidad and in the southern U.S. Gulf Coast states. This enabled U.S. oil companies — or the U.S. Government — to leave Venezuela without a means of 'going it alone' and pursuing an independent policy with its oil, as it needed to have this oil refined. It doesn't help to have oil reserves if you are unable to get this oil refined so as to be usable. Second, Venezuela's central bankers were persuaded to pledge their oil reserves and all assets of the state oil sector (including Citgo) as collateral for its foreign debt. This meant that if Venezuela defaulted (or was forced into default by U.S. banks refusing to make timely payment on its foreign debt), bondholders and U.S. oil majors would be in a legal position to take possession of Venezuelan oil assets. These pro-U.S. policies made Venezuela a typically polarized Latin American oligarchy. Despite being nominally rich in oil revenue, its wealth was concentrated in the hands of a pro-U.S. oligarchy that let its domestic development be steered by the World Bank and IMF. The indigenous population, especially its rural racial minority as well as the urban underclass, was excluded from sharing in the country's oil wealth. The oligarchy's arrogant refusal to share the wealth, or even to make Venezuela self-sufficient in essentials, made the election of Hugo Chavez a natural outcome."

"Billionaire dies during Paris penis enlargement operation: Billionaire diamond trader Ehud Arye Laniad's pursuit of a plentiful penis has ended in his death. The 65-year-old big wheel died of a heart attack at a private Paris hospital where he was undergoing a penis enlargement procedure."

Michael Brooks started his show Tuesday with clips of Joe Biden making a series of claims about criminals that were not true but sure helped him get that horrible crime bill passed.

"No Joe! Joe Biden's disastrous legislative legacy" — Joe liked to reach across the aisle to Strom Thurmond, among others, and tie his name to other horrible GOP ideas. "Despite pleas from the ­NAACP and the ­ACLU, the 1990s brought no relief from Biden's crime crusade. He vied with the first Bush Administration to introduce ever more draconian laws, including one proposing to expand the number of offenses for which the death penalty would be permitted to fifty-one. Bill Clinton quickly became a reliable ally upon his 1992 election, and Biden encouraged him to 'maintain crime as a Democratic initiative' with suitably tough legislation. The ensuing 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, passed with enthusiastic administration pressure, would consign millions of black Americans to a life behind bars."

Reparations have entered the 2020 presidential race. It's a serious question that no one has really come up with a solid answer for. I don't just mean the candidates, most of whom have never supported it at all, but the pro-reparations activists who've struggled with it for decades. Briahna Gray says, "Bernie Sanders Asks the Right Question on Reparations: What Does It Mean?" Ryan Cooper says, "Democrats aren't serious about reparations." To me, Sanders' policies are reparations for everyone who's been screwed by the aristocrats, and build new structures that will help women and minorities — and most everyone else — and make much more sense to talk about. When most people are hanging on by their fingertips, it's bad politics to spend much time talking about programs that only help black people. And besides, Sanders' policies are right in line with the NAACP's.

"ACLU sues Texas schools, AG over Israel boycott law: The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Ken Paxton, two universities and two school districts Tuesday, claiming a 2017 state law that requires contractors to sign a pledge against boycotting Israel violates the Constitution by forcing workers to choose between their livelihoods and beliefs." Also, "Want a Contract with A&M? Be Ready to Sign a Pro-Israel Loyalty Oath."

David Dayen in The New Republic, "Ilhan Omar's Victory for Political Sanity: The freshman congresswoman was right: The pro-Israel lobby uses financial muscle to influence Congress. That shouldn't be a controversial statement. Would House Democrats censure one of their own for daring to suggest that the deep-pocketed fossil fuel lobby buys influence in Congress? What about a member who said the same about Big Pharma? And yet, Democratic leaders on Wednesday were on the cusp of implicitly rebuking U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar for criticizing the pro-Israel lobby's power. 'I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,' she said a recent event. This was destined to be another example of the impossibility in Washington of deviating from unflinching support of Israel's policies. But then something remarkable happened. The Democrats' resolution against anti-Semitism was tabled after an outcry from members who felt Omar, a Muslim woman of color, was being singled out and that the party should condemn the full spectrum of religious bigotry, including the Islamophobia practiced by President Trump. A powerful lobby tried to suppress criticism of its work, and rank-and-file Democrats spoke their minds."

"This Is How AIPAC Really Works: An AIPAC and Capitol Hill veteran explains the lobby's tactics of reward and retribution. One thing that should be said about Representative Ilhan Omar's tweet about the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (more commonly known as AIPAC, or the 'Israel lobby') is that the hysterical reaction to it proved her main point: The power of AIPAC over members of Congress is literally awesome, although not in a good way. Has anyone ever seen so many members of Congress, of both parties, running to the microphones and sending out press releases to denounce one first-termer for criticizing the power of... a lobby?"

"Florida's anti-Semitism bill would go even further in blocking free speech: A Florida 'hate crime' bill with an expanded, Israel-centric definition of anti-Semitism and no mention of other religions, is working its way through House committees. The bill would criminalize criticisms of Israel."

"Joe Biden's Biggest 2020 Problem Is Joe Biden: Despite cultivating a populist image, the former vice president has spent his career championing policies favored by Republicans and the corporate elite. Biden has spent his entire career fighting for the Big Guy against the Little Guy. "Biden was a steadfast supporter of an economic agenda that caused economic inequality to skyrocket during the Clinton years. While the poor and middle class made modest gains as a percentage of their income, a pay increase of 2.5 percent wasn't terribly meaningful for people who didn't make much money to begin with. The fortunes of the rich, by contrast, swelled as Clinton cut taxes on capital gains from real estate and financial investments. While Clinton's 1993 budget raised the top income tax rate from 36 percent to 39.6 percent, the economic gains from his 1997 tax cut were heavily concentrated among the rich. As a result, the top 1 percent's share of the national income grew dramatically. Biden voted for all of it. At the same time, landmark banking deregulation further concentrated the nation's wealth in the hands of a few big players. Biden voted for the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking Act, which allowed banks to expand across state lines. He voted to repeal Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law that barred traditional commercial banks from engaging in risky, high-flying securities trades. These laws encouraged Wall Street mega-mergers that created too big to fail and too big to manage behemoths like Citigroup and Wells Fargo. He voted to bar federal or state supervision of credit default swaps, which later became become 'financial weapons of mass destruction' during the 2008 financial crisis. [...] Biden also spent roughly a decade pursuing an overhaul of American bankruptcy law to discourage debt-strapped households from discharging their financial obligations in court. As then-academic Elizabeth Warren warned at the time, Biden's bankruptcy law boosted revenues for credit card companies at the expense of families struggling with job losses and medical bills. Unlike the Clinton-era deregulation, the bankruptcy bill was unpopular with Senate Democrats, who voted against it 31 to 14." And of course, he eagerly went to bat for Obama's Grand Bargain to cut Social Security in exchange for a trivial tax-raise on the rich.

An associate says this about Biden: "And voting for every piece of anti choice legislation he could vote for. He said when Roe was decided that women shouldn't have the right to control their bodies that way. He voted for the Hyde Amendment in 1977 without a rape or incest exception. Hyde has grown to basically deny abortion from insurance companies all over the country. He twice voted for a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe. The Hatch amendment of 82 and 83. He voted for every version of the so called partial birth abortion ban until George W Bush signed it. When Clinton refused to sign the 1993 budget unless rape and incest were included in the Hyde Amendment, which Clinton refused to put in all his budgets by the way, Joe didn't attempt to redeem himself..he voted to have no rape or incest exception. There are proactive, prochoice bills that who the hell knows what this dinosaur would do...Like the The Each Woman Act..to repeal Hyde and prohibit bans on insurance coverage for abortion"

Some interesting words on Biden here, too: The Michael Hudson Interview: Bronze Age Redux - On Debt, Clean Slates And What The Ancients Have To Teach Us [...] When you privatize not only education, but also student loans, that is what has led to the student loan crisis. It was completely unnecessary. But Joe Biden, as senator for the credit card companies centered in Delaware, pushed it through, saying, 'We've got to make education a profit center for the banks. Our purpose is not to educate the population, it's to create a situation where in order to get a job, in order to get a union card, they have to go into a lifetime of debt to the banks that cannot be wiped out by bankruptcy.' That's the Democratic Party policy. And it's what's tearing the country apart." He's got an interesting take on the Biblical support for cancellation of debts, too. "You had a continuation of the original Christianity in the Greek Orthodox Church, or the Orthodox Church, all the way through Byzantium. And in my book And Forgive Them Their Debts, the last two chapters are on the Byzantine echo of the original debt cancellations, where one ruler after another would cancel the debts. And they gave very explicit reason for it: if we don't cancel the debts, we're not going to be able to field an army, we're not going to be able to collect taxes, because the oligarchy is going to take over. They were very explicit, with references to the Bible, references to the jubilee year. So you had Christianity survive in the Byzantine Empire. But in the West it ended in Margaret Thatcher. And Father Coughlin."

"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez And The New Left: THE INTERCEPT'S Senior Politics Editor Briahna Gray spoke with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at SXSW about identity, race, and class, and how these debates are likely to play out in the years ahead."

As always, the most honest appraisal of Beto O'Rourke's announcement that he's throwing his hat into the ring comes from...The Onion. Because if there's anything we need right now, it's empty platitudes from some white guy who doesn't remember why Democrats aren't that friendly with GOP ideas.

"Bernie Sanders Is Beating Kamala Harris 2-1 Among Black Democratic Primary Voters, New Poll Finds: THREE WEEKS AFTER launching his presidential campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading all other announced candidates in support from black voters, a new poll finds. The only potential candidate who polled better with African-Americans than Sanders, according to the poll by Morning Consult, is former Vice President Joe Biden, who has not announced a campaign. Despite a persistent notion that his supporters are disproportionately white male 'bros,' the new survey suggests that Sanders is actually slightly more popular among black Democratic voters than white ones, indicating that the narrative that developed during the 2016 campaign may no longer hold, if it ever did. Sanders's support among black voters, at 28 percent, puts him in second place among that demographic, behind Biden, at 32 percent. He trailed Biden 31-25 among whites. There appears to be a strong class element at play in the finding. The same poll found that the demographics Sanders is least popular with — at 19 and 17 percent, respectively — are Democrats who make more than $100,000 per year and Democrats who have post-graduate degrees (two qualities that typically, if not always, overlap). Because of structural wealth and income gaps, that population is heavily white. Sanders, meanwhile, receives his strongest support from those making less than $50,000 — a group that is, for the same reasons, much more diverse. The poll found that 30 percent of those with the lowest incomes backed Sanders."

RIP: "Carrie Ann Lucas Dies At Age 47, You Probably Haven't Heard Of Her And That's A Problem: Yesterday, February 24th, the disability rights advocate community lost one of its mightiest members, Carrie Ann Lucas. Lucas was a nationally known disability rights attorney and a mother of four children, each of whom are adopted and living with disabilities. She was only 47 years old. Her death was announced by family and friends on her Facebook page: '[Lucas] died after an arbitrary denial from an insurance company caused a plethora of health problems, exacerbating her disabilities and eventually leading to her premature death.'"

RIP: "Hal Blaine, Wrecking Crew Drummer, Is Dead at 90: He played drums on at least 40 singles that reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart," And you know all of them. He actually replaced Dennis Wilson in the recording studio, among many other things. And there are some things that just don't happen with a drum machine. I miss that.

Anti-Bernie Twitter likes to rag about how no one who Bernie endorses or who endorses Bernie ever wins an election. This taunt would be meaningless even if it were true since so many of them are challengers running against incumbents, but when you really look at the record, it's amazing how many actually win.

"The anti-Bernie Sanders campaign being pushed by former Clinton staffers, explained: Former Hillary Clinton aides really want Bernie Sanders to get the Clinton treatment." It's pretty simple: They're bitter. And they want 2020 to be bitter as well.

The Boston Herald says, "Democrats ignore Bernie Sanders at their own risk."

And, interestingly, National Review says, "Don't Laugh, Bernie Can Win: He can talk to working-class voters without the usual Democratic condescension. [...] Some have said that Sanders overperformed in the 2016 Democratic primary because Hillary Clinton is a uniquely bad candidate. (Well, Rich Lowry has said that.) Sanders would fade under closer scrutiny. If it seems like he's a real contender to grab the nomination, people will research the weird things he said in the 1970s and 1980s. Or they'll get more accustomed to his personal quirks and affect. And then he'll fade. A gap between the austerity of his democratic-socialist politics and his relatively comfortable personal lifestyle will overwhelm him. My response: Where have you been the last four years? Polished candidates are out. Candid candidates are in. Voters can and will forgive their politicians almost any verbal lapses, so long as they believe the candidate doesn't hate them. Sanders has the manners not to talk about huge swathes of the American public with disdain or contempt. We know he won't repeat Mitt Romney's 'takers' moment. But, crucially, while Sanders will denounce racism and divisiveness, he won't imply that Trump's supporters are economically useless 'deplorables.' Bernie is not 'intersectional' — at least, not in the alienating way. His declared enemies are the millionaires and billionaires who buy up public policy. He will not be tempted, as some other candidates may be, to mimic or adopt the young-lefty-media views on intersectionality that remain avant-garde and alienating to key swing constituencies. [...] Sanders's version of left-wing politics will ring out as almost nostalgic and comforting to voters lower on the socioeconomic scale. In fact, he may have more crossover appeal. The possibility of 'Obama-Trump-Sanders' voters flipping Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania is a real one. If the age of Clinton has officially ended in the Democratic party, Sanders offers the party a pre-Clintonite identity. His ambitions are to expand on the New Deal and the Fair Deal, to overcome the resistance that national health care met in the famous do-nothing Congress. [...] Finally, and this is an important point: One of Sanders's greatest advantages is his stubbornness. Sometime in the 1990s, Americans got used to the idea that politics is entirely phony. It's all 'spin.' All candidates 'pivot.' Donald Trump has a very unfaithful relationship with the truth. At the same time, Trump's character is transparent. People knew what kind of man Trump really was when they voted for him. Sanders's lifelong adherence to social-democratic politics, his willingness to sit on the margins because of his fidelity to that vision, is his greatest asset. The whole world has grown soft and inconstant. Sanders is a rebuke to that. Republicans and conservatives need to take him very seriously."

Guiliann Di Lauro Valez, "I Was Sexually Harassed on Bernie Sanders's 2016 Campaign. I Will Not Be Weaponized or Dismissed: LAST WEEK, MY experience, and that of some of my female co-workers, became the focus of a New York Times story on the sexual harassment and sexism that took place in the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign. I told my story to bring attention to the sexist environment that is unfortunately endemic to most workspaces, including political campaigns. However, I was disheartened to discover that the takeaway by many pundits was not that sexism and harassment is pervasive, but that Sanders was somehow uniquely culpable. I was also struck by some of the messages and tweets calling into question the character of the women who spoke out. As was the case throughout the 2016 campaign season, my personal experiences as a woman of color were sublimated to serve an establishment media narrative that pretends the progressive movement is all white, all male, and runs counter to the interests of women and people of color. But my story should not be taken to confirm the 'Bernie bro' mythology. It should be taken to confirm the pervasiveness of sexism in professional life and distill the hard truths that all campaigns should learn from."

Neoliberal epiphany: "A Clinton-era centrist Democrat explains why it's time to give democratic socialists a chance." Yes, Brad DeLong has (sort of) seen the light. He's still essentially a neoliberal, but he seems to have discovered that it's pointless to push it at the moment. "We were certainly wrong, 100 percent, on the politics. Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney's health care policy, with John McCain's climate policy, with Bill Clinton's tax policy, and George H.W. Bush's foreign policy. He's all these things not because the technocrats in his administration think they're the best possible policies, but because [White House adviser] David Axelrod and company say they poll well. And [Chief of Staff] Rahm Emanuel and company say we've got to build bridges to the Republicans. We've got to let Republicans amend cap and trade up the wazoo, we've got to let Republicans amend the [Affordable Care Act] up the wazoo before it comes up to a final vote, we've got to tread very lightly with finance on Dodd-Frank, we have to do a very premature pivot away from recession recovery to 'entitlement reform.' All of these with the idea that you would then collect a broad political coalition behind what is, indeed, Mitt Romney's health care policy and John McCain's climate policy and George H.W. Bush's foreign policy. And did George H.W. Bush, did Mitt Romney, did John McCain say a single good word about anything Barack Obama ever did over the course of eight solid years? No, they fucking did not. [...] I'd say we learned more about the world. I could be confident in 2005 that [recession] stabilization should be the responsibility of the Federal Reserve. That you look at something like laser-eye surgery or rapid technological progress in hearing aids, you can kind of think that keeping a market in the most innovative parts of health care would be a good thing. So something like an insurance-plus-exchange system would be a good thing to have in America as a whole. It's much harder to believe in those things now. That's one part of it. The world appears to be more like what lefties thought it was than what I thought it was for the last 10 or 15 years." You're halfway there, Brad.

Too many good quotes in this one from Nathan Robinson in Current Affairs about "The Obama Boys", working in the White House having an empty West Wing-y fantasy life around a man who everyone said was a great progressive speaker though he was deeply regressive and no one can really remember any inspiring quotations from him. Why? It was straight boys in love, but there was nothing there. They just loved him. "Indeed, Litt comes away from an Obama event and says 'yet here's the remarkable thing: I don't remember a word.' He felt 'a kind of patriotic ecstasy' but he doesn't actually seem to have been inspired by the idea of actually doing anything with the power of government. Indeed, Pfeiffer's memoir says that while conventional wisdom in politics is that you should talk about 'issues and policy positions' for Obama 'the campaign was the message.' Paraphrasing Jay-Z ('I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man') the Obama staff concludes that Obama is not a 'message man,' he's the 'message, man.' Pfeiffer says he had 'desperately wanted' something in his life that felt 'more like a cause than a campaign,' and in Obama he found it. But the 'hope and change' they sought consisted of getting Obama elected. Obama 'made our union more perfect simply by entering the White House,' Litt says. After that, it was all a bit 'gauzy but vague' (Pfeiffer's words). No wonder, then, that after being elected Obama disbanded his grassroots organizing apparatus — an act regarded by some as one of the worst political mistakes of his presidency. There was nothing to organize for."

And another billionaire chimes in, "Hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio: 'Capitalism basically is not working for the majority of people'."

"America is not "polarized": it's a land where a small minority tyrannize the supermajority: Writing in the New York Times, Tim Wu (previously) describes the state of American politics after decades of manipulation dirty tricks and voter suppression, where policies with extremely high levels of public approval like higher taxes on the super-rich (75%), paid maternity leave (67%), net neutrality (83%), parallel importation of pharmaceuticals from Canada (71%) and empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices (92%) are nevertheless considered politically impossible. Of course the thing that all these policies have in common is that they would make life vastly better for nearly all of us, while making the super-rich a very little worse off. As Wu points out, this is not a picture of a "heavily polarized" nation, as the pundits would have it. These policies are wildly popular and are outside of the political mainstream because a minority have figured out how to suppress the will of the supermajority."

I've always felt that someone called "Donna Shalala" should have an honorable job singing "Baby, It's You" with the Shirelles rather than spouting anti-Venezuela propaganda.

Stephon Clark speaks truth to power at the Sacramento City Council and doesn't pull any punches.

"Is the Skills Gap Real? Changes in Employer Skill Requirements During the Great Recession: Since the Great Recession, employers have cited a skills gap in which workers lack the education and experience needed to fill vacant jobs. In response, federal and state policymakers have called for increased efforts for training and retraining of workers to alleviate this mismatch in the labor market. While job requirements increased for many openings during the recession, the inverse has happened as the labor market has recovered: some employers have been lowering education and experience requirements to fill open positions. Does a skills gap exist and if so, what should public policy do about it?"

Tom the Dancing Bug, They Were... SOCIALIST INVADERS FROM THE FUTURE!

There's an English children's classic called Swallows and Amazons which I never heard of until I saw this article, which instantly made me think I should show it to my parents until I remembered I couldn't. "Swallows and Armenians: Arthur Ransome's forgotten inspirations revealed : A new art project is exploring how the characters in the English children's classic were modelled on a family from Aleppo."

Gorgeous food carving by Daniele Barresi.

Ridley Scott's Hennessy ad looks like a science fiction film you'd like to see.

A whole album of Hal Blaine drumming: Pet Sounds.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A better world is needed

I have had the kind of cold that definitely isn't the worst I've ever had but man is it making me drowsy. I should be all excited but it's hard to concentrate.

He's in: "Bernie Sanders announces 2020 run: 'We're gonna win'." I particularly liked the part where he responded to being asked about Howard Schultz. He was also interviewed by none other than Thom Hartmann, who didn't ask the dumb questions.

"Leahy endorses Sanders for president: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Tuesday endorsed his colleague Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president, hours after Sanders announced his candidacy." Leahy endorsed Clinton last time, but he doesn't have to anymore.

I occasionally muse on the fact that we used to meet up in churches, but so few of us seem to go to church anymore and I wonder what could replace it. Alice Marshall on The politics of laundromats: Where can you reach the working class? Well, lots of places, but laundromats are an under exploited opportunity. This year, 2019, is a year of local elections. The state legislatures in Virginia and New Jersey are up for election as are many city and county governments. Local candidates have a difficult time getting their name out, especially if they are challengers. So anything you can do to raise your candidate's visibility will be of great value. Which brings us to laundromats. We stand in front of libraries and grocery stores handing out literature, but not laundromats, why not?"

Timothy Faust with "The Only Guide to 'Medicare for All' That You Will Ever Need. [...] In the coming weeks, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) is set to release a new 'Medicare for All' bill. I'm generally inclined to distrust the policy gestures of elected officials, but I've read a detailed overview of the bill from Jayapal's office and I'm happy to say that this bill is astonishingly strong, and should become the baseline for federal legislation toward single-payer healthcare. (I'll discuss why in a minute.)" Tim writes a lot about what must be included in the bills. He says all but two are write-offs. The two, of course, are Sanders' and Jayapal's - but even they have problems, It's worth reading the whole thing. But no bill, including Jayapal's, is enough. No bill, on its own, could be enough. For the past hundred years, every time the insiders — the well-meaning senators, the well-meaning policy writers, the well-meaning union or nonprofit leaders — have taken on the insurance industry, they've written a bill and waved it around and tried to gin up support among the grassroots. And then they were beaten by a reactionary establishment that is capable of outmaneuvering, outfoxing, and outgunning health reform. They lost in the '40s, they lost in the '60s, they lost in the '70s, they lost a few times in the '90s, and they lost in the 2000s." This isn't something the wonks can handle. It depends on the grassroots screaming for it. So be ready to scream.

"One click and you're out: UK makes it an offence to view terrorist propaganda even once: It will be an offence to view terrorist material online just once — and could incur a prison sentence of up to 15 years — under new UK laws. The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill was granted Royal Assent yesterday, updating a previous Act and bringing new powers to law enforcement to tackle terrorism. But a controversial inclusion was to update the offence of obtaining information "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" so that it now covers viewing or streaming content online. The rules as passed into law are also a tightening of proposals that had already been criticised by human rights groups and the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Max Hill. Originally, the proposal had been to make it an offence for someone to view material three or more times — but the three strikes idea has been dropped from the final Act."

Here's Digby and Sam Seder talking about how The Inquirer tried to blackmail Jeff Bezos over some dick picks they got their hands on and he outed them with an open letter. And neither one of them even bothered to wonder what would happen if the owner of The Washington Post went the criminal route against another newspaper for a friggin' felony, ffs, because that's become the sort of thing that is just a side issue in the general scheme of things.

Why Amy Klobuchar is not going on my shortlist. Imagine thinking this is going to get people to vote for you.

"Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer are going after corporate stock buybacks: A large chunk of Republican tax cuts were funneled into companies boosting their own stocks. The pair of senators want corporations to benefit workers instead."

The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies & the Death of Competition w/ Jonathan Tepper - MR Live - 2/12/19

"Corporate Democrats Aren't Winning Any Swing Voters." Nothing you don't know, but a nice new chart.

Tom Perez says they will have lots of primary debates with two-night panels (randomly-selected) so they don't have too many people in each debate.

And now, several paragraphs from Atrios: "ACA Was A Failure: No, really, a total failure. Yes there were some good regulatory changes. Yes the exchanges make it possible for some people to buy on the individual market (though that insurance is mostly...not good). Yes the Medicaid expansion was great. But the important thing to remember about the Medicaid expansion was that it was a last minute *fix* to keep the price tag down. Think about that. It was cheaper to provide free health care for more people than to throw them onto the subsidized exchanges at subsidy levels that they could possibly afford. If they'd taken it up to 500% of FPL and 600% of FPL it would have been even cheaper! And that became a political problem, because your poor neighbor has free health care and you have to pay for a bronze plan which sucks." (There's more.)

"Common Myths About Porn, Debunked by a Porn Performer On set, the cast and crew are really nice and attentive. But of course, I have to caveat that there can be consent violations on set, like there can be anywhere. It's difficult to exist in the world and not have people be shit occasionally. But in general people are very caring, and they want you to be okay because you don't want someone to leave the set and be upset with you. At the bare bones, that's bad business."

There's a lot of good stuff on this episode of The Michael Brooks Show: TMBS - 76 - Votes Not Cops & Kamala Harris Is Not Your Friend ft. Briahna Joy Gray & Jeffrey Halper. The discussion of Harris is good, but Halper's experience in Israel is a different take than you normally see in the media.

I wonder what message Roger Stone was trying to send by dressing up in a top hat. @spooksperson had a lot of fun with it in this thread, and thank you, Mr. Atrios, for calling it to my attention.

Great tweetstorm by Matt Stoller: "1. Ok, let's talk quickly about Amazon and what I'll call the gangster-ification of American business. In the 1980s, mobsters dominated the gas station business in NY and NJ by not paying taxes their competitors had to. 2. Jeff Bezos built Amazon explicitly around a loophole in the tax code created by the Supreme Court in 1992 that allowed him to skip out on paying sales taxes. It's why he located in Seattle. The tactic was legal, but not technologically driven. Or fair. 3. There is a big difference between legitimate commerce, and coercive tactics masquerading as commerce. We have a long tradition of distinguishing between the two, centered around our antitrust laws but extending outward throughout the administrative state and localities. 4. Hundreds of years of this tradition embedded a basic understanding that crime/monopolization and commerce are different. Crime when it becomes dominant in a culture creates aristocracy/authoritarianism. One way to see the American Revolution was a revolt against monopoly." Read all 19 tweets in the thread.

They are so used to being contemptuous toward progressives that they can't even do better than this: "'Everyone. Needs. To. Watch...' Democrat Dianne Feinstein Explain to Children Why She Won't Back Green New Deal."

"Firefighters respond to cow with chair on its head"

The only thing I know about Andrew Yang is in this interview, which is actually pretty interesting but I don't think he's going anywhere. One reason is that his approach to education is, well, he's not interested in actual education.

RIP: Carol Emshwiller 1921-2019. Reports John-Henri Holmberg: "I must, with great regret, tell those of you who haven't so far heard it that Carol Emshwiller died on February 2. Born April 12, 1921, wife of painter and film maker Ed Emshwiller, an author who Ursula Le Guin called 'a major fabulist, a marvellous magical realist, one of the strongest, most complex, most consistently feminist voices in fiction'. Author of unforgettable stories, beginning with 'Built for Pleasure' in 1954 and, sadly, ending with 'All I Know of Freedom', 2012. In between were masterpieces like 'Sex and/or Mr Morrison', 'The Start of the End of the World', 'I Live With You', and so many others. Read her collections: Joy in Our Cause, Verging on the Pertinent, The Start of the End of It All, Report to the Men's Club, I Live With You, In the Time of War, Master on the Road to Nowhere. Read her novels: Carmen Dog, Ledoyt, Leaping Man Hill, The Mount, Mister Boots, The Secret City. Or get hold of the two volume The Collected Stories of Carol Emshwiller, in my view one of the finest story collections published. Read Luis Ortiz' combined book about Carol and Ed Emshwiller: Emshwiller: Infinity x Two, published in 2007. But above all, read Carol's stories, and remember her as one of the great fantasists, one of the most gracious of persons, one of those few who live up to our potential as humans."

RIP: "Peter Tork, bassist for the Monkees, dies aged 77: Accomplished folk musician and teen star helped move the guitar-pop band beyond their manufactured image." Here's the first song on one of their albums that he sang lead on, "Your Auntie Grizelda", which I admit is not one of my favorite Monkees tunes. Rolling Stone remembers him as the funniest Monkee.

A nice refresher course from Sam Seder, "The Mismeasure of Minds: Debating Race & Intelligence w/ Michael Staub - MR Live - 2/18/19

H. Bruce Franklin (Rutgers), "The American Prison in the Culture Wars: The following talk was delivered at the 2000 Modern Language Association Convention in Washington, DC, on the panel, 'The Imprisonment of American Culture.' [...] 6. The two most menacing institutional sources of the danger described by Freeman were obviously those two great public university systems charging no tuition: the University of California and the City University of New York. Governor Reagan was able to wipe out free tuition at the University of California in 1970, leaving CUNY as the lone threat. The vital task of crippling CUNY was to go on for six more years, outlasting Nixon and falling to his appointed successor, Gerald Ford.7 In 1975, President Ford announced that he would withhold federal aid from New York City, then in a financial crisis, until it eliminated open admissions and free tuition at CUNY. To be financially responsible, Ford declared, New York must no longer be a city that "operates one of the largest universities in the world, free of tuition for any high school graduate, rich or poor, who wants to attend."8 Or, as the President's press secretary explained, New York City had become like "a wayward daughter hooked on heroin": "you don't give her $100 a day to support her habit. You make her go cold turkey to break her habit." Finally in 1976, the assault on public education succeeded in terminating the City University's 129-year policy of not charging tuition, thus wiping out the last U.S. stronghold of free public higher education. The university then fired hundreds of young faculty members hired to implement the open admissions program. [...] 8. Meanwhile, just as the state and federal governments were taking away the funds that could open up the universities, they were beginning to spend far greater sums to build alternative institutions for the poor, with exceptionally easy entrance requirements and lengthy enrollments for people of color. From 1976, the year when free higher education was eradicated, until the end of the century, on average a new prison was constructed in America every week. The prison population went from under 200,000 in 1971 to two million in 2000 as America became the prison capital of the world. The states of California and Texas now run the second and third largest prison systems in the world. By the late 1990s, many states had followed California's lead in spending more money for prisons than for higher education, and across the country far more young black men were in prison than in college.12 Not just coincidentally, the amount removed from public higher education in New York equalled the amount added to the budget for the state's prisons. Felony convictions had stripped the vote from 4.1 million American citizens.13 This proved to be decisive in determining who would soon sit in the White House, for in Florida one-third of African-American men--as many as 204,000 potential Black voters--were disenfranchised.14 The Voting Rights Act of 1965 has been effectively repealed by the criminalization of the poor, especially people of color, through the so-called war on drugs, racial profiling, unleashed police, and felony disenfranchisement. Grotesque experiments in dehumanization are being conducted in the form of 'supermax' prisons. This has been culture war with a vengeance--and with a very effective strategy."

I know I once saw a clip of Colbert looking genuinely shocked when he interviewed Austan Goolsbee and heard him claim that government doesn't create jobs. But I can't find it now, and Comedy Central won't let me see its archives or tell if this is that interview. It would be nice to have for posterity to remind people that this thoroughly right-wing position was expressed in public by a member of the Obama cabinet. [Update: CMike reminds me that it wasn't quite as I remember, but same difference.]

William Binney (former Technical Director NSA) and Larry Johnson (former State CT and CIA), "Why The DNC Was Not Hacked By The Russians [...] Taken together, these disparate data points combine to paint a picture that exonerates alleged Russian hackers and implicates persons within our law enforcement and intelligence community taking part in a campaign of misinformation, deceit and incompetence. It is not a pretty picture."

Quoted: "I can say with confidence that if Bernie gets the nomination a lot of prominent people who spent the last two years blaming Jill Stein for Trump or 18 years blaming Ralph Nader for Bush will find their 'conscience; requires them to vote for a 3rd party run by whichever neoliberal billionaire steps in." — A Friend

Rob Hansen was recently invited to an academic conference on mimeography. He reports: Immediately after my interview they showed footage of the mimeography panel at 1976's MIDAMERICON. Among those in the audience laughing heartily at Jon Singer's impression of a Gestetner was Jonathan Gestetner. The associated exhibition (now extended 'til 23rd Feb) is still going on. Here are photos taken at the launch.

Susie Bright's grandmother is a mystery, but she left all these photos.

Boing Boing has the Frozen II teaser trailer. (And while I was there I saw Chuck Jones - The Evolution of an Artist again.)

"Masqrade" is a 30-year-old mod file that sounds very different from anything I've ever heard done this way. You can download the file but I just streamed it with the "Play with Online Player" link.

I like Danny Boyle, science fiction, and The Beatles, so I was interested to see this trailer for Yesterday.

The Monkees with Peter Tork on lead vocal, "A Better World"

Monday, February 4, 2019

I've been looking high and low

This photo comes from a page where you can pick your favorite skyscape for a people's choice award at the Royal Museums Greenwich site. Some striking images to feast your eyes on, and one surprising single-shot, no-tricks photo of the Milky Way hanging over suburban homes.

So, he was flipping through the channels and suddenly we were captivated by this documentary on the BBC that we didn't know was on, "The Everly Brothers: Harmonies from Heaven", which brought tears to my eyes. Watch it if you can.

Fears of US-Backed 'Coup' in Motion as Trump Recognizes Venezuela Opposition Lawmaker as 'Interim President': President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela officially cut off diplomatic ties with the U.S. government on Wednesday — and gave American diplomats 72 hours to leave the country — in response to President Donald Trump declaring formal recognition of an opposition lawmaker as the 'Interim President' of Venezuela, despite not being elected by the nation's people for that position. [...] Critics of U.S. imperialism and its long history of anti-democratic manuevers in Latin American expressed immediate alarm on Wednesday after Trump's announcement. And what Trump identified as 'democracy,' critics of the move instead used Maduro's description: 'coup.'" Of course it's a coup - orchestrated from Washington on the heels of years of sanctions imposed by Barack Obama. No doubt because Venezuela has all that nice oil. Centrist hearththrob Justin Trudeau has already recognized the coup leader, Since even the "progressives" seem largely to be supporting the coup, you can be sure that most of what you're seeing in the news about this is false. Is Maduro bad? He's not great, but he's better than the alternative, which is a coup against a Democratically elected leader. Was the election rigged? We don't know, because although Maduro asked for international oversight of the elections, the same people who are staging the coup refused to let them in. When the Bush administration pulled this with Chavez, they managed to convince a lot of people that he was depriving his people of all kinds of rights that Americans don't have, either. But no one points that out. The opposition to Maduro is staging huge, violent events to try to get the government to respond, and after they've stolen some vehicles and blocked thoroughfares and set building on fire for a few hours and the authorities finally show up, then they start filming and claiming it's "government repression. The shortages of food and medical supplies? Well, yeah, those sanctions are working, what did you expect?

Why France's Yellow Vest Protests Have Been Ignored by the US 'Resistance': To the surprise of no one, mainstream pundits have stoked fears of 'Russian interference' behind the unrest. [...] It turned out that a crisis was not averted but merely postponed when Macron defeated his demagogue opponent Le Pen in the 2017 French election. While it is true that the gilets jauneswere partly impelled by an increase on fuel prices, contrary to the prevailing narrative their official demands are not limited to a carbon tax. They also consist of explicit ultimatums to increase the minimum wage, improve the standard of living, and an end to austerity, among other legitimate grievances. Since taking office, Macron has declared war on trade unions while pushing through enormous tax breaks for the wealthy (like himself) — it was just a matter of time until the French people had enough of the country's privatization.

The Political Economy Research Institute, "Economic Analysis of Medicare for All: This study by PERI researchers Robert Pollin, James Heintz, Peter Arno, Jeannette Wicks-Lim and Michael Ash presents a comprehensive analysis of the prospects for a Medicare for All health care system in the United States. The most fundamental goals of Medicare for All are to significantly improve health care outcomes for everyone living in the United States while also establishing effective cost controls throughout the health care system. These two purposes are both achievable. As of 2017, the U.S. was spending about $3.24 trillion on personal health care — about 17 percent of total U.S. GDP. Meanwhile, 9 percent of U.S. residents have no insurance and 26 percent are underinsured — they are unable to access needed care because of prohibitively high costs. Other high-income countries spend an average of about 40 percent less per person and produce better health outcomes. Medicare for All could reduce total health care spending in the U.S. by nearly 10 percent, to $2.93 trillion, while creating stable access to good care for all U.S. residents."

"Wall Street freaks out about 2020: Many of the nation's top bankers want Trump gone, but they're growing anxious about some Democratic presidential contenders." I'm betting it's not Beto or Kamala or Biden who's got them worried. "NEW YORK — Top Wall Street executives would love to be rid of President Donald Trump. But they are getting panicked about the prospect of an ultraliberal Democratic nominee bent on raising taxes and slapping regulations on their firms. The result is a kind of nervous paralysis of executives pining for a centrist nominee like Michael Bloomberg while realizing such an outcome is unlikely from a party veering sharply to the left. [...] "

This Onion headline is absolutely true: "Howard Schultz Considering Independent Presidential Run After Finding No Initial Support Among Any Voter Groups: SEATTLE — Expressing concerns that Democratic and Republican parties no longer represented people like him, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz revealed Monday that he was considering an independent presidential run after finding no initial support among any American voter groups."

"Merkley Calls for FBI Perjury Probe into Homeland Secretary Nielsen After Child Detention Memo Leaked: After releasing a damning draft memo that showed the Trump administration planned to 'traumatize' migrant children with family separations and expedite deportation by denying asylum hearings, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Friday called for an FBI investigation into whether Homeland Security Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen lied when she testified before Congress about the policy. In a letter sent to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the senator noted that "compelling new evidence has emerged revealing that high-level Department of Homeland Security officials were secretly and actively developing a new policy and legal framework for separating families as far back as December 2017.' 'Despite this fact,' Merkley continued, 'while testifying under oath before the House Committee on the Judiciary, Secretary Nielsen stated unequivocally "I'm not a liar, we've never had a policy for family separation."' Given the 'conflicting facts,' Merkley formally demanded an immediate investigation." It's interesting to wonder how and why the memo got released, but if you're trying to broadcast to the world that America is a bad place to go if you're not a blonde, you wouldn't want to keep it a secret, would you?

The internet ran wild with rumors that Bernie is ready to run. So here's a timely article in GQ called "The Unfinished Business of Bernie Sanders," which is actually pretty thoughtful. "Indeed, passing the torch could actually be liberating for Sanders — and not just because it would give him more time to spend with his seven grandchildren. 'I do think his DNA, where he's been over the course of his life, is he really likes agitating,' says the senior Democratic strategist. 'There's a freedom to it: the freedom of being an agitator versus the weight of being a standard-bearer. If you're a standard-bearer, you have to start making compromises.' And yet the idea of passing the torch has obvious downsides. For one thing, would any of the Bernie 2.0's — to say nothing of the more centrist candidates, like Cory Booker or Kirsten Gillibrand or Kamala Harris, who are now singing from the Bernie hymnal — be as committed to his issues as Sanders is himself? 'If Bernie's not on the debate stage, the center of gravity shifts,' says one Sanders adviser. 'How much will others stick to issues we care about if they don't feel the need to compete with us?' What's more, even if the other candidates were true believers, would they be as good at spreading the gospel as Sanders? 'No one articulates these issues in the same way as him,' says the Sanders adviser."

Rasmussen, "Voters Mixed on Harris, Don't See Her as 2020 Nominee: California Senator Kamala Harris has announced her intention to run for president, but voters aren't paying the California Democrat much heed. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 37% of Likely U.S. Voters have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of Harris, including 16% who view her Very Favorably. Forty percent (40%) view Harris unfavorably, including 27% with a Very Unfavorable opinion of the former San Francisco District Attorney. Another 24% don't know enough about Harris to offer an opinion. "

Matt Taibbi, "Has the Government Legalized Secret Defense Spending? While a noisy Supreme Court fight captivated America last fall, an obscure federal accounting body quietly approved a system of classified money-moving. October 4th, 2018, was a busy news day. The fight over Brett Kavanuagh's Supreme Court nomination dominated the cycle. The Trump White House received a supplemental FBI report it said cleared its would-be nominee of wrongdoing. Retired Justice John Paul Stevens meanwhile said Kavanaugh was compromised enough that he was 'unable to sit as a judge.' #NationalTacoDay trended on Twitter. Chris Evans told the world production wrapped on Avengers 4. The only thing that did not make the news was an announcement by a little-known government body called the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board — FASAB — that essentially legalized secret national security spending. The new guidance, 'SFFAS 56 — CLASSIFIED ACTIVITIES' permits government agencies to 'modify' public financial statements and move expenditures from one line item to another. It also expressly allows federal agencies to refrain from telling taxpayers if and when public financial statements have been altered."

I have my concerns about both Bernie's and Harris' plans to end money bail. It's absolutely necessary we do that, but I don't want to see it replaced with just another way judicial wisdom or some formula that works against the poor can be used to have the same effect - or worse.

Taibbi, "Taibbi: Forget the Memo — Can We Worry About the Banks? A classic circular kerfuffle in congress this week shifted eyes away from rare bipartisan cooperation on spying powers and bank reform. [...] Predictably, there have been more concerning stories in recent weeks having to do with Republicans and Democrats agreeing, rather than trading dumb accusations. [...] All in all, this whole period has been a classic example of how congress operates. The parties fight publicly about something that's either irrelevant, inaccurate, or far from a resolution. Meanwhile, a quiet consensus pushes forward a handful of unsexy but important bills and amendments, usually economic or deregulatory in nature. Those issues tend to be the ones that demand, but rarely get, the most attention."

"'Historic Day for American Unions': Los Angeles Teachers Strike Earns Victory for Labor, Public Education: Los Angeles public school teachers at the nation's second-largest district ended a six-day strike late Tuesday after union members voted to approve a deal — hailed as a major victory for organized labor — that's designed to raise salaries, cap class sizes and charter schools, and direct more funding to schools for nurses, counselors, and other support staff positions."

"GOP Lawmaker Really Doesn't Want Rep. Rashida Tlaib to Let Lawmakers Know What Life Is Like in Occupied West Bank: Newly-elected Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) wants to offer members of Congress an alternative to the 'sugar-coated' junket to Israel the American Israel Public Affairs Committee-affiliated group offers members of Congress by leading a delegation to the West Bank. For a Republican lawmaker, however, giving lawmakers a view of life in the occupied territory is an 'exceedingly dangerous' plan that must be stopped. In letters he sent Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic House committee heads, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) laid out (pdf) his 'extreme concern' with Tlaib's proposal, first reported by The Intercept in December. Unlike the rite of passage for new Republican and Democratic congress members that some dub the 'Jewish Disneyland trip' — sponsored by American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF) — the proposed congressional delegation by the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress would focus on 'Israel's detention of Palestinian children, education, access to clean water, and poverty,' the news outlet reported at the time."

Rashida Tlaib also upset Republicans by using "strong language" in a bar. "'We're gonna impeach the motherf****r'" I don't remember them getting this worked up when Dick Cheney used similar language on the Senate floor.

Steny Hoyer needs to go, but that has been true since the very beginning of his career when, to our horror, he replaced Gladys Spellman upon her death. It has nothing to do with how old he is or how long he's served - he has never been any better than he is.

"A Swelling Tide of Major Teacher Strikes Is Shifting Our Politics Against the Charter Agenda: When charter schools pull funding from a public school, it damages the school's ability to educate the students who remain. In the latest teacher strike in Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest school system, some 30,000 teachers walked off the job saying unchecked growth of charter schools and charters' lack of transparency and accountability have become an unsustainable drain on the public system's financials. The teachers have included in their demands a cap on charter school growth, along with other demands, such as increased teacher pay, reduced class sizes, less testing, and more counselors, nurses, librarians, and psychologists."

Briahna Gray in The Intercept, "A Problem for Kamala Harris: Can a Prosecutor Become President in the Age of Black Lives Matter? [...] She's running for president as a progressive, but as attorney general of California, she criminalized truancy — making it a crime for kids to be late for school, and dragging into the criminal justice system even more disproportionately low income, predominantly black and latino families. She's overlooked the misconduct of her prosecutors and fought to uphold their wrongfully secured convictions. She defended California's choice to deny sexual reassignment surgery to a trans inmate, and in 2014, appealed a federal judge's holding that the death penalty was unconstitutional. [...] Journalist Jill Filipovic argued on Twitter recently that she judges Harris's history less harshly because black women 'shoulder additional burdens' compared to white men, and because women have to prove that they are 'tough.' Filipovic acknowledges that Harris's race and gender don't 'excuse' her record, but, she insists, 'context matters.' It's difficult to understand, though, how the context matters here except to provide some kind of excuse. I'm not without sympathy for the additional pressures exerted on Harris because she is a black woman — after all, unlike Filipovic, I am one too. But those sympathies do not eclipse the concern I have for the black women who bore the consequences of Harris's prosecutorial misjudgment. Importantly, if Harris had to be tougher on crime because she is black, it wasn't for the sake of some higher ideal. It was because her personal ambitions demanded it. [...] Perhaps the most enduring lesson of Sen. Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign — during which he earned votes of 43 percent of Democratic Party primary participants despite starting with name recognition in the teens, enduring a corporate media blackout, and declining to take corporate PAC money — is that the traditional rules around how much you have to sell out to get ahead were wrong. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and myriad candidates who won or over-performed in last year's midterms understood this, as do the leaders of the 2020 field, who have largely sworn off corporate PAC money, and who have adopted the bulk of Sanders's 2016 platform. As it turns out, doing the right thing is actually a winning proposition."

Reason has a compilation of her hits, in "Kamala Harris' New Book Tries to Massage Her Record as a Prosecutor, But the Facts Aren't Pretty: The book neglects to mention all the times Harris' office appealed cases that were thrown out for gross prosecutor misconduct."

Teodrose Fikre is celebrating good journalists, with "Evoking Muckrakers: Hannah Giorgis's Devastating Critique of Senator Kamala Harris." Giorgis' article, in The Atlantic, reviews a book. "Kamala Harris's Political Memoir Is an Uneasy Fit for the Digital Era: The senator's new book shows the difficulty of translating short-form virality into a substantive text," she says, noting that Harris' woke-sounding tweets and self-revelation neither explain her history nor are supported by it. "But unlike Harris's many viral #resistance moments and meticulous snapshots of relatability, the memoir itself is a meandering work that lacks verve. More significantly, given far more than 280 characters to deliver a cohesive message, Harris doesn't meaningfully reconcile her punitive track record as a California prosecutor with her more recent activist-adjacent positioning as a national Democratic darling." Harris' purported reason for serving in office has to do with wanting to fight for social justice But, as many have observed, her time in office has shown her to be not merely absent from that fight, but working for the other side. "It is, according to many of her supporters, an admirable goal. And for a career prosecutor, it's a fairly understandable worldview. But the lofty language is a tough fit with Harris's policy track record. As others have noted, her tenure as California's so-called top cop reveals a series of choices that are often incongruous with the social-justice-inflected rhetoric of The Truths We Hold. Under District Attorney Kamala Harris, the overall felony-conviction rate in San Francisco rose from 52 percent in 2003 to 67 percent in 2006, the highest seen in a decade. Many of the convictions accounting for that increase stemmed from drug-related prosecutions, which also soared, from 56 percent in 2003 to 74 percent in 2006. As California's attorney general, Harris pushed a punitive initiative that treated truancy among elementary schoolers as a crime for which parents could be jailed. In 2014, she attempted to block the release of nonviolent second-strike offenders from overcrowded state prisons on the grounds that their paroling would result in prisons losing an important labor pool. The following year, she defended the California state prosecutor Robert Murray after he falsified a defendant's confession that was used to threaten a sentence of life in prison, and sided with state prison leaders in contesting a transgender inmate's bid for gender-confirmation surgery. Twice in 2016, she brought criminal charges related to human trafficking against Backpage.com, an online classified website frequently used by sex workers, and later, as a senator, she co-sponsored federal bills that led to the site's seizure, a move that sex workers and activists said threatens their survival." Giorgis also compares this book with Harris' first, and notes that they seem to contradict each other, with no bridge between them. Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor's Plan to Make Us Safer was a book from Kamala the Top Cop, who showed no interest in the injustice of rounding up loads of people (disproportionately of color, naturally) for non-violent drug crimes and wrecking their lives unnecessarily. This pre-presidential Harris wants us to think she has a history of caring about those effects — particularly on people of color — yet one still has the impression she's really only interested in protecting Perry Mason's clients - falsely accused innocents, respectable, and white. "For those already inclined to find her highly tweetable brand of #resistance rhetoric appealing, the memoir offers up palatably anti-establishment quotes for possible tote-bag screen-printing. If only it presented a holistic political foundation instead."

And even The New York Times has a great article by Lara Bazelon, law professor and former director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent in Los Angeles, "Kamala Harris Was Not a 'Progressive Prosecutor': The senator was often on the wrong side of history when she served as California's attorney general. [...] The senator was often on the wrong side of history when she served as California's attorney general."

David Dayen and Rebecca Burns have a new book out, Fat Cat: The Steve Mnuchin Story, and they gave Bill Scher an interview on it. How did a Wall Street executive and 'foreclosure king' like Steve Mnuchin become the Treasury Secretary for a populist like Donald Trump, and what is he doing to the country now that he's there? David Dayen and Rebecca Burns tackle those questions in their book Fat Cat: The Steve Mnuchin Story (Strong Arm Press, 2018). They trace Mnuchin not-so-humble origins and his recurring presence in companies impacted by the 2008 market crash, which prompted Sen. Elizabeth Warren to call him 'the Forrest Gump of the financial crisis.' They argue that as Treasury Secretary, he has pursued policies that betray Trump's claim to the populist mantle, rolling back bank regulations and performing lax enforcement. And they criticize the tax reform bill that Mnuchin championed, asserting that it helped the wealthy at the expense of the middle-class."

"Michelle Alexander explodes an open secret in the 'NYT': progressives keep quiet about Palestine out of fear for their careers: Everyone is talking about one thing this morning, the outstanding piece by Michelle Alexander in the New York Times, yes, the New York Times, titled, 'Time to Break the Silence about Palestine,' in which she says she can't be quiet about Palestine any longer. The author of 'The New Jim Crow' is a regular columnist now, and she has changed the discourse about Palestine in one explosive swoop, stating that progressives have been silent about Palestine partly because of fear for their careers, but the time has come to end that silence.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy says, "The U.S. Needs a Federal Wealth Tax: A federal wealth tax on the richest 0.1 percent of Americans is a viable approach for Congress to raise revenue and is one of the few approaches that could truly address rising inequality. As this report explains, an annual federal tax of only 1 percent on the portion of any taxpayer's net worth exceeding the threshold for belonging to the wealthiest 0.1 percent (likely to be about $32.2 million in 2020) could raise $1.3 trillion over a decade. Many working families know that a large part of their wealth is their home, which is subject to an annual property tax at rates that, in some states, approach or even exceed one percent. The homes of the very rich typically make up a much smaller share of their overall wealth, meaning state and local property taxes have little effect on them.[1] A federal wealth tax could ensure that the net worth of the very rich is treated more like the wealth held by the middle-class."

* * * * *

Local Ohio blogger Tim Russo reminds us of "That Time In 2005 Paul Hackett Got Sherrod Brown To Let His Mask Slip-- Here We Go Again: Word on the street here in Ohio is that Sherrod Brown has reverted to factory settings as he prepares to run for president in 2020. What are Sherrod Brown's factory settings? Sherrod don't like primaries, that's what. [...] Since Brown benefitted from his bad behavior in 2005-2006, instead of facing a cost, he is repeating it. I can report that today, Sherrod is not content with rigging the Ohio Democratic Party; Brown is now actually attempting to rig processes outside the Democratic Party, in progressive groups naturally leaning toward Bernie Sanders in 2020. Brown is reaching into the internal decision making of every Ohio progressive group he can, to stunt and halt any organizing for anyone who isn't Sherrod Brown. Brown's 2019 efforts seem based entirely on geography-- that everyone in Ohio simply must support fellow Buckeye Sherrod. In short, it's Paul Hackett all over again. Thus, it is highly likely that every establishment Democrat 2020 prospect is repeating this same approach with their own geographic base. Perhaps not with the same...er...fervor that Sherrod displayed in 2005 (and is no doubt unleashing today), but certainly the same intent. Democrats simply cannot stop attempting to rig primaries. They have learned precisely nothing from 2016." Meanwhile, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul went to Canada for surgery.

"How Would A President Sherrod Brown Run The Democratic Party? Like A Corporate Clown Act:"

More from Tim Russo here.

Common Dreams, "Sherrod Brown: Medicare for All Not 'Practical.' Progressives: 'OK. Thank You, Next.': 'Fight for single-payer or get kicked out of Washington trying.' [...] 'I know most of the Democratic primary candidates are all talking about Medicare for all. I think instead we should do Medicare at 55,' Brown said during a question and answer session at the Chamber of Commerce in Clear Lake, Iowa. Brown said that reducing the age or letting people over 55 buy into the existing Medicare system early would have a better chance of getting through Congress. [...] While all the Democratic 2020 candidates will ultimately be pressed on their solution to the nation's ongoing healthcare crisis, Dr. Carol Paris, former president of Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates for a single-payer system like Medicare for All, told Think Progress this week that anyone who runs must demonstrate they understand that only Medicare for All — a system with "No co-pays, no deductibles, no need for supplemental policies, no private insurance" — has the ability to confront the current system's inherent failure."

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Crusher of Sacred Cows: With its silly swipes at AOC, the American political establishment is once again revealing its blindness to its own unpopularity. [...] There's a reason aides try to keep their bosses away from microphones, particularly when there's a potential for a question of SAT-or-higher level difficulty in the interview. But the subject elected officials have the most trouble staying away from is each other. We've seen this a lot in recent weeks with the ongoing freakout over newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Lest anyone think any of the above applies to 'AOC,' who's also had a lot to say since arriving in Washington, remember: she won in spite of the party and big donors, not because of them. That doesn't make anything she says inherently more or less correct. But it changes the dynamic a bit. All of AOC's supporters sent her to Washington precisely to make noise. There isn't a cabal of key donors standing behind her, cringing every time she talks about the Pentagon budget. She is there to be a pain in the ass, and it's working. Virtually the entire spectrum of Washington officialdom has responded to her with horror and anguish. [...] I have no idea if Ocasio-Cortez will or will not end up being a great politician. But it's abundantly clear that her mere presence is unmasking many, if not most, of the worst and most tired Shibboleths of the capital. Moreover, she's laying bare the long-concealed fact that many of their core policies are wildly unpopular, and would be overturned in a heartbeat if we could somehow put them all to direct national referendum.

Branko Marcetic in Jacobin, "The Shape-Shifter: Kirsten Gillibrand's name is being floated as a progressive 2020 presidential candidate. But her record shows she's a poor tribune for anti-Trump resistance.Gillibrand — who has consciously positioned herself as an elite face of 'the Resistance' in the wake of Trump's election — has some good spots on her record. She led efforts to curb sexual assault in the military, pushed to get the 9/11 first responders bill passed, campaigned to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, and has been advancing a paid family leave bill for years. But if we're going to remember Gillibrand's voting record on Trump appointees in 2020, we should also remember some of the less laudable aspects of her political career. [...] Before her appointment to the Senate, Gillibrand was a Blue Dog Democrat through and through. Representing a House district in Upstate New York, she backed the Bush tax cuts and voted to expand government surveillance every chance she got (this continued to 2015, with CISA, a bill that allowed companies to pass their customers' data to the government). She opposed gay marriage and bragged that her voting record was 'one of the most conservative in the state.' As late as 2009, she was referred to as an 'ostensibly non-liberal Democratic congresswoman' and a 'conservative Democrat.' Gillibrand's record on immigration deserves special mention. Before taking up her Senate post, Gillibrand came out against giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship and opposed then — New York governor Eliot Spitzer's plan to allow undocumented immigrants access to drivers licenses. In 2007, she cosponsored the SAVE Act, which significantly beefed up border patrols, required all employers to check the immigration status of their employees through a flawed computer database, established monetary rewards for anyone who helped catch an undocumented immigrant trying to obtain falsified documents, and turned local police into an arm of federal immigration enforcement.She supported financially penalizing sanctuary cities, the same thing now on Trump's wish list. And she wanted to make English the United States' 'official language.'" And she's bad on Israel, of course, as well as being tight with Wall Street.

Paul Street at Counterpunch, "'If Bernie Runs?' Wrong Question: [...] Bernie's statements that the Wall Street (neoliberal) agenda 'made Trump possible' is accurate. 'Wall Street Democrats' have repeatedly demobilized and antagonized the majority working-class electorate and thereby opened the ugly barn door to the ever more dangerously reactionary and racist Republican Party. It is thanks in large part to the dismal, dollar-drenched Democrats' corporate neoliberalism that two noxious George Bushes and the terrible Trump have held the White House." But there's a BUT.

Atrios says, "Assert: DC is wired for Republicans and reporters get very confused indeed when they aren't in charge of everything. It's why Newt became President in 1995, and Speaker of the House Bachmann (Tea Party) ran Congress from 2009-2011. Reporters always say that Democrats are just bad at the game of kicking the soccer ball that they all chase, which could be true, but I'd also think that reporters could, you know, not see their role as being manipulated by two teams like a fucking soccer ball. But if it is a game, then Pelosi and the House Dems should be out there pulling crazy shit stunts every damn day. Also serious stuff too! Maybe combine them sometimes. Reporters gotta write about something."

"'We've dug ourselves a really deep hole' — David Neiwert on the rise of the far right: Neiwert has reported on the US far right for decades and watched as the conservative movement has steadily adopted its outlook and ideas." This is an interview in the Guardian with our old friend. Most of it is what we've seen him say before, but also this: "One important step to challenge this would be media reform. He says that the internet and corporate ownership of local media have 'basically gutted the ability of local newspapers to cover local news, gutted the ability of larger newspapers to do consumer and investigative reporting'. Social media, a paradise for conspiracy theorists, is filling the gap." And he goes on to say that the Democratic Party has to get more progressive. Oh, yes, they really have to.

There seems to be a new wave of organized H8% anti-Bernie trolling on Twitter. If you're looking for a source for verbal karate, you might find an answer to some of the complaints about how Bernie was disrespectful to Clinton in Guy Saperstein's 2015 piece about why she didn't deserve so much respect, "The Racial Justice Failures That Hillary Clinton Can't Ignore."

"This just tells people to stay home." Michael Moore on the death knell of democracy as demonstrated by the 2016 Democratic primaries and convention.

Paul Street knew who Barack Obama was before he even ran for the Senate - a deeply conservative, ambitious man who didn't believe in activism or democracy. He wrote about that before Obama was elected, but here he is in 2014 on Tell Somebody discussing the difference between the myth of Obama, and the man, and the truth about modern "progressives". Good explanation of how Democratic leaders have made "liberalism" useless and senseless - and made sure nothing can be improved. (And it's really nice to hear that someone beside me thought Obama was a boring speaker.)

November, 1985, and The Washington Post introduces you to the new rulers of the Democratic Party: "Democrats' New Centrists Preen for '88." Unfortunately, one of them had enough charisma to eventually be elected to the presidency, and it's been downhill ever since. Reading this stuff is so oddly bland and chilling at the same time. "This prospect may distress some, but it delights others. "The vote of Sen. Kennedy for that amendment is one of the most hopeful signs of an evolutionary process that is going on in our party . . . as we cross, however uncertainly, into some post-New Deal configuration," says Babbitt. [...] On his own, each of these '88 "mentionables" would have some trouble filling a firehouse with potential voters outside his home base. So they've banded together, along with the likes of Govs. Bruce Babbitt of Arizona, Charles S. Robb of Virginia, Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Sen. Dale Bumpers (Ark.), into a sort of political road show -- a touring company of like-minded presidential and vice-presidential long shots. They call themselves the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), and since midsummer, they have been following the imperatives of the Electoral College map with a series of headline-grabbing campaign-style swings through Texas, Florida, California and North Carolina. [...] They freely acknowledge that they are a long way from defining, issue by issue, exactly where the center is. But one year after the Democrats' 49-state presidential drubbing, these moderates seem poised to capture the soul of their beleaguered party on the strength of the idea of centrism. This is not a universally applauded development. "Unfortunately, the notion that we have to become a party of crypto-Republicans is selling like hotcakes," says Victor Fingerhut, a longtime labor-union pollster and strategist. "If the meek shall inherit the Earth, these timid voices will be land barons," adds Jim Hightower, the Democratic commissioner of agriculture in Texas, who argues that an out-of-power party makes a strategic mistake when it tries to recapture the national agenda with an offering of me-too-isms. He is one of a band of Democrat populists who want their party to build a new platform around good old-fashioned little-guy-versus-big-guy economic conflicts."

"A Cure For Cancer? Israeli Scientists Say They Think They Found One: [...] 'Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market,' Aridor said. 'Our solution will be both generic and personal.'"

RIP: Comedian Jeremy Hardy dies of cancer aged 57: "Hardy, who featured regularly on BBC Radio 4 panel shows such as The News Quiz and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and wrote a column for the Guardian between 1996 and 2001, died on Friday." I'm really sorry to hear this, he was sharp and funny and coming from the right place.

RIP: "Blues musician Mike Ledbetter dies at 33: Blues fans are mourning the death of Mike Ledbetter, a singer and guitar player whose powerful vocals wowed audiences in the U.S., Europe and Russia. He was 33, according to friends. Mr. Ledbetter died of a sudden medical emergency Monday at his Elgin home, and his family is awaiting autopsy results, said his manager Gina McClain. 'He was scrupulously healthy,' said 'Monster' Mike Welch, his bandmate in the Welch-Ledbetter Connection. 'On and off, he was a bodybuilder. There's no lessons about the pitfalls of the road. This is a man who took care of himself, loved his kids, loved his girlfriend Kathy.' Trained in opera, he was 'truly the best vocalist. . . .He was just passionate about American music,' said Tina Terry, his agent. 'For the blues community, it's a huge loss.'" There's another obit at Blues Matters. But here's what you really want to know about him. He was good.

RIP: "Penny Marshall, 'Laverne & Shirley' Star, Director, Dies at 75. Marshall was the first woman to direct a film that grossed more than $100 million, the first woman to direct two films that made more than $100 million, and she was only the second woman director to see her film Oscar-nominated for best picture." To me, of course, she will always be Oscar Madison's secretary.

RIP: Charles Aznavour, French singing star, dies at 94. Yes, I know this was in October, but for some reason I didn't say anything at the time. I knew his name because it was the one my mother always named whenever someone asked if there were any famous Armenians. In those days, Aznavour and the Chipmonkian Ross Bagdasarian were pretty much all there was. (As my sister observed upon Aznavour's death, these days they are all infamous — Dr. Death and the Kardashians. I don't agree with her about Cher, she's still just a singer/actor, and not a bad one.)

Mick West has scanned, and Graham West has uploaded to Dropbox, D. West's Fanzines in Theory and Practice. Meanwhile, Dave Langford has made a text version of West's Deliverance on the TAFF site.

Finally watched Ron Howard's Beatles movie, Eight Days A Week, and it choked me up.

Evelyn Evelyn, "Have You Seen My Sister Evelyn"