Sunday, April 4, 2021

Teach us to be true

Victor Molev's "City of Wandering Towers" is way outside of my price range but nice to look at, and is part of the Amazing Fantasy Cities collection.

"Recreational Marijuana Is Now Legal in New York: Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana on Wednesday, making New York the 16th state to do so. Cuomo signed the bill a day after it passed in the State Legislature. Parts of the law went into effect immediately..."

The GOP didn't want anyone talking about the popularity of Biden's pandemic relief bill, so they made up another border crisis and that's what the media talked about. All of them. And they moaned when Biden delayed his first presser, but when he finally held one, that's all they asked about. They did not ask at all about the pandemic, or the pending infrastructure bill. But, of course, There is no immigration crisis. As Ryan Cooper put it, "This is nonsense. There is a problem at the border, but it is not remotely a "crisis." It's an administrative challenge that could be solved easily with more resources and clear policy — not even ranking with, say, the importance of securing loose nuclear material, much less the ongoing global pandemic, or the truly civilization-threatening crisis of climate change. The mainstream media is in effect collaborating with Republicans to stoke unreasoning xenophobic panic." There's the seasonal uptick in people trying to cross the border, and no doubt a lot of people who are hoping things will be better with Trump gone, and a number of other things, but the truth is that the number haven't ever been as high as they were under the Bush administration. "The history of unauthorized immigration under Bush is instructive. The media largely ignored it because Republicans didn't raise a fuss, and most Americans barely paid attention because it was objectively a minor issue." But that was before Trump proved they could make hay out of ginning up fear of border-crossings.

"Corporate Dems Show Progressives How To Play Hardball: Progressives politely refused to wield power to secure a $15 minimum wage, now conservative Dems are wielding power to secure tax cuts for the wealthy. [...] The tax issue revolves around federal write-offs for state and local taxes — colloquially called SALT deductions. Donald Trump's 2017 tax bill limited such deductions to $10,000. The move was perceived as a mean-spirited shot at blue states, which often have higher state and local levies to fund more robust public services. But on the merits, the policy serves to limit tax deductions primarily for higher-income households. "

"First 100: The Day One Agenda Has Stalled Out: Biden has failed to act and is even allowing constraints on executive action to move forward. Plus: the SALT battle continues. We have (very) quietly been updating our executive action tracker, which looks at what steps the Biden administration has taken to make progress on its own authority. Frankly, the trail has gone pretty cold. The traditional media has completely swallowed the notion that policy can only come from Congress, and implementation has been completely ignored, to say nothing of regulatory interpretation of policies passed before this year. So you have to be a detective to figure out if Biden is maximizing his power and preventing Mitch McConnell and Congressional gridlock from standing in the way."

"Liberals want to blame rightwing 'misinformation' for our problems. Get real: In liberal circles these days there is a palpable horror of the uncurated world, of thought spaces flourishing outside the consensus, of unauthorized voices blabbing freely in some arena where there is no moderator to whom someone might be turned in. The remedy for bad speech, we now believe, is not more speech, as per Justice Brandeis's famous formula, but an 'extremism expert' shushing the world. [...] What explains the clampdown mania among liberals? The most obvious answer is because they need an excuse. Consider the history: the right has enjoyed tremendous success over the last few decades, and it is true that conservatives' capacity for hallucinatory fake-populist appeals has helped them to succeed. But that success has also happened because the Democrats, determined to make themselves the party of the affluent and the highly educated, have allowed the right to get away with it. There have been countless times over the years where Democrats might have reappraised this dumb strategy and changed course. But again and again they chose not to, blaming their failure on everything but their glorious postindustrial vision. In 2016, for example, liberals chose to blame Russia for their loss rather than look in the mirror. On other occasions they assured one another that they had no problems with white blue-collar workers — until it became undeniable that they did, whereupon liberals chose to blame such people for rejecting them. [...] But, folks, it is happening. And the folly of it all is beyond belief. To say that this will give the right an issue to campaign on is almost too obvious. To point out that it will play straight into the right's class-based grievance-fantasies requires only a little more sophistication. To say that it is a betrayal of everything we were taught liberalism stood for — a betrayal that we will spend years living down — may be too complex a thought for our punditburo to consider, but it is nevertheless true."

Matt Taibbi talked with one of our foremost antimonopoly analyst/journalists, "Alternatives to Censorship: Interview With Matt Stoller: As Congress once again demands that Silicon Valley crack down on speech, the Director of Research at the American Economic Liberties Project outlines the real problem - and better solutions. [...] Questions like Fletcher's suggest Congress wants to create a multi-tiered informational system, one in which 'data transparency' means sharing content with Congress but not the public. Worse, they're seeking systems of 'responsible' curation that might mean private companies like Google enforcing government-created lists of bannable domestic organizations, which is pretty much the opposite of what the First Amendment intended. Under the system favored by Fletcher and others, these monopolistic firms would target speakers as well as speech, a major departure from our current legal framework, which focuses on speech connected to provable harm. [...] As Stoller points out in a recent interview with Useful Idiots, the calls for Silicon Valley to crack down on 'misinformation' and 'extremism' is rooted in a basic misunderstanding of how these firms make money. Even as a cynical or draconian method for clamping down on speech, getting Facebook or Google to eliminate lists of taboo speakers wouldn't work, because it wouldn't change the core function of these companies: selling ads through surveillance-based herding of users into silos of sensational content. [...] 'The question isn't whether Alex Jones should have a platform,' Stoller explains. 'The question is, should YouTube have recommended Alex Jones 15 billion times through its algorithms so that YouTube could make money selling ads?'"

"Did CNN Air a Staged Migrant Crossing of the Rio Grande?: An unusual video has been flagged by activists as deliberately manufactured to present a story of a border crisis, possibly with the participation of the Border Patrol. [...] In the CNN footage, the smuggler leading the boat wears fatigues and a black ski mask. Smugglers typically attempt to blend in with the migrants, to avoid more severe punishment should they be caught. Smugglers also don't normally provide face masks and life vests, nor ferry six boatloads of people across in broad daylight. Migrants also don't typically line up single file along the shore to cross. To Jenn Budd, a former Border Patrol agent, the smuggler's face mask rang alarm bells. 'That told me [the smuggler] knew he would be filmed and he didn't want to be set up,' she said. Marianna Treviño Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center, pointed out that her organization goes out on the river at least four times a week and never sees any kind of trafficking operation like this."

"Fast Food Giant Claims Credit For Killing $15 Minimum Wage: The parent company of some of America's largest fast food chains is claiming credit for convincing Congress to exclude a $15 minimum wage from the recent COVID relief bill, according to internal company documents reviewed by The Daily Poster. The company, which is owned by a private equity firm named after an Ayn Rand character, also says it is now working to thwart new union rights legislation. The company's boasts come just a few months after a government report found that some of its chains had among the highest percentage of workers relying on food stamps."

"After crime plummeted in 2020, Baltimore will stop drug, sex prosecutions: State's Attorney Mosby stopped non-violent prosecutions for the coronavirus, but then violent crime dropped 20 percent. Something happened in Baltimore last year. The coronavirus pandemic hit, and State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced that the city would no longer prosecute drug possession, prostitution, trespassing and other minor charges, to keep people out of jail and limit the spread of the deadly virus. And then crime went down in Baltimore. A lot. While violent crime and homicides skyrocketed in most other big American cities last year, violent crime in Baltimore dropped 20 percent from last March to this month, property crime decreased 36 percent, and there were 13 fewer homicides compared with the previous year. This happened while 39 percent fewer people entered the city's criminal justice system in the one-year period, and 20 percent fewer people landed in jail after Mosby's office dismissed more than 1,400 pending cases and tossed out more than 1,400 warrants for nonviolent crimes. So on Friday, Mosby made her temporary steps permanent. She announced Baltimore City will continue to decline prosecution of all drug possession, prostitution, minor traffic and misdemeanor cases, and will partner with a local behavioral health service to aggressively reach out to drug users, sex workers and people in psychiatric crisis to direct them into treatment rather than the back of a patrol car. [...] 'The officers told me they did not agree with that paradigm shift,' Harrison said. He said he had to 'socialize' both officers and citizens to this new approach. Harrison expected crime to rise. 'It did not,' the chief said. 'It continued to go down through 2020. As a practitioner, as an academic, I can say there's a correlation between the fact that we stopped making these arrests and crime did not go up,' though he cautioned that the coronavirus could have had some impact. Mosby noted that the virus did not keep crime from rising in nearly every other big U.S. city last year."

After hearing an attack on his kind on MSNBC, Matt Taibbi makes the challenge that won't be taken up. "Dear Joe Scarborough: Nice Smear. Now Invite Me To Debate Your Network's Russiagate Coverage: 'Morning Joe' says those who reported on Russia errors are a "joke" and might be "on Russia's payroll." MSNBC should break its four-year freeze-out and invite a skeptic to respond</font>

"New Zealand raises minimum wage to $20 an hour: Taxes on the riches New Zealanders are being raised [...] Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's had promised to raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour (£10.15) and to raise taxes on the wealthiest Kiwis. [...] The new changes also impact the top two percent of earners in New Zealand, those on salaries of over $180,000 (£91,238.87), who will now be taxed by 39 per cent."

For the record, Nathan Robinson won April Fool's Day.

However, Caitlin Johnstone's "Biden Passes Alzheimer's Test With Flying Colors, Silencing Doubters" set the bar pretty high.

"Maryland Moves to Repeal Its Bizarrely Pro-Confederate State Song: If your state's song was written before 1995, there's a very likely chance it's racist as hell. The state legislature in Maryland voted on Monday to repeal its state song, which, as of now, is very pro-Confederate." Sure is.

Juan Cole, "Why the Suez Canal, now blocked, is so Important to the Global Economy and World History [...] The Suez Canal was a dream through history. Anyone who ever traveled from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea overland along that route noticed how short the distance was between the two bodies of water. The ancients talked about it. Napoleon Bonaparte, who invaded Egypt in 1798, talked about it."

"Workplace 'Anti-Racism Trainings' Aren't Helping: Donald Trump hysterically considers it a Marxist plot, but corporate "anti-racism training" isn't a practice that anyone should defend. It doesn't actually combat racism and it helps bosses consolidate their power over employees under a veneer of social justice."

2021 FAAn Awards: Winners

RIP: "Larry McMurtry, 'Lonesome Dove' Novelist and 'Brokeback Mountain' Oscar Winner, Dies at 84 [...] His first published novel, 1961's Horseman, Pass By, set in Texas ranching country, became the 1963 Paramount drama Hud, starring Paul Newman, Melvyn Douglas and Patricia Neal. The movie rights were optioned by Newman and director Martin Ritt's Salem Productions "almost before the last period [was] put on the book," he author said." Terms of Endeasrment made me cry.

RIP: "G. Gordon Liddy, unrepentant Watergate burglar who became talk show host, dies: G. Gordon Liddy, the tough-guy Watergate operative who went to prison rather than testify and later turned his Nixon-era infamy into a successful television and talk show career, has died at age 90. Liddy died Tuesday at his daughter's house in Virginia, his son Thomas P. Liddy told the Associated Press. He did not give a cause of death. While others swept up in the Watergate scandal offered contrition or squirmed in the glare of televised congressional hearings, Liddy seemed to wear the crime like a badge of courage, saying he only regretted that the mission to break into the Democratic National Committee's headquarters had been a failure."

"The Origins of America's Unique and Spectacular Cruelty: What Happens When Societies Don't Invest in Civilizing Themselves? [...] Hence, today, there is almost no sphere or arena of American life in which the values of predatory capitalism don't predominate or monopolize. Because society is made up more or less only of predatory capitalism, only those values can ever be expressed. Not even in, say, media, not healthcare, not education — which, in other rich countries, because they are not run for profit, are arenas in which softer and gentler qualities can be expressed, like decency, reason, dignity, purpose, meaning, belonging, truth, care, mercy."

"The Confederacy was a con job on whites. And still is [...] What the flag symbolizes for blacks is enough reason to take it down. But there's another reason that white southerners shouldn't fly it. Or sport it on our state-issued license plates as some do here in North Carolina. The Confederacy — and the slavery that spawned it — was also one big con job on the Southern, white, working class. A con job funded by some of the ante-bellum one-per-centers, that continues today in a similar form. You don't have to be an economist to see that forcing blacks — a third of the South's laborers — to work without pay drove down wages for everyone else. And not just in agriculture. A quarter of enslaved blacks worked in the construction, manufacturing and lumbering trades; cutting wages even for skilled white workers. Thanks to the profitability of this no-wage/low-wage combination, a majority of American one-per-centers were southerners. Slavery made southern states the richest in the country. The South was richer than any other country except England. But that vast wealth was invisible outside the plantation ballrooms. With low wages and few schools, southern whites suffered a much lower land ownership rate and a far lower literacy rate than northern whites."

"Mark Rudd's Lessons From SDS and the Weather Underground for Today's Radicals: Mark Rudd was Columbia's Students for a Democratic Society chapter president in 1968, when the university erupted in protest against the Vietnam War and racism. He then cofounded the Weather Underground. In an interview with Jacobin, he reflects on what radicals like him got right and got wrong, and what today's socialists should learn from his experiences. [...] But another big mistake that I was directly responsible for was eliminating organizing we had done so much of and substituting it with militancy. The last few months of Columbia SDS, a new faction that I led, the Action Faction, took over the chapter from the Praxis Axis, who were the old red diaper babies who taught us to build the base. But we said, 'No, it's action that's important.' We forgot that it took years to get people to the point where they would join SDS. It doesn't happen suddenly — it happens through building relationships."

"Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century: On a leaked conference call, leaders of dark-money groups and an aide to Mitch McConnell expressed frustration with the popularity of the legislation—even among Republican voters. In public, Republicans have denounced Democrats' ambitious electoral-reform bill, the For the People Act, as an unpopular partisan ploy. In a contentious Senate committee hearing last week, Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, slammed the proposal, which aims to expand voting rights and curb the influence of money in politics, as 'a brazen and shameless power grab by Democrats.' But behind closed doors Republicans speak differently about the legislation, which is also known as House Resolution 1 and Senate Bill 1. They admit the lesser-known provisions in the bill that limit secret campaign spending are overwhelmingly popular across the political spectrum. In private, they concede their own polling shows that no message they can devise effectively counters the argument that billionaires should be prevented from buying elections. A recording obtained by The New Yorker of a private conference call on January 8th, between a policy adviser to Senator Mitch McConnell and the leaders of several prominent conservative groups—including one run by the Koch brothers' network—reveals the participants' worry that the proposed election reforms garner wide support not just from liberals but from conservative voters, too. The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill's provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn't worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress.

"Patent troll IP is more powerful than Apple's. And this is where my revelation came: as it is used in business circles, "IP" has a specific, precise meaning. "IP" means, "Any law, policy or regulation that allows me to control the conduct of my competitors, critics and customers." Copyright, patent and trademark all have limitations and exceptions designed to prevent this kind of control, but if you arrange them in overlapping layers around a product, each one covers the exceptions in the others. Creators don't like having their copyrights called "author's monopolies." Monopolists get to set prices. All the copyright in the world doesn't let an author charge publishers more for their work. The creators have a point. But when author's monopolies are acquired by corporate monopolists, something magical and terrible happens."

From the Department of Lessons Unlearned, "The Bubonic Plague in... San Francisco?"

Creative Random Harris is a new e-book Hansen and Langford have put together of Chuch Harris' writings, on behalf of TAFF.

Art in Motion in Paris

Comic: "The Problem With Powerful People

Jim & Jean, doing Phil Ochs' "Crucifixion", with harmonies.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane

Renee Brown's "Spring Equinox" is from a collection of works by new artists you can find here.

I was in Massachusetts the night the lights went out. I don't remember much about it. I may have been able to read by the moonlight from my window — we had a big full moon that night, as I recall. I don't even remember if the lights were back on by the time I went to bed, but the next morning it was as if it hadn't happened. It was also the only real blackout I've ever experienced, because I moved out of the United States in 1985 and it wasn't until — well, as Greg Palast explains, "Until 1992, the USA had just about the lowest electricity prices in the world and the most reliable system. For a century, power companies had been limited by law to recovering their provable costs plus a 'reasonable,' i.e. small, profit. But in 1992, George H. W. Bush, in the last gasps of his failed presidency, began to deregulate the industry. 'Deregulate' is a misnomer. 'De-criminalize' describes it best. With the 'free market' supposedly setting the price of power, Texas-based Enron was freed to use such techniques as 'Ricochet,' 'Get Shorty,' and 'Death Star' to blow prices through the roof when weather shut down power plants. (This week was not the first game of Texas Gouge'm.)" So you can't even blame Texas voters for what happened to them last month. It goes back way farther than that.

Now we learn what "unity" means to establishment Democrats. "Entire Staff Of Nevada Democratic Party Quits After Democratic Socialist Slate Won Every Seat: The battle between insurgent progressives in Nevada and the Harry Reid machine began building in 2016. NOT LONG AFTER Judith Whitmer won her election on Saturday to become chair of the Nevada Democratic Party, she got an email from the party's executive director, Alana Mounce. The message from Mounce began with a note of congratulations, before getting to her main point. She was quitting. So was every other employee. And so were all the consultants. And the staff would be taking severance checks with them, thank you very much. On March 6, a coalition of progressive candidates backed by the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America took over the leadership of the Nevada Democratic Party, sweeping all five party leadership positions in a contested election that evening. Whitmer, who had been chair of the Clark County Democratic Party, was elected chair. The establishment had prepared for the loss, having recently moved $450,000 out of the party's coffers and into the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's account. The DSCC will put the money toward the 2022 reelection bid of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a vulnerable first-term Democrat. [...] The Left Caucus and DSA organizers ran a slate of candidates for state party leadership under the name 'The NV Dems Progressive Slate.' All but one candidate on the slate was a dues-paying member of a local DSA chapter. The Democratic Party ran candidates on a slate titled 'The Progressive Unity Slate,' playing on a theme they'd been pushing the entire cycle: The groups angling for change from the left were trying to divide the party, they said, while they were trying to save it."

"Moderate Democrats Strip Stimulus Checks From 12 Million Voters for No Reason: For weeks, a handful of moderate Democrats in the Senate have been fighting to prevent $1,400 COVID-relief checks from reaching their own upper-middle-class constituents. It has never been all that clear to the public — or, by all appearances, to the senators themselves — why they wanted to restrict eligibility for these relief payments so badly. [...] Moderates must stop putting their fringe obsessions ahead of the Democratic Party's best interests. Now is not the time to put centrist ideological purity above political pragmatism."

Since Joe Manchin originally said he would oppose nuking the filibuster, he's had to walk it back just a little, saying he wants those who obstruct to have to work for it and put up a real talking filibuster. Biden agrees it should be like the old days when he got into Congress and obstructors at least had to get up and make their case. Much as I think Manchin is just trying to push his brand as the maverick in town, I have always agreed that a real filibuster would be much better than the pretend one that has allowed Republicans to stop everything cold without even having to stand up to do it. Ryan Grim explains the mechanics in "What is a talking filibuster exactly?"

The Daily Poster seems to have added a new feature — for subscribers only, unfortunately, but I find the subscription worthwhile — and for February 26th it was "YOU LOVE TO SEE IT: Biden Nixes Vile Trump Unemployment Rule: Private equity managers could lose their tax dodge, Michigan progressives are on a roll, and Bernie Sanders scores a win for Costco workers.." Bullet points are:
* "Biden Follows Through On His Promise To Expand Unemployment"
* "Democrats' Bill Would Close Tax Loophole For Private Equity"
* "Wall Street Critic Appointed To Pennsylvania Teachers Pension Board"
* "California State Senators Introduce Bill To Ban Fracking"

"This Last-Minute Provision Blocks GOP Govs from Using Stimulus Money to Subsidize Tax Cuts: The American Rescue Plan's $1.9 trillion of spending represents a significant break with the budget-cutting, deficit-obsessed austerity ideology that has held sway since the Reagan Era. But that's not all it does. A provision tucked into the final bill also aims to halt the anti-tax movement that has drained state and local coffers of resources to fund infrastructure, public education, and other basic social services. The language, slipped into the legislation at the last minute by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, is designed to prevent federal money from subsidizing new tax cuts at a moment when some Republican-led states have been considering them."

On the other hand, Biden seems to be using the time-honored method of making sure the good stuff doesn't happen, pretending they can't overrule a procedural advisory and letting a couple of Senators take the heat for standing in the way rather than just leaning on them to vote for $15. "Stop Pretending Biden Is A Powerless Bystander: An LBJ tale debunks Democratic apologists now pretending Biden has no power to try to shift the minimum wage votes of his party's lawmakers. [...] When a Republican is president, Democratic politicians, pundits, and activists will tell you that the presidency is an all-powerful office that can do anything it wants. When a Democrat is president, these same politicians, pundits, and activists will tell you that the presidency has no power to do anything. In fact, they will tell you a Democratic president cannot even use the bully pulpit and other forms of pressure to try to shift the votes of senators in his own party. A tale from history proves this latter myth is complete garbage — and that tale is newly relevant in today's supercharged debate over a $15 minimum wage. In that debate so far, we have seen Democratic senators prepare to surrender the $15 minimum wage their party promised by insisting they are powerless in the face of a non-binding advisory opinion of a parliamentarian they can ignore or fire. "

The New Republic, "The Democrats Are Blocking a $15 Minimum Wage: Not Republicans. Not the Senate parliamentarian. Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and even Joe Biden are to blame for squandering their party's majority power. "

This clip discusses the office politics behind Democrats voting to tank $15.

"Purging Inconvenient Facts in Coverage of Biden's 'First' Air Attacks: The pretense that the US defended itself by carrying out last week's airstrikes also necessitates glossing over the fact that the country Washington actually bombed, Syria, is accused of neither sponsoring nor carrying out the rocket attacks on American bases in Iraq that should not be there in the first place."

"The Sovietization of the American Press: The transformation from phony "objectivity" to open one-party orthodoxy hasn't been an improvement [...] The breadth of his stimulus suggests a real change from the Obama years, while hints that this administration wants to pick a unionization fight with Amazon go against every tendency of Clintonian politics. But it's hard to know what much of it means, because coverage of Biden increasingly resembles official press releases, often featuring embarrassing, Soviet-style contortions. When Biden decided not to punish Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi on the grounds that the 'cost' of 'breaching the relationship with one of America's key Arab allies' was too high, the New York Times headline read: 'Biden Won't Penalize Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi's Killing, Fearing Relations Breach.' When Donald Trump made the same calculation, saying he couldn't cut ties because 'the world is a very dangerous place' and 'our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,' the paper joined most of the rest of the press corps in howling in outrage."

"New Massachusetts Rules Would Eliminate Handwritten Letters in Prison: 'Paper mail is precious,' Black and Pink Massachusetts Communications and Outreach Coordinator Elijah Patterson testified on January 29 against rules proposed by the Massachusetts Department of Correction (MADOC). The rules would, if approved, formally substitute physical mail for an electronic, scanned copy or photocopy through a third-party vendor." I have to jump in here to express my annoyance at seeing this misuse of "substitute for" that reverses direction, which I have been seeing more and more often. They want to substitute copies or electronic mail for real, hard mail. Which is, of course, outrageous, especially since "third party vendor" probably means they will charge prisoners still more to receive mail. This act of cruelty is being defended on the grounds that it might reduce contraband being smuggled in through the mails, although it seems clear that such materials are coming not through the mail, but via staff.

"A Quiet Return to Government for an Obama-Era Labor Official: Seth Harris, who co-authored an early blueprint of what Uber and Lyft would adopt in California's Prop 22, is back in the White House in a labor policy position. The Biden administration likes to send press releases about new hires. I have been emailed information about the new head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, members of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, the senior director for building emissions at the Council on Environmental Quality, the legislative affairs director for the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the deputy social secretary for the Office of the First Lady, and much more. I think I know the name of everyone who works in the West Wing at this point. But one new White House staffer in a fairly critical issue area had not received this honorific—until I asked the White House questions about it."

Left Reckoning has a discussion of Jackson Water & Ecuador's Election (Pink Tide Returns?) ft. Austin Gonzalez for those of us who are getting insufficient illumination from The Newspapers of Record.

Gaius Publius, now writing under his own name, Thomas Neuburger, has started his own Substack, God's Spies. He's one of the smarter analysts around and, luckily, you can check it out for free and subscribe if you want to.

And Caitlin Johnstone also has a Substack, Caitlin's Newsletter, with interesting pieces like "There's Only One News Story, Repeating Over And Over Again."

David Dayen, "First 100: Whatever Happened to Executive Action? Frustration with the legislative process is inevitable. But there's a work-around. The news broke while I was writing yesterday's edition that the Senate was changing the eligibility rules for direct payments in the American Rescue Plan. The dirty details are here. Everyone making up to $75,000 (individuals) and $150,000 (couples) still gets the full $1,400 check; instead of phasing out fully by $100,000/$200,000, it phases out by $80,000/$160,000. This is bad policy and politics, as Eric Levitz and Jordan Weissman explain. It saves a minuscule $12 billion yet angers a particular group of upper-middle class people whose socioeconomic status matches that of the political journalists who will report on this. The last time we had that dynamic was 2015, when Democrats tried to kill and then quickly retreated on 529 savings plans for college education. This means nothing to the federal government and everything to people affected. [...] There are two reasons to focus on executive action. First, base motivation: the slow grind of the legislative process will wear down supporters (particularly once Biden runs out of reconciliation bills), while progress can still be made under existing law. Second, policy matters: the reason to do this stuff is because it would help people."

This would be a nice start: "Reps Would Have to Resign From Corporate Boards Under Democrats' Ethics Bill: At least 15 House reps currently sit on the boards of private companies. Republican Doug LaMalfa, who represents California's First Congressional District, is a member of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and is the chief sponsor of a bill that would eliminate the 12 percent excise tax on the sale of heavy trucks, tractors, and trailers. According to the findings section of the bill, the tax adds between $12,000 and $22,000 to the cost of a heavy truck, tractor, or trailer. While he promotes his bill and deals with related issues on the Transportation Committee, LaMalfa is simultaneously CEO of family business LaMalfa Trucking, a position that is uncompensated according to the representative's financial disclosure. As blatantly conflicted as it may seem for LaMalfa to push legislation that would benefit his family business, there is very little stopping House members from using their public offices to further their private business interests. The House ethics rules say that members should not use their positions to make pecuniary gains, but the Ethics manual states that legislation that benefits a whole class or group of businesses—for example, trucking companies—is exempted from the conflict-of-interest restrictions." I still think they should have to completely divest.

"Arkansas governor signs near-total abortion ban into law: LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Tuesday signed into law legislation banning nearly all abortions in the state, a sweeping measure that supporters hope will force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its landmark Roe v. Wade decision but opponents vow to block before it takes effect later this year. The Republican governor had expressed reservations about the bill, which only allows the procedure to save the life of the mother and does not provide exceptions for those impregnated in an act of rape or incest. Arkansas is one of at least 14 states where legislators have proposed outright abortion bans this year."

It's really rare to see someone who is pro-death penalty admit that an innocent person is about to be executed, but here's one. "As a former Alabama attorney general, I do not say this lightly: An innocent man is on our death row: I have long believed that some crimes are so horrendous as to demand the penalty of death. As the attorney general of Alabama in the 1970s, I led the effort to bring back Alabama's death penalty after the U.S. Supreme Court ended capital punishment nationwide in 1972. As a lifelong defender of the death penalty, I do not lightly say what follows: An innocent man is trapped on Alabama's death row."

"$15 minimum wage would lift millions out of poverty, says ... Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley: Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour would deliver sizable benefits to low-wage workers and lift millions of people in the U.S. out of poverty while having little impact—positive or negative—on employment levels. So says a new report assembled not by a progressive advocacy organization or a left-leaning think tank, but Wall Street titan Morgan Stanley, which found in a 75-page analysis that—contrary to the GOP's branding of the proposed $15-an-hour federal minimum wage as a job-killer—"the wealth of research points to no definitive conclusion on the impact higher wages have on employment." "However," the report adds, "it is evident that the impact to employment... would be minimal, while the social benefits to lifting real wages of lower-income earners and millions out of poverty are substantial."

"UN Rebuke of US Sanctions on Venezuela Met With Stunning Silence [...] Many Western journalists, however, appear not to have seen these overt declarations of collective punishment against the Venezuelan population—a crime against humanity under Article 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, according to former UN Expert Alfred de Zayas. Loath to abandon belief in the fundamentally benign nature of Western foreign policy, corporate scribes have typically presented the devastating effects of sanctions as a mere accusation of Nicolás Maduro. 'Maduro...said US sanctions were hurting his administration's ability to buy medicines and foodstuffs' was the next-to-last paragraph of a Guardian piece (3/17/20) on Covid in Venezuela whose subhead read, 'Continuing chaotic situation under Nicolás Maduro leaves hospitals and health services desperately unprepared.' Often, they fail to mention sanctions at all. In June 2019, for instance, the Guardian's Tom Phillips reported that 'more than 4 million Venezuelans have now fled economic and humanitarian chaos,' citing would-be coup leader Juan Guaidó's claim that the country's economic collapse 'was caused by the corruption of this regime,' without making any reference to Washington's campaign of economic warfare. Keeping with tradition, Douhan's damning report has been met with stunning silence by establishment media outlets. Neither the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post nor BBC reported on Douhan's findings, leaving the task primarily to alternative media (Venezuelanalysis, 2/15/21; Canary, 2/13/21). (CNN—2/13/21—had an exceptional report focused on the UN report, which noted Douhan's statement that sanctions 'constitute violations of international law.')"

"Basic Income as a Policy Lever: Can UBI Reduce Crime?? [...] Such results raise the question of what the broader impacts of a basic income might be. In a recent working paper, I explore one aspect of this question, examining the extent to which the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend affected crime. This Dividend has, since 1982, provided an annual no-strings-attached payment to all Alaskan residents. Its amount has varied considerably year-on-year since it was introduced, as shown in Figure 1."

Glenn Greenwald's "Congressional Testimony: The Leading Activists for Online Censorship Are Corporate Journalists: A hearing of the House Subcommittee focused on anti-trust and monopoly abuses examines the role of the corporate media in these growing pathologies. There are not many Congressional committees regularly engaged in substantive and serious work — most are performative — but the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law is an exception. Led by its chairman Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and ranking member Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), it is, with a few exceptions, composed of lawmakers whose knowledge of tech monopolies and anti-trust law is impressive. In October, the Committee, after a sixteen-month investigation, produced one of those most comprehensive and informative reports by any government body anywhere in the world about the multi-pronged threats to democracy posed by four Silicon Valley monopolies: Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. The 450-page report also proposed sweeping solutions, including ways to break up these companies and/or constrain them from controlling our political discourse and political life. That report merits much greater attention and consideration than it has thus far received. [...] While I share the ostensible motive behind the bill — to stem the serious crisis of bankruptcies and closings of local news outlets — I do not believe that this bill will end up doing that, particularly because it empowers the largest media outlets such as The New York Times and MSNBC to dominate the process and because it does not even acknowledge, let alone address, the broader problems plaguing the news industry, including collapsing trust by the public (a bill that limited this anti-trust exemption to small local news outlets so as to allow them to bargain collectively with tech companies in their own interest would seem to me to serve the claimed purpose much better than one which empowers media giants to form a negotiating cartel). But the broader context for the bill is the one most interesting and the one on which I focused in my opening statement and testimony: namely, the relationship between social media and tech giants on the one hand, and the news media industry on the other. Contrary to the popular narrative propagated by news outlets — in which they are cast as the victims of the supremely powerful Silicon Valley giants — that narrative is sometimes (not always, but sometimes) the opposite of reality: much if not most Silicon Valley censorship of political speech emanates from pressure campaigns led by corporate media outlets and their journalists, demanding that more and more of their competitors and ideological adversaries be silenced. Big media, in other words, is coopting the power of Big Tech for their own purposes."

From the Gravel Institute, an explanation of how the richest country in the world is in many ways the poorest, "David Cross: Why America Sucks at Everything"

On the one hand, we have Scott Lemieux dunking on a prof for "reprehensible" statements, with an approving link from Atrios. On the other hand, we have John McWhorter asking a few questions, "So there was a law professor at Georgetown who was a racist. And now she's gone, but wait -- what do we mean by 'racist' these days? And why am I a heretic to even ask the question and want real answers?"

I'd almost forgotten Maureen Dowd was out there, but yeah, it's funny how establishment journalists (like, for example, Maureen Dowd) think we criticize them because we don't understand what reporting is. Particularly when one of our main complaints is that they think "reporting" is telling us what's going on inside their well-protected minds. "What a mess — Maureen Dowd lectures liberals about the press: Anxious to engage in Both Sides whitewashing of journalism failures from the Trump era, some prominent journalists are lashing out at liberals for having the nerve to criticize news coverage of the Biden White House. Leading the defensive charge is New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who penned a condescending harangue over the weekend, claiming liberals are hypocrites for finding fault with the press when a Democrat is in the Oval Office." (I don't know why Eric is still stuck on the Russiagate story, but he's right about this much.)

"'Voting With Your Dollars' Is an Antidemocratic Illusion: The notion that we can change the world by 'voting with our dollars' has become popular among progressives. But it's a fundamentally antidemocratic idea that has more in common with libertarianism than egalitarian politics. Free to Choose, published in 1980 by Milton and Rose Friedman, is a clear and concise introduction to a whole series of reactionary economic arguments. If you're a socialist who wants to understand what the enemy thinks, it's a good place to start. In one crucial passage, the libertarian duo argues that we can exercise more power through consumer decisions than through political action. [...] We vote with our feet when we go on strike. We vote with our votes when we participate in elections. When we 'don't buy' from some companies, we aren't voting with anything —and the idea that we do is an unhelpful distraction from strategies that can actually empower democratic majorities. Don't buy it."

"Aaugh! A Brief List Of Official Russia Claims That Proved To Be Bogus: The Director of National Intelligence releases a report, and the press rushes to kick the football again. [...] With regard to the broader assessment: how many times are we going to do this? We've spent the last five years watching as anonymous officials make major Russia-related claims, only to have those evidence-free claims fizzle."

The Onion, "Facebook Announces Plan To Break Up U.S. Government Before It Becomes Too Powerful: MENLO PARK, CA—In an effort to curtail the organization's outsized influence, Facebook announced Monday that it would be implementing new steps to ensure the breakup of the U.S. government before it becomes too powerful. 'It's long past time for us to take concrete actions against this behemoth of governance that has gone essentially unchecked since its inception,' said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, noting that while the governing body may have begun with good intentions, its history showed a culture of recklessness and a dangerous disregard for the consequences of its decisions. 'Unfortunately, those at the top have been repeatedly contemptuous of the very idea of accountability or reform, and our only remaining course is to separate the government into smaller chunks to prevent it from forming an even stronger monopoly over the public.' Zuckerberg closed his remarks with repeated assurances that despite a likely legal battle ahead, no one government could stand up to the fortitude of Facebook."

RIP: "Carla Wallenda, high-wire artist with famous Flying Wallendas, dies aged 85. She was the last of the original group, and continued to perform into her 70s. One of the few members of the family not to fall to their deaths, she died of natural causes.

1918 was a different country. "Your Old Radiator Is a Pandemic-Fighting Weapon: Turn-of-the-century faith in ventilation to combat disease pushed engineers to design steam heating systems that still overheat apartments today. [...] Health officials thought (correctly) that fresh air would ward off airborne diseases; then as now, cities rushed to move activities outdoors, from schools to courtrooms. When winter came, the need for fresh air didn't abate. According to Holohan's research, the Board of Health in New York City ordered that windows should remain open to provide ventilation, even in cold weather. In response, engineers began devising heating systems with this extreme use case in mind. Steam heating and radiators were designed to heat buildings on the coldest day of the year with all the windows open. Anybody who's thrown their windows open in January, when their apartment is stifling, is, in an odd way, replicating what engineers hoped would happen a century ago."

Are DNA ancestry tests as good as astrology? "Twins get 'mystifying' DNA ancestry test results"

"A Beginner's Guide to Stargazing might come in handy if you've got kids to entertain.

"Edward Gorey's Illustrated Covers for Literary Classics: Between 1953 and 1960, before he was a household name as the master of the cutely macabre, Edward Gorey worked as a book designer and illustrator for Doubleday Anchor. During his tenure, he designed some fifty book covers (and in some cases, drew inside illustrations) for their new paperback series, which was aimed at 'serious' readers and students."

The FANAC YouTube stream now has all four parts of John D. Berry's interview of Ted White posted.

Movie Night: If someone had described The Losers to me, I probably wouldn't have been that interested, but since no one did describe it to me I watched it and thought it was fun. Based on the Vertigo title, it has a rather tidy way of handling violence that I don't expect in action-adventure flicks these days; even the nasty precipitating event doesn't make you look at the blood and gore, and screen time isn't wasted with a lot of punch-ups. A fine acting line-up of some old favorites (Idris Elba and Jeffrey Dean Morgan don't hurt), and some room for Chris Evans to strut his acting stuff in ways he doesn't get as Captain America.

"Lots of us learned classical music from watching old cartoons, so I'm going to identify the pieces that frequently popped up."

Little did I know that the "Trina" referred to in Joni Mitchell's "Ladies of the Canyon" was our old pal Trina Robbins. (You can listen to that here.)

"NASA named the Perseverance rover's landing spot for Octavia E. Butler, the pioneering Black science-fiction author: Though they starred aliens, vampires and time travelers, Octavia E. Butler's celebrated science-fiction novels were often grounded on Earth. Her name and enduring legacy, though, have made it as far as the Red Planet millions of miles away. For her pioneering work in the world of sci-fi, NASA named the site on Mars where the Perseverance rover touched down 'Octavia E. Butler Landing.'"

Moshe Feder says, "The future of jazz is in good hands. These kids are amazing."
Nord Live Sessions: DOMi & JD Beck - Sniff

Some nice photography in "The Hebrides' wild swimming 'real-life' mermaid".

What were their names? Lance Canales & The Flood give them back in this video of "Plane Wreck At Los Gatos (Deportee)" — "In 1948, a plane carrying 32 passengers crashed in the Los Gatos Canyon, California killing everyone on board. The media, including the New York Times, listed the names of the pilots, the flight attendant and the immigration guard but all 28 of the migrant workers (braceros) were labeled as deportees. This angered folk singer Woody Gutherie who wrote a poem about the crash. Almost ten years later, school teacher Martin Hoffman composed a melody to Gutherie's poem and that song became well known with covers by the likes of Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and many more. Around 2010 Central Valley writer Tim Z. Hernandez discovered the story and soon began a project of finding the names and surviving relatives. Soon after musician Lance Canales joined the journey and composed his own version of the legendary song with Hernandez reading all the names of the deceased workers. Thanks to a fundraiser spearheaded by the two artist a new head stone has been built in the Holy Cross honoring all 32 passengers. The search is still on for any relatives of the braceros, if you are related to one please contact Tim Z. Hernandez:"

Thursday, February 25, 2021

I want to shake your hand

Debbie Heyer's "Alien Eggs" (New Mexico Badlands) is one of those featured in "The Best Milky Way Photographers of the Year Show the Beauty of Our Galaxy."

I just haven't had the heart. The weeks pass and instead of the $2000 checks that were explicitly promised to "go out the door immediately" during the Georgia Senate campaign, Democrats now pretend that "$2000 checks immediately" was really just "$1400 sometime in the spring, possibly for some means-tested groups." The promised $15 minimum wage is, according to Biden, unlikely to happen. And will he deliver on relief for student debt? Maybe a little bit will be canceled, with a lot of means-testing, but certainly not enough. Bear in mind that the people stopping all of these things are Democrats. Biden could cancel all student debt without Congress' agreement right now. Joe Manchin wants to be the important deciding vote in abolishing the Democratic agenda and stopping $15 — and Biden doesn't seem to want to lean on him about it. Mitch McConnell is not in a position to make Senate rules anymore. It's almost as if the Democrats decided to get started early depressing Democratic turnout in the mid-terms.

Lee Carter does it again: "Virginia all but certain to become first southern state to abolish death penalty: State house's vote makes abolition assured, a historically important step since capital punishment emerged from the south as a legal alternative to lynching [...] The vote in the Democrat-controlled house by 57 votes to 41 makes abolition assured. Virginia's governor, Ralph Northam, has made clear that he will sign the abolition bill, though procedural niceties are likely to delay that final step until April. The decision to scrap the death penalty in Virginia is hugely significant on a number of levels. The commonwealth is now set to become the 23rd state in the union to turn its back on capital punishment, having been the first in the nation to carry out an execution — in 1608 it put to death Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony for spying for Spain. [...] Between 1800 and 1920, Virginia executed 625 black and 58 white people. In the more contemporary era, between 1900 and 1969 the state put to death 68 men for rape or attempted rape. In every one of those cases the prisoners who were killed mainly in the electric chair were black. No white man was ever executed in Virginia for rape or attempted rape. Two men remain on Virginia's death row, Anthony Juniper, 50, and Thomas Porter, 46. Should abolition be enacted, they would have their death sentences commuted to life in prison with no chance of parole." Virginia has actually executed more people than Texas has.

"Illinois Becomes 1st State To Eliminate Cash Bail: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill Monday that makes Illinois the first state in the country to abolish cash bail payments for jail release for people who have been arrested and are waiting for their case to be heard. The practice has long been controversial with criminal justice reform advocates who call cash bail a "poor people's tax" that has had a disproportionately negative impact on people of color. It leaves those who can't come up with the money in jail for weeks or longer or even accepting plea deals as a way to get out."

"The Supreme Court just made an important and promising shift on qualified immunity in a case called McCoy v. Alamu — although they did it so quietly that you wouldn't notice if you didn't look closely. Here's the scoop, in a thread..."

"LETTER FROM LONDON: The Matter of Assange's Lawyers Considering a Cross Appeal: Julian Assange's lawyers are considering bringing a cross appeal to the High Court in London disputing parts of District Judge Vanessa Baraitser's Jan. 4 judgment not to extradite Assange to the United States, according to a report by journalist Tareq Haddad. Baraitser refused the U.S. request on narrow grounds, saying Assange's extradition would put his life and health at risk. But Baraitser sided with the U.S. on every other point of law and fact, making it clear that in the absence of the life and health issues she would have granted the U.S. request. That opens the way for the U.S. government to seek the extradition of other persons, including journalists, who do the same things as Assange did, but who cannot rely on the same life and health issues. It also means that if the U.S. wins the appeal it filed last Friday in High Court it can try Assange in the U.S. on the Espionage Act charges that went unchallenged by Baraitser. If Assange's lawyers counter the U.S. appeal with one of their own in the High Court against Baraitser's upholding of the espionage charges, it would be heard simultaneously with the U.S. appeal."

Amazon sues New York to claim immunity from state COVID-19 safety regulations: On Friday, Amazon filed a lawsuit in federal district court against New York state attorney general Letitia James, claiming that the company is not subject to 'state oversight' and is not required to comply with New York's workplace health and safety laws and regulations as they relate to the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit is a display of boundless arrogance befitting a conglomerate controlled by one of the world's richest megabillionaires, Jeff Bezos. Amazon's legal theory is that it is not required to comply with New York safety laws or regulations because those are allegedly superseded or 'preempted' by more lenient federal regulations. Until recently, the federal regulations at issue were promulgated by the Republican Trump administration, which ferociously opposed any measure that would protect workers' lives at the expense of corporate profits. This policy has been continued in all essential respects by the new Democratic Biden administration, which is currently engaged in an intensifying campaign to reopen schools, carried over without interruption from the Trump administration. Schools are known to contribute dramatically to the spread of the deadly virus."

"Nevada bill would allow tech companies to create governments: CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Planned legislation to establish new business areas in Nevada would allow technology companies to effectively form separate local governments. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a plan to launch so-called Innovation Zones in Nevada to jumpstart the state's economy by attracting technology firms, Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday. The zones would permit companies with large areas of land to form governments carrying the same authority as counties, including the ability to impose taxes, form school districts and courts and provide government services. The measure to further economic development with the 'alternative form of local government' has not yet been introduced in the Legislature. Sisolak pitched the concept in his State of the State address delivered Jan. 19. The plan would bring in new businesses at the forefront of 'groundbreaking technologies' without the use of tax abatements or other publicly funded incentive packages that previously helped Nevada attract companies like Tesla Inc. Sisolak named Blockchains, LLC as a company that had committed to developing a 'smart city' in an area east of Reno after the legislation has passed. The draft proposal said the traditional local government model is 'inadequate alone' to provide the resources to make Nevada a leader in attracting and retaining businesses and fostering economic development in emerging technologies and industries."

Chicagoans voted for a black lesbian mayor and got Rahm Emanuel, Jr., who gave the Covid funding to the police, mishandled the summer's civil unrest, and canceled police accountability. And that's just the headlines for one day.

Great news! "The White House Doesn't Want To Hear From Larry Summers: How Obama's chief economic advisor ended up on the wrong side of the Biden administration Economist Larry Summers has been the kingpin of every economic calamity Democrats have weathered over the last three decades. But Barack Obama's National Economic Council chair during the Great Recession finds himself as persona non grata this week after penning an op-ed undermining the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package President Joe Biden is trying to push through Congress. Summers' treatise spread from wonk to wonk in the White House with the contagion of a venereal disease—and was about as well-received. One aide characterized the response as 'widespread disagreement.' White House economists had already been booked for media hits to discuss the January jobs report, airtime that permitted many administration voices to rebuke Summers in unison."

"Summers turn to fall: For the first major legislative effort of his presidency, Joe Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package, partly made up of billions in state and local aid, billions more for vaccine production and distribution, and direct checks to tens of millions of people, to honor his campaign promise. A group of Republicans countered with their own plan, suggesting he cut it down by more than two thirds. In exchange they'd support the bill and give him the 60 votes he'd need to end a filibuster by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Then something strange happened. Biden met with the Republicans, heard them out, and said no. Democrats have no desire to relive the hell that was 2009. Back then, Republicans strung Democrats along, sometimes for months, only to ditch them at the last minute or, as they did with Obama's stimulus, make it too small to do the job effectively. [...] (The one exception appears to be Larry Summers. The former Obama adviser played a key role in arguing for a smaller stimulus in 2009, and is doing so again, but this time, Biden wisely kept him out of the White House, and people there, up to and including Biden, are flatly rejecting his advice.)"

"Lies, Damn Lies, And Fact Checking: Jeff Bezos's newspaper is weaponizing fact checking to slander Bernie Sanders and defend GOP tax cuts that enrich billionaires and Amazon. Democracy dies in darkness. Jeff Bezos this week announced that he is stepping down from his job running Amazon in order to focus more on his other assets, including the Washington Post. Less than 24 hours later, his newspaper's chief 'fact checker' Glenn Kessler published a screed attacking Bezos's highest-profile political opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, for mentioning that Donald Trump's 2017 tax law benefited rich people and large corporations. This might seem like a simple example of a pundit knowing exactly who pays his salary, but in this case, the pundit in question has his own axe to grind. Kessler is the scion of a fossil fuel baron, which means he has an interest in defending tax cuts that were a particularly big financial windfall for oil companies, including the one linked to his family, according to Kessler's own newspaper."

"A majority of the people arrested for Capitol riot had a history of financial trouble: Trail of bankruptcies, tax problems and bad debts raises questions for researchers trying to understand motivations for attack. [...] 'I think what you're finding is more than just economic insecurity but a deep-seated feeling of precarity about their personal situation,' said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a political science professor who helps run the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University, reacting to The Post's findings. 'And that precarity — combined with a sense of betrayal or anger that someone is taking something away — mobilized a lot of people that day.'"

"Malcolm X family demands reopening of murder investigation: The daughters of assassinated US black civil rights leader Malcolm X have requested that the murder investigation be reopened in light of new evidence. They cite a deathbed letter from a man who was a policeman at the time of the 1965 killing, alleging New York police and the FBI conspired in the murder. Raymond Wood wrote his responsibility was to ensure Malcolm X's security team were arrested days before he was shot dead in Manhattan, his family says."

"The Murder of Malcolm X: There was nothing J. Edgar Hoover feared more than a charismatic black radical who could inspire the oppressed to fight back. And that's why, according to a compelling new series, the FBI had its fingerprints all over Malcolm X's murder."

RIP: Anne Feeney, legendary Pittsburgh folk singer and political activist, dies at 69 [...] Born in Charleroi and raised in Brookline, Feeney took early inspiration from her grandfather, William Patrick Feeney, a mine worker's union organizer and a violinist. In 1967, while still in high school, she bought a Martin guitar and did her first public performance, singing Phil Ochs songs, at an anti-war rally in 1969. She was arrested at the Republican National Convention in Miami in 1972 protesting the nomination of President Richard Nixon."

RIP: "Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and founder of City Lights bookshop, dies aged 101: Poet and countercultural pioneer put on trial for publishing Allen Ginsberg's Howl went on to become a beloved icon of San Francisco." He was important to us for a lot of reasons, just aside from the poetry, of course. I've often joked that I was once kicked out of bed by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, but what really happened was that Martin Luther King had been shot, our neighbors warned us that it might not be safe to stick around on Kalorama Road, and Mark Estrin had volunteered his digs for the night — until Ferlinghetti unexpectedly arrived in the middle of the night and Mark woke us all up and drove our entire household up to my parents' place to give Ferlinghetti room. Bookstore owner, hero of free speech, and the author of "Christ Climbed Down" along with a lot of other things — what's not to like?

RIP: Mary Wilson of the Supremes: "Although she had to wait more than a decade before taking the lead on one of their hit singles, Mary Wilson was the force that held the Supremes together through the episodes of tragedy and internal strife that marked the history of the most successful female pop group of the 1960s. Having endured the removal of one original member, the troubled Florence Ballard, and the defection of another, Diana Ross, to solo stardom, Wilson — who has died aged 76 — worked with their replacements to keep the group's name going." Here she is leading on "Come And Get These Memories".

RIP: "Christopher Plummer, Sound of Music star and oldest actor to win an Oscar, dies aged 91." Just the other night I was watching him in The Return of the Pink Panther. Of course, he gets a genre credit for the Star Trek movie, but most of us knew him first as that guy who didn't like Nazis. Classy guy.

RIP: "Allan Burns: Munsters and Mary Tyler Moore Show creator dies aged 85." Munsters, MTM, Lou Grant, Rhoda, Capn Crunch, Rocky & Bullwinkle - he had a hand in all of them. and also Room 222, a show I'd completely forgotten about until I saw it mentioned in one of his obits and realized I couldn't remember anything about it, so I watched the first episode and thought, wow, this is so strange, I recognize the music, the actors, the characters and their mannerisms (though not their names), but I really don't remember the show. Did I actually watch this thing?

RIP: "Chick Corea, Jazz Pianist Who Expanded the Possibilities of the Genre, Dead at 79: Keyboardist helped Miles Davis usher in the fusion revolution and founded his own game-changing groups, including Return to Forever Chick Corea, the virtuosic keyboardist who broadened the scope of jazz during a career spanning more than five decades, died on Tuesday from a rare form of cancer. A post on his Facebook page confirmed the news. Corea was 79. [...] In the early Sixties, Corea established himself as an A-list pianist, working with Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, and others. Later in the decade, he joined Miles Davis' band and played a key role in helping the trumpeter make the transition to a more contemporary, plugged-in sound on albums like Bitches Brew. Following his work with Davis, he formed his own groundbreaking electric band, Return to Forever, which played some of the most vibrant and dynamic music of the fusion era. In the ensuing decades, Corea threw himself into countless projects, showing off his limitless range — from a refined duo with vibraphonist Gary Burton to his trendsetting Elektric Band. His most recent album, the 2020 live solo disc Plays, showed off his wildly diverse skill set and body of influences, touching on classical pieces, bebop, and more."

RIP: "Bernard Lown, Inventive Heart Doctor and Antiwar Activist, Dies at 99: He created the first effective heart defibrillator and co-founded a physicians group that campaigned against nuclear war, earning a Nobel Peace Prize. [...] While the organization insisted that it had no tilt toward Moscow or Washington and that it regarded atomic war as the ultimate public health disaster that would overwhelm modern medicine, conservative Western critics called its leaders naïve, maintaining that its work played into the hands of Soviet propagandists."

RIP: "Hustler founder and free-speech activist Larry Flynt dies aged 78." I gotta say, I enjoyed seeing him win those lawsuits, but I don't really have much else to say about this.

ROT IN PERDITION: Rush Limbaugh, 70, after decades of filling the airwaves with lies and hate and helping to destroy society in America. Atrios greeted the event with the same words Limbaugh used upon the death of Jerry Garcia: "Just Another Dead Doper." "Point/Counterpoint: Rush Limbaugh" is spot on, too.

"How the Right Won a Postwar Counterrevolution in Economics: The Great Depression thoroughly discredited laissez-faire economics. But over the postwar decades, with the help of generous business funding and political connections, figures like Milton Friedman led a remarkable revival of nineteenth-century economic ideas. They did it by adopting a pseudo-populist rhetoric that celebrated individual choice and autonomy."

"White Fragility Gets Jackie Robinson's Story Wrong: Robin DiAngelo's best-selling book sells a misguided view of baseball integration to her readers and corporate clients. [...] Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey picked Robinson—who grew up in Pasadena and was a four-sport athlete at UCLA—because of his outstanding athleticism and his strong religious faith, college education, and experiences living and playing with white people outside of the South. But anyone with the slightest knowledge of baseball knows that there were Black ballplayers in the Negro Leagues who were as good or better than Robinson when he broke the sport's color line. Moreover, DiAngelo's account entirely omits the protest movement which made it possible for Robinson, and then other Black players, to play in the majors. In DiAngelo's telling, Robinson couldn't play 'before being granted permission by white owners.' This is like saying that women were 'granted' the right to vote by men, instead of acknowledging that women 'won' the vote after decades of movement activism—including lobbying, rallies, public awareness campaigns, and civil disobedience."

"$50T moved from America's 90% to the 1%: Inequality requires narrative stabilizers. When you have too little and someone else has more than they can possibly use, simple logic dictates that you should take what they have. The forbearance exercised by the many when it comes to the wealth of the few isn't down to guards or laws — rather, the laws and the guards are effective because of the story, the story of why this is fair, even inevitable. Think of the story of monarchy and its relationship to the Church: the Church affirms that the monarch (and the aristocracy) was chosen by God ("dieu et mon droit") and the monarchy reciprocates by giving the Church moral and economic power within the kingdom. Capitalism replaced the story of divine will with a story of a self-correcting complex system: humans are born and raised with a variety of aptitudes and tastes, and at any moment, historical exigencies dictate that some individuals are better suited than others to do well."

Cory Doctorow found a gem in his pile of books to be read, and provides an enthusiastic review of Claire Evans' "Broadband [...] I have read a lot of histories of computing, and I had a front row seat for a lot of the events depicted in this book — people I worked with, people I worked against — and yet I was surprised over and over again with details and perspectives I'd never encountered. For example, for some reason, my ninth grade computer science course included lengthy readings on ENIAC, Univac, the Mark I and the Mark II, but none of those mentioned that they were all programmed exclusively or primarily by women. And Evans doesn't just explain this fact, but — because she is a brilliant and lyrical writer — she brings these women to life, turns them into fully formed characters, makes you see and feel their life stories, frustrations and triumphs."

"How The US Legalized Corruption: If you give an American politician $100,000, it's a bribe. If you pay them the same amount for lunch, however, that's a fundraiser. If you wire the incoming Treasury Secretary $1,000,000 that's a bribe. If you put her in front of a lectern, however, it's a speaking fee. Forgive me if I don't understand. White people sure have funny words for bribes."

"These 5 U.S. Towns Are Powered Entirely By Renewable Energy [...] Over the past decade, five locations ? Aspen, Colorado; Greensburg, Kansas; Burlington, Vermont; Kodiak Island, Alaska; and Rock Port, Missouri ? have successfully made the switch to 100 percent renewables."

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine accidentally predicted the 2020s by writing about the 1990s: Income inequality, homelessness, and other social ills of the 2020s — predicted by TV writers looking out their windows in 1995."

Who knew when we got lost in those twisty little passages that we were walking the map of a real cave? "This Woman Inspired One of the First Hit Video Games by Mapping the World's Longest Cave: Patricia Crowther's ex-husband coded her cave maps into one of the first hit adventure games in the 1970s, and she had no idea."

Explore the Bayeux Tapestry online.

"The Beatles as Lesbians" (illustrated).

The Beatles on The Morecambe And Wise Show

Cool Snow sculpture

Comic strip: Milk & Cheese

Eric Clapton & Friends live, "Miss You"

Bet you weren't expecting bluegrass from me, but this is good, and the lyrics fit right in.
Billy Strings, "Watch It Fall"

Anne Feeney, "Have You Been to Jail for Justice?"

Thursday, February 4, 2021

What a way to make a livin'

Hedge-funders are some of the vilest, most destructive people alive and what they do should never have been legal. It's been nice to see them exposed over the last week. Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect, "What We've Learned From the Robinhood Affair: Let's put parasitic speculators out of business. How about a lead role for Joe Biden's most progressive former top aide, Ted Kaufman? The stock speculation scandal dominating the front pages vividly reveals what critics of extreme financialization have been saying for decades. All of this hyper-trading produces no benefits to the real economy. It creates and then pops financial bubbles, roils markets, harms actual businesses, enriches insiders at the expense of bona fide investors, and leads to extreme concentration of wealth. One of the most astute critics happens to be Ted Kaufman, who was Joe Biden's longtime chief of staff and then spent two years in the Senate filling out Biden's term in 2009 and 2010. Sen. Kaufman emerged as one of the key leaders on the Dodd-Frank bill, and specifically championed reforms of the kinds of issues that have emerged in this scandal, like high-frequency trading. Kaufman has no official role in the Biden administration, other than as part of the kitchen cabinet. But he did lead the Biden transition, and my sources say that the relatively progressive cast of Biden's key financial regulatory appointments reflects Kaufman's continuing counsel. One can hope that he will be chosen to make his voice heard on needed financial reforms going forward. Rather like the New Deal—era Pecora Commission investigating Wall Street's runaway speculation and predatory practices, this time we could have a Kaufman Commission." With Gensler and Yellen on hand, this is a great moment to finally turn back deregulation that's been a big part of destroying our economy. Oh, but wait....

Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper talked Gamestop with David Dayen.

Ana Kasparian and Nando Villa did a decent break-down of the Gamestop story as well as a tutorial on the filibuster and a fine interview with Jeremy Corbyn.

Useful interview with the Roosevelt Institute's economics guy on The Majority Report, "America's Fight with the Invisible Hand w/ Mike Konczal - MR Live - 1/27/21."

"They Pledged to Donate Rights to Their COVID Vaccine, Then Sold Them to Pharma: In a business driven by profit, vaccines have a problem. They're not very profitable — at least not without government subsidies. Pharma companies favor expensive medicines that must be taken repeatedly and generate revenue for years or decades. Vaccines are often given only once or twice. In many parts of the world, established vaccines cost a few dollars per dose or less. Last year only four companies were making vaccines for the U.S. market, down from more than 20 in the 1970s. As recently as Feb. 11, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, complained that no major drug company had committed to 'step up' to make a coronavirus vaccine, calling the situation 'very difficult and frustrating.' Oxford University surprised and pleased advocates of overhauling the vaccine business in April by promising to donate the rights to its promising coronavirus vaccine to any drugmaker. 'We actually thought they were going to do that,' James Love, director of Knowledge Ecology International, a nonprofit that works to expand access to medical technology, said of Oxford's pledge. 'Why wouldn't people agree to let everyone have access to the best vaccines possible?' A few weeks later, Oxford—urged on by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—reversed course. It signed an exclusive vaccine deal with AstraZeneca that gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights and no guarantee of low prices—with the less-publicized potential for Oxford to eventually make millions from the deal and win plenty of prestige."

David Dayen, "Why Katie Porter Isn't on the House Financial Services Committee: Committee Chair Maxine Waters appears to have a problem with fierce questioning and progressive financial reform. [...] Why would Democrats take one of their most celebrated young phenoms and remove her from a committee where she has as much expertise as anyone in Congress? The question might answer itself. An analysis of the Financial Services Committee and Porter's time on it reveals that she wasn't really wanted, perhaps because of the spotlight she garnered and the goals she sought."

Robert Kuttner at The American Prospect warns, "Red Alert: The Return of Cass Sunstein: When I wrote a piece last spring called 'The Biden Do Not Reappoint List,' it did not even occur to me to include Cass Sunstein on the roster of Clinton and Obama horribles such as Larry Summers and Mike Froman. The return of Sunstein seemed inconceivable. For those who missed it, Sunstein under Obama headed a White House office called OIRA, which stands for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. It was created late in the Carter administration and then used under Reagan as a choke point to kill health, safety, environmental, and labor regulations. If a regulation somehow made it out of an agency, OIRA provided one more chance for industry lobbyists to weaken it or kill it altogether. But of all the heads of OIRA, Sunstein was the one who perfected the art of strangling regulations, using cost-benefit gambits and other devices. He actually bragged that under Obama, thanks to his efforts, there were fewer regulations issued than under Reagan or either Bush. He was especially the nemesis of EPA. [...] So with Biden's policies and Sunstein's record, why on earth is Sunstein telling colleagues that he is in line for a White House job? The answer, for those familiar with the academic term, is that Sunstein is what's called a 'trailing spouse.' Sunstein's wife, Samantha Power, has been named by Biden to head USAID. So Cass, who teaches law at Harvard, needs an appropriately distinguished Washington job. But please, keep this man far away from the seat of power. Give him a fellowship, say, at Brookings, where he can do only modest damage."

I can't even keep up with the zigzagging ups and downs of this thing. "Democrats Ditch $600 Unemployment Boost: Now that Republicans are less of an obstacle, Dems are negotiating with themselves. Democrats have given up on giving unemployed workers an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits as part of a new COVID-19 relief package. Instead, the party seems to be coalescing around President Joe Biden's proposal to add $400 per week. The measure is part of a $1.9 trillion proposal for a pandemic recovery bill that included a host of other Democratic priorities, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour."

Still shady after all these years: "Voting machine company behind so many surprise wins this year raises some questions: After initially focusing on the surprisingly lopsided results of the senatorial election in Kentucky, DCReport broadened our scope to look at the electronic vote-counting software and electronic voting systems that we rely on to tally our votes. This prompted us to raise questions about Electronic Systems & Software (ES&S), America's largest voting machine company. What we found was a revolving door between government officials and ES&S. Voting results in three states that saw surprising majorities by vulnerable incumbent Republican senators—Maine, North Carolina and South Carolina—were almost all tabulated on ES&S machines." Same thing I've complained about for 20 years: privately-owned largely by Republican operatives, can't be audited, deliver weird results, and Republicans fight like hell to prevent any kind of auditability from being required. Why would that be?

Bernie in the Guardian, "Joe Biden must put an end to business as usual. Here's where to start [...] Let us never forget. When Republicans controlled the Senate, they used the reconciliation process to pass trillions of dollars in tax breaks primarily to the top 1% and multinational corporations. Further, they were able to confirm three rightwing US supreme court judges over a very short period of time by a simple majority vote. If the Republicans could use the reconciliation process to protect the wealthy and the powerful, we can use it to protect working families, the sick, the elderly, the disabled and the poor."

"A Massachusetts Democrat Pushed His Party On Its Alex Morse Handling. Getting Called A 'Faggot' Wasn't Even The Worst Response: A meeting of the Cambridge Democratic City Committee is a microcosm of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. ON WEDNESDAY, January 13 — the same day that the University of Massachusetts at Amherst released the results of an investigation into the romantic life of Alex Morse, finding no wrongdoing — the Cambridge Democratic City Committee met to debate a resolution brought forward by a local ward condemning the party for its handling of the situation. It did not go well."

Naomi Klein ponders "The Meaning of the Mittens: Five Possibilities: The symbolic power of Bernie's old pair of mittens was the work of the 'us' in 'not me, us.'" I don't know how it started, but eventually even I was caught up in it. The Mary Sue has a good collection of them, as well as some Mark Hamill collected. And I liked this one and this one. There's also a Star Trek collection. Here's one for the art crowd. And another one. (There are also a ton of Monet Bernie memes.) And more, and much more. And even more.

"Neoliberalism is Fascism with Better Manners: The best use of the New York Times is usually catching up on the CIA's talking points for the day. However, back in June of 2019 it published a surprisingly hard hitting article on Joe Biden's history of crafting and promoting the odious bill that created the modern militarized police and carceral state. The money shot is a quote from Mr. Biden where he seemingly takes credit for mass incarceration: 'every major crime bill since 1976 that's come out of this Congress, every minor crime bill, has had the name of the Democratic senator from the State of Delaware: Joe Biden.' With Mr. Biden currently drafting 'domestic terrorism' legislation, alarm bells should be sounding. Considered along with his contribution to the Patriot Act—the national security and surveillance state wish list passed in the aftermath of 9/11; Mr. Biden appears to be the central protagonist linking domestic political repression to the neoliberal project. Ava DuVernay's film 13th does a good job giving political and economic context to the American conception and political utility of 'crime.' The 1994 Crime Bill written by Mr. Biden created the means by which to force conformity to the dictates of capital. That Mr. Biden appears to have seen law enforcement as a moral endeavor speaks to the hiddenness of its basis in economic production."

Pierce, "The New York Times Has Tied Itself Into Knots With This One [...] Now, I read the NYT nearly every day, so I know that its editors have not been comatose since 2008, when Mitch McConnell first vowed that Barack Obama would not be permitted to do what he'd promised he'd do. It is obvious to the wide world that there is no good-faith partner for bipartisan action in the Congress, and there hasn't been for more than a decade. It is obvious to the wide world that the general welfare of the country is a secondary consideration to the Republican congressional minorities. The new Senate hasn't even been allowed to organize itself yet; as of Thursday, Republicans were still chairing all the Senate committees. The Times doesn't present any solutions, except to note that Biden ran for president as a legislative dealmaker—which was nice, but also was the functional equivalent of running for president as an aardvark. The obvious solution—burning down the filibuster and then legislating like wildfire—is not mentioned, and not even all the Democrats are onboard with it anyway. The Times suggests that the new president keep one foot in political reality and the other on a banana peel. This is no way to run a democratic republic. Tell me something I don't know."

"What the next generation of editors need to tell their political reporters [...] Historically, we have allowed our political journalism to be framed by the two parties. That has always created huge distortions, but never like it does today. Two-party framing limits us to covering what the leaders of those two sides consider in their interests. And, because it is appropriately not our job to take sides in partisan politics, we have felt an obligation to treat them both more or less equally. Both parties are corrupted by money, which has badly perverted the debate for a long time. But one party, you have certainly noticed, has over the last decade or two descended into a froth of racism, grievance and reality-denial. Asking you to triangulate between today's Democrats and today's Republicans is effectively asking you to lobotomize yourself. I'm against that. [...] And rather than obsess on bipartisanship, we should recognize that the solutions we need — and, indeed, the American common ground — sometimes lie outside the current Democratic-Republican axis, rather than at its middle, which opens up a world of interesting political-journalism avenues."

I never doubted it, but "New Documents Suggest J. Edgar Hoover Was Involved in Fred Hampton's Murder [...] At that point, in 1983, after 13 years of litigation, it seemed as if the historical record was complete and the true narrative of the raid established: Chicago police officers, under the command of the Cook County state's attorney, and at the behest of the FBI and its COINTELPRO program, targeted BPP leader Fred Hampton, and assassinated him while he lay asleep as part of a murderous pre-dawn raid during which the police fired more than 90 shots that also killed Panther Mark Clark and left several other survivors badly wounded. And so stood that record, until December 4, 2020, 51 years after the raid, when historian and writer Aaron Leonard received from the FBI a redacted copy of Mitchell's personnel file in response to his 2015 Freedom of Information Act request."

"Meet YInMn, the First New Blue Pigment in Two Centuries [...] Blue pigments, which date back 6,000 years, have been traditionally toxic and prone to fading. That's no longer the case with YInMn, which reflects heat and absorbs UV radiation, making it cooler and more durable than pigments like cobalt blue. 'The fact that this pigment was synthesized at such high temperatures signaled that this new compound was extremely stable, a property long sought in a blue pigment,' Subramanian said in a study about the compound."

RIP: "Hank Aaron, Home Run King Who Defied Racism, Dies at 86 He held the most celebrated record in sports for more than 30 years." I was too young to have seen him play (our household was not sports-oriented in any case), and I didn't really get into baseball until the '70s when I finally realized the significant difference between it and softball (you can't foul out in baseball, so it's a much higher-incentive game), but Hank Aaron was a legend as long as I can remember.

RIP: "Larry King: Veteran US talk show host dies aged 87" — Some people said he just didn't do his homework, but he said he just wanted to hear what they had to say for themselves. I didn't really see his celebrity interviews but I rather liked the idea of not spending a lot of time showing off how much background material he'd read and just interviewing his subjects.

RIP: "Hilton Valentine, Founding Guitarist For The Animals, Dies At 77: Hilton Valentine, the guitarist for British Invasion band The Animals known for his iconic guitar riff on the group's version of "House of the Rising Sun," has died at the age of 77. Abkco Music, The Animals' label, confirmed the musician died on Friday in a statement posted to its website. "We, along with all of the music world, mourn the loss today of Hilton Valentine a founding member of The Animals. Valentine was a pioneering guitar player influencing the sound of rock and roll for decades to come. His death was revealed by his wife, Germaine Valentine," the label said in a statement." Eric Burdon posted a little farewell on Instagram.

"Legitimate Business: How Wall Street Put Organized Crime Out of Business [...] Yet in a sense, I think Gus Alex is alive and well, and not consigned to prison, either. Our economy—our system—is a Gus Alex/Jake Guzik operation. The Outfit, whether it knew it or not, was a blueprint for the future—our present—at a scale unimaginable to the old pot-bellied goombahs who ran things back when. In a stunning twist, the biggest, baddest mobsters of the American underworld, the kingpins who ran things for much of the twentieth century, were pathetically small-time. In the America of 2021, their kind of rackets, their brand of organized crime, has become entirely legal, the exclusive bailiwick of the Brooks Brothers Mafia, well-connected, well-starched, well-financed. [...] Put simply: the massive economic 'reforms' initiated by neoliberal politicians in that era, now responsible for the massive inequality in the world today, also essentially legalized most forms of fraud and vice. Having been bolstered at the expense of everyone else, Big Business found that it could out-compete the mob, purchasing the kind of no-consequence, laissez faire attitude from politicians and police which organized crime had once had—only at a scale of which the wiseguys could only dream."

Taibbi, "We Need a New Media System: If you sell culture war all day, don't be surprised by the real-world consequences. The moment a group of people stormed the Capitol building last Wednesday, news companies began the process of sorting and commoditizing information that long ago became standard in American media. Media firms work backward. They first ask, 'How does our target demographic want to understand what's just unfolded?' Then they pick both the words and the facts they want to emphasize."

"The True Story of Indonesia's US-Backed Anti-Communist Bloodbath: The massacre of the Indonesian left in 1965-66, backed by Washington, was one of the great crimes of the twentieth century. A new generation of scholars has uncovered its long-suppressed history of slaughter of up to a million people in the name of anti-communism."

This is a review of Cory Robin's 2019 book The Enigma of Clarence Thomas. I know I linked an interview about it at the time, but for those who would rather read, this may be more helpful. I was astonished when I learned these things about him.

For the pictures of buildings, "Urban clickbait? Why 'iconic architecture' is all the rage again"

APOD: "The Vertical Magnetic Field of NGC 5775"

An unusual look.

I noticed a long time ago that things were becoming horrible, and they kept getting worse, but I just about burst into tears on learning that Dolly Parton had re-recorded "9 to 5" as "5 to 9".