Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Keepin' it unreal

Something that really bothers me is that everywhere I look, people seem to be really interested in getting rid of Trump without much consideration to what would be left if that happened. True, even with Trump in charge they all seem pretty efficient at doing horrible things, but just think how much better they'd be at it if they didn't have him to worry about. And as near as I can tell, the only other person who is worried about this is Atrios.

The Republicans passed their scary "repeal and replace" of Obamacare in the House. Democrats, more fixed on winning elections than on how many people will die if this thing makes it through the Senate, sang a happy tune to celebrate a Republican electoral loss in the next election. Trouble is, there is no guarantee of that - nor that in such an event they will fix the damage. The probability is that the bill won't get through the Senate, but the happy dance is still pretty stupid.

To add injury to injury, "Pelosi Refuses to Back Single Payer, Despite GOP Deathmongering Suddenly Taking Center Stage: " Bad policy and bad politics, Nancy. Just like it wasn't good politics for Hillary Clinton to announce during the primaries that single-payer would never, ever come to pass. Jeez, even Krauthammer says, "We will be in a single-payer system within 7 years."

Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque, "Curtains for Comey: Rocketing Through the Looking-Glass With the Troller-in-Chief: Whatever else you can say about Trump (don't get me started), he's a first-class troll: citing Comey's handling of the Clinton email probe in the last days of the campaign as his reason for firing him! The very action Trump had long praised as a "gutsy" move by Comey, one which redeemed him in Trump's eyes. That's some high-grade mendacity there, transparently false, yet told with a straight face, and pretending it was on advice of the Attorney General."

"Reporter arrested at W.Va. Capitol during visit from Conway and Price: CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A reporter was arrested Tuesday at the West Virginia Capitol for allegedly causing a disturbance and yelling questions at federal leaders in town, court records show. It happened during a visit from U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and Special Counsel to the President of the United States Kellyanne Conway. Dan Heyman, 54, of Charleston, is charged with willful disruption of governmental processes, which is a misdemeanor."

Gothomist, "State Senate Passes Bill That Would Make Assaulting A Cop A Hate Crime: The State Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would make assaulting a police officer, EMT, or other first responder akin to a hate crime. The bill, sponsored by Republican Senator Fred Ashkar of Binghamton, passed 56-6 with bipartisan support." So, Democrats supported this piece of crap. Great.

Sessions is stepping up the War on (Some People Who Use Some) Drugs. "Rand Paul: Sessions' sentencing plan would ruin lives: The attorney general on Friday made an unfortunate announcement that will impact the lives of millions of Americans: he issued new instructions for prosecutors to charge suspects with the most serious provable offenses, "those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences." [...] The attorney general's new guidelines, a reversal of a policy that was working, will accentuate the injustice in our criminal justice system. We should be treating our nation's drug epidemic for what it is -- a public health crisis, not an excuse to send people to prison and turn a mistake into a tragedy."

In a rare departure from the norm, a police officer who shot a black teenager has been charged with murder.

"Three Murders in Philadelphia: In the early 1990s, the police arrested three men for crimes they didn't commit. It's taken more than 25 years for justice to be served." Coerced confessions, planted evidence, and exonerating evidence withheld - but none of those cops are going to jail.

"$elling off our freedom: How insurance corporations have taken over our bail system: Every year, millions of people are condemned to cages and separated from their families simply because they cannot afford to pay bail after an arrest. This country's justice system claims to treat people as if they are innocent until proven guilty but the reality is that before even being convicted of a crime, the accused and their families are forced to pay non-refundable deposits to bail companies in exchange for their release from jail. Bail insurers prey on those entering into the criminal justice system and trap them in debt through high fees and installment plans. These profiteers coerce people into signing over their privacy rights and when it's not profitable, they leave people in jail."

Mark Steel is the best political analyst in Britain, and he has a response to the latest claims about the evils of Corbyn. "Labour's leaked manifesto proves it's stuck in the 1970s, unlike those ultra-modern Tories who love fox hunting: Several Conservatives have taken issue with Labour's pledge to be 'extremely cautious' before using the nuclear deterrent. What sort of 1970s nonsense is that? If you're going to be extremely cautious about dissolving millions of civilians in an apocalyptic firestorm, you might as well bring back outside toilets."

Paper: "Tax cuts for whom? Heterogeneous effects of income tax changes on growth and employment [...] I find that the positive relationship between tax cuts and employment growth is largely driven by tax cuts for lower-income groups, and that the effect of tax cuts for the top 10% on employment growth is small."

Dean Baker:
* "The Fed's New Excuse for Raising Interest Rates: Helping the Poor: Bloomberg reports that Esther George, perhaps the Fed's biggest inflation hawk, has a new argument for raising interest rates: she claims that inflation is a big tax on the poor. This is peculiar for two reasons. First, the people who are denied work as a result of higher interest rates will be disproportionately those at the bottom of the ladder: African Americans, Hispanics, and workers with less education. Furthermore, higher unemployment rates mean that the workers who have jobs will have less bargaining power and be less able to push up their wages. It's hard to see how people who lose jobs and get lower pay increases will benefit from a slightly lower inflation rate. The other reason why the argument doesn't quite work is that even the modest inflation we have seen in recent years is driven almost entirely by rising rents."
* "The Need for Job Killing Robots in Pension Fund Management: Gretchen Morgenson had a good piece this weekend on fees paid by public pension funds. These fees are large and have grown rapidly in recent decades. The fees go to some of the richest people in the country, such as private equity and hedge fund managers (think of Peter Peterson or Mitt Romney). The fees often do not correspond to any benefits to the pension funds in the form of higher returns. In other words, these fees are the equivalent of a massive welfare program under which the taxpayers are putting money in the pockets of some of the richest people in the country, for doing nothing."

David Dayen:
* In The American Prospect, "Our Bankrupt Policy for Puerto Rico: The restructuring of the island's debt allows no role for the Puerto Rico's government." You guessed it - austerity imposed from without. Like Greece, only smaller. (More here.)
* At The Fiscal Times, "Who's Watching Wall Street? The Feds Turn a Blind Eye to Goldman's Game [...] There's only one problem with these investments: They're supposed to be illegal under the Dodd-Frank Act. But 'the law' is only as good as the men and women willing to enforce it, as Goldman Sachs has discovered to its delight. Big banks have turned one key section of Dodd-Frank into mush, such that Goldman can flaunt its defiance openly without an ounce of fear. It makes me wonder why House Republicans are working so hard to repeal Wall Street reform when regulators have shown so much willingness to repeal by neglect."
* At The Nation, "Trump Is Helping Big Media Companies Get Bigger: And it's looking like a mutually beneficial relationship." Pretty scary. Tribune was already big and right-wing, but Sinclair is genuinely part of the far-right media infrastructure. Laws against this kind of media conglomeration existed for very good reason. Unfortunately, as with so many things, Bill Clinton and his friends just didn't understand it when they did away with those restraints.
* At The Intercept, "Pressure On Democrats Pays Off As Chuck Schumer Picks Consumer Advocate For FTC Nominee: AFTER PRESSURE FROM consumer advocates, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has recommended Rohit Chopra, a former official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), for an open Democratic seat on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). As reported by The Intercept in March, Schumer had previously been considering his ex-Chief of Staff David Hantman - a former lobbyist for Yahoo and Airbnb who opposed regulation on Silicon Valley firms - for the position. After details of Hantman's past work became public, Schumer last month told the International Business Times that he would not be submitting Hantman's name. Chopra, by contrast, has a strong record of action on consumer issues."

"Paul Ryan Needs An Electoral Opponent-- And We're Very Close To Announcing One: Once again-- as it's done every two years like clockwork since Pelosi gained control over the committee-- the DCCC has moved to protect Paul Ryan's reelection. A swingy southeast Wisconsin district that Obama won in 2008, 51-48%, WI-01 offers an obvious Democratic target-- one the DCCC habitually refuses to consider, even going so far as to sabotage local candidates and asking institutional Democratic donors to cut off their funding. WI-01 is not on the DCCC target lists this year, despite the fact that Paul Ryan is the single most disliked and mistrusted politician in America."

Read an excerpt from Noam Chomsky's new book, Requiem for the American Dream: The Ten Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power, "Principle #6: Running the Regulators [...] Remember, there were no financial crashes in the '50s and the '60s, because the regulatory apparatus of the New Deal was still in place. As it began to be dismantled under business pressure and political pressure, you get more and more crashes, and it goes on right through the years - the '70s is where deregulation starts, and the '80s is where crashes really take off."

"Democrats say they now know exactly why Clinton lost: WASHINGTON - A group of top Democratic Party strategists have used new data about last year's presidential election to reach a startling conclusion about why Hillary Clinton lost. Now they just need to persuade the rest of the party they're right."

Greg Sargent, "Why did Trump win? New research by Democrats offers a worrisome answer. [...] One finding from the polling stands out: A shockingly large percentage of these Obama-Trump voters said Democrats' economic policies will favor the wealthy - twice the percentage that said the same about Trump."

"Why Do So Many Americans Think Democrats Are Out of Touch? The party appears to be struggling to convince the public it represents a better alternative to President Trump and the GOP."

Marcy Wheeler, "The Obamacare Not Comey Effect: Unless Wang's chart is totally mislabeled (Update: In an 'explanation' added to his post, Wang effectively says his graph is off by three - though not four - days due to the way he presents multi-day polls; he has, at least, now told his readers when the actual letter came out) but what it shows seems to be consistent with what I showed in this post, which shows a Hillary dip and a Trump spike moving in concert on before October 28), then his chart show doesn't support a Comey effect at all - it shows the opposite. The differential started narrowing after October 24. By October 28, when the letter was released, the differential had plateaued before it turned up again. As it turns out, the ObamaCare spike was announced on October 24 (and reported heavily starting October 25)."

CMike tweeted, "Healthcare wonks, consider this Tea Party-er's proposal. Case closed as to whether our system is totally FUBAR. "The Bill To Permanently Fix Health Care For All"

"Low Black Turnout May Have Cost Clinton the Election [...] According to Demos' Sean McElwee, UMass - Amherst's Jesse Rhodes and Brian Schaffner, and Indiana University's Bernard Fraga, black turnout declined by 4.7 points from 2012 nationally while white turnout increased by 2.4 points. Crucially, the drop in black turnout was even sharper in states where the margin of victory was less than 10 points than it was nationally - in those battleground states, black turnout dropped 5.3 points. In two critical states that swung to Trump - Michigan and Wisconsin - black turnout dropped by just more than 12 points. Declines were less dramatic but significant in other swing states Trump carried: Ohio (down 7.5 points), Florida (4.2), and Pennsylvania (2.1)."

Bernie Sanders had a chat with Jimmy Carter. The story linked is just repeating that Carter voted for Sanders, but the video looks to be the whole discussion.

"The New York Times defended hiring former Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens - a writer who has promoted climate denial and bigotry against Arabs - by insisting that it is seeking diversity of thought. Public Editor Liz Spayd responded to readers' complaints about Stephens by writing that the Times is looking 'to include a wider range of views, not just on the Opinion pages but in its news columns.' But hiring another prominent writer whose ideology hems close to that of the nation's elites - in this case, fossil fuel corporations who are polluting the world and advocates of Western military might - is hardly adding intellectual diversity to the pages of the Times." The Times, strangely, has no columnists representing the view of supporters of the most popular politician in America (Bernie Sanders), or the current president, who happens to be popular with Republicans. There are no young people and no Arab or Muslim Americans, although they are frequent topics in the paper. Despite the embarrassment of still employing Thomas "Suck on this" Friedman, the NYT has no counter-balancing opponent of insane militarism, and of course the hire of Stephens would only represesnt "diversity" of views if they also employed a columnist who was an environmental advocate.

"Stephen Fry's blasphemy probe dropped after Irish police fail to find 'enough outraged people': Asked in 2015 by the programme's host, Gay Byrne, what he would say to God if he arrived in heaven, Mr Fry replied: 'I'd say, bone cancer in children? What's that about?' 'How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault? It's not right, it's utterly, utterly evil.'Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain? 'We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of god would do that? 'The god who created this universe, if it was created by god, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish.'"

"Bernie Sanders Is Building An Army To Stop Trumpcare Dead In Its Tracks In The Senate: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wasted no time in immediately mobilizing the opposition that will be needed to kill Trumpcare in the US Senate. In a statement provided to PoliticusUSA, Sen. Sanders said, 'The bill that Republicans passed today is an absolute disaster. It really has nothing to do with health care. It has everything to do with an enormous shift of wealth from working people to the richest Americans. This bill would throw 24 million people off of health insurance - including thousands of Vermonters - cut Medicaid by $880 billion, defund Planned Parenthood and substantially increase premiums on older Americans. Meanwhile, it would provide a $300 billion tax break to the top 2 percent and hundreds of billions more to the big drug and insurance companies that are ripping off the American people. Our job now is to rally millions of Americans against this cruel bill to make sure that it does not pass the Senate. Instead of throwing tens of millions of people off of health insurance, we must guarantee health care as a right to all.'"

"Progressive Attorney Unseats Business-Friendly Mississippi Mayor: Chokwe Antar Lumumba picks up where his late father left off." He ran to replace his father when he died in 2014 and lost, but now he will be taking his seat.
* "Meet the Left Radical Who Will Likely Be Jackson, Mississippi's Next Mayor"

"Georgia Can't Block New Voters From Registering in the Ossoff-Handel Runoff: In a big win for voting rights, a federal court overturns the state's 90-day registration deadline"

"John Oliver Has Another Brilliant Plan to Save Net Neutrality From 'Cable Company F***ery' (Video)" - I can't actually see the video, but there's a short article and a link to some contacts.

A review by Rob Levine, "Twenty five years later charter schools a costly, failed experiment: Ember Reichgott Junge's book provides a clear view into the history of charter schools in Minnesota, just not the one she intended" She says it was a "grassroots" movement, but it was led entirely by the big shots, and against everyone else.

"We Asked ICE About the Prank Calls to Their Anti-Immigrant Hotline and They Kind of Lost Their Shit."

Have some Single-Payer cartoons.

"How to pronounce Emmanuel Macron"

Who shot Martin Luther King? On the record, it was nothing like the story you've heard. Lee Camp starts off with a fact that shocked me. The True Conspiracy To Kill Martin Luther King Jr.

Congratulations to our friend Whit Diffie for his election to The Royal Society.

"The Rock-Star Appeal of Modern Monetary Theory [...] For a small but committed group of economists, academics, and activists who adhere to a doctrine called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), though, #mintthecoin was the tip of the economic iceberg. The possibility of a $1 trillion coin represented more than mere monetary sophistry: It drove home their foundational point that fiat currency is a social construct, and that there are therefore no fiscal limits on how much a sovereign currency-issuing nation can spend.

The article is about the British election, and the headline seems misleading, but aside from the fact that Corbyn is doing better than expected in the polls, contains a piece of advice the Clinton team badly missed: "Unnoticed and unreported, Jeremy Corbyn is surging in the polls: Labour's vote share is increasing as the election approaches. [...] As I've said before and will say again, the only bits of an election that matter are the bits that people who don't care about politics see: the newsbreaks between songs on music radio, the pictures that play without sound on Sky News in every Wetherspoons through the country, the few minutes at the start of the six and ten o'clock news before people switch channels - or the few minutes at the end before they switch back."

I hate to link to Kristof, but he's talking about people who are smarter and more moral than he is, and right in America, too, in "Meet Dr. Willie Parker, a Southern Christian Abortion Provider [...] 'I believe that as an abortion provider, I am doing God's work,' Parker writes in his new memoir, 'Life's Work.' 'I am protecting women's rights, their human right to decide their futures for themselves, and to live their lives as they see fit.' Since childhood, Parker had been taught that abortion was wrong, and for the first half of his career as an OB-GYN, he refused to perform abortions. But then he had what he calls his 'come to Jesus moment,' an epiphany that his calling was to help women who wanted to end their pregnancies."

"How 'Russiagate' Got So Much Momentum: A new book about Hillary Clinton's last campaign for president - Shattered, by journalists Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes - has gotten a lot of publicity since it appeared two weeks ago. But major media have ignored a revealing passage near the end of the book. Soon after Clinton's defeat, top strategists decided where to place the blame. 'Within 24 hours of her concession speech,' the authors report, campaign manager Robby Mook and campaign chair John Podesta 'assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn't entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.' Six months later, that centerpiece of the argument is rampant - with claims often lurching from unsubstantiated overreach to outright demagoguery. A lavishly-funded example is the 'Moscow Project,' a mega-spin effort that surfaced in midwinter as a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It's led by Neera Tanden, a self-described 'loyal solider' for Clinton who also runs the Center for American Progress (where she succeeded Podesta as president). The Center's board includes several billionaires."

And speaking of Books about Clinton, Susan Bordo wrote one, too, The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, but Sarah Jones at The New Republic sees it as "The Deification of Hillary Clinton [...] In The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, the feminist scholar seeks to absolve Clinton for her loss to Donald Trump. To do so, she presents a raft of justifications: James Comey, Wikileaks, conservatives, Bernie Sanders, and dumb young people. There is scarcely a mention of policy positions Clinton took during her campaign that were less than inspiring, or of moments when the candidate seemed to misread the public mood - such as her repeated claim that 'America is already great.' Any rational analysis of Clinton's career and campaigns must include an examination of her mistakes, but Destruction is not rational. Bordo starts from the conviction that Hillary Clinton, as 'the most qualified candidate in history,' should have won. Clinton's actions interest her less than what she deems as Clinton's greatness. It's not an investigation but a deification. [...] Bordo's objection seems to be that anyone opposed Clinton at all, even from the left. What she does not grasp - and is seemingly not interested in grasping - is that Clinton's critics from the left were not opposing a caricature of her as some kind of right-wing political operator. We opposed Clinton-the-hawk and Clinton-the-means-tester. Our objection was about politics, not personality. Similarly, we do not reject the feminism of Bordo and Clinton because of its ideological rigidity, as Bordo suggests. We reject it because it is insufficient. America was not 'already great.' Our lives are proof."

"If Bernie says working class and you hear white working class, it is on you not Bernie [...] Bernie's economic agenda would benefit the entire working class, most especially in the lives of women and minorities. I am so sickened to see the donor class attempt to trick people into thinking that Bernie is attacking them when it is just the reverse. I am even more sickened to see people who should know better fall for it."

Thomas Frank, "The Democrats' Davos ideology won't win back the midwest: The party has harmed millions of their own former constituents. If they change course, they can reverse their losses [...] The wreckage that you see every day as you tour this part of the country is the utterly predictable fruit of the Democratic party's neoliberal turn. Every time our liberal leaders signed off on some lousy trade deal, figuring that working-class people had 'nowhere else to go,' they were making what happened last November a little more likely. "

"For Health and Freedom: Civil rights activists knew their struggle was incomplete without winning a just health care system. They're an inspiration for single-payer activists today."

"Weaponized Philanthropy: Document Trove Details Bradley Foundation'S Efforts To Build Right-Wing 'Infrastructure' Nationwide [...] The documents open a window to the behind-the-scenes workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. With $835 million in assets as of June 2016, the Bradley Foundation is as large as the three Koch family foundations combined, yet receives much less attention as a significant funder of the right."
* "Bradley Foundation Bankrolls Attacks On Unions."

Carole Cadwalladr in the Guardian, "Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media: With links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, the rightwing US computer scientist is at the heart of a multimillion-dollar propaganda network. [...] We're not quite in the alternative reality where the actual news has become 'FAKE news!!!' But we're almost there. Out on Twitter, the new transnational battleground for the future, someone I follow tweets a quote by Marshall McLuhan, the great information theorist of the 60s. 'World War III will be a guerrilla information war,' it says. 'With no divisions between military and civilian participation.' By that definition we're already there."
* Carole Cadwalladr in the Observer, "The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked: A shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum. As Britain heads to the polls again, is our electoral process still fit for purpose?"
* Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, "The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind The Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer exploited America's populist insurgency"

I was disappointed in Todd Gittlin's article about how Americans have lost faith in the news media, because it seems to be all about Trump and Republicans. But a lot of highly-informed news junkies can tell you that the media is full of junk, and it's not just Fox news.

"The Democratic Party Is a Ghost: Democratic Party elites don't have ideals. They just need you to be scared of the Republicans. [...] The Democratic leadership looks hardly different than it has for my entire adult life, a grim and aging collection of Clinton apparatchiks totally secure in their sinecures - all the more so because the only time the party ever does use what power it has, it's to quash any discontent from its base or its leftward flank."

And, in another stellar display of the diversity and civilized, mature decorum we expect from Clinton partisans, "An Editor at Ms. Magazine Rejoices That Someday Bernie Sanders Will Die." Katie Halper reports.

Jimmy Carter, "Losing my religion for equality: Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God. I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult."

Richard J. Eskow, "Yes, Obama's $400,000 Speech is a Problem: A new poll shows fully two-thirds of the American public agrees with this statement: 'The Democratic Party is out of touch with the concerns of most people.' And scarcely more than one in four Democrats themselves think the party understands most people's everyday concerns. It was also just announced that Barack Obama, following in the well-heeled footsteps of Bill and Hillary Clinton, will be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for giving a speech on behalf of a Wall Street firm. Anyone who thinks these two facts aren't connected isn't paying attention. Obama's payday reflects a longstanding pattern of behavior from Democratic leaders: Talk like liberals, govern from the center, and make a lot of money once you're out of office."
* Gaius Publius, "Obama Harvests His Presidency:
* And oddly, even The New York Times editorial board is critical of "The Cost of Barack Obama's Speech."
* "Barack Obama's $400,000 speaking fees reveal what few want to admit: His mission was never racial or economic justice. It's time we stop pretending it was."
* Elsewhere, Gaius reminded me of an article James K. Galbraith wrote back in 2011, "The Bad Deal: Over here reality has been evident for a while, thanks to the President's pattern of giving way to banks, lobbies, Republicans and right-wing extremists. Whether your prime interest is housing, health care, peace, justice, jobs or climate change, if you are an activist in America you have known for a long time that this President is not your friend. [...] The debt deal will make things clear. The President is not a progressive ' he is not what Americans still call a 'liberal.' He is a willful player in an epic drama of faux-politics, an operative for the money power, whose job is to neutralize the left with fear and distraction and then to pivot rightward and deliver a conservative result."

"Why the U.S. pays more for health care than the rest of the world [...] Other countries will say, here's the maximum price. Go ahead and compete below that. And in other countries, there's policy that you can charge a lot when you have a wonderful new technology, but as it gets older, that price has to keep coming down. And what we see in the United States, pretty much uniquely, is, as technologies get older, sometimes the price can go up, and can go up a lot. [...] In Japan, that same test would cost $100 to $150, because, in Japan, those prices have to go down over time. You can't say, wow, this was a great new technology 30 years ago, and so we're going to raise the price because it's even greater now. It's not. It's basically the same."

"Stay in a hospital, pay the CEO $56 a night: Norman Roth has a great job. He's the CEO of the relatively small Greenwich Hospital in southern Connecticut, and for each night patients stayed at his hospital in 2015, he got paid $56.40."

"The way forward for progressives" introduces an upcoming book: "As previously noted, this work traces the way the Left fell prey to what we call the globalisation myth and formed the view that the state has become powerless (or severely constrained) in the face of the transnational movements of goods and services and capital flows. Social democratic politicians frequently opine that national economic policy must be acceptable to the global financial markets and, as a result, champion right-wing policies that compromise the well-being of their citizens. The book traces both the history of this decline into neo-liberalism by the Left and also presents what might be called a 'Progressive Manifesto' to guide policy design and policy choices for progressive governments. We hope that the 'Manifesto' will empower community groups by demonstrating that the TINA mantra, where these alleged goals of the amorphous global financial markets are prioritised over real goals like full employment, renewable energy and revitalised manufacturing sectors is bereft and a range of policy options, now taboo in this neo-liberal world are available. In today's blog "

Last year, Gary Young went to "Middletown" to look at how America was experiencing the election up-close. His final dispatch was, "How Trump took middle America [...] But the issue was not simply about trade or globalisation: to many voters in Muncie, Clinton looked not only like an integral part of the establishment that had brought them to this place, but like a candidate advocating more of the same. 'If you take a step back and look at all America has achieved over the past eight years, it's remarkable to see how far we've come,' Clinton argued. For many of those who already had their backs against the wall, it was hard to see the progress. Trump, on the other hand, offered the near certainty that something would change. 'At least he'll shake things up,' was the phrase that kept coming up. One in five of those who voted for him thought he didn't have the temperament to be president. For some who had little to lose, he was evidently a risk worth taking. 'The Democrats keep making out like everything is OK,' says Todd Smekens, the publisher of the progressive online magazine Muncie Voice. 'And it's not. Nobody's buying it.'"

"Fellas, Should You Roll Up Your Sleeves? Here's the answer!"

Stranger Things Kids Performance at the EMMY -Dance Performance

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Action-packed adventure

I sure hope I never again have to wake up from surgery during a shift change.

Having noticed that the Parliamentary Labour Party has effectively demolished it's own leader in the polls, the Tories saw their chance and Theresa May has announced an election. Labour has never been so weak, thanks to the efforts of the Blairites, and it seems pretty clear that they have no chance. Smart Tories have an ace up their sleeve: "Nicola Sturgeon and yes, Jeremy Corbyn, would demolish May in debate. If any party other than the Tories was declining to take part in debate, the media would quite rightly attack them for it. Do not however expect any more than token remonstration from the broadcasters; they are far too complicit in the cottonwool packaging of May, and have too deep an investment in the Unionist project, to rock the boat. Indeed, the media will now seek to frame any debate between opposition leaders which does go ahead as a gathering of losers, a carnival of grotesques. Any resemblance between this British general election and democracy is purely coincidental."

Meanwhile, the DNC goes to court and not only admits that the primaries were rigged, but claims a right to rig them. "DNC Shatters The Illusion Of American Democracy In Order To Keep People's 27 Bucks: Well that didn't take much. After all the time and effort that those of us in the alternative media have been pouring into our attempts to show people that democracy does not exist in America, the political establishment has stepped forward and admitted it candidly with its own face hole. A recently-released transcript of Florida court documents has revealed that the Democratic National Committee's first line of defense in their motion to dismiss a lawsuit against them by defrauded Bernie Sanders supporters is to state that they are under no contractual obligation to provide the American people with real party primaries."

So Trump bombed Syria. What's remarkable to me is the sudden emergence of members of Obama's circle who are suddenly erupting in vast applause for Trump bombing Syria - apparently, he was reining them in for all this time. The Washington press corps has suddenly decided Trump is "presidential" now that he's bombing someone for no good reason and with no plan. The neocons and the TV faces all have a tingle down their leg. But Robert Parry says it's "Trump's 'Wag the Dog' Moment: Just two days after news broke of an alleged poison-gas attack in northern Syria, President Trump brushed aside advice from some U.S. intelligence analysts doubting the Syrian regime's guilt and launched a lethal retaliatory missile strike against a Syrian airfield. The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ford Williams) Trump immediately won plaudits from Official Washington, especially from neoconservatives who have been trying to wrestle control of his foreign policy away from his nationalist and personal advisers since the days after his surprise victory on Nov. 8. [...] But a number of intelligence sources have made contradictory assessments, saying the preponderance of evidence suggests that Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels were at fault, either by orchestrating an intentional release of a chemical agent as a provocation or by possessing containers of poison gas that ruptured during a conventional bombing raid. One intelligence source told me that the most likely scenario was a staged event by the rebels intended to force Trump to reverse a policy, announced only days earlier, that the U.S. government would no longer seek 'regime change' in Syria and would focus on attacking the common enemy, Islamic terror groups that represent the core of the rebel forces." That story buries the lede, though, which is that there's no reliable evidence that Assad was guilty of the charge in this case. "New Evidence that Syrian Gas Story Was Fabricated by the White House" - Does this sound familiar?
* Really, no one is taking The White House Report seriously, are they?
* Norman Solomon, "Russia-Baiting Pushed Trump to Attack Syria - and Increases the Risks of Nuclear Annihilation."
* Hm, I wonder where this stuff comes from.... "MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Sees a 'Russia Connection' Lurking Around Every Corner."
* "Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria Strikes - Zero Are Critical."

Of course, this was an opportunity for a bit of proxy warring against Sanders by attacking Tulsi Gabbard for not instantly supporting Trump's attack on Syria, instead saying: "'This administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning.' Gabbard added she would support Assad's prosecution and execution as a war criminal if the attacks were proven, though she still wouldn't support military action. 'A successful prosecution of Assad (at the International Criminal Court) will require collection of evidence from the scene of the incident, and I support the United Nation's efforts in this regard. Without such evidence, a successful prosecution is impossible.'" Clintonites claim this statement was "pro-Assad".

Andrew Cuomo announces free college for New York, and it sure sounds to me like a bit of a fraud. For one thing, you can't be a part-time student or one who takes a semester off to try to earn some money to keep going. It doesn't cover books, which are pretty expensive these days.

"Irish Citizens Assembly votes to amend abortion laws: Pro-choice campaigners disappointed by vote to amend, rather than repeal, Eighth Amendment." Still, a very big deal. "A special committee set up to discuss Irish abortion laws has voted in favour of changing the constitutional clause which effectively criminalises abortion - but stopped short of repealing the law entirely. The Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution protects the 'right to life of the unborn', and termination is illegal in Ireland in all but the most exceptional circumstances, where there is a 'real and substantial risk' to the mother's life." But I'm with Siobhan Fenton, who tweeted: "Not going to lie lads, I am crying my eyes out. Irish women have waited so long for this. Huge day for the country."

Payoff time: "Obama to net $400K for Wall Street speech: report: Former President Obama has agreed to speak at a Wall Street conference for $400,000, according to a new report. Obama will appear at Cantor Fitzgerald LP's healthcare conference in September, Fox Business Network first reported Monday. Fox Business said it confirmed Obama's appearance with senior members at Cantor, a financial services firm." The worst Clintonite troll in my twitter feed is manfully defending this receipt of a bribe, but Obama telegraphed it in The Audacity of Hope. He was happy to describe it, but he wasn't going to go against it. (More of that in this piece from a year ago.)

"The retail apocalypse is creating a 'slow-rolling crisis' that is rippling through the US economy: Retailers are closing thousands of stores and going bankrupt at a rate not seen since the recession, and tens of thousands of people are losing their jobs as a result. The effects of these job losses will hit local economies hard, according to Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia Business School." Scary.

"The Long, Lucrative Right-wing Grift Is Blowing Up in the World's Face." As has been obvious for a while now, the fountain of "conservative" rationalization of insane policies the oligarchs have been feeding the rubes has worked beyond their wildest expectations, actually convincing so many that they have run for office and taken their seats sincerely believing the nonsense that was never supposed to be taken seriously by anyone in power. But a considerable portion of Congress, and now the White House, is finally occupied by those very rubes, and no one knows how to control them. Pity the Democrats didn't make the arguments when they had a chance to stop this train.

This was rather amazing, given how solidly red the seat has been, but a progressive Dem came within six points of taking it. "The Kansas Democrat who nearly pulled off the impossible has some advice for his party: James Thompson says Democrats can't ignore red states." But Senator Sanders says the DCCC could have done more. (Of course, in my Twitter feed, Clintonistas are demanding to know where Bernie was. He was, of course, in Kansas.) Gosh, I wonder why someone stole the machines.

"Jeff Sessions Getting Rich Filling Private Prisons: It's more than a conflict of interest. The more people Attorney General Jeff Sessions sends to private prisons, the more money he shoves in his pockets. From announcing he wants federal law enforcement agencies to bust people for a little bit of weed, to ordering federal prosecutors to find ways to convict more immigrants, Sessions is looking for ways to provide more clients to private prisons that are contracted by the federal government. [...] As Attorney General Sessions fills these private prisons, he is making money. According to his latest financial disclosures required by congress, dated December 23, 2016, he divested of other investments that were found to be in conflict. In these disclosures, he also lists numerous Vanguard funds. Vanguard owns more private prison stock than any other investment management company. None of the Vanguard funds listed below were included in the divestiture."

"After $30k lawsuit, regional Massachusetts SWAT team releases use of force policy." They tried to claim they were a non-profit and therefore didn't have to.

Something tells me Rahm just isn't all that serious about police reform and transparency. "City delays release of police shooting video despite 90-day policy."

"Alabama Senate votes to allow church to form police dept. MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Senate has voted to allow a church to form its own police force. Lawmakers on Tuesday voted 24-4 to allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham to establish a law enforcement department. The church says it needs its own police officers to keep its school as well as its more than 4,000 person congregation safe. Critics of the bill argue that a police department that reports to church officials could be used to cover up crimes."

"Police Arrested This Cop Watch Activist - But Then Recorded Themselves by Accident: Last August, Jose LaSalle, a prominent New York City Cop Watch activist, was arrested after filming a stop-and-frisk near a housing project in the South Bronx. Though filming the police is legal, LaSalle was charged with 'obstructing governmental administration.' LaSalle claims he was standing far away from the incident. To continue documenting his own arrest, the veteran activist left his two phones and a GoPro camera turned on and recording as he was being taken to a nearby police station."

"Broken door, broken promise: Police renege on pledge to ask judges for permission in no-knock raids: WORCESTER - After a 2015 'no-knock' SWAT raid that found a shaken family at gunpoint instead of the targeted criminal"

"How the Government Is Turning Protesters Into Felons" - Basically, this amounts to treating a protest even as a crime in itself, and then saying everyone who attended was complicit in any property damage that occurred. And then throwing the book at them.

"Minnesota police department wins Twitter again with hilarious 4/20 tweet."

"New Orleans district attorney has been sending fake subpoenas to witnesses to make them testify: The Orleans Parish district attorney's office has been caught issuing fake subpoenas that threatened if the recipient ignored the notice he or she would be fined or imprisoned, according to The Lens."

"Report: Body of country's first female Muslim judge found in Hudson River: Sheila Abdus-Salaam served as an associate judge of the Court of Appeals. She was the first African-American woman to serve on New York's top court. She was 65."

California fighting the trend and going for single-payer, but of course, Big Corporate Money Opposes Single-Payer Proposal. "As health care premiums rise and insurers threaten to leave Obamacare's state exchanges, polls show that a majority of Americans now support the creation of a universal, government-funded health care program. The so-called single-payer system has been a long-sought goal of progressive groups, who now hope that California lawmakers will pass a bill to create such a system. Proponents hope the system could then begin moving the United States to follow Canada, which saw its own national single-payer system first begin in the province of Saskatchewan. But before that happens, single-payer proponents are going to have to overcome powerful resistance. While California is known as a liberal stronghold, industry groups with a financial interest in blocking the measure are lining up in opposition - and they have poured cash into the campaigns of key state lawmakers who will decide the fate of the bill."

Rob Levine with some original research, "Free to choose a Walmart school: Poverty Academies, Segregation Academies and a foundation plan to destroy the Minneapolis public school district

"Fifty Shades of Green" - Thomas Ferguson, Jie Chen, and Paul Jorgensen at the Roosevelt Institute, on the effect of money in politics.
* "Does Money Buy Votes? Most Americans Say Yes; A New Study Says They're Right [...] The researchers found that for every $100,000 the financial industry spent on campaign contributions for a House Democrat who voted for Dodd-Frank, they were able to increase the likelihood that same Democrat would vote to dismantle parts of the bill by 13.9 percent, according to the study."

David Dayen on "How Congress Could Make Steve Bannon's Wildest Dream Come True: Beyond the competing sets of spin about the success or failure of Donald Trump's first hundred days, even the most committed liberal partisan can admit that he has allowed corporate America to run wild."

"'Superman Is Not Coming: Erin Brockovich on the Future of Water [...] 'It's not just one Flint. It's hundreds of Flints," Brockovich, who became a household name in 2000 when Julia Roberts portrayed her in an Oscar-winning film, tells me in an interview. 'We've already slipped and we're on the cusp of Third World conditions when it comes to our water supply.'"

The first event of Bernie Sanders' and Tom Perez's Come Together Fight Back Tour - Portland, ME.
* "The Democratic Party's messaging rift, in one short video: But serious differences between the Democratic Party's factions remain. On Wednesday, Sanders and Perez appeared with MSNBC's Chris Hayes for their first joint interview - and it didn't take long for Hayes to pry open the split in the politicians' worldviews."

Suddenly the Clintonistas are going all purity troll because Sanders and Perez are out there campaigning for Dems who aren't perfect. The New Republic, of all places, launches a defense, but frankly the whole tempest is pretty rich when you have Nancy Pelosi saying "'Of course' Dems can be against abortion" - and then of course, there was this candidate.

Yves Smith, "Democrat Disunity: Hypocritical Media Attacks on Sanders: On every conceivable front, the Democrats double downing down on the strategy that led them to hemorrhage losses in representation, meaning power, at every level of government. In keeping, more and more voters are leaving the party. The latest repeat of a failed strategy is to try to smear Sanders in a cack-handed effort to win over his base. This is as likely to succeed as calling Trump voters 'deplorables' did."
* Alas, there's not a prayer that these people who are attacking Bernie will realize the effect they are having on the polls and cut it out.

No, seriously, it may be true that President Trump is least popular president at 100-day mark, it's even worse for the Democrats.

"The DNC and DCCC Confirm They Won't Support Progressive Candidates [...] Rather than this special election representing an anomaly or misstep from the Democratic leadership, there's a prevailing trend within the party's establishment to select and support weak, centrist candidates who provide the party with opportunities to fundraise from corporate donors. This trend is symptomatic of a revolving door within the Democratic Party leadership, where party officials often sell out to work for Republican lobbying firms. The Intercept's Lee Fang pointed out Mark Squier, John Donovan, and CR Wooters as just a few examples."

"The Democratic party is undermining Bernie Sanders-style candidates: Since losing the presidency to a Cheeto-hued reality TV host, the Democratic party's leadership has made it clear that it would rather keep losing than entertain even the slightest whiff of New Deal style social democracy."

Paul Street still thinks, "Bernie Sanders, the Company Man" is just corralling us for the Dems. I think he's looking at it the wrong way, but we shall see.

"Quick thoughts about airline economics [...] There are two things wrong with this line that air travel is awful because consumers' true revealed preference is that it should be awful and cheap. First, there is the fact that air travel managed by the main domestic carriers in the United States is uniquely awful, and there is no evidence that US travelers are any more price conscious than consumers in other countries. No frills, discount air travel is popular in Europe as well, and it is sometimes awful, but it is on the whole much cheaper than 'discount' air travel within the US. Mainstream carriers almost everywhere else in the developed world are notably less awful than the big American carriers, and often just as cheap."

Naomi Klein on "How to Jam the Trump Brand"

"'Trump Is Just Tearing Off the Mask': An Interview with Eric Foner [...] ? It's very easy to say, 'Oh, Trump's gone off the reservation.' But actually, this is part of the American political culture, past and present. Our politics has not always been like the Lincoln-Douglas debates, some high-minded discussion of important issues. Even those debates weren't like that! We have seen the low road many a time. Go back to the Know-Nothings, George Wallace, Richard Nixon, the Southern strategy. This is an important strand of our political culture. That's a more frightening thought than calling Trump a lunatic and an aberration. He is the logical extension of the way the Republican Party has been operating since Barry Goldwater. This is how the Republican Party has gotten votes for 50 years - Trump is just tearing off the mask. Now he just says right out the racism that was only barely hidden for so long. An accurate history would show that it's always been there. We shouldn't just talk about how weird Trump is.

"Bernie Sanders Condemns Threats Against Ann Coulter Speech At Berkeley: 'To me, it's a sign of intellectual weakness.'"

"A Bernie Sanders Campaign Adviser Was a Russian. Now He's Speaking Out: A high-level adviser and operative for the 2016 Sanders campaign was Vitali Shkliarov, a Soviet-born citizen of Belarus. Shkliarov, who had previously worked on the 2012 Obama re-election campaign and for several other successful Democratic Party campaigns, has also become increasingly in demand as a political adviser and campaign manager in Russia, working for liberal candidates in opposition to President Vladimir Putin. Possessing a unique background and vantage point, Shkliarov, now that the 2016 election is over, has many interesting observations to express on the state of American politics, the Democratic Party, U.S.-Russian relations, and the impact of rising anti-Russian sentiment in the U.S."

"Exclusive: Julian Assange Strikes Back at CIA Director and Talks Trump, Russia, and Hillary Clinton [...] 'For the head of the CIA to pronounce what the boundaries are, of reporting or not reporting ' is a very disturbing precedent. The head of the CIA determining who is a publisher, who's not a publisher, who's a journalist, who's not a journalist, is totally out of line.'"

"Bernie Sanders Spoke From A Ben & Jerry's Tub Podium And Twitter Users Couldn't Cope"

"How this garlic farm went from a labor shortage to over 150 people on its applicant waitlist: Christopher Ranch, which grows garlic on 5,000 acres in Gilroy, Calif., announced recently that it would hike pay for farmworkers from $11 an hour to $13 hour this year, or 18%, and then to $15 in 2018. That's four years earlier than what's required by California's schedule for minimum wage increases. Ken Christopher, vice president at Christopher Ranch, said the effect of the move was immediately obvious. At the end of last year, the farm was short 50 workers needed to help peel, package and roast garlic. Within two weeks of upping wages in January, applications flooded in. Now the company has a wait-list 150 people long. 'I knew it would help a little bit, but I had no idea that it would solve our labor problem,' Christopher said." He had no idea.

David Dayen talked to Sam Seder about The Hidden Monopoly Driving Drug Prices & President Gary Cohen, on The Majority Report. (Show starts around the four-minute mark, I think.)

"Everything We Knew About Sweatshops Was Wrong" - Well, actually, a lot of us already knew this, but it's nice that some people who believed the hype are finally catching on.

The Washington Post knows perfectly well that the US Post Office does fine and that its on-paper losses are a fabrication, but it persists in promulgating fake news trying to hide this Congressional accounting hoax. "The paper's latest pot shot was in an alarmist editorial declaring, 'The US Postal Service continues to hemorrhage red ink." Embracing their owner's anti-government ideology, the editors grumped that postal unions have made our mail service outmoded and insolvent, running up "a net loss of $5.6 billion last year.' That is pure bovine excrement -- and the editors know it. In fact, thanks to our amazing, innovative and efficient postal workers, the nation's public post offices racked up a $610 million operating profit last year, and a $1.2 billion profit the year before. The $5 billion in red ink that the paper's editorial propagandists touted is not real, but instead, is a deliberate bookkeeping hoax created by Congress to make the public think that our Post Office is a hopeless money loser that should be privatized."

"How Do You Know When A Candidate With A 'D' Next To His Name Isn't Really A Democrat? " When right-wing Republicans are campaigning for him over the official Republican nominee might be a clue. Sadly, there were too many Dems in that race, so it's looking like this.

Ted Rall, "Why is Trump So Hated? It's the Tribalism, Stupid [...] Remember all the antiwar rallies in 2012? Remember how Obama got primaried for destroying Libya and Syria? Neither do I. But don't be surprised if the streets fill with signs opposing Trump's Syria war - signs that might have made a difference to the hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed by American-made and -funded weapons under Obama. [...] The worst thing about America's political system is that it has no politics." I actually disagree with Rall's main statement here, but when it comes to forgiving our own, Democrats are just as bad as Republicans with the tribalism.

You can tell Clinton partisans are over the edge when they put Consortium News and Alternet in the same category as Infowars, like this. And, apparently the post would seem to come from a member of the biggest fake news site on the "left".

Katie Halper answers the attack on young women who supported Sanders, "A Millennial Feminist Explains the New Feminism to a Boomer Feminist Philosopher [...] I had assumed, perhaps falsely, that every feminist to the left of Sarah Palin sees a living wage as a feminist issue, given that two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. But you didn't even address this significant difference. It's your prerogative to focus more on the gender dynamics and micro-aggressions that you perceive to be at play between Clinton and Sanders than a policy that will improve the lives of millions of people, the majority of whom are women. But that's a very entitled feminism."

If Bernie Sanders "doesn't connect with people of color" and is only supported by sexist white men, how is it that his popularity among blacks is +62% and at +31% among women? (For those so inclined, here's the boring data .pdf.)
* But why do people think Bernie "doesn't connect" with those among us who are not particularly white or male? Well, that's because it was Clinton campaign propaganda from the git-go. "A New Harvard Study Just Shattered the Biggest Myth About Bernie Supporters [...] "Before he was chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Obama Labor Secretary Tom Perez encouraged the Clinton campaign early on in the primary election cycle to demean her opponent by labeling him as a favorite of white men and unpopular with the African American, female, and the Latinx demographics. According to emails leaked by WikiLeaks, Perez encouraged Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta to use the Bernie Bro myth in order to win the Nevada caucus: 'Nevada is an opportunity to fight back on so many levels,' Perez wrote. 'First, the current storyline is that she does not connect well with young voters. Given that Nevada is far more demographically representative of America, I am confident that HRC can do well with all African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans (don't forget the sizeable[sic] population of Asian Americans in Nevada, including Filipinos.).' '[Clinton campaign Nevada state director Emmy Ruiz] and the team have a good plan to attract all minority voters,' Perez continued. 'When we do well there, then the narrative changes from Bernie kicks ass among young voters to Bernie does well only among young white liberals - that is a different story and a perfect lead in to South Carolina, where once again, we can work to attract young voters of color.' In addition to Perez, staffers within the Democratic Party infrastructure used the term 'Bernie Bro' to loosely describe anyone who wasn't a ride-or-die Hillary Clinton supporter. In one email thread, when SiriusXM producer David Guggenheim reached out to DNC communications staff to request an interview with Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC communications director Luis Miranda and other staffers snidely commented that because Guggenheim was likely a 'Bernie Bro,' they should decline the interview."
* Meanwhile, Shaun King still says, "Now is the perfect time to discuss how and why Bernie Sanders could've beaten Donald Trump."

Meanwhile, a book has come out about how messed up the Clinton campaign was, and it's called Shattered. Naturally, the Twitter machine is going hot and heavy. I'm being called a white man again, some more!
* And here's the Sander's quote: "It's so phony."
* Matt Taibbi, "Yikes! New Behind-the-Scenes Book Brutalizes the Clinton Campaign: Shattered, a campaign tell-all fueled by anonymous sources, outlines a generational political disaster"

Interestingly, even Bloomberg has noticed "The Emerging Anti-Corporate Majority". But they're not worried.

Jon Schwarz says Michael Moore, who didn't just make the film Sicko but put his money where his movie was, saved his life. "My Skin in the Game: How Ted Cruz and the Right Want to Help Cancer Kill Me, and Maybe You: Huh. That looks weird. Has that always looked like that?"

"The US Charging Julian Assange Could Put Press Freedom on Trial [...] But if the US Department of Justice prosecutes Assange, as it reportedly may soon, he could become something else: the first journalist in modern history to be criminally charged by American courts for publishing classified information. WikiLeaks may not look like a traditional journalism outlet, but it shares the same ends - publishing true information from its sources. And that means legal action against Assange could threaten the freedom of the press as a whole." I don't know why they said "could" there. It absolutely would.

John Oliver on Gerrymandering

Bravely, Nicole Sandler interviews Roger Stone: "I don't usually interview right wingers. I can't learn anything from them, and have no desire to give them an outlet to spew their bullshit. But every once in a while, an opportunity presents itself to interview someone so full of themselves, so wrong on just about everything, so completely devoid of humanity that I just can't resist."

"There Can be No Progressive Coalition Without Working Class Whites [...] Second, it simply is not possible to create a coalition that genuinely serves the poor but also excludes poor whites - especially while it enthusiastically ushers Wall Street under the tent. That certain liberals can simultaneously attack Sanders for emphasizing an economic message which, if manifested, will disproportionately uplift people of color and women, while celebrating women and people of color who have sold out the interests of their demographic groups again and again, speaks to the negative power of weaponized identitarianism, and is one of most serious threats faced by the progressive movement."

"The Duke Lacrosse Scandal and the Birth of the Alt-Right [...] Richard Spencer, the fourth speaker, is now America's most famous self-identified white nationalist. 'In this funny chain of events, the Duke lacrosse case changed the course of my career,' Spencer told me recently. 'My life would not have taken the direction it did absent the Duke lacrosse case.' The speech at the Thai restaurant - 'Ironic, isn't it?' he said - pushed him from an academic track toward a more activist one. McConnell commissioned Spencer to write a piece for The American Conservative about the case, and, by the end of the semester, Spencer had dropped out of school to work at the magazine full-time. A year later, he coined the term 'alt-right.'"

Arthur Silber on the magical powers of Putin vs. Voice of America.

"Suburban Sprawl Stole Your Kids' Sleep: Why does school start so early? Blame 1970s planning." I had no idea this was going on over there, yikes. (via)

A talk with the pastor who delivered his friend Harper Lee's eulogy, from Gary Silverman in The Financial Times, about "How the Bible Belt lost God and found Trump [...] Flynt says evangelical Christians are mainly mobilising against the sins they either do not want to commit (homosexual acts) or cannot commit (undergoing an abortion, in the case of men). They turn a blind eye toward temptations such as adultery and divorce that interest them. In 2010, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling the rising incidence of divorce among its members a 'scandal'. A Pew Research Center study in 2015 found that evangelical Protestants in the US were more likely to be divorced or separated than Catholics, Jews, Muslims or atheists."

"America's first female mayor was elected 130 years ago. Men nominated her as a cruel joke."

Did I mention that eventually, The West Wing made my blood run cold whenever they actually talked about policy? Because they always spelled out the right-wing argument and then never answered it. I thought the business about Social Security was particularly chilling. Anyway, Luke Savage on "How Liberals Fell In Love With The West Wing: Aaron Sorkin's political drama shows everything wrong with the Democratic worldview." We enjoyed the original, British, House of Cards. Kinda glad I never saw the America version.

From Ansible, "Malgorithms. A recent news page at Wn.com headlined 'Second Doctor Arrested in US Female Genital Mutilation Case' was helpfully illustrated with a stock photo of Patrick Troughton (1920-1987). [RR]"

RIP: Anti-Establishment Icon David Peel Dies at 73. He was so much a part of my neighborhood back in the day. His bandmate Billy lived in the apartment above us on East 5th Street. Used to run into David all the time, and still recall amusing moments like that time I was eating my breakfast pizza in the square and heard him shouting something, waving his album around, saying the last time the cops searched him, they found dirty underwear. Can't remember how many times I heard him sing this song.
* "Don Rickles, Legendary Insult Comic, Dies at 90." He was kind of ubiquitous back in the day. Lance Manion did a nice little appreciation of Mr. Warmth.
* "Guitarist J. Geils Dead at 71: J. Geils Band musician who appeared on rock radio hits 'Centerfold,' 'Freeze-Frame,' 'Love-Stinks' found dead at home." I never met him, but I went to a small school with Seth Justman, who used to sit in the student commons and play the piano now and then.
* Motown song writer Sylvia Moy, co-writer of Stevie Wonder's "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" and "I Was Made to Love Her", at 78.
* Carolyn Kelly, R.I.P., daughter of Pogo creator Walt Kelly and restorer and preserver of his work, as well as a talent in her own right. Condolences to Mark Evanier.

Beautiful APOD of stuff that glows.

Cool vids of a rotating supercell thunderstorm

My Twitter feed went crazy at the release of Thor: Ragnarok Teaser Trailer

"The Story Behind The Perfect Photo Of Sports' First Streaker
* Behind The Photo That Changed The Boston Marathon Forever

"Princess Leia's Stolen Death Star Plans/With Illicit Help From Your Friends" - I don't know if this can stay up, but it's rather amazing - the Star Wars story set to music from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The things that pass for knowledge I can't understand

Bra of the Week: So, I was looking at this page to see if I could get some better advice for taking care of the skin during and after radiotherapy, and down at the bottom someone produced this whimsical innovation. (Comes with matching sun hat.) Oh, and by the way, I seem to have more cancer. The plan seems to be pretty much to do the same as last time, only it's on the other side.

"The Sanders Show: Welcome to 'Bernie TV' [...] Guests on "The Bernie Sanders Show" have so far included Rev. William Barber, the leader of the "Moral Monday" movement, anti-fracking filmmaker Josh Fox and former "Science Guy" Bill Nye, whose conversation with Sanders about climate change racked up 4.6 million views and 25,000 shares." You can watch it here.

"Repealing Broadband Privacy Rules, Congress Sides with the Cable and Telephone Industry: Putting the interests of Internet providers over Internet users, Congress today voted to erase landmark broadband privacy protections. If the bill is signed into law, companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon will have free rein to hijack your searches, sell your data, and hammer you with unwanted advertisements. Worst yet, consumers will now have to pay a privacy tax by relying on VPNs to safeguard their information. That is a poor substitute for legal protections. Make no mistake, by a vote of 215 to 205 a slim majority of the House of Representatives have decided to give our personal information to an already highly profitable cable and telephone industry so that they can increase their profits with our data. The vote broke along party lines, with Republicans voting yes, although 15 Republicans broke ranks to vote against the repeal with the Democrats."

"Baltimore's Democratic mayor breaks promise, vetoes $15 minimum wage bill: Mayor Catherine Pugh dealt a shattering blow to the Fight for $15 campaign, vetoing a new minimum wage law. [...] The veto is the latest in a string of serious blows to the Fight for $15 campaign in Maryland. As reported by In These Times, an effort to enact a local minimum wage in populous Montgomery County went down in flames in January when county executive Ike Leggett vetoed the bill. As in the case in Baltimore, all the important elected leaders in Montgomery County are Democrats, and the higher minimum wage proposal fell because pro-business Democrats split with more progressive Democrats."

"Man banned from every shop, pub, cafe, restaurant and takeaway in Northern Ireland" - I don't know how he is supposed to eat, but I suppose he could always acquire more counterfeit notes and get someone else to do his shopping for him.... (OK, he's allowed to order food to be delivered to him at home, but if the judge is so convinced he has easy access to more faux fifties and would spend them, surely he could get someone else to spend them.)

Jeffrey Kaye is a clinical psychologist who wrote a book about the extremely assisted suicides at Guantanamo. Naturally, Your Talking Dog has interviewed him in his continuing series on Guantanamo. "The media reaction to the deaths has for the most part been awful. Harpers did open up their pages to Hickman and Scott Horton. But when in 2010 the story got an National Magazine Award there was significant growling from the rest of the media. Most amazing, to me, was the tirade of abuse coming from the pages of Adweek, an advertising industry stalwart. That must have thrown editors into a frenzy, with what I believe was practically explicit warning to stay away from these kinds of story, derogated as irresponsible conspiracy-mongering. From that time forward, you did not see stories about the deaths at Guantanamo."

Marcy Wheeler, "Which Came First, the Failed Ideology or the Spiking Mortality Rates? "

"How local news sounded the alarm over the GOP's defeated health plan: Editorials and news coverage in numerous American communities responded with a clear message that such measures simply didn't pass muster for their communities. Many in their audiences agreed: A Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday found that only 17 percent of American voters approved of the Republican's bill, while 56 percent didn't. Many editorials found ways to ask the same question - 'Is this bill good policy?' - and then answer, conclusively, 'No.'"

"Bernie Sanders, Top Progressives Announce New 'Medicare For All' Push.

"Obamacare's Original Sin: We can resist Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare without providing cover for the law's deep ideological flaws."

I think Paul Ryan was accidentally telling the truth when he said, "We're not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people."

"The Only Concrete Takeaway From Trump's Speech: Medicaid Is Doomed"

"No, really: Democrats should offer an ACHA alternative"

A year ago, Pachacutec asked, "Does Bernie Sanders Know What He's Doing?" Seems like he did, and does.

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "Paul Ryan is discovering why the government is involved in health care." I wonder if Ezra Klein has finally figured out that Paul Ryan is not the glorious wonk he thought he was.

My Twitter trolls continue to pretend that there's no connection between the banks and other issues. But there is an Undeniable Link Between Racism and Economics.

"The CFPB Protects Us From Bad Banks; Republicans Want To Kill It [...] But lawmakers in Washington aren't trying to tighten enforcement against serial lawbreakers like Wells Fargo. Instead, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has introduced a measure to shut it down, while other GOP efforts would strip it of funding. Other Republican initiatives would weaken the CFPB by stripping it of political independence and replacing its executive leadership with a commission. Other proposed legislation would weaken its rule-making and enforcement authority, reduce its ability to track consumer complaints, and strip it of its ability to (in the words of Bloomberg Law's Chris Bruce) 'attack unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices.' The Trump Administration, which has drawn heavily on Goldman Sachs for its senior staffers, has been openly fighting the CFPB. The administration wants to remove agency head Richard Cordray and make other staffing changes, and recently joined a lawsuit challenging the agency's independence."

"Erik Prince in the Hot Seat: Blackwater's Founder Is Under Investigation for Money Laundering, Ties to Chinese Intel, and Brokering Mercenary Services."

I can't believe that after the Republicans spent 20 years vilifying her, the Democrats spent eight years in control of the White House and apparently were only interested in fracking and TPP, and the candidate said things like this, there is still a constant flow of idiots in my feeds insisting that the only reason people didn't want to vote for Hillary was the Russians.

"Everyone loves Bernie Sanders. Except, it seems, the Democratic party."
* I mean, he's really popular. He's the most popular politician in America.

"Why Bernie's Progressive Narrative Appeals Across Partisan Lines [...] According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, 81% of Americans - including 87% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans - support Social Security and consider it a vital program. 77% of those polled want to protect Social Security benefits, even if doing so would require tax increases on all workers. As Social Security is one of the great progressive policy victories of the last century, this polling indicates that even Republicans are progressive on this issue. Sadly, this is one issue where the establishment political parties do not appear to care about the views of the voters. Virtually every Republican leader other than Trump (e.g. Ryan and McConnell) supports cutting Social Security, either through reducing benefits or increasing the eligibility age, while Democratic leaders have flirted with more subtle cuts (i.e. using chained CPI to reduce cost of living growth)." And it's much the same with other issues Sanders pushed - the public supports them, and party leadership does not. This has to raise questions about what the Democratic leaderships is up to. They can read polls as well as we can. They know their policies are unpopular, so they have to use careful - "nuanced" - language to make them sound like they're not as monstrous as they are. And one other thing. "Replicating the success of Bernie Sanders may be as simple as running candidates who credibly argue in favor of these massively popular progressive ideals, while refusing to take money from big donors. Anybody going up against this type of candidate must resort to lies, distortions, identity politics (e.g. race, religion, gender, culture, etc.) and character attacks, as real policy discussions are likely to just reinforce the idea that their opponent holds views that are widely popular."

"Bernie Sanders is mad at the Democratic Party. And he wants you to know it."

Interview By Rachel Tabachnick, "Right Moves: Historian Jason Stahl Opens a New Era of Scholarship on Conservative Think Tanks: [...] The corrosive part of DLC and PPI was a denigration of movement-based politics, a suspicion of grassroots, movement-based politics. They accepted the pernicious framing of liberal/Left social movements that the Right had been forwarding for years, that these rabble-rousing movements were out of touch and un-American. PPI used this moniker - liberal fundamentalism - suggesting that liberalism is more akin to a kind of unthinking religious orientation and that this is the real problem of the Democratic Party. When you go down that road of denigrating movement politics, you are going down a disastrous electoral path, in my mind, regardless of your politics."

"The DLC Lives: "Third Way" Democrats Are Trying to Push the Party Rightward [...] At the height of its power the DLC was the dominant force in the party, boasting President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as its acolytes. But like Bell's weak narcotics, the DLC, which supported the Iraq War and received money from the likes of the Koch Brothers, soon became a tainted brand. Long before 2011, when the organization dissolved, the DLC label hung around politicians like a scarlet letter. Even President Obama publicly distanced himself from the organization in 2004 as he ascended as a national figure. [...] Now, as Democrats face an existential crisis in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump, these fundamentally conservative organizations, armed with millions in corporate donations, are working with a renewed aggressiveness in the public sphere. They are attempting to convince the party to shun its base and further embrace the so-called 'vital center,' and the corporatism that has long defined these groups."

On The Majority Report, "How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (w/ Philip Mirowski).

Masha Gessen, "Autocracy: Rules for Survival
* Rule #1: Believe the autocrat
* Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
* Rule #3: Institutions will not save you
* Rule #4: Be outraged.
* Rule #5: Don't make compromises.
* Rule #6: Remember the future.

"Vouchers, Charters and Public School Debt: Not Just Different Education Policy Priorities: Charter-Friendly Legislation May Violate the Contract Clause."

"The Socialist Takeover of the Democratic Party Is Proceeding Nicely"

"Judicial originalism as myth"

"Progressives Slam Tom Perez's New DNC Transition Team"

"HuffPost Smears Sanders Supporters With Fake News About Russian Trolls: Motivated by personal bias, journalists mislead with anecdotal evidence."

"DNC Adds To Transition Team After Progressive Complaints: Two prominent Bernie Sanders supporters are among the additions."

George Takei has announced he is running for Congress to go after Devin Nunes' seat. On April Fool's Day.

Russia Insider disagrees with Haaretz's assessment of policy on Syria. Snarky! "We understand that Israel has its own national interests. But please stop with the baloney."

"The Bait And Switch Of Public-Private Partnerships: This being the age of public relations, the genteel term 'public-private partnership' is used instead of corporate plunder. A 'partnership' such deals may be, but it isn't the public who gets the benefits."

David Dayen in The Fiscal Times, "How Goldman Sachs Wins, and You Lose, From Its Mortgage Crisis 'Punishment': The Justice Department billed this as a '$5.1 billion settlement.' But that figure was incredibly misleading; at best the bank was giving DoJ a small cut of a decade of profits. There was a bigger problem, too: $1.8 billion of this settlement was earmarked for 'consumer relief,' in which Goldman would write down the mortgages of struggling homeowners. But it didn't own any home loans."

David Dayen in Vice, "How a Cruel Foreclosure Drove a Couple to the Brink of Death: A married couple resorted to self-harm after being physically and psychologically terrorized by Bank of America over their house - until a judge fined the bank $46 million." Of course, BoA plans to appeal, and it will be interesting to see the final disposition of this case, but this is what should have happened to them all. Even here, the judge did not impose criminal charges on BoA executives, but at long last the principle was stated clearly that this was not just the misbehavior of rogue, low-level functionaries, but decisions made at the top. "But if one bank is ordered to pay $46 million for just one foreclosure, it begs the question of whether the federal government settled on the cheap in its more systemic investigations of America's largest financial companies after the 2008 crash. 'The governmental regulatory system has failed to protect the Sundquists,'s Judge Klein wrote, and that goes double for the millions of homeowners who suffered similar fates, yet didn't contest their cases or find a judge willing to act on their behalf."

Beat the Press, "Job Loss in Manufacturing: More Robot Blaming" - Trade deficits have a bigger impact, but surely out-sourcing (which Dean doesn't mention) does, too.

I'm baffled as to why people keep saying stuff like this: "What Happens When We Don't Believe the President's Oath? [...] If you're a liberal, one who voted against George W. Bush twice, do the following thought experiment: Did you ever doubt, even as you decried the Iraq War and demanded accountability for counterterrorism policies and actions you regarded as lawless, that Bush was acting sincerely in the best interests of the country as he understood them? Yes, people used the slogan 'Bush Lied, People Died,' but how many of them actually in their hearts doubted that Bush was earnestly trying to do his duty by the electorate, even if they differed in their understandings of what that duty entailed? Some, to be sure, we suspect many more accepted that Bush was honestly doing his best." OMG, do they not remember how the guy got into the White House? You do not do that in the "best interests" of the country!

This is how the Labour Party wants to occupy its time: attacking Ken Livingstone for stating documented fact.

"Pepsi Made An Ad Where Soda Solved Police Brutality And The Internet Reacted Appropriately."

"Moscow And Beijing Join Forces To Bypass US Dollar In Global Markets, Shift To Gold Trade."

"The Sleazy Origins of Russia-gate: An irony of the escalating hysteria about the Trump camp's contacts with Russians is that one presidential campaign in 2016 did exploit political dirt that supposedly came from the Kremlin and other Russian sources. Friends of that political campaign paid for this anonymous hearsay material, shared it with American journalists and urged them to publish it to gain an electoral advantage. But this campaign was not Donald Trump's; it was Hillary Clinton's. [...] The reports not only captivated the Clinton political operatives but influenced the assessments of Obama's appointees in the U.S. intelligence community. In the last weeks of the Obama administration, I was told that the outgoing intelligence chiefs had found no evidence to verify Steele's claims but nevertheless believed them to be true.

You know who didn't get much help from TARP? If there's one thing white supremacists didn't have to fear form Obama, it was that he would help people of his own race. He sure didn't. "The Decline of Black Business: And what it means for American democracy."

Every now and then I like to remind people that if you actually read the Bible, it is less a tale of faith than a tale of how states fail, over and over. Once they fall into Mammonism, once they let the rentiers control the economy, they destroy themselves. Or God smites them, depending on your point of view (Ezekiel 16:49). Rutger Bregman doesn't mention the Bible in "No, wealth isn't created at the top. It is merely devoured there," but it's that same story, and it's happening now.

Ian Welsh on The Philosophy of Decline and Collapse.

Blast from the past: Early last year, Seth Ackerman did a useful take-down of two "liberal" pundits who did a prompt about-face on all of their previous opinions on health care, in a shameful display of partisanship. "Meet the New Harry and Louise: Vox's attack on Bernie Sanders is sold as a policy critique. It's actually a dishonest exercise in managing the Democratic Party base."

"Why You Seldom See Noxzema Anymore." This is kind of a shame, because it really is great for protecting your skin from breaking out, especially anyplace you use soap, and it wipes out eczema pretty damned quick. I get it from a local place down the market that appears to cater to a mostly black clientele, it's not seen on the shelves anywhere else that I recall. I thought that was a British thing until I saw this story - and it's from 2008.

* One of the truly great journalists, "Legendary Newspaper Columnist Jimmy Breslin Dies At 88. [..] Breslin was old school. He began his career as a copy boy working his way up to a hard -bitten reporter." You can read his articles about Trump here, starting with his 7 June 1990.article, "Corum's Law", in which he learns that the news business sold itself very cheaply indeed to "The Donald". Also, see Michael Winship's A Couple of Things About Jimmy Breslin."
* Bernie Wrightson, (October 27, 1948-March 19, 2017), co-creator of Swamp Thing, after a long battle with brain cancer. A highly talented artist who had worked for pretty much every comic company at some time, beloved by many.
* Martin McGuinness, the IRA commander whose negotiations on behalf of Sinn Fein led to the Good Friday peace agreement, at 66, as a result of amyloidosis. "The cuddly, chess-playing and fly-fishing grandfather figure that he presented in later life was real - but so too was the guerrilla hard man of the 1970s, who neither smoked nor drank, partly because he was a member of the Catholic Pioneer temperance group, but also to minimise the pressures that might break him under interrogation"
* "Chuck Berry Dies at 90; Helped Define Rock 'n' Roll" Or, as Bill Wyman (no, not that one) put it, "Chuck Berry Invented the Idea of Rock and Roll." Brian May and Brian Wilson also gave tribute. But I loved this piece of information: "Chuck Berry reviewing old punk records remains one of my favourite things."
* "Chicago Blues Giant Lonnie Brooks Dead at 83"
* Bob Lee (1942-2017), after a battle with cancer. Black Panther and organizer Bob Lee forged the kind of revolutionary interracial solidarity desperately needed today. [...] In late 1968, Fred Hampton and Bob Lee indirectly created the original Rainbow Coalition. Led by the ILBPP, the Rainbow Coalition included the Young Lords, a socially conscious Puerto Rican gang; and the Young Patriots Organization (YPO), a group of Confederate-flag-wearing Southern white migrants."
* Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, and three of my favorite TV series.

Dad with super powers
* Stunt woman with cute bundle

Deadpool: The Musical

Baby Groot dancing

Steely Dan "Reelin' in the Years.