Startlingly, our members of Congress pretended to be hippies protesting right on the floor on behalf of a worrying version of anti-gun legislation. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor calls it "The Cynical Sit-In," saying, "The congressional sit-in was not just cynical political theater - it was for a deeply reactionary cause."
The idea that we can say it is a "right" to make, sell, buy, and own a particular sort of gun, but then say that we can deprive some people of that "right" if they happen to have landed on the terror watch-list or no-fly list (largely due to being brownish or Muslim, although you may recall that pacifist nuns have also found themselves on the latter list), which is something you don't even know in advance and have no means to challenge, sounds pretty creepy to anyone who thinks about civil liberties. You may also recall that US Senator Ted Kennedy spent months getting his name off the no-fly list, and the actor David Nelson (son of Ozzie and Harriet) found he was forbidden to fly. And so, for that matter, did one man who should know better: Congressman John Lewis.* Yet there are Lewis and all the other "liberal" Democrats claiming to "occupy" the House, presumably to dramatize Republican intransigence on gun control, which forces many of us to wonder why such a potentially useful tactic waited until now - for this issue, and after the votes have been taken and it's too late.
The failure of Republicans to act on gun control legislation is a curious breaking point for the Democratic Party. House Democrats have endured the political recalcitrance of the Republican Party without protest on any number of issues that affect millions of Americans.Indeed, there are other things going on right now that a stunt like this draws attention away from, such as Paul Ryan's latest proposal to "replace" Obamacare with measures that raise the age of Medicare eligibility to 67. But then, Democrats didn't seem to be that interested in fighting back when the age of retirement went up, and they still aren't saying anything about it.
Where have the sit-ins been to protest the continued cuts to social welfare? Where have the congressional protests been to demand affordable housing or a public option for healthcare? Where have the sit-ins been to demand an end to police brutality and mass incarceration?
None of which should surprise anyone at this late date, since it has long been obvious that the Democratic leadership hates liberalism:
Democrats did not merely stand by and watch as Republicans destroyed welfare, deregulated Wall Street, and passed disastrous trade deals: They have been at the front fighting, with impressive gusto, for the interests of corporate America and against the interests of those they claim to support.
President Obama has carried the baton with his endorsement of and aggressive lobbying for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement that, if passed, would grant corporations unprecedented power and influence.
Though her rhetoric has shifted drastically in the face of pressure from her left, Hillary Clinton represents more of the same - another self-styled progressive whose campaign is heavily bankrolled by some of America's largest financial institutions and whose agenda focuses almost entirely on tempering the expectations and ambitions of Democratic voters rather than pushing them upward.
Ah, but with the Clinton nomination in the bag, the Democrat Party wants to make sure its message is not lost on you. For example, here's the DNC Platform Committee voting down a living wage. Given that the platform isn't exactly binding, it's rather amazing that they wouldn't even give lip service to it. Oh, and they also voted down opposition to the TPP. The excuse for this is that they can't be seen to be opposing the policy of the Democratic president - but why is the Democratic president so busy opposing Democratic voters (and most everyone else) in an election year? That's inexcusable.
Bill McKibben says, "The Clinton Campaign Is Obstructing Change to the Democratic Platform." Cornel West says he can't support it.
Isn't it great to know they are on "our" side?
Over to Ian Welsh on Brexit. Cameron resigned after losing this one, which means more than a lot of people realize. Meanwhile, many European leaders reacted with statements to the effect that the EU needs to stop with the austerity and start taking care of their people again - there are some interesting quotes in this article (starting about halfway down the page). All over, people just plain hate the status quo.
* "People are really, really hoping this theory about David Cameron and Brexit is true [...] Perhaps many Brexiters do not realise it yet, but they have actually lost, and it is all down to one man: David Cameron. With one fell swoop yesterday at 9:15 am, Cameron effectively annulled the referendum result, and simultaneously destroyed the political careers of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and leading Brexiters who cost him so much anguish, not to mention his premiership."
* Glenn Greenwald, "Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions."
* Marcy Wheeler on NATO and Brexit
* Patrick Healy in The New York Times: "'Brexit' Revolt Casts a Shadow Over Hillary Clinton's Cautious Path [...] 'Brexit is clearly a cautionary tale for the Clinton campaign not to get too complacent with a potential victory,' said David B. Cohen, a professor of political science at the University of Akron. 'Trump, Sanders and those in Great Britain who ran the Leave campaign are tapping into an anger and anxiety that is clearly festering. Working-class folks in the United States are similar to working-class folks in Europe. And a lot of those working-class people feel as if the international economic system is not working for them and strangling the middle class.'" Clinton's people dismiss these concerns, with one saying, "Hillary Clinton understands we always need to change - but change that doesn't cause unintended consequences for the average American." Leaving aside the question of whether putting half the country into a depression was an intended consequence, Cory Robin has a few thoughts on Unintended Consequences, and his commenters discuss what "average American" must mean when she says it.
* Yves Smith, "Brexit: Fear, Loathing, and Anger on Both Sides of the Channel"
* Dean Baker, "On Brexit, Experts Leave Much to Be Desired."
* Bill Black on BREXIT: Populism and Democracy: Part 1, BREXIT Part 2: Roger Cohen
* Matt Taibbi, "The Reaction to Brexit Is the Reason Brexit Happened: If you believe there's such a thing as 'too much democracy,' you probably don't believe in democracy at all."
* Cory Doctorow, "Bernie Sanders on Brexit: urgent lessons for the Democrats"
Trust neoliberals to react to the opposition party's failures by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and trying to destroy their own party instead of capitalizing on the moment (which the Torygraph can tell you about its own self). Not content to watch the Tories blow up, the New Labour right decided to try to follow suit, and seems to have failed:
* The New Tory wing of the Labour Party tried to blame it all on Corbyn, but the unions are backing Jeremy, who sacked Hillary Benn in the wake of his blatant coup attempt.
* Richard Seymour at Vice says Corbyn has called the rebels' bluff: "Labour's No Confidence Vote is a Perfect Example of How Not to Do A Coup [...] Nevertheless, in so many of the resignation letters, there was also a carefully pitched plea for Corbyn to 'do the decent thing' and go. His refusal to comply, to the amusing exasperation of journalists and politicos alike, seems to have called their bluff. They seem to have no plan for the next steps. While those resigning claimed that Corbyn had 'lost the confidence of the party,' they seem determined not to test that in a leadership contest.
* "Is it true that a PR firm full of Blairites is orchestrating the Labour coup?" The author states up front that it's not true, but, curiously, provides no evidence that it couldn't be.
"House of Commons cafeteria runs out of knives: The House of Commons cafeteria has asked MPs if they'd mind returning the knives they currently have sticking out of their backs, as they've run out."
"Clinton's pledge to forgive student debt of entrepreneurs, not average workers, will benefit the elite: Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has pledged to help forgive the student loans of entrepreneurs and small business owners, yet has not made similar promises to help forgive the student debt of average workers. Clinton released her Initiative on Technology & Innovation on Tuesday. It reflects her neoliberal, technocratic vision of the economy."
A bit of a surprise when #BLM's Alicia Garza says she voted for Bernie. But she doesn't say she's sorry she undermined him to Clinton's benefit, despite her position on Clinton.
The death of Antonin Scalia has had fairly dramatic effects on the Supreme Court, as Ian Millhiser discussed with Sam Seder.
* Adam Liptak in the NYT, "Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions [...] The 5-to-3 decision was the court's most sweeping statement on abortion since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, which reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 in Roe v. Wade. It found that Texas' restrictions - requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers - violated Casey's prohibition on placing an 'undue burden' on the ability to obtain an abortion. If Casey limited the right established in Roe, allowing states to regulate abortion in ways Roe had barred, Monday's decision effectively expanded that right. It means that similar requirements in other states are most likely also unconstitutional, and it imperils many other kinds of restrictions on abortion."
* "Supreme Court Rules Domestic Abusers Can Lose Their Gun-Ownership Rights: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in a 6-2 vote that domestic abusers convicted of misdemeanors can be barred from owning firearms. The majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, concludes that misdemeanor assault convictions for domestic violence are sufficient to invoke a federal ban on firearms possession. [...] Five justices concurred in Kagan's opinion, while Justice Clarence Thomas dissented and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in part."
* On the other hand, "Sonia Sotomayor Blasts SCOTUS for Excusing 'Lawless Police Conduct' in 4th Amendment Case: In a 5-3 decision issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an illegal police stop and resulting drug arrest did not ultimately violate the Fourth Amendment because the officer later discovered an outstanding traffic warrant for the individual that he had illegally stopped." The "liberal" Stephen Breyer joined with Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Kennedy to agree that it is fine for police to illegally stop you and rummage around looking for an excuse to arrest you.
With ongoing ballot counts and recounts in California, Sanders' is closing in on Clinton in every county, and although a winning leap seems unlikely, the gap has narrowed in the state . And there are still the LA ballots remaining to count. (But don't hold your breath - what activists are doing out in the states is more important than this part of the process, now.) The latest story I've seen on the count is from Wednesday's Los Angeles Times.
* Testimonials from Poll Workers and Voters in LA County about the CA Primary on June 7, 2016. This isn't about intraparty politics, it's about a lack of funding for elections and a dearth of competent poll-workers. Still, it should be incomprehensible that an organ that calls itself "the Democratic Party" hasn't tried to do anything to alleviate any of the problems with election incompetence or fraud. (And, depressingly, some Clintonites have now been dismissing complaints about these things as "conspiracy theories". We are now being told that the only thing that went wrong in Florida in 2000 was Ralph Nader.)
* And on that subject, Matt Taibbi on "The Return of Lesser Evilism" With Trump on the other side, Democrats can be lazier than ever this election. [..] The problem with this line of thinking is that there's no end to it. If you think I owe you my vote because I recycle and enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird, you're not going to work very hard to keep it. That's particularly true if the only standard you think you need to worry about is not being worse than Donald Trump, which is almost the same as no standard at all. This is why the thinking within the Democratic Party has gotten so flabby over the years. It increasingly seems to rejoice in its voters' lack of real choices, and relies on a political formula that requires little input from anyone outside the Beltway."
"TransCanada formally seeks NAFTA damages in Keystone XL rejection: TransCanada Corp is formally requesting arbitration over U.S. President Barack Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, seeking $15 billion in damages, the company said in legal papers dated Friday."
"Bernie Sanders live address to supporters - What's next for the movement? (Full video and transcript)" Clintonistas heard only one thing from this: the absence of a concession and endorsement of their candidate.
Sneaky: You do a survey of voters and ask them to choose their preferred Democratic candidate, and even though many of them are Republicans whose vote in November will still to go the Republican or Libertarian, you treat all of those who chose Sanders as "Sanders supporters". When "Sanders supporters" seem to lean a bit to the right of Clinton supporters, you say Sanders supporters are less liberal - and the Clintonites catapult the propaganda. But when you take out the Republicans, you see something else entirely: "Interestingly, when we remove these GOP respondents from the pool, the sharpest differences between Sanders and Clinton supporters occur not on economic policy but on questions involving gender and race. And for all the online chatter about sexist 'Bernie Bros,' the ANES data offer little evidence that Sanders voters embrace him out of a desire to buttress their male identity. Sanders backers, for instance, were more likely to strongly endorse requiring employers to pay men and women equally for the same work. They were also much more assertive in their support for mandatory paid parental leave [...] Nor do the ANES data furnish much evidence that Sanders voters have been motivated by white racial resentment. Among Democrats and non-Republican-leaning independents, in fact, white Clinton supporters were more inclined than white Sanders supporters to say that blacks are 'lazy' or 'violent,' and that black people should work their way up 'without special favors.'"
"Now, Why Would Foreigners Want To Put Millions Into U.S. Politicians' Campaigns?: That foreign money floods into the American political system is hardly a secret, although it is illegal."
When asked back in April why no Wall Street executive went to jail for the massive mortgage fraud behind the financial crisis and robbed millions of Americans of their wealth, Hillary Clinton used a lot of words that amounted to there just not being any good cases or any firm laws or - well, what does she mean, exactly? "Are the laws insufficient? Therefore how do we try to make them tougher as a deterrent and make it clear to people in the financial services industry that there's a new sheriff in town so that there will be additional legal requirements and we will resource better." (New York Daily News interview.) No, no, no. The laws are on the books and clear, people have gone to jail in the past for violating such laws - fraud, forgery, and perjury are crimes. David Dayen has explained many times that the banks knew what they were doing was illegal, did it anyway, and got off the hook because the Obama administration ran interference for them. One person did go to jail, and is still there, for having done the banks' bidding: "The one person held accountable for foreclosure fraud was Lorraine Brown. She was the CEO of DocX. DocX was a third party company that actually created these fraudulent documents. She was arrested, charged and convicted for committing a conspiracy that was 'unbeknownst to DocX clients.' In other words, her clients - banks and mortgage companies - were asking for documents after the fact to support their foreclosure operations. However, somehow they didn't know that they were going to be fake documents - even though they couldn't be anything but fake because they were done after the fact. I describe Lorraine Brown as the private first class Lindy England of the foreclosure."
"US Government and Wall Street Played a Trick on Libya: Libya is suing Wall Street megabank Goldman Sachs for $1.2 billion dollars, claiming that it used different forms of corruption to secure high-risk contracts with Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) in 2008. According to the Libyan government, Goldman Sachs bankers used bribes, lavish gifts, and prostitutes to lock in contracts that turned out disastrous for the African nation. The trial, which begins this week in London, has made headlines, as many of the bank's top officials rotated into and out of influential government jobs, including managing partner Timothy Geithner, who was appointed Secretary of the Treasury under US President Barack Obama."
"Is This The Return Of U.S. 'Gunboat Diplomacy' Serving Corporations?: Colombia is allowing local production of a generic form of a cancer drug that is ultraexpensive because of a government-granted monopoly handed to a giant, multinational pharmaceutical corporation. The U.S. government is stepping in on the corporation's side with a modern form of 'gunboat diplomacy' - even though the giant corporation isn't even 'American.'"
"Former Rep. Frank urges White House, Congress to drop efforts to pass TPP" - Frank seems to have changed his mind based on the politics of trying to pass a bill everyone hates. Maybe he had a dream about guillotines....
"Only One Presidential Candidate Accepts Invite To Address National Congress Of American Indians: The National Congress of American Indians invited four presidential candidates to its mid-year conference in Spokane this week.Although Hillary Clinton is likely to be the Democratic party's nominee for President, Bernie Sanders is still on the campaign trail. In a three-and-a-half minute video message to the National Congress of American Indians, Sanders said he'd continue to fight for a progressive agenda."
"The US Is Sleepwalking Towards A Nuclear Confrontation." This podcast may be well worth your time.
"In Some States, Defendants Can Be Charged Hundreds of Dollars Just to Face a Jury: And other ways our judicial system bleeds the poor with debt."
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: explains that ISIS isn't about religion, it's about power, on Morning Joe (video).
"I Am An AR-15 Owner And I've Had Enough [...] Give me three 100 round drum magazines and I could hold my whole block hostage for a day. Give me thirty 10 round magazines and someone will be able to stop me."
"First female teen to win Ohio masonry competition bumped from national contest" - You know, I find myself really wanting to know what actually happened there.
Charles Murray, of all people, is making a case for "A Guaranteed Income for Every American," but at only $10,000 a year, it's not going to be enough to replace all other subsidies and grants for people who can't work.
This article at TPM is called "The History of Privateization," and it made me angry all over again. "'Thus a top priority,' Smith wrote, 'should be to identify Democratic senators and representatives who might be persuaded to support privatization and convince them to take the lead on the issue.' The liberal think tanks were also targeted. In 1988 the conservative Olin Foundation provided funding to the Brookings Institution for a book on education vouchers, and, throughout the 1990s, to the program on education policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. In the words of Olin's executive director, James Piereson, 'we were interested in getting these ideas ensconced at liberal places.'" Yes, converting the discourse from the Democratic side was a key priority for the right-wing, but this article does not mention the Democratic Leadership Council. I realize this is only Part One of a series, but once you start talking about Reagan, Al From is already on the scene. "In fact, Clinton succeeded where Reagan and Bush failed. Writing in 1997, the Heritage Foundation's Ron Utt (who had been Reagan's 'privatization czar') praised Clinton for pursuing 'the boldest privatization agenda put forth by any American president to date,' and noted that his proposals were 'virtually all drawn from recommendations made in 1988 by President Reagan's Commission on Privatization.' In 2006 Reason Foundation's Robert Poole declared that 'the Clinton administration's privatization successes exceeded those of Reagan.'" That's your DLC for you. (And no one ever seems to mention the Post Office, it's as if what they now call "socialism" didn't exist in America before. It's not a New Deal program; Benjamin Franklin created the US Post Office.)
Your Talking Dog has interviewed Rebecca Gordon, author of American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes. Gordon's earlier works include Mainstreaming Torture, Letters from Nicaragua, and Cruel and Usual: How Welfare 'Reform' Punishes Poor People. Sam Seder also interviewed her on The Majority Report.
The Clash, live, "Should I Stay or Should I Go"