Important bit of journalism that started with Sirota and the IBT seems to have led to a truly enormous piece of news: "U.S. antitrust officials set to challenge Anthem, Aetna deals: source: U.S. antitrust officials will file lawsuits to stop the two large health insurance deals they have been scrutinizing for a year, Anthem Inc's (ANTM.N) acquisition of Cigna Corp (CI.N) and Aetna Inc's (AET.N) takeover of Humana Inc (HUM.N), a person familiar with the matter told Reuters. Antitrust regulators have been concerned that consolidation of the nation's largest insurers would raise prices for Americans. Anthem and Aetna have said the deals will help consumers by giving the companies the scale to create more cost savings for customers." And here I was waiting for their merged company to be called "AnathemA". But at least it's being looked into. It would be nice to think we can go back to doing some serious trust-busting again.
"Munich Shooter Considered Himself Aryan, Admired Hitler and Breivik. No Wonder the Media Has Moved On: Sonboly was influenced by right-wing ideology, but German and U.S. media have cast him as just another shooter."
David Dayen, "Trouble for the TPP: Business groups' desperate PR campaign signals possible failure for trade deal: The fact that business groups are spending millions to influence pols to pass TPP shows the pact is in jeopardy " That would be great. Keep the pressure on.
Department of Nice Surprise: I don't expect much from Terry McAuliffe, but this is pretty good: "Governor McAuliffe Statement on the Virginia Supreme Court Decision on the Restoration of Civil Rights: Once again, the Virginia Supreme Court has placed Virginia as an outlier in the struggle for civil and human rights. It is a disgrace that the Republican leadership of Virginia would file a lawsuit to deny more than 200,000 of their own citizens the right to vote. And I cannot accept that this overtly political action could succeed in suppressing the voices of many thousands of men and women who had rejoiced with their families earlier this year when their rights were restored. Forty states give citizens who have made mistakes and paid their debt to society a straightforward process for restoring voting rights. I remain committed to moving past our Commonwealth's history of injustice to embrace an honest process for restoring the rights of our citizens, and I believe history and the vast majority of Virginians are on our side. Despite the Court's ruling, we have the support of the state's four leading constitutional experts, including A.E. Dick Howard, who drafted the current Virginia Constitution. They are convinced that our action is within the constitutional authority granted to the Office of the Governor. The men and women whose voting rights were restored by my executive action should not be alarmed. I will expeditiously sign nearly 13,000 individual orders to restore the fundamental rights of the citizens who have had their rights restored and registered to vote. And I will continue to sign orders until I have completed restoration for all 200,000 Virginians. My faith remains strong in all of our citizens to choose their leaders, and I am prepared to back up that faith with my executive pen. The struggle for civil rights has always been a long and difficult one, but the fight goes on."
* Don't worry, he reverted to type to pump for the TPP immediately.
"Texas Voter ID Law Violates Voting Rights Act, Court Rules: Texas' voter identification law violates the U.S. law prohibiting racial discrimination in elections, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed previous rulings that the 2011 voter ID law - which stipulates the types of photo identification election officials can and cannot accept at the polls - does not comply with the Voting Rights Act."
"Breaking and Analysis: Partially Divided 4th Circuit Strikes NC Strict Voting Law, Finds Discriminatory Intent" - Interestingly, one of the citations included was this Aasif Manvi interview from The Daily Show.
Ari Berman in The Nation, "6 Major GOP Voting Restrictions Have Been Blocked in 2 Weeks: The Republican war on voting rights is backfiring." The language has been pretty sharp, too. Ari talked about it with Sam Seder on The Majority Report.
"Flint, Michigan, Now Has Nobody Collecting the City's Garbage" - er, the mayor is a Democrat.
"Obama Signs Industry-Backed GMO Label Bill Into Law: Looks like we're finally getting GMO labels on food products - just not the kind you can actually read. " The bill "allows businesses to use a smartphone scannable QR code instead of clear, concise wording that informs consumers if a product contains genetically modified ingredients." It also nullifies state laws on labeling.
Apparently, Clinton decided to forgo assassination insurance and produced a very short list of horrible choices for her understudy (including Vilsack and this guy), and then picked Tim Kaine, and no one was jumping for joy.
* "Making the Case to Clinton: Tim Kaine, Campaigning for VP, Calls For Deregulating Banks"
"Democrats Add Major Abortion Rights Pledge To Proposed Platform: The platform draft supports a repeal of the Helms Amendment, which blocks abortion access for women abroad."
"Why Is President Obama Lying About Patrick Murphy's Record?: The TV spot targeting African-American voters in Tallahassee and Jacksonville that Obama cut for Patrick Murphy's drowning Senate primary campaign puts the president's credibility dangerously on the line. Murphy's record in the House is unquestionably one of the most reactionary and blatantly anti-progressive of any Democrat serving in the House. He has been an unabashed advocate for cutting Social Security and Medicare, an unflinching ally of Wall Street and payday loan predators and a consistent backer of Republican initiatives against the environment and, in fact, against the Obama administration itself. "
"Obama To Police: 'We Have Your Backs'; Yes, the President of the United States, in the aftermath of the police murders in Dallas and Baton Rouge, has gotten off the fence. Up to now, he spoke in irreconcilable tones in an effort to offend no one, no side, by arguing that police were needlessly killing black men while praising the police for the great job they were doing, when he just said the job they were doing was needlessly killing black men."
Dean Baker: "NYT Does Impassioned Pitch for TPP in Its News Section: "It is incredible that the NYT tried to present the current debate as a narrow one over traditional issues of trade and protection. This is obviously not the case and there are no shortage of experts who could have explained this fact to its reporter. A good place to start would be the Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, who also happens to be a NYT columnist. Joe Stiglitz, another Nobel Prize winning economist, could have also explained the nature of these trade agreements to its reporter."
It seems Scotland and Ireland can veto Brexit. We'll have to see what happens,there.
A journalist for the WSJ encounters Homeland Security at LAX: "But then she asked me for my two cellphones. I asked her what she wanted from them. 'We want to collect information' she said, refusing to specify what kind. And that is where I drew the line -- I told her I had first amendment rights as a journalist she couldn't violate and I was protected under. I explained I had to protect my government and military sources -- over the last month, I have broken two stories that deeply irked the US government, in addition to other stories before I went on maternity leave, including one in Kabul that sparked a Congressional investigation into US military corruption, all stories leaked by American officials speaking to me in confidence. 'Did you just admit you collect information for foreign governments?' she asked, her tone turning hostile. 'No, that's exactly not what I just said,' I replied, explaining again why I would not hand over my phones. She handed me a DHS document, a photo of which I've attached. It basically says the US government has the right to seize my phones and my rights as a US citizen (or citizen of the world) go out the window. This law applies at any point of entry into the US, whether naval, air or land and extends for 100 miles into the US from the border or formal points of entry. So, all of NY city for instance. If they forgot to ask you at JFK airport for your phones, but you're having a drink in Manhattan the next day, you technically fall under this authority. And because they are acting under the pretense to protect the US from terrorism, you have to give it up. So I called their bluff."
"Would Turkey Be Justified in Kidnapping or Drone-Killing the Turkish Cleric in Pennsylvania?: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan places the blame for this weekend's failed coup attempt on an Islamic preacher and one-time ally, Fethullah Gulen (above), who now resides in Pennsylvania with a green card. Erdogan is demanding the U.S. extradite Gulen, citing prior extraditions by the Turkish government of terror suspects demanded by the U.S.: 'Now we're saying deliver this guy who's on our terrorist list to us.' Erdogan has been requesting Gulen's extradition from the U.S. for at least two years, on the ground that he has been subverting the Turkish government while harbored by the U.S. Thus far, the U.S. is refusing, with Secretary of State John Kerry demanding of Turkey: 'Give us the evidence, show us the evidence. We need a solid legal foundation that meets the standard of extradition.'"
An After School Satan Club could be coming to your kid's elementary school [...] They're here plotting to bring their wisdom to the nation's public elementary school children. They point out that Christian evangelical groups already have infiltrated the lives of America's children through after-school religious programming in public schools, and they appear determined to give young students a choice: Jesus or Satan."
The Talking Dog interview with Pardiss Kebriaei, "a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she works on challenging U.S. government abuses in the national security context, including representation of current and former Guantanamo detainees, and others implicated in or affected by the "war on terror." She also advocates on behalf of other cases as part of the No Separate Justice Campaign, a grassroots initiative formed to shed light on unjust domestic terrorism prosecutions."
Michael Moore thinks Trump will win. His reasons are not that crazy, but I still don't think he will. Yes, I realize it was a total screw-up for the DNC to court another election that's closer than it ought to be, but a lot of people really don't like Trump. Nevertheless, a word of warning: Clinton and her cronies have earned themselves a lot of ill-feeling from people who they could have made allies if they had wanted to, and decisions like that do not generate respect for her integrity or her decision-making.
The RNC had their convention and everyone ended up talking about how "Melania's Plagiarism Actually Just Shows How Vapid Political Speeches Are" so no one would notice how neatly Michelle Obama's words fit into a GOP convention: "Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond... Because we want our children and all children in this nation - to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them." As opposed to all those lazy poor people who don't get to the White House.
* I saw an announcement that "GOP Platform to Call for Reinstatement of Glass-Steagall" but when I tried to find it in the Platform it made me fall asleep.
* I had Trump's speech on in the background and it was all over the place. The weirdest part was at the end where he started saying a bunch of liberal-sounding stuff. This kind of thing is inspiring Thomas Frank to write a warning: "Hillary Clinton Needs to Wake Up. Trump Is Stealing the Voters She Takes for Granted: For the first time in living memory, the Republicans are outflanking the Democrats on the left. If they don't rise to the challenge, they'll be trounced [...] The question we need to ask is this: what are the consequences of the violent disruption Trump has visited on our delicately balanced political system? Look what he has done. He has dynamited the free-trade consensus that dominated Washington for so many years, he has done it with force, and in the process he has made himself the choice of many millions of Americans who have watched their economic situation deteriorate and heard their concerns brushed off by the Thomas Friedmans and the Bill Clintons of the world. Think about it this way. For years, Republican orthodoxy on trade made possible endless Democratic sell-outs of working people, with the two-party consensus protecting the D's from any consequences. They could ram Nafta through Congress, they could do trade deals with China, they could negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership, they could attend their conferences at Davos and congratulate themselves for being so global and so enlightened, secure in the belief that the people whose livelihoods they had just ruined had 'nowhere else to go'. [...] In other words, it was only possible for our liberal leaders to be what they are - a tribe of sunny believers in globalization and its favored classes - as long as the Republicans held down their left flank for them. Democrats could only celebrate globalization's winners and scold its uneducated losers so long as there was no possibility that they might face a serious challenge on the matter from the other party in the system."
* "Jon Stewart's Closing Monologue on The Late Show is a Must-Watch."
And then the Democrats had their convention. The press focused on acrimony and Clintonites in social media obediently ranted at their friends about how stupid they were for still daring to criticize The Nominee. Then suddenly the DNC emails story breaks in the mainstream and the Clinton/DNC team (which we know were one and the same) are working heavy damage control, trying to blame the Russians while continuing to accuse Sanders supporters of originating strong language and conspiracy theories. But eventually the DNC had to admit the emails were genuine and apologized to Sanders, and even Harry Reid admitted that, "I knew - everybody knew - that this was not a fair deal." Well, we knew that. We all knew that, the minute we found out about the Democratic debate schedule. An awful lot of people seem to have forgotten how important the primary season is for creating new party activists who may ultimately evolve into your bench of future candidates. Anyone who pretends to care about downticket races yet nevertheless defends DWS' debate schedule is talking crap, because the debates are a big deal in generating excitement for the current race that turns into activism and leadership. In 2007, the debates started in April and there were 13 events before October, and 13 more after that. It generated A LOT of interest and excitement for the party.
In 2015, Debbie Wasserman Schultz decreed that there would be only six debates (eventually adding a few more only because Clinton agreed, though she backed out of the promised California debate), and the first of these was not held until October 13th. So the DNC wasted an entire summer season and rather than generating enthusiasm, alienated numerous new activists who might otherwise have become reliable party activists, voters, and possibly future leaders. Now, you can say this was because the fix was in for Hillary, or you can say, "Of course they did, they hate liberal progressives and don't want them in the party in the first place," but you can't say the primaries weren't rigged. Of course they were.
* "Bernie Sanders to Return to Senate as an Independent: Democratic runner-up says more DNC staff should leave over emails."
* The Republicans got the traditional bump from their convention, bringing Trump up to parity or better with Clinton in many polls, but the Dem convention seems to have more than erased that effect and now she is looking good for November.
Oh, you know how in recent years every protest demonstration at a political convention seems to result in large numbers of outrageously out-of-order arrests? Didn't' have that in Philly. "Here's What Philly Cops Thought of the DNC Protests: We don't know if we can handle all of these good vibes."
Unsurprisingly, Trump actually got a bump from the GOP convention and a lot of people got into a frenzy because he was running so close to Clinton, but then Clinton got an even bigger bump.
* RCP Trump-Clinton electoral vote map
* Electoral-Vote.com map
* If nothing "interesting" happens, Hillary will probably win pretty big. On the other hand, that could all go topsy-turvey in the event of the economy tanking again.
The scam of the Clinton Victory Fund was also exposed for all to see, showing that all that money people thought they were giving to downticket races and local parties (because the campaign said it was) was actually going straight to Clinton. Matt Taibbi: "What does it all mean? If you're a Clinton fan, probably nothing. To anyone else, it shows that the primary season was very far from a fair fight. The Sanders camp was forced to fund all of its own operations, while the Clinton campaign could essentially use the entire Democratic Party structure as adjunct staff. The DNC not only wasn't neutral, but helped with oppo research against Sanders and media crisis management. DNC chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign as a result of this mess, which exposed to Sanders voters the extent to which they were viewed organizationally as annoyances to be managed. The immediate question going forward for the party is whether the two camps can put aside their differences in time to defeat the more-than-a-little-scary Donald Trump. But down the road, someone will have to address the problem of a Democratic Party structure that effectively had no internal advocates for a full 43 percent of its voters. As we've seen with the Trump episode on the other side, people don't much like having to fight against the party claiming to represent them."
Anyway, Sandernistas were pretty upset and in no mood to forgive, a few of them even booed Bernie for being a turncoat for going along with the party and speaking for Clinton and all. It was less of a big deal than the press made it out to be, but there was still a lot of grumbling. But inside the hall it was mostly business as usual except for a few moments when the warhawks decided to shout down the peacenicks with "USA! USA!" Which sounds so much less jingoistic when Democrats do it, right? No.
* Here's Elizabeth Warren's speech, where she points out that DC has no problem with partisan gridlock when it comes to giving the bad guys what they want. And here's Bernie's.
* Obama made his speech and I swear it sounded like he was biting back a laugh when he talked about how hard Clinton has fought for working people. Listening to him and Biden talk about how wonderful Clinton is and her sincere commitment to teachers and families was pretty bitter brew for me, but a lot of my friends professed to be in tears and wishing for four more years.
On Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman moderated a discussion between two left-progressives on how to deal with it all, a conversation you are unlikely to hear elsewhere, at least with such civility: "Kshama Sawant vs. Rebecca Traister on Clinton, Democratic Party & Possibility of a Female President." A pullquote: "So, if you look at the significance of her being the first female nominee, I understand the appeal of that, I'm sympathetic to that. But here's what I would say. I actually - you know, all throughout this campaign season, I was reminded of a show - an episode that you played, Amy, in 2008, when you had Melissa Harris-Perry and Gloria Steinem debating, and Gloria was saying, "Well, if you're a woman, you need to vote for Hillary Clinton," and Melissa was saying, "Well, if you're a person of color, you need to vote for Obama." And I was sitting there watching as a woman of color, saying neither of these candidates represent my interests as a woman of color. And the reason I say that is it has less to do with their identity and far more to do with the interests they represent."
So. Is this really An election of and for Class?
Ted Rall on "The Logic of Lesser Evilism"
A number of progressives are just throwing up their hands: "I have come to terms with the fact that the Republicans will eventually get the White House. They always do at some point. It's inevitable. The Supreme Court is always an issue, as is abortion, as is every single important social issue you can name. There will never come an election where those are not issues. And I've come to realize why it is that when we give you Democrats the ball on all of this, you drop it every time in the name of 'bipartisanship'. It's because you like things the way they are, no less than the Republicans, and pretending to give a damn about social issues will keep us voting for you like robots every time. But you can't afford to actually fix the problems because then you wouldn't be able to scare us into voting for you. You don't even really want to fix those problems. You have just as much contempt and hatred for the peasantry, for civil rights, for democracy, as do the Republicans, and you only pretend to care because it's a convenient tool to get people to vote for you without thinking."
"Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors: POGO's study analyzed the total compensation paid to federal and private sector employees, and annual billing rates for contractor employees across 35 occupational classifications covering over 550 service activities. Our findings were shocking - POGO estimates the government pays billions more annually in taxpayer dollars to hire contractors than it would to hire federal employees to perform comparable services."
"IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro and apologises for the immolation of Greece: The International Monetary Fund's top staff misled their own board, made a series of calamitous misjudgments in Greece, became euphoric cheerleaders for the euro project, ignored warning signs of impending crisis, and collectively failed to grasp an elemental concept of currency theory. This is the lacerating verdict of the IMF's top watchdog on the fund's tangled political role in the eurozone debt crisis, the most damaging episode in the history of the Bretton Woods institutions. It describes a 'culture of complacency', prone to 'superficial and mechanistic' analysis, and traces a shocking breakdown in the governance of the IMF, leaving it unclear who is ultimately in charge of this extremely powerful organisation."
"Get out your wallets, America: It might not be long before we're bailing out 'too big to fail' banks again: Despite assurances that things changed after 2008, banks are bigger, less transparent and riskier than ever." Wouldn't it be amazing if Hillary Clinton nationalized the banks and arrested those guys at the top who... nah, that's never gonna happen.
You probably have to log in to Facebook to read these, but if you can stand to:
* I know we're not supposed to acknowledge it, but Republican operatives do own and control most of the electronic voting machines in the country. Is it just possible that they could be fixing the results? In this Excerpt from 'An Electoral System In Crisis', Election Justice USA says it looks like they are.
* Blue America says, "'Party Unity' is a Two Way Street" - and Steve Israel et al. are once again doing their best to sabotage the Democratic candidate because she resoundingly beat "some guy" they dug up to try to defeat the grassroots candidate in the primary, and she won anyway. "His Wall Street-backed candidate, Bill Golderer, who was overwhelmingly rejected by all the Democratic and allied organizations in the district, brought in $375,402 for the primary. Israel's negative onslaught made it impossible for Mary Ellen to spend even $50,000. But local Democrats decided to stand up and tell the DCCC what to do with their candidate and their attempt to take over PA-07. On primary night Mary Ellen beat Golderer and the DCCC by a stunning 51,525 (73.8%) to 18,276 (26.2%). The DCCC immediately removed all mentions of PA-07 from their boards and website. They removed Golderer from Red to Blue of course but didn't replace him with Mary Ellen. They just decided to pretend that the once "must-win" district no longer exists-- like Pelosi's sometime mantra. 'When women win, America wins.' [...] And it isn't just Mary Ellen's campaign being singled out and targeted by the DCCC. Nope, while Pelosi's political arm prepares to spend tens of millions of dollars to rescue the failing careers of incumbents hated by Democratic voters-- like Collin Peterson and Brad Ashord, each of whom votes far more with the GOP on core issues than with the Democrats-- the DCCC has adamantly refused to get behind progressives like Mary Ellen who have already won their primaries and will face Republicans in November." If you have extra dosh to help grassroots candidates, follow the links.
Also on FB, a provocative piece from C'helle Egalite Griffin: "We know what Donald Trump has promised to do. He has promised to build a wall between the US and Mexico. Clinton, though, has actually supported deportations of workers and the harassment of Mexican people under a banner of "immigration reform." We know Donald Trump likes to talk about warring against Muslims; Clinton, though, has actually destroyed Muslim countries and incited--yes, incited, and not coincidentally--sectarian violence in those countries. We know Donald Trump likes to talk about taking food stamps out of poor parents' hands and making them "get off their asses." Clinton, though, has actually taken food stamps and other assistance away from the poor."
Glenn Greenwald: "One of the things that is bothering me and bothered me about the Brexit debate, and is bothering me a huge amount about the Trump debate, is that there is zero elite reckoning with their own responsibility in creating the situation that led to both Brexit and Trump and then the broader collapse of elite authority. The reason why Brexit resonated and Trump resonated isn't that people are too stupid to understand the arguments. The reason they resonated is that people have been so fucked by the prevailing order in such deep and fundamental and enduring ways that they can't imagine that anything is worse than preservation of the status quo."
Eric Levitz in New York Magazine, "Liberals Need to Stop Writing Off Non-College Educated Workers - Before the White Working Class Writes Off Liberals: To retain the party's current share of the demographic, Democrats will need to make their economic pitch more salient than the right-wing's nationalist appeals. There are many ways to go about this task. But a good first step would be to stop insinuating that non-college educated workers are destined to live miserable lives because their skills are obsolete."
"How an obscure adviser to Pat Buchanan predicted the wild Trump campaign in 1996:
[S]ooner or later, as the globalist elites seek to drag the country into conflicts and global commitments, preside over the economic pastoralization of the United States, manage the delegitimization of our own culture, and the dispossession of our people, and disregard or diminish our national interests and national sovereignty, a nationalist reaction is almost inevitable and will probably assume populist form when it arrives. The sooner it comes, the better... [Samuel Francis in Chronicles]"
Lee Camp reckons Bernie really won the primaries. Well, I don't know about that, but what I do know is that, yes, there's no reason to trust the results of hackable electronic voting machines. And it's worrying that so many Democratic voters mysteriously discovered when they went to vote that their registrations had been changed in recent months - and that one woman who went to court to challenge that change was able to prove that her signature had been forged. How does that happen?
This blast from the past from Matt Stoller is a grim reminder: "Understanding the Strategy of the Democratic Power Class"
Pearls Before Swine on the campaign trail
"Do You Eat Like a Republican or a Democrat?" - take the test. I did, and it was annoying, because I wouldn't order either of those pizzas (not enough cheese, for one thing), and in a lot of other cases the answer is, "Which one did I have last time?" Also, do I have to have my BLT on brown bread with Romaine lettuce instead of white toast with iceberg? I've never had a summer roll but I'd be happy to try one - but that doesn't mean I don't eat egg rolls.
RIP: "Marni Nixon, 86: The 'ghost' who sang for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, for Deborah Kerr in The King and I and for Natalie Wood in West Side Story."
* Here she is back on the day on To Tell the Truth, and here she is looking back.
Michael Dirda gave Lucy Sussex a really good review in the WaPo for Blockbuster! Fergus Hume & the Mystery of a Hansom Cab, the story behind the best selling crime novel of the 19th century.
Trailer for Zhang Yimou's The Great Wall