"Obama puts Congress on notice: TPP is coming: The White House put Congress on notice Friday morning that it will be sending lawmakers a bill to implement President Barack Obama's landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement - a move intended to infuse new energy into efforts to ratify the flat-lining trade pact. The move establishes a 30-day minimum before the administration can present the legislation, but the White House is unlikely to do so amid the heated rhetoric of a presidential campaign in which both major party nominees have depicted free trade deals as massive job killers. Friday's notification is the clearest signal yet that the White House is serious about getting Obama's legacy trade deal - the biggest in U.S. history - passed by the end of the year, as he has vowed to do despite the misgivings of Republican leaders and the outright opposition of a majority of Democrats in Congress." I was pretty sure as soon as Hillary started using stronger anti-TPP language that she knew Obama was going to push for it to be a done deal in the lame duck and ostensibly take it out of her hands.
* "Sanders to Democrats: Rule out lame-duck vote on trade deal: It is now time for the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate and the House to join Secretary Clinton and go on the record in opposition to holding a vote on this job-killing trade deal during the lame-duck session of Congress and beyond."
* "Liberals rally to sink Obama trade deal: Liberals are amping up their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on and off of Capitol Hill, amid escalating concerns that the package will get an 11th hour vote after the November elections. Republican leaders in both chambers have said it's unlikely the mammoth Pacific Rim trade deal will reach the floor this year. But the accord remains a top priority for President Obama in the twilight of his final term, and the critics - leery of pro-TPP members in both parties - aren't taking anything for granted."
Bless you, Zephyr Teachout! David Dayen in The New Republic, "Debate the Billionaires! What do you do as a politician when billionaire plutocrats drop millions of dollars into a super PAC dedicated to ending your career? Democrats will need to answer this question, and fast. As desperation sets in with the Donald Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee is considering cutting its losses and re-directing funds to save the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. And right-wing super PAC helmsmen, from the Koch Brothers to Karl Rove, have been training their eye on Congress for months. This means dozens of Democrats will likely see attack ads and mailers blanketing their districts this October. One candidate has come up with a plan to deal with this, and it could become a model for how to, at least, raise awareness of the effort by Big Money to effectively buy congressional races. Zephyr Teachout, a progressive populist hoping to take over an open seat in upstate New York currently held by the GOP, has challenged her opponent to a debate. Not the Republican candidate, but his wealthy super PAC donors. [...] 'We can't let billionaire donors buy off politicians and get away with being faceless names on a filing,' Teachout told me. 'People deserve to know who's trying to take away their right to choose their representatives.'"
"Fox, Meet Henhouse: FDA Says Food Makers Can Decide Which Food Additives Are Safe: If you want proof that our food system is corporate-friendly rather than consumer-friendly, putting consumer health at unnecessary risk, take a look at the FDA's Final Rule on Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), which was released last Friday. It's a doozy. The agency announced it will continue to allow food manufacturers to decide whether new food additives that preserve, flavor, blend or add texture to food can be safely added to processed food or drink. Yes, you read that correctly. The food company, which may have a financial interest in using the food additive, gets to decide its safety while the FDA does not have to do a review."
"US justice department announces it will end use of private prisons: [...] Yates said in her memo that research had found private prisons 'simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources' and 'do not save substantially on costs' either. Essential government education and training programs for prisoners 'have proved difficult to replicate and outsource' in the private sector, she said. The decision was announced days after the Department of Justice's inspector general released a damning investigation report. It found instances of inmate-on-inmate assaults were 28% higher in contract prisons than in government-run facilities, and that the confiscation of contraband mobile phones occurred eight times more frequently. Federal inmates in private prisons were found to be nine times more likely to be placed on lockdown than those at other federal prisons, and were frequently subjected to arbitrary solitary confinement." Well, yes, all the things we warned against, not to mention the creation of a powerful lobbying industry that has, among other things, sucked up precious state funds as well, made more things crimes, and increased the likelihood that kids who normally might have had nothing worse than detention to deal with suddenly ended up being dragged out in cuffs and incarcerated. The very idea that "the Land of the Free" actually allowed a private prison system is unbearably shameful. Unfortunately, it's not only the federal government that's been playing this game, and the states are still riddled with this corrupt system.
"The Justice Department's stunning report on the Baltimore Police Department [...] As you might expect, all of these problems are exacerbated in black neighborhoods, where stops, use of force and unlawful arrests are far more common, even after controlling for racial demographics. There's also just routine harassment. One officer told DOJ investigators that she likes to disperse (usually black) youths in public spaces because it 'looks bad.' She recalled another time when she told a man and his four-year-old son to leave a playground because they 'couldn't just stand around' and 'needed to move.' [...] In fact, the report found that officers routinely described clearly unconstitutional stops and arrests in their police reports. I suppose it's at least good that they're forthcoming about it. But it suggests either a department that doesn't bother educating its officers about the constitutional rights of the people they serve, or that enforcement of those rights is so lax that officers have no qualms about documented their own unconstitutional behavior. I'm not sure which is worse. [...] Just so we're clear, the sergeant not only instructed a subordinate to violate the men's constitutional rights by concocting a lie, he did so while knowingly in the presence of DOJ monitors. That's some serious cultural and institutional rot. In another incident, the report describes how several officers detained a man whose only offense was to be in a 'high-crime area' with his hands in his pockets. (The DOJ report notes that it happened to be a cold January morning.) After repeated questioning, the officers found a (perfectly legal) kitchen knife in his possession. They then illegally arrested him. When he resisted, they beat and Tased him to the point that he needed medical care. He was never charged with a crime. In his report, the supervising sergeant praised the officers for their 'great restraint and professionalism.'"
* "Everything Wrong With How Our Justice System Treats Poor People, In One Awful Case" - Well, not everything, but it's a pretty big thing.
"At Least 20 Casualties in Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Yemen: A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Yemen's northern Hajja province on Monday, Reuters reports. At least seven people were killed and 13 wounded."
* Marcy Wheeler, "Six Years Later, the US Continues to Facilitate Saudi War Crimes."
"Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace: In a stunning diplomatic surprise, Turkey and Iran have announced a preliminary agreement on fundamental principles for a settlement of the Syrian conflict. The dramatic turn in the diplomacy of the Syria War was revealed in Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's regular weekly speech to the ruling AKP Party in the parliament and confirmed by a senior Iranian foreign ministry official Tuesday. Both Yildirim's speech and the Iranian corroboration were reported Tuesday by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Al-Hayat, Arabic-language newspapers published in London, but the potentially pivotal development has been unreported thus far in Western news media."
"Feds can't spend money to prosecute people who comply with state medical pot laws, court rules: A U.S. appeals court decided unanimously Tuesday that the federal government may not prosecute people who grow and distribute medical marijuana if they are complying with state laws. Congress in the last two years has banned the federal government from spending money in ways that would thwart state medical marijuana laws. The U.S. Department of Justice contended the ban did not undermine its right to prosecute growers and distributors under federal law, even in states where medical cannabis was legal. But in the first federal appellate decision on the subject, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban prevents the government from spending money on prosecutions of people whose marijuana activities were legal in their states."
Big health insurers are pulling out of Obamacare in spite of its giveaway to them. Apparently, they just can't cope with the meager requirement that they actually do at least a little insuring. But Aetna is actually doing it as blackmail. The Wall Street Journal says, "To Sanders, Aetna's Pull-Back from Affordable Care Act Markets Shows Need for Overhaul: Sen. Bernie Sanders, who mounted a strong challenge for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Tuesday that news that a major health insurer was pulling back its participation in the Affordable Care Act exchanges affirms the need for his single-payer, government-run program. He promised to introduce legislation creating 'Medicare for all' again next year. This week, Aetna Inc. said it will withdraw from 11 of the 15 states where it currently offers plans, the latest major national insurer to sharply pull back its participation."
"Hillary Clinton Appoints Ken Salazar To Lead White House Transition. Salazar is a prime example of a revolving-door traveler of the very kind that Clinton purports to oppose. And, "In November, Salazar authored a joint oped with former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt saying 'The TPP is a strong trade deal that will level the playing field for workers to help middle-class families get ahead. It is also the greenest trade deal ever.' Politico reports that Salazar is now opposing a ballot measure designed to restrict fracking in his home state of Colorado. He has previously asserted that 'there's not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone.'
* "Hillary Clinton Picks TPP and Fracking Advocate To Set Up Her White House.TWO BIG ISSUES dogged Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) and fracking. She had a long history of supporting both. Under fire from Bernie Sanders, she came out against the TPP and took a more critical position on fracking. But critics wondered if this was a sincere conversion or simply campaign rhetoric. Now, in two of the most significant personnel moves she will ever make, she has signaled a lack of sincerity. She chose as her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine, who voted to authorize fast-track powers for the TPP and praised the agreement just two days before he was chosen. And now she has named former Colorado Democratic Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to be the chair of her presidential transition team - the group tasked with helping set up the new administration should she win in November. That includes identifying, selecting, and vetting candidates for over 4,000 presidential appointments."
* "Progressive Clinton supporters: You broke it, you bought it: With Donald Trump tanking in the polls, there's room for progressives to simultaneously crush his bid for the presidency while holding Hillary Clinton's feet to the fire on the TPP. She's now appointed two pro-TPP politicians to key positions on her campaign - Tim Kaine as her Vice President and Ken Salazar to lead her presidential transition team. It's time for progressives who helped Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in the primary to take the lead on holding her accountable. Progressives who supported Clinton in the primary should use their leverage to ensure Clinton makes good on her vow to stop TPP and keep other promises she made on the campaign trail to win progressive votes. Bernie supporters will have your back, but it's up to you to lead on this one."
Pierce: "Why Is Hillary Clinton Bragging About This Endorsement? A recurring series. In her continuing tour of the dingier side of the 20th Century American diplomatic elite, Hillary Rodham Clinton picked up the endorsement on Wednesday of one John Negroponte." Sam Seder thinks the news was released by some younger person in the campaign who didn't know who Negroponte was. Let's hope that's true, but it seems like Clinton has been courting these endorsements.
In the face of continuing charges of corruption about what appears to have been a little too much horse-trading between foreign donors and Hillary Clinton's state department, we get the announcement that the "Clinton Foundation won't accept foreign money if Hillary wins". But even Jonathan Chait can see that "Hillary Clinton's Ethics Problems Are Worse Than She Understands," although he is still making excuses. Yes, it's particularly short-sighted for someone who knows she has been under a microscope for decades to do something that looks so corrupt, but no one should be acting with such an overt conflict, regardless of who them are.
"Federal judge refers Sheriff Joe Arpaio for criminal contempt: A federal judge on Friday referred Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and three of his aides to the U.S. Attorney's Office, requesting that they be prosecuted for criminal contempt of court. The landmark decision comes after U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow found that Arpaio intentionally violated various orders rooted in an 8-year-old racial-profiling case. The judge's order also refers Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Arpaio's former defense attorney Michele Iafrate, and Capt. Steve Bailey for prosecutors to consider criminal contempt charges against them as well. The sheriff and Sheridan already have been held in civil contempt of court. Potential penalties are steeper in a criminal case, and only criminal contempt could result in incarceration." This should have happened a long time ago and should end up with Arpaio in jail. We'll be watching.
Whistleblower Retaliation Alive and Well at Hanford: It's getting real out at Hanford in eastern Washington, the site of the most expensive (and likely dangerous) environmental clean-up in the world. On July 21, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, along with watchdog group Hanford Challenge and UA Local Union 598 Plumbers and Steamfitters, filed an emergency legal motion asking US Judge Thomas Rice to intervene and force the US Department of Energy and federal contractor Washington River Protection Solutions to protect their workers from toxic vapor exposure at the site. [...] Allegedly, that 'culture of indifference' is what got Sandra Black, an employee concerns program manager (ECP), fired in January 2015. Black, who worked for DOE contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), was in charge of hearing out grievances raised by workers who have safety concerns, such as those working at Hanford. Black claims that she was terminated after speaking to investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO)."
"The Raid: In Bungled Spying Operation, NSA Targeted Pro-Democracy Campaigner." He had committed no crime, but "Ony Fullman is a middle-aged former tax man and a pro-democracy activist. But four years ago, a botched operation launched by New Zealand spies meant he suddenly found himself deemed a potential terrorist - his passport was revoked, his home was raided, and he was placed on a top-secret National Security Agency surveillance list."
"4 Years Later, Sweden Accepts Ecuador's Offer to Hear Assange: More than four years after Ecuador offered Swedish authorities the opportunity to interview Julian Assange in the nation's London Embassy, a deal appears to have been struck Wednesday after Ecuador's attorney general responded positively to a request from the Swedish government to interview the WikiLeaks founder in the building. [...] The WikiLeaks founder entered his fifth year inside the Ecuadorean Embassy on June 20 in conditions the United Nations has deemed arbitrary detention. Swedish and British authorities dismissed the U.N. ruling, which was made a day before the former requested to interview Assange in London. Ecuador's decision to continue to grant asylum to Assange has sparked friction with not just Sweden and the U.S., but also the U.K. But on Wednesday Ecuador's Foreign Ministry was unequivocal in reaffirming the country's support for both the U.N. ruling and the whistleblower's continued asylum."
Elizabeth Warren demands open access to data from patient trials of drugs: "'I appreciate that there are many policy, privacy, and practical issues that need to be addressed in order to make data sharing practical and useful for the research community,' Warren wrote in an editorial in the venerable New England Journal of Medicine, 'but the stakes are too high to step back in the face of that challenge.'"
Matt Taibbi, "The Summer of the Shill: Campaign 2016 won't just have lasting implications for American politics. It's obliterated what was left of our news media [...] It's not that stations were wrong to denounce Trump's comments. He deserves it all. But he's not the only stupid, lying, corrupt politician in the world, which is the impression one could easily get watching certain stations these days. These all-Trump, all-the-time story lineups are like Fox in reverse. The commercial media has devolved, finally, into two remarkably humorless messaging platforms."
Well, even The Atlantic is asking the question, now: "Is the U.S. Due for Radically Raising Taxes for the Rich?" Oh, gods, yes. Yes, it is.
"Clinton courts the right: Attacking Trump as aberration rather than apotheosis gives Republicans a pass: Donald Trump has made this election, like everything else, about Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton, happily skewering him as he blows up his campaign with ruinous attacks on fellow Republicans and myriad others, has zero problems with this. But critics on the left do, because by playing it safe Clinton is sending troubling if unsurprising signals about the agenda she will set as president, and also missing a historic opportunity to crush the Republican Party in a moment of acute vulnerability. Instead of aggressively making the case that Trump represents the worst of Republican greed and bigotry, she is inviting their leaders and donors to join her campaign en masse."
Erik Levitz in New York Magazine, "Disagreeing With the Elite Consensus on Trade, Immigration, or Foreign Policy Does Not Make One a Trump 'Enabler': On Monday, Kirchick wrote a piece titled 'Beware the Hillary Clinton-Loathing, Donald Trump-Loving Useful Idiots of the Left.' In the column, Kirchick observes that Donald Trump once said that he was uncomfortable with the idea of American exceptionalism - and (gasp) many left-wing thinkers agree! Thus, Kirchick reasons, all left-wing critics of American foreign policy must be 'Trump fans' who are recklessly 'validating' a 'reactionary.' That may sound like a caricature of his argument, but the cartoonishness is Kirchick's own." There's a lot of this going around.
"Hillary Shows Her True Colors (Again) In Florida [...] Many Democrats were nauseated this week to see Clinton-- up to her old tricks-- rush to Miami to try to save Wasserman Schultz's collapsing campaign."
Thomas Frank, "With Trump certain to lose, you can forget about a progressive Clinton: Come November, Clinton will have won her great victory - not as a champion of working people's concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all."
Leftists Against Clintonism: It's Not Just About the Lies, It's About the Record [...] But in advocating lesser evilism as a voting strategy, Chomsky often makes another crucial point: That electoral politics should make up only a tiny part of efforts to change society for the better. "The electoral season in the United States, the quadrennial extravaganza, typically tends to draw energy away from activism because people are caught up in the hoopla and the excitement and so on," Chomsky has said, expressing a view similar to that of Adolph Reed, who has frequently noted the problems with "electoralitis." Democrats, for their part, have long been infected by electoralitis; they have come to view the election of more Democrats as an end in itself, not as a means to push for a more equitable society. But, long-term, we must be focused on more than merely defeating Trump; we must also defeat the appeal of Trumpism. For that to happen, we need a strong left with a working class core.
The Great Grift revealed, in "How We Killed the Tea Party: Greedy super PACs drained the movement with endless pleas for money to support 'conservative' candidates - while instead using the money to enrich themselves. I should know. I worked for one of them. "
"The Great White Hype: No One Is Energizing the White Working Class, Not Even Donald Trump [...] Only in the most secure segment of Americans did Pew find that a simple majority planned to support Republican candidates. As financial security decreased, the category that benefited most was not the Democrats, but rather 'OTHER/NOT SURE' - indicating that the person being surveyed was not heavily engaged in the political process, and unlikely to vote."
I was surprised to see in my Twitter feed a flurry of people sneering about Maureen Dowd. This seemed odd, since I thought everyone had quit reading her long ago, just like I had. But then it all became clear: She said something mean about Hillary Clinton. Now, it is not exactly a surprise to have MoDo saying mean things about Hillary Clinton, but this particular mean thing - well, see if you can guess why it so upset them....
Paul Craig Roberts on "The Stench of Raw Propaganda: I just heard the rawest kind of propaganda from former presstitute David Satter, who hangs out at the right-wing Hudson Institute and pretends to be an expert on Russia and Putin. On August 10 Satter told NPR's audience that Washington's hope to bring peace to Syria would fail unless Washington understood that the Russian government had no humanitarian feelings and did not care about the loss of human life. What Washington needs to do, said Satter, was to make sure that Putin and his henchmen understood that they would be held accountable as war criminals. I should be hardened by now, but it never fails to astonish me that agents for the elite are willing to tell the most blatant and transparent lies. Perhaps this is because they know that the media and their fellow bought-and-paid-for 'experts' will not challenge them on their statements. In fact, this is the way explanations are controlled and history rewritten." But there's something perhaps more significant in this piece that bears reading.
"Social Security and the 1 Percent: In February of last year, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report titled The Effect of Rising Inequality on Social Security. The report shows how the increase in economic inequality in the U.S. has led to deteriorating Social Security revenues, often to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a year. Earlier research by Dean Baker showed that the upward redistribution of wage income was responsible for 43.5 percent of the projected 75-year shortfall in Social Security funding as of 2013."
"We're in a Low-Growth World. How Did We Get Here? One central fact about the global economy lurks just beneath the year's remarkable headlines: Economic growth in advanced nations has been weaker for longer than it has been in the lifetime of most people on earth." And it's been like that for the whole 21st century. Strangely, this article does not say it's "because people are underpaid and no one has any money."
Steven Thrasher in the Guardian, "Hate Trump? You should still hold Clinton's feet to the fire: It will make Hillary Clinton a stronger candidate if she's held accountable for her past and for her actions. Oh, and it's not a vote for Donald Trump."
"Trump's money mystery: Trump is definitely hiding something, but the question is what" - And it's not a bad question since he's been blackballed by every major US bank, I hear.
This is from The Washington Post: "A porous ethical wall between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department"
"'Back in time 60 years': America's most segregated city: Why Milwaukee, far from the Deep South, gets the unwelcome title as the most segregated place in America.
* "Why Is Milwaukee So Bad For Black People?"
"Policing Class [...] There's a reason why the vast majority of police stops occur in the Western and the Central Districts: the Western is home to Baltimore's poorest black neighborhoods, the Central is home to Baltimore's business district. In effect, the city is producing and reproducing a population that has no functional purpose other than to be policed.
Atrios: "I don't go to DC much anymore. Actually I haven't been for years. For awhile I went fairly regularly for various reasons, including occasionally meeting with people who have a wee bit more power than I'll ever have. I spent some time scheming with one congressional office in particular (whether they valued my input or were just humoring me, they were serious about the issue) about how to keep people who were getting screwed in their homes. It was depressing. This office gave a shit, but nobody (exaggeration, of course) else did, and they couldn't get anything past administration attempts to block anything, or at least let things wither on the vine. One can always argue that legislative fixes just couldn't get the votes, but legislative fixes were necessary only because the administration was sitting on a giant pile of cash (went largely unspent) they had discretion over and plenty of regulatory power they could apply and they weren't doing anything. If stealing homes is basically legal and profitable, people (and companies) will steal homes. That no one could see the importance of this, even without shedding tears for the l000zers who had their homes stolen, was hard to comprehend."
* "Everybody Loves Henry: I'm not always thrilled about various efforts at broadening the coalition - voters or elite - by reaching out to Republicans, though I get the utility, but what advantages are there to publicly embracing Henry Kissinger and Negroponte? Is there a single voter out there who ponders to her/himself, "Well, I was on the fence a bit, but now that those brutal amoral assholes Kissinger and Negroponte are on board, I trust that Clinton will support enough political violence to make me happy?" Well, I'm sure there are a few, but they all write for the Washington Post op-ed pages. DC's a complicated place and I get that strange alliances are formed, but those don't require wearing your giant sized "Henry Approved!" button. This is the moment when someone says, "It doesn't matter. All that matters right now is beating Trump." Okay, fine, and this helps elect Clinton... how? I guess if I fail to mention it then it didn't happen. Blue Nation Review is a lovely happy place."
* "It's About Hating Liberals" - This one is long enough that you should click the link. I mean, long for Atrios, which isn't long.
Adolph Reed, "Vote for the Lying Neoliberal Warmonger: It's Important: An explanation for why defeating Donald Trump - despite what we know about Hillary Clinton - should be the left's primary national electoral objective this November" - I have to admit I lean toward this view for swing-state voters, at least, but I would feel a lot better if everyone was using the bumper-sticker like they did in the Duke-Edwards race.
RIP: Alan Legum, "Annapolis civil rights lawyer remembered as fearless, graceful," at 69. Local civil rights people knew who he was, of course. And the liberal blogosphere knows his son Judd.
* R2-D2: "The British actor who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars films has died at the age of 81 after a long illness. Kenny Baker, who was 3ft 8in tall, shot to fame in 1977 when he first played the robot character." He was also in Time Bandits, one of my all time favorites.
In the NYT, Molly Fitzpatrick, "Letter of Recommendation: Fortean Times."
Sheila played the harp on "She's Leaving Home" - she met Paul that time. And 44 years later, she met Ringo.