Wednesday, June 6, 2018

It could make a million for you overnight

Cristian Farias in New York Magazine, "The Supreme Court Has Decided to Shut Workers Out of the Courthouse for Good [...] So high were the stakes in Epic, that during the hearing for the case — which saw lawyers for employers, workers, the Department of Justice, and the National Labor Relations Board all squaring off with everyone else — Justice Stephen Breyer openly wondered if a ruling for the employers would effectively cut out 'the entire heart of the New Deal.'" RBG calls on Congress to fix the mess. Everyone else should, too.

"Democrats join Koch group to revamp veterans programs: WASHINGTON Democrats for years have seen the conservative Koch brothers as political enemies. Former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid even called them "un-American." But Wednesday, Senate Democrats teamed up with Republicans to pass major veterans health care legislation championed by the Kochs. The Koch-funded Concerned Veterans for America celebrated a big victory with the passage of the VA MISSION Act, a sweeping bill that overhauls how the Department of Veterans Affairs gives patients access to private-sector doctors. It's a big win for the once-obscure advocacy group backed by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch. The group helped write the bill, which sailed through the Senate by a 92-5 vote after also passing the House overwhelmingly. It got broad support from politicians and veterans groups across the political spectrum, and President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law soon." Of the Democratic caucus, only Merkley, Sanders, and Schatz voted No.

"Prosecutors Withheld Evidence That Could Exonerate J20 Inauguration Protesters, Judge Rules: CHIEF JUDGE Robert E. Morin of the D.C. Superior Court found on Wednesday that federal prosecutors suppressed potentially exculpatory evidence against six Inauguration Day protesters. In a motion filed late last night, attorneys for the defendants accused the government of withholding evidence that could have exonerated their clients — a serious violation of pretrial discovery rules. Attorneys allege that the state withheld evidence by editing a video of a protest planning meeting. Defense attorneys called on the court to sanction Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kerkhoff for 'blatant hiding of evidence' and requested that the indictment against their clients be dismissed. At pretrial hearing Wednesday afternoon, Morin agreed that the prosecution had violated the 'Brady rule,' which governs the state's pretrial obligations to disclose exculpatory evidence, but declined to rule on the defense's motions to dismiss the indictment or suppress the evidence. Morin will rule on those sanctions next week."

The Clintonati like to claim Bernie Sanders said Planned Parenthood was "the establishment", which is a mischaracterization, but maybe if he had he wouldn't have been wrong. "Planned Parenthood Is Asking Donald Trump's Labor Board For Help Busting Its Colorado Union: COLORADO PLANNED PARENTHOOD executives, with help from President Donald Trump's labor board appointees, are fighting their health center workers' unionization efforts in a case that could set a precedent for workers' rights nationwide. The case is Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood Inc. v. SEIU. Staff for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, in coordination with SEIU Local 105, won the election for their union in December 2017. But shortly after the vote to unionize, Planned Parenthood leadership, instead of recognizing the new unit, turned to the Republican-controlled National Labor Relations Board to challenge the outcome. The Planned Parenthood bosses won the first round, and the appeal will now move to the full five-member labor board." (Interestingly, PP doesn't appear to be supporting Medicare for All, either.

"The Supreme Court just quietly handed a big victory to abortion opponents: Trump's judges just got a clear signal that they can chop away at abortion rights and get away with it. The Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it will not hear Planned Parenthood of Arkansas v. Jegley, despite the fact that the lower court's opinion in this case is at odds with the Court's 2016 opinion striking down a Texas anti-abortion law.

"Illinois ratifies Equal Rights Amendment — decades after deadline." I still get angry when I remember why this didn't happen before the deadline.

The first two Episodes of The Appeal Podcast are up, on "District Attorneys Are The Most Powerful People You've Never Heard Of. With guest Josie Duffy Rice" and "The Misplaced Sanctimony of Criminalizing Sex Work. With guest Melissa Gira Grant".

"Blue-state Democrats have a new cause: Helping millionaires [...] On the heels of the new Republican tax law, state Democrats, who until recently were advocating higher taxes on the rich, are suddenly fighting to protect their own members of the top 1 percent from higher taxes. Some Dems are even proposing both — raise taxes on the wealthy with one hand and help them with the other."

"How an arcane, new accounting standard is helping reporters follow the money [...] In Fulton County, the largest of nine counties in the Atlanta metro area, officials were trying to comply with the new disclosures and had hired Ernst & Young to help. As the accountants spoke, Niesse peppered them with questions. At one point, the accountants left the room to discuss the accuracy of their numbers. 'When they came back out, they agreed they needed to present the information in a clearer way,' Niesse recalls. That's when Niesse noticed an extensive spreadsheet on an accountant's laptop, open on the conference room table. Unlike the PowerPoint, the spreadsheet was crystal clear: it showed the parcel IDs and property taxes not paid on every recent development in Fulton County."

"The Right-Wing Millennial Machine: Conservatives are building an army of fired-up young people. How? By offering them salaries. [...] Progressives aren't just out of sync with their own need to recruit and retain young people. They're also lagging behind conservative interests. A 2017 study found that between 2008 and 2014, conservative donors gave three times more to millennial outreach groups than liberal donors. Much of that funding, Thompson says, went to things like paid fellowships, travel stipends and study grants ? creating the feeder system that will guide young people into actual jobs with political campaigns and think tanks. 'The Republicans are building an army, while the Democrats are still paying you in "making the world a better place,"' said Carlos Vera, the executive director of Pay Our Interns, a watchdog group. 'I've had older people say to me, 'Well, I did unpaid internships and I was fine.' Then you ask them when that was and they say, '1972.' You could work your way through college back then. That simply is not the case anymore.'"

The Hill, "WikiLeaks's Assange reportedly offers to show Schiff 'there was no collusion': WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is willing to meet with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, to prove there was "no collusion," according to an intermediary who spoke with MSNBC. [...] Schiff reportedly said that he would talk to Assange but only if he were in U.S. custody. Assange is currently residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid arrest and possible extradition to the U.S. on allegations of espionage." Schiff doesn't want to hear evidence of no collusion, so of course he's willing to talk to Assange only under conditions Assange would have to be suicidal to agree to.

Interesting article from David Adler in The New York Times, of all places. "Centrists Are the Most Hostile to Democracy, Not Extremists [...] Some of the most striking data reflect respondents' views of elections. Support for 'free and fair' elections drops at the center for every single country in the sample. The size of the centrist gap is striking. In the case of the United States, fewer than half of people in the political center view elections as essential." [graph] Of course, the concept of 'support for democracy' is somewhat abstract, and respondents may interpret the question in different ways. What about support for civil rights, so central to the maintenance of the liberal democratic order? In almost every case, support for civil rights wanes in the center. In the United States, only 25 percent of centrists agree that civil rights are an essential feature of democracy. [...] One of the strongest warning signs for democracy has been the rise of populist leaders with authoritarian tendencies. But while these leaders have become more popular, it is unclear whether citizens explicitly support more authoritarian styles of government. I find, however, evidence of substantial support for a 'strong leader' who ignores his country's legislature, particularly among centrists. In the United States, centrists' support for a strongman-type leader far surpasses that of the right and the left."

"Voting Rights Roundup: New Hampshire GOP's voter fraud detection system exposed as, well, a fraud" — and a lot of other places where voter-suppression and gerrymandering have been in play.

Jon Schwarz in The Intercept, "Chuck Schumer Is The Worst Possible Democratic Leader On Foreign Policy At The Worst Possible Time [...] Schumer's positions on domestic policy leave much to be desired, but not on every issue. By contrast, his views on foreign policy are largely indistinguishable from the Republican Party in general and Trump specifically."

Sean McElwee in the NYT, "The Rising Racial Liberalism of Democratic Voters: In response to both the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and the backlash in favor of Donald Trump in 2016, analysts and commentators have focused mostly on racial attitudes on the right. Both scholarship and journalistic accounts of American politics have drilled down on the increased opposition to immigration and high levels of racial resentment among Obama opponents and Trump supporters. But few have investigated the countervailing trend on the left, the increasing racial liberalism of Democratic voters, which I've been thinking about for a while."

Dday has "Fears of the Next Recession: What will it do to the many millions of Americans who still haven't recovered from the last one? [...] Oil prices aside, other economic indicators suggest a recession in the not-too-distant future, perhaps by the last year of Trump's current term in 2020. There are obvious political ramifications to that. Trump currently gets relatively high marks on the economy; a slump during a presidential election year would damage hopes of a second term. But it would also damage all the 'forgotten men and women' who have been put further and further behind with each cycle of recession and recovery. Bard College economist Pavlina Tcherneva constructed the best visual depiction of this phenomenon, with a chart showing the distribution of post-recession gains. In the 1940s and '50s, the bottom 90 percent of income earners enjoyed at least two-thirds of the benefits. In the 1980s and '90s, they saw only 20 percent of the gains, and in the recovery after 9/11, that number fell to 2 percent. After the financial crisis of 2007, the bottom 90 percent saw negative gains — that is, they lost ground during the recovery."

Interview by Katie Halper, "Debunking the Bernie Bro Myth: Briahna Joy Gray Interview"

Ladies and gentlemen, the legendary Ace of Cups are finally making a record.

RIP, "It is my sad duty to note the passing of Gardner Dozois today, Sunday May 27, at 4:00 p.m. The cause was an overwhelming systemic infection. Gardner had been hospitalized for a minor illness and was expected to be released shortly. The decline was swift. He died surrounded by his family." — posted by Michael Swanwick on FB, It's the anniversary of that Memorial Day weekend when I met them all at Disclave for the first time — Gardner, Sue Caspur, Piglet (George Alec Effinger), Swanwick, GRRM, Dave Harris, Pat Cadigan, Tess Kissinger,et al. Gardner and Sue in particular were a big part of my fandom. This breaks my heart.

RIP: Eddy Clearwater, blues guitarist, at 83: "Grammy-nominated Chicago blues guitarist Eddy 'The Chief' Clearwater has died of heart failure at age 83, his label, Alligator Records, announced. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2016 and had received two Blues Music Awards. His Grammy nod came when his 2003 album Rock 'N' Roll City appeared in the Best Traditional Blues Album category."

RIP: "Alan Bean, moon-walking astronaut and artist, dies aged 86" — He retired so he could paint what he had seen and record it for posterity. He saw the colors on the moon.

Matt Taibbi, "The Battle of Woodstock: What does it mean when the biggest threat to upstart Democrats is the national Democratic Party? [...] Beals goes on to suggest that there's an even more nefarious motive for the defeatist analyses. Successfully spreading the idea that the party can't reach certain voters not only absolves the national bureaucracy of any need to change, but reduces campaigning to a blunt-force fundraising contest, a place where they're comfortable. 'This is where things get dark, but I think there are a lot of people who want you to think we can't win those votes,' he says. 'They want us to just get back to focusing on the fundraising, and keep the cash cow going.'"

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "The Democratic Party is flying blind on economics [...] I found no evidence that anyone in the Democratic Party, in the leadership or out, had been promulgating a strategic party doctrine on this question, or even discussing it much. On the contrary, if anything there were strong indications that the old background radiation of austerity and deficit phobia has continued to beam through their collective political unconscious."

Matt Stoller in The Baffler, "Lords of Misrule: How the legal profession became Wall Street's helpmeet: IN 1937, FUTURE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE Robert Jackson gave a toast at the New York State Bar Association on the civic responsibilities of the legal profession. 'No other people have submitted so generally to lawyer leadership,' he said. Yet, he argued, 'There is no constitutional protection for our lawyer monopoly.' Jackson was referring, in a tone of populist outrage, to the new wave of big law firms that were then vehemently opposing Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal and its crackdown on Wall Street in the wake of the 1929 crash. 'We must rely solely on the record of a trust well fulfilled to perpetuate lawyer control.' Jackson was the last Supreme Court Justice not to graduate from law school, and he hated the corruption of the craft of lawyering via the growth of corporate law, centered then in the American Bar Association. Jackson believed that the professionalization of the law and the resulting priority of financial over ethical considerations among lawyers have been toxic for American democracy. [...] Seeing the ethos of federal enforcement collapse under all these pressures, it's hard not to be enraged at the entire legal profession, from self-satisfied judges like Kaplan to corporate defense attorneys like Mary Jo White who collect millions and construct an ethical system designed to help their friends steal from all of us. [...] It's abundantly clear, in other words, that the decision to refrain from prosecuting important actors in the corporate world was Obama White House policy, and this policy was part of an overall ideological shift away from allegiance to democracy itself, to rule by the people."

"Yes, There is a Civil War Within the Democratic Party — it's Just Not What You Think: The popular narrative about the Democratic Divide is all wrong and it's important that we realise the truth — before it is too late. [...] So yes, Mainstream Media and political pundits, there is a 'civil war' raging within the Democratic Party, but the rebels are not the Berniecrats. The true revolutionaries are the Clintonian apostates who have been trying for 20 years to overturn and reverse the greatest achievements of the Democratic Party, programs that help the poor, the working class and the middle class; programs that protect the people from the cruel vicissitudes of the Market and the sociopathic machinations of those whom FDR called 'the Economic Royalists.' The current Democratic Establishment is run by those self-same Economic Royalists; the robber barons whose hatred FDR welcomed are now met with open arms and warm receptions by the revolutionary Leadership that has seized control of the Democratic Party. These radicals have taken the Party of FDR, JFK, LBJ, RFK and turned it into the Democratic Party of Goldwater, Nixon and Reagan."

David Dayen in The New Republic, "A Fitting End to Paul Ryan's Fraudulent Political Career: The Republican House of Representatives has become an unruly mob, and the speaker has no one to blame but himself. [...] Ryan's speakership has become untenable. House members are roping in Trump on a plan to depose Ryan this summer, putting the House in the hands of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. It's unclear whether the Freedom Caucus would go along. They have circulated a letter to get Jim Jordan, one of their leaders, to run for speaker, so the McCarthy plan to bring order to the House may only create greater disorder, and no speaker in charge for months."

The Guardian, "Exclusive: how rightwing groups wield secret 'toolkit' to plot against US unions: Internal documents obtained by the Guardian reveal a nationwide drive to persuade union members to quit and stop paying dues. [...] Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that a network of radical conservative thinktanks spanning all 50 states is planning direct marketing campaigns targeted personally at union members to encourage them to quit. The secret push, the group hopes, could cost unions up to a fifth of their 7 million members, lead to the loss of millions of dollars in income and undermine a cornerstone of US progressive politics."

I'm not sure what to make of this, but, "Wikipedia Is An Establishment Psyop." Hm, the Herald seems to have the story, too. The Canary has been a victim. It seems obvious that "Philip Cross" is more than one person with a mission to make Wikipedia less friendly to leftier voices.

Did we mention that Google is officially evil now? "Google Removes 'Don't Be Evil' Clause From Its Code of Conduct: Google's unofficial motto has long been the simple phrase 'don't be evil.' But that's over, according to the code of conduct that Google distributes to its employees. The phrase was removed sometime in late April or early May, archives hosted by the Wayback Machine show."

"Why Economists Ignore Much of Rich People's Income: Did you 'earn' that money?"

David Dayen and Ryan Grim in The Intercept, "Party Leaders Are Not Strategic Geniuses, They Just Really Like Moderates, New Research Finds: THE BATTLE BETWEEN grassroots Democratic activists and Washington-based party leaders continued to unfold Tuesday night, with the national party notching some rear-guard victories and local forces delivering the party its second high-profile setback in as many weeks. Through all of these contests, national party leaders have argued that their decision-making is not personal or ideological. They believe in the same progressive values as the grassroots activists, goes the argument, but more moderate candidates are needed to be able to win the general election and take the House back from Republicans. [...] A paper in this month's edition of the peer-reviewed Legislative Studies Quarterly analyzes a decade's worth of federal elections, finding that party organizations boost moderate candidates across the board, whether the general election is expected to be competitive or a long shot. In other words, party support for moderates does not appear to be strategic, but sincere. 'They're not doing this to have a better shot at winning elections,' said the paper's author Hans Hassell, assistant professor of politics at Cornell College in Iowa."

David Dayen's Tiny Letter on how "Wells Fargo Makes Pope Francis Sad: "We are a much better company today than we were a year ago, and I am confident that this year Wells Fargo will be even better," said Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan in January. We now know that at that precise moment, employees in the wholesale unit of Wells Fargo were altering information on client forms without their knowledge. Wells Fargo needed to supply this information as part of an anti-money laundering consent order, and when faced with the deadline, they just broke the law and forged the forms. And the bank acknowledged this took place in late 2017 and early 2018. This comes on the heels of Wells Fargo admitting that, also in 2017, they kept fee rebates intended for public pension funds. It was called a "system set-up error." Both of these incidents occurred years after being caught issuing fake accounts, after illegally repossessing cars, after the dozen-odd other scandals for which Wells Fargo has made a show of penitence. When punishment is not meaningful, offenders get the message that they can continue to offend. Anyone with a 2 year-old child understands this, yet we continue to let banks like Wells Fargo escape without real accountability."
* At a later Tiny Letter, David has a whole bunch of good links to too many stories by himself and others for me to individually link to them all, but you may want to check them out

"The trouble with charitable billionaires: More and more wealthy CEOs are pledging to give away parts of their fortunes — often to help fix problems their companies caused. Some call this 'philanthrocapitalism', but is it just corporate hypocrisy? [...] Essentially, what we are witnessing is the transfer of responsibility for public goods and services from democratic institutions to the wealthy, to be administered by an executive class. In the CEO society, the exercise of social responsibilities is no longer debated in terms of whether corporations should or shouldn't be responsible for more than their own business interests. Instead, it is about how philanthropy can be used to reinforce a politico-economic system that enables such a small number of people to accumulate obscene amounts of wealth."

Matt Taibbi, "Seymour Hersh's Memoir Is Full of Useful Reporting Secrets: The best of his generation writes a how-to that undermines the industry of Access Journalism [...] When it comes time for the next generation of journalists to re-discover what this job is supposed to be about, they can at least read Reporter. It's all in here."

Also, Jon Schwarz, "Seymour Hersh'S New Memoir Is A Fascinating, Flabbergasting Masterpiece [...] If Hersh were a superhero, this would be his origin story. Two hundred and seventy-four pages after the Chicago anecdote, he describes his coverage of a massive slaughter of Iraqi troops and civilians by the U.S. in 1991 after a ceasefire had ended the Persian Gulf War. America's indifference to this massacre was, Hersh writes, 'a reminder of the Vietnam War's MGR, for Mere Gook Rule: If it's a murdered or raped gook, there is no crime.' It was also, he adds, a reminder of something else: 'I had learned a domestic version of that rule decades earlier' in Chicago."

Let's see, what's more depressing? Charlie Stross' "Happy 21st Century!" or Chris Hedges' "The Coming Collapse"? hard to say.

Kitty Marion: The actress who became a 'terrorist'" — Stumbling across the history of an unknown suffragette in the study of music halls.

The Onion, "Lindsey Graham Vows To Uphold John McCain's Legacy By Blindly Supporting GOP Agenda After Grumbling For A Few Minutes"

This Zain Ramadan 2018 Commercial is rather touching.

If you can, you might want to listen to the BBC radio play in five parts of Terry Pratchett's Night Watch, one of my all-time favorites.

Beatles video for "Paperback Writer"

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