Monday, July 2, 2018

Not working just to survive

See, here's what happens: I start thinking I'd better hurry up and upload this latest post I'm working on, and if I can just get that last link on the primaries I can post, and then Sam Seder says Anthony Kennedy has just announced his retirement, and I'm, "Oh, no," and then I think, okay, just that one more, and then Roz sends me her latest poem and I see the first line and I'm, blinking at the screen and "What? Harlan died?" Okay, we all know there were troublesome things about him, though I have to say he was always nice to me, but I'd seen him be not so nice, too. I think Cory said it best for me about all that ambivalent feeling he provoked, but my eyes still got wet. He was a lot of things, and he stood up for civil rights and women's rights, and sometimes he wasn't the best person he could be, you bet - and as with everything else, he did that big and public, too. But you can check out Variety, Guardian, and I see File770 has a whole bunch more. Oh, and Mark Evanier, of course.

And then there was that shooting at the Capital Gazette, and as if I didn't feel shell-shocked enough, half the links I tried to grab tell me they are suddenly no longer available in Europe.

That Majority Report link has a lot of material about the NY primary before the sudden interruption by Kennedy's retirement announcement, including Joe Crowley's concession featuring his surprisingly good performance of "Born to Run". And Thursday's show was on SCOTUS Apocalypse & Organizing Post-Janus w/ Ian Millhiser & Jane McAlevey.

Most of the media seemed not to have heard of her before she won the primary, and gave her no coverage, but one exception was The Intercept, which, among other things, did this interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which gives you a good sense of the candidate. (At one point she tweeted some photos under her caption, "A girl has no name," with headlines from newspapers that announced Joe Crowley's loss to a "challenger" without even using her name. Joy Reid actually tweeted that she - and most of her colleagues - were having to do remedial study of who she was. And then the alt-center all ran to the media to explain why this win doesn't mean anything. Tammy Duckworth even claimed that AO-C was fine for the Bronx but her priorities couldn't win in the midwest - that'd be the same midwest that voted for Bernie but not for Hillary.)

While I was waiting for the polls to close, I read, "97%:Why Incumbents Are So Hard to Defeat, and What It Means That a Working Class Latina Candidate Might Just Do It to One of the Most Powerful Political Bosses in the Country: In my time working and volunteering for political campaigns, I learned why 97% of incumbent politicians won re-election in 2016. I want to go into this phenomenon, noting every advantage incumbent candidates have, at least the ones that I've noticed, to underscore how dramatic the odds that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is facing are, and how historic a win by her would be. The support she's gotten is already close to unheard of." In New York they make it especially hard, by the way - you have to come back to vote for your nominee for governor separately, in September, - so no coat-tails, either.

Later: She wiped the floor with him. "Rep. Joe Crowley, one of the top Democrats in the House of Representatives, lost his New York primary in a shocking upset on Tuesday night to community organizer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Crowley, having fundraised nearly $3 million for the race in New York's 14th District, fell easily to a first-time candidate with a viral introduction video, a Democratic Socialists of America membership card, and a proudly leftist agenda. She ran on Medicare-for-all, a federal jobs guarantee, and getting tough on Wall Street. The race was called just before 10 pm for Ocasio-Cortez." Looks like 58%-42%. I'm going to bed, too sleepy to post.

Meanwhile, in another race we were watching, Emily Sirota won Colorado's 9th District, 54.29%-45.71, but I can't find a story to link to yet. Well, I saw some headlines that wouldn't let me in, so this is the best I can do.

Also, "Maryland could elect its first African-American governor this fall: Democrats nominated Ben Jealous in their primary on Tuesday. [...] Despite being a first-time political candidate, Jealous dominated a crowded fight for the Democratic nomination, triumphing over a wide range of political veterans including a former adviser to Hillary Clinton and a Maryland state senator. Polls had Jealous and Baker in close range of one another ahead of Tuesday's election."

* * * * *

Eric Levitz in New York Magazine, "In Hindsight, Democrats Really Mishandled That Merrick Garland Thing [...] But one can also sprinkle a scintilla of blame on whoever convinced the last Democratic administration to nominate a middle-aged, white male centrist to the Supreme Court — and to then argue for his confirmation on grounds of procedural norms, rather than ideological goals. [...] In hindsight, it's hard to argue that Democrats did everything in their power to increase the salience of such questions. For example, imagine if Barack Obama had nominated the first African-American woman to the Supreme Court — one who was young, and unabashedly progressive in her jurisprudence. When McConnell subsequently vetoed her appointment — and thereby nullified Obama's attempt to give a modicum of representation in the halls of high power to the Democratic Party's most loyal constituency — wouldn't it have been easier to mobilize the Democratic base in outrage, than it was to rally them behind Merrick Garland?"

"The Supreme Court may have just killed public unions: The case, Janus v. AFSCME, dealt with the fees that public unions can collect from non-members. In a 5-4 decision, the justices ruled that people who aren't union members but are represented by a public union cannot be forced to pay fees because fees violate their freedom of speech. Instead, union dues must be opt-in only."

"In 'Severe Blow' to Voting Rights, Supreme Court Preserves GOP Gerrymanders in Texas and North Carolina: In a victory for "GOP racial gerrymanders everywhere" and a significant loss for voting rights, the Supreme Court's conservative majority on Monday overturned a lower court ruling and revived electoral districts drawn by Texas Republicans that many experts say are blatantly designed to discriminate against minorities. Compounding what has already been a rough several days for activists and legal experts working to combat gerrymandering nationwide, the Supreme Court also decided to send a major North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case back to a lower court, leaving intact congressional maps that rights groups argue were drawn to discriminate against Democratic voters."

This should scare you: "Younger generations make up a majority of the electorate, but may not be a majority of voters this November [...] It's difficult to predict who will turn out to vote in the upcoming 2018 midterm. A reasonable scenario might be that eligible voters would turn out as they have, on average, in past midterm elections. Gen Xers and Millennials have consistently underperformed in terms of voter turnout in midterm elections, compared with Boomers when they were the same age. Millennials have had the opportunity to vote in four midterm elections (2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014). Among Millennials who were between the ages of 18 and 24 during these elections, 20% turned out to vote, on average. By comparison, 26% of Boomers in that same age range turned out to vote in midterm elections between 1978 and 1986."

"Democrats are losing the millennial vote and need to change message: Millennials are at best soft Democrats. Many got enthused and mobilized by Barack Obama in 2008 and largely hung around for Obama in 2012 and, even less, Clinton in 2016. But many seem to have had enough. And who could blame them? Clinton's campaign mainly targeted the illusive 'moderate Republican', the white, middle-aged middle class. And since her shock defeat, many prominent Democrats have pivoted towards the cliched 'Trump voter' as defined by the liberal media, ie a middle-aged to older white, working-class male."

* * * * *

Public Policy Polling says that voters like gun control and the DREAM Act, don't want to arm teachers in schools, and don't like the wall. And you'll never guess who the favorite against Trump in the next presidential election is so far... er, yes, you will.

Q35 If the candidates for President next time were Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand and Republican
Donald Trump, who would you vote for?
Kirsten Gillibrand ..............42%
Donald Trump ....................40%
Not sure ........................18%

Q36 If the candidates for President next time were Democrat Kamala Harris and Republican Donald Trump, who would you vote for?
Kamala Harris ...................43%
Donald Trump ....................39%
Not sure ........................18%

Q37 If the candidates for President next time were Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republican Donald Trump, who would you vote for?
Bernie Sanders ..................55%
Donald Trump ....................39%
Not sure .........................6%

Q38 If the candidates for President next time were Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Republican Donald Trump, who would you vote for?
Elizabeth Warren ................51%
Donald Trump ...................40%
Not sure ........................9%

* * * * *

"Trump Administration Won't Say How A Random CBP Agent Would Know Of A Reporter's Personal Travel: The Justice Department says an apparent Customs and Border Protection agent identified as Jeffrey Rambo was not involved in its leak investigation. [...] In June 2017, Rambo, whose official role CBP also refuses to explain, contacted national security reporter Ali Watkins, identified himself as a government agent and implied that he could be a source, according to The Washington Post. But when they met, he grilled her about her work and her personal life, noting the dates and locations of international trips she took with James Wolfe, then the director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee, whom she was dating. Rambo didn't give Watkins his name, but he mentioned that the Trump administration was aggressively investigating journalists and their sources. But Customs and Border Protection is not normally involved in investigations of national security leaks. The Justice Department, which handles such matters, says it didn't ask Rambo for help."

"MOVE Member Debbie Africa Released: Philadelphia — In the early morning of June 16, after nearly 40 years of unjust imprisonment by the state of Pennsylvania, political prisoner and MOVE 9 member Debbie Sims Africa was granted parole and released from the State Correctional Institution-Cambridge Springs. [...] This Aug. 8 marks the 40th anniversary of the all-out assault by thousands of police on the MOVE house in 1978. When the family still refused to leave their home, police launched an early morning raid, using thousands of rounds of munitions, water cannons and tear gas to destroy the compound and drive the family out. During the raid, Philadelphia Police Officer James P. Ramp was killed by a shot to the back of the head. All MOVE 9 members were convicted of third-degree murder and conspiracy, even though no evidence linked any of them to the shooting. In fact, by immediately razing the entire property, police destroyed any potential evidence that would have helped the MOVE 9 prove their innocence. Police made no efforts to preserve the crime scene or measure for ballistic angles."

Even The American Conservative seems to be to the left of the Democratic Party leadership. "The Conservative Case for Universal Healthcare: Don't tell anyone, but American conservatives will soon be embracing single-payer healthcare, or some other form of socialized healthcare. Yes, that's a bold claim given that a GOP-controlled Congress and President are poised to un-socialize a great deal of healthcare, and may even pull it off. But within five years, plenty of Republicans will be loudly supporting or quietly assenting to universal Medicare. And that's a good thing, because socializing healthcare is the only demonstrably effective way to control costs and cover everyone. It results in a healthier country and it saves a ton of money."

"Russiagate's 'Core Narrative' Has Always Lacked Actual Evidence: The unprecedented allegation that the Kremlin 'attacked America' and 'colluded' with its president in order to elect him is based on two documents devoid of facts or logic. [...] Intentionally or not — one former intelligence officer called it a 'deliberate misrepresentation' — the ICA, by using the term 'Community,' gave the impression that its findings were the consensus of all '17 US intelligence agencies,' even though it was signed by only three (the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA) and by the overseeing director of national intelligence, James Clapper. This canard was widely deployed by pro-Clinton media and by her campaign until The New York Times belatedly corrected it in June 2017. But even then, anti-Trump forces continue to deploy a deceptive formulation, insisting that the ICA narrative was 'a consensus of the intelligence community.' That was false on two counts. Clapper subsequently admitted he had personally selected for the ICA analysts from the three agencies, but we still do not know who. No doubt these were analysts who would conform to the 'core narrative' of Kremlin-Trump collusion, possibly even one or more of the FBI officials now exposed for their 'bias.' Second, on one crucial finding, the NSA had only 'moderate confidence,' not the 'high confidence' of the CIA and FBI. This has yet to be explained. Still more, the ICA provided almost no facts for its 'assessment.' Remarkably, even the Times, which has long been a leading promoter of the Russiagate narrative, noticed this immediately: 'What is missing,' one of its lead analysts wrote, is 'hard evidence to back up the agencies' claims.' Even more remarkable but little noticed, the ICA authors buried at the end this nullifying disclaimer about their 'assessment': 'Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.' What did that mean? Apparently, that after all the damning and ramifying allegations made in the report, the authors had no 'proof' that any of them were a 'fact.'"

"Here's Why the Hope of a 'Blue Wave' in November Is Dangerous to Democracy [...] Given the uphill climb for congressional representation that Democrats have in front of them (especially for the progressive subset of the party) it's clear that the midterms will largely be decided by the people who find a reason to vote. Pew Research shows Republicans generally have higher turnout than Democrats. Democrats might reconsider any 'we got this' conclusions or talk of blue waves. Overconfidence cost them in 2016, and for democracy's sake, they can't let themselves fall into the same trap."

The "Resistance" — or "The Assistance", as we call them — has decided they love them some Adam Schiff as one of their choice alternatives to the evil Bernie Sanders. He is frequently on the list of bright young Dems who should replace the old guard. A virulent Russia conspiracy theorist, there are reasons not to think he's a good choice. "Resistance leader? Not really. Democratic congressman Adam Schiff personifies the link between foreign policy hawks and deep-pocketed defense contractors."

Haaretz, "Israel Is Gunning for Its Gatekeepers" A bill that would in effect let cabinet members choose their ministries' legal advisers is part of the coalition's program to eliminate checks on its power. [...] The 'selection committee' would exist in name only, a way to whitewash the complete politicization of the position of ministry counsel. In the name of governability, Shaked seeks to eliminate the gatekeeper function of the legal adviser, protecting human and minority rights and fighting corruption and damage to proper public administration."

"After 2 Months of Unrest, Nicaragua Is at a Fateful Crossroads [...] How did it begin? Nicaragua has a backstory of violence: the revolutionary struggles of the 1970s against the repressive Somoza dictatorship, followed by the US-financed Contra war against the revolutionary Sandinista government in the 1980s (the US role in that war was condemned by the World Court in 1986 as a violation of international law). Electoral defeat for the Sandinistas in 1990 brought peace, but at the expense of 16 years of corrupt, neoliberal government that undid many of the gains of the revolution. Daniel Ortega's election win in 2006 led to a decade of renewed social investment. Poverty fell by almost half between 2005 and 2016, according to World Bank data, from 48 percent to 25 percent. Nicaragua won praise for its low crime rate, limited drug-related violence, and community-based policing. Nor could the private sector complain: Nicaragua's per-capita GDP increased by 38 percent — more than for any of its neighbors. [...] It seems clear that repression of the initial student demonstration was a grave error of judgment by the police. But there is growing evidence that subsequent events were manipulated so as to magnify discontent. For example, according to a reliable eyewitness, before the ransacking of a supermarket in Managua those doing it were seen to be given Sandinista T-shirts to wear. Burning of buildings is routinely ascribed to Sandinistas, even when it is party officials' houses that are destroyed, or in city streets under the opposition's control. Police in Managua apprehended a known criminal nicknamed 'The Viper' who confessed to plotting with the protesters to carry out armed attacks on shops and FSLN offices. Even the evidence against the police for the shooting at the opposition march on Mother's Day has been called into question, in an open letter to Amnesty International by a former prisoner of conscience. The fact that gunmen are working with the opposition was confirmed by the attempted assassination of Leonel Morales, a student leader who strongly criticized the protesters. On June 12 he was kidnapped, shot, and left for dead in a ditch, an incident at first ignored by the right-wing media, then ascribed to robbery."

REST IN PEACE: "Dick Leitsch, Whose 'Sip-In' Was a Gay Rights Milestone, Dies at 83: Dick Leitsch, who in 1966 led a pioneering act of civil disobedience to secure the right of gay patrons to be served in a licensed bar, helping to clear the way for gay bars to operate openly in New York State, died on Friday at a hospice center in Manhattan. He was 83."

ROT IN PERDITION: "A Lover Of Death Gets His Wish: Neocon Charles Krauthammer Dead At 68: Fox News contributor, Washington Post columnist and neoconservative thought leader Charles Krauthammer has died of cancer, and there is a mad media rush of establishment eulogies scrambling to canonize him as a great man in the eyes of the public before anyone can step back and take stock of what this man's legacy actually is. This is perfectly understandable, because if social consciousness cements into history what a wheelchair full of toxic human waste Krauthammer actually was, it will make things much more difficult for them to manufacture support for their neoconservative wars going forward."

Nathan J. Robinson says in Current Affairs, "There Is Still Only One Clear Way To Get Rid Of Trump: Let's be honest: running Bernie in 2020 is the best shot the Democrats have at beating Trump... [...] Needless to say, if your party contains a wildly popular politician, with an enthusiastic fan base of young activists, who is adept at speaking to the concerns of the 'Rust Belt' states that lost you the election the last time around, it would seem criminally foolish not to nominate that person as your presidential candidate."

Umair Haque, "Do Americans Understand They're Beginning to Commit The Legal Definition of Genocide? No, You Don't Know What Genocide (Really) Is. But You Should."

"When Both Men and Women Drop Out of the Labor Force, Why Do Economists Only Ask About Men? That's what New York Times readers were wondering when they saw Harvard Economics Professor Greg Mankiw's column, 'Why Aren't Men Working?' The piece notes the falloff in labor force participation among prime-age men (ages 25 to 54) for the last 70 years and throws out a few possible explanations. We'll get to the explanations in a moment, but the biggest problem with explaining the drop in labor force participation among men as a problem with men is that since 2000, there has been a drop in labor force participation among prime-age women also.

Interviewed at Truthout, Noam Chomsky on Fascism, Showmanship and Democrats' Hypocrisy in the Trump Era: "The coverage has been quite instructive, in part because of the efforts of the Democrats to outflank Trump from the right. Beyond that, the coverage across the spectrum illustrates quite well two distinct kinds of deceit: lying and not telling relevant truths. Each merits comment."

"Mr. Peabody and Sherman Travel WayBack to 1953 - A History of Iraq"

A couple of Majority Report episodes really worth listening to:
* American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism w/ Dr. Henry Giroux
* Mistaken Identity: Race and Class in the Age of Trump w/ Asad Haider

Back in March, Ryan Grim wrote about What The Dan Lipinski-Marie Newman Democratic Primary In Illinois Means. A lot of things are going to go this way because the "centrists" have deep pockets, but sometimes you have to run more than once to win. And the more people know that Lipinski was one of only two Democrats to vote for the Hyde Amendment, the more his seat will be in jeopardy.

Margaret Kimberly in Black Agenda Report, "No Protest for Black People: Donald Trump is certainly a motivator for white liberals. That group was quiescent when other presidents committed human rights abuses and war crimes, but they spring into action when Trump does something they don't like. It is commendable that thousands of people converged on airports in 2017 to protect victims of the Trump travel ban against seven Muslim nations. Now the outrage over the official policy of immigrant family separation has produced another groundswell of protest. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices have been blockaded, ICE employees are outed online and presidential staff are chased from restaurants by angry people. To be clear, the anger is justified and the protest is necessary. But where is this level of outrage when black people are victimized by this system?"

Caitlin Johnstone, "I Paid To See A Movie About Singing. I Got Ninety Minutes Of Pentagon Propaganda."

The Batman dance

I know I was pretty preoccupied at the time, but I just can't imagine how I missed Stephen Colbert's Tolkien Mockingbird.

"Fictional Cops I Love, Ranked By How Guilty I, As An Anarchist, Feel For Loving Them" — I don't even recognize the first one, but I have no guilt about liking Foyle and Murdoch, and of course, it was the last one that made me post the link, 'cause I love him most of all.

Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke fab. I think I teared up a bit at the end there. Everyone looked so happy. It was fab!

Jessica Harper, "Special to Me"