Tuesday, September 17, 2019

September, I'll remember

"6 winners and 3 losers from CNN's climate town hall: CNN's climate crisis town hall on Wednesday night was an unprecedented seven hours of discussion on climate change with 10 of the Democratic 2020 presidential contenders. It was also the most substantive discussion of climate change policies ever broadcast on primetime television. Each candidate was given a 40-minute segment, meaning they could provide long, nuanced answers to hard questions on the most far-reaching issue of our time. There was a lot that could have gone wrong, so it's remarkable so much went right. The town hall easily outshone the muddled discussion in the paltry half-hour or so devoted to climate change across eight hours of official Democratic debates."

Bloomberg, "Schumer Picks Senate Primary Favorites, Irking Progressives: Chuck Schumer's effort to unite Democrats behind well-funded, centrist Senate candidates has sparked a backlash from progressives who warn that the Democratic leader risks turning off voters they'll need to take back the chamber. Consolidating the party apparatus behind strong candidates early can help raise their profile -- and bring in millions of dollars in fundraising. But the strategy is angering local activists and competing primary hopefuls. The campaign committee associated with Senate leaders has already picked well-established candidates in key battleground states more than a year before the election, including Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, who's seeking to unseat Republican Susan Collins, and former Governor John Hickenlooper in Colorado targeting Republican Cory Gardner. Most of the favored Senate hopefuls don't back Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, and in many cases they have more progressive competition.

"Four states set to cancel 2020 GOP presidential primaries: report: Four states are preparing to cancel their 2020 Republican nominating contests over the weekend, Politico reported, citing three sources. The sources told the outlet that South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas Republicans are reportedly slated to scrap their primaries and caucuses, in a move that would demonstrate President Trump's effort to shore up control over the GOP at the state level. The report comes as Trump faces two long-shot primary challenges from former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. "

"California Bill Makes App-Based Companies Treat Workers as Employees: SACRAMENTO — California legislators approved a landmark bill on Tuesday that requires companies like Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees, a move that could reshape the gig economy and that adds fuel to a yearslong debate over whether the nature of work has become too insecure."

"Private Equity Tries to Protect Another Profit Center: The fight in Congress heats up over surprise medical billing, another abuse of the public driven by the private equity industry. Surprise medical billing has quickly become a small but critical flashpoint in health care reform. Because doctors and hospitals negotiate separately with insurance companies over reimbursement rates, it's possible for a patient's insurance to cover hospital charges while failing to cover the fees of some doctors in the hospital who are 'out of network.' Patients who visit an emergency room (ER) or are admitted to an in-network hospital by an in-network doctor may find that some of the professionals who treat them are not covered by their insurance. That is because hospitals have outsourced ER, anesthesiology, radiology, or other specialized services to outside physician practices or staffing firms. Patients often find themselves on the hook for thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars in surprise medical bills.

Well, here's an article I never expected to see in the Telegraph: "Corbyn better than no-deal Brexit, say investment banks as anti-capitalist Labour wins unlikely new City fans: Jeremy Corbyn, the scourge of bankers and avowed opponent of capitalism, is winning support from unexpected new quarters: two of the biggest global banks operating in the City of London are warming to the Labour leader. Unlikely as it may seem, he is now seen as the lesser of two evils by analysts at Citibank and Deutsche Bank, respectively American and German titans of the financial system. 'Is Corbyn as bad as no-deal? Perhaps no longer,' said Christian Schulz at Citi."

"The Citgo conspiracy: Opposition figures accuse Guaidó officials of 'scam' to liquidate Venezuela's most prized international asset: Venezuela's opposition has long accused the Bolivarian government of corruption and mismanagement. But with Citgo on the verge of liquidation, Guaidó's officials are too incompetent — or too devious — to save it."

"BRICS was Created as a Tool of Attack, Says an Imprisoned Lula: Former Brazilian leader wishes emerging economies were closer; recalls Obama 'crashing' Copenhagen climate meeting, writes Pepe Escobar. In a wide-ranging, two-hour-plus, exclusive interview from a prison room in Curitiba in southern Brazil last week, former Brazilian president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva re-emerged for the first time, after more than 500 days in jail, and sent a clear message to the world."

"ThinkProgress, a Top Progressive News Site, Has Shut Down: ThinkProgress, the influential news site that rose to prominence in the shadow of the Bush administration and helped define progressivism during the Obama years, is shutting down. The outlet, which served as an editorially independent project of the Democratic Party think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), will stop current operations on Friday and be converted into a site where CAP scholars can post." In other words, they fired all the unionized staff.

Pareen in The New Republic says, "ThinkProgress Was Always Doomed: Independent journalism fits uncomfortably with mainstream think tank politics. [...] ThinkProgress was not shuttered because it loses money. It certainly did lose money—political journalism is not exactly a cash cow!—but it was not a business of any kind: It was an arm of an extremely well-funded nonprofit think tank. If the Center for American Progress, as an institution, was interested in sponsoring journalism, CAP would've sponsored it. CAP isn't, and here we are."

Over at The Jacobin, Max Sawicky says, "Politics Is Not Arithmetic: UBI advocates have a habit of mistaking politics for arithmetic. Proving that a policy is mathematically possible isn't enough — and it can distract from more compelling left priorities."

Meanwhile, Ben Burgis says, "Socialism and the Self-Checkout Machine: A $1,000 a month check won't cut it, but there's a real democratic socialist response to automation that could make us all happier and give everyone more leisure time.

"This Alone Should Disqualify Pete Buttigieg" — The last thing we need is another Democrat who does the GOP's work for them by whining about fiscal "time bombs" and such.

"Why is the media gaslighting everyone about Joe Biden? After the Democratic primary debate on Thursday, top-shelf political journalists were quick to declare Joe Biden the winner by default. Biden turned in 'a solid but unspectacular showing' that was good enough 'for the former vice president to win the Democratic nomination and maybe even the White House,' wrote Stephen Collison at CNN. 'Joe Biden on Thursday delivered the kind of performance his supporters have been waiting for — combative when needed and in the thick of the action throughout,' wrote The Washington Post's Dan Balz. Biden 'fights off rivals,' wrote Katie Schubauer and Michael Mathes at AFP. 'Biden won, again,' wrote Jonathan Last at The Bulwark. I have only one question: Were these folks watching the same debate as I was? Because while nobody quite executed a Chris Christie-style suicide attack on Biden, his performance was still at-times gobsmacking evidence of a man whose mental acuity is fading by the day."

Deadspin was a bit less polite. "Joe Biden Is A Doddering Old Mummy With A Skull Full Of Dumpster Juice. [...] If you accept the basic and fairly uncontroversial proposition that 'President of the United States' is an important job with the power to influence many extremely vital functions of government, and that this job is best done by someone capable of at least steady if not genuinely nimble brainwork, then it doesn't even matter whether Biden's politics are bad; or whether he has shown himself over the years to be a weasel who uses a phony Regular Amtrak-Ridin' Uncle Joe routine to paper over shameless stoogery on behalf of various predatory industries; or whether his cretinous attitudes toward issues such as race, criminal justice, and the bodily autonomy of women were outdated over 40 years ago and have not substantially changed since then. He can't fucking think straight. He's a senile old man who has no business running a museum tour, much less the executive branch of the federal government."

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "Is Bernie Sanders right about medical bankruptcies? As funny as it is to watch so-called fact checkers beclown themselves in their palpable eagerness to expose the radical commie candidate, the specifics of this debate shouldn't lead us to miss the bleeding obvious. Whatever the accurate number is, we can be sure beyond question that medical debt is causing a great ocean of pointless misery — and Medicare-for-All would help a lot."

"Democracy Dies From Bad Fact-Checking: The Washington Post is feeding into Trump's agenda by turning fact-checking into an ideological weapon. [...] With these polemics-disguised-as-rebuttals, the Post is discrediting the entire journalistic genre of fact-checking. This is dangerous in a way that goes beyond any damage it does to Sanders as a presidential candidate. In truth, Sanders has little to worry about. The fact-checks are so ludicrous that they are unlikely to sway any voters. What they are more likely to do is feed into a pervasive distrust of the mainstream media, which is bad for democracy."

Luke Savage and Nathan J. Robinson in Current Affairs, "Support For Biden Is An Irresponsible Gamble With Our Future: There's nothing pragmatic or safe about a Biden nomination... [...] Even putting aside the inadequacy of his politics, Biden's inability to articulate a clear or legible Democratic message—even on his own terms—means that he cannot be put forward as a candidate against Donald Trump. The stakes are simply too high. [...] This magazine warned in February of 2016 that Trump had unique advantages against an 'establishment' candidate like Clinton, because he could run simultaneously to her right and to her left, criticizing her over her record on the Iraq War and Wall Street. Because these criticisms were accurate, they proved difficult to respond to. The same dangers apply to a Biden candidacy. Biden is not well-positioned to attack Trump on Trump's plutocratic agenda, given his own ties to the banking industry, which Trump will not hesitate to bring up. Nor will Biden be able to effectively criticize Trump's reckless foreign policy when he himself helped agitate for the single most reckless and deadly policy decision of the 21st century. Trump is excellent at preying on personal weaknesses (e.g., mocking Elizabeth Warren's silly ancestry claim) and will not hesitate to portray Biden as senile and out of touch. Unless Biden becomes far more energetic and cogent than he has thus far been, his responses will only confirm the charge."

Paul Rosenberg at Rolling Stone, "When establishment Democrats attack the 'hard left,' what are they really afraid of? [...] So why does anyone outside the right-wing media circus fall for this kind of propaganda, let alone actively promote it? We know why Fox News and the Republican establishment say this sort of nonsense. But why do establishment Democrats and MSNBC, the supposed 'Fox News of the left,' do the same? More importantly, what are they trying to hide? As I inquired above, what does the label hide in terms of policy? A livable wage and a livable planet are cornerstones — and popular ones at that. Higher tax rates (although still lower than Eisenhower's) are popular too."

In the Guardian, Bernie Sanders, "The media has become gossip, clickbait and punditry. This threatens democracy: Walter Cronkite once said that 'journalism is what we need to make democracy work.' He was absolutely right, which is why today's assault on journalism by Wall Street, billionaire businessmen, Silicon Valley and Donald Trump presents a crisis — and why we must take concrete action."

"The Quincy Institute opposes America's endless wars. Why should that be a scandal? When we decided to create a new foreign policy think tank, we never dreamed it would generate the wave of interest, curiosity and occasional vitriol that has ensued since we announced it. My colleagues and I founded the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft to promote — brace yourself — diplomatic engagement and military restraint. But since the news of our formation broke last month, the speculation about us has proved as revealing as anything we've done. Why, many asked, were George Soros's and Charles Koch's foundations teaming up as founding donors of the Quincy Institute?"

"The New American Homeless: Housing insecurity in the nation's richest cities is far worse than government statistics claim. [...] If the term 'working homeless' has not yet entered our national vocabulary, there is reason to expect that it soon will. Hidden within the world of homelessness has always been a subset of individuals, usually single parents, with jobs; what's different now is the sheer extent of this phenomenon. For a widening swath of the nearly seven million American workers living below the poverty line, a combination of skyrocketing rents, stagnant wages, and a lack of tenant protections has proved all but insurmountable. Theirs, increasingly, is the face of homelessness in the United States: people whose paychecks are no longer enough to keep a roof over their heads"

RIP: "Ric Ocasek, Cars Singer Who Fused Pop and New Wave, Dead at 75: Hall of Fame singer behind 'You Might Think,' 'My Best Friend's Girl' and 'Good Times Roll' found dead in New York." I like the cars, but they were in the air the summer I moved to England because of "Drive" at Band Aid, and later I loved them all over again when "You Might Think" was used as a recurring theme in BrainDead. I was surprised to learn when I saw his obit that he was older than I had thought. Good, solid, fun band.

At the top and bottom of the page for "From Obama Boys to Bernie Bros: The Creation of Twitter's Worst Attack Line," there's a podcast embedded called "The Candidates: Please, Whatever You Do, Don't Vote For Joe Biden" which I can't find a separate link for but is worth a listen.

"What Kind of Mayor Was Bernie Sanders? In his eight years as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders revitalized the economy and solidified support for progressive municipal policies. [...] Thanks to the enduring influence of the progressive climate that Sanders and his allies helped to create in Burlington, the city's largest housing development is now resident-owned, its largest supermarket is a consumer-owned cooperative, one of its largest private employers is worker-owned, and most of its people-oriented waterfront is publicly owned. Its publicly owned utility, the Burlington Electric Department, recently announced that Burlington is the first American city of any decent size to run entirely on renewable electricity."

This article is by Glenn Reynolds so of course it has to contain some right-wing bull about voter ID, but he's right about paper ballots. "Paper ballots are hack-proof. It's time to bring them back. [...] In some ways, paper and ink is a super technology. When you cast a vote on a voting machine, all that's recorded is who you voted for. But a paper ballot captures lots of other information: Ink color, handwriting, etc. If you have access to a voting machine that's connected to the Internet, you can change all the votes at once. To change a bunch of paper ballots takes physical access, and unless you're very careful the changed ballots will show evidence of tampering. Paper ballots aren't fraud-proof, of course, as a century of Chicago politics demonstrates, but they're beyond the reach of some guy sitting at a computer in a basement halfway around the world. And there are well-known steps to make Chicago-style fraud harder."

"Exactly Nobody Needed This: Chris Christie and Rahm Emanuel have three things in common: aggressively courting reputations for being assholes, showing their mugs on television, and their shared commitment to right-wing politics. Oh, and political careers that ended in complete humiliation and failure. Nobody should have to listen to either of them ever again, but that didn't stop ABC News from forcing them on us anyway."

"The Federalist Society Says It's Not an Advocacy Organization. These Documents Show Otherwise [...] Despite what appears to be an obvious political valence, the Federalist Society and its high-profile members have long insisted the nonprofit organization does not endorse any political party 'or engage in other forms of political advocacy,' as its website says. The society does not deny an ideology—it calls itself a 'group of conservatives and libertarians'—but it maintains that it is simply 'about ideas,' not legislation, politicians or policy positions. Federalist Society documents that one of us recently unearthed, however, make this position untenable going forward. The documents, made public here for the first time, show that the society not only has held explicit ideological goals since its infancy in the early 1980s, but sought to apply those ideological goals to legal policy and political issues through the group's roundtables, symposia and conferences."

Just for the record, I think the Tiptree Award should continue to be called "The Tiptree Award" and that what Alli Sheldon did was an act of courage and love, and I'm deeply offended by the whole conversation.

"How Bullwinkle Taught Kids Sophisticated Political Satire: 'Mr. Chairman, I am against all foreign aid, especially to places like Hawaii and Alaska,' says Senator Fussmussen from the floor of a cartoon Senate in 1962. In the visitors' gallery, Russian agents Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale are deciding whether to use their secret 'Goof Gas' gun to turn the Congress stupid, as they did to all the rocket scientists and professors in the last episode of 'Bullwinkle.' Another senator wants to raise taxes on everyone under the age of 67. He, of course, is 68. Yet a third stands up to demand, 'We've got to get the government out of government!' The Pottsylvanian spies decide their weapon is unnecessary: Congress is already ignorant, corrupt and feckless.

They say that Martin Hoare's coffin was bigger on the inside than on the outside.

How a Zildjian cymbal is made

Oh, yeah, I finally found "Hang On, Stevens", a bit late. I didn't remember what a mess the lyrics were, but it was fun at the time.

Push Trump off a cliff again.

Simon & Garfunkel live at Central Park, "April Come She Will"

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