Tuesday, October 20, 2020

And the forests will echo with laughter

"Bolivia election: Evo Morales's leftwing party celebrates stunning comeback: Exit polls for presidential election project win for Luis Arce as rival concedes defeat. Evo Morales's leftwing party is celebrating a stunning political comeback after its candidate appeared to trounce rivals in Bolivia's presidential election. The official results of Sunday's twice-postponed election had yet to be announced on Monday afternoon, but exit polls projected that Luis Arce, the candidate for Morales's Movimiento al Socialismo (Mas), had secured more than 50% of the vote while his closest rival, the centrist former president Carlos Mesa, received about 30%. Mesa conceded defeat on Monday lunchtime, telling supporters that a quick count showed a 'very convincing and very clear' result. 'There is a large gap between the first-placed candidate and us ... and, as believers in democracy, it now falls to us ... to recognise that there is a winner in this election,' Mesa said"

"The Unprecedented And Illegal Campaign To Eliminate Julian Assange: Assange would never receive a fair trial in the U.S., but he's not receiving one in Britain either. OVER THE 17 DAYS of Julian Assange's extradition hearing in London, prosecutors succeeded in proving both crimes and conspiracy. The culprit, however, was not Assange. Instead, the lawbreakers and conspirators turned out to be the British and American governments. Witness after witness detailed illegal measures to violate Assange's right to a fair trial, destroy his health, assassinate his character, and imprison him in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. Courtroom evidence exposed illegality on an unprecedented scale by America's and Britain's intelligence, military, police, and judicial agencies to eliminate Assange. [...] The deck was clearly stacked. Assange's antagonists were marking the cards as early as February 2008, when the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center set out, in its words, to 'damage or destroy this center of gravity' that was WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks, from the time Assange and his friends created it in 2006, was attracting sources around the world to entrust them, securely and anonymously, with documents exposing state crimes. The audience for the documents was not a foreign intelligence service, but the public. In the governments' view, the public needed protection from knowledge of what they were doing behind closed doors and in the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq. To plug the leaks, the governments had to stop Assange. The Pentagon, the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the State Department soon followed the Counterintelligence Center's lead by establishing their own anti-Assange task forces and enlisting the aid of Britain, Sweden, and Ecuador." Everything from direct violations of his human and civil rights to petty cruelties seems to be the order of the day.

"A dueling town halls upside: Media finally focuses on the wide gulf between Biden and Trump: The nation's top political reporters actually focused on the extreme contrast between the candidates, not spectacle. NBC did a terrible disservice to the public by ceding to Donald Trump's demand to counterprogram Joe Biden's ABC town hall on Thursday night. But the net effect on political journalism turned out to be quite positive. The dueling town halls actually forced several top journalists to directly address the extraordinary imbalance between the two candidates and what they represent, rather than get distracted by the spectacle.

Summing up, Max Kennerly tweeted: "As of the last 48 hours, the Trump re-election platform is:
— Mr. Rogers sucks
— I'm annoyed local TV covers severe weather but not a foreign politician talking about me
— there might be a Satanic pedophile cult, haven't found it yet
— I ordered US Marshals to murder someone
"

So, "Is Trump Having American Citizens Murdered Now?" He certainly is claiming to. But there's no question that whoever arranged it, it was murder. "A witness, Garrett Louis, told the New York Times he watched the shooting begin while trying to get his eight-year-old son out of the way. He said the officers began shooting so suddenly that he initially assumed they were criminals gunning down an enemy, not police. 'There was no, 'Get out of the car!' There was no, 'Stop!' ... They just got out of the car and started shooting.'"

Dan Goodspeed did an interesting time-lapse chart of rates of Covid over the course of the last few months according to how "red" or "blue" the states are. The one that keeps getting me is North Dakota — they must be going out of their way to get exposed in such a sparsely-populated state. They're significantly worse than a lot of densely-populated places.

"A Month Before Louisville Drug Warriors Killed Breonna Taylor, They Knew the 'Suspicious Packages' She Supposedly Was Receiving Came From Amazon: The detective who obtained the search warrant cited the deliveries to falsely implicate Taylor in drug trafficking."

"Not News But A Juicy Collection Of Narratives - How The New York Times Failed Its Readers: The New York Times star reporter Rukmini Callimachi had been widely criticized for her exaggerated reporting about the Islamic State and terrorism. But her editors kept supporting and promoting her stories. That finally ended when Canada recently indicted one Shehroze Chaudhry, also known as Abu Huzaifa, for falsely claiming to have been an ISIS member. Chaudhry had made up his blood dripping stories. He had never been with ISIS and had never been to Syria or Iraq. But the unverified stories of Abu Huzaifa al-Kanadi had been the central element of the NYT's ten part Caliphate podcast by Rukmini Callimachi. The failure of her reporting finally was so evident that the NYT had to allow its media columnist Ben Smith to write about the issue. Remarkably his reporting was published in the Business section of the paper."

Dean Baker, "Patent Monopolies in Prescription Drugs Cause Corruption # 43,508 [...] We should be glad that reporters have actively worked to expose the abuses associated with the tariffs Donald Trump has imposed since coming into the White House. But what about the abuses associated with government-granted patent monopolies for prescription drugs? We literally never see a piece pointing out that patent protection creates an enormous incentive for corruption, in fact, one that is far larger than with the Trump tariffs. Just to get some basic orientation, depending on the country and the product, Trump's tariffs were generally between 10 and 25 percent. By contrast, government granted patent monopolies often raise the price of a protected drug by at least a factor of ten and often by a factor of one hundred or more. The impact of this protection is therefore equivalent to tariffs of 1,000 or 10,000 percent." And just think of how this will work for a vaccine..

From Richard Wolff's continuing series on the collapse of "the West", and specifically America, "Global Capitalism: Capitalism's Decline Accelerates [September 2020]".

August J. Pollack says, "LOL: I have lived my entire life in a media narrative that Republicans are simply not supposed to face any consequences for their actions and what we have been witnessing for the last 48 hours is the result of a media completely unequipped to handle exactly that happening. I think that's why there's such a cognitive dissonance between how punditry is reacting to this versus, well, basically the rest of the planet. People are done. They are fucking done with this bullshit. [...] I nearly dropped my coffee cup, like at the end of The Usual Suspects, hearing someone on TV this morning calling this an 'October surprise.' This is the October most expected and obvious thing ever. That's why the media and so many pundits are losing their shit over this now—because there's no spin on this. There's no way, though I know some will try, to blame this on Joe Biden or on Democrats or on the liberal media. Hell, even the folks who want to blame this all on China knows China didn't make 100 people sit shoulder-to-shoulder without masks on."

I know I've complained about this before, but Tucker Carlson's weird populism is an embarrassing scam — embarrassing not just because he's faking it, but because his analysis is one that should be coming from Democrats, with democratic prescriptions instead of whacked-out right-wing nuttiness.

"How Are Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google Monopolies? House Report Counts The WaysIn a sweeping report spanning 449 pages, House Democrats lay out a detailed case for stripping Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google of the power than has made each of them dominant in their fields. The four companies began as "scrappy underdog startups" but are now monopolies that must be restricted and regulated, the report from Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel says. "These four corporations increasingly serve as gatekeepers of commerce and communications in the digital age, and this gatekeeper power gives them enormous capacity to abuse that power," a lawyer for the subcommittee's Democratic majority said in a briefing with reporters. The lawmakers say Congress should overhaul the laws that have let the companies grow so powerful. In particular, the report says, Congress should look at forcing "structural separations" of the companies and beefing up enforcement of existing antitrust laws."

"Why Liberals Pretend They Have No Power: Elite politicians invoke the rhetoric of national emergency only to behave like hapless passengers trapped aboard a sinking ship. [...] This tension underscores a deeper paradox of liberalism that has arguably reached its apex in the Trump era. Since the president's election four years ago, the political and intellectual leaders of America's supposedly reform-minded opposition have issued warnings about the existential threat that Trump poses to democracy. Amid it all, senior Democrats have mostly maintained both the regular operation of government and a standard of congressional etiquette that connotes normalcy more than it does any state of exception: applauding the president's speeches, approving his military budgets, awarding him new domestic spying powers, and even fast-tracking his judicial nominees. A line from one 2019 CNBC report detailing the overwhelming House approval of Trump's marquee NAFTA renegotiation sums up the absurdity of this posture: 'Democrats also wanted to show they can work with Trump only a day after they voted to make him the third president impeached in American history.' [...] Liberalism in the Trump era has thus become a kind of strange pantomime act in which elite politicians deploy the rhetoric of imminent threats and national emergency only to behave like hapless passengers trapped aboard a sinking ship. Although it has certainly found its most potent expression in Washington, this posture of feigned powerlessness has gradually come to infect the broader culture and ideology of American liberalism as a whole. [...] The contradictory posturing of today's most powerful liberals is not fully attributable to the shock and disorientation brought about by the 2016 election; its roots go back to the Clinton era at least—the period (not incidentally) when Democratic leaders formally abandoned their commitment to the New Deal and absorbed key parts of a Republican agenda. [...] This style found its ultimate expression in Barack Obama, who masterfully paired a sonorous rhetoric of optimism with, to paraphrase the political scientist Corey Robin, a 'moral minimalism' that rendered Democrats not so much unprepared for a fight with their Republican foes as indisposed to the very idea of one. Beginning with the hopeful cadence of 'Yes we can!' and ending, after a slew of congressional defeats, with the election of Donald Trump, the Obama era has served to convince many liberals of the need to compromise even further—anything remotely ambitious being doomed to fail on the altars of conservative partisanship and Republican obstruction. (Rampant opposition to Medicare for All from centrist Democrats despite its considerable popularity has been justified on these grounds for years.) [...] It's all well and good to recognize the structural constraints imposed by America's political system, and the difficulty of passing major reforms in the face of organized opposition. But for too many of America's leading liberal politicians, 'realism' has become an identity unto itself, unmoored from any programmatic orientation toward the future or sustained effort to bring about significant change."

Black Agenda Report, "The Politics That Led to the 'Worst Debate': The incoherence of the Biden-Trump debate will be repeated every election cycle until Blacks and progressives break with the corporate duopoly. There is nothing smart or 'strategic' about falling for the same trick every election cycle. The rich man's media are calling it 'the worst debate in modern American history,' but that's because the truth is often painful to watch. The Biden-Trump confrontation revealed, with crystalline clarity, that the real 'genius' of the American electoral process is its total imperviousness to popular demands for a healthier, more just and less economically precarious society and a peaceful, ecologically stable world."

"The Devastatingly Low Bar of 'Official' Poverty: Poverty numbers leave out far too many who are struggling economically. Shouldn't we reach for more than whatever rests just above abject misery? [...] For a more accurate gauge of poverty, some economists have advocated using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which includes benefits like food stamps when measuring income, and therefore better reveals the extent to which such programs help people—or, conversely, how dire things become when such benefits are slashed or shuttered. Yet even this expanded definition has its shortcomings; as Center for Economic Policy and Research fellow Shawn Fremstad recently wrote, under this measure, 'two adults raising two children in 2019 needed only $28,881 to not be poor (assuming they rented and lived somewhere with average housing costs).' For context, the average cost of a full-time childcare program was $16,000 that year."

"Newport Beach CEO steps down from company after being charged with child prostitution: Newport Beach resident Ian Charles Schenkel, facing charges of engaging in underage prostitution, has stepped down as chief executive of Haliburton International Foods, according to the company. The statement released by the Ontario-based company does not state the reason for Schenkel's resignation. Dan Glick, a management and financial advisor to the company, was appointed as the new CEO. Schenkel, who founded Haliburton International Foods, is no longer listed on the company's website."

Sorkin has made a movie. Rennie Davis himself had things to say about it. "'I was hit and knocked to the ground': the true story of The Trial of the Chicago 7 One of the defendants portrayed in Aaron Sorkin's Oscar-tipped film talks about the 1968 protest and the dramatic trial that followed [...] 'Certainly none of us want to go to prison for many years, so it's not to say we weren't mindful of the likely outcome, but quite honestly this was a group of people, myself included, who really saw the opportunity to basically speak to the country about the Vietnam war. We had different styles and we came from different organisations but, while the movie characterises us as squabbling and fighting a fair amount, it really wasn't the case.' [...] Davis has mixed feelings about the finished product. 'I was the coordinator of the coalition that went to Chicago and I brought back American prisoners of war from Vietnam at a time when places where I was living were being bombed by US military. In the movie, I'm made out to be a complete nerd who's afraid of his own shadow.' He adds: 'Sorkin was seven years old when the trial was occurring and clearly had no understanding of the defendants or, maybe more importantly, the tens of millions of people that were just passionately supporting us.'" I can't tell much from the trailer, but Sascha Baron Cohen does seem reasonably convincing as Abbie, even seems to have the accent. Looks like a good choice for the part.

RIP: Quilt Lady, or "ql" as she signed herself at Atrios' blog, had the keys to Eschaton like I do, except that she posted every morning while I was sleeping through to the afternoon and not checking to see if a new post was needed. I've been lousy about doing that these last few years, but she was diligent. I met her once and felt kinship with her. I'm going to miss her. Atrios wrote "Morning Thread - In Memoriam".

RIP: Mac Davis, Who Wrote Hits For Elvis, and Had His Own #1 Pop Single, Dies, at 78. He had hits of his own with "I Believe in Music" and "Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me", as well as songs her wrote for Elvis, including "In the Ghetto".

"No, the Nazis Were Not Socialists: The idea that the Nazis were socialists is transparently absurd. Unfortunately, it's also an idea that prominent figures on the Right like Sen. Rand Paul have taken up. So let's all say it together now: no, the Nazis were not socialists. They were, in fact, committed anti-socialists."

"Health Care: The Best and the Rest: Which Country Has the World's Best Health Care? [...] Truman proposed federal grants for hospital construction and medical research. He insisted, controversially, not only that the nation had too few doctors, but that the ones it did have were clustered in the wrong places. And he addressed the 'principal reason' that forced so many Americans to forgo vital medical care: 'They cannot afford to pay for it.' [...] The economist Milton Friedman once described the AMA as 'perhaps the strongest trade union in the United States.' It influenced medical school curriculums, limited the number of graduates, and policed the rules for certification and practice. For the AMA, Truman's proposal not only challenged the profession's autonomy, it also made doctors look as if they could not be trusted to place the country's needs above their own. As a result, the AMA ran a simultaneous campaign congratulating its members for making Americans the healthiest people in the world. The existing system worked, it claimed, because so many physicians followed the golden rule, charging patients on a sliding scale that turned almost no one away. If the patient was wealthy, the fee went up; others paid less, or nothing at all. What was better in a free society: the intrusive reach of the state or the big-hearted efforts of the medical community?"

"We Shouldn't Have to Work So Damn Much—An Interview With Jamie Mccallum: We're working longer hours than in decades. But we don't have to. We deserve a more democratic economy in which we have the free time to develop our talents, hang out with friends and family, and do whatever else we please. [...] However, if you dig into it, you find quite a lot of variation. What I found interesting was that low-wage workers have increased their time the most. We're all familiar with white-collar professionals being overworked, but I don't think that's the most interesting part of the story. So there's a trend toward overwork for everyone, but there is an unequal distribution of that rise in work time among different classes of people. Another dimension is increased unpredictability and volatility of schedules and hours, which is mostly the case for low-wage service-sector workers. In other words, their schedules became increasingly controlled by their managers and by technology. Unpredictable hours are volatile by design, not just happenstance. And they create an incredibly stressful and hectic work life. The last dimension is the rise in people simply not having enough hours, which is connected to the volatility. Because most employers require forty hours of availability to work, even if you only get twenty hours of work, it's hard to find a second job that you can also work out in a reasonable way. As a result, many people are suffering from involuntary unemployment."

Compare this article to the ones we saw about the "BernieBros": "Kamala Harris Has A Vibrant Online Fan Club. But It Also Has A Toxic Side: The KHive aims to amplify and support the Democratic vice presidential nominee, but some of its members have crossed the line from ardent fandom to overt harassment."

Peter Falk's Acceptance Speech for COLUMBO | Emmys Archive (1972), because I needed something to cheer me up.

"Graham Nash's 1960 meeting with the Everly Brothers set the path for his life in music."

"IF DONALD GOT FIRED - Randy Rainbow Parody (featuring Patti LuPone!)"

Heart with Jason Bonham "Stairway to Heaven" Led Zeppelin - Kennedy Center Honors HD — and some proud daddies in the audience.

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