Friday, June 22, 2018

He'd make a plan and follow through

"Telecom-Backed Democrat in California Just "Mutilated" Nation's Strongest State Net Neutrality Bill: 'These California Democrats will go down in history as among the worst corporate shills that have ever held elected office. Californians should rise up and demand that at their Assembly members represent them.' Following a "major win" for open internet advocates in the California Senate last month, State Assemblyman Miguel Santiago provoked widespread outrage on Wednesday when he 'rammed through' amendments that critics say 'eviscerate' what 'would have been the best net neutrality bill in the country.' 'It is, with the amendments, a fake net neutrality bill," declared state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, who introduced the original legislation. Wiener said Santiago's amendments 'mutilated' Senate Bill 822, which had passed the higher chamber despite fierce lobbying by the telecom industry."

David Dayen in The New Republic, "The AT&T-Time Warner Merger Is Already What the Government Feared: It's been quite a week for AT&T. One of the largest providers of wireless, internet, and cable TV in America, it closed a $85.4 billion deal last Thursday to acquire Time Warner, one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world, after a federal court blessed the merger over the Justice Department's objections. Judge Richard Leon, of the U.S. District Court for D.C., had rejected the government's argument that AT&T would lessen competition by leveraging Time Warner's 'must-have' television content to drive rival customers to its products. Within one week, AT&T announced a plan to use Time Warner's television content to drive rival customers to its products. It's just one of several announcements from the new conglomerate that show the government was right: AT&T is determined to use its economic and political power to expand its reach and dominate markets."

Zach Carter at The Huffington Post says that, "Stephanie Kelton Has The Biggest Idea In Washington: Once an outsider, her radical economic thinking won over Wall Street. Now she's changing the Democratic Party." But clearly, not fast enough: "Why do Democrats love pay-go? House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer on Wednesday both said they'll back pay-go rules if they regain control of the House this fall, meaning that all proposed legislation will have to be deficit-neutral." This may be the stupidest thing they could say in public.

On a similar note, The Hill reports that Pelosi said that, "'Medicare for All' should be 'evaluated' if Dems win House." This sounds like a non-promise to begin with (yeah, well "evaluate" the excuses for why we can't do it), but of course if they actually campaigned on it, people might even believe they mean it. Also, it might help them win.

This National Tracking Poll for June 7-10 says a number of things you already know but the Democrats have managed to weaken themselves where they should be strongest and if they actualy wanted to win, they'd be worried.

David Dayen in The Nation, "Toys 'R' Us Workers Take on Private-Equity Barons: 'You Ought to Be Ashamed': The executives stripped profits from the toy chain and left employees with nothing. "

The Hill, "Sanders gets best reception at early 2020 audition [...] More than a thousand energetic attendees gathered at the We the People Summit to hear from some top potential 2020 contenders: Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). But it was Sanders who won the most applause from the crowd of progressive and labor activists."

Attempted murder: "Florida school shooting survivor targeted in 'swatting' prank" — Calling the cops on someone is not a "prank", and if the Hoggs had been at home when the police responded to the call, they might very well have been killed.

Bernie wants to save the postal service. One of the people he wants to save it from is Joe Manchin, one of Trump's Democrats.

"The Unofficial Gag Order of Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown): 16 Years in Prison, Still Not Allowed to Speak" — Al Amin had a gag order placed on him during his original trial, but something very odd has happened, all these years later, and suddenly a paranoid-sounding FBI report got him hidden away at grave threat to his health. As for the original crime, the only evidence that was used against him did not implicate him at all. Funny, that.

This story isn't interesting until you get to the perp's name. All I can say is, I blame the parents. "Anonymous complaint in St. Augustine leads to arrest of two on drug charges: Police say they found crystal meth in a search."

* * * * *

Howie Klein on Why You Should Never Vote For A Blue Dog:

It's important to remember that the phrase "Blue Dogs" is not an adjective to describe conservative Democrats, though it could be. The "Blue Dogs" is a formal organization. You pay dues, elect officers, go to meetings, split up bribes from Big Business interests eager to purchase influence inside the Democratic caucus, etc. In order to be endorsed by the Blue Dogs, you have to apply and pass a written test proving you are a corrupt conservative. Many of their worst candidates-- like Jay Hulings (TX), Brad Ashford (NE), JD Huffstetler (VA) and Jim Grey (KY)-- have already been defeated by more progressive candidates in primaries this year. This is the garbage that's left:

Anthony Brindisi (NY)
• Paul Davis (KS)
• Gretchen Driskell (MI)
• Mel Hall (IN)

• Chris Hunter (FL)
Brendan Kelly (IL)
• Kathy Manning (NC)
Ben McAdams (UT)
• Matt Reel (TN)
• Max Rose (NY)
• Clarke Tucker (AR)
Denny Wolff (PA)
• Jeff Van Drew (NRA-NJ)

For the fun of it, I bolded every Blue Dog candidate who is in a district that was won by Bernie in the 2016 primary. So what's so bad about the Blue Dogs that I would urge readers to not vote for them in primaries and consider carefully if you want to vote for a lesser-of-two-evils candidate in the general? Let's go back a few years when the Blue Dogs were bragging about how they were powerful enough to have scuttled the public option. Not a single House Republican voted for the Affordable Care Act-- and all the negotiating was internal, between Democrats. The Blue Dogs held the bill hostage, threatening to vote with the Republicans to kill it.

[...] ProgressivePunch has graded every Blue Dog's record "F." These are the 7 worst Democrats in Congress based on this cycle's votes. All of them have voted more frequently with the Republicans on crucial roll calls than with the Democrats. Walter Jones (R-NC) votes with the Democrats more than they do. And Justin Amash votes against the GOP than all but one of the stinkin Blue Dogs. This year, worst of all has been Collin Peterson, who has voted with the Democrats 28% of the time. Kyrsten Sinema-- Blue Dog chairwoman who Schumer has chosen to run for the Senate-- has voted with the Democrats (from a safe blue seat) 32% of the time. Jim Costa, also in a safe blue district, voted with the Dems 32%, as have 2 more from safe blue seats, Jim Costa (CA) and Henry Cuellar (TX). Josh Gottheimer- 39%, Tom O'Halleran- 40%, Stephanie Murphy- 42%. Horrible. And if you say, we need them to win, you are absolutely wrong. In fact, the opposite is true. History proves that most of them will likely lose their seats in the 2022 midterms when Democratic core voters realize what they are and stay away from the polls.

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Eric Levitz says Democrats are more focused on bread-and-butter issues than people think, but "The Democratic Party Has an 'MSNBC Problem' [...] In truth, the Democratic Party is quite focused on promoting a progressive critique of the GOP's positions on taxes, health care, and social spending, because it knows that Republicans are deeply vulnerable on those issues. MSNBC, CNN, and the broader mainstream media, however, are obsessed with the White House's myriad scandals — because they know that a federal investigation into the American president's potential ties to the Kremlin (and/or porn stars and/or white-collar crime) is ratings gold — while daily broadcasts reiterating the regressive implications of the GOP's tax law and health-care plans would be anything but."

Eric Levitz was also on The Majority Report talking to Sammy about Why Unions Are Not a Special Interest.

"Supreme Court allows Ohio, other state voter purges: WASHINGTON (AP) — States can target people who haven't cast ballots in a while in efforts to purge their voting rolls, the Supreme Court ruled Monday in a case that has drawn wide attention amid stark partisan divisions and the approach of the 2018 elections. By a 5-4 vote that split the conservative and liberal justices, the court rejected arguments in a case from Ohio that the practice violates a federal law intended to increase the ranks of registered voters. A handful of other states also use voters' inactivity to trigger processes that could lead to their removal from the voting rolls."

"ICE Came for a Tennessee Town's Immigrants. The Town Fought Back. Agents conducted one of the biggest workplace raids since President Trump announced a crackdown on illegal immigration, detaining 97 workers in Morristown. But for residents, these workers were their neighbors."

This almost makes me laugh, but "Eric Holder May Be Considering A Presidential Run. But Has His Time Passed? If Holder's DOJ showed little mercy to drug offenders and whistleblowers, his DOJ was tender and mild with big banks after the financial asset bubble collapse. 'There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps' is how one DOJ source described Holder's approach to Wall Street crime. At the end of 2014, Columbia Journalism Review business reporter Ryan Chittum observed that 'Holder leaves office having been far outclassed by the Bush administration even in prosecuting corporate criminals, despite overseeing the aftermath of one of the biggest orgies of financial corruption in history.' [...] We surely haven't seen the last of prosecutor politicians who grandstand and indict their way into cable news glory and donor-class cocktail parties. But a little light bulb is going on over an increasing number of Americans' heads that ambitious prosecutors in the most carceral country on the planet are perhaps not the best people to put in charge of fixing our justice system, much less running our government."

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "Trump's Family Separation Scandal Has Revealed Every Species of Hypocrite: Immigration hawks and War on Terror monsters alike are using President Trump's revolting present to expiate past sins." Even Michael Hayden is getting in on this.

Theresa May was doing this crap when she was still Home Secretary. She is sympatico with Trump and it's a joke to hear her pretending she finds Trump's behavior worthy of condemnation.

RIP: Jerry Maren, last surviving member of 'Lollipop Guild,' dies at 98: SAN DIEGO, Calif. - Jerry Maren -- the world's last living Wizard of Oz munchkin -- has died at the age of 98, TMZ has learned."

RIP: Clint Walker, Star of TV Western Cheyenne, Dies at 90: For seven seasons from 1955-61, he played Cheyenne Bodie, a rambunctious wanderer in the post-Civil War West, on the ABC series Cheyenne. (He also guested as the character on Maverick.)" Yeah, we watched all those westerns at our house when I was a kid. I didn't even notice this until I saw Langford had mentioned him in the Ansible obits for his genre credits.

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "The presidential delusions of Democratic billionaires: Howard Schultz announced Monday that he's stepping down as CEO of Starbucks and immediately sparked speculation that he is going to run for president. Business-friendly news outlets got his friends (that is, other CEOs) to vouch for him, and he started talking up an issue to seem like a serious political player. Naturally, it was a lot of claptrap about the national debt. But he's not alone. Other billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, Mark Cuban, Elon Musk, and Michael Bloomberg (who may be getting the itch to purchase himself another high political office, as he did the New York City mayoralty) have also invited speculation about running. The modern robber barons of our Second Gilded Age already have a death grip on the commanding heights of the economy, and Donald Trump seemingly cruised to the presidency on his billions, so why shouldn't they try the same trick? [...] All that aside, the political appeal of deficit phobia today is nil, and nobody but a billionaire (or, just possibly, Chuck Schumer) could fail to notice it. No coddled, inept rich guy limply whining about borrowing and how Medicare is too expensive is going to beat Trump delivering xenophobic tirades to the baying ride-or-die partisans of the Republican base. Of course, in the age of President Donald J. Trump, one must always include the caveat that the future is an unknowable void from hell, and anything bad that can happen probably will. Maybe one of these plutocrats will discover his inner Mussolini and cruise to victory. But I fear it is more likely that one will mount a vanity third-party run, only to bleed enough votes from the Democratic candidate in 2020 to give Trump another term." Remember Bloomberg threatening to make an indy run if Sanders was the Democratic nominee? Yeah.

"The Surprising Popularity of 'Far Left' Policies: Supposedly radical ideals are actually embraced by large swaths of the American public." — It's just amazing who can get called "far left" by The Washington Post.

Josh Barro in Business Insider, "Why does Trump get away with corruption? Because Bill and Hillary Clinton normalized it [...] Here's one reason the Trump corruption scandals aren't connecting as much as they should: Before Democrats spent the past 18 months telling everyone this is not normal, they spent years reassuring voters that this was normal."

Branko Marcetic, Jacobin, "From the Jaws of Victory: We've read Chasing Hillary so you didn't have to. The Clinton campaign was even worse than we thought." Here's one to start: After flirting with running in 2016, former vice-president Joe Biden ultimately declined to jump in due to what many believed was grief over his son's death. Yet Chozick argues he was nervous about the prospect of crossing the Clintons to begin with. 'You guys don't understand these people,' Biden had allegedly told the White House press corps off the record one day. 'The Clintons will try to destroy me.'"

Shaun King,, "How Bernie Sanders Evolved on Criminal Justice Reform [...] In meeting Krasner, Sanders found someone who approaches problems in a manner very similar to his own — but is actually getting stuff done. I don't mean that as a slight to Sanders, but as a progressive U.S. senator in a Republican-controlled Congress with Donald Trump as president, it's almost impossible to pass progressive reforms. Krasner has only been in office for six months and is radically changing everything about the inner processes of justice in Philadelphia. It was a light bulb moment. Real Justice helped elect Krasner, as well as other reform candidates across the country, and Sanders now wanted to know how he could help. [...] 'It's disgusting, Shaun, that our country is basically criminalizing poverty. I'll be honest with you. I really didn't know this was happening. I had no idea hundreds of thousands of Americans, particularly African-Americans, were being held in jail, for months or years, even though they've never been convicted of a crime, simply because they can't afford bail,' Sanders told me in a tiny dressing room backstage before the event. 'I've learned a lot,' he continued. 'I see the racial disparities clearer than ever. I want to help — just tell me how I can best help and we'll do it.'"

Also Shaun King, "You don't really know who Bernie Sanders was in the 1960s. Why it mattered then and why it matters in 2018 [...] Bernie hates telling these stories and has resisted using them for political capital across the years — even when advisors and others have told him it would boost his profile — he has refused. He does what he does because he cares. When I introduced Bernie at a rally in Los Angeles by sharing many of these stories, his own family came to me in tears saying that even they had never heard them before. He has always felt that what he did during the sixties paled in comparison to those who were beaten or lost their lives — and so he has kept some powerful stories to himself."

This is a good little video that explains exactly why Hillary Clinton really lost, and why Democrats have to keep denying it. "Thomas Frank on the Democratic Party, Their Credibility Trap, and the Beleaguered Middle Class"

I see people keep asking what "Donut Twitter" is. It's the proud tradition of the alt-center snubbing the left: "Repeatedly, establishment Democrats have infantilized and derided the progressive wing of the party."

Reminder: Right-wing billionaires have been working to a plan, with the help of some Democrats, with "Weaponized Philanthropy: Document Trove Details Bradley Foundation's Efforts To Build Right-Wing 'Infrastructure' Nationwide

Why American Life is Traumatizing Americans But They Don't Know it [...] I hope by now you are beginning to see what I see. American life is becoming one long, daily, repeated exercise in trauma. Americans are being traumatized according to the textbook definition, by the institutions, structures, and habits of daily life under predatory capitalism, which demands that they live at the edge of survival, of just being, at the very brink of being annihilated, mostly so that the economy can 'grow'. Americans have become accustomed to being at the edge of life and death — but that is what trauma is."

Raven Onthill at Advice Unasked, on "A Well Regulated Militia: The genesis of the piece was some decades ago research into the Second Amendment and the militia. One of the works I read was the commonly-cited-by-firearms — advocates 1698 'A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias' by Andrew Fletcher. The 'Discourse' contains what may be the first use of the phrase 'well-regulated militia;' certainly one of the earliest uses. But how did this phrase make it into the Constitution? What was Fletcher doing writing about militia anyway? And what does it all mean for us, now?"

Fallstream holes look like a portal in the sky to another dimension.

"Genius Street Artist Is Secretly Turning New York Streets Into Art." Some of these are fun.

"This Mindblowing Video of The Moon Coming Down to Earth Is Totally Real" This is immensely cool.

I've always wondered what Brian Boitano thought about his appearances in South Park, and it just occurred to me that someone must have interviewed him about it, and, indeed, they have.

"What Would Brian Boitano Do?"

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"

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Some say it's a sign of weakness

The Hill, "Court orders Iran to pay billions to 9/11 victims and families: A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Iran to pay billions of dollars in damages to the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks." It's unlikely they will actually pay it, but the very idea that Iran should have to pay for an attack by Saudi Arabians is pretty appalling.

"Call Congress's 'Blue Lives Matter' Bills What They Are: Another Attack On Black Lives: ON WEDNESDAY, THE House of Representatives passed the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 by a vote of 382 to 35. The act — a congressional 'Blue Lives Matter' bill — would make it a federal crime to assault a police officer. The Senate version of the bill, which also has broad bipartisan support, goes even further, framing an attack on an officer as a federal hate crime. The bills exemplify the very worst sort of legislation: at once unnecessary and pernicious. [...] A number of commentators have stressed the superfluousness of making police attacks a federal crime. There's not a state in the country that doesn't already treat assaulting or killing an officer with the heaviest of penalties. With the laws that are already on the books at the state level, it's already a safe assumption today that any convicted cop killer will be sentenced to life without parole." 162 Democrats voted for this piece of garbage. Out of 193.

Jonathan Cohn, "House Republicans, with Some Democratic Help, Vote in Favor of Discrimination and Deregulation in Latest Attacks on Federal Watchdogs: This week, the Republican House of Representatives continued to work on one of their favorite lobbies: gutting financial regulation. On Tuesday, the House voted to repeal a 2013 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) guidance that laid out steps indirect auto lenders should take to ensure that they are operating in compliance with the fair credits laws as applied to dealer markup and compensation policies. In other words, the CPFB wanted to help curb discrimination against consumers on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, and age, all prohibited by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). Racial discrimination in auto lending is a well-documented phenomenon. The vote was 234 to 175, with Vern Buchanan (FL-16) voting present. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (IL-27) was the only Republican to vote against the repeal. 11 Democrats joined the GOP: Jim Cooper (TN-05), Lou Correa (CA-46), Jim Costa (CA-16), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Gene Green (TX-29), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), David Scott (GA-13), and Filemon Vela (TX-34)."

Socialist-Backed Candidates Sweep Pennsylvania State House Primaries: Four Pennsylvania state House candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) won their Democratic primaries, marking another milestone in the radical left's march into electoral politics. The wins by the four candidates — all women unseating men — were the product of a variety of political forces and groups. But in a country where 'socialist' remains an epithet in certain quarters, the growing electoral success of a once-marginal socialist organization is an especially notable political development." There are also two Berniecrats from Nebraska who won primaries for seats in the US House, and in state legislatures, ten in PA, one in Nebraska, two in Oregon and two in Idaho.
* The story in In These Times, "Socialists and Progressives Just Trounced the Democratic Establishment: On Tuesday, insurgent challengers beat out their opponents in races across the country by running on bold left platforms."

David Dayen, "Bill Aimed At Saving Community Banks Is Already Killing Them: AFTER INITIAL RELUCTANCE, House Republicans have finally reached an agreement to move forward on a bipartisan bank deregulation bill that the Senate passed in March. Its stated aim — to help rural community banks thrive against growing Wall Street power — appears to have been enough to power it across the finish line. But banking industry analysts say the bill is already having the opposite effect, and its loosening of regulations on medium-sized banks is encouraging a rush of consolidation — all of which ends with an increasing number of community banks being swallowed up and closed down."

Dday talked to Sam Seder about Primary Results & the Fallout of the Dodd Frank Rollback (among other things) on The Majority Report.

Symbolic victory in The Hill, "Senate votes to save net neutrality rules: The Senate on Wednesday voted to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules, passing a bill that has little chance of advancing in the House but offers net neutrality supporters and Democrats a political rallying point for the midterm elections. Democrats were able to force Wednesday's vote using an obscure legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA). CRA bills allow Congress, with a majority vote in each chamber and the president's signature, to overturn recent agency moves."

"Police Realizing That SESTA/FOSTA Made Their Jobs Harder; Sex Traffickers Realizing It's Made Their Job Easier: For many months in the discussion over FOSTA/SESTA, some of us tried to explain how problematic the bills were. Much of the focus of those discussions were about the negative impact it would have on free speech on the internet, as the way the bill was drafted would encourage greater censorship and more speech-chilling lawsuits. But as we heard from more and more people, we also realized just how incredibly damaging the bill was going to be to those it was ostensibly designed to protect. Beyond the fact that it was passed based on completely fictional claims about the size of the problem, those who actually were victims of sex trafficking began explaining -- in fairly stark terms -- how SESTA/FOSTA would put them in greater danger and almost certainly lead to deaths." And they were right.

Matt Stoller notes that the new FTC Commissioner is sounding like the real deal.
"1. I mentioned this last night, but this memo by new FTC Commissioner @chopraftc is really worth reading. It is a bad-ass and extremely important statement on corporate crime and has significant implications for Facebook.
"2. First, some context. This memo is about recidivism, or committing a crime again once you've been caught. In 2011, Facebook was caught in 2011 engaging in 'unfair and deceptive' practices, and the FTC stated the company 'violated federal law.' Today's scandal is a repeat crime.
"3. 'FTC orders are not suggestions.' [] That's how law enforcer Chopra says it. And he footnotes that showing that the cost can be $41,484 per violation. Facebook has 87 million violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a company killer.
"4. @chopraftc comes close to saying Zuckerberg should be fired and Facebook broken up. Violations of consent decrees should result in firing 'senior management and board directors," "outright bans on adjacent business practices, and closure of appropriate business lines.'
"5. What shows @chopraftc is serious and bipartisan about this is that he critiques Obama's failed law enforcement regime. He goes after the failure to do anything about HSBC for money laundering, and Wells Fargo for fraud. This is a defense of the rule of law.
"6. Now, here's why this matters. The FTC almost always has unanimous enforcement opinions, which gives individual commissioners sway to shape them. This is not a random shot across the bow, it's a signal to FTC staff to really propose aggressive remedies for Facebook violations."
Matt says it's worth looking at the memo yourself. ProPublica's article is here.

* * * * *

Jeremy Scahill is exactly right, Haspel belongs in jail and Obama should have put her there, but thanks to him, she now looks set to be head of the CIA. Here he is on Democracy NOW!, saying, "Obama Paved Way for Haspel to Head CIA by Failing to Hold Torturers Accountable [...] And, you know, Amy, the CIA is generally prohibited from engaging in operations inside of the United States, and also prohibited from engaging in propaganda aimed at the American people. And yet, to me, this whole Gina Haspel nomination really seems like a CIA operation itself. You know, the CIA, throughout history, from its origins — and this was the case with its predecessor, the OSS — has had a mastery of coups and interventions and interfering in affairs of other nations and waging propaganda battles. Gina Haspel, when she was nominated for the CIA, was the recipient of an enormous amount of support from the CIA's social media accounts, Twitter and others. And it was a propaganda campaign that was aimed at all of us, at the American people. It was aimed at lawmakers, it was aimed at journalists, where they sort of tweeted a — and they did it over and over and over, and they even did it once Haspel was technically in charge of the CIA, where they're giving her biography, making her sound like some combination of like Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, with Jack Bauer. I mean, it was really kind of incredible."

And here is Scahill on Intercepted, "Just Following Orders: Donald Trump loves Gina Haspel, particularly because of her role in torture." (Also an interview with Matt Taibbi on "Trump, Russia, Putin, Stormy Daniels, and the Liberal Embrace of Authoritarianism," and "Reporter Sarah Jaffe on the Teachers Strikes Across the U.S., the Fight For Unions, and the Rebellion of Low Wage Workers." Good stuff, transcripts included.)

* * * * *

"Sanders Institute Launches Voter Registration Initiative: In November 2016, there were more than 224 million citizens over the age of 18 in the United States, yet only around 157 million were registered to vote. Even fewer actually voted."

The headline says it all: "Oliver North leaving Fox News to become next NRA president" — Yes. this Oliver North.

"There are some prisoners who have served their sentences but who refuse to leave this prison facility." Again, the headline says it all.

"Black activist jailed for his Facebook posts speaks out about secret FBI surveillance: Rakem Balogun spoke out against police brutality. Now he is believed to be the first prosecuted under a secretive US effort to track so-called 'black identity extremists' [...] Investigators began monitoring Balogun, whose legal name is Christopher Daniels, after he participated in an Austin, Texas, rally in March 2015 protesting against law enforcement, special agent Aaron Keighley testified in court. The FBI, Keighley said, learned of the protest from a video on Infowars, a far-right site run by the commentator Alex Jones, known for spreading false news and conspiracy theories. The reference to Infowars stunned Balogun: 'They're using a conspiracy theorist video as a reason to justify their tyranny? That is a big insult.'"

"How To Organize A Prison Strike: Organizers inside and outside of the penitentiary walls are teaming up — and getting creative — to fight for reform."

"There's No Good Excuse For The Racist Impact Of Michigan's Medicaid Proposal: The plan's architects say they didn't mean to disadvantage black cities, but they had easy ways not to. Michigan Republicans are pushing a new, Donald Trump-inspired bill that would require Medicaid recipients in the state's mostly black cities to work to keep their health benefits, but exempt some of the state's rural white residents from the same requirement.

David Dayen on "The Downfall of a Grifter: I was part of a small subset of people who were infuriated by Eric Schneiderman before Monday night. So welcome to the rest of the nation for catching up. I had no idea he was a notorious alcoholic and abuser of women until the New Yorker profile. But I did witness his tendency to be a con artist, with his public persona not matching up with the private actions. Zach Carter tells this story very well so I don't have to, and the rest of it is in my book. The short version is that the guy came in making a lot of promises on taking down the banks and then sold out so he could get a good seat at the State of the Union. He wanted the glory without doing the work. In a real sense he didn't know how to do the work - the big lawsuit he filed against JPMorgan Chase right before the 2012 elections, entirely to show a pose of "getting tough" on Wall Street, was ripped off from a staffer and could have been filed years earlier. As co-chair of the vaunted "task force" on bank fraud, he never issued a single criminal subpoena."

Also from Dday, "American Telephone and Telegraft: [...] AT&T's lead lobbyist has now been encouraged to take an early retirement, and the CEO is "very sorry" any of us found out about the Cohen payment. But their real failure lies in not working the influence industry the right and honorable way. Like LiveNation did when they had Rahm Emanuel's brother on their board when they purchased Ticketmaster. Or the way American Airlines used Rahm and a bunch of other Democratic cronies to move through the USAirways merger. AT&T doesn't deserve Time Warner until they can prove they can bribe officials responsibly and effectively. That's how the game is played, Politico Playbook (sponsored by Goldman Sachs) wants you to know, and really you're very silly for thinking it outrageous. It's a cesspool but it's our cesspool."

"How Walmart is Helping Prosecutors Pursue 10-Year Sentences for Shoplifting [...] In Tennessee, as in many states, shoplifting items under $1,000 is a misdemeanor. But, in the past few years, the Knox County district attorney's office has been prosecuting people like Lawson under the burglary statute, which under Tennessee law is defined as 'unlawfully and knowingly entering a building without the consent of the owner and committing a theft.'"

David Menschel (@davidminpdx) tweeted "In NYC, police arrest black people for marijuana at 8x the rate of white people. NYPD say this is because they get more complaint calls about marijuana in black neighborhoods, but NYT found that that was false." The story, in The New York Times, "Race Remains a Key Factor in Marijuana Arrests, Analysis shows."

"Colorado bans solitary confinement for longer than 15 days: DENVER — Inmates in state prisons can't be held in solitary confinement for more than 15 days, the Colorado Department of Corrections announced on Thursday in the latest effort to overhaul a practice criticized as 'torture' by the agency's chief. The changes also require that inmates who are held in solitary confinement at the discretion of prison officials get at least four hours per day outside a cell for recreation or group classes."

But "Denver says its top cops are now exempt from independent monitor's oversight. Here's who disagrees. The city administration has told its police oversight agency to stay way from internal investigations of the police chief and sheriff, and the decision is raising eyebrows around Denver."

Jon Schwarz, "New Bipartisan Bill Could Give Any President The Power To Imprison U.S. Citizens In Military Detention Forever [...] But now, incredibly enough, a bipartisan group of six lawmakers, led by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., is proposing a new AUMF that would greatly expand who the president can place in indefinite military detention, all in the name of restricting presidential power. If the Corker-Kaine bill becomes law as currently written, any president, including Donald Trump, could plausibly claim extraordinarily broad power to order the military to imprison any U.S. citizen, captured in America or not, and hold them without charges essentially forever."

* * * * *

Julian Assange may be a jackass, but he's also the face of the real free press, and the neocons and neoliberals all hate him and want him permanently silenced. At the moment, his former protector, the state of Ecuador, seems to be hinting that it may hand him over to Britain and the US.

On March 28, under immense pressure from the governments in the US, Britain and other powers, Ecuador imposed a complete ban on Assange having any Internet or phone contact with the outside world, and blocked his friends and supporters from physically visiting him. For 45 days, he has not been heard from. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa stated in a Spanish-language interview on Wednesday that her government and Britain 'have the intention and the interest that this be resolved.' Moves were underway, she said, to reach a 'definite agreement' on Assange.
If the United States government gets its hands on Assange, they might torture and even kill him, but it's fairly certain they will try to make sure he never has access to the press again. I know there are those who think Trump would like to reward Assange for helping him out in the election, but Trump doesn't actually reward loyalty or pay his debts, so that seems like a fantasy to me. And I sincerely doubt that, even if Trump decided to pardon Assange just to piss off the Clintonites, the right-wing authoritarians he surrounds himself with would let any such document land on his desk. (We know Trump can't write it himself, which is the only way I can imagine him slipping that one by them.)

* * * * *

"How Did Benghazi Become a Ruin? NYT Ignores US Role — in Multiple Media: New York Times Cairo bureau chief Declan Walsh went to Benghazi, Libya, which is in ruins, to find out how it got that way. 'When I went to Benghazi, I was guided by one main question: How did the city come to this?' he declares in his multimedia presentation, which combines text, audio, video and large-format photography. One thing that's not conveyed via any medium, though: Seven years ago, the United States and its allies used military force to overthrow Libya's government. The country has been in almost continual civil war since then, which you would think would be crucial in explaining 'how the city came to that.' But apparently you don't think like a New York Times bureau chief. The thing is, when President Barack Obama — egged on by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — called for an attack on Libya, the justification they offered was that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi would otherwise destroy Benghazi. So the fact that military intervention actually turned out to lead to the destruction of Benghazi seems like something you might want to tell Times readers, or Times consumers of multimedia, anyway."

Matt Stoller, "Bigger Corporations Are Making You Poorer: A wave of new research shows how as corporations get bigger, the share of money out there going to actual workers declines." (Matt also did a good thread full of interesting links that is unrolled here.)

"Soul Snatchers: How the NYPD's 42nd Precinct, the Bronx DA's Office, and the City of New York Conspired to Destroy Black and Brown Lives (Part 1) [...] 'Stop and frisk has been banned, but police in the 42nd precinct are actually doing something far worse. They are setting quotas and goals for the number of people each officer must arrest. If you don't meet or exceed the quotas, you feel the wrath of your supervisors. Instead of rejecting the quotas, some officers are embracing them and rounding up people, particularly teenage children, for crimes they know good and well they didn't commit — locking them away sometimes for days, weeks, months, or even years at a time — then simply dismissing the charges. This isn't just a few rogue cops, but an entire precinct is doing this and they are partnering with the Bronx District Attorney's Office to make it happen. With threats, and even brute force, kids are being coerced to identify and testify against people they don't even know. Officers are terrorizing families, snatching kids out of their beds, not a few times, but dozens of times per child, sometimes arresting them on false charges, sending them to Rikers, then releasing them months later. Cops think they can do anything they want and it appears they can. Pedro is being framed. They tried to frame him over and over again before this case. And other kids are being framed too. And the kids and families who've been victimized by this scandal are hollow shells of their former selves. The Police Commissioner, the Comptroller, and the Mayor all know about this and are doing nothing.'"

Eric Levitz in New York Magazine, "Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die: The GOP understands how important labor unions are to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, historically, has not. If you want a two-sentence explanation for why the Midwest is turning red (and thus, why Donald Trump is president), you could do worse than that. [...] With its financial contributions and grassroots organizing, the labor movement helped give Democrats full control of the federal government three times in the last four decades. And all three of those times — under Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — Democrats failed to pass labor law reforms that would to bolster the union cause. In hindsight, it's clear that the Democratic Party didn't merely betray organized labor with these failures, but also, itself." I think this article is too generous to Democrats, since they have also spent part of that time actively undermining unions.

Nathan Newman, "NY Real Estate Lobbies Protect Trump Corruption- and GOP Control of State Senate w Help of Cuomo-IDC Dems: We need to break the power of corrupt NY real estate — then expose Trump money laundering, stop obscenely low luxury property taxes & end GOP control of NY Senate."

Rachel M. Cohen at The Intercept: "Democrats In A New York County Refuse To Pledge Loyalty To Candidates Just Because Party Endorses Them: A COUNTY DEMOCRATIC committee in New York voted down an extreme proposal on Tuesday night that would have required all members to pledge loyalty to candidates endorsed by the state, local, or national party. Progressives on the committee in Chemung County, on the Pennsylvania border, viewed the proposed loyalty pledge as an attempt by establishment Democrats to silence their dissent; they spent the week leading up to the meeting organizing opposition from members of the 20-person committee. At the meeting, the committee voted down the oath in its current format, but did not get rid of it entirely."

"Bernie Sanders Is Quietly Building a Digital Media Empire [...] The Vermont senator, who's been comparing corporate television programming to drugs and accusing it of creating a 'nation of morons' since at least 1979 — and musing to friends about creating an alternative news outlet for at least as long — has spent the last year and a half building something close to a small network out of his office in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill."

Also from Eric Levitz, "The Liberal Media Can Have Ideological Diversity Without Conservatives" — My main problem with this piece is that by "liberal media" he still seems to be talking about not-so-liberal organs like The New York Times.

Joe Cirincione and Guy Saperstin in The Nation, "Progressives Need a New Way to Talk About National Security: Voters say they support cuts in defense spending — Democrats should, too." I can go along with this, but I still maintain that our real national security is economic security for everyone.

Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney, "How The ACORN Scandal Seeded Today's Nightmare Politics: Breitbart led the charge, but Democrats delivered the killing blow. Has anyone really learned?" This is one of many pernicious examples of Democrats helping Republicans dismantle the progressive infrastructure that helped the party as a whole, The jury is still out on just how much of a creep Obama was regarding Shirley Sherrod, and whether Democrats keep voting to fund abstinence-only sex "education" out of stupidity or puritanism (or just a desire to funnel more money into the right-wing gravy train), but I still wish I could ask Bill Clinton what the hell he thought the outcome of "ending welfare as we know it" and turning the criminal justice system into a meat-grinder for minorities and the poor would be - and whether he did it out of malice or stupidity. And don't get me started on the Telecommunications Act.

Aalya Ahmad, "Working for the Weekend: The labour movement should renew its demands for a shorter workweek: Our communities are crumbling under capitalism and the obscene inequalities it creates. Income inequality has steadily risen in Canada over the past 20 years. The threat of climate change is becoming ever more obvious while environmental policies progress more slowly than melting glaciers. While workers in Canada are waging vital campaigns such as the Fight for $15 to improve wages for those who are paid the least, the mobilization around fairer compensation is just one part of the struggle to resist workers' exploitation. One of the oldest rallying cries of the labour movement is to reduce the time that workers spend working."

"How Clintonites Are Manufacturing Faux Progressive Congressional Campaigns [...] For it seems that progressive candidates aren't the only ones who learned the lesson of Bernie Sanders in 2016; the neoliberal Clintonites have too. So, while left-wing campaigns crop up in every corner of the country, so too do astroturf faux-progressive campaigns. And it is for us on the left to parse through it all and separate the authentic from the frauds."

Norman Solomon at Common Dreams, "Why the DNC Is Fighting WikiLeaks and Not Wall Street: Willingness to challenge Wall Street would alienate some of the Democratic Party's big donors." Gosh, I wonder why that is?

Michelle Cottle in The Atlantic, "Hillary Clinton's High Profile Is Hurting the Democrats: She dismisses those who tell her to step aside, but at this rate she will harm her political future and aid the GOP. [...] You know how Donald Trump seems weirdly, almost pathologically, obsessed with Clinton, despite the election having occurred nearly a year and a half ago? He is not alone. The Republican base (as hosts at Fox News can attest) still hates Clinton with the heat of a thousand suns. Is that rational? No. Is it a super-effective way for the GOP to fire up its base with high-stakes midterms approaching? To quote that great political sage Sarah Palin, you betcha!"

"For Democrats, the Russian Investigation Is Not Just Patriotic — It's Smart Politics: After a year of #RussiaGate, the Democrats have both their base and the entire country right where they want them." Democrats and independents increasingly believe in the myths around Russiagate, including that somehow the "dank memes" of Russian bots are what swung the election for Trump (God knows how), even though there is no evidence for any of it. Oh, and it provides a platform to attack Sanders as a Russian dupe or colluder, as well.

"Wrong-way Democrats: Will a 'blue dog' blue wave pave the way for future disaster?: Democrats will win big this fall (probably). But are they just repeating the mistakes of the Clinton-Obama era? [...] One especially trenchant observer on this front is activist, blogger and longtime music exec Howie Klein, who has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the Democratic Party's efforts to intervene in the midterms, and the way the struggle has been covered in the media. Klein discussed the Southern California races recently on his Down With Tyranny! blog, writing that DCCC-favored candidates "are always conservatives and never independent-minded agents of change.' A day before that: 'The DCCC has 38 candidates on their Red To Blue list so far. I count three who are worth voting for &mdash' and I'm not even 100% sure about one of the three. At least nine of them are outright Blue Dogs. ... And 21 of them are admitted New Dems.'"

Jeff Weaver has written a book, How Bernie Won: Inside the Revolution That's Taking Back Our Country--and Where We Go from Here.

Interview in The Nation, "Thomas Frank: Trump Could Win the 2020 Election: But we can also stop him."

"Gaius Publius: How the Democrats Could, and Probably Will, Blow 2020"

An Al Jazeera reporter went undercover to look for the much-touted anti-semitism of the British left, but mainly found a state-sponsored PR campaign to promote the idea that criticizing Israel's policies is anti-semitism. "Al Jazeera Investigations exposes how the Israel lobby influences British politics. A six-month undercover investigation reveals how Israel penetrates different levels of British democracy."

Jonathan Cook, "Anti-Semitism. Orchestrated Offensive against Jeremy Corbyn in the UK: For months, a campaign has been aimed at destabilising British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, accused of anti-Semitism. The right-wing party, Tony Blair's heir, and pro-Israel circles are targeting both Corbyn's left-wing line and his support for the Palestinian people."

I might be inclined to agree with a lot of Michelle Goldberg's "How the Online Left Fuels the Right" if she didn't screw it up by talking about people like Ben Shapiro as if they are prepared to argue in good faith . They're not, and anyway, that's not the point. Call-out culture on the left just isn't very good at making friends, period.

"Another Side of Feynman: Nine letters by Freeman Dyson portray his relationship with the Nobel Laureate."

"This magical drug mansion in Upstate New York is where the psychedelic '60s took off: Owned by one of America's richest families, Millbrook hosted Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Mingus and more"

This is a few years old but it cracked me up. "One Restaurant Owner Has Been Waging An Online War With Vegans For Two Months Now"

The Four Tops, "Baby, I Need Your Loving", because sometimes I just gotta get up and dance to it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I got sunshine

Read this scary thread from @ArshyMann. (And, while on the one hand, I've been acutely aware, and most women at least sense, that this kind of projection exists and is dangerous to us, I admit I never would have predicted it as a proud identity.) "For the past little while, I've been working on a piece about Toronto's relationship to the alt-right, especially the "manosphere." Unfortunately that research has become relevant. I'm going to share as much as I can here for people who may not be familiar with these movements."

"Portland Burgerville workers approve federally recognized union: Workers at a Burgerville in Southeast Portland overwhelmingly approved the formation of a federally-recognized union, making them the first to do so since a fast-food labor fight erupted nationally five years ago."

"Electronics-recycling innovator is going to prison for trying to extend computers' lives: A Southern California man who built a sizable business out of recycling electronic waste is headed to federal prison for 15 months after a federal appeals court in Miami rejected his claim that the "restore discs" he made to extend computers' lives had no financial value, instead ruling that he had infringed on Microsoft Corp. to the tune of $700,000." This is basically corporate prosecution of a private citizen to prevent him from helping people save a bit of money.

"Barcelona Forces Banks to Turn Repossessed Homes Into Affordable Housing: To address a housing shortage, Spain's second city says bank-owned properties can no longer sit empty." This is a great idea and American cities should be doing the same.

"USA Today: Nearly Two Thirds of Americans Have Given Up On Political Parties: (IVN) Many Americans will be staying out of the voting booth for the 2018 elections, disillusioned by the promises of politicians and convinced that the political system is irreparably corrupt."

David Dayen says, "Whether America Can Afford A Job Guarantee Program Is Not Up For Debate: SEN. BERNIE SANDERS'S endorsement of a guaranteed job for anyone who wants one, joining previous supporters such as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, reinvigorated a debate that has been roiling within economics Twitter and academic circles for a long time. Those more partial to a universal basic income untethered to work clash with job guarantee supporters from the left; those who see the job guarantee as a dangerous slip into socialism attack from the right. And mainstream Democrats not running for the presidency don't really want to talk about it. Those fresh to the debate, meanwhile, instinctively ask what feels like an intuitive question: How on earth can we pay for that? But if we're going to have an honest debate about whether the government should be spending hundreds of billions of dollars so that people can obtain jobs, we should acknowledge that the government already does. Officials at the local, state, and federal levels push enormous amounts of money toward this stated purpose — they just channel it through corporations, in the form of special tax breaks and 'economic development' subsidies. It's not clear that businesses actually use all that money to create jobs, rather than just enjoying the subsidies and tax cuts for themselves, so if the true purpose really is to create work for people, the new jobs guarantee debate offers a much simpler — and probably much cheaper — approach to the same end."

It would be nice to believe they would do this stuff if they ever got back in control of Congress: "Kirsten Gillibrand Unveils A Public Option For Banking: The idea would provide a low-cost alternative to payday loans -- and it might just save the Postal Service, too." It would also be nice to think the Dems would get rid of that stupid requirement to fund all Post Office pensions 75 years in advance, which is the very thing we have to save the Post Office from.

"Speaker Ryan Firing Chaplain Conroy Is True Attack on Religious Liberty: Fr. Patrick J. Conroy, a Jesuit priest who served as Chaplain to the US House of Representatives, has been fired by Speaker Paul Ryan. Though the Speaker declined to justify his action, Fr. Conroy told the New York Times that Ryan had admonished him after a public prayer for the poor, 'Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.' As clergy who, like Fr. Conroy, have taken vows to preach the Word of God, we do not see how you can read the Bible and stay out of politics. Isaiah 10 speaks directly to lawmakers: 'Woe unto you who legislate evil and rob the poor, making widows and orphans your prey.' Jeremiah received a Word from the Lord in chapter 22, saying, 'God down to the palace of the king and declare, 'Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.' These are not only the public priorities of the Hebrew prophets. In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus says he will judge nations — not individuals — by asking, 'When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was thirsty, did you give me something to drink?' The epistle of James makes clear that God opposes anyone who prevents workers from receiving a living wage..."

David Dayen, "Ryan's Hope [...] Nobody deserved to go out in shame more than Ryan did; I'm sad it didn't come when he lost his Speaker's gavel or, worse, when he lost his seat. (I don't buy that "see I'm popular!" poll he released showing him up 21 points on Randy Bryce, but even if it were true, a 55% re-elect for a 20-year Congressman and national leader isn't that good). He deserved to go out the way Thomas Foley did in 1994, after he was targeted by Newt Gingrich and doomed to defeat in his eastern Washington district. Ryan was a con man and a liar armed with terrible, unpopular ideas that he somehow grifted the national media into thinking were responsible. His budgets were innumerate, hiding the class warfare and mass suffering they would have caused with phony numbers. His philosophy was bankrupt, hated by those who actually divined its intentions. His concern for anyone who couldn't buy him a $350 bottle of wine was fake, and his great dream in live was to take away their safety net as they crashed to Earth. And he was actually a bad politician, swinging his home state and even his home district further away from Republicans when he became the vice presidential nominee. But make no mistake: Ryan won. His sensibilities matched the pain demands of the Washington Post editorial board, who joined his call to starve the poor. And while he didn't reach his cherished goals of crushing Social Security and Medicare, he did force a Democratic administration into the smallest percentage of public investment since the Eisenhower era. He did deliver one of the most imbalanced, gimmicky, gift-style tax cuts to corporate America in history. He did preserve most of the last giant tax cut, which was more larded on the rich. Because Washington can be amoral and stupid, Paul Ryan was seen as its one-eyed king, its boy wonder. And the inequality statistics don't lie as to his success. We'll spend the next generation burying the Ryan era." .

Alex Pareene, "If We Had a Liberal Media We Wouldn't Have Had a Paul Ryan [...] The sheer admiration the political press has shown for him since then can't even be explained by something like his popularity — he is deeply unpopular, almost entirely because his ideas are deeply unpopular, and that is in spite of a years-long campaign by our liberal media to launder those ideas. If longtime Washington journalists treat plans to literally end Medicare, among the most popular programs in the history of American governance, as not just 'serious' but arguably necessary, by what possible definition can the elite media be said to be 'liberal'?"

David Dayen, "The Art of the Let Me Back in That Deal: The thing about lacking any core beliefs is that it's liberating. Donald Trump, who spent the entire presidential campaign calling the Trans-Pacific Partnership the worst trade deal ever written, now is openly musing about re-joining it. The flip-flop is rooted in desperation. Trump has managed to figure out that China's retaliatory tariffs slam farm states, and he's digging up any policy he can find to keep them happy, including going back to New Deal-era farm supports! Trump as FDR! Like I said, liberating. TPP is part of that mix, not only as an alleged opening of new markets (which it isn't, as the U.S. already has bilateral agreements with countries representing the overwhelming majority of TPP economies) but as another provocation to China, as a pretext to get them to bargain.It's also true that the TPP agreed to by the other eleven nations is substantially different than the one negotiated by President Obama, particularly on intellectual property for pharmaceuticals. That's good news for the global poor who won't be held up by multinationals for life-saving medications, but bad news for the multinationals who urged the U.S. to sign TPP. Those nations aren't interested in re-opening that can of worms, even as Trump conditioned re-entry on a "substantially better" deal. Of course, none of this is going to happen. The tariffs and this TPP play are all fodder for some negotiated settlement with China. I'm not sure that'll come about either. But Trump's not a very good bluffer. And he's betrayed the workers he incited with TPP opposition in the process. All in a day's work."

Oh, look, here's Steny Hoyer on video trying to elbow a progressive candidate out of the primaries to clear the road for another corporate hustler of Hoyer's choosing.
* And here's Lee Fang's story on the background of the candidates and the maneuvering in the DCCC.

Ryan Grim, "National Democrats created a competitive primary in New York, infuriating the local party. Another case where the DCCC tries to overrule the grassroots by recruiting a loser to run against their candidate. "In Syracuse, New York, a heavily Democratic city, things didn't go quite as well. The party's nominee for mayor, Juanita Perez Williams, lost in a landslide to an independent candidate, even managing to lose her own neighborhood by two to one. In some lines of work, a failure so complete might earn somebody a demotion, a period of probation, or a rethinking of whether the career path and the skillset are a perfect marriage. But this is Democratic Party politics, where consequences are for the people, not the politicians. And so, the performance earned her an invitation to the headquarters of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, touching off another intraparty saga that would go on to pit the national party against grassroots activists. Within just a few days of the loss, Perez Williams was in Washington, D.C., sitting down with top-tier Democratic operatives who saw, in her failed campaign, the makings of a promising 2018 congressional candidate."

Uh oh, it's the Judean People's Front versus the People's Judean Front versus the People's Front of Judea... Benjamin Studebaker, "The Left is Not a Church [...] You know how the religious right became a big deal in the United States? It stopped acting like a bunch of churches. It stopped caring whether you were Catholic or Protestant, whether you were Evangelical or Mainline. It stopped caring if you were Mormon. It even stopped caring if you went to church. All the religious right cares about is whether your policies work for them and whether you have a realistic strategy for implementing those policies. If you're anti-abortion you can have three wives, cheat on all of them constantly, never go to church, and brag about abusing women. You can be Donald Trump. It doesn't matter. The religious right sees itself as trying to save millions of people from being brutally murdered by their own mothers. It will subordinate all petty theological disputes to the overarching goal of putting a stop to the killing. They are relentless. They take their goals seriously."

Ryan Grim at The Intercept, "Democrat claimed independent status in election filings, but records show he was a Republican [...] Butner was recruited to run in California's 50th Congressional District by the Democratic leaders, yet his progressive opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, has won the endorsement of the state Democratic Party and the bulk of the activist groups in the district." He has a remarkably spotty voting record, but it's all Republican. "Elsewhere around the country, the Democrat leadership's zeal for veterans to run for office has led them to back other former Republicans. In Texas's 21st Congressional District, Joseph Kopser was previously registered as a Republican, having grown up in a conservative family. In Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, the party's chosen candidate, Elaine Luria, voted for her own Republican opponent not once, but twice. Gil Cisneros, a candidate in California's 39th District, is a Navy veteran and former Republican who had registered as a Democrat in 2015, after three years as an independent. He was named on Wednesday to the DCCC's Red-to-Blue program, tantamount to an endorsement. Butner came under fire earlier in the campaign for insisted that military service should be a prerequisite for a run for Congress."

David Dayen and Ryan Grim, "Democratic Party-Backed Candidate Leaves Groggy Voicemail Warning For Opponent: 'I'm Gonna Go Negative On You': WHEN KAREN THORBURN checked messages on her home answering machine on a Wednesday evening in early April, one of them was not like the others. It was a groggy-sounding voice, leaving a short but to-the-point message for her husband, Andy, who is running for Congress in California's 39th District. 'Hi Andy. It's Gil Cisneros. I'm gonna go negative on you,' the man said, before going silent for an awkward four seconds and hanging up. [...] The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently named Cisneros to the list of candidates it's supporting in races around the country. He is running to replace incumbent Republican Ed Royce, who is retiring. The crowded district was recently featured in a New York Times article about the party's interventions in California primaries, which the DCCC laments have been forced upon it by events outside its control. But a closer look at the district finds a mess very much of the party's own making."

Conor Lynch at Salon, "Bernie Sanders criticizes Democrats, they flip out (again): Has politics become team sports? Sanders' comments about Democratic failures aren't even controversial. But for some partisans, he's the enemy [...] It is not so much the message but the messenger that infuriates them. It's also true, however, that the idea Sanders represents — namely, that principles should come before party, and that politics should not be treated like a team sport — is anathema to these committed partisans. [...] Another interesting finding in Mason's research is that those who identify as 'conservative' demonstrate 'significantly less issue-based constraint.' As she notes, this is consistent with the research of Christopher Ellis and James Stimson, who find that 'American conservatives tend to be relatively left-leaning in their issue-based preferences, while liberals also hold left-leaning attitudes.' In other words, so-called conservatives are even more likely to be driven by group identity than liberals, even though they might actually agree with liberal or progressive positions on many issues. It's no wonder, then, that Sanders, who talks about the issues and offers progressive solutions that are popular with the broader public, while avoiding overheated partisan, has appeal not just to liberals and young people in blue states but to many voters in traditionally Red states. Though identity-based ideology has grown more pervasive over the past few decades, there is still a strong underlying desire for issue-based candidates."

"The Democratic Party is paying millions for Hillary Clinton's email list, FEC documents show: HEADING INTO THE 2018 midterms, with Democrats hoping to take back the House of Representatives and even make a run at the Senate, the party has spent more than $2 million worth of campaign resources on payments to Hillary Clinton's new group, Onward Together, according to Federal Election Commission filings and interviews with people familiar with the payments. The Democratic National Committee is paying $1.65 million for access to the email list, voter data, and software produced by Hillary for America during the 2016 presidential campaign, Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson for the DNC, told The Intercept. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has paid more than $700,000 to rent the same email list. Clinton is legally entitled to rent her list to the party, rather than hand it over as a gift, but in 2015, Barack Obama gave his email list, valued at $1,942,640, to the DNC as an in-kind contribution. In 2013 and 2014, OFA had similarly made in-kind contributions exceeding $3.4 million for uses of the list that cycle." Of course, the party is even more cash-strapped than it was back then. Irritatingly, the Clintonites spent months bashing Bernie Sanders for not handing over his email list for free.

The Pied Piper strikes again. "Dems Meddle In WV To Boost Ex-Con Coal Baron In GOP Senate Primary: National Democrats have been not-so-quietly hoping that controversial ex-con and coal baron Don Blankenship wins the West Virginia GOP Senate primary in a few weeks, seeing him as by far the easiest opponent for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Now, they're stepping up to try to make that happen."

Why commercial medicine is a bad idea: "Goldman Sachs Analysts Question Whether Curing Patients Is Good for Business." These guys talk about infectious diseases being spread by carriers like it's a good thing.

"Why we can always afford a war: Patricia Pino and Christian Reilly discuss Government 'debt' and explain why politicians never ask 'how are you going to pay for it?' when it comes to war."

Robert Fisk at the Independent: "The search for truth in the rubble of Douma — and one doctor's doubts over the chemical attack: [...] As Dr Assim Rahaibani announces this extraordinary conclusion, it is worth observing that he is by his own admission not an eyewitness himself and, as he speaks good English, he refers twice to the jihadi gunmen of Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] in Douma as 'terrorists' — the regime's word for their enemies, and a term used by many people across Syria. Am I hearing this right? Which version of events are we to believe?"

"American media wrong on Syria coverage" — Mark Crispin Miller makes the point that while people assume that Russia Today is propaganda, Americans don't understand that the same is true of the "free press" in the United States.

And that goes for Britain as well, where in true MSNBC fashion, the narrative of the elites is the only one that matters at the Guardian, who aren't interested when a seasoned and accomplished war reporter actually goes to Douma and tries to make sense of events, only to be dismissed like an unfounded rumor, in favor of people whose "expertise" is based on not being there and being pro-regime change.

"Eyeless in Gaza: Write down: I, Uri Avnery, soldier number 44410 of the Israel army, hereby dissociate myself from the army sharpshooters who murder unarmed demonstrators along the Gaza Strip, and from their commanders, who give them the orders, up to the commander in chief."

Poor beleaguered Andrew Cuomo is at war with the evil teachers' union. "Andrew Cuomo rips teacher unions as selfish 'industry' more interested in members' rights than student needs: A passionate Gov. Cuomo upped his war with the teacher unions on Thursday, charging that they represent themselves — not the students." It's funny how much he sounds like a Republican. I hope Cynthia Nixon wipes the floor with him She already has the Working Families Party endorsement (won with 91% of the committee vote). I never thought I'd be endorsing a candidate named "Nixon", but jeez she's good! Look at this: "Cynthia Nixon Puts Legalizing Marijuana Front and Center of Campaign: Cynthia Nixon on Wednesday made legalizing recreational marijuana the first policy plank of her campaign for governor, framing it as a necessary step toward reducing racial inequities in the criminal justice system — and, in doing so, bringing to the forefront an issue that may help her make inroads into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's robust support among black voters. [...] In a brief homemade video posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Ms. Nixon, seated in her living room, speaking over a faint but steady hum of background noise, said 80 percent of New Yorkers arrested in connection with marijuana use were black or Latino, despite roughly equal rates of use among white people and communities of color. [...] The simple truth is, for white people, the use of marijuana has effectively been legal for a long time. Isn't it time we legalize it for everybody else?"

Cuomo also hasn't been that kind to immigrants, but at least he knows he's in a fight this time around, and he's making everyone laugh with his attempts to cash in on other people's identities. "Andrew Cuomo Keeps Calling Himself 'Undocumented,' Which, Hmmm [...] During a union rally last Wednesday, Cuomo proclaimed that he was 'raised by poor immigrants from South Jamaica.' (South Jamaica is a neighborhood in Queens. His father, Mario Cuomo, was born in New York, and his mother, Matilda Cuomo, was also born in New York.) A day later, the governor said in the same vein, 'I'm an Italian-American, I came from poor Italian-Americans who came here. You know what they called Italian-Americans back in the day? They called them wops. You know what wop stood for? Without papers. I'm undocumented. You want to deport an undocumented person, start with me, because I'm an undocumented person.'" Well, no, it didn't, and he isn't, and his farther was the Governor of New York.

Meanwhile in Florida, unbelievably, "Patrick Murphy And David Jolly Want To Insert Third Way Into The Florida Governor's Race" - just what everyone wants, a "bipartisan" ticket with an "ex"-Republican and a real Republican, the ultimate DINO/RINO punch. God help us all.

"Health Insurers Spend $158K to Make Sure 'Blue Wave' Is Against Medicare for All: Tweet In the current cycle, big health insurers have quietly donated more than $150,000 to Democrats opposed to Medicare for All legislation."

Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo, "What else have they gotten wrong?" - This is really about what the GOP and libertarians and "centrists" have gotten wrong about regulations and business, but the interesting thing is that, "This month, Washington Monthly looked at a libertarian economist Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University's Mercatus Center. Tabarrok went looking for the effects of federal regulation on "economic dynamism" expecting to find support for the conservative dogma that government regulation harms the economy. He found none. What is remarkable is he published the paper anyway."

Branko Marcetic at Jacobin, "The Two Faces of Kamala Harris: Kamala Harris has matched every one of her progressive achievements with conservative ones." At first I was thinking, "Hm, maybe she's better than she seems...." And then I read further.

Teodrose Fikre, "I Don't Give a Damn about the First (Insert Identity Here) CEO or President: Do you know what literally repulses me these days? Hearing about the first so and so to get accepted into the exclusive club of the aristocracy. Frankly, I don't give a damn about the latest first black president or first woman CEO. Who cares! I don't know how we have arrived at this notion where we measure the wellness of humanity not based on the well being of the least of the citizenry who suffer in silence but based on the accumulation of the wealthiest among us. This annoyance of mine got revved up to full blown peeve two days ago when I heard a report of how Kamala Harris has a chance to become the first black woman president."

Valerie Tarico at AlterNet, "Here's Why Some Progressives Are Tearing Each Other Apart: Progressives are telling two different stories about the world we live in and the future we are trying to create. In important ways, they clash."

Smári McCarthy, "Universal coverage is good economics: Healthcare costs less and performs better when societies pull together. Unfortunately, Icelandic conservatives want American inefficiencies."

Democracy in Exile: The Rise of the Defense Intellectual w/ Daniel Bessner — Really interesting interview by Michael Brooks on The Majority Report looking at the history of how what started as a noble goal in the wake of the Nazi horror developed into the antidemocratic force for evil that the foreign policy community is today.

Reminders still always needed: "How the Koch brothers helped dismantle the Democratic Party: For over 20 years I have reported on the mostly unnoted role played by the Democratic Leadership Council dismantling the Democratic Party, disconnecting it from its New Deal and Great Society past and turning it into Republican Lite. [...] Such a partnership — between something called the Democratic Leadership Council and the Koch Brothers — goes a long way to explaining why our last two Democratic presidents have been so disloyal to their party's traditions. And why Obama is pushing something as atrocious and anti-American as the secret TPP agreement. Bipartisanship may be gone on Capitol Hill, but it's still flourishing in the checks that are written for politicians."

Here's a worthy project: putting data in the hands of advocates. "Democratic party leaders believe that Americans are more conservative than they actually are, and believe that supporting progressive candidates will hurt them electorally." But the data doesn't support this belief, and apparently if legislators see that their constituents support progressive policies, they are more likely to move toward those policies. And here's the article that sums it up, from Sean McElwee at Vice, "If Democrats Listened to Their Voters, They'd Be Moving Left: The Democratic base overwhelmingly supports progressive positions. It's time for the party to pay attention."

Jeff Spross in The Week, "Bernie Sanders has conquered the Democratic Party: Bernie Sanders' bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 was not universally welcomed, to put it mildly. His basic argument was that Democrats could assemble a cross-ethnic and cross-class coalition by offering big universal public programs like Medicare-for-all and free college tuition. But large portions of the party dismissed him as an interloper, a naive radical, or even just another entitled white male. Which makes developments since the 2016 election rather interesting: Quietly but steadily, the Democratic Party is admitting that Sanders was right."

Damon Linker, "Why can't liberals accept the truth about Hillary's 2016 failure? [...] I have no idea if Sanders would have fared better against Trump than Clinton did. But I do know that Clinton was the worst possible person to answer the angry accusations of a populist insurgency from either the protectionist right or the socialist left. She was too much a contented representative and beneficiary of the very political and economic establishments against which Trump directed his fire. She was the Davos candidate, the woman who defied the advice of her handlers to accept six-figure speaking fees from investment banks at events where she wooed rooms full of potential donors by dreaming of a world of open borders - a world in which the last remaining businesses to pay a decent wage in the Rust Belt would be given the green light to flee in pursuit of ever-higher profits. To counter that Trump-the-corrupt-real-estate-mogul is just as much a member of the nation's economic elite misses the political point entirely. A populist defines himself by those he attacks, and Trump attacked those in power. Who did Clinton attack? The "deplorable" voters who were tempted to vote for Trump - and she did it, of course, at a big-ticket fundraiser, before a room full of wealthy liberal donors." (I didn't think this article answered the question in the title, though.)

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink talks a good game about corporations taking account of their effect on the community, but actions speak louder, and some say "BlackRock Wields Its Big Stick Like a Wet Noodle on C.E.O. Pay."

Umair Haque, "Why We're Underestimating American Collapse: The Strange New Pathologies of the World's First Rich Failed State" — I have to take issue with the idea that it's the "first rich failed state". All those places in the Bible that God smote were pretty big deals with lots of wealth concentrated at the top, and they failed, too.

Corey Pein, "'Like Selling Crack to Children': A Peek Inside the Silicon Valley Grift Machine: Without rampant, unchecked fraud, I came to realize, the entire digital media business would collapse."
* Pein discussed this on The Michael Brooks Show

Now even Bloomberg is talking about it. "U.S. Jobs Guarantee Held Out as Path to True 'Full Employment'." Well, that's just true. I wonder why it's catching on.

Speaking of that, the neoliberals have been remarkably successful at convincing some people that the New Deal was nothing but a racist gift to white people and did nothing for black America. This would be false even if not a single penny of it went directly to any black people, since it brought a lot of money into the real economy at the lowest levels, which benefited everyone - but it's also not true that New Deal money only went directly into white people's hands. There is absolutely no question that, yes, some important parts of the New Deal blocked help for black Americans (and don't even get me started on red-lining), but even if you leave aside the fact that the programs we still have were since expanded to include them, there was also the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
* I also found this amusingly prescient prediction of the future from 1967 at the History site.

Hmmm, who's leading in the latest presidential poll? No surprises. (Details here in this .pdf.)

The Onion, "Fuming Rachel Maddow Spends Entire Show Just Pointing Wildly At Picture Of Putin"

"It's The Hubble Space Telescope's Birthday. Enjoy Amazing Images Of The Lagoon Nebula"

"This Incredible Vintage Film Shows a Trip Through New York City in 1911"

Have some fun loop animations.

The Temptations My Girl Original Video Recording 1964