Sunday, December 1, 2019

Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity

Happy Advent, have some traditional music. At the darkest and coldest time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, we need warmth and light, fellowship and joy, and I wish it to you all. Even Bill O'Reilly, much as he may try to spoil it.

"This is Bad: The Bolivian Military Coup Explained: Very Very Bad." It basically amounts to the right-wing claiming fraud because the popular left-wing president was pretty obviously winning, but read the article to see the details, which are a bit more than a simple pull-quote can clarify. And the OAS lied about "concerning" election results. Big takeway: The claim of "fraud" rests on the fact that returns from the areas where Morales' support is strongest came in later, so his six-point lead stretched over 10% as the data from the rural regions piled up.

Background from Newsweek back in April: "Bolivian Lawmakers Sent Letter To Donald Trump Asking Him To Intervene In Their Country's Election: A group of lawmakers in Bolivia is facing backlash after it sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting he work to intervene in their country's upcoming election in order to block President Evo Morales from running. The group of 12 politicians asked Trump to use Washington's influence within the Organization of American States to somehow prevent Morales from running for another term. In a 2016 referendum, which was later overturned by the South American country's Constitutional Tribunal, Bolivians voted to prevent Morales from seeking a fourth term." It's true that the referendum won, but it won very narrowly, and in the end, people clearly wanted to vote for Morales over the alternative. Which is probably why the opposition promoted term limits in the first place.

"Bolivia coup led by Christian fascist paramilitary leader and millionaire — with foreign support: Bolivian coup leader Luis Fernando Camacho is a far-right multi-millionaire who arose from fascist movements in the Santa Cruz region, where the US has encouraged separatism. He has courted support from Colombia, Brazil, and the Venezuelan opposition." The woman who simply declared herself interim president - supposedly for the sole purpose of calling new elections - has been very busy doing things that definitely are not in aid of free and fair elections, such as promising to arrest two-thirds of the legislature.. "The Bolivian Coup Is Not a Coup—Because US Wanted It to Happen: Army generals appearing on television to demand the resignation and arrest of an elected civilian head of state seems like a textbook example of a coup. And yet that is certainly not how corporate media are presenting the weekend's events in Bolivia. No establishment outlet framed the action as a coup; instead, President Evo Morales 'resigned' (ABC News, 11/10/19), amid widespread 'protests' (CBS News, 11/10/19) from an 'infuriated population' (New York Times, 11/10/19) angry at the 'election fraud' (Fox News, 11/10/19) of the 'full-blown dictatorship' (Miami Herald, 11/9/19). When the word 'coup' is used at all, it comes only as an accusation from Morales or another official from his government, which corporate media have been demonizing since his election in 2006 (FAIR.org, 5/6/09, 8/1/12, 4/11/19)."

"Unpacking Media Propaganda About Bolivia's Election: Pro-coup editorials rely on— and misreport—questionable evidence from the dubious OAS. To endorse the coup in Bolivia, numerous editorials in major US media outlets paint President Evo Morales as undemocratic. Exhibit A in their case is the Organization of American States' (OAS) claims that there was fraud in the October 20 Bolivian election in which Morales was elected for a fourth term. They also argue that he should not have been allowed to run again in the first place." A key claim in the propaganda is that Morales is "autocratic" because the Supreme Court overturned term limits, and the claim is that he had "packed the courts". That's an interesting charge since the judges aren't even appointed, but rather elected.

There was another debate. I can't seem to find a complete link yet but here's Everything Bernie Sanders Said During the Democratic Debate in Atlanta | NBC New York.

"Legislation That Would Surreptitiously Steal Social Security's $2.9 Trillion Surplus Has Been Defeated — But 97% of Republicans Voted For It: The following is a statement from Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works, in reaction to nearly every Republican member of the House of Representatives, as well as seven Democrats, voting for a Constitutional amendment requiring that all annual revenue and spending balance every year. The amendment failed to attain the two-thirds majority required to pass it into law:" If only they had an opposition party that was smart enough to make a big deal about this.

"Rodney Reed Lawyers 'Relieved and Thankful' After Stay of Execution Granted by Texas Court" - so far only a stay of execution, which is obviously not enough since he's now been fairly conclusively proved innocent. Bernie says it's not enough since we should join the civilized world and eliminate the death penalty.

In The New Republic, "The Fall of Nate Silver: His data journalism blog, FiveThirtyEight, is a political website with no politics—or rather, no politics beyond a mute approval of the status quo. [...] Silver, let's not forget, launched his career as a political forecaster in 2007 under the pen name 'poblano,' and as devilishly subversive as it no doubt was for a nerdy white boy to hide behind the pseudonymous cover of a foodstuff that brown people eat (this guy!), perhaps the signs were always there of a basic superficiality in the worldview of this, red flag incoming, University of Chicago economics major. "

"Watch The Iceland Christmas Ad Which Will Never Be Shown After Authorities Banned It; Supermarket Iceland's advert for Christmas has been banned for being too political. The commercial, made with Greenpeace, features an animated orangutan and highlights the destruction of the rainforest by palm oil growers."

Amazing Bloomberg headline: "Americans Are Dying Younger, Saving Corporations Billions: Life expectancy gains have stalled. The grim silver lining? Lower pension costs."

"Sweden drops investigation into bogus sexual misconduct allegations against Julian Assange: A Swedish prosecutor announced Tuesday morning that her office was dropping its preliminary investigation into allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It is the third time that Sweden has been compelled to shelve the investigation for lack of any evidence to support it, and confirms that the claims of 'rape' or 'sexual assault' by Assange are a politically motivated fraud. The Swedish investigation has always been a stalking horse for the US government, which has sought to extradite Assange, either from Sweden or Britain, where he is currently jailed, in order to lock him up forever or execute him on charges under the 1917 Espionage Act, because of WikiLeaks' publication of evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Assange was illegally dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London last April, after spending seven years inside, having been granted political asylum. At the time, the Swedish deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, reopened the investigation into claims—initiated by the police rather than the women involved—that Assange had been guilty of sexual assault in 2010."

This is the best news I've seen in a long time, that Mike's work will be back in print and with his last book finally published. "The Disappearance of John M. Ford: I wanted to learn why a beloved science fiction writer fell into obscurity after his death. I didn't expect that I would help bring his books back to life. [...] And so, after months of investigation, I found myself in an Iceberg Passage, seeing only some of the story while, lurking beneath the surface, other truths remained obscure. I do not share Ford's horror at obviousness, but there are simply things that we will never know. We will never know why Mike and his family grew apart, or, from the family's perspective, how far apart they were. We will never know who anonymously tried to edit the Wikipedia page to cut out Elise Matthesen. (The family denies any involvement.) But I reconnected Ford's family and editors at Tor, and after a year of delicate back-and-forth spearheaded by Beth Meacham, Tor and the family have reached an agreement that will gradually bring all of his books back into print, plus a new volume of stories, poems, Christmas cards, and other uncollected material. First up, in fall 2020, is the book that introduced me to Ford, The Dragon Waiting. Then, in 2021, Tor will publish— at long last— the unfinished Aspects, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman."

Astonishingly, in The New York Times, "Bernie Sanders vs. The Machine: In 1981, he was elected mayor of Burlington. But the city's bureaucracy showed him that winning wasn't everything. So he learned how to fight back. BURLINGTON, Vt. — The young woman on the political leaflet was smiling, but the message printed beside her in bold capital letters was severe. 'The last two years,' it said, 'have shown that those who made the revolution are not always the best to lead after the coup.' To voters in Burlington, in 1983, the reference to Bernie Sanders was unmistakable. What Democrats here were calling a coup was this: A young socialist had captured the mayor's office two years earlier by a margin of just 10 votes, upending the political order in a comfortable lakeside city of about 38,000. For decades, an old-school Democratic machine had dominated municipal government. In 1983, the party intended to reclaim control by assailing Mr. Sanders's 'unkept promises.' But in his re-election campaign that year, Mr. Sanders crushed the competition. Casting himself as a champion of the people against the establishment, Mr. Sanders summoned voters to the polls in unusual numbers. He triumphed over two opponents — one Democrat and one Republican — by more than 20 percentage points."

"Federal Judge Allows North Dakota Republicans to Block Native Americans From Voting [...] Following Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's narrow victory in 2012, North Dakota's Republican lawmakers passed a new law requiring voters to present an ID that lists their current residential street address. The measure plainly targeted Native Americans, many of whom live on rural reservations with no street names or residential addresses. Previously, residents could vote with a valid mailing address, allowing rural tribal voters to list their P.O. Box. Now they must provide an ID with their exact residency—something that many Native Americans don't have and can't get."

Deconstructed Special: The Noam Chomsky Interview (audio and transcription), with Mehdi Hasan. "Forty years of the neoliberal assault on the general population which has been extremely harmful almost everywhere. It's led to anger, resentment, contempt for institutions. And when you have a period of unfocused anger, resentment and so on, it's fertile territory for demagogues to arise, and try to mobilize it, and blame it, not on its sources. So, like not on the international financial institutions that are lying behind it to a substantial extent. But to focus it on scapegoats. Typically, people even more vulnerable than you are, immigrants, Muslims, Afro-Americans. This goes way back to Ronald Reagan's 'Welfare queens' and so on and many other demagogues in the past. So yes, that's rising.".

Kate Aronoff in The Nation, "We Need a Green Bailout for the People: Here's what the government should demand when the economy tumbles and Wall Street comes begging. [...] The next crash will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to decarbonize the economy, so the next recovery cannot aim to just blindly increase output and demand. An industrial mobilization on the scale of a Green New Deal could cause a short-term spike in emissions, but it will need to transform consumption qualitatively by giving more people access to real prosperity, not just the ability to buy more cheap junk. Sociologist Daniel Aldana Cohen has aptly called for a 'last stimulus' that would dramatically shrink those parts of the economy we don't need (fossil fuels, speculative finance, building more McMansions) while increasing those we do (renewable energy, public transit, care work, affordable housing, education, the arts, and more)."

"Is Your Employer Stealing From You? Millions of workers lose billions in stolen wages every year—nearly as much as all other property theft. [...] Wage theft isn't one of the crimes most prosecutors and politicians refer to when they talk about getting "tough on crime," but it represents a massive chunk of all theft committed in the U.S. A 2017 study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that in the ten most populous states, an estimated 2.4 million people lose a combined $8 billion in income every year to theft by their employers. That's nearly half as much as all other property theft combined last year—$16.4 billion according to the FBI. And again, EPI's findings are only for ten states. According to the institute, the typical worker victimized by minimum-wage violations is underpaid by $64 per week, totaling $3,300 per year. If its figures are representative of a national phenomenon, then EPI estimates that the yearly total for American wage theft is closer to $15 billion."

"California Mayors Back Plan to Make PG&E a Cooperative: Frustrated with wildfires and intentional blackouts caused by Pacific Gas & Electric, more than two dozen California mayors and county leaders are calling for a customer-owned power company to replace the giant utility."

A recent poll found that Fox News viewers were more likely to support Bernie Sanders than viewers of MSNBC were. That's not surprising, since Fox attacks Sanders all the time in just the ways that are likely to make people want to vote for him, but "MSNBC Is the Most Influential Network Among Liberals—And It's Ignoring Bernie Sanders: When the network's primetime pundits do cover Sanders, they cover him more negatively than Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden."

Linda Sarsour in Teen Vogue, "Yes, Women of Color Support Bernie Sanders. It's Time to Stop Erasing Our Voices. In this op-ed, the activist and Sanders surrogate argues that Sanders is the only candidate who can bring transformational change. [...] Women of color are exhausted from bearing the disproportionate burdens of inequality — and with so much at stake in this election, we are exhausted from having to explain ourselves. Every time our choice for the presidency is discredited, our agency of women of color is stripped away. Every time people echo the patently false 'Bernie Bro' narrative, they erase our voices as well. Regardless of who the Democratic nominee is, we will not hesitate to support them in the summer of 2020. But by supporting Sanders in the primary, women of color are simply continuing the fight for justice we have spearheaded for generations."

Oh, look whose reared his bankster head again. "Deval Patrick, Foreclosure Mogul: How the 2020 Democratic presidential contender helped a Republican billionaire rip off the middle class." Short version: He covered for Ameriquest. He also covered for Texaco. "Under Patrick's leadership in 1997, the DOJ signed a $176 million settlement with Texaco for racial discrimination against its employees. A year after a court approved the deal, he left the DOJ for a job as Texaco's top in-house attorney." It appears Barack himself has convinced him to enter the presidential race. I guess he doesn't fancy the chances of any of the other "centrists" in the race and really hates the alternative possibilities of Warren and Sanders.

"The Iron Law of Institutions: What You Need to Know About Voting in the 2020 Primary [...] If you don't believe the Democratic party is redeemable, don't get your hopes up that another party would end up being much better. Any other party would also be subject to the Iron Law of Institutions. It thus would be quickly just as dreadful as the Democrats...unless people put in the same amount of work as would be required to clean out the Democrats' Augean stables.

"Billionaires hurt economic growth and should be taxed out of existence, says bestselling French economist [...] Thomas Piketty, whose 2013 book on inequality, Capital in the 21st Century, became a global bestseller and bible for tax-the-rich progressives, just published a 1,200-page follow-up book called Capital and Ideology It won't be published in English until March. But in an interview with the French magazine L'Obs, Piketty called for a graduated wealth tax of 5% on those worth 2 million euros or more and up to 90% on those worth more than 2 billion euros. [...] Piketty added that the notion that billionaires create jobs and boost growth is false. He said per capita income growth was 2.2% a year in the U.S. between 1950 and 1990. But when the number of billionaires exploded in the 1990s and 2000s — growing from about 100 in 1990 to around 600 today — per capita income growth fell to 1.1%."

"The US could raise $1 trillion more in taxes through stricter IRS enforcement, according to a new study [...] There will be more than $7.5 trillion uncollected taxes by 2029 under the current system, they estimated, and roughly 70% of that would be driven by underpayment by the top 1% of earners."

Dean Baker, "How Rich Would Bill Gates Be Without His Copyright on Windows? [...] This simple and obvious point matters because it is popular in many circles to claim that income inequality is just an inevitable, even if unfortunate, result of technology and globalization. In fact, there is nothing inevitable about patent and copyright protection; these monopolies exist as a result of government policy. The fact that Bill Gates and many others have gotten hugely rich as a result of these protections is a result of government policy, not an inevitable outcome of technological progress."

"Why Political Pundits Are Obsessed with Hidden Moderates [...] This isn't just a question of bad punditry—it's a window into how skewed our standards have become by the extreme concentration of wealth and the normalization of an assault on the formerly bipartisan, post-war governing consensus, which embraced forceful government regulation of corporations and a steeply progressive income tax structure. But while elites have accepted the concentration of wealth, the leveling of the tax code and the decimation of even basic consumer protections as normal, the majority of voters have not. Americans have been losing faith in government for decades, long before Trump. And income inequality is driving that loss of faith."

David Dayen, "What Obama Really Wants: His interventions in the presidential race are music to the ears of the wealthy and powerful. [...] Obama has determined to put his thumb on the primary scale, and he couches his critique in the language of electability, in what voters really want. Practically every Democrat in America wants to eject Donald Trump from the White House, and ask 100 of them and you get 101 theories of how to make that happen. But without doubting Obama's sincerity that a moderate politics and only a moderate politics can spell victory next November, I can't help but notice the audiences for his targeted attacks on progressive policy: wealthy donors in the most rarefied, winner-take-all enclaves of America, whether in Washington last week or San Francisco on Thursday. It's rather telling that The New York Times quoted Obama's friend Robert Wolf to unlock the former president's mindset, when he argued that Obama is 'trying to set a tone.' Who is Robert Wolf? The former chairman and CEO of UBS Americas, the U.S. affiliate of the Swiss megabank, who now sits on the board of Obama's foundation, and owns a venture capital firm and a company offering 'drones as a service' on the side. That's the milieu Obama lives in today; he hasn't spent a year on the campaign trail like the candidates have. And his warnings about runaway liberals doing 'crazy stuff' just so happen to line up with protecting the profits and lifestyles of those wealthy donors. In doing so, Obama is revealing the limits of his own incrementalism, which cannot surmount a Washington rigged in favor of elites. This has real consequences in politics and policy, for who sits in power and who struggles on the outside. During his own presidency, Obama told a group of bankers that he was the only thing standing between them and the pitchforks. Here we are, sadly, again."

Haretz, "The Contract on Corbyn [...] Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. He never was. His real sin is his staunch position against injustice in the world, including the version Israel perpetrates. Today this is anti-Semitism. The Hungarian Viktor Orban, the Austrian Freedom Party and the extreme right in Europe are not the danger to Jews. Corbyn is the enemy. The new and efficient strategy of Israel and the Zionist establishment brands every seeker of justice as an anti-Semite, and any criticism of Israel as hatred of Jews. Corbyn is a victim of this strategy, which threatens to paralyze and silence Europe with regard to Israel."

An entertaining little ad from the Labour Party, "Jeremy Corbyn: There's a DEADLINE to rewrite your future."

Mehdi Hasan, "When Asked How They'll Pay for Their Plans, Democrats Should Answer Just as Trump Does: Mexico: [...] When they are inevitably asked by a moderator from MSNBC or the Washington Post how they plan to 'pay for' one of their signature proposals — whether it is Medicare for All (Elizabeth Warren), a Green New Deal (Bernie Sanders), baby bonds (Cory Booker), middle-class tax cuts (Kamala Harris), or a universal basic income (Andrew Yang) — they should respond with one word: Mexico. Mexico, they should say, with the straightest of straight faces, will pay for it. Yes, that line would get a big laugh from the crowd in the hall. It would go viral online. It would endear the candidate who dares say it to Democratic voters watching at home (many of whom are fed up with debate moderators who constantly frame their questions around GOP talking points). It would help that candidate dominate the post-debate headlines on cable news. But it would do much more than that: It would serve a major strategic purpose. Democrats who dare to remind pundits and the public of Donald Trump's ridiculous yet oft-repeated campaign pledge that 'Mexico will pay for the wall' would finally be drawing a crucial line in the sand and saying to Republicans, to the media, and even to each other, that they will no longer be playing the tiresome and very right-wing 'pay for' game."

The tweet caught my attention:: While we were distracted by Ukrainegate over the past weeks, @SpeakerPelosi hid an extension of the Patriot Act into HR 3050, the House's version of the bipartisan bill in the senate that allows for trillions in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid Snap and SS." And the linked article: "Why the Hell Did Democrats Just Extend the Patriot Act? House leadership included the measure in a government funding bill—and even members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus went along with it. [...] Just 10 Democrats defied the leadership to vote against the resolution, including Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Ilhan Omar (a.k.a. 'the Squad'). 'I cannot in good conscience vote in favor of a [continuing resolution] that reauthorizes unconstitutional mass surveillance authorities,' Tlaib told me, 'especially under a president who has retweeted images of his opponents jailed and suggests anyone who disagrees with him is a criminal.' AOC tweeted before the vote, 'Yeah that's gonna be a no from me dog.'"

"Senate Democrats Join GOP to Back 'Automatic Austerity' Bill That Would Gut Social Programs, Hamstring Bold Policies: 'One priority of a Sanders or Warren White House absolutely must be politically crushing the deficit scolds within the Democratic Party.' A handful of Senate Democrats joined forces with Republicans last week to advance sweeping budget legislation that would establish an "automatic deficit-reduction process" that could trigger trillions of dollars in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and other social programs—and potentially hobble the agenda of the next president. The Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act (S.2765), authored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), passed out of the Senate Budget Committee on November 6. The legislation is co-sponsored by five members of the Senate Democratic caucus: Whitehouse, Mark Warner (Va.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Chris Coons (Del.), and Angus King (I-Maine). Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, issued a statement last week opposing the legislation and warning it 'could be used by Republicans to unilaterally cut programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and nutrition assistance—all supposedly to reduce the deficit.'" The others you could expect this from, but I don't think I'll pay attention next time someone tells me what a great progressive Sheldon Whitehouse is.

"Los Angeles County to Introduce VSAP E-Voting System: NOT Hand-Marked, NOT Paper, NOT Hand-Counted in Public: No doubt Los Angeles County's VSAP ('Voting Solutions for All People') rollout will not be covered as a debacle. The real question is: If there were a debacle — like, say, a case of election fraud — would we even know? Doubtful. Just what we want in a voting system! In this post, I'll give a brief overview of issues with electronic voting. Then I'll look at VSAP as an institution. Next, I'll show why the VSAP system is not only insecure, but likely to make money-in-politics even worse than it already is."

"No Imitations and No Limitations: Phillip Agnew talks to us about the Movement for Black Lives, the erasure of Bernie Sanders's diverse support base, and the need for a North Star beyond capitalism. [...] Yes, if anything, Barack Obama was a tranquilizer to many people. When activists went to visit him in the White House, he spoke down to us, counseling us on the way he sees change happening. He continues to speak ill of movements since leaving the presidency."

"Top U.S. Toxicologist Was Barred From Saying PFAS Cause Disease In Humans. She's Saying It Now.: THE WIDESPREAD ENVIRONMENTAL contaminants known as PFAS cause multiple health problems in people, according to Linda Birnbaum, who retired as director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program earlier this month. The statement may come as little surprise to those following the medical literature on the industrial chemicals that have been used to make nonstick coatings, firefighting foam, and host of other products. Thousands of scholarly articles have linked the chemicals to at least 800 health effects. Some of the health problems found in humans — including elevated cholesterol levels, liver dysfunction, weight gain, reproductive problems and kidney cancer — have been shown to increase along with the levels of the chemicals in blood. Extensive research also shows that children with higher levels of PFAS have weakened immune responses. Yet while she was leading the NIEHS, a division of the National Institutes of Health, whose mission is 'to discover how the environment affects people, in order to promote healthier lives,' Birnbaum was not allowed to use the word 'cause' when referring to the health effects from PFAS or other chemicals."

Adolph Reed, Jr., "How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence [...] But, when we step away from focus on racial disproportions, the glaring fact is that whites are roughly half or nearly half of all those killed annually by police. And the demand that we focus on the racial disparity is simultaneously a demand that we disattend from other possibly causal disparities. Zaid Jilani found, for example, that ninety-five percent of police killings occurred in neighborhoods with median family income of less than $100,00 and that the median family income in neighborhoods where police killed was $52,907.4 And, according to the Washington Post data, the states with the highest rates of police homicide per million of population are among the whitest in the country: New Mexico averages 6.71 police killings per million; Alaska 5.3 per million; South Dakota 4.69; Arizona and Wyoming 4.2, and Colorado 3.36. It could be possible that the high rates of police killings in those states are concentrated among their very small black populations—New Mexico 2.5%; Alaska 3.9%; South Dakota 1.9%; Arizona 4.6%, Wyoming 1.7%, and Colorado 4.5%. However, with the exception of Colorado—where blacks were 17% of the 29 people killed by police—that does not seem to be the case. Granted, in several of those states the total numbers of people killed by police were very small, in the low single digits. Still, no black people were among those killed by police in South Dakota, Wyoming, or Alaska. In New Mexico, there were no blacks among the 20 people killed by police in 2015, and in Arizona blacks made up just over 2% of the 42 victims of police killing."

"Drinking water supplying Great Lake turns toxic [...] 'If you did a Google image search for 'Toledo water,' what would pop up is the Toledo skyline where the Maumee River looks like the Chicago River on (St. Patrick's Day),' Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said. "The only difference is we didn't put any dye in it.'"

Patriotic Millionaires have a column in The Hill, "Ensuring everyone pays their fair share: Most people have heard of the estate tax, or as it's labeled by conservative fearmongers, the 'death tax.' But few understand just how important it is, how weak it's become in recent years, or why that matters. Thanks to the 2017 Trump tax cut — one of the biggest wealth grabs in history — a couple can now pass on an estate worth up to $22.8 million completely tax-free. With such a high cutoff before you start paying any estate tax at all, this clearly isn't something that prevents working class families from passing along their savings to their children and grandchildren. Rather, it's one of the best defenses we have in addressing economic inequality — one of the defining challenges of our time — and pushing back against the growth of a new American aristocracy, one in which a small number of wealthy families get wealthier while working Americans fall further behind. It's the only tax that many ultra-rich heirs will ever pay on the millions of dollars they're inheriting. And unless you're incredibly wealthy, you'll never pay a cent of it."

"Researchers Discover Seaweed That Tastes Like Bacon And Is Twice As Healthy As Kale: Researchers at Oregon State have patented a new strain of seaweed that tastes like bacon when it's cooked. The seaweed, a form of red marine algae, looks like translucent red lettuce. It also has twice the nutritional value of kale and grows very quickly. Did we mention it tastes like bacon?"

Pareen in The New Republic, The Death of the Rude Press: Deadspin and Splinter were only the most recent victims of a culling that began many years ago. [...] This is not a story about the private equity vampires ruining this specific company. It is about the implications of the fact that Splinter was not allowed to live, and Deadspin is not allowed to be political. Rude media, for lack of a better term, is dying. [...] Rudeness is not merely a tone. It is an attitude. The defining quality of rude media is skepticism about power, and a refusal to respect the niceties that power depends on to disguise itself and maintain its dominance. It's often hard for me to imagine that anyone can grow up in this era and not end up doubting the competence and motives of nearly everyone in charge of nearly every American institution, but some of us grow up instead to be Bari Weiss. For various reasons you could figure out after a couple hours with the writings of a Noam Chomsky or a Robert McChesney, this skepticism is frequently missing from the coverage of what we once called the 'mainstream media,' and people who have long and successful careers at our most prestigious press outlets tend to either never possess it, or have it systematically beaten out of them over time."

"Trends in Party Identification, 1939-2014: For more than 70 years, with few exceptions, more Americans have identified as Democrats than Republicans. But the share of independents, which surpassed the percentages of either Democrats or Republicans several years ago, continues to increase. Currently, 39% Americans identify as independents, 32% as Democrats and 23% as Republicans. This is the highest percentage of independents in more than 75 years of public opinion polling. Report: A Deep Dive Into Party Affiliation"

RIP: "Diahann Carroll: Pioneering actress dies aged 84 Carroll, who was 84, starred in 1960s TV show Julia, the first US sitcom to centre on a black woman. She was also the first black woman to win the Tony for best actress in 1962, for Broadway musical No Strings. She went on to be nominated for an Oscar for best actress in 1975 for Claudine.

I was cheered to see this in The Los Angeles Times, "Opinion: The Democratic debate confirmed it — we've entered the 'Bernaissance' [...] He and his supporters gathered on a scorching unshaded high school basketball court at a rally in El Sereno last weekend. Hearing him address nurses and teachers and undocumented Americans with such vitality, in the midst of such a vital campaign, just weeks after a heart attack, was moving. 'No half measures,' he insisted at the rally. 'We don't have decades,' he said about the climate crisis Wednesday night. Sanders has a sense of urgency that matches this moment and thoughtful policies — his devotion to which has been proven over the course of decades — to match that drive."

Nicole Aschoff reviewed Matt Stoller's latest book and criticized it - from the left. "It's Not Enough to Be Against 'the Monopolies': Antitrust is, and was, an extremely limited strategy for reining in corporations. We need a broader project to democratize the economy and the state. The 2008 financial crisis was traumatizing for millions of Americans. For some, the pain was visceral, caused by losing a job, a home, savings. For others, like Matt Stoller, the suffering was more existential. Stoller was working as a congressional staffer during the financial meltdown and witnessed firsthand how the US government screwed over homeowners while bailing out the bankers and speculators who had caused the crisis. Stoller wasn't alone in his disgust. Neil Barofsky, a prosecutor for the Southern District of New York who was brought on to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program, had similar sentiments. After much thought (and a book), Barofsky concluded that the US government had been 'captured by the banks.' Stoller would no doubt agree, but in his new book, Goliath: The 100-Year War Between Monopoly Power and Democracy, he situates the crisis in a much longer struggle.

RIP: Michael J Pollard, at 80, from a heart attack. "American actor who played the hapless getaway driver in the 1967 film classic Bonnie and Clyde." He also had a bunch of sf genre credits, but our eyes once met across a hotel lobby while I was checking in and he was looking straight at me and caught my look of surprised recognition. He was just as twinkly as he was on screen and I grinned and gave him a wink and went to find my room in the strange and legendary Chelsea. No idea what he was doing there, he'd just been sitting as if he was waiting for someone to arrive.

"Steal This Archive? Abbie Hoffman's Papers Become a College Collection: Thousands of letters and other artifacts from the life of the radical prankster of the counterculture are sold to the University of Texas at Austin"

Ringo was lookin' really good the day they did that shoot. "Abbey Road Walk"

I'm sorry, I can't explain my sudden inability to stop hearing Queen in my head all the time, but there it is. "Don't Stop Me Now" for an hour.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

One golden glance of what should be

"Democratic Socialists Had a Pretty Good Election Night: Several of the victories were in purple states. [...] Some were historic victories. In Philadelphia, the DSA-backed independent candidate Kendra Brooks won her City Council seat by over 10,000 votes, flipping a slot held by Republicans for generations. The national organization even sent DSA members from New York down to Philly to help knock on doors for her. [...] DSA members not endorsed by the national committee also won city council seats in Medford and Lansing; in Virginia — where Democrats won a majority of seats in the state legislature and turned every branch of the state blue for the first time in 26 years — delegate Lee Carter, a DSA member, won reelection."

"BERN NOTICE: Trump Pal Matt Bevin's Attacks On Bernie Wildly Backfired: After portraying his reelection campaign as an explicit crusade against Bernie and the working-class agenda fueling Bernie's campaign, GOP Gov. Matt Bevin said he felt 'confident' he'd win by 6 to 10 points in the Republican-leaning state of Kentucky. Instead, by the end of election night, Bevin was down, and both Kentucky's Secretary of State and NBC News declared that Bevin lost the race. Whatever happens with the final results (Bevin has not conceded), the fact that Kentucky's election was even close is a fantastic sign for the 2020 election and Bernie's campaign. It shows that GOP attacks on Bernie and his agenda are likely to backfire — even in traditionally Republican states."

"Fracking halted in England in major government U-turn: Victory for green groups follows damning scientific study and criticism from spending watchdog.The government has halted fracking in England with immediate effect in a watershed moment for environmentalists and community activists. Ministers also warned shale gas companies it would not support future fracking projects, in a crushing blow to companies that had been hoping to capitalise on one of the new frontiers of growth in the fossil fuel industry. The decision draws a line under years of bitter opposition to the controversial extraction process in a major victory for green groups and local communities. The decision was taken after a new scientific study warned it was not possible to rule out 'unacceptable' consequences for those living near fracking sites. The report, undertaken by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), also warned it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes fracking might trigger."

"Brazil's former president Lula walks free from prison after supreme court ruling: Brazil's former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has been released from prison after a supreme court ruling that delighted his supporters and infuriated followers of the far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. Lula, who was serving a 12-year corruption sentence, was greeted by hundreds of supporters wearing red vests emblazoned with his face outside the federal police headquarters in the city of Curitiba, where he had been imprisoned for 580 days. In a speech to the crowd, Lula thanked party militants who had camped outside throughout his imprisonment, and attacked the 'rotten side' of the police, prosecutors, tax office and justice system for jailing him." Shortly after his release, Lula was on Twitter thanking Bernie Sanders for his solidarity - and endorsing him for president.

Flabbergasting interview:The Enigma of Clarence Thomas w/ Corey Robin - MR Live - 11/4/19. Some people wonder where Clarence Thomas is coming from, but I gotta admit, I was not expecting that.

On CNN, "Cornel West: This is not the time for centrism: CNN's Anderson Cooper sat down with professor Cornel West to discuss Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and what it means to be a democratic socialist."

"Career-Long Conservative Joe Biden Attacks Progressives, Extols Imaginary Bipartisanship And Middle Way To Nowhere And Nothing [...] When Biden-- almost as big a liar as Trump-- wrote that "I have fought for the Democratic party my whole career" he was lying in the same manner he's been lying his whole life. [PolitiFact rates 15% of Trump's public statements 'true' or 'mostly true' and rates 37% of Biden's 'true' or 'mostly true,' better than Trump for sure-- but that still leave most of what he says a lie. Most Democratic politicians mostly tell the truth, not most lie.] In the past, Biden has admitted that when he was just getting started in politics he 'thought of myself as a Republican.' The Delaware Republican Party was talking with him about running as a Republican but he was hesitant because he didn't like Richard Nixon. Because of that antipathy for Nixon, he registered as an Independent. After he went to work for a local Democrat, Sid Balick, he switched his registration to Democrat and soon after began running for office, appealing to white resentment of black people.

"By trying to Silence Sanders, the Corporate Media De-Legitimize Themselves [...] In the absence of massive, grassroots movements, corporate voices always drown out all the others. Capitalist ownership of the media allows the rich to frame their own worldview as the political 'center,' thus relegating contending ideologies to the 'extremes' of left or right. In this sense, 'centrism' is nothing more than the political position of the corporate owners, who construct media versions of reality that make corporate-concocted policies seem the most logical, commonsensical and socially responsible approach to the world's problems. As long as the rich can sustain broad public trust in the 'truth' of their 'journalistic' products -- newspapers, electronic newscasts, books and other media created by professional operatives directly answerable to rich owners — widespread revolt against the corporate order is unlikely. "

"The Media Has a Right-Wing Bias. Politico's Founder Just Admitted It: How Republicans benefit from the media's centrist instincts. [...] It's hard to think of an analogy that does this justice. Phil Jackson admitting the triangle offense has lost its potency in the space-and-pace NBA? Paul Ryan turning on trickle-down economics? This is not exactly a mea culpa. Instead, it's a forthright description of the way that D.C. media works, all but acknowledging that liberal critics of mainstream news coverage have been right all along. Despite what the right might say, the problem with the news isn't a liberal bias—it's bias toward an arbitrary, made-up center that ends up tilting reality against liberal policies and politicians. [...] Here one of the nation's preeminent political journalists is admitting that he and other members of his class adhere to a rather cynical ideology—the ideology of finding the midway point between a normal party with normal policies and proposals and an intellectually bankrupt tribe of troglodytes that gets crazier and more morally repugnant by the day. The problem, in the view of Harris, is that pesky 'activists' (which is really just another word for 'voters') get in the way. Candidates like Warren and Bernie Sanders suffer in this environment because their ideas are out of step with the D.C. consensus. They are automatically categorized as 'extreme,' their ideas 'unworkable,' all because they reject the midway-point mode of governance, which only ends up favoring the actual extremists on the right."

Shickha Dalmia in The Week, "The real reason Kamala Harris is tanking [...] The real reason she's falling is that the more voters learn about Harris' decade-and-a-half record, first as a San Francisco prosecutor and then as the California attorney general, the more they recoil. And rightly so. Harris has long billed herself as a "progressive prosecutor." To most people, that would strike as oxymoronic. But to her this meant using the carceral state that conservatives like to tackle social problems that progressives care about. She's got the mindset of a cop who wants to save you not from the bad guys but yourself. "She repeatedly fought for more aggressive prosecution not just of violent criminals but of people who committed misdemeanor and 'quality of life' crimes," Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown noted after an exhaustive look at Harris' record."

"The Inflation Gap: A new analysis indicates that rising prices have been quietly taxing low-income families more heavily than rich ones. In an era of wild inequality, sputtering wages, and rising rents and health-care costs, the American working class has had one consistent financial respite: 'stuff,' broadly defined, is cheap. Sure, workers might not be able to afford a decent apartment, a college education, or sufficient elder care for an infirm relative, or to ever, ever get sick. But burgers, leggings, yard tools, bicycles, dishes, smartphones, soda—these items have become less expensive, thanks to big-box stores and internet retailers and imports from abroad. Or perhaps not. A new analysis from a prominent group of economic researchers suggests not only that rising prices have been quietly taxing low-income families more heavily than rich ones, but also that, after accounting for that trend, the American poverty rate is significantly higher than the official measures suggest. Call it 'inflation inequality,' a subtle, pernicious way that the fortunes of the rich and the poor have diverged. Using government data and scanner data from retail stores—the bar codes that get swiped at Target, the produce codes that get punched in at grocery stores—Xavier Jaravel of the London School of Economics found that from 2004 to 2015, the prices of the products purchased by the bottom income quintile increased faster than the prices of the products purchased by the top income quintile. As a result, low-income families experienced an annual rate of inflation conservatively estimated at 0.44 percentage points higher than that of high-income families."

"Manufacturing Fear and Loathing, Maximizing Corporate Profits! A Review of Matt Taibbi's Hate Inc.: Why Today's Media Makes Us Despise One Another [...] For all that, however, the most salient difference between the news media of 1989 and the news media of 2019 is the disappearance of the single type of calm and decorous and slightly boring cis-het white anchorman (who somehow successfully appealed to a nationwide audience) and his replacement by a seemingly wide variety of demographically-engineered news personæ who all rage and scream combatively in each other's direction. 'In the old days,' Taibbi writes, 'the news was a mix of this toothless trivia and cheery dispatches from the frontlines of Pax Americana.... The news [was] once designed to be consumed by the whole house.... But once we started to be organized into demographic silos [italics mine], the networks found another way to seduce these audiences: they sold intramural conflict' (p. 18). And in this new media environment of constant conflict, how, Taibbi wondered, could public consent, which would seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum from conflict, still be manufactured?? 'That wasn't easy for me to see in my first decades in the business,' Taibbi writes. 'For a long time, I thought it was a flaw in the Chomsky/Herman model' (p. 19). But what Taibbi was at length able to understand, and what he is now able to describe for us with both wit and controlled outrage, is that our corporate media have devised — at least for the time being — highly-profitable marketing processes that manufacture fake dissent in order to smother real dissent (p. 21). And the smothering of real dissent is close enough to public consentto get the goddam job done: The Herman/Chomsky model is, after all these years, still valid. Or pretty much so. Taibbi is more historically precise. Because of the tweaking of the Herman/Chomsky propaganda model necessitated by the disappearance of the USSR in 1991 ('The Russians escaped while we weren't watching them, / As Russians do...,' Jackson Browne presciently prophesied on MTV way back in 1983), one might now want to speak of a Propaganda Model 2.0. For, as Taibbi notes, '...the biggest change to Chomsky's model is the discovery of a far superior 'common enemy' in modern media: each other. So long as we remain a bitterly-divided two-party state, we'll never want for TV villains' (pp. 207-208)."

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism notices something odd. "Paul Jay and Sharmini Peries Ousted from The Real News Network in June; Current Fundraiser Hides that Fact; Falling Viewership and Liberal Turn Result: It's remarkable, or perhaps a function of the aggressive use of non-disclosure agreements, that the June defenestration of Paul Jay and Sharmini Peries from The Real News Network, the site they had founded and run for over a decade, has been kept under wraps for so long." And now that I think of it, I haven't posted anything from TRRN since April, haven't seen anything interesting from there.

Luke Savage, "Neoliberalism? Never Heard of It: The latest liberal parlor game is pretending there's no such thing as neoliberalism. The game's very popularity highlights neoliberalism's enduring hegemony. For the first time in decades, it has become possible to envision real alternatives to the prevailing political and economic order of the past forty years. In both Europe and the Americas, the neoliberal consensus is facing a crisis of moral, intellectual, and popular legitimacy: proving unable to deliver either the growth or the broad prosperity its ideologues once promised and facing robust electoral challenges from both the socialist left and the nationalist right. Predictably enough, this turn of events has elicited a defensive response from neoliberalism's greatest partisans and those otherwise invested in its political and cultural hegemony."

"Measles wipes out immune system's memory, study finds: Scientists say threat posed by measles is 'much greater than we previously imagined' [...] Measles causes long-term damage to the immune system, leaving children who have had it vulnerable to other infections long after the initial illness has passed, research has revealed. Two studies of unvaccinated children in an Orthodox Protestant community in the Netherlands found that measles wipes out the immune system's memory of previous illnesses, returning it to a more baby-like state, and also leaves the body less equipped to fight off new infections. Measles eliminated between 11% and 73% of children's protective antibodies, the research found."

Still fun to watch: "Old Movie Stars Dance to Uptown Funk"

Queen, "It's a Kind of Magic"

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tell them Boris sent you

If you were thinking you couldn't figure out the news from the British Parliament merely because you are American and therefore the British system is just too alien to you, no, it's not that. No one here knows what's going on, either. Conversations almost daily go something like this: "Did you hear Boris did X?" "Yeah, but what's it mean?" "Nobody knows."

"Trump administration official resigns, calls for massive student debt forgiveness: A senior government official appointed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned Thursday, saying the current student loan system is 'fundamentally broken' and calling for billions of dollars in debt to be forgiven. A. Wayne Johnson was hired as the chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, which manages the country's $1.6 trillion outstanding student loan portfolio. He later worked in a strategic role, directing how student loans are serviced for borrowers." He says he's going to run for the Senate as a Republican on a platform of eliminating student debt, using a tax increase to pay for it. As Dan Riffle tweeted, "The thing about overton window politics is you don't just move your own party. The leading edge moves left, and the trailing edge moves left with it."

John Nichols in The Nation, "Bernie Sanders Is As Frustrated as Ever With Corporate Media: The senator explains to The Nation why he is raising concerns not just about the presidential debates but about the media's narrow coverage of national crises. [...] Critiquing media coverage of debates and campaigns, issues and ideas is nothing new for Sanders. He has been calling out 'the corporate media' in much the same language that he now employs for decades. When Robert W. McChesney and I were writing about media and democracy issues in the mid-1990s, Sanders, who was then serving in the House of Representatives, and Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone were among the rare members of Congress who recognized that the conglomeration of media ownership—and the influence of this consolidated media on our politics—could not be ignored. [...] 'Even more important than much of the corporate media's dislike of our campaign is the fact that much of the coverage in this country portrays politics as entertainment, and largely ignores the major crises facing our communities,' wrote Sanders. 'In fact, what I have learned from experience is that, as a general rule of thumb, the more important the issue is to large numbers of working people, the less interesting it is to the corporate media. Sadly, for the corporate media, the real issues facing the American people—poverty, the decline of the middle class, income and wealth inequality, trade, health care, climate change, education etc.—are fairly irrelevant.'"

New campaign ad: "Bernie's Burlington: The Spark That Spread Around the Country"

"Harris Loses Ground in California to Front-Runners Warren and Sanders: Less than five months before Californians vote in the 2020 presidential primary, a new Change Research poll for KQED shows U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris losing ground to the front-runners, Sens. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts and Vermont's Bernie Sanders. The poll, taken after last week's Democratic candidate debate, finds Warren is the top choice of 28% of primary voters, followed by Sanders at 24% and former Vice President Joe Biden at 19%. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is fourth with 9% followed by Harris at 8%."

"Bernie Sanders Vows To Revive Criminal Prosecutions Of CEOs For Unfair Trade Practices: BERNIE SANDERS, IF he were elected president, would revive the criminal provisions of the Sherman Antitrust Act to prosecute CEOs who have illegally monopolized a market, he told The Intercept in an interview. The Sherman Act is the Department of Justice's main tool for enforcing antitrust laws, which are meant to prevent monopolies from dominating an industry, which harms workers, consumers, and other businesses. It has both civil and criminal provisions, though in recent years, prosecutors have relied only on its civil provisions, with the intent of breaking up monopolies and opening markets. Asked if the criminal provisions, which could see a CEO locked up for 10 years if intent to engage in unfair restrictions on trade can be proven, Sanders said, 'Damn right they should be.'"

On Democracy NOW!, "Noam Chomsky: Bernie Sanders is Not a Radical, He Has Mass Support for Positions on Healthcare & Taxes: During an event Tuesday night, Noam Chomsky was asked about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and said he considered him more of a 'New Deal Democrat' than a radical extremist, as some have portrayed him. Chomsky said Sanders' positions on taxes and healthcare are supported by a majority of the American public, and have been for a long time. He added that Sanders has 'mobilized a large number of young people who are saying, 'Look, we're not going to consent anymore.' If that turns into a continuing, organized, mobilized force, that could change the country—maybe not for this election, but in the longer term.'"

"The Real Obama: What the president does in retirement will reveal his true self.. [...] During his two terms in office, Barack Obama's most zealous devotees tended to explain away apparent failures or complacencies by referring to the constraints high office places on anyone who ascends to it. Even some critics on the left may have suspected that the deeds of Obama's administration were out of sync with his natural instincts, that Obama was a man of high conscience weighed down or blunted by Washington's leviathan bureaucracy, or frustrated by the exigencies of an unstable world. Obama's retirement should therefore finally give us meaningful insight into who he really is or, to put it another way, who he has been all along. The albatross of office finally lifted from his neck, America's 44th president is now free to do anything and everything he desires without impediment. He can be the person he has always wanted to be, the person whom he has had to keep hidden away. Who, then, is the real Obama? Well, it turns out the real Obama is quite like the one we knew already. And what he most wants to do is nestle himself cozily within the bosom of the global elite, and earn millions from behind a thinly-veiled philanthropic facade."

"Two Leading Economists Say Medicare for All Would Give Workers 'Biggest Take-Home Pay Raise in a Generation': Medicare for All would give most U.S. workers 'the biggest take-home pay raise in a generation,' two economists from the University of California, Berkeley said Friday, countering one of the main insurance industry talking points against single-payer."

RIP: Former Rep. John Conyers dies at 90: Former Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the longest-serving African American House member in congressional history, died Sunday at age 90. Conyers, a veteran of the Korean War and participant in the Civil Rights movement, was co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and chaired the House Oversight Committee from 1989 to 1995. He also introduced the bill establishing a national holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. He was also the first African American to serve as Dean of the House, or longest continually-serving current member. Conyers was a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation into President Richard Nixon, and was on Nixon's 'enemies list.' During his tenure, he also regularly introduced bills to establish a single-payer health care system and to conduct a study on reparations for the descendants of slaves."

Great interviews on The Majority Report:
Student Debt Cancellation & the Progressive Agenda w/ Marshall Steinbaum - MR Live - 10/1/19
The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy w/ Robert Kuttner - MR Live - 9/23/19
Goliath: The 100 Year War b/w Monopoly Power & Democracy w/ Matthew Stoller - MR live - 10/28/19
Make America Radical Again w/ Harvey J. Kaye - MR Live - 10/29/19

"J.S. Bach the Rebel: The subversive practice of a canonical composer." This guy was a troublemaker and possibly a great big slut.

And now a word from Jason Mraz, "Look For The Good."
(And here's the song.)

Bobby "Boris" Pickett, live on American Bandstand, "The Monster Mash"

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Let me tell you 'bout the headline news

There was another debate. Sanders definitely won it, despite what the talking heads said. They actually praised the shameful performances of Buttigieg and Klobuchar, of all people. Biden trying to claim credit for helping Warren get the CPFB and Warren's failure to thank him graciously for it were described as "petty" on her part rather than shameless credit-hogging on his. Ryan Cooper was not impressed with "Pete Buttigieg's disingenuous attack on Medicare-for-all: In the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night, once again Medicare-for-all was a major focus of discussion. Once again, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren defended the plan against all comers — most especially Pete Buttigieg, who had a number of slick arguments about how universal Medicare would be a disaster. There's just one problem: None of Mayor Pete's arguments are true. [...] Those savings would necessarily be less in more fragmented systems which would preserve private insurance — like the one proposed by Pete Buttigieg. In other words, Mayor Pete's plan would be more expensive than Medicare-for-all. He would "pay for that" by keeping more of the cost burden on the shoulders of individual Americans."

And speaking of Buttigieg's strange position on M4A, it's interesting how his position seems to have radically changed since February.

Bernie's Back Rally with AOC in New York. I liked the part where Michael Moore points out that it's a good idea to have someone who is old enough to remembers what things were like before the neoliberals ate them.

I've always said that Democratic operatives and politicians know how to read the polls and they've known for 50 years that some policies are popular (Social Security, universal health care, living wages higher taxes on the rich), but the neoliberals were against those things so they just didn't mention them like the previous generations of Democrats did. Rahm Emanuel knew he was backing unpopular policies, which is why he opposed Obama using the "bully pulpit" to defend and promote them. But Stephie was the White House spokesperson for a Democratic White House and he didn't know? And he thinks he is insulated because he lives in Manhattan? Oh, honey, your cocoon is much smaller than that.

"Voting machines pose a greater threat to our elections than foreign agents [...] In follow-up testimony, Halderman offered some chilling details: 'While we were in control of these systems, we observed other attack attempts originating from computers in Iran and China. These attackers were attempting to guess the same master password that we did. And since it was only four letters long, they would likely have soon succeeded.' Security experts have long warned that short passwords provide easy targets, but hackers at DEF CON, an annual security convention, recently found U.S. election systems with no passwords at all. How did the security bar get set so low?"

"US Supreme Court overturns ruling in Michigan gerrymandering case: What it means: WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday officially overturned a ruling which had called for nearly three dozen congressional and legislative districts in Michigan to be redrawn because they unfairly helped one political party."

"Utility Expert Claims PG&E Blackouts Are ‘All About Threatening the Judge' in Bankruptcy Case: California utility company Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) is blackmailing the judge overseeing their bankruptcy case by instituting widespread blackouts across California, a utility regulation and power industry company expert claims. 'The PG&E Blackout Con is all about threatening the judge in the PG&E bankruptcy case,' Greg Palast said in a press release. 'The victims have joined with the bondholders to eliminate the equity of the stockholders who deserve nothing. So in desperation, the power company [is] turning off your lights. Hopefully, the judge will not be intimidated.' Palast previously worked for energy regulators in 26 states and eight countries and also authored a United Nations guide on utility regulation and investigator of power companies."

"Private Equity Chases Ambulances: Investment firms have bought up emergency medical service companies, squeezing soaring profits from vulnerable patients. On July 2, 2018, a Boston woman fell into the gap between a subway car and the platform. Passengers rocked the train back and forth, eventually extricating her. Her leg was cut down to the bone. Still, she begged her rescuers not to call an ambulance. 'Do you know how much an ambulance costs?' she sobbed. Because there was no choice but to call an ambulance, though, one eventually arrived. Ambulance services used to be covered by local taxpayers, volunteers, or nonprofit hospitals, part of a suite of services akin to firefighting, which many people took for granted. This remained the status quo for emergency medical services for decades. Then, following the 2008 recession, private equity firms began to buy up ambulance companies. Quality has declined, and prices have shot up. Within ten years, from the recession to the Boston woman falling on the platform, the transformation of ambulance services from community service to luxury good was complete. Under the new paradigm of private equity, poorly maintained ambulance services siphon profit from vulnerable patients."

"How Private Equity Makes You Sicker: Investment firms have created consolidated hospital empires across America, leading to closures, higher prices, and suffering. [...] Hahnemann, a 171-year-old institution in Center City Philadelphia that serves primarily low-income patients of color, closed on September 6 in one of the more egregious cases of private equity wealth extraction. In 2018, Paladin Healthcare, an entity owned by private equity baron Joel Freedman, bought Hahnemann as part of a small hospital portfolio. He made no improvements for 18 months, and then closed the facility with the intention of selling the real estate, which is set in a 'gateway location' for gentrification. 'This seems to have been [Freedman's] plan all along, to buy this place, let it fail, and shut it down.' McHugh said. Local politicians in Philadelphia and even presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke out, savaging Freedman as an avatar of greed. But the condemnations did nothing to stop the closure. Freedman's lucrative scheme could become a trend, where private equity firms find hospitals in urban areas attractive to developers and strip the assets."

"Documents Reveal Hospital Industry Is Leading Fight Against Medicare For All: INVESTOR-OWNED HOSPITALS are leading the fight against the creation of a comprehensive, universal health care system, according to corporate filings reviewed by MapLight and The Intercept. Tenet Healthcare, the nation's third-largest investor-owned operator of hospitals, has donated nearly $630,000 to the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, or PAHCF, a dark-money organization created last year to erode public support for Medicare for All, a government-run plan that would provide health care for all Americans."

"Inside TurboTax's 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free: Using lobbying, the revolving door and 'dark pattern' customer tricks, Intuit fended off the government's attempts to make tax filing free and easy, and created its multi-billion-dollar franchise." [...] But the success of TurboTax rests on a shaky foundation, one that could collapse overnight if the U.S. government did what most wealthy countries did long ago and made tax filing simple and free for most citizens. For more than 20 years, Intuit has waged a sophisticated, sometimes covert war to prevent the government from doing just that, according to internal company and IRS documents and interviews with insiders. The company unleashed a battalion of lobbyists and hired top officials from the agency that regulates it. From the beginning, Intuit recognized that its success depended on two parallel missions: stoking innovation in Silicon Valley while stifling it in Washington. Indeed, employees ruefully joke that the company's motto should actually be 'compromise without integrity.' [...] This year, Intuit was close to realizing a long-held goal: enshrining the Free File program in law, effectively closing the door on the IRS ever creating a free tax filing system. But an outcry followed ProPublica's reporting on the matter and Intuit's treatment of its customers, prompting the provision to be dropped and state and federal investigations into Intuit's practices. Yet even after this setback, the company remained steadfastly confident that its clout in Washington would win the day."

"Zuckerberg: No One Deserves to Be a Billionaire, But It's Useful: Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, the fifth-richest person in the world, was asked by an employee to respond to an assertion by U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that billionaires shouldn't exist. Zuckerberg conceded that they probably shouldn't. 'No one deserves that much money,' Zuckerberg said. 'I think if you do something that's good, you get rewarded, but I do think some of the wealth that can be accumulated is unreasonable.'"

Doctors say people are better after a stent to clear arterial blockage, so news that Bernie had to get one was startling not so much because he'd had a medical incident but because there'd been no sign that he was even slowing down. He already races around the country like a Lamboughini so, what now? Will he still need a plane to get from one city to another, or can he run there? Of course, the media was full of alarm at "proof" that Sanders was in dire health and also of course that the Sanders camp had not used exactly the alarmist language they wanted to use so this was evidence of Sanders' "lack of transparency". (Still no word on why Biden's eye was bleeding and he seemed confused during the last debate, though.) Meanwhile, says The Onion, "Weak, Exhausted Nancy Pelosi Given Saline Drip Following Hours-Long Attempt To Stand Firm In Convictions: WASHINGTON—Collapsing from the extreme exertion required to announce an impeachment inquiry into the president, a weak and exhausted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was reportedly given a saline drip Tuesday night following an hours-long stretch during which she stood firm in her convictions. 'She's obviously not used to following her conscience like this, or acting in accordance with any clear set of principles, so the experience has left her completely drained,' said Pelosi's communication director, Ashley Etienne, confirming that medical personnel administered fluids to the speaker after she went an entire news cycle without ever capitulating, an amount of strain that can be life-threatening for a 17-term lawmaker."

"The ‘Public Option' on Health Care Is a Poison Pill: Some Democratic candidates are pushing it as a free-choice version of Medicare for All. That's good rhetoric but bad policy. [...] That's comforting rhetoric. But the case for a public option rests on faulty economic logic and naive assumptions about how private insurance actually works. Private insurers have proved endlessly creative at gaming the system to avoid fair competition, and they have used their immense lobbying clout to undermine regulators' efforts to rein in their abuses. That's enabled them to siphon hundreds of billions of dollars out of the health care system each year for their own profits and overhead costs while forcing doctors and hospitals to waste billions more on billing-related paperwork."

As you may recall, Wendell Potter was an insurance exec who had an epiphany and has spent the rest of his life essentially blowing the whistle on the insurance industry. Instructive interview with Michael Winship in Common Dreams, "Healthcare Reformer Wendell Potter: The For-Profit 'System Is Unraveling': A business group comes out swinging on behalf of Medicare for All. [...] One of the things that I can remember so vividly toward the end of my career was attending a leadership meeting with our then CEO at Cigna, and someone asked him what kept him up at night. He used a word that you don't use everyday -- disintermediation. It's a word that means essentially disrupting or getting rid of the middleman, the unnecessary middleman. He went on to say that he feared that at some point Americans, and in particular American employers, would begin to question 'the value proposition,' to use business jargon, of the private insurance industry."

"Documents Reveal Hospital Industry Is Leading Fight Against Medicare For All: INVESTOR-OWNED HOSPITALS are leading the fight against the creation of a comprehensive, universal health care system, according to corporate filings reviewed by MapLight and The Intercept. Tenet Healthcare, the nation's third-largest investor-owned operator of hospitals, has donated nearly $630,000 to the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, or PAHCF, a dark-money organization created last year to erode public support for Medicare for All, a government-run plan that would provide health care for all Americans."

"Massachusetts Unions Vote To Vet Presidential Candidates On Medicare For All, Breaking With Labor's Top Brass: MEMBERS OF THE Massachusetts AFL-CIO recently passed a unanimous resolution to endorse a presidential candidate only if that candidate supports Medicare for All, marking a break from the labor federation's national leadership, which has equivocated on the question of whether to support universal health care. The resolution, which was passed at a late September convention in Massachusetts attended by delegates from AFL-CIO constituent unions across the country, comes after months of comments from labor leaders criticizing Medicare for All, despite support for the measure among their members. In August and September, Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (an AFL-CIO member union), said publicly that they do not currently support a single-payer plan would ban private insurance, despite assurances from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who authored the Medicare for All plan, that a single-payer option would not sacrifice hard-won benefits for union members. 'The Massachusetts AFL-CIO urges the national AFL-CIO to endorse a presidential candidate with a demonstrated commitment to the pro-worker agenda that this body has previously endorsed, including but not limited to a $15-dollar federal minimum wage, ending Right to Work nationwide, and a Medicare for All system that recognizes health care as a human right,' reads the resolution, which was put forward by Beth Kontos, the president of the American Federation of Teachers in Massachusetts."

Interviewed in Teen Vogue, "Bernie Sanders Shares His Plan for a Working-Class Revolution." This interviewer is too good for most newspapers, and never mind television news.

"Cancelling Student Debt Reduces The Racial Wealth Gap: Debt cancellation must be on any progressive agenda and we should be suspicious of anyone who calls it 'regressive'.Since Elizabeth Warren proposed sweeping student debt cancellation in April, and Bernie Sanders put forth his own more extensive plan in June, members of the D.C. establishment have invented all sorts of reasons why cancelling student debt is privileged, actually. '[It's] a big gift to a select group of people' opined Sandy Baum of the Urban Institute. Jason Delisle of the American Enterprise Institute said Elizabeth Warren's plan suffers from a 'fairness problem' because it 'favors one class of students over those who never took out student loans.' And last fall, New York Times op-ed columnist David Leonhardt asserted that most student debtors are 'doing just fine.' Student debt cancellation, however, is progressive, not regressive; rather than favoring one elite class of people over another, it would in fact benefit the poorest. Lower-wealth households are likelier to have student debt, and even more so if they're Black. As such, student debt cancellation would also help close racial wealth gaps." Yes, there really are people out there who imagine that rich kids are the have all the student debt.

Marshall Steinbaum, "Is Student Debt Cancellation Regressive? No. [...] The idea that student debt causes borrowers to earn more, by increasing their educational attainment and therefore their earnings, is baked into the idea that cancellation of student debt would be a regressive policy— people with the most debt need the least help, but they'd get the most money from forgiveness." Right, because everybody who goes to college automatically gets a high-paying job.

"Warren Runs False Facebook Ads to Highlight Problem: The ad's own admission of a lie seeks to draw attention to a controversial Facebook policy Warren has spent days criticizing. Under the policy, Facebook exempts ads by politicians from third-party fact-checking — a loophole, Warren says, that allows Zuckerberg to continue taking ‘gobs of money' from Trump's campaign despite Trump's ads telling untruths Joe Biden and his son."

"How the Bush Foundation wasted $45 million and 10 years on an ill-conceived assault on teachers: The foundation famously promised 50% more students in post-secondary education in three states, erasure of so-called 'achievement gaps,' and a fancy new evaluation tool. Ten years later there are actually fewer students in college, 'achievement gaps' are the same or worse, and its hyped $2 million VAM evaluation tool is up in flames - but the foundation is undaunted — proud of its failure" Of course, it wasn't such a failure, since it was an attack on education and teachers' unions. If there's two things right-wing aristos really hate, it's an educated populace and unions.

"AT&T Workers Fight For Their Lives As Company Faces Investor Revolt: Union workers say an investor plan to save the company will only make the problem worse. [...] 'Elliott's proposal represents the archetype ploy of vulture capitalists: boost earnings through headcount reductions, outsourcing, and reduced investment to benefit Elliott Management,' one letter warns. 'The cost-cutting measures that Elliott recommends, such as closing wireless retail stores and increasing outsourcing, would accelerate the loss of family-supporting jobs and the shift to using low-wage and potentially overseas contractors.' Analysts from Morgan Stanley also questioned Elliot's move, however, wondering whether the sale of 'non-core businesses' would help or hurt AT&T's future cash flow. There is also the question of whether Elliot is making these suggestions because it owns AT&T debt and would stand to profit from its own suggestions—Elliot Management, after all, had an Argentine training vessel seized to force the government to clear a debt with the firm."

"After Avoiding Safety Upgrades, PG&E Hired Lobbyists And Public Relations Instead: POWER SHUTOFFS AFFECTING more than 1 million residents, scheduled by PG&E this week throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California, have sparked a massive backlash, with many community members telling reporters that they are shocked that the company has not done more to upgrade its transmission lines. The decision to shut off the electricity services, a precaution over concerns about high winds, raises the question of precisely how PG&E has been spending its rate-payers' money. And the answer isn't pretty: While neglecting safety upgrades and investments in its aging infrastructure, PG&E has instead been lavishly rewarding shareholders and buying political influence."

"PG&E is a Crime Wave, Not a Power Company: Blackout is Blackmail: The PG&E Blackout Con is all about threatening the judge in the PG&E bankruptcy case. The victims have joined with the bondholders to eliminate the equity of the stockholders who deserve nothing. So in desperation, the power company pigs are turning off your lights. Hopefully, the judge will not be intimidated. Leaving hospitals, schools and 1 million homes without power — and that means without water — in California is the endgame of deregulation mania. Jerry Brown, Bill Clinton and other deregulation snake-oil salesmen, and the PG&E greedster bosses, should be imprisoned for the people already burned to death. Where is the California utility commission?"

"Dear Ellen: The Problem With George W. Bush Is Not His Beliefs—It's His War Crimes: Bush may owe Ellen six bucks for nachos. He owes the rest of us a prison sentence at The Hague. [...] Yet Ellen's specific argument in defense of her friendship with the former president is both nonsensical and offensive. No one is suggesting that she shouldn't be pals with a conservative or a Republican. Bush's beliefs are irrelevant here; his actions are what matters. He was one of the most destructive presidents in modern American history; a man who has never been held to account for a long litany of crimes, misdeeds, and abuses of power committed during his two bloodstained terms in office. The reason '43' should be treated as a pariah is not because he is a Republican or a conservative, but because he caused the deaths of thousands of innocent people and tortured hundreds of others."

"Nobody Should Be Friends With George W. Bush: Tens of thousands of people are dead because his administration lied to the American public about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and then, based on that lie, launched a war that's now in its 16th year. After Hurricane Katrina struck and hundreds of people drowned in New Orleans, Bush twiddled his thumbs for days. Rather than fire the officials responsible for the government's life-threateningly lackluster response to the crisis, he praised them, before flying over the scene in Air Force One. He opposed basic human rights for LGBT people, and reproductive rights for women, and did more to empower the American Christian right than any president since Reagan. [...] DeGeneres isn't a role model for civility. Her friendship with Bush simply embodies the grossest form of class solidarity. From a lofty enough vantage point, perhaps Bush's misdeeds really look like minor partisan differences. Perhaps Iraq seems very far away, and so do the poor of New Orleans, when the stage of your show is the closest you get to anyone without power."

"How Democrats Became the Party of Monopoly and Corruption: This wasn't an accident.: [...] Ambitious men now wanted to change the world through finance. Bruce Wasserstein had been a "Nader's Raider" consumer advocate; he now worked at First Boston as one of the most successful mergers and acquisitions bankers of the 1980s. Michael Lewis wrote his best-seller Liar's Poker as a warning of what unfettered greed in finance meant, but instead of learning the lesson, students deluged him with letters asking if he "had any other secrets to share about Wall Street." To them, the book was a "how-to manual." [...] Meanwhile, the family farmer had lots of people who said they were friends at election time—even the glamorous music industry put on a giant "Farm Aid" concert in 1985 to raise money for bankrupt growers. But there was no populist leader like Congressman Wright Patman had been during the New Deal in the Democratic Party anymore. On the contrary, "new" Democrats like Dale Bumpers and Bill Clinton of Arkansas worked to rid their state of the usury caps meant to protect the "plain people" from the banker and financier. And the main contender for the Democratic nomination in 1988, the handsome Gary Hart, with his flowing—and carefully blow-dried—chestnut brown hair, spoke a lot about "sunrise" industries like semiconductors and high-tech, but had little in his vision incorporating the family farm." As we know, Al From and Bill Clinton cooked us.

"Anti-Sex Work Feminists Try to 'Rescue' Strippers With 'Revenge Porn Tactics': Nine strip club performers in the United Kingdom are fighting to stop the publication of an undercover video shot by Not Buying It, a self-described 'feminist' anti-sex work organization. The performers argue that the footage, shot by hired private detectives with the aim of capturing business-ending violations at Spearmint Rhino clubs in London, 'could infringe their human right to respect for private life,' reports the Guardian. Already, this seems to be proving true: Just this week, the dancers lost an appeal for anonymity. A judge ruled that, against the performers' wishes, their names will be revealed in court records. These women were not only non-consensually filmed while doing their jobs, in footage that may soon circulate widely, but will also be outed as sex workers on judicial record. All this because a feminist organization is ostensibly concerned, as the Guardian puts it, 'about the exploitation of women.' Guess it's OK when self-described feminists are the ones doing the exploiting—and for political ends."

Sydney Morning Herald, "Nestle says slavery reporting requirements could cost customers: One of the world's largest food and drink companies has warned proposed legislation requiring big business to report on their efforts to combat modern slavery could hit consumers' hip pockets. Companies operating in Australia with an annual turnover of $100 million or more would be required to annually report on the risks of modern slavery within their business and the actions they've taken to address those risks under the federal government's draft Modern Slavery Bill 2018."

"Banksy launches homewares shop in dispute over trademark" Artist opens Gross Domestic Product for sale of ‘impractical and offensive' merchandise. In the run-up to a potentially record-breaking auction of his work at Sotheby's, to be held on Thursday, the street artist Banksy said he had been forced into taking the unusual step of opening his own homewares store following a legal dispute with a greetings card company. Gross Domestic Product mysteriously opened in Croydon on Tuesday on the site of a former carpet shop. It will trade for the next two weeks — though will never open its doors, with all sales being made online. Banksy said the motivation behind the venture was 'possibly the least poetic reason to ever make some art' — a trademark dispute."

"Fearful of Lula's Exoneration, His Once-Fanatical Prosecutors Request His Release From Prison. But Lula Refuses. Lula's accusers are desperately trying to get him out of prison, while he insists on staying there until he's fully exonerated. THE SAME BRAZILIAN PROSECUTORS who for years exhibited a single-minded fixation on jailing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva are now seeking his release from prison, requesting that a court allow him to serve the remainder of his 11-year sentence for corruption at home. But Lula — who believes the request is motivated by fear that prosecutorial and judicial improprieties in his case, which were revealed by The Intercept, will lead to the nullification of his conviction — is opposing these efforts, insisting that he will not leave prison until he receives full exoneration."

"Pennsylvania Attorney General'S Staff Pushed Philadelphia Inquirer To Be More Critical Of Larry Krasner: Emails: OFFICIALS WORKING ON behalf of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro pitched the Philadelphia Inquirer to be more critical of local District Attorney Larry Krasner, according to emails revealed through an open records request. Several stories published by the Inquirer after Shapiro's office reached out to the paper, drawing on some of the same arguments that Shapiro's office had made to the paper, were heavily criticized by criminal justice experts after its publication for painting a misleading picture. The emails shed light on an ongoing power struggle between two of the area's top law enforcement officials, pitting the more moderate Shapiro against Krasner, a leading figure in the movement to roll back mass incarceration by taking power at the district attorney level. On June 18, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Krasner's office had actually increased the number of gun cases approved for prosecution despite criticism that his approach to criminal justice reform was too lenient. The coverage appeared to rankle officials at Shapiro's office, who swapped emails criticizing the story and indicating that they subsequently facilitated an off-record phone call with the paper, in which they suggested that future coverage should show that Krasner's policies were actually linked to increased crime, shootings, and homicides in the city."

"Ten Recent Democratic Primary Polls Good for Bernie Sanders Ignored by the Conventional Wisdom." This can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, because many voters will support the candidate they perceive as most likely to beat the Republican, so the more the media talks Sanders' electoral potential down, the less likely such voters are to give him their support.

Norman Solomon, "MoveOn's Phony New Campaign for ‘Protecting Whistleblowers': All of a sudden, MoveOn wants to help 'national security' whistleblowers. Well, some of them, anyway. After many years of carefully refusing to launch a single campaign in support of brave whistleblowers who faced vicious prosecution during the Obama administration — including Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, NSA whistleblowers Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden, and CIA whistleblowers John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling — MoveOn.org has just cherrypicked a whistleblowing hero it can support." I forget who said it, but it was suggested that the real tragedy for Manning and Snowden was that they blew the whistle during a Democratic administration.

Robert Kuttner, "The Coming Primary Challenges to Corporate Democrats: Is the threat to senior House incumbents a risky distraction or a long overdue exercise of grassroots progressive power—or both? Representative Richard Neal, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is the poster child for everything that's wrong about corporate Democrats. His newly announced primary challenger in Massachusetts's First Congressional District, Alex Morse, epitomizes the grassroots dynamism that is making over the party. Beyond this primary contest is a much larger story involving the unsavory role of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the creative disruption of a growing wave of challengers to other corporate Democratic incumbents."

"Fighting The Dog Whistle, Sam Seder interviews Ian Haney Lopez about how to break through the use of racism as a weapon against all of us.

"The rise of the entitled millennial politician [...] Unlike Mayor Pete, Kennedy's politics are not terrible, but his only real argument for taking Markey's seat is "my name is Kennedy." Indeed his attempted pole-vault could easily turn out to be a tactical blunder. It looks increasingly likely that Elizabeth Warren (the other Massachusetts senator) will be on the 2020 Democratic ticket in some fashion, in which case she will probably resign her seat before November so the special election to replace her can take place alongside the presidential one (so the Republican governor Massachusetts "liberals" are inexplicably fond of installing won't get to pick a replacement). In that case Kennedy would be all but guaranteed to walk into the open seat, and he wouldn't have to stomp on a loyal progressive in the process." Not that Kennedy's politics are any good, but at least they're not quite as odious as Mayo Pete's.

Ryan Grim talked to Bernie and AOC, and they talked about lots of stuff, but the headline is, "Sanders: I Wouldn't Make Obama's Mistake Of Shutting Down Grassroots Pressure On Washington: AFTER WINNING THE election in 2008, Barack Obama, before being sworn in as president, effectively shuttered the unprecedented grassroots army his campaign had mobilized. The decision, which took his 10 million-plus donors and volunteers off the political battlefield, is regularly cited today as having hampered his first-term agenda. Bernie Sanders, when asked on Saturday afternoon whether he would make a different decision if he were to win the presidency in 2020, said, 'Yes, I absolutely would.' Sanders, along with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., sat down for an interview with The Intercept ahead of his rally in Queens, New York — his first since having a heart attack in Las Vegas earlier this month — and spoke in granular detail about what political revolution means to him. While he was eager to expound on the ability of an organized, working-class movement to overpower structural obstacles, he stopped short of endorsing new congressional primary challengers. However, he did say that he plans to become more involved in such challenges in the near future. "

QUIT: "Why Shep Smith finally walked out of Fox News for good: New York (CNN Buiness)Last month Shep Smith decided that he had simply had enough. With President Trump actively distorting the truth and many of his own colleagues helping him do it, the Fox News star prided himself on anchoring a newscast that countered the network's pro-Trump opinion shows. he way Smith saw it, he was making sure that accurate information was getting on Fox's air. 'I wonder,' he told a Time magazine reporter last year, 'if I stopped delivering the facts, what would go in its place in this place that is most watched, most listened, most viewed, most trusted? I don't know.' But he had had enough. In September, according to a well-placed source, he went to Fox News management and asked to be let out of his long-term contract. Tensions with the opinion shows were the breaking point. Executives at the network leaned on him to stay, but to no avail. On Friday afternoon he announced his departure on the air, then exited the building immediately, clearly emotional about saying goodbye to his television home of twenty years.".

RIP: "Ginger Baker: Legendary Cream drummer dies aged 80:" There's nothing I can add to accolades for Cream and its members, but the truth is, most of us thought Ginger Baker could not possibly last this long.

RIP: "Fiery blues guitarist Beverly Watkins dies at 80: Beverly Watkins, a rare woman among blues guitarists, who cleaned homes when music did not pay her enough and did not record her first solo album until she was 60, died Oct. 1 in Atlanta. She was 80. Her son, Stanley Watkins, said the cause was a heart attack that had been preceded by a stroke. Ms. Watkins called her music lowdown, stomping blues and complemented it with crowd-pleasing antics into her 70s — playing her electric guitar on her back and behind her head, sliding across the stage. When she sang, it was often with a growl. 'She'd been doing all that since the late 1950s, but she wasn't a star because she'd been a sideman most of her career, playing with bands that didn't have hits,' Brett J. Bonner, editor of Living Blues magazine, said by phone. 'She was a fabulous guitar player.'" Here she is performing last year.

RIP: "Rep. Elijah Cummings, powerful Democratic chairman and Trump target, dies at 68: The Maryland congressman's death was due to complications from longstanding health challenges, his office said in a statement. Cummings had represented Maryland's 7th Congressional District for 23 years before ascending in January to his perch atop the Oversight panel, from which he oversaw several investigations into the administration. Along with House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), he was one of three committee leaders guiding House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

REST IN PUZZLEMENT: Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies At 75." My opinion of this woman was cemented in stone the day she said in front of God and everyone that "we" had no idea what the protesters were protesting about as if it were their fault and not a failure of a media that did not seem interested in asking, let alone reporting, on what they were actually on about. "If only," I thought, "there were some kind of job where you would go out and ask people what they were doing and tell the public. You could even have them come on TV and talk about it. I wonder what that would be called."

Orf makes videos that would make great ads:
Bernie Sanders Gets Stuff Done | 5 Amazing Victories
Rising Up | Bernie 2020

Krystal Ball is getting to be the smartest thing in what on most days has been establishment media. "Why the establishment smears people as Russian plants"

"Federal Job Guarantee: History, Research, Proposals, Commentary: Conversations about the nation's budget should be about spending priorities and the resources necessary to accomplish them: the people, materials and time. And those conversations should include the benefits of those spending priorities to the well-being of we, the People."

Jim Hightower, "Why we must ignore the cries of doom from corporate boardrooms — and start fixing our unequal country: When Jesse Jackson ran a strong populist campaign for president in 1988, advocating bold new policies and programs to address inequality, establishment skeptics scoffed, 'Where ya gonna get the money?' Jackson answered directly: 'Get it from where it went.' He meant from corporations and the rich, which had been rigging the economic system and government policies to shift income and wealth from the workaday majority to themselves. Thirty years later, that shift has become an avalanche, with income and wealth inequality reaching the plutocratic excesses of the Gilded Age. Just three men — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — now own more of the nation's wealth than the 165 million Americans who make up the bottom half of our population."

Hadas Thier, "Why the Differences Between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders Matter: Denying that there are differences between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and that those differences matter, is absurd. One candidate has a suite of progressive policy proposals; the other has stronger versions of those policies plus a commitment to building a movement to win them. [...] It should be clear from reading Jacobin's coverage of Elizabeth Warren that she is not a corporate shill, nor an enemy of working people. She's an actual progressive Democrat, proposing real reforms. But she is a progressive Democrat at a time when the bar has been raised (finally, thankfully) beyond progressivism."

Former NC Rep. Brad Miller, "The 40-Year War: William Barr's long struggle against congressional oversight 'I have Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,' Donald Trump said in a recent speech to a far-right-wing campus organization. Trump is not a constitutional scholar, and he would not care at all about 'constitutional architecture' were he not president. So where did this sweeping claim to executive power come from? Trump's claims are largely motivated by self-interest, as all of Trump's motivations begin with "self,' rather than any doctrinal belief. Congressional investigations may expose his venality and perhaps criminality, so Trump will fight them tooth and nail. But for Trump's attorney general, William Barr, and others on the right, the effort to take power for the president from the courts and especially from Congress has been a 40-year project. Barr and his comrades may find statements like 'I have Article II' crass and narcissistic, but in their view Trump is generally correct. Executive power maximalists argue that the 'original intent' of the framers of the Constitution was to create a strong president with concentrated power and a largely advisory Congress." I can remember back in the days of George W. Bush's occupancy of the White House, we sometimes used to refer to his administration as "the Regency". That wasn't far off the mark from the way Bush talked, There seem to be a number of Republicans who think that's fine. Sam Seder interviewed Brad about this on The Majority Report.

"Joe Biden Is Right About The New York Times [...] 'In recent years the times has become a leading perpetrator of one of the most corrosive trends in modern journalism—'savvy' reporting that prizes the identification of disingenuous political tactics at the expense of focusing on the facts that voters need to know. This unfortunate tendency was visible in the days the scandal that has led Trump to the brink of impeachment broke, as the Times rehashed this hateful and disproven conspiracy theory as though it hadn't been put to bed. Two of our staff members, when discussing the Trump news with a pair of Times reporters, were stopped as they tried to outline how disproven the smear Trump wanted to pressure Ukraine into fomenting was, being told that this piece wasn't about the facts of what happened and instead had to do with trying to forecast how it might play in the Democratic primary.'"

"Why Barack Obama was particularly unsuited to live up to the ideals of the Nobel Peace Prize: In the primaries, Obama pledged to filibuster any bill that promised amnesty to the telecommunications companies for warrantless data collection on the American public. He repeatedly promised to close Guantanamo. He called it a stain on the honor of the United States. I think more largely, he was seen as the anti-war candidate. He was going to withdraw the United States from these overextended, violent commitments abroad. And, of course, he also promised to be the one who would help solve the financial collapse and its effects in a way that was not going to favor the big banks, the large money interests. On all of those commitments, to one degree or another, he reneged. He never closed Guantanamo. The numbers of prisoners were decreased. But there are still scores of them, who have no prospect of release, and they're now talking about creating an old age unit, so people captured at the age of 30 will die in Guantanamo."

"I ran a business. I know a CEO doesn't need to make 1,000 times more than his workers.: I've been an entrepreneur about as long as any American still alive. I started my fishing tackle business in 1937, as a high school sophomore. A few decades later, in a 1964 White House ceremony, President Lyndon Johnson named me the first Small Businessman of the Year. At the ripe old age of 98, I've now been around long enough to watch the American business landscape evolve over the grand sweep of time — and I haven't liked that evolution. Top executives today can pocket more for a morning's labor than their employees earn in an entire year. Last year, the Institute for Policy Studies reports, 50 major U.S. corporations paid their chief executives more than 1,000 times what they paid their typical workers. I never paid myself more than four or five times what my employees were making. I lived like my friends in my hometown of Spirit Lake, Iowa. I drove an older car, served as a scoutmaster and resided in a modest home. I had a good life. The younger me would have found today's corporate world — where share prices mean everything and workers and communities mean just about nothing — unimaginable. "

"'A Feminism Aimed at Liberating All Women Must Be Anti-Capitalist': An Interview With Nancy Fraser: Women workers, people of color, and white men in the Rust Belt may not see each other as natural allies. But as Nancy Fraser tells Jacobin, there is a path to uniting the social majority — so long as we recognize our common enemy in capitalism."

Further to the question of where private property comes from, Terri Windling in 2015 on, "Enclosure of the Commons: the borders that keep us out: Historically, the Commons straddles the border between private space and unmanaged wilderness."

A neat little .gif: "Land doesn't vote; people do."

"Two Mathematicians Just Solved a Decades-Old Math Riddle — and Possibly the Meaning of Life." You'll never guess what the answer is.

"The Roman Empire's Roads In Transit Map Form. They all lead to the same place.

The King's Man Official Trailer 2

Beverly "Guitar" Watkins, "Red Mama Blues"

Oh, man, I really let this one get away from me.