Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Bring it on home

The Electoral Vote map

And David Dayen talked to Sam Seder about what Biden could to right from the start of his presidency — if he wanted to.

"Why Was Corbyn Suspended From The Labour Party? w/ Daniel Finn" It's amazing how much misinformation there has been about the suspension and the report. The latter pretty much vindicated Jeremy Corbyn and proved that the people who pretended to care about antisemitism did not. The narrative about Corbyn hurt the Labour and made worries about antisemitism sound like some dangerous Chicken Little gaming.

"A Blow for Labor Rights in California: Gig workers were barely scraping by even before companies like Uber spent $200 million on the successful campaign to pass Proposition 22. Now, two paths lie ahead: one paved by corporate cash, and the other blazed by the workers behind the wheel. [...] After Prop 22 won with 58 percent of the vote, Moore said, 'we will absolutely fight it. We will fight it in the courts. We will fight it with new laws. We will fight it the way drivers have been most successful, which is with shoe leather and picket signs. We will continue to have a ground fight.'"

"Bernie Sanders takes aim at 'corporate Democrats' blaming progressives for House losses [...] As Sanders notes, every one of the 112 co-sponsors of Medicare-for-all won their elections, and only one of the 98 co-sponsors of the Green New Deal lost their election. In contrast, the vast majority those who lost their seats did not support those progressive policies. "It turns out that supporting universal health care during a pandemic and enacting major investments in renewable energy as we face the existential threat to our planet from climate change is not just good public policy," Sanders remarked. "It also is good politics." Other progressive policies likewise won big in individual states, namely Florida's vote to increase the minimum wage and measures to legalize marijuana across several states. Sanders' rebuttal comes after House Democrats were projected to lose at least six seats from the House and so far failed to flip the Senate fully in their favor. Some moderate Democrats who narrowly retained their seats blamed "socialism" for the losses; Progressives in turn said the Democratic party needs to organize better to regain a stronger majority."

And here's Bernie's op-ed, in which he also lists some of the progressive referenda that passed, even in states that went for Trump.

But I really wish people would say it plain: The Democrats did not campaign for Democrats. They campaigned arm-in-arm with Republicans against Trump and Trump alone. Pelosi and Biden both kept saying things like, "We need Republicans," and "We need a strong Republican Party." They gave voters no reason to vote for Democrats. They kept pretending that Trump was an aberration when he was not, but rather just what the Republicans wanted. As Grover Norquist said, "We don't want a president who can think, we already know what the top 1% want him to do. He only needs to be capable if signing with a pen!"

It looks like the worst elements in the security state and the corporate shills will design the Biden administration: "In 2018, Olsen went to work for Uber as the corporation's chief security officer. Uber joined with other corporations & spent hundreds of millions of dollars to pass Prop 22 in California. It ensures drivers and couriers are exempt from minimum wage. [...] Olsen has contended what NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed had little to do with privacy and civil liberties, a talking point former officials have repeated to discredit him. [...] MacBride oversaw grand jury investigation against WikiLeaks until he resigned from his position as US Attorney in August 2013. He prosecuted CIA whistleblowers @JohnKiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling (@S_UnwantedSpy). [...] MacBride defended a subpoena issued against NYT reporter James Risen in Sterling case. He argued government should be able to compel a journalist to reveal their confidential sources by threatening them with jail if they don't cooperate. [...] Lederman helped draft 2010 "drone memo" that set out "legal basis" for executing American terrorism suspect without charge or trial—Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. [...] Stroul was part of the bipartisan Syria Study Group that Congress appointed, which plotted out the next phase of US regime change policy in Syria. [...] Chris Lu was deputy secretary of labor for President Barack Obama and cheerleader for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He was vice chair of 2020 Democratic National Convention Rules Committee. [...] As US Attorney in Michigan, McQuade's office was implicated in racial profiling and intrusive surveillance against Arab, Muslim, & Sikh communities. She faced blowback after it became known Dearborn was labeled by security agency as "terrorist hotspot." [...] As US Attorney, McQuade was in charge of prosecuting officials in Michigan, including then-Gov. Rick Snyder, who poisoned the water in Flint. But no one was charged before she resigned after Trump took office."

"Biden state media appointee advocated using propaganda against Americans and 'rethinking' First Amendment [...] The Biden transition team's selection of a censorial infowarrior for its top state media position comes as a concerted suppression campaign takes hold on social media. The wave of online censorship has been overseen by US intelligence agencies, the State Department, and Silicon Valley corporations that maintain multibillion-dollar contracts with the US government. As the state-backed censorship dragnet expands, independent media outlets increasingly find themselves in the crosshairs. In the past year, social media platforms have purged hundreds of accounts of foreign news publications, journalists, activists, and government officials from countries targeted by the United States for regime change. Stengel's appointment appears to be the clearest signal of a coming escalation by the Biden administration of the censorship and suppression of online media that is seen to threaten US imperatives abroad."

On the other hand, Sam Seder reckons Biden's picked the best Chief of Staff to deal with Covid., and Digby agrees — great analysis of the party's failures in this interview, too.

Samuel Alito is not a Constitutional scholar. "Let's Break Down Every Utterly Bonkers Thing Justice Alito Said Last Night [...] How have we let people claim the mantle 'Originalists' when they have no conception of history before the Reagan administration?"

"New documents show Mueller investigation unable to concoct charges against Assange and WikiLeaks: Previously redacted portions of the Mueller report into supposed Russian interference in the US, released this week, have shown that despite every effort, the Justice Department was unable to concoct evidence of any criminal wrongdoing on the part of WikiLeaks or Julian Assange in relation to their 2016 publications exposing the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton. [...] The contents of the new material shows why the Justice Department was so intent on keeping it hidden. The documents disclose that despite a two-year investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller came up with nothing to prove the collusion between WikiLeaks, the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence that had been trumpeted by the intelligence agencies, the Democratic Party and the corporate media. This is in line with the character of the report as a whole, which was unable to substantiate any of the 'Russian interference' in the 2016 US election that the Mueller investigation had been tasked with identifying. The new pages reveal that one of the focuses of the Mueller investigation was laying the groundwork for criminal charges against Assange and WikiLeaks under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This was premised on the assertion that the internal Democratic National Committee (DNC) communications and emails of Clinton's campaign chair, John Podesta, were hacked by the GRU Russian military intelligence agency before being published by WikiLeaks. In May, it was revealed that CrowdStrike, a cyber security company handpicked by the Democratic Party to examine the DNC servers had been unable to find evidence that documents had ever been exfiltrated from them. In other words, there may not have been any successful hack, Russian or otherwise. This aligned with Assange's repeated insistence that Russia was not the source of the material. It lent weight to the claims of WikiLeaks collaborator and former British diplomat, Craig Murray, who has stated that he has personal knowledge of the source of the DNC documents, and that they were provided by 'disgruntled insiders.' Significantly, even though it is based on the discredited Russiagate framework, the newly-released material from the report concluded that there was no basis for laying conspiracy charges against Assange. 'The most fundamental hurdles' to such a prosecution, it stated, 'are factual ones.' There was not 'admissible evidence' to establish a conspiracy involving Russian intelligence, WikiLeaks and Trump campaign insider Roger Stone. To justify the fact that all of the resources of the American state were insufficient to manufacture evidence of the theory that it had promoted for years, the Mueller report pathetically claimed that one of the problems was that WikiLeaks' communications with the GRU were encrypted. 'The lack of visibility into the contents of these communications would hinder the Office's ability to prove that WikiLeaks was aware of and intended to join the criminal venture comprised of the GRU hackers,' the report stated. This is truly clutching at straws and desperately attempting to save face. Mueller was left to claim that the only possible evidence of a conspiracy was contained in encrypted messages that he and the intelligence agencies had presumably never seen!"

Deutsche Bank, the bank of choice for the world's criminals, is irritated that it's having to pay rent on those long leases for buildings that do not currently house their employees, and have come up with a great idea to deflect the eyes of people who think banks should pay their taxes. "Staff who work from home after pandemic 'should pay more tax': Employees who continue working from home after the pandemic should be taxed for the privilege, with the proceeds used to help lower-paid workers, according to a new report. Economists at Deutsche Bank have proposed making staff pay a 5% tax for each day they choose to work remotely. They argue it would leave the average employee no worse off because of savings made by not commuting and not buying lunch on-the-go and fewer purchases of work clothing. Alternatively, the report suggests the tax could be paid by employers who do not provide their workforce with a permanent desk."

"Unelected Officials Override The President To Continue Wars (But Only Kooks Believe In The Deep State) [...] Some mass media propagandists find it hilarious that the US war machine used deceit to thwart the president's attempts to withdraw from its illegal occupation of Syria"

"Centrists" attacked the left, but it isn't the left that's the problem. "'We're not some demonic cult': Democrats fume over faulty messaging: House Democrats have the majority and are ripping each other to shreds. Senate Democrats fell short for the third cycle in a row, but are only grousing about getting out-messaged by Republicans. The two caucuses are going about their soul-searching a little differently. [...] Jones, the sole incumbent Democratic senator to lose, said both party campaign arms need to change their mission. He said Stacey Abrams' work in Georgia should be a model for the party's work in individual states, while he contends the 'DSCC and DCCC spend too much time investing in candidates and not the electorate. They don't invest in House districts, they don't invest in states.'"

"Ocasio-Cortez Dismisses Centrist Attempts to Blame Left for Dem Losses, Calling on Party to Listen to Progressive Demands: 'The whole 'progressivism is bad' argument just doesn't have any compelling evidence that I've seen.' Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not directly address comments made in Thursday evening's House Democratic caucus call on Friday, but in an extensive Twitter thread the congresswoman discussed multiple reasons for rejecting centrist Democrats' claims that the embrace of progressive policies led to lackluster election results for the party. Support for broadly popular policies like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All and relentless canvassing by progressives in the House—even when Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's campaign declined to campaign in key states—were among the factors which helped unapologetic progressives win elections this year, the New York Democrat tweeted, while centrist candidates lost or came close to losing. [...] Clyburn warned that in congressional elections, if 'we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we're not going to win.' In fact, Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, the 2020 election results show that the opposite is true in many cases. [...] Progressive victors in Tuesday's elections include Ocasio-Cortez herself; Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who retained their House seats as well as helping secure Biden's victories in their key states; Rep.-elect Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and Rep.-elect Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), both of whom unseated powerful, longtime corporate-backed congressmen. Democrats who lost include Reps. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa)—all of whom oppose Medicare for All and reducing police funding. [...] 'Deep canvassing,' in which candidates and campaigners have in-depth conversations with voters in order to learn about the issues that matter to them, has been shown to be 102 times more effective at garnering votes than typical short interactions during door-knocking operations. Pandering to voters whose top concerns are 'law and order' or avoiding a 'socialist' takeover of the government through the expansion of Medicare to all Americans, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, will only serve to alienate communities of color who responded positively to campaigning by progressives this year."

"Tlaib lashes out at centrist Dems over election debacle: 'I can't be silent': Rashida Tlaib isn't apologizing for wanting to yank money away from bad police departments. She has no second thoughts about her embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement, or for wanting to aggressively fight climate change. House Democrats lost seats instead of expanding their majority, underperforming expectations across the board. And moderates have pounced on liberals like Tlaib, the Michigan congresswoman, accusing them of handing conservatives a set of slogans and policies to scare voters. But Tlaib and other House progressives don't want to hear it. It all amounts to unfair blame-casting designed to shame them into staying quiet, they say, right as Democrats gain control of the White House.

"They Are Trying To Silence AOC, Because Money Never Sleeps: We're all exhausted, but in the 24 hours since the election was called, corporate interests and their allies have already started their war on progressives. There is no rest for the weary. We're all exhausted, and understandably so. It's been an unspeakably horrific year. The election psychologically drained everyone, and we all just want a break. But here's the thing: Money never sleeps, and money is already hard at work trying to make sure nothing fundamentally changes in politics — and if nothing fundamentally changes in Washington, then everything is going to change for the worse in the real world. Since the election was called for Joe Biden, there has been a multitiered effort to blame disappointing election results on progressives, even as exit polls and voting results show that progressive organizing rescued Democrats from the jaws of a presidential defeat. While the country was celebrating the defeat of Trump, here's what the voices of Big Money have been doing since the election..."

RIP: "Baron Wolman, Rolling Stone Photographer Who Captured Rock Gods, Dead at 83, of ALS. "During his three years at Rolling Stone, between 1967 and 1970, Wolman caught the rise of rock & roll as few had during the time: an open-mouthed Jimi Hendrix attacking his guitar at the Fillmore West (a 'money shot,' Wolman called it), Janis Joplin relaxing at home with her cat, Smokey Robinson adjusting the do-rag he wore before shows to keep his hair in place, Grace Slick ironically wearing a Girl Scout uniform, Frank Zappa sitting atop a tractor at a construction site, and Jerry Garcia flashing his missing, chopped-off finger for the first time publicly."

"Today and Forever, Rahm Emanuel Is Garbage: By fighting him tooth and nail for seven years, Chicagoans have established that Rahm Emanuel is garbage. No matter what he does next, that stench isn't coming off. Rahm Emanuel will be remembered as a Chicago mayor who adored rich people and hated everyone else. He has all but handed the keys to the city to corporate heads, tech start-ups, and wealthy developers. He has relentlessly attacked public education and the public sector as a whole. He covered up a brutal police killing of a black teenager. Even mainstream retrospectives on his tenure — written in the wake of his surprise announcement yesterday that he will not be seeking a third term as mayor — tried to sound fair and balanced yet couldn't help but coming off as a long list of giveaways to the wealthy while the city's poor and working class suffer or are pushed out." Oh, and when Rahm tells unemployed people to learn code, what he's really saying is, "We want to flood this sector with lots of unemployed coders to drive wages down. And when he says, "Those jobs aren't coming back," he means, "We've decided those jobs aren't coming back." Just like they decided to get rid of millions of jobs back in the '80s and '90s, and they keep right on deciding not to bring them back.

How Bolivian Socialism Defeated The Coup

"America Can Have A Boom Economy Six Months From Whenever It Gets Serious [...] Further, if you can get it going, it will soon have massive support because it will create a truly good economy for the first time in 50 odd years. People will have better things to do than squeal about red state/blue state bullshit, the era will be like the post-war period: people are making money and kids and politics is, in fact, largely consensus driven because everyone sees that what is being done works."

This is utterly confounding. Why is Tucker Carlson doing this populist stuff, unless it's to try to tie the right-wing to genuine populism? I could imagine any of a dozen or three progressive writer-activists doing something like "Tucker Investigates: What is destroying rural America?".

"Non-Competes and Other Contracts of Dispossession: Employers have used non-compete clauses to deprive tens of millions of workers of the freedom to change jobs or start their own businesses. In occupations ranging from home health aide to journalist and sandwich shop worker, employers have used this legal power to their great benefit. Non-compete clauses reduce worker mobility, help employers keep wages and wage growth down, deter small business formation, entrench potentially abusive, discriminatory, or hostile work environments, and fortify market power to the detriment of workers, rivals, consumers, and broader society."

On Useful Idiots, Matt and Glenn both said some smart and true things about Russiagate that people really need to think about.

How Capitalism Really Works (with Anwar Shaikh)

Eugene Debs Was an American Hero.

The Unlikely Coalition That Made the New Deal (with Thomas Ferguson)

Comic strip, "The Spirit of Compromise" by Matt Bors.

Sam Cook, "Bring It On Home To Me"

Thursday, November 12, 2020

You don't represent me so just try to prevent me

You might as well see my avatar's Halloween costume, appropriate all year long.

"San Francisco voters approve first-in-the-nation CEO tax that targets income gap: Wealthy companies whose chief executive is paid 100 times more than their median worker will pay a higher gross receipts tax. [...] The tax will levy an extra 0.1% to 0.6% on gross receipts made in San Francisco for companies whose highest paid executive makes 100 times or more its median worker's salary. The amount levied will increase in 0.1% brackets proportionally to the pay ratio. A company whose highest paid employee earns 200 times more than its median San Francisco worker will get a extra 0.2% charge on its gross receipts. For companies whose CEO makes 300 more, the charge jumps to 0.3% and son on. The tax caps at 0.6%, and only companies with gross receipts over $1.17 million will be targeted. Under the measure, gross receipts and CEO compensation will include money made from stock options, bonuses, tax refunds, and property, a caveat seen by many as a way to target the tech sector where CEOs are often compensated in non-salaried bonuses. Tech is expected to account for 17% of the tax revenues, according to an estimate by the city's chief economist, while retail and financial firms are expected to account for 23% of the revenues each."

"What If Democrats' Message Just Doesn't Matter?: Florida voters backed a $15 minimum wage. So did Joe Biden—and he lost the state. There are important lessons here for the party. [...] Huge percentages of voters support government-sponsored health care, more state intervention in the economy, and more government support for clean energy. We have, of course, just learned some important lessons about the limitations of public opinion polling, but these majorities are too large to be completely dismissed as mere polling errors. That Democrats cannot translate robust support for their central policies into consistent electoral victories suggests that something is amiss in the democratic accountability feedback loop. It is of course true that on many of these issues, like health care, the Democratic Party firmly rejected the left's popular proposals in favor of a confusing and diluted alternative. That is what Democrats nearly always do. Perhaps that is what the electorate punishes them for. But that same electorate also regularly elects Republicans, who are very vocally opposed to all of those fine, popular ideas." Hmm, Biden didn't exactly campaign on $15 or much of anything else.

"Trump should have lost in a landslide. The fact that he didn't speaks volumes: Blaming the voters simply will not do. This is a failure of leadership. Those responsible for it need to be held accountable. Already, there is talk that they need to embrace tax cuts and run away from the 'socialism' label. In other words, double down on what they were already doing. Those who think that is the lesson may simply be 'unteachable' — a word George Orwell used to describe the old British cavalry generals who still insisted on using horses long after the invention of automatic weapons, and could not be persuaded that a horse is not useful against a machine gun. Today's Democratic leaders are like those generals. If 2016 couldn't persuade them that they were wrong, this won't either. Nothing ever will."

When lackluster Dems complained that Republicans were calling them names and it made getting re-elected hard, AOC pushed back. "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ends truce by warning 'incompetent' Democratic party: New York representative denies Movement for Black Lives and Green New Deal cost seats. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has criticised the Democratic party for incompetence in a no-holds-barred, post-election interview with the New York Times, warning that if the Biden administration does not put progressives in top positions, the party would lose big in the 2022 midterm elections. Signaling that the internal moratorium in place while the Democrats worked to defeat Donald Trump was over, the leftwing New York representative sharply rejected the notion advanced by some Democrats that progressive messaging around the Movement for Black Lives and the Green New Deal led to the party's loss of congressional seats in last week's election. The real problem, said Ocasio-Cortez, was that the party lacked 'core competencies' to run campaigns." It's not really accurate to say she "ends truce", though; the attacks started with the "centrists" who made a big point of attacking progressives immediately after the election was called.

"The Green New Deal Didn't Sink Democrats [...] The fight over the role of progressives in sinking (or not) Democrats' chance at a robust unified government began late last week in a call leaked to Politico. On that call, Rep. Abigail Spanberger claimed she almost lost her race in Virginia because she was accused of wanting to defund the police (she does not). House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn reportedly said, 'we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we're not going to win.' That's led some progressives to push back; notably, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who pointed out every co-sponsor of Medicare for All won reelection and that Democrats are still running like its 2000 instead of 2020. Earther looked at the Green New Deal, another bête noire of conservatives and Fox News, to see if it sank Democrats chances. The bill has 101 co-sponsors in the House and 14 co-sponsors in the Senate. Of the 93 House co-sponsors who ran for a seat in Congress's lower chamber in 2020, only one lost reelection."

"Bolivia's President-Elect Luis Arce Attacked With Dynamite: On Thursday night, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) spokesperson Sebastian Michel denounced that Bolivia's President-elect Luis Arce was attacked with dynamite while he was in a meeting at the party's headquarters in La Paz city. No injuries were reported. The authorities of the coup-born regime led by Jeanine Añez have not commented on what happened so far.

"ICE Medical Misconduct Witness Slated For Deportation Is A U.S. CITIZEN, Says Lawyer: In recent weeks, after Alma Bowman became a key witness for medical misconduct at an immigration jail, ICE moved to deport her. [...] Though she was ordered removed from the country on June 4, ICE only took action to begin her deportation in the last few weeks — after the public became aware of allegations of medical misconduct at Irwin. Following the initiation of deportation proceedings against her, a lawyer finally began reviewing documents for Bowman's immigration case and realized that she had documentation indicating her U.S. citizenship. On Monday morning, ICE denied a stay of removal for Bowman, potentially setting up her deportation. On Monday afternoon, Bowman's deportation was halted, for now, and she was to be returned from Arizona, where she was being prepared for her departure, to a detention center in Georgia, her advocates told The Intercept."

"Venezuela coup plotters met at Trump Doral. Central figure says U.S. officials knew of plan.: In a challenge to denials of government involvement, the ex-U.S. special operations sergeant whose security firm took part in a botched Venezuelan coup last May said two Trump administration officials met with and expressed support to planners of Operation Gideon, a Bay of Pigs-type operation that tried to oust Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro. It's a story of bungling, bravado and cloak-and-dagger plotting, with plans shared in clandestine meetings in the back of limousines while rolling through Miami, in restaurants and even at dusk on the 12th fairway of the Red Course of Trump Doral, the Miami Herald/McClatchy has learned."

TMBS "162 - Chile Victory, Rural Healthcare, & a Labor GND ft. Meagan Day, Ryan Pollock, & Eric Osgoode: From Jacobin's original series Weekends, Nando Vila talks about the Bolivian elections and MAS's victory and Richard Wolff weighs in on Nando's segment."

"Did You Know That Every Single Blue Dog Candidate Was Defeated On Tuesday-- Even Though The DCCC Spent Millions On Their Races? [...] Beyond backing the crap conservative incumbents who lost their seats, the DCCC's biggest independent expenditures this cycle were done, overwhelmingly, on behalf of conservative candidates backed by the Blue Dogs and New Dems. DCCC and House Majority PAC expenditures are still being reported and it will be another week before we can do an accurate systematic audit but look at these races the DCCC (and Pelosi-- let me just refer to the expenditures of both the DCCC and her House Majority PAC , for the sake of this post, as "the DCCC") chose to spend big in-- at the expense of progressive candidates like Mike Siegel, Julie Oliver, Mondaire Jones, Liam O'Mara, Adam Christensen, Audrey Denney, etc, who they chose to not spend any money at all on."

Unbelievable. For the record, in 2000, Congressional aides illegally flew down to Florida and illegally imposed themselves on the facility where votes were being counted, to intimidate vote-counters and stop the vote. I'd say I can't believe The Washington Post printed this revisionist crap, except that I know they printed Michael Kelly's crap that revised the record even as it was happening.

TMBS: "0:15 / 53:39 Jeremy Corbyn Suspended From Labour Party - Griscom Stream." And speaking of revisionist crap, the leader of the Labour Party is making it up to please the party right-wingers.

RIP: "Veteran journalist and author Robert Fisk dies aged 74: Veteran foreign correspondent and author Robert Fisk has died after becoming unwell at his Dublin home on Friday. It is understood the journalist was admitted to St Vincent's hospital where he died a short time later. He was 74. Fisk was one of the most highly regarded and controversial British foreign correspondents of the modern era and was described by the New York Times in 2005 as 'probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain'. [...] He reported extensively on the first Gulf War basing himself for a time in Baghdad where he was fiercely critical of other foreign correspondents whom he accused of covering the conflict from their hotel rooms. He also covered the US-led war wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and frequently condemned US involvement in the region. Fisk was one of very few western reporters to interview Osama Bin Laden, something he did on three occasions in the 1990s. He also covered five Israeli invasions, the Algerian civil war, Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and the 2011 Arab revolutions. He worked in the Balkans during the conflict there and more recently covered the conflict in Syria. He received numerous awards over the course of his career including the Orwell Prize for Journalism, British Press Awards International Journalist of the Year and Foreign Reporter of the Year on multiple occasions." It would probably be hilarious now to go over the attacks on him from right-wing bloggers who would make line-by-line attacks on his articles critiquing the Bush administrations lies and war crimes, from which they created the term "fisking". Those articles could be "fisked" mercilessly now that he has so manifestly been proven correct.

RIP: "Ron Cobb, Underground Cartoonist and Influential Production Designer, Dead at 83: Ron Cobb, an underground cartoonist as well as the concept and production designer who helped craft the aesthetics of Total Recall, Alien and Back to the Future, has died. Via The Hollywood Reporter, Cobb's wife of 48 years, Robin Love, reported that he had passed away of Lewy body dementia on Monday — his 83rd birthday — at his home in Sydney. A political cartoonist, Cobb's drawings captured the radical anti-establishment spirit of the 1960s and '70s. His long and varied career brought him from counterculture cartooning to drawing album covers to designing some of the most iconic starships in film history." I can still remember, so long ago, learning to keep R. Cobb and R. Crumb separate in my mind when I first started seeing their stuff in undergrounds. He died in December, but I didn't see it until Langford picked it up (and I got around to reading the October Ansible.).

RIP: "Marge Champion: Actress who was model for Disney's Snow White dies at 101: The actress was also well known for starring alongside her husband and dance partner Gower Champion in a string of MGM musicals in the 1950s. She later won an Emmy Award for choreographing the 1975 TV film Queen of the Stardust Ballroom. [...] When Disney's animation team were working on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, they studied a young Marge's movements on a sound stage in order to make the character move more realistically. From the age of 14, Champion would work with them for one or two days per month for two years, during which time she was paid $10 per day. [...] Champion also served as a model for the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio, Hyacinth Hippo in Fantasia, and Mr Stock in Dumbo."

RIP: Sean Connery, 90. I liked Langford's obit for Connery the best: "Sir Sean Connery (1930-2020), utterly famous and multiple award-winning Scots actor in seven James Bond films — with many more genre credits including Zardoz (1974), Time Bandits (1981), Highlander (1986), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) — died on 31 October aged 90." I really loved that spot in Time Bandits.

RIP: Debra Doyle (1952-2020): SF writer Debra Doyle, 67, died October 31 of a sudden cardiac event at home in Colebrook NH. She was best known for work written in collaboration with her husband, James D. Macdonald, including Mythopoeic Award winner Knight's Wyrd (1992) and the Mageworlds space opera series." Jim Macdonald sent me a bunch of the Mageworld books to read while I was waiting for and recovering from my eye surgery way back when, having talked me down from freaking out about the surgery in the first place, realizing that I wasn't going to be able to do much else beside read during the weeks of keeping my face horizontal at all times, and learning that I'd liked the few of those books I'd read so far. Although I'd never had any contact with Debra Doyle myself, she has a place in my heart for those books, and I was very sorry to hear of her passing.

Cory Doctorow mentions a rarely acknowledged problem in "Trump's electoral equilibrium [...] A transformative politician who turns out the base also flushes out establishment opposition: lavishly funded smear campaigns that suppress your own voter turnout as a necessary cost of heading off voter-pleasing, plute-punishing policies."

George Monbiot, "The US was lucky to get Trump — Biden may pave the way for a more competent autocrat: Only if the president-elect is willing to fight big money and redistribute wealth can he stop the rise of someone far worse than Trump: [...] Obama's attempt to reconcile irreconcilable forces, to paper over the chasms, arguably gave Donald Trump his opening. Rather than confronting the banks whose reckless greed had caused the financial crisis, he allowed his Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, to 'foam the runway' for them by allowing 10 million families to lose their homes. His justice department and the attorney general blocked efforts to pursue apparent wrongdoing by the financiers. He pressed for trade agreements that would erode workers' rights and environmental standards, and presided over the widening of inequality and the concentration of wealth, casualisation of labour and record mergers and acquisitions. In other words, he failed to break the consensus that had grown around the dominant ideology of our times: neoliberalism. Neoliberalism has been neatly described by William Davies, a professor at Goldsmiths College, as 'the disenchantment of politics by economics'. It sees politics as an ineffective or illegitimate means of social improvement. Decision-making should be transferred to 'the market', a euphemism for the power of money. Through buying and selling, we establish a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Any attempt to interfere in the discovery of this natural order — such as taxing the rich, redistributing wealth and regulating business — will inhibit social progress. Neoliberalism disenchants politics by sucking the power out of people's votes. When governments abandon their ambition to change social outcomes or deliver social justice, politics become irrelevant to people's lives. It is perceived as the chatter of a remote elite. Disenchantment becomes disempowerment."

Why this election calls into question whether America is a democracy: At the beginning of the Fight to Vote project, we asked this question. After a year of election battles, voting restrictions and partisan conflicts, we revisit the idea."

Obama Wants Us to Go Back to Brunch After Trump Is Out. That Would Be A Disaster: Democrats are suggesting that we can all tune out and go back to brunch if Joe Biden wins the election. If we do that, we're doomed. [...] To counter Trump's assault, the Democratic campaign this weekend returned to Flint, Michigan — the place the Obama administration left to suffer through a horrific toxic water crisis, exacerbated by Michigan's then-Republican governor (who has since endorsed Biden). During the event, Biden declared that during his last tour of duty as vice president, we 'went through eight years without one single trace of scandal. Not one single trace of scandal. It's going to be nice to return to that.' Biden was joined in Flint by former president Barack Obama, who touted incremental change and preemptively downplayed expectations of economic transformation. 'Government is not going to solve every problem but we can make things better — a president can't, by himself, solve every challenge facing the economy,' he said, adding that under a Democratic Congress 'some folks will get jobs that wouldn't have otherwise had jobs, and some folks will have healthcare that wouldn't otherwise have healthcare.' He also promised that if Biden and Kamala Harris win the White House, 'You're not going to have to think about them every day. You're not going to have to argue with your family about them every day. It won't be so exhausting.' This was the party's flaccid message in the nation's poorest city, a former General Motors manufacturing hub destroyed by deindustrialization and offshoring. The same message was promoted this weekend in the Washington Post by corporate consultant Hillary Rosen, whose firm works for Biden. Rosen told the newspaper that Biden 'is not somebody who is coming in to disrupt Washington. He's coming in to heal Washington.' This is a shrewdly concocted mix of revisionism and expectation management — and if Biden (hopefully) defeats Trump, it sets the stage for a repeat of the events that got us to this horrible moment in the first place. "

2012, "Revealed: how the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy: New documents prove what was once dismissed as paranoid fantasy: totally integrated corporate-state repression of dissent It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall — so mystifying at the time — was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves —was coordinated with the big banks themselves. The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document — reproduced here in an easily searchable format — shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens.

Matt Taibbi on "Glenn Greenwald On His Resignation From The Intercept: The Pulitzer winner founded the Intercept to challenge official narratives and protect editorial freedom. When editors abandoned those principles, spiking a controversial story, he was forced to quit. [...] Greenwald becomes the latest high-profile journalist to leave a well-known legacy media organization to join Substack. You'll be able to read the piece rebuffed by The Intercept at his new site here. [...] It's a long story, but the punchline is that the self-editing journalists at the Intercept somewhere along the line began to fall for what will look, years from now, like a comically transparent bait-and-switch operation. They were suckered into becoming parodies of their original incarnation. In the Obama years, progressive journalists were infuriated by the disclosures of whistleblowers like Snowden and Chelsea Manning, and aimed their professional ire at the federal government for war crimes, drone assassination, and mass abuse of surveillance authority. The bugbears of the day were intelligence officials who ran these programs and deceived the public about them: people like CIA directors Hayden and Brennan, and Director of National Intelligence Clapper. These intelligence community leaders only a few short years ago served an administration that sought a 'reset' with the systematic human rights violator that was Vladimir Putin's Russia, a country then-President Obama dismissed throughout his tenure as a 'regional power' that acts 'not out of strength, but out of weakness.' The consistent posture of the Obama administration — the Obama-Biden administration — was that Russia ranked far below terrorists as a potential threat to the United States. After 2016, however, these officials presented themselves as norms-defending heroes protecting America against the twin 'existential' threats of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Russia, just a few years ago described by Rachel Maddow as a harmless 'gnat on the butt of an elephant,' was now reinvented as an all-powerful foe mounting an influence campaign of unprecedented reach, with everyone from Trump to the Green Party to blogs like Truthdig and Naked Capitalism, to congresswoman and war veteran Tulsi Gabbard, to Bernie Sanders, all potentially doing the bidding of a Cold War foe bent on 'sowing discord' on our shores. [...] As press enthusiasm for the Trump-Russia story widened, progressives began to invite old enemies back into the fold. People like 'Axis of Evil' speechwriter David Frum and Weekly Standard editor and key Iraq War proponent Bill Kristol became regular guests on CNN and MSNBC, while ex-spooks like Brennan, Clapper, Hayden, and a long list of others were given TV contributor deals, now serving as the press instead of facing criticism from it." But Greenwald didn't fall in line. And why should he? Clapper had lied to Congress 200 times not so long ago, and the Russia story kept turning out to have no basis in fact. Glenn's demand for evidence was met with hostility from the Clintonites and increasingly vile attacks on him. He gave up a highly-paid and well-protected position to walk away from The Intercept, something I wish he hadn't done, but people are even claiming, ludicrously, that he did it for fame and fortune. Be that as it may, I wish he hadn't considered the Hunter Biden story important enough to do it over, and I wish he'd stayed to fight his corner.

Ian Welsh, "Seven Rules for Running a Real Left-wing Government [...] Your First Act Must Be a Media Law. Break them up. Take them over. Whichever. Ignore the screams about media freedom from the usual suspects in the West, this is a case of 'freedom of the press belongs to those who own one.' In all three countries, the media conglomerates remained in the control of oligarchs (update: to be clear, Venezuela did eventually expropriate them, but only after many years), and in all three cases, the majority of the media remained relentlessly hostile to the left. This is just as true in countries like Britain, Canada, or the US as it is in Argentina, Venezuela, or Brazil, by the way. There is a reason why the post-war liberal regimes put strict media controls in place—including size limits—and there is a reason why those limits were removed by the neoliberal regimes that replaced them. You can win 'against the media' for a time, but if you leave it in the hands of your enemies, they will eventually use it to bury you."

"Watch the Rolling Stones Tear Through 'Sympathy for the Devil' in 1968: Performance is off newly remastered footage from Rock and Roll Circus"

"40+ Rare Historical Pictures That You Probably Haven't Seen Before

Insect Trust, "Declaration of Independence"

Saturday, October 31, 2020

And I'm all hung up on music

"Data from Bolivia's Election Add More Evidence That OAS Fabricated Last Year's Fraud Claims: The MAS Received More Votes in Almost All of the OAS's 86 Suspect Precincts in 2020 than in 2019. [...] We can't go back to 2019, or erase the racist violence unleashed on the population following the coup. On Sunday, Bolivians showed their courage, and the power of organized social movements, in righting the wrong of 2019. But that victory shouldn't allow us to forget about 2019, or the role that international actors played in overthrowing a democratically elected government. Those 226 tally sheets never showed fraud, as the OAS asserted. They do, however, reveal how the OAS disenfranchised tens of thousands of Indigenous Bolivians in its galling attempts to justify the undemocratic removal of an elected leader."

The thing is, though, the US has been trying to overthrow Morales' government for quite some time. "Bolivian democracy vs the United States: The elusive truth of on armed raid in eastern Bolivia leads Matt Kennard into a major investigation of the efforts by Washington and its local allies to undermine the radical government of Evo Morales."

"After Socialist Victory in Bolivia, Media Still Whitewash Coup: When the Wall Street Journal (10/19/20) reported on the MAS victory, for example, it kept to the usual line (FAIR.org, 11/11/19, 11/18/20) about the previously elected president from MAS, Evo Morales, having been 'driven from power' in November 2019 after 'an election that observers said was marred by irregularities'—avoiding referring directly to Morales' military overthrow as a 'coup.' Instead, the Journal wrote that 'Bolivians rose up against Mr. Morales' after he 'had grown increasingly authoritarian' and already 'ruled' for 14 years."

"Jubilation as Chile votes to rewrite constitution: Chileans have voted overwhelmingly in support of rewriting their constitution, which dates to the dictatorship of Gen Augusto Pinochet. With nearly 90% of the vote counted, 78% of people had voted "yes" in a referendum that was called after mass protests against inequality. [...] The referendum asked Chileans two questions - firstly, if they wanted a new constitution, and secondly, what kind of body they would want to draw it up. A large majority have voted for the new constitution to be drafted by a convention made up entirely of elected citizens, as opposed to one that would also include lawmakers."

"Jeremy Corbyn suspended by Labour leadership in latest outrage during Blairite anti-Semitism witch-hunt: The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn is a vicious and antidemocratic action by the right-wing cabal in control of the Labour Party. The political pretext on which the suspension was carried out, claiming the existence of widespread 'left anti-Semitism' in the Labour Party under his leadership, is a slander not only against Corbyn, but of countless party members. It is a political witch-hunt designed to justify the enforcement of the policies of British and US imperialism in the Middle East, built around the dishonest and illegitimate identification of anti-Semitism with principled opposition to the policies of the Israeli state."

David Dayen, "Sources: Gina Raimondo Being Considered as Biden's Treasury Secretary: The Rhode Island governor would not be a popular selection among progressives or organized labor. Joe Biden's transition team has informed Democratic officials that Gina Raimondo, the centrist governor of Rhode Island, is under consideration as the next Secretary of the Treasury should Biden win the election, multiple sources have confirmed to the Prospect. Raimondo, in her second term as governor, dazzled Biden's campaign in interviews to become his vice president back in June. A former venture capitalist who took the governor's mansion on the strength of millions of dollars in Wall Street donations, Raimondo's name will stir the long memories of union leaders. They have held a grudge with her for years over her tenure as state treasurer, when she cut pension benefits for public employees, while steering over $1 billion in state money to hedge fund investments. But recalling those hard feelings may be the point. One source theorized to the Prospect that leaking Raimondo's name could make Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard, until now seen as the leading possibility for Treasury Secretary, seem more palatable. Brainard, who worked at Treasury under Tim Geithner, has been attempting to portray a more liberal public image as the decision approaches."

"Quietly Signed Trump Order Denounced as 'Declaration of War' Against Federal Employees: The order sets up Trump's 'cronies to burrow into permanent jobs in the U.S. government," said one critic. After years of complaining that career federal employees are part of the "deep state" and aim to undermine his administration, President Donald Trump this week took a major step toward remaking the federal government as one without nonpartisan civil servants—signing a little-noticed executive order that would strip potentially hundreds of thousands of government employees of their job security. Under the order, signed late Wednesday, career federal employees could be fired with little or no cause, lose their right to due process, and potentially lose union representation. "

Glennzilla quits: "My Resignation From The Intercept: The same trends of repression, censorship and ideological homogeneity plaguing the national press generally have engulfed the media outlet I co-founded, culminating in censorship of my own articles."

"Times Editorial Lets Slip Joe Biden's Latin America Policy: More Obama-Style Coups: Figures on both the right and the left are presenting Biden as a progressive champion, the reality though, is that he has always represented the right-wing of the Democratic Party, and his Latin America policy is no exception."

"10 Ways to Call Something Russian Disinformation Without Evidence: How do you call something 'Russian disinformation' when you don't have evidence it is? Let's count the ways. We don't know a whole lot about how the New York Post story about Hunter Biden got into print. There are some reasons to think the material is genuine (including its cache of graphic photos and some apparent limited confirmation from people on the email chains), but in terms of sourcing, anything is possible. This material could have been hacked by any number of actors, and shopped for millions (as Time has reported), and all sorts of insidious characters - including notorious Russian partisans like Andrei Derkach - could have been behind it. None of these details are known, however, which hasn't stopped media companies from saying otherwise. Most major outlets began denouncing the story as foreign propaganda right away and haven't stopped. A quick list of the creative methods seen lately of saying, 'We don't know, but we know!'"

"Facebook and Twitter Cross a Line Far More Dangerous Than What They Censor: Just weeks before the election, the tech giants unite to block access to incriminating reporting about their preferred candidate. THE NEW YORK POST IS one of the country's oldest and largest newspapers. Founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton, only three U.S. newspapers are more widely circulated. Ever since it was purchased in 1976 by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, it has been known — like most Murdoch-owned papers — for right-wing tabloid sensationalism, albeit one that has some real reporters and editors and is capable of reliable journalism. On Wednesday morning, the paper published on its cover what it heralded as a 'blockbuster' scoop: 'smoking gun' evidence, in its words, in the form of emails purportedly showing that Joe Biden's son, Hunter, traded on his father's position by securing favors from the then-vice president to benefit the Ukranian energy company Burisma, which paid the supremely unqualified Hunter $50,000 each month to sit on its Board. While the Biden campaign denies that any such meetings or favors ever occurred, neither the campaign nor Hunter, at least as of now, has denied the authenticity of the emails. The Post's hyping of the story as some cataclysmic bombshell was overblown. While these emails, if authenticated, provide some new details and corroboration, the broad outlines of this story have long been known: Hunter was paid a very large monthly sum by Burisma at the same time that his father was quite active in using the force of the U.S. Government to influence Ukraine's internal affairs. [...] BUT THE POST, for all its longevity, power and influence, ran smack into two entities far more powerful than it: Facebook and Twitter. Almost immediately upon publication, pro-Biden journalists created a climate of extreme hostility and suppression toward the Post story, making clear that any journalist even mentioning it would be roundly attacked. For the crime of simply noting the story on Twitter (while pointing out its flaws), New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman was instantly vilified to the point where her name, along with the phrase 'MAGA Haberman,' were trending on Twitter. [...] The two Silicon Valley giants saw that hostile climate and reacted. Just two hours after the story was online, Facebook intervened. The company dispatched a life-long Democratic Party operative who now works for Facebook — Andy Stone, previously a communications operative for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, among other D.C. Democratic jobs — to announce that Facebook was 'reducing [the article's] distribution on our platform': in other words, tinkering with its own algorithms to suppress the ability of users to discuss or share the news article. The long-time Democratic Party official did not try to hide his contempt for the article, beginning his censorship announcement by snidely noting: 'I will intentionally not link to the New York Post.'"

"Liberals Are Losing the Journalism Wars: As major media outlets erect paywalls, conservative publishers are flooding the country with free right-wing propaganda paid for by Republicans. The University of North Carolina's Hussman School of Journalism and Media recently released a report titled 'The Expanding News Desert,' which showed that over the last 15 years, more than a fourth of America's newspapers and half of its journalists have 'disappeared,' turning thousands of communities into 'news deserts' no longer served by anyone who can provide a comprehensive and accurate description of what is happening in those communities. Into that vacuum of community news-gathering, other things have flowed." Local news reporting shuts down, big news organizations go behind paywalls, and right-wing money rushes in to fill the internet with right-wing "news" sites, available for free. Not that there aren't Dem-side grifters, but they're small-bore and definitely not left. "The fact that we are all watching, in real time, as the institution of journalism is replaced by corporate P.R. and right-wing propaganda is not a problem in need of solutions from business schools, consulting firms, or Silicon Valley. It is a democratic problem, in need of a democratic solution. The paywall will save The Atlantic. It has already failed to save American journalism."

"Department Of Homeland Security Sued For Chemical Weapons Use: Federal agents employed 'a vast arsenal of weapons,' including toxic smoke grenades, against protestors in Portland. [...] Among the weapons mentioned in the complaint are rubber bullets; CS tear gas; OC spray, also known as pepper spray; and hexachloroethane smoke grenades. As The Intercept reported earlier this month, the U.S. military began phasing out the smoke grenades years ago because of their toxicity. Along with a thick smoke, the grenades release chemicals associated with short- and long-term human health effects, including nausea, vomiting, central nervous system depression, kidney and liver damage, and cancer."

"It is all just a metaphor: The New York Times attempts yet another desperate defense of its discredited 1619 Project: On October 16, New York Times Magazine editor Jake Silverstein issued a new defense of the 1619 Project in which he now argues that its best-known claim—that the year 1619 and not 1776 represents the 'true founding' of the United States—was a metaphorical turn of phrase not intended to be read literally. Further confusion is attributed to an editorial error arising from the difficulties of managing a 'multi-platform' media operation. Published under the title, 'On Recent Criticism of The 1619 Project,' Silverstein's essay is a convoluted lawyer's argument that attempts to palm off historical falsification as merely minor matters of syntax, punctuation, and a somewhat careless use of metaphor."

In honor of Trump's attack on Mr. Rogers, we present, "Thor Meets Mr. Rogers".

RIP: "Spencer Davis dies of Pneumonia at 81: Spencer Davis, whose eponymous group provided a springboard for Steve Winwood's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame career, has died after a bout with pneumonia. He was 81. 'He was a very good friend,' Spencer's agent Bob Birk told the BBC. 'He was a highly ethical, very talented, goodhearted, extremely intelligent, generous man. He will be missed.' Founded in 1963, the Spencer Davis Group reached No. 7 in the U.S. with "Gimme Some Lovin'" in 1966, while topping the U.K. charts with "Keep on Running" and "Somebody Help Me." Winwood, who was only 14 when he first started fronting the group, left in 1967 to co-found Traffic. He later was part of the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith before establishing a celebrated solo career."

RIP: "Richard Lupoff (1935-2020): A longtime fan who worked as a technical writer, or when feasible a full-time sf pro, Lupoff with his wife Pat (and Bhob Stewart) edited the Hugo-winning fanzine Xero. They were among the founders of the Fanoclasts, and of New York's Eastercon. Dick participated in APA-F and the New York Futurian Society. As a pro, he produced 20 novels and enough short fiction to fill several collections. He edited hardcover editions of Burroughs books, wrote a biography of Burroughs, and other nonfiction books drawing on his expertise in pulp, comics and sf history. [...] During that period he also wrote the short story '12:01 P.M.' (1973), adapted as the Oscar-nominated short film 12:01 pm (1990) and the TV movie 12:01 (1993). (Lupoff appeared in both films as an extra.) The major plot device is a time loop, so similar to that of 1993's Groundhog Day that Lupoff and Jonathan Heap, director of the 1990 film, were 'outraged' by the apparent theft of the idea..." Don Thompson and Dick Lupoff's All in Color For A Dime is still always where we can find it easily in our house.

RIP: "Jerry Jeff Walker, Outlaw Country Architect and 'Mr. Bojangles' Songwriter, Dead at 78: Walker's 1973 live album '¡Viva Terlingua!' is a cornerstone of the Austin, Texas, cosmic cowboy sound. Jerry Jeff Walker, the 'Mr. Bojangles' songwriter and a pioneer of the 'cosmic cowboy' sound that would evolve into outlaw country, died Friday after a long battle with throat cancer. He was 78. Walker's publicist confirmed his death to Rolling Stone. Born Ronald Clyde Crosby in Oneonta, New York, in 1942, Walker made his way south, living for a time in the Florida Keys and in New Orleans, where he took his stage name. In 1971, he landed in Austin, Texas, and became a fixture of the local music scene, where artists like Willie Nelson, Doug Sahm, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and Michael Martin Murphey were performing a new progressive style of hippie-country." David Bromberg, who used to play with JJW, tells the story of the song in his own performance of it.

"Why privilege theorists mock poor white people—with five examples

"How Democrats Can Learn Hardball From the Republicans of 1861: Sometimes restoring democracy requires rewriting the rules. If you're looking for a historical example of a revanchist political minority that kept its foot on the neck of a growing and restive majority, look no further than the defenders of slavery in antebellum America. In the interest of keeping Black people in a state of intergenerational servitude, pro-slavery politicians in the antebellum period trampled flagrantly and frequently on the civil liberties not only of Black Americans, but of white people who opposed slavery's expansion. They shut down the right of abolitionists to use the U.S. Postal Service and the halls of Congress to proselytize against the Peculiar Institution. They deployed violence and voter fraud to rig elections. To maintain property in human beings, they perverted the institutions of American democracy. It wasn't until the Civil War, when many of those pro-slavery politicians rebelled to fight for the Confederacy, that the anti-slavery Republicans had their chance to reverse the damage. And they did it by playing hardball."

"Mighty Ira: Ira Glasser, Free Speech and the ACLU - System Update with Glenn Greenwald: For this special episode of System Update, Glenn is joined by Ira Glasser, former executive director of the ACLU from 1978-2001 and the subject of a newly released documentary, Mighty Ira. Glenn and Ira discuss why civil libertarians must defend the rights of those they despise, the apparent abandonment of free speech commitments by some of the liberal left, and the role of the ACLU in US politics -- traditionally and now."

I haven't read it yet, but it warmed my heart to hold it in my hands: "The Return of Hyper Comics Paperback — August 7, 2020: The Return of Hyper Comics, the last project of legendary underground cartoonist and Hugo Award-winner Steve Stiles, who passed away in 2020, is a September release from Thintwhistle Books, a company formed by Steve's widow, Elaine Stiles. Packed with more than 150 pages of Steve's classic work from Hyper Comics, Heavy Metal, Stardate, and a host of other publications, it's an essential part of any cartoon collector's library."

This Dick Cavett interview with Dick Van Dyke took place in 1974. He's talking about his alcoholism, but I just found it fascinating to look at him. And then I realized how long ago that was and he's still amazing today.

"Stevie Wonder Releases First New Music in 15 Years: Hall of Famer unveils 'Where Is Our Love Song' and 'Can't Put It in the Hands of Fate' on Republic Records, his first non-Motown release."

Fairytale cottages

Spencer Davis Group, "I'm A Man"

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

And the forests will echo with laughter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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