Tuesday, September 17, 2019

September, I'll remember

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How a Zildjian cymbal is made

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

Push Trump off a cliff again.

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

Saturday, August 31, 2019

A revolution is the solution

"FDIC approves Volcker revamp, in latest move to roll back bank rules: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board voted 3-1 Tuesday to give big banks more leeway to make risky short-term bets in financial markets by loosening a landmark but highly contentious regulation known as the Volcker rule. The FDIC and four other independent agencies have dropped their proposal to tie the rule to a strict accounting standard — a move that banks argued would have made it more burdensome by subjecting additional trades to heightened supervision. Instead, regulators will give banks the benefit of the doubt on a much wider range of trades, according to the text of the final rule." Regulators "will give banks the benefit of the doubt." Because they've really earned our trust.

David Dayen, "With the Volcker Rule Now Dead, Democrats Need to Bring Back Glass-Steagall: Trump's 'regulators' have allowed banks to play fast and loose with your deposits. It's time to make banks' speculation with your money flat-out illegal. In 2017, when Obamacare looked to be a vote or two away from oblivion, a popular argument in left circles went like this: The Rube Goldberg contraption that is the Affordable Care Act represented a compromise from the easier and cleaner way to do universal health care, and if Republicans and the medical industry couldn't even stomach that, the next time Democrats take power they might as well go to full single-payer. If Democrats are going to be called socialists either way, the left theorized, they should choose the best policy instead of a half measure in the faint hope of winning bipartisan support. Democrats now have another example of this in financial reform. Trump's regulators have finally eviscerated the compromise version of a structural separation between deposit-taking banks and trading institutions, known as the Volcker Rule. The financial sector could not allow even minor constraints on its practices of betting prodigious sums with other people's money. Well, fine. Then I guess when Democrats retain control they should just go back to the gold standard in this department, the firewall between commercial and investment banks passed in 1933 as the Glass-Steagall Act.

"Obama Repeatedly Tried to Get Biden Not to Run for President: The former president is reportedly worried Biden will 'embarrass himself.' [...] The most surprising part of the Times story though is how Obama has on multiple occasions tried to dissuade Biden from running for president. First, in 2016, Obama pressured Biden to sit out the race because he believed Hillary Clinton was the best shot at continuing his legacy. Even though that didn't pan out for Obama, he still tried to talk Biden out of running in 2020."

HILL TV EXCLUSIVE, Full Interview: Bernie Sanders sits down with Krystal Ball (28:55 video)

"Column: In shocking reversal, Big Business puts the shareholder value myth in the grave: Among the developments followers of business ethics may have thought they'd never see, the end of the shareholder value myth has to rank very high. Yet one of America's leading business lobbying groups just buried the myth. 'We share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,' reads a statement issued Monday by the Business Roundtable and signed by 181 CEOs. (Emphasis in the original.) The statement mentions, in order, customers, employees, suppliers, communities and — dead last — shareholders. The corporate commitment to all these stakeholders may be largely rhetorical at the moment, but it's hard to overstate what a reversal the statement represents from the business community's preexisting viewpoint." But as David Dayen observed in his newsletter, "The Business Roundtable's statement that companies have obligations to more than shareholders is funny, considering that two months earlier they sent a comment to the Securities and Exchange Commission asking for a rule change to preserve 'long-term shareholder value.'

Matt Binder explains what the new domain name regime could mean, for independent sites (like this one) and other internet users, on Doomed. (The audio-only stream may be more useful and starts at the beginning of the show, unlike the video that starts over two minutes in.)

Since the usual suspects are dissing it, Bernie Sanders' Green New Deal.

Recommended video: "How Societies Turn Cruel - feat. Sargon of Akkad" (30 minutes)

What happened to America's unions? How the US Auto Industry Destroyed Its Capacity to Compete w/ Joshua Murray - MR Live - 8/29/19

Someone updated Al Franken's "Hang On Stevens" idea for Justice Ginsberg, "Hang On Ruthie!."

I keep telling people that the candidate who is most like Trump is Biden.

Meagan Day, "Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Aren't Playing the Same Game: The Democratic Party establishment has shown itself time and again to be an enemy of left-wing policies. Despite her progressive plans, Elizabeth Warren is cozying up to those Democratic elites. Bernie Sanders welcomes their hatred. [...] The differences between Sanders and Warren on the one hand and Biden on the other are obvious. Biden has no idea what he wants the country to look like or why he's running for president. Warren and Sanders do. But the differences between Warren and Sanders continue to confuse many in the mainstream media, who repeatedly assert or imply that they're ideologically identical. They aren't. Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist and Warren calls herself a 'capitalist to my bones.' These aren't just labels. They're distinct approaches to the fundamental problems facing our society. A socialist tries to liberate the things people need to survive from the clutches of capitalist markets, which is why Sanders has taken the lead on Medicare for All, transforming it into the most popular working-class demand of the moment. A capitalist respects the superior wisdom of capitalist markets and tries to restore them to optimal functionality, which can help explain why Warren is so frustratingly noncommittal on Medicare for All. A socialist pursues decommodification through universal social programs that enshrine new social rights for all, which is why Sanders has proposed to eliminate every last penny of existing student debt. A capitalist of the liberal or progressive variety is seduced by means-testing, which is why Warren needlessly introduced eligibility requirements and caps into her student-debt forgiveness program.

"Another Nail in the Coffin' of Democracy and Journalism as US Newspaper Giants Gannett and GateHouse Announce $1.4 Billion Merger: 'Hundreds of communities and ultimately our democracy will pay the price for this deal. Less journalism and less deep-dive investigative reporting will only lead to less informed citizens.'

"Corporate Interests Use Voter Purges To Disenfranchise Citizens: The SCOTUS decision in Shelby County v Holder ruled that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is unconstitutional. Greg Palast talks about how what followed has been the expansion of the very issue that the VRA was implemented to curb."

Every now and then I find myself in a conversation with someone, usually a libertarian, who seems to have no idea how people and history ever happen. And I ask them, "And where does private property come from?" Nice little interview from Sammy pretty much explains why this is a useful question. "The Code of Capital: How the Law Creates Wealth & Inequality w/ Katharina Pistor - MR Live - 8/27/19"

"Memo to mainstream journalists: Can the phony outrage; Bernie is right about bias: Mainstream media is shocked at Sanders' suggestion that ownership influences coverage. I can tell you it's true. Mainstream journalists are having a ridiculous hissy fit over Sen. Bernie Sanders' suggestion that there may be a connection between the owner of a news outlet and the content or biases of that outlet's coverage. If Sanders had suggested that Rupert Murdoch's ownership of Fox News impacts its coverage, few would argue with him. But Sanders referred to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' ownership of the Washington Post — a corporate centrist outlet. And the senator, an Amazon critic, complained that the newspaper 'doesn't write particularly good articles about me.' [...] I worked in and around mainstream TV news for years, including at corporate centrist outlets CNN and MSNBC. Unlike at Fox News (where I'd also been a paid contributor), there's almost never a memo or direct order from top management to cover or not cover certain stories or viewpoints. But here's the sad reality: There doesn't have to be a memo from the owner to achieve the homogeneity of coverage at 'centrist' outlets that media watchdog groups like FAIR (which I founded) have documented in study after study over the decades. It happens because of groupthink. It happens because top editors and producers know — without being told — which issues and sources are off limits. No orders need be given, for example, for rank-and-file journalists to understand that the business of the corporate boss or top advertisers is off-limits, short of criminal indictments. No memo is needed to achieve the narrowness of perspective — selecting all the usual experts from all the usual think tanks to say all the usual things. Think Tom Friedman. Or Barry McCaffrey. Or Neera Tanden. Or any of the elite club members who've been proven to be absurdly wrong time and again about national or global affairs. [...] If you still want to believe there's no connection between corporate media ownership and content, join me in a mental exercise: Imagine how quickly heads would roll at the Post in the fantastical event that it somehow produced even three negative stories about owner Jeff Bezos in a few hours. (Needless to say, there's much to critically report about Bezos, including Amazon's tax avoidance, labor exploitation, taxpayer subsidies and CIA contracts.) [...] I said above that there's 'almost never a memo or order from top management' to newsroom journalists. In normal times, the media system works smoothly without top-down directives. But in times of crisis, such as during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq — when I was a senior producer of MSNBC's primetime Phil Donahue show — there may well be orders and memos. As the invasion neared, top management at MSNBC/NBC News ordered us to bias our panel discussions. If we booked one guest who was antiwar on Iraq, we needed two who were pro-war. If we booked two guests on the left, we needed three on the right. When a producer proposed booking Michael Moore, she was told that three right-wingers would be required for balance. (I thought about proposing Noam Chomsky as a guest, but our stage couldn't have accommodated the 28 right-wingers we might have needed for balance.) During that period, we were told by MSNBC brass that invasion opponent Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general, should not appear on the channel. Apparently, some sort of blacklist." And we all know what happened to Phil Donahue.

"For Bernie, The Washington Post's Hatred Is Pure The Post is apoplectic that Bernie would call out its bias. [...] Take a stalwart of the liberal establishment press, the Washington Post, for example. The Post seems to operate, similar to Cockburn, based on a principle of hatred for one's enemies. The problem, however, is that many of the Post's enemies would never have made Cockburn's enemies list: the Post's targets are all too often in the crosshairs not for being corrupt elites but principally for bucking the elite consensus."

ROT IN PERDITION: "After Life of Incalculable Harm, Billionaire Climate Denialist and Right-Wing Villain David Koch Dead at 79: 'Death is an escape hatch for David Koch while the rest of us are left scrambling for the emergency brake before we go over the cliff.'"
"David Koch's Monstrous Legacy [...] But Koch's largesse wasn't free. We are paying for it now, and have been paying for it for decades. Koch's legacy is a testament to the power of weaponized philanthropy. For Koch did not restrict himself to supporting artists and scientists. He, along with his brother Charles, who survives him, committed their vast family fortune to the construction of a powerful conservative network. We live in the world that he helped build, and it is on fire."

"Fidel Castro's crocodile attacks man at Stockholm crayfish party [...] Skansen's pair — named Castro and Hillary — came to Stockholm from Moscow Zoo in 1981, to whom they had been donated by a Russian cosmonaut who were given the animals as a gift by then Cuban President Fidel Castro in 1978. They have had 11 children since arriving at the Stockholm zoo."

"Disaster capitalism: the shocking doctrine Tories can't wait to unleash: The Tory right doesn't care about the damage Brexit will do. The prize is a free hand to exploit this mess and roll back the state for good. [...] Many thought that the near meltdown of the global financial system would prompt a comprehensive rethink of the principles underlying global capitalism. Instead, it was exploited to de-fund social welfare provision on a grand scale, prompting much of the anger wrongly vented against migrants during the referendum. What then about Brexit? The advocates of leaving the European Union have always claimed that it would be easy and, after a brief period of turmoil, positively productive. A vast chorus of experts disagreed. The decision to leave therefore delivered an enormous economic and political shock to England, Scotland, the EU and the global economy. Why is the government not doing everything possible to mitigate that shock? [...] As Andy Beckett pointed out in the Guardian on Friday, within minutes of the BBC declaring victory for Brexit, the free-market thinktank the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) revealed the plan B that has otherwise remained hidden from view. 'The weakness of the Labour party and the resolution of the EU question have created a unique political opportunity to drive through a wide-ranging ... revolution on a scale similar to that of the 1980s ... This must include removing unnecessary regulatory burdens on businesses, such as those related to climate directives and investment fund[s].'"

Garbage, "Sex Is Not The Enemy"

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Just nod if you can hear me

"Sanders Says If Israel Wants to Ban Members of Congress, It Should Not Receive Billions in US Military Aid: 'The idea that a member of the United States Congress cannot visit a nation which, by the way, we support to the tune of billions and billions of dollars is clearly an outrage.'" Even AIPAC condemned Benjy on this one. Imagine a president of the United States advising another country to insult our members of Congress!

Democratic Debate 2, in Detroit:
Night 1: Hickenlooper, Bullock, Buttigeig, Klobuchar, O'Rourke, Ryan, Sanders, Warren, Williamson, with commentary from The Majority Report crew. I was going to post night 2 but CNN apparently decided to cut off any of the feeds. I think there's universal agreement by anyone who isn't in the centrist bag that CNN's questioning was horrible and Jake Tapper might as well be on Fox.

"Progressive Democrats vote against BDS, Palestinian rights" — Really disappointed in Ro Khanna on this. (And so did my own Rep., Raskin.)

Joe Rogan did a full hour-long interview with Bernie Sanders. This is notable because more people watch Rogan's YouTube videos than watch the cable shows, and you're lucky to get a ten-minute interview full of all the wrong questions from those cable shows. Rogan actually did a good job of getting Sanders to talk in a little more depth about his plans and policies — and in front of an audience that is unlikely to see or hear them anywhere else. Of course, the only part the media is talking about is the joke about flying saucers.

Even Politifact had to admit that John Delaney is full of crap.

John Oliver explains the horror of Boris Johnson, PM.

"Leaked Draft of Executive Order to 'Censor the Internet' Sets Off Alarm Bells: Civil liberties groups are warning of a major threat to online freedoms and First Amendment rights if a leaked draft of a Trump administration edict—dubbed by critics as a 'Censor the Internet' executive order that would give powerful federal agencies far-reaching powers to pick and choose which kind of Internet material is and is not acceptable—is allowed to go into effect."

"Sanders Demands Drug and Insurance Industries Explain the Hundreds of Millions They Seem Willing to Spend to Defeat Medicare for All: 'You made a $100 billion in profits last year — how much are you going to be spending of that $100 billion to oppose Medicare for All? Is it $200 million? Is it $500 million? Is it a billion dollars in order to protect your profits?'"

"Nina Turner: There is "Something Wrong" With Dems Who Won't Support Medicare-For-All."

"Kamala Harris Releases Healthcare Plan Calling for Privatization of Medicare [...] Bernie Sanders's campaign quickly slammed Harris's plan, saying it is 'centered around privatizing Medicare, enriching insurance executives and introducing more corporate greed and profiteering into the Medicare system.' Bernie Sanders is calling for a single healthcare system, run by the government, that would essentially do away with private insurers."

"Democratic Voters Rank Bernie Sanders as 'Most Qualified' 2020 Candidate to Solve US Healthcare Crisis: 'Bernie Sanders's fight to guarantee healthcare to all Americans through a Medicare for All system is not only a moral necessity—polls show it is also the most compelling healthcare message to mobilize voters.' [...] That's according to a Morning Consult/Politico survey released Tuesday, which found that 25 percent of likely Democratic primary voters believe Sanders, a longstanding supporter of Medicare for All, has a better "understanding of the problems with the U.S. healthcare system" than his 2020 rivals."

Great interview on The Majority Report with an author who was inspired by Barbar Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, an important reminder not just that poverty is hard, but that low-waged work has gotten even worse and more soul-killing than it's been in living memory: On the Clock: How Low-Wage Work Drives America Insane w/ Emily Guendelsberger - MR Live - 8/6/19. (Link is direct to the interview but you can roll it back to watch the whole show.)

A little recommended reading, from Bloomberg, "Russiagate Is Deader Than Ever: A judge has ruled it was actually fine to publish material stolen by the Russian intelligence — even if the Trump campaign had done it The ruling by U.S. District Judge John Koeltl to dismiss the Democratic National Committee's lawsuit against Russia, the Trump campaign and others on Tuesday may look like something of an afterthought now that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has failed to find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between Russia and Trump's team. It is, however, anything but anticlimactic: It contains some hard truths for those still hanging on to the Trump-Russia story." Obviously, the Ellsberg principle is correct, and it's nice to know there are still courts that recognize it.

"Golly, So Many Voter Purges After Supreme Court Declared Racism DOA! The Brennan Center for Justice, using data from the federal government, found that since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, the number of Americans purged from voter rolls has increased to are you kidding me levels of 17 million people. Worse, states that had a history of discrimination against minority voters purged a greater percentage of voters in the last two years than in other parts of the country. Before that 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 required jurisdictions that had a history of voting discrimination to get clearance from the Justice Department before making any changes to voting procedures. But in Shelby, the Supremes decided racism was largely a thing of the past, so such "preclearance" was clearly not needed anymore, and actually was very unfair to places that used to use underhanded tactics to rig the vote. After all, Republicans all over the country were emailing each other pictures of the White House surrounded by watermelon patches, not just in the South! And yet, in a development that nobody wearing opaque goggles could have seen coming, it turns out that getting rid of preclearance resulted in a big rise in voter purges, and those purges somehow managed to be even worse in the places formerly covered by Section 5 of the VRA." I still say there should be a list of known voter-suppression tactics that no jurisdiction, regardless of their history, should be permitted to use.

Speaking of that, remember that some states require you to be registered well in advance of an election, so if you want to vote in the primaries, make sure you are registered now, and that no one has "accidentally" changed your registration or removed you from the rolls. Here's the primary schedule — mark your state primary in your calendar now.

Surprisingly, Bloomberg has a good interview with Stephanie Kelton answering the question, "How will we pay for it?"

The peacefulness of Buttigeig: "McKinsey and Company Is an Elitist Cult. Why Is Buttigieg Defending It? [...] In 1993, Fortune magazine put it this way: 'These fellows from McKinsey sincerely do believe they are better than everybody else. Like several less purposeful organizations—Mensa, Bohemian Grove, Skull and Bones, the Banquet of the Golden Plate—McKinsey is elitist by design.' [...] [...] 'We are now living with the consequences of the world McKinsey created,' writes a former McKinsey consultant in an expose´ for Current Affairs. 'Market fundamentalism is the default mode for businesses and governments the world over.' [...] As McKinsey comes under heavier scrutiny for its role in the crimes of governments and powerful corporations, any 'progressive' who worked there and wants to be taken seriously should have a rather critical perspective. Buttigieg has shown no such reflection. Instead, he calls his time at McKinsey his most 'intellectually informing experience'; he left only because it 'could not furnish that deep level of purpose that I craved.' Buttigieg has said he didn't follow the story of McKinsey's OxyContin push. On McKinsey's Saudi and South African government ties, he said: 'I think you have a lot of smart, well-intentioned people who sometimes view the world in a very innocent way. I wrote my thesis on Graham Greene, who said that innocence is like a dumb leper that has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.'"

Matt Stoller, "Why Private Equity Should Not Exist [...] I'm going to explain what private equity is and why it is facing these attacks. I'll also go into a bit of history, how private equity, which used to be called the leveraged buy-out industry (LBO), was started by a Nixon administration official who oversaw the both the bankruptcy of New York City and the intellectual attack on antitrust in the 1970s. Finally I'll also discuss what it would mean to eliminate PE from our economy and politics. [...] So what is private equity? In one sense, it's a simple question to answer. A private equity fund is a large unregulated pool of money run by financiers who use that money to invest in and/or buy companies and restructure them. They seek to recoup gains through dividend pay-outs or later sales of the companies to strategic acquirers or back to the public markets through initial public offerings. But that doesn't capture the scale of the model. There are also private equity-like businesses who scour the landscape for companies, buy them, and then use extractive techniques such as price gouging or legalized forms of complex fraud to generate cash by moving debt and assets like real estate among shell companies. PE funds also lend money and act as brokers, and are morphing into investment bank-like institutions. Some of them are public companies. While the movement is couched in the language of business, using terms like strategy, business models returns of equity, innovation, and so forth, and proponents refer to it as an industry, private equity is not business. On a deeper level, private equity is the ultimate example of the collapse of the enlightenment concept of what ownership means. Ownership used to mean dominion over a resource, and responsibility for caretaking that resource. PE is a political movement whose goal is extend deep managerial controls from a small group of financiers over the producers in the economy. Private equity transforms corporations from institutions that house people and capital for the purpose of production into extractive institutions designed solely to shift cash to owners and leave the rest behind as trash. Like much of our political economy, the ideas behind it were developed in the 1970s and the actual implementation was operationalized during the Reagan era. [...] PE firms serve as transmitters of information across businesses, sort of disease vectors for price gouging and legal arbitrage. If a certain kind of price gouging strategy works in a pharmaceutical company, a private equity company can roll through the industry, buying up every possible candidate and quickly forcing the price gouging everywhere. In the defense sector, Transdigm serves this role, buying up aerospace spare parts makers with pricing power and jacking up prices, in effect spreading corrupt contracting arbitrage against the Pentagon much more rapidly than it would have spread otherwise."

"White-Collar Slowdown Forces Law Firms, Ex-Prosecutors to Adapt: The slowdowns in white-collar enforcement activity and litigation have coincided with diminished hiring demand from law firms, while some white-collar defense attorneys are shifting their practices to focus on other areas.

Pierce, "The Democratic Party May Finally Be Emerging From the Shadows of 1980: I occasionally talk about the most singularly dismal episode in my experience hanging around politicians and political events, and it is not the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, nor is it the events that occurred between the beginning of November, 2016 and the end January, 2017. It isn't even Betsy DeVos's confirmation hearing, although that's a real contender. No, the episode in question occurred in 1982, when I was just a young alternative journo, and I attended something called the Democratic Midterm Issues Convention. It was at that event that you could see what was coming for the next 30 years or so, and what you saw wasn't pretty.

"The American Medical Association Is Taking a More Aggressive Approach on Abortion Legislation: The American Medical Association is suing North Dakota to block two abortion-related laws, the latest signal the doctors' group is shifting to a more aggressive stance as the Donald Trump administration and state conservatives ratchet up efforts to eliminate legal abortion. The group, which represents all types of physicians in the U.S., has tended to stay on the sidelines of many controversial social issues, which, until recently, included abortion and contraception. Instead, it has focused on legislation affecting the practice and finances of large swaths of its membership. But, says AMA President Patrice Harris, the organization feels that, in light of new state laws in the U.S. that would force doctors who perform abortions to lie to patients—put 'physicians in a place where we are required by law to commit an ethical violation'—it has no choice but to take a stand. One of these laws, set to take effect Aug. 1, requires physicians in North Dakota to tell patients that medication abortions—a procedure involving two drugs taken at different times—can be reversed. The AMA said that is 'a patently false and unproven claim unsupported by scientific evidence.' North Dakota is one of several states to pass such a measure."

In the wake of Donald Trump's attack on Baltimore, Dave Ettlin takes you on his tour of the city, in "Defending Baltimore: The City Of My Birth Has Problems But Promise, Reflecting Urban America." I was sorry to learn that his old house on Calvert Street, Toad Hall, where I had many adventures, has been turned into apartments, "most of its original features stripped away."

Dave Langford reports in Ansible: Court Circular: The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (of 'Urban Spaceman' fame; see SFE entry) found their name had been trademarked by Anglo Atlantic Media Limited, which claimed ownership at the Intellectual Property Office website — no evidence required, just a £200 fee — and then sued them for using their established name. Directors of AAML include the band's former promoter Bob Carruthers. A fundraiser for the Bonzos' legal costs at www.crowdjustice.com/case/bonzodogbanned/ reached its £15,000 target on 26 July, but more would be welcome. [JD] The IPO has scheduled a hearing of the case for 5 September 2019."

Eskow, "What the Fight Over Means Testing Is Really About: What started as a tool to target need has spread into an ideology that runs the risk of puzzling the public and overcomplicating policy. [...] Sanders, who has thus far refrained from criticizing Warren, kept his remarks positive. But Omar's office contrasted Warren's proposal unfavorably with hers, calling it 'a complicated means-tested plan to keep out a doctor or lawyer who might be earning a good living.' 'Means-tested' is clearly used unflatteringly here, because it has become a pejorative shorthand to describe and dismiss a certain kind of Democratic politics. As the headline to a 2017 essay by The Week's Ryan Cooper put it, 'The road to hell is paved with means-testing.'" I actually think he understates the case, here. The simple fact is that when you throw a load of administrative crap at low-income people in need, you make it harder for them to receive the benefits you claim you want to give them. The more they need it, the more they get tripped up by red tape. It's easy for people of means to hire someone to navigate these obstacle courses for them, but it can be insurmountable for people who actually need those benefits the most.

Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent's Stealth Takeover of America: Nobel laureate James Buchanan is the intellectual linchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions, argues Duke historian Nancy MacLean."

Down in Fulton, Georgia, the first #BlackLivesMatter organizer elected to public office in America has a rebirth. "Councilman khalid: Why I'm Still Sanders [...] In June, Vermont's Public Access Channel CCTV released the entire archives of 1980s TV show: Bernie Speaks. The City of Burlington cable access show was created in 1986 by then-Mayor Bernie Sanders to circumvent commercial media and promote his political agenda directly to constituents. Late-night host Trevor Noah featured a few funny clips from the show, exposing America to this forgotten trove of what he called 'Bernie gold'. I went online and began binge-watching episodes. I was looking for reasons to believe in Bernie again. I found them. I also found myself. It was Bernie's 2016 Presidential Campaign that inspired me to run for local office. Little did I know that since winning, I was still following in his footsteps. [...] Many of the same issues I discuss on khalidCaresTV — political education, equitable economic development, divesting in policing and investing in young people before they get into criminal trouble — I saw Bernie address on this 30-year-old TV show. As it turns out, the Blackest City in America is suffering the same problems as overwhelmingly-white, 1980s Burlington, Vermont. Civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King was right. We are tied together in a single garment of destiny.

"When Will Obama Stop Dividing Democrats by Attacking Obama's Record? An idea that has entered the political universe this week is that certain 2020 Democratic candidates are 'attacking' Barack Obama by employing certain campaign themes and proposing certain policies, a trend that purportedly came to a head during Tuesday and Wednesday's primary debates in Detroit. [...] Have 2020 presidential candidates begun engaging in suicidal attacks on Obama's legacy by suggesting ambitious universal care policies, critiquing free trade's effects on American workers, discussing the downsides of capitalism, and calling for a reduction in criminal prosecutions of undocumented immigrants? Not really. For one, if you look at the transcripts, you find that almost none of the candidates who've taken those positions actually criticized Obama during the debates; in fact, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Julián Castro only used the former president's name to praise him or to suggest that his example supported the cases their campaigns are making. More importantly, though, none of those individuals nor any other 2020 candidate is doing or proposing anything that departs significantly from the path that Obama himself set for the Democratic Party." TL;DR: Eric Holder is a disingenuous putz.

"Stephen Colbert Jumps The Shark With Cringey Bernie-Bezos Bit:" Bernie Sanders made the completely unremarkable statement that it's unsurprising that media owned by billionaires would not support a candidate who rails against billionaires, and for some reason, Colbert thought this was occasion to attack him. The Majority Report is dismayed. Meanwhile, The Washington Post's New Social Media Policy Forbids Disparaging Advertisers.

And speaking of that, there's now a Bernie substack, and it has "BERN NOTICE: What We Cannot Discuss: Pundits freak out over the suggestion that billionaire media tycoons don't like Bernie Sanders"

"Chase Bank Erases All Debt For Credit Card Customers In Canada: Imagine if that massive credit card bill in your name just magically disappeared. For Chase Bank credit card customers in Canada, that dream became a reality. 'I don't know why they're doing it,' Toronto airbrush artist Randal Thibodeau wrote on Twitter. 'Good news for me.'"

"We Need A Wizard Who Can Appeal To The Moderate Orc Voter: I may be just an ordinary orc, but I wasn't at all surprised when the Dark Lord Sauron became the leader of Mordor. A lot of my smart, liberal friends, though, reacted as if Middle-earth was coming to an end. Dwarves in the barroom of the Prancing Pony said it was the pride of the High Elves. Ravens twittering under the eaves of Mirkwood blamed the cunning of dragons. The Steward of Gondor, posting on FacePalantir, said it was because of Sauron's hatred for the heirs of Isildur. I'm here to tell you: it's the economy, stupid."

"A Bear Somehow Fell Onto A Moving Police Car, Then Things Got Really Weird"

"A Lost Album From John Coltrane, With Thanks To A French-Canadian Director [...] Now comes word of another new album by the classic John Coltrane Quartet, with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. Blue World will be released on Impulse!/UMe on Sept. 27, and like Both Directions it offers an unexpected view on a pivotal period in the band's evolution. It was recorded at Van Gelder Studios on June 24, 1964 — a few weeks after the quartet put a finishing touch on the album Crescent — as the soundtrack to a Canadian art film. Because the date had gone unnoted in session recording logs, this music has occupied a blind spot for Trane-ologists, archivists and historians."

Mark Kernes reminds me that the complete run of the late Paul Krassner's The Realist is available online.

RIP: Martin Hoare (1952-2019) was well-known to anyone who loves Dave Langford, since they often seemed inseparable. (When Dave met me at Heathrow to pick me up for my TAFF trip, Martin was driving — and, having heard that I was interested in seeing interesting old pubs, pulled us up to a weird little thatched place as soon as the pubs opened. The place had such a low ceiling that I could reach up to lean on a ceiling beam.) (Graham Charnock posted the best photo of Martin I've seen.) More from Langford in Ansible.

RIP: Toni Morrison: Nobel Prize-winning author dies at 88: Her family confirmed 'with profound sadness' that Morrison had died 'following a short illness'. Author of 11 novels, she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, having published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. Her 1987 book Beloved told the story of a runaway female slave and was made into a film starring Oprah Winfrey in 1998. [...] Morrison once said: 'We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.'"

RIP: "Peter Fonda, celebrated actor known for Easy Rider, dies aged 79: Son of Henry Fonda and brother of Jane Fonda died after battling lung cancer, family says"

RIP: "Film-maker DA Pennebaker dies aged 94: The documentary-maker's work included Monterey Pop, Bob Dylan's Don't Look Back and Bowie's Ziggy Stardust concert film.

"Why They Hate Bernie: Remember the frenzied, paranoid style of right-wing anti-Clintonism? The lies, the conspiracy theories, the deeply personal disgust? Well, it's back — only this time it's migrated to the Democratic Party and its unhinged attacks on Bernie Sanders." I've actually remarked myself on the way a lot of it has the same features from the same sources of the Arkansas Project.

Liz's inside-outside game: "Elizabeth Warren Took On Obama Over Student Debt Forgiveness. How She Won Is Central To Her 2020 Campaign. [...] She did it by turning to what had become the core tool of her political life: a potent combination of grassroots activism, intense political pressure, and detailed analysis of consumer law. And she used that tool in part against her own party's administration, strengthening a political identity that cut against what was then the mainstream of American liberalism." And here's a little more from Dday.

This 1993 article from The American Prospect is a good reminder that all those left-wing losers of the Democrats' past were, in fact, not left-wing - and that it's always the right-wing Democrats who have the temper tantrums. "The Myth of the New Democrats [...] The notion that the Democratic Party is a captive of left-wing extremists is a familiar one to readers of the American press. It has been a staple of conservative Republican doctrine since 1932. In itself, this does not make the point incorrect, although it suggests that it is a bit musty. Reminiscent of the analysis that has been nurtured for decades in places such as the National Review, New Democrats have a tendency to argue at a level of abstract generalization that permits them to leap over some facts that would otherwise puncture their case. The first set of facts is historical. With the exception of McGovern in 1972, in five of the last six presidential campaigns, the Democratic candidates--Humphrey, Carter, Mondale, and Dukakis--ran as centrists. Humphrey was the establishment candidate against Robert Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy. Carter ran as a conservative southerner moderate on race. The centerpiece of Mondale's campaign (for which Galston served as chief issues adviser) was deficit reduction. And Dukakis ran as a technocrat who, until the last two weeks of his campaign, avoided attacking Ronald Reagan because he didn't want to sound too partisan. Even McGovern didn't run as a "tax and spend" Democrat; a central part of his platform was a proposal for a huge middle-class tax cut. Indeed, the Carter presidency--the failure of which still weighs heavily on the Democratic psyche--was the exemplar of the New Democrat spirit. The New Republic reports that when Al From talked with Carter about forming the DLC, the latter said: 'Boy, could I have used a DLC to back me up.' [...] Naureckas concludes that 'when the "pragmatists" lose badly with their centrist approach, they are repainted after the fact as radicals, so the strategy of tilting to the right can be tried again and again.'"

"After 48 Years, Democrats Still Haven't Gotten the Memo: Lewis Powell once drafted a how-to guide for maximizing political power. Only one party took his advice. Here's how Democrats can catch up."

Michael Moore at Common Dreams, "30 Years Ago: The Day the Middle Class Died: From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated. Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, 'When did this all end?', I say, 'It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981.' Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to 'go for it' -- to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves. And they've succeeded. On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who'd defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days." Moore overlooks a lot of what came before (like the 1973 HMO bill that made profiteering off of medical care legal), but make no mistake: The firing of the air traffic controllers was a very big deal. And it wouldn't have happened without the help of an unlikely culprit.

Never forget that when it came to reproductive rights, Barack Obama never missed a chance to spit in our eyes: "As of this writing, House Democrats passed a health care reform bill that would extend the principles of the Hyde Amendment to proposed overhaul of the health care system, and further block federal subsidies for private health insurance that covers abortion care. While President Obama reportedly opposed the move, he told Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News in July that there is a 'tradition' in Washington 'of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care.' [31]".

An oldie but a goodie, "One Chart About Income Inequality That Will Make Your Blood Boil"

I can't believe people are still throwing out the "Bernie Sanders has no accomplishments" meme. Bernie Sanders' Accomplishments.

Pink Floyd, "Comfortably Numb"

Monday, July 29, 2019

And there are no truths outside the gates of Eden

So, after Pelosi and her pals painted a target on Ilhan Omar's back and spent the last few weeks dissing her, AOC, Tlaib and Pressley in the press, Donald Trump picked up his cues and attacked them. So Bernie Sanders asked in one of his campaign's regular fundraising letters that supporters send some of the money they were going to give him to these four women. The H8% was ready with angry threads about how the evil Bernie was "using" them to fundraise. (I liked this response.)

And speaking of that, "Moderate Democrats Warn That AOC Is Distracting From Their Nonexistent Message: Moderate Democrats are sick and tired of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her 'squad' dominating the headlines. Thus, to ensure that those four progressive congresswomen do not garner any additional media attention, several House moderates decided to complain about them anonymously in interviews with CNN Wednesday. [...] If your goal is to galvanize media attention around bread-and-butter issues, whining to Jake Tapper seems like a less effective tactic than, say, taking interesting stances on bread-and-butter issues. And yet, as Vox's Matt Yglesias notes, it has been House moderates — not Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, or AOC — who have prevented House Democrats from advancing several of their most compelling messaging bills. Nancy Pelosi's caucus finally passed a $15 federal minimum wage Thursday. But Pelosi had promised to pass that (popular) policy within 100 hours after assuming the speakership. Instead, it has taken seven months for her to grind down moderate opposition. Meanwhile, centrist Democrats have blocked their party from passing a bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a measure that would effectively transfer large sums of money out of Big Pharma's profit margins and into seniors' pockets. This a winning issue in every district in the country (at least, if you value the approval of voters more than lobbyists)."

And from The Onion, "Pelosi Concerned Outspoken Progressive Flank Of Party Could Harm Democrats' Reputation As Ineffectual Cowards"

It's not funny. Seriously, DDay: Pelosi's Bargaining Chip: Privatize the VA Faster?: While we're consumed with racist tweets, an important discussion about how government dollars will be spent is happening right now. There's something of a fiscal cliff coming in the next couple months, as the annual budget must be approved by the end of September, the debt limit must be lifted, and without a multi-year budget deal sequestration would return. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin did something stupid in negotiations by tipping his hand, noting that the debt limit would be reached by September and asking for a short-term extension. Speaker Pelosi jumped on that. There won't be a short-term debt limit deal, making the White House more desperate to agree to terms. What Pelosi appears to be angling for is this: parity between defense and non-defense spending, and several billion dollars extra for the VA MISSION Act, which privatizes the VA. And I think that's it." Yes, that's right, Nancy Pelosi thought that instead of getting something we need, she would use her leverage to privatize the VA faster.

Aidan Smith in The Nation, "The Overlooked Difference Between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren: It's their approach to party politics—not policy—that truly sets the progressive senators apart. [...] There's only so much a Democratic majority could accomplish as long as the party's institutions are ridden with hedge fund managers, defense contractors, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and other actors whose interests are in diametric opposition to the progressive reforms that Sanders and Warren champion. In the two years since Trump's inauguration, the leadership of the Democratic Party has invested far more time and energy into curbing potential opposition from its left than it has to resisting the total acquisition of America's political institutions by the far right. Sanders intimately understands this. Warren, irrespective of her personal beliefs, does not operate as if she does, and that could prove a major impediment to achieving her policy goals."

Bernie Sanders has an answer to school busing - for today.

Bernie Sanders speaks during NAACP forum in Detroit

"Sanders Tops Democrats' List Of Most Liked 2020 Candidates: Gallup: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the Democratic Party's most liked 2020 presidential candidate, according to a new Gallup survey released Friday. Out of 10 candidates ranked in the poll, Gallup found that Democrats had the most favorable opinion of Sanders, with 72 percent of respondents indicating a favorable view of the senator. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been leading every national poll of the 2020 roster, earned the second-highest favorable rating from Democrats, at 69 percent."

And let's see how the latest smear against Ilhan Omar is created and propagated....

Katie Halper at FAIR, "MSNBC's Anti-Sanders Bias Makes It Forget How to Do Math" — It's just amazing how the folks at MSBBC just can't seem to read a poll.

Mysteriously, no one seems to want you to know that there is bill and that it's actually advancing. This is weird, because it's a good thing. Let your representatives know you're watching. "Alex Lawson: We WILL Expand Social Security" on The Zero Hour.

"Sanders and Warren voters have astonishingly little in common: His backers are younger, make less money, have fewer degrees and are less engaged in politics."

"How Texas Accidentally Legalized Marijuana" - that moment when you legalize low levels of THC and then realize you have no way to test levels of THC.

David Atkins in The Washington Monthly, "What's the Point of Democratic Leaders Insulting AOC and Friends? [...] Actively dissing the party's most energized base to a national columnist makes no sense unless you actively believe that the energized base isn't just potentially losing the votes of a handful of people who would be irrelevant but for their irrational empowerment by the electoral college, but rather that the energized base truly speaks for only a tiny minority of the country." It really does seem like Pelosi is out of her mind.

This is Ryan Grim talking about Tiffany Caban's attempt to become DA in Queens. She won the primary but then the machine decided to disallow some of the ballots. She's fighting it, but we will see what happens.

"Nancy Pelosi Has Lost Control: New York's corrupt machine is running its own show for House Democrats. Two days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called a meeting admonishing her caucus to stop publicly criticizing each other on Twitter, the official House Democrats Twitter account launched a public broadside against a staffer for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The tweet itself is a cheap smear, the strain of context-free character assassination deployed by 4chan-dwellers and alt-right agitators, assailing a prominent liberal with a snippet of an old Twitter conversation. Two days later, party leaders are hoping everyone will forget the whole thing, and President Donald Trump's racist rant targeting Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) has sucked up most of the oxygen in Washington. But the House Dems' tweet carries a symbolic power that a turn of the news cycle can't erase. One of Pelosi's top lieutenants, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the caucus chair, effectively declared war on Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti on Friday night. Nobody in leadership has apologized for it, recanted or publicly rebuked anyone. The tweet is still live. Not since Anthony Weiner's sexual misconduct scandal in 2011 had the Democratic Party leadership targeted one of its own with such ferocity. Divided over how to oppose Trump and his agenda, party leadership attempted to purge its own ranks, and only eased up when the president himself attacked the same members that leadership had been blasting for weeks." Of course, the alternative view is that Nancy Pelosi hasn't lost control, and sounding like Trump just doesn't bother her.

Ryan Grim is in The Washington Post saying more about Democratic history. "Haunted by the Reagan era: Past defeats still scare older Democratic leaders — but not the younger generation Newly elected Democrats in the House of Representatives spent June 27 with the sinking feeling that it was happening again: Their party was going to cave to President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on a viscerally emotional issue. Just after a searing photo circulated of a father and his young daughter who had drowned in each other's arms while fleeing for the sanctuary of U.S. shores, Democrats in Congress let a GOP-drafted spending bill go through that did nothing to address conditions for detained immigrant children — abandoning a House version that would have ordered improvements. House leaders blamed Senate Democrats for capitulating; Senate Democrats attacked the House for poor negotiating. [...] Frustration with the refusal to stand up for principle is boiling over among younger Democrats. On issue after issue — impeachment, Medicare-for-all, a $15 minimum wage, free public college, a Green New Deal — the answer from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other Democratic leaders is consistent: Now is not the time; the country isn't ready. Push too fast or too far, and there'll be a backlash."

Unbelievably, Kamala Harris is tooting her own horn about her role in the prosecutions of the criminal banksters. "Kamala Harris' Claims About Her Record on Big Banks 'Doesn't Withstand a Moment's Scrutiny': Dayen said today: 'Kamala Harris's role in the failed attempt to hold banks accountable for stealing homes from families during the foreclosure crisis was no more or less tragic than that of many other officials. But now that she's running for president, Harris is not only eliding responsibility for her part in the failure, but claiming it as an outright success. That claim doesn't withstand a moment's scrutiny.'"

When the worst people in the world hate your candidate: "Haim Saban loves every Democratic candidate . . . except Bernie Sanders, who he thinks is turning Dems against AIPAC [...] Saban, who is worth an estimated $3.2 billion, has donated millions of dollars to Democrats and pro-Israel efforts throughout the years alongside his wife Cheryl, president of their Saban Family Foundation. 'The basic strategy is 50-50. Meaning for every dollar we give in America, we give a dollar in Israel,' he says in the interview."

Saying what mustn't be said: "Ilhan Omar: Obama's a 'pretty face' who got 'away with murder': Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar ripped former President Barack Obama in an interview published Friday, belittling his 'pretty face' and saying his agenda of hope and change was an illusion. She cited the 'caging of kids' at the Mexican border and the 'droning of countries around the world' on Obama's watch — and argued that he wasn't much different from President Trump. 'We can't be only upset with Trump,' the freshman firebrand told Politico Magazine. 'His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,' Omar said. 'And that's not what we should be looking for anymore. We don't want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.'"

"House Democrats Are Panicked About Primaries, And New York Shows How Potent They Can Be: A SPECTER IS haunting the House of Representatives: the specter of primaries. All the powers of the status quo have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter. Blacklists have been drawn up; arms have been locked. The ferocity with which House Democratic incumbents have rallied around each other reached absurd new dimensions this week. With Crisanta Duran, the first Latina state House speaker in Colorado history, challenging Rep. Diana Degette, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus weighed into the primary — on behalf of Degette. "

"Bernie Sanders' Democratic Socialism Speech Was a Landmark: In a single speech, Bernie showed why he's an existential threat to the political establishment. He decried poverty and exploitation and named capitalism as the culprit and democratic socialism as the solution.

I think this paragraph from Bill Scher's "How the Democratic Netroots Died" is funny: "In March 2008, a group of Daily Kos diarists who backed Clinton staged a virtual walkout in protest of the site's tilt toward Obama. Moulitsas shot back that Clinton's refusal to drop out showed she was 'eager to split the party apart in her mad pursuit of power.' His Crashing the Gate co-author, Armstrong, saw the race differently; in his view, Clinton 'showed signs of being accountable to the netroots movement' while Obama 'didn't need the netroots' and 'was basically an identity-politics cult' leader. Armstrong later quit blogging and worked for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2012."

RIP: "1960s prankster Paul Krassner, who named Yippies, dies at 87: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul Krassner, the publisher, author and radical political activist on the front lines of 1960s counterculture who helped tie together his loose-knit prankster group by naming them the Yippies, died Sunday in Southern California, his daughter said. [...] The Yippies, who included Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman and were otherwise known as the Youth International Party, briefly became notorious for such stunts as running a pig for president and throwing dollar bills onto the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange." He had worked for Mad but caught my attention when he published The Realist for years and I was one of his admirers, even more so when I found out that before the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, he had been "Jane". I found him standing next to me that day on the Ellipse while we were watching Abbie Hoffman chase the pig around (before being arrested for wearing that shirt). I talked to him for a bit but I didn't tell him he was one of my heroes.

RIP: "Former US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died at the age of 99, after suffering a stroke.. One of the longest-serving US justices, he was on the liberal side of the court despite being appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford. He wrote more dissenting opinions than any other Supreme Court Justice in US history, and retired in 2010." During the Bush years, we all spent a lot of time hoping Stevens would outlast the administration, Al Franken, then doing a show on Air America Radio, wrote a song to the tune of "Hang On, Sloopy" with the lyrics, "Hang on, Stevens." Sadly, no one seems to have saved it to YouTube as a historical artifact.

RIP: "Rip Torn, cult actor, dies aged 88:" Huh, I hadn't realized the role that made Jack Nicholson famous was originally written for Rip Torn. Check out the video of Torn and Norman Mailer actually coming to blows.

"Nancy Pelosi's renewed attacks on AOC aren't just disrespectful, they're dangerous: America is becoming an increasingly hostile place for women and for people of color. Pelosi's constant public attacks against the four newly elected women of color aren't just disrespectful, they're dangerous. Whether she means to or not, her repeated insinuations that the Squad are rabble-rousing upstarts who are undermining the Democratic party helps bolster the right's vitriolic narratives about the congresswomen. As America grows increasingly brazen in its bigotry, Pelosi should be aggressively standing up for her freshman colleagues, not trying to tear them down. So why isn't she?

Elizabeth Spiers in The New Republic, "Beyond Pelosi: Why impeachment can't penetrate the cult of D.C. savvy.: Every time I see Nancy Pelosi patiently spell out the higher political wisdom of refraining from impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, I think of Alan Greenspan. That's obviously not because the speaker of the House and the famously tight-lipped former Fed chair have any affinities of political outlook or personal temperament. Rather, it's because as a former financial journalist, I'm reminded of how Greenspan's observers in the financial industry tended to project all manner of genius onto him simply because he refused to articulate, in any concrete way that involved anything so crass as a narrative, what he was thinking or doing. For market watchers and finance industry savants, Greenspan was a human koan upon which they were expected to puzzle out their own economic enlightenment. If you didn't get it, you were the idiot. And now I get the sense that Pelosi's refusal to articulate her strategy with regard to Trump is being met with the same familiar projection of assumed good faith and competence."

Atrios on the fundamental error of wonkiness on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, "Bending The Cost Curve: Too often lost in all the discussion of ACA is that its prime architects were just fundamentally wrong. This is not an argument that ACA should not have been passed, it's an argument that the wonks who had all those wonky wonk wonk profiles written about them as they were getting rich on grifting in various ways were wrong about what they saw as the fundamental problems - and solutions to - our private insurance system. [...] Imagine being in the hospital waiting for your chemo treatment and hearing the president telling you that the problem with our health care system is that people don't have enough "skin in the game." The thing about health care is that you do, by definition, have skin in the game. Your fucking skin."

"Most Veterans Say America's Wars Are a Waste. No One's Listening to Them. There's a widening gap between Washington's bipartisan militarism and veterans' bipartisan war-skepticism. [...] The only meaningful variation pollsters found among vets was by party identification: Republican-identifying veterans were likelier to approve of the wars. But even a majority of those GOP vets now say the wars were not worth waging."

Not only is he a creepy bully and the most disgusting quisling Dem in Congress, but "Rep. Josh Gottheimer Is A Really, Really Terrible Boss, Former Staffers Say [...] I heard from staffers who worked for him when he was a lawyer at the Federal Communications Commission ('Josh Gottheimer is the biggest [jerk] I have ever worked for, ever') to his time at the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller ('He was a terror there') to his first campaign for Congress ('When I was reading those [Sen. Amy] Klobuchar stories, I was like, maybe Gottheimer isn't unique') to his congressional office ('Never experienced anything like it. Narcissistic, egotistical sociopath')." His priority is fundraising and he's sitting on a pile of cash, so going after him will be hard if anyone tries to primary him.

Robert Kuttner, "Neoliberalism: Political Success, Economic Failure: The invisible hand is more like a thumb on the scale for the world's elites. That's why market fundamentalism has been unmasked as bogus economics but keeps winning politically. Since the late 1970s, we've had a grand experiment to test the claim that free markets really do work best. This resurrection occurred despite the practical failure of laissez-faire in the 1930s, the resulting humiliation of free-market theory, and the contrasting success of managed capitalism during the three-decade postwar boom. Yet when growth faltered in the 1970s, libertarian economic theory got another turn at bat. This revival proved extremely convenient for the conservatives who came to power in the 1980s. The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism—from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries. [...] Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. Enterprise has been richly rewarded, taxes have been cut, and regulation reduced or privatized. The economy is vastly more unequal, yet economic growth is slower and more chaotic than during the era of managed capitalism. Deregulation has produced not salutary competition, but market concentration. Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration."

I often get the feeling that people demanding programs that only benefit black people are actually trying to undermine programs that would massively benefit black people. "Stuck: The Absence of a Political Argument in the Debate Over Reparations: On June 17, in Washington, D.C., Reverend William Barber and the Poor People's Campaign hosted a presidential forum as a part of its three-day event called the Poor People's Moral Action Congress. In his discussions with each presidential candidate, Reverend Barber hewed to questions that focused tightly on the way that voter disenfranchisement, especially disenfranchisement of Black voters, helps to maintain poverty for people of all races. He, in fact, took pains to note that the states most impacted by voter suppression also tend to be the states with the highest rates of overall poverty. To underline this insight, he consistently returned to the point that our nation's 140 million low-wage workers and people in poverty, while disproportionately Black, is, in raw numbers, majority white. Consistent with his efforts to take up a modern-day version of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr's mission, Reverend Barber has taken on his messaging as well, [...] Since that writing, the common circumstances to which Reed refers have only grown more stark. Despite the relative historical weakness of the left and labor, and the nation's growing wealth concentration and general economic insecurity, the potential for solidarity continues to grow. It's not difficult to see the call for reparations, as Reed does, as an attempt to weaken that potential."

I can't remember if I posted this when it first came out, but since it keeps being thrown out as an example of how government can't do anything right, here's Barry Ritholtz, "Congress, Not Amazon, Messed Up the Post Office: Legislators passed a law that made the USPS less competitive with the private sector."

In The Atlantic, "Power Causes Brain Damage: How leaders lose mental capacities — most notably for reading other people — that were essential to their rise If power were a prescription drug, it would come with a long list of known side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. It can even make Henry Kissinger believe that he's sexually magnetic. But can it cause brain damage?"

Atrios reminded me of this oldie from The Onion, which is like every political argument I see lately: "This War Will Destabilize The Entire Mideast Region And Set Off A Global Shockwave Of Anti-Americanism vs. No It Won't"

"Stop Being a Tool for Asshole Anonymous Sources [...] So, what we have here is a Democratic aide on the Hill essentially accusing AOC of being a fake woman of color and a puppet for white liberals. That's an extremely serious and offensive charge. And yet we have no idea who leveled it."

I would have saved myself a lot of disappointment if I'd seen Rolling Stone's review of the TV adaptation of Catch-22, and the one from The New York Times, before I started watching it, but really, it left me a sputtering wreck. What the Stone and the Times don't tell you is that all of the horrible things that happen in the book because of blind chance, stupid bureaucracy, sadistic and callous officers, or just because war is war, happen in the TV show because Yossarian - er, pardon me, some guy who introduces himself as "Yo-Yo" (as Yossarian would never do) - is a callous, sloppy, selfish, thoughtless jerk who is single-minded for no reason even though Snowden hasn't even died yet. That's just leaving aside the fact that the book's wildly different and distinguished characters are all almost identical cut-outs in the TV show - even Orr is just another guy (who, by the way, doesn't do anything interesting like keep crashing his planes even though he's a brilliant pilot, have crabapples in his mouth, winterize the tent, or have oracular conversations with Yossarian). And: Hungry Joe's story is cut out of the script, of course, but that's no excuse for Yo-Yo being unaware that the paperwork always gets delayed when you finish your required number of missions so you have to keep flying anyway. (The show even leaves the impression that the number of missions keep getting raised not because Cathcart is a prick, but because Yo-Yo keeps getting under his skin.) And, for a final insult, Yo-Yo doesn't finally get Orr's message, but instead gets out of the war by doing what Yossarian would never do.

On the other hand, I didn't know what to expect from the movie Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, and I was charmed and touched by the story of a psych prof and his wife and their girlfriend who designed the lie detector as part of the larger project that resulted in the Wonder Woman comic.

"He was buried in a casket labeled: "Flight Recorder Inventor: Do Not Open.". The boy's father had died in a plane wreck, so he set about designing a recording device that would be likely to survive a crash and tell the tale.

"Oh My God, Jojo Rabbit Brought Back the Downfall Meme"

Bob Dylan and Neil Young, live, "Gates of Eden"