Wednesday, January 19, 2022

But in my mind I know they will still live on and on

"This Iceberg Photo Is Perfectly Divided into Four Satisfying Quadrants: Although it was captured back in 2007 this photo from Canadian photographer David Burdeny still remains one of the coolest iceberg photos in existence thanks to perfect composition and symmetry that separates the photo into four different sections of colour and texture. Rising perfectly out of the Weddel Sea the iceberg photo is titled 'Mercators Projection,' and is taken from the series 'North/South' photographed during a trip to Antartica and Greenland."

"Bernie Sanders says Democrats are failing: 'The party has turned its back on the working class': Senator Bernie Sanders has called on Democrats to make 'a major course correction' that focuses on fighting for America's working class and standing up to 'powerful corporate interests' because the Democrats' legislative agenda is stalled and their party faces tough prospects in this November's elections."

"The Supreme Court takes up a case, brought by Ted Cruz, that could legalize bribery: Ted Cruz wants the Court to kill an important anti-corruption law."

Here's Lea Litman live-tweeting Supreme Court arguments in the case that's really about whether the executive branch or Congress can delegate the CDC to mandate health measures — or for any other agency to do its job. Scott Lemieux reports on the opinion. :"Republican Majority of the Supreme Court arbitrarily re-writes statute to conform to anti-vaxx Republican orthodoxy." As Scott points out, in the tradition of Bush v. Gore, the majority opinion was so shameful that no one was willing to put their name on it, but the joint dissent by Breyer, Sontomayor, and Kagan spells out just how egregious the decision is.

I guess once Michelle hugged W, it was all going to go this way. Can't wait to see them hugging Trump. Juan Cole says, "Dick Cheney says he doesn't Recognize current GOP, but he Helped pave way for Insurrection." After all, Cheney was at least as corrupt as Trump, but so much better at it. This guy was actually a serving Vice President of the United States and still on the payroll of Haliburton while he shuffled a whole load of no-bid, no-responsibility contracts to them. But now Democrats are toasting Cheneys like they toasted W with no recognition of what enemies of democracy these people always have been.

"Dick Cheney Should Be in Jail, Not Praised as a Hero by Democrats [...] I find it difficult to put into words how shameful venerating Cheney like this is by anyone, much less the country's supposed left-wing party — and it's particularly jarring given that Cheney has dedicated his career to attacking democracy, the very thing the ceremony was supposedly in opposition to. It's necessary to remember a bit of history here. Cheney was the most powerful vice president in US history. He is most remembered for his role in promoting the Iraq War, an illegal war of aggression predicated on lies, as well as pushing the nation to the 'dark side' after 9/11, which included torture, detention without trial (including of US citizens), warrantless surveillance, and other egregious departures from liberal norms of democracy."

"New Legal Filing in Mumia's Case: With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal's attorneys have filed a PCRA petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA's office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464 ) The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state's two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection — a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won't know for at least a month. "

"The Bronx Fire Was Not Only a Tragedy, but Also a Housing Injustice: The fire, New York's deadliest in decades, shows why pandemic-era housing policy Band-Aids aren't enough. WITHIN 12 HOURS of New York City's deadliest fire in decades, which killed 17 people in the Bronx on Sunday night, officials were willing and able to apportion blame. 'A space heater is blamed for the deadly fire in a Bronx apartment building,' noted a New York Times headline Monday; New York Mayor Eric Adams had announced as much in a statement. The explanation was not so much false as it was wildly insufficient. The blaze was indeed reportedly sparked by a malfunctioning space heater. This alone was not enough to kill 17 tenants, including eight children, and leave dozens more hospitalized in critical condition. According to reports, the fire itself was contained to one apartment. Dense black smoke, meanwhile, spread through the entire 19-story building, through an apartment door that, were it in line with New York City codes since 2018, should have been self-closing." It was cold, the landlords still hadn't done anything to fix the heat. They'd ignored a lot of housing violations, in fact. And they were on the new mayor's transition team so it's unlikely he's going to go hard on them. And that's not all. But New Yorkers are already starting to suspect they elected what one local called "black Giuliani".

"Why US Prisons Don't Want Prisoners To Read: As one of the many calculated cruelties that define the US prison-industrial complex, the long assault on prisoners' ability to read books while incarcerated is sinister, inhumane, and must be stopped." Video and Transcript (16:38).

"US War Lobby Fuels Conflict in Russia, Ukraine, and Syria: Ex-Pentagon Advisor: A former senior advisor at the Pentagon confirms what was obvious to those who pay attention. The Military Industrial Congressional Complex is more powerful than anyone who occupies the office of the presidency. Col. Doug Macgregor, an ex-Pentagon advisor, on how the US war lobby fuels conflict from Ukraine to Syria. Washington, DC, he says, is 'occupied territory. It's occupied by corporations, by lobbies.' Douglas Macgregor, a retired US Army Colonel and former Pentagon senior advisor, analyzes the US-Russia standoff in Ukraine; the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan; Trump's failure to act on 2016 campaign anti-interventionist rhetoric, only to surround himself with neocons; and the ongoing, overlooked US military occupation of Syria after the decade-long CIA dirty war. [...] We didn't pay any attention. We attacked him viciously. We essentially ignored any of his expression of concern or interest in Ukraine from the standpoint of Moscow's national security. And we have always refused to acknowledge the Russian concern that NATO is threatening to Russia. We've insisted, 'Absolutely not.' But we don't have far to look over the last 20 years at the various regime change operations that Washington has staged to appreciate Putin's concerns. But instead of addressing those concerns in a substantive way, taking into account what Russia's interests are, we've essentially said that they're illegitimate, and the only interests that are legitimate are our own and those of our quote-unquote NATO allies."

"There's a News Blackout on the Fed's Naming of the Banks that Got Its Emergency Repo Loans; Some Journalists Appear to Be Under Gag Orders: Four days ago, the Federal Reserve released the names of the banks that had received $4.5 trillion in cumulative loans in the last quarter of 2019 under its emergency repo loan operations for a liquidity crisis that has yet to be credibly explained. Among the largest borrowers were JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, three of the Wall Street banks that were at the center of the subprime and derivatives crisis in 2008 that brought down the U.S. economy. That's blockbuster news. But as of 7 a.m. this morning, not one major business media outlet has reported the details of the Fed's big reveal. [...] Those Fed revelations, that had been withheld from the American people for two years, should have made front page headlines in newspapers and on the digital front pages of every major business news outlet. Instead, there was a universal news blackout of the story at the largest business news outlets, including: Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal, the business section of the New York Times, the Financial Times, Dow Jones' MarketWatch, and Reuters."

A couple years ago, Luke Savage wrote this book review: "The Real Working Class Is Invisible to the Media: The media doesn't talk much about working-class America. But when it does, it mainly has one thing to say about it: that it's entirely white, male, and very right-wing. All those things are lies. [...] Central to this story is the decline of labor reporting, once a mainstay of major dailies. Today, by contrast, as Martin puts it: 'A conference gathering of labor/workforce beat reporters from the country's leading newspapers could fit into a single booth at an Applebee's.' Of the country's top twenty-five newspapers, he notes, a majority no longer covers the workplace/labor beat on a full-time basis, and the landscape for such reporting appears to be even bleaker on television (one 2013 survey cited by Martin, for example, reveals that only 0.3 percent of network TV news in the years 2008, 2009, and 2011 covered labor issues)." This led to his recent look back at the subject of labor coverage, "How the New York Times Covered Two Transit Strikes, 42 Years Apart: The vastly disparate NY Times coverage of two NYC transit strikes illustrates the dramatic transformation of mainstream coverage of working-class life in recent years. As media companies chase an upper-crust audience, workers have been erased."

RJ Eskow originally wrote in 2010 about the documents that established MERS was an illegal scam. It still amazes me that no one thought it worthwhile to put a stop to something that was designed to evade transfer fees and avoid proper registration of properties. And it's still going on. And these people still belong in prisons. "Pictures of MERS, Part 1: Corporate Documents Illustrate the Mortgage Shell Game."

Ryan Grim in 2009 on "Priceless: How The Federal Reserve Bought The Economics Profession: The Federal Reserve, through its extensive network of consultants, visiting scholars, alumni and staff economists, so thoroughly dominates the field of economics that real criticism of the central bank has become a career liability for members of the profession, an investigation by the Huffington Post has found. This dominance helps explain how, even after the Fed failed to foresee the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, the central bank has largely escaped criticism from academic economists. In the Fed's thrall, the economists missed it, too."

It's worth remembering Obama's betrayal of letting homeowners drown while he saved the banks and let them keep right on running scams like MERS, because right now Democrats are pretending they can "save democracy" with some prosecutions of the January 6th rioters. But that already seems to be falling apart and it does nothing to alleviate the real causes of the right, which is a continuing betrayal of the democracy and the public. It was, as Sirota says, "a predictable riot," and it's not over yet. "Democrats have coupled this pro-democracy theater with high-profile betrayals of the working class — from dropping a $15 minimum wage to ending the expanded child tax credit, to refusing to eliminate student debt, to killing paid family and sick leave proposals in the middle of a pandemic. Most recently, Biden's spokesperson scoffed at the idea of delivering free COVID tests to people's homes, Biden's consultants aided Big Pharma's efforts to kill promised drug-pricing legislation, and Biden's White House is promising no more stimulus legislation, no matter how much worse the pandemic gets. [...] As a recent Gallup poll shows trust in government further cratering under Biden, Democrats' theory seems to be the opposite of Roosevelt's truism — they seem to believe that a working class facing unending precarity would never dare 'sacrifice liberty in the hope of getting something to eat,' and that simply screaming about the end of what's left of democracy is a winning formula. Democratic Rep. Abby Spanberger perfectly summarized these beliefs when she recently declared that "Nobody elected (Biden) to be FDR, they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos' — as if 'stopping the chaos' has absolutely nothing to do with delivering FDR-like help to millions of angry people struggling to survive."

RIP: "Sidney Poitier, Black acting pioneer, dies aged 94: Poitier, who was born in Miami and raised in the Bahamas, was the first Black winner of the best actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field and, along with Harry Belafonte, was a pioneering Black presence in mainstream Hollywood cinema." I think I saw that movie once on my black and white TV set one afternoon, but I first saw him at the local movie house in A Patch of Blue and was impressed at how he loomed so large. We all loved him in To Sir, With Love, of course, and then he was in one of my private favorites, Sneakers, so yeah, he was a really big deal. Some people say he made all the others possible.

RIP: "Dwayne Hickman, TV's Dobie Gillis, has died at 87 [...] Hickman's TV and movie career ebbed and flowed through the 1970s, and he went on to work as a talent director a the Howard Hughes-owned Las Vegas Landmark Hotel casino, then a program director at CBS, overseeing M.A.S.H., Dukes of Hazzard, Designing Women, and Maude, The Associated Press reports. He started studying painting in the late 1980s. But for many people he was always Gillis, the lovesick teenager who never quite got the girl." Well, sure, he was always Dobie Gillis, but I still liked him in Cat Ballou. Zelda herself had some nice things to say on Twitter.

RIP: "Michael Lang, an organizer and producer of Woodstock, dies at 77 [...] Lang's death was confirmed by a representative, Maureen O'Connor, who said he died of complications due to lymphoma in New York City. Lang helped organize not only the original 1969 festival but also the 1994 Woodstock, as well as the disastrous 1999 Woodstock. Although he is arguably best known for helping to organize the historic festival, his career included managing music icons like Billy Joel and Joe Cocker, as well as producing numerous rock concerts."

RIP: Director, actor, writer, and critic Peter Bogdanovich, at 82. From Orson Welles to The Last Picture Show to Cybill Shepherd to some essential books on film (and even a good rock and roll movie), He was everywhere and got a lot of mileage, even if he was a bit... unreliable.

"The Second Coming of Octavia E. Butler: Sixteen years after the visionary novelist's death, Hollywood is bringing a slew of her intense sci-fi novels to the screen. The ground Octavia E. Butler covered in her 15 novels and two story collections is traceable—but you need time. In the '70s, '80s, and '90s, when Butler published the bulk of her work, she, Samuel Delany, and Ursula K. Le Guin were the only significant science fiction authors attempting such ideologically ambitious stories within the genre, placing left-of-center national politics and local histories right at the core of their plots. But genre fiction was historically not considered the breeding ground for the great American novel, especially if you were Black, gay, and/or a woman (all three authors were at least one of the above). In recent years, we've seen the tremendous literary contributions of these politically insightful sci-fi writers fêted rather than ghettoized. For Butler—unlike Le Guin, who died in 2018, and Delany, who is 79—the peak of her recognition has arrived posthumously."

"More American Girl Dolls with glasses: American Girl, a famous brand that makes 18-inch dolls, has many issues. Their dolls' skin colors, hair and other looks aren't very diverse, their accessories are the same kind of items, they're overpriced, and more. But the issue we're addressing in this petition is the lack of dolls that come with eye glasses. American Girl has made 50 character dolls as of January 2022. If we're being realistic, 19 more of the 50 character dolls should have glasses." This comes with a petition.

I'm just putting this one here for my own reference: "Beware the Moderate Democrat: Why the centrist extremists are an incredibly dangerous political animal" — They claim to be moderate and brand themselves as "the center", but they represent only 3.8% of the population.

"The private monorail tunnel under North London: Under North London, there exists a private underground monorail service, some 20km long, running from Elstree to St John's Wood in the centre of town. You can't ride on the monorail, and it's not an escape route for Royals or rich oligarchs, it's actually owned by the electricity grid — and it's their inspection railway."

"The Secret History of Holywell Street: Home to Victorian London's Dirty Book Trade: Victorian sexuality is often considered synonymous with prudishness, conjuring images of covered-up piano legs and dark ankle-length skirts. Historian Matthew Green uncovers a quite different scene in the sordid story of Holywell St, 19th-century London's epicentre of erotica and smut." (Thanks, Moshe!)

"Doctor Who on Holiday" by Dean Gray (ft. Green Day & The Timelords)

Lulu, "To Sir, With Love"

Friday, January 7, 2022

St. Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go

Kuttner, "Democrats Gain Control of a Key Regulatory Agency: Trump's chair of the FDIC, outvoted on a key issue, decides to bail. Democrats will regain firm control of a key regulatory agency, the FDIC, thanks to the abrupt resignation of its Trump-appointed chair, Jelena McWilliams, on New Year's Eve. Her departure takes effect in early February. Martin Gruenberg, a longtime progressive Democrat on the FDIC board and former FDIC chair, will become acting chair once again. The stakes are huge because several major bank regulatory issues will be decided this spring. Here's the backstory. In early December, the three Democrats on the five-member FDIC board formally requested public comments on the need for tighter regulation of bank mergers. McWilliams strenuously objected and tried to block the proposal. She wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal blasting the board majority's move as a 'hostile takeover.' The politics of the situation were briefly complicated when one of the three Democrats, Michael Hsu, a former mid-level Fed official who serves on the FDIC board via his current job as acting comptroller of the currency, momentarily lost his nerve and decided he did not want to cross the FDIC chair. But McWilliams soon learned that the law is not on her side. The FDIC's statute makes clear that the board is the legal authority, and the chair has only such power as the board delegates. At that point, she decided to call it a day, rather than serving as a lame-duck chair with no power, even though her term doesn't expire until mid-2023. This is a windfall for Democrats—and a reward to Gruenberg and the FDIC board's other progressive Democrat, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Rohit Chopra, for playing hardball. With McWilliams gone, Hsu is now expected to vote with the FDIC's other Democrats. All of this matters because in addition to tightening standards for bank mergers, the nation's regulatory agencies will soon act to restore capital and liquidity requirements for big banks, strengthen consideration of climate change in evaluating bank balance sheets, and undertake the first toughening of regulation under the Community Reinvestment Act in a quarter-century."

Jon Schwarz, "Everything Democrats Didn't Do in 2021: From protecting the vote to raising the minimum wage to action on global warming, in the past year, the Democrats did none of it. [...] THAT BRINGS US to 2022, which begins tomorrow. It is, of course, theoretically possible that the Democrats will take significant action on some of these issues in the coming year. But with rare exceptions, that's not how U.S. politics work. The biggest things happen in a president's first year in office, or they don't happen at all."

Branko Marcetic, "Biden's Agenda Is Dying Because the Interests of the Rich and Poor Are Irreconcilable: Joe Biden's rationale for his own presidency was that he could bring oligarchs and working people together and hammer out a compromise that worked for both. The apparent death of his legislative agenda proves what a laughable fantasy that was."

"'Innocence Isn't Enough': Arizona Urges The Supreme Court To Send Barry Jones Back To Death Row: The case has far-reaching implications: Should new evidence be ignored by the federal courts even when it exposes a wrongful conviction? [...] Now in their 30s, the siblings were just kids when their dad was sentenced to die. He'd been accused of an unfathomable crime: the rape and murder of his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter, Rachel. Jones swore he was innocent — and the case against him was flimsy from the start. In 2017, an evidentiary hearing finally dismantled the evidence that sent Jones to death row. The next year, a federal judge overturned his conviction, ordering the state to retry Jones or release him. But that never happened. Instead, Arizona appealed the decision all the way to Washington, D.C."

"A Judge Has Ordered Him Released From Prison—Twice. The Government Still Won't Set Him Free. Bobby Sneed's story highlights how far some government agents will go to keep people locked up, flouting the same legal standards they are charged with upholding. [...] This year was going to be different. The Louisiana Board of Pardons and Committee on Parole voted unanimously to release him months ago. Yet Sneed has remained in prison long past his March 29, 2021, release date and despite a November 18 court decision ordering his release. Another ruling came down early last week: Sneed must be freed, a judge said. And as he was waiting by the gate for pickup, prison officials again refused to release him, instead rearresting him and transferring him to West Feliciana Parish Detention Center in St. Francisville, Louisiana."

"Why bitcoin is worse than a Madoff-style Ponzi scheme: A Ponzi scheme is a zero-sum enterprise. But bitcoin is a negative-sum phenomenon that you can't even pursue a claim against, argues Robert McCauley."

"Cryptocurrencies: A Necessary Scam? "Yes, Web3 is a bunch of bullshit. The problem is, compared to what? For a few years, I've been thinking about why social movements like crypto and bitcoin have so much momentum. I often get emails from proponents of crypto as an anti-monopoly tool, and a lot of smart people that I respect believe that it is based on a groundbreaking technology that will sweep the world. I don't see it that way. I think it's a social movement based on a dangerous get-rich-quick scam. But there's a tremendous amount of goodwill involved, and as with GameStop, the underlying driver of the energy in this movement is mass and legitimate disillusionment with liberal institutions who have failed to deliver."

"Trump's Supreme Court allows Trump's other crank judges to run free: The reactionary hacks Republicans have nominated to lower federal courts have been overrunning Biden administration policy with no serious legal basis. One obvious reason they're doing this is that they know the Court that is theoretically in charge of enforcing its own precedents isn't going to do anything about it: [...] As Milhiser goes on to point out, the Biden administration is showing little resistance, even in cases (like the order to restore the Remain in Mexico policy) where the courts have no real ability to enforce their orders. The Cult of the Court remains powerful no matter how lawless the federal courts get."

"Democrats' Betrayals Are Jeopardizing American Democracy: History is screaming at Democrats to both rescue the economy and save democracy from a meltdown. They're doing the opposite. American democracy is in the midst of a meltdown — the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Republicans' intensifying crusade to limit voting rights and deny election results make that abundantly clear. Conflict-averse Democrats in Washington, D.C., are on the verge of letting this turn into a full-fledged nightmare. Torn between their corporate donors and the electorate, they are studiously avoiding the two key questions: What is really fueling this crisis? And how can it be stopped?"

"The Emma Watson Saga Exposes the Demonisation of Palestine Solidarity: By accusing actress Emma Watson of antisemitism, Israel's apologists have exposed their strategy for defending apartheid: to smear anyone who dares to acknowledge that Palestinians exist."

A couple of graphs show that, "The Real Burglars Aren't Wearing Masks: Across the country and across industries, employers steal billions from workers each year. Minimum wage violation — the act of paying workers below the legal limit — is just one form of wage theft, but it results in at least $15 billion in lost wages annually. In 2015, minimum wage violations cost workers more than all robberies, burglaries, larcenies, and motor vehicle thefts combined."

RIP: "Sarah Weddington, attorney who won Roe v Wade abortion case, dies aged 76 [...] Susan Hays, a Democratic candidate for Texas agriculture commissioner, announced the news on Twitter on Sunday and the Dallas Morning News confirmed it. 'Sarah Weddington died this morning after a series of health issues,' Hays wrote. 'With Linda Coffee, she filed the first case of her legal career, Roe v Wade, fresh out of law school. She was my professor — the best writing instructor I ever had, and a great mentor. 'At 27 she argued Roe to [the supreme court] (a fact that always made me feel like a gross underachiever). Ironically, she worked on the case because law firms would not hire women in the early 70s, leaving her with lots of time for good trouble.'"

RIP: "Beloved TV Icon Betty White Dead on the Cusp of 100th Birthday: A few weeks shy of her 100th birthday, Betty White, the beloved actress and comedian whose career in Hollywood spanned nearly eight decades and included stints on hit shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls, has died.'Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever. I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don't think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again.'" I think a lot of us thought she'd live forever, or at least wanted her to. I was glad to see that she hadn't spent her last days in pain, though. "In an interview with People, published on Dec. 28, White said, 'I'm so lucky to be in such good health and feel so good at this age.'" She was everyone's favorite little old lady. And here's that time Joan Rivers interviewed Betty.

RIP: "Joan Didion, Literary Titan, Dies at 87: Joan Didion, a resounding voice in American literature who insightfully captured the '60s and California through observant and beautiful language, died on Thursday at home in Manhattan. She was 87 years old. The famed writer's cause of death was Parkinson's disease, according to an email sent by her publisher, Paul Bogaards, an executive at Knopf, to The New York Times."
"Joan Didion, in her own words: 23 of the best quotes"

RIP: "Anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu dies aged 90: Desmond Tutu, the South African cleric and social activist who was a giant of the struggle against apartheid, has died aged 90, prompting tributes from religious leaders, politicians and activists from around the world. Tutu, described by observers at home and abroad as the moral conscience of the nation, died in Cape Town on Boxing Day, weeks after the death of FW de Klerk, the country's last white president."

RIP: "Harry Reid, former Senate majority leader and Democratic kingmaker, dies at 82, of pancreatic cancer. Reid was not one of the most liberal Senators, but he fought hard for plenty of liberal causes and he was good at it, unlike what we have now.

"Entertainment Monopolies Are Zombifying Mass Culture: Mass culture is becoming a museum dedicated to itself, its artifacts curated by an ever-narrowing family of conglomerates. Nowhere is that clearer than in the decline of The Simpsons, whose groundbreaking satire was killed by monopoly capitalism."

"Adolph Reed Jr.: The Perils of Race Reductionism: The political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. on the Black Lives Matter movement, the 'rich peoples' wealth gap,' and his Marxism. [...] What looks like an overall racial income gap that's not closing, that's persistent, turns out to be more an effect of rich people getting richer than the rest of us. What Bruenig finds is that 70% of so-called White wealth—or rather, close to 75% of so-called White wealth and close to 75% of so-called Black wealth—are held by the top 10% of each group, and that 97% of the racial wealth gap exists above the median."

"Government Action, Not Consumer Action, Will Stop Climate Change: Pointing the finger at individual consumers has been the default strategy of powerful corporations since the 1950s. Deflect blame for smog or litter or polluted waterways or carcinogens or gun violence away from manufacturers and onto John Q. Public. Make the issue about personal responsibility. 'People start pollution, people can stop it,' said the famous crying Indian ad from the early 1970s, the brainchild of a can and bottle manufacturers trade group. The strategy has worked like a dream because Americans prize personal responsibility. Ronald Reagan was speaking for many of us when he said: 'It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.'"

"Best of 2021: David Dayen: Our executive editor hand-picks his favorite stories of the year." I was particularly interested in "Amazon's Attack on Women's Health," which isn't just about women's health products, but the way Amazon treats its sellers and customers.

Your occasional reminder that Teen Vogue is smarter than a lot of "grown-up" rags. "Billionaires Should Not Exist — Here's Why: This op-ed argues that every billionaire really is a policy failure. [...] We have arrived at an obscene inequality crisis, in which wealth is concentrated in the hands of a powerful few, at the cost of crippling hardship, precarity, and compromised well-being for the many. When a single billionaire can accumulate more money in 10 seconds than their employees make in one year, while workers struggle to meet the basic cost of rent and medicine, then yes, every billionaire really is a policy failure. Here's why."

"Here Comes the Juice: The Expanse Changed How We Think About Sci-Fi Storytelling: We expect space opera to be big—sprawling tales with enormous casts traversing untold star systems and encountering alien beasties beyond human ken. But Amazon Prime's "The Expanse" took a much more intimate, grounded tack: what if we reached the stars, and brought all of our problems—xenophobia, class inequities, our innate knack for self-destruction—along with us?"

Alex McLevy tweeted an image, "I'd like to thank the makers of the 2022 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER calendar for obviously being devoted, passionate fans of the show who can readily identify all the most iconic characters." (Don't miss Andy Lambert's comment here to bring it all into focus.)

"The ancient fabric that no one knows how to make" was once all the rage for the wealthy, but then it completely disappeared.

I have known who Pamela Coleman-Smith was for my entire adult life and have used her most famous work extensively at times, but in all these years, I never knew what she looked like.

Some Google "Easter Eggs"

Eric Burden, "Sixteen Tons"

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Peace

It's Christmas Eve for me, although in truth it's really Christmas morning here where everyone else is asleep in their beds with visions of sugarplums etc. I've decided to pack up documenting the atrocities for the night and just tack the traditional Christmas links up for you to enjoy. Some of us go back to them every year just because. And if you haven't seen them yet, you might just like them. It's a balmy 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3° centigrade) and the rain has been bucketing down all night. So here's some holiday wishes from my avatar and me.
* Mark Evanier's wonderful Mel Tormé story, and here's the man himself in duet with Judy Garland.
* Joshua Held's Christmas card, with a little help from Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters.
* Brian Brink's tour-de-force performance of "The Carol of the Bells"
* "Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime."
* Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol

"That Time the FBI Scrutinized It's a Wonderful Life for Communist Messaging: The film 'deliberately maligned the upper class,' according to a report that didn't like the portrayal of Mr. Potter as a bad guy. [...] According to the FBI report, the informant told the field agent that 'in his opinion, this picture deliberately maligned the upper class, attempting to show the people who had money were mean and despicable characters.' The source also suggested that the film could have been made differently, by portraying Mr. Potter as a conscientious banker who was simply 'following the rules as laid down by the State Bank Examiner in connection with making loans' and as 'a man who was protecting funds put in his care by private individuals and adhering to the rules governing the loan of that money rather than portraying the part as it was shown.' "

"Medicare Privatization Scheme Faced Legal Questions About Profiteering: Government attorneys expressed concerns that the Medicare direct contracting model — begun by Trump, and continued under Biden — was geared to benefit specific companies. [...] The direct contracting model was announced publicly in April 2019 and began its implementation phase in October 2020. The project pays private companies a predetermined but individualized amount per year, per patient, regardless of what the company spends on care, and has persisted and grown under the Biden administration."

Josh Gottheimer is a mendacious little spiv. "Josh Gottheimer's Wild Claims In Rutgers Speech Are Falling Apart: The New Jersey Democrat claimed that a protester screamed 'Jew!' at him and that Jamal Khashoggi's organization has links to Al Qaeda. REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER, a New Jersey Democrat, attacked the organization founded by Jamal Khashoggi on Monday as linked to Al Qaeda, echoing allegations that Saudi officials have leveled to muddy the waters around the state-sanctioned butchering of the Washington Post journalist. In a speech at Rutgers University, Gottheimer criticized the school for hosting Khashoggi's organization for an event. 'At another event, the same group hosted Democracy for the Arab World Now, DAWN, whose officials have connections to Al Qaeda and Hamas networks,' Gottheimer said. 'Hamas sympathizers, or others with ties to other terrorist organizations involved in 9/11, have no place on college campuses. Associates of Palestinian Islamic jihad have no place on this college campus. I know we all believe that hate has no home here. It's time we all practice what we preach.' During his speech, Gottheimer also claimed that at an earlier protest organized by the Working Families Party, somebody had shouted 'Jew!' at him. 'Not long ago, I held an event in my district to talk about the benefits of the bipartisan federal infrastructure bill, only to have members of the Working Families Party disrupt the event by screaming 'Jew' at me,' he said. While he did not specify which event he was referring to, representatives from the Working Families Party say they only showed up at one, on September 20. A review of video of the event provided by the Working Families Party suggests that Gottheimer is either lying or appears to have misheard the protesters. As he left an event out a back door, protesters urged him to engage in one of his regular constituent events that he calls 'Cup of Joe with Josh,' in lieu of town halls that his constituents have demanded. 'This is your Cup of Joe, Josh. This is your Cup of Joe,' yelled Lisa Schwartz of Teaneck, New Jersey. At the time of the protest, Gottheimer was under intense pressure at home and in Washington to get behind Biden's Build Back Better Act. 'That's the only time we saw him, and it was so ridiculous, he avoided us like the plague,' Schwartz, a retired social worker, told The Intercept. 'We just wanted five minutes of his time.'"

"Joe Biden's disgraceful cave on family separation [...] The negotiated deal to offer some measure of compensation to families ripped to pieces by the Trump administration's barbaric policies fell apart because somebody leaked the details of the negotiation to the Wall Street Journal, the fash went predictably nuts about it, and Joe Biden decided that this was a good reason to back out on the whole thing."

"US Army Creates Single Vaccine Effective Against All COVID & SARS Variants, Researchers Say: Within weeks, Walter Reed researchers expect to announce that human trials show success against Omicron—and even future strains. [...] The vaccine's human trials took longer than expected, he said, because the lab needed to test the vaccine on subjects who had neither been vaccinated nor previously infected with COVID. Increasing vaccination rates and the rapid spread of the Delta and Omicron variants made that difficult."

"Purdue Pharma Appeals Judge Strikes Down Opioid Settlement: Purdue Pharma LP's multi-billion dollar opioid settlement was dealt a surprising blow on Thursday when a federal judge reversed a bankruptcy court's earlier approval of the deal. U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon on Thursday struck down the OxyContin maker's sweeping opioid settlement, putting the accord at risk of collapsing. Supporters of the deal have warned that the alternative to a settlement is years of costly -- and potentially fruitless -- litigation. Purdue Pharma said in a statement that it will appeal. In the meantime, it's a victory for a handful of state attorneys general and an arm of the U.S. Justice Department, which have been working to overturn the settlement. Attorneys general from states including Washington, Connecticut and Maryland want to block the deal so they can keep suing Purdue's owners, members of the billionaire Sackler family, over their role in the opioid crisis. The settlement would prevent that, giving Purdue's owners broad legal protections from opioid-related civil lawsuits. McMahon said the drugmaker's bankruptcy judge erred in granting those releases." The settlement would have allowed the Sacklers to protect their billions under a bankruptcy shield.

"Susan Hutson defeats Marlin Gusman in Orleans Parish sheriff's race: First-time candidate Susan Hutson toppled 17-year incumbent Marlin Gusman in the Orleans Parish sheriff's race on Saturday, a stunning rebuke for a seasoned New Orleans politician and a sign that the local progressive movement to reform the criminal justice system is here to stay. With 350 of 351 precincts reporting, Hutson had 53% of the vote to Gusman's 47%. WWL-TV called the race just before 10 p.m. Hutson is the first Black woman elected as a sheriff in Louisiana history. Along with Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams, self-styled reformers of the criminal justice system now control New Orleans' two top elected law enforcement posts, a remarkable reversal in a city that was once one of the most incarcerated places on the planet. Hutson has pledged to double down on efforts to reduce the jail's population, to stop an 89-bed jail expansion, to end charges for phone calls from jail and to bring the lockup into compliance with a federal reform agreement."

"Charges Dismissed Against Motorist Brutalized by SFPD Officers After Accidental Collision in 2018." This is another case that demonstrates that police lie on the stand.

"During Questioning In Albany, NYPD Commissioner Shea Backtracks On Bail Reform Law As Big Reason For Gun Violence." And this one on how lying police commissioners help further the push against bail reform.

RIP: "Michael Nesmith, Monkees Singer-Songwriter, Dead at 78: Monkees singer and guitarist Michael Nesmith, a pop visionary who penned many of the group's most enduring songs before laying the groundwork for country rock with the First National Band in the early Seventies, died Friday from natural causes. He was 78. 'With Infinite Love we announce that Michael Nesmith has passed away this morning in his home, surrounded by family, peacefully and of natural causes,' his family said in a statement. [...] Nesmith was known as the Monkee in the green wool hat with the thick Texas drawl, and the writer of songs like 'Mary, Mary,' 'Circle Sky,' 'Listen to the Band,' and 'The Girl I Knew Somewhere.' But he raged behind the scenes that the group didn't have creative control of its albums, and in 1967 led the successful rebellion against record producer Don Kirshner. The group would subsequently release Headquarters and other albums created largely on its own." I don't think I knew that he wrote "Different Drum" — and that Linda Ronstadt sang it because they wouldn't let the Monkees perform it.
Micky Dolenz gave an interview upon hearing the news: "Micky Dolenz Remembers Michael Nesmith: 'He Was Our Leader the Whole Time': 'You could never, never have talked him out of the farewell tour,' says Dolenz of his 55-year Monkees bandmate. 'He was absolutely determined to finish that tour. [...] Something happened when we sang together, and it always did with us. That was also the case in the comedy, in the shtick we used to do. We just clicked. You can't invent that or force it. It just happens, or it doesn't." (Paywalled.)

RIP: "Gothic Novelist Anne Rice Dead At 80: The author wrote the 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire, which was later adapted into a movie starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in 1994." I have nothing to say about this, I didn't know her, never read the books, didn't even see the movie, but I recognized her place in the genre and know this as a milestone.

RIP: "bell hooks, author and activist, dies aged 69: In acclaimed works Ain't I a Woman and All About Love the writer shared her ideas about race, feminism and romance with flair and compassion. Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her pen name bell hooks, has died aged 69. [...] The author, professor and activist was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1952, and published more than 30 books in her lifetime, covering topics including race, feminism, capitalism and intersectionality."

"The Media Is Rewriting Bob Dole's History as a Vicious Right-Wing Attack Dog: Today, pundits are pretending that Bob Dole, who died this past weekend, was a patron saint of compromise and decency. But for virtually his whole career, Dole was an unscrupulous partisan warrior who did big favors for wealthy donors and pushed a radical anti-government agenda."

"What if Everything You Know About Murder Rates and Policing Is Wrong? Five common myths about the FBI's homicide data, debunked. Homicides across the United States rose by an estimated 30 percent in 2020, the largest one-year increase on record, according to recently released data from the FBI. But don't jump to conclusions about what that means. As soon as the FBI shared this eye-popping statistic in late September, a flood of fear-inducing headlines made it seem like Americans are now living through a massive wave of violence. Police chiefs, mayors, and journalists quickly speculated about the possible causes for the uptick, often blaming (without evidence) protests to defund law enforcement and stop police brutality. Don't believe them."

Jon Schwarz says "Don't Look Up Is As Funny And Terrifying About Global Warming As Dr. Strangelove Was About Nuclear War: Adam McKay's new movie may be the first film in 57 years to equal the comedy and horror of Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece."

I should probably get around to watching the 2019 Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists one of these days.

Friday, December 10, 2021

And we know it's almost Christmas by the marks we make on the wall

It's that time of year again, so kick back with some seasonal music and check out Hunt Emerson's Christmas Countdown again.

"Gillibrand Statement On The Gutting Of Bipartisan Military Justice Reforms By House And Senate Armed Services Leadership" — or as David Dayen put it on Twitter: "Gillibrand's full statement on what was done to her military justice reform is quite something. She spent a decade mustering support and has 2/3 of the Senate in her corner, and still couldn't get past Congress's Pentagon gatekeepers." Dday's story is here.

"Congress 'Asleep at the Switch' as Biden Continues Trump-Era Ploy to Privatize Medicare: More than 1,500 physicians warn that the experiment threatens 'the future of Medicare as we know it' A Trump-era pilot program that could result in the complete privatization of traditional Medicare in a matter of years is moving ahead under the Biden administration, a development that—despite its potentially massive implications for patients across the U.S.—has received scant attention from the national press or Congress. On Tuesday, a group of physicians from around the nation will try to grab the notice of lawmakers, the Biden White House, and the public by traveling to Washington, D.C. and demanding that the Health and Human Services Department immediately stop the Medicare experiment, which is known as Direct Contracting (DC). [...] Advocates have been publicly sounding the alarm about the DC program for months, warning that it could fully hand traditional Medicare over to Wall Street investors and other profit-seekers, resulting in higher costs for patients and lower-quality care."

"Progressives -- And The American People -- Want To Expand Medicare; Conservatives Want To Privatize It [...] Even Republican voters say they would be more likely to support the Build Back Better Act if it includes allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of certain prescription drugs, something that is currently being blocked by corrupt Republicans plus corrupt Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Johnson made the point last week that corrupt conservatives in thrall to Big PhRMA want to move the opposite direction... and already are. "A Trump-era pilot program," wrote Johnson, "that could result in the complete privatization of traditional Medicare in a matter of years is moving ahead under the Biden administration, a development that-- despite its potentially massive implications for patients across the U.S.-- has received scant attention from the national press or Congress."

"As Buttigieg Eyes a Presidential Run, His DOT Is Floundering: The transportation secretary has a major role to play in easing the supply chain crisis. Pete Buttigieg isn't doing the job." As always, there is much that could be done, but no one is doing it.

"As Executives Hike Prices, US Corporations Rake in Biggest Profits Since 1950: 'Prices are high,' said Sen. Sherrod Brown, 'because corporations are raising them—so they can keep paying themselves with ever-larger executive bonuses and stock buybacks.' New data released by the Commerce Department shows that over the last two quarters of 2021, U.S. corporations outside the finance sector have raked in their largest profits since 1950—a windfall that belies CEO gripes about rising labor costs and broader inflationary pressures in the economy. 'Let's be clear. The problem is not the worker who got a small raise and a $1,400 check seven months ago.' The Commerce Department figures, as Bloomberg reported Tuesday, show that overall corporate profits were up 37% from the previous year while employee compensation was up just 12%."

A lefty won in Honduras. You can tell La Prensa is in denial.

"Utah Makes Welfare So Hard to Get, Some Feel They Must Join the LDS Church to Get Aid: Utah's safety net for the poor is so intertwined with the LDS Church that individual bishops often decide who receives assistance. Some deny help unless a person goes to services or gets baptized. Near the start of the pandemic, in a gentrifying neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah, visitors from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived at Danielle Bellamy's doorstep. They were there to have her read out loud from the Book of Mormon, watch LDS videos and set a date to get baptized, all of which she says the church was requiring her to do in exchange for giving her food. Bellamy, desperate for help, had tried applying for cash assistance from the state of Utah. But she'd been denied for not being low-income enough, an outcome that has become increasingly common ever since then-President Bill Clinton signed a law, 25 years ago, that he said would end 'welfare as we know it.' State employees then explicitly recommended to Bellamy that she ask for welfare from the church instead, she and her family members said in interviews."

"'The Jewish-Palestinian Conflict' Is Not a Phrase You Want to Hear From a Supreme Court Justice [...] I'm fairly sure the justice was referring to the ongoing dispute between the state of Israel and the Palestinian people living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, a secular conflict, albeit one with a religious subtext. But the only people I've ever heard refer to the situation as the 'Jewish-Palestinian' conflict were conservative American Christians whose interest in Israel's survival is based on anticipating the time in which, some Scripture says, all the Jews will return to Israel, one of the precipitating events leading to the return of Christ and the Final Judgment at the end of the world. I am not saying this is what Justice Barrett believes, but, even if this were a slip of the tongue, it was a signifying one, and a startling one coming from the bench of the highest court in the land."

"Built to Lie: A new book about the Boeing 737 MAX disaster exposes the company's allergy to the truth. [...] Boeing's self-hijacking plane took its first 189 lives on October 29, 2018, just over two months after it had been delivered to the Jakarta Airport terminal of Indonesia's reigning discount carrier Lion Air. Fishermen described the fuselage plunging nose-first, directly perpendicular to the Java Sea, at speeds many times that of Komarov's four-and-a-half mile descent from the half-baked Soyuz 1, with its malfunctioning parachutes. A 48-year-old diver dispatched to plumb the deep sea floor for body parts and the elusive cockpit voice recorder became the 190th fatality. As with the Soyuz, in which the famous cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was said to have detailed 200 outstanding manufacturing defects in a memo to superiors, the 737 MAX had been the subject of numerous ignored whistleblower reports, tormented confessions, and abrupt career changes; the general manager of the plane's final assembly line outside Seattle had resigned in despair the week Lion Air took delivery. But three years later, nothing has surfaced to suggest that any senior official at Boeing took so much as a passing glance at the corpse stew its greed chucked into the Java Sea, much less any semblance of responsibility."

RIP: "Fred Hiatt, Washington Post editorial page editor, dies at 66," after 20 years of making that editorial page an embarrassing collection of "centrist" whining and right-wing crankery. He shilled for war and neoliberalism vigorously, but it's unlikely he'll be replaced by anyone good, so there's no cause for jubilation.

RIP: Bob Dole at 98, former US Senate hard man. "When Dole ran for the Senate in 1968 to replace the retiring Frank Carlson, he was largely seen as a hard-line conservative. That's because he was a hard-line conservative. He did have occasional bouts of moderation. He worked with George McGovern on a bill to expand food stamps, for instance. But he both hated Democrats and on the vast majority of issues was on the right of the Republican caucus. He rose fast in the Republican apparatus though, based mostly on his hard-line approach to Democrats that appealed to the New Right. In 1971, he was named chairman of the Republican National Committee and became a close advisor to Richard Nixon. [...] In 1990, Dole pushed through the one positive thing he did in his career and it is highly telling. This was the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is of course an unvarnished good. It has significantly improved the lives of millions of Americans in the decades since. Dole put all his energy behind it. But that was the rub — the only reason he did this is that he personally was disabled. Yes, he deserved credit for the ADA. But Bob Dole is the platonic example of the conservative politician who hates government except for this one thing which personally benefits me and so on this issue I am a big supporter of government. Did Dole ever extrapolate from his disability to think, hey maybe the government could also help other people who have other problems out of their control? Ha ha ha ha ha, of course not. [...] (A story from a friend who hails from Arkansas: His father bumped into Dale Bumpers in a parking lot one day. Bumpers was still a senator at that time. His father asked him why Republicans were blocking everything Democrats proposed. Bumpers told him directly, and this is a quote: 'Bob Dole is an evil man.')"

"The Elephant In The Room: Rick Perlstein On The Evolution Of The American Conservative Movement [...] American conservatism is upholding hierarchy and authority and fighting against movements of liberation, the taproot of which is the New Deal: the Depression-era social programs that established the modern American state as a referee that aims to make society freer and fairer. [...] The Republicans used to complain that they couldn't win elections because 'no one shoots Santa Claus.' What they meant was that Democrats used the public treasury to help ordinary Americans by, for example, building massive dams that provided jobs, cheap power, and wonderful lakes for recreation. But in the economic traumas of the late 1970s, the old ways of doing things didn't seem to work anymore, so Jimmy Carter had to shoot Santa Claus. Carter's mantra was that Americans needed to sacrifice in order to rescue the country from economic perdition. That was a big reason Reagan won."

The Washington Post was terrible even before Bezos bought it, but this article reminded me that pretty much every "take-down" of progressive programs I see in social media appeared there first. "With Bezos at the Helm, Democracy Dies at the Washington Post Editorial Board: In the Soviet Union, everybody was aware that the media was controlled by the state. But in a corporate state like the U.S., a veneer of independence is still maintained, although trust in the media has been plummeting for years."

"Sorry, Race Reductionists—Malcolm X Rejected Identitarianism and Black Nationalism"

I loved this movie, so I was glad to see this short tribute to it. "Harold and Maude: 50 years on, Hal Ashby's box-office bomb is a black comedy classic: This 70s romcom continues to charm with its dark humour and undercurrent of optimism"

At the other end of the spectrum, Tom Brevoort's evaluation of the latest in the Doctor Who saga is all too accurate. And a scary departure from the Doctor we know.

Jonathan Coulton, "Chiron Beta Prime"

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Going mad, shooting sparks into space

"A Moment of Relax" by Catia Trovarelli is from the Hyperrealism collection.

So, Kyle Rittenhouse was cleared of all charges, having convinced a jury that he was afraid for his life and shot in self-defense. Since the prosecution couldn't prove otherwise, he was Not Guilty. That's the law. And I'm not linking to any stories about it because they're all so politicized I can't stand it. Most of what was in the news was slanted and overblown and wrong. Yes, Rittenhouse "crossed state lines," but since he lived a mile from the state line, that hardly means anything. Nor was he haring off across another state to interfere in a strange community; he worked in that community, and his father lived there. But it's the kind of thing right-wingers will point to as "proof" of a left-wing bias in the media, never realizing that it's the division, not anything "left", that the media is promoting.

Meanwhile, in the case of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, all three white men, Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael and William 'Roddie' Bryan, were convicted and face the possibility of life in prison. For many, this feels like a particular victory since one of the accused was an ex-cop. All but one of the jurors were white, which had worried some. Both McMichaels will appeal.

The "Bipartisan Infrastructure" bill passed both Houses without the BBB being passed, because Pelosi rounded up some Republicans to support it while the progressives were still digging in their heels for passage of both simultaneously. Once she called the vote, she nullified the progressives' leverage. Since the whole point of BIF was to kill BBB, a lot of people are wondering whether the continued coverage of attempts to negotiate the latter is merely a charade meant to demoralize progressives further. Biden signed BIF so now it's down to implementation, as David Dayen has been warning. There's a reason that there is absolutely no optimism about whether Democrats will hold the House or Senate. Most people expect a bloodbath.

David Dayen, "Fighting the Inflation Profiteers: Companies are raising prices well above increases in their costs. The only antidote is to finally take action against corporate power. In a time of high inflation, you hear a lot about companies 'passing costs' on to customers. In order for companies to maintain their God-given right to earn a profit, they must raise prices to offset the cost of producing goods and getting them into peoples' hands. And thanks mostly to the hidden risk, exposed by the pandemic, of neoliberal gospels like just-in-time logistics, deregulation, and offshoring, prices really are going up. But there's something else mixed in with this latest bout of inflation. Companies aren't just passing costs onto us. With corporations using inflation as a cover for raising their prices, you and I are passing profits onto companies. 'Executives are seizing a once in a generation opportunity to raise prices,' reads a Wall Street Journal story explaining that around two-thirds of the largest publicly traded companies are showing profit margins higher today than they did in 2019, before the pandemic. Over 100 companies show profit margins of 50 percent or more above those 2019 levels." And it's even worse than that.

"2 Men Convicted of Killing Malcolm X Will Be Exonerated After Decades: The 1966 convictions of the two men are expected to be thrown out after a lengthy investigation, validating long-held doubts about who killed the civil rights leader. [...] For decades, historians have cast doubt on the case against the two men, Muhammad A. Aziz and Khalil Islam, who each spent more than 20 years in prison. Their exoneration represents a remarkable acknowledgment of grave errors made in a case of towering importance: the 1965 murder of one of America's most influential Black leaders. [...] A 22-month investigation conducted jointly by the Manhattan district attorney's office and lawyers for the two men found that prosecutors and two of the nation's premier law enforcement agencies — the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York Police Department — had withheld key evidence that, had it been turned over, would likely have led to the men's acquittal."

"Jury Returns $31.8M Civil Verdict Against Alt-Right Defendants in Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' Lawsuit: A federal jury has returned a $31.8 million civil verdict in a case connected to the 'Unite the Right' protest in Charlottesville, Va., in Aug. 2017. A collection of nine plaintiffs sued a number of figures in the alt-right movement — including Jason Kessler, Matthew Heimbach, Richard Spencer and Christopher Cantwell — on a series of federal and state law claims. The jury deadlocked on the federal claims but returned verdicts on the state law claims in various dollar amounts. [...] Legally, the jury agreed that a far-right conspiracy was afoot in Charlottesville — one which resulted in legally cognizable tort injuries."

"GOP Offers Taste of 2022 Attack Ads If Democrats Approve Tax Cut for Millionaires: 'Democrats' SALT tax giveaway is handing Republicans a potent political weapon to crush Democrats in the 2022 midterm elections.' [...] On Monday, Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) shared a 60-second spot lampooning House Democrats' plan to raise the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions from $10,000 to $80,000 through 2026—a proposal that would predominantly benefit the rich. One recent analysis estimated that U.S. millionaires would receive an average tax cut of $16,760 from the provision."

"It's not just white people: Democrats are losing normal voters of all races: Democrats fear they are losing white swing voters over racial politics. Three studies suggest that the party's elite culture may be the real problem."

"Leonard Peltier Is America's Longest-Serving Political Prisoner. Biden May Be His Last Hope.: The FBI put the Native American activist behind bars 44 years ago based on lies, threats and no proof he committed a crime. Why is he still there? [...] HuffPost talked to a number of people who have played a role in either fighting or preserving Peltier's imprisonment over the years — international human rights attorneys, senior-level officials from the Obama administration, Peltier's longtime allies — and they all pointed to the same reason for him remaining in prison: resistance from the FBI."

"Five Reasons the Left Won in Venezuela: These elections should put the Biden administration on notice that continuing to support the MUD, and in particular, the fiction of Guaidó as "interim president," is a failed policy." Basically, the left kept Covid deaths low, gave people health care and kept them fed, and the opposition is hugely unpopular.

"New bill quietly gives powers to remove British citizenship without notice: Clause added to nationality and borders bill also appears to allow Home Office to act retrospectively in some cases [...] Frances Webber, the vice-chair of the Institute of Race Relations, said: 'This amendment sends the message that certain citizens, despite being born and brought up in the UK and having no other home, remain migrants in this country. Their citizenship, and therefore all their rights, are precarious and contingent.'"

RIP: "Stephen Sondheim: master craftsman who reinvented the musical dies aged 91." I don't have to tell you anything, but for that columnist I won't link to who didn't seem to know: West Side Story. Gypsy. And "Send in the Clowns."

RIP: "Longtime Beach Boys Sideman Billy Hinsche Dies at 70: Billy Hinsche, longtime Beach Boys touring member and one-third of '60s pop-rock trio Dino, Desi and Billy, has died at age 70. Lucie Arnaz — daughter of I Love Lucy stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and sister of the latter band's Desi Arnaz Jr. — confirmed Hinsche's death Saturday on Instagram, writing, 'Giant cell carcinoma. Only diagnosed a couple weeks ago. It ravaged him like an out of control train.' Hinsche was born in Manila, the Philippines in 1951, but he moved with his family to Beverly Hills as a child, becoming friends with Desi Arnaz Jr. and Dean Martin's son Dean Paul Martin. The trio eventually formed their band and signed with Reprise Records, who released their four proper studio albums and a run of singles, including the 1965 hits 'I'm a Fool' (later covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks) and 'Not the Lovin' Kind.' During this period, the group landed opening spots for major acts like the Mamas & the Papas, the Lovin' Spoonful and, most famously, the Beach Boys. The latter's Brian Wilson later co-wrote Dino, Desi and Billy's final single, 1970's 'Lady Love.' The Beach Boys connection proved crucial for Hinsche, who joined that band as a touring multi-instrumentalist from 1971 to 1977, then again from 1982 to 1996. He also appeared on a handful of their LPs: His credits include backing vocals on 1973's Holland, and guitar on 1976's 15 Big Ones and 1978's M.I.U. Album." I admit, I never really listened to DD&B, but the Beach Boys, that's a whole 'nother thing.

Pareene, "The Mess Age: We need to talk about what we talk about when we talk about talking about popular things [...] Running against an unpopular president remains a good way to pick up seats in Congress no matter what your message is, and that's just what the Democrats did again in 2018. The problem is the margins were smaller than 2006, and, unlike Bush, Donald Trump's unpopularity seemed eerily stable and entirely disconnected from actual events. Now, everyone with a brain expects Democrats to lose Congress in the next few years, and perhaps the White House again as well, which is why everyone is yelling at each other online all day about messaging and popularity."

"Conservative Democrats' Lucrative Career Path: Democratic senators who oppose core party agenda items and upset the base can't lose — because if they do, they get paid. [...] To understand what's in it for conservative Democratic senators who play the party's rotating villain role, look at those who came before them: Many of those who do big business' bidding and then either fail to win reelection or retire quickly end up scoring lucrative careers on K Street. It's the ultimate win-win situation."

"Alec Karakatsanis: This is a thread about how journalists decide what is 'news' and what isn't. Anyone shaping the news and anyone consuming the news should understand who decides what counts as news, how they decide it, and what determines what they say about it. Here, I ask a few questions: This thread is inspired by the gap in what mainstream media treats as urgent and what are the greatest threats to human safety, well-being, and survival. For example, air pollution kills *10 million people* each year and causes untold additional illness and suffering. It rarely features in daily news stories. Why? Instead, daily news is dominated by 'crime' stories. But even these are 'crime' stories of a certain kind: they aren't stories about the many air pollution crimes. They are the kind of "crimes" publicized by police press releases, usually involving poor people. Much of deadly U.S. air and water pollution is also criminal, but 'law enforcement' chooses to ignore it, and thus so do most journalists."

"Passing Fancy: In the Jim Crow South, courts understood that rigidly enforcing the rules against mixed marriage would have been a disaster—for whites."

"'Fighting To Free Our People': 55 Years Of The Black Panther Party: The Black Panther Party was founded 55 years ago. Black Panther Party archivist Bill Jennings and Eddie Conway discuss the enduring legacy of the Panthers and how people are carrying on that legacy today."

"Elections and the Illusion of Black Political Power: Black politicians may be openly conservative or pretend leftists but their constituents rarely get what they need. Politics absent a mass movement is a recipe for inaction or even outright betrayal."

APOD: The Extraordinary Spiral in LL Pegasi — I've never seen this before, it's pretty cool.

Vincent, the play, starring Leonard Nimoy.

Game of Thrones: The Musical

Listen to the final four songs from the last Monkees concert ever. Only Mike and Mickey left, but the crowd loved them.

@tedgioia: "I've never seen anything like this on film before. Paul really has nothing at the 30 second mark—but 45 seconds later he's got the makings of a hit single."

Marnie Nixon and Jim Bryant (dubbed for Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer), "Tonight"

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Some try to tell me thoughts they cannot defend

"Winternight" by Ulrika O'Brien, 2021.

While some say it's a bit of a miracle when "An Unexpected Victory: Container Stacking at the Port of Long Beach" eases some of the supply bottleneck, Yves sees the answer to the question of, "Why the US Supply Chain Crisis Is Intractable and Will Get Worse: Readers bwilli123 and Carolinian flagged a must read post by Ryan Johnson, I'm A Twenty Year Truck Driver, I Will Tell You Why America's 'Shipping Crisis' Will Not End. You really really really need to consume it in its entirely. It makes a detailed, cogent case as to why the America's ports are a mess and why there is no simple and even not so simple way out. No wonder Pete Buttigieg is in hiding, um, on paternity leave, rather than putting his hands on the supply chain tar baby. I am going to run the risk of oversimplification to pull a few key points out of his compact and well argued post. They serve to reinforce his contention that Americans are royally fucked via where trucking industry deregulation (the first big deregulation initiative, thank you Jimmy Carter) has been amplified by neoliberalism: too many interconnected actors, so diffuse responsibility with contacts creating rigidity and incentives to do nothing, and cowards in government. I'll argue that there are some steps that could theoretically be taken to get a little more flow through the stuck ports, but even those moves would be seen as too interventionist despite the high and rising cost of standing pat. The severity of the supply chain crisis combined with the near-certainty that the only actor that could partially (stress partially) clear this logjam is the Feds. They are guaranteed not to do enough even if they understood how the moving parts interconnect."

"How a little-known New Jersey truck driver defeated a top state Senate power broker on less than $10,000" is the title of the USA Today story, but it was actually less than $200 and the real story, from this 2019 article, is that this poor excuse for a Democrat really deserved to lose: "Last month, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney was at Rutgers University's main campus in New Brunswick. He was there to hold a town hall meeting to discuss 'The Path to Progress,' an ambitious cost-cutting plan that would seek to right New Jersey's perilous finances by cutting the state's generous public worker pension and health benefits." He said this to a mostly union audience and it did not go down well.

There are different kinds of inflation, and sometimes "Inflation Is Good for You [...] And what's happening is this: The inflation freakout is all about class conflict. In fact, it may be the fundamental class conflict: that between creditors and debtors, a fight that's been going on since the foundation of the United States. That's because inflation is often good for most of us, but it's terrible for the kinds of people who own corporate news outlets — or, say, founded coal firms. And a panic about inflation usefully creates the conditions to weaken the power of working people." Well, that's if it's natural inflation, which usually follows rises in wages. But there aren't really that many rises in wages The thing is, people aren't wrong when they say prices are up while those rising wages have by and large not been manifesting. Because the minute the eviction moratorium was called off, landlords rushed to raise rents. Meat prices are up not because there's a shortage of beef (there's not) and not because truckers are getting more money (they aren't) or grocery clerks suddenly got raises (they didn't), but because the people at the top of the chain decided to raise the prices for more profits — and the people underneath them saw none of that growth. But rich people just love to whine about the threat of inflation to excuse a lack of pubic spending by the government, which they don't want to see, and also so they can claim to be doing the rest of us a favor by refusing to adequately compensate employees.

"Is Summers Owed an Apology—or Does He Owe Us One?: Today on TAP: The policies that he promoted helped produce the supply chain crisis, and his diagnosis of today's inflation is just plain wrong. [...] The reality, however, is that the current bout of inflation has little to do with Biden's recovery program—and is actually the result of perverse policies that Summers and his confreres foisted on America over three decades. As that Bolshevik, Fed Chair Jerome Powell, could explain to Summers, the current inflation has little to do with macro pressures and everything to do with bottlenecks resulting from the supply chain crisis. If you dig a little deeper, the supply chain mess is precisely the consequence of economics according to Summers—deregulate, globalize, ignore the risks and hyper-concentration promoted by unhinged finance. The usual sources of macro pressure are not part of the story. Wages on average are rising more slowly than prices."

So, Terry McAuliffe, Clinton Dem and Carlyle guy, lost to a Republican. Naturally, the "moderates" blamed progressives, who had nothing to do with it. Zach is smarter. "The Democratic Unraveling Began With Schools: Republican victories in Virginia show how COVID-19 has fundamentally changed American politics. Republican Glenn Youngkin's victory in Tuesday's Virginia gubernatorial election was about schools. It wasn't about Donald Trump, or inflation, or defunding the police, or Medicare for All, or President Joe Biden's infrastructure agenda. It wasn't really about critical race theory or transgender rights—though those issues shaded the situation a bit by highlighting anxieties surrounding the education system. Fundamentally, the contest was about schools—specifically, how many parents remain frustrated by the way public schools have handled the coronavirus pandemic. Whether the Virginia results translate to other states will depend on how schools in those states reacted to the spread of COVID-19, and whether a major national issue can take the place of these local frustrations in voters' minds. All the usual caveats about drawing too many conclusions from a single contest apply. The national political environment could change, the 2022 midterms are a whole year away, and Virginia isn't a perfect microcosm of America. But given the very public, ongoing dysfunction among Democratic leaders in Washington, the party's devastating loss in Virginia looks like a five-alarm fire for its near-term electoral future."

"Quit Whining & Start Presidenting! Joe Biden's executive branch has the ability AND obligation to enforce laws limiting corporate misbehavior--which would also be overdue good politics. We agree with everyone else: Tuesday night was bad for Democrats and... confirms our priors. But 'confirming our priors' doesn't mean we're wrong. Our emphasis is less on presuming our ideology is a winner than understanding how modern communications operate. And also from our utter disdain for the idea that people like Joe Biden and Terry McAuliffe lack agency. Real world problems don't just happen. The political economy is never inevitable. Yet as their poll numbers slump, Joe Biden and his administration have mostly whimpered that they are the victims of circumstance. Terry McAuliffe, Carlyle investor, must also own his defeat to failed Carlyle private equity mogul-turned-Trump dog whistler Glenn Youngkin in Virginia."

"The Outer Limits Of Corporate Politics: The halving of Democrats' agenda suggests the party is still primarily intent on fulfilling Biden's promise to donors that 'nothing would fundamentally change.' [...] In general, the reason the Democratic Party always sounds so helplessly incoherent is because its lawmakers are trying to simultaneously appease their corporate donors and look like they are fulfilling their public promises to fix problems created by those corporate donors. In most cases, this is impossible. You cannot protect pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industry donors and also reduce the price of medicine and solve the climate crisis. If you try to pretend you can do both, the donors always eventually win out. So you end up talking in circles, complaining accurately about the problems while doing nothing to solve them, and then portraying marginal victories as huge wins to voters who must wonder why their lives aren't improving."

Good interview by Ryan Grim of Sirota, "If Biden Wants To Build Back Better, He Should Look To Obama's Mistakes." Leaving aside the question of whether Biden really wants to Build Back Better, this interview feeds my need to occasionally fly into a rage at how badly, and with how much evil, Obama handled the financial crisis.

"The Democracy Crisis That Is Never Discussed: Corporate media's democracy-in-crisis discourse almost never mentions the gap between what Americans want and what corrupt elected officials are doing. In 2014, Northwestern and Princeton researchers published a report statistically documenting how lawmakers do not listen or care about what most voters want, and instead mostly care about serving their big donors. Coupled with additional research documenting the discrepancy between donor and voter preferences, they bluntly concluded that the 'preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy.' Seven years later, America is witnessing a very public and explicit illustration of this situation in real time — and Tuesday's off-year election results are the latest confirmation that the country seems pretty ticked off about the situation ahead of the 2022 midterms."

"'Complete Attack on Our Democracy': FEC Rules Foreign Corporations Can Donate to Influence US Elections: 'Foreign donors shouldn't be influencing our elections, no matter whether it's at the federal, state, or local level,' said Rep. Katie Porter. [...] Democracy defenders expressed concern Tuesday in response to new reporting on a Federal Election Commission ruling that affirmed foreign entities—including overseas corporations—can fund U.S. state-level ballot campaigns." Really, this is incredible. And I can't help but notice that all those people who have been raving about how the evil Russians "interfered with our election" haven't said one word about this open invitation for every foreign country to take over our law-making apparatus.

"Illinois just became the first state to make it illegal for cops to lie to kids [...] This means that — until 2021! — it was perfectly legal in every US state for police to lie to minors (which gives me flashbacks to the tragic interrogation of Brendan Dassey, as shown in Making a Murderer). As NPR notes, there are other states trying to pass bills that offer the same protections to minors, or else to outlaw deceptive police interrogation tactics entirely. The fact that we have to explicitly forbid police from intentionally manipulating and deceiving children speaks volumes about the underlying issues."

"The Top 1% of Americans Have Taken $50 Trillion From the Bottom 90%—And That's Made the U.S. Less Secure [...] How big is this elephant? A staggering $50 trillion. That is how much the upward redistribution of income has cost American workers over the past several decades. This is not some back-of-the-napkin approximation. According to a groundbreaking new working paper by Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards of the RAND Corporation, had the more equitable income distributions of the three decades following World War II (1945 through 1974) merely held steady, the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is an amount equal to nearly 12 percent of GDP—enough to more than double median income—enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year."

"40 Million People Rely on the Colorado River. It's Drying Up Fast. [...] Lake Mead, a reservoir formed by the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s, is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure on the Colorado River, supplying fresh water to Nevada, California, Arizona and Mexico. The reservoir hasn't been full since 1983. In 2000, it began a steady decline caused by epochal drought. On my visit in 2015, the lake was just about 40% full. A chalky ring on the surrounding cliffs marked where the waterline once reached, like the residue on an empty bathtub."

So...Did the CIA kill Kennedy? "Cuban exile told sons he trained Oswald, JFK's accused assassin, at a secret CIA camp: Almost 40 years after his death following a bar brawl in Key Biscayne, Ricardo Morales, known as 'Monkey' — contract CIA worker, anti-Castro militant, counter-intelligence chief for Venezuela, FBI informant and drug dealer — returned to the spotlight Thursday morning when one of his sons made a startling claim on Spanish-language radio: [...] 'My brother asked 'Who killed John F. Kennedy?' and his answer was, 'I didn't do it but I was in Dallas two days before waiting for orders. We were the cleaning crew just in case something bad had to be done.' After the assassination, they did not have to do anything and returned to Miami,' his son said on the radio show. Morales Jr. said his father told them he did not know of the plans to assassinate Kennedy. 'He knew Kennedy was coming to Dallas, so he imagines something is going to happen, but he doesn't know the plan,' he said. 'In these kinds of conspiracies and these big things, nobody knows what the other is doing.' Morales also knew Oswald, his son claims. 'When my old man was training in a CIA camp — he did not tell me where — he was helping to train snipers: other Cubans, Latin Americans, and there were a few Americans,' he said. 'When he saw the photo of Lee Harvey Oswald [after the assassination] he realized that this was the same character he had seen on the CIA training field. He saw him, he saw the name tag, but he did not know him because he was not famous yet, but later when my father sees him he realizes that he is the same person.' [...] While Lee Harvey Oswald was accused in Kennedy's assassination, a 1979 report from the House Select Committee on Assassinations contradicted the 1964 Warren Commission conclusion that JFK was killed by one lone gunman. The committee instead concluded that the president was likely slain as the result of a conspiracy and that there was a high probability that two gunmen fired at him. The House Select Committee, which also interviewed Morales, said they couldn't preclude the possibility that Cuban exiles were involved."

"The McDonald's Test: Once a Wall Street banker, Chris Arnade spent three years crisscrossing the United States to visit 'the places you were told not to go to.' His travels took him from the Bronx to the Ozarks to East Los Angeles. He shares what he learned in Dignity, a searing new book of essays and photojournalism. Plough's Peter Mommsen caught up with him to talk about fast-food joints, storefront churches, meritocracy, and whether to give cash to panhandlers."

"Revolt of the Essential Workers: The resurgent labor movement may be the greatest challenge yet to the top-down class warfare of the pandemic era. [...] The economic discontent that propelled both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to popularity had been building for many years. As a recent article in the journal American Affairs noted, $34 trillion of real equity wealth, in 2017 dollars, was created between 1989 and 2017. Nearly half that sum (44%) consisted of a reallocation of corporate equity to shareholders at the expense of worker compensation, while economic growth accounted for just 25% of that increase in wealth. In other words, despite the advent of seemingly near-miraculous, time- and space-saving digital technologies, the post-Cold War 'economic boom' consisted mainly of America's wealthy shareholders taking money from its increasingly insecure workforce."

"Navy Christens Ship Named For Slain California Gay Rights Leader Harvey Milk: 'There is no doubt that the future sailors aboard this ship will be inspired by Milk's life and legacy,' said Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro."

RIP: "Dean Stockwell, 'Quantum Leap' Star, Dies at 85: Dean Stockwell, who began his acting career as a child in Hollywood's golden age and later performed memorably in David Lynch's 'Blue Velvet'; in the comedy 'Married to the Mob,' for which he was Oscar nominated; and on TV's 'Quantum Leap,' for which he was Emmy nominated, died Sunday. He was 85." I met him briefly at the premier of (David Lynch's film of) Dune, in which he played the Duke's physician early in the story, but I have no tale to tell about that. There's a loving appreciation at the Roger Ebert site.

RIP: "Moody Blues Drummer Graeme Edge Dies at 80." He was with them from the beginning, when they released one of my favorite tracks, "Go Now!", and I still loved them when they changed. But he was still there, and still the backbone of the band, until he retired and they all agreed that it couldn't be The Moody Blues without him and they all went their own ways.

RIP: "Wallace & Gromit Writer Bob Baker Dies Age 82: Robert John 'Bob' Baker, a film and television writer best known for his work with Aardman Animations on its Wallace & Gromit films and for creating the dog-like mobile computer K9 on Doctor Who, died November 3 at age 82. The news was announced by the @K9official1 Twitter account on Friday."

This story is old, but I just found it and it tickled me. "The mystery of Ireland's worst driver: Details of how police in the Irish Republic finally caught up with the country's most reckless driver have emerged, the Irish Times reports. He had been wanted from counties Cork to Cavan after racking up scores of speeding tickets and parking fines. However, each time the serial offender was stopped he managed to evade justice by giving a different address. But then his cover was blown. It was discovered that the man every member of the Irish police's rank and file had been looking for - a Mr Prawo Jazdy - wasn't exactly the sort of prized villain whose apprehension leads to an officer winning an award. In fact he wasn't even human.

Someone mentioned to me that the Beatles statue in Liverpool is pretty good, and I agree, although they look a bit old for their Liverpool days. (But at least it's in Liverpool. A friend in Little Rock tells me, "The little town of Walnut Ridge is the only place in Arkansas where the whole band ever set foot (their plane stopped there briefly) and, in the 2000s, they made a whole cottage industry out of it, including a more conceptual tribute.")

"Kamila Valieva (RUS) | Women SP | Skate Canada International 2021"

"Hasui Kawase's Stunning Japanese Woodblock Prints from the 1920s-1950s

Moody Blues, "Nights in White Satin"