25 September 2015

I went to see the doctor and I had my fortune read

My doctors claim I'm doing good, and I'll just have to find out what the new normal is. I could go on at length about how grumpy this is making me, but let's just say that next time someone says "a few weeks" to me, I'll be asking, "Do you mean 'a few weeks' as in three or four weeks, or do you mean 'a few weeks' as in three months?" Similarly, what does "a little darker" mean?

"Democrats to Win in a Landslide in 2016, According to Moody's Election Model." Not sure how seriously to take that when their metric seems to be that the economy is good.
* Strangely, this is from The Washington Post: "Two days later, Sanders draws five times as many people as Clinton to event at same university in N.H.: DURHAM, N.H. - Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders drew an estimated 3,000 people to a boisterous rally here Sunday night at the University of New Hampshire, about five times as many people as Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton attracted to an event two days ago at the same campus."

Astonishingly, Forbes tells the truth on this: "Can America Afford Bernie Sanders' Agenda? [...] But returning to the main point, anyone who says the federal government doesn't have the budget to manage Sanders' (or anyone else's) programs doesn't understand how modern macroeconomies work. The federal government's budget is not analogous to your own and it cannot run out of money."
* It's probably not a very big deal that "Republican Poll Shows Bernie Tied for First Place with Trump and Carson in This State" in the Republican primary when that state is Vermont.
* "Why Hillary Clinton May Not Have The Female Vote Locked Up"

Bernie Sanders at Common Dreams: "We Must End For-Profit Prisons [...] No one, in my view, should be allowed to profit from putting more people behind bars -- whether they're inmates in jail or immigrants held in detention centers. In fact, I believe that private prisons shouldn't be allowed to exist at all, which is why I've introduced legislation to eliminate them."

It's not just that they limited the debates to just six with no outside debates allowed, it's also how they scheduled them: "And check out some of these dates: Saturday, November 14. Saturday, really? Who exactly is the DNC expecting to watch a Saturday night debate? But it gets better! Saturday, December 19. Yes, the Saturday six days before Christmas. Hmm ... I could attend a holiday party with my friends and loved ones, do some last-minute shopping, or watch a presidential debate. Why not just schedule it on Christmas Eve, FFS? But let's keep going through this debate schedule: January 17. That's the Sunday night of Martin Luther King Day weekend. This is absurd."
* "Democratic Party Shutting Out Bernie Sanders!"

"Hillary Clinton Wants Poor Students to 'Work' for Tuition - Though Her Dad Paid Hers [...] I'm not going to give free college to kids who don't work some hours to try to put their own effort into their education."

Andy Borowitz: "Ben Carson Shattering Stereotype About Brain Surgeons Being Smart."

"Americans Want Congress Members To Pee In Cups To Prove THEY Aren't On Drugs: While Congress pushes for drug tests for food stamp recipients, most Americans like the idea of drug testing members of Congress even better. A YouGov poll found that 78% of U.S. citizens are in favor of requiring random drug testing for members of Congress. A full 62% said they 'strongly' favor this, compared with only 51% who feel the same way about food stamp and welfare recipients. The support for this move was bipartisan, as 86% percent of Republicans, 77% of Democrats and 75% of independents support the mandatory drug tests for members of Congress."

David Dayen, "Leaked Seattle Audit Concludes Many Mortgage Documents Are Void: A Seattle housing activist on Wednesday uploaded an explosive land-record audit that the local City Council had been sitting on, revealing its far-reaching conclusion: that all assignments of mortgages the auditors studied are void. That makes any foreclosures in the city based on these documents illegal and unenforceable, and makes the King County recording offices where the documents are located a massive crime scene. The problems stem from the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), an entity banks created so they could transfer mortgages privately, saving them billions of dollars in transfer fees to public recording offices. In Washington state, MERS' practices were found illegal by the State Supreme Court in 2012. But MERS continued those practices with only cosmetic changes, the audit found." MERS was obviously a scam from the git-go, it's sole purpose to cheat their way out of paying required filing fees. Everyone who set this up should be arrested and thrown in jail for a long time.

"What Exxon Knew About Climate Change: Wednesday morning, journalists at InsideClimate News, a Web site that has won the Pulitzer Prize for its reporting on oil spills, published the first installment of a multi-part exposé that will be appearing over the next month. The documents they have compiled and the interviews they have conducted with retired employees and officials show that, as early as 1977, Exxon (now ExxonMobil, one of the world's largest oil companies) knew that its main product would heat up the planet disastrously. This did not prevent the company from then spending decades helping to organize the campaigns of disinformation and denial that have slowed - perhaps fatally - the planet's response to global warming." (Thanks to commenter ifthethunderdontgetya for the tip.)
* "Citigroup: Tackling climate change now could save $1.8 trillion: Tackling climate change is expensive. But not as expensive as doing nothing, according to new research (PDF) published last week by global banking giant Citigroup."

It's not the hypocrisy that bothers me, it's just the fact that it's evil: "GOP Candidate Kasich Caught Providing Food Stamps to White Communities but not Black Communities. [...] In 2013, Governor Kasich could have accepted food stamp assistance for all of Ohio, as he had done for the previous six years. Instead, he limited the waivers to a handful of primarily rural counties with a large percentage of white residents. Urban regions with large minority populations and unemployment rates far above average have been denied the food stamp assistance. Furthermore, according to Kate McGarvey of the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC), Kasich had this decision rammed through with little or no debate - and for no apparent reason. She told Mother Jones, 'It was really fast - no advocates I know of were given a chance to give feedback on the wisdom of the partial waiver.'"

"Suit Alleges 'Scheme' in Criminal Costs Borne by New Orleans's Poor [...] On Thursday, Ms. Cain joined five other plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the criminal district court here, among others, alleging that judges and court officials have been running an 'illegal scheme' in which poor people are indefinitely jailed if they fall behind on payments of court fines, fees and assessments. The suit describes how fees are imposed with no hearing about a person's ability to pay, and how nearly all components of the local criminal justice system - the judges, the prosecutors, the public defenders - benefit financially to some degree."

"How an obscure drug's 4,000% price increase might finally spur action on soaring health-care costs"

This page from the Kaiser Family Foundation says, "Employer Family Health Premiums Rise 4 Percent to $17,545 in 2015, Extending a Decade-Long Trend of Relatively Moderate Increases," a price tag people in most of the word wouldn't believe could be placed anywhere near the word "moderate", but scrolling down you see deductibles have shot up incredibly.

"16 years ago, a doctor published a study. It was completely made up, and it made us all sicker."

"Nashville JCC Kicks Out Planned Parenthood." This is just crazy. But someone rides to the rescue: "The oldest and largest Jewish congregation in Nashville has opened its synagogue to Planned Parenthood for its annual Middle Tennessee fundraiser."

"Chick-fil-A Stops Anti-Gay Donations, Adopts Anti-Discrimination Policy." This may have something to do with the fact that their founder died last year.

"Anger after Saudi Arabia 'chosen to head key UN human rights panel'" - I really don't understand how this could even happen.
* "You Can't Understand ISIS If You Don't Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia."

There's a curious editorial in The New York Times complaining about how the Republican candidates are full of bollocks. It's like a blog post from 2001, except that they left out the part about how the reason candidates and political leaders and their spokesbots so confidently talk out of their backsides is that the media has been letting them get away with it for years and even encouraging it, trumpeting it, and firing people who won't play along. I'm looking at you, New York Times (and MSNBC).
* This is less surprising, from Counterpunch: "Red Neoliberals: How Corbyn's Victory Unmasked Britain's Guardian [..] Corbyn is not just threatening to expose the sham of the PLP as a real alternative to the Conservatives, but the sham of Britain's liberal-left media as a real alternative to the press barons. Which is why the Freedlands and Toynbees - keepers of the Guardian flame, of its undeserved reputation as the left's moral compass - demonstrated such instant antipathy to his sudden rise to prominence."
* "MSNBC Threw Liberals Under The Bus And Is Now The Lowest Rated News Network."

In These Times: "Why Radical Leftists Need To Stop Worrying and Back Bernie Sanders." The simple fact is that none of the other issues is going to go anywhere until we find some way to restore democracy, and we just aren't going to be able to do that unless something is done to knock the aristocracy off its perch and put power into the hands of the people, and that's about money. That's what Bernie's about, and if you see your chance, take it.
* And, interestingly, Counterpunch: "Sniping at the Sandernistas: Left Perfectionism in the Belly of the Beast."

Why Income Inequality Isn't Going Anywhere: Rich elites - even rich liberal elites - don't believe in redistributing wealth. [...] The conventional view of America as a classless society has long sided with Hemingway - the only difference is the money. But our results suggest that, at least when it comes to attitudes toward inequality, Fitzgerald is right: Elite Americans are not just middle-class people with more money. They display distinctive attitudes on basic moral and political questions concerning economic justice. Simply put, the rich place a much lower value on equality than the rest. What's more, this lack of concern about inequality among the elite is not a partisan matter. Even when they self-identify as progressive Democrats, elite Americans value equality less highly than their middle-class compatriots."

I wonder if his fans know this: "Friedrich Hayek Supported a Guaranteed Minimum Income: Not only that, he assumed it would exist."
* Oddly, David Frum, of all people, did notice it. "The Conservative Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income: Creating a wage floor is an effective way to fight poverty - and it would reduce government spending and intrusion."

These 10 Countries Are The Most Prosperous In The World, And They Don't Include The U.S.

Bruce Schneier on the Movie Plot Threat: Terrorists Attacking US Prisons: "Not just terrorists, but terrorists with a submarine! This is why Ft. Leavenworth, a prison from which no one has ever escaped, is unsuitable for housing Guantanamo detainees. I've never understood the argument that terrorists are too dangerous to house in US prisons. They're just terrorists, it's not like they're Magneto."

"David Cameron says he 'will not dignify' claims he put his genitals in the mouth of a dead pig." Ah, yes, you can almost hear LBJ saying, "But let's make the sonofabitch deny it."

"Progressive Change against Corporatism is Sweeping the World: Thom Hartmann Explains." For the record, the "s" in "Islington" is not silent. Like in "Israel".

"Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel." Funnily enough, I actually looked at that headline and thought about Ta-Nehisi Coates writing a comic about the Black Panthers.

"Orders pouring in for Lil' Bernie Sanders dolls hand sewn by Ludlow seamstress Emily Engel." I want one.

RIP: Yogi Berra, outstanding baseball player, coach, and manager, and famous sayer of lines people had to think about, at 90. However, the AP wire got it a little wrong.

Lovelace & Babbage build the first computer - in Lego.

Howie Klien remembers Hendrix: "I met Jimi Hendrix in 1967, before he went off to England and formed the Jimi Hendrix Experience."

Steve Miller and Paul McCartney, "My Dark Hour"

19 September 2015

In a time of possibilities

"Congress just passed a bill addressing police killings while no one was looking: After watching nationwide protests unfold against police brutality, members of Congress did what they have seemed incapable of doing for years: something. A bill passed by both chambers of Congress and headed to President Barack Obama's desk will require local law enforcement agencies to report every police shooting and other death at their hands. That data will include each victim's age, gender and race as well as details about what happened. 'You can't begin to improve the situation unless you know what the situation is,' bill sponsor Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) told the Washington Post. 'We will now have the data.'"

"Fringe No More: Sanders Takes Major Lead in Key Battleground States [...] The new CBS/YouGov poll finds U.S. Sen. Sanders (Vt.) with 52 percent support among Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, while former frontrunner Clinton receives 30 percent. 'Possibly more worrying for the Clinton campaign is her performance in Iowa,' writes YouGov US and UK assistant editor William Jordan - in that key caucus state, Sanders is now ahead by 10 points, with 43 percent to Clinton's 33 percent."
* Bernie makes the cover of TIME. Story: "The Gospel of Bernie: The man who brought fire back to the Democratic Party" - good title, 'cause that's about the size of it.
* Bernie visited The Late Show. I found this intro and his response to the important question of why he doesn't feel insulted when people call him a "liberal" and a "socialist".

Pelosi says the DNC "probably should" have more debates, but DNC doesn't care.

Bernie Sanders' speech at Liberty University
* Jim, a Liberty University Alumnus and evangelical Christian, explains his reaction to Bernie Sanders' speech - and why Bernie Sanders' message is Gospel. (Full audio here, transcript here.)
* Bernie Sanders: In-Depth Explanation of Income Inequality

David Dayen at The Intercept: Wall Street Journal's Scary Bernie Sanders Price Tag Ignores Health Savings: The screaming headline on Tuesday's Wall Street Journal reads 'Price Tag of Bernie Sanders's Proposals: $18 Trillion.' This would comprise 'the largest peacetime expansion of government in American history,' the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper warns. [...] But how did the Journal arrive at $18 trillion? They added up the 10-year price tags of seven programs Sanders has endorsed in his candidacy for president. It turns out that $15 trillion of the $18 trillion, or 83 percent of the total, comes from just one of these programs: establishing a single-payer health care system. What the Wall Street Journal won't tell you is that $15 trillion in national health spending over 10 years would represent a massive savings for the United States. Right now we spend at twice that rate for health care. [...] Accounting for cost inflation in health care and extending that out for 10 years, on our current trajectory we would spend more than $30 trillion, compared to the $15 trillion of a single-payer plan, which would totally supplant it." (Jerry Friedman objected to having his figures misused by the WSJ.)
* "Andrea Mitchell Pushes Wall Street Journal Hit Job On Bernie Sanders" - not a surprise, but Bernie had no trouble responding to that one.
* Matt Yglesias is a concern troll. Listen, you putz, if Bernie Sanders betrays Democratic women the way McGovern did, you can bet he will lose. But as long as he keeps being Bernie Sanders, that's not an issue. Meanwhile, Sanders is accessible in ways that McGovern is not. There's no "nuance" to confuse people, he just says it plain. No one is going to accuse him of being "too cerebral" when he keeps right on talking like an ordinary person.
* A Pro-Clinton Super PAC Is Going Negative On Bernie Sanders: The group links Sanders to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and the United Kingdom's new Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn." (HuffPo) And "David Brock Declines to Apologize to Bernie Sanders Over Jeremy Corbyn Comparison: The founder of the pro-Clinton group Correct the Record said that the comparison the UK labor leader was 'standard opposition research'." (Bloomberg) But, "Sanders sees burst of fundraising after opposition research against him surfaces." (WaPo)
* What Corbyn actually said

USA Today admits Hillary Clinton email scandal is a sham
* Is the NY Times out to get Hillary Clinton?
* Clinton's support erodes sharply among Democratic women: "Her college plan was going to give people $17 a month, What is that? That's not even a pizza"
* Clinton uses Biden to defend bankruptcy bill vote: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday said Vice President Joe Biden was part of the reason she backed a bankruptcy bill that liberals vehemently oppose. She was asked during a campaign stop in New Hampshire about a 2001 vote she made that was supported by the credit card industry, according to the Wall Street Journal. Consumer activists argued the bill would make it harder to consumers to hold credit card companies accountable. "It was Vice President Biden who was the senator from Delaware and the Republican co-sponsor that I was talking with, so I said I'd support it even though I'd opposed it before," Clinton said, according to the Journal. The bill did not end up passing, she added.
* "Hillary Clinton Goes to Militaristic, Hawkish Think Tank, Gives Militaristic, Hawkish Speech."

Charlie Pierce has a few words about the Republican debate.

Political Smearing: Project Islington
* Losing Their Grip: the Meaning of Corbyn's Win
* Pessimism after Corbyn [...] There is war coming in the Labour Party. Already, the bad-faith resignations and rumour-mongering of leading right-wingers signals the scale of resistance Corbyn will face. And that struggle will refract through its own institutional and ideological character the conflict that cleaves society as a whole, that between exploiter and exploited, between oppressor and oppressed. And the odds in that conflict remain stacked heavily in favour of the habitual victors. The Labour right have been caught off-guard, exhausted, and weakened by the loss of a major bastion of their power the size of Scotland. Ironically, the very processes of Pasokification that threaten the survival of Labourism as a serious force are also responsible for the chinks in the armour of the old guard, which have allowed Corbyn and his allies to make this audacious dash for power. But, also ironically, Corbyn's very victory, in its shattering of their complacent, internalised claim that There Is No Alternative (to them and their project), will galvanise the Labour right. They will not forgive this humiliation. Numb inertia is no longer their instrument: they will have to remember how to fight again. And remember they very soon will."
* Ian Welsh, "So, you supported Corbyn: here is what you MUST do if he is to survive and win
* Jeremy Corbyn's debut at Prime Minister's Question Time

"For first time, Alabama schools required to teach climate change, evolution: For the first time, Alabama students will be required to learn about evolution and climate change after the State Board of Education unanimously voted to update the science standard for 2016. The last time the science standards was updated was a decade ago."

New Mexico Court Orders Mother to Take Faith-Based Classes if She Wants Custody of Her Kids: Holly Salzman was ordered by a New Mexico district court to take conflict resolution classes stemming from a child custody case with her ex-husband. That sort of thing happens fairly often in these situations. The problem is that Salzman was told to see Mary Pepper (below), a Christian who pushed God on her during the court-ordered sessions. Pepper also turns out to be a freeloader who illegally holds her sessions in the public library and makes her clients collude in keeping her name off the arrangements and paying her under the table so she won't have to rent space for sessions.

"If You're From One of These Five States, You'll Likely Need a Passport for a Domestic Flight: Driver's licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, American Samoa, and New Hampshire will no longer be enough to get on a domestic commercial flight. The standard licenses from New York, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and American Samoa are considered 'noncompliant' with the security standards outlined in the Real ID Act, which was enacted back in 2005 but is being implemented in stages. Why are these specific licenses deemed sub-par? In these five states, getting a license doesn't require proof of citizenship or residency."

Nine police California officers arrested a black teenager and slammed him onto concrete while apparently arresting him for jaywalking.

Kansas Secretary of State Fires State Employee For Not Attending Church

Glenn Greenwald, "Arrest of a 14-Year-Old Student for Making a Clock: the Fruits of Years of Fear-Mongering and Anti-Muslim Animus"

"Desperate Elephants Shot With Poison Arrows Travel To Humans For Help ." I find it remarkable that they knew to go somewhere they had never been before in search of aid.

This is a speech by Chris Hedges where he talks about how he became who he is and where it got him, and a lot of it is interesting, but the bit toward the end where he talks about prisons really got to me.

Neil deGrasse Tyson geeks out with Edward Snowden.

Video on the first showing of Banksy's Dismaland

The UK's new Star Wars stamps

The Tide commercial and the sanctity of marriage
* Another Tide commercial

"The World's Most Beautiful Library Is In Prague, Czech Republic."

John Boorman's The Matrix

Gollum meets Hal Jordan

Black Violin: "Stereotypes"
(Story here.)

The lost legacy of David Ruffin

14 September 2015

Face the music and dance

Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 2015: "The 2015 Labour Party leadership election was won by Jeremy Corbyn. The election was triggered by the resignation of Ed Miliband as Leader of the Labour Party on 8 May 2015, following the party's defeat at the 2015 general election. Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader, became Acting Leader but announced that she would stand down after the leadership election." Corbyn had 59.5% of the vote against the three other candidates.
* The new Labour leader himself says, "Britain can't cut its way to prosperity. We have to build it."
* Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership race in stunning victory - as it happened, complete with Billy Bragg leading everyone (including Corbyn) to sing "The Red Flag".
* Ellie Mae O'Hagan in the Independent: "5 reasons to be happy with Jeremy Corbyn's victory"
* Laurie Penny in The New Statesman: "What the Corbyn moment means for the left: At long last, the left is asking itself whether power without principle is worth having. [...] The 'electability' conversation is where it all becomes clear. The argument that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable is being made by three candidates who can't even win an election against Jeremy Corbyn. Their arguments are backed by two former prime ministers: Gordon Brown, whose main claim to fame is losing an election to the Tories in 2010, and Tony Blair, the Ghost of Bad Decisions Past. Both of them are making the case that the ability to win a general election is the first and only important quality in a leader after years of muttering and shuffling behind Ed Miliband, a very nice man whose middle name could have been 'Constitutionally Unable to Win a General Election'."
* Someone was asking me what it all means. Well, here's a bit of history to remind you of how it evolved that there seemed to be absolutely no one around to challenge the position of Tony Blair or any other New Labour politician, no matter how they might have been despised by most normal Labour supporters. John Smith, the Labour leader at the time, had to die of a sudden heart attack at the age of 56 for Blair to become the new party leader. Everyone was so happy to finally get rid of the Tories that no one seemed to scrutinize Blair enough to see that they wouldn't be getting rid of the Tories at all, just enthusiastically electing a wolf in sheep's clothing who had gone to Australia to kneel at Rupert Murdoch's feet and kiss his ring and then run around saying things like, "We're all Thatcherites now!" He won handily and made up some obvious lunacy about how Saddam could hit us with a nuclear bomb in 45 minutes or by next Christmas, apparently by magic since Saddam had never tested a nuclear device and had no delivery systems. Everyone was upset about the invasion of Iraq, but there was a problem. The only Labour politician who seemed to be in any position to challenge Blair's leadership was Robin Cook, a vocal opponent of the invasion and never an enthusiastic New Labour supporter. Cook, at 59, had a heart attack and fell and died while on holiday. By then, Bryan Gould, who might once have been competition for Blair, had already given up and returned to academic life in New Zealand, leaving no one with a high enough profile to fight for leadership, which left us with only Blair's hand-picked successor when Blair finally decided to retire to the Carlyle Group. (There was a short moment when the wonderful and much-loved Mo Molem might have been on the list of challengers, just before we learned about her cancer. She is still much missed.) As a sidebar, Blair pretty much turned the BBC into a sheepdog by attacking it for its now-proven-true report on how the Iraq intelligence had been "sexed up" to support Bush's invasion, forcing top heads to roll at the BBC and giving us a much less believable "news" organization. And all this time, Jeremy Corbyn was on the back bench and no one so much as fantasized in public about him ever being Labour leader, until New Labour drove the party to its worst ever crushing defeat this year against an unloved Tory government, and created this sudden opportunity, enlivening the Labour base and drawing many enthusiastic young people into the party. So that's a pretty big deal, and quite possibly big enough to win the next election, if Corbyn can manage to stay alive until then.
* There's an old anecdote about a new MP sitting in Parliament for the first time and expressing a certain excitement to be facing "the enemy", to which the man seated beside him, Winston Churchill, is purported to have said, "No, that is the Opposition Party. The enemy is all around you." It's worth remembering that Corbyn's enemies in the right-wing of the party worked hard to try to keep this from happening, but, happily, their image is so tarnished and New Labour so out of touch that their rhetoric doesn't even make sense to anyone other than Tories, so it simply didn't work. (This does not mean that they aren't still trying to sabotage him.) The Democratic Party establishment, however, is much more clever and well-rehearsed these days, and quite experienced at back-stabbing its own candidates - and still has many of its supporters so completely dazzled that even now they run around daily posting little "Facebook memes" touting the brilliance of Obama for "saving" the economy and reducing the deficit, as if he hadn't merely saved the banks from facing the music after robbing the country blind to pay off their gambling debts while Obama's austerity measures sucked more and more blood out of the remainder of the economy. For half the country, we are already in a depression, and these idiots are still bragging about how Obama saved us from another depression. Even if Sanders wins the nomination, it would be a mistake to think it's just the Republicans we have to worry about.

Harold A. Pollack in The Atlantic, on Saving SSDI. You can listen to Sam Seder's interview with him here.

Billionaires Try To Shut Down Bernie Sanders Headquarters "Why don't they inherit it just like we do?"
* Oh, look, someone put Jon Stewart's bit on Bernie Sanders where I could actually see it.

From HuffPo, "Dear America: Meet Bernie Sanders. Properly, This Time [...] No candidate is ever inevitable and no candidate is ever doomed -- that is not how democracy works. A society that continually wishes to achieve political change in the most passive way possible is not a society that will ever achieve political change. A candidate is only inevitable or doomed if the voting public decides that to be the case."

Hillary trailing Bernie in New Hampshire, 49-38
Bernie Sanders takes the lead over Hillary Clinton in Iowa poll: Poll released Thursday found 41% of likely Democratic primary voters in the crucial early voting state would vote for Sanders, versus 40% for Clinton." Not so much a lead as a statistical tie, but still good news for Sanders supporters.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar is feeling the Bern.

"Bernie Sanders picks up megaphone, walks union picket in Cedar Rapids [...] Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, joined perhaps 100 Cedar Rapids-area union workers in an 'informational picket' outside Penford Products, a corn processor where the Bakers Confectioners Tobacco Grain Millers union local 100G is negotiating a new contract with the management. Sanders strolled up to the picket shortly before 5:30 p.m., picked up a sign stapled to a long stick and marched with the crowd to a park across the street from the plant. [...] Sanders' boisterous, arm-waving speech went deep into the details of the union local's disagreement with Penford - even calling out the CEO by name and criticizing her pay package. At one point the microphone went out, but he continued in a loud, hoarse voice until the man who had been leading chants during the picket approached and handed him a megaphone, which he took and used to finish his speech." There's a bit of video here where it says you can read the full story, which maybe you can, but I didn't see anything much but the video there. Browser issue, or did you get that, too?
* Also, Bernie on undocumented immigrants and what they didn't do to wreck America's economy.
* The Raw Story says, "Bernie Sanders' popularity continues to soar - despite a conspicuous mainstream media bias against him," but if you check out this CNN stream, you can see there's been some coverage of him, anyway. Of course, this doesn't tell me how much most Americans are seeing of this stuff, since it's still broadcast television that seems to be the main source of news for most people.
* Imagine my surprise at learning that Bernie's brother stood for Parliament in the UK, for the Green Party. He lost to a white South African immigrant.

Not sure why the headline for this video says "Biden Presidential Run Could Destroy Hillary's Pro-Corporate Candidacy," but we all know which candidate is the real threat to Clinton's candidacy.

Now, I'm sure you all know that I have been against another Clinton going to the White House for a long time, but not because of the "email scandal", which is only a scandal in that the press keeps running with it. I don't care how she handled it, it just is not a serious issue and has nothing to do with anything, it's like Whitewater all over again - no There there. The real scandal - and it's a big one - is that the press keeps covering it even though I'm sure most of them don't even know if she did anything wrong or not, mostly because they don't actually read up on the news so they wouldn't know that even the Republicans can't actually point to anything wrong or illegal in this. And while sexism has always been a factor, I think the Clinton Rules are a bigger one, because the press went crazy against the Clintons after Bill Clinton was nominated and they have never stopped treating every single rumor and lie about either Clinton as the gospel truth, nor failed to find a way to brand even their most innocent activities as conniving and dishonest. And after it turned out the Republicans had been hacking the Democrats' emails, I don't blame Hillary for wanting to keep her correspondence on a separate server, anyway. I wouldn't even go so far as to call it dumb. Dumb would be reducing the number of Democratic primaries and keeping a low profile while the press has nothing much else to report in the race except to cover and re-cover the email "scandal".

"You can wave your arms and give a speech but at the end of the day are you connecting with and really hearing what people are either saying to you or wishing that you would say to them? - Hillary Clinton. And are you really hearing people recoil in horror against TPP and the XL Pipeline, Madame Secretary?
* "Five Reasons No Progressive Should Support Hillary Clinton" is from way back in February, but that makes it better than more recent articles that harp on the email thing. There are many good reasons to oppose another Clinton presidency.
* "Hillary Clinton's Kinder, Gentler War on Drugs Sounds Like Nixon's."
* Hillary apparently told a closed gathering of top donors and party leadership types that while Bernie is fighting for an ideology, she's trying to save their jobs. Not your jobs, but their jobs. I mean, it's not like Bernie is going to let people like Rubin and Geithner and Emanuel ruin our economy again, is it? That's via a page at Ring of Fire headlined, "Biden Shocks Hillary Crowd by Stating 'Bernie Sanders Doing a Helluva Job'." Hm, I wonder what he was saying, there....
* If Hillary Clinton was doing debt-scare language four years ago, has she learned any better since then?
* Charlie Pierce says, "Hillary Clinton Should Fire Her Entire Campaign Staff: The flailing frontrunner's backup is all too willing to throw her under the bus."
* Even The Hill says, "DNC should increase number of debates and let Sanders (and others) battle Clinton." They also say Debbie Wasserman Schultz is kow-towing to Clinton's campaign as a way to stay in Washington power-politics, since without Clinton, nobody wants her. Not that Clinton loves her, either, but she's a handy tool for keeping down the competition. "So, it's obvious to everyone that Clinton benefits from limited debate. It's also common knowledge that more debates will give Sanders and other challengers greater name recognition, thus cutting Clinton's lead in the polls even further."

Once again, the Canadian parliamentary election season contains some unusual choices.

David Dayen at The Intercept: "Warren Increases the Pain Factor for Choosing Corporate-Friendly Democrats [...] The Obama administration, despite a clear preference for moderates with Wall Street ties for financial regulatory positions, now must consider a far broader range of personnel. Warren and company have prioritized this, believing that personnel affects policy when regulators must implement and enforce laws, or exercise independent judgment. Reducing Wall Street's influence inside those agencies will have a salutary effect on outcomes."

"Justice Department Sets Sights on Wall Street Executives [...] The new rules, issued in a memo to federal prosecutors nationwide, are the first major policy announcement by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch since she took office in April. The memo is a tacit acknowledgment of criticism that despite securing record fines from major corporations, the Justice Department under President Obama has punished few executives involved in the housing crisis, the financial meltdown and corporate scandals."

"Under new Oregon law, all eligible voters are registered unless they opt out." As it should be.

"Obama Orders Federal Contractors To Provide Paid Sick Leave." Of course, he could have done this six years ago, too.

"How many deaths of cops and those in police custody happened in Orange County since 1980? New California database has revealing numbers: Over the span of a generation in Orange County, nearly twice as many Hispanics died at the hands of police in 'justified homicides' as did whites, according to a trove of historical data released Wednesday by California Attorney General Kamala Harris."

5 facts exposing the media's lies about police shootings

Here is Michael Shermer's recent Scientific American article on "Forensic Pseudoscience, which much of what the cops use as "evidence" amounts to. Even fingerprints are unreliable, and CSI is, of course, a science fiction show. But people go to jail all the time based on phony science that has never been peer reviewed but can snow a jury that doesn't know any better and watches too many cop shows.

In The Nation, "What a Band of 20th-Century Alabama Communists Can Teach Black Lives Matter and the Offspring of Occupy

Ian Welsh, "Three Simple Policy Heuristics: First: Do no harm. Second: Be kind. Third: Remove the ability or reason for people to do harm."

Washington State Court Rules Charter Schools Unconstitutional

Three Rich Treasury Secretaries Laugh It Up Over Income Inequality. "It's just too easy for politicians to be populist and to look for scapegoats as opposed to dealing with the real problem." Proof that the people who've been running our economies have no idea how economies work or are just plain lying. I vote for the latter. You did this on purpose, you bastards!

"Court Rules Argentina Creditors Can't Seize Its Central Bank" - This is an interview with Bill Black, who explains: "Argentina dollarized its economy by pegging its peso at 1:1 with the U.S. dollar. And this was heavily supported by the right in the United States and by conservative economists, who held Argentina out as the great lesson for everybody else. But it ended in disaster. Because they no longer had a sovereign currency, as the U.S. dollar went up in value. Argentina could no longer export successfully, and there was an economic disaster. They were forced into the largest sovereign default in world history at roughly $100 billion, and this led to an economic crisis in Argentina. But also Argentina, in some sense, had no choice. The debt was completely unsustainable at $100 billion." And things might have been okay, until the Vulture Funds stepped in....

Catholics for Choice responds to Francis' statement on abortion.

Hawaii Will Turn Old City Buses Into Mobile Homeless Shelters With Showers

RIP: Candida Royalle, 64, of ovarian cancer. "She founded Femme Productions in 1984 in order to make female-oriented erotica and films aimed at couple's therapy. Later, Royalle authored How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do: Sex Advice from a Woman Who Knows.
* Judy Carne of Laugh-In, at 76
* Martin Milner of Route 66 and Adam 12, at 83

An interesting way to look at things: "Newsflash: Elite universities are supposed to produce elites. That's their job", but Tragically, elite universities are doing a terrible job of producing responsible elites. This is partly because they've become inexplicably uncomfortable with admitting that this is, in fact, what their job is..
* I'm not really sure "The Rise of Victimhood Culture" is looking at anything new. but I imagine it can feel new if you've forgotten a lifetime of watching people become downright crazy over some sense of being aggrieved, and how most people tend to either assume that "normal" people would agree with their position or try to round up supporters from their friendship or family circles and, yes, the wider community and the authorities. I do think a lot of people feel they have permission to be divas over a much wider array of interpersonal actions and to take offense in situations where the behavior involved really doesn't have to be interpreted as offensive at all. But, certainly, the attitude of, "Hey, my ox has been gored! Those bastards need to be taught a lesson! Who's with me?" is not exactly a feature of these particular times.

Please Stop Using the 'Fire in a Crowded Theater' Metaphor.

This was an amusing anti-emigration rant that apparently went viral on Facebook.

The oldest video footage of New York City

Nathan Fillion's Muppet Saunter of Shame

Safe sex with The Golden Girls

Don't you need this t-shirt? (Or you can get the decal for your computer.)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Thug Notes Summary & Analysis

Pies that look too cool to eat. Well, actually, I could be moved, especially to eat Cthulhu pie.

Fun with landscaping
* A Night on Earth

It appears I can watch one of my favorite episodes of Hamish MacBeth, "A Perfectly Simple Explanation," in a tiny, boxed and distorted video on YouTube.

B.B. King, "Guess Who"

A fine musical moment from the first Colbert Late Show

Fred & Ginger, 1936, "Let's Face The Music And Dance"

03 September 2015

Never mind the forecast, 'cause the sky has lost control

Avedon Carol talked about Puppies and science fiction, Bernie, Hillary, Corbyn, Trump, and election fraud on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd, and although there was a bit of drop-out (like when I said, "He wrote Glory Road!" which was completely gone), I'm happy to say that there were fewer technical problems than usual. (Of course, I had not yet read "Who Really Runs the Hugo Awards?" - but you can!)
* Stuart Zechman and Isaiah Poole discussed the tensions in the Sanders and Clinton campaigns with respect to popular policy, populist rhetoric and the role of identity politics in the primary process on Virtually Speaking Sundays. (I note that Isaiah mentioned Bernie's new press secretary but didn't say who she was - she's Symone Sanders, no relation.) But see CMike's comment to the previous post, where he's already commented on this VSS, about the numbers, and points out an error on Jay's part - a significant one.

On The Majority Report, Harvey J Kaye: The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great

Bernie spoke at the Democratic National Convention on Friday. I loved the name-check for Paul Wellstone. "If Democrats want to keep the White House and recapture Congress and make gains in statehouses, then establishment politics won't do it." That's the video, but there are written stories from CNN and elsewhere, and The Hill says he and O'Malley characterized the DNC's debate process as rigged: "The DNC has drawn criticism for scheduling only four debates before the early-primary states cast their votes, and six total throughout the election cycle." For a little background on how sleazy it all is, here's a story from earlier in the week that says, "In 2007, the number of pre-primary debates was 26, allowing Democrats to get a full hearing from the people in the Party running for the highest office in the nation. 6 of those debates were sanctioned by the DNC. So, according to Wasserman Schultz, nothing has changed. Except it has. This time around, there is a new rule and it states that any candidate who participates in an unsanctioned debate will not be able to participate in any of the 6 that are sanctioned by the DNC." O'Malley, of course, believes this restriction is illegal, which is why he's going to court. And at Five Thirty Eight, "Is Six Democratic Debates Too Few?

"Hurricane Katrina and Bernie Sanders: From Neoliberal Disaster to 'Political Revolution': There is only one presidential candidate who has consistently fought for the kinds of policies that New Orleans so desperately required prior to and during Katrina, and that it needs now more than ever." Adolph Reed is no starry-eyed, innocent child, so when he talks up Bernie Sanders, that's a big deal.

Meanwhile, Sanders has also picked up endorsements from Killer Mike, David Crosby, Belinda Carlisle, and from Woz.

The most interesting thing about this article may be that it's in Forbes. "Why Hillary Clinton Lacks Credibility On Criminal Justice Reform"

Guy Sapertstein and Gaius Publius, "The Racial Justice Failures That Hillary Clinton Can't Ignore [...] History has not been kind to the Clintons' record and it is possible that Bill Clinton while president, with no public objections and often with enthusiastic support from Hillary, did more damage to the black community than any modern American president."

Jeet Heer in The New Republic, "Donald Trump Is Not a Populist. He's the Voice of Aggrieved Privilege" - and how "populist" became a dirty word.

"Democratic Blues: Barack Obama will leave his party in its worst shape since the Great Depression - even if Hillary wins." I don't understand the "even if" bit - it will take a long time to repair the damage Obama has done to the Democratic Party even if Bernie wins, but if Hillary wins it will be even harder since she hasn't shown much willingness to depart from Obama's horrible policies and strategies.

It's a funny thing how right-wingers are all for "accountability" from teachers, but not so much when it's the cops.

"Supreme Court Strikes Down Unconstitutional 'Three Strikes' Law" - This is a great victory, and, surprisingly, was an 8-1 decision, with Scalia writing for the majority. The sole dissenting voice was Alito, mainly because his thinking capacity is so limited that he objected on the grounds that he didn't like the particular guy in the specific case, but even Scalia could see past that one.

EFF: "Appeals Court Falls for Government's Shell Game in NSA Spying Case:The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit's opinion today in Klayman v. Obama is highly disappointing and, worse, based on a mistaken concern about the underlying facts. The court said that since the plaintiffs' phone service was provided by one subsidiary of Verizon - Verizon Wireless - rather than another - Verizon Business - they couldn't prove that they had standing to sue. The court sent the case back to U.S. District Judge Richard Leon to give the Klayman plaintiffs an opportunity to prove that their records were in fact collected. The appeals court did not rule one way or the other of the constitutionality of the mass collection program. As an initial matter, recent releases by the government make clear that the plaintiffs' records were in fact collected. Earlier this month, in response to a Freedom of Information request from the New York Times, the government released documents confirming that it does indeed collect bulk telephone records from Verizon Wireless under Section 215. Specifically, the formally-released documents reference orders to Verizon Wireless as of September 29, 2010, when they had to report a problem to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This should mean that the plaintiffs records were collected, at least as of 2010, but likely long before and after. The government should give up its shell game here and admit the time frame that it collected the Klayman plaintiffs records, along with all other Verizon Wireless customers.

Spocko: "What good can come out of the Ashley Madison Hack? [...] Let's start demanding the organizations that hold our private data have greater accountability to protect it and more liability when it is taken.The massive class action suit against the parent company of Ashley Madison is a start, but not enough. We also need to demand nationwide reporting of breaches. It's ridiculous that if you don't live in a state with mandated reporting the company or organization never has to tell you about it. Next we need an agency who actually wants to help us protect our data. But, since the fear is no entity can be trusted, we need to push for the tools to maintain some control over our privacy."

"The Miami Herald has filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Corrections, alleging that the agency has violated the state's open record laws by withholding information about suspicious deaths and possible sexual and physical assaults of inmates at the hands of corrections officers in the state prison system.

A guy shot and killed two of his co-workers, journalists from WDBJ, live on television. But a funny thing happened to coverage of the story on CNN. (via)

"Everyone But The NY Times Realizes James O'Keefe Is A Joke "

So, how's that whole closing Guantanamo thing going?

The Greeks are now being accused of plotting a secret exit from the Euro. Of course, it would have been completely irresponsible of them not to explore what it would take to do that, since it would be the best thing they could do. But it seems it couldn't be done fast enough, which is why it didn't happen - yet. Anyway, since he was involved, TRN did an Interview with James K. Galbraith on Grexit plans.

"This week, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, The Palast Investigative Fund is offering my film, Big Easy to Big Empty: The Untold Story of the Drowning of New Orleans as a FREE download." Watch the trailer.
Harry Shearer's "The Big Uneasy" is currently available on Vimeo if you missed it five years ago or would like to see it again. (You really should.) Via Nicole Sandler's show post commemorating the tenth anniversary of Katrina, where you can listen to that whole show.

Wine Train apologizes for kicking a group of black women off the train for laughing: "'The Napa Valley Wine Train was 100 percent wrong in its handling of this issue,' said wine train chief executive officer Anthony 'Tony' Giaccio. 'We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests.' [...] The company is offering the group a free wine tour for 50 people. 'You can enjoy yourself as loudly as you desire,' the company pledged." They also apologized for and took down a post on their Facebook page accusing the women of verbal and physical aggression.

"CRTC Hits Porn Channels For Not Enough Canadian Content: Who knew cable porn channels had a Canadian content requirement?"

Christopher Priest leaps to the defense of Terry Pratchett. I remember years ago reading an article in Time Out from a woman who had been assigned to write about Pratchett and proceeded to state that she had not read any so she just asked her male friends if it was just boy's stuff and they said that it was, thus proving they hadn't read it, either. She rattled on for several more paragraphs but... seriously? That's how a "professional journalist" covers an assignment? So now we have some nitwit over on the Guardian's blog pontificating on the lack of quality of Pratchett's work which he says he hasn't got time to waste actually reading it. I don't know where these people come from.

Video of the Hugo presentation is posted here in four parts. If you want to skip straight to the presentation itself, it starts at the 1:07 mark on part 2. Mr. Sideshow's highlight picks are "James Bacon accepting the Best Fanzine Hugo at 7:50 in part 3, basically because his was the best acceptance speech IMO." Also, the presenter at 6:25 in part 4, and "How the Best Novel Nominations were announced at 25.50 part 4."

John Scalzi, "A Thing Not to Do When You're Smart"

"The Women Other Women Don't See [..] Women have always made a significant contribution to the field ever since science fiction as a genre came into existence. They contributed as fans. They contributed as editors. They contributed as writers. To say otherwise is to marginalize their contribution and their work. Especially if you're pushing an agenda."

About halfway down in this interview with Patrick Stewart, he reveals something that makes you sit up and say, "How could you not know that?"

Kurosawas Dreams, Van Gogh

Twinkling solar bike path inspired by Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night pops up in the Netherlands

Why these colored water droplets seem to be alive

Irish comedian Dara O Braian on Science vs. Quackery

Novelty Automation

The Head of Franz Kafka in Prague, kinetic statue.

I admit to looking at some of these clever tiny home designs and indulging a five-minute fantasy of living that way right before I remember why that would not be possible for people who could never bring themselves to let go of our collections of books, magazines, fanzines, boxes of paper correspondence, and on, and on, and on....

I just listened to a vid from Omnibus and I lost count of the different ethnicities the music seemed to cover. Even got some Armenian church picnic in there....

A capella "Hotel California"

OK, this has three different animation sets - and ends with the one I couldn't find on YouTube the other day: The Beatles Rock Band Cut Scene Intro-Outro. (I thought the middle one was a bit of a let-down.)

Postmodern Jukebox: "My Heart Will Go On" - with doo-wops!

Laura Nyro Live at the Seattle Opera House April 10 1971