Friday, October 2, 2015

Playoff season

"Don't understand what's happening with Planned Parenthood and John Boehner? Carly Fiorina? Cliff & Digby shed some light. Plus Culture of Truth," on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Credo says "Tell Congress: Ban private for-profit prisons: Sen. Bernie Sanders just introduced a bill to end one of the biggest contributors to America's broken criminal justice system: private, corporate-run, for-profit prisons." They have a petition.

Chart of the day: Inequality in life expectancy widens for women.

"A mathematician may have uncovered widespread election fraud, and Kansas is trying to silence her [...] According to the Wichita Eagle, Wichita State mathematician Beth Clarkson has found irregularities in election returns from Sedgwick County, along with other counties throughout the United States, but has faced stiff opposition from the state in trying to confirm whether the irregularities are fraud or other, less-nefarious anomalies. Analyzing election returns at a precinct level, Clarkson found that candidate support was correlated, to a statistically significant degree, with the size of the precinct. In Republican primaries, the bias has been toward the establishment candidates over tea partiers. In general elections, it has favored Republican candidates over Democrats, even when the demographics of the precincts in question suggested that the opposite should have been true."

David Sirota, "Hillary Clinton Prescription Drug Plan Challenges Past Policies Of Bill And Hillary Clinton: Touting her commitment to lowering healthcare costs, Hillary Clinton this week unveiled a plan that she says will drive down the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs. The initiative from the Democratic presidential candidate was billed as a challenge to the pharmaceutical industry -- but it is also a rebuke of some of the major pharmaceutical policies of Bill and Hillary Clinton."
* "Hillary Tells Biotech Indus. to Change Marketing of GMO, not Product: Americans will then Want GMO."
* "Clinton opposed LGBTQ-friendly gender-neutral passport forms: Hillary Clinton vehemently opposed the State Department's 2010 decision to use 'parent one and two' instead of 'mother and father' on U.S. passport applications, according to a newly released email from her time in office."
* "Sanders & O'Malley Object To Democratic Debate Schedule But Clinton Reportedly Only Wanted Four Debates [...] Democrats are risking a serious problem with turnout if Hillary Clinton wins the nomination in a year when the outsiders are creating all the excitement. This problem could be further exacerbated should she be the nominee by this limited debate schedule. Clinton's fear of facing her Democratic challengers could seriously hurt her should she be the candidate in the general election."

Frank Rich, "The importance of Donald Trump: Far from destroying our democracy, he's exposing all its phoniness and corruption in ways as serious as he is not. And changing it in the process. [...] Some kind of farce, nonetheless, is just what the modern presidential campaign has devolved into. By calling attention to that sorry state of affairs 24/7, Trump's impersonation of a crypto-fascist clown is delivering the most persuasively bipartisan message of 2016." Rich discussed this with Sam Seder on The Majority Report.
* Rich mentioned Chris Rock in Head of State, which I've never seen, so I looked at clips. Here he is saying, "That ain't right!"

Tavis Smiley interviews the presidential candidate from the Green Party, Dr. Jill Stein.

"Bernie Sanders claims more than 1 million donations."

"What the Pundits and Experts Fail to Understand about the Bernie Sanders Phenomenon [...] So the pundits look at Sanders, a man who is clearly not a political acrobat, and conclude he couldn't possibly win the tight-rope race. But of course Sanders isn't walking a tight-rope, he's competing on foot. So we shouldn't be asking ourselves who is faster between Clinton and Sanders, that is what the pundits are doing and it is precisely why they keep getting it wrong. The real question is can she walk a tight-rope faster than Bernie can run on the ground?"

Stephen Colbert interviews Ted Cruz. It always interests me that Republicans want things to be matters "for the states" because the Constitution says so, but they never refer to the rest of the Tenth Amendment, "or to the people". ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.") In this case, because it's already pretty clear that the people do not want to ban gay marriage.

Scott Walker drops out of presidential race; Orange Mike not happy: "My concern is that, like an abusive spouse returning from an unsuccessful business trip, he will come back to Wisconsin and beat us up some more, doubling-down on his attacks on almost every non-millionaire Wisconsinite, especially those of us with the gall to work for the public or to have unions or (shudder!) both, while shouting the management equivalent of, 'You lazy bitch! Look what you made me do!'" And that's just what he's doing.

I remember after Obama won the election and suddenly various Democratic organizations I'd never signed up for and including Obama's own organizations were sending me constant offers to sell me T-shirts and coffee mugs. Seriously missing from all of these mails were requests to come help put all that eager enthusiasm that won Obama the presidency to work. No one looking for skills, looking for warm bodies, looking to make any of that "change" we'd been hearing about. The only materials I was getting from these people that weren't trying to get me to buy promotional materials were talking points to defend Obama from whatever talking points The Enemy (sometimes Republicans, sometimes the "crazy left") were putting forward. None of it was aimed at substantively addressing the real problems of Americans, although some of it was thinly-disguised hostage-taking on behalf of terrible programs we had to pass in order to make minor improvements in systems that needed major overhauls. I cannot think of a better way to kill a budding movement. I don't suspect Jeremy Corbyn of wanting to keep all his young supporters bamboozled and sequestered in another veal pen the way Obama did, but I hope he is giving a lot of thought to how to avoid doing it wrong.

The WSJ took a poll and found out America is a liberal country. Well, yes, it's supposed to be, it's called "liberal government", that's what the whole Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are about. But anyway, Americans like the Republicans even less than they like the Democrats, and no one wants to defund Planned Parenthood. Since I can't see the original article, I don't know if they mentioned those other little issues like, y'know, the economy and Social Security and whether people are more afraid of government power than they are of banks and corporate power, but anyone who reads polls can tell you that even most Republicans are liberal on these issues.

"Democrats Victorious As Senate Passes CR That Keeps Planned Parenthood Funded."
* Unconstitutional: If corporations are people, defunding Planned Parenthood is a bill of attainder.

"Investigation: Secret Service tried to discredit US lawmaker: WASHINGTON (AP) - Scores of U.S. Secret Service employees improperly accessed the decade-old, unsuccessful job application of a congressman who was investigating scandals inside the agency, a new government report said Wednesday. An assistant director suggested leaking embarrassing information to retaliate against Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House oversight committee."

"'Snowden Treaty' Under Review By Multiple Countries: A draft of the 'Snowden Treaty,' which would expand international legal obligations to protect privacy and whistleblowers, is under review by multiple countries."

"Profiled: From Radio to Porn, British Spies Track Web Users' Online Identities."

"Three Exceptional Facts About the US: It's Safe to Be Paranoid" Exceptional Fact #1: Failure Is Success, or the U.S. Remains the Sole Superpower; Exceptional Fact #2: Americans Are Actually Safe and Secure; Exceptional Fact #3: A Culture of Victimhood Is Developing Among the Inhabitants of the Planet's Sole Superpower.

"South Dakota no longer requires kids to learn about the Constitution, Native Americans, or slavery"

Journalist David Dayen's forthcoming Chain of Title named the latest winner of the Studs and Ida Terkel Prize. Chain of Title is the dramatic true story of how, in the depths of the Great Recession, a nurse, a car dealership worker, and a forensic expert helped uncover the largest consumer crime in American history - a scandal that implicated dozens of major executives on Wall Street. They called it foreclosure fraud: millions of families were kicked out of their homes based on false evidence by mortgage companies that had no legal right to foreclose.

CNN did an awesome interview with Ben Carson, who wants to shut down the government to defund Planned Parenthood - a perfectly legal organization that does legal and beneficial things for citizens - because he wants to "protect all life", but the death penalty should be a civil matter, and Muslims can't be trusted to uphold the Constitution because (the most extreme interpretations of) their religion wouldn't allow them to prioritize the Constitution. Oh, and he wants to be president, but being asked about his position on Muslims in the presidency was too much for him, so his campaign manager stopped the interview.

CMike alerts me to Charlie Rose's astonishingly stupid interview with Vladimir Putin, as described by James Howard Kunstler. "I guess Charlie and the 60-Minutes production crew hadn't noticed what had gone on around the Middle East the past fifteen years with America's program of toppling dictators into the maw of anarchy. Not such great outcomes." (Link to the video of the interview.) CMike also linked to this little story from Putin. Perhaps it tells us something.

Scott Lemieux says David Broder still lives at The Washington Post: "Our Conclusion, As Always: Both Sides Do It [...] If I understand correctly, what being on 'the far left' means in this instance is 'opposing massively unpopular Social Security cuts.' And Obama was supposed to 'stand up' to the 'far left' by continuing to make offers to Republicans he knew they would refuse. This is one of those times where to state an argument is to refute it." I suppose I shouldn't bring up the fact that the tax bite Obama was asking for was so tiny and so unlikely to collect any real revenues as to be a laughable exchange for the quite serious sacrifice of cutting Social Security, and we should be damned grateful that the Republicans refused to bite. The very fact that Obama was asking for so little suggested his real goal was those Social Security cuts and not raising taxes at all.

"Cops Brutally Beat Police Misconduct Investigator After Turning Off Dash Cam."

"Cowardly brutality exposed: The viral video that should change the Israel/Palestine debate forever [...] One would have thought that the video would have occasioned some circumspection, or at least awkward silence, among Israelis and what remains of their rapidly thinning fan club in the U.S., but no - of course not. Israel's minister of culture took to the media to declare that the army's open-fire regulations ought to be changed to officially permit shooting unarmed Palestinians in order 'to put an end to the humiliation.' Better, then, for the soldier to have gunned the family down in cold blood than to have failed to snatch their 12-year-old. Such are the choices to which Israel now finds itself reduced." To put an end to "the humiliation." Yeah, that's a good reason.

As Atrios points out, the Volkswagen scandal is a classic case of management criminality for which people far down the chain will take the hit. Bloomberg: "Volkswagen has blamed its emissions scandal on a 'small group' of people and has suspended a number of staff as Matthias Müller was unveiled as its new chief executive. Müller, who has been promoted from his role as boss of Porsche, pledged to leave 'no stone unturned' and 'maximum transparency' in an investigation into how the company cheated emissions tests on diesel cars. The new VW boss did not reveal how many staff had been suspended or who they were, but the company said the scandal was the result of 'unlawful behaviour of engineers and technicians involved in engine development'."

The Data Are Damning: How Race Influences School Funding: Research shows that in Pennsylvania's public schools skin color, not economics, determines how much money districts get. [...] 'If you color code the districts based on their racial composition you see this very stark breakdown. At any given poverty level, districts that have a higher proportion of white students get substantially higher funding than districts that have more minority students.' That means that no matter how rich or poor the district in question, funding gaps existed solely based on the racial composition of the school. Just the increased presence of minority students actually deflated a district's funding level. 'The ones that have a few more students of color get lower funding than the ones that are 100 percent or 95 percent white,' Mosenkis said."

"Pope Francis Enters the House Chamber and Gives The Only Handshake to John Kerry. "The Pope knows Kerry from his recent work on the Iran deal, but this is also a profound shift for Kerry. Josh Lederman of the AP pointed out that Kerry was once denied communion over his support for choice for women." I keep wondering how this pope even got elected, since he was chosen by the same people who either picked Benedict or were picked by him. But he's definitely a big departure from his predecessor - he actually mentioned Dorothy Day! - and since he demoted the guy who said Kerry and Pelosi shouldn't get communion, I think that handshake was pretty pointed. More details from Rachel Maddow.
* But he's not such a cuddly pope as he appears: "Pope Francis Excommunicates Priest Who Backed Women's Ordination and Gays."
* And from back in February, "Pope Francis says trans people destroy creation and compares them to nuclear weapons."
* "How Pope Francis Undermined the Goodwill of His Trip and Proved to Be a Coward: After first refusing to confirm nor deny it, the Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis met with the Kentucky clerk Kim Davis at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, where Davis' attorney -- who made the news public after the pope's trip ended -- said Francis told her to 'stay strong.' And that simple encounter completely undermines all the goodwill the pope created in downplaying 'the gay issue' on his U.S. trip."
* But Charlie Pierce wonders, "Was Pope Francis Actually Swindled into Meeting Kim Davis?" Update: The Vatican confirms that Charlie Pierce was correct.

"Why Is College So Expensive if Professors Are Paid So Little?" Like a lot of private enterprise these days, the folks in charge think it's more important to hire a lot of overpaid "management" to run the place rather than hire and pay the people who are actually needed to get the job done.

"Debacle, Inc.: How Henry Kissinger Helped Create Our 'Proliferated' World"

What poverty looks like in America - They studied real people who live on $2.00 a day, and that's good, but I wish the authors would spend some time thinking about where jobs come from. It can't start with the private sector - that's not how things work. And this public-private partnership stuff keeps right on failing.

Driftglass' latest unpacking of David Brooks is worth reading just to get to the candy surprise at the end.

The honest campaign ad - vote for Gil!

The thing that is making me crazy is that I never know when I am going to fall asleep, but when it's time the demand comes hard and fast, and then I know I have to lie down right now. I did look outside the other night and see that the sky was clear and the moon was big and gorgeous, but the sleep thing hit me sometime around midnight and that was that. Some people did get to see the eclipse, though.

For people who are not sleeping too much and instead are being kept up by a cold, science allegedly says your best cold cure is a hot toddy. Or at least, the internet says science says it.

RIP: D. West (8 July 1945-25 September 2015), occasionally known as "Don", legendary fanartist, critic, founder of the Astral Leauge (pronounced "Loog"), major figure from Leeds fandom, author of renown - most notably of "Performance",* publisher and author of the fanzine Daisnaid (Do As I Say Not As I Do), I beat him at dominos. I'm still shocked at the notion that D. West can die. He was diagnosed with lung cancer only shortly before his death, which I guess saved him a lot of trauma from life-prolonging misery. He could be pretty scary, but he backed me up when I was trying to explain to Michael Ashley about the Beatles, so he was all right with me.

Julian Lennon has a new collection up, of photographs of Venice.

My team has clinched the division.


  1. Faith and Fear in Flushing posted some nice stuff about the division champions and ballpark history: "Welcome Home" and "Carry On My Sheaward Son." (Caryn Rose [metsgrrl] does not seem to be writing much these days.)

    I think I've cut back on the political reading, but more likely I just stockpile it and read it when I'm less likely to throw things at walls. What were the principled objections to Talleyrand and Metternich again?

    The St. Vartan's Armenian Food Festival is this weekend, om nom nom.

    1. They all do - my family's church, too, and I'm hungry just thinking about it. I miss that every year, it's so much fun.

  2. Sanders & O'Malley Object To Democratic Debate Schedule But Clinton Reportedly Only Wanted Four Debates
    This is typical dog-in-the-manger behavior from our corporatist Dems. They'd rather lose elections than control of the party.