Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy Advent

It's time for this.

Dave Johnson and Isaiah Poole discussed Sanders on Democratic Socialism; Trump on Muslim Americans, and Warren on corporate tax reform on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Bernie Sanders releases two new television ads, "A Rigged Economy" and "Works for All of Us." (Story here.)
* Bernie Sanders' speech on democratic socialism at Georgetown University
*WaPo's Wonkblog: "Bernie Sanders is right: The top 0.1 percent have as much as the bottom 90 percent."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at The National Press Club
* Elizabeth Warren Takes On 'Insider Washington' At CAF Awards Gala
* By the way, did you see the ad the financiers came up with to smear the CPFB? It's rather amazing.

For contrast, CMike supplies a few moments of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. I've got my problems with Martin O'Malley (boy, do I!), but he is right about debates. It's just bizarre, after all these years of trying to do something about the lopsided coverage on television that is really all-Republicans all the time, to hear Democrats defending the idea of reducing one of the few chances they have to get air time.

"Democratic Race Heats Up As Bernie Sanders Gains 10 Points On Hillary Clinton: According to the ABC News/Washington Post poll, Hillary Clinton has gone from leading Bernie Sanders 56%-22% in October to 59%-35% in November. Support for Sen. Sanders is up thirteen percent, and support for former Sec. of State Clinton has gone up by three percent in the past month. Voters said that the three most important issues in the election are the economy (33%), healthcare (13%), and immigration (10%)."

This is worrying: Van Hollen is way ahead of Edwards in the polls. Someone needs to get the lead out to raise Donna Edwards' standing, Maryland shouldn't be represented in the US Senate by a faux "progressive" like Chris van Hollen.

I can't help being glad to be rid of him, but is this a victory? "John Bel Edwards, Democrat, Defeats David Vitter in Louisiana Governor's Race:[...] A more promising red state Democrat could hardly have been found than Mr. Edwards, a Catholic social conservative from a family of rural law enforcement officers who graduated from West Point and served eight years of active duty in the Army."

"Is Clinton Still a Carbon Candidate? The Data to Date [...] I think the answer to the above question, in all fairness, has to be "Yes" until she proves otherwise. I'm open to being shown otherwise - as are we all who care about our children's and grandchildren's future. But the weight of evidence so far is this - under a President Clinton, no halt to carbon emissions, and no commitment to one, will be forthcoming. Does that mean she doesn't care about climate change. No, but it does mean she won't act effectively to prevent it."
* "Clinton, Finally Forced to Confront a Single Payer Advocate in Debate, Can't Win on Policy, Falls Back on Demagoguery and Distortion" - This is a good unpacking both of Clinton's "nuanced" language in the debate and Sanders' failure to call her out on it.
* "Believe It: Trump Can Defeat Hillary
* "Hillary Clinton, the Democrats' Dick Cheney" - There is a lot wrong with this article but one thing is true: "No, what makes Hillary Clinton the Dick Cheney of the Democrats is Libya. You heard that right - Clinton is to Obama in Libya what Cheney was to President Bush in Iraq. Against other voices urging caution, they both strongly advocated the invasion of a country that, lacking a follow-up plan to restore stability, fell into complete chaos."

Possibly the most amazing news of the week: "Mike Huckabee Calls Planned Parenthood Shooting 'Domestic Terrorism'." I don't think most of us predicted that, since the media had already agreed not to call it terrorism.

Ohio's Vote Against Pot Legalization Was 'Statistically Impossible': "The conclusion that the vote was stolen is almost inescapable. [...] The Columbus Free Press asked Baiman to calculate the odds of the official vote count of Ohio's Issue 3, to legalize marijuana, being correct - compared to the tracking polls charting voter preference leading up to this year's November election. The Free Press supplied Baiman with poll results taken prior to the election by noted pollster Jon Zogby. The polls leading into the November 3 vote showed the referendum passing. But the official results claim it lost by 2:1."

"GOP senators press Obama on prescription drug imports: Two top Republicans are urging the Obama administration to open up access to imported prescription drugs to prevent steep hikes in drug prices. Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and John McCain (Ariz.) sent a letter on Monday asking Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to use her power under existing federal regulations to allow patients to directly purchase certain drugs, particularly those that have been subject to sharp price increases." But not a word about negotiating drug prices, of course.

"Wall Street: Democrats Work To Block New Regulations After Flood Of Campaign Cash."

Marcy Wheeler: "Obama Administration Changed the Rationale for Why Assassinations Don't Violate the Assassination Prohibition." I like the way they keep stressing domestic law, as if they are entitled to violate the law (and the Constitution!) as long as they do it somewhere else. They're not.

3 Men Charged In Plot to Bomb Black Churches

"Judge Gives Man 60 Years In Prison For Driving With Suspended License." This story is unclear about whether the sentence is the result of a mandatory minimum or the judge handed down a maximum that makes no sense.

After Endless Demonization Of Encryption, Police Find Paris Attackers Coordinated Via Unencrypted SMS

The US makes more unbelievable excuses for the airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital.

Former Drone Pilots to Obama: Civilian Killings Driving 'Terrorism, Instability'

"Dems call for ouster of Obama's drug chief: Several House Democrats are calling for the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to step aside after he referred to medical marijuana as a 'joke.'"

Scott Walker calls 'em in to see how to save money on health care. Doubt he'd do what they said, but if he did, he'd probably find some way to screw it up: "State could save $42 million a year through self-insurance, consultant says."

"Kentucky Restores Voting Rights for Thousands of Ex-Felons: Governor Steve Beshear, Democrat of Kentucky, only has two weeks left in office, but he's determined to go out with a bang. Beshear announced today that he is issuing an executive order restoring voting rights for nonviolent ex-felons who have completed their sentences. This will give 170,000 ex-offenders the opportunity to register to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice." This is great news, we need more states to restore felon voting rights - or not take them away at all. "In 1792, Kentucky became the first state to adopt a constitution preventing those with criminal convictions from being able to vote. Many states adopted felon voting bans after the Civil War, when African-Americans were granted the right to vote with the passage of the 15th Amendment. 'Felon voting restrictions were the first widespread set of legal disenfranchisement measures that would be imposed on African-Americans,' found a 2003 study from sociologists at the University of Minnesota and Northwestern."

David Neiwert, "The Fear: As Groundless Then As It Is Now" - It should be astonishing that anyone in government would use the internment of the Japanese in World War II as a justification for

"New Hampshire SEIU branch backs Sanders: The New Hampshire branch of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is endorsing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for president, bucking the powerful labor group's international leadership. The endorsement from SEIU Local 1984 comes just two days after the international union backed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for president. "

Borowitz nails this one: "G.O.P. Unveils Immigration Plan: 'We Must Make America Somewhere No One Wants to Live'".

Rick Perry Loses, Ordered To Stand Trial For Felony Abuse Of Power

Public Citizen: "TPP Financial Stability Threats Unveiled: It's Worse than We Thought: Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch has carefully analyzed the Financial Services Chapter of the recently released Trans-Pacific Partnership. One story that has not been told about the TPP is how this first U.S. trade agreement negotiated since the global financial crisis would impose the same model of financial deregulation that is widely understood to have fueled the crisis. For the first time in any U.S. trade agreement, the TPP empowers some of the world's largest financial firms to challenge U.S. financial regulatory policies in extrajudicial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals using the broadest 'minimum standard of treatment' claim."

Sanders Says Pfizer-Allergan Merger 'Disaster' for Americans
* Pfizer-Allergan Merger: How Much Will U.S. Treasury Lose Out On In Taxes?

Law enforcement took more stuff from people than burglars did last year

One year after: "Texas dad left paralyzed when cops beat him 'like a bunch of thugs' after mistaking him for drug suspect."

"The National Security State's Incestuous Relationship With Islamic State"

Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam

What is most remarkable about "In defence of Jeremy Corbyn" is not so much its content but the fact that it appears in the Spectator: "What strange people we Brits are. We spend years moaning that our politicians are cynical opportunists who don't stand for anything. Then along comes an opposition leader who has principles - and appears to stick by them even when it makes him unpopular - and he is dismissed as a joke. Jeremy Corbyn has been ridiculed in recent days for the feebleness of his foreign policy. It is widely agreed that his positions on terrorism and Isis show how unelectable and useless he is. At the same time, we say he is a grave threat to national security. But what has Corbyn said that is so stupid or dangerous? In the wake of the attacks in Paris, he declared that Britain 'must not be drawn into responses that feed the cycle of violence and hate'. He has urged his country not to 'keep making the same mistakes' in the Middle East, something he has been saying for decades. 'Enthusiasm for interventions has only multiplied the threats to us,' he says, not unreasonably. He has said he will not support airstrikes in Syria unless it is clear that military action will help us achieve our strategic objective of defeating Isis." It sure would be nice to see more of that in the Guardian.
* Similarly, Matthew Parris in The Times, unfortunately behind the paywall with "The bombs-away brigade are on autopilot." The teaser: Amazingly, Corbyn is right. The hawks just want to join a scrap with their mates and haven't a clue what happens afterwards 'If not now, when?' asked the prime minister this week: a question that has surely preceded some of the silliest decisions in history. It could have been asked before Iraq. It could have been asked before Afghanistan or Libya, or Suez. It was probably asked before the Charge of the Light Brigade. There is no right time for an unwise decision." Of course, if you want to read the whole thing, you could enlarge this tweet. It's actually pretty good, and a nice piece of writing.

Cannabis is a wonder drug, again. "The National Cancer Institute recently released its report on medical marijuana. The overview of their conclusion is, THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) caused a 45 percent reduction in bladder cancer, remission in breast and liver cancer and more."

Juan Cole: "Why did Turkey dare shoot down a Russian Plane? The Proxy War in Syria"

"Tangled Threads of US False Narratives: Official Washington's many false narratives about Russia and Syria have gotten so tangled that they have become a danger to the struggle against Sunni jihadist terrorism and conceivably a threat to the future of the planet, a risk that Robert Parry explores."

The Difference Between Middlemen and A Real New Economy

At The New Yorker, the solution to our problems is Printing Money: "

Adolph Reed, "Identity Politics Is Neoliberalism [...] Sure, those earlier struggles relied on a discourse of racial justice, but their targets were concrete and strategic. It is only in a period of political demobilization that the historical specificities of those struggles have become smoothed out of sight in a romantic idealism that homogenizes them into timeless abstractions like 'the black liberation movement' - an entity that, like Brigadoon, sporadically appears and returns impelled by its own logic." This is a bit less accessible than most of the pieces I've seen by Reed on the subject, but there it is.

Somehow I missed the news that Dilbert's creator is like a parody of a male supremacist. Are you sure this isn't a comedy bit?

"The Incredible Tale of World War II's Single Deadliest Homefront Disaster: Chances are you've never heard of the Port Chicago disaster. Yet it was the worst catastrophe on the US home front during World War II. It was the single deadliest incident on the mainland during the war, and remains one of the worst calamities to ever hit the San Francisco Bay Area. Yet today, it largely lives on only in the memories of long-time locals who actually heard the blast, and, as we'll see, civil rights historians."

The UK government asked the public to comment on whether they want to make a complete mess of the NHS. Well, they sort of asked.

Pussy Riot releases video for 'Refugees In' filmed at Banksy's Dismaland.

It's just a tiny west African country, not central Africa where the problem has such deep roots (even in Christian countries), but it's a tiny, tiny start: "Gambia bans female genital mutilation."

I'm always hesitant about articles like this that try to divide people up into different red and blue psychologies, but ultimately, the conclusion is right: Bring them economic security and they will vote for it.

In 1941 Dr. Seuss sent a message that, sadly, hasn't lost its meaning.

Mack McCormick, Student of Texas Blues, Dies at 85: Mack McCormick, a folklorist who spent a lifetime searching out forgotten or unrecorded blues singers all over Texas, helped revive the career of Lightning Hopkins and unearthed a trove of historical material on hundreds of blues singers, including Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lead Belly, died on Nov. 18 at his home in Houston.

A 1950s Superman Poster Says What We All Need To Hear About American Values Right Now

This is an animal? It looks like canvas and plastic to me....

If girls were boys for a day...

This is sorta cute - Rumor joined by P.F. Sloan to back her up on "P.F. Sloan."

Antsy McClain & Tommy Smothers, "Prozac Made Me Stay" - Yep, that Tommy Smothers.

"Peace On Earth" - an oldie but a goodie.


  1. That Kos piece is spot on:

    "[T]he people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process."

    "The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns."

    Of course, he's wrong when he says there are no easy answers for Democrats. Stop supporting neoliberals, start supporting FDR liberals. And even more important IMHO, stop insulting hardworking Americans. You may have contempt for that 2nd group, they may even merit it, but when you insult the entire population of the South or say Texas, do you think that's going to get them to the polls (even if the Dems were trotting out a legion of Bern).

  2. John Bel Edwards is promising to - seems to be working on - a Medicaid expansion in Louisiana. There's lots of other reasons to dislike him, but I'll take that.

  3. Oh, BTW, the tardigrade is typically only half a millimeter long, which is why it looks so weird to eyes tuned to larger organisms.

  4. I don't think the Ohio pot vote was stolen. I think people rightly decided not to give a monopoly to a few rich people and enshrine that monopoly in perpetuity.

  5. The security establishment has become dependent on sources of info that are part of the terrorist establishment, since we don't have a presence there - which does result in our getting self-serving info from whoever has won our confidence for long enough to get themselves into our good graces and get support for whatever they're trying to do. These elements come and go, in their own struggles.

  6. I discovered Seuss's political cartoons out of boredom. One day, I was down in the bound periodicals section of the library at William and Mary, and saw PM, which I recognized as the paper that published "Barnaby." I opened a volume to see if I could find any Barnaby strips, and found Seuss. A while later, I decided I should go back and copy the Seuss cartoons out, as the ones I saw were not only zany artworks, but seemed like pretty cogent expressions of liberal thought at the time. They'd moved the volumes off the shelves, and were about to put them in an off-site storage location. Luckily, they were still around, in a narrow closet lit by one light bulb.

    I made two passes through the years when I could detect Seuss. The first time, I put little sticky notes on pages to copy later, and the second time, I lugged the fragile tomes to the copier, tearing at least one page, and cringing at the delicate little flakes of page edges that fell festively whenever I moved them in any way. Besides the Seuss cartoons, I found Steinberg, and Weegee, and lots of interesting news pictures (like cartoons drawn by Disney strikers — my scans of my photocopies can be viewed in the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco). For several weeks, I put in evening and weekend time, and filled a box with about a ream and a half or maybe two reams of copies.

    I regarded them as prime trading material — something nobody else had. Not much after that (seemed like less than a year), somebody put out a book of the Seuss cartoons, and they're available online. I might still scan mine some day. They're bigger.

    One shock was that Seuss showed a certain amount of xenophobia that seemed like an ugly shock. In one cartoon, he shows Japanese Americans lining up for their bombs. "Honorable Fifth Column." Waiting for the signal.

    If I could have followed the line of PM all the way to the end and beyond, I would have found it reorganizing as an even shorter-lived publication that could boast the first appearance of a strip by a former Disney fellow named Walt Kelly. Jes' fine.