Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Just nod if you can hear me

Stuart Zechman and Avedon Carol discussed the incredibly annoying primaries on Virtually Speaking Sundays. Homework includes Gloria Steinhem's original statement on Bill Maher, but she did come to her senses and walk it back, later.

FULL MSNBC Democratic Debate: Hillary Clinton VS Bernie Sanders - New Hampshire Feb. 4, 2016
* As if Peter Daou claiming Hillary was not the establishment wasn't bizarre enough, Hillary Clinton actually said these words during the debate: "Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment." Er, no, pretty much everyone else thinks you're the establishment, Madame Secretary.
* "Clinton Accuses Sanders of 'Artful Smear' for Questioning Why Wall Street Gives Her Millions" It's not a smear, it's a fact that they give her free money. They didn't give it to her because they thought she was going to make a brilliant speech they were dying to hear. They gave it to her because they recognized one of their own with the only thing they place a real value on. (Or as Weldon Berger put it on Facebook, "They give her money because they're comfortable with her, and she takes it because she's comfortable with them. They're in the same club. I think that's why she has so much trouble answering why she takes the money: the question just doesn't make any sense to her.")
* Clinton managed to look better than Sanders on foreign policy this time, but then she bragged about getting compliments from Henry Kissinger, which may have reminded people just what kind of "experience" and "expertise" she really has. It's a shame Sanders didn't look at her and say, "Really? Henry Kissinger? The famous war criminal?" But Hillary's approach to foreign policy in the past really doesn't recommend it for our future; even now, she has trouble tamping down her tendency to belligerent, aggressive language that exposes a penchant for martial confrontation rather than other solutions. Her sympathizers and detractors alike tend to assume her Iraq vote was cynical, something she "had to" do to prove she was as "tough" as any man and necessary if she ever wanted to run for president. But she was strangely reluctant for a very long time to admit that it was unwise. And maybe that's because she actually believed in that war and wasn't just voting cynically. That's actually not a good thing.
* Sam Seder and Cliff Schecter made some good criticisms on both sides Friday on The Majority Report.
* The Young Turks discuss the foreign policy segment of the Democratic debate.
* Even Booman seems to be having qualms about the Wall Street issue.

Lori Wallach: Signing of TPP Marks Only Beginning of the Fight, Trade Deal Could Still Be Stopped: "Well, the signing locks the legal text, so, in a sense, it's the end of negotiations. But it's really just the beginning of the fight. The TPP is a 5,000-page doorstop, unless Congress approves it and then whomever is president signs it. So, the first thing all of us who are concerned about TPP need to do is make sure that every member of Congress is now publicly saying they're against it, they will not support this agreement. There's no more time for generalities or vague statements. There's a signed text now, so they have to take a decision."
* TPP signed in New Zealand, - but not ratified, and the question is whether the new president of the United States will be signing when the time comes. "As we learned recently, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tom Donohue thinks the vote will take place after the election - because it can't pass otherwise - and also thinks that if Hillary Clinton is president, she'll support it. Which suggests a number of questions. First, is Donohue right? Does he know some insider something we don't know?"
* "It's Not Just TPP. Can a President Kill NAFTA? Al Gore Thought So. Hillary Clinton Too." Al Gore said we can get out of it in six months. In 2008, Hillary said she would insist on renegotiating it. Bernie has pledged not to sign TPP. Where's Clinton, now?
* "Study: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Cost US a Half Million Jobs, Drag Down GDP." And that's not even the worst thing.
* Robert Reich takes on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
* Senator Elizabeth Warren says Congress should oppose the TPP deal.
* One Million Anti-TPP Petitions Delivered to Congress
* "If TPP is Progressive, Why Must White House Rely on 'Republican Friendly Organizations' to Sell It?"
* Bernie Sanders at TPP Press Conference

"Exclusive: Presidential hopefuls Sanders, Clinton in dead heat - Reuters/Ipsos poll: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has erased Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's wide lead for the Democratic presidential nomination since the start of year, putting the two in a dead heat nationally, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. Clinton leads Sanders 48 percent to 45 percent among Democratic voters, according to the poll of 512 Americans, conducted Feb. 2-5 following the Iowa caucus. The poll has a credibility interval of 5 percentage points."
* "Hillary Clinton Losing Her National Lead Over Bernie Sanders, Poll Shows: Hillary Clinton's strong national lead over Sanders is essentially gone and, instead, the Democratic race is incredibly close, according to a national Quinnipiac poll released today. Clinton received 44 percent of support while Sanders can boast about 42 percent, his highest support in any national poll to date."

Marcy Kaptur: "Comparing Sanders to former President Harry Truman, Kaptur said, 'In many ways, his struggle in this campaign is very noble, because he is up against the most powerful forces, economic forces, that have caused so much harm... They'll try to diminish him. I admire the fact that he's running, that he is an agent of change in our society, and he doesn't have the billionaire class lined up behind him. He's a senator from Vermont.'"

"Elizabeth Warren Defends Bernie Sanders From Goldman Sachs Criticism: In an interview with International Business Times hours before Wednesday night's Democratic town hall in New Hampshire, the Massachusetts senator - whose endorsement is coveted by both Democratic candidates - slammed Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein for asserting earlier in the day that Sanders' criticism of Wall Street had created a dangerous environment in America. 'He thinks it's fine to prosecute small business owners, it's fine to go hard after individuals who have no real resources, but don't criticize companies like Goldman Sachs and their very, very important CEO - that's what he's really saying,' Warren told IBT. [...] 'In the financial crisis of 2008, it was fraud right down at the heart of that crisis, and yet not one major bank executive was even charged, much less prosecuted and taken to trial - not one,' she said. Noting that the federal government prosecuted hundreds of Wall Street executives after the Savings and Loan scandal a few decades ago, she said, 'You're telling me that something changed between the 1980s, when more than a thousand people got prosecuted in the Savings and Loan crisis, but by 2008, a far bigger financial crisis involving far bigger and bolder frauds, that no one was legally responsible for that? That's just not possible.'"

Former Clinton administration counselor Bill Curry says, "It's almost over for Hillary: This election is a mass insurrection against a rigged system: Sanders has ended the coronation and fired up the grass roots. Now Clinton's electability argument is crumbling too. [...] The core of Clinton's realpolitik brief pertains not to electability but to governance. Her point is that Sanders is naïve. She says none of his proposals can get though a Republican Congress. She strongly implies that he'd roll back Obamacare, a charge that is false, cynical and so nonsensical she'll have to stop making it soon. She says she has a plan to get to universal health care - she doesn't - and that she'll do it by working 'in partnership' with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Who's being naïve here? A Republican Congress won't pass any of her ideas either. The only way to get real change is to elect Democrats to Congress and have a grass-roots movement strong enough to keep the heat on them. Nor will insurers cough up a dime of profit without a fight. Vowing to spare us a 'contentious debate' over single-payer care she ignores the admonition of Frederick Douglas; 'Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.' There has been a lot of talk lately about what a progressive is. Here's a hint: if you think Douglas is wrong, you might not be one."

David Cay Johnston says: "You agree with Bernie Sanders (but you might not know it)."

David Dayen in TNR says "Bernie's Army Is Running for Congress: Sanders Democrats like Nevada's Lucy Flores aim to amplify the Vermont senator's uncompromising message in Washington - and move the party in a populist direction." This is good, of course, but we need good people running all the way down to dog-catcher. The Democrats have no farm team anymore.

Lee Fang, "Pharma Executives Worry About Presidential Candidates Demanding Reform: Responding to tough talk by presidential candidates about price gouging by drug companies, pharmaceutical executives have told investors that they are working actively to influence the political debate. And in a move that reveals how much leeway drug firms actually have over pricing decisions, some are even saying that they have minimized price hikes in recent months to avoid attracting attention. Democratic contenders Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both called for the government to do much more to bring down the price of medications. And last week, Republican candidate Donald Trump came out in support of allowing Medicare to negotiate for cheaper drug prices, a move that places him even to the left of some leaders in the Democratic Party."

"The Pressure on Warren to Support Hillary Clinton" - It seems someone has been leaning on Democratic women to lean on Warren to endorse Hillary. I like it that Warren has resisted so far, it means at the very least that she's got leverage.

Benjamin Studebaker: "Why Bernie vs Hillary Matters More Than People Think: Lately the internet has become full of arguments about the merits and demerits of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Over the past couple weeks, I've been discussing and pondering all the various views about this, and I'm increasingly of the opinion that most of the people engaging in this debate don't really understand what is at stake in the democratic primary. This is in part because many Americans don't really understand the history of American left wing politics and don't think about policy issues in a holistic, structural way. So in this post, I want to really dig into what the difference is between Bernie and Hillary and why that difference is extremely important. [...] Many people think that it is the Republican Party alone that is responsible for this, but beginning in 1976 with Jimmy Carter, the Democratic Party was captured by this same ideology, which in academic circles is often referred to as neoliberalism. It is now largely forgotten that it was Carter, not Reagan, who began deregulating the market. Indeed, in during the 1976 democratic primary, there was an ABC movement - Anybody But Carter. Democrats who remained committed to the party's egalitarian ideology rightly feared that Carter was too right wing and would effectively strip the party of its historical commitment to the continuation and expansion of the legacy of FDR and LBJ. However, they ran too many candidates against Carter, splitting the left vote and allowing Carter to win the nomination. [...] Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal building on the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. She doesn't understand the pivotal role inequality plays in creating economic crisis and reducing economic growth. She has been taken in by a fundamentally right wing paradigm, and if she is elected she will continue to lead the Democratic Party down that path."

David Dayen in Salon, "The Democratic Primary miracle: Why Sanders vs. Clinton is just the beginning" For the first time in ages, a primary is centered around substantive differences. It's a bigger deal than you think."

Interview with Liza Featherstone, editor of False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton, on why Clinton's elite feminism does not serve women: "Well, faux feminism is a bit of hyperbole, because of course--of course all kinds of revolting ideologies are part of feminism. I can't say only my feminism is the real feminism. I'm kind of kidding about that, a little. But what I do think is that that sort of feminism is not actually serious about improving the vast majority of women's lives, that what Hillary represents--what I mean by faux feminism is that it's elite feminism, so it is only going to serve a few. So you know, elite women who may cheer, you know, the symbolic lifting of the glass ceiling that Hillary represents. But on the other hand what her record represents is, as I say in the piece, a contempt for the kind of social democratic policies that most women need."

"Top Hillary Clinton Advisers and Fundraisers Lobbied Against Obamacare - and Dodd-Frank, too. "Most of the Clinton campaign fundraisers who lobbied on Dodd-Frank did not respond to a request for comment. When asked about the work, Tony Podesta emailed us to say, 'Call B of A.' An inquiry to Bank of America was not returned. There are other lobbyists on the Clinton campaign staff. T. LaDavia Drane, the Clinton campaign's director of African-American outreach, previously worked as a lobbyist for a trade group that represents Pepsico and Hershey on issues related to obesity and advertising to children. Jeff Berman, a senior Clinton campaign official who is leading her delegate strategy, previously worked as a lobbyist for the private prison firm Geo Group, seeking to influence the federal budget, as well as working for TransCanada to help secure approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline."

Naked Capitalism: "Krugman's Cowardly, Dishonest Attack on David Dayen Over Krugman's Misrepresentation of Sanders' Financial Reforms [...] The Krugman that was early to stand up to the Iraq War, who was incisive before and during the crisis has been very much in absence since Obama took office. It's hard to understand the loss of intellectual independence. That may not make Krugman any worse than other Democratic party apparatchiks, but he continues to believe he is other than that, and the lashing out at Dayen looks like a wounded denial of his role. In other words, as much as Krugman's tantrum is so transparently off beam as to warrant ridicule, and as much it might seem fair minded to give Krugman and Konczal the benefit of the doubt and depict them as hostages of their own self-styled wonkery, that's just falling for their protective coloring. Their whole argument is political, Hillary is pragmatic and polls better, etc (check out the extreme passive aggressive way Krugman traffics in Clinton talking points about how Bernie is unelectable). They really believe in political corruption as long as Democrats and technocrats are in charge, which is why Hillary's speaking fees from Wall Street aren't even worth a mention. They believe in Scalia's logic on Citizens United. That's why Konczal defends the Peterson donations to Roosevelt; he really has a right-wing dystopian understanding of corruption and power, that might makes right. In their case, that ‘might' is the professionalism of technocracy, and choosing who to ignore is their divine right.

Elizabeth Warren in the NYT last week: "One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions: WHILE presidential candidates from both parties feverishly pitch their legislative agendas, voters should also consider what presidents can do without Congress. Agency rules, executive actions and decisions about how vigorously to enforce certain laws will have an impact on every American, without a single new bill introduced in Congress. [...] In a single year, in case after case, across many sectors of the economy, federal agencies caught big companies breaking the law - defrauding taxpayers, covering up deadly safety problems, even precipitating the financial collapse in 2008 - and let them off the hook with barely a slap on the wrist. Often, companies paid meager fines, which some will try to write off as a tax deduction. The failure to adequately punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country. Justice cannot mean a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but nothing more than a sideways glance at a C.E.O. who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars."

My favorite part of this video about the carried interest loophole is the guy who moans that people like him are being singled out and they, and only they, will be forced to pay the same rates as everyone else. That's a good one.

When Mark Blessington lined up presidents in terms of how great the increase in income disparity became during the their terms in office, Reagan was, unsurprisingly, the worst. But: "The Sad Legacy of Compromise Democrats [...] Regardless of any rationale one can conjure in support of the Clinton administration's key economic decisions, the record is clear: income disparity increased significantly during his two terms as president. Indeed, the damage was greater than what was done by Nixon, George W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush combined! The biggest surprise of all is with the Obama administration: it has the second worst record in nearly 50 years. How could this be? At the start of his first term he had 58% of Congress and won nearly 53% of the popular vote."

"American Medical Association votes to BAN prescription drug commercials: AMA board chair-elect Patrice Harris said that the vote 'reflects concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially-driven promotions,' specifically railing on the drug companies getting people hooked on expensive drugs." That ban used to be how things were, and everyone understood why. And then one day, we began the long and hair-tearingly stupid march to "thinking outside the box" and falling off the edge. It's nice to know the AMA has come back to its senses on this issue.

"California Attorney General Files Charges Over L.A.'s Natural Gas Leak: California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Tuesday that she has filed a lawsuit against Southern California Gas Company, alleging the company failed to report the massive methane leak near Los Angeles in a timely manner. The natural gas, which has been treated with an odorant called mercaptan, is making local residents sick. Since the leak began in October, some 3,000 families have been evacuated from the Porter Ranch neighborhood, about 25 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. "

"FBI joins investigation into Flint water contamination crisis [...] Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit, said in an email that federal prosecutors in Michigan are 'working with a multi-agency investigation team on the Flint water contamination matter, including the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the EPA's Office of Inspector General - and the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division.'"
* "Michigan inmates pledge to donate a third of their monthly incomes to help Flint: 'Literally everyone raised their hand to commit to give at least $3,' Senghor said. That might not sound like a lot to most people, but for a prison inmate, it's nothing to sneeze at. Many inmates make only about $10 a month at their prison jobs, Senghor said. Those without families supporting them have to use that to buy all of their toiletries and other supplies at the commissary."

"Federal court strikes down NC congressional district maps: RALEIGH, N.C. - Three federal judges on Friday threw out the congressional voting maps the Republican-led General Assembly drew five years ago, ruling that two districts were gerrymandered along racial lines. The ruling throws the March 15 primary into chaos, as the judges ordered state lawmakers to redraw the maps within two weeks and not to hold any elections for U.S. House until the maps are in place. A special session of the legislature would have to be called to approve new maps, and they might have to pass federal muster again."

Toys for psychopaths: "Smarter smart bombs, mini railguns, and swarming robot boats to watch man-made islands are a few of the key technology areas that Defense Secretary Ashton Carter sees as vital to U.S. military superiority in the next decade. In a preview of the Pentagon's upcoming 2017 budget request, Carter said military research and development spending would rise to $71.4 billion from last year's $71.3 billion request.) Carter also listed areas where the Defense Department was already seeing 'returns' on R&D spending through the Strategic Capabilities Office, or SCO." Can't afford schools, potable water, or health care, though.

Brad Friedman and Bev Harris on voting issues in Iowa, New Hampshire, and beyond - It should tell you a lot about the Democratic leadership that even after 2000, they have never made an issue of this.

"Angela Merkel surprised by massive protest march against TTIP in Berlin: BERLIN (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of people marched in Berlin on Saturday in protest against a planned free trade deal between Europe and the United States that they say is anti-democratic and will lower food safety, labor and environmental standards."

"UK Rejects UN Ruling that Assange Detention Is Illegal: After the UN finds Assange to be arbitrarily detained, Assange attorney Carey Shenkman explains how the UK is undermining the authority of the UN while simultaneously relying on it to release detained UK citizens"

Sex panic police: "Police investigate West Midlands pupils over 'sexting'"

"Why a bunch of Silicon Valley investors are suddenly interested in universal basic income"

"Soldiers who've fought in Afghanistan, what preconceptions did you have that turned out to be completely wrong?"

* It's a bit sad that two of the original members of Jefferson Airplane died at once, but since she left after their first album, most people don't remember their original singer, Signe Anderson, who has died at 74, and they didn't notice that she died on the same day as Paul Kantner. (That Rolling Stone obit has all the videos I would have posted.)
* Maurice White dead: Earth, Wind & Fire founder dies aged 74, after his condition from Parkinson's disease deteriorated. An alumna of Chess Records sessions work, he backed up numerous major stars before finally forming his own legendary ensemble.

So, all this time everyone thought you had to have exotic tropical woods to get good sound quality in guitars, and it doesn't seem to be the case.

Science says: Eat cheese to be healthy.

Majestic photos from Chile by Andy Lee
* Angela Clayton Sews Beautiful Historically-Inspired Dresses.
* Snow spray window art

David Gilmour and David Bowie, "Comfortably Numb", live.


  1. And we have Corey Robin, highlighting the Clintons 180° turn on race. I am astonished that she seems to be getting black votes, given her record.

    1. Herri's comment over there provides some useful background. [LINK]

    2. Clinton's other option is to assure everyone she can maintain continuity in American foreign policy. [LINK]

    3. President Nixon and Henry Kissinger, 3 Aug. 1972 [LINK which includes the actual audio]

      President Nixon: Let’s be perfectly cold-blooded about it. If you look at it from the standpoint of our game with the Soviets and the Chinese, from the standpoint of running this country, I think we could take almost anything, frankly, in my view, that we can force on [CMike- South Vietnamese president Nguyen van] Thieu. Almost anything; I just come down to that. You know what I mean?

      Because I have a feeling that we would not be doing, like I feel about the Israelis, I feel that in the long run we’re probably not doing them an in—a disfavor due to the fact that I feel the North Vietnamese are so badly hurt that the South Vietnamese are probably going to do fairly well.

      Also due to the fact—because I look at the tide of history out there, South Vietnam is probably never gonna survive anyway. I’m just being perfectly candid. I—

      Henry Kissinger: In the pullout area—

      President Nixon: There’s got to be—if we can get certain guarantees so that they aren’t . . . as you know, looking at the foreign policy process, though, I mean, you’ve got to be—we also have to realize, Henry, that winning an election is terribly important. It’s terribly important this year. [CMike- they are talking about what would be Nixon's upcoming re-election in November 1972]

      But can we have a viable foreign policy if a year from now or two years from now, North Vietnam gobbles up South Vietnam? That’s the real question.

      Kissinger: If a year from now or two years from now North Vietnam gobbles up South Vietnam, we can have a viable foreign policy— if it looks like as if a result of South Vietnamese incompetence. If we now sell out in such a way that, say that in a three- to four-month period, we have pushed President Thieu over the brink, we ourselves—I think there is going to be—even the Chinese won’t like that. I mean, they’ll pay verbal—verbally, they’ll like it—

      President Nixon: But it will worry them.

      Kissinger: But it will worry everybody. And domestically, in the long run it won’t help us all that much, because our opponents will say we should have done it three years ago.

      President Nixon: I know.

      Kissinger: So we’ve got to find some formula that holds the thing together a year or two, after which—after a year, Mr. President, Vietnam will be a backwater. If we settle it, say, this October, by January ’74 no one will give a damn.

  2. Have to enjoy that marching around the White House carrying candles Dems in 68 are The Establishment. Guess that one's as open to interpretation as 'progressive'.

  3. If you're just a back porch guitar player, you've probably had a real guitar player pick up your beater guitar and make it sound ten times better than when you play it.

    The variables for what make a guitar sound good are enormous and we've known for many years that wood is a minor variable.

    Taylor guitars produced a shipping pallet guitar with unknown 2x4 wood for a top back in 1995.

    Ovation guitars have back and sides made of molded plastic. Mario Maccaferri made plastic guitars back in the 50s.

    There is still some debate about top wood, but back, sides, neck and fret board can be made of just about whatever you want.

    And what people want is pretty magic. So they look for Brazilian Rosewood and Adirondack Spruce because they think the pretty magic wood will make them a better guitar player.

  4. Kissinger's protégé. I've taken a lot of abuse from the Hillary-bots not just these past few months but over the years for my disdain for Ms Clinton, none of them apparently capable of grasping that that is a decision I arrived at twenty odd and more years ago. Like most of my cohort I have been politically active for fifty years, and am not going forget, or forgive, one of Nixon's Young Republicans, or a student and protégé of Henry Kissinger who would lie bald faced over something as innocuous as inhaling marijuana.

    Sanders has nothing to do with it.

    Speaking of magic, Paul and Signe passing together is... bittersweet. You're the only one I've noticed to notice. As I observed at the time, we probably need to grow thicker skin as this is going to continue to happen with perhaps alarming frequency. Any day now...

    1. If you want to grow a tough skin become a Hillary supporter, it's part of the job description.

      20 odd and more years ago? So before 95 then. Add the odd and that's before 93. The and puts it before 92.
      You're dedicated Ten Bears.

  5. Seems to me the LAST thing we need, in this election is for people left of the Magnificent Seven or however many they now are of the FAR RIGHT of Amerika, is for another division of democrats and people of the left like we had in in 2008. As the FAR right says every day, over and over, if we have a Republican president AND Congress, America. as we think we know it, will cease to exist.