Thursday, March 24, 2016

It really doesn't have to be this way

Yes, who appoints the next Supreme Court Justice is important, but so is who appoints cabinet members and hires other officials with whom to surround themselves. Hillary Clinton's financial advisor is Gary Gensler, the same man who, with Bill Clinton, shoe-horned the new deregulatory language into the Commodity Futures Modernization Act at the last minute in the dead of night and then tacked the whole ugly package onto a bill to fund the entire government - without most people who voted for it even knowing the CFMA had been changed so radically. Clinton says her husband - who created the "new economy" and rammed through deregulation Republicans could never pass because Democrats used to stop them - will also be an advisor. The man who crafted America's foreign policy of endless wars, Henry Kissinger, is apparently a mentor of Clinton's and he still has her ear.

I have no faith whatsoever that her Supreme Court appointments will be any better than a Republican's as regards these issues, and the only question is which social justice hostage she will choose to stamp "progressive" credentials onto while selling out the others. "Centrists" give a lot of lip-service to being defenders of reproductive rights while normally never lifting a finger to prevent the right-wing's attacks on them from being successful. They've treated the fight for abortion rights as icky, they come up with slogans like, "Safe, legal, and rare," trying to distract us from what they are saying. Rare? We're talking about a medical procedure here - do you say you want appendectomies to be "safe, legal, and rare"? If they really even believed that, wouldn't they have stopped voting to fund abstinence-only sex miseducation by now and returned to the older model that was, y'know, trying for truthful effectiveness? Oh, but Bill Clinton reversed his predecessor's infamous order not to fund abortions for our overseas military personnel, so he was a champion of reproductive rights - while abortion became increasingly inaccessible in most of the United States.

Yes, Trump and Sanders are both a response to the same problem, but that problem, more than anything, is that Democrats in leadership went over to the other side and started fighting their own party in favor of the same Republican policies we hate. And we hate those policies because they are terrible, damaging, dangerous policies. The kind of austerity policies that, imposed from without, created the fertile soil for fascism in Weimar Germany.

And since the Democratic leadership kept enabling Republicans and marching to the right, the Republicans had to march further to the right and went completely over-the-top. The authors of today's Republican Clown Car Politics were the Democratic Leadership Council.

If Clinton wins the presidency, I have no faith that she or her supporters will do a damned thing to right the course of the nation and restore the policies that used to protect our country and its people - and get rid of the policies that have been the fuel of rising fascism on the right. Trump may never be president, but what's behind him isn't just going to go away under the leadership of someone who promises more of the same.

The Huffington Post says, "Win Or Lose, Bernie Sanders Has Changed America," but I'm worried about what happens if all those Bernie kids get slapped in the face with a Clinton nomination and either Trump wins (which I still think is unlikely) or Clinton becomes president and continues the policies that have given us Trump and his movement of fascists in the first place. She can't keep the lid on it if she delivers on her promise to maintain the status quo.

Results Tuesday in Arizona, Idaho and Utah: The sparse polling for Arizona put Clinton ahead by at least 26 points, and she won the state but Bernie did do better than predicted and was only 18.1 points down.
* There weren't many polls available for Utah, either, and Clinton was ahead in January by 10 points, down to seven points in February and by this month Bernie was eight points up, but on Tuesday he came out massively higher at 79%-20.3. RCP only shows one poll for Idaho, in February, and it shows Sanders at +2, But he won 78%-21.2%. A decent night for Bernie.
* "AZ Lawmakers to hold special hearing on elections fiasco" - There were many complaints of voting problems in Arizona, with people having to wait in line for hours after never having to wait before. A huge turn-out meant the decision to cut polling places in Maricopa County from 200 to 60 meant people were waiting for four or five hours to cast a ballot. Moreover, registration lists appear not to have been up-dated and many people who had recently registered as Democrats found they were either not listed (first-time voters) or re-registration from Independent had not been changed.

Meritocracy of Failure: Video, Thomas Frank on the State of the Democratic Party, interviewed by Thom Hartmann.

Senator Sanders was the only candidate in the race who didn't show up for AIPAC, but he did make a speech from elsewhere. "Sanders Outlines Middle East Policy." Hillary Clinton was in attendance, however, and gave a "disgusting speech" that would have made any right-wing hawk proud. HuffPo said, "Bernie Sanders Delivered A Killer AIPAC Speech ... In Utah, while Slate said "Hillary Clinton's AIPAC Speech Was a Symphony of Craven, Delusional Pandering: Clinton had an opportunity to show some political courage. She decided to alienate the left instead." And Bernie did a One-on-One with Chris Hayes.
* Vox is taking a different view, saying that Clinton's speech "sounded as or more in tune with Israeli right-wing concerns than even many speeches by conservative Republican candidates." But that's okay, because she didn't really mean it.

"With Tax Plan, Sanders Beats Both Clinton and Trump by Double Digits: After accounting for 'No Idea,' the tax plan put forth by the only democratic socialist in the race is the winner... by far. Undermining the flawed trope that "everyone hates the tax man," for those who have opinions on the competing tax plans put forth by this year's presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders' proposal is the hands-down favorite. Beating out all other contenders from both major parties by double-digit margins, according to a new survey WalletHub/Survey Monkey published Monday, Sanders' plan was supported by 23 percent of respondents. In comparison, only 13 percent liked the plan of Hillary Clinton best, giving her a slight edge over the 12 percent who chose Donald Trump's plan. Taking the fourth and fifth spots respectively, Sen. Ted Cruz nabbed 8 percent support while Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) got 5 percent.

Not sure this gives her a problem in the general like the headline says, but it's nice to know so many "BernieBros" are women. "Sanders Wins Millennial Women Two-to-One; Clinton Would Have Millennial Problem in General Election. "Sanders now leads Clinton among younger voters by 54%-37%, an even bigger advantage than the 11-point edge he held in January's survey. Millennial women now back Sanders by a jaw-dropping 61%-30% while the divide among Millennial men is much closer, 48%-44%.

Pierce: "The Scariest Thing About Trump? He's Winning Fair and Square He has forced the Republican party to reckon with many decades of poor choices." Yes, but poor choices by the Democrats, too, for enabling the crazy and creating the economic conditions that are fertile ground for the growth of fascism. You can't hollow out the wealth of the working classes without creating this kind of reaction. Your choices are left-wing populism or right-wing populism. And the Democrats kept their mouths shut and nodded along, and Obama kept saying things like, "Republicans have some good ideas," while saving his insults for "the crazy far-left", and this is where you go. And now the Democrats are offering more of the same. It may delay the nightmare of a fascist leadership by a couple-few years to get Clinton into the White House, but unless she changes her mind and uses the power of the presidency to do everything possible to restore the economy, it's just not going to last.
* Charlie also isn't impressed with Brooks' worries about Trump.

Remember that time George W. Bush told us the thing to do after 9/11 was to go shopping? And remember that time a divorced mother of three told George Bush she couldn't make ends meet working three jobs and he said, "You work three jobs? Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that"? I wonder if Hillary is going to run through any more of George W. Bush's greatest hits. And by the way, Madame Secretary, no one should have to shop for health insurance.

"Think Again Hillary Democrats: 10 Reasons Why She Could Lose this Fall." I actually think a lot of this is wrong, but there are a few bits that didn't seem wrong at all. I still doubt Trump can beat Clinton, but this is a strange election season.

You don't see a lot of stories about Jane Sanders on the campaign trail, but she seems to have picked an unusual stop, having a confrontation with the notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio when she toured his equally infamous Tent City Jail.

"Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation, Endorses Bernie Sanders at Flagstaff, AZ Rally."

"Congressman calls on bankers to 'neuter' Elizabeth Warren - the 'Darth Vader' of Wall Street: Senior House Financial Services Committee member, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) told a conference of bankers Wednesday morning that they needed to 'find a way to neuter' Sen. Elizabeth Warren, according to Politico. Luetkemeyer was at an American Bankers Association conference in Washington when he made the remark, also calling Warren 'the Darth Vader of the financial services world.'"

"Joan Baez calls Donald Trump supporters 'troglodytes,' says Bernie Sanders 'speaks to the human condition'.
* Sarah Silverman on Bill Maher Explains Why She Dumped Hillary For Bernie.

You gotta wonder what was President Bill thinking - presumably, he was talking about the Republicans, though how we can put that behind us is unclear, but it's pretty easy to take it that he means the Obama administration when he says, "'But if you believe we can all rise together, if you believe we've finally come to the point where we can put the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us and the seven years before that where we were practicing trickle-down economics with no regulation in Washington, which is what caused the crash, then you should vote for her,' he added." Oh, I see, he wants you to forget who put that no-regulation stuff into action, and that was the guy before George W. Bush. What was his name again?

Ian Welsh, "Why Poor White Males Are the Core of Trump's Support [...] So, for damn near 48 years, poor whites have done terribly. For forty-eight years, ordinary politicians have promised to do something about it, and nothing has improved. Do not tell me, or them, that they are 'privileged.' Yes, it is better to be poor and white than poor and black, and better to be a poor white man than a poor white woman, but people who are in pain do not react well to some smug, upper-middle-class jerk telling them they are privileged when their lives are clearly terrible."

"Report Of High Level DNC Infiltration In N. Carolina Sanders Campaign: Niko House is the President of North Carolina College Students for Bernie Sanders. In a recent video posted to youtube, he describes the orchestrated infiltration of the Bernie Sanders campaign in that state by well-connected DNC operatives. House goes into great detail to describe intimidation tactics used against his group that seemed counterproductive - suppression of advertising for events, reaching out to the community, etc. He goes into some detail explaining that the outsiders who stepped in and took over the campaign from the initial grassroots organizers made what seemed like a concerted effort to avoid reaching out to black leaders in North Carolina and basically ran the campaign into the ground. The videos are worth a watch and pretty illuminating. I'd also say they're disturbing, but we've all come to expect these types of tricks from the Clinton campaign."

Political cartoon: "Total electoral eclipse"

Robert Reich wants you to act now, because, "My old department -- the U.S. Department of Labor -- is close to issuing a new rule giving lower-wage salaried workers the overtime pay they deserve. (I explain the justification for the rule in the accompanying video.) But the moneyed interests don't want it. Just days ago, congressional Republican shills of big U.S. corporations introduced legislation to block the new rule. Anyone in America who still believes Republicans in Washington are working for average workers rather than for the privileged and the powerful few has no idea what's going on. Vote them all out of office this November. (From his Facebook page.)

Steve M. is talking about the Supreme Court nomination, and while he's talking about Republican tactics and how "moderate" Merrick Garland is or isn't, I noticed something interesting in the first comment, noting that, "I'm going further: in my view, President Obama has nominated the best candidate for the SCOTUS period. I don't just mean 'in these peculiar circumstances'. Garland is the lawyer's lawyer, the judge's judge. If there were a votes on these matters by every attorney in the nation and by every judge in the nation, I have no doubt that Garland would among the top 5 in the first and would be at the top of the second. But even that doesn't capture the brilliance of this nomination: this SCOTUS has two big needs plus one desperate one. It needs another criminal law expert; it needs another administrative law expert; and it desperately needs who would become its ONLY antitrust expert. That last one is actually alarming: if one goes back to the federal courts appointments of each of both Roosevelts, Wilson, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Carter, yes even GWB Bush, and dammit even to some extent first term Reagan, the one single golden thread that runs through the thousands of judges nominated by those 16 White Houses is an understanding of the dangers of business trusts and the necessity of a federal court system that gets the dangers of economic monopolies and monopsonies, and the need to bust trusts or at least regulate the oligarchical tendencies in the American economic system. Garland is an order of magnitude more adept and solid on antitrust law than even Breyer and Notorious." You know, that could be really cool.
* But Charlie Savage says, "Merrick Garland Often Deferred to Government in Guantánamo Cases." That's not the kind of thing that instills confidence.

Mike Signorile notes that the Human Rights Campaign has done it again, endorsing a Republican with only a 75% HRC rating over Democrat Tammy Duckworth, who has a 100% rating. Duckworth has been a hard worker on behalf of gay rights and she deserved that endorsement.(Source: The Hill.)

"The Job-Killing Trade Deal You've Never Heard Of: The China Bilateral Investment Treaty: In behind-the-scenes negotiations with China, the Obama administration is pushing a trade compact that could export jobs overseas and erode worker protections. Why?"

"Huge Victory: Senate Rejects the DARK Act: Today, the Senate did the right thing and did not advance a bill from Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) that can best be described as the Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. The bill would have prevented states from requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods and stopped pending state laws that require labeling to go into effect."

NYT Public Editor: "Were Changes to Sanders Article 'Stealth Editing'?" Stealth editorializing in a news story, more like.

Dean Baker with Trade Lessons for Thomas Friedman "Thomas Friedman once again stumbled into trade policy, telling us that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is exactly the sort of trade deal that tough negotiator Donald Trump would have gotten. Unfortunately, he gets some of the big things badly wrong."

"In Louisiana, the Poor Lack Legal Defense: I'm the public defender in Vermilion Parish, right now the only public defender. Due to a lack of funding for our district and our office, today we will be taking applications for our service but you will be put on a wait list."

"Illinois cuts off funding for its public universities."

Our friends in Philly might want to know that there is an alternative to monopolistic cable companies - and it's a no-contract deal.

"Flint's Police Chief Calls Break-In At Office Storing Water Documents an 'Inside Job': Suspicions are growing regarding a mysterious break-in at the city of Flint, Michigan's city hall, where an office containing documents relevant to the city's ongoing crisis with contaminated water were stored. Flint's new police chief, Tim Johnson, more or less made the implication the two events are linked on Friday, telling the Flint Journal the robbery was an 'inside job.' 'It was definitely an inside job,' he told the site, noting only a television has been confirmed to be among the missing items. 'The power cord (to the TV) wasn't even taken. The average drug user knows that you'd need the power cord to be able to pawn it.' 'It was somebody that had knowledge of those documents that really wanted to keep them out of the right hands, out of the hands of someone who was going to tell the real story of what's going on with Flint water,' Johnson continued. His opinion was echoed by Mayor Karen Weaver, who confirmed she also thought the timing and target of the robbery curious. 'Well sure (it's suspicious) when they go into a room where all the water files were and they take a TV, but not the cord to make it work, yes,' the mayor told the paper. '... We don't know if papers or files were taken because papers were all over the floor.'"

"Blacks at All Wealth Levels Are More Likely Than Whites to Be Incarcerated." Yes, being wealthier does, obviously, reduce the chances that you will be incarcerated, but, "Wealth does not provide the same degree of insulation from imprisonment for black and Hispanic males as it does for white males."

"Redaction error reveals FBI did target Lavabit to spy on Edward Snowden: Court-ordered release of Lavabit case files finally reveals Snowden was target of action that shuttered secure and private email service."

UK: "Scratch. One. Tory." Ian Duncan Smith resigned from the government, ostensibly because cuts to disability benefits offended his conscience (not bloody likely), and it would seem to portend a real revolt in the party and growing recognition that austerity is definitely not working and maybe George Osborne isn't so smart after all! It was nice to see the government back down on the cuts despite Osborne's efforts to keep digging that hole. In any case, Paul Mason reckons the IDS resignation is Jeremy Corbyn's victory: "In one speech he's blown apart the Tory front bench, made likely two substantial revolts, destroyed the cabinet and made the Tories look like incompetent fools." Even better, "It's a disaster for Blairites. They'd prepared their cabbage patches of opposition to Labour's own new fiscal rule, and spent weeks revving up to diss Corbyn over his expected mishandling of the Budget. Instead Labour is ahead in one poll, tied in another, and its radical left leadership looks not just vindicated politically, but - and this matters in the Commons - tactically: Corbyn and McDonnell executed a near perfect hit on the government by announcing their own fiscal rule; denouncing the benefit cuts; and now splitting the cabinet."
* "Snooper's Charter: Tech companies will have to give police 'back-door' access to customers' data. Companies will not be allowed to tell customers if their messages are being shared with police."

Brazil: "Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption - and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy [...] But the picture currently emerging in Brazil surrounding impeachment and these street protests is far more complicated, and far more ethically ambiguous, than has frequently been depicted. The effort to remove Dilma and her party from power now resembles a nakedly anti-democratic power struggle more than a legally sound process or genuine anti-corruption movement. Worse, it's being incited, engineered, and fueled by the very factions who are themselves knee-deep in corruption scandals, and who represent the interests of the richest and most powerful societal segments long angry at their inability to defeat PT democratically. In other words, it all seems historically familiar, particular for Latin America, where democratically elected left-wing governments have been repeatedly removed by non-democratic, extra-legal means. In many ways, PT and Dilma are not sympathetic victims. Large segments of the population are genuinely angry at them for plainly legitimate reasons. But their sins do not justify the sins of their long-standing political enemies, and most certainly do not render subversion of Brazilian democracy something to cheer."

Juan Cole: "Int'l Criticism mounts over massive Israeli 'land grab' in Palestinian West Bank."
* In Haaretz "Protesting Bigots and Demagogues at AIPAC? Don't Stop at Trump. Call Out Netanyahu Too [...] Israel has already built the wall that Trump only talks about. It has blighted the lives of millions of Muslims, as Trump says he would like to do. Its behavior has been far more bellicose than anything Trump has exhibited so far and its racism is not only more extreme, but a lot more deadly. The supporters of Israeli Trumpism have assassinated a prime minister, gunned down worshippers in a mosque, burned a Palestinian baby to cinders in its bed and committed thousands of other racist atrocities. But when the Israeli Trump-in-chief arrives in Washington, he is feted by AIPAC as the true representative of Jewish values. The anti-Trump. What perversion allows American Jews - or the majority of them, it would seem - to regard Donald Trump as the antithesis of their Jewish values and Benjamin Netanyahu as their exemplar? What cognitive bypass enables them to recognize the potential fascism of Trump, but not the existing tyranny of Israel's rule over the Palestinians, under the decade-long leadership of Netanyahu?

"Erdogan claims fighting terrorism outweighs democracy in Turkey: Combating terrorism is Turkey's highest priority, even higher than the rule of law, Turkish President Erdogan has said. Following a recent bomb attack in Ankara, he has pledged to crack down on Kurdish dissidents." So, pretty much like the New America.

In the fight against plastic, we now have the edible spoon. (Scroll down for video.)

Did you know what happens when you put a brick inside of a washing machine on top of a trampoline?

Some nice photographs of Whitechapel Bell Foundry, and a chat with Alan Hughes, its current owner. I've spoken to Alan a few times, mainly because if you phone the main number at the Foundry, he is sometimes the person who answers. Just think, the owner of Britain's oldest manufacturing plant answers the phone.

The Grateful Dead to Release July 1978: The Complete Recordings: "The collection contains five complete concerts, including the band's historic debut at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater."

The Wintergatan Marble Machine looks like something from Animusic, except that it's not an animation.

Ellen's Bernie video

"Bag Of Hammers" by The Granite Countertops


  1. Re: the coathanger court, it's so vastly improved since Scalia is off, that cases are being brought concerning women's health issues that were shuttled away before, and if anyone with even basic human decency gets on, the improvements will be monumental.

  2. Her primary concern seemed to be whether the Social Security system would be able to provide benefits to her young adult children in their later years. If you go back and take a look you'll probably find the whole back and forth was worse than you remember it. Scroll down to [LINK]:

    THE PRESIDENT: ...Mary is with us. Mary Mornin. How are you, Mary?

    MS. MORNIN: I'm fine.

    THE PRESIDENT: Good. Okay, Mary, tell us about yourself....

  3. If Sanders is denied the nomination it will alienate for a generation the largest voting demographic in a generation. Trust me, I have four of them.

    That's a lot to chew on, as ever, not much necessarily new but you sure know how to fit it together. I thought of you this morning, and only moments ago thought of mentioning you in a comment at Dr Black's place, but... have seen how long those threads are!? To wit: the discussion is the contributions we make to the cybersphere, regardless how small they may be. As I recall, about the time I was transitioning from commercial bulletinboard moderator to z-list blogger, perhaps ten years ago, I suggested in comments here we should quit quibbling and recognize it for what it is: Fascism. Now I may not have been the first to so boldly put it out there, but I didn't remember then and don't remember now having seen or heard it stated thus before. I moderated for both Microsoft and FindLaw for almost eight years prior, and that is exactly the sort of thing we looked for and censored. There are memes floating around out there...

    If I may, I'd like to throw that graphic up at my place.

  4. Great to see Thomas Frank turning his attention to the log that is in our own Democratic Party's eye. For anyone who didn't get around to that fifty plus minute Thom Hartmann interview here's my take away as to one of his main insights.

    In 2013 blogger Michael Smith posted about a Michelle Obama public appearance (my emphasis): [LINK]

    [QUOTE] [Here's] a recent talking-to she gave to a hapless captive audience of Washington teenagers, at a facility oddly called the Bell Multicultural High School (as opposed to a monocultural high school?)....

    I’m here today because I want you to know that my story can be your story... The details might be a little different, but so many of the challenges and triumphs will be just the same.

    ...My story can be your story. Every one of those kids at the Bell Multicultural Indoctrination And Prison Prep Center can, and should, come to live in the White House. All at the same time, in fact, having all graduated from Princeton in the same class and with the same GPA, all tied for valedictorian.

    No doubt she’s right that credential creep will continue; it creates a considerable wealth transfer to the credentialing sector, after all, which is now an important industry, though it sells a very mediocre product. But it is surely obvious to the meanest intellect that although anybody can get on a bus... everybody cannot get on a bus. A bus isn’t big enough for everybody. Not even the White House is that big. [END QUOTE]

    So with that as the set-up, here's an extended passage from a Huffington Post article [LINK] with some telling data that are found in Frank's most recent book, Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?

    1. [QUOTE] ...Here’s Clinton in December 1992: “Our new direction must rest on an understanding of the new realities of global competition. The world we face today is the world where what you earn depends on what you can learn. There’s a direct relationship between high skills and high wages.”

      This is the mantra of meritocracy. A degree means money and success. No degree equals poverty, and it’s your own fault if you don’t get one.

      It turns out that boosting overall levels of education doesn’t actually assuage income inequality. The rate of college-level enrollment has been increasing steadily since the late Clinton years, while economic inequality has been exacerbated.

      Striving to earn what you can learn has in fact destroyed the finances of many working-class families under Clinton, Bush and Obama. Between 1990 and 2013, enrollment at for-profit colleges and universities soared 565 percent, fueling a massive increase in the nationstudent debt burden. Americans now collectively owe nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars to for-profit schools.

      It’s generally proving to be a national ripoff. Only a third of students at for-profit schools graduate within six years, and those that do often receive limited economic benefits.

      How has the Obama administration responded? The Department of Education has misled the public about alleged fraud at major student loan contractor Navient. It has refused to punish schools that violate state and federal rules. It has dragged its feet on providing debt relief to students from the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges, even after federal judge ruled that the school scammed more than 100,000 students.

      “What I fundamentally believe — and what the president believes,” former Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan told The New York Times in 2012, “is that the only way to end poverty is through education.” Heckuva job, Arne.... [END QUOTE]

      There's audio [LINK] that accompanies the article, Frank is inteviewed from 15:20 to 31:59 in the stream. Here's some background for one of the topics that came up. [LINK] [LINK]

  5. Nico House is a troll, he offers NO evidence to back up his assertions, and he is specifically attacking the phone bank operation which has been key to winning Michigan and surging nationally.