Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I should be sleepin' like a log

For the record, I have always been uncomfortable with the way people use the words "whore" and "prostitute" to mean you're selling out your integrity. Whores rent their services out for money, but they don't sell their souls. Be that as it may, I don't think feminism is well served by cries of sexism every time someone uses language like this. Liberals have been calling members of media and Congress "whores" for a long time now to emphasize the fact that they have become people whose paychecks depend on selling out the public, and no one would think twice about such language if both of our candidates were men. I think it would be nice if people realized that calling someone a "bankster" or "neoliberal" or "former leader of the Democratic Leadership Council" is actually a bigger insult than to call them a "whore", but since we don't live in that world yet, I'll just be that little voice over here to the side saying, "That's an insult to whores!" and the rest of ya'll can just shut up about how we have to use more polite language now that one candidate is a woman and everything is all about her - and her sex. (I was disgusted when the Obama campaign did this crap to the Clintons in 2008, but it's clear she's adopted his playbook.)

I'm still listening to the Democratic debate at the Brooklyn Navy Yard - for the fourth time. (This video seems to loop when I open it - I had to push it back to the beginning.) Clinton talked over Sanders constantly - now that she has her whole chorus screaming "Sexism!" every time he tries to get a word in edgewise, she clearly feels free to step all over him when he tries to speak. Knowledgeable people may recognize how much of what she had to say was fog and double-talk, but the cheers of her supporters in so many wrong places tell us that they don't. Meanwhile, I thought it was interesting that no matter how many times she was asked if she supported raising the cap on Social Security, she always evaded the question. The Young Turks sum up.
* Ludicrously, the Clinton reaction to another suggestion that she release the transcripts of her paid speeches has been to say she would do it when everyone else does. Not sure who she means, since Sanders, like any other member of Congress, is forbidden to give speeches for money. Not sure it's the same for governors, but Trump has no secrets and nobody cares - or even remembers if he ever gave a speech for money - did he? Threads around the web complain of a "double standard" that only Hillary is being asked this, but again, only Hillary is in the position of having been paid more than a US Senator's annual salary for a single speech. Then we got the demand that Sanders release his tax returns! We don't usually hear that one until the general election, when the Democrat tries to get the Republican to spill. But this time, it's a desperation move from the Clinton camp. Right, because Sanders is of course hiding all of his ill-gotten gains in the Caymans. Oh, wait, he isn't.

US Senator Jeff Merkley, "Why I'm Supporting Bernie Sanders [...] But as we look toward the next administration, there is far more work to do. We need urgency. We need big ideas. We need to rethink the status quo. [...] But Bernie Sanders is boldly and fiercely addressing the biggest challenges facing our country. He has opposed trade deals with nations that pay their workers as little as a dollar an hour. Such deals have caused good jobs to move overseas and undermined the leverage of American workers to bargain for a fair share of the wealth they create in our remaining factories. He has passionately advocated for pivoting from fossil fuels to renewable energy to save our planet from global warming - the greatest threat facing humanity. He recognizes that to accomplish this we must keep the vast bulk of the world's fossil fuels in the ground. Continue reading the main story Bernie is a determined leader in taking on the concentration of campaign cash from the mega-wealthy that is corrupting the vision of opportunity embedded in our Constitution. [...] It is time to recommit ourselves to that vision of a country that measures our nation's success not at the boardroom table, but at kitchen tables across America. Bernie Sanders stands for that America, and so I stand with Bernie Sanders for president."
* 'Determined Leader' Sanders Nabs First Senate Endorsement
* Sanders hangs out with striking communications workers and picks up an endorsement from a New York transit union.

"Bernie Sanders' powerful new ad is going viral" - This is pretty damned good. I wonder if they'll actually be buying much airtime for this, it's nearly two-and-a-half minutes.

The Clinton camp had to really reach to twist that New York Daily News interview to make Sanders look bad, but no editorializing makes Clinton's own assertions when she spoke to the NYDN look good: "Hillary Clinton Says Honduras Coup Not Illegal In Daily News Editorial Board Interview." Anyone who was following the Honduras story at all knows that the whole world condemned this illegal coup, including our own ambassador and, originally, even Obama. But as Secretary of State, Clinton undercut efforts to restore democracy in Honduras and the result has been disaster for that country. She just loves decapitating governments to no useful purpose and letting the blood flow. (I won't even start on her plan to "incentivize" entities to put more money where it would be more useful. If there is one thing the last 45 years should have taught her, it's that "incentives" just create new options for raking off profits by gaming the system rather than using funds for the purposes they are intended.) Oh, yes, and there's the means-testing and promise of ten hours work for college tuition, evidence that she still doesn't get where the expenses are and what is being asked of students. And when asked about whether some of the banksters should have gone to jail, she says, "Well, it rankles me that I don't believe we had sufficient laws, sufficient prosecutorial resources to really go after what could have been not just dangerous, unethical behavior but perhaps illegal behavior. I've talked with some of the people responsible for trying to determine whether there could be cases brought. And they were totally outresourced." Well, no, actually, we had the laws, we had prosecutions going forward, and Obama stopped them. Everybody knows this - he insisted on offering them an opportunity to settle their cases for paltry sums of money when they should have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They had committed well-documented fraud of every type and they belonged in jail and they deserved to pay crippling fines. They should have hurt. Instead, they all came out better off than they'd been before. Let's not pretend it was all legal and no one could prosecute them. And does she think there are banks that should be broken up? "At this point, I am not privy to the analysis that is being conducted under Dodd-Frank to make that determination." Seriously? They were "too big to fail" before, but not now, when they are even bigger? Of course, forewarned and forearmed by having seen the interview with Sanders, Clinton was careful to make sure she had the explicit statutes to hand, so she could carefully recite them when they came up in the interview. None of it matters, because The Washington Post isn't writing stories about how badly Clinton answered these questions, and the NYDN itself, owned by a man who is already closely allied with Clinton, endorsed her, as they were always going to. But anyone who already has questions about Clinton's goals was not disabused of the feeling that Clinton's foreign policies are terrible and her aspirations for improvement in the current system are so minimal that they won't do much for the rest of us at all.
* "'She's Baldly Lying': Human Rights Expert on Hillary Clinton's Defense of Her Role in Honduras Coup"

David Dayen: "The Fed needs a revolution: Why America's central bank is failing - and how we can make it work for us: A bold new plan with links to the Sanders campaign has proposed taking the Federal Reserve, at long last, public ."
* Robert Reich on "Bernie and the Big Banks: The recent kerfluffle about Bernie Sanders purportedly not knowing how to bust up the big banks says far more about the threat Sanders poses to the Democratic establishment and its Wall Street wing than it does about the candidate himself. Of course Sanders knows how to bust up the big banks. He's already introduced legislation to do just that. And even without new legislation a president has the power under the Dodd-Frank reform act to initiate such a breakup. But Sanders threatens the Democratic establishment and Wall Street, not least because he's intent on doing exactly what he says he'll do: breaking up the biggest banks."
* Also from Dday, "Why the Goldman Sachs Settlement Is a $5 Billion Sham: The penalty might sound pretty stiff. But get a load of the real math." Actually, the penalty doesn't sound that stiff, either, when you consider what they did. David talked to Sam Seder about it on The Majority Report.

The Sacramento Bee, "No consequences, no justice in Goldman Sachs settlement.[...] It's now clear from a review of the settlement that Goldman Sachs likely will pay much less in penalties than the Justice Department claims, due to special credits included in the deal and, unbelievably, tax deductions Goldman Sachs will receive for payments it makes under the settlement. Disturbing as this may be, what's most troubling is that this settlement agreement - like previous deals between the Justice Department and big financial institutions - contains no consequences for the executives who drove or condoned wrongdoing. As a result, it will not deter future financial lawbreaking and will further undermine the public's faith in the fairness of our legal system."
* "FDIC, Fed Rulings Could See Five 'Too-Big-to-Fail' Wall Street Firms Broken Up by 2018: Federal regulators announced Wednesday morning that Dodd-Frank-mandated resolution plans of five "too big to fail" banks were 'not credible,' setting in motion a process that could see them broken up in thirty months."
* "I'm the real-life Gordon Gekko and I support Bernie Sanders: Banking is the least understood, and possibly most lethal, of all the myriad issues at stake in this election. No candidate other than Bernie Sanders is capable of taking the steps necessary to protect the American people from a repeat of the recent debacle that plunged the nation into a recession from which we have not recovered. The potential for a depression looms heavily on the horizon. As a trained economist who has spent more than 20 years on Wall Street - and one of the models for Gordon Gekko's character - I know the financial system is in urgent need of regulation and responsibility. Yet Hillary Clinton is beholden to the banks for their largesse in funding her campaign and lining her pockets. The likelihood of any Republican candidate taking on this key issue is not even worthy of discussion. The recession of 2007-2016, and the persistent transfer of wealth from the 80% to the 1% is, mostly the result of banking irresponsibility precipitated by the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. The law separated commercial banking (responsible for gathering and conservatively lending out funds) from investment banking (more speculative activities)."

Robert Reich: Bernie Sanders' threat to break up the banks is a threat to the Democratic Party establishment: The bottom line: Regulation won't end the Street's abuses. The Street has too much firepower. And because it continues to be a major source of campaign funding, no set of regulations will be tough enough. So the biggest banks must be busted up."

"Sorry Paul, but the Bailout WAS about the Banks. Paul Krugman claims that "Many analysts concluded years ago" that the big banks were not at the heart of the financial crisis and that breaking them up would not protect us from future crises. Incredibly, his claim is linked to an article by ... Paul Krugman. Maybe a Nobel Prize comes with a license to cite oneself as Gospel authority, but I don't believe that Krugman's Nobel Prize was for his expertise on bank regulation. So what's wrong with Krugman's claim? Let's go piece by piece."

Even Joe Conason, who has a long history of defending the Clintons and supports Hillary in this race, admits it: "On Israel, Bernie Sanders Is Right (And Hillary Clinton Knows It) [...] That should be blindingly obvious, especially to Clinton, who has worked alongside President Clinton and President Obama toward a decent two-state solution for almost a quarter century. Her disappointing reply to Sanders reflected her political priorities in the New York primary, rather than her commitment to human rights or her assessment of American diplomatic interests."

"Hillary Clinton Channels Allen and John Foster Dulles."

"Clinton, Sanders Will Sue Arizona Over Botched Election [...] According to the Post, the suit will focus on Maricopa County, home to roughly 2 million registered voters. Many voters experienced hourslong wait times after county elections officials cut the number of polling places from 200 in 2012 to 60 in 2016."

"Bernie Rocks Buffalo. He Also Did Something Else. Sanders turned out a huge crowd. He also took a notable detour. [...] The audience at Sanders's first stop was a lot quieter, a lot older, a lot whiter - and a whole lot smaller. They were pleased to see Sanders, but there was no mistaking the scene at Local 1122 of the Communications Workers of America for a rock concert or a sporting event. These were 25 shop stewards at Verizon who had to prepare their members to go on strike on Wednesday morning, and the mood in the room was a mixture of anxiety and defiant anger."
* The communications workers endorsed Sanders earlier this year, and now he's supporting them at the picket line. (This video starts out crummy but eventually gets to his speech.)
* "Hillary Clinton rakes in Verizon cash while Bernie Sanders supports company's striking workers: Verizon paid Hillary $225,000 for speech and poured money into Clinton Foundation. Executives give to her campaign."
* Verizon CEO Attack on Bernie Sanders Receives Gushing Praise - From Fellow Execs
* "Sanders Responds to Disgruntled CEOs: 'I Welcome Their Contempt': This is not the first time Bernie Sanders has drawn the ire of corporate honchos."

"Warren, Sanders Sponsor Bill Going After TurboTax, Complexity of Tax Filing [...] The following is another instance of the difference between neo-liberal governance and FDR-liberal governance. At present, tax filing - filling out and sending in a prepared multi-page tax return - is complicated and in most cases requires third-party software to complete. The government could do this for you, by filling in your forms with the information they have already, making those forms available online at a secure government web site and letting you add the rest of the data yourself. But under our current neo-liberal government, the IRS doesn't do that. Instead, the IRS has agreements with vendors in the software industry, including the TurboTax giant Intuit, not to cut into their profit by "competing" with them in "providing free, on-line tax return preparation and filing services to taxpayers." Even though, as you'll see below, the IRS is compelled by law to do just that. Consider that point for a moment, as you (perhaps) scramble to complete your own return for this year. What if you could go to a U.S. government website (instead of a third-party corporate website) and complete your tax filing online without filling out a complicated paper or PDF "return"? Would you prefer that? Would you mind not buying tax-filing software each year, year after year? At present, you don't have that choice. Even though, since 2002, the government has been legally required to develop and offer such a service, it won't. Capture of government by industry, including in this case the tax-preparation industry, has delayed that implementation."

"Colorado Democrats admit mistake that cost Bernie Sanders key delegate."

"Bernie Sanders Called Out Panama As A 'World Leader' In Tax Evasion Years Ago."

Last week, Nicole Sandler's Monday show discussed the "Democracy Spring" demonstrations in DC and talked to Joel Silberman (about superdelegates and the mish-mash of the primaries) and Seth Abramson about his perceptions of the primaries.

Pierce: "The Clintons Can Have Their Own Opinions, But They Can't Have Their Own History: Particularly when it comes to criminal justice and the 1994 Crime Bill."

Black Agenda Report: "Bill Clinton Insults Blacks in Order to Build Hillary's 'Big Tent' Party: Bill Clinton's behavior was calculated, predictable, and inevitable. The only question was the timing. It's the song he loves to sing, and Hillary sings it, too, as she did two decades ago when she spoke of the 'kinds of kids that are called 'super predators' - the ones with 'no conscience, no empathy, we can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.' This is a lot louder than a dog-whistle; it's white racist theater in service of the Mass Black Incarceration State. Bill Clinton reprised the performance, in Philadelphia, a generation later, with full-throated venom."

One of the big claims going around on the Clinton side is that Sanders isn't supporting down-ticket Democrats the way Clinton is. But "Is Clinton Really Supporting Down Ballot Candidates? Or Just Laundering Campaign Donations? [...] This is just a way to raise huge amounts of money (up to $355,000) for the Clinton campaign. It does nothing, absolutely nothing to help state parties. Worse, it is overt support for one candidate during a primary by the party - and remember, this was happening while O'Malley, a long-time Democrat 'in good standing' was also in the race."
* "How Hillary Clinton Bought the Loyalty of 33 State Democratic Parties [...] If a presidential campaign from either party can convince various state parties to partner with it in such a way as to route around any existing rules on personal donor limits and at the same time promise money to that state's potential candidates, then the deal can be sold as a way of making large monetary promises to candidates and Super Delegates respectable." She bought endorsements and superdelegate vote commitments. But another meme has been, "Why won't Sanders' Senate colleagues endorse him?" - an attempt to buttress a (false) claim that none of his colleagues like him. But Clinton has deftly found ways to make it advantageous to Senators to withhold endorsements from Sanders and to make sure that if they endorse anyone, it will be her. "In Montana, a state where one third of voters identify as independents, and where it is imperative that Democratic candidates for public office win some votes from both Republicans and Independents in order to get elected, it seems peculiar that the Montana State Democratic Party would make a deal with the Hillary Clinton campaign months before the national primaries were underway, given that there is a very real and proud tradition of political independence in Montana. Being told who to vote for in a primary by your party's big wigs is not part of that tradition."

"Bernie Sanders Has Won Something Big, Even If It's Not the Nomination: Forget who won the debate. Bernie has framed the debate."

"Gaius Publius: A Look Ahead: Neither Party Can Win Without Winning Independents."

"Republicans have faced more and more ideological primary challenges. Democrats haven't." Yes, the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC have suppressed those challenges, to the detriment of the party. They tried to stop this primary from being anything more than a coronation of Hillary Clinton, again to the party's detriment. As it was, the dearth of debates earlier in the season allowed the Republicans to command the airwaves and suppress the excitement that a real primary contest can generate.

The headline here is, "The Fed's Newest President Wants to Break Up Too-Big-to-Fail Banks, and Bernie Sanders Is Thrilled." But, wait - isn't this the same guy?

Robert Borosage, "Sanders on Clinton: Not Unqualified, Compromised. [...] Sanders' critique of Clinton isn't that she is unqualified or inexperienced. It is far tougher and more substantive. His campaign is premised on the belief that she is too compromised and conservative to be the president we need. It isn't about character or experience; it is about direction, program and independence. Sanders argues that our economy is rigged to favor the few, and our politics is corrupted by the big money, special interests and revolving door appointments that keep fixing the game. He argues we need fundamental change, not simply piecemeal or incremental reform if we are to make this economy work for working people once more. Sanders is running because he believes that Clinton is too compromised in her agenda. He has defined major substantive areas of disagreement: on corporate trade policies, on the need for major public investment and a sweeping initiative to take on global warming, on national health care, on breaking up the big banks and curbing Wall Street, on progressive taxation that will pay for tuition free public college, on $15.00 an hour minimum wage and empowering workers to organize, on dialing down our interventionist foreign policy and more. Clinton has moved to adopt a bolder reform position this year than in 2008 or before. She's basically at one with President Obama's policies. Yes, she's come out against the president's Transpacific Partnership deal, but everyone believes that is just campaign positioning. She claims to be tough on Wall Street, but even her Wall Street donors don't believe her. She's assiduously avoided embracing the Warren-Sanders reform agenda. She's put forth a good agenda on global warming, but opposes putting a price on carbon, opposes banning fracking, and hasn't made climate change a centerpiece of her campaign. She's scorned Sanders call for national health care or for tuition free college. She's been a supporter of the regime change follies from Iraq, to Honduras to Libya to Syria to the Ukraine."

David Cay Johnston, "How Corporate Inversions and Congressional Gridlock Got Beat: You don't necessarily have to pass a bill to get something done in Washington. How Pfizer's attempt to offshore its profits got stymied."

"Big Bank 'Living Wills' Are a Failure - and Point to a Bigger Problem: Regulators this week rejected, in whole or in part, the 'living wills' of seven of the eight largest U.S. banks. Does that suggest that those banks are all still 'too big to fail?' I would step back from that. The very process of having banks design living wills, which are roadmaps for their own bankruptcy, suggests they are too big."

I can't find anything wrong with this one, except that he could have done it a lot sooner and he could still do more, but here is Obama apparently doing something that is good: "Obama to forgive the student debt of permanently disabled people."

"Dozens of Prominent Academics Urge McGraw-Hill Education to Reverse Decision to Censor Palestinian Loss of Land Maps: Last month, publishing giant McGraw-Hill Education withdrew and destroyed copies of a US college level textbook because of complaints from supporters of Israel over a series of maps showing loss of Palestinian land from 1946, shortly before Israel was established, to 2000. In response to this shocking and outrageous act of censorship of the Palestinian narrative from US schoolbooks, dozens of respected Palestinian, Israeli, and American academics have signed onto the enclosed open letter calling on McGraw-Hill Education to reverse its decision."

"Warren Buffett's right-hand man gave a dark warning about American finance [...] 'There's way, way too much of that in America. And too much of the new wealth has gone to people who either own a casino or are playing in a casino. And I don't think the exaltation of that group has been good for life generally, and I am to some extent a member of that group. I'm always afraid I'll be a terrible example for the youth who want to make a lot of money with and not do much for anybody else and who just want to be shrewd about buying little pieces of paper. Even if you do that very honestly, I don't consider it much of a life. Just being shrewd about buying little pieces of paper, shrewder than other people, is not an adequate life. It's not a good example for other people.' [...] Munger, a Republican and a billionaire, also said he agreed with the views of Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders on this issue. 'The truth of the matter is that ... Elizabeth Warren doesn't agree with me on many subjects, and I wouldn't agree with her on many subjects, but she is basically right when she says that American finance is out of control and that it isn't good for the rest of us,' he said. 'Both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are not two of my favorite people on earth, but they are absolutely right.' Munger went on to say that there was cyclicality in the securities market and that 'the big busts hurt us more than the big booms help us.' He added that what gave rise to Hitler was the Great Depression." (That's from the story - but the full transcript of the interview is attached below it.)

The establishment always wants you to shut up. "Actually, make lots of noise. Make all the noise you can."

It always worries me when people start getting triumphal about how any minute now demographics or political weather is presaging a sea change in political control of the country. I've been hearing it my whole life while the people who are running things keep moving further and further to the right. I think the assumption that the clock is ticking against the aristocracy makes people complacent. The Baby Boomers had this same belief and allowed themselves to be distracted and deceived by clever "nuanced" language and politicians who wore the trappings of liberalism while forwarding the language and the policies of the aristocracy. Demographics may offer a chance at shifting course, but only if people are prepared to be very vigilant, to organize, and to work hard and never think the work is done.
* Jacobin, "The Coming Left-Wing Majority: More and more young people are rejecting the politics of fear and moving left."
* Cory Robin, "What's going to happen to liberals when the Right begins to give way?

"Neoliberalism - the ideology at the root of all our problems: Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has - or had - a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?"

"We Asked 4 Prominent Bernie Supporters if They'd Vote for Hillary in November. Here's What They Told Us [...] Rania Khalek: Sure, Trump has demonized Mexicans, Muslims, and women. But Clinton called black children 'superpredators' and referred to welfare recipients as 'deadbeats.' She routinely accuses Palestinians of teaching their children to hate while closely aligning herself with Israel's right-wing, Holocaust-revising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a man whose demagoguery rivals Trump's. She also likened Russian president Vladimir Putin to Hitler and expressed pride in making an enemy of 'the Iranians' whose country she once threatened to 'obliterate.' The problem with Clinton goes beyond semantics. On issues relating to trade and foreign policy, Clinton is clearly to the right of Trump. [...] Josh Holland: The counter-arguments are, frankly, incoherent. If droves of Sanders supporters were to stay home and deliver the White House to the GOP, the political establishment would view that as further proof that parties rarely win three terms in a row. The story would be that Clinton had too much baggage, or that Trump had brilliantly appealed to 'Reagan Democrats.' Whatever message the 'Bernie or Bust' crowd might think they'd be sending to the establishment would undoubtedly fall on deaf ears. [...] Doug Henwood: I've spent too much time reading about her hawkishness and her loyalty to corporate power to bring myself to pencil in the oval next to her name. It's likely she'd rip up the nuclear deal with Iran - more elegantly than Donald Trump, perhaps, but no less thoroughly - and try to change a disobedient regime or two. And her apologists who want to know what specific quid pro quos she's granted in exchange for campaign contributions from banks and other powerful corporations are missing the point: They shouldn't be read as transactional but as votes of confidence from people who don't part with money lightly. [...] Kathleen Geier: Vote for the sinner, hate the sin."

"The Panama Papers prove it: America can afford a universal basic income."

Juan Cole, "Are Sanders' Criticisms of Israeli Occupation Policies unprecedented in a Presidential Campaign? Bernie Sanders is being attacked for comments on the Middle East in his interview with the editorial board of The New York Daily News, but all he did was restate current US government policy."

"Why It Matters That Hillary Clinton Championed Welfare Reform: As poor people suffer without a safety net, it's time for the two Democratic candidates to start talking about restoring the welfare system."
* "Late-Term Abortion Debate Reveals a Rift Between Clinton and Sanders: Bernie Sanders opposes all abortion restrictions. Hillary Clinton's stance is murkier."

Sorry Paul, but the Bailout WAS about the Banks: Breaking up the big banks alone will not prevent all future crises. And no one is claiming that. But by breaking up the big banks there will be the political room to regulate the financial system more effectively. Too-big-to-fail is too-big-to-regulate. And that alone makes breaking up the big banks an important goal."
* The headline is just a bit misleading, but it's not really that much of a stretch to think that Warren had Krugman and others of his ilk in mind when she said: "There's been a lot of revisionist history floating around lately that the Too Big to Fail banks weren't really responsible for the financial crisis, That talk isn't new. Wall Street lobbyists have tried to deflect blame for years. But the claim is absolutely untrue. There would have been no crisis without these giant banks. They encouraged reckless mortgage lending both by gobbling up an endless stream of mortgages to securitize and by funding the slimy subprime lenders who peddled their miserable products to millions of American families. The giant banks spread that risk throughout the financial system by misleading investors about the quality of the mortgages in the securities they were offering"

Matt Bruenig is grateful to learn from this campaign about "The various pathologies of young women: One thing I've enjoyed about the Democratic primary is learning which voter demographics you can pathologize and which you can't. It turns out that even vaguely gesturing at the idea that Black voters may be choosing incorrectly is definitely oppressive and wrong. After all, that's the kind of stuff we usually only reserve for the disgusting poor and working class white voters. On the other hand, explicitly saying young women voters are ignorant, complacent, naive, or boy-crazy cool girls is actually fine. Used to, that was the stuff of Reddit, but believe it or not, 'bitches be crazy' is an actual genre of election coverage about why young women go for Bernie."

Joe Sestak's last stand against the Democratic Party

"Panama Papers: Spy agencies widely used Mossack Fonseca to hide activities: Intelligence agencies from several countries, including CIA intermediaries, have abundantly used the services of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to "conceal" their activities, German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) says, citing leaked documents."

Russ Wellen, "Let's Review: Saudi Arabia Is Not Our Friend [...] It is time we get it through our heads once and for all that the Saudis are not our friends. Not only have they funded terrorism for years, either directly or indirectly, but they constitute an ongoing fly in the ointment in our relations with Iran. Also, the United States has let itself get sucked into supporting the Saudis in its war on Yemen - the savageness of which is only exceeded by its senselessness. The United States doesn't even need their oil anymore."

The BradBlog: "Absent Court Intervention, 608k Registered TX Voters Face Unlawful Disenfranchisement (Again!)

"Media Blackout As London Muslims March Against ISIS: The reporting double standard around Muslims made plain by anti-ISIS rally."

Apparently, a couple of weeks ago Peter Lilley himself posted on the Tory blog that he opposes TTIP. This guy was Secretary of State for Trade & Industry under Thatcher, and he's breaking with his party by sounding a warning against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - which, being the kind of Tory he is, he had initially been wholly in favor of, before he actually looked into it. But even as anti-protectionist as he is, he ended up not liking it. "TTIP is not primarily about removing tariffs and quotas. The average tariff levied by the US on goods from Europe is just 2.5 per cent. Getting rid of them would be worthwhile - but no big deal. It is mainly about harmonising product specifications and creating a special regime for investment. There is no objection to those things in principle. Insofar as product harmonisation means removing rules introduced as hidden protection of a domestic producer, that is fine. But we should not sign away Parliament's right to protect our citizens from harmful additives, and so forth." Eric Zuesse says, "The very core of both Obama's 'trade' deal with Europe, TTIP, and his 'trade' deal with Asia, TPP, is precisely that: to sign away legislators' power to protect the electorate from harmful additives, toxic water and foods and air, unsafe cars, and a sustainable environment for themselves and future generations - and more (Lilley is especially concerned because it would abolish Britain's vaunted public health service. Imagine: a British Conservative is determined to protect that enormously successful socialist program in his country! Flabbergasting, but true.) The very core of it is to transfer national sovereignty to a worldwide dictatorship of international corporations (three-person corporate-accountable panels of 'arbitrators', whose rulings are non-appealable and aren't required to adhere to any nation's laws - it's shocking, but true)."

Dean Baker, "Point: We Had Trade Before We Had NAFTA and Other Trade Deals [...] The United States already had plenty of trade before NAFTA, CAFTA and the other trade deals negotiated over this period, just as it already has a huge amount of trade with the TPP countries. It will continue to have large amounts of trade with Canada, Japan and other TPP countries regardless of whether Congress approves the deal, so we are not arguing about whether or not the United States should trade. Rather, NAFTA and subsequent trade deals are about putting in place a set of rules that structure the pattern of trade to favor some groups and disadvantage others. At the top of the list of beneficiaries of these deals are the multinational corporations that want more protections for their investment in other countries."

Ian Welsh, "The Market Fairy will not solve the problems of Uber and Lyft: Here is the thing about Uber and Lyft (and much of the 'sharing economy'). They don't pay the cost of their capital. The wages they pay to their drivers are less than the depreciation of the cars and the expense of keeping the driver fed, housed and healthy. They pay less than minimum wage in most markets, and in most markets that is not enough to pay the costs of a car plus a human."

Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole, "Echo Papa Exposed: Inside Erik Prince's Treacherous Drive to Build a Private Air Force [...] One of the mechanics soon recognized Echo Papa from news photos - he was Erik Prince, founder of the private security firm Blackwater. Several of the Airborne staff whispered among themselves, astonished that they had been working for America's best-known mercenary. The secrecy and strange modification requests of the past four months began to make sense."

"Barack Obama says Libya was 'worst mistake' of his presidency: 'Failing to plan' for the aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi's downfall is the US president's biggest regret from his time in office." You'd think they would have thought of that, eh? Prepared, much? Thanks, Hillary.

There's more than one creep jacking up drug prices: Valeant Pharmaceuticals raises price of Cuprimine from $400 a month to $40,000 a month. It's the only drug for Wilson's disease, and without it, patients will die.

"The South's new re-segregation plan: The Koch brothers, ALEC and the sneaky scheme to undo Brown v Board of Education: Eighty years after Brown, Southern segregation is on the rise -- and "school choice" is its vehicle. [...] The rise of vouchers is not a response to popular demand. Vouchers have been put to voters in several states, and every time they have been soundly defeated, even in red state Utah. The revival of the voucher movement is nothing more than ideology and politics taking charge of schooling. School choice is not the 'civil rights issue of our time,' as its proponents claim; it is the predictable way to roll back civil rights in our time."

Cenk makes a good point about his recent problem with American Airlines. You're a captive in an airport and individuals who work for an airline have tremendous power to exact significant vengeance for the pettiest of reasons, and you shouldn't have to be Cenk Uygur to get any redress, but the fact is you shouldn't have to put up with this crap at all. No one should be able to yank your ticket (no refunds!) at the last minute of boarding a plane over some irrelevant nonsense that everyone knows poses no impediment or threat whatsoever. The crazy security theater needs to be gone, and with it the sense of entitled power that even the pettiest officials are able to abuse.

"I am on the Kill List. This is what it feels like to be hunted by drones: I am in the strange position of knowing that I am on the 'Kill List'. I know this because I have been told, and I know because I have been targeted for death over and over again. Four times missiles have been fired at me. I am extraordinarily fortunate to be alive. I don't want to end up a 'Bugsplat' - the ugly word that is used for what remains of a human being after being blown up by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone. More importantly, I don't want my family to become victims, or even to live with the droning engines overhead, knowing that at any moment they could be vaporized. I am in England this week because I decided that if Westerners wanted to kill me without bothering to come to speak with me first, perhaps I should come to speak to them instead. I'll tell my story so that you can judge for yourselves whether I am the kind of person you want to be murdered."

"How 'Maintainers' not 'Innovators' Make the World Turn [...] But those who've questioned whether technology really is society's salve aren't alone. Lee Vinsel, an assistant professor of science and technology at the Stevens Institute of Technology, wrote a dissertation on innovation and regulation in the early days of the automobile. But lately, he finds that the word 'innovation' is overused to the point of meaninglessness - and worse, that it can obfuscate the bleak realities of the status quo. 'In a culture where we forget about things like crumbling infrastructure and wage inequality, those narratives about technological change can be really dangerous,' Vinsel says."

"Exactly how male gamers react when they are forced to play female characters"

"Did Led Zeppelin really write 'Stairway to Heaven'?"

"Looking For Tom Lehrer, Comedy's Mysterious Genius"

Trailer for Doctor Strange

Frank Zappa steps off of a plane and encounters a US Navy Marching Band playing "Joe's Garage".

Paul McCartney hasn't performed "A Hard Day's Night" since the Beatles played the Cow Palace in 1965. Until now.


  1. October 06, 2011
    News Conference by the President

    [QUOTE] Q Thank you, Mr. President. Just to follow up on Jackie’s question -- one of the reasons why so many of the people of the Occupy Wall Street protests are so angry is because, as you say, so many people on Wall Street did not follow the rules, but your administration hasn’t really been very aggressive in prosecuting. In fact, I don’t think any Wall Street executives have gone to jail despite the rampant corruption and malfeasance that did take place. So I was wondering if you’d comment on that....

    THE PRESIDENT: Well, first on the issue of prosecutions on Wall Street, one of the biggest problems about the collapse of Lehmans and the subsequent financial crisis and the whole subprime lending fiasco is that a lot of that stuff wasn’t necessarily illegal, it was just immoral or inappropriate or reckless. That’s exactly why we needed to pass Dodd-Frank, to prohibit some of these practices.

    The financial sector is very creative and they are always looking for ways to make money. That’s their job. And if there are loopholes and rules that can be bent and arbitrage to be had, they will take advantage of it. So without commenting on particular prosecutions -- obviously that’s not my job; that’s the Attorney General’s job -- I think part of people’s frustrations, part of my frustration, was a lot of practices that should not have been allowed weren’t necessarily against the law, but they had a huge destructive impact. And that’s why it was important for us to put in place financial rules that protect the American people from reckless decision-making and irresponsible behavior.... [END QUOTE]

    Aired and/or posted online April 4, 2011
    [LINK] 5:47 "overtime" report
    [LINK] 13:05 original report

  2. Wow, what a lot of stuff!

    I did not know about Clinton's defense of the Honduran coup. It sounds like she's taking Kissinger's advice on Latin America, and as far as I can tell one of his goals is to kill lots of people.

    BTW, the Vinsel/Russell "Maintainers" link is wrong; you seem to have meant this one: http://www.citylab.com/design/2016/04/how-maintainers-not-innovators-make-the-world-turn/477468/ and Vinsel and Russell's (faculty at my alma mater, yet) own article is at https://aeon.co/essays/innovation-is-overvalued-maintenance-often-matters-more. And, yes, I agree; keeping things running and taking out the trash is far underrated.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Sandersnista Fredrik deBoer recommends this Vox column, The Smug Style in American Liberalism, with the hedged warning [my emphasis]:

      [QUOTE] ...I totally reject the popular faux-contrarian take that people write too long these days. There’s no such thing as a “right” average length for essays, which should be as long as they should be and no shorter or longer. But this piece is perhaps too long.... [END QUOTE]

      As deBoer recently earned a PhD in English you'd be safe to assume there's no "perhaps" to it, the piece is flat out too long for what, in total, is served. Nonetheless, I found it worth reading through its entirety if just to find the following [my emphasis]:

      [QUOTE] If the smug style can be reduced to a single sentence, it's, Why are they voting against their own self-interest? But no party these past decades has effectively represented the interests of these dispossessed. Only one has made a point of openly disdaining them too.

      Abandoned and without any party willing to champion their interests, people cling to candidates who, at the very least, are willing to represent their moral convictions. The smug style resents them for it, and they resent the smug in turn.

      The rubes noticed that liberal Democrats, distressed by the notion that Indiana would allow bakeries to practice open discrimination against LGBTQ couples, threatened boycotts against the state, mobilizing the considerable economic power that comes with an alliance of New York and Hollywood and Silicon Valley to punish retrograde Gov. Mike Pence, but had no such passion when the same governor of the same state joined 21 others in refusing the Medicaid expansion. No doubt good liberals objected to that move too. But I've yet to see a boycott threat about it.
      [END QUOTE]


    2. In 1974 Bill Clinton lost as the Democratic nominee running for the U.S. House seat from Arkansas's 3rd district. Subsequently, Clinton won his first elected office as Arkansas's Attorney General in 1976.

      [LINK] (audio autoplays)

      Jon Wiener ["host and producer of “Start Making Sense,” The Nation’s weekly podcast"]: [12:22] Now we want to talk about Hillary in Haiti. It's a long term relationship and a revealing one. For that we turn to Amy Wilentz, she's an award winning journalist, novelist, and writer.

      Her book Farewell, Fred Voodo: A Letter From Haiti won the National Book Critic's Circle Award for 2014. She also wrote The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier. Her other work has received the Whiting Writer's Award, the PEN Martha Albrand Non-Fiction Award, and The American Academy's Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award. She publishes widely and she's a long time contributing editor at the Nation. Amy Wilentz, welcome back.

      Amy Wilentz: Glad to be here John.

      Wiener: Hillary and Bill say that Haiti has a special place in their hearts and has had for more than thirty [sic] years. Why is that?

      Wilentz: Yeah, they got there even before I did...

      Wiener: [laughs]

      Wilentz: ...they went for their honeymoon in 1975, and their host was an executive with CitiBank. CitiBank has a long record in Haiti dating from the days where it was called the [First] National City Bank [of New York] and was a primary reason why the American occupation began and that was a nineteen year, no, a twenty-nine year occupation of Haiti, a [U.S.] Marine occupation.

      So this is a big player on the Haitian scene, and so when Bill and Hillary went they met all sorts of people who had done business with National City and CitiBank there and those were their original roots in Haiti. And of course, they were seduced by Haiti, because it is a very seductive country.

      Wiener: I just find it astounding that for their honeymoon they were guests of CitiBank....

    3. Well, well, well. Who'da thunk their relationship with Citibank went back that far.

      There's a piece written by the former Chief of Staff of the 1974 House Judiciary Impeachment Inquiry that's been making the rounds of right-wing websites. The only leftist site link I could find is warisacrime.org. The writer, Democrat Jerry Zeifman, maintains that he fired 27-year-old Hillary Clinton for unethical behavior. I'd take it with a grain of salt if it wasn't consistent with everything I've learned about her since 1992.

    4. I'm having a little difficulty swallowing the Zeifman tale, I'll give it some further consideration. For sure, one claim is not adding up:

      A second objective of the strategy of delay was to avoid a Senate impeachment trial, in which as a defense Nixon might assert that Kennedy had authorized far worse abuses of power than Nixon's effort to "cover up" the Watergate burglary (which Nixon had not authorized or known about in advance). In short, the crimes of Kennedy included the use of the Mafia to attempt to assassinate Castro, as well as the successful assassinations of Diem in Vietnam and Lumumba in the Congo.

      Lumumba was deposed in late 1960 and is generally believed to have been killed on January 17, 1961. [LINK] Nixon would still have been the sitting Vice-President of the United States on that day as JFK wasn't inaugurated with his VP LBJ until January 20, 1961.

    5. D'oh. The Pentagon Papers had been out for several years by then and there wasn't much left to expose on the Diem story. Henry Cabot Lodge had been Nixon's running mate in 1960, and he was the U.S.'s point man in Vietnam at the time of Diem's assassination as the ambassador in Saigon. It was well known by late 1971 that Kennedy had failed to head off a coup, and, rather stupidly, hadn't realized the likelihood that Diem would be killed as its result.

      Here's the correspondence the public had all ready seen about the plot which was carried out on November 2, 1963:

      5 Oct 1963 NSC meeting

      The President approves detailed recommendations of the McNamara-Taylor mission for transmission to Lodge.

      CAP message 63560

      President today approved recommendation that no initiative should now be taken to give any active covert encouragement to a coup. There should, however, be urgent covert effort . . . to identify and build contacts with possible alternative leadership as and when it appears."

      CAS Saigon message 1445

      With Lodge's approval, and probably before receipt of foregoing message, Conein meets with General Minh. Minh says he must know the U.S. position on a coup in the near future. The GVN's loss of popular support is endangering the whole war effort. Three possible plans are mentioned, one involving assassination. Conein is noncommital.

      CAS Saigon message 34026

      Lodge recommends that when Conein is contacted again, he be authorized to say that the U.S. will not thwart a coup, that we are willing to review plans, and that we will continue support to a successor regime.

      30 Oct 1963 MACV messages 2028, 2033, and 2034

      Belatedly apprised of the continuing contacts with the generals and the U.S. role in the coup plotting, General Harkins dispatches three angry cables to Taylor in which he disagrees with Lodge's interpretation of the U.S. policy. He understands it to be no active covert encouragement. He opposes personally a coup and doesn't think the generals have the forces to pull one off.

      CAS Washington message 79109

      The White House is now genuinely concerned at the Saigon dispute and tells Lodge it believes we still have the power to call off the coup if we choose to.

      CAS Saigon message 2063

      Lodge replies to Washington that he is powerless to stop the coup, the matter is entirely in Vietnamese hands. Harkins does not concur.

      CAS Washington message 79407

      To clear the air and redefine U.S. policy, Washington sent another cable to Lodge. The U.S. cannot accept as a policy position that it has no power to prevent the coup. If the coup does not have high prospects of success, Lodge should intercede with the generals to have it delayed or called off. More detailed information on the plans is urgently requested. Specific instructions to guide U.S. action during a coup are issued. They prescribe strict noninvolvement and somewhat less strict neutrality.


    6. For anyone who might be interested in listening to a few bars from Lerner and Loewe's Camelot here's a link. [LINK]

    7. Yes, that line of reasoning sounded ridiculous - it was the political maneuvering to prevent a Ford presidency and her purported willingness to ignore the rules when it was politically expedient that sounded plausible.

  4. By definition, a coup is illegal. Channeling the Dulles brothers indeed.

    I found myself using "smug" recently, when airing complaint of Clinton Surrogates' (to be polite) bullying, belittling, condensending, smug sanctimonious treatment of those who disagree. Not unlike their counterparts on the reich.