Friday, September 23, 2016

If there's anything that you want

Some people complain that I'm always ragging on Democrats instead of on Republicans. Leaving aside my opinion that some Democrats are Republicans, I just don't see the point, since the Republicans are already hopeless, and there's nothing I can do about them except hope we somehow get a party that will actually oppose them. Until the Democrats start really doing that, yes, I'm ragging on them.

This is FiveThirtyEight's election projection page, and about halfway down there's a map with the states sized by number of electoral votes, which is nice because all those big red states like Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas are cut down to size and are no bigger than Vermont. It gives you a much better picture of how close the election is than looking at a normal map with all that red territory.

"In historic move, Gov. Jerry Brown expands overtime pay for California farmworkers: Leaders of the United Farm Workers of America, which sponsored the overtime bill, called Brown's decision a victory in a nearly 80-year quest to establish broad rights and protections for farm laborers. But the move shocked the agricultural community, which lobbied heavily against its provisions, saying the new law would hurt a valuable state industry already on the decline. [...] It will lower the current 10-hour-day threshold for overtime by half an hour each year until it reaches the standard eight-hour day by 2022. It also will phase in a 40-hour standard workweek for the first time. The governor will be able to suspend any part of the process for a year depending on economic conditions."

Forget jail, "Wells Fargo Exec Who Headed Phony Accounts Unit Collected $125 Million" - and 5,000 nonentities working for him got fired.
* "Bernie Sanders Asks The Only Relevant Question About The Wells Fargo Scandal."
* David Dayen in TNR, "The Obama Administration Must Prosecute Wells Fargo: CEO John Stumpf's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee offered more than enough evidence of major securities fraud. [...] If the SEC and the Justice Department don't get involved here, they might as well not even exist. CFPB's Cordray and OCC's Thomas Curry wouldn't say whether they issued criminal referrals to law enforcement in this case, though Cordray hinted at it. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, if she wants to emerge from wherever she's been hiding on this issue, has enough information to bring cases. Will President Barack Obama's administration end its tenure as it began, by refusing to prosecute systemic fraud in the financial markets? That's the unavoidable conclusion so far."
* There's nothing quite like watching her give a fraudster a good grilling, and it was gratifying to see Elizabeth Warren eviscerate Wells Fargo's CEO.

"'Big Short' guru tells whiny bankers to shut up [...] 'You lived in a bad neighborhood. You didn't police yourselves. You're going to have to live with this. You frickin' blew up Planet Earth. Shut up and move on.'"

Marcy Wheeler on "A Busy Day for the Bears" after the leaked Powell emails, a speech by Guccifer, and other things.
* Much as I hate to link to the Daily Mail, I have to admit to being amused by their headline of the leaked Colin Powell emails.

Juan Cole, "Why the Boeing & Airbus Sales to Iran are a Big Effing Deal" - Because it's more ethical, more economically sensible, and it helps strengthen the Iran deal.

Noam Chomsky explains the TPP

"A bad day for Missouri: The people of Missouri just had a very bad day. It started off with the top lobbyist for the top donor in Missouri being allowed by Republicans to speak from the dais on the Senate floor. Lobbyists getting what they wanted would be the theme of the day. During the veto session on Wednesday, the Republicans who control our legislature went on a rampage against the people of Missouri. They made it harder to vote and easier for anyone to carry a gun anywhere, unchecked and untrained. They put industry representatives in charge of policing their own water pollution. They gave a $50 million retroactive handout to special interests without budgeting for it. They voted to fine the poorest people in the state if they use an emergency room or miss a doctor's appointment. They spent the day celebrating their unchecked authority taunting Democrats, voters and the Governor on social media, while refusing to help any Missourians."

Barton Gellman, one of the four journalists (with Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, and Ewen MacAskill) to see the original Snowden materials, and whose stories in The Washington Post on the subject earned the paper a Pulitzer, on "The House Intelligence Committee's Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Snowden Report: Late on Thursday afternoon the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a three-page executive summary (four, if we count the splendid cover photo) of its two-year inquiry into Edward Snowden's National Security Agency (NSA) disclosures. On first reading, I described it as an 'aggressively dishonest' piece of work. With a day or so to reflect on it, I believe it's worse than that. The report is not only one-sided, not only incurious, not only contemptuous of fact. It is trifling."
* Marcy Wheeler: "Remember, every single member of the committee, Democrat or Republican, signed this report. Every single one. For some reason, even fairly smart people like Adam Schiff and Jackie Speier signed off on something with inexcusable errors."
* "Former CIA Officer: President Obama Should Pardon Edward Snowden: He let Americans evaluate omniscient domestic surveillance for themselves."
* "WashPost Makes History: First Paper to Call for Prosecution of Its Own Source (After Accepting Pulitzer): Three of the four media outlets that received and published large numbers of secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden - The Guardian, the New York Times, and The Intercept - have called for the U.S. government to allow the NSA whistleblower to return to the U.S. with no charges. That's the normal course for a news organization, which owes its sources duties of protection, and which - by virtue of accepting the source's materials and then publishing them - implicitly declares the source's information to be in the public interest. But not the Washington Post." But Margaret Sullivan took issue with them - in their own Style section, with "As a source - and a patriot - Edward Snowden deserves a presidential pardon."
* "'Pardon Snowden' Campaign Takes Off as Sanders, Ellsberg, and Others Join: His bravery was a catalyst for the modern movement to defend democracy."

"Warrant Issued for Amy Goodman's Arrest for DAPL Reporting: Watch Your Back! I guess that you might expect a film showing security guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on those protesting the Dakota Access oil Pipeline (DAPL) would be bound to get someone's attention. Surely it might lead to an arrest or at minimum, disciplinary measures against those who employed such tactics against non-violent protestors. After all, the optics of such measures surely rebound against those who order them to be unleashed (anyone remember Selma, for example?) Well, if you thought that, you would be wrong. We don't live in sane times. Instead, a warrant has been issued in Morton County, North Dakota for the arrest of award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, on a charge of criminal trespassing, a Class B misdemeanor offense, as reported by the local Dickinson Press. Goodman and her team have been in the forefront of covering the DAPL protests. On September 3, they filmed security personnel working for the pipeline company using dogs and pepper spray to attack protesters. That graphic report, which may be viewed here, went viral and was rebroadcast widely by CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, MSNBC and the Huffington Post, among other outlets."

Pierce, "The Charter School Movement Is a Vehicle for Fraud and Corruption: As I may have mentioned, we have a red-hot ballot initiative up here in the Commonwealth (God Save It!) in which we are asked whether or not we want to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The usual suspects and the usual out-of-state money are weighing in heavily on the YES side of things; their ads continually portray charters as merely an extension of the existing public school system even though experience everywhere tells us that the people who are making big bank of education "reform" generally, and on charters in specific, insist that they be allowed to run their independently of the school boards that manage the rest of the public system. In other words, all they want from the public school system is money and suckers."

I'm always wary of "cures" for addiction, but I'm also aware that there are circumstances where they can help, and this one looks - so far - like it might just work, So, yes, "Banning a promising cure for opioid addiction is a bad idea [...] But not to worry: The Drug Enforcement Administration is on the case. 'To avoid an imminent hazard to public safety,' the agency said in a press release, it will be adding kratom, a medicinal herb that has been used safely in Southeast Asia for centuries, to its list of Schedule 1 substances, placing the popular botanical in a class with killers like heroin and cocaine at the end of September. Why ban the mild-mannered tree leaf? Well, because the DEA claims it's an opioid with 'no currently accepted medical use.' Wrong on both counts. " But given the nature of the drug's potential, why would the DEA even get interested in banning it. Oh. "However, drug companies have shown little interest in a plant remedy that cannot be patented. While some of kratom's active ingredients have indeed been patented by researchers who hope one day to market them to pharmaceutical firms, Boyer said that these compounds have failed to exhibit as powerful pain-killing effects as the whole plant."

For a change, the stats say things were better for Americans last year. Well, some of them, anyway. David Dayen in The New Republic, "Obama Thanks Himself - for a Slow, Partial Recovery: A good 2015 doesn't make up for years of stagnation. [...] But digging into the data reveals a more complicated picture, especially when put in the context of what we've been through in the Obama era. First of all, we should be chastened by the fact that this is the first gain in median household income since 2007. That means that, after eight years in the wilderness, the post-recession recovery for the middle class only started in 2015." And not all of the credit should be going to Obama, either; much of it may be owed to Fight for $15.

"Obama Expected To Veto 9/11 Bill Because It Sets A Dangerous Precedent: The House voted Friday to allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the state of Saudi Arabia for their alleged ties to terrorism. The vote comes four months after the Senate voted the bill through, but proponents worry that President Obama will veto the bill. 'We are in the same place we were the last time,' a White House official told NBC on Friday. Obama said in April he would veto the bill. The White House says that the bill's enactment could put American officials overseas in danger. By opening up the prospect of victims suing governments (or states), the United States could be opening itself up to law suits from individuals who feel that the country has committed crimes in their nation - like victims of drones in Pakistan, or civilians killed by the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition in Yemen." Oh, noes! We wouldn't be able to bomb children safely!

"Secret government electronic surveillance documents must be released, judge says: In a major victory for journalists and privacy and transparency advocates, a federal court has started the process of unsealing secret records related to the government's use of electronic surveillance. US District Court Judge Beryl Howell said at a hearing Friday morning that absent an objection by government attorneys, the court would post to its website next week a list of all case numbers from 2012 in which federal prosecutors in Washington, DC applied for an order to install a pen register or a trap and trace device. A pen register is an electronic apparatus that tracks phone numbers called from a specific telephone line (though the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act expanded the definition of pen register to allow for collection of email headers as well). A trap and trace device is similar, but tracks the phone numbers of incoming calls. [..;] Orders authorizing the use of a pen register are initially sealed to prevent tipping off the subject of the investigation that their communications are being monitored. However, courts rarely reexamine the need for continued secrecy after the investigation is closed. As a result, virtually all pen register applications and orders have remained hidden from public view years or even decades after the investigation has ended."

"Chelsea Manning Ends Hunger Strike, Will Get Gender Affirming Surgery

The ACLU has a case: "Police Accidentally Record Themselves Conspiring to Fabricate Criminal Charges Against Protester." A long time ago, before there were videocams, I watched some cops sit around casually trying to figure out what charge they could trump up against me right in front of me, without the slightest worry that they were doing so in front of a witness. This wasn't going to be easy, because they'd stopped a car for going five miles over the speed limit and I had been asleep in the back seat, so it would have been hard for me to be an accessory to the crime. Didn't stop me from spending three days in jail, though.

"Did You Know We Are Having the Largest Prison Strike in History? Probably Not, Because Most of the Media Have Ignored It: The prison strike didn't merit a single mention in NYT, Washington Post, NPR, CNN or MSNBC."

"Stephen A. Smith: Military Pays NFL To Make Players Stand For National Anthem: On ESPN's First Take, Stephen A. Smith blew the whistle on Jones' fake outrage by reporting that players were not mandated to stand until 2009. Until then, nobody stood for the anthem because players stayed in the locker room until it was time to come out on the field and play. He goes on to say that players were moved onto the field during the anthem as a marketing strategy to make them look more patriotic. Smith says that the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. National Guard paid the NFL more than $10 million combined to pull off the move."

Rick Perlstein, America's historian in The Washington Spectator, "Hillary's Reckless Off-Ramp Strategy [... The speech, I was dismayed to discover, proved quite popular among liberals, some of whom singled me out for not understanding the sublime cleverness of the 'off-ramp' Clinton had provided for indignant Republicans. After all, the person who wins the most votes wins the presidential election. (I know, I know, Mr. Gore, I mean usually wins the presidential election.) Additionally, a president with more friends in Washington has a better chance of advancing her agenda than one with fewer friends - and that, simply, was all Clinton's speech was about. But it's not so simple. For decades, the Democrats' Achilles' heel has been an obsession with strategizing to win this election, often at the expense of building strategic capacity to keep winning elections and control the agenda for the next several elections - and decades - to come. [...] But what's the harm? Don't right-wing grifters' votes count the same as horny-handed tillers of the soil? Won't the news that famous Republicans are breaking for Hillary help ordinary Republicans stomach the switch, too? It's not like Glassman is going to be her treasury secretary. Democrats have an election to win, and it's less than two months away - doesn't Team Clinton want to pile up as many supporters as it possibly can? The flaw in this argument is that it overlooks something: the potential problems come in the longer term. Large numbers of supporters of only glancing or provisional commitment to your governing agenda, shoehorned into your tent in time for Election Day, can become quite the liability for effectuating that agenda when it comes time to govern. Just ask Jimmy Carter. Carter was elected president in 1976 by riding a wave of disgust with untrustworthy government, a victory foreshadowed in 1974 by the election of a passel of what became known as Congress's 'Watergate Babies.' Many of these fresh-faced political youngsters retired as legendary liberal lions: Representatives George Miller and Henry Waxman, Senators Tom Harkin and Chris Dodd. A lot of them, however, were explicitly like Gary Hart." And Hart was the exemplar of the New Democrats. He even had a name for his stump speech: "The End of the New Deal." If you ever wondered how it was that the Republicans were suddenly able to sell their appalling, destructive - and widely hated - policies, Democrats like Hart are the ones you can blame.

The Guardian has a little report, "Because Scott Walker Asked: Leaked court documents from 'John Doe investigation' in Wisconsin lay bare pervasive influence of corporate cash on modern US elections [...] The prosecutors alleged in court filings published here for the first time that Walker's campaign found a way around these restrictions by banking the corporate cash through the third-party group, Wisconsin Club for Growth. WCfG describes itself as a 'pro-liberty, pro-fiscal restraint' organisation, sharing the same small government and anti-union ideology as Walker. It is a tax-exempt group, or 501 (c) (4), that is supposed to be primarily concerned with 'social welfare' rather than partisan politics and as such is not obliged to reveal its donors."

David Dayen introduces this Intercept series in a Facebook post: I've spent nearly a year working on a series of articles for The Intercept that we're calling The Penny Stock Chronicles. It follows Chris DiIorio, an institutional stock trader and analyst who loses over a million dollars in a penny stock. Wanting to understanding why, he researches this world and finds a web of short selling fraud, tax evasion, shell corporations, and money laundering. This was a very difficult story to write. The twists and turns are quite incredible. There's an entire market out there that everyone knows is suffused with corruption, but they have no idea about the extent of it. And though DiIorio's claims can be hyperbolic and should be judged on their own terms, the numbers he provided all check out. When he wrote Flash Boys, Michael Lewis said 'the market is rigged.' He didn't even know the half of it. Please give The Penny Stock Chronicles a read."

Those Biblical cities that God kept smiting? They all did what Bill Moyers is describing in "We, the People Versus We, the Wealthy: How did the United States become the land of the unequal - and how do we find our way back? [...] ? The Greek historian Plutarch is said to have warned that 'an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of a Republic.' Yet as the Washington Post pointed out recently, income inequality may be higher at this moment than at any time in the American past. When I was a young man in Washington in the 1960s, most of the country's growth accrued to the bottom 90% of households. From the end of World War II until the early 1970s, in fact, income grew at a slightly faster rate at the bottom and middle of American society than at the top. In 2009, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez explored decades of tax data and found that from 1950 through 1980 the average income of the bottom 90% of Americans had grown, from $17,719 to $30,941. That represented a 75% increase in 2008 dollars."

Commenter CMike informs us that Matt Stoller says that "This is better policy analysis than 99% of news media." It's "The Conspiracy Behind Your Glasses by comedian Adam Conover.
* And while we're at it, Adam ruins Security Theater, too, with a surprise appearance from our pal Bruce.

"'Be Afraid': Largest Corporations Wealthier Than Most Countries: The power of corporations is so great within our society that they have undermined the idea that there is any other way to run society."

Chris Hedges on "The Courtiers and the Tyrants [...] The corporate elites failed to grasp that a functioning liberal class is the mechanism that permits a capitalist democracy to adjust itself to stave off unrest and revolt. They decided, not unlike other doomed elites of history, to eradicate the liberal establishment after they had eradicated the radical movements that created the political pressure for advancements such as the eight-hour workday and Social Security. [...] 'There hasn't been a single major piece of legislation advancing the health, safety and economic rights of the American people since 1974, arguably since 1976.'"

Bitter truth from The Onion: "Man Just Waiting Tables Until Fundamental Structure Of U.S. Economy Changes."

"How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat" - It still irritates me that I continue to run into people who think using butter and cream is more fattening and generally harmful to health than cereals packed with sugars - by which I don't just mean your Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, but Quaker Oats.

Jeffrey Sterling in The Intercept, "I Was a CIA Whistleblower. Now I'm a Black Inmate. Here's How I See American Racism.: Call me naive, call me a dreamer, and I'll wear those monikers proudly because I still believe, even from prison, in this country and what it is supposed to stand for. Has that been my personal experience and what I've been seeing from prison? No. As merely one example, during my time in the CIA it became clear, in the organization's words and actions toward me, that they saw me not as an American who wanted to serve his country but as 'a big black guy.' But my dreams of America are far more enduring than a prison TV room mentality. There is a black America, there is a white America, there are many Americas. The greatness and promise of this country lies in equality reinforced by our differences rather than defined by them. My America is not a prison. For now, I'm confined to the black TV room at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado. When I am free, I don't want to feel that I'm merely going from one prison to another."

"Bernie backer wins special Democratic primary: After losing the Democratic primary in Missouri's 78th District, Bruce Franks has won in a landslide after challenging the validity of the first primary. Franks won with more than 75 percent of the vote on Friday, a much greater margin than the 55 absentee votes he lost by in August. State Representative Penny Hubbard won that contest, however Franks filed suit, with the courts ruling that the city's board of elections mishandled at least 142 in-person absentee ballots. Franks will almost certainly be on his was to Missouri's state house, as the district leans heavily Democratic."
* I read this story, "Challengers beat two state representatives, primary winners in line for open seats", but I still can't tell whether the results were good or bad. They say the winners won "from the left", but there's nothing in there about what that means, and I'm not inspired to do the research to find out.

"Why the Deeply Held Ideas of the Nation's Most Elite Economists Were Direct Causes of Extreme Inequality [...] This is dismaying but it is important to understand that a fundamental mainstream idea was behind it. Generally, the reaction of the economic mainstream to the inflationary turmoil of the 1970s was to retreat to an ideological interpretation of their fundamental ideas - a doctrinaire reinforcement of laissez-faire economics. As Americans turned away from government, so did the economics profession. In regard to the financial markets, it boiled down to this. Free markets without government interference work too well to become dangerously unstable; therefore, no need to account for how a credit crisis might affect the real economy. It would correct itself too quickly to do damage."

Comedy from DNC lawyers when they file to dismiss the lawsuit against them from Sanders backers. "The DNC attorneys also get a bit creative in their effort to get this lawsuit thrown out. They claim that all of the named plaintiffs already knew that the DNC was biased when they donated - so therefore how could they have been duped if they knew? We are not joking, that was one of their actual claims in the motion to dismiss."

"What would Mother Jones do? Probably not bash idealistic young leftists: The left-of-center Mother Jones mag inexplicably is targeting the young people behind Bernie Sanders's movement." But perhaps MoJo is just doing what it's spent the last year-and-a-bit doing, which is promoting Clintonite memes, and Clinton's camp is doing what it always does, which is try to alienate real liberal progressives.

AWARE's video, "LGBTQ Rights Are Human Rights"

Ted Rall cartoon: The Clinton Campaign

I really don't know if it will get out the vote, but it was interesting to see all these people Joss Whedon collected together telling you to register to vote.

Refugee Crisis: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

"To beat airport security lines, famous British actor Michael Caine has changed his name to Michael Caine."

The US ambassador to Denmark is a rock star.

RIP: Dave Kyle (1919-2016), former Worldcon chair, founder of Gnome Press, probably the first SMOF, and revered long-time fan. He was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1983 Worldcon, where I ran fan programming, which was a bit of a problems since I simply did not know him well enough to figure out what would be the most appropriate sort of panels to build around him. I asked everyone I knew, including the committee members who'd chosen him as FGoH, and no one had any suggestions. So finally I told him if he had any ideas of what he would do with them, I could offer him six hours of programming time. He had ideas and, if I recall correctly, used all six hours. It seemed to go over really well.

"Stephen King Compares Donald Trump To Cthulhu; Cthulhu Issues Angry Denial: The Great Old One objects to being compared to the GOP presidential candidate."

"Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr were adorable at Eight Days a Week premiere."

NYT Corrections: "A picture caption on Sept. 4 with an article about Boulder, Colo., described a house in the city incorrectly. The house was the setting of the Mork and Mindy TV show, not the residence of the poet Allen Ginsberg."

This ad for Virgin TV entertained me.

A little late to the party, Avedon discovers Nolan Strong and the Diablos, a Detroit group with a really great tenor - and Doo-Wops. Here they are doing "Mind Over Matter".

From Pathé News, "The Beatles Come To Town - Two Stories - Technicolor & Techniscope (1963)" Gary Farber points out that it's "terrific early concert footage with complete songs; it's the first known color film to include sound of the band performing."


  1. "The Evidence Farm". How I singlehandedly proved evidence was planted at the site of the murder of Keith Scott.

  2. Awesome photo. Where was it taken?

    Ten Bears

    1. I took that in the White Mountains, above (east) of Bishop, California, in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.

    2. I thought it might be. I may well have lain hands on that tree.

      The Pine Beetles have moved to that elevation.

      Ten Bears

    3. Was there a couple of year ago. A pre-dawn hike through October (fallen) snow. Absolutely magical sunrise.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Going into the debate Nate Silver says [LINK]:

      [QUOTE] 5. Which states shape up as most important?

      There’s not any one key state, which is part of the reason the election remains uncertain — and exciting. Instead, the various swing states are currently lined up on either side of a gap, with Clinton leading in states representing 272 electoral votes and Trump ahead in states totalling 266 electoral votes.

      If any of the states just to Clinton’s side of the gap slips toward Trump — Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Michigan are the most plausible candidates — he’ll pull ahead in the Electoral College. But conversely, Trump leads by less than 1 percentage point in Florida and by barely more than that in North Carolina and if either of those were to fall to Clinton, his electoral math would become very difficult. The same is theoretically true for Ohio, although Trump’s lead has been more consistent there. [END QUOTE]

      "Exciting" -that's one way to look at it I guess.

    2. One line from the debate reminded me of a woman who, in her moral sentiments, was ahead of her time- but not by much. [LINK]

    3. Yes, I thought of Leona, too - pity Clinton didn't say, "Just for the little people, eh?"

    4. Granted it'll just end up in your It's a feature not a bug folder but do take a moment to consider the "12%[!] of the adult male civilian non-institutional population (that is, men not in jail) in the U.S." stat presented here [LINK]. (And in case you come away from that article encouraged by its report about recent changes in the political winds [LINK].)

      h/t [LINK]

  4. Until the Democrats start really doing that, yes, I'm ragging on them.

    Completely agreed. Here's something from DownWithTyranny (Gaius Publius) that is very revealing:

    The DSCC (and Alaska's grotesquely corrupt Democratic Party establishment) are worried that-- with teabagger and Trumpist Joe Miller in the race as a Libertarian and tearing Murkowski apart from the right-- Metcalfe could actually win. ... That's how Schumer's reptilian mind works. So he's encouraging a proven corruptionist buddy of his, Mark Begich, to mount a last minute write-in campaign to draw votes away from Metcalfe and throw the election to Murkowski!

  5. I've forgotten what I was going to say. Sorry!

    (Because this site refused to believe I was signed in already. There are two other sites which not only refused to accept that I was signed in, they refused to accept my other two commenting IDs. Probably not your fault.)