27 October 2016

Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain

"Operation Cross Country X: Everything You Need to Know About the FBI's Annual 'Underage Human Trafficking' Sting In One Chart" - Hundreds of law enforcement agencies nationwide get together to bust mostly adult prostitutes and the johns.

"How Comcast Muscled Its Way out of Negative Political Ads: There are few things people agree on in this world more readily than their abhorrence of Comcast. Thanks to its price gouging and infamous customer service, the odious telecom monopoly was named Consumerist's "Worst Company in America" in both 2010 and 2014. The company has even been criticized for violating free-speech provisions via throttling - the intentional slowing of internet service to certain websites. Now, Comcast is under fire for messing with political advertisements in Oregon."

"We Never Voted for Corporate Rule: The $66 billion sale of Monsanto is yet another reminder of how corporations have colonized the world and subverted democracy. To regain our future, we must claim our right to popular sovereignty."

Matt Stoller in The Atlantic, "How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul: In the 1970s, a new wave of post-Watergate liberals stopped fighting monopoly power. The result is an increasingly dangerous political system."
* Also on the subject of monopoly power (and how Robert Bork - yes, that Bork - started the ball rolling), Sam Seder interviewed Barry Lynn on how it directly threatens democracy and what we can do about it.
* "What Voters Need to Know About Wall Street and Economic Policy: Mike Konczal, a financial-engineer-turned-popular-progressive-blogger, offers his views on the 2008 financial meltdown and the ways in which it changed both political parties."

Dday is worried that the Clinton campaign has already chosen it's key staffers and we need to push hard to make sure they are to our liking. I don't actually consider it that surprising that they've already got their players lined up, but push-back is certainly something people should be ready to do.

"Major New Court Ruling Says 'Even The President' Can't Declare Torture Lawful: "In a robust ruling in favor of Abu Ghraib detainees, an appellate court ruled Friday that torture is such a clear violation of the law that it is 'beyond the power of even the president to declare such conduct lawful.' The ruling from a unanimous panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates a lawsuit against a military contractor for its role in the torture of four men at the notorious prison in Iraq. Last June, a district court ruled that a 'cloud of ambiguity' surrounds the definition of torture, and that despite anti-torture laws, the decision to torture was a 'political question' that could not be judged by courts. That ruling echoed the widely discredited legal theories of the Bush administration, which argued that the war on terror gave the president the inherent authority to indefinitely detain and torture terror suspects, and conduct mass surveillance on Americans' international communications. But the Fourth Circuit soundly rejected that theory, saying that the United States has clear laws against torturing detainees that apply to the executive branch." About damned time.

"ACLU Wants 23 Secret Surveillance Laws Made Public: The ACLU has identified 23 legal opinions that contain new or significant interpretations of surveillance law - affecting the government's use of malware, its attempts to compel technology companies to circumvent encryption, and the CIA's bulk collection of financial records under the Patriot Act - all of which remain secret to this day, despite an ostensible push for greater transparency following Edward Snowden's disclosures."

"Leading US civil rights organizations call for decriminalization of personal drugs: American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch report finds last year someone was arrested every 25 seconds for low-level drug offenses in the US."

Over the last week there seems to have been a sudden upsurge in attacks on Assange, first with his internet access being shut off by the Ecuadorian embassy, then with that perennial favorite that gets dragged out when all else fails, the completely unsubstantiated and frankly unbelievable claim that Assange is a pedophile. Seriously.
* Ecuador Admits They Silenced Assange Because Clinton Leaks Were 'Interfering' With US Election
* Gee, I wonder why I don't cite Bipartisan Report a lot. "JUST IN: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange CAUGHT In Alleged Sex Chat With Child (REPORTS)
* "Background and Documents on Attempts to Frame Assange as a Pedophile and Russias spy"

David Dayen, "When You Find Out Your Neighbors Own Your House and They Try to Evict You" - What it means when the banks broke the cadastre - the chain of title.
* "Robert Scheer and David Dayen Uncover Untold Stories of the Mortgage Crisis [...] That's right. What they did on the back end, after they fell into foreclosure, and reading those foreclosure documents, and seeing the discrepancy, and seeing that they're being sued by people they've never heard of before, entities that they've never heard of before, and seeing that the alleged transfer to that entity was executed after they were put into foreclosure. In other words, by the evidence they were presented, U.S. Bank, in the case of Lisa Epstein, didn't own the loan at the time that they foreclosed on her, and that's just the beginning."

Dean Baker, "Volcker and Peterson: Ignoring the Lack of Demand Problem: Former Federal Reserve Board Chair Paul Volcker and private equity billionaire Peter Peterson had a NYT column this morning complaining that not enough attention is being paid to the national debt. The piece uses wrong-headed economics and xenophobia to try to scare readers into backing their austerity agenda. On the economic side, it implies that the prospect of a rising debt to GDP ratio implies an imminent crisis. [...] There are several points to be made here. First the ratio of debt service to GDP is currently just 0.8 percent. (This is net of interest payments rebated by the Federal Reserve Board.) This is near a post-war low. By comparison the ratio was over 3.0 percent in the early and mid-1990s. In other words, the reality is the exact opposite of what Volcker and Peterson claim, the burden of the debt on the economy is unusually low.
* David Dayen, "Debate Moderators Under the Spell of Deficit-Obsessed Billionaire Pete Peterson: THE COMMITTEE FOR a Responsible Federal Budget, an organization that is virtually unknown outside of Washington, was nonetheless cited in four different questions during this year's presidential and vice-presidential debates. Moderators Elaine Quijano and Chris Wallace, seemingly unable to string together an intelligent thought about domestic policy on their own, outsourced their questions to a cabal of self-styled serious grown-ups who believe that advocating for cutting Social Security and Medicare makes them look like paragons of virtue. But members of Washington's media elite are virtually the only people left in America still buying the well-funded nonsense CRFB and its Wall Street backers have been selling for decades. Every time their ideas get exposed to the public, they are rejected wholesale. While the D.C. cocktail-party circuit sees deficit scare tactics as steely-eyed wisdom, the national constituency for such monomania could fit in a mid-sized sedan." I didn't think writing about Pete Peterson's antics could be so funny.

By the way, Dean Baker has a book out, Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer. "There has been an enormous upward redistribution of income in the United States in the last four decades. In his most recent book, Baker shows that this upward redistribution was not the result of globalization and the natural workings of the market. Rather it was the result of conscious policies that were designed to put downward pressure on the wages of ordinary workers while protecting and enhancing the incomes of those at the top. Baker explains how rules on trade, patents, copyrights, corporate governance, and macroeconomic policy were rigged to make income flow upward."

Our friend Alice Marshall also has a book out, on How to stop voter suppression before it begins, called The Precinct Captain's Guide to Political Victory.

"Group accuses Mike Pence of voter suppression after state police raid registration program in Indiana: A progressive advocacy group is launching an advertising campaign accusing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who also is the Republican vice-presidential nominee, of allowing voter suppression after state police raided the offices of a voter registration program aimed at signing up African Americans."

"UN Expert Decries Global Assault on Freedom of Expression: The findings reveal 'how policies and laws against terrorism and other criminal activity risk unnecessarily undermining the media, critical voices, and activists'"

"Good News, Everybody! Politicians are celebrating a decline in the poverty rate. There's just one problem: it doesn't really measure poverty"

Thomas Frank, "Swat Team: The media's extermination of Bernie Sanders, and real reform"

"Donald Trump's 'Voter Fraud' Lies Are Part of the GOP's DNA

"We're Missing The Point About Trump's Charges Of Illegitimate Elections." I think most readers of The Sideshow are aware that if the Republicans are accusing the Democrats of doing something shady, that means the Republicans are doing it. But the Republicans also have a long history of declaring any Democratic presidential winner illegitimate. Strangely, the one president of our lifetimes who can genuinely be called "illegitimate", George W. Bush, is not given this label by the Democratic establishment. Funny how that happens.

NYT In Hindsight, Backers of Bernie Sanders Lament What Might Have Been

"An Unpredictable, High-Stakes Election [...] On election night, Wasserman Schultz was announced the winner by a commanding lead of 13.5%. However, we have examined statistical analysis of the race from four separate analysts and after detailed demographic research have concluded that there are red flags that deserve further investigation." This is Florida, where people have constantly complained that the machines flip their votes.

Glenn Greenwald, "Is Disclosure of Podesta's Emails a Step Too Far? A Conversation With Naomi Klein"

David Sirota, "Hillary Clinton And Wall Street: Financial Industry May Control Retirement Savings In A Clinton Administration: While Hillary Clinton has spent the presidential campaign saying as little as possible about her ties to Wall Street, the executive who some observers say could be her Treasury Secretary has been openly promoting a plan to give financial firms control of hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement savings. The executive is Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group."
* Yves Smith, "Blackstone's Tony James Touting What Looks Like Hillary's Scheme to Gut Social Security: In other words, this is the worst of all possible worlds. You have an individual account, but you are not permitted to invest in stocks and bonds; you may not be permitted even to choose your asset allocation. Worse, James' language suggests that the vehicles will be 'run by professional asset managers,' as in many or perhaps all will be actively managed, as opposed to indexes. As any student of John Bogle will tell you, paying for active managers is a waste of money, but Hillary wants to go that route on an industrial scale so as to further enrich grifters like Tony James (let us not forget that the Blackstone has paid fines in an SEC settlement for charging fees it was not authorized to take, which in most walks of life would be called embezzlement). And of course, private equity is on the list of preferred investment. And even better: James holds up private equity as a solution, just as it supposedly is for public pension funds, even as Blackstone was one of the first private equity firms to warn that returns in the future would be paltry. Indeed, the valuations of the private equity firms that are public say that they expect none of them will be earning any carry fees over the next few years. It's perverse to see James praise public pension funds for their high allocations to alternative investments even when he and his private equity colleagues snigger privately about their lack of sophistications."
* Sirota again, "Wall Street 2016: Firms Managing Pension Money Spend Millions To Support Governors, Despite Pay-To-Play Rule."

David Dayen, "Debate Moderators Under the Spell of Deficit-Obsessed Billionaire Pete Peterson: THE COMMITTEE FOR a Responsible Federal Budget, an organization that is virtually unknown outside of Washington, was nonetheless cited in four different questions during this year's presidential and vice-presidential debates. Moderators Elaine Quijano and Chris Wallace, seemingly unable to string together an intelligent thought about domestic policy on their own, outsourced their questions to a cabal of self-styled serious grown-ups who believe that advocating for cutting Social Security and Medicare makes them look like paragons of virtue. But members of Washington's media elite are virtually the only people left in America still buying the well-funded nonsense CRFB and its Wall Street backers have been selling for decades. Every time their ideas get exposed to the public, they are rejected wholesale. While the D.C. cocktail-party circuit sees deficit scare tactics as steely-eyed wisdom, the national constituency for such monomania could fit in a mid-sized sedan." I didn't think writing about Pete Peterson's antics could be so funny.

"Trump TV? CNN's Jeff Zucker explains how he became Donald's useful idiot: Until very recently, it seemed self-evident that Donald Trump was the biggest raging moron in American public life. But that was before CNN president Jeff Zucker's star turn before the guardians of establishment wisdom at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government."

Hélène Barthélemy in The Nation, "The Agency Designed to Protect Civilians From the Police Actually Protects Police From Civilians: The CCRB, it seems, was an agency doomed to uselessness from the start. On September 16, 1992, 10,000 protesters descended on City Hall. They blocked traffic for the better part of an hour, climbing over cars, buses, and police barricades. Some were violent and inebriated, and a few physically assaulted members of the press, as others hurled racist epithets at New York's first African-American mayor, David Dinkins. They eventually burst through barricades into the City Hall parking lot, much to the indifference of the 300 uniformed police officers there to oversee the demonstration. The protesters were off-duty cops. sent in by police unions and egged on by would-be mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, they were indignant over that day's heated hearing on a bill supported by Mayor Dinkins. The bill was designed to establish an independent civilian agency providing oversight of police, at a time not too different from today, when unrelenting police brutality was the subject of both weekly headlines and unyielding protests. The agency was pushed for by a 'rainbow coalition' of community groups, civil-liberties agencies, and City Council representatives."

James O'Keefe hits paydirt. They got a video of a Democrat talking about sending people to Trump rallies to start fights. But it means some people are starting to talk about O'Keefe like he's...legitimate.
* And just in time, because some people are also saying that "Trump Could Be Quietly Building a Media Empire," and O'Keefe is expected to have a place in it.

"Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer Says Top Priority for Next Year Is Giant Corporate Tax Cut: New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, likely to be majority leader next year if Democrats take back the Senate, told CNBC Tuesday that one of his top two 2017 priorities would be an enormous corporate tax cut."

Best line of the general election season so far comes from Richard J. Eskow: "They're Dorian Gray, and Trump is their picture."

"What Richard Branson Understands About Trump That Half The Punditocracy Doesn't [...] For more than a year, pundits have treated Trump's occasional populist talk as sincere. It never was. It was about getting back at people. That's Trump's prime motivation in life."

"A Stroll Down Memory Lane: The Clintons' Passionate Friendship with Alvaro Uribe, man who scuttled Colombia's peace deal"

"Physician Revives a Dying Art: The Physical"

Not much has changed since 2007, when this came out: "Special Report: Democratic House Officials Recruited Wealthy Conservatives: This letter sent from then DCCC Head Rahm Emanuel to Democratic House hopeful Jan Schneider underscores a DCCC policy of remaining "neutral" in primary races. Schneider soon came to doubt the letter's sincerity."

RIP: "Phil Chess, the Polish immigrant who brought blues to the world: The Chess Records co-founder was first inspired by music he heard through the walls of a Baptist church, and went on to make an indelible mark on music history."
* Tom Hayden, Civil Rights and Antiwar Activist Turned Lawmaker, Dies at 76, of complications after a stroke. A long time ago, I met Tom and his wife of the time, Jane Fonda, in a local church. It was Jane I ended up arguing with, so I can't say much about Tom, although I had seen him at events where SDS made presentations. In recent years, he has been most notable for making silly endorsements of Democratic primary candidates Senator Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton, but in his younger years, he made his mark with The Port Huron Statement, a document that was remarkable in its time, and perhaps today as well.
* Bobby Vee: 1960s pop singer dies aged 73. He did two of my favorites, "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" and "Take Good Care of My Baby".
* Sherri S. Tepper, 87. John Scalzi, said: "This is genuinely upsetting news for me: Locus is reporting the death of Sheri S. Tepper, who wrote the Hugo-nominated novel Grass among many others, and who was given a lifetime achievement award by the World Fantasy Convention just last year. Tepper was in her late 80s, and had an accomplished life outside of her considerable writing career, including being an executive director of the Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood in Colorado, so one can't precisely say this is an unexpected development. But she was one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy writers, and an influence on my thinking about SF/F writing, so to have her gone on is still a deeply depressing thing." Me, I loved her books. Here's the obit at Tor.com.
* "Steve Dillon: Judge Dredd, Preacher and Punisher comic artist dies" - he was 54.
* "RIP Jack Chick, father of the Satanic Panic." Cory Doctorow said, "The paranoid, hateful minicomics pioneer is now dead. No one will say how he came to be dead." Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian, posted a cartoon in his honor that you can print out and leave around for people to find, just like the real thing (only different).

Winners of the 2016 RMet-RPS Weather Photographer of the Year Contest Announced

This one always seemed appropriate for Halloween to me: "St. James Infirmary", with Betty Boop.

19 October 2016

Do you want to know a secret?

"Code of Silence: Two Chicago police officers uncovered a massive criminal enterprise within the department. Then they were hung out to dry." - Yes, that's right, a criminal gang operating inside the Chicago police. "The common understanding of the code of silence is that it is a peer-to-peer phenomenon - I've got your back, you've got mine - within the rank and file. Senior officials are implicated to the extent they do not take affirmative steps to discourage operation of the code. The thesis of the Spalding case, by contrast, is that high-ranking officials ordered retaliation against the officers for violating the code."
* "Hundreds of police departments in Texas, California broke laws on reporting police shootings, study finds. HOUSTON -| Hundreds of police departments in Texas and California failed to report officer-involved shooting deaths as required by law in the past decade, a recent study found. Research by Texas State University in San Marcos found registries created by the two states to report all in-custody deaths did not list about 220 use-of-force fatalities in Texas and 440 in California from 2005-2015, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday. " I don't even blink when I see stories like this anymore. Of course they did.

"Elizabeth Warren Wants President Obama to Fire His SEC Chair: In an extraordinary letter, Warren highlighted several critical shortcomings at the Wall Street oversight agency. For many months, Senator Elizabeth Warren has been castigating Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White during hearings, media appearances, and in letters to the agency. Friday morning, Warren finally asked President Obama to replace her. In a strongly worded letter to the White House, Warren outlined her principal objections to White's tenure and what she described as 'brazen conduct': namely, White's refusal to develop an SEC rule that would force publicly traded companies to disclose political donations, along with White's failure to fully implement Dodd-Frank financial reforms. [...] Moreover, Warren is firing yet another warning shot to the next president about the role Warren expects to play. While Obama is unlikely to demote his own selection for chair, Hillary Clinton could plausibly do so without appearing to do an about-face. "

"A New Spy Scandal Exposes the Corruption of Privatized Intelligence: 'This is corporate malfeasance and a direct threat to national security.'"

"Legalizing Cannabis: Prison Food Provider Donates To Keep Marijuana Illegal In Arizona: A deep-pocketed coalition is spending big to keep marijuana illegal in Arizona. Drug companies, the Chamber of Commerce, and the alcohol industry, have together poured millions of dollars into the campaign to defeat Proposition 205, a ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for those over 21. And as opinion polls show a tight race, another industry entered the fray: prison food providers."

"RT: NatWest 'freezes Russian channel's UK bank accounts': NatWest bank has frozen the accounts of Russia's state-run broadcaster RT, its editor-in-chief says. Margarita Simonyan tweeted: "They've closed our accounts in Britain. All our accounts. 'The decision is not subject to review.' Praise be to freedom of speech!" RT says the bank gave no explanation for its decision."

Jon Schwarz, "D.C. Hivemind Mulls How Clinton Can Pass Huge Corporate Tax Cut: Treating the whole voting thing as a formality, serious political players are now pondering how exactly President Hillary Clinton can pass what Sen. Elizabeth Warren has called 'a giant wet kiss for tax dodgers.' This discussion isn't happening on television, where normal people would hear about it. Or on Reddit, where people would freak out about it. To the degree it's taking place in public at all, it surfaces in elite publications, where only elites are paying attention. For instance, Peter Orszag, a top Obama economic official before he left to cash in with Citigroup, just wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times on how to make the wet kiss happen."

The Nation, "Amy Goodman Is Facing Prison for Reporting on the Dakota Access Pipeline. That Should Scare Us All. e charges against Goodman are a clear attack on journalism and freedom of the press. [...] ? Goodman's report created a rare crack in the consensus of silence. And, as Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi writes, the outrage it generated may well have influenced the Obama administration's decision to halt work on the pipeline several days later. This was journalism that mattered. Yet, on September 8, Goodman received the news that Morton County, North Dakota, had issued a warrant for her arrest. The charge: riot, a misdemeanor punishable by jail time and a fine. (It should be noted that the original charge leveled against Goodman was not riot but criminal trespass, also a misdemeanor. However, just days before Goodman was set to appear in court, the prosecutor, Ladd Erickson, switched up the charges because, he admitted in an email to Goodman's lawyer, Tom Dickson, there were 'legal issues with proving the notice of trespassing requirements in the statute.') When asked to explain the grounds for arresting a working journalist, Erickson told the Grand Forks Herald that he did not, in fact, consider Goodman a journalist."
* Matt Taibbi, "Journalist Amy Goodman Shouldn't Be Arrested for Covering Dakota Pipeline Story: [...] But a prosecutor who arrests a reporter because he doesn't think she's "balanced" enough is basically telling future reporters what needs to be in their stories to avoid arrest. This is totally improper and un-American. We have enough meddling editors in this country without also recruiting government officials to the job. "
* "Documentary Filmmaker Faces Up to 45 Years in Prison for Covering Pipeline Protest." Edward Snowden tweeted this story, saying, "This reporter is being prosecuted for covering the North Dakota oil protests. For reference, I face a mere 30 years."
* Luckily... "Judge Rejects "Riot" Charges Against Amy Goodman in North Dakota."

It's not just black Kenyan Muslim presidents: "McCain: GOPers Will Unite To Block 'Any' Clinton SCOTUS Nominee." She's hardly nearing the end of her term, either. They can do this without ever going on the record, simply by continuing not to bring votes on nominees to the floor. Then you can never say, "He voted against Garland." Which is protection for office-holders on both sides who don't want to let anyone know where they really stand. As in, "He voted against Roberts," when he first made sure there was no filibuster of a nomination he knew would pass if it got to the floor, versus, "He never voted for Garland."

"Excerpts of Hillary Clinton's Paid Speeches to Goldman Sachs Finally Leaked - And if you expected her to sound more in tune with Wall Street than with all those kids who live in their parents' basements (do they? Maybe in some households, but my parents didn't make me vacate my room on graduation), well, you won't be surprised. One gets the impression that, while she thinks she can understand why those kids are so upset, she doesn't actually concur with their entirely sane recognition that it doesn't have to be this way - I mean, gosh, it's too bad for them, but it's just the way it is.
* David Sirota, "Hillary Clinton, In Paid Speeches To Wall Street, Promoted Commission That Pushed Social Security Cuts [...] In the email published by Wikileaks, Clinton tells a real estate industry trade association that she believes that as a public official, 'You need both a public and a private position' on major issues. Clinton promised on the campaign trail that she would oppose the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership, and that she 'will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages.' But in the email released by Wikileaks, she is shown telling a Brazilian bank that, 'My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.' She also is quoted saying: 'We have to resist protectionism, other kinds of barriers to market access and to trade and I would like to see this get much more attention and be not just a policy for a year under president X or president Y but a consistent one.' Clinton on the campaign trail declared, 'I won't cut Social Security.' Yet in the email's excerpts of her Morgan Stanley speech, she lauded a presidential commission that proposed changes that would slash Social Security benefits, according to experts. The email shows Clinton specifically telling Morgan Stanley that the Simpson-Bowles commission 'put forth the right framework' for dealing with fiscal challenges. She also said 'the Simpson-Bowles framework and the big elements of it were right.' As the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported in 2011, that commission proposed a plan to 'cut benefits for the vast majority of Social Security recipients, weaken the link between a recipient's benefits and past earnings (which could undermine public support for the program), and, despite the claims of the co-chairs, fail to protect most low-income workers from benefit cuts.'"
* David Dayen, "Behind Closed Doors, Hillary Clinton Sympathized With Goldman Sachs Over Financial Reform [...] Far from chiding Goldman Sachs for obstructing Democratic proposals for financial reform, Clinton appeared to sympathize with the giant investment bank. At a Goldman Sachs Alternative Investments Symposium in October 2013, Clinton almost apologized for the Dodd-Frank reform bill, explaining that it had to pass 'for political reasons,' because 'if you were an elected member of Congress and people in your constituency were losing jobs and shutting businesses and everybody in the press is saying it's all the fault of Wall Street, you can't sit idly by and do nothing.'"
* "New Email Leak Reveals Clinton Campaign's Cozy Press Relationship" - Glenn says this is just a glimpse into how political campaigns operate rather than some surprising exposé of nefarious doings, but considering the way the narrative became filled with spurious smears of Sanders and his supporters that came straight from the Clinton campaign, it's that much more of a bitter reminder that they pretty much kept the establishment press thoroughly in the bag for The One True Candidate all along.

People who get all their information from Clinton campaign emails keep insisting that the restricted number of debates DWS set up were not evidence that the DNC was working to aid Clinton's campaign and rig the primaries against Sanders, but the email that says it all right up front makes it clear: "Through internal discussions, we concluded that it was in our interest to: 1) limit the number of debates (and the number in each state); 2) start the debates as late as possible; 3) keep debates out of the busy window between February 1 and February 27, 2016 (Iowa to South Carolina); 4) create a schedule that would allow the later debates to be cancelled if the race is for practical purposes over; 5) encourage an emphasis on local issues and local media participants in the debate formats; and 6) ensure a format that provides equal time for all candidates and does not give the moderator any discretion to focus on one candidate."

Nice precis in "Roaming Charges: a Wikileak is a Terrible Thing to Waste [...] The three prevailing obsessions of the Podesta emails: raising money, containing the contamination of the Clinton Foundation and screwing Bernie Sanders. There's barely any hint of anxiety over Trump. In fact, they relish his every false move, almost as if each faltering step had been pre-visualized, if not orchestrated. If possible, the press corps comes off worse than Team Clinton. Almost every reporter is revealed as pliable, servile and so lazy that they basically beg the Clinton PR shop to write their stories for them. The press has reiterated this obsequiousness over the course of the last seven days with what can only be described as an orgy of coverage of the Trump sex tapes and assorted scandals. By all accounts, the Trump campaign is dead and has been for weeks. The 24/7 obsession now amounts to a kind of political corpse abuse. Forsaken in this feeding frenzy has been any serious attention at all to the Wikileaks email dump, except to echo Clinton camp assertions that they were the victims of a Russian plot to tilt the election to Trump. If so, the Russians have proved even more incompetent than we thought them to be." (And comments on other news, as well.)

"Wikileaks: Letter to Tulsi Gabbard in February - 'Hillary will be our party's nominee'." This is, you understand, before anyone had voted yet - it was foreordained that Clinton would be the nominee, and Gabbard wanted someone else, so the party was refusing to help her in her own election bid. Nasty stuff.

Despite the fact that Clinton herself confirmed the authenticity of the leaked emails when she explained their contents in response to questions at the second debate between Clinton and Trump, David Brock's Daily News Bin has been pushing back with fanciful stories about how the emails are fake and come from the Russians. Then the government spook agencies got into the act, which of course led to Marcy Wheeler unpacking the language to work out what it means, and what it means is that they still have no way whatsoever to tie these particular leaks to actual Russian hackers. Yes, the Russians have been hacking all over the place, but no, there's no evidence that the material posted at DCLeaks and WikiLeaks came from the Russians, let alone the fanciful idea that all hacking and leaking could only have occurred at the command of Putin.

A connected meme is that it's terrible for the Russians to be trying to influence or otherwise interfere with American elections. Even if we forget that politicians taking campaign donations from foreign entities is exactly that and goes on constantly - and illegally - it might be a good idea to recall The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere.

Another talking point meant to undermine WikiLeaks is the question of why Assange isn't releasing hacks of the RNC and Donald Trump. We know that Assange is pissed off with Clinton, who has been a cheerleader for the notion that Assange should be shut up permanently, preferably in a deep, dark hole, but WikiLeaks doesn't commission leaks, it just receives them. They're not responsible for the fact that no one has sent them data about Trump or the GOP. But isn't it a funny question? This blog has about 15 years worth of scandals by Republicans that involve quite serious criminal as well as immoral activity, and the Democratic Party, the DoJ, the White House, and law enforcement in general, not to mention the TV talking heads, all seem to be completely uninterested. So what are these hacks supposed to reveal? Are they going to find out Trump is a crass, racist, sexist, tax-evading right-wing loon? Yeah, that'll surprise people!

Understand, there is no evidence that the Russians are behind the emails, but Clinton campers really urgently want you to think so. For some reason they believe it invalidates the contents, but it is also part of the rhetoric that the neocon warriors have been floating against Russia in their current revival of red-baiting. Yeah, the Russians are coming.

Of course, the whole Russian thing, aside from being a modern commies-under-the-bed propaganda campaign, is really just about distracting from the contents of the emails. By which I do not mean mere confirmation of the illicit relationship between the Clinton campaign in the primaries and the DNC itself, but things like "Clinton Email Shows US Sought Syria Regime Change for Israel's Sake ."

Video: Glenn Greenwald on Reliable Sources about WikiLeaks and media

Democratic partisans think they're seeing the GOP falling apart. It may be fun to think so, but let Ian Welsh spell it out for you. "The Republican Party Is Not 'Broken': There are a great number of stories about how Trump is 'destroying' the Republican party.
That Trump is most likely to lose the Presidency badly does not make the Republican party broken. There is some down-ballot effect, but:
* Republicans will certainly hold the House;
* Republicans will still control majority of State Governorships; and,
* They might lose the Senate but if they do it will be barely.
Does that sound like a broken party? No, it sounds like a largely ordinary election result: in fact, in 2008, the Republicans did far worse.
There will be blow-on effects from the Trump candidacy, but they will no more 'destroy' the Republican Party than the Tea Party did.

I can't help wondering if Joe is feigning surprise in this segment where he appears to be learning for the first time that the government can't negotiate drug prices. I wonder this, because it was big news at the time and we were all bitching about it and startled that the Republicans finally gave in and voted for it. I say "gave in" because even though, yes, some of them were happy to do Big Pharma's bidding, a lot of them balked and they had to hold voting up late into the night and blackmail their own members into voting for it. I realize he was always a Republican operative, in or out of Congress, but he didn't notice? (Thanks to CMike for supplying better links than the one I was going to use, complete with transcriptions.)

This is a very good interview of Geoffrey Nunberg by Angie Coiro about the language that's being used in this election.

Chris Hedges and David Cay Johnston on a tax system rigged for the rich

From bmaz, "Trump Is Who He's Always Been, And Trump Is the Epitome of the GOP; They Have To Own Him." And they're having a hard time with it. A variety of Bushes and the McCains have already declared they won't vote for him, while Paul Ryan and others are steadfastly biting their lips together. Many establishment Republicans are saying they'll vote for Clinton, others are saying they simply won't vote for president (or at all!). Officially, the Republican Party is still "100% behind Trump", but the religious right is split between being outraged at how this man should never be president and believing that Trump's vulgar impropriety, misogyny and licentiousness were all part of God's plan to propel him to the White House.

From Facebook, Matt Stoller defines neoliberalism: "Our current governing apparatus is neoliberal. What does that actually mean? What is neoliberalism? Neoliberalism is a kind of statecraft. It means organizing state policies by making them appear as if they are the consequences of depoliticized financial markets. It involves moving power from public institutions to private institutions, and allowing governance to happen through concentrated financial power. Actual open markets for goods and services tend to disappear in neoliberal societies. Financial markets flourish, real markets morph into mass distribution middlemen like Walmart or Amazon. This definition is my paraphrase of Greta Krippner's "Capitalizing on Crisis", a pretty good book about what happened from the 1960s to the 1980s in terms of financial politics. Her thesis is that the liberal democratic system was dismantled because it was too explicit about who was making choices. People would get mad at politicians when they didn't have, say, mortgage credit, or when the price of milk went up too high. The answer came to be neoliberalism, or creating a veil of financial markets to make all those decisions seem apolitical. Milk too expensive? Ah, those darn markets. Sure you can get mortgage credit, but market is going to charge you 19%. Can't afford that? Oh those darn financial markets. Neoliberalism is not faith in free markets. Neoliberalism is not free market capitalism. Neoliberalism is a specific form of statecraft that uses financial markets as a veil to disguise governing policies."

John Pilger isn't so sure the CW is correct. He says Hillary Clinton is more dangerous than Donald Trump. "A mini nuclear bomb is planned. It is known as the B61 Model 12. There has never been anything like it. General James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said, 'Going smaller [makes using this nuclear] weapon more thinkable.' In the last eighteen months, the greatest build-up of military forces since World War Two - led by the United States - is taking place along Russia's western frontier. Not since Hitler invaded the Soviet Union have foreign troops presented such a demonstrable threat to Russia. Ukraine - once part of the Soviet Union - has become a CIA theme park. Having orchestrated a coup in Kiev, Washington effectively controls a regime that is next door and hostile to Russia: a regime rotten with Nazis, literally. Prominent parliamentary figures in Ukraine are the political descendants of the notorious OUN and UPA fascists. They openly praise Hitler and call for the persecution and expulsion of the Russian speaking minority. This is seldom news in the West, or it is inverted to suppress the truth. In Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - next door to Russia - the US military is deploying combat troops, tanks, heavy weapons. This extreme provocation of the world's second nuclear power is met with silence in the West." And then there's China, and no sign from Clinton that she is the least bit worried by these developments. Indeed, quite the reverse.

Chris Hedges, "Donald Trump: The Dress Rehearsal for Fascism [...] The political elites in Yugoslavia at first thought the nationalist cranks and lunatics, who amassed enough support to be given secondary positions of power, could be contained. This mistake was as misguided as Franz von Papen's assurances that when the uncouth Austrian Adolf Hitler was appointed the German chancellor in January 1933 the Nazi leader would be easily manipulated. Any system of prolonged political paralysis and failed liberalism vomits up monsters. And the longer we remain in a state of political paralysis - especially as we stumble toward another financial collapse - the more certain it becomes that these monsters will take power."

"House of Lords attacks the government over library closures: John Bird painted a grim picture of the UK with a reduced library service, warning the House of Lords on Thursday that cuts would result in 'disorder, crime, problems for schools and the fact that children will not be able to get a job because they will not have the skills and abilities'."

Richard J. Eskow, "'Two Million Felonies': Will The Wells Fargo Scandal Finally Change Wall Street?" I don't see why, since HSBC got away with everything.

Fred on Everything, "An Obsolescent Military: Bombing Everything, Gaining Nothing: What, precisely, is the US military for, and what, precisely, can it do? In practical terms, how powerful is it? On paper, it is formidable, huge, with carrier battle groups, advanced technology, remarkable submarines, satellites, and so on. What does this translate to?"

"2016 Nobel Prize In Literature Awarded To Bob Dylan: STOCKHOLM, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his influential songs from the 1960s onwards, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature in a surprise decision that made him the only singer-songwriter to win the award. The 75-year-old Dylan - who won the prize for 'having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition' - now finds himself in the company of Winston Churchill, Thomas Mann and Rudyard Kipling as Nobel laureates. The announcement was met with gasps in Stockholm's stately Royal Academy hall, followed - unusually - by some laughter."

"The Onion Is Withholding Our Endorsement For President Until Both Candidates Respond To Our Questionnaire "

Our friend Mark of Adult Video News was amused to see The New York Times, at long last, breaking their style code to accurately report a story. They got complaints.

In The New Yorker, a long profile, "Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker: At eighty-two, the troubadour has another album coming. Like him, it is obsessed with mortality, God-infused, and funny." I was more affected then I expected to be over the news therein that Marianne had died last summer - which I had missed at the time - with a friend holding her hand and humming "Bird on the Wire". So long, Marianne. Nice discussion with Dylan of Cohen's work, too.

"Watching This Rare Color Film Of London In 1927 Makes You Feel Like You're There."

"This Mosque Might Look Ordinary From Outside, But It Will Make Your Jaw Drop Once You Enter It."

Something about these color-coordinated dancing Sikhs makes me smile.

Production trailer for Fury in My Soul: The Artistry of Laura Nyro

I loved the Amazon blurb for Is There Life Outside The Box?: An Actor Despairs by Peter Davidson, the Fifth Doctor. Not sure if he wrote it or it's just Tennant's foreword or something else, but it was fun to read.

Mr. Sideshow enjoyed this Halloween costume he saw on the front page of the Evening Standard.

Video: 1984 Nebula Awards Full

"Larry Kane: The reluctant Beatles fan. [...] Kane tried to persuade his bosses to send instead one of the DJs already into the band. 'There were all the Cuban refugees in Miami. There was war in Vietnam escalating and racial revolution in America - why would we bother about an English band who would doubtless disappear in a few months?' But in December 1964 Kane found himself at the first venue on the tour - the Cow Palace in Daly City, California."

We all live in a Lego submarine.

Big Bang Theory Legos

Max Fleischer nominates Betty Boop for President.

The Beatles: On Air -- Live at the BBC

09 October 2016

You've got to pick up every stitch

Transcripts of the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Dainty Donnie Trump. A big topic of the Twittosphere: Why was Trump sniffing so much?

There was a vice presidential debate that I could not bring myself to watch, but as I understand it, two white bread guys flapped at each other. I didn't expect Kaine to tell much truth and I didn't expect Pence to do anything but lie, and from all reports, that's mostly what happened. Ryan Grim and Sam Seder did what might be a useful debate recap that was probably smarter than most of the articles I read about, though. Short version: Kaine's job was to get a few lines out there uninterrupted that could be used in video ads later, and to keep Pence from doing the same. I guess he did that.

"'So what?': In 1984, Bush official celebrated impotence of post-debate factchecking: Just before the 1984 election, Peter Teeley, the press secretary for then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, told the New York Times, 'You can say anything you want during a debate and 80 million people hear it.' If the media documents afterwards that what the candidate said was false, said Teely, 'So what?... Maybe 200 people read it or 2,000 or 20,000.'"

It sounds like some members of the anti-Corbyn wing of Labour are starting to realize they are doing real damage to their party and it has to stop. Even the Guardian is starting to post articles to this effect, after abusing Corbyn all year. With even Gordon Brown making the call, that leaves Tony Blair as the major outlier. Of course, much of this is along the lines of "rejoin his government and get back on the bench before those seats get filled by more Corbyn-minded types," and "Corbyn needs to compromise like hell and not get rid of people who have consistently been trying to undermine him," but it's a start, I suppose. Anyway, they tried it on again and failed even worse than they did last time, and it's not like they have much choice.
* "The Guardian view on the Labour leadership: wanted - tolerance and compromise"
* "Labour faces terminal damage if fighting goes on, warns Andy Burnham"
* "Corbyn Wins Challenge From The U.K.'s Version Of The Blue Dogs And New Dems-- The Conservative Wing Of The Labour Party.: Today, Jeremy Corbyn's 62% win was bigger than his original victory as leader of Britain's Labour Party-- 313,209 to 193,229 votes-- much to the chagrin of the establishment conservatives (and their media allies) who hold the progressive Corbyn in contempt and view him with disdain and hatred."
* But somehow Mr. Corbyn doesn't think keeping a cabinet full of enemies at his back is a prudent idea.
* I'm pleased to see Mark Steel weigh in on the subject: "The Labour plotters are right: it's definitely Jeremy Corbyn who needs to 'learn lessons' from the last few months: The plotters made an important point: that Corbyn must 'reach out'. Instead of being divisive, as he was last time by offering them jobs in the shadow cabinet from which they resigned, he should let them pick their own jobs, and if they don't fancy doing them one day, let them bring in games."

Not quite sure how long we've been waiting for something like this to happen - "Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended for rest of term: Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended from the bench for telling probate judges to defy federal orders regarding gay marriage. It's the second time Moore has been removed from the chief justice job for defiance of federal courts - the first time in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building."

"Entire Police Department Just 'Accidentally' Deleted Massive Chunk of Body Camera Video."

No surprises here: "US police abused database access to stalk innocent people - report: Police across the US have been abusing confidential law enforcement databases to stalk romantic partners, landlords, journalists or neighbors who had no connection to actual police investigations, a report has revealed. An Associated Press probe into abuses of the federal and state crime databases has revealed numerous cases of law enforcement checking information on people for personal reasons - whether romantic quarrels, personal conflicts, or voyeuristic curiosity. In a handful of cases, officers were caught using the information to stalk or harass people, while one former New York cop even sold information to private investigators."

"Opiates Are a National Epidemic. Enter the Opioid Lobby: The epidemic is nationwide. The crisis is nationwide. The corporate pushback to develop a policy that looks good and doesn't do something about the problem that cuts into corporate profits also is nationwide."

"Haymarket time capsule uncovered, still unopened: History is being uncovered near the Haymarket Martyrs Monument in Forest Home Cemetery. A large team of volunteers worked to recover a time capsule that was buried near the monument over a hundred years ago. Despite adverse weather conditions over the weekend, they made remarkable progress, finding a cube, believed to contain the ashes of Haymarket martyr, Oscar Neebe. Beneath this, they discovered a cylinder that appears to be the time capsule. It was removed late Monday afternoon. This discovery caps over two years of effort on the part of local residents and archeological experts. Researchers Mark Rogovin, a labor historian, and Bleue Benton, an Oak Park Public Library research librarian, first found mention of the capsule in a Chicago Tribune article from Nov. 7, 1892. It describes a capsule being ceremonially buried under the cornerstone of the monument. A speaker at the ceremony stated, 'When generations to come dig up these records and read them, they will wonder that such barbarity could have been tolerated in the 19th century.'"

"Why This Activist Hacker Is Launching A Hunger Strike In Jail: Martin Gottesfeld, an activist jailed on charges stemming from a politically motivated cyberattack on Boston Children's Hospital, said he'll begin a hunger strike on Oct. 3 to bring attention to what he says is widespread mistreatment of children. In a message published exclusively on HuffPost last week, Gottesfeld said he took out the hospital's internet in the spring of 2014 to protest the controversial treatment of teenager Justina Pelletier and to protest the 'troubled teen industry' more broadly."

"Before Firing at a Palestinian, the Israeli Sniper Asked: Where Do You Want to Be Shot?"

"U.S. Admits Israel Is Building Permanent Apartheid Regime - Weeks After Giving It $38 Billion: In 2010, Israel's then-defense minister, Ehud Barak, explicitly warned that Israel would become a permanent 'apartheid' state if it failed to reach a peace agreement with Palestinians that creates their own sovereign nation and vests them with full political rights. 'As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel, it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic,' Barak said. 'If this bloc of millions of ­Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.' Honest observers on both sides of the conflict have long acknowledged that the prospects for a two-state solution are virtually non-existent: another way of saying that Israel's status as a permanent apartheid regime is inevitable. Indeed, U.S. intelligence agencies as early as 45 years ago explicitly warned that Israeli occupation would become permanent if it did not end quickly. All relevant evidence makes clear this is what has happened. [...] This week, with its fresh new $38 billion commitment in hand, the Israeli government announced the approval of an all new settlement in the West Bank, one that is particularly hostile to ostensible U.S. policy, the international consensus, and any prospects for an end to occupation. The new settlement, 'one of a string of housing complexes that threaten to bisect the West Bank,' as the New York Times put it this morning, 'is designed to house settlers from a nearby illegal outpost, Amona, which an Israeli court has ordered demolished.' This new settlement extends far into the West Bank: closer to Jordan, in fact, than to Israel. In response to this announcement, the U.S. State Department yesterday issued an unusually harsh denunciation of Israel's actions. 'We strongly condemn the Israeli government's recent decision to advance a plan that would create a significant new settlement deep in the West Bank,' it began. It suggested Netanyahu has been publicly lying, noting that the 'approval contradicts previous public statements by the government of Israel that it had no intention of creating new settlements.'"

"Yes, Monsanto Actually DID Buy the BLACKWATER Mercenary Group!: Reports that the huge multinational corporation Monsanto bought the largest mercenary army in the world might have seemed ridiculous on the surface. But it turns out that's exactly what happened. A report authored by Jeremy Scahill for The Nation revealed that Blackwater, later called Xe Services and more recently 'Academi', had been sold to Monsanto."

"Cerberus Uses Private Equity Looting Strategy With Scandal-Ridden Steward Health Care Hospitals [...] After Steward consolidated, operational misadventures began. In 2013, it closed the pediatric unit at Morton Hospital (look here). In 2014, it closed Quincy Hospital, despite promises that it would expand health care services, and specifically not close that hospital so quickly (look here). Starting in 2014, Steward stonewalled state requests to disclose financial data as required by state regulations after the private equity takeover (look here). In 2016, Steward continued to withhold financial data (look here), and closed the short-lived family medicine residency program at Carney Hospital, amidst complaints by the residents about poor organization, and inadequate numbers of faculty (look here).

"Former CIA Detainees Describe Previously Unknown Torture Tactic: A Makeshift Electric Chair: Two former CIA captives recently described being threatened with a makeshift electric chair - a previously unreported torture method - while being held in the U.S. government's infamous 'Salt Pit' prison in Afghanistan."

Now, this is an interesting development. "Congress votes to override Obama for first time: Congress voted Wednesday to override President Obama for the first time in his eight-year tenure, as the House followed the Senate in rejecting a veto of legislation allowing families of terrorist victims to sue governments suspected of sponsoring terrorism. The House easily cleared the two-thirds threshold to push back against the veto. The final tally was 348-77, with 18 Republicans and 59 Democrats voting not to override the veto. The Senate voted 97-1 in favor of the override earlier in the day, with only Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voting to sustain the president's veto. Given that Obama's argument is that people we bomb might sue the United States, it's rather astonishing that this Congress actually shot him down. The White House said, "I would venture to say that this is the single most embarrassing thing that the United States Senate has done, possibly, since 1983." Many people think it's the most sensible thing they've done for quite a while. But think about that headline - for the first time ever. The obstructionist Republicans have never before overridden an Obama veto. I wonder if any of his apologists saw that headline and thought, "Oh. How come?"
* Elsewhere, opinions differ: "White House Is Profoundly Wrong About the Most Embarrassing Thing Senate Has Done."
* But anyway, the very next day, the Republicans complained that the president had not properly apprised them of the "downside" that Obama had been claiming was the downside in all the media, so it's all his fault they overrode his veto. Yes, "Day After Rejecting Veto, Congressional Leaders Concerned About 9/11 Law: House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress might have to 'fix' the legislation to protect U.S. service members in particular." Of course, the legislation itself is such weak tea that it takes very little for the government to stop any lawsuits it doesn't happen to like.

"Big Data Exposes How Politically Connected Traders Cashed In During the Financial Crisis [...] The findings emerged as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, is demanding a formal investigation of why the Obama administration did not more forcefully prosecute financial firms after the crisis."

"Pro-Fracking Law Ruled Unconstitutional by Pennsylvania Supreme Court: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the state's controversial Act 13 is unconstitutional, calling it a special law that benefits the shale gas industry. The massive Marcellus Shale formation, which underlies a large area of Western Pennsylvania, provides more than 36 percent of the shale gas produced in the U.S. ...] The Pennsylvania State Legislature passed Act 13 in 2012 and it was almost immediately challenged by seven of the state's municipalities along with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and a private physician. The onerous law enabled natural gas companies to seize privately owned subsurface property through eminent domain, placed a gag order on health professionals to prevent them from getting information on drilling chemicals that could harm their patients, and limited notification of spills and leaks to public water suppliers, excluding owners of private wells that supply drinking water for 25 percent of Pennsylvania residents. Act 13 also pre-empted municipal zoning of oil and gas development."

"Bill Clinton slams ObamaCare as 'craziest thing in the world'" - I wonder how people hearing this actually parsed it. It's not terribly coherent.

Deplorable: "Obama enlists Republican Kasich to push for TPP trade deal [...] The unlikely partnership comes as the White House makes a final full-court push to persuade Republican congressional leaders to approve the deal in a "lame duck" session after the Nov. 8 election. Both Republican and Democratic candidates have pilloried the TPP."

"McConnell threatens shutdown to keep corporate political spending secret." On both the left and the right, people are outraged at the way corporate political spending is corrupting government, and Congress is determined to prove they are right to be outraged about it.

Corey Robin, "When a Worker Freezes to Death in a Walk-In Freezer at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Downtown Atlanta" - You know, it shouldn't be hard to design freezers that don't latch. It's what I've got on my fridge, and it's hardly as if the dead meat is going to try to escape.

"Just how bad is voter suppression in Wisconsin?" Ari Berman talked to Mike Signorile about how it works.

Elizabeth Warren Just Gave Hillary Clinton a Big Warning: Senator Elizabeth Warren fired an unmistakable warning shot to Hillary Clinton and her advisers on Wednesday, cautioning against appointing cabinet or administration members who are linked to Wall Street while name-checking a firm closely tied to Clinton and the Democratic Party."
* Warren, invoking Clinton, demands FBI explain failure to charge bankers: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is trying to leverage the FBI's unusual embrace of transparency around Hillary Clinton's email investigation as a means to get answers about why more banking executives were not punished after the 2008 financial crisis."

This is a fairly good news discussion show, with some illuminating analysis of what the Democrats are really up to - "What Clinton Really Thinks About Progressives: On this episode of "By Any Means Necessary" host Eugene Puryear is joined by Marcus Farrell, political strategist, organizer and former African American Outreach Director for Bernie Sanders and Ben Norton, columnist with Salon.com to talk about the recently leaked audio of Clinton discussing Sanders' supporters that gave them all the more reason not to support her candidacy. The group also discusses the implications of a Clinton presidency on the American progressive movement and why Trump supporters couldn't care less if he has ever paid taxes."

"Hyde Is What Happens When Left Fakes Right: Today, we mark 40 years of the Hyde Amendment. This law banning federal money from funding abortion has been renewed through administrations Democratic and Republican. Beyond hindering access to abortion, Hyde encapsulates what happens when Left fakes Right and unwittingly undermines its own aims." I'm not sure there's much illumination in the essay, but Democrats let this happen as surely as the right-wing pushed for it. It's time to end it.

"If Clinton Beats Trump 60-40%, The DCCC Would Still Fail To Take Back The House-- And Anyone Who Tells You Differently, While Asking You For A Donation...
* "A Quick Senate Scorecard" - from Gaius Publius, a rundown on how Chuck Schumer is screwing Democrats' chances of taking back the Senate. "Schumer has succeeded in sabotaging every race he has tried to sabotage" - so Gaius figures he will succeed in doing that in Alaska, but if he fails, we could take that seat, which is apparently just what Schumer is afraid of. (By "we", in this case, I mean someone who doesn't have a history of being corrupt.) He already succeeded in sabotaging the Florida Senate seat, paving the way for Patrick Murphy to take the nomination and thus lose the contest.

As The General put it, "Skeletor makes his pick" - remember, this guy was George W. Bush's Homeland Security chief: "Former Whitewater investigator Michael Chertoff backs Hillary Clinton."

"Donald Trump is going to win, says professor who has correctly predicted the last 8 elections - He uses 13 non-ideological True/False questions to assess the likelihood of the party in power winning re-election. They look like pretty good questions. But I still don't know who is actually going to win. This is a strange election, and the FSM knows the Dems are doing a great job of finding ways to lose it, but then, so is Trump.

William Greider in The Nation, "Whom Should We Blame for Our Deranged Democracy?: Laying it all on Trump is too easy -both political parties are out of touch and distant from the people. [...] The leaders of both parties may be betting that the Trump upheaval will be defeated in November, then lose energy and fade away afterward, so politics can get back to 'normal.' For lots of reasons, I think this is delusional. Regardless of who wins this year and what happens to Trump, the political instability will continue because it reflects seismic shifts under way in the American condition." I normally love what Greider writes, but when I got to the end of this article I realized he never really answered the question in the title.

"If You're a Democrat Bashing Bernie Voters, You're Supporting Trump [...] The argument I have just made is, of course, absurd. But it follows from the logic being advanced by many Democrats, which is that by criticizing Hillary Clinton, one supports Donald Trump, since criticism of Clinton makes people less likely to vote for her. Clinton-supporting pundit Bob Cesca has gone so far as to say that 'any attack on Hillary must be taken as tacit support for Trump.' Others, like Paul Krugman, imply that any journalism that puts Clinton in a negative light deliberately provides aid and comfort to the Trump campaign."

"Clinton hasn't won over millennials. And no, sexism isn't to blame: Obama said that her struggles in the polls are due to bias. But for younger voters, our hesitance is about policy - not gender."
* "Unlike Their Parents, Black Millennials Aren't A Lock For Clinton."
* "Among Democrats, deep concern about Clinton's Hispanic strategy."

Oh, Lord, do they hear themselves? "Hillary Clinton: My Plan for Helping America's Poor"

"Inside Hillary Clinton's Outrage Machine, Allies Push the Buttons."

"Maybe Hillary Clinton Shouldn't Spend So Much Time Pursuing Republican Voters."

The American Prospect, "Why Millennials Don't Like Clinton - And What She Can Do About It: Hillary Clinton's support from millennial voters has dropped sharply since August, a problem that she needs to address even more aggressively to hold onto this key bloc of voters."

Strangely, there's a good piece by Emmett Rensin in Newsweek, of all places, "This Is Hillary Clinton's Millennial 'Problem': It is possible, just possible, that political choices meaningfully reflect political preferences. [...] Here is my own wild take on why millennials don't support Clinton 'enough': Many younger American voters, perhaps a sufficient number of them to seriously imperil Clinton's chances, have significant ideological differences with the candidate. That's my theory. Many liberal pundits seem unimpressed by this idea perhaps because it suggests that votes must be earned in a democracy, but it does have the benefit of the evidence. The liberal punditry might be forgiven for underestimating the depth and seriousness of these differences had these young people not voted overwhelmingly and across all other demographic lines for a different candidate. The Clinton campaign might be forgiven for imagining these voters would 'come home' had it not spent the weeks since the Democratic Convention fundraising and playing Bush administration endorsement bingo. The trouble is not that young people are insufficiently familiar with the neoconservative horror show of their own childhoods. The trouble is that the candidate they are meant to support does not appear to find that show particularly horrifying."

Sam Seder has been arguing a lot lately with Jimmy Dore about voting for Hillary. Sam says if you're in a swing state, you need to vote to stop Trump. Jimmy disagrees. The arguments are lively and entertaining, although I don't know if they change anyone's mind. But just for the record, you might want to bookmark The Jimmy Dore Show page, 'cause no matter where you fall on this particular argument, Jimmy does say some pretty smart things.
* And here's a more concise Progressive Case for a Non-Progressive Candidate. (And down in the ensuing thread, I found this video on How to Fix America's Corrupt Political System, which was a relief to see since it's been obvious for a long time that Citizens United isn't really the issue.)

I admit to being bored with complaints about the Democratic convention, but I was surprised by some of the things in this video that I hadn't realized they'd done.

Hillbots keep accusing Glenn Greenwald of being pro-Trump because he dares to criticize Hillary, so he made up a little compendium of evidence to the contrary.

Links from commenter CMike, "Out of Prison, Out of Work" About 7 million American men of prime working age (25 through 54) are not in the labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means they don't have a paid job and haven't been actively looking for one. This figure does not include those in jail or prison. It does include students and men staying home to take care of children or other family members -- but, as Nicholas Eberstadt estimates in his important new book, "Men Without Work," these two categories seem to account for less than 15 percent of what he calls the NILFs (for not in labor force). And the NILF share of the U.S. prime-age male population has been growing and growing.
* Chris Hedges, "The Prison State of America: Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society. States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners with essential items including shoes, extra blankets and even toilet paper, while starting to charge them for electricity and room and board. Most prisoners and the families that struggle to support them are chronically short of money. Prisons are company towns. Scrip, rather than money, was once paid to coal miners, and it could be used only at the company store. Prisoners are in a similar condition. When they go broke - and being broke is a frequent occurrence in prison - prisoners must take out prison loans to pay for medications, legal and medical fees and basic commissary items such as soap and deodorant. Debt peonage inside prison is as prevalent as it is outside prison."

Dean Baker, though, says that, while the post-incarceration unemployment situation is a real problem, "it just cannot explain the larger falloff in employment rates over the last 15 years."
* Also, "NYT Devotes Room for Debate Segment to Dealing with Defense from Martians: At a time when we are seeing the slowest productivity growth on record the NYT decided to devote a Room for Debate section to the question of how we will deal with surging productivity (called "automation" in the description). Blaming the problems of high unemployment and low wages on automation has certain attractive features. It makes our major social problems the result of the development of technology rather than bad economic policy. This is a longer topic (yes, it will be addressed in my forthcoming book), but let's just say that it is not only Donald Trump's supporters who have a tenuous grip on reality."
* And, "NYT Pulls Out the Stops in Pushing NAFTA: The NYT is bending over backwards to promote the protectionist pattern of trade policies of recent presidents. Yes folks, it is protectionist even if they call them "free trade" deals. Patent and copyright protection are protectionism, even if your friends benefit from them. And when we spend an extra $100 billion a year on doctors, compared with pay in Canada and Western Europe, because doctors who don't complete a U.S. residency program are not allowed to practice in the United States, that is protectionism."
* Plus, "Why Don't Directors Want to Clawback Pay from Corrupt CEOs? Gretchen Morgenson had an interesting piece pointing out that it is rare that corporate boards ever clawback substantial sums from CEOs involved in illegal or inappropriate activity. (The immediate context is the clawback of some future performance pay from Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf.) The issue, as Morgenson presents it, is that boards don't generally do clawbacks except where it is legally required."

"Do Not Resist: new film shows how US police have become an occupying army: Craig Atkinson's documentary about police militarization in America asks an important question: how did we get here? Craig Atkinson's documentary about police militarization, Do Not Resist, is filled with unsettling scenes like the one where a Swat team destroys a family's home during a drug raid that nets small amounts of loose marijuana. But the most disturbing scene transpires during the relative placidity of a seminar when a hugely successful lecturer tells a room full of police officers: 'We are at war and you are the frontline. What do you fight violence with? Superior violence. Righteous violence. Violence is your tool ... You are men and women of violence.'"

David Dayen has completed all seven parts now of The Penny Stock Chronicles.

Will Shetterly has a good post up at it's all one thing clarifying the relationship between police violence and class, "Why #BlackLivesMatter should be #PoorLivesMatter now with graphics: A casual glance shows police killings are racially disproportionate to our population - though black people are 13.3% of the US, 25% of people killed by the police are black. But that hides another fact: Police killings are racially proportionate to America's poor. Which makes sense - though there are exceptions from all races, most people killed by the police are poor. [...] The racial list of who is most likely to be killed lines up with racial household income: Native Americans are poorest, followed by blacks, then Hispanics, then non-Hispanic whites, then Asian Americans, who have higher incomes than white Americans. The basic rule for police killings: the richer the group, the less likely its members will be killed by police."

Katie Halper's interview with Glenn Greenwald on Clinton supporters, the Edward Snowden playlist & the afterlife was fun.

"Brooks Brothers Riot: Blame elites for the far right's rise."

"Weimar America: Four major ways we're following in Germany's fascist footsteps"

Monty Python's Terry Jones diagnosed with dementia.

RIP: Terence Bayler, at 86. More sad Pythhon-related news. He had two memorable lines in Life of Brian (both ad libs), and also appeared in The Rutles, Time Bandits and Brazil, as well as numerous other credits, including Doctor Who and much non-genre work in various media.

RIP Doug Fratz (1952-2016), alumna of the University of Maryland (College Park) science fiction club and long-time active fan. (I hold him personally responsible for convincing me to come to the convention they put together and therefore setting me up to get roped into a bridge game by Fred Pohl and Tom Monteleone. On the other hand, they also roped in X, who turned out to be Jack Heneghan and who, with his partner Elaine, taught me how to actually play the game.) I really liked that guy, he was fun and I miss him, I'm really sorry that he's already gone. (CSPA Obit)

'Draw and you'll go to jail': the fight to save comics from the censor: From worried parents to policemen with built-in 'Satan detectors', underground comics have never lacked enemies. And for 30 years Neil Gaiman and his friends have fought back in the name of free speech." I remember the Mike Diana case at the time, being shocked that someone could be sent to jail not for acts, not even for photographs of acts, but for drawings. And all these years later, it still shocks me.

"A 'Quick Perspective' on the Scale of the Manmade and Natural Marvels That Surround Us"

A bedtime story read by Samuel L. Jackson


Bra-clasp of the week. I only know about this because I found an eight-year-old message Karen B. left me in one of a million websites I've been known to wander into.

Well, I had no idea that "Rocket Man" was a big thing in bluegrass.

Dr. John, "Season of the Witch" and "Creole Moon"