05 April 2017

The things that pass for knowledge I can't understand

Bra of the Week: So, I was looking at this page to see if I could get some better advice for taking care of the skin during and after radiotherapy, and down at the bottom someone produced this whimsical innovation. (Comes with matching sun hat.) Oh, and by the way, I seem to have more cancer. The plan seems to be pretty much to do the same as last time, only it's on the other side.

"The Sanders Show: Welcome to 'Bernie TV' [...] Guests on "The Bernie Sanders Show" have so far included Rev. William Barber, the leader of the "Moral Monday" movement, anti-fracking filmmaker Josh Fox and former "Science Guy" Bill Nye, whose conversation with Sanders about climate change racked up 4.6 million views and 25,000 shares." You can watch it here.

"Repealing Broadband Privacy Rules, Congress Sides with the Cable and Telephone Industry: Putting the interests of Internet providers over Internet users, Congress today voted to erase landmark broadband privacy protections. If the bill is signed into law, companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon will have free rein to hijack your searches, sell your data, and hammer you with unwanted advertisements. Worst yet, consumers will now have to pay a privacy tax by relying on VPNs to safeguard their information. That is a poor substitute for legal protections. Make no mistake, by a vote of 215 to 205 a slim majority of the House of Representatives have decided to give our personal information to an already highly profitable cable and telephone industry so that they can increase their profits with our data. The vote broke along party lines, with Republicans voting yes, although 15 Republicans broke ranks to vote against the repeal with the Democrats."

"Baltimore's Democratic mayor breaks promise, vetoes $15 minimum wage bill: Mayor Catherine Pugh dealt a shattering blow to the Fight for $15 campaign, vetoing a new minimum wage law. [...] The veto is the latest in a string of serious blows to the Fight for $15 campaign in Maryland. As reported by In These Times, an effort to enact a local minimum wage in populous Montgomery County went down in flames in January when county executive Ike Leggett vetoed the bill. As in the case in Baltimore, all the important elected leaders in Montgomery County are Democrats, and the higher minimum wage proposal fell because pro-business Democrats split with more progressive Democrats."

"Man banned from every shop, pub, cafe, restaurant and takeaway in Northern Ireland" - I don't know how he is supposed to eat, but I suppose he could always acquire more counterfeit notes and get someone else to do his shopping for him.... (OK, he's allowed to order food to be delivered to him at home, but if the judge is so convinced he has easy access to more faux fifties and would spend them, surely he could get someone else to spend them.)

Jeffrey Kaye is a clinical psychologist who wrote a book about the extremely assisted suicides at Guantanamo. Naturally, Your Talking Dog has interviewed him in his continuing series on Guantanamo. "The media reaction to the deaths has for the most part been awful. Harpers did open up their pages to Hickman and Scott Horton. But when in 2010 the story got an National Magazine Award there was significant growling from the rest of the media. Most amazing, to me, was the tirade of abuse coming from the pages of Adweek, an advertising industry stalwart. That must have thrown editors into a frenzy, with what I believe was practically explicit warning to stay away from these kinds of story, derogated as irresponsible conspiracy-mongering. From that time forward, you did not see stories about the deaths at Guantanamo."

Marcy Wheeler, "Which Came First, the Failed Ideology or the Spiking Mortality Rates? "

"How local news sounded the alarm over the GOP's defeated health plan: Editorials and news coverage in numerous American communities responded with a clear message that such measures simply didn't pass muster for their communities. Many in their audiences agreed: A Quinnipiac Poll released yesterday found that only 17 percent of American voters approved of the Republican's bill, while 56 percent didn't. Many editorials found ways to ask the same question - 'Is this bill good policy?' - and then answer, conclusively, 'No.'"

"Bernie Sanders, Top Progressives Announce New 'Medicare For All' Push.

"Obamacare's Original Sin: We can resist Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare without providing cover for the law's deep ideological flaws."

I think Paul Ryan was accidentally telling the truth when he said, "We're not going to give up on destroying the health care system for the American people."

"The Only Concrete Takeaway From Trump's Speech: Medicaid Is Doomed"

"No, really: Democrats should offer an ACHA alternative"

A year ago, Pachacutec asked, "Does Bernie Sanders Know What He's Doing?" Seems like he did, and does.

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "Paul Ryan is discovering why the government is involved in health care." I wonder if Ezra Klein has finally figured out that Paul Ryan is not the glorious wonk he thought he was.

My Twitter trolls continue to pretend that there's no connection between the banks and other issues. But there is an Undeniable Link Between Racism and Economics.

"The CFPB Protects Us From Bad Banks; Republicans Want To Kill It [...] But lawmakers in Washington aren't trying to tighten enforcement against serial lawbreakers like Wells Fargo. Instead, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has introduced a measure to shut it down, while other GOP efforts would strip it of funding. Other Republican initiatives would weaken the CFPB by stripping it of political independence and replacing its executive leadership with a commission. Other proposed legislation would weaken its rule-making and enforcement authority, reduce its ability to track consumer complaints, and strip it of its ability to (in the words of Bloomberg Law's Chris Bruce) 'attack unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices.' The Trump Administration, which has drawn heavily on Goldman Sachs for its senior staffers, has been openly fighting the CFPB. The administration wants to remove agency head Richard Cordray and make other staffing changes, and recently joined a lawsuit challenging the agency's independence."

"Erik Prince in the Hot Seat: Blackwater's Founder Is Under Investigation for Money Laundering, Ties to Chinese Intel, and Brokering Mercenary Services."

I can't believe that after the Republicans spent 20 years vilifying her, the Democrats spent eight years in control of the White House and apparently were only interested in fracking and TPP, and the candidate said things like this, there is still a constant flow of idiots in my feeds insisting that the only reason people didn't want to vote for Hillary was the Russians.

"Everyone loves Bernie Sanders. Except, it seems, the Democratic party."
* I mean, he's really popular. He's the most popular politician in America.

"Why Bernie's Progressive Narrative Appeals Across Partisan Lines [...] According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, 81% of Americans - including 87% of Democrats and 72% of Republicans - support Social Security and consider it a vital program. 77% of those polled want to protect Social Security benefits, even if doing so would require tax increases on all workers. As Social Security is one of the great progressive policy victories of the last century, this polling indicates that even Republicans are progressive on this issue. Sadly, this is one issue where the establishment political parties do not appear to care about the views of the voters. Virtually every Republican leader other than Trump (e.g. Ryan and McConnell) supports cutting Social Security, either through reducing benefits or increasing the eligibility age, while Democratic leaders have flirted with more subtle cuts (i.e. using chained CPI to reduce cost of living growth)." And it's much the same with other issues Sanders pushed - the public supports them, and party leadership does not. This has to raise questions about what the Democratic leaderships is up to. They can read polls as well as we can. They know their policies are unpopular, so they have to use careful - "nuanced" - language to make them sound like they're not as monstrous as they are. And one other thing. "Replicating the success of Bernie Sanders may be as simple as running candidates who credibly argue in favor of these massively popular progressive ideals, while refusing to take money from big donors. Anybody going up against this type of candidate must resort to lies, distortions, identity politics (e.g. race, religion, gender, culture, etc.) and character attacks, as real policy discussions are likely to just reinforce the idea that their opponent holds views that are widely popular."

"Bernie Sanders is mad at the Democratic Party. And he wants you to know it."

Interview By Rachel Tabachnick, "Right Moves: Historian Jason Stahl Opens a New Era of Scholarship on Conservative Think Tanks: [...] The corrosive part of DLC and PPI was a denigration of movement-based politics, a suspicion of grassroots, movement-based politics. They accepted the pernicious framing of liberal/Left social movements that the Right had been forwarding for years, that these rabble-rousing movements were out of touch and un-American. PPI used this moniker - liberal fundamentalism - suggesting that liberalism is more akin to a kind of unthinking religious orientation and that this is the real problem of the Democratic Party. When you go down that road of denigrating movement politics, you are going down a disastrous electoral path, in my mind, regardless of your politics."

"The DLC Lives: "Third Way" Democrats Are Trying to Push the Party Rightward [...] At the height of its power the DLC was the dominant force in the party, boasting President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as its acolytes. But like Bell's weak narcotics, the DLC, which supported the Iraq War and received money from the likes of the Koch Brothers, soon became a tainted brand. Long before 2011, when the organization dissolved, the DLC label hung around politicians like a scarlet letter. Even President Obama publicly distanced himself from the organization in 2004 as he ascended as a national figure. [...] Now, as Democrats face an existential crisis in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump, these fundamentally conservative organizations, armed with millions in corporate donations, are working with a renewed aggressiveness in the public sphere. They are attempting to convince the party to shun its base and further embrace the so-called 'vital center,' and the corporatism that has long defined these groups."

On The Majority Report, "How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (w/ Philip Mirowski).

Masha Gessen, "Autocracy: Rules for Survival
* Rule #1: Believe the autocrat
* Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality.
* Rule #3: Institutions will not save you
* Rule #4: Be outraged.
* Rule #5: Don't make compromises.
* Rule #6: Remember the future.

"Vouchers, Charters and Public School Debt: Not Just Different Education Policy Priorities: Charter-Friendly Legislation May Violate the Contract Clause."

"The Socialist Takeover of the Democratic Party Is Proceeding Nicely"

"Judicial originalism as myth"

"Progressives Slam Tom Perez's New DNC Transition Team"

"HuffPost Smears Sanders Supporters With Fake News About Russian Trolls: Motivated by personal bias, journalists mislead with anecdotal evidence."

"DNC Adds To Transition Team After Progressive Complaints: Two prominent Bernie Sanders supporters are among the additions."

George Takei has announced he is running for Congress to go after Devin Nunes' seat. On April Fool's Day.

Russia Insider disagrees with Haaretz's assessment of policy on Syria. Snarky! "We understand that Israel has its own national interests. But please stop with the baloney."

"The Bait And Switch Of Public-Private Partnerships: This being the age of public relations, the genteel term 'public-private partnership' is used instead of corporate plunder. A 'partnership' such deals may be, but it isn't the public who gets the benefits."

David Dayen in The Fiscal Times, "How Goldman Sachs Wins, and You Lose, From Its Mortgage Crisis 'Punishment': The Justice Department billed this as a '$5.1 billion settlement.' But that figure was incredibly misleading; at best the bank was giving DoJ a small cut of a decade of profits. There was a bigger problem, too: $1.8 billion of this settlement was earmarked for 'consumer relief,' in which Goldman would write down the mortgages of struggling homeowners. But it didn't own any home loans."

David Dayen in Vice, "How a Cruel Foreclosure Drove a Couple to the Brink of Death: A married couple resorted to self-harm after being physically and psychologically terrorized by Bank of America over their house - until a judge fined the bank $46 million." Of course, BoA plans to appeal, and it will be interesting to see the final disposition of this case, but this is what should have happened to them all. Even here, the judge did not impose criminal charges on BoA executives, but at long last the principle was stated clearly that this was not just the misbehavior of rogue, low-level functionaries, but decisions made at the top. "But if one bank is ordered to pay $46 million for just one foreclosure, it begs the question of whether the federal government settled on the cheap in its more systemic investigations of America's largest financial companies after the 2008 crash. 'The governmental regulatory system has failed to protect the Sundquists,'s Judge Klein wrote, and that goes double for the millions of homeowners who suffered similar fates, yet didn't contest their cases or find a judge willing to act on their behalf."

Beat the Press, "Job Loss in Manufacturing: More Robot Blaming" - Trade deficits have a bigger impact, but surely out-sourcing (which Dean doesn't mention) does, too.

I'm baffled as to why people keep saying stuff like this: "What Happens When We Don't Believe the President's Oath? [...] If you're a liberal, one who voted against George W. Bush twice, do the following thought experiment: Did you ever doubt, even as you decried the Iraq War and demanded accountability for counterterrorism policies and actions you regarded as lawless, that Bush was acting sincerely in the best interests of the country as he understood them? Yes, people used the slogan 'Bush Lied, People Died,' but how many of them actually in their hearts doubted that Bush was earnestly trying to do his duty by the electorate, even if they differed in their understandings of what that duty entailed? Some, to be sure, we suspect many more accepted that Bush was honestly doing his best." OMG, do they not remember how the guy got into the White House? You do not do that in the "best interests" of the country!

This is how the Labour Party wants to occupy its time: attacking Ken Livingstone for stating documented fact.

"Pepsi Made An Ad Where Soda Solved Police Brutality And The Internet Reacted Appropriately."

"Moscow And Beijing Join Forces To Bypass US Dollar In Global Markets, Shift To Gold Trade."

"The Sleazy Origins of Russia-gate: An irony of the escalating hysteria about the Trump camp's contacts with Russians is that one presidential campaign in 2016 did exploit political dirt that supposedly came from the Kremlin and other Russian sources. Friends of that political campaign paid for this anonymous hearsay material, shared it with American journalists and urged them to publish it to gain an electoral advantage. But this campaign was not Donald Trump's; it was Hillary Clinton's. [...] The reports not only captivated the Clinton political operatives but influenced the assessments of Obama's appointees in the U.S. intelligence community. In the last weeks of the Obama administration, I was told that the outgoing intelligence chiefs had found no evidence to verify Steele's claims but nevertheless believed them to be true.

You know who didn't get much help from TARP? If there's one thing white supremacists didn't have to fear form Obama, it was that he would help people of his own race. He sure didn't. "The Decline of Black Business: And what it means for American democracy."

Every now and then I like to remind people that if you actually read the Bible, it is less a tale of faith than a tale of how states fail, over and over. Once they fall into Mammonism, once they let the rentiers control the economy, they destroy themselves. Or God smites them, depending on your point of view (Ezekiel 16:49). Rutger Bregman doesn't mention the Bible in "No, wealth isn't created at the top. It is merely devoured there," but it's that same story, and it's happening now.

Ian Welsh on The Philosophy of Decline and Collapse.

Blast from the past: Early last year, Seth Ackerman did a useful take-down of two "liberal" pundits who did a prompt about-face on all of their previous opinions on health care, in a shameful display of partisanship. "Meet the New Harry and Louise: Vox's attack on Bernie Sanders is sold as a policy critique. It's actually a dishonest exercise in managing the Democratic Party base."

"Why You Seldom See Noxzema Anymore." This is kind of a shame, because it really is great for protecting your skin from breaking out, especially anyplace you use soap, and it wipes out eczema pretty damned quick. I get it from a local place down the market that appears to cater to a mostly black clientele, it's not seen on the shelves anywhere else that I recall. I thought that was a British thing until I saw this story - and it's from 2008.

* One of the truly great journalists, "Legendary Newspaper Columnist Jimmy Breslin Dies At 88. [..] Breslin was old school. He began his career as a copy boy working his way up to a hard -bitten reporter." You can read his articles about Trump here, starting with his 7 June 1990.article, "Corum's Law", in which he learns that the news business sold itself very cheaply indeed to "The Donald". Also, see Michael Winship's A Couple of Things About Jimmy Breslin."
* Bernie Wrightson, (October 27, 1948-March 19, 2017), co-creator of Swamp Thing, after a long battle with brain cancer. A highly talented artist who had worked for pretty much every comic company at some time, beloved by many.
* Martin McGuinness, the IRA commander whose negotiations on behalf of Sinn Fein led to the Good Friday peace agreement, at 66, as a result of amyloidosis. "The cuddly, chess-playing and fly-fishing grandfather figure that he presented in later life was real - but so too was the guerrilla hard man of the 1970s, who neither smoked nor drank, partly because he was a member of the Catholic Pioneer temperance group, but also to minimise the pressures that might break him under interrogation"
* "Chuck Berry Dies at 90; Helped Define Rock 'n' Roll" Or, as Bill Wyman (no, not that one) put it, "Chuck Berry Invented the Idea of Rock and Roll." Brian May and Brian Wilson also gave tribute. But I loved this piece of information: "Chuck Berry reviewing old punk records remains one of my favourite things."
* "Chicago Blues Giant Lonnie Brooks Dead at 83"
* Bob Lee (1942-2017), after a battle with cancer. Black Panther and organizer Bob Lee forged the kind of revolutionary interracial solidarity desperately needed today. [...] In late 1968, Fred Hampton and Bob Lee indirectly created the original Rainbow Coalition. Led by the ILBPP, the Rainbow Coalition included the Young Lords, a socially conscious Puerto Rican gang; and the Young Patriots Organization (YPO), a group of Confederate-flag-wearing Southern white migrants."
* Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, and three of my favorite TV series.

Dad with super powers
* Stunt woman with cute bundle

Deadpool: The Musical

Baby Groot dancing

Steely Dan "Reelin' in the Years.