28 December 2018

Winter greetings

A bit late with this (though I'm still good up to the Epiphany), but let's start with the traditional Christmas links before we lose the holiday spirit:
* Mark Evanier's wonderful Mel Tormé story, and here's the man himself in duet with Judy Garland.
* Joshua Held's Christmas card, with a little help from Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters.
* Brian Brink's virtuoso performance of "The Carol of the Bells"
* "Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime."
* Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol

* * * * *

Alex Pareen joined The Majority Report's year-end review and Sammy asked the magical question: Why didn't some ambitious DA go after Trump's mob long ago?

"US-funded police linked to illegal executions in El Salvador: The United States has quietly funded and equipped elite paramilitary police officers in El Salvador who are accused of illegally executing gang members, CNN has learned. Successive US administrations have pumped tens of millions of dollars into Salvadoran law enforcement and military to shore up the government's 'Mano Dura' or Firm Hand program, first launched in 2003 but redoubled in 2014 to tackle the country's rampant gang problem."

"US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis resigns," apparently over Trump's announcement that all troops would be withrdrawn from Syria. For an amusing perspective on this issue, try this clip from The Majority Report.

Tim Russo has Brexit Bullet Points for the American Left in 2020. I have no idea whether he's right, but then no one else does, either.

"After McDonogh 35 vote, New Orleans will be 1st in US without traditionally run public schools: Following a hotly contested 5-2 vote on one school's future by the Orleans Parish School Board on Thursday night, New Orleans is slated to become the first U.S. city with virtually all of its public schools run by charter organizations starting next school year. As a packed room of community members chanted, shouted and waved signs in protest, the board gave a thumbs-up to a plan announced earlier in the day by Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. to have InspireNOLA, a high-performing charter operator, temporarily run McDonogh 35 Senior High School, which has been the city's only non-charter public high school." Which means there are now no public schools in New Orleans.

"Democrats Just Blocked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Push For A Green New Deal Committee: Instead, Democrats are sticking to their original plan, and channeled Exxon Mobil in an announcement refusing to bar members who take fossil fuel money."

"Pro-Bitcoin Ron Paul: It's Time to Abolish Federal Reserve, Embrace Tax-Free Crypto. This would, of course, destroy the value of the US Dollar but allow private interests to control the money supply entirely.

"DNC Chair Tom Perez goes to war with state parties: Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez launched an attack on his own party's state organizations Saturday with a long and angry email over the future of the party's most valuable asset — its voter data file. Just days before an important Tuesday meeting in D.C. on the future of the data operation, Perez sharply criticized a new proposal from state party leaders and singled out prominent state officials by name. [...] The DNC wants to gather all the data points on voters into a new, massive for-profit database but needs to convince state parties on the idea. The state parties have been wary, accusing the DNC of conducting a power grab that could financially benefit a few elite party figures."

"A Texas Elementary School Speech Pathologist Refused to Sign a Pro-Israel Oath, Now Mandatory in Many States — so She Lost Her Job: A CHILDREN'S SPEECH PATHOLOGIST who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students in Austin, Texas, has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district, after she refused to sign an oath vowing that she 'does not' and 'will not' engage in a boycott of Israel or 'otherwise tak[e] any action that is intended to inflict economic harm' on that foreign nation. A lawsuit on her behalf was filed early Monday morning in a federal court in the Western District of Texas, alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech. [...] In order to obtain contracts in Texas, then, a citizen is free to denounce and work against the United States, to advocate for causes that directly harm American children, and even to support a boycott of particular U.S. states, such as was done in 2017 to North Carolina in protest of its anti-LGBT law. In order to continue to work, Amawi would be perfectly free to engage in any political activism against her own country, participate in an economic boycott of any state or city within the U.S., or work against the policies of any other government in the world — except Israel." 26 US states have passed laws requiring state employees to take this oath, and 13 others have such legislation pending.

David Dayen, "Sen. Jeff Merkley Wants To Stop Congress Members From Insider Trading By Banning Them From Owning Stocks: SEN. JAMES INHOFE, an Oklahoma Republican recently elevated to chair the Senate Armed Services Committee after the death of John McCain, was implicated recently in what looked to be an insider trading scandal. A few days after meeting with President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to successfully advocate for a military budget increase, Inhofe purchased between $50,000 and $100,000 of stock in defense contractor Raytheon, which stands to profit from additional defense spending. [...] When compared to corporate insiders, members of Congress are exposed to a much broader array of insider information which implicates a wide range of companies. Given that members of Congress hold a unique position of public trust, Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, both potential Democratic presidential candidates, want to put a stop to all the trading. Last week, they introduced legislation that would permanently ban members of Congress and senior staff from trading individual stocks. 'We should not be in the position of thinking about legislation in the context of personal investment,' Merkley told The Intercept in an interview. 'As long as you own stocks, it's hard to rule out of your mind. And the public sees it as a conflict of interest.' Under the Ban Conflicted Trading Act, all members would have six months after enactment to divest their shares. New members would get six months from their entry into Congress to divest. Members and senior staff could also opt to transfer stocks to an independent blind trust, or hold them for as long as they served in government, as long as they do not sell or buy more stocks. Diversified mutual funds or exchange-traded funds would still be allowed. [...] Another section of the bill prohibits members from serving as officers on corporate boards, which amazingly is not already disallowed. Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., was indicted earlier this year for advising friends and family to dump shares of the biopharmaceutical company Innate Immunotherapeutic after learning that a clinical trial for the company's key multiple sclerosis drug failed. Collins knew about the failure before it was public, because he sat on the company's board. Currently, Senate ethics rules ban members and staff from serving as board members of publicly traded companies, but House rules do not. Even the Senate rules permit board membership of tax-exempt organizations. Merkley believes codifying into law a full prohibition on members of the House or Senate serving on corporate boards would be beneficial."

David Dayen at The American Prospect, "Sears Adds Further Insult to Its Workers -- Bankruptcy Bonuses for Execs: Amazingly, a bankruptcy judge has approved $25 million for 334 senior executives, while tens of thousands of ordinary employees face layoffs. Sears and Kmart workers still have no idea whether they'll have a job after the holidays, as the once-mighty retailer slogs through bankruptcy. But the federal bankruptcy court working through the case has nonetheless delivered a Christmas miracle for one important constituency: the company's executives. Late on Friday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Drain approved $25 million in year-end bonuses for Sears' top managers, as the company had requested. Nineteen executives would get about one-third of that money, around $8.4 million, if Sears hits certain financial targets in the next six months, or even if it merely pronounces itself on track to reach those goals. Another $16.9 million would be distributed to 315 senior employees in 'retention bonuses,' so they don't leave to join other retailers. [...] This is definitely a situation where the scandal is what's legal. It's common for executives to get bonuses approved during bankruptcy proceedings. The same thing happened at Toys 'R' Us, before the company was liquidated. 'It's an example of how our bankruptcy laws are broken,' said Carrie Gleason, policy director and campaign manager of the Rise Up Retail campaign, which has assisted current and former Sears workers. But the decision from Judge Drain comes just a week after U.S. bankruptcy trustee William Harrington, responsible for overseeing the Sears case on behalf of the government, formally objected to Sears' proposal to pay out the bonuses. Harrington wrote that the idea of enriching a tiny elite at the top of Sears' organization while the rest of the company scrambles would be improper. 'Against the backdrop of running going out of business sales, the shuttering of hundreds of stores, and the presumed termination of thousands of rank-and-file and hourly employees,' Harrington argued, 'the Debtors are seeking authority to pay significant bonuses to their most senior executive officers … many of whom received pay raises on the eve of the bankruptcy filing.' Viewed this way, the bonuses do not feel like an effort to retain top talent through a difficult period, but a final extraction of cash before the ship sinks."

Read the full version of David Sirota's article at Capital & Main, "Beto vs. Democrats: Texas Lawmaker Frequently Voted to Help Trump and GOP: A rising Democratic star has voted for GOP bills that Trump critics say have aided big banks, undercut the fight against climate change and supported the president's anti-immigrant agenda. Following Beto O'Rourke's spirited run for the U.S. Senate, powerful voices in the Democratic Party establishment have touted the outgoing Texas congressman as a 2020 presidential candidate who, as the party's standard-bearer, would offer a vision of America contrasting against that of Republicans. However, a Capital & Main review of congressional votes shows that even as O'Rourke has represented one of the most Democratic congressional districts in the entire country, he has in many instances undermined his own party's efforts to halt the GOP agenda, frequently voting against the majority of House Democrats in support of Republican bills and Trump administration positions. Capital & Main reviewed the 167 votes O'Rourke has cast in opposition to the majority of his own party in the House during his six-year tenure in Congress. Many of those votes were not progressive dissents alongside other left-leaning lawmakers but were instead votes to help pass Republican-sponsored legislation. In many cases, Democratic lawmakers said that those measures were designed to help corporate interests dismantle Obama administration programs and regulations." A somewhat edited version is at the Guardian, and it also appeared in Newsweek.

"Ringing in a Christian Nationalist 2019 With an Even Larger Legislative Playbook: A Christian nationalist coalition, including the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, has published a new state legislative playbook for 2019 that's 30 percent larger, and 100 percent as committed to a nation that reflects its sectarian values."

"Politicians have caused a pay 'collapse' for the bottom 90 percent of workers, researchers say: Political decisions by elected officials are largely responsible for a 'collapse in pay for the bottom 90 percent' of the labor market since 1979, according to a new analysis of wage stagnation by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. While many economists pin much of the blame for wage stagnation on impersonal market forces, such as free trade and technological change, EPI's Josh Bivens and Heidi Shierholz contend that specific policy decisions — including efforts to weaken unions, the decay of the minimum wage and monetary policy that prioritizes low inflation over full employment — are responsible for tilting the balance of power away from workers and toward their employers."

From Current Affairs, "Why Is The Center For American Progress Betraying The Left? As the left tries to fight against inequality and exploitation, the main 'progressive' think tank joins forces with right-wing free market capitalists.... The Center for American Progress is one of the largest and most important think tanks in Washington, certainly the preeminent 'progressive' think tank. It describes its agenda as promoting 'bold, progressive ideas' and releases a number of extremely useful reports and fact sheets. In 2008, TIME branded it 'Obama's idea factory.' CAP has strong ties with both Obama and the Clintons — it was founded by close Clinton confidante John Podesta and its president, Neera Tanden, previously worked for both Bill and Hillary Clinton. The New Republic has described it as 'stuffed to the gills with staffers who have either worked in previous Democratic administrations or will go on to work in future ones.' [...] The Center for American Progress does not just accept shady donations. It also gives them. Journalist Andrew Perez reported that according to financial disclosure forms, CAP donated $200,000 last year to the American Enterprise Institute. The AEI is a right-wing free-market think tank perhaps best known as the longtime home of racist social scientist Charles Murray. " When they asked Neera Tanden what was up with that, she directed them to their website. "Naturally, Current Affairs gladly accepts the invitation to focus on CAP's collaboration with the AEI. I looked at two of the 'reports' that they have produced together so far. First, it is still unclear why CAP is giving AEI $200,000. The reports Tanden links to are a few pages each, more like extended op-eds than scholarly works, and involve no original research. They both focus not on 'authoritarianism' as Tanden says, but on what they call 'authoritarian populism.' This is important, because while Tanden suggests that nobody could object to 'defending democracy from the rise of authoritarianism,' we know that to the American Enterprise Institute, 'democracy' and 'authoritarianism' do not necessarily mean what they mean to you and me. When the AEI speaks of democracy, it means 'laissez-faire capitalism' and when it speaks of 'authoritarianism' it means 'minimum wage laws' or any mildly redistributive social policies that could threaten American Enterprise. Tanden wants to wave away concerns about the collaboration, because after all everyone agrees democracy is good. But the question is — what are we actually 'defending' here?"

Kos was stirring up crap on Twitter again last week. Kos and Armando seem to have made it their mission to denigrate the left in social media lately, so perhaps Dan O'Sullivan's article from early last year is timely again: Requiem for a Lightweight: Markos Moulitsas was once the face of American progressivism. That shouldn't happen again."

Mike the Mad Biologist, "TEH SOCIALISMZ!!! AAAIIIEEE!!!!: With the win of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (full disclosure: I donated to her campaign), there has been a lot of talk about socialism, which led to this hilarious self-own by Sean Hannity, where he displayed the horror that is her platform" [...] But on a more serious note, I'm genuinely puzzled as to how this is any different from what used to be called liberal Democrats (before and during the 1990s — and who were mostly purged from power by the Clinton era New Democrats) would propose. Looking at her site, as well as the DSA site, I'm not seeing anything about the nationalization of companies. No establishment of an activist wealth fund, in which the government has voting shares and uses them — Norway does this, for example. Other than for skyrocketing drug prices (and perhaps rent increases), there are no widespread calls for price controls. So it's really hard to see how what is currently referred to as socialism would differ from Hubert Humphrey's economic proposals."

RIP: Evelyn Berezin, creator of the first word processor and designer of a 1960s online air passenger reservation system: "Evelyn Berezin, who has died aged 93, invented the Data Secretary, the first electronic word processor for secretarial use, and in 1969 founded a company in Hauppauge, Long Island, to manufacture and sell it. She had bumped into the glass ceiling and it was the only way she could get a senior position running a company."

"Self-Presentation in Interracial Settings: The Competence Downshift by White Liberals: Most Whites, particularly socio-political liberals, now endorse racial equality. Archival and experimental research reveals a subtle but reliable ironic consequence: White liberals self-present less competence to minorities than to other Whites — that is, they patronize minorities stereotyped as lower status and less competent. In an initial archival demonstration of the competence downshift, Study 1 examined the content of White Republican and Democratic presidential candidates' campaign speeches. Although Republican candidates did not significantly shift language based on audience racial composition, Democratic candidates used less competence-related language to minority audiences than to White audiences. Across five experiments (total N = 2,157), White participants responded to a Black or White hypothetical (Studies 2, 3, 4, S1) or ostensibly real (Study 5) interaction partner. Three indicators of self-presentation converged: sophistication of vocabulary selected for an assignment, competence-related traits selected for an introduction, and competence-related content of brief, open-ended introductions. Conservatism indicators included: self-reported political affiliation (liberal-conservative), Right-Wing Authoritarianism (values-based conservatism) and Social Dominance Orientation (hierarchy-based conservatism). Internal meta-analyses revealed that liberals — but not conservatives — presented less competence to Black interaction partners than to White ones. The simple effect was small but significant across studies, and most reliable for the self-reported measure of conservatism. This possibly unintentional but ultimately patronizing competence-downshift suggests that well-intentioned liberal Whites may draw on low-status/competence stereotypes to affiliate with minorities."

Have a read of the Editor's Note at the top of this article, and the comments below it, which caused it to be edited after the fact. "Why the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Makes for a Complicated History: Charged with manslaughter, the owners were acquitted in December 1911. A Smithsonian curator reexamines the labor and business practices of the era." The original title of the article was "Was History Fair to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Owners?" and the article implied that they couldn't really be blamed. Not unnaturally, readers were a little peeved. Twitter had a field day.

For the notebook, from 2015: "Joe Biden Backed Bills To Make It Harder For Americans To Reduce Their Student Debt."

Also for the notebook, but from this week, Matt Yglesias says "Beto O'Rourke's voting record is more conservative than the average Democrat's: It's about what you'd expect from someone running a statewide campaign in Texas." This is based mainly on his DW-Nominate stats, but there's nothing else in his record that suggests he is more progressive than those stats would make it appear. It's a reasonable point to make about a three-term member of Congress who just lost a state-wide election bid but for some reason is being talked up as the progressive standard-bearer for 2020.

Nia Hope had her DNA tested and got a nasty surprise.

Making art with books. I found that last one a bit disturbing, though.

Bruce Springsteen - Fenway Park - 8-15-12 - Night 2, their only performance ever of "Knock on Wood".

Gary Clark, Jr., Live at Glastonbury, 2016

16 December 2018

Baby, it's cold outside

"Defying Trump, US Senate votes to end US support for Yemen war: The final vote of the Yemen resolution was 56-41, with seven Republicans breaking with their party to vote in support of the measure. [...] Due to tactics used by the Republican leadership in the House, the lower chamber will not take up the Senate measure before adjourning, leaving the matter unresolved until the new Congress convenes in January." Well, it wasn't simply due to Paul Ryan's tactics - it was also that five Democrats used those tactics as an excuse to vote the wrong way - they were Jim Costa, Al Lawson, Collin Peterson, Dutch Rupperberger, and David Scott. Peterson's explanation for his vote is priceless. Co-sponsors of the resolution to stop supporting the Yemen atrocity were Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

"Abrams' New Voting Rights Org, Fair Fight Georgia, Files Suit: Charges Kemp "grossly mismanaged" election and "unconstitutionally purged" Georgia's voter rolls: Stacey Abrams, who refused to officially concede defeat in her bid for Governor, filed suit today in federal court in Atlanta charging the entire election process was hopelessly tainted. Abrams, who has formed a non-partisan voter protection organization, Fair Fight Georgia, cites, among other racially biased attacks on the rights of citizens to vote, the wrongful mass purge of voters by Secretary of State Brian Kemp — who was Abrams' opponent and the presumptive winner."

"Congress may have accidentally freed nearly all banks from the Volcker Rule: A few double negatives buried in legislative text may have inadvertently freed nearly all U.S. banks from a regulation known as the Volcker Rule, which sought to curb risky behavior in response to the 2008 financial crisis. The text in question comes from a package bill passed in May that pared back portions of the Dodd-Frank post-crisis financial regulatory framework. One of the many provisions of the bill offered an exemption from the Volcker Rule to smaller community banks that policymakers felt were burdened by the regulation, which limited banks' proprietary trading, or trading for their own accounts." Hm, "accidentally", "inadvertently", I wonder....

"Supreme Court sides with Planned Parenthood, declines to take case: The Supreme Court on Monday refused appeals from two states looking to end funding to Planned Parenthood, striking a blow to abortion foes. The decision leaves in place lower court rulings that blocked Louisiana and Kansas from banning Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from the states' Medicaid programs. [...] Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito, dissented, writing that the court should have taken the cases. Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not sign on to the dissenting opinion."

"'Infuriating': Trump FCC Refusing to Release Data Showing If Telecom Industry Being Truthful About Internet Speeds: 'Without this information, consumers who are lucky enough to have a choice of broadband providers won't be able to make informed decisions about which broadband provider to choose.' Under Trump-appointee Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has continued a program to track whether major companies like AT&T, Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon are providing their promised internet speeds, but has failed to publish any of its findings — concealment that has raised alarm among tech reporters and former agency officials. 'The only reason I can think of is that the data doesn't promote the chairman's narrative that broadband industry investment and performance allegedly suffered when it was subject to net neutrality rules grounded in Title II of the Communications Act,' former agency lawyer and adviser Gigi Sohn told Motherboard, referencing Pai's defense of a party-line vote that repealed the rules last year."

"In Stunning Power Grab, Wisconsin Republicans Pass Bill Weakening New Governor: Wisconsin's lame-duck, Republican-controlled state Legislature passed on Wednesday a host of measures designed to kneecap Gov.-elect Tony Evers, other Democrats elected to statewide offices and hurt the Democratic Party in general, sending the legislation to the GOP governor Evers defeated ? Scott Walker ? for his signature. One part of the package would prohibit municipalities from allowing more than two weeks of early voting. That presumably would cut down on voter turnout, which generally helps Republicans. Other provisions would give the Legislature full control of a state economic development agency, block the governor's ability to write regulations and allow the Legislature to hire its own lawyers to file lawsuits on behalf of the state. Walker, who narrowly lost to Evers, is expected to sign the package into law. Democrats are already threatening to fight the measures in court." They shouldn't wait for that - they should block a quorum by going into hiding. This didn't work in Texas because, although the Dems managed to hold out for a month, there was no time limit and they couldn't do that indefinitely. In this case, however, there is indeed a time limit, so it could work. (Here's the same story from Mother Jones.) Hear the Ari Berman interview on this at the Majority Report: Republicans Lose, So They Mount Coups w/ Ari Berman - MR Live - 12/4/18.

Also on The Majority Report, Eating NAFTA: Trade, Food Policies, & Destruction of Mexico w/ Alyshia Gálvez - MR Live - 11/27/18

Sam actually got David Dayen into the studio to discuss all the stuff about AOC and the new kids going for the important committees and how Joe Crowley's parting shot to undermine Barbara Lee ended up with Pelosi finding space for Lee and the progressive freshies.

"How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens w/ Bernard E. Harcourt - MR Live - 12/10/18

And I guess I'm late to the party about Comrade Pamela Anderson.

The Michael Brooks Show really worth a listen, "TMBS - 66 - You Need Marx To Understand Brexit ft. Richard Wolff"

Senator Bernie Sanders on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert saying Medicare For All Isn't A Fringe Idea Anymore.

"Charlottesville: James Fields guilty of murder for driving car into crowd: A jury has found 21-year-old James Alex Fields Jr guilty of first-degree murder for intentionally driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one woman and injuring dozens. Fields was convicted in the August 2017 crash that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Her death came after police forced a white nationalist rally to disband after participants clashed with counter-protesters. The jury of seven women and five men began deliberating on Friday morning and took just over seven hours to reach the guilty verdict. [...] Jurors also convicted Fields of eight other charges, including aggravated malicious wounding and hit and run. [...] Fields faces 20 years to life in prison. The jury is set to return on Monday to determine his sentence. He has also been charged with federal hate crime counts, which could carry the death penalty."

"Tennessee Supreme Court rules Cyntoia Brown must serve 51 years in prison before she's eligible for release: The Tennessee Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Cyntoia Brown, who was 16 years old when she killed a man who solicited her for sex, must serve 51 years in prison before being eligible for release. [...] Brown said she shot and killed her victim, 43-year-old Johnny Mitchell Allan, after she resisted his advances, and after she believed he was reaching for a gun. She then took a gun out of her purse and shot and killed Allan. [...] The unanimous ruling against Brown, who was sentenced to life in prison in 2004, followed a lawsuit in which she argued that her sentence was unconstitutional. Brown had pointed to a 2012 Supreme Court opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court to argue in the suit that being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders violated the Constitution. The court denying the motion said she hadn't received a life sentence without parole and was just handed a life sentence instead."

"Ammon Bundy Quits Militia Movement in Solidarity With Migrant Caravan" Ammon Bundy is best known as a leading light of the American militia movement (a motley coalition of various different flavors of firearms enthusiasts who hate the federal government). He's famous for getting into armed standoffs with federal agents and violently occupying bird sanctuaries. His friends are the kind of folks who co-chair pro-Trump veterans groups; his father is the kind of man who says, 'I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro' — and proceeds to explain why black people were 'better off as slaves.' So, this being 2018, Bundy naturally just disavowed the militia movement in solidarity with the migrant caravan, suggested that nationalism is actually the opposite of patriotism, and said that Trump's America resembles nothing so much as 1930s Germany." Well, that was certainly unexpected.

Dean Baker at Beat the Press, "Trump and China: Going with Patent Holders Against Workers: While most of us don't have access to the inner workings of the Trump administration to know exactly what is going on with its negotiations with China, given the public accounts and statements, it seems workers have clearly lost. Trump seems to have made the concerns of companies like Boeing, who want more help maintaining their control over technology, his top priority. The impact of an under-valued Chinese currency, which has led to a large U.S. trade deficit, seems to have been dropped from discussion. [...] Most of the media cover this as though Trump is pursuing a genuine national interest in pressing this issue, as opposed to the interest of a small number of large corporations. This is seriously wrong. In fact, if Trump is successful to pushing his 'anti-intellectual property theft' agenda with China, it will actually be bad for most of the nation's workers."

Matt Taibbi, "The French Protests Do Not Fit a Tidy Narrative: The yellow vest protests are more nuanced than American pundits want to admit. 'What's wrong with elitism?' asked Washington Post columnist Max Boot this week on Twitter. Boot posed this in a discussion about the merits of centrism, raised in the context of the 'yellow vest' protests against the government of Emmanuel Macron in France." The confusion about French outrage at rich people imposing austerity on those who can't afford it isn't just for long-time right-wing pundits. Here's alleged "liberal" Neera Tanden on Twitter: I don't understand why any progressive is cheering French protesters who are amassing against a carbon tax." Because it's so hard to figure out that a tax on working people who can't afford it will not even cause any change in the behavior of the corporations who are most responsible for the pollution that is implicated in climate change, and it's just one more straw in a long list of grievances that have increased wealth inequality in France, silly. Matt Taibbi talked to Michael Brooks about this, too.

"Secret Scottish-based office led infowars attack on Labour and Jeremy Corbyn: On the surface, the cryptically named Institute for Statecraft is a small charity operating from an old Victorian mill in Fife. But explosive leaked documents passed to the Sunday Mail reveal the organisation's Integrity Initiative is funded with £2million of Foreign Office cash and run by military intelligence specialists. The 'think tank' is supposed to counter Russian online propaganda by forming 'clusters' of friendly journalists and 'key influencers' throughout Europe who use social media to hit back against disinformation. But our investigation has found worrying evidence the shadowy programme's official Twitter account has been used to attack Corbyn, the Labour Party and their officials."

David Dayen, "White Nationalist Steve King May Have Won, But Iowa Race Shows Republicans Are Losing Ground In Rural Areas: ELECTION ANALYSTS HAVE zeroed in on Donald Trump's weakness in well-educated suburban districts to explain the outcome of the 2018 midterms, in which Democrats won back more than 30 House seats. But the biggest losses of the night for Republicans, in terms of raw vote share, actually happened in rural districts, long presumed to be GOP territory."

* * * * *

Down With Tyranny!
• "The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President-- Part III, Michael Bloomberg
• "The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President-- Part IV, Joe Biden"

"New Election After Republicans Were Caught Trying To Steal A House Seat In North Carolina?: By the end of last month, it was already obvious that North Carolina Trumpist, Mark Harris, had stolen both the GOP primary that ousted Robert Pittenger and then the general election in which he-- against all odds-- beat Blue Dog Dan McCready. The final 538.com forecast omg November 6, showed Harris with just a 12.1% chance to win (1 in 8). [...] In an exclusive interview, McCready told Joe Bruno that he thinks Harris not only knew what McCrae Dowless was doing but that he was bankrolling 'criminal activity.' [...] Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, was also on CNN where he hinted that the state party might support a new election if allegations of fraud are proven true and if it impacted the outcome of the race. If allegations of fraud are proven true, the perps shouldn't be allowed to participate in a new election unless it's from a prison cell. Woodhouse: 'This has shaken us to the core. We are not ready to call for a new election yet. I think we have to let the board of elections come show their hand if they can show that this conceivably could have flipped the race in that neighborhood, we will absolutely support a new election.'"

"Republicans Thwarting The Will Of The Voters-- Michigan" — Democrats routed the Republicans, but the lame duck still has time to burn the house down, just as in Wisconsin.

"Wanted: Candidates To Take On Top 2020 Congressional Targets: Bernie is going to need a progressive Congress to help pass his platform in 2020 when he becomes president-- more members like Alexandria Ocasio, Ro Khanna, Raul Grijalva, Pramila Jayapal, Ted Lieu, Rashida Tlaib, Jamie Raskin, Mark Pocan, Mark DeSaulnier, Ayanna Pressley, Katherine Clark, Jim McGovern, Adriano Espaillat... and fewer Blue Dogs and New Dems from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party, faux Democrats who oppose Bernie programs like Medicare-for-All, free state colleges, Job Guarantee, the Green New Deal, etc. They will vote with the Republicans against these proposals-- which is why the 2020 cycle primaries, some of which are starting right now-- are so important." By my lights, no matter who wins the presidency in 2020, we need people in Congress who won't cave to right-wing demands, whether they come from Republicans or Democrats.

* * * * *

"Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees: The White House again wants to expel certain groups of protected immigrants, a reversal after backing away from the policy months ago."

Zaid Jilani at Current Affairs, "What Does Beto O'Rourke Actually Stand For? What makes anyone think O'Rourke should be president? He is neither a bold progressive nor a distinguished legislator. "

"How Did The Dems Win 7 Red GOP Seats? Ben Ray Lujan And His Band Of Incompetents Want The Credit— But Kevin McCarthy (And Trump) Did More Than The DCCC Did. [...] The DCCC has been running around trying to claim credit for the California wins, where they deserve none at all. Their presence in the state made it more difficult for Democrats and nearly cost the party several districts. The reason for the wins has more to do with Ted Lieu's fundraising strategies for the candidates combined with the immense dislike for Trump and the bumbling of Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, another Californian who himself is lucky the DCCC gave him a pass, allowing a hapless joke candidate to run against him.

"Joe Crowley'S Parting Shot: Ousted By Ocasio-Cortez, He Undermined Barbara Lee In House Leadership Race: THE ELECTION OF Rep. Hakeem Jeffries as House Democratic Caucus chair on Wednesday represented a symbolic and substantive comeback for the wing of the party that had suffered a stunning defeat last June, when Rep. Joe Crowley was beaten by primary challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Jeffries, who represents a Brooklyn district next door to Crowley's, bested Rep. Barbara Lee of California, who had the support of the insurgent movement that had ousted Crowley. A protege of Crowley's, Jeffries is heavily backed by big money and corporate PACs. Less than 2 percent of his fundraising comes from small donors, who contribute less than $200, according to Federal Election Commission records. [...] Crowley, though, wasn't going gently into the night. In the run-up to the vote, he told a number of House Democrats that Lee had cut a check to Ocasio-Cortez, painting her as part of the insurgency that incumbents in Congress feel threatened by, according to Democrats who learned of the message Crowley was sharing. There was a kernel of truth in the charge. Lee's campaign did indeed cut a $1,000 check to the campaign of Ocasio-Cortez, but did so on July 10, two weeks after she beat Crowley. Since then, Reps. Steny Hoyer, Raúl Grijalva, and Maxine Waters, as well as the PAC for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, have all given money to Ocasio-Cortez's campaign committee. It's not an unusual phenomenon — a way to welcome an incoming colleague — but Crowley's framing of it linked Lee to the growing insurgent movement, despite her decades of experience in Congress. "

I keep hoping this will go away, but oh, those "progressive Democrats" are keeping it alive. "Senators Working To Slip Israel Anti-Boycott Law Through In Lame Duck: DEMOCRATIC SEN. BEN Cardin is making a behind-the-scenes push to slip an anti-boycott law into a last-minute spending bill being finalized during the lame-duck session, according to four sources familiar with the negotiations. The measure, known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, was shelved earlier amid concerns about the infringement of free speech, after civil liberties groups argued that the original version would have allowed criminal penalties for Americans who participate in a political boycott of Israel. Some of the more aggressive elements of the provision have been removed under pressure, but the American Civil Liberties Union, which spearheaded the initial opposition to the bill, is still strongly opposed."

It looks like we dodged a bullet. "Deval Patrick bows out of 2020 presidential run." Now read this thread about just how sleazy this piece of crapforeclosure monster really is.

"CNN Submits to Right-Wing Outrage Mob, Fires Marc Lamont Hill Due to His 'Offensive' Defense of Palestinians at the U.N. CNN ON THURSDAY afternoon fired its commentator, Temple University Professor Marc Lamont Hill, after right-wing defenders of Israel objected to a speech Professor Hill gave at the U.N. on Wednesday in defense of Palestinian rights. CNN announced the firing just twenty-four hours after Hill delivered his speech. Hill's firing from CNN is a major victory for the growing so-called 'online call-out culture' in which people who express controversial political views are not merely critiqued but demonized online and then formally and institutionally punished after a mob consolidates in outrage, often targeting their employes with demands that they be terminated. Hill's firing, conversely, is a major defeat for the right to advocate for Palestinian rights, to freely critique the Israeli government, and for the ability of journalism and public discourse in the U.S. generally to accommodate dissent. Conservatives claimed to be offended, traumatized and hurt by Hill's political views on Israel and Palestine, which they somehow construed as being anti-semitic, and demanded that CNN fire him as punishment for the expression of those opinions. CNN honored the demands of those claiming to be victimized by exposure to Hill's viewpoints by firing him as a political analyst."

"Ocasio-Cortez Gunning For Powerful Committee, Setting Up Showdown With Long Island Democrat: ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ is making a push for a seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, according to people familiar with her decision. It's a panel whose jurisdiction over taxes and revenue puts most of the economy within its mandate. For that reason, freshmen are almost never given spots on the panel, but the midterm elections upset the balance of power in the House. Sixty-three new representatives have joined the Democratic caucus, and some 43 Republicans either lost their seats or retired — so there is an unusually large number of vacancies to fill. By custom, New York City effectively has at least one reserved seat on Ways and Means, and Ocasio-Cortez is looking to claim it. Its former occupant was Rep. Joe Crowley, whom Ocasio-Cortez beat in a primary election. Any major piece of legislation — whether it's 'Medicare for All,' a 'Green New Deal,' or free public college — would involve some level of revenue, putting it squarely in the domain of Ways and Means, which makes it a key spot for a legislator looking to have an impact. Ocasio-Cortez is routinely asked how she plans to pay for her aggressive economic agenda, and the first answer begins with securing a spot on the House's key tax-writing committee."

Rep. Marc Pocan (D-WI 2), "'No Labels' Needs A Warning Label [...] Look, I get it. No Labels is slick, and I got duped. But no other current or newly elected member of Congress should fall for its shtick. No Labels is a centrist, corporate organization working against Democrats with dark, anonymous money to advance power for special interests. Period."

"'Lobbyists Are Here. Goldman Sachs Is Here. Where's Labor? Activists?' Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez Pull Back Curtain on Corporate-Sponsored Freshman Orientation: One of the best parts of Ocasio-Cortez's arrival in D.C. as a new leader is that she notices, and is revolted by, the corrupt, corporatist rituals that are so embedded in D.C. culture that most politicians and journalists barely notice them."

"At elite gala with ex-Bush official, Obama implores Wall Street to thank him for making them so much money: Barack Obama urged bankers to thank him for helping make them so much money during his tenure as president. He also boasted of turning the US into the world's largest oil producer, while surrounded by wealthy Republicans in tuxedos. Obama made these appeals for elite adulation at a lavish gala hosted by former Secretary of State James Baker. His comments came just a few hours after he met with former Republican President George H. W. Bush at his home in Texas. [...] 'I know we're in oil country, and we need American energy,' Obama said. 'And by the way, American energy production — you wouldn't always know it — but it went up every year I was president. And that whole, 'Suddenly America is the biggest oil producer' — that was me, people.'" Which is a pretty funny thing to say after delivering lip-service to doing something about climate change. But it seems like just last month, everyone was laughing at Trump for saying he was grateful for himself, and now here's Obama telling Wall Street they should be grateful to him. He's right, too. The rest of us should probably tar and feather them both.

This was probably not supposed to be the funniest story I read all week, but it is. Danielle Paquette in The Washington Post, "Workers are ghosting their employers like bad dates: Economists report that workers are starting to act like millennials on Tinder: They're ditching jobs with nary a text. 'A number of contacts said that they had been 'ghosted,' a situation in which a worker stops coming to work without notice and then is impossible to contact,' the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago noted in December's Beige Book, which tracks employment trends. [...] Keith Station, director of business relations at Heartland Workforce Solutions, which connects job hunters with companies in Omaha, said service workers in his area are most likely to skip out on low-paying service positions. [...] Some employers in Nebraska are trying to avoid unfilled shifts with apprentice programs that guarantee raises and additional training over time." Well, gosh, it seems some of these innovative entrepreneurs have... invented the raise.

"The Ignored Legacy of George H.W. Bush: War Crimes, Racism, and Obstruction of Justice [...] The inconvenient truth is that the presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush had far more in common with the recognizably belligerent, corrupt, and right-wing Republican figures who came after him — his son George W. and the current orange-faced incumbent — than much of the political and media classes might have you believe."

Read this Will Stancil thread about the miracle of black kids going to Ivy League colleges and doing just fine, even though they were just ordinary kids. (via)

Richard Eskow at Common Dreams, "Wall Street Is Leading the Attack on Pelosi — Steny Hoyer Is the Real Barrier to the Progressive Agenda: A Hoyer speakership would be a catastrophe for the left. [...] The anti-Pelosi insurgency is not a movement. It's a cabal, orchestrated by the appropriately hashtagged #FiveWhiteGuys, a group of self-self-interested players with big money behind them. These white males resemble nothing so much as the next-generation terminator played by Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. They're cunning, aggressive, shape-shifting, and so reflective that anyone who looks at them sees only a distorted image of themselves."

Dave Lindorf in The Nation, "Exclusive: The Pentagon's Massive Accounting Fraud Exposed: How US military spending keeps rising even as the Pentagon flunks its audit.: On November 15, Ernst & Young and other private firms that were hired to audit the Pentagon announced that they could not complete the job. Congress had ordered an independent audit of the Department of Defense, the government's largest discretionary cost center — the Pentagon receives 54 cents out of every dollar in federal appropriations — after the Pentagon failed for decades to audit itself. The firms concluded, however, that the DoD's financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible."

"Officers pry 1-year-old from Brooklyn mom's arms during arrest; police investigating: BOERUM HILL, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Two peace officers from the Human Resources Administration will be placed on modified duty after shocking video showed an excruciating tug of war between a group of officers and a mother trying to hold on to her baby. It all apparently started because there was nowhere for the young mother to sit. [...] Eyewitness News was told the city agency was slow and crowded, so there were no chairs available, and Headley sat on the floor with her son to wait her turn. [...] Nyasia Ferguson took the video and confirms that both Headley and her son were not blocking any doors or passageways. When security guards ordered Headley to stand, Eyewitness News is told the mother refused because there were no seats and she had her baby. A supervisor was called - and then police."

RIP: "William Blum, Renowned U.S. Foreign Policy Critic, Dead at 85. I know I should remember him, since he was the founder of The Washington Free Press, but I really don't recall ever actually seeing him. "William Blum died in Virginia early this morning on December 9, 2018. He was surrounded by friends and family after falling in his Washington D.C. apartment and sustaining serious wounds 65 days ago. He was 85 years old. [...] in London in the mid-1970s, Blum collaborated with ex-CIA officer Philip Agee and his associates 'on their project of exposing CIA personnel and their misdeeds.'"

"Snowden Speaks Out for Assange: 'If You Would Deny a Thing to Your Enemy, It Is Not a Right': 'You cannot support the prosecution of a publisher for publishing without narrowing the basic rights every newspaper relies on,' says NSA whistleblower."

This is from 2016, but an interesting contribution. "Yes, Immigration Hurts American Workers: Here's the problem with the current immigration debate: Neither side is revealing the whole picture. Trump might cite my work, but he overlooks my findings that the influx of immigrants can potentially be a net good for the nation, increasing the total wealth of the population. Clinton ignores the hard truth that not everyone benefits when immigrants arrive. For many Americans, the influx of immigrants hurts their prospects significantly. [...] Both low- and high-skilled natives are affected by the influx of immigrants. But because a disproportionate percentage of immigrants have few skills, it is low-skilled American workers, including many blacks and Hispanics, who have suffered most from this wage dip. The monetary loss is sizable. The typical high school dropout earns about $25,000 annually. According to census data, immigrants admitted in the past two decades lacking a high school diploma have increased the size of the low-skilled workforce by roughly 25 percent. As a result, the earnings of this particularly vulnerable group dropped by between $800 and $1,500 each year. We don't need to rely on complex statistical calculations to see the harm being done to some workers. Simply look at how employers have reacted. A decade ago, Crider Inc., a chicken processing plant in Georgia, was raided by immigration agents, and 75 percent of its workforce vanished over a single weekend. Shortly after, Crider placed an ad in the local newspaper announcing job openings at higher wages. Similarly, the flood of recent news reports on abuse of the H-1B visa program shows that firms will quickly dismiss their current tech workforce when they find cheaper immigrant workers. But that's only one side of the story. Somebody's lower wage is always somebody else's higher profit. In this case, immigration redistributes wealth from those who compete with immigrants to those who use immigrants — from the employee to the employer."

Norman Solomon, "The 'Pelosi Problem' Runs Deep: Whether our concerns involve militarism, social equity, economic justice, civil liberties, climate change or the overarching necessity of a Green New Deal, the Democratic Party must change from the bottom up."

"Criminalisation of sex work normalises violence, review finds: Sex workers three times more likely to experience violence from client where trade is criminalised, data shows: Sex workers are more likely to suffer poor health, violence and abuse in countries where their trade is criminalised, a major review has found. The review, by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that sex workers suffering repressive policing — including arrest, imprisonment and extortion by officers — were three times more likely to experience sexual or physical violence from a client and were twice as likely to have HIV or another sexually transmitted infection as those who lived in countries where sex work was tolerated. Sex workers who fear that they, or their clients, may be picked up by the police are more likely to engage in risky encounters, unable to take the time to talk to a client before getting into a car or negotiate terms in advance, the researchers found."

Pastor to Make Controversial Sculpture Out of Purity Rings: Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber is inviting women who grew up during the purity movement to send her their purity rings so that she can melt them into a 'golden vagina' "

John Dingle, former Democratic Representative from Michigan, says, "I Served in Congress Longer Than Anyone. Here's How to Fix It. Abolish the Senate and publicly fund elections." I think this is simplistic and ignores numerous other causes of the problem. Once the high taxes on the rich were lowered, things were bound to go to Hell.

"US Labor Leader Says Case for Bernie Sanders 2020 Is Simple: His 'Life and Heart and Soul': 'I always say that heroes are not made, they're cornered," says RoseAnn DeMoro, former head of the National Nurses United. "And I've never seen anybody more cornered in my life than Bernie Sanders.'"

Glen Ford in Black Agenda Report, "Bernie Sanders Puts Forward a Program That Could Split the Democratic Party: Bernie Sanders has opened his 2020 campaign with a 10-point program that could bust the Democratic Party wide open — which would be best thing Bernie could do for the world. Bernie Sanders last week unveiled a 10-point legislative agenda that he believes will galvanize the Democratic base in much the way that Newt Gingrich's 1994 'Contract With America' propelled the GOP to its biggest electoral sweep since 1946 . The Vermont senator's wish list is genuinely impressive in sweep , a full-blown progressive domestic platform for his expected second run for the presidency in 2020. But the immediate obstacle to Sanders' proposals for Medicare-For-All, tuition-free public higher education, expanded Social Security, a $15 an hour minimum wage, 'bold action' on climate change, fixing the criminal justice system, comprehensive immigration reform, progressive tax reform, a $1 trillion infrastructure overhaul and cheaper prescription drugs, is not Donald Trump's GOP troglodytes -- it's Nancy Pelosi and her corporate Democrats, who answer to a much higher power: big capital."

Note to self: "19 Examples of Bernie Sanders' Powerful Record on Civil and Human Rights Since the 1950s"
Bernie Sanders voted for the 1994 tough-on-crime law. But it's complicated.

One of the less interesting criticisms I've heard from the alt-center of Bernie Sanders is that his use of the term "revolution" portends violence and horror. This is a deliberate and specious misreading of the word, but it's funny none of them had this criticism of the 1992 Democratic platform.

Okay, I think this looks like mom's irresistible Christmas cookies. I want some.

I was never bothered by the original song anyway, but here's a response to the criticism: "Baby, Just Go Outside"

02 December 2018

Oh, how they pound, raising the sound

Time to start the war against Bill O'Reilly's war on Christmas, so happy Advent and some traditional music to set the mood and the North Pole Advent Calendar (which now lets you cheat) while you're waiting. I like the funky little jigsaw puzzles.

"Jill Stein wins Election Reform in PA: Today, Green Party 2016 Presidential nominee Jill Stein announced the formal settlement of her 2016 lawsuit against the state of Pennsylvania. The lawsuit called for an end to the use of paperless voting machines known to be vulnerable to hacking, tampering and error, and for the reform of unworkable recount procedures that prevent verification of the vote. The settlement guarantees that Pennsylvania will provide new voting systems using paper ballots by 2020, followed in 2022 by automatic robust audits after every election to confirm the accuracy of the vote before results are certified."

"Senate defies White House on Saudi support in Yemen: The Senate delivered a stunning rebuke to the Trump administration on Wednesday, voting overwhelmingly to advance a measure yanking U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces at war in Yemen. The 63-37 vote, in which 14 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to move forward on the bipartisan Saudi resolution, came hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis failed to sway key undecided senators with an appeal to hold off lest they upset progress of nascent talks on a cease-fire in Yemen." Or as Ben Norton tweeted: This Sanders/Murphy/Lee resolution would force a withdrawal of US support for this unauthorized war, which created Earth's largest humanitarian crisis and pushed millions into famine." We are all amazed to see that no Democrat actually voted against this bill. All the bipartisanship came from the other direction, for a change - and it's the first bipartisan bill to pass the Senate in a long time that is an unmitigated good. It's reasonable to hope the House may pass it, but if Trump vetoes it, it's unlikely to get past the next Senate.

"Taxpayers — not Big Pharma — have funded the research behind every new drug since 2010: A sweeping study of drug R&D funding shows the public pays for the crucial foundations of medical breakthroughs. So why not let the public have access to them? Something odd happened when the Trump administration submitted the original version of its latest pro-corporate budget: Big Pharma didn't like it. The problem wasn't a tax hike or new regulations: the problem was that the budget included deep cuts to the budget of the National Institutes of Health. If those cuts had gone through, they would have exposed one of the biggest lies told about Big Pharma: that the current system of patents and price-gouging is just an unfortunate necessity to cover the cost of all their brave and noble R&D work. Trump's original spending proposal for fiscal year 2019, released last month, included major cuts to not just to the NIH, but the National Science Foundation as well. It is those two publicly funded entities — not Big Pharma — that support the bulk of the country's basic research into diseases and pathways to new treatments. That's why the cuts were especially unwelcome in the executive suites of drug and biotech companies. Their business models depend on Washington subsidizing expensive, high-risk basic research, mostly through the vast laboratory network funded by the NIH.

Juan Cole at Informed Comment, "Trump cuts Palestinians off at Knees, Ending $5 bn in US AID Support: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that all operations in the West Bank and Gaza will close by early 2019. Half of the agency's staff are expected to be let go in the coming weeks. USAID is one of the largest aid organizations in the region, supplying around US$5.5 billion to the occupied Palestinian territories for infrastructure, medical and social services, and humanitarian aid. There is currently no alternative in sight. Some US$215 million that the United States was to invest in humanitarian aid and development in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip has been withheld, according to an analysis for the U.S. Congress. U.S. financing for UNRWA has also been blocked as part of President Trump's blackmail tactics against the Palestinians."

"Ukraine Bans All Russian Men, Raising Tensions: Adding to growing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, and the broad Ukrainian hostility toward all things Russian, President Petro Poroshenko announced on Friday that he is banning all Russian men between the ages of 16 and 60 from the country. Officials are trying to tie this to last weekend's maritime incident with Russia, and Poroshenko is claiming it is to prevent Russian soldiers from sneaking into the country to 'destabilize' Ukraine before a war. In reality, it feels like a continuation of Poroshenko's anti-Russia policies which included harsh restrictions on the use of the Russian language, the sort of policies which fueled secessionist fervor in the mostly ethnic-Russian east. In the near term, the impact is mostly economic and cultural. Russian soloist Andrei Merkuriev, from the Bolshoi, reported that he was forbidden from attending a ballet in Odessa, a show which he was staging in the first place. Beyond this, Poroshenko announced new crackdowns on the Russian Orthodox church, ordering raids against important religious sites in the country. This comes amid his government's push to emphasize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox church."

RIP: "Director Nicolas Roeg dies aged 90." I think I only saw The Man Who Fell To Earth a couple of times, but I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've seen Performance. A friend who worked at the theater slipped me in to see it the first several times ("You gotta see this movie!"). I couldn't stop watching. (Still one of the best soundtracks ever.)

* * * * *

From Down With Tyranny!
"New Series: The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President-- Part I, Tulsi Gabbard [...] In Hawaii, she earned a reputation among her former colleagues in the State Legislature as one of their most bigoted contemporaries. She defined her local career as an outspoken anti-gay and anti-reproductive rights politician. Volumes of official records from the Hawaii State Legislative Reference Bureau tell Tulsi's story in her own words. Here, Tulsi, then Representative Tamayo, presents a floor speech against a measure supported by local hospitals that resolved to study the needs of LGBTQ students, who suffered the highest rates of suicide in the state...."

"The Worst Democraps Who Want To Be President-- Part II, Kirsten Gillibrand [...] Trump and the GOP will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars eviscerating anyone the Democrats run in 2020. But Gillibrand would be their easiest target to destroy, since she's laid so much of the groundwork herself."

"New Series: Democraps Who Are Calling Out To Be Primaried-- Meet California Blue Dog Jim Costa"

* * * * *

This is from September but kept forgetting to post it, even though I've listened to it several times since then. Matt Taibbi on The Michael Brooks Show, TMBS - 58 - Ten Years Of Not Jailing Bankers. I particularly liked the parts where they tear up Jamie Dimon (welfare queen) and Ben Bernenke.

"Pennsylvania Case Challenges 'Death By Incarceration' For 18-Year-Olds: Recent Supreme Court rulings have led to a review of life-without-parole sentences for crimes committed at age 17 and younger, but attorneys for Avis Lee say there's no reason to stop there."

Matt Taibbi, "Who Will Fix Facebook? In its effort to clamp down on fake news, Russian trolls and Nazis, the social media giant has also started banning innocent people, proving again it can't be trusted to regulate itself [...] We could have responded to the fake-news problem in a hundred different ways. We could have used European-style laws to go after Silicon Valley's rapacious data-collection schemes that incentivize clickbait and hyper-partisanship. We could have used anti-trust laws to tackle monopolistic companies that wield too much electoral influence. We could have recognized de facto mega-distributors as public utilities, making algorithms for things like Google searches and Facebook news feeds transparent, allowing legitimate media outlets to know how they're being regulated, and why. Instead, this story may be turning into one of the oldest narratives in politics: the misuse of a public emergency to suspend civil rights and concentrate power. One recurring theme of the fake-news controversy has been a willingness of those in power to use the influence of platforms like Facebook, rather than curtail or correct them. Accused of being an irresponsible steward of information, Facebook is now being asked to exercise potentially vast and opaque new powers."

"A group of students at Weill Cornell and Columbia explain why their CEO is wrong to oppose 'Medicare for All'

This is old and maybe I even posted it before and forgot, but I was listening to it just now and it was kinda spooky to hear Robert Scheer and Thomas Frank discussing the Democrats at the 2016 Democratic Convention.

Just sticking this here as a note to self: "What Bernie Sanders Got Done in Washington: A Legislative Inventory"

"Analysis: From Glasgow to Berlin - how strikes, mutinies and revolutions ended WW1: Official commemorations for the end of WW1 refuse to acknowledge how it ended."

Whovian Complaint Form (via)

Someone reminded me to watch the "Ode to Joy - Flash Mob Started by One Little Girl" video again.

You can read all of Will Shetterly's Warpship Victoria comic here.

23 November 2018

Thank you, as always

The colors change, the pages turn, and everything gets harder. There's no way I could ever tell you how grateful I am to you for still being here with me, but believe me, I am.

At this writing, all of the Senatorial elections have been called with the exception of the special election in Mississippi, where Mike Espy (D) and Cyndy Hyde-Smythe (R) are tied at 41% each. Dems picked up AZ and NV, and the GOP picked up FL, IN, MO, and ND.

"Iowa Democrat loses race by 7 votes — but officials refuse to count 29 absentee ballots from left-leaning county [...] 'About 29 absentee ballots from left-leaning Winneshiek County weren't counted. One of those was Liam's, and he says his ballot was mailed ahead of deadline,' tweeted Senapathy. While the ballots may have been mailed by the date, some post offices didn't postmark the ballots, so there was no verification of when the ballot was received. 'Here's where it gets disturbing. According to @52101news (Decorah Iowa News) Winneshiek County Auditor says the 29 ballots without a postmark will NOT be included in the vote totals because of specific rules about how mailing dates may be verified,' Senapathy went on. 'Meanwhile, as Liam explained to me, in neighboring, right-leaning Fayette County, ballots that weren't postmarked were 'accidentally' counted. This is against policy, but the claim is that it's too late to do anything about it. This is some rank BS.'"

Ari Berman in Mother Jones, "These Unheralded Democratic Wins Could Reshape Voting Rights Across the Country: Democrats took control of secretary of state jobs in Arizona, Colorado, and Michigan. Kyrsten Sinema's narrow victory in Arizona's US Senate race may have gotten all the attention, but Katie Hobbs' even narrower victory, declared five days later on Saturday, might say more about the future of the emerging purple state — and of voting rights across the country. Hobbs, a Democrat, will become Arizona's first Democratic secretary of state since 1995. The position is second-in-command to the governor, and it's a common stepping stone to the governor's mansion: Four of Arizona's last nine governors were previously secretaries of state, according to the Phoenix New Times. Just as important, Hobbs campaigned on an expansion of voting rights, and she will now oversee the state's elections, with the potential to reshape the electorate by improving access to the ballot for minority, young, and low-income voters. She was one of three Democrats who took over secretary of state jobs previously held by Republicans, joining Democratic victors in Michigan and Colorado. These races were unheralded next to congressional and gubernatorial races across the country, but these officials now have the power to enforce state voting laws in 2020, advocating and implementing practices that will make it easier to vote in critical swing states. [...] There's still one big secretary of state race outstanding, in Georgia, the epicenter of the fight over voter suppression in 2018. Rep. John Barrow, the last white Democrat from the Deep South in the House of Representatives, who lost his seat in 2014, is running to succeed Kemp. He trailed on Election Day by just 19,000 votes, so he's now in a runoff against Republican State Rep. Brad Raffensperger that takes place on December 4, with early voting beginning next week. Barrow has criticized Kemp's voter registration restrictions as 'plainly illegal' and has been an outspoken opponent of gerrymandering after Georgia Republicans redrew his district to oust him from Congress. 'Any thing we do that makes it harder than necessary for honest citizens to register, stay registered, or vote undermines their right to vote,' he wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday."

"House Progressives Are Facing An Unexpected Problem In The Quest For Committee Power [...] And yet, it's a precarious situation for the CPC. Several key retirements and the blue wave adding between 38 and 40 House Democrats has led to an unprecedented number of open slots on the money committees. The unsettled race for speaker provides a unique opportunity for influence. But if progressives cannot find the warm bodies willing to fill committee slots, they'll have put their reputation on the line in a bid for power, without being able to follow through."

Here's a nightmare scenario: "155 Democrats back Hoyer's bid for majority leader. This amidst complaints about Pelosi from the left while right-wing Democrats attack from the right. Those hot young Blue Dogs want a chance at her seat that they won't get if the party won't move farther to the right.

Another good move that passed at the polls, "What is Ballot Question E? Banning Water Privatization in the City of Baltimore" - "Inalienability of the Sewer and Water Systems". Everybody should do this.

"Somali Workers in Minnesota Force Amazon to Negotiate: Labor organizers and researchers said they had not heard of Amazon previously coming to the table after worker pressure, even for private discussions."

"Amazon Is Kicking All Unauthorized Apple Refurbishers Off Amazon Marketplace: Amazon told independent refurbishers that it will now only allow "authorized resellers" to sell Apple products on Amazon Marketplace. [...] Aaron Perzanowski, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University and coauthor of The End of Ownership, told me in an email that this decision is a dangerous infringement of ownership rights. 'Wow. This is a very troubling development,' he said. 'Given Amazon's dominance as an online retail marketplace, its decision to disregard the first sale rights of resellers will significantly limit consumer choice. The fact that this move was demanded by Apple makes it even more problematic. What we see here are the world's two most valuable companies engaging in a coordinated assault on the lawful resale of consumer devices.'"

Sirota, "Will New York Fund Amazon Subsidies or Student Debt Relief? New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made headlines begging Amazon to site its second headquarters in the state. Now, however, prominent Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly have slammed the idea of offering taxpayer subsidies to the retail giant. [...] Democratic Assemblyman Ron Kim announced that he will introduce legislation to slash New York's economic development subsidies and use the money to buy up and cancel student debt — a move he said would provide a bigger boost to the state's economy. The legislation, says Kim, would halt any Cuomo administration offer of taxpayer money to Amazon, which could reap up to $1 billion in tax incentives if it moves to Long Island City. The deal is a goodie bag for Amazon: It includes everything from a $325 million cash grant to a promise that taxpayers will help secure a helipad for Amazon executives."

Okay, this one is actually from National Review? "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Right about Amazon's Corporate Welfare: After a long process, Amazon finally announced that it will locate its new headquarters in New York and Virginia. Following the announcement, Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that 'Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.' As a result of her tweet, conservative commentators all over twitter and on shows like Fox Business's Varney & Co. are making fun of her. They argue that her reaction is yet more evidence that she doesn't get economics and that doesn't want New Yorkers and Virginians to get the thousands of jobs that will be created there thanks to the new headquarters. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Ocasio-Cortez is mostly correct on this matter, and her conservative critics are wrong. Handouts like this to Amazon and other prominent companies are appalling in their cronyism, pure and simple. I agree that she doesn't understand economics and that her socialist ideal is a recipe for fiscal and economic disaster. But her conservative critics reveal their own economic misunderstanding when they support targeted tax breaks as a means of creating jobs.

Derek Thomson in The Atlantic, "Amazon's HQ2 Spectacle Isn't Just Shameful — It Should Be Illegal: Each year, local governments spend nearly $100 billion to move headquarters and factories between states. It's a wasteful exercise that requires a national solution. [...] Every year, American cities and states spend up to $90 billion in tax breaks and cash grants to urge companies to move among states. That's more than the federal government spends on housing, education, or infrastructure. And since cities and states can't print money or run steep deficits, these deals take scarce resources from everything local governments would otherwise pay for, such as schools, roads, police, and prisons. [...] But there are three major problems with America's system of corporate giveaways. [...] Corporate America is getting all the help it doesn't need. You and I may not like it. But executives such as Jeff Bezos have no reason to care. They are winning by the rules of a broken game."

"Georgia Legislator, Arrested At Work, Says She Was 'Singled Out As A Black Female Senator': Georgia state Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) was arrested along with more than a dozen other protesters at the Georgia State Capitol on Tuesday afternoon at a demonstration asking the state to 'count every vote' from last week's gubernatorial election. Protesters shouted 'Let her go!' as Williams was handcuffed while the General Assembly was in session. [...] One of Williams' white male colleagues, state Rep. David Dreyer (D-Atlanta), went to the same protest with Williams for the same reason and was not arrested. He stood outside the jail after her arrest and spoke out about Williams' unfair treatment by Capitol police. Dreyer said he went down to the Capitol about the same time as Williams, 'but for some reason, Sen. Williams was treated differently than I was treated.'

"Ohio House passes 'Heartbeat Bill' restricting abortion after detection of fetal heartbeat: By a vote of 59 to 35, the Ohio House of Representatives once again passed the 'Heartbeat Bill.' The bill, considered by among the most restrictive abortion bills in the country, would ban abortion at the first detectable fetal heartbeat. That could come within the first six weeks of pregnancy. [...] The bill would first have to be voted on in the Senate, something Senate leaders have not yet decided on."

"Abortion clinics on edge after woman who shot Kansas doctor is released from prison: Abortion clinics across the country were taking extra precautions Wednesday after the anti-abortion activist who shot Wichita physician George Tiller in 1993 and committed a string of clinic attacks in several states was released from prison. Rachelle 'Shelley' Shannon, the Oregon woman whose actions once triggered a federal investigation into the possible existence of a national conspiracy of anti-abortion terrorists, had been living in a halfway house in Portland, Ore., since May. She has spent 25 years in custody. [...] News of Shannon's release has clinic operators on edge. In addition to showing no remorse for her actions, they say, Shannon has been visited in prison by several activists who believe that killing abortion doctors is an act of justifiable homicide. Clinic supporters also note that Tiller, a regular target of abortion protesters because he was one of a handful of doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions, was shot to death in 2009 by Kansas City-area anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder, who had admired Shannon and visited her many times in prison.

Maryland Matters with "2018 Election Cycle's Ups and Downs" reports some good news despite the way Ben Jealous was abandoned by the party.

By the way: Keith Ellison left a safe seat in Congress to run for Minnesota AG, realizing it would be terrible to leave that office to a Republican. He won, 49.1%-45.2%.

Lee Fang and Nick Surgey in The Intercept, "Lobbyist Documents Reveal Health Care Industry Battle Plan Against 'Medicare For All': NOW THAT THE midterms are finally over, the battle against 'Medicare for All' that has been quietly waged throughout the year is poised to take center stage. Internal strategy documents obtained by The Intercept and Documented reveal the strategy that private health care interests plan to use to influence Democratic Party messaging and stymie the momentum toward achieving universal health care coverage.

Right-wingers and Dem Donuts alike love to attack Bernie Sanders because his wife's attempt to save a failing college was not successful, and five years after the event, the head of Trump's presidential campaign complained about it to the FBI. There is actually news on this front that probably still won't shut them up: "Adviser says Bernie Sanders' wife cleared in college land deal investigation: A top adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday that the Vermont independent's wife, Jane Sanders, has been recently told by the US attorney in Vermont that they have closed an investigation into a land deal involving Burlington College during Jane Sanders' presidency." This is exactly the kind of nonsense Ken Starr pulled on the Clintons, but it had even fewer legs. What's weird is not that some right-wingers tried to talk it up, but that Democrats were doing the same thing, which is about like believing that Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster.

I hate to admit it, but not only is Maureen Dowd right, but it's an article that needed to be written. "Who's the Real American Psycho? [...] Even for Washington, the capital of do-overs and the soulless swamp where horrendous mistakes never prevent you from cashing in and getting another security clearance, this is a repellent spectacle. War criminals-turned-liberal heroes are festooned with book and TV contracts, podcasts and op-ed perches. Those who sold us the 'cakewalk' Iraq war and the outrageously unprepared Sarah Palin and torture as 'enhanced interrogation,' those who left the Middle East shattered with a cascading refugee crisis and a rising ISIS, and those who midwifed the birth of the Tea Party are washing away their sins in a basin of Trump hate. The very same Republicans who eroded America's moral authority in the 2000s are, staggeringly, being treated as the new guardians of America's moral authority. They bellow that Trump is a blight on democracy. But where were these patriots when the Bush administration was deceiving us with a cooked-up war in Iraq? How do you like your norms broken? Over Twitter or in a torture memo? By a tinpot demagogue stomping on checks and balances he can't even fathom or a shadowy authoritarian expertly and quietly dismantling checks and balances he knows are sacred? Before we had Trump's swarm of bloodsucking lobbyists gutting government regulations from within, we had Cheney's. Before Trump brazenly used the White House to boost his brand, we had Cheney wallowing in emoluments: He let his energy industry pals shape energy policy; he pushed to invade Iraq, giving no-bid contracts to his former employer, Halliburton, and helping his Big Oil cronies reap the spoils in Iraq. The movie opens at Christmas, but it's no sugary Hallmark fable. It's a harrowing cautionary tale showing that democracy can be sabotaged even more diabolically by a trusted insider, respected by most of the press, than by a clownish outsider, disdained by most of the press."

"Secret CIA Document Shows Plan to Test Drugs on Prisoners: Thanks to an ACLU victory in federal court, we know much more about how CIA doctors violated the medical oath to 'do no harm.' One of the most important lessons of the CIA's torture program is the way it corrupted virtually every individual and institution associated with it. Over the years, we have learned how lawyers twisted the law and psychologists betrayed their ethical obligations in order to enable the brutal and unlawful torture of prisoners. Now we've won the release of a 90-page account of the CIA's Office of Medical Services role in the CIA torture program — a secret history written by the top CIA medical official, whose identity remains classified."

Death of HHS official Daniel Best is ruled a suicide: WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Nov. 1 death of Daniel Best , a pharmaceutical executive from Bay Village who led U.S. Department of Health and Human Services efforts to lower prescription drug prices, has been ruled a suicide, officials in Washington, D.C., said Thursday. [...] The city's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Thursday said Best died from "multiple blunt force injuries" and it ruled his death a suicide. It would not release further information." What, he clubbed himself to death?

This article from May has recently been updated. "Did Rep. Adam Schiff Just Admit the US Has a Secret Indictment of Julian Assange?" Schiff's office responded to news that Assange would be happy to talk to him with, "Our committee would be willing to interview Julian Assange when he is in U.S. custody, not before." So, they want to terrorize him and, by proxy, all other journalists who might want to expose government corruption and crime. Last week The Washington Post reported, "Julian Assange has been charged, prosecutors reveal inadvertently in court filing."

"Jónasson: The Icelandic Minister who refused cooperation with the FBI [...] What happened was that in June 2011, US authorities made some approaches to us indicating they had knowledge of hackers wanting to destroy software systems in Iceland. I was a minister at the time. They offered help. I was suspicious, well aware that a helping hand might easily become a manipulating hand! Later in the summer, in August, they sent a planeload of FBI agents to Iceland seeking our cooperation in what I understood as an operation set up to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Since they had not been authorised by the Icelandic authorities to carry out police work in Iceland and since a crack-down on WikiLeaks was not on my agenda, to say the least, I ordered that all cooperation with them be promptly terminated and I also made it clear that they should cease all activities in Iceland immediately. It was also made clear to them that they were to leave the country. They were unable to get permission to operate in Iceland as police agents, but I believe they went to other countries, at least to Denmark. I also made it clear at the time that if I had to take sides with either WikiLeaks or the FBI or CIA, I would have no difficulty in choosing: I would be on the side of WikiLeaks."

Bruce Shapiro in The Nation, "The Indictment of Julian Assange Is a Threat to Press Freedom: If the First Amendment means anything, it is the right to obtain public-interest information from impure, indeed hopelessly tainted, sources."

"There Are 200 California Inmates Fighting the Camp Fire. After Prison, They Likely Won't Be Allowed to Become Firefighters: California's licensing laws mean inmates can risk their lives for less than $2 per day, but can't earn a living after they get out of prison.: About 200 inmates are among the thousands of firefighters still doing battle with the massive wildfire that has destroyed the town of Paradise, California, and killed at least 31 people. Once they are released from prison, however, most of them will be prohibited from joining the fire crews that they currently work alongside. It's a cruel irony that demonstrates just how difficult life can be for the formerly incarcerated — even those with needed, practical skills — who continue to be punished long after they have paid their debt to society, and bad policy that effectively prevents the state from calling upon well-trained, experienced firefighters when wildfires erupt."

Seems I missed it in September when the California legislature passed a bill to help protect PG&E from wildfire damage suits. "It was a balancing act, the Democratic senator from Napa said after months of furious lobbying over whether lawmakers were going too far in helping PG&E with what critics called a bailout for a utility that has been accused of putting profits before safety."

@StephenKinzer tweeted: I posted my @GlobeOpinion column about #Bolsonaro and #Brazil on @facebook a week ago. Now I see that beneath it is this notice: "This post goes against our Community Standards, so no one else can see it." Here's the column, what standards does it violate?" The column is called "Jair Bolsonaro threatens us all."

RIP: "Douglas Rain: Actor who voiced Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey dies," at 90. He also voiced an evil computer in Sleeper, along with some robot butlers.

RIP: Stan Lee, 95. I don't even have to tell you, do I?

RIP: "William Goldman, screenwriter of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All The President's Men, has died aged 87. Goldman, who received Oscars for both of those films, also wrote Marathon Man, Magic and The Princess Bride, which he adapted from his own novels. His memoir Adventures in the Screen Trade is famous for his memorable declaration that "nobody knows anything" about the movie business. He was also a noted "script doctor" who worked uncredited on many features. Born in Highland Park, Illinois in 1931, Goldman started out as a novelist before breaking into movies with 1965 spy caper Masquerade. He followed that with The Moving Target, also known as Harper, in which Paul Newman played a laconic private eye."

Some fascinating history of court decisions, some of which were passed for thoroughly racist reasons but later became the basis of civil rights actions (and decisions) - and civil rights decisions that were later used specifically to undermine civil rights: "Public Education, SCOTUS , & The Battle for the American Mind w/ Justin Driver - MR, on The Majority Report.

Matt Taibbi, "Bernie Sanders Opens Up About New Democrats in Congress, Taking on Trumpism [...] I absolutely believe that from day one, the Democrats in the House have got to come out with a progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of working people. And that leads to — as you know, the Medicare-for-all bill I introduced, which is to be implemented over four years, lowers the eligibility age from 65 to 55, covers all of the children, and lowers the cost of prescription drugs. My guess is that about 80-percent of the American people would support a proposal like that. It's wildly popular. And that's what the Democrats have got to do. They've got to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour, they've got to make public colleges tuition-free and they've got to lower student debt. All of these proposals are enormously popular. And they're good public policy. And here's what I think, Matt, that maybe nobody else in the world believes. As you know, Trump is a 100-percent political opportunist, who has no political views other than how he can win elections." I adored Bernie's response to being told that The Washington Post advised Democrats to avoid "fire-breathing" progressives and to stick to moderates.

Matt Taibbi, "Forget 'Conventional Wisdom': There Are No More Moderates: Beware the latest call to 'move to the center' — which is just the same old tune, re-packaged [...] Voters are not skittish, brainless creatures afraid of strong policy proposals. That more accurately describes the politicians and corporate donors who are invested in things staying as they are. Most actual people are living on the edge financially, are angry, and will take policy help from anywhere they can get it."

Libby Watson at Splinter News, "House Democrats Balk at Prospect of Being Good [...] Meanwhile, on the financial end of things, Nancy Pelosi endorsed a list of changes to House rules, including a rule to 'create a supermajority requirement to raise individual income taxes on the lowest-earning four-fifths of taxpayers.' That is a disastrous idea. Alan Essig, executive director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, noted the rule 'could make it difficult, as a practical matter, to raise taxes — on the rich — without making the tax code a complicated mess. This is because few changes in the federal income tax would affect no one in the bottom 80 percent.' Such rules have also been disastrous at the state level, and tax rates in states with supermajority rules are comparable to those without them. But more importantly, it sends entirely the wrong message: that taxation is among the gravest, most serious things Congress can do. Congress doesn't need a supermajority to declare war, but it should have one to raise taxes? If we're going to play this game, there are tons of other things Democrats could require a supermajority for — cutting Medicare or Social Security, for example, or selling off any new public lands. All this does is affirm Republicans' world view that taxation is among the most vicious evils the government can force on its citizens. "

Lordy, Alex Pareene in The Washington Post, of all places, "Political power never lasts. Democrats need to use theirs while they have it. [...] With Democrats about to control the House of Representatives again, I have been thinking about that last majority: what it achieved, what it was too cautious to attempt and what that caution actually bought. Because we may be asking the same questions about the next Democratic majority sooner than we think. The lesson of the careful restraint that Democrats showed the last time they controlled either chamber of Congress — and of the Republican ferocity since then — is simple: Your job is not to win power and then maintain it. Your job is to win power and then use it, with the knowledge that you won't have it forever or even, most likely, for very long at all." (via)

And Pareene in the HuffPo, "In Journalism About Race, A Tinge Of Denial: The only appeal the conservative movement has left is white panic. Why is that story still so hard to tell? As the midterms hurtle to an astonishingly racist close, the nonpartisan political press has continued to rely on the old 'racially tinged' euphemisms, taking care not to draw any conclusions about the party doing all the race-baiting. Call it denial-tinged journalism."

Is it really possible that more people wanted to vote for every other elective office than wanted to vote for US Senator in Broward County?

Paul Rosenberg has an optimistic take on the midterms, "Reflections on a blue wave: How progressive activists drove a historic victory: Several progressive Democrats won this week. But even when they didn't, activists drove the blue wave to victory." And helped develop infrastructure that can be used again.

Pierce, "Democrats Can't 'Work With' Republicans Until Republicans Return to Reality: There are two things to remember as we go forward. First, there is absolutely no reason for Democratic congresscritters to assume good faith on any subject on the part of their Republican colleagues. Second, the most notable thing about the Problem Solvers Caucus is that it never has solved a single problem."

"'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda': 'This is a very bad idea, House Democrats. It makes no sense whatsoever to give Republicans veto power over progressive legislation.'"

"46 Minutes With Barbara Lee Talking Iraq, poverty, and getting a seat at the table with the House's lefty conscience."

David Atkins at The Washington Monthly, "Counting All the Votes Is Not a Surprise or a Rollercoaster: We need to change the way elections are reported in America. [...] But at the end of the day, TV networks want to send their viewers to bed with answers, journalists need definitive copy for the Wednesday morning edition and op-ed writers must deliver their scheduled smart takes. The result is that election night coverage is considered the default version of events, and ballots counted in the days and weeks afterward an afterthought or exciting aberration. States like California that make expansive efforts to count every eligible vote and give voters maximum opportunities to make their voices heard are resented as disrupters of the natural order, inconveniences to the unity of the narrative. So when results change in close races several days after Election Tuesday, it is treated as a remarkable phenomenon. Headlines describe lead changes as 'roller coasters' and 'dramatic comebacks.' Unsurprisingly, when Republicans find themselves as usual on the short end of such reversals their politicians and media outlets increasingly insinuate dark allegations to their base about voter fraud and ballot stuffing. After all, why else would these late results continually go against them? They feel that contests rightfully won on election night are being taken from them. And the press generally does the truth no favors in this regard. If a race is too close to call and hundreds of thousands of mostly urban and provisional ballots remain outstanding, the press will treat the race as an open question even when the Republican is behind, leaving conservatives to believe that results could go either direction even when they invariably will not. Just yesterday an NPR show in Southern California nonsensically suggested that despite the widening lead for Democrat Harley Rouda against Republican incumbent Dana Rohrabacher, in California's 48th congressional district, Rohrabacher could still 'come back' to retake it based on the (mostly Democratic-leaning) precincts and provisional ballots remaining. This type of electoral coverage must change. Readers, viewers and listeners deserve the truth and an accurate prediction of reality."

Luke Savage in Jacobin, "American Politics Could Use More Conflict: Decrying 'tribalism' is a favorite pastime of American elites, but the real problem is the unity among them. [...] Conflict of this kind ultimately has little to do with noxious debates broadcast on cable news or with a political class that theatrically stages them while tapping the same corporate donors and casually dishing about Social Security privatization across the tables of opulent D.C. restaurants. The fact is that beneath the facade of intra-elite camaraderie amid televised partisan rancor, there remain deep and abiding political disagreements between Americans that will only be resolved when one side is defeated or lays down arms. This is, I believe, the main reason elites and members of the intelligentsia broadly invested in status quo ultimately see salvation in a mythic kingdom without conflict or meaningfully distinctive parties to institutionalize it. It's also why so many of them seem determined to pathologize political differences as random sociological spasms rather than expressions of genuine grievances, progressive or prejudicial as the case may be: plenty of them, whether they care to admit it or not, privately pine for a place where the interests they share can be safely negotiated unfettered by the irritants of democratic politics or the headaches they tend to create."

"Here's the real reason health care costs so much more in the US [...] Per capita, the U.S. spent $9,403. That's nearly double what the others spent. This finding offers a new explanation as to why America's spending is so excessive. According to the researchers at the Harvard Chan School, what sets the U.S. apart may be inflated prices across the board. In the U.S., they point out, drugs are more expensive. Doctors get paid more. Hospital services and diagnostic tests cost more. And a lot more money goes to planning, regulating and managing medical services at the administrative level. In other areas, despite conventional wisdom, there seems to be less discrepancy between the U.S. and other countries than commonly thought. Experts have previously suggested high utilization rates could explain high spending in the U.S. But looking at hospital discharge rates for various procedures, such as knee and hip replacements and different types of heart surgeries, the researchers found that use of care services in the U.S. is not so different compared to other countries. In fact, compared to the average of all the nations, Americans appear to go to the doctor less often and spend fewer days in the hospital after being admitted. [...] The real difference between the American health care system and systems abroad is pricing."

"This Is the Amount of Money You Need to Be Happy, According to Research: Money really can buy happiness, as it turns out — but you might not need as much as you think. A large analysis published in the journal Nature Human Behavior used data from the Gallup World Poll, a survey of more than 1.7 million people from 164 countries, to put a price on optimal emotional well-being: between $60,000 and $75,000 a year. That aligns with past research on the topic, which found that people are happiest when they make about $75,000 a year. But while that may be the sweet spot for feeling positive emotions on a day-to-day basis, the researchers found that a higher figure — $95,000 — is ideal for 'life evaluation,' which takes into account long-term goals, peer comparisons and other macro-level metrics. [...] Money really can buy happiness, as it turns out — but you might not need as much as you think. A large analysis published in the journal Nature Human Behavior used data from the Gallup World Poll, a survey of more than 1.7 million people from 164 countries, to put a price on optimal emotional well-being: between $60,000 and $75,000 a year. That aligns with past research on the topic, which found that people are happiest when they make about $75,000 a year. But while that may be the sweet spot for feeling positive emotions on a day-to-day basis, the researchers found that a higher figure — $95,000 — is ideal for 'life evaluation,' which takes into account long-term goals, peer comparisons and other macro-level metrics."

"Revolutionary Socialism And The Black Panther Party [...] As Fred Hampton of the esteemed Chicago chapter stated, 'You don't fight racism with racism. We're gonna fight racism with solidarity. You don't fight capitalism with Black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.' [...] At the same time, these were the same revolutionaries whose party motto was: All power to the people! Black power to Black people! Brown power to Brown people! White power to white people! Panther power to the Black Panther Party!"

"GOP Jesus"

Mattell has released a Doctor Who Barbie.

"Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Painting Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes."

I like the look of The Radical Literary Calendar 2019, although it has an obvious flaw. But the idea is good and it's the calendar layout I like.

The complete animated Discworld film,"Wyrd Sisters"

The Beatles live at the BBC, "Thank You, Girl"