Tuesday, January 23, 2018

But it all amounts to nothing if together we don't stand

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, "The Same Democrats Who Denounce Donald Trump as a Lawless, Treasonous Authoritarian Just Voted to Give Him Vast Warrantless Spying Powers [...] LEADING THE CHARGE against reforms of the FBI's domestic spying powers was Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee who, in countless TV appearances, has strongly insinuated, if not outright stated, that Trump is controlled by and loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Indeed, just this weekend, in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Schiff accused Trump of corruptly abusing the powers of the DOJ and FBI in order to vindictively punish Hilary Clinton and other political enemies. Referring to Trump's various corrupt acts, Schiff pronounced: 'We ought to be thinking in Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, beyond these three years what damage may be done to the institutions of our democracy.' Yet just two days later, there was the very same Adam Schiff, on the House floor, dismissing the need for real safeguards on the ability of Trump's FBI to spy on Americans. In demanding rejection of the warrant requirement safeguard, Schiff channeled Dick Cheney - and the Trump White House - in warning that any warrant requirements would constitute 'a crippling requirement in national security and terrorism cases.'"

Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to Sam Seder about what was happening Friday in the government shut-down, on The Majority Report.

Dave Weigel talked to Sammy about the Wisconsin Election Surprise.

"New federal court order green lights Republican efforts to 'supercharge voter suppression': For the first time in 35 years, the RNC won't be under a consent decree." This basically means it's okay for them to do things that are illegal.

"Time's running out for Cuomo to call meaningful Senate special election: Editorial: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Jan. 3 State of the State address took about 92 minutes; his delivery at the Capitol was accompanied by a 374-page booklet. And yet, Cuomo whispered nary a word about calling a special election to fill the two Senate and nine Assembly seats now vacant." One of the weirder things hardly anyone ever seems to notice is that the New York legislature is controlled by Republicans. And it's thanks to Cuomo and "Democrats" like him that we have this situation. It's not a natural consequence of the desires of the citizens of the state of New York. The details of the current situation are... curious.

This is just weird. "Newsweek's headquarters just got a visit from the police: Cops came to the headquarters of Newsweek and IBT Media at 7 Hanover Square this morning." There's no clear explanation for why this happened. Cops took pictures of their servers. They seem to have been sent by the DA's office as part of an "investigation" but no one knows what they were investigating.

Alleen Brown at The Intercept, "Five Spills, Six Months In Operation: Dakota Access Track Record Highlights Unavoidable Reality - Pipelines Leak"

Haaretz, "How a U.S. Quaker Group That Won the Nobel Peace Prize Ended Up on Israel's BDS Blacklist: American Friends Service Committee was honored in 1947 for its work helping victims of the Nazis, but 70 years on has been declared an enemy of the Israeli state. Peace activists are baffled by the move, but critics say it is richly deserved."

Luke Barnes at Think Progress, "IRS paid private debt collectors $20 million to recoup $6.7 million from low-income Americans: Math does not appear to be their strong suit." But that's not an IRS decision, it's a higher-level policy decision about who the IRS chases. It used to be taken for granted that there was more to be gained by going after wealthy tax-evaders, who were usually holding out on lots of money. There are much bigger returns on going after a billionaire than there are on going after a slew of ordinary households that might have held out on less money than the audit costs to pursue. Going after rich people annoys rich people, so the Bush administration reversed this policy. I don't recall hearing anything about Obama reverting to the previous norm, so now it's an ongoing waste of money and time - or at least, it is if you think the IRS is about collecting money to be used for the running of the federal government and its services. But it isn't. A policy of harassing the hoi polloi while letting the wealthy skate on much larger infractions is a values judgment, not a fiscal calculus. It tells you straight up that taxation isn't about paying for the government.

I'd never heard of Aflac until now, but David Dayen says it turns out to be one big, nasty pyramid scheme.

Black Agenda Report, "Donkey In A Hole: Don't Expect Democrats To Change Much in 2018 [...] And given the corporate media coverage of Trump and 'the Donalds' low popularity ratings, relegating Trump to a one-term Presidency should be a relatively easy task. However, few signs show that the Democratic Party can complete the task in a period marked by instability and crisis. Polls indicate Trump maintains a slightly higher approval rating than the entire Democratic Party. That's because the Democratic Party spent eight years under Obama waging an assault on workers and poor people in the US, especially its most loyal base of support in Black America. Black American wealth plummeted , and poverty increased exponentially under the first Black President. War, austerity, and police-state politics defined the Obama era."

CMike provides a link to a story from November, "19 more Colorado cities and counties vote in favor of city-owned internet, while Fort Collins approves $150 million to move forward: The 19 join nearly 100 others that have gained the right to explore whether municipal broadband is feasible. Voters in Vail, Louisville and 17 other Colorado cities and counties Tuesday voted to take internet service into their own hands in a move that could lead to providing citizens an alternative to the entrenched cable internet provider. Fort Collins voters, who voted to do so two years ago, passed a measure to finance exploration of a city-owned broadband utility. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which has tracked broadband votes for years, the 19 cities and counties join about 100 others in the state that previously opted out of Senate Bill 152. That bill, passed in 2005, restricts local governments from using taxpayer dollars to build their own broadband networks. 'These cities and counties recognize that they cannot count on Comcast and CenturyLink alone to meet local needs, which is why you see overwhelming support even in an off-year election,' Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said in a statement. Passage, however, doesn't mean cities and counties will start offering their own broadband internet service. In 2005, cable and internet providers campaigned to stop cities from offering internet service. At the time, Steve Davis, an executive at Qwest, which is now CenturyLink, told The Rocky Mountain News, 'I think it's inappropriate for public tax dollars to be invested in competitive businesses. At minimum, taxpayers should have the opportunity (to vote on the matter).'"

"The 'Capitalized Womb': A Review of Ned and Constance Sublette's The American Slave Coast"

I wish I could make everyone watch this 6:29 video on The Basics of Modern Money.

This is from FiveThirtyEight last January but it's worth paying attention to, because white racists don't usually make much noise (or make much headway when they do) if most people are getting reasonable rewards for their work and seeing a decent future for themselves and their families ahead. They don't piss and moan and wave torches around if black and other funny-colored people are doing well if they are also doing well. But even if you have a reasonably secure situation yourself, you feel economic anxiety when you look around and see a lot of foreclosed houses in your area, a lot of shops that seem to be permanently closed, know a number of people who've been foreclosed on and lost their homes, and your kid - who is better educated than you were - sees only joining the military to fight endless wars as a career option (and many of your friends have lost kids in our military adventures already, or have kids returned to civilian life to languish in their parents' homes with physical injuries and severe emotional problems), that's a whole other thing. Maybe you've even already seen your best friends grieving because their grandchild came back from deployment in a box, and you know that in an earlier time, that kid would have gone to college (maybe even for free) and gotten a good job that didn't put them in harm's way. You don't have to be conscious of even knowing this, just know that this isn't how it used to be, this isn't how it was supposed to be. And you'd be right, because an evil change has come over America. And you can claim all you want that it's the Republicans and their official policies that created this disaster, but when some of the worst excesses were directly caused by Carter, Clinton, and Obama, you might not be crazy to blame the Democrats, whose rhetoric you'd swear means they have something against white men just for being white men and they only want to help poor black women. You don't realize that they don't help poor black women, because what you hear is that that's who they want to help and they for sure don't want to help you. (Meanwhile, you should hear how a lot of black military guys who would never ever vote for a Republican talk about how badly the military was treated under Obama.) "Stop Saying Trump's Win Had Nothing To Do With Economics." Oh, and one more thing: Clinton may have won the lower economic strata, but she also won up at the top, too.

Barbara O'Brien has also been writing about this, in "Democrats: Big Tent, Yes, but With Parameters [...] I'm arguing that in many parts of the country that voted for Trump, the economic anxiety fuels racism and keeps it as alive as if the past 50 years hadn't happened. Otherwise, a lot of it might have dissipated by now."

"Garbage collectors open library with abandoned books: A library in Ankara gives new meaning to the notion that books are timeless. Garbage collectors in the Turkish capital have opened a public library comprised entirely of books once destined for the landfills."

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Chart: "Life Expectancy vs. Health Expenditure Over Time (1970-2014)"

"Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2014 Update: How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally"

"The U.S. Spends More Public Money on Healthcare Than Sweden or Canada"

Health System Tracker

Top Senate recipients of donations from pharmaceutical manufacturers

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Paul Street reviews Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, "Obama: a Hollow Man Filled With Ruling Class Ideas [...] The irony here is that one can consult Rising Star to determine the basic underlying accuracy of Reed’s acerbic description. My foremost revelation from Rising Star is that Obama was fully formed as a fake-progressive neoliberal-capitalist actor well before he ever received his first big money campaign contribution. He’s headed down the same ideological path as the Clintons even before Bill Clinton walks into the Oval Office. Obama’s years in the corporate-funded foundation world, the great ruling and professional class finishing schools Columbia University Harvard Law, and the great neoliberal University of Chicago’s elite Law School were more than sufficient to mint him as a brilliant if 'vacuous to repressive neoliberal.'".


A friend of mine started a blog and he's begun with telling a little story about having stumbled on an interesting little genealogical tidbit, with "The Death of William Van Meter - Part One" and Part Two.

SOLIDARITY: Yes, it really happened, although it had faded into legend for 20 years. In 1984, a small group of gay activists decided to support the families of striking coal miners and struck up a relationship with a mining community in Wales, much to the surprise of everyone. Many credit that relationship with the ultimate passage of gay rights in the United Kingdom. I urge you to google and find out more, and to see the whole 2014 docudrama about these people, but just the ending is enough to make many people cry: Pride. (Dominic West does a lovely job of playing Jonathan Blake, by the way. Blake talks about it all here.) For more to the story, here's a good interview that provides another poignant moment and a coda to the short life and magnificent project of Mark Ashton.


  1. I think my Wobbly rogue Mennonite grandfather would have been proud to be declared an enemy of the Israeli state. Israel is a Terrorist State. The Mother of All Terrorist States. An utterly foreign occupier perpetrating an American Taxpayer conceived, financed and morally sanctioned genocide on the indigenous population of Palestine. It has no "right" to exist and this world will never know Peace until it does not.

    Life was a lot better here, when we wore the Union label. We need to unionize, again.

  2. Your quote from Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama is all too true, but as you know not every alumnus of "the great ruling and professional class finishing schools" has been "minted as ... a brilliant if 'vacuous to repressive neoliberal.'" One contrary example is Renato Mariotti, one of the many candidates in the Democratic primary for Illinois Attorney General: from a blue-collar family, the first in his family to attend college, and yet despite (?) having attended the University of Chicago as an undergraduate, followed by Yale Law School, he a true progressive - the most progressive candidate in the race and the only one in the primary without links to the Machine. Full disclosure: I'm a Mariotti supporter (and also alumnus of U of Chicago and Yale, though long before Mariotti) and like him I was a Bernie supporter. Mariotti is also a very experienced prosecutor: see his recent interesting article in Politico https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/26/mueller-trump-obstruction-of-justice-russia-216532?lo=ap_a1 He would fight effectively against wage theft and corruption.

  3. I almost forgot. It's my 13th blogging anniversary and here's what i have to say about it.