Monday, March 19, 2018

Don't stay too long

Democrat wins deep-red PA district; Republican turn-out was normal, but Democrats showed up. Pennsylvania Special Election Results: Lamb Wins 18th Congressional District

Charlie Pierce, "Conor Lamb's Victory Matters, and Paul Ryan Should Be Scared: Republicans had the money. They had the gerrymandering. They still couldn't do it. In his victory speech, which came before anyone had called the race, which MSNBC's Brian Williams couldn't resist telling his audience, Lamb interestingly leaned very hard on thanking the support he'd received from organized labor. In fact, he talked more — and more sincerely — about unions in that speech than any candidate I've heard since the beginning of Bernie Sanders' campaign back in 2015. This is beyond encouraging. I am sure that Lamb is going to take some positions that are going to make me crazy. (If he takes a dive on guns in this historical moment, or if he really becomes part of an effort to make, say, Tim Ryan the speaker of a newly elected Democratic House, the shebeen will not be pleased.) But telling labor that he owes his victory largely to its effort, and actually meaning it, is a very welcome — and an extremely shrewd — move for a rookie, and it evinces the kind of awareness that he's going to need to win re-election in whatever district he has to run in when this one disappears."

Ryan Cooper in Common Dreams, "Can Democrats Think Strategically About Trump Country? If Democrats are going to win in places like western Pennsylvania, they have to formulate an ideological and political stance that reverses the last generation of weak and elitist neoliberal Democratic Party policy."

"Philadelphia's New Top Prosecutor Is Rolling Out Wild, Unprecedented Criminal Justice Reforms: Philadelphia's newly minted district attorney, Larry Krasner, was meeting constituents in a packed church in West Philadelphia earlier this month to discuss his plans for the job. The meeting was unique in that it quickly revealed to community members what local civic leaders and officials have already learned about Krasner: He is making good on his promise to revolutionize the job of district attorney and, in the process, offering an extraordinary experiment in criminal justice reform at the municipal level that could serve as a national model. [...] On Tuesday, Krasner issued a memo to his staff making official a wave of new policies he had announced his attorneys last month. The memo starts: 'These policies are an effort to end mass incarceration and bring balance back to sentencing.' The most significant and groundbreaking reform is how he has instructed assistant district attorneys to wield their most powerful tool: plea offers. Over 90 percent of criminal cases nationwide are decided in plea bargains, a system which has been broken beyond repair by mandatory minimum sentences and standardized prosecutorial excess. In an about-face from how these transactions typically work, Krasner's 300 lawyers are to start many plea offers at the low end of sentencing guidelines. For most nonviolent and nonsexual crimes, or economic crimes below a $50,000 threshold, Krasner's lawyers are now to offer defendants sentences below the bottom end of the state's guidelines. So, for example, if a person with no prior convictions is accused of breaking into a store at night and emptying the cash register, he would normally face up to 14 months in jail. Under Krasner's paradigm, he'll be offered probation. If prosecutors want to use their discretion to deviate from these guidelines, say if a person has a particularly troubling rap sheet, Krasner must personally sign off."

David Dayen at The Intercept, "Democrats offer last-minute, pretend defense of fair lending laws, as they prepare to weaken them: IN A FINAL indignity, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., has offered an amendment essentially striking a controversial provision from bipartisan bank deregulation bill S.2155 that would limit tools prosecutors use to detect mortgage lending discrimination, while acknowledging that the amendment probably wouldn't get a vote — and wouldn't be necessary for his ultimate support. At issue is Section 104, which exempts all banks and credit unions issuing 500 mortgages or less a year from enhanced Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, or HMDA, data requirements used to identify lending discrimination. This would cover 85 percent of all regulated mortgage lenders from the new requirements, which were part of the Dodd-Frank Act."

David Dayen at The New Republic, "The Government's Taxes on Citizens' Free Time: The Trump administration's latest shenanigans add to the growing, everyday burden of being an American. [...] Why must Americans become part-time accountants, just to follow the rules of society? Both parties are responsible for layering these responsibilities on citizens, choosing complication over simplicity and offloading that complexity onto the individual."

Zaid Jilani at The Intercept, "States That Have Decriminalized Marijuana Should Expunge Prior Pot Convictions, Activists Say: A GROUP OF legal activists is calling on district attorneys in eight states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana to take the next logical step: expunge the records of people charged with misdemeanors related to marijuana possession. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an advocacy group, sent letters to 201 officials in eight states: Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington last week, pointing out that current procedures to expunge convictions for misdemeanor marijuana possession are cumbersome. The committee encouraged the district attorneys to follow the lead of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who announced in January that he would expunge and then dismiss thousands of misdemeanor and felony marijuana possession cases going back to 1975.

"German cities to trial free public transport to cut pollution: Plan to be tested in five cities in effort to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines: 'Car nation' Germany has surprised neighbours with a radical proposal to reduce road traffic by making public transport free, as Berlin scrambles to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines. The move comes just over two years after Volkswagen's devastating 'dieselgate' emissions cheating scandal unleashed a wave of anger at the auto industry, a keystone of German prosperity."

"Nancy Pelosi Just Endorsed a Congressman Who Opposes Abortion and Gay Rights: Dan Lipinski even voted against Obamacare. Illinois Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski's career is on life-support. The seven-term congressman from the Chicago area, who inherited his seat from his father, is facing a formidable primary challenge from businesswoman Marie Newman, whose campaign has been fueled by progressive anger at Lipinski's opposition to reproductive rights, LGBT rights, and Obamacare. EMILY's List, the national organization that supports pro-choice women candidates, has backed Newman and, along with a host of progressive groups — including Planned Parenthood and the pro-LGBT rights Human Rights Campaign — has spent heavily on ads against Lipinski Elected Democrats — including New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and fellow Chicago-area Rep. Jan Schakowsky — have waded into the primary to back Newman. And in an unusual step for a race with a Democratic incumbent, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had declined to endorse Lipinski. But on Thursday, less than three weeks before the March 20 primary, Lipinski did pick up one notable supporter: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi."

"U.S. judges see 'epidemic' of prosecutorial misconduct in state: The hearing seemed largely routine until a state prosecutor approached the lectern. Deputy Atty. Gen. Kevin R. Vienna was there to urge three judges on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold murder convictions against Johnny Baca for two 1995 killings in Riverside County. Other courts had already determined that prosecutors had presented false evidence in Baca's trial but upheld the verdicts anyway. Vienna had barely started his argument when the pummeling began."

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "The subtle racism of centrist Democrats: Quisling Senate Democrats are collaborating with congressional Republicans and President Trump to roll back the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. So far they have broken a filibuster, and the bill looks set for passage. It's an immensely horrible idea that significantly raises the risk of a future financial crisis. However, it should also be emphasized that this deregulation package is racist both in specifics and in general effect. It's a perfect demonstration of how centrist Democrats sell out their most loyal voting bloc to predatory Wall Street banks." (I actually don't think it's all that subtle, myself. To me, all this deregulating and defending the banks has always screamed, "Steal black wealth!" to me. Yes, steal a lot of white wealth, too, but there have been numerous structural means used longer than my lifetime to make it harder for black people to get "real property" than it is for whites, and since having that land and home make an enormous difference to the success of a family, allowing the financial industry to continue to make both acquiring and keeping real property especially difficult for black people is a blatant and direct racist attack on black America.)

"If You Care About Sex Trafficking, Trust People in the Sex Trades — Not Celebrities: When I use my writing platform to discuss my sex work history and advocate for people who are currently in the sex trades, one of the occupational hazards I resent the most is the demand that I prove my legitimacy by reliving past traumas. Another is the unending task of learning the ins and outs of misleadingly labeled federal legislation that would be disastrous for sex workers. But learn it, I do, and you should too as a horrific bill, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 (SESTA), inches closer to a Senate vote."

"The article removed from Forbes, 'Why White Evangelicalism Is So Cruel' [...] There is still today a Southern Baptist Church. More than a century and a half after the Civil War, and decades after the Methodists and Presbyterians reunited with their Yankee neighbors, America's most powerful evangelical denomination remains defined, right down to the name over the door, by an 1845 split over slavery. Southern denominations faced enormous social and political pressure from plantation owners. Public expressions of dissent on the subject of slavery in the South were not merely outlawed, they were a death sentence. Baptist ministers who rejected slavery, like South Carolina's William Henry Brisbane, were forced to flee to the North. Otherwise, they would end up like Methodist minister Anthony Bewley, who was lynched in Texas in 1860, his bones left exposed at local store to be played with by children. Whiteness offered protection from many of the South's cruelties, but that protection stopped at the subject of race. No one who dared speak truth to power on the subject of slavery, or later Jim Crow, could expect protection. Generation after generation, Southern pastors adapted their theology to thrive under a terrorist state."

The Hill, "Sanders: DCCC primary attacks on other Dems 'not acceptable': Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Wednesday that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's attacks on a progressive House candidate in Texas were "appalling" and 'unacceptable.'" I still get bugged by Clinton's claim that the "long primary" hurt her in the general. It wasn't a long primary. It started more than a whole summer later than the primaries for the 2008 election, which didn't hurt Obama at all in the general.

Also at The Hill, Brent Budowsky says, "A Sanders-Warren ticket could win big in 2020 [...] Whether one supports Sanders or any other potential candidate in 2020, the case is clear that a strong progressive program and message would give Democrats a decided advantage in any campaign against the scandal-ridden and crony-capitalist-dominated presidency of Trump and his GOP allies in Congress."

"The CIA Democrats: Part one: An extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The potential influx of military-intelligence personnel into the legislature has no precedent in US political history. If the Democrats capture a majority in the House of Representatives on November 6, as widely predicted, candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress. They will hold the balance of power in the lower chamber of Congress. If the Democrats capture a majority in the House of Representatives on November 6, as widely predicted, candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress. They will hold the balance of power in the lower chamber of Congress."

The California Democrats did not endorse Diane Feinstein this year, so it's hardly a surprise that Sanders won't endorse Feinstein, either.

Elizabeth Bruenig in, amazingly, The Washington Post, says, "It's time to give socialism a try: In the United States, we've arrived at a pair of mutually exclusive convictions: that liberal, capitalist democracies are guaranteed by their nature to succeed and that in our Trumpist moment they seem to be failing in deeply unsettling ways. For liberals — and by this I mean inheritors of the long liberal tradition, not specifically those who might also be called progressives — efforts to square these two notions have typically combined expressions of high anxiety with reassurances that, if we only have the right attitude, everything will set itself aright. Hanging on and hoping for the best is certainly one approach to rescuing the best of liberalism from its discontents, but my answer is admittedly more ambitious: It's time to give socialism a try."

Matt Taibbi, "Russiagate may have been aimed at Trump to start, but it's become a way of targeting all dissent [...] If you don't think that the endgame to all of this lunacy is a world where every America-critical movement from Black Lives Matter to Our Revolution to the Green Party is ultimately swept up in the collusion narrative along with Donald Trump and his alt-right minions, you haven't been paying attention."

"How A Twitter Fight Over Bernie Sanders Revealed A Network Of Fake Accounts: One Democratic Party consultant said an unnamed client controlled many of these accounts." Basically, a bunch of bots used to promote hateful, divisive tweets against Bernie Sanders.

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest On Trump's Steel/Aluminum Tariffs And So-Called 'Trade' Generally: I agree with the tariffs, but not the way it is being done. It should have been planned, phased in, coordinated with US industry and, most important, part of a comprehensive US economic/trade/industrial policy. The latter just isn't going to happen under Trump nor under a Wall Street dominated economy even with Democrats running things."

Thomas Kline MD, PhD, "February, 2018 update of PAIN RELATED SUICIDES associated with forced opioid pain medication reductions and discontinuations as recommended by the CDC and by Andrew Kolodny, M.D. and his 'Physicians for Responsible Opiate Prescribing' (PROP)" — I don't expect anyone to read all of this but it shouldn't take much reading to recognize that this is a cruel and vile situation.

In The Nation, It's Time to Abolish ICE: A mass-deportation strike force is incompatible with democracy and human rights."

Max Sawicky reviews Fair Shot: BY THE STANDARDS OF FACEBOOK'S TITANS, co-founder Chris Hughes was an also-ran. His payout from early participation in the company's launch, which stemmed from the good fortune of having been Mark Zuckerberg's college roommate, was only $500 million. To his credit, Hughes — a former fundraiser for Barack Obama now best known for his short-lived reign as The New Republic's would-be Silicon Valley savior — is preoccupied with the injustice of his windfall and has investigated how best to give an appreciable chunk of his money away, in the service of good causes. This turns out to be a difficult project. One of his solutions is to devote himself to the advocacy of a new program to guarantee income for all Americans. He could have done worse." Max reckons Hughes makes a nice start at batting away some of the worst myths in opposition, but has a long way to go.

"The Impact of 'Modern Sexism' on the 2016 Presidential Election: A report from the 2016 Blair Center Poll prepared by Angie Maxwell, Ph.D. and Todd Shields, Ph.D." I didn't read it all, but it did have this amusing graph.

RIP: "Rep. Louise Slaughter, progressive champion of women's rights, dies at 88." This is pretty sad news, because she was one of that small handful who had real accomplishments, fought the good fight, and wasn't just in it for herself. She was also a champion of net neutrality and was never a trusting neoliberal. "When President Bill Clinton asked for her support on NAFTA, she famously replied, 'Why are you carrying George Bush's trash?'"

RIP: "Former Black Panther Herman Wallace dies days after judge overturns murder conviction that saw him serve 41 years in solitary confinement: A former Black Panther who served 41 years in solitary confinement has died days after a US federal judge overturned his conviction for the murder of a prison guard. Herman Wallace was freed on Tuesday after Judge Brian Jackson ruled his 1974 trial had been 'unconstitutional' and ordered his immediate release. He was suffering from terminal liver cancer and died with supporters by his side early this morning. He was 71."

RIP: Kate Wilhelm, science fiction great and co-founder of the Clarion Workshop, accomplished and widely-read author, mentor to many, at 89. The photo above is one I took of her with Chip Delany at WisCon 30.

RIP: Peter Nichols, writer, editor, and longtime critic and historian of science fiction, best known as the creator-organizer of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, presumably of Parkinson's. He was 79.

RIP: Stephen Hawking, renowned theoretical physicist, Star Trek fan, and not a big fan of Sheldon, at 76. And who can forget that endearing moment when right-wingers who never figured out that it was Hawking's voice machine, and not him, that had the American accent, and who actually used him as an example of the merits of the American system — and Hawking's rejoinder was that he would have died without the UK's National Health Service.

Atrios claims he tried this trick for making microwave buckwheat bread in three minutes and it worked. It's even gluten-free.

Patrick Sky, "Nectar of God"

1 comment:

  1. I fear that is the obit we will read for Leonard Peltier.

    Senator Warren is an incredibly effective (though not as effective as we'd like) member of the Senate, one that would be effectively spayed if pulled out of the Senate to boost Sanders vanity run. Don't get me wrong, I was a "BernieBro", even changed my non-affiliation to dem to primary for him (and changed it right back upon his loss), but at this point I am as tired of hearing about Sanders as I am Clinton, neither one of which is the problem at hand. I might vote Warren for president, if only because she's my age and I do not intend to vote for anyone older than I.