14 April 2018

The boundaries in between

This is just a neat old picture of Arthur Thomson drawing direct to stencil that Rob Hansen found in someone's old photo collection. Arthur once asked me why everyone called him "ATom" in print instead of just "Atom", which is what he thought he was writing. He didn't seem to realize his signature came across that way.

Despite the best efforts of the Democratic leadership to protect Paul Ryan, someone is finally challenging him and, whoops! Not so safe anymore! So, not surprisingly, "Paul Ryan will not seek re-election in 2018 midterms amid Republican fears of losing House and Senate: The 2012 Vice Presidential candidate is said to have grown increasingly frustrated working with the president." Or maybe the fact that everyone hates him and no one wants him in office could have swayed him, and he knows he can go on to bigger things in some cushy corporate pay-back job.

David Dayen, "Save the VA: The power struggle inside the Department of Veterans Affairs burst into the open this week with the firing of David Shulkin, replaced by a blank slate who served as the president's doctor. But this has been simmering for some time as a war between a Koch Brothers-funded front group that wants to privatize the VA health system, the overwhelming mass of veteran's groups that don't, and a president who doesn't know or care much about the details but is easily led. Shulkin's post-firing op-ed lays out the battle lines."

Dean Baker, "We Win Trade War! China Goes Generic Big Time: Donald Trump has proved the skeptics wrong, it seems that the American people stand to be big winners as a result of his trade war. The Chinese government announced a major initiative to promote the manufacture and use of generic drugs. The reason this is potentially a big deal for the United States is that it could mean that China intends to push the envelope in replacing drugs protected by government-granted patent monopolies with drugs sold at free market prices. While the TRIPS provisions of the WTO do require members to respect patents and copyrights, there are flexibilities, such as compulsory licensing, to allow far more competition that what we see in the United States market."

"Arizona Democrats Show Up In Record Numbers, Told They're Registered Republicans." This problem seems to be cropping up all over the country. Check now to make sure your registration is in place and correct, because an awful lot of people are finding these odd little anomalies when they go in to vote.

"Supreme Court rules police officer cannot be sued for shooting Arizona woman in her front yard: The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a lawsuit an Arizona woman tried to bring against a Tucson officer who shot her four times in her front yard in May 2010. In an unsigned opinion, the court said the officer, Andrew Kisela, was entitled to qualified immunity in the shooting of Amy Hughes. [...] The court's decision Monday reverses a 9th Circuit Court ruling in favor of Hughes. The lower court said Kisela had used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court, however, said Kisela was entitled to qualified immunity because there is no prior case setting a precedent that his use of force in this situation would be excessive. [...] In a scathing dissent, which Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the court has never required a factually identical case to satisfy the 'clearly established' precedent standard. 'It's decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public,' she wrote. 'It tells officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished.'"

"Texas woman sentenced to 5 years in prison for voting while on probation: If she had known it was illegal, Crystal Mason said she would have never cast a vote in the 2016 presidential election."

"The Growing Divorce Between American Jewish Youth and Israel [...] When you find that those in society who are most anti-Semitic, like neo-Nazi Richard Spencer of the alt-Right, Steve Bannon, Le Pen, Geert Wilders, Nick Griffin of the BNP, Pastor John Hagee and assorted racists and fascists all love Israel whilst, at the same not liking Jews then it begins to occur to young Jews that Israel is not all that it is cracked up to be. In addition a Jewish state suggests that Jews don't belong in America. It is therefore not surprising that in this survey of the Bay Area district in California, only 11% of Jews between 18 and 34 were ‘very attached to Israel'. Even better only 40% of young American Jews are ‘comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state.' It is becoming ever clearer that it isn't Jews but racist non-Jews who most love Israel. In Fire & Fury it describes how Jared Kushner felt Steve Bannon's support for Israel was a cover for his anti-Semitism. Today the normal response from anti-Semites is that they love Israel. "

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, "The $500,000 GoFundMe Charity Campaign for Wealthy Ex-FBI Official Andrew McCabe Is Obscene" — It's a bad joke when "The Resistance" makes heroes of security state agents who have not been acting in our best interests and even turns them into "our" charity beneficiaries when real poverty and desperation are going unaddressed - and should be what we are focused on.

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "Is the Two-Party System Doomed? A new study shows us what observation should already have made clear: a messy restructuring of America's political parties is coming [...] Papers like Piketty's are a warning that if the intellectuals in both parties don't come up with a real plan for dealing with the income disparity problem before someone smarter than Donald Trump takes it on, they're screwed. Forget nativists vs. globalists. Think poor vs. rich. Think 99 to 1. While Washington waits with bated breath for the results of the Mueller probe, it's the other mystery — how do we fix this seemingly unfixable economic system — that is keeping the rest of the country awake at night."

"Sanders condemns killing of Palestinian protesters: The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic. It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response."

Mehdi Hasan in The Intercept, "Israel Kills Palestinians and Western Liberals Shrug. Their Humanitarianism Is a Sham. 'IF THE CONCEPT of intervention is driven by universal human rights, why is it — from the people who identify themselves as liberal interventionists — why do we never hear a peep, a word, about intervening to protect the Palestinians?' That was the question I put to the French philosopher, author, and champion of liberal (or humanitarian) interventionism, Bernard-Henri Lévy, on my Al Jazeera English interview show 'Head to Head' in 2013. The usually silver-tongued Levy struggled to answer the question. The situation in Palestine is 'not the same' as in Syria and 'you have not all the good on one side and all the bad on the other side,' said Levy, who once remarked in reference to the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, that he had 'never seen such a democratic army, which asks itself so many moral questions.' I couldn't help but be reminded of my exchange with the man known as 'BHL' this past weekend, as I watched horrific images of unarmed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border being shot in the back by the 'democratic army' of Israel. How many 'moral questions' did those Israeli snipers ask themselves, I wondered, before they gunned down Gazan refugees for daring to demand a return to their homes inside the Green Line? On Friday, the IDF shot an astonishing 773 people with live ammunition, killing 17 of them. Yet a spokesperson for the IDF bragged that Israeli troops 'arrived prepared' and 'everything was accurate. ... We know where every bullet landed.' On Sunday, Israel's hawkish defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, roundly rejected calls from the European Union and the United Nations for an independent inquiry into the violence and insisted that 'our soldiers deserve a commendation.'"

Haaretz, "Debunking Israel's Talking Points on Deadly Gaza Protests: To understand why Gazans are willing to pit their bodies against an army, peel away the political positioning on all sides."

Forbes, "60% Of House Democrats Vote For A Defense Budget Even Bigger Than Trump's [...] There are currently 240 Republicans and 194 Democrats in the body, with 1 vacancy. Out of the Republicans, 227 voted in favor and 8 voted against this bill, making 230, with 10 apparently missing in action. Of the 194 Democrats, 117 voted for the bill and 73 voted against, with 4 not voting. In other words, of the party that supposedly opposes rampant military spending and the Trump administration, 60% voted for this bill." Most of this article is of the "We spend too much on the military and not on other things" school, but the point still stands: Democrats are making a pretty poor showing of being "The Resistance". Maybe they should call themselves, "The Assistance".

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I'm not even going to describe the latest crazy "Bernie is a racist" crap that emanated from his panel with Mayor Lumumba, but it was actually a really good event and well worth watching, especially if you've been hearing the nonsense about what he said. U.S Senator Bernie Sanders and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba Town Hall Meeting 'Examining Economic Justice 50 Years Later'. Strangely, this entire crowd of mostly black people in an 85% black city were unable to detect the terrible racism of Sanders when he pointed out that the Democratic Party screwed up. (Warning: There's a lot of stuff in the beginning that doesn't really have clear audio but isn't actually part of the discussion, which doesn't start until about the 25-minute mark.)

Briahna Joy Gray was there, and what she saw is very different from what the Twitter trolls, the H8%, were saying about it. "Bernie Sanders in the Deep South: Last week, I joined Bernie Sanders in Memphis, Tennessee, and Jackson, Mississippi, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Sanders was overwhelmingly well received by both passersby and the local audiences who came to hear him speak. But so far, the media coverage of his trip has revolved around a brief aside, in which Sanders faulted the Democratic Party for its recent legislative failures [...] In fact, if Beale Street could talk, it would tell a very different story about Bernie Sanders than the now-familiar critique that he is insufficiently sensitive to racial issues. As I walked with Sanders down Memphis's famous thoroughfare, his popularity, including among the predominantly black crowd attending the commemorative festivities, was self-evident. The senator was stopped every few feet by selfie-seekers and admirers. Yes: Perhaps this is to be expected of any politician with a national profile, but given his poor showing in Mississippi during the 2016 Democratic primary, in which he secured less than 17 percent of the black vote, I had thought the senator and his small cohort might go unnoticed. I was wrong."

There is, however, one worrying thing going around where Bernie really put his foot in it, and frankly, I'm very surprised that he didn't already know it. It happened three years ago but I never heard this until now: "In a September meeting with Campaign Zero, a movement formed out of the Ferguson protests, activists asked Sanders why, in his opinion, there were a disproportionate amount of people of color in jail for nonviolent drug offenses. Sanders, seated across the table, a yellow legal pad at hand, responded with a question of his own, according to two people present: 'Aren't most of the people who sell the drugs African American?' The candidate, whose aides froze in the moment, was quickly rebuffed: The answer, the activists told him, was no. Even confronted with figures and data to the contrary, Sanders appeared to have still struggled to grasp that he had made an error, the two people present said." That seems like shocking ignorance, but illegal drugs have never been his issue so I suppose it's not surprising that he never thought it through, but of course, the reason there are more arrests of black people for drugs is that the police go after black people for drugs, and carefully avoid confronting kids in white suburban neighborhoods where there is far more dealing and using going on. So I put a simple little primer thread up on Twitter. I hope it comes to his attention.

PS. I could only find a record of three politicians who endorsed Jesse Jackson when he ran for president. Two were US Senators, Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Ernest Hollings (D-SC). The third was the Mayor of Burlington, VT, Bernie Sanders. Jackson won 55% in the Michigan primary and was the frontrunner until Dukakis pulled ahead, but the media was so quiet about Jackson's momentum that you never would have guessed he was in the running.

PPS. The canard that Sanders never released his taxes is still going around amongst the Clintonati. It's not true. Note the date on the article is 16 April.

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On The Majority Report:
The Rise of the Working-Class Shareholder w/ David H. Webber - MR Live - 3/29/18

On The Michael Brooks Show:
TMBS - 34 - Lee Carter: Socialist Win in Virginia; Hitchens Right, Harris Wrong on Bell Curve

Matt Bruenig at Jacobin, "How Did Private Property Start? Libertarians tend to get flummoxed when confronted with this simple question. Perhaps the most interesting thing about libertarian thought is that it has no way of coherently justifying the initial acquisition of property. How does something that was once unowned become owned without nonconsensually destroying others' liberty? It is impossible. This means that libertarian systems of thought literally cannot get off the ground. They are stuck at time zero of hypothetical history with no way forward."

The usual suspects have been claiming that high-schooler David Hogg is against the Constitution because he wants restrictions on guns after seeing his fellow students shot to death. But their view of the 2nd Amendment is extremely modern and is not how it was interpreted until very recently. In fact, even the Supreme Court's ruling in Heller (2008) did not grant an unlimited right to own and bear arms (although this article completely misconstrues "the common defense" as being against "tyrannical governments", which it wasn't - taking up arms against the U.S government was clearly defined as treason in the Constitution). George Washington had become acutely aware that unregulated and untrained militias were pretty useless for repelling invaders, which is what the 2nd Amendment's language is about and was always interpreted to mean prior to Heller. Moreover, English common law continued to be the rule where gun ownership and carry were concerned.

Zaid Jilani and Ryan Grim at The Intercept, "Centrist Group Backed Anti-Abortion, Anti-LGBT Rep. Lipinski Because His Opponent Supported Bernie Sanders, Emails Reveal: EARLIER THIS YEAR, Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., was facing a surprisingly robust primary challenge from Marie Newman, a progressive Democrat backed by some of the many constituencies that Lipinski has clashed with over the years. Lipinski represents a solidly Democratic seat, but has become one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, with his opposition to legal abortion and hostility toward marriage equality and immigration rights. Eventually, Lipinski narrowly defeated Newman in the March 20 primary — thanks in part to support from the centrist political alliance No Labels. Lipinski is a member of the group's House Problem Solvers Caucus, an informal collection of representative who work to, well, solve problems. [...] Jacobson replied with her reasoning for the group's intervention, explaining that part of the opposition to Newman was related to her endorsement by Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont. 'I see a whole new crop of Democratic challengers — like Marie Newman — who see Bernie — WHO IS NOT EVEN A DEMOCRAT — as a model worthy of emulation,' Jacobson wrote, all-caps in the original, denigrating Sanders for not labeling himself a Democrat. 'But I don't think we need more people in Congress on either side who rile up their bases and then actually achieve nothing.'"

Ralph Nader in Lapham's Quarterly, "Land of the Lawless: How power in America has turned the rule of law into a mere myth"

Since the Hillbots are still polluting Twitter with Barney Frank's bitter smear of Bernie Sanders, it's time for another round of Richard Eskow's retort, "Barney vs. Bernie: Sanders Is the Real 'Progressive Who Gets Things Done'."

A few of Joe Kennedy III's other "missteps" have been around the net, but it hasn't stopped "The Resistance" from listing him as a possible contender to run in 2020. I hope no one forgets that he thinks marijuana should be illegal so the cops can search people's cars without a good reason. That's two bad positions at once. He's also "embraced Bernie Sanders's Medicare for All as a vision but dismissed it as practical policy, saying, 'much as people don't love incrementalism, this is I think how part of this debate is going to go.'" Other things Kennedy does not appear to support are higher taxes on Wall Street, free college, and addressing voting rights.

"What It's Like for an American Drug Reformer to Go to a Country with a Compassionate System [...] Welcome to Portugal. The country's low-key, non-headline-generating drug policy, based on compassion, public health, and public safety, is a stark contrast with the U.S., as the mind-boggled response of the activists suggests."

"Scrubbed clean: why a certain kind of sex is vanishing from the internet: A US government effort to fight online sex trafficking has cleansed many sites of personal ads and consensual eroticism, in a shift advocates say amounts to dangerous censorship."

RIP: Steven Bochco, creator of Hill Street Blues, dies at 74." Some people say he remade television by giving his characters story arcs at a time when other evening television shows were always stand-alone episodes where the characters and settings always went back to zero in time for next week's show.

RIP: "Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Anti-apartheid campaigner dies at 81." She also disturbed some people by talking about sexism. Fancy that.

Just Enough Room Island — If it gets decent internet and easy food deliveries, I'm in for the view.

"Alaska Airlines Delayed Their Flight So Passengers Could See Something Breathtaking" — a total eclipse, from the air.

Paris Steampunk 1889 LEGO Project by Castor Troy

This is nice: Google Doodle for Maya Angelou's 90th birthday
* And, elsewhere... "The Erasure of Maya Angelou's Sex Work History"

Damn, I can't find the song I wanted on the internets, so have some P.F. Sloan.