Saturday, July 21, 2018

The only time I feel all right is by your side

Bernie Sanders held a CEOs vs Workers Town Hall. Donut Twitter* went insane with tweets to the effect of, "How dare he talk about unimportant stuff like this when Trump had a lousy press conference in Russia!"

"How to Survive America's Kill List: When a U.S. citizen heard he was on his own country's drone target list, he wasn't sure he believed it. After five near-misses, he does — and is suing the United States to contest his own execution." There's an irony here. This guy spent a couple of hours trying to explain that "democracy" in America has nothing to do with policy, that Americans have little or no input into what an administration might actually do, that a majority of Americans are not necessarily in favor of droning Muslim weddings. The person he was explaining it to was an Al Queda leader, and that "association" is very possibly why this American citizen is being targeted for murder by our government.

"Charges Dropped Against Remaining J20 Inauguration Day Protesters: Federal prosecutors dropped all charges against the 38 remaining defendants arrested and charged with rioting during the Disrupt J20 protests on Donald Trump's Inauguration Day. The dismissal brings an end to the nearly 18-month saga that saw 234 protesters threatened with as much as 60 years in prison for their alleged roles in the destruction of property on January 20, 2017."

"AT&T promised lower prices after Time Warner merger — it's raising them instead: AT&T is raising the base price of its DirecTV Now streaming service by $5 per month, despite promising in court that its acquisition of Time Warner Inc. would lower TV prices. [...] Just two months ago, AT&T said in a court filing that buying Time Warner would allow it to lower TV prices. The US Department of Justice tried to stop the merger, arguing that it would raise prices for consumers, but a federal judge sided with AT&T. The merger was completed on June 15. AT&T scoffed at the Justice Department's argument that the merger would raise prices. The telecomm giant wrote in its post-trial brief that the merger will 'enabl[e] AT&T and Time Warner to reduce consumer prices.'"

"Federal judge dismisses suit over literacy rights in Detroit: A federal judge has dismissed an unprecedented civil lawsuit filed on behalf of Detroit students fighting to establish literacy is a U.S. constitutional right. In the suit filed in 2016 through a California public interest law firm, the youths alleged the conditions of their schools are so poor and inadequate they had not received the best education and were denied access to literacy on account of their races, violating their rights under the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. But attorneys for Gov. Rick Snyder and state education officials have said no fundamental right to literacy exists for Detroit schoolchildren. The lawyers had asked the judge to reject what they have called an 'attempt to destroy the American tradition of democratic control of schools.'" This is unpardonable, Rick Snyder should be arrested for fraud against taxpayers, and judges like this should be locked in a room and forced to read the Preamble over and over until they understand what "promote the general Welfare" means.

"U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials: A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly. Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother's milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes. Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations."

"Ethiopia and Eritrea declare war 'has come to an end': Leaders of Horn of Africa nations sign joint peace agreement, officially ending decades of diplomatic and armed strife."

Israel officially becomes a a racist, apartheid theocracy: "Israel Passes Controversial Jewish Nation-state Bill After Stormy Debate: 62 lawmakers vote in favor of the bill after a stormy debate ¦ Arab lawmakers tossed out after they tear bill in protest, call it 'apartheid law'."

"A $1 billion Gates Foundation-backed education initiative failed to help students, according to a new report — here's what happened: [...] The initiative, called the Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching, didn't improve student graduation rates or schools' ability to retain effective teachers." What really happened is that two people who thought because they were rich they were also "smart" on issues they knew nothing about could just inject themselves and their money into a vital area and, as a result, helped to completely wreck our educational system. They were not educators and had no reason at all to think they knew more than experienced teachers knew, but they just jumped right in and gave the whole charter school movement the boost it needed to be saleable to people who were unwise enough to think that there is any better way to get good student outcomes than to have experienced teachers who are rewarded with a living wage and pension teaching those students. Experience, you see, is the best teacher.

"Ro Khanna Says He'Ll Rally Support For Barbara Lee If She Makes Bid For Democratic Leadership: REP. RO KHANNA plans to throw his full weight behind Barbara Lee, his fellow representative from California, if she makes a final decision to run for caucus chair, a leadership position being vacated by New York's Rep. Joe Crowley. "

"California Democratic Party Snubs Feinstein, Endorses de León in Senate Race: Longtime California Senator Dianne Feinstein lost the California Democratic Party's endorsement, in a stunning vote Saturday night at the party's executive board meeting in Oakland. Though the vote was expected to be close, state Senator Kevin de León rather easily crossed the 60 percent threshold necessary for endorsement."

"The Dialysis Industry Is Putting Profits Over Patients. A California Democratic Party Official Is Quietly Helping Them: EARLIER THIS WEEK, the California Democratic Party announced that it would no longer accept contributions from the private prison industry, and that it would donate the $160,000 it received from the top two prison operators — GEO Group and CoreCivic — to organizations that assist immigrants and ex-offenders. It was a heartening reversal of pay-to-play politics, made possible by an organized activist movement capitalizing on financial disclosure. But pay-to-play still has a role within the party. According to financial statements, party vice chair Alex Gallardo-Rooker received $30,000 in the first quarter of this year from opponents of a controversial ballot measure that would cap patient payments at outpatient dialysis facilities. She waited several weeks to make a written disclosure of this relationship, contravening the party bylaws. And critics claim that she continues to stay quiet about her role as a paid consultant, even while attempting to persuade party members to oppose the initiative. It's unclear whether Gallardo-Rooker continued receiving payments after March; second-quarter financial statements have not yet been released."

"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Democratic Primary Opponent Will Remain on the Ballot Because of Some Bullshit [...] If you are wondering why in the fuck this is happening, you can thank New York's byzantine election laws and the stubbornness of bad men. As the New York Times explains, Crowley received the endorsement of the Working Families Party, a group of labor unions and activists that has also backed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon. But after Ocasio-Cortez's primary win, Bill Lipton, the state director of the Working Families Party, reached out to Crowley's team and asked that he vacate the line. Crowley, however, declined. This means he'll remain on the ballot, which is certainly a curious decision to make!"

Pareen, "Haim Saban Is Bad For Democracy: Last month, twelve Democratic senators signed a letter from the office of Sen. Bernie Sanders to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asking the Trump administration 'to do more to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.' The letter was sent following a series of protests by Gazans that were met with overwhelming, deadly force by Israel, which has had Gaza under a punishing blockade for more than a decade. [...] In response, Haim Saban, a billionaire media mogul and longtime 'megadonor' to the Democratic Party, wrote a pissy email to each of those senators (sent to some of their personal addresses, probably just to make the point that he had their personal email addresses), listing, in syntax and tone typical of conservative chain emails, various reasons why Israel's treatment of Palestinians, and Gazans in particular, must never, ever be criticized. It doesn't even address the actual issues and concerns laid out in the letter to Pompeo; it is merely a collection of braindead talking points."

I'm not sure I can quite unpack all of this, but Marcy Wheeler is "Putting A Face (Mine) To The Risks Posed By GOP Games On Mueller Investigation [...] I'm making this public now because a David Ignatius report Thursday maps out an imminent deal with Russia and Israel that sounds like what was described to me within hours of the election. This deal appears to be the culmination of an effort that those involved in the Russian attack worked to implement within hours after the election." She talked with Sam Seder about this on The Majority Report.

Zaid Jilani at The Intercept, "Health Care Blunder Reveals Michigan Candidate For Governor's 'Progressive' Branding Is False Advertising." There are three people in this race — one who seems to be the genuine article, one who looks like a guy with too much money who is pandering as a "progressive", and one who is the corporate-backed establishment candidate (and is in the lead because the progressive vote is being split).

Libby Watson at Splinter, "Tim Geithner Is Living His Best Post-Obama Life by Running Scam to Bleed Poor People Dry: Sorry if you had anyone else winning in your Most Hideous Career After Leaving the Obama Administration bracket, because Tim Geithner just blew the competition out the water. The Washington Post has a detailed and devastating report, published Sunday evening, about the predatory lending activities of Mariner Finance, a company 'owned and managed by a $11.2 billion private equity fund controlled by Warburg Pincus,' of which Geithner is president. Cool job, Tim!"

Briahna Gray, also commenting on the Abrams-Evans race in Georgia, says, "Fetishizing 'Identity Politics' Could Cost Democrats In 2020 [...] IT'S NECESSARY, HERE, to define 'identity politics,' since a failure to do so is at the root of most of the controversy around the subject. Critics on the right generally define identity politics as any reference to racial, sexual, or gender identities, whether as calls to solidarity or a recognition of the particular harms those groups face because of their identities. This is wrong. But critics from the left don't generally question the political or cultural relevance of identities, or the extent to which they serve as important axes for political mobilization. Instead, the leftist critique condemns the 'weaponization' of identity — the cynical emphasis on personal identity over political beliefs in order to advance candidates whose interests are inapposite to the needs of the groups they're presumed to represent. See, for example, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders's claim that Democrats who 'support women's empowerment' but critique Gina Haspel's nomination for CIA director are 'hypocrite[s].' Or the idea that Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor who once criminalized truancy and oversaw the country's second largest non-federal prison population as the attorney general of California, is necessarily a good standard bearer for political justice reform."

"Why Did the Rhode Island Democratic Party Endorse an Alt-Right Supporter Over a Progressive Incumbent? Walsh has since been a progressive voice in the legislature and supports increasing the minimum wage and marijuana legalization. She also caused a stir in March when she said in a radio interview that there was an 'insane amount of drinking' among legislators at the statehouse. All this might go some way towards explaining why the state Democratic Party has endorsed her opponent in the upcoming primaries — a man who appears to have once been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump and alt-right figures."

"Patreon Is Suspending Adult Content Creators Because of Its Payment Partners: The subscription crowdfunding platform Patreon confirmed that they are increasing efforts to review content, due to payment processor pressure. [...] 'This is bigger than us & Patreon. It's a world wide crack down on freedom of expression, on women, on marginalised people, on sex and sex work, on non conventional forms of labour that counter the status quo: the domination of corporations and patriarchy. On dissent,' Ashley wrote. 'Just to be clear what is at stake, this is my whole income, my livelihood.'"

Alex Jones discovered the left's plans to start a second civil war on July 4th. Hilarity ensues.

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone, "We Need a Financial Transactions Tax Before It's Too Late: As the country sits atop a giant debt-bomb, measures are needed to rein in excess speculation"

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "How the capitalist class is strangling the American economy [...] Why the capitalist class does this is something of a mystery. Don't they love growth? Well, they do, but only under the right circumstances. They present themselves as concerned with growth, productivity, and output above all else, but it turns out they are in reality a lot more concerned with high profits and a politically quiescent working class. A big economic boom is fine, but a tight labor market requiring wage increases that come out of the capitalist share of the corporate surplus — or worse, workers confident that they can get another job organizing union drives — is horrifying to them. Our capitalist overlords think they deserve easy profits and beaten-down workers who will take crappy wages and bad benefits without a peep or protests, and mobilize politically to rig the economy to make that happen."

Also Ryan Cooper, "The new Republican Gilded Age [...] The basic idea is to reconfigure the American state to serve only the interests of business: forbidding as much regulation of industry as possible, and using violent state power to suppress the inevitable backlash from the rest of society. America once had much of its democratic nature cored out by rapacious capitalists. It could happen again."

"Yes, Normal Republican Elites Are a Threat to Democracy [...] In its mission to undermine popular government — so as to insulate the policy preferences of reactionary elites from majoritarian opinion — elected Republicans have received the indispensable aid of normal conservative jurists like Brett Kavanaugh. Over the past decade, the Roberts court has worked to systematically increase the influence that concentrated wealth can exert over American politics, while vetoing democratically enacted attempts to either constrain that influence, or else to buck the substantive preferences of the Republican donor class. The court's efforts on this front include abolishing virtually all restrictions on corporate spending in American elections; overturning an Arizona law that attempted to counter such spending by providing candidates with public funds; legalizing most forms of political bribery; and gutting anti-trust law. In sum: The modern Republican Party has demonstrated a commitment to suppressing voter participation; reducing the influence of majorities over electoral outcomes; and subordinating the policy preferences of its own constituents to those of reactionary elites. It has further demonstrated a willingness to achieve the latter end by lying to its own base about its intentions for public policy; obfuscating the policy-making process to limit public awareness of the government's activities; appointing activist judges who will veto democratically enacted legislation on dubious grounds; and stoking the most incendiary cultural divisions in American life.

"Democrats ignore the left at their peril. Midwesterners aren't scared of socialism — they're hungry for it. Some members of the Democratic establishment argue that bold, left-wing platforms can't win elections. They're wrong."

Hamilton Nolan at Splinter, "This Is Just the Beginning: Do you think that being asked to leave a restaurant, or having your meal interrupted, or being called by the public is bad? My fascism-enabling friends, this is only the beginning. One thing that people who wield great power often fail to viscerally understand is what it feels like to have power wielded against you. This imbalance is the source of many of the most monstrous decisions that get made by powerful people and institutions." I like this approach even though I disagree that they don't understand how it feels. I think they love knowing they can make you feel that way and you can't do anything about it. What they underestimate is that even in this society, you can still damage those people if you really come to believe you have nothing to lose.

From Tom Scocca at Gawker, an interesting essay On Smarm [...] But why are nastiness and snideness taken to be features of our age? One general point of agreement, in denunciations of snark, is that snark is reactive. It is a kind of response. Yet to what is it responding? Of what is it contemptuous? Stand against snark, and you are standing with everything decent. And who doesn't want to be decent? The snarkers don't, it seems. Or at least they (let's be honest: we) don't want to be decent on those terms."

Here's an interesting development: "'Tea Party Liberal' Promises To Bring A Blue Wave To West Virginia: Richard Ojeda joined the Army because he says it seemed like the most reasonable choice he had growing up; his alternative options, he says, were to 'dig coal' or 'sell dope.' So he chose the Army, where he spent more than two decades. But when he came home to Logan County, W.Va., he was stunned. "I come home from spending 24 years in the United States Army and I realize I got kids in my backyard that have it worse than the kids I saw in Iraq and Afghanistan," he shouts into the microphone during an interview."

My favorite 4th of July moment, of course, was Therese Okoumou climbing the base of the Statue of Liberty to demand that immigrant children be reuinted with their parents. The police, of course, "rescued" her with a choke-hold, but hey, that's freedom in America. I mean, she's black, whaddaya expect?

I reckon the best take came on The Michael Brooks Show when Matt Taibbi came in to talk about Centrism Isn't Sexy & Are Russian Spies Among Us?. But I don't know what all the "unprecedented" stuff is about - it's hardly as if we haven't seen this before.
Taibbi's article referred to in the show is here.)
Also on TMBS:
TMBS - 43 - How Not To Do Identity Politics ft. Asad Haider & Alyona Minkovski
TMBS - 47 - SCOTUS v. Democracy & What Beats Fascism ft. Harvey Kaye

On Majority Report:
The Kurds Anarchist Liberation Struggle w/ David Graeber - MR Live - 7/9/18
Our New Restoration Story w/ George Monbiot - MR Live - 7/3/18
Casual Friday w/ Nomiki Konst - MR Live - 6/29/18
How Jesse Helms Invented the Republican Party w/ Nick Martin - MR Live - 7/19/18

Putting this here as a reminder: Yvette Carnell - Breaking Brown

Seymour Hersh on who controls the news agenda around Donald Trump

RIP: "Ed Schultz, Former MSNBC Host, Dies at 64." I had my problems with this guy, but he didn't like being pushed into being partisan-no-matter-what, and I gotta respect that. Here's an interesting interview he did with a guy from The National Review in which he talks about how MSNBC wouldn't let him cover Bernie Sanders and why he prefers working for RT America.

It's always good to remember that Tim Geithner should take much responsibility as the architect of our current woes. He wrote an autobiographical book to "explain" how he, in indifferent student who grew up entirely ordinary just happened to become the hero of the 2007 financial crisis, and, as Matt Stoller noted, nothing about that story rings true. The Con-Artist Wing of the Democratic Party: The most consequential event of this young century has been the financial crisis. But is the party of Obama ready to come to terms with its own role in the disaster? [...] You see the same rhetorical tricks and traps as we move to Geithner's tenure as president of the New York Federal Reserve, which began in 2003. Much of the discussion of Geithner's book and his time in office is essentially a rehash of the strategies pursued during the bailouts. As with the hot money flows, Geithner pretends he was part of the solution, not the cause of the problem. But Geithner also played a huge role in the run-up of leverage in the financial system, a role he lies about when discussing his time at the Fed. Geithner served at the New York Fed until 2008, and this region was the center of the financial universe, the place where profits from the boom were husbanded and collected. The New York Fed regulated Citigroup, a massive systemic risk requiring multiple bailouts and obscure financial supporting arrangements. Thus, lying about his tolerance for this run-up in leverage, and about his distance from the financial industry, is critical in painting a later portrait of a cautious but savvy crisis manager." Countries that took Geithner's advice did poorly, and those who ignored it did just fine. And then Obama put him in charge of our economy.

David Dayen's "Inhuman Resources" at The Huffington Post is a harrowing tale of a decent guy on Wall Street who tried to help a colleague who was the victim of harassment and became one himself, but I'd personally like to slap whoever coded the page so that it flutters around when you page to the next section. I hate these sliding sections and giant illustrations all over the place. Someone should make it stop.

Mark Evanier has A Harlan Ellison story and promises more. By actual count, there are 8,448,329 anecdotes about Harlan Ellison, 7,609,224 of which are actually true. This is one that fits into both categories and it involves a man named Julius Schwartz who was an important editor for DC Comics and a semi-important figure in the science-fiction community. Julie and Harlan had an extremely close relationship that some would describe as "father-son." Some would also tell you that at times, Julie — though he was nineteen years older than Harlan — was in the "son" role. Most of the time though, Julie was the obstreperous adult and Harlan, the even-more-obstreperous child. Every Wednesday morning for a very long time, Julie (in the DC offices in New York) would phone Harlan (in his home in Southern California) and they'd talk about anything and everything. One day around 1971, the topic somehow ventured to the notion of Harlan, who had done very little writing for comic books, writing a Batman story. Julie Schwartz was the editor of Batman and Detective Comics at the time. Harlan did not want to do it with any sort of deadline but he said he would come up with something in the near future. "

Badass: Stagecoach Mary Fields: Up until her death in 1914 at the age of 82, Old West badass "Stagecoach" Mary Fields had a standing bet at her local saloon: Five bucks and a glass of whiskey said she could knock out any cowboy in Cascade, Montana with a single punch."

Um, "'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Series Reboot With Black Lead In Works From Monica Owusu-Breen & Joss Whedon." I have real problems with the idea of a black woman being named "Buffy".

It's amazing what you can find by accident on the intertubes. Here's Peter Tatchell and me on The James Whale Show talking about the gay age of consent back when we were trying to get it changed. (Our bit starts about halfway through.) Alas, they cut out some of my favorite lines.

"The Kinks to reunite after two decades apart" Ray Davies confirms that he's been working on a new album with Dave.

The Kinks, "All Day and All of the Night", live.


  1. On the Gates Foundation initiative -- rich people are convinced that they deserve their riches because of merit. They're just smarter than everyone else. Therefore, their whole effort is to set up systems where they perceive smart people getting the most material success. And so: "The program devised a series of metrics to help evaluate, improve, and retain quality teachers — effectively reshaping how teachers are incentivized — in the hope that this would pay off for students."

    We've known for more than a hundred years that external incentives on any even mildly complex task are counterproductive. It's been shown both in studies and in real world applications. This was just one more effort that shows this. But Gates isn't giving up on his belief that incentives are key to good teaching: "'We'll no longer directly invest in teacher evaluation, but we'll continue to gather data on the impact of these systems and encourage the use of all of those tools that help teachers improve their practice,' Gates said." Yep, encourage the use of those tools, no matter what!

    1. Absolutely. It's infuriating that they thought they knew better.

    2. I met the SoB back in the seventies, before he stole PCDOS and marketed himself to where he is today. Not a genius then, not a genius now.