Sunday, April 28, 2019

Your happening world

"Sanders takes on Fox — and emerges triumphant: BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Bernie Sanders entered the Fox's den on Monday night — and he not only survived the hourlong encounter, but often dominated. Appearing at a Fox News-hosted town hall, smack in the middle of Trump Country, the Democratic presidential front-runner played the part, swatting down tough questions from the hosts about health care, defense spending and his newfound wealth. At one point, the Vermont senator even led the network's audience in a call-and-response that found them cheering loudly for his policies."

"Watch: Sanders town hall audience surprises Bret Baier with how much they like Bernie's health care plan: A politically diverse town hall audience showed a lot of enthusiasm for Medicare-for-all."
Town Hall with Bernie Sanders | Part 1
Town Hall with Bernie Sanders | Part 2

"Exclusive: Bernie Sanders Campaign Launches New Podcast, "Hear the Bern": The Bernie Sanders campaign is set to launch a new podcast Monday night called 'Hear the Bern.' Co-hosted by National Press Secretary Briahna Joy Gray, it will feature a variety of campaign staffers, volunteers, and other campaign figures, as well as regular appearances from Sanders himself. You can now listen to the first episode here."

"Maybe Rich Liberals Don't Hate Sanders Because They Fear He Can't Win, But Because They're Rich: That a network of multi-millionaire and billionaire donors would dislike a candidate who not only rejects their funding, but is actively trying to tax them at rates not seen since 1960, would surely be enough reason to explain why these wealthy elites would want to 'stop' his nomination. [...] The New York Times (4/16/19) profiled a network of 'wealthy liberal donors' who, shockingly, are not fans of Bernie Sanders, who according to the same report has rejected their big-bundler funding and instead opted for small donations. (The Times reported the same day that 84 percent of Sanders' donations are less than $200; by contrast, only 37 percent of Kamala Harris' donations are.) [...] Simply drawing attention to the fact that a bunch of wealthy donors affirms Sanders primary argument for running doesn't make it go away. It's a writer's trick, and one the New York Times passes off without criticism: LOL Isn't it ironic we're doing that bad, evil thing Sanders says rich donors do? Wait, what? No, it's just bad, in and of itself. The piece is openly floating a conspiracy of wealthy donors seeking to undermine a democratic process, then laughing it off something that could be mistaken for the actual bad thing it is. Meanwhile, the self-evident fact that rich donors dislike Sanders because he runs counter to their interests is ignored in favor of a child-like fantasy that they oppose him simply because they're looking out for the best interests of the party. To the Times, the rich have no ideology, no beliefs, no self interest; this is reserved instead for Sanders 'embolden[ed],' 'fervent supporters,' whose desire to defeat Trump is presented as at best incidental."

"A top progressive pundit says mainstream Democrats are worried about Bernie Sanders winning the White House in 2020: Sen. Bernie Sanders is making mainstream Democrats nervous. But some of the presidential candidate's supporters say it's not because they're worried Sanders can't defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. It's because he can, they say."

And it's not just the Democratic establishment that's afraid Bernie can beat Trump. Another guy who's afraid is Donald Trump.

But to cap it all off, even Peter Daou has had a sea change and is in The Nation telling people to hold their fire on Sanders. "I Was Bernie's Biggest Critic in 2016 — I've Changed My Mind: Bernie Sanders can beat Donald Trump — and it would be an epic act of self-destruction for Democrats to try to hobble his campaign." Daou understates the degree to which he was a critic of Sanders, but never mind, he really seems to have remembered where he came from: "My political and personal evolution since 2016 has caught some people off guard. I'm often asked how a staunch Clinton advocate and former Sanders critic could reverse course. The answer is simpler than it appears. I spent 15 years before the 2016 election as a progressive activist, a critic of the Democratic Party's meekness in the face of GOP extremism, and a supporter of the policies Sanders promotes. After months of reflection about my role in the 2016 primaries, I realized I was among the far too many Clinton and Sanders supporters who got caught up in an ugly family dispute that spiraled out of control." He still hasn't unblocked me on Twitter, though.

"'Purity Tests': How Corporate Media Describe Progressives Standing Up for Principles: The phrase is code for elites being pressured in ways they don't like, and is often a shield against legitimate criticism of corruption or dependence on corporate power."

Have I mentioned that Nicole Sandler talks to Howie Klein every Thursday on her show? It's definitely worth listening to if you want to know what's really going on in the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Electorate on Twitter Is Not the Actual Democratic Electorate [...] In reality, the Democratic electorate is both ideologically and demographically diverse. Over all, around half of Democratic-leaning voters consider themselves 'moderate' or 'conservative,' not liberal. Around 40 percent are not white."

Advice Unasked, "Bernie and the Racists: It seems to me that one reason so many Democrats resent Sanders is because he reminds them of what the party was, and abandoned in the 1990s, to gain votes in conservative states, especially in the South. From the early 1990s to 2016, the Democratic Party was dominated by its conservative wing. They supported and passed a series of tight-fisted laws: the Clinton tax increase, which cost the party the House; welfare and Medicaid reform; the Clinton health plan, followed by the PPACA. At the same time, we heard racist rhetoric from the party leaders: 'Sister Soljah,' 'superpredators,' and so on. These reassured white racists that African-Americans would be kept from rising against their oppressors. I wonder how much of the tight-fisted conservative policies were also covert appeals to racists. How much of the conservative faction of the Democratic Party is racist? Some, surely. Most? Scratch economic conservatism, find racism (and sexism, but I'm writing about racism.) Policies which keep property relations as they stand, dominated by a wealthy white minority, those policies are racist, even if they do not incorporate explicit bigotry. The bigotry may be there, but it only becomes visible when attacked or when some demagogue like Donald Trump makes a direct appeal to it."

Obama Pushes Neoliberal Myths on Health Care at Fundraiser [...] Multimillionaire former President Barack Obama, 2017's Kennedy prize winner, traveled all the way to Germany over the weekend in order to scold what he called American health care 'purists' who have the crazy nerve to challenge the status quo. He called the current battle between Congressional centrists, like Pelosi, and progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Pramila Jayapal a 'circular firing squad.'"

Our story so far: As we may recall, it was historically not normal for candidates for the presidency to release their taxes before winning the nomination, but in 2008, Hillary Clinton's finances were regarded by some as so scandalous (payoffs) that there was a demand to see her taxes. This cry was taken up by the Obama campaign, and Clinton said she would not release them until she had the nomination. She continued to say so well into 2008, but finally was shamed into releasing hers after Obama released his. Nevertheless, the anti-Bernie cult has made a big deal out of demanding he release his taxes, even though (a) he did and (b) he has 30 solid years of financial disclosures publicly available as required by law for members of Congress. When he announced again, even the press took up the "Will you release your taxes?" cry and it has been a consistent theme from the alt-center. When he said he would release them this year on tax day, it was as if the cry went out - intensified demands and claims that he'd never release them from Donut Twitter, long threads about what he'd been hiding. By the final week before April 15th, there was a sudden shift to numerous Twitter handles all erupting at once with the statement that the important thing would be how much he'd donated to charity. The year-old news that he'd sold his book for a bunch of money became new news again, ardently discussed by idiots who seemed to think it was hypocritical for him to (a) keep his money or (b) advocate for reduced income inequality while actually having a little more wealth than the most people can make in such a short period of time. (Just for the record, a million dollars is enough to live a comfortable middle-class lifestyle for an entire adult lifetime in some parts of the country, but not if the law requires you to have a home hundreds of miles from where you go to work every day in an expensive city.) People were, of course, sending out "where are his taxes?" tweets hours after he'd released them, and naturally no one apologized for claiming he'd never release them, but now they are even going so far as to claim his book was ghost-written. Clintons really do make people crazy.

And speaking of that, the whole book thing turned someone at Think Progress full-on whacko, producing a specious video that falsely claims that Sanders has stopped saying "millionaires" since he made his million on the book. This isn't the first time they've gone after him, or after Warren, and that's not surprising given the kind of people who fund Center for American Progress, whose blog TP is. Unlike last time, he is hitting back. Thomas Neuburger posted about it in "Sanders Takes the Campaign Against CAP to Eleven," praising the Sanders team for calling CAP out. Threads on Twitter are bringing attention not just to the funding by dubious entities, but also making more people aware that CAP also donates to the far-right American Enterprise Institute. Robert Borosage in The Nation says, "The Democratic Primary May Get Ugly, but It's a Necessary Fight: The spat between Bernie Sanders and the Center for American Progress is a sign of things to come." And Harold Meyerson was inspired to write. "How Think Progress Would Have Attacked Franklin Roosevelt: The Center for American Progress is hardly the first institution to label liberals and leftists of some means as inauthentic or hypocritical for their own attacks on concentrated wealth."

"Sanders gets endorsements from 7 black S. Carolina lawmakers: SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Thursday announced endorsements from seven black lawmakers in the critical early voting state of South Carolina, a show of force in the first place where African American voters feature prominently in next year's primary elections. Sanders' 2020 campaign made the announcement just ahead of a Spartanburg town hall meeting with members of the state's Legislative Black Caucus. The backing represents the biggest number of black lawmakers to back a 2020 hopeful to date in this state, which holds the first primary in the South."

"5 Weird Items In The New Bernie-Buttigieg Poll" — Bernie had pulled ahead in polling, but that was before Biden announced, so we shall see. Can't believe Buttigieg got ahead of Warren. Ugh. Oh, but this is Forbes, so the writer only focused on stuff that would hit Bernie. It all looks worse if you look at Klobuchar, Booker, and Gillibrand supporters.

Eric Levitz, "Joe Biden May Be Less Electable Than He Looks [...] In 2016, the Trump campaign put significant energy into spotlighting aspects of Hillary Clinton's record that young, nonwhite Democrats might find alienating. And disappointing turnout among those constituencies in key states were one of the many factors that enabled Trump's victory. So, it's at least conceivable that Biden's own liabilities with millenials and African-Americans would prove similarly costly — and thus, that when Democratic primary voters look past those blotches in Uncle Joe's record, they are actually being the opposite of pragmatic."

Andrew Cockburn of Harper's told Democracy Now! Why Joe Biden's poll numbers could "come down in a hurry" now that he's officially running, and RJ Eskow dissected Biden's launch video on The Zero Hour.

Since he entered the race because teenagers asked him to, Nicole Sandler interviewed Mike Gravel.

"O'Rourke family sues government to lower taxes on shopping center: Back when he served on the El Paso City Council, Beto O'Rourke prodded his hometown to shift more of its property tax burden from homeowners to commercial property owners. But now, he is a minority partner in an O'Rourke family-owned shopping center that is suing the government to lower the amount of taxes it pays on the property."

"The 2020 battle is on: Elizabeth Warren accuses Joe Biden of siding with credit card companies over struggling Americans: Sen. Elizabeth Warren became the first 2020 Democrat to directly attack former Vice President Joe Biden following his Thursday announcement that he's joining the presidential primary. Asked by a reporter on Thursday about a 2005 fight the two had over bankruptcy legislation, Warren was clear that she believed Biden took the side opposing American families. 'I got in that fight because [families] just didn't have anyone and Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies," Warren said after a rally in Iowa. "It's all a matter of public record.'"

Doug Henwood, "I Can't Believe Elizabeth Warren Is Losing to These Guys: Almost every day Elizabeth Warren comes out with serious policy proposals. They're rarely even baby steps down the road to socialism, but most of them would make this country a better place. But lacking a media-friendly history of being a skateboarding 'punk' rocker or a stint with McKinsey — and you might think, not being a man — she can't get any attention for them. She can't get out of the mid-single digits in the polls, and PredictIt, the political betting site, puts her chances of winning the nomination at 7 percent. She's having trouble raising money; she lagged Mayor Pete in the first quarter funding haul even though he was a nobody who'd just entered the race."

"Warren approaches breakout with black voters: BEAUFORT, S.C. — When Elizabeth Warren got a question on housing discrimination at a campaign event this week, she went into full wonk mode — and the diverse crowd packed into a middle-school auditorium ate it up. The Massachusetts senator launched into a brief history lesson on African-American homebuyers being rejected outside designated areas, black families getting hit hardest by subprime mortgages and foreclosures during the 2008 crash, and black homeownership still lagging far behind whites. 'That's a problem, and it's a race problem,' Warren thundered, emphasizing 'race' as the crowd erupted into applause. 'And we need to attack it head on.'"

"Elizabeth Warren just unveiled a plan to cancel student debt for 75% of Americans [...] Under Warren's plan, every person with an annual household income under $100,000 would automatically have $50,000 of their student loan debt forgiven. That would immediately wipe out debt for 75 percent of the 45 million Americans with student loans and provide some sort of relief for 95 percent, according to the Massachusetts senator. For every $3 people earn beyond the $100,000 threshold, they lose $1 of the $50,000 in debt forgiven. In other words, if they make $100,003, just $49,999 of their debt will be canceled. Nobody in a household making above $250,000 a year will get student-debt relief. The proposal would still offer federal grants to low-income students to help them cover non-tuition expenses, like housing, textbooks, and food, at universities. Warren's plan also places an emphasis on students of color through an additional $50 billion fund for historically black universities, which she said would help close the racial wealth gap." The plan is covered by her wealth tax proposal.

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren Calls for Trump to Be Impeached: 'The House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States,' the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate said."

"Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple employees donating to Elizabeth Warren, even though she wants to break up big tech: Sen. Elizabeth Warren's pledge to break up Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies has provoked a surprising response from some of those firms' employees: They're writing her checks. The Massachusetts senator received more than $39,000 in donations from employees of Amazon, Apple, Facebook or Google, ranking third among her fellow Democratic 2020 presidential contenders. And she did even better among all donors who describe themselves as software engineers or programmers, coming in second behind Sen. Bernie Sanders."

"Does Andrew Yang Want The Most Regressive Tax In The World? (TMBS 85)" - UBI has a left and a right wing, and Andrew Yang doesn't sound like he's on the left one. He wants a VAT, too.

Here's some good new! "House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer Is Facing A Primary Challenge: MCKAYLA WILKES, a 28-year-old administrative assistant, part-time student, and mother of two, has had enough. In late March, she announced that she was mounting a bid for Maryland's 5th Congressional District, aiming to unseat one of the oldest and most powerful Democratic members, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Wilkes is running on a host of progressive policies, but plans to put particular focus on Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and affordable housing. A student of political science, Wilkes hasn't formerly been involved in politics before, but thinks the moment is too urgent to wait. She wants more 'relatable people' in Congress and is fed up with Hoyer's record, which she says does not adequately represent the needs of those living in his district. 'We need someone who will be a voice for us, who knows what we go through as daily constituents, and Steny Hoyer has been in office so long he's never really had to be a regular constituent,' she said. Hoyer, who is 79 years old, was first elected to Congress in 1981." That's not actually the problem with Hoyer, though - he's always been like this. But it would be cool if McKayla Wilkes could do to Hoyer what Donna Edwards did to Al Wynn.

I'm certainly no fan of Obama but this story — "Mueller's report looks bad for Obama" — looks wrong to me. The Iran deal was important, and the real problem with our elections is that we have a vast network of misinformational propaganda coming from Republicans, Democrats, our government, and enthusiastically embraced by our media, keeping Americans confused about what's really going on and making everyone vulnerable to every rumor from every source. We have voter-suppression coming from American partisans. We have unauditable, hackable voting machines. We don't even have real exit polls anymore, nor pay attention to their results when we do, so we have no real checks on election integrity. While it's true that the Republican Party is more overt, organized, and systematic about maintaining and expanding this situation, you'd have to be a fool to think the Democratic Party has not enabled it and in many cases discouraged any real opposition to it. If you want to blame Obama for the results of the 2016 election — and I think you justifiably can — blame the way he presided over our economy and betrayed his voters, which was a disaster and should have been the real scandal. We didn't need Russians to give us such an outcome, it was coming for a long time.

Speaking of that, Eric Rauchway has a piece in Boston Review called "Obama's Original Sin" on Reed Hundt's A Crisis Wasted: Barack Obama's Defining Decisions: which I would like to quote from but they made it too annoying to do, but I recommend you read the whole thing. He remarks on the bizarre idea Geithner and Obama had that Roosevelt chose not to work with Hoover to let things fester before coming into office, a false narrative they seem to have spread among their followers but whose source no one seems to be able to track down. And so the Obama administration fell neatly into the trap that Hoover had tried to lay for FDR that he had so neatly avoided.

"What the Mueller Report Actually Says" is less informative in many ways than Lee Camp's points about reversed timing, thinness of content, and, again, the shameless lack of interest both parties have ever shown about election integrity.

California ordered to use settlement money as it was intended — to help homeowners: California is wrongly holding on to $331 million from a nationwide bank settlement and must use the money for its intended purpose: to help homeowners victimized by foreclosures during the Great Recession, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday. The money was part of the state's share of a settlement in 2012 with the nation's five largest mortgage servicers — Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and GMAC — that had been accused of abusive lending practices. The settlement also contained more than $20 billion in direct aid to homeowners nationwide who had been harmed by a wave of foreclosures that started in the recession of 2008-09. "

"Court rules Michigan district maps are unconstitutional: A federal court in Michigan on Thursday became the latest in the country to strike down its state's district maps, ruling that they were examples of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. The lawsuit, filed late last year by the League of Women Voters on behalf of eleven Democratic voters, alleged that the legislative and congressional maps in question violated their constitutional rights. [...] The court cited evidence that showed Republicans loaded some districts with Democratic voters, and divided Democratic communities between other Republican-held seats, practices known as packing and cracking. The judges' order that the districts be redrawn before the 2020 election will almost certainly be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is considering two other partisan gerrymandering cases, out of North Carolina and Maryland, and may issue a stay on the Michigan decision until those cases are resolved. [...] The League of Women Voters pointed to election results that show Republicans hold a disproportionate number of legislative and congressional seats in Michigan, even though they won only about half the number of total votes cast. Republicans hold seven of 14 congressional seats in Michigan, after Democrats won back two Republican-held seats last November. Republicans hold 22 of 38 seats in the state Senate, and 58 of 110 seats in the state House. The judges accepted the League's argument."

"Gallup: 'Americans aren't as pro-Israel as we've been saying': Gallup explains that its polling, which consistently shows high American sympathy for Israel, is the result of 'priming' questions that influence respondents to falsely express pro-Israel leanings. Gallup buried this explosive admission."

Tennessee House passes bill that could penalize voter registration groups for mistakes: NASHVILLE — The Republican-led Tennessee House on Monday night approved a controversial bill imposing new requirements on some voter registration groups that could subject them to civil and possibly even criminal penalties and fines in cases where they submit too many problematic registrations. House Bill 1079 passed in a 71-26 vote along party lines after a heated debate. It now goes to the Senate. Pointing to confusion in the 2018 November election, when election officials in Memphis and Nashville were deluged with thousands of last-minute forms from organizers of voter registration drives, GOP proponents say the bill was brought to them by Secretary of State Tre Hargett, a Republican, to prevent a repeat of that chaos and its incomplete forms. Democrats and others, however, charged that it is part of a continuing effort by Republicans to suppress voter turnout, especially for minorities in a state already known for having low voter registration and, at times, the worst voter turnout nationwide."

"Texas Bill Prohibiting Male Masturbation Moves Closer To Becoming Law: A proposed bill in Texas that would impose a fine for male masturbation is making its way through the state's legislature. House Bill 4260, called the 'Man's Right to Know Act,' would punish male masturbation with a $100 fine, and require men who want Viagra to be subject to a rectal exam. The bill, filed earlier this year by Texas legislator Rep. Jessica Farrar (D), was referred to the House State Affairs Committee on Tuesday. By focusing on male masturbation, the proposed legislation is an obvious attempt to satirize and draw attention to the unreasonable and dangerous policy proposals concerning women's reproductive freedom coming from the Republican Party."

I became aware of this because of a tweet (worth reading the thread for people giving their own stories about how landlords abused them), which led to an article by London housing activist Kirsty Archer, "Why I went viral on Twitter after talking about being evicted on Sky News: The patronising interviewer, who is a landlord, demonstrated the contempt with which many landlords view renters." There's a reason I don't subscribe to Sky, but of course, it's not just Sky. "As it stands, section 21 gives landlords huge power over our lives and discourages renters from making complaints or requesting repairs, for fear of section 21 revenge evictions. Since 2015, around 140,000 other tenants have been victims of revenge evictions making section 21 the leading cause of homelessness in England, displacing huge numbers of working people and migrants from their communities each year." Little did she know that she was being interviewed by a landlord.

"Wells Fargo and other banks paid colleges so they could market accounts to students, putting them at risk of high fees: This month, you're likely to read many stories about the importance — particularly for young people — of understanding compound interest, budgeting and other concepts key to creating a healthy financial life. April, dubbed National Financial Literacy Month, is traditionally when the personal finance and banking industries celebrate the benefits of knowing how to manage your money. But a new report suggests that at least for college students, knowing which tools are best for them can be a challenge because certain banks pay universities to advertise their products to students."

Matt Stoller tweets: This is potentially the most disturbing merger I've ever seen. Roche, which makes an very expensive treatment for hemophilia, is trying to buy Spark Therapeutics, which has a very promising potential cure for hemophilia. I wonder if there are conflicts." The link is to "Roche Makes $4.8 Billion Bid for Spark Therapeutics and Its Gene Therapy Programs."

Matt Taibbi, "Why the Assange Arrest Should Scare Reporters [...] Much of the American media audience views the arrested WikiLeaks founder through the lens of the 2016 election, after which he was denounced as a Russian cutout who threw an election for Trump. But the current indictment is the extension of a years-long effort, pre-dating Trump, to construct a legal argument against someone who releases embarrassing secrets. [...] Last year, we reported a rumored American criminal case against Assange was not expected to have anything to do with 2016, Russians, or DNC emails. This turned out to be the case, as the exact charge is for conspiracy, with Chelsea Manning, to hack into a 'classified U.S. government computer.' The indictment unveiled today falls just short of a full frontal attack on press freedoms only because it indicts on something like a technicality: specifically, an accusation that Assange tried (and, seemingly, failed) to help Manning crack a government password. For this reason, the language of the indictment underwhelmed some legal experts who had expressed concerns about the speech ramifications of this case before. 'There's a gray area here,' says University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck. 'But the government at least tries to put this at the far end of the gray area.' Not everyone agreed. Assange lawyer Barry Pollock said the allegations 'boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identify of that source.' 'The weakness of the US charge against Assange is shocking,' tweeted Edward Snowden. 'The allegation he tried (and failed?) to help crack a password during their world-famous reporting has been public for nearly a decade: it is the count Obama's DOJ refused to charge, saying it endangered journalism.' Part of the case clearly describes conduct that exists outside the normal parameters of press-source interaction, specifically the password issue. However, the evidence about this part of the conspiracy seems thin, limited mainly to Assange saying he'd had 'no luck so far,' apparently in relation to attempts to crack the password. The meatier parts of the indictment speak more to normal journalistic practices. In its press release, the Justice Department noted Assange was 'actively encouraging Manning' to provide more classified information. In the indictment itself, the government noted Assange told Manning, who said she had no more secrets to divulge, 'curious eyes never run dry.' Also in the indictment: 'It is part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure.' Reporters have extremely complicated relationships with sources, especially whistleblower types like Manning, who are often under extreme stress and emotionally vulnerable. At different times, you might counsel the same person both for and against disclosure. It's proper to work through all the reasons for action in any direction, including weighing the public's interest, the effect on the source's conscience and mental health, and personal and professional consequences. For this reason, placing criminal penalties on a prosecutor's interpretation of such interactions will likely put a scare into anyone involved with national security reporting going forward. As Ben Wizner of the ACLU put it: 'Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for WikiLeaks' publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations.' Unfortunately, Assange's case, and the very serious issues it raises, will be impacted in profound ways by things that took place long after the alleged offenses, specifically the Russiagate story. It's why some reporters are less than concerned about the Assange case today. [...] It will therefore be interesting to see if Assange is finally asked about Russiagate by someone in American officialdom. If he isn't, that will be yet another curious detail in a case that gets stranger by the minute. As for Assange's case, coverage by a national press corps that embraced him at the time of these offenses — and widely re-reported his leaks — will likely focus on the narrow hacking issue, as if this is not really about curtailing legitimate journalism. In reality, it would be hard to find a more extreme example of how deep the bipartisan consensus runs on expanding the policing of leaks."

"Daniel Ellsberg on the Importance of Julian Assange: 'As part of their attempt to blacken WikiLeaks and Assange, pundit commentary ... has tried to portray Assange's exposure of classified materials as very different from — and far less laudable than — what Daniel Ellsberg did in releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg strongly rejects the mantra 'Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad.' He continues: 'That's just a cover for people who don't want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.'"

"While Much of US Media Plays Along, Critics Warn Assange Indictment an 'Obvious' Ploy With Deeper Dangers: 'This precedent means that any journalist can be extradited for prosecution in the United States for having published truthful information about the U.S.'"

And Naked Capitalism has a round-up on the Assange story. If one thing is clear, the charge is just the only thing they could come up with to try to get around Britain's extradition laws, but he is being tried for publishing, regardless of what they say they are charging him for.

"Wendell Primus, The Most Powerful Staffer In Congress, Represents A Generational Divide On The Left - David Dayen also talked about this with Sam Seder, The Top Pelosi Aide Aiming to Kill Medicare For All w/ David Dayen - MR Live - 4/17/19. The saddest thing is that Primus really thinks he's defending what's left of the New Deal by behaving this way. Getting into a defensive crouch has really been the strategy of the Democratic Party since the '70s, but they really seem to have frozen in time once Reagan got into office.

Bloomberg, "The Super Rich of Silicon Valley Have a Doomsday Escape Plan: Wealthy Americans have stepped up investment in New Zealand. Parliament votes to ban foreigners from buying bolt-hole homes." This is actually old news, but someone pointed it out to me when I remarked that back in the early days of this blog I wondered where they were planning to live after ruining the world. And it's not exactly a standalone - from The New Yorker, "Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich. Rich people from New York to Seattle have been building bunkers in Kansas, compounds in the Rockies, and buying up islands in the Pacific Northwest. And this one is even freakier: "Survival of the Richest [...] Last year, I got invited to a super-deluxe private resort to deliver a keynote speech to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment bankers. It was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for a talk — about half my annual professor's salary — all to deliver some insight on the subject of 'the future of technology.' [...] They started out innocuously enough. Ethereum or bitcoin? Is quantum computing a real thing? Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern. Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, 'How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?'"

Interesting news on how a cancer treatment I don't want to describe also has the interesting side effect of reducing autism symptoms. Makes ya think, huh?

You thought Tom Lehrer was just a math teacher who wrote funny songs, but little did you know he also invented Jell-O Shots.


  1. Apparently I am not someone who hates to be an appendage, so isn't it a head-scratcher that the former attorney general of a state can't keep the usage of "implied" and "inferred" straight? [LINK]