Monday, July 29, 2019

And there are no truths outside the gates of Eden

So, after Pelosi and her pals painted a target on Ilhan Omar's back and spent the last few weeks dissing her, AOC, Tlaib and Pressley in the press, Donald Trump picked up his cues and attacked them. So Bernie Sanders asked in one of his campaign's regular fundraising letters that supporters send some of the money they were going to give him to these four women. The H8% was ready with angry threads about how the evil Bernie was "using" them to fundraise. (I liked this response.)

And speaking of that, "Moderate Democrats Warn That AOC Is Distracting From Their Nonexistent Message: Moderate Democrats are sick and tired of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her 'squad' dominating the headlines. Thus, to ensure that those four progressive congresswomen do not garner any additional media attention, several House moderates decided to complain about them anonymously in interviews with CNN Wednesday. [...] If your goal is to galvanize media attention around bread-and-butter issues, whining to Jake Tapper seems like a less effective tactic than, say, taking interesting stances on bread-and-butter issues. And yet, as Vox's Matt Yglesias notes, it has been House moderates — not Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, or AOC — who have prevented House Democrats from advancing several of their most compelling messaging bills. Nancy Pelosi's caucus finally passed a $15 federal minimum wage Thursday. But Pelosi had promised to pass that (popular) policy within 100 hours after assuming the speakership. Instead, it has taken seven months for her to grind down moderate opposition. Meanwhile, centrist Democrats have blocked their party from passing a bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices, a measure that would effectively transfer large sums of money out of Big Pharma's profit margins and into seniors' pockets. This a winning issue in every district in the country (at least, if you value the approval of voters more than lobbyists)."

And from The Onion, "Pelosi Concerned Outspoken Progressive Flank Of Party Could Harm Democrats' Reputation As Ineffectual Cowards"

It's not funny. Seriously, DDay: Pelosi's Bargaining Chip: Privatize the VA Faster?: While we're consumed with racist tweets, an important discussion about how government dollars will be spent is happening right now. There's something of a fiscal cliff coming in the next couple months, as the annual budget must be approved by the end of September, the debt limit must be lifted, and without a multi-year budget deal sequestration would return. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin did something stupid in negotiations by tipping his hand, noting that the debt limit would be reached by September and asking for a short-term extension. Speaker Pelosi jumped on that. There won't be a short-term debt limit deal, making the White House more desperate to agree to terms. What Pelosi appears to be angling for is this: parity between defense and non-defense spending, and several billion dollars extra for the VA MISSION Act, which privatizes the VA. And I think that's it." Yes, that's right, Nancy Pelosi thought that instead of getting something we need, she would use her leverage to privatize the VA faster.

Aidan Smith in The Nation, "The Overlooked Difference Between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren: It's their approach to party politics—not policy—that truly sets the progressive senators apart. [...] There's only so much a Democratic majority could accomplish as long as the party's institutions are ridden with hedge fund managers, defense contractors, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and other actors whose interests are in diametric opposition to the progressive reforms that Sanders and Warren champion. In the two years since Trump's inauguration, the leadership of the Democratic Party has invested far more time and energy into curbing potential opposition from its left than it has to resisting the total acquisition of America's political institutions by the far right. Sanders intimately understands this. Warren, irrespective of her personal beliefs, does not operate as if she does, and that could prove a major impediment to achieving her policy goals."

Bernie Sanders has an answer to school busing - for today.

Bernie Sanders speaks during NAACP forum in Detroit

"Sanders Tops Democrats' List Of Most Liked 2020 Candidates: Gallup: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the Democratic Party's most liked 2020 presidential candidate, according to a new Gallup survey released Friday. Out of 10 candidates ranked in the poll, Gallup found that Democrats had the most favorable opinion of Sanders, with 72 percent of respondents indicating a favorable view of the senator. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been leading every national poll of the 2020 roster, earned the second-highest favorable rating from Democrats, at 69 percent."

And let's see how the latest smear against Ilhan Omar is created and propagated....

Katie Halper at FAIR, "MSNBC's Anti-Sanders Bias Makes It Forget How to Do Math" — It's just amazing how the folks at MSBBC just can't seem to read a poll.

Mysteriously, no one seems to want you to know that there is bill and that it's actually advancing. This is weird, because it's a good thing. Let your representatives know you're watching. "Alex Lawson: We WILL Expand Social Security" on The Zero Hour.

"Sanders and Warren voters have astonishingly little in common: His backers are younger, make less money, have fewer degrees and are less engaged in politics."

"How Texas Accidentally Legalized Marijuana" - that moment when you legalize low levels of THC and then realize you have no way to test levels of THC.

David Atkins in The Washington Monthly, "What's the Point of Democratic Leaders Insulting AOC and Friends? [...] Actively dissing the party's most energized base to a national columnist makes no sense unless you actively believe that the energized base isn't just potentially losing the votes of a handful of people who would be irrelevant but for their irrational empowerment by the electoral college, but rather that the energized base truly speaks for only a tiny minority of the country." It really does seem like Pelosi is out of her mind.

This is Ryan Grim talking about Tiffany Caban's attempt to become DA in Queens. She won the primary but then the machine decided to disallow some of the ballots. She's fighting it, but we will see what happens.

"Nancy Pelosi Has Lost Control: New York's corrupt machine is running its own show for House Democrats. Two days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called a meeting admonishing her caucus to stop publicly criticizing each other on Twitter, the official House Democrats Twitter account launched a public broadside against a staffer for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The tweet itself is a cheap smear, the strain of context-free character assassination deployed by 4chan-dwellers and alt-right agitators, assailing a prominent liberal with a snippet of an old Twitter conversation. Two days later, party leaders are hoping everyone will forget the whole thing, and President Donald Trump's racist rant targeting Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) has sucked up most of the oxygen in Washington. But the House Dems' tweet carries a symbolic power that a turn of the news cycle can't erase. One of Pelosi's top lieutenants, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the caucus chair, effectively declared war on Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti on Friday night. Nobody in leadership has apologized for it, recanted or publicly rebuked anyone. The tweet is still live. Not since Anthony Weiner's sexual misconduct scandal in 2011 had the Democratic Party leadership targeted one of its own with such ferocity. Divided over how to oppose Trump and his agenda, party leadership attempted to purge its own ranks, and only eased up when the president himself attacked the same members that leadership had been blasting for weeks." Of course, the alternative view is that Nancy Pelosi hasn't lost control, and sounding like Trump just doesn't bother her.

Ryan Grim is in The Washington Post saying more about Democratic history. "Haunted by the Reagan era: Past defeats still scare older Democratic leaders — but not the younger generation Newly elected Democrats in the House of Representatives spent June 27 with the sinking feeling that it was happening again: Their party was going to cave to President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on a viscerally emotional issue. Just after a searing photo circulated of a father and his young daughter who had drowned in each other's arms while fleeing for the sanctuary of U.S. shores, Democrats in Congress let a GOP-drafted spending bill go through that did nothing to address conditions for detained immigrant children — abandoning a House version that would have ordered improvements. House leaders blamed Senate Democrats for capitulating; Senate Democrats attacked the House for poor negotiating. [...] Frustration with the refusal to stand up for principle is boiling over among younger Democrats. On issue after issue — impeachment, Medicare-for-all, a $15 minimum wage, free public college, a Green New Deal — the answer from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other Democratic leaders is consistent: Now is not the time; the country isn't ready. Push too fast or too far, and there'll be a backlash."

Unbelievably, Kamala Harris is tooting her own horn about her role in the prosecutions of the criminal banksters. "Kamala Harris' Claims About Her Record on Big Banks 'Doesn't Withstand a Moment's Scrutiny': Dayen said today: 'Kamala Harris's role in the failed attempt to hold banks accountable for stealing homes from families during the foreclosure crisis was no more or less tragic than that of many other officials. But now that she's running for president, Harris is not only eliding responsibility for her part in the failure, but claiming it as an outright success. That claim doesn't withstand a moment's scrutiny.'"

When the worst people in the world hate your candidate: "Haim Saban loves every Democratic candidate . . . except Bernie Sanders, who he thinks is turning Dems against AIPAC [...] Saban, who is worth an estimated $3.2 billion, has donated millions of dollars to Democrats and pro-Israel efforts throughout the years alongside his wife Cheryl, president of their Saban Family Foundation. 'The basic strategy is 50-50. Meaning for every dollar we give in America, we give a dollar in Israel,' he says in the interview."

Saying what mustn't be said: "Ilhan Omar: Obama's a 'pretty face' who got 'away with murder': Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar ripped former President Barack Obama in an interview published Friday, belittling his 'pretty face' and saying his agenda of hope and change was an illusion. She cited the 'caging of kids' at the Mexican border and the 'droning of countries around the world' on Obama's watch — and argued that he wasn't much different from President Trump. 'We can't be only upset with Trump,' the freshman firebrand told Politico Magazine. 'His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,' Omar said. 'And that's not what we should be looking for anymore. We don't want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.'"

"House Democrats Are Panicked About Primaries, And New York Shows How Potent They Can Be: A SPECTER IS haunting the House of Representatives: the specter of primaries. All the powers of the status quo have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter. Blacklists have been drawn up; arms have been locked. The ferocity with which House Democratic incumbents have rallied around each other reached absurd new dimensions this week. With Crisanta Duran, the first Latina state House speaker in Colorado history, challenging Rep. Diana Degette, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus weighed into the primary — on behalf of Degette. "

"Bernie Sanders' Democratic Socialism Speech Was a Landmark: In a single speech, Bernie showed why he's an existential threat to the political establishment. He decried poverty and exploitation and named capitalism as the culprit and democratic socialism as the solution.

I think this paragraph from Bill Scher's "How the Democratic Netroots Died" is funny: "In March 2008, a group of Daily Kos diarists who backed Clinton staged a virtual walkout in protest of the site's tilt toward Obama. Moulitsas shot back that Clinton's refusal to drop out showed she was 'eager to split the party apart in her mad pursuit of power.' His Crashing the Gate co-author, Armstrong, saw the race differently; in his view, Clinton 'showed signs of being accountable to the netroots movement' while Obama 'didn't need the netroots' and 'was basically an identity-politics cult' leader. Armstrong later quit blogging and worked for Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2012."

RIP: "1960s prankster Paul Krassner, who named Yippies, dies at 87: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul Krassner, the publisher, author and radical political activist on the front lines of 1960s counterculture who helped tie together his loose-knit prankster group by naming them the Yippies, died Sunday in Southern California, his daughter said. [...] The Yippies, who included Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman and were otherwise known as the Youth International Party, briefly became notorious for such stunts as running a pig for president and throwing dollar bills onto the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange." He had worked for Mad but caught my attention when he published The Realist for years and I was one of his admirers, even more so when I found out that before the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, he had been "Jane". I found him standing next to me that day on the Ellipse while we were watching Abbie Hoffman chase the pig around (before being arrested for wearing that shirt). I talked to him for a bit but I didn't tell him he was one of my heroes.

RIP: "Former US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died at the age of 99, after suffering a stroke.. One of the longest-serving US justices, he was on the liberal side of the court despite being appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford. He wrote more dissenting opinions than any other Supreme Court Justice in US history, and retired in 2010." During the Bush years, we all spent a lot of time hoping Stevens would outlast the administration, Al Franken, then doing a show on Air America Radio, wrote a song to the tune of "Hang On, Sloopy" with the lyrics, "Hang on, Stevens." Sadly, no one seems to have saved it to YouTube as a historical artifact.

RIP: "Rip Torn, cult actor, dies aged 88:" Huh, I hadn't realized the role that made Jack Nicholson famous was originally written for Rip Torn. Check out the video of Torn and Norman Mailer actually coming to blows.

"Nancy Pelosi's renewed attacks on AOC aren't just disrespectful, they're dangerous: America is becoming an increasingly hostile place for women and for people of color. Pelosi's constant public attacks against the four newly elected women of color aren't just disrespectful, they're dangerous. Whether she means to or not, her repeated insinuations that the Squad are rabble-rousing upstarts who are undermining the Democratic party helps bolster the right's vitriolic narratives about the congresswomen. As America grows increasingly brazen in its bigotry, Pelosi should be aggressively standing up for her freshman colleagues, not trying to tear them down. So why isn't she?

Elizabeth Spiers in The New Republic, "Beyond Pelosi: Why impeachment can't penetrate the cult of D.C. savvy.: Every time I see Nancy Pelosi patiently spell out the higher political wisdom of refraining from impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, I think of Alan Greenspan. That's obviously not because the speaker of the House and the famously tight-lipped former Fed chair have any affinities of political outlook or personal temperament. Rather, it's because as a former financial journalist, I'm reminded of how Greenspan's observers in the financial industry tended to project all manner of genius onto him simply because he refused to articulate, in any concrete way that involved anything so crass as a narrative, what he was thinking or doing. For market watchers and finance industry savants, Greenspan was a human koan upon which they were expected to puzzle out their own economic enlightenment. If you didn't get it, you were the idiot. And now I get the sense that Pelosi's refusal to articulate her strategy with regard to Trump is being met with the same familiar projection of assumed good faith and competence."

Atrios on the fundamental error of wonkiness on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, "Bending The Cost Curve: Too often lost in all the discussion of ACA is that its prime architects were just fundamentally wrong. This is not an argument that ACA should not have been passed, it's an argument that the wonks who had all those wonky wonk wonk profiles written about them as they were getting rich on grifting in various ways were wrong about what they saw as the fundamental problems - and solutions to - our private insurance system. [...] Imagine being in the hospital waiting for your chemo treatment and hearing the president telling you that the problem with our health care system is that people don't have enough "skin in the game." The thing about health care is that you do, by definition, have skin in the game. Your fucking skin."

"Most Veterans Say America's Wars Are a Waste. No One's Listening to Them. There's a widening gap between Washington's bipartisan militarism and veterans' bipartisan war-skepticism. [...] The only meaningful variation pollsters found among vets was by party identification: Republican-identifying veterans were likelier to approve of the wars. But even a majority of those GOP vets now say the wars were not worth waging."

Not only is he a creepy bully and the most disgusting quisling Dem in Congress, but "Rep. Josh Gottheimer Is A Really, Really Terrible Boss, Former Staffers Say [...] I heard from staffers who worked for him when he was a lawyer at the Federal Communications Commission ('Josh Gottheimer is the biggest [jerk] I have ever worked for, ever') to his time at the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller ('He was a terror there') to his first campaign for Congress ('When I was reading those [Sen. Amy] Klobuchar stories, I was like, maybe Gottheimer isn't unique') to his congressional office ('Never experienced anything like it. Narcissistic, egotistical sociopath')." His priority is fundraising and he's sitting on a pile of cash, so going after him will be hard if anyone tries to primary him.

Robert Kuttner, "Neoliberalism: Political Success, Economic Failure: The invisible hand is more like a thumb on the scale for the world's elites. That's why market fundamentalism has been unmasked as bogus economics but keeps winning politically. Since the late 1970s, we've had a grand experiment to test the claim that free markets really do work best. This resurrection occurred despite the practical failure of laissez-faire in the 1930s, the resulting humiliation of free-market theory, and the contrasting success of managed capitalism during the three-decade postwar boom. Yet when growth faltered in the 1970s, libertarian economic theory got another turn at bat. This revival proved extremely convenient for the conservatives who came to power in the 1980s. The neoliberal counterrevolution, in theory and policy, has reversed or undermined nearly every aspect of managed capitalism—from progressive taxation, welfare transfers, and antitrust, to the empowerment of workers and the regulation of banks and other major industries. [...] Now, after nearly half a century, the verdict is in. Virtually every one of these policies has failed, even on their own terms. Enterprise has been richly rewarded, taxes have been cut, and regulation reduced or privatized. The economy is vastly more unequal, yet economic growth is slower and more chaotic than during the era of managed capitalism. Deregulation has produced not salutary competition, but market concentration. Economic power has resulted in feedback loops of political power, in which elites make rules that bolster further concentration."

I often get the feeling that people demanding programs that only benefit black people are actually trying to undermine programs that would massively benefit black people. "Stuck: The Absence of a Political Argument in the Debate Over Reparations: On June 17, in Washington, D.C., Reverend William Barber and the Poor People's Campaign hosted a presidential forum as a part of its three-day event called the Poor People's Moral Action Congress. In his discussions with each presidential candidate, Reverend Barber hewed to questions that focused tightly on the way that voter disenfranchisement, especially disenfranchisement of Black voters, helps to maintain poverty for people of all races. He, in fact, took pains to note that the states most impacted by voter suppression also tend to be the states with the highest rates of overall poverty. To underline this insight, he consistently returned to the point that our nation's 140 million low-wage workers and people in poverty, while disproportionately Black, is, in raw numbers, majority white. Consistent with his efforts to take up a modern-day version of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr's mission, Reverend Barber has taken on his messaging as well, [...] Since that writing, the common circumstances to which Reed refers have only grown more stark. Despite the relative historical weakness of the left and labor, and the nation's growing wealth concentration and general economic insecurity, the potential for solidarity continues to grow. It's not difficult to see the call for reparations, as Reed does, as an attempt to weaken that potential."

I can't remember if I posted this when it first came out, but since it keeps being thrown out as an example of how government can't do anything right, here's Barry Ritholtz, "Congress, Not Amazon, Messed Up the Post Office: Legislators passed a law that made the USPS less competitive with the private sector."

In The Atlantic, "Power Causes Brain Damage: How leaders lose mental capacities — most notably for reading other people — that were essential to their rise If power were a prescription drug, it would come with a long list of known side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. It can even make Henry Kissinger believe that he's sexually magnetic. But can it cause brain damage?"

Atrios reminded me of this oldie from The Onion, which is like every political argument I see lately: "This War Will Destabilize The Entire Mideast Region And Set Off A Global Shockwave Of Anti-Americanism vs. No It Won't"

"Stop Being a Tool for Asshole Anonymous Sources [...] So, what we have here is a Democratic aide on the Hill essentially accusing AOC of being a fake woman of color and a puppet for white liberals. That's an extremely serious and offensive charge. And yet we have no idea who leveled it."

I would have saved myself a lot of disappointment if I'd seen Rolling Stone's review of the TV adaptation of Catch-22, and the one from The New York Times, before I started watching it, but really, it left me a sputtering wreck. What the Stone and the Times don't tell you is that all of the horrible things that happen in the book because of blind chance, stupid bureaucracy, sadistic and callous officers, or just because war is war, happen in the TV show because Yossarian - er, pardon me, some guy who introduces himself as "Yo-Yo" (as Yossarian would never do) - is a callous, sloppy, selfish, thoughtless jerk who is single-minded for no reason even though Snowden hasn't even died yet. That's just leaving aside the fact that the book's wildly different and distinguished characters are all almost identical cut-outs in the TV show - even Orr is just another guy (who, by the way, doesn't do anything interesting like keep crashing his planes even though he's a brilliant pilot, have crabapples in his mouth, winterize the tent, or have oracular conversations with Yossarian). And: Hungry Joe's story is cut out of the script, of course, but that's no excuse for Yo-Yo being unaware that the paperwork always gets delayed when you finish your required number of missions so you have to keep flying anyway. (The show even leaves the impression that the number of missions keep getting raised not because Cathcart is a prick, but because Yo-Yo keeps getting under his skin.) And, for a final insult, Yo-Yo doesn't finally get Orr's message, but instead gets out of the war by doing what Yossarian would never do.

On the other hand, I didn't know what to expect from the movie Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, and I was charmed and touched by the story of a psych prof and his wife and their girlfriend who designed the lie detector as part of the larger project that resulted in the Wonder Woman comic.

"He was buried in a casket labeled: "Flight Recorder Inventor: Do Not Open.". The boy's father had died in a plane wreck, so he set about designing a recording device that would be likely to survive a crash and tell the tale.

"Oh My God, Jojo Rabbit Brought Back the Downfall Meme"

Bob Dylan and Neil Young, live, "Gates of Eden"

2 comments:

  1. Obama was very much an IDPol cult leader. He was a tool of the bankers, and he realized early on that by focusing on 'intersectionalist' feminism in policy, he could trick a lot of upper-class liberals into believing he was a good man despite failing on the primary issue of his day (The Great Depression). And in doing so, he showed the DNC and it's minions how to keep the 'left' in line without giving any attention to the economic horror show America has been for the last thirty years. He let rich liberals feel good about themselves even as they let much of America rot. Because the people in those parts of America were 'bad' people, and only manhattanite women and minorities counted as 'good' people.

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