Monday, September 30, 2019

Everybody's desperate, trying to make ends meet

David Dayen, "Great News: Wall Street Democrats Might Leave the Party: My fervent hope for many years could be coming true. [...] This is fantastic news. Anything that accelerates the split in the decades-long marriage between the alleged party of the people and Big Money should be celebrated. The transformation in policy that would ensue if Wall Street Democrats walk away from the party, freeing it from self-censorship and bad ideas, far outstrips whatever money they might raise for Democratic candidates."

Ryan Grim, "Why The House Democratic Caucus Was Able To Move So Rapidly Toward Impeachment"

It's only an occasional ray of sunshine, but every once in a while even a major network has a decent piece about Sanders. "Emotional town halls become centerpiece of Bernie Sanders' campaign: 'I'm a doctor, I've got a prescription and it's Medicare for All,' said one medical debt town hall attendee. 'We're leaving here today with another prescription in our pocket. That prescription is you, senator. Eighteen months from now, it's "Mr. President".'"

"Orrin Hatch: Joe Biden told me he 'didn't believe' Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas hearings: Former Vice President Joe Biden's handling of Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas is under new scrutiny, as a former Senate colleague and fellow Judiciary Committee member contradicted Biden's repeated recollections of his feelings at the time of those contentious hearings."

A Michael Brooks interview about good prospects in the upcoming Canadian election. Trudeau might just get kicked out for someone better.

The last presidential candidate to go to the all-female HBCU Bennett College was Shirley Chisholm. So it was a big deal when Bernie Sanders came with some friends to Greensboro.

David Dayen spent a lot of the last decade or so pointing out that presidents have enormous power and can do a lot to fix the system and help people. When a president doesn't do that, you have to conclude that they don't want to. But if they do, well, they can do a lot. "The Day One Agenda: Laws already on the books give a president great discretionary power for constructive change—without abusing executive authority." It's worth listening to Sam Seder's interview with David Dayen about this, and the reminder of why excusers who sneered at "the Green Lantern theory" were wrong.

Common Dreams, "MSNBC Pundit Who Accused Those Who Prefer Sanders to Warren of 'Sexism' Sparks Viral Outcry From #WomenforBernie: 'Not here to be vote shamed by the 1%. I am supporting the only candidate who will always put the needs of people first.' [...] Collectively, the argument from most Sanders supporters appears not be that they dislike Warren or her policies, but that they have come to believe that Sanders—largely based on his concept of political power and his lifelong commitment to a host of issues and values—is a truly unique and superior candidate overall." Embedded in the article is Katie Halper and Matt Taibbi's Useful Idiots podcast with guest Nathan Robinson, talking about Warren and Sanders, that's worth a listen.

RIP: Cherie Matrix-Holt, 1 April 1963-19 September 2019. longtime member of Feminists Against Censorship and member of the FAC publishing group, for which she edited Tales From the Clit: A Female Experience of Pornography, from metastatic small cell lung cancer. She was vibrant and inspiring and meant a lot to us all. She was my friend and I loved her. She complained of back pain and went to the doctor for relief, which lead to the discovery that cancer had been eating its way through her for a long time, and her death a few weeks later. I'm still reeling in shock.

RIP: Diplomat Joseph Wilson, who challenged lead-up to Iraq war, dies at 69: Diplomat Joseph Wilson, whose disagreements with the George W. Bush administration led to his then-wife Valerie Plame being outed as a CIA agent, died Friday, according to The New York Times."

Black Agenda Report, "Believe Absolutely Nothing the US Government and Media Say About...Anything [...] There was a time, not so long ago, when most Black Americans of all classes were highly skeptical of every word that emanated from the mouths of white folks in power in the United States. A substantial body of Black opinion believed nothing at all that appeared in the corporate media — which, back then, we simply called the 'white press.' It was a wise and healthy skepticism, learned over generations of enduring a constant stream of lies and slander against Black people from politicians and mass media of the two governing parties. These organs and mouthpieces of rich white people's power were no more to be trusted, as Malcolm X counseled, than 'foxes' (Democrats) and 'wolves' (Republicans). The logic of the collective Black domestic experience extended to international affairs, as well. We empathized with the 'colored' peoples of the world under attack by the U.S. government and media. If white politicians and press lied about us, we knew they were probably lying about their foreign non-white victims, as well. And we were right." So how did that change?

"Edward Snowden: Joe Biden Threatened Countries Not To Give Me Asylum: Edward Snowden revealed then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-Secretary of State John Kerry pressured countries that protect whistleblowers and asylum seekers to deny him entrance. In an interview with MSNBC's Brian Williams, Snowden said he applied for asylum to countries such as allies France and Germany but every time it got pulled."

"The Prospect Of An Elizabeth Warren Nomination Should Be Very Worrying [...] I understand that, if Sanders is the leftmost U.S. senator, and Warren the second leftmost, it seems nitpicky and fringe to disparage Warren. In fact, I've tried to refrain from criticizing Warren too much, because I think the difference between having either her or Sanders as the nominee and having someone else as the nominee is substantial, and if Sanders isn't it then by God it had better be Warren. Yet I think it is necessary for Sanders supporters to fight hard to make sure he is the nominee. Settling for Warren should be a last resort. "

Bernie Sanders has been promoting a wealth tax since at least 1972, so it was unsurprising — if also largely unheralded — when he tried to introduce one in 2014. Elizabeth Warren has recently introduced one, so it was even less surprising when Sanders refurbished the idea himself. My personal proposal is for a 200% tax on anything over $100 million, so I'm always happy when I see something like Luke Savage's "Abolish the Billionaire Class: Billionaires are the grotesque products of an exploitative, immoral economic system. We should get rid of them. [...] To state what should be obvious, these two facts are not unrelated. Vast concentrations of wealth in the hands of the few is both how and why there is so much poverty and insecurity among working and middle-class Americans, despite there being so much wealth overall. Thanks to their cumulative labor — in factories, schools, hospitals, care homes, restaurants, and throughout the economy — an immense amount of wealth is produced in a society like the United States, but much of it is expropriated by billionaires in the form of rents and capital income. No one earns a billion dollars, but hierarchical economic structures and a skewed political system ensure some nevertheless acquire it because of the property they own. A billion dollars, let alone the over $100 billion amassed by Jeff Bezos, is not a reward proportionate to someone's social contribution. It's institutionalized theft, plain and simple."

Also Luke Savage, "Liberalism in Theory and Practice: Contemporary liberals are temperamentally conservative — and what they want to conserve is a morally bankrupt political order. [...] No, that instinct owes much more to watching Barack Obama summon forth a tidal wave of popular goodwill, then proceed to invite the same old cadre of apparatchiks and financiers back into the White House to carry on business as usual despite the most punishing economic crisis since the Great Depression; to seeing the 'war on terror' become a permanent fixture of the global landscape long after its original architects had been booted from the halls of power, courtesy of supposedly enlightened humanitarians; to witnessing a potentially monumental hunger for change be sacrificed on the altar of managerialism and technocratic respectability. It comes from watching a smiling Nick Clegg stand next to David Cameron in the Rose Garden at Number 10 Downing Street before rubber-stamping a series of lacerating cuts to Britain's welfare state and betraying a generation of students in the process; to seeing the dexterity by which Canada's liberals gesture to the left then govern from the right; and from seeing the radical demands of global anti-austerity movements endlessly whittled down and regurgitated as neoliberal slam poetry to be recited at Davos by the hip young innovators du jour."

"Someone Should Do Something: After seeing the events of the past few days, in the light of the events of the days before those, in relation to the events that took place in the weeks, months, and years before that, I am strongly considering writing something that would address the question of whether Nancy Pelosi is bad at her job. If I did, I would argue that the House of Representatives, under Pelosi's leadership, has come to function as a necessary complement to the corruption and incompetence of President Donald Trump—that a lawless presidency can only achieve its fullest, ripest degree of lawlessness with the aid of a feckless opposition party, which the Democrats are eager to provide. My editor thinks that I should write this article. I understand that in a week when one of the president's most dedicated flunkies went before Congress to openly sneer at the idea that he should answer questions, making a show of obstructing what was supposed to be an investigation into obstruction of justice—a week now ending with reports, confirmed by the president's jabbering ghoul of a lawyer on television, that the president tried to force a foreign country to act against the Democrats' leading presidential candidate—there is good reason to feel that something needs to be written. It is certainly the sort of situation that someone could write about: the opposition party sitting on its hands and issuing vague statements of dismay while the entire constitutional order is revealed to be no match for the willingness of a president and his enablers to break the law.

"A strange Twitter glitch is censoring the left — and no one knows if it's a bug or a feature: Twitter is mum about a well-documented "bug" that seems to prevent verified accounts from getting ratioed." I keep another browser open that isn't logged into Twitter so I can read things that are blocked, and sure enough, I can read the WFP thread just fine there, but not in the browser where I'm logged in.

The WFP Thing: The Working Families Party's members voted to endorse Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly in 2016. Strangely, they altered their counting methodology this time and weighted leadership's votes (56) as 50% of the vote, and membership's votes (about 10,000 people) at 50% of the vote, and Warren won. And, also unusually, they have refused to release the vote tallies. Naturally, there have been a lot of complaints online, and naturally, there is a lot of the usual push-back about how it's all just a bunch of white BernieBros saying racist things. "White Terrorism", in fact! So far the examples given are of an Amerind calling them "Uncle Tom" and a black guy calling them "slave". Going deeper, Katie Halper interviewed Susan Kang, who "talks about quitting the Working Families Party over its endorsement of Elizabeth Warren over Bernie Sanders and its lack of transparency. Instead of paying WFP dues, she'll give her money to the Sanders campaign. Plus the differences between Sanders and Warren and the cynical accusation that criticism of WFP's endorsement is an attack on people of color."

"'Exactly What I've Hoped For': 100+ Education Leaders Voice Support for Sanders K-12 Plan: 'No president or presidential candidate has offered a proposal so bold and sweeping.' [...] Unveiled in May, the Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education calls for 'a transformative investment in our children, our teachers, and our schools, and a fundamental re-thinking of the unjust and inequitable funding of our public education system.'"

"Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Are Breeding in Brazil, Despite Biotech Firm's Assurances to the Contrary: An experimental trial to reduce the number of mosquitoes in a Brazilian town by releasing genetically modified mosquitoes has not gone as planned. Traces of the mutated insects have been detected in the natural population of mosquitoes, which was never supposed to happen. The deliberate release of 450,000 transgenic mosquitoes in Jacobina, Brazil has resulted in the unintended genetic contamination of the local population of mosquitoes, according to new research published last week in Scientific Reports. Going into the experimental trial, the British biotech company running the project, Oxitec, assured the public that this wouldn't happen. Consequently, the incident is raising concerns about the safety of this and similar experiments and our apparent inability to accurately predict the outcomes."

"Documents: Police Used Buttigieg Donors to Get Him to Fire Black Chief: Legal documents related to Pete Buttigieg's ousting of South Bend's first black police chief describe a plan by white police officers in 2011 to use Buttigieg's campaign donors to get him to remove the chief, Darryl Boykins, once Buttigieg became mayor. 'It is going to be a fun time when all white people are in charge,' one officer is quoted as saying in the documents, which describe secret police recordings. The previously undisclosed documents shed new light on the most controversial chapter of Buttigieg's South Bend political career. The documents describe a plan to use two Buttigieg donors — including his campaign chairman — to lobby Buttigieg on personnel changes at the South Bend Police Department (SBPD). Both donors deny having such discussions with Buttigieg."

"Surveillance Nation: How DEA Agents Search and Seize Property from Amtrak Passengers: As you listen to the panicked fear that the U.S. government will turn authoritarian under Trump, consider the following story about the DEA and drug surveillance on the Amtrak Southwest Chief, the long train between Chicago and Los Angeles."

Stephanie Kelton: The Public Purse

Anti-BernieBros

"Elizabeth Warren Is Thirty Years Too Late: Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are political throwbacks. But whereas Warren wants to fix the policies that went astray in the Clinton era, Sanders wants to change the economic foundations of American life. [...] On the campaign trail, 'I believe in markets' has become a kind of mantra for Warren. 'I am a capitalist to my bones,' as she put it more explicitly last year. Her 2004 book even boasted that 'We haven't suggested a complete overhaul of the tax structure, and we haven't demanded that businesses cease and desist from ever closing another plant or firing another worker. Nor have we suggested that the United States should build a quasi-socialist safety net to rival the European model.' (At the time, a whopping 45.8 million Americans were without health insurance, a number roughly equivalent to the entire population of Spain.) And it's not clear her thinking has changed all that much since."

"The Untold Story: Joe Biden Pushed Ronald Reagan To Ramp Up Incarceration — Not The Other Way Around [...] The politics of race relations have been a central part of Biden's career, from his high-profile opposition to busing to his authoring of the 1994 Biden Crime Bill. When he talks about his criminal justice record on the campaign trail, he argues today that the focus on the '94 bill is unfair, because the real rise in mass incarceration happened at the state level and was long underway by then. Biden is correct that the surge began in the 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s, but a closer look at his role reveals that it was Biden who was among the principal and earliest movers of the policy agenda that would become the war on drugs and mass incarceration, and he did so in the face of initial reluctance from none other than President Ronald Reagan. Indeed, Reagan even vetoed a signature piece of Biden legislation, which he drafted with arch segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, to create a federal 'drug czar.'"

Matt Taibbi in 2005, "Inside the Horror Show That Is Congress [...] To understand the breadth of Bush's summer sweep, you had to watch the hand-fighting at close range. You had to watch opposition gambits die slow deaths in afternoon committee hearings, listen as members fell on their swords in exchange for favors and be there to see hordes of lobbyists rush in to reverse key votes at the last minute. All of these things I did — with the help of a tour guide. 'Nobody knows how this place is run,' says Rep. Bernie Sanders. 'If they did, they'd go nuts.'"

David Klion in The New Republic, "The Conscience of Bret Stephens: How one columnist's wild family history explains an increasingly isolated school of conservatism." I had no idea that Leon Trotsky once had an affair with Frida Kahlo. The things you learn....

Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne - Mohammed's Radio - Live 1976 (HD)

4 comments:

  1. Amerind - were characters in an episode of Star Trek.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, I knew a Trot who was permanently angry at Diego Rivera for helping get Trotsky killed because he made it with Frida . . . which she did because Diego messed around so much. [reporting these views, not endorsing them]

    ReplyDelete
  3. My take on Nancy Pelosi is that she's an excellent whip, good at getting members to vote for a proposal and knowing when to bring a proposal into action, and a poor Speaker, unwilling to lead.

    When was the last time we had a Speaker of the House, either party, who led?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Be sure to catch Scott Lemeuix's (outspoken green lanternism stigmatiser) contribution in that same Prospect issue. If this is good sportsmanship it highly misguided.

    ReplyDelete