Thursday, December 19, 2019

More slow glass

Jeremy Corbyn in the Guardian, "We won the argument, but I regret we didn't convert that into a majority for change: We are living in highly volatile times. Two-and-a-half years ago, in the first general election I contested as Labour leader, our party increased its share of the popular vote by 10 percentage points. On Thursday, on a desperately disappointing night, we fell back eight points. I have called for a period of reflection in the party, and there is no shortage of things to consider. I don't believe these two contrasting election results can be understood in isolation." The other good news: Many of the Labour MPs who lost their seats were virulently anti-Corbyn, and the leader of the "centrist" party, Jo Swinson of the LibDems, lost her seat while her party went down to a mere 11 seats.

"Pelosi brokers deal with liberals on drug pricing bill: The chamber's liberal wing had threatened to stall the bill, if Pelosi refused to make a series of last-minute changes to the legislation. Significantly, Pelosi didn't want to get rid of the no-negotiation rule from Bush's Medicare Part D. This was something *everyone* in the real world had expected (and wanted!) Obama to do and one of the reasons many felt betrayed by him. And it's not something anyone should have trouble selling to the public, and I mean Republican voters, too.

"Bernie Sanders' Broadband Plan Is Comcast's Worst Nightmare: Sanders promises to break up media monopolies, restore net neutrality, and embrace the countless towns and cities that are building their own broadband networks. AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast executives aren't going to like Bernie Sanders' new broadband plan. The wide ranging proposal, released Friday morning, would all but demolish big telecom's stranglehold over the broadband and media sectors, unwinding decades of unrelenting consolidation, imposing hard new limits on how much broadband providers can charge for service, while opening the door to significantly broader availability of community broadband. The proposal pulls no punches when it comes to the U.S.' broadband woes."

"'Despicable': Internal Emails Reveal Water Contractor Knew About Lead Risks in Flint Months Before City's Public Confirmation: 'I think anyone has to ask themselves how the story in Flint would be different five years later now if Veolia had made those private concerns public.'"

Interestingly, in Forbes, "Democratic Politicians Go Back To Blaming The Poor For Their Poverty: It is typically well-off GOP members and sympathizers who explicitly and publicly blame low-income people, the poor, and everyone, for that matter, who feel discrimination, for all their problems. 'If only someone had worked harder. Had kept a family together. Valued education. Given up the cell phone. Stopped drinking those lattes. Stayed at work instead of wanting to go off and have kids.' These are self-soothing suggestions. Those with money want to believe that they have an innate right to it—that they worked hard and, through nothing more than their own effort, achieved what they have. Whereas, people in the U.S. are increasingly stuck when we look at upward mobility, according to data pulled together last year by contributor Aparna Mathur. Particularly when looking at generation over generation educational attainment—higher levels meaning upward mobility—for those born in the 1940s, the percentage that would exceed their parents was about 68%. Today, [...] If you're comfortably at the top, it could be distressing to consider that your fortune sat atop the backs of many people's opportunities. Lecturing on good behavior is much easier. In the past week, we had the unusual display of Democratic candidates doing exactly this."

"Ocasio-Cortez takes victory lap after Amazon goes to NYC — even after she helped block $3 billion in subsidies [...] 'The giant online retailer said it has signed a new lease for 335,000 square feet on the city's west side in the new Hudson Yards neighborhood, where it will have more than 1,500 employees,' The Wall Street Journal reported. 'Amazon is taking the space without any of the special tax credits and other inducements the company had been offered to build a new headquarters in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, the company said.'" It was always obvious that Amazon wanted to be in New York and they needed no inducements. This is New York City, ffs.

"Pete for Corporate America [...] In Buttigieg, voters get a candidate who can define neoliberalism in a sentence, who will even say that he thinks it's a negative force in the world. But he has never explained what alternative he offers. Generational change, in the mayor's case, doesn't mean much. Voters will just get a younger version of a Democratic Party they already know." So, sorta like Hillary Clinton, only younger, and with different baggage.

"People hate shopping for health insurance: Americans rarely switch to new health plans when the annual insurance-shopping season comes around, even if they could have gotten a better deal. The bottom line: People loathe shopping for health plans, and many are bad at it, for one major reason: "It's just too hard," Tricia Neuman, a Medicare expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told me last year."

I'm with Lambert on this: If Pelosi didn't think Bush-Cheney's lies and lawbreaking were impeachable, what's her justification for this one? I'm sorry, but torture and lying us into a war that's cost hundreds of thousands of lives and made an even bigger mess of the world stand in horrific contrast to what Trump is accused of. "Impeachment, the House as Prosecutor, and Justice [...] Put Turley's justifiable polemic against a childish West Wing view of international relations aside. Just look at the triviality of the subject matter, whether you think Trump is guilty or not. White House appearances. Military aid. Corruption investigations. How is lying the country into the Iraq war not impeachable, and this mass of anodyne trivialities impeachable? When it's the same prosecutor declining to indict for Iraq, and deciding to indict for Ukraine? Whatever this is, it's not 'the impartial and consistent application of rules', and that means the House is failing in its prosecutorial duty to seek justice, and not merely conviction."

"Why Hospitals Never Have Enough Nurses: The Explanatory Power of 'Prasad's Law' of Wealth Concentration: Yves here. In case you haven't had the misfortune to acquire first-hand experience, what Vinay Prasad and Roy Poses say about chronic nurse shortages in hospitals appears to be correct. I have a good friend whose father was a doctor and who has spent big parts of her career in the medical biz (her first job was at the NIH) who says she would never go to a hospital in New York without bringing her own private duty nurses. And it is not as if she is flush. Poses uses this sad fact to illustrate a more general pattern for what gets readily paid for in US medical circles: only services that direct income into the hands of the wealthy. And this is a big reason why incremental reform of the medical system will not deliver meaningfully better outcomes for patients or lower costs. The idea, for instance, that Big Pharma gets to free ride on government-funded basic and often applied research and then price gouges patients has to stop."

The UK elections may be over, but this was a good video. "An Appeal By David Graeber Re: Labour 'Antisemitism': David Graeber - a Jewish Anthropologist - speaks to the dangers of the witch hunt and why a Jeremy Corbyn victory would be the most positive outcome for Jewish people not just in the UK, but worldwide."

"Researchers say there's a simple way to reduce suicides: Increase the minimum wage: Since 2000, the suicide rate in the United States has risen 35 percent, primarily because of the significant increase in such deaths among the white population. There are hints that these deaths are the result of worsening prospects among less-educated people, but there are few immediate answers. But maybe the solution is simple: pursue policies that improve the prospects of working-class Americans. Researchers have found that when the minimum wage in a state increased, or when states boosted a tax credit for working families, the suicide rate decreased."

"Billionaire-funded protest is rearing its head in America: Recently a crowd of protesters disrupted a speech by Elizabeth Warren. The activists might have seemed grassroots, but they weren't: Last week, Elizabeth Warren went to Atlanta to give a major speech about issues of concern to black women. Her speech touched on knotty, existential topics such as the legacy of slavery, institutional racism, voter suppression, mass incarceration and reparations. But the next day's headlines overwhelmingly focused on the fact that the speech was interrupted by a loud group of pro-charter school protesters. We were supposed to be talking about challenging centuries of institutional racism, but now we're talking about charter schools. How did that happen? If you suspect that some sort of nefarious action that can be traced back to plutocratic billionaires is involved — well, of course."

Now this is weird. "Clinton Donors Charged in Massive Campaign-Finance Scheme [...] The individuals conspired to 'make and conceal conduit and excessive campaign contributions' valued around $3.5 million in the 2016 election campaign and beyond, according to the announcement. Although the indictment does not specifically name the recipient of the donations, it is clear that the contributions went to groups allied with Clinton's presidential campaign."

"What really happened during the Battle in Seattle? And how the 1999 WTO protests changed the way we think about capitalism, globalism and economic equity. The WTO protests in November 1999 put Seattle on the map in a way that grunge and tech never could. The World Trade Organization had planned a meeting in the city to discuss trade agreements for the new millennium, but then tens of thousands of protestors filled the streets. For days, activists overwhelmed the event and the city's police force, which responded with tear gas and rubber bullets. The protesters were there to condemn corporate power and the potential impacts of free trade on human rights and the environment. And while the WTO ultimately continued its work, the protest had a big effect on Seattle and the world. It influenced similar movements, like Occupy Wall Street, to come to the city. And it impacted how we think and talk about capitalism, globalism and economic equity. Now, on the 20th anniversary of the so-called "Battle in Seattle," we invited a panel of local leaders to the Crosscut Talks podcast to discuss what happened in Seattle in 1999 and what it means to our world today. The episode begins with former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper and activist John Sellers, who are later joined by activist Nikkita Oliver and Norwell Coquillard, executive director of the Washington State China Relations Council. The conversation was recorded at KCTS9 studios in Seattle on Nov. 19, 2019, as part of the Crosscut Talks Live series."

RIP: "René Auberjonois, actor who starred in M*A*S*H*, Star Trek and Benson, dies aged 79: In a career spanning six decades, the actor worked on Broadway, in Hollywood's 70s golden age and TV. René Auberjonois, a prolific actor best known for his roles on the television shows Benson and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and his part in the 1970 film M*A*S*H*, has died aged 79. The actor died on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles of metastatic lung cancer, his son Rèmy-Luc Auberjonois said. René Auberjonois worked constantly as a character actor in several golden ages, from the dynamic theatre of the 1960s to the cinema renaissance of the 1970s to the prime period of network television in the 1980s and 90s. For film fans of the 1970s, he was Father John Mulcahy, the military chaplain who played straight man to the doctors antics in M.A.S.H. It was his first significant film role and the first of several for director Robert Altman."

RIP: "Paul A. Volcker, Fed Chairman Who Waged War on Inflation, Is Dead at 92." He was a disaster.

"Why America's 1-Percenters Are Richer Than Europe's: A new Gilded Age has emerged in America — a 21st century version. The wealth of the top 1% of Americans has grown dramatically in the past four decades, squeezing both the middle class and the poor. This is in sharp contrast to Europe and Asia, where the wealth of the 1% has grown at a more constrained pace. [...] Rather than simply trying to make up for unequal pay through tax-code redistribution, Europe's economy delivers more equitable paychecks from the outset. Economists call this strategy 'pre-distribution.' Chancel suggests that the Europeans accomplish this through policies and institutions that improve workers' bargaining power — such as strong labor unions and higher minimum wages. And they push to make workers more productive, for example through broad-based access to education and health care. Whether U.S. voters will embrace such policies is an open question. But it's clear that rising inequality has made America exceptional — and not in a good way." Handy graphs.

"Kansas City, Missouri, Approves Free Public Transit for All: Mass transit measure is championed as 'visionary way to reduce inequality and better serve everyone in the community. 'Let's do this everywhere.' Lawmakers in Kansas City, Missouri took a "visionary step" on Thursday by unanimously voting to make public transportation in the city free of charge, setting the stage for it to be the first major U.S. city to have free public transit."

"Yes, There is a Civil War Within the Democratic Party—it's Just Not What You Think: The popular narrative about the Democratic Divide is all wrong and it's important that we realise the truth—before it is too late. [...] So yes, Mainstream Media and political pundits, there is a 'civil war' raging within the Democratic Party, but the rebels are not the Berniecrats. The true revolutionaries are the Clintonite apostates who have been trying for 20 years to overturn and reverse the greatest achievements of the Democratic Party, programs that help the poor, the working class and the middle class; programs that protect the people from the cruel vicissitudes of the Market and the sociopathic machinations of those whom FDR called 'the Economic Royalists.' The current Democratic Establishment is run by those self-same Economic Royalists; the robber barons whose hatred FDR welcomed are now met with open arms and warm receptions by the revolutionary Leadership that has seized control of the Democratic Party. These radicals have taken the Party of FDR, JFK, LBJ, RFK and turned it into the Democratic Party of Goldwater, Nixon and Reagan."

Another weird turn in the NYT: Ross Douthat makes "The Case for Bernie: The Democrats need a unifier. It could be the Vermont Socialist. [...] This is why, despite technically preferring a moderate like Biden or Amy Klobuchar, I keep coming back to the conservative's case for Bernie — which rests on the perhaps-wrong but still attractive supposition that he's the liberal most likely to spend all his time trying to tax the rich and leave cultural conservatives alone." That made me laugh.

Video, "Auschwitz Survivor - Israelis are behaving like 1930s Germans behaved - Hajo Meyer"

But PBS 2020 Segment Finds Time for Klobuchar, Sestak, and Bullock—But Completely Ignores Bernie Sanders." In the continuing story of pretending Bernie Sanders isn't in the race, this hits a new low for the establishment media. It's got to be a joke in newsrooms by now that they have to keep finding ways not to admit Sanders is any kind of contender. Here's The New York Times trying to win the award for this category with the headline, "Sanders Loses Third Place Spot in Nevada to Buttigieg," for example, and if you don't read the subhead, you miss how that happened: "As the senator rises to first in the polls, Buttigieg claims a strong lead behind Elizabeth Warren."

"The Real Barack Obama Has Finally Revealed Himself: Barack Obama is using his post-presidency to attack the Left and protect the status quo. The historical myth believed by so many liberals that Obama was a progressive leader who was hemmed in by the presidency's political constraints is collapsing fast. [...] More revealing, though, is what it tells us about Obama's attitude towards the populist left. The phrase 'stave off the same kind of forces that took over the GOP' belongs to Lizza rather than the former president himself, but it seems reasonable to conclude given Obama's words and actions that he views the Trumpian right and the populist left in roughly similar terms. If anything, Politico's investigation suggests he's been more concerned with opposing the latter since leaving the White House. As TrueAnon's Liz Franczak aptly put it: 'Obama went on like 200 billionaire yacht cruises and finalized his Netflix deal when Trump became president, but even a whiff of Sanders gaining momentum and he's running to the dais.' Now more than ever liberals, partisan Democrats, and progressives of every kind are overdue for a reckoning with Barack Obama, his legacy, and whatever residual feelings still linger from the euphoria of 2008. To his credit, Obama has always been fairly open about the conservative outlook that grounds his politics — even in the halcyon days of Yes We Can, he was already taking care to distance himself from radicalism and align himself with Reaganism. As for that initial question of what Obama wants, the answer is that he's told anyone willing to listen from the very beginning. Since 2016, his major concern has been to preserve a legacy whose progressive bona fides are increasingly threatened by the genuine radicalism of those to his left — and to use the vast power and influence at his disposal to stand in their way."

"'It's a Miracle': Helsinki's Radical Solution to Homelessness: Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them — unconditionally. [...] 'We decided to make the housing unconditional,' says Kaakinen. 'To say, look, you don't need to solve your problems before you get a home. Instead, a home should be the secure foundation that makes it easier to solve your problems.' [...] In England, meanwhile, government figures show the number of rough sleepers — a small fraction of the total homeless population — climbed from 1,768 in 2010 to 4,677 last year (and since the official count is based on a single evening, charities say the real figure is far higher)."

"Take Back Our Party Chapter 1: Their Democratic Party: The recent history of the Democrats, with neoliberalism ascendant, has offered little for ordinary working people. [...] The change that Clinton represented, however, went beyond a simple partisan shift in the White House. His historical significance lay in what he did not do. He did not reverse the conservative revolution and restore the core values of the New Deal. [...] In many ways, Clinton was the perfect standard bearer for the New Democrats. He was a Southern governor, apparently unstained by the corruption of the big city or of Congress. He had an impressive reputation as a policy wonk, having won a Rhodes Scholarship and graduated from the Yale Law School. He could fly back to Arkansas during the campaign to order the execution of the mentally disabled Ricky Ray Rector to demonstrate how 'tough on crime' he was. He emphasized welfare reform and school choice to highlight his willingness to break with past orthodoxies. He openly rejected his own party: 'The choice we offer is not conservative or liberal. In many ways, it is not even Republican or Democratic,' he said, accepting the nomination of the Democratic Party."

The Internet Archive is having a fundraiser. I want there to be a Wayback Machine so I hope you'll kick in, too.

Pretty! "Decorative Laser Cut Paper Compositions with Hand-Painted Ink by Julia Ibbini: United Emirates-based artist Julia Ibbini sources elements from Islamic geometry, embroidery, meenakari enamel work, and even electronic music to inspire the designs that compose her laser cut paper works."

"The Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar (2019 Edition)"


  1. All this time I thought Seattle was on the map as a hotbed of union activism a hundred years ago, or for fifty years prior to that providing the lumber that built up the robber baron east coast. Or a hundred years prior to that the center of the Russian fur trade.

    That big Cascadia subduction earthquake we're overdue for (think Boxer Day) gets here and Seattle will be both on and off the map, so-to-speak, if it doesn't wash out to sea in the interim.

  2. Woe to the nurses and woe to their patients. I am enjoying my second consecutive and third of four jobs as a physician-surgeon where a hierarchy of non-physicians manage/lead me. That hierarchy primarily consisted of RNs, Nursing assistants(high school education level), medical technicians(again high school education level),a pharmacist and one social worker. In each instance, my "production" by their measure and my analysis was determined to be first or second among my specialty and in comparison to the larger group of specialist/generalists. Patient satisfaction ratings (anonymous) and quality assessments were all "top shelf". However, in such a setting I spent the bulk of my time undoing, neutralizing, and redirecting the non-managerial support from the misdirected orders given to them by these nurse managers. For doing so, a physician like me is first labeled intimidating, then disruptive, disloyal to the corporation, mean or mentally impaired and finally dismissed. Roy Poses recognizes this phenomenon. You can still read the newspaper accounts of this mistreatment being applied to a neurologist and a video of similar abuse inflicted on ophthalmologist President of that same hospital's board of trustees still posted at the medical center's website. Although don't dare criticize The Nurses as that quaint axiom remains an empty, insipid and safe exhortation which obscures the behavior of the very people responsible for this supposed nursing crisis, Nursing Leadership. Classify this missive under nursing direct, C-suite enabled managerialisms.

  3. If Pelosi didn't think Bush-Cheney's lies and lawbreaking were impeachable, what's her justification for this one?

    Bush-Cheney just lied and broke the laws that our leaders exempt themselves from. Trump is a cheap crook, the kind that the expensive crooks have trouble hiding. No-bid Halliburton contracts don't impress people the way delivering troops to fill resorts at public expense does. Add to that the outrage of the professional classes at Trump's sheer crassness, and you have a dandy political show. It can occupy the news cycles so that things like even more money thrown to military looters by Congress don't get attention.

    Besides, our system of elections, from machines that can't be audited to the power of dark money is designed to allow powerful Americans to determine the outcomes. They have to protect that design while not letting foreigners who aren't members of the club to use it.

    1. I'm starting to think that's all this is: a big, Dandy political show. While we're all oggling the bimbo with no underwear, what's goin' on 'over there'?