24 January 2020

Another runaway post

You can see more pretty oils by Zingitis here.

Digby has a new address.

Michael Moore's podcast, Rumble, has an interview with Anand Giridharadas about how the incredibly rich scam us into giving up more and more of our lives, and try to get us to love them for it, "Please Let Me Rob You, I'm Woke. [...] But what happens when the very people hoarding this wealth at the expense of democracy, the environment and an equitable society, re-brand themselves as the people who will fix society's problems? What happens when the arsonists pose as the firefighters?"

"Virginia Votes to Ratify ERA, Setting Up Likely Legal Battle: Court ruling or congressional action likely needed to override 1982 deadline Virginia on Wednesday became the 38th state to vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, teeing up an expected legal battle over whether the approval counts. The Trump administration has said the ratification deadline expired by 1982, a decade after Congress first passed the ERA, which would enshrine women's equality in the U.S. Constitution. It may take a court ruling or congressional action to override that decision and determine whether the vote in Virginia, which pushed the number of ERA-approving states across a necessary three-fourths threshold, should lead to amending the Constitution.:" Well, I wasn't expecting that headline at this late date!

"Bernie Sanders leads Donald Trump by widest margin of all 2020 candidates: election poll: SurveyUSA asked 4,069 registered voters nationwide how they would vote in an election today if Trump was pitted against each of the 2020 candidates in the Democratic race. The progressive Vermont independent came out on top. The poll found that 52 percent of voters would choose Sanders and 43 percent Trump, giving the veteran senator a nine-point lead. Next was former vice president Joe Biden at 50 percent to Trump's 43 percent, a seven-point lead."

Hillary Clinton came out to lead her hate-fest against Bernie Sanders again, claiming no one likes him and he can't build coalitions. The Atlantic debunked this one ages ago, showing that Democrats and Republicans alike have praised him on this very thing. Not that it should be necessary, since, as surely everyone knows, Bernie Sanders was co-founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and chaired it for its first eight years, so it sure looks like he is used to working with others. But even Peter and Leela Daou, having come to their senses and remembered what they actually believe in after getting wound up defending Hillary for two years, came right out in public to say that, "I worked for Hillary Clinton. Her attacks on Bernie Sanders are a big mistake: Why is Clinton amplifying destructive myths about Sanders and his supporters just weeks before the primaries begin?"

"S. Carolina elected official now backing Sanders over Biden: COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina elected official who endorsed Joe Biden last month is switching her allegiance to Bernie Sanders in the state's first-in-the-South presidential primary, saying she had viewed the former vice president — whose support in the state is considered deep -- as 'a compromise choice.' Dalhi Myers told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she was making the change in part because she values what she sees as Sanders' strength in being able to go toe-to-toe with President Donald Trump in the general election. 'I looked at that, and I thought, 'He's right,'' said Myers, a black woman first elected to the Richland County Council in 2016. 'He's unafraid and he's unapologetic. ... I like the fact that he is willing to fight for a better America — for the least, the fallen, the left behind.'"

"We Tortured Some Folks: The Report's Daniel Jones On The Ongoing Fight To Hold The CIA Accountable: MONDAY MARKED THE five-year anniversary of the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's executive summary on the CIA's torture program. The former top Senate Intelligence Committee investigator, Daniel Jones, and his team combed through 6.3 million pages of CIA records. Jones discusses the yearslong battle with the Bush and Obama administrations to make public the findings of this still-classified 7,000-page report. In this bonus episode, Jones expands on the torture report findings. Jones is the subject of the new feature film, 'The Report,' starring Adam Driver and Annette Bening, and the host of its companion podcast, 'The Report Podcast,' with Kelly McEvers, where they unpack the story of the CIA's torture program, the Senate's investigation, and the ensuing cover-up.

* * * * *

"Entire Afghanistan War A Fraud, Rich People Scrubbing History"

I need to introduce this Lee Camp video:

Anyone who was paying attention knew that The Most Trusted Names In News were telling you lies for at least the last couple of decades. A lot of us warned that false information was being funneled into an ever-contracting news-gathering apparatus controlled by self-serving billionaires who happily broadcast single-sourced press releases straight from the White House and/or the Republican Party, unedited, to your pages and screens without any real investigation. You weren't allowed to argue with these obvious lies in American mass media. There might have been the occasional op-ed from some college professor few had heard of expressing doubts, but it might as well not have been there for all the acknowledgement it received from broadcast media. Phil Donahue was fired from his popular slot on MSNBC for opposing the invasion of Iraq, something that should have generated wall-to-wall outrage from working journalists of every stripe, but it was barely reported and was forgotten within days instead. The only person who was allowed to express those doubts on the air at all was actor Janeane Garafalo - because she could be ridiculed as a mere actress - but at least there was one debater allowed on the air - ironically, on Fox News.

But, pretty much no one at all asked why we had to invade Afghanistan. Surely no one even believed the fantasy that Osama bin Laden was in a high-tech James Bond villain-type cave fully supported by the government of Afghanistan, could they? Everyone knew that bin Laden and his merry band were Saudis, right? When the normally timid Barbara Lee voted against the attack on Afghanistan, she was the sole member of Congress to do so, which generated lots of hate for her on Fox but no defense from fellow Democrats. We went into Afghanistan without a whimper of objection in the "serious" and "respectable" American media.

Be that as it may, when American citizens who want to argue with this blatant propaganda look for an outlet, they generally have to go abroad for a platform. And then they get dismissed by not only the mainstream media but by our very own, "liberal blogosphere"-spawned unpaid social media gatekeepers who seem to think there is anything more reliable about the New York Times or CBS than there is from internet comedians on RT. Bollocks.

* * * * *

"Hear the Bern Episode 32 | Bernie Gets It Done (w/ Warren Gunnels): Next time someone asks you what Bernie has accomplished in his career, send them this podcast and tell them that we had to leave the better part on the cutting room floor just to get it under an hour. Featuring veteran policy advisor to the Senator, Warren Gunnels."

The Maryland Democratic machine actually resisted the prospect of electing the Democrat who won the primaries so much that state elective officials told the press they were supporting the Republican. Ben Jealous was a union guy with progressive policies, so Democrats backed a man who Alex Pareene calls, "The Most Popular Crook in America: The ominous approval ratings of Larry Hogan, the corrupt Republican governor of Maryland Maryland Governor Larry Hogan repeatedly steered state transportation development money to projects that would increase the value of his real estate holdings, according to a lengthy investigation by Washington Monthly's Eric Cortellessa. Cortellessa reports that Hogan, who ostensibly left his brother in charge of his real estate brokerage firm when he was elected, has, in fact, maintained ownership and control while serving as governor; the trustees he handpicked to run his company have continued to keep him apprised of its business dealings. And as governor, he has advanced highway and road construction projects that directly boosted the value of land owned by his company. Those efforts have proved extraordinarily lucrative: During his first three years in office, Hogan reported $2.4 million in income, more than four times his salary. No other governor in the history of the state has made as much, according to Maryland's former Secretary of State John Willis. Hogan, he told Washington Monthly, is the only governor in the history of Maryland 'to have made millions of dollars while in office.' [...] Hogan, on the other hand, is exactly the 'normal' to which politicians like Joe Biden promise to return us when they try to speak into existence a Republican Party that they can 'work with.'"

And since Pareene has been on a roll, check out this earlier piece, "How Political Fact-Checkers Distort the Truth Glenn Kessler and his ilk aren't sticking to the facts. They're promoting a moderate dogma. At the June 28 Democratic presidential debate, Senator Bernie Sanders said, 'Three people [in this country] own more wealth than the bottom half of America.' And Glenn Kessler, who leads The Washington Post's 'Fact Checker' blog, wrote, 'This snappy talking point is based on numbers that add up.' But Kessler, having checked the fact and confirmed that it was true, for some reason continued checking. 'People in the bottom half have essentially no wealth,' he helpfully pointed out. 'So the comparison is not especially meaningful.' That seems like a judgment call best left to, say, a 'meaning-checker,' but Kessler, a former business section editor who happens to be a descendant of Royal Dutch Shell and Procter & Gamble executives—an actual member of the American elite and a likely member of the one percent—makes Sanders the regular target of his attempts to police the bounds of acceptable political realities from his perch at The Washington Post. In June, he dinged Sanders for saying that 'millions of Americans are forced to work two or three jobs'—because, while Sanders was right, at least eight million do work more than one job, 95 percent of Americans don't. His team has also taken on Sanders's claim that health care costs lead to 500,000 bankruptcies a year, going so far as to fact-check the study where Sanders found that statistic. Finding fault with its premises, they declared the study to be untrue, and awarded the candidate three 'Pinocchios' for referencing it. (In the lexicon of the Post's fact-checking department, lies, rather than causing Pinocchio's nose to grow, cause him to spontaneously reproduce, like a very naughty paramecium.) [...] Because Kessler is particularly bad at his job—or, rather, because he is doing a different job, that of a centrist columnist disguised as a fact-checker—he has deflected attention from his competitors, most of whom also routinely mistake elite conventional wisdom for truth. In September, PolitiFact, the venerable fact-checking operation run by the nonprofit Poynter Institute, waded into a fight between Julian Castro and Joe Biden over their health care plans, and found a disputable but eminently supportable claim Castro has made—that there is a 'big difference' between a plan people are automatically enrolled in and one they opt into—to be 'mostly false.' When Elizabeth Warren blamed trade policy for American job losses, an Associated Press fact check said, 'Economists mostly blame those job losses on automation and robots, not trade deals.' Some economists have indeed made that claim, but others vehemently disagree—pointing out that very little, if any, evidence exists to support the automation thesis. What may look like the unquestioned assumptions of centrist economists appear to these organizations, somehow, as cold, hard facts. Ironically, had fact-checkers kept to this narrow interpretation of the facts, they might actually be useful today. Trump deals less in shifty evasions and omissions than he does in clear falsehoods. While some of his claims can be hard to verify, the just-the-facts approach will catch most of his 'whoppers' (to use a highly technical fact-checking term). The trouble is, fact-checkers have expanded their purview from checking strictly empirical statements to 'checking' contestable political statements. As a result, Trump's most glaring whoppers—such as his ludicrous suggestion last April that wind turbines cause cancer—appear no different than Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's contention that it's morally wrong to pay people less than a living wage."

At first when I saw this headline I thought this was The Onion — because it's true. But no, it turns out to be The Washington Post. "The 1% are much more satisfied with their lives than everyone else, survey finds: An NPR/Harvard poll shows that, among the rich, 97 percent say they're living the 'American Dream.'"

Stepping in to sow division, "Yet Another Round of Clinton Smears." He didn't even mention that Clinton was the one with the army of online trolls set up to sow division in the party.

In this segment, Nomiki tells Sam about the time she was getting death threats from the Clinton campaign trolls and she told the DNC to make it stop, and it stopped.

"Andrew Yang and the Failson Mystique," in which Amber A'Lee Frost argues that, "America has already witnessed the largest UBI experiment known to history — the postwar middle-class housewife. And she was utterly miserable."

"Biden Accidentally Makes Case for Medicare for All by Admitting Employers Can Take Away Your Insurance—Even If You Like It: 'No you don't have the choice, but you had the choice to — that's why — I'm not saying, I said, if you like your plan, you can keep it, assuming — I should add the obvious — if your employer doesn't take it away from you. OK?'"

Pretty terrible campaign news here, "Bernie-Elizabeth Tacit Alliance Frays." You can read the piece, but what I get from it is that in a week when French protesters forced Macron to back down on raising the retirement age, more and more of Trump's crimes were exposed and he bragged about selling US troops as mercenaries to Saudi Arabia (or did he just give them away for free?) , and, oh, we had only just recently been on the brink of war (and maybe still are), Elizabeth Warren thought it would be a good idea to make sure the big topic for the last debate before the first primary vote was that Bernie Sanders was sending his campaign out to "trash" her, and then next day "someone" leaked the unlikely claim that Sanders told her two years ago that a woman couldn't win the presidency. (Kristal Ball is on a real tear about this Clintonesque betrayal, and I can't help agreeing with her.) The buzz has been that Warren has hired Hillary's people and if David Brock is one of them this is just the sort of thing he does. This makes Warren look weak, and the fact that she's suddenly shifted to a BernieBro-type of tone just means her advisors are screwing her over. Seems to have backfired. But Taibbi thinks the network was even worse: "CNN's Debate Performance Was Villainous and Shameful: The 24-hour network combines a naked political hit with a cynical ploy for ratings [...] This time, the whole network tossed the mud. Over a 24-hour period before, during, and after the debate, CNN bid farewell to what remained of its reputation as a nonpolitical actor via a remarkable stretch of factually dubious reporting, bent commentary, and heavy-handed messaging." (Taibbi's follow up is "Media Stupidity Is Uniting Left and Right: After CNN's debate ambush and MSNBC's body-language analysis, loathing of media is becoming a crossover phenomenon.")

"Joe Biden Lies to the New York Times About His Attempt to Gut the ACA's Contraceptive Coverage, Rambles Incoherently About the Hyde Amendment: Joe Biden—who somehow continues to be the frontrunner in the Democratic primary despite repeatedly lying about his opposition to the war in Iraq and evincing a decades-long passion for cutting Social Security—also continues to be on his bullshit about everything from his support for the Hyde Amendment to his attempts to gut contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act." Biden had tried to pretend that video of him from C-Span huckstering Social Security cuts that David Sirota put round was "doctored" and that he'd never tried to cut Social Security, which had half of Twitter out with more C-Span videos of him doing the same thing multiple times, and even The Washington Post admits that his record makes him vulnerable.

Democracy NOW!, "Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: Qassem Soleimani Worked with U.S. in Fight Against Taliban & ISIS: [...] But let's take that and apply it to what we're looking at today. In September of 2015, I was in the Roosevelt Room in the White House. President Obama came out of the Oval Office, sat down across from me, with Secretary John Kerry beside him. And we were there ostensibly to be thanked for our help on the nuclear agreement with Iran. The president launched into a 30-minute disquisition that he began with these words: 'There is a bias in this town toward war.' I almost fell off my chair. That's what I teach. But I didn't think that any president, even one who had been in office for seven years, would ever come to that conclusion. Clearly, here was one who was intelligent enough to have come to that conclusion. But what he was telling us was he didn't know what to do about it."

Richard Eskow, "The Progressive's Guide to Corporate-Democrat Speak:'Purity test'? 'Pragmatic progressive'? 'Free stuff'? What are these politicians talking about?" This is a handy primer but I think he should have included the fact that "centrist" is genuinely constructed jargon to make right-wing Democrats sound mainstream.

New polling shows that "Americans want jobs, not war," and they want spending on health care and other public goods instead of war toys.

David Dayen, "Goldman Sachs's Shell Game: The mega-bank has created 61 different off-balance-sheet corporations with help from companies based in the Cayman Islands. That looks in no way shady! Tyson Slocum has embarked on a crusade the past few months that would make I.F. Stone jealous. The director of Public Citizen's Energy Program has stumbled into some genuinely novel evidence about how mega-banks cloak their entry into commodity markets. First, Slocum found associations between JPMorgan Chase and an allegedly non-affiliated entity buying a power station in El Paso, Texas, links that the bank would eventually acknowledge. But Slocum's discovery regarding Goldman Sachs seems even more revelatory. The banking giant has set up at least 61 different off-balance-sheet entities controlling various investment assets, all of which have the same three-member panel of 'independent' directors. The directors were all leased from 'rent-a-director' firms based in the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax haven. 'They're almost like a dating site, choose your director,' says Slocum, who is protesting one of the entities as it requests regulatory approvals at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). These transparently affiliated shell corporations enable Goldman Sachs to avoid FERC limitations on sales of electric power, bank regulatory requirements around participating in pooled investment funds, merchant banking restrictions, and requirements to add capital in case of losses. 'Goldman Sachs has enormous financial and regulatory incentives to keep these entities off the books,' Slocum says. The sham directors fulfill corporate governance rules without having to put the fate of the shell companies in the hands of anyone with independent thought. In other words, it's a useful and lucrative fiction, manipulating the securities laws to conceal the truth."

"Unmasking the secret landlords buying up America: America's cities are being bought up, bit by bit, by anonymous shell companies using piles of cash. Modest single-family homes, owned for generations by families, now are held by corporate vehicles with names that appear to be little more than jumbles of letters and punctuation — such as SC-TUSCA LLC, CNS1975 LLC — registered to law offices and post office boxes miles away. New glittering towers filled with owned but empty condos look down over our cities, as residents below struggle to find any available housing. All-cash transactions have come to account for a quarter of all residential real estate purchases, 'totaling hundreds of billions of dollars nationwide,' the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — the financial crimes unit of the federal Treasury Department, also known as FinCEN — noted in a 2017 news release. Thanks to the Bank Secrecy Act, a 1970 anti-money-laundering law, the agency is able to learn who owns many of these properties. In high-cost cities such as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami, it's flagged over 30% of cash purchases as suspicious transactions. But FinCEN also cites this bill to hide this information from the public, leaving the American people increasingly in the dark about who owns their cities. For journalists, it requires undertaking a tremendous investigative effort to find the real owner of even one property, let alone millions. 'It reminds me of Moldova after the fall of the Soviet Union: oligarchs running wild, stashing their gains in buildings,' James Wright, an attorney and former Treasury Department bank examiner, told me. [...] With anonymity comes impunity, and, for vulnerable tenants, skyrocketing numbers of evictions. It wasn't until reporters from The Guardian and The Washington Post began to investigate, for example, that residents living in hundreds of properties across the South learned that they shared a secret landlord, hiding behind names such as SPMK X GA LLC: Fox News personality Sean Hannity."

"Economists 'Surprised Americans Aren't Revolting' Over $8,000 Tax They Pay Each Year Due to For-Profit Healthcare System: The payments made to the U.S. healthcare system are 'like a tribute to a foreign power, but we're doing it to ourselves.'"

Here's a fun little episode of Useful Idiots in which Katie and Matt have some useful insights and then a chat with Nina Turner.

R.J. Eskow and Diane Archer reminding me how lucky I am that I escaped to Britain before I ever had to go on the health insurance shopping spree every year, "Don't let the Trump administration corporatize Medicare". Oh, God, I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

EuroYankee, "The Smears Against Bernie Must Be Stopped—Here's How to Do It: A rapid response guide to 23 classic anti-Bernie smears. This is a handy guide to beating back the ridiculous and vile smears that are being leveled at Bernie Sanders, and in particular those that may compare him to Joe Biden."

RIP: Steve Stiles (1943-2020): Steve Stiles, one of fandom's all-time great artists, died during the night on January 12, only a few days after he shared on Facebook that he had cancer and a short time to live. It's a double shock to his wide circle of friends who were still adjusting to the first piece of news. His awards history barely begins to scratch the surface of how much he meant to fandom over the past fifty-plus years, substantial as it is. He earned the first of his 17 Best Fan Artist Hugo nominations in 1967, winning the award in 2016. He's won 15 FAAn Awards, presented by fanzine fans at Corflu, since the award was revived in 2001. And Steve was the first winner of the Rotsler Award (1998), a career honor for fan artists." There's a lot of stuff in Mike Glyer's obit about his pro work, too, and also some fascinating things I never knew. He was an important part of my life for a long time and I have often missed him since moving to London. I'll also always cherish that moment when we were in that room party (I think it was Boston in 1980) where John Shirley was rhapsodizing about fatherhood and using a lot of sentences that started with, "I believe..." and when he wound down Steve quietly remarked, "I believe my suitcase comes from Saturn." I have stolen that line many times.

RIP: "Mike Resnick (1942-2020): Mike Resnick, who at his zenith was one of the most popular figures in the science fiction fan and pro community, died January 9. He was nominated for the Hugo Award 37 times, winning 5, and 11 Nebula nominations, with 1 win. He was a Guest of Honor at Chicon 7 in 2012." Mike edited a lot of anthologies, famously doing alternate histories as well as his Women Writing Science Fiction As Men and the vice-versa companion book.

RIP: Terry Jones, 77. Another Python gone. Stephen Fry tweeted: "Farewell, Terry Jones. The great foot has come down to stamp on you. My god what pleasure you gave, what untrammelled joy and delight. What a wonderful talent, heart and mind."

RIP: "Roger Scruton: Conservative thinker dies at 75." I won't pretend I never deliberately mispronounced his name, especially after that time he accused me of destroying British culture when we got the courts to acknowledge that there was no proof of harm from seeing pornography.

RIP: "Barbara Testa, Hollywood librarian who found 'Huck Finn' manuscript in her attic, dies at 91: Barbara Testa had enjoyed a perfectly anonymous life in Hollywood until she crawled up in the attic one day and opened a steamer trunk left behind by her grandfather, a 19th century attorney with powerful friends. Inside, amid the letters and ledgers James Fraser Gluck had stowed away, was a handwritten manuscript that would solve a century-old literary riddle and plunge Testa into the headlines in a mounting dispute over ownership of the precious document, the missing first half of the original copy of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

David Graeber on how the "center" threw the election to the right, "The Center Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the 'Brexit Election'. [...] This simultaneous embrace of markets, and of rules and regulations, represents the soul of what's sometimes called 'centrism.' It's a decidedly unlovely combination. Nobody truly likes it. But the talking classes had reached an absolute consensus that no politicians who departed significantly from it could possibly win elections. In 2015, the handful of 'hard Left' MPs of the Socialist Campaign Group, who fell well outside this consensus, were largely considered mildly entertaining Seventies throwbacks. The election of one of them as party leader was therefore treated—both by the party establishment and their allies in the left-of-center media outlets like The Guardian—as an embarrassing accident that had to be immediately reversed. Corbyn was declared 'unelectable.' In order to demonstrate this, dozens of Labour MPs initiated an immediate campaign to render him so, via an unceasing barrage of press briefings, leaked documents, attempts to create false scandals, and a campaign of sustained psychological warfare directed against Corbyn himself—essentially waging an active and aggressive campaign against their own party. Tony Blair even openly stated that he would rather see his own party defeated than come into power on Corbyn's leftist platform. [...] Most sitting Labour MPs had begun as Labour youth activists themselves, just as most centrist political journalists had begun their careers as leftists, even revolutionaries, of one sort or another. But they had also risen through the ranks of Blair's machine at a time when advancement was largely based on willingness to sacrifice one's youthful ideals. They had become the very people they would have once despised as sell-outs. Insofar as they dreamed of anything, now, it was of finding some British equivalent of Barack Obama, a leader who looked and acted so much like a visionary, who had so perfected the gestures and intonations, that it never occurred to anyone to ask what that vision actually was (since the vision was, precisely, not to have a vision). Suddenly, they found themselves saddled with a scruffy teetotaling vegan who said exactly what he really thought, and inspired a new generation of activists to dream of changing the world. If those activists were not naive, if this man was not unelectable, the centrists' entire lives had been a lie. They hadn't really accepted reality at all. They really were just sellouts.":

"Why Fascism is the Wave of the Future: " - This London Review of Books article is so depressing I don't even want to quote from it.

Screaming far-left radical John F Kennedy argues for universal healthcare.

"Mobilization and Money: I'm nearly finished with a very long book that may well be the best illustration of the basic principles of Modern Money Theory available. The book is 'A Call To Arms,' by Maury Klein. It is an historical account of the U.S. mobilization as it prepared for, and engaged in, war with Germany and Japan. The scale of the task was unprecedented in human history—and the accomplishment of it changed not just the structure of the American economy, but American society as well. What is striking about the story—and the monumental effort to quickly build, virtually from scratch, the largest and most sophisticated war machine ever to exist on the planet—is that there is nary a peep of concern or argument about how this enormous task would be paid for. All of the anguish and struggle had not to do with finding enough 'money' to pay for things, but rather with finding enough things to buy—and enough skilled labor to properly marshal it all together. In the end, virtually every real resource available in the continental U.S.—oil, gas, steel, aluminum, rubber, copper, sugar, tin, and man-hours of labor—was purchased by the Federal government to build the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps that ultimately defeated the Axis powers. The scale of the sovereign spending is almost beyond comprehension—especially given the fact that, at the starting gate, the U.S. economy was still decimated and impoverished by the Great Depression. At the finish line, however—VJ day, September 2, 1945—the U.S. had become the most powerful, efficient, and equitable economic power the world had ever seen. So how did it all get paid for? And even more important, how did we travel from that VJ day of economic triumph to our sorry state of today, where we think we are so 'broke' we can't even afford to hire enough fire-fighters and equipment to put out the forest-fires raging in our western states?" Of course, it worked by MMT - not a theory, but just the way things are done. The question has never been how to pay for things - we can do that easily. The question, always, is what to spend the money on.

Mark Fisher's 2013 piece, "Exiting the Vampire Castle: We need to learn, or re-learn, how to build comradeship and solidarity instead of doing capital's work for it by condemning and abusing each other. This doesn't mean, of course, that we must always agree — on the contrary, we must create conditions where disagreement can take place without fear of exclusion and excommunication."

"Why was pioneering director Alice Guy-Blaché erased from film-making history? A new documentary sheds light on the career of the forgotten Frenchwoman who helped write the rules of film [...] Guy-Blaché was in the room when the Lumière brothers held the first ever cinema screening, in Paris in March 1895. By the following year, she was making her own films. And while the Lumières were still hung up on cinema as a technological spectacle — 'Look! A train!' — Guy-Blaché immediately saw its potential for telling stories. Even her 60-second debut, The Cabbage Fairy, had a fictional narrative (a fairy conjures babies from cardboard cabbages). As time went on, Guy-Blaché helped write the rules of this brand new medium. She incorporated now-standard techniques such as editing, primitive special effects and hand-tinted colour. She might even have invented the music video, back in 1905, with her use of newfangled 'chronophone' technology, by which singers were filmed lip-syncing to a prerecorded playback."

I posted a link to a story about this survey when it came out, but I could never find the original survey report. For completeness sake, here it finally is, saying that people on social media found Hillary Clinton's supporters the most obnoxious after Trump's.

Linkrot already got another article I posted and still occasionally want to link to, but the Web Archive comes through again, "The American Prison in the Culture Wars."

"Picardilly Circus: TfL renames Tube station to celebrate Star Trek launch: For 48 hours Piccadilly Circus will be renamed PICARDilly Circus to celebrate the launch of Amazon's original series Star Trek: Picard." I didn't see it but the article has pictures, and Rob took some more posted here..

I got Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries series for Christmas and I absolutely love it, in case you're interested.

10 January 2020

I hear the music all the time

"Illinois becomes 11th state to legalize marijuana: On New Year's Day, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize marijuana, prompting long lines to start forming at dispensaries before sunrise. Dispensaries were allowed to begin selling cannabis at 6 a.m., but there was a delay in some sales due to a problem with the state database that will track all marijuana sales. Illinois residents may possess up to 30 grams of the dried flower, five grams of cannabis concentrate and 500 milligrams of THC in edibles, while nonresidents may possess only half as much. The first day of legal sales follows Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) granting more than 11,000 pardons to people convicted of low-level marijuana convictions."

"Illinois Governor Pardons Over 11,000 People For Marijuana One Day Before Legal Sales Begin: One day before legal recreational marijuana sales launch in Illinois, the governor announced that his office is clearing the records of more than 11,000 people who have previously been convicted of simple cannabis possession. Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D) said the move 'sets us apart' from other states that have legalized marijuana for adult-use and that 'Illinois is putting equity first, clearing thousands of convictions and giving individuals & their families a new lease on life.'"

"Bernie Sanders Outperforms Joe Biden In Head To Head Matchup With Donald Trump, New Poll Finds: In a recent survey by Ipsos/Reuters, slightly more respondents said they would vote for Senator Bernie Sanders than former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election against President Donald Trump. Though the difference is within the margin of error (3.4 percentage points) 39 percent of the 1,108 adults surveyed between December 18 and 19 preferred Sanders over Trump, compared to 37 percent who preferred Biden."

Believe it or not, Matthew Yglesias in Vox, "Bernie Sanders can unify Democrats and beat Trump in 2020: The first in a Vox series making the best case for each of the top Democratic contenders. The case for Bernie Sanders is that he is the unity candidate. The Vermont senator is unique in combining an authentic, values-driven political philosophy with a surprisingly pragmatic, veteran-legislator approach to getting things done. This pairing makes him the enthusiastic favorite of non-Republicans who don't necessarily love the Democratic Party, without genuinely threatening what's important to partisan Democrats. If he can pull the party together, it would set him up to be the strongest of the frontrunners to challenge President Donald Trump." And then he says everyone should be calm because he's not really all that.

And here's a GOP operative who thinks Bernie Sanders has mojo that Liz Warren doesn't - and I don't think he's spinning. "Why Trump should fear Sanders much more than Warren in 2020: It is conventional political wisdom that President Trump stands his best chance in 2020 if Democrats nominate a progressive candidate on the far left such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. That is half right. I have witnessed both of these candidates up close as a former chairman of the Vermont Republican Party when Sanders rose from the backbench of the House to the Senate, and as campaign manager for the Senate reelection of Scott Brown against upstart Warren in Massachusetts. It has given me some insight into both their strengths and weaknesses as candidates. [...] To better understand this political dynamic, compare two instructive elections in locations that have little in common, one in tiny Essex County in the most rural northeast corner of Vermont and another in the only New England metropolis of Boston. Essex County is the most Republican part of what was once the most Republican state in the nation. Today it is the lone Republican holdout among the 14 counties in Vermont. In 2016, it was the red dot in the blue sea of the state, going for Trump by 18 points. Flashback to 2006 when Sanders ran for the open Senate seat in the only serious contest he had faced since 1994 when he was a member of the House and socialism was still a dirty word. Sanders cruised to victory and won Essex County with 59 percent of the vote, even as those same people had overwhelmingly backed the reelection of their Republican Governor James Douglas."

Every time I think Biden couldn't be more like Trump, he gets even more like Trump: "Biden again dishonestly suggests he opposed the Iraq War from the beginning" Both of these putzes were all for the war and now we have both of them pretending they were too smart to fall for it.

"Court bounces Abrams Suit against Voter Purges Shunts Case to GOP-Controlled State Courts: In Atlanta Friday, Federal Judge Steve Jones ruled against Stacey Abrams' organization Fair Fight in its suit to restore nearly 100,000 Georgians to the voter rolls. It turns out that Abrams' attorneys were not in a fair fight against this federal judge who refused to even consider if the purge would cause 'irreparable harm' or 'the public interest would support the issuance of a preliminary injunction.' Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Ratffensperger, was using Kris Kobach's favorite method of vote theft, what we call, 'Purge by Postcard.' Under the guise of 'voter list maintenance,' Georgia sent out postcards that look like cheap junk mail — see one at the link here. When a voter fails to return the card, they lose their vote. Yes, the cancelled voter can re-register. But, as we have uncovered in our film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, most people don't know they were pulled from the list until it's too late."

From back in 2011, Michael Moore with a bit of history at Common Dreams, "30 Years Ago: The Day the Middle Class Died:: From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated. Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, 'When did this all end?', I say, 'It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981.'"

"Four-day working week and six-hour shifts to be introduced in Finland: Finland's new Prime Minister wants to introduce a four-day working week. Sanna Marin, 34, says an extra day off and six-hour days will allow the public to spend more time with their families and on hobbies. The proposal from Ms Marin — the world's youngest sitting prime minister — follows the lead of Scandinavian neighbour Sweden, where a six-hour working experiment began in 2015. According to the New Europe newspaper, she said: 'I believe people deserve to spend more time with their families, loved ones, hobbies and other aspects of life, such as culture."

"The Anarchist Daughter of the GOP's Gerrymandering Mastermind Just Dumped His Maps and Files on Google Drive: 'I won't be satisfied that we the people have found everything until we the people have had a look at it in its entirety,' she said. The daughter of late GOP gerrymandering mastermind just put all of his files online in a Google Drive for anyone to read. Thomas Hofeller, who died in 2018, was crucial to the Republican Party's redistricting efforts across the country: He drew up tons of maps that the party used to make districts easier for them to win — sometimes at the expense of minorities' voting rights. In an effort to defend their state's political map in a lawsuit, Republicans had tried to keep Hofeller's files secret. But on Sunday, his daughter, Stephanie, who identifies as an anarchist, tweeted them out. She'd announced her plans to release the files last month and has now made them public on a website: thehofellerfiles.com, which links to a Google Drive full of his emails and documents related to his gerrymandering work. (Thomas pronounced the word 'gerrymander' with a hard 'G,' in honor of the former U.S. Vice President Elbridge Gerry, who pioneered the practice in Massachusetts in 1812.) 'These are matters that concern the people and their franchise and their access to resources. This is, therefore, the property of the people,' Stephanie told NPR. 'I won't be satisfied that we the people have found everything until we the people have had a look at it in its entirety.'"

It continues to fascinate me that so many faces — including not just Republicans but Democratic leaders — persist in showing up and speaking as if American troops in the Middle-East are not principally foreign invaders and occupiers in places they simply don't belong. It's hardly as if we were invited into Iraq and no one happened to notice yet that our "reasons" for invading were based on a stack of lies, but are we still at the phase where we think we can get away with pretending that the only reason these inscrutable foreigners don't welcome us into their homes with cookies and milk when a bunch of soldiers break down their doors and point guns at them is that they have some really weird cultural attitudes and superstitions? The simple fact is that we shouldn't be there and we should have gotten out as fast as we could. There's just no excuse. And, as Ryan Cooper points out, "America is guilty of everything we accuse Iran of doing [...] Events like this bring out the absolute worst in the American foreign policy community. Many conservative writers and thinkers, including former National Security Adviser John Bolton, the Hudson Institute's Michael Doran, and Commentary's Noah Rothman, openly cheered this Putin-style cold-blooded murder of a foreign statesman. Other more supposedly nonpartisan commentators uncritically parroted Trump administration assertions that Iran was planning something bad. Every top Democratic presidential candidate except Bernie Sanders was careful to foreground that Soleimani was a bad guy before condemning the assassination in their initial comments. The truth is that Soleimani was not all that different from any of about five dozen current and former American politicians and bureaucrats — if anything, he was considerably more restrained about the use of force. Yes, he was involved in a lot of bloody wars — but so was every American president since 2000, and besides half the wars he fought in were started or fueled by the United States. It's just another instance of America's gigantic hypocrisy when it comes to war. [...] So yes, Soleimani has fueled a lot of nasty conflicts and killed a lot of people, directly or indirectly, many of them American soldiers — though it's worth noting also that much of his recent effort has been dedicated to fighting ISIS (with great effectiveness, by all accounts) in a tacit uneasy alliance with U.S. forces. Yet even the worst of Soleimani's record pales in comparison with the most blood-drenched American warmongers. If Soleimani deserves condemnation for arming Iraqi insurgents, then George W. Bush and Dick Cheney deserve 10 times as much for starting the war in the first place. It was a pointless, illegal war of aggression sold on lies that obliterated Iraqi society and killed perhaps half a million people, almost all of them innocent civilians. (Our own Soleimani, General David Petraeus, was connected to the operation of Iraqi torture dungeons and paramilitary death squads during the fight against the insurgency.)" Apparently, all this is justified because President George W. Bush understood in his wisdom that no one native to Iraq could paint schools so we had to send in U.S. troops to do it for them.

"Google fired an engineer who built a tool that notified employees of their labor rights. She's the 5th employee this month to accuse the company of illegal retaliation.

"DCCC To Consultants: Helping To Elect A Republican? Sure, We'll Work With You: IN MARCH, House Democrats' campaign arm formalized a policy cutting off firms working with candidates running primary challenges against incumbent Democrats. But the rule doesn't appear to apply to consultants who get millions of dollars from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee while working for political action committees that support and elect Republicans. One of the biggest vendors working with the political action committee With Honor, Trilogy Interactive, has taken at least $2 million from the DCCC since the 2016 election cycle, according to FEC filings. With Honor PAC — which has an affiliated bipartisan caucus, the For Country caucus, that includes at least 10 Democratic members — is dedicated to electing veterans to Congress. [...] The DCCC has faced intense scrutiny for the blacklist policy, which critics say is another example of the committee exploiting its position to keep centrist Democrats in power while discouraging women and people of color to run for office. For example, Marie Newman lost to Rep. Dan Lipinski last year, after the committee backed the anti-abortion Democrat over his progressive challenger. She's running against the eight-term incumbent a second time in 2020. As of October, several consultants had dropped her campaign because of the DCCC rule change, though a number of House Democrats were privately supporting her. In 2018, the DCCC intervened in a competitive New Jersey primary to help Jeff Van Drew, one of the most conservative Democrats in the state, win the party's nomination. Democrats expected to flip the House seat, but overlooked progressives like retired teacher Tanzie Youngblood and ex-Cory Booker staffer Will Cunningham in favor of Van Drew — who enjoyed a 100 percent rating from the National Rifle Association and supported restrictions on abortion."

"Leak: How NYT Editor James Bennet Justifies The Op-Ed Page To His Colleagues: In December, New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet met with a group of Times employees to answer questions about his much-questioned opinion section. At the time, A.G. Sulzberger, now publisher of the Times, was conducting a tour of the company he was about to inherit, meeting with employees from different corners of the newspaper. The Q&A session with Bennet was apparently convened in a similar spirit of transparency and goodwill. But according to some Times staffers who were present, little clarity was offered by Bennet and even less goodwill was spread. One person who was there, still angry more than two months later, called Bennet's answers 'equivocal bullshit.' [...] It was as frank an explication as Bennet has given of how he conceives of the opinion section. Slaloming between contradictions, Bennet laid out an ideology of no ideology. The editorial page is beholden to no priors (except when it is). It proudly forswears the idea of right answers (except when it doesn't). It is humanist and ecumenical but also of the belief, for instance, that some kinds of ethnic cleansing are worthy of debate. 'The world needs this from us right now,' Bennet told the dozen or so New York Times staffers in the room. 'I don't mean to sound pious, but it really is true that this is a crude and dangerously polarized time... And to simply assert that we know what the right answers are is not good for the democracy.'"

"They Loan You Money. Then They Get a Warrant for Your Arrest: High-interest loan companies are using Utah's small claims courts to arrest borrowers and take their bail money. Technically, the warrants are issued for missing court hearings. For many, that's a distinction without a difference. Cecila Avila was finishing a work shift at a Walmart. David Gordon was at church. Darrell Reese was watching his granddaughter at home. Jessica Albritton had pulled into the parking lot at her job, where she packed and shipped bike parts. All four were arrested by an armed constable, handcuffed and booked into jail. They spent anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days behind bars before being released after paying a few hundred dollars in bail or promising to appear in court. None of the four, who live in northern Utah and were detained last year, had committed a crime. They had each borrowed money at high interest rates from a local lender called Loans for Less and were sued for owing sums that ranged from $800 to $3,600. When they missed a court date, the company obtained a warrant for their arrest. [...] It's against the law to jail someone because of an unpaid debt. Congress banned debtors prisons in 1833. Yet, across the country, debtors are routinely threatened with arrest and sometimes jailed, and the practices are particularly aggressive in Utah. (ProPublica recently chronicled how medical debt collectors are wielding similar powers in Kansas.) Technically, debtors are arrested for not responding to a court summons requested by the creditor. But for many low-income people, who are not familiar with court proceedings, lack access to transportation, child care options or time off, or move frequently and thus may not receive notifications, it's a distinction without a difference."

"The Campaign Against 'Medicare For All' Is Spending Millions. Progressives Not So Much. The most hotly debated policy in the Democratic presidential primary is 'Medicare for All' — a plan to move all Americans onto a single, government-run health insurance plan. But while proponents of single-payer health care like presidential hopefuls Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have had the chance to make their case on the debate stage, the opponents of the idea are vastly outspending them on the airwaves in early caucus and primary states. The Partnership for America's Health Care Future — an industry front group representing private health insurers, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies — has spent at least $1 million in television advertisements blasting the policy in Iowa alone. (It is also ghost-writing anti-Medicare for All op-eds for state lawmakers, according to a Washington Post report.)"

"I Am a Union Worker, and I Want Medicare for All: My union is in a perpetual battle for decent health care coverage. It's a tactic of our employers to prevent us from striking against our terrible work conditions. If we had Medicare for All, we could demand much more at the bargaining table."

David Dayen picked this as one of his best of the year and wants more people to pay attention to it: "Democrats Are Ignoring the Power of the Hospital Industry And this will doom any meaningful reform. [...] But Democrats are actually united on health care in one respect, from Joe Biden to Bernie Sanders. All of them lack the courage to name the one major obstacle to getting any meaningful reform done: the hospitals and medical providers who create the most costs in the system by a wide margin. Watching the debates, I got the feeling that there was a swear jar offstage, and candidates would be fined $10,000 if they said the word 'hospitals.' The calculation has been made to choose insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers as the core villains. The candidates have put shackles on themselves, content to debate whether to eliminate private insurance or how much the respective plans will cost. The price of health care, not insurance, was nowhere to be found, even though we pay the highest prices in the world, and concentrated hospital networks, not insurers, are largely to blame. Meanwhile, during commercial breaks of the CNN debate, viewers heard from the Partnership for America's Health Care Future, the main corporate coalition opposed to major reforms to the health-care system. And while America's Health Insurance Plans, the lead trade group for insurers, is among the funders of this initiative, so is the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, hospital network Ardent Health Services, Catholic hospital network Ascension, Fortune 500 giant Community Health Systems, The Federation of American Hospitals, Bill Frist's old hospital network HCA, outpatient group Tenet Healthcare, and hospital management company UHS. Simply put, if candidates fail to talk about the companies primed to strangle any health-care reform before it gets started, nothing will happen."
Check out the rest of the "Best of 2019: David Dayen: The Prospect's executive editor highlights his favorite stories of the year."

RIP: "William Greider, Journalist Who Focused on Economy, Dies at 83: In interviews with Reagan's budget director, David Stockman, he exposed doubts about the supply-side economics that the administration had embraced. William Greider, a reporter, editor and popular author who examined the United States, its politics and its position in the world through an economic lens for four decades for The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Nation and other media outlets, died on Wednesday at his home in Washington. He was 83. His son, Cameron, said the cause was complications of congestive heart failure. Mr. Greider worked for 15 years at The Post, where he was a national correspondent, an assistant managing editor for national news and a columnist. His writing then took a more polemical and leftward turn at Rolling Stone, where, as a columnist and national affairs editor from 1982 to 1999, he began investigating the defense establishment and challenging mainstream political and economic thought. He joined The Nation in 1999 as the national affairs correspondent and was also a correspondent for six Frontline documentaries on PBS, including 'Return to Beirut,' which won an Emmy in 1985."

John Nichols in The Nation, "William Greider Knew What Ailed the Democratic Party ...and how to fix it. We will miss him.: Born in the year of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's greatest electoral triumph, William Greider was in so many senses the last New Dealer. His death on Christmas Day, at age 83, represents a stark loss for American journalism. His honest diagnosis of our political crisis distinguished him from his contemporaries as he covered politics across six long decades. Now, it forms a legacy that is essential to understanding a 2020 election campaign that could finally see the emergence of the more humane and progressive electoral project that he identified as necessary—and possible. I knew Bill as a quick-witted comrade in the press corps of too many campaigns to count, a generous mentor, an ideological compatriot, and an occasional co-conspirator. He taught me to see politics not as the game that TV pundits discuss but as a high-stakes struggle for power in which the Democrats foolishly, and then dangerously, yielded far too much ground to increasingly right-wing Republicans."

RIP: "Buck Henry: the master of despair whose comedies seduced Hollywood: Screenwriter behind The Graduate and What's Up Doc? forged a cultural cache that paved the way for future generations he language of American comedy would have been a lot less sparky without Buck Henry, who has died aged 89. He helped shape one of the most revolutionary films of the 1960s (The Graduate), co-wrote one of the funniest of all time (What's Up, Doc?) and scripted the movie that became the springboard for Nicole Kidman's career (To Die For). Each new wave of comic talent took it in turn to pay tribute to Henry in some way; Tina Fey, who cast him as her character Liz Lemon's badly behaved father in 30 Rock, was only the most recent." The article doesn't even mention That Was The Week That Was, where I still have sharp memories of him (particularly that time with the hamburger buns falling on his desk). Doesn't mention his multiple guest appearances on SNL, either, though I don't think anyone else had ten of them. Nor his valiant attempt to translate Catch-22 to film (it wasn't quite what I wanted, but it was a damned good try - and funny). There's more.

RIP: "Neil Innes, Rutles star and 'seventh Python', dies aged 75" — Guardian
"Neil Innes, 'Monty Python' Songwriter, Rutles Co-Founder, Dead at 75" — Rolling Stone"

RIP: "Jack Sheldon who sang 'I'm Just a Bill" in 'Schoolhouse Rock!' dies at age 88: Jack Sheldon, an acclaimed jazz musician whose trumpet graced the award-winning song 'The Shadow of Your Smile' and who was known to TV viewers as the puckish sidekick to talk show host Merv Griffin, has died. He was 88. Sheldon died Friday of natural causes, his longtime manager and partner, Dianne Jimenez, said in a statement Tuesday. Further details were not provided."

RIP: "Leon Lederman death: Nobel Prize-winning physicist dies aged 96 after being forced to sell medal for $765,000 to pay medical bills: An experimental physicist who won a Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work on subatomic particles has died aged 96. Leon Lederman coined the phrase "God particle", a shorthand description of the then-theoretical Higgs boson, in the title of a 1993 book. His discoveries proved crucial in the identification of the subatomic particle that accounts for matter having mass in 2012."

RIP: "Scots author Alasdair Gray dies at the age of 85: The 85-year-old was known for novels such as Lanark (1981) and the award-winning Poor Things (1992), which are both set in Glasgow where he was born. His public murals are visible across the city, with further pieces on display in the V&A and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. He died on Sunday at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. His family said he wanted to leave his body to science so there would be no funeral." He will always be fondly remembered in British fandom for that time he passed out on the steps of the ballroom as guest of honor at his first convention.

Ana Kasparian, "How Nancy Pelosi enables Trump's reelection: A common accusation to any justified leftist critique of the Democratic establishment is that progressives are only helping to reelect Donald Trump. The finger-wagging and guilt-tripping that one would expect from a disappointed mother is the corporate Democrat's way to hush up valid concerns while deflecting to the devastating consequences of Trump's second term. But if Democratic leadership perceives Trump to be a huge threat, they have a funny way of showing it. Their actions demonstrate not only a willingness to negotiate or work with Trump but also an eagerness to throw their constituents under a bus while enabling him. Trump is unquestionably monstrous to the working class in America. But so are the Democrats who consistently join in on his brutality. For instance, corporate Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have a seemingly unmitigated desire to assist Trump in accomplishing right-wing legislative wins, and there are many examples to prove the point."

"The Pelosi Playbook: What do you get when you cross big-money politics and tepid progressive positions? A look back at the career of Nancy Pelosi, who's now poised to retake the House Speaker post. [...] On the one hand, Pelosi is undoubtedly an able hand at the practical aspects of the job, and in several high-profile episodes she's successfully resisted parts of the Republican agenda and occasionally even the more right-wing elements of her own party. On the other, Pelosi is arguably the perfect avatar for today's moribund Democratic Party: awash in money, steeped in conflicts of interest, hopelessly anchored to an illiberal and always-moving center, and pathologically unable to fully stand up for what should theoretically be its own principles — all of which makes her unsuited to leading the party in the current moment."

"Envisioning Solidarity: ON DECEMBER 29TH, the last night of Hanukkah, several of us met at Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza for the lighting of a hanukkiah as tall as a city street lamp. 'Brooklyn's Largest Menorah' belongs to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Chabad; it is lit nightly during the holiday at celebrations usually dominated by Chabadniks. But on this cold, rainy evening, a more diverse crowd gathered, brought together by a call from progressive Jewish and Muslim organizations to join in solidarity with the Orthodox community. The previous night, 30 miles north in the town of Monsey, a masked intruder had entered the home of a Hasidic rabbi during a Hanukkah party and stabbed five people. (All the victims lived, but one is likely to be permanently comatose.) The vigil at the menorah lighting felt both disorienting and familiar, a surreal performance of intercommunal life in central Brooklyn, where all but one of us live. It was heartening to join with friends and neighbors—Jewish, black, South Asian—to demand an end to the frightening wave of violence currently afflicting Orthodox Jews in the New York area: the stabbings in Monsey, the mass shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City, and the relentless stream of assaults and vandalisms in Brooklyn. At the same time, even as we recited the Hanukkah blessings along with a Chabad rabbi, it was clear that we were witnessing not a single unified event but two parallel ones: a Hanukkah ceremony by and primarily for a particular Hasidic community, and a rally against antisemitism held by outsiders to that community. Huddled together under umbrellas, eating hot latkes distributed by Chabadnik children, we were intimate yet divided, as we are in our neighborhoods. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, over the days that followed, these gestures at solidarity were counteracted by something darker than mere division: rhetoric from the Jewish right and center that attempted to pit leftist Jews against Orthodox ones."

I really need to get around to doing some googling to find out how it worked out six years ago when Vietnam sentenced corrupt bankers to firing squads. How's their economy doing?

From Yves Smith in April of 2013, "Bill Greider on Why Paul Krugman Was So Wrong: I know I often give Paul Krugman a hard time. The big reason is he does not always seem to take the responsibilities that come along with his stature seriously. While he has staked out some important positions and defended them vigorously, such as firmly opposing austerity, and took quite a lot of heat for his early opposition to the war in Iraq, in other areas he is often too inclined to fall in with conventional thinking. And don't get me started on how he defends dubious Obama behavior. The fact that the Republicans are bad guys does not make the Democrats good guys by default. A good piece in the Nation by Bill Greider, which focuses on Krugman's long standing support of free trade, and how, contrary to his predictions, the results were not positive for ordinary American workers. Greider, who has long stressed that our system is not open trade but managed trade, and that other countries manage it with much more attention to protecting their workers than we do, has reason to personalize this discussion. He does point out that Krugman's positions on trade were widely held among mainstream economists in the 1990s. But it is still fair for Greider to call Krugman out. First, Krugman, as a trade economist, was taken seriously not just in the profession but in wider policy debates. Second, Krugman took it upon himself to act as an enforcer, and went after people who dared suggest that opening up more sources of low wage labor might reduce pay levels in the US. In particular, he savaged Greider."

"A provocative new book argues we must 'unlearn' race. We absolutely should: While many on the left now reject gender categories, they seem determined to enshrine racial categories. Let's do better [...] Then everything changed: he and his wife, a white French woman, had their daughter Marlow. As Williams held Marlow, he took in her blonde hair and blue eyes and his conception of America's strict racial dichotomy between black and white started to collapse before him. He began to see racial categories as an obstacle to social progress."

"Bill Barr Thinks America Is Going to Hell: And he's on a mission to use the 'authority' of the executive branch to stop it. [...] It is hardly the first time Mr. Barr stepped outside of long-established norms for the behavior of attorneys general. In his earlier stint as attorney general, during the George H.W. Bush presidency, Mr. Barr took on the role of helping to disappear the case against Reagan administration officials involved in the Iran-contra affair. The situation demonstrated that 'powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office,' according to Lawrence Walsh, the independent prosecutor in that case. According to some critics, Mr. Barr delivered the partisan goods then, as he is delivering them now. Another view is that Mr. Barr is principally a defender of a certain interpretation of the Constitution that attributes maximum power to the executive. This view, too, finds ample support in Mr. Barr's own words. In the speech to the Federalist Society, he said, 'Since the mid-'60s, there has been a steady grinding down of the executive branch's authority that accelerated after Watergate.' In July, when President Trump claimed, in remarks to a conservative student group, 'I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,' it is reasonable to suppose this is his CliffsNotes version of Mr. Barr's ideology. Both of these views are accurate enough. But at least since Mr. Barr's infamous speech at the University of Notre Dame Law School, in which he blamed 'secularists' for 'moral chaos' and 'immense suffering, wreckage and misery,' it has become clear that no understanding of William Barr can be complete without taking into account his views on the role of religion in society. For that, it is illuminating to review how Mr. Barr has directed his Justice Department on matters concerning the First Amendment clause forbidding the establishment of a state religion." What Barr believes in is "religious freedom" for people with his religious beliefs, and that "freedom" is the freedom to assert, in all things, the dominance of his own religion: religious privilege.

"The Incredible, Rage-Inducing Inside Story of America's Student Debt Machine: Why is the nation's flagship loan forgiveness program failing the people it's supposed to help? [...] Everything seemed fine for the first few years—McIlvaine initially made payments through an Education Department website, and then, as the department increasingly outsourced its loans, hers were transferred to a company called MOHELA. But once FedLoan took over, things quickly started to go awry. While FedLoan was sorting out the transfer, her loans were put into forbearance, an option usually reserved for people having difficulty making payments; during a forbearance, any progress toward forgiveness stalls, and loans balloon with interest. Then the company failed to put several of her loans on an income-based plan—so her payments briefly shot up, she says. And when McIlvaine submitted her tax information, she says FedLoan took months to process the paperwork—while she waited, the company again put her into what it called 'administrative forbearance,' so none of the payments she made during this period counted either. (McIlvaine requested a forbearance at least once, after turning in late renewal paperwork.) McIlvaine initially hoped these problems were just 'hiccups,' but they kept piling up. And when she tried to figure out what was going on, she says, FedLoan's call center 'loan counselors' brushed the whole thing off as an inconsequential administrative oversight. Astonishingly, the cycle would repeat over the next four years."

Ganesh Sitaraman in The New Republic, "The Collapse of Neoliberalism: The long-dominant ideology brought us forever wars, the Great Recession, and extreme inequality. Good riddance.: With the 2008 financial crash and the Great Recession, the ideology of neoliberalism lost its force. The approach to politics, global trade, and social philosophy that defined an era led not to never-ending prosperity but utter disaster. 'Laissez-faire is finished,' declared French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted in testimony before Congress that his ideology was flawed. In an extraordinary statement, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared that the crash 'called into question the prevailing neoliberal economic orthodoxy of the past 30 years—the orthodoxy that has underpinned the national and global regulatory frameworks that have so spectacularly failed to prevent the economic mayhem which has been visited upon us.'"

"The Ultra-Wealthy Who Argue That They Should Be Paying Higher Taxes: In an age of historic disparity, Abigail Disney and the Patriotic Millionaires take on income inequality. [...] Disney is one of the highest-profile figures in the Patriotic Millionaires, which now has more than two hundred members in thirty-four states: technology entrepreneurs, software engineers, Wall Street investors, industrialists, and inheritors of family fortunes. Although Abigail is best known for her criticisms of the Disney company, the group's mission was initially a simple idea endorsed by a half-dozen rich people: 'Please raise our taxes.' The members now have the broader goal of pressuring their wealthy peers to confront what they believe are the destructive effects of trickle-down economics—the idea, which has driven U.S. policy decisions for several decades and has largely been debunked, that reducing taxes on businesses and the wealthy will benefit low- and middle-income workers. Members of the Patriotic Millionaires lobby lawmakers and affluent individuals to instead support policies that would, for instance, increase the minimum wage and raise taxes on corporations and the rich. 'If you want to change social norms, you've got to be out there going public about your beliefs,' Eric Schoenberg, a former investment banker, said, during a breakfast that the group held in New York, in October."

Venn Diagram

Beach Boys, "I Can Hear Music"