Thursday, February 13, 2020

Now I know you're not the only starfish in the sea

Bernie won New Hampshire, but it doesn't seem he gets more delegates out of it than second-placer Buttigieg. Klobuchar obviously got some mileage from all that media love, leaving Warren and Biden distant fourth and fifth, respectively. Meanwhile, Yang dropped out and Tom Steyer appears to be teetering on the brink. (Naturally, the headlines are all about Amy and Pete, not Bernie's win.)

It's still unclear who officially won the Democratic caucuses in Iowa, despite Sanders having more votes in both the first and second round. Buttigieg declared victory first with 0% reporting, then later with 38% of the vote still unreported and the news media seemed happy to let him, but even with the convoluted reasoning they use, his lead was drying up as a few more of the late-reporters started coming in. And then Tom Perez said they needed a re-caucus. The facts we have: Sanders got the most votes. But doesn't get the most delegates.

R.J. Eskow, "Iowa Wasn't a Technology Failure. It Was a Failure of Democratic Values. This kind of behavior undercuts the Democratic Party politically. To put it in today's corporatized vocabulary, "democracy" is the party's brand—and lately they've been trashing it. [...] On its face, the level of incompetence leading up to the Iowa fiasco seems almost incomprehensible. First, a party that has spent the last three years talking about data hacking took a manual process and shifted it onto on one of the most hackable devices in the world: a cell phone. Then, having created a vulnerability where there had been none, it spent more money protecting itself from this self-created vulnerability. The technology in question was then rushed into production without proper training for its users, when the stakes for democracy were high—and the whole world was watching. Crazy, right? Actually, no. It all makes perfect sense—once you realized that the software was only a secondary concern for the people involved. Max Blumenthal reports that Shadow Inc, the software company that produced the app, had ties to the Buttigieg campaign both as a contractor and (through its top funder) as a donor. ( 'Shadow Inc'? Really? Were all the best evil names taken, like 'Spectre' and 'Hydra?') Shadow Inc's website says that its employees are veterans of the Clinton and Obama campaigns, as well as the DNC—although, like the Men in Black, it refuses to identify its operatives by name. This reinforces the sense of an insider clique with an interest in the caucus results, rather than a team of the most qualified tech experts. As Blumenthal observes, 'the conspiracy theories write themselves.' The technology failed, but the deal-making worked just fine. Its underlying purpose wasn't to produce an app, or any other product. The deal was the product. The app was merely the residue of an agreed-upon cash transfer among insiders. Its functionality was a secondary concern."

"Sam Seder RIPS Into Iowa Caucus App and Democratic Swamp." — You could say we got Mooked again.

FiveThirtyEight shows Sanders now leading nationally, though RealClearPolitics tells a different story with Biden still slightly ahead of him, and Bloomberg ahead of him.

It's worth right-clicking this link for an incognito window to see just how dangerous McKinsey Pete really is: "Buttigieg health plan hinges on 'supercharged' version of unpopular Obamacare mandate: Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg sells his health-care plan as a moderate alternative to Medicare-for-all — offering a government-sponsored plan to those who want it while letting others keep their private and employer-sponsored insurance. But the South Bend, Ind., mayor's plan has a catch: If you choose not to enroll in any coverage, you could still be on the hook for thousands of dollars. Under Buttigieg's proposal, Americans who lack coverage would be automatically enrolled in the government plan, potentially saddling them with a big bill at the end of the year for 'retroactive' coverage. [...] 'Instead of paying a $695 fine at the end of the year for being uninsured, you are hit with a bill to pay an entire year of premiums that could be ten times that amount,' he said. 'This will be a political nightmare.'"

Joseph Stiglitz, "The Truth About the Trump Economy." Wages are still low, Americans are dying of "diseases of despair" in record numbers, but the Democrats, for some reason, let Trump go on crowing about his "great" economy as if it were true. I wonder why that is?

"Bernie Sanders leads Donald Trump in polls, even when you remind people he's a socialist" - being called a socialist in polls doesn't seem to hurt Sanders much - maybe even less than being called a Democrat.

At The Toledo Blade, recognition that Trump will have a hard time getting under Sanders' skin, "How Bernie Sanders hangs in: THE BIGGEST national political story of the holidays was a sleeper: the resilience of Bernie Sanders. After flirtations with various new flavors and saviors — Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, to name two — the two old white guys are still standing and, in polling terms, stronger than ever. Even the promise of Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg has faded. But whereas Joe Biden seems permanently diminished by his own verbal and intellectual confusion and by his son's self-dealing, Bernie is getting stronger."

"'We Will Not Be Intimidated': Journalist Glenn Greenwald Defiant After Being Charged With Cybercrimes By Right-Wing Bolsonaro Brazilian Government: Journalist Glenn Greenwald hit back after being charged with cybercrimes by Brazilian authorities Tuesday in connection to his reporting on corruption in the country, saying he would fight to defend the right to a free press and his right to report the truth. [...] The move to charge Greenwald by the right-wing government of President Jair Bolsonaro was quickly and forcefully condemned by progressives and journalists around the world. [...] Prosecutors claim that Greenwald—who has lived in Brazil with his husband, David Miranda, for many years—is at the center of a "criminal conspiracy" to hack cellphones of government officials."

Tom Perez ensures tilted scales by nominating staunch anti-Bernie people to the 2020 Democratic National Convention committees. Have a look at who those people are.

The New Republic, "Tom Perez Stacks the DNC Deck Against Progressives: A rogues' gallery of influence-peddlers and insider power brokers will run the party's powerful convention committees.." I think what irritates me most is remembering all those people who insisted that we shouldn't be upset about how Perez was inserted into the race against Ellison because after all the head of the DNC has no power to do anything.

The DNC changed the rules for the debates to allow a Republican, Michael Bloomberg, to participate. This inspired The Onion, "DNC Mulls Asking Donald Trump To Run As Democrat In Effort To Stop Sanders [...] 'He's obviously not our first choice, but Trump has a track record of winning elections, not to mention he does well with the conservative voters we'll need to swing some red states blue—if that's who we need to ask to ensure Bernie doesn't win, we'll do it,' said DNC chairman Tom Perez, who had circled Trump's name on a white board listing dozens of potential candidates the party could try to convince to jump into the Democratic Party primaries in order to obstruct a Sanders nomination."

"The Stop Bernie Movement Is Inherently Anti-American," but one thing I like about the Stop Bernie movement is that they have ads that probably convince more normal people to vote for him.

"Why the centrist extremists are an incredibly dangerous political animal" — mainly because they have a constituency of about 3.8% of the population and keep trying to pretend they are the entire voting public except for a few "extremist crackpots, when in fact those "extremists" make up nearly three-quarters of the electorate.

The Onion, "Liberals Say Sanders's Acceptance Of Rogan Endorsement Sends Dangerous Message He Trying To Win Election [...] Griffin added that it was even more disturbing that Sanders would attempt this during an election year."

End of Blame Game: Sanders (and His Supporters) Helped Hillary Win Popular Vote in 2016: Sanders voters were an indispensable contribution to her popular vote tallies. [...] If Sanders voters hadn't voted for Clinton, she would have lost. Badly. Not just the national popular vote either.....Clinton would have lost all the states she lost anyway but by larger margins, and would have also lost New Hampshire, New Mexico and Minnesota by even the more expansive figure, Virginia"

"Hillary Clinton is still trying to sell herself as a feminist icon. Don't buy it: The real issue of 'representation' isn't that there aren't enough powerful women. It's that what is represented as feminism is actually corporatism."

She has actually vaguely walked back on what the headline here is, but it's really not about that, anyway, but about the dishonestly of Clinton's claims. "Hillary Clinton Won't Commit to Endorsing Sanders If He Wins Nomination [...] It is true that Bernie Sanders has been in Congress for years and that Jeff Merkley was the only senator to endorse him in the 2016 primary. But everything else Clinton says here is false. Eight members of Congress have endorsed the Vermont senator this cycle, including the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and three of the House's most prominent first-term congresswomen. The fact that these lawmakers have rallied to Sanders's side — despite the presence of another viable progressive candidate in the race — suggests that they have a high-level of interest in working with him." [...] The notion that Sanders 'got nothing done' over his long tenure in Washington is also untrue. During his 16 years in the House, Sanders passed more amendments than any other member of Congress, shoehorning small progressive wins into must-pass legislation." The come-back to this is always some variation on, "Oh, just amendments. Anybody could do that." They never realize that this raises the question: Why didn't they? Why did Bernie Sanders have to be the one to write and get passed over 90 amendments? Why didn't Hillary Clinton write and pass even one amendment? Bernie wrote amendments and got a lot of good things done - and they didn't. Why is that?

"Key House Democrat says Perez must go: 'He doesn't lead on anything': A top Democratic voice on election reform is calling for the ouster of Tom Perez, the powerful chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) who has come under fire following the Iowa caucuses. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the House Administration Committee's subpanel on elections, said Perez has failed to take responsibility for the Iowa vote-counting debacle as it unfolded this week, instead shifting blame on lower-ranking party leaders in Des Moines. [...] Fudge, the former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, also accused Perez of neglecting DNC promises to diversify the organization with more minority leaders, citing as an example the DNC's recent personnel shake up in Milwaukee, where the Democrats are set to hold their convention in July. [...] Fudge also went after Perez over reports that the DNC had approved — and later retracted — a lucrative exit package for the chairman and two of his top deputies."

You know, I can't help the feeling that Matt Yglesias is starting to feel the Bern. "Bernie Sanders showed us he's a very skilled politician: He's a much savvier operator than the establishment gives him credit for."

RIP: "Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin creator MC Beaton dies aged 83 Marion Chesney Gibbons, who wrote under the pseudonym MC Beaton, was the prolific author of the Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin crime novels." - I never read the books, but I loved the TV show and, of course, that's where we discovered Robert Carlyle.

RIP: Kirk Douglas at 103: "No actor now would dare to perform with the zest and belief that drove him. In Douglas, we can recognise a kind of acting that seems as antique, as 'period', precious and charming as the way the Gish sisters fluttered their hands and widened their eyes in the silent era. No one now is capable of the fun that Douglas had, or all the conviction he brought to good work and garbage alike. But he was Kirk Douglas — and others were not."

Robert Kuttner in The American Prospect, "Was Putin Inevitable?: How policy blunders under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush helped bring about a post-communist Russia hostile to democracy, free markets, and the West [...] The Western officials who inflicted raw, uncushioned shock therapy on Russia's economy and needlessly treated Russia as a defeated enemy rather than a new security partner virtually invited a nationalist reaction likely to produce a Vladimir Putin or someone like him. This observation doesn't make Putin a good guy. Quite the contrary: He is a thug, an autocrat, and an ally of kleptocrats. But the history shows that the twin conceits of America as sole superpower and abrupt marketization as the cure for communism interacted to create a needless catastrophe that ranks with the Treaty of Versailles. The fact that an American president has been enlisted as Putin's agent only deepens the disaster. The rise of Hitler, at least, paralleled the ascent of Roosevelt."

"Thomas Frank: Bill Clinton's Five Major Achievements Were Longstanding GOP Objectives [...] Clinton never had a really great relationship with workers' organizations, but the worst thing Clinton he did to them was NAFTA. There were many trade agreements, of course, but NAFTA was the one that mattered, both because it was the first one and because labor put everything into stopping it. Indeed labor had stopped it when George H. W. Bush tried to get it through Congress. Clinton got it done, however, with a little muscle and a vast fog of preposterous claims about how NAFTA would increase exports and manufacturing employment. His admirers saw NAFTA as his 'finest hour,; because he had stood up to a traditional Democratic constituency. What an achievement. NAFTA handed employers all over America the ultimate weapon against workers: They could now credibly threaten to pick up and leave at the slightest show of worker backbone — and they make such threats all the time now."

Thom Hartmann, "The Republican Party has been running a long con on America since Reagan's inauguration, and somehow our nation's media has missed it — even though it was announced in The Wall Street Journal in the 1970s and the GOP has clung tenaciously to it ever since.: This scam has been killing wages and enriching billionaires for decades [...] First, when Republicans control the federal government, and particularly the White House, spend money like a drunken sailor and run up the US debt as far and as fast as possible. This produces three results — it stimulates the economy thus making people think that the GOP can produce a good economy, it raises the debt dramatically, and it makes people think that Republicans are the 'tax-cut Santa Claus.' Second, when a Democrat is in the White House, scream about the national debt as loudly and frantically as possible, freaking out about how 'our children will have to pay for it!' and 'we have to cut spending to solve the crisis!' This will force the Democrats in power to cut their own social safety net programs, thus shooting their welfare-of-the-American-people Santa Claus."

"2 truths and 31 lies Joe Biden has told about his work in the Civil Rights Movement: Since the early 1970s, Joe Biden has been a serial liar when it comes to his "work" in the Civil Rights Movement. It's the equivalent of stolen valor and is fundamentally disqualifying. [...] Temporarily, Joe Biden paid a price for most of those lies, but was never fully held to account for the worst of them all. On the backs of people who actually paid an enormous price for being activists and organizers in the Civil Rights Movement, Joe Biden created a completely false narrative of his work and contributions to the movement that persists to this very day. Instead of plagiarized speeches, he was plagiarizing details about his actual life. He not only told these lies in previous generations, they have now fully returned to his current stump speeches in churches and venues around the country as if he never acknowledged and apologized for them in the past. It's shameful. Below is a full accounting of every lie Joe Biden has told about his work in the Civil Rights Movement. First, though, we must begin with two truths."

"Ep. 10: Reconsidering Ralph (feat. Ralph Nader) ["RUMBLE with Michael Moore" podcast]" - in which Michael recalls asking Al Gore if he blamed Nader for his loss, and Gore said, "Absolutely not. I blame me."

Nick Hanauer's Pitchfork Economics: "How Neoliberalism Captured Democrats (With James Kwak)" Recommended.

"The Enemies of Truth: What is George Packer so afraid of?" This is a marvelous essay about the distinction between self-important journalists who think they're too good to take criticism from their readers and journalists who actually try to get the job done. "As Packer reminds us, Hitchens once said that 'views do not really count.' 'It matters not what you think,' he said, 'but how you think.' The remark is important because it is wrong. The views counted a great deal to the Iraqis. By the time the bombs fell, it mattered little how many strokes of the chin sent them down. And that is why a writer's ultimate obligation isn't to any particular mode of discourse, but to the truth."

A great deal of how Democrats behave is down to one thing: "It's Intimidation, Not 'Moderation' [...] One early line stood out to me, 'Democrats are afraid of appearing weak on defense.' This line says so much about our national discourse. We are so used to hearing it. Democrats do things because they are afraid of how things they do and say will 'appear.' They don't want to 'be seen as' holding certain positions that trigger a certain response. Just how does that 'appearance' reach the public? Through our nation's information channels. Think about this. In a supposed democracy members of the country's majority party are 'afraid' of how they will be 'made to appear' if they do not conform to certain positions."

New from Ansible Editions, Homefront: Fandom in the UK: 1939-1945. "Another massive fanhistorical compilation by Rob Hansen, this time focusing on British fandom during World War Two. Homefront brings together a great many first-hand accounts of wartime experience through fannish eyes, showing how the lines of communication between fans continued during that huge national disruption — and so, somehow, did the fannish sense of humour. Ansible Editions ebook added to the TAFF free library on 1 February 2020. 161,500 words." Comes with an online photogallery.

In which Walt Willis invents Nudgism.

The Cyrkle, "Red Rubber Ball"

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