15 March 2020

You're still sorry, and there's still no apology

No surprises in South Carolina, where Biden won big. Sanders was the only other to break the 15% threshold (with 19.8%). Buttigieg and Steyer dropped out of the race the next day, and Klobuchar a day later. Pete and Amy made it clear they were dropping on behalf of Biden to help him beat Bernie. The terrain looked quite different from the polls and there was little joy in Mudville on Super Tuesday when Bernie won only four states — CO, UT, VT, and CA. Bloomberg, his work done, was gone by Wednesday night, and Thursday, Warren made a stirring resignation speech. Liz didn't endorse, probably because she needs to decide whether she can bring herself to endorse her original nemesis in politics, Joe Biden, or snub the establishment and endorse Sanders. It's hard to imagine her lining up with the man she said this about as recently as Monday night. It all seems to have been orchestrated by Obama, of course - the man whose sole interest in politics since Trump's election has been to thwart progressive Dems. It's a two-man race, now - two "old white guys", in fact. Sanders announced Thursday that his VP would be a woman who supports Medicare For All.

But the turn-out continues to be disappointing even where wins had been hoped for, when, Michigan turned to Biden and he seems to have doubled his lead on March 10th. Although neither candidate has a knock-out lead, it's hard to see where Sanders can make up the numbers. But, clearly, the Democratic leadership has decided to put all its chips on people hating Trump enough that they will vote for someone who couldn't be more similar to him.

"Bernie Sanders: Now More Than Ever: There's too much at stake to let establishment Democrats lead us down the road of failure by selling Joe Biden as safe. He's not. [...] A long career as a union organizer who has helped workers overcome incredibly stiff odds in many hard-to-win National Labor Relations Board elections has given me some insight into the Trump strategy, because it is identical to the methods and techniques deployed by anti-union consultants: drive doubt, suspicion, division, fear, hate, and, above all else, use every mechanism of voter suppression—especially damping down turnout on election day—available. This union buster-Trump playbook can be overcome only by a candidate who will raise people's expectations that they and their family deserve and can obtain a better life, and who has the capacity to counter wedge against Trump on key issues. With no special affection for either of the older white men this contest has come down to—I'd like the chance to vote for a younger, unionized, working-class woman of color, to be clear—I also know that it's imperative we understand why Joe Biden is a repeat of Hillary Clinton and thus will likely lose in November. "

I'm going to steer clear of the pandemic, since it's suddenly become all the news there is. But Pareene is right on the money. "The Dismantled State Takes on a Pandemic [...] Despite its grip on power, the conservative movement cannot adapt to the circumstances created by its victory over the state. It didn't occur to the right that a more terrifying series of words than 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help' would turn out to be 'I'm from the government, and I guess I anticipated that the private sector would have engaged.'"

"Most People Never Saw the Best of Bernie Sanders's Campaign On Wednesday, Sanders gave a press conference in Vermont and declared his intention to stay in the race, despite delegate math that makes his nomination look extremely unlikely. 'On Sunday, I very much look forward to the debate in Arizona, with my friend Joe Biden,' he said. But the confidence that he displayed in February is gone. An outbreak of the coronavirus is starting to paralyze life in the United States, and both Sanders and Biden have begun cancelling campaign events, complying with expert advice to avoid large gatherings of people. (The location of Sunday's debate between the two has been moved from Arizona to Washington, D.C., for the same reason.) For Sanders, this means giving up the best of his campaign. He's not ready to give up the rest, yet."

Some writers have attempted to interpret the fact that South Carolina's black voters went for Biden despite the fact that they seem to support Sanders' agenda, but I mostly read them as black "centrists" making stuff up to explain away the usual manipulation of voters. I trust Adolph Reed a lot more. "South Carolina, Neoliberalism's Stranglehold, and the Mystique of the 'Black Vote': By reducing all of black Americans' concerns to race or exploiting the idea of a singular 'black vote' in the first place, the elite political class continues to undermine our ability to organize the majoritarian social movement we need to combat the ruling-class assault on all working people in the United States."

"Sanders Releases Reproductive Justice Plan, Calls for Legislative Codification of Roe v. Wade: A day prior to announcing his Reproductive Heath Care and Justice for All plan, Bernie Sanders lit Joe Biden's ass up at a rally in Detroit by doing what is increasingly becoming the easiest thing to do when criticizing the former Vice President, quoting him directly."

OK, this is enough to make me swear. "Warren Urged By National Organization For Women Not To Endorse Sanders: He Has 'Done Next To Nothing For Women'." Sanders' record on women's issues can stand up to anyone's; Biden's record is mostly fighting against things women need. NOW supporting Joe Biden is one of the more disgusting things I've ever heard. It's...deplorable.

"Erik Prince Recruits Ex-Spies to Help Infiltrate Liberal Groups: Mr. Prince, a contractor close to the Trump administration, contacted veteran spies for operations by Project Veritas, the conservative group known for conducting stings on news organizations and other groups."

"The Times' Attempt to Create a Bernie-Russia Scandal Is an Embarrassment [...] Crazy! Bernie Sanders, as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, tried to betray the United States! Wow! Really? Ah, no"

At Black Agenda Report, a frustrated Glen ford complains that, "The Corporations and Their Media Strangled Bernie, and Older Black Voters Tied the Knot: There really is no more to the clap-trap about a Black electoral 'strategy' than attempting to figure out which way the white folks are going and then circling the Black wagons, accordingly."

"The Amount of Voter Suppression in Texas Would Keep U.N. Election Monitors Busy: Before Super Tuesday, the essential Ari Berman pointed out on the electric Twitter machine that, in the wake of the Supreme Court's having gutted the Voting Rights Act, Texas had gone out of its way to close 750 polling places. (The Guardian looked into the numbers and came to the unsurprising conclusion that these closures affected minority voters most harshly.) And that's how Hervis Rodgers became famous on Tuesday night. Rodgers waited seven hours to vote at a polling station on the campus of Texas Southern University in Houston."

Tucker Carlson makes me crazy again. This time he barely even wandered off the path into Fox News territory. It's all true: "Tucker: Democrats pin their hopes on gaffe-prone Joe Biden." Almost word-for-word what Democrats should be saying. I remember there used to be someone on Air America named Rachel Maddow who might have said something like this. Usually Tucker completely ruins it at the end of his amazingly progressive analyses by suddenly detouring into raving right-wing loony conclusions, but not this time.

"Democrats, You Really Do Not Want To Nominate Joe Biden: We urgently need to remember who Biden is and think carefully about what would happen if he were chosen. [...] The reason many of us are so turned off by Joe Biden is that, over the course of a many-decade career in Washington, he has let us down on the key issues when it matters most. Joe Biden has shown himself to be fundamentally weak, unreliable, and dishonest. He gets taken advantage of by Republicans, and he seems more interested in making friends than advancing Democratic ideals."

Is our old friend Election Fraud back? Given that everyone seems to have switched to electronic voting, it's probably the way to bet. "Super Tuesday Biden Victories Questioned by Election Watchers: Wildly divergent exit polls in South Carolina and Massachusetts, and documented voting problems in California and Texas, have prompted veteran election watchers to suggest that there may have been election fraud on Super Tuesday, always at the expense of the Bernie Sanders vote. Edison Research/CNN polls show 4 point and 7 point discrepancies in South Carolina and Massachusetts, respectively, between the computer-tallied vote totals and exit polling. Exit polls are considered by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to be one reliable, although not in itself conclusive, indicator of election fraud. Election fraud may be perpetrated by hacking of vote tabulation machines, or reporting incorrect results that are different from the tally tapes from each machine. Although exit polls may be wrong, which even among experts are considered just one limited but useful tool for detecting fraud, it is more unusual when the errors always point in the same direction. The both SC and MA, exit polls showed Sanders doing better than the official vote tallies."

"How The Senate Paved The Way For Coronavirus Profiteering, And How Congress Could Undo It [...] That's how much of the pharmaceutical industry's research and development is funded. The public puts in the money, and private companies keep whatever profits they can command. But it wasn't always that way. Before 1995, drug companies were required to sell drugs funded with public money at a reasonable price. Under the Clinton administration, that changed. [...] The move was controversial, and a House member from Vermont, independent Bernie Sanders, offered an amendment to reinstate the rule. It failed on a largely party-line vote, 242-180. Then in 2000, Sanders authored and passed a bipartisan amendment in the House to reimpose the 'reasonable pricing' rule. In the Senate, a similar measure was pushed by the late Paul Wellstone of Minnesota. 'Many in Congress find it hard to argue with Sanders' line that 'Americans must pay twice for life-saving drugs, first as taxpayers to develop the drug and then as consumers to pad pharmaceutical profits,'' Nature wrote at the time. Then-Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware voted to table Wellstone's amendment, and it was defeated 56-39."

And if someone asks you for info on Joe Biden, by all means send them here.

"What Happened to the Company That Raised Minimum Wage to $70k/yr? Remember a few years ago when the owner of a credit card payment processing company based in Seattle raised the minimum wage of his employees to $70,000/yr while taking a huge pay-cut himself and capitalists the world over, afraid of their beloved & apparently suuuuper delicate system collapsing from such madness, flipped out? The BBC recently checked in with Gravity Payments and its owner Dan Price to see how things were going. Pretty damn well, as it turns out: [...] When Price made the announcement about raising wages, two senior employees quit because they thought the junior employees would become lazy and the company would suffer. Spolier alert: didn't happen. [...] Employees that worry less about debt, healthcare, or where their next meal is coming from are happier, more productive employees. Imagine that."

Interesting little data point from a couple weeks ago: "Bernie Sanders Beats All Other Democratic Candidates In One-On-One Matchups, Says Poll" — which means once we get down to just Bernie and any other Dems, most Democrats would side with Bernie. At the other end of the spectrum, everyone in the field beats Bloomberg. In national head-to-heads with Trump, Sanders beats him better than anyone, but of course what really matters is the state head-to-heads, where it's way too close for comfort in too many places. (Of course, these things can change, and seem to have done so since that poll was taken.)

A little story from 2016: "Obama Wanted To Cut Social Security. Then Bernie Sanders Happened." What caused Obama's complete about-face on an issue he'd been pushing from the moment he got into the Oval Office? (And, really, had hinted at before he was even elected.) Well, you know the answer to that.

"There is hard data that shows "Bernie Bros" are a myth: A computational social scientist's study shows Bernie's Twitter followers act pretty much the same as everyone else. Mainstream pundits and politicians continue to obsess over the stereotype of the "Bernie Bro," a perfervid horde of Bernie Sanders supporters who supposedly stop at nothing to harass his opponents online. Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and New York Times columnist Bret Stephens have all helped perpetuate the idea that Sanders' supporters are somehow uniquely cruel, despite Sanders' platform and policy proposal being the most humane of all the candidates. The only problem? The evidence that Sanders supporters are uniquely cruel online, compared to any other candidates' supporters, is scant; much of the discourse around Bernie Bros seems to rely on skewed anecdotes that don't stand up to scrutiny. Many Sanders supporters suspect that the stereotype is perpetuated in bad faith to help torpedo his candidacy."

"Centrists" argue that we need to nominate someone "moderate" enough for Republicans to vote for, which, aside from being a terrible reason to nominate someone as the candidate for the Democratic Party doesn't seem to be holding much water if even "NeverTrump" voters are willing to vote for Sanders. "Former Trump Presidential Opponent Joe Walsh Backs Bernie Sanders, Tells GOP 'I'd Rather Have A Socialist Than A Con Man'." Not that Walsh is typical of the NeverTrumpers, an awful lot of whom seem to be Republican operatives who have merely been frozen out of the current administration and just want the old regime back in — and they, of course, keep advising us to nominate someone who is pretty much a Republican except for the D.

Please make this nightmare go away. "Joe Biden's secret governing plan: Joe Biden confidants are privately discussing potential leaders and Cabinet members for his White House, including the need to name a woman or African American — perhaps both — as vice president, top sources tell "Axios on HBO." Why it matters: Biden advisers describe a Return to Normal plan — a reversal of President Trump's unorthodox, improvisational style. Biden wants known, trusted people around him — many from the Obama years." Shortlist appears to include: John, Kerry, Elizabeth Warren, Susan Rice, Michael Bloomberg, and Jamie Dimon.

"MSNBC Benches Contributor Who Smeared Bernie Sanders Staffers: Following MSNBC contributor Dr. Jason Johnson's inflammatory remarks about supporters and campaign staffers of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the academic has been temporarily benched by the network, sources confirmed to The Daily Beast. In recent months, Johnson—a fixture of the network's Democratic primary analysis—has drawn considerable heat for his relentlessly anti-Sanders commentary on MSNBC, which has also come under fire from the left for its skeptical and largely negative coverage of the democratic-socialist senator. During an interview last week on SiriusXM's The Karen Hunter Show, Johnson claimed 'racist white liberals' support Sanders and that the senator has done 'nothing for intersectionality.' The MSNBC contributor then took aim at the women of color who work for Sanders. 'I don't care how many people from the island of misfit black girls you throw out there to defend you,' Johnson exclaimed."

"Noam Chomsky: 'Bernie Is Vilified Because He Has Inspired a Movement' [...] First of all we should mention and bear in mind that Margaret Thatcher and the people around Reagan were not fools. They understood that it would be necessary to destroy the labour movements if they wanted to carry through the kinds of policies which were certain to harm the general population, as indeed they have done."

Jake Tapper noticed something. And tells us, by the way, that a Republican operative said they were more afraid of Howard Dean than they were of the "more electable" John Kerry.

Edroso, "Red Assed: Sometimes it seems things are out of control in dazzling new ways, and sometimes it seems they're out of control in ways that are even older than I am. Like did you see that Bernie Sanders, Democratic presidential front-runner, said on TV that Cubans have done alright at health care — which is true! See 'How Cubans Live as Long as Americans at a Tenth of the Cost' — and at literacy programs — which is also true! See 'An adult literacy program developed in Cuba is now being used in more than 30 countries' — and now everyone's acting like he said 'I think gulags are great, you can't have universal health care without gulags, as President I will throw you all in gulags'?"

"Months After Supporting a Deadly Coup, WaPo Admits Bolivia's Elections Were Clean" — Points to the Post for having printed it, but it still leaves out a lot. "Thus, the entire article is presented as an interesting anomaly, rather than evidence of a major international crime."

"Bernie Sanders' Medicare For All Policy Would Likely Increase Wages And Create Jobs, New Economic Analysis Shows [...] Sanders, a progressive senator from Vermont who is currently a close second to former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic frontrunner, has long advocated for a universal or single-payer health care system. Critics argue that such a policy would lead to mass job loss and be an economic drain on the country, but the new analysis published Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) suggests the opposite would happen. Josh Bivens, EPI's director who conducted the study, wrote in the report that Medicare for All 'would be unambiguously positive' for the labor market in the U.S., leading to a 'boost in wages and salaries' as well as an 'increase in job quality, while producing 'a net increase in jobs.' Although the analysis notes that policymakers should not 'ignore the distress caused by job transitions' due to such a health care reform, Bivens wrote that job losses during a transitional period would be 'relatively small.'"

The Los Angeles Times, "Column: Bernie Sanders isn't going to destroy the Democratic Party. He just might save it [...] After all, most polls say that Sanders can beat Trump. Sanders' polling strength undercuts the oft-repeated claim that he can be destroyed because he calls himself a democratic socialist. Besides, if the Republicans haven't already neutered the word 'socialist' through overuse, they soon will. Also, when he is given the chance, Sanders makes a perfectly cogent case that he is ideologically in tune with most Americans, whether they realize it or not."

For some reason, anti-Berners pretend to care passionately about how Sanders voted on it, so here's a quick refresh: "Why Did Bernie Sanders Vote Against the Magnitsky Act?."

RIP: "Dr. Stanley Dudrick, Who Saved Post-Surgical Patients, Dies at 84: Why were they dying after 'successful' operations? He discovered the cause and came up with a remedy: intravenous nutrition — a technique that has saved millions of lives." He did more, and he never patented any of it because he believed it should be available to everyone. More here

RIP: "Rosalind P. Walter, original 'Rosie the Riveter,' dies at 95: Walter was the inspiration behind the "Rosie the Riveter" song after she spent a year working at the Sikorsky aircraft plant at the age of 19."

RIP: Legendary science fiction fan and pornographer Earl Kemp, 1929-2020, after a fall. He connected with fandom in 1950 and eventually became the president of U of Chicago's SF club. "In 1955, Earl and several other UofCSF Club members started Advent:Publishers with the idea of bringing out critical works about science fiction. Advent's other founders, besides Earl, were Robert Briney, Sidney Coleman, James O'Meara, George Price, Jon Stopa and Ed Wood. Damon Knight had written a goodly number of critical essays for science fiction magazines by then, and it was Earl's idea to assemble them into a book. In 1956, Advent published as its first book Damon Knight's In Search of Wonder. Advent would also publish major nonfiction works such as James Blish's The Issue at Hand, Don Tuck's massive bibliographic Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy to 1968, Robert Bloch's The Eighth Stage of Fandom, as well as Harry Warner, Jr's All Our Yesterdays and Alexei Panshin's Heinlein in Dimension." Here he talks about his famous arrest.

"How To Be A Democrat, According To Republicans: Beware the advice offered by your literal opponent. [...] Republicans have always loved to lecture liberals on what they should be doing, sometimes adopting the pretense of telling them how to win elections. This always takes the form of encouraging them to be more like Republicans. To an easy mark, the offer of advice might seem to display a lack of self-interest that makes it trustworthy. But in the world of American politics, it's a deviously effective strategy. If Republicans can convince Democrats to dilute their identity and abandon their principles, there are two possible results. The first is that they will appear so enfeebled and unreliable to the electorate that they will inevitably lose. The second is that even if they win, they will have become Republicans in the process. Like the scorpion sinking into the river with the frog, Republicans know that this defeat is also in some sense a victory. Yet Democrats fall into this trap over and over again, a tendency that has risen precipitously with the emergence of the so-called #NeverTrump movement. MSNBC is crawling with Republican talking heads; the op-ed pages of major newspapers regularly allow them to address Democrats in the second person.

"The Liberal-Conservative-Socialist Case for Bernie Sanders [...] Even someone committed to reasonableness and conversation can find that their energy flags while arguing with Brooks, his colleagues Bret Stephens and Thomas Friedman, and other never-Sanders avatars of the center. Brooks has seemingly gotten his impression of Sanders from Stephens's columns, not from anyone with first-hand experience of the campaign."

Robert Borosage, "Biden's Not the One: [...] If the Democratic establishment thinks that Joe Biden is a better candidate to run against Donald Trump, they're in for a rude awakening. Joe Biden was less architect than inheritor of his stunning electoral comeback. His sweeping victory in South Carolina was largely orchestrated by the forceful South Carolina Representative James Clyburn. Then the Democratic establishment went all in."

"How 'Bernie Bros' Were Invented, Then Smeared as Sexist, Racist and unAmerican as Borscht [...] Biden's campaign is a reminder that power is indivisible. Donald Trump or Joe Biden for president — it doesn't matter to the power-establishment. An egomaniacal man-child (Trump), representing the billionaires, or an elder suffering rapid neurological degeneration (Biden), representing the billionaires, are equally useful to power. A woman will do too, or a person of colour. The establishment is no longer worried about who stands on stage — so long as that person is not a Bernie Sanders in the US, or a Jeremy Corbyn in the UK."

"Recovered History: America lured, drowned thousands of Cubans: Seems like everyone's slamming Bernie Sanders for saying a few nice things about Cuba and Fidel Castro. Miami's response topped them all, though. The city just announced it's gonna hold a government-funded (yes, government-funded) anti-communist concert dedicated to the people who risked their lives escaping communism. Take that Bernie, you old Judeo-Bolshevik! Speaking of escaping communism. Most people don't know that America had a hand in killing an estimated 77,000 Cubans just in the 1980s and 1990s — that's way more than the total number of Cubans than Castro is accused of killing. [...] Obviously not everyone decided to raft it to freedom because of one-sided CIA propaganda. But it's clear that some — and possibly very, very many — did. Producing disinformation that celebrated the people who made it across safely while being quiet about the ones who didn't — the ones who drowned at sea? Not sure what the relevant legal classification here would be. But to a simple Soviet refugee like me, this is more than callous. It's straight up murder. Publicly, Radio Martí said it cared about the Cuban people. Privately, it knowingly led many to their deaths. Of course the body count from these drownings doesn't include the one racked up by the brutal colonial dictatorship that Fidel Castro overthrew — the one that America supported. But hey, can you really put a price on anti-communism? American history says, 'No.'"

I'm not sure how I ended up getting requests for comment at Quora, but it was interesting to see Vermonters talking about What Vermont residents think of Bernie Sanders.

This is a WaPo link so you might want to use the Incognito Window to read it. "Coronavirus makes the case for Medicare-for-all [...] We're all fixated on the Trump administration's day-late-and-billions-of-dollars-short response to the increasing likelihood that coronavirus will cause a public-health crisis in the United States. But the fact remains that even if the government were fully prepared, many Americans will face another barrier to receiving care that will make the crisis worse."

"Who Moved Tom Friedman's Cheese? I regret to inform you that Tom Friedman has written about electoral politics again. Does he try to filter the Democratic primary through a mediocre 15-year-old bestseller that for some reason middlebrow pundits instantly determined had a lesson that was applicable to obviously inapplicable situations? You know the answer!"

I watched this video and I feel like I just had four years of college in an hour, only without the boring parts: Michael Hudson - Life and Thought: The interview with Professor Michael Hudson was conducted on 7 May 2018 in Beijing, by Professor Lau Kin Chi and Professor Sit Tsui Jade. Professor Hudson talked about his formative years, and his turn to economics from music as he found his mentor Terence McCarthy's speech about economics beautiful and aesthetic. He recalled his experiences in research and teaching, and the background leading to his writing the many books on imperialism, balance of payment, history of debt, and fictitious capital."

Cory Doctorow has moved to his own blog.

Embroidery tattoos

"Listen To This Fascinating WWII Radio Chatter From A Lancaster Crew On A Bombing Raid."

The return of the Dixie Chicks, "Gaslighter".