10 April 2020

But they turned us out and they closed the doors

Bernie suspended his campaign. He went on TV and congratulated Biden. When the media showed the clip of him doing so, they portrayed it as a virtual attack on Biden. The Onion, of course, had the honest headline: "'I Congratulate Joe Biden, A Very Decent Man,' Says Bernie Sanders In Unprovoked Attack On Democratic Party Unity."

"Bernie Sanders Was Right: Goodbye to an honest man's campaign. Bernie Sanders has ended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, which is a tragedy, because he was right about virtually everything. He was right from the very beginning, when he advocated a total overhaul of the American health care system in the 1970s. He remains right now, as a pandemic stresses the meager resources of millions of citizens to their breaking point, and possibly to their death. He was right when he seemed to be the only alarmist in a political climate of complacency. He is right now that he's the only politician unsurprised to see drug companies profiteering from a lethal plague with Congress's help. In politics, as in life, being right isn't necessarily rewarded. But at least there's some dignity in it."

"Nomiki Konst: Breaking: Where do we go now that Bernie is out?" — Organize, of course.

You can check delegate counts for the Democratic primaries on this page. Biden is roughly 300 ahead, and needs about 700 more, with 1,719 still available and half the electorate still waiting to vote. Sanders says his name will remain on the ballots in all the states that haven't voted and he still wants to collect delegates for leverage with the party.

"'Why the Unnecessary 6?': Medicare for All Advocates Warn Biden That Lowering Age to 60 Solves Nothing: 'These policies are what I would expect from Republicans. This is not a 'big overture' by any stretch of the imagination.' Progressives on Thursday were quick to call foul after it was reported that Joe Biden, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, put forth a pair of policy proposals—one lowering the Medicare age to 60 and the other a student debt relief program—purportedly designed to win over supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders who instead saw the plans as woefully insufficient." Lowering it to 60? As a trade-off for Medicare for All? And this is his charm offensive to Sanders supporters? Is this a joke?

Elie Mystal, "SCOTUS Just Set the Stage for Republicans to Steal the Election: In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin from extending the absentee voting deadline, disenfranchising thousands and creating a terrible precedent." To add insult to injury, the number of polling stations in Milwaukee had been reduced from 180 to five.

"By a 5-4 Vote, SCOTUS Lets Wisconsin Throw Out Tens of Thousands of Ballots: The conservative majority just approved one of the most brazen acts of voter suppression in modern times. [...] The court will nullify the votes of citizens who mailed in their ballots late—not because they forgot, but because they did not receive ballots until after Election Day due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in dissent, the court's order 'will result in massive disenfranchisement.' The conservative majority claimed that its decision would help protect 'the integrity of the election process.' In reality, it calls into question the legitimacy of the election itself."

"Cuomo Calls New State Budget 'Robust,' Progressives Call It 'Republican Austerity Warfare' [...] In fact, the $177 billion budget dilutes major criminal justice reforms passed last year and abandons legalizing marijuana, gives the executive branch extraordinary authority to slash funding for municipalities without raising any taxes on the wealthy, enacts substantial cuts to Medicaid, and creates a public campaign financing system that threatens the survival of third parties in New York—including the one that is most critical of Governor Cuomo. For years, advocates for government transparency have criticized the secretive way that New York's budget has been created: the governor creates a framework, and he and the two legislative leaders hash it out, often cramming in consequential legislation that has little to do with state finances without allowing for any real public debate. 'It's worthy of Vladimir Putin and the Saudi government,' one lawmaker told us last year."

"Cuomo Helped Get New York Into This Mess: The governor's position on health care spending looked starkly different a couple of months ago. As the novel coronavirus rages in New York, killing more than a thousand and locking down millions, Governor Andrew Cuomo has emerged as the hero of the moment. On television, he is everything Donald Trump is not: calm, coherent, and blunt, in a strangely reassuring way. He is becoming a #resistance hero. Some people are (literally) falling in love with him. But the same Cuomo who is racing to expand New York's hospital capacity and crying out for more federal resources is quietly trying to slash Medicaid funding in the state, enraging doctors and nurses, and elected officials of his own party. The same Cuomo who holds press briefings at a major New York City convention center, now the home of a temporary 1,000-bed hospital, presided over a decade of hospital closures and consolidations, prioritizing cost savings over keeping popular health care institutions open. It's the same Democratic governor—every liberal pundit's tried-and-true Trump antidote—who is doing damage to his state's health care system at the worst possible moment, in the eyes of the critics who follow him most closely."

Lyta Gold in Current Affairs, "Stop Trying To Make Andrew Cuomo Happen. You don't want him as president. You don't really want him as governor either." With a handy and detailed list of reasons why.

"The Truth About Governor Andrew Cuomo: Nomiki dusts off her old notes on Andrew Cuomo, who she reported on and organized against for years. Turns out, when the cameras are off, he does a lot of bad things for working people and protects a lot of corporate interests and wealthy people."

Famous economist Duncan Black says we need to pass this or we are doomed: "Priorities for the Next Coronavirus Relief Package" from Bernie Sanders.

"Republicans Are Using the Covid-19 Crisis to Kill Abortion Rights: GOP governors have begun banning abortion during the Covid-19 crisis, creating a precedent that might be too cruel for conservative judges to pass up. [...] Within the last few weeks, the governors of Texas, Ohio, Iowa, and Alabama—Republicans all—have taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to issue orders further restricting the rights of women. Their excuse? Abortions are 'elective' medical procedures and therefore have to be put on hold alongside all the other elective procedures that are being suspended during the crisis. As if a woman's right to her body is akin to getting a nose job."

"North Carolina Republican operative charged in election fraud scheme: (Reuters) - The North Carolina Republican political operative at the center of an absentee ballot fraud scheme that led the state to order a rerun of a congressional election was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice on Wednesday, officials said. The operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, was charged with three felony counts of obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiring to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of absentee ballots, according to court documents. Allegations that operatives working for Dowless illegally collected, and sometimes filled in, absentee ballots on behalf of Republican Mark Harris' campaign emerged shortly after the Nov. 6 election. They caused the state to hold off certifying Harris' apparent narrow victory over Democrat Dan McCready."

"The Far-Right Helped Create The World's Most Powerful Facial Recognition Technology: Clearview AI, which has alarmed privacy experts, hired several far-right employees, a HuffPost investigation found. [...] Even if you've never heard of Clearview, you likely have an online presence — maybe a friend or a relative has posted a photo of you to Facebook — which means you're probably in its database. Clearview's CEO and co-founder, Cam-Hoan Ton-That, and his associates chose to mass-violate social media policies against scraping accounts to build an image warehouse of unprecedented size, as several outlets have noted recently. What hasn't been reported, however, is even scarier: Exclusive documents obtained by HuffPost reveal that Ton-That, as well as several people who have done work for the company, have deep, longstanding ties to far-right extremists. Some members of this alt-right cabal went on to work for Ton-That."

The Financial Times practically endorsed Bernie without mentioning his name in "Virus lays bare the frailty of the social contract [...] Radical reforms — reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades — will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public services as investments rather than liabilities, and look for ways to make labour markets less insecure. Redistribution will again be on the agenda; the privileges of the elderly and wealthy in question. Policies until recently considered eccentric, such as basic income and wealth taxes, will have to be in the mix."

"It's Time for Democrats to Go Big—Really Big [...] The worst-kept secret in Washington is that there is plenty of money to help working people. All we need is the political will to deliver it to them. Whatever this bill costs, the price of failing to meet this moment will be larger in every respect, from human suffering to the long-term economic costs of cratering consumer demand in an economy reliant on it, than the up-front cost of relief." Yes, we need — and can afford — those FDR policies that Bernie has been talking about. But this article fails at the end by saying Democrats must level with the public about how we got here. The trouble is that they can't, because they have been part of the problem. Sure, Trump's particular response in this particular moment has been not merely atrocious but criminal, but the thing is, even if Hillary Clinton had won, we would still be unprepared for a disaster like this, and it was Democrats who truly led the way.

Jon Schwarz, "The Democratic Party Must Harness the Legitimate Rage of Americans. Otherwise, the Right Will Use It With Horrifying Results.: THE POLITICAL POSSIBILITIES of this moment are different than anything we have ever experienced. We possess a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the United States a more humane country. But if we fail to seize it, we will face mortal danger from the right. That's not hyperbole. The anger of Americans, once they figure out what's being done to them right now, is going to be volcanic. The fallout from 9/11 and the great recession of 2007-2010 will be imperceptible in comparison. Not long from now, almost everyone will have a family member or friend who died of Covid-19, many of them suffocating in isolation wards with insufficient treatment, perhaps deprived of a ventilator that would have saved their lives. Huge swaths of the country are plummeting into desperate penury, even as they witness large corporations unlock the U.S. Treasury and help themselves to everything inside. [...] What we know from history is that someone always shows up to harvest this level of ambient rage — but it can go in two directions. If people can be made 'angry at the crime,' as Steinbeck wrote, there can be huge positive political changes. During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt and unions organized the anger and used it to create the New Deal and the largest middle class in history. In unluckier countries, like Germany, Italy and Japan, the political left failed. The fury was organized by fascists, and directed at innocents."

Mindy Isser in Jacobin, "Workers Are More Valuable Than CEOs: The coronavirus pandemic has revealed a simple fact: it's low-wage workers that make our society run — not bankers, landlords, or CEOs. [...] But what does it say about our country when the jobs that are most critical to sustaining life at its basic level are also some of the lowest paid and least valued? Grocery store workers and first responders are exposing themselves to a massive health crisis in order to keep the rest of us functioning as normally as possible. Many of them work for minimum wage or close to it — and without health benefits — meaning that they could contract coronavirus and get stuck with either a massive bill or no health care at all. Meanwhile, with many school districts closed indefinitely, parents are missing the critical and challenging work done every day by nannies, childcare workers, and educators of all kinds. These workers have a right to higher wages, full benefits, health and safety guarantees, and strong unions — just like every other worker."

"What Everyone's Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage" — If everyone is home, they aren't using toilet paper at work, in restaurants, wherever. They are using it at home, and it's not even the same kind of toilet paper. The shelves are emptying because people actually need more consumer toilet paper rather than the crummy industrial stuff you find in giant rolls in restaurants or at work.

"Reality Has Endorsed Bernie Sanders [...] Thus far, the Trump Administration has predictably bungled the response to the coronavirus. But the Democratic Party's response has been hampered by its shared hostility to unleashing the power of the state, through the advance of vast universal programs, to attend to an unprecedented, devolving catastrophe. About half of American workers receive health insurance through their employer. As job losses mount, millions of workers will lose their insurance while the public-health crisis surges. In the last Democratic debate, former Vice-President Joe Biden insisted that the U.S. doesn't need single-payer health care because the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy proved that it doesn't work. Strangely, he simultaneously insisted that all testing and treatment of the virus should be free because we are in crisis. This insistence that health care should only be free in an emergency reveals a profound ignorance about the ways that preventive medicine can mitigate the harshest effects of an acute infection. By mid-February, a Chinese government study of that country's coronavirus-related deaths found that those with preëxisting conditions accounted for at least a third of all covid-19 fatalities."

"76 Percent Of Democrats Say They'd Vote For A Socialist For President, New Poll Shows: Just over three-quarters of Democratic voters said that they would vote to elect a socialist president, according to poll results from Gallup released Tuesday. The poll, conducted between January 16 and 29, asked respondents whether they identified as Republican, Democrat or independent and questioned them about their willingness to vote for candidates with "diverse characteristics." "Between now and the 2020 political conventions, there will be discussion about the qualifications of presidential candidates—their education, age, religion, race and so on," read the poll question, according to Gallup. "If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person for president who happened to be [characteristic], would you vote for that person?" When it came to candidates who were socialists, Democrats were most likely to answer that they would vote for them. Seventy-six percent of Democrats said they would back a socialist candidate, compared with 17 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of independents."

"Adolph Reed Jr.: Here They Come Again-The Kind of Neoliberal Democrats Who Prefer Trump to Sanders: I wrote the essay in disgust after Bill Clinton concluded his and other New Democrats' deal with the devil by signing the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act—welfare reform—that ended the federal government's sixty-year commitment to direct income provision for the indigent. That emphatically punctuated Clinton's bulldozing of the left in Democratic politics and ushered in the bipartisan neoliberal regime under which we've lived ever since. Welfare 'deform,' as many characterized it at the time, was a culmination of the year that began with Clinton using his State of the Union address to declare that 'The era of big government is over.' As New Labour neoliberal Tony Blair was, by her own account, Margaret Thatcher's greatest achievement, Bill Clinton consolidated Reaganism as hegemonic in American politics, defined the neoliberal regime of upward redistribution and repression of the poor as the unchallengeable horizon of political aspiration. The essay comes to mind at this moment because so many liberal Democrats now in their dismissals and attacks regarding Bernie Sanders' campaign for the party's presidential nomination seem to be rehearsing the kind of smug, self-righteous, and backward arguments they made then about why it was necessary to sacrifice poor people—ultimately variants of a contention that commitment to egalitarian principles is naïve."

More reasons why anyone who advocates for anything like a "public-private partnership" should be shunned and driven out of town, "Taxpayers Paid Millions To Design A Low-Cost Ventilator For A Pandemic," but for some reason we just don't have them. "Five years ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tried to plug a crucial hole in its preparations for a global pandemic, signing a $13.8 million contract with a Pennsylvania manufacturer to create a low-cost, portable, easy-to-use ventilator that could be stockpiled for emergencies. This past September, with the design of the new Trilogy Evo Universal finally cleared by the Food and Drug Administration, HHS ordered 10,000 of the ventilators for the Strategic National Stockpile at a cost of $3,280 each. But as the pandemic continues to spread across the globe, there is still not a single Trilogy Evo Universal in the stockpile. Instead, last summer, soon after the FDA's approval, the Pennsylvania company that designed the device — a subsidiary of the Dutch appliance and technology giant Royal Philips N.V. — began selling two higher-priced commercial versions of the same ventilator around the world. [...] 'That's the problem of leaving any kind of disaster preparedness up to the market and market forces — it will never work,' said Dr. John Hick, an emergency medicine specialist in Minnesota who has advised HHS on pandemic preparedness since 2002. 'The market is not going to give priority to a relatively no-frills but dependable ventilator that's not expensive.'"

"If you imagine that a local business making surgical face masks is working 24/7, guess again: An owner at the North Texas plant is frustrated that his dire warnings went unheeded. [...] The story of Bowen's unhappiness is a cautionary tale about what can happen if Americans searching for cheaper prices send entire industries offshore to countries like Mexico and China. Everything Bowen has warned about has come true. He warned that allowing another country to serve as our main supplier of personal protection equipment has the potential to become a national security nightmare."

"Gavin Newsom Declares California a 'Nation-State': The state is at odds with the federal government over coronavirus plans and much else. California this week declared its independence from the federal government's feeble efforts to fight Covid-19 — and perhaps from a bit more. The consequences for the fight against the pandemic are almost certainly positive. The implications for the brewing civil war between Trumpism and America's budding 21st-century majority, embodied by California's multiracial liberal electorate, are less clear. Speaking on MSNBC, Governor Gavin Newsom said that he would use the bulk purchasing power of California 'as a nation-state' to acquire the hospital supplies that the federal government has failed to provide. If all goes according to plan, Newsom said, California might even 'export some of those supplies to states in need.'"

"Man In Center Of Political Spectrum Under Impression He Less Obnoxious: MT. VERNON, OH—Loudly explaining to anyone within earshot that both the left and right were ruining the level of discourse in this country, Jesse Levin, a man firmly in the center of the political spectrum, is under the impression that he is less obnoxious than those with more partisan viewpoints, sources reported Friday. 'We're never going to get anywhere in this country if you lunatics keep foaming at the mouth about some one-sided fantasyland,' said Levin, 32, who despite characterizing those who do not stand precisely equidistant between two ideological extremes as 'raving fanatics' and repeatedly interrupting people before they can fully explain their 'nutjob' beliefs, reportedly seems to think he is, in fact, much more civil. 'If you idiots stopped throwing temper tantrums every time some little thing doesn't pass your precious purity test and came back down to the real, complicated world with the rest of us, we'd all be a lot better off.' At press time, Levin was butting in on a lively social media debate to tell two total strangers that they were 'everything that's wrong with this country.'"

Matt Taibbi is developing an independent media site. "Announcement to Readers: I'm Moving: Substack is now my full-time job." Matt says he wants to do a lot more actual reporting and get outside of the current media tendency toward reporting from partisan points of view. He wants to go back to covering financial reports as well as campaign coverage that steps away from the ordained narratives of mass media. It will be interesting to see if he can make it work.

"Bill Gates's Philanthropic Giving Is a Racket: Bill Gates recently resigned from the board of Microsoft to focus full time on philanthropy. It's a perfect time to remember: billionaire-funded philanthropy is a public-relations scam. [...] But Bill Gates and his foundation are the perfect picture of why this model of billionaire philanthropy is so flawed. Gates's foundation was originally cooked up as a feel-good gloss to cover up his shredded reputation during Microsoft's antitrust trial, putting him in the long tradition of obscenely rich people using the occasional generous gift to try justifying their enormous wealth and power. [...] The business press has observed how 'Twenty years ago, people associated the name Gates with 'ruthless, predatory' monopolistic conduct.' However, 'after taking a public relations beating during [the Microsoft antitrust] trial's early going in late 1998, the company started what was described at the time as a 'charm offensive' aimed at improving its image .?.?. Mr. Gates contributed $20.3 billion, or 71 percent of his total contributions to the foundation .?.?. during the 18 months between the start of the trial and the verdict.' A wealth manager frankly states, 'his philanthropy has helped 'rebrand' his name.' Indeed, philanthropy by the very richest men and women globally is one of the main arguments their defenders have — sure, Gates and other billionaires make a lot of money, but then they use it to help us. So generous! And look, he's smarter than our racist TV president! But often it's a fig leaf for ruling-class dominance."

Glennzilla: "Nonvoters Are Not Privileged. They Are Disproportionately Lower-Income, Non-White and Dissatisfied With The Two Parties.: NOT EVEN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS have elapsed since Bernie Sanders announced that he was suspending his presidential run, and already a shaming campaign has been launched against those who are contemplating abstaining from voting due to dissatisfaction with the two major-party candidates. The premise invoked for this tactic is that only those who are sufficiently 'privileged' have the luxury of choosing not to vote — meaning that nonvoters are rich and white and thus largely immune from the harmful consequences of a Trump presidency, which largely fall on the backs of poorer and non-white Americans."

"Elite Media Dismiss Voter Suppression on Grounds That It's 'Complicated': Some voters—disproportionately black and brown ones—waited in line for several hours on Super Tuesday to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary, and media paid attention. But their love for a good visual doesn't always correspond with a love for connecting the dots, and so most of the coverage downplayed any suggestion that there might be voter suppression going on in 2020."

Ian Welsh, "It's Biden's World [...] Joe Biden was there every step of the way, creating a world in which young people live in poverty, poor black (and white) men are in prison, and in which the rich get richer and everyone else scrambles to even keep up. By any rational consideration, Biden is a bad man. Evil, even. Let us move briefly to Sanders. Bernie's key planks were Medicare-for-all and student debt forgiveness, with a large climate change plan. There are now great cries that Sanders supporters should support and vote for Biden. People supported Sanders so ferociously because his policies meant they could actually have health care they could use (Medicare-for-all) and might be able to not spend decades in debt, and thus start families and maybe even own a home. In other words, Sanders policies would make them more likely to NOT DIE and to be able to live a decent life. Biden's policies do not do that. Period. So when you see upset Sanders supporters, understand that they're angry that people who voted Biden don't seem to care if they die or live in poverty."

RIP: "Bill Withers, influential soul singer behind Ain't No Sunshine, dies aged 81: Bill Withers, the influential US soul singer who wrote Lean on Me, Ain't No Sunshine and Lovely Day has died aged 81 of heart complications, according to a statement from his family. Withers wrote and recorded several other major hits including Use Me and Just the Two of Us, before retiring in the mid-1980s and staying out of the public eye." And here's a nice live version of "Lean on Me" with Stevie Wonder and John Legend.

RIP: "John Prine, One of America's Greatest Songwriters, Dead at 73: Grammy-winning singer who combined literary genius with a common touch succumbs to coronavirus complications."

"Jane McAlevey: We Desperately Need a Mass Strike Against the Billionaire Class [...] If it's Trump, it's war. Any union left having a residual concern about what it means to strike if Trump becomes the president again needs to be taken out to the woodshed. He's already taken us back to the 1960s in terms of the progress we've made. There's going to be nothing left of the country if unions don't unleash the biggest firepower in the history of the universe against a second Trump administration. If it's Biden, unions would have to fight like hell to get anything."

Historical document from 2018"The Egregious Lie Americans Tell Themselves [...] There's a verbal tic particular to a certain kind of response to a certain kind of story about the thinness and desperation of American society; about the person who died of preventable illness or the Kickstarter campaign to help another who can't afford cancer treatment even with 'good' insurance; about the plight of the homeless or the lack of resources for the rural poor; about underpaid teachers spending thousands of dollars of their own money for the most basic classroom supplies; about train derailments, the ruination of the New York subway system and the decrepit states of our airports and ports of entry. 'I can't believe in the richest country in the world. ...' This is the expression of incredulity and dismay that precedes some story about the fundamental impoverishment of American life, the fact that the lived, built geography of existence here is so frequently wanting, that the most basic social amenities are at once grossly overpriced and terribly underwhelming, that normal people (most especially the poor and working class) must navigate labyrinths of bureaucracy for the simplest public services, about our extraordinary social and political paralysis in the face of problems whose solutions seem to any reasonable person self-evident and relatively straightforward."

Time for one of my favorite quotes from Tony Benn, "Every generation must fight the same battles again and again and again.."

Historical document from 2017, "Forclosed: Destruction of Black Wealth During the Obama Presidency" by Ryan Cooper & Matt Bruenig.

Before 2016, I only ever saw articles like this one about Republican candidates, because it was a Republican dirty trick.

Viral art: "Street Artists Take On Coronavirus Pandemic With Powerful, Poignant And Witty Pieces

Sandford police Dalek keeps people in their homes

"Town Hall Live! From the Archives: Legendary Ladies of the Screen - Bette Davis (2/11/73)"

I accidentally clicked on this picture and it took me a minute to realize I recognized those faces. The odd thing was who I recognized first.

James Mcmurtry, "We Can't Make It Here Anymore"


  1. Lowering it to 60? As a trade-off for Medicare for All? And this is his charm offensive to Sanders supporters? Is this a joke?

    The proposal does three things for Biden. First, as Tim Faust points out, it helps insurers ditch those undesirable customers aged 60-64 who use more health services and eat into their profits. Second it tells Biden donors: "If you guys were worried I might move even slightly left to win over the Sanders crowd, rest easy! I'm only going to shift further right from here!" And third it is a deliberate calculated insult designed to piss us off and drive us away from the Democratic Party so they can get on with the job of catering to their base without having to make token efforts at placating the left. "We tried, you saw it, we made them a good offer and they just stormed off in a huff, you can't win with those purity bros!"

    1. I know - it's just an obvious gift to the insurance companies and a slice of his elderly supporters that it's an out and out spit in the eye of everyone else. But nobody is supposed to care, since getting rid of Trump isn't just everything, it's the only thing.