Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Though we really did try to make it

People were surprised by the first two rulings out of the current Supreme Court session. Right-wingers hate them, the rest of us are relieved, but many of us are wondering how these same opinions will later be used as foundations for some pretty terrifying right-wing rulings: But for the moment, we are generally seeing them as a good thing.

"US Supreme court rules employers cannot discriminate against LGBTQ+ workers: Court rules 1964 civil rights law bars employers from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation or transgender status. [...] 'Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids,' justice Neil Gorsuch wrote."

"US Supreme Court rules against Trump in 'capricious' DACA case: Court ruling allows 650,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children to remain and work. The US Supreme Court dealt US President Donald Trump a major setback on his hardline immigration policies, ruling against his bid to end a programme that protects from deportation 650,000 immigrants, dubbed "Dreamers", who entered the United States as children without documentation. The justices on Thursday upheld lower court rulings that found Trump's 2017 move to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme, created in 2012 by his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, was unlawful."

"Corporations Are Bankrolling US Police Foundations Without Public Oversight: As calls to defund the police gain traction, bloated police budgets are coming under scrutiny for siphoning public resources away from Black and Brown communities. While police budgets are typically public documents that must be approved by elected officials, there are other institutions in place with the sole purpose of funneling even more resources toward law enforcement. Police foundations across the country are partnering with corporations to raise money to supplement police budgets by funding programs and purchasing tech and weaponry for law enforcement with little public oversight. Annual fundraising events and parties like the St. Paul Police Foundation's 'Blue Nite Gala' and the Chicago Police Foundation's 'True Blue' event are huge moneymakers. The NYC Police Foundation reported that it raised $5.5 million from its annual benefit in 2019. If police departments already have massive budgets — averaging 20% to 45% of a municipal budget — why do these organizations exist? Police foundations offer a few unique benefits to law enforcement.

"Unsanitized: The Federal Reserve Can End the State Fiscal Crisis Today: With Congress inert, the Fed can solve the economy's biggest looming threat. This is The COVID-19 Daily Report for June 12, 2020.. [...] The MLF is a $500 billion fund. Under the self-imposed rules of the emergency credit facilities (governed by Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act), the $454 billion stake from Treasury authorized by the CARES Act must absorb losses from the loans they make. So they could shut down the other credit facilities entirely and tweak the MLF, eliminating the interest rate and making principal payments optional or extending the maturities to 200 years or some other function that makes them effectively grants, with Treasury eating the losses. In other words, the $500 billion that the National Governors Association wants is mostly available, from the Fed, and all it would take is a simple announcement to distribute it." But you know what's really going to happen."

Pareene, "Abolish These Police Departments: Minneapolis's police force has forfeited its right to exist. So have other cities'. [...] Before telling activists and protesters to abandon radical slogans for more targeted reforms, consider that Minneapolis has already tried a number of reforms—it has reached for nearly every piece of low-hanging fruit. It would be great if police departments could more easily fire bad officers, and other police departments could not hire them. But the Minneapolis Police Department couldn't even implement a plan to identify problem officers. Any attempt to do so—to identify problem officers and then fire them—would require an entirely different police culture. It would require, in other words, dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department. Of course, if you come to believe that, because of its unique history and resistance to previous reform efforts, the Minneapolis Police Department has forfeited its right to exist, it is difficult not to apply the same logic to nearly every other urban police department in the nation. Chicago needs public safety; does it need the police department responsible for murdering Laquan McDonald and detaining thousands of people in the Homan Square black site? People who argue that Baltimore needs more and better policing should explain why that policing ought to come from the irredeemable Baltimore Police Department, one of the most fundamentally rotten and corrupt institutions in the country. Public figures have debated what to do about Baltimore's horrific homicide rates for years. The criminal mob that has been wreaking havoc there, while also not preventing or solving very many of those murders has, I think, lost the right to participate in that debate. If the reasons to disband these particular urban police departments are all quite similar, maybe the problem with policing in this country is the way that we have built the modern urban police department. Maybe the problem is the way we conceive of policing. Maybe the problem is the police."

Handy advice from Teen Vogue: "Tear Gas and Pepper Spray: What to Do if You're Exposed: Whether it's tear gas or pepper spray, find out what to do if you're exposed."

Help from Vox, "How to fight an outrageous medical bill, explained: Five patients tell us how they pushed back — and won."

A lot of these warmongering conservative Democrats just don't seem to get that "democracy" thing: New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel on Sunday scolded firebrand lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for backing his progressive primary challenger — going so far as to accuse her of acting like a dictator." Endorsing conservadems is just fine, but endorsing progressives is "a dictatorship".

"Beltway Dems Are Trying To Prevent A Progressive Senate: Party leaders are desperately trying to buy the Colorado Senate primary for a scandal-plagued opponent of Medicare for All and a Green New Deal. [...] For years, Democratic party leaders have publicly insisted they follow a 'just win, baby' playbook that leads them to support any candidate -- liberal or moderate -- best positioned to win GOP seats. But activists have come to suspect that, in fact, party leaders are actually willing to prioritize crushing progressive candidates, even if that might risk losing general elections to Republicans. Democratic leaders' heavy-handed behavior in Colorado seems to confirm those suspicions -- and it could now jeopardize the entire effort to take back Congress from Donald Trump's party."

"Football Leaks' Rui Pinto in prison with hard-drive passwords in his head: Website provided evidence that led to Manchester City's ban but Pinto has more information and 'authorities are afraid' Lisbon's Judiciary Police prison is situated just down the road from Eduardo VII Park, one of the Portuguese capital's most popular tourist attractions that is famed for its spectacular views of the city and the River Tagus. With only around 25 tiny cells and based in the depths of the giant white building which is the headquarters of the country's antiterrorist and serious crime authorities, the high-security facility is usually reserved for only the most dangerous criminals. For almost the past year, however, it has also been home to Rui Pinto. The 31-year-old, who created the Football Leaks website which provided some of the evidence that led to Manchester City's Champions League ban and numerous other investigations into tax evasion and corruption in football and beyond, is still awaiting trial for alleged extortion, violation of secrecy and illegally accessing information despite being extradited to his homeland from Hungary in March 2019. Last week, his lawyers filed a complaint to the European Commission over inconsistencies in the original arrest warrant that accused Pinto of only six offences before that was increased to 147 while he was in custody."

"The Great Seed Piracy: A great seed and biodiversity piracy is underway and it must be stopped. The privateers of today include not just the corporations — which are becoming fewer and larger through mergers — but also individuals like Bill Gates, the 'richest man in the world'. When the Green Revolution was pushed in India and Mexico, farmers' seeds were 'rounded-up' and locked in international institutions, which used these seeds to breed green revolution varieties which responded to chemical inputs. The first two institutions were the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico. These institutes took diversity from farmers' fields and replaced the diversity with chemical monocultures of rice, wheat and corn."

"Racism and the Working Class: When I tell other middle-class professionals who don't know me well that I'm writing a book about working-class culture, it's amazing how often they respond approvingly that 'white racism' is an important subject. My reaction, depending on the circumstance, ranges from embarrassment to rage. It's frustrating that 'working class' reads as all white to so many people who should know better. And it pisses me off that so many educated people assume that the white part of the working class is either uniformly racist and/or that racism is the most distinctive part of their culture. And it often seems there is a background assumption that little or no racism exists among the educated middle class, that all white racism is contained within the working class."

When you think about how hard (and effectively) the United States government has worked to prevent or destroy democracy in the rest of the world, it's hard to believe they wouldn't stop it at all costs in America, too. "The Jakarta Method: Washington's Anticommunist Crusade w/ Vincent Bevins - MR Live - 6/9/20. [...] Bevins shares the untold story of the US's role in promoting slaughter across Indonesia in the name of securing western capitalist."

"In 1918, there was an anti-mask league in San Francisco: In 1918, there was an anti-mask league in San Francisco, which objected to wearing masks to prevent the spread of influenza. They held meetings of thousands of maskless people. San Francisco was ultimately was one of the cities that suffered most from the Spanish Influenza pandemic."

It's one thing when Republicans call you a conspiracy theorist for suspecting them of cheating, but it's another thing when Democrats agree with them. How did that happen? The voting machines are still suspicious, and so are the outcomes of elections. If you can't do a full manual recount and you can't audit, you should assume someone is rigging elections. "There's No Way to Know If ANY U.S. Elections Are Legitimate." (Full show: "Jennifer Cohn talks to Nomiki - Our Democracy Is Eroding.")

Touré Reed is giving interviews for his new book. "The Pitfalls of Liberal Antiracism and Woke Neoliberalism: "Tonight we're speaking with Professor of history at Illinois State University, Touré Reed, about the political implications of seeing racial identities, separated from material relationships, as the engine of American history. Instead, he spells out why the road to a more just society for African Americans broadly is inextricably linked to that of poor and working-class Americans and coalitions built around their material needs." He makes the important point that, contrary to claims of neoliberal identitarians, the New Deal did a lot for black America. And universal programs usually do.

"Adolph Reed, Cedric Johnson, Willie Legette & Michael Brooks 'Bernie, South Carolina & Black Voters'" — Personally, I found this most gratifying to watch because it horrified me to watch otherwise smart people constantly putting pressure on Sanders about being more race-centered, something he did well to avoid in 2015-16 but succumbed to by 2019-20,sadly.

"Antiracism Campaigns: Twenty Years of Making Racism Worse: Studies over twenty years come to the same conclusion: Antiracism fails because it reduces complex problems to race, which strengthens the idea that race matters enormously."

"The Pitfalls of Liberal Antiracism and Woke Neoliberalism (Stay At Home #12) Tonight we're speaking with Professor of history at Illinois State University, Touré Reed, about the political implications of seeing racial identities, separated from material relationships, as the engine of American history. Instead, he spells out why the road to a more just society for African Americans broadly is inextricably linked to that of poor and working-class Americans and coalitions built around their material needs. His latest book out from Verso is titled Toward Freedom: The Case Against Race Reductionism."

Republicans are certainly a big part of the problem, but there's still the other part: [...] When it comes to the problems with policing in this country, Democrats seem fundamentally unable to conceive of themselves as a big part of the problem. At best there is an argument about the Republicans being worse — which is true, and is almost universally true — that is used to deflect criticism. It is necessary to face up to the reality that many of the places with the worst problems with police violence are, and have been, controlled by Democrats at the local level for a long time. If you look at protesters and don't understand why they burn property rather than channel their anger into voting, the very obvious answer is that there is no imaginary future in which voting for Joe Biden and whoever they just elected Mayor will actually solve the problem. Republicans offer pure authoritarianism — they actively *encourage* police to be brutal — while Democrats have done nothing to stop them, or in many cases abetted them."

Taibbi, "The American Press Is Destroying Itself: A flurry of newsroom revolts has transformed the American press. [...] The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation. They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily. They've conned organization after organization into empowering panels to search out thoughtcrime, and it's established now that anything can be an offense, from a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King's 'Letter from a Birmingham Jail' out loud to a data scientist fired* from a research firm for — get this — retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones! Now, this madness is coming for journalism. Beginning on Friday, June 5th, a series of controversies rocked the media. By my count, at least eight news organizations dealt with internal uprisings (it was likely more). Most involved groups of reporters and staffers demanding the firing or reprimand of colleagues who'd made politically 'problematic' editorial or social media decisions." There's been other crazy stuff he doesn't mention here, but I actually think James Bennet should have lost his seat at the NYT because he didn't do his job, which is to read stuff before publishing it.

"RAY McGOVERN: How an Internet 'Persona' Helped Birth Russiagate: Guccifer 2.0 turns four years old today and the great diversion he took part in becomes clearer by the day, writes Ray McGovern. Four years ago today, on June 15, 2016, a shadowy Internet persona calling itself 'Guccifer 2.0' appeared out of nowhere to claim credit for hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee on behalf of WikiLeaks and implicate Russia by dropping 'telltale' but synthetically produced Russian 'breadcrumbs' in his metadata. Thanks largely to the corporate media, the highly damaging story actually found in those DNC emails — namely, that the DNC had stacked the cards against Bernie Sanders in the party's 2016 primary— was successfully obscured. The media was the message; and the message was that Russia had used G-2.0 to hack into the DNC, interfering in the November 2016 election to help Donald Trump win. [...] Adding to other signs of fakery, there is hard evidence that G-2.0 was operating mostly in U.S. time zones and with local settings peculiar to a device configured for use within the U.S., as Tim Leonard reports here and here.) Leonard is a software developer who started to catalog and archive evidence related to Guccifer 2.0 in 2017 and has issued detailed reports on digital forensic discoveries made by various independent researchers — as well as his own — over the past three years. Leonard points out that WikiLeaks said it did not use any of the emails G2.0 sent it, though it later published similar emails, opening the possibility that whoever created G2.0 knew what WikiLeaks had and sent it duplicates with the Russian fingerprints. As Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) told President Trump in a memorandum of July 24, 2017, titled 'Was the 'Russian Hack' an Inside Job?': 'We do not think that the June 12, 14, & 15 timing was pure coincidence. Rather, it suggests the start of a pre-emptive move to associate Russia with anything WikiLeaks might have been ready to publish and to 'show' that it came from a Russian hack.' 'The recent forensic studies fill in a critical gap. Why the FBI neglected to perform any independent forensics on the original 'Guccifer 2.0' material remains a mystery — as does the lack of any sign that the 'hand-picked analysts' from the FBI, CIA, and NSA, who wrote the misnomered 'Intelligence Community' Assessment dated January 6, 2017, gave any attention to forensics.'"

"Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge: Exclusive: prehistoric structure spanning 1.2 miles in diameter is masterpiece of engineering, say archaeologists [...] Four thousand five hundred years ago, the Neolithic peoples who constructed Stonehenge, a masterpiece of engineering, also dug a series of shafts aligned to form a circle spanning 1.2 miles (2km) in diameter. The structure appears to have been a boundary guiding people to a sacred area because Durrington Walls, one of Britain's largest henge monuments, is located precisely at its centre. The site is 1.9 miles north-east of Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, near Amesbury, Wiltshire."

"Cycling Into London As Comic Shops (And Everything Else) Open Up: I took a socially distanced bicycle ride into London this morning. Today is the day that the UK government has decreed that non-essential shops are allowed to open across England, and that includes comic shops. Boris Johnson has read all his Tintin books three times over and was clearly in need of something new. So on my Boris bike, I whizzed in, filming as I went..." Lotsa photos and a video.

Boogaloo WTF?

RIP: "Ian Holm, Shakespearean actor in Lord of the Rings, Alien, Chariots of Fire, dies at 88: [...] His agent confirmed the death to the Guardian newspaper in England: 'It is with great sadness that the actor Sir Ian Holm CBE passed away this morning at the age of 88. He died peacefully in hospital, with his family and carer,' adding that his illness was Parkinson's related. 'Charming, kind and ferociously talented, we will miss him hugely.'"

RIP: "Dame Vera Lynn: Forces' Sweetheart dies aged 103" — BBC. "Singer known as the 'Forces Sweetheart' whose recordings of We'll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover shaped the national mood in wartime BritainGuardian

Some favorite commentary on the events of the day from Atrios:
* — "Seems Bad: Remember when the Bush administration fired US attorneys and most people in the press refused to believe it because it was too bad to imagine and now George Bush paints dogs so he is good. I bet you don't recall."
* — "Owning The LIbs: As with any policy, it's reasonable to ask just what the enforcement mechanism is. I don't think cops (especially our glorious boys in blue who don't personally seem interested in any kind of responsible behavior such as mask wearing) should be arresting people for not wearing masks. Even if there is precisely zero enforcement of any kind, simply having a rule means that many people will follow it. Most people are rule followers! Signal people should wear masks, and a lot of people will wear masks! Though conservatives arguing one minute that black people deserve to be murdered for not obeying even the mental commands of cops, and then screaming TYRANNY over the unlikely possibility a cop might tell them to wear a mask is, well, you know what it is. These people who aren't wearing masks specifically to OWN THE LIBS, the plague spreading version of rolling coal, are deeply fucked up individuals. Like most efforts to OWN THE LIBS it doesn't make us mad the way they think it does, because we actually aren't the triggered-by-stupid-shit snowflakes they imagine we are. It makes us a bit worried that people are going to die and the whole damn country is going to collapse into the hellmouth."
* — "Bold: Back the dark ages of the internet, even pre-blog time, there was a little online magazine called Slate, which over time got a reputation for "contrarian" thinking. They did do the "that thing you like is actually bad" kind of contrarian stuff, but mostly it was simply a rhetorical ploy, a way of presenting dominant mainstream positions as being rebellious." (There's more.)
* — "Why Won't The Protesters Take Advice From Me [...] It's clear by now that while there unsurprisingly has been some amount of opportunistic theft (looting is loaded word, also, too), the people escalating violent situations are the people tasked with preventing violence. Calls for "nonviolent protest" place the responsibility on the people who are almost entirely not responsible for any violence. Direct it at the people in power." (Do read the rest.)

"On the Groundbreaking Documentary That Brought the Birthplace of Chicago Blues Alive: It Wouldn't Have Been Possible Without 'Guitar King' Michael Bloomfield. [...] 'You gotta make a movie about Maxwell Street, Mike,' Bloomfield said. 'The hustlers, the pimps, those alte kaker businessmen, man, it's real street action. And the music! Blues, gospel, street corner shouters— it's all down there on Maxwell.'

"Make 'This Land is Your Land' the U. S. National Anthem.."

Mr. Sideshow has just stumbled upon a cache of old R. Crumb comics he forgot he had somewhere which included an issue of HUP with a six-page story from 1989 featuring the kidnapping and forced "interview" of "one of the most evil men alive, real estate tycoon Donald Trump!" (Cover)

"Mel Brooks: Why Blazing Saddles Is the 'Funniest Movie Ever Made'

David Malki's Wondermark is an entertaining comic strip.

Smashing socially-distanced performance by Steve Martin and the Philadelphia Orchestra of Martin's "Office Supplies"

Oh, wow, look at these beautiful redwoods in the snow

Audio of the 1978 WorldCon (Iguanacon) Fans to Pros panel with Terry Carr, Harlan Ellison, Richard Lupoff, Bob Silverberg,Ted White (pt.1), illustrated.

Eyeball in the sky: Halo of the Cat's Eye

Carole King & James Taylor, "It's Too Late" (Live at The Troubadour 2007)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

I hear the voice of rage and ruin

The Kirsi by Maria Susarenko is from this collection of seascapes. (More Susarenko here.)

"There, I Fixed It for You...: Corporate media headlines revised as though they were journalism."

Atrios calls this "The world's scariest graph".

"We Crunched the Numbers: Police — Not Protesters — Are Overwhelmingly Responsible for Attacking Journalists: WE ARE WITNESSING a truly unprecedented attack on press freedom in the United States, with journalists are being systematically targeted while covering the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. The scale of the attacks is so large, it can be hard to fathom. At the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a project of Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists, we catalogued 150 press freedom violations in the United States in all of 2019. We are currently investigating 280 from just the last week. The crisis has rightly generated international outrage. Some have pushed a narrative — fueled by commonly used phrases like 'journalists are being attacked by police and protesters alike' — that police and protesters are attacking journalists at relatively equal rates. Our data shows this is incorrect. Police are responsible for the vast majority of assaults on journalists: over 80 percent."

"Minneapolis SF Bookstore Burned, Another Vandalized: Two Minneapolis science fiction landmarks were caught up in the wave of vandalism that struck the city amid protests against the death of George Floyd. Don Blyly's Uncle Hugo's bookstore has been burned, and Greg Ketter's DreamHaven was broken into and damaged. Uncle Hugo's, in business since 1974, and neighboring mystery bookstore Uncle Edgar's since 1980 (also burned), are located near the corner of Lake and Chicago, Uncle Hugo's is the nation's oldest surviving sf bookstore." Damn. I think Uncle Hugo's is where we bought our copy of The Motion of Light in Water. Wendy at Dreamhaven posted an update on the clean-up. Here's a photo of what the storefront looks like now.
Greg Ketter was interviewed on local television.

"Who Will You Believe, de Blasio or Your Lying Eyes?: Bill de Blasio didn't have a good morning, and that's fair, because neither did I or anyone else in his city. When he showed up as usual for Brian Lehrer's weekly 'Ask The Mayor' segment, the venerable WNYC host asked him some thrilling questions. 'I think there is one dominant topic for you this week,' Lehrer said. 'It seems, from a lot of reporting, that the city has a problem of the protests against too much police violence being met with too much police violence, or heavy-handed police tactics. Do you accept the premise?' 'No,' the mayor said. People are deeply hurt, he added. There's anger. There's pain. There are problems in policing we all have to fix. But minus a few unfortunate incidents, he continued, 'the police have shown a lot of restraint.' Citing reality, Lehrer pushed back. Here's all the reporting, he told the mayor. But the mayor dug in. No, no, no. Not happening, not here."

"Nothing Is Certain But Death, Taxes, And Police Infiltration Of US Protests: A video has been circulating of a white man casually smashing the windows of a Minneapolis shop with a hammer during protests against the police murder of George Floyd. The man is clearly trying to hide his identity by wearing a gas mask, carrying a large umbrella, and wearing full-length black clothing. Protesters can be seen intervening to stop his destructive behavior in the video. 'Are you a fucking cop?' one asks."

Tucker Carlson goes all-in for the Irony Award: "Did you watch that? How many more nights like this can we take? How many more nights like this before no one in America will serve as a police officer? It's not worth it. The people in charge hate you. The job doesn't pay enough. At that point, who will enforce the laws? Who will be in charge? Well, violent young men with guns will be in charge. They will make the rules, including the rules in your neighborhood. They will do what they want. You will do what they say. No one will stop them. You will not want to live here when that happens." That's already happened, Tucker, that's why people are protesting!

"'All an act': Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, says she was paid by right-wing groups to publicly turn against abortion [...] But in what she describes in the documentary as her "deathbed confession," McCovey characterizes her antiabortion activism as "all an act," telling a number of friends — and the public — that she was paid to repeat antiabortion talking points, according to reviews of the documentary in The Daily Beast and the Los Angeles Times. When she's asked if the antiabortion evangelical movement used her "as a trophy" in their cause, she says, 'Of course. I was the big fish ... I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money, and they took me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say. That's what I'd say.' [...] The documentary makers found that McCorvey had been paid at least $456,911 worth of "benevolent gifts" by the antiabortion groups she affiliated herself with, The Daily Beast reported."

"The NYT Admits Key Falsehoods That Drove Last Year's Coup in Bolivia: Falsehoods Peddled by the U.S., its Media, and the NYT: IN NOVEMBER, 2019, Bolivia's three-term left-wing President, Evo Morales, was forced by the country's military and police forces to flee to Mexico after Morales, the prior month, had been officially certified as the winner of his fourth consecutive presidential election. It was unsurprising that Morales won. As the Associated Press noted in 2014, his governance was successful by almost every key metric, and he was thus 'widely popular at home for a pragmatic economic stewardship that spread Bolivia's natural gas and mineral wealth among the masses.' While Morales' popularity had marginally waned since his 2014 landslide victory, he was still the most popular politician in the country. On the night of the October 21, 2019, vote, Bolivia's election board certified that Morales' margin of victory against the second-place candidate exceeded the ten percent threshold required under Bolivian law to avoid a run-off, thus earning him a fourth term. But allegations of election fraud were quickly voiced by Morales' right-wing opponents, leading to his expulsion from the country on November 11."

Michael Brooks et al., "Bolivia's Coup Government Cancels Elections, What Happened To 'Restoring Democracy'?"

Not feeling too positive about her right now. "Stacey Abrams: Pragmatic Democrat in a Red State: Stacey Abrams is a proud ex-bureaucrat who also loves the novel Atlas Shrugged; she works with Republicans but sometimes frustrates her Democratic colleagues; she grew up on food stamps and co-founded a beverage company for children; she has worked as a tax attorney and written several romantic suspense novels on the side."

"Democrats are fueling a corporate counter-revolution against progressives: Democrats in Washington are not just passively failing to mount an opposition to Trump. They are actively helping Republicans. [...] This corporate counter-revolution is easiest to see in Democrats' enthusiastic support for Republicans' legislative response to the coronavirus crisis. Democrats' entire 2018 electoral campaign told America that the opposition party needed to win back Congress in order to block Trump's regressive agenda. And yet, when the Republicans proposed a bill to let Trump's appointees dole out government cash to their corporate allies with no strings attached, this same opposition party mustered not a single recorded vote against the package. Not one. Thanks to that, Trump appointees and the Federal Reserve can now hand out $4tn to politically connected corporations as they lay waste to our economy and steamroll progressive reforms. Private equity firms and fossil fuel companies get new tax breaks as they buy elections and try to lock in permanent climate change."

After publishing a shameful op-ed (with the excuse that he hadn't read it!), "James Bennet Resigns as Editor of The New York Times: The New York Times came under fire last week after publishing Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton's 'Send in the Troops' op-ed, a frighteningly fascist take on the George Floyd protests. Many readers and journalists at the Times were infuriated by the incendiary and downright dangerous screed, which lacked facts and credibility. In response, over 300 employees staged a virtual walkout, and every contributor of color tweeted the message that Cotton's article put their lives in danger." His replacement might even be good: "Katie Kingsbury was previously the managing editor at the Boston Globe. In 2015 she won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing for a series of articles that exposed the unfair working conditions facing restaurant workers."

"Coming Soon: Bipartisan Deficit Hawks Calling for Austerity: Right now, government money is flowing. But soon the self-appointed guardians of 'fiscal responsibility' will call for cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and SNAP, while leaving the defense budget and large tax breaks for the wealthy intact."

"43 Million Americans Are About to Lose Their Health Insurance Because of Our Employer-Based Health Care System: Opponents of Medicare for All have cast it as a political nonstarter since it would 'force people off their health insurance.' Now, as millions of laid-off workers lose their employer-provided insurance, the cynicism of that claim is being laid bare.

"Protestors Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First: MINNEAPOLIS—Calling for a more measured way to express opposition to police brutality, critics slammed demonstrators Thursday for recklessly looting businesses without forming a private equity firm first. 'Look, we all have the right to protest, but that doesn't mean you can just rush in and destroy any business without gathering a group of clandestine investors to purchase it at a severely reduced price and slowly bleed it to death,' said Facebook commenter Amy Mulrain, echoing the sentiments of detractors nationwide who blasted the demonstrators for not hiring a consultant group to take stock of a struggling company's assets before plundering. 'I understand that people are angry, but they shouldn't just endanger businesses without even a thought to enriching themselves through leveraged buyouts and across-the-board terminations. It's disgusting to put workers at risk by looting. You do it by chipping away at their health benefits and eventually laying them off. There's a right way and wrong way to do this.' At press time, critics recommended that protestors hold law enforcement accountable by simply purchasing the Minneapolis police department from taxpayers."

Atrios with a "Serious Question: I know some people get annoyed because I criticize the good guys a bit too much. Sometimes I have good explanations for their behavior even if I disagree. But Jared went around the country literally stealing PPE shipments, giving it to his friends, and letting them sell it for a big profit. I bet most of the country is not even aware of this. Why are they not on teevee, or even the twitter, talking about this constantly?"

"Toward Freedom: The Case Against Race Reductionism w/ Touré F. Reed - MR Live - 5/27/20"

RIP: "Larry Kramer, Normal Heart Playwright and AIDS Activist, Dies at 84: Best known for his devastating chronicle of the early days of the AIDS crisis, he also wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Women in Love. [...] Kramer died Wednesday morning in Manhattan of pneumonia, his husband, architect David Webster, told The New York Times."

RIP: "Singer Bonnie Pointer, of The Pointer Sisters fame, dies aged 69: Singer Bonnie Pointer, best known as a member of the Grammy-winning group The Pointer Sisters, has died at the age of 69, a representative has said. She died on Monday, according to her sister and fellow singer, Anita. No cause of death was revealed. In a statement to the PA news agency, Anita said: 'It is with great sadness that I have to announce to the fans of The Pointer Sisters that my sister, Bonnie died this morning.'"

"Tipping Point: Thomas Piketty's new history of global inequality [...] Capital and Ideology is a different kind of book. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer, it moves from an account of wealth accumulation in the most advanced economies over the last few centuries to a sprawling exploration of inequality worldwide going back to the Middle Ages. In the process, Piketty wades a few steps further into the forbidding waters of politics. Opening with a look at the feudal societies of the premodern era and surveying the development of capitalism and colonialism, he then turns to communism and the heyday of social democracy in a brief study of the post-World War II era before ending with a chapter that outlines a 'participatory socialism for the 21st century.' This was the same set of proposals that he defended against Lordon in January and has been championing in the French press since the book's release last September. In both its ambition and tone, Piketty's socialism is not all that different from the parliamentary socialism of the early 20th century, but it marks a considerable move left for someone whose first forays into politics fell firmly within the mainstream of France's Socialist Party, which by the 1990s had abandoned any pretense of breaking with capitalism. "

This is a long piece, I'm just pulling quotes out at random. "David Graeber on harmful jobs, odious debt, and fascists who believe in global warming [...] Capitalist evangelists always insisted the global financial system was the better, free market version of central planning: like a five year plan, in that it decides how resources will be allocated and invested to optimize future production, basically, to ensure that future people get what they want, to ensure long-term prosperity, happiness, well-being. No it doesn't. [...] I always find it slightly amusing that people always say 'oh my God, we can't get rid of the police, because if we get rid of police, everybody will just start killing each other!' Notice they never say 'I would start killing people.' 'Hmm, no police? I think I'll get a gun and shoot someone.' Everyone assumes someone else will. Actually as an anthropologist I know what happens when police disappear. I even lived in a place in rural Madagascar where the police had, effectively, disappeared some years before I arrived. It made almost no difference whatsoever. Well, property crime did increase, if people were very rich, they sometimes got pilfered. Murder if anything decreased. When police vanish in the middle of a big city, where property differences are much more extremely, burglary increases, definitely, but violent crime is entirely unaffected. But when it comes to organization — well, what we need to ask ourselves is why we think it's necessary to threaten to hit people over the head, or shoot them, or lock them in a dingy room for years, in order to maintain any form of organization. People who think that really don't have much faith in organization, do they?"

"Bernie Lost Because America Doesn't Have a Strong Labor Movement [...] The political Left does not need to be forever frustrated by the process of using campaign speeches to drag a skeptical or disinterested 18% of the public into enlightenment every four years. Elections are not the time to magically instill mass class consciousness; that has to be done between elections. And it will not be done by politicians, no matter how good they are. It can only be done by giving millions of people the firsthand experience of class consciousness in their own lives."

"You Don't Understand, Or You Do, And In Either Case We're All Dead [...] Look, this isn't a case where you can split the baby (AND THE FUCKING POINT OF THAT STORY IS THAT SOME COMPROMISES CAN'T BE MADE JESUS CHEESY FRIES CHRIST)."

This article is worth reading every word of. "Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop [...] Reading the above, you may be tempted to ask whether cops ever do anything good. And the answer is, sure, sometimes. In fact, most officers I worked with thought they were usually helping the helpless and protecting the safety of innocent people. [...] The question is this: did I need a gun and sweeping police powers to help the average person on the average night? The answer is no. When I was doing my best work as a cop, I was doing mediocre work as a therapist or a social worker. My good deeds were listening to people failed by the system and trying to unite them with any crumbs of resources the structure was currently denying them. [...] What I mainly provided was an 'objective' third party with the authority to document property damage, ask people to chill out or disperse, or counsel people not to beat each other up. A trained counselor or conflict resolution specialist would be ten times more effective than someone with a gun strapped to his hip wondering if anyone would try to kill him when he showed up. There are many models for community safety that can be explored if we get away from the idea that the only way to be safe is to have a man with a M4 rifle prowling your neighborhood ready at a moment's notice to write down your name and birthday after you've been robbed and beaten."

I'm going to link this article, which Biden deserves, even though if I were Joe Biden and some black interviewer asked me if I was going to nominate a black woman as VP and suggested I should do this because the black community would want something from me, I'd have to smack him and say, "Are you telling me that all the black community wants is a token?" Not that Joe Biden would even be able to say it, but seriously? You're talking to a guy whose legislation kept segregation in place, put a bullseye on every young black male who walked down the street, put an extraordinary number of them in prison, made it impossible for them to discharge their debts, and increased the likelihood that their homes would be foreclosed on, and you're telling him that what the black community wants from him is just a token black woman? Really, slap him with a fish. But anyway, "Black Americans are in an abusive relationship with the Democratic party: An offensive comment by the Democratic presidential candidate is a reminder that black people — all people — deserve better than Joe Biden. I am very tired of Joe Biden. My vote for him was already hanging by a thread before his disastrous interview with Charlamagne tha God on Friday. Interrupting the Breakfast Club host's explanation that black people needed assurances that our communities will benefit from his presidency, Biden asserted: 'If you've got a problem figuring out whether you're for me or for Trump, then you ain't black.' Again, I am very tired of Joe Biden. Not because I am a purist, or have inflexible ideological commitments of what it will take to remove Donald Trump from office. But rather because Biden's condescension towards black communities is intolerable." Yes, Biden shouldn't have said it, but really, this is Joe Biden, and even if it weren't, if nominating Stacey or Kamala is all Charlamagne thinks black people need, he is out of his tiny little mind. Do we need to remind people that they had a whole black president and that guy let the banks wipe out black middle-class wealth? Jeez, get a clue, man.

"Touchscreen Voting Machines And The Vanishing Black Votes: Votes from predominantly black precincts have mysteriously vanished from touchscreen voting machines in both Tennessee and Georgia in recent elections. Georgia replaced the touchscreen system it had been using since 2002 with yet another controversial touchscreen system, rejecting the advice of most election security experts, who note that hand-marked paper ballots are less vulnerable to both tampering and error. A political battle is now raging in Shelby County — Tennessee's most populous county — over whether it will follow in Georgia's footsteps or switch to hand-marked paper ballots for the general election in November."

I'm pretty sure I must have linked this at the time, but worth remembering why we don't see the same kind of investigative reporting on the corporatocracy as we do of government. Mark Ames, "Seymour Hersh and the dangers of corporate muckraking," from five years ago.

"There's Nothing Good About Phyllis Schlafly: Mrs. America, the new miniseries about Phyllis Schlafly, doesn't want us to come away with a harsh view of its subject. But we should: Schlafly's right-wing views were consistently monstrous, doing untold damage to the country."

Woody Allen had a new movie out that in the rest of the world was very successful, but it has no American distributor. He's giving interviews. "'Do I really care?' Woody Allen comes out fighting: The 1992 accusation that the film-maker sexually assaulted his young daughter has made him a pariah, yet he was never charged. In this exclusive interview, he explains why he is done with treading carefully. [...] 'It doesn't pay to sue. Do I really want to be tabloid fodder for two years and go to court? And do I really care?' he says. Given that he lays out the allegation and ensuing drama in searing detail in his memoir, I would wager he cares quite a lot these days." Anyone who is really interested in the details should watch By the Way, Woody Allen Is Innocent, a feature-length (longish) documentary that I think makes a convincing case for its title. It's got a lot of interesting points but honestly, it just confirmed what I've felt all along from what I'd seen.

Eleven years ago, Bill Moyers sat down with Harvey J. Kaye and Richard Brookhiser to talk about Thomas Paine, on the 200th anniversary of his death. "Paine's extraordinary life was both glorious and tragic. He was not revered as some of our other founding fathers — and during his lifetime he was often feared and lampooned — and under threat of prison and even death. Harvey J. Kaye, who recently told his story in Thomas Paine and The Promise Of America, notes that Paine has again become currency in political debate because of a revolutionary idea that spread from the colonies to France and around the globe: 'That the common people...that Americans could be citizens and not merely subjects. That people had it within themselves not only to listen to their superiors, but literally to speak to each other and deliberate and govern themselves.'"

I hadn't realized Trina Robbins was that much older than me (and she sure looks different in that photo since the last time I saw her), but there's a nice little profile in a non-genre publication, San Francisco Senior Beat, "'I'll show them:' After a career challenging sexism, pioneer and icon of underground comix for 'wimmin' fends off ageism."

Seriously zoomed-in photo of Orion over Argentine Mountains.

Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Bad Moon Rising"