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"

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