Thursday, July 9, 2020

It's always the living that are haunting my nights

The Onion, "Nancy Pelosi Calls Jamaal Bowman To Scold Him For Winning Primary: WASHINGTON—Following the progressive challenger's victory over 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi phoned Jamaal Bowman to scold him for winning his primary race, sources confirmed Wednesday. 'I just wanted to call and personally reprimand you for your victory,' said Pelosi, extending her sincerest indignation to the former Bronx middle school educator, who is expected to easily win the general election in his heavily Democratic congressional district. 'I understand there are some mail-in ballots that still need to be counted, but it appears you won big last night and energized a lot of first-time voters and young people we absolutely did not want voting in this primary. So allow me to extend my sincerest fuck-you for everything you've done. Obviously, we're going to be working together soon, so I look forward to crushing you the first chance I get.' Pelosi added that when things became official in November, she would call again to express how frustrated she was to welcome Bowman to Congress."

Photo: Heroic MA Senator protects his constituents: "This is my favorite photo of Senator Ed Markey. He's the guy in the middle of the photo in the dorky shirt. This United States Senator showed up at the #SayHerName BLM protest in Boston yesterday to bear witness and be an ally. See how he's standing alone, listening respectfully to the speakers? He did that *the entire event*. Markey did not take a mic. He only spoke to reporters when they approached him. He did not have an entourage. None of the marshals were assigned to keep an eye on him. He just showed up, took a knee, and marched behind the POC who organized the event. What he did do, was use his presence to keep the people at that event safe. You better believe Boston Police knew a United States Senator was walking in the noisy, unruly mob that was our protest yesterday. And not one cop hassled us. Not one White Supremist made a run at us. Markey quietly used his presence to protect his constituents. And THAT, ladies and gentlemen is how a true public servant behaves. Vote to re-elect Senator Ed Markey on September 1."

"In Colorado, Progressives Had A Chance At Real Power. They Let It Go.: John Hickenlooper swept the Democratic Senate nomination with little fight from the left. [...] Hickenlooper, the popular former governor and failed 2020 presidential candidate, routed Andrew Romanoff, the former state House speaker who ran firmly to Hickenlooper's left, in the race to take on Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in November's election. Gardner is among this cycle's most vulnerable GOP incumbents, meaning the Democratic primary presented the opportunity for progressives to place an ally in the Senate. But in letting Hickenlooper claim the nomination with a margin of close to 20 percentage points, they lost any hope of having a candidate who might actually rally around some of their biggest policy ideas, including the Green New Deal and Medicare for All."

Supreme Court hands big win to Trump on expelling immigrants seeking asylum: The 7-2 ruling allows people to be deported without judicial review of their cases. WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday gave a victory to the Trump administration on the president's signature issue of immigration, ruling that some people seeking asylum in the U.S. can be deported without additional court hearings. In a 7-2 vote, the court said people who fail to make a valid case for asylum in their initial screenings, by credibly claiming that they fear persecution at home, can be fast-tracked for deportation and cannot challenge that decision in federal court. [...] Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said that form of relief is intended to be used for those seeking release from detention, not as an avenue to get into federal court. And other constitutional rights of due process do not automatically apply to migrants simply because they set foot on U.S. soil and have not been legally admitted. In their dissent, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said the court was wrong to rule that constitutional protections don't apply to asylum-seekers "who challenge the procedures used to determine whether they may seek shelter in this country or whether they may be cast to an unknown fate." The decision 'increases the risk of erroneous immigration decisions.'"

"Supreme Court Rules Taxpayers Must Subsidize Religious Schools [...] In other words, the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue decision means that public dollars will go to private religious schools, in a clear violation of the separation of church and state, and a direct attack on public education."

"The Supreme Court Just Gave Corporations A License To Steal: The courthouse door was just slammed shut on workers and retirees whose pension plans get bilked. [...] Now here's the punchline: Rather than weighing in on the allegations of theft, Kavanaugh and the other conservative justices slammed the courthouse door on the plaintiffs and every other plaintiff like them, thereby creating the conditions for an undeterrable crime spree."

"Supreme Court Lifts Limits on Trump's Power to Fire Consumer Watchdog: The case concerning the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was part of a politically charged battle over presidential authority. WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the president is free to fire the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without cause. The decision, rejecting a federal law that sought to place limits on presidential oversight of independent agencies, was a victory for the conservative movement to curb the administrative state. The ruling puts to rest a decade of doubt over whether the bureau and its leadership structure, in which the director is appointed by the president to a five-year term and cannot be dismissed without a substantial reason, were constitutional. While the narrow decision validates the agency's existence, it could also open it to greater politicization, effectively turning its director into something akin to a cabinet member who serves at the pleasure of a president."

"'Monumental Victory': Tribes and Climate Activists Celebrate Court-Ordered Shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline: 'If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, it's that health and justice must be prioritized early on in any decision-making process if we want to avoid a crisis later on.'"

"'Vindication': Bayer Reaches $10 Billion Settlement Over Roundup Cancer Lawsuits: The deal includes $1.25 billion to cover potential future settlements. Agribusiness giant Bayer announced Wednesday that it reached a more than $10 billion deal to settle thousands of lawsuits that claimed exposure to Monsanto's Roundup caused cancer. A statement from Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018—and thus inherited lawsuits targeting the widely used weedkiller—said the settlement affects "75% of the current Roundup litigation involving approximately 125,000 filed and unfiled claims overall."

"A Federal Judge Is Really Tired Of GM And Fiat Chrysler's Shit: GM sued Fiat Chrysler in November, accusing it of corrupt contract negotiations, which led to higher labor costs for GM. In light of events since then, a federal judge is extremely tired of the suit already. The judge's order—for GM CEO Mary Barra and FCA CEO Mike Manley to meet in person and alone—is a good reminder that legal disputes are often only about five or ten percent of actual law and in fact more like regular disputes in real life. Lawsuits are cloaked in legal language—95 pages of it, in GM's original civil complaint—but it doesn't follow that resolutions have to be especially complex. That, of course, doesn't stop some civil proceedings from going on for years at a time, seemingly only to the benefit of the lawyers getting paid to argue them. Which is just the kind of proceeding Judge Paul Borman foresees happening in the GM-FCA case. On Tuesday, he ordered Barra and Manley to meet in person before July 1 to resolve things, explicitly tying the case to the coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement."

"SEC Regulators: Private Equity Is on a Crime Spree: Securities and Exchange Commission regulators recently issued a scathing report that reads like a last-ditch plea for help in reeling in private equity billionaires, who have all but free rein to fleece whoever they want, whenever they want. [...] In a little-noticed ruling last week, the Supreme Court restricted the SEC's power to punish private equity firms. With the agency successfully neutered, Trump is now trying to move Clayton into the job of US Attorney, overseeing Wall Street."

"An Entire Pro Softball Team Quit After Their GM Tried to Use Them as Racist, Pro-Trump Propaganda: A few weeks ahead of the slated return of most U.S. sports, pro women's softball held its first game in Melbourne, Florida this week. Shortly after the game ended, every member of the Texas-based Scrap Yard Fast Pitch quit the team. Every single one. At some point during the game, the team's general manager Connie May tweeted a picture of the players standing during the national anthem. The tweet tagged Donald Trump, declaring, 'Everyone respecting the FLAG!' According to the New York Times, the team returned to their locker room after the game to find a bunch of texts and notifications about the picture, which was posted without their knowledge or consent to promote a political message they say was not their intention. May's implication is that by standing for the anthem, the team is showing opposition (or at the very least, indifference) to the Black Lives Matter movement, making it a sort of anti-protest protest in itself. And the team made it clear they were not okay with that message."

"The Marijuana Superweapon Biden Refuses to Use: Legalizing marijuana is extremely popular. So why won't Joe Biden embrace the idea? Democratic political consultants dream of issues like marijuana legalization. Democrats are overwhelmingly in favor of it, polls show. So are independents. A majority of Republicans favor it now too. It motivates progressives, young people, and Black Americans to vote. Put it on the ballot, and it's proved a sure way to boost turnout for supportive politicians. It's popular in key presidential-election states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, and Virginia. There's no clear political downside— although marijuana legalization motivates its supporters, it doesn't motivate its opponents. For the Democratic presidential nominee, the upsides of supporting it would include energizing a very committed group of single-issue voters and making a major move toward criminal-justice reform and the Bernie Sanders agenda. Joe Biden won't inhale."

"Chelsea Manning's Jailer Is Running For Congress -- As A Democrat: James Averhart confined the Iraq War whistleblower to a tiny cell 23 hours a day -- and now could end up as the Democratic Party's nominee in Alabama [...] James Averhart, who is competing in a July 14 run-off election for an Alabama congressional seat, also oversaw a Bush-era military push to track down and punish veterans who deserted the Vietnam War -- an initiative seen as an attempt to discourage soldiers from deserting during the Iraq War."

"Who To Believe on Afghan Intelligence: CIA, NSA, or Pentagon?: Digging below the bombshell headlines and MSM chyrons on the current Russian-bounty-on-US-soldiers-in-Afghanistan allegations, it seems three separate US government (USG) agencies — the CIA, the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Pentagon — have different assessments as to the veracity of this story. [...] I can easily see this Russian-bounty story — to the extent the CIA's intelligence is creditable — being concocted by corrupt local officials and/or USG employed Afghans to keep their gravy train going in an effort along with Deep State operative to derail Trump's troop-withdrawal plans. Thus, I place very little credence in the CIA's in-country human intelligent sources who supposedly are the source of the CIA's Russian-bounty story. [...] Contrarily, the NSA — which strongly disagrees with the CIA's assessment on the Russian-bounty story — relies on so-called signal intelligence for making its intelligence assessments. [...] It is also important to note the Pentagon's statement on Tuesday: '... the Department of Defense [DoD] has no corroborating evidence at this time to validate recent allegations regarding malign activity by Russian personnel against US forces in Afghanistan ....' [...] Getting back to reality, the real rationale behind the MSM's and the Washington War State's latest Russia-gate story can be explained in two words: Bagram Airbase. As I cover in an article I wrote in September 2019 ("The Real Reason the US is Staying in Afghanistan"), the pushback Trump has gotten throughout his presidency on removing all US troops in Afghanistan as he campaigned he would do as president has nothing to do with keeping Americans safe from jihadi terrorism, installing a democratic government in Kabul, or advance human (particularly women's) rights in Afghanistan. As I state in this article: The real reason for the pushback by the Washington national security establishment against getting all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan is the guiding maxim of our post-World War II "War State" (the military-industrial complex and pro-war political establishment President Eisenhower warned about) that has grown into a $1-trillion/year enterprise with a worldwide empire of over 800 foreign military installations: never give up a military base in a strategic location."

In Consortium News, "LEE CAMP: Connecting the Dates — US Media Used To Stop The 'Threat' of Peace [...] Now, I'm not implying Trump is some kind of hippy peacenik. (He would look atrocious with no bra and flowers in his hair.) No, the military under Trump has dropped more bombs than under Obama, and that's impressive since Obama dropped more bombs than ever before. However, in certain areas of the world, Trump has threatened to create peace. Sure, he's doing it for his own ego and because he thinks his base wants it, but whatever the reason, he has put forward plans or policies that go against the military industrial complex and the establishment war-hawks (which is 95 percent of the establishment). And each time this has happened, he is quickly thwarted, usually with hilarious propaganda. (Well, hilarious to you and me. Apparently believable to people at The New York Times and former CIA intern Anderson Cooper.) I know four things for sure in life. Paper beats rock. Rock beats scissors. Scissors beat paper. And propaganda beats peace. All one has to do is look at a calendar."

I found this clip from The Michael Brooks Show pretty scary since it confirms all my worst fears, "Pentagon's 'Zoomer Rebellion' War Games ft. Joshua Kahn Russell.

"On Stonewall anniversary, the NYPD launched a brutal unprovoked attack on LGBTQ people: The NYPD may have apologized last year for raiding the Stonewall Inn, spawning days of riots and police brutality, but they apparently haven't decided to stop the behavior. As Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted about honoring Stonewall, the cops were unleashing pepper spray on LGBTQ people dancing in celebration. Yesterday, as the Queer Liberation March wound down and participants celebrated in nearby Washington Square Park, police charged into the crowd, swinging batons, shoving people to the ground, and arresting a handful of participants. The officers kept their badge numbers covered."

"I'm Black and Afraid of 'White Fragility' [...] White Fragility also reinforces the belief that the responsibility for racism lies with individual workers' attitudes and invisible phenomena including implicit bias rather than the policies and practices authorized by employers. If I were an employer, why wouldn't I want to hire a specialist to train workers to believe that their own identities and unconscious biases are the main sources of inequality, instead of exploitative workplace practices? Simply put, DiAngelo continues to be paid by schools and firms across the country for the same reason that employers pay any professional or manager: it advances their material interests as opposed to the interests of their personnel."

Matt Taibbi wrote about the subject and later discussed it with Katie Halper on their podcast, ""White Fragility," Plus Adolph Reed on Identity Politics | Useful Idiots."

"How to Be an Anti-Intellectual: A lauded book about antiracism is wrong on its facts and in its assumptions. [...] Kendi's goals are openly totalitarian. The DOA would be tasked with 'investigating' private businesses and 'monitoring' the speech of public officials; it would have the power to reject any local, state, or federal policy before it's implemented; it would be made up of 'experts' who could not be fired, even by the president; and it would wield 'disciplinary tools' over public officials who did not 'voluntarily' change their 'racist ideas'—as defined, presumably, by people like Kendi. What could possibly go wrong? [...] For one thing, he doesn't believe that people can be persuaded out of racism. 'People are racist out of self-interest, not out of ignorance,' Kendi writes. Thus, racists can't be educated out of their racism. 'Educational and moral suasion is not only a failed strategy,' he laments, it's a 'suicidal' one. This is a tough claim to square with the rest of the book, which contains story after story in which Kendi gets persuaded out of his racist beliefs—including one where a friend named Clarence reasons him out of believing that white people are extraterrestrials. Indeed, what makes Kendi's personal story so compelling is precisely the fact that he's constantly changing. That said, when reflecting on his college days, Kendi describes his former self as 'a believer more than a thinker,' so perhaps not everything about him has changed."

"It Wouldn't Be 'The Chicks' If Their Comeback Didn't Piss Off Some People" — They dropped the "Dixie" part and have a new album, Gaslighter.

In which Nathan Robinson totally disagrees with Matt Taibbi: "Has The American Left Lost Its Mind?: No. Once again critics of the left are misstating the facts and distracting us from consequential issues."

This is Ted Rall in WSJ, which is surprising enough, but he's right. "Police Brutality Affects Us All: Advocates for police reform have emphasized brutality's unique burden on black Americans. A better approach might be to emphasize that police officers rough whites up, too. The point isn't to diminish the black experience but to convince everyone they're in the same boat. More whites would join the struggle against police brutality if they believed the police were dangerous to them as well. Support for funding AIDS research expanded after activist groups convinced Americans in the 1980s that the 'gay plague' threatened straight people. It was oversold: A 2015 study found homosexuals were more than 20 times as likely to be infected as heterosexuals. But 1/20th isn't zero. Anyone can contract the virus. Similarly, there's no dispute that black Americans bear more than their share of police violence. In 2019, according to Statista, officers killed1,004 civilians nationwide: 370 whites, 235 blacks, 158 Latinos and 241 of other or unknown ethnic origin. Adjusting for population, the odds of an African-American dying at the hands of police is about 2.5 times as high as for a white person. Even so, 370 is far from zero. [...] If you're white, you should know you may get shot and brutalized by cops. That knowledge could save your life—and it will help you empathize with black victims of police violence."

Dean Baker, "NYT Argues Workers Should Get More, but Gets Some Important Facts Wrong I hate to be nitpicky when the NYT writes a very strong editorial arguing that we need more money going to ordinary workers and less to the rich, but it is important to get the story right. Unfortunately, the editorial misses much of it. First and foremost, there has not been a major shift from wages to profits during the period of wage stagnation. [...] The piece also implies that stock returns have been extraordinarily high through the last four decades. This is clearly wrong. While returns were very high in the 1980s and 1990s, they actually have been well below long-term averages for the last two decades. In this vein, the piece also proposes banning share buybacks as a way to reduce returns to shareholders. It is not clear what it hopes this would accomplish. It is hardly better for workers or anyone else if companies pay out money to shareholders through dividends rather than share buybacks. [...] The piece also is very modest in suggesting that the minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour. While this is a good near-term target, if the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity growth since 1968, it would be over $24 an hour today. [...] In order to be able to raise the minimum wage back to its productivity-adjusted level from 1968, and not see excessive inflation, we would have to take steps to reduce high-end wages. This would mean things like fixing the corporate governance structures so CEOs could not ripoff the companies for which they work. This would mean they might get $2 million to $3 million a year, instead of $20 million. We would have to eliminate the waste in the financial sector, thereby ending the exorbitant pay in this sector. We would also have to weaken the importance of patent and copyright monopolies, making it less likely that Bill Gates types could get $100 billion. And, we would have to subject doctors and other highly paid professionals to competition, bringing their pay in line with their counterparts in other wealthy countries."

RIP: "Carl Reiner, Actor, Director, Writer, Producer And Mensch, Dies At 98. In 1950, comic actor Sid Caesar hired Reiner for the pioneering live TV sketch comedy program, Your Show of Shows. Reiner was a writer alongside Woody Allen, Neil Simon and Mel Brooks. He also acted as a supporting player. 'Being a second banana to such a massive first banana ... wasn't a comedown at all for me,' said Reiner. 'I realized I was working with the best.'" I can't even imagine my life without Carl Reiner. Especially, I can't imagine my life without The Dick Van Dyke Show and moments like this. But, as Alan Sepinwall said in Rolling Stone, "The Dick Van Dyke Show would be Carl Reiner's one inarguable masterpiece, if it weren't for all the others."

Some fascinating history of the south's Black Belt from Jacobin's podcast series: "Robin D. G. Kelley: How Depression-era Communists Fought to Organize Alabama.

"Mapping Paramilitary and Far-Right Threats to Racial Justice: We have been tracking reports of paramilitary and other far-right actors who are showing up at or adjacent to protests demanding an end to racist policing and a transformation of our carceral state. This map seeks to right-size the threat of paramilitaries to our social justice movements, neither exaggerating nor minimizing. We have confirmed 136 reported incidents since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020, and with new reports daily there are dozens more as of yet unconfirmed incidents to review. Given the variety of groups and factions involved and types of incidents, we have divided the data into a few broad categories of actors/ideologies on the one hand and actions and tactics on the other. In most cases, the underlying data preserves more nuance and can be used to make finer distinctions. "

From Harper's in 2008, Thomas Frank, "The Wrecking Crew: How a gang of right-wing con men destroyed Washington and made a killing Republicans and Democrats may fight over how big government should be and exactly what it should do, we tell ourselves, but surely everyone shares those baseline good intentions, that simple devotion to the public interest. [...] But the truth is almost exactly the opposite, whether we are discussing Abramoff or the wider tsunami of corruption that has washed over the capital in recent years. It is just this: Fantastic misgovernment is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society."

Rolling Stone interviews Ringo Starr for his 80th birthday.

"Lord of the Rings Director Peter Jackson Pens Moving Tribute to Ian Holm: Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson penned a moving tribute to the late Ian Holm." There are a few interesting behind-the-scenes touches in here.

"Meet The Real Mrs. Maisel: Jean Carroll [...] Although she was revered as the top 'comedienne' (the quaint term for a woman comic) of her day, had her own sitcom on ABC, appeared on 'The Ed Sullivan Show' nearly 30 times and headlined at every major theater in the United States and London, she is notably absent from most histories of comedy."

Someone from the Draft Jesse Ventura movement is appealing to my love of Legos.

David Gilmour has a new song, "Yes, I Have Ghosts".

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