31 August 2020

He knows that all his hopes and dreams begin and end there

Senator Bernie Sanders' complete remarks at 2020 Democratic National Convention may be the only speech from the DNC that causes anyone to vote for Biden who might not have.

Obama also spoke at the DNC, and listening to him say these things as if they were about Republicans rather than himself and his cronies was absolutely infuriating.

Michael Moore makes his case: "Ep. 113: I'm Voting For Joe Biden Because I Don't Believe Him | Rumble w Michael Moore podcast."

The Majority Report's crew looks at the possibilities for Congress and says, "No Such Thing As An Unwinnable Race In 2020."

In Minnesota, Michigan, and Arizona, Biden's numbers look too close for comfort.

"Biden suggests he'd nominate Obama to Supreme Court." Imagine wasting a Supreme Court seat on the only president ever to claim he had a right to kill American citizens without charges or trial - and did it, for speech he didn't like.

Meanwhile, "Chuck Schumer isn't an 'angry centrist' anymore" — or so he claims. Is he still getting his polling from that imaginary couple? (I'm not making this up.)

"Carter Center to launch first-ever US election initiative, citing 'erosion' of democracy: Exclusive: Democracy promotion group founded by Jimmy Carter will launch US-focused initiative for first time in its history. [...] 'We are now at a point where we have taken an institutional decision to explore some direct engagement on US election issues. And this is a departure from our whole history trying not to do that,' David Carroll, director of the centre's Democracy Programme, told The Independent. In the past, he added, the centre has prioritised countries where there is 'a significant potential for an important change in the quality of democracy', or where democracy is 'under severe threat'. 'Until the last 10 years, we wouldn't have thought of the US in that category. But it's been increasingly the view of the Carter Center that the state of democracy in the US has been eroding.'"

"The Police Are Pretty Sure They're Going to Get Away With It: In Portsmouth, Virginia, cops have been systematically using their state power to tyrannize political enemies. As my colleague Adam Weinstein noted a few weeks ago, it has become a minor cliché in American political rhetoric to ask your audience to imagine how the media would cover some domestic development if it were taking place overseas, in one of the countries we consider less 'free.' But the device does make clear the extent to which we are willing to tolerate authoritarianism and petty tyranny here in the United States. How can anyone accurately describe what is happening in Portsmouth, Virginia, for example, without lapsing into the language of the foreign correspondent? The security forces are threatening to detain their political opponents. In June, protesters beheaded a few Confederate statues in Portsmouth and tore down another, which landed on and injured a demonstrator. Several months later, Portsmouth police, taking advantage of Virginia's magistrate system, which bypasses elected prosecutors in these decisions, charged various local civil rights leaders, public defenders, and the president pro tempore of the Virginia Senate, Louise Lucas, with felony charges of conspiracy to injure a monument. [...] The Virginian-Pilot's Ana Ley and Gary A. Harki reported that 'elected officials, activists and historians' have identified a 'clear pattern' in which Portsmouth's 'majority-Black population pushes its government to repair strained police relations, spend more tax dollars on children and pass countless other measures to make Portsmouth more equitable,' only for that majority to find its representatives hounded out of power by the police."

Sirota, "Team Biden Now Signals Austerity, Despite Campaign Pledges: Biden's top adviser made a hugely important declaration -- and almost nobody noticed it. The Democratic convention has sucked up all the political oxygen in America — so much so, that most people missed Team Biden signaling that it may back off the entire agenda it is campaigning on. This monumental declaration went almost completely unnoticed for an entire day — which is a genuinely disturbing commentary on how the biggest of big political news gets routinely ignored. To review the situation: earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that Biden's 'campaign rolled out a $3.5 trillion economic program over the past month' — one that 'promises to invest in clean energy and caregiving, buy more made-in-America goods, and start narrowing the country's racial wealth gaps.' This, said the news service, was proof that Biden no longer adhered to an ideology of austerity and deficit hawkery — which would be good news. But then on the eve of Biden's convention speech, the Democratic nominee's top aide suggested to Washington reporters that, in fact, that's not true. [...] Economist Dean Baker goes over exactly how destructive and insane this ideology is. As he says: 'The idea that we would not address pressing needs, like climate change, child care, and health care because we are concerned about the debt burden is close to crazy. As long as the economy is not near its capacity, there is zero reason not to spend to address these priorities.' I encourage you to read his piece. [...] This is not the first time there's been silence on stuff like this — less than a month ago Biden explicitly promised his Wall Street donors that despite his public campaign promises, he will not be pushing new legislation to change corporate behavior. That happened and it basically went unreported. You didn't see it on MSNBC or hear it on NPR. You didn't see it anywhere, except for right here at TMI (this is the kind of reporting you are supporting when you become a subscriber). [...] Nathan Tankus reacts to the Biden statement: 'This is completely unacceptable. I don't want a qanon president in 2024. The fiscal policy we need is much greater than short term stimulus and committing to 'long run' austerity is horrendous and amounts to a commitment to cut medicare and social security.'"

"The Burden of the Debt: Lessons for Biden Adviser Ted Kaufman: Top Biden adviser, and long-time personal friend, Ted Kaufman was seen in the Wall Street Journal warning that the debt run up by the Trump administration will seriously limit what Biden will be able to do as president. This is wrong big time, and it is the sort of silly thing that no one in a Biden administration should ever be saying. The government's ability to spend is limited by the economy's ability to produce, not the debt. If the government spends too much, it will lead to inflation. When we have a period of high unemployment, as is the case now and almost certainly will still be the case if Biden takes office in January, we are very far from hitting the economy's inflation barriers. It takes some very deliberate head in the ground economics to argue that we are somehow limited by the size of the government debt. Japan provides a great model here. Its ratio of debt to GDP is more than 250 percent, more than twice the current U.S. level. Yet, the country is seeing near zero inflation and has a 0.03 percent interest rate on its long-term debt. The interest on its debt is near zero, since much of its debt carries a negative interest rate. The idea that we would not address pressing needs, like climate change, child care, and health care because we are concerned about the debt burden is close to crazy."

"I Have Spent My Career Advocating for Fair Housing. It's Good to See Obama's Rule Go: The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, as adopted by the Obama administration and scrapped by the Trump administration, didn't include the policy tools necessary to achieve fair housing in the United States, according to this opinion piece. [...] Many civil rights advocates have decried the Trump administration's actions, accurately noting that it reflects Trump's hostility to equal justice generally and Black Americans in particular. But they shouldn't complain. Withdrawing the rule represents a crucial first step in breaking down racial segregation—for reasons completely opposite to Trump's intentions. The final AFFH rule under Obama was almost comically weak. It literally contained no rules for how state and local governments were actually supposed to "Affirmatively Further Fair Housing." It only promised an "Assessment Tool" for how cities were supposed to evaluate the impacts of their policies. Note the word "promise": the rule did not even contain the Assessment Tool itself. It simply said that at some point in the future, HUD would present the Assessment Tool. [...] If the Obama rule was weak but the Trump Rule is awful, why does it matter? Decrying the demise of the Obama rule sets us up for a terrible outcome in the event that a Biden Administration takes power next year. A Biden-led HUD that merely reinstates the Obama rule might proclaim it a great triumph. It is anything but. Celebrating the Obama's AFFH rule presents the real danger that it will become a ceiling rather than a floor for future fair housing policy."

"NYT Urges Biden to Shun His Party's 'Left-Leaning Brand': As the Democratic National Convention kicks off, election season is finally heating up again—which means it's time for corporate media to get back to flogging their 'move to the center' horse when covering Democrats. This week's edition comes from New York Times reporter Reid J. Epstein, in an article headlined, 'How Biden Could Learn From Conor Lamb's Victory in Trump Country' (8/16/20). Lamb won his long-shot House race in a 2018 special election, in a district in southwestern Pennsylvania that went for Trump in 2016 by around 20 points."

"Media Show Little Interest in Israeli Bombing of Gaza: Israel is bombing Palestine again, although you likely wouldn't guess that from watching TV news. For the eleventh straight night, Israeli Defense Force warplanes have been bombing the densely populated Gaza Strip. Israel's bombs have caused considerable damage, forcing the shutdown of the area's only power plant. But US corporate media, focused on the coronavirus and election coverage, have shown little interest in the renewed violence in the Middle East. Searching for 'Gaza' on the websites of NBC News, CNN, MSNBC and PBS elicits no relevant results. Nor has Fox News addressed the bombings, although it did find time (8/18/20) to cover the archaeological discovery of an old soap factory in Israel's Negev Desert."

"RAY McGOVERN: Catapulting Russian-Meddling Propaganda: The New York Times is leading the full-court press to improve on what it regards as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's weak-kneed effort to blame the Russians for giving us Donald Trump. [...] The recent release of a 1,000-page, sans bombshells and already out-of-date report by the Senate Intelligence Committee has provided the occasion to 'catapult the propaganda,' as President George W. Bush once put it."

"Terrible Rumor: Donald Norcross, A Conservative Democrat From New Jersey's Most Corrupt Political Family Is Being Vetted As Biden's Labor Secretary: Neoliberal Democratic presidents do a little balancing dance when they pick their first cabinets. They give a grotesque Wall Street whore the Treasury job and they gave a real progressive the Labor Secretary job. JFK's first Secretary of Labor was Arthur Goldberg, a Steelworkers general counsel who was appointed to the Supreme Court. JFK didn't even pretend when it came to the Treasury Secretary; he gave the job to conservative Republican and Wall Street bankster Douglas Dillon. Bill Clinton gave the Labor job to Robert Reich and then appointed 3 for the most conservative assholes to Treasury imaginable: Lloyd Bentsen, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. Obama gave Labor to Hilda Solis-- another outstanding progressive-- and Treasury to Wall Street creep Tim Geithner. There's no reason to imagine Biden isn't going to find a nightmarish conservative for the Treasury job. Bank on it. And I think he intends to pick a progressive for Labor-- but not a real progressive. A rumor has been circulating in New Jersey and DC that he has his mind on a crooked pro-labor conservative congressman, Donald Norcross. How can Norcross be called a progressive? Well, he can't-- except that Mark Pocan sold him a spot in the Progressive Caucus and made him vice chair for labor. Norcross doesn't have an "A" rating from Progressive Punch, nor even a "B" or a "C." He doesn't even have a "D." Nope-- pure "F." That's Pocan's idea of a progressive-able-to-write-a-check. And Biden's people honed right in on it.

RIP: "Chadwick Boseman: Black Panther star dies of cancer aged 43: The actor died at his Los Angeles home after being diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago." @fpaulwilson tweeted: Chadwick Boseman...let me get this straight: He made "Black Panther," "Avengers: Infinity War," "Avengers: Endgame," "21 Bridges," "Da 5 Bloods," and "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" while undergoing multiple surgeries and chemo without letting anyone know he was sick. That's a mensch."

"White Vigilantes Have Always Had A Friend In Police: New data shows that far-right vigilantes, often with support from cops, have threatened protesters nearly 500 times since police killed George Floyd [...] The dataset, which Ross shared with HuffPost, documents a staggering amount of violence directed at protesters by the far-right, including 64 cases of simple assault, 38 incidents of vigilantes driving cars into demonstrators, and nine times shots were fired at protesters. All told, six protesters were hit by vigilante bullets in this summer's violence. Three died from their wounds. Ross' dataset also includes 387 incidents of intimidation, such as people using racist slurs, making threats and brandishing firearms. 'There just isn't really anything to compare it to,' Ross told HuffPost. 'I've never seen anything like this in my life.' "

Bloomberg, "INSIGHT: The Simple Fix For Corporate Income Tax—Tax Stock Returns: The 2017 tax law didn't accomplish what it promised, writes Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The author says the main problem with the current system is that it is focused on the wrong target. Instead of taxing corporate profits, we should be taxing stock returns."

"You can't trust the media on Evo Morales: Socialists are being taught an important lesson in skepticism towards international reporting. When the BBC broke news this morning that exiled Bolivian leader Evo Morales has been accused of rape, I didn't believe it. I wasn't skeptical of the charge because I had any countervailing evidence about what had happened. I didn't harbor doubts because of some personal judgment about Morales himself, though as far as I can tell he seems to be a profoundly decent and honorable man. And I didn't even dismiss it because of something suspicious about the reporting, which on its face seemed quite damning. The reason I was skeptical about this news is simple: the right uses fabricated allegations of crimes and atrocities in order to advance its agenda all of the time. And this is particularly true in the international arena, where tales of horrors perpetrated by Official Enemies of the beltway blob and its corporate sponsors bubble up constantly. At first these narratives can seem extremely convincing, and the pressure to accept them and condemn their targets is always extraordinary — yet time and after time, it turns out that they were exaggerated, or outright fabricated. That appears to be the case once again with Morales."

Why should anyone vote for this? "Joe Biden's Platform for 2020: Anti-Populism: By criticizing the views of both Berniecrats and Trumpites, Biden is positioning himself as the antidote to populism in all its forms and flavors."

I'm not sure how many people haven't figured out yet that Politifact has a right-wing bias, but "PolitiFact's 'Trump-O-Meter' is an embarrassing encapsulation of the problem with modern media: On Monday, fact-checking organization PolitiFact tweeted a link to one of the entries in its 'Trump-O-Meter' campaign-promise tracker. In doing so, the organization highlighted a longstanding problem with its own work."

Jeff Sharlet in Vanity Fair, "'He's The Chosen One To Run America': Inside The Cult Of Trump, His Rallies Are Church And He Is The Gospel: Trump's rallies—a bizarre mishmash of numerology, tweetology, and white supremacy—are the rituals by which he stamps his name on the American dream. As he prepares to resume them for the first time in months, his followers are ready to receive. [...] Jones is only the second person I've met at the rally, so I don't yet know just how common this perspective is. Through a season of Trump rallies across the country, before the global pandemic forced the president to retreat for a while from the nation's arenas, I spoke with dozens of Trump supporters who believe that the Democratic establishment primarily serves as a cover for child sex trafficking." Sharlet tells Sam Seder in an interview that he once told people that fascism couldn't happen in America, but after attending Trump rallies and talking to Trump's supporters, he's realized his mistake. Well, part of it - I don't think he recognizes the material reasons why cults like this can come to dominance. But his explanations in the interview of what his supporters believe and how well Trump plays to them is downright spooky. And I'm sure the relationship between Epstein and Bill Clinton just underscores their belief that Democrats are sex-trafficking cannibals.

"How the 'Useful Idiots' of Liberal New York Fueled Income Inequality: Kurt Andersen, founder of Spy magazine and the author of Evil Geniuses, on how affluent lefties slept through the escalating inequality crisis. Including him. In his new best-selling book, Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History, the author and cultural critic Kurt Andersen performs a deep excavation of the country's inequality crisis. He finds the roots not only in the balance-tilting schemes of Wall Street and the champions of right-wing political economics but also in the obliviousness of the liberal professional class. For decades, these liberals have been the useful idiots, as he calls them, in the plan that has funneled financial spoils to the tiny percentage of Americans now riding out the current catastrophes in Hamptons compounds, and left everyone else scrambling. Kurt, a former colleague at Time magazine (and by colleague, I mean boss), cops to his own part in the profound social reordering that has taken place since the 1980s."

Another great interview of John Nichols by Nomiki Konst, "Henry Wallace Was the OG Bernie Sanders"

Bhaskar Sunkara interviews Harvey Kaye about Thomas Paine.

Reminder: "Free Trade is a Myth." Or more to the point, it's a lie that "free trade" has lifted millions out of poverty.

FiveThirtyEight , "The Moderate Middle Is A Myth."

Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey is why, although it was already widely-used in Europe, Thalidomide was never approved for use in the United States. She didn't like the look of existing data so she withheld approval despite continued pressure from the manufacturer, and then, "In November 1961, reports began to emerge in Germany and the United Kingdom that mothers who had taken thalidomide during pregnancy were now having babies with severe birth defects. Dr. Helen Taussig learned of the tragedy from one of her students and traveled to Europe to investigate. By testifying before the Senate, Tauusig was able to help Kelsey ban thalidomide in the United States for good. At least 4000 children in Europe were affected by the drug, but thanks to Kelsey's rigorous professionalism a similar tragedy was averted here in America.."

Christo and Jean-Claude's The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-05

"Announcing the winners of Portrait of Humanity 2020"

Gary U.S. Bonds, "The Pretender"

18 August 2020

But the post office has been stolen and the mail box is locked

My avatar went touristing in Second Life and found this plant display restful. If you're bored being cooped up, you might want to try this sort of thing.

"Former Attorney General Holder Suggests Postmaster General Should Be Prosecuted: As Democrats increasingly decry what they have characterized as President Donald Trump's assault on the U.S Postal Service, some are warning of possible legal consequences for the administration's actions. Among them is former Attorney General Eric Holder. On Saturday morning, law professor and legal analyst Barb McQuade pointed out that obstructing mail is a federal offense and wondered who would prosecute Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in the Department of Justice headed by William Barr. 'The next, real, Justice Department,' Holder replied. Earlier, Holder posted a tweet that simply stated the law regarding the fines and imprisonment of up to six months that anyone who 'willfully obstructs or retards the passage of the mail' can face. Holder has been posting quite a bit on the Postal Service lately and in that sense is like a lot of Democrats who have taken up the issue that was simmering for weeks in the news cycle but seemed unable to break through amid the coronavirus disaster. Now, Democrats increasingly seem to realize that Trump's actions regarding the Postal Service gives them an opportunity to coalesce behind a message that might even help them win over new voters." Pelosi should be calling the House back from vacation immediately to start impeachment proceedings, of course. No need to wait for Mitch McConnel to convict, just have hearings with people getting up every day and pointing out that the president has admitted he is rigging the election and that his Postmaster General is committing a federal crime, apparently under Trump's orders. Make sure Americans turning on their TVs know what they're up to and to forget about getting their birthday cards and medications and other necessities in the mail until these swine are kicked out of government. Trump doesn't have to still be in office to be impeached and convicted. If the election goes well for the Democrats, they can do both after the new Congress is seated. Of course, this is Pelosi and Schumer we're talking about, so they might not do a bloody thing.

"The Left Needs to Stop Falling for Absurd Sex Panics: The absurd allegations against progressive Congressional candidate Alex Morse have now been exposed as a hoax. But they couldn't have been better calculated to excite a Left prone to mindless sex panics. Alex Morse, 31, is just the kind of Democratic candidate progressives usually love. The young, gay mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts is challenging a corrupt, centrist incumbent, Richie Neal, for Congress. Backed by the Squad-making Justice Democrats, Morse is a supporter of the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. And the Left did love him — that is, until the College Democrats of Massachusetts figured out a brilliant way to take him down: make absurd sexual allegations against Morse and watch the Left lose its collective mind. Last Friday, just a couple weeks before the primary, the College Democrats — who received $1,000 from Rep. Neal, Morse's opponent, in April — launched the scandal with a letter disinviting Morse from all their future events. The missive, which was given to the Daily Collegian, University of Massachusetts's student newspaper, made three accusations against the insurgent candidate. [...] No one ever came forward as a 'survivor' of any of Morse's heinous acts of Instagramming, but in one case, according to the College Democrats' letter, a young man hooked up with Morse and found out later that Morse was the mayor and felt weird about that. (This would appear to be a comically ineffective use of his 'status.') [...] It turns out the Left got played. For days, agonized online discourse parsed acceptable behavior for consenting adults and trafficked (disgracefully) in stereotypes about predatory gay men. Thankfully, the Intercept's Ryan Grim stepped in to reveal that there weren't even any 'victims' of 'discomfort' or 'power dynamics.' Messages Grim obtained show that the College Dems planned the whole thing deliberately, as one of the group's leaders was hoping to get an internship with Rep. Neal, Morse's opponent."

Alex Pareene, "A Government Too Broken to Write $600 Checks: The president and the Senate majority leader weren't even in the room for the failed negotiations to save the economy. [...] The sticking point in the negotiations, besides the overall price tag, was apparently that the White House (meaning Meadows) refused to budge on aid to state and local governments; in other words, the White House wants to see crushing, pointless austerity cuts across the entire nation at the level of government where the effects of austerity will be clearest to middle- and working-class Americans. This makes some amount of sense in terms of the conservative project, but it makes very little sense in terms of the political prospects of President Donald Trump. He has no personal allegiance to conservative fiscal policy. Surprisingly for a rich guy, he has never been particularly interested in dingbat rightwing economics. (A money launderer, for example, doesn't care what the top marginal tax rate is; he cares about how rigorously money laundering is being investigated and punished.) Perhaps 20 years ago, he would have been canny enough to realize that bailing out the states would benefit him politically, just as he still had enough wits to figure out that signing 'Donald Trump' on stimulus checks was good politics regardless of the budgetary math. But the Donald Trump we have is the one who believes meaningless or imaginary executive orders will substitute for congressional action for the same reason that he believed Covid-19 would go away on its own. As he understands it, the important thing is that he was seen on television promising relief. The idea that people might notice if that relief never came, or was inadequate when it did, is as foreign to him as the idea that people might notice that their neighbors or parents had died of Covid-19 even if none of them could get a test to confirm the diagnosis."

"Bernie Sanders introduces bill to tax 60% of millionaires' earnings during pandemic to pay medical costs: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk would all be taxed tens of billions under bill Senator Bernie Sanders has announced legislation that would impose a 60 per cent tax on the wealth gains of billionaires from 18 March through the end of 2020 for the purposes of funding Medicare and paying all Americans' out-of-pocket health-care needs for a one-year period. Mr Sanders said the tax hike was meant to help people who are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic. 'The legislation I am introducing today will tax the obscene wealth gains billionaires have made during this extraordinary crisis to guarantee healthcare as a right to all for an entire year,' Mr Sanders said in a statement.

We have the worst party leaders. Sam Seder wonders, "What Is Nancy Pelosi Even Trying to Do?"

Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "Big Pharma's Covid-19 Profiteers: How the race to develop treatments and a vaccine will create a historic windfall for the industry — and everyone else will pay the price [...] The CEO noted a study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health, showing that Covid-19 patients taking remdesivir recovered after 11 days, compared with 15 days for placebo takers. In the U.S., he wrote, 'earlier hospital discharge would result in hospital savings of approximately $12,000 per patient.' The hilarious implication seemed to be that by shortening hospital stays by four days on average, remdesivir was worth $48,000 a dose."

So, continuing with his policy of adding insult to injury over and over, Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his running-mate. This woman was so unpopular that she couldn't even place in her own state during the primaries, and now there are New Questions About Harris's Record On Antitrust & White-Collar Crime,

Democrats have gotten really good at promoting people who have no idea that the obvious consequences of their actions will actually occur. Like, if you pass a law that puts people in jail, it comes as a big surprise that some people go to jail. "Kamala Harris regrets California truancy law that led to arrest of some parents [...] Speaking on the liberal podcast Pod Save America, Sen. Harris said the arrests and, in some cases, jail sentences of parents in multiple California counties were an 'unintended consequence' of the statewide law, which built on her tough-on-truancy approach as San Francisco district attorney."

Columbia Journalism Review, "MSNBC public editor: A strained symbiosis with Obama: MSNBC was not and is not about to call Obama out for having broken his campaign promises of transparency, for permitting nine million people to lose their homes in the mortgage crisis, for failing to jail even a single banker, or for having failed to call the butchers of Iraq to account. There is no cable news station broadcasting today that is willing to state the blindingly obvious, to wit, that a less corrupt, less wealth-enslaved, less warmongering Democratic Party—a party that had paid more than lip service to the needs of working people over the previous eight years—would have walked away with the 2016 election. "

"Denounced as Going 'Too Far' When Sanders Said It—American Bar Association Backs Full Voting Rights for Incarcerated People: 'This Resolution follows a long American Bar Association tradition affirming and supporting the expansion of Americans' right to vote.' [...] At its annual meeting earlier this month, the ABA adopted a resolution stating the organization would urge all levels of government to 'repeal laws that disenfranchise persons based upon criminal conviction [and] restore voting rights to those currently and formerly incarcerated, including those on probation, parole, or any other community-based correctional program.' The national lawyers' association further said (pdf) that 'no person convicted of crime' should be disenfranchised in the U.S. because of failure to pay fines, court fees, or other payments as a result of their conviction."

"Popular Viral Video Firm Sues Facebook over Russian Propaganda Label: The company behind In The Now, Soapbox and Waste-Ed is taking on media giant Facebook, who it claims is falsely labeling it as Russian state-controlled propaganda. [...] Go to any of the Maffick-owned Facebook pages, including In The Now (4.9 million followers), which focuses on light-hearted news and social justice issues, Soapbox (320,000 followers), featuring politically opinionated videos, or Waste-Ed (216,000 followers), with content on environmental topics, and you are greeted with a warning from Facebook: 'This publisher is wholly or partially under the editorial control of a state.' Maffick strenuously denies this, noting that its sole owner, Anissa Naouai, is a U.S. citizen living in California. 'In doing all of these actions, Facebook has acted fraudulently, with actual malice and in reckless disregard for the truth,' the complaint alleges."

"The Disconnect Between the Stock Market and the Real Economy Is Destroying Our Lives: Stocks are the wall that protects the rich from the consequences of this crisis [...] The glaring disconnect between the real economy, of working humans with jobs and bills to pay, and the investor class economy, embodied by the stock market, is one of the most brutal and devious political issues of this age of crisis in which we're living. Though free marketeers like to boast of the fact that more than half of Americans now own stocks, the fact is that most of them own too few stocks to matter to their day-to-day economic lives. Half of all stocks in America are owned by the wealthiest 1% of people. They are the stock market's target audience and prime movers. The primary effect of high stock prices today is to insulate the rich from the consequences of the wrecked real economy. So long as stocks are doing okay, there is no need for the class of people who control most of America's institutions to feel much urgency to save the lives of everyone. A strong stock market is like a sturdy wall around the rich and powerful. You can stay outside and lose your job and starve and die, and it won't penetrate their serene bubble very much at all."

Not all of this is right, but there's a lot of truth here: "What Democrats Can Learn from the Republicans about Political Power [...] This is problematic because voters, despite their liberal tilt, have few firm and informed opinions about public policy, and no coherent ideology to speak of. Public opinion and the political landscape can be moved by powerful rhetoric and political leadership. Democrats, however, take the political landscape as a given and do little to change it. They build political strategies upon sand, while conservatives build political strategies premised on shaping that sand to suit their needs, and then mixing it into semi-concrete."

Matt Stoller interviews David Dayen about America's Folksiest Predator: One of the more important figures in American capitalism over the last forty years is Warren Buffett, the legendary investor who is now the fourth richest man in the world. Buffett is an icon, the ‘Oracle of Omaha,' who lives a simple lifestyle based on folksy wisdom, eating Dairy Queen ice cream, and drinking Coca Cola. Or so goes the myth. In this issue, I'm going to do an interview with an author who presents a very different side of Buffett, the side that is key to his wealth and power. Specifically, the monopolist side, and how Buffett's way of investing has been a multiplier force for dominant corporations." (Text only). Man, that guy is a horrorshow.

Part Three of Paul Jay's interview with Thomas Frank, reprinted at Naked Capitalism, "Thomas Frank: Liberal Elites Will Create Conditions for Another Trump: Yves here. On to the last part of Thomas Frank's discussion of his new book, The People, No. Here Frank focuses on the danger to the US of demonizing populism."

"Covid Vaccines with Dr. Robert Gallo, Plus the Democrats' Campaign Strategy | Useful Idiots" — Remember him? The AIDs guy? It was interesting to hear him meandar,but he's also got an idea that the Sabin oral polio vaccine might be an interesting place to look for help with Covid — but no one will give him funding to investigate it.

Interesting Interview with Lee Camp, who reminds us that in 2016 while the American mass media was treating Trump like a big joke and giving him massive media promotion, it was possible to find real political criticism of Trump in Lee Camp's videos - on RT.

"Of Guns and Men: In Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore made the case that the number of guns and the availability of guns is not causal in the number of gun deaths, There are plenty of examples where a country has as many if not more guns per capita than the US (e.g., Canada) yet they have nowhere near the rate of gun deaths. So if the proliferation of guns isn't the cause; violent movies are not the cause; and bloody video games are not the cause, what then is the cause of the gun violence that puts America literally off the charts? Michael Moore believed it was fear: rampant fear and fear-mongering on the part of the media and the culture. Gun sales spiked in 2008 following Obama's election. Why? FEAR. More and more women (including Adam Lanza's mom) have guns for 'personal protection.' Why? FEAR."

"25 Years Gone: The Day Jerry Garcia Died Remembered by Bill Walton, Bruce Hornsby, Perry Farrell, Warren Haynes"

"Carbonatite: 'Sandcastle' Structures in Calcium Carbonate-Rich Tanzanian Volcano"

Painstakingly restored video, "[4k, 60 fps] San Francisco, a Trip down Market Street, April 14, 1906" — ends with a brief view of what it looked like four days later.

Bob Dylan, "Memphis Blues Again"

09 August 2020

Burns like a red coat carpet

"Down Goes Clay: Cori Bush Knocks Off Half-Century Dynasty: Cori Bush's defeat over 19-year incumbent Rep. Lacy Clay in St. Louis, Missouri, is Justice Democrats's latest upset." As I said a couple years ago, I don't expect these young challengers to win their first time out, but when they try again, it's not surprising to see them win. Meanwhile, Twitter was full of gleeful Hillarystans cheering for Rashida Tlaib to lose her seat, but she's pretty popular in her district.

"Marquita Bradshaw scores upset win in Tennessee Democratic Senate primary: NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Memphis environmentalist, Black activist and single mom Marquita Bradshaw won the Democratic primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee on Thursday. Bradshaw defeated Nashville attorney and former Army helicopter pilot James Mackler, who had snagged an endorsement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and others. Bradshaw will face former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, who defeated Nashville trauma surgeon Manny Sethi in the Republican primary. Bradshaw and Hagerty are seeking to succeed Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is retiring. Republicans have held both Senate seats in Tennessee since 1994." Not only did Chuck Schumer and the DSCC (and a couple million bucks) back her opponent, but Bradshaw only had $8,200, and still won.

"'History Will Not Judge This Kindly': DNC Platform Committee Votes Down Medicare for All Amendment: 'It's like opposing the New Deal during the Great Depression. Unforgivable.' A Democratic National Committee panel on Monday voted down an amendment that would have inserted a plank supporting Medicare for All into the party's 2020 platform, a move progressives decried as out of touch with public opinion and a slap in the face to the millions of people who have lost their health insurance due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The DNC Platform Committee rejected the Medicare for All amendment introduced by longtime single-payer advocate Michael Lighty by a vote of 36-125 during a virtual meeting Monday. The committee also voted down separate attempts to include support for expanding Medicare to children, dropping the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 55, and legalizing marijuana."

And that's not all, the Platform Committee bottled out on a lot of things before announcing it was "the boldest Democratic platform in history." No, it really wasn't, and I've seen GOP platforms that were further to the left. But, as John Nichols told Sam Seder, it has some good stuff in it. Still, "Democrats Miss HUGE Opportunity To Push Platform Ideas During Biden's Surge In Polls."

"Portland sees peaceful night of protests following withdrawal of federal agents: Thursday night's protest passed off without major incident or intervention by the police in the absence of federal officers. The withdrawal of federal agents from frontline policing of demonstrations in downtown Portland significantly reduced tensions in the city overnight.Protesters in support of Black Lives Matter once again rallied near the federal courthouse that became a flashpoint, and the scene of nightly battles amid the swirl of teargas, after Donald Trump dispatched agents to end what he called anarchy in the city after weeks of demonstrations. But in the absence of the federal officers, Thursday night's protest passed off without major incident or intervention by the police."

Matt Stoller, "The Day Big Tech Stopped Being Untouchable [...] Today I'm going to write about we learned on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week. In sequence, Wednesday was the day of a historic Congressional hearing on big tech monopoly power, Thursday was when these firms announced blow-out earnings even in the midst of an economic collapse, and Friday saw Donald Trump announce he might ban the social media firm TikTok. That's democracy, monopoly, and national security in sequence."

I was really pleased that Michael Brooks had this guy on the show. I think it was the last interview he ever did. How Can We End Corporate Media? ft. Robert McChesney (TMBS 148)

"TMBS Doc: Labor Power & The New Deal ft. Harvey Kaye"

"Michael Brooks takes a question on Israel."

"Jeremy Corbyn accuses Labour officials of sabotaging election campaign: Jeremy Corbyn and his former leadership team have openly accused disgruntled Labour officials of potentially costing the party the chance of victory by sabotaging the 2017 election campaign in a factional dispute. In a joint statement that shines a light on the scale of continued Labour splits, Corbyn, the former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and seven other former shadow ministers and aides have for the first time formally endorsed claims made in a party report leaked in April. In their submission to the party inquiry called to examine the leaked report, Corbyn and his former colleagues claimed the alleged diversion of some party funds during the 2017 election could even constitute fraud."

As you may recall, Zach Carter has recently written a book about Keynes, and David Dayen has recently written a book about monopolies, and now they've interviewed each other in a single podcast, Keynes and Corporate Power: David Dayen in Conversation With Zach Carter.

Dan Froomkin at Press Watch, "The New York Times has a misogyny problem, too: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes some people very uncomfortable, and apparently that includes some editors and reporters at the New York Times. So rather than report on how Ocasio-Cortez's riveting, viral speech on the House floor on Thursday was a signal moment in the fight against abusive sexism, Times congressional reporters Luke Broadwater and Catie Edmondson filed a story full of sexist double standards and embraced the framing of her critics by casting her as a rule-breaker trying to 'amplify her brand.'"

"Bill Clinton Used John Lewis's Funeral to Disparage the Black Freedom Struggle: Bill Clinton has a penchant for overstepping, for going too far and for being too cocky, especially when it comes to Black people. He assumes a kind of insider posture that is, quite frankly, offensive. This posture was on full display yesterday when, while eulogizing the late civil rights leader and Congressman John Lewis, Clinton took the liberty to render his opinion about who was a good Black leader vs. who was a not-so-good Black leader. In referring to the political differences between Lewis and Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) — both former leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) — Clinton backhandedly disparaged Ture. [...] Another section of Lewis's 1963 D.C. speech came to mind as I listened to Clinton and other opportunistic politicians sing Lewis's praises in recent days. He warned: 'This nation is still a place of cheap political leaders who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic and social exploitation.' That statement was true in 1963 and it remains so in 2020." Mr. Clinton also thanked Jim Clyburn for destroying the Sanders campaign, although he hardly did it without help from the media.

"Yale Antitrust Scholars Resign Because Director Advises Apple, Amazon: A leading antitrust crusader revealed she was getting paid by companies facing antitrust scrutiny by federal and state authorities, as well as her own antitrust research project. Two fellows at Yale's Thurmond Arnold Project, an antitrust research organization at the university, have resigned after it was revealed that a leading antitrust scholar and director of the project has been taking paid advisor roles for Apple and Amazon. Both companies are facing multiple antitrust investigations.

"A Huge Wall Street Scandal Just Exploded In Kentucky: GOP law enforcement officials are targeting Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire who bankrolls Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump's political machine. The lawsuit breaks open a major financial scandal that threatens the world's largest private equity firms — with global implications. In a landmark case with potentially global implications, Kentucky's newly elected Republican attorney general is targeting some of the world's largest financial firms in a new lawsuit alleging that teachers, firefighters, and other government workers have been systematically bilked by Wall Street's rampant fraud and self-dealing, which has created a massive financial crisis in the state. [...] As TMI previously reported, the US Supreme Court recently blocked workers and retirees from suing these kind of firms because the high court said they did not have legal standing. A Kentucky court then quickly cited that ruling to short-circuit retirees' case against Wall Street giants Blackstone and KKR, which said the firms' investment schemes had fleeced the state pension system. But in an extraordinary move on Monday, Kentucky's GOP Attorney General Daniel Cameron intervened to sue on behalf of the state government — a maneuver that likely renders the standing issue moot. The suit alleges that the firms misled the state into funneling retirees' money into investments that were 'secretive, opaque, illiquid, impossible to properly monitor or accurately value, high-fee, high-risk gambles with no historical record of performance.' The suit asserts that these were 'absolutely unsuitable investments for a pension fund in the particular situation [Kentucky] was in, and violated the applicable laws, codes and standards.'"

Thread from Cory Doctorow: "States across the US have enacted cruel, unconstitutional abortion laws that require doctors to sexually assault women seeking abortions and lie to them about the health impacts of abortion. Some laws require funerals for foetal remains. These laws were pushed by ALEC, the corporate-backed 'legislative exchange' that pushes 'model legislation' through a network of slick lobbyists in state-houses across the country. ALEC purports to be in favor of 'liberty' and 'small government.' Enter the Satanic Temple, a federally recognized religion whose members do not believe in Satan or supernatural phenomena. They believe 'that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition.' The Temple has a fantastic schtick. They go to places where theocrats have gotten laws passed that shove their weird, apostate version of 'Christianity' down everyone else's throats and point out that the First Amendment requires nondiscrimination among faiths. Wanna put a giant stone Ten Commandments in front of your courthouse? Sure. But they're gonna put a giant statue of Baphomet right next to it. The court challenges they mount aren't cheap, but they're slam dunks. The US Constitution is pretty clear on this. Now, in 1993, Chuck Schumer sponsored the 'Religious Freedom Restoration Act' which lets Americans sue governments over laws that 'substantially burdens a person's exercise of religion.' Religious maniacs LOVE the RFRA and its progeny, like SCOTUS's Hobby Lobby decision, which broadened the RFRA's provisions and allowed corporations to claim exemptions from Rendering Unto Caesar where that interfered with the owners' faith. Guess what you get when you combine the RFRA, ALEC's restrictive abortion laws, and the Satanic Temple? That's right...SATANIC ABORTIONS. A Satanic Abortion is a religious ritual that is totally indistinguishable from a normal, medical abortion, except that the participant says a few self-affirming words about her bodily autonomy. Oh, also: the ritual absolutely forbids, as a bedrock matter of religious conviction, any waiting periods, the withholding of medically necessary advice, mandatory counseling, required readings, and unnecessary sonograms. Also forbidden: mandatory fetal heartbeat listening sessions and compulsory fetal burials. If you want an abortion and the doctor tries this bullshit, hand them one of these exemption letters explaining how the law doesn't apply thanks to the RFRA. Now, the religious right could fight this. But if they win...they overturn the RFRA, and Hobby Lobby has to provide its employees with contraception and all the other theocratic exemptions go poof, too." There's a bit more, and you can go to the tweet to get Cory's links to citations.

RIP: "Pete Hamill, celebrated New York newspaper columnist, dies aged 85: Self-taught ‘giant of journalism' wrote on everything from baseball to the war in Vietnam and mixed with America's elite. Pete Hamill, the self-taught, streetwise newspaper columnist whose love affair with New York inspired a colorful and uniquely influential journalistic career and produced several books of fiction and non-fiction, died on Wednesday morning. He was 85. Hamill died at a Brooklyn hospital from heart and kidney failure, his brother Denis confirmed in an email. [...] Hamill found his way on to President Richard Nixon's 'enemies list'. In a column, Hamill said the president shared the blame for the 1970 shootings at Kent State University by calling campus dissenters 'bums'. Vice-President Spiro Agnew called the column 'irrational ravings', and Hamill borrowed the phrase for the title of a 1971 collection of his columns."

RIP: Olivia de Havilland, Golden Age of Hollywood star, dies at 104 [...] De Havilland's career spanned more than 50 years and almost 50 feature films, and she was the last surviving actor from Gone with the Wind (1939)." And oh, how we loved her in Captain Blood. (The other headliners in GWTW died a lifetime ago. Leslie Howard was gone a decade before I was born, and Hattie MacDaniel died in my first year of life. Clarke Gable died in 1960 and Vivian Leigh was the last to go, in 1967, until now. That's a helluva span for a helluva woman.)

RIP: Peter Green, 73: Peter Green, who has died aged 73, was one of the guitar-playing greats of 1960s blues-rock as well as a gifted songwriter. He was a founder of Fleetwood Mac and although he was with the band for less than three years they became one of Britain's leading acts during that time. Their singles of that period, including the Green compositions "Black Magic Woman", "Albatross", "Man of the World", "Oh Well" and "The Green Manalishi", remain some of the most cherished releases of the era and the band was beginning to display major international potential by the time he quit in May 1970."

RIP: "John Saxon, Enter the Dragon, Nightmare on Elm Street Actor, Dies at 83 [...] Saxon died of pneumonia in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, his wife, Gloria, told The Hollywood Reporter." I can remember when John Saxon seemed to be in just about everything, from science fiction movies to medical shows to those teen movies with Sal Mineo. He was even in Bonanza a few times and Gunsmoke a few more. He did The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rockford and pretty much everything else that was going at one time or another.

RIP: Sir Alan Parker, director, writer, and producer, at 76: "Although Parker directed only two bona fide British productions — Bugsy Malone (1976) and Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982) — in 1998 he was appointed chairman of the board of governors of the British Film Institute (BFI) and in 1999 first chairman of the Film Council."

RIP: Annie Ross, jazz singer, at 89: "It was her spirited marriage of the instrument-mimicking 50s 'vocalese' singing style that set her musical career alight as a 22-year-old in 1952, with a version of Wardell Gray's instrumental song 'Twisted'. Ross added a sardonically funny lyric that reflected both her abandoned-child anxieties and her self-possessed intelligence, featuring lines such as: 'My analyst told me that I was right out of my head/he said I'd need treatment but I'm not that easily led'."

Matt Karp interviews Matthew E. Stanley about the AbeBros: "Lincoln's Paramilitaries, the Wide Awakes, Fought Slavery"

"How To Pretend That You Are Smart: There is a difference between assertion and argument, but a lot of highly credentialed people do not notice when they're just stating their prejudices rather than proving anything. Today we are going to look at two examples of men with PhDs from Harvard making asses of themselves without realizing it. We are going to see how things that are wrong, unproven, nonsensical, or bigoted are presented as insight, and Very Smart Men are often not actually very smart at all. That will probably not come as a surprise to you, but what I want to demonstrate here is how easy it is to disguise one's unfounded opinions or prejudices as scholarly musings."

"The Reason Americans Don't Trust Experts — Economists [...] Specifically, the fact that economists told middle America since at least the 1980s that free trade would be good for everyone in America, and that anyone who said otherwise was an ignorant rube who didn't understand basic economic 'science.' The economists who incessantly proffered this view were 'experts' from the most prestigious schools in America—Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Georgetown, the University of Chicago, and the like. They claimed it was a settled argument, and that economics had 'proven' it beyond the shadow of a doubt through equations as surely as we had proven the movements of the stars and planets. Even the way they framed the argument backed this up. They invoked the 'Law' of comparative advantage, suggesting that this was a law of the universe on par with those of physics or chemistry. Anyone who disputed it might just was well believe that water runs uphill or the earth is flat, they claimed (although they weren't above invoking a little magic on occasion) [...] Businesses that had been the cornerstones of communities for many generations began to disappear left and right. They either lost out in the newly globalized struggle for profits and went under; moved most of their operations overseas to take advantage of cheaper labor; or were bought out in the accompanying wave of financialization and were 'restructured.' In each and every instance, these businesses—formerly the sources of prosperity for so many Americans—were gone, never to return. This happened throughout the eighties and nineties."

Matt Taibbi reviews Thomas Frank's The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism: Author Thomas Frank predicted the modern culture war, and he was right about Donald Trump, but don't expect political leaders to pay attention to his new book about populism. [...] Since the establishment of this template, Frank notes, 'virtually everyone who writes on the subject agrees that populism is ‘anti-pluralist,' by which they mean that it is racist or sexist or discriminatory in some way... Populism's hatred for ‘the elite,' meanwhile, is thought to be merely a fig leaf for this ugly intolerance.' Trump and Bernie Sanders both got hit with every cliché described in Frank's book. Both were depicted as xenophobic, bigoted, emotion-laden, resistant to modernity, susceptible to foreign influence, and captured by 'unrealistic' ideas they lacked the expertise to implement." And Matt and Katie interviewed him about populism on Useful Idiots.

"The Unraveling of America: Anthropologist Wade Davis on how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era [...] For the first time, the international community felt compelled to send disaster relief to Washington. For more than two centuries, reported the Irish Times, 'the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the U.S. until now: pity.' [...] At the root of this transformation and decline lies an ever-widening chasm between Americans who have and those who have little or nothing. Economic disparities exist in all nations, creating a tension that can be as disruptive as the inequities are unjust. In any number of settings, however, the negative forces tearing apart a society are mitigated or even muted if there are other elements that reinforce social solidarity — religious faith, the strength and comfort of family, the pride of tradition, fidelity to the land, a spirit of place. But when all the old certainties are shown to be lies, when the promise of a good life for a working family is shattered as factories close and corporate leaders, growing wealthier by the day, ship jobs abroad, the social contract is irrevocably broken. For two generations, America has celebrated globalization with iconic intensity, when, as any working man or woman can see, it's nothing more than capital on the prowl in search of ever cheaper sources of labor."

"Reaganland Is the Riveting Conclusion to a Story That Still Isn't Over: Rick Perlstein's epic series shows political history and cultural history cannot be disentangled. [...] The Carter years, and Reagan's place within them, are the subject of historian Rick Perlstein's latest book, Reaganland: America's Right Turn, 1976-1980. At more than 1,100 pages, Reaganland is the fourth and final volume of Perlstein's massive, sweeping history of American conservatism in the postwar era, following Before the Storm, Nixonland, and 2014's The Invisible Bridge, which tracked Reagan's trajectory from the early 1970s up to his own unsuccessful primary challenge of Gerald Ford in 1976. Reaganland is terrific, a work whose characteristic insight and soaring ambition make it a fitting and resonant conclusion to Perlstein's astounding achievement. I think most Americans, regardless of political affiliation, would agree that the effects of the Reagan Revolution are still with us and that in many senses Reaganland is still the place we all live."

Petition for the emoji the internet needs.

"As a cop, I killed someone. Then I found out it happens more often than we know: I'm a former officer who studies police violence. Most databases vastly undercount the number of civilians killed by US police."

"Chris Frantz: 'If you knew David Byrne, you would not be jealous of him': The ex-Talking Heads drummer talks about his revealing new book Remain in Love and a contentious relationship with the band's frontman."

"My Science Fiction Rabbi: How the prolific writer Barry N. Malzberg showed me my passion was just Judaism in a spacesuit."

"#BillBlur Bill Burr - Black Friends, Clothes & Harlem REACTION" - Black kid watches white guy comedian talk about....

"Is Betty Boop black? Yes and no."

Alex Ross: Making the Marvel Mural

It's truly the best dance routine of all time, and I've watched it over and over in black and white, but this colorized version looks even sharper. "Stormy Weather in color - The Nicholas Brothers and Cab Calloway | Colorized with DeOldify".

Well, this just totally tickled me.

The Rolling Stones, "Gimme Shelter"