Wednesday, September 16, 2020

I'm thinking about the fireworks

Must-listen: I hate making a video the top news item, but Richard Wolff's discussion of what our leaders have planned for us is absolutely terrifying. Not only are we already in a downward cascade, but they're pulling out all the stops on how miserable your life can be made by the same creatures who are no longer dependent on us as consumers since they are now directly funded by the government. Ah, but don't worry, Nancy Pelosi made sure that you get...74¢.Meanwhile, the CPFB has just announced a new rule allowing your dead relatives' creditors to harass you 40 times a week, while our government pours billions into corporations to play in the Big Casino. And neither Democrats nor Republicans are willing to discuss a jobs program. "USA political and economic collapse".

"Despite DNC focus on winning 'Biden Republicans,' poll suggests beating Trump is about Dem turnout: 'So much for going all out to get Republicans and shunning progressives.' Progressives are raising alarm over new poll results from CBS News out Tuesday, which suggest the Democratic Party's courting of moderate so-called "Biden Republicans" while sidelining popular progressive proposals and voices has not so far resulted in a groundswell of support for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden from disaffected GOP voters. In a poll taken between August 20 and 22, after the Democratic National Convention wrapped up last week, CBS found that just 5% of self-identified Republicans said they plan to vote for Biden in the November election; 93% said they were planning to vote for President Donald Trump. The president also led by 10 percentage points among Independent voters, who make up a plurality of U.S. voters. Justice Democrats spokesperson Waleed Shahid tweeted that the poll showed an "interesting dynamic" following a national convention at which the party gave more speaking time to anti-Trump Republicans including former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Secretary of State Colin Powell than they did to popular progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), as well as largely ignoring a number of key progressive policy proposals. [...] Biden's support within the GOP is now lower than the number of Republicans who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to the CBS poll, as well as those who voted for former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012."

Remember when Obama promised single-payer advocates a "compromise" of a public option, but it turned out he was just playing 11-dimensional chess against us? Well, "Biden's flexibility on policy could mean fierce fights if he wins: WILMINGTON, Del. — When Joe Biden released economic recommendations two months ago, they included a few ideas that worried some powerful bankers: allowing banking at the post office, for example, and having the Federal Reserve guarantee all Americans a bank account. But in private calls with Wall Street leaders, the Biden campaign made it clear those proposals would not be central to Biden's agenda. 'They basically said, "Listen, this is just an exercise to keep the Warren people happy, and don't read too much into it,"' said one investment banker, referring to liberal supporters of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). The banker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private talks, said that message was conveyed on multiple calls."

"House Democrats, Working With Liz Cheney, Restrict Trump's Planned Withdrawal of Troops From Afghanistan and Germany: The bipartisan commitment to using Russia for endless war and imperialism remains vibrant. THE U.S. MILITARY HAS BEEN fighting in Afghanistan for almost nineteen years. House Democrats, working in tandem with key pro-war GOP lawmakers such as Rep. Liz Cheney, are ensuring that continues. Last night, the House Armed Services Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of an amendment — jointly sponsored by Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado and Congresswoman Cheney of Wyoming — prohibiting the expenditure of monies to reduce the number of U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan below 8,000 without a series of conditions first being met. The imposed conditions are by no means trivial: for these troop reductions from Afghanistan to be allowed, the Defense Department must be able to certify, among other things, that leaving Afghanistan 'will not increase the risk for the expansion of existing or formation of new terrorist safe havens inside Afghanistan' and 'will not compromise or otherwise negatively affect the ongoing United States counter terrorism mission against the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and associated forces.'"

"KY Prosecutors Offer Breonna Taylor's Ex-Boyfriend Plea Deal to Name Taylor in Drug Case: In Louisville, Kentucky, prosecutors reportedly offered Breonna Taylor's ex-boyfriend a plea deal if he named Taylor as a member of an alleged 'organized crime syndicate' in return for leniency on drug charges. Jamarcus Glover turned down the plea deal. Prosecutors on Monday denied naming Breonna Taylor as a co-defendant in Glover's case and argued a document leaked on social media was just a draft as part of early negotiations. An attorney for Taylor's family who posted the photo on Facebook said it was a 'desperate' attempt by prosecutors to justify Taylor's killing. Protests have been ongoing to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency room technician, who was fatally shot by Louisville police in her own home in March. The officers involved in her killing have not been charged."

"Elon Musk Thinks His Treatment of Workers Is a 'Trade Secret': A wonky California legislative fight is a test of whether green jobs will be good jobs, too. Leave it to Elon Musk and his ilk to show that paying companies to create good, green jobs is easier said than done. Right now, his companies are opposing a California bill that will allow the public to access data on wages, benefits, and working conditions that they already provide to the state as a condition of public subsidy and procurement contracts. From the Green New Deal to Joe Biden's campaign platform, any measures proposing to pay corporations to create well-paid clean energy jobs would need public oversight to ensure follow-through. But as this tense, wonky fight in the Californian statehouse is showing, even the greenest parts of Corporate America may not be up for such transparency. Until now, companies with state and local contracts in California have claimed that wages, working conditions, and other hiring and employment information constitute proprietary 'trade secrets' exempt from state disclosure rules and the California Public Records Act, or CPRA. Senate Bill 749 aims to close that loophole, making the information companies already provide to state agencies as a condition of public subsidies and procurement contracts subject to public records requests. Opposition to SB 749 has been led by the California Manufacturers Technology Association, a trade lobby including Musk's Tesla, as well as the California Chamber of Commerce, SpaceX, and several defense contractors, including Raytheon and Northrop Grumman. In addition to complaints about making alleged trade secrets public, they've argued through public letters and calls to legislators that such rules could require companies to disclose 'potentially dangerous information related to the supply chains, staffing, and even the location of specific projects with national defense implications,' according to a floor alert about SB 749 sent to legislators by groups opposed to the bill. But the state's public records rules already include several protections against disclosing information with national security implications, which aren't under the purview of the trade secrets loopholes contested by SB 749."

"Appeals court temporarily halts protections for journalists, legal observers in Portland: A three-judge panel on Thursday temporarily halted protections for journalists and legal observers covering the unrest In Portland, Oregon. Last week, federal Judge Michael Simon ruled that journalists and legal observers were exempt from federal officers' physical force, arrest or other treatment if the officers "reasonably know" that a person is a journalist or legal observer. But in a 2-1 decision, the judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, agreed with the government that Judge Simon's initial ruling was too broad. 'Given the order's breadth and lack of clarity, particularly in its non-exclusive indicia of who qualifies as 'Journalists' and 'Legal Observers,' appellants have also demonstrated that, in the absence of a stay, the order will cause irreparable harm to law enforcement efforts and personnel," two of the three judges wrote. "This means that journalists could be subjected to the same physical force as that of the individuals participating.'"

"The Pentagon has ordered Stars and Stripes to shut down for no good reason: Even for those of us who are all too wearily familiar with President Donald Trump's disdain for journalists, his administration's latest attack on the free press is a bit of a jaw-dropper. In a heretofore unpublicized recent memo, the Pentagon delivered an order to shutter Stars and Stripes, a newspaper that has been a lifeline and a voice for American troops since the Civil War. The memo orders the publisher of the news organization (which now publishes online as well as in print) to present a plan that 'dissolves the Stars and Stripes' by Sept. 15 including "specific timeline for vacating government owned/leased space worldwide.' 'The last newspaper publication (in all forms) will be September 30, 2020,' writes Col. Paul Haverstick Jr., the memo's author."

"How millions from Uber and Lyft are funding the harassment of a critic: Veena Dubal has spent much of her professional career examining and writing about the rise of the gig economy and the loss of employment rights by workers in that sector. An associate professor at UC Hastings law school, Dubal has been an outspoken supporter of AB5, the California law designed to rein in those employment abuses, including those by the ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft. She's also a critic of Proposition 22, the initiative funded chiefly by Uber and Lyft aimed at overturning AB5. As a result of her criticism of Uber, Lyft and the gig economy business model, Dubal has become the target of harassment on Twitter, some of it obscene and some of it overtly encouraged by the Yes on Proposition 22 campaign, which is heavily funded by Uber and Lyft. Her home address has been published online, which prompted her local police department to start regular patrols around her home. She has been falsely accused of having written AB5 and having had a 'hand' in the 2018 California Supreme Court decision that led to AB5."

What if Trump could do something to give red meat to his base and piss off the libs - and it would be a good thing? "Trump orders crackdown on federal antiracism training, calling it 'anti-American': Memo directs officials to identify spending related to training on "critical race theory' and "white privilege'" — It would be a blessing to get rid of this stuff, which does nothing but treat minorities as "others" who have to be constantly placated while distracting from the larger issues that make the concrete lives of minorities (and many whites!) miserable.

"What is happening to Portland?: Summer, which was once characterized by waterfront festivals, is now just the time of the year when right-wing provocateurs come here looking for trouble. These demonstrations are planned in advance, many times calling for people to attend from across the nation, and often it is Patriot Prayer who organizes them. Patriot Prayer is a far-right group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as containing 'violent extremists' and, like many other far-right groups that stage these events, most of their members do not live in Portland. Instead, the monthly (and sometimes weekly) far right demonstrations held here are typically full of out-of-town individuals, many of whom are armed with weapons. And once assembled, they shout insults and slurs at nearby locals. And that's on a good day. Many times these events also devolve into violence. If the goal was to recruit and persuade the people of Portland, it is a poor strategy. But that does not appear to be their purpose. Rather, the goal appears to be provocation and intimidation."

"Under Trump the NLRB Has Gone Completely Rogue: An agency founded to defend workers' rights is dismantling them just when workers need them most. [...] The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a New Deal agency established by Congress to implement and enforce the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the law giving most private-sector workers the right to join together and take action, whether through forming a formal union or not, to improve their pay, benefits, and working conditions. These rights are more relevant now than ever, as demonstrated by the recent wave of strikes and job actions by health care workers and workers at Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and other companies. Workers have taken to the streets, started petition drives, and made bargaining demands in an effort to get their employers to provide safety equipment and institute other measures to protect them from workplace exposure to the Covid-19. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, worker interest in organizing unions was on the rise, with the percentage of nonunion workers saying they would vote for a union if given the chance up 50 percent from a similar poll 25 years ago. The board is currently composed of three white male NLRB members and another white male general counsel (prosecutor)'all Republicans, three with careers representing corporations and one as a Republican Capitol Hill staffer. Both Democratic seats are currently vacant. There is nobody currently on the NLRB with experience representing workers or unions. Through these appointees, an agency that is supposed to protect workers' right to organize has taken the law in exactly the opposite direction. In decision after decision, the NLRB has stripped workers of their protections under the law, restricted their ability to organize at their workplace, slowed down the union election process to give employers more time to campaign against the union, repealed rules holding employers accountable for their actions, and undermined workers' bargaining rights.

"Possible evidence found for life on Venus: The best evidence for life beyond Earth has been found in the most surprising of places — the atmosphere of Venus. A team led by Jane Greaves, who is a professor at Cardiff University, has detected the presence of phosphine gas in Venus' clouds. The intriguing thing about phosphine, which is a molecule formed of three hydrogen atoms and one phosphorous atom, is that on Earth its only natural source is from some anaerobic (i.e., non-oxygen breathing) microbial lifeforms. No known geological mechanism or non-biological chemical reaction produces it on our planet, although it is produced deep inside gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn where hydrogen is plentiful and the temperature and pressure extremely high."

RIP: "David Graeber, anthropologist and author of Bullshit Jobs, dies aged 59: David Graeber, anthropologist and anarchist author of bestselling books on bureaucracy and economics including Bullshit Jobs: A Theory and Debt: The First 5,000 Years, has died aged 59. On Thursday Graeber's wife, the artist and writer Nika Dubrovsky, announced on Twitter that Graeber had died in hospital in Venice the previous day. In a statement, Graeber's publisher, Penguin Random House, said that the cause of death was not yet known. Renowned for his biting and incisive writing about bureaucracy, politics and capitalism, Graeber was a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement and professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics (LSE) at the time of his death. The historian Rutger Bregman called Graeber 'one of the greatest thinkers of our time and a phenomenal writer', while the Guardian columnist Owen Jones called him 'an intellectual giant, full of humanity, someone whose work inspired and encouraged and educated so many'. " This is a terrible shock, he had sounded healthy and vital in recent interviews and to have him gone at a mere 59 years of age is really distressing. He was a hero for some of us.

RIP: "Diana Rigg, Avengers and Game of Thrones star, dies aged 82: Actor who played Emma Peel in hit spy series and James Bond's only wife was diagnosed with cancer in March." We loved Mrs. Peel and she was wonderful as Lady Tyrell. One great, great Dame.

RIP: Shere Hite, 77, "'She began the real sexual revolution for women': The pioneering feminist Shere Hite, known for her research on female sexuality, has died at the age of 77. She was best known for The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality, which has sold more than 50m copies since publication in 1976." She was important, although it didn't exactly answer my prayers to now have guys obsessing on muff-diving in an effort to give me an orgasm. I hate it when guys think they know how to "pleasure a woman", as if we were all identical. Reality is that most guys may like sloppy kisses but some guys don't, and most women don't like sloppy kisses although some women do, and sex is like that all over the place and you can't read a book and know what that particular person is going to like. But bless Shere Hite for telling the world that reproductive sex isn't necessarily the optimal road to female orgasm.

RIP: "Joan Feynman, Who Shined Light on the Aurora Borealis, Dies at 93: Joan Feynman grew up in the shadow of her older brother, the brilliant scientist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman. When she expressed interest in following in his footsteps, her mother crushed the impulse. 'My mother warned me, "Women's brains can't do science,"' Ms. Feynman recalled in a 2018 speech at the California Institute of Technology. Despite those discouraging words, Ms. Feynman went on to become a world-famous astrophysicist. She predicted sunspot cycles and figured out how many high-energy particles were likely to hit a spacecraft over its lifetime, allowing the space industry to design satellites and capsules with greater longevity. Her crowning achievement was understanding solar activity and its influence on Earth, including auroras, those dazzling, psychedelic displays of colors — known as the aurora borealis in the Northern Hemisphere and the aurora australis in the Southern — that inflame the night skies."

"People worry that 'moderate' Democrats like Joe Biden are the same as Republicans. Our study suggests they may be right [...] When it comes to addressing climate change, Eric Levitz of New York Magazine argued that 'a major [obstacle] is the tendency of moderate Democrats to mistake their own myopic complacency for heroic prudence'. Political researcher David Adler found that across Europe and North America, centrists are the least supportive of democracy, the least committed to its institutions, and the most supportive of authoritarianism. Furthermore, Adler found that centrists are the least supportive of free and fair elections as well as civil rights — in the United States, only 25 percent of centrists agree that civil rights are an essential feature of democracy. [...] This IDEALS finding is on par with a recent Gallup study encompassing over 29,000 interviews with American adults, which revealed that moderates and conservatives remain closely aligned in their ideological preferences. This raises important questions heading into the election: Is a moderate male candidate a bait-and-switch for Democratic voters? Are they actually casting their votes for a conservative?"

Branko Marcetic on the RNC, "Last Night's GOP Insanity Proves How Much the Two Parties Need Each Other: The lunacy on display at last night's Republican National Convention is what keeps frightened liberal voters satisfied with the meager crumbs of progress offered by the Democrats — and the meagerness of those crumbs is what keeps working-class whites inside an increasingly lunatic GOP."

"The carbon footprint sham: A 'successful, deceptive' PR campaign" — You're not the big polluter, but the big polluters sure want you to think so.

"Michael Hudson: How an 'Act of God' Pandemic Is Destroying the West: The U.S. Is Saving the Financial Sector, Not the Economy: Yves here. Michael Hudson explains how the American fixation on protecting creditors is making our bad response to the coronacrisis even worse. And unlike the 2008 crisis, this time the damage to the real economy is overwhelming, meaning the logic of putting financial firms at the head of the line is even weaker than back then. Before juxtaposing the U.S. and alternative responses to the coronavirus's economic effects, I would like to step back in time to show how the pandemic has revealed a deep underlying problem. We are seeing the consequences of Western societies painting themselves into a debt corner by their creditor-oriented philosophy of law. Neoliberal anti-government (or more accurately, anti-democratic) ideology has centralized social planning and state power in 'the market,' meaning specifically the financial market on Wall Street and in other financial centers."

"Democrats Have Failed Urban Black Americans: The Republican critique of misrule in American cities has some merit, and it's not clear that Joe Biden's party is prepared to meet the need: On the first night of the Republican National Convention on Monday, viewers were treated to a taped speech by Kimberly Klacik, a young, Black candidate for Maryland's 7th House district, which includes a large share of Baltimore. She won't be among the convention's best-remembered appearances, but she did manage to capsulize much of Trump's message for Black urban voters in just two short minutes. 'Let me remind you that Democrats have controlled this part of Baltimore City for over 50 years,' she said. 'And they have run this beautiful place right into the ground. Abandoned buildings, liquor stores on every corner, drug addicts, guns on the street—that's now the norm in many neighborhoods. You'd think Maryland taxpayers would be getting a whole lot since our taxes are out of control. Instead, we're paying for decades of incompetence and corruption. Sadly, this same cycle of decay exists in many of America's Democrat-run cities.' [...] It goes without saying that nothing in Klacik's 300-word platform would solve the deep problems facing Baltimore or any city. Tax incentives that flow largely to well-off neighborhoods and school choice policies aren't going to undo decades of socioeconomic and structural decay in poor communities. We know this because Democrats have tried them; the failures Klacik points to have been efforts to do exactly as she recommends now. We know too that the dismantling of the federal welfare state and mass incarceration failed to revive poor communities and that the Republican Party remains a central obstacle to federal urban investment. The question is what Democrats will attempt now to turn the page."

"The New Face of Union-Busting: Anti-labor strategies with a liberal twist [...] Over the years, the anti-union industrial complex has evolved into a lucrative field unto itself; it's not all brash targeted firings and stuffy, captive audience meetings anymore. Some solutions are quieter, sneakier, and more suited to the image that outwardly progressive or even 'social justice'-oriented organizations seek to convey. Whether it's hiring a very specific kind of law firm, chiseling away at a new union's bargaining unit to lessen its impact, or forcing workers to jump through the hoop of holding a secret ballot election instead of just voluntarily recognizing their union, these more genteel tactics can be just as effective as those wielded by old-fashioned strikebreakers, even if they're no longer quite as violent."

"Larry Flynt: My Final Farewell to the Falwells: When I heard that Jerry Falwell Jr. had resigned the presidency of Liberty University in disgrace, it struck me as the belated ending to a long personal saga with the Falwell clan— and an essential footnote to the role of religion and free speech in America. For those unfamiliar with ancient history, it began in the 1970s, soon after I started publishing Hustler."

This is a few years old from Steve Brust, but it's a pretty sharp retort to the claim that Obama was helpless because of the Republicans. "President Obama's Legacy in his Own Words Except Not."

"Mick Jagger demanded penis apology from Keith Richards as 'prerequisite' to Rolling Stones reunion." It's not really a very interesting story but it was just amusing to have that headline show up on my screen.

"One American Wrote Most of Scots Wikipedia. And They Got It All Wrong. [...] A wiki with tens of thousands of entries in what's supposed to be the Scots language — and they were nearly all written by one, very prolific and very American person. A person — who does not speak Scots. [...] 'This is going to sound incredibly hyperbolic and hysterical but I think this person has possibly done more damage to the Scots language than anyone else in history.'"

Terry Carr's last public appearance at ConFederation, the 1986 Worldcon, in Atlanta.

"The Glorias | Official Teaser

The Pretenders, "Don't Get Me Wrong" (official music video)

1 comment:

  1. You know, you really need to prune your blogroll. I checked on some of the "Left" entries, and one had the latest entry in 2005, another in 2003. Just sayin'. I love your blog, but wish you were able to post new entries more often.

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