Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What hijacked my world that night?

I see a lot of people talking about Trump's Supreme Court nominee's weird and anti-constitutional religious views, but she also seems bent on creating the kind of society that God always liked to "smite" in the Bible. "Barrett Crushed Gig Workers Weeks Before Likely SCOTUS Nomination: In August, the likely Trump nominee delivered a key ruling blocking many gig workers from suing in court when tech companies deny them overtime pay. That ruling was one of a number of cases in which Barrett helped corporate interests prevail over workers. Her highest-profile business-focused actions on the federal bench have limited the enforcement of age-discrimination laws, restricted federal agencies power to punish companies that mislead consumers and reduced consumers' rights against predatory debt collectors, according to a recent report from the Alliance for Justice." She would be the third member of the Supremes to have helped Bush steal the 2000 election, with Roberts and Kavenaugh.

And wait, there's more! Nathan Robinson read all her court decisions and they told him "Why Amy Coney Barrett Should Not Be On The Supreme Court

"If You Think Amy Coney Barrett Is Extreme, Meet Judy Shelton: Trump's nominee to the Federal Reserve has gotten a lot less publicity. But her desire to return the US to the gold standard and eliminate federal deposit insurance could destroy the economy. [...] But Shelton doesn't believe in the idea of a Federal Reserve system, or indeed any power of government to determine the value or supply of money. In her 1994 book Money Meltdown, Shelton argued that the United States should 'repeal all current federal legal tender laws,' (p. 301) which would return the US financial system to its crazy-quilt pre-Civil War status, when states, banks, and companies could all issue their own money. She advocates eliminating the Federal Reserve's open market operations and ending the Fed's ability to hold government debt—the very tools that Powell and previous Fed chairs have used to try to keep and get us out of recessions. All of these extremist views are in service of reinstating a version of the gold standard, in which the dollar is tied to a specific amount of gold (as was the case in the Bretton Woods international financial system, which ended in 1971) and gold coins would be widely circulated. [...] Shelton has also taken the scary position that the US government should not guarantee bank deposits, a confidence-boosting safeguard that dates back to the Great Depression; some version of deposit insurance exists in every major economy in the world. To Shelton, federal deposit insurance 'undermines the integrity of the banking industry in the United States by steering it in the direction of excessively risky loan portfolios.' As for your savings account, Shelton wants to disabuse you of 'the mistaken notion that funds deposited in interest-bearing accounts at banking institutions can be thought of as being safe.'(pp. 305-6) Or at least that's what Shelton wrote in her 1994 book. When questioned during a February Senate hearing, Shelton said 'I totally support federal deposit insurance. We've had it since 1933.' Little wonder that senators accused her of a 'confirmation conversion.'"

"Pelosi Can Save Obamacare With a One-Line Amendment: By repealing the individual mandate, which is now functionally inert, the House Speaker can invalidate a push to eliminate the Affordable Care Act."

"Khaled El Masri stands up to CIA on intimidation, supports Assange during extradition trial: El Masri declared, 'I record here my belief that without dedicated and brave exposure of the state secrets in question what happened to me would never have been acknowledged and understood.' He added threats and intimidation are 'not diminishing but expanding for all concerned.' 'I nevertheless believe that the exposure of what happened was necessary not just for myself but for law and justice worldwide. My story is not yet concluded.' As El Masri noted, he submitted testimony because 'WikiLeaks publications were relied on by the [European Court of Human Rights] in obtaining the redress' he received."

Workers' rights are on the ballot in California — and on the table everywhere. Fascinating interview with Marshall Steinbaum on The Michael Brooks Show.

Thomas Frank is giving interviews on his latest book, The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism, and did a great free-wheeling interview with Sam Seder on The Majority Report, and another with Anton Jäger at Jacobin. I had fun listening to them.

"Gas Companies Are Abandoning Their Wells, Leaving Them to Leak Methane Forever: Just one orphaned site in California could have emitted more than 30 tons of methane. There are millions more like it

"A new report showing that US state-level voter databases were publicly available calls into question the narrative that Russian intelligence 'targeted' US state election-related websites in 2016. [...] In fact both un-redacted and redacted state voter files are obviously widely available on the dark web as well as elsewhere on the internet. Meduza, a Russian-language news site based in Riga, Latvia, published the Kommersant story along with an 'anonFiles' download portal for access to the Michigan voter database and a page from it showing that it is the officially redacted version. The DHS and the FBI both acknowledged in response to the Kommersant story that 'a lot of voter registration data is publicly available or easily purchased.'" I'd wondered about that myself, since I didn't have to sign in or offer any personal information to check my registration online.

"US Poverty Measure Fails to Meet Government Standards of Reliability, Accuracy, Timeliness, and Objectivity There are many reasons why the Census Bureau's statement is utterly unreliable and inaccurate, but here are the two most important ones. The poverty line used by the Census Bureau to produce this figure is 1) much lower than the amount of income most Americans say is needed to not be poor in today's America; and, 2) much lower than any reasonable expert estimate of the goods and services it takes to not be poor today." I believe I've remarked before on how ridiculously low the so-called "poverty line" is.

Craig Murray and others have been doing daily coverage of the extradition hearing of Julian Assange. Day 9: Things became not merely dramatic in the Assange courtroom today, but spiteful and nasty. There were two real issues, the evidence and the procedure. On the evidence, there were stark details of the dreadful regime Assange will face in US jails if extradited. On the procedure, we saw behaviour from the prosecution QC that went well beyond normal cross examination and was a real attempt to denigrate and even humiliate the witness. I hope to prove that to you by a straightforward exposition of what happened today in court, after which I shall add further comment."

"FinCEN Files: All you need to know about the documents leak: Leaked documents involving about $2tn of transactions have revealed how some of the world's biggest banks have allowed criminals to move dirty money around the world. They also show how Russian oligarchs have used banks to avoid sanctions that were supposed to stop them getting their money into the West. It's the latest in a string of leaks over the past five years that have exposed secret deals, money laundering and financial crime."

"Global banks defy U.S. crackdowns by serving oligarchs, criminals and terrorists: The FinCEN Files show trillions in tainted dollars flow freely through major banks, swamping a broken enforcement system."

"Strategic Aims Behind The War On Armenia" — I don't even want to write about this, but you might want to read it. It's all just too depressing.

"No Parks for the Poor: In the face of budget cuts, some land management agencies are ramping up user fees — and betraying the egalitarian promise of public lands. Livingston, Mont.—A while back I was loaf­ing around a camp­fire with a group of friends and strangers on the bank of one of this state's famous­ly beau­ti­ful rivers when the con­ver­sa­tion turned to the over­crowd­ing prob­lems on anoth­er of this state's famous­ly beau­ti­ful rivers. 'Is it too much to ask that we pay a small fee to use the pub­lic access sites on the riv­er?' offered a well-mean­ing and com­fort­ably wealthy retiree. 'I sure wouldn't mind.' Well, I do mind, and I think a lot of oth­er peo­ple do mind, too. Under­stand that it's not because I'm against con­ser­va­tion, or because I believe in human use of land above all else. In some cas­es I sup­port restrict­ing access to pub­lic land if it's cru­cial to pro­tect­ing wildlife habi­tat. What I'm against is con­ser­va­tion or facil­i­ty main­te­nance that depends on weed­ing out the poor."

"Bill Gates' Global Agenda and How We Can Resist His War on Life: Gates' 'funding' results in an erasure of democracy and biodiversity, of nature and culture. His 'philanthropy' is not just philanthrocapitalism. It is philanthroimperialism.

RIP: "Helen Reddy: Australian singer of feminist anthem 'I Am Woman' dies, at 78, "Reddy, who had Addison's disease and was diagnosed with dementia in 2015, spent the last years of her life in a celebrity care home in Los Angeles. She had a string of pop-rock hits in the 1970s, but is best known for the 1972 anthem 'I Am Woman' - which became prominent in the women's liberation movement."

RIP: "Stephen F. Cohen, Influential Historian of Russia, Dies at 81, of lung cancer. His wife, Katerina vanden Heuval, has a more personal tribute at The Nation.

RIP: Ruth Bader Ginsburg: US Supreme Court judge dies of cancer, aged 87." I know a lot of people loved her, and I certainly don't look forward to the GOP getting another one of their lunatics on Supreme Court, but she was a "moderate", which means she was really pretty conservative, and a lot of her votes did harm to America. So, no, I didn't cry when I heard the news. She was no Thurgood Marshall, no John Paul Stevens. Back in 2016, David Kinder wrote a review of Notorious RBG, "The Rise Of The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Cult: How a wizened, middle-of-the-road jurist became a T-shirt icon for millennial feminists," and made a convincing case that she wasn't all that. It's full of tidbits like this: "In Slate, Mark Joseph Stern contrasted Sotomayor's perceptiveness about police and prisons issues with Ginsburg's indifference: 'When it comes to understanding the systemic flaws and violent behavior of America's criminal justice system, there's no one quite like Justice Sonia Sotomayor... Sorry, Notorious R.B.G. groupies, but [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] has a bit of a law-and-order streak.' (This despite Sotomayor being an ex-prosecutor, while Ginsburg worked for the ACLU.)"

"Anosognosiogenesis @pookleblinky on Twitter: "Every heartwarming human interest story in america is like "he raised $20,000 to keep 200 orphans from being crushed in the orphan-crushing machine" and then never asks why an orphan-crushing machine exists or why you'd need to pay to prevent it from being used."

"The radical mysticism of identitarian reductionism: A sect of liberalism seems to reject any influence of the material economy on human behavior. [...] It is hard to overstate how historically and ideologically bizarre — how breathtaking in its counterintuition and metaphysical ambition — this doctrine of identitarian reductionism actually is. This is not just the usual identitarian claim that there are causal forces in our politics that cannot, ultimately, be traced back to the material economy. This is a second declaration: that somehow, the material economy is not also playing a role in our politics. At all. The fear, misery, and bitterness of poverty; the anxiety over one's precarious standing in the so-called middle class; the insular luxury and jealous ambition of wealth; the concentration of wealth, the evaporation of jobs, and so on — none of this, evidently, plays any role whatsoever in the emergence of demographic tribalism, in interpersonal attitudes, in voting behavior, and so on. This is obviously not the socialist position, but it is not even an ordinary capitalist position. From Adam Smith to Rand Paul to Elizabeth Warren, liberals have always admitted a role for economic 'incentives' in shaping human behavior and political outcomes. 'It's the economy, stupid' was considered a central insight of Democratic politics for more than two decades. On the contrary, the sort of ontology one would have to construct to rationalize an absolute analytical bias against material causality seems to have little precedent outside of certain genres of religious mysticism. As noted, I think that identitarian reductionism is probably best understood as a historical consequence of Clinton 2016's campaign messaging: it is what happens when liberal pundits with massive corporate platforms popularize hardline, hyperbolic criticism of 'class reductionists' out of rhetorical convenience. This is not, in other words, some inevitable expression of liberal ideology — it's even weirder than that. And regardless, we're going to be living with it for a long time.

"Four Steps to Transform the Pharmaceutical Industry and Survive the Pandemic: Dealing with the Covid crisis will require taking the profit motive out of our health systems. Here's how."

At Black Agenda Report, "The Democrats' Supreme Failure [...] The Supreme Court is supposed to be the issue that ends all arguments. The fact that the Democrats mishandled this situation so badly is one of the reasons they have deified the late justice Ginsburg. They have to divert attention from the mess they created. The federal courts would not play such a large political role if the Democrats were serious about winning and keeping legislative majorities. When Barack Obama was president they lost more than 900 seats in state legislatures, the House of Representatives and the Senate. The loss of the Senate was particularly devastating. Ginsburg should have stepped down when Obama still had the Democratic Party control needed to nominate a replacement. Instead, the 80-year old who had already been diagnosed with cancer was supremely arrogant. In 2014 Ginsburg was dismissive of prudent calls for her to retire and said so publicly . 'So tell me who the president could have nominated this spring that you would rather see on the court than me?' Thanks to her hubris, Democrats are now caught in a mixture of panic and overly deferential mourning."

Scary interview (text and audio), "Fool Me Twice: How Democrats Risk Repeating The Mistakes Of The Financial Crisis In The Era Of Covid-19: Economist James Galbraith explains what the U.S. economy will need to get back on its feet.. [...] They believe that what they did in 2008, 2009, and 2010 worked; that they can pull the economy out through a short-term program of stimulus and then shift to retrenchment of one kind or another in the following years." And this is why it has been making me crazy for years to hear people insist that Obama heroically "saved" the economy when, in fact, he screwed the pooch on the financial crisis.

Katie Halper and Matt Taibbi did a terrific interview with Glenn Greenwald on Useful idiots where Glenn makes a lot of great points about the vapidity and unreliability of our discourse. One point worth emphasizing is that the same people who were outraged when the Sanders campaign posted a clip of Joe Rogan (who'd once had the temerity to wonder whether mtf transsexuals could fairly compete with female athletes) saying he was probably voting for Bernie were nevertheless happy to embrace Rick Snyder's endorsement, despite the fact that he is the man who poisoned the water in Flint, MI. Glenn also explains exactly what really happened with Reality Winner and why the version of the story most people have heard is nothing like the truth.

"The Prochoice Religious Community May Be the Future of Reproductive Rights, Access, and Justice: There is a vast prochoice religious community in the United States that could provide the moral, cultural, and political clout to reverse current antiabortion policy trends in the United States. Most, but not all, of this demographic are Christians and Jews. There are also deeply considered, theologically acceptable, prochoice positions and, therefore, prochoice people and institutions within all of major world religious traditions present in the United States, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Chinese traditions.1 Taken together, they have vast resources, institutional capacity, historic and central roles in many towns and cities, and cadres of well-educated leaders at every level—from national denominational offices to local congregational leaders, current and retired. This cohort is often measured by reputable pollsters and may actually comprise the majority or near majority of the religious community. Nevertheless, it is not well identified or sought out by the organized prochoice community, the media, and elected officials. What's more, this wide and diverse constituency is insufficiently organized by the prochoice religious community itself. But it could be. This essay will show that this demographic, and the institutions and traditions that inform it, may be the best hope for restoring and sustaining abortion rights, access, and justice in the United States at a time when the Christian Right and its allies in state and federal government are undermining and seeking to eliminate them."

This interview with George Farah, author of No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates is infuriating. Also includes an interview with Steve Silberstein on the fight to get rid of the Electoral College.

From 2014, "How the Rich Conquered the Economy, in One Chart" — The bottom 90% used to take the lion's share of income growth during expansions, but after 1980, this reversed, with the 90% getting a smaller and smaller bite of the growth until we get to the Obama years, when the 90% actually lost ground during the "expansion".

2017 in The Atlantic, "The Lost History of an American Coup D'État: Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina are locked in a battle over which party inherits the shame of Jim Crow. By the time the fire started, Alexander Manly had vanished. That didn't stop the mob of 400 people who'd reached his newsroom from making good on their promise. The crowd, led by a former congressman, had given the editor-in-chief an ultimatum: Destroy your newspaper and leave town forever, or we will wreck it for you. They burned The Daily Record to the ground. It was the morning of November 10, 1898, in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the fire was the beginning of an assault that took place seven blocks east of the Cape Fear River, about 10 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. By sundown, Manly's newspaper had been torched, as many as 60 people had been murdered, and the local government that was elected two days prior had been overthrown and replaced by white supremacists." Suzanne Mettler revisited this story on Tuesday's The Majority Report with Sam Seder.

The Straw Hat Riot: "A fashion faux pas turned violent in NYC's Straw Hat Riot. A bizarre incident in 1922 when the fashion police were supplanted by fashion vigilantes, out for blood. Like wearing white after Labor Day, wearing a straw boater after September 15 was a faux pas in 1920s America, and it was common practice for teenagers to knock straw hats off people's heads and stomp on them after that date. When, in 1922, a bunch of teenagers decided to start a few days early, things escalated quickly."

Noticed the old link that was there until maybe a few months ago has disappeared, but found a different one for "Operation Ignore".

The Avengers of Oz

Twilight Zone, the Lost Episode, with Jack Benny and Rod Serling.

"Nihilistic Password Security Questions"

Ray Manzarek on creating "Riders on the Storm"

Steve Cropper tells the story of how "Green Onions" came to be. And "Green Onions", 1962.

The Pretenders 2020, "Back on the Chain Gang". Chrissy Hynde was born in 1951.

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