Sunday, November 29, 2020

One seems to hear words of good cheer

Yes, it's Advent again, and time for "Carol of the Bells" to get us in the mood.

A funny thing happened when two Republicans on the Wayne County, MI board of canvassers refused to certify the election results. A couple of hours later, they changed their minds.

The American Prospect is keeping a Cabinet Watch of "Scoops and analysis on each of Biden's administration picks." And anyone who cares what happens to our country is terrified it's going to be Obama 2.0, but without the smooth comic styling.

"Krystal and Saagar: Biden's Floated Cabinet Is RETURN Of The Clinton-Obama Swamp"

This is a nightmare: "Rahm Emanuel under consideration to become Biden's transportation secretary: Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is under consideration to lead the department of transportation, people familiar with the matter say, a move that would enrage progressive activists if the former Illinois congressman and White House chief of staff in the Obama administration was ultimately nominated to join the President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet. Emanuel has expressed his interest in the post, telling allies that the nation's infrastructure challenges are so dire that a person with experience from the executive and legislative branch would be an asset."

"Philadelphia Apologizes For MOVE Bombing From 35 Years Ago: Thirty-five years ago, a police helicopter dropped a bomb on a Philadelphia rowhouse in a mostly Black neighborhood. Eleven people were killed. Five of them were children. The bomb lit an inferno that burned down more than 60 other houses, leaving hundreds of people homeless. This is now referred to as the MOVE bombing - MOVE for the Black liberation group by the same name that was targeted. Well, last Thursday the Philadelphia City Council passed a resolution that finally issues a formal apology. Philadelphia City Council member Jamie Gauthier, who represents the 3rd District, where the bombing occurred, helped draft the resolution and joins us now."

"How One of the Reddest States Became the Nation's Hottest Weed Market: Oklahoma entered the world of legal cannabis late, but its hands-off approach launched a boom and a new nickname: 'Toke-lahoma.' [...] What is happening in Oklahoma is almost unprecedented among the 35 states that have legalized marijuana in some form since California voters backed medical marijuana in 1996. Not only has the growth of its market outstripped other more established state programs but it is happening in a state that has long stood out for its opposition to drug use. Oklahoma imprisons more people on a per-capita basis than just about any other state in the country, many of them non-violent drug offenders sentenced to lengthy terms behind bars. But that state-sanctioned punitive streak has been overwhelmed by two other strands of American culture—a live-and-let-live attitude about drug use and an equally powerful preference for laissez-faire capitalism. 'Turns out rednecks love to smoke weed,' Baker laughs. 'That's the thing about cannabis: It really bridges socio-economic gaps. The only other thing that does it is handguns. All types of people are into firearms. All types of people are into cannabis.'"

"Disdain and Disbelief After Biden Claims 'Significant' Progressive Presence in Administration: Leftist politicians, pundits, and people also reacted with indignation after a Daily Beast article claimed progressives are satisfied with Biden's selections so far."

"Don't Get In The Van! Progressives Need An Alternative-- Pronto! I get a lot of crap spam every morning. This morning, I went into my spam folder and found an especially repulsive one. The subject line was "Hanging on for Life" and the header was "Jon Ossoff is pleading with Howie." It was sent by an outfit called the National Democratic Training Committee which was founded in 2016 by Democratic Party operative Kelly Dietrich, in coordination with NGP Van and failed DCCC chair Cheri Bustos. Let me come back to that in a moment. Since it was all about fundraising, I want to remind you that all the losing Schumer-backed candidates for the Senate out-raised their opponents, quite massively, this cycle. Basically, the money didn't do them any good. [...] For years I've been hearing a barrage of complaints about the parent organization, NGP Van. They are a monopoly. (The DNC, DSCC, DCCC and the state parties are constantly trying the blackball Target Smart, the closest thing there is to competition.) They are arbitrary about who gets their data-- usually state party chairs (or Democratic governors) decide. They are extremely hostile to progressives primarying incumbents. [...] Their data is uber-over-priced, way more expensive than the GOP charges its candidates. The data is stale to the point of uselessness. The Van itself is inflexible, especially when it comes to non-federal races,w here they don't even try. It gets worse. In a race between Blue America-endorsed progressive Democrat, John Laesch and Republican Richard Irvin for the hotly contested Aurora Mayoral race in Illinois' second-largest city, the Illinois Dems are openly supporting the Republican."

Whether the Democrats can take the Senate depends on convincing people to vote for someone who really shouldn't have even given this interview: "What Are We Supposed To Do For This Guy? Jon Ossoff's Uninspiring Campaign."

Meanwhile... Turns out the Republicans didn't much attack down-ticket "centrist" Dems with "Defund the Police" or charges of socialism, but for their association with Nancy Pelosi, and for corruption of which they were guilty. So, they weren't "too far left".

Bernie Sanders in the Guardian, "How do we avoid future authoritarians? Winning back the working class is key [...] But one thing is clear. If the Democratic party wants to avoid losing millions of votes in the future it must stand tall and deliver for the working families of our country who, today, are facing more economic desperation than at any time since the Great Depression. Democrats must show, in word and deed, how fraudulent the Republican party is when it claims to be the party of working families."

They say they're just censoring "fake news", Alex Jones, and QAnon, but that's not really who they are suppressing. The censorship is aimed at the left. "Meet the Censored: Andre Damon: Increased content moderation has been sold as a tool to control the far right, but the World Socialist Web Site was among the first to sound the alarm. [...] Many Americans didn't pay attention to new forms of content moderation until May, 2019, when a group of prominent tech platforms banned figures like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopolis. A legend quickly spread that such campaigns exclusively target the right. Long before then, however, the WSWS had been trying to sound the alarm about the impact of corporate speech moderation on dissenting voices on the progressive left. As far back as August of 2017, the WSWS sent an open letter to Google, demanding that it stop the 'political blacklisting' of their site, as well as others. Like many alternative news sites, WSWS noticed a steep decline in traffic in 2016-2017, after Donald Trump was elected and we began to hear calls for more regulation of 'fake news.' Determined to search out the reason, the site conducted a series of analyses that proved crucial in helping convince outlets like the New York Times to cover the issue. [...] At repeated hearings in Washington, figures like Mark Warner and Adam Schiff would demand over and over again that Google, Facebook, and Twitter censor left-wing content. It was all a clear and flagrant violation of the First Amendment, which says that Congress does not have the power to limit the freedom of expression. But here was Congress instigating private companies to do exactly that, and threatening to regulate or fine them if they did not comply."

Mark Steel, "Want a multimillion PPE payout from the government? Apparently, all you have to do is befriend a Tory MP: This year, more than any other, it's been vital to look after our friends and families. That's why it's so touching that the government has done exactly that, by awarding hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of contracts to their friends and families through the pandemic."

Ryan Cooper, with a meaty reaction to Obamaa's latest book in The Week, details the disaster that Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and Larry Summers brought us in "Obama the pretender [...] What went wrong? Obama attempts to grapple with the massive failures of his presidency in A Promised Land, his new memoir describing his rise to power and early presidency, but ultimately the book is slippery and unconvincing. America is circling the political toilet in part because Obama had the chance to fix many longstanding problems and did not rise to the occasion, a fact the former president is still stubbornly unwilling or unable to see. [...] It seemingly never occurred to Obama that responsibly addressing the crisis would have required doing politics instead of acting magnanimous towards a conservative Wall Street banker. Nor did Obama consider the idea that he could have used his leverage to make the bailout better, because Democrats would be making up most of the votes. Reed Hundt, a former Obama fundraiser, got administration economist Austan Goolsbee on the record in his book A Crisis Wasted admitting they could have gotten more concessions. "We could have forced more mortgage relief. We could have imposed tighter conditions on dividends and executive compensation," Goolsbee said. They just thought it would be irresponsible to use that leverage to extract concessions. In reality, it was irresponsible not to use this one chance to cut the banks' profitability and therefore power down to size, so the banking system could be fixed instead of just patched. It is hard to know what to make of all this. Definitely Obama is being dishonest either with the reader or himself in some cases. His record on foreclosures is so horrible that it cannot possibly be defended on the merits. It was morally abominable and politically idiotic. [...] All this blows apart Obama's pat self-justification as being too respectful of norms and traditions to take serious action. He considers and rejects some of the more radical options above, arguing that things like "nationalization of the banks, or stretching the definitions of criminal statutes to prosecute banking executives ... would have required a violence to the social order, a wrenching of political and economic norms, that almost certainly would have made things worse." In truth, letting 10 million people get thrown out of their homes to save a bunch of rich bankers from their own misdeeds did stupendous violence to the social order. Letting bankers get away with an assembly line production of document fraud was a severe wrenching of political and economic norms. It wouldn't have been a "stretch" of statutes to prosecute the thousands of Wall Street crimes — on the contrary, letting banks off with wrist-slap fines blew a ragged hole in the rule of law. It does not preserve our sainted norms and institutions to move heaven and earth to save job-killing financial parasites and then leave John Q. Homeowner twisting in the wind. The false assertion that doing so would have made things worse is straight out of The Rhetoric of Reaction. [...] Obama had a golden opportunity to knit the country back together after a disastrous Republican presidency and a brief moment of Wall Street helplessness. He didn't do so because he couldn't stomach the radical action necessary to heal the nation's wounds and repair the social contract, and instead invented a lot of excuses why he had to sit on his hands and do nothing. The name for such a person is a coward."

Even when he goes long-form, Atrios doesn't go on long, but he's definitely must-read. I'd like to quote nearly every sentence of this one for individual consideration. "I've Got The Feeling That Something Ain't Right: The Trump years have taught me that a lot of powerful people (in various power tracks) don't much believe in the fundamental importance of the consent of the governed. Democracy, I guess you could say. Sure we point at the authoritarian right, but many in the self-appointed Center see pesky voters as an impediment to what they imagine is good governance. They gaze at the militarized racism of the right and a mild redistributionist "social justice warrior" left and declare them to be just the same. Both just different flavors of "populism," you see, which we know is very bad indeed. The core belief of this authoritarian centrism is concern for minority rights. Not the rights of marginalized minorities, but of the elite and powerful. The establishment of a false meritocracy is how they justify it, with legacy admissions to the most elite institutions and widespread basic nepotism the most obvious manifestations of this basic lie. [...] The authoritarian center finds much more common ground with the MAGAs. The joke is they hate socialists more than they hate fascists, but really it's more that they are friendly fascists who tolerate the racists, who ultimately don't threaten them as long as they pipe down a bit, and despise the socialists who do." Really, read the rest.

"Is the Gates Foundation Supporting Child Labor in Africa??" Pretty creepy to see a "sponsored" op-ed in the Guardian in support of the commercial exploitation of children based on the idea that kids learn life skills doing their home chores.

Margaret Sullivan reads Obama's book and remarks on "What Obama gets right — and very wrong — about the media: Everybody's a media critic these days — and Barack Obama is an astute one. But for those who remember certain aspects of his presidency, he's got a bit of a credibility problem. [...] But before we herald the former president as some sort of media visionary, let's cast our minds back to his own administration's record with the press. Here's how I'd sum it up: not great." I was hoping she'd get into it from the other side — not just his lack of serious interviews (he talked to a lot of talk show comics) or even his vicious betrayal of his promise of transparency, but his complete lack of any real push-back on issues. Because he couldn't. Because he had nothing to say. But he was even inept at priming the press in ways that would defend his own policy "triumph", letting the Patient Protectin and Affordable Care Act be called "the Affordable Care Act" and "the ACA" when it wasn't affordable but it did have patient protections, which they should have been emphasizing.

"OPCW cover-ups, Russiagate and US Elections: Polly Talks to Aaron Maté" — I'm pleased to know that Maté won an Izzy Award recently.

RIP: "Diego Maradona: Argentina legend dies aged 60," of a heart attack. Even I, a person who completely ignores all football games, did not confuse him with the singer/actor whose name shares a number of letters with his.

Black Agenda Report, "Biden, the Emcee at the Billionaires' Ball [...] What ordinary people experience as disaster is manna from heaven for the Lords of Capital. 'Disaster capitalism' is only disastrous for those without capital. Every catastrophe consolidates the power of the billionaires, who use these periods to devour the less-rich and reshape the political economy to their further advantage, deepening their dominance of society so that the Joe Bidens of the world jump higher and come quicker when summoned."

"Unlearning the Lessons of Hillbilly Elegy: America's beleaguered poor and working class have a host of problems, but the culture of irresponsibility that J.D. Vance says they're prey to isn't one of them. [...] The problem with those judgments is that you have to erase a lot of history and a lot of experience with policy outcomes to get there. Working-class families and communities are indeed in trouble, but a lot of factors contributed to it. The culprit was not bad choices. It was not lack of personal responsibility or a government that was clueless about how to get to a better economy and society. We are not powerless to address these ills."

"Chris Hedges: The Ruling Elite's War on Truth: American political leaders display a widening disconnect from reality intended to mask their complicity in the seizure of power by global corporations and billionaires. Joe Biden's victory instantly obliterated the Democratic Party's longstanding charge that Russia was hijacking and compromising US elections. The Biden victory, the Democratic Party leaders and their courtiers in the media now insist, is evidence that the democratic process is strong and untainted, that the system works. The elections ratified the will of the people. But imagine if Donald Trump had been reelected. Would the Democrats and pundits at The New York Times, CNN and MSNBC pay homage to a fair electoral process? Or, having spent four years trying to impugn the integrity of the 2016 presidential race, would they once again haul out the blunt instrument of Russian interference to paint Trump as Vladimir Putin's Manchurian candidate?"

"In Case You Missed It, Reagan Was A Scumbag: America's 40th president was a lot of things: a right-wing talk radio host, a Hollywood actor, a Red Scare monger, a charismatic liar. A great leader wasn't one of them but for some reason Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War seems keen to revive that long-standing conservative fantasy. I can only guess how many hours and how many indie game budgets went into meticulously detailing every weathered crack, mole, and discoloration in Ronald Reagan's 70-year-old face so he could tell a room of CIA spooks in a voice of unwavering, fatherly assurance, to go do crimes in foreign countries." He has a nice recap, but left out of the story are the largest single tax hike on the working classes in history, kicking the struts out from under regulations put in place to prevent another depression, destroying the civics curriculum and making war on free universities, among other things.

"The Case For Tammany Hall Being On The Right Side Of History: Historian Terry Golway has written a colorful history of Tammany Hall, which takes a more sympathetic view of the organization than many historians. He says the Tammany machine, while often corrupt, gave impoverished immigrants critically needed social services and a road to assimilation. According to Golway, Tammany was responsible for progressive state legislation that foreshadowed the New Deal. He writes that some of Tammany's harshest critics, including cartoonist Thomas Nast, openly exhibited a raw anti-Irish and anti-Catholic prejudice."

Dinosaur Comics and tales of Robyn.

John Carlson dollhouse and furnishings, 1912

Steam car

The story of Kris Kristofferson, Janis Joplin, and "Me and Bobby McGee"

Watch the Kinks' new video for "Lola".

"Led Zeppelin: Knebworth August 11th 1979 [Fully Filmed Concert]"

1 comment:

  1. Having read the book many times - at least five probably ten - over the past fifty-five years, and in fact referenced it in a 2008 blogswarm against theocracy Childhood's End the miniseries, for what it is, a three part six hour miniseries, comes pretty close to the book. Bit overly melodramatic on the luvy-duvy stuff but never-the-less conveys the message at a number of different levels. Will have to go back and read through it again, there were a couple of things in the movie I don't remember in the book, and one scene leaves me wondering if the writers have visited my blog, or if Clarke's subliminal impact on my way of thinking was the muse behind the times I've encouraged people let me know when they figure out how to drink oil.

    I recommend it. I don't recommend videos often.