Saturday, October 16, 2021

Well, I was born to have adventure

"Two and Autumn" is from the Colors Fall collection.

I can't keep up with Manchin and Sinema's current reasons for what to do with reconciliation. Atrios: "I suspect they both didn't realize times have changed, a little bit, that Biden isn't Obama (*cough* black), that eventheliberals in the news media are a bit sick of this act."

"'Havana Syndrome' Noises Were Likely Crickets, Not Super Weapons, State Department Report Says: Scientists believe the Indies short-tailed cricket, not a foreign power, is responsible for strange sounds recorded by U.S. diplomats in Cuba who are reporting unexplained symptoms." Not so sure those symptoms are so unexplained, either — I'm sure everyone in the foreign service is experiencing symptoms of stress these last few years. But the "intelligence" operatives who were telling these microwave secret weapon stories to the media knew they were false years ago. That report exposing the whole sham, now public thanks to a FOIA request, is three years old.

"House Progressives to Pelosi: Reject Divisive Means-Testing in Favor of Universal Benefits: 'We can choose to strengthen the bond Americans have to one another by proposing universal social insurance benefits that broadly benefit all Americans.' Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Wednesday reiterated their top-level priorities for the nascent reconciliation package and urged their fellow Democrats to pursue universal programs instead of 'complicated methods of means-testing that the wealthy and powerful will use to divide us.'"

In a world where even Jon Chait is tweeting criticisms of the "moderates", "Josh Gottheimer criticizes Pelosi — but not one other moderate Dem would join him: report." This is actually kind of hilarious, since Gottheimer and his nasty little right-wing friends were trying to kill the main Democratic bill — "the President's agenda" that everyone keeps talking about — by slipping the "bipartisan infrastructure bill" past without the main "Build Back Better" bill that is the one everyone else wants to pass. The BIB is the giveaway to the super-rich, the one with privatization of public assets and tax breaks for the 1% that is really the poison pill in this "dual path" strategy of passing both bills at once because the right-wingers say they won't vote for the President's Agenda™ unless Dems swallow their piece of crap along with it. What it really does is expose the fact that the "Problem-Solvers" have no intention of voting for BBB ever — a promise from them to vote for it later is not worth the paper it isn't printed on.

"In Scathing Senate Testimony, Whistleblower Warns Facebook a Threat to Children and Democracy: Frances Haugen said the company's leaders know how to make their platforms safer, 'but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people.'"

Stoller, "The Facebook Whistleblower Is Heroic... And Terribly Wrong: Frances Haugen got a lot right. But a digital regulator that legitimizes Facebook's power would be the worst possible outcome. [...] Haugen is a trained designer of algorithms, and along with many naive Silicon Valley insiders turned critics, at heart does not see a danger with concentrated power. 'I don't hate Facebook,' she has said. 'I love Facebook. I want to save it.' Her approach to social media is similar to what many left consumer oriented groups support, which is not to take apart a concentration of power, but to regulate it. It is, in many ways, a similar framework as Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial reform package, which, rather than making systemic changes to concentrated and bloated dysfunctional sectors, simply overlaid captured regulators on top of them."

Also Stoller: "Economists to Cattle Ranchers: Stop Being So Emotional About the Monopolies Devouring Your Family Businesses: Agricultural economists manipulated data to block Congress from acting on high beef prices and the destruction of independent cattle ranching. Why? Because they think monopolies are good. [...] Is there really an emergency in the supply chain, or is this just a fight over money between well-off ranchers and massive multi-nationals? The answer is that there is a serious problem that goes beyond parochial concerns. Back in May, I interviewed independent ranching advocate Bill Bullard to talk about something that hadn't happened in America since World War II - a beef shortage, along with accompanying high prices. Like a lot of shortages, it's easy to chalk this one up to Covid. But in fact there was plenty of cattle, it just wasn't getting to the shelves. So what was happening?"

Meyerson, "In Hollywood and America, the Strike Is Back: 1919, 1946, 2021—after wars and pandemics, workers are restless. [...] THE STRIKE, THE ULTIMATE WEAPON of workers, has been out of favor for the past four decades. When Ronald Reagan fired the nation's air traffic controllers in 1981, he gave carte blanche to corporations to follow his lead. In short order, companies with long histories of coexistence with their unions began locking out workers, or provoking strikes so that they could hire replacements at a lower pay rate or compel their unions to accept steadily diminishing pay and benefits. In the 15 years following World War II, when unions had more power under the law and employers had less, the nation averaged around 300 major strikes every year. Not coincidentally, this was the only time in American history when median pay rose at the same rate as productivity. Then, due in part to a series of court rulings, the playing field began to tilt in employers' favor, and following 1981, that tilt became much steeper. In this century, the number of annual major strikes is often in the single digits. Today, that appears to be changing. Not only is IATSE a credible threat to shut down production, but workers in other industries are rebelling as well. Recently, workers at five Nabisco factories across the nation went on strike to protest their long hours and low pay, returning only when those problems had been addressed. Around 24,000 nurses at Kaiser Permanente in California are voting on a strike authorization, and other Kaiser workers in California and Oregon are threatening the same. Ten thousand John Deere workers voted to strike last month. A thousand coal miners at Warrior Met in Alabama have been on strike for six months. And there are several other possible strikes under way."

"'Death of 1,000 cuts': Kellogg's workers on why they're striking: Union took issue with company's threats to outsource jobs from the US to Mexico if workers refuse to accept their proposals [...] Trevor Bidelman, president of BCTGM Local3G and a fourth-generation employee at the Kellogg's plant in Battle Creek, Michigan, explained workers are on strike against a proposed two-tier system for current and new employees proposed by Kellogg's. Bidelman said Kellogg's wants to not offer pensions to new employees, remove cost of living provisions, and make changes in holiday pay and vacations."

"Take it back: Copyright reversion, bargaining power, and authors' rights. Few labor markets are as dysfunctional as the market for creative labor. Writers, musicians, graphic artists and other creative workers often produce because they feel they have to, driven by a need to express and discover themselves. Small wonder that creative workers are willing to produce art for lower wages than they'd accept for other types of work. This leads to a vast oversupply of creative work, giving publishers, labels, studios and other intermediaries a buyer's market for creative labor. For the most part, arts policy pretends this isn't true. When economists and business-people talk about labor markets, they lean heavily on the neoliberal conception of 'rational economic actors' who produce when it makes sense to do so, and move on to another form of work when it doesn't. Homo economicus is a nonsense — behavioral economics has repeatedly demonstrated all the ways in which 'economic actors' don't behave the way economic models predict they will — but it's especially absurd when applied to creative labor markets."

"Lawyer Steven Donziger gets six-month sentence for contempt in Chevron battle." He's already spent two years in house arrest and now he's been sentenced to six months without time served, on a contempt of court charge that should never have been lodged. "Donziger was ordered to turn over his computer, phones and other electronic devices. That later escalated into a criminal case when he failed to do so." This was essentially a demand for all of his papers, including confidential items for his clients. It was his right and obligation to refuse.

I wish I had time to keep up with every single word Cory Doctorow writes.
"'Are you calling me a racist?' [...] Interestingly, the caller was able to speak intelligently about the nature of systemic racism and identify it as a serious problem. He just doesn't think it's as big a problem as high taxes."
"Wells Fargo can't stop criming: Wells Fargo is America's third-largest bank. It used to be the largest, but it committed a string of terrible frauds that it was never truly punished for (it made more from crime than it paid in fines). Its crime spree did result in one meaningful punishment: Wells was forced to downsize to #3, with a mere $1.77 trillion in assets. Have no fear: Wells Fargo is down but not out, and despite its reduced stature, it is still engaged in egregious acts of fraud."
"Debts that can't be paid, won't be paid: It's been just over a year since the death of activist, writer and anthropologist David Graeber — a brilliant speaker, writer and thinker who helped give us Occupy, 'we are the 99%' and Bullshit Jobs. On the anniversary of David's death, his widow Nika Dubrovsky convened the first "Art Project" discussion, a fascinating debate between Thomas Piketty and Michael Hudson, a pair of political economists whose work is neatly bridged by Graeber's own. Piketty, of course, is the bestselling French economist whose 2013 Capital in the 21st Century was an unlikely, 700+ page viral hit, describing with rare lucidity the macroeconomics that drive capitalism towards cruel and destabilizing inequality. Hudson, meanwhile, is the debt-historian and economist whose haunting phrase "Debts that can't be paid, won't be paid," is a perfect and irrefutable summation of the inevitable downfall of any system that relies on household debt to drive consumption. [...] Like Graeber, Hudson also treats Babylonian policy as key to economics — specifically, the Babylonian understanding that "debts that can't be paid, won't be paid," which is why the state would periodically declare a jubilee in which all debts were declared void."

Froomkin has an idea to highlight bad headlines and stories in the press, "Let me rewrite that for you! [...] I'm going to take a handful of recent articles that I felt badly missed the mark, and offer alternative ledes or nut graphs that I think do a better job of telling the truer story." (I found that link at CJR in an article about "The problem with 'moderates v. progressives'" — that is, the way the press uses language about Democrats and what they are doing.)

"Julian Assange Kidnapping Plot Casts New Light on 2018 Senate Intelligence Maneuver: The CIA labeled WikiLeaks a 'non-state hostile intelligence service' while entertaining plans to kidnap or assassinate its founder. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2017 gave its stamp of approval to a legal maneuver that we now know the CIA was using to hunt WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. According to an explosive investigation published Sunday by Yahoo News, senior Trump administration officials — including the former president and director of the CIA — considered options to kidnap and even assassinate Assange in 2017 as part of a CIA 'offensive counterintelligence' operation. In order to expand its legal options, the administration moved to designate WikiLeaks as a 'non-state hostile intelligence service,' a label first unveiled by then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo at an April 2017 think tank event. The creative relabeling was the culmination of an effort that had begun under the Obama administration. In the wake of Edward Snowden's leak of classified National Security Agency documents, intelligence officials moved to label WikiLeaks an 'information broker,' which they distinguished from journalism and publishing. In an extraordinary assault on the press, the officials also pushed to apply the same designation to Intercept co-founders Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in a related but failed effort to strip them of First Amendment protections in the wake of the NSA leaks. The Obama White House rejected that effort as it related to all three, Yahoo reported, but under Trump, officials successfully applied the 'non-state hostile intelligence service' label to WikiLeaks."

"Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn't Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge: Judge Donna Scott Davenport oversees a juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee, with a staggering history of jailing children. She said kids must face consequences, which rarely seem to apply to her or the other adults in charge. [...] The police were at Hobgood because of that video. But they hadn't come for the boys who threw punches. They were here for the children who looked on. The police in Murfreesboro, a fast-growing city about 30 miles southeast of Nashville, had secured juvenile petitions for 10 children in all who were accused of failing to stop the fight." At an elementary school. The Supreme Court ruled that the police don't have a duty to intervene in crimes, but they sent an eight-year-old girl to jail for failing to stop a fight.

RIP: "Frances 'Sissy' Farenthold, lodestar for Texas liberals, dies at 94: In 1972 and again in 1974, an ardently liberal Texas state legislator named Frances Tarlton Farenthold ran for governor on a platform that included imposing a tax on corporate profits, strictly regulating utilities, and liberating state government from Big Oil and a 'tyranny of private interests.' Ms. Farenthold called for lowering first-offense possession of marijuana from a felony to a misdemeanor and vowed that students in poor school districts would receive the same quality education available in wealthier districts. She reviled the Texas Rangers as 'a festering sore' because of that state police force's history of lawless brutality and summary executions of Mexicans and Mexican Americans along the state's southern border. She was also an outspoken defender of abortion rights. 'I play high with politics,' she said on the hustings. 'Why be a safe candidate?'" If McGovern had been smart, he would have chosen her as his runningmate and saved himself a lot of trouble.

The Lancet, "Fatal police violence in the USA: a public health issue [...] A lack of accurate data has arguably been one of the major impediments to adopting a public health approach to deaths caused by police violence. Today in The Lancet, a group led by researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) publish the most accurate and comprehensive assessment of deaths attributable to police violence in the USA to date. The study is a potential turning point for improving national estimates of fatalities from police violence by incorporating non-governmental open-source data to correct NVSS data. The findings are staggering: around 30,000 people died from police violence between 1980 and 2018. The NVSS omitted approximately 17,100 deaths, leading to an under-reporting of deaths attributable to police violence by more than 55%. Age-standardised mortality was higher in Black people (0·69 of 100,000) and non-Hispanic Black people (0·35 of 100,000) than White people (0·20 of 100,000)." For me the headline here is the enormous undercount in number of people police have been killing. Sentences like, "These figures show a system of violent and fatal policing in the USA that is unfairly and unevenly applied across race and ethnicity," are a bit worrying, since they seem to imply that violent and fatal policing would be okay if only it was done in proportion by race. It wouldn't.

"Mythical Class Reductionists vs. Actual Race Reductionists [...] When I took a closer look at people who talk about class reductionists, I saw the accusation is made by race reductionists whose beliefs can be traced to Derrick Bell, 'father of Critical Race Theory', a member of the black owning class who said he never read socialist works. Because Bell's followers have a shallow understanding of capitalism, they think their critics have an equally shallow understanding of racism. When I point out that identitarians ignore class, they insist they do not. They mention 'intersectionality' and fail to see that intersectionality was designed to discuss social identities and is completely inadequate for discussing economic class. What's most revealing about the identitarian claim that those of us who prioritize class are 'class reductionists' is the implication that we care less about injustice at the top of our class system than at the bottom. To that, I'll plead guilty."

Audio & Transcript, Citations Needed from November of 2018 on "The Neoliberal Optimism Industry: Nima: This week we're going to discuss the ideological project of telling both those in the West and the Global South over and over and over again, that things are, in fact, improving if not already really great. How those in power cook the books and spin data to make their case for maintaining the status quo, how a techno-capitalist middle-management ethos came to replace notions of justice, and how what we'd like to call The Neoliberal Optimism Industry gaslights us into complacency and political impotence. Today, we'll be speaking with Dr. Jason Hickel, anthropologist, author, and fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He serves on the Labour Party Task Force on International Development and works as Policy Director for The Rules collective." Instructive discussion of Bill Gates' relationship to Steven Pinker and the horrible impact they've had on society.

"Remember Red Pistachios? Here's What Happened To Them."

This is a genuine realtor's site, and the page looks exactly like all of their other house sales, slideshow tour and all, but this one is for an online tour of the Addams' Family Home.

"How The Firesign Theatre Predicted The Future: In the mid-1960s, the Beatles released a revolutionary album called "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Half a world away, four young men dropped the needle on a vinyl copy of the record and a new concept in comedy was born."

Frank Zappa, "Camarillo Brillo"
(Sorry, I just can't get this song out of my head after starting season two of Fort Salem.)

Sunday, September 26, 2021

You ornament the earth for me

"Misty Mountains" at Long Lake, NY, Adirondacks, photographed by Jude Nagurney Camwell, September 2021

You remember how India Walton, the socialist, won the Democratic primary in Buffalo? Well, the incumbent she beat is doing a Lieberman. "Judge rules Byron Brown can be on Buffalo mayoral ballot [...] The Erie County Board of Elections invalidated Brown's petitions for the 'Buffalo Party' he created because they were late, but in court, Judge Sinatra agreed with the argument the new state deadline, established in 2019, was too early and prohibited fair ballot access." However, that ruling hit a snag when people started to notice a little obvious corruption. "Buffalo's Developer Class Backing Last-Ditch Attempt Against Socialist India Walton: A federal judge who wants Buffalo's incumbent mayor back on the ballot is being scrutinized for his real estate ties. [...] The involvement of conservative developers is no fluke: Close to one-third of the signatures Brown submitted in his August 17 petitions to appear as an independent candidate on the November ballot came from members of right-leaning parties, local NBC affiliate WGRZ reported. Other major GOP donors, as well as a Washington, D.C., real estate mogul who was convicted in 2006 of wire fraud and accused of bribing an official for government contracts, have contributed to Brown's campaign. And unlike in the New York City mayoral race, in which President Joe Biden and former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo congratulated primary winner Eric Adams early on, Walton has received no such declarations of national Democratic support." Last time I looked there'd been another ruling, this time from the appellate court panel, saying Brown can't be on the ballot. Brown has had a write-in campaign going ever since he lost the primary, so we'll see how that goes. With so many rich Republicans backing him, that still gives him a good chance.

"Nabisco Strike Ends: BCTGM Members Overwhelmingly Accept New Contract: Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) working for Nabisco/Mondelez in Portland, Ore., Aurora, Colo., Richmond, Va., Chicago, Ill. and Norcross, Ga. have voted overwhelmingly to accept a new collective bargaining agreement. Approval of the contract ends the BCTGM's strike against Nabisco which began on August 10, 2021." Maybe it's a good deal.

"General Failure: How the U.S. Military Lied About the 9/11 Wars: For generals like David Petraeus and Lloyd Austin, there has been no punishment for 20 years of disinformation on Afghanistan and Iraq.." And Glenn Greenwald points out it goes back a lot farther than that.

"The Supreme Court Is a Threat to Democracy: Last week's Supreme Court decision striking down the national eviction moratorium was a lawless power grab by an increasingly out-of-control institution. [...] The text is pretty clear. The law says the CDC can put in place and enforce regulations that prevent infectious diseases from spreading from state to state, examples of which include inspection, pest extermination, and other measures the CDC decides are necessary — a broad mandate that gives the agency wide latitude to act to contain a killer pandemic. [...] Luckily for the Wall Street housing barons and realtors' associations of the world, that's nothing a little bit of creative reading can't fix. When a different Trump-appointed US district court judge struck down the original moratorium back in May, her reasoning was that the CDC's clear authority to decide on regulations needed to halt an infectious disease in its tracks was somehow 'tethered to — and narrowed by — the second sentence' of the law, namely the list of examples given: inspection, fumigation, disinfection, sanitation, pest extermination, and the 'destruction of animals or articles found to be so infected or contaminated as to be sources of dangerous infection to human beings.' [...] The Supreme Court's invalidation of Biden's latest version of the order, which had been amended to target only the parts of the country hardest hit by the virus, relies partly on this same wordplay. But what really makes it interesting is the nakedly ideological terms on which the court's right-wing supermajority rests its decision in the rest of the opinion."

"How Moderate Democrats Derailed Police Reform: Centrists demanded a police reform bill that didn't go too far. Now they don't get one at all. [...] One comment from a moderate appears to have pushed the course of negotiations south. On May 9, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., told CNN that Democrats should be open to passing a bill that didn't touch qualified immunity. In an interview two days later, Scott's office declined to comment on the record but denied that Scott was against eliminating qualified immunity, and said he was still pushing his compromise proposal. The next day, in response to comments from Bass that the package needed to eliminate qualified immunity, Scott said he was 'on the exact opposite side.' A June draft of the legislation included a proposal similar to Scott's."

Over at Slate, the theory that Republicans never really wanted to end Roe still lives, and it's probably right. "Republicans Don't Actually Want Roe v. Wade to End This Way: GOP politicians appear terrified of Texas' abortion ban. The Supreme Court should take note." And Josh Marshall is talking about the essential corruption on the court.

Meanwhile, "Mexico's Supreme Court Votes to Decriminalize Abortion: The ruling, which sets a precedent for the legalization of abortion nationwide, follows years of efforts by a growing women's movement in Mexico. MEXICO CITY — Criminalizing abortion is unconstitutional, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, setting a precedent that could lead to legalization of the procedure across this conservative Catholic country of about 130 million people. The unanimous ruling from the nation's top court follows years of efforts by a growing women's movement in Mexico that has repeatedly taken to the streets of major cities to demand greater rights and protections."

"NEW: What happens when progressives defeat corporate-funded Democrats? In Prince George's County, Maryland, lobbyists & business groups are attempting to overturn an election in plain sight to keep control of a $2 billion school board budget. The corruption is shocking. In 2020, a slate of progressives defeated business-funded incumbents to take over the PG County school board. Now, contractors and lobbyists are trying to overturn the election results and remove the new board members from office, with the help of some establishment Democrats. Once they took office, the progressive slate tried to investigate irregularities in construction contracts. They passed a Community Benefits Agreement that ensured construction contracts created good, union jobs. Then, lobbyists launched an effort to remove them from office. The attempted overturn started with a series of ethics complaints against the progressive slate. @washingtonpost referred to the complaints as 'error riddled.' The former State's Attorney called them 'totally unsubstantiated' and \a political hit job.'"

"Dems Flail Over Pharma Cash And Drug Pricing Vote: Scott Peters, Kurt Schrader, and Kathleen Rice mount weak, incoherent responses trying to explain why they torpedoed a plan to let Medicare negotiate drug prices.Conservative Democratic Reps. Scott Peters (Calif.) and Kurt Schrader (Ore.) have been defending their huge hauls of campaign cash from the pharmaceutical industry since announcing their opposition to House Democrats' wildly popular plan to reduce drug prices. Meanwhile, another Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), has completely flipped her reasoning for why she voted against the measure. Last week, Schrader, Peters, and Rice used their seats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to try to block House Democrats from allowing Medicare to use its bulk purchasing power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices as part of the party's $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation effort. The proposal has support from 90 percent of registered voters in their districts, according to a recent poll by Data For Progress."

Pierce, "This Is an Actual United States Senator Questioning the Actual Secretary of State: On Tuesday, the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee got its chance to question Secretary Blinken, and Republican Senator James Risch took the opportunity to force Blinken to sprain a muscle trying to keep a straight face. This is a United States Senator questioning the Secretary of State as to whether or not the President of the United States is being operated by remote control, and I am not lying about any of this. Gaze in awe."

"What Philadelphia Reveals About America's Homicide Surge [...] In his 2018 book Uneasy Peace, sociologist Patrick Sharkey, now at Princeton University, argued that an overlooked reason for the decline in violent crime since the early 1990s was the spread of grassroots organizations that sprang up to address the problem. The effect was quantifiable, he found: In any given city with 100,000 people, he wrote, 'every new organization formed to confront violence and build stronger neighborhoods led to about a 1% drop in violent crime and murder.'"

"Surprise, Surprise, Ending Unemployment Benefits Early Didn't Actually Get People Back to Work [...] But according to new research, not only did cutting off federal assistance early not only have little to no impact on jobs numbers, it immediately caused a decrease in spending, hurting those states' economies. According to a new paper from economists and researchers at Columbia, Harvard, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the University of Toronto, 7 out of every 8 people who had their benefits cut off did not then find employment. Those unemployed people also cut their weekly spending by 20%, resulting in a $2 billion loss in those states between June and the beginning of August."

"Recent Unemployment Cuts Made People Poorer Without Increasing Employment: The media breathlessly reported on labor shortages this summer, helping generate support for unemployment benefit cuts. But a new study shows such cuts didn't do much but devastate poor people's incomes.

"The conservative Supreme Court is issuing some of its most extreme rulings in the shadows: As bad as the U.S. Supreme Court's regular decisions were this year, what it has done in its "shadow docket" has been particularly dangerous. That includes 10 emergency requests by religious groups challenging COVID-19 restrictions, all of which the court's conservative majority granted. The "shadow docket" is a term coined by University of Chicago law professor Will Baude six years ago to describe "a range of orders and summary decisions that defy its normal procedural regularity." The shadow docket has always been there, where the court issues rulings (without scheduling hearings) that are often unsigned and often consist of just one or two sentences. But the current iteration of the conservative court led by Chief Justice John Roberts has been picking up the pace of those shadow docket cases."

Maybe Covid in children really is a big deal after all. "Pediatric Diabetes Surge in Mississippi: Doctors Concerned COVID-19 Is To Blame: Dr. Jessica Lilley is a pediatric endocrinologist at the Mississippi Center for Advanced Medicine. For eight years she has seen children from across the state for pediatric diabetes and other hormonal issues. With each passing month of the pandemic, Lilley has grown increasingly concerned that COVID-19 is linked to a massive increase in new diagnoses of pediatric diabetes throughout Mississippi. Lilley is not alone in her observation. In conferring with other pediatric endocrinologists across the state and nation, Lilley says the spike in new cases is widespread. 'We are all seeing an increase in type 1 diabetes diagnoses as well as type 2 diabetes diagnoses. Those of us who tracked it have noticed anywhere from a 30% to 40% increase compared to (2019),' she told the Mississippi Free Press in a series of interviews in August and September. "

Why does Sinema act so crazy? "Sinema Cueing Up To Go Indy (Must Read): Absolutely fascinating look at Kyrsten Sinema's efforts to position herself as an independent in Arizona, possibly formally but definitely in effect. It makes pretty clear she's not done with politics or angling for a high dollar lobbying gig, as some speculate. She thinks she can be a latter-day McCain and build her political brand on that basis, likely looking for a promotion above the Senate." But she could be badly misreading the room.

"Why Are There Still Conservatives In The Congressional Progressive Caucus? [...] 'In addition to having members with ProgressivePunch scores of D or F. I find it deeply concerning that members such as Sheila Jackson Lee, who is one of the Vice Chairs of the Progressive Caucus, has received a ProgressivePunch score of C. This is another example of an establishment member of the party, who has long ties with corporate donors (Goldman Sachs, Chevron, BP, etc.) and has been virtually silent on all major progressive policies, buying their way into the Progressive Caucus to avoid major opposition in the primaries.'"

"America's Acute Governance Problem: We have difficulty handing out money intended for people who need it. And that's just the beginning. [...] If you really want to prevent evictions and keep people off the street in the middle of a pandemic that continues to pummel this country, you could institute what I would call the 'big bag of money' option. In theory—and again, all of this is theory—you could install a federal official at every eviction court in America, and whenever a case is read, with the amount owed to the landlord stated, the guy can dip into his big bag of money and pay the debt. In nearly all cases, this will satisfy the landlord and put a stop to evictions, which Goldman Sachs estimates will otherwise hit 750,000 families over the next four months."

FAIR, "NYT: China Needs to Rethink Its Not-Letting-People-Die-From-Covid Policy: It still boggles me that a US paper thinks it has standing to offer advice to China on how to address the Covid-19 pandemic (FAIR.org, 1/29/21). For those who have been on Mars for the past two years, China has had, since the disease first appeared, 95,493 cases and 4,636 deaths from Covid. The United States, with approximately one-fourth as many people, has had almost 42 million cases and 668,000 deaths. On a per capita basis, the US's handling of the coronavirus has been more than 600 times worse than China's. But still, the New York Times has some ideas on how China could do better!"

"Ken Loach: Keir Starmer Is Mr Bean Trying to Act Like Stalin: Last week, Ken Loach was kicked out of the Labour party. In his first interview since his expulsion, the socialist filmmaker told Jacobin that Keir Starmer's purge of the Left is driving the party to destruction."

I wonder if Nancy Pelosi is regretting keeping AOC off the committee and putting Rice in there instead. "How Kathleen Rice Is Threatening the Biden Agenda: Rice and two other House Democrats oppose aggressive drug price reform, which provides the budget savings available to fuel spending in the Build Back Better Act. [...] Flash forward to this week, where Rice joined with two other centrists to temporarily block an enormously popular drug pricing reform measure from advancing through the Energy and Commerce Committee. The Democratic-Republican split on the committee is 32-26. The objections of Reps. Rice, Scott Peters (D-CA), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) to the drug price reform deadlock the vote. If AOC were on the committee instead of Rice, that measure would have passed. The standoff does not mean that drug price reform is finished. The Budget Committee can always fit it back in with a 'manager's amendment,' and because it provides at least $700 billion in budget savings for the overall bill, the committee almost certainly will. But it's a show of force from pro-pharma members in a Democratic caucus that only has three votes to spare to pass the reconciliation package out of the House. No agreement on drug prices threatens the entire bill and the Biden agenda, because of its importance in offsetting spending." Incredibly, Rice seems to be claiming she supports the incredibly expensive Bush non-negotiation clause out of "fiscal responsibility". Which just shows you what a lie that phrase has always been.

"Billionaires Are the Leading Cause of Climate Change: As the world faces environmental disaster on a biblical scale, it's important to remember exactly who brought us here. [...] Contrary to a lot of guilt-tripping pleas for us all to take the bus more often to save the world, your individual choices are probably doing very little to the world's climate. The real impact comes on the industrial level, as more than 70 percent of global emissions come from just 100 companies. So you, a random American consumer, exert very little pressure here. The people who are actively cranking up the global thermostat and threatening to drown 20 percent of the global population are the billionaires in the boardrooms of these companies."

Stiglitz is in the Financial Times saying, "Europe should not return to pre-pandemic fiscal rules: Given the challenges the EU faces today, a new round of austerity would be calamitous [...] In responding to the coronavirus emergency, European countries have abandoned the EU's fiscal rules governing deficits and debt-to-gross domestic product ratio, borrowing and spending to keep their economies afloat. There will and should be a debate about how well those borrowed funds are spent. But few would argue that spending was the wrong course of action."

"Where's My Lyme Vaccine?: The complex downfall of LYMErix—and what's coming next. [...] We had one, once. The Food and Drug Administration approved LYMErix, manufactured by SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline), for use in 1998. LYMErix worked by inducing antibodies into human blood, which would then go into any ticks that attached to your body. There, they would neutralize the bacteria that cause Lyme, Borrelia burgdorferi, before the bacteria could go from the tick into you. In clinical trials, the shot showed about 78 percent effectiveness after the required three doses (hey, I'd take it). But some patients who got the shot after it went on the market testified that they developed arthritis after vaccination. The FDA investigated, but decided the evidence that the vaccine was linked to patients' arthritis wasn't strong enough to withdraw its approval for LYMErix. Sales fell nonetheless, and the company pulled the vaccine in 2002."

"This is no ordinary spying. Our most intimate selves are now exposed: The Pegasus project shows we could all soon be ruled by states that know everything about us, while we know less and less about them"

"Clinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks': The 26-page indictment of former cybersecurity attorney and Hillary Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann by special counsel John Durham is as detailed as it is damning on the alleged effort to push a false Russia collusion claim before the 2016 presidential campaign. One line, however, seems to reverberate for those of us who have followed this scandal for years now: 'You do realize that we will have to expose every trick we have in our bag.' That warning from an unnamed 'university researcher' captures the most fascinating aspect of the indictment in describing a type of Nixonian dirty tricks operation run by — or at least billed to — the Clinton campaign. With Nixon, his personal attorney and the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) paid for operatives to engage in disruptive and ultimately criminal conduct targeting his opponents. With Clinton, the indictment and prior disclosures suggest that Clinton campaign lawyers at the law firm of Perkins Coie helped organize an effort to spread Russia collusion stories and trigger an investigation."

"Even During COVID-19 Recession, Temporary Assistance Does Little to Reduce Child Poverty: Many people in the United States might assume that the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program — the program created after 'welfare reform' — would be an important tool to assist needy families during the COVID-19 recession. The latest analysis from the Census Bureau shows that TANF has failed once again to provide much help to the impoverished during a recession. This fact is best illustrated by examining TANF's impact on child poverty last year. The Census Bureau examined the impact of 13 programs on reducing child poverty during 2020. Of the 13 programs, TANF was among the weakest at reducing child poverty. (See Figure.) The Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was more than five times as effective as TANF in reducing child poverty. Unemployment Insurance was nearly seven times as effective."

If you can get into the NYT, Zach Carter has a good article up called, "Why Are Moderates Trying to Blow Up Biden's Centrist Economic Plan?," but even if you can't, you might want to read his follow-up on his Substack, "Left, Right and Keynes [...] The situation with today's centrists in the Democratic Party is similar, only much worse. Joe Biden is a lifelong centrist who is fighting back progressive calls for structural political change with a commitment to robust economic reform. Adding new states to the union, adding new seats to the Supreme Court, eliminating the electoral college, abolishing the filibuster — Biden has politely ignored them all. But people calling themselves centrists are now attacking Biden's economic reforms — the very centrist agenda that is supposed to help beat back the demands from the left and right. Not a single one of Biden's intraparty critics has offered a coherent policy justification for their opposition. They've abandoned centrism as a set of ideas with a clear purpose and embraced an amorphous fear of action itself."

The Bronx Freedom Fund proved that cash bail is extortion: For over a dozen years, despite judicial threats and media attacks, we bailed out thousands of low-income New Yorkers who would have otherwise languished in jail while presumed innocent. In doing so, we exploded the myth that cash bail was necessary to ensure people returned to court, and laid bare its coercive power to force people to plead guilty and forfeit their right to trial. Close to 95% of our clients made every one of their court appearances even though they had no money on the line. Almost 50% of the cases in which we posted bail were dismissed, and over the life of the fund, fewer than 2% of the people for whom we provided bail assistance received a jail sentence. In short, we proved that when it comes to bail, money really does buy justice."

RIP: Judith Hanna, 67, of liver cancer. Joseph's obit for her in the Guardian is dry and restrained, but shortly before she died, she was calling him a hero, and he managed to get through his much more personal words for her at the funeral, choked with emotion as he obviously was. She gave us warning on Facebook that the docs had given her the death sentence, and so, she observed, she was seeing her own wake in the comments. And then no time at all seemed to pass before Joseph told us she was gone and that he'd been with her at the last. She was my friend, she had come to London from Australia just a couple of years before I'd moved here and she gave me tips and household items to help me through the transition. And violets, because they "like to grow over the roots of the roses and cool them." We all loved her and have things to thank her for, and we've all missed seeing her during the on-again-off-again quarantine and now we will miss her forever and I just can't seem to stop my eyes from stinging whenever I think of her.

RIP: "George Holliday, man who filmed Rodney King police beating, dies of COVID: LOS ANGELES (AP) — George Holliday, the Los Angeles plumber who shot grainy video of four white police officers beating Black motorist Rodney King in 1991, has died of complications of COVID-19, a friend said Monday. Holliday, 61, died Sunday at a Los Angeles hospital, where he had been for more than a month, according to Robert Wollenweber, a longtime friend and former coworker. Holliday was not vaccinated and was on a ventilator in recent days after contracting pneumonia, Wollenweber said."

Corey Doctorow reviews a book, "Love of Shopping is Not a Gene: exposing junk science and ideology in Darwinian Psychology: Anne Innis Dagg's "Love of Shopping" is Not a Gene is a scathing, entertaining and extremely accessible geneticist's critique of 'Darwinian Psychology' — that is, the "science" of ascribing human behavior to genetic inevitability. Dagg, a biologist/geneticist at the University of Waterloo, identifies Darwinian Psychology as a nexus of ideological pseudoscience cooked to justify political agendas about the inevitability of social inequality, especially racial and sexual inequality. One after another, Dagg examines the cherished shibboleths of Darwinian Psychology, examining the research offered in support of such statements as "Rape is genetic" or "Black people are genetically destined to have lower IQ scores than white people" and demolishes each statement by subjecting it to scientific rigor, including an examination of all the contradictory evidence ignored by proponents. Dagg opens the book with what seems to be an issue of personal affront: the story that "many" animals practice infanticide as a means of eliminating the genetic competition. This claim originates in part with Craig Packer, who seemingly lost his head when Dagg dared to point out that the overall data suggested that lionesses, not lions, were apt to kill cubs, and not cubs born to other lionesses, but their own progeny, to give the remaining offspring a better chance of survival. When Packer was sent a paper to review, he sent Dagg a threatening note promising to go public with a "harsh" characterization of her as a "fringe scientist" with a "bizarre obsession." Meanwhile, Dagg's investigation of the references cited in support of infanticide among other animals, especially primates, finds them to be just as specious as the claims of infanticide among lions. "

From recent history, a wise reminder that sometimes you have to look deeper. "The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill: All pandemic long, scientists brawled over how the virus spreads. Droplets! No, aerosols! At the heart of the fight was a teensy error with huge consequences.

"Inequality, not gerontocracy: The received wisdom among economists is that the US's historical low interests rates are driven by high savings by aging boomers who are getting ready for, or in, retirement. [...] The problem with the "boomers have so much in retirement savings that interest rates are low" theory is that boomers are incredibly unprepared for retirement. There's a small cohort — ~10% — of very well-off boomers sailing into their sunset years. The rest? Fucked [...] So why are rates so low? Well, the paper says it is being caused by high levels of savings — just not aging boomers' savings. Rather, it's the savings of the ultra-wealthy, the 1%, who are sitting on mountains of unproductive capital, chasing returns."

Stephanie Kelton explains "What Every American Needs to Know About the Congressional "Pay-For" Game (Part 1): I know this game. I watched it from the inside."

Audio, "Know Your Enemy #16: The Windbag City, with Marshall Steinbaum: Matt and Sam are joined by Marshall Steinbaum for a deep dive into the Chicago school of economics and the wreckage it's supported—from welcoming the birth defects caused by deregulating the pharmaceutical industry to justifying massive resistance to desegregation to being put in the service of coronavirus truther-ism. Where did this iteration of libertarianism come from, intellectually and institutionally? Who are the key figures in the Chicago school? How have their ideas infected the way we all think about economics and politics? It's a sordid, depressing tale of right-wing money, intellectual dishonesty, and a gleeful desire to discipline the forces of democracy."

Let's set the Wayback Machine all the way back to April of 2006 for, "The Rebuking and Scorning of Cynthia McKinney: A Washington press corps that stood idly by while Bush and Cheney plundered the country, wrecked the environment, spied on Americans without a warrant, tortured civilians and lied the country into a war that will only get worse, woke up one morning and collectively decided: 'Let's all play Get Cynthia!'"

"FDR And 'Court Packing' — Just One More 'Truth' That Isn't True: A lot of things we 'know' about history come from 'one side.' For example, we 'know' that 'protectionism' caused the Great Depression. Except it didn't. Who benefits from convincing the public that protecting national interests is bad if it reduces corporate profits? There are so, so many 'truths' like that. Another 'Truth': Court Packing is Bad. Here's another 'truth.' FDR tried to 'pack the Supreme Court' and it was very, very bad. I thought I'd look up what the Supreme Court was actually doing that led to FDR trying to do something to balance the Court, and what happened when he finally did try. Go ahead and try to find answers (the actual truth) to that question. It's hard to find."

"To Fight Racism, Organize With Your Coworkers: Too many anti-racist efforts today obsess over individual actions like microaggressions. We need to fight racism in a collective project rooted in shared material interests — as the United Packinghouse Workers of America did in its heyday."

Interview by Index on Censorship, "Daniel Ellsberg: The original whistleblower [...] 'I have never heard of anyone wanting to be a whistleblower,' said Ellsberg. 'People admire it when they see it, but it is a strange career to set out on — and it's not a career because you generally only get to do it once. Employers believe you won't tell their dirty secrets no matter how criminal, illegal, wrongful or dangerous your bosses may be.'"

"When Police Kill Police and Someone Else is Blamed : In the early morning of May, 2020, Bonneville County Sheriff's Deputy Wyatt Maser lost his life while responding to a call in Idaho Falls. He and another officer arrived to assist a motorist, Jenna Holm, after she was in a single-car crash on a rural stretch of road. They arrived to find Holm in distress. While attempting to bring her into custody, another officer driving at high speeds arrived and hit Deputy Maser with his patrol vehicle. Maser died at the scene. Holm was charged with manslaughter in connection with his death."

"The Most Terrifying Thing About 9/11 Was America's Response: The fear I experienced that terrible day in New York doesn't begin to compare with the dread I've developed watching our path since." I knew that day that what 9/11 really meant was that horrible people in our government would now be able to do every horrible thing they wanted to do. And they did.

You've probably all heard about how Ben Franklin started off as an antivaxer and then changed his mind, but here's a story I didn't know, and it all starts with Cotton Mather's slave.. "What if I told you this happens EXACTLY every 100 years?"

Matt Stoller, "Counterfeit Capitalism: Why a Monopolized Economy Leads to Inflation and Shortages: From railroads to plastic bags to semiconductors to ice cream, Wall Street and monopolists are creating shortages and exploiting them."

Former Black Panther Eddie Conway on "Cuba And The US: A Tale Of Two Prison Systems: There's no such thing as a 'good' prison, but the stark differences between US and Cuban prisons show just how deliberately inhumane the American carceral system is."

The creators of HEIST: Who Stole the American Dream? put it on YouTube so you can watch the full film for free.

The BBC covers the alien invasion

Carlos Santana and Steve Winwood, "Whiter Shade of Pale"

Laura Nyro, "Emmie"

Saturday, September 4, 2021

We've both been sound asleep

Cornish apple orchard by Adrian Paul Allinson (British, 1890-1959)

"Supreme Court Allows Extreme Texas Abortion Ban To Go Into Effect: S.B. 8 offers private citizens a $10,000 bounty if they successfully sue anyone 'aiding or abetting' abortion-seeking patients in Texas The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed a restrictive Texas law to go into effect that criminalizes abortion at six weeks and deputizes citizens to enforce the ban. S.B. 8 effectively bans abortion at six weeks, a time at which many people don't yet realize they're pregnant. The bill is more extreme than laws in states such as Alabama and Ohio due to a clause that financially incentivizes private citizens to sue anyone 'aiding or abetting' abortion-seeking patients in Texas. If someone successfully sues a person aiding and abetting the medical procedure, they could receive a bounty of $10,000 and have all of their legal fees paid for by the opposing side." Gosh, it's like the Fugitive Slave Act all over again. (Lawyers, Guns, and Money has more details with Sotomayer's dissent.) Pelosi responded by scheduling a bill codifying Roe v. Wade in law.

"Prop. 22, the gig worker exemption for Uber and Lyft, is ruled unconstitutional; Proposition 22, which exempts gig work companies like Uber and Lyft from treating drivers as employees, is unconstitutional, a judge ruled Friday. The measure, which 59% of state voters supported last fall, illegally 'limits the power of a future legislature to define app-based drivers as workers subject to workers' compensation law,' Alameda County Superior Court Frank Roesch ruled. The judge's order found that Section 7451 of the measure is unconstitutional because it 'defines unrelated legislation an 'amendment'' to the measure, making the entire measure unenforceable. The section states that any future laws related to collective bargaining for app drivers must comply with the rest of Prop. 22, which violated the requirement that ballot measures focus on a single subject, Roesch ruled. 'It appears only to protect the economic interest of the network companies in having a divided, ununionized workforce, which is not a stated goal of the legislation,' he wrote." There's a fuller version of the judge's statement here: "A prohibition on legislation authorizing collective bargaining by app-based drivers does not promote the right to work as an independent contractor, nor does it protect work flexibility, nor does it provide minimum workplace safety & pay standards for those workers. It appears only to protect the economic interests of the network companies in having a divided, ununionized workforce which is not the stated goal of the legislation."

"The Supreme Court launches a 'political torpedo' right at the Biden administration On Tuesday night, the Supreme Court announced a consequential decision that amounted to an aggressive assertion of judicial authority against President Joe Biden. In a four-sentence order, the justices left in place a lower court's injunction preventing the Biden administration from ending Donald Trump's 'Remain in Mexico' policy, which left many asylum-seekers unable to enter the United States as their cases proceed through the long and arduous process. Essentially, the court is saying Biden has to continue to Trump's policy because he didn't end it in the right way. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by Trump, had previously ordered Biden to continue the policy on the grounds that the decision to reverse it was 'arbitrary and capricious.' The Supreme Court has upheld that procedural move, which is now expected to stay in place as the litigation proceeds. The initial ruling and the injunction were highly criticized when they came down, with many critics arguing that they represented extreme overreach by a conservative judge trying to undermine a politically opposed administration. Vox's Ian Millhiser said Judge Kacsmaryk didn't even understand the law he referenced [...] Now, the Supreme Court's conservatives have said that the judge's injunction will remain in place, fulfilling Milhiser's fears. All three liberal justices on the court dissented from the decision, though there was no written opinion of the court nor any dissents. 'Absolute insanity. SCOTUS' conservative majority repeatedly cleared away lower court injunctions so that Trump could implement his immigration agenda. Now it lets a single district court judge dictate foreign policy for the Biden administration. This is beyond outrageous,' said Slate's Mark Joseph stern. Many critics echoed the point that the court was generally deferential to the Trump administration on immigration and foreign policy. It left in place Trump's ban on migrants from Muslim countries, despite clear evidence that it was inspired by racist animus."
Vox: "The decision upends the balance of power between the elected branches and the judiciary. It gives a right-wing judge extraordinary power to supervise sensitive diplomatic negotiations. And it most likely forces the administration to open negotiations with Mexico, while the Mexican government knows full well that the administration can't walk away from those negotiations without risking a contempt order. With this order, Republican-appointed judges are claiming the power to direct US foreign policy — and don't even feel obligated to explain themselves.

"Black police groups call for ex-Black Panther jailed for 48 years to be released: Officers' groups say 84-year-old Sundiata Acoli, convicted of murder of New Jersey state trooper, poses no threat to public safety [...] The intervention of the Black groups underscores a rift within police officer organizations. Powerful white-dominated law enforcement associations have been at the forefront of the battle to keep former Black Panthers incarcerated for decades. [...] Acoli, who was born Clark Edward Squire, was given a life sentence in 1974 for the murder of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster the previous year. Acoli had been driving along the New Jersey Turnpike together with two other members of the Black Liberation Army, Assata Shakur (born JoAnne Chesimard) and Zayd Malik Shakur (James Costan) when they were stopped by a state trooper, James Harper, over a defective taillight. In the ensuing melee, shots were fired. Foerster was struck with four bullets and died, and Zayd Malik Shakur was also killed. Harper was wounded, and both Acoli and Assata Shakur were arrested after a police chase. Shakur escaped and fled to Cuba, where she was granted asylum by the Cuban government. In 2013 she became the first woman to be put on the FBI's 'most wanted terrorists' list, and at age 74 she faces a $2m reward for information leading to her capture." Wait, did I read that right? They decided to put her on the "most wanted" list when she was 74?

"Amazon installs huge lockers on a Chicago park's sidewalk, confusing and frustrating neighbors, annoying residents not just with their obstruction and unsightliness, but with the outrage of public land being given over to this use. Then they were even angrier when they found out that the "Amazon Lockers Will Net Park District $137,600 At Most For First Year, Contract Shows," a remarkably paltry sum for the city.

"Private Equity's Potential Payday From Build Back Better: Hundreds of billions of dollars are scheduled for industries private equity dominates. Advocates want to make sure workers and families benefit, not financiers. Legislation with the size and scope of the $4 trillion 'Build Back Better' agenda is like a Bat-Signal for lobbyists, urging them to swarm Capitol Hill without delay. Literally thousands of companies, organizations, and trade groups have lobbied on one or more of the bills in this package. But one industry's representatives keep showing up over and over again, whether in formal lobbying sessions in Congress or more informal meetings: private equity. 'At every point, private equity lines up at the trough,' said one observer close to the discussions. 'There's just somebody in every fucking meeting.' [...] Given that the private equity model involves extracting as much value from portfolio companies as possible, regardless of the quality or success of that underlying business, critics fear that we could end up with a situation where a large amount of money is sent out by the government as a sitting target for fund managers to pilfer. This could end up making these services even worse for the families that use them and the workers who perform the tasks, despite the large federal investment."

RIP: "Ed Asner, who played Lou Grant in two hit shows, dies aged 91: [...] The part brought three best supporting actor Emmys and two best actor awards. He also won Emmys for his roles in the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man (1975-76) and Roots (1976-77). He had more than 300 credits and remained active throughout his 70s and 80s. In 2003, he played Santa Claus in Will Ferrell's hit film Elf. He was John Goodman's father in the short-lived 2004 CBS comedy Center of the Universe and the voice of the elderly hero in the hit 2009 Pixar release, Up. More recently, he was in such TV series as Forgive Me and Dead to Me. [...] Asner remained politically active for the rest of his life and in 2017 published the book The Grouchy Historian: An Old-Time Lefty Defends Our Constitution Against Right-Wing Hypocrites and Nutjobs." The Guardian's fuller obituary is here. "As a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, he remained outspoken in a very conservative industry. 'Socialist means a thing that will curb the excesses of capitalism: the increasing wealth of the rich and decreasing wealth of the poor,' he said. 'I'd like to see a national guarantee of health, a national guarantee of education (through college), fair housing, and sufficient food.'" Ronald Bergen, who wrote the on-file obit for them, died last year.
"The Ed Asner 90th Birthday Tribute"

RIP: "US music star Don Everly dies aged 84 [...] Considered one of pop music's greatest vocal partnerships, Phil and Don Everly had worldwide hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including "Bye Bye Love" and "All I Have to Do Is Dream". Their unique vocal harmonies, coupled with ingenious guitar arrangements and timeless material, had a revolutionary impact on the Beatles, the Hollies, Simon and Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, and Crosby, Stills and Nash." I think I've seen or heard quotes from every one of them saying so, too. They were much loved.

RIP: "Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies aged 80: Musician's publicist says he died peacefully in a London hospital surrounded by his family" The confirmation was necessary because there was actually a Charlie Watts death hoax on the net just a few days earlier.
"Charlie Watts: Jazz man who became rock superstar: Drummer Charlie Watts, who has died at 80, provided the foundation which underpinned the music of the Rolling Stones. The band became a by-word for rock and roll excess but for Watts, playing with the Stones did not become the ego trip that drove Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. A jazz aficionado, Watts vied with Bill Wyman for the title of least charismatic member of the band; he eschewed the limelight and rarely gave interviews And he famously described life with the Stones as five years of playing, 20 years of hanging around."
bmaz also had a nice little appreciation which includes a nice live version of "Gimme Shelter" you oughta hear, too.
"TOP 10 CHARLIE WATTS ROLLING STONES SONGS"
And a little tribute by The Rolling Stones.

RIP: "Carol Carr (1938-2021): Author Carol Carr, 82, died September 1, 2021 of lung cancer. Carr was the author of several short stories, widow of author and editor Terry Carr, and wife of author Robert Lichtman, who survives her. Carr began publishing short fiction with 'Look, You Think You've Got Troubles' in Orbit 5 (1969), and her work also appeared in F&SF and Omni. She collaborated with Terry Carr on 'Some Are Born Cats' (1973) and with Karen Haber on 'First Contact, Sort Of' (1995). Her stories and some non-fiction were collected in Carol Carr: The Collected Writings (2013)." I was closer to Terry than to Carol, but she was someone special.
"A few photos over at File 770.

RIP: "Stanley Aronowitz, Labor Scholar and Activist, Dies at 88: As a self-described 'working-class intellectual,' he declared that direct action was more potent than collective bargaining or conventional politics. [...] 'We've been relying for so long on politicians to solve problems,' he told the magazine In These Times in 2014, 'that the union membership no longer really relies on its own power.' [...] Complaining that 'almost nobody in the social sciences deals with the question of power,' he said: 'What we do not have is an organized left. If you do not have an organized left, you do not have an organized political public intellectual.'"

40 years ago Ronald Reagan was undermining the foundations of our country. Watch "When Reagan Declared War on Working People — Max Alvarez". (32 minutes)

"The Great American Science Heist: How the Bayh-Dole Act Wrested Public Science From the People's Hands ON THE MORNING of June 6, 1979, Navy Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the longest-serving officer in the history of the U.S. armed services, sat down before a Senate subcommittee on the Constitution. Famous as the father of the nuclear submarine program, Rickover had recently emerged as that rarest of Washington breeds: a top-brass crusader against waste and corruption in defense contracting. On this day, he deployed his reputation and characteristic bluntness to stop a bill called the University and Small Business Patent Procedures Act. At stake was the government's long-standing proprietorship of patents on inventions resulting from the research it underwrote. The proposed legislation would hand patents over to the private contractors that conducted research at government expense, essentially gutting the government's ownership stake and paving the way for monopolization. The bill's supporters — those in favor of removing this block — included drug companies, venture capital firms, university patent offices, and the nascent biotech industry. Those opposed to this sweeping change in federal patent policy were led by a fading Democratic coalition committed to New Deal ideas about antitrust regulation, patents, and public science controlled in the public interest. Rickover was a lone but strong military voice for this coalition: a war hero with the authority of having overseen the construction of the first nuclear propulsion systems, one of the most complex government science programs since the Manhattan Project. Speaking before the subcommittee, Rickover railed against the proposed policy changes. 'Government contractors should not be given title to inventions developed at government expense,' he said. 'These inventions are paid for by the public and therefore should be available for any citizen to use or not as he sees fit.'

"Clintonism's Zombie: Making sense of Josh Gottheimer's attempts to sabotage the Democratic agenda [...] It would be one thing if Gottheimer were a rogue, independent political outsider, but he's a nightmare of the Democratic Party's own making, a creation of the Clinton White House from his days as a college undergraduate. Gottheimer joined up ahead of the 1996 re-election campaign on the rapid-response team, the same year that Clinton's signature welfare reform package was signed into law, setting in motion a process that increased poverty, lowered income for single mothers, ballooned the number of people in homeless shelters, and empowered states to eliminate welfare entirely. After Clinton rode that welfare reform, signed just three months before Election Day, into a second term, Gottheimer went to work as the president's youngest speechwriter, serving in the White House alongside Terry Edmonds and Michael Waldman until Clinton termed out in 2001. [...] Gottheimer seems to be the most zealous holdover of a bygone era of the Democratic Party, one that opposes expanding the welfare state, celebrates high-dollar fundraising through close proximity to Wall Street, and cares little for the overall well-being of the party as a whole. While Bidenism struggles to renew New Deal democracy, Gottheimer is working to reinstate a version of Clintonism that many presumed to have passed. That has been richly rewarding for Gottheimer himself, but it remains a lonely campaign. The Congressional Progressive Caucus has a substantial voting edge over Gottheimer and his eight disciples, and Pelosi has given no indication she'll cave to his demands. But it's a rough reminder of the persistence of Clintonism's sway over some Democratic politics and some Democratic pols—largely gone, but not forgotten."

"The Ides of August [...] I was there. Afghans did not reject us. They looked to us as exemplars of democracy and the rule of law. They thought that's what we stood for. And what did we stand for? What flourished on our watch? Cronyism, rampant corruption, a Ponzi scheme disguised as a banking system, designed by U.S. finance specialists during the very years that other U.S. finance specialists were incubating the crash of 2008. A government system where billionaires get to write the rules."

What's amazing about this is not so much what it says as that it's being said by Jonathan Chait, someone who normally acts like nothing in the world is better than "moderate" Democrats. "9 Moderate Democrats Threaten to Tank Entire Biden Presidency: The party has managed to work together, until now. Joe Biden's success to date has owed itself to many factors, the largest of which is the willingness of congressional Democrats to compromise with each other. The narrow margins of the party's majority means almost any member in either chamber can blow up any bill, and just as the dynamic of mutually assured destruction prevented the Soviets and the United States from obliterating each other, it has muted the traditionally fractious Democratic caucus. That dynamic is beginning to change, and the instigators are easy to identity: a handful of moderate House Democrats who have been issuing increasingly aggressive demands, culminating in a new letter threatening to withhold their votes from a budget resolution that will contain Biden's signature domestic legislation and the basis of the party's campaign." And then he actually makes it clear that they are being destructive to the party and their strategy stinks anyway. So Chait's favorite politicians seem to be losing Chait.

From 2015 in The Nation, "This Long-Lost Constitutional Clause Could Save the Right to Vote: This Long-Lost Constitutional Clause Could Save the Right to Vote [...] But an important tool remains unused, all but forgotten in a dark and dusty corner of the shed. Dating back to Reconstruction, it has the great merit of being already enshrined in the Constitution. According to Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, any state that denies or abridges the right to vote for any reason must have its congressional representation reduced in proportion to the number of citizens it disenfranchises. Arguably the most radical clause in the Constitution, it was designed to remake the government and the country. It has never been enforced."

"The Problems Solved by Debutantes: On class, power, whiteness — plus Pride & Prejudice and the Kardashians as "one giant Lydia" [...] So, yes! The original problem the Reformation created was a glut of daughters. Fathers had always married off their daughters to the best possible suitors to keep their wealth as concentrated as possible and to create powerful strategic alliances. Until the Reformation, many rich European families would invest all their money in their 'best' daughter and send the daughters they deemed less valuable to convents to avoid having to dilute their fortunes by providing each one with a dowry. The family would pay a nominal fee for the daughter to live in respectable seclusion, which some young women preferred given that they were not choosing their husbands. When Henry VIII separated from Rome and dissolved all the Catholic institutions in England, these fathers were no longer able to cloister their unmarriageable girls and had to find ways to pair them off. Because marriage was the only remaining respectable path for women, a daughter's failure to marry could embarrass her family and keeping her at home was more expensive than the convent. So, by the time Mr. Bennet throws up his hands in exhaustion about 'what's to be done with all these girls?' in the early pages of Pride and Prejudice, the daughter problem had already been brewing for several hundred years. "

A couple of primers:
George Monbiot in 2016, "Neoliberalism — the ideology at the root of all our problems: Financial meltdown, environmental disaster and even the rise of Donald Trump — neoliberalism has played its part in them all. Why has the left failed to come up with an alternative?"
Stephen Metcalf in 2017, "Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world: The word has become a rhetorical weapon, but it properly names the reigning ideology of our era — one that venerates the logic of the market and strips away the things that make us human."

"Melt the Crown: How the myth of the genius director has erased the careers of some very talented women, and why it's time for the 'auteur' to be tossed out entirely." Isn't it interesting how many "auteurs" lost their spark as directors as soon as they got rid of the wives who helped them make the films that made them famous?

WSWS has a tribute on their website to commemorate "100 years since the birth of Jean Brust", who became a socialist activist back in 1937 and is why our friend Steve gets to call himself a red-diaper baby.

This is one of the more fun ads I've seen in a while, for DirectTV Stream.

"Elvis Costello Plays Penny Lane for Sir Paul at the White House" is kinda sweet.

And this is just plain smashing: Night Music: Jools Holland & Doctor John as the "Boogie Woogie Twins" And for a real surprise, "Liberace Boogie Woogie"

The Everly Brothers, "Wake Up Little Susie"

Saturday, August 21, 2021

You're trying hard not to show it

Villa Belza Biarritz by Maria Vasilevich is from the Biarritz Holidays collection.

"Election 2020: Myths About (Liberal) US Media Still Strong...And Dangerous: It is an enduring belief that the vast majority of US media are 'liberal' or 'leftist.' This is a powerful myth, used by the political right to convince citizens that a secular, urban elite pushes a leftist agenda on the nation via television, newspapers and Internet. This notion wasn't invented by Trump. But Trump has, more than any other President, leveraged that pre-existing distrust and taken it to new depths. As we watch Trump openly fight democracy post-election, it is worth considering how this myth is perpetuated, even internationally." This article totally understates the case.

And nothing proves it like the pull-out from Afghanistan. Let's not forget that it was Trump, and not Biden, who made the deal to quit Afghanistan. Biden delayed somewhat but really had no choice, and somehow managed to officially start the retreat. He actually made a fairly decent speech (for an American Exceptionalist, it was actually way, way better than could be expected) in which he admitted that staying and fighting would not make things better and seemed to have made things worse. So, officially, at least, we are pulling out of Afghanistan.

But make no mistake, we lost this the moment we went in. As some of us pointed out at the time, we didn't even have a reason to be there in the first place, but even if we had, letting Bush, Cheney, and their gang of crazies do it was sheer insanity. It was perfectly clear what their values and priorities were. There is a way to get a positive outcome from the takeover of a country and we know that because we've done it before, but like the whole raft of weirdo neocons and neoliberals, they had a massive allergy to doing anything FDR did right. I'm sure a lot of ordinary people who had grown up knowing about the Marshall Plan that turned two very different enemy nations into thriving democratic allies must have assumed that, sure, since we know how to do this, that's what they'll do. But anyone who'd been paying attention to the careers of Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, and that whole crowd of loonies could see that this was not what they were going to do. This was all about money, from buying loyalty to stuffing their pockets. The last thing they wanted was democracy - in Afghanistan, or in the United States. Afghanis tried to form unions and the Randian weirdos the Bush administration sent in put a stop to that, and any other actions to form a civil society, fast. And then they gave us torture and Guantanamo and people started to suspect that maybe this wasn't what they'd hoped for.

I think my favorite tweet over the last week has been the person who pointed out that it had taken four presidents and billions of dollars to replace the Taliban with the Taliban. (I also like the tweets pointing out how Carter and Reagan pretty much created the Taliban in the name of anticommunism.)

None of which our "liberal" media will tell you, because they are busy completely erasing the entire history of what happened in Afghanistan to have a quick argument about whose fault it all is and, as Margaret Sullivan puts it, "The Afghan debacle lasted two decades. The media spent two hours deciding whom to blame. Here's the predictable headline on Miranda Devine's column in the Murdoch-owned New York Post: 'Joe Biden's defeat in Afghanistan will echo for eternity.' She trashes Biden — 'the reverse Midas touch' in all things so far — and admiringly quotes former president Donald Trump on what a great job he would have done. (It does seem like he had his chances, though, doesn't it?) There it is: the loser and the forever, would-be winner."

Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that being willing to shore up American Exceptionalism and oligarchy is pretty much literally part of the job description for working in major America media. As Atrios said of these Asymmetries:

The Right gets a deferential hearing on every issue, no matter how out of touch it is (anti-vax, for example). Not just deferential, but coverage which implies it is the majority view, that Democrats should be on the defensive and conciliatory.

The Left can't even get that treatment when its views are, actually, the clear majority view (Forever war in Afghanistan is bad).

Any normal person hearing Biden's speech nodded and felt relieved that at least one nightmare was ending, at last. The polls showed overwhelming support from the public. But the Washington press corps all agreed with the Fox News view, weirdly contradictory as it was, that Biden should not be ending this disastrous failure of a war.

Not that I want to let Biden entirely off the hook, of course. Because unlike those of us who were screaming, "No, don't do this, it'll be a disaster!" Joe Biden was cheering on this stupid war 20 years ago. The "respectable" media did not defend her while she was excoriated mercilessly on Fox, and her colleagues on "our" side of the aisle did not have her back, but only one person in Congress proved not to be a coward on that day: Barbara Lee.

* * * * *

"Infrastructure Summer: Bipartisan Bill Boosts Corporate Giants: In broadband and other areas, the corporate dominance that has been an impediment to progress emerges unscathed. If Tuesday's passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act leads to even a significant portion of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda through budget reconciliation, it will herald a new age of government investment and intervention in the economy, and a reversal of decades of pullbacks in public spending. But in another sense, the IIJA—and potentially the companion reconciliation bill—also carries on a tradition from the Clinton and Obama years of sidestepping big fights with corporate interests. It is not enough for Democratic lawmakers to have relearned how to spend money if they also continue to shy away from breaking power. One of the clearest examples of this is how broadband is treated in the IIJA. On the surface, a $65 billion investment in broadband, with an emphasis on getting low-income and rural households connected and closing the digital divide, is an unalloyed positive. But how much of that money will actually go toward meeting these goals, and how much will funnel into the coffers of incumbent telecom companies that for decades have resisted spending much money on rural and low-income deployment?"

"Texas Democrats fail to show up to state legislature and file lawsuit against Republican governor over voting bill: Democratic lawmakers from Texas allege Governor Greg Abbott has infringed their constitutional rights in a new lawsuit. Texas Democrats have again failed to show up to the state Capitol as Republicans began their third attempt at passing new voting laws. It prolonged a monthslong standoff that escalated in July when 50 Democratic state lawmakers fled the state and hunkered down in Washington DC." But so many of the Republican delegation has been exposed to covid that they'll be in quarantine and still won't be able to make a quorum.

"The USPS awarded a $120 million contract to a company with financial ties to the postmaster general: The U.S. Postal Service has secured a $120 million, five-year deal with XPO logistics, a major logistics contractor with financial and personal ties to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, The Washington Post reports." Why hasn't Biden fired this guy already? Or is it pointless to ask why Biden seems content with yet another of Trump's actions?

"'Borderline illegal': Courtesy tows remain Philly's persistent parking nightmare: Drivers who get sucked into the bureaucratic vortex describe it as city-sanctioned auto theft, sometimes followed by punishing fines from the Philadelphia Parking Authority. Gary Isaacs returned home from a trip to California in January to discover his car missing from its Center City parking spot and two alarming letters in the mail. The Philadelphia Parking Authority, in a letter dated Dec. 22, informed Isaacs that it had towed and impounded his car. And a notice from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, dated Dec. 30, warned him that the car was scheduled to go on the auction block. 'YOU ARE HEREBY GIVEN NOTICE,' the court wrote, 'that the vehicle listed below will be sold at auction and your legal and equitable interest in that vehicle will be extinguished. ...' Isaacs was mystified. He'd last parked his 2005 BMW on Camac Street, within the area covered by his parking permit —not in a loading zone on Lombard Street, as the PPA was contending in its letter. The next day, he called the parking authority, hoping to clear up the misunderstanding. A woman there said his car had apparently been 'courtesy towed' from Camac to Lombard because while he was gone, his original parking space had been declared a temporary no-parking zone, reasons unknown. 'I had never heard of a 'courtesy tow,'' said Isaacs, 61, who runs a small nonprofit that fights homelessness. 'It sounds like a generous thing to do. Except they towed it to a place where it was illegal to park. And then they ticketed it, and impounded it, and put it up for auction.'"

"The Tragic Case of the Wrong Thomas James: Two men with the same name. A murder, a manhunt, and a chilling question: Did a Florida court hand down a life sentence because of a mistaken identity? [...] 'Thomas James,' the judge read aloud. James stood. But before the judge could detail the charges, the court clerk sitting below the bench reached into a large accordion folder and pulled out a document. 'Your honor,' he recalled the clerk saying, 'there's a warrant out for him for first-degree murder.' James raised his eyebrows. This was a mistake; he hadn't murdered anybody. He assumed his file had gotten mixed up with that of one of the other guys on the docket. The warrant spelled out the particulars: Seven months earlier, near Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood, a robbery had gone bad and a man was killed. Hearing all this, James was stunned but not yet scared. They can't be talking about me, he thought. He lived 15 miles from Coconut Grove and had been there only once or twice in his life, and that was years ago. None of this made sense to him. But a mistake this egregious would surely get straightened out quickly." But that never happened, and the wrong Thomas James has been incarcerated since 1990.

Doctorow, "Utilities governed like empires: Tech companies' "mission statements" are easy to dismiss as BS, but they're deadly serious and surprisingly successful in their aspirations to dominate the digital world. That's how we've ended up in a situation where a single company might control your email archives, family photos, business's cloud drives, home security system, mobile devices and media collections. But these companies don't act like they've deliberately coiled their tendrils around every aspect of your digital life; they act like you're just a customer whom they can kick off the platform the way a bartender would 86 you after last call."

Also Doctorow, "Elite debt hits record heights [...] When you are very rich, you can borrow money at interest rates that are next to zero; you can also take your income in stock, rather than cash. Stock is only taxed when you sell it, and then at the lower capital gains rate, because the IRS rewards gambling and punishes work. Put those two facts together, and you've got wealthy people who effectively never "earn" any taxable income — instead, they stake their assets as collateral on tax-free loans at sub-1% interest. The Propublica stories even reveal wealthy people illegally taking deductions on the loan interest, which the IRS doesn't seem to punish. Why would they? The rich are different from you and me. We pay tax. They don't."

And Doctorow: "End of the line for Reaganomics [...] Prior to Reagan, US antitrust enforcers relied upon a theory of "harmful dominance," cracking down on monopolies when their scale allowed them to hurt workers, or the environment, or suppliers. Harmful dominance is the theory that unaccountable power is dangerous — that giving corporate leaders control over the market lets them pervert the political process and inflict harms on the rest of us in ways that are hard to detect and even harder to prevent. That principle created a policy that was designed to keep companies weaker than the democratically accountable state, rather than allowing them to grow so large that the could capture their regulators and start to write their own regulations. Reagan nuked "harmful dominance," replacing it with radical theories from one of Nixon's top crooks, Robert Bork, whose book THE ANTITRUST PARADOX advances a conspiracy theory about US antitrust — that the framers of these laws never meant to protect us from monopoly at all."

"The granddaughter of anti-LGBT+ crusader Anita Bryant, who described gay people as 'human garbage', is marrying another woman: Bryant, 81, is a former celebrity singer and orange juice spokesperson, who in the 1970s turned her attention to anti-gay activism, ending her career in the entertainment industry. [...] Her granddaughter has now spoken out about her struggle over whether to invite her grandmother to her same-sex wedding."

Clay Risen's obit for Glen Ford in the NYT without the paywall, with a very early photo, "Glen Ford, Black Journalist Who Lashed the Mainstream, Dies at 71."

Good thread from Ron Knox about how monopolies rob us: "1. Hello. For 40 years, our economic regulators told us big corporations were not necessarily bad, and corporate industrial power was actually good for regular folks. We've known that was wrong. Regular folks aren't better off. But now we have data to back it up. A thread. 2. The data shows that, since the 1950s, the amount of wealth dominant companies take from shoppers, workers and the rest of us has grown by two orders of magnitude. That money leaves our wallets and our paychecks and ends up in the bank accounts of executives and shareholders. 3. Again, we've known this, but until now it wasn't clear the extent to which this has happened, and the kinds of companies and industry structures that are responsible for it. As always, the history is important here." Go read the rest.

"If the BBC is politically neutral, how does it explain Andrew Neil? He symbolises the rightwing domination of our media. Yet a politics presenter as aligned to the left would not be tolerated. Imagine this. The BBC appoints a prominent radical leftist, a lifelong Bennite, the chairman of the publisher of a prominent leftwing publication no less, as its flagship political presenter and interviewer. This person has made speeches in homage of Karl Marx calling for the establishment of full-blooded socialism in Britain, including a massive increase in public ownership, hiking taxes on the rich to fund a huge public investment programme, and reversing anti-union laws. They appear on our 'impartial' Auntie Beeb wearing a tie emblazoned with the logo of a hardline leftist thinktank. Their BBC editor is a former Labour staffer who moves to become Jeremy Corbyn's communications chief. They use their Twitter feed — where they have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers thanks to a platform handed to them by the BBC — to promote radical leftist causes. This would never happen. It is unthinkable, in fact. If the BBC establishment somehow entered this parallel universe, the British press would be on the brink of insurrection. And yet, the strange case of Andrew Neil, the ultra-Thatcherite former Sunday Times editor who is the BBC's flagship political presenter, is an instructive example about how our media works."

"It's No 'Mistake' That Bill Gates Was Palling Around With Jeffrey Epstein: In a new interview, Bill Gates apologized for his ties with Jeffrey Epstein even as he downplayed their relationship. That's self-serving nonsense: their friendship was a grotesque demonstration of what happens when you give a small group of people unfathomable wealth and power. Bill Gates's long-overdue fall from grace has been a rare silver lining in an otherwise ghastly year. But he doesn't seem to be enjoying it as much as the rest of us. Deservedly dogged by bad press for his stalwart defense of pharmaceutical profits over COVID-19 patients in poor countries, sexual harassment of Microsoft employees, and his apparently extensive ties to multimillionaire and sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein, Gates tried for some damage control in an interview last week with CNN's Anderson Cooper. [...] But the pervasiveness of Gates funding doesn't justify its angelic sheen: it means that a slice of Bill's ill-gotten goods has been reallocated to address the misery that he and his ruling-class allies played no small part in creating. The 'diseases of poverty' the foundation combats are called that for a reason — they persist because global capitalism churns out a handful of gazillionaires while dooming millions a year to die of conditions that are curable or manageable using resources controlled by for-profit companies. The medicines Gates is ostensibly magnanimous enough to dispatch to desperate places overseas are unattainably expensive, thanks to an international intellectual property regime that has arguably benefited Bill Gates more than any other human being on Earth." And which Bill Gates fought hard to impose on us.

"The Democrats' new cult of the popular: Why 'talk about popular issues' is not the magic answer the party is looking for: How should the Democratic Party position itself to win? One option embraced by a faction of the party is to become "shorpilled," referring to the contrarian data guru David Shor. He advocates a position that writer Aaron Freedman intelligibly dubbed "survey liberalism," which Shor has explained this way: "You should put your money in cheap media markets in close states close to the election, and you should talk about popular issues, and not talk about unpopular issues." Concretely, that means placating the racism of white voters, avoiding slogans like "defund the police," being cautious on immigration reform, heavily means-testing welfare programs, and so on —basically the suite of policies moderate Democrats already support —because that's what polls say most voters like. Other prominent believers in this doctrine include writer Matt Yglesias, former President Barack Obama, and reportedly members of the Biden White House. I am skeptical. [...] This isn't just about individuals, either. Consider Gallup, one of the oldest and most-reputable polling firms on earth. For years now it has been conducting a set of polls on Social Security that are wildly biased and ideological —smearing the program, implying it will disappear soon, and asking how benefits should be cut rather than if they should be cut at all. One poll has this prompt: "Next, I'm going to read a list of problems facing the country .. How much do you personally worry about the Social Security system?" Another: "Which of these statements do you think best describes the Social Security system —it is in a state of crisis, it has major problems, it has minor problems or it does not have any problems?" Another: "How long do you think it will be until the costs of the Medicare and Social Security programs create a crisis for the federal government[?]" [...] This is because of a well-funded, decades-long neoliberal propaganda campaign to cut the program, explained well in an old Slate article by Yglesias, of all people. "Important People absolutely despise Social Security," he wrote, because "Taxing working people to hand out free money so people don't need to work is antithetical to the spirit of capitalism." Eventually the Gallup pollsters internalized the notion that Social Security is a problem as neutral and non-ideological, and started writing polls reflecting that thinking. (More welfare-friendly polls have naturally found much more positive results for Social Security.) A similar abuse of polls and the rhetoric of political "realism" was a key part of the strategy neoliberals used to take control of the Democratic Party in the 1970s and 1980s. When George McGovern got smashed by Nixon in 1972, they declared that the New Deal was dead, and Democrats needed to pivot to the right to win. This argument was facially dubious —every Democratic presidential candidate who lost between 1980 and 1988 was some kind of neoliberal, yet somehow their ideas were not blamed for the loss —but when Bill Clinton finally won, they closed the rhetorical circuit. From that day forward the Democratic leadership has hectored its own base that leftist ideas are always unpopular and doomed (so as to keep them off the policy agenda) and that the most important characteristic by far in a politician is their ability to get elected. [...] The policies Democrats run on will face a coordinated attack from extremely loud and well-funded liars, no matter what they are."

Here's a handy little video you can pass along the next time someone tries to tell you that the government can't do anything: "Capitalism Didn't Make the iPhone, You iMbecile."

It seems like pre-history, now, but Margaret Thatcher, who was a scientist before she was Prime Minister, once sounded the alarm on climate change. But then she stopped and built a world where heeding those warnings became impossible.

Rude Bitch is now online. So I read it, and honestly, I can't believe we ever wrote that stuff. Maybe I shouldn't even post the link.

The Righteous Brothers, "You've Lost That Loving Feeling"