I just haven't had the heart. The weeks pass and instead of the $2000 checks that were explicitly promised to "go out the door immediately" during the Georgia Senate campaign, Democrats now pretend that "$2000 checks immediately" was really just "$1400 sometime in the spring, possibly for some means-tested groups." The promised $15 minimum wage is, according to Biden, unlikely to happen. And will he deliver on relief for student debt? Maybe a little bit will be canceled, with a lot of means-testing, but certainly not enough. Bear in mind that the people stopping all of these things are Democrats. Biden could cancel all student debt without Congress' agreement right now. Joe Manchin wants to be the important deciding vote in abolishing the Democratic agenda and stopping $15 — and Biden doesn't seem to want to lean on him about it. Mitch McConnell is not in a position to make Senate rules anymore. It's almost as if the Democrats decided to get started early depressing Democratic turnout in the mid-terms.
Lee Carter does it again: "Virginia all but certain to become first southern state to abolish death penalty: State house's vote makes abolition assured, a historically important step since capital punishment emerged from the south as a legal alternative to lynching [...] The vote in the Democrat-controlled house by 57 votes to 41 makes abolition assured. Virginia's governor, Ralph Northam, has made clear that he will sign the abolition bill, though procedural niceties are likely to delay that final step until April. The decision to scrap the death penalty in Virginia is hugely significant on a number of levels. The commonwealth is now set to become the 23rd state in the union to turn its back on capital punishment, having been the first in the nation to carry out an execution — in 1608 it put to death Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony for spying for Spain. [...] Between 1800 and 1920, Virginia executed 625 black and 58 white people. In the more contemporary era, between 1900 and 1969 the state put to death 68 men for rape or attempted rape. In every one of those cases the prisoners who were killed mainly in the electric chair were black. No white man was ever executed in Virginia for rape or attempted rape. Two men remain on Virginia's death row, Anthony Juniper, 50, and Thomas Porter, 46. Should abolition be enacted, they would have their death sentences commuted to life in prison with no chance of parole." Virginia has actually executed more people than Texas has.
"Illinois Becomes 1st State To Eliminate Cash Bail: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill Monday that makes Illinois the first state in the country to abolish cash bail payments for jail release for people who have been arrested and are waiting for their case to be heard. The practice has long been controversial with criminal justice reform advocates who call cash bail a "poor people's tax" that has had a disproportionately negative impact on people of color. It leaves those who can't come up with the money in jail for weeks or longer or even accepting plea deals as a way to get out."
"The Supreme Court just made an important and promising shift on qualified immunity in a case called McCoy v. Alamu — although they did it so quietly that you wouldn't notice if you didn't look closely. Here's the scoop, in a thread..."
"LETTER FROM LONDON: The Matter of Assange's Lawyers Considering a Cross Appeal: Julian Assange's lawyers are considering bringing a cross appeal to the High Court in London disputing parts of District Judge Vanessa Baraitser's Jan. 4 judgment not to extradite Assange to the United States, according to a report by journalist Tareq Haddad. Baraitser refused the U.S. request on narrow grounds, saying Assange's extradition would put his life and health at risk. But Baraitser sided with the U.S. on every other point of law and fact, making it clear that in the absence of the life and health issues she would have granted the U.S. request. That opens the way for the U.S. government to seek the extradition of other persons, including journalists, who do the same things as Assange did, but who cannot rely on the same life and health issues. It also means that if the U.S. wins the appeal it filed last Friday in High Court it can try Assange in the U.S. on the Espionage Act charges that went unchallenged by Baraitser. If Assange's lawyers counter the U.S. appeal with one of their own in the High Court against Baraitser's upholding of the espionage charges, it would be heard simultaneously with the U.S. appeal."
Amazon sues New York to claim immunity from state COVID-19 safety regulations: On Friday, Amazon filed a lawsuit in federal district court against New York state attorney general Letitia James, claiming that the company is not subject to 'state oversight' and is not required to comply with New York's workplace health and safety laws and regulations as they relate to the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit is a display of boundless arrogance befitting a conglomerate controlled by one of the world's richest megabillionaires, Jeff Bezos. Amazon's legal theory is that it is not required to comply with New York safety laws or regulations because those are allegedly superseded or 'preempted' by more lenient federal regulations. Until recently, the federal regulations at issue were promulgated by the Republican Trump administration, which ferociously opposed any measure that would protect workers' lives at the expense of corporate profits. This policy has been continued in all essential respects by the new Democratic Biden administration, which is currently engaged in an intensifying campaign to reopen schools, carried over without interruption from the Trump administration. Schools are known to contribute dramatically to the spread of the deadly virus."
"Nevada bill would allow tech companies to create governments: CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Planned legislation to establish new business areas in Nevada would allow technology companies to effectively form separate local governments. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak announced a plan to launch so-called Innovation Zones in Nevada to jumpstart the state's economy by attracting technology firms, Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Wednesday. The zones would permit companies with large areas of land to form governments carrying the same authority as counties, including the ability to impose taxes, form school districts and courts and provide government services. The measure to further economic development with the 'alternative form of local government' has not yet been introduced in the Legislature. Sisolak pitched the concept in his State of the State address delivered Jan. 19. The plan would bring in new businesses at the forefront of 'groundbreaking technologies' without the use of tax abatements or other publicly funded incentive packages that previously helped Nevada attract companies like Tesla Inc. Sisolak named Blockchains, LLC as a company that had committed to developing a 'smart city' in an area east of Reno after the legislation has passed. The draft proposal said the traditional local government model is 'inadequate alone' to provide the resources to make Nevada a leader in attracting and retaining businesses and fostering economic development in emerging technologies and industries."
Chicagoans voted for a black lesbian mayor and got Rahm Emanuel, Jr., who gave the Covid funding to the police, mishandled the summer's civil unrest, and canceled police accountability. And that's just the headlines for one day.
Great news! "The White House Doesn't Want To Hear From Larry Summers: How Obama's chief economic advisor ended up on the wrong side of the Biden administration Economist Larry Summers has been the kingpin of every economic calamity Democrats have weathered over the last three decades. But Barack Obama's National Economic Council chair during the Great Recession finds himself as persona non grata this week after penning an op-ed undermining the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package President Joe Biden is trying to push through Congress. Summers' treatise spread from wonk to wonk in the White House with the contagion of a venereal disease—and was about as well-received. One aide characterized the response as 'widespread disagreement.' White House economists had already been booked for media hits to discuss the January jobs report, airtime that permitted many administration voices to rebuke Summers in unison."
"Summers turn to fall: For the first major legislative effort of his presidency, Joe Biden proposed a $1.9 trillion Covid relief package, partly made up of billions in state and local aid, billions more for vaccine production and distribution, and direct checks to tens of millions of people, to honor his campaign promise. A group of Republicans countered with their own plan, suggesting he cut it down by more than two thirds. In exchange they'd support the bill and give him the 60 votes he'd need to end a filibuster by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Then something strange happened. Biden met with the Republicans, heard them out, and said no. Democrats have no desire to relive the hell that was 2009. Back then, Republicans strung Democrats along, sometimes for months, only to ditch them at the last minute or, as they did with Obama's stimulus, make it too small to do the job effectively. [...] (The one exception appears to be Larry Summers. The former Obama adviser played a key role in arguing for a smaller stimulus in 2009, and is doing so again, but this time, Biden wisely kept him out of the White House, and people there, up to and including Biden, are flatly rejecting his advice.)"
"Lies, Damn Lies, And Fact Checking: Jeff Bezos's newspaper is weaponizing fact checking to slander Bernie Sanders and defend GOP tax cuts that enrich billionaires and Amazon. Democracy dies in darkness. Jeff Bezos this week announced that he is stepping down from his job running Amazon in order to focus more on his other assets, including the Washington Post. Less than 24 hours later, his newspaper's chief 'fact checker' Glenn Kessler published a screed attacking Bezos's highest-profile political opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, for mentioning that Donald Trump's 2017 tax law benefited rich people and large corporations. This might seem like a simple example of a pundit knowing exactly who pays his salary, but in this case, the pundit in question has his own axe to grind. Kessler is the scion of a fossil fuel baron, which means he has an interest in defending tax cuts that were a particularly big financial windfall for oil companies, including the one linked to his family, according to Kessler's own newspaper."
"A majority of the people arrested for Capitol riot had a history of financial trouble: Trail of bankruptcies, tax problems and bad debts raises questions for researchers trying to understand motivations for attack. [...] 'I think what you're finding is more than just economic insecurity but a deep-seated feeling of precarity about their personal situation,' said Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a political science professor who helps run the Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab at American University, reacting to The Post's findings. 'And that precarity — combined with a sense of betrayal or anger that someone is taking something away — mobilized a lot of people that day.'"
"Malcolm X family demands reopening of murder investigation: The daughters of assassinated US black civil rights leader Malcolm X have requested that the murder investigation be reopened in light of new evidence. They cite a deathbed letter from a man who was a policeman at the time of the 1965 killing, alleging New York police and the FBI conspired in the murder. Raymond Wood wrote his responsibility was to ensure Malcolm X's security team were arrested days before he was shot dead in Manhattan, his family says."
"The Murder of Malcolm X: There was nothing J. Edgar Hoover feared more than a charismatic black radical who could inspire the oppressed to fight back. And that's why, according to a compelling new series, the FBI had its fingerprints all over Malcolm X's murder."
RIP: Anne Feeney, legendary Pittsburgh folk singer and political activist, dies at 69 [...] Born in Charleroi and raised in Brookline, Feeney took early inspiration from her grandfather, William Patrick Feeney, a mine worker's union organizer and a violinist. In 1967, while still in high school, she bought a Martin guitar and did her first public performance, singing Phil Ochs songs, at an anti-war rally in 1969. She was arrested at the Republican National Convention in Miami in 1972 protesting the nomination of President Richard Nixon."
RIP: "Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and founder of City Lights bookshop, dies aged 101: Poet and countercultural pioneer put on trial for publishing Allen Ginsberg's Howl went on to become a beloved icon of San Francisco." He was important to us for a lot of reasons, just aside from the poetry, of course. I've often joked that I was once kicked out of bed by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, but what really happened was that Martin Luther King had been shot, our neighbors warned us that it might not be safe to stick around on Kalorama Road, and Mark Estrin had volunteered his digs for the night — until Ferlinghetti unexpectedly arrived in the middle of the night and Mark woke us all up and drove our entire household up to my parents' place to give Ferlinghetti room. Bookstore owner, hero of free speech, and the author of "Christ Climbed Down" along with a lot of other things — what's not to like?
RIP: Mary Wilson of the Supremes: "Although she had to wait more than a decade before taking the lead on one of their hit singles, Mary Wilson was the force that held the Supremes together through the episodes of tragedy and internal strife that marked the history of the most successful female pop group of the 1960s. Having endured the removal of one original member, the troubled Florence Ballard, and the defection of another, Diana Ross, to solo stardom, Wilson — who has died aged 76 — worked with their replacements to keep the group's name going." Here she is leading on "Come And Get These Memories".
RIP: "Christopher Plummer, Sound of Music star and oldest actor to win an Oscar, dies aged 91." Just the other night I was watching him in The Return of the Pink Panther. Of course, he gets a genre credit for the Star Trek movie, but most of us knew him first as that guy who didn't like Nazis. Classy guy.
RIP: "Allan Burns: Munsters and Mary Tyler Moore Show creator dies aged 85." Munsters, MTM, Lou Grant, Rhoda, Capn Crunch, Rocky & Bullwinkle - he had a hand in all of them. and also Room 222, a show I'd completely forgotten about until I saw it mentioned in one of his obits and realized I couldn't remember anything about it, so I watched the first episode and thought, wow, this is so strange, I recognize the music, the actors, the characters and their mannerisms (though not their names), but I really don't remember the show. Did I actually watch this thing?
RIP: "Chick Corea, Jazz Pianist Who Expanded the Possibilities of the Genre, Dead at 79: Keyboardist helped Miles Davis usher in the fusion revolution and founded his own game-changing groups, including Return to Forever Chick Corea, the virtuosic keyboardist who broadened the scope of jazz during a career spanning more than five decades, died on Tuesday from a rare form of cancer. A post on his Facebook page confirmed the news. Corea was 79. [...] In the early Sixties, Corea established himself as an A-list pianist, working with Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, and others. Later in the decade, he joined Miles Davis' band and played a key role in helping the trumpeter make the transition to a more contemporary, plugged-in sound on albums like Bitches Brew. Following his work with Davis, he formed his own groundbreaking electric band, Return to Forever, which played some of the most vibrant and dynamic music of the fusion era. In the ensuing decades, Corea threw himself into countless projects, showing off his limitless range — from a refined duo with vibraphonist Gary Burton to his trendsetting Elektric Band. His most recent album, the 2020 live solo disc Plays, showed off his wildly diverse skill set and body of influences, touching on classical pieces, bebop, and more."
RIP: "Bernard Lown, Inventive Heart Doctor and Antiwar Activist, Dies at 99: He created the first effective heart defibrillator and co-founded a physicians group that campaigned against nuclear war, earning a Nobel Peace Prize. [...] While the organization insisted that it had no tilt toward Moscow or Washington and that it regarded atomic war as the ultimate public health disaster that would overwhelm modern medicine, conservative Western critics called its leaders naïve, maintaining that its work played into the hands of Soviet propagandists."
RIP: "Hustler founder and free-speech activist Larry Flynt dies aged 78." I gotta say, I enjoyed seeing him win those lawsuits, but I don't really have much else to say about this.
ROT IN PERDITION: Rush Limbaugh, 70, after decades of filling the airwaves with lies and hate and helping to destroy society in America. Atrios greeted the event with the same words Limbaugh used upon the death of Jerry Garcia: "Just Another Dead Doper." "Point/Counterpoint: Rush Limbaugh" is spot on, too.
"How the Right Won a Postwar Counterrevolution in Economics: The Great Depression thoroughly discredited laissez-faire economics. But over the postwar decades, with the help of generous business funding and political connections, figures like Milton Friedman led a remarkable revival of nineteenth-century economic ideas. They did it by adopting a pseudo-populist rhetoric that celebrated individual choice and autonomy."
"White Fragility Gets Jackie Robinson's Story Wrong: Robin DiAngelo's best-selling book sells a misguided view of baseball integration to her readers and corporate clients. [...] Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey picked Robinson—who grew up in Pasadena and was a four-sport athlete at UCLA—because of his outstanding athleticism and his strong religious faith, college education, and experiences living and playing with white people outside of the South. But anyone with the slightest knowledge of baseball knows that there were Black ballplayers in the Negro Leagues who were as good or better than Robinson when he broke the sport's color line. Moreover, DiAngelo's account entirely omits the protest movement which made it possible for Robinson, and then other Black players, to play in the majors. In DiAngelo's telling, Robinson couldn't play 'before being granted permission by white owners.' This is like saying that women were 'granted' the right to vote by men, instead of acknowledging that women 'won' the vote after decades of movement activism—including lobbying, rallies, public awareness campaigns, and civil disobedience."
"$50T moved from America's 90% to the 1%: Inequality requires narrative stabilizers. When you have too little and someone else has more than they can possibly use, simple logic dictates that you should take what they have. The forbearance exercised by the many when it comes to the wealth of the few isn't down to guards or laws — rather, the laws and the guards are effective because of the story, the story of why this is fair, even inevitable. Think of the story of monarchy and its relationship to the Church: the Church affirms that the monarch (and the aristocracy) was chosen by God ("dieu et mon droit") and the monarchy reciprocates by giving the Church moral and economic power within the kingdom. Capitalism replaced the story of divine will with a story of a self-correcting complex system: humans are born and raised with a variety of aptitudes and tastes, and at any moment, historical exigencies dictate that some individuals are better suited than others to do well."
Cory Doctorow found a gem in his pile of books to be read, and provides an enthusiastic review of Claire Evans' "Broadband [...] I have read a lot of histories of computing, and I had a front row seat for a lot of the events depicted in this book — people I worked with, people I worked against — and yet I was surprised over and over again with details and perspectives I'd never encountered. For example, for some reason, my ninth grade computer science course included lengthy readings on ENIAC, Univac, the Mark I and the Mark II, but none of those mentioned that they were all programmed exclusively or primarily by women. And Evans doesn't just explain this fact, but — because she is a brilliant and lyrical writer — she brings these women to life, turns them into fully formed characters, makes you see and feel their life stories, frustrations and triumphs."
"How The US Legalized Corruption: If you give an American politician $100,000, it's a bribe. If you pay them the same amount for lunch, however, that's a fundraiser. If you wire the incoming Treasury Secretary $1,000,000 that's a bribe. If you put her in front of a lectern, however, it's a speaking fee. Forgive me if I don't understand. White people sure have funny words for bribes."
"These 5 U.S. Towns Are Powered Entirely By Renewable Energy [...] Over the past decade, five locations ? Aspen, Colorado; Greensburg, Kansas; Burlington, Vermont; Kodiak Island, Alaska; and Rock Port, Missouri ? have successfully made the switch to 100 percent renewables."
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine accidentally predicted the 2020s by writing about the 1990s: Income inequality, homelessness, and other social ills of the 2020s — predicted by TV writers looking out their windows in 1995."
Who knew when we got lost in those twisty little passages that we were walking the map of a real cave? "This Woman Inspired One of the First Hit Video Games by Mapping the World's Longest Cave: Patricia Crowther's ex-husband coded her cave maps into one of the first hit adventure games in the 1970s, and she had no idea."
"The Beatles as Lesbians" (illustrated).
Comic strip: Milk & Cheese
Eric Clapton & Friends live, "Miss You"
Bet you weren't expecting bluegrass from me, but this is good, and the lyrics fit right in.
Billy Strings, "Watch It Fall"
Anne Feeney, "Have You Been to Jail for Justice?"