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.
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.)