"Gillibrand Statement On The Gutting Of Bipartisan Military Justice Reforms By House And Senate Armed Services Leadership" — or as David Dayen put it on Twitter: "Gillibrand's full statement on what was done to her military justice reform is quite something. She spent a decade mustering support and has 2/3 of the Senate in her corner, and still couldn't get past Congress's Pentagon gatekeepers." Dday's story is here.
"Congress 'Asleep at the Switch' as Biden Continues Trump-Era Ploy to Privatize Medicare: More than 1,500 physicians warn that the experiment threatens 'the future of Medicare as we know it' A Trump-era pilot program that could result in the complete privatization of traditional Medicare in a matter of years is moving ahead under the Biden administration, a development that—despite its potentially massive implications for patients across the U.S.—has received scant attention from the national press or Congress. On Tuesday, a group of physicians from around the nation will try to grab the notice of lawmakers, the Biden White House, and the public by traveling to Washington, D.C. and demanding that the Health and Human Services Department immediately stop the Medicare experiment, which is known as Direct Contracting (DC). [...] Advocates have been publicly sounding the alarm about the DC program for months, warning that it could fully hand traditional Medicare over to Wall Street investors and other profit-seekers, resulting in higher costs for patients and lower-quality care."
"Progressives -- And The American People -- Want To Expand Medicare; Conservatives Want To Privatize It [...] Even Republican voters say they would be more likely to support the Build Back Better Act if it includes allowing Medicare to negotiate the cost of certain prescription drugs, something that is currently being blocked by corrupt Republicans plus corrupt Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Johnson made the point last week that corrupt conservatives in thrall to Big PhRMA want to move the opposite direction... and already are. "A Trump-era pilot program," wrote Johnson, "that could result in the complete privatization of traditional Medicare in a matter of years is moving ahead under the Biden administration, a development that-- despite its potentially massive implications for patients across the U.S.-- has received scant attention from the national press or Congress."
"As Buttigieg Eyes a Presidential Run, His DOT Is Floundering: The transportation secretary has a major role to play in easing the supply chain crisis. Pete Buttigieg isn't doing the job." As always, there is much that could be done, but no one is doing it.
"As Executives Hike Prices, US Corporations Rake in Biggest Profits Since 1950: 'Prices are high,' said Sen. Sherrod Brown, 'because corporations are raising them—so they can keep paying themselves with ever-larger executive bonuses and stock buybacks.' New data released by the Commerce Department shows that over the last two quarters of 2021, U.S. corporations outside the finance sector have raked in their largest profits since 1950—a windfall that belies CEO gripes about rising labor costs and broader inflationary pressures in the economy. 'Let's be clear. The problem is not the worker who got a small raise and a $1,400 check seven months ago.' The Commerce Department figures, as Bloomberg reported Tuesday, show that overall corporate profits were up 37% from the previous year while employee compensation was up just 12%."
A lefty won in Honduras. You can tell La Prensa is in denial.
"Utah Makes Welfare So Hard to Get, Some Feel They Must Join the LDS Church to Get Aid: Utah's safety net for the poor is so intertwined with the LDS Church that individual bishops often decide who receives assistance. Some deny help unless a person goes to services or gets baptized. Near the start of the pandemic, in a gentrifying neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah, visitors from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived at Danielle Bellamy's doorstep. They were there to have her read out loud from the Book of Mormon, watch LDS videos and set a date to get baptized, all of which she says the church was requiring her to do in exchange for giving her food. Bellamy, desperate for help, had tried applying for cash assistance from the state of Utah. But she'd been denied for not being low-income enough, an outcome that has become increasingly common ever since then-President Bill Clinton signed a law, 25 years ago, that he said would end 'welfare as we know it.' State employees then explicitly recommended to Bellamy that she ask for welfare from the church instead, she and her family members said in interviews."
"'The Jewish-Palestinian Conflict' Is Not a Phrase You Want to Hear From a Supreme Court Justice [...] I'm fairly sure the justice was referring to the ongoing dispute between the state of Israel and the Palestinian people living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, a secular conflict, albeit one with a religious subtext. But the only people I've ever heard refer to the situation as the 'Jewish-Palestinian' conflict were conservative American Christians whose interest in Israel's survival is based on anticipating the time in which, some Scripture says, all the Jews will return to Israel, one of the precipitating events leading to the return of Christ and the Final Judgment at the end of the world. I am not saying this is what Justice Barrett believes, but, even if this were a slip of the tongue, it was a signifying one, and a startling one coming from the bench of the highest court in the land."
"Built to Lie: A new book about the Boeing 737 MAX disaster exposes the company's allergy to the truth. [...] Boeing's self-hijacking plane took its first 189 lives on October 29, 2018, just over two months after it had been delivered to the Jakarta Airport terminal of Indonesia's reigning discount carrier Lion Air. Fishermen described the fuselage plunging nose-first, directly perpendicular to the Java Sea, at speeds many times that of Komarov's four-and-a-half mile descent from the half-baked Soyuz 1, with its malfunctioning parachutes. A 48-year-old diver dispatched to plumb the deep sea floor for body parts and the elusive cockpit voice recorder became the 190th fatality. As with the Soyuz, in which the famous cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was said to have detailed 200 outstanding manufacturing defects in a memo to superiors, the 737 MAX had been the subject of numerous ignored whistleblower reports, tormented confessions, and abrupt career changes; the general manager of the plane's final assembly line outside Seattle had resigned in despair the week Lion Air took delivery. But three years later, nothing has surfaced to suggest that any senior official at Boeing took so much as a passing glance at the corpse stew its greed chucked into the Java Sea, much less any semblance of responsibility."
RIP: "Fred Hiatt, Washington Post editorial page editor, dies at 66," after 20 years of making that editorial page an embarrassing collection of "centrist" whining and right-wing crankery. He shilled for war and neoliberalism vigorously, but it's unlikely he'll be replaced by anyone good, so there's no cause for jubilation.
RIP: Bob Dole at 98, former US Senate hard man. "When Dole ran for the Senate in 1968 to replace the retiring Frank Carlson, he was largely seen as a hard-line conservative. That's because he was a hard-line conservative. He did have occasional bouts of moderation. He worked with George McGovern on a bill to expand food stamps, for instance. But he both hated Democrats and on the vast majority of issues was on the right of the Republican caucus. He rose fast in the Republican apparatus though, based mostly on his hard-line approach to Democrats that appealed to the New Right. In 1971, he was named chairman of the Republican National Committee and became a close advisor to Richard Nixon. [...] In 1990, Dole pushed through the one positive thing he did in his career and it is highly telling. This was the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is of course an unvarnished good. It has significantly improved the lives of millions of Americans in the decades since. Dole put all his energy behind it. But that was the rub — the only reason he did this is that he personally was disabled. Yes, he deserved credit for the ADA. But Bob Dole is the platonic example of the conservative politician who hates government except for this one thing which personally benefits me and so on this issue I am a big supporter of government. Did Dole ever extrapolate from his disability to think, hey maybe the government could also help other people who have other problems out of their control? Ha ha ha ha ha, of course not. [...] (A story from a friend who hails from Arkansas: His father bumped into Dale Bumpers in a parking lot one day. Bumpers was still a senator at that time. His father asked him why Republicans were blocking everything Democrats proposed. Bumpers told him directly, and this is a quote: 'Bob Dole is an evil man.')"
"The Elephant In The Room: Rick Perlstein On The Evolution Of The American Conservative Movement [...] American conservatism is upholding hierarchy and authority and fighting against movements of liberation, the taproot of which is the New Deal: the Depression-era social programs that established the modern American state as a referee that aims to make society freer and fairer. [...] The Republicans used to complain that they couldn't win elections because 'no one shoots Santa Claus.' What they meant was that Democrats used the public treasury to help ordinary Americans by, for example, building massive dams that provided jobs, cheap power, and wonderful lakes for recreation. But in the economic traumas of the late 1970s, the old ways of doing things didn't seem to work anymore, so Jimmy Carter had to shoot Santa Claus. Carter's mantra was that Americans needed to sacrifice in order to rescue the country from economic perdition. That was a big reason Reagan won."
The Washington Post was terrible even before Bezos bought it, but this article reminded me that pretty much every "take-down" of progressive programs I see in social media appeared there first. "With Bezos at the Helm, Democracy Dies at the Washington Post Editorial Board: In the Soviet Union, everybody was aware that the media was controlled by the state. But in a corporate state like the U.S., a veneer of independence is still maintained, although trust in the media has been plummeting for years."
I loved this movie, so I was glad to see this short tribute to it. "Harold and Maude: 50 years on, Hal Ashby's box-office bomb is a black comedy classic: This 70s romcom continues to charm with its dark humour and undercurrent of optimism"
At the other end of the spectrum, Tom Brevoort's evaluation of the latest in the Doctor Who saga is all too accurate. And a scary departure from the Doctor we know.
Jonathan Coulton, "Chiron Beta Prime"