Saturday, June 18, 2022

Stay out of the way of the blood-stained bandit

"Purple Fog" is by Chuka Ibe.

All over the country, progressive DAs and AGs won big in primaries and elections, but that's not how the media reported it. Let's take, for example, The New York Times, which seems to have formed the basis of the response by everyone from The Nation to Joe Biden. "How To Spin An Election: Sometimes the bias of the New York Times is so outrageous that it surprises even me. Because what the NYT did yesterday in its election coverage is so dangerous, I try my best to analyze it carefully below. On June 8, the day after the June 7 elections, the New York Times published a story telling its readers about what it called “the shifting winds on criminal justice” [...] There is a lot of remarkable stuff about this story. But one thing stands out above all the rest: there were huge progressive criminal justice victories in California on election night, and the NYT just ignores them. I honestly could not believe what I was reading." The forces of evil spent quite a lot on the recall of Chesa Boudin, an effort that was strongly aided by the press, which got its talking points direct from the police, and in a low turnout with it only taking a few extra right-wingers to come out to vote, Boudin was recalled. Dean Preston did a good thread on this, in which he notes, "In 2.5 years, Boudin reduced the jail population by 38% and stopped charging kids as adults. The sky did not fall. Violent crime rates did." And his policies are overwhelmingly popular. But people just didn't get out to vote. However, as Chloe Cockburn pointed out, there was some very good news for progressives in California and around the country.

One of the things I can't forgive Trump for is making it sound like criticisms of voting machines are just sour grapes and crackpottery. "A candidate in Georgia who appeared to get few Election Day votes was actually in first place: The discrepancy in a race for a county-level board of commissioners seat was blamed on a series of technical errors. A candidate for a county office near Atlanta was vaulted into first place after a series of technical errors made it appear that she had not mustered a single Election Day vote in a vast majority of precincts in last month's Democratic primary, election officials determined. The candidate, Michelle Long Spears, was shortchanged by 3,792 votes in the District 2 primary for the Board of Commissioners in DeKalb County, Ga., that was held on May 24, according to newly-certified results released on Friday. In all but four of the district's nearly 40 precincts, no Election Day votes were recorded for Ms. Spears, who had received more than 2,000 early votes. She said that she immediately alerted state and county election authorities. 'When I visited several precincts (including my own) after Election Day and saw ZERO votes reported for myself, I was shocked and knew that wasn't accurate,' Ms. Spears said in a text message. After conducting a hand count over the Memorial Day weekend and auditing those returns, election officials determined that they had drastically underreported the vote totals for Ms. Spears"

In the exhausting world of Democratic Fail:
"New York Dems' Giant Gift To Private Equity: New York Democrats just voted to invest a lot more pension money in private equity deals that rarely pay off. New York's Democratic-controlled legislature this week passed a bill to funnel as much as $54 billion more in retiree savings into high-risk Wall Street investments, amid a flood of campaign cash from the financial industry."

"The Real Estate Industry Protects Its Right To Evict: Awash in real estate industry cash, New York's Democratic-controlled legislature avoided any real action this session to address the housing crisis."

"Biden Hikes Medicare Prices And Funnels Profits to Private Insurers: The largest-ever Medicare premium increase will pad the pockets of insurance executives who donated millions to the president's election campaign. Last week, the Biden administration quietly reaffirmed its decision to enact the highest Medicare premium hikes in history right before this year's midterm elections. At the same time, President Joe Biden is endorsing a plan to funnel significantly more Medicare money to insurance companies and further privatize the government insurance program for older Americans and those with disabilities."

"Michigan Couple Says Town Seized Their Building and Offered To Return It if They Bought Two Cars for Police: 'Extortion, there's no other way to explain it,' the couple's attorney says. A Michigan couple says their town seized a building they owned and then demanded that they buy two cars for the police department to get their own property back. The case, first reported by WXYZ Detroit, began in December of 2020 when the mayor of Highland Park and the police chief dropped by a 13,000-square-foot building owned by Justyna and Matt Kozbial for an impromptu fire code inspection. The city officials found a marijuana grow operation inside. The Kozbials, immigrants from Poland, say they had a state license to grow medical marijuana, but the city seized the building anyway and held on to it for 17 months without charging them with a crime. Under civil asset forfeiture laws, police can legally seize property—cash, cars, and even houses—suspected of being connected to criminal activity like drug trafficking, whether or not the owner has been charged with a crime. But not only were the Kozbials never charged with a crime, police never alleged there was any major criminal activity. In a response to an interrogatory filed in the Kozbials' subsequent lawsuit against Highland Park, a city police officer answered 'none' when asked to identify any predicate felony offenses justifying the seizure. Things then took a highly unusual turn when the Kozbials say they received a settlement offer from the town: Stop growing marijuana and buy two vehicles for the local police department."

It seems like every couple of years someone tries to "warn" us against reliable news media like Naked Capitalism or Consortium News. "US State-Affiliated NewsGuard Targets Consortium News: The Pentagon and State Dept.-linked outfit, with an ex-N.S.A. and C.I.A. director on its board, is accusing Consortium News of publishing 'false content' on Ukraine, reports Joe Lauria. Consortium News is being 'reviewed' by NewsGuard, a U.S. government-linked organization that is trying to enforce a narrative on Ukraine while seeking to discredit dissenting views. The organization has accused Consortium News, begun in 1995 by former Associated Press investigative reporter Robert Parry, of publishing 'false content' on Ukraine. It calls 'false' essential facts about Ukraine that have been suppressed in mainstream media: 1) that there was a U.S.-backed coup in 2014 and 2) that neo-Nazism is a significant force in Ukraine. Reporting crucial information left out of corporate media is Consortium News' essential mission. But NewsGuard considers these facts to be 'myths' and is demanding Consortium News 'correct' these 'errors.'"

A lot of people are talking about student loan cancellation because it is one of the things Biden can do without Congress to alleviate economic stresses in the economy, so the pro-poverty lobby makes up excuses not to. They started with a claim that student loan debtors are rich, but "No, Student Loan Cancellation will not Benefit the 'Wealthy'." Then there is the inflation claim but, "No, Student Loan Cancellation will not cause Inflation."

As the United States establishment gets closer to its dream of torturing Julian Assange to death, it's instructive to learn just how much you've been lied to about his case. It's kind of amazing how a false accusation of rape (by the police and newspapers, not the alleged victim herself) has turned into an excuse to pretend it's okay if Assange's life is destroyed as an example to the press of the consequences of trying to hold the powerful accountable. It would be useful if more people read what the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture said when he looked at all of the originating documents and became a witness to the twisting of law that was necessary to victimize Assange: "It quickly became clear to me that something was wrong. That there was a contradiction that made no sense to me with my extensive legal experience: Why would a person be subject to nine years of a preliminary investigation for rape without charges ever having been filed? [...] They intentionally left him in limbo. Just imagine being accused of rape for nine-and-a-half years by an entire state apparatus and by the media without ever being given the chance to defend yourself because no charges had ever been filed. [...] Assange reported to the Swedish authorities on several occasions because he wanted to respond to the accusations. But the authorities stonewalled. [...] Allow me to start at the beginning. I speak fluent Swedish and was thus able to read all of the original documents. I could hardly believe my eyes: According to the testimony of the woman in question, a rape had never even taken place at all. And not only that: The woman's testimony was later changed by the Stockholm police without her involvement in order to somehow make it sound like a possible rape. I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages." The woman, at the urging of an acquaintance, went to ask the police if someone she had had consensual unprotected sex with could be forced to take an HIV test. When she realized the police were going to use this to charge him with rape, she refused to cooperate and left. That night, the newspapers were full of headlines about how Assange was suspected of raping two women. Note that no second woman had been interviewed by the police at that time. And, "It also violated a clear ban in Swedish law against releasing the names of alleged victims or perpetrators in sexual offense cases. The case now came to the attention of the chief public prosecutor in the capital city and she suspended the rape investigation some days later with the assessment that while the statements from S. W. were credible, there was no evidence that a crime had been committed." Assange consistently tried to complete an interview with the police but they kept putting him off. Eventually his lawyer said he needed to be in Berlin soon and asked if Assange could leave the country; they said yes, so he went. And then we hear this story about how he is "hiding" from the police and refusing to talk to them and has absconded to another country. So pretty much everything you've heard is a lie — a lie that is supposed to make it okay to ignore the fact that the United States is illegally trying to persecute him for exposing war crimes.

Interesting interview by Matt Taibbi, "The Incredible Political and Media Journey of Jesse and Tyrel Ventura: Interview with Substack's newest contributors, who may be the ultimate symbols of America's censorship regime. Back on March 12th, not long after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, the New York Times ran one of the first of what would become a series of gloating articles about the demise of Russia Today. The state-sponsored TV network had just been yanked off the air by government fiat in Europe, and removed in America by private carriers like Comcast, Xfinity, and DirecTV. About the channel, the Times wrote: A role at RT America was a rare job in an industry where if you had screwed up, were washed up or were completely new to the field, there weren't many other options… The Times then listed a series of those 'screwups' and 'washouts,' including the paper's own former star war reporter Chris Hedges (also thriving now on Substack) and the father-son tandem Jesse and Tyrel Ventura. The paper neglected to mention that none of these figures had failed at anything, but rather had been driven out of the mainstream press essentially over opposition to the Iraq war."

Some of you may remember Doug J. from Balloon Juice, but these days he's one of my favorite Twitter posters, New York Times Pitchbot. So it was nice to see him getting a profile at CJR, "The bot that saw the Times [...] In 2019, @DougJBalloon changed his name on Twitter to New York Times Pitchbot, committing to a new bit. He was encouraged by a conservative journalist friend and inspired by other 'pitchbot' accounts, particularly one, now retired, that satirized The Federalist, a conservative online publication. 'It's a tricky thing, because The Federalist is so insane. How do you parody it?' he says. 'What I think is more interesting is just how much of that same kind of stupidity is embedded in ostensibly left-center establishment journalism.'"

Froomkin wonders, "Can the New York Times save itself — and us? [...] But as I wrote for The Nation on May 13, the occasional, appropriately alarming news analysis doesn't make up for endless incremental, lobotomized daily campaign stories that exist in a context-free zone." Will the new editor address this problem? I'm predicting he won't. The NYT doesn't hire people to do that.

I watched The Man From Earth and it was riveting, which is a bit hard to believe considering what it is, but then I looked for the trailer and found the full movie instead and accidentally watched the whole thing again, only a few hours after seeing it for the first time. Beautifully done.

A long time ago I saw these guys from only a couple-few yards away, back in the days when we could all sit on floors. They look different in this 2016 video. Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, "Good Shepherd". They sound different, too.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

I don't know how I'm gonna do it

Hazel Ashworth photographed what she called an "Accidentally good colour combination."

"'Perverse' Supreme Court Ruling 'Effectively Ensures That Innocent People Will Remain Imprisoned': 'This is radical. This is horrifying. This is extremely scary,' said one public defender. Legal experts responded with alarm Monday to a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing majority that could lead to the indefinite imprisonment and even execution of people who argue their lawyers didn't provide adequate representation after convictions in state court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor—joined by the other two liberals on the court—also blasted the majority opinion in Shinn v. Martinez Ramirez, writing in her scathing dissent that the decision is both 'perverse' and 'illogical.' The case involved two men, David Martinez Ramirez and Barry Lee Jones, who are on death row in Arizona. The majority determined that inmates can't present new evidence in federal court to support a claim that their post-conviction attorney in state court was ineffective, in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which affirms the right to 'the assistance of counsel' in criminal all prosecutions. 'A federal habeas court may not conduct an evidentiary hearing or otherwise consider evidence beyond the state court record based on ineffective assistance of state post-conviction counsel,' Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority, adding that 'serial relitigation of final convictions undermines the finality that 'is essential to both the retributive and deterrent functions of criminal law.'"

"The Supreme Court just made it much easier to bribe a member of Congress: A case brought by Ted Cruz is a huge boon to rich candidates and moneyed lobbyists. [...] The Court's decision in FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate is a boon to wealthy candidates. It strikes down an anti-bribery law that limited the amount of money candidates could raise after an election in order to repay loans they made to their own campaign. Federal law permits candidates to loan money to their campaigns. In 2001, however, Congress prohibited campaigns from repaying more than $250,000 of these loans using funds raised after the election. They can repay as much as they want from campaign donations received before the election (although a federal regulation required them to do so 'within 20 days of the election'). The idea is that, if already-elected officials can solicit donations to repay what is effectively their own personal debt, lobbyists and others seeking to influence lawmakers can put money directly into the elected official's pocket — and campaign donations that personally enrich a lawmaker are particularly likely to lead to corrupt bargains. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) manufactured a case to try to overturn that $250,000 limit, and now, the Court has sided with him. Indeed, now that this limit on loan repayments has been struck down, lawmakers with sufficiently creative accountants may be able to use such loans to give themselves a steady income stream from campaign donors."

I suppose we can expect the current Supreme Court to endorse the Fifth Circuit's radical crackpot ruling that "Administrative Law Is Unconstitutional: Pretty awesome that two malfunctions by the Electoral College can give us Article III appellate judges who think that enforcement of the Code of Federal Regulations is unconstitutional." Or, as Mark Joseph Stern put it: "The 5th Circuit just dismantled the SEC's power to enforce securities law. This decision is beyond radical. It is nihilistic." Robert Kuttner notes: "Here's the broader point. If the Democratic Party had not gotten into bed with Wall Street under Carter, Clinton and Obama, Democrats might have remained the national majority party—and those far-right judges never would have been appointed. Back when the judiciary was more supportive of regulation, the SEC might have closed down private equity before it even gained a foothold by ruling that you can't take over a company using its own assets as collateral. Now, despite Biden's attempt to revive regulatory agencies with assertive public-minded appointees, good Democratic regulators will be hobbled by the sins of bad Democratic presidents that led to even worse Republican ones, and a legacy of reactionary courts."

It's almost funny that the US suddenly threatens to ease some sanctions on Venezuela. "U.S. ties easing of Venezuela sanctions to direct oil supply: HOUSTON/WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) - U.S. officials have demanded Venezuela supply at least a portion of oil exports to the United States as part of any agreement to ease oil trading sanctions on the OPEC member nation, two people close to the matter said. U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday banned U.S. imports of Russian oil in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, ramping up economic pressure on a key Venezuelan ally."

* * * * *

It started off looking like a bad night...

"They Are Not Even Pretending Anymore: Democratic leaders are joining with oligarchs to try to permanently destroy the progressive movement. Republicans want a revolution, Democrats want to go to brunch — that's been a concise way to understand American politics, but 2022's primary season has made clear it is not exactly accurate. Democratic leaders don't just want avocado toast and mimosas — they want an outright counterrevolution. Only not against the GOP insurrection — against the Democratic rank and file, and in many cases for the politicians most hostile to the party's (purported) agenda. Last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sounded an important alarm about all this, slamming billionaires and conservative advocacy groups blanketing the airwaves with television ads supporting corporate candidates in this week's pivotal Democratic congressional primaries. But the Vermont senator understated the situation. The perpetrators rigging these elections aren't just meddling oligarchs operating on their own. This call is coming from inside the Democratic house from party leaders, who are at minimum passively condoning the trend, and in many cases actively fueling it with endorsements and its machine."

But then a funny thing happened...

"Dem Voters Flip Off Party Leaders And Their Big Donors: Pennsylvania and Oregon election results show voters rejecting the demands of oligarchs and Democratic elites. If politics lately has seemed a bit like The Empire Strikes Back, then Tuesday night's stunning elections have offered an unexpected jolt of that Return of The Jedi feeling — at exactly the moment when progressives most needed a boost. Heading into pivotal congressional primaries in Pennsylvania and Oregon, Democratic elites and their corporate donors were likely feeling confident that their huge super PAC spending would successfully buy yet more primary victories for corporate-aligned candidates. Indeed, House Democratic leaders planned to spend Wednesday honoring the anniversary of the New Democrat Coalition, which is the official arm of the party's corporate faction. But those football-spiking celebrations now seem premature."

Ryan Grim had much the same story. "Democratic Voters Deliver Stinging Rebuke To Party's Manchin-Sinema Wing: Voters shrugged off an obscene amount of spending from super PACs to send a message to Democrats: Do something." Backed by Republicans and endorsed heavily by the Democratic leadership, those corporate Dems still managed to lose. Fancy that.

Alex Sammon told the same story in "Dem Voters Want Dem Pols Who Do Things: The Joe Manchin wing of the party lost big on Tuesday."

As I write, it's still a nail-biter down in Texas. "Henry Cuellar Is the Perfect Symbol of What's Wrong With the Democratic Party: The runoff with Jessica Cisneros remains too close to call. The actions of Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi, and Jim Clyburn, on the other hand... How far does an incumbent Democrat have to go to lose the endorsement of their party's leadership? That's the question everyone should be asking as Henry Cuellar clings to his razor-thin margin in the Democratic primary runoff election in South Texas. Some things probably fly below the radar, like being the House's third-largest recipient of fossil fuel funding or obstructing his own party's legislative agenda. Does the FBI raiding a candidate's home as part of a probe into shady congressional ties to an autocratic petrostate cross the threshold into insupportability? It does not. If you thought being the House's only anti-abortion Democrat with a firm stance against making Roe v. Wade the law of the land—as the Supreme Court looks poised to strike it down—would be a bridge too far, you would also be wrong. What about allies of said candidate apparently spreading fake news? Wrong again. Having an A rating from the NRA amid a slew of mass shootings, including the slaughter of at least 19 fourth graders at an elementary school not far from his district on the actual day of the election? Incredibly, even that's not enough. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn stuck with Henry Cuellar through it all. As she bopped around cable news shows talking up the party's commitment to abortion rights in the past few weeks, Pelosi's voice could be heard on robocalls that went out to Laredo-area voters yesterday calling Congressman Cuellar a 'fighter for hardworking families' who has 'brought back millions of dollars.' Clyburn recorded one, too." Of course, he's an anti-union guy and the money he "brought back" didn't go into working people's pockets.

* * * * *

Your independent free press: "UK government secretly funded Reuters in 1960s, 1970s: The British government secretly funded Reuters in the 1960s and 1970s at the direction of an anti-Soviet propaganda organization with links to MI-6, according to unclassified documents unveiled Monday. The government used the BBC to conceal funding in making payments to the international news group. 'We are now in a position to conclude an agreement providing discreet Government support for Reuters services in the Middle East and Latin America,' reads a 1969 redacted secret British government document entitled 'Funding of Reuters by HMG,' or Her Majesty's Government"

"Shouldn't Hillary Clinton Be Banned From Twitter Now? Trial testimony reveals Hillary Clinton personally approved serious election misinformation. Is there an anti-Trump exception to content moderation? Last week, in the trial of former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann, prosecutor Andrew DeFilippis asked ex-campaign manager Robby Mook about the decision to share with a reporter a bogus story about Donald Trump and Russia's Alfa Bank. Mook answered by giving up his onetime boss. 'I discussed it with Hillary,' he said, describing his pitch to the candidate: 'Hey, you know, we have this, and we want to share it with a reporter… She agreed to that.' [...] The world has mostly moved on, since Russiagate was thirty or forty 'current things' ago, but the public prosecution of the collusion theory was a daily preoccupation of national media for years. A substantial portion of the population believed the accusations, and expected the story would end with Donald Trump in jail or at least indicted, scrolling for a thousand straight days in desperate expectation of the promised justice. Trump was bounced from Twitter for incitement, but Twitter has a policy against misinformation as well. It includes a prohibition against 'misleading' media that is 'likely to result in widespread confusion on public issues.' I'm not a fan of throwing people off Twitter, but how can knowingly launching thousands of bogus news stories across a period of years, leading millions of people to believe lies and expect news that never arrived, not qualify as causing 'widespread confusion on public issues'?"

I'll let Atrios say this for me, about "Deaths: I always try to emphasize that without Roe (or equivalent), women can't possibly get any appropriate medical care. I mean *any*. I'm a pro-choice extremist generally (meaning, I'm pro-choice), but I really don't think most people understand this. It isn't just about "abortion" as popularly conceived of, it's about any OB/Gyn-related care, and absolutely any care (procedures, treatments) that might, possibly, maybe, impact a zygote. Which is basically all treatment. Certainly criminalizing abortion (medical professionals and patients) unambiguously criminalizes miscarriages which, of course, criminalizes pregnancy!" There's more, but this is right and I'm surprised more people don't understand it.

MaxSpeak, You Listen! "Today in Economic Royalism [...] The disingenuous angle here is CR's failure to state forthrightly her preferred policy: austerity. If we can't fix supply, the only alternative is to claw back families' spending power. Hence we have a back-handed endorsement of the Fed's action to raise interest rates and reduce employment, notwithstanding the fact that there is no case that labor compensation or cash aid to households is behind the inflation spike. Look at it this way. Employment has yet to return to its pre-pandemic level, when there was no inflation to speak of. Why should lesser employment now be the cause of the inflation spike? In the same vein, as Dean Baker has pointed out, consumption spending has not grown more rapidly than its usual pace." And yes, the price-gouging is real.

"DCCC Chair And Rep. Mondaire Jones Flee Blue Districts, A Bright-Red Warning For Democrats: A court-ordered redistricting process nearly pitted Squad member Jamaal Bowman against progressive Jones, but Jones instead is targeting a new open seat in New York City. [...] Underneath the district shuffling and refuge seeking is a dire warning for Democrats: Maloney is the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. His entire job is to make sure that Democrats hold their narrow House majority or else the Biden legislative agenda will be completely dead. When the new lines were released, Maloney's district became one that Joe Biden had carried by 8 percentage points. Jumping into Jones's district gave him just an extra 2-point advantage. The DCCC chair signaling nervousness about his own district is less than confidence inspiring." This is being too kind to Maloney, though, since he was really after creating heat between progressives and getting one to knock the other out for him. Its part of the warfare by the right-wing Democrats against the more liberal wing.

This is a good video by Briahna Joy Gray pointing out that Democrats need to do better to fight Tucker Carlson's lies, because all they're doing now is freaking out and they aren't making their case.

Australia doesn't look ideal, either. For example, "A failure as shameful as robodebt leaves questions only a royal commission can examine: In December 2016, Channel nine's A Current Affair ran a quintessentially A Current Affair story about a welfare crackdown. After the throw from Tracy Grimshaw, Alan Tudge, then human services minister, appeared on screen with a startling message: 'We'll find you, we'll track you down and you will have to repay those debts and you may end up in prison.' This was the government pushback to what was becoming known as the 'robodebt' scandal, a mammoth Centrelink debt recovery system established by the Coalition government a year earlier. 'Whereas we used to have a manual process of checking people's income records on Centrelink with those on the taxation office's database, now we have an automated system, so we can do that very quickly, very rapidly and be able to capture more people,' Tudge said. Three years later, after what can only be described as the gaslighting of anyone who complained or raised the alarm, the government admitted to the federal court that the whole thing was unlawful. Putting it very crudely, the calculations that the government used to assert hundreds of thousands of welfare debts were wrong. It later settled a class action for $1.8bn, which included the owed interest on the debts unlawfully issued to 443,000 people, some of whom were the most vulnerable in the country."

"NSW police afforded new power to search convicted drug dealers without warrant: Drug dealers have been put on notice in NSW, with police given a new power to disrupt the lives of criminals 'every second of the day'." So, even if it's been years since you were busted for drugs, the cops can harass you continuously until they drive you out of your mind. Without a warrant.

In America, there is one bright spot. "Occupy Wall Street activists pay off student debt for nearly 500 Black women at HBCU: Suzanne Walsh, president of Bennett College, at first ignored the email that would lead to the cancellation of nearly 500 overdue bills at her college. After all, she thought at the time, "people just don't reach out and say we can help your students pay off their debts." But the Debt Collective, a union of debtors rallying against consumer debt, wasn't joking. After the initial conversation, the group arranged for the purchase of $1.7 million in unpaid student balances. Then they canceled it. Its elimination means students no longer have to pay off the debt and those who couldn't access their transcripts because of overdue bills now have access to their academic records and the ability to continue their educations. Braxton Brewington, a spokesman for the organization, said they chose Bennett College in North Carolina because Black women on average have higher student loan balances than any other group of borrowers. The debt cleared does not include federal student loans, only money owed directly to the school." If you have some change to spare, these people are worth it. (They do medical debt, too.)

It probably doesn't need to be emphasized that anything he does is bollocks, but "Dinesh D'Souza's new film drives the Big Lie: Here's the truth about 'ballot harvesting': Did libs steal the 2020 election through "ballot harvesting"? Saying no isn't enough to undo all the lies. The Republican "Big Lie" about voter fraud takes root in the fact-free soil of opposite world, where the Oscars are held at Mar-a-Lago and honor Dinesh D'Souza's "documentaries." Here in reality, D'Souza is a convicted felon, his films amount to a lucrative grift operation and should be filed under fantasy, and GOP claims of voter fraud actually seek to distract from their own extensive pattern of rule-rigging, lawlessness and brazen vote suppression. (As for D'Souza, he received a presidential pardon from Donald Trump.) D'Souza's latest work of wishcasting, "2000 Mules," which is much-watched on conservative platforms and can be streamed for the decidedly Trump-inflated price of $29.99, alleges, without merit, that shadowy gangs of liberal nonprofits stole the 2020 presidential election through an elaborate absentee-ballot collection scheme." Apparently D'Sousa thinks that letting someone else drop your ballot envelope into the mailbox or drop-box is the same thing as voting a dozen times. He doesn't want you to know that (a) the vast majority of occasions in which anyone has been caught voting fraudulently, it's been Republicans, and (b) the system weeds out improper ballots easily and no number of them dropped into drop-boxes translates into an elevated number of votes.

"Has Any Writers' Organization Treated A Writer As Badly As SFWA Treated Mercedes Lackey? It reads like a revenge plot: an old writer comes to one of the most important conventions in her field to be honored for her lifetime of work, and is publicly humiliated without the opportunity to clarify what she meant when she confuses two similar terms."

You know, looking at other versions of this picture, I didn't even notice the Triffids and Daleks.

The Chiffons, "He's So Fine"

Saturday, May 14, 2022

We're in for nasty weather

As soon as I heard that Alito's draft overturning Roe v Wade along with virtually all personal rights had been leaked, I knew it came straight from Alito's office. There's no one else who benefits. No "liberal" clerk is going to trash her career just to get it out a month early when it can have no positive effect on the outcome but can only be more harmful. And it was leaked to Politico, which "centrists" think (or claim) is non-partisan but careful media watchers know is more to the right. And the instant it came out, the entire GOP mouthpiece chorus came out with the identical talking point: that it was the leak, and not the content, that was the outrage. This was one, single, right-wing op. So the GOPs are all calling for an investigation of who the leaker is and insisting that it had to be one of the liberal clerks for the "liberal" judges, but I'm sure they will forever fail to find the source. (Some of them are insisting it had to be neo-justice Brown, to whom the draft was not even circulated.) But maybe someone has. "Who Had Access To The Leaked SCOTUS Draft Overturning Roe? Former SCOTUS clerks explain how draft opinions are transmitted." Politico received a hard-copy of the draft. If you look at the .pdf, you see a stamp on the corner. That stamp doesn't have a tick on any of the (seven) names the physical copy of the draft is meant to go out to, meaning it was never circulated. It came direct from Alito's office.

Alex Pareen, "The Institutionalist's Dilemma: On trusting the process after it's openly failed. Sometimes when I am explaining the somewhat eclectic variety of topics I write about in my newsletter, compared to the work I did at other publications for many years, l joke that 'I just ran out of ways to say the Senate shouldn't exist.' I say 'joke,' but it's also a fact. I was blogging this in 2010. Nothing has fundamentally changed about how the Senate 'works' since George Packer wrote the damning portrait of a dysfunctional institution that I reference in that old Salon piece. More than a decade later, Senate institutionalists still make up the majority of the Democratic caucus, and they still believe the way to make the institution work is not to change its rules but to somehow change the nature of the opposition. [...] The legitimacy crisis is that our institutions are illegitimate. For my entire adult life, beginning with Bush v. Gore, our governing institutions have been avowedly antidemocratic and the left-of-center party has had no answer for that plain fact; no strategy, no plan, except to beg the electorate to give them governing majorities, which they then fail to use to reform the antidemocratic governing institutions. They often have perfectly plausible excuses for why they couldn't do better. But that commitment to our existing institutions means they can't credibly claim to have an answer to this moment. 'Give us (another) majority and hope Clarence Thomas dies' is a best-case scenario, but not exactly a sales pitch."

Scott looks at one aspect of Alito's reasons here. "Justice Alito's Bad-Faith Appeals to Majority Rule: The Supreme Court has eviscerated the ability for a majority of citizens to elect the representatives they want and have their will enacted."

And The Mary Sue looks at another. "Let's Unpack the Chilling Phrase 'Domestic Supply of Infants' in the Supreme Court's Draft to Overturn Roe v. Wade [...] But I cannot stop thinking about a particularly insidious phrase within the draft opinion penned by Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett. The draft refers to adoption as a reason for abortion to be overturned, a common argument from pro-forced birth groups. The draft references nearly 1 million women who were seeking to adopt in 2002, 'whereas the domestic supply of infants relinquished at birth or within the first month of life and available to be adopted has become virtually nonexistent.'"

Dahlia Lithwick tears into that, too. "The Horrifying Implications of Alito's Most Alarming Footnote: A 'domestic supply of infants' is exactly what the framers of the 14th Amendment intended to abolish. [...] True. But the footnote reflects something profoundly wrong with the new 'ethos of care' arguments advanced by Republicans who want to emphasize compassion instead of cruelty after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health fallout. Footnote 46, quantifying the supply/demand mismatch of babies, follows directly on another footnote in the opinion approvingly citing the 'logic' raised at oral argument in December by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who mused that there is no meaningful hardship in conscripting women to remain pregnant and deliver babies in 2022 because 'safe haven' laws allow them to drop those unwanted babies off at the fire station for other parents to adopt. Second only to the creeping chatter of state birth control bans, the speedy pivot to celebrating forced birth and adoption is chilling. It's chilling not just because it discounts the extortionate emotional and financial costs of childbirth and the increased medical risks of forced childbirth. It's chilling because it lifts us out of a discussion about privacy and bodily autonomy and into a regime in which babies are a commodity and pregnant people are vessels in which to incubate them. If this sounds like a familiar, albeit noxious, economic concept, it's because it is."

Since his posts are usually shorter than anyone else's but also more concise and smart, let me recommend you hit this page with the first couple of days of Atrios' responses to the discourse on Alito's leak. This is the real political landscape you're in.

Those awful reproductive rights activists decided to take the Supremes' word that it was just fine to demonstrate outside of the homes of people (abortion workers) you don't like, and started holding candlelight vigils on the public street outside of the homes of Kavanaugh and Alito (whose neighbors didn't seem to mind). Someone up in Maine even wrote on the public sidewalk outside Susan Collins' place with chalk. Congress went into a pearl-clutching tizzy and passed a law, with the help of 100% of Democrats (note: that doesn't include Sanders), to protect Supreme Court Justices from free speech on public property. Which seems odd, given that many of those same Dems have had conservative whackos protesting outside of their homes regularly and never complained about it.

But let me also point out that this is not just about abortion. It's not even just about reproductive health, or even sex-related issues. Alito is using language that essentially says they can overturn all of your rights as well as the government's responsibility to act on behalf of the people. This is a broadscale attack on everything from birth control to the EPA and pretty much anything else conservatives have ever objected to. They're lining it all up to be shot down.

It's been a long time since I've cited Jessica Valenti for anything, but even she is done. "Most of all, I'm done with the Democrats who tiptoe around abortion as if it was some sort of political landmine. Seventy percent of Americans don't want to see Roe over turned—why are the people we elected to stop this horror show from happening still putting out polite press releases? Get a spine, and do your jobs. Part of the reason we're in this colossal mess is that Democrats ceded our most valuable asset: the moral high ground. Instead of hammering home that we are right and anti-abortion legislators are horrifically, dangerously wrong, they let conservatives call themselves the party of life. They spoke in whispers and favored 'choice' over 'abortion'. Instead of listening to years of advice of reproductive justice activists to support abortion unapologetically, they held onto the mantra that abortion should be 'safe, legal and rare,' lending credence to Republicans' claim that there's something wrong with ending a pregnancy. There isn't. Abortion is a human right and a moral good. And I'm done feeling humiliated."

There are a lot of things to be done with Democrats about, and here's another: "Biden's 'Mary Poppins of Disinformation' the perfect nanny to tidy up mess of free speech? Given her record of spreading disinformation and advocating censorship, Jankowicz hardly needed the musical-inspired persona. Yet, for the Biden administration, Jankowicz — like Mary Poppins — is 'practically perfect in every way' to keep track of whether we all 'measure up' in our public statements. It is still unclear from the administration's public statements what authority the board will wield, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the board as intended 'to prevent disinformation and misinformation from traveling around the country in a range of communities.' President Biden already has established himself as arguably the most anti-free speech president since John Adams. During his transition period, Biden appointed outspoken advocates for censorship; as president, he has pushed social media companies to expand censorship, while his administration has been criticized for spying on journalists."

And of course, back to abortion, it's kind of hard to believe they're serious. "'Pelosi Has Endorsed Me. Steny Has Endorsed Me. Clyburn Has Endorsed Me.': Amidst a national outcry over abortion rights, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn visits San Antonio to campaign for pro-life [sic] Henry Cuellar."

"The Ohio Model for Purging Progressives: A Democratic establishment victory in a House race last year has emboldened big money to upend this primary cycle. A year ago, the elevation of Marcia Fudge to secretary of housing and urban development created a vacancy in Ohio's deep-blue 11th Congressional District in Cleveland. Progressives saw it as another prime opportunity, similar to ones they took advantage of in a series of 2020 primaries. The idea was to take shots in favorable seats, challenging moderates and moving the center of gravity within the party. A revitalized progressive campaign infrastructure, candidates that fit the districts in which they ran, and a nationally energized donor network made this possible, and for a minute, the long-term outlook was pretty positive. But the race in the 11th District saw the first successful counterattack to this strategy, from a group of outside donors who represented the old-guard establishment. Though Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) was active in campaigns prior to 2021, including supporting Joe Biden and the ultimately losing campaign of former House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Eliot Engel, OH-11 is where they made their stand, getting behind Shontel Brown in a race against former Bernie Sanders surrogate Nina Turner. Like in the New York campaign pitting Engel against Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Democratic Majority for Israel's ads in Ohio had little or nothing to do with Israel. The ads pulled messaging directly from an unmistakable banner on Brown's campaign website, focusing on Turner's divisiveness and some choice negative comments she made about Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign. DMFI spent around $2 million on TV and other advertisements in the race, and that was enough to help Brown secure a comeback victory. The PAC almost single-handedly took over the reins of a lifeless campaign and turned it into a winner." The crypto billionaires are in on it, too.

The Intercept is on this same story from the other side with "Progressives, 'Massively Outgunned,' Ditched Nina Turner. Somehow all that right-wing energy seemed to push the progressives back, too.

Well, no wonder "Biden Shouldn't Run in 2024, Most Voters Say: A majority of voters think President Joe Biden shouldn't seek reelection in 2024, and he would lose a rematch with former President Donald Trump by double-digit margins. A new national telephone and online survey by Rasmussen Reports and the Heartland Institute finds that 61% of Likely U.S. Voters believe Biden should not run for a second term as president in 2024. Only 28% say Biden should seek reelection, while another 11% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.) If the next presidential election were held today, and Biden were running against Trump, 50% would vote for Trump while 36% would vote for Biden."

"Why did federal police square off with abortion rights protesters in L.A. streets?: An abortion rights protest had been going on peacefully for hours in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday when a 'help call' suddenly went out over police radios about 9 p.m. The SOS didn't come from Los Angeles police officers, but a small group of federal officers with the Department of Homeland Security. They claimed, according to a statement by the LAPD, that they had come 'under attack' from protesters while in their patrol cars near the intersection of 5th and Hill streets — about a half-mile away from the federal courthouse where the protest had begun and where federal officers have jurisdiction. Video showed protesters banging on the officers' cars and taunting them in a circle, and the officers shoving protesters and screaming at them to 'back up.' Some witnesses have accused the officers on social media of instigating the confrontation by straying beyond the courthouse, driving into the crowd and using aggressive crowd control measures. Regardless, it ratcheted up tensions between law enforcement and protesters at what until then had been an orderly demonstration over a draft Supreme Court opinion that, if adopted, would undercut abortion rights nationwide. The scene also raised questions as to why federal police officers were squaring off with street protesters in L.A. — especially so many blocks from the courthouse."

More on everything at the Water Cooler.

"Once 'Unthinkable,' French Left Forms Coalition to Challenge Macron in Parliament: 'We want to elect MPs in a majority of constituencies to stop Emmanuel Macron from pursuing his unjust and brutal policies and beat the far-right.' Less than two weeks after France's neoliberal president, Emmanuel Macron, defeated the far-right's Marine Le Pen to win a second five-year term, the country's four major left parties have agreed in principle to form an electoral coalition that aims to deny Macron a parliamentary majority. France's center-left Socialist Party and Jean-Luc Mélenchon's far-left France Unbowed reached a draft agreement on Wednesday following extensive negotiations. The French Communist Party and Greens had already agreed to join the alliance earlier this week."

Thomas Piketty, "The return of the Popular Front: Let's say it straight away: the agreement reached by the French left-wing parties under the label of the 'New Popular Union' is excellent news for French and European democracy. Those who see in it the triumph of radicalism and extremism have clearly understood nothing of the evolution of capitalism and the social and environmental challenges we have been facing for several decades. In reality, if we look at things calmly, the transformation programme proposed in 2022 is rather less ambitious than those of 1936 or 1981. Rather than give in to the prevailing conservatism, it is better to take it for what it is: a good starting point on which to build further."

"The Means-Test Con: Limiting student debt relief is cynicism masquerading as populism — and it will just enrage everyone. During the 2020 Democratic primary, Pete Buttigieg's personal ambition led him to poison the conversation about education in America. Desperate for a contrast point with his rivals, the son of a private university professor aired ads blasting the idea of tuition-free college because he said it would make higher education 'free even for the kids of millionaires.' The attack line, borrowed from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was cynicism masquerading as populism. It was an attempt to limit the financial and political benefits of a proposal to make college free. Worse, it was disguised as a brave stand against the oligarchs bankrolling Buttigieg's campaign, even though it actually wasn't — almost no rich scions would benefit from free college. This rancid form of bullshit was a staple of Buttigieg's campaign — like 'Medicare For All Who Want It' — but he and copycats like Amy Klobuchar were just pushing the larger lie that is now the foundation of economic policy debates. Call it the means-testing con — the idea that social programs should not be universal, and should instead only be available to those who fall below a certain income level. It is a concept eroding national unity and being carried forward by wealthy pundits and a Democratic Party that has discarded the lessons of its own universalist triumphs like Social Security, Medicare, and the GI Bill. This break from universalism popped up this week when the Biden administration tore a page from Buttigieg 2020's assault on the higher education discourse: The White House leaked that it is considering finally following through on Biden's promise to cancel some student debt, but not the $50,000 pushed by congressional Democrats, and only for those below an income threshold. That's right — as Biden's poll numbers plummet among young people, his administration is considering limiting and means-testing debt relief for federal loans that were already effectively means-tested through need-based eligibility requirements."

"Means-Testing Student Debt Relief: Big Hassle, No Results: Almost nobody will likely fall above the proposed income threshold. It's purely a tax on borrowers' time. President Biden says he will announce a decision on whether and how to cancel federal student debt, and how much to cancel, in the 'next couple of weeks.' During the 2020 presidential campaign, he promised 'at least' $10,000 in debt forgiveness per borrower, and reports indicate that's the range he's looking at now; he has ruled out canceling $50,000 or more. There are also indications that this forgiveness will be means-tested, with an ineligibility threshold between $125,000 and $150,000 for individuals and $250,000 to $300,000 for couples. New college graduates generally don't make that kind of money, and nor do the 40 percent of student debt holders who dropped out of college. But all of them will have to navigate the often punishing bureaucracy of confirming their earnings level. It means a massive headache for millions to cut out a minuscule proportion of borrowers. And if the history of means testing in America is any guide, bureaucratic snarls will prevent vulnerable populations from receiving relief to which they are entitled."

"Report: How privatization increases inequality: Inequality in the United States, which began its most recent rise in the late 1970s, continues to surge in the post–Great Recession era. During similar eras— such as the New Deal—many of the public goods and services we value today were created to deliver widespread prosperity. But the way in which cities, school districts, states, and the federal government deliver things like education, social services, and water profoundly affects the quality and availability of these vital goods and services. In the last few decades, efforts to privatize public goods and services have helped fuel an increasingly unequal society. How privatization increases inequality examines the ways in which the insertion of private interests into the provision of public goods and services hurts poor individuals and families, and people of color."

RIP: "Kathy Boudin, formerly imprisoned radical leftist and mother of San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin, dies at 78 after a years-long battle with cancer. Kathy Boudin was in the Weathermen and her son, Chesa, was 14 months old when she was imprisoned. His experiences growing up with his parents in prison influenced his attudes toward the criminal justice system, unsurprisingly. But Kathy never let being locked up prevent her from being an activist, starting groups for women in prison and out. She was something special.

RIP: "Dennis Waterman: a streetwise natural in three great British TV series: The co-star of The Sweeney, Minder and New Tricks was a born performer who brought working-class south London edge to the small screen. Dennis Waterman, who has died aged 74, was an actor whose rough-edged charm and gravelly tones were especially effective as criminals or crime-fighters who walked a tight line between danger and humour and could cross from one side to the other at unexpected moments. While some TV stars become indelibly associated with one famous role, Waterman achieved lead parts in three separate long-running prime-time features that rank among TV's best-loved series." Long-time readers of The Sideshow will recall that I was a big fan of Waterman, and particularly of Minder. I was delighted when he returned to the small screen for New Tricks. And I still love to hear him sing the Minder theme song, "I Could Be So Good For You".

RIP: "Neal Adams, Comic Book Legend, Dead at 80: RIP to the renowned artist who helped transform Batman into the superstar he is today. Neal Adams, the legendary artist who brought Batman, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Brave and the Bold, and many more to life in his storied career passed away yesterday due to complications from sepsis, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 80." And for those who can stand it, Marv Wolvman posted a nice tribute to him on FaceBook.

RIP: I missed this in February. "Bill Arthrell, Oberlin native indicted after Kent State shootings, dies in car crash: Bill Arthrell, who started his adult life with bullets and spent the rest of it relentlessly preaching peace, died last week in an Oklahoma car crash. He was 72." That day at Kent State focused his life, but the charges against students were all dropped because there was no evidence of a crime. (Well, except for the shootings of 13 students, four of whom died, for which no one was ever charged.) But he is notable for another protest: "Arthrell, who spoke often of the events at Kent and whose recollections are included in many recountings of the period, often attributed his indictment as revenge for his actions on campus a few days before the notorious shootings. On April 22, word spread on campus that students were going to kill a dog with napalm. A huge crowd showed up at the expected time, outraged and ready to stop it, including an animal welfare officer with a leash. There stood Arthrell in a suit coat and tie to explain there was no dog and there would be no grotesque display, but if it was illegal to use such a weapon on an animal, why should our government use it on people in Vietnam?"

This is a thread of pictures of amazing sea creatures. @RebeccaRHelm tweeted: "OMG it literally took someone SWIMMING FROM HAWAII TO CALIFORNIA to discover this, but wow did we find something shocking in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch..."

Just watched Picard. Liked the payoff. In related news, have 27 seconds of Hee Haw - The Next Generation.

"Trailer Released For Documentary On Progressive San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin As He Fights Recall Vote: EXCLUSIVE: In the less than a month, reform-minded San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin faces a recall election that could remove him from office. Whether or not the recall vote prevails, Boudin has already made history as the city's first progressive D.A. As the upcoming documentary Beyond Bars: A Son's Fight for Justice explores, Boudin has promoted 'decarceration,' pushed for an end to cash bail, created a unit within his office to investigate dubious convictions, and dared to prosecute a police officer on felony charges of beating a man with a metal baton."

Bill Nighy and others talk about Turning Terry Pratchett's Discworld into Audiobooks.

Talking Heads, live in LA, 1983, "Burning Down the House"

Saturday, April 30, 2022

'Cause I couldn't stand the pain

This photo of Beautiful Norway After The Sunset is from Tina Koskima (@LoveSongs4Peace).

It's been a little bit of a technical adventure. First I finally threw up my hands and gave in to the demands of the present when it became clear that NHS just assumed everyone had a smartphone, so I gave up my dumbphone of long-standing and made the switch. That required a lot of adapters and changed habits to begin with. But then my beloved ten-year-old Precision started being very cranky, so that had to go, too, and though the new machine is certainly very spiffy with many fine qualities, there's sure a lot to get used to, even leaving aside the fact that I'd never updated from Win7 and had to adapt to that upgrade, too. So, I can't find things, and things look strange, and I'm still not used to this keyboard, and I had a helluva time doing the last post because the font was so small and I couldn't figure out where to change it for a while. I'm still going back and finding typos. And then there are all those passwords I've forgotten.

Yes, price-gouging is an important factor in the current inflation. "Corporate profits have contributed disproportionately to inflation. How should policymakers respond? [...] Since the trough of the COVID-19 recession in the second quarter of 2020, overall prices in the NFC sector have risen at an annualized rate of 6.1%—a pronounced acceleration over the 1.8% price growth that characterized the pre-pandemic business cycle of 2007–2019. Strikingly, over half of this increase (53.9%) can be attributed to fatter profit margins, with labor costs contributing less than 8% of this increase. This is not normal. From 1979 to 2019, profits only contributed about 11% to price growth and labor costs over 60%, as shown in Figure A below. Nonlabor inputs—a decent indicator for supply-chain snarls —are also driving up prices more than usual in the current economic recovery. [...] The overheating view often emphasizes the atypically fast nominal wage growth of the past year as justification of their arguments. But this nominal wage growth—while fast compared to the very recent past—still lags far behind overall inflation and hence signals that labor costs are still dampening, not amplifying, inflationary pressures."

"Prosecutor drops all charges against Pamela Moses, jailed over voting error: Moses, convicted last year, was granted new trial in February after Guardian revealed files that had not been given to her defense A Memphis prosecutor has dropped all criminal charges against Pamela Moses, the Memphis woman who was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to register to vote. Moses was convicted last year and sentenced in January. She was granted a new trial in February after the Guardian published a document showing that had not been given to her defense ahead of the trial. [...] The central issue in her case was whether she had known she was ineligible to vote when a probation officer filled out and signed a form indicating she was done with probation for a 2015 felony conviction and eligible to cast a ballot. Even though the probation officer admitted he had made a mistake, and Moses said she had no idea she was ineligible to vote, prosecutors said she knew she was ineligible and had deceived him. Moses stood in the lobby of the probation office while the officer went to his office to research her case for about an hour, he said at trial."

"Steven Donziger vs. Big Oil:The environmental lawyer was finally released from house arrest this week. THIS WEEK, after nearly 1,000 days of arbitrary detention, the environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger was released from house arrest. On this week's podcast, Donziger talks to Intercept investigative reporter Sharon Lerner and Ryan Grim about his decadelong legal battle with Chevron over land contamination in Ecuador." (Transcript promised.)

Back during the UK elections, Jeremy Corbyn was trying to make people aware of Boris' plans to privatize the NHS, but it barely got a headline when the New Labour establishment was busy fabricating fake "evidence" that Jeremy Corbyn was an anti-semite. The successful effort to ensure that Corbyn was unelectable was so blatant as to be baffling, but perhaps it's all a reminder that the New Labour leadership is actually in favor of privatization of the NHS. The present state of privatization is already driving doctors out, but now we learn that, "Labour's shadow health secretary says he would not "shirk" from using private providers to reduce NHS waiting lists. Wes Streeting told the BBC's Nick Robinson it proved "effective" the last time his party was in power. But he put the blame for needing the option at the Tories' door, saying the government had "run down the NHS". The Labour MP also told the Political Thinking podcast his own experience of cancer made him "even more passionate" about bringing down waiting lists. Mr Streeting's remarks appear to show a change in direction for the party. Labour's last two leaders, Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband, focused their election campaigns on protecting the NHS in England from privatisation. But under the New Labour government of the late 1990s and 2000s, the role of the private sector increased in the health service." (What a phony. He didn't experience any delays in his cancer treatment, this is bollocks.)

When Governor DeSantis' purge of "woke" textbooks from the curriculum turned out to include math texts, people were surprised. But now we know: He had a particular publisher to send the grift to. "As DeSantis administration rejects textbooks, only one publisher allowed for K-5 math classes in Florida."

"Democrats Bail On Promise To Shed Light On Corporate Political Spending: A little-noticed provision in the mammoth omnibus spending bill means the country's corporate watchdog once again can't tackle dark money. Buried in the 2,741 pages of the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill that President Joe Biden signed last month is a provision that bars the government's Wall Street watchdog agency from forcing corporations to disclose their political donations. The stipulation, part of a deal with Republicans to keep the government up and running, means that Democrats are poised to once again break their long-standing promise to shed light on the massive secret corporate spending that now dominates U.S. politics — just as a Biden appointee appeared ready to finally tackle the issue."

"Dems retreat on crime and police reform: If 2020 was the year the left reordered the traditional politics of crime and policing, 2022 looks like the year centrists regained their footing and nullified those gains. President Joe Biden is proclaiming that it's time to 'fund the police” and pouring more money into law enforcement in his budget plan. Democratic mayors in deep-blue cities are promising to hire hundreds more cops. Even in liberal bastions like Los Angeles, candidates are sprinting to claim the tough-on-crime mantle. [...] The signs of the Democratic Party's evolution on crime are everywhere — and go beyond defeats suffered by the 'defund the police” movement in Minneapolis and elsewhere last year. As the midterm elections pick up, Democrats are calling for more police funding and attempting to co-opt traditionally Republican talking points on crime." Not only did no one ever defund the police, but many cities gave them more funding than ever. If it is true that crime is up, that doesn't argue well for giving the cops more money. But crime isn't really up all that much (and in some areas has gone down), despite the copaganda.

On the other hand, few seem to view with alarm the really worrying trend. "We're in the Midst of a White-Collar Crime Wave: Financial malfeasance has never been more rampant, or more under-punished. Everywhere you look in America, crime is out of control. Whether it's Elon Musk—the world's richest man—cutting regulatory corners in public, professional son-in-law Jared Kushner getting a $2 billion payoff from the Saudis, hackers draining hundreds of millions of dollars out of a crypto game, or the meatpacking industry boosting profits through price gouging, the economy's winners color outside the lines with increasing chutzpah. There's a lot of evidence that the country is in the middle of an alarming white-collar crime wave, but, unlike street crime, the phenomenon doesn't show up much in our political discourse. It's time to change that. [...] People are getting taken at work, too: In a survey of service workers, 34 percent reported an increase in wage theft by their employers during the pandemic. A commentator could pull up these figures all day, and so could a prosecutor."

Another nightmare scenario in the annals of Corporate Hospital Ownership: "Out Of The ER, Into The Street [...] Not long ago, ER doctors prized their unique ability to ignore both politics and profits, and treat patients in order of the severity of their condition, regardless of their insurance status. But companies like USACS changed all that. Over the past decade, the percentage of ER doctors working for small independent practices has shrunk by more than half to just 20 percent, and the corporate consolidations have led physician wages to stagnate even as billing surged. Then came COVID-19, which caused an abrupt plunge in ER traffic that left many doctors temporarily downsized at the very moment their skills were needed most. Across the country, many ER doctors are privately arriving at the same conclusion that inspired the USACS uprising: It's no longer enough to help people by treating one ER patient at a time, when the real emergency appears to be unbridled corporate greed."

Pro Publica, "America's Highest Earners And Their Taxes Revealed: Secret IRS files reveal the top US income-earners and how their tax rates vary more than their incomes. Tech titans, hedge fund managers and heirs dominate the list, while the likes of Taylor Swift and LeBron James didn't even make the top 400. [...] In a progressive tax system, the more income you make, the higher your tax rate is. But in the U.S., that's only partly true. On average, the rate of income tax that people pay does climb as incomes ascend into the top 1%, but when you get to the range of $2 million to $5 million, that trend stops. The group earning in this range, composed mostly of business owners and workers with extremely high salaries, paid an average income tax rate of 29% from 2013 to 2018. After that, average tax rates actually drop the further up in income you go."

"Obama Wants Censorship: Barack Obama and his ruling class bosses are losing legitimacy with more and more people. They have decided that censoring information will resolve their problems. On April 21, 2022 former president Barack Obama gave a speech at Stanford University on the subject of social media. In typical Obamaesque fashion, he didn't state his point plainly. He used a lot of time, more than an hour, to advocate for social media censorship. He only used that word once, in order to deny that it was in fact what he meant, but the weasel words and obfuscation couldn't hide what Obama was talking about. In 2016 when Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, the candidate she thought easiest to beat, Obama first presented his lament about “disinformation” and 'fake news.' His real concern was that Trump's victory proved that millions of people paid no attention to or even scorned, corporate media. No major newspaper endorsed Donald Trump, the television networks enjoyed the ratings increases he created, but ultimately believed that a second Clinton presidency was in the offing. None of them knew that some 60 million people would go to polling places and give their votes to Trump. Hence the disquiet in November 2016, when Obama realized that having buy-in from establishment corporate media meant little if their narratives were rejected by people across the country."

"The DEA's Elite Police Unit in Mexico Was Actually Dirty as Hell: The U.S.-vetted and trained unit was disbanded by Mexico, after years of corruption and controversy. After more than a year of quietly choking off resources behind the scenes, Mexico's president said last week that he has effectively shut down an elite police unit trained and funded by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate drug cartels, claiming it was corrupt. 'That group, which was supposedly a high-level strategic group, was infiltrated by criminals,' President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at a press conference last week, confirming reports that the DEA's 'Sensitive Investigative Unit,' or SIU, had been disbanded after more than 25 years of joint operations in Mexico. So far, the scrapping of the SIU has been portrayed as yet another blow to bilateral security cooperation on anti-narcotics investigations under López Obrador. But current and former U.S. law enforcement officials who spoke with VICE News say the SIU has indeed been a corruption-plagued disaster for years. One agent with extensive experience operating in Mexico called the SIU “corrupt and dangerous” and was not sorry to see its demise. “I am glad,” the agent said. 'They were dirty, no-good criminals. It's the best thing that ever happened to the U.S. government in Mexico.'"

RIP: "R.I.P. Cynthia Albritton, a.k.a. Cynthia Plaster Caster: The rock 'n' roll legend, known for her famous lifetime art project, was 74. Cynthia Albritton, better known as Cynthia Plaster Caster, has died following an illness, per Variety. She was 74. She was a bonafide rock legend, famous for her artistic practice of immortalizing rock stars' penises by making plaster-casted sculptures of them."

ROT IN PERDITION: Orrin Hatch, anti-union, anti-abortion crackpot, dead at 88. "Though in his death he is being remembered for his bipartisan efforts, he did oppose his fair share of Democratic agendas. He voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, used the filibuster to block fair housing bills and pushed bills to ban abortions." Another reminder that bi-partisanship is bad.

Michael Hobbs on the NYT pearl-clutching about "cancel culture" (by which they really mean saying critical things to bigshots like journalists at The New York Times): "Panic! On the Editorial Page [...] If I quoted this without screengrabbing it you'd think I was making it up. Conservative complaints about progressive speech — going back to Elvis shaking his hips and beyond — are one of the most consistent features of the 20th century. But today, the Times tells us, they wouldn't be happening if libs hadn't been so insistent about trigger warnings. And that's it, the cancel culture panic in a nutshell: Left-wing threats to free speech may not be backed up by any evidence and totally unconnected to any Democratic policy agenda. But! If we're not careful, someday, the Democratic Party could be as dangerous as Republicans are now. Can't wait to read 50 more articles about it."

Taibbi and Orf, "The "Gentlemen's Agreement": When TV News Won't Identify Defense Lobbyists: As war rages, viewers watch commercials for weapons dealers, often without knowing it. [...] In 2008, David Barstow of the New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting about this phenomenon of military 'journalists,' with 'Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon's Hidden Hand' being one of the winning submissions. Barstow wrote about how defense officials on air retained ties to the Pentagon and gave official talking points on air in a coordinated way, quoting a former Green Beret and Fox analyst who said of military officials, 'It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.'' Networks and even papers like the Times have since become so dependent upon military and intelligence vets, both as bylined content-producers and as sources, that efforts to track lobbying ties have been abandoned. Both the Washington Post and New York Times won Pulitzers in 2018 for Russia-themed stories that relied on unnamed 'current and former officials' from the military and intelligence worlds. In just over ten years, in other words, the Pulitzer committee went from rewarding papers for exposing defense ties to rewarding their concealment, while pushing intelligence-friendly news narratives — exactly what the Times was concerned about in 2008. Now, only outlets like Jacobin go near the lobbying topic." Matt has a follow-up, "A Brief Note on the "Gentlemen's Agreement", Which is Not Just for Defense Lobbyists: TV analysts from all sorts of industries are identified by long-ago official titles, not current lobbying gigs."

More evidence that government can do things. "From ‘biologically dead' to chart-toppingly clean: how the Thames made an extraordinary recovery over 60 years: It might surprise you to know that the River Thames is considered one of the world's cleanest rivers running through a city. What's even more surprising is that it reached that status just 60 years after being declared “biologically dead” by scientists at London's Natural History Museum. Yet despite this remarkable recovery, there's no room for complacency – the Thames still faces new and increasing threats from pollution, plastic and a rising population."

Robert Kuttner is doing a "Summers Watch: Larry Summers is not only a self-promoter who is often wrong on his economics. He is disdainful of who suffers if his recommendations are taken seriously. Larry Summers, spurned for a Biden administration post, is famously vindictive. Lately, he has been taking victory laps, reminding everyone of how right he was and how mistaken everyone else was. It's hard to imagine any other prominent policy adult with this level of narcissism. His arm must be sore from patting himself on the back. He epitomizes the old line 'often wrong, never in doubt.” Let's first give Larry partial credit on the big picture. Inflation did accelerate faster than most other economists forecast, and the Fed will raise interest rates more than Fed Chair Jay Powell predicted last fall. But Summers drastically overstates the degree to which the inflation is the result of excessive macroeconomic stimulus, as well as exaggerating his own prescience. For starters, when President Biden sponsored the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021, the economy was still in a deep COVID recession, and people were suffering. Most of the outlay was not intended as random macro-stimulus; it was targeted relief. Contrary to Summers, recent price hikes have been substantially the result of two factors that Summers largely omits from his analysis—supply chain shocks and monopolistic corporations with market power taking advantage of an inflationary climate to impose opportunistic price hikes. It's understandable that Summers doesn't focus on these—they are consequences of the policies of deregulation and hyper-globalism that Summers (and Bob Rubin) persuaded Bill Clinton to impose on the country. Summers—relentlessly—is a macroeconomist; and when the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. He doesn't deign to look at structural particulars, except at a level that is breathtaking in its shallowness. Search 'Summers” and 'monopoly pricing” and you get superficial tweets denying the problem, based on no data. Moreover, Summers tends to backdate his predictions to make himself look prescient. What he actually forecast was often not what in fact occurred. As John Cassidy recently observed in The New Yorker, Summers in March 2021 forecast three possible scenarios—a one-third chance of stagflation; a one-third chance that 'the Fed hits the brakes hard” and we get recession; and a one-third chance of growth that 'will moderate in a non-inflationary way.” (Note the spurious mathematical precision—one-third, based on what?) Cassidy quotes financial analyst and longtime Fed watcher Tim Duy that Summers 'also put out plenty of other scenarios—enough that he almost couldn't be wrong.” Exactly so. Except that the one scenario Summers didn't forecast was the one that actually occurred: continued robust growth and moderately high supply-driven inflation." And there's more. And sometimes I wonder if Summers actually knows he's spewing lies.

Department of Manufacturing Consent: "Government poll tried to skew public opinion against defunding the police: Documents reveal Public Safety Canada, in consultation with RCMP, manufactured lower support for Defund the Police movement. [...] The government poll was not immediately released publicly, but was reported on as 'confidential” by Ottawa-based Blacklock's Reporter, which claimed it 'found [the] largest number of Canadians want MORE police funding, not less.” Their reporting was picked up by major newspapers across the country last summer, with headlines like 'Most Canadians against defunding police” and 'Study: Public says ‘don't defund our police.'” But there was another wrinkle. Despite having introduced pro-police bias into the questions, the full poll results, which Public Safety Canada quietly posted online a month after the initial coverage, show public support for defunding the police was in fact high and was misrepresented in the media coverage."

"Sleazy "Democratic" PACs Working To Defeat Progressives: Hakeem Jeffries, a Wall Street Democrat and worthless careerist-- the Dem version of Kevin McCarthy-- who represents Bedford-Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill, East New York, Canarsie, Flatlands and Coney Island in Brooklyn plus Ozone Park and Howard Beach in Queens, started an anti-progressive PAC-- Team Blue PAC-- with rabid Blue Dog (and total Wall Street whore) Josh Gottheimer last year. As of March 31 they had collected just over a quarter million dollars this cycle-- primarily sewer money from lobbyists and corporate PACs-- to use against progressive candidates challenging incumbents. The progressive Democrats that Jeffries and Gottheimer are working hardest to keep out of office are Nina Turner (OH), Imani Oakley (NJ), Kina Collins (IL), Rana Abdelhamid (NY) and Amy Vilela (NV), all women of color. [...] There are even worse anti-progressive PACs that are part of the Democratic establishment, although none of the others have the presumptive next Democratic Party House leader (Jeffries). One of the ones doing the most damage right now is Mark Mellman's so-called "Democratic Majority for Israel," which claims to be a pro-Israel PAC but is just as much an anti-Medicare for All PAC and just generally anti-progressive PAC. Last cycle, for example, its biggest expenditures-- by far-- were $1,400,032 against Bernie and $899,148 to help Eliot Engel and $664,890 against Engel's opponent, Jamaal Bowman. Engel lost his seat to Bowman. This cycle they have been helping many anti-progressive candidates-- like Jon Kaiman on Long Island-- raise money but so far their biggest expenditures have gone to keep Nina Turner out of Congress. So far, they've spent $1,420,603 helping to prop up waste-of-a-seat Shontel Brown and another 1,240,738 smearing Turner, this cycle's most feared-- by the corrupt establishment-- candidate running for anything, anywhere."

This article contains an interesting little tidbit from Philip Linden himself. "The creator of Second Life has a lot to say about all these new 'metaverses': Linden Lab founder Philip Rosedale and executive chairman Brad Oberwager aren't too impressed with what they've seen so far. [...] 'Blockchain economies are extremely dangerous,' says Rosedale. 'They do some things that are good, but as a side effect in the way they're designed, they're an almost certainly fatal thing to humankind in the long term.' I assumed that Rosedale was referring to the computational wastefulness of blockchain accounting and the resultant environmental costs, a common criticism. That's part of it, he says, but he was actually talking about something much more abstract. The problem, he believes, is that total decentralization inevitably increases wealth inequality. He pointed me to a simulation he designed last year in which bouncing balls demonstrate the theory that 'the rich actually always get richer, no matter what.' It's something he devised after reading a Scientific American article on the topic. 'What I do in the simulation is I give 1,000 people each 1,000 poker chips, so everybody starts off with exactly the same number of poker chips, but then that means there's a million poker chips total,' says Rosedale. 'And that's it. That's all you get. Now, let these people randomly engage in free market transactions.' Those transactions are money transfers decided by coin flips. If I collide with Phillip in the simulation, there's a 50% chance he'll give me some money, and a 50% chance I'll give him some money. 'Most people would think that if you waited for a month, everybody would still have around 1,000 tokens, because we just flipped coins,' says Rosedale. 'Tyler's not smarter than Phillip; If 50% of the time you get my money and 50% of the time I get yours, what happens to individual wealth? What happens is surprising, and of course, horrifying. What happens is that there's one winner. There's one extremely rich person and everyone else has nothing.'"

Every now and then I like to remind people of how the Newspapers of Record and the CIA conspired to kill a story and a reporter. Here's the 2014 story from The Intercept upon the release of a film about the events that began in 1996, "How The CIA Watched Over The Destruction Of Gary Webb: Freshly-released CIA documents show how the largest U.S. newspapers helped the agency contain a groundbreaking exposé. Eighteen years after it was published, 'Dark Alliance,' the San Jose Mercury News's bombshell investigation into links between the cocaine trade, Nicaragua's Contra rebels, and African American neighborhoods in California, remains one of the most explosive and controversial exposés in American journalism."

I've always wanted to do this and it occurred to me that maybe someone had done it on YouTube—and indeed, lots of people have, but I think I liked this one the best: Steph signs with the Temptations' "My Girl".

The Beatles, live in Indianapolis 1964, "If I Fell"

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Play it right and bide my time

Steampunk Tendencies posted this to their Facebook page with no explanation so I have no idea what it is or where, but I'd sure like to see it.

"Under Pressure, the Biden Administration Rebrands Its Medicare Privatization Initiative: After quietly pushing an insurance-industry-backed Medicare privatization scheme, the Biden administration has come under fire from pro-Medicare activists. In response, the administration has rebranded the scheme — but left its privatizing substance intact. [...] Joe Biden seemed to be dangling a blade over the “direct contracting” program after a groundswell of opposition among both grassroots activists and progressives in Congress forced his hand. Officials began hinting that they would overhaul the program or even cancel it entirely, with those businesses set to profit from it working feverishly to prevent the latter outcome. For the past week, both the health care industry and advocates for public health care have been waiting anxiously to find out what the administration decided. Yesterday, they got their answer. In response to “feedback from stakeholders and participants,” the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the direct contracting program would be turned into something called ACO REACH (Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health). The question is, is this change enough to fix what worried public-health campaigners about direct contracting in the first place? The answer, they say, is no. 'We don't see anything other than a name change,' says Diane Archer, president of Just Care USA."

"Democrats Creating Their Own October Surprise: Imminent congressional inaction on Affordable Care Act subsidies will doom 14 million people, the party's midterm chances, and health care reform for a decade. Watching congressional Democrats these days feels like a painful, slow-motion car wreck. They are sleepwalking into a health care disaster that's entirely of their own making. With little debate or media focus, Democrats are on the verge of dooming millions of Americans to huge new health care bills, which will in turn serve to ruin any hope Democrats have of winning the midterms. And that will effectively destroy any chance of real health care reform for at least another decade."

Collected at Threadreader, a series of tweets from Matt Stoller: "1. Here's Apple CEO Tim Cook today arguing that antitrust laws against big tech are bad for privacy and bad for national security. In honor of his speech, I thought I'd do a little thread on just how bad these tech firms are for American security." And there are quite a few examples!

"These six corporations are financing an assault on reproductive rights in six states" — While publicly condemning the new anti-abortion laws, and boasting of their commitments to women's health, gender equality (or "equity"), and the empowerment of women, CVS, AT&T, Merck, Comcast, United Health, and Anheuser-Busch have all shoveled plenty of contributions to the legislators who pass the anti-choice legislation.

"Wall Street May Reap Billions From New York Dem's Reversal: City Comptroller Brad Lander pledged to disentangle retirement funds from risky private equity and fossil fuel investments — but now he's pushing to do the opposite. As the Biden Administration warns that workers' retirement funds may be getting fleeced by hedge funds and private equity firms, a top Democrat is reversing his own criticism of such investments and requesting authority to funnel billions of dollars of retiree savings to the private equity moguls. If that happens, it could mean a half-billion dollars of additional annual fees for a private equity industry that has produced some of the wealthiest people on the planet. [...] 'Private equity is inconsistent with the transparency obligations of public pensions,' said Siedle. 'There isn't a single public pension in this country that's knowledgeable about how to oversee or monitor private equity investments. They don't know what they're investing in, they don't know the fees they are paying, they don't know the risk they're taking on. When you see a push to increase private equity, what you're really seeing is a politicization of the investment process. The only reason to increase investments in private equity is to please donors."

"We Have New Evidence of Saudi Involvement in 9/11, and Barely Anyone Cares: The FBI has quietly revealed further evidence of Saudi government complicity in the September 11 attacks — and nothing's happened. here's a lot going on in the world right now, so it's not surprising some news slips through the cracks. Still, it's amazing that explosive new information about an allied government's complicity in one of the worst attacks on US soil in history has simply come and gone with barely any notice. Last week, the FBI quietly declassified a 510-page report it produced in 2017 about the 9/11 terrorist attack twenty years ago. The disclosure is in accordance with President Joe Biden's September 2021 executive order declassifying long-hidden government files about the attack, which many hoped would reveal what exactly US investigators knew about the Saudi Arabian government's possible involvement." So, a member of the Saudi government's spy organization was being paid by the Saudi royal family to hang out in the United States helping the 9/11 hijackers set themselves up and then the FBI and the Bush administration covered-up for him and now nobody cares about any of this. The same pressbots and pundits who went insane and screamed for blood in the wake of the attacks on 9/11 are just completely uninterested in who actually did it. And...why is that?

Video: Luke Savage and Emma Vigeland on "How 'The West Wing' Misled A Generation Of Liberals" — And why do Democrats talk like It's An Existential Threat and then behave like nothing unusual is going on and we don't have to do anything?

"Pentagon Drops Truth Bombs to Stave Off War With Russia: Leaked stories from the Pentagon have exposed how mainstream media reports Russia's conduct in the Ukraine war, in a bid to counter propaganda intended to get NATO into the conflict, writes Joe Lauria. The Pentagon has been engaged in a consequential battle with the U.S. State Department and the Congress to prevent a direct military confrontation with Russia, which could unleash the most unimaginable horror of war. President Joe Biden is caught in the middle of the fray. So far he is siding with the Defense Department, saying there cannot be any kind of NATO no-fly zone over Ukraine fighting Russian aircraft because “that's called World War III, okay? Let's get it straight here, guys. We will not fight the third world war in Ukraine. “President Biden's been clear that U.S. troops won't fight Russia in Ukraine, and if you establish a no-fly zone, certainly in order to enforce that no-fly zone, you'll have to engage Russian aircraft. And again, that would put us at war with Russia,” said U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier this month. (The administration plan is to bring down the Russian government through a ground insurgency and economic war, not a direct military one.)" But everyone, including Pelosi and Schumer and the entire mass media have been vocally itching for war. The two Democratic leaders tamped it down after even Blinken backed off that line, but TV loves wars, and the din is loud. "But on Tuesday, the Pentagon took the bold step of leaking two stories to reporters that contradict those tales. 'Russia's conduct in the brutal war tells a different story than the widely accepted view that Vladimir Putin is intent on demolishing Ukraine and inflicting maximum civilian damage—and it reveals the Russian leader's strategic balancing act,' reported Newsweek in an article entitled, 'Putin's Bombers Could Devastate Ukraine But He's Holding Back. Here's Why.' The piece quotes an unnamed analyst at the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) saying, 'The heart of Kyiv has barely been touched. And almost all of the long-range strikes have been aimed at military targets.' A retired U.S. Air Force officer now working as an analyst for a Pentagon contractor, added: 'We need to understand Russia's actual conduct. If we merely convince ourselves that Russia is bombing indiscriminately, or [that] it is failing to inflict more harm because its personnel are not up to the task or because it is technically inept, then we are not seeing the real conflict.'"

Pierce, "No Wonder Trump's Legal Beagles Fought So Hard to Keep These Emails Secret: John Eastman and the Camp Runamuck team were devising a plan of action in print. [...] First thing we do, let's indict all the lawyers. Eastman—and therefore, the legal representatives of Camp Runamuck—fought like wolverines chewing off their own legs to keep these communications away from the special committee appointed to investigate the events of January 6. Judge Carter's ruling did not merely declare Congress to be the winner in that particular struggle, it upped the stakes for the side that won. Carter did more than just decide the issue of the emails. He also explained why he was doing so, and he did that by treating the material as a road map for Congress—and the Department of Justice—to follow." Charlie is more optimistic than history can support, but someone really needs to spell out the difference between giving clients a good defense when they are accused of a crime and helping clients find quasi-legal ways to commit crime.

RIP: Eric Boehlert Dies: Media Critic For Media Matters & Salon, Founder Of Press Run Newsletter Killed In Bike Accident At 57: Eric Boehlert, a media critic devoted to calling out right-wing misinformation through his writing at Media Matters for America, Salon, Daily Kos and most recently as the founder of the Press Run website, died Monday in a bike accident. He was 57. His death was announced on Twitter today by journalist and friend Soledad O'Brien, who called Boehlert “a fierce and fearless defender of the truth.” Boehlert was struck by a train while biking in Montclair, New Jersey; Montclair police reported yesterday that a man riding a bicycle was struck and killed by a New Jersey Transit train in Montclair on Monday evening." His colleague, Atrios, wrote: "Very sad. I knew Eric some personally, working through Media Matters and otherwise, though we hadn't really had any personal contact in awhile. Nice guy, really got his journalism career boost exposing the various shenanigans at Clear Channel and then shifted into politics/political media coverage." I've spent many years watching Eric evolve and was pleased to see him breaking his assumptions in the last few years. Sorry he won't be putting those insights to use anymore.

RIP: Bobby Rydell, 'Wild One' Singer and 'Bye Bye Birdie' Star, Dead at 79: Bobby Rydell, one of the first music idols to spur teen fandom in the Fifties and Sixties, has died at age 79. His death was caused by complications from pneumonia, a rep for the artist confirmed in a statement. “He had the best pipes,” his good friend and radio legend Jerry Blavat told the Inquirer. “He could do Sinatra, he could do anything… He could do comedy. He played the drums. He was a great mimic… He could have been as big as Bobby Darin, but he didn't want to leave Philadelphia.”" Loved him as Hugo, but really loved to listen to him singing "Forget Him".

"Four-day week: What we do with our extra day off [...] Laura introduced a four-day week at the Stanton by Dale firm in January, making Friday a permanent day off for staff, who retained full pay. The firm had invested nearly £100,000 in new technology, which had helped drive production. Rather than making even more money, Laura decided to do something different."

"How the Minneapolis Foundation Bankrolls the Destruction of Public Schools: With hopes of creating an education “marketplace,” the business foundation floods the city with charter schools while vilifying teachers' unions. Over its 107-year existence, the Minneapolis Foundation has accumulated all the essential ingredients for a glossy resume. The foundation's website reverentially invokes its creation in 1915 by “a lawyer, two lumbermen and two bankers” who banded together to create “a wisely planned and enduring fabric” to benefit the community. It then lists an array of beloved Minnesota institutions and places the foundation has worked to found, preserve, or improve in some manner. From the first federal protection of the Boundary Waters in 1924 to the establishment of the Minnesota Orchestra in 1945 to the construction of the original Guthrie Theater (“A Theater for the People!”) in 1963, the foundation claims to have played a vital role. Today, the nonprofit grant-making machine, which boasts annual expenditures of $125 million, is helmed by former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. So when and why, exactly, did the Minneapolis Foundation start trying to kill the Minneapolis Public Schools?"

"Meet the Censored: Chris Hedges: Interview with the award-winning investigative reporter, now at Substack, who had six years of shows removed by YouTube This past weekend, celebrated journalist and author Chris Hedges woke up to find six years of episodes of his Russia Today show On Contact vanished from the show's account on YouTube. Though almost none of the shows referenced Russia or Vladimir Putin directly, and the few that did tended to be unflattering, his association with Russian state media was enough to erase hundreds of interviews about topics ranging from Julian Assange's imprisonment to censorship to police brutality to American war crimes in the Middle East."

Yes, they are still doing this stuff. "L.A. County Voting System Still Fails to Meet State Standards, County Clerk Smears Expert Critics: 'BradCast' 4/4/2022 [...] Back in 2020, Los Angeles County deployed a new, unverifiable touchscreen voting system called "Voting Solutions for All People" (or, VSAP) across the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction. Some ten years in development by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, the new touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed spectacularly in that year's Super Tuesday Presidential Primary, leading to long lines and questions about the results. The VSAP system had been conditionally certified by the Secretary of State just weeks before their first county-wide use, after state testing discovered about 30 different violations of California Voting System Standards." I seriously don't want to hear about "saving democracy" from Trump or the Russians when it's coming from people who ignore this kind of thing or, worse, shrug it off as conspiracy theory.

"Israel deliberately forgets its history: An Israeli historian suggests the diaspora was the consequence, not of the expulsion of the Hebrews from Palestine, but of proselytising across north Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East [...] But during the 1980s an earthquake shook these founding myths. The discoveries made by the “new archaeology” discredited a great exodus in the 13th century BC. Moses could not have led the Hebrews out of Egypt into the Promised Land, for the good reason that the latter was Egyptian territory at the time. And there is no trace of either a slave revolt against the pharaonic empire or of a sudden conquest of Canaan by outsiders. Nor is there any trace or memory of the magnificent kingdom of David and Solomon. Recent discoveries point to the existence, at the time, of two small kingdoms: Israel, the more powerful, and Judah, the future Judea. The general population of Judah did not go into 6th century BC exile: only its political and intellectual elite were forced to settle in Babylon. This decisive encounter with Persian religion gave birth to Jewish monotheism. Then there is the question of the exile of 70 AD. There has been no real research into this turning point in Jewish history, the cause of the diaspora. And for a simple reason: the Romans never exiled any nation from anywhere on the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean. Apart from enslaved prisoners, the population of Judea continued to live on their lands, even after the destruction of the second temple. Some converted to Christianity in the 4th century, while the majority embraced Islam during the 7th century Arab conquest. Most Zionist thinkers were aware of this: Yitzhak Ben Zvi, later president of Israel, and David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, accepted it as late as 1929, the year of the great Palestinian revolt. Both stated on several occasions that the peasants of Palestine were the descendants of the inhabitants of ancient Judea (2)."

The Real 'Big Lie' Has Nothing to Do With Donald Trump: American working people have slogged through three crushing recessions, a worsening inequality that resulted in lower standard of living, and a grotesque pandemic that has exposed glaring inadequacies of our economic model. [...] That particular fabrication asserts that the economy is recovering and as the pandemic recedes a return to normal prosperity will benefit all working people. [...] The real "Big Lie" to manipulate and con working people from the middle working class and working class is not convincing when the numbers of our economic model are examined. For starters, the economy had a net loss of around 10 million jobs in 2020. It gained 6.5 million jobs in 2021. That's a loss of 3.5 million jobs. Biden's “recovery” is merely a reflection of the economic malaise of the last few years with significant losses during the pandemic. It is part of the “recovery” of the business cycle which is a historical component of our economic model. These “recoveries” usually result in less income and fewer good jobs for working people because the structure of our economic model remains intact." And then there are the real unemployment numbers, which aren't the ones you will see in the mass media.

Review, David Graeber and David Wengrow's The Dawn of Everything: 'The examples the authors cite persuasively debunk the now commonly accepted idea that there was only one overriding pattern in the evolution of government and social organization, and that it proceeded through a series of logical and ultimately inevitable phases to lead us into the modern world. They contest the deterministic view that certain events, such as the discovery of the benefits of agriculture or the creation of more efficient technology, left the societies that profited from them no other choice than to march forward towards an ever more sophisticated, technology-oriented civilization, transforming their institutions, cultures and relationships to accommodate and adapt to the supposed laws of the “brave, new world” thus unveiled."

Michael Dobson has posted a little tribute to Steve Stiles, who we still miss a lot.

"THE ART NOUVEAU ILLUSTRATIONS OF ALPHONSE MUCHA HD 1080p"

As a Steve Allen appreciator, I loved MST3K's The Steve-O-Meter.

Video: 1940s - Views of Los Angeles & San Francisco in color

Some photos of a neat building in Arkansas designed by a protegé of Frank Lloyd Wright, ThornCrown Chapel.

The Foundations, "Baby, Now That I've Found You"