"Bernie Sanders says Democrats are failing: 'The party has turned its back on the working class': Senator Bernie Sanders has called on Democrats to make 'a major course correction' that focuses on fighting for America's working class and standing up to 'powerful corporate interests' because the Democrats' legislative agenda is stalled and their party faces tough prospects in this November's elections."
"The Supreme Court takes up a case, brought by Ted Cruz, that could legalize bribery: Ted Cruz wants the Court to kill an important anti-corruption law."
Here's Lea Litman live-tweeting Supreme Court arguments in the case that's really about whether the executive branch or Congress can delegate the CDC to mandate health measures — or for any other agency to do its job. Scott Lemieux reports on the opinion. :"Republican Majority of the Supreme Court arbitrarily re-writes statute to conform to anti-vaxx Republican orthodoxy." As Scott points out, in the tradition of Bush v. Gore, the majority opinion was so shameful that no one was willing to put their name on it, but the joint dissent by Breyer, Sontomayor, and Kagan spells out just how egregious the decision is.
I guess once Michelle hugged W, it was all going to go this way. Can't wait to see them hugging Trump. Juan Cole says, "Dick Cheney says he doesn't Recognize current GOP, but he Helped pave way for Insurrection." After all, Cheney was at least as corrupt as Trump, but so much better at it. This guy was actually a serving Vice President of the United States and still on the payroll of Haliburton while he shuffled a whole load of no-bid, no-responsibility contracts to them. But now Democrats are toasting Cheneys like they toasted W with no recognition of what enemies of democracy these people always have been.
"Dick Cheney Should Be in Jail, Not Praised as a Hero by Democrats [...] I find it difficult to put into words how shameful venerating Cheney like this is by anyone, much less the country's supposed left-wing party — and it's particularly jarring given that Cheney has dedicated his career to attacking democracy, the very thing the ceremony was supposedly in opposition to. It's necessary to remember a bit of history here. Cheney was the most powerful vice president in US history. He is most remembered for his role in promoting the Iraq War, an illegal war of aggression predicated on lies, as well as pushing the nation to the 'dark side' after 9/11, which included torture, detention without trial (including of US citizens), warrantless surveillance, and other egregious departures from liberal norms of democracy."
"New Legal Filing in Mumia's Case: With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal's attorneys have filed a PCRA petition focused entirely on the six boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA's office in late December 2018, after the case being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas concluded. (tinyurl.com/zkyva464 ) The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning, and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state's two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection — a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims. If so, we won't know for at least a month. "
"The Bronx Fire Was Not Only a Tragedy, but Also a Housing Injustice: The fire, New York's deadliest in decades, shows why pandemic-era housing policy Band-Aids aren't enough. WITHIN 12 HOURS of New York City's deadliest fire in decades, which killed 17 people in the Bronx on Sunday night, officials were willing and able to apportion blame. 'A space heater is blamed for the deadly fire in a Bronx apartment building,' noted a New York Times headline Monday; New York Mayor Eric Adams had announced as much in a statement. The explanation was not so much false as it was wildly insufficient. The blaze was indeed reportedly sparked by a malfunctioning space heater. This alone was not enough to kill 17 tenants, including eight children, and leave dozens more hospitalized in critical condition. According to reports, the fire itself was contained to one apartment. Dense black smoke, meanwhile, spread through the entire 19-story building, through an apartment door that, were it in line with New York City codes since 2018, should have been self-closing." It was cold, the landlords still hadn't done anything to fix the heat. They'd ignored a lot of housing violations, in fact. And they were on the new mayor's transition team so it's unlikely he's going to go hard on them. And that's not all. But New Yorkers are already starting to suspect they elected what one local called "black Giuliani".
"Why US Prisons Don't Want Prisoners To Read: As one of the many calculated cruelties that define the US prison-industrial complex, the long assault on prisoners' ability to read books while incarcerated is sinister, inhumane, and must be stopped." Video and Transcript (16:38).
"US War Lobby Fuels Conflict in Russia, Ukraine, and Syria: Ex-Pentagon Advisor: A former senior advisor at the Pentagon confirms what was obvious to those who pay attention. The Military Industrial Congressional Complex is more powerful than anyone who occupies the office of the presidency. Col. Doug Macgregor, an ex-Pentagon advisor, on how the US war lobby fuels conflict from Ukraine to Syria. Washington, DC, he says, is 'occupied territory. It's occupied by corporations, by lobbies.' Douglas Macgregor, a retired US Army Colonel and former Pentagon senior advisor, analyzes the US-Russia standoff in Ukraine; the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan; Trump's failure to act on 2016 campaign anti-interventionist rhetoric, only to surround himself with neocons; and the ongoing, overlooked US military occupation of Syria after the decade-long CIA dirty war. [...] We didn't pay any attention. We attacked him viciously. We essentially ignored any of his expression of concern or interest in Ukraine from the standpoint of Moscow's national security. And we have always refused to acknowledge the Russian concern that NATO is threatening to Russia. We've insisted, 'Absolutely not.' But we don't have far to look over the last 20 years at the various regime change operations that Washington has staged to appreciate Putin's concerns. But instead of addressing those concerns in a substantive way, taking into account what Russia's interests are, we've essentially said that they're illegitimate, and the only interests that are legitimate are our own and those of our quote-unquote NATO allies."
"There's a News Blackout on the Fed's Naming of the Banks that Got Its Emergency Repo Loans; Some Journalists Appear to Be Under Gag Orders: Four days ago, the Federal Reserve released the names of the banks that had received $4.5 trillion in cumulative loans in the last quarter of 2019 under its emergency repo loan operations for a liquidity crisis that has yet to be credibly explained. Among the largest borrowers were JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, three of the Wall Street banks that were at the center of the subprime and derivatives crisis in 2008 that brought down the U.S. economy. That's blockbuster news. But as of 7 a.m. this morning, not one major business media outlet has reported the details of the Fed's big reveal. [...] Those Fed revelations, that had been withheld from the American people for two years, should have made front page headlines in newspapers and on the digital front pages of every major business news outlet. Instead, there was a universal news blackout of the story at the largest business news outlets, including: Bloomberg News, the Wall Street Journal, the business section of the New York Times, the Financial Times, Dow Jones' MarketWatch, and Reuters."
A couple years ago, Luke Savage wrote this book review: "The Real Working Class Is Invisible to the Media: The media doesn't talk much about working-class America. But when it does, it mainly has one thing to say about it: that it's entirely white, male, and very right-wing. All those things are lies. [...] Central to this story is the decline of labor reporting, once a mainstay of major dailies. Today, by contrast, as Martin puts it: 'A conference gathering of labor/workforce beat reporters from the country's leading newspapers could fit into a single booth at an Applebee's.' Of the country's top twenty-five newspapers, he notes, a majority no longer covers the workplace/labor beat on a full-time basis, and the landscape for such reporting appears to be even bleaker on television (one 2013 survey cited by Martin, for example, reveals that only 0.3 percent of network TV news in the years 2008, 2009, and 2011 covered labor issues)." This led to his recent look back at the subject of labor coverage, "How the New York Times Covered Two Transit Strikes, 42 Years Apart: The vastly disparate NY Times coverage of two NYC transit strikes illustrates the dramatic transformation of mainstream coverage of working-class life in recent years. As media companies chase an upper-crust audience, workers have been erased."
RJ Eskow originally wrote in 2010 about the documents that established MERS was an illegal scam. It still amazes me that no one thought it worthwhile to put a stop to something that was designed to evade transfer fees and avoid proper registration of properties. And it's still going on. And these people still belong in prisons. "Pictures of MERS, Part 1: Corporate Documents Illustrate the Mortgage Shell Game."
Ryan Grim in 2009 on "Priceless: How The Federal Reserve Bought The Economics Profession: The Federal Reserve, through its extensive network of consultants, visiting scholars, alumni and staff economists, so thoroughly dominates the field of economics that real criticism of the central bank has become a career liability for members of the profession, an investigation by the Huffington Post has found. This dominance helps explain how, even after the Fed failed to foresee the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression, the central bank has largely escaped criticism from academic economists. In the Fed's thrall, the economists missed it, too."
It's worth remembering Obama's betrayal of letting homeowners drown while he saved the banks and let them keep right on running scams like MERS, because right now Democrats are pretending they can "save democracy" with some prosecutions of the January 6th rioters. But that already seems to be falling apart and it does nothing to alleviate the real causes of the right, which is a continuing betrayal of the democracy and the public. It was, as Sirota says, "a predictable riot," and it's not over yet. "Democrats have coupled this pro-democracy theater with high-profile betrayals of the working class — from dropping a $15 minimum wage to ending the expanded child tax credit, to refusing to eliminate student debt, to killing paid family and sick leave proposals in the middle of a pandemic. Most recently, Biden's spokesperson scoffed at the idea of delivering free COVID tests to people's homes, Biden's consultants aided Big Pharma's efforts to kill promised drug-pricing legislation, and Biden's White House is promising no more stimulus legislation, no matter how much worse the pandemic gets. [...] As a recent Gallup poll shows trust in government further cratering under Biden, Democrats' theory seems to be the opposite of Roosevelt's truism — they seem to believe that a working class facing unending precarity would never dare 'sacrifice liberty in the hope of getting something to eat,' and that simply screaming about the end of what's left of democracy is a winning formula. Democratic Rep. Abby Spanberger perfectly summarized these beliefs when she recently declared that "Nobody elected (Biden) to be FDR, they elected him to be normal and stop the chaos' — as if 'stopping the chaos' has absolutely nothing to do with delivering FDR-like help to millions of angry people struggling to survive."
RIP: "Sidney Poitier, Black acting pioneer, dies aged 94: Poitier, who was born in Miami and raised in the Bahamas, was the first Black winner of the best actor Oscar for Lilies of the Field and, along with Harry Belafonte, was a pioneering Black presence in mainstream Hollywood cinema." I think I saw that movie once on my black and white TV set one afternoon, but I first saw him at the local movie house in A Patch of Blue and was impressed at how he loomed so large. We all loved him in To Sir, With Love, of course, and then he was in one of my private favorites, Sneakers, so yeah, he was a really big deal. Some people say he made all the others possible.
RIP: "Dwayne Hickman, TV's Dobie Gillis, has died at 87 [...] Hickman's TV and movie career ebbed and flowed through the 1970s, and he went on to work as a talent director a the Howard Hughes-owned Las Vegas Landmark Hotel casino, then a program director at CBS, overseeing M.A.S.H., Dukes of Hazzard, Designing Women, and Maude, The Associated Press reports. He started studying painting in the late 1980s. But for many people he was always Gillis, the lovesick teenager who never quite got the girl." Well, sure, he was always Dobie Gillis, but I still liked him in Cat Ballou. Zelda herself had some nice things to say on Twitter.
RIP: "Michael Lang, an organizer and producer of Woodstock, dies at 77 [...] Lang's death was confirmed by a representative, Maureen O'Connor, who said he died of complications due to lymphoma in New York City. Lang helped organize not only the original 1969 festival but also the 1994 Woodstock, as well as the disastrous 1999 Woodstock. Although he is arguably best known for helping to organize the historic festival, his career included managing music icons like Billy Joel and Joe Cocker, as well as producing numerous rock concerts."
RIP: Director, actor, writer, and critic Peter Bogdanovich, at 82. From Orson Welles to The Last Picture Show to Cybill Shepherd to some essential books on film (and even a good rock and roll movie), He was everywhere and got a lot of mileage, even if he was a bit... unreliable.
"The Second Coming of Octavia E. Butler: Sixteen years after the visionary novelist's death, Hollywood is bringing a slew of her intense sci-fi novels to the screen. The ground Octavia E. Butler covered in her 15 novels and two story collections is traceable—but you need time. In the '70s, '80s, and '90s, when Butler published the bulk of her work, she, Samuel Delany, and Ursula K. Le Guin were the only significant science fiction authors attempting such ideologically ambitious stories within the genre, placing left-of-center national politics and local histories right at the core of their plots. But genre fiction was historically not considered the breeding ground for the great American novel, especially if you were Black, gay, and/or a woman (all three authors were at least one of the above). In recent years, we've seen the tremendous literary contributions of these politically insightful sci-fi writers fêted rather than ghettoized. For Butler—unlike Le Guin, who died in 2018, and Delany, who is 79—the peak of her recognition has arrived posthumously."
"More American Girl Dolls with glasses: American Girl, a famous brand that makes 18-inch dolls, has many issues. Their dolls' skin colors, hair and other looks aren't very diverse, their accessories are the same kind of items, they're overpriced, and more. But the issue we're addressing in this petition is the lack of dolls that come with eye glasses. American Girl has made 50 character dolls as of January 2022. If we're being realistic, 19 more of the 50 character dolls should have glasses." This comes with a petition.
I'm just putting this one here for my own reference: "Beware the Moderate Democrat: Why the centrist extremists are an incredibly dangerous political animal" — They claim to be moderate and brand themselves as "the center", but they represent only 3.8% of the population.
"The private monorail tunnel under North London: Under North London, there exists a private underground monorail service, some 20km long, running from Elstree to St John's Wood in the centre of town. You can't ride on the monorail, and it's not an escape route for Royals or rich oligarchs, it's actually owned by the electricity grid — and it's their inspection railway."
"The Secret History of Holywell Street: Home to Victorian London's Dirty Book Trade: Victorian sexuality is often considered synonymous with prudishness, conjuring images of covered-up piano legs and dark ankle-length skirts. Historian Matthew Green uncovers a quite different scene in the sordid story of Holywell St, 19th-century London's epicentre of erotica and smut." (Thanks, Moshe!)
Lulu, "To Sir, With Love"