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.

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