Adam Serwer in The Atlantic, "Is Democracy Constitutional? In Moore v. Harper the Supreme Court will decide if anyone besides itself should be able to adjudicate American election law. Every American child in public school learns that the U.S. political system is one of checks and balances, in which the judicial, executive, and legislative branches constrain one another to ensure that no one branch of government exercises too much power. One pending case before the Supreme Court asks: What if they didn't? In Moore v. Harper, North Carolina Republicans are arguing that no other state body, including the state supreme court, has the power to restrict the legislature's ability to set voting rules—specifically ones allowing legislators to gerrymander the state, in defiance of a ruling by the state supreme court finding that their plan violated the state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to vote. This belief is based on a crank legal premise called the 'independent-state-legislature theory.' You'd think that the theory's recent vintage would make it anathema to self-identified originalists, but among most of the justices this philosophy is implemented with scarcely more rigor than one might put into scanning Wikipedia to win an argument with a stranger online. More disturbing, the popularity of the theory among conservative legal elites is further indication of their commitment to an idea of 'democracy' in which the Republican Party is simply not allowed to lose, and of their desire to alter the system to ensure that it cannot."
"Warren, Padilla Demand Buttigieg Crack Down on Airline Industry's 'Rampant Unfair Practices': It is well within the secretary of transportation's power to rein in airlines, the senators said. Calling on the Biden administration to use its authority to protect U.S. travelers from "rampant unfair practices" by commercial airliners, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Alex Padilla wrote to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Tuesday to condemn the exorbitant costs, frequent flight cancellations and delays, and lack of transparency in the industry."
It's Time for Public Pharma [...] CRUCIALLY, THE GROUNDWORK HAS ALREADY BEEN LAID in the nation's biggest state. In 2020, in a bill that came as a surprise to many, California passed SB 852, the California Affordable Drug Manufacturing Act, which empowered the state legally to create a public label for buying and selling drugs at cost, called CalRx. A second provision, which passed the state Senate in May and awaits passage in the Assembly, would direct millions more from the annual budget toward the production of a generic manufacturing plant in the state. Meanwhile, Gov. Newsom has pushed state lawmakers to put $100 million into developing CalRx and getting the state's manufacturing operation off the ground. Not surprisingly, the program is beginning with insulin, as roughly four million state residents suffer from diabetes, a quarter of whom cannot afford the insulin they rely on. Not for nothing, the California program is also backed by the highly organized diabetes rights groups in the state."
David Dayen, "Cut Off Private Equity's Money Spigot: A variety of legislative and regulatory actions would make it hard for private equity to stay in business. That should be the goal. It is genuinely hard to find a more destructive economic force in America today than the private equity industry. It encompasses all of the negative trends that have undermined living standards for the broad mass of citizens since the Reagan era: the escalating share of national income going to finance, the rise of market concentration, the contempt for workers, the yawning gap between rich and poor. The biggest private equity firms buy up companies with borrowed money and load them with debt. While fund managers extract cash through fees and financial engineering, the companies struggle to pay off these new obligations on their balance sheet. The subsequent cost-cutting of jobs, wages, and pension plans can be seen as a direct transfer from labor to capital, with the financiers growing impossibly rich while everyone else suffers. The leveraged-buyout era has immiserated labor, dampened productive investment, and degraded the experience of workers, customers, and the larger economy. We should ameliorate this suffering by ending private equity as we know it."
"New Biden BA.5 'Plan' Openly Abandons Metrics for Preventing Infection, Butchers Mask and Ventilation Policy: [...] In this post, I'll skip over the vaccination and booster controversies, and focus on the Biden Administration's strategic goals, and also on masks and ventilation. I'm doing this for two reasons. First, I'm committed to policy of layered protection ('Swiss Cheese Model'), which I think would both subsume Biden's vax-first policy and be more effective in preventing airborne transmission, especially given that the operational definition of Biden's 'Preparedness Plan' has turned out to be 'Let 'Er Rip,' turning the United States into a global reservoir for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Second, I believe that the Biden Administration's guidance on both masking and ventilation is lethal, or to put matters more politely, won't save as many lives as it could. (The 'Fact Sheet' relies heavily on CDC content, so I'll have to stumble into that gruesome morass as well, for which I apologize in advance.)"
"The FBI Confirms Its Brett Kavanaugh Investigation Was A Total Sham: Oh, well, it's not like he received a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court or anything. [...] Given these allegations—in addition to Kavanaugh's temperament, which, to put it in terms he can understand, could be best described as 'a hothead who just did a 10 Jägerbombs'—it struck many as outrageous for him to be given a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court. That sense of outrage only deepened last year, when we learned that the FBI had received 4,500—4,500!—tips about Kavanaugh, which were referred to the White House, i.e. the organization trying to get the guy confirmed to the Court. And now, the FBI has confirmed that, yeah, it didn't really feel the need to look into any of those tips, and when it did follow up on some, the White House was making sure it didn't dig too far."
"Lobbying Blitz Pushed Fertilizer Prices Higher, Fueling Food Inflation: Emails show fertilizer producer Mosaic lobbied heavily for tariffs under Trump, then used them to dominate the market. [...] The yearslong lobbying campaign resulted in the Trump administration recommending tariffs in 2020 that went into effect last year on phosphate fertilizer from Russia and Morocco, the first- and fourth-largest fertilizer exporters in the world, respectively. As foreign imports plummeted, Mosaic gained control of 90 percent of the U.S. phosphate fertilizer market."
"Why Are Democrats Bragging About Plunging the Private Sector into Deficit?: Democrats want to keep shrinking the deficit to fight inflation but also keep the economy out of recession. Good luck with that. [...] Looking at the economy through the lens of a stock-flow consistent model frequently allowed Godley to anticipate problems that others were missing. For example, when democrats and republicans were celebrating the emerging fiscal surpluses in the late 1990s and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was predicting surpluses as far as they eye could see, Godley was pointing to the concomitant deterioration in the private sector's financial position and challenging the coherence of the CBO forecast."
"The Forde report: my experience of Southside in 2017: After 27 months the much-delayed inquiry has arrived — having worked at the heart of the struggle between the Corbyn team and the permanent party staff, I know the grim picture it paints to be true, writes BEN SELLERSBACK in April 2020, a leaked Labour Party report told the story of hostility, abuse, bullying, racism and sexism among the party's paid staff, as part of a broader investigation into the handling of anti-semitism claims. Martin Forde QC was tasked by Labour leader Keir Starmer with leading an inquiry into the claims." It couldn't be clearer that the party staff and Parliamentary Labour Party were actively working for a loss to Boris Johnson in the election.
RIP: "Nichelle Nichols, Uhura in Star Trek, Dies at 89." This is not unexpected, of course, as we all knew she'd been having trouble for some time. But she was an inspiration to many, and the most beautiful woman on prime-time, and when I met her she was even more stunning and took my breath away. She was gracious, of course, as we've always known her. But I didn't know this: "Born Grace Nichols in Robbins, Ill. on Dec. 28, 1932, Nichols began her show business career at age 16 singing with Duke Ellington in a ballet she created for one of his compositions. Later, she sang with his band." And of course, she said my favorite line, when the mirror universe Sulu addressed her as "fair maid": "Sorry, neither." (Slideshow here, with many recent pics but unfortunately not the best Uhura photos.)
RIP: "Motown Songwriting Legend Lamont Dozier Dies at 81: Lamont Dozier, a Motown songwriting legend who helped define popular music in the '60s, has died at age 81. He helped craft early hits for the Supremes, the Isley Brothers and Four Tops before later returning to the top of the charts with Phil Collins. Dozier's death was confirmed by his son, Lamont Dozier Jr. No cause of death was immediately released. How many times did I see those three names, "Holland, Dozier, Holland" in parentheses under the song title? It's stamped into my memory forever. And, of course, an excuse to post links to what you already know are some of my favorite tracks: "Heatwave," "Can I Get A Witness?", "Baby I Need Your Loving" - and too many more by those artists, The Supremes, The Isley Brothers, and others. So much love.
RIP: "Tony Dow, Wally Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver, dies aged 77: Tony Dow, who as Wally Cleaver on the sitcom Leave It to Beaver helped create the popular and lasting image of the American teenager of the 1950s and 60s, died Wednesday. He was 77. Frank Bilotta, who represented Dow in his work as a sculptor, confirmed his death in an email to the Associated Press. No cause was given, but Dow had been in hospice care and announced in May that he had been diagnosed with prostate and gall bladder cancer." I don't think Beaver ever understood any more than I did why Wally had a creepy friend like Eddie Haskell. Dow had been sculpting in his later years, and there are a couple of nice photos in this group of photos of him.
RIP: "Veteran British actor David Warner, star of The Omen and Tron, dies aged 80: The stage and screen veteran's multifaceted career included roles in Titanic, Time Bandits and Straw Dogs, as well as a renowned Hamlet for the RSC. The veteran British actor David Warner has died aged 80. The BBC reported that Warner died from 'a cancer-related illness' and that his family confirmed the news 'with an overwhelmingly heavy heart'. Warner's varied career spanned cinema, stage, television and radio. He was regarded as the finest Hamlet of his generation on stage, then gravitated into cinema as a character actor, travelling from British 1960s cinema to the sci-fi universes of Tron, Doctor Who and Star Trek to James Cameron's Titanic, in which he played the malicious enforcer Spicer Lovejoy." He was in so many of my favorite movies and TV shows. I guess the earliest thing I must have seen him in was Tom Jones when it came out, though I don't remember it now. On the other hand, I've seen the George C. Scott version of A Christmas Carol enough times that it's Warner I see when I think of Cratchit. He died just five days short of his 81st birthday.
RIP: "Bernard Cribbins: a warm, kindly titan of children's entertainment" and Donna Noble's granddad in Doctor Who, at 91, after a lifetime's-long career.
On the night of the first Tuesday in November of 2000, Tim Russert at first resisted his boss' demand that he prematurely call the election for Bush. He knew it was wrong, he tried not to, but Jack Welch was an evil man and he threatened Russert's job and the rest is history. I knew then that Welch was an evil, dangerous man, but I had no idea how evil until I heard Sam Seder's interview with David Gelles, who's written a book on "Jack Welch: The Man Who Broke Capitalism."
"Democrats' Betrayals Are Jeopardizing American Democracy: History is screaming at Democrats to both rescue the economy and save democracy from a meltdown. They're doing the opposite. American democracy is in the midst of a meltdown — the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and Republicans' intensifying crusade to limit voting rights and deny election results make that abundantly clear. Conflict-averse Democrats in Washington, D.C., are on the verge of letting this turn into a full-fledged nightmare. Torn between their corporate donors and the electorate, they are studiously avoiding the two key questions: What is really fueling this crisis? And how can it be stopped? The answer to the first question can be seen in headlines this week about billionaires growing their fortunes by $2 trillion during the pandemic, and now creating an overheated market for luxury yachts, all while one in five households just lost their entire life savings. Americans keep voting to change this crushing dystopia and yet they continue being force-fed more of the same — most recently with Democrats threatening to side with their financiers and abandon their whole economic agenda. Such betrayals from both parties have been telling more and more of the country that democracy is a farce. The way for Democrats to combat that disillusionment is to learn from their party's history during the Great Depression and the Great Recession. In the former debacle, the Democratic Party halted a potential meltdown of democratic institutions by delivering real help to millions of people. In the latter crisis, the Democratic Party's refusal to do the same resulted in the political meltdown that fueled the ascent of Donald Trump — and that continues to fuel the MAGA movement today."
Zach Carter "On Economics And Democracy: High unemployment is extremely dangerous. [...] FDR was not a cheap demagogue throwing red meat to the masses that he knew would be counterproductive. He was not an economist or a political theorist, but he was smart enough to recognize that the policy program that had spawned The Great Depression was probably not all it was cracked up to be. And he surrounded himself with a very famous Brain Trust – a coterie of intellectuals who had different, but in many ways related theories of why and how the Depression had happened. Early on, FDR impressed a particular British economist named John Maynard Keynes, who admired both FDR's spirit of experimentation and his insistence that defeating the Depression was about more than economic data. Keynes and Roosevelt believed that the Great Depression had put democracy itself on trial, and both were almost desperate to vindicate it. They did."
"Biden's Problems Go Back To 2009 [...] The public understood how bad the Bush years were and in the 2008 election the voters DEMANDED change. Barack Obama, campaigning on progressive promises to renegotiate NAFTA, codify Roe v Wade, support the pro-labor Employee Free Choice Act ('EFCA' or 'card check') won big. Barack Obama was elected with BIG Democratic House & Senate majorities. Democrats came into office in 2009 with All The Power. Voters gave them the House, Senate and Presidency and a mandate to change the country. After taking office Obama publicly reversed his position on renegotiating NAFTA and codifying Roe, along with so many other things. His administration introduced the 'Obamacare' health care plan that, while it did help millions of Americans, did so by propping up private insurance and pharma company profits. Bankruptcies continue, insurance companies profit, pharma still charges massively excessive rates, and America's health care system remains one of the worst in the world. And in response to the 2008 financial collapse caused by Wall Street fraud, his Justice Department refused to prosecute even a single Wall Street executive, bailing out Wall Street while refusing to help homeowners. (Later, after leaving 'public service,' top Justice Department and other administration officials, including Obama himself, received lucrative Wall Street positions, 'Speaking fees,' etc.)"
Gregory Benford, ecowarrier? "Addressing climate change: plants instead of plants? Rather than an industrial solution to excess atmospheric carbon dioxide, a retired UCI physicist looks to nature"
40 years after the fact, Kevin Smith unexpectedly releases his TAFF Report.