Ugh, we are a plague house again. It's different this time, but still means having to isolate at a time when there was actually someone I wanted to meet up with.
Back in the early blogging days I actually had to touch-type newspaper articles or quotes from books while I read them from print, because they weren't just easy links all over the net. That was a pain in the ass but still easier than having to copy from photographs posted on the net, which means having to rotate from my text editor to the photo between every phrase. So, curse you, Ryan Grim, for only giving us a photo of this page from your book instead of the text: "When the highest income tax rate was first introduced in the early 20th Century, it applied to just a few families. It's often said that, yes, sure, marginal tax rates were in the 90s and even as high as the 70s up through the 1970s and into the 1980s, but that's largely irrelevant because almost nobody paid that high rate. But that misunderstands the purpose of those high rates as raising revenue. The real upside was that it discouraged earning stratospheric amounts of income." Now go read at the link because it's just too much to type this way, even though it's short.
"How Bill Gates and partners used their clout to control the global Covid response — with little oversight: Four health organizations, working closely together, spent almost $10 billion on responding to Covid across the world. But they lacked the scrutiny of governments, and fell short of their own goals, a POLITICO and WELT investigation found. [...] The four organizations had worked together in the past, and three of them shared a common history. The largest and most powerful was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the largest philanthropies in the world. Then there was Gavi, the global vaccine organization that Gates helped to found to inoculate people in low-income nations, and the Wellcome Trust, a British research foundation with a multibillion dollar endowment that had worked with the Gates Foundation in previous years. Finally, there was the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, the international vaccine research and development group that Gates and Wellcome both helped to create in 2017." This guy wrecked the public response to Covid. And the trouble with these rich philanthropists is that there is no way to vote them out.
Eskow, "The United States is Now an 'Un-Developing' Country: Is progress obsolete? Are we an empire waiting to fall?? The United Nations' latest annual ranking of nations by 'sustainable development goals' will come as a shock for many Americans. Not only aren't we 'Number One,' we're not even close. The top four countries are Scandinavian democracies. The United States ranks forty-first, just below Cuba (that's right, below our Communist neighbor). Countries that outrank us include Estonia, Croatia, the Slovak Republic, Romania, and Serbia."
"'Reverse Freedom Rides': An echo of Martha's Vineyard migrant flights 60 years ago: Tricked by segregationists with promises of work and housing, Black families were dropped in Cape Cod with nothing. Sound familiar? Eliza Davis was bewildered the day she arrived in a wealthy tourist town on Cape Cod. An agricultural worker, she had been promised work and housing if she took a free trip to another state. Days later, disembarking with her eight children, she had little idea where she was, that a president had a family compound down the road, or that she was a 'pawn,' as locals told the New York Times, in a political stunt. Davis, 36, was not among the migrants who arrived Wednesday in Martha's Vineyard — a resort island off Cape Cod where former president Barack Obama has a home — courtesy of a flight arranged by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). She was a Black woman from Alabama, bused to and abandoned in Hyannis, Mass., in 1962, not far from the holiday home of President John F. Kennedy." The Arkansas Democat-Gazette picked up the story and put a a gallery of photos from the time on their online edition.
The wingers are apparently really proud of having sent these asylum-seekers to a "sanctuary city" — except Martha's Vineyard isn't a sanctuary city, nor is Massachusetts a sanctuary state. (And, needless to say, the victims were not in the country illegally, and the full-time residents of the island looked after them until transportation could be arranged to someplace that had better facilities for them, many of which were not available on the small island.) They think they really put one over on the elites, who, of course, were not there in their summer resort town, what with summer being over and all.
And speaking of things the wingers believe, there's the "'Deeply Dangerous Nonsense': Treasury Dept. Debunks GOP Lies About 87,000 Armed IRS Agents: The intensity with which Republicans 'are coming at this is really a testament to how important these resources are going to be—because there are many wealthy tax evaders that stand to lose a lot,' said one official. [...] An official from the U.S. Treasury Department confirmed Friday that, contrary to the unrelenting barrage of lies repeated by GOP operatives for over a week, the Internal Revenue Service is not going to hire 87,000 new agents to harass working people at their homes. [...] Despite analysts' predictions that the 98.2% of U.S. households with annual incomes of $400,000 or less will receive the same tax bill or a slight cut as a result of the IRA, far-right lawmakers have sown disinformation about how the law's provision of roughly $80 billion in new IRS funding over 10 years—money intended to help the agency crack down on rich tax cheats—poses a threat to every American. [...] Where does this oft-repeated number of IRS agents come from? 'The 87,000 figure does exist, buried within a May 2021 Treasury Department report when the Biden administration was pushing a bigger spending bill with the same $80 billion IRS funding,' Reuters noted Friday. 'The report estimated the money could fund 86,852 full-time hires through 2031.' But the actual net increase in staff would be much lower, as the IRS expects more than 50,000 aging Baby Boomer employees to retire over the next half-decade."
"The story of the praying Bremerton coach keeps getting more surreal: When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Bremerton assistant football coach Joseph Kennedy had the right to pray on the field, it wasn't widely understood then that the court had also ordered the school district to give him his job back. [...] So the school district has been flummoxed about what's happened since. They complied by offering to reinstate him, they say, and now the football season is in full swing. But Kennedy is nowhere near the sidelines. 'He's had the paperwork for his reinstatement since August 8th, and we haven't gotten so much as a phone call,' says Karen Bevers, spokesperson for Bremerton schools. [...] It's an increasingly surreal situation for the Bremerton schools. They were ordered to 'reinstate Coach Kennedy to a football coaching position,' according to court documents. But the now-famous coach is out on the conservative celebrity circuit, continuing to tell a story about 'the prayer that got me fired' — even though Bremerton never actually fired him. [...] This did not stop Kennedy's lawyers from telling the Supreme Court repeatedly that he was fired. 'The record is clear that Coach Kennedy was fired for that midfield prayer,' lawyer Paul Clement told the nine justices in the first 15 seconds of the oral arguments of the case in April. The words 'fired,' 'fire' or 'firing' were used 16 times in the hour and a half session. It wasn't true though. The district's lawyers tried to correct the record, to no avail. 'You can't sue them for failing to rehire you if you didn't apply,' one lawyer, Mercer Island's Michael Tierney, argued during a lower court session. 'The District didn't get an application from him, had four positions to fill and filled them with people who had applied. It didn't fail to rehire him.' The Supreme Court simply ignored this inconvenient fact — along with a host of others. At one point during oral arguments, as a different school district attorney was saying the narrative that had been spun didn't fit with the facts — that the coach's prayers were neither silent nor solitary, nor was he fired — Justice Samuel Alito interrupted him, saying 'I know that you want to make this very complicated.' Alito persisted in asking about the coach being fired — six times he said it, to the point that the lawyer finally corrected him. Which is a touchy thing to do with a Supreme Court justice.
"Poll: One year after SB 8, Texans express strong support for abortion rights: One year after Texas implemented what was then the most restrictive abortion law in the country, a majority of Texas voters are expressing strong support for abortion rights. In a new survey, six in 10 voters said they support abortion being "available in all or most cases," and many say abortion will be a motivating issue at the ballot box in November. Meanwhile, 11% say they favor a total ban on abortion."
"The Antitrust Shooting War Has Started: In a series of stinging losses, the DOJ and FTC are running up against Trump judges and pro-monopoly government bureaucrats. What happens now? [...] Since the beginning of the Biden administration, we've had something of a Phony War around antitrust. Lots of chatter, bureaucratic shuffling, procedural motions, document demands, Congressional testimony and campaign ads. Calls to break up Google and Facebook and Amazon, do something about consolidation in health care and groceries, private equity and so forth. But limited shooting. Over the past month, the antitrust Phony War has ended. What looked like little action was bureaucratic ramp-up. Lina Khan was hired to run the Federal Trade Commission and finally given a working majority five months ago, Jonathan Kanter was put in place at the Antitrust Division, and the Biden administration laid out a whole-of-government competition policy framework. Now it's time for the shooting war, with the ebb and flow between the anti-monopoly movement and the bureaucratic and institutional obstacles in government and the judiciary."
"The Most Stinging Resignation Letter Ever Written: When Iraq's finance minister stepped down last month, he didn't go quietly. On August 16, as the leading members of Iraq's government gathered for their weekly cabinet meeting in a high-ceilinged hall of the Republican Palace in Baghdad, one of them made an unusual request. Ali Allawi, the finance minister since 2020, was stepping down, and he wanted to read the full text of his resignation letter aloud. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi gave his assent. [...] The letter detailed a series of outrageous scams that had been approved or promoted by some of the men around him, who, he said, had helped create a 'vast octopus of corruption and deceit' that was poisoning the entire country. The letter built gradually toward a conclusion that was almost apocalyptic in scale. Iraq, Allawi said, was on the point of collapse, facing 'a crisis of state, society, and even the individual.' The problem was not just dishonest leaders, but the entire system put in place by the Americans two decades earlier. 'I believe,' he said, 'we are facing one of the most serious challenges that any country has faced in the past century.'"
RIP: "Renowned jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis dies aged 87 [...] Lewis is revered in jazz circles for 1960s hits like The In Crowd, Hang on Sloopy and Wade in the Water. He earned three Grammy awards and seven gold records. The trio's first record in 1956 was Ramsey Lewis and the Gentlemen of Swing."
RIP: "Louise Fletcher, from Star Trek and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest: Fletcher won an Oscar for her iconic portrayal of Nurse Ratched in the 1975 film.Louise Fletcher has died. A veteran actor with more than 100 credits to her name, Fletcher was best known for her Oscar-wining performance as the calmly monstrous Nurse Ratched in 1975's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, giving a turn as one of cinema's great unlikely villains. In addition to that star-making performance, Fletcher appeared in a vast number of film and TV projects, including staking out a place for herself as one of the best antagonists in the entire Star Trek franchise as the manipulative and conniving Kai Winn in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Per Variety, Fletcher died at her home in France earlier today. She was 88." I hadn't known she was raised by two deaf parents and had to be taught to speak by an aunt.
Rot in Perdition: "Ken Starr, Who Turned a Blind Eye to Rape and Defended a Sex Trafficker, Dead at 76: KENNETH STARR, THE lawyer known for investigating Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, mishandling sexual assault cases as president of Baylor University, and helping Jeffrey Epstein secure a sweetheart deal, died Tuesday, Sept. 13. He was 76." And no matter how awful he got, The Washington Post loved him because he'd saved them from a libel charge.
A lot of people got excited when billionaire Yvon Chouinard gave away his company, Patagonia. This was a guy who never wanted to be a boss and never wanted to be a billionaire but he definitely didn't want to take the company public, sell it to some vulture capitalist concern, or otherwise let it slip from its long-time environmental concerns. "Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization. They were created to preserve the company's independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe." I think Yvon is a good guy as billionaires go, but trusts mean rich people can control things from beyond the grave so I don't automatically think they are a great thing.
"How Much Can the U.S. Congress Resist Political Money? A Quantitative Assessment: Abstract: The extent to which governments can resist pressures from organized interest groups, and especially from finance, is a perennial source of controversy. This paper tackles this classic question by analyzing votes in the U.S. House of Representatives on measures to weaken the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill in the years following its passage. To control as many factors as possible that could influence floor voting by individual legislators, the analysis focuses on representatives who originally cast votes in favor of the bill but then subsequently voted to dismantle key provisions of it. This design rules out from the start most factors normally advanced by skeptics to explain vote shifts, since these are the same representatives, belonging to the same political party, representing substantially the same districts. Our panel analysis, which also controls for spatial influences, highlights the importance of time-varying factors, especially political money, in moving representatives to shift their positions on amendments such as the “swaps push out” provision. Our results suggest that the links between campaign contributions from the financial sector and switches to a pro-bank vote were direct and substantial: For every $100,000 that Democratic representatives received from finance, the odds they would break with their party's majority support for the Dodd-Frank legislation increased by 13.9 percent. Democratic representatives who voted in favor of finance often received $200,000–$300,000 from that sector, which raised the odds of switching by 25–40 percent."
"The super-rich 'preppers' planning to save themselves from the apocalypse: Tech billionaires are buying up luxurious bunkers and hiring military security to survive a societal collapse they helped create, but like everything they do, it has unintended consequences [...] Eventually, they edged into their real topic of concern: New Zealand or Alaska? Which region would be less affected by the coming climate crisis? It only got worse from there. Which was the greater threat: global warming or biological warfare? How long should one plan to be able to survive with no outside help? Should a shelter have its own air supply? What was the likelihood of groundwater contamination? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system, and asked: “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?” The event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, solar storm, unstoppable virus, or malicious computer hack that takes everything down." Now, if only we can convince them that the collapse has happened and make them go hide in their bunkers and cut themselves off completely from the rest of civilization so we can take over.
Bernie Sanders requests report from CBO, and it says that the bottom 50% has only 2% of the nation's wealth.
Ramsey Lewis Trio, "The In Crowd"