The Mill Lane footpath seen in South Downs National Park, Halnaker near Chichester.
Here's the Electoral-Vote.com map and details of the Senate races from Wednesday morning. We were back to the Dems needing Warnock to win a runoff. Against Herschel Walker, which, seriously, is just embarrassing. But then we won another one in Nevada, so the map looks like this. Still waiting for the Warnock runoff for a true majority, but it makes less difference now that the Republicans managed to take the House, so nothing good is likely to come to the floor in the next Congress for the Dem Senate to fail to pass. (Not that I believe the Dems couldn't have come up with a third and fourth right-wing vote if we'd had two new Senators and kept the House....)
Meanwhile, remember Sean Patrick Maloney, the head of the DCCC who screwed up the Democratic primaries by inserting himself into a district where another Democrat was already popular because he thought he wouldn't be as safe in some other seat? Well, he wasn't safe in that one, either. Alex Sammon has the details, "The Inside Story of Sean Patrick Maloney's Face Plant in New York." That nasty little jackass managed to lose two seats in New York with his clever little plan.
"The House Democratic Leadership Race: Do Democrats really want their next leader to be compromised and corporate? Final results are still coming in; but if current patterns hold, it appears that Republicans could narrowly win control of the House by around five to ten seats. That is far from the red wave predicted by most pundits, who got caught in their own echo chamber. More on that in a moment." This means Pelosi will likely step down from leadership [Update: She did], which means we are in danger of Hakeem Jeffries, corporate lackey, winning the leadership seat. This is the guy who teamed up with Josh Gottheimer to try to defeat progressive Dems. And in honor of that, Ryan Grim has posted an excerpt from his book, We've Got People, "The real story of the making of Nancy Pelosi" — which just happens to contain the full section of the quote I typed up last time.
James Kwak's morning-after musings, "Democracy Takes Another Hit: This morning, Democrats are feeling pretty good. We shouldn't be. With many races still too close to call, it appears that this year's elections were not quite the cataclysm for Democrats that they could have been. We have a decent chance of preserving a 50–50 tie in the Senate and will probably only lose about ten seats (and the majority) in the House. That, combined with weeks of lowering expectations, will help the party put a positive spin on what was really … a disturbing defeat. [...] The truth is that the Democratic Party has failed — failed to stand for anything that ordinary people care about and failed to deliver basic economic security. We are pretty good at arming Ukraine to fight against a brutal Russian invasion, pretty bad at helping the working- and middle-class people who were once the bedrock of our party." Face it, the only thing that saved us is that Republicans didn't offer any better.
"Eight Key Midterm Election Takeaways: The Progressive Electorate Has Spoken [...] While voters this year declined to offer a stiff rebuke of the party in power, they indicated via ballot measures, exit polls, and large pre-election surveys that on key issues such as abortion rights, health care, higher minimum wages, workers' right to collectively bargain, and legalized cannabis, the electorate is more progressive than elected officials and corporate media pundits care to admit."
Establishment Dems were all ready to blame the left for heavy losses in the mid-terms (and Jim Clyburn even got an early start), but since that didn't work out, "NEWS ANALYSIS: Who Can Be Blamed for Not Blowing the Midterms?: Democrats' recrimination plans go up in smoke. The second-noblest midterm tradition is the widespread scapegoating after a sweeping and overdetermined loss. This year, sadly, slated right next to Doctor Oz in the Loser Category, are the would-be scapegoaters of the Democratic Party, forced to confront a night that was neither a full vindication of their preferred strategy nor a defeat humiliating enough to justify a full purge of their enemies. If the Democratic Party as a political entity averted a catastrophe this week, its scolds and gatekeepers really couldn't have drawn up a worse result. How do you trash 'activists' for a loss that didn't quite materialize after a solid year of preemptively blaming them for it? I imagine we'll soon see."
"Reconciliation Is Available to End Debt Limit Hostage-Taking: With the GOP likely to take over the House, Democrats can use the lame duck to effectively eliminate the debt limit and the leverage Republicans would wield." They won't, though.
A corrupt sheriff is after our Zelda! "Inside L.A. County sheriff's dubious corruption probe of Sheila Kuehl, another watchdog: Long before detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department showed up at Sheila Kuehl's house with a search warrant, it was clear this was no ordinary corruption investigation. The department had spent three years looking into an allegation that Kuehl, a county supervisor and one of Sheriff Alex Villanueva's harshest critics, had taken bribes from a friend in return for Metropolitan Transportation Authority contracts. The investigation fit a pattern. Since his election in 2018, Villanueva has fiercely resisted oversight by Kuehl, her colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, and other watchdogs monitoring alleged wrongdoing in his department. Prosecutors had declined to file charges in the Kuehl case, telling sheriff's investigators last year that they lacked the evidence they would need at trial. Had the investigation ended there it might have been just a footnote in Villanueva's tumultuous tenure. But in the closing weeks of his run for a second term, deputies with guns and battering rams were dispatched to rummage through Kuehl's home in Santa Monica, her friend's house in Del Rey and four offices around downtown L.A."
Oh, just what we needed, another "study" confirming the worst copaganda, which no amount of debunking will ever put to rest. "A Warning to Journalists About Elite Academia: Two Harvard professors propose the greatest expansion of the police bureaucracy in Western history. Two Harvard professors recently published an article called 'The Injustice of Under-Policing in America' in the American Journal of Law and Equality. The Harvard professors call for 500,000 more armed cops, who will arrest 7.8 million more people per year." These guys claimed that the US has fewer cops per population than any other country, but their data "appears to exclude all federal policing agencies (e.g., border patrol, ICE, FBI, DEA, ATF, capitol police, Park Police, military police, etc...), potentially many non-local state agencies, and ALL private police forces. One of the professors responded that they chose to use the number 697,195 from the UCR (an FBI reporting survey) even though they knew many local agencies weren't included. So, he admitted that the number may be much higher, like 900,000. (Note: Wikipedia, for example, says 900k based on a major police non-profit source). The professor then admitted privately over email that the U.S. census count is actually 1,227,788 police. That's 76% higher than the number they chose to use in their public article. What's the significance of this? Using this number, they admitted to me, would mean the U.S. truthfully has '1.1 times the median rate in rich countries.' [...] The most alarming aspect of the article is it repeatedly ignores the costs of more police. I was dumbfounded reading it. The article presents the main cost of their proposal as 7.8 million more arrests. They call it the 'main downside,' and it is the only one they even mention. The professors then dismiss the costs of 7.8 million more people arrested as far outweighed by all the amazing benefits of police. Virtually every subpoint they make is flawed (including their failure to count millions of unrecorded police assaults or even mention that they are excluding them as a 'cost' of policing), but I want to highlight the big one: more arrests are not the only social cost of 500,000 more armed cops!"
"Wall Street Strikes Back: While the financial industry once kept a low profile in elections, it's no secret which races it's banking on winning this election cycle. That's because big banks aren't shy about the fact that they're using multiple political groups to run misleading ads and donate millions on behalf of key Republican and Democratic candidates they believe will help them slash regulations and preserve predatory practices. The fact that buttoned-up bankers are intervening so shamelessly on behalf of election deniers and other right-wing demagogues might seem surprising — but the in-your-face approach is exactly the point."
Here's a story I would have thought was everywhere as soon as it happened. You all know how, during the Bush administration, Congress passed an appalling requirement for the US Postal Service to pre-fund pensions 75 years in advance, thus creating the illusion that the USPS was a money-losing proposition so they could pretend it would do better in the hands of private entities. Of course, this was a lie, since the Post Office has always made a profit and could cover the real costs of operations and existing pension pay-outs easily. So people have spent 15 years trying to get rid of this stupid requirement, and when Congress passed a new law in March and Biden signed it in April, I would have thought a victory like that would have made more noise. But I just heard about it. I guess the only thing that's important is the clown show.
RIP: "Robert Clary, Corporal LeBeau on 'Hogan's Heroes,' Dies at 96: The French actor and singer spent 31 months in a concentration camp but said he had no reservations about starring in a TV comedy about the Nazis. [...] Clary was the last surviving member of the show's original principal cast." LeBeau was one of my favorites.
"Disinformation policing, lab safety, public health – we're getting it all wrong: Can we please not make this partisan? The Intercept this week published two major investigations that seem at first blush unrelated, but a closer look shows the link between the two in a profoundly important way. One is a deep look at safety inside the labs that work with extremely dangerous pathogens. What our reporter Mara Hvistendahl has uncovered is disturbing [...] The second story is an investigation by Lee Fang and Ken Klippenstein into a sprawling new mandate that the Department of Homeland Security has adopted for itself: to police the spread of 'misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation' on the interwebs. The main targets of the truth police are, according to a draft version of a leaked DHS quadrennial report, 'the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.' The director of a DHS advisory committee, worried about how all this might look, reported Fang and Klippenstein, 'recommended the use of third-party information-sharing nonprofits as a 'clearing house for information to avoid the appearance of government propaganda.'' And here we find the overlap. For some reasons that I vaguely understand, and for some others that I still can't fully comprehend, the conversation around the origin of the pandemic and the efficacy of the vaccines have both become coded along a left-right axis."
"Republicans Have a Symbiotic Relationship With Crime: You can't whip up a hysterical meltdown about crime without lots of crime happening. In the final stretch of the midterm campaign, right-wing media has turned to one of its most reliable propaganda tactics: crime panic. Ads where I live in Pennsylvania are putting the infamous Willie Horton strategy to shame; at the bar this week, I caught one that all but accused Democratic Senate nominee John Fetterman of being an accomplice to murder. [...] The striking thing about this messaging strategy is not just the undeniable opportunism—like the supposedly fearsome migrant caravan back in October 2018, it's a safe bet that Fox's crime focus will evaporate once the election is over—but also the perverse incentive thus created. Republicans have an objective political interest in increased crime because it allows them to incite a febrile backlash, and many of them are not at all subtle about it. By the same token, their favored policies of total legal impunity for police and making it ever-easier to buy guns will undoubtedly make crime worse, all else equal. In short, if you want more crime, vote Republican." In fact, conservative policies have always increased crime, which may be why the states where crime is worst are Republican-run states.
Truth Cops: Leaked Documents Outline DHS's Plans to Police Disinformation THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY is quietly broadening its efforts to curb speech it considers dangerous, an investigation by The Intercept has found. Years of internal DHS memos, emails, and documents — obtained via leaks and an ongoing lawsuit, as well as public documents — illustrate an expansive effort by the agency to influence tech platforms."
I don't hold out much hope for a third party's success, especially in the current system, but is it possible to take over the Democratic Party? I don't feel optimistic about that, either. Here's one position on that: "The Politicians Who Destroyed Our Democracy Want Us to Vote for Them to Save It: We should have walked out on the Democratic Party and mounted a serious opposition movement while we still had a chance. The bipartisan project of dismantling our democracy, which took place over the last few decades on behalf of corporations and the rich, has left only the outward shell of democracy. The courts, legislative bodies, the executive branch and the media, including public broadcasting, are captive to corporate power. There is no institution left that can be considered authentically democratic. The corporate coup d'état is over. They won. We lost." It's hard to argue with any of that, but if we ever had a chance to simply walk away, that hasn't been helped by changes in law that make third parties even more difficult to field. And unlike most Americans, I've had the experience of living in a country with multiple parties and I can't honestly say they fare any better. The UK has multiple parties, and yet, Margaret Thatcher's Conservatives went on and on and on with only 40% of the vote. We even ended up with Boris Johnson, and then the bizarre autumn antics that led to today. European countries are all watching inroads, if not outright successes, by the right wing breaking through whatever sort of liberalism (social democracy or democratic socialism, however you like to define it) used to create stable governments. Neoliberalism opened the door wide, and the far right has been wriggling through or even marching right in. Today's so-called "centrist" governments seem more willing to sympathize with avowed fascists than with any kind of social democracy, let alone "the left".
Kuttner, "Sam Bankman-Fried: A Common Crook: Today on TAP: With luck, his fall will take the whole crypto sector with him. What has almost gotten lost in the Sam Bankman-Fried saga is that the former billionaire's scam was a fundamental violation of the securities laws—using customer funds to place his own bets. His personal control of both the exchange FTX, and his investment company, Alameda, and the comingling of their funds, puts Bankman-Fried right up there with Ponzi and Madoff as common crooks and outright felons." But it's always been obvious that crypto is a scam and we're just waiting to see if members of Congress will stop pretending it should be taken as anything more than a crooked game.
Jeez, even ten years ago Second Life avatars looked better than what the Metaverse has to offer.
Jeff Beck - "Shapes of Things"