Thursday, September 21, 2023

But I found out you were puttin' me on

It's the blue supermoon, which he said I should credit "from your Baltimore friend Mike," which I object to on the grounds that I have more than one of those, so he allowed as how I could admit he's Mike Kurman.

It astonishes me to say so, but there are some things the Biden administration is doing that I would like to see continue and I'll really really hate seeing Republicans replace the people who are doing them. "Biden's NLRB Brings Workers' Rights Back From the Dead: Last Friday, the National Labor Relations Board released its most important ruling in many decades. In a party-line decision in Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, LLC, the Board ruled that when a majority of a company's employees file union affiliation cards, the employer can either voluntarily recognize their union or, if not, ask the Board to run a union recognition election. If, in the run-up to or during that election, the employer commits an unfair labor practice, such as illegally firing pro-union workers (which has become routine in nearly every such election over the past 40 years, as the penalties have been negligible), the Board will order the employer to recognize the union and enter forthwith into bargaining. The Cemex decision was preceded by another, one day earlier, in which the Board, also along party lines, set out rules for representation elections which required them to be held promptly after the Board had been asked to conduct them, curtailing employers' ability to delay them, often indefinitely. Taken together, this one-two punch effectively makes union organizing possible again, after decades in which unpunished employer illegality was the most decisive factor in reducing the nation's rate of private-sector unionization from roughly 35 percent to the bare 6 percent at which it stands today."

"Eighth Circuit Says Cops Can Come With Probable Cause For An Arrest AFTER They've Already Arrested Someone: Well, this is a bit of a doozy. This case — via the Institute for Justice — involves a possible First Amendment violation but somehow ends with a judicial blessing of cops who make things up after the fact to justify an arrest that has already taken place." A guy was walking down the road and a cop stopped him and demanded he identify himself. Since the cop had no right to do so without probable cause, he refused. So the cop arrested him. Then he gets him to the station and finds out he can't charge him with "failure to identify" so he asks around for something to get him on. They let him go after a couple of hours but he sued, and it turns out that there's actually a law, never enforced, against walking on that side of the road. But there's case law saying that if the law isn't normally enforced, it doesn't excuse the arrest from being retaliatory rather than probable cause. But the court just waved it away.

Google is working hard to avoid the mistake Bill Gates made and they're trying to stay off your TV screen, but The American Prospect is covering the show. "Justice Department Says Google 'Flexed Its Muscle' as a Monopolist: On day one of the historic monopolization trial, the government put Google's chief economist on the stand to show that the company valued default status on browsers and devices. [...] Despite the stakes of the trial, the remainder of the legal proceeding will take place in a near-total blackout, since requests for public audio have been denied by Judge Amit Mehta and even in-person attendants are restricted from digital access inside the courtroom. For nearly two decades, Google has served as the 'on-ramp' and gatekeeper of the digital world through its dominance of search engine functions, which is the target of this case. The government has unveiled a separate case against Google for its rollup of the digital advertising market. Though related, that case relies on distinct evidentiary claims, some of which will feature prominently in the current trial. To win a Sherman Act monopolization case given the prevailing understanding of the law by most courts, the government not only has to prove that Google's market share qualifies it as a monopoly, but also show that it's used this dominant position to harm competition. That's the task ahead for the DOJ Antitrust Division's team, led by attorney Kenneth Dintzer, who also served on the Microsoft case, the last major tech antitrust case from the late 1990s."

"The 5th Circuit Is the Blown Fuse of American Jurisprudence: According to one of its own, 'the Good Ship Fifth Circuit is afire.' [...] If you want to fast-track a truly terrible idea to the carefully engineered conservative majority on the Supreme Court, the best way to do it is to file it in Texas. If your case fails there, take it down to the 5th Circuit for some CPR. Once there, your chances to prevail are fairly good. This forces the other side to throw itself on the tender mercies of the Alito Court. Even some of the 5th Circuit's veteran conservative judges can hear the whistle of that railroad."

"As judges, we've made thousands of bail decisions. Here's the truth about detention and public safety: Often when judges determine that a person accused of a crime can safely be released from jail and return to court when directed, they face criticism for 'letting the accused out' by reducing monetary bail or 'allowing' the accused to bail at all. This lack of understanding around the bail process undermines the public's trust in the rule of law. As retired and current California trial court judges with more than 90 years of collective experience, we have presided over and made thousands of difficult release decisions. While each of our state's 58 county superior courts may be at a different point on their path toward a safer, fairer and evidence-based pretrial justice process, the California Constitution makes clear that detention is to be the limited exception, not the rule. And studies of this approach to date have reinforced that it promotes, rather than undermines, public safety."

Clarence Thomas claimed gun restrictions weren't around before the 20th Century. "The Volunteer Moms Poring Over Archives to Prove Clarence Thomas Wrong [...] Over and over again, Birch and Karabian found the same thing: strict limits on the use and possession of firearms, dating back at least to the 1850s, that belie Bruen's vision of a 19th-century Wild West where the right to bear arms was almost never infringed on. The regulations uncovered were consistent as to weapons and across cities throughout Orange County, one of the more conservative counties in the state. 'Many of these limitations were enacted shortly after cities were incorporated as part of their very first batch of laws,' Karabian said."

"Laura Kuenssberg's Time as BBC Political Editor has been a Catastrophic, Systemic Failure: Thanks to managers at the BBC, the outgoing Kuenssberg repeated lies rather than challenging them, says former BBC journalist Patrick Howse [...] What they got was a journalist with access to the upper reaches of the Government, with a determination to get on air and tell everyone the whispers that she had heard from ministers, advisors and officials – before Sky or ITN. What the BBC needed was someone who could take a step back, away from the scrum, and tell audiences when they were being lied to. That was something neither the BBC nor Kuenssberg has ever come to terms with."

Amazing piece by Cory Doctorow on the vicious wage-theft artists are suffering, triggered by one artist's reaction when "Bill Willingham puts his graphic novel series "Fables" into the public domain." As a long-time fan of Fables, the graphic jumped out at me from his lenghty Xitter thread, but these reminders of how the heads of Disney and Warner really belong on jail stir my blood. But it's all part of a bigger story, too, of organized chaos: "For usury, the chaos is a feature, not a bug. Their corporate strategists take the position that any ambiguity should be automatically resolved in their favor, with the burden of proof on accused debtors, not the debt collectors. The scumbags who lost your deed and stole your house say that it's up to you to prove that you own it. And since you've just been rendered homeless, you don't even have a house to secure a loan you might use to pay a lawyer to go to court. [...] The chaos, in other words, is a feature and not a bug. It provides cover for contract-violating conduct, up to and including wage-theft. Remember when Disney/Marvel stole money from beloved science fiction giant Alan Dean Foster, whose original Star Wars novelization was hugely influential on George Lucas, who changed the movie to match Foster's ideas? Disney claimed that when it acquired Lucasfilm, it only acquired its assets, but not its liabilities. That meant that while it continued to hold Foster's license to publish his novel, they were not bound by an obligation to pay Foster for this license, since that liability was retained by the (now defunct) original company"

Pareene, "Neal Katyal and the Depravity of Big Law: The Democratic lawyer's sickening defense of corporate immunity in a Supreme Court case reveals a growing moral rot in the legal community. The United States has a political class that mistakes its professional norms for ethics. Mainstream political journalists mindlessly grant anonymity to professional liars. Elected officials put collegiality and institutional procedure over the needs and interests of their constituents. And as for lawyers, they have refined this tendency into what amounts to a religion of self-justification. The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution establishes that every American has the right to “the Assistance of Counsel” if they are prosecuted for a crime. This was a pointed rejection of English common law, which barred felony defendants from hiring counsel to represent them. Over time, the Assistance of Counsel clause came to mean that everyone prosecuted for a crime had the right to competent and effective representation, even if they could not afford it. From that right, the American legal community developed a core tenet: Everyone deserves representation. But once the American legal community invented corporate law and the large firm, it continued developing that tenet until it became so divorced from notions of liberty or equality under the law that it now works as a kind of force field preventing lawyers from facing any social or professional repercussions for their actions on behalf of their clients. Everyone has a right to counsel, and every lawyer has a right to earn a buck. [...] He is about as close as you could come to the embodiment of Big Law's connection to the institutional Democratic Party. And last week he argued that because the corporation that supplied Zyklon B to the Nazis for use in their extermination camps was not indicted at Nuremberg, Nestle and Cargill should not be held liable for their use of child slave labor. In his argument before the court, Katyal espoused a view of corporate immunity so expansive that even the conservative judges seemed skeptical. If you took him at his word, he was effectively asking the Supreme Court to make it impossible for any foreigner to sue any company for any harm done to them, up to and including kidnapping and enslavement. [...] To defend an accused murderer or rapist in a criminal trial is a straightforward endorsement of the idea of the presumption of innocence, not an endorsement of murder or rape. That's the act enshrined in our Bill of Rights. To make a career out of defending and expanding corporate power at the expense of employee and consumer power, on the other hand, is simply to endorse those things."

Scott Hechinger recommends: Copaganda": "Extraordinary work again from @TeenVogue -- the best justice journalism outlet in the country. On the day that cash bail is finally eliminated in Illinois, they release a critical explainer on 'Copaganda.'"

I feel bad for Naomi Klein, who people keep confusing with Naomi Wolf. An excerpt from her book, Doppleganger, appears in the Guardian, talking about how she eventually became obsessed with that confusion as Wolf veered radically to the right and people kept attacking Klein for things Wolf had said, but even more the confusion of how her first-name twin, once a highly-regarded and successful feminist author, had ended up sitting beside Steve Bannon railing against Covid masking.

"Chris Hedges: The Pedagogy of Power: The ruling classes always work to keep the powerless from understanding how power functions. This assault has been aided by a cultural left determined to banish 'dead white male' philosophers."

David Klion's review of Martin Peretz's memoir, "Everybody Hates Marty," is really far too kind, and therefore unsatisfying, but that probably owes a lot to the fact that he mostly just reviewed the book rather than reviewing the legacy of Martin Peretz, who helped destroy the world.

"Samantha Geimer on Roman Polanski: 'We email a little bit': In 1977, the film director had 'unlawful sex' with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer, an event that has overshadowed their lives ever since. So why would he get in touch with her now? [...] As the victim of a sex crime, she isn't unusual in saying that the experience of going to court and the attendant publicity was more painful than the incident itself. The difference, of course, is that Geimer has never been allowed to forget it. 'When I see his name, it's always followed by 'convicted' or '13 year old'.' She smiles strenuously. 'And that's always me.'"

Political Research Associates has updated their Glossary of right-wing terms.

"The church bell chimed 'til it rang 29 times / For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald." "At 3 p.m. Tuesday, the bell at Mariners' Church rang out again — now chiming 30 times to honor those perished sailors along with the artist who famously memorialized them in song."

"The Mystery of the Bloomfield Bridge: Why is this bridge here?"

Tourist destination: James Garner statue, Norman, OK.

Gene Clarke, "Feel A Whole Lot Better" (1985 version from Firebyrd)

Thursday, August 31, 2023

She's just mad about me

I had this weird little computer disaster that freaked me out and no one seems to understand how it happened, so I lost some work on this post and also some time trying to get my mojo back, so I'm just gonna post what I have here and hope it all works normally this time.

Doctorow, "How the kleptocrats and oligarchs hunt civil society groups to the ends of the Earth: It's a great time to be an oligarch! If you have accumulated a great fortune and wish to put whatever great crime lies behind it behind you, there is an army of fixers, lickspittles, thugs, reputation-launderers, procurers, henchmen, and other enablers who have turnkey solutions for laundering your reputation and keeping the unwashed from building a guillotine outside the gates of your compound."

"SoCal Gas spent millions on astroturf ops to fight climate rules: It's a breathtaking fraud: SoCal Gas, the largest gas company in America, spent millions secretly paying people to oppose California environmental regulations, then illegally stuck its customers with the bill. We Californians were forced to pay to lobby against our own survival."

Dean Baker, "It Was Never About 'Free Trade,' Can We Stop the Stupid Charade Already? Over the last four decades administrations of both political parties have pushed trade deals that were designed to redistribute income upward. These deals were routinely referred to as 'free trade' deals, implying that they were about eliminating barriers to trade. This was clearly not true. The trade agreements did remove barriers to trade in manufactured goods, thereby putting downward pressure on the wages of manufacturing workers and workers without college degrees more generally. However, they did little or nothing to remove barriers in highly paid professional services, such as those provided by doctors and dentists. And, they increased some barriers, most notably government-granted patent and copyright monopolies. This mix of barrier reductions and barrier increases had the unambiguous effect of shifting income from ordinary workers to highly educated workers. Stronger patent and copyright protections make people like Bill Gates and workers in the biotech industry rich, they don't put money in the pockets of retail clerks, truck drivers, and custodians. In fact, patents and copyrights take money out of their pockets since they make them pay more for drugs, medical equipment, software and thousands of other items, thereby reducing their real wages."

"Remote work wasn't a problem when Jason Fried wrote about it in 2010, but the second that interest rates no longer benefited venture capital it became something that had 'fooled smart people' and had to be reigned in." And bosses apparently don't get to feel as bossy, and owners feel like workers have too much power, and they just don't like it and they want to make people come back to the office for no reason.

Jon Schwarz, "The Big Myth About 'Free' Markets That Justified History's Greatest Heist: A recent book details how the top 10 percent stole $47 trillion via intellectual warfare. [...] Finally, there's the historical fact that no country has ever gone communist gradually, starting with minimum wage laws and ending up with gulags. Rather, it happened in various fell swoops in places with glaring injustices and vicious capitalistic inequality, and even then generally has required contemporary wars. [...] The book is an incredible work of scholarship, and every page has at least one sparkling, fascinating fact. Adam Smith's 1776 book The Wealth of Nations is now seen as the key text proving the virtues (economic and political) of unregulated capitalism. This is not true at all: Smith argues that bank regulation is crucial; that workers should unionize; that businesspeople have often 'deceived and oppressed' the public; and that any political proposal they make should be viewed with the utmost suspicion. George Stigler, a prominent economist at the University of Chicago and colleague of Milton Friedman, produced an edition of 'The Wealth of Nations' that dealt with Smith's inconvenient views by quietly excising many of them." And that explains something that has baffled me for decades — how did all these kids grow up thinking that Smith was a voice for monetarism? They clearly think they've read him, but they missed all the good parts!

There's always a thread somewhere about how Bernie and AOC are sellouts, so it's interesting to see two articles showing up saying otherwise. From Charlie Heller in The Nation, "A Longtime Political Organizer in AOC's District Says She's the Real Deal: She has used her skills to win concrete, historic political victories." And Branko Marcetic in Jacobin, "AOC and the Squad's List of Left-Wing Accomplishments Is Quite Long: As with any elected official, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Squad should be criticized when needed. But left-wing vitriol is unwarranted: it ignores the Squad's many progressive accomplishments and their legislation's aid to activist campaigns."

"Gender Criticism Versus Gender Abolition: On Three Recent Books About Gender" — I think there's a large extent to which when I read any article about the transgender wars, I'm really looking for a clue as to how it happened that at a time when the entire world seems to be collapsing, this subject suddenly and inexplicably became of paramount importance to so many people who must surely have better things to focus on. Grace Lavery doesn't seem to know, either, but at least she sees the problem.

Donovan, "Mellow Yellow"

Monday, August 14, 2023

I would tear this building down

New Smyrna Beach

Florida wants to teach children that slavery was more like an apprenticeship program where you learned skills you could use for your personal benefit later on. A lot of assumptions go with that, such as that you had no such skills before you were kidnapped from Africa, and that you might eventually be freed to use those skills for yourself. But my favorite part of this story is that they hired "rigorous scholars" to sell that story to the public, and they released a "rigorously" researched list of supposed slaves who supposedly went on to use their slavery-learned skills in later life. The list of people who supposedly fit this bill is almost howlingly funny. Half of them were never slaves, and those who were, by and large, did not make their living carrying on their occupations from slavery. My favorite example was the (white, free) sister of the president of the United States. I can understand how they might have made this mistake since most people have never met a white person named "Washington".

"Black man who says he was elected mayor of Alabama town alleges that White leaders are keeping him from position [...] Patrick Braxton, 57, is one of several plaintiffs named in Braxton et al v. Stokes et al. The other plaintiffs — James Ballard, Barbara Patrick, Janice Quarles and Wanda Scott — are people that Braxton hoped to name to the city council of Newbern after he was elected to office in 2020. However, Braxton said that the "minority White residents of (Newbern), long accustomed to exercising total control over the government, refused to accept this outcome." Haywood Stokes III, the acting mayor of Neweurn, instead allegedly worked with acting town council members to hold a special election where he was re-appointed to the mayoral seat and keeping Braxton from taking office and carrying out mayoral duties. "

"Ohio Voters Reject Republican Efforts to Restrict Ballot Initiatives: By an overwhelming margin, Ohio voters tonight rejected attempts by Republicans to restrict ballot initiatives for citizens to bypass legislative majorities. The initiative, known as Issue 1, was supported by pro-life groups seeking to limit the ability of pro-choice advocates to guarantee reproductive rights in Ohio state constitution in the upcoming November elections. Republicans hatched up Issue 1 in an attempt to make the November vote more difficult to reach the threshold needed for reproductive rights to be enshrined in the state constitution. Currently, changes to the constitution in Ohio require a simple majority of 50% + 1. And thanks to high turnout and a fired-up base of pro-choice voters, that's where it will remain." That's great, but they still have to win it in November.

"Samuel Alito Just Took an Indefensible Jab at the Progressive Justices" is educational on how Alito is dishonest and wrong, but it's also illuminating in the ways those "progressive" justices disagree with each other which are not always all that progressive. Hm.

Dan Froomkin, "Our so-called liberal media covers up the right's racism and growing homophobia: Political reporters at our leading news organizations routinely put a thumb on the scale in favor of the far right – both by failing to call out its racist and increasingly homophobic nature, and by adopting right-wing frames in reporting current events."

"Shock Treatment in the Emergency Room: The Lehman-like collapse of a(nother) private equity–owned ER operator has physicians calling louder than ever for a strike. " There really needs to be a way to arrest these people.

"Police are not primarily crime fighters, according to the data: (Reuters) - A new report adds to a growing line of research showing that police departments don't solve serious or violent crimes with any regularity, and in fact, spend very little time on crime control, in contrast to popular narratives. [...] More notably, researchers analyzed the data to show how officers spend their time, and the patterns that emerge tell a striking story about how policing actually works. Those results, too, comport with existing research showing that U.S. police spend much of their time conducting racially biased stops and searches of minority drivers, often without reasonable suspicion, rather than 'fighting crime.' [...] In Riverside, about 83% of deputies' time spent on officer-initiated stops went toward traffic violations, and just 7% on stops based on reasonable suspicion. Moreover, most of the stops are pointless, other than inconveniencing citizens, or worse – 'a routine practice of pretextual stops,' researchers wrote. Roughly three out of every four hours that Sacramento sheriff's officers spent investigating traffic violations were for stops that ended in warnings, or no action, for example.

A good analogy for Rishi Sunak's education policy: "The UK has some of the world's leading toll bridges. But a minority of toll bridges fail to deliver good outcomes for their drivers. Figures show that nearly three in 10 drivers have still not reached their destination within an hour of crossing a toll bridge. The government will crack down on these rip-off toll bridges, reducing the number of drivers they can carry."

"Police stage 'chilling' raid on Marion County newspaper, seizing computers, records and cellphones: MARION — In an unprecedented raid Friday, local law enforcement seized computers, cellphones and reporting materials from the Marion County Record office, the newspaper's reporters, and the publisher's home. Eric Meyer, owner and publisher of the newspaper, said police were motivated by a confidential source who leaked sensitive documents to the newspaper, and the message was clear: 'Mind your own business or we're going to step on you.' The city's entire five-officer police force and two sheriff's deputies took 'everything we have,' Meyer said, and it wasn't clear how the newspaper staff would take the weekly publication to press Tuesday night. The raid followed news stories about a restaurant owner who kicked reporters out of a meeting last week with U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, and revelations about the restaurant owner's lack of a driver's license and conviction for drunken driving. Meyer said he had never heard of police raiding a newspaper office during his 20 years at the Milwaukee Journal or 26 years teaching journalism at the University of Illinois." Apparently, it was too much for co-owner Joan Meyer, who died in the wake of the raid.

"Why is Spain's inflation so much lower than the UK's? Because it stood up to business: The reliance on Bank of England rate rises alone can't go on. In other countries, rent caps and excess profit taxes are working The government seems to be claiming that it's winning the fight against inflation. But we are not out of the woods yet. Inflation currently is still far too high and the Bank of England has today increased rates again to 5.25% and lowered its growth forecast. But it doesn't have to be like this. The case of Spain is a great counter-example. Its inflation has just fallen to the 2% target. How is it that it has already achieved this important milestone? The reason is more forceful management of the economy – the Spanish government took quicker, more concerted action than ours did. Spain capped energy prices by more than the UK, lowered the cost of public transport, taxed excess profits and put in place limits on how much landlords can raise rents. While also coming with costs, this kept inflation from spreading more widely and more persistently than elsewhere."

RIP: "Irish singer Sinead O'Connor dies aged 56: DUBLIN, July 26 (Reuters) - Sinead O'Connor, the Irish singer known for her stirring voice, 1990 chart topping hit "Nothing Compares 2 U" and outspoken views, has died at the age of 56, Irish media quoted her family as saying on Wednesday. Brash and direct - her shaved head, pained expression, and shapeless wardrobe a direct challenge to popular culture's long-prevailing notions of femininity and sexuality – O'Connor irrevocably changed the image of women in music." I thought what she did was brave, but I was frankly astonished at the virulence of the reaction. Child abuse in the church was no secret, it seems to be "exposed" every ten years and nothing ever happens to stop it. Some photos here, including one with Kristofferson.

RIP: "Randy Meisner, a founding member of the Eagles, dies aged 77." He backed up Ricky Nelson, Linda Rondstadt, and was an original member of Poco (the only time I ever saw him play was one of Poco's very first appearances, when they were brand-new), and then the Eagles.

RIP: "Robbie Robertson, Master Storyteller Who Led the Band, Dead at 80." Saw this fine live version of "The Weight" from the movie posted to the hellsite formerly known as Twitter. Still a song that amazes me, utterly timeless, like you'd heard it before you ever heard it. I like that the "Biblical" references aren't Biblical at all, but for a different religion altogether, pulling into Nazareth, Tennessee, home of Martin Guitars.

David Dayen on "Patient Zero: Tom Scully is as responsible as anyone for the way health care in America works today. [...] I've watched and listened to virtually every scrap of tape of Scully over the last 35 years, and I conducted a long interview with him in June. I think his beliefs are sincere. He thinks government price-setting doesn't work, and that empowering private insurers that put their own money at risk leads to better and more efficient care. He believes poor people should be covered generously, but all other patients exposed to cost to reduce overutilization. And he wants the best hospitals and nursing homes and clinics to be paid more than the worst, to force advances in quality." The entire August issue of The American Prospect is dedicated to The Business of Health Care, and you can read all about why these parasites should all be RICO'd.

Doctorow, "America's largest hospital chain has an algorithmic death panel: It's not that conservatives aren't sometimes right – it's that even when they're right, they're highly selective about it. Take the hoary chestnut that 'incentives matter,' trotted out to deny humane benefits to poor people on the grounds that 'free money' makes people 'workshy.' There's a whole body of conservative economic orthodoxy, Public Choice Theory, that concerns itself with the motives of callow, easily corrupted regulators, legislators and civil servants, and how they might be tempted to distort markets. But the same people who obsess over our fallible public institutions are convinced that private institutions will never yield to temptation, because the fear of competition keeps temptation at bay. It's this belief that leads the right to embrace monopolies as 'efficient': 'A company's dominance is evidence of its quality. Customers flock to it, and competitors fail to lure them away, therefore monopolies are the public's best friend.' But this only makes sense if you don't understand how monopolies can prevent competitors. [...] Regulatory capture isn't automatic: it's what you get when companies are bigger than governments."

You probably don't need to have it pointed out to you that no one who argues for means-testing is arguing in good faith (unless they really don't know what they're talking about, in which case maybe you can send them to this article), but aside from means-testing being expensive, it adds a whole bunch of red tape for everyone so let's just skip it. Universal programs are good, and we're supposed to already have a means test anyway called "progressive taxation". That' right, the people who aren't poor enough to "deserve" it for free are already paying for it anyway. "The Case for Free School Lunch: Hiving off a tiny part of the public school bundle and charging a means-tested fee for it is extremely stupid." Like I said, you probably don't need to be told this, but I find it gratifying every time someone says it.

"Neoliberalism Has Poisoned Our Minds, Study Finds: 'Institutions can promote well-being and solidarity, or they can encourage competition, individualism, and hierarchy.' The dominance of neoliberalism is turning societies against income equality. At least, that's according to a study published Tuesday in Perspectives on Psychological Science. A team of researchers at New York University and the American University of Beirut performed an analysis of roughly 20 years of data on from more than 160 countries and found that the dominance of neoliberalism across social and economic institutions has ingrained a widespread acceptance of income inequality across our value systems in turn."

Amazon is beyond hope by now, but "Podcasts are hearteningly enshittification resistant: In the enshittification cycle, a platform lures in users by giving them a good deal at first, then it lures in business customers (advertisers, sellers, performers) by shifting the surplus from users to them; finally, it takes all the surplus for itself, turning the whole thing into a pile of shit. "

There is always more Doctorow than I can post, but this is (a) great and (b) another infuriating example of what they pull and even get away with. "Fighting junk fees is "woke" [...] Every merchant you patronize has to charge more – or reduce quality, or both – in order to pay this Danegeld to two of the largest, most profitable companies in the world. Visa/Mastercard have hiked their fees by 40 percent since the pandemic's start. Forty. Fucking. Percent. Tell me again how greedflation isn't real? A bipartisan legislative coalition, led by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) have proposed the Credit Card Competition Act (CCCA), which will force competition into credit-card routing, putting pressure on the Visa/Mastercard duopoly...This should be a no-brainer, but plute spin-doctors have plenty of no-brains to fill up with culture war bullshit. Writing in The American Prospect, Luke Goldstein unpacks an astroturf campaign to save the endangered swipe fee from woke competition advocates...Now, this campaign isn't particularly sophisticated. It goes like this: Target is a big business that runs a lot of transactions through Visa/Mastercard, so it stands to benefit from competition in payment routing. And Target did a mean woke by selling Pride merch, which makes them groomers. So by fighting swipe fees, Congress is giving woke groomers a government bailout!"

"There are two kinds of antiracism. Only one works, and it has nothing to do with 'diversity training': While liberal antiracists argue over vocabulary, radicals take direct action – which is the only way to change the system. In news that ought to please antiracist campaigners everywhere, just recently everybody seems to be talking about antiracism. Chief executives such as Larry Fink of BlackRock, one of the most powerful financial companies in the world, call for 'systemic' racism to be addressed. Books on teaching antiracism to children become bestsellers. Conservatives dismiss all this as 'woke' – preachy, elitist and unneeded – but they can't seem to stop talking about it. But all the time, both sides in the debate mistakenly assume there is only one kind of antiracism. They fail to distinguish between two quite different antiracist traditions: one liberal, the other radical."

Just a little reminder that criticisms of MMT are wrong. MMT is just a description of what is, not a prescription for how to use it. But it makes it clear that how to use it is a choice to be made without the false constraints imposed by pretending it doesn't exist.

From 2020, "It's time to change the way the media reports on protests. Here are some ideas. 'People kept sharing these videos that were coming up and it was unambiguous what was going on. We weren't looking at a stream of videos of violence erupting or clashes breaking out. We were looking at cops, attacking people.' [...] A 2010 study that analyzed 40 years of protest coverage in five major newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, found that the papers depicted protests — even peaceful ones — as nuisances rather than as necessary functions of democracy."

I probably won't see the Barbie movie, but this teaser impressed me and it's not hard to figure out why Ben Shapiro was so upset.

Baby octopus

"Dead and Company Play Final Show: Videos and Set List"

Peter, Paul, & Mary, "If I Had My Way"

Monday, July 17, 2023

Nothing can change my mind

Have a look at the Lavender collection.

SUPREME COURT FINDS IN FAVOR OF FRAUDSTERS. Or so it seems to me. Lorie Smith (or at least her legal team) falsely claimed that a gay man had written to her asking her to design a wedding website for his upcoming nuptials. Which had not happened. But Lorie said that complying with the state's anti-discrimination laws would force her to "express" support for gay marriage, which she opposed. The right-wing operatives on the Supreme Court, however, were not dissuaded by the improbability of a gay couple not being able to find a gay-friendly web designer and wanting to give Lorie their custom, and said it would violate her free speech to have to provide her services to gay couples. Corey Robin has some interesting words to say on the confusion between the public and markets as regards this decision.

The far-right had a problem with establishing standing on the student loan cancellation case since, obviously, no one would actually be harmed by the policy. They finally found a loan-servicer who the state claimed would lose money, but it turned out they'd actually make money on the deal, so obviously they had no standing. (I want to interject here that for many years we have been used to the court denying standing to people who very clearly did have standing in cases where they were directly threatened or had already been harmed, so this is yet another stark example of the right-wing's tendency to grab — or discard — any argument or fact in order, however speciously, to come to their desired conclusion.) Somehow, though, they decided they had standing anyway. But they had another problem, which is that they didn't actually have much law to base their decision on, so Roberts ended up citing a political statement from Nancy Pelosi falsely claiming that the president had no power to forgive student loans. Obviously, this had been a statement based on the desires of her donors and not the law, but the law clearly does give the president the ability to cancel student debt (under several different provisions from Congress), so he had to settle for Nancy instead.

Biden follows in the footsteps of Obama and Trump and brings the same old war criminal to the White House. They just can't quit Death Squad Elliot. "Henry Kissinger, Elliott Abrams, and the Rot of American Foreign Policy: Our bipartisan elite is always willing to forgive war crimes by its made men. [...] But there is one group of shadowy miscreants that do operate under a code of omertà designed to ensure that almost all misdeeds will be forgiven, forgotten, and shielded from punishment: the American foreign policy establishment. Once you're an accredited member of the cozy club of Washington policy warlords, you need never worry about having to face the consequences of your actions. Perhaps the only major exceptions to this rule are those who break the code of silence and let the public in on the dirty deeds of the ruling class—as the late Daniel Ellsberg did with the release of the Pentagon Papers. For that unpardonable crime, the price is ostracism and threats of jail."

"FBI hired social media surveillance firm that labeled black lives matter organizers 'threat actors': A new Senate report calls out the FBI for lying to Congress about its social media monitoring, pointing out the FBI's hiring of ZeroFox. THE FBI'S PRIMARY tool for monitoring social media threats is the same contractor that labeled peaceful Black Lives Matter protest leaders DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie as 'threat actors' requiring 'continuous monitoring' in 2015. The contractor, ZeroFox, identified McKesson and Elzie as posing a 'high severity' physical threat, despite including no evidence that McKesson or Elzie were suspected of criminal activity. 'It's been almost a decade since the referenced 2015 incident and in that time we have invested heavily in fine-tuning our collections, analysis and labeling of alerts,' Lexie Gunther, a spokesperson for ZeroFox, told The Intercept, 'including the addition of a fully managed service that ensures human analysis of every alert that comes through the ZeroFox Platform to ensure we are only alerting customers to legitimate threats and are labeling those threats appropriately.'"

"Death of an Economic Theory: The notion that public investment crowds out private spending has taken a beating lately. The remarkable changes in manufacturing construction over the past year, since the passage of two key Biden administration industrial-policy laws, is rapidly putting to rest a concept that has been embedded into the old understanding of the economy. The concept is called 'crowd-out,' and it asserts that increases in government involvement in a business sector lead to reductions in private spending in that sector." It's astonishing that anyone even got away with inventing this theory. We have always had plenty of evidence that government investment creates the private sector's successes.

"WSJ Attacks Antitrust Champion Lina Khan Every 11 Days Since FTC Appointment [...] For example, after the FTC decided to block the merger between medical distributor company Illumina and medical testing company Grail, a Journal op-ed declared (4/27/23): 'Lina Khan Blocks Cancer Cures.' Grail does not in fact cure cancer, nor would blocking the merger bar its technology from the market. The FTC challenged it on the grounds that since Grail's technology requires Illumina's systems to function, the merger could prevent similar technologies under development from competing."

"OECD Pushed Australia to Drop Plan Aimed at Showing Where Corporations Pay Taxes: 'What little credibility the OECD had is now in tatters,' said one campaigner. 'The OECD makes promises about ending global tax abuse but was evidently doing everything it could behind closed doors to protect tax abusers.' The Financial Times confirmed Friday that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development lobbied Australia to weaken a law that would have compelled about 2,500 highly profitable multinational corporations to reveal where they pay taxes, eliciting outrage from tax justice advocates. Citing two unnamed people familiar with the discussions, FT reported that the Paris-based club of wealthy nations 'pressured Australia's ruling Labor government to drop a crucial part of a new finance bill that would have required some multinationals to publicly disclose their country-by-country tax bills.' According to the newspaper, 'The OECD, which has driven efforts to force the world's largest companies to pay their fair share of tax, believed the bill would have undermined its own efforts to make multinationals' affairs less opaque.' Campaigners were incredulous given that the legislation the OECD enfeebled 'would have delivered the biggest transparency breakthrough to date on the taxes of multinational corporations,' as the Tax Justice Network put it.

"How "independent media" has tightened the noose on journalists: By replacing employees with contractors and salaries with selective "profit sharing", capital has increased its control over the media. Over the last 24 hours, two stories emerged in the news that shed some crucial light on the shadowy world of 'independent' Silicon Valley media. First, in the Washington Post, Taylor Lorentz reported that Twitter has begun rolling out payments to people who use the site. Most posters on Twitter have been well aware of this since users have been loudly bragging about their payments over the past day, but they have also noticed a catch: only some people are getting the money. And so far, Lorentz reports, 'the influencers who have publicly revealed that they're part of the program are prominent figures on the right.' Meanwhile, in The Nation, Jacob Silverman wrote about the ties of YouTube competitor Rumble to the hard right. In a somewhat tangential passage, however, he notes a detail of their operations that hasn't been reported on in the past: Rumble reserves the right to cap compensation to site users at $1000. It doesn't have to, but it can.

"Half the Police Force Quit. Crime Dropped: [...] 'We enjoy prosperity and security in this community,' said Shep Harris, the mayor since 2012. 'But that has come at a cost. I think it took incidents like the murder of George Floyd to help us see that more clearly.' The residents of the strongly left-leaning town decided change was necessary. One step was eliminating those racial covenants. Another was changing the Police Department, which had a reputation for mistreating people of color. The first hire was Officer Alice White, the force's first high-ranking Black woman. The second was Virgil Green, the town's first Black police chief. 'When I started, Black folks I'd speak to in Minneapolis seemed surprised that I'd been hired,' Chief Green said when I spoke with him recently. 'They told me they and most people they knew avoided driving through Golden Valley.' Members of the overwhelmingly white police force responded to both hires by quitting — in droves. [...] 'I haven't been on the job long enough to make any significant changes,' Chief Green said. 'Yet we're losing officers left and right. It's hard not to think that they just don't want to work under a Black supervisor.' The interesting thing is that according to Chief Green, despite the reduction in staff, crime — already low — has gone down in Golden Valley. The town plans to staff the department back up, just not right away. 'I've heard that the police union is cautioning officers from coming to work here,' Mr. Harris said. 'But that's OK. We want to take the time to hire officers who share our vision and are excited to work toward our goals.' [...] When New York's officers engaged in an announced slowdown in policing in late 2014 and early 2015, civilian complaints of major crime in the city dropped. And despite significant staffing shortages at law enforcement agencies around the country, if trends continue, 2023 will have the largest percentage drop in homicides in U.S. history. It's true that such a drop would come after a two-year surge, but the fact that it would also occur after a significant reduction in law enforcement personnel suggests the surge may have been due more to the pandemic and its effects than depolicing." All right, yes, this one little town isn't really proof that reducing police necessarily reduces crime, but that's not the only evidence.

It's just as big a problem in Australia as in the US — don't trust a company that pretends to be socially or environmentally conscious if they wear it on their face but still treat employees like dirt. Instead of giving employers points for waving a rainbow flag or having race-awareness class requirements, just put them in jail when they steal the wages of employees.

RIP: "Lowell P. Weicker Jr., maverick senator during Watergate, dies at 92: He served three terms in the U.S. Senate and one term as Connecticut's governor. [...] 'More and more, events were making it clear that the Nixon White House was a cauldron of corruption,' Weicker wrote. 'And even as disclosures kept coming, more and more national leaders were acting as though nothing especially unusual had happened.'" Weicker was a liberal Republican, but the Republicans found a conservative Democrat to back to get him out of office: Joe Lieberman.

RIP: Alan Arkin at 89: Alan Arkin, who has died aged 89, was a star at the beginning of his career and a beloved character actor until the end. Though best known for comedies, most notably Catch-22 (1970) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006), lightness was not necessarily his forte; even at his funniest, he exuded gravitas." I admit, I've had my complaints about the movie of Catch-22, but Alan Arkin wasn't one of them - even before I'd heard of him, his was the face I saw when I first read the book. Here's a bunch of photos of him.

Stoller and Dayen in The American Prospect, "Moving Past Neoliberalism Is a Policy Project: In order to test whether improving people's lives can convince them to support Democrats, you have to, well, improve people's lives. [...] We aren't political consultants, and we aren't going to tell anyone how to win elections. But our political theory, nicknamed 'deliverism,' is that Democrats, when in government, need to not only say popular things, but actually deliver good economic outcomes for voters. They did not do this for many years, and neither did the GOP, which is why Trump blasted through both party establishments. Deliverism is linked to the death of neoliberalism, because it's an argument that Democrats could reverse their toxic image in many parts of the country by reversing policy choices on subjects like NAFTA, deregulation, and banking consolidation, which have helped hollow out the middle class for decades."

A lovely tribute from Robert Borosage, "Jesse Jackson Is Keeping Hope Alive: Veterans of his remarkable insurgent 1988 campaign gather to pay tribute. 'I did not start with the money, the ads, the polling or the endorsements. I started with a message and a mission.' As the now-grizzled veterans of Jesse Jackson's 1988 presidential campaign gather in Chicago this weekend to pay tribute to their ailing leader, Jackson's words summarize well the historic insurgency he led 35 years ago. [...] In 1988, Jackson was aiming higher. Standing with working people at the 'point of challenge,' he walked picket lines, stood with family farmers facing foreclosure, reached out to progressive peace, women's, gay and lesbian and environmental activists. He would stun the mainstream political world when they saw white workers and farmers not only give Jackson a hearing but also begin to vote for him in ever-greater numbers. The mission, in Jackson's words, was to build a 'progressive rainbow coalition—across ancient boundaries of race, religion, region, and sex,' moving millions of Americans from 'racial battlegrounds to economic common ground and on to moral higher ground.'"

"We are all totalitarians now: If you listen to the talking heads on MSNBC or read more sophisticated academic treatments of the topic, you'll find a frequent claim that mainstream Republican leaders who are not Trump—people like McConnell or McCarthy—are cowards or careerists. Unlike the Greenes and Gaetzes of the party, goes the argument, these men are not ideologically opposed to democracy. They're just insufficiently committed to democracy. That's the problem."

Jackie DeShannon, "Breakaway"

Friday, June 30, 2023

Outside, I'm masquerading

Little Cove Noosa (2022) Painting by Helen Mitra, from a feature on contemporary Australian art.

So, the Supremes struck down Affirmative Acton and Student Debt Relief and I can't even respond yet.

"The truth about our homelessness crisis: As Californians age, they are priced out: Public policy and common perception have long tied the road to homelessness with mental illness and drug addiction. But a new study out Tuesday — the largest and most comprehensive investigation of California's homeless population in decades — found another cause is propelling much of the crisis on our streets: the precarious poverty of the working poor, especially Black and brown seniors. 'These are old people losing housing,' Dr. Margot Kushel told me. She's the lead investigator on the study from UCSF's Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative, done at the request of state health officials. 'They basically were ticking along very poor, and sometime after the age of 50 something happened,' Kushel said. That something — divorce, a loved one dying, an illness, even a cutback in hours on the job — sparked a downward spiral and their lives 'just blew up,' as Kushel puts it. Kushel and her team found that nearly half of single adults living on our streets are over the age of 50. And 7% of all homeless adults, single or in families, are over 65. And 41% of those older, single Californians had never been homeless — not one day in their lives — before the age of 50.

Stoller, "Lina Khan Fires a Crooked CEO: The FTC blocked a genomics technology merger, leading to the firing of a CEO. The deal involved Bill Gates, Barack Obama, China and Jeff Bezos. And corporate America is in shock. [...] More than any other possible penalty, the prospect for CEOs that they could lose their job is going to change corporate behavior. Here's the front page story in the Wall Street Journal on deSouza, noting that behavior across corporate America is changing. [...] And this brings me to Microsoft, which is pursuing a somewhat irrational acquisition of game giant Activision, a bank shot attempt to monopolize gaming. The merger is on the rocks, because Great Britain ruled that it's illegal, and the combination is also being challenged by the FTC. And yet Microsoft won't relent. A few weeks ago, in an essay called Corporate Temper Tantrums, I noted that there's an open question about whether large corporations or democratic governments set the rules for our societies. Microsoft is the key example. Its threat to combine operations with Activision, despite the British government calling the transaction illegal, looks completely crazy, akin to civil disobedience by a Fortune 500 firm. There's no reason for it, since the firm has a great path ahead embedding AI in its products. Gaming is a sideshow. Why would the firm destroy its political reputation with this scorched earth campaign?"

At Thread Ap from Radley Balko, "DOJ just released the report from its two-year investigation of the Minneapolis police department. [...] 'Sit on the ground. I'm gonna mace ya.' [...] Casually pepper spraying some folks who were concerned about a suicidal friend. [...] Pulling a black teen out of a car and threatening to taser him for . . . not wearing a seatbelt. [...] Can't argue with this logic. A supervisor found that some MPD cops' use of force must have been reasonable because if it wasn't reasonable force, they wouldn't have used it. [...] Read the incident, and then how the complaint was handled. The investigator was the same supervisor on the scene who failed to find any wrongdoing at the time. He then didn't bother interviewing witnesses or the complainant before clearing the cops. [...] Flashbanging a group of protesters -- just for fun. [...] Casually pepper spraying journalists for no reason at all. [...] You know you have a problem when a federal court won't even grant officers qualified immunity, but your official investigation finds no violation of policy." The details just leave you gaping. How do you reform that?

The interesting thing wasn't the unsurprising news that Alito is just as corrupt as the rest of them so much as the odd (and unconvincing) response to the article he hadn't even read. "Samuel Alito Is the Latest Supreme Justice Exposed for Living Like an Oil Sheikh: I know a lifetime gig is a license for a permanent big-money Mardi Gras, but, really, a private jet to Alaska? A Little before midnight last night, the good people at ProPublica called in an air strike on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and the rubble is still bouncing. (Interestingly, the Justice wrote a pre-emptive rebuttal on Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, which is something all innocent people do.)"

"Populist? RFK Jr Doesn't Even Support Medicare for All. Many commentators see the eccentric Robert F. Kennedy Jr as an 'antiestablishment' alternative to Biden. But he doesn't even support single-payer health care, the brightest line dividing the centrist Democratic Party from its base. [...] All of this creates an opening for a primary challenger. Ted Kennedy's nephew, Robert F. Kennedy Jr, has stepped in to fill that niche. He's not the only Democrat running against Biden — Marianne Williamson is too — but in most polls I've seen, Kennedy is well ahead of her. And it's not hard to see why he might emerge as Biden's most prominent challenger. On the one hand, he comes from a lineage of Democratic Party royalty. On the other hand, he's an edgy antiestablishment 'populist.' Or at least that's how he's been widely portrayed — both by commentators who are repulsed by Kennedy's proclivity for anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and by those who find his criticisms of the Biden administration compelling. But the populism label is false advertising. On key issues from Israel/Palestine to Medicare for All, RFK Jr's politics are a thousand miles away from his branding."

"For Black drivers, a police officer's first 45 words are a portent of what's to come: When a police officer stops a Black driver, the first 45 words said by that officer hold important clues about how their encounter is likely to go. Car stops that result in a search, handcuffing, or arrest are nearly three times more likely to begin with the police officer issuing a command, such as 'Keep your hands on the wheel' or 'Turn the car off.'"

"Texas's 'Death Star Bill' Is an Attack on Workers and Democracy: The newly passed HB 2127 is yet another attempt by the GOP-controlled state legislature to impose minority rule over the state of Texas. It's the working class that will pay the price — and the working class that must organize to fight back. [...] HB 2127, labeled the 'Death Star Bill' by the Texas AFL-CIO, will go into effect on September 1. The bill will block cities and local governments from passing regulations on issues like labor protections, housing, and health care. Effectively, it will bar local governments in Texas from governing, hampering democracy in the state."

"The FBI Is Hunting A New Domestic Terror Threat: Abortion Rights Activists: After GOP pressure, FBI abortion 'terrorism' investigations increased tenfold, government data shows. [...] The FBI's abortion-related terrorism investigations jumped from three cases in the fiscal year 2021 to 28 in 2022, a higher increase than any other category listed, according to an audit published by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General on June 6. The number of abortion-related cases in 2022 far exceeds that of all previous years included in the audit, going back to 2017. In the same time frame, FBI investigations into 'racially or ethnically motivated extremists' decreased from 215 to 169; investigations into 'anti-government / anti-authority' declined even more sharply, from 812 to 240. In fact, the only other category to see an increase in cases was 'animal rights / environmental,' which underwent a modest increase from seven to nine cases. [...] 'There is a long history of deadly anti-abortion violence in this country,' German said. 'The FBI should not devote counterterrorism resources to vandalism cases that don't threaten human life out of some flawed notion of parity."

"Twitter Halts Promotion Of Campaign Video Due To 'Abortion Advocacy': 'The mention of abortion advocacy is the issue here,' a Twitter employee told North Carolina candidate Rachel Hunt, according to emails HuffPost reviewed. Twitter blocked a Democrat's campaign video from being promoted on its platform because it expressed support for abortion rights, according to email conversations obtained by HuffPost. The video, created by North Carolina state Sen. Rachel Hunt (D) for her campaign for lieutenant governor, centers on abortion rights in North Carolina and the fall of Roe v. Wade. Hunt says in the video that she's running for lieutenant governor to combat anti-choice Republicans who recently passed a 12-week abortion ban in the state. [...] 'Ah yes, the mention of abortion advocacy is the issue here,' a Twitter employee told Hunt's campaign Wednesday in an email reviewed by HuffPost. The employee said the company may have 'some good news to share on that front' in the next week or so, seemingly suggesting it may change its standards and practices on content discussing abortion rights. 'For now, though, you still won't be able to message around that topic,' the employee added."

"Assault charge dropped against Dan Price, former Gravity Payments CEO " — I haven't known how to react to this whole story but if the claims made about Price are no better than what came up in this case, I have to wonder if any of this is more than smears.

REST IN POWER: Debi Sundahl, former stripper, original publisher of the iconic On Our Backs, sex educator, and founder of Vitale video, of cancer, at 69. Susie Bright's announcement and tribute is now at her blog, "In memory: Debi Sundahl". There are some nice photos and stories.

"Ginni and Clarence: A Love Story How they saved one another, raged against their enemies, and brought the American experiment to the brink." A lot of people are curious about that marriage. And since he's been in the headlines a lot recently, Chapo Traphouse did an interview with Corey Robin about what he learned when writing his book The Enigma of Clarence Thomas.

"The Right accuses their critics of the conspiracy they themselves engage in" — Like, for example, the nefarious billionaire story.

"The Obamanauts Are Rebranding as Evil: It's not just Jay Carney, the former Obama spokesman who now leads capital's side of the class war at Amazon. A whole cohort of Obamanauts — those bright, young idealists who wanted to change the world — have positioned themselves in roles in the private sector where they can most effectively be part of the problem. [...] When it comes to Obama administration alumni taking lucrative gigs in Wall Street and Silicon Valley, this list is by no means exhaustive (this is to say nothing of Obama himself, who's made an absolute killing giving speeches to corporate clients). Even for hardened cynics of the political class, the shift from 2008's rousing message of 'Change we can believe in' to cashing in at corporate America has been so nakedly unsubtle it's sometimes defied belief. When that message failed to actualize itself between 2008 and 2016, a common refrain from some Democrats held that some combination of events and political constraints had doused the progressive ambition burning in the Obama administration's fiery liberal soul. Since departing the White House, countless alumni have had more freedom than most to take up professional opportunities of their own choosing — and the choices many of them made strongly suggest otherwise." Pretty sure that "fiery liberal soul" was never there to begin with.

Zach Carter in The New Yorker, "What if We're Thinking About Inflation All Wrong? Isabella Weber's heterodox ideas about government price controls are transforming policy in the United States and across Europe. [...] Instead, without warning, her career began to implode. Just before New Year's Eve, while Weber was on the bunny slopes, a short article on inflation that she'd written for the Guardian inexplicably went viral. A business-school professor called it 'the worst' take of the year. Random Bitcoin guys called her 'stupid.' The Nobel laureate Paul Krugman called her 'truly stupid.' Conservatives at Fox News, Commentary, and National Review piled on, declaring Weber's idea 'perverse,' 'fundamentally unsound,' and 'certainly wrong.'" What had she done that was so "stupid"? She'd proposed the same restraint on inflation that had worked in World War II: Price controls. Via Atrios, who had more to say about that.

"Public Schools Have Been Made to Answer for Capitalism's Crimes: Unwilling to disrupt the economic system that created mass inequality, liberals invested schools with magical powers to fix a broken society. When public schools failed to clean up capitalism's mess, they ended up on the chopping block."

If you needed a reason for millions of people to hate "liberals", always remember that Thomas Friedman was represented to people as a "liberal" media voice. And, as David C. Korten's review of Friedman's 1999 book The Lexis and the Olive Tree makes clear, Friedman was a monster. "We Are the Capitalists. You Will Be Assimilated. Resistance Is Futile. [...] If the author of The Lexus and the Olive Tree were not Thomas L. Friedman, the book could, with cause, be dismissed as simply another elitist corporate puff piece extolling the virtues of deregulation and the elimination of economic borders in the idolatrous pursuit of money. Friedman, however, has often been on the side of progressives, especially in his writing on Israel. His current book has its use, not because it offers any new insights into globalization -- it does not -- but rather because it reveals so much of the mindset of those self-proclaimed liberals and "new" Democrats who, like Friedman, have uncritically embraced economic rule by currency speculators and mega-corporations as the inevitable and beneficial future of humankind."

And, just by coincidence (and not a result of me cleverly digging up an old article on Friedman's monstrous book), Cory Doctorow recently wrote that "There Is Always An Alternative."

"Why thousands of board games are buried beneath Mankato: The Anti-Monopoly alternative to America's most successful board game took off in the 1970s. But a gaming giant with Minnesota ties sought its destruction. Somewhere beneath southern Minnesota lie the remnants of about 40,000 board games once created and sold as an antiestablishment alternative to mega-selling Monopoly. Manufactured in Mankato, the game Anti-Monopoly found success in the mid-1970s amid America's rampant inflation and institutional distrust. Then, much like in Monopoly, the ownership class quashed the competition."

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, "Tracks of My Tears"

Saturday, June 17, 2023

And one thin dime won't even shine your shoes

"Amazonie 2 (2020)" by Magali Angot (Mangot) is from a surprisingly fun collection on parrots.

"The Supreme Court Has a New Bold Lone Dissenter: This is a case about the federal right to organize your workplace through a union, which is protected by the National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA. This law was a cornerstone of the New Deal; before that point in history, unions were basically treated as illicit conspiracies out to undermine law-abiding businesses. The NLRA said: We're going start treating unions like lawful enterprises that protect workers' vested rights. One way it does that is by preempting state-level suits against a union for helping to organize a workplace. That's really important because otherwise, employers could destroy a union by slapping it with ruinous civil suits for negligence and trespassing and whatever, even though it's engaging in federally protected activity. The fundamental principle in this case is that the Supreme Court has said the NLRA kicks in, and state law is ousted, whenever unions engage in collective action that is arguably protected. The key word is 'arguably'—it doesn't have to be certain. And that's an important buffer because the National Labor Relations Board, which enforces the NLRA, has to step in and investigate whenever charges are filed, then decide whether fines and penalties are necessary." And that's where the Supremes stuck their nose in.

"Atlanta Police Arrest Organizers Of Bail Fund For Cop City Protesters: Part of a brutal crackdown on dissent against the police training facility, the SWAT raid and charges against the protest bail fund are unprecedented. ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, a heavily armed Atlanta Police Department SWAT team raided a house in Atlanta and arrested three of its residents. Their crime? Organizing legal support and bail funds for protesters and activists who have faced indiscriminate arrest and overreaching charges in the struggle to stop the construction of a vast police training facility — dubbed Cop City — atop a forest in Atlanta. In a joint operation with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, or GBI, Atlanta cops charged Marlon Scott Kautz, Adele Maclean, and Savannah Patterson — all board members of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund — with 'money laundering' and 'charity fraud.' The arrests are an unprecedented attack on bail funds and legal support organizations, a long-standing facet of social justice movements, according to Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center. 'This is the first bail fund to be attacked in this way,' Regan, whose organization has worked to ensure legal support for people resisting Cop City, told me. 'And there is absolutely not a scintilla of fact or evidence that anything illegal has ever transpired with regard to Atlanta fundraising for bail support.' [...] A more detailed arrest warrant for Patterson notes that the alleged 'money laundering' charge relates to reimbursements made from the nonprofit to Patterson's personal PayPal account for minor expenses including 'gasoline, forest clean-up, totes, covid rapid tests, media, yard signs and other miscellaneous expenses.' Targeting the organizers with a militarized SWAT raid based on such expenditures only clarifies the desperation of law enforcement agencies in going after the movement."

"A New Prison Policy Blocks Incarcerated Journalists and Artists From Publishing Their Work: New York prisons may have effectively banned journalism behind bars. JOHN J. LENNON HAS built an unlikely career. As a journalist writing from within the prisons he covers, he has spent the last decade offering a rare inside perspective into politics, health, and recreation behind bars. His most recent feature, in The New York Times, illustrated how rising housing prices leave those released from prison with few options to avoid homelessness. He's landed a book deal and a contributing editor position with Esquire. 'Writing has changed my life,' he told New York Focus in a phone call from Sullivan Correctional Facility. 'I've been able to grapple on the page with a lot of things.' He also mentors others who've found solace writing while imprisoned. But the agency that runs New York's prisons is set to block Lennon and countless other incarcerated writers, artists, and poets from getting their work outside prison walls. Last month, the agency quietly handed down new rules severely curtailing what incarcerated writers and artists can publish — and forbidding them from getting paid for it."

"High Court Denies Assange Right to Appeal Putting Him Perilously Close to Extradition: A single judge on the High Court of England and Wales has rejected imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange's nearly year-old request to appeal the British decision to extradite him to the United States to stand trial on espionage and computer intrusion charges. Assange's legal team has one last recourse in the U.K. and has five days to request a hearing before the court."

"Texas sheriff files criminal case over DeSantis flights to Martha's Vineyard: A Texas sheriff's office has recommended criminal charges over flights that the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, arranged to deport 49 South American migrants from San Antonio to Martha's Vineyard, in Massachusetts, last year. In a statement on Monday, the Bexar county sheriff's office said it had filed a criminal case with the local district attorney over the flight. The Bexar county sheriff, Javier Salazar, has previously said the migrants were 'lured under false pretenses' into traveling to Martha's Vineyard, a wealthy liberal town. The recommendation comes after the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, threatened DeSantis with kidnapping charges on Monday, after Florida flew a group of people seeking asylum to Sacramento. It was the second time in four days Florida had used taxpayer money to fly asylum seekers to California. 'The charge filed is unlawful restraint and several accounts were filed, both misdemeanor and felony,' the Bexar county sheriff's office said in a statement provided to KSAT News."

My favorite thing about the story of the tsouris that got stirred up when the Dodgers invited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to be their guests is that actual Catholic nuns stood up for them because they visit the sick, clothe the naked, and feed the poor, which is just what nuns are supposed to do. "Dodgers apologize and invite Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to Pride Night: Less than a week after removing the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence from their lineup, the Dodgers on Monday re-invited the organization to Pride Night amid backlash from LGBTQ+ and civil rights groups as well as local politicians and even Dodgers employees."

Impeached Republican "Texas AG Says Trump Would've 'Lost' State If It Hadn't Blocked Mail-in Ballots Applications Being Sent Out: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said former President Donald Trump would have lost in Texas in the 2020 election if his office had not successfully blocked counties from mailing out applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters. Harris County, home to the city of Houston, wanted to mail out applications for mail-in ballots to its approximately 2.4 million registered voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the conservative Texas Supreme Court blocked the county from doing so after it faced litigation from Paxton's office."

I always wondered when these people would finally notice the contradiction here. "Texas House Overwhelmingly Approves Restrictions on No-Knock Warrants: Conservatives who support the bill recognize the conflict between unannounced home invasions and the Second Amendment. The Texas House of Representatives last week overwhelmingly approved a bill that would sharply restrict the use of no-knock search warrants, which the state Senate is now considering. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans, and the bipartisan support for the bill suggests that many conservatives recognize the potentially lethal hazards of routinely allowing police to enter people's homes without warning. That practice pits law enforcement priorities against the right to armed self-defense in the home, which the Supreme Court has recognized as the "core" of the Second Amendment. [...] "No-knock warrants are really dangerous," Wu told Houston Public Media. "They're just a bad policy. There's no reason that you can't announce that it's the police coming into your door in the middle of the night." He said Texas conservatives "understand that you don't really have a right to defend your home if you don't know who is coming in."" All the more so when the warrants themselves are frequently of questionable provenance and the teams that execute them do so recklessly.

"Video Showed an Officer Trying to Stop His Partner From Killing a Man. Now We Know Police Investigators Never Even Asked About the Footage. We obtained the NYPD's full investigation into the killing of Kawaski Trawick, including documents and audio of interviews with the officers. The records provide a rare window into how exactly a police department examines its own after a shooting." Let's just say there was a little discrepancy between what the video showed and what the police said happened, and the "investigation" didn't even investigate it.

YouGov poll less interesting than it could have been: "American women describe their experiences with menstrual periods"

REST IN PEACE: "Cynthia Weil, Storied Songwriter With Decades of Hits, Dead at 82: Cynthia Weil, the celebrated songwriter who helped craft timeless hits like the Righteous Brothers' 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin',' the Animals' 'We Gotta Get Out of This Place,' and Chaka Khan's 'Through the Fire,' died Thursday, June 1. She was 82." Wrote some Gene Pitney and Motown hits I loved, as well, and my old favorite from Wild in the Streets, too, "The Shape of Things to Come".

REST IN PEACE: "John Romita Sr, Spider-Man artist and co-creator of Wolverine, dead at 93 [...] Romita died of natural causes in his sleep. His son, John Romita Jr, also a successful graphic novelist, confirmed the death in a Twitter post on Tuesday night."

REST IN POWER: "Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower, dies aged 92 [...] In March, Ellsberg announced that he had inoperable pancreatic cancer. Saying he had been given three to six months to live, he said he had chosen not to undergo chemotherapy and had been assured of hospice care. 'I am not in any physical pain,' he wrote, adding: 'My cardiologist has given me license to abandon my salt-free diet of the last six years. This has improved my life dramatically: the pleasure of eating my favourite foods!' On Friday, the family said Ellsberg 'was not in pain' when he died. He spent his final months eating 'hot chocolate, croissants, cake, poppyseed bagels and lox' and enjoying 'several viewings of his all-time favourite [movie], Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid', the family statement added." I like knowing that. Right up to the end he was speaking up for whistleblowers who have been treated like criminals by our modern "leaders". He was a real hero. Also, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is my favorite porn film.

REST IN POWER: "Glenda Jackson, fearless actor and politician, dies aged 87 [...] Jackson bestrode the narrow worlds of stage and screen like a colossus over six decades. Though such a Shakespearean tribute would undoubtedly have had the famously curmudgeonly actor reaching for her familiar catchphrase: 'Oh, come on. Good God, no,' nothing less will do for a star who emerged from a 23-year career break to play King Lear at the age of 82. Not only did she win an Evening Standard theatre award for that performance, but she brought the audience to its feet by playing up to her ferocious reputation with an attack on the awards' sponsor. For decades, the newspaper had scorned her as an actor, opposed her as an MP, she said, 'so I'm left thinking what did I do wrong?'"

ROT IN PERDITION: "Left Out of Pat Robertson's Obits: His Crazy, Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory: The right-wing Christian broadcaster was a bigoted loon—and the GOP embraced him. On Thursday, Pat Robertson, the television preacher and founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, died at the age of 93. The obituaries duly noted that he transformed Christian fundamentalism into a potent political force with the Christian Coalition that he founded in 1990 and that became an influential component of the Republican Party. They also included an array of outrageous and absurd remarks he had made over the years. He blamed natural disasters on feminists and LGBTQ people. He called Black Lives Matter activists anti-Christian. He said a devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti occurred because Haitians had made a 'pact with the devil' to win their freedom from France. He prayed for the deaths of liberal Supreme Court justices. He insisted the 9/11 attacks happened because liberals, feminists, and gay rights advocates had angered God. He claimed Kenyans could get AIDS via towels. He insisted Christians were more patriotic than non-Christians. He purported to have prayed away a hurricane from striking Virginia Beach. (The storm hit elsewhere.) Yet left out of the accounts of Robertson's life was a basic fact: He was an antisemitic conspiracy theory nutter."

ROT IN PERDITION: "A farewell to James G. Watt, environmental vandal and proto-Trumpian: Last week was so chock full o' news, what with the Trump indictment and the deaths of religious right-winger Pat Robertson and the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, that I'm concerned that another significant passing has received far less attention than it deserved. That's the death of James G. Watt at 85, which occurred on May 27 but was announced by his family last Thursday. Most leading newspapers granted Watt an obituary, proper for someone who was Ronald Reagan's Interior secretary for just under three years. The New York Times called him 'polarizing,' the Washington Post 'combative,' this newspaper 'sharp-tongued and pro-development.' Did those adjectives do justice to Watt, however? I think not. They focused on his actions while in office from 1981 to 1983. What they missed, however, is his legacy as a Republican ideologue on environmental policy." We were all horrified when he was appointed, but my sister-in-law worked at Interior and they were all crying.

Atrios provides a guest link to a surprisingly good opinion piece by Perry Bacon, Jr. in the WaPo in the wake of Chris Licht stepping down at CNN. "After the firestorm created by the Atlantic article, Licht is now stepping down from his post. But all of the harsh criticism is a bit unfair to Licht. In particular, his skepticism of left-wing causes, and his view that people who don't agree with the left are constantly attacked and shamed, isn't some outlier stance. These ideas are regularly expressed in many of the nation's most prominent news outlets. If you spend a lot of time talking to White men in Democratic politics, as I do, you have to nod along as comments like Licht's are made, even if you don't agree with them, to signal that you are a reasonable person worth talking to. Licht's comments embody an anti-woke centrism that is increasingly prominent in American media and politics today, particularly among powerful White men who live on the coasts and don't identify as Republicans or conservatives. It's deeply flawed, and it's pushing some important U.S. institutions to make bad decisions. [...] 'Americans are losing hold of a fundamental right as citizens of a free country: the right to speak their minds and voice their opinions in public without fear of being shamed or shunned,' the New York Times declared in the first sentence of a March 2022 editorial. In reality, there has never been a right to voice your opinion without the possibility of being shamed or shunned (terms without precise meanings) — and there shouldn't be. Shaming and shunning people are free expression, too. What I suspect this editorial was actually calling for is for self-described Democrats and liberals to be able to express more conservative views (such as skepticism about transgender rights) but without being attacked in the way that conservatives often are for such views (being called bigots)."

"This L.A. Bus Shelter Managed to Offend Literally Everyone." This is what happens when hurting the homeless becomes more of a priority than creating things that serve the purposes they were supposed to be created for. Those nice benches that were meant for people — tired people, or old people — to be able to rest while visiting a park, shopping, or waiting for the bus, have been made so uncomfortable that no one can actually rest on them anymore. And now they've found a way to eliminate any protection from rain or sun. A work of genius.

"How Reading The Economist Helped Me to Stop Worrying About White Supremacy: A recent viral sensation identifies the migration of poor whites as the cause of the problem—letting the rest of us off the hook! [...] If an Economist article that went viral recently is any indication, neither revelation made a dent in the conventional wisdom about who's behind white supremacy in America. The article, by Elliott Morris, citing a research paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, claims that you can use math to prove that 21st-century reactionary politics come from poor whites who left the South looking for jobs a century ago. It's not hard to see why this piece got traction. It absolves lots of white people of any responsibility for white supremacy. It's just truthy enough to become the kind of 'everyone knows' canonical narrative that informs political strategies for a generation. But the math proving that racism comes from one specific class of people turns out to be fatally flawed! And it gets worse. By obscuring how white supremacy actually works, and perpetuating mistaken ideas of why it persists and spreads, this study can make it harder to fight. That leaves us all worse off. It's the political equivalent of junk food."

"The First Name of a Supreme Court Justice Is Not Justice [...] Over roughly the past 15 years, the justices have seized for themselves more and more of the national governing agenda, overriding other decision makers with startling frequency. And they have done so in language that drips with contempt for other governing institutions and in a way that elevates the judicial role above all others. The result has been a judicial power grab. [...] Recognizing the justices' ideological project also points to the beginning of the solution. We ought to begin talking about the justices the way we talk about other political actors — recognizing that their first name is not Justice and that they, like other politicians, should be identified by their party. We should stop talking about another branch's potential defiance of a judicial opinion as an attack on 'the rule of law' and instead understand it as an attack on rule by judges, one that may (or may not) be a justified response to some act of judicial governance. And those other branches should be more willing — as they have at other moments in American history — to use the tools at their disposal, including cutting the judiciary's funding, to put the courts in their place. In recent years, the judiciary has shown little but contempt for other governing institutions. It has earned a little contempt in return."

So, it turns out that instead of threatening people, you can get people to show up in court by communicating with them: "Criminal justice policy in the United States focuses on increasing negative consequences to deter undesired behavior. However, defendants often appear relatively insensitive to these changes in the severity of consequences. Fishbane et al. considered a different policy lever: improving the communication of information necessary to adhere to desired behavior (see the Perspective by Kohler-Hausmann). They found that redesigning a criminal summons form to highlight critical information and providing text message reminders increased the likelihood that defendants would show up to their appointed court date, thus eliminating a substantial percentage of arrest warrants for failing to appear in court. In follow-up experiments, the authors found that laypeople, but not experts, believe that such failures to appear are relatively intentional, and this belief reduces their support for interventions aimed at increasing awareness rather than punishment. These findings have implications for policies aimed at improving criminal justice outcomes."

"Pluralistic: The long lineage of private equity's looting: Fans of the Sopranos will remember the 'bust out' as a mob tactic in which a business is taken over, loaded up with debt, and driven into the ground, wrecking the lives of the business's workers, customers and suppliers. When the mafia does this, we call it a bust out; when Wall Street does it, we call it 'private equity.'" Cory Doctorow explains how vulture capitalists are destroying everything people need.

And here's Robert Kuttner's 2018 story, "It Was Vulture Capitalism that Killed Sears: Don't blame Amazon or the internet. The culprit was a predatory hedge fund. If you've been following the impending bankruptcy of America's iconic retailer, as covered by print, broadcast, and digital media, you've probably encountered lots of nostalgia, and sad clucking about how dinosaurs like Sears can't compete in the age of Amazon and specialty retail. But most of the coverage has failed to stress the deeper story. Namely, Sears is a prime example of how hedge funds and private-equity companies take over retailers, encumber them with debt in order to pay themselves massive windfall profits, and then leave the retailer without adequate operating capital to compete."

"Black People Care About Crime, But We Don't Need Police Propaganda: With Mass Shootings And Gun Violence Permeating The News, It's Clear We Need Public Safety Solutions. But More Cops Aren't The Answer. Everyone wants to live in a society free from crime, Black people included. We're just not usually able to comfortably express that without America treating it as an endorsement of our own criminalization and mass incarceration. When mention is made of the Black community's collective concern about crime, it is rarely to address our material needs or alleviate the causes of crime, but instead offered to dismiss calls for progressive reform in lieu of continuing to invest in 'tough on crime' initiatives."

"What is a 'Riot'? For weeks, I was puzzled by the radical disconnect between what was being reflected back to us by the national media -- and even our friends and relatives in distant parts of the country -- and what Portland residents like me, who live downtown, knew to be the truth. The national media were repeatedly saying Portlanders were 'rioting,' that the downtown was overrun by 'antifa and Marxist terrorists,' filled with burning buildings and looting . . . but we saw nothing of that, especially those of us who live closest to the epicenter. Nervous friends from out of town repeated that police are saying the activity in the streets are 'riots.' Nobody's rioting, we responded, and we're not afraid to go downtown. It finally dawned on me that the Portland Police Bureau's use of the term 'riot' was a technical matter -- a legal one -- which had very little to do with the phenomenon American citizens have been accustomed to seeing reported on the national news as riots."

In 2014, the late Robert Parry wrote about the coup in Ukraine and the bizarre way the media was covering it. He was no stranger to the way the press corp can twist the narrative, but he felt that something new and even more sinister had been added, an ingredient we have become used to seeing today. "Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass [...] But the U.S. press has played down his role because his neo-Nazism conflicts with Official Washington's narrative that the neo-Nazis played little or no role in the 'revolution.' References to neo-Nazis in the 'interim government' are dismissed as 'Russian propaganda.'"

For the record, almost everyone takes one look at me and thinks I'm Jewish. Sometimes this is really obvious (like that guy who went out of his way to show me the swastika tats on his knuckles), and sometimes it's a more subtle reservedness that only goes away when the listener somehow learns that my ethnicity is something else, but by and large, people just assume I'm Jewish. So I would tend to notice if there was a lot of antisemitism going on around me, and I will say for the record that on the few occasions I have met Ken Livingstone, or the many occasions on which I have socialized or worked with Ken-supporting Labourites and Corbyn-supporting Labourites, I never experienced any from them. And actual Jews who have spent considerably more time around Labour Party people say much the same: "Bindman has had an equally long history in the Labour Party, as a councillor, deputy leader of Camden council and chair of the Society of Labour Lawyers. He has acted for a number of leading figures in the party, although not Corbyn. 'I have had close involvement with the Labour Party for many years, and I can say that I've never really experienced antisemitism among fellow Labour Party members or in Labour meetings.' He is not alone in this judgement. The idea of any Jew being antisemitic is, in his words, 'pretty hard to swallow'. Bindman does not deny that antisemitism exists in the party, as it does everywhere, but he agrees with Corbyn's assessment in response to the EHCR report that the problem of antisemitism had been exaggerated - an assessment that got the MP expelled from the parliamentary Labour Party. 'He thought the problem had been exaggerated in the Labour Party. He did not say that antisemitism itself was not highly important, but he said there was not as much of it as had been suggested and he is absolutely right about that. 'You can look at all the statistics and studies that have been made. If you look at the facts you can't justify what Keir has said or done unless he's using it as a pretext. A political strategy. That's all I can say.'"

"Children's enjoyment of writing has fallen to 'crisis point', research finds: Only one in three UK children now enjoy writing in their free time – including text messages – with those on free school meals most likely to do so. [...] 'Every year since 2010, the National Literacy Trust has consistently found that children on free school meals are more likely to engage with writing in their free time than their better-off peers,' said the report. 'This trend has remained steady in the face of a global pandemic and an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis that has forced up the price of consumer goods and services at the fastest rate in four decades. This highlights the potential for writing for pleasure to play a vital role in the lives of disadvantaged children and young people.'"

"Idle rich baffled by poor people's distaste for dangerous, low-paying jobs: People who don't have to work have complained for centuries that other people don't like doing poorly paid, dangerous, dull work, the kind that makes the lives of the affluent comfortable and convenient. This collection of quotes, dating back to 1894, all say the same thing — "Nobody wants to work anymore" — as if there was a time when people relished shoveling shit for the upper class."

"So What Is a British Biscuit Really? And why does it need to 'snap'?" The origins of the British "biscuit" from a French term for what Americans call "hard-tack" seem almost mysterious, and help explain why they are equally mystified by what we call "cookies", "crackers", and "biscuits".

"Colin's Barn: Colin Stokes 'got a bit carried away' and built a castle that looks like something out of Tolkien. [...] The Hobbit House, also known as Colin's Barn, in Chedglow, England, has been abandoned since Stokes moved away in 2000 to avoid the noise of a forest marble quarry opening up nearby. He never finished his project, which he had started 1989 using rocks and stones from around his property, and concrete to hold them together." There are a few neat photos.

The Drifters, "On Broadway" (Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil)