02 April 2023

And in your death's mask face there are no signs which can be seen

Senator Elizabeth Warren rakes Fed Chair Jerome Powell over the coals for ten pages: "The banks' executives – who took too many risks, and failed to protect their customers – are the primary agents responsible for their failure. But the greed and incompetence of these officials was allowed to happen under your watch. It was allowed to happen because of Congress and President Trump's weakening of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ('Dodd-Frank Act') that you supported.2 It was allowed to happen because of regulatory rollbacks that you initiated.3 And it was allowed to happen because of supervisory failures by officials that worked for you.4 This is an astonishing list of failures and you owe the public an explanation for your actions."

"A Big Miss on Drug Prices: Today on Tap: President Biden's NIH rejects a petition to seize the patent of an unaffordable prescription drug." The saving grace of the Bayh-Dole act — in theory — was supposed to be that if the drug companies failed to make drugs that had been developed with federal funding reasonably accessible to the public, the government could take back the patents so that they could be made accessible. But that clause has never been used, and apparently the administration doesn't think a price tag of $188,900 for a drug to treat a cancer that most men will get if they live long enough is out of their reach.

Is Joe Biden going to appoint a corrupt judge? "A few years ago, we uncovered that Landrum was running a modern day debtors' prison when she was a local judge. She was separating families from their children and parents, and jailing people in brutal conditions as a way of extorting cash payments. Landrum and other judges were illegally jailing poor people in NOLA if they couldn't pay court debts. They even created a 'Collections Department' inside the court to illegally collect debts! When our clients couldn't pay, they were caged. We sued them all. It gets worse. Judge Landrum and other judges took a cut of the profits to run their courts, creating an unconstitutional financial conflict of interest that destroyed whatever 'neutrality' they were supposed to have as judges. It gets worse." And that was only after she'd had a career demonstrating that she never should have reached the bench.

"Bernie Sanders's Interrogation of Howard Schultz Made Democrats Pick a Side: Bernie Sanders's grilling of Starbucks's union-busting billionaire Howard Schultz put a CEO in the hot seat on a national stage. It also forced Senate Democrats who might rather stay on the Democratic donor's good side to denounce his flagrantly illegal behavior."

The well-to-do are ready to hollow out the rest of the country. "The American Elite Are Planning Their Escape — And It Starts With Paying For Passports: Hundreds of Americans are willing to fork over six figures for citizenship in nations where they may have never set foot (just in case). [...] Henley & Partners, the world's premier passport brokering company, said that in 2022, more Americans inquired about citizenship by investment — programs that allow people to pay for citizenship instead of gaining it by demonstrating their ties to a country — than in any previous year. Americans were also the leading nationality for submitting applications. 'Americans for the first time ever are becoming the number-one investors in these programs,' said Ezzedeen Soleiman, a managing partner at Latitude, a competitor to Henley & Partners. The world's citizenship-by-investment programs receive about 20,000 applications annually, but until recently, comparatively few applicants were American. The vast majority come from countries where there are limited job opportunities or a limited ability to travel without a visa — China, Russia, India, the Middle East and other parts of the Global South. U.S. passports, by contrast, can open almost any door." Naturally, these passports cost a bundle.

"Anti-Palestinian Hate On Social Media Is Growing, Says A Facebook Partner: Social media users in Israel are increasingly using platforms like Facebook and Instagram to launch hate speech at Palestinians." I've been running into some of this and it's clearly an orchestrated campaign. They have all their talking points and it's as adamant and unflinching as if it were organized by David Brock.

"Kansas City Police targeted minority neighborhoods to meet illegal ticket quotas, lawsuit says [...] Kansas City Police leaders allegedly ordered officers to target minority neighborhoods to meet ticket quotas — telling them to be 'ready to kill everybody in the car' — and to only respond to calls for help in white neighborhoods. Edward Williams, a 44-year-old white KCPD officer and 21-year veteran of the force, filed a discrimination lawsuit in Jackson County Court this week including those and other allegations. Williams said he's faced retaliation because he's been a whistleblower, is disabled and is over 40. Williams's suit said that contrary to Missouri law, KCPD 'continuously and repeatedly' told officers that if they didn't meet their ticket quotas they would be kicked out of the traffic unit and sent to 'dogwatch,' an unpopular overnight shift typically worked by those with low seniority."

John Ganz, "How Start?: One question that should be asked about any war: 'What did all those people die for?' The answer should come back simple and clear: 'They died to free the slaves,' or 'they died to rid Europe of fascism,' or 'they died defending their homes, or 'they died freeing their country from an invading occupier.' As the event recedes into the past, this reason should become more, not less, clear. What was perhaps ambiguous or complex to the actors in the moment should appear increasingly self-evident. But if the answer to that question comes back convoluted and equivocal, full of vague hopes, reasons of state, or stratagems about international relations, one can be pretty sure that war was fought for a bad reason or, even worse perhaps, no reason at all." The Bush administration never asked themselves whether war was necessary, but only how to get it started.

Jon Schwarz, "The Atlantic Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Iraq War With Lavish Falsehoods About Iraq War: THE U.S. MEDIA has recently been filled with retrospectives on the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War. Most of these outlets eagerly helped the George W. Bush administration sell the war, publishing lavish falsehoods about how Iraq posed a terrible danger to the U.S. (It did not.) So you might hope that in the past two decades, the same publications have learned the most basic facts about Iraq — and would steer clear of publishing obvious and stupendous errors yet again. You would hope in vain."

What happened in 2022? "Six Recent Studies Show an Unexpected Increase in Classical Music Listening" Something has changed in the last 12-18 months, especially among younger listeners—but why? Last year, I went viral with an article about the rising popularity of old music. But I focused on old rock songs. Many of these songs are 40 or 50 years old. And in the world of pop culture, that's like ancient history. But if you really want old music, you can dig back 200 or 300 years—or even more, if you want. But does anybody really do that?" Apparently, yes. A lot.

Despite the fact that everyone already knew it, it appears The New York Times has finally acknowledged that The October Surprise actually happened. Note I am linking to Robert Parry's story from 2014 in Consortium News rather than the NYT's recent story, because they just treated anyone who already acknowledged it as crackpots for decades, whereas Robert Parry created this vital website precisely because pursuing the story got him pretty much blacklisted from establishment media. I wish he could have lived to see it, but we lost him in 2018, to my chagrin. Consortium News is his legacy.

"The Republican Plan to Make Voting Irrelevant: The news brought to mind McConnell's exceptional instincts as a political calculator, and in particular his past cynical and perhaps prescient deliberations concerning his own health. In 2020, amid reports that McConnell had visited Johns Hopkins in Baltimore after concerning photos were published showing intense bruising on one of his hands, the Kentucky Republican began a campaign to pressure the GOP-controlled Kentucky Legislature to change that state's law to remove from the governor—who is a Democrat—the authority to select a candidate to fill the unexpired term of a departing U.S. senator. The ability of the governor to appoint a nominee to fill the unexpired term of a senator without restrictions is the law in 35 states. But McConnell urged, and the Kentucky Legislature took the step of changing that state's law—overriding the veto of the governor to do so—in a way that assured that Republicans would maintain control of McConnell's seat should it become vacant. This effort—to remove powers from elected representatives who are Democrats—has become the new method of disenfranchising voters and maintaining perpetual Republican political power." Now, remember, in this heavily gerrymandered state, it's already easy to put Republicans in control of the legislature, but the governorship is a state-wide office and that Democratic governor was elected by the majority, so this is severely anti-democratic as well as anti-Democratic. And this is just one example in a long list of ways Republicans are removing power from anyone who doesn't share their goals, so keep reading.

"Texas GOP Proposes Bill To Allow Sec Of State To Overturn Election Results In State's Largest Blue County: Republican members of the Texas state legislature introduced a slate of bills Thursday designed to subvert election processes and curb voting rights in the state. One of them would even allow the Texas Secretary of State to overturn election results in the state's largest Democratic-leaning county, with very little rationale for doing so. On Thursday, Republican state senators introduced Senate Bill 1993, a bill targeting Harris County, a diverse region that includes Houston and is also the most populous county in Texas, to a Senate committee for debate. SB 1993 would grant Secretary of State Jane Nelson (R) the authority to order a new election in Harris County 'if the secretary has good cause to believe that at least two percent of the total number of polling places in the county did not receive supplemental ballots,' according to the bill text. Secretary Nelson would have the same authority granted to a district court. The bill would 'allow really low thresholds' for ordering a new election, Katya Ehresman, the voting rights program manager at Common Cause Texas, told TPM. 'Anything from a machine malfunction, which can necessarily be the fault of the county or of an election administrator getting stuck in traffic—which in Houston is incredibly likely—and having a delay in providing election results to the central count station,' she said. " Which is pretty interesting since the Secretary of State is the person responsible for making sure elections are efficiently-run in the first place. Hm. "The bill was introduced alongside over a dozen other bills seeking to restrict voter access and overhaul the state's elections process. Senate Bill 260, for example, would allow the secretary to suspend election administrators without cause, and Senate Bill 1070 would enable Texas to withdraw from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a bipartisan program that maintains voter rolls across state lines that has recently been targeted by far-right propaganda. State Republicans quietly introduced the bills in the State Affairs Committee on Thursday morning—without giving the mandatory 48-hour notice. 'Every part of today's hearing highlights the subversive attacks on elections in Texas,' Ehresman said, 'and (SB) 1993 is a part of that.'"

Good piece by Froomkin, "Departing Washington Post editor's comment on listening to staff is everything that's wrong with the current generation of newsroom leaders: Marty Baron, who stepped down as Washington Post editor this week, has been hailed as a hero by journalists at his and other elite media organizations — showered with adulatory news stories and softball interviews. But one exchange in a Vanity Fair interview perfectly demonstrates why his departure is welcome, and overdue. At issue was what Baron had learned from confronting the powerful criticisms being raised by some staffers about hiring, coverage, and newsroom conventions that, as former Post reporter Wesley Lowery once put it, unquestioningly reflect the 'views and inclinations of whiteness.' Baron's response was clueless, condescending, and dismissive. It showed that he was only interested in performative listening – as appearing to have listened – rather than in listening itself. It showed how he considered staffers who challenged him as ignorant supplicants asking him to toss away core journalistic principles 'because of the sentiments of the moment,' which of course he would never do — rather than as peers who want the Post to actually live up to those principles."

"Save KPFK and Pacifica Radio: A hostile takeover attempt is aiming to destroy KPFK, on air since 1959. Pacifica Radio, America's largest non-commercial progressive radio broadcaster, is facing a hostile takeover that threatens the existence of the Los Angeles station KPFK 90.7 FM and the entire network. Pacifica's National Board (PNB) was infiltrated by a politically motivated group and as a result has canceled mandatory elections, extended their own term limits, suspended multiple members of KPFK, and put the Los Angeles building up for sale — all without approval of their listener-members. The only thing that stands in the way of KPFK's imminent destruction is the Los Angeles local station board, which is fighting a bitter legal battle to save their station — and thereby the largest progressive media outlet in the US. [...] For years, the intelligence community has sought to infiltrate Pacifica to bend it to its will. As all other TV and radio networks have been muzzled and moved increasingly toward uncritical middle-of-the-road infotainment, Pacifica has fought to stand its ground. The network functions with over 95% of its staff working for free, and its revenue amounts to about $11 million a year. Hundreds of people nationwide volunteer, all in the name of free speech and independence from censorship and corporate control. Republicans have always considered Pacifica as 'far too left.' To the corporate Democrats who hate criticism from the Left, Pacifica has long been a painful thorn in their side. The Berkeley-based advocacy group 'New Day,' with a large influx of Silicon Valley and Hollywood money, have made it their mission to either privatize the network, to turn it into a censored NPR, or to destroy it. In the past few years alone, New Day has been the cause of two failed Bylaw referendums and six lawsuits, costing the network over $400,000 in legal fees.

"Police in England and Wales 'evading public scrutiny' by deleting misconduct outcomes from websites: Observer investigation finds case of Met officer and serial rapist David Carrick among dozens removed from police websites. [...] An analysis of misconduct trials at 43 forces found the vast majority were either failing to publicise cases, despite a legal obligation to do so, or deleting misconduct cases from their websites after 28 days. Misconduct hearings can relate to any reason an officer is fired from the job including cases related to sexual offences or domestic violence."

You don't have to watch the video since there's a transcription beneath it, but you do have to marvel at Sarah Huckabee Sanders' idea of an inspirational speech to young people.

"You've Probably Already Heard, But Monk Is Coming Back [...] Yes, a Monk movie! It is to be called Mr. Monk's Last Case: A Monk Movie and written by original series creator Andy Breckman. The release date is currently unknown, which is a blessing… and a curse."

RIP: "Lance Reddick, star of The Wire and John Wick, dies aged 60: The actor whose credits also include sci-fi series Fringe and action thriller White House Down has died of natural causes. [...] Wendell Pierce, Reddick's co-star in the show paid tribute to him on Twitter. 'A man of great strength and grace,' he wrote. 'As talented a musician as he was an actor. The epitome of class. A sudden unexpected sharp painful grief for our artistic family. An unimaginable suffering for his personal family and loved ones. Godspeed my friend. You made your mark here. RIP'" Well, damn, I really enjoyed that guy on screen a lot and this is a shock. He seemed to be in prime shape, too, so no one was ready for it. TMZ's obit has some good videos up, including one from just a few days before he died, and some good clips of him as Charon.

RIP: "Keith Reid, lyricist for Procol Harum, dies aged 76," of cancer. What can I say? I loved this band, I loved their music, I loved his lyrics. And I loved to hear Gary Brooker sing them, and now they're both gone. "Shine On Brightly."

"The Government Does a Bad Job Assessing Toxic Exposures: The history of the captured federal agencies that reassure the public after chemical disasters should give East Palestine residents pause." Once everything got privatized, the war on science sped up because public health costs companies money.

"How the Capitol Police enabled the Jan. 6 attack: A story no one wants to touch: Was it cowardice, blindness, white privilege — or something worse? The House Jan. 6 committee didn't want to know. The news media's continuing failure to explore why the U.S. Capitol was so scantily defended against an angry horde of white Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021, has now been compounded by the House select committee's refusal to connect the most obvious dots or ask the most vital questions. It's true that there were countless law enforcement failures that day — indeed, far too many to be a coincidence. But the singular point of failure — the one thing that could have prevented all of it from happening — was that Capitol Police leaders brushed off ample warnings that an armed mob was headed their way."

"Gideon v. Wainwright Was a Landmark Decision, But Women Invented the Idea of the Public Defender: In this op-ed, a former public defender recognizes the crucial role women played in creating the role of the public defender. [...] But March is also Women's History Month, and as a woman defender, every time Gideon's Day rolls around, my mind turns to our own forgotten history. When we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Gideon ruling this year — recognizing the right to counsel as having been conferred by Gideon's brave persistence and Justice Hugo Black's insight and resolve — we are erasing a far longer and richer legacy: the history of the women who invented the idea of the public defender.

"Why the Mental Health of Liberal Girls Sank First and Fastest: In May 2014, Greg Lukianoff invited me to lunch to talk about something he was seeing on college campuses that disturbed him. Greg is the president of FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression), and he has worked tirelessly since 2001 to defend the free speech rights of college students. That almost always meant pushing back against administrators who didn't want students to cause trouble, and who justified their suppression of speech with appeals to the emotional 'safety' of students—appeals that the students themselves didn't buy. But in late 2013, Greg began to encounter new cases in which students were pushing to ban speakers, punish people for ordinary speech, or implement policies that would chill free speech. These students arrived on campus in the fall of 2013 already accepting the idea that books, words, and ideas could hurt them. Why did so many students in 2013 believe this, when there was little sign of such beliefs in 2011?"

"Why Kids Aren't Falling in Love With Reading: Hint: It's not just the screens. The ubiquity and allure of screens surely play a large part in this—most American children have smartphones by the age of 11—as does learning loss during the pandemic. But this isn't the whole story. A survey just before the pandemic by the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that the percentages of 9- and 13-year-olds who said they read daily for fun had dropped by double digits since 1984. I recently spoke with educators and librarians about this trend, and they gave many explanations, but one of the most compelling—and depressing—is rooted in how our education system teaches kids to relate to books."

"The Economy Could Not Exist Without Government: The Silicon Valley Bank collapse exposes a reality that rich people would prefer to ignore. [...] It was darkly amusing to see Silicon Valley's self-anointed masters of capitalism and apostles of libertarianism screaming for no-strings-attached government help after their own bank fell victim to a run sparked by venture capitalists themselves—particularly given that, as my colleague David Dayen writes, SVB itself was a major lobbying force behind the 2018 bank deregulation that allowed it to engage in more risky business. Less amusing were the all-caps tweets from prominent venture capitalists claiming that all regional banks would soon fail, in a clear attempt to spark a broader panic that would camouflage their desired bailout."

"The Message of the Republican Party: Don't Tread on Me. I Tread on You." It's not hypocrisy, because, "When Republicans talk about valuing 'freedom', they're speaking of it in the sense that only people like them should ultimately possess it."

Radley Balko, "Reader mailbag: Bias in journalism, criminal justice in pop culture, and how my own politics have changed" — I offer this one mainly for his discussion of cop shows.

An American-style Wild West town hides in an alley in Edinburgh.

This year's Red Nose Day had a ten-minute "special" from Ghosts with a guest spot from Kylie. It was kinda cute.

Read Pamela Sargent's classic short story "If Ever I Should Leave You" — after first reading a little history of how she got Women of Wonder published.

Procul Harum, "Conquistador"

1 comment:

  1. These guy might be a small part of the reason kids are listening to classical music.