30 June 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"


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks for the note about homelessness in LA; with all the sturm und drang, I didn't see it, and I'm glad I have.

    So far as Corey Robin is concerned, I gave up on him when he was saying that Trump was no threat. :-(

  3. That Jacobin piece on RFKjr is pretty weak tea. I can pretty much always discount the opinions of anyone who pushes the "zany position on vaccines" line as having done no real examination of Kennedy's arguments and support. This is not the work of someone who looks at science and knows how to interpret it. So what are we left with: RFKjr draws support from the right? Horrorshock. We wouldn't want anyone who has support from both sides of the aisle, those people are all deplorable, aren't they? Ended up kissing up to Israel? Sad, but a bit inevitable. Doesn't support single payer? Okay, I confess that at this point, I'm not sure I do anymore either. Given the appalling degree of capture of public health authorities in the US and worldwide, and the degree of authoritarian creep that has occurred in the name of public health, I don't feel very optimistic about putting more power over my healthcare in the hands of the Feds. I don't know what the right answer is, but it's not clear to me that the concentration of power and control at the federal level is anything like a good idea now.

    1. He also seems to think neo-Nazis are cool. Look here: https://www.mediamatters.org/diversity-discrimination/robert-f-kennedy-jr-and-his-group-are-fans-fringe-streamer-who-claimed

    2. The substance of which seems to be that Kennedy has appeared on the podcast of this guy and said something nice about him at the outset of the interview. Hardly tantamount to endorsing neonazism. This is absolutely of a piece with the mainstream media tactic that was also deployed against Sanders and many others: make the candidate look scary and extremist so you don't even consider listening to what he says or examining his views. Oooh! Lookie! He goes on Tucker Carlson and Joe Rogan! He must be an Evil Nazi Racist Fringe Lunatic. Better look away fast before you get infected and we have to deplatform you, too!

    3. In the first half of Friday's Majority Report, Sam Seder starts to interview David Dayen and has the tables turned on him when Dayen asks Sam whether he's ever talked on the show about his relationship with RFK, Jr. It's probably the most honest discussion of him you're likely to hear:

    4. (Reposted for edits)
      t's not even the most honest discussion of him I've heard this week. Admittedly, I have long since lost patience with Sam Seder and his shallow, wrongheaded ad hominem approach to disagreement, and in this segment his inability to actually spit out his words is deeply aggravating to me as a listener, but in terms of content he seems far more interested in speculations about Kennedy's motives, imputing mental imbalance or irrational stubbornness, than in any substantive engagement with the studies and data Kennedy cites. So even if we grant "honest," I wouldn't call it either *intellectually* honest or usefully informative. There's a lot of tacit disapproval and condemnation by implication but virtually no engagement with facts. We get a view of Sam's FEEWINGS, and personal impressions, which, absent support by arguments and data, aren't of much interest to me.

    5. Schlimmbesserung, goddammit. "It's not even..."