27 November 2023

There'll be no sad tomorrow

As always, I am grateful to those of you who have stayed with The Sideshow, especially those who have helped out and try to engage. I know it's a shadow of it's former self, but I still feel a need to document the atrocities, and I'm really glad you're here with me.

Democrats did pretty well out of the first Tuesday in November, and it's pretty clear why: "Abortion Rights Power Democratic Wins in Kentucky and Virginia." Ohio voted abortion rights into the state constitution easily, Kentucky re-elected its Democratic governor by a wider margin than last time, and Glenn Younkin, who wasn't on the ballot but campaigned hard for voters to give him an anti-abortion legislature got slapped in the face by keeping Virginia's state Senate in Democratic hands and flipping the state House to them as well. (And Atrios: "Reporters and pundits are convinced that voters are with Republicans on abortion, but in these Ohio diners they aren't so sure." Atrios has been particularly happy about how the obviously-wrong pundits who declared Younkin the face of the future after he beat a pathetic Terry McAuliffe to the seat are being shown up, especially after Youngkin went all Culture Warrior against the transgender candidate, who won her race, too.)

"Media group calls for investigation into deaths of 34 journalists in Israel-Hamas war: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is calling for an investigation into the deaths of 34 journalists in the Israel-Hamas war. [...] The complaint also includes allegations citing 'the deliberate, total or partial, destruction of the premises of more than 50 media outlets in Gaza' since Israel declared war on Hamas following the militant group's deadly attacks on the country Oct. 7. This is the third complaint RSF has filed alleging war crimes against Palestinian journalists in Gaza since 2018, according to The Associated Press."

Doctorow, "Biden wants to ban ripoff 'financial advisors': Once, American workers had "defined benefits pensions," where their employers promised to pay them a certain amount every year from their retirement to their death. Jimmy Carter swapped that out for 401(k)s, "market" pensions where you have to guess which stocks will be valuable or starve in your old age. The initial 401(k) rollout had all kinds of pot-sweeteners that made them seem like a good deal, like heavy employer matching that doubled or even tripled the value of every dollar you put into the market for your retirement. But over the years, as Reaganomics took hold and workers' power ebbed away, all these goodies were clawed back. In the end, the market-based pension makes you the sucker at the poker table, flushing your savings into a rigged casino that is firmly tilted in favor of finance barons and other eminently guillotineable plutocrats."

Doctorow on the murder of Jezebel and the news in general, "'Brand safety' killed Jezebel [...] This aversion to reality has been present among corporate decisionmakers since the earliest days, but the consolidation of power among large firms – ad-tech firms, online platforms, and 'brands' themselves – makes corporate realityphobia much easier to turn into, well, reality, giving advertisers the fine-grained power to put Jezebel and every site like it out of business. As Koebler and Maiberg's headline so aptly puts it, 'Advertisers Don't Want Sites Like Jezebel to Exist.' The reason to deplore Nazis on Twitter is because they are Nazis, not because their content isn't brand-safe. The short-term wins progressives gain by legitimizing a corporate veto over what we see online are vastly overshadowed by the most important consequence of brand safety: the mass extinction of reality-based reporting. Reality isn't brand safe. If you're in the reality based community, brand safety should be your sworn enemy, even if they help you temporarily get a couple of Nazis kicked off Twitter."

"CFPB Orders Citi to Pay $25.9 Million for Intentional, Illegal Discrimination Against Armenian Americans: Citi hid discrimination by giving consumers false reasons for credit denials. [...] When Citi denied credit applications because of applicants' perceived Armenian national origin, Citi employees lied about the specific reasons for the adverse actions. At one point, a Citi employee explained it had been a while since they had denied an application because of a consumer's Armenian surname, and wanted a suggestion on how to cover up the discrimination. The response was to decline the credit card application due to suspected credit abuse, which essentially blamed the applicant for the denial."

"Michigan Law Would Be First to Automatically Register People to Vote As They Leave Prison: The legislature passed a bill last week that would expand automatic voter registration in a number of other ways, and likely add many new Michiganders to voter rolls." Michiganders are legally eligible to vote when they leave prison, but most of them don't even know. This new law would include notification that they are registered and that they can unregister if they want to.

"Israel's Ludicrous Propaganda Wins Over the Only Audience That Counts: Why make an effort to be credible if you're going to be uncritically echoed by the White House and Western press?" No one believes Israel's laughable propaganda anymore, because it's really that bad and even their own people end up having to admit it's not true. And yet, Joe Biden seems to fall for it every time.

"Biden Again Pretends To Be Powerless — This Time About Gaza: The White House is using major U.S. news outlets to pretend it can't rein in Israel — but the claims don't add up. [...] In a recent book on Biden, The Last Politician, writer Franklin Foer details how Biden put an end to Israel's bombing of Gaza in 2021 with one phone call. After Netanyahu 'struggled to justify his request [for more bombing] because he couldn't point to fresh targets that needed striking,' Biden said, according to Foer, 'Hey, man, we're out of runway here. It's over.' And then, Foer continued, 'like that, it was. By the time the call ended, Netanyahu reluctantly agreed to a cease-fire that the Egyptians would broker.'"

"Chains are using theft to mask other issues, report says: Retailers say theft is exploding, and some data from retailers along with numerous videos of violent store robberies and looting seem to support the claim. But some retail analysts and researchers, bolstered by local crime statistics, say stores may be over-stating the extent and impact of theft. Why? It's a useful deflection, camouflaging weak demand, mismanagement and other issues denting business right now. And it forces lawmakers to respond"

Why is it always Republicans? "Iowa official's wife convicted of 52 counts of voter fraud in ballot-stuffing scheme: SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — The wife of a northwestern Iowa county supervisor was convicted Tuesday of a scheme to stuff the ballot box in her husband's unsuccessful race for a Republican nomination to run for Congress in 2020."

"The Public Has a Right to Know Every Detail of Louis DeJoy's Destructive Agenda: In a time of historic distrust in government, the United States Postal Service has accomplished something extraordinary: it remains a universally beloved federal agency. Second only to the Parks Service in public favorability (a jaw-dropping 77% approval rating, per Gallup), USPS is arguably also the most frequently-interacted-with component of the federal government: packages and letters are delivered to Americans' mailboxes six days per week. But these warm feelings – already under threat by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's continued destructive leadership – could quickly chill if the Postal Board of Governors has its way."

"At Tesla, Swedish Workers Can Do What American Workers Can't: In support of striking mechanics, dockworkers there are no longer unloading Teslas. Such solidarity isn't legal here. [...] Tesla has no factories in Sweden, but it does employ around 120 mechanics to tune up and fix their cars. The union of such workers, IF Metall, has been trying for years to get Tesla to the bargaining table, as is the norm in Sweden, where roughly 90 percent of the workforce is represented by unions. The very idea is anathema, of course, to Elon Musk, who believes such matters at the company, and perhaps in the world at large, are best left to Elon Musk. After Musk responded with a flat No to recognize the union, the mechanics walked off the job on October 27 and remain on strike. What followed illustrates nicely what it means when a nation has solidaristic values reinforced by solidaristic laws. A few days into the strike, the union of Swedish dockworkers announced it would no longer unload Teslas at the nation's ports. (The Teslas sold in Sweden are shipped in from German and U.S. Tesla factories.) Then, the painters' union joined in and vowed that its members would no longer do paint jobs on any Teslas in need of a touch-up. Now, the Communications Employees vows not to make deliveries to Tesla's offices if Tesla doesn't recognize its mechanics union by November 20." Americans can't do that, thanks to Taft-Hartley.

"Take Trump Seriously When He Vows To Build The Camps: Trump is openly planning to build a vast network of internment facilities, while railing against 'internal threats' and calling his enemies 'vermin' and vowing to 'root them out.' The warning signs of fascism have never been more obvious or alarming."

"What's Causing Those Airline Close Calls? Reports of near-miss incidents at airports are growing more frequent—as the passenger experience itself becomes ever more unpleasant. Decades after deregulation, is the system at a breaking point?"

"41 Ways a Big Lie Continues to Haunt America's Public Schools: Forty years ago, Americans learned of A Nation at Risk, the troubling and mostly bogus report by the Reagan administration claiming public schools and teachers failed to produce students who were capable American workers. Berliner's and Biddle's The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America's Public Schools disproved the report, but it still haunts us today like a never-ending loop Americans can't jump off of. Here's how."

The Road to theocracy:
• "The Key to Mike Johnson's Christian Extremism Hangs Outside His Office: The newly elected House speaker has ties to the far-right New Apostolic Reformation — which is hell-bent on turning America into a religious state"
• "Mike Johnson, Polite Extremist: The new speaker of the House has deep ties to proponents of the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement that helped fuel the January 6th insurrection."
• "Cracks on the road to Christian Dominion: Is the shadowy "City Elders" group collapsing?: Oklahoma-based "City Elders" group talks big about political takeover. How much of that is smoke and mirrors?"

"How Larry Summers's Bad Predictions Hurt the Planet: The clean-energy transition is faltering because of unexpectedly high interest rates, which Summers's demands to slow down the economy helped usher in. It is definitely amusing to see Larry Summers flail away at recalibrating his opinions in real time. For years, in full public view, Summers insisted that high public spending was 'the least responsible economic policy in 40 years,' and that the only way to keep the economy safe from crushing inflation was to increase unemployment significantly. With last week's report on the Consumer Price Index, we have essentially returned to Federal Reserve benchmarks on inflation on a trend basis. And this was done without a meaningful rise in unemployment; while the headline rate has skipped up half a percentage point from 3.4 to 3.9 percent, most of that is due to higher labor force participation, and it's certainly nowhere near what Summers claimed was vital. As a result, Summers has attempted to erase history. He now says that 'transitory factors' like supply bottlenecks were pushing up inflation, and now that they have eased, inflation is coming down. I appreciate Summers's obvious study of the Prospect's special issue on supply chains, but this is manifestly not what he was saying as recently as a few months ago. His entire public commentary was set up in opposition to anyone who would raise the possibility of 'transitory factors' and supply chain crunches as the source of inflation."

Ian Welsh, "How To Reduce Inflation And Create A Good Economy: Right now we have central banks attempting to control inflation by crushing wages. But wage-push demand isn't the primary driver of inflation, it is corporate profit taking (increasing prices much faster than their costs) and some genuine supply bottlenecks. This cannot be fixed by central banks except by smashing ordinary people flat, and in certain senses not even then, since it will lead to long term maldistribution of resources which will lead to real economic problems in the future: problems not based on distribution or finance, but on lack of physical ability to create what we need. If we want to fix this we have to make it so that those who control economic decision making can only do well if the population as a whole does well. That means politicians who want to help the population (not 90% of European or American pols) and corporate leaders who need the population to do well."

In CJR, "Warped Front Pages: Researchers examine the self-serving fiction of 'objective' political news" — and find out that our Newspapers of Record still haven't learned that their bias is showing.

"Palestinian Freedom, Antisemitism Accusations, And Civil Rights Law [...] The logic, of course, is that Palestinian freedom in the land 'from the river to the sea' is fundamentally incompatible with sovereignty over that land by an Israeli state constitutively committed to being specifically and exclusively a Jewish state (as opposed to a binational one)."

"Why 'Liberal' Donors Love Giving Money to the Extreme Right: Many purportedly progressive plutocrats turn reactionary on Israel and labor. If Donald Trump wins back the presidency in 2024, his second term in office will be much more authoritarian than anything he was able to achieve in his first go-round. Yet some very wealthy donors who style themselves as progressives are helping to fund Trumpian schemes to remake the government along autocratic lines.

The Onion, "Concerning New Study Finds Nation's Poverty Growing Faster Than Officials Can Build Prisons "

Charlie Stross, "We're sorry we created the Torment Nexus [...] And rather than giving the usual cheerleader talk making predictions about technology and society, I'd like to explain why I—and other SF authors—are terrible guides to the future. Which wouldn't matter, except a whole bunch of billionaires are in the headlines right now because they pay too much attention to people like me. Because we invented the Torment Nexus as a cautionary tale and they took it at face value and decided to implement it for real." And their version of those ideas is weirder than anything you've imagined.

Rob Hansen's got a book out on how science fiction fans have impacted the real world, Beyond Fandom: Fans, Culture & Politics in the 20th Century

This year's Children in Need Doctor Who Special is about 5:08 long.

"All 214 Beatles Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best: We had to count them all." I disagreed strongly with some of his choices from the very first, but it's still some good writing and some interesting insights from someone who seems to know and love The Beatles.

The Beatles, "There's A Place"


  1. I'm back. I just needed the reminder. Bless you, bless you.

  2. I'm so glad you're still here. All the traditional blogs from way back when are gone, except for you and Eschaton.