Sunday, May 20, 2018

Some say it's a sign of weakness

The Hill, "Court orders Iran to pay billions to 9/11 victims and families: A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Iran to pay billions of dollars in damages to the families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks." It's unlikely they will actually pay it, but the very idea that Iran should have to pay for an attack by Saudi Arabians is pretty appalling.

"Call Congress's 'Blue Lives Matter' Bills What They Are: Another Attack On Black Lives: ON WEDNESDAY, THE House of Representatives passed the Protect and Serve Act of 2018 by a vote of 382 to 35. The act — a congressional 'Blue Lives Matter' bill — would make it a federal crime to assault a police officer. The Senate version of the bill, which also has broad bipartisan support, goes even further, framing an attack on an officer as a federal hate crime. The bills exemplify the very worst sort of legislation: at once unnecessary and pernicious. [...] A number of commentators have stressed the superfluousness of making police attacks a federal crime. There's not a state in the country that doesn't already treat assaulting or killing an officer with the heaviest of penalties. With the laws that are already on the books at the state level, it's already a safe assumption today that any convicted cop killer will be sentenced to life without parole." 162 Democrats voted for this piece of garbage. Out of 193.

Jonathan Cohn, "House Republicans, with Some Democratic Help, Vote in Favor of Discrimination and Deregulation in Latest Attacks on Federal Watchdogs: This week, the Republican House of Representatives continued to work on one of their favorite lobbies: gutting financial regulation. On Tuesday, the House voted to repeal a 2013 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) guidance that laid out steps indirect auto lenders should take to ensure that they are operating in compliance with the fair credits laws as applied to dealer markup and compensation policies. In other words, the CPFB wanted to help curb discrimination against consumers on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, and age, all prohibited by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). Racial discrimination in auto lending is a well-documented phenomenon. The vote was 234 to 175, with Vern Buchanan (FL-16) voting present. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (IL-27) was the only Republican to vote against the repeal. 11 Democrats joined the GOP: Jim Cooper (TN-05), Lou Correa (CA-46), Jim Costa (CA-16), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), Gene Green (TX-29), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), David Scott (GA-13), and Filemon Vela (TX-34)."

Socialist-Backed Candidates Sweep Pennsylvania State House Primaries: Four Pennsylvania state House candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) won their Democratic primaries, marking another milestone in the radical left's march into electoral politics. The wins by the four candidates — all women unseating men — were the product of a variety of political forces and groups. But in a country where 'socialist' remains an epithet in certain quarters, the growing electoral success of a once-marginal socialist organization is an especially notable political development." There are also two Berniecrats from Nebraska who won primaries for seats in the US House, and in state legislatures, ten in PA, one in Nebraska, two in Oregon and two in Idaho.
* The story in In These Times, "Socialists and Progressives Just Trounced the Democratic Establishment: On Tuesday, insurgent challengers beat out their opponents in races across the country by running on bold left platforms."

David Dayen, "Bill Aimed At Saving Community Banks Is Already Killing Them: AFTER INITIAL RELUCTANCE, House Republicans have finally reached an agreement to move forward on a bipartisan bank deregulation bill that the Senate passed in March. Its stated aim — to help rural community banks thrive against growing Wall Street power — appears to have been enough to power it across the finish line. But banking industry analysts say the bill is already having the opposite effect, and its loosening of regulations on medium-sized banks is encouraging a rush of consolidation — all of which ends with an increasing number of community banks being swallowed up and closed down."

Dday talked to Sam Seder about Primary Results & the Fallout of the Dodd Frank Rollback (among other things) on The Majority Report.

Symbolic victory in The Hill, "Senate votes to save net neutrality rules: The Senate on Wednesday voted to reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules, passing a bill that has little chance of advancing in the House but offers net neutrality supporters and Democrats a political rallying point for the midterm elections. Democrats were able to force Wednesday's vote using an obscure legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA). CRA bills allow Congress, with a majority vote in each chamber and the president's signature, to overturn recent agency moves."

"Police Realizing That SESTA/FOSTA Made Their Jobs Harder; Sex Traffickers Realizing It's Made Their Job Easier: For many months in the discussion over FOSTA/SESTA, some of us tried to explain how problematic the bills were. Much of the focus of those discussions were about the negative impact it would have on free speech on the internet, as the way the bill was drafted would encourage greater censorship and more speech-chilling lawsuits. But as we heard from more and more people, we also realized just how incredibly damaging the bill was going to be to those it was ostensibly designed to protect. Beyond the fact that it was passed based on completely fictional claims about the size of the problem, those who actually were victims of sex trafficking began explaining -- in fairly stark terms -- how SESTA/FOSTA would put them in greater danger and almost certainly lead to deaths." And they were right.

Matt Stoller notes that the new FTC Commissioner is sounding like the real deal.
"1. I mentioned this last night, but this memo by new FTC Commissioner @chopraftc is really worth reading. It is a bad-ass and extremely important statement on corporate crime and has significant implications for Facebook.
"2. First, some context. This memo is about recidivism, or committing a crime again once you've been caught. In 2011, Facebook was caught in 2011 engaging in 'unfair and deceptive' practices, and the FTC stated the company 'violated federal law.' Today's scandal is a repeat crime.
"3. 'FTC orders are not suggestions.' [] That's how law enforcer Chopra says it. And he footnotes that showing that the cost can be $41,484 per violation. Facebook has 87 million violations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. This is a company killer.
"4. @chopraftc comes close to saying Zuckerberg should be fired and Facebook broken up. Violations of consent decrees should result in firing 'senior management and board directors," "outright bans on adjacent business practices, and closure of appropriate business lines.'
"5. What shows @chopraftc is serious and bipartisan about this is that he critiques Obama's failed law enforcement regime. He goes after the failure to do anything about HSBC for money laundering, and Wells Fargo for fraud. This is a defense of the rule of law.
"6. Now, here's why this matters. The FTC almost always has unanimous enforcement opinions, which gives individual commissioners sway to shape them. This is not a random shot across the bow, it's a signal to FTC staff to really propose aggressive remedies for Facebook violations."
Matt says it's worth looking at the memo yourself. ProPublica's article is here.

* * * * *

Jeremy Scahill is exactly right, Haspel belongs in jail and Obama should have put her there, but thanks to him, she now looks set to be head of the CIA. Here he is on Democracy NOW!, saying, "Obama Paved Way for Haspel to Head CIA by Failing to Hold Torturers Accountable [...] And, you know, Amy, the CIA is generally prohibited from engaging in operations inside of the United States, and also prohibited from engaging in propaganda aimed at the American people. And yet, to me, this whole Gina Haspel nomination really seems like a CIA operation itself. You know, the CIA, throughout history, from its origins — and this was the case with its predecessor, the OSS — has had a mastery of coups and interventions and interfering in affairs of other nations and waging propaganda battles. Gina Haspel, when she was nominated for the CIA, was the recipient of an enormous amount of support from the CIA's social media accounts, Twitter and others. And it was a propaganda campaign that was aimed at all of us, at the American people. It was aimed at lawmakers, it was aimed at journalists, where they sort of tweeted a — and they did it over and over and over, and they even did it once Haspel was technically in charge of the CIA, where they're giving her biography, making her sound like some combination of like Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, with Jack Bauer. I mean, it was really kind of incredible."

And here is Scahill on Intercepted, "Just Following Orders: Donald Trump loves Gina Haspel, particularly because of her role in torture." (Also an interview with Matt Taibbi on "Trump, Russia, Putin, Stormy Daniels, and the Liberal Embrace of Authoritarianism," and "Reporter Sarah Jaffe on the Teachers Strikes Across the U.S., the Fight For Unions, and the Rebellion of Low Wage Workers." Good stuff, transcripts included.)

* * * * *

"Sanders Institute Launches Voter Registration Initiative: In November 2016, there were more than 224 million citizens over the age of 18 in the United States, yet only around 157 million were registered to vote. Even fewer actually voted."

The headline says it all: "Oliver North leaving Fox News to become next NRA president" — Yes. this Oliver North.

"There are some prisoners who have served their sentences but who refuse to leave this prison facility." Again, the headline says it all.

"Black activist jailed for his Facebook posts speaks out about secret FBI surveillance: Rakem Balogun spoke out against police brutality. Now he is believed to be the first prosecuted under a secretive US effort to track so-called 'black identity extremists' [...] Investigators began monitoring Balogun, whose legal name is Christopher Daniels, after he participated in an Austin, Texas, rally in March 2015 protesting against law enforcement, special agent Aaron Keighley testified in court. The FBI, Keighley said, learned of the protest from a video on Infowars, a far-right site run by the commentator Alex Jones, known for spreading false news and conspiracy theories. The reference to Infowars stunned Balogun: 'They're using a conspiracy theorist video as a reason to justify their tyranny? That is a big insult.'"

"How To Organize A Prison Strike: Organizers inside and outside of the penitentiary walls are teaming up — and getting creative — to fight for reform."

"There's No Good Excuse For The Racist Impact Of Michigan's Medicaid Proposal: The plan's architects say they didn't mean to disadvantage black cities, but they had easy ways not to. Michigan Republicans are pushing a new, Donald Trump-inspired bill that would require Medicaid recipients in the state's mostly black cities to work to keep their health benefits, but exempt some of the state's rural white residents from the same requirement.

David Dayen on "The Downfall of a Grifter: I was part of a small subset of people who were infuriated by Eric Schneiderman before Monday night. So welcome to the rest of the nation for catching up. I had no idea he was a notorious alcoholic and abuser of women until the New Yorker profile. But I did witness his tendency to be a con artist, with his public persona not matching up with the private actions. Zach Carter tells this story very well so I don't have to, and the rest of it is in my book. The short version is that the guy came in making a lot of promises on taking down the banks and then sold out so he could get a good seat at the State of the Union. He wanted the glory without doing the work. In a real sense he didn't know how to do the work - the big lawsuit he filed against JPMorgan Chase right before the 2012 elections, entirely to show a pose of "getting tough" on Wall Street, was ripped off from a staffer and could have been filed years earlier. As co-chair of the vaunted "task force" on bank fraud, he never issued a single criminal subpoena."

Also from Dday, "American Telephone and Telegraft: [...] AT&T's lead lobbyist has now been encouraged to take an early retirement, and the CEO is "very sorry" any of us found out about the Cohen payment. But their real failure lies in not working the influence industry the right and honorable way. Like LiveNation did when they had Rahm Emanuel's brother on their board when they purchased Ticketmaster. Or the way American Airlines used Rahm and a bunch of other Democratic cronies to move through the USAirways merger. AT&T doesn't deserve Time Warner until they can prove they can bribe officials responsibly and effectively. That's how the game is played, Politico Playbook (sponsored by Goldman Sachs) wants you to know, and really you're very silly for thinking it outrageous. It's a cesspool but it's our cesspool."

"How Walmart is Helping Prosecutors Pursue 10-Year Sentences for Shoplifting [...] In Tennessee, as in many states, shoplifting items under $1,000 is a misdemeanor. But, in the past few years, the Knox County district attorney's office has been prosecuting people like Lawson under the burglary statute, which under Tennessee law is defined as 'unlawfully and knowingly entering a building without the consent of the owner and committing a theft.'"

David Menschel (@davidminpdx) tweeted "In NYC, police arrest black people for marijuana at 8x the rate of white people. NYPD say this is because they get more complaint calls about marijuana in black neighborhoods, but NYT found that that was false." The story, in The New York Times, "Race Remains a Key Factor in Marijuana Arrests, Analysis shows."

"Colorado bans solitary confinement for longer than 15 days: DENVER — Inmates in state prisons can't be held in solitary confinement for more than 15 days, the Colorado Department of Corrections announced on Thursday in the latest effort to overhaul a practice criticized as 'torture' by the agency's chief. The changes also require that inmates who are held in solitary confinement at the discretion of prison officials get at least four hours per day outside a cell for recreation or group classes."

But "Denver says its top cops are now exempt from independent monitor's oversight. Here's who disagrees. The city administration has told its police oversight agency to stay way from internal investigations of the police chief and sheriff, and the decision is raising eyebrows around Denver."

Jon Schwarz, "New Bipartisan Bill Could Give Any President The Power To Imprison U.S. Citizens In Military Detention Forever [...] But now, incredibly enough, a bipartisan group of six lawmakers, led by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., is proposing a new AUMF that would greatly expand who the president can place in indefinite military detention, all in the name of restricting presidential power. If the Corker-Kaine bill becomes law as currently written, any president, including Donald Trump, could plausibly claim extraordinarily broad power to order the military to imprison any U.S. citizen, captured in America or not, and hold them without charges essentially forever."

* * * * *

Julian Assange may be a jackass, but he's also the face of the real free press, and the neocons and neoliberals all hate him and want him permanently silenced. At the moment, his former protector, the state of Ecuador, seems to be hinting that it may hand him over to Britain and the US.

On March 28, under immense pressure from the governments in the US, Britain and other powers, Ecuador imposed a complete ban on Assange having any Internet or phone contact with the outside world, and blocked his friends and supporters from physically visiting him. For 45 days, he has not been heard from. Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa stated in a Spanish-language interview on Wednesday that her government and Britain 'have the intention and the interest that this be resolved.' Moves were underway, she said, to reach a 'definite agreement' on Assange.
If the United States government gets its hands on Assange, they might torture and even kill him, but it's fairly certain they will try to make sure he never has access to the press again. I know there are those who think Trump would like to reward Assange for helping him out in the election, but Trump doesn't actually reward loyalty or pay his debts, so that seems like a fantasy to me. And I sincerely doubt that, even if Trump decided to pardon Assange just to piss off the Clintonites, the right-wing authoritarians he surrounds himself with would let any such document land on his desk. (We know Trump can't write it himself, which is the only way I can imagine him slipping that one by them.)

* * * * *

"How Did Benghazi Become a Ruin? NYT Ignores US Role — in Multiple Media: New York Times Cairo bureau chief Declan Walsh went to Benghazi, Libya, which is in ruins, to find out how it got that way. 'When I went to Benghazi, I was guided by one main question: How did the city come to this?' he declares in his multimedia presentation, which combines text, audio, video and large-format photography. One thing that's not conveyed via any medium, though: Seven years ago, the United States and its allies used military force to overthrow Libya's government. The country has been in almost continual civil war since then, which you would think would be crucial in explaining 'how the city came to that.' But apparently you don't think like a New York Times bureau chief. The thing is, when President Barack Obama — egged on by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — called for an attack on Libya, the justification they offered was that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi would otherwise destroy Benghazi. So the fact that military intervention actually turned out to lead to the destruction of Benghazi seems like something you might want to tell Times readers, or Times consumers of multimedia, anyway."

Matt Stoller, "Bigger Corporations Are Making You Poorer: A wave of new research shows how as corporations get bigger, the share of money out there going to actual workers declines." (Matt also did a good thread full of interesting links that is unrolled here.)

"Soul Snatchers: How the NYPD's 42nd Precinct, the Bronx DA's Office, and the City of New York Conspired to Destroy Black and Brown Lives (Part 1) [...] 'Stop and frisk has been banned, but police in the 42nd precinct are actually doing something far worse. They are setting quotas and goals for the number of people each officer must arrest. If you don't meet or exceed the quotas, you feel the wrath of your supervisors. Instead of rejecting the quotas, some officers are embracing them and rounding up people, particularly teenage children, for crimes they know good and well they didn't commit — locking them away sometimes for days, weeks, months, or even years at a time — then simply dismissing the charges. This isn't just a few rogue cops, but an entire precinct is doing this and they are partnering with the Bronx District Attorney's Office to make it happen. With threats, and even brute force, kids are being coerced to identify and testify against people they don't even know. Officers are terrorizing families, snatching kids out of their beds, not a few times, but dozens of times per child, sometimes arresting them on false charges, sending them to Rikers, then releasing them months later. Cops think they can do anything they want and it appears they can. Pedro is being framed. They tried to frame him over and over again before this case. And other kids are being framed too. And the kids and families who've been victimized by this scandal are hollow shells of their former selves. The Police Commissioner, the Comptroller, and the Mayor all know about this and are doing nothing.'"

Eric Levitz in New York Magazine, "Democrats Paid a Huge Price for Letting Unions Die: The GOP understands how important labor unions are to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, historically, has not. If you want a two-sentence explanation for why the Midwest is turning red (and thus, why Donald Trump is president), you could do worse than that. [...] With its financial contributions and grassroots organizing, the labor movement helped give Democrats full control of the federal government three times in the last four decades. And all three of those times — under Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — Democrats failed to pass labor law reforms that would to bolster the union cause. In hindsight, it's clear that the Democratic Party didn't merely betray organized labor with these failures, but also, itself." I think this article is too generous to Democrats, since they have also spent part of that time actively undermining unions.

Nathan Newman, "NY Real Estate Lobbies Protect Trump Corruption- and GOP Control of State Senate w Help of Cuomo-IDC Dems: We need to break the power of corrupt NY real estate — then expose Trump money laundering, stop obscenely low luxury property taxes & end GOP control of NY Senate."

Rachel M. Cohen at The Intercept: "Democrats In A New York County Refuse To Pledge Loyalty To Candidates Just Because Party Endorses Them: A COUNTY DEMOCRATIC committee in New York voted down an extreme proposal on Tuesday night that would have required all members to pledge loyalty to candidates endorsed by the state, local, or national party. Progressives on the committee in Chemung County, on the Pennsylvania border, viewed the proposed loyalty pledge as an attempt by establishment Democrats to silence their dissent; they spent the week leading up to the meeting organizing opposition from members of the 20-person committee. At the meeting, the committee voted down the oath in its current format, but did not get rid of it entirely."

"Bernie Sanders Is Quietly Building a Digital Media Empire [...] The Vermont senator, who's been comparing corporate television programming to drugs and accusing it of creating a 'nation of morons' since at least 1979 — and musing to friends about creating an alternative news outlet for at least as long — has spent the last year and a half building something close to a small network out of his office in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill."

Also from Eric Levitz, "The Liberal Media Can Have Ideological Diversity Without Conservatives" — My main problem with this piece is that by "liberal media" he still seems to be talking about not-so-liberal organs like The New York Times.

Joe Cirincione and Guy Saperstin in The Nation, "Progressives Need a New Way to Talk About National Security: Voters say they support cuts in defense spending — Democrats should, too." I can go along with this, but I still maintain that our real national security is economic security for everyone.

Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney, "How The ACORN Scandal Seeded Today's Nightmare Politics: Breitbart led the charge, but Democrats delivered the killing blow. Has anyone really learned?" This is one of many pernicious examples of Democrats helping Republicans dismantle the progressive infrastructure that helped the party as a whole, The jury is still out on just how much of a creep Obama was regarding Shirley Sherrod, and whether Democrats keep voting to fund abstinence-only sex "education" out of stupidity or puritanism (or just a desire to funnel more money into the right-wing gravy train), but I still wish I could ask Bill Clinton what the hell he thought the outcome of "ending welfare as we know it" and turning the criminal justice system into a meat-grinder for minorities and the poor would be - and whether he did it out of malice or stupidity. And don't get me started on the Telecommunications Act.

Aalya Ahmad, "Working for the Weekend: The labour movement should renew its demands for a shorter workweek: Our communities are crumbling under capitalism and the obscene inequalities it creates. Income inequality has steadily risen in Canada over the past 20 years. The threat of climate change is becoming ever more obvious while environmental policies progress more slowly than melting glaciers. While workers in Canada are waging vital campaigns such as the Fight for $15 to improve wages for those who are paid the least, the mobilization around fairer compensation is just one part of the struggle to resist workers' exploitation. One of the oldest rallying cries of the labour movement is to reduce the time that workers spend working."

"How Clintonites Are Manufacturing Faux Progressive Congressional Campaigns [...] For it seems that progressive candidates aren't the only ones who learned the lesson of Bernie Sanders in 2016; the neoliberal Clintonites have too. So, while left-wing campaigns crop up in every corner of the country, so too do astroturf faux-progressive campaigns. And it is for us on the left to parse through it all and separate the authentic from the frauds."

Norman Solomon at Common Dreams, "Why the DNC Is Fighting WikiLeaks and Not Wall Street: Willingness to challenge Wall Street would alienate some of the Democratic Party's big donors." Gosh, I wonder why that is?

Michelle Cottle in The Atlantic, "Hillary Clinton's High Profile Is Hurting the Democrats: She dismisses those who tell her to step aside, but at this rate she will harm her political future and aid the GOP. [...] You know how Donald Trump seems weirdly, almost pathologically, obsessed with Clinton, despite the election having occurred nearly a year and a half ago? He is not alone. The Republican base (as hosts at Fox News can attest) still hates Clinton with the heat of a thousand suns. Is that rational? No. Is it a super-effective way for the GOP to fire up its base with high-stakes midterms approaching? To quote that great political sage Sarah Palin, you betcha!"

"For Democrats, the Russian Investigation Is Not Just Patriotic — It's Smart Politics: After a year of #RussiaGate, the Democrats have both their base and the entire country right where they want them." Democrats and independents increasingly believe in the myths around Russiagate, including that somehow the "dank memes" of Russian bots are what swung the election for Trump (God knows how), even though there is no evidence for any of it. Oh, and it provides a platform to attack Sanders as a Russian dupe or colluder, as well.

"Wrong-way Democrats: Will a 'blue dog' blue wave pave the way for future disaster?: Democrats will win big this fall (probably). But are they just repeating the mistakes of the Clinton-Obama era? [...] One especially trenchant observer on this front is activist, blogger and longtime music exec Howie Klein, who has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the Democratic Party's efforts to intervene in the midterms, and the way the struggle has been covered in the media. Klein discussed the Southern California races recently on his Down With Tyranny! blog, writing that DCCC-favored candidates "are always conservatives and never independent-minded agents of change.' A day before that: 'The DCCC has 38 candidates on their Red To Blue list so far. I count three who are worth voting for &mdash' and I'm not even 100% sure about one of the three. At least nine of them are outright Blue Dogs. ... And 21 of them are admitted New Dems.'"

Jeff Weaver has written a book, How Bernie Won: Inside the Revolution That's Taking Back Our Country--and Where We Go from Here.

Interview in The Nation, "Thomas Frank: Trump Could Win the 2020 Election: But we can also stop him."

"Gaius Publius: How the Democrats Could, and Probably Will, Blow 2020"

An Al Jazeera reporter went undercover to look for the much-touted anti-semitism of the British left, but mainly found a state-sponsored PR campaign to promote the idea that criticizing Israel's policies is anti-semitism. "Al Jazeera Investigations exposes how the Israel lobby influences British politics. A six-month undercover investigation reveals how Israel penetrates different levels of British democracy."

Jonathan Cook, "Anti-Semitism. Orchestrated Offensive against Jeremy Corbyn in the UK: For months, a campaign has been aimed at destabilising British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, accused of anti-Semitism. The right-wing party, Tony Blair's heir, and pro-Israel circles are targeting both Corbyn's left-wing line and his support for the Palestinian people."

I might be inclined to agree with a lot of Michelle Goldberg's "How the Online Left Fuels the Right" if she didn't screw it up by talking about people like Ben Shapiro as if they are prepared to argue in good faith . They're not, and anyway, that's not the point. Call-out culture on the left just isn't very good at making friends, period.

"Another Side of Feynman: Nine letters by Freeman Dyson portray his relationship with the Nobel Laureate."

"This magical drug mansion in Upstate New York is where the psychedelic '60s took off: Owned by one of America's richest families, Millbrook hosted Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Mingus and more"

This is a few years old but it cracked me up. "One Restaurant Owner Has Been Waging An Online War With Vegans For Two Months Now"

The Four Tops, "Baby, I Need Your Loving", because sometimes I just gotta get up and dance to it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I got sunshine

Read this scary thread from @ArshyMann. (And, while on the one hand, I've been acutely aware, and most women at least sense, that this kind of projection exists and is dangerous to us, I admit I never would have predicted it as a proud identity.) "For the past little while, I've been working on a piece about Toronto's relationship to the alt-right, especially the "manosphere." Unfortunately that research has become relevant. I'm going to share as much as I can here for people who may not be familiar with these movements."

"Portland Burgerville workers approve federally recognized union: Workers at a Burgerville in Southeast Portland overwhelmingly approved the formation of a federally-recognized union, making them the first to do so since a fast-food labor fight erupted nationally five years ago."

"Electronics-recycling innovator is going to prison for trying to extend computers' lives: A Southern California man who built a sizable business out of recycling electronic waste is headed to federal prison for 15 months after a federal appeals court in Miami rejected his claim that the "restore discs" he made to extend computers' lives had no financial value, instead ruling that he had infringed on Microsoft Corp. to the tune of $700,000." This is basically corporate prosecution of a private citizen to prevent him from helping people save a bit of money.

"Barcelona Forces Banks to Turn Repossessed Homes Into Affordable Housing: To address a housing shortage, Spain's second city says bank-owned properties can no longer sit empty." This is a great idea and American cities should be doing the same.

"USA Today: Nearly Two Thirds of Americans Have Given Up On Political Parties: (IVN) Many Americans will be staying out of the voting booth for the 2018 elections, disillusioned by the promises of politicians and convinced that the political system is irreparably corrupt."

David Dayen says, "Whether America Can Afford A Job Guarantee Program Is Not Up For Debate: SEN. BERNIE SANDERS'S endorsement of a guaranteed job for anyone who wants one, joining previous supporters such as Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, reinvigorated a debate that has been roiling within economics Twitter and academic circles for a long time. Those more partial to a universal basic income untethered to work clash with job guarantee supporters from the left; those who see the job guarantee as a dangerous slip into socialism attack from the right. And mainstream Democrats not running for the presidency don't really want to talk about it. Those fresh to the debate, meanwhile, instinctively ask what feels like an intuitive question: How on earth can we pay for that? But if we're going to have an honest debate about whether the government should be spending hundreds of billions of dollars so that people can obtain jobs, we should acknowledge that the government already does. Officials at the local, state, and federal levels push enormous amounts of money toward this stated purpose — they just channel it through corporations, in the form of special tax breaks and 'economic development' subsidies. It's not clear that businesses actually use all that money to create jobs, rather than just enjoying the subsidies and tax cuts for themselves, so if the true purpose really is to create work for people, the new jobs guarantee debate offers a much simpler — and probably much cheaper — approach to the same end."

It would be nice to believe they would do this stuff if they ever got back in control of Congress: "Kirsten Gillibrand Unveils A Public Option For Banking: The idea would provide a low-cost alternative to payday loans -- and it might just save the Postal Service, too." It would also be nice to think the Dems would get rid of that stupid requirement to fund all Post Office pensions 75 years in advance, which is the very thing we have to save the Post Office from.

"Speaker Ryan Firing Chaplain Conroy Is True Attack on Religious Liberty: Fr. Patrick J. Conroy, a Jesuit priest who served as Chaplain to the US House of Representatives, has been fired by Speaker Paul Ryan. Though the Speaker declined to justify his action, Fr. Conroy told the New York Times that Ryan had admonished him after a public prayer for the poor, 'Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.' As clergy who, like Fr. Conroy, have taken vows to preach the Word of God, we do not see how you can read the Bible and stay out of politics. Isaiah 10 speaks directly to lawmakers: 'Woe unto you who legislate evil and rob the poor, making widows and orphans your prey.' Jeremiah received a Word from the Lord in chapter 22, saying, 'God down to the palace of the king and declare, 'Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.' These are not only the public priorities of the Hebrew prophets. In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus says he will judge nations — not individuals — by asking, 'When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was thirsty, did you give me something to drink?' The epistle of James makes clear that God opposes anyone who prevents workers from receiving a living wage..."

David Dayen, "Ryan's Hope [...] Nobody deserved to go out in shame more than Ryan did; I'm sad it didn't come when he lost his Speaker's gavel or, worse, when he lost his seat. (I don't buy that "see I'm popular!" poll he released showing him up 21 points on Randy Bryce, but even if it were true, a 55% re-elect for a 20-year Congressman and national leader isn't that good). He deserved to go out the way Thomas Foley did in 1994, after he was targeted by Newt Gingrich and doomed to defeat in his eastern Washington district. Ryan was a con man and a liar armed with terrible, unpopular ideas that he somehow grifted the national media into thinking were responsible. His budgets were innumerate, hiding the class warfare and mass suffering they would have caused with phony numbers. His philosophy was bankrupt, hated by those who actually divined its intentions. His concern for anyone who couldn't buy him a $350 bottle of wine was fake, and his great dream in live was to take away their safety net as they crashed to Earth. And he was actually a bad politician, swinging his home state and even his home district further away from Republicans when he became the vice presidential nominee. But make no mistake: Ryan won. His sensibilities matched the pain demands of the Washington Post editorial board, who joined his call to starve the poor. And while he didn't reach his cherished goals of crushing Social Security and Medicare, he did force a Democratic administration into the smallest percentage of public investment since the Eisenhower era. He did deliver one of the most imbalanced, gimmicky, gift-style tax cuts to corporate America in history. He did preserve most of the last giant tax cut, which was more larded on the rich. Because Washington can be amoral and stupid, Paul Ryan was seen as its one-eyed king, its boy wonder. And the inequality statistics don't lie as to his success. We'll spend the next generation burying the Ryan era." .

Alex Pareene, "If We Had a Liberal Media We Wouldn't Have Had a Paul Ryan [...] The sheer admiration the political press has shown for him since then can't even be explained by something like his popularity — he is deeply unpopular, almost entirely because his ideas are deeply unpopular, and that is in spite of a years-long campaign by our liberal media to launder those ideas. If longtime Washington journalists treat plans to literally end Medicare, among the most popular programs in the history of American governance, as not just 'serious' but arguably necessary, by what possible definition can the elite media be said to be 'liberal'?"

David Dayen, "The Art of the Let Me Back in That Deal: The thing about lacking any core beliefs is that it's liberating. Donald Trump, who spent the entire presidential campaign calling the Trans-Pacific Partnership the worst trade deal ever written, now is openly musing about re-joining it. The flip-flop is rooted in desperation. Trump has managed to figure out that China's retaliatory tariffs slam farm states, and he's digging up any policy he can find to keep them happy, including going back to New Deal-era farm supports! Trump as FDR! Like I said, liberating. TPP is part of that mix, not only as an alleged opening of new markets (which it isn't, as the U.S. already has bilateral agreements with countries representing the overwhelming majority of TPP economies) but as another provocation to China, as a pretext to get them to bargain.It's also true that the TPP agreed to by the other eleven nations is substantially different than the one negotiated by President Obama, particularly on intellectual property for pharmaceuticals. That's good news for the global poor who won't be held up by multinationals for life-saving medications, but bad news for the multinationals who urged the U.S. to sign TPP. Those nations aren't interested in re-opening that can of worms, even as Trump conditioned re-entry on a "substantially better" deal. Of course, none of this is going to happen. The tariffs and this TPP play are all fodder for some negotiated settlement with China. I'm not sure that'll come about either. But Trump's not a very good bluffer. And he's betrayed the workers he incited with TPP opposition in the process. All in a day's work."

Oh, look, here's Steny Hoyer on video trying to elbow a progressive candidate out of the primaries to clear the road for another corporate hustler of Hoyer's choosing.
* And here's Lee Fang's story on the background of the candidates and the maneuvering in the DCCC.

Ryan Grim, "National Democrats created a competitive primary in New York, infuriating the local party. Another case where the DCCC tries to overrule the grassroots by recruiting a loser to run against their candidate. "In Syracuse, New York, a heavily Democratic city, things didn't go quite as well. The party's nominee for mayor, Juanita Perez Williams, lost in a landslide to an independent candidate, even managing to lose her own neighborhood by two to one. In some lines of work, a failure so complete might earn somebody a demotion, a period of probation, or a rethinking of whether the career path and the skillset are a perfect marriage. But this is Democratic Party politics, where consequences are for the people, not the politicians. And so, the performance earned her an invitation to the headquarters of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, touching off another intraparty saga that would go on to pit the national party against grassroots activists. Within just a few days of the loss, Perez Williams was in Washington, D.C., sitting down with top-tier Democratic operatives who saw, in her failed campaign, the makings of a promising 2018 congressional candidate."

Uh oh, it's the Judean People's Front versus the People's Judean Front versus the People's Front of Judea... Benjamin Studebaker, "The Left is Not a Church [...] You know how the religious right became a big deal in the United States? It stopped acting like a bunch of churches. It stopped caring whether you were Catholic or Protestant, whether you were Evangelical or Mainline. It stopped caring if you were Mormon. It even stopped caring if you went to church. All the religious right cares about is whether your policies work for them and whether you have a realistic strategy for implementing those policies. If you're anti-abortion you can have three wives, cheat on all of them constantly, never go to church, and brag about abusing women. You can be Donald Trump. It doesn't matter. The religious right sees itself as trying to save millions of people from being brutally murdered by their own mothers. It will subordinate all petty theological disputes to the overarching goal of putting a stop to the killing. They are relentless. They take their goals seriously."

Ryan Grim at The Intercept, "Democrat claimed independent status in election filings, but records show he was a Republican [...] Butner was recruited to run in California's 50th Congressional District by the Democratic leaders, yet his progressive opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, has won the endorsement of the state Democratic Party and the bulk of the activist groups in the district." He has a remarkably spotty voting record, but it's all Republican. "Elsewhere around the country, the Democrat leadership's zeal for veterans to run for office has led them to back other former Republicans. In Texas's 21st Congressional District, Joseph Kopser was previously registered as a Republican, having grown up in a conservative family. In Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, the party's chosen candidate, Elaine Luria, voted for her own Republican opponent not once, but twice. Gil Cisneros, a candidate in California's 39th District, is a Navy veteran and former Republican who had registered as a Democrat in 2015, after three years as an independent. He was named on Wednesday to the DCCC's Red-to-Blue program, tantamount to an endorsement. Butner came under fire earlier in the campaign for insisted that military service should be a prerequisite for a run for Congress."

David Dayen and Ryan Grim, "Democratic Party-Backed Candidate Leaves Groggy Voicemail Warning For Opponent: 'I'm Gonna Go Negative On You': WHEN KAREN THORBURN checked messages on her home answering machine on a Wednesday evening in early April, one of them was not like the others. It was a groggy-sounding voice, leaving a short but to-the-point message for her husband, Andy, who is running for Congress in California's 39th District. 'Hi Andy. It's Gil Cisneros. I'm gonna go negative on you,' the man said, before going silent for an awkward four seconds and hanging up. [...] The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently named Cisneros to the list of candidates it's supporting in races around the country. He is running to replace incumbent Republican Ed Royce, who is retiring. The crowded district was recently featured in a New York Times article about the party's interventions in California primaries, which the DCCC laments have been forced upon it by events outside its control. But a closer look at the district finds a mess very much of the party's own making."

Conor Lynch at Salon, "Bernie Sanders criticizes Democrats, they flip out (again): Has politics become team sports? Sanders' comments about Democratic failures aren't even controversial. But for some partisans, he's the enemy [...] It is not so much the message but the messenger that infuriates them. It's also true, however, that the idea Sanders represents — namely, that principles should come before party, and that politics should not be treated like a team sport — is anathema to these committed partisans. [...] Another interesting finding in Mason's research is that those who identify as 'conservative' demonstrate 'significantly less issue-based constraint.' As she notes, this is consistent with the research of Christopher Ellis and James Stimson, who find that 'American conservatives tend to be relatively left-leaning in their issue-based preferences, while liberals also hold left-leaning attitudes.' In other words, so-called conservatives are even more likely to be driven by group identity than liberals, even though they might actually agree with liberal or progressive positions on many issues. It's no wonder, then, that Sanders, who talks about the issues and offers progressive solutions that are popular with the broader public, while avoiding overheated partisan, has appeal not just to liberals and young people in blue states but to many voters in traditionally Red states. Though identity-based ideology has grown more pervasive over the past few decades, there is still a strong underlying desire for issue-based candidates."

"The Democratic Party is paying millions for Hillary Clinton's email list, FEC documents show: HEADING INTO THE 2018 midterms, with Democrats hoping to take back the House of Representatives and even make a run at the Senate, the party has spent more than $2 million worth of campaign resources on payments to Hillary Clinton's new group, Onward Together, according to Federal Election Commission filings and interviews with people familiar with the payments. The Democratic National Committee is paying $1.65 million for access to the email list, voter data, and software produced by Hillary for America during the 2016 presidential campaign, Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokesperson for the DNC, told The Intercept. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has paid more than $700,000 to rent the same email list. Clinton is legally entitled to rent her list to the party, rather than hand it over as a gift, but in 2015, Barack Obama gave his email list, valued at $1,942,640, to the DNC as an in-kind contribution. In 2013 and 2014, OFA had similarly made in-kind contributions exceeding $3.4 million for uses of the list that cycle." Of course, the party is even more cash-strapped than it was back then. Irritatingly, the Clintonites spent months bashing Bernie Sanders for not handing over his email list for free.

The Pied Piper strikes again. "Dems Meddle In WV To Boost Ex-Con Coal Baron In GOP Senate Primary: National Democrats have been not-so-quietly hoping that controversial ex-con and coal baron Don Blankenship wins the West Virginia GOP Senate primary in a few weeks, seeing him as by far the easiest opponent for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). Now, they're stepping up to try to make that happen."

Why commercial medicine is a bad idea: "Goldman Sachs Analysts Question Whether Curing Patients Is Good for Business." These guys talk about infectious diseases being spread by carriers like it's a good thing.

"Why we can always afford a war: Patricia Pino and Christian Reilly discuss Government 'debt' and explain why politicians never ask 'how are you going to pay for it?' when it comes to war."

Robert Fisk at the Independent: "The search for truth in the rubble of Douma — and one doctor's doubts over the chemical attack: [...] As Dr Assim Rahaibani announces this extraordinary conclusion, it is worth observing that he is by his own admission not an eyewitness himself and, as he speaks good English, he refers twice to the jihadi gunmen of Jaish el-Islam [the Army of Islam] in Douma as 'terrorists' — the regime's word for their enemies, and a term used by many people across Syria. Am I hearing this right? Which version of events are we to believe?"

"American media wrong on Syria coverage" — Mark Crispin Miller makes the point that while people assume that Russia Today is propaganda, Americans don't understand that the same is true of the "free press" in the United States.

And that goes for Britain as well, where in true MSNBC fashion, the narrative of the elites is the only one that matters at the Guardian, who aren't interested when a seasoned and accomplished war reporter actually goes to Douma and tries to make sense of events, only to be dismissed like an unfounded rumor, in favor of people whose "expertise" is based on not being there and being pro-regime change.

"Eyeless in Gaza: Write down: I, Uri Avnery, soldier number 44410 of the Israel army, hereby dissociate myself from the army sharpshooters who murder unarmed demonstrators along the Gaza Strip, and from their commanders, who give them the orders, up to the commander in chief."

Poor beleaguered Andrew Cuomo is at war with the evil teachers' union. "Andrew Cuomo rips teacher unions as selfish 'industry' more interested in members' rights than student needs: A passionate Gov. Cuomo upped his war with the teacher unions on Thursday, charging that they represent themselves — not the students." It's funny how much he sounds like a Republican. I hope Cynthia Nixon wipes the floor with him She already has the Working Families Party endorsement (won with 91% of the committee vote). I never thought I'd be endorsing a candidate named "Nixon", but jeez she's good! Look at this: "Cynthia Nixon Puts Legalizing Marijuana Front and Center of Campaign: Cynthia Nixon on Wednesday made legalizing recreational marijuana the first policy plank of her campaign for governor, framing it as a necessary step toward reducing racial inequities in the criminal justice system — and, in doing so, bringing to the forefront an issue that may help her make inroads into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's robust support among black voters. [...] In a brief homemade video posted to Twitter on Wednesday, Ms. Nixon, seated in her living room, speaking over a faint but steady hum of background noise, said 80 percent of New Yorkers arrested in connection with marijuana use were black or Latino, despite roughly equal rates of use among white people and communities of color. [...] The simple truth is, for white people, the use of marijuana has effectively been legal for a long time. Isn't it time we legalize it for everybody else?"

Cuomo also hasn't been that kind to immigrants, but at least he knows he's in a fight this time around, and he's making everyone laugh with his attempts to cash in on other people's identities. "Andrew Cuomo Keeps Calling Himself 'Undocumented,' Which, Hmmm [...] During a union rally last Wednesday, Cuomo proclaimed that he was 'raised by poor immigrants from South Jamaica.' (South Jamaica is a neighborhood in Queens. His father, Mario Cuomo, was born in New York, and his mother, Matilda Cuomo, was also born in New York.) A day later, the governor said in the same vein, 'I'm an Italian-American, I came from poor Italian-Americans who came here. You know what they called Italian-Americans back in the day? They called them wops. You know what wop stood for? Without papers. I'm undocumented. You want to deport an undocumented person, start with me, because I'm an undocumented person.'" Well, no, it didn't, and he isn't, and his farther was the Governor of New York.

Meanwhile in Florida, unbelievably, "Patrick Murphy And David Jolly Want To Insert Third Way Into The Florida Governor's Race" - just what everyone wants, a "bipartisan" ticket with an "ex"-Republican and a real Republican, the ultimate DINO/RINO punch. God help us all.

"Health Insurers Spend $158K to Make Sure 'Blue Wave' Is Against Medicare for All: Tweet In the current cycle, big health insurers have quietly donated more than $150,000 to Democrats opposed to Medicare for All legislation."

Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo, "What else have they gotten wrong?" - This is really about what the GOP and libertarians and "centrists" have gotten wrong about regulations and business, but the interesting thing is that, "This month, Washington Monthly looked at a libertarian economist Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University's Mercatus Center. Tabarrok went looking for the effects of federal regulation on "economic dynamism" expecting to find support for the conservative dogma that government regulation harms the economy. He found none. What is remarkable is he published the paper anyway."

Branko Marcetic at Jacobin, "The Two Faces of Kamala Harris: Kamala Harris has matched every one of her progressive achievements with conservative ones." At first I was thinking, "Hm, maybe she's better than she seems...." And then I read further.

Teodrose Fikre, "I Don't Give a Damn about the First (Insert Identity Here) CEO or President: Do you know what literally repulses me these days? Hearing about the first so and so to get accepted into the exclusive club of the aristocracy. Frankly, I don't give a damn about the latest first black president or first woman CEO. Who cares! I don't know how we have arrived at this notion where we measure the wellness of humanity not based on the well being of the least of the citizenry who suffer in silence but based on the accumulation of the wealthiest among us. This annoyance of mine got revved up to full blown peeve two days ago when I heard a report of how Kamala Harris has a chance to become the first black woman president."

Valerie Tarico at AlterNet, "Here's Why Some Progressives Are Tearing Each Other Apart: Progressives are telling two different stories about the world we live in and the future we are trying to create. In important ways, they clash."

Smári McCarthy, "Universal coverage is good economics: Healthcare costs less and performs better when societies pull together. Unfortunately, Icelandic conservatives want American inefficiencies."

Democracy in Exile: The Rise of the Defense Intellectual w/ Daniel Bessner — Really interesting interview by Michael Brooks on The Majority Report looking at the history of how what started as a noble goal in the wake of the Nazi horror developed into the antidemocratic force for evil that the foreign policy community is today.

Reminders still always needed: "How the Koch brothers helped dismantle the Democratic Party: For over 20 years I have reported on the mostly unnoted role played by the Democratic Leadership Council dismantling the Democratic Party, disconnecting it from its New Deal and Great Society past and turning it into Republican Lite. [...] Such a partnership — between something called the Democratic Leadership Council and the Koch Brothers — goes a long way to explaining why our last two Democratic presidents have been so disloyal to their party's traditions. And why Obama is pushing something as atrocious and anti-American as the secret TPP agreement. Bipartisanship may be gone on Capitol Hill, but it's still flourishing in the checks that are written for politicians."

Here's a worthy project: putting data in the hands of advocates. "Democratic party leaders believe that Americans are more conservative than they actually are, and believe that supporting progressive candidates will hurt them electorally." But the data doesn't support this belief, and apparently if legislators see that their constituents support progressive policies, they are more likely to move toward those policies. And here's the article that sums it up, from Sean McElwee at Vice, "If Democrats Listened to Their Voters, They'd Be Moving Left: The Democratic base overwhelmingly supports progressive positions. It's time for the party to pay attention."

Jeff Spross in The Week, "Bernie Sanders has conquered the Democratic Party: Bernie Sanders' bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 was not universally welcomed, to put it mildly. His basic argument was that Democrats could assemble a cross-ethnic and cross-class coalition by offering big universal public programs like Medicare-for-all and free college tuition. But large portions of the party dismissed him as an interloper, a naive radical, or even just another entitled white male. Which makes developments since the 2016 election rather interesting: Quietly but steadily, the Democratic Party is admitting that Sanders was right."

Damon Linker, "Why can't liberals accept the truth about Hillary's 2016 failure? [...] I have no idea if Sanders would have fared better against Trump than Clinton did. But I do know that Clinton was the worst possible person to answer the angry accusations of a populist insurgency from either the protectionist right or the socialist left. She was too much a contented representative and beneficiary of the very political and economic establishments against which Trump directed his fire. She was the Davos candidate, the woman who defied the advice of her handlers to accept six-figure speaking fees from investment banks at events where she wooed rooms full of potential donors by dreaming of a world of open borders - a world in which the last remaining businesses to pay a decent wage in the Rust Belt would be given the green light to flee in pursuit of ever-higher profits. To counter that Trump-the-corrupt-real-estate-mogul is just as much a member of the nation's economic elite misses the political point entirely. A populist defines himself by those he attacks, and Trump attacked those in power. Who did Clinton attack? The "deplorable" voters who were tempted to vote for Trump - and she did it, of course, at a big-ticket fundraiser, before a room full of wealthy liberal donors." (I didn't think this article answered the question in the title, though.)

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink talks a good game about corporations taking account of their effect on the community, but actions speak louder, and some say "BlackRock Wields Its Big Stick Like a Wet Noodle on C.E.O. Pay."

Umair Haque, "Why We're Underestimating American Collapse: The Strange New Pathologies of the World's First Rich Failed State" — I have to take issue with the idea that it's the "first rich failed state". All those places in the Bible that God smote were pretty big deals with lots of wealth concentrated at the top, and they failed, too.

Corey Pein, "'Like Selling Crack to Children': A Peek Inside the Silicon Valley Grift Machine: Without rampant, unchecked fraud, I came to realize, the entire digital media business would collapse."
* Pein discussed this on The Michael Brooks Show

Now even Bloomberg is talking about it. "U.S. Jobs Guarantee Held Out as Path to True 'Full Employment'." Well, that's just true. I wonder why it's catching on.

Speaking of that, the neoliberals have been remarkably successful at convincing some people that the New Deal was nothing but a racist gift to white people and did nothing for black America. This would be false even if not a single penny of it went directly to any black people, since it brought a lot of money into the real economy at the lowest levels, which benefited everyone - but it's also not true that New Deal money only went directly into white people's hands. There is absolutely no question that, yes, some important parts of the New Deal blocked help for black Americans (and don't even get me started on red-lining), but even if you leave aside the fact that the programs we still have were since expanded to include them, there was also the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
* I also found this amusingly prescient prediction of the future from 1967 at the History site.

Hmmm, who's leading in the latest presidential poll? No surprises. (Details here in this .pdf.)

The Onion, "Fuming Rachel Maddow Spends Entire Show Just Pointing Wildly At Picture Of Putin"

"It's The Hubble Space Telescope's Birthday. Enjoy Amazing Images Of The Lagoon Nebula"

"This Incredible Vintage Film Shows a Trip Through New York City in 1911"

Have some fun loop animations.

The Temptations My Girl Original Video Recording 1964

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The boundaries in between

This is just a neat old picture of Arthur Thomson drawing direct to stencil that Rob Hansen found in someone's old photo collection. Arthur once asked me why everyone called him "ATom" in print instead of just "Atom", which is what he thought he was writing. He didn't seem to realize his signature came across that way.

Despite the best efforts of the Democratic leadership to protect Paul Ryan, someone is finally challenging him and, whoops! Not so safe anymore! So, not surprisingly, "Paul Ryan will not seek re-election in 2018 midterms amid Republican fears of losing House and Senate: The 2012 Vice Presidential candidate is said to have grown increasingly frustrated working with the president." Or maybe the fact that everyone hates him and no one wants him in office could have swayed him, and he knows he can go on to bigger things in some cushy corporate pay-back job.

David Dayen, "Save the VA: The power struggle inside the Department of Veterans Affairs burst into the open this week with the firing of David Shulkin, replaced by a blank slate who served as the president's doctor. But this has been simmering for some time as a war between a Koch Brothers-funded front group that wants to privatize the VA health system, the overwhelming mass of veteran's groups that don't, and a president who doesn't know or care much about the details but is easily led. Shulkin's post-firing op-ed lays out the battle lines."

Dean Baker, "We Win Trade War! China Goes Generic Big Time: Donald Trump has proved the skeptics wrong, it seems that the American people stand to be big winners as a result of his trade war. The Chinese government announced a major initiative to promote the manufacture and use of generic drugs. The reason this is potentially a big deal for the United States is that it could mean that China intends to push the envelope in replacing drugs protected by government-granted patent monopolies with drugs sold at free market prices. While the TRIPS provisions of the WTO do require members to respect patents and copyrights, there are flexibilities, such as compulsory licensing, to allow far more competition that what we see in the United States market."

"Arizona Democrats Show Up In Record Numbers, Told They're Registered Republicans." This problem seems to be cropping up all over the country. Check now to make sure your registration is in place and correct, because an awful lot of people are finding these odd little anomalies when they go in to vote.

"Supreme Court rules police officer cannot be sued for shooting Arizona woman in her front yard: The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a lawsuit an Arizona woman tried to bring against a Tucson officer who shot her four times in her front yard in May 2010. In an unsigned opinion, the court said the officer, Andrew Kisela, was entitled to qualified immunity in the shooting of Amy Hughes. [...] The court's decision Monday reverses a 9th Circuit Court ruling in favor of Hughes. The lower court said Kisela had used excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court, however, said Kisela was entitled to qualified immunity because there is no prior case setting a precedent that his use of force in this situation would be excessive. [...] In a scathing dissent, which Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the court has never required a factually identical case to satisfy the 'clearly established' precedent standard. 'It's decision is not just wrong on the law; it also sends an alarming signal to law enforcement officers and the public,' she wrote. 'It tells officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished.'"

"Texas woman sentenced to 5 years in prison for voting while on probation: If she had known it was illegal, Crystal Mason said she would have never cast a vote in the 2016 presidential election."

"The Growing Divorce Between American Jewish Youth and Israel [...] When you find that those in society who are most anti-Semitic, like neo-Nazi Richard Spencer of the alt-Right, Steve Bannon, Le Pen, Geert Wilders, Nick Griffin of the BNP, Pastor John Hagee and assorted racists and fascists all love Israel whilst, at the same not liking Jews then it begins to occur to young Jews that Israel is not all that it is cracked up to be. In addition a Jewish state suggests that Jews don't belong in America. It is therefore not surprising that in this survey of the Bay Area district in California, only 11% of Jews between 18 and 34 were ‘very attached to Israel'. Even better only 40% of young American Jews are ‘comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state.' It is becoming ever clearer that it isn't Jews but racist non-Jews who most love Israel. In Fire & Fury it describes how Jared Kushner felt Steve Bannon's support for Israel was a cover for his anti-Semitism. Today the normal response from anti-Semites is that they love Israel. "

Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, "The $500,000 GoFundMe Charity Campaign for Wealthy Ex-FBI Official Andrew McCabe Is Obscene" — It's a bad joke when "The Resistance" makes heroes of security state agents who have not been acting in our best interests and even turns them into "our" charity beneficiaries when real poverty and desperation are going unaddressed - and should be what we are focused on.

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, "Is the Two-Party System Doomed? A new study shows us what observation should already have made clear: a messy restructuring of America's political parties is coming [...] Papers like Piketty's are a warning that if the intellectuals in both parties don't come up with a real plan for dealing with the income disparity problem before someone smarter than Donald Trump takes it on, they're screwed. Forget nativists vs. globalists. Think poor vs. rich. Think 99 to 1. While Washington waits with bated breath for the results of the Mueller probe, it's the other mystery — how do we fix this seemingly unfixable economic system — that is keeping the rest of the country awake at night."

"Sanders condemns killing of Palestinian protesters: The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic. It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response."

Mehdi Hasan in The Intercept, "Israel Kills Palestinians and Western Liberals Shrug. Their Humanitarianism Is a Sham. 'IF THE CONCEPT of intervention is driven by universal human rights, why is it — from the people who identify themselves as liberal interventionists — why do we never hear a peep, a word, about intervening to protect the Palestinians?' That was the question I put to the French philosopher, author, and champion of liberal (or humanitarian) interventionism, Bernard-Henri Lévy, on my Al Jazeera English interview show 'Head to Head' in 2013. The usually silver-tongued Levy struggled to answer the question. The situation in Palestine is 'not the same' as in Syria and 'you have not all the good on one side and all the bad on the other side,' said Levy, who once remarked in reference to the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, that he had 'never seen such a democratic army, which asks itself so many moral questions.' I couldn't help but be reminded of my exchange with the man known as 'BHL' this past weekend, as I watched horrific images of unarmed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border being shot in the back by the 'democratic army' of Israel. How many 'moral questions' did those Israeli snipers ask themselves, I wondered, before they gunned down Gazan refugees for daring to demand a return to their homes inside the Green Line? On Friday, the IDF shot an astonishing 773 people with live ammunition, killing 17 of them. Yet a spokesperson for the IDF bragged that Israeli troops 'arrived prepared' and 'everything was accurate. ... We know where every bullet landed.' On Sunday, Israel's hawkish defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, roundly rejected calls from the European Union and the United Nations for an independent inquiry into the violence and insisted that 'our soldiers deserve a commendation.'"

Haaretz, "Debunking Israel's Talking Points on Deadly Gaza Protests: To understand why Gazans are willing to pit their bodies against an army, peel away the political positioning on all sides."

Forbes, "60% Of House Democrats Vote For A Defense Budget Even Bigger Than Trump's [...] There are currently 240 Republicans and 194 Democrats in the body, with 1 vacancy. Out of the Republicans, 227 voted in favor and 8 voted against this bill, making 230, with 10 apparently missing in action. Of the 194 Democrats, 117 voted for the bill and 73 voted against, with 4 not voting. In other words, of the party that supposedly opposes rampant military spending and the Trump administration, 60% voted for this bill." Most of this article is of the "We spend too much on the military and not on other things" school, but the point still stands: Democrats are making a pretty poor showing of being "The Resistance". Maybe they should call themselves, "The Assistance".

* * * * *

I'm not even going to describe the latest crazy "Bernie is a racist" crap that emanated from his panel with Mayor Lumumba, but it was actually a really good event and well worth watching, especially if you've been hearing the nonsense about what he said. U.S Senator Bernie Sanders and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba Town Hall Meeting 'Examining Economic Justice 50 Years Later'. Strangely, this entire crowd of mostly black people in an 85% black city were unable to detect the terrible racism of Sanders when he pointed out that the Democratic Party screwed up. (Warning: There's a lot of stuff in the beginning that doesn't really have clear audio but isn't actually part of the discussion, which doesn't start until about the 25-minute mark.)

Briahna Joy Gray was there, and what she saw is very different from what the Twitter trolls, the H8%, were saying about it. "Bernie Sanders in the Deep South: Last week, I joined Bernie Sanders in Memphis, Tennessee, and Jackson, Mississippi, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Sanders was overwhelmingly well received by both passersby and the local audiences who came to hear him speak. But so far, the media coverage of his trip has revolved around a brief aside, in which Sanders faulted the Democratic Party for its recent legislative failures [...] In fact, if Beale Street could talk, it would tell a very different story about Bernie Sanders than the now-familiar critique that he is insufficiently sensitive to racial issues. As I walked with Sanders down Memphis's famous thoroughfare, his popularity, including among the predominantly black crowd attending the commemorative festivities, was self-evident. The senator was stopped every few feet by selfie-seekers and admirers. Yes: Perhaps this is to be expected of any politician with a national profile, but given his poor showing in Mississippi during the 2016 Democratic primary, in which he secured less than 17 percent of the black vote, I had thought the senator and his small cohort might go unnoticed. I was wrong."

There is, however, one worrying thing going around where Bernie really put his foot in it, and frankly, I'm very surprised that he didn't already know it. It happened three years ago but I never heard this until now: "In a September meeting with Campaign Zero, a movement formed out of the Ferguson protests, activists asked Sanders why, in his opinion, there were a disproportionate amount of people of color in jail for nonviolent drug offenses. Sanders, seated across the table, a yellow legal pad at hand, responded with a question of his own, according to two people present: 'Aren't most of the people who sell the drugs African American?' The candidate, whose aides froze in the moment, was quickly rebuffed: The answer, the activists told him, was no. Even confronted with figures and data to the contrary, Sanders appeared to have still struggled to grasp that he had made an error, the two people present said." That seems like shocking ignorance, but illegal drugs have never been his issue so I suppose it's not surprising that he never thought it through, but of course, the reason there are more arrests of black people for drugs is that the police go after black people for drugs, and carefully avoid confronting kids in white suburban neighborhoods where there is far more dealing and using going on. So I put a simple little primer thread up on Twitter. I hope it comes to his attention.

PS. I could only find a record of three politicians who endorsed Jesse Jackson when he ran for president. Two were US Senators, Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Ernest Hollings (D-SC). The third was the Mayor of Burlington, VT, Bernie Sanders. Jackson won 55% in the Michigan primary and was the frontrunner until Dukakis pulled ahead, but the media was so quiet about Jackson's momentum that you never would have guessed he was in the running.

PPS. The canard that Sanders never released his taxes is still going around amongst the Clintonati. It's not true. Note the date on the article is 16 April.

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On The Majority Report:
The Rise of the Working-Class Shareholder w/ David H. Webber - MR Live - 3/29/18

On The Michael Brooks Show:
TMBS - 34 - Lee Carter: Socialist Win in Virginia; Hitchens Right, Harris Wrong on Bell Curve

Matt Bruenig at Jacobin, "How Did Private Property Start? Libertarians tend to get flummoxed when confronted with this simple question. Perhaps the most interesting thing about libertarian thought is that it has no way of coherently justifying the initial acquisition of property. How does something that was once unowned become owned without nonconsensually destroying others' liberty? It is impossible. This means that libertarian systems of thought literally cannot get off the ground. They are stuck at time zero of hypothetical history with no way forward."

The usual suspects have been claiming that high-schooler David Hogg is against the Constitution because he wants restrictions on guns after seeing his fellow students shot to death. But their view of the 2nd Amendment is extremely modern and is not how it was interpreted until very recently. In fact, even the Supreme Court's ruling in Heller (2008) did not grant an unlimited right to own and bear arms (although this article completely misconstrues "the common defense" as being against "tyrannical governments", which it wasn't - taking up arms against the U.S government was clearly defined as treason in the Constitution). George Washington had become acutely aware that unregulated and untrained militias were pretty useless for repelling invaders, which is what the 2nd Amendment's language is about and was always interpreted to mean prior to Heller. Moreover, English common law continued to be the rule where gun ownership and carry were concerned.

Zaid Jilani and Ryan Grim at The Intercept, "Centrist Group Backed Anti-Abortion, Anti-LGBT Rep. Lipinski Because His Opponent Supported Bernie Sanders, Emails Reveal: EARLIER THIS YEAR, Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., was facing a surprisingly robust primary challenge from Marie Newman, a progressive Democrat backed by some of the many constituencies that Lipinski has clashed with over the years. Lipinski represents a solidly Democratic seat, but has become one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, with his opposition to legal abortion and hostility toward marriage equality and immigration rights. Eventually, Lipinski narrowly defeated Newman in the March 20 primary — thanks in part to support from the centrist political alliance No Labels. Lipinski is a member of the group's House Problem Solvers Caucus, an informal collection of representative who work to, well, solve problems. [...] Jacobson replied with her reasoning for the group's intervention, explaining that part of the opposition to Newman was related to her endorsement by Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont. 'I see a whole new crop of Democratic challengers — like Marie Newman — who see Bernie — WHO IS NOT EVEN A DEMOCRAT — as a model worthy of emulation,' Jacobson wrote, all-caps in the original, denigrating Sanders for not labeling himself a Democrat. 'But I don't think we need more people in Congress on either side who rile up their bases and then actually achieve nothing.'"

Ralph Nader in Lapham's Quarterly, "Land of the Lawless: How power in America has turned the rule of law into a mere myth"

Since the Hillbots are still polluting Twitter with Barney Frank's bitter smear of Bernie Sanders, it's time for another round of Richard Eskow's retort, "Barney vs. Bernie: Sanders Is the Real 'Progressive Who Gets Things Done'."

A few of Joe Kennedy III's other "missteps" have been around the net, but it hasn't stopped "The Resistance" from listing him as a possible contender to run in 2020. I hope no one forgets that he thinks marijuana should be illegal so the cops can search people's cars without a good reason. That's two bad positions at once. He's also "embraced Bernie Sanders's Medicare for All as a vision but dismissed it as practical policy, saying, 'much as people don't love incrementalism, this is I think how part of this debate is going to go.'" Other things Kennedy does not appear to support are higher taxes on Wall Street, free college, and addressing voting rights.

"What It's Like for an American Drug Reformer to Go to a Country with a Compassionate System [...] Welcome to Portugal. The country's low-key, non-headline-generating drug policy, based on compassion, public health, and public safety, is a stark contrast with the U.S., as the mind-boggled response of the activists suggests."

"Scrubbed clean: why a certain kind of sex is vanishing from the internet: A US government effort to fight online sex trafficking has cleansed many sites of personal ads and consensual eroticism, in a shift advocates say amounts to dangerous censorship."

RIP: Steven Bochco, creator of Hill Street Blues, dies at 74." Some people say he remade television by giving his characters story arcs at a time when other evening television shows were always stand-alone episodes where the characters and settings always went back to zero in time for next week's show.

RIP: "Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Anti-apartheid campaigner dies at 81." She also disturbed some people by talking about sexism. Fancy that.

Just Enough Room Island — If it gets decent internet and easy food deliveries, I'm in for the view.

"Alaska Airlines Delayed Their Flight So Passengers Could See Something Breathtaking" — a total eclipse, from the air.

Paris Steampunk 1889 LEGO Project by Castor Troy

This is nice: Google Doodle for Maya Angelou's 90th birthday
* And, elsewhere... "The Erasure of Maya Angelou's Sex Work History"

Damn, I can't find the song I wanted on the internets, so have some P.F. Sloan.