Friday, September 23, 2016

If there's anything that you want

Some people complain that I'm always ragging on Democrats instead of on Republicans. Leaving aside my opinion that some Democrats are Republicans, I just don't see the point, since the Republicans are already hopeless, and there's nothing I can do about them except hope we somehow get a party that will actually oppose them. Until the Democrats start really doing that, yes, I'm ragging on them.

This is FiveThirtyEight's election projection page, and about halfway down there's a map with the states sized by number of electoral votes, which is nice because all those big red states like Wyoming, Montana, and the Dakotas are cut down to size and are no bigger than Vermont. It gives you a much better picture of how close the election is than looking at a normal map with all that red territory.

"In historic move, Gov. Jerry Brown expands overtime pay for California farmworkers: Leaders of the United Farm Workers of America, which sponsored the overtime bill, called Brown's decision a victory in a nearly 80-year quest to establish broad rights and protections for farm laborers. But the move shocked the agricultural community, which lobbied heavily against its provisions, saying the new law would hurt a valuable state industry already on the decline. [...] It will lower the current 10-hour-day threshold for overtime by half an hour each year until it reaches the standard eight-hour day by 2022. It also will phase in a 40-hour standard workweek for the first time. The governor will be able to suspend any part of the process for a year depending on economic conditions."

Forget jail, "Wells Fargo Exec Who Headed Phony Accounts Unit Collected $125 Million" - and 5,000 nonentities working for him got fired.
* "Bernie Sanders Asks The Only Relevant Question About The Wells Fargo Scandal."
* David Dayen in TNR, "The Obama Administration Must Prosecute Wells Fargo: CEO John Stumpf's testimony before the Senate Banking Committee offered more than enough evidence of major securities fraud. [...] If the SEC and the Justice Department don't get involved here, they might as well not even exist. CFPB's Cordray and OCC's Thomas Curry wouldn't say whether they issued criminal referrals to law enforcement in this case, though Cordray hinted at it. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, if she wants to emerge from wherever she's been hiding on this issue, has enough information to bring cases. Will President Barack Obama's administration end its tenure as it began, by refusing to prosecute systemic fraud in the financial markets? That's the unavoidable conclusion so far."
* There's nothing quite like watching her give a fraudster a good grilling, and it was gratifying to see Elizabeth Warren eviscerate Wells Fargo's CEO.

"'Big Short' guru tells whiny bankers to shut up [...] 'You lived in a bad neighborhood. You didn't police yourselves. You're going to have to live with this. You frickin' blew up Planet Earth. Shut up and move on.'"

Marcy Wheeler on "A Busy Day for the Bears" after the leaked Powell emails, a speech by Guccifer, and other things.
* Much as I hate to link to the Daily Mail, I have to admit to being amused by their headline of the leaked Colin Powell emails.

Juan Cole, "Why the Boeing & Airbus Sales to Iran are a Big Effing Deal" - Because it's more ethical, more economically sensible, and it helps strengthen the Iran deal.

Noam Chomsky explains the TPP

"A bad day for Missouri: The people of Missouri just had a very bad day. It started off with the top lobbyist for the top donor in Missouri being allowed by Republicans to speak from the dais on the Senate floor. Lobbyists getting what they wanted would be the theme of the day. During the veto session on Wednesday, the Republicans who control our legislature went on a rampage against the people of Missouri. They made it harder to vote and easier for anyone to carry a gun anywhere, unchecked and untrained. They put industry representatives in charge of policing their own water pollution. They gave a $50 million retroactive handout to special interests without budgeting for it. They voted to fine the poorest people in the state if they use an emergency room or miss a doctor's appointment. They spent the day celebrating their unchecked authority taunting Democrats, voters and the Governor on social media, while refusing to help any Missourians."

Barton Gellman, one of the four journalists (with Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, and Ewen MacAskill) to see the original Snowden materials, and whose stories in The Washington Post on the subject earned the paper a Pulitzer, on "The House Intelligence Committee's Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Snowden Report: Late on Thursday afternoon the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a three-page executive summary (four, if we count the splendid cover photo) of its two-year inquiry into Edward Snowden's National Security Agency (NSA) disclosures. On first reading, I described it as an 'aggressively dishonest' piece of work. With a day or so to reflect on it, I believe it's worse than that. The report is not only one-sided, not only incurious, not only contemptuous of fact. It is trifling."
* Marcy Wheeler: "Remember, every single member of the committee, Democrat or Republican, signed this report. Every single one. For some reason, even fairly smart people like Adam Schiff and Jackie Speier signed off on something with inexcusable errors."
* "Former CIA Officer: President Obama Should Pardon Edward Snowden: He let Americans evaluate omniscient domestic surveillance for themselves."
* "WashPost Makes History: First Paper to Call for Prosecution of Its Own Source (After Accepting Pulitzer): Three of the four media outlets that received and published large numbers of secret NSA documents provided by Edward Snowden - The Guardian, the New York Times, and The Intercept - have called for the U.S. government to allow the NSA whistleblower to return to the U.S. with no charges. That's the normal course for a news organization, which owes its sources duties of protection, and which - by virtue of accepting the source's materials and then publishing them - implicitly declares the source's information to be in the public interest. But not the Washington Post." But Margaret Sullivan took issue with them - in their own Style section, with "As a source - and a patriot - Edward Snowden deserves a presidential pardon."
* "'Pardon Snowden' Campaign Takes Off as Sanders, Ellsberg, and Others Join: His bravery was a catalyst for the modern movement to defend democracy."

"Warrant Issued for Amy Goodman's Arrest for DAPL Reporting: Watch Your Back! I guess that you might expect a film showing security guards unleashing dogs and pepper spray on those protesting the Dakota Access oil Pipeline (DAPL) would be bound to get someone's attention. Surely it might lead to an arrest or at minimum, disciplinary measures against those who employed such tactics against non-violent protestors. After all, the optics of such measures surely rebound against those who order them to be unleashed (anyone remember Selma, for example?) Well, if you thought that, you would be wrong. We don't live in sane times. Instead, a warrant has been issued in Morton County, North Dakota for the arrest of award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, on a charge of criminal trespassing, a Class B misdemeanor offense, as reported by the local Dickinson Press. Goodman and her team have been in the forefront of covering the DAPL protests. On September 3, they filmed security personnel working for the pipeline company using dogs and pepper spray to attack protesters. That graphic report, which may be viewed here, went viral and was rebroadcast widely by CBS, NBC, NPR, CNN, MSNBC and the Huffington Post, among other outlets."

Pierce, "The Charter School Movement Is a Vehicle for Fraud and Corruption: As I may have mentioned, we have a red-hot ballot initiative up here in the Commonwealth (God Save It!) in which we are asked whether or not we want to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. The usual suspects and the usual out-of-state money are weighing in heavily on the YES side of things; their ads continually portray charters as merely an extension of the existing public school system even though experience everywhere tells us that the people who are making big bank of education "reform" generally, and on charters in specific, insist that they be allowed to run their businesses...er...schools independently of the school boards that manage the rest of the public system. In other words, all they want from the public school system is money and suckers."

I'm always wary of "cures" for addiction, but I'm also aware that there are circumstances where they can help, and this one looks - so far - like it might just work, So, yes, "Banning a promising cure for opioid addiction is a bad idea [...] But not to worry: The Drug Enforcement Administration is on the case. 'To avoid an imminent hazard to public safety,' the agency said in a press release, it will be adding kratom, a medicinal herb that has been used safely in Southeast Asia for centuries, to its list of Schedule 1 substances, placing the popular botanical in a class with killers like heroin and cocaine at the end of September. Why ban the mild-mannered tree leaf? Well, because the DEA claims it's an opioid with 'no currently accepted medical use.' Wrong on both counts. " But given the nature of the drug's potential, why would the DEA even get interested in banning it. Oh. "However, drug companies have shown little interest in a plant remedy that cannot be patented. While some of kratom's active ingredients have indeed been patented by researchers who hope one day to market them to pharmaceutical firms, Boyer said that these compounds have failed to exhibit as powerful pain-killing effects as the whole plant."

For a change, the stats say things were better for Americans last year. Well, some of them, anyway. David Dayen in The New Republic, "Obama Thanks Himself - for a Slow, Partial Recovery: A good 2015 doesn't make up for years of stagnation. [...] But digging into the data reveals a more complicated picture, especially when put in the context of what we've been through in the Obama era. First of all, we should be chastened by the fact that this is the first gain in median household income since 2007. That means that, after eight years in the wilderness, the post-recession recovery for the middle class only started in 2015." And not all of the credit should be going to Obama, either; much of it may be owed to Fight for $15.

"Obama Expected To Veto 9/11 Bill Because It Sets A Dangerous Precedent: The House voted Friday to allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the state of Saudi Arabia for their alleged ties to terrorism. The vote comes four months after the Senate voted the bill through, but proponents worry that President Obama will veto the bill. 'We are in the same place we were the last time,' a White House official told NBC on Friday. Obama said in April he would veto the bill. The White House says that the bill's enactment could put American officials overseas in danger. By opening up the prospect of victims suing governments (or states), the United States could be opening itself up to law suits from individuals who feel that the country has committed crimes in their nation - like victims of drones in Pakistan, or civilians killed by the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition in Yemen." Oh, noes! We wouldn't be able to bomb children safely!

"Secret government electronic surveillance documents must be released, judge says: In a major victory for journalists and privacy and transparency advocates, a federal court has started the process of unsealing secret records related to the government's use of electronic surveillance. US District Court Judge Beryl Howell said at a hearing Friday morning that absent an objection by government attorneys, the court would post to its website next week a list of all case numbers from 2012 in which federal prosecutors in Washington, DC applied for an order to install a pen register or a trap and trace device. A pen register is an electronic apparatus that tracks phone numbers called from a specific telephone line (though the 2001 USA PATRIOT Act expanded the definition of pen register to allow for collection of email headers as well). A trap and trace device is similar, but tracks the phone numbers of incoming calls. [..;] Orders authorizing the use of a pen register are initially sealed to prevent tipping off the subject of the investigation that their communications are being monitored. However, courts rarely reexamine the need for continued secrecy after the investigation is closed. As a result, virtually all pen register applications and orders have remained hidden from public view years or even decades after the investigation has ended."

"Chelsea Manning Ends Hunger Strike, Will Get Gender Affirming Surgery

The ACLU has a case: "Police Accidentally Record Themselves Conspiring to Fabricate Criminal Charges Against Protester." A long time ago, before there were videocams, I watched some cops sit around casually trying to figure out what charge they could trump up against me right in front of me, without the slightest worry that they were doing so in front of a witness. This wasn't going to be easy, because they'd stopped a car for going five miles over the speed limit and I had been asleep in the back seat, so it would have been hard for me to be an accessory to the crime. Didn't stop me from spending three days in jail, though.

"Did You Know We Are Having the Largest Prison Strike in History? Probably Not, Because Most of the Media Have Ignored It: The prison strike didn't merit a single mention in NYT, Washington Post, NPR, CNN or MSNBC."

"Stephen A. Smith: Military Pays NFL To Make Players Stand For National Anthem: On ESPN's First Take, Stephen A. Smith blew the whistle on Jones' fake outrage by reporting that players were not mandated to stand until 2009. Until then, nobody stood for the anthem because players stayed in the locker room until it was time to come out on the field and play. He goes on to say that players were moved onto the field during the anthem as a marketing strategy to make them look more patriotic. Smith says that the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. National Guard paid the NFL more than $10 million combined to pull off the move."

Rick Perlstein, America's historian in The Washington Spectator, "Hillary's Reckless Off-Ramp Strategy [... The speech, I was dismayed to discover, proved quite popular among liberals, some of whom singled me out for not understanding the sublime cleverness of the 'off-ramp' Clinton had provided for indignant Republicans. After all, the person who wins the most votes wins the presidential election. (I know, I know, Mr. Gore, I mean usually wins the presidential election.) Additionally, a president with more friends in Washington has a better chance of advancing her agenda than one with fewer friends - and that, simply, was all Clinton's speech was about. But it's not so simple. For decades, the Democrats' Achilles' heel has been an obsession with strategizing to win this election, often at the expense of building strategic capacity to keep winning elections and control the agenda for the next several elections - and decades - to come. [...] But what's the harm? Don't right-wing grifters' votes count the same as horny-handed tillers of the soil? Won't the news that famous Republicans are breaking for Hillary help ordinary Republicans stomach the switch, too? It's not like Glassman is going to be her treasury secretary. Democrats have an election to win, and it's less than two months away - doesn't Team Clinton want to pile up as many supporters as it possibly can? The flaw in this argument is that it overlooks something: the potential problems come in the longer term. Large numbers of supporters of only glancing or provisional commitment to your governing agenda, shoehorned into your tent in time for Election Day, can become quite the liability for effectuating that agenda when it comes time to govern. Just ask Jimmy Carter. Carter was elected president in 1976 by riding a wave of disgust with untrustworthy government, a victory foreshadowed in 1974 by the election of a passel of what became known as Congress's 'Watergate Babies.' Many of these fresh-faced political youngsters retired as legendary liberal lions: Representatives George Miller and Henry Waxman, Senators Tom Harkin and Chris Dodd. A lot of them, however, were explicitly like Gary Hart." And Hart was the exemplar of the New Democrats. He even had a name for his stump speech: "The End of the New Deal." If you ever wondered how it was that the Republicans were suddenly able to sell their appalling, destructive - and widely hated - policies, Democrats like Hart are the ones you can blame.

The Guardian has a little report, "Because Scott Walker Asked: Leaked court documents from 'John Doe investigation' in Wisconsin lay bare pervasive influence of corporate cash on modern US elections [...] The prosecutors alleged in court filings published here for the first time that Walker's campaign found a way around these restrictions by banking the corporate cash through the third-party group, Wisconsin Club for Growth. WCfG describes itself as a 'pro-liberty, pro-fiscal restraint' organisation, sharing the same small government and anti-union ideology as Walker. It is a tax-exempt group, or 501 (c) (4), that is supposed to be primarily concerned with 'social welfare' rather than partisan politics and as such is not obliged to reveal its donors."

David Dayen introduces this Intercept series in a Facebook post: I've spent nearly a year working on a series of articles for The Intercept that we're calling The Penny Stock Chronicles. It follows Chris DiIorio, an institutional stock trader and analyst who loses over a million dollars in a penny stock. Wanting to understanding why, he researches this world and finds a web of short selling fraud, tax evasion, shell corporations, and money laundering. This was a very difficult story to write. The twists and turns are quite incredible. There's an entire market out there that everyone knows is suffused with corruption, but they have no idea about the extent of it. And though DiIorio's claims can be hyperbolic and should be judged on their own terms, the numbers he provided all check out. When he wrote Flash Boys, Michael Lewis said 'the market is rigged.' He didn't even know the half of it. Please give The Penny Stock Chronicles a read."

Those Biblical cities that God kept smiting? They all did what Bill Moyers is describing in "We, the People Versus We, the Wealthy: How did the United States become the land of the unequal - and how do we find our way back? [...] ? The Greek historian Plutarch is said to have warned that 'an imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of a Republic.' Yet as the Washington Post pointed out recently, income inequality may be higher at this moment than at any time in the American past. When I was a young man in Washington in the 1960s, most of the country's growth accrued to the bottom 90% of households. From the end of World War II until the early 1970s, in fact, income grew at a slightly faster rate at the bottom and middle of American society than at the top. In 2009, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez explored decades of tax data and found that from 1950 through 1980 the average income of the bottom 90% of Americans had grown, from $17,719 to $30,941. That represented a 75% increase in 2008 dollars."

Commenter CMike informs us that Matt Stoller says that "This is better policy analysis than 99% of news media." It's "The Conspiracy Behind Your Glasses by comedian Adam Conover.
* And while we're at it, Adam ruins Security Theater, too, with a surprise appearance from our pal Bruce.

"'Be Afraid': Largest Corporations Wealthier Than Most Countries: The power of corporations is so great within our society that they have undermined the idea that there is any other way to run society."

Chris Hedges on "The Courtiers and the Tyrants [...] The corporate elites failed to grasp that a functioning liberal class is the mechanism that permits a capitalist democracy to adjust itself to stave off unrest and revolt. They decided, not unlike other doomed elites of history, to eradicate the liberal establishment after they had eradicated the radical movements that created the political pressure for advancements such as the eight-hour workday and Social Security. [...] 'There hasn't been a single major piece of legislation advancing the health, safety and economic rights of the American people since 1974, arguably since 1976.'"

Bitter truth from The Onion: "Man Just Waiting Tables Until Fundamental Structure Of U.S. Economy Changes."

"How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat" - It still irritates me that I continue to run into people who think using butter and cream is more fattening and generally harmful to health than cereals packed with sugars - by which I don't just mean your Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs, but Quaker Oats.

Jeffrey Sterling in The Intercept, "I Was a CIA Whistleblower. Now I'm a Black Inmate. Here's How I See American Racism.: Call me naive, call me a dreamer, and I'll wear those monikers proudly because I still believe, even from prison, in this country and what it is supposed to stand for. Has that been my personal experience and what I've been seeing from prison? No. As merely one example, during my time in the CIA it became clear, in the organization's words and actions toward me, that they saw me not as an American who wanted to serve his country but as 'a big black guy.' But my dreams of America are far more enduring than a prison TV room mentality. There is a black America, there is a white America, there are many Americas. The greatness and promise of this country lies in equality reinforced by our differences rather than defined by them. My America is not a prison. For now, I'm confined to the black TV room at the Federal Correctional Institution in Englewood, Colorado. When I am free, I don't want to feel that I'm merely going from one prison to another."

"Bernie backer wins special Democratic primary: After losing the Democratic primary in Missouri's 78th District, Bruce Franks has won in a landslide after challenging the validity of the first primary. Franks won with more than 75 percent of the vote on Friday, a much greater margin than the 55 absentee votes he lost by in August. State Representative Penny Hubbard won that contest, however Franks filed suit, with the courts ruling that the city's board of elections mishandled at least 142 in-person absentee ballots. Franks will almost certainly be on his was to Missouri's state house, as the district leans heavily Democratic."
* I read this story, "Challengers beat two state representatives, primary winners in line for open seats", but I still can't tell whether the results were good or bad. They say the winners won "from the left", but there's nothing in there about what that means, and I'm not inspired to do the research to find out.

"Why the Deeply Held Ideas of the Nation's Most Elite Economists Were Direct Causes of Extreme Inequality [...] This is dismaying but it is important to understand that a fundamental mainstream idea was behind it. Generally, the reaction of the economic mainstream to the inflationary turmoil of the 1970s was to retreat to an ideological interpretation of their fundamental ideas - a doctrinaire reinforcement of laissez-faire economics. As Americans turned away from government, so did the economics profession. In regard to the financial markets, it boiled down to this. Free markets without government interference work too well to become dangerously unstable; therefore, no need to account for how a credit crisis might affect the real economy. It would correct itself too quickly to do damage."

Comedy from DNC lawyers when they file to dismiss the lawsuit against them from Sanders backers. "The DNC attorneys also get a bit creative in their effort to get this lawsuit thrown out. They claim that all of the named plaintiffs already knew that the DNC was biased when they donated - so therefore how could they have been duped if they knew? We are not joking, that was one of their actual claims in the motion to dismiss."

"What would Mother Jones do? Probably not bash idealistic young leftists: The left-of-center Mother Jones mag inexplicably is targeting the young people behind Bernie Sanders's movement." But perhaps MoJo is just doing what it's spent the last year-and-a-bit doing, which is promoting Clintonite memes, and Clinton's camp is doing what it always does, which is try to alienate real liberal progressives.

AWARE's video, "LGBTQ Rights Are Human Rights"

Ted Rall cartoon: The Clinton Campaign

I really don't know if it will get out the vote, but it was interesting to see all these people Joss Whedon collected together telling you to register to vote.

Refugee Crisis: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

"To beat airport security lines, famous British actor Michael Caine has changed his name to Michael Caine."

The US ambassador to Denmark is a rock star.

RIP: Dave Kyle (1919-2016), former Worldcon chair, founder of Gnome Press, probably the first SMOF, and revered long-time fan. He was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1983 Worldcon, where I ran fan programming, which was a bit of a problems since I simply did not know him well enough to figure out what would be the most appropriate sort of panels to build around him. I asked everyone I knew, including the committee members who'd chosen him as FGoH, and no one had any suggestions. So finally I told him if he had any ideas of what he would do with them, I could offer him six hours of programming time. He had ideas and, if I recall correctly, used all six hours. It seemed to go over really well.

"Stephen King Compares Donald Trump To Cthulhu; Cthulhu Issues Angry Denial: The Great Old One objects to being compared to the GOP presidential candidate."

"Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr were adorable at Eight Days a Week premiere."

NYT Corrections: "A picture caption on Sept. 4 with an article about Boulder, Colo., described a house in the city incorrectly. The house was the setting of the Mork and Mindy TV show, not the residence of the poet Allen Ginsberg."

This ad for Virgin TV entertained me.

A little late to the party, Avedon discovers Nolan Strong and the Diablos, a Detroit group with a really great tenor - and Doo-Wops. Here they are doing "Mind Over Matter".

From Pathé News, "The Beatles Come To Town - Two Stories - Technicolor & Techniscope (1963)" Gary Farber points out that it's "terrific early concert footage with complete songs; it's the first known color film to include sound of the band performing."

Monday, September 12, 2016

Billion-year-old carbon

Spencer Ackerman has a fascinating report in the Guardian, "Inside the fight to reveal the CIA's torture secrets" The first part of the inside story of the Senate investigation into torture, the crisis with the CIA it spurred and the man whose life would never be the same." He was part of the Senate investigation and he'd found a smoking gun. "There was one document in particular that proved it. Jones and his team had found it years before, placed mysteriously onto a shared computer network drive the Senate intelligence committee investigators were using in northern Virginia, not far from CIA headquarters. But they hadn't appreciated its full significance until the agency, in an attempt at refuting a report that was still far from publication, told Barack Obama's staff that the committee was pushing a hysterical interpretation of the agency's fateful post-9/11 embrace of torture. The document, prepared for Leon Panetta when he was CIA director, had reached the same conclusions about the torture program that Jones had. As long as Jones had it, he would be able to show that the agency knew full well how brutal the torture was; how ineffective its torturers considered it to be; and how thoroughly the CIA had covered all of that up. As long as Jones had the document, that is. Lurking in the back of his mind was the event that had led him to devote five years of ceaseless work, through nights and weekends: the CIA had already destroyed evidence of torture. It did that before the Senate had launched an investigation, and long before that investigation had turned acrimonious."
* Charlie Pierce says you should read it all. "This CIA Torture Story Is the Best Example of Our Post-9/11 Failings: Not that they'd listen to me or anything but, if I were the gang at the Pulitzer committee, I'd get a head start on putting Spencer Ackerman's name on the National Reporting plaque right now, just to save themselves the work next spring. Getting someone to talk on the record is the eternal jackpot of investigative reporting, and, in today's Guardian, Ackerman hits the Comstock Lode with Daniel Jones, who was the chief investigator for the Senate intelligence committee when that committee was looking into the practice of rendition and torture and the other extraconstitutional horrors perpetrated in our name by the late Avignon Presidency, and who also looked on in anger as the CIA worked overtime to ratfck the investigation and to bury its result. This is the first of a three-part series. I'd say that the extended weekend forecast calls for fury and outrage. [...] Nobody comes out of this report very well. Leon Panetta's reputation gets its bell rung pretty hard. John Brennan is exposed as somebody you wouldn't trust to park your car. And why, Mark Udall, why didn't you read the report into the Senate record after you lost re-election the way so many people begged you to do?

WaPo, "Inside the Republican creation of the North Carolina voting bill dubbed the 'monster' law" - I have no patience with the idea that it's okay to deprive American citizens of their right to vote as long as its purpose is merely to prevent people from voting for the other party, rather than to prevent black people from voting. It's still election-fixing and it should be a jailable offense.

"Distrust Of 2016'S Hackable Election Is A Media Landslide With Just One Solution: Hand-Counted Paper Ballots. ...] But the real threat to our election system comes from private for-profit corporations that register voters, control voter databases, then count and report the vote with secret proprietary software and zero transparency, accountability or recourse. After ignoring or attacking the reportage since Florida 2000 of Bev Harris, Greg Palast, freepress.org and numerous others, the corporate media seems finally to be getting the message: under the current system, any American election---even the one for president---can be stripped and flipped by a tiny handful of electronic hackers working anywhere from the Kremlin to a party HQ to a state governor's office to a teenager's garage."

"Jeremy Corbyn media coverage deliberately biased against him, British public believes: Perception of unfairness extends beyond supporters of Labour leader."

It was obvious this was going to happen, but Brazil's Senate voted to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff. Of course, they're a bunch of criminals who are far more corrupt than they've accused her of being, but never mind. I'm sure they're happy in Washington.

"This small Indiana county sends more people to prison than San Francisco and Durham, N.C., combined. Why? [...] If Mr. Gaddis had been caught 20 miles to the east, in Cincinnati, he would have received a maximum of six months in prison, court records show. In San Francisco or Brooklyn, he would probably have received drug treatment or probation, lawyers say. But Mr. Gaddis lived in Dearborn County, Ind., which sends more people to prison per capita than nearly any other county in the United States. After agreeing to a plea deal, he was sentenced to serve 12 years in prison."

"U.S. Denies Entry to Former British Ambassador Craig Murray: The U.S. government, for no stated reason, and after having approved his entry in the past, has denied Craig Murray the usual approval to enter the United States without a visa that is given to UK citizens. Craig Murray was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004."

"Hours Before Courtroom Showdown, Tribal Activists Shut Down Pipeline Construction: A federal judge is expected to rule later Tuesday on an emergency request for a restraining order filed in response to the holiday weekend desecration of sacred sites."

Wonkette, "God Spares Phyllis Schlafly Sight Of First Woman President."
* Corey Robin on Phyllis Schlafly, 1924-2016, quoting Catharine MacKinnon's words in debate with Schlafly: "Mrs. Schlafly tells us that being a woman has not gotten in her way. That she knows what she is saying because it happened to her. She could be one of the exceptional 7.8 percent, although who's to know? I do submit to you, though, that any man who had a law degree and had done graduate work in political science; had given testimony on a wide range of important subjects for decades; had done effective and brilliant political, policy, and organizational work within the party; had published widely, including nine books; was instrumental in stopping a major social initiative to amend the Constitution just short of victory dead in its tracks, and had a beautiful, accomplished family - any man like that would have a place in the current administration. Having raised six children, a qualification not many men can boast of (and if so probably with less good reason) did not make the difference. I would accept correction if I am wrong, and she may yet be appointed. She was widely reported to have wanted such a post, but I don't believe everything I read, especially about women. She certainly deserved a place in the Defense Department. Phyllis Schlafly is a qualified woman. I charge that the Reagan Administration has discriminated against Phyllis Schlafly on the basis of her sex."
* Los Angeles Times obituary for Schlafly, world's most famous anti-feminist.

"Four Ways Media Attack Organized Labor"

Thers chooses "the Worst University Administration Ever".

In our continuing coverage of the parade of Bad Dems the leadership has been foisting off on us, we see Blue Dogs and New Dems helping the GOP when "Friday House Conservatives Granted Private Equity Firms A License To Defraud Their Customers: OK, so now, what is this Investment Advisors Modernization Act of 2016? Modernization sounds good-- even progressive-- no? No, not in the Orwellian sense it's being used. Alan Grayson, who of course, voted against it, told us yesterday that "basically, the bill dictates to the SEC how to protect, or not to protect, investors. It repeals by statute investor-safety regulations that, in some cases, date back half a century."
* "Keep Track Of Who's Celebrating Victories By Wasserman Schultz And Patrick Murphy." Given how badly Murphy is polling against his Republican opposition, you'd think the Democratic Party would not be so happy.

"There's no such thing as a victimless billionaire" - A great line if ever I saw one, and the explanation for why the Kochs and their little friends are on the warpath to prevent people from voting, most notably by making claims of voter fraud. "Is there really a gigantic conspiracy of one million Democrats to vote twice, or is it a massive scheme to take away the votes of a million innocent people?" Innocent people whose names are on a list of people with similar names - names like Washington, Kim, and Garcia.

"U.S. Considers HSBC Charge That Could Upend 2012 Settlement: Prosecutors' fresh investigation of HSBC brings them closer to a step that has often been threatened but rarely taken -- tearing up a deferred-prosecution agreement if a company fails to walk the road of reform laid out by the Justice Department." This really should happen.

The Washington Post says, "A record number of Americans now dislike Hillary Clinton." Theories about how this has happened are mainly that: 1. The Republicans have been attacking her for 30 years; and 2. That mean old Bernie Sanders attacked her so viciously during the primaries. It's true that the Republicans have been attacking her for 30 years (they never forgave her for keeping her maiden name when she got married), but Sanders didn't attack Clinton, and if you want to see a vicious primary campaign, look no further than the Obama camp's antics in 2008, which were downright sickening. No, all Sanders did was disagree with Clinton's policies. And maybe some people just don't like them. But her popularity seems to be going down since the primaries ended, and, gosh, I wonder who is helping that? Could it be the "objective" media? After the NYT embarrassed themselves reporting a Trump speech in advance as being much like the sane pivot Trump's advance publicity said it would be (yes, stenography in the NYT, what a surprise) and it just plain wasn't, we now have an endless stream of false equivalence to beat the band. They can't bring themselves to call Trump what he is, but every innuendo about Clinton gets a big headline. The media just can't stop themselves - but it's all Bernie's fault that they've carried GOP water for 30 years.

On the other hand, watching Democratic partisans in the media in action inspired Matt Taibbi to say, "Why Vox's Matt Yglesias Should Go Back in Time and Unwrite Recent Column: A member of the press arguing against transparency?"
* And Marcy Wheeler on "The Misunderstandings of the Anti-Transparency Hillary-Exonerating Left"

"The Clinton Foundation's Problems Are Deeper Than You Think: But critics of the Clinton Foundation may want to think twice before casually paying tribute to the organization's tremendous good work. Most of the claims about the Foundation's efficacy have little basis in any actual reported facts. Instead, it is simply assumed that the organization has tremendous humanitarian accomplishments, without any serious inquiry into what these are. An examination of the actual available evidence, as opposed to the PR claims of the Foundation and its boosters, suggests the need for far greater skepticism about the organization's charitable acts in addition to its fundraising."

"The Unrelenting Pundit-Led Effort to Delegitimize All Negative Reporting About Hillary Clinton [...] That Donald Trump is an uber-nationalist, bigotry-exploiting demagogue and unstable extremist does not remotely entitle Hillary Clinton to waltz into the Oval Office free of aggressive journalistic scrutiny. Nor does Trump's extremism constitute a defense to anything that she's done. It is absolutely true that Trump has at least as many troublesome financial transactions and entangling relationships as the Clintons do: These donations to the Florida attorney general are among the most corrupt-appearing transactions yet documented. Even worse, Trump has shielded himself from much needed scrutiny by inexcusably refusing to release his tax returns, while much of the reporting about the Clintons is possible only because they have released theirs. All of that is important and should be highlighted. But none of it suggests that anything other than a bright journalistic light is appropriate for examining the Clintons' conduct. Yet there are prominent pundits and journalists who literally denounce every critical report about Clinton as unfair and deceitful, and band together to malign the reporters who scrutinize the Clintons' financial transactions. Those prominent voices combine with the million-dollar online army that supreme sleaze merchant David Brock has assembled to attack Clinton critics; as the Los Angeles Times reported in May: 'Clinton's well-heeled backers have opened a new frontier in digital campaigning, one that seems to have been inspired by some of the internet's worst instincts. Correct the Record, a Super PAC coordinating with Clinton's campaign, is spending some $1 million to find and confront social media users who post unflattering messages about the Democratic front-runner.'"

"Addictive painkiller profiteer donates $500k to fight cannabis legalization in Arizona: Insys Therapeutics, which profits off of a painkiller 50 times more potent than heroin, has donated $500,000 to a campaign opposing marijuana legalization in the US state of Arizona."

"The TSA is a waste of money that doesn't save lives and might actually cost them." On the bright side, it reminded me how much I prefer train travel.

People who claim to be "fiscally responsible" always seem to come up with ideas that cost more money than they pretend to be saving. "DWP fit-to-work assessments cost more money than they save, report reveals: Government will pay £1.6bn in next three years to private contractors who carry out controversial assessments The Government is spending more money assessing whether people are fit to work than it is saving in reductions to the benefits bill, a damning official report has revealed."

"This is Wrong and Bullshit and You Shouldn't Support It" - Brock Turner's slap on the hand for rape outrages a lot of people for a lot of reasons). John Cole: "But cheering armed mobs outside his house threatening castration and rape is illiberal, offensive, and obscene, not to mention unfair to his other neighbors."

Jared Bernstein is actually going easy here, but even he can see that the prez is talking bollocks: "The shortcomings of the Obama administration's latest pitch on the TPP."

"The human toll of America's public defender crisis: Years of drastic budget cuts have created bottomless caseloads for public defenders - the 'pack mules of the system' - and tipped the scales of justice against the poor. [...] In recent years the US has begun to reckon with its role as the world's biggest jailer, home to a manifestly unequal justice system that disproportionately punishes poor people of color. In diagnosing the causes of this problem much of the focus has centered on sentencing reform, but in a country where 95% of criminal cases are settled by plea deal, little attention has been given to the critical state of indigent defense. Around the US, defenders routinely report an increase in overburdening and underfunding, caused by a variety of structural, political and economic drivers."
* "For Louisiana's defenseless poor, it's one for all: Meet Rhonda Covington, the last line of defense for thousands in need of an attorney in a forgotten corner of rural Louisiana"

Barry Eisler at BoingBoing, "How To Be At War Forever."

Ian Welsh on the curious fact that J.K Rowling prefers Blairism to Corbynism, in two charts.

In the LAT, "Too poor to retire and too young to die" - What do you do when you're 79 and can't afford to quit working?

Having obsessed on the subject for 15 years, your Talking Dog did not let this anniversary go by without writing his "homily" for 9/11. He used the word homily, I wouldn't.
* Ray McGovern on what happened and what didn't happen and what it all must mean. There's a lot of information in this, and I recommend you listen to it all.
* Seeing all the various stories around commemorating 9/11, I couldn't help remembering how uninterested the Bush administration had been in security against terrorism. And Al Franken's chapter on Operation Ignore.

"Guac the Vote"

"Teaching 'grit' is bad for children, and bad for democracy [...] There is a time and place for grit. However, praising grit as such makes no sense because it can often lead to stupid or mean behavior. Duckworth's book is filled with gritty people doing things that they, perhaps, shouldn't."

"Warner Bros. Demands Copyright Takedown Of Its Own Websites." Gee, maybe these big entertainment industry types have gotten a bit carried away.

It is devoutly to be hoped that if even her worshippers have lost faith in Michelle Rhee, we will finally be rid of this national nightmare.

"All Ideas Are Second-Hand: Mark Twain's Magnificent Letter to Helen Keller About the Myth of Originality"

Charlie Stross, "Sometimes I don't know why I bother! The trouble with writing fiction is that, as a famous novelist once said, reality is under no compulsion to make sense or be plausible. Those of us who make stuff up are constantly under threat of having our best fictional creations one-upped by the implausibility of real events. I'm pretty much resigned to this happening, especially with the Laundry Files stories: at least space opera and fantasy aren't as prone to being derailed as fiction set in the near-present. But there's a subtle corollary to the impossibility of story-telling keeping up with reality, and that's the point that it is also pretty much impossible to invent protagonists who can keep up with reality."

Get your Then t-shirts here.

"These Ridiculous Propaganda Postcards Warn Men about the Dangers of Women's Rights from the Early 20th Century."

"The 10 Best Photographs Ever Taken Without Photoshop"

"25 Extremely Beautiful Minerals And Stones"

Maia recently took some lovely photos at an exhibition of glass sculptures.

Good Harvest performing "Woodstock"

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

And I'm sure they meant you could be president

Ray McGovern, "A Lawless Plan to Target Syria's Allies: On Aug. 17, TV interviewer Charlie Rose gave former acting CIA Director Michael Morell a 'mulligan' for an earlier wayward drive on Aug. 8 that sliced deep into the rough and even stirred up some nonviolent animals by advocating the murder of Russians and Iranians. But, alas, Morell duffed the second drive, too. Morell did so despite Rose's efforts to tee up the questions as favorably as possible, trying to help Morell explain what he meant about 'killing' Russians and Iranians in Syria and bombing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into submission. [...] Not to put too fine a point on this, but everything that Morell is advocating here violates international law, the rules that - in other circumstances, i.e. when another government is involved - the U.S. government condemns as 'aggression' or as an 'invasion' or as 'terrorism.'" And it looks like there may be a place for him in Clinton's government, too.

"A Congressman Campaigns to 'Stop the Madness' of U.S. Support for Saudi Bombing in Yemen: For months, a California congressman has been trying to get Obama administration officials to reconsider U.S. backing for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. And for months, he has been given the runaround. Ted Lieu, a Democrat representing Los Angeles County, served in the Air Force and is a colonel in the Air Force Reserves. The brutal bombing of civilian areas with U.S.-supplied planes and weapons has led him to act when most of his colleagues have stayed silent. 'I taught the law of war when I was on active duty,' he told The Intercept. 'You can't kill children, newlyweds, doctors and patients - those are exempt targets under the law of war, and the coalition has been repeatedly striking civilians,' he said. 'So it is very disturbing to me. It is even worse that the U.S. is aiding this coalition.'"

"Is Angela Corey the Cruelest Prosecutor in America? The woman who failed to convict Trayvon Martin's killer is putting hundreds of kids in prison, and dozens of people on death row."

"Cop Shoots and Kills Unarmed Deaf Man as He Tries to Communicate Using Sign Language."

"Man Sues Surveillance Company for Spying on His Conversations With Married Woman: And the legal implications are as far-reaching as affecting if it's legal for your boss to spy on you at work."

"Obama's TPP campaign could drag down Democrats: How much is President Obama willing to harm the Democratic Party in order to win approval for the deeply unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) 'trade' agreement? We may soon find out."

David Dayen, "The Big Problem With The Trans-Pacific Partnership's Super Court That We're Not Talking About: Financiers will use it to bet on lawsuits, while taxpayers foot the bill."

The Nation, "How Obama Helped Lay the Groundwork for Trump's Thuggery: His refusal to prosecute torturers and his Wild West assassination of bin Laden show how moral complacency can all too easily degenerate into full-blown corruption."

Rolling Stone, "The GOP's Stealth War Against Voters: Will an anti-voter-fraud program designed by one of Trump's advisers deny tens of thousands their right to vote in November?"

"Report shows that Army took away gun from Dallas cop shooter Micah Johnson: A sergeant who supervised Micah Johnson, the man who killed five Dallas police officers in July, told the Army that his gun should be taken from him in 2014 because he posed a potential threat, according to a newly released Army investigation."

"U.S. Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business: The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries. Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian's annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget."

"One year on, Russia's war in Syria is hardly a 'quagmire': US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan got bogged down by ambitious goals. In Syria, Russia has kept it simple and is gaining in influence in the region because of it."

"WikiLeaks Reveals How the US Aggressively Pursued Regime Change in Syria, Igniting a Bloodbath: On August 31, 2013, US president Barack Obama announced that he intended to launch a military attack on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack in that country that the US blamed on the Syrian government. Obama assured the US public that this would be a limited action solely intended to punish the Assad government for using chemical weapons; the goal of US military action would not be to overthrow the Assad government, nor to change the balance of forces in Syria's sectarian civil war. [...] The cables gave the public a recent window into the strategies and motivations of US officials as they expressed them to each other, not as they usually expressed them to the public. In the case of Syria, the cables show that regime change had been a long-standing goal of US policy; that the US promoted sectarianism in support of its regime-change policy, thus helping lay the foundation for the sectarian civil war and massive bloodshed that we see in Syria today; that key components of the Bush administration's regime-change policy remained in place even as the Obama administration moved publicly toward a policy of engagement; and that the US government was much more interested in the Syrian government's foreign policy, particularly its relationship with Iran, than in human rights inside Syria."

Marcy Wheeler, "Breaking from Saudi Arabia!!! Two-Month-Old Misleading News [...] From that headline, particularly the use of the present tense, you might assume that the US is in the process of withdrawing its Yemen-related staff from Saudi Arabia, perhaps in response to the Saudi war crimes earlier this week. But here's what the story actually reports: the staff withdrawal happened in June, and was in no way a response to this week's war crimes."
* "Breaking: Russians Claim They've Found Extraterrestrial Life to Tamper with Our Elections."

"The real reason Washington calls Putin a thug"

"US Soldiers Are Relying on Millions of Dollars in Food Stamps to Survive [...] For years, the military has been embarrassed by reports showing that some active-duty service members struggle to feed their families and use government benefits to get by. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Department of Defense (DoD) does not fully understand the scope of the problem." Frankly, this article doesn't go far enough - members of the military are being charged for things they should be getting for free, to begin with.

Dean Baker, "Fixing Obamacare: The Democrats Have to Talk About It [...] If we are going to see the problems with the ACA addressed, Democrats will have to start talking about the program and explaining what it has done in ensuring that people have health care. If people understand what the ACA is, they are likely to want to protect it, just as millions now rush to the defense of Medicare whenever it is threatened."

The New Republic, "The Anti-Democratic Urge: With populism on the rise in both parties, it has become fashionable for elites to bash the masses. But we need more democracy, not less. [...] In reality, our political system is far less democratic than it was a generation ago. Over the past 40 years, we've seen unions crushed, welfare gutted, higher education defunded, prisons packed to overflowing, voting rights curbed, and the rich made steadily richer while wages stagnated. It's not the frustration of the people that should terrify us, but rather the legitimate sources of their frustration, which have so long gone unaddressed. Regular citizens struggling to make ends meet have almost nowhere to turn, nothing to join. We shouldn't wonder that so many voters have seized on this election to make a statement, even a nihilistic one. To insist that the only solution is for the people to get back in line is to refuse to acknowledge that the 'establishment' bears any responsibility for the conditions that created the public's outrage in the first place.

"Liberal Hate for the Green Party: Liberals have joined Hillary Clinton's 'big nasty tent' in a very big way. They have moved far beyond the usual rationales for sticking with the Democrats and are now carrying on a full-fledged hate fest. Their targets are Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka, who is also a Black Agenda Report editor and columnist."

It's really worth listening to Sam Seder's interview with Carol Anderson: White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, much as it will make you feel the outrage all over again - and there are probably a couple of things you didn't know about, too. But most of all, she ties it all together neatly.

Great segment from John Oliver on Charter Schools.

"The Real Reason Middle America Should Be Angry: Like many 'flyover' cities, St. Louis's decline is not mainly a story of deindustrialization, but of decisions in Washington that opened the door to predatory monopoly."

"Virgin Trains controversy 'has helped Jeremy Corbyn's leadership bid'" - All Corbyn had to do was mention being on a crowded train and the press seems to have gotten excited, but I was more interested in this: Corbyn also said he would support a private members' bill tabled by Labour backbencher Margaret Greenwood aimed at unpicking the internal market in the NHS. That approach received support from David Owen, former Labour health secretary and one of the founders of the Social Democratic party. 'For the first time in 14 years we have the leader of the Labour party today unequivocally committing the party to reversing the legislation which has created in England a broken down market-based healthcare system,' Lord Owen said. 'Surely now the whole Labour movement can combine together, left, right and centre to make this official party policy at this year's autumn conference.'" Yes, you'd think they could at least agree on that. I mean, that's David Owen, who isn't exactly famous as part of Labour's left.

"NPR Host Demands That Assange Do Something Its Own Reporters Are Told Never to Do" In a ten-minute interview aired Wednesday morning, NPR's David Greene asked Wikileaks founder Julian Assange five times to reveal the sources of the leaked information he has published on the internet. A major tenet of American journalism is that reporters protect their sources. Wikileaks is certainly not a traditional news organization, but Greene's persistent attempts to get Assange to violate confidentiality was alarming, especially considering that there has been no challenge to the authenticity of the material in question.

Carl Beijer reviews the latest embarrassing Twitter moment: "Why Neera Tanden's notepad gaffe is so hilarious"

On how Gawker has been sued out of existence, Tom Scocca says, "Gawker Was Murdered by Gaslight. [...] "Gawker always said it was in the business of publishing true stories. Here is one last true story: You live in a country where a billionaire can put a publication out of business. A billionaire can pick off an individual writer and leave that person penniless and without legal protection. If you want to write stories that might anger a billionaire, you need to work for another billionaire yourself, or for a billion-dollar corporation. The law will not protect you. There is no freedom in this world but power and money."

"Why Trump voters are not 'complete idiots' [...] Trump voters may not vote the way I want them to, but after having spent the last five years working in (and having grown up in) parts of the US few visit, they are not dumb. They are doing whatever any other voter does: Trying to use their vote to better their particular situation (however they define that). Labeling them dumb is simply a way of not trying to understand their situation, or what they value."

"Why Poor People Stay Poor: Saving money costs money. Period." The article is a couple years old, but it bears repeating.

"How Veterans Are Losing the War at Home: A friend of mine, a Vietnam vet, told me about a veteran of the Iraq War who, when some civilian said, 'Thank you for your service,' replied: 'I didn't serve, I was used.' That got me thinking about the many ways today's veterans are used, conned, and exploited by big gamers right here at home." And the Koch brothers themselves are making a tidy profit sucking up VA money to keep right on using them.

"This week in the war on workers: Black Lives Matter and the NAACP say no to more charter schools."

"Inmates Made Thousands Of Unsafe Helmets For U.S. Troops: After multiple investigations, the Department of Justice found that a company that employed prisoners to build U.S. military helmets produced thousands of defective products, putting combat soldiers at risk. The Office of Inspector General worked with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Army to expose poor manufacturing practices by a company that paid inmates to make military helmets for the Department of Defense."

"In States Like Tennessee, Private Prisons Will Survive Obama Administration: On August 18, the same day the Department of Justice announced it would seek to end its private prison contracts, an inmate died at a Corrections Corporation of America facility in Tennessee, where she was denied proper medical treatment after she was attacked by other inmates." The facility holds a number of federal prisoners, but the contract is with the state, not the fed, so it may continue.

Dahlia Lithwick on "Leavenworth's Spygate: A private prison facility in Kansas was spying on constitutionally protected attorney-client conversations. [...] Amid this news, it was easy to miss the story out of the Leavenworth Detention Center in Kansas, in which a private prison system appears to have been committing a broad and systematic violation of the constitutional rights of its inmates. That federal private prison, operated by Corrections Corporation of America, was secretly videotaping conversations between prisoners and their lawyers and also allegedly recording audio of some phone calls between prisoners and their attorneys, then handing over some of the information from those recordings to state prosecutors. Corrections Corporation of America, which manages 85 facilities all over the country, appears to have basically been engaging in a widespread fishing expedition for evidence gleaned from secret videotapes - evidence they then handed off to prosecutors without the knowledge of prisoners nor their lawyers."

RIP: "Gene Wilder: a comic enigma whose genius shone brightest in collaboration" - of complications related to Alzheimer's, at 83.
* I don't expect anyone could get away with this ever again, but I still think it was hilarious.

"Obamacare's Faltering for One Simple Reason: Profit: There have been dozens if not hundreds of news articles about Aetna leaving the Affordable Health Care Act's online marketplaces in eleven states, and whether this signals serious problems for Obamacare down the road. But none of them have truly explained that what's happening with Aetna is the consequence of a flaw built into Obamacare from the start: It permits insurance companies to make a profit on the basic healthcare package Americans are now legally required to purchase. This makes Obamacare fundamentally different from essentially all systems of universal healthcare on earth. (There is one tiny exception, the Netherlands, but of the four insurance companies that cover 90 percent of Dutch citizens, just one is for profit.)"

"So You Think You Can Take Over the Democratic Party? With the nominating process now behind us, the question for supporters of Bernie Sanders both unwavering and critical is simple: What is to be done now?"

"Why Is Maddow In The Bag For #DebtTrapDebbie Wasserman Schultz?"

Alan Grayson: Dem Party Essentially "Money Laundering" For Donors

"Donald Trump is a Fascist: Whether Donald Trump is a full-fledged fascist or 'merely' a proto-fascist depends on which historian's definition of fascism you prefer." An eight-part series (scroll down to get to the first part).

"The Real Way the 2016 Election Is Rigged: Despite what the media tells you, the Democrats will not take the House in November. Here's why."

"What Does It Mean When War Hawks Say 'Never Trump'? The enemies of my enemy may be war criminals."

"20 Years Later, Poverty Is Up, But Architects of 'Welfare Reform' Have No Regrets."

Corey Robin on "How Clinton Enables the Republican Party: I've been saying that one of the problems with the 'Trump is like no Republican we've ever seen before' line is that it prevents us from consigning the Republican Party to the oblivion it deserves. In making Trump sui generis, by insisting that he is an utter novelty, you allow the rest of the party to distance themselves from him, to make him extreme and themselves respectable, and to regroup after November."

"Ross Perot, Last American Leftist [...] Agents of Influence ultimately inspired Perot's whole political career - and gave Choate a second act as a senior campaign adviser commonly called 'Perot's brain.' And to their combined credit, Perot's brain on matters of substance remained remarkably lucid, consistent and focused during the surreal and volatile four years that followed. Sure, he had some odd personal notions about a GOP plot to crash his daughter's wedding, but his political convictions were unflappable. He spent all of seven words - 'I think this is a woman's decision' - on abortion, blaming failing infrastructure and the weak economy for the 'breakdown of the family' that preoccupied the culture warriors of the day. And while he often invoked the menace of debt and deficits on the campaign trail, it was always as a byproduct of the trade deficit he sought to attack with a robust Japan-style industrial policy."

"Why the Deeply Held Ideas of the Nation's Most Elite Economists Were Direct Causes of Extreme Inequality: As Americans turned away from government, so did the economics profession." Could these people really have had no idea of the damage they were doing? Surely it's obvious why so many people had hated those policies in the past and done their best to prevent them. It's hard to believe that the destruction of our economy is a bug rather than a feature.

Brad DeLong can still adhere to economic models that make no sense, but nevermind. As Norman Mailer explained long ago, the Elitemigration happened when smart Republicans took over the Democratic Party. No, really. "It's not like that faith is gone with the wind. Someone still vehemently believes in all those classic Chamber of Commerce GOP things, plus trade deals and outsourcing (with social liberalism, too, in a minor difference); someone still hates the economic left with religious and eliminationist intensity; someone still praises business, growth, deregulation with sunshiney Reaganite enthusiasm and in total denial of the persistent corruption, failure, and moral bankruptcy of same; and that someone is the current neoliberal Democratic Party elite, of which Brad DeLong is a prominent member." I hate to admit it, but Mailer was way ahead of me: "The Republicans said to themselves, 'we're in terrible trouble, they're on to us, we've...got to send a few of our best people into the Democratic Party and get them to run it' sort of as undercover people all these years. And I think they've succeeded. Look at the results."

"Hillary Clinton's Not-So-New, Not-So-Worker-Friendly Economic Plan : Hillary Clinton unveiled her "new" economic plan to much fanfare--but it looks an awful lot like someone else's old program."

"The Scourge of Neoliberalism: Why the Democratic Party Is Failing the Poor: When Democrats began their rightward lurch in the late 1960's, they were not content to merely broaden their coalition in order to quell the rise of the ultra-reactionary right; they have been concerned, also, with preventing left-wing insurgencies that could spook their patrons and push the party left."

"During Obama's Presidency Wealth Inequality has Increased and Poverty Levels are Higher [...] Despite the last few years of 'recovery,' the share of wealth held by the bottom 50% of the U.S. population declined from 1.15% in 2010 to 1.05% in 2013. This is less than half of where it stood in 2007, before the great recession, when the share of the country's wealth held by the poorest 50% of the population was at 2.5%."

Rick Perlstein on "Hillary's GOP Sympathies: Don't save the Speaker - let him go down with the Trump ship. When your opponent is drowning, the old saying goes, throw him an anvil. Is Hillary Clinton throwing hers a life raft instead?"

Lee Camp interviews economist Richard D. Wolff

"There Will Be No Second American Revolution: The Futility of an Armed Revolt [...] There is no place in our nation for the kind of armed revolution our forefathers mounted against a tyrannical Great Britain. Such an act would be futile and tragic. We are no longer dealing with a distant, imperial king but with a tyrant of our own making: a militarized, technologized, heavily-financed bureaucratic machine that operates beyond the reach of the law.

"Sci-fi author Haldeman on whether a 'Forever War' movie will happen." There isn't really any surprising content in the article, but I do remember that day when Joe walked up to me in the bar looking stunned, having just met Heinlein and having him enthuse about how he'd enjoyed The Forever War. Joe had felt the book was a retort to Starship Troopers, so that was a bit unexpected.

What I found most interesting about "Few quick thoughts on Brexit" was that Arnade focuses somewhat on Emile Durkheim, but never really spells out what may have been Durkheim's most important revelation: that the rate of suicide in a society is a response to the society. Presumably, there will always be people who would kill themselves regardless of how much they are offered by society, but when rates of suice go up, it's not an individual illness or problem, it's something the society is doing to its people. Suicide is up in America, and our government's decisions are what is killing them.

In "Soul of A New (Political) Machine," Anne Laurie says, "I am personally pro-machine, both out of filial piety (my Irish grandparents owed their livelihoods to Tammany Hall) and because the known alternatives are so much worse. Perhaps the concept is due for revival, as the retro vintage artisanal alternative to the kleptocrats of our Second Gilded Age? Are we sophisticated enough, technologically or socially, to harness the machines' benefits without the corruption for which they were infamous?"

"Nobody talks about the fact that Taylor Swift is Jewish. Here's why it matters."

What's the difference between a hijab, niqab and burka?
* Ann Telneas: "Men: Stop telling women what to wear."

"The Complete Inverse of Man of Steel, in One Perfect Image"

Rimshot

Here Are Some Words That Seem Like They Should Be Related But Actually Aren't at All

The Beatles, live TV concert, 7 December 1963

50 years ago, the Beatles played their last concert, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Ben Folds, "Capable of Anything"

Sunday, August 21, 2016

We gave her everything money could buy

"Obama puts Congress on notice: TPP is coming: The White House put Congress on notice Friday morning that it will be sending lawmakers a bill to implement President Barack Obama's landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement - a move intended to infuse new energy into efforts to ratify the flat-lining trade pact. The move establishes a 30-day minimum before the administration can present the legislation, but the White House is unlikely to do so amid the heated rhetoric of a presidential campaign in which both major party nominees have depicted free trade deals as massive job killers. Friday's notification is the clearest signal yet that the White House is serious about getting Obama's legacy trade deal - the biggest in U.S. history - passed by the end of the year, as he has vowed to do despite the misgivings of Republican leaders and the outright opposition of a majority of Democrats in Congress." I was pretty sure as soon as Hillary started using stronger anti-TPP language that she knew Obama was going to push for it to be a done deal in the lame duck and ostensibly take it out of her hands.
* "Sanders to Democrats: Rule out lame-duck vote on trade deal: It is now time for the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate and the House to join Secretary Clinton and go on the record in opposition to holding a vote on this job-killing trade deal during the lame-duck session of Congress and beyond."
* "Liberals rally to sink Obama trade deal: Liberals are amping up their opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on and off of Capitol Hill, amid escalating concerns that the package will get an 11th hour vote after the November elections. Republican leaders in both chambers have said it's unlikely the mammoth Pacific Rim trade deal will reach the floor this year. But the accord remains a top priority for President Obama in the twilight of his final term, and the critics - leery of pro-TPP members in both parties - aren't taking anything for granted."

Bless you, Zephyr Teachout! David Dayen in The New Republic, "Debate the Billionaires! What do you do as a politician when billionaire plutocrats drop millions of dollars into a super PAC dedicated to ending your career? Democrats will need to answer this question, and fast. As desperation sets in with the Donald Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee is considering cutting its losses and re-directing funds to save the Republican majorities in the House and Senate. And right-wing super PAC helmsmen, from the Koch Brothers to Karl Rove, have been training their eye on Congress for months. This means dozens of Democrats will likely see attack ads and mailers blanketing their districts this October. One candidate has come up with a plan to deal with this, and it could become a model for how to, at least, raise awareness of the effort by Big Money to effectively buy congressional races. Zephyr Teachout, a progressive populist hoping to take over an open seat in upstate New York currently held by the GOP, has challenged her opponent to a debate. Not the Republican candidate, but his wealthy super PAC donors. [...] 'We can't let billionaire donors buy off politicians and get away with being faceless names on a filing,' Teachout told me. 'People deserve to know who's trying to take away their right to choose their representatives.'"

"Fox, Meet Henhouse: FDA Says Food Makers Can Decide Which Food Additives Are Safe: If you want proof that our food system is corporate-friendly rather than consumer-friendly, putting consumer health at unnecessary risk, take a look at the FDA's Final Rule on Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), which was released last Friday. It's a doozy. The agency announced it will continue to allow food manufacturers to decide whether new food additives that preserve, flavor, blend or add texture to food can be safely added to processed food or drink. Yes, you read that correctly. The food company, which may have a financial interest in using the food additive, gets to decide its safety while the FDA does not have to do a review."

"US justice department announces it will end use of private prisons: [...] Yates said in her memo that research had found private prisons 'simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources' and 'do not save substantially on costs' either. Essential government education and training programs for prisoners 'have proved difficult to replicate and outsource' in the private sector, she said. The decision was announced days after the Department of Justice's inspector general released a damning investigation report. It found instances of inmate-on-inmate assaults were 28% higher in contract prisons than in government-run facilities, and that the confiscation of contraband mobile phones occurred eight times more frequently. Federal inmates in private prisons were found to be nine times more likely to be placed on lockdown than those at other federal prisons, and were frequently subjected to arbitrary solitary confinement." Well, yes, all the things we warned against, not to mention the creation of a powerful lobbying industry that has, among other things, sucked up precious state funds as well, made more things crimes, and increased the likelihood that kids who normally might have had nothing worse than detention to deal with suddenly ended up being dragged out in cuffs and incarcerated. The very idea that "the Land of the Free" actually allowed a private prison system is unbearably shameful. Unfortunately, it's not only the federal government that's been playing this game, and the states are still riddled with this corrupt system.

"The Justice Department's stunning report on the Baltimore Police Department [...] As you might expect, all of these problems are exacerbated in black neighborhoods, where stops, use of force and unlawful arrests are far more common, even after controlling for racial demographics. There's also just routine harassment. One officer told DOJ investigators that she likes to disperse (usually black) youths in public spaces because it 'looks bad.' She recalled another time when she told a man and his four-year-old son to leave a playground because they 'couldn't just stand around' and 'needed to move.' [...] In fact, the report found that officers routinely described clearly unconstitutional stops and arrests in their police reports. I suppose it's at least good that they're forthcoming about it. But it suggests either a department that doesn't bother educating its officers about the constitutional rights of the people they serve, or that enforcement of those rights is so lax that officers have no qualms about documented their own unconstitutional behavior. I'm not sure which is worse. [...] Just so we're clear, the sergeant not only instructed a subordinate to violate the men's constitutional rights by concocting a lie, he did so while knowingly in the presence of DOJ monitors. That's some serious cultural and institutional rot. In another incident, the report describes how several officers detained a man whose only offense was to be in a 'high-crime area' with his hands in his pockets. (The DOJ report notes that it happened to be a cold January morning.) After repeated questioning, the officers found a (perfectly legal) kitchen knife in his possession. They then illegally arrested him. When he resisted, they beat and Tased him to the point that he needed medical care. He was never charged with a crime. In his report, the supervising sergeant praised the officers for their 'great restraint and professionalism.'"
* "Everything Wrong With How Our Justice System Treats Poor People, In One Awful Case" - Well, not everything, but it's a pretty big thing.

"At Least 20 Casualties in Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Yemen: A Saudi-led coalition airstrike hit a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in Yemen's northern Hajja province on Monday, Reuters reports. At least seven people were killed and 13 wounded."
* Marcy Wheeler, "Six Years Later, the US Continues to Facilitate Saudi War Crimes."

"Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace: In a stunning diplomatic surprise, Turkey and Iran have announced a preliminary agreement on fundamental principles for a settlement of the Syrian conflict. The dramatic turn in the diplomacy of the Syria War was revealed in Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim's regular weekly speech to the ruling AKP Party in the parliament and confirmed by a senior Iranian foreign ministry official Tuesday. Both Yildirim's speech and the Iranian corroboration were reported Tuesday by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Al-Hayat, Arabic-language newspapers published in London, but the potentially pivotal development has been unreported thus far in Western news media."

"Feds can't spend money to prosecute people who comply with state medical pot laws, court rules: A U.S. appeals court decided unanimously Tuesday that the federal government may not prosecute people who grow and distribute medical marijuana if they are complying with state laws. Congress in the last two years has banned the federal government from spending money in ways that would thwart state medical marijuana laws. The U.S. Department of Justice contended the ban did not undermine its right to prosecute growers and distributors under federal law, even in states where medical cannabis was legal. But in the first federal appellate decision on the subject, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban prevents the government from spending money on prosecutions of people whose marijuana activities were legal in their states."

Big health insurers are pulling out of Obamacare in spite of its giveaway to them. Apparently, they just can't cope with the meager requirement that they actually do at least a little insuring. But Aetna is actually doing it as blackmail. The Wall Street Journal says, "To Sanders, Aetna's Pull-Back from Affordable Care Act Markets Shows Need for Overhaul: Sen. Bernie Sanders, who mounted a strong challenge for the Democratic presidential nomination, said Tuesday that news that a major health insurer was pulling back its participation in the Affordable Care Act exchanges affirms the need for his single-payer, government-run program. He promised to introduce legislation creating 'Medicare for all' again next year. This week, Aetna Inc. said it will withdraw from 11 of the 15 states where it currently offers plans, the latest major national insurer to sharply pull back its participation."

"Hillary Clinton Appoints Ken Salazar To Lead White House Transition. Salazar is a prime example of a revolving-door traveler of the very kind that Clinton purports to oppose. And, "In November, Salazar authored a joint oped with former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt saying 'The TPP is a strong trade deal that will level the playing field for workers to help middle-class families get ahead. It is also the greenest trade deal ever.' Politico reports that Salazar is now opposing a ballot measure designed to restrict fracking in his home state of Colorado. He has previously asserted that 'there's not a single case where hydraulic fracking has created an environmental problem for anyone.'
* "Hillary Clinton Picks TPP and Fracking Advocate To Set Up Her White House.TWO BIG ISSUES dogged Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) and fracking. She had a long history of supporting both. Under fire from Bernie Sanders, she came out against the TPP and took a more critical position on fracking. But critics wondered if this was a sincere conversion or simply campaign rhetoric. Now, in two of the most significant personnel moves she will ever make, she has signaled a lack of sincerity. She chose as her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine, who voted to authorize fast-track powers for the TPP and praised the agreement just two days before he was chosen. And now she has named former Colorado Democratic Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to be the chair of her presidential transition team - the group tasked with helping set up the new administration should she win in November. That includes identifying, selecting, and vetting candidates for over 4,000 presidential appointments."
* "Progressive Clinton supporters: You broke it, you bought it: With Donald Trump tanking in the polls, there's room for progressives to simultaneously crush his bid for the presidency while holding Hillary Clinton's feet to the fire on the TPP. She's now appointed two pro-TPP politicians to key positions on her campaign - Tim Kaine as her Vice President and Ken Salazar to lead her presidential transition team. It's time for progressives who helped Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in the primary to take the lead on holding her accountable. Progressives who supported Clinton in the primary should use their leverage to ensure Clinton makes good on her vow to stop TPP and keep other promises she made on the campaign trail to win progressive votes. Bernie supporters will have your back, but it's up to you to lead on this one."

Pierce: "Why Is Hillary Clinton Bragging About This Endorsement? A recurring series. In her continuing tour of the dingier side of the 20th Century American diplomatic elite, Hillary Rodham Clinton picked up the endorsement on Wednesday of one John Negroponte." Sam Seder thinks the news was released by some younger person in the campaign who didn't know who Negroponte was. Let's hope that's true, but it seems like Clinton has been courting these endorsements.

In the face of continuing charges of corruption about what appears to have been a little too much horse-trading between foreign donors and Hillary Clinton's state department, we get the announcement that the "Clinton Foundation won't accept foreign money if Hillary wins". But even Jonathan Chait can see that "Hillary Clinton's Ethics Problems Are Worse Than She Understands," although he is still making excuses. Yes, it's particularly short-sighted for someone who knows she has been under a microscope for decades to do something that looks so corrupt, but no one should be acting with such an overt conflict, regardless of who them are.

"Federal judge refers Sheriff Joe Arpaio for criminal contempt: A federal judge on Friday referred Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and three of his aides to the U.S. Attorney's Office, requesting that they be prosecuted for criminal contempt of court. The landmark decision comes after U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow found that Arpaio intentionally violated various orders rooted in an 8-year-old racial-profiling case. The judge's order also refers Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan, Arpaio's former defense attorney Michele Iafrate, and Capt. Steve Bailey for prosecutors to consider criminal contempt charges against them as well. The sheriff and Sheridan already have been held in civil contempt of court. Potential penalties are steeper in a criminal case, and only criminal contempt could result in incarceration." This should have happened a long time ago and should end up with Arpaio in jail. We'll be watching.

Whistleblower Retaliation Alive and Well at Hanford: It's getting real out at Hanford in eastern Washington, the site of the most expensive (and likely dangerous) environmental clean-up in the world. On July 21, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, along with watchdog group Hanford Challenge and UA Local Union 598 Plumbers and Steamfitters, filed an emergency legal motion asking US Judge Thomas Rice to intervene and force the US Department of Energy and federal contractor Washington River Protection Solutions to protect their workers from toxic vapor exposure at the site. [...] Allegedly, that 'culture of indifference' is what got Sandra Black, an employee concerns program manager (ECP), fired in January 2015. Black, who worked for DOE contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), was in charge of hearing out grievances raised by workers who have safety concerns, such as those working at Hanford. Black claims that she was terminated after speaking to investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO)."

"The Raid: In Bungled Spying Operation, NSA Targeted Pro-Democracy Campaigner." He had committed no crime, but "Ony Fullman is a middle-aged former tax man and a pro-democracy activist. But four years ago, a botched operation launched by New Zealand spies meant he suddenly found himself deemed a potential terrorist - his passport was revoked, his home was raided, and he was placed on a top-secret National Security Agency surveillance list."

"4 Years Later, Sweden Accepts Ecuador's Offer to Hear Assange: More than four years after Ecuador offered Swedish authorities the opportunity to interview Julian Assange in the nation's London Embassy, a deal appears to have been struck Wednesday after Ecuador's attorney general responded positively to a request from the Swedish government to interview the WikiLeaks founder in the building. [...] The WikiLeaks founder entered his fifth year inside the Ecuadorean Embassy on June 20 in conditions the United Nations has deemed arbitrary detention. Swedish and British authorities dismissed the U.N. ruling, which was made a day before the former requested to interview Assange in London. Ecuador's decision to continue to grant asylum to Assange has sparked friction with not just Sweden and the U.S., but also the U.K. But on Wednesday Ecuador's Foreign Ministry was unequivocal in reaffirming the country's support for both the U.N. ruling and the whistleblower's continued asylum."

Elizabeth Warren demands open access to data from patient trials of drugs: "'I appreciate that there are many policy, privacy, and practical issues that need to be addressed in order to make data sharing practical and useful for the research community,' Warren wrote in an editorial in the venerable New England Journal of Medicine, 'but the stakes are too high to step back in the face of that challenge.'"

"FEC Commissioner, Citing The Intercept, Calls for Ban on Foreign Money in Politics."

Jeremy Corbyn handles a hostile interview with the Guardian

Matt Taibbi, "The Summer of the Shill: Campaign 2016 won't just have lasting implications for American politics. It's obliterated what was left of our news media [...] It's not that stations were wrong to denounce Trump's comments. He deserves it all. But he's not the only stupid, lying, corrupt politician in the world, which is the impression one could easily get watching certain stations these days. These all-Trump, all-the-time story lineups are like Fox in reverse. The commercial media has devolved, finally, into two remarkably humorless messaging platforms."

Well, even The Atlantic is asking the question, now: "Is the U.S. Due for Radically Raising Taxes for the Rich?" Oh, gods, yes. Yes, it is.

"Monopoly Power and the Decline of Small Business: The Case for Restoring America's Once Robust Antitrust Policies

"Clinton courts the right: Attacking Trump as aberration rather than apotheosis gives Republicans a pass: Donald Trump has made this election, like everything else, about Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton, happily skewering him as he blows up his campaign with ruinous attacks on fellow Republicans and myriad others, has zero problems with this. But critics on the left do, because by playing it safe Clinton is sending troubling if unsurprising signals about the agenda she will set as president, and also missing a historic opportunity to crush the Republican Party in a moment of acute vulnerability. Instead of aggressively making the case that Trump represents the worst of Republican greed and bigotry, she is inviting their leaders and donors to join her campaign en masse."

Erik Levitz in New York Magazine, "Disagreeing With the Elite Consensus on Trade, Immigration, or Foreign Policy Does Not Make One a Trump 'Enabler': On Monday, Kirchick wrote a piece titled 'Beware the Hillary Clinton-Loathing, Donald Trump-Loving Useful Idiots of the Left.' In the column, Kirchick observes that Donald Trump once said that he was uncomfortable with the idea of American exceptionalism - and (gasp) many left-wing thinkers agree! Thus, Kirchick reasons, all left-wing critics of American foreign policy must be 'Trump fans' who are recklessly 'validating' a 'reactionary.' That may sound like a caricature of his argument, but the cartoonishness is Kirchick's own." There's a lot of this going around.

"Hillary Shows Her True Colors (Again) In Florida [...] Many Democrats were nauseated this week to see Clinton-- up to her old tricks-- rush to Miami to try to save Wasserman Schultz's collapsing campaign."

Thomas Frank, "With Trump certain to lose, you can forget about a progressive Clinton: Come November, Clinton will have won her great victory - not as a champion of working people's concerns, but as the greatest moderate of them all."

Leftists Against Clintonism: It's Not Just About the Lies, It's About the Record [...] But in advocating lesser evilism as a voting strategy, Chomsky often makes another crucial point: That electoral politics should make up only a tiny part of efforts to change society for the better. "The electoral season in the United States, the quadrennial extravaganza, typically tends to draw energy away from activism because people are caught up in the hoopla and the excitement and so on," Chomsky has said, expressing a view similar to that of Adolph Reed, who has frequently noted the problems with "electoralitis." Democrats, for their part, have long been infected by electoralitis; they have come to view the election of more Democrats as an end in itself, not as a means to push for a more equitable society. But, long-term, we must be focused on more than merely defeating Trump; we must also defeat the appeal of Trumpism. For that to happen, we need a strong left with a working class core.

The Great Grift revealed, in "How We Killed the Tea Party: Greedy super PACs drained the movement with endless pleas for money to support 'conservative' candidates - while instead using the money to enrich themselves. I should know. I worked for one of them. "

"The Great White Hype: No One Is Energizing the White Working Class, Not Even Donald Trump [...] Only in the most secure segment of Americans did Pew find that a simple majority planned to support Republican candidates. As financial security decreased, the category that benefited most was not the Democrats, but rather 'OTHER/NOT SURE' - indicating that the person being surveyed was not heavily engaged in the political process, and unlikely to vote."

I was surprised to see in my Twitter feed a flurry of people sneering about Maureen Dowd. This seemed odd, since I thought everyone had quit reading her long ago, just like I had. But then it all became clear: She said something mean about Hillary Clinton. Now, it is not exactly a surprise to have MoDo saying mean things about Hillary Clinton, but this particular mean thing - well, see if you can guess why it so upset them....

Paul Craig Roberts on "The Stench of Raw Propaganda: I just heard the rawest kind of propaganda from former presstitute David Satter, who hangs out at the right-wing Hudson Institute and pretends to be an expert on Russia and Putin. On August 10 Satter told NPR's audience that Washington's hope to bring peace to Syria would fail unless Washington understood that the Russian government had no humanitarian feelings and did not care about the loss of human life. What Washington needs to do, said Satter, was to make sure that Putin and his henchmen understood that they would be held accountable as war criminals. I should be hardened by now, but it never fails to astonish me that agents for the elite are willing to tell the most blatant and transparent lies. Perhaps this is because they know that the media and their fellow bought-and-paid-for 'experts' will not challenge them on their statements. In fact, this is the way explanations are controlled and history rewritten." But there's something perhaps more significant in this piece that bears reading.

"Social Security and the 1 Percent: In February of last year, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a report titled The Effect of Rising Inequality on Social Security. The report shows how the increase in economic inequality in the U.S. has led to deteriorating Social Security revenues, often to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a year. Earlier research by Dean Baker showed that the upward redistribution of wage income was responsible for 43.5 percent of the projected 75-year shortfall in Social Security funding as of 2013."

"We're in a Low-Growth World. How Did We Get Here? One central fact about the global economy lurks just beneath the year's remarkable headlines: Economic growth in advanced nations has been weaker for longer than it has been in the lifetime of most people on earth." And it's been like that for the whole 21st century. Strangely, this article does not say it's "because people are underpaid and no one has any money."

"Why does Sanders do better than Clinton against Trump?"

Steven Thrasher in the Guardian, "Hate Trump? You should still hold Clinton's feet to the fire: It will make Hillary Clinton a stronger candidate if she's held accountable for her past and for her actions. Oh, and it's not a vote for Donald Trump."

"Trump's money mystery: Trump is definitely hiding something, but the question is what" - And it's not a bad question since he's been blackballed by every major US bank, I hear.

This is from The Washington Post: "A porous ethical wall between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department"

"'Back in time 60 years': America's most segregated city: Why Milwaukee, far from the Deep South, gets the unwelcome title as the most segregated place in America. "
* "Why Is Milwaukee So Bad For Black People?"

"Policing Class [...] There's a reason why the vast majority of police stops occur in the Western and the Central Districts: the Western is home to Baltimore's poorest black neighborhoods, the Central is home to Baltimore's business district. In effect, the city is producing and reproducing a population that has no functional purpose other than to be policed.

Atrios: "I don't go to DC much anymore. Actually I haven't been for years. For awhile I went fairly regularly for various reasons, including occasionally meeting with people who have a wee bit more power than I'll ever have. I spent some time scheming with one congressional office in particular (whether they valued my input or were just humoring me, they were serious about the issue) about how to keep people who were getting screwed in their homes. It was depressing. This office gave a shit, but nobody (exaggeration, of course) else did, and they couldn't get anything past administration attempts to block anything, or at least let things wither on the vine. One can always argue that legislative fixes just couldn't get the votes, but legislative fixes were necessary only because the administration was sitting on a giant pile of cash (went largely unspent) they had discretion over and plenty of regulatory power they could apply and they weren't doing anything. If stealing homes is basically legal and profitable, people (and companies) will steal homes. That no one could see the importance of this, even without shedding tears for the l000zers who had their homes stolen, was hard to comprehend."
* "Everybody Loves Henry: I'm not always thrilled about various efforts at broadening the coalition - voters or elite - by reaching out to Republicans, though I get the utility, but what advantages are there to publicly embracing Henry Kissinger and Negroponte? Is there a single voter out there who ponders to her/himself, "Well, I was on the fence a bit, but now that those brutal amoral assholes Kissinger and Negroponte are on board, I trust that Clinton will support enough political violence to make me happy?" Well, I'm sure there are a few, but they all write for the Washington Post op-ed pages. DC's a complicated place and I get that strange alliances are formed, but those don't require wearing your giant sized "Henry Approved!" button. This is the moment when someone says, "It doesn't matter. All that matters right now is beating Trump." Okay, fine, and this helps elect Clinton... how? I guess if I fail to mention it then it didn't happen. Blue Nation Review is a lovely happy place."
* "It's About Hating Liberals" - This one is long enough that you should click the link. I mean, long for Atrios, which isn't long.

Adolph Reed, "Vote for the Lying Neoliberal Warmonger: It's Important: An explanation for why defeating Donald Trump - despite what we know about Hillary Clinton - should be the left's primary national electoral objective this November" - I have to admit I lean toward this view for swing-state voters, at least, but I would feel a lot better if everyone was using the bumper-sticker like they did in the Duke-Edwards race.

"Jon Stewart praises Larry Wilmore on last 'Nightly Show': 'Do not confuse cancellation with failure'"

RIP: Alan Legum, "Annapolis civil rights lawyer remembered as fearless, graceful," at 69. Local civil rights people knew who he was, of course. And the liberal blogosphere knows his son Judd.
* R2-D2: "The British actor who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars films has died at the age of 81 after a long illness. Kenny Baker, who was 3ft 8in tall, shot to fame in 1977 when he first played the robot character." He was also in Time Bandits, one of my all time favorites.

In the NYT, Molly Fitzpatrick, "Letter of Recommendation: Fortean Times."

Large rubber duck joins Gnome Liberation Front.

Delighted scientists discover goofy squid (VIDEO)

Photographs from fairy tales
* More fantasy photos

Sheila played the harp on "She's Leaving Home" - she met Paul that time. And 44 years later, she met Ringo.