Monday, September 11, 2017

You might think I'm crazy

Dept. of Google Doing Evil:
Note: Barry C. Lynn mentioned herein is a different fellow from Barry W. Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Both are normally referred to only as "Barry Lynn".
* NYT: "Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant: WASHINGTON - In the hours after European antitrust regulators levied a record $2.7 billion fine against Google in late June, an influential Washington think tank learned what can happen when a wealthy tech giant is criticized. The New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family's foundation since the think tank's founding in 1999. That money helped to establish New America as an elite voice in policy debates on the American left and helped Google shape those debates. But not long after one of New America's scholars posted a statement on the think tank's website praising the European Union's penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had been chairman of New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group's president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar. [...] Ms. Slaughter told Mr. Lynn that 'the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,' according to an email from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team - nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows - would be exiled from New America."
* Matt Stoller at The Huffington Post, "Citizens Against Monopoly: As Google aims to consolidate complete power over discussion and free expression, it is time to heighten public urgency and pushback. [...] In late June, the European competition authority handed down a decision against Google for monopolizing the search market and suppressing rivals. It was a classic case of anti-competitive behavior, and the EU made the right decision. What's interesting, however, is not the decision, but what happened next across the ocean in Washington, D.C. My group, the Open Markets Program at New America, researches and studies monopoly power. Barry Lynn began this research 15 years ago, and has been building the necessary intellectual and historical grammar to understand the deep dysfunction in our corporate and political sectors. In response to the EU decision, Lynn sent a statement lauding the action. In response, Google had our group kicked out of our parent think tank, New America. Ken Vogel at the New York Times did the story on the specifics of how this happened. The combination, of the misbehavior in the search market and the attempt to suppress research into how Google operates, shows that the actual issue at hand is one of political power."
* Matthew Yglesias at Vox, "A leading Google critic's firing from a Google-funded think tank, explained: Forget it, Jake. It's Washington. [...] Google seems to have implicitly or explicitly used its financial clout to pressure New America to dissociate itself from Lynn, and now Lynn and his team are leaving New America and (apparently with some funding in hand) creating a new organization - Citizens Against Monopoly. In this particular case, Google's heavy-handed tactics seem more likely than not to backfire. But the case sheds light on the growing tendency of companies to use think tanks as essentially stealth lobbyists, and underscores the ways in which their priorities can shape the research agenda in Washington, even if it typically happens in more subtle ways." As long as Google was on the side of the consumer against telecoms companies, things were cozy. "What makes Google somewhat unusual for such a big company is that it's fairly closely aligned with the Democratic Party. Dozens of people moved from jobs at Google to jobs in the Obama administration, and vice versa, over its eight-year span. Schmidt was a major Hillary Clinton donor. More tellingly, Schmidt owns a company called Civis Analytics that does an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes data work for Democratic Party campaigns. This alignment grows out of both cultural affinity between Democrats and Google on social issues, and also years of regulatory struggle that often saw Google, Democrats, and consumer groups on one side pitted against telecommunications industry incumbents." But when it comes to anti-trust, Google is clearly on the other side, and they don't like it.
* Zephyr Teachout at The Interecept, "How I Got Fired From a D.C. Think Tank for Fighting Against the Power of Google"

Weirdly, Tucker Carlson gave sympathetic coverage to the story, including an interview with Matt Stoller.
* But Kashmir Hill says this isn't the first time. "Yes, Google Uses Its Power to Quash Ideas It Doesn't Like - I Know Because It Happened to Me."

And anti-monopoly arguments are penetrating. Even The Wall Street Journal takes "A Provocative Look at the Harm From Corporate Heft [...] That can be good: size and scale can enable companies to reduce costs, invest in better products and compete globally. But a provocative new study concludes the opposite. It found that in recent decades a lack of competition has driven up prices, hurting U.S. growth, wages and labor-force participation.

"How the Democratic Party Is Learning to Love Being Anti-Monopoly: Democrats just unveiled the opening salvo to their attempts to take back Congress. It sounds like the Warren and Sanders playbook - but the roots go deeper."

Marshall Steinbaum at The Roosevelt Institute, "A Real Monopoly Moment: The news that Barry Lynn's Open Markets group has been evicted from its DC think tank home, New America, for crossing the interests of its major funder, Google, is a legitimately shocking development. This development crystalizes the concerns about monopoly power that we at Roosevelt have been pointing out these past few years - along with our like-minded colleagues who have set up shop at the new Citizens Against Monopoly. Evidence is mounting that market power is causing economic problems: stagnant growth, rising inequality, slack labor markets, and vacant storefronts and factories. It should surprise no one that this excess power is now threatens intellectual freedom and inquiry. Concentrated power does not appreciate being called out."

Here's a good 2013 article by Lynn, on an earlier era of anti-trust action, "Estates of Mind: The answer to America's techno-malaise is to force big corporations to compete more. And to open their patent vaults. [...] Or consider the business software giant Oracle. Its CEO, Larry Ellison, once said that acquiring another company was 'a confession that there's a failure to innovate.' Then in 2004 Ellison began to gobble up precisely those competitors most likely to force Oracle to innovate. This included PeopleSoft, Siebel, Sun Microsystems, and more than eighty other firms. The story is not much different at Google, which has vacuumed up more than 120 former competitors, along with their products, patents, and, often, their scientists and engineers. If you think of Google as an innovative company, remember that it was the smaller companies it swallowed that actually developed most of its key components. These include YouTube, DoubleClick, and the ITA airline reservation system, as well as ten search companies that no longer compete with Google because Google now owns them. Much the same is true of Intel, Corning, Pfizer, and Microsoft. These giants don't merely set standards for certain formats of semiconductors, glass, pharmaceuticals, and software. Their mastery over patents and markets empowers them to block or buy most any newcomer that might threaten their sovereignty. What technologies are developed, and how and where they are developed, is increasingly up to these small clubs of executives alone. [...] Nevertheless, problems soon emerged. By the mid-nineteenth century, American financiers had figured out how to use patent monopolies not merely to hobble rival innovators but also to erect corporate empires; by the turn of the twentieth century, they had largely perfected the art. One of the more notable instances saw J. P. Morgan grab control of the electrical patents of Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Nikola Tesla, and then use the resulting 'pool' to control the entire electrical industry. One lawyer of that era even penned a primer for businessmen. 'Patents are the best and most effective means of controlling competition,' he wrote. Sometimes, he added, patents 'give absolute command of the market, enabling the owner to name the price without regard to cost of production.' The first coherent reactions against such abuse of patents also date to this time. In 1900, political scientist Jeremiah Jenks proposed using antitrust law to compel giant companies to license their patents."

David Dayen at The New Republic, "Democrats Face an Important Anti-Monopoly Test: How the party treats Trump's pick for antitrust enforcement will speak volumes about its commitment to fighting corporate consolidation. [...] The authority to change those guidelines rests with the head of the DOJ's antitrust division. So the Delrahim nomination suddenly puts the Democrats' credibility on the line. It's highly unlikely Delrahim would upend the consumer welfare standard. He praised it in this 2003 speech from when he served in the Justice Department under George W. Bush, arguing that 'increased use of economic thinking has transformed federal merger analysis.' Analysts at Hughes Hubbard put Delrahim 'within the mainstream of the last several decades' antitrust orthodoxy.' That's just what Democrats, in A Better Deal, claim to want to break from."

Best Protest Ever: "Dinosaur suit-wearing protesters march on Washington to protest Pres. Trump's plan to slash the budget for national service programs."

An Unhinged Rant about Harvey.

An Evening with Bernie Sanders: Riverside Church, NYC 8/28/17

David Dayen on how we are, "Canada's China: Buried amid NAFTA negotiations this week was a fun little nugget: we are Canada's China. Our corporate titan-backed rollout of "right to work" principles in state after state has denied a level playing field for Canadian manufacturers, which is all the U.S. ever says we want in trade negotiations. So Canada decided to call us on it."

Dday at The Intercept, "The Politics Of The Dream Act Seem Pretty Easy, But Some Democrats Are Still Screwing It Up: IF SENATE DEMOCRATS were united in 2010, undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children would already be on the path to citizenship. A vote on the DREAM Act held after the disastrous midterm elections got three Republican votes, enough to break a filibuster at the time if Democrats held firm. But six Democratic defections ' five no votes and one abstention ' sunk the bill, leading then-President Barack Obama to eventually establish the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, to protect the 'Dreamers.' [...] In other words, Congress is falling into two camps: not for and against a DREAM Act, but for and against voting on a DREAM Act by itself. And calling for a comprehensive immigration solution - which Congress has failed to agree on for decades, even when the parties were far less polarized - is pretty close to being against anything getting done. It's a cheap way to earn support and respect from a public that overwhelmingly supports DACA - 76 percent in favor of allowing beneficiaries to stay, including 69 percent of Republicans - without having to vote to keep them in the country."

Brent Budowsky in The Hill, "How Sanders could save the Democratic Party in 2018: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the conscience of the Democratic Party at a moment in history when it is crucial that Democrats stand for profiles in courage as a historically crucial midterm election effectively begins this week with the return of Congress from recess. [...] Democrats stand on the brink of being on the winning side of an anti-Trump wave election in the 2018 midterm elections. But it is possible for Democrats to win a wave election in the popular vote in 2018 without winning enough seats to gain control of the House of Representatives or the Senate, which would perpetuate one-party control in Washington after the midterm votes are counted. [...] What Sanders and his supporters have, and many Democratic insiders and large donors lack, is the passion and commitment of knowing that they speak for hugely important issues at a dangerous moment for American politics."

"Democrats Put Eric Holder, Best Friend of Wall Street Banks, in Charge of Winning Back Main Street America: Holder was a "double agent" for high finance while serving as America's top cop. [...] Eric Holder, the former U.S. Attorney General, is the chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which promises to unfurl - a targeted, state-by-state strategy that ensures Democrats can fight back - when the political maps are drawn for U.S. House and state legislative races for the decade of the 2020s."

Late to the party, The New York Times appears to take vote-rigging seriously - but only if the Russians are in it. "Susan Greenhalgh, a troubleshooter at a nonpartisan election monitoring group, was alarmed. Most of the complaints came from Durham, a blue-leaning county in a swing state. The problems involved electronic poll books - tablets and laptops, loaded with check-in software, that have increasingly replaced the thick binders of paper used to verify voters' identities and registration status. She knew that the company that provided Durham's software, VR Systems, had been penetrated by Russian hackers months before." Let's see, where was the NYT 17 years ago....?

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "Did Kamala Harris just become a Bernie Bro? [...] Now Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), a centrist darling, has taken up the major proposal of the left, by becoming a co-sponsor of Bernie Sanders' Medicare-for-all bill. She may have become ... one of the Dread Bernie Bros. This is interesting, and not a little amusing, on multiple levels. But it's also a good opportunity to drive home the fact that the largest beneficiaries of an agenda of economic populism would be oppressed minorities, especially black and Latino Americans." (I was amused to see Cooper says the "centrists" who attacked him for an earlier article subjected him to a social media pile-on that was worse than he'd had from the Gamergate crowd. I tell ya, those HillBros are the worst. Meanwhile, Joy Reid is the poster child for deranged Clintonophilia.) "Jokes aside, what matters about this move is how it clarifies both recent history and the policy stakes. The problem with the argument about political success from Reid and Dean is that it's completely at odds with recent electoral results. Democrats just ran a compromising, centrist, big-donor candidate with a 3-2 money advantage and lost to the biggest buffoon in the history of presidential politics. Overall, the party is in its worst shape since 1928. If anybody is calling for a "purity test," it's people continuing to cling to such a world-historical failure."

"Best Looting of West Baltimore: The Hogan Administration Making Off with the Red Line Funds: It has been a shitty year for West Baltimore. But of all the crimes committed in 2015, nothing trumps Gov. Larry Hogan's decision to cancel the Red Line. The proposed subway-to-surface light-rail line - which had been planned for more than a decade and was supposed to break ground this year - would have linked impoverished West Baltimore to thousands of jobs and the rest of the city's transit system. To add insult to injury, the transportation funds that the O'Malley administration had been saving for the rail project were redistributed to wealthier, low-density counties for sprawl-inducing highway projects. Baltimore City literally received $0 from the 'savings.' So instead of providing life-changing access to employment, education, and health care to an area with the lowest car ownership in the state, that money is now going to projects such as widening roads in the middle of nowhere. And the $900 million the federal government was giving the MTA to cover its half of construction costs? That's now going somewhere other than Maryland, not to mention the millions of dollars already spent on planning and right-of-way acquisition. Even in a city known for crime, this is a heist for the history books."

"In Arizona, People Power Triumphs Over Dark Money in School Voucher Fight: In Arizona, people power just won a major victory over national dark money groups. In 90 days, more than 2,500 regular Arizona voters fanned out across the state, collecting more than 110,000 signatures to block a radical and highly controversial expansion of school vouchers pushed through by our GOP legislature and governor this spring. In a state that already ranks dead last in teacher pay and hovers just above last place for per-student spending, parents would now be able to take money out of local public schools to use toward private, home-school and religious education. With their signatures, 110,000 Arizona residents said 'enough.' Another cut to public school funding would be devastating. [...] Political insiders were quick to dismiss us. They said that the controversial law was more of the same, nothing to get hot and bothered about, and that Save Our Schools would turn out to a political blip in a state where residents are ready to walk away from their public schools. They were wrong.

"Federal Judge Bars Enforcement Of Texas' Voter ID Laws: The permanent injunction against the law follows years of litigation, but will be appealed. The Justice Department, which once backed the challengers to the state's voter ID law, reversed course once Trump took office - urging that recent amendments to the law eliminated its discriminatory effects."

"Emmanuel Macron's Waning Support Shakes Bid to Overhaul French Economy: PARIS - As Emmanuel Macron sets out to shake up France's rigid labor market, the young president is losing the public support he may need to weather protests by the country's powerful unions. [...] Unpopular budget cuts, accusations of an authoritarian approach and weeks of critical news coverage have sent Mr. Macron's approval ratings in a downward spiral. The latest poll, published in mid-August by public opinion firm Harris Interactive, found that 37% of voters approve of him, down from 51% in July and 59% in June. Given that drop, Mr. Macron will have to tread carefully in rolling out his labor reforms in September. For months, the 39-year-old president has been in talks with powerful labor unions in a bid to contain planned street protests. Now the prospect is growing that the ranks of those demonstrations could swell with students, retirees and other segments of French society unhappy with Mr. Macron's early steps." He wants to bust unions. He's going to be the Bill Clinton of France, wrecking the economy and calling it "reform".

This may be a bit late, but worth taking note of, from Jon Schwarz, "Happy Labor Day! There Has Never Been a Middle Class Without Strong Unions" points out a number of benefits of unions, including this one: "Dean Baker, co-director of a Washington, D.C. think tank called the Center for Economic and Policy Research, or CEPR, is arguably the only economist in the U.S. who both recognized the danger of the gigantic U.S. housing bubble in the mid-2000s and warned about it loudly. But Baker didn't appear out of nowhere. His first job in Washington was at the Economic Policy Institute, which was founded in 1986 with a five-year funding pledge from eight unions. His foothold there made it possible for him to eventually co-found CEPR and make his case on the housing bubble. (I know this about Baker because I briefly worked for CEPR long ago.)"

You can tell we've got a better pope. "U.S. Bishops' Labor Day message: 'Unions must retain and recover their prophetic voice': WASHINGTON (CNS) -- 'Excessive inequality' threatens cooperation among all people in society 'and the social pact it supports,' said Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, in the U.S. bishops' annual Labor Day statement. In the message, Bishop Dewane cited the words of Pope Francis, who told factory workers in Genoa, Italy, 'The entire social pact is built around work. This is the core of the problem. Because when you do not work, or you work badly, you work little or you work too much, it is democracy that enters into crisis, and the entire social pact.' [...] Workers' legal rights to 'a just wage in exchange for work, to protection against wage theft, to workplace safety and just compensation for workplace injuries, to health care and other benefits, and to organize and engage in negotiations, should be promoted,' he added. 'Workers must be aided to come to know and exercise their legal rights. As an example, CCHD has supported the Don Bosco Workers in Westchester, New York, which has launched a successful campaign to combat wage theft. Persons returning from prison also need support to understand their legal rights as they seek new employment. CCHD has helped the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Cincinnati and elsewhere as they work with returning citizens to find stable and meaningful jobs.' Labor unions play an important role in this effort, according to Bishop Dewane, as he quoted from Pope Francis' remarks in June in an audience with delegates from the Confederation of Trade Unions: 'There is no good society without a good union, and there is no good union that is not reborn every day in the peripheries, that does not transform the discarded stones of the economy into its cornerstones.'"

"What Can Trump Learn From Local Governments? How Not To Handle Infrastructure: Public-private partnerships are frequently portrayed, especially by President Donald Trump, as an easy infrastructure fix for cities and states with tight budgets. But horror stories of so-called 'P3s' gone wrong have been making headlines for the past decade, often as a result of contractual clauses that prove costly for governments or keep information from the public eye. They don't have to be that way." This article is actually too kind on several fronts, since it singles out a handful of egregious examples but fails to point out that it's not just a few examples but rather the norm. There was a time when government and the commercial sector could work together for a common goal, but that was before the sole goal was to ensure massive profits to commercial industry even if it meant high costs go government at the expense of public services. If, for example, the goal were to get everyone to work, you might get the commercial sector to pitch in with government to build the New York subway system. Today, the goal of getting everyone to work would be pretty much on the back-burner, with transport merely a gimmick for skimmers to make more money.

Marcy Wheeler, "The Arpaio Pardon: You're Not the Audience: Meanwhile, Brennan Center's Mike German has started to track a disturbing trend. I believe he, like me, thinks the FBI is generally adequate at infiltrating white supremacist groups to disrupt the most outrageous attacks. But what law enforcement is not doing is policing right wing violence at protests the same way it polices left protests." It's about cops.

Bernie Sanders in Fortune: "Why Medicare-for-All Is Good for Business" - for one thing, it cuts out 33% of costs from administration alone, not to mention the extortion to fatten insurance company exec's wallets.

Robert Kuttner talked to Amy Goodman on Democracy NOW! about his surprising interview with Steve Bannon.

Another day, another reframing of the CCES study of who voted how and why. As Lambert notes, the original framing was about Obama voters who jumped ship to vote for Trump, but this week's frame is Sanders supporters who did so - and caused the election of Trump, because they were a bunch of racists. The data don't actually say that, though, and there are plenty of reasons to think other factors were involved, even for these people who clearly had no intention to vote for a status quo candidate of either party. (It shouldn't be forgotten that of actual Democrats, more Clinton-supporting Democrats defected to McCain in 2008 than Sanders-supporting Democrats defected to Trump. That's a particularly interesting jump since, policy-wise, there was virtually no difference between the two Democratic candidates in 2008 beside sex and race. This was not the case in the 2016 race, where differences in the records and approaches of the two contenders for the Democratic nomination were significant.) The study seemed to use views on "trade" as an indicator of whether views on the economy or simple racism were the strongest motivators for these Trump voters, but, "Let me remark here that other factors that correlate with voting for Trump include poor credit scores, battlefield casualties, employment situation, and deaths of despair. These do not seem to have been considered by CCES, or if considered were not brought forward by Schaffner, and it is not clear to me that views on trade or race are adequate proxies for them."

Meanwhile, "Bernie Sanders, Nation's Highest Profile Socialist, Once Again Voted Most Popular [...] According to the poll - conducted online from Aug. 17-22 with 2,263 Democrats, Republicans, and registered Independents - Sanders is currently the only politician in the whole country who "a majority of Americans actually like." Among the respondents, 54 percent view Sanders favorably with just 36 percent taking the opposite view. Compared to others included in the survey - including Republicans like McConnell, President Donald Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence as well as top Democratic leaders like Hillary Clinton, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California - it wasn't even close. 'When it comes to the most popular demographics," Bustle reports, "the poll showed Sanders scored highest among millennials - people aged 18-34, who expressed a 62 percent approval rating. Furthermore, 58 percent of women registered to vote view Sanders favorably, as do 55 percent of men.'"

Sections leaked from Clinton's book attack Sanders. Bernie brushes off her contradictory and delusional claims as looking backward when there are more important things to be concerned with. "I'm working overtime now to see we overturn Trump's decision on DACA, pass a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and next week I'll be offering a Medicare-for-all single-payer system." Her claims are pretty strange, though - says he stole her ideas even though he'd actually introduced a bill ten months before she mentioned the subject, and a direct government employment infrastructure program is not merely "bigger" or less realistic than her infrastructure bank idea, it's different, better, more likely to result in actual restoration and expansion of infrastructure, and cheaper than a lot of over-financialization. The media is full of talk about Clinton's book, but as Sophia A. McClennen in Salon notes, Bernie has a book out, too, and it isn't being talked about much. Maybe that's because it's not about the 2016 election, about making things better.

Amber A'Lee Frost in Current Affairs, "How To Write About Nazis: When covering the far right, the media has a duty to deliver both facts and context, fearlessly and stoically..." The mainstream press, however, seems to be writing just the kind of pieces they want - either adoring profiles or alarmist nonsense that makes them seem far more mainstream and popular than they are. "Above all, keeps things in perspective. It's true that the far right are coordinating, but they are not on the precipice of seizing power - the traditional right (that old Republican base) already have that squared away. The brownshirts are not at the gates just yet, but if they ever get there, we're not going to beat them back if we lose our heads."

"St. Louis gave minimum-wage workers a raise. On Monday, it was taken away [...] St. Louis is not the first city to see its minimum-wage ordinances undercut by state legislatures. The issue is a divisive topic across America, and there are 25 states that have minimum-wage preemption laws - when state governments approve laws that prevent local governments from passing such measures - including Kentucky and Iowa, according to Paul Sonn, general counsel with the National Employment Law Group."

"Louisiana floods destroy home of Christian leader who says God sends natural disasters to punish gay people: A flood has destroyed the home of a Christian lobbyist who preached that God sends natural disasters to punish gays. President of the controversial Christian group Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, described a deluge of 'near biblical proportions' hitting his Louisiana home." (This story is actually a year old, but it just seemed timely.)

Peter reminds us that, though most Britons know that homosexual sex ceased to be a specific crime in 1967, 25 years later we were still campaigning to make more sense of the law and stop the campaign of harassment by the police. "The Myth of Homosexual Decriminalisation: On the 50th Anniversary of the ground breaking 1967 Sexual Offences Act, the campaigner Peter Tatchell takes a sceptical look at its impact on Britain's gay communities."

"How SB Nation Profits Off An Army Of Exploited Workers [...] Twelve years ago, SB Nation began as a do-it-yourself venture, by and for fans, more a community of communities than a journalistic endeavor. It has since evolved and rebranded itself and emerged as Vox Media, which was valued at $1 billion in 2015 after a $200 million round of funding from NBCUniversal. The SB Nation network itself, consisting of 319 team websites, has remained in place, a vast operation read by millions of people every month and powered by unpaid and underpaid labor."

Beat the Press, "Opposition to Trade Deals: Brad DeLong's "Socialism of Fools" Might Look Like Common Sense to Those Outside the Fraternity: The usually sensible Brad DeLong is very unhappy with those who oppose the agenda that has passed for globalization over the last three decades. He argues that people are foolish for believing that globalization has had a major impact on employment and the distribution of income in recent years. I'll take the side of Brad's "fools" in this matter."

Briahna Joy Gray in Current Affairs, "How Identity Became A Weapon Against The Left: Reaction to criticism of Kamala Harris shows how the voices of progressive people of color are erased...
* Michael Brooks discussed the article with Ms. Gray on The Michael Brooks Show.

Ian Welsh says "The World Is Going To Hell Because: You get the behaviour you reward."

RIP: "Science fiction author Brian Aldiss dies aged 92: The prolific writer behind more than 80 books and editor of 40 anthologies died at his Oxford home after celebrating his birthday." Well, that's the way to do it - become a revered grandmaster of your craft, and then have a nice bash to celebrate your 92nd birthday, go to bed and die in your sleep.

RIP: "Walter Becker, Steely Dan Guitarist, Dies at 67." Donald Fagen put out a statement. A fuller obit from the Guardian says Becker died of "an undisclosed illness." He was still touring as of last year. "Walter Carl Becker, singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, born 20 February 1950; died 3 September 2017" Rolling Stone obit, and New York Times obit.

"Bob Dylan Documentarian Murray Lerner Dead at 90: Oscar nominated filmmaker captured legendary performances at Newport Folk Fest, Isle of Wight." There's a nice little clip there of Mike Bloomfield talking about Sun House and Paul Butterfield.

RIP: "Richard Anderson, Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman Actor, Dies at 91." Other genre credits include Forbidden Planet. He was on most of the regular evening shows in the late '50s and early '60s, including Zorro, The Untouchables, and Perry Mason, as well as having a role in The Fugitive.

My new favorite TV show is Braindead. Unfortunately, it was cancelled after one short season, but it was lots of fun, and when it says, "Previously on Braindead..." Jonathan Coulton sings the recap wonderfully. It can't have had much promotion, we stumbled on it by accident while rummaging through Amazon Prime, having never heard of it before.

APOD: Milky Way over Chilean Volcanoes
* Diamond Ring in the Clouds
* The Crown of the Sun

"Photographer Kristina Makeeva Captures the Otherworldly, Frozen Beauty of the Earth's Oldest & Deepest Lake

Russian Photographer Kristina Makeeva Captures Girls In Dresses Against Backgrounds Of The Most Beautiful Places

119: Skiffle, The Beatles, and Billy Bragg - An interview that explains why George Harrison once said that if there was no Leadbelly there's no Lonnie Donnegan, and if there's no Lonnie Donnegan, there's no Beatles.

The Cars

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ain't it the truth babe?

A lefty woman was murdered, and others injured, in a terrorist attack on counter-protesters of a Nazi action. Naturally, the fascists claim the "alt-left" was violent, too. For example, they claim they "saw" an antifa protester clubbing a cop. In fact, what they saw was a doctored photo from Greece in 2009.

Marcy Wheeler: "Three Times Donald Trump Treated Vehicular Manslaughter as Terrorism" - but not Charlottesville. "Donald Trump gave the weakest statement on Charlottesville today, even going so far as calling on Americans to 'cherish our history,' in response to a Nazi mob responding to the removal of Confederate symbols."

Ian Welsh, "Oppressive Precedents Used Against Nazis Will Be Used Against the Left." The sudden urge to censor Nazis can feel compelling, but history shows that laws that can be used against either side are more likely to be used against the left, even when they are inspired by a desire to suppress Nazis. Even the guy at who terminated a Nazi site's account isn't happy about doing it, and for good reason: No one should have that power.

Sarah Jones in The New Republic, "Liberals Helped Create Trump's New Bogeyman, the 'Alt-Left' [...] We shouldn't be surprised that Trump is unwilling to blame white supremacists for the fatal violence that struck Charlottesville on August 12, even when one of their cohort murdered an innocent woman, Heather Heyer, who was protesting their presence in her city. We shouldn't be surprised because his every deed and utterance has shown that he either holds similar views or is merely content to let them flourish. Nor should we be surprised by his use of the term 'alt-left.' The only way he can excuse the actions of violent racists is to create a false equivalence. The press, Trump rambled, had treated the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville 'very unfairly.' But we should be at least partly surprised by the origins of this misleading and corrosive term. It is beloved by the likes of Sean Hannity and former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, who have used it to denigrate Trump's opponents. And it has also been popularized - and legitimized - by red-baiting liberals who fear the rise of a progressive populist movement."
* Sam Kriss in Politico, "The Myth of the Alt-Left: It began as an epithet hurled from centrist liberals. Now it's backfiring."
* Stanislav Vysotsky in In These Times, "Drawing Equivalencies Between Fascists and Anti-Fascists Is Not Just Wrong - It's Dangerous: We must be very wary of any attempts to excuse or normalize white supremacy."
* "Stop Saying 'Alt-Left'"
* Liam Stack in The New York Times, "Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Antifa: A Glossary of Extremist Language [...] Researchers who study extremist groups in the United States say there is no such thing as the 'alt-left.' Mark Pitcavage, an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, said the word had been made up to create a false equivalence between the far right and 'anything vaguely left-seeming that they didn't like.'"

It was odd, Steve Bannon decided for some reason to phone Robert Kuttner himself at The American Prospect and give him an on-the-record interview explaining his thinking and strategy. "Steve Bannon, Unrepentant: Trump's embattled strategist phones me, unbidden, to opine on China, Korea, and his enemies in the administration," is how the piece is headed, and although some of his thinking is convoluted, much of what he says rings true. He's certainly right that there is no military solution to Korea. And he's also right when he says, "The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got 'em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats." Of course, the "centrist" concentration on ignoring - even encouraging - the economic immiseration of Americans of every race while focusing on the fortunes of a few female and minority rising stars of the Democratic right is not serving their party or the country very well. Meanwhile, if the Republicans can keep talking about protecting the American economy (and by implication, American jobs) from China, that's probably going to go down well with a substantial number of voters. It makes it sound like it's the GOP, not the Democratic Party, that wants to help Americans who are being pushed off of the economic ladder. And that appears to be why he lost his job. The Independent says, "The interview that got Steve Bannon fired: Mr Bannon was forced out of the White House after he revealed his ambition to 'crush' political opponents who take a stand against racism" - although it may have been his enemies within the administration who were worried about being "crushed". I certainly don't imagine Republicans in the White House had a problem with Bannon wanting to crush Democrats. Nor was Bannon saying he wanted to crush them because they "take a stand against racism". He was saying - quite rightly, I think - that if Democrats continue their self-destructive strategy of deflecting from the economy in favor of talking just about racism, they will lose. He may be a white supremacist nationalist, but he's not nearly as dumb as whoever wrote that subhead, or the Democrats who can't add 2+2 and see that we started losing as soon as Democrats started agreeing with Republican economic policies and promoting them.

Your typical centrists at work: "The real litmus test is whether pro-life democrats vote for pro-life legislation: Democratic political elites now publicly admit abortion extremism is costing Democrats the votes they need to compete nationally. We at SBA List welcome this admission. But will the Democrats really let pro-lifers' nose under the tent?" Everything in that is wrong. Democrats have always "let" anti-choicers into the party - indeed, even into the party leadership. There has never been a time when that was not so. And the idea that being pro-choice is "extreme" is one that comes from extremists, not from the mainstream of American thought, which largely supports Roe v. Wade.

"Elizabeth Warren fires back at centrist Democrats: ATLANTA - Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took aim at centrist Democrats on Saturday in front of the one of the largest annual gatherings of progressives in the country. Two days after a new Democratic-aligned superPAC called New Democracy formed to push back against the party's ascendant left wing, Warren argued that Democrats would not be 'going back to the days of welfare reform and the crime bill.' 'We're not going back to the days of being lukewarm on choice,' Warren told a crowd of about 3,000 people at Netroots Nation. 'We're not going back to the days when universal health care was something Democrats talked about on the campaign trail, but were too chicken to fight for after they got elected.'"

"DCCC & Kings Landing Consultants Are Instructing Candidates How To Deceive Democratic Primary Voters On Healthcare [...] That's when it got interesting. He said the DCCC is now instructing their candidates to thwart progressives by pretending to be for Medicare-For-All to help them defeat progressive primary opponents who are for Medicare-For-All."

"Sanders to Big Pharma: Stop making Americans pay twice: While both political parties have denounced the rising cost of prescription drugs, neither Democrats nor Republicans have done much to address the problem. But this summer, a new tool to restrict the rising prices of drugs developed with taxpayer dollars has been introduced by the two U.S. senators who don’t belong to either party."

"Tensions Flare as Cuomo Confronts Democratic Rift [...] That was all Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Senate minority leader who represents the suburbs of Westchester County, needed to hear. 'You look at me, Mr. Governor, but you don't see me. You see my black skin and a woman, but you don't realize I am a suburban legislator,' Ms. Stewart-Cousins said, according to the accounts of five people who were in the room. 'Jeff Klein doesn't represent the suburbs,' she said. 'I do.' Mr. Cuomo reacted in stunned silence."

"Bank of America to Pay $6 Million to Bankrupt Couple Evicted From Home." BoA's behavior was reprehensible, unsurprisingly, and I'm sure receiving this money will be a relief to the homeowners, but this is actually a win for the bank, who were originally supposed to pay $46 million.

David Dayen, "Orrin Hatch, The Original Antitrust Hipster, Turns On His Own Kind." Hatch used to be a lonely crusader against monopolies, but now he's suddenly dissing the emerging crowd of trust-busters who have entered the public debate.

I can't believe anyone was stupid enough to think a good way to celebrate the total eclipse of the sun would be a fireworks display at totality. See, I can still be shocked. Meanwhile, you can Make Your Own Safe Solar Viewer.

Jeff Stein in Vox, "Inside Bernie Sanders's campaign to save Obamacare: On three separate occasions this July, staffers for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) began preparing for the rollout of his new single-payer health care bill. But every time they started to do so, Senate Republicans would improbably revive their push to repeal Obamacare - and Sanders's team would postpone the launch of their 'Medicare-for-all' campaign, according to aides to the Vermont senator."

Gabriel Kristal at Bill Moyer's site, "A Working-Class Strategy for Defeating White Supremacy: To advance anti-racism on the macro scale, we need to collectively engage in popular struggle."

Yves Smith, introducing Alexey Kovalev's "Why Explaining US Internal Strife Through 'Russian Influence' Is Lazy and Unhelpful" at Naked Capitalism: "Yves here. This is a well-argued debunking of various 'evil Rooskie' claims and is very much worth circulating. Stunningly, there actually are people asserting that white supremacists and the figurative and now literal hot fights over Confederate symbols (remember that Confederate flags have been a big controversy too?) are part of a Russian plot. Help me. Fortunately their views don't seem to have gotten traction outside the fever-swamp corners of the Twitterverse."

"Why Are Drug Prices So High? These Politicians Might Have The Answer [...] In 2016, Harvard University researchers found patents are one of the main reasons drug prices are so high in the United States. Those patents give drugmakers exclusive monopoly rights to produce a medicine - thereby insulating the pharmaceutical company from price competition."

"ACLU suing DC Metro for rejecting ads on abortion, PETA, Milo Yiannopoulos: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing Washington's Metro for pulling or rejecting controversial ads, which the organization claims violates the freedom of speech. The ACLU is representing a 'diverse group of plaintiffs' in the new lawsuit, including an abortion provider, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and conservative firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos. [...] One of the rejected ads - from the ACLU itself - featured the text of the First Amendment in English, Spanish and Arabic, which the group proposed after President Trump escalated his feud with the media earlier this year."

"Police Are Killing Citizens at Highest Rate Ever While Govt and Media Ignore It: Police in the United States are breaking records in 2017 by killing a record number of the same people they claim to serve and protect, and there is no change in sight under the current administration. In 2017 alone, police have killed 746 people in the U.S., according to the Killed By Police database, which puts this year on pace to become the deadliest year on record. In contrast, in the first seven months of 2016, police killed 714 people; the number was slightly higher in 2015 with 725 killed; and it was noticeably lower in 2014 with 663 killed and in 2013 with 353 killed."

"Lee Fang on How a Little-Known U.S. Libertarian Think Tank Is Remaking Latin American Politics

Brian Beutler, "Democrats, Don't Raise the Debt Limit: Instead, they should aim to abolish it as a Republican weapon."

"Democrats Can Abandon the Center - Because the Center Doesn't Exist [...] It is difficult to overstate how thoroughly these developments discredited the baseline assumptions of a certain strand of mainstream punditry. We're living through a kind of Copernican revolution for the political universe: The old guard still insists that everything revolves around 'the center,' but the data keep saying otherwise."

David Dayen, "Trump's Opioid Commission Had Some Stunningly Good Recommendations. He Ignored Them for 80s Drug War Nostalgia. [...] If you were reminded of Nancy Reagan's cameo on Diff'rent Strokes, you're not alone. But 'Just Say No' didn't work as a policy 35 years ago - teenagers in programs, such as DARE, were as likely to use drugs as those who weren't. It also initiated the school-to-prison pipeline with the creation of 'drug-free schools' and other policies of overcriminalization. And it's particularly useless for an opioid epidemic where adolescents age 12-17 represent a little more than one-tenth of those affected."

"Who Are The Dozen Trumpiest Democrats In The House?" And in that article you'll find the DCCC's own purity test: "And this year Ben Ray Lujan has openly admitted the DCCC is recruiting Blue Dogs and anti-Choice candidates--and will finance their races-- and they appear to have an unofficial litmus test of their own: candidates who openly advocate Medicare-For-All, which is not backed by DCCC honchos like Lujan and almost his whole team, are getting the shitty end of the stick. It appears that, so far at least, the DCCC is encouraging candidates who don't commit to Medicare-For-All and giving candidates who do, the cold shoulder. So... whose side is the DCCC on? Not the same side I'm on, that's for sure."

Rachel Cohen in The New Republic, "This Is the Wrong Way to Fight Inequality: A new book proposes Americans should compete against each other for well being - so long as it's a "fair" contest." Needless to say, this is a terrible idea.

Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons, "Hacked emails show UAE building close relationship with D.C. Think tanks that push its agenda."

Carl Beijer, "Bankers and Big Pharma lawyers: We are the left! [...] This is the system that McKnight-Chavers wants to preserve: the system that has made her family wealthy, largely at the expense of some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in our society. From her position of privilege, it's easy to call for "a fair capitalist system" where "capital will make its way into our communities" - because capital has made it into her community. But why are we making this voice of privilege an arbiter of the left? "

Jayati Ghosh in Naked Capitalism, "After Neoliberalism, What Next? [...] Whether we look at straws in the wind or green shoots in the ground, there is no doubt that there are incipient signs of change. But at this point there are many directions in which such change could go, and not all of them are progressive or even desirable. That is why it is important to get social and political traction for alternative trajectories that focus on more equitable, just, democratic and ecologically viable outcomes for most of humanity."

Robert Borosage, "Movements Are Driving Democratic Party Debate [...] Entrenched interests, policy gurus, political operatives, and big money all have a significant stake in defending business as usual. If Democrats are to meet the promise their leaders made in their 'Better Deal' platform to put forth a bold agenda that works for working people, a fierce debate isn't pernicious. It is utterly imperative."

"Fear, Loathing, and the Democratic Party" - It's odd watching the flurry of hate pieces against Nina Turner whenever she does anything. A lot of it is reminiscent of slurs against Sanders, pretending some insight into character flaws of the target that would require actual mind-reading to confirm. Meanwhile, every time Bernie Sanders does anything, there's a flurry of hate on Twitter for him. In this case, Sanders is the only one doing anything at all in reaction to Charlottesville, and of course the knives are out. Lawrence Tribe has become a national embarrassment: "Sen. Sanders just urged a resolution by Congress condemning Nazism & White Racism. Really? How about condemning TRUMP for his appeasement?" Of course, Sanders has been condemning Trump, but (a) it doesn't fit the narrative, and (b) apparently these people think we can just get rid of Trump and life will be peachy. It's hard to believe anyone is this stupid.

A kickass tweetstorm from Lana Del Raytheon: "as bipartisan centrists and liberals put donut emojis in their twitter names, let's review their political legacy over the last few decades:"

This is a blast from the past that I may have linked before, but I'm trying to remind people what The Democratic Party was back when it was winning. Adolph Reed, "Nothing Left: The long, slow surrender of American liberals: FFor nearly all the twentieth century there was a dynamic left in the United States grounded in the belief that unrestrained capitalism generated unacceptable social costs. That left crested in influence between 1935 and 1945, when it anchored a coalition centered in the labor movement, most significantly within the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). It was a prominent voice in the Democratic Party of the era, and at the federal level its high point may have come in 1944, when FDR propounded what he called 'a second Bill of Rights.' Among these rights, Roosevelt proclaimed, were the right to a 'useful and remunerative job,' 'adequate medical care,' and 'adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.'"

"Why we lost the war in Afghanistan [...] Folks, if we can't do something as basic as pave Afghanistan's roads and convince the government to keep them safe and passable, we've lost. We have no business remaining there for one more minute. We should pack up all of our tanks and Humvees and MRAPs and Howitzers and helicopters, not to mention all of our bulldozers and earthmovers and asphalt-layers, and we should load all of our soldiers on C-130's and get the hell out of there. Russia learned this lesson. That's why one day they packed up their war making stuff and drove north across the border with Uzbekistan and never looked back."

"Mongolians protest as bulldozers threaten Beatles monument: AKIPRESS.COM - A statue of the Beatles in Ulaanbaatar could be at risk amid an alleged land grab, protesters say, as rapid development turns a city once famed for wide open spaces into a cluttered metropolis. Residents are protesting against plans to build commercial properties in an area known as Beatles Square, where a bronze bas-relief monument to the "Fab Four" commemorates the former Soviet satellite's transition to democracy in 1990, Reuters reported."

Mark Evanier on the wonderful Rose Marie, who we all loved as Sally on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and an upcoming biopic about her that he recently got to see an early screening of in the company of Van Dyke himself and Carl Reiner, who both agreed it was the best biopic they had ever seen: "Movie history was made in 1927 when The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson opened at the Wintergarden Theater in New York. It was the first major "talkie," (film with sound) although it was partially a silent film with title cards. It was preceded that first evening at the Wintergarden by all all-talking, all-singing short. That short starred Baby Rose Marie." Now go read the rest.

RIP: Dick Gregory, Barrier-Breaking Comedian and Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 84. I always remember him saying that calendar on your wall is called the Gregorian calendar, and "You better be nice to me, or I won't let you use tomorrow." And also, "Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind paying my taxes if I knew it was going to a friendly country." Here he is in 1965 on police brutality.

RIP: Gregg Calkins, 82, fanzine publisher (Oopsla, 1952-1961), and letterhack - and, as File770 says, "In contrast to most of his generation, he was highly active in social media, frequently posting on Facebook where it was his pleasure to carry the conservative side of debates." And, to my surprise, although I had never had any contact with him before and never expected to, he sent me a friend request, and it was my pleasure to participate in that debate with him. Though we disagreed on many things, he was always friendly and respectful, even flattered me by saying he hoped the DNC didn't start listening to me because if they did we would be a real threat to the Republicans electorally. I already miss his contributions to my threads.

RIP: Glenn Campbell, first-class guitar player, former first-call sessions man, and popular country singer. He played sessions for everyone from Elvis to Nancy Sinatra to Jan & Dean. We first saw him on that summer version of the Smothers Brothers' show, and then were disappointed when he turned out to be kinda right-wing. But he sure could play guitar. In 2011 he announced that he had Alzheimer's, but no cause of death has been released. He was 81.

Baby elephant temper tantrum

Yes, we all know why they're doing this, but still, the Proctor & Gamble ad made my eyes tear up.

Wow. If I didn't already know this was Al Franken, I never would have guessed.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Too late, my brothers, too late

I'd never seen this photo before last week when Colin Hinz posted it. Chuch Harris, Rob Hansen, me, and Sue Harris, at Toad Hall in Minneapolis before the 1989 Corflu, all looking so very much like ourselves..

The last couple-few weeks have been a bit harrowing for me, and I already hadn't been particularly thrilled by dragging myself at a slower and slower pace to the hospital every day for treatments. First I had an allergic reaction to the creams they gave me to protect my skin after radiotherapy, with agonizing results, and then in the midst of this misery, three friends of mine, all younger than me, died in the same week. Oh, and by the way, this year we've had the most virulent mosquitos I have ever experienced in my life, and maybe it was worse because my resistance was down but these bites are like superbites, y'know? One even required a trip to the hospital and antibiotics. But enough about that, because I've got way too many links to get to....

Here's a nice, short video that kinda says it all about the magic money tree.

Democrats and Republicans, together in evil. "U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminally Outlaw Support for Boycott Campaign Against Israel: But now, a group of 43 senators - 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats - wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country's decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison. [...] The bill's co-sponsors include the senior Democrat in Washington, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, his New York colleague Kirsten Gillibrand, and several of the Senate's more liberal members, such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Maria Cantwell of Washington. Illustrating the bipartisanship that AIPAC typically summons, it also includes several of the most right-wing senators such as Ted Cruz of Texas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Marco Rubio of Florida."
* But Gillibrand may be backing away after she was put on the spot in a town hall meeting.

Baltimore State's Attorney Dismisses 34 Cases After Officer Caught Allegedly Planting Drugs: [...] Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday, July 28, that over 100 cases are now under review following the release of police body camera footage from a January arrest that appears to show an officer planting drugs at a crime scene, The Baltimore Sun reported. She said 34 of the cases, which were all drug- or gun-related, would be thrown out, while 77 others are still being reviewed."

"64 Years Later, CIA Finally Releases Details of Iranian Coup: New documents reveal how the CIA attempted to call off the failing coup - only to be salvaged at the last minute by an insubordinate spy. [...] Declassified documents released last week shed light on the Central Intelligence Agency's central role in the 1953 coup that brought down Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh, fueling a surge of nationalism which culminated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and poisoning U.S.-Iran relations into the 21st century. [...] Known as Operation Ajax, the CIA plot was ultimately about oil. Western firms had for decades controlled the region's oil wealth, whether Arabian-American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia, or the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Iran. When the U.S. firm in Saudi Arabia bowed to pressure in late 1950 and agreed to share oil revenues evenly with Riyadh, the British concession in Iran came under intense pressure to follow suit. But London adamantly refused. So in early 1951, amid great popular acclaim, Mossadegh nationalized Iran's oil industry. A fuming United Kingdom began conspiring with U.S. intelligence services to overthrow Mossadegh and restore the monarchy under the shah. (Though some in the U.S. State Department, the newly released cables show, blamed British intransigence for the tensions and sought to work with Mossadegh.)"

Everyone made a big deal out of John McCain rising from his hospital bed to vote on the latest (at this writing) GOP health-destruction bill, but the media didn't notice The heroic Senator with severe cancer who interrupted treatment to vote... NO [...] Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii was just doing her job as a good politician, voting not to repeal the ACA so as to protect her constituents. She has Stage Four kidney cancer - that means scarce chances of survival - is recovering from a second surgery to remove part of a rib, and made sure she got to her seat in the Senate Chamber to vote 'no' to whatever Republican wealth-care crap was thrown at her."
* In any case, McCain surprised everyone by voting NO, along with Collins and Murkowski.

The strange case of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz's computer: "The Capitol Police and outside agencies are pursuing Imran Awan, who has run technology for the Florida lawmaker since 2005 and was banned from the House network in February on suspicion of data breaches and theft." But when they took a laptop believed to be important to the case, DWS was strangely reluctant to let them keep it and "threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with 'consequences' for holding equipment that she says belongs to her "As one of eight members of the Committee on Appropriations' Legislative Branch subcommittee, Wasserman Schultz is in charge of the budget of the police force that is investigating her staffer and how he managed to extract so much money and information from members. In a highly unusual exchange, the Florida lawmaker uses a hearing on the Capitol Police's annual budget to spend three minutes repeatedly trying to extract a promise from the chief that he will return a piece of evidence being used to build an active case. [...] The investigation is examining members' data leaving the network and how Awan managed to get Members to place three relatives and a friend into largely no-show positions on their payrolls, billing $4 million since 2010. [...] When The DCNF asked Wasserman Schultz Monday if it could inquire about her strong desire for the laptop, she said 'No, you may not.' After The DCNF asked why she wouldn't want the Capitol Police to have any evidence they may need to find and punish any hackers of government information, she abruptly turned around in the middle of a stairwell and retreated back to the office from which she had come."
* Anyway, they finally caught the guy trying to fly to Pakistan. The story in Forbs is amusingly titled, "The Exploding DNC IT Scandal Is As Crazy As Fiction."

The Democrats either are or aren't rolling out a new agenda. Pelosi says it's not a new agenda, just new presentation. She may be right, because their sloganeering sounds an awful lot like the same stuff they used to sell NAFTA. And giving subsidies to employers for offering on-the-job training they should already be offering is a bass-ackwards way of creating jobs in a demand crisis - people aren't buying because they have no money, so just give people money; go back to welfare-as-we-used-to-know-it and maybe we'll start having an economy again. (Also: A real infrastructure program in which the government directly hires individuals to enhance and rebuild infrastructure, with no out-sourcing or contracting, just lots of employees in stable jobs creating institutional memory of how to do things right.) But c'mon, we all know it's been a long time since Democrats seemed to care about trust-busting. In fact, they seem to have decided during the Clinton administration that there's nothing better than letting Malefactors of Great Wealth get together and take over everything. But David Dayen thinks they may finally be getting it: Now, Democrats say they're putting down roots. They say they have ideas. They rolled out their 'Better Deal' agenda on Monday, and a shockingly large portion of the platform is dedicated to breaking corporate power, and in particular monopoly concentration. It's a credit to the emerging New Brandeis movement that these ideas have been embraced at the highest levels of a political party. But will Democrats have the credibility to get a hearing from the public on a problem even they acknowledge they helped create?" That's a good question, since they've never come out and admitted that Bill Clinton really screwed the pooch on this. (In my fantasy, Wolf Blitzer asked Hillary during the debates what the hell they were thinking when they decided it was okay to get rid of all the regulations that had been put in place to prevent another depression, which had been shown to be effective for five decades. I have a lot of debate questions like that.)
* On the other hand, Damon Linker thinks that, "Democrats don't need 'A Better Deal.' They need Bernie Sanders.." For the credibility: "Had he won the presidency in 2016, political realities and limited resources would have forced Sanders to prioritize among these and other goals. Compromises would have needed to be struck. But those who voted for him would have known exactly where he stood, and what he would choose to do if he could. That would be the ground from which he began to work toward a compromise, not a position that already represented a pre-emptive capitulation to the other side, which is what Democrats have been doing ever since they made their peace with the Reagan revolution."

[Linker also reckons Clinton's book will not answer the question of how she lost. "And the answer is: Because Hillary Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate who ran an atrocious campaign and should never have been anointed as the presumptive nominee by the Democratic National Committee in the first place. If Clinton wanted to run for president while under investigation by the FBI, that was her business. But why on Earth would the DNC and the party's "superdelegates" decide so far in advance that a candidate running with that kind of baggage should be considered the inevitable victor? Aside from the obstacles it placed in the way of her one serious challenger (Bernie Sanders), it helped to discourage many others (including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren) from jumping into the race. Why bother when you know the party is standing against you?"]

"No 'litmus test': Desperate Democrats are now officially willing to back anti-choice candidates: The Democratic Party has decided to financially support candidates who oppose women's rights. [...] According to Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), the chairman of the House campaign arm, Democrats are willing to do whatever they can to win back the House in 2018, even if it means electing Democrats who oppose abortion, The Hill reported." This is not the way to do it.

Dept. of Silver Linings: Cory Booker's buddy "Betsy DeVos Is Making 'School Choice' Toxic for Democrats: Conservatives frame privatization as a civil rights issue, but Trump's extreme agenda is energizing racial justice and public education advocates." "School choice", which means vouchers and charter schools, is touted as a plan to improve education but is really intended to use public funds to segregate schools by class instead of race. But they love to pretend otherwise. "Trump's education policy advocates for both, and in his controversial appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary, he elevated a longtime champion of the cause. Like her boss, she has pitched school choice as a solution to racial inequities in education, saying in February that historically black colleges and universities 'are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality.'" OK, sit back and cogitate on that quote for a moment. In what way does it have anything to do with "choice" as presented by vouchers and charter schools? Black universities were created precisely because existing colleges wouldn't admit black students at all. America's public schools admit everyone, that's not the problem. The problem is that the right-wingers in government have manipulated funding and regulations to make sure that the public school system is outrageously underfunded and then added the new burden of charter schools to suck more public money out of the system and into the hands of profit-seekers. Vouchers would make this problem even worse, and, not incidentally, funnel more of that money - and more students - into religious schools. "But some Democrats, particularly in cities, have embraced the full school choice agenda. Anthony Williams, the former Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., appeared in an ad this year in support of DeVos, saying she 'fought by my side' for the District's voucher program. Senator Cory Booker supported charters and vouchers as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and sat on the board of Alliance for School Choice with DeVos. (He voted against her confirmation this year, but so did every Democrat.) In general, Democrats have stayed in the good graces of public school defenders by limiting their support to 'public school choice.' But now that the Trump administration is promoting charters as part of a broader school choice agenda, and civil rights groups are increasingly leery of charters, Democrats are facing pressure to oppose all privatization schemes."

"Saudi Investor Pours Millions Into British News Site, The Independent: LONDON - A mysterious Saudi-based investor has plowed millions of dollars into a British news organization renowned for championing liberal causes, in a move that will enrage human rights and media freedom campaigners. Sultan Mohamed Abuljadayel, 42, listed in company records as a Saudi-based Saudi Arabian national, has acquired up to 50 percent of the Independent website, whose newspaper shook Britain's journalism establishment in the 1980s before struggling financially and ditching the printed word in 2016."

"What's the link between charter schools, political donations and teacher certification in New York?: In New York state, most teachers of publicly funded schools have to be certified through a state-run process. Now, that may change. Many of the state's publicly funded charter schools may soon have the right to certify their own teachers with their own processes. (In some states, charter school teachers don't have to be certified at all.) The specific proposal is being considered by the board of trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) and a decision will be made shortly. The trustees oversee the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, which authorizes a good number of charter school operators in the state, including the well-known Success Academies charter network."

I mostly try to avoid paying much attention to the White House game of musical chairs, since it's tedious repeating that Trump has another horrible person working for him, but The Onion did not make up the quotes in Onion Fact Checks: Anthony Scaramucci's New Yorker Interview: "In an interview with The New Yorker earlier today, White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci leveled harsh criticism against the FBI and members of the Trump administration. The Onion fact-checks Scaramucci's claims."

Marcy Wheeler stopped being called by TV talk show producers when she said "blow-job" on the air. I don't think MSNBC is going to change their minds after her recent appearance on Democracy NOW: "National security journalist calls GOP donor 'ratf*cker' on live TV for role in Seth Rich and Benghazi hoaxes."

"Fired/Rehired: Police chiefs are often forced to put officers fired for misconduct back on the streets: Since 2006, the nation's largest police departments have fired at least 1,881 officers for misconduct that betrayed the public's trust, from cheating on overtime to unjustified shootings. But The Washington Post has found that departments have been forced to reinstate more than 450 officers after appeals required by union contracts."

Beat the Press, "Robert Samuelson Doesn't Think Diagnosing Diseases and Treatment Affect Outcomes: Shilling for Republicans and the Rich: You know the person who commits murder and the dead person really are both victims in Robert Samuelson land. His latest column on health care shows his great expertise in obscuring everything he touches to say it's all just so complicated."

For some July 26th fun, "Republican Sen. Steve Daines to make Democrats vote on single payer: Sen. Steve Daines is proposing an amendment to the Republican healthcare bill that would implement a government-run, single-payer insurance system in the U.S. The Montana Republican doesn't support single-payer healthcare. But in a bit of political gamesmanship often seen in Congress, Daines wants to force vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election in red states in 2018 to take a position on the liberal healthcare policy, which is gaining currency on the Left."
* But, "Bernie Sanders will foil Senate Republicans' single-payer trolling [...] 'The Democratic caucus will not participate in the Republicans' sham process. No amendment will get a vote until we see the final legislation and know what bill we are amending,' spokesperson Josh Miller-Lewis said in a text. 'Once Republicans show us their final bill, Sen. Sanders looks forward to getting a vote on his amendment that makes clear the Senate believes that the United States must join every major country and guarantee health care as a right, not a privilege.'"

Meanwhile, Shadowproof offers its own health care plan: Shadowproof is proud to contribute to the national health care debate by introducing our plan to transition the United States to a single-payer health care system. Our plan, the Medical Insurance and Care for All program (MICA), is a public health insurance program based on Medicare but open to all individuals. Employers will be required to buy their employees MICA or equally good private coverage. If one does not receive employer coverage, they will automatically be enrolled in MICA and charged for it in their taxes."

"Benjamin Netanyahu threatens to expel al-Jazeera from Israel: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said he would work to close the Jerusalem offices of al-Jazeera, accusing the Qatar-based television news network of inciting recent violence in the city."

Sharon Lerner in The Intercept, "100,000 Pages of Chemical Industry Secrets Gathered Dust in an Oregon Barn for Decades - Until Now: For decades, some of the dirtiest, darkest secrets of the chemical industry have been kept in Carol Van Strum's barn. Creaky, damp, and prowled by the occasional black bear, the listing, 80-year-old structure in rural Oregon housed more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others. As of today, those documents and others that have been collected by environmental activists will be publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers. Together, the library contains more than 200,000 pages of information and 'lays out a 40-year history of deceit and collusion involving the chemical industry and the regulatory agencies that were supposed to be protecting human health and the environment,' said Peter von Stackelberg, a journalist who along with the Center for Media and Democracy and the Bioscience Resource Project helped put the collection online.

At Mother Jones, "North Dakota's Norway Experiment: Can humane prisons work in America? A red state aims to find out." I'm excited by the idea of this type of change being tried in the United States, under a chief of prisons who really gets why it needs to be done.
* In the Economist, "Too many prisons make bad people worse. There is a better way: The world can learn from how Norway treats its offenders [...] Norway has the lowest reoffending rate in Scandinavia: two years after release, only 20% of prisoners have been reconvicted. By contrast, a study of 29 American states found a recidivism rate nearly twice as high. This is despite the fact that Norway reserves prison for hard cases, who would normally be more likely to reoffend. Its incarceration rate, at 74 per 100,000 people, is about a tenth of America's.

The Hill, "Schumer: Dems, not Russia, are to blame for loss to Trump: When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don't blame other things - [James] Comey, Russia - you blame yourself. So what did we do wrong? People didn't know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that."

Dean Baker, "The Washington Post's War on Disability Programs Continues [...] The assertion that the program will go broke is extremely misleading. Even if Congress never did anything it could still pay will over 90 percent of projected benefits for more than two decades into the future and even at the end of the 75-year planning period it is still projected to be able to pay over 80 percent of scheduled benefits. This is an important point since many politicians have advocated cutting benefits to keep the program fully funded. If the point is to ensure to prevent benefits from being cut due to a shortfall, cutting benefits to make up the gap doesn't help."

"Researchers shut down AI that invented its own language: An artificial intelligence system being developed at Facebook has created its own language. It developed a system of code words to make communication more efficient. The researchers shut the system down as it prompted concerns we could lose control of AI."

Ian Welsh, "A World Without Poor People (Sort of)" - The price of homes and food and fuel shoots up dramatically, and yet the Fed tells us there's no inflation. How does that work, exactly?

"Joseph Stiglitz Says Standard Economics Is Wrong. Inequality and Unearned Income Kills the Economy [...] The trickle-down notion - along with its theoretical justification, marginal productivity theory - needs urgent rethinking. That theory attempts both to explain inequality - why it occurs - and to justify it - why it would be beneficial for the economy as a whole. This essay looks critically at both claims. It argues in favour of alternative explanations of inequality, with particular reference to the theory of rent-seeking and to the influence of institutional and political factors, which have shaped labour markets and patterns of remuneration. And it shows that, far from being either necessary or good for economic growth, excessive inequality tends to lead to weaker economic performance. In light of this, it argues for a range of policies that would increase both equity and economic well-being. [...] The term 'rent' was originally used to describe the returns to land, since the owner of the land receives these payments by virtue of his or his ownership and not because of anything he or she does. The term was then extended to include monopoly profits (or monopoly rents) - the income that one receives simply from control of a monopoly - and in general returns due to similar ownership claims. Thus, rent-seeking means getting an income not as a reward for creating wealth but by grabbing a larger share of the wealth that would have been produced anyway. Indeed, rent-seekers typically destroy wealth, as a by-product of their taking away from others. A monopolist who overcharges for her or his product takes money from those whom she or he is overcharging and at the same time destroys value. To get her or his monopoly price, she or he has to restrict production."

"U.S. Intelligence Veterans Believe the 'Russian Hack' of DNC Computers May Have Been an Inside Job: Forensic studies of 'Russian hacking' into Democratic National Committee computers last year reveal that on July 5, 2016, data was leaked (not hacked) by a person with physical access to DNC computers, and then doctored to incriminate Russia."

Steven Thrasher in the Guardian, "The Democrats' performance as an opposition party? Pathetic: Though Trump is historically unpopular for a president at this moment in his presidency, the opposition is not benefiting from this obvious opportunity. [...] When the poll came out saying that 'Democrats stand for nothing more than opposing' Trump, I thought to myself, 'If only that were true!'' But they can't even do that well. When House Democratic Caucus chairman Joe Crowley was asked by the Associated Press just what his party's core message was, he 'hesitated' and then said, 'That message is being worked on.' It was as tone deaf (but honest) an answer as when Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum - as sycophantic a representative of the Democratic party in the punditocracy as there is - wrote about how people would have to be 'crazy' not to 'have a reflective disgust' of people who are homeless and mentally ill. Considering homeless people are also disproportionately black, LGBT, disabled and, of course, poor, Drum managed to reveal the disdain the liberal elite has of wide swaths of Americans."

Margaret Kimberly in Black Agenda Report, "Freedom Rider: Kamala Harris and America's Oligarchs: California's new senator is actively being vetted as the 'next Obama, ' or 'Obama 2.0' -- a youngish, biracial corporate Democrat and a woman. Democratic honchos are betting that 'white people will consider her exotic enough to be acceptable and black voters will rally around her.' The oligarchic George Soros likes Harris, who did him a favor by refusing to indict one of his banks. Most importantly, Harris is all about 'form' -- not 'reform.'

"Why leftists don't trust Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick: The contest for control of the Democratic Party between left and center is continuing apace. The latest battleground is over a handful of minority Democrats being groomed by the centrist establishment to run for office: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. If the center wants to win over a suspicious left, they can start by clearly explaining their policy orientation, particularly in areas where they might have fallen short by the supposed standards of the modern Democratic Party - which all three of the above candidates have done in various ways. If they want to deepen divisions, they can use cynical accusations of bigotry to try to beat back any leftist challenger." Maybe Kamala Harris can explain why she protected West One from prosecution for all its crimes, but I don't see how Deval Patrick can rid himself of his ties to Bain Capital, being managing director, and Cory Booker's entire career is backed by genuine right-wing Republicans who want to destroy education and the teachers' unions.

Here's a few highlights from Kamala Harris' record. From 2010, "Judge rips Harris' office for hiding problems: San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris' office violated defendants' rights by hiding damaging information about a police drug lab technician and was indifferent to demands that it account for its failings, a judge declared Thursday. [...] But in a scathing ruling, the judge concluded that prosecutors had failed to fulfill their constitutional duty to tell defense attorneys about problems surrounding Deborah Madden, the now-retired technician at the heart of the cocaine-skimming scandal that led police to shut down the drug analysis section of their crime lab. [...] Massullo wrote that top drug prosecutor Sharon Woo's Nov. 19 memo about Madden showed that prosecutors "at the highest levels of the district attorney's office knew that Madden was not a dependable witness at trial and that there were serious concerns regarding the crime lab.""
* From January of this year, "Treasury Nominee Steve Mnuchin's Bank Accused of 'Widespread Misconduct' in Leaked Memo [...] In the memo, the leaders of the state attorney general's Consumer Law Section said they had 'uncovered evidence suggestive of widespread misconduct' in a yearlong investigation. In a detailed 22-page request, they identified over a thousand legal violations in the small subsection of OneWest loans they were able to examine, and they recommended that Attorney General Kamala Harris file a civil enforcement action against the Pasadena-based bank. They even wrote up a sample legal complaint, seeking injunctive relief and millions of dollars in penalties. But Harris's office, without any explanation, declined to prosecute the case. [...] Why did her office close the case, deciding not to 'conduct a full investigation of a national bank's misconduct and provide a public accounting of what happened,' as her own investigators had urged?" Perhaps it was because, "Harris Was Only 2016 Senate Democratic Candidate to Get Cash From Mnuchin." Her non-explanation sounds like classic evasion to me.
* Either Harris had no idea what her own office was doing (and didn't care to find out), or she knew that lawyers for her office argued in court not to process parole release of non-violent offenders because the state wanted to use them as free fire-fighting labor. Harris purported to be shocked, but in that case, why didn't she already know?

"The One Word Guaranteed to Make the Corporate Pundit Class Squirm: 'Neoliberalism' isn't a left-wing insult but a monstrous political system of inequality. [...] Neoliberalism is not particularly hard to define. It's not only an ideology or a set of principles; it's a system of practices, and an era, the one we're living in now. What it means, over and above everything, is untrammeled ruling-class power, an end to the class-collaborationism of the post-war years and a vicious assault of the rich against the poor. This is achieved through market mechanisms, fiscal austerity and the penetration of capitalist relations into every possible facet of human life. It doesn't mean that the role of the state vanishes - an essential precondition for neoliberalism is the destruction of working-class power and collective bargaining, and this has to be achieved, often brutally, through laws and their enforcement. There isn't just "some role for market forces" either, but their invasion into every fathomable social situation."

Mike Konczal in Vox, "'Neoliberalism' isn't an empty epithet. It's a real, powerful set of ideas. [...] One highly salient conflict was the fight over free college during the Democratic primary. It wasn't about the price tag; it was about the role the government should play in helping to educate the citizenry. Clinton originally argued that a universal program would help people who didn't need help - why pay for Donald Trump's kids? This reflects the focus on means-tested programs that dominated Democratic policymaking over the past several decades. (Some of the original people who wanted to reinvent the Democratic Party, such as Charles Peters in his 1983 article 'A Neoliberal's Manifesto,' called for means-testing Social Security so it served only the very poor.) Bernie Sanders argued instead that education was a right, and it should be guaranteed to all Americans regardless of wealth or income. The two rivals came to a smart compromise after the campaign, concluding that public tuition should be free for all families with income of less than $125,000 - a proposal that is already serving as a base from which activists can build. This points to a disagreement as we move forward. Should the Democratic Party focus on the most vulnerable, in the language of access and need? Or should it focus on everyone, in the language of rights? [...] Another place we can see a break in the Democratic Party is in its view of full employment. Between 1944 and 1988, the phrase 'full employment' was found in every Democratic Party platform and was commonly mentioned in Democratic State of the Union addresses. As an excellent new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a group called Fed Up, and the Center for Popular Democracy underscores, full employment was also a core demand of the civil rights movement. Then it disappeared, and was only put back in the platform for the 2016 election. [...] Or take the general stance toward the business community. Another policy concern that has entered, and departed, the Democratic platform over time is the antitrust agenda - worries about the concentration of big business. The 2016 Democratic platform said: 'Large corporations have concentrated their control over markets to a greater degree than Americans have seen in decades' and that Democrats "will make competition policy and antitrust stronger and more responsive." Again, that marked a return of language that was prevalent in the mid-century period but that disappeared after 1988."

"The Great Recession never ended [...] Taken together, the American economy looks quite similar to that of around 1939 or so. Back then, the New Deal had partially fixed the Great Depression, but had failed to restore full employment due to anxious politicians (including FDR) flipping out about the budget deficit and turning to austerity. It took the stupendous mega-spending of war mobilization to break the political deadlock and restore full employment and production. In 1939 as today, many argued that limp performance was simply the best that could be done. But it turned out after the war the economy did not collapse back to its prewar levels. Instead (after a brief hiccup from demobilization) it rocketed up into its greatest boom in history. Without the war, it's easily possible that America would have continued stuck in a quasi-depression indefinitely - as we appear to be today. But conversely, there is every reason to at least try to smash the economy back up to trend with another very large stimulus. Without it, we're due to start our second Lost Decade next year."

From National Nurses United and The Sanders Institute, "Medicare for All vs. All the Healthcare That Each Can Afford [...] So what's stopping us? Supporters of our market-driven model typically sabotage efforts to provide Medicare for all by focusing on how we would pay for it. This is disingenuous. We are already paying for it; we're just not receiving it. Approximately two-thirds of U.S. healthcare expenditures already come from taxpayers in the form of federal, state, and local government spending.35 Healthcare in the U.S. costs more both because of administrative complexity and higher prices, rather than increased utilization. The comparisons of U.S. spending and health outcomes to other countries strongly suggest that there is enough money in our current system to provide healthcare for all, if we spend that money fairly and wisely. The key point is to demonstrate that there is enough money currently being spent on healthcare in the U.S. to provide Medicare for all, rather than specifying particular funding mechanisms."

Dean Baker in the Guardian, "How about a little accountability for economists when they mess up?: There must be a huge change in our attitude to economics. Needlessly complex work merely supporting the status quo must be halted. [...] The problem is not that modern economics lacks the tools needed to understand the economy. Just as with firefighting, the basics have been well known for a long time. The problem is with the behavior and the incentive structure of the practitioners. There is overwhelming pressure to produce work that supports the status quo (for example, redistributing to the rich), that doesn't question authority, and that is needlessly complex."

Emmett Rensin, "Left with rage: When Trump is gone, the bourgeoisie alliance will turn its full power on the left, and the real work will begin."

RIP: Alan Dorey (1958-2017). popular British sf fan and fanzine publisher, co-founder of Interzone, and more recently, a radio show host/DJ. I listened to a few of his shows on the web (though I can't seem to find them, now), they were pretty good. Alan had only very recently learned that he had a particularly aggressive throat cancer, and died before word had time to get around that he was ill. This was particularly shocking news since he didn't seem to be aging like the rest of us and we thought he had a painting in the attic.

RIP: Julie Gomoll, 1962-2017, well-known science fiction fan and digital pioneer, sister of Jeanne (who introduced us all to her), and who wrote: "She sold one business and took a solo trip around the world with some of the proceeds. She built a world-renown design company. She enrolled in culinary school and became a master chef. She became an expert in advising folks, including the Tiptree Award, on social media strategies. Other times we'd talk about our family, about our businesses, about her adopted home-town and always about her beloved dogs." Jackie Dana wrote a nice tribute to Julie. There's more bio on this page for a memorial fund.

RIP: Jordin Kare (1956-2017), who I first saw on Usenet beginning sentences with, "Now, I'm no rocket scientist - oh, wait, I am," and who was highly-regarded among filkers but mainly I liked him and really enjoyed that Christmas he and Mary Kay spent with us, of cardiac problems.

RIP: June Foray, the great cartoon voice artist. Mark Evanier says, "She was Rocky the Flying Squirrel. She was Natasha Fatale. She was Nell Fenwick. She was Jokey Smurf. She was Cindy Lou Who. She was Granny, owner of Tweety. She was Witch Hazel. She was Chatty Cathy. She was thousands of others. [...] Everyone hired her because she was always on time, always professional and what she did was always good. It was her good friend, director Chuck Jones who said, 'June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc is the male June Foray.'" Mark also wrote a little more on the legendary June here. She would have been 100 in September.

RIP, "Jeanne Moreau, Femme Fatale of French New Wave, Is Dead at 89"
* "Jeanne Moreau: a life in pictures"

RIP: The NYT says, "Sam Shepard, Pulitzer-Winning Playwright and Actor, Is Dead at 73 [...] in Kentucky of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease" - But they left out his stint as a member of the Holy Model Rounders. His prolific output does, of course, include some science fiction.
* And the Guardian has "Sam Shepard: a life in pictures".

Rick Perlstein, "Outsmarted: On the liberal cult of the cognitive elite [...] 'Thomas Jefferson once said the American people won't make a mistake if they're given all the facts,' Ronald Reagan liked to say. Thomas Jefferson, naturally, never said such a thing - and just as naturally, by 'won't make a mistake' Reagan meant 'won't disagree with Ronald Reagan.' Ronald Reagan once starred in a movie with a chimp. He was not 'smart.' Which was why, a Carter White House staffer once told me, Carter's strategists in 1980 were confident that if they could only get Reagan standing next to Carter for one head-to-head debate, they would have the election in the bag. They finally got that debate scheduled for a week before the election. At the time, the two candidates were running about neck and neck. Reagan, of course, ended up winning in a landslide. It's pretty remarkable how 'smart' people keep on making the same mistake. [...] How do you make it in America now? Everyone knows. You get 'smart': you apply yourself to education. Faith in the salvific power of education is an old story among Democrats. Lyndon Johnson, his White House aide George Reedy recalled, 'had an abnormal, superstitious respect for education. I believe he even thought it would cure chilblain.' I've always loved that quote. Now I better understand why: often, the cult of 'smart' is a superstition. In LBJ's time, to believe in it was 'abnormal.' Now, that belief is collective - quite nearly unanimous."

"The Unfinished Work of Alan Lomax's Global Jukebox [...] In 1983 Lomax established the Association for Cultural Equity, known as ACE, a nonprofit dedicated to addressing that tension, largely by making sure the communities he had recorded reaped some reward. This spring, the organization unveiled the Global Jukebox, a free, interactive web portal with recordings of more than 6,000 folk songs from around the world that Lomax recorded or acquired. Most have never been publicly available."

I don't agree with everything Lance says here, but he does illuminate a few interesting insights in "The warped, frustrated old and young men and women of Bedford Falls." Like that one person can make a difference, but nobody can do it alone, and that Bedford Falls is not the opposite of Pottersville.

Someone corrected a right-wing meme that's going around.

Thanks to Mike and Mark and Rosa for the help, I'm really grateful. I think this is the first time anyone has actually noticed my Amazon wishlist. (And for the record, I prefer paperbacks and can take Kindle, but sometimes I unobservantly click on the first version of a title I see and don't take note of whether it's hardcover or paperback or digital, because I'm forgetful that way.)

Peter, Paul & Mary, "All My Trials"