"Operation Cross Country X: Everything You Need to Know About the FBI's Annual 'Underage Human Trafficking' Sting In One Chart" - Hundreds of law enforcement agencies nationwide get together to bust mostly adult prostitutes and the johns.
"How Comcast Muscled Its Way out of Negative Political Ads: There are few things people agree on in this world more readily than their abhorrence of Comcast. Thanks to its price gouging and infamous customer service, the odious telecom monopoly was named Consumerist's "Worst Company in America" in both 2010 and 2014. The company has even been criticized for violating free-speech provisions via throttling - the intentional slowing of internet service to certain websites. Now, Comcast is under fire for messing with political advertisements in Oregon."
"We Never Voted for Corporate Rule: The $66 billion sale of Monsanto is yet another reminder of how corporations have colonized the world and subverted democracy. To regain our future, we must claim our right to popular sovereignty."
Matt Stoller in The Atlantic, "How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul: In the 1970s, a new wave of post-Watergate liberals stopped fighting monopoly power. The result is an increasingly dangerous political system."
* Also on the subject of monopoly power (and how Robert Bork - yes, that Bork - started the ball rolling), Sam Seder interviewed Barry Lynn on how it directly threatens democracy and what we can do about it.
* "What Voters Need to Know About Wall Street and Economic Policy: Mike Konczal, a financial-engineer-turned-popular-progressive-blogger, offers his views on the 2008 financial meltdown and the ways in which it changed both political parties."
Dday is worried that the Clinton campaign has already chosen it's key staffers and we need to push hard to make sure they are to our liking. I don't actually consider it that surprising that they've already got their players lined up, but push-back is certainly something people should be ready to do.
"Major New Court Ruling Says 'Even The President' Can't Declare Torture Lawful: "In a robust ruling in favor of Abu Ghraib detainees, an appellate court ruled Friday that torture is such a clear violation of the law that it is 'beyond the power of even the president to declare such conduct lawful.' The ruling from a unanimous panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates a lawsuit against a military contractor for its role in the torture of four men at the notorious prison in Iraq. Last June, a district court ruled that a 'cloud of ambiguity' surrounds the definition of torture, and that despite anti-torture laws, the decision to torture was a 'political question' that could not be judged by courts. That ruling echoed the widely discredited legal theories of the Bush administration, which argued that the war on terror gave the president the inherent authority to indefinitely detain and torture terror suspects, and conduct mass surveillance on Americans' international communications. But the Fourth Circuit soundly rejected that theory, saying that the United States has clear laws against torturing detainees that apply to the executive branch." About damned time.
"ACLU Wants 23 Secret Surveillance Laws Made Public: The ACLU has identified 23 legal opinions that contain new or significant interpretations of surveillance law - affecting the government's use of malware, its attempts to compel technology companies to circumvent encryption, and the CIA's bulk collection of financial records under the Patriot Act - all of which remain secret to this day, despite an ostensible push for greater transparency following Edward Snowden's disclosures."
"Leading US civil rights organizations call for decriminalization of personal drugs: American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch report finds last year someone was arrested every 25 seconds for low-level drug offenses in the US."
Over the last week there seems to have been a sudden upsurge in attacks on Assange, first with his internet access being shut off by the Ecuadorian embassy, then with that perennial favorite that gets dragged out when all else fails, the completely unsubstantiated and frankly unbelievable claim that Assange is a pedophile. Seriously.
* Ecuador Admits They Silenced Assange Because Clinton Leaks Were 'Interfering' With US Election
* Gee, I wonder why I don't cite Bipartisan Report a lot. "JUST IN: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange CAUGHT In Alleged Sex Chat With Child (REPORTS)
* "Background and Documents on Attempts to Frame Assange as a Pedophile and Russias spy"
David Dayen, "When You Find Out Your Neighbors Own Your House and They Try to Evict You" - What it means when the banks broke the cadastre - the chain of title.
* "Robert Scheer and David Dayen Uncover Untold Stories of the Mortgage Crisis [...] That's right. What they did on the back end, after they fell into foreclosure, and reading those foreclosure documents, and seeing the discrepancy, and seeing that they're being sued by people they've never heard of before, entities that they've never heard of before, and seeing that the alleged transfer to that entity was executed after they were put into foreclosure. In other words, by the evidence they were presented, U.S. Bank, in the case of Lisa Epstein, didn't own the loan at the time that they foreclosed on her, and that's just the beginning."
Dean Baker, "Volcker and Peterson: Ignoring the Lack of Demand Problem: Former Federal Reserve Board Chair Paul Volcker and private equity billionaire Peter Peterson had a NYT column this morning complaining that not enough attention is being paid to the national debt. The piece uses wrong-headed economics and xenophobia to try to scare readers into backing their austerity agenda. On the economic side, it implies that the prospect of a rising debt to GDP ratio implies an imminent crisis. [...] There are several points to be made here. First the ratio of debt service to GDP is currently just 0.8 percent. (This is net of interest payments rebated by the Federal Reserve Board.) This is near a post-war low. By comparison the ratio was over 3.0 percent in the early and mid-1990s. In other words, the reality is the exact opposite of what Volcker and Peterson claim, the burden of the debt on the economy is unusually low.
* David Dayen, "Debate Moderators Under the Spell of Deficit-Obsessed Billionaire Pete Peterson: THE COMMITTEE FOR a Responsible Federal Budget, an organization that is virtually unknown outside of Washington, was nonetheless cited in four different questions during this year's presidential and vice-presidential debates. Moderators Elaine Quijano and Chris Wallace, seemingly unable to string together an intelligent thought about domestic policy on their own, outsourced their questions to a cabal of self-styled serious grown-ups who believe that advocating for cutting Social Security and Medicare makes them look like paragons of virtue. But members of Washington's media elite are virtually the only people left in America still buying the well-funded nonsense CRFB and its Wall Street backers have been selling for decades. Every time their ideas get exposed to the public, they are rejected wholesale. While the D.C. cocktail-party circuit sees deficit scare tactics as steely-eyed wisdom, the national constituency for such monomania could fit in a mid-sized sedan." I didn't think writing about Pete Peterson's antics could be so funny.
By the way, Dean Baker has a book out, Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer. "There has been an enormous upward redistribution of income in the United States in the last four decades. In his most recent book, Baker shows that this upward redistribution was not the result of globalization and the natural workings of the market. Rather it was the result of conscious policies that were designed to put downward pressure on the wages of ordinary workers while protecting and enhancing the incomes of those at the top. Baker explains how rules on trade, patents, copyrights, corporate governance, and macroeconomic policy were rigged to make income flow upward."
Our friend Alice Marshall also has a book out, on How to stop voter suppression before it begins, called The Precinct Captain's Guide to Political Victory.
"Group accuses Mike Pence of voter suppression after state police raid registration program in Indiana: A progressive advocacy group is launching an advertising campaign accusing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who also is the Republican vice-presidential nominee, of allowing voter suppression after state police raided the offices of a voter registration program aimed at signing up African Americans."
"UN Expert Decries Global Assault on Freedom of Expression: The findings reveal 'how policies and laws against terrorism and other criminal activity risk unnecessarily undermining the media, critical voices, and activists'"
"We're Missing The Point About Trump's Charges Of Illegitimate Elections." I think most readers of The Sideshow are aware that if the Republicans are accusing the Democrats of doing something shady, that means the Republicans are doing it. But the Republicans also have a long history of declaring any Democratic presidential winner illegitimate. Strangely, the one president of our lifetimes who can genuinely be called "illegitimate", George W. Bush, is not given this label by the Democratic establishment. Funny how that happens.
"An Unpredictable, High-Stakes Election [...] On election night, Wasserman Schultz was announced the winner by a commanding lead of 13.5%. However, we have examined statistical analysis of the race from four separate analysts and after detailed demographic research have concluded that there are red flags that deserve further investigation." This is Florida, where people have constantly complained that the machines flip their votes.
David Sirota, "Hillary Clinton And Wall Street: Financial Industry May Control Retirement Savings In A Clinton Administration: While Hillary Clinton has spent the presidential campaign saying as little as possible about her ties to Wall Street, the executive who some observers say could be her Treasury Secretary has been openly promoting a plan to give financial firms control of hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement savings. The executive is Tony James, president of the Blackstone Group."
* Yves Smith, "Blackstone's Tony James Touting What Looks Like Hillary's Scheme to Gut Social Security: In other words, this is the worst of all possible worlds. You have an individual account, but you are not permitted to invest in stocks and bonds; you may not be permitted even to choose your asset allocation. Worse, James' language suggests that the vehicles will be 'run by professional asset managers,' as in many or perhaps all will be actively managed, as opposed to indexes. As any student of John Bogle will tell you, paying for active managers is a waste of money, but Hillary wants to go that route on an industrial scale so as to further enrich grifters like Tony James (let us not forget that the Blackstone has paid fines in an SEC settlement for charging fees it was not authorized to take, which in most walks of life would be called embezzlement). And of course, private equity is on the list of preferred investment. And even better: James holds up private equity as a solution, just as it supposedly is for public pension funds, even as Blackstone was one of the first private equity firms to warn that returns in the future would be paltry. Indeed, the valuations of the private equity firms that are public say that they expect none of them will be earning any carry fees over the next few years. It's perverse to see James praise public pension funds for their high allocations to alternative investments even when he and his private equity colleagues snigger privately about their lack of sophistications."
* Sirota again, "Wall Street 2016: Firms Managing Pension Money Spend Millions To Support Governors, Despite Pay-To-Play Rule."
David Dayen, "Debate Moderators Under the Spell of Deficit-Obsessed Billionaire Pete Peterson: THE COMMITTEE FOR a Responsible Federal Budget, an organization that is virtually unknown outside of Washington, was nonetheless cited in four different questions during this year's presidential and vice-presidential debates. Moderators Elaine Quijano and Chris Wallace, seemingly unable to string together an intelligent thought about domestic policy on their own, outsourced their questions to a cabal of self-styled serious grown-ups who believe that advocating for cutting Social Security and Medicare makes them look like paragons of virtue. But members of Washington's media elite are virtually the only people left in America still buying the well-funded nonsense CRFB and its Wall Street backers have been selling for decades. Every time their ideas get exposed to the public, they are rejected wholesale. While the D.C. cocktail-party circuit sees deficit scare tactics as steely-eyed wisdom, the national constituency for such monomania could fit in a mid-sized sedan." I didn't think writing about Pete Peterson's antics could be so funny.
"Trump TV? CNN's Jeff Zucker explains how he became Donald's useful idiot: Until very recently, it seemed self-evident that Donald Trump was the biggest raging moron in American public life. But that was before CNN president Jeff Zucker's star turn before the guardians of establishment wisdom at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government."
Hélène Barthélemy in The Nation, "The Agency Designed to Protect Civilians From the Police Actually Protects Police From Civilians: The CCRB, it seems, was an agency doomed to uselessness from the start. On September 16, 1992, 10,000 protesters descended on City Hall. They blocked traffic for the better part of an hour, climbing over cars, buses, and police barricades. Some were violent and inebriated, and a few physically assaulted members of the press, as others hurled racist epithets at New York's first African-American mayor, David Dinkins. They eventually burst through barricades into the City Hall parking lot, much to the indifference of the 300 uniformed police officers there to oversee the demonstration. The protesters were off-duty cops. sent in by police unions and egged on by would-be mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, they were indignant over that day's heated hearing on a bill supported by Mayor Dinkins. The bill was designed to establish an independent civilian agency providing oversight of police, at a time not too different from today, when unrelenting police brutality was the subject of both weekly headlines and unyielding protests. The agency was pushed for by a 'rainbow coalition' of community groups, civil-liberties agencies, and City Council representatives."
James O'Keefe hits paydirt. They got a video of a Democrat talking about sending people to Trump rallies to start fights. But it means some people are starting to talk about O'Keefe like he's...legitimate.
* And just in time, because some people are also saying that "Trump Could Be Quietly Building a Media Empire," and O'Keefe is expected to have a place in it.
"Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer Says Top Priority for Next Year Is Giant Corporate Tax Cut: New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, likely to be majority leader next year if Democrats take back the Senate, told CNBC Tuesday that one of his top two 2017 priorities would be an enormous corporate tax cut."
Best line of the general election season so far comes from Richard J. Eskow: "They're Dorian Gray, and Trump is their picture."
"What Richard Branson Understands About Trump That Half The Punditocracy Doesn't [...] For more than a year, pundits have treated Trump's occasional populist talk as sincere. It never was. It was about getting back at people. That's Trump's prime motivation in life."
Not much has changed since 2007, when this came out: "Special Report: Democratic House Officials Recruited Wealthy Conservatives: This letter sent from then DCCC Head Rahm Emanuel to Democratic House hopeful Jan Schneider underscores a DCCC policy of remaining "neutral" in primary races. Schneider soon came to doubt the letter's sincerity."
RIP: "Phil Chess, the Polish immigrant who brought blues to the world: The Chess Records co-founder was first inspired by music he heard through the walls of a Baptist church, and went on to make an indelible mark on music history."
* Tom Hayden, Civil Rights and Antiwar Activist Turned Lawmaker, Dies at 76, of complications after a stroke. A long time ago, I met Tom and his wife of the time, Jane Fonda, in a local church. It was Jane I ended up arguing with, so I can't say much about Tom, although I had seen him at events where SDS made presentations. In recent years, he has been most notable for making silly endorsements of Democratic primary candidates Senator Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton, but in his younger years, he made his mark with The Port Huron Statement, a document that was remarkable in its time, and perhaps today as well.
* Bobby Vee: 1960s pop singer dies aged 73. He did two of my favorites, "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes" and "Take Good Care of My Baby".
* Sherri S. Tepper, 87. John Scalzi, said: "This is genuinely upsetting news for me: Locus is reporting the death of Sheri S. Tepper, who wrote the Hugo-nominated novel Grass among many others, and who was given a lifetime achievement award by the World Fantasy Convention just last year. Tepper was in her late 80s, and had an accomplished life outside of her considerable writing career, including being an executive director of the Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood in Colorado, so one can't precisely say this is an unexpected development. But she was one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy writers, and an influence on my thinking about SF/F writing, so to have her gone on is still a deeply depressing thing." Me, I loved her books. Here's the obit at Tor.com.
* "Steve Dillon: Judge Dredd, Preacher and Punisher comic artist dies" - he was 54.
* "RIP Jack Chick, father of the Satanic Panic." Cory Doctorow said, "The paranoid, hateful minicomics pioneer is now dead. No one will say how he came to be dead." Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian, posted a cartoon in his honor that you can print out and leave around for people to find, just like the real thing (only different).
This one always seemed appropriate for Halloween to me: "St. James Infirmary", with Betty Boop.