Thursday, October 19, 2017

With every mistake, we must surely be learning

We Can Have Nice Things: "We CAN have nice things. We can provide a well-paying job for anyone who wants one. Medicare-for-All. Child care. Tuition-free public college and excellent public schools. Modern infrastructure including high-speed rail from city to city. We CAN have nice things that make our lives better. The US government issues its own currency. That means We the People can spend on what we want and need without worrying about 'how to pay for it.' We just pay for it by issuing money. The government can't go bankrupt."

Charlie Pierce, "If the Democrats Don't Learn This Lesson, They Deserve to Lose Forever: Progressive candidates can win anywhere. Contest every race."

Apparently, the Trump administration's trade reps are doing a better job than you'd expect. You know this because: "Chamber calls many Trump administration NAFTA proposals 'dangerous'" And the Chamber is against those changes for the usual reasons, too. "In an unusual turn, the AFL-CIO - which on Thursday gave the Trump administration an "F" for the openness of the negotiations - came to the defense of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who is spearheading the NAFTA talks. 'The U.S. Chamber's negative reaction to even discussing creative trade solutions reveals a lot about how much corporate CEOs benefit under the NAFTA status quo,' AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement Friday. He also accused the business group of trying to keep 'the same old broken trade rules' at the expense of working people."

I've always found the "libertarians" a good place to get a bitter laugh, not least because of their ludicrous argument that the right to bear arms will protect us from tyranny. Never mind that hundreds of years of history already show that tyrants can take over without ever troubling about citizens with guns - the Russian people had guns, as did the German people - but they still say this as if it had any foundation at all. (It's not even the reason for the Second Amendment, which had more to do with George Washington's disgust at how badly untrained and unregulated militias performed, and the founders' hope that well-regulated local militias would prevent the existence of standing armies. Alas, no.) But with the data showing that guns aren't much use for self-defense and a stadium full of people with guns would only have resulted in more deaths rather than fewer in the most recent high-profile shooting tragedy, Matt Taibbi says, "The Gun Lobby Is Down to Its Last, Unconvincing Excuse: Las Vegas rips apart the "good guy with a gun" justification, leaving only a flawed constitutional take to justify the madness. [...] Here's my question about that. Where were all these heroic tyrannophobe gun owners during the unprecedented expansion of police and surveillance powers that took place after 9/11? Answer: nowhere. We didn't hear them shrieking about habeas corpus becoming a joke in the Bush years, or torture and extrajudicial assassination becoming standard practices. We didn't hear them protesting the vast expansion of the classification of government documents, or complaining about the widespread abuse of material witness statutes, the national security letter provision of the Patriot Act, or a hundred other problems. Nor did they ever protest aggressive new domestic enforcement policies like stop-and-frisk and predictive policing, for the obvious reason that those programs were mostly directed against minorities in poor neighborhoods." It's even weirder than that, when you consider how much they hated Obama and kept talking about what a fascist dictator he was - and he even declared himself to have the right to kill American citizens without trial, and did so - but they didn't exactly overthrow the tyrant, did they?

Zach Carter, "Trump's Tax Plan Is An Act Of Political Domination By The Rich: But at least we don't have to pretend it isn't. Most Americans suffer from the unfortunate delusion that economic problems are violations of some mathematical order. When recession, severe inflation or other hard times engulf society, it is because the sacred equations have been angered. If we adjust the right variable just so, a set of very important numbers will respond appropriately, and a process of mystical, self-sustaining prosperity will begin. Knowledge of these secret statistical potions is closely guarded, and its practitioners deploy sophisticated abstractions to explain away common-sense calls for reform. Why do so many people work 60-hour weeks for poverty wages while a few luxuriate in the fabulous returns of interest-bearing assets? Why are the citizens of Puerto Rico threatened by a deadly social collapse while the fruit of the island's labor is shipped to Wall Street bondholders? The answer surely cannot be that some wealthy members of our society are exercising political power over the lives and incomes of others. We must consider growth, productivity, liquidity, gross domestic product and the debt-to-GDP ratio. But at the heart of every important economic issue are simple and straightforward power relationships. When you are in debt, someone else has financial power over the ordering of your affairs. Wealth enables rich people to buy their way out of troubles that overwhelm the lives of the poor. For much of our history, the American government granted some people the right to own other people. Economic problems are political problems. They have always been so; they can never be otherwise."

Zack Carter and Ben Walsh, "Congress Is Doing A Huge Favor For BofA While No One Else Watches: WASHINGTON ? House and Senate committees will consider an obscure bill called the 'Fair Access to Investment Research Act' on Thursday. It will not be a major media event. The bill, which will likely sail through Congress, will not cause a new financial crisis, bar millions from accessing health insurance or undermine any foreign policy alliances. But it will help one company - Bank of America - make money by avoiding lawsuits. [...] But even if Democrats do stop it ? Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has filed an amendment that would eliminate one of the most glaring problems with the bill ? the fact that a favor for Bank of America is the source of bipartisan cooperation on Capitol Hill speaks volumes about congressional priorities." The bill passed in the House.

"The U.S. Voted Against a U.N. Resolution Condemning Death Penalty for LGBTQ People: President Donald Trump's administration is facing strong backlash from civil rights groups after voting against a U.N. resolution that condemns using death penalty to punish 'consensual same-sex relations.' The U.N. Human Rights Council approved the measure on Friday with a 27-13 vote, with seven countries abstaining. The United States, led by Amb. Nikki Haley, voted for an amendment to the resolution that said the death penalty was not necessarily a human rights violation, and voted against amendments urging countries to stop using experimental drugs in executions. [...] The Trump administration's vote is nothing new - presidents from both parties have long objected to U.N. resolutions critical of capital punishment. In December 2016, for example - in the final weeks of Obama's presidency - the U.S. voted against a resolution urging states not to execute minors, pregnant women, and the intellectually disabled.

Russ Feingold in the Guardian, "Will the fate of America's democracy be decided by this US supreme court case? On Tuesday, the US supreme court hears oral arguments in Gill v Whitford. This will open the door for a potentially precedent-setting ruling on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering - the process of redrawing electoral districts in order to favor one party over another."

"Common Cause challenges partisan gerrymandering in NC: In a potentially landmark lawsuit, Common Cause and the N.C. Democratic Party Friday launched the nation's latest challenge to partisan gerrymandering. The suit, filed in a federal court in Greensboro, follows a long parade of redistricting litigation in North Carolina. It's also one of several suits around the country contesting the use of partisanship in drawing political boundaries."

"Early Medicaid Expansion Associated With Reduced Payday Borrowing In California: We examined the impact of California's early Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act on the use of payday loans, a form of high-interest borrowing used by low- and middle-income Americans. Using a data set for the period 2009-13 (roughly twenty-four months before and twenty-four months after the 2011-12 Medicaid expansion) that covered the universe of payday loans from five large payday lenders with locations around the United States, we used a difference-in-differences research design to assess the effect of the expansion on payday borrowing, comparing trends in early-expansion counties in California to those in counties nationwide that did not expand early. The early Medicaid expansion was associated with an 11 percent reduction in the number of loans taken out each month. It also reduced the number of unique borrowers each month and the amount of payday loan debt. We were unable to determine precisely how and for whom the expansion reduced payday borrowing, since to our knowledge, no data exist that directly link payday lending to insurance status. Nonetheless, our results suggest that Medicaid reduced the demand for high-interest loans and improved the financial health of American families. "

David Dayen in The Nation, "Special Investigation: How America's Biggest Bank Paid Its Fine for the 2008 Mortgage Crisis - With Phony Mortgages!: Alleged fraud put JPMorgan Chase hundreds of millions of dollars ahead; ordinary homeowners, not so much. [...] Here's how the alleged scam worked. JPMorgan moved to forgive the mortgages of tens of thousands of homeowners; the feds, in turn, credited these canceled loans against the penalties due under the 2012 and 2013 settlements. But here's the rub: In many instances, JPMorgan was forgiving loans on properties it no longer owned."
* Sam Seder discussed the story with Dday on The Majority Report.
* Charlie Pierce asked, "How Is This Not Fraud?" Charlie, it is fraud.

PDF of "FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS: THE MEGABANK ACCOUNTABILITY AND CONSEQUENCES ACT: Running a federally-chartered or federally-insured bank is a privilege, not a right. When megabanks repeatedly exhibit indifference toward consumer protection and demonstrate that they are incapable of complying or unwilling to comply with U.S. laws and regulations, they should be promptly shut down. To date, the federal prudential banking regulators (The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Federal Reserve Board) have neglected to fully exercise their authorities to shut down such a megabank and hold culpable executives and board directors individually accountable. To that end, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, is introducing the Megabank Accountability and Consequences Act to require the federal prudential banking regulators to fully utilize existing authorities - such as the ability to shut down a megabank and ban culpable executives and directors from working at another bank - to stop megabanks that clearly and repeatedly engage in practices that harm consumers. The bill also clarifies and enhances the enforcement tool kit to ensure that megabanks and their executives will be held accountable for repeatedly breaking the law and harming consumers."

Ari Berman in Mother Jones, "Trump Election Commission Leader Sought a Radical Change to a Key Voting Law: New documents show that Kris Kobach wanted Trump to make it much harder to register to vote."

"IMF: higher taxes for rich will cut inequality without hitting growth: Analysis supports tax strategy of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour in UK - and undermines that of Donald Trump in US. Higher income tax rates for the rich would help reduce inequality without having an adverse impact on growth, the International Monetary Fund has said. The Washington-based IMF used its influential half-yearly fiscal monitor to demolish the argument that economic growth would suffer if governments in advanced Western countries forced the top 1% of earners to pay more tax. The IMF said tax theory suggested there should be 'significantly higher' tax rates for those on higher incomes but the argument against doing so was that hitting the rich would be bad for growth. But the influential global institution said: 'Empirical results do not support this argument, at least for levels of progressivity that are not excessive.' The IMF added that different types of wealth taxes might also be considered."

"US police killings undercounted by half, study using Guardian data finds: US police killings undercounted by half, study using Guardian data finds "

"Brazil's President Michel Temer Says Rousseff was Impeached for Refusing His Economic Agenda: Brazilian President Michel Temer let an open secret become explicitly clear during a speech to business and foreign policy leaders yesterday in New York. The country's elected and now-removed President, Dilma Rousseff, was impeached because of her position on economic policy, rather than any alleged wrongdoing on her part, her installed successor admitted. Temer's stunning, and seemingly unscripted, acknowledgement will surely bolster the view of impeachment opponents that Dilma's removal was a 'parliamentary coup d'etat.'"

I can't believe the number of hate threads that were generated by the announcement that one of the speakers on the first night of the women's convention would be Bernie Sanders. Sanders is not the only male speaker, and the headliner is Maxine Waters, but when some news outlets put out the story, you'd have thought he was the only speaker invited, to see some of the ridiculous nuttery on Twitter. (Hillary Clinton had already declined to attend.)

William Lazonick in The Harvard Business review, "Profits Without Prosperity: Five years after the official end of the Great Recession, corporate profits are high, and the stock market is booming. Yet most Americans are not sharing in the recovery. While the top 0.1% of income recipients - which include most of the highest-ranking corporate executives - reap almost all the income gains, good jobs keep disappearing, and new employment opportunities tend to be insecure and underpaid. Corporate profitability is not translating into widespread economic prosperity. The allocation of corporate profits to stock buybacks deserves much of the blame. Consider the 449 companies in the S&P 500 index that were publicly listed from 2003 through 2012. During that period those companies used 54% of their earnings - a total of $2.4 trillion - to buy back their own stock, almost all through purchases on the open market. Dividends absorbed an additional 37% of their earnings. That left very little for investments in productive capabilities or higher incomes for employees."

"How military outsourcing turned toxic: new Propublica logoIn August 2016, an inspector from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency arrived at Barksdale Air Force base in Louisiana, a nerve center for the U.S. military's global air combat operations, to conduct a routine look at the base's handling of its hazardous waste. Barksdale, like many military bases, generates large volumes of hazardous materials, including thousands of pounds of toxic powder left over from cleaning, painting and maintaining airplanes. For years, Barksdale had been sending a portion of its waste to an Ohio company, U.S. Technology Corp., that had sold officials at the base on a seemingly ingenious solution for disposing of it: The company would take the contaminated powder from refurbished war planes and repurpose it into cinderblocks that would be used to build everything from schools to hotels to big-box department stores - even a pregnancy support center in Ohio. The deal would ostensibly shield the Air Force from the liability of being a large producer of dangerous hazardous trash. The arrangement was not unique."

"The Scariest Thing About Trump's Presidency Is How Little Has Actually Changed [...] This is the very best advice I could give anyone who's trying to piece together an intelligent worldview in an information age that is saturated in establishment propaganda: ignore the stories and watch events. Ignore the rude tweets, the Russia hysteria, the partisan feuds, the wedge politics etc., and look instead at who gets richer, who gets poorer, what actually happens to all the money, how that money influences politics, the legislation that actually gets passed, the military budget which continually expands, the military interventionism which marches on unimpeded, the surveillance network which continues to encircle the globe with an ever-tightening fist, the governments which fall into alignment with America and what happens to the governments that don't, etc. This will tell you everything you need to know about what's really happening in your world, who your real enemies are, and what humanity is really up against."

"Somtow wins European Cultural Achievement award: Thai composer, conductor and novelist Somtow Sucharitkul has won the 2017 European Award for Cultural Achievement."

"A Review of What Happened by an Author Who Insists He Has Never Heard of Hillary Clinton or the 2016 Election [...] We saw it happen not because Hillary Clinton is particularly wretched or terrible - no one person is so consequential - but because the depravity of our empire is straining under its own weight. Because it is barely able to tolerate its contradictions anymore. Hillary Clinton is not singularly responsible for any of this, but this book is not about Hillary Clinton, not really. It's about power. I meant that. It's about what you have to believe if you believe that an adequate response to the present moment consists of trusting the experts, recalibrating the polling computer, and returning the Democratic Party to power. It's about what to do if you missed what happened, if you forgot what happened, if you want all of this to happen again."

Adam Johnson at FAIR, "Media's Grim Addiction to Perseverance Porn [...] These stories are typically shared for the purposes of poor-shaming, typically under the guise of inspirational life advice. 'This man is proof we all just need to keep walking, no matter what life throws at us,' insisted Denver ABC7 anchor Anne Trujillo, after sharing one of those stories of a poor person forced to walk thousands of miles a year to survive. A healthy press would take these anecdotes of 'can do' spirit and ask bigger questions, like why are these people forced into such absurd hardship? Who benefits from skyrocketing college costs? Why does the public transit in this person's city not have subsidies for the poor? Why aren't employers forced to offer time off for catastrophic accidents? But time and again, the media mindlessly tells the bootstrap human interest story, never questioning the underlying system at work. [...] Journalism is as much - if not more - about what isn't reported as what is. Here a local reporter is faced with a cruel example of people falling through the cracks of the richest country on Earth, and their only contribution is to cherry-pick one guy who managed - just barely - to cling on to the edge. [...] It's part of a broader media culture of anecdotes in lieu of the macro, moralizing 'success' rather than questioning systemic problems. Perseverance porn may seem harmless, but in highlighting handpicked cases of people overcoming hardship without showing the thousands that didn't - much less asking broader questions as to what created these conditions - the media traffics in decidedly right-wing tropes. After all, if they can do it, so can you - right?"

Bill Black, "Is Politico or Third Way More Divorced from Reality? [...] I have written several times and documented that Third Way is a creature of, and devoted to, Wall Street's CEOs. Third Way's con is describing itself as 'centrist.' Wall Street CEOs are not centrist. They include the world's most powerful and destructive predators and parasites. The 'left, right, center' metaphor does not apply to a group like Wall Street's CEOs. The latest media sucker to fall for Third Way's con is Politico. Politico fell whole hog, calling Third Way a 'center-left think tank.' Fortunately, Google's recent purge of New America Foundation scholars has proved that 'think tanks' financed by elite corporate CEOs are oxymorons run by regular morons. The one thing you can never do as a scholar at a faux 'think tank' like Third Way is actually think - and then make public the perfidy of the corporate CEOs that fund the non-think tank. Third Way is Wall Street on the Potomac, so it is preposterous to call it 'center-left.' It keeps its corporate funders secret to maximize their corrupting influence. It is one of many Pete Peterson front groups."

"These are the Facebook posts Russia used to undermine Hillary Clinton's campaign: Russian Facebook and Twitter accounts masqueraded as pro-Trump Americans when they took aim at Clinton." The idea that anyone who would otherwise have voted for Clinton would have paid attention to this stuff is just completely laughable.

"Beautiful Girls Scribe Scott Rosenberg On A Complicated Legacy With Harvey Weinstein

"'We Are Not the People We Have Been Waiting For': Prominent Progressive Resigns from State Central Committee [...] So many young people were involved. Tech savvy and invested. There was no hiding from mistakes and the doors were wide open on everything. They were reading state party constitutions and by-laws. They came to meetings prepared after sharing information on how things were supposed to be done only to find that nothing was done the way it was written on most occasions. People that had been involved for a long time took this to be an 'invasion' of the party. A huge divide started that was much larger than the 'Bernie v Hillary' thing but everyone likes to blame it on that and continue to do that to this day. Do you see it? Do you see it that way? Or is it just still a 'Bernie v Hillary' thing to you? We play our own game of 'the rules apply only to those outside our circle'"

This is from last March, a tweetstorm Teresa compiled together in a single post for Making Light, on Wealth, risk, and power.

RIP: "Tom Petty, a Mainstay of Rock With the Heartbreakers, Dies at 66 [...] Tony Dimitriades, Mr. Petty's longtime manager, said in a statement that Mr. Petty suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, Calif., early Monday morning and was taken to the U.C.L.A. Medical Center, where he could not be revived. He was pronounced dead at 8:40 p.m. with family members, friends and bandmates present at the hospital, Mr. Dimitriades said." There was a long period on Monday night when There was some confusion about whether the artist was actually dead, after a premature announcement by the local police apparently beginning while he was still on life support though showing no brain function. It was later announced that he was taken off life support but there was no announcement that he had died, leading to a Twitter thread on Schroedinger's Tom Petty. But it was clear from the first announcement that a third chair was empty for the Travelling Willburys, Roy Orbison and George Harrison having gone on before, leaving only Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne.

See the trailer for The Brainwashing of My Dad. "As filmmaker Jen Senko tries to understand the transformation of her father from a non political, life-long Democrat to an angry, Right-Wing fanatic, she uncovers the forces behind the media that changed him completely: a plan by Roger Ailes under Nixon for a media takeover by the GOP, The Powell Memo urging business leaders to influence institutions of public opinion, especially the universities, the media and the courts, and under Reagan, the dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine."

Atrios linked this and I thought, "That's perfect." Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (And, my god, that boy sure looks like his dad.)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Nobody wanna take the blame

Charlie Savage, "E.P.A. Threatens to Stop Funding Justice Dept. Environmental Work: WASHINGTON - Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator who has aggressively pushed to dismantle regulations and downsize the organization, is threatening to reach outside his agency and undermine the Justice Department's work enforcing antipollution laws, documents and interviews show."

"House votes to curb asset seizures: The House voted Tuesday to curb the law enforcement practice of seizing cash and property from people who are suspected of illegal activity but who have not necessarily been charged. A bipartisan group of lawmakers pushed an amendment to a government-spending package for 2018 that would prohibit the Trump administration from using funds to remove restrictions on the use of asset forfeiture. The practice allows law enforcement to seize cash and property and keep at least part of the proceeds."

"New Fed Data: Black Wealth Cratered Under Obama: The Federal Reserve released the 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances today. This is the first wealth survey of its kind since 2013. By comparing the 2007 and 2016 versions of the SCF, we can see roughly how the various racial groups fared under Obama. What you see in the below graphs is that the top 2 percent of black families improved their position; the top 2 percent of Latino families improved their position; and the top 22 percent of white families improved their position. Virtually everyone else was worse off in 2016 than in 2007 in terms of their family's net worth." (The graphs make sense if you mouse over them.)

Bernie Sanders & Amy Klobuchar debate Lindsay Graham & Bill Cassidy about the horrible Obamacare repeal bill, full video. Boy, that Cassidy is one clever weasel.

"How Bernie Sanders got Democrats to stop worrying and embrace single-payer [...] Over the past several months, Sanders has convinced 24 of the biggest liberal advocacy organizations and nearly one-third of Senate Democrats to co-sponsor his updated Medicare-for-all bill. It is a sharp reversal for the party that once relegated the idea to its radical fringe: Just two years ago, Sanders couldn't find a single co-sponsor for his bill. [...] The combined result of Sanders's carrot-and-stick approach - the implicit threat of criticism from the outside, the concessions from within - is a single-payer bill that 15 Senate Democrats have publicly said they will support, and an abrupt transformation in a political party's health care policy position that almost nobody could have guessed even a few months ago. "

But "Democratic leaders keep distance from Sanders single-payer plan: Democratic support for a single-payer health-care system has grown by bounds this year, attracting more lawmaker endorsements than any time in the past. But one group is conspicuously not on board: party leaders. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday previewed the much-anticipated release of Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) 'Medicare for all' bill by taking the notable step of refusing to throw their weight behind it. 'Right now I'm protecting the Affordable Care Act,' Pelosi told a group of reporters in the Capitol."

Back in September, Gaius Publius was saying that the sudden emergence of Democrats signing on to Sanders bill was open rebellion that forced our enemies to show us where they stand rather than the usual "closed rebellion" where everything is done quietly behind closed doors so that the establishment can be protected from being seen for what they are by the public. "If you keep these points in mind as the debate evolves, you'll be well-positioned to understand what ensues," he wrote at the time. Howie Klein's "The Third Way Has Always Been A Fancy Excuse For Politicians Taking Massive Special Interest Bribes is almost a companion piece toward the end, with details confirming that sentence. And also reminding people of what a disgusting piece of crap Tony Blair is, I'm happy to say.
* Howie also notes that while even the worst Democrats are not quite as bad as the worst Republicans, it just isn't true to say that every Democrat is better than any Republican.

Dean Baker, "Why Don't Normal Liability Rules Put Equifax Out of Business? [...] In terms of breaches, we don't know how much damage people will suffer from the most recent one but suppose we just give a nominal amount, say $100, to each of the 140 million victims. This would come to $14 billion. If people suffer serious damage in the form of stolen identities leading to phony credit charges and stolen assets, the damages would be hugely higher. The revenue (not profits) of the three credit agencies is $10 billion a year, If these companies faced liability in accordance with the actual harm caused by preventable errors, it is difficult to see how they could stay in business. This raises the question of what sort of legal liability the credit agencies face."

Ryan Cooper in The Week, "Trump made his very first halfway smart political move. Too bad it's too late. The federal debt limit, an archaic holdover from a century ago, needs to be raised again soon. Remarkably, President Trump has reached an agreement with congressional Democrats not just to raise it, but to look into abolishing it altogether - drawing the fury of the congressional Republican leadership. What is perhaps most surprising is that it took this long for Trump to try this tactic - and long past when it would have possibly worked. Folks - and by the way, everyone is saying this, you'd be surprised - the president is stupid."

Republicans claim that passing their health care bill "keeps campaign promises" - but it doesn't look much like the campaign promises Trump made. Fortunately, it all fell apart again when they couldn't get the votes.

Sam Seder had Marcy Wheeler on to explain the latest state of play. She seems more convinced than I am that Guccifer is with the Russians, but even she admits it's only what they say, and not what we can see.
* Sammy also had Stephanie Kelton on again for another tutorial on Modern Monetary Theory and how it works.

Charlie Pierce, "Chuck and Nancy Just Played Don Like a Fiddle."

David Dayen in The Nation, "Did President Trump Really Strike A Deal That Screwed Republicans?: The whole question revolves around whether Democrats actually want to play hardball. [...] All that said, Republican leaders might see this turn of events as positive, regardless of what they are saying in public. They had a packed schedule to deal with in September, and this allows them to put off some major decisions. Plus, they can place the blame with President Trump instead of themselves. It takes some pressure off leadership from the rank and file. To see this as truly good for Democrats, you have to believe that there's some endgame for which Chuck and Nancy are willing to hold out. Do people really think that Democrats would play games with the full faith and credit of the US government? I simply don't see them being that ruthless; this is a difference between the parties. Democrats generally aren't interested in crippling the government, but that's what they'd have to be willing to risk in order to succeed in the negotiations."

Alice Speri, "Israel Security Forces Are Training American Cops Despite History of Rights Abuses: It's not uncommon for residents of America's most heavily policed neighborhoods to describe their local cops as 'an occupying force.' Judging by where many U.S. police forces get their training, the description seems apt. Thousands of American law enforcement officers frequently travel for training to one of the few countries where policing and militarism are even more deeply intertwined than they are here: Israel."

Ari Berman, in Mother Jones, "A New Study Shows Just How Many Americans Were Blocked From Voting in Wisconsin Last Year [...] The study's lead author, University of Wisconsin political scientist Kenneth Mayer, says between roughly 9,000 and 23,000 registered voters in the reliably Democratic counties were deterred from voting by the ID law. Extrapolating statewide, he says the data suggests as many as 45,000 voters sat out the election. 'We have hard evidence there were tens of thousands of people who were unable to vote because of the voter ID law,' Mayer told me. "

In Harper's, "Crime and Punishment: Will the 9/11 case finally go to trial?"

Matt Stoller in The Nation, "How America Could Collapse: Supply chain shocks have already led to shortages of videotape and auto parts. Could food or medicine be next?"

Bernie Sanders' book tour took him to Stephen Colbert.

Bernie Sanders Explains What a Progressive Foreign Policy + National Security Strategy Look Like. There were a few phrases that made me cringe, but overall he is outlining a better approach, f'sure - a path to peace.
* Senator Sanders' interview with The Intercept, "Bernie Sanders: Saudi Arabia Is 'Not An Ally' And The U.S. Should 'Rethink' Its Approach To Iran

"Tom Perez, former U.S. labor secretary, to teach at Brown" So much for his being a better choice than Ellison because he would make party chair his full-time job....

Bloomberg, "Obama Goes From White House to Wall Street in Less Than One Year [...] But Jeff Hauser, who studies political corruption as head of the Revolving Door Project in Washington, said Obama should play by the same rules as other politicians because of his ongoing work with the Democratic Party. 'He's continuing to exercise the authority,' Hauser said, citing Obama's support for the party's redistricting committee and the push he gave Tom Perez in the race to head the Democratic National Committee. If he wants to play a role, 'he ought to forgo a few hundred thousand here and maybe a half-million there.'"

"Obama: 'The world has never been healthier, wealthier or less violent': Former president urges optimism and focus on progress at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation conference, despite shadow cast by Trump's UN speech." And despite the shadow cast by how these neoliberals have made the world a poorer and more violent place.

"ACLU of Missouri Files Lawsuit Against City of St. Louis for Unconstitutional Police Conduct: ST. LOUIS - The ACLU of Missouri filed a lawsuit today against the city of St. Louis for unlawful and unconstitutional actions against people during the Stockley verdict demonstrations of the past week."

Dday in The New Republic, "Why You Should Side With Google Against an Anti-Sex Trafficking Bill: People of all political stripes now argue for regulation that treats these companies as public utilities, like the telephone industry, or for stronger antitrust regulation - that is, to break up these giants. The first real legislative test amid this more hostile atmosphere comes Tuesday at a hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee. Tech firms, in particular Google, are being criticized for quietly opposing a bipartisan bill that would let victims of sex trafficking sue websites that facilitate it. The companies contend that, while they oppose sex traffickers like Backpage.com, the bill would create a slippery slope toward limiting or removing all user-generated web content, the lifeblood of sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. It's hard to be coolly rational about heinous crimes like forced prostitution. But on the merits, this bill would have troubling implications for free speech online. As this backlash against Silicon Valley grows, we need to be careful that a desire to constrain tech monopolies doesn't harm the rest of us."

A little research from Hamline University professor David Schultz, "Swing Counties and Why Clinton Really Lost? It Wasn't Sanders Fault...It was Hers."

Democratic pollster, Stanley Greenberg, on "How She Lost [...] The campaign's approach senselessly and increasingly drove up Trump's margin in white working-class communities, tipping Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The analytics model built around these assumptions was so simple-minded it portended disaster. Despite overwhelming evidence that the Democratic base wasn't consolidated or excited, the campaign believed Trump's tasteless attacks and Clinton's identification with every group in the rainbow coalition would produce near universal support. Thus, they stopped trying to persuade voters and measured only the probability of support for Hillary. The campaign's task was turning out those Clinton voters, and they fell frustratingly short."

"A massive new study reviews the evidence on whether campaigning works. The answer's bleak: In general elections, campaigns' attempts to win swing voters appear to not work at all. [...] This doesn't mean that political campaigns never matter. Kalla and Broockman find that these activities can persuade voters in primary elections and during ballot-initiative campaigns. Campaigns can still effectively turn out voters whose minds are already made up about a candidate, and voters can and do change their opinions when prompted by politicians they"

"The Boring Story of the 2016 Election: Donald Trump did not win because of a surge of white support. Indeed he got less white support than Romney got in 2012. Nor did Trump win because he got a surge from other race+gender groups. The exit polls show him doing slightly better with black men, black women, and latino women than Romney did, but basically he just hovered around Romney's numbers with every race+gender group, doing slightly worse than Romney overall. However, support for Hillary was way below Obama's 2012 levels, with defectors turning to a third party. Clinton did worse with every single race+gender combo except white women, where she improved Obama's outcome by a single point. Clinton did not lose all this support to Donald. She lost it into the abyss. Voters didn't like her but they weren't wooed by Trump.

Shock Tactics: In the most detailed study ever of fatalities and litigation involving police use of stun guns, Reuters finds more than 150 autopsy reports citing Tasers as a cause or contributor to deaths across America. Behind the fatalities is a sobering reality: Many who die are among society's vulnerable - unarmed, in psychological distress and seeking help."

"Democrats are losing their most loyal voters: black women. [...] These voters aren't running into the arms of Republicans, of course - just one percent of respondents said the GOP best represents them. But the percentage of black women who said neither party represents them jumped from 13 percent in 2016 to 21 percent in 2017. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat in the Congressional Black Caucus, addressed the news after the poll's release at the Washington Convention Center. 'I respect independents. I understand independents,' she told the crowd, arguing that her party needs to do more to communicate its values. 'I've never said I'm in the Democratic Party because I like to party,' she said. 'I'm in there because of values.'"

"Obama pollster Cornell Belcher on the failures that led to President Trump: 'What happens to a centrist Democrat who can't hold the Obama coalition?': Trump didn't 'remake the electorate.' argues leading Democratic pollster. Instead, Hillary and her party blew it [...] Again, Trump didn't expand the Republican tent. He didn't bring in all these millions upon millions of new Republican voters. This was about Democrats losing, more so than Trump remaking the electorate and winning in some sort of profound and new way. It should not have been a winning percentage, right?"

Pierce, "You're Not Supposed to Say This Out Loud: Deficits are just a talking point when Democrats are in power."
* Atrios said much the same thing, "Nobody Ever Cared About The Deficit: The simplest proof of the fact that almost every political reporter was either dumb as rocks, happy to be lied to, or, most likely, was on board with the ideology that government spending money on anything except war is bad, was that they took deficit concerns seriously. Nobody cares about the deficit (and, mostly, they shouldn't!). [...] They don't care. They never cared. Republican presidents run up the deficit and Democratic ones bring it down, and after decades of this the Republicans are still the party of fiscal responsibility according to political journalists. Republicans hate spending any money for nice things and love tax cuts for rich people. That's it. I am a dumb blogger and I know this. You all get paid big salaries by our leading media outlets and you are stupid or liars."

"'I Wanted to Tell the Story of How I Had Become a Racist:' Historian Charles B. Dew: In The Making of a Racist, professor Charles B. Dew describes his evolution from a 'young Confederate' to an outspoken critic of racism."

RIP: Charles Bradley, soul singer, at 68: Sam Cooke sang about a change that was gonna come. It spread optimism to black Americans. Charles Bradley, on the other hand, sang of moral corruption and turning to love to survive, because who knows when change will finally come."

RIP "Hugh Hefner: Playboy magazine founder dies aged 91: Playboy Enterprises Inc said he passed away peacefully at home in Los Angeles, from natural causes." (Playboy's own obit for Hefner is here.) A lot of feminists won't say this, but I will: Playboy was a great contributor to the sexual revolution, supporting reproductive rights and making sex something you could actually discuss and ask questions about. The Playboy Advisor I read when I was a teenager and young adult was thoughtful and not sexist at all, often giving truly useful advice to men and women alike. (I noticed in later years that he'd been replaced by someone else who wasn't nearly as good.) Its support for civil rights was undoubtedly a helpful addition to the discourse. Yes, famously, when an Ursula Le Guin story was published in its pages, she appeared as "U.K. Le Guin", but Playboy paid top dollar for science fiction stories (!), even to someone named "Ursula", as well as publishing, every month, some of the best interviews on topical issues of every kind. In 1965, Martin Luther King gave his longest interview ever to Alex Haley for Playboy; in a 1968 issue of Playboy, Haley interviewed George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party. (They had already published his interview with Malcolm X in 1963.) And of course, Playboy was there with it's timely interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, which had already been scheduled for publication, by sheerest coincidence, to appear just after Lennon's murder. Hefner's fight to force the US Post Office to carry Playboy to subscribers through the mails was a major victory for free speech which still has impact today on both what's delivered to your front door and what is on the internet. And Hefner was there with the money Dick Gregory needed to pressure the FBI to find the bodies of three murdered civil rights workers. He wasn't the father of the sexual/revolution by any means, but he brought it to the public and fought to preserve it, and made civil rights a moral imperative for many who had probably given it little thought. That's no small thing.

Jay Rosen "Getting granular with the claim that Trump is some media wizard: That our President is a master of media manipulation is a view commonly expressed by American journalists. I doubt it." I've long wondered about this. What is it about journalists that makes them so willing to dance to Trump's tune?

This article is terrible framing and has some of the worst sentences I've seen on the subject. I really wish people wouldn't do this stuff. It's not illuminating and it just implies something that isn't true. Stoppit! And here's an article by someone else who doesn't like these sorts of articles. "Ta-Nehisi Coates, however, illustrates the debilitating limits of what 'identity politics' has now come to represent, something far from the radical and coalitional practice of the Combahee River Collective: a moralizing discourse which monopolizes the discussion of race, yet fails to propose either a coherent theory of racial oppression or a viable program for eliminating it. Coates deploys his considerable erudition and rhetorical flourish in service of sheer obfuscation - the story of whiteness as magic and Trump as sorcerer. Despite the gingerly placed historical references, in Coates's telling whiteness has no history. It is a malevolent force which surges from the netherworld in moments which can only be identified by the intensity of Coates's own feelings - the American Dream become Coates's personal nightmare."

Beat the Press, "Washington Post News Article Argues It is Better to Tax Work Than Vacant Property in London: Economists usually argue that it's best to tax the things you want discourage, like cigarettes, alcohol, and gasoline, not things you want to encourage, like work. That is why it is striking that the Washington Post could not find one economist who thought that a plan in London to tax vacant housing units is a good idea."

Alex Pareen, "You Are Jonathan Chait's Enemy [...] Something that is well-known to people who've read Chait for years, but may not be apparent to those who just think of him as a standard-issue center-left pundit who is sort of clueless about race, is that he is engaged in a pretty specific political project: Ensuring that you and people like you don't gain control of his party. I say 'you' because his conception of the left almost certainly includes you. He is not merely against Jill Stein voters and unreconstructed Trotskyites and Quaker pacifists. He means basically anyone to the left of Bill Clinton in 1996. If you support a less militaristic foreign policy, if you believe the Democratic Party should do more to dismantle structural racism and create a more equitable distribution of wealth, if you think Steve fucking King is a white supremacist, Chait is opposed to you nearly as staunchly as he is opposed to Paul Ryan."

Sam Seder did an interesting interview with George Monbiot about Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis on The Majority Report.

Paul Jay of Reality Asserts Itself talked with Thomas Frank about how the Democratic Party hates the base and has been trying to purge us since Clinton.

"How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America: America didn't used to be run like an old Southern slave plantation, but we're headed that way now. How did that happen?"

Christy Thornton: Narco States & Neoliberalism - MR Live - 9/11/17

"The Jones Act: The Law Strangling Puerto Rico [...] After World War I, America was worried about German U-boats, which had sunk nearly 5,000 ships during the war. Congress enacted the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, a.k.a. the Jones Act, to ensure that the country maintained a shipbuilding industry and seafaring labor force. Section 27 of this law decreed that only American ships could carry goods and passengers from one United States port to another. In addition, every ship must be built, crewed and owned by American citizens. Almost a century later, there are no U-boats lurking off the coast of Puerto Rico. The Jones Act has outlived its original intent, yet it is strangling the island's economy. Under the law, any foreign registry vessel that enters Puerto Rico must pay punitive tariffs, fees and taxes, which are passed on to the Puerto Rican consumer. [...] The foreign vessel has one other option: It can reroute to Jacksonville, Fla., where all the goods will be transferred to an American vessel, then shipped to Puerto Rico where - again - all the rerouting costs are passed through to the consumer."

Katherine Krueger, "Hillary Clinton Will Never Understand What Happened [...] 'When someone shows you who they are, believe them,' Clinton said again and again on the campaign trail. Unfortunately for her, this goes both ways. Through decades of being a Washington insider, Clinton has shown herself to be a foreign policy hawk, a capitalist of the highest order, and an opportunist who's been tarred with the 'slime' of many scandals even she recognizes can never be fully washed away. Above all, Clinton has relentlessly embraced the notion that politics must bend to the world as it is - no matter how sordid - rather than imagine the world as it could or should be. It is this quality that she defends perhaps most zealously in What Happened, despite the fact that her unapologetic embrace of that ethos helped create the world that gave us Donald Trump. In 2016, Clinton showed people who she was. Voters in the crucial states that decided the race believed her, and rejected her. In What Happened, she shows us again. Nearly a year later, the image hasn't changed."

Sam Kriss in The Huffington Post, "What Should Have Happened In Hillary Clinton's Useless Book: An artless and inauthentic memoir, written by the absence of Clinton. [...] Vagueness seeps everywhere. Discussing her decision to launch a second presidential bid, Clinton protests that she wasn't simply after power. 'I wanted power to do what I could to help solve problems and prepare the country for the future. It's audacious for anyone to believe he or she should be President, but I did.' What problems? Solve them how? The answers reveal a strange antinomy of her liberal-centrist leadership cult. Clinton's policy team started using data and focus groups to work out what problems Americans were concerned with, and started scouring think tanks for solutions. Clinton is not partisan or ideological. She simply follows the facts. In other words, she did something that absolutely anyone else should be capable of doing. She is an exceptional individual who deserved to be president, precisely because she's just another cog in the bureaucratic machine. In the counter-democratic universe of establishment managerialism, elections are just another interview process for another government job; the winner should be the person with the most gold stars on their résumé, and we can trust that they're embedded enough in the mechanisms of government to use their authority properly. It's a politics of systems and social control: Power is always a question of efficiency and problem-solving, never one of justice. Trump, too, is a member of the New York ruling classes. He is also blissfully unencumbered by any cohesive ideology, preferring 'deals' (read: bipartisanship) and 'answers' (read: solutions). He is also someone who wanted power; not to do anything in particular with it, but because he thought he deserved it."

Bryce Covert in The New Republic, "Deadbeat Democrats: How Bill Clinton set the stage for the GOP's war on the poor. [...] In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan's talk of lazy 'welfare queens' and 'strapping young bucks' buying expensive steaks on the government's dime had turned welfare into a dirty word. By 1989, two-thirds of Americans thought welfare made people dependent and 'content' to stay poor. Feeling hemmed in by white voters who had responded to Reagan's racemongering about the shiftless poor guzzling up government benefits, Clinton decided to make a sort of Faustian bargain: He would 'reform' welfare in a way that would detoxify the politics around it, gambling that the move would create more support for a strong safety net in the long run. 'Once taxpayers started viewing the poor as workers, not welfare cheats, a more generous era would ensue,' The New York Times observed in 2000, summing up the rationale for Clinton's wager on welfare reform. 'Harmful stereotypes would fade. New benefits would flow.' Celebrating the law's passage in 1996, Clinton repeated his Reaganesque justification for sweeping change. 'The current welfare system undermines the basic values of work, responsibility, and family,' he declared, 'trapping generation after generation in dependency.' In the end, though, Clinton never succeeded at getting more generous benefits for the poor. And his bet on 'reform' turned what was once a helping hand into a slap in the face - and an utter disaster for the vulnerable. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act ended the Great Society promise of cash benefits for all families in need. It imposed work requirements on recipients of welfare benefits, and allowed states to erect further barriers to aid. And it plunged millions into even deeper poverty. In 1996, nearly 70 percent of poor families received benefits. Today it's less than 25 percent. And that's not because they all found decent jobs and developed the sense of 'personal responsibility' and 'self-sufficiency' that Clinton loved to preach about. According to a study of low-income single mothers, more than 20 percent go for months at a time with neither employment nor benefits. Since 1995, the number of Americans living on $2 or less a day has nearly tripled - including some three million children."

"Centrism.biz: Scathing New Parody Site Rips Mask Off 'Zombie Neoliberalism' [...] But what about an online home for the dedicated centrists: for those who prefer small ideas to large ones; for those who oppose both fascism and universal healthcare; for those who take money from the murderous Saudi regime and still claim to value human rights? Centrists, the wait is finally over: Centrism.biz is the brand new, one-stop shop for all things 'moderate.'"

"15 Percent? 20 Percent? It Doesn't Matter, Because Tipping Culture Is Fundamentally Broken: Leaving a tip isn't only payment for services, it is a mark of social and economic superiority -- which is why workers in the US resisted the system in the 19th century."

"What sex workers want should be a vital part of feminist politics [...] Whether or not sex work should be considered a job or a form of violence against women is a question that has featured in feminist debates for decades. Those who fully advocate decriminalising sex work do so because they believe that granting sex workers the support, labour rights and legal protections of any other type of employment is the best way to help them stay safe."

Was Malcolm in the Middle actually a socialist masterpiece? "Malcolm in the Middle showed that the promises of neoliberalism had always been false."

"Orange is the new green: How orange peels revived a Costa Rican forest: PRINCETON, N.J.--In the mid-1990s, 1,000 truckloads of orange peels and orange pulp were purposefully unloaded onto a barren pasture in a Costa Rican national park. Today, that area is covered in lush, vine-laden forest. A team led by Princeton University researchers surveyed the land 16 years after the orange peels were deposited. They found a 176 percent increase in aboveground biomass -- or the wood in the trees -- within the 3-hectare area (7 acres) studied. Their results are published in the journal Restoration Ecology."

"New Martin Luther-Shaped Amazon Echo Will Rudely Answer All Your Theology Questions"

"If Bernard Black Quotes Were Motivational Posters"

First Look At David Tennant & Michael Sheen From Good Omens

KINGSMAN: The Golden Circle Trailer

Roller Dreams premiers in London in the first week of October.

Charles Bradley, "The World (Is Going Up In Flames)"

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