Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The trolls have it covered

Several months ago the nasty guy failed in an attempt to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The goal was to get minority people to not participate in the census. An Associated Press article in last Sunday’s *Detroit Free Press* (alas, no link) says the nasty guy doesn’t need to worry about that – internet trolls have it covered. There is already a campaign underway on social media of posts with misinformation about how the census works. It is quite possible foreign governments, such as Russia, are supporting the effort. The Census Bureau is now working with the major platforms – Facebook, Twitter, and Google – to stamp out inaccurate stories and get accurate stories out there.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty tweeted a chart, based on Credit Suisse data, showing that Russia is the world’s most unequal country. The wealth share of the top 10% is 83%. The share of the top 1% is 59%. Also in the top ten of most unequal are Thailand, Indonesia, India, Turkey, Chile, Sweden, Israel, Czech Repulic, and United States.

For the world as a whole 82% of the wealth is held by the top 10% and 45% of the wealth is held by the top 1%.

Chuck Wending tweeted a thread to remind us there will be renewed calls for civility. Ignore them.
Civility is for normalcy. When things are normal and working as intended, civility is part of maintaining balance. But when that balance is gone, civility does not help return it but rather, destabilize it further. Because your civility gives them cover for evil.

They will tell you to smile, that we need to get back to business, that we gotta heal the rift and blah blah blah — but that’s the desire of a savvy bully, who wants you to stop crying after he hit you, who wants you not to fight back. But you can cry. And you can fight back.

Ahmed has an upcoming book, the Middle East Crisis Factory. He tweeted:
The 2 current flashpoints in the ME are Iraq & Lebanon, both currently protesting selfish, corrupt & incompetent govts entrenched by a broken sectarian political system. Govts flailing.

This is a totally different phase - other countries had to overthrow a single dictator, but in these nominal democracies there isn't one - it's either systemic change or nothing. And the protestors fully understand that.

Mark Sumner of the Daily Kos staff reports the biggest private coal company in America is going bankrupt. This is Murray Energy, owned by Robert Murray. Mr. Murray is known for forcing employees to be props in nasty guy rallies and being indifferent to the health and lives of employees on the job.

The basic reason for the bankruptcy is that it is now less expensive to build natural gas and renewable energy plants from scratch than it is to maintain a coal plant. All of the nasty guy’s reversal of environmental and employee protections won’t change that.
The top publicly traded coal companies in the U.S. have all passed through Chapter 11 over the last few years, and all but a handful have come back leaner, not-cleaner, and both free from major obligations to miners and shorn of debts to both suppliers and states.

Trump also hasn’t done a thing to secure miners’ jobs, safety, or health, or to protect the funds that are supposed to be used to reclaim the land when mining is complete. But his deregulations are allowing guys like Murray to skim every last penny from a failing industry.

Mark Zuckerberg, head of Facebook, has said that his social media platform won’t take down political advertising that’s based on lies. Eric Boehleert of the Daily Kos community says that’s a gift to the GOP and the nasty guy. The GOP brand is based on lies. They wouldn’t get elected if they told the truth. So if Facebook refuses to block ads based on lies, Zuckerberg is favoring the GOP.

Boehlert sees Zuckerberg’s actions as a response to GOP bullying. And the GOP is bullying because it is claiming Facebook has a progressive bias – another lie.

Ever since gun attacks have become a big thing the shooters have been described as a “lone wolf.” The media likes that term. But, as David Neiwert of Daily Kos explains, these “solitary” actors are usually deeply connected to movements, usually white supremacist. These movements encourage solitary attacks. They are not “isolated incidents” as media and law enforcement like to claim. They are likely the latest act of terror by white nationalists.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

All about blood money

Here are my notes on reading through the transcript of the episode The GOP Is an Unregistered Foreign Agent: Part II on Gaslit Nation with hosts Sarah Kendzior and Andrea Chalupa. The audio for the episode is about 45 minutes. I’m going to mostly summarize rather than quote because while they have something important to say, both of them can meander when they talk. This entire episode (and I’m sure all of their episodes over the last two years) is about supremacy.

* Why are people still surprised at what the nasty guy and his minions are doing? For example, people were shocked when Attorney General Bill Barr didn’t follow the rule of law. But that’s literally why the nasty guy hired him. It has been obvious who Barr is since 1992 and the Iran Contra story.

* The New York Times has been constructing and releasing the narrative the nasty guy wants to tell. They’re acting just as partisan as Fox News. They kept Hillary Clinton’s email story alive for over a year. They seem to interview the same six swing voters who, strangely, always turn out to be nasty guy fanatics. And within an hour of the nasty guy calling for the death of the whistleblower, the NYT put out enough information for people to guess his identity. (Since then the nasty guy has scorned the wistleblower, saying “He disappeared.” Well, when the president wants you dead, of course you disappear. Sheesh.) So think about who you’re giving your money to.

* A quote from Chalupa:
At the heart of the Republican Party today, which is propped up by the Russian-funded terrorist organization, the NRA – the heart of the Republican Party is blood money. This is all about blood money. So if you’re wondering why Putin is meddling in all these democracies – he has to escape accountability because he wants to hold onto his blood money. When the Western Alliance stays strong and united and passes sanctions, that’s crippling on his economy. That hurts his oligarchs. His oligarchs can’t be fancy and free spreading their blood money around in Western capitals because there’s suddenly a stigma on them. And that’s why you’re seeing such an overlap of all the same players, because it’s the greed and it’s the money that unites them all. And they’re putting all this money above human life and above our fragile planet.
So, yeah, Putin is going to do all he can to keep his stooge in Oval Office because there is a huge amount of blood money he doesn’t want to be held accountable for. And that stooge is willing to be the stooge because he has the power to be cruel to those lower in the social hierarchy.

* Ukraine President Zelensky was elected on an anti-corruption mandate. Then he got squeezed between trying to fend off Russia invading his country and the nasty guy trying to corrupt him.

* Cahlupa said there were a lot of issues that could have impeached the nasty guy (starting on the day of his inauguration). But Speaker Pelosi knew that the GOP and their base wouldn’t care about kids in cages or that white supremacy is the biggest terrorist threat in America. They’re all about protecting white supremacy. So Pelosi waited until she could speak her enemies’ language, that not helping Ukraine is a national security threat.

* Kendzior is not convinced. The GOP stopped caring about Ukraine back in 2015 when Russia invaded Crimea. Remember that the GOP is funded to a great degree by the Russian backed NRA. There’s also Russian backing of the Evangelicals who say they think the nasty guy has been put in power by God. There’s also Russian backing of many white supremacy groups.

* Chalupa counters that even if the GOP is beholden to blood money, aid to Ukraine (that $400 million the nasty guy held up) had strong support from both parties. So centering impeachment on Ukraine is a way of shoving that vote in their faces.

* Kendzior replies that Pelosi isn’t doing this because of the law or the Constitution, she’s doing it to either please or get back at Republicans. Kendzior then goes into a long description of what Pelosi has done to block impeachment.

* A quote from Chalupa:
The bad guys always move faster than the good because the good have to deliberate, they have to build consensus, they have to maintain the norms. Meanwhile, the bad guys are trampling all over the norms. So that’s why, in recent years, we’ve had this acceleration of the bad guys winning, because the good guys are just too slow to catch up to what’s really going on.

* A lot of Republicans know what is going on with Russia. Former Speaker Paul Ryan even said as much. But instead of doing something about it they’re quietly retiring.

* What Chalupa and Kendzior are working towards is to get these corrupt people out of power, from dogcatcher to president. And we need to educate each other to make it happen. We’re in a fight for our lives.

* Paul Manafort has been a Putin operative for a decade before the 2016 election. It’s an obscene crime getting this Kremlin puppet elected. Manafort knew he’d get caught. So he had a strategy, a media narrative to attack whistleblowers and investigative journalists as traitors. He’s already succeeded with Serhiy Leshchenko, a top journalist in Ukraine who would have been a top performer in the Zelensky government. That is a crime against our world’s future.

* Even though we got the transcript of the nasty guy trying to corrupt Zelensky before dirt was invented on the Bidens, there was already a casualty. The nasty guy was able to get Zelensky to bash Germany. The EU is one of the largest donors to Ukraine and that little episode drove a wedge between the EU and Ukraine – much to the delight of Putin.

* As Chalupa and Kendzior have said on many of these episodes the nasty guy has had political ambitions for 30 years and had ha funding by Kremlin-associated oligarchs since the early ‘90s, nearly as long. So, yes, he will carry out Putin’s bidding on Ukraine. The nasty guy’s focus is on his personal wealth and power, then maybe on the fate of Russia, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. And way down on the list is America.

* People are astonished that the nasty guy has incriminated himself with that Ukraine transcript. Kendzior says, yeah, he incriminates himself all the time. He’s been doing it for three decades because there has never been any consequences. That’s why he surrounds himself with fellow criminals.

* These plutocrats and oligarchs want a no-deal Brexit (the same people who influenced our 2016 election influenced the Brexit vote) because they want to make money off the collapse of Great Britain. That’s how they reacted to the Great Recession. That’s why they want wars. They want to profit off the climate crisis. They don’t care about suffering. We need to expose those crimes and the political systems that put them in power.

* The people in charge of carrying out the violence of a regime – Stalin’s Secret Police, and today’s ICE – are attracted to those jobs because they’re inherently sadists. They relish in it.

Kendzior talked about prizes and reputations, which many people are concerned about:
Judge people by their actual actions. What are they doing? Who are they working with? Are they funded by a sex trafficking pedophile? Are they covering up for a transnational mafia?

If I have a bad reputation, I personally don’t care. … I care about right and wrong, and I care about my principles, and I care about my country, and I care about whether people are suffering.

What matters is how you treat people. What matters is what you bring into the world. What matters is what kind of person are you and what are you doing for others? That’s what it comes down to.
So stay engaged. It’s going to be horror, but don’t look away. Take a break if you need to and come back.

Chalupa said:
And the #1 rule is, when you have abusive autocrats in power, community is going to save you. Community is the only power we have left. Community is what funds Gaslit Nation. Community is what keeps us going. So in any situation of abuse of power, large or small, turn to your community. Build a coalition. Get everyone together. Get to know each other by name, and that’s your sense of security. Show up together. Show up for each other. Hold each other accountable to keep showing up. That is the power.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Corruption in plain sight

I read the transcript for another episode of the Gaslit Nation podcast. This one is titled The GOP is an Unregistered Foreign Agent: Part I. The hosts are Andrea Chalupa and Sarah Kendzior. The audio for it is 54 minutes.

This episode seems to have a slow start, talking of a few other things before getting to the GOP. This is the first episode with Chalupa back from maternity leave (episodes for August and September were recorded in July) and she talks about why she didn’t disclose the pregnancy until after the baby was born. One reason is her sister Alexandra Chalupa blew the whistle on Paul Manafort and there was (perhaps still is) an effort to say Alexandra had colluded in Ukraine in 2016 on behalf of Hillary Clinton. All lies. Andrea goes into this in more detail at the end of the episode. Yeah, an attempt at a distraction and to investigate the investigators.

They talk about Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker and dissident, how he was thrown into prison by the Russians, and how defiant he was. He sang the Ukrainian national anthem in a Russian courtroom. He’s been freed. Ukraine has been giving our hosts a lot of hope.

About investigating the investigators, Chalupa said:
So the overall trend we’re seeing is that people are being punished by Trump and Putin for simply following the law. That’s it. It’s like a letter, for instance, by Democratic senators asking the Ukrainian government why they halted cooperating with Robert Mueller and what information they have on Paul Manafort in regards to Mueller’s investigation, that is suddenly framed, even though those Senators are acting according to the Constitutional duty and obligations they have to the American people, that letter is suddenly framed as, Oh, look at these Democrats trying to frame Trump and trying to undermine our President. They’re traitors. So what we’re seeing is a continued pattern, whether it’s in the United States or Russia, and in Russia’s case you have people being arrested and in many cases sadistically beaten by riot police, for just exercising their Constitutional right to protest, to assemble. And to run for office. And they’re being arrested for just trying to carry out the law. That’s at the heart of all of this, is those who are trying to carry out the law are being arrested. Those who are just following proper protocol are being targeted. The checks and balances have never been more strained but we just have to remind ourselves that we are on the right side of the law. We are following the law.
We need to learn how autocracies work, because our country is beginning to work that way.

The talk turns to Rudy Giuliani. I covered his protection of the Russian Mafia while Mayor of NYC in a previous post, based on a previous Gaslit Nation episode. Kendzior and Chalupa had predicted the current Ukraine mess because they’ve been studying Giuliani.
Giuliani was carrying out acts of corruption in plain sight. You know, Giuliani was an object of a Senate investigation spearheaded by among others Elizabeth Warren to decide whether he’s a foreign agent. They officially declared that. They wrote letters about that. This has all been happening. It’s just that the media, generally speaking, has not been covering it and certainly not covering it with the urgency that it warranted.

Ukraine has been a laboratory for the Kremlin’s aggression. Things Russia might try on the West to destabilize they try on Ukraine first, things like cyberattacks on Ukraine’s electrical grid and hacking Ukraine’s election (which they caught and stopped). Ukraine is quite good at resisting Putin’s aggression. They have to be. And if America had been as observant and as resisting as Ukraine Hillary Clinton would be president now. So it’s in our interest to have a healthy and independent Ukraine.

Middle school prank

William Taylor is the Ambassador to Ukraine. He got the job when Marie Yovanovich was forced out for standing against corruption. Last Tuesday Taylor testified before the House committees investigating impeachment.

Taylor said Ukraine is vital because it has been under attack by Russia for the last five years. America needs to help in that defense. But once in Kyiv Taylor saw an irregular informal channel of US policy making involving now well known operatives. Short version: Yes, there was indeed quid pro quo of the nasty guy trying to get Ukraine to dig up (create) dirt on Joe Biden. I’ll let you wade through the damning details.

On Wednesday two dozen GOP House members complained that the impeachment hearings were being illegally held in secret. They entered the hearing room and disrupted the proceedings for several hours.

This was a Bad Thing for several reasons.

* The room is electronically secure so that highly confidential matters can be discussed without outside snooping. These GOP members compromised that security by entering the room with their cell phones, requiring a long process to resecure the room. There is a bit more about that here, but for obvious reasons technical details of what harm the phones did is not included.

* Half of those Republicans who compromised the room are members of the impeachment committees and have been active in questioning witnesses and receiving testimony – as have another 34 GOP members. These proceedings have been done with full knowledge of Republicans.

* If those Republicans want to make those proceedings less secretive they could release some of the testimony. They have already talked to the press, trying to characterize testimony as either untrustworthy or not at all damaging.

* This stunt had the knowledge and approval of GOP House leadership and the nasty guy.

So why did they do a prank worthy of middle school? Because they have nothing that would exonerate the nasty guy.

Sarah Kendzior tweeted a link to a Buzzfeed story that is deeply troubling. One of those 46 Republicans sitting on various impeachment committees is Greg Pence, the vice nasty guy’s older brother. A commenter wonders why this isn’t being talked about in the mass media.

Cinderella wheelchair

A bit of great news. Since I don’t have children and I avoid sugar I also avoid Halloween. So other than noticing the big Halloween displays in neighborhood yards I’m not up on the latest holiday trends. Even so, I was delighted to see an article in last Sunday’s *Detroit Free Press* featuring inclusive costumes. This is cool: a costume that turns a child’s wheelchair into a pirate ship or into a Cinderella carriage.

Comedian Ron Delaney was interviewed by The New Yorker. As part of that he talked about his son who became ill and died while the family was living in the UK. Delaney was pleased with one aspect of the care his son got – he wasn’t on the phone arguing with insurance companies. He spent the time with his son.

So Delaney wants to destroy the current private health insurance system in America. We could eliminate all that overhead paying CEOs hundreds of millions of dollars. And then there is the advertising:
“Your choice! Get the plan that’s right for you” – what the f*** is that? The plan is go to the hospital and it’s covered. There’s your choice. Yeah, I’m a zealot on that one and I won’t stop until you can go to the hospital without fear of going bankrupt.

Rafael is a former kid refugee from Uzbekistan. He tweeted a thread:
Zuckerberg responds to Bernie Sanders' call to abolish billionaires by saying it would harm much needed funding of scientific research and philanthropy. (You know, 90% of which is needed to undo the damage of billionaires.)

How different is this than a mobster taking protection fees from small shop keepers every week to keep them "safe" (from them)?

He continued "Let's just have the government take it all...the government can basically decide, you know, all of the medical research that gets done,"

If you build a democracy accountable to its people without the outsized influence of billionaires, yes, PEOPLE should decide!

The State Department has issued a report on its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. They said there was no systemic or deliberate mishandling of classified information in emails sent to or from Hillary’s private server.

The New York Times was one of many news organizations that kept the email “scandal” in search of a crime before the public for 600 straight days before the 2016 election. And what did the Times do with this new report? Put a 649 word story on page A-16. Essentially telling readers nothing to see here.

Eric Boehlert of the Daily Kos community wrote:
Just as important today is how the press is washing its hands of the media malpractice from 2016 and pretending news outlets played no role in helping the GOP market its email smear campaign for 18 months. That campaign consisted of phony Republican allegations that have now been relegated to the trashcan of history.
Left unsaid, of course, was the fact that the Beltway press positively owned the email story for more than a year and treated it as one of the most pressing news stories of this decade.
The reason the media did that was so that when one thought of Clinton one also thought of emails. She was defined by it. Boehlert then lists several GOP politicians who did actual email crimes and weren’t defined by it.
Yet rather than addressing that gaping, stunning failure in its 2016 coverage, the news media have opted to quietly move on.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

White terrorists overthrew the US government

Michael Harriott is a senior writer at The Root. He describes himself as a “master race-baiter.” He tweeted a thread in response to the nasty guy saying there would be a coup if he was ousted. The media thought that was a silly idea. It isn’t. Harriott’s thread shows how strong supremacy is and how nasty people will be to preserve their position in the hierarchy.

The thread is long, so this will be more of a summary than a series of quotes. Though I’ll start with a quote:
Racial terrorism is actually normal in American history but I believe we talk about in the wrong way. These are not isolated incidents, nor are they rare.

This is the story of how a national campaign by white terrorists overthrew the US government.
There have been four race wars in this country. The first was the genocide of the natives. The second was the Civil War. Harriott never gets around to mentioning the fourth (backlash to the civil rights era?). This thread is all about the third. It happened between the Civil War and the Jim Crow era.

At the time Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana were more than 40% black. South Carolina and Mississippi were majority black. In many of these states 90% of black eligible voters were registered to vote. Their right to vote was protected by Union soldiers.

With their vote black people elected black people to Congress. And to state legislatures. And to city and county councils.

White people didn’t like this. The solution: murder. Or maybe massacre. To prevent black people from voting.

238 in New Orleans at the 1866 Louisiana Constitutional Convention.

Maybe up to 200 in St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana before the 1868 election.

Maybe up to 300 in Opelousas, Louisiana also in 1868.

Maybe up to 1300 in Pulaski, Tennessee that same year.

About 1500 killed across South Carolina.
One of the things you must remember is that in many of these state, the Union soldiers in charge of upholding the law were black.

Can you imagine how salty white confederates must have been to fight for white supremacy and then have negroes lording over them as a reminder?

Not to mention the fact that these black people were now controlling politics. Remember, in many of these states, black people were OUTVOTING these traiterous-ass white supremacists.

Some of them decided to overthrow the government.

Harriott details more violence.

A plan in Laurens County, SC to stuff the ballot box failed. The backlash resulted in a mass murder. There was the Kirk-Holden War in North Carolina between the army and the KKK. That included impeaching Governor Holden.

In Arkansas the Klan, also in a war against the state militia, assassinated black candidates.

In Georgia the black elected legislators were expelled, many killed. The Georgia Supreme Court ruled that blacks had no right to office because their veins held African blood. Vigilante bands roamed Georgia killing blacks who looked like they might want to vote.

The American government went to war with the KKK in 1871. The KKK won.
So why do I say the KKK won?

Is it a bit extreme to say they "overthrew the government?"

Well, not only did these terrorists use violence to oust democratically elected candidates from office but they changed the course of history.

In the 1876 election, racist Democrats cheated so bad that the Electoral College was basically disbanded.

For instance, SC stuffed the ballot box so bad that 101 percent of eligible voters were represented. In Fla and Georgia, they just created their own ballots. Some of the Southern states just REFUSED to give Republicans their electoral votes, regardless of the results.

Instead, Congress decided to let a 15-member group go into a back room and decide what to do (It's a little more complicated than this, but not really. They LITERALLY let some white men decide who would be president because of this racial terrorism).

And Rutherford B Hayes was declared the winner 185 electoral votes to Tilden's 184.
As part of the compromise that put Hayes in the White House he pulled Union troops out of the South. With those troops out of the way the South instituted Jim Crow. And because of that compromise Jim Crow and its violence would continue for almost a century.

It got mentioned along the way that these racists were Democrats. At the time the Republicans were the good guys. In 1948 Harry Truman integrated the armed forces. Racists Southern Democrats hated that and by 1964 almost all Southern Democrats switched to the GOP. Which then used its Southern Strategy to help Nixon get elected.
So when Republicans talk about how Democrats used to be racists, they are partially correct. But I don't think of them as Democrats or Republicans, I just refer to them as "Racist Whites."

Since the beginning of this country, they have never been on the side of Democracy.

And these incidents have nothing to do with hate.
I’m puzzled by that statement. To black people and other outsiders all this looks very much like hate. There isn’t much difference between hate and terrorism. But going on…
They are an orchestrated terrorist campaign to keep power. Whether its voter suppression or mass murder, they've done it before and they are still doing it.

And that, my friend, is called "white supremacy"

Friday, October 18, 2019

Train a generation to be afraid of being shot

End of the week and lots of stuff in the browser tabs.

Kerry Eleveld of the Daily Kos Staff reports on the faceoff between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the nasty guy as she tells him 129 Republicans voted for the House resolution condemning his withdrawal of troops from supporting the Kurds. Pelosi said he had a meltdown.

Frank Figliuzzi, FBI assistant director of counterintelligence, commented on the nasty guy’s mental state:
He is spiraling down into a dangerous, dangerous posture. … He is in a corner all by himself and if you're a foreign leader trying to assess him, you actually don't know where this is going except that he is incredibly vulnerable.
Eleveld added:
Essentially, any foreign leader could call up Trump right now, just like Erdoğan did, and bend him to their will because he's just that fragile. If Trump didn't pose a clear and present danger to this country before, he sure does now, and that danger increases with every passing minute that he continues to occupy the Oval Office.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat is an expert on authoritarians at New York University. She tweeted:
A cowed and traumatized population is a population that doesn’t rebel against authority - we are going out our way to train a generation to be afraid of being shot. Take NRA and gun lobby right-wing politics, add police huntings & shootings of people of color=despot’s delight.

The Kyiv Post, the English newspaper in Kyiv, Ukraine, has a big front page story today. It’s titled Shady Cast of Characters, Engineers of Trump-Ukraine scandal. Below that are 20 photos and brief descriptions of the nasty guy, Rudy Giuliani and other Washington players, the lawyers, the dirt diggers and beneficiaries in Ukraine, those with a supporting role in Ukraine, and the Oligarch in exile.

It sure would be nice to have something like that in an American paper.

Sarah Kendzior, also an expert on authoritarians, is concerned Democrats won’t be thorough in their impeachment investigations (as we all urge speed). She tweeted:
When one limits the scope of the crime, one limits discussion of the numerous complicit parties -- and then those parties are not held accountable. This is currently the proposed plan for impeachment and it's dishonest and destructive there too.
Eli Friedmann responded:
Power cannot police itself.
If you go too wide you risk your own power.

It's a catch 22.
If one is powerful enough to (for example) take trump down then one is ALSO probably powerful enough that some of one's own support flows from a place that trump feeds from as well.
Thus: narrow focus to avoid taking one's self down.

Daily Kos has a regular Open Thread for Night Owls. As part of that there is a quote and tweet of the day. The quote:
When you live under such an oligarchy, there is always some crisis or the other that takes priority over boring stuff such as healthcare and pollution. If the nation is facing external invasion or diabolical subversion, who has the time to worry about overcrowded hospitals and polluted rivers? By manufacturing a never-ending stream of crises, a corrupt oligarchy can prolong its rule indefinitely.
--Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (2018)
And the tweet was a little something that’s being passed around (author unknown):
I got a speeding ticket but my attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pleaded it down to first degree murder.

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren tweeted a thread:
For decades, administrations of both political parties appointed big donors as ambassadors. They're usually not experts in the country, foreign policy—or anything else relevant to the job. But Donald Trump perfected the act of selling swanky diplomatic posts to rich buffoons.
Warren then lists people who have donated to the nasty guy’s inaugural committee:

* Gordon Sondland gave $1 million and got to be ambassador to the European Union. He’s been in the news lately testifying what he knows about the Ukraine scandal.

* Robert “Woody” Johnson gave $1 million and is ambassador to the United Kingdom. He saved $300 million in a tax scheme.

* Doug Manchester gave $1 million and is nominated to be ambassador to the Bahamas. He’s been accused of inappropriate behavior with female employees at the newspaper he owned.

And several more. Warren then calls for getting campaign money out of politics.

Bree Neewsome Bass tweeted a thread:
Every article of impeachment against 45 that's introduced to public should be presented along w/ proposed changes for how we prevent this in future. If the charge against 45 is soliciting election interference, follow it up w/ restoring *& expanding* the Voting Rights Act, 4 ex.

Place both of these matters before the Senate at the same time, in relationship with each other. Like I've said before, I think the public needs to see both why the 45 admin has to go and the forward-looking vision for how we achieve democracy & equality in this land.

In the matter of election interference, we also can't allow Republicans, as they may try, to remove 45 from office for that crime & then otherwise continue with their party's domestic effort to deny Americans free & fair elections. Another reason it's key to connect these matters.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Unprofessional and likely quite biased

Those who read this blog through email probably don’t know that each post has a category tag. When reading the blog through the website the tag allows a person to find recent posts on the same topic. One of those tags is “media” and most of those posts are about how the mainstream media has been hurting Democrats and helping the GOP and the nasty guy. The blog sidebar says since I’ve started writing this blog (almost 12 years ago) there are 54 posts with the “media” tag (this one is 55). In just the last year the media has done some nasty things.

Eric Boehlert of the Daily Kos community reminds us of some of that media malfeasance in presidential elections. There was 600 consecutive days of stories about the phony Hillary Clinton email “scandal.” There was the “Swift Boat” smear campaign against John Kerry based on lies. The story stayed in the press for weeks. Al Gore was also smeared, this time directly by the GOP. All three lost extremely close races.

Now Democrats are speaking up about media coverage that is at least unprofessional (such as repeating proven lies) and likely quite biased against them. Alas, the Dems are playing catch up because the GOP has for many years complained about “liberal media bias,” which has spooked journalists. But those same journalists tend to ignore criticism by Dems.

Joe Biden is leading the charge of malfeasance because he’s the current big target. Biden wrote a letter to the editor of the *New York Times* complaining that the paper was spreading the debunked conspiracy at the core of the nasty guy’s scandal in Ukraine.

Also calling the media to task are Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke. There will likely be others.

Domination simply doesn’t exist

In honor of Indigenous People’s Day (formerly honoring that white guy who stumbled onto land this side of the Atlantic):
In 1492, the natives discovered they were indians, discovered they lived in America, discovered they were naked, discovered that the Sin existed, discovered they owed allegiance to a King and Kingdom from another world and a God from another sky, and that this God had invented the guilty and the dress, and had sent to be burnt alive who worships the Sun the Moon the Earth and the Rain that wets it.
– Eduardo Galeano, Los hijo de los días (2011)

Heide Goettner-Abendroth founded the International Academy HAGIA for Modern Matriarchal Studies because she got fed up with the male dominated power structures at conventional institutions. Her book Matriarchal Societies: Studies on Indigenous Cultures Across the Globe was released in Germany in 2010, translated into English in 2012, and into French this year. As part of the French release Goettner-Abendroth talked to Annabel Benhaiem of HuffPost France.

In these matriarchal societies the founding principle is the power to give life. There is no such thing as an abandoned woman or child. Men who “behave properly” toward children are called “good mothers.”

The values of the society:
They are egalitarian, considerate and nurturing, in the sense that taking care of others and their well-being is self-evident. … Everyone is respected, regardless of their age or sex. They take care of the elderly until their death. There are no hierarchies among people. Decisions are made by consensus, unanimously. They conduct a sharing economy and condemn the concept of accumulation.
Some might think this could only work in small societies, but several of them are quite large.

The author was asked if women abuse power at men’s expense:
No. They do not consider it power as such, but responsibilities they are obligated to assume. They do often have control of the purse strings, not to keep the money for themselves, but to distribute it fairly and to ensure that the clan will never lack the things it needs.

Their societies are organized in such a way that the idea of domination simply doesn’t exist. These societies are largely peaceful, but they do know how to use weapons to defend themselves — for example, in the indigenous communities in the Amazon and North America. It’s not that they are better than us, but the way their societies are structured facilitates a state of peace.
Rape and prostitution don’t exist because women and their sexuality are respected.

I’ve long complained about patriarchy and the hierarchy that system demands of society and that the system leads to supremacy and destruction. It is good to see examples of societies that are not built on hierarchy and to show such a world is possible.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

America’s Achilles heel

Some things collecting in my browser tabs

When one looks at a county map of America colored by which candidate won the 2016 US presidential race a great deal of the country is red. One could wonder why the nasty guy didn’t win by a landslide. Karin Douïeb created a map that morphs each county into a circle proportional to is population. Most of the red areas shrink to little dots in a sea of white while the blue areas blossom in size. I saw another tweet of this map that reminds us land doesn’t vote. People do.

Scroll down a bit to the second map in this twitter thread, which has a few corrections.

Journalist Greg Palast wrote the book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. His general thesis: 2016 was stolen. 2020 will be too. Egoberto Willies of Daily Kos quotes from Palast’s website:
What went down in Michigan is a case study of malfeasance, and much of what happened there was repeated elsewhere.

At least 75,355 ballots were not counted there in 2016. What’s more, most of these were from Detroit and Flint, both majority Black cities (82+% and 55+% respectively). According to CNN exit polls, 92% of Black voters in Michigan voted for Hillary. So if half these uncounted ballots were cast by Black voters at that ratio, an additional 34,662 votes would have been tallied in Hillary’s column and given her the state by a margin of 23,958 votes.

These ballots were not counted because they were unreadable by machines. When the oval next to a candidate’s name on the paper ballot was not filled in correctly — i.e., it was checked or was marked with red ink — the machine did not register it and the ballot was set aside. In other cases, no voter error occurred and the machines simply didn’t work.
I remember news reports about attempted recounts that were halted because of irregularities. Now the question is why didn’t Palast’s warnings and analysis of vote theft get a lot of media attention then or now? Palast said:
We have a great myth that we have a great Democracy and any journalist that dares break that BS myth is persona non grata. That's just the darn truth.

Senator and presidential candidate Kamela Harris tweeted a thread about the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee Russia report. Excerpts of her tweets:
"At the direction of the Kremlin," Russians threatened our democracy in 2016—and that threat remains for 2020. And one issue they exploited is racial tensions in America.

America’s Achilles heel is rooted in racism, and this report confirms that Russia exploited deep racial divisions in a “strategic assault on the United States” to “sow discord” in America in the 2016 presidential election.

I think of America as a family—and like any family, we have issues. We have a history of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation that we need to confront.

But someone came into our house and inflamed these tensions to turn us against each other. We can't let that happen again.

Mark Anderson of the Daily Kos community poses the question: What is the purpose of a college education? Train a person for the workforce? Or allow a person to learn how to think and be a contributor to society?

A vocational school or an associates degree fits with the first question. A bachelor degree or higher fits the second.

This question came up because Bernie Sanders proposed canceling student debt. Joey Saladino replied, “How about people just stop getting super expensive useless degrees?”

That answer tells Anderson a lot about Saladino. Restricting access to higher education (currently by reducing government support and thus making it too expensive for many people) has long been a GOP goal. So what do we do about degrees for jobs that just don’t pay much? Like teacher. Is that a useless degree? Should colleges stop offering classes in teaching?

College teaches about life. And though college isn’t for everyone, it is rarely useless. So let’s get back to public funding of education. Let’s tax the rich and corporations as necessary to make it free for everyone.

This year’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard has been released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. It rated each state and the District of Columbia on several areas:

* Utility policies

* Transportation policies, such as policies for tailpipe emissions, electric cars, and transit funding.

* Building Energy Efficiency policies

* Heat and Power policies, such as support for low income efficiencies.

* State Government-led initiatives, such as financial incentives and efforts that lead by example.

* Appliance efficiency standards

The basic report is 150 pages with another 50 pages of appendices. I’ve looked at it, though haven’t read much. The PDF file is here.

At the top is Massachusetts, earning 44.5 points out of 50 possible. Close behind are California, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Michigan is 13th with a score of 28.5. At the bottom are North Dakota with a score of 5 out of 50 and Wyoming with a score of 4.5

Come in! Welcome!

I first heard about the musical Come From Away at the 2017 Tony Awards, where it was nominated in seven categories and won one. At that time the description sounded like something I would enjoy. Last night I saw the touring production as part of Broadway in Detroit and it was wonderful! It is very much about people taking care of people.

When I bought my ticket earlier this week the big Fisher Theater had maybe a couple dozen seats left. This big crowd also loved the show. It is playing here in Detroit through Sunday.

Gander, Newfoundland is a small place with a lot of wilderness around it. The village was gifted with a big airport when trans-Atlantic flights needed a refueling stop. When jets came along and planes could cross the ocean with one tank of fuel, Gander went back to being a remote place.

Then the 9/11 attacks happened. The American airspace was closed. And the jets already in the air needed a place to land. 38 of them, full of passengers, landed in Gander (and hundreds more in other airports around Canada). So a town with a population of 10,000 suddenly had 6,500 guests from around the world.

The cast is only twelve people. All of them play multiple roles – the program lists a primary role or two with the words “and others.” They change characters by switching an article of clothing and their manner of speaking. The set is minimal, mostly made up of tables and chairs moved around as needed.

The show starts that morning with various characters urging others to turn on the radio and listen to the news. The scene shifts to one of the airplanes where the passengers, who have heard nothing of the news, have been told they are being diverted, then kept on the plane for many more hours while security risks are sorted out – to the point where some have been on the plane for 28 hours. It is only after the passengers are allowed off the planes and sent to hastily prepared shelters do they have a chance to hear the bad news.

The passengers want to call home, but there aren’t enough phones. In just a couple hours residents donate phones for their use.

Hannah is distraught because her son is a New York firefighter and she can’t get a hold of him.

A gay couple – both named Kevin – wonder how redneck this place is. When their relationship comes out they are treated with kindness.

Bob, a black guy from Brooklyn, is recruited to go around town and bring in all the barbecue grills so the shelters could more easily cook. You mean just steal them? But when he does the owners invite him in for tea.

Beverley is the plane’s pilot and has a great song about being one of the early female pilots.

Ali is Muslim and once the nature of the attacks is clear people become suspicious of him.

Bonnie is a local member of the SPCA and cares for the animals on board the planes, even though she violates security to do so.

Within a couple days as an effort to relieve tensions there is a party at the bar and the plane people are invited to be initiated as honorary Newfoundlanders.

The guests are amazed at the generous hospitality and the refusal to take payment. They are told you would do the same. They come up with a joke:

Why don’t knock-knock jokes work in Newfoundland?
Come in! Welcome!

Though there is some actual dancing (no big production numbers), the whole show is well choreographed. The actors have to move props, make costume changes, and move across the set at exact times. Even when they are all seated on a plane they shift positions in unison or in patterns.

I highly recommend the show. It is an example, as one review put it, of “what people can do if they set aside fear and hate.”

Friday, October 11, 2019

No one works for a billion dollars

Jeremiah Red tweeted:
If you worked every single day, making $5000/day, from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you are reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire, and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. No one works for a billion dollars.

Corey DenOfHorrors responded:
So I was inspired by this tweet, and I wanted to see exactly how far back in history you would have to go to reach Jeff Bezos' Worth (for this tweet, about $108 billion dollars).
Corey suggested figuring $5000/day from the beginning of human history, or from about 10,000 BC.
So, extending this to the beginning of mankind. $5000 a day, every day, for 12019 years. If you do that, you reach $21 BILLION DOLLARS. About ONE FIFTH of Jeff Bezos' worth.
Alas, Corey’s analysis gets swamped by a quibble over when human history started.

So I took another route through the numbers. Let’s round Bezos’ net worth to $100 billion. Since the time of Jesus, 2000 years ago, one would have to earn $137,000 a day to match his wealth.

I checked that Amazon has been in business 25 years. So that means in that time Bezos has earned $11 million a day or $76 million a week. Bezos probably didn’t earn that much at the beginning, so I consulted Google. It quotes Business Insider to say Bezos makes more that $1.5 billion a week. Let’s look at what one could do with $1.5 billion a week. From my computations:

I don’t know the size of the Amazon workforce. I’ve heard that at Walmart the number of workers is 1 million. So I’ll use that. Bezos could give all million workers a raise of $1500 a week or $75,000 a year.

Bezos could buy modest homes ($200K) for 7,500 homeless families each week, or for 375,000 families a year, essentially ending homelessness.

I’ve heard health insurance for a family can run $25,000 a year. So Bezos could buy health insurance for 60,000 people each week or 3 million people a year.

He could make substantial contributions to addiction programs, or conversions to wind or solar energy (such as cover the roof of each warehouse with solar panels), or to universal pre-kindergarten, or a host of other social justice issues.

I could quibble with details in the tweets I quoted above. Someone could do the same with the numbers I laid out. Even if the details are off this shows the magnitude of the difference Bezos could make in peoples lives. And isn’t.

The top quote makes an important point: No one works for a billion dollars. To get that rich one needs workers to exploit.

Philip Cohen is a sociologist who studies inequality. He created a chart based on census data showing inequality in America since 1947. Within those 70 years inequality is currently at its highest level.

David Leonhardt wrote an opinion column for the New York Times to discuss the taxes the rich are paying – or rather, not paying.

A decade ago Warren Buffet said that he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary. At the time fact-checkers said that wasn’t the norm.

It is now.

The top 400 families (somewhere around the top 0.0001%) paid overall 23% of their income in taxes. That is lower than any other income group.

Leonhardt discusses the forthcoming book The Triumph of Injustice by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. First, Leonhardt discusses the taxation in the American colonies. The North enacted a wealth tax. The South was hostile to taxation, worried that it “could undermine slavery by eroding the wealth of shareholders.” That inability to raise taxes contributed to their defeat in the Civil war.

Taxes on the rich prevailed in the first half of the 20th century. But since then all sorts of taxes on the wealthy have been repeatedly cut. The justification was the economy would benefit. As many studies have shown over the years, “The wealthy, and only the wealthy, have done fantastically well over the last several decades.”
The American economy just doesn’t function very well when tax rates on the rich are low and inequality is sky high. It was true in the lead-up to the Great Depression, and it’s been true recently. Which means that raising high-end taxes isn’t about punishing the rich (who, by the way, will still be rich). It’s about creating an economy that works better for the vast majority of Americans.
Ah, that reinforces my understanding that a big part of what the rich are doing is keeping money out of the hands of the poor. The rich don’t want an economy that works better for the vast majority of Americans. It’s a supremacist thing.

Leonhardt concludes:
I already know what some critics will say about these arguments — that the rich will always figure out a way to avoid taxes. That’s simply not the case. True, they will always manage to avoid some taxes. But history shows that serious attempts to collect more taxes usually succeed.

Ask yourself this: If efforts to tax the super-rich were really doomed to fail, why would so many of the super-rich be fighting so hard to defeat those efforts?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Unimpeachable, unindictable, uninvestigable, above-the-law

I’m glad to hear some people are waking up to what the nasty guy is like. It helps that he is making is blatantly obvious.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent an eight page letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday, essentially declaring impeachment as “illegitimate.” Or as Kerry Eleveld of Daily Kos describes it:
Donald Trump's rampant misconduct in office and lifetime of criminal transgressions have left him, his lawyers, and his administration no choice but to declare him the ultimate unimpeachable, unindictable, uninvestigable, above-the-law sovereign.

As Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, told Waldman, a blanket refusal to provide any information to Congress has "no place in a properly working constitutional democracy.”

And that is exactly the point. Trump has simply proven to be too corrupt, too criminal, and too unscrupulous to persist as leader of any functioning democracy, and so his White House and GOP allies are trying to break the democracy.
I’m pleased to hear Democratic leadership saying that failure to turn over subpoenaed documents is evidence of criminal cover-up and an impeachable offense.

But one thing this might accomplish is protecting his cronies. Yeah, the nasty guy has already confessed to several crimes. But we’ve seen a glimpse into the involvement of the vice nasty guy and most of the cabinet as well. This clampdown on documents might mean insufficient evidence to take them all down too.

Though there are voices saying that if the Democrats had been paying attention all along there is already plenty of evidence in the public record to take down the nasty guy, the VNG, and everyone else.

Adam Serwer is a staff writer for The Atlantic. He tweeted a thread:
“Republicans would be absolutely livid if a Dem president was extorting foreign powers to harm his rivals” is a good point to make but it won’t sway Trumpists because they don’t believe there should be another president from a different party. That’s the point of the extortion.

Some would insist that’s not true, but there are no fair elections where a president abuses his authority to criminalize his rivals, or extort foreign powers to implicate them. They know this but don’t care, because they think the other party should not be allowed to hold power.

Any method Trump uses to keep himself in power, no matter how unconstitutional or criminal, is legitimate because Dems are illegitimate and cannot be allowed to hold power. This conviction is, ironically, the result of projecting on the prior admin what Trump is actually doing.

Because they have already convinced themselves Obama did everything Trump does or will do, it’s perfectly fine for Trump to do it. This is the rationalization they’re using to hide from themselves that they just no longer believe in the rules necessary for democracy to exist.

We’ve seen this here before, and it’s the panicked logic of a majority used to wielding and holding power in brutal and unethical ways, fearing what will happen if they have to share it with those they once wielded it against.
It is all supremacist thinking. Even so, two ideas are worth highlighting. First is the belief that they are supposed to hold power, therefore anyone else trying to hold power is illegitimate. Second, they know they’ve behaved cruelly and are afraid of someone being cruel to them.

Mig Greengard tweeted a thread about the nasty guy’s reliance on “acting” directors of various cabinets. I’ve noted before that this is a way around Senate confirmation. Greengard noticed another aspect:
As I was saying, 2 yrs ago. This has been going on across the executive branch. It's not just appointing sycophants and installing loyalists, it's also appointing nobody and empowering unaccountable personal representatives. Eg Giuliani.

Again, the US system and US lawmakers were unprepared for a president who has no interest in being president, only in personal gain and aggrandizement. Why wouldn't a president want to appoint people? For most politicians, that's how they expand their domain. Not an autocrat.

For a while the nasty guy was claiming that his discussions with the president of Ukraine about digging up potential dirt on possible rival Joe Biden was not about politics, but instead was about corruption, that what Joe Biden and his son Hunter had done was corrupt.

That’s rich, tweeted Stuart Stevens:
His campaign manager is a felon. His deputy campaign manager is a felon. His NSA is a felon. His foreign policy advisor is a felon. His longtime personal lawyer is a felon. But the defense is he cares about corruption?

Ross Baker is a professor of political science at Rutgers University and is on the Board of Contributors for USA Today. His opinion piece appeared in the *Detroit Free Press* this past Sunday (alas, I can’t find it online). He is concerned that most the Democratic leadership responsible for the impeachment inquiry are 70 and older and many are showing signs of dementia, so may not be as hard or as thorough as they need to be to pull off an effective investigation. Baker names: Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 79, House Judiciary Committee chair Jerrold Nadler, 72, House Financial Service Committee chair Maxine Waters, 81, House Foreign Affairs Committee char Eliot Engle, 72, and House Appropriations Committee chair Nita Lowey, 82.

Baker also notes of the Democratic candidates for President the oldest are Bernie Sanders, 78 (whose poll numbers are dropping after a recent heart incident), Joe Biden, 76, and Elizabeth Warren, 70.

And the nasty guy is 73.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Protests with a common theme

Will Bunch wrote an opinion piece for the *Philadelphia Inquirer* noting the large number of countries where protests are happening.

Hong Kong has been in the news. But have you heard about the protests in…
Bagdad, Iraq
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Kyiv, Ukraine (well, maybe you’ve heard of that one because Ukraine has been in the news for other reasons)
La Paz, Bolivia
Quito, Ecuador
Jakarta, Indonesia
Algiers, Algeria
Seoul, South Korea
Across Britain
San, Juan Puerto Rico
Moscow, Russia
and more?

Bunch says these protests have something in common. The people are protesting corrupt governments. There is also another thing in common. The government corruption in these countries was ignored or actively encouraged by the American government. And in many places that narrow, self-interested foreign policy began long before the nasty guy took office.

Bunch wonders why, with so much obvious corruption in American politics, the response from the American public is so muted. Though Bunch is delighted that many of the Democratic presidential candidates are talking about corruption, with Elizabeth Warren being the loudest and with the most detailed plans.

Bunch concludes:
It’s worth noting that — for the most part — the fate and the future of 2019′s global protests are very much up in the air. It wouldn’t be melodramatic to say the next few months will be among the most important in human history. If the world’s autocrats send tanks into Hong Kong or ignore centuries of British democratic tradition to ram through Brexit, or if Trump’s warnings of a second American civil war somehow come to pass, our children and grandchildren may face a grim, Orwellian future. Or this can finally be the year of People Power that so many of us hoped for — and didn’t quite see realized — in 1989 [when the Soviet Union collapsed]. It may come down to whether America chooses to sit on the sidelines or become a beacon of hope.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Some mysterious missing piece

Recent chatter on impeachment…

Matt Pearce tweeted:
I would point out that there were two years where the message was "NO COLLUSION" and now the message is that collusion is not only legal, but actually necessary.

Peter Daou tweeted:

Every time Dem leaders talk about an "inquiry," an "investigation," or "searching for the facts," they implicitly excuse Trump's previous transgressions. He's committing impeachable offenses by the hour -- what are they still looking for?

Can someone, anyone, please explain this:

Every time Trump commits an impeachable offense, magically we need to start digging for something ELSE.

What MORE evidence is needed???

What MORE airtight case is there to be built???


I mean seriously, this is the Rube Goldberg #impeachment.

No matter what Trump does, no matter how flagrant a violation, there's always some mysterious missing piece of evidence that will somehow blow everything open.

Congressional Republicans are annoyed that the nasty guy isn’t running much of a defense against impeachment. They whine, “There is no White House war room. Why are we the ones who have to defend him?”

Laura Clawson of Daily Kos has an answer for them. “Guys, you don’t. You don’t actually have to defend things you find it difficult to defend.”

Rev. Magdalen tweeted:
Pundits should talk about the effect on morale caused by Trump ordering Barr on a witch hunt to persecute anyone who ever investigated his Russian ties. Would you risk your life for a country that might let a rogue leader bring you up on false charges for doing your job?

Joey Ayoub gets today’s final words:
India with Kashmiris, China with Uighurs, Myanmar with Rohingya, Israel with Palestinians, Turkey with Kurds etc etc etc. The same story, again and again and again. It's the same playbook. Stop falling for it. Oppose authoritarian tyrants everywhere and all the time.

400 mayors

I’ve mentioned the podcast Gaslit Nation and even listened to and reported on an episode. I’ve finally been told where the episode transcripts are (alas, not on the same page as the audio). I started my reading with an episode about climate change. It’s actually titled Climate Crisis Special. Hosts Andrea Chalupa and Sarah Kendzior talk to Daniel Zarrilli, a climate change specialist and officially known as the chief climate policy advisor for New York City.

Zarilli does get into the horrible future we face if we do nothing about climate change. And that even if we cap the warming to and increase of 1.5C (not a sure thing) we’ll still be living with lots of global change.

The episode also gets into some hopeful stuff. Such as…

We know that shortly after taking office the nasty guy pulled America out of the Paris Climate Agreement. We’re not really out yet. The process to leave takes a while and will happen about the time of the 2020 election. The day after the nasty guy’s announcement New York City became the first city to sign an executive order committing itself to the goals and principles of the Agreement.

Within several weeks 400 mayors said we’re still in. This became America’s Pledge. Also joining them have been several states, universities, and businesses. Together, those taking the pledge can almost meet the American part of the Paris agreement. This is a silver lining of the nasty guy’s actions. Cities and others are not waiting for the federal government, they’re figuring out what they can do.

New York City and others have required a retrofit of their old buildings, which is creating jobs to do that work. They are expanding renewable power and electric vehicles. They are shifting from plastic foodware to compostables.

Zarilli says there are clearly big solutions that only governments, city, state, and nation, can make happen. But there are also things that need to be done by individuals. And doing those things builds support for the big changes.

An example of the individual things are to “bring your own” bottle or mug to avoid single use plastics. Do composting. Take public transportation (easy in NYC, quite difficult in Detroit).

One issue just beginning to be talked about is climate refugees, people forced to flee because of the effects of climate change. There could be 143 million climate refugees by 2050. And many conservatives think we have too many refugees now and want to prevent them from coming to America or Europe.

Though areas of poverty tend to be hit especially hard by climate change, areas of wealth are not going to be spared. That contradicts the thinking of a lot of rich people who think their wealth can protect them or can create an OligARK where they can live while climate change kills off the rest of us. But where are you going to go? Space? That’s more hostile than the planet you’re leaving.

A couple more things an individual can do: (1) Go to the NYC website, download what they’re doing about climate change, and take it to your city’s elected officials. (2) Vote.

Thursday, October 3, 2019


I turned on the furnace this morning. Not a big deal for October in Michigan. But it is a big deal for another reason – I haven’t use the furnace or the air conditioner since I returned from Germany in late August.

Michigan is known for some seasonal changes where one uses the furnace one day and the air conditioner the next. Or the reverse. There have been a few years in which they get used on the same day. So to me it seems remarkable that I didn’t use either for five weeks.

I was close to turning on the furnace at the end of September. I woke up to a house a few degrees colder than my standard furnace setting. But it didn’t seem to be necessary when the weather forecast for the day said it would get up to 77F and up to 87F the next day.

I must be in a sheltered area or neighborhood or city because on that second day the official temperature reported on the radio got up to 85F and my indoor/outdoor thermometer didn’t rise above 77F.

Jodi Jacobson of Rewire News wants the Democrats to hire a competent communications strategist. Why are you Democrats struggling to get the facts when the nasty guy has already confessed? Why can’t you say that? Stop with the stupid answers when asked whether impeachment proceedings undermine why you were sent to Congress. The answer should be simple: We have a Constitutional duty and obligation to uphold the law. Your appearances before the press and public should be simple, straightforward, and full of anger. So hire those strategists. Promptly.

He’s confessed? Yeah. And he did it again. He stood on the South Lawn with a lot of reporters with microphones. He said that Ukraine should hurry up and provide the dirt he wants. Then he took another step: He asked China to start an investigation also.

Now involving China doesn’t have the quid-pro-quo aspect that his contact with Ukraine has (at least not yet – he’ll think of something to hold over them). But he did right out in public invite a foreign government to dig up dirt on a political opponent and thus meddle in our election.

So, yeah, he confessed. Proceedings should be simple now.

Back to Ukraine for a moment. Laura Clawson of Daily Kos reminds us that the White House release of the text of the phone call between the nasty guy and the president of Ukraine is not a word-for-word transcript. There are missing words and sentences. I heard that on some TV show (not from Clawson) they read the released text and the reading took about 10 minutes. But we were told the call lasted for 30 minutes. Clawson asks:
But since we’re quite sure that such an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation does exist, and this is not it, it’s a very interesting question: What did the White House deem too explosive to include in a summary that already includes such an overt quid pro quo?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The race-class narrative

Last Friday I wrote about a Daily Kos report in which Ian Reifowitz discussed a bit of the book Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America by Ian Haney López. That post also mentioned how Elizabeth Warren, candidate for president, has been incorporating what the book talks about.

Reifowitz has now posted a more thorough discussion of the book and asked the author a few questions.

A big question in progressive politics is how to balance discussions of race? Talk about race and racism and turn off whites? Or don’t talk about it and turn off people of color? López says the answer is to talk about the race-class narrative. Conservative politicians, certainly the nasty guy and going back to at least Ronald Reagan,
have used racially divisive language to pit white Americans against Americans of color and exploit those divisions to win power and implement policies that benefit the economic elites.
That summary is by Reifowitz. After several decades of this we’re well aware that policies that benefit the economic elites do not benefit the middle class, the working class, nor the poor.

López did the research to find out what messages test best, the same way the conservatives test their messages. He teamed up with the AFL-CIO union. They provided a way to test the messages and they very much wanted a well tested strategy for upcoming elections.

López from the interview:
We took two simultaneous approaches. First, we studied the messages that Trump and other members of the GOP exploit, copying their language so that we could test it in focus groups and polling. The aim was to figure out who was supporting the message, but also to understand the underlying structure. That is, to get below the words to figure out the storyline the right consistently promotes. Here it is, stripped of all code: 1. Fear and resent people of color. 2. Hate government because it coddles people of color and refuses to control them. 3. Trust in the marketplace.

Again, this is stripped of code. In real life, the message looks something like this: too many people are abusing welfare and committing crimes. But liberals and Democrats want to increase welfare spending and open our borders. We need to put hard-working Americans first, making sure our leaders cut taxes and get government out of the way so the economy booms for everyone.

Second, we used interviews with activists from labor as well as racial justice movements to understand how progressives are already talking about the relationship between racial justice and economic fairness. Then we explored how that messaging works in focus groups, and drew on the results to craft our own race-class messages. Finally, we tested our insurgent messages in national polling, comparing them to the right’s racial fear message, as well as to the standard Democratic responses.
And López from the book’s summary:
(1) The Right’s principal political strategy is to exploit coded racism as a divide-and-conquer weapon.

(2) The Left can unite and build by calling out intentional racial division and urging every racial group to join together to demand that government work for all of us.

(3) All working families, white families included, will be economically better off if a large voting majority believes in cross-racial solidarity and rejects messages of racial menace. This would facilitate the sorts of wave elections that can get government back on the side of working families rather than giant corporations.

(4) State violence against communities of color will not drastically diminish until people stop electing politicians who promise to punish supposedly threatening and undeserving people of color. Electing leaders loyal to a multiracial movement that emphasizes our shared humanity may provide the best chance to shift government from persecuting to helping communities of color.
Reifowitz for the close:
My hope would be that, in the long run, if we could get the message around which the race-class narrative is built to really sink in, it might serve to defang the right-wing message of racial fear by preparing people, in particular whites obviously, for what’s coming, to inoculate them against the right-wing message to the point where they know it’s not only false, but also that it plays them for the fool. That way, when voters hear the fear-mongering from someone like Trump, it will not only be unhelpful to the Republicans, but will actually engender resentment—among some voters at least—who will be fully aware of the motivation behind that kind of message. That is, I believe, López’s goal.

Buckle up

Lean McElrath reminds us, now that an official impeachment inquiry is under way:
The same entities who invested resources into putting Trump in the White House aren’t going to sit back quietly while we sort out the chaos.

They’re busy creating more chaos. Buckle up.
The moodyfoodie asks:
What does buckling up look like to you? Stockpiling weapons, food and water? Survival kits and fuel? A fallout shelter? CB radios in case our cellphones get blocked?
Alas, no answer for that.

Greg Olear wrote the book Dirty Rubles: an Introduction to Trump/Russia. He tweeted a thread about two developments associated with the National Rifle Association. First, the Senate Finance report showed the NRA allowed Moscow to influence its policy. Second, NRA head Wayne LaPierre met with the nasty guy and offered “financial support for the president’s defense” if the nasty guy would stop gun control legislation.

Olear then documents how out of sync the NRA leadership is from its membership. Why? He also shows the AR-15 assault rifle is the weapon of choice of mass shooters. But very few Americans, including very few NRA members want that weapon to be legal. So why is the NRA leadership insist the AR-15 stay legal?
You know who wants AR-15s to remain legal? Vladimir Putin. He WANTS us shooting each other. It makes the US look terrible internationally, and it makes Russia, with its strict gun laws, look responsible by comparison. There’s simply no other rational explanation for NRA’s refusal to budge on the AR-15, given the Senate Finance report.

LaPierre is, in effect, lobbying for Moscow, to help ensure that mass shootings keep happening in the United States—to please his Russian whoremasters. Wayne LaPierre chose Torshin, Butina, and Putin over San Bernardino, Parkland, and Sandy Hook. The NRA, in effect, sacrificed KINDERGARTENERS to do Russia’s bidding.

These are the worst sort of traitors. Words fail to describe how evil this is.