Lucy Aharish: Humanity Made Irrelevant

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” ~ Albert Einstein

Saturday Catchup 2018-03-03

After a long absence, Saturday Catchup is back!

Social democracy is all the rage in the U.S. (and neoliberalism under assault) since Sen. Bernie Sanders' late run for president. In this video, radical journalist, author and film-maker Paul Mason; Dr. Faiza Shaheen, economist, writer, activist and director of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies; writer Anthony Barnett, co-founder of openDemocracy; economist Dr. Johnna Montgomerie; and Laurie Macfarlane, senior economist at the New Economics Foundation discuss whether radical social democracy offers a way out of the crisis of neoliberalism, and what this means for economic policy over the next decade. The debate is part of a new series of essays by Paul Mason exploring what radical social democracy means during the next decade:
Extra credit:
The word has become a rhetorical weapon, but neoliberal properly names the reigning ideology of our era -- one that venerates the logic of the market and strips away the things that make us human: Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world by Stephen Metcalf (Guardian).
The mission of radical social democracy must be to rekindle hope in a simple idea -- that life in your community will get better: Neoliberalism has destroyed social mobility. Together we must rebuild it by Paul Mason.
I’m not a neoliberal. Maybe you aren’t either. by Laurie Macfarlane (Medium).

Eljeer Hawkins is a community, labor and antiwar organizer, and for 23 years has been a member of Socialist Alternative, the US affiliate of the Committee for a Workers' International, a global Trotskyist
organization fighting economic exploitation and oppression based on race, gender, sexual orientation and national identity. Hawkins writes regularly on race, the criminal legal system, Black Lives Matter and the historic Black freedom movement, and lectures widely, including at Harvard, Hunter College, Oberlin and University of Toronto. In this interview, Hawkins discusses how he came to believe in the socialist cause and how a socialist society can be realized in the US: Inspiring a Socialist Alternative: An Interview With Eljeer Hawkins with Bryant William Sculos (Truthout).

A palate cleanser from the New York Times: Reporter Carla Correa travels to the lair of "The Bachelor" so you won't have to. "There are two ways to watch 'The Bachelor.' The first is, in 'Bachelor' parlance, to be swept away on the 'journey' and suspend any disbelief that suitors are 'here for the right reasons.' For most viewers, though, the only way to sit through a two-hour episode is to accept the polyamorous spectacle as one big social experiment. 24 Hours in Bachelor Nation by Carla Correa (New York Times)

Aestheticist Adolph Hitler doesn't care for gentrification:

"The right to be heard is crucially important. But I want to think more generally about how we have learned to look at women who exercise power, or try to; I want to explore the cultural underpinnings of misogyny in politics or the workplace, and its forms (what kind of misogyny, aimed at what or whom, using what words or images, and with what effects); and I want to think harder about how and why the conventional definitions of ‘power’ (or for that matter of ‘knowledge’, ‘expertise’ and ‘authority’) that we carry round in our heads have tended to exclude women." -- Mary Beard, Women in Power.
For the text of this talk, go to Women in Power by Mary Beard (London Review of Books).

The resemblance of zoos to prisons aside: At the Stock Island Detention Center, a jail in Florida, prisoners care for a zoo of their own. Curator Jeanne Selander  runs the prison zoo with the inmates, who benefit not only from the responsibility, but also from experiencing reciprocal love and care --often for the first time. Operations like this one shouldn't be news, they should be standard.

Sign up for a weekly email from 60 Second Docs, for videos that are uplifting without recourse to freak accidents or weird animal friendships.

A song-story from country singer-songwriter Paul Overstreet

Finally, in a spirit of resistance not nostalgia, here is the last installment of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, never broadcast at the time. The brothers, Tommy and Dick Smothers, waged a war against network censorship for a couple of years in the late 1960s, a fight they lost when they were fired for inviting comedian David Steinberg back on the show, despite complaints from some viewers over a previous booking. Nancy Wilson and Dan Rowan were also guests.

quote unquote William James

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. -- William James

A dozen here, a dozen there, pretty soon it adds up to mass murder.

The Second Amendment is not a paragraph in a suicide pact.

"The current FBI definition of mass murder, commonly accepted by the media as a proxy for “mass gun violence”, is three or more people murdered in one event. We believe this does not capture the whole
picture. Many people may survive a shooting based on luck alone. Some may be left with life long disabilities and trauma, but the mainstream definition of mass gun violence does not account for this. Here at the Mass Shooting Tracker, we count the number of people shot rather than the number people killed because, 'shooting' means 'people shot'. For instance, in 2012 Travis Steed and others shot 18 people total. Miraculously, he only killed one. Under the incorrect definition used by the media and the FBI, that event would not be considered a mass shooting! Arguing that 18 people shot during one event is not a mass shooting is absurd. Our definition is this: a mass shooting is an incident where four or more people are shot in a single shooting spree. This may include the gunman himself, or police shootings of civilians around the gunman."

Using this definition, there have been 41 mass shootings in the United States since January 1, 2018.

And restore the assault-weapon ban.

The wisdom of the internets

Stalking Horse?

I don't have an opinion yet on the campaign for governor between Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang and Delaine Eastin, but the entry into the race of Amanda Renteria, a former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer, is suspicious at the go. Who enters a major race 30 days before the filing deadline with no campaign infrastructure, no staff, no website, no endorsements, and no cash? It's not a stretch to think that Renteria will be on the ballot to suppress support of Newsom's chief rival Villaraigosa among Latinos. Is this another attempt by the party poobahs to rig a primary outcome? Shouldn't the voters get to hear from the candidates before the fix is in?

With apologies to


[in-ter-sek-shuh-nal-i-tee] noun

the theory that the overlap of various social identities, as race, gender, sexuality, and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual (often used attributively): Her paper uses a queer intersectionality approach.
the oppression and discrimination resulting from the overlap of an individual’s various social identities: The intersectionality of oppression experienced by black women.
the antidote to identity politics: The intersectionality or “parallel problems” of economic disparity, gender inequality and institutional racism was the idea underpinning the presidential candidacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Synonyms: solidarity, comradeship.
Antonyms: capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, empire.
See, also: class consciousness, class struggle.

Extra credit:
"There will be no economic or political justice for the poor, people of color, women or workers within the framework of global, corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism, which uses identity politics, multiculturalism and racial justice to masquerade as politics, will never halt the rising social inequality, unchecked militarism, evisceration of civil liberties and omnipotence of the organs of security and surveillance. Corporate capitalism cannot be reformed, despite its continually rebranding itself. The longer the self-identified left and liberal class seek to work within a system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” the more the noose will be tightened around our necks. If we do not rise up to bring government and financial systems under public control—which includes nationalizing banks, the fossil fuel industry and the arms industry—we will continue to be victims." The Bankruptcy of the American Left by Chris Hedges (Truthdig)

A cross-racial and class conscious movement is the only foundation for effective freedom: Against National Security Citizenship by Aziz Rana (Boston Review)

"In the worlds of politics and nonprofits intersectionality has become a sneaky substitute for the traditional left notion of solidarity developed in the process of ongoing collective struggle against the class enemy. Intersectionality doesn't deny the existence of class struggle, it just rhetorically demotes it to something co-equal with the fights against ableism and ageism and speciesism, against white supremacy, against gender oppression, and a long elastic list of others. What’s sneaky about the substitution of intersectionality for solidarity is that intersectionality allows the unexamined smuggling in of multiple notions which directly undermine the development and the operation of solidarity. Intersectionality means everybody is obligated to put their own special interest, their own oppression first – although they don’t always say that because the contradiction would be too obvious." Intersectionality is a Hole. Afro-Pessimism is a Shovel. We Need to Stop Digging (part 1) by Bruce A. Dixon (Black Agenda Report)

"In the context of the real left, the community of those aiming to overthrow capital, patriarchy, white supremacy and empire—not two or three out of four but all four, the term intersectionality has become a kind of brood parasite. It mimics just enough of left feminist rhetoric and branding to deceive the unwary and ensnare many bright, serious and sincere leftists into defending and promoting its fundamentally hostile project. Looking Down That Deep Hole: Parasitic Intersectionality and Toxic Afro-Pessimism (part 2) by Bruce A. Dixon (Black Agenda Report)

quote unquote Jean-Paul Sartre

You don't fight fascism because you're going to win. You fight fascism because it is fascist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

California Democrats to Dianne Feinstein: "Good work on Trump. Now come home."

Okay. I'm one who applauded: "Dianne Feinstein is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore."

But the thundering hosannas for her releasing of the Fusion GPS testimony have begun to drown out reality.

Sen. Feinstein's action was admirable. If she had not done it, she would have been complicit in the blatant lying of Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham. But she is far from being the Second Coming of FDR.

She has been the strongest Democratic proponent in the Senate of the security state, she has dependably supported the Long War, and she has carried water for corporate and financial interests throughout her career, as when she voted for the bill that repealed Glass-Steagall’s banking reforms (California's other U.S. Senator, Barbara Boxer, voted nay). After decades in office, she is out of step. left behind by her increasingly liberal constituency; even with the advantages of incumbency in a blue state, she is only getting about 40% in support of her reelection campaign.

You have to ask yourself why at 84 she is running at all. My guess is that the party poobahs, realizing that if she retires the seat will almost certainly fall into the hands of a progressive, have decided that she remains their best hope to hold the seat for the donors; she will almost certainly be one of the two standing candidates after the primary (out-of-staters may not know that in California the general election is a run-off between the top two primary vote-getters, even if they are from the same party or no party at all), and Democratic leaders are betting she will get enough Democratic and all Republican votes to win (the other candidate will be a Democrat to her left -- there is no other kind; the GOP is not a factor at the state level in California); then, after a year or two, she will step down and the new governor, presumably Gavin Newsom, a Democrat in any case, will appoint a reliable supporter of business-as-usual.

Sen. Feinstein deserves all credit for unilaterally releasing the transcript of Glenn Simpson's testimony before her committee, and I hope she continues to hold Grassley's and Graham's feet to the fire.

When you think about it, though, this would be a perfect moment to retire. The primary will be bitter and divisive, and since experience suggests there is every likelihood that the poobahs have it wrong anyway, possibly pointless:

Instead, for the good of the nation, she could go out as Fighting Dianne Feinstein, spending her final days of service battling the criminalized GOP (as she is doing in taking a lead in rejecting Trump's off-shore drilling scam and supporting the Dreamers). What an honorable way to go.

Extra credit:
> The Republicans Fake Investigation by Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch (New York Times)
> Sen. Dianne Feinstein Releases Full Testimony From Co-Founder of Firm Behind Russia Dossier by Molly Olmstead (Slate)
The full text of Glenn Simpson's interview before the Senate Judiciary Committee on 2017/08/22 (PDF)
> Dianne Feinstein survived childhood abuse, assassination attempts, and a brutal fight with the CIA. Now it’s time to take on Trump: The Lioness in Winter by Gail Sheehy (Mother Jones)
> In a rare meeting, the Democratic senator finds little common ground with hometown activists: Dianne Feinstein Town Hall Shows Why She’s a Conservative by San Francisco Standards by Matt Tinoco (Mother Jones)
> California's feverish political moment creates opportunity for a Feinstein challenge — or a few by Seema Mehta and Melanie Mason (Los Angeles Times)
> Kevin de León, president of the California Senate, is challenging the longtime senator next year, creating a dilemma for the party's 2020 hopefuls: The Democrats’ Dianne Feinstein Problem by David Dayen (New Republic)<br />
> Alison Hartson announced she's running for U.S. Senate: New liberal challenger to Sen. Dianne Feinstein launches bid on 'The Young Turks' by Sarah D. Wire (Los Angeles Times)

Some choice

Who was right, George Orwell or Aldous Huxley?

"What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

"Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

"Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

"Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

"As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny 'failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.' In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.

"In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us." -- Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death (Penguin).

Our civil polity is in free fall

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. ... Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. -- Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 1852
(AP/January 4, 2021) President-elect Oprah Winfrey, with Vice President-elect Ellen DeGeneres, appeared in the White House press room Monday afternoon to announce the first appointments to the new cabinet. The soon-to-be Commander in Chief had special praise for Secretary of State nominee Rachel Raye, who was in attendance, saying she "is the right person to cook up a new foreign policy" for the nation.

Other designees on hand included Treasury Secretary Suze Orman, Attorney General Judge Judy Sheindlin, Labor Secretary Phil "Dr. Phil" McGraw, Commerce Secretary Stacy London, HUD Secretary Mehmet “Dr. Oz” Oz, and Surgeon General Jenny McCarthy.

In an attempt heal some hurt feelings from a hard-fought campaign, Dwayne "The Rock " Johnson will take over at Defense. In a surprise move, Bob Greene, who had been expected to be Surgeon General, has been named special advisor to the President; he will share an office with the already appointed Gayle King, and is expected to work closely with Chief of Staff Steve Harvey. Meryl Streep, an early backer of the president-elect's run for office, will be the new U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St James. Mark Cuban will be sent to Finland.

In a separate briefing, Press Secretary Kanye West announced that the Secret Service had to call in all available agents because of the crush of citizens seeking selfies and autographs.

[Note to The Hill: Just took an informal poll of Democrats on prospect of Oprah presidential run. Couldn't find a single one that could be described as "thrilled." Prospect of President Winfrey thrills Dems by Amie Parnes (The Hill)]


I'm gonna wash that man right outta my hair
I'm gonna wash that man right outta my hair
I'm gonna wash that man right outta my hair
And send him on his way

Walk him out
Dry him out
Push him out
Fly him out
And send him on his way!

Written by R. Rodgers, O. Hammerstein II

quote unquote James Balwin

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain. -- James Baldwin

Happy Holidays

If it's not nailed down, privatize it.

The FCC voted in a 3-2 party-line vote to end net neutrality, despite overwhelming bipartisan and public support for it.

Net neutrality is now officially on life support. Here’s what happens next. by Aja Romano (VOX)

Trump has his "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" moment:

"USA Today published a brutal editorial Tuesday after President Donald Trump smeared Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) by saying she 'would do anything' for campaign contributions. 'A president who’d all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes,'” USA Today’s Editorial Board wrote, adding Trump was clearly suggesting Gillibrand would trade sexual favors for campaign donations. The board added that Trump is a 'uniquely awful' person with 'sickening behavior.' His tweet was a new low for a president redefining rock bottom, they wrote. -- USA Today Calls Trump Unfit To Clean Obama's Toilets In Scathing Editorial (Yahoo News).

Will Trump's lows ever hit rock bottom? by The Editorial Board (USA Today)


The Democratic leadership constantly promotes the benefit of parsing evils. How come that lesser-evil thing doesn't doesn't favor Al Franken when measured against Donald Trump, Roy Moore and the other actual criminals peppered throughout the governing class?

Fair's fair

According to Axios, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer “said he was the victim of a fake news hit on Tuesday, and has turned over to Capitol Police a document that purports to detail lurid sexual harassment accusations by a former staffer.” The former staffer said she “did not author the document, that none of the charges ring true, and that her signature was forged.”

But he has been accused.

Under current Democratic Party operating procedures that means he must resign immediately.

D.J. Trump: Not Living Up to His Full Potential

If Donald Trump knew anything about history, he'd realize that he could go so much bigger than merely reversing Barack Obama's executive orders. Think how pleased his supporters and enablers would be if he revoked the Emancipation Proclamation, say, or gave Alaska back to the Russians.

The Head of Government

“Trump Loves Showing Off The White House Bathrooms” -- Newsweek headline

The Long History of the Conservative Fixation With Bathrooms by Nancy LeTourneau (Washington Monthly)

Unfinished business

"American exceptionalism" and "American greatness" are propaganda slogans deployed to discourage thinking. We have our good qualities and our bad. We need to concentrate on making the United States a better country, however great it is or isn't already.

We are a loose cannon in world politics. We waste resources on military adventures. Too many of our people have no place to sleep and not enough to eat. That we don't have universally affordable health care is tragic. Our education system was, should be, and no longer is the best in the world. Our infrastructure 50 years ago was second to none and hasn't been maintained since.

We have a lot of work to do.

quote unquote James Madison

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, a well-armed and well-regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.” -- James Madison, first draft of the Second Amendment, before it was mangled in committee.

On Us

The problems we face as a nation are much bigger than, as most Democrats see it, "this horrible Republican President and Congress."

Distorted spending decisions, selective application of free market economic policies and militarized foreign policy pursued by both parties over the last 30+ years are what fueled the anger that permitted "this horrible Republican President" to ascend, but it is the permanent conservative majority in Congress, made up of both Republicans and Democrats, that has sent this country into its long, slow decline.

The one positive of the Donald Trump presidency is that it has ripped the happy face off the deadly fiction of American exceptionalism.

Electing in 2020 another personable and integrous but unimpassioned abettor of the best and the brightest, such as Barack Obama, won't be nearly up to the job of bringing about the fundamental changes needed (we mustn't allow ourselves to forget that the number of poor and the number of wars increased under the last president). It will require a radicalized congress and an aggressively pro-change executive to fix what ails us, to get us back on the difficult path toward economic and social justice. We must either accomplish a radical course correction or resign ourselves to further decline.

“Well, Doctor," Ben Franklin was asked outside Independence Hall on the final day of deliberations, "what have we got -- a Republic or a Monarchy?”

“A Republic," he replied, "if you can keep it.”

It's on us to keep it.

Extra credit:
>>Thirty years ago, the old deal that held US society together started to unwind, with social cohesion sacrificed to greed. Was it an inevitable process – or was it engineered by self-interested elites?: Decline and fall: how American society unravelled by George Packer (The Guardian)
>>Domestic and global trends suggest that in 2025, now just 8 years from now, the American century could all be over except for the shouting: The Decline and Fall of the American Empire by Alfred W. McCoy (Tom Dispatch)
>>Austerity is riskier than stimulus. The Big Question on the Economy: Is This Really Full Employment? by J.W. Mason (Roosevelt Institute)
>>What went wrong and what comes next?: Capitalism in Crisis by Mark Blyth (Foreign Affairs) >>Putting community needs at the center of society rather than those of the individual: An Economic Alternative to Exploitative Free Market Capitalism by Thomas Hedges (Truthdig)

Better late than never

Wouldn't this seem like a swell time for the U.S. Senate to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, and often described as an international bill of rights for women? Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

The neologist

There is no adjectival form of the word integrity. One is needed.

I propose integrous (as opposed to integritous or integrious, neither of which is as euphonious).

You may not find need of it often, but on the rare occasions you stumble upon someone behaving integrously, by all means use it.

Intregrous behavior should be extolled wherever it crops up.


"Bernie Sanders supporters are divisive." "Berniecrats aren't Democrats." "Bernieacs would rather destroy the Democratic party than compromise." "Berniebros hate Hillary Clinton so much they can't think straight." "Bernieistas are still fighting the last election."

"My job, our job is to go forward, is do everything we can to defeat this right-wing agenda of the Republican Party and the Trump administration, not to look backwards." -- Sen. Bernie Sanders

"Oh, shut up."

Weekend reading:

Red Century: A series of essays published by the New York Times exploring the history and legacy of Communism, 100 years after the Russian Revolution.

The Long War

A new 'Costs of War' report published by Brown University's Watson Institute shows the actual costs incurred by the U.S. as part of its global 'war on terror' that widely contradicts the cost of war figures put together by the Pentagon in its report.

Some of the Costs of War Project’s main findings include:

370,000 people have died due to direct war violence, including armed forces on all sides of the conflicts, contractors, civilians, journalists, and humanitarian workers.

It is likely that many times more than 370,000 people have died indirectly in these wars, due to malnutrition, damaged infrastructure, and environmental degradation.

200,000 civilians have been killed in direct violence by all parties to these conflicts.

Over 6,800 US soldiers have died in the wars.

We do not know the full extent of how many US service members returning from these wars became injured or ill while deployed.

Many deaths and injuries among US contractors have not been reported as required by law, but it is likely that at least 6,900 have been killed.

10.1 million million Afghan, Iraqi, and Pakistani people are living as war refugees and internally displaced persons, in grossly inadequate conditions.*

The US has made an estimated 76 drone strikes in Yemen, making the US arguably at war in that country.

The wars have been accompanied by erosions in civil liberties and human rights at home and abroad.

The human and economic costs of these wars will continue for decades with some costs, such as the financial costs of US veterans’ care, not peaking until mid-century.

US government funding of reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan has totaled over $170 billion. Most of those funds have gone towards arming security forces in both countries. Much of the money allocated to humanitarian relief and rebuilding civil society has been lost to fraud, waste, and abuse.

The cost for the Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan wars totals about $4.8 trillion. This does not include future interest costs on borrowing for the wars, which will add an estimated $8 trillion through 2054.

The ripple effects on the US economy have also been significant, including job loss and interest rate increases.

Both Iraq and Afghanistan continue to rank extremely low in global studies of political freedom.

Women in Iraq and Afghanistan are excluded from political power and experience high rates of unemployment and war widowhood.

Compelling alternatives to war were scarcely considered in the aftermath of 9/11 or in the discussion about war against Iraq. Some of those alternatives are still available to the US.

* Source: The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) (2015).

It was a good night,...

...but let's not lose sight of the road ahead. To come out on top in 2018, the Democrats must still agree on a raison d'être more compelling than "Stronger Together" and "A Better Deal," suffer expensive, divisive primaries that may or may not settle their differences or produce electable candidates, be outspent by $ millions, and for many House and local legislative races overcome a decade of GOP gerrymandering. Voters can be unhappy with Trump and still not see the Democrats as the antidote.

A rose by any other name...

I was accused today of being a Berniac, plainly a creature of uncertain pedigree and ill repute. It left me wondering:

Is one who supports reducing the work week to 30 hours and expanding paid leave; providing guaranteed jobs at a living wage to all;
providing a decent standard of living to everyone; establishing a national child care system; reestablishing the right of all workers to join unions; providing affordable universal health care and free universal public education; and restoring the infrastructure while keeping it in public hands; and opposes the national security state, militarism, empire and endless war, is such a person a Berniac or a lifelong Democrat who wants to see the Democratic Party return to basic principles?

Extra credit:
A wage floor is an effective way to fight poverty -- and it would reduce government spending and intrusion: The Conservative Case for a Guaranteed Basic Income Creating by Noah Gordon (The Atlantic)
Giving everyone a job is the best way to democratize the economy and give workers leverage in the workplace: Why We Need a Federal Job Guarantee by Mark Paul, William Darity Jr and Darrick Hamilton (The Jacobin)
Working moms can have it all -- in France: Trapped by European-style Socialism -- And I Love It! by Claire Lundberg (Slate)
In 1971, a national day-care bill almost became law. Therein lies a story: Why America Never Had Universal Child Care by Nancy L. Cohen (New Republic)
The weakness of labor hurts all employees in every sector: The Decline of Unions Is Your Problem Too by Eric Liu (TIME)
A growing number of Americans support Medicare for All: A Canadian Doctor Explains How Her Country's Single-Payer Health Care System Works by Michel Martin and Denise Guerra (All Things Considered/NPR)
The US earns a D+. It is, in a word, a mess. It's Time to Fix America's Infrastructure. Here's Where to Start by Jordan Golson (Wired)
Infrastructure is such a dull word. But it’s really an issue that touches almost everything.”: System Overload by James Surowiecki (The New Yorker)
A lack of transparency and oversight has led to abuses time and again, in every era: Why Does Anyone Trust the National-Security State? by Conor Friedersdorf (The Atlantic)
The military's evolving role in U.S. foreign policy decision-making: The Politics of American Militarism by Joshua Foust (The Atlantic)
Untangling truth and fiction in an age of perpetual war: American Imperium by Andrew J. Bacevich (Harper's Magazine)
Imagining the World in 2025: Empire of Madness by Tom Engelhardt (Truthdig)

After five decades, change for California

"Rather than a harbinger of a purge, Feinstein is a special case because her politics have become so out of step with her constituents and even Democrats nationally. 'I support Nancy Pelosi and Kamala Harris, and I don’t support Dianne Feinstein,' said Congressman Ro Khanna, a fellow California Democrat who has been advocating for a Feinstein challenge. 'I think there are very specific reasons that a primary challenge to Diane Feinstein in California is called for.'”

The rest of the story:
Kevin de León, the California Senate president, is taking on the U.S. senator in next year's Democratic primary. The reward is much greater than the risk.: The Win-or-Lose Case for Challenging Dianne Feinstein by Graham Vyse (New Republic).
Many Calif. Dems silent on backing Feinstein by Mike Lillis (The Hill)
Kevin de León announces run against Dianne Feinstein, setting up Democratic clash in Senate race by Casey Tolan (Bay Area News Group)

Bye, Bye Miss American Spy

I'd like to take the opportunity offered by the apparent determination of the Trump treasury department not to elevate the heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman to our currency (I don't suppose it would make any difference to our military-loving president were he to be informed that Tubman provided invaluable intelligence to the United States Army fighting the rebellion -- if John le Carré were to write her story he might call it "Slave, Nurse, Scout, Spy") to renew my appeal on behalf of Helen Keller who -- struck totally deaf and blind by childhood illness at 19 months, before she'd learned to speak -- overcame the adversity of being unable hear or see to become one of the 20th century's leading humanitarians, an international champion for the disabled, a feminist, a Socialist, a co-founder of the ACLU, a teacher and lecturer, a journalist, and the first deaf-blind person to earn a BA.

On the twenty dollar specie, though, not the ten. Thanks to Broadway, Alexander Hamilton now has a lobby. It is Andrew Jackson, the populist president and, alas, slave holder and genocidist, who needs to go.

Here's the original post: Helen Keller on the $10 by John Gabree (Impractical Proposals).

It is not that the estimable Harriet Tubman doesn't deserve to be honored for her courageous activism, it's just that being, you know, black, she may not be a favorite of this administration.

Urban progress and reaction

“You desire the end but close your eyes to the means. You want the garden to be beautiful, provided that the smell of manure is kept well away from your fastidious nose.” ― P.D. James, The Children of Men
Nimbyism is a reactionary impulse that ignores the history of urbanism and strikes at the city's reason for being. Nimbys seek to impose a romantic fantasy of an orderly and edenic past on an urban history that in fact is a tangled tale of struggle, ambition, imagination, innovation and criminality. Indeed, it is the chaotic nature of the city
that gives it its magnetic pull, that makes it such fertile ground for creativity.

To bind a city to imaginary specifications is to strangle its spirit, to rob it of its dreams, to steal its soul. Were you to abandon a city, eventually nature would return it to the jungle or desert, the forest or prairie hidden beneath its tar and concrete; but nowhere has an urbanized locale merely devolved to an earlier stage of development. It has to be murdered, deliberately killed by greed, selfishness and myopia.

A flourishing city is an antidote to mediocrity, monotony, intolerance, rigidity, stasis, just as it is the engine of invention, adaptability, resourcefulness, enterprise, growth. We forget that the modern city developed originally as a refuge from the impliability and oppressiveness of feudalism, that within its communal
walls, and fueled by commerce, artists, rebels, scholars, free thinkers and tradesmen of every stripe were free to prosper.

It is from the concentration of talents and energies, born of the city's wealth, that the qualities of life we value most, that we count among the benefits of civilization, are afforded; cut off the city's ability to change and grow, and you condemn it, and ultimately urban culture, to death.

The city springs from hope, from the desire for a different and better future; thus, though it can be done badly or to excess, development is, at its heart, progressive.

Why the Democrats won't win back Congress in 2018 -- #67233

"John , we’ve never been this mad -- and we're asking you to sign your name and condemn Trump for pardoning Joe Arpaio." -- Email solicitation from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

They've never been this mad?

Not at the Long War? Not at the massacre of the middle class? Not at institutionalized racism? Not at the collapsing infrastructure? Not at the privatizing of the public schools? Not at Wall Street predators? Not at the destruction of the labor movement? Not at two minority presidents out of three? Not at the growing ranks of the poor? Not at pharmaceutical price-gouging? Not at mass incarceration?...

"It's like I don't recognize the country I'm living in."

It's more like we're getting to know the country we're living in.

We can't lose sight of the millions deported by the Obama administration. We can't deny decades of lynchings and Jim Crow. We must not forget "No dogs or Irish." We fought a brutal civil war over the holding of human beings as property. We still live in the shadow of slavery. We have never atoned for the near-extermination of Native Americans.

Fake news? We live a fake history.

Are the Democratic Socialists of America For Real?

In the last year, the biggest American socialist organization has experienced a surge in membership. "As it builds on this momentum, there are several big questions facing DSA. What is its relationship to the Democratic Party? Should central leadership serve as administrators or ideological tone-setters? And how can its membership -- which skews white and male -- come to represent an increasingly diverse country?" In other words, can it can transform enthusiasm into real and effective political power?

Are the Democratic Socialists of America For Real? by Kate Aronoff (The New Republic, 2017-08-07)

quote unquote Jimmy Breslin

"Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers” -- Jimmy Breslin

Liberation: The Real "Long War"

Nina Vatolina: Fascism – The most evil enemy of women, 1941.

What did Donald Trump know, and when did he know it?

General Michael Flynn's traitorous actions are part of a GOP tradition stretching back at least as far as the Nixon-Kissinger "signals" to North Vietnam and Reagan's Iran-Contra-temps, itself organized by the National Security Council.

Reading List:
Michael Flynn, Trump's national security adviser, resigns over Russia lies by Yochi Dreazen (Vox) The fall of Michael Flynn: A timeline 8y Glenn Kessler (Washington Post). Michael Flynn Is Out - Will Trump Be Next? by Mike Ludwig (Truthout)
The Missing Pieces of the Flynn Story (New York Times editorial).
Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence by Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo (New York Times).
Michael Flynn's White House Tenure: It's Funny 'Cause It's Treason by Stephen Colbert (YouTube).

Crowded CA 34

Gov. Jerry Brown has called a special election June 6 and a primary April 4 to replace Xavier Becerra in the 34th Congressional district. The Progressive Caucus member's departure after 24 years in the House creates an unexpected opening in the heavily Democratic district that includes downtown Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Chinatown and Highland Park.

At least a dozen people have expressed interest in running. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez raised $300,000 in December for the race. According to the L.A. Times,ormer LA City Council staffer Sara Hernandez attracted the second largest amount, $200,000; followed by former Obama administration aide Alejandra Campoverdi with $106,000 and Arturo Carmona, most recently the deputy political
director for Latino outreach for the Bernie Sanders campaign and executive director of, with $93,000.

Gomez has the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest public employee union in the nation; at the time he was elected to the state assembly, he was political director for the United Nurses Association of California. Other candidates in the race also have backgrounds in organized labor: Wendy Carrillo is a former journalist and local labor activist and Raymond Meza is an organizer for the Service Employees International Union Local 721, which was central in the "Fight for $15" campaign to increase the minimum wage.

Jimmy Gomez is far and away the front runner, but if Arturo Carmona gains the endorsement of the Sanders organization and is able to raise a commensurate amount of dough, at least the campaign will be more interesting to watch.

Every race for Congress counts now, and this is an opportunity to preserve progressive numbers in the federal legislature.

Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez racks up endorsements from Latino elected officials in fight for Becerra's congressional eat. (L.A. Times)

Arturo for Congress

Poor Mike Pence.

He was promised that he'd be the real president.

How mortifying to be forced to defer to President Bannon.

That's what makes him an expert.

According to the AP, Trump's voter fraud expert, Gregg Phillips, whose unsubstantiated claim that the election was marred by 3 million illegal votes was tweeted by the president, was listed on the rolls in Alabama, Texas and Mississippi, according to voting records and election officials in those states.

Don't mourn. Organize!

An ActBlue fundraising page for former Democratic congressional staffer Jon Ossoff’s special election bid to replace GOP Rep. Tom Price passed $420,000 this morning.

The Democrats need to contest every seat that comes up, even if there is little chance of winning this time, to build support for 2018 and 2020. And not with Blue Dogs.

Fight for every seat on the progressive platform that polls show most Americans overwhelmingly support.

Jon Ossoff for Congress.
Jon Ossoff's ActBlue page.

Who will Trump name Poet Laureate?

a) Donovan, because, you know, Bob Dylan
(and because “In love pool eyes float feathers after the struggle/The hopes burst and shot joy all through the mind/Sorrow more distant than a star/Multi colour run down over your body/Then the liquid passing all into all/Love is hot, truth is molten”)

b) Tim McGraw, because, you know, Poet Lariat
(and because "I don't know why I act the way I do/Like I ain't got a single thing to lose/Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy/I guess that's just the cowboy in me")

c) David Petraeus, because, you know, General Petraeus
(and because what do you need to know about poetry to be Laureate, anyway?)

Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tunes

If you think that Rep. Keith Ellison, the chair of the House Progressive Caucus, is going to win the DNC job in a walk, be aware that the party's neoliberals are not going to give up without a fight: e.g., Politico says former "Labor Secretary Tom Perez has raised over $825,000 in his bid to become the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee."

quote unquote for 2017/01/20

"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."

                          -- Mark Twain

Schooling Congress: "Name one state that borders Canada"

As a public service, is there an educational institution in DC that could offer GOP House and Senate members remedial education classes in Civics, History, Basic Science and Economics 101? Or would it set the bar sufficiently high to require that elected officials pass the naturalization test ("What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?" "What is the 'rule of law'?" "What are two rights of everyone living in the United States?" "What does the Constitution do?") before being allowed to take the oath of office?

This test contains all 100 USCIS Naturalization test questions and answers in random order: 100 Question US Citizenship Practice Test.

"It Can't Happen Here."

Not only can it happen here, it probably will.

The same people who, out of complacency, did not resist as Barack Obama embraced and enlarged the mechanisms of oppression, will not resist, this time out of fear and despondency, as Donald Trump uses them.

No longer can Americans smugly scorn the complicity of "good Germans" in Hitler's rise. We are all good Germans now.

quote unquote

In America, anybody can be president. That's one of the risks you take. -- Adlai Stevenson

High Noon in Orange County

The inestimably horrid OC congressman and Trump enthusiast Darrell Issa is running an exceedingly dirty campaign against a surprisingly strong Democratic opponent, attorney and retired Marine colonel Doug Applegate. Issa won the 2012 and 2014 primaries by at least 30%. But in June, he out-polled Applegate by only 5.3%, less than the GOP’s 8.4-point advantage in voter registration, despite Applegate's much weaker name recognition and despite outspending the Democrat $740,000 to $50,000 -- nearly 15-1.

Needless to say, Applegate has the attention of the Democratic organization with an attendant increase in donations since June, but he's running against the richest person in Congress, so help out if you can: Doug Applegate for Congress.

The rest of the story:
Darrell Issa Gets Viable Challenger (Rollcall)
Issa may face tough re-election by Martin Wisckol (OC Register)

Extra credit:
(Don't Look Back: Darrell Issa, the congressman about to make life more difficult for President Obama, has had some troubles of his own by Ryan Lizza (The New Yorker)
Not So Grand: Behind Rep. Darrell Issa’s Three Auto Theft Accusations by Tommy Christopher (MEDIAite)

It's still the economy, stupid.

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