After November

Win or lose the presidency in 2020 election, the Democrats are failing as a political party. They're headed for the same encyclopedia entry as the Whigs.

Getting rid of Trump is essential, but it is only a first step. After Nov, we have to come to grips with the reality that the Democratic Party's allegiance to corporate power is unshakable. New forms of political action are necessary. New organizations have to be created to represent working people and the middle class. As much as possible, Sanders' "revolution" must be formalized. There are models for what might happen next: from the militant labor action of the sort that created the vibrant middle class, the civil rights movement and the Mobilization Against the War to the Occupy Movement, the Women's March and the children's fight for gun control

Whether Joe Biden wins or Donald Trump does, we can't return to the neoliberal governance that made Trump possible in the first place. Trump may be gone but the need for universal health care, the housing catastrophe, decaying infrastructure, failing welfare state, endless war and climate change will still be with us. On their own, corporate Democrats cannot be counted on to do anything about any of it. It's up to us.

Chomsky on Neoliberalism

"Scientists have been warning of a pandemic for years, insistently so since the SARS epidemic of 2003, also caused by a coronavirus, for which vaccines were developed but did not proceed beyond the pre-clinical level. That was the time to begin to put in place
rapid-response systems in preparation for an outbreak and to set aside spare capacity that would be needed. Initiatives could also have been undertaken to develop defenses and modes of treatment for a likely recurrence with a related virus.

"But scientific understanding is not enough. There has to be someone to pick up the ball and run with it. That option was barred by the pathology of the contemporary socioeconomic order. Market signals were clear: There’s no profit in preventing a future catastrophe. The government could have stepped in, but that’s barred by reigning doctrine: “Government is the problem,” Reagan told us with his sunny smile, meaning that decision-making has to be handed over even more fully to the business world, which is devoted to private profit and is free from influence by those who might be concerned with the common good. The years that followed injected a dose of neoliberal brutality to the unconstrained capitalist order and the twisted form of markets it constructs."

The rest of the story:
Chomsky: Ventilator Shortage Exposes the Cruelty of Neoliberal Capitalism by C.J. Polychroniou (Truthout)

The LA County Health Officer has issued two separate orders:

1) Self-quarantine of anyone exposed to an individual diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19.

2) Self-isolation of anyone diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19.

It is very, very important that you take these guidelines seriously, for the sake of your health, as well as the health of your family and community.

There are critical differences between self-quarantine and self-isolation.

Here's what the new orders mean for you:

Self-Quarantine Order
Required for anyone exposed to a person diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19.
You must stay in quarantine for 14 days.
You cannot leave your place of quarantine for all 14 days.
The only exception to leave quarantine is to receive medical care.
If you develop even mild COVID-19 symptoms, you must self-isolate.

Self-Isolation Order
Required for anyone diagnosed with or showing symptoms of COVID-19.
The self-isolation period must last at least 7 days.
Notify anyone you've had contact with while symptomatic to self-quarantine themselves.
You must continue to self-isolate for at least 72 hours after you've stopped experiencing COVID-19 symptoms without the use of fever-reducing medications.
The only exception to leave self-isolation is to receive medical care.
If you think you need to see a doctor or undergo testing, please contact your health care provider.

The County's COVID-19 website, updated regularly, has excellent resources for senior citizens, children and families, employers and employees, and much more. Please bookmark it: https://covid19.lacounty.gov/

While you're distracted...

"As much of his government battles the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump is pushing ahead with major reversals of environmental regulations, including a restriction on scientific research that some doctors worry would complicate future pandemic controls.

"Federal employees across multiple agencies said the administration was racing to complete a half-dozen significant rollbacks over the coming month. They include a measure to weaken automobile fuel efficiency standards, which one person familiar with the plans said would be issued as early as next week.

"Other efforts include loosening controls on toxic ash from coal plants, relaxing restrictions on mercury emissions and weakening the consideration of climate change in environmental reviews for most infrastructure projects."

Credit...Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The rest of the story:
Coronavirus Doesn’t Slow Trump’s Regulatory Rollbacks by Lisa Friedman (The New York Times)

PSA: Grocery Shopping Tips in COVID-19

Beltway Kabuki

"There is only one choice in this election. The consolidation of oligarchic power under Donald Trump or the consolidation of oligarchic power under Joe Biden. The oligarchs, with Trump or Biden, will win again. We will lose. The oligarchs made it abundantly clear, should Bernie Sanders miraculously become the Democratic Party nominee, they would join forces with the Republicans to crush him. Trump would, if Sanders was the nominee, instantly be shorn by the Democratic Party elites of his demons and his propensity for tyranny. Sanders would be red-baited -- as he was viciously Friday in The New York Times’ “As Bernie Sanders Pushed for Closer Ties, Soviet Union Spotted Opportunity” -- and turned into a figure of derision and ridicule. The oligarchs preach the sermon of the least-worst to us when they attempt to ram a Hillary Clinton or a Biden down our throats but ignore it for themselves. They prefer Biden over Trump, but they can live with either.

"Only one thing matters to the oligarchs. It is not democracy. It is not truth. It is not the consent of the governed. It is not income inequality. It is not the surveillance state. It is not endless war. It is not jobs. It is not the climate. It is the primacy of corporate power -- which has extinguished our democracy and left most of the working class in misery -- and the continued increase and consolidation of their wealth. It is impossible working within the system to shatter the hegemony of oligarchic power or institute meaningful reform. Change, real change, will only come by sustained acts of civil disobedience and mass mobilization, as with the yellow vests movement in France and the British-based Extinction Rebellion. The longer we are fooled by the electoral burlesque, the more disempowered we will become."

The rest of the story:
The One-Choice Election by Chris Hedges (TruthDig)

From 2014: Banksy Foresees Greta Thunberg

If only.

"These are all actual quotes. No, nothing has been embellished or exaggerated. And yes, some things were too outrageous to include.”

“Make the customer think he’s getting laid when he’s getting fucked.” -- The first entry in “Portable Bloomberg,” a booklet compiled by a former employee of Michael Bloomberg.

The Portable Bloomberg: The Wit & Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg is not your guy.

"In total, 1,806 people were arrested during the [Republican] convention. Some were legal observers and members of the press. Some were mere bystanders who unwittingly encountered protesters while walking in the city and got swept up in indiscriminate mass arrests. 'I was just walking by –– I had a receipt from a store that I had bought something from on that street' V'epa Majamutar told Democracy Now some 12 hours after her arrest. 'All of a sudden the street basically just gets cordoned off and we cannot move. So before I was arrested I was just standing still because that's all we could really do. And then they just started putting handcuffs on people. They gave us no warning.'"

At the 2004 Republican National Convention, Michael Bloomberg presided over dubious arrests: What Bloomberg Did to Peaceful Protesters by Conor Friedersdorf (The Atlantic)

That time Bloomberg said a $10 minimum wage proposal was creeping state communism.

This is from 2012:
Mike Bloomberg in a hard hat.                               (photo: Dana Rubenstein)
"On Wednesday night, City Council speaker Christine Quinn announced that negotiations were finally complete on a living wage bill that would require some recipients of large economic development subsidies to pay their employees at least $10 an hour.

"Quinn calls it 'the most impactful living-wage law in the United States,' but experts say it will actually impact about 500 workers a year.

"Even so, today, Bloomberg compared the legislation to communism and said he would veto the bill and if the veto is overridden, his administration will file a lawsuit.

"'It's interesting if you think about it,' said the mayor. 'The last time we really had a big managed economy was the USSR and that didn't work out so well.'"

"'It would be great if all jobs in the city paid a lot of money and had great benefits for the workers. Not good for the employers. But if you force that you will just drive businesses out of the city.'"

The rest of the story: 'Living wage' reminds Bloomberg of Soviet communism; he says he'll stop it in court if he has to by Dana Rubinstein (Politico)

You must never vote for Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg, to borrow a line from Elizabeth Warren, is running in the wrong presidential primary.
                                                         R.J. Matson (Cagle Cartoons)

Reading List:
 “In 2002, the first year Bloomberg was mayor, 97,296 of these stops were recorded. They surged during Bloomberg’s tenure to a peak of 685,724 stops in 2011, near the end of his third term. Nearly 90 percent of the people who were stopped and frisked were innocent of any wrongdoing”: You Must Never Vote for Bloomberg by Charles M. Blow (New York Times)
 Michael Bloomberg’s Right-Wing Views on Foreign Policy Make Him a Perfect Candidate for the Republican Nomination by Mehdi Hasan (The Intercept)
 The surging Democratic presidential candidate and Bloomberg LP have fielded nearly 40 sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits over decades: Why Is Bloomberg's Long History of Egregious Sexism Getting a Pass? by Laura Bassett (GQ)
Disparaging comments. Demeaning jokes. As the mogul reportedly considers a 2020 presidential run, it remains an open question whether his long-alleged history of undermining women will affect his chances: ‘I’d Do Her’: Mike Bloomberg and the Underbelly of #MeToo by Megan Garber (The Atlantic)
 "We need to confront the shameful legacy of discrimination, not lie about it like Mike Bloomberg": Warren Slams Bloomberg for Blaming 2008 Financial Meltdown On End of Redlining Policy by Julia Conley (Common Dreams)
 Bloomberg education plan to promote charter school expansion by Carl Campanile (New York Post)
 Michael Bloomberg On Marijuana: Legalizing 'Another Addictive Narcotic' Is Perhaps the 'Stupidest Thing Anybody Has Ever Done' by Tim Marcin (Newsweek)
 I’m an art teacher. Mike’s policies gutted my school. During those years, I was lucky to have enough copy paper for my students to draw on. How Bloomberg Trashed Public Education in New York by Jake Jacobs (The Progressive)
 The billionaire’s long history of contradictions, gaffes, and self-owns, in his own words: A List of Things Bloomberg Actually Said About Fat People, Rape, George W. Bush, and J.Lo by Tim Murphy (Mother Jones)

Iowa

Bernie Sanders is ahead in the tally of votes; the delegate count is arriverd at by an arcane counting methodology (think Electoral College). Pete Buttigieg benefited from Joe Biden's collapse; there is no foreseeable pathway for the mayor to the Oval Office, but it was good of him to stick a fork in Uncle Joe. Donald Trump had a good night ... and so did Michael Bloomberg. Nevada is undecided. New Hampshire is Sanders' to lose. Biden is up by only 10% in South Carolina. Sanders supporters need to double their efforts. In 2008, progressives put aside their differences to stop Clinton (John Edwards got out of the way by suspending his campaign); expect the party centrists to try the same thing on March 3 to stop Sanders. Get to work.

Not Us, You

So when, as is likely, the nomination is stolen from him at the Democratic
Convention, will Bernie Sanders 1) concede as he did in 2016 and try
to get the "us" in his campaign slogan to fall in line behind Joe Biden or Michael Bloomberg or whatever member of the kleptocracy the Democratic poobahs have chosen as designated hitman (which millions of "us" will probably perceive as a betrayal); 2) lead his delegates out of the convention to continue the fight in the streets; 3) declare the Democratic Party null and void and conduct an independent campaign; 4) convert his campaign into an independent political movement to organize the people to take on the political class; or 5) use his political organization as the starting place to create a new progressive party to take on the parties of the center and the right in 2022 and beyond?

The Party’s Over: Bernie’s Last Dance With the Dems by Jim Kavanaugh (CounterPunch)

The fact that Bernie Sanders can succeed without the party machine enrages those who sacrificed their idealism to play the game

"Yes, our electoral system is in substantial ways anti-democratic, and the influence of money in politics is pernicious, and Republicans suppress the vote in earnest. But those things have been true forever. They are a given. The job of capitalizing on the enormous demographic disadvantage that the upper class faces in the class war falls to the Democratic party. The Democratic party, however, has never had any interest in really capitalizing on it.
"Now, Bernie Sanders is threatening to make the class war reality by winning the Democratic presidential nomination. His biggest obstacle is not the Republican candidate – a rich, evil cartoon man who is a perfect foil for Bernie’s analysis of what plagues us – but the Democratic establishment. In their eyes, he is an existential threat to their traditional approach of determining their stance on moral issues by finding a point halfway between 'What’s right' and 'What the Koch brothers are advocating via attack ads.'

"You can sense their panic, rising like tree sap. As time grows shorter and the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire trend in Bernie’s favor, the Third Way-style Democrats voice increasingly desperate warnings that a party that lost to Trump may be about to make a mistake. The Wall Street set throws more money at Joe Biden; the famous columnists who backed the Iraq war sound the alarm about unelectability; the candidate who lost to a reality television clown joins in the doomsaying. A Hollywood casting agency specializing in budget comedies could not assemble a less credible group of opponents. One of Bernie Sanders’ greatest advantages in the race is that many of the most unlikable hypocrites in America despise him."

The rest of the story:
Bernie Sanders' real obstacle is not Trump. It's the Democratic establishment. by Hamilton Nolan (The Guardian)

Should there be an independent left outside of the Democratic Party?

"The Democratic Party is now the full-throated proponent of neoliberal austerity at home, aggressive militarism abroad, and the ubiquitous national security state. Democrats gave landslide approvals to a record high war budget and renewal of the Patriot Act, while Pelosi’s 'pay-go' act doomed prospects for future progressive legislation. The last Democratic president’s deportations, drone strikes, wars in seven countries, multi-trillion-dollar upgrading of the US’s nuclear war fighting capacity, multi-trillion-dollar quantitative easing gift to finance capitalists, extension of the tax cut for the rich, and so forth also rise – giving credit where credit is due – to the level of catastrophe."

The rest of the story:
 The Imminent Threat of Trump and the Value of Progressive Third Parties by Roger Harris (CounterPunch)
 An Open Letter to the Green Party for 2020 by Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher, Leslie Cagan, Ron Daniels, Kathy Kelly, Norman Solomon, Cynthia Peters and Michael Albert (TruthDig)
 The Green Party Is Not the Democrats’ Problem by Howie Hawkins (CounterPunch)

Sanders on the Stump

Here's the candidate who doesn't jab voters in the chest and tell them to vote for someone else. The headline is clickbait. Sen. Sanders doesn't "destroy" the voter. He treats him with respect and tries to earn his understanding, just as he has done for 40 years.

Where they stand: The Environment.

The CBD graded the 2020 Democratic candidates on four key environmental areas ("We evaluated every candidate polling above 1% in the latest national polls. We did not evaluate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg because of his decision not to participate in any Democratic debate, build a grassroots network of supporters or compete in any of the early state caucuses or primaries"): Environmental Voter Guide (Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund)

Let's Do This

The People are within sight of having an advocate in the Oval Office. But we're going to have to fight for it, and fight hard. The reaction is going to be fierce. The oligarchs won't like it, of course. But if you want to witness terror look in the eyes of the aparatchiks of the Democratic Party. They know that decades of three-martini lunches and torrents of cash are over. This is our moment to kick the corporate bagmen, hustlers and bunco artists out of politics. There'll be no lesser-of-two-evils this time. We've had forty years of Middle-Managers-in-Chief. We need an Organizer-in-Chief. If you can't go to Ohio and Nevada and New Hampshire, send money. Get out the vote where you live. Let's take back the Senate. Let's put Sen. Bernie Sanders in the White House. Let's do this.

Not to miss. In theaters now.

Award-winning documentary about Lea Tsemel, a Jewish-Israeli lawyer who defends Palestinians: from feminists to fundamentalists, from non-violent demonstrators to armed militants.

Guilty until proven innocent

"According to the National Registry of Exonerations (NRE), since 1989, 2,515 men and women have been exonerated after proving their innocence. In total, among all known exonerees, Americans have shelled out a staggering $4.12 billion to incarcerate innocent men and women since 1989, according to a Yahoo Finance analysis. That’s largely money spent on trials, and the cost of housing inmates in prison. According to the Bureau of Prisons, in the fiscal year 2017, the average cost to house a prisoner was over $36,000 a year in federal facilities. But black men make up the majority of those wrongfully convicted — approximately 49%. And since 1989, taxpayers have wasted $944 million to incarcerate black men and women that were later found to be innocent. That number climbs to $1.2 billion when including Hispanic men and women."

The rest of the story:
US Taxpayers spent almost $1 billion incarcerating innocent black people (Blacks in Law Enforcement of America)

Too little, too soon

Only two articles of impeachment? Under most circumstances, prosecutors include all alleged crimes in an indictment. If the jury won't convict on one, they will on another. Multiple crimes also suggest a criminal mindset. His defenders are saying that even if Donald Trump is guilty of the Ukraine shakedown, it's a trivial and isolated offense that doesn't rise to the level of a high crime or misdemeanor. Nancy Pelosi's slowing down of the process opens the door to getting this right. If this is going to be done at all, there should be a second bill of impeachment. The Intercept points to 26 impeachable Trump offenses that were inexplicably overlooked or ignored by the House.

The rest of the story: The A to Z of Things Trump Could and Should Have Been Impeached For by Mehdi Hasan (The Intercept)

Corporate Media and 'Moderate' Democrats Are Defending the Oligarchy Against Bernie Sanders

The greatest trick the American oligarchy ever played was convincing the country they didn't exist.

by Norman Solomon, Reader Supported News

For the United States, oligarchy is the elephant – and donkey – in the room. Only one candidate for president is willing to name it.

Out of nearly 25,000 words spoken during the Democratic debate last Thursday night, the word “oligarchy” was heard once. “We are living in a nation increasingly becoming an oligarchy,” Bernie Sanders said, “where you have a handful of billionaires who spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying elections and politicians.”

Sanders gets so much flak from corporate media because his campaign is upsetting the dominant apple cart. He relentlessly exposes a basic contradiction: A society ruled by an oligarchy – defined as “a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes” – can’t really be a democracy.

The super-wealthy individuals and huge corporations that own the biggest U.S. media outlets don’t want actual democracy. It would curb their profits and their power.

Over the weekend, The Washington Post editorialized that the agendas of Sanders and Elizabeth Warren “probably would fail at the polls and, if not, would carry extreme risks if they tried to implement them.” The editorial went on to praise “the relative moderates in the race” – Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar – for “offering a more positive future.”

But “a more positive future” for whom? Those “moderates” are certainly offering a more positive future for the newspaper’s owner, Jeff Bezos, who usually ranks as the richest person in the world. He wants to acquire even more extreme personal wealth beyond his current $108 billion.

The Washington Post’s routinely negative treatment of Sanders, which became notorious during his 2016 presidential run, remains symptomatic of what afflicts mass-media coverage of his current campaign – from editorial pages and front pages to commercial TV news and “public” outlets like the “PBS NewsHour” and NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.”

The essence of a propaganda system is repetition. To be effective, it doesn’t require complete uniformity – only dominant messaging, worldviews and assumptions.

Prevailing in news media’s political content is the central, tacit assumption that oligarchy isn’t a reality in the United States. So, there’s scant interest in the fact that the richest three people in the USA “now have as much wealth as the bottom half of the U.S. population combined.” As for the damaging impacts on democracy, they get less attention than Melania Trump’s wardrobe.

Now, as Sanders surges in Iowa and elsewhere, there’s a renewed pattern of mass-media outlets notably ignoring or denigrating his campaign’s progress. Like many other Sanders supporters, I find that disgusting yet not surprising.

In fortresses of high finance and vast opulence – with no ceiling on the often-pathological quests for ever-greater wealth – defenders of oligarchy see democratic potential as an ominous weapon in the hands of advancing hordes. Media outlets provide a wide (and shallow) moat.

For mass media owned by oligarchs and their corporate entities, affinity with the “moderate” orientations of Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar is clear. Any one of them would be welcomed by corporate elites as protection against what they see as a hazardous upsurge of progressive populism.

While Buttigieg has emerged as a sharp corporate tool for the maintenance of oligarchy, Joe Biden is an old hand at such tasks. Meanwhile, ready to preempt the politician-intermediaries for plutocracy, Michael Bloomberg is offering a blunt instrument for direct wealthy rule. Estimated to be the eighth-richest person in the United States, he was urged to run for president this year by Bezos.

During the next few months, Bloomberg will continue to use his massive class-war chest to fund an advertising onslaught of unprecedented size. In just weeks, he has spent upwards of $80 million on TV ads, dwarfing all such spending by his opponents combined. And, with little fanfare, he has already hired upwards of 200 paid staffers, who’ll be deployed in 21 states.

If Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar or Bloomberg won the Democratic presidential nomination, that would be a triumph for oligarchy in the midst of rising grassroots opposition.

Right now, two corporate Democrats are the leading contenders to maintain corrupted business-as-usual at the top of the party. As the executive director of Our Revolution, Joseph Geevarghese, aptly put it days ago, “Almost every problem facing our country – from runaway greed on Wall Street, to high prescription drug prices, to locking kids in private detention facilities, to our failure to act against the climate crisis – can be traced back to the influence of the kind of donors fueling Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden’s campaigns for president.”

While uttering standard platitudes along the lines of making the rich and corporations “pay their fair share,” you won’t hear Buttigieg or Biden use the word “oligarchy.” That’s because, to serve the oligarchy, they must pretend it doesn’t exist.


---- 

Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched independent Bernie Delegates Network. Solomon is the author of a dozen books, including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

G.O.P. Lawmaker Had Visions of a Christian Alternative Government

He networked with local militia groups, talked about plans to create a 51st state called Liberty and distributed to his closest followers a “Biblical Basis for War” document that calls for the “surrender” of those who favor abortion rights, same-sex marriage, “idolatry” and communism. “If they do not yield — kill all males,” it said.

The rest of the story by Mike Baker (New York Times).

Should impeachment be a bipartisan effort?


Jimmy Dore, the former comic turned political commentator, now so smitten with the sound of his own voice he's become Rachel Maddow for Radicals, here interviews Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on her decision not to take a position on the articles of impeachment. Even at the cost of enduring Dore, Rep. Gabbard's argument is important, especially as the impeachment effort stalls.



Must reads:
 Pundits are pitting “fast” vs. “slow” and “Ukraine only” vs. “everything.” But smart and thorough is the way to go: Democrats Must Reject False Choices as They Pursue Impeachment by Joan Walsh (The Nation
 Tulsi Gabbard Releases Statement on Impeachment of President Trump
 The congresswoman, a Hawaii Democrat, called impeachment “a partisan process, fueled by tribal animosities” and said she favored censure instead: Tulsi Gabbard Votes ‘Present’ on Impeachment Articles: by Michael Levenson (New York Times)
 The way to defeat a rightwing political coalition is through leftwing politics, not political theater: Impeachment is the wrong way to beat Trump by Bhaskar Sunkara (The Guardian)
 Socialists should see impeachment as an opportunity to attack a movement that poses a long-run threat to the Left’s very existence: The Left Case for Impeachment by Max B. Sawicky (Jacobin)
 Getting rid of Trump would be great, but Congress isn’t going to do it — we actually have to vote him out. And impeachment, a therapeutic ritual for MSNBC hosts and an act of score-settling by the national security state, isn’t helping: What’s the Point of Impeachment? by Doug Henwood (Jacobin)

John Cleese Has a Theory on Why Political Correctness Is Rampant in Our Culture


“The idea that you have to be protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion is one I absolutely do not subscribe to.” -- John Cleese

Christ Stopped at Ramallah

"Like all forms of tribalism, Identity replaces shared truths with private property. The Politics of Identity are therefore ideal expressions of capitalist economics. They also serve, quite directly, to kill mass numbers of our fellow human beings. All in the name of my pain trumping your pain. The embrace of the Holocaust as the defining act of inhumanity to which nothing else can ever be compared blinds those embracing its sonorities to other kinds of oppression and carnage, creating a deep perversity of meaning: making the condemnation of this towering act of evil the reason to ignore the rest, or to derogate them as inferior to the full-on nightmare of Nazi genocide. Merry Christmas, Palestinians." --- Joan Clams Bodenheim

He didn't know the half of it


America is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone from barbarism to degeneracy without the usual interval of civilization. -- Georges Clemenceau

Sanders, AOC Unveil $180 Billion Green New Deal for Public Housing


The legislation aims to repair and upgrade public housing by securing renewable energy sources for approximately one million federally owned public housing units, affecting some two million people.

Beauty is in the eye of the officeholder


The folks at UglyJerry made a font out of congressional districts, many of them twisted into alphabetical shapes by gerrymandering.


They want you to urge your congressperson to do something about it.

The biggest city in the US is joining a voting reform movement.


"New York City has become the latest -- and most populous  -- city to adopt ranked-choice voting, a major milestone for voting reform efforts.

"Voters in the city overwhelmingly approved Ballot Question 1 on Tuesday, enabling voters to begin using ranked-choice voting in local primary and special elections beginning in 2021.

"New York City joins 20 other cities around the country, as well as multiple states, that have already started using this method in various elections. Maine, notably, implemented ranked-choice voting for the first time in a federal election in 2018.

"Ranked-choice voting works much like its name suggests. Instead of picking just one candidate on the ballot, voters rank their top five in order of preference.

"Once those votes are cast, they are counted in the following way, Lee Drutman explains:
"Ranked-choice voting lets voters mark their first-choice candidate first, their second-choice candidate second, their third-choice candidate third, and so on. Each voter has only one vote but can indicate their backup choices: If one candidate has an outright majority of first-place rankings, that candidate wins, just like a traditional election.

"But if no candidate has a majority in the first round, the candidate in last place is eliminated. Voters who had ranked that candidate first have their votes transferred to the candidate they ranked second. This process continues until a single candidate gathers a majority.
"Advocates of ranked-choice voting argue that it has many benefits. Because candidates need broad-based support to win, they are forced to engage with a wide range of voters, including groups that do not always see outreach from political campaigns. Additionally, studies have found that ranked-choice voting increases the number of minority and women candidates who vie for elected office, partly because ranked-choice campaigning is less negative.

"In addition to shifting the nature of campaigns, ranked-choice voting also gives voters more freedom to consider the full slate of candidates. Because of the way that votes are tallied, an individual could feel free to pick their favorite option without worrying that in doing so they are acting as a 'spoiler' who contributes to the victory of an unfavorable or unpopular candidate.

"Opponents of ranked-choice voting argue that it complicates the process too much, both when it comes to voting and tabulating results.

"Overall, New York City’s decision to adopt the ballot measure — though it will only affect a specific set of races — will serve as a good test case for ranked-choice voting, and it signals growing momentum for this voting reform."

The rest of the story:
 New York City adopts ranked-choice voting, a major milestone for the reform by Li Zhou (Vox)
 How does ranked choice voting work? (The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting)
Voter Choice for Massachusetts is a campaign to place a question on the 2020 ballot that would bring Ranked Choice Voting to Massachusetts elections starting in 2022.

Slowly the poison the whole bloodstream fills.
It is not the effort nor the failure tires.
The waste remains, the waste remains and kills.
                     -- William Epson (Missing Dates)

Old or young, climate change is the crisis of our lifetimes.


Meeting it is up to us. Mass civil disobedience is essential to forcing a political response.

"The political class, as anyone who has followed its progress over the past three years can surely now see, is chaotic, unwilling and, in isolation, strategically incapable of addressing even short-term crises, let alone a vast existential predicament. Yet a widespread and willful naivety prevails: the belief that voting is the only political action required to change a system. Unless it is accompanied by the concentrated power of protest – articulating precise demands and creating space in which new political factions can grow – voting, while essential, remains a blunt and feeble instrument."

"The media, with a few exceptions, is actively hostile. Even when broadcasters cover these issues, they carefully avoid any mention of power, talking about environmental collapse as if it is driven by mysterious, passive forces, and proposing microscopic fixes for vast structural problems.

"Those who govern the nation and shape public discourse cannot be trusted with the preservation of life on Earth."

The rest of the story:

Only rebellion will prevent an ecological apocalypse by George Monbiot (The Guardian)

Must see TV


The best political ad of the season.

Ha!

Basic Income: An idea whose time has come


"We live in a new world, remade by many forces: the disruptive technological revolution,
brought about by the computer and the internet; the globalisation of trade, migration and communication; a fast-growing worldwide demand running up against the limits imposed by a shrinking pool of natural resources and saturation of our atmosphere; the dislocation of traditional protective institutions, from the family to labour unions, state monopolies and welfare states; and the explosive interactions of these various trends." -- Philippe Van Parijs and Yannick Vanderborght in Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy

Brecht


In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
About the dark times.

             -- Bertolt Brecht

End Game?


Bush the Younger abused executive power and overstepped constitutional boundaries.

Congress did nothing.

Obama abused executive power and overstepped constitutional boundaries.

Congress did nothing.

Then came Trump.

Congress?
Democrats test limits of oversight powers on Trump by Jacqueline Thomsen and Morgan Chalfant (The Hill)

Main Street, Santa Monica, July 4, 2019

                                                           (photo: John Gabree)

Left-Right is virtually meaningless.

AOC is not an outlier.

The divide is between the War Party and the domestic spending party, between the neoliberals and the New Dealers, between the 1%-ers and the rest of us.

The policies endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders and their allies are supported by the vast majority of American voters.

There are plenty of people to their left -- see Ralph Nader, Jacobin, Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Jimmy Dorn, Robert Reich, anarchists, Socialists, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges, Richard Wolfe, Paul Buhle, Rev. William Barber, countless more -- who are, at least for the moment, limited to the power of persuasion.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to War We Go

For those too young to remember, the draft had nothing to do with wind (although, if you were troubled by too much intestinal wind, that might have kept you out of the draft).

The Rule of Memo


The so-called prohibition against charging a sitting president with federal crimes is not a constitutional mandate. It's a Justice Department policy formulated in memos by lawyers who happened to be employed by Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton when the matter came up.

Reading List:
Trump’s strategy to declare himself above the law and escape accountability by Paul Waldman (The Washington Post)
✓ Trump's Lawyer Says He Can't Be Guilty of Obstructing Justice: Is the President Above the Law? by Dale Eisman (Common Cause)
✓ The Supreme Court once rejected Bill Clinton’s claim of presidential immunity. Courts should now do the same with Donald Trump. The President Is Not Above the Law by Stephen B. Burbank, Richard D. Parker and Lucas A. Powe, Jr. (Politico)
How Do We Keep a Criminal President From Running Out the Clock? One Possible Solution by Joshua A. Geltzer (Slate)

From the It's-A-Dark-Cloud-That-Doesn't-Have-A-Silver-Lining Desk:


The House Appropriations Committee this week approved its $690.2 billion version of the fiscal 2020 defense spending bill, sending the measure to the House floor.

In good news, the panel adopted an amendment by California Rep. Barbara Lee to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which opponents across the political spectrum have derided as a blank check for war. Lee's proposal would sunset the AUMF eight months after the spending bill becomes law.

For the record, total military spending is "budgeted" at $733 billion when contingency costs and nuclear-related funding are added.

quote unquote: G. K. Chesterton



"The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up." -- G. K. Chesterton (the first sentence of "The Napoleon of Notting Hill")

Priorities

In the wake of climate change, as tropical diseases like dengue, yellow fever and Zika spread across North America, the U.S. government will discover it has the resources -- thus far unaffordable -- to pay for prevention and cures.
 
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