18 November 2017

Linkage Vid

Have some Space pr0n:

17 November 2017

More of This

In Pittsburgh, the Democratic Socialist Alliance (DSA) just defeated two incumbents, one a Republican city councilman and the other a longtime Democratic machine politician judge, and in so doing flipped the city council from Republican to Democratic:
The party inside of the MixTape bar in the historically lefty neighborhood of Garfield was absolutely jubilant. Hipster dance music blared over speakers as young hipster members of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) embraced long-time neighborhood activists, who had been involved in organizing in the community for decades.


[Pittsburgh DSA Co-Chair Adam] Shuck and his comrades had reasons to be ecstatic. In their first major electoral test, the 385 dues-paying members strong Pittsburgh DSA proved that they weren’t just a group of hipsters, but a serious political force that could shake up stagnant Pittsburgh political machine.

Not only did a DSA member flip a county council seat back to Democrats, but the DSA toppled District Justice Ron Costa, one of the longtime bosses of the Costa political family. In addition to these wins, reform oriented candidates in the industrial, inner-city suburbs also defeated long-time incumbents in key races.

The campaigns were noted for their innovativeness and creativity in a Pittsburgh political scene long ossified by political legacy candidates.

Running under the slogan of “I don’t sell out, I sell auto parts”, 54-year-old DSA member Anita Prizio, filmed TV ads promising “Bad Puns, Good Policy”. Her campaign focused on the need for more transparency in local government, tackling the opioid crisis, and combatting lead poisoning affecting Pittsburgh area residents. Her quirky outsider campaign garnered the support of DSA and Our Revolution.

Despite running in some of the richest suburbs of Pittsburgh as well as some inner-city neighborhoods, Prizio was able to knock off incumbent Republican county councilman Ed Kress by a margin of 50.8% to 49.1%.

However, the most stunning victory was the defeat of 24-year incumbent District Justice Ron Costa by independent candidate Mike Pappas. A civil rights lawyer and former staffer to legendary progressive State Senator Jim Ferlo, the lifelong Pittsburgh resident Pappas ran under the slogan of “Addiction is not a crime”.

As a District Justice, Pappas pledged to reduce mass incarceration and implement principles of restorative justice. This radical platform garnered the attention of progressives nationally and earned him the first-ever endorsement issued in a judicial race by the Bernie Sanders backed group Our Revolution.

Pappas’s DSA endorsement prompted Judge Costa, an old-school machine Democrat, to send a letter to thousands of his constituents warning them that “You need to know that the DSA is a splinter group that has called for the elimination of prisons and police as well as drastic changes to our law”.

Despite the red-baiting and lacking a position on the ballot as a Democrat, Pappas trounced the 24-year incumbent Costa by an 11 point margin. Pappas mobilized over a hundred volunteers throughout the district and increased the voter turnout from 5,800 votes in the District Justice election in 2011 to 8,900 votes in 2017.
There is a saying that all politics is local, and many state and local elections are timed to avoid the Presidential campaign years (Maryland Legislature and Governor, for example) or to completely avoid federal elections (VA state house & governor, and the aforementioned Pittsburgh elections, for example).

It serves to tilt the playing field toward machine politicians, since they typically have the operatives on the ground to get the smaller numbers of voters to the polls required for victory.

The DSA, is acting, organizing, and running locally, and they are winning.

This is in stark contrast to a some other left wing political movements who seem to limit themselves to pious political posturing in the off years, and kamikaze Presidential campaigns every 4 years. **cough** Green Party **cough**

16 November 2017

Oh Snap!

At the Wall Street Journal CEO Council meeting. Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn asked who would be investing in new plant and equipment if the tax cuts passed.

Very few hands went up:
President Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, looked out from the stage at a sea of CEOs and top executives in the audience Tuesday for the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council meeting. As Cohn sat comfortably onstage, a Journal editor asked the crowd to raise their hands if their company plans to invest more if the tax reform bill passes.

Very few hands went up.

Cohn looked surprised. “Why aren't the other hands up?” he said.

He laughed a little to lighten the mood, but it didn't cause many more hands to rise. Maybe the CEOs were tired. Maybe they didn't hear the question. It was a casual poll, but the lukewarm response seemed in tension with much of the public enthusiasm among corporations for a tax overhaul.


Second, executives themselves have indicated they probably won't use extra profits to invest. A Bank of America-Merrill Lynch survey this summer asked over 300 executives at major U.S. corporations what they would do after a “tax holiday” that would allow them to bring back money held overseas at a low tax rate. The No. 1 response? Pay down debt. The second most popular response was stock buybacks, where companies purchase some of their own shares to drive up the price. The third was mergers. Actual investments in new factories and more research were low on the list of plans for how to spend extra money.
This sh%$ is not a surprise.  Basically, it's Econ 101.

Republican Family Values

Wes Goodman, a Republican state representative in Ohio who has made the protection of, "Natural Marriage," a center piece of his poltical personae, has resigned after being caught having an affair with another man.

To paraphrase James Carville, it's the hypicrisy, stupid:

A Christian “family values” Republican lawmaker has stepped down from his post in Ohio’s state House over revelations that he engaged in “inappropriate conduct” with another man at his legislative office, said The Columbus Dispatch on Thursday.

Wes Goodman, 33, a married former aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), submitted a two-sentence resignation letter to the state Republican Party on Wednesday after a meeting with state House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R).

“I was alerted to details yesterday afternoon regarding his involvement in inappropriate behavior related to his state office,” said Rosenberger in a statement on Wednesday. “I met with him later in the day where he acknowledged and confirmed the allegations. It became clear that his resignation was the most appropriate course of action for him, his family, the constituents of the 87th House District and this institution.”

No charges of harassment or abuse were filed against Goodman. The details of the incident are not clear, but apparently a witness to the two men’s liaison reported Goodman to House Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe on Tuesday.

“Rumors about Goodman’s questionable conduct, including his use of social media, have been swirling at the Statehouse in the past few weeks and include stories dating back years to when he worked in Washington. His Facebook account was taken offline,” said the Dispatch.
Anyone surprised by this?  I'm not.

Say It Ain't So, Al

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) faced swift condemnation and bipartisan calls for an ethics investigation on Thursday after a Los Angeles radio broadcaster accused him of forcibly kissing and groping her in 2006.

Franken first issued a brief apology, saying his actions were intended to be funny and that he didn’t recall the incident the way Leeann Tweeden did. He later issued a longer apology: “There’s no excuse,” he said in a subsequent statement, adding that he would “gladly cooperate” with an ethics investigation.

That looks likely to happen. At least half a dozen Senate Democrats urged their chamber’s six-member, bipartisan ethics committee to investigate the allegations. Franken could face censureship or even expulsion from the Senate.
Copy editing note here, it's, "censure," not "censureship," you illiterate Saracen pig.

This sucks like 1000 Hoovers all going at once.

Tweet of the Day

This is such a wonderful thing.

H/t naked capitalism.

But of Course

There has been a major leak of the Keystone Pipeline:
About 5,000 barrels of oil, or about 210,000 gallons, gushed out of the Keystone Pipeline on Thursday in South Dakota, blackening a grassy field in the remote northeast part of the state and sending cleanup crews and emergency workers scrambling to the site.

“This is not a little spill from any perspective,” said Kim McIntosh, an environmental scientist with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. No livestock or drinking water sources appeared to be threatened, Ms. McIntosh said, and no farm buildings or houses are within a mile.

The spill, near Amherst, S.D., comes just days before regulators in neighboring Nebraska decide whether to grant the final permit needed to begin construction on a different pipeline proposal, the Keystone XL, which would be operated by the same company. An announcement in Nebraska is expected on Monday.
This is not a surprise.  TransCanada's safety record sucks.


The bribery trial of New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez has ended in a hung jury.

He's corrupt as hell, but Supreme Court rulings since John Roberts has become Chief Justice have served to make it almost impossible for corruption to be successfully prosecuted.

The US's drunk walk to Zimbabwe continues.

15 November 2017

Good Day for Journalistic Malpractice

Buzz Feed just published a story claiming that Russia wired to thousands dollars to its embassy in Washington, DC to influence the 2016 election.

Their evidence is a leak from someone in the FBI saying that they surveilled transfers to the embassy with "2016 election" in the memo field.

It turns out that if you ignore the headline, and the over the top tweets, and make it down 7 paragraphs, (Well, not any more, they rewrote the article) you discover that the money was to cover the expenses of setting up polling places for the 2016 Russian parliamentary elections: (Wapo link because I don't want to raise their Google rank, and because of the rewrite)
There is a persistent belief among many Americans that there exists a piece of evidence that will, once and for all, prove that President Trump was aware that the Russian government hoped that he would win the presidency and, further, that he or his campaign encouraged and aided that Russian effort. That belief is informed by two things: the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian meddling in the election and the surfeit of revelations that, looked at through the proper lens, indicate an awful lot of smoke masking an as-yet-unseen fire.

The result is that a lot of people are eager for any new bread crumbs that seem as though they might lead to clear proof of Trump’s collusion. And that, in turn, means stories that might serve as those bread crumbs tend to see a lot of traffic for the news outlets that write them.

On Tuesday afternoon, a new story at BuzzFeed seemed like it might find a place in the picture of Russian meddling. “Secret Finding,” the headline proclaimed, “60 Russian Payments ‘To Finance Election Campaign Of 2016.’ ” The quoted section of the headline referred to the memo fields of a wire transfer sent by the Russian government to the embassy in Washington. It was Aug. 3, and the embassy was being sent $30,000 earmarked for the “election campaign of 2016.”


There was just one detail that didn’t warrant mentioning in the blurb or the alert . . . or even the story until the seventh paragraph: Russia, too, had an election last year, for its own legislative body. That election was held in mid-September, six weeks or so after the payment to the embassy in Washington.

BuzzFeed noted that it wasn’t only the U.S. Embassy that had received money. So, too, did embassies in countries as widespread as Afghanistan and Nigeria, with the last payments being sent two days after the election. After the Russian election, that is.
 Someone got their journalism degree out of a Cracker Jack box.

The Distinguished Gentleman from Virginia Can Go Cheney Himself

Virginia Senator Mark Warner is proposing legislation vitiating state regulation of the predatory practices of payday lenders, because, without the ability to f%$# poor people, we won't see "innovation":

A little over a year ago, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) addressed a small audience of political insiders at the Brookings Institution, one of the most prestigious think tanks in the nation’s capital. Times were changing, Warner told the crowd, and the old guard from Washington and Wall Street wasn’t keeping up with the needs of the modern workforce. The gig economy, outsourcing and automation had created an era of unprecedented “income volatility” for Americans. New financial technology firms had “an opportunity to bridge part of that new social contract,” to “lean forward and meet workers where they’re working.”


A year later, that tomorrow has arrived. And the grand financial technology breakthrough, it turns out, is to help payday lenders sidestep basic consumer protection laws.

In late July, Warner introduced the ingeniously titled “Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017.” The legislation would allow payday lenders to ignore state interest rate caps on consumer loans as long as they partnered with a national bank.


Silicon Valley has been toying with the high-interest consumer loan market for a few years. LendingClub, Prosper, LendUp and other FinTech companies have been billing themselves as hip, savvy alternatives to payday loans or pricey credit cards. They typically partner with a bank to avoid regulatory costs, and they are just as eager to bypass state usury laws as are their more notorious competitors. LendingClub, in particular, insists it will not be able to help people lower their credit card bills if it has to abide by state usury caps (banks that issue credit cards are mostly exempt from those laws, after all).
Someone please primary this SOB.

This Is America, of Course He Can't Keep His Mass Shootings Straight

There are simply too many mass shootings to keep track of them all:
It’s not uncommon for presidents to express condolences after a mass shooting in America, but it’s certainly unusual for them to forget the city in which it occurred.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Tuesday night after the shooting at the Rancho Tehema Elementary School in northern California. But instead of acknowledging the tragedy there, he name-checked the one in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which took place Nov. 5.

Mixed Emotions

After Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of Presidential elections in Zimbabwe in 2008, I followed developments there hoping for a peaceful transition to democracy for a few years before throwing in the towel.

I figured that nothing would change, and I felt that I had nothing to add.

Well, it appears that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces have deposed Robert Mugabe in a coup.

I'm not sure if this actually constitutes a change, or if it will lead to change:
Zimbabwe — After ruling Zimbabwe for nearly four decades, leading the country from the triumph of its independence struggle to economic collapse, the world’s oldest head of state became a prisoner of the military he once commanded.

Robert Mugabe, 93, was detained along with his wife, according to a military announcement Wednesday. The move appears to end one of Africa’s most controversial political dynasties while raising questions about what might come next — military rule, a transitional government or a settlement that would allow Mugabe to return to power.

No matter what happens, this appears to be a watershed moment for Zimbabwe and southern Africa, which have suffered from the tumult of Mugabe’s reign, even as his hold on power sometimes seemed unshakable.

Zimbabweans awoke early Wednesday to a televised announcement from an army general promising that there was “not a military takeover,” although Mugabe had been detained and armored vehicles were rolling into Harare, the capital.


Mugabe recently purged some key officials from the ruling party, ZANU-PF, paving the way for his 52-year-old spouse, Grace, to succeed him. Many see that move as a major miscalculation, alienating Mugabe from the civilians and military leaders on whom he had long depended. 
Seeing as how the military is part and parcel of the corruption and human rights disaster that is today's Zimbabwe, I do not expect this to usher in an era freedom, prosperity, and democracy.


Of course, it's Ezra Klein who is the very modern model of cognitive dissonance.

He suggests that the Democratic establishment, of which the DNC is a part, tried to determine the outcome, and that somehow this is not an attempt to "rig" the primaries, because ……… Sparkle ponies.

It's kind of like how he suggests that the DNC debate schedule, which foreclosed meaningful exposure to candidates not named "Clinton", and the rules prohibiting other debates, weren't an attempt to fix things because, "Debates are arguably her best medium," despite the fact that Sanders more than held his own, and O'Malley excelled, while he lasted.

The concluding paragraph of the article summarizes this incoherent world salad:
The 2016 Democratic primary wasn’t rigged by the DNC, and it certainly wasn’t rigged against Sanders. But Democratic elites did try to make Clinton’s nomination as inevitable, as preordained, as possible. And the party is still managing the resentment that engendered in voters. “Once somebody doesn’t trust you,” sighs Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic chair, “it’s very hard to get that trust back.”
Jeebus.  I wish that there were a cure for Michael Kinsley Disease. (Mindless contrarianism)