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Archive for the ‘GOP’ Category

The casual cruelty of abortion bans

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Texas has a law that in effect prohibits a woman getting an abortion once she realizes she’s pregnant. From a report in the Texas Tribune:

Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Wednesday a measure that would prohibit in Texas abortions as early as six weeks — before some women know they are pregnant — and open the door for almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers and others.

Ashley Smith posts on Facebook:

Let’s get info from the people who do this for a living. Sena Garven, an Ultrasound Technician says:


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So here’s the thing:This Alabama-abortion-ban is a big deal, in a very bad way. Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky… I’m looking at you too, but we’re going to focus on Alabama. If you’ve been living under a rock, let me catch you up. Alabama Governor, Kay Ivey, just signed a total abortion ban into law, the most restrictive law in the United States. The law will ban abortion at every stage of pregnancy for every reason.

This is not okay, not reasonable, and definitely not acceptable.

If you don’t know me well, maybe you don’t know what I do for a living. I’m an ultrasound technologist. My colleagues and I look at babies in every stage of pregnancy every day. I also work in a high risk unit. My unit and I look at babies and mothers in varying states of mental and physical health. If you think an abortion ban sounds good, then I am a good person to ask about why it isn’t.

So let me tell you:

About the woman whose baby developed with no skull, and the brain just floating around. Her baby still had a heartbeat, and she would not be able to access abortion.

About the woman whose baby has a rare chromosomal condition called T13. Her baby’s organs grew outside its body, and had a cleft palate so bad that there was no nose. She would not be able to access abortion.

About the woman whose blood pressure is spiking so high that she passes out and is likely to stroke out before her baby is born. She would not be able to access abortion.

About the woman with such a severe form of hemophilia that giving birth will probably be fatal to both her and the baby. She would not be able to access abortion.

About the 13 year old whose school isn’t allowed to teach her science-based sex-education, so she didn’t know how to prevent pregnancy or STIs, but whose body is not developed enough to carry to term without being damaged. She would not be able to access abortion.

About the woman who was raped by a friend who wanted to “make sure she got home safely”. She would not be able to access abortion.

About the woman who has PCOS so only has periods every 3-4 months and can’t find a birth control that works for her. She would not be able to access abortion.

About the woman whose abusive partner removed the condom without telling her (it’s called stealthing, and it happens more frequently than you’d think). She would not be able to access abortion.

About the woman with the cornual ectopic pregnancy that isn’t reliably in the uterus, and could grow to a size that will kill her. She would not be able to access abortion.

About the woman who has two kids she can barely feed already, and whose birth control just increased in price. She would not be able to access abortion.

About the 18 year old who just started college and is going to be the first graduate of the family if she can just stay in school. She would not be able to access abortion.

About the woman whose IUD slipped slightly and is now endangering both her and the pregnancy it was designed to prevent. She would not be able to access abortion.

About the many, many, many women who just don’t want to be pregnant for reasons that are their own. Health issues, abusive relationships, financial issues, social issues. They would not be able to access abortion.

Some of these might sound like reasonable exceptions to you. And you would be correct. But no one should get to decide what happens with another person’s body, not even to save a life. You need written permission from a corpse before life saving organs can be taken from them. You cannot be forced to donate blood, no matter how dire the situation. And no one else should get to decide what a woman does with her body, end of story.

But it’s not the end of the story, is it? Because here’s the kicker: if you consider abortion to be a murder (and some people genuinely believe that!) then miscarriage can be second degree murder. And this is already happening all over the world – El Salvador, Ecuador, and the US of A. Women are being jailed for miscarriages and stillbirths because they might have done something to cause it. If you start down this path of jailing women and doctors for making healthcare decisions that affect no one but themselves, then you get women who don’t go to a doctor for a safe procedure and instead order pills online or use whatever metal instruments they can find to end their own pregnancies. Women who are honestly experiencing a miscarriage (which is medically called a spontaneous abortion, just fyi) will not go to their doctor for help. They will bleed out on their bathroom floors or die of septic shock. And I haven’t even talked about how this will disproportionately affect women of color, LGBTQA+ women, or trans men. This isn’t about the “sanctity of life” anymore. It’s about controlling women.

Sena Garven

Written by Leisureguy

30 May 2021 at 3:36 pm

What The Rise Of Amazon Has To Do With The Rise Of Trump

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Danielle Kurtzleben reports at NPR:

Amazon was already an economic behemoth before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But when many Americans ramped up their shopping from home, the company saw explosive growth. In short, ProPublica journalist Alec MacGillis writes in Fulfillment, its fortunes diverged from the nation’s economic fortunes.

The book looks at the American economy through the lens of Amazon — the forces that made it, the trends it accelerated, and the inequality that he argues has resulted from the growth of Big Tech. The NPR Politics Podcast spoke to him about America’s “winning” and “losing” cities, what Amazon has to do with former President Donald Trump’s election, and how much it matters when consumers decide to boycott huge companies like Amazon.

Fulfillment was the latest selection in the NPR Politics Podcast Book Club. Join in the book conversations at the podcast’s Facebook group. The next discussion, in late June, will be about Elizabeth Hinton’s America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s.

The following are excerpts from the full interview with MacGillis, with answers edited for clarity and length. [Audio of the interview here. – LG]

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN: Your book isn’t exactly what I was expecting. I sort of went into it thinking, “this is going to be a book that’s, ‘Amazon [is] bad — it has bad labor practices and it hurts small business, etc.’ ” And while Amazon doesn’t come off as quite a hero, the book is much more about the American economy and American economic history through an Amazon lens. How would you describe what you were trying to do?

ALEC MACGILLIS: Yes, I actually came to Amazon secondarily within the book. I wanted to write a book for years now about regional disparities in America — the sort of growing regional inequality between a small set of what I call sort of winner-take-all cities, cities like Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Boston, D.C., and a much larger set of cities and towns that have that have really been falling behind.

We’ve always had richer and poorer places, but the gap between them has gotten a lot bigger in recent years, and it’s really unhealthy for the country. I especially wanted to write about it after Trump got elected; it was so clear just what a big role these regional disparities had in Trump’s election.

I chose Amazon as the frame for two different reasons. One is that the company is so ubiquitous now in our life, just so omnipresent, that it’s a handy thread to kind of just take you around the country and show what we’re becoming as a country in kind of a metaphorical kind of way. But it’s also a very handy frame for the story of racial inequality, because the company is itself helping drive these disparities. The regional concentration of wealth in our country is very closely tied to the concentration of our economy in certain companies.

DK: I’m not sure what the timeline was of you working on this book, but when you saw the big HQ2 contest happen — it’s like your book’s thesis on steroids. What was your reaction to Amazon holding essentially a Bachelor competition for where its next headquarters would be?

AM: It was quite serendipitous in a way that they embarked on this process while I was working on the book. I actually chose Washington, D.C. as one of the two “winner” cities that I was going to focus on before it got chosen by Amazon to be the second headquarters. [Amazon chose the D.C. suburb of Arlington, Va., as a new headquarters site in 2018.]

I knew that I wanted to focus on Seattle because it already was the Amazon headquarters. And I wanted to focus on Washington because it was so clear that Washington was another winner-take-all city that had been completely transformed by this kind of hyper-prosperity. And then, lo and behold, they go ahead and pick Washington as their second headquarters.

Another reason I wanted to have Washington as a second winner-take-all city is that I found the contrast between Washington and Baltimore so compelling for me.

The sort of spiritual heart of the book is the contrast between Washington [and] Baltimore, these two cities that are just 40 miles apart. I’ve moved between these cities now for the last 20 years, working and living in both places. And it’s just been so striking to watch the gap growing between them, and to me, just really upsetting and disheartening to watch that happening.

You have one city that’s become just incredibly unaffordable for so many people, where it costs, you know, seven, eight, nine hundred thousand dollars to buy a row house, if not more. All these people, longtime residents, mostly longtime black residents, being displaced by the thousands. And then just up the road in Baltimore, you have such deep population decline that you have rowhouses, that are going for seven or eight hundred thousand dollars down the road, being demolished by the hundreds.

That just is not good for people in either sort of city, and Amazon is really at the core of that. They chose Washington as their headquarters. It’s going to get only richer or more expensive.

DK: There’s so much to get at here in terms of the economic forces at work — the way that city government works, NIMBYism in action, de-unionization, companies getting preferential tax treatment, that sort of thing. How did we get here? Is there an original sin that sort of led to where we are, or is it just that we went from a goods-based to a tech-based economy, and this just sort of inevitably happened? . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

30 May 2021 at 1:32 pm

What Ancient Rome Tells Us About Today’s Senate

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James Fallows has a good column in the Atlantic. He writes:

The U.S. Senate’s abdication of duty at the start of this Memorial Day weekend, when 11 Senators (nine of them Republican) did not even show up to vote on authorizing an investigation of the January 6 insurrection, makes the item below particularly timely.

Fifty-four Senators (including six Republicans) voted to approve the investigative commission. Only 35 opposed it.

But in the institutionalized rule-of-the-minority that is the contemporary Senate, the measure “failed.” The 54 who supported the measure represented states totaling more than 190 million people. The 35 who opposed represented fewer than 105 million. (How do I know this? You take the list of states by population; you match them to Senators; you split the apportioned population when a state’s two senators voted in opposite ways; and you don’t count population for the 11 Senators who didn’t show up.)

The Senate was, of course, not designed to operate on a pure head-count basis. But this is a contemporary, permanent imbalance beyond what the practical-minded drafters of the Constitution would have countenanced.

Why “contemporary”? Because the filibuster was not part of the Constitutional balance-of-power scheme. As Adam Jentleson explains in his authoritative book Kill Switch, “real” filibusters, with Senators orating for hours on end, rose to prominence as tools of 20th-century segregationists. Their 21st-century rebirth has been at the hands of Mitch McConnell, who made them routine as soon as the Republicans lost control of the Senate in 2006.

The essay below, by a long-time analyst and practitioner of governance named Eric Schnurer, was written before the Senate’s failure on May 28, 2021. But it could have been written as a breaking-news analysis of the event.

Several days ago I wrote a setup for Schnurer’s essay, which I include in abbreviated form below. Then we come to his argument.


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Back in 2019, I did an article for the print magazine on Americans’ long-standing obsession with the decline-and-fall narrative of Rome. Like many good headlines, the one for this story intentionally overstated its argument. The headline was, “The End of the Roman Empire Wasn’t That Bad.” Of course it was bad! But the piece reviewed scholarship about what happened in the former Roman provinces “after the fall,” and how it prepared the way for European progress long after the last rulers of the Western Empire had disappeared.

Many people wrote in to agree and, naturally, to disagree. The online discussion begins here. One long response I quoted was from my friend Eric Schnurer. I had met him in the late 1970s when he was a college intern in the Carter-era White House speechwriting office where I worked. Since then he has written extensively (including for The Atlantic) and consulted on governmental and political affairs.

In his first installment, in the fall of 2019, Schnurer emphasized the parts of the America-and-Rome comparison he thought were most significant—and worrisome. Then last summer, during the election campaign and the pandemic lockdown, he extended the comparison in an even-less-cheering way.

Now he is back, with a third and more cautionary extension of his argument. I think it’s very much worth reading, for its discourses on speechwriting in Latin, among other aspects. I’ve slightly condensed his message and used bold highlighting as a guide to his argument. But I turn the floor over to him. He starts with a precis of his case of two years ago:

I contrasted Donald Trump’s America then—mid-2019—with the Rome of the Gracchus brothers, a pair of liberal social reformers who were both assassinated. Of course, the successive murders of two progressive brothers at the top rung of national power would seem to suggest the Kennedys more than, say, Bernie Sanders and Elisabeth Warren, to whom I compared them. But that’s to say that no historic parallels are perfect: One could just as fruitfully (or not) compare the present moment to America in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a period we managed to make it through without ultimately descending into civil war.

Yet, historical events can be instructive, predictive—even prescriptive—when not fully de-scriptive of current times and customs.

What concerned me about the Roman comparison was, I noted at the time, “the increasing economic inequality, the increasing political polarization, the total eclipse of ‘the greater good’ by what we’d call ‘special interests,’ the turn toward political violence, all of which led eventually to the spiral of destructive civil war, the collapse of democracy (such as it was), and the wholesale replacement of the system with the imperial dictatorship: Looks a lot like the present moment to me.”

In the 1960s, such developments were in the future, although perhaps apparent then to the prescient …

The question that raised was the extent to which the tick-tock of republican decline in Rome could provide a chronometer something like the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ famous “doomsday clock”:

If we could peg late summer 2019 to the Gracchi era—roughly up to 120 B.C.—with the fall of the Republic equated to Julius Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon and subsequent assumption of the dictatorship (roughly speaking, 50 B.C.), we could set our republican sundial at, more-or-less, “seventy years to midnight.” But time under our atomic-era clocks moves more quickly than in ancient Roman sundials, so how could we equate a seventy-year margin on a sundial to our own distance from a possible republican midnight?  We’d need another contemporary comparison to understand not just where we stood, but also how fast we were moving.


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A year later I wrote about the developments of 2020 that seemed to move us closer to midnight. I compared last year’s Trump to Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix: Despite common descriptions of Trump as a would-be Caesar, Sulla is, in terms of temperament and background, a closer match to The Donald: “Sulla, a patrician who indulged a fairly libertine, sometimes vulgar, lifestyle even throughout his several marriages, was nonetheless the champion of the economic, social and political conservatives.”

Of perhaps greater similarity—and great concern, in my view—was the increasing hollowing out of the Roman state from a “common good” into simply another form of private corporation benefiting the already-wealthy and powerful who could grab hold of its levers and hive off its components … After a tumultuous reign, Sulla retreated to his villa at Mar-a-Lago, er, Puteoli, and Rome fell into a period of relative quiescence.

That took us from the 120’s B.C. in July 2019 to roughly 80 B.C. by August 2020:  By that measure, our republican doomsday clock had lurched forward about 40 Roman years—a little more than halfway to midnight—in roughly a year …

But as U.S. politics fell into a period of relative quiescence lately, with Trump ensconced quietly at Puteoli—er, Mar-a-Lago—and a relatively calming, moderate and institutionalist Everyman (if no Cicero …) installed in the White House, I didn’t think much further about the Roman comparison.


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That is, until last week, when . . .

Continue reading. There much more.

Schnurer concludes:

The conspiracy ultimately collapsed and was defeated, but not without further militant uprisings aided by Rome’s enemies abroad. Catiline, a demagogue but in the end not the best of politicians or insurrectionists, was killed. Democracy, and the old order of things, seemed to have survived, and matters returned to a more-or-less normal state under Cicero’s stable hand.

But it turned out to be a brief reprieve. The rot had already set in. What mattered most in the long-term was not the immediate threat of the insurrectionists, but rather the complacency, if not sympathy, of the other ostensibly-republican leaders. It revealed the hollowness of not just their own souls but also the nation’s.

Another 10 months in America, another 15 years forward on the Roman sundial. At this rate, we’re about a year before midnight.

Written by Leisureguy

29 May 2021 at 10:45 am

US government sinks to new depths of dysfunction

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The Republican party has blocked an independent commission (which met  the demands the Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans insisted on). This makes sense if the Republicans were complicit in that attack.

A special shout out to Sen. Joe Manchin, who insisted that the filibuster remain, regardless of the damage it does.

I don’t see much hope for the US government going forward. Nicholas Fandos reports in the NY Times:

Republicans on Friday blocked the creation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, using their filibuster power in the Senate for the first time this year to doom a full accounting for the deadliest attack on Congress in centuries.

With the vast majority of Republicans determined to shield their party from potential political damage that could come from scrutiny of the storming of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, only six G.O.P. senators joined Democrats to support advancing the measure. The final vote, 54 to 35, fell short of the 60 senators needed to move forward.

The vote was a stinging defeat for proponents of the commission, who had argued that it was the only way to assemble a truly comprehensive account of the riot for a polarized nation. Modeled after the inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the proposed panel of experts would have been responsible for producing a report on the assault and recommendations to secure Congress by the end of the year.

The debate played out in the same chamber where a throng of supporters of former President Donald J. Trump, egged on by his lies of a stolen election and efforts by Republican lawmakers to invalidate President Biden’s victory, sought to disrupt Congress’s counting of electoral votes about five months ago.

Top Republicans had entertained supporting the measure as recently as last week. But they ultimately reversed course, and the House approved it with only 35 Republican votes. Leaders concluded that open-ended scrutiny of the attack would hand Democrats powerful political ammunition before the 2022 midterm elections — and enrage a former president they are intent on appeasing.

“I do not believe the additional extraneous commission that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader. “Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to do that.”

Though Mr. McConnell said he would continue to support criminal cases against the rioters and stand by his “unflinching” criticisms of Mr. Trump, the commission’s defeat is expected to embolden the former president at a time when he has once again ramped up circulation of his baseless and debunked claims.

In a matter of months, his lies have warped the views of many of his party’s supporters, who view Mr. Biden as illegitimate; inspired a rash of new voting restrictions in Republican-led states and a quixotic recount in Arizona denounced by both parties; and fueled efforts by Republican members of Congress to downplay and reframe the Capitol riot as a benign event akin to a “normal tourist visit.”

“People are just now beginning to understand!” Mr. Trump wrote in a statement on Thursday.

Democrats denounced the vote as a cowardly cover-up. They warned Republicans that preventing an independent inquiry — led by five commissioners appointed by Democrats and five by Republicans — would not shield them from confronting the implications of Mr. Trump’s attacks on the democratic process.

“Do my Republican colleagues remember that day?” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, asked moments after the vote. “Do my Republican colleagues remember the savage mob calling for the execution of Mike Pence, the makeshift gallows outside the Capitol?”

“Shame on the Republican Party for trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug because they are afraid of Donald Trump,” he added.

The six Republicans who voted to advance debate on the commission included . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

28 May 2021 at 12:25 pm

Heather Cox Richardson discusses police reform, Trump grand jury, election audit, and more

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

A year ago today, 46-year-old George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis as then–police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. As bystanders begged Chauvin to get up, a teenage girl walking by had the presence of mind to video what was happening. Thanks to that girl, Darnella Frazier, we all could hear Floyd telling Chauvin, “I can’t breathe.”

Floyd’s murder sparked more than 4700 protests across the nation that popularized both the idea that policing must be reformed and the concept that American systems, starting with law enforcement and moving to include housing, healthcare, education, and so on, are racially biased. In the past fourteen months, support for the Black Lives Matter movement among white people has jumped 5%, fueled mostly by younger people.

And yet, the rate of deaths at the hands of law enforcement officials has not changed, and Black people are three times more likely than white people to die at the hands of law enforcement even though they are 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed.

In April, a jury convicted Chauvin of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. He will be sentenced in June.

After the jury convicted Chauvin, President Joe Biden promised Floyd’s family that he would deliver a police reform bill. Today he and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Floyd’s family privately in the Oval Office for more than an hour, but the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has not become law. The act bars the use of chokeholds and makes it easier to prosecute police officers, but lawmakers have been unable to compromise over so-called “qualified immunity,” a federal doctrine established in 1967 by the Supreme Court that protects officials—including law enforcement officers—from personal liability for much of their behavior while they execute their professional duties. Members of both parties, though, say a deal on the measure is in sight.

Today we learned that the Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., has recently called together a special grand jury to hear a number of cases, including whether to indict former President Trump, other people in charge of running his company, or the Trump Organization itself. That a grand jury is considering whether a former president committed a crime is unprecedented.

It also suggests that Vance believes there is evidence of a crime. There appears to be a focus on whether the Trump Organization manipulated the value of real estate to make it seem more valuable when trying to get loans against it, and less valuable when listing it for tax valuations. Investigators are also looking at compensation for Trump Organization executives.

Vance began to investigate in 2018 after Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to making hush-money payments for Trump and to lying to Congress.

The former president also responded today to a lawsuit filed by Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who in March filed a lawsuit against Trump; Donald Trump, Jr.; Alabama Representative Mo Brooks; and Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani for inciting the insurrection of January 6. Trump’s lawyers asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that the president has “absolute immunity conveyed on the President by the Constitution as a key principle of separation of powers.” The memo is the usual political attack we have come to expect from Trump, but it’s interesting: his claim that he enjoys absolute immunity leaves the rest of the defendants out in the cold.

On January 22, just two days after President Biden took office, Lincoln Project founder George Conway published a piece in the Washington Post noting that Trump’s frantic efforts to stay in office might well have been “a desperate fear of criminal indictment.” Trump needed the protection of the presidency to avoid the fallout from his connections with Russia; the Ukraine scandal; and bank, insurance, and tax fraud. Conway noted that refusing to prosecute ex-presidents would undermine the rule of law because it would place them above the law: they could do whatever they wished as president—including trying to overthrow our democracy—knowing they would never answer for it.

Trump, of course, has refused to admit he lost the 2020 election. Today, he issued a statement suggesting that all potential prosecution of him would be political, saying that he was “far in the lead for the Republican Presidential Primary and the General Election in 2024.”

Trump’s memo also suggested he had a First Amendment right to say whatever he wished about the 2020 election, but in January, criminal law professor Joseph Kennedy of the University of North Carolina School of Law pointed out that while Trump’s speech might have been protected, he had a legal duty to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, a duty that meant he should have immediately told his supporters to stop what they were doing on January 6. His supporters breached the Capitol shortly after 2:00 p.m., and he did not ask them to leave until 4:17, in a video that was itself incendiary.

Meanwhile, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2021 at 6:34 pm

Capitalism Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

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Zachary Karabell, author of Inside Money: Brown Brothers Harriman and the American Way of Power (from which this article seems to be taken), writes in the Atlantic:

When is enough enough? This simple, vital question—How much monetary gain does a person or a company need in order to feel satisfied?—has little place in the finance industry or in contemporary capitalism more broadly. The capitalism that has become dominant in the years since the 1980s is not about enough; it’s about more, and no amount of more is ever enough.

For many of its critics, capitalism, in all its versions, is a maximizer of more. The relentless pursuit of profit, the drive to multiply shareholder value that undergirds most large public companies, and the demand that revenue grow faster than the overall economy or the population—all of these impulses prevail on Main Street, on Wall Street, and in Silicon Valley. This is one reason why such an enormous gulf has opened up between the richest Americans and the rest, and why large banks, behemoth energy companies, multinational industrials, huge private-equity firms, and large tech companies have flourished.

But today’s paramount form of capitalism is not the only possible variant, nor was the volatile, boom-and-bust, panic-prone one that prevailed for most of two centuries through the Great Depression. An alternative form of capitalism placed a higher value on social stability than on the pursuit of more. Exemplifying that approach—one that embraced a less rapacious culture of enough—is the oldest bank still in business in the United States today: Brown Brothers Harriman. For 220 years, the company has tried to make reliable returns through a clear-eyed management of risk—not the avoidance of all potential downsides but a healthy recognition that, when it closed its ledgers each night, it needed to be prepared for the world to change the next day. Beyond limiting their own risk, the leaders of Brown Brothers believed—as I show in my new book—that domestic discord and global instability were to be avoided if possible and planned for if not, and they understood that the ebbs and flows of money could either boost the fortunes of all or beggar the nation.

The company’s story is particularly important now, as the United States tries to define post-pandemic capitalism amid widespread suspicion that the system is failing many Americans. Brown Brothers was one of a handful of banks at the apex of the system for much of the 19th and into the mid-20th century, and it is far older than the financial firms, such as Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and Morgan Stanley, that became famous (or infamous) in recent decades.

Starting with its founder, Alexander Brown, an Irish linen merchant who made his way to Baltimore in 1800 fleeing the sectarian violence of Belfast, and then run by his four sons, the firm was a creator of our system of paper money; the company issued letters of credit that were trusted more than even the U.S. dollar until well after the Civil War. To its eternal discredit, Brown Brothers was, like many northern businesses, deeply enmeshed in the antebellum cotton trade—a role for which the company now apologizes—though its partners were founding members of the antislavery Republican Party.

For much of the 19th century, the firm almost single-handedly managed the foreign-exchange system between the British pound and the U.S. dollar until the dollar became the world’s currency after World War II. It also underwrote the first railroad (the Baltimore & Ohio), created the first traveler’s checks, established one of the first modern wealth-management businesses, funded businesses as varied as The Nation and Time and Newsweek and CBS and Pan American World Airways and the first steamships, and then eventually sent a triad of partners—the future ambassador Averell Harriman, future Defense Secretary Robert Lovett, and future senator Prescott Bush (yes, from that Bush family)—into the highest levels of government. The three were exemplars of their class, a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite that proceeded to shape the entire postwar global system of the United Nations, the precursor to the World Trade Organization, the dollar-denominated currency system established at Bretton Woods in 1944, the national-security establishment in Washington, the Marshall Plan aid to Europe, and American military preparations during the Cold War.

Like American history writ large, the company’s legacy was messy. In the 1850s, the renowned preacher Henry Ward Beecher repeatedly cited Brown Brothers in his sermons denouncing American materialism. Just as it was complicit in slavery, the firm was entangled in the rise of American imperialism in Latin America. In the 20th century, it spurred U.S. military intervention in Central America when it appealed to President William Howard Taft to send Marines to Nicaragua so that the bonds the firm held would be paid back. Still, in the 1940s and ’50s, Harriman and Lovett were featured on the cover of national magazines as heroes who had elevated the United States to a position of global power and as stewards of the postwar international system that they helped design.

Brown Brothers was the epitome of an elite that saw itself as bound to lead, and whose public service represented a form of noblesse oblige. Altruism wasn’t the driver. It was rather a specific sense that they and their class could not ultimately thrive unless the commons thrived as well. They had attended schools such as Groton and Yale that inculcated ideas such as “To reign is to serve.” That ethos coalesced into a more coherent governing creed of “the Establishment,” which explains in part the rules-based, American-led order that followed World War II. It was an order meant to preserve capitalism against communism, to spread the gospel of wealth globally, and to allow the United States and the dollar to thrive, which would lead to the worldwide efflorescence of the middle class and so redound to the benefit of American capital and American companies.

But mention Brown Brothers today, and most Americans will shrug. Even in the financial world, the name evokes a response of

Continue reading.

The problem with modern capitalism — “hypercaptialism” — is that the imperative of “more” must fail in a finite world (such as the world in which we find ourselves). Recognizing and respecting natural limits and moral demands is an approach of measured moderation that will be longer lasting and not so disaster prone. It does require a certain humility, which modern capitalists totally lack.

Written by Leisureguy

25 May 2021 at 1:06 pm

Belarus tests international authoritarianism

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

On Sunday, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus forced a commercial airliner, operated by Ryanair, flying from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania, out of the sky as it passed through the airspace over Belarus. A MiG-29 fighter jet diverted the plane to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, after ground support warned its pilots (falsely) there was a bomb on board.

There wasn’t a bomb on the plane; there was an opposition journalist, 26-year-old Roman Protasevich (also spelled Raman Pratasevich), who was traveling with his girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, who is a law student and a Russian citizen. Once the plane was on the ground, security forces took the two of them away. Pratasevich told another passenger: “I am facing the death penalty.” Three other passengers also stayed in Minsk; Lithuanian authorities are trying to figure out who they were.

Lukashenko, who has been called “Europe’s Last Dictator,” has been president of Belarus since 1994 and claimed to be reelected on August 9, 2020, with 80% of the vote, although before the election the president’s security forces threw journalists, political opponents, activists, and human rights defenders in jail. After the election, security forces arrested almost 7000 people in four days, denying many food and water and torturing hundreds of them. By mid-November, the number arrested had climbed to more than 25,000 people.

The European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom did not recognize Lukashenko’s claim of an election victory. They called for an end to the political prosecutions and a new election.

In Belarus, which has a population of about 9.5 million, hundreds of thousands of protesters were more direct. They took to the streets, calling for new elections and Lukashenko’s resignation. Protasevich was not in the country. He had begun protesting Lukashenko as a teenager; he was arrested and beaten in 2012 when he was 17 for running opposition groups on social media. He fled Belarus in 2019 and, from exile, was one of the journalists who operated a communications channel to provide information about the democratic movement during the demonstrations. The government declared him a “terrorist” in absentia. Terrorism carries the death penalty in Belarus.

To capture Protasevich, Lukashenko has committed an act of state-sponsored piracy against two European Union countries, a European-registered airline, and passengers who are mostly European Union citizens. This is an astonishing move that likely has something to do with Lukashenko’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian officials praised the hijacking, calling it a “brilliant special operation.”

Russia and Belarus loosely agreed to form a unified state in 1996 and made the agreement tighter in 1999, but Lukashenko has not been eager to give up control of his country. As his grip on his people has weakened, though, Lukashenko has turned to Russia, which gave Belarus a loan of $1 billion in December 2020. Lukasheko and Putin are scheduled to meet this week.

Anne Applebaum of The Atlantic, an authoritative scholar of authoritarianism, notes that autocrats are watching to see how the West reacts, since they, too, would like to be able to control their dissident communities in exile, showing them: “You are not safe. You are never safe. Not even if you live in a democracy; not even if you have political asylum; not even if you are sitting on a commercial plane, thousands of feet above the ground.”

Immediately after the hijacking, Western leaders, including the secretary-general of NATO, the president of the European Commission, and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken,  . . .

Continue reading.

And at the end, she notes emergence of the authoritarian mentality in the US:

In separate news, we also learned that a security unit in the Commerce Department turned into a rogue counterintelligence operation over the past few years, collecting information on hundreds of people suspected of talking critically about the 2020 U.S. census or of having ties to China. John Costello, who was a deputy assistant secretary of intelligence and security in the department during the Trump administration, told Washington Post reporter Shawn Boburg that the office “has been allowed to operate far outside the bounds of federal law enforcement norms and has created an environment of paranoia and retaliation.” The unit seems to have become a tool to target employees of Chinese descent.

When they took over, Biden officials ordered the unit to stop all activities until further review.

A new Gallup poll today finds that 53% of Republicans think that Trump won the 2020 election. But only 26% of Americans identify as Republicans. Journalist Richard Hine crunched the numbers and notes that those percentages boil down to about 14% of Americans who think Trump is still president. They are a minority, but they believe the former president, who continues to insist that he won the 2020 election despite all evidence to the contrary.

Read the whole thing. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

25 May 2021 at 12:57 pm

These corporations broke the commitments they made after January 6

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Judd Legum reports in Popular Information:

It’s been nearly five months since the attack on the United States Capitol. But in many respects, nothing has changed.

None of the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election on January 6 — fueling the lie that motivated the attack — have expressed contrition or remorse. Several have attempted to recast the riot as a peaceful protest. This month, Congressman Andrew Clyde (R-GA) compared the events of that day to a “normal tourist visit” to the Capitol and Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said the Department of Justice, which has filed criminal charges against more than 400 people, was “harassing peaceful patriots.”

Last Wednesday, of the 139 Republican members of the House who objected to the certification of the Electoral College, all but six voted against the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack.

In January, hundreds of corporations announced they were suspending PAC donations to the Republican objectors or all members of Congress. These corporations — explicitly or implicitly — recognized that the Republican members who voter against certification bore some responsibility for the violence.

Since then, most of these corporations have kept their promises. But others have not.

There are hundreds of corporations, each making a slightly different commitment after January 6. And there are a variety of ways the campaign finance system allows corporations to funnel money to campaigns. Each month a flood of campaign finance records are reported to the FEC. The most recent data dump came last Thursday.

But Popular Information has been keeping a close eye on the issue. This is a breakdown of companies that have broken the letter or spirit of their post-January 6 commitments. . .

Continue reading. There’s lots more.

Written by Leisureguy

24 May 2021 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Business, Congress, Election, GOP, Politics

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America’s Final Descent Into a Failed State

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In Medium Umair Haque lays out a future for the US:

By now, the contours of what look like a strategy are emerging. A strategy to take revenge on American democracy — this time, successfully. The five elements of this strategy — it’s the GOP’s, of course — go something like this.

One, put in place as party leaders those who’ve basically sworn allegiance to Trump, his movement, and his aims, which seem to be the violent overthrow of American democracy. Two, have them propound the Big Lie that the election was stolen. Three, at the state level, restrict voting rights as severely as possible. Four, elevate a new generation of fanatics and radicals — who openly bask in violence, like Marjorie Taylor Greene — to prominence. And five, of course, block any attempt to investigate the coup on Jan 6th.

All of that adds up to a nightmare scenario, come the next election. This fivefold strategy gives the GOP options. Options of the kind it shouldn’t have. To overthrow American democracy in any number of ways.

Let’s consider a few.

One: the Republicans take the house, and refuse to certify the President, if he or she’s a Democrat. What happens then? Constitutional crisis — of the most severe kind. It ends up at the Supreme Court — which, of course, leans heavily, heavily Republican.

Two: the Republicans lose the election — and attempt another coup. Only this time, they’re successful — remember, last time, America got lucky, and it was a minor miracle political leaders weren’t assassinated, which was the explicit goal of the coup. But this time, Republicans do manage to block vote certification through outright violence. What happens then? Chaos does. The GOP claims they’re the “true” winners — and America’s left in a twilight zone.

Three: the many, many ways the Republicans are attacking voting at the state level pay off. Through a combination of gerrymandering, sympathetic officials who are fanatics, restrictions, and “fraudits,” the Republicans manage to swing the election their way — by simply hacking away at the most basic mechanisms of democracy.

I could go on, but the point is this. Trump may seem “gone” — for now — but American democracy is in grave danger. It may be in more danger now than during the Trump years, in fact. Why is that?

Because what all the above means is that the GOP has radicalized. They have made three significant choices, in the last few months, as an institution, as a set of people, as a social group. One, they have doubled down on the idea that if democracy doesn’t serve their ascendance to power, then it’s OK to do away with democracy. Two, they’ve doubled down on the idea that violence is a perfectly acceptable means to take power. Three, they’ve decided that  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

24 May 2021 at 2:10 pm

The Texas Mask Mystery

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“Who was that masked man?”‘

“I don’t know, but it sure as hell wasn’t Gov. Abbot.”

Derek Thompson writes in the Atlantic:

In early march, Texas became the first state to abolish its mask mandate and lift capacity constraints for all businesses. Conservatives hailed Governor Greg Abbott’s decision, while liberals predicted doom and death and President Joe Biden disparaged it as “Neanderthal thinking.”

Nine weeks later, the result seems to be less than catastrophic. In fact, in a new paper, economists at Bentley University and San Diego State University found that Abbott’s order had practically no effect on COVID-19 cases. “The predictions of reopening advocates and opponents failed to materialize,” the authors concluded.

How could a policy so consequential—or at least so publicly contested—do so little?

One possible interpretation is that lifting mandates did almost nothing because masks in particular do almost nothing. This viewpoint enjoys widespread popularity among conservative outlets such as Fox News, and is likely behind Abbott’s more aggressive decision to ban mask mandates in Texas.

This explanation has a few holes. Plenty of evidence suggests that masks almost certainly do something, even if they’re not perfect. Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for instance, found that masks “limit both exhalation and inhalation of infectious virus” and that universal masking “can help reduce transmission.” A meta-analysis in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “places and time periods where mask usage is required or widespread have shown substantially lower community transmission.” And several analyses published in Nature reported that surgical masks and unvented KN95 respirators reduce particle emission by up to 90 percent.

A subtler possibility is that Abbott’s decision didn’t matter very much because other factors—such as weather, accelerating vaccinations, and a bit of luck—mattered more at the time. The coronavirus seems to spread less efficiently in hot and humid environments, which could partly explain why states such as Texas and Florida have managed to avoid higher-than-average COVID-19 deaths, despite their governors’ famous aversion to restrictions. Add this to the pace of vaccinations in March, and it’s possible that Abbott just got lucky, by lifting restrictions at a time when cases were destined to decline, no matter what.

Yet another explanation is that Abbott’s decision didn’t matter because nobody changed their behavior. According to the aforementioned Texas paper, Abbot’s decision had no effect on employment, movement throughout the state, or foot traffic to retailers. It had no effect in either liberal or conservative counties, nor in urban or exurban areas. The pro-maskers kept their masks on their faces. The anti-maskers kept their masks in the garbage. And many essential workers, who never felt like they had a choice to begin with, continued their pre-announcement habits.The governor might as well have shouted into a void.

Across the country, in fact, people’s pandemic behavior appears to be disconnected from local policy, which complicates any effort to know which COVID-19 policies actually work.

In November, for instance . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2021 at 3:38 pm

“I watched the GOP’s Arizona election audit. It was worse than you think.”

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Jennifer Morrell, a former local election official and national expert on post-election audits, writes in the Washington Post:

When Arizona’s secretary of state asked me if I would serve as an observer of the Arizona Senate’s audit of Maricopa County’s ballots, I expected to see some unusual things. Post-election audits and recounts are almost always conducted under the authority of local election officials, who have years of knowledge and experience. The idea of a government handing over control of ballots to an outside group, as the state Senate did when hiring a Florida contractor with no elections experience, was bizarre. This firm, Cyber Ninjas, insisted that it would recount and examine all 2.1 million ballots cast in the county in the 2020 general election.

So I figured it would be unconventional. But it was so much worse than that. In more than a decade working on elections, audits and recounts across the country, I’ve never seen one this mismanaged.

[I counted votes in Michigan. There’s no way to commit fraud.]

I arrived at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the morning of May 4. Security was conspicuously high: At three stations, guards checked my ID and my letter from the secretary of state. No bags were permitted on the floor, and I had to surrender my phone, laptop and smartwatch. I was allowed a yellow legal pad and red pen to take notes, and provided with a pink T-shirt to wear so I would be immediately identifiable. The audit observers hired by Cyber Ninjas, in orange T-shirts, followed me wherever I went and reported random things about me they found suspicious, like that my foot had crossed the tape perimeter separating the work and observation areas. Several times someone asked to test my pen, to ensure it really had red ink. Once, they even demanded that I empty my pockets, in which I carried that pen and a pair of reading glasses. I was allowed to ask only procedural questions of the Cyber Ninjas attorney; I couldn’t talk to anyone else performing the work. The atmosphere was tense.

I was stunned to see spinning conveyor wheels, whizzing hundreds of ballots past “counters,” who struggled to mark, on a tally sheet, each voter’s selection for the presidential and Senate races. They had only a few seconds to record what they saw. Occasionally, I saw a counter look up, realize they missed a ballot and then grab the wheel to stop it. This process sets them up to make so many mistakes, I kept thinking. Humans are terrible at tedious, repetitive tasks; we’re especially bad at counting. That’s why, in all the other audits I’ve seen, bipartisan teams follow a tallying method that allows for careful review and inspection of each ballot, followed by a verification process. I’d never seen an audit use contraptions to speed things up.

Speed doesn’t necessarily pose a problem if the audit has a process for catching and correcting mistakes. But it didn’t. Each table had three volunteers tallying the ballots, and their tally sheets were considered “done” as long as two of the three tallies matched, and the third was off by no more than two ballots. The volunteers recounted only if their tally sheets had three or more errors — a threshold they stuck to, no matter how many ballots a stack contained, whether 50 or 100. This allowed for a shocking amount of error. Some table managers told the counters to recount when there were too many errors; other table managers just instructed the counters to fix their “math mistakes.” At no point did anyone track how many ballots they were processing at their station, to ensure that none got added or lost during handling.

I also observed other auditors working on a “forensic paper audit,” flagging ballots as “suspicious” for a variety of reasons. One was presidential selection: If someone thought the voter’s choice looked as though it had been marked by a machine, they flagged it as “anomalous.” Another was “missing security markers.” (It’s virtually impossible for a ballot to be missing its security markers, since voting equipment is designed to reject ballots without them.) The third was paper weight — the forensics tables had scales for weighing ballots, though I never saw anyone use them — and texture. Volunteers scrutinized ballots for, of all things, bamboo fibers. Only later, after the shift, did I learn that this was connected to groundless speculation that fake ballots had been flown in from South Korea.

The fourth reason was folding. The auditors reasoned that only absentee voters would fold their ballots; an in-person, Election Day voter would take a flat ballot, mark it in the booth and submit it, perfectly pristine. I almost had to laugh: In my experience, voters will fold ballots every which way, no matter where they vote or what the ballot instructs them to do. Chalk it up to privacy concerns or individual quirks — but no experienced elections official would call that suspicious.

At one point, I overheard some volunteers excitedly discussing a stain on a ballot. “It looks like a Cheeto finger,” one said. “Like someone’s touched it with cheese dust!” That had to be suspicious, their teammate agreed. Why would someone come to the polls with cheese powder on their hands? But I’ve seen ballots stained with almost anything you can imagine, including coffee, grease and, yes, cheese powder. Again, when you have experience working with hundreds of thousands of ballots, you see some messes: That’s evidence of humanity’s idiosyncrasies, not foul play.

Their equipment worried me more than their wild theorizing. At the forensics tables, auditors took a photo of each ballot using a camera suspended by a frame, then passed the ballot to someone operating a lightbox with four microscope cameras attached. This was a huge deviation from the norm. Usually, all equipment that election officials use to handle a ballot — from creating to scanning to tallying it — has been federally tested and certified; often, states will conduct further tests before their jurisdictions accept the machines. It jarred me to . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2021 at 8:06 am

America is in deep trouble: QAnon is spreading in churches. These pastors are trying to stop it

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Written by Leisureguy

21 May 2021 at 5:46 pm

Polarization is Destroying America

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Michael A. Cohen describes the elephant destroying the room:

Most close observers of modern American politics would agree that we are living in an era of extreme partisan polarization. The political divides between the two parties have seemingly never been greater.

But if polarization is well understood, its impact is gravely underestimated. Polarization is transforming American politics and American society – and bit by bit, it is doing terrible damage to the country. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to start writing about this issue in far more detail because I believe that political journalism is failing to fully grapple with this ongoing sea change in the nation’s politics. There is still a media inclination to view politics through an outdated lens – one in which persuadable voters matter, bipartisanship is still possible, lying, hypocrisy, or blatantly anti-democratic acts are disqualifying, policy outcomes move voters, and there are political rewards for addressing parochial and constituent concerns.

These factors have not disappeared, but their relevance to modern politics is waning. Instead, we’ve reached a political inflection point in which the primary factor in determining voter preferences is whether there is a “D” or an “R” next to a candidate’s name.

Split ticket voting has largely disappeared. In 2009, there were 13 Democratic senators in states won by John McCain. Today, there are 3 Democratic senators in states won by Donald Trump in 2020. In 2009, there were 10 Republican senators in states Obama won. Now there are 3 Republican senators in states where Biden prevailed. In the House of Representatives, a mere 16 members represent districts won by the other party’s presidential nominee. In 2009, that number was 83.

The result of this divvying up by party identification is that most members of Congress run for reelection in districts that are not competitive, and the key to victory comes down to a candidate’s effectiveness in mobilizing the segment of the electorate likeliest to vote for them. For most Republican candidates, the greatest challenge to their political future is not losing to a Democrat but instead being felled in a primary by a more conservative Republican. The same is increasingly true of Democrats. For example, in the Senate, every Democratic candidate up for reelection in 2022 is running in a state won by Joe Biden. This makes the vast majority of Senate Democrats much more inclined to follow the national party – a phenomenon we’ve seen play out in today’s narrowly divided Senate.

For Republican politicians, outreach to Democrats or the shrinking number of swing voters runs the risk of alienating Trump Republicans. As we saw in Senate races across the country in 2020, Republican candidates, when given the choice between upsetting their Trump-supporting base or moderating their positions to expand their political support, overwhelmingly chose the former. And for those running in red states, it ended up being the smart move – they all handily won reelection.

As these dividing lines between the two parties become more sharply defined – and it becomes more difficult to move voters away from their partisan homes – there is little inclination for members of either party to compromise, work across the aisle, or seek bipartisan agreement. Party loyalty trumps all other considerations.

The SALT Fight

One recent example of this phenomenon is the fight in Congress over the state and local tax deduction. Last month, House Democrats from some of the wealthiest districts in America delivered an ultimatum to President Biden – lift the cap on state and local tax deductions (SALT), that was part of the 2017 Trump tax cuts or lose their vote on the tax bill that would pay for Biden’s more than $3 trillion infrastructure bill. With the party’s ultra-slim majority in the House, the defection of a mere handful of Democrats could doom Biden’s legislative efforts.

On the surface, this looks like a classic parochial concern and a clear demonstration of how local issues drive federal legislating. But this drama is playing out in a very different political world – one in which the SALT deduction is not a political bargaining chip to negotiate an agreement between members of Congress from different parties or different regions, but rather a blunt political tool that a handful of Democrats can use to hold their party hostage. The SALT deduction is an issue that affects both Democratic and Republican members of Congress. Indeed, in 2017 more than a dozen House Republicans did not vote for the Trump tax bill because the legislation capped the SALT deduction. (Conversely, Republicans included it in the legislation because they knew it would hurt Democrats).

Those Republicans in California, the Northeast, and the affluent suburbs of Illinois and Virginia, where capping the SALT deduction can cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in higher taxes, who did vote for the bill were wiped out. According to an analysis from the Tax Policy Center, “the largest shift towards Democratic house candidates occurred in the 20 percent of counties with the greatest percentage of tax filers taking the SALT deduction.”

Ironically, taking the opposite position on SALT didn’t do much to help either. On the twelve GOP members who went against their party and voted to protect their constituents from tax increases, five lost reelection, and two retired. Once again, partisan loyalty trumped parochialism, even for voters.

Today, the SALT fight is being fought almost exclusively within the Democratic Party. For the vast majority of Republicans, the political imperative of opposing Democratic bills and a Democratic president dwarfs all other political considerations.

This new reality makes bipartisan legislation  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Later in the article:

In more than a dozen red states, recalcitrant Republican state legislators continue to refuse to accept billions of dollars in federal dollars to expand Medicaid. Doing so is not only depriving 4 million people in these states access to health insurance; it costs money because states still need to provide emergency coverage for the uninsured. Study after study has shown that Medicaid expansion is a financial winner for states – and that’s not even to mention the longer, healthier lives of those who receive coverage.

In Missouri, last Fall, a ballot initiative passed to expand Medicaid, but last month the Republican-dominated state legislature balked at allocating the money. Their rationale was that it would bust the state’s budget. Keep in mind, the federal government pays 90% of the bill for those who received care under Medicaid expansion, and Missouri currently has a budget surplus. In addition, the recently passed American Rescue Plan allocates another 5% of the costs for states that expand coverage.

But none of that matters because Medicaid expansion is associated with Obamacare, and Republicans don’t want to be on the record supporting any aspect of that legislation.

Written by Leisureguy

21 May 2021 at 11:39 am

In a Small Town, a Battle for Racial Justice Confronts a Bloody Past and an Uncertain Future

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Here’s another report that makes it hard to understand why many people (white people, it should be noted) believe that the US is free of racism. Carli Brosseau of The News & Observer (Charlotte, NC) reports in ProPublica. The report includes a 20-minute video documentary that’s also worth watching. The report begins:

One afternoon in mid-July, hundreds of people gathered around a stage in front of the historic gray stone courthouse at the heart of the small town of Graham, North Carolina. They were listening to a song of protest.

“We don’t want to die,” a local musician sang out to the diverse crowd.

The group wanted the removal of a marble statue of a Confederate soldier that had stood watch over the town square since white citizens of Alamance County erected it in 1914. But protesters in this central North Carolina county seat were seeking much more.

“We don’t want to die no more,” the man belted out again.

Across the street from the monument, dozens of people, most of them white, lined the manicured edge of a small park. They waved Confederate battle flags. Some wore T-shirts purchased at a local motorcycle shop that sells patches with Nazi symbols and KKK “life member” insignia. The shirts bore a picture of the town’s Johnny Reb statue with the words “I ain’t coming down.”

A brass bell that once tolled from the roof of the original courthouse, built before the Civil War and demolished in the 1920s, sat at the center of the park. A man in the crowd had seized control of it, heaving its clapper over and over against the bell’s lip to drown out the protesters.

The singer and his audience did their best to ignore the noise. “We don’t want to die no more,” he sang out again. The bell ringer looked around. Nobody, including nearby law enforcement officers, tried to stop him. He picked up his pace. The singer continued, “That’s why we on a riot.”

For many protesters, the statue symbolized the deep injustices that continue to plague America: the police and vigilante violence that killed George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others; the criminal, voting and nuisance laws that appear to invariably favor white people; the backlash that seems to follow every small gain in Black political power.

Their demonstration, the first of its kind here in living memory, signaled that a vocal demand for change was rising in Alamance County, a place where the civil rights movement never flourished. Even with the surging national momentum of Black Lives Matter, the protesters knew the odds of change were steep. Black people still endured racial slurs in the town square and grocery stores. The governing boards of the city and county were all-white and had been that way, with brief exceptions, for a century and a half. Many Black people feared even going downtown.

Alamance County offers a rare view into the fight for racial justice in small-town America. With its long history of violently suppressing Black political action, it is an especially bitter battlefield in the national conflict over race, police and power. Locals seeking change launched a stubborn rebellion after Floyd’s death, bound together by grief and a sense of profound unfairness. Law enforcement cracked down, sending dozens to jail. People calling themselves Confederates backed the status quo, and some grew increasingly radical.

A raucous and diverse coalition of church leaders, longtime activists and newfound converts collided with the most visible representative of the local power structure: Sheriff Terry Johnson. A tireless political operator, Johnson had served as the county’s top law enforcement official since first being elected in 2002. So dominating was his presence that supporters and opponents alike refer to Graham as “Terry’s Town.”

Johnson first banned demonstrations on courthouse grounds, but a federal judge ruled against him in early August. Switching tactics, the 71-year-old sheriff kept the heat on by outfitting his deputies in military gear and repeatedly arresting protesters for minor infractions. His actions delighted his base of voters, who like to describe Alamance as North Carolina’s last bastion of conservatism, a place where “Southern heritage” has yet to be diluted by outsiders. And he inspired the Confederates, who saw in him their truest defender.

Since Floyd’s death in Minneapolis last May, Johnson and his deputies have jailed scores of protesters. A judge and a prosecutor deemed some of the charges unconstitutional. Deputies arrested a woman at one protest for swearing after they tackled her husband. At another, they arrested a man for impeding traffic by standing on a curb with a sign held aloft. Charges against both were dropped.

Civil rights groups criticized Johnson for overly aggressive police tactics. Deputies body-slammed one man after he called them “pigs” while leaving a county commissioners meeting. Grandparents and young children were choked by clouds of pepper vapor during a preelection march to the polls.

In an interview in March, Johnson said his approach was necessary to keep order. He pulled out a copy of the oath he took when he became sheriff and read it aloud:

“I, Terry Steven Johnson, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina, and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; and that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, to the best of my knowledge and ability; so help me God.”

Personal politics or racism play no role in his decisions, he said: “I have no preference for anything except following the law.”

But the law hasn’t always protected Black people in Alamance County. Ku Klux Klan chapters that formed there after the Civil War were infamous for extreme violence, including the lynching of the county’s foremost Black leader in 1870. In the 1920s, the governor sent members of the state militia to Graham to stop a lynching, but the ensuing shootout left a bystander dead. A month later, a masked mob kidnapped a Black man and shot him to death.

In the 1960s, locals vigorously protested school integration. At a rally of 500 parents in 1968, a clergyman invited the ultraconservative John Birch Society and the Ku Klux Klan to join his group’s campaign against the federal government’s school desegregation plan. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit alleging that the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office had racially profiled Latinos. Johnson fought the charges and won in district court, settling only after federal officials filed an appeal.

In recent years, . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

19 May 2021 at 3:47 pm

In Texas, Local Governments Must Toe the Line

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Kevin Drum has (as usual) a good post:

Republicans are always droning on about the importance of local control, but their dedication to the cause always seems to waver as soon the locals start doing something they don’t like:

Most government authorities in Texas will soon be prohibited from requiring people to wear masks, Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Tuesday….The executive order Mr. Abbott announced on Tuesday would prevent counties, cities, public health authorities and local government officials from requiring people to wear masks beginning on Friday. Violators could be fined $1,000.

So much for local governments being closer to their people and understanding their needs better than the one-size-fits-all bureaucrats back in the capital. But that was all just a sham from the beginning anyway, wasn’t it?

Written by Leisureguy

19 May 2021 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government

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The headline fight: New jobs vs. GOP craziness

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

Today President Joe Biden traveled to Dearborn, Michigan, to sell his $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan. Visiting Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, he tested an electric version of the classic F-150 pickup and urged Americans to use the race to dominate the market in electric vehicles as a way to create jobs. The American Jobs Plan provides $174 billion to switch the nation’s car industry away from fossil fuels and toward renewables, and Ford’s electric F-150 could help sell the idea.

Union leaders support the idea of constructing the nation’s new electric fleet despite their concern that the new vehicles need less human labor than vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. (Ford says that building the new electric truck—the Lightning—will add jobs.) But Republican lawmakers, especially those whose states produce oil, remain skeptical.

Biden is quietly and deliberately trying to rebuild the American economy, which has been gutted in the years since 1981. Yesterday, he announced that the Treasury would deposit the benefits of the child tax credit, expanded in the American Rescue Plan Congress passed in March shortly after Biden took office, directly into people’s bank accounts on the 15th of every month, beginning in July. The child tax credit will amount to at least $250 per child every month, up to an annual amount of up to a maximum of $3600 per child. About 90% of all families with kids—about 39 million of them—will receive the money; the program is expected to cut child poverty in half. It is a tax cut, but one that benefits ordinary Americans.

Biden appears to be gambling that restoring the economy and rebuilding the middle class will weaken Trump’s hold on the dispossessed voters who cling to his racist nationalism out of anger at being left behind in today’s economy. He gives the impression of a president who is above the fray, simply trying to do what’s best for the nation.

But it seems hard for him to get media attention as the Republicans continue to make more dramatic news.

Today’s headlines were dominated by the fight in Congress over a commission to investigate the events surrounding the January 6 insurrection. Last week, Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, and John Katko (R-NY), the top Republican on the committee, hammered out a deal to create an independent commission patterned on the one that investigated the 9/11 attack. Katko was one of the ten Republican representatives who voted to impeach Trump after the January 6 insurrection.

According to Politico, McCarthy authorized Katko to negotiate and gave him a list of demands, including equal representation for Republicans and Democrats on the committee, power for both parties to subpoena witnesses, and a final report before the end of the year so it wouldn’t still be active before the 2022 election.

Thompson conceded these three big points to the Republicans. And then, this morning, McCarthy came out against the deal. “Given the political misdirections that have marred this process, given the now duplicative and potentially counterproductive nature of this effort, and given the Speaker’s shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation,” he said.

Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) has repeatedly called for McCarthy to be subpoenaed to testify about his contact with Trump around the time of the insurrection, and Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) says that McCarthy dismissed him when Kinzinger warned before January 6 that the party’s rhetoric would cause violence.

“McCarthy won’t take yes for an answer,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said. “He made three requests—every single one was granted by Democrats, yet he still says no.” A senior Republican House aide told Politico: “I think Kevin was hoping that the Democrats would never agree to our requests—that way the commission would be partisan and we can all vote no and say it’s a sham operation…. Because he knows Trump is going to lose his mind” over the commission.

Indeed Trump later weighed in, saying the deal was a “Democrat trap.” This afternoon, in yet another illustration of how determined House leadership is to protect the former president, it began “whipping” House Republicans—that is, trying to get them to hold the party line— to oppose the creation of the commission. Nonetheless, Politico reported tonight that dozens of Republicans are considering supporting the commission despite how much it would infuriate Trump, because it would provide them political cover in 2022.

The measure will come to the floor of the House on Wednesday and should pass. The real question will be how it fares in the Senate, where seven Republican senators voted to convict Trump of inciting an insurrection in January. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), who voted to acquit the former president, told Sahil Kapur of NPR News that he wanted a bipartisan commission that would focus on January 6. “We clearly had an insurrection on that particular day, and I don’t want it to be swept under any rug,” he said.

While Republicans try to avoid a reckoning over January 6, there are signs that the hold of Trump loyalists is weakening. Yesterday, the Maricopa County, Arizona, Board of Supervisors sent a spectacular letter to Karen Fann, the president of the Arizona Senate that authorized the “audit” of the ballots cast in Maricopa County by the private company Cyber Ninjas. The 14-page letter tore apart the entire project, pointing out that the Cyber Ninjas are utterly ignorant of election procedures.

It is a devastating take down, saying, for example: “You have rented . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 May 2021 at 10:04 am

Fox News, Republicans, and the Destruction of Democracy

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That is from this post by Kevin Drum, which is worth reading. The post concludes with:

Correlation is not causation blah blah blah. By itself, this isn’t proof of the baneful effects of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. However, there’s plenty of other evidence and this is one more straw on the camel’s back. Fox News is responsible more than any other single entity for the destruction of American politics over the past two decades.

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

18 May 2021 at 3:24 pm

The attack on American foundational principles

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Heather Cox Richardson writes:

I wanted to note that on this day in 1954, the Supreme Court handed down the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, decision, declaring racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. A unanimous court decided that segregation denied Black children the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868 in the wake of the Civil War. Brown v. Board was a turning point in establishing the principle of racial equality in modern America.

Since the 1860s, we have recognized that equality depends upon ensuring that all Americans have a right to protect their own interests by having a say in their government.

Today, that principle is under attack.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson urged Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act to “help rid the Nation of racial discrimination in every aspect of the electoral process and thereby insure the right of all to vote.” And yet, in 2013, the Supreme Court gutted that law, and in the wake of the 2020 election in which voters gave Democrats control of the government, Republican-dominated states across the country are passing voter suppression laws.

Today, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) begged their colleagues to reinstate the Voting Rights Act. In 2006 a routine reauthorization of the law got through the Senate with a vote of 98-0; now it is not clear it can get even the ten Republican votes it will need to get through the Senate, so long as the filibuster remains intact.

But here’s the thing: Once you give up the principle of equality before the law, you have given up the whole game. You have admitted the principle that people are unequal, and that some people are better than others. Once you have replaced the principle of equality with the idea that humans are unequal, you have granted your approval to the idea of rulers and servants. At that point, all you can do is to hope that no one in power decides that you belong in one of the lesser groups.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln, then a candidate for the Senate, warned that arguments limiting American equality to white men and excluding black Americans were the same arguments “that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world…. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent.” Either people—men, in his day—were equal, or they were not.

Lincoln went on, “I should like to know if . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

18 May 2021 at 2:28 pm

History rhymes: Israel does not want outsiders to observe their actions

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Many still recall the USS Liberty incident, in which Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats attacked and attempted to sink a lightly armed US Navy technical-research ship that was in international waters. The ship was clearly flying the US flag, and there is no doubt in the minds of many that Israel deliberately attacked the vessel. Casualties included 35 killed and 171 wounded, and the ship was badly damaged.

And day before yesterday, Israeli warplanes bombed and destroyed a civilian building in Gaza, giving the residents had 1 hour to pick what possessions they wanted to keep and get out of the building. Al Jazeera reports:

Youmna al-Sayed had less than an hour to get to safety.

But with just one elevator working in al-Jalaa tower, an 11-storey building in Gaza City housing some 60 residential apartments and a number of offices, including those of Al Jazeera Media Network and The Associated Press, al-Sayed made a dash for the stairs.

“We left the elevator for the elderly and for the children to evacuate,” the Palestinian freelance journalist said. “And we were all running down the stairs and whoever could help children took them down,” she added. “I myself helped two children of the residents there and I took them downstairs – everyone was just running quickly.”

Moments earlier, the Israeli army, which has been bombarding Gaza for six straight days, had given a telephone warning that residents had just an hour to evacuate the building before its fighter jets attacked it.

Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout also had to move quickly. He and his colleagues “started to collect as much as they could, from the personal and equipment of the office – especially the cameras”, al-Kahlout said.

“Just give me 15 minutes,” an AP journalist pleaded over the phone with an Israeli intelligence officer. “We have a lot of equipment, including the cameras, other things,” he added from outside the building. “I can bring all of it out.”

Jawad Mahdi, the building’s owner, also tried to buy more time.

“All I’m asking is to let four people … to go inside and get their cameras,” he told the officer. “We respect your wishes, we will not do it if you don’t allow it, but give us 10 minutes.”

“There will be no 10 minutes,” the officer replied. “No one is allowed to enter the building, we already gave you an hour to evacuate.”

When the request was rejected, Mahdi said: “You have destroyed our life’s work, memories, life. I will hang up, do what you want. There is a God.”

The Israeli army claimed there were “military interests of the Hamas intelligence” in the building, a standard line used after bombing buildings in Gaza, and it accused the group running the territory of using journalists as human shields. However, it provided no evidence to back up its claims.

“I have been working in this office for more than 10 years and I have never seen anything [suspicious],” al-Kahlout said.

“I even asked my colleagues if they’ve seen anything suspicious and they all confirmed to me that they have never seen any military aspects or the fighters even coming in and out,” he added.

“In our building, we have lots of families that we know for more than 10 years, we meet each other every day on our way in and out to the office.”

Gary Pruitt, president and CEO of AP, also told Al Jazeera: “I can tell you that we’ve been in that building for about 15 years for our bureau. We certainly had no sense that Hamas was there.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

It strikes me that Israel did not want reporters covering the conflict in Gaza, and this was an efficient way to preventing it.

I have to say Jared Kushner’s great peace plan doesn’t seem to be working. Patrick Kingsley in the NY Times explains what led to the current outbreak of war:

 Twenty-seven days before the first rocket was fired from Gaza this week, a squad of Israeli police officers entered the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, brushed the Palestinian attendants aside and strode across its vast limestone courtyard. Then they cut the cables to the loudspeakers that broadcast prayers to the faithful from four medieval minarets.

It was the night of April 13, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It was also Memorial Day in Israel, which honors those who died fighting for the country. The Israeli president was delivering a speech at the Western Wall, a sacred Jewish site that lies below the mosque, and Israeli officials were concerned that the prayers would drown it out.

The incident was confirmed by six mosque officials, three of whom witnessed it; the Israeli police declined to comment. In the outside world, it barely registered.

But in hindsight, the police raid on the mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, was one of several actions that led, less than a month later, to the sudden resumption of war between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, and the outbreak of civil unrest between Arabs and Jews across Israel itself.

“This was the turning point,” said Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the grand mufti of Jerusalem. “Their actions would cause the situation to deteriorate.”

That deterioration has been far more devastating, far-reaching and fast-paced than anyone imagined. It has led to the worst violence between Israelis and Palestinians in years — not only in the conflict with Hamas, which has killed at least 145 people in Gaza and 12 in Israel, but in a wave of mob attacks in mixed Arab-Jewish cities in Israel.

It has spawned unrest in cities across the occupied West Bank, where Israeli forces killed 11 Palestinians on Friday. And it has resulted in the firing of rockets toward Israel from a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, prompted Jordanians to march toward Israel in protest, and led Lebanese protesters to briefly cross their southern border with Israel.

The crisis came as the Israeli government was struggling for its survival; as Hamas — which Israel views as a terrorist group — was seeking to expand its role within the Palestinian movement; and as a new generation of Palestinians was asserting its own values and goals.

And it was the outgrowth of years of blockades and restrictions in Gaza, decades of occupation in the West Bank, and decades more of discrimination against Arabs within the state of Israel, said Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli Parliament and former chairman of the World Zionist Organization.

“All the enriched uranium was already in place,” he said. “But you needed a trigger. And the trigger was the Aqsa Mosque.”

It had been seven years since the last significant conflict with Hamas, and 16 since the last major Palestinian uprising, or intifada.

There was no major unrest in Jerusalem when President Donald J. Trump recognized the city as Israel’s capital and nominally moved the United States Embassy there. There were no mass protests after four Arab countries normalized relations with Israel, abandoning a long-held consensus that they would never do so until the Palestinian-Israeli conflict had been resolved.

Two months ago, few in the Israeli military establishment were expecting anything like this.

In private briefings, military officials said the biggest threat to Israel was 1,000 miles away in Iran, or across the northern border in Lebanon.

When diplomats met in March with the two generals who oversee administrative aspects of Israeli military affairs in Gaza and the West Bank, they found the pair relaxed about the possibility of significant violence and celebrating an extended period of relative quiet, according to a senior foreign diplomat who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak freely.

Gaza was struggling to overcome a wave of coronavirus infections. Most major Palestinian political factions, including Hamas, were looking toward Palestinian legislative elections scheduled for May, the first in 15 years. And in Gaza, where the Israeli blockade has contributed to an unemployment rate of about 50 percent, Hamas’s popularity was dwindling as Palestinians spoke increasingly of the need to prioritize the economy over war.

The mood began to shift in April.

The prayers at Aqsa for the first night of Ramadan on April 13 occurred as the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, was making his speech nearby.

The mosque leadership, which is overseen by the Jordanian government, had rejected an Israeli request to avoid broadcasting prayers during the speech, viewing the request as disrespectful, a public affairs officer at the mosque said.

So that night, the police raided the mosque and disconnected the speakers.

“Without a doubt,” said Sheikh Sabri, “it was clear to us that the Israeli police wanted to desecrate the Aqsa Mosque and the holy month of Ramadan.”

A spokesman for the president denied that the speakers had been turned off, but later said they would double-check.

In another year, the episode might have been quickly forgotten.

But last month, several factors suddenly and unexpectedly aligned that allowed this slight to snowball into a major showdown.

A resurgent sense of national identity among young Palestinians found expression not only in resistance to a series of raids on Al Aqsa, but also in protesting the plight of six Palestinian families facing expulsion from their homes. The perceived need to placate an increasingly assertive far right gave Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s caretaker prime minister, little incentive to calm the waters.

A sudden Palestinian political vacuum, and a grass-roots protest that it could adopt, gave Hamas an opportunity to flex its muscles.

These shifts in the Palestinian dynamics caught Israel unawares. Israelis had been complacent, nurtured by more than a decade of far-right governments that treated Palestinian demands for equality and statehood as a problem to be contained, not resolved.

“We have to wake up,” said . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Benjamin Rosenbaum, a writer, made this comment on Facebook:

American politicians enjoy piously invoking “Israel’s right to defend itself”, and many Americans catch themselves nodding along to what seems like a commonsensical thought experiment: what if someone lobbed a missile over your borders? Surely no nation would simply ignore it! We too would pound the hell out of them!

And, yes, firing a missile over your borders is an act of war. However — never mind for a moment occupation and UN resolutions and all that other stuff that makes our heads hurt, just keeping it very simple — embargo is also an act of war. As is assassination. Somehow we always do the thought experiment “what if Canada fired a missile at us” and we never do the thought experiment “what if Canada embargoed all our ports and airports, periodically shut off our water and power supply, didn’t allow anyone to sell us food or medical supplies, didn’t allow us to leave, didn’t allow anyone to come in, and we were regularly dying for lack of medical care, and also they regularly assassinated our political leaders?”

“Israel’s right to defend itself” sounds like Israel is minding its own business (terrorizing and evicting its minorities, brutally suppressing its protesters… hey, we’ve all been there, right?) when Hamas, just trying to stir shit up, makes an unprovoked attack. This is very silly because if Hamas-controlled Gaza is a neighboring state, then Israel is constantly committing acts of war against it. Every day the ports don’t open is a day when “any other nation” would fire a rocket, right?

I am not a big fan of Hamas, people. Hamas is loud and clear that it wants to kill me (Hamas isn’t too into making fine distinctions between “the Israeli state”, “Israelis” and “Jews”). (Also there are a bunch of people I love in Israel, and it is very scary to be herded into bunkers because your prime minister is an asshole who has provoked a war, and I have a deep emotional connection to Israel as a big part of world Jewry and as the source and locus of my religion, and, sure, my people’s homeland; which is, by the way, all a bunch of emotions happening in my brain, which does not magically give me any rights to anything).

But: come on. You cannot have it both ways. If Gaza is a separate state, it is a state with which Israel is at war, all the time; and acting shocked when it fires rockets is very odd. If you are at war with a state and you want it to stop shooting at you, maybe consider making peace?

And if Gaza is not a separate state — and you have to squint pretty hard to claim that an entity that has no control of its exports, imports, water, power, free movement of people, where no one has a valid passport, etc., is a state — then it is a piece of territory Israel controls in which it is slowly strangling three quarters of a million people, and depriving them of almost all human rights. It’s one or the other.

I mean, no, dude, I don’t know how to make peace there either, the positions of the two sides are so incompatible. A younger me was full of ideas, but a younger me was partly playing into a racist and colonialist idea that clever people from the enlightened West should arrive with Solutions. So, younger me, STFU. I’m not Palestinian or Israeli; it is not my job to know what they should do. I am a human, so I know that people should stop killing each other, and also particularly the people with 95% of the weapons who are inflicting 95% of the casualties bear the responsibility for that happening. And, I am an American; so it IS my job to react to the bullshit American politicians spout. And this whole “oh noes! For Some Reason naughty Hamas is firing the rocketz! Everything was Going So Well before Why Would They Do That” is a monumental act of willful pretend ignorance.

Written by Leisureguy

17 May 2021 at 6:31 pm

Google, Deloitte, and Citigroup quietly collaborate with GOP group pushing voter suppression

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Judd Legum and Nick Surgey report at Popular Information:

Several large corporations that have recently issued public statements supporting voting rights — including Google, Deloitte, and Citigroup — are also funding and collaborating with a top Republican group advocating for new voter suppression laws. Internal documents obtained by Popular Information and Documented reveal the corporations participated in a “policy working group” on “election integrity” with the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), a party organization that is actively supporting new voter suppression bills. Participation in the roundtable required a minimum annual contribution of $15,000 to the RSLC.

For example, on March 31, Google’s SVP for Global Affairs, Kent Walker tweeted that the company is “concerned about efforts to restrict voting at a local level” and “strongly support[s] the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.”

A week later, Google’s State Policy Manager, Joe Dooley, was listed as a participant in a private RSLC policy working group led by the organization’s “Election Integrity Committee.” The April 6 presentation, obtained by Popular Information and Documented, details an array of proposals to suppress voting, including purging of voting lists, more stringent voter ID requirements, and targeting of voting centers. The RSLC also opposes any federal action to protect voting rights. The meeting was run by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R), who has embraced Trump’s lies and conspiracies about election fraud.

The RSLC presentation deck makes clear that the purpose of restricting voting under the guise of “election integrity” is to elect more Republicans. One slide asserts that Republican control of state legislatures is the “last line of defense for the Republican Party.” The RSLC argues that Republicans must act “now” because “2022 is just over the horizon — election integrity is likely to have a major impact.”  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, including charts and slides.

Written by Leisureguy

17 May 2021 at 12:53 pm

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