The Left: Robespierre did nothing wrong

Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by bricktop, Jan 17, 2017.

  1. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    Republicans are so determined to help Trump, no matter what it does to them or the nation, that they’re resisting taking any substantial efforts to improve security so that Russia doesn’t follow up on its 2016 success.

    Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) … told reporters Monday afternoon that nothing in Mueller’s report convinced him that the Senate needs to move legislation to protect U.S. elections.

    The report details how Russia spent millions conducting a military operation that encompassed every aspect of the Internet, traditional media, and boots-on-the-ground “grassroots” campaigning. That Blunt doesn’t feel that anything needs to be done about that … suggests that he’s pretty happy with the work Russia is doing for him.
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  2. JGator1

    JGator1 I'm the Michael Jordan of the industry
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    welfare for the rich
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  3. CaneKnight

    CaneKnight Well-Known Member

    I mean if Republicans actually cared about the country they’d be asking themselves why an enemy foreign government is doing everything they can to keep republicans in power. The fact that they don’t care should tell everyone how republicans actually feel about the country.
  4. Joe_Pesci

    Joe_Pesci lying dog-faced pony soldier

    :idk: isn't their arena only like 20 years old?
  5. Can I Spliff it

    Can I Spliff it Is Butterbean okay?

  6. Can I Spliff it

    Can I Spliff it Is Butterbean okay?

  7. Can I Spliff it

    Can I Spliff it Is Butterbean okay?

  8. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    from DK
    Remember, Trump beat Hillary from the working class left

    This week I’ve been hearing a lot about Joe Biden. According to some of what I’ve been hearing, the story is that Biden is the person who can beat Trump. The thinking goes that Biden is a regular working class guy who can win back some of the voters in the Midwestern states Trump won. As David Brooks puts it:

    Joe Biden has spent nearly his entire adult life in the Senate or as vice president, but no one could fairly accuse him of being haughty or elitist. People still have the instinct to call him Joe. Average Joe.

    How will Biden’s working class persona hold up under scrutiny? Can he win back voters in the Midwest that cost Clinton the election? With this in mind, let’s look at what someone might look like who can win back working class Midwestern voters and take a look at how Biden and others measure up.
    Whether you like Michael Moore or not, in July 2016 he predicted Trump would win the election and he predicted exactly how he would do itby winning Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

    The criteria he used were:

    1. Midwest math—Stance on “free” trade policies (that destroyed the Midwest)
    2. The last stand of the angry white man—There’s a lot of white men who feel endangered in the Midwest.
    3. The old way of doing things—The establishment that has been fucking things up since the ‘80s is not popular with millennials.
    4. Depressed liberals—Liberals who aren’t excited will still probably vote Democratic but won’t do much else (like volunteer or convince others to vote Democratic)
    5. The Jesse Ventura effect—This is basically when people get so angry or frustrated that they vote just to fuck things up. Sometimes it’s almost like a joke to piss others off.
    How does Biden compare against these criteria?

    1. Midwest math

    Moore claimed correctly that Trump’s strategy was to focus on the Midwest and winning working class voters. Trump did this by repeatedly hammering Clinton on her stance regarding “free” trade. He claimed that NAFTA and Clinton’s vote for NAFTA screwed working people in these states. And he said he’d slap tariffs on Mexican cars shipped back to the U.S. and iPhones built in China.

    And working people here in Ohio turned out for him.

    He turned a state that voted for Obama in 2012 red. According to Tim Burke, Hamilton County’s Democratic Party chairman:

    Democrats generally missed the boat in understanding just how deep the dissatisfaction of working class, largely white, voters was. You look around the entire Midwest at the sweep by Trump and it was, in the end, the loss of the white middle class.

    Trump was able to stick Democrats with these policies even though they were all also pushed by Republicans because he was running against a Clinton and Bill Clinton had signed NAFTA.

    Joe Biden also voted for NAFTA. His top campaign donor for 2 decades was MBNA. He voted to deregulate banks. He voted to overturn the Glass-Steagall Act.

    He comes with a lot of baggage that’s going to be an easy target for Trump supporters. One Fox pundit is already calling him “Job Killing Joe.” How do you turn someone with this much baggage into a working class hero? Even David Brooks could only stomach:

    Biden is a populist in his person and makeup — where he comes from and how he relates.

    2. The last stand of the angry white man

    In this category Biden does slightly better than Hillary because he’s an old white man. But he’s not ranting about libtards and how the world’s being taken over by black Muslim transgenders coming across the Mexican border. So I don’t really see him doing much better in this category.

    None of our candidates do well in this category though because you have to say a lot of racist, misogynist stuff to do well in this category. We shouldn’t be trying to win in this category. This is the one that I hear people saying Biden can win. He can win back these folks because he’s a white man.

    In my opinion, at best there’s a little amelioration.

    3. The old way of doing things

    Is Biden popular with young people? Or does he represent the establishment of the last 40 years? I think this question answers itself.

    He doesn’t generate excitement in the way that Barack Obama did. Or the way that Bernie Sanders does. Or the way that even Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, or Beto O’Rourke do. As I often say to folks though, don’t believe me. Explore this yourself. Ask people supporting Biden why you should vote for Biden. Ask young people what they think of Biden. See what kind of responses you get. What I’ve gotten so far tends to look like this …

    Okay, but what’s exciting about Biden?
    Almost all the answers I’ve gotten are some form of “He’s the most winelectable.” This sounds a lot to me like Clinton’s pitch.

    Compare this with Pete Buttigieg:

    I’ve grown up in a time when you can pretty much tell that there’s tension between capitalism and democracy, and negotiating that tension is probably the biggest challenge for America right now.

    Or Elizabeth Warren talking about how she switched parties after fighting credit card companies for 10 years:

    I looked around in the middle of that fight and I realized: all the money was on one side, and all the hurtin’ was on the other. And that’s when I jumped in politically. I got in that fight, and I fought it for ten years. And by the end of that fight, I fully understood that every Republican stood there for the banks, and half of the Democrats did. So my party was the party that at least we got half of them to stand up for working people, and that was the big change for me.

    When I talk to millennials, I hear something like this:

    A comment from a friend.
    Now Joe Biden’s video where he says he’s getting into this because of Charlottesville isn’t bad. At least he’s picking a fight.

    But when I talk to people about Biden, they’re not saying what the video is saying. That is, their ideas about Biden have largely already been shaped. They don’t see him as a concerned citizen. They see him as the establishment candidate.

    4. Depressed liberals

    As someone who supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary, I’m used to being attacked and “spun.” I’ve been called a BernieBro. And I supported Clinton. In fact, I wrote several articles supporting Clinton. I canvassed for Clinton. I tried to convince others about Clinton.

    I’m saying what I’m saying because it was hard. People didn’t buy it. I’m trying to explain why because I also care about winning.

    The problem with the progressives in the Democratic Party isn’t that they didn’t vote for Clinton. By and large, we did. It’s that it was hard to get excited about Clinton.

    Moore calls this a depressed voter:

    The fire alarm that should be going off is that while the average Bernie backer will drag him/herself to the polls that day to somewhat reluctantly vote for Hillary, it will be what’s called a “depressed vote” – meaning the voter doesn’t bring five people to vote with her. He doesn’t volunteer 10 hours in the month leading up to the election. She never talks in an excited voice when asked why she’s voting for Hillary. A depressed voter.

    This is what I experienced again and again with voters in 2016. They couldn’t get excited about Clinton because she was the establishment candidate.

    Now maybe people are tired enough of Trump that this won’t be a problem for Biden in 2020. I don’t think that’s the case. I think he’s a tough sell as someone who will really fight for people.

    Again, don’t get me wrong … if he wins the primary, I’ll vote for him and try to help him win. What I’m saying is that it’s going to be harder for me to convince others to do the same than it would for any of the candidates.

    The only other candidate who’s even close to having as much establishment baggage as Biden is Cory Booker.

    5. The Jesse Ventura effect

    This is a weird one that I would never have thought about but now it’s hard to ignore. This is similar to people who write in Mickey Mouse because “I might as well get some enjoyment out of voting.”

    Trump has tapped into this vein as well. As someone told me:

    Either Trump fixes things or he destroys the country. Either way, I win.

    Jesse Ventura speaking about defeating the proposed constitutional amendment that would ban the freedom to marry in Minnesota. "The Constitution is there to protect people, not oppress them," Ventura said.
    What does he mean by “I win”? It largely means he can say he was right. But the gut level emotion is very much “Fuck you.” I heard versions of this again and again before the election in 2016.

    Now you might say liberals wouldn’t do this but I see it happen all the time. When people feel that logic breaks down, conversations often get nasty. Moore calls this the Jesse Ventura effect after Minnesota voters who voted for Jesse Ventura as a joke.

    This effect can be attributed to feelings of disenfranchisement. If you feel your vote doesn’t matter, why not vote for a clown?

    I don’t know as this hurts any of our candidates too much this time around because Trump is the incumbent, but it doesn’t help that Biden is the most traditional establishment of the candidates running.

    Why write this?

    I want to win in 2020 too. I understand it’s going to be tough because beating incumbents is always more difficult. In some ways, maybe we have less to lose fighting an incumbent.

    If the key to winning is indeed winning back states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and my home state of Ohio, I think we’d have a better chance if we picked someone who wasn’t from the old establishment.

    It might help if we use these criteria when talking about who can win with working class voters in Midwestern states. I think we need someone willing to fight for the working class who doesn’t have to defend his votes against the working class. I think we need someone who our working-class base can get excited about and sell to other voters.

    David Akadjian is the author of The Little Book of Revolution: A Distributive Strategy for Democracy (ebook now available).


    I respectfully reject the notion of a white male savior.

    First things first. We need to win this presidential election. Period. The country is going down the tubes. I wanted to say this first because I don't want this discussion to center on whether I will support the nominee. Because I will. Absolutely. I have worked for and contributed to the democratic candidates for decades. As a African American woman, I have practiced political pragmatism by necessity. I know that most change is hard fought and incremental. I have supported candidates that I did not love because I thought they were the better option. I will continue to do so.
    I admit a bias toward the new generation of candidates. Of all genders and races. I frankly want a candidate who is not retraining him or herself. Who has not had to adjust to women and minorities in society and in power. Who is not trying to undo negative attitudes learned while growing up.

    Having said all of this, I am bothered by the nomination process. At a cellular level. I am bothered by the debate on the right and the left that we must nominate a white male to win. The right fears the nomination of a white male and (some) on the left feel that only a white male can win. I have read on DK that we need to nominate a white male because we nominated a black and female in the last two cycles (out of 45!). For real. The argument goes that things are so bad right now vis-à-vis racism and sexism that we need to nominate a candidate to appease them, i.e., a white male. Well, I’m not signing on to this sentiment any more.

    I reject the notion that we need a white male savior. I resent when I hear that Biden is “electable.’ This “electability” underscores the perception that white males are more bankable. Better. The Gold Standard. Older black people have the expression, that the white man’s ice is colder. Women and minorities are viewed as risky. Less than. Not quite ready for prime time. I feel that some on the left’s use “electability” as a way to perpetuate the existing power structure. Akin to the identity politics argument. My view is that this argument (in part) reflects genuine concerns about electability but also reflects internal ambiguity about the changing face of leadership that is often unacknowledged or denied. Our party is reluctant to acknowledge these uncomfortable truths. That we are all subject to implicit bias. That we all use internal classifications in our decision-making. That we have been conditioned to view the white patriarchy as most powerful. To deny this is folly. I think the denial on the left is actually exacerbated by the blatant racism of the current administration. We all want no part of the ugly percepts of racism that are before us so we redouble our internal efforts to reject that we have any bias.

    The meme of a white savior coming in to save us troubles me greatly. I want say that I have never felt this way. That would be lying. I have had these thoughts. But, I reject it with all my heart. It is not all about politics. It is about my stand for my race, for my gender and my views of self. It is my rejection of internal psychological structures of racism and de jure discrimination that have pervaded this country for centuries. It is for my son and for the children I work with who are battling some of the same things I have fought in the workplace and in society for decades. I am fighting for better. I am no longer willing to accept less than full recognition and partnership. Where does this leave me vis-à-vis this nomination process? I don't know. But, I do know that I am unapologetically pushing for full representation and more diversity in national leadership.
  9. JGator1

    JGator1 I'm the Michael Jordan of the industry
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    Tug likes this.
  10. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    Georgia mayor allegedly blocked job candidate because 'he is black, and the city isn't ready'

    from DK
    Theresa Kenerly, mayor of Hoschton, Georgia, allegedly pulled back on a job candidate who applied for an opening as the city administrator. As an investigation by the team at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) found, Kenerly allegedly did this because the candidate in question is black.

    The AJC pulled documents and interviews with city officials, including one in which Mayor Kenerly told a member of the City Council that she removed Keith Henry, the job applicant, from a packet of four finalists for the job. Why? Because “he is black, and the city isn’t ready for this.”

    Almost 90 percent of the residents in Hoschton, which is located outside of Atlanta, are white.


    This incident reportedly happened on March 4, while the mayor was speaking to a member of the council during a closed-door council session. The AJC reports that Hope Weeks, also on the council, said the mayor repeated the remarks in the parking lot after the meeting.

    “She proceeded to tell me that the candidate was real good, but he was black and we don’t have a big black population and she just didn’t think Hoschton was ready for that,” Weeks wrote in a document that reporters accessed via an open records request.

    Understandably horrified, Weeks talked to fellow council member Susan Powers. From there, both of them went to city attorney Thomas Mitchell.

    “Both of us were just appalled, so we thought we had to do something to stop it,” Powers said.

    When asked about the racist remark, Kenerly initially said, “I can’t say I said it or not said it,” which is not remotely reassuring.

    Not long after, she issued the following statement:

    “I do not recall making the statement attributed to me regarding any applicant for the City Administrator position, and I deny that I made any statement that suggest [sic] prejudice.”

    Henry, who participated in a phone interview prior to the incident but withdrew his candidacy after being asked to pay for his own travel from Texas to Georgia for an in-person interview, told reporters he didn’t pick up on any particular racism when speaking to Kenerly on the phone. Still, he isn’t surprised at how things turned out.

    “It comes with the territory,” he said. “If you live in America as a minority you can’t be naïve that it is the reality that you face.”

    And wouldn’t you know it, someone else in town offered up some remarkably racist sentiments on the situation. In this case, council member Jim Cleveland isn’t sold on Kenerly being wrong. Even worse? Interracial relationships make his blood boil.

    Seriously. He gave the AJC the following quote:

    “I’m a Christian and my Christian beliefs are you don’t do interracial marriage. That’s the way I was brought up and that’s the way I believe. I have black friends, I hired black people. But when it comes to all this stuff you see on TV, when you see blacks and whites together, it makes my blood boil because that’s just not the way a Christian is supposed to live.”

    Again: Yikes!

    At this point, Kenerly can sit in during interviews, but not otherwise participate in the screening process for job applicants. Which … doesn’t seem like nearly enough of a response?

    You might remember the story about a tech recruiting firm that posted a job ad looking for “Caucasian” applicants. The ad went absolutely viral on social media, with people bemoaning the obvious racism. That’s all well and good, but a story like this one is an important reminder that more often than not, this sort of insidious behavior doesn’t happen out in the open.

    Racism (and all forms of discrimination) often happens behind closed doors. Think, for example, about the studies which show that having a certain kind of name can make you less likely to get an interview. On the other hand, certain hobbies can make it more likely for your resume to be passed along. Why? Racial bias.

    The easiest way for minorities to get more job interviews? Studies show, disturbingly, that “whitening” your resume does the trick. That has got to change.
  11. Pile Driving Miss Daisy

    Pile Driving Miss Daisy It angries up the blood
    Texas LonghornsAtlanta BravesAtlanta HawksAtlanta FalconsAtlanta UnitedGeorgia Southern Eagles

    This may be one of those stories they recycle every month, but still USA Today grooming is non-essential?

  12. MA

    MA Surprisingly normal looking
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    Small thread on it:

    #13062 MA, May 8, 2019
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  13. Pile Driving Miss Daisy

    Pile Driving Miss Daisy It angries up the blood
    Texas LonghornsAtlanta BravesAtlanta HawksAtlanta FalconsAtlanta UnitedGeorgia Southern Eagles

    It's also average not median so it's likely a way over inflated number because of extremely wealthy people's discretionary spending.
    Anison and JeremyLambsFace like this.
  14. AlternativeFactsRule

    AlternativeFactsRule Mmm ... Coconuts
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    Also, food is essential. People may be overspending on it, but you aren't getting all of those food items listed back.
  15. JeremyLambsFace

    JeremyLambsFace For bookings contact Morgan at 702-374-3735
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    Average spending is $94 a month on subscription boxes what the fuck are you doing people
    Shawn Hunter likes this.
  16. Tobias

    Tobias dan “the man qb1” jones fan account
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  17. Can I Spliff it

    Can I Spliff it Is Butterbean okay?

  18. Can I Spliff it

    Can I Spliff it Is Butterbean okay?

  19. Lyrtch

    Lyrtch My second favorite meat is hamburger
    Staff Donor

  20. steamengine

    steamengine I don’t want to press one for English!
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    blotter, yaywaffles, Anison and 6 others like this.
  21. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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    Just saw some CNN clickbait article about production companies avoiding GA because they just adopted a new abortion law that is pretty crazy. Seems like five months ago some folks were talking about GA maybe being a swing state in 2020. Yet now they seem to be trying to emulate states like AL, TN and MS... That's disappointing
  22. AlternativeFactsRule

    AlternativeFactsRule Mmm ... Coconuts
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    Current political climate is not about actually representing the people of your district/state. You can look at statewide vote totals and see Georgia moving to purplish status and still see that the Republican leadership is not reflecting that status in their actions.
  23. Pile Driving Miss Daisy

    Pile Driving Miss Daisy It angries up the blood
    Texas LonghornsAtlanta BravesAtlanta HawksAtlanta FalconsAtlanta UnitedGeorgia Southern Eagles

    Stupid people just pulling that GOP lever at the voting booth, but there have been polls where the majority of Georgians support the current abortion laws. The state is still heavily gerrymandered to give the Georgia House and Senate a disproportionate number of red seats though.
    AlternativeFactsRule likes this.
  24. Pile Driving Miss Daisy

    Pile Driving Miss Daisy It angries up the blood
    Texas LonghornsAtlanta BravesAtlanta HawksAtlanta FalconsAtlanta UnitedGeorgia Southern Eagles

    Hell yeah, everyone needs to follow Benjamin on twitter if you haven't.
  25. Can I Spliff it

    Can I Spliff it Is Butterbean okay?

  26. steamengine

    steamengine I don’t want to press one for English!
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    My work days often consist of listening to people simultaneously say “I can’t find good engineers because everyone just goes to college and studies polit sci and english”, while simultaneously complaining that their workers have no social skills.

    It’s quite fun.
  27. Nandor the Relentless

    Kentucky WildcatsBoston CelticsNew England PatriotsUnited States Men's National Soccer TeamUniversity of LynchburgUSA BasketballNXTAEWMetal

    This is why people should go to liberal arts schools.
  28. AlternativeFactsRule

    AlternativeFactsRule Mmm ... Coconuts
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    It’s not like focusing on STEM has given us political leadership that understands science.
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  29. BWC

    BWC It was the BOAT times, it was the WOAT times
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    Yeah...dumb initial tweet was dumb, but the conversation it initiated was quite good
  30. Name P. Redacted

    Name P. Redacted I have no money and I'm also gay
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    tbh i find these two issues disparate.
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  31. steamengine

    steamengine I don’t want to press one for English!
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    That could certainly be argued. And I would listen.
  32. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    Michael Roberts Blog
    blogging from a marxist economist
    « Productivity, investment and profitability
    Inequality and risk – both rising

    The gini coefficient (the basic measure of inequality) for incomes is now at its highest ever in the US, at a record breaking 0.48 up from 0.38 in the late 1960s – a rise of 30%
    Inequality and risk – both rising
    The US Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard, in a speech in Washington, revealed the extent of rising inequality in the US. Using the latest income and wealth data, she outlined that the incomes and wealth of working-class (the American establishments like to use ‘middle-class’) households in the US have been squeezed in the last 50 years and particularly in the last 20 years.

    Average American households have still not fully recovered the wealth they lost in the Great Recession. At the end of 2018, the average middle income household had wealth of $340,000 (mainly a home), while those in the top 10% had $4.5 million, up 19% from before the recession. The latter’s rise was mainly due to the surge in the stock market.

    According to the Fed’s consumer survey, one third of middle income adults say they would borrow money, sell something or not be able to pay an unexpected $400 expense. One fourth said they skipped some kind of medical care in 2018 because of its cost. Nearly three in 10 middle-income adults carry a balance on their credit card most or all of the time. Meanwhile the share of income spent on rent by middle class renters rose to 25% in 2018 from 18% in 2007, a rise of 40%.


    The gini coefficient (the basic measure of inequality) for incomes is now at its highest ever in the US, at a record breaking 0.48 up from 0.38 in the late 1960s – a rise of 30% (see graph above).

    Brainard suggested that so bad is this development that reasonable living standards for most Americans will never return. “In recent years, households at the middle of the income distribution have faced a number of challenges,’’ Brainard said. “That raises the question of whether middle-class living standards are within reach for middle-income Americans in today’s economy.’

    Such a situation also threatened to weaken the economy with lower consumption per person. “Research shows that households with lower levels of wealth spend a larger fraction of any income gains than their wealthier counterparts. That has long-term implications for consumption, the single biggest engine of growth in the economy” she said. And it even risked ‘democracy’ itself. “A strong middle class is often seen as a cornerstone of a vibrant economy and, beyond that, a resilient democracy,’’ she said. Such are the fears of one of the members of the pillars of American capital, the Federal Reserve.

    While the ‘middle-class’ in the US and many other advanced capitalist countries is being squeezed, the top 1% and even more, the top 0.1%, have never had it so good. It’s as though the Great Recession never happened.

    The wealth of the world’s richest people did decline by 7% to $8.56 trillion in 2018, Wealth-X said, citing global trade tensions, stock-market volatility a slowdown in economic growth. And the number of billionaires fell 5.4% to 2,604, the second annual fall since the financial crash a decade ago. But the America’s richest fared the best of the three main regions, recording a slight rise in the number of billionaires of 0.9% to 892, even if their wealth fell by 5.8% to $3.54 trillion.

    San Francisco has more billionaires per inhabitant in the world — with one billionaire for approximately every 11,600 residents — followed by New York, Dubai and Hong Kong.


    There has not been a fall in billionaires in Brexit Britain, however. According to the Sunday Times rich list just published, there are a record 151 billionaires in the UK. And to be a billionaire is like a god in the sky compared to the average wealth of households. If we measure the difference in time, say days, it is staggering. An NHS nurse’s annual salary is like half a day, while a billionaire’s is like 11,500. The billionaire’s income has a 32 year gap!


    Like climate change and global warming, inequality around the world has now reached an irreversible tipping point. The UK-based House of Commons Library reckons that, if current trends continue, the richest 1% will control nearly 66% of world’s money by 2030. Based on 6% annual growth in wealth, they would hold assets worth approximately $305 trillion, up from $140 trillion today. This follows a report released earlier this year by Oxfam, which said that just eight billionaires have as much wealth as 3.6 billion people — the poorest half of the world.

    Chief Economist at the Bank of England Andy Haldane also delivered an insightful study of how in Britain the rich and poor are spread across the country. From his home town, Sheffield in northern England, Haldane showed that wealth and income are heavily concentrated in the south-east of England. Indeed, the UK has the worst regional dispersion of income and wealth in Europe – even worse than Italy.


    Income and wealth are concentrated in London and the south-east, although long hours and travel time seem to make Londoners more miserable than their poorer fellow citizens in the north, according to surveys.

    Rising inequality is creating conditions for rising risk and uncertainty in capitalist economies. That’s because the main way that the inequality of wealth has increased is through rising prices of financial assets. Marx called these assets fictitious capital, as they represented a claim on the value of companies and government that may not be reflected in the value realised in the earnings and assets of companies or government revenues. Financial crashes are regular occurrences, often of increased severity, and they can wipe out the ‘value’ of these assets at a stroke. Such crashes can be triggers for a collapse in any underlying weakness in the productive sectors of the capitalist economy.

    The latest report of the US Federal Reserve on the financial stability in the US makes sober reading.

    According to the report, “Borrowing by businesses is historically high relative to gross domestic product (GDP), with the most rapid increases in debt concentrated among the riskiest firms amid signs of deteriorating credit standards.” Interest rates for loans are near historic lows, so the borrowing binge among companies continues. According the Fed, “Debt owed by the business sector, however, has expanded more rapidly than output for the past several years, pushing the business-sector credit-to-GDP ratio to historically high levels.”


    Moreover, “The sizable growth in business debt over the past seven years has been characterized by large increases in risky forms of debt extended to firms with poorer credit profiles or that already had elevated levels of debt.”


    And this borrowed money is not used to invest in productive assets but to speculate in the stock market. Indeed, the main buyers of US stocks are companies themselves, thus driving up the price of their own shares (buybacks).

    As long as interest rates stay low and there is no major collapse in corporate earnings, this scenario of corporate borrowing and stock market buybacks can continue. But if interest rates should turn up and/or profits fall, then this corporate house of cards could tumble badly. As the Fed puts it: “Even without a sharp decrease in credit availability, any weakening of economic activity could boost default rates and lead to credit-related contractions to employment and investment among these businesses. Moreover, existing research suggests that elevated vulnerabilities, such as excessive borrowing in the business sector, increase the downside risk to broader economic activity.”

    Naturally, the Fed’s report concluded that things were going to be all right and the banks and corporations were resilient and healthy. But overall uncertainty about the future for the major capitalist economies is rising, according to the latest reading of the World Uncertainty Index, a device that supposedly measures the confidence of capitalist investors globally.


    The latest measure of the WUI has risen sharply to a level higher than before the global financial crash. And the recent drop in share prices driven by the ongoing trade war between the US and China is an indication of what could happen in the next year.
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  33. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    The cable network that is Foxier than Fox -- and that Trump is promoting
    By Brian Stelter, CNN Business

    Updated 3:26 PM ET, Tue May 14, 2019

    New York (CNN Business)Does President Trump think he can play Fox News and One America News Network off each other?

    That's one way to interpret his tweets.
    One America News Network, or OANN for short, is a right-wing cable news channel that wants to take on Fox. In the past two months, Trump has tweeted about OANN seven times — after going two years without tagging the channel once.
    OANN has some fans, but it is not a widely known brand -- which is all the more reason why the president's plugging it is notable. When he's not assailing "enemy" news organizations, the president is promoting outlets he approves of, and OANN is clearly in the latter camp.
    OANN executives have encouraged the presidential endorsements in their conversations with White House aides -- and sometimes in public on Twitter.
    Robert Herring, the channel's CEO, regularly tags Trump in tweets. "Mr. President our young employees want to thank you for noticing all of their hard work," he wrote in one of the posts last month.
    The praise goes both ways. On Monday the president thanked both Fox and OANN in back-to-back tweets. First he sent kudos to "Fox & Friends" for its ratings, then he said "congratulations to @OANN on the great job you are doing and the big ratings jump."
    The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said that Trump's promotional behavior is troubling.
    "Dedicate your broadcast to supporting the president and he'll use the power of the presidency to increase your ratings and hurt your competitors (or so he claims)," CREW said Monday.
    Benefiting from Trump's promotion
    For OANN, being seen as pro-Trump is a key part of the business model.
    For example, the channel advertises commercial-free coverage of every single Trump rally -- and sometimes shows the warm-up speakers as well.
    It wants recognition in exchange. Back in March, the channel's main Twitter account complained when Trump thanked "his supporters in the media" without mentioning OANN. "Not a single mention of One America News -- one of his GREATEST supporters... @OANN calls bulls***," the tweet said.
    The channel, headquartered in San Diego, launched in 2013 into a very difficult market for independently-owned cable channels.
    Distributors are reluctant to add more channels to an already-jam-packed cable bundle. That's why, six years later, OANN is still relatively obscure. Verizon and AT&T-owned platforms carry OANN, but other distributors like Comcast and Charter do not, so the channel is not available in most homes.
    But Robert Herring and his son Charles, the president of OANN, are pressing forward. They see the channel as an alternative to Fox and all the other news options on TV, including CNN.
    Like Fox, OANN is a combination of newscasts and fiery conservative talk shows. Many hours of the day are just an old-fashioned news wheel, with a heavy dose of international headlines. Bombastic talk shows and segments featuring Jack Posobiec, a notorious pro-Trump Internet personality, are mixed in. At times the content veers into conspiracy theory territory.
    The staff is a mix of young journalists and committed partisans. The chief White House correspondent, for example, is a former actress who is now both a reporter and right-wing commentator, Emerald Robinson.
    Trump greeted her by name during an informal Q&A with reporters on Tuesday morning.
    "How are you Emerald," he said, inviting her to ask a question. "Go ahead, what's up?"
    Measuring OANN's popularity
    OANN does not subscribe to Nielsen ratings, which is usually a sign that a channel's audience is quite small. But Charles Herring said in an email message to CNN Business that there's a different reason: "We refuse to PAY for Nielsen data based on the excessive price."
    Instead, Herring relies on ComScore set-top-box viewership data to say that OANN was the "fourth rated cable news network" in March, behind Fox, MSNBC and CNN.
    That assertion is not backed up by Nielsen -- the agreed-upon currency for the TV industry -- since OANN is not rated by it. But the ComScore data may explain how Trump heard about a "big ratings jump" at OANN.
    Herring said he shared his data directly with Trump in late 2018, and also had "recent conversations with key White House officials."
    No one at Fox seems to be concerned about the competition. There are several other Fox wannabes in the marketplace, including Newsmax and BlazeTV, yet Fox's ratings remain solid.
    "Trump's recent promotion of OANN hasn't come at Fox News's expense," Vox's Aaron Rupar wrote on Monday. "But it does indicate that Trump is looking these days to amplify other outlets that cover him favorably, and reliably reinforce his talking points."
    Trump has repeatedly shown that he wants to prop up multiple alternatives to the mainstream media he loves to hate.
    Other Republicans also see reasons to plug OANN. Senator Rand Paul tweeted about the channel on Tuesday, saying "OANN brings much-needed variety" and "real news."
    well that's just fucking great
    they also have newsmax or something like that
  34. timo

    timo What is the cost of lies?
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    #13087 timo, May 15, 2019
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  35. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
    Utah UtesArkansas Razorbacks

    Her Name Was Susan

    Community (This content is not subject to review by Daily Kos staff prior to publication.)
    Wednesday May 15, 2019 · 10:13 PM CDT
    Recommend 331

    Several years ago, I posted a remembrance from my experience as a junior medical student at UCLA in 1964. The recent events in Alabama have released a flood of memories from that period. So with your indulgence I am reprinting that diary. As an old white male, I can never pretend to know the agony and despair that so many women have suffered and continue to suffer as the result of those who would deprive them of their choice and dignity. I can only try to understand. Even at the age of 78 it haunts me still.

    Her name was Susan. She was young. She was beautiful. She was intelligent. She was articulate. She was dying…

    Susan was a 23 year old single woman who came to Los Angeles in the early 60’s to pursue her dream to become an actress. She had played the leads in her high school plays somewhere in Utah. She was runner-up in the Miss Utah pageant. She managed to get a couple of walk-on parts in some B-grade Hollywood films. She was a starlet.

    A year or so after coming to the West Coast she became pregnant. The father quickly faded away into faceless LA. Her good Christian parents were humiliated, outraged and wanted nothing to do with her. She was on her own. Broke. Friendless. Pregnant. Scared.

    So she took the bus to San Diego, walked across the border and headed to a cheap, dirty Tijuana abortion clinic. Four hours later she was back on the other side of the border, in pain, bleeding and completely debased. By the next day, the pain had become unbearable and she was spiking a temperature. She went to a local emergency room and was hospitalized overnight at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. She was subsequently transferred to the Medicine unit at UCLA Medical Center, at that time a small teaching hospital in its embryonic stages.

    I was a 3rd year medical student in my first clinical rotation at UCLA. Susan was one of my first patients. We were about the same age. I was embarking on my medical career. Her life was ending

    Over the next three weeks, I learned how people die from sepsis. Her uterus was perforated. She had developed gram-negative septicemia. Our knowledge of and access to antibiotics was primitive and limited. Eventually she went into renal failure. She burned with fever. She was racked with abdominal pain. The lovely face become sallow, sparkling eyes sunken, lifeless. Her skin turned a sickly bronze color. Her breath reeked the pungent stench of ammonia. After weeks of agony, her frail body mercifully surrendered.

    As I recollect these painful images of my brief encounter with Susan, the most outrageous aspect of this experience is not even the way she died. It is that she died alone. During those three weeks, she never had a visitor. There was no boyfriend - he was off to other conquests. There were no parents - they disowned her in shame and embarrassment.

    Even worse was the mindset of the medical staff. While she was given the requisite care, there was little, if any, sympathy or compassion for this young woman or her situation. There was always the profound sense that “she brought this on herself,” that she was, in the final analysis, just “an unfortunate tramp” - Even As She Lay Dying.

    It is now 50 years later and I still carry this burden of shame for myself, my colleagues, my society, my country. And to this day, whenever the subject of Roe v Wade comes up, whenever I see and hear the holier-than-thou religious fanatics trying to take away the rights of a woman to control her own body, to make her own choices, to force her into the back alleys of Tijuana, I can still smell the stench of ammonia in the air.

    Goodnight, Susan, we will not forget you.

    Michigan Republican says that abortion procedures should be 'painful' and 'God should take over'

    State Sen. Kim LaSata is sort of scary
    Everyone knows that God hates women who get abortions. In fact, one of the earliest books in the Hebrew Bible—Numbers—has a “pleasant” story about God’s priests giving women a special “potion” that would induce an abortion. According to the Bible, it was a punishment for adultery. So, abortion bad … unless God wants it done … to punish women. For those of you opening up your Hebrew Bibles, that’s Numbers 5:16-28. Got it! Michigan state Sen. Kim LaSata doesn’t read those kinds of bibles. She reads her own special bible and has big thoughts and feelings about what God wants. She and other forced-birther zealots in the Michigan state legislature have been trying to get their own abortion ban through.

    With Alabama’s decision to outlaw abortions in virtually all cases, forced-birther types like Sen. LaSata want everyone to know that they are overjoyed by their victory in protecting the “sanctity of life.” The Detroit Free Press explains that during examination of medical experts, LaSata became angry after testimony that by banning standard second-trimester procedures for abortion, the Michigan legislature would be putting women into painful and dangerous scenarios. Sen. LaSata’s response was the kind of Jesus empathizing you might expect from a good Christian like LaSata: “Of course it should be hard! And the procedure should be painful! And you should allow God to take over!! And you should deliver that baby!"

    Sen. LaSata has talked about her own personal abortion story, where she attempted to get an abortion, it didn’t work, and she ended up giving birth to a stillborn baby. She called the experience an intervention by God, forcing her to go through with what must have been a truly emotional and physically brutal experience.

    It seems that what Sen. LaSata wants is for other women, regardless of the situation, to experience the trauma she experienced. In her mind, based on her words, she thinks that God did that to her and so other women should get to experience God’s work in the same way.
    between this and the MI idiots on 1A this morning, I don't think MI gets enough credit for how shitty stupid they are. Honorary membership in shit states immediately
    #13088 Prospector, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  36. Can I Spliff it

    Can I Spliff it Is Butterbean okay?

  37. Mister Me Too

    Mister Me Too Well-Known Member
    Donor TMB OG
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  38. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
    Utah UtesArkansas Razorbacks

    Mitch McConnell is reveling in destroying our democracy, and Politico is lionizing him for it

    from DK
    Because politics and government are just one big game to Politico, here's a story from Burgess Everett reveling in how much Mitch McConnell is enjoying destroying government. There isn't one word about the damage the "cartoon villain" is inflicting on all of the institutions of the federal government, but plenty about how much fun he's having doing it.

    Everett tell us that "he’s loving every minute of it," and quotes him saying "'We need to have a little fun in this business. […] I used to call myself Darth Vader when I was back in the campaign finance wars." Ha ha ha ha, wasn't it great when he was fighting to sell Congress to unaccountable corporations and billionaires? And "when he hears liberals complain about him killing their priorities on health care, the environment and gun control, McConnell can't help but crack a smile." Because it's so much fun to watch people die needlessly when you can stop it!

    McConnell "has a wry and self-deprecating sense of humor, according to senators and aides," Everett reports. That's in contrast to all those Democratic scolds who say things like "The fact is, he has changed the Senate in ways that I think may never be the same." That's Sen. Dick Durbin. Or Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, who says "No one should be proud of being the Grim Reaper of middle-class legislation that Americans desperately need." Look at those wet blankets who don't know how to give a good quote to Politico.

    Meanwhile, the Senate has done almost nothing in the way of legislating, including responding to ongoing national disasters that are racking up billions in costs to states. On the Senate calendar Monday: advancing another circuit court judge, this one to the 9th, the court that has been most steadfast in resisting Trump's unconstitutional efforts and one that is at the verge of flipping to be controlled by Trump-friendly judges. He'll be the second California judge advanced over the objections of the state's Democratic senators, and the fifth judge in history to be confirmed under those circumstance, all of them in the past month.

    But, you know, Darth Vader's having fun doing it, so that's all that really matters, right?
    shawnoc and BellottiBold like this.
  39. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
    Utah UtesArkansas Razorbacks

    from DK
    GOP declares Trump innocent before any impeachment begins, while McConnell sits on 100 bills

    Mitch McConnell reached a milestone last week. That’s when the Senate majority leader quashed his 100th bill of the year. That’s one hundred pieces of legislation—on infrastructure, on health care, on gun safety, on every single topic that American voters say is important to them in their everyday lives—that haven’t just stalled on McConnell’s desk, but have been forwarded directly to the trash can.
    Because in order to make it appear that Democrats “have done nothing,” Republicans have done something. They’ve returned to the exact policy that McConnell pioneered under President Obama: Don’t cooperate on anything, at any time, no matter how important. Don’t expect this strategy to end. For the next two years, Republicans will regularly, daily, beat their chests over how Democrats just won’t pass legislation on important topics, while McConnell directs that exact legislation to the circular file. And they all laugh up their sleeves.

    In support of the no-cooperation-on-anything policy, McConnell has been more than happy to see Congress take one blow after another as Trump has refused to hand over information required by law, ordered staffers and former staffers to disobey congressional subpoenas, and personally sued the chairmen of congressional committees. And if all that wasn’t enough, McConnell and the GOP Senate have now pledged that the single tool Congress holds against an out-of-control executive is off the table, before anyone ever sought to use it.

    As The Hill reports, Senate Republicans are making it clear that if Trump were to be impeached in the House, that impeachment would be immediately quashed in the Senate. Unlike in the case of those 100 bills that he has cheerfully shit-canned, McConnell would be legally required to bring up articles of impeachment. But that doesn’t mean he and the narrow Republican majority can’t dispose of any charges immediately and get the Senate back to the people’s business … of doing exactly nothing. Less than nothing. Since their total accomplishments are simply making sure that any bill that leaves the House suffers an instant death.

    McConnell would have to address any impeachment document that reaches his desk, but how he addresses it is pretty much up to him. And the answer appears to be that he’ll do so both quickly and with disdain.

    What has reached McConnell’s desk so far only to die? Some of the items are certainly things that Republicans could be expected to vote against, such as a comprehensive reform package to uphold voting rights, a bill to limit partisan gerrymandering, and campaign finance reform that would address some of the wrongs created by the Citizen’s United decision. But Republicans don’t have to vote against those bills. Because McConnell has made certain that none of them has ever come up for a vote.

    Sign This Petition
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    He’s done the same to reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. And to bills to save net neutrality. And to the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would put some actual teeth in labor standards passed over 50 years ago. Republicans have no concerns at all about having to go on the record against women, against racial equality, against fair pay, against preserving access to the net … because McConnell has already gone on the record for them. He’s against all those things.

    He’s against everything, so long as it comes from the House. So long as Democrats control the House of Representatives, McConnell will continue to connect his inbox to his toilet. And then Republicans will stand up to loudly moan that Democrats are getting nothing done.

    But on impeachment, they would at least have to take a vote. No matter how quick McConnell makes the process, or how dismissive his tone, every Republican senator would have to stand up and declare that they were totally okay with Donald Trump breaking the law, blatantly and repeatedly, in ways they had previously declared were an affront to the nation. They would just as soon not do that. Which is why Republicans are so set on telling Democrats how futile it would be impeach Trump.

    Besides, then they’d have to interrupt their perpetual vacations and vote on something.
    Keef and BellottiBold like this.
  40. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
    Utah UtesArkansas Razorbacks


    The press wonders aloud why progressives don't like them

    One of the greatest myths which permeates politics, and is the source of constant struggle for Democrats and people working on progressive causes, is the idea the press has a liberal agenda. Since at least the time of Barry Goldwater, it has been a talking point which has allowed conservatives to “work the refs,” pushing news into a place where the guiding star of the profession’s purpose is a bullshit concept of balance rather than a clear reporting of truth.
    The true agenda of the press is the self-interest of ratings and views, dependent on the preservation of relationships and access by not being too hard on the people who feed them stories (i.e., the people they cover). Therefore, the “fourth estate” will always show measured deference to the status quo in declarations of what is “appropriate” or “respectful” according to Washington press corps etiquette standards, and exhibited in their calls for “civility” or constant laments about the lack of “bipartisanship.” This will always hold more sway than reporting reality and seriously calling a lie a lie, because to do otherwise makes the way they do things untenable. And when regular folks point this dynamic out, the media seem to have a hard time grasping their failure, or taking criticism.

    So imagine my amusement when they wonder, with many, many words and deficient arguments, as to why progressives don’t like the way they do their jobs. Such is the case with New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait, a self-described disenfranchised white man, who has just put out a piece wondering why progressives don’t like New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman. Over the Memorial Day weekend, Haberman and The Times came under a lot of criticism and ridicule for an article which presented the issue of whether former White House communications director Hope Hicks complies with a congressional subpoena as a melodramatic “existential” question. Many online thought Haberman’s framing was ridiculous, and even beyond the stupid use of the word existential, the article made the concept of complying with the law into an agonizing made-for-TV drama complete with glamour photos of Hicks. Today, without addressing specific criticisms of the story, Haberman claimed the knocks on her work has “gotten extremely personal.” Chait’s article claims there is a “pathological hatred” of Haberman among both the right and left.

    Let’s peel this onion. Is Chait’s assertions true? Why might people dislike Haberman’s work? And why has the left become as exasperated by the press’s performance as the right?

    Haberman: “I always regret when any story becomes this much of a controversy if it’s not about the merits of the reporting … We are not above criticism, and we deserve it and we hear it. I think the tenor has gotten extremely personal. I think that’s unfortunate.”

    If only members of the press felt the same way when it came to their coverage of Hillary Clinton, which they have never had any problem being “extremely personal” about.
    From Jonathan Chait at New York magazine:

    The piece was not the best specimen of Haberman’s work, but the response to it did illustrate the extraordinary and almost pathological hatred her name provokes. The attacks began with the story’s “decision” premise, and quickly spread to reviving claims that Haberman herself habitually regurgitates administration propaganda. Critics claimed that Haberman’s mother, a public-relations agent, compromises her ability to report independently, called her a “monster,” and so on.

    The left-wing HuffPost media critic Ashley Feinberg has included Haberman on both her list of “Cowards, Courtiers, Strivers And Suck-Ups” and her list of “Thinnest Skins in the media.” Haberman can be hated both for her work and the fact that she disagrees with the hatred of her work, a wonderfully perpetual cycle of content-generation.

    There’s a lot to unpack about this and Chait’s article, which basically devolves into “Why are progressives so mean?” whining, but I’m gonna try.

    A lot of the criticism toward Haberman is based in the belief she colors her articles based on the access she’s given, or more importantly the access she wants to keep, and the fact she is notoriously thin skinned about any criticisms of her work, which usually results in her pouting instead of answering any of the problems. With the Hope Hicks article which brought about this current brouhaha, there’s reporting claiming Hicks is “one of the star White House reporter’s more highly valued sources,” with Haberman working on publishing a book about the Trump White House for which Hicks’s cooperation might come in handy.

    So, when the Times frames Hicks as a victim of a process, thrust into an “existential” life choice of whether to comply with the law speak her truth, it might be pertinent that the reporter whose name is on the story might have ulterior motives. These kind of things are important in how the media covers this White House, given the news networks basically turned over free airtime to Trump because he was bankable to say stupid shit on-air. And this is a continuing concern about the media. For example, Chait himself was reported to have said he was “100 percent” happy Trump won the presidency because of the content it would provide for him to write about.

    Let’s go through some of Chait’s assertions bit by bit, and see where we end up.

    One of the oddities of the left’s Haberman hatred is its failure to recognize identical levels of hatred on the right. Haberman has gotten under President Trump’s skin like no other reporter.

    Whether Republicans and conservatives like or dislike Haberman is irrelevant. If the right hates Haberman for her stories, that doesn’t mean people on the left can’t dislike her work for not going far enough. Haberman has long defended the media’s reluctance to use the term “lie” to describe what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth. Her one exception has been when the lies are about HER, then she has no problem using the word. And this inability to press further, state truth flatly, and blithely accept the answers she’s given has been something people have noticed for a while.

    It is a fallacy to say, as reporters sometimes do, that they must be doing something right if both sides are complaining.

    Then why bring it up other than to lay it out there as something we should consider?

    It is also fair to concede that some of Haberman’s work merits some complaint. But the idea that she is on the whole a failure, or an easy mark for the administration, is preposterous.

    Watch those goal posts move. See, progressives? She isn’t a complete fuck up, and makes Republicans mad! Why don’t y’all like her?

    The progressive loathing of Haberman draws some of its force from the mistaken belief that straight news reporters should stand up to the president and call him out for his unfitness to hold office. Some people who believe this fail to grasp the distinction between news gathering and opinion journalism.

    Speaking for myself, I don’t need reporters to be activists. I don’t want them to be activists. I want them to tell us the truth, and report the truth. When members of the press either can’t bring themselves to use the word “lie,” or color their coverage to fit their needs for access, then they aren’t “straight news” reporters. They’re media personalities serving the interests of their employer and themselves.

    Others believe Trump’s unique authoritarianism and unfitness for office gives straight reporters a special duty to slip the shackles of objectivity. One thing they might consider, as they direct this frustration against Haberman, is that we know as much as we do about Trump’s authoritarianism and unfitness for office because of her reporting.

    With all due respect to Haberman, and she does deserve some credit for what she has reported and the Times has printed, I didn’t need what her or her sources have given me to realize Trump’s authoritarianism or his unfitness for the presidency. He makes that self-evident every time he opens his mouth. And I believe what good work Haberman, and others like Haberman, do put out there is diminished and left incomplete by their inability to truly convey the actual truth, by making it clear to readers and viewer they are “lies” instead of just another viewpoint.

    There are a lot of aspects of the 2016 presidential election, and the state of politics and media coverage over the past three years, which should give people pause and be areas of self-reflection for journalists. The media will have none of it, since like everyone else they never want to admit they’re wrong about a goddamn thing, including their part in obsessing over emails and always giving Trump free air time...

    And if parts of the left and progressives have issues with the media, it’s because these people will do it to us again. When tomorrow comes, this press corps will have learned nothing from the damage of what has been wrought. They will give the next megalomaniac fool which comes along the same free air time and column space to broadcast stupidity far and wide, if they can get ratings and clicks out of it. Sure, they’ll report the controversy, write editorials decrying the mess, and valiantly make big statements in a nightly pundit circle jerk. But they’ll do it again, and will give the same conservative assholes a soap box with which to lie without calling it a lie.

    also, from dk
    The New York Times just isn't up to the Trump-era challenge

    Two years ago when The New York Times eliminated its public editor position after the ombudsman wrote two tough critiques of the paper's "timid" Russia hacking coverage in 2016, executives at the publication suggested the Times didn't need an internal watchdog to hold the staff accountable, because that's what Twitter does today. The reasoning was a dopey dodge, since short tweets raising concerns about the paper's performance obviously don’t carry the same weight as 900-word columns published in the Times and written by a full-time public editor. But on the off chance that retreating Times executives actually meant what they said about Twitter holding the paper accountable, then Memorial Day weekend proved to be a strong example as the daily was absolutely pummeled by tweets for days, roundly and loudly criticized for some atrocious Trump-era reporting. "It truly is a weekend of wtf for the @nytimes," tweeted journalist Soledad O’Brien. "Bad reporting. Poor framing. Terrible editing. Bad decision making. Just a mess."

    Indeed, the rhetorical Twitter beatdown helped shine a spotlight on the fact that the Times, and specifically its Washington bureau, simply isn't up to the task of covering Donald Trump’s presidency. These are extraordinary times, as the radical Republican shreds norms on a near-daily basis. But the Times cannot, or will not, rise to the occasion. Instead of brave, groundbreaking reporting we get timidity, and we get Times reporters still coddling dishonest Trump-era sources, such as former White House communications director Hope Hicks. It's all part of the Times's current-day identity crisis: The newsroom knows it should be unabashedly critical and confrontational, and that's how the paper markets itself under Trump. But in reality, the paper’s reporters and editors are too timid to regularly deliver the goods.

    Note that I'm not writing an entire column detailing all the Trump-era missteps at CNN, or the Washington Post, or CBS News, or the Los Angeles Times. I'm not suggesting those news operations are without fault, because they definitely are not. But I am saying there is no major news outlet in America today that so consistently advertises its shortcomings the way the Times does, and there's no other news organization that so staunchly refuses to concede missteps. A cult-like defense now permeates the newsroom, where staffers remain convinced every Times critic is naïve and misguided, and can't possibly understand how the sophisticated players at the paper are keyed into the Trump-era truth.

    But wait! The Times has won Pulitzer Prize awards for its Trump reporting, so that proves the paper is doing a great job, right? Nope. What that proves is that Times journalists who operate outside the paper's Washington bureau often score with important and deeply reported investigations into Trump's disturbing past, while the Times's Beltway crew works to normalize his presidency. Two egregious Times articles in particular stunned media observers in recent days.

    One was a deeply peculiar article about former White House communications director Hope Hicks and how she faces, as the Times put it, an "existential choice" of whether or not to comply with a congressional subpoena. The news article also featured an oddly glamorous, stylized photo of Hicks. Think about the mindset that the piece even required, both from the reporter who wrote it, (Maggie Haberman) and the editor who oversaw the article—the mindset being that of course, members of Trump's inner circle have a "choice" of whether they want to comply with a congressional subpoena, as if that's the legal norm for you and me. Think about how deep into the dysfunctional game of normalizing Trump you have to be to even think about framing the Hicks story the way the newspaper did. (The puff piece was also riddled with missteps, and follows a long line of fawning Hicks coverage at the Times.)

    The Hicks article really did seem to capture how badly the paper has lost touch with its calling, and the dangerous consequences of those failures. "When a respected paper such as @nytimes calls this an ‘existential’ question, rather than a question about complying with the law, we have a very serious problem with our democracy," stressed Princeton University historian, Julian Zelizer. "This is what it looks like to become dysfunctional."

    The other piece that produced Twitter howls was an in-depth Times article, complete with a timeline, that documented the array of insults Trump has used to describe Democratic candidates. All the article did was amplify Trump's idiocy by repeating his childish taunts about his political opponents and treating them as important news. (They're not, and the press shouldn't treat them as such.)

    But honestly, that’s not all that's been glaringly wrong with the paper recently. Late last week, after Trump used Twitter to share a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Times completely ignored the incident in its write-up of what the paper claimed was a Both Sides "war of words" that had broken out between Trump and Pelosi as they questioned each others' fitness for office. Please note that Pelosi questioned Trump's fitness based on his erratic behavior and comments, while Trump questioned Pelosi's fitness based on a manipulated video. Yet the Times treated those as equal.

    This train of timidity travels on and on. Last month while covering a Trump rally where he told a ghastly lie about Democrats supporting infanticide, the Times could only summon enough courage to call Trump's hideous declaration "a standard, and inaccurate, refrain." Back in February, Trump told a gargantuan lie when he claimed that 72% of arrested undocumented immigrants don't show up for mandatory court appearances. He was off by 70 points: The actual figure is 2%. The Times politely labeled that a "false statement." The daily has been extraordinarily reticent in telling the truth about Trump being a pathological liar.

    That's when the paper hasn’t been busy hyping White House talking points. In late March, having read not one page of Robert Mueller's report on his Russia investigation, the Times rushed to announce that Trump had been exonerated and that Mueller's conclusions had provided Trump with a "powerful boost" toward reelection. The Times made that sweeping conclusion having only been given Attorney General William Barr's four-page press release, which we now know was riddled with false spin.

    The New York Times is the most famous and powerful news organization in America. It’s a shame the newspaper’s not up to the Trump-era challenge.

    Eric Boehlert is a veteran progressive writer and media analyst, formerly with Media Matters and Salon. He is the author of Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush and Bloggers on the Bus. You can follow him on Twitter @EricBoehlert.
    BellottiBold likes this.
  41. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
    Utah UtesArkansas Razorbacks

    May 30, 2019 Opinion
    Robert Reich: American Oligarchy Has Returned
    What Does Oligarchy Mean?

    “Oligarchy” means government of and by a few at the top, who exercise power for their own benefit. It comes from the Greek word oligarkhes, meaning “few to rule or command.”
    Even a system that calls itself a democracy can become an oligarchy if power becomes concentrated in the hands of a few very wealthy people – a corporate and financial elite.

    Their power and wealth increase over time as they make laws that favor themselves, manipulate financial markets to their advantage, and create or exploit economic monopolies that put even more wealth into their pockets.

    Modern-day Russia is an oligarchy, where a handful of billionaires who control most major industries dominate politics and the economy.

    What about the United States?

    According to a study published in 2014 by Princeton Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern Professor Benjamin Page, although Americans enjoy many features of democratic governance, such as regular elections, and freedom of speech and association, American policy making has become dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans.

    The typical American has no influence at all.

    This is largely due to the increasing concentration of wealth. In a 2019 research paper, Berkeley economics professor Gabriel Zucman determined that the richest 1 percent of Americans now own 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. That’s up from 25 to 30 percent of the nation’s wealth in the 1980s.

    The only country Zucman found with similarly high levels of wealth concentration is … Russia.

    America has had an oligarchy before – in the first Gilded Age, which ran from the 1880s until the early 20th century.

    Teddy Roosevelt called that oligarchy the “malefactors of great wealth,” and fought them by breaking up large concentrations of economic power–the trusts–and instituting a progressive federal income tax.

    His fifth cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, further reduced their power by strictly regulating Wall Street, and encouraging the growth of labor unions. The oligarchy fought back but Roosevelt wouldn’t yield.

    “Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob,” he thundered in 1936. “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.”

    But the American oligarchy has returned. We are now in a second Gilded Age. As the great jurist Louis Brandeis once said, “We can have democracy in this country or we can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

    We must, once again, make the correct choice and reduce the economic and political power of the American oligarchy.
  42. Where Eagles Dare

    Where Eagles Dare The Specialist Show On Earth
    Auburn TigersAtlanta BravesWashington RedskinsAtlanta United

    He can't help being the weird overly nice creepy grandfather to young girls.
  43. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
    Utah UtesArkansas Razorbacks

    Pew confirms it: There's no real such thing as an 'independent' voter

    If someone voted, odds are overwhelming that they weren't a true independent.

    Few things are more frustrating than people jabbering about what “independents” think, want, or believe. This idea that there are people today who truly swing between voting for Democrats and voting for Republicans doesn’t pass the anything test. Do you really know someone like this, an informed voter who regularly swings wildly between the two parties?
    Yes, there are people who call themselves independent. They are the tea party conservatives, too cool to be Republicans, yet always pulling the lever for the GOP. There are the Bernie-type liberals, also too cool and pure to sully themselves by belonging to a party, yet when it comes time to vote, they wouldn’t vote for a Republican to save their lives.

    And yes, there are “independents” who, generally, are too apathetic to care enough to realize that there are real differences between the two parties, and might swing. But that kind of person is also very likely to, you know, not vote at all.

    And while this all sounds anecdotal, it’s not. It’s in the findings of the latest Pew Research study on so-called independents.

    Top line? Only 7% of Americans are true independents—individuals who genuinely don’t lean toward either of the two major parties. And of those? Only 33% voted in 2018! That is, only 2.3% of real independents even bothered to vote!

    So next time you see someone fretting about how this or that policy or message is selling to “independents,” remember that we’re talking about 2-3% of voters. If you’re worried about appealing to that crowd, as opposed to your core base, then you’re doing it wrong. Truly wrong. Really, really, really wrong.
    from dk
  44. Prospector

    Prospector I am not a new member
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    One Man’s Quest for a Memorial to Sugar Land’s Bitter History
    Siddhartha Mahanta
    Brian Goldman/Goldman PicturesReginald Moore at the Old Imperial Farm Cemetery, Sugar Land, Texas, December 1, 2016
    On a crisp morning in March, I sat with fifty-nine-year-old Reginald Moore in his black pickup truck, parked just behind an HEB grocery store in Sugar Land, Texas. Moore, a burly former high-school football player, longshoreman, and prison guard, was reintroducing me to the prosperous suburb of Houston where I grew up. Less than half a mile away from us, at the corner of Texas State Highway 6 and US Route 90 Alternate, sat a large blue shipping container. Alongside several others, an orange crane, and a pair of portable toilets, its presence on the edge of a bustling construction site was unremarkable.

    “See where that blue container is, right there?” he said. “That’s where those bodies are right now.”

    Early last year, construction crews breaking ground on a $59 million development for a vocational high school in the Ford Bend Independent School District discovered the bones of ninety-five individuals, ranging in age from fourteen to seventy years old, all but one of them male. Forensic surveys revealed that they had died between 1878 and 1911, and were buried in unmarked graves. With the help of an environmental consulting firm, the district determined that they had likely been prisoners of the state penal system, leased out to the sugar-cane barons who then dominated the region under the brutal system known as convict leasing.

    Moore wanted to show me the spot where the remains were found, and pulled into the construction site cautiously. “Sometimes they let me in here, sometimes they may not,” he said, the truck’s engine roaring over the cacophony of buzzing saws and beeping earth movers. He pointed past a few muddy puddles and some black piping to a group of dirt mounds. “That’s where those guys were at,” he said.

    In the 1980s, after a recession claimed his job at the Houston Ship Channel, Moore, who is black, worked as a prison guard at the Jester State Prison Farm, several miles to the northwest of the construction site. There were no black captains or majors in the Texas correctional system, despite a 1980 district court ruling that had led to an influx of minority guards, he said. At the same time, he added, the black population in the Texas prison system was boosted by racist disparities in sentencing for crack and cocaine convictions. The state’s increased use of prison terms for drug offenses meant that between 1986 and 1999, according to a report by the Justice Policy Institute, African Americans accounted for 81 percent of the growth in drug charge-related prison admissions.

    Black guards had no one in the upper ranks to advocate for their promotion, Moore recalled. “We didn’t have no guys that was in high authority that could say anything that would get you in a better position,” Moore recalled. “Because if you said anything, they would retaliate against you.” The image of the black inmates working under a white overseer on the prison farms would haunt Moore long after he returned to the ship channel in 1988. He couldn’t let go of it.

    After he retired in 2003, Moore immersed himself in the past. He pored over records of land grants to Stephen F. Austin, the “Father of Texas,” who in 1824 brought 300 families from the United States to settle what would become Sugar Land. A number of these settlers owed their fortunes to convict leasing, a system whose abuses Douglas Blackmon documented in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery by Another Name (2008). As Blackmon wrote, although the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1865, ended slavery and involuntary servitude for blacks, it included an exception for those convicted of a crime. The Texas legislature, like the rest of the postbellum South, exploited this loophole, passing laws subjecting African Americans to criminal prosecutions for offenses ranging from vagrancy to possession of weapons to failure to carry proof of employment. Southern businessmen leased these prisoners from the state to work mines, construct railroads, and toil on plantations.

    “The Texas sugar plantations were profitable because they depended on slave labor,” The New York Times’s columnist Brent Staples wrote last fall. “Abolition crushed the industry, but the convict leasing system resurrected it in a form that can legitimately be seen as more pernicious than slavery: slave masters had at least a nominal interest in keeping alive people whom they owned and in whom they held an economic stake.”


    Sugar Land would earn its name, as Moore came to know, after two Confederate veterans, Edward H. Cunningham and Littleberry A. Ellis, signed a five-year contract with Texas in 1878 to lease its entire prison population to work their sugar-cane fields. By 1882, some 800 prisoners—over a third of the state’s inmates—worked on twelve of the eighteen plantations in Texas through Cunningham and Ellis’s contracts. At the height of their operation, according to Robert Perkinson’s Texas Tough (2010), they had the largest lease system in the US, with some 2,300 convicts laboring—most of them former slaves.

    Reginald Moore’s research collection via Woodson Research Center/Fondren Library/Rice UniversityConvicts’ bunks on a Texas prison farm, undated
    From the state’s perspective, the use of prisoners for “outside labor” on plantations was a “necessity,” both as a revenue producer and as a solution to the problem of overcrowding within prisons, according to a Texas State Penitentiary report published in 1880. Texas required lessees to house, clothe, feed, and manage inmates. Black prisoners were typically sent to work in swamps infested with mosquitos. Convict-labor camps were known for their decrepit housing, rampant sickness, and cruel guards; punishments included locking prisoners in stocks and whippings. An estimated 3,500 convict-leased prisoners in Texas died between 1866 and 1912.

    By Perkinson’s account, Ellis and Cunningham earned as much as $500 per year on every convict’s labor, making at least $500,000 “clear profit” over the term of the lease—a vast fortune in the dollar values of the day. How did it work out for the state? “While most governments expect their penal systems to incur significant expenses,” wrote Perkinson, “Texas’s, for much of the nineteenth century, provided steady revenue, more than $300,000 a year by the early 1880s.” Following the expiration of the Cunningham and Ellis contract, Texas continued leasing prisoners to private interests. Jermaine Thibodeaux, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Texas, told me that from 1884 to 1910, the state sent at least 1,000 prisoners to work on farms, most of which also grew sugar cane, the most valuable crop of the day. The state charged $17 a month per worker in the early 1890s; by 1908, the figure had risen to $31 per month, Thibodeaux said. “The contract-farm arrangement was a boon to local sugar farmers and the state. Both parties got [what] they needed.”

    In 1907, new owners of what would become the Imperial Sugar Company acquired what had been a Cunningham and Ellis plantation and mill; the following year, the state bought the plantation, rebranding it as the Imperial State Prison Farm. In 1910, following a series of newspaper exposés, the Texas legislature formally outlawed convict leasing. After the practice was ended, the state of Texas purchased a number of plantations on which convict leasing had taken place, converting them into state-owned “prison farms,” Caleb McDaniel, an expert in nineteenth-century American history at Rice University, told me.

    Reginald Moore’s research collection via Woodson Research Center/Fondren Library/Rice UniversityPrison laborers working on a sugar plantation in a convict-leasing program, Texas, undated
    Moore would come to know this history intimately. Armed with an ever-accumulating wealth of information about the grim legacy of the sugar industry’s labor practices, he attended countless Sugar Land city bond hearings and petitioned the Texas Historical Commission in hopes of persuading an official body to excavate areas slated for commercial or residential development. With dizzying recall, he reeled off for me lists of old prison buildings, historical preservation regulations, the names of officials he’d alerted, long-hidden facts and figures, obscure names and dates. Fort Bend Independent School District, he said, should have known what it would find when it purchased the land in 2011 for its development. “If y’all are going to [buy and] sell this land,” Moore said, “they”—the victims of the convict-leasing era—“need some type of restitution, reparation, for what they put into it.”

    Moore talked “to anyone who [would] listen to him for the last twenty years at the state level, at the county level, at the city level, at any level possible,” Veronica Sopher, a spokesperson for the Fort Bend School District, told me. His efforts finally prevailed: based on concerns raised by Moore about what might be found, the school district hired an environmental consulting firm to monitor construction at the school site. Nevertheless, Sopher called it a “fluke” that human remains were found because it was so close to the boundary of the property—an effort, perhaps, to give the school district the benefit of the doubt. But it seemed dismissive of those like Moore who had long urged officials to act with more discretion.


    Following the discovery of the “Sugar Land 95,” as the remains became known, Sugar Land officials assembled a task force to offer recommendations to the city on DNA analysis of the remains, burial location, and reinterment. The city’s initial preference was to move them to the Old Imperial Farm Cemetery, a city-run resting ground it oversees that’s roughly a mile away and contains the remains of prisoners and guards who died in the early 1900s at the Central Unit (as the Imperial State Farm prison was later renamed); Moore serves as caretaker of the cemetery.

    The task force, whose members included Moore, McDaniel, and Sopher, wanted the city and school district to reinter them on the Reese site and construct a memorial. “To properly honor [the dead] would be to put them back where you took them out of,” Sam Collins, an adviser to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and member of the task force, told me. But the school district resisted, pointing out that state law prevented it from operating a cemetery.

    Brian Goldman/Goldman PicturesMoore at the Old Imperial Farm Cemetery, Sugar Land, Texas, December 1, 2016
    The task force persisted in its view, however, and in October voted nineteen to one to recommend interring the remains at the Reese site. (Sopher’s was the lone objecting vote.) The district ignored the group, voting instead to stick with the Old Imperial Farm Cemetery. But when the district sought court approval—as it was required to do under state law—the judge denied the request, instead ordering the school board to consult further with members of the community. The school district has complained of rising costs, claiming that having to redesign the entire Reese center could push the project $25 million over budget. (It’s unclear how much the school district has spent so far in litigation.)

    When I read of the judge’s stay last fall, it seemed only a temporary setback. In Sugar Land, the political will to obfuscate history seemed too strong. In January 2017, Allen Bogard, the city manager, told Texas Monthly that there was “not a single facility, road, nor improvement that exists today in the city of Sugar Land that can be traced back to either the convict-lease program or slavery.” Yet the city’s reluctance to acknowledge its past was selective: in September, the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation released the design for its annual Christmas ornament—a replica of a house built in the 1870s by the plantation owner Littleberry Ellis.

    By the time I was growing up in Sugar Land, in the 1990s, the town had become a haven for high-skilled immigrants, thanks in part to the landmark immigration reforms of 1965. Drawn to the Houston area’s booming energy industry, top-tier public schools, and pristine subdivisions with names like Settlers Park and Sugar Mill, my parents and their peers arrived in the 1970s and 1980s to this aspirational dream town. There was little clue at that time in Sugar Land of the dark, subterranean past on which, quite literally, our homes and schools were built.

    Much of what I would come to know of the local history came by way of a state history curriculum that valorized figures like Stephen F. Austin, while underplaying his dogged advocacy for slavery and role in violent displacement of the indigenous Karankawa people, who once populated much of Texas’s Gulf coast. Weekend campouts with the Boy Scouts took me to the bogs, creeks, and mosquito-filled wetlands they once called home. Kitschy festivals and celebrations marking the area’s colonial history, while perhaps well-intended, now seem shocking in their erasures and evasions.

    Today, like much of the Houston metro area, it is among the most diverse, economically flourishing cities in America. Life in Sugar Land is sweet, particularly for the immigrants who flock to it in search of a fresh start and prosperity. With its shopping malls smelling of Cinnabon, twenty-four-screen multiplexes, boisterous town squares, circuitous parks and playgrounds nestled among the bayous and creeks, it is as if the city wants to unburden its new residents of any responsibility for its past. For today’s city elders, a selective amnesia about Sugar Land’s history is convenient for a place that prides itself on offering a bright future.

    But not for K.P. George. In November, George, a member of the school board, became county judge, Fort Bend’s top elected position, and the first Indian-American to occupy the post. After his victory, he recalled being asked how he might feel if one of the recovered bodies had been a relative of his. With his new authority, he brought the county into the negotiations over the remains. But the school district just wanted to get rid of them, George said.

    On February 4, George, Congressman Al Green, and other officials sent a letter to the school trustees asking them to stop construction on the Reese site and to leave the bodies there. The signees attended a school board meeting in late February. “We told them… you need to do the fair thing for these human beings,” George told me.

    Luck appears to be on the side of Moore and his allies. The school district and the county are negotiating a deal that would allow the county to build and maintain a memorial park and cemetery on the site where the bodies were found. Such an agreement would seem stymied by a Texas law that prevents a county of Ford Bend’s size from operating a cemetery, but in late May, the state legislature passed a bill that would allow for Fort Bend County to operate a cemetery. Currently awaiting Governor Greg Abbott’s signature, the new law would finally allow the county to begin the process of reinterring the bodies at the school site and constructing a memorial.

    Reginald Moore’s research collection via Woodson Research Center/Fondren Library/Rice UniversityProcessing sugar cane on a Texas prison farm, undated

    On my day out with Moore, we drove past the now-defunct Imperial Sugar complex that had absorbed the Cunningham and Ellis plantation. Moore showed me one of the factory’s old buildings used for refining, for which he helped obtain a historical preservation order. In 2012, Imperial Sugar was acquired by the Louis Dreyfus food-and-agriculture conglomerate. The company’s official history makes no mention of convict leasing.

    The old factory sits at the base of a tiny peninsula, abutted on its northern rim by one of the countless bends in Oyster Creek, which winds its way through much of the Sugar Land. Moore drove us up and down, back and forth, across the creek. White prison guards once lived along one side of the creek, across from the slave quarters of old, Moore told me. Today, this land is a mix of older, wooden houses and new refurbished ones. He pointed out a special education center that once was a segregated school for black children. Later, we passed the prison units where he had worked.

    Despite the strides he has made toward preserving the Reese site, Moore knows that the expunging of the past continues. Developers looking to build in Sienna Plantation, a nearby master-planned community, told him they had found evidence of prisoner remains but simply “pushed all through that.” Localities eager for development often circumvent preservation laws by entering into agreements with private entities that do not have to follow such laws, he explained.

    Jay Jenkins, an attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition who has worked with Moore and also served on the task force, told me that Moore’s had been a voice in the wilderness for years. “They didn’t regard him as serious,” he said, “and the discovery of the bodies changed that dramatically.” To McDaniel, Moore is an exemplary figure. In his experience, much of the foundational work in African-American scholarship is indebted to people like Moore, calling attention to histories neglected by the academy.

    In Texas today, prison labor is still a multimillion-dollar industry, and roughly a third of prisoners in the state are black. It remains one of five states where regular prison jobs are unpaid. Convict leasing, Jenkins told me, is the crucial link between the history of slavery and the present system of mass incarceration: “All the capitalist concerns, all the cruelty, of that stuff was baked into our carceral system during this period of convict leasing.” Building over the bodies denies that reality.

    Moore seemed to waver between a sense of long-delayed gratification and lingering anger. “Now when you want to tell the truth,” he said, “it’s bad for business.”

    Reginald Moore’s research collection via Woodson Research Center/Fondren Library/Rice UniversitySugar cane field on a Texas prison farm, undated
    With thanks to Amanda Focke, Assistant Head of the Fondren Library’s Woodson Research Center at Rice University, for information and research on archival photos from Reginald Moore’s collection.

    June 4, 2019, 4:03 pm
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  45. AlternativeFactsRule

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    The fuck?
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