Minicon Music

Apr. 23rd, 2019 12:42 pm
jbru: Peter Hentges (Default)
[personal profile] jbru

I answered the Minicon poll and it reminded me of something I wanted to talk some more about.

[personal profile] minnehaha K wrote some about this as well, and one of the things I missed at this year's Minicon was music. The scheduled performances were good, but the music circle just didn't happen for me. Here's my take on why:


  1. The designated location for the music circle was a programming room. This separated it from the room parties and the general flow of people in the convention once programming ended for the day. This kept the audience away.

  2. The designated location was open to all. While everyone deserves their chance to make their first performance in the circle, (that's how we make new friends!), the nature of such a circle kept the strongest performers away.

To expand on these points:


One of the experiences of music at Minicon has been wandering from one venue to the next and hearing a song drift out into the passage. This happened in the Consuite of the Old Minicons, where music happened across the hall. It also occurred in those hallways as people moved from one room party to the next. It happened in Newer Minicons between room parties as well.

As people heard music and stopped in, they may have had a moment of joy and moved on. Or they might have sat for a song or three while they finished a beverage. For a few, they became entranced and stayed and next thing they knew, the morning light was streaming in the window.

The function space designated as the place for music at this most recent Minicon meant that people needed to make the music circle a destination. They had to remove themselves from the rest of the convention for a period of time in order to dedicate themselves to this experience. For some, doing that would be an obvious choice, but requiring it for all means that many miss out on the serendipity that was possible before.

Given the current hotel, I don't have an easy solution to this issue.

The Open Circle

There is a long-standing tension between the open music circle and the invite-only circle. Some of the characteristics of the music circle take time to learn in order to build on the current circle and avoid breaking it. I, for example, spent a year coming to music circles with my bodhran but playing it only in the audience space and only with a thick fleece shirt draped over it to muffle my playing. I tried to take the good-natured ribbing that accompanies the arrival of a bodhran in stride once I took a seat in the circle.

When a novice performer (which can be very different than a novice musician) has a turn in the circle, the results can be exciting or they can disrupt the flow of the rest of the performances. For the performers themselves, a completely open circle can quickly become so large that the time between their turns becomes tedium.

The combination of that extended time between strong performers and the breaking of flow that so often accompanies those unfamiliar with the expectations of this kind of performance results in the strongest performers either staying away or finding smaller groups more to their liking. In addition, the programmed music schedule this year meant that some that would have joined a circle were tired from their performances and unable or unwilling to take on more performance.

A possible solution

One approach to solve at least this issue would be to have an open circle with designated hosts. Someone who decides who fills the available chairs and can gently let people know when they should take a break or make room for someone else. The goal would be to have a critical mass of good performers and a structured way to introduce new members over time.

I envision this working a bit like the Kaffeklatch and other space-limited events this year. People interested in joining the circle would sign up ahead of time. The lead host would coordinate with music programming to find attending performers who would like to lead the circle each night. Then the individual hosts could fill in additional chairs from those that signed up. Care would be taken to avoid a circle of 12 drummers, for example, and would have the goal of including new faces for at least a time. The host could then replace someone that isn't fitting in for one reason or another with another person from the sign-up or even leave a chair empty for a time if that's the best thing.

Musicians who would like to join, but missed signing up would be encouraged to wait for the next night or to play along quietly in a supportive role behind the circle. That would give a host a chance to evaluate how they fit into the circle and either choose to include them later if someone leaves or to start on another night.

There is no perfect solution, of course, and someone will feel left out no matter what happens. The key is to define what the goal is and move toward that goal as best we can. In my mind, the goal is that as many people as possible enjoy music circles while providing the opportunity to discover new performers and friends. I think the idea of hosted circles allows us to approach that goal.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

Because we're apparently having to do this now, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is announcing herself as the first candidate to pledge not to use the products of foreign espionage efforts against the United States as campaign materials.

No, this is actually a thing. Because Donald Goddamn Trump, his mobbish lawyers, and a host of top Republican lawmakers have mounted a spirited defense of using materials gained by hostile foreign election-tamperers in the ways the Mueller report lays out the Donald Trump campaign attempted.

“Russia is a foreign adversary of the United States, and we all must learn serious lessons from their cyber attack on our election systems in 2016. Russia will be back, and it is troubling that President Trump and his top aides are not only failing to hold them accountable but actually normalizing the idea of ‘taking information from Russians’ for political gain,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

So we've got Sen. Lindsey Graham and Trump TV-lawyer Rudy Giuliani making the rounds arguing that because special counsel Robert Mueller didn't prosecute members of the Trump campaign for soliciting assistance from Russia or for attempting to use the products of foreign espionage for Republican gain, that makes those things legal now. And in response, the Democratic contenders seek to distinguish themselves by pledging that no, they won't be working as tools of foreign espionage and propaganda efforts during their own runs for office BECAUSE GODDAMNED DUH, YOU MALEVOLENT TREASONOUS TRASH-PILES.

Because country still comes before party in a non-authoritarian, democratic state. And, apparently, that needs to now be affirmed, because Fox News hosts and Republican lawmakers are so devoted to protecting every last thing Trump does, regardless of propriety, that they are now arguing against even that much.

This will matter, too. This will come up. Because, as Rudy Giuliani laid out on the Sunday shows, "Who's to say it's even illegal?" The Trump-Pence campaign isn't just defending its myriad contacts with Russian would-be allies in 2016, but is insisting that there's no actual law preventing it from doing the exact same thing in the next election as well.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

House Democrats set 5:00 PM ET today as the deadline for the IRS to turn over Donald Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, but don't hold your breath. The Treasury Department, headed by Steve Mnuchin, has assumed responsibility for the request and has already declined to turn over the records, but without issuing a flat-out rejection. In response, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal sent the IRS a letter stating that failure to fulfill the request by later today would be "interpreted as a denial of my request.” 

Neal has the statutory authority to request Trump's tax returns under a 1924 law stating that the treasury secretary "shall" turn over any tax returns requested by the Ways and Means chairperson. Republicans repeatedly made use of the law during Barack Obama's presidency as they sought to make the case that the IRS had unfairly targeted conservative groups. It hadn't, but that didn't stop GOP lawmakers from obtaining the tax returns of several dozen organizations and publicly releasing them. 

But what the statute dictates and how Republicans have wielded it in the past are of no concern to Trump, who truly believes he's above the law as a sitting pr*sident. Trump's White House and personal lawyers have sought to block every single oversight effort made by House Democrats, including suing House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings to block Trump's accounting firm from releasing Trump’s financial records to Congress. Cummings had submitted a friendly subpoena to the firm, Mazars USA, which had indicated it would cooperate with congressional investigators.

Democrats' efforts to secure six years of Trump's tax returns is almost surely headed toward a subpoena fight as well. Remember this:


This I say with considerable conviction: the release of Trump's tax returns would be the end of his presidency.

— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) April 9, 2019

We Resist: Day 824

Apr. 23rd, 2019 12:15 pm
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Posted by Melissa McEwan

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures (plus the occasional non-Republican who obliges us to resist their nonsense, too, like we don't have enough to worry about) is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Late yesterday and earlier today by me: An Observation and No No No No No No No and Primarily Speaking.

Here are some more things in the news today...

As I've said before, I tend to avoid sharing Donald Trump's prolific tweetshitz here, but, occasionally, there is something worthy of comment. He really went off on a tear this morning, and this entry was particularly notable:

Trump is braying that the New York Times should "get down on their knees and beg for forgiveness" on the same day they published an execrable mess in which a Democratic former White House Press Secretary argues that Democrats should let Trump be continue to be president unimpeded.

I really hope the rest of the political press is paying attention. There is no sycophancy adequate enough to satiate Donald Trump. He is an abuser to his core, and he will continue to abuse the press, no matter how much they pander to him. If they write that he is the best president the U.S. has ever had, he will rage that they did not say he is the best president the world has ever had.

Abuse is the point. Discrediting them among his supporters will never cease. And indulging him is precisely the wrong response to that.

He's an unpopular aspiring authoritarian. Treat him accordingly.

Tom Hamburger at the Washington Post: White House Instructs Official to Ignore Democratic Subpoena over Security Clearances.
A former White House personnel security director has been instructed by the White House not to show up Tuesday for questioning by the House Oversight Committee.

The move appears to be the latest effort by the Trump administration to push back against congressional inquiries targeting the White House, which have proliferated since Democrats took control of the House in January.

White House deputy counsel Michael M. Purpura wrote a letter Monday asking the former security director, Carl Kline, not to show up as the committee had requested. Kline is now working at the Defense Department.

In a letter to Kline's lawyer obtained by The Washington Post, Purpura wrote that a committee subpoena asking Kline to appear "unconstitutionally encroaches on fundamental executive branch interests."

In a separate letter Monday, Kline's attorney, Robert Driscoll, told the panel that his client would adhere to the White House recommendation.
"Fuck your checks. Fuck your balances. Fuck you." — Donald J. Trump, probably.

Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky at Politico: Trump Isn't Just Reversing Obama's Foreign Policies; He's Making It Impossible for His Successor to Go Back to Them. "The administration is focused like a laser beam on irreversibly burning U.S. bridges to Iran and administering last rites to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And if you look at the administration's actual policies, it's clear they aren't just meant to overturn President Barack Obama's actions, but also to create points of no return — so that successor administrations cannot revert to past approaches even if they want to. If the administration succeeds — and it's well on its way to doing so — it will have fundamentally damaged U.S. national interests for years to come."

That is what I mean when I say that Trump "leverages the power of the presidency to destroy our democracy as swiftly and irreparably as he can."

[Content Note: Sexual violence]

That, of course, is a direct rebuke of Hillary Clinton's foreign policy agenda. Sob.

Speaking of Hillary Clinton... [CN: Misogyny] Alex Roarty and Katie Glueck at McClatchy: 'There's Still a Lot of Sexism': Dem Leaders Frustrated by Double Standards Facing Female Candidates.
Stephanie Schriock shudders when she remembers how critics reacted to Elizabeth Warren's 2020 campaign announcement, sharply questioning whether she was likable enough to become president.

It's not a question Schriock thinks even the most cantankerous male candidates face.

"Elizabeth Warren spent the first week of her presidential campaign battling back whether she was likable enough," said Schriock, president of EMILY's List, a group that supports Democratic women in favor of abortion rights. "Now, I worked in the Senate, and I have seen Senator [Bernie] Sanders. And I'm just going to tell you, he's not that likable."

Schriock's frustration with perceived double standards for women candidates is shared by many influential Democrats, who argue that their party's half-dozen female presidential candidates have been repeatedly hindered by unfair treatment in the early stages of the campaign. In interviews, a group of leading Democrats sought to sound the alarm about what they regard as embedded sexism in the 2020 primary — both from their own voters and in some media coverage — that has resulted in a tilted playing field.

"I feel frustrated because I don't feel that the women candidates are getting the same kind of coverage," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Some female candidates receive short-lived attention when they roll out a sweeping set of policy proposals, the Washington Democrat added, "Whereas candidates do something like get on a countertop and that gets covered for days."

She was referring to Beto O'Rourke, whose penchant for standing on tabletops while campaigning has made headlines. Jayapal, Schriock, and other Democrats interviewed emphasized that they didn't mean to direct their criticism at male candidates, most of whom they described as talented and qualified.

But they did want to take aim at the broader cultural dynamics that they think have tipped the scales in favor of these men — even as a record-number of serious female candidates compete for the nomination.
Gee, it's almost like it really wasn't just that Hillary Clinton was uniquely unlikeable after all. Huh! Who could have predicted.

[CN: Islamophobia] Erin Banco at the Daily Beast: Sen. Lindsey Graham Bewilders Ivanka Trump's Women's Conference with Terrorism Rant. "While on a trip to Côte d'Ivoire last week to help Ivanka Trump promote women's access to capital in Africa, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned of religious wars with 'radical ideology' that would be 'hell on earth for women' if they are not 'destroyed.' 'It's the enemy of mankind, not just the United States,' Graham said, of the theoretical invaders, according to a recording provided to The Daily Beast. 'Some of our soldiers will be needed, but not a lot. Most of the fighting will be done by people in the region. I promise you the enemy will lose because very few mothers or fathers want to turn their daughters over to ISIS, al Qaeda, or any other group.' As the senator spoke, confused attendees could be heard on the recording asking each other in hushed tones what he was talking about."

[CN: Rightwing violence; video may autoplay at link] Staff at CBS News: Militia Leader Allegedly Told FBI They Were Training to Assassinate Obama, Hillary Clinton. "The leader of a militia group who's been detaining migrants near the U.S.-Mexico border allegedly told the FBI his militia was training to assassinate former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Democratic donor George Soros. Larry Hopkins, head of the United Constitutional Patriots, is charged with possession a firearm as a felon and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted." JFC.

[CN: Sexual abuse] Staff at NBC New York: Thousands of Boy Scout Leaders Face New Child Sex Allegations; Names Expected to Be Released Today. "Thousands of Boy Scouts of America leaders face new charges of sexual abuse, claims that are expected to be revealed in detail Tuesday in New York and New Jersey. Names of nearly 200 of the accused are also expected to be released. The allegations came to light Monday night and a group of alleged victims was expected to testify about the widespread pattern abuse within the scouting organization later Tuesday. The victims' attorney, Jeff Anderson, called it a system of denial and cover-ups. He claims the Boy Scouts have files on child abusers within their ranks dating back to the 1940s." Unfathomable. I take up space in solidarity with the victims of this vile systemic abuse.

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

cheesecake for a sonnet

Apr. 23rd, 2019 01:02 pm
redbird: closeup of me drinking tea, in a friend's kitchen (Default)
[personal profile] redbird
On my way home from the library today, I stopped for soup dumplings and to see if I could win a free mini-cheesecake:

To celebrate Shakespeare Day, 7Ate9 bakery is giving away mini-cheesecakes if you can recite "your favorite sonnet"; the sign outside the bakery on Saturday warned "a soliloquy is not a sonnet." They also have cheesecakes decorated with a drawing of Shakespeare; for Pi Day last month, the decoration was π to as many decimal digits as would fit on a four-inch cheesecake.

I went to the bakery on Saturday to buy a chocolate cheesecake, saw the sign about a free cheesecake, and decided to try reciting a sonnet from memory. I got about four lines into the one that begins "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun," with a bit of friendly prompting, before giving up. The chef encouraged me to come back and try again later; when I walked into the store today, she asked if I was there to try again. I said yes, but a different sonnet, which once again I knew by first line rather than number. I recited Sonnet 116, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds," and the chef invited me to choose a mini-cheesecake.

The offer is good through today, in case anyone reading this is going to be in that part of Somerville (Highland Avenue, near the Armory) this afternoon.
[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

It's only Tuesday, but the New York Times has already published two front-page stories this week depicting Democrats as being tied in a political pretzel over the issue of Donald Trump's possible impeachment following the public release of the devastating report delivered by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The party faces deep "divisions" and a major "quandary," according to the Times. The daily has hardly been alone in its near-total focus on Democrats post-Mueller report. Trump is the leader of the other party, and his outlandish behavior reflects badly on it. But after the 448-page findings on Trump obstruction and collusion were released, much of the press immediately went into process coverage, and the Mueller report quickly became about Democratic strategies for 2020 and all the "problems" the report now posed for candidates and the party as a whole.

This is a defense mechanism that the news media is using in order to shy away from the uncomfortable truth that the president of the United States, who welcomed Russia's election interference and tried to thwart a federal investigation into his administration, may be a criminal. That's not a conversation the Beltway press, already under attack from conservatives for "liberal media bias," wants to have on a daily basis.

There's no question that the issue of impeachment is an important one, and whether Democrats will embrace that strategy deserves plenty of media attention. It's a crucial topic that has sparked lots of passionate, healthy debate. That's all good. But since the release of the Mueller report, news consumers have basically been missing the second half of a central equation: What about Republicans?

It's quite strange to watch. And journalists have been doing this for an entire year, suggesting Trump's possible impeachment is a problem for … Democrats. In doing so, they're failing to ask Republicans the painfully obvious questions: What do you think is an impeachable offense? Does the report portray Trump as an honorable man? Did Trump's active attempt to shut down the Russia investigation reflect the values of today's Republican Party? Should all campaigns now actively seek out opposition research from foreign adversaries? Do you agree that Mueller's federal investigators are guilty of treason, as Trump suggests?

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

The Trump administration has considered jailing migrant children at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, the New York Times reports, in a proposal that apparently “has not gained traction, perhaps because of the optics of housing young people adjacent to terrorism suspects.” Sure, because it’s the optics, not the overseas jailing of children escaping violence, that’s the issue here.

Officials discussed the plan earlier this year in their effort to figure out how to jail more people in Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention. Congress set a limit to how many immigrants ICE can detain—over 45,200—but ICE commonly defies Congress, goes beyond that number, and just figures out the money part later. “ICE is currently housing 50,223 migrants,” the New York Times continued, “one of the highest numbers on record.” 

Guantanamo, which jailed thousands of asylum-seekers in the past under direction of Attorney General Bill Barr, came up in the discussions as a way for an unleashed ICE to continue boosting its numbers. “While there were no ‘immediate’ plans to house migrant children at Guantánamo Bay, the Defense Department is attempting to identify military bases that might be used for that purpose, a department spokesman, Tom Crosson, said on Monday.”

Where could this idea have come from? In what’s surely just a coincidence, anti-immigrant leader Mark Krikorian recently tweeted, “Why not Guantanamo? It's a big place,” in response to another report on the administration looking for more space to jail kids. Stephen Miller, the White House aide and white supremacist behind the administration’s most hateful policies, has ties to Krikorian’s group, once saying “that speaking with the organization’s research director was ‘one of the great pleasures of my professional life.’”

Truthfully, immigrant and human rights activists have already criticized existing prison camps in the U.S. as “Gitmo for kids,” in particular the now-closed prison camp for migrant kids in Tornillo, Texas. But as that one was shut down earlier this year, another one in Homestead, Florida, rose in its place. When three congressional members recently tried to visit Homestead to conduct their oversight responsibilities, they were blocked, in violation of law. 

There are more humane alternatives to detention, like the Obama-era Family Case Management Program. “Instead of keeping children in detention centers with their parents, families in certain cities were released and monitored by social workers, who helped them find lawyers, housing, and transportation, and made sure they attended their court hearings.” Ninety-nine percent of participants, Vox reported, showed up to their court hearings. The Trump administration shut down the program in 2017.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

The return of border militias in response to Donald Trump’s fearmongering about a “crisis” on the U.S. border with Mexico—and the threats, intimidation, and violence that these militias bring—is not just an accident. Indeed, these militias have played key roles over the past decade-plus in stirring up the politics that put Trump in the White House and help keep him there now.

The new border watchers, particularly the United Constitutional Patriots in New Mexico who have been harassing asylum seekers, are very much in the historic mold of the militias who have prowled the southern desert for the past two decades. Fittingly, the leader of the UCP was arrested over the weekend for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Where did these border militias come from? What are they really about? And why do they have such a history of criminality and death attached to them?

Let’s explain their history.

The idea of a “citizens border watch” grew out of the longtime embrace by the radical right of vigilante violence, a la the Ku Klux Klan. Indeed, the very first such operation was organized in 1977-79 by David Duke and Tom Metzger.

The concept gained new life in the 1990s with the rise of the small-cell militia concept as part of a larger “leaderless resistance” against the federal government. The main progenitor of the concept was a California man named Glenn Spencer, who ran an outfit called American Patrol that claimed Latinos wanted to reclaim the U.S. Southwest for Mexico as part of “Reconquista.”

American Patrol's map of the 'Reconquista.'

Spencer moved his operations to Arizona in the early 2000s and renamed it American Border Patrol. That was when things started to take off for him and his border-militia concept. Taking Spencer’s cue, Casey Nethercott, another Arizona resident, started a border-watch operation called Ranch Rescue. They developed legal problems in short order.

Nethercott, who had done prison time in California for assault in the 1990s, and some of his fellow Ranch Rescue members in 2003 assaulted two Salvadoran migrants who had crossed the border on foot and wound up on a ranch where the nativist border watchers operated. The migrants were held at gunpoint, and one of them was pistol-whipped and attacked by a Rottweiler. With the assistance of the SPLC, the migrants sued their attackers and won a $1 million civil judgment against Ranch Rescue.

Nethercott eventually had a tense standoff with Border Patrol agents at another ranch property; when FBI agents tried to arrest him for his role in that incident two weeks later, they wound up shooting the white supremacist who was accompanying him at the time.

Indeed, while the phrase “rule of law” even today is often bandied about by the remaining bands of vigilante nativists, the record demonstrates that this was a peculiarly flexible concept for many of the border watchers and their associates.

Primarily Speaking

Apr. 23rd, 2019 10:15 am
[syndicated profile] shakespearessister_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of a cartoon version of me wearing the word COOL as glasses, pictured in front of a patriotic stars-and-stripes graphic, to which I've added text reading: 'The Democratic Primary 2020: Let's do this thing.'

Welcome to another edition of Primarily Speaking, because presidential primaries now begin fully one million years before the election!

Senator Bernie Sanders continues to disgrace himself with his responses to questions about his newly-disclosed millionaire status. At a CNN town hall last night, he was asked by a college student how he would "respond to concerns that your financial status undermines your authority as someone who has railed against millionaires and billionaires." He started smirking even before she finished asking the question, then gave a sarcastic, condescending answer.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Senator Sanders, you recently released 10 years of your tax returns.


CUOMO: Let's talk about that topic. We'll start with Ellen Burstein. She's a freshman at Harvard and grew up in Massachusetts. What's your question for the senator?

QUESTION: Senator Sanders, thank you for being here. Your tax returns recently revealed that you are, in fact, a millionaire. How would you respond to concerns that your financial status undermines your authority as someone who has railed against millionaires and billionaires?

SANDERS: Okay. Well, that's a good question. And here it is, all right? You ready to have me plead guilty? I plead guilty to have written a book which was an international best-seller, okay? And when you write a book that makes it to the top of the New York Times best-seller list, you make money. And I made money. I suspect that in a couple of years my salary will go back to $173,000, which is what a member of Congress gets.

But I think your question should ask, well, now that you wrote a book, you made money, is that going to mean that you change your policies? Well, you're looking at somebody who not only voted against Trump's disastrous tax plan — 83 percent of the benefits going to the top 1 percent — but I have and will continue in this campaign to fight for progressive taxation.

In other words, whether it is Bernie Sanders or your family or anybody else in America, when we have so much income and wealth inequality, when the people on top are doing phenomenally well, yeah, if you are doing very, very well in our economy, you should be paying your fair share of taxes.

We will raise those taxes for the upper income people. We will do away with the tax loopholes and the tax breaks that large private corporations currently receive. Do you happen to know — anybody here happen to know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year? Zero. All right? Owned by the wealthiest guy in America. That is an absurd tax system, a regressive tax system. And if elected president, I will change that tax system.

CUOMO: All right, two quick follow ups. One, you said you expect your salary to go back down to—

SANDERS: Unless I write another best-seller. I don't know.

[audience laughter]

CUOMO: Or, who makes more than that? What does the President of the United States make?

SANDERS: You're right. What does he make? I don't even—

CUOMO: $400,000. So are you saying that you're not going to win?

[audience laughter]

SANDERS: No, I'm not saying that.

CUOMO: All right. I just want to be clear.

SANDERS: All that I'm saying — you know, all that I'm saying is I don't think anyone seriously believes that because I wrote a best-selling book, it made money—

CUOMO: It changed you?

SANDERS: —that I've changed my views, and you'll now hear me saying, gee, maybe we want to give tax breaks to millionaires. I don't think you've heard me say that.
The essential argument that socialist senator Bernie Sanders is making is: "I'm a capitalist, and I made money in a capitalist economy, and it shouldn't matter how I made that money, because it didn't influence my policy platform."

That, friends, would be the exact same argument that Hillary Clinton made when Sanders railed endlessly about her making money from speeches to Goldman Sachs. And when she made that argument, he found it absolutely intolerable.

I honestly don't understand how his supporters cannot see that fundamental hypocrisy and be embarrassed that they ever defended this guy, who is a transparent phony.

Also: His habit of telling people that they're asking the wrong questions, because he doesn't have a good answer and wants to misdirect away from their question, is colossally shitty, and I am very tired of it.

* * *

[Content Note: Video may autoplay at link] Senator Elizabeth Warren also appeared at a CNN town hall last night, and she had a message to girls who might want to run for office someday: "That's what girls do." Right on.

[CN: Video may autoplay at link] Warren further used the town hall to double-down on her call for Donald Trump to be impeached: "If any other human being in this country had done what's documented in the Mueller report, they would be arrested and put in jail. ...If there are people in the House and the Senate who want to say that's what a president can do when the president is being investigated for his own wrongdoings or when a foreign government attacks our country, then they should have to take that vote and live with it."

Professor Policy also released what would be a truly transformative higher education plan yesterday: "Universal Free Public College and Cancellation of Student Loan Debt." ICYMI in comments of yesterday's thread, Aphra_Behn has some great analysis of Warren's plan here and here.

Joining Warren in supporting impeachment is Senator Kamala Harris: "'I believe Congress should take the steps toward impeachment,' Harris said at a CNN town hall in Manchester, N.H. While Republicans would likely defend Trump out of 'partisan adherence,' Harris added, 'that does not mean that the process should not take hold.' 'It is very clear that there is a lot of good evidence pointing to obstruction,' she said."

Harris also vowed action on gun reform if she is elected president, saying "she would take executive action enacting sweeping gun control measures if Congress fails to send comprehensive legislation to her desk in her first 100 days."

Julián Castro, meanwhile, "vowed to create an office within the Justice Department to address 'racially discriminatory policing' if he wins in 2020. 'I will demilitarize police departments & decrease overreliance on policing to keep communities safe,' Castro, who previously served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama, tweeted on Monday afternoon. 'I will create an office within the DOJ to address racially discriminatory policing, hold offending officers & departments accountable, and increase unconscious bias training.'"

Senator Cory Booker is leading the pack in endorsements. He has almost triple the score of Bernie Sanders. And that's not a meaningless statistic: It's indicative of whether a potential president will have the support of his party to get shit done.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg has the distinction of being "the only high-level contender" who "is actively accepting donations from Washington lobbyists." He's also being thrown a big Hollywood fundraiser "hosted by gay Hollywood A-list," so he won't be hurting for cash anytime soon.

I wonder, however, if some of the people jumping on the Buttigieg bandwagon might not want to take just a minute to find out a little more about him first, because his record as mayor has [CN: racism; classism] some pretty significant blemishes on it.

Also, this is very bad:

Vindicated the values that animate our polities? LOL shut up. You're left of Donald Trump — that's values enough for me at this point; now give me the details of how you plan to govern, pal.

It really takes some chutzpah to be running for president as a 37-year-old mayor of a small city in Indiana and assert that you don't need to put out any policy details that show how you might govern as president of the nation, or give some indication that you even have the ability to do the job, and present it as though it's a kindness to voters who are too daft to grasp policy. Woo.

Governor Jay Inslee is petitioning for the DNC to hold a debate dedicated to climate change, which is his signature campaign issue. That's a good idea. At the same time, however, he is [CN: video may autoplay at link] meeting resistance on the ground in Iowa to even the basic idea that climate change demands urgency: "As his disaster tour of Hamburg brings him inside Risky Business Auto Repair, Inslee comes face to face with the climate change pushback. 'No, no, no!' says owner Ron Perry, when asked if he agrees that Hamburg's flooding is a result of climate change. 'I blame it totally on the Army Corps of Engineers. And so does everybody else around here.'" Well, shit.

Oh dear: Beto O'Rourke's campaign seems to be in trouble: "Two top campaign advisers to Beto O’Rourke are no longer working for his campaign. O'Rourke's campaign confirmed that advisers Becky Bond and Zack Malitz, who were instrumental in launching his presidential campaign in March, are no longer among the paid staff. ...O'Rourke's campaign downplayed the departures, saying Bond and Malitz held 'temporary one-month launch positions' and that they remain part of the team, but as volunteers." Yikes.

Polls mean absolutely nothing at this point, but O'Rourke isn't polling well and continues to slide. As does Joe Biden. Ouch.

In fact, Biden's announcement, which was supposed to be tomorrow, may now be pushed back. My recommendation is that he pushes it back to "never." That's just some free advice for ya, Joe! You're welcome!

John Hickenlooper is still definitely running for president.

Talk about these things! Or don't. Whatever makes you happy. Life is short.
[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

On Tuesday, Air Force veteran MJ Hegar announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination to challenge GOP Sen. John Cornyn in Texas. Hegar is the first major Democratic candidate to jump in the race, but, as we’ll discuss, she may not be the last.

Hegar ran for the House last year against GOP Rep. John Carter in Texas’s 31st Congressional District and held the longtime incumbent to a 51-48 win in a seat that Trump had carried 54-41 two years before. This was the first time in decades that Democrats had made a serious effort to win this district, which is located in Austin’s northern suburbs, and the DCCC unsuccessfully tried to recruit her to run against Carter again in 2020.

One thing that impressed Democrats last cycle was Hegar’s very strong fundraising. She took in over $5 million for her 2018 campaign thanks in large part to a strong web video that stared the candidate talking about the challenges she overcame in life. That ad, titled “Doors,” featured Hegar describing growing up in an abusive household and becoming an Air Force pilot before she recounted how she saved her passengers after her medevac helicopter was shot down by the Taliban and sued the Pentagon over their now-defunct policy that prevented women from serving in ground combat positions.

Hegar kicked off her Senate campaign with a new web video that recounted her life and campaign (and featured a cameo from comedian Patton Oswalt). She concluded by hitting Cornyn, who dubbed himself “Big John” in a 2008 web ad that went viral for a very different reason, by declaring, “He calls himself ‘Big John,’ but he shrinks out of the way while Mitch McConnell gets in the way of anything actually getting done in our government.” She went on to call “Big John” out for “shrinking out of the way again while they try and take away protections for those of us with pre-existing health conditions.”

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

Former White House personnel security director Carl Kline was subpoenaed to appear on Tuesday for questioning by the House Oversight Committee. However, the White House has issued a letter to Kline ordering him not to show up. Kline’s attorney has written to Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings to say that Kline will follow the order from Trump and refuse to appear.

The move to block congressional investigations into how security clearances were handed out at the White House is the latest effort by Donald Trump to assert the power to ignore both Congress and the law. Not only has Trump instructed Treasury Department chief Steven Mnuchin to ignore a legal request for his tax records, but he has also filed an entirely unprecedented lawsuit against a congressional committee to halt the release of his financial records, 

As the Washington Post reports, Cummings issued a subpoena for Kline to appear earlier in April after ongoing reports that the Trump White House had regularly ignored the recommendations of security experts and extended top-secret security clearances to members of Trump’s staff—including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner—despite their known risks and repeated failures to disclose conflicts.

Kline’s attorney wrote that he was declining to appear because he had instructions from “two masters from two equal branches of government” and that Kline would “follow the instructions of the one that employs him.” There are at least two big issues with that. First, Kline no longer works at the White House. Second, the subpoena from Congress was a subpoena, not a request. There is no such thing as an executive un-poena—nothing that Trump or anyone on his staff can say or do has any legal bearing on Kline’s duty to appear in response to a congressional subpoena.

But not only is there a big problem with Kline’s reaction, but there’s an equal issue with the way the Post is reporting the story. The headline for the article indicates “White House instructs official to ignore Democratic subpoena.” Except this isn’t a “Democratic subpoena.” There is no such thing as a Democratic subpoena. This is a lawfully issued congressional subpoena on a matter of national security. By reducing this to a political squabble, the Post report isn’t just playing into the idea that this is a tit-for-tat battle between political parties—it’s overlooking a genuine threat to the nation.

Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 · 4:48:21 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

It appears that Chairman Cummings is not going to allow this to stand.


Cummings on Kline defying the subpoena: "I intend to consult with House Counsel and Committee Members about scheduling a vote on contempt."

— Sam Stein (@samstein) April 23, 2019

[syndicated profile] roger_ebert_feed

Posted by Brian Tallerico

Thumb chambers production still 1

Netflix’s “Chambers” feels like the offspring of their hit shows “13 Reasons Why” and “The Haunting of Hill House.” It has the young adult mystery of the former and the creepy supernatural vibe of the latter. I suppose the teen target audience may be more patient with it than I was, but I bailed after four very long hours in which I took a variation on the note “This should have just been a movie” about a dozen times. The abundance of programming on Netflix and other streaming services has clearly a reached a point when pitches that could have made solid 100-minute movies are being stretched out to entire TV seasons. Not only does this allow you to see the flaws in something derivative like “Chambers” but it kills the sense of atmosphere and pacing that a show like this needs to survive. There’s nothing less scary than utter boredom.

Sasha (Sivan Alyra Rose) has a heart attack on the stormy night that she’s losing her virginity. She awakens to find that she has someone else’s ticker in her chest, which brings her into the life of the girl who died to keep Sasha alive. Not only does she meet the late Becky’s parents (Tony Goldwyn and Uma Thurman), but she increasingly seems to be taking her place, moving into Becky’s spot at a private school, and hanging with her friends and brother. Of course, it’s not long before Sasha seems to be “channeling” Becky, tying a knot she didn’t know how to tie and hearing the Stone Roses song that Becky listened to in her head. She not only starts to convince herself that she is at least partially possessed by Becky, but that there’s something suspicious about her death.

There’s a lot to unpack here. When Sasha first gets to her new private school, the camera lingers over a pretty offensive use of Native American imagery for a school pride banner, and one hopes that “Chambers” is going to become a commentary on appropriation. After all, Sasha literally takes someone else’s heart and then sort of becomes her. It’s fertile ground for a look at privilege and the impact of environment on young people. Is Sasha becoming more like Becky because of something supernatural/biological or because she’s driving around in her car and attending her fancy school?

Sadly, “Chambers” isn’t smart enough to dig into the material in an interesting way. It’s too concerned with jump scares and long scenes about what might have happened to Becky. The success of a show like this comes in how it balances character development with meting out new twists to the narrative – look to “Hill House” for how to do that perfectly. The pacing is off here in every single episode. Sasha isn’t an interesting character and poor Uma Thurman seems like she signed up for a much more interesting show about grief. She’s doing a lot with very little. And it would have been a fascinating supporting turn in the movie that “Chambers” should have been, one that pumps instead of suffering from the television version of low blood pressure.

Four episodes screened for review

[syndicated profile] balloon_juice_feed

Posted by David Anderson

North Carolina Republicans have introduced a Medicaid Expansion bill. It is not a non-waiver expansion. Instead, it wants work requirements, wellness requirements and premium payments of 2% of income for beneficiaries who earn between 50% and 138% Federal Poverty Level. We know that general wellness programs do nothing but add administratively complexity when applied to the employer sponsored universe. We know that work requirements are paperwork requirements that increase compliance costs and reduce enrollment without actually advancing the core purpose of Medicaid.

I want to focus on premiums. Here is the language from the bill:

SECTION 4. Participant contributions. – NC Health Care for Working Families
39 program participants shall pay an annual premium, billed monthly, that is set at two percent (2%) of the participant’s household income. Participant contributions shall be utilized to fund the program as required by Section 7 of this act. Failure of a program participant to make a premium contribution within 90 days of its due date shall result in the suspension of the program participant from the program unless that program participant shows that he or she is exempt from the premium requirements prior to the expiration of that 90-day period. An individual who was suspended from the program for nonpayment of the monthly premium may reactivate coverage if that individual meets the eligibility requirements and pays the total amount in previously unpaid premiums owed by the individual.

Collecting these premiums are expensive. 2% of 50% FPL is $10-11 per month. The administrative cost of mailing bills, processing checks and sending reminder notices and chasing back premiums will eat up a significant amount of administrative expenses. Arkansas tried a complex monthly individual collection process and they ended up spending twenty times as much money as they collected. Here is evidence from 2017:

Collecting small dollar premiums that are unlikely to be universally tied to a credit card or an automated electronic withdrawal is expensive. Chasing people down for these payments is expensive. Retroactively repaying claims is expensive. This is an administrative nightmare.

It is also likely to make many people objectively worse off due to Silver gapping on the Exchange.

A single individual earning $16750 (approximately 138% FPL) is expected to pay $48 per month for the benchmark Silver plan. This is approximately 3.4% of income. This buys a CSR-94 plan with a $200-$500 deductible. However, as we all know, people can take their ACA subsidy and buy a less expensive plan. They save every incremental dollar.

Monthly premiums for healthy people who are not network sensitive and only price sensitive are cheaper if there is at least a $20 gap between the benchmark and the least expensive silver plan. Below is a Tableau of the Silver Gap for a single 40 year old in 2019. Every county except Wake County has at least a $20 Silver Gap. Even in Wake County, married couples and adults with children earning 138% FPL will likely qualify for less expensive ACA plans as premiums increase faster than income for a given FPL level when more people are added to a family unit so therefore the subsidy amount increases faster than income. Almost all counties have zero premium Silver plans for 40 year old individuals earning just over 100% FPL.

Collecting and tracking premiums will be an administrative nightmare.

Collecting premiums will make many people who are currently on Exchange in a CSR-Silver plan worse off.

Collecting premiums will deter long term enrollment of the reasonably healthy.

But I’m at a point where a sub-optimal Medicaid expansion with known and significant problems is better than no expansion.

[syndicated profile] bruce_schneier_feed

Posted by Bruce Schneier

From a G7 meeting of interior ministers in Paris this month, an "outcome document":

Encourage Internet companies to establish lawful access solutions for their products and services, including data that is encrypted, for law enforcement and competent authorities to access digital evidence, when it is removed or hosted on IT servers located abroad or encrypted, without imposing any particular technology and while ensuring that assistance requested from internet companies is underpinned by the rule law and due process protection. Some G7 countries highlight the importance of not prohibiting, limiting, or weakening encryption;

There is a weird belief amongst policy makers that hacking an encryption system's key management system is fundamentally different than hacking the system's encryption algorithm. The difference is only technical; the effect is the same. Both are ways of weakening encryption.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

As the full import of even the redacted Mueller report sinks in, it's becoming clear to the rule-of-law contingent of lawmakers and presidential candidates that the impeachment process must begin. Add to them Sen. Kamala Harris. The California Democrat said in a CNN forum Monday night that "Congress should take the steps toward impeachment."

She added that she's "also a realist," and that it's highly unlikely Mitch McConnell's Republican Senate would vote to remove Trump. "I've not seen any evidence to suggest that [Senate Republicans] will weigh on the facts instead of on partisan adherence to being protective of this president," she added. "And that's what concerns me and what will be the eventual outcome. So we have to be realistic about what might be the end result, but that doesn't mean the process should not take hold."

Harris joins Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in that call. On Friday, the 2020 contender released a statement on Twitter, calling for the process to begin. "Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress," she wrote, quoting the report, in which Mueller clearly passed the ball to Congress when he wrote that it has the "authority to prohibit a President's corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice." Warren added, "The correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment." The "severity" of Trump's misconduct, Warren wrote, "demands that elected officials in both parties set aside political considerations and do their constitutional duty. That means the House should initiate impeachment proceedings against the President of the United States."

Other candidates who've called for the impeachment process to begin are former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, with Inslee less definitively saying that the investigations in Congress must begin and "impeachment should not be off the table."

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

Since the release of the still heavily redacted special counsel’s report, Donald Trump’s approval ratings have plunged three points in the Reuters/IPSOS poll to his lowest level for the year. And that’s after that poll’s results had already dropped another three points from the days immediately following the “complete exoneration” letter from Attorney General William Barr. In the Politico/Morning Consult poll, Trump’s approval rating dropped from a net 7 point disapproval on the day before the report appeared to a staggering 18 point gap in the days following its release.  Meanwhile, Democrats are holding strategy calls not on whether or not to impeach Trump, but on how swiftly they should move.

The information contained in the Mueller report has badly hurt Donald Trump, and perhaps the most astonishing thing is exactly where it has hurt him. Trump had almost no support to lose among Democratic voters, so it’s not surprising that the bulk of the movement comes in a sharp decline among independents, but in the Morning Consult poll, Trump also shed Republicans, leaving those who say they “strongly approve” of his position at below 50 percent. More than a third of Republicans have fallen into the tepid “somewhat approve” category.

The result of the Mueller report isn’t just a lot of damning information on Trump, but a truckload of vindication for the press. Reporters who have been covering Trump’s connections with Russia and his efforts to halt the investigation found that in nearly every case, the information they had pieced together, or reports that had come to them through sources, were accurate. There really were dozens of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. There really were major efforts by Trump to halt the investigation through stonewalling, lying, threatening witnesses, suborning perjury, and attempting to simply pull the plug.

In the nearly-naked light of the redacted report, Donald Trump is revealed as a criminal and a liar, someone who has abused both the public trust and the power of his office. The number of lies and the extent of the duplicity is such that Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has been reduced to appearing on television to make statements like “It’s not a crime” and “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians” in the middle of a presidential campaign.

But Donald Trump only has one speed—angry. So when he should be apologizing to the nation, instead Trump spent the morning on Twitter demanding an apology.

No No No No No No No

Apr. 23rd, 2019 08:30 am
[syndicated profile] shakespearessister_feed

Posted by Melissa McEwan

I really hope that this is the stupidest shit I read today, because I don't have the energy for something even stupider: "There's a Bigger Prize Than Impeachment: Keeping Trump in Office Will Destroy the Republican Party" by former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart at the New York Times.

One doesn't even need to get into the actual text of the piece before encountering major problems. Often, I warn against trusting headlines to be fair representations of the text, because writers for publications they don't manage usually don't write their own headlines. But, in this instance, both the head and subhead are accurate summations of arguments Lockhart makes.

Impeachment is not a "prize," and talking about politics like it's a game has always been gross, but it is especially so in this particular moment of relentless political malice and resurgent fascism.

And, no, for all that is decent, keeping Trump in office will not "destroy the Republican Party," which has spent the last two years almost uninterruptedly consolidating power behind Donald Trump.

As one might expect, getting into the body of the piece we encounter even more contemptible assertions:
For Democrats, leaving Donald Trump in office is not only good politics — it is the best chance for fundamental realignment of American politics in more than a generation. Mr. Trump is three years into destroying what we know as the Republican Party. Another two years just might finish it off. Trumpism has become Republicanism, and that spells electoral doom for the party.
Donald Trump is not three years into destroying the Republican Party; he is three years into destroying U.S. democracy. The Republican Party is doing just fine — holding the Oval Office, the Senate, the Supreme Court, a rapidly increasing number of federal court seats, and the majority of state legislatures.

Anyone who can take a look at those facts and imagine that the Republican Party is in danger of being "finished off" doesn't even understand basic math, no less modern politics.

Lockhart continues:
Mr. Trump has abandoned most of the core principles that have defined Republicans for the past century. Free trade abandoned for protectionism. Challenging our adversaries and promoting democracy replaced by coddling Russia and cozying up to dictators near and far. Fiscal conservatism replaced by reckless spending and exploding deficits.

What's left of the party is a rigid adherence to tax cuts, a social agenda that repels most younger Americans, and rampant xenophobia and race-based politics that regularly interfere with the basic functioning of the federal government.

Republicans today are the party of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson — a coalition that, in the face of every demographic trend in America, will mean the long-term realignment of the federal government behind the Democrats.

We're not quite there yet — but keeping [Donald] Trump in office is the best way to cement Trumpism's hold on the Republican Party.
There is a lot wrong in those four paragraphs, but I'll just briefly note two of the most consternating problems.

First, Donald Trump is not even remotely an anomaly of Republican politics (which abandoned principle many decades ago): He is instead its inevitable endgame. He did not emerge from a vacuum, but from the well-marked path that the GOP has been laying for decades. Trump ascended as the uncensored id of a carefully cultivated Republican base. He is not a betrayer of Republican values, but their most shameless promoter.

Secondly, this ubiquitous notion that the Republican Party, especially its most extreme elements, is soon to die with the aged is just flatly wrong. It wasn't pensioners who marched through Charlottesville with tiki torches.

The unfortunate truth is that the most reactionary and violent parts of the conservative movement are comprised of many, many angry young white men.

Lockhart then declares:
For Democrats, it's the dream scenario — as long as he completes his term.
I can't even wrap my head around being so privileged that you can assert giving Trump two more years in office is a "dream scenario," knowing that those two years could very well see, just for a start, the construction of military-run concentration camps at the border, the re-criminalization of abortion, the death of the Affordable Care Act, the rollback of LGBTQ rights, continued empowerment of white supremacy from the Oval Office, and possibly two more Supreme Court seats transferred to conservatives with loyalty to an authoritarian president.

Lockhart concludes thus:
Allowing Mr. Trump to lead the Republican Party, filled with sycophants and weak-willed leaders, into the next election is the greater prize. Democrats have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to realign American politics along progressive lines, very much like Ronald Reagan did for Republicans in the 1980s.

Trumpism equals Republicanism as long as Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket. And a real shift to progressivism in America will be delivered by a devastating rebuke of the president and his party, a rebuke that will return control of the Senate and state houses across the nation. Politics is always a gamble — and this is the best bet we've had in a long time.
The best bet we had, possibly in the nation's history, was Hillary Clinton, who was the last person standing between the preservation of our democracy and the Russian nesting doll of character defects who now inhabits the White House and leverages the power of the presidency to destroy our democracy as swiftly and irreparably as he can, with the assistance of the rest of the Republican Party, who are neither ashamed of him nor on the precipice of being consigned to the dustbin of history.

We gambled on her and rolled a winning shot and still lost, because of election meddling — for which the meddlers, foreign and domestic, have not been held accountable. And that almost certainly means that they will be back again with a vengeance in 2020.

Counting on free and fair elections to solve the problem of Donald Trump and the Republican Party is a bullshit proposition. I wish desperately that were not the case.

There may yet be time to ensure that it isn't, but if there is any hope of restoring the basic tenet of our democracy, the integrity of our elections, it starts with impeachment hearings.

It certainly does not start with fucking trash about how great the remainder of Donald Trump's presidency will be for progressives.
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
[personal profile] lydamorehouse
 Me, apparently.

And, then I promptly forgot I was supposed to be at White Bear Lake library until I got a call from my boss about twenty minutes after I was supposed to have started, who said, "So... are you planning on going to White Bear?" There was some work inappropriate swearing, fumbling, and rushing out the door. I made it in an hour late.  White Bear was surprisingly gracious, even though I kind of looked a bit like I'd rolled out of bed. 

The other funny part of this story was that I was doing the dishes before my boss called, and I was watching a very SPECIAL episode of "Morose Mononokean." It was a story about saying goodbye to a friend and I was sobbing like a fool. So, when I answered the call from my boss I was clearly coming off a crying jag, which may be why I got a question instead of a stern talking to?  

I'm going to go with yes.

Surprise!Work, of course, derailed all the things I was going to get done yesterday, but I mean, it was a rainy, dreary day anyway, so I might as well have spent it making a few dollars.

I have double-checked the calendar. I do NOT work today. So, hopefully, between that and the sunshine, I will get some stuff done today.


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