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[ 17 ] May 24, 2017 |

Greg Gianforte’s physical assault of a reporter this evening may be nearly unprecedented for a Congressional candidate, but it’s hardly atypical for where the Republican Party is going. That his team just doubled down on it, openly lying about what happened makes it even worse, but again, alternative facts.

Beating up journalists is a hallmark of dictatorships. Combine this with Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross’ wistfully longing for the U.S. to have Saudi levels of political protest and of course Trump demonizing the media and this sort of thing becomes almost inevitable. The question is not whether reporters will continue to be assaulted. Republicans–lunatics in the base if not candidates or office holders–will probably keep doing this as they turn their backs on democratic values. The question is whether voters will hold them accountable. Winning as a Democrat in Montana is tough, but not impossible. Gianforte was probably a little bit ahead. After tonight, if he’s not driven to defeat by Montana voters, then it’s a sign that half the nation basically doesn’t care about assaulting journalists, although I have also heard that probably 2/3 of the votes for the election have already been cast, suggesting one of the problems with early voting systems.

…And here’s more detail.

Gianforte should be arrested. But the sheriff is a Gianforte donor, so of course not.



[ 12 ] May 24, 2017 |

There was a lot of cocaine use on the 86 Mets. That’s all I have to say here.

The End of Fish

[ 51 ] May 24, 2017 |

As the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determines whether the bluefin tuna should be listed under the Endangered Species Act (spoiler: under Trump it won’t), it’s worth noting that even without climate change drastically changing the temperature and pH balance of the oceans, humans’ insatiable appetite for fish would ensure that basically every species of saltwater fish at least should be considered endangered or threatened. Add the impact of climate change and unless they like jellyfish, your children will not be eating saltwater fish in their retirements because they will be extinct or extremely endangered. And that probably includes fairly common fish like sardines.

Conservatives Turning on Confederate Statues?

[ 78 ] May 24, 2017 |

Perhaps my right-wing analysis is weak these days. And the writing in this article is horrendous. But the Daily Howler published an essay arguing to tear down all the Confederate statues because they promote traitors? And you know it’s real because the author has to call the “Black Democrat” from Alabama self-serving since he says the problem with the statues is they represent oppression, which evidently doesn’t matter. But treason does. What am I missing here?

Mr. Hot Air Full of Nothing But Hot Air

[ 43 ] May 24, 2017 |

I too am shocked that the ridiculous “deal” Trump made with Carrier to “save jobs” was complete garbage.

The Carrier factory that President Trump convinced owners not to move to Mexico will lay off hundreds of workers just before the holiday season, CNN reported Tuesday.

The Indianapolis furnace plant pledged to stay in the United States late last year after making a deal with President Trump, but announced today that it will lay off more than 600 workers, the final 290 of which will be fired just before the holiday season.

The move isn’t a complete surprise for the company. In their initial announcement last year, the company revealed that while the plant would remain in the U.S., the factory would be cutting down on labor to reduce costs.

Trump took credit for saving 1,100 jobs at the factory in December.

“Here’s what’s going to happen,” Trump told a crowd in Indianapolis last year. “I’ll get a call from the head of Carrier and he’ll say, ‘Mr. President, we’ve decided to stay in the United States.’ That’s what’s going to happen — 100 percent.”

Sure thing dude. Sure thing. MAGA.

Vilest Propaganda

[ 57 ] May 23, 2017 |

Now this is some horrible propaganda. Is it anti-communist propaganda from the 50s? No. Is it some awful ISIS video? No. It is Sean Hannity talking about whatever? No.

It’s far worse.

This is a 1951 video about the Heinz distribution network, spreading its vile ketchup across this once great nation, now awash is gooey overly sweet processed tomatoes. I would urge you not to watch this horror, lest you be more mortified than you are about the turtles below.

And incidentally, in the spirit of National Turtle Day, there is a shot of boxes of Heinz Turtle Soup in there too.

World Turtle Day

[ 43 ] May 23, 2017 |

It’s World Turtle Day. So it’s time to revisit this 1947 Life article about the harvesting of turtles for food. Sweet dreams!

Later in the article, despite the horrors of this picture, there are recipes for turtle soup.

….In case you weren’t horrified enough, check out the first part of this 1937 Chevrolet produced video, about two men going to get their turtle soup in the ocean and catching a sea turtle so big, it can only be brought to their house on top of a Chevy. Plus the end of this series of short series is the legendary cat boxing film that makes the turtle stuff seem pretty tame. Ah, 1937, what a time to be alive.

And yes, I am spending my evening looking up historical turtle soup items. What of it?

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 84

[ 37 ] May 21, 2017 |

This is the grave of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

Born in 1890 in Concord, New Hampshire to a family interested in socialism, Flynn was exposed to radical ideas early in life, particularly after they moved in 1900 to New York City. She gave her first public speech at the age of 16 titled “What Socialism Will Do For Women.” Successful, she became a famed orator for radical causes of the time. She dropped out of high school and in 1907, met J.A. Jones, an IWW organizer in Minnesota. They married and had two children. The marriage did not last and Flynn had relationships with other radicals, most notably the Italian anarchist Carlos Tresca. Sometimes speaking while pregnant, this young organizer became known as “The Rebel Girl” as she traveled the nation, using her oratory to rally workers for radical causes. That name itself was given to her by Joe Hill, who wrote a song about her with that title before his execution. She spoke at many of the major IWW events during these years–the various free speech fights in the West, at the Paterson and Lawrence textile strikes, and in support of many other IWW actions. She chained herself to a lamp post during the Spokane Free Speech Fight to make it harder to arrest her. She was however expelled from the IWW in 1916 after getting involved in a plea agreement for some Minnesota Wobblies who she convinced to plead guilty for a murder, even though Big Bill Haywood thought they could get off. When they ended up getting 20 years, Haywood was done with her.

She never again reached the prominence she had during her Wobbly days, but she remained active in radical causes for the rest of her life. She was a co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920 and while the ACLU might not seem that radical today, it came about as a necessary organization in the very scary time of the Red Scare. Of course, it is playing a critical role in resisting the American fascism coming out of the White House today. She supported a broad swath of women’s issues, including birth control and equal pay at the workplace. She lived in Portland from 1926 to 1936, where she continued her work, supporting the Longshoremen’s Strike in 1934, among other activities. She finally joined the Communist Party in 1936, writing a column about women for Daily Worker. The ACLU eventually ejected her from its board for being a communist. She was caught up in the post-World War II attacks on communists, arrested for violating the Smith Act in 1951. She served two years in prison, an experience about which she then wrote a memoir. She became the national chairperson for the Communist Party in 1961 and frequently visited the Soviet Union after that, dying there in 1964 at the age of 74. She received a state funeral in Moscow. Her remains were then sent back to the United States for burial.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn is buried in Forest Home Cemetery, Forest Park, Illinois.

The New Gilded Age in One Story

[ 110 ] May 20, 2017 |

Important journalism coming from the Times.

Where is the revolution?

Why Buy American Campaigns Are Bad

[ 53 ] May 20, 2017 |

Chris Brooks has an excellent interview with the historian Dana Frank, who is an expert on so-called “Buy American” campaigns, as well as on guestworkers and many other things. Her books are excellent and you should read them. The interview explores the deep problem with Buy American campaigns because they are anti-worker and xenophobic.

Buy American campaigns became popular in the late 1970s as working people were trying to address capital flight and employers began turning on unions, demanding concessions. Again these campaigns had a very strong racist component. Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American man, was killed by an auto plant superintendent and a laid-off auto worker, both white, in Detroit in the early eighties.

People trashed Japanese cars — even ones that were made by union workers in Japan, and Japanese cars made in the United States with union labor. This wasn’t just the auto workers, but many manufacturing unions. The Garment Workers launched an anti-Asian Buy American campaign, but had to back away from it due to pressure from Asian-American activists.

Like people in the 1970s, people today want to return to the so-called “golden age” when there were lots of jobs in heavy industry that were union, paid really well, and provided excellent benefits. They imagine that Buy American might help to bring all that back.

The problem is that employers have long since turned on the labor movement and driven down working conditions so far that is very hard to return to that world. The strategy being pursued by employers today is totally different from what unions faced in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Steelworkers and Auto Workers had these great jobs.

And, of course, that seeming golden age puts the focus on only one particular sector. Steel jobs were not naturally wonderful jobs with pensions and health care and high salaries. They had been hideous jobs where people worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week, until the Congress of Industrial Organizations built powerful unions in the 1930s and changed all that.

Manufacturing is only 8 percent of all employment in the United States. What we need is a massive grassroots movement that makes all jobs — whether they are in manufacturing, or in service, or in agriculture — into really great jobs with union protections.

Indeed. And in response to this….

We do have to figure out what alternative progressive trade policies look like. We shouldn’t go down the free-trade path. Neither should we be going down the path of nationalist protectionism.

We need to be talking about a third path that puts labor rights and union protections first, as part of a broader package that also addresses immigration and is committed to raising working people’s wages and working conditions all over the world, through cross-border solidarity. We need domestic economic development that fosters good jobs without playing into an anti-immigrant framework.

Ideally, our unions would be the organizations in which working people would be figuring all of this out.

…let me just reiterate my own work on thinking through what progressive trade policies should look like.


[ 101 ] May 17, 2017 |


Finally, true bipartianship could be achieved!

I look forward to Matthew Dowd and Ron Fournier’s exciting renewed support of Trump.

For a Vision of What Republicans Want to Do to the Nation, Look at North Carolina

[ 25 ] May 17, 2017 |


Above: The North Carolina GOP

While we are rightfully focused on the out of control Trump administration, I continue to pay attention to the meth laboratories of democracy that are the states. I do so for many reasons, but one of them is that you can see how Republicans are trying out new methods to create their dreamed of autocracy. I was originally going to combine this was a brief mention of Trump and Erdogan, but Melissa usefully did this already. So instead I will stick to that lovely paradise known as North Carolina. To being with, North Carolina Republicans stick to their most important principle: Being stringent defenders of pig shit.

North Carolina’s hog farms won an extra measure of protection from lawsuits Thursday, after the state Senate overrode a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper, who had sought to preserve the right of property owners to sue farmers over quality-of-life issues.

The state Senate narrowly defeated Cooper’s veto, a day after the House took the same step. The Senate vote was 30 to 18, mostly along party lines, in a procedure that requires support from three-fifths of lawmakers present. The vote was similar Wednesday in the House, with 74 voting to override the governor’s veto, and 40 voting to support the governor.

The new law limits the amount of money people can collect in lawsuits against hog farms for odors, headaches, flies and other aggravations. Critics have said the law limits financial recovery to the point that such lawsuits are not likely to be filed in the future.

The measure, which protects all agricultural and forestry operations, was prompted by 26 federal lawsuits filed against the state’s largest pork producer, Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. In other states, such lawsuits have resulted in jury awards of hundreds of thousands of dollars to local residents. North Carolina’s law will limit financial recovery to several thousand dollars, according to some estimates.

An early version of the law, House Bill 467, would have applied retroactively to the Murphy-Brown cases, but lawmakers stripped out that provision amid objections from Democrats and Republicans alike that it would be inappropriate for the legislature to intervene in a pending legal dispute.

On Thursday, all 15 Democrats in the Senate supported Cooper, and were joined by three Republicans who had previouly voted against the legislation, including Tamara Barringer of Wake County. Two Republicans were absent who had previously voted for the bill when it passed the Senate last month.

In the House vote to override Cooper’s veto, seven Democrats voted against the Democratic governor, and three Republicans voted with him.

North Carolina has about 9 million hogs on nearly 2,300 hog farm operations, many of them concentrated in the eastern part of the state. The large farms, which can contain thousands of hogs, treat the hog feces and urine in open-air lagoons, from which water is pumped onto crops as a nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Nearly 500 residents living near those farms allege in the lawsuits that they are subjected to revolting odors as well as swarms of flies and buzzards attracted to outdoor bins where pig carcasses are dumped for pickup by haulers. The lawsuits include allegations that the spraying from the lagoons disperses fecal bacteria that wafts across property lines and settles on cars, homes and lawns.

North Carolina’s hog farming practices have been under scrutiny for decades. Amid rising public health concerns, the state banned the construction of new hog farms in 1997 that treat hog waste in open-air lagoons. More than 30 scientific studies have documented public health and environmental problems arising from industrial hog farming here.

And before someone makes the obvious point–yes, on this issue there are also crappy Democrats in the pockets of the agricultural lobby. That they suck on this issue is unfortunate. Whether they should be primaried or not I can’t say; obviously it depends on the district. But both sides don’t do it–all of one side and a few bad apples of the other side do it, which is not a reason to decry the entire Democratic Party, especially since Roy Cooper vetoed the thing.

Then there’s how Republicans respond to Democratic challenges.

N.C. Senate Republicans were visibly upset with Democrats for prolonging the budget debate with amendments during an after-midnight session Friday morning.

As the clock approached 1 a.m., Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue was summoned to the front of the chamber to talk privately with Senate leader Phil Berger. The Senate had rejected five amendments from Democrats to fund their spending priorities, but each time one proposal was shot down, another one was filed.

Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon abruptly called for a recess, stopping the proceedings for nearly two hours. GOP leaders headed to a conference room with legislative budget staff, while Democrats – some surprised by the lengthy delay – passed the time with an impromptu dance party in the hall.

The session finally resumed around 3 a.m., and Republican Sen. Brent Jackson introduced a new budget amendment that he explained would fund more pilot programs combating the opioid epidemic. He cited “a great deal of discussion” about the need for more opioid treatment funding.

Jackson didn’t mention where the additional $1 million would come from: directly from education programs in Senate Democrats’ districts and other initiatives the minority party sought.

Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram’s rural district in northeastern North Carolina took the biggest hit from the amendment. It strips $316,646 from two early college high schools in Northampton and Washington counties, and it specifically bans state funding from supporting a summer science, math and technology program called Eastern North Carolina STEM.

The Northampton County program has received about $180,000 in recent years to serve 90 high school students, many of whom are African-American and from low-income families.

“I don’t know what motivated the amendment, but it will have a devastating effect on an area that is already suffering,” Smith-Ingram said Saturday, adding that the STEM summer program would shut down if the provision is in the final budget.

Would you be surprised to know that Smith-Ingram is African-American as well as a Democrat and that her district is heavily black? No, of course you wouldn’t.

Speaking of North Carolina Republicans’ war on African-Americans, it’s attempt to recreate something as close to Jim Crow voting as it could was rejected by the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, it’s entirely about the fact that the state’s new Democratic governor, whose power was drastically reduced by the GOP once they couldn’t control the office anymore, decided to stop defending the case, and not about the merits of the openly racist law. The upside is that the Fourth Circuit completely rejected it on the merits already and that stands. Of course, the real lesson is that even with flawed Democrats, they are way, way, way better than Republicans precisely because of issues like this. But maybe the Greens can run a challenger next time! That’s more important than making sure this type of voter suppression doesn’t continue!

But I guess Hillary should have held campaign rallies in Wisconsin. Anyway.

This is what a unified Republican government would look like nationally if it could a) get the power, b) break down the norms that prevent this sort of thing nationally, and c) didn’t elect a man of stupendous stupidity who blows up his own presidency. In other words, holding onto to both houses of Congress with a Mike Pence presidency and a bunch of judges named to these courts means we could be much closer to Erdogan’s Turkey than you would like to think.

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