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Category: General

Fighting Right to Work a Person to Death

[ 25 ] August 12, 2017 |

Missouri is one of the many states who have passed right to work a person to death laws in the last couple of days. But in Missouri, workers are fighting back.

It appears that Missouri labor groups will be able to block the state’s new right-to-work law from taking effect Aug. 28.

They’ve collected more than 300,000 notarized signatures in the fight to force a statewide vote over the law in November 2018, state AFL-CIO president Mike Louis and other union leaders say. That’s more than three times the number needed.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has said the law can’t be enforced if it’s clear union leaders turn in at least 100,000 certified signatures. Louis told supporters at a rally this week that the signatures will be submitted on Aug. 18.

“It really is humbling to know what you’ve accomplished will go down in the history books,’’ Louis said, emphasizing that the coalition has collected enough signatures in each of the state’s eight congressional districts even though they only needed to do so in six.

The article isn’t really clear on the legal ramifications here or what the next steps are. I assume that the people of Missouri can simply void a state law by getting 100,000 signatures. But at the very least this seems to have real implications for the future of the law. Let’s hope it works.


The Stadium Scam: Urban Planning Disaster Edition

[ 82 ] August 12, 2017 |

Great piece by an urban planner about how the ridiculous new Cobb County stadium for the “Atlanta” Braves is a completely disaster.

The Braves chose to relocate to Cobb County from downtown Atlanta’s Turner Field after only 19 years because of a $400 million public subsidy from Cobb taxpayers. The costs are almost certain to balloon thanks to some significant fiscal buffoonery on the part of Cobb officials, including a lack of a comprehensive transportation plan and forgetting to ask the Braves to pay for traffic cops. The sum is almost paltry compared to a lot of other public financing schemes—Las Vegas still takes the cake—but it was enough to run former County Commissioner Tim Lee out of office two years after the funding mechanism was approved following a series of closed door meetings that probably violated state transparency laws. (Lee did not respond to repeated requests for comment.) A Cobb County local I spoke with on the condition of anonymity as her family is involved in local politics said “there’s very little good that could be said about the stadium for the Cobb County taxpayers” and that “many of us in Cobb County are still bothered by the way the Braves deal came about.”

Unlike governments that dangle plum financing deals in order to entice teams to relocate across state lines, Cobb County’s decision to offer up nearly half a billion dollars in public money to the Braves in order to move them across county lines is a rare case of intra-regional competition. “A stadium leaving one district and going to another, it’s similar to industrial plants or major retail establishments relocating,” says Jason Henderson, a professor of geography at San Francisco State University and author of the paper “Secessionist Automobility: Racism, Anti-Urbanism, and the Politics of Automobility in Atlanta, Georgia.” “Places become competitive with each other,” he told me, “and Cobb is trying to get the stadium for the sales tax since that’s a huge source of revenue for the county. It’s a very American phenomenon to have localities competing for things like this.” Cobb’s decades-long campaign to remain apart from Atlanta proper only serves to amplify that competition; I’ve had several Atlanta locals tell me they’ll never attend another Braves game because of the way the regions were pitted against each other.

Attached to SunTrust Park like a Cinnabon-scented goiter is the Battery Atlanta, a $550M mixed-used development that looks an awful lot like a New Urbanist project, the widely criticized school of planning that is equal parts social engineering and neoliberalism. New Urbanism is city planning as Truman Show, attempting to humanize and rescale the misguided master planning concepts favored by designers like Le Corbusier. Cities like Seaside, Fla.,—where the Truman Show was partially filmed—and Disney-designed Celebration are attempts to urbanize the suburbs by integrating venerable concepts like transit-oriented design into communities cut from whole cloth. What many of these inorganic communities lack, however, is true diversity. Studies show that homes in New Urbanism communities are often expensive and the communities are more racially homogeneous than urban neighborhoods. “New Urbanism takes seriously many challenges of America’s current suburban landscape with an attention to the human scale, historical references, and architectural character,” says Ashley Bigham, a Walter B. Sanders Fellow at the University of Michigan’s architecture school and co-founder of Outpost Office. “However, many critics of New Urbanism have noted that relying on a historical understanding of urban spaces limits, if not excludes, more contemporary aspects of the city including individual expression and economic diversity.” Planting a project like the Battery in the middle of Cobb County (62 percent white at the last census, compared to 38 percent for Atlanta) only serves to amplify those issues.

With the Battery, the Braves are attempting to create a consumer ecosystem in a vacuum while allowing Cobb County to suck up enough sales tax receipts to legitimize the $400M public subsidy. They’re not the only franchise to attempt to anchor a mixed-use development with a new stadium, but what sets this apart from developments like the Ice District in Edmonton or the Arena District in Columbus is that the Battery is distinctly suburban, a Jacobsian island in the middle of a Moses-dream asphalt ocean. ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle had this to say on his first trip the stadium complex:

It’s an experiment, one where a sports franchise attempts to create a bubble. And once a fan enters it, there is no reason for him or her to spend money outside of it. And if it works, the ramifications will be noticed by baseball owners from coast to coast. If it works, it could change a lot of things. But we won’t know if it works for a long time.

So I guess I don’t see why this would work, but then what do I know? But who would go to this stadium unless you are a Cobb County resident? Why deal with the traffic? Is this sort of consumer experience really that appealing to people? And I suppose the answer is that I simply am not the target audience for any of this. I can say that many of the games I attend are as a tourist checking out a game in a new stadium or city. I would guess that 1-2% of attendees at a normal game are tourists. None of those people are going to venture from Atlanta to Cobb County except for the people determined to visit any stadium. But if you want baseball to be even whiter than it already is, I guess this is the future.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 126

[ 28 ] August 12, 2017 |

This is the grave of John Chivington.

One of the most reprehensible loathsome Americans to ever live and yet a man representative of 19th century America, Chivington was born in 1821 in Lebanon, Ohio. He became a Methodist circuit rider in 1844, working in Illinois. He became a strong abolitionist and went to Kansas in 1853, at first missionizing the Wyandots and then becoming active in the Bleeding Kansas era after the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He was outspoken enough that his friends strongly urged him to leave Kansas as self-protection. He went to Nebraska for awhile.

So far, you are saying, sounds like a pretty good guy! Well, in 1859 gold was discovered in Colorado. This led to the second great gold rush in American history, after California. Chivington followed the masses west in 1860. He tried to start some churches in the mining camps but became more involved in the militia of what had become Colorado Territory. Chivington joined the 1st Colorado Volunteers as a major at the start of the Civil War and won victories in small western battles at Apache Canyon and Glorieta Pass that doomed the Confederate effort to take the western gold fields.

Chivington was also incredibly ambitious and he hated Native Americans. By 1864, the Cheyenne and Arapaho were in big trouble. Their hunting grounds of the Front Range overwhelmed by white settlers, the bison were in rapid decline and so was their independence. The Cheyennes especially were divided between the Dog Soldiers who wanted total war against the whites and compromising leaders such as Black Kettle who wished to keep their people alive. The Dog Soldiers and the whites engaged in raids on each other during 1864 while Black Kettle sued for peace. He was guaranteed that for his people so long as they stayed in southeastern Colorado. They camped along Sand Creek, about 140 miles east of what is today Pueblo. This was far off country from the gold fields. They weren’t bothering anyone. But that was not enough for Chivington.

We think of the U.S. Army as the villains of the genocidal wars against Native Americans. But the real villains were the everyday white settlers of the West. They wanted a war of extermination against Indians. Colorado’s territorial governor, John Evans, didn’t like the peace terms given to Black Kettle and neither did Chivington. Stoking anti-Native sentiment was good politics in Denver and the mining camps. Chivington wanted to build on this for his own political career. When the War Department gave Evans permission to create the 3rd Colorado Cavalry, the stated reason was to protect the mining camps but Evans and Chivington were lying. Chivington was named commanding officer. And he marched his troops to Sand Creek.

By late November 1864, most of Black Kettle’s warriors were out hunting. There were about 60 adult aged men in the camp and several hundred older men, women, and children. 675 men under Chivington’s command wanted nothing but genocide. On the morning of November 29, they attacked. Black Kettle and the camping Cheyenne and Arapaho had no idea why this was happening. They were doing everything they agreed to do in the earlier peace agreement. They ran up an American flag and a white flag immediately. Chivington did not care. The Colorado forces lost about 15 dead, mostly due to soldiers shooting each other. The number of Cheyenne and Arapaho who died remains unclear, probably 150-200. The Colorado troops went to raping and mutilating people before killing them. Said Robert Bent, who witnessed the attack:

I saw one squaw lying on the bank, whose leg had been broken. A soldier came up to her with a drawn sabre. She raised her arm to protect herself; he struck, breaking her arm. She rolled over, and raised her other arm; he struck, breaking that, and then left her with out killing her. I saw one squaw cut open, with an unborn child lying by her side.

Stan Hoig:

Fingers and ears were cut off the bodies for the jewelry they carried. The body of White Antelope, lying solitarily in the creek bed, was a prime target. Besides scalping him the soldiers cut off his nose, ears, and testicles-the last for a tobacco pouch …

Major Anthony:

There was one little child, probably three years old, just big enough to walk through the sand. The Indians had gone ahead, and this little child was behind, following after them. The little fellow was perfectly naked, travelling in the sand. I saw one man get off his horse at a distance of about seventy-five yards and draw up his rifle and fire. He missed the child. Another man came up and said, ‘let me try the son of a b-. I can hit him.’ He got down off his horse, kneeled down, and fired at the little child, but he missed him. A third man came up, and made a similar remark, and fired, and the little fellow dropped.

When Chivington and his men returned to Denver, they were greeted with a parade. Seen as conquering heroes, with the body parts of the Cheyenne and Arapaho, including fetuses and both male and female genitalia, hanging from their horses and decorating their hats, young women ran up and kissed the soldiers. But the revelry did not last long. Some were truly disgusted with what Chivington had done. Silas Soule had refused to obey Chivington’s command. His troops watched instead of fought. Chivington considered him a coward. Soule was a hero, at least in comparison to the other whites in Colorado. He publicized Chivington’s actions. This led to multiple investigations. After Soule testified, one of Chivington’s fans shot him in the face, killing him. The negative publicity Sand Creek caused as it became national news did not lead to legal action against Chivington. He had resigned from the military and was not subject to its courts because of the post-Civil War general amnesty that was not intended for actions in Colorado but nonetheless applied. No civilian charges were fired. In fact, no one suffered legal consequences for this most grotesque act of genocide. But it did make Chivington persona non grata in Colorado politics. Chivingotn became permanently associated with a mass slaughter so over the top that even in the era of the Civil War and largely genocidal campaigns, that he was perceived as a monster. An Army judge called him, “a cowardly and cold-blooded slaughter, sufficient to cover its perpetrators with indelible infamy, and the face of every American with shame and indignation.” The panel of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War declared:

As to Colonel Chivington, your committee can hardly find fitting terms to describe his conduct. Wearing the uniform of the United States, which should be the emblem of justice and humanity; holding the important position of commander of a military district, and therefore having the honor of the government to that extent in his keeping, he deliberately planned and executed a foul and dastardly massacre which would have disgraced the verist [sic] savage among those who were the victims of his cruelty. Having full knowledge of their friendly character, having himself been instrumental to some extent in placing them in their position of fancied security, he took advantage of their in-apprehension and defenceless [sic] condition to gratify the worst passions that ever cursed the heart of man. Whatever influence this may have had upon Colonel Chivington, the truth is that he surprised and murdered, in cold blood, the unsuspecting men, women, and children on Sand creek, who had every reason to believe they were under the protection of the United States authorities.

His purposes having blown up in his face, Chivington decided to become a freight hauler. He wasn’t any good at that. In 1868, his son died. In 1871, he married his son’s widow. Yep, you read that right. Even his former supporters were disgusted by this. He moved around, borrowed money from his daughter-in-law/wife’s relatives, didn’t pay them back, tried to run for state legislature in Ohio, lived in California for awhile, attempted to get money from the federal government for Indian depredations he claimed he suffered (this was a man who truly had no shame), and eventually moved backed to Denver, where he briefly became deputy sheriff before dying in 1894.

The fact that Chivington was an abolitionist who committed genocidal acts should not surprise us at all. This was not a contradiction, particularly in the West. Given that most abolitionists hated slavery more for how it threatened white male democracy than its impact on African-Americans and the general belief that the United States was destined by God for white conquest and domination, such a position was entirely consistent. Chivington was a horrifying person, but he was also all too typical of his time. The initial reception he received in Denver and the genocidal cynicism behind the whole action demonstrates just how popular the wanton murder of Native Americans was on the ground in these territories. Ultimately, Chivington isn’t a monster. He’s an all too typical American who just went a little farther than most of his colleagues were willing to go. In that, he helped create the white supremacist state that has never not oppressed Native Americans from its founding to the present.

As for the Cheyenne and Arapaho, the oppression of their freedom continued. Black Kettle survived Sand Creek but was killed in the Washita Massacre of 1868 in a similarly unjust action in western Oklahoma, this time led by George Armstong Custer.

John Chivington is buried in Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado.

Putin Can’t Melt Steel Beams

[ 200 ] August 11, 2017 |

There’s one surefire way of knowing that the latest Nation story about how the DNC hack was an INSIDE JOB is a ludicrous conspiracy theory:

By Patrick Lawrence

For those not familiar with Lawrence’s oeuvre, the clues that the conspiracy theory is nonsense appear clearly in the text itself:

There has been a long effort to counter the official narrative we now call “Russiagate.” This effort has so far focused on the key events noted above, leaving numerous others still to be addressed. Until recently, researchers undertaking this work faced critical shortcomings, and these are to be explained. But they have achieved significant new momentum in the past several weeks, and what they have done now yields very consequential fruit. Forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed are now producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year. Their work is intricate and continues at a kinetic pace as we speak.

A free lifetime subscription to LGM to whoever can name the five languages this went through in Google Translate before finally arriving at English! Anyway, if you can make it through this word fog you can see that Lawrence is more or less openly conceding that the conspiracy theory allegedly being produced by anonymous but definitely longly credentialed and strongly experienced people is being reverse-engineered to produce the pre-determined conclusion that Russia could not have possibly attempted to influence the 2016 elections and the Trump campaign certainly could not have colluded in any such effort.

Anyway, the Deep State has tasked Brian Feldman with explaining why Lawrence’s theory is transparently bogus engaging in a McCarthyite smear campaign designed to cover up Hillary Clinton’s plot to repeal Social Security and use the proceeds to establish a farm of private email servers:

But this article is neither conclusive proof nor strong evidence. It’s the extremely long-winded product of a crank, and it’s been getting attention only because it appears in a respected left-wing publication like The Nation. Anyone hoping to read it for careful reporting and clear explanation is going to come away disappointed, however.

If you want to get to the actual claims being made, you’ll have to skip the first 1,000 or so words, which mostly consist of breathtakingly elaborate throat-clearing. (“[H]ouses built on sand and made of cards are bound to collapse, and there can be no surprise that the one resting atop the ‘hack theory,’ as we can call the prevailing wisdom on the DNC events, appears to be in the process of doing so.”) About halfway through, you get to the crux of the article: A report, made by an anonymous analyst calling himself “Forensicator,” on the “metadata” of “locked files” leaked by the hacker Guccifer 2.0.

This should, already, set off alarm bells: An anonymous analyst is claiming to have analyzed the “metadata” of “locked files” that only this analyst had access to? Still, if I’m understanding it correctly, Lawrence’s central argument (which, again, rests on the belief that Forensicator’s claims about “metadata” are meaningful and correct) is that the initial data transfer from the DNC occurred at speeds impossible via the internet. Instead, he and a few retired intel-community members and some pseudonymous bloggers believe the data was transferred to a USB stick, making the infiltration a leak from someone inside the DNC, not a hack.

The crux of the whole thing — the opening argument — rests on the fact that, according to “metadata,” the data was transferred at about 22 megabytes per second, which Lawrence and Forensicator claim is much too fast to have been undertaken over an internet connection. (Most connection speeds are measured at megabits per second, not megabytes; 22 megabytes per second is 176 megabits per second.) Most households don’t get internet speeds that high, but enterprise operations, like the DNC — or, uh, the FSB — would have access to a higher but certainly not unattainable speed like that.

If that’s your strongest evidence, your argument is already in trouble. But the real problem isn’t that there’s a bizarre claim about internet speed that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. It’s that Lawrence is writing in techno-gibberish that falls apart under even the slightest scrutiny. You could try to go on, but to what end? As an example: Lawrence writes that “researchers penetrated what Folden calls Guccifer’s top layer of metadata and analyzed what was in the layers beneath.” What on earth is that supposed to mean? We don’t know what “metadata” we’re talking about, or why it comes in “layers,” and all I’m left with is the distinct impression that Lawrence doesn’t either. Even if you wanted to take this seriously enough to engage with, you can’t, because it only intermittently makes sense. There may be evidence out there, somewhere, that a vast conspiracy theory has taken place to cover up a leak and blame Russia. But it’s going to need to be at least comprehensible.

I will give Lawrence credit for this: AFICT he doesn’t even pretend to support a full investigation.

UPDATE: I hate to pick on Tracey, given the vicious assault he recently had to endure, but EL OH OL:

Yes, when Even The Seth Rich Troofer Patrick Lawrence thinks the DNC hack was an inside job, you know it’s credible! And certainly it would be without precedent for The Nation to publish an apologia for Vladimir Putin.

Everybody Hates TrumpCare

[ 99 ] August 11, 2017 |

I observed in my Gillibrand town hall dispatch that it was…unlikely that Republican legislators are getting the same conquering-hero welcome. I ask, Weigel answers:

But at town-hall meetings since the start of the recess, tax reform has hardly come up; health care has dominated. At a Monday town hall in Flat Rock, N.C., Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) pitched a plan to devolve ACA programs to the states, then found himself fending off constituents who backed universal Medicare.

“You can take the top one percent and tax them fully, and it still won’t pay for Medicare,” said Meadows.

At a town hall in Chico, Calif., in the most Democratic portion of a deep red district, Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) found himself fending off furious complaints about the repeal vote, with constituents accusing him of acting to bring about their death.

“I hope you suffer the same painful fate as those millions that you have voted to remove health care from,” one constituent told LaMalfa. “May you die in pain.”

Carter’s town halls did not reach that boiling point, but they revealed what the tone of congressional listening sessions has become — angry, wistful and loaded with progressive activists.

The 1st congressional District, stretching from Savannah to the Florida border, has been held by his party since 1993. In 2016, the Trump-Pence ticket carried the district by 15.5 points, while Democrats could not find a candidate to run against Carter.

It’s strange. You promise to repeal Obamacare with a magic replacement that will give everybody access to cheap health insurance, and then offer to repeal the ACA by taking away insurance from 23 million people and make the insurance of the people who retain it much worse in order to pay for a massive upper-class tax cut, and people don’t like it. You were just trying to fulfill a campaign promise!

Friday Odds and Ends: I Want to Live

[ 190 ] August 11, 2017 |

Last night I made some good old-fashioned spaghetti and meatballs. What was your last culinary success? Vegetarian and vegan recipes welcome welcome welcome.

David Brooks weighed in on the Google manifestbro and you’ll never guess what happened next! (Just kidding, I bet you nailed it as soon as you read the previous sentence.)

It’s come to this: wingnuts are now triggered by the Statue of Liberty:

There is a twitter tradition of dunking on the Olympic-grade-level-stupid Tomi Lahren by purposely misnaming her. There are only 2 rules involved in partaking of this rich and deeply patriotic tradition: the first name  must start with a “t” and the second must start with an “l.” Both should be more than one syllable. My favorite to this day remains “Toyota Lasagna.” I’m incredibly depressed because at any minute our doll-handed president might get us all killed. Basically  the only thing that comforts me these days is misnaming Torvald Letterpress. So won’t you join me in making up your own Tomi Lahren name? It will give me something to treasure as I await our imminent doom.

Gillibrand and the Path to Universal Healthcare

[ 165 ] August 11, 2017 |

I attended the town hall held by noted neoliberal shill Kirsten Gillibrand this week. Mostly, she talked about her enduring reverence for Al D’Amato:

It would have been easy for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to rest on her laurels at the town hall she held at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, on Wednesday. In the wake of the narrow defeat of the Republican “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, she received two standing ovations from a packed house before she even began to speak. (It seems unlikely that the senators who went down with Mitch McConnell’s ship, like Dean Heller and Jeff Flake, would get a similar reception.) But she had a more ambitious agenda in mind. Before taking questions, she celebrated the defeat of ACA repeal but quickly observed that it was not enough: Too many people still couldn’t afford insurance. And making a point she would return to repeatedly for the next hour, she identified her preferred solution: Medicare for all.

I have no idea if Gillibrand is running for president or what her chances of winning the Democratic nomination would be if she does run. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the 2020 Democratic nominee will support Medicare for all or a similar program as the ultimate goal for health-care reform, even if it’s not Gillibrand or longtime single-payer advocate Bernie Sanders. And on Wednesday Gillibrand made the case for the policy very effectively.

As a public speaker, Gillibrand’s effect is that of the happy warrior. She projects optimism and determination even when decrying the damage President Trump has done to American institutions or the many negative effects of Citizens United. There is a place for anger in political discourse, too, and I don’t know what the most effective tone for the next Democratic nominee would be. But in the context of defending Medicare for all, Gillibrand’s approach was very effective, making universal public insurance seem like common sense — which of course it is.

In her opening comments, Gillibrand identified the problem: A system based largely around for-profit insurance simply cannot provide access to health care that is both affordable and universal. It’s not a coincidence that the United States, which relies on the market for health insurance more than any other advanced liberal democracy, also spends far more money despite being the only system that does not provide universal coverage. The ACA’s historic expansion of Medicaid was a major step in the right direction, and the more regulated and subsidized insurance markets it established were a significant improvement on the status quo. But ultimately, health-care reform should build on the former rather than on the latter.

Some observers will take Gillibrand’s emphasis on Medicare for all as a sign she intends to run for president in 2020. She might, but, as she herself pointed out, her position isn’t new. Gillibrand also favored Medicare for all in her first House race in 2006, running in a congressional district George W. Bush had carried by 8 points two years earlier. Her support for Medicare for all wasn’t the reason she won in an electoral context that was unusually favorable to the Democratic Party, but it also suggests that there’s no reason to think the position would be a political liability for a Democratic presidential nominee either.

The details will vary, and the results will depend on part on what the hypothetical majorities look like, but 1)the next Democratic nominee will support Medicare For All or a similar program in principle and 2)the next Democratic Congress/White House will make a Medicare buy-in available to the largest class that is politically valuable, and possibly expand Medicaid as well.


Flashback Friday: The Long Soundtrack Shelf Life of “Mad World”

[ 72 ] August 11, 2017 |

The story of a cover song from 1983 featured in a 2001 cult film that keeps being put into trailers in the 2010’s.

Earlier, I put out a notice to other LGM bloggers asking for song requests for Flashback Friday. Shakezula answered the call and suggested a wonderful song that I had no idea was originally a Tears For Fears track from 1983!

Twenty years after it was originally written, a stripped down cover for a film about disenchanted youth would rage like wildfire on the UK singles charts. Since the movie 2001 Donnie Darko, a fantastic mind-trip for older millennials like me, featured the song on its soundtrack I have heard a number of renditions. Most of them follow the Gary Jules’ style rather than the original T4F. And perhaps unsurprisingly, keep ending up in trailers for other things we are supposed to know are emotional.

The AV Club has a great bit of history from 2013 on just how much the song and film became identified with each other, completely reinventing the song and solidifying the iconicity of the film.


Gary Jules (2002)

Gary Jules created this version for Michael Andrews who was putting together the Donnie Darko soundtrack. You can also check out this fan-made video that features clips from the movie so you can get an idea of how the two mediums worked together to create such an arresting song.

I’m not sure how this is legally possible, but this version also appears on the video game soundtrack for Gears of War and in the 2016 trailer for them film American Pastoral. A trailer for Man In The High Castle also used the song, but sung by Ilana Tarutina.

Puddles & Hailey Reinhart for Postmodern Jukebox (2015)

You have no idea how excited I am to finally introduce you to Puddles, the sad clown with the golden voice. Many YouTube videos of him exist and the man is really really good at not breaking character even as people around him fall over in laughter. I’m also pleased to introduce Hailey Reinhart because of all the PMJ lady singers, her voice is among the most unique.


Besides PMJ, its nearly impossible to find a cover of the song that isn’t just a complete recreation of the Gary Jules/Michael Andrews version. Imagine Dragons adds an interesting guitar bridge.


Do you have any favorite versions? Or a favorite film/video game/TV show where the song has appeared?



Not that this would stop Trump, but….

[ 73 ] August 11, 2017 |

I mean, he’d probably enjoy it. But still.

Incidentally, driving around Montana yesterday, I stumbled across an ICBM launch site in the prairie. Don’t know if it’s still operational or not. Maybe we will find out!

How Republican Governance Has Crushed New Mexico

[ 19 ] August 11, 2017 |

Since 2011, the awful Susana Martinez has been governor of New Mexico. Her anti-tax, anti-regulation leadership has led to New Mexico lagging far behind the rest of the Southwest in every metric. And while some of this is not necessarily her fault–after all, it’s not as if New Mexico’s neighbors are bastions of liberalism–when a poor state doubles down on right-wing ideology, it really has a terrible impact that gives employers no good reason to locate there.

Between 2010 and 2016, about 53,000 more people moved out of New Mexico than moved in, according to U.S. Census estimates. But because there were more births than deaths, the state’s population grew nearly 22,000, or 1.1 percent, in the six-year time frame.

That’s far lower than the national average of 4.7 percent, and New Mexico experienced the weakest population growth in the Southwest: Neighboring Texas grew 10.8 percent, Arizona 8.4 percent and Oklahoma 4.6 percent between 2010 and 2016.

“It’s not surprising to me that we’re losing population,” says Democratic state Sen. Mimi Stewart, noting that the out-migration trend began in 2010, when Republican Gov. Susana Martinez took office. The two have often clashed on revenue-raising measures. “We’re not creating an atmosphere that makes people want to come to New Mexico through this governor’s policies.”

Of people who did move into the state, most were 25 to 29, or 60 or older. Rhatigan said he could not be certain why, but speculated that the state’s quality of life – spurred by its low cost of living and year-round sunshine – could be a draw for these groups. People in their mid-20s could be pursuing advanced degrees at one of the state’s universities or military installations, and older folks may be headed to New Mexico to retire or return to one of the state’s 22 tribal lands. He also says immigration from outside the U.S. could contribute to growth in the mid-20s cohort.

New Mexico’s recent population stagnancy is a first for the state – between 2000 and 2010, the state was among the fastest-growing in the U.S., increasing its population by 13 percent.

Before and during the recession of 2007 to 2009, New Mexico’s unemployment rate was lower than the national average. But as the state’s economy has struggled to recover as quickly as others, most of the major employers in New Mexico are facing budget cuts and constraints. Many of the state’s largest employers rely on government funding, including universities, hospitals and research labs.

But critics say the tax breaks have failed to recruit companies or bring jobs to New Mexico and have left the state with underfunded public services such as education and health care.

“This idea that cutting taxes for business is supposed to produce jobs — we are a state where that policy has failed miserably,” Stewart says, citing New Mexico’s teacher shortage in recent years.

Health care and social assistance was the fastest-growing industry between 2011 and 2015, accounting for nearly 17 percent of New Mexico’s total employment, according to a report released in June by the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions. But overall labor force participation rates dropped from 61 percent to 58.4 percent, well below the national average of 63.1 percent, during that time frame.

A recent uptick in the oil, natural gas and mining sector is the main reason for the state’s 2.8 percent growth in gross domestic product during the first quarter of 2017, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data. Martinez credited the growth to her economic reforms, but the volatile industry, a significant source of state revenue, has been unreliable in recent years. Explosive growth between 2011 and 2015 was diminished by sharp losses in 2016, the Department of Workforce Solutions report said.

“Right now we have some skilled workers sitting on the sidelines,” Rhatigan says. “So if a company invests in New Mexico, there are workers here. But as those workers continue to leave, in 15 or 20 years we will have a shortage of young folks and there will be no incentive for employers to invest in New Mexico.”

What’s striking is how a consistently growing state has just completely crashed to population growth levels of states such as Rhode Island. Basically, New Mexico is becoming a state that caters to retirees and is populated by young people who have no other options other than getting out. There has never been a great economy in New Mexico and now there is nearly none. Instead of building up an economy based upon both public and private sector employers, Martinez and New Mexico Republicans have turned away from public employment while erasing what might get private employers to locate there. A microcosm of Republican governance nationwide.

How Western Industrial Interests Are Relying on Trump to Eviscerate Decades of Environmental Protections

[ 36 ] August 11, 2017 |

In the West, legal decisions to protect animals instead of allowing for the unregulated exploitation of the natural world continue to outrage already profitable industries. Never mind that the protection of these species is also tremendously profitable for other groups, bringing a ton of money into states such as Oregon and Idaho. That money isn’t going to the right people–timber, mining, and agricultural capitalists. That’s why they are rooting for the Trump administration, which on these issues is no worse than any Republican administration, to repeal those protections and allow for profit at the price of extinction, just as God intended.

A group that represents farmers is calling the costs of saving imperiled salmon in the largest river system in the Pacific Northwest unsustainable and is turning to the Trump administration to sidestep endangered species laws.

The Columbia-Snake River Irrigators Association wants the government to convene a Cabinet-level committee with the power to allow exemptions to the Endangered Species Act. Known as the “God squad” because its decisions can lead to extinctions of threatened wildlife, it has only gathered three times — the last 25 years ago during a controversy over spotted owl habitat in the Northwest.

The irrigators association is frustrated with court rulings it says favor fish over people, claiming the committee could end years of legal challenges over U.S. dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers and bring stability for irrigators, power generators and other businesses that rely on the water.

Environmental groups call the request a publicity stunt and say it could hurt fishing companies and others that rely on healthy runs of federally protected salmon and steelhead.

The association sees hope in a series of pro-industry environmental decisions by President Trump. His administration has rescinded an Obama-era rule that would shield many small streams and other bodies of water from pollution and development, enacted policies to increase coal mining on federal lands and proposed giving Western states greater flexibility to allow development in habitat of sage grouse, a threatened bird.

To be clear, these rulings do not favor “fish over people.” They favor fish and the people who live in the Northwest because of its beauty and its animals over another group of people–agribusiness. I don’t have to explain which people will count in this administration.

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 125

[ 17 ] August 11, 2017 |

This is the grave of Robert Wagner, Jr.

Born in 1910 to the famed senator Robert Wagner, young Bob graduated from Yale in 1933 and Yale Law in 1937. He followed his father into the family business, being elected to the New York State Assembly in 1938. He served there until 1942, when he resigned to join the Army Air Corps. When he returned to New York after the war’s conclusion, instead of going back into the Assembly, he became heavily involved in municipal politics. Wagner became the City Tax Commissioner, Commissioner of Housing and Buildings, and Chairman of the City Planning Commission. In 1950, he became Manhattan’s Borough President. Of course Wagner wanted higher office. He then became New York’s mayor in 1953. This was a reform candidacy. Despite his family’s long and deep involvement in New York politics, New York City’s Democratic Party was still Tammany controlled. Tammany head Carmine DeSapio disliked Wagner. But Wagner won anyway, with a great deal of help from major liberals such as Eleanor Roosevelt. He governed as a liberal as well, doing much to integrate the city’s government. He founded City University of New York. Wagner, rightfully given his lineage, signed a law to allow the city’s public employees to collectively bargain contracts. He barred housing discrimination as well, although meaningful enforcement of that principle remains elusive to the present. He helped bring the Mets to New York after the Dodgers and Giants left. He was central to creating Shakespeare in the Park and the Lincoln Center. Certainly on a lot of issues he was wishy-washy and unions sometimes found him frustrating, but in the larger trajectory of mayors of major American cities, Wagner is certainly among the most important.

He ran for the Senate in 1956. But he lost to Jacob Javits by a 53-47 margin. Instead, he redoubled on being mayor, running successfully for reelection in 1957 and 1961. He remained a liberal and pushed forward his agenda, but also unfortunately had the prejudices of far too many of that era. Among them was homophobia and in the run-up to the 1964 World’s Fair, which he went far to produce, he ordered the closing of all the city’s gay bars so that New York, already a mecca for gay men particularly, would not have a bad reputation or bad media.

In 1965, Wagner decided to not run for a 4th term as mayor. Lyndon Johnson named him Ambassador to Spain in 1968, which he left after Nixon took office the next year. In 1969, he wanted to run for mayor again, but he lost the Democratic primary to Mario Procaccino, who got defeated by John Lindsay running on a Liberal ticket. Wagner toyed with running again in 1973, this time as a Republican, but did not. Jimmy Carter named him Ambassador to the Vatican in 1978. Wagner died in 1991 of bladder cancer. He was 80 years old.

Robert Wagner, Jr. is buried Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York, next to his father’s grave.

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