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Category: General

Because if there’s one thing you can say about Nazi Germany

[ 68 ] January 11, 2017 |

. . . it’s that Hitler’s intelligence services allowed and even encouraged the publication of scandalous claims about the Fuhrer:

 

Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to “leak” into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?

This idiot is going to be president of the United States in eight days.

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Place your predictions – Trump’s 11 a.m. press conference

[ 63 ] January 11, 2017 |

I usually avoid making predictions because I’m rotten at them, but here goes:

  • What I never thought would happen – Trump would discuss what he plans to do about the management of Trump Co., or whatever it’s called.
  • What I did think would happen – For most of yesterday I would have said he’d show up late, talk about the bullshit and circuses planned for the inauguration, officially introduce the next First Lady and segue into a disjointed rant about everyone and everything that has annoyed him and then walk off. But then #Kompromattress flooded the newswaves.
  • What I do think will happen now – He’s not coming. Maybe Spicer or Conway or even Ivanka will come out, say a few word and split. But I don’t think he’s going to show his face anywhere someone might shout a question at it.

 

Trump “not aware” that he is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation

[ 112 ] January 11, 2017 |

 

 

 

 

JFC:

As an “American citizen” regardless of political party, Conway said, “we should be concerned that intelligence officials leak to the press and won’t go and tell the president-elect or the president of the United States himself now, Mr. Obama, what the information is. They’d rather go tell the press.”

At that point, Meyers cut her off, saying, “But the report was about them going to the president.” When she pushed back, he added, “I believe it said they did brief him on it.”

The first sentence of CNN’s report reads, “Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.”

“He has said he’s not aware of that,” Conway replied of her boss, to which Meyers said, “That concerns me.”

 

On the Trump Intelligence Memo

[ 252 ] January 10, 2017 |

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I assume our foreign policy team will be weighing in at some point, but in the meantime this seems sensible.  Of course, this doesn’t mean don’t make jokes about Trump.

In isolation, it’s appropriate that this unverified and prejudicial information didn’t leak during the election. But…

The EMAILS! apparently weren’t even new, but you know, heckuva job.

Comey Comedy Classics

[ 187 ] January 10, 2017 |

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With notably rare exceptions:

Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) pressed Mr. Comey on whether, as part of the hacking probe, the FBI has investigated whether any individuals close to the Trump campaign have links to Russia. Mr. Comey refused to answer, saying he wouldn’t comment publicly on an investigation.

Wait! Wait! It gets better!

Mr. Comey said the FBI always prefers to examine such items itself, and that he didn’t know why the Democratic officials didn’t give the bureau access.

Yes, the DNC not wanting to give the FBI unfettered access to its email servers is a mystery that will always be beyond rational explanation.

Everything Is Fine

[ 120 ] January 10, 2017 |

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Apparently, Jill Stein is more politically savvy that I thought. The Trump presidency she wanted happened, and it’s immediately taking on BIG VAXX:

President-elect Donald Trump asked Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental activist and skeptic of vaccines, to chair a presidential commission on vaccine safety, Kennedy said Tuesday.

The comments came after Trump and Kennedy met Tuesday in New York. The two have questioned whether vaccines cause autism, a claim consistently debunked by medical professionals across the board.

In March 2014 — before he became a presidential candidate — Trump said on Twitter: “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”

I think Surgeon General McCarthy will do a bang-up job.

Neoliberalism and Blood

[ 88 ] January 10, 2017 |

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A significant internal problem for the left is that the term “neoliberalism” is used as an epithet that now means “anything Democrats do that I don’t like.” This is a terrible thing, because neoliberalism is an actual thing with an actual meaning with actual consequences that has an enormous impact on our society and upon the global economy. And when I read this op-ed on the blood supply chain, I was struck by how deeply the idea of the privatization of public services and the potential to profit on them has advanced.

Still, a multi-billion dollar industry has evolved out of the demand for and supply of blood, with the global market for blood products projected to reach $41.9 billion by 2020. The United States constitutes the largest market for blood products in the world. Donors in the U.S. and some others countries are typically not paid.

In the U.S., the American Red Cross supplies about 40 percent of the blood, with America’s Blood Centers, with 600 blood donor centers, providing about 50 percent (and about one-quarter of the blood in Canada). The remainder is collected by hospitals and medical centers themselves or, lately, by profit-maximizing blood suppliers.

Prior to 2008, hospitals and other surgical centers consistently reported blood shortages every year. This resulted in the cancellation and postponement of elective surgeries.

Things changed. In part because of medical advances, some procedures do not require as many pints for transfusion. This decrease in demand for blood is posing great challenges for the industry, resulting in consolidations and mergers of testing labs and processing facilities.

In response to the drop in demand, suppliers formed partnerships. Mergers have taken place to counteract rising costs of blood banking operations and even to work for enhanced safety, availability and affordability of blood for hospital partners and patients. At times, the reconfigurations have included the closing of testing facilities as done by the Red Cross.

According to the America’s Blood Centers, the largest network of nonprofit community blood centers in North America, 19 partnerships and mergers were formed in the five years from 2010-2015 among their member blood banks, reducing the size of the network from 87 to 68 members. That represents a doubling from the 1990s, when 19 mergers took place during 10 years rather than five.

My colleagues and I have been researching blood supply chains, from enhancing their operations with collection, testing and distribution to hospitals and medical centers. The goal is to minimize costs as well as risk and waste and to optimize the supply chain network design.

More recently, our research has turned to the assessment of mergers and acquisitions, since some of its evolving features have taken on the characteristics of corporate supply chains, which we can learn from and take advantage of.

Now, I suppose blood transfusions have never exactly been a public service in the sense of the government actually controlling the supply. But should blood be seen as having a supply chain within a profit-seeking corporate structure? This is not to impinge the research of the writer of the above piece because if it exists, we have to understand it. But the entire premise of a blood supply chain should deeply offend us. People need blood and someone has to ensure that said blood gets where it needs to go. But given that most of our blood supply comes from the unpaid labor of people volunteering in blood drives, should it exist under a corporate structure? To me, the answer is that this is a public good that should be collected and supplied as such, without having to worry about mergers, corporate structures, or profit (which of course even in “nonprofits” absolutely matters in the sense of the heads of these organizations becoming wealthy). But of course one can say this about the entire medical industry, which is part of the reason why the AMA has done more than anyone to ensure that Americans don’t have universal quality health care.

The Sessions Record

[ 27 ] January 10, 2017 |

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As the confirmation hearing for Nathan Bedford Forrest to serve as Attorney General goes on today, Adam Serwer does a great deep dive into the one case that Forrest and his defenders use to say he’s totally not a racist.

Supporters have repeatedly pointed to Sessions’s record to insist that he is in fact a champion of civil rights. But as in the Donald case, those claims have rarely held up to close scrutiny. Despite once claiming to have filed dozens of desegregation cases, Sessions appears to have filed none––instead taking credit for work done by the civil-rights division on which his signature was included merely as a formality. By contrast, one of Sessions’s signature efforts as a prosecutor was an attempt to convict three voting-rights activists on charges of fraud for assisting elderly voters in filling out ballots.

Sessions’s record as a senator has led civil-rights groups, including the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Color of Change, to oppose his nomination and question whether he would fairly administer laws protecting against discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation. He opposed the decriminalization of homosexual sex, opposed same-sex marriage, blamed school shootings on laws protecting disabled students, and supported the Supreme Court decision striking down key portions of the Voting Rights Act, saying “now if you go to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, people aren’t being denied the vote because of the color of their skin.” More recently, he was among the first to back Donald Trump’s proposal for a ban on Muslims entering the country, and trivialized the president-elect’s admission of sexual assault.

The Trump transition has urged supporters to highlight Sessions’s “strong civil rights record.” But the more closely that record is examined, the less it looks like the record of a civil-rights advocate of any kind, and the more it appears to be the standard, unremarkable record of a longtime conservative Republican from a Southern state.

Where Should We Go On Trade?

[ 11 ] January 10, 2017 |

**FILE**Workers at a Nike factory on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, assemble shoes in this Oct. 10, 2000, file photo. Michigan State, among many schools with sponsorship agreements with Nike and the school will have senior associate athletic director Mark Hollis joining Nike officials for an upcoming tour of manufacturing facilities in Vietnam and China. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

As I have been saying, even though we are facing a government of deplorables led by likely Attorney General Nathan Bedford Forrest and are naturally going to be fighting against the horrors to come, such as Meryl Streep speaking out against Trump which clearly shows that Jacobin will be leading the anti-fascist fight, we also must continue to articulate the world we want to see. And as the left has struggled to articulate a solid vision on trade in an era of globalization, we need to work on that too in order to counter the capitalists and the simplistic nationalistic narratives that pass for the trade agenda on large parts of the left. I have an essay in the new print issue of Dissent titled “A Left Vision for Trade” that expands upon what I wrote in Out of Sight to articulate more thoroughly what the national and international mechanisms for containing capital mobility and ensuring international labor and environmental rights would look like. You can read the intro to it above, but it is behind the paywall. I want you to subscribe to Dissent so you can read it, but I also want to include some of the meatier material here as well. Here is a small piece of that.

The first step in addressing these deficiencies would be to pass a new law that I call the Corporate Accountability Act, which would bind U.S. companies wherever they operate, whether at home or abroad. Such a law would need to include a regulatory function to monitor and punish recalcitrant corporations, set basic pollution and workplace standards, mandate living wages based upon the location of the factory, and ban the physical punishment of workers and violence against union organizers, among other things. Perhaps most importantly, it would seek to make corporations legally responsible for their supply chains, forcing companies like Walmart and Target to be accountable for conditions in their factories, wherever they are located.

Of course, another law does not solve the problem of enforcement. One way to do this is to open American courts for workers and citizens overseas to demand the enforcement of American treaties and laws. Specifically, activists should argue for the use of the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) of 1789, which would allow corporations who violate the human rights of their workers abroad to be tried in U.S courts. Under the provisions of this law, U.S. district courts have the right to hear claims from foreign citizens if they have suffered from actions “in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.” In Filártiga v. Peña-Irala in 1980, a U.S. court ruled that a Paraguayan national could use the ATCA to sue another Paraguayan living in the United States for torturing him during that nation’s dictatorship. This opened the door to a series of cases being tried in U.S. courts for crimes committed abroad.

In 2013 in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, when Nigerians sued foreign oil companies for aiding their government in torturing and killing civilians protesting oil exploration, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the oil companies, claiming the suit did not involve U.S. companies and therefore had no place in U.S. courts. But there is nothing in that decision closing the door to suits against American companies operating overseas, although legally it remains unclear whether this would also enable suing companies within supply chains. There are significant possibilities here for using this law to shape a global regulatory regime for companies who want to sell their goods in the United States.

Even though Trump and congressional Republicans are unlikely to support a new law such as the one above, interpret the ATCA generously, or appoint justices who will side with workers over oil companies, we must encourage leading politicians on fair trade, like Senator Sherrod Brown, to repeatedly introduce such initiatives, build support for them among Democrats, and dare Republicans to vote them down. Such an exercise would mark clear distinctions between the positions of Democrats and Republicans on trade and the economy. The Trump era will end, and when it does, our organizations and movements must be prepared with a clear vision and proposals for how corporations will be held accountable and workers will be protected, not just in the United States, but abroad too.

Organized labor in this country has often struggled to build international solidarity. Foreign or immigrant workers have frequently served as targets of hate for many American workers for the last two centuries. In 2016, this contributed to the high number of union members who voted for Donald Trump. (Exit polls showed only 51 percent of union households voted for Hillary Clinton, the lowest number for a Democrat since Walter Mondale in 1984.) Looking ahead, the American labor movement will need to see the world’s workers as allies and reject the divisive rhetoric that puts the workers of different nations at loggerheads. Breaking out of the constraints of national frameworks and matching corporations by forming an international movement for a more equitable global economy is an essential part of challenging this nativism. Encouraging foreign workers to seek redress in American courts can be a central part of that strategy.

The Fight to Save the ACA

[ 182 ] January 10, 2017 |

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I will hopefully have something longer about this soon, but the conflicts within the Republican Senate conference identified by Chait and Kliff are worthy of immediate discussion.

  • The battle to preserve the most important elements of the ACA is far from over and will require a lot of work. McConnell might be able to get repeal n’ delay rammed through. But the destruction of the ACA is clearly not inevitable. The fight was won on Social Security; it can be won again.
  • It’s very clear that the Democrats are not going to deal, which is the first prerequisite. This will have to be done with Republican votes, and Republicans also count can’t on political cover later on if they repeal without replacement. If you have a Democratic senator, make sure to contact them and urge them to not offer anything, including the fee for the gaming license.
  • Portman signing the “kick the can into next month” letter is key, because I suspect the strongest firewall the ACA has is Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan having accepted the Medicaid expansion. Note that, for example, while Matt Bevin was able to win while running against the ACA, Kynect is still standing. Any Republican without a very strong substantive commitment to denying health care to poor people is not going to like the politics of huge Medicaid cutbacks in three crucial swing states. Would Paul Ryan do this anyway? Absolutely. Is this the hill Mitch McConnell wants to stake his majority leadership on? It’s possible, but I’m not sure. The lack of cohesion we’re already seeing would seem to indicate that he’s less than fully committed.
  • As Chait says, the next 6 weeks or so is critical. Repeal and bullshit works best if it’s nearly immediate; the politics for the Republicans just get steadily worse the longer they can’t do anything. Stopping a even a Potemkin repeal, while far from the end of the war, would be yooge. And I think it’s possible.

Bishop to King 7

[ 129 ] January 9, 2017 |

Trump has criticized: Republicans, Democrats, the Pope, US elections, CIA, FBI, NATO, Meryl Streep. Trump hasn’t criticized: Vladimir Putin.

The Great American Cynic

[ 54 ] January 9, 2017 |

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This is indeed Mitch McConnell in a nutshell:

Obviously, this isn’t going to cause McConnell to change his behavior, but Senate Dems need to be continually reminded that the Republican conference has entirely abandoned long-standing norms and act likewise.

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