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Silicosis Rule

[ 69 ] March 25, 2016 |

Silicosis 1

Another day, another great move by Obama’s Department of Labor.

The Department of Labor is issuing a long-awaited and controversial rule Thursday aimed at better protecting workers from inhaling silica dust.

The new rule dramatically reduces the allowed exposure limits for workers in a slew of industries, from construction to manufacturing to fracking.

About 2.3 million people in the U. S. are exposed to fine grains of silica on the job; inhaling the dust is one of the oldest known workplace hazards. Silica, which is basically sand, scars the lungs, causing diseases like silicosis and cancer.

Secretary of Labor Tom Perez says the existing rule that limits a worker’s exposure to silica dust hasn’t been changed since the early 1970s. And even back then, he adds, research showed the exposure limit didn’t offer adequate protection.

“We’ve known for over 40 years that it needed to be strengthened, and it has taken 40 years to strengthen it,” says Perez. “Many people who are going to work right now and breathing unacceptable levels of silica dust are in for a brighter future.”

He says the current rule for construction sites caps exposure at 250 micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air.

“And the science says we need to be at 50,” says Perez. “So that’s what the final rule will say.” That same updated exposure limit will apply to general industry as well, he adds, which will cut the current exposure limit in half.

Of course, we know there really isn’t any difference between the two parties and voting is a consumer choice anyway, so why even bother if Bernie Sanders isn’t the nominee, unless you think that we can heighten the contradictions with a Trump presidency……

Incidentally, I love this trial balloon of Hillary naming Secretary of Labor Tom Perez as her VP candidate. I think that would be great. No, he’s never been elected to office. But that never hurt Chester Arthur! He’s tremendously competent, is a really strong progressive, is Dominican-American and speaks fluent Spanish, and has a lot more concrete accomplishments than Julian Castro. My wife, a historian of Latin America with very deep roots in Mexican immigrant communities and therefore who knows far more about these things than I do, assures me that Latinos won’t really care that Castro can’t speak Spanish and that’s it would be an aspirational assimiliationist story more than a liability. But it certainly isn’t going to hurt that Perez is fluent in Spanish. We all know that barring naming someone who turns into a huge liability like Tom Eagleton or Sarah Palin, VP candidates don’t really shift elections. But given the likely significant increase in Latino voting because of the open Republican war against them, reinforcing that Democrats are the party of Latinos by naming a very skilled Dominican to the ticket is certainly not going to hurt. Plus it would be nice if organized labor actually got a big prize for all its support for once.

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The Jobless White Working Class

[ 96 ] March 25, 2016 |

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It would be nice to not have to talk about a white working class in the United States. I would love to just talk about the working class, where it wouldn’t really matter if they were white, black, or Latino because they would have interests in common. But of course that is never going to happen. Even assuming that racial animosity could decrease, the histories and geographies of different races are simply too different. And thus we have a white working class problem, especially as many of them are finding Donald Trump appealing because he voices their frustrations and their hatreds. Of course some of those hatreds are openly racist, but the frustrations of not having any economic opportunities or any future is real too. Yet neither party has even started thinking of a jobs program for working-class people that is even marginally based in reality. Telling people to go to college or get retrained for largely nonexistent jobs is simply not a jobs policy. Yet even Bernie Sanders’ campaign, as useful as it has been on economic inequality, is very quiet on this sort of thing. These people are struggling, and the economic consequences are seen in growing educational disparities and health disparities. We need to pay attention to their stories and act upon them.

When you go into these communities and leave the small bubbles of success –Manhattan, Los Angeles, northern Virginia, Cambridge – and listen to people who work with their hands, you hear a uniform frustration and a constant anxiety. In a country of such amazing wealth, a large percentage of people are trying not to sink.

In Blossburg, Pennsylvania, Arnie Knapp walks five miles into town every morning, trying to keep his body in shape and not succumb to the various injuries he suffered working the mills. He started working at 14 and once they closed, he worked a series of lower-paying jobs. Unlike the characters profiled in the National Review article, he isn’t looking for a handout: “I haven’t asked for anything but work from anyone. Problem is, there aren’t a lot of jobs around here any more.”

In Appleton, Wisconsin, Tom Lawless, who has been driving long-haul trucks all his life and measures his success in millions of miles safely driven, is frustrated: “I am getting squeezed, my pay gets lower, and my costs go higher.”

In Ohatchee, Alabama, Larry, taking a day off work to take his son fishing, is gracious but frustrated: “I have worked in foundries all my life, since I was 15. Hard work, and I don’t got a lot of money to show for it.”

The frustration isn’t just misplaced nostalgia – the economic statistics show the same thing.

It’s hardly surprising that Kevin Williamson would turn on the very people he needs to vote in his political agenda. There’s never been anything but contempt from the rich toward poor whites. Now that those poor whites are voting Trump instead of Jeb or Walker or even Cruz, there’s no reason to even hide the hate anymore. And while we would like to think that these voters would “vote their interests” and support Democrats, and of course some do, the reality is that they see their own interests in a variety of ways. Some prioritize their white identity, some their evangelicalism or Catholicism, some their love of shooting things, some their economic class. Without leftist organizing in these towns and cities, there’s little reason to expect the white working class to organize to see themselves as workers primarily. That’s especially true when they barely know anyone with jobs to begin with. But regardless of this, if we want to blunt the force of Trumpism and fight to prevent future Trumps from demagoguing the frustrations of the white working class into scary political violence and eliminationist rhetoric, we need to give the white working class (as well as the other working classes) a reason to believe in this nation. The answer has to be jobs. We need a jobs program for people who do not graduate from college. People need to be able to live dignified lives with hope for the future. But with Carrier moving 1400 jobs from Indiana to Mexico, to use one of thousands of examples of the flight of good jobs from working people (not to mention their automation), the reason for working class people to have hope in this nation is declining, not increasing. Until we have a real answer to this–until we have a solid program or at least a solid set of demands for a comprehensive jobs program–we can expect more white working class support of racist and fascist candidates.

The Privilege of the Sanders Die-Hard

[ 288 ] March 25, 2016 |

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As it becomes increasingly clear that Bernie Sanders will not be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, his most die-hard supporters are trying to figure out what to do. They have worked themselves into such a fever that Hillary Clinton is Evil Incarnate that the idea of voting for her is not something they can consider. What they will do when Sanders not only endorses Clinton but works hard for her on the campaign trail, trying to get his supporters to vote for her, will be interesting. Maybe they will say he’s not sincere, maybe they will call him a sellout. But what do HA Goodman, Walker Bragman, and Brogan Morris have in common, other than having names that sound made up by a bad author writing a terrible novel about a boarding school? They are all rich white dudes who are able to say that they will never vote for Hillary because they will not have to personally face the consequences of a Republican president.

If Donald Trump gets elected, how many vulnerable people will be hurt, how many programs cut, how bad will the the economy get under conservative policies? How much damage will be done if Trump, an open racist and misogynist, is empowered to command our military, veto bills, and nominate people to the Supreme Court, impacting life in the US for decades to come?

Trump exhorts his followers to attack protestors at his rallies (“The next time we see him, we might have to kill him,” a follower said after punching a black protestor at a rally.) Trump excuses his followers who attack a homeless Hispanic man on the street, claims that Mexican immigrants are rapists, refused to distance himself from the Ku Klux Klan, supports banning Muslims from entering the US, advocates killing the families of terrorists, and is openly sexist. Trump is the worst America has to offer.

How privileged do you need to be to imagine that it’s a good idea to risk the actual lives of vulnerable Americans because you “hate” Clinton so much that you vow to stay home if Sanders doesn’t get the nomination? How protected from the consequences of a Trump presidency do you need to be to think your hatred of Clinton constitutes, as I saw someone say earlier this week, an “inviolable principle,” meaning that it’s more important than the lives of vulnerable Americans? That all applies equally to any Clinton supporters saying the same about Sanders. (We have yet to see the full weight of American anti-Semitism aimed at Sanders, and if he wins the nomination, we most certainly will.)

Vote for whoever you like in the primary. But let’s step away from vicious attacks and hatred. Let’s step away from buying into debunked conservative propaganda about Clinton’s trustworthiness. Let’s look at the candidates’ actual proposals and weigh those proposals’ actual strengths and weaknesses. Let’s respect each other’s choices in the primaries.

And whoever becomes the Democratic nominee, the stakes are far, far too high for us to selfishly stay home because we didn’t get our first choice. I will happily, proudly vote for either Clinton or Sanders, and I hope you will do the right thing and join me.

This of course should be self-evident to anyone who is not an utter narcissist. But alas, the idea of voting as a consumer choice that defines you as a moral individual is a cult that will not go away. In November, you are going to have a choice. One choice will be a Lesser Evil candidate with a lot of problems but who will also do a lot of good things. The other will be a fascist. The choice is yours. There is no other choice. Not voting because the Democratic Party candidate is not your primary preference does not mean you are above the fray or not morally responsible for what happens in this nation over the next four years (or much longer). It just means you are a preening individualist who privileges his (and let’s face it, it will usually be his) own self-regard over the community of people around you–women, unionists, environmentalists, GLBT, immigrants, African-Americans who still want the right to vote, etc. I don’t particularly care for Hillary Clinton. But there is no possible way I will not vote for her in November against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz.

By the way, it was Noon who created the above image.

On Peeps

[ 109 ] March 25, 2016 |

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It’s always good to have a union-based holiday. So here’s a list of union-made candy, usefully provided by UFCW.

However, I want to be clear on something. Don’t blame unions for Peeps. Peeps are candy bought by parents who don’t love their children, but feel social pressure to buy candy for them anyway. People often blame unions for the terrible U.S. cars of the 1970s and 1980s. This is ridiculous. It’s not like the UAW was involved in the design process. Similarly, it’s not like UFCW is involved in the decision to continue to make the worst candy in known human history. They are just making sure said terrible candy supports a middle-class household.

Obama’s Legacy

[ 167 ] March 25, 2016 |

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Dylan Matthews:

[The ACA] is, to quote Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol, “a century-defining accomplishment in the last industrial democracy to resist using national government to ensure access to health coverage for most citizens.” FDR failed, Truman failed, Nixon failed, Carter failed, Clinton failed — and Obama succeeded. He filled in the one big remaining gap in the American welfare state when all his forerunners couldn’t.

But Obama’s domestic achievements were not just limited to health care.

The Affordable Care Act was hardly Obama’s only accomplishment. He passed a stimulus bill that included major reforms to the nation’s education system, big spending on clean energy, and significant expansions of antipoverty programs. He shepherded through the Dodd-Frank Act, the first significant crackdown on Wall Street’s power in a generation, which has been far more successful than commonly acknowledged.

He used executive action to enact bold regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and to protect nearly 6 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. He ended the ban on gay and lesbian service in the military, made it easier for women and minorities to fight wage discrimination, cut out wasteful private sector involvement in student loans, and hiked the top income tax rate. He reprofessionalized the Department of Justice and refashioned the National Labor Relations Board and the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department into highly effective forces for workers’ rights.

His presidency holds massive symbolic value as proof that the reign of white men over American government can be halted and America as a whole can be represented. And while he was too slow in announcing support for same-sex marriage, he appointed two of the justices behind the Supreme Court’s historic decision that legalized it nationwide, and enlisted his Justice Department on the side of the plaintiffs.

There are obviously places Obama fell short. I think he didn’t take monetary policy nearly seriously enough, that he’s fallen short on combating HIV/AIDS and other public health scourges abroad, that his early push to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants was indefensible, and that perpetrators of torture and other war crimes from the Bush administration should have been criminally prosecuted. But while Obama could have accomplished more, it could never be said that he accomplished little.

“When you add the ACA to the reforms in the stimulus package, Dodd-Frank, and his various climate initiatives,” Pierson says, “I don’t think there is any doubt: On domestic issues Obama is the most consequential and successful Democratic president since LBJ. It isn’t close.”

[…]

And on foreign issues, Obama’s record is perhaps the most successful of any Democratic president since Truman. He has reestablished productive diplomacy as the central task of a progressive foreign policy, and as a viable alternative approach to dealing with countries the GOP foreign policy establishment would rather bomb.

[…]

You can generally divide American presidents into two camps: the mildly good or bad but ultimately forgettable (Clinton, Carter, Taft, Harrison), and the hugely consequential for good or ill (FDR, Lincoln, Nixon, Andrew Johnson). Whether you love or hate his record, there’s no question Obama’s domestic and foreign achievements place him firmly in the latter camp.

This, of course, isn’t just about Obama — where the statutory achievements are concerned, it’s about Reid and Pelosi as well, just as the large Democratic majorities and moderate/liberal Republican allies were crucial to the New Deal and Great Society. But it’s true that there have been a handful of American presidencies under which there were major shifts in American policy in a clearly progressive direction — Lincoln, FDR, LBJ — and Obama is the fourth. (You can argue for Wilson, but Obama’s record even in historical context is much more consistently progressive.) It’s true that the major achievements under Obama are all flawed, but as Erik said recently the New Deal in particular was very heavily compromised — sometimes by the need for segregationist votes, sometimes because FDR himself had bad ideas. The high-veto-point institutional structure of American politics doesn’t lend itself to unambiguous wins for the left; it’s just that it’s easier to forget the compromises of the past than those of the present. The idea that has graced so many Harper’s cover stories (and, apparently, Tom Frank’s new book) that the Obama presidency was a minor blip signifying the further drift of the Democratic Party to the right is absurd now and will look even more absurd in 20 years. Among other issues, it’s just a massively ahistorical argument.

Friday Linkage

[ 55 ] March 25, 2016 |

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By Bill Dickinson (websites [2][3]) – [1], CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14815966

Tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Orlando, the Happiest Place in the World if you’re on heavy drugs. Blogging will be even more intermittent than normal.  To tide you over, some links:

The Latest Conservative Challenge to the Contraceptive Mandate is an Embarrassment

[ 103 ] March 25, 2016 |

Chief-Justice-John-Roberts

Marty Lederman has two excellent posts about the oral arguments in Zubik v. Burwell earlier this week. The first deals with why the use of the “hikacking” metaphor to try to explain why the latest accommodation to employers with religious objections constitute a “substantial burden” is inapt.

Even if one assumes arguendo that these employers still face a “substantial burden” — and Kennedy’s position, like that of the other Republican nominees, seems to be that the word “substantial” should for all intents and purposes be read out of the statute — the government can still prevail if it can show that the new accommodation is the least restrictive means of advancing the compelling state objectives of the ACA. And here’s where the conservative arguments stop being merely implausible and become something worse. The proposed less restrictive choice available to the government posited by Alito and Roberts shows either egregious bad faith or nearly comprehensive ignorance of the relevant policy details:

The oral argument focused on one of the petitioners’ proposed alternatives, raised by Justice Alito–namely, offering women who work for an objecting employer the option of “obtain[ing] a contraceptive-­only policy free of charge on one of the Exchanges.” Because such contraception-only plans would not really be insurance plans in the typical sense–they would simply be a means of payment for preventive services that the women in question will purchase–such an option would have to be fully subsidized by Congress (for otherwise the insurance companies would have no incentive to offer such stand-alone “coverage”).

Such a “subsidized contraception-only Exchange plan” option would not be a less restrictive means of advancing the government’s compelling interests, for purposes of RFRA. Most obviously, it would, quite simply, result in fewer women having access to effective contraception–and thus more unplanned pregnancies–by creating (in the SG’s words) “precisely the kinds of barriers” to access “that Congress was trying to eliminate.” Part III-A-1-a of the Health Experts’ amicus brief (pp. 12-14), filed by Marcy Wilder and Hogan Lovells, offers a compelling explanation of why that’s the case: I set out that explanation below.

Before turning to that reason, however, there is an even more fundamental objection: A “subsidized contraception-only exchange plan” option cannot be a less restrictive means for purposes of RFRA because it would require a new legislative enactment, including a new appropriation (or some other financial mechanism, such as tax credits) to pay — in full — for the costs of the hypothetical contraception-only plans.

It’s worth clicking through to read the elaboration of the argument, which is definitive. I just wish I was equally optimistic about whether it will persuade Kennedy.

Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure

[ 23 ] March 25, 2016 |

CT scans of 6 types of traumatic brain injury – NINDS

The NYT put its big reporter’s pants on and found the NFL concussion study omitted more than 10% of diagnosed cases.

For the last 13 years, the N.F.L. has stood by the research, which, the papers stated, was based on a full accounting of all concussions diagnosed by team physicians from 1996 through 2001. But confidential data obtained by The Times shows that more than 100 diagnosed concussions were omitted from the studies — including some severe injuries to stars like quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman. The committee then calculated the rates of concussions using the incomplete data, making them appear less frequent than they actually were.

After The Times asked the league about the missing diagnosed cases — more than 10 percent of the total — officials acknowledged that “the clubs were not required to submit their data and not every club did.” That should have been made clearer, the league said in a statement, adding that the missing cases were not part of an attempt “to alter or suppress the rate of concussions.”

Uh. Yeah. Like, we should have mentioned that. But the reason we didn’t was like, totally not because we’re lying or anything.

One member of the concussion committee, Dr. Joseph Waeckerle, said he was unaware of the omissions. But he added: “If somebody made a human error or somebody assumed the data was absolutely correct and didn’t question it, well, we screwed up. If we found it wasn’t accurate and still used it, that’s not a screw-up; that’s a lie.”

Screw up or lie? To quote the immortal bard – Why not both?

Book Review: Steven Conn: Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the Twentieth Century

[ 190 ] March 25, 2016 |

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Above: The New Deal experimental town of Greendale, Wisconsin

Steven Conn’s smart, witty, and even funny book is an excellent overview of how a deep mistrust of cities and strong anti-urbanism among urban planners themselves shaped American urban policy through the twentieth century. This is an important addition to the literature on urban history. It’s also worth a read from a general audience interested in urban issues in the present.

Conn argues the purpose of book is to describe the relationship between the physical and political landscape as they develop in the 20th century. The former is the suburbanized landscape of much of metropolitan America; the latter is the deep suspicion of government and the role it should play in our lives that shapes our political discourse. The two are connected by the anti-urbanism at the core of American life and infrastructure. City planning has largely assumed that density is a dangerous problem that needs a solution of low-density sprawling housing that recreates country living or small towns where they believe democracy originates. With density classified as a problem, both urban theorists and government policy promoted fixing said problem, with long-term results that shape our urban problems today.

Nineteenth-century America was full of anti-urban fears, going back to Jefferson and before. But the explosive growth of the city after the Civil War forced a rethinking of American urbanism. During the Progressive Era, early planners and intellectuals had an urban moment. Conn looks at Chicago, that prototype of American urbanism, where Jane Addams and her colleagues were studying urban conditions to improve the lives of residents, looking at the city from the sidewalks. On the other hand, Daniel Burnham was designing a futuristic city in his Plan for Chicago from 30,000 feet that was largely devoid of real people. But Conn argues both Addams and Burnham saw the city as a site where moral exhortation could no longer handle the urban crisis. Rather, public policy and an activist government would be necessary. Reorganizing space rather than moral reform was necessary. The city became a public rather than a private issue.

But almost immediately, the plans to solve urban problems revolved around reducing their density by decentralizing the city. Lewis Mumford is the most famous decentralist, a child of the city who first tried to establish low-density model housing in Queens through his Sunnyside Gardens project (surprisingly not mentioned by Conn) and who ended up moving to the Hudson Valley. Conn discusses other key figures in this movement such as Ralph Borsodi and his experiments moving people out of Dayton, where he hoped a small village with no government interference would provide a model for the future. Frank Lloyd Wright loathed cities. Like Borsodi, Mumford, Catherine Bauer, and others, he hoped to restore democratic community to a nation dominated by dangerous cities. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was influenced by such thinkers. An anti-urbanist himself, the Tennessee Valley Authority may have provided the power for the growth of southern urbanism, but his New Deal planners hoped to create their own small villages through the greenbelt town project and the TVA model towns like Norris, Tennessee. Conn quotes liberally from commenters of the time about what these towns provided. What provided the good life to Americans was air and grass and sunlight in the open country, the opposite of the dirty, grungy, dense, polyglot city. Longing for a reversal of industrial capitalism into a romanticized vision of agrarian life was more palatable to these planners than reconfiguring the cities to make them work better for the residents. Of course, none of these experiments actually created some new sort of democratic anti-urban paradise. Mostly, they all ended up failing entirely or just became suburbs not too different than other suburbs.

At the heart of most of these plans was a romanticized idea of the values of the small town and countryside that often belied their reality. At the same time that rural New England was deeply impoverished in the first half of the twentieth century, urban theorists dreamed of the area’s villages and their supposedly democratic politics as an antidote to the big, filthy, impoverished, crime-ridden city. This would influence post-war urban planing as well.

We often think of postwar suburbanization as a story fundamentally about white flight and race. It is, but that racism just amplified and built upon the already existing anti-urban bias to create the postwar suburban landscape. Of course, the creation of the suburbs did not just take tax dollars and jobs away from the inner cities, leaving African-Americans in deep poverty, but the interstates that shuttled white people to and from the cities ran straight through black neighborhoods, usually more for reasons of the path of least resistance that overt targeting of black people. But as they tore up black housing, these planners added to the urban housing problems that fed the need for urban renewal instead of seeking to help the problem. Conn calls urban renewal “a conceptual failure, a failure of ideas and imagination,” which started with demolition of housing and at its core was run by people who found density a problem. Of course, dilapidated housing was also a major problem in American cities and that needed attention. But while urban renewal created public housing projects, when those became all-black because of white flight, they were nearly doomed to failure because of the lack of a funding mechanism for upkeep. As urban renewal developed in the 1950s, the cities became spaces where the public good was set at odds with private interests and the latter won. By the 1970s, these plans had sent the cities into the greatest crisis they had ever faced. Seventy-five years of urban planning had not fixed the cities. It had destroyed them. Ultimately that’s because those planning them never liked cities.

Of course, not every city declined in those years. The Sunbelt exploded. So did a few northern cities that already lacked a strong urban core based around heavy industry, like Indianapolis and Columbus. Those cities became geographically huge with very low density. Houston’s zoning-free urbanism and hatred of government interference led to a huge traffic nightmare, deep racial segregation, major pollution problems, and a emphasis on private property rights over any competing ideology. For Columbus, where Conn lives and teaches, this model seemed appealing. Columbus began annexing huge tracts of land in the 1950s, creating one of the most auto-reliant cities in the nation. In addition, Columbus is a city without any identity, or as Conn says, “After the Second World War, Columbus transformed itself from a small, compact nineteenth-century midwestern city into a sprawling Sunbelt-style metropolis, but along the way it lost track of its soul.” (226) By the 1970s, real concern over urban sprawl began to influence urban planners to some extent, but for those who took it seriously, ideas like New Urbanism that came into vogue in the 1990s did not solve the problem of anti-density.

Today, the United States is witnessing arguably the first overtly pro-urban period in its history. It is happening upon an urban landscape that has suffered from a century of anti-urban policies. That has led to housing shortages, gentrification, and escalating rental prices. The few downtown neighborhoods that escaped urban renewal have become incredibly costly. Public transportation lags. The anti-urban impulse is baked into the Republican Party’s DNA, with opposition to public transportation and other programs that would encourage density. Building an urbanism that is inclusive, affordable, and sustainable needs to be a national priority. It is not, even as the demand for this style of living has exploded. Conn believes that the community so many urban planners have sought in the small town and the suburb actually is found in the city. That’s true, but only if we can reshape urban policy to facilitate the infrastructure necessary for dense urbanism to thrive. That’s our challenge. Understanding the roots of the present problem is key to reshaping our cities. Conn’s interesting work can help us on that journey.

Garry Shandling

[ 35 ] March 24, 2016 |

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The influential comic and star of one of the greatest shows in television history died today at age 66. R.I.P.

Shandling was offered and turned down a couple of offers to do his own late night show — including one to replace Letterman — and he was right. (The monologues that appeared on the show were 1)typical of the genre, and 2)almost always the least funny part.) Larry Sanders was a great show that remained consistently excellent to the end. Shandling’s title character was the neurotic straight man playing off two of the greatest comic creations the medium has ever seen — Jeffrey Tambor’s Hank Kingsley and Rip Torn’s Artie — along with crucial contributions from actors like Janeane Garofalo, Scott Thompson, Bob Odenkirk and and Wallace Langham. It was not only extremely funny, it was frequently wise about people who knew what the business they’ve chosen was doing to them and couldn’t resist. (“Fame as addiction” as Rick Perlstein put it on Facebook.) Coming just before HBO’s Golden Age — it apparently was a major influence on David Chase — it can’t be streamed legally right now, but you can get the whole series on DVD for 20 bucks.

I can’t figure out how to emded it, but this late dialogue with Jerry Seinfeld is very good, and poignant.

…excellent tribute from Pareene.

Voter Suppression Works Well

[ 137 ] March 24, 2016 |

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Now that the relevant parts of the Voting Rights Act have been declared unconstitutional by our lovely Supreme Court, the states that long engaged in racist voting practices are now free to do so again. Such as Arizona, where the statewide effort to stop brown people from voting worked great in this week’s primary.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton requested a federal investigation Wednesday into long voter wait times during Arizona’s presidential preference election.

“Throughout the county, but especially in Phoenix, thousands of citizens waited in line for three, four, and even five hours to vote,” he wrote in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Stanton alleged that, by cutting down the number of polling places, the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office unfairly made minorities wait longer to vote.

“In Phoenix, a majority-minority city, county officials allocated one polling location for every 108,000 residents,” the letter read.

“The ratios were far more favorably in predominantly Anglo communities: In Cave Creek/Carefree, there was one polling location for 8,500 residents; in Paradise Valley, one for every 13,00 residents; in Fountain Hills, one for 22,500 residents; and in Peoria, one for every 54,000 residents.”

One polling location for 108,000 residents. That’s good news for John McCain!

Also, the idea that this is some sort of Hillary scheme is really stupid and irresponsible. That’s Bernie supporter conspiracy theories at their very worst. Yeah, I’m sure the Republican controlled Arizona government is totally rigging the game so their candidate doesn’t have to run against an avowed socialist. That makes a ton of sense….

BREAKING! Wealthy Union-Busting White Publisher Willing To Take His Chances With Donald Trump

[ 189 ] March 24, 2016 |

Dumb and Dumber (Screengrab)

Over the past few years, Rick MacAruthur has been publishing anti-Democratic screeds with a notable lack of quality control. This has led to a logical conclusion:

But my wife’s question wasn’t about Hillary per se. It was about Hillary as the last rampart against the vicious vulgarity of Donald Trump. If ever there were a moral case for choosing the lesser of two evils, wasn’t this it? My answer is no.

If the primary issue you see with a Republican taking over the White House is “vulgarity,” this is what you call “privilege.” To back up a bit:

Sanders partly had himself to blame. Despite his denunciation of Wall Street chicanery and factory jobs lost to China and Mexico, the insurgent senator from Vermont has repeatedly failed to be specific, tactically flexible or appropriately critical of Hillary’s profound dishonesty. Beginning last October, when he gave her a pass on her use of private emails while employed in her public position as Secretary of State (‘the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails’), the self-proclaimed socialist insisted on placing politeness and decorum above strategic intelligence.

Yes, if only Sanders had viciously attacked Hillary Clinton throughout the race, with particular attention to the email faux-scandal, he would be the presumptive Democratic nominee. You know, I’m beginning to think that people who thoroughly despise the Democratic Party may not be the best-positioned to provide advice about how to assemble majority coalitions of Democrats.

No friend of labour, Trump benefits from the Clintons’ reliance on Wall Street cash and works it to his advantage

“Friend of labour” is a place MacArthur really, really doesn’t want to go.

Of course I won’t vote for Donald Trump. He’s a wolf in wolf’s clothing. But all around me I hear liberal sheep rustling in the fields, preparing to rationalise their vote for Hillary. I’d rather spoil my ballot by writing in ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ — and take my chances with the wolf.

Congratulations! So principled! After all, you won’t be prevented from obtaining an abortion, or denied access to health care, or be affected by non-enforcement of civil rights laws. And you’ll actually materially benefit from Republican tax policies and a Republican-controlled NLRB. But so noble of you to be willing to have horrible things happen to other people in order to congratulate yourself for being the Leftiest Lefty Who Ever Lefted (just don’t ask my employees!)

While we’re here, I really love the fact that the latest random guy Salon has commissioned to put his name on the same “Bernie or bust” article is actually named “Brogan Morris.” I assume that this is like “Nanker Phlege,” a pseudonym representing a collective effort from HA! Goodman, Walker Bragman, and Matt Stoller? Anyway, most of this is dumb arguments that have been made equally badly elsewhere, but I do admire how boldly he’s repurposed Sarah Palin’s theory of the First Amendment to voting:

In reality, these supporters have every right to say “Bernie or Bust.”

Firstly, and obviously, they do literally have the right. The right to vote is not also an obligation to vote, despite what some may say. The core principle of democracy is freedom of choice, in who you vote for, and in whether you decide to vote at all. (Just as a side-note, voting numbers have been going down for a long time. It’s not like we can exclusively berate Bernie or Busters for refusing to vote Democrat when for years voters have increasingly been too disillusioned to turn out for either side.)

Yes, indeed, you have the inalienable right to not vote or to vote irrationally, and other people have the inalienable right to make fun of you when your stated public reasons for not voting or voting irrationally are massively stupid. That’s democracy! As for the idea that vote turnout is on an inexorable downward trend, not really so much.

And now, the punchline:

To voters on a national level, and certainly to Bernie or Busters, Clinton vs. Trump is very much a Giant Douche vs Turd Sandwich scenario (thankyou, “South Park”).

Yep, nothing establishes your cred as a leftier-than-thou, and thou, and especially thou than quoting Parker and Stone. Cool story, Brogressive!

…in fairness to Brogan, it could be worse — he could be Camille Paglia. Some lowlights from her latest excretion (no link):

Given that most people, sequestered at their workplace, were unable to monitor the full range of responses throughout the day, the candidate who emerged on top was almost certainly Donald Trump. Despite his alarming enthusiasm for waterboarding and torture, Trump’s central campaign theme of securing the borders and more stringently vetting immigrants was strengthened by the events in Brussels, a historic city whose changing demographics he had already controversially warned about. Trump’s credibility would be enhanced if he treated the vital immigration issue in general policy terms rather than divisively singling out specific groups (Mexican, Muslim), the majority of whom are manifestly law-abiding.

[…]

I will never cast my vote for a corrupt and incompetent candidate whose every policy is poll-tested in advance. If Hillary is the Democratic nominee, I will write in Sanders or vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party, as I did in 2012 as a protest against Obama’s unethical use of drones and the racially divisive tone of his administration.

[…]

But a Trump-Hillary death match will be a national nightmare, a race to the bottom for both parties, as Democratic and Republican operatives compete to dig up the most lurid and salacious dirt on both flawed candidates. We’ll be sadistically trapped in an endless film noir, with Trump as Citizen Kane, Don Corleone and Scarface and Hillary as Norma Desmond, Mommie Dearest and the Wicked Witch of the West.

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