Open Thread: You Come At the Queen…

Cue the Somewhat Soiled Lady, a day late and a hot-take short — “Nancy Pelosi Tells Democratic Critics, ‘I Think I’m Worth the Trouble’”:

The House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, strolled before the cameras on Thursday with defeat at her back once more, projecting a well-worn swagger — brash, defiant, more than a little off key — as she insisted that her moment had not passed…

With six words, Ms. Pelosi, 77, demonstrated the self-assurance that has powered her as one of the most successful congressional leaders in the modern era. Yet even as Democrats enjoy a surge of grass-roots energy that could resurrect their House majority, some members of Ms. Pelosi’s own party are impatient for her to give up her 15-year grip on power.

She is the Democrat most crucial to determining whether her party can take back the House and torpedo President Trump’s agenda — an avatar of the kind of coastal excess that Republicans abhor and that some progressives have come to view suspiciously in an age of ascendant populism.

“Everybody wants leaders,” she said in an interview in her office at the Capitol, during which she was often as dismissive of critics in her own party as she was of the Republican opposition. “Not a lot of people want to be led.”
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While Weasels Gnaw Our Flesh

Just a quick hit to remind everyone that while the criminal investigation of Trump and co. widens, they’re still pissing on us at every opportunity, and calling it rain.

So how’s this: it’s going to be legal again/stay OK for profit-making higher ed to rip off their students/protect the banksters:

The U.S. Department of Education is hitting pause on two of the Obama administration’s primary rules aimed at reining in for-profit colleges.

Department officials said they will block a rule, set to take effect next month, that clarifies how student borrowers can have their loans forgiven if they were defrauded or misled by their college. The plan was first reported by Inside Higher Ed Wednesday.

The Trump administration will pursue a do-over of the rule-making process that produced that regulation, known as borrower defense to repayment, as well as the gainful-employment rule. The latter holds vocational programs at all institutions and all programs at for-profits accountable when they produce graduates with burdensome student loan debt.

Given that college debt is one of the most iron-clad ways to crush upward mobility, this is another move by Trump and the grotesque DeVos to ensure that the current class structure in the United States remains intact.

Putting this in the long view:  the GI Bill, followed by the prioritization of public higher education in the 60s by leaders like Governor Pat Brown of California and Governor George Romney of Michigan, put first class advanced education and training within reach of an unprecedented amount of Americans.  The retreat from that ideal led by (mostly but not exclusively) Republican state governments, beginning with Reagan in California and then in the White House, have incrementally narrowed that opportunity.  Now, the combinatio of cost and constraints on access meant that the debt involved makes higher education as much or more a burden as it is the engine of a better life.

Today’s Republican party is just fine with that.  DeVos is not an outlier; this isn’t on Trump, or only on him.  The idea that higher ed (or education in general) is a business in which students are the product on whom to make a profit is utterly destructive of either a democratic ideal or any plausible concept of social justice.  And it is the core tenet of today’s radical conservatives calling themselves members of the Party of Lincoln.

One last thought:  I had dinner last week with a Democratic Party senior statesman.  He told me that in his view we’ve made the mistake of thinking better policies are argument enough for elections.  They’re not; we surely know that now, right?

Instead we have to convey something more, the framework in which specific good policies can work.  DeVos’ current obscenity gives us a hint as to what that might be. Republicans throw obstacles in the way of Americans making better lives.  Democrats are — and we should say so as loud as we can — the party of opportunity.

At least that’s my take.  I know it’s hardly original.  But whatever the particular frame you may favor, I think one of our biggest needs right now is to find a way to both describe and be (ever more) the party that can lay claim to affirmative allegiance, and not just the true fact that we are better than the other side.  Your feeling?

(Oh — and happy Father’s Day, all.  This thread should be open enough to tell us your plans, completed or still in prospect, for the day.  Mine? Pick up one of the rib-eyes on sale at Whole Paycheck today, and smoke it in the Weber egg.)

Image: Winslow Homer, The Country School 1871



Muslim Ban 2.0 — First Time Tragedy; Second Time Tragic Farce

I’ll leave it to the more knowledgeable among us to dissect (looking at you, Adam…). But the greatest hits are about what I’d expected.  Iraq’s off the list as we owe too much to too many there.  The other six countries from the original order remain, though the specific restrictions are a little different than in Fear The Furriner version one.  Here’s The Washington Post‘s take:

President Trump signed a new travel ban Monday that administration officials said they hope will end legal challenges over the matter by imposing a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six majority-Muslim nations, authorities said.

In addition, the nation’s refu­gee program will be suspended for 120 days, and it will not accept more than 50,000 refugees in a year, down from the 110,000 cap set by the Obama administration.

 

The goal is obviously to deliver some red meat to the Trump base while sliding past inconvenient judicial reality tests. Trumpistas are already suggesting that the administration should not have to justify the order in court, despite evidence that there is no net national security gain from a Muslim ban:

A Department of Homeland Security report assessing the terrorist threat posed by people from the seven countries covered by President Trump’s original travel ban had cast doubt on the necessity of the executive order, concluding that citizenship was an “unreliable” threat indicator and that people from the affected countries have rarely been implicated in U.S.-based terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, criticized the report as being incomplete and not vetted with other agencies, and he also asserted the administration should not be pressed by the judiciary to unveil sensitive national security details to justify the ban.

“This is not something that the Department of Justice should have to represent to a federal-district court judge,” the official said.

We shall see.

Over to y’all.

Image: Benjamin West, The Ambassador from Tunis with His Attendants as He Appeared in England in 1781, 1781



The Common Inheritance, The Common Defense

A bit of self promotion here, but I’ve got a piece in today’s Boston Globe that might be of interest to some here.

It’s a look at what the idea of the commons — not just the abstract, model commons of Garrett Hardin’s famous essay, but the historical commons as actually lived and used — can tell us about current problems.  The TL:DR is that commons are not inherently prone to tragedy, but that the preservation of communal goods requires…wait for it…communal action: regulation, self-regulation.

This is, of course, exactly what the Republican Party denies — more, loathes and condemns.  With Trump, they’re getting their way, but its vital to remember that the consequences that will flow from these decisions are not down to him, or simply so: the entire Republican power structure is eager to do this, and when we pay the price, we must remember who ran up the bill.

Anyway, here’s a taste from my piece.  Head on over to the Globe’s site if you want more.

The idea of the commons is deeply woven through the history of the English countryside. Shakespeare captured this idyllic approach to nature’s wealth in “As You Like It,” when the shepherd Corin explains to the cynic Touchstone the joys of his life. “I earn that I eat, get that I wear,” he says, adding that “the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze and my lambs suck” — in the unowned, readily shared Forest of Arden.

There can be trouble in such an Eden, as Hardin pointed out in an influential 1968 paper. Hardin asked what would happen if access to a commons were truly unfettered — if Corin and every other villager ran as many sheep as they could there. In such cases, Hardin argued, the endgame is obvious: Too many animals would eat too much fodder, leaving the ground bare, unable to support any livestock at all.

The evolution of resistance to antibiotics fits that story perfectly. The first modern bacteria-killing drug, penicillin, came into widespread use in 1944, as American laboratories raced to produce millions of doses in time for D-Day. The next year, its discoverer, Alexander Fleming, used his Nobel Prize lecture to describe precisely how this wonder drug could lose its power, telling the sad tale of a man who came down with a strep infection. In his tale, Mr. X didn’t finish his course of penicillin, and his surviving microbes, now “educated” (Fleming’s term), infected his wife. When her course of penicillin failed to eradicate these now-resistant microbes, Mrs. X died — killed, Fleming said, by her husband’s carelessness. It took just one more year for this fable to turn into fact: In 1946, four American soldiers came down with drug-resistant gonorrhea, the first such resistance on record.

 

Go on — check it out.  You want to hear about the great Charnwood Forest rabbit riot.  You know you do…

Image: Jacopo da Ponte, Sheep and Lambc. 1650.



Open Thread: Tom Perez for DNC Chair

Former Vice President Joe Biden is backing Tom Perez to head the Democratic National Committee, calling the former Obama administration labor secretary the “best bet to help bring the party back.”

Biden’s endorsement — a sign of Perez’s strong support among former Obama administration officials — drew a sharp response from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, escalating the relatively sleepy party chairman battle into a fight between the liberal wing that supported Sanders’ insurgent primary bid and backers of Hillary Clinton….

Biden cast Perez, a Dominican-American civil rights lawyer who grew up in the Rust Belt, as a tireless champion of working Americans, immigrants and the disabled.

“He knows how to explain why our party’s core beliefs matter to the immigrant family in Arizona and the coal miner in West Virginia. That matters,” Biden said in a statement. “I’ve watched him work. I think I know his heart. That’s why I endorse him as the next chairman of the DNC.”

Perez, who was quietly urged by the White House to jump into the race, faces his stiffest competition from Ellison…

Along with Perez and Ellison, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, South Carolina Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison, New Hampshire Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley, Democratic strategist Jehmu Greene and the executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, Sally Boynton Brown, are in the race…

When the BernieBros first glommed on to Rep. Ellison as the sock puppet for their one true lord & savior, I was willing to let Ellison have it, even if it meant running another no-doubt-expensive campaign to hold his “safe” seat. Partly because Ellison’s been a staunch Democrat, and partly because there were all these rumors that President Obama would be transitioning his OfA platform into a voting-rights / voting-registration powerhouse that would pretty much replace most of what the DNC is supposed to do anyways.

But I’ve liked Tom Perez more and more, as the campaign went on. And now that Bernie Sanders has signed up for a CNN “debate on Obamacare” with Ted Cruz (predicted conclusion: It’s all that Obama guy’s fault, also every single Democrat and their entire party suxxs)… fuck that greedy little egotist and all his deluded diehard followers with the farm implement of your choice.

Sanders wants to represent the Democrats, let him join the Democratic Party, and stop hotdogging around as The Only Remaining Pure Spirit, Make Checks Out to Cash. And for the Democratic National Committee: TEAM PEREZ.
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Men Like Ravenous Fishes Feed On One Another

Here’s a three-year old video with sadly renewed resonance.

It’s Ian McKellen, delivering a speech from Sir Thomas More, a work from the early 1590s that passed through many hands, including, as author of the passage McKellen performs, William Shakespeare.  It speaks precisely to the predicament we face now, and (as McKellen notes) because it’s Shakespeare’s the demand it makes on us is to discover our humanity.

Would that more of our former friends across the aisle could not just hear him, but listen.

Open thread.



Early Morning Open Thread: Queen of the Useful Idiots

Talent does what it can, genius does what it must, and when it comes to gumming up the wheels Dr. Jill Stein has shown a certain genius. The latest from Reuters:

Wisconsin’s election board agreed on Friday to conduct a statewide recount of votes cast in the presidential race, as requested by a Green Party candidate seeking similar reviews in two other states where Donald Trump scored narrow wins.

The recount process, including an examination by hand of the nearly 3 million ballots tabulated in Wisconsin, is expected to begin late next week after Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s campaign has paid the required fee, the Elections Commission said.

The state faces a Dec. 13 federal deadline to complete the recount, which may require canvassers in Wisconsin’s 72 counties to work evenings and weekends to finish the job in time, according to the commission.

The recount fee has yet to be determined, the agency said in a statement on its website. Stein said in a Facebook message on Friday that the sum was expected to run to about $1.1 million.

She said she has raised at least $5 million from donors since launching her drive on Wednesday for recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – three battleground states where Republican Trump edged out Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by relatively thin margins…


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