Rest in Peace, Greg Lake

Rock-and-roll lost another one in this terrible year. Via the Beeb:

Greg Lake, who fronted both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, has died aged 69.

One of the founding fathers of progressive rock, the British musician is known for songs including In the Court of the Crimson King and his solo hit I Believe in Father Christmas.

He died on Wednesday after “a long and stubborn battle with cancer”, said his manager.

The news comes nine months after Lake’s band-mate Keith Emerson died.

Keyboardist Emerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, coroners in the US said.

Here’s a view of the audience attending Thanksgiving concert featuring King Crimson in 1969:

thanksgiving-1969

At the risk of triggering flashbacks for a certain attendee, here’s a soundtrack to go along with that photo:

Circle of life and all that, but 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year in Suck for all kinds of reasons.








Excellent Read: “On the Subject of Listening to the People of the Land”

I whole-heartedly endorse foundational progressive blogger Driftglass‘s response to the self-styled ‘Jacobins’ and their BothSides media enablers noisily calling for a return to the mythical utopia of the WWC Democrat:

In a former life, my span of responsibility was so weirdly far-flung that when people asked me what I did for a living, I would tell them that I was in charge of saving Illinois manufacturing. And while that’s a wee bit of an exaggeration, it is entirely fair to say that working on every aspect of saving Illinois manufacturing took up most of my time and energy and the time, energy and budget of my tiny staff.

So believe me when I tell that even though I was involuntarily retired from the field of battle, my antennae is still highly attuned to items in the news about the struggles of the Rust Belt economy: outsourcing, manufacturing, skills training, the need to retool high schools and community colleges and the various federal, state and local policies and initiatives designed to get at these large and complex problems.

This is why I can tell you that this idea that “better messaging” to the white working class is somehow the royal road back to political majorities for the Democratic party is nonsense. Sure, Democrats always need to work on speaking like mortal human beings… But messaging itself is not the problem. The media is the problem. And since, as the man said, the medium is the message, until we start taking on the media as Public Enemy #1, we’re going to go right on losing…

1) For a variety if reasons, white working class Americans have been taking a pounding since the late 1970s. And for a different variety of reasons, a disturbingly high number number of white working class Americans keep voting for the people that fuck them over.

2) Judging by policy statements made, resources allocated, attention paid and political capitol spent, it’s quite likely that history will judge the Obama Administration to have been the most consistently pro-manufacturing administration since Eisenhower. In fact, outside of health care (and turkey pardons), I would wager a penny and a fiddle of gold that in the last eight years the Obama administration put more effort into promoting American manufacturing than into any other domestic policy priority.

3) If you are a member of the general public, unless you made an extra special effort to inform yourself, you are blissfully unaware of any of this.

4) If you are blissfully unaware of any of this, it is not because the Obama Administration failed to talk it up at every single opportunity, but because over the last eight years the American political media collectively decided that instead of boring-ass stories about what the Democratic party has been trying to do to improve the lives and futures of the working class Americans, what you needed to hear were lively fairy tales about Birth Certificates and Death Panels. Email servers and Benghaaaazi. A Republican rebranding scam called the “Tea Party”. Instead of stories about the Caucus Room Conspiracy and Republican sabotage and sedition, you needed to hear endlessly, plaintive cries from all the usual Beltway hacks about how Barack Obama was refusing to lead!

…[A]sk an “undecided” or an “independent” or an “I just hadda vote for Trump because…” friend if they remember any of this, and I guarantee you will get a squinty, faraway look as if they’re trying to recollect some obscure fact about the Wendish Crusade of 1147, which had been imparted to them by a forgettable history teacher 40 years ago. Sure, some of this might ring a tiny bell, but inside their heads what will be ringing a much louder bell — an iron bell the size of fucking Ceres which drowns out all your little, Liberal tintinnabulations — are years and year and years of the Very Serious People in Americas finest newspapers and cable teevee shows telling them over and over and over and over again that all of this shit is the fault of Both Sides, so by God why not vote for an “outsider” who will disrupt the Corrupt Duopoly!..

Go read the whole thing, and remember: Sharing is Caring!



So How’s That Trump Vote Working Out for You, Coal Miners?

No one could have predicted:

The Miners Protection Act to address health and pension benefits for coal miners and their families will not be included in a continuing resolution bill, according to a Tuesday announcement.

Congress said the bill, which would continue to fund the federal government, only has four months of funding for those retired miners and their widows.

Cecil Roberts, international president of the United Mine Workers of America, called the announcement “a slap in the face to all 22,000 of them who desperately need their health care next month, next year and for the rest of their lives.”

In a statement released Tuesday night, Roberts went on to say:

“The notion that Congress needs more time to consider this matter is absurd. This legislation has been before Congress for four years, has been through regular order in the Senate as was requested by the Majority Leader, and was passed by the Senate Finance Committee by an overwhelming margin in September. The time to pass the full Miners Protection Act is now,” Robert said.

I’m sure this will be a top priority under the regime of the carrot colored Caligula. ***EYEROLL***








Are You NorCal Folks Okay?

Just got a news alert saying there was a 6.8 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Northern California. Y’all okay?

Open thread.








Scenes from an Italian restaurant

There was a very interesting note in the excellent Washington Post piece about the Comet Ping Pong gunman:

An oddly disproportionate share of the tweets about Pizzagate appear to have come from, of all places, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and Vietnam, said Jonathan Albright, an assistant professor of media analytics at Elon University in North Carolina. In some cases, the most avid retweeters appeared to be bots, programs designed to amplify certain news and information.

“What bots are doing is really getting this thing trending on Twitter,” Albright said. “These bots are providing the online crowds that are providing legitimacy.”

Online, the more something is retweeted or otherwise shared, the more prominently it appears in social media and on sites that track “trending” news. As the bots joined ordinary Twitter users in pushing out Pizzagate-related rumors, the notion spread like wildfire. Who programmed the bots to focus on that topic remains unknown.

What a strange coalition of reg’lar folks and twitter bots the right-wing has become.








Thursday Morning Open Thread: Fight On

Most shared US tweet of 2016, per Buzzfeed.

If she can do it, so can we. Besides, what other option is there?

What’s on the agenda for the day?

***********

Remember Cole’s favorite candidate?

Useful reminders, from genuine reporters…

From ground zero of #Pizzagate:



Death spirals all around

We’re going to see how the Republican Party can create a death spiral in the individual market in sixty days or less. They have a few choices:

US Individual Market Policies

First Philip Klein in the Washington Examiner wants to create one the old fashion way:

In contrast, Republicans could immediately freeze enrollment — allowing those who already have insurance through Obamacare to continue receiving subsidies, but preventing new enrollees from receiving any (though they’d still be free to purchase insurance on their own if they aren’t seeking subsidies). The current open enrollment period for privately-administered insurance ends on Jan. 31, so that would be a natural cutoff point.

Do you know who is extremely likely to buy community rated, guaranteed issue insurance with a subsidy? People who are very sick.
Do you know who is extremely unlikely to buy community rated, guaranteed issue insurance without a subsidy? People who have reason to believe they are very healthy.

This proposal will get the individual insurance market to look like the individual markets from the mid-90s in the non-subsidized, non-mandated guarantee issue states. Super high premiums and very sick risk pools. And since insurers set their 2017 rates with the assumption that subsidies are available for Special Enrollment Members, they will lose a lot of money.

Means #2 is just pulling the Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies. Insurers will flee the market. The American Academy of Actuaries have their hair on fire as they look at the impact of Congress not funding Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies after January 20th.

Eliminating CSR reimbursements could also cause insurers to withdraw from the market Premiums for 2017 have been finalized, and they assume that CSR reimbursements will be made. Without those reimbursements, premiums would have been higher for all individual market enrollees. Regardless of whether CSR reimbursements are made to insurers, the ACA requires insurers to provide cost-sharing subsidies. If those reimbursements are not made, premiums will be too low to cover the costs of care. This creates the potential for insurer losses and solvency concerns. Due to contract provisions, insurers would be permitted to withdraw from the market if CSR reimbursements are not made.

Splitting the a Replacement Bill into discrete and seperate chunks will also death spiral the market:

The issue is the popular stuff (guarantee issue, no pre-existing conditions, community rating etc) will get 85 votes in the Senate and 400 in the House. The unpopular stuff (participation enforcement mechanism, definitions, subsidy attachment formulas) won’t get a majority as no one really wants to vote for either a mandate tax OR continuous enrollment criteria without being able to point to a lot of other good stuff enabled by the bad stuff.

So again we’ll get the mid-90s markets of guarantee issue, community rating for only very sick people.

The Urban Institute models out the impact of Repeal without immediate replacmement and it is ugly:

It is mostly a cost shift with massive extraneous suffering.

And that is where I think we’re heading.

So if you have an Exchange plan, I would try to get any problems that I was putting off on taking care of taken care of by January 31, 2017. After that the insurance markets will most likely be extremely chaotic and volatile with a decent tail risk of all carriers pulling all products in a number of states by early spring.



Early Morning Open Thread: Man-Baby Symbol of the Year

But you can’t say Time‘s choice is “not normal” — the magazine has always had a predilection for showy authoritarians…



Plutocrat Sics Thugs on Union Man

Just our future president, putting the “bully” in the bully pulpit:

img_1020

Jones’ offense was correctly pointing out that Cheeto Benito’s Carrier deal was less than advertised. So now Jones is getting death threats from unhinged Trump super fans. This asshole may get someone killed before he’s even sworn in.



Oh and About that Reasonable Republican John Kasich

This is horrifying:

Ohio lawmakers passed a bill that would prohibit abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — at around six weeks, before many women realize they are pregnant. Here’s what you need to know about the bill. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

Ohio lawmakers passed a bill late Tuesday that would prohibit abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected — at around six weeks, before many women realize they are pregnant.

If Gov. John Kasich (R) signs the bill, it would pose a direct challenge to Supreme Court decisions that have found that women have a constitutional right to abortion until the point of viability, which is typically pegged around 24 weeks. Similar bills have been blocked by the courts. Because of this, even many antiabortion advocates have opposed such measures.

But some Ohio Republicans said they were empowered to support the bill because of President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion nationally.

This no Christo-fascist regime is going to take decades to unwind.



The 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor: The Day That Will Live in Infamy

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For the US it was perceived as an unprovoked attack, which broke the domestic political logjam and brought the US into WW II. From the Japanese perspective it was a response to the economic warfare that the US had been waging on Japan since 1939. This included the US embargo on oil going to Japan.

From 1939 through 1941 the US and Japan were locked into a security dilemma (insecurity spiral) as the result of strategic miscommunication – the miscommunication of policy choices and strategic decisions on both sides. As the Japanese attempted to increase their influence throughout Asia, through the use of both economic and military power, the US sought to check them through the use of economic power. A significant portion of the Roosevelt Administration’s response, which was the result of the preferences of President Roosevelt and Secretaries Stimson, Morgenthau, and Ickes, was to adopt the Open Door Policy for China and impose economic sanctions and actions to limit Japan’s activities in Asia. The US policy was to bankrupt the Japanese and therefore stop their expansionism within Asia. The Japanese response was to utilize military power to get out from under the US’s actions – the attack at Pearl Harbor.

So while we take a moment and consider the events of that day, and those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, there is an important lesson to be relearned as 2016 gives way to 2017. Strategic preferences for policy decisions and the actions taken on them have consequences. For every problem solved or resolved as the result of a successful policy and strategy, new problems arise and are created. And context matters. How one’s allies, partners, and competitors understand what you are doing is as important as how you understand it. Failure to account for this is the difference between policy success and strategic failure.

Here is the link for a full roll call of the casualties and fallen at Pearl Harbor.

And here is the link to eyewitness accounts of the attack.

Here is the sole (surviving?) news report of the attack on Pearl Harbor:

Here is President Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech to the Nation where he declares war on Japan:

And finally, here is the live feed of today’s 75th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony.

Rest well Ladies and Gentlemen.



If a Tree Falls on My House Will Anyone Hear Me Scream

We’ll file this under the joys of home ownership.

The neighboring property is a former fraternity house. The fraternity has not existed on campus for several years, and the entire place is run down and they have a diseased/distressed tree that keeps having pieces/parts fall on my property.

Dad wants me to just pay to have the damned tree removed. I want them to pay to have the damned thing removed. If the tree was healthy and fell on my property, then it would be my insurance company’s problem. But since it is distressed, they would be liable.

I just am not in the mood to fork out a grand to chop down a god damned tree that someone else owns. I might just put a couple notches in it with an ax and let the thing fall on their roof, the fuckers.

And another thing- I was on an important call doing house stuff, and Steve marched into the office and started bitching up a storm for dinner and was so loud and distracting that the person I was talking to (a lawyer, and we know how much they charge per hour) said- “Do you want to take a moment and deal with whatever issue is bothering your cat?” God damned cat.








Open Thread: Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn

Sure, the caption claims that’s Arthur Laffer, of the infamous Laffer curve, but look at that demented grin!


.

Apart from picking out theme songs for the Apocalypse Trump’s inaugural ball, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



Keith Ellison Clears a Hurdle

ellison

Today, Rep. Keith Ellison removed one of the barriers to his bid to become DNC chair: He said he’d step down as congressman if elected:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison will vacate his congressional seat if he wins the chairman job at the Democratic National Committee, he told the Star Tribune Wednesday morning.

Ellison conceded Wednesday that a full-time chair is what the party wanted after the losses of the 2016 presidential and congressional elections. He said he came to the decision after difficult soul-searching and hearing from the more than 400 voting members of the DNC who said they wouldn’t vote him as long as he was a sitting member of Congress.

I haven’t paid much attention to the DNC chair race since at times it seems akin to polishing the mooring line eyelets for the approaching Hindenburg. But assuming Trump isn’t wholly successful in establishing an authoritarian kleptocracy and using his new powers to smear opponents and suppress a sufficient number of voters to eliminate the possibility of electoral gains over the next year or so, we’ll need a man or woman with a plan for 2018 and beyond.

The little I’ve heard from Ellison since the Trumpocalypse, I’ve liked. He was a Bernie guy in the primary but a surrogate for Clinton in the general. He was one of the first Democrats who recognized that Trump could win — I seem to remember a CNN panel laughing in his face at the suggestion — but Ellison was right when many Democrats, including me, were wrong.

But crucially, IMO, Ellison doesn’t buy the theory that the Democrats need throw nonwhites, women, religious minorities and LGBT folks under the bus and shift focus to the white working class to win. He points out that, as a black man and a Muslim, he wins in a majority white district because he knows how to build bridges while upholding the party’s core principles.

The ADL called some of Ellison’s statements on Israel “disturbing and disqualifying.” Ellison has also come under fire for his work organizing the Million Man March, in which he defended Louis Farrakhan in writing. In a recent essay, Ellison admits this was a mistake.

I understand the objections, but I’m inclined to give Ellison the benefit of the doubt; I think he’s earned it through his consistently good work as a congressman and high profile Democrat. What do y’all think?








Moral Action in Trump’s America

I’m way deep in a big project, and rather significantly behind on it too, so my blogging for the next few months is going to be quick-hit stuff rather than anything thought through.  I’ll try to make up for that by making it as regular a practice as I can to toss good reads your way.

Todays comes from Masha Gessen, someone y’all know I greatly admire.  About a week ago she posted a piece on The New York Review of Books site.  In it, she asks if the realist stance in politics can function in the context of Trump.  To find out, she looks to her own family history — including choices she made — to answer no.  She takes no prisoners:

In Bialystok ghetto, my great-grandfather’s responsibility in the Judenrat was to ensure that the ghetto was supplied with food. He ran the trucks that brought food in and took garbage out, he ran the canteen and supervised the community gardens that a group of young socialists planted. He also discouraged the young socialists from trying to organize a resistance movement: it would be of no use and would only jeopardize the ghetto’s inhabitants. It took him almost two years to change his mind about the resistance efforts, as he slowly lost hope that the Judenrat, by generally following the rules and keeping the ghetto inhabitants in line, would be able to save at least some of them.

As in other ghettos, the Judenrat was ultimately given the task of compiling the lists of Jews to be “liquidated.” The Bialystok Judenrat accepted the job, and there is every indication that my great-grandfather took part in the process. The arguments in defense of producing the list, in Bialystok and elsewhere, were pragmatic: the killing was going to occur anyway; by cooperating, the Judenrat could try to reduce the number of people the Nazis were planning to kill (in Bialystok, this worked, though in the end the ghetto, like all other ghettos, was “liquidated”); by compiling the lists, the Judenrat could prevent random killing, instead choosing to sacrifice those who were already near death from disease or starvation. These were strong arguments. There is always a strong argument.

But what if the Jews had refused to cooperate?

640px-le_brun_charles_-_horatius_cocles_defending_the_bridge_-_google_art_project

Was Arendt right that fewer people might have died? Was Trunk right that Judenrat activities had no effect on the final outcome? Or would mass murder of Jews have occurred earlier if Jews had refused to manage their own existence in the ghetto? We cannot know for certain, any more than we can know now whether a scorched-earth strategy or the strategy of compromise would more effectively mitigate Trumpism. But that does not mean that a choice—the right choice—is impossible. It only means that we are asking the wrong question.

The right question…or better, the right stance, the right scale on which to weigh any choice of action?

We cannot know what political strategy, if any, can be effective in containing, rather than abetting, the threat that a Trump administration now poses to some of our most fundamental democratic principles. But we can know what is right. What separates Americans in 2016 from Europeans in the 1940s and 1950s is a little bit of historical time but a whole lot of historical knowledge….

Armed with that knowledge, or burdened with that legacy, we have a slight chance of making better choices. As Trump torpedoes into the presidency, we need to shift from realist to moral reasoning. That would mean, at minimum, thinking about the right thing to do, now and in the imaginable future. It is also a good idea to have a trusted friend capable of reminding you when you are about to lose your sense of right and wrong.

I’m convinced Gessen is correct.  More, I believe her demand that we make the moral choice first, and then pursue whatever particular tactic seems most likely to embody that choice, will be the most effective, as well as the right thing to do.  A Democratic response to Trump that says we can make this work a little better enshrines Trumpism, and all the vicious GOP assumptions as the ground on which such matters get decided.  One that says “No. This is wrong.  Democrats will oppose, not mitigate…” is the one that creates a real choice going forward on the ground on which we want to fight.

Read the whole thing.

Image: Charles Le Brun, Horatius Cocles Defending the Bridgec. 1642/3 (I know it’s not dead on point, but it’s close, and I always loved the story, so there.)