The Evening Blues - 8-13-20


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Otis Rush

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues guitarist Otis Rush. Enjoy!

Otis Rush - Live Jooles Holland Show 1994

"A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government."

-- Edward Abbey

News and Opinion

Portland: protesters arrested on non-violent charges won't be prosecuted

People who have been arrested since late May on non-violent misdemeanor charges during protests taking place in Oregon’s largest city for more than 70 days will not be prosecuted.

The new policy announced on Tuesday recognizes the outrage and frustration over a history of racial injustice that has led to sustained, often violent protest in Portland as well as the more practical realities of the court system, which is running more than two months behind in processing cases because of Covid-19, the Multnomah county district attorney, Mike Schmidt, said.

At least several hundred people who have been arrested in the past few months will not face criminal prosecution, according to statistics provided by Schmidt’s office. People arrested on similar charges in future demonstrations will also not be prosecuted, he said.

“The protesters are angry … and deeply frustrated with what they perceive to be structural inequities in our basic social fabric. And this frustration can escalate to levels that violate the law,” Schmidt said. “This policy acknowledges that centuries of disparate treatment of our black and brown communities have left deep wounds and that the healing process will not be easy or quick.”

Portland’s police chief, Chuck Lovell, who was told of the policy change on Friday, said it did not change Oregon law and still held accountable people who commit violent acts or intentionally damage property.

Activist Voices Missing From Corporate Coverage of Uprisings

Since the brutal police murder of George Floyd, protesters for racial justice have mobilized across the country, attracting a frenzy of media commentary. To gauge who got to take part in this discussion, FAIR looked at whose voices were featured in some of the most prominent and influential outlets.

We counted the columnists in the Washington Post and New York Times editorial sections, as well as the people interviewed on network Sunday morning political talk shows, including ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox News Sunday and NBC’s Meet the Press.

We found that establishment media overwhelmingly turned to columnists, pundits and government officials for interpretation of the uprisings—rather than to the activists facing tear gas on the frontlines. As a result, the protesters were denied the chance to present their demands in their own words, and the voices of those most impacted by police brutality went unheard.

Nowhere is media’s unwillingness to provide protesters with a platform more evident than in the opinion columns of the New York Times and the Washington Post, which were dominated by vague calls for justice and reform from neoliberal elites.

In the three weeks after George Floyd’s murder (5/25/20–6/16/20), the Post published 89 op-eds discussing race, policing and the uprisings at length. Some of the articles were penned by more than one person, resulting in 97 authors altogether. Out of these 97 authors, 61% were columnists for the Post and 39% were outside writers.

Current or former government officials made up 34% of the Post’s outside writers. Academics were another 30%, and 18% were freelance journalists.

16% of the Post’s guest writers worked in the criminal justice system, including Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney for the Floyd family, and Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore. (See, 7/21/20.) Guest columnists also included a former federal prosecutor, a public defender, a former police officer and a former deputy chief of police (the latter two co-authoring a piece).

The remaining outside writer featured by the Post was Hafsa Islam, whose father owns the Minneapolis restaurant Gandhi Mahal, which caught fire during the protests.

In the same three weeks, the New York Times published 83 op-eds discussing George Floyd and the protests, featuring a total of 87 writers. Out of these, 56% were Times columnists and 44% were outside sources.

The Times’ outside sources included 37% academics, 24% freelancers and 18% current or former government officials. 5% of the outside sources were people who worked in the criminal justice system (prosecutor Marilyn Mosby again, and former chief of police Brandon Del Pozo), while another 5% were activists (prison abolitionist Mariame Kaba and Thenjiwe McHarris, a strategist for the Movement for Black Lives)

The remaining 11% included two medical sources, one member of the clergy and Melody Cooper, sister of Christian Cooper, the birdwatcher who was subjected to a racist swatting attempt in Central Park.

Across both papers, in a total of 172 op-eds, only two organizers were afforded a platform—meaning that just 1% of the columns in the wake of these society-altering protests were written by the people who instigated the protests.

The Post (6/10/20) did publish a piece by Braxton Winston, a member of the Charlotte, N.C., city council, about the author’s experience with tear gas at a protest. Though we counted him as a government official, this was one of the few times a participant in racial justice protests was given a chance to speak for himself.

Even as the Post churned out numerous articles (6/1/20, 6/5/20, 6/11/20) comparing today’s domestic upheaval with that of the 1960s, veterans from past movements for racial justice—such as the Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement, the Red Power movement or the Chicano movement—were not given space to share wisdom gained from their years of organizing against white supremacy.

As a result of this exclusion, none of the op-eds published in the Times or the Post explored the idea of boycotts, strikes, direct action campaigns or any other disruptive tactics protesters might use to leverage their power during this unprecedented moment.

The op-ed sections of the Times and the Post were lacking not only in historical insight from organizers, but also in global insight. The police murder of George Floyd sparked uprisings against racism, police brutality and state violence around the world, prompting countries to grapple with their colonial pasts and with ongoing inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic. But despite outpourings of solidarity from protesters across Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, the Times and the Post presented exclusively US perspectives.

Activists weren’t the only ones who were overlooked by the Opinion sections of the nation’s two leading papers.

In the three weeks after George Floyd’s murder, neither the Times nor the Post featured any op-eds written by the people who have suffered most directly at the hands of America’s racist law enforcement: those who have experienced police brutality, or people who have had loved ones murdered by police. Nor did they elevate the viewpoints of any people who are incarcerated, even though many incarcerated writers have been sharing their experiences publicly for years.

Though many op-eds called for a nebulous “reimagining of police,” neither Opinion section highlighted community leaders who have for decades offered proven alternative to policing. Audiences were not given the chance to hear from former gang members who now combat gun violence through street outreach, or aboriginal Night Patrols in Australia, who mediate conflicts while also reducing Indigenous interactions with the criminal justice system.

Instead, we heard from the usual cast of powerful incumbents, who seized the opportunity to boast about their accomplishments on a national stage.  The Post published op-eds by Muriel E. Bowser, Val Demings, Condoleezza Rice, David Axelrod and a consortium of Democratic House managers in the impeachment trial of President Trump. Government officials featured by the Times included Stacey Abrams, Susan E. Rice, Tom Cotton, Gretchen Whitmer and Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Despite the fact that activists have condemned many of these officials for their contestable records on race and policing, these op-eds were presented by media without context or criticism. As investigative journalist Justine Barron previously wrote for FAIR  (6/21/20), these op-eds “give local leaders a chance to raise their national profiles without facing scrutiny.”

Media’s reliance on government bureaucrats to shape public opinion also has the effect, as Julie Hollar (, 6/11/20) wrote, of “placing limits of the acceptable and the possible”—resulting in coverage that “acknowledges the drive to defund the police, but seeks to blunt its radical edge.”

Much more detail at the link.

Top Democrat Says IG Report on Saudi Arms Deal 'Deeply Damning' for Pompeo

Rep. Eliot Engel, Democratic chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday that an inspector general report revealed the State Department's claim last year of an "emergency" to sell billions of dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates "was a sham" and accused the department of deploying "scare tactics to try to keep a lid on the report."

"This report is deeply damning for Secretary Pompeo and the administration. The lengths to which the State Department has gone in the last day to spin and obscure the facts show how desperate they are to hide the truth," Engel said in a statement.

The comments follow the release of an Office of Inspector General report (pdf) into the 2019 weapons transfer, for which the Trump administration dodged congressional oversight by invoking a provision in the Arms Export Control Act that allows the president to take such action if "an emergency exists which requires the proposed sale in the national security interest of the United States."

The sale prompted swift ire from lawmakers who'd blocked similar sales over justified concerns such weapons were being used to kill civilians in Yemen.

The OIG review of the matter began under IG Steve Linick, who was ousted in May by Pompeo and who told lawmakers State Department Undersecretary Brian Bulatao tried to bully him into dropping the probe.

A redacted version of the watchdog's report was published online Tuesday, with acting IG Diana Shaw noting in an accompanying memo that the document reflects redactions requested by the State Department. ...

In his statement, Engel said the report suggested that Pompeo overreached in his authority.

"No one ever doubted that the law provides for the authority to expedite the sale of weapons in the case of an emergency. The question was always, 'Did the administration abuse that authority in order to ram through more than $8 billion in sales to Gulf countries?' The IG didn't offer an opinion on that. But the report's details signal a resounding, 'Yes.'"

General Strike & Blockade in Bolivia Enter Day 11 as Protesters Condemn Delayed Vote by Coup Gov’t

MSM Smear Merchants Target Critics Of Establishment China Narratives

As the US-centralized empire’s slow-motion third world war against unabsorbed governments continues to accelerate, narrative management campaigns are getting more and more frenzied. We see this exemplified in two recent smear pieces published by imperial spinmeisters about critics of the establishment-authorized narratives about what’s happening in China.

The oligarch-funded Axios has published a new article titled “The American blog pushing Xinjiang denialism” about the alternative media outlet The Grayzone.

The article’s author Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian makes flaccid guilt-by-association arguments about the fact that Chinese officials have cited Grayzone articles in the past, suggesting that this is a “classic Russian disinformation tactic” in which naughty governments use western voices to “bolster their claims”. She cites the fact that a Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee condemned the outlet as though that’s an argument, and she bemoans the fact that Grayzone has been “attempting to discredit Adrian Zenz, a researcher whose work has helped uncover the existence and scale of mass internment camps in Xinjiang.”

Missing entirely from the article, conspicuously, is any argument or evidence that The Grayzone has ever published any false information. About Xinjiang, or about anything else.

Grayzone‘s Ben Norton wrote this past June that “in its more than four years of existence, including its first two years hosted at the website AlterNet… The Grayzone has never had to issue a major correction or retract a story.”

I am not citing Norton because I think taking the outlet’s word for it is a valid argument, I’m citing him because I’ve never seen a shred of evidence that what he said is false, and neither have you. There is so much spin going into discrediting The Grayzone at this point that we may rest assured that if it had ever been caught reporting something untrue, establishment narrative managers would have made damn sure we all knew about it.

But they haven’t, because they can’t. All they’ve been able to do is argue that The Grayzone reports things that other media outlets do not report, which are not in alignment with the approved viewpoint of the United States government. Which is to say, all they can argue is that The Grayzone is doing journalism.

In fact, if you believe as I do that journalism’s first and foremost function is to hold your government to account with the light of truth, you can easily make the argument that The Grayzone has published more real journalism just this year than all corporate media like Axios have put out this millennium. The outlet’s original reporting on the OPCW scandal and coverage of the US regime change operations in Nicaragua along with critical journalism on the persecution of Julian Assange, Venezuela, Bolivia, Syria, Russia, China and other unabsorbed governments, all just in the last few months, leave other publications far behind.

To say that this critical reporting shouldn’t be happening is to say that journalism shouldn’t be happening. It’s saying that only the narratives approved by the US State Department and ODNI should be reported, narratives which all happen to facilitate the geostrategic agendas of the United States. It’s saying that narratives which grease the wheels for war, regime change and military expansionism should be swallowed uncritically and receive no pushback of any kind. It’s saying that we still have the exact same mainstream media environment we had in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Grayzone editor Max Blumenthal’s response to the smear piece–which Axios reportedly refused to publish in full–reads as follows:

The Coda Story article Blumenthal refers to, titled “Pro-Beijing influencers and their rose-tinted view of life in Xinjiang“, is the other smear piece we’re discussing here. Not content with attacking small alternative media outlets, this one focuses on dishonestly smearing three individual Twitter users: Carl Zha, Jerry Grey, and an Australia-based account with a few thousand followers called Xi Fan.

As Blumenthal correctly notes, Coda is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a US government-funded narrative management operation which according to its own cofounder was set up to do overtly what the CIA used to do covertly, namely orchestrate regime change and disrupt US-targeted governments. Coda‘s editor-in-chief Natalia Antelava, as noted by Youtube commentator Daniel Dumbrill, has blatantly lied about her outlet’s NED funding, tweeting just days ago that “we don’t take money from governments, oligarchs and tech platforms”. Since NED is a government-funded operation, this claim is objectively false.

Dumbrill has posted an excellent thread on Twitter using original footage of the interviews the Coda article’s author Isobel Cockerel did with Zha and Grey, demonstrating clearly and undeniably that Cockerell deceptively edited the words of her interviewees to deliberately misrepresent their positions. Both Carl Zha and Jerry Grey have also posted their own capable (if in my opinion overly kind) refutations of the deceitful smear piece.

In a healthy world, using dishonest manipulation to damage people’s reputations would cost a reporter their job. Instead, writers like Isobel Cockerel and Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian will be rewarded, elevated and offered many new opportunities for their willingness to twist the truth in order to stop people from speaking truth. They know this. That’s why they do it.

There are no words for the depravity of a news media institution which has been entrusted by the public to hold power to account and tell them the truth about what’s going on in the world, and instead abuses that trust by facilitating power and obfuscating the truth. Humanity’s inability to see the world clearly is the primary obstacle preventing us from using the power of our numbers to force real change to avert the manifold crises that our species is now approaching, and instead of helping people see clearly these perception managers are helping to tie the blindfold.

Utterly despicable. Despicable, and unforgivable.

Author Thomas Frank: How Liberals Turned On The Working Class

Pelosi Gives Prayers Instead of Leadership After Bailing Out The Wealthy

Trump’s CFPB Deploys Predatory Lenders as First Responders to Pandemic

On July 30, Chair Maxine Waters opened the House Committee on Financial Services hearing with a frustrated and ominous message: “I would like to welcome Director Kraninger to what I hope will be her last appearance before this committee as CFPB director.” Kathy Kraninger was being called to account for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s failure to protect consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. In separate House and Senate hearings, committee members levied their sharpest criticisms against the agency’s plan to deregulate small-dollar lending by repealing key consumer protections on predatory products like payday and auto title loans. The final rule decided on by the agency tore out the heart of the policy by rescinding provisions that required lenders to assess a borrower’s ability to repay their loan.

Small-dollar lenders, such as Speedy Cash and TitleMax, intentionally design high-cost, low-quality products to make it almost impossible for borrowers to repay their loans under the original terms. Finance fees and average annual interest rates of 400 percent prevent most borrowers from repaying payday loans in full, with borrowers ending up in debt five months out of the year for what was deceptively marketed as a two-week loan. Other loans within this industry are just as harmful. Ninety percent of auto title loans are re-borrowed, and 20 percent of borrowers have their vehicles repossessed. This rule makes it easier for lenders to trap borrowers in cycles of debt.

Payday lenders are well known for taking advantage of the precarious conditions experienced by working-class and poor people — and which disproportionately affect Black and brown people. ... The CFPB’s rule makes this form of racial capitalism even more punishing by paving the way for predatory lenders to prey on marginalized borrowers and extract lucrative profits. The economic stimulus payments that Congress approved under the CARES Act appeared to help people make it through the early months of the pandemic, and new applications for small-dollar loans declined during March and April. Now, with Congress’s failure to extend benefits, loan applications are rising steadily along with eviction fears, job losses, and coronavirus infection and death rates. In one survey, 36 percent of lower-income households applied for some type of small-dollar loan in June and July. Black and brown households applied for these loans at a rate three times higher than did white households.

Near the end of the House Committee on Financial Services hearing, Illinois Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García described CFPB’s final rule as a scary example of how the agency is working on behalf of predatory lenders instead of consumers. “I represent a working-class, immigrant district. There are a lot of payday lenders in my district,” said García. “My community was hit hard by the last crisis and many people never recovered. … That’s why the CFPB was established during the last crisis to give ordinary people, like my neighbors in Chicago, their own voice. … But that’s not what we see from watching the bureau today.”

Unemployment Claims FALL Below 1 Million For 1st Time Since Crisis, Congress Still Dithers

Study Shows 'Unambiguous Evidence' Covid-19 Infectious in the Air, Researchers Claim

A research team at the University of Florida has confirmed Covid-19 does live in aerosol droplets, and that the standard 6-foot social distancing protocols used around the world as safety precautions may not be sufficient.

"It's unambiguous evidence that there is infectious virus in aerosols," Linsey Marr, an expert in airborne spread of viruses who was not involved in the work told the New York Times.

For this study, researchers collected air samples from a room in a hospital ward dedicated to Covid-19 patients who were not subject to procedures that are known to produce aerosols, the Times reported.

The research team collected two sets of samples, one at approximately 7 feet from the patients and another at about 16 feet, and found that Covid-19 virus contained in samples at both distances could infect cells in a lab dish.

Although not peer reviewed, scientists are pointing to this study as a potential 'smoking gun,' regarding the issue of aeorsol transmission. ...

Top U.S. Infectious Disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has held his post as director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has previously cautioned about the possibility and probability of Covid-19 transmission via aerosol droplets. If confirmed, the initial findings of the University of Florida study would bolster his concerns, and indicate the virus can survive greater distances than once thought.

"We know that indoors, those distance rules don’t matter anymore," Dr. Robyn Schofield, an atmospheric chemist at Melbourne University in Australia, who measures aerosols over the ocean told the the Times. "It takes about five minutes for small aerosols to traverse the room even in still air."

Analysis shows 54,000 “excess deaths” in US, pointing to coronavirus death toll of 200,700

More than 165,000 Americans have now died from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The US passed the grim statistic of 5 million cases of COVID-19 earlier this month. As horrifying as these figures are, a new analysis shows that the number of deaths from the coronavirus likely has been significantly undercounted. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed by the New York Times have revealed that 200,700 people died from March 15, when the pandemic took hold, to July 25. This is 54,000 higher than the confirmed death toll, averaged, for the same time period in the previous three years. Excess deaths in the analysis are rounded to the nearest hundred.

These 54,000 “excess deaths” are defined by the CDC as “the difference between the observed numbers of deaths in specific time periods and expected numbers of deaths in the same time periods.” The analysis strongly indicates that these excess deaths have been caused by the virus itself or by conditions triggered by the upheaval resulting from the pandemic. The Times looked at CDC figures for deaths from all causes, adjusting current death records to account for typical reporting lags. This allows for comparisons that don’t rely on the availability of COVID-19 tests in a given place or on the accuracy of cause-of-death reporting. Epidemiologists generally agree that assessing excess deaths is the best way to assess the impact of the pandemic.

Higher than normal death rates are widespread for the vast majority of US states. Only Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and West Virginia have death counts that look similar to recent years. Through July 25, the Times analysis shows that there were about 37 percent more excess deaths in the US than the official coronavirus fatality count. ...

The Times analysis shows that the pandemic’s toll cannot be attributed simply to the virus killing vulnerable people who would have died anyway. Most of the excess deaths revealed by the analysis could be attributed to the virus itself, but it is also likely that deaths from other causes have also risen due to hospitals being overwhelmed by COVID patients. People suffering from conditions that should be survivable have not sought care out of fear of contracting the virus. Such conditions include heart attack and stroke.

As Florida Sets Daily Record for Covid-19 Deaths, Sheriff Bans Deputies From Wearing Masks

A sheriff in Florida is under fire for deciding Tuesday to ban his deputies from wearing face masks while on the job—ignoring the advice of public health experts about the safety measures that everyone should take during the coronavirus pandemic as well as the rising Covid-19 death toll in his county and state.

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods' email to his deputies announcing the mask ban was first reported by the local Ocala Star-Banner, which noted that the county "set a single-day record on Tuesday for the most deaths related to Covid-19, with 13 more deaths reported," bringing the total to 102.

Various outlets across the nation then picked up the story on Wednesday—including the Washington Post, which obtained a copy of Woods' email and pointed out that Florida also set a record in deaths related to Covid-19 on Tuesday. At least 277 deaths were recorded statewide, according to the Post.

The Post reported that Florida has seen over 542,000 cases and 8,600 deaths out of the nation's total 5.15 million cases and 162,000 deaths. As infections in Florida have soared in recent weeks, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has been widely condemned for rushing to lift restrictions.

Although some local and state leaders in other parts of the country have implored police officers to cover their faces while on duty during the crisis or even issued face mask requirements and punished law enforcement officials for refusing to comply, DeSantis has not mandated masks for anyone.

But Woods, in his email, prohibited his officers from wearing masks, with limited exceptions for those who are in a local courthouse, hospital, jail, or public school, or otherwise directly interacting with people suspected of being infected with the virus.

Ousted expert on Florida's Covid plan: 'They're not listening to the scientists'

Cases of Covid-19 in Florida were below 50,000 in May when Rebekah Jones, creator and manager of the state’s official coronavirus database, first claimed she was ordered to censor information to justify Governor Ron DeSantis’s ambitious reopening plans for the state.

The retribution was swift and brutal.

Jones was fired for insubordination, and subjected to a vitriolic public character assassination by DeSantis, a Republican who is a close ally of Donald Trump, in the presence of Vice-President Mike Pence. DeSantis questioned Jones’s qualifications and personality and aired demonstrably false statements about her private life. To many observers, the governor’s strategy looked like a blatant attempt to intimidate and silence a troublesome data scientist obstructing the path to a speedy reopening. If so, it appears to have failed.

Not only was the reopening premature, with the pandemic still intensifying in Florida and this week surpassing half a million confirmed cases, but Jones continues to be a thorn in DeSantis’s side. Since her dismissal, she has set up a rival coronavirus information portal featuring more detail than the state database; filed a whistleblower complaint alleging the Republican governor and Florida department of health habitually lied about the Covid-19 figures; and on Monday launched her latest venture, a state and national reporting database for teachers, parents and students worried about schools reopening safely.

the horse race

New Chats REVEAL Smear Campaign Against Progressive Alex Morse

College Democrat Chats Reveal Year-Old Plan to Engineer and Leak Alex Morse Accusations

“This will sink his campaign,” predicted a College Democrat leader hoping to work for Rep. Richard Neal.

The leadership of the University of Massachusetts Amherst College Democrats began discussing an operation they believed could sink the campaign of Alex Morse for Congress as far back as last October, a plan they then helped engineer and which came to fruition on Friday, after the College Democrats sent a letter regarding Morse to the Daily Collegian, the school’s student newspaper.

The letter, sent three weeks before his primary challenge to Rep. Richard Neal, informed Morse that he was no longer welcome at College Democratic events, alleging he used such opportunities to socialize with students and later connect with them on social media in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. Message logs obtained by the Intercept — both from leaders of the College Democrats UMass Amherst chapter group as well as chats one of them had with Morse — shed new light on how this purported scandal was deployed. As a condition of obtaining the logs, The Intercept agreed to publish some of the chats and paraphrase others.

On Wednesday, following a statement by Morse, the statewide College Democrats chapter clarified that he had in fact only attended a single event during the course of his campaign. It was after that event in October 2019 that the leadership of the UMass Amherst chapter began to talk about leaking a story damaging to Morse, according to those online communications. Timothy Ennis, the chief strategist for the UMass Amherst College Democrats, admitted in the chats that he was a “Neal Stan” and said he felt conflicted about involving the chapter of the College Democrats in a future attack on Morse. “But I need a job,” concluded Ennis. “Neal will give me an internship.” At the time, Ennis was president of the chapter, a post he held from April 2019 to April 2020, when he was term-limited out.

Leaders of the College Democrats group went beyond merely plans to leak. They also explicitly discussed how they could find Morse’s dating profiles and then lead him into saying something incriminating that would then damage his campaign. That effort appears to have failed to generate the material they hoped for, but the group’s leaders did believe they held damning evidence they contemplated leaking: Instagram messages between Morse and Andrew Abramson, who in April became president of the organization. Ultimately, the College Democrats did not release any chats or any other specific claims against Morse, opting instead to level broader charges that he behaved inappropriately. ...

In a statement to MassLive on Monday, Neal spokesperson Kate Norton denied any collaboration between the Neal campaign and the student group, adding that the Neal campaign “commends these courageous students.” The College Democrats also responded to allegations of cooperation with the Neal campaign on Sunday, writing on Twitter, “To suggest that our decision to send the letter to Mayor Morse was a quid pro quo with Rep. Neal, his campaign, or anyone else is untrue, disingenuous, and harmful.”

Much more at the link.

Hospitals Bankroll Richie Neal, The Democrat Who Lets Them Send Patients Surprise Bills

One of the most powerful health care industry lobbying groups has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign to reelect Democratic Rep. Richard Neal as he blocks legislation to crack down on “surprise medical bills” and thwarts the push for Medicare for All.

The American Hospital Association’s (AHA) political action committee has spent more than $200,000 on digital ads to boost Neal’s reelection campaign as he faces a spirited primary challenge, according to campaign finance records.

AHA is one of the most powerful forces in Washington D.C. working to keep health care costs outrageously high. The trade group, which represents more than 5,000 hospitals and brings in more than $130 million annually, has lobbied against reforms to end surprise medical billing, against plans requiring hospitals to make their prices public, and against the single-payer Medicare for All proposal to eliminate for-profit health insurance. ...

As chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Neal controls all legislation that has a tax component, including most major health care bills. Neal has used his chairmanship in the current congressional session to block a deal to end surprise medical bills at the end of 2019 and to prevent his committee from debating a public health care option or so much as utter the words “Medicare for All.”

AHA’s first round of spending for Neal, totaling $69,000, came shortly after the congressman effectively blew up a measure opposed by AHA that would have eliminated surprise medical bills -- a euphemism for the costly charges that occur when patients visit a hospital within their insurance network but are unknowingly treated by a provider who is not part of their network. The proposal in Congress would have capped out-of-network charges at a benchmark rate based on the cost of equivalent in-network care.


Ilhan Omar defeats well-funded Democrat in primary

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota survived a stiff Democratic primary challenge Tuesday from a well-funded opponent who tried to make an issue of her national celebrity. Her win is the latest in a season of victories by a new generation of emboldened progressive lawmakers.

Omar, seeking her second term in November, easily defeated Antone Melton-Meaux, an attorney and mediator who raised millions to run against her.

Omar and her allies gained confidence in her reelection chances after primary victories last week by fellow “Squad” member Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and by Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist who ousted a longtime St Louis-area congressman. They also claimed momentum from the renewed focus on racial and economic justice after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

“Tonight, our movement didn’t just win,” Omar tweeted. “We earned a mandate for change. Despite outside efforts to defeat us, we once again broke turnout records. Despite the attacks, our support has only grown.”

Has Kamala Harris evolved from "top cop" to racial justice leader?

'A Conspiracy to Steal the Election, Folks': Alarms Sound After Postal Worker Reports Removal of Sorting Machines

The head of the Iowa Postal Workers Union alleged Tuesday that mail sorting machines are "being removed" from Post Offices in her state due to new policies imposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor to President Donald Trump whose operational changes have resulted in dramatic mail slowdowns across the nation.

Asked by NPR's Noel King whether she has felt the impact of DeJoy's changes, Iowa Postal Workers Union President Kimberly Karol—a 30-year Postal Service veteran—answered in the affirmative, saying "mail is beginning to pile up in our offices, and we're seeing equipment being removed."

Karol went on to specify that "equipment that we use to process mail for delivery"—including sorting machines—is being removed from Postal Service facilities in Iowa as DeJoy rushes ahead with policies that, according to critics, are sabotaging the Postal Service's day-to-day operations less than 90 days before an election that could hinge on mail-in ballots.

"In Iowa, we are losing machines. And they already in Waterloo were losing one of those machines. So that also hinders our ability to process mail in the way that we had in the past," added Karol, who said she is "not a fan" of the postmaster general. Washington state election officials have also raised concerns about the removal of mail sorting machines.

"I grew up in a culture of service, where every piece was to be delivered every day. And his policies, although they've only been in place for a few weeks, are now affecting the way that we do business and not allowing us to deliver every piece every day, as we've done in the past," said Karol. "I don't see this as cost-saving measures. I see this as a way to undermine the public confidence in the mail service. It's not saving costs. We're spending more time trying to implement these policy changes. And it's, in our offices, costing more over time."

Observers reacted with alarm to Karol's comments, viewing them as further confirmation that DeJoy is deliberately attempting to damage the Postal Service with the goal of helping Trump win reelection in November.

"It's a conspiracy to steal the election, folks," tweeted The Week's political columnist Ryan Cooper.

Freelance journalist Erin Biba said there's "absolutely no way to see" the removal of mail sorting machines from Post Offices as anything other than "sabotage" of the most popular government institution in the U.S.

"It's so blatant," added Biba.

Krystal and Saagar: 538 Models Echo 2016, Cornel West Calls Biden-Harris 'Slow-Moving Disaster'

the evening greens

Last decade was Earth's hottest on record as climate crisis accelerates

The past decade was the hottest ever recorded globally, with 2019 either the second or third warmest year on record, as the climate crisis accelerated temperatures upwards worldwide, scientists have confirmed.

Every decade since 1980 has been warmer than the preceding decade, with the period between 2010 and 2019 the hottest yet since worldwide temperature records began in the 19th century. The increase in average global temperature is rapidly gathering pace, with the last decade up to 0.39C warmer than the long-term average, compared with a 0.07C average increase per decade stretching back to 1880.

The past six years, 2014 to 2019, have been the warmest since global records began, a period that has included enormous heatwaves in the US, Europe and India, freakishly hot temperatures in the Arctic, and deadly wildfires from Australia to California to Greece.

Last year was either the second hottest year ever recorded, according to Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the third hottest year, as recorded by the UK Met Office. Overall, the world has heated up by about 1C on average since the pre-industrial era.

“As this latest assessment comprehensively confirms, we have just witnessed the warmest decade on record,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University. “As other recent reports confirm, we must act dramatically over this next decade, bringing emissions down by a factor of two, if we are to limit warming below catastrophic levels of 1.5C that will commit us to ever-more dangerous climate change impacts.

'This land is all we have left': tribes on edge over giant dam proposal near Grand Canyon

Shortly before Lucille Daniel’s father died, he told her: “Take care of the land. Take care of the livestock.” This land, a patch of remote desert not far from the Grand Canyon on the western Navajo Nation, has been in the Daniel family for six generations. Lucille, 85, was born and grew up here. “We have a beautiful land here. We just want to keep it that way,” she said.

Aside from the addition of solar panels and a wind turbine to service her home, Daniel’s land is the same as it was generations ago. She still keeps sheep, goats, horses and cows on the property, as do her few neighbors nearby. When it rains – a rare occurrence in a part of the US that has been in a drought for decades – the animals flock to a canyon that transforms into their drinking water source. The canyon, however, as well as the regions nearby and the Native culture they sustain, could be altered permanently, if a duo of developers get their way.

Phoenix-based Pumped Hydro Storage LLC has received a preliminary permit from federal regulators for its Big Canyon Pumped Storage Project – a string of four huge dams near the Little Colorado River, along with reservoirs and a power-generation facility about three miles from Daniel’s home. The preliminary permit does not allow construction, but it gives Pumped Hydro priority in getting a license to build.

The project is the third Pumped Hydro has proposed in the Big Canyon region – the two previous ones received major pushback from tribes and environmentalists. If built, it would function as both a battery and station for generating up to 7,900 gigawatt-hours of electricity. It would pump groundwater up into four reservoirs, one of which would flood Big Canyon. That water would be stored as potential power, ready to be unleashed down canyons, through generators and toward the Little Colorado River when electricity is needed.

The environmental and cultural costs of this proposal would be major. Tribal members and environmentalists say the project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand Canyon.

Any electricity the Big Canyon project generates would go off the reservation, probably to the bigger cities in southern Arizona.

US proposes change to shower rules after Trump's hair-washing moan

The US president’s hair-washing complaints on Wednesday prompted the government to propose an easing of shower pressure standards. The Trump administration proposed rule changes that would allow shower heads to boost water pressure, after Donald Trump repeatedly complained that bathroom fixtures do not work to his liking.

The Department of Energy plan followed comments from Trump last month at a White House event on rolling back regulations. He said he believed water does not come out fast enough from fixtures.

“So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair – I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect,” he said. ...

Consumer groups decried the plan, saying current rules saved consumers money by conserving water and fuel. The proposal would effectively allow shower fixtures to include multiple shower heads that would get around the 2.5 gallon per minute standard Congress set in 1992, when Trump’s fellow Republican George HW Bush was president.

Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

After the protests, lingering trauma: the scars of ‘non-lethal’ weapons

Congress has secretly blocked US arms sales to Turkey for nearly two years

Greece-Turkey tensions: Erdogan says only solution in Mediterranean is dialogue

Biden Picks Kamala Harris As VP

How Donald Trump is driving Americans to renounce their citizenship

US Postal Service Was Never a Business. Stop Treating It Like One

'Western' Media Falsely Claim That Russia's Covid-19 Vaccine Is Ready To Go

The Junk Science Cops Use to Decide You’re Lying

Denouncing 'Smear Campaign' Against Alex Morse, Former Detractor Calls for Focus on 'Damage Richie Neal Is Doing to Our Democracy'

'Vital Democracy Reform' Takes Hit in Oregon After US Supreme Court Undermines Another Ballot Initiative

Outrage as coronavirus prompts US universities and colleges to shed staff

Wall Street Banks Are Dangerously Evading U.S. Derivatives Rules by Making Trades at Foreign Subsidiaries

Living in the dark: Native reservations struggle with power shortages in pandemic

Court Tosses Out Trump Interior's Gutting of Century-Old Protections for Migratory Birds

Pink Floyd's burning man: Aubrey Powell's best photograph

Democracy Now: Was Kamala Harris a Progressive Prosecutor? A Look at Her Time as a DA & California Attorney General

Kamala Is A Cop Except For Billionaire Banksters!

Kamala & Biden's Endless Circle of Hypocrisy!

A Little Night Music

Otis Rush w/Duane Allman - Reap What You Sow

Otis Rush - Sweet Little Angel

Otis Rush - Double Trouble (original)

Otis Rush - All Your Love (I Miss Loving)

Otis Rush - So Many Roads

Otis Rush - I Can't Quit You Baby

Otis Rush - This Is A Mean Old World

Otis Rush - Three Times a Fool

Otis Rush - It Takes Time

Otis Rush and Friends at Montreux 1986 Full Concert blues

22 users have voted.


Azazello's picture

Does not surprise me.
110 on my back porch right now, this morning's "low" was 82.
Then I read this: Baghdad’s record heat offers glimpse of world’s climate change future

If the world acts to dramatically limit climate change, such extremes of heat, with temperatures above 120 degrees, would probably be limited to parts of the Middle East, Northern Africa, and India, Lelieveld said.
But if not, temperatures in parts of the Persian Gulf region and South Asia could eventually exceed 130 degrees. Nor would the rest of the world be spared extreme spikes. Indeed, one recent study found that by the year 2050, the climate of Phoenix could closely resemble that of Baghdad.

I thought this was good: The Economy Is Mortally Wounded
Here's a longish piece from The Saker.
Something rotten is about to go down in Belarus.
Putin and Russia are facing a very serious crisis in Belarus

16 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture


my condolences on your weather. it cooled down a little here today after a morning rainstorm, it probably didn't get over the mid 80's on my back porch today, though you can cut the humidity with a knife.

the piece on the economy was good and tracks well with what i've been reading for months at wall street on parade about the fragility of the economy pre-pandemic.

the saker's piece was interesting, i don't know much about belarus, so the information is quite welcome, thanks!

stay cool and have a great evening!

9 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
I found this, Mass Beatings and Detentions in Belarus as President Clings to Power. That covers the brutal dictator and the protests. And there's this, Who Is Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Belarus’s Unlikely Opposition Leader? So we've got an opposition leader. No doubt she favors EU and NATO membership. Nothing in the Times about USAID, the NED or Vicky Nuland. Still, if we're following the Kiev model there's only one thing missing, the violence. There appear to be no right-wing nationalists to speak of and no Azov battalion. They might have to ship in a couple of snipers to get the ball rolling.
I could be wrong. We'll see.

11 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

joe shikspack's picture


well, extrapolating from the saker's article, i would guess that belarus is still pretty locked down by its kgb and unlikely to have a maidan unless the kgb starts it (in order to topple lukashenko).

i looked at the wikipedia profile of svetlana tikhanovskaya and there was one sentence that jumped out at me, suggesting that she is a western plant:

Tsikhanouskaya has said that she is running for president out of love, to free her husband from prison. She has vowed to free all political prisoners in Belarus, to introduce democratic reforms to the country, and to move away from the union treaty with Russia, which many Belarusian opposition figures view as an impingement on the country's sovereignty.

that, and her western background:

Before running for president, Tsikhanouskaya was an English teacher and interpreter. She spent many summers in Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, as part of a Chernobyl children's programme.

8 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
if Pompeo can manage to midwife this thing there might be a place for him in a Biden administration. I'm thinking Mnuchin might be able to stay on too. The presumptive Vice-President seems to have a soft spot for him.

9 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

enhydra lutris's picture

temps for august is 75.

be well and have a good one

7 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

JekyllnHyde's picture

23 users have voted.

A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

joe shikspack's picture


good to see you!

thanks for the cartoon, that's pretty good. you gotta wonder how many democrat neoliberal tools have che posters on their walls or hiding in their attics.

9 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

I stumbled over three questions I saw posed today. I could only answer one with complete certainty.

1. Would the Left be better off with the Democrats in charge of the US government?

To this, I would say "no."

2. Would the people of the world be better off with the Democrats in charge of the US government?

3. Would the American People be better off with the Democrats in charge of the US government?

14 users have voted.

"There will be no end to the troubles of States, or of Humanity itself, until Philosophers become Kings in this world — or until those we now call kings and rulers truly become Philosophers." — Plato
joe shikspack's picture

@Pluto's Republic

i generally agree with your answer to the first question. i think that the left would be best off if it declared war on the democrat party and intentionally destroyed biden/harris' chance to win the white house. the left should have its own "lincoln project," telling the unpleasant truths about democrats and the biden/harris ticket.

two is a tougher question. on the one hand, i would anticipate that the democrats would be slightly more effective in addressing the pandemic than trump (they could hardly be worse) and there might be some small but significant advantage in terms of climate policy.

on the other hand, the democrats are terrible war mongers who have been itching to drop some bombs and engage in soft-power conflicts with those that they dare not bomb for fear of serious retaliation. i have little doubt that within 6 months of biden taking office the u.s. would be engaged in several proxy wars around the globe.

question 3 is a toss up for me. the american people are screwed either way. our economy and culture have been collapsing for a while now. the dems will not reverse the process.

13 users have voted.
TheOtherMaven's picture

@joe shikspack

i have little doubt that within 6 months of biden taking office the u.s. would be engaged in several more proxy wars around the globe

8 users have voted.

There is no justice. There can be no peace.

joe shikspack's picture


sometimes my proofreading fails. Smile

3 users have voted.

@Pluto's Republic
1. Would the Left be better off with the Democrats in charge of the US government?

No. The Democrats have proved time and time again they will work harder than the Republicans at suppressing the left. The Democrats currently in power have showed nothing but disdain, contempt and an unwillingness to even granting the left an occasional symbolic victory. A Biden administration will continue the ratchet effect continuing the Overton window's rightward move. Dems are already trying to position Kamala as a progressive, which should tell you everything you need to know. See also: the platform fight, Biden's right wing record and hard anti-m4a stance, having to fight a Dem incumbent in 2024, the Dems courting of never Trump repubs while offering TINA to the left, etc.

2. Would the people of the world be better off with the Democrats in charge of the US government?

Leaning no due to threats of hot war with Russia. etc. and less willingness to even discuss ending current conflicts. I say leaning because the hot war isn't a 100% given (though it really seems so) and the Trump admin hasn't actually ended anything. I think in many other aspects they are equally bad. In my eyes, the Trump administration has just maintained the status quo on the global stage and the Democrats offer no different.

3. Would the American People be better off with the Democrats in charge of the US government?

Even, at best. The Democrats in charge have shown an unwillingness to stand up to the Republicans in anything more than a performative manner. The rot has been a bipartisan effort, with even "The Squad" bucking under more often than not. The Biden campaign has proposed nothing to positively address any of the issues voters list as concerns, aside from a vague $2 trillion for green jobs. If anything, any suggestions have ranged from completely tone deaf (the response to the defund the police movement and BLM protests) to outright antagonistic (M4A). With Trump, the possibility exists that he might impulsively do something good (even if for the wrong reason) but is at least as likely, if not more, to do something well worse.


I feel the same about 2020 as I did in 2016. Trump is terrible and I do not want him as president*. But the Democrats are not offering an alternative, merely a different brand name on the same politics and policy. The dangerous thing I see about putting the Democrats in charge is it will continue to normalize things in the same way people stopped paying attention to a lot of stuff when Obama was doing it rather than Bush. A lot of the voter shaming I am seeing amounts to "I don't want to have to think about the bad stuff anymore." It's always something about being tired of Trump's tweets or comments or how he acts, but never policies unique to the the Trump administration, if policy is mentioned at all.

To that end, I still think the Democrats in charge will be more dangerous in the long run than Republican. Until they change their policies, something they have shown steadfast resistance to doing, the best Democrats have to offer is more of the same. However, they give people a friendly, politically correct face for the same tragic policies which allows those unaffected directly by them to believe they're "fighting for the little guys" when, in fact, they're doing nothing of the sort.

In spite of my cynicism and outright disgust with the Democratic party, I've been looking for any reason to hold my nose and vote blue. Aside from wanting Trump out of office, I can't find a reason, especially because I don't want Joe or Kamala in either. I think a Democratic win makes things more difficult for the left because there will be a bipartisan push to continue moving things to the right. I've read a lot of people trying to make the case for voting blue and it just seems like too much wishful thinking and pretending everything bad started Trump's first day for me to be able to pull the lever.

*Note: As true as this is, I wish I didn't have to say this when talking politics anymore, but that's the world we live in.

11 users have voted.

Just another Bozo on the bus.

snoopydawg's picture

Is it stupidity, laziness or something else that keeps people from knowing the truth about everything that we here know?

How is it that people don’t know how badly Cuomo handled the epidemic? Or refuse to believe that Harris was not a progressive attorney general? Or that Pelosi is just as bad as McConnell?

This is bold

The senate has gone home until September 8. The house is only doing pro forma stuff whatever that is. But meanwhile suicide rates are going up as is domestic violence and child abuse cases. More people are either being evicted or going through high stress worrying about how they can afford to live. Damn the oligarchy psychopathic assholes!

15 users have voted.

“Restoring the soul of this nation” is just MAGA with more words

Twitter is like a game of telephone

@snoopydawg There is an answer to a lot of these questions, i think.

Here it is: Add "too busy trying to stay alive" to the stupidity and laziness issues.

The news and much of the web is aimed at people who are to some degree, at least, insulated from the horrors of what is happening right now in our country. They are able to believe that things are okay because they are personally doing alright. That's the audience for the media spin and the insane poll results.

The "something else" you mention is the large percentage of Americans that have fallen off the radar as waves of dire circumstances roll over them.

My internal picture is of a high school gym with chairs set up on the floor. The music plays and every time it stops more of the chairs are removed and the previous chair occupants are banished to the stands where there are no cameras or microphones to record their distress.

Will the bleecher occupants ever reach a critical enough mass to cause change?

I don't know.

13 users have voted.


snoopydawg's picture


politics closely, but refused to admit that Hillary was a bad candidate because of her history or see that Obama was not the Great President that they think he was. You know...over there....
Or believe the articles they read that debunked Russia Gate.

But yes there are many people who are too busy trying to stay alive to pay attention to politics.

7 users have voted.

“Restoring the soul of this nation” is just MAGA with more words

Twitter is like a game of telephone

@snoopydawg Yes. I see what you mean and I agree.

The people you are talking about are probably benefiting is some way from the current system and it isn't in their interest to acknowledge the dreadfulness of the democratic party.

5 users have voted.


joe shikspack's picture


with any luck, by 2024, there will be no more democrat party and those party hacks will darken our public conversation no more.

the country is drowning and the senate has gone off to party in the yacht club's floating ballroom.

try not to make too much noise while you gasp for air, it's a real party buzzkill.

12 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

I'm with you that there is no more Democrat party by 2024. I'm hoping is dissolves in the next month or two.

Well, we all know what's going on - not it's time to start thinking of the possibilities and making that happen. We are changing for good. What do we want? According to Edward Abbey, I'm a patriot. I like that. It's time for a new government - that's the possibility I see. When do I see it? Within the next six months to four years. These things take time.

I'm so very grateful to the virus for changing my life. I'm a happy person.

Enjoy the evening! Pleasantry

10 users have voted.

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." E.M.Foster

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

yep, i am seeing a lot of pathways to the demise of the current government, i guess we'll see what rises from the ashes.

have a great evening!

6 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@Raggedy Ann  
“on the Mainland,” my hope is that more and more Hawaiians and other residents of Hawaii will envision and pitch in to build a new society and nation based on Hawaiian ways and values, and governed and owned by the people of the Islands themselves, not by politicians, generals, and absentee property holders of paper wealth and artificially constructed legal privileges, situated an ocean and a continent away.

6 users have voted.
mimi's picture

doubt it will happen. HI is the ultimate colonial treasure for the MIC I believe. They won't give it away. Or otherwise there is bloodshed and lots of deaths. It feels already like Martial Law is on the horizon.

Not that I know this, but it's my guts' feeling.

6 users have voted.

"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS

Azazello's picture


5 users have voted.

It didn't have to be this way.

mimi's picture

I know about quite some military vets who commit suicide over the subject matter this honest political ad is describing.

So, it's kind of hard right now to lol about it.

2 users have voted.

"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS

joe shikspack's picture


either or both of the former two, but not the latter option, please.

2 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
so ... not a laughing matter for the mom.

I am good at praying and hope it helps.

2 users have voted.

"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS

I read your eb from last evening while my roast was roasting this evening, read your eb from today while trying to ignore blue grass music blasting onto my front porch.
Amazing good stuff, especially when that means stuff (news) we need to know to just be prepared to survive.
Hope you are ok and things are great here in the east Texas Piney Woods.

5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

glad to hear that things are going well in the piney woods. things are fine here in the deciduous woods of the northern bay region of maryland. Smile

take care and enjoy that fiddle and banjo music!

2 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

to or theorize about the causes of this murder, because the racial identities involved don’t fit The Narrative.

4 users have voted.