The Evening Blues - 10-19-20
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features r&b singer Jackie Wilson. Enjoy!
Jackie Wilson - Lonely teardrops
“Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.”
-- A.J. Liebling
News and Opinion
Worth a full read:
On Wednesday morning, the [New York Post] published on its cover what it heralded as a “blockbuster” scoop: “smoking gun” evidence, in its words, in the form of emails purportedly showing that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, traded on his father’s position by securing favors from the then-vice president to benefit the Ukranian energy company Burisma, which paid the supremely unqualified Hunter $50,000 each month to sit on its Board. While the Biden campaign denies that any such meetings or favors ever occurred, neither the campaign nor Hunter, at least as of now, has denied the authenticity of the emails. ...
The two Silicon Valley giants [Facebook and Twitter] saw that hostile climate and reacted. Just two hours after the story was online, Facebook intervened. The company dispatched a life-long Democratic Party operative who now works for Facebook — Andy Stone, previously a communications operative for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, among other D.C. Democratic jobs — to announce that Facebook was “reducing [the article’s] distribution on our platform”: in other words, tinkering with its own algorithms to suppress the ability of users to discuss or share the news article. The long-time Democratic Party official did not try to hide his contempt for the article, beginning his censorship announcement by snidely noting: “I will intentionally not link to the New York Post.”
Twitter’s suppression efforts went far beyond Facebook’s. They banned entirely all users’ ability to share the Post article — not just on their public timeline but even using the platform’s private Direct Messaging feature. Early in the day, users who attempted to link to the New York Post story either publicly or privately received a cryptic message rejecting the attempt as an “error.” Later in the afternoon, Twitter changed the message, advising users that they could not post that link because the company judged its contents to be “potentially harmful.” Even more astonishing still, Twitter locked the account of the New York Post, banning the paper from posting any content all day and, evidently, into Thursday morning. The last tweet from the paper was posted at roughly 2:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday. And then, on Thursday morning, the Post published a follow-up article using the same archive of materials, this one purporting to detail efforts by the former vice president’s son to pursue lucrative deals with a Chinese energy company by using his father’s name. Twitter is now also banning the sharing or posting of links to that article as well. In sum, the two Silicon Valley giants, with little explanation, united to prevent the sharing and dissemination of this article.
The New York Post story is obviously kind of wild and deserves scrutiny, but Facebook limiting distribution is a bit like if a company that owned newspaper delivery trucks decided not to drive because it didn’t like a story.
— Matt Pearce(@mattdpearce) October 14, 2020
Does a truck company edit the newspaper? It does now, apparently.
— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) October 14, 2020
(to be clear, this is not a real thing — newspapers not controlling their own distribution is an entirely new thing in journalism history)
— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) October 14, 2020
That the First Amendment right of free speech is inapplicable to these questions goes without saying. That constitutional guarantee restricts the actions of governments, not private corporations such as Facebook and Twitter. But glibly pointing this out does not come close to resolving this controversy. That actions by gigantic corporations are constitutional does not mean that they are benign.
Twitter was wrong to block weblinks to an unverified political story, CEO Jack Dorsey said on Friday, as the company responded to criticism over its handling of the story that had prompted cries of censorship from the right.
“Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix,” he tweeted. “Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that.”
Dorsey was weighing in after an executive at the social media company announced changes late on Thursday to its policy on hacked content following an onslaught of criticism.
Twitter will no longer remove hacked material unless it is directly shared by hackers or those working with them, the company’s head of legal, policy, trust and safety, Vijaya Gadde, said in a Twitter thread.
And instead of blocking links from being shared, tweets will be labelled to provide context, Gadde said.
“We want to address the concerns that there could be many unintended consequences to journalists, whistleblowers and others in ways that are contrary to Twitter’s purpose of serving the public conversation,” she said.
Nancy Pelosi Is Talking to the White House About a Coronavirus Deal, but Won’t Tell Anybody What’s in It
Last Friday, the Trump administration offered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a $1.8 trillion stimulus deal, which she promptly rejected. It’s $400 billion smaller than the House Democrats’ plan and probably wouldn’t pass the GOP-controlled Senate. A handful of Democrats are calling on Pelosi to take it anyway, and dare Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to be the one to kill it. Now, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are back on the phone, and reportedly inching closer to an agreement.
But most House Democrats haven’t spoken out one way or another, in part because no House Democrat other than Pelosi knows what’s actually in the proposal. The top-line spending amounts and some of the major provisions have been confirmed, but no one has seen the text, and no one’s sure what else Republicans have stuffed into it. Meanwhile, the typical lines of battle in the House have been scrambled. The left is urging Pelosi to quickly cave to Trump and take whatever deal is on offer, while the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus is doing the same, hoping to pick off enough progressives that they can team with Republicans to box McConnell in. It’s politically disorienting, made all the more confusing by Pelosi’s inability to put forward anything other than a callous rationale for her objections. ...
Democratic leaders are asking for $2.2 trillion and object to the amount of funding allocated to state and local governments, as well as what they say is an insufficient strategy for Covid-19 testing and tracing. They also oppose liability protection, which would shield corporations from coronavirus-related lawsuits. But the dispute over the stimulus isn’t limited to policy. Like Pelosi said herself, Democrats are wary of passing a stimulus bill because it would hand President Donald Trump a political victory, and fear that sending $1,200 checks to those who desperately need it could help revive his reelection campaign. ...
But a major barrier for many would-be supporters of a bill is that they haven’t seen the text — and they don’t trust Republicans, who seem wholly uninterested in providing any relief for working people. The president has been more erratic than ever, repeatedly contradicting himself on whether he supports a large-scale stimulus deal or not. Trump suddenly blew up stimulus talks that had been going on for months only to later call for a series of smaller bills and then finally come back to the table. McConnell has indicated that the GOP opposes another large stimulus package altogether, and says passing any major pandemic aid legislation is “unlikely in the next three weeks.” Still, Democrats have little to lose in accepting the offer and leaving the bill’s fate up to McConnell.
“Let’s expose that,” Khanna said. “Right now, the country thinks that all of Washington is incompetent and not doing its job. If we advance this deal, then the country will know that it’s one senator from Kentucky that’s holding up the relief and at least there will be clarity.” In this case, he added, there would be “extraordinary mobilization and pressure” on McConnell that “would at least have a chance of working.”
To Avoid Cleaning Up 'Dumpings of This Elephant,' Pelosi Gives White House 48 Hours to Agree on Covid-19 Relief Package
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi affirmed Sunday that Democrats in the House have told President Donald Trump and his negotiating team that they have just 48 hours more if they want to secure a far-reaching Covid-19 relief package prior to U.S. elections on November 3.
With off again-on again negotiations between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin going on for many weeks—and refusal of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the House-passed HEROES Act to the floor for months—the Speaker told ABC News on Sunday morning that time was simply running out for a viable deal to be reached and passed before Election Day.
The Speaker warned that if a deal is not reached by election day, economic calamity and further suffering would befall the nation before a new administration and Congress will be able to act in 2021.
"If you don't get that agreement in the 48 hour deadline you set, what happens?" asked ABC's "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos.
"Here's the thing," Pelosi replied, "The 48 only relates to if we want to get it done before the election, which we do." Watch the full exchange:
According to Axios:
Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke for over an hour Saturday night, and the discussions yielded "some encouraging news on testing," Pelosi's deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said. But the pair still had differences on a plan for testing and contact tracing and "measures to address the virus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color."
While Pelosi has stood firm for a deal that would go way beyond the relative paltry $500 billion package that McConnell has put together and plans to bring to the Senate floor for a vote this week, progressives have been trying to pressure the Speaker to agree to something like the $1.8 trillion deal that Mnuchin in the president—at least momentarily—agreed to two weeks ago.
Pelosi on Sunday said Democrats want a deal, but worries that Trump is willing to the let the economy and the American people suffer by their continued refusal.
"I certainly want it," Pelosi told Stephanopoulos, "because I don't want to have to be sweeping up after this—dumpings of this elephant—as we go into a new presidency in a few short months."
You gotta wonder, what color is the sky in Larry Kudlow's world?
Trump's Millionaire Economic Adviser Celebrates 'Gales of Creative Destruction' as Millions Lose Their Jobs and Go Hungry
With millions of Americans out of work, struggling to afford food for themselves and their children, and facing the possibility of losing their homes, President Donald Trump's top economic adviser on Friday celebrated what he described as the "gales of creative destruction" supposedly unleashed by the U.S. economic system in the midst of the pandemic-induced recession.
"The talk is that a lot of folks who became unemployed, alright, most regrettably—but, they're sticking with it and they're going out and starting new businesses," Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, said in an appearance on Fox Business. "They're going to be small businesses."
WH Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow: “A lot of folks who became unemployed ... they’re going out and starting new businesses … That’s the great part of American capitalism. pic.twitter.com/YXr2Nz21Ky
— The Recount (@therecount) October 16, 2020
"But that's the great part of American capitalism, gales of creative destruction," Kudlow continued, deploying a phrase popularized in the 1940s by economist Joseph Schumpeter. "I just love that new business start-up story."
Critics immediately noted that the millions of people across the U.S. who are teetering on the brink of complete financial ruin are likely not impressed by the so-called "creative destruction" praised by Kudlow, who in June complained that the $600-per-week federal unemployment insurance boost many jobless workers were receiving at the time was excessive.
"Wonder how the 14% of households with kids who reported that they didn't get enough food to eat in the last seven days or the 32% of adults who are having trouble paying for usual household expenses feel about the 'gales of creative destruction,'" tweeted Washington Post reporter Jacqueline Alemany, pointing to data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Kudlow's comments came a day after the Labor Department reported that an additional 1.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, yet another indication that the strong economic recovery Kudlow has repeatedly predicted in recent weeks is not materializing.
Thousands of small businesses have closed, many permanently so. Not because there had been anything fundamentally broken with their business models -- because the government has so badly screwed up the covid response that it remains broadly unsafe to operate https://t.co/Hvfkkl2InF
— Catherine Rampell (@crampell) October 16, 2020
As White House Embraces Dangerous 'Herd Immunity' Strategy, Covid-19 Deaths Predicted to Spike 80% in US by February
As the Trump administration ignores the pleas of its own health experts and embraces a "herd immunity" strategy that scientists have condemned as fringe and dangerous, researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine are predicting an 80% spike in U.S. coronavirus deaths by February as cases continue to rise across the nation.
A model designed by experts at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts that the U.S. coronavirus death toll will soar from around 217,000 at present to 389,087 fatalities by February 1.
Under the model's best-case scenario—in which all Americans adhere to mask guidelines—the U.S. death toll is predicted to rise to 314,000 by the beginning of February. If mask-wearing requirements are eased, the model predicts total U.S. deaths from the pandemic could rise to 477,000.
"We expect deaths to stop declining and begin increasing in the next one to two weeks," the institute's researchers told CNN. "The winter surge appears to have begun somewhat later than the surge in Europe. Daily deaths will reach over 2,000 a day in January even with many states reimposing mandates before the end of the year."
The alarming projection—which runs directly counter to President Donald Trump's repeated insistence that the pandemic is fading away—came as the U.S. reported more than 64,000 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, the highest single-day total since late July.
As the Washington Post reported Thursday, "In 44 states and the District of Columbia, caseloads are higher than they were one month ago, and many of the new infections are being reported in rural areas with limited hospital capacity."
The upward trend of new infections is "a very ominous sign," Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean of tropical medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN. "This is the time when we could be entering one of the worst periods of our epidemic and one of our worst periods in modern American public health. I'm very worried for the nation."
With little more than two weeks to reverse his dismal standing in the polls, and amid a coronavirus resurgence that could sink his pursuit of a second term, Donald Trump has embarked on a tour of battleground states. New US daily cases of Covid-19 are averaging above 55,000, their highest level since July, according to government figures, and rising in more than 40 states, including many the Republican president must win on 3 November. ...
Only Vermont and Missouri have reported a decrease in the average number of reported cases over the past week. Connecticut and Florida lead the nation, with increases by 50% or more. Another 27 states rose between 10% and 50%, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 8.1m US cases have been confirmed, the death toll near 220,000.
“We’re doing great, we’re doing really well,” Trump said in Wisconsin. “We’re rounding the corner. We have unbelievable vaccines coming out real soon.”
Jeremy Scahill: “Trump Is Not the Root of the Problem, He Is a Product of American Imperial History”
Following a "violent right-wing coup" last year that led to the ouster of President Evo Morales, the people of Bolivia headed to polling stations in large numbers on Sunday for long-delayed national elections that could see the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party retake hold of the government.
In the run-off style elections, a candidate needs more than 50% during a first round vote—or 40% of the vote with at least a 10-point edge over the next candidate—to be declared a winner. If that threshold is not met, a runoff will be held at the end of November.
According to the Guardian:
Polls suggest the MAS candidate, Morales's UK-educated former finance minister Luis Arce, has the edge over his main challenger, a centrist journalist and former president called Carlos Mesa.
"They [MAS] are in the driver's seat and if they can mobilize voters this weekend—and they are the only party with the capacity to do that—they could do very well," said Eduardo Gamarra, aexpert at Florida International University.
Gamarra thought a second round—which 67-year-old Mesa would probably win—remained the more likely prospect. If no candidate secures an outright majority, or 40% of the votes with 10% breathing space, a run-off will be held on 29 November. The third major candidate is Luis Fernando Camacho of the new rightwing Creemos ("We believe") alliance. Áñez withdrew her candidacy last month saying she did not want to split the conservative vote.
Long lines of voters could be seen in MAS strongholds Sunday and after Arce cast his ballot near La Paz, he said: "We hope that the whole process will be peaceful."
Incredibly long queues outside this polling station in Sopocachi, La Paz. The Bolivian regime promised to open more voting centres to prevent crowds & reduce risk of Covid19 contagion. That clearly hasn't happened. pic.twitter.com/q9aj1w7xxs
— Ollie Vargas (@OVargas52) October 18, 2020
The elections arrive with bitter memories of the roll played by the U.S.-backed Organization of American States (OAS) when it bolstered and gave legitimacy to claims from right-wing forces within the country that the 2019 elections, which Morales and his party won, were fraudulent.
Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington D.C., warned Friday that the OAS remains poised to created mischief again as it aligns itself with the "care taker" Bolivian government of Jeanine Áñez, which seized power after Morales was forced to flee the country last year.
"The OAS played a leading role in creating the conditions for the military overthrow of Bolivia's democratic government, following last year's elections in Bolivia," Weisbrot said in a statement. "It quickly cast doubt on the preliminary results that showed Evo Morales with a first-round victory with a false statement about the day after the election, and it repeated this falsehood in multiple releases. As the New York Times has reported, the OAS' 'flawed' analysis 'fueled a chain of events that changed the South American nation's history.' This included the military coup of November 10."
As CEPR noted in its statement, the OAS could still play a possible role in undermining the voice of Bolivians in Sunday's election:
On September 30, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro met with the de facto interior minister of Bolivia, Arturo Murillo, at the OAS's Washington, DC headquarters. Following the meeting, Almagro tweeted that Murillo had "conveyed his concern about the possibility of a new fraud" in Bolivia's October 18 elections. Almagro agreed to "strengthen" the observation mission the OAS will have on the ground for the vote. Despite Almagro's rhetoric about possible MAS fraud, numerous polls show MAS candidate Luis Arce in first place—and close to the margin necessary to avoid a second-round run-off election.
On Sunday, Morales—who remains in exile in Argentina—tweeted support for his people and called for the legitimate results to be respected both in Bolivia and abroad.
"Elections must always be a democratic party in which we meet again beyond differences," the ousted leader tweeted (translation from Spanish). "Our diversity is the richness of our identity and is the source of our unity."
Morales called on his people not to fall prey to provocations, saying the "great lesson that we must never forget is that violence only generates violence and that with it we all lose."
"It is very important that each and every one of us calmly wait for each and every vote to be counted," Morales said, and he further called on the nation's "Armed Forces and the Bolivian Police to faithfully fulfill their very important institutional and constitutional role" as the results come in.
A federal court on Thursday sentenced a Catholic priest to nearly three years in prison for trespassing on a Georgia naval base to protest U.S. nuclear weapons policy, but he could be imminently released due to time served—while on Friday another activist was sentenced in connection with the same demonstration.
National Catholic Reporter reports Rev. Stephen M. Kelly, a 71-year-old Jesuit priest, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to 33 months' imprisonment, three years' probation, and over $33,000 in restitution fees to be paid jointly with other defendants.
"Father Kelly, it has been clear to me you are sincere in your beliefs," said Wood. "However, I would be remiss to discount the nature of the offense that we're looking at today and the risk to safety that you knowingly undertook."
Because Kelly has already been jailed for 30 months and is eligible for 54 days of annual good behavior credit, he could be released at any time.
Kelly, a member of the Catholic peace activist group Kings Bay Plowshares 7, entered Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Marys, Georgia with six others at dusk on April 4, 2018. The group chose April 4 because it was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Nobel Peace Prize recipient who called the United States government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."
The activists—Carmen Trotta, Patrick O'Neill, Martha Hennessy, Liz McAlister, Clare Grady, Father Steve Kelly, and Mark Coalville—said they wanted "to highlight what King called the 'evil triplets of militarism, racism, and materialism'" and to "make real the prophet Isaiah's command: 'beat swords into plowshares.'"
"Armed" with hammers, bottles of their own blood, crime scene tape, and an indictment charging the U.S. government with crimes against peace, the seven splashed the blood on a wall, spray-painted an anti-war slogan on a sidewalk, and hammered away at a monument to nuclear war. They caused minimal damage.
Kings Bay houses at least six nuclear submarines, each armed with 20 Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles of the multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) variety. Each missile contains numerous nuclear warheads, providing a thermonuclear force multiplier and overwhelming first-strike capability.
Put simply, Kings Bay's submarines are capable of killing many millions of human beings and making life on Earth a frozen hellscape for many millions more.
A peaceful protest in a sleepy and affluent suburb that is home to the head of the California national guard was among four demonstrations monitored by national guard spy planes, according to a newspaper report.
The planes flew over several cities in early June, to monitor street protests following the police killing of George Floyd, triggering concerns the military was improperly gathering intelligence on US citizens, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Three reconnaissance planes watched demonstrations in Minneapolis, Phoenix and Washington DC that drew large crowds and were marred by violence. But the target of the fourth plane was the prosperous Sacramento suburb of El Dorado Hills, where much smaller rallies were entirely peaceful, the Times said.
Local and state authorities have not explained how and why that neighborhood was chosen when other cities that saw property destruction and street clashes amid large protests, including Los Angeles and Oakland, were not.
The head of the California national guard, Maj Gen David S Baldwin, lives in El Dorado Hills. In addition to deploying the RC-26B reconnaissance plane, the guard sent a Lakota helicopter to hover over the suburb, according to officials and records. The aircraft were requested by the El Dorado county sheriff’s office, state records show.
Clumps of white fluff drift across the highway on the west side of the Mississippi Delta town of Belzoni. Cotton now grows from the beds of former catfish ponds. When catfish ponds in the self-proclaimed Catfish Capital of the World dried up, jobs went with them. Humphreys county, where Belzoni is located, has an unemployment rate double the national level.
But it is not entirely a forgotten southern backwater – at least, not to one government agency. Last year ProPublica reported that the Internal Revenue Service audits Humphreys county taxpayers at a higher rate than anywhere else in America.
About 12 out of 1,000 tax returns are audited each year in the county, according to the ProPublica analysis. That’s 53% higher than the national average and raises the question of why such a place is the subject of such IRS attention, rather than the haunts of millionaires and billionaires, like Manhattan and its one-time resident Donald Trump. But in the most heavily audited county in the US, the recent shock news that Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 was no surprise, said Joe Jackson, who was elected mayor of Belzoni last month. ...
Yet the county’s residents have been targeted by the IRS for claiming a tax credit that aims to lift working parents out of poverty. The IRS audits about 300,000 taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit, or EITC, each year. These taxpayers are targeted more often than high-income and high-wealth taxpayers because the audits of EITC claimants are easier to do, according to a 2019 letter written by the IRS Commissioner.
An analysis by Kim Bloomquist, who retired from the IRS Office of Research in 2018, found that the IRS’s policy has resulted in higher rates of tax audits in poor communities of color than the rest of the country. Eight of the most heavily audited counties in the country are in Mississippi. In Humphreys county, 76% of the 8,000 residents are Black.
Down in the polls to Joe Biden and campaigning through a surging pandemic, Donald Trump chose to devote time on Saturday morning to a Twitter rant against a member of his own party in the Senate, a chamber Republicans face losing on 3 November. The president called Ben Sasse “little”, “the least effective of our 53 Republican senators”, “rather stupid and obnoxious” and “an embarrassment to the great state of Nebraska”.
“Other than that,” Trump concluded, “he’s just a wonderful guy!”
Sasse’s crime was to have criticised Trump in robust terms on a call with constituents first reported by the Washington Examiner, saying the president “kisses dictators’ butts” and “flirts with white supremacists”.
“I’m now looking at the possibility of a Republican bloodbath in the Senate, and that’s why I’ve never been on the Trump train,” Sasse said.
This week, analysts at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia predicted Senate Democrats would earn “a net gain of between one and eight seats”. The Democrats need a net gain of three or four seats to win a majority. ...
But critics scoffed at his claim never to have “never been on the Trump train” – he has voted with the Trump White House 87% of the time, and joined the rest of his party except Mitt Romney in voting to acquit Trump on both impeachment charges.
In Alaska and other high, cold places around the world, new research shows that mountains are collapsing as the permafrost that holds them together melts, threatening tsunamis if they fall into the sea. Scientists are warning that populated areas and major tourist attractions are at risk.
One area of concern is a slope of the Barry Arm fjord in Alaska that overlooks a popular cruise ship route. The Barry Arm slide began creeping early last century, sped up a decade ago, and was discovered this year using satellite photos. If it lets loose, the wave could hit any ships in the area and reach hundreds of meters up nearby mountains, swamping the popular tourist destination and crashing as high as 10 meters over the town of Whittier. Earlier this year, 14 geologists warned that a major slide was “possible” within a year, and “likely” within 20 years.
In 2015, a similar landslide, on a slope that had also crept for decades, created a tsunami that sheared off forests 193 meters up the slopes of Alaska’s Taan Fiord. “When the climate changes,” said geologist Bretwood Higman, who has worked on Taan Fiord and Barry Arm, “the landscape takes time to adjust. If a glacier retreats really quickly it can catch the surrounding slopes by surprise – they might fail catastrophically instead of gradually adjusting.”
In last week’s vice presidential debate between Sen. Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence, Harris reiterated Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s rejection of a fracking ban, despite her earlier call for one when she was a presidential candidate (CBS News, 10/7/20):
“I will repeat, and the American people know, that Joe Biden will not ban fracking. That is a fact,” Harris said.
Harris emphasized that Biden “believes” in science; claimed that he “understands that the West Coast of our country is burning” and “sees what is happening on the Gulf states, which are being battered by storms”; and that he has “seen and talked with the farmers in Iowa, whose entire crops have been destroyed because of floods.”
Yet whenever there are discussions about enacting a national fracking ban, corporate media seem to prioritize the supposed short-term potential “risks” to Democrats’ electoral prospects, or potential economic downturns, over the long-term prospects for human civilization’s survival.
When there was discussion of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s bill for a nationwide fracking ban earlier this year, the New York Times’ “In Crucial Pennsylvania, Democrats Worry a Fracking Ban Could Sink Them” (1/27/20) cited a few state Democratic politicians claiming that any presidential candidate who supports a national fracking ban would risk losing Pennsylvania in the general election. The Times trivialized the issue by reducing it to a “political bet,” with the highest stakes being the mere loss of a Democratic presidency, as opposed to dooming humanity to climate apartheid (FAIR.org, 7/30/19) and ultimately losing human life as we know it to natural disasters (FAIR.org, 6/11/19, 9/5/19, 1/3/20, 9/18/20). The Times’ Lisa Friedman and Shane Goldmacher wrote:
A pledge to ban all hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, could jeopardize any presidential candidate’s chances of winning this most critical of battleground states — and thus the presidency itself… In some ways, the fracking ban is indicative of the entire political bet undergirding the candidacies of Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren that the 2020 campaign will not be won by appeals to the narrow interests of traditional swing voters but through the mass mobilization of an energized electorate.
NPR’s “Proposals to Ban Fracking Could Hurt Democrats in Key States” (2/11/20) likewise made dubious pronouncements on the opinions of swing-state voters the focal point of the story, as opposed to what actions are required to resolve the climate crisis:
Climate change is a top issue in the Democratic presidential primaries and some candidates have taken relatively aggressive policy stands, including vows to ban hydraulic fracturing. But some Democrats worry that could push moderate voters in key swing states to reelect President Trump next November… In a swing state like Pennsylvania, a major gas producer, fracking and energy are key issues. Even a small segment of voters swayed one way or another could change the election.
After the primaries, it’s clear that corporate media believe it’s their duty to function as Biden’s de facto campaign manager by explaining to voters what Biden’s position on a fracking ban actually is, as well as advising Biden to reject a fracking ban because, they claim, that would be an electoral disaster. Soon after the debate, Quartz (10/8/20) explained that Biden and Harris don’t support a fracking ban, because it “tempts political suicide in swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio where fossil fuels still rule.” Why an electoral disaster ought to be prioritized over civilizational disaster is never explained.
[More at the link. - js]
Critics Say Deregulatory Rush Shows Even If Defeated the Trump White House Willing to 'Scorch the Earth Before They Go'
With President Donald Trump's re-election very much in doubt, his administration is rushing to ram through regulatory rollbacks that could adversely affect millions of Americans, the environment, and the ability of Joe Biden—should he win—to pursue his agenda or even undo the damage done over the past four years.
Reporting by the New York Times details how the administration is cutting corners as it scrambles to enact as much of its agenda as possible before ceding power on January 20 if Trump loses the election. Required public comment periods and detailed analyses, according to the Times, are being eschewed in favor of streamlined approval processes that have left even staunch deregulation defenders sounding the alarm.
"Two main hallmarks of a good regulation is sound analysis to support the alternatives chosen and extensive public comment to get broader opinion," Susan E. Dudley, director of the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center and formerly head of regulation in the George W. Bush White House, told the Times. "It is a concern if you are bypassing both of those."
Russell Vought, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told the Times that the president has always "worked quickly... to grow the economy by removing the mountain of Obama-Biden job-killing regulations."
However, critics are warning that some of the proposed changes are being rushed through with insufficient regard to the harm they might cause. Some of the issues that are raising red flags include:
Refusing to lower limits on dangerous particulate and ozone pollution, which cause thousands of annual premature deaths. Allowing so-called "bomb trains" that transport highly combustible liquefied natural gas on freight trains. Determining when workers can be classified as employees or independent contractors. Exempting certain commercial drivers from mandatory hour limits and rest periods. Placing limits on how science is used in the air pollution rule-making process. Expanding regulation of immigrants by requiring citizenship applicants to submit biometric data, by forcing sponsors of immigrants to stay off welfare and prove their financial independence.
In response to the reporting, critics of the administration like writer Matthew Kressel said that it helps make clear that if the Republicans in the White House cannot win reelection, they'll "scorch the earth before they go."
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Jackie Wilson - (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher
Jackie Wilson - Reet Petite
Jackie Wilson - Stop Doggin' Me Around
Jackie Wilson - I'll Be Satisfied
Jackie Wilson - Shout
Jackie Wilson - A Woman Needs To Be Loved
Jackie Wilson - I'll Fly Away
Jackie Wilson - Chain Gang
Jackie Wilson - Baby Workout