HomeUncategorized10/9 News Roundup & Open Thread
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Humphrey shared this last night, but I thought I would highlight it again this morning. It will be very interesting to hear what Bernie has to say.


Very predictable now that Warren has taken the polling lead. I doubt Rubin will be writing any more favorable columns about Warren.


Just two weeks ago, our survey of media coverage of Elizabeth Warren (FAIR.org, 9/23/19) found a fairly—though not exclusively—positive tenor, with stories often contrasting her favorably to Bernie Sanders and highlighting her outspoken commitment to capitalism. But with erstwhile frontrunner Joe Biden under fierce attack from Donald Trump, and Sanders recovering from a heart attack (FAIR.org, 10/7/19), establishment Democrats and their big donors are suddenly looking at Elizabeth Warren’s rising poll numbers as a sign that her candidacy has very real potential—and is a very real threat to their power.

As centrist Democratic sources go, so go the media.

There’s obviously a lot of uncertainty at the moment; it’s just that the Washington Post, relying on its corporate centrist cast of characters, can’t give anything like an honest accounting of it.


It boggles my mind that ANYBODY should think that Dems should give a damn about what a Republican columnist thinks about who should be the Dem nominee. Why in the world is this woman’s opinion supposed to matter?


She’s a Never Trumper which certain Dems revere and she was writing an anti-Bernie column every day, which those certain Dems lapped up.


I don’t think Biden is completely skating on this soft corruption issue. I think his electability argument has taken a hit.


WHILE DEMOCRATS PURSUE the impeachment of President Donald Trump for pressuring foreign countries to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, they are left making an argument that is at once true and electorally and ethically compromising: What Trump did — and continues to do — was an impeachable abuse of power, and it should be considered separately from the question of what Hunter Biden did.

The problem for Democrats is that a review of Hunter Biden’s career shows clearly that he, along with Joe Biden’s brother James, has been trading on their family name for decades, cashing in on the implication — and sometimes the explicit argument — that giving money to a member of Joe Biden’s family wins the favor of Joe Biden. Democrats have been loath to give any credibility to the wild rantings of Trump or his bagman Rudy Giuliani, leaving them to sidestep the question of Hunter Biden’s ethics or decision-making, and how much responsibility Joe Biden deserves. Republicans, though, have no such qualms, and have made clear that smearing the Bidens as corrupt will be central to Trump’s reelection campaign. The Trump approach is utterly without shame or irony, with attacks even coming from failson Eric Trump.

Investigative reporters and GOP operatives have dived deep into the question of whether Joe Biden ever used his official power to do favors for special interests shoveling money to his family and found no proof of this. In the case of Ukraine, it’s likely that Biden’s actions as vice president, in demanding the firing of the country’s top prosecutor, did more to hurt his son’s company than anything else. As far as the impeachment inquiry is concerned, that’s an important point: There was no illegal behavior for Trump to hang his desired corruption investigation into Joe Biden on. His entire goal was to use the power of the American empire to pressure a client state into ginning up bad press for his Democratic rival. Nobody seriously believes that Trump has any serious commitment to eradicating corruption in Ukraine, or any genuine opposition to nepotism. A member of his own family has used the power of the White House to shake down Gulf autocrats for a real-estate bailout, after all.

But that doesn’t mean the Bidens’ behavior isn’t a legitimate problem for Democrats. Indeed, Biden has been taking political hits over of the intersection of his family’s financial dealings and his own political career for some four decades. Yet he has done nothing publicly to inoculate himself from the charge that his career is corruptly enriching his family, and now that is a serious liability. By contrast, one of his opponents in the presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., went so far as to refuse to endorse his son Levi Sanders when he ran for Congress, saying that he does not believe in political dynasties. In defending the Biden’s nepotistic relationship, Democrats would be forced to argue that, to be fair, such soft corruption is common among the families of senior-level politicians. But that’s a risky general-election argument in a political moment when voters are no longer willing to accept business-as-usual. For now, Biden’s opponents in the presidential campaign appear to all hope that somebody else will make the argument, while congressional Democrats don’t want to do anything to undermine their impeachment probe. And so Biden skates.


Biden will not be happy with this NY Times op ed.


In 2016, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $264 million as part of a settlement with the federal government. The reason? An Asian subsidiary of the company had hired the children of Chinese government officials in the hopes of currying favor with their powerful parents — a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Had the same thing happened with a foreign company and an American politician’s family, however, no violation would have occurred — because no equivalent American law prevents a foreign company or government from hiring the family members of American politicians.

This glaring loophole provides political families with an opportunity to effectively “offshore” corruption and cronyism. It gives the politically connected class enormously tempting opportunities for self-dealing, the sort of thing that is blatantly illegal in almost any other context.

Consider two Washington power families: the Bidens and the McConnell-Chaos.

As vice president, Joe Biden served as point person on American policy toward China and Ukraine. In both instances, his son Hunter, a businessman, landed deals he was apparently unqualified to score save for one thing: his father.

At a minimum, we need to strengthen American disclosure rules. Joe Biden and Elaine Chao have to report when someone sends them a $500 campaign donation, or when they make a $5,000 investment in a stock. But when their family members strike lucrative deals with a foreign government or oligarch, the reporting requirements are vague. The personal financial disclosure rules for American public officials should be expanded to include details concerning all their immediate family members (and not just their spouses, as the law currently states), and any dealings with foreign governments.

To the public, closing a loophole this glaring seems anodyne, a no-brainer. But lawmakers set the system up this way for a reason; they will not stop the foreign cash influence game voluntarily. That’s why we need a Washington Corrupt Practices Act, one that clearly shuts down foreign influence and self-enrichment for some of America’s most powerful families on both sides of the aisle.


And here’s the problem. The ad is a blatant lie, but it piggybacks on the very real nepotism/soft corruption involved, and some outlets will run it. All this whataboutism hurts Biden.


Facebook has denied a request from former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to remove an ad being run by President Trump’s reelection campaign that questions Biden’s role in the firing of a Ukranian prosecutor.

CNN reports that Facebook, in a letter, responded to a removal request made by Biden’s campaign by saying its decision to let the ad remain is “grounded in Facebook’s fundamental belief in free expression, respect for the democratic process, and belief that in mature democracies with a free press, political speech is already arguably the most scrutinized speech there is.”

The 30-second video from the Trump campaign has also appeared on Twitter and YouTube.

The video accuses Biden of offering the aid money to Ukraine if it agreed to remove the prosecutor investigating a company tied to his son, Hunter Biden.

There is no evidence that Biden pushed for the prosecutor’s removal to protect his son and the Obama administration said it wanted the prosecutor removed because he did not do enough to stamp out corruption in Ukraine.


Ooops, I see that you’re already on it, as per usual!


T and R, LD!! Biden is a 2-time loser in the POTUS race. That always reinforced my opinion of him.


I agree, Biden taking a hit with all this Ukraine, and now China, stuff.

Saw this morning that his campaign was turned down by fb on campaign request to not air a Trump ad on this.

Facebook rejects Biden campaign’s request to remove Trump ads containing false information



So don’t accept false choices about who’s electable versus who has ideas, who’s moderate versus who’s on the left, or whether we need to go back to the way it was before Trump.

In reality, what’s going to beat Trump are new ideas that mobilize America, that let Americans see what the wealthy and powerful who bankroll Trump have done to this nation, and get us looking forward to what America should be rather than backward to an America that was never as good as it could be.

Don midwest
Don midwest

Riots in Ecuador. The government has gone neo-liberal and imposed austerity measures along with their IMF loan. A long segment on this on democracynow this morning. You can get it from their web site.

It sounds like the main protesters are workers and indigenous people. My wife and I were there on a vacation, a couple of years ago, put on by OAT, Overseas Adventure Travel. We stayed in huts on the river and visited indigenous people.

The country is mostly mountains, so we flew into Quito and then into a town COCO and from there to a huge tributary of the Amazon river. I wish my memory was better: what was the year?. The man who built the jungle tourist facilities also lived in the town named COCO. When he move there, there were only 7 families. I don’t recall the date: was it 1960, 1970, 1980? In any case the town now has a population of 45,000 according to a 2010 census and it probably is way above that.

The reason for this comment comes from a law professor on democracynow who pointed out that problems leading to riots today have a history that involves the past president, Rafael Correa. He made tremendous economic progress and we have heard about him as he offered asylum to Julian Assange for many years in the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK. He is now being interviewed on various TV channels, especially RT which does everything it can to show how bad the US is. Correa sounds like Bill Clinton reciting facts about poverty rate down, and other real gains during his time as president.

However, the law prof on democracy now points out some chinks in his armor. One, his government was not efficient and effective and it led to budget problems and the new president (who is pro USA) ran on platform to address budget problems. Second, and the reason I am writing this, is that Correa opened up the country to oil and mining without consulting the indigenous people. This is the kind of growth that led from 7 families to probably 60,000 people now in Coco. The people in the region were almost all indigenous before the “progress” of resource extraction.

Just another reminder about how complex these issues are and solutions of the past are not going to make it.

The attack on indigenous population is an attack on land. The title of Bruno’s new book is “Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime.” Note that he makes Gaia the most important political actor.


Don midwest
Don midwest

Attended a debate last night: Capitalism vs Socialism

The two advocates played it straight for their various positions and the audience was more aligned with Democratic Socialism.

The speaker for DSA, Bob Fitrakis, is a local poly sci prof and an attorney and a journalist and a political activist. I didn’t realize that he was a co-founder of DSA.

Over 200 people, maybe 300 people, good questions, good evening.

I asked the last question that went something like this:

“Capitalism and socialism are only a couple hundred years old and now the environmental crisis is forcing politics, law, economics, etc. to change. How do you see capitalism and socialism changing to meet this new challenge”

The moderator realized that this question was way beyond the scope of what had been covered so he quickly pivoted to have the two advocates speak on environmental issues.

On the way home, I thought about what question I should have asked. Something like this:

“How can capitalism and socialism help to build a new common grounds, or maybe many common grounds so humans can respond to Gaia?”

Looking back it is clear that that would have blown them out of the water. While I am for sure closer to DSA, it isn’t just worker control of the means of production that will get us there. Also, DSA is promotes democracy which is badly needed. Bernie is solidly aligned with DSA. WE must elect Bernie.


Have to throw in my hero who spoke at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design on October 18, 2018 about how far we are from common ground.

Until recently the expression ‘we don’t live in the same planet’ was a metaphorical way of expressing no more than a disagreement. Today it has taken a literal meaning that the lecture will pursue in trying to map contrasted definitions of what used to be called “the natural world”.

Bruno Latour is now emeritus professor associated with the médialab and the program in political arts (SPEAP) of Sciences Po Paris. Since January 2018 he is for two years fellow at the Zentrum fur Media Kunst (ZKM) and professor at the HfG both in Karlsruhe. Member of several academies and recipient of six honorary doctorate, he is the recipient in 2013 of the Holberg Prize. He has written and edited more than twenty books and published more than one hundred and fifty articles. You can find more informations on his website (http://www.bruno-latour.fr/)

The speech and Q&A are on youtube. Bruno is introduced noting his long interaction with Harvard and instrumental in the founding of a graduate degree in political arts program at Harvard.

He has a paper related to the talk posted in his web page.

“We don’t seem to live on the same planet…” — a fictional planetarium application/pdf icon
Beyond the Horizon: Designs for Different Futures- Catalog of an Exhibition

Architects and designers are facing a new problem when they want to build for a habitable planet. They have to answer a new question because what used to be a lame joke: “My poor fellow you seem to live on another planet”, has become literal: “Yes indeed, we do intend to live on a different planet!”. In the old days, when political scientists talked about geopolitics, they meant different nations with opposite interests waging wars on the same material and geographical stage. Today, geopolitics is also concerned with wars about the very definition of the stage itself. A conflict will be called, from now on, “of planetary relevance” not because it has the planet for a stage, but because it is about which planet you are claiming to inhabit and to defend.


He is expanding the article on 7 planets to

“Taipei Biennale of Art will be curated by BL and Martin Guinard, opening October 2020
Posted: October 7, 2019

“You and I don’t share the same vision of the world” is a frequent figure of speech in political debates, whether in an official or informal setting. But the point is that today it is not merely a difference of “visions” about a space that would be the same for everyone, but a question of “the material nature” of the very world that we are talking about. Whereas in earlier times, geopolitics implied that there were different people with different interests fighting for territories that were parts of the same nature, today it is the composition of this very nature that is at stake.

It does not take much time to realize how divided the different people of the Earth are as to what is the exact nature of their planet. It is clear, for instance, that Donald Trump and Greta Thunberg don’t live on the same planet! In the world imagined by Donald Trump, CO2 emissions are not an existing threat to the environment, greenhouse emissions are a mere belief, and business as usual must go on with American interests at its center. Obviously, those who support such a view don’t live on the same land as those who are suffering from a deep ecological crisis.”


Very cool Don! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Had to chuckle at this part:

The moderator realized that this question was way beyond the scope of what had been covered so he quickly pivoted to have the two speak on environmental issues.

I thought your question was amazing! It’s a shame that the moderator felt the need to ‘dumb it down’ like that.

At least one billionaire capitalist could have responded to you:

Marc Benioff says capitalism, as we know it, is dead

“That new kind of capitalism that is going to emerge is not the Milton Friedman capitalism, that’s just about making money,” the billionaire co-CEO of Salesforce and owner of Time Magazine, said at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco Thursday evening.

“If your orientation is just about making money, I don’t think you’re going to hang out very long as a CEO or a founder of a company. You have to be more than that in today’s world,” Benioff added.

Benioff also donated $30 million to UC San Francisco earlier this year so the school could set up a new program dedicated to researching the root causes of homelessness — a problem that has hit the Bay Area particularly hard.

He is a staunch champion for environmental causes as well. Benioff co-wrote two op-eds for the CNN Business Perspectives section this year about the need to do more to prevent climate change and help save marine wildlife.


Impossible to know what is in Benioff’s heart, to know if he is just adept at reading the signs in order to advance his own continued profit or not, but the CNN link includes an interview with him if you’re interested.

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