HomeUncategorized5/11 News Roundup and Open Thread
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AT A LUXURY RESORT just outside of the nation’s capital last month, around four dozen senior congressional staffers decamped for a weekend of relaxation and discussion at Salamander Resort & Spa. It was an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to come together and listen to live music from the Trailer Grass Orchestra, sip surprisingly impressive glasses of Virginia wine — and hear from health care lobbyists focused on defeating Medicare for All.

The event was hosted by a group called Center Forward and featured a lecture from industry lobbyists leading the charge on undermining progressive health care proposals. Center Forward was originally known as the Blue Dog Research Forum, a think tank affiliated with the conservative Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats; the coalition has pressed the caucus to oppose social welfare spending, taxes on the wealthy, and regulations on business.

The organization’s website is filled with bromides about giving “centrist allies the information they need to craft common sense solutions” that paper over an agenda designed to enrich powerful corporations.

…they received paid travel to attend the Center Forward retreat, including chiefs of staff to Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. The retreat included chiefs of staff to leading centrist Democrats, including Reps. Kurt Schrader D-Ore.; David Trone, D-Md.; Dan Lipinski, D-Ill.; and Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M. Officials from the Blue Dogs, Problem Solvers Caucus, and the New Democrats were also in attendance.

Unlike the previous branding of Blue Dogs, who were once billed a “big tent” designed to bring conservative ideas into the Democratic Party, the centrist push now explicitly includes Republicans. Senior aides to Reps. Sean Duffy, R-Wisc.; Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; and Will Hurd, R-Tex. attended the retreat as well.

The Ethics Committee rules bar registered lobbyists from arranging luxury travel for Congress. Although Center Forward’s board is made up almost entirely of registered corporate lobbyists, the event forms were signed by the group’s executive director, Cori Kramer, who is not a registered lobbyist — a technicality that helped elide the prohibition on lobbyist-funded travel.


Why am I not surprised with this information considering the way Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team are treating progressives in general and those that might challenge the status quo.😒


Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death

Thanks, at least for the last link. Didn’t know what I was looking at in the first two. I have a degree in cs from the days when we wrote our programs on punch cards. Tech has left me far behind.


OH boy do I remember those days, one wrong punch on a card and it was all over, or even a bent card.


Ever dropped your deck and got it all mixed-up?

Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death



More than once


Little bit of levity…


10 Reasons Why Centrists Won’t Save Democracy

The Financial Times editorial page is ground zero for liberal panic. Last week the normally insightful Martin Wolf penned a piece offering “10 suggestions for how to build an alternative to the siren song of the strongman.” Wolf implores center-right and center-left politicians to recognize “they are in for a huge fight.”

Democracy is in grave danger from would-be despots and scoundrels on the right and the left, Wolf warns. Unfortunately, the names of these left-wing scoundrels and would-be despots are left to our imagination. Perhaps Sanders is the scoundrel and Corbyn the despot? Or the other way around? Regardless, here are ten reasons why centrists won’t save democracy.

Despite railing against the siren songs of populists, Wolf starts his list by imploring centrists to be more charismatic — to “tell a good story.” Fair enough. People do love a good story. But what new stories can the centrists tell? The classics — Everything is Fine, Chill, and Neoliberalism Is Working, Just Not for You are a bit stale. A good story gives people something to believe in, so centrists are going to have to dig deep on this one. Something tells me that Joe Biden Saves The Day and Return of the Third Way won’t cut the mustard.

Wolf says that while the “demagogues of right and left” don’t need to bother with being competent because their power rests on being “oppositional,” centrists “need to know what they are doing” lest they make “big mistakes,” like the 2008 financial meltdown. No need to stop there! The greatest hits of liberal blunders also includes the Middle East catastrophe, crumbling public infrastructure, an out-of-control financial sector, suffocating student debt, an inhumane health care system, mass incarceration, skyrocketing inequality, a corporate-led environmental movement … Mr. Wolf is spot on here. Centrists lack competence and their tenure over the past four decades is marked by colossal errors.

We must value citizenship, Wolf says, because “without the idea that citizens come first, there can be no national community.” The only thing less clear than whatever Wolf means by “national community” is why he thinks liberals need to be reminded not to hand over the key to the city to refugees and the undocumented. Obama deported 2.5 million people during his tenure, more than the total of every twentieth-century president combined.

Wolf also urges centrists to address the issue of income inequality. No disagreement there. The divide between the richest Americans and everyone else has become so wide over the past four decades that a logarithmic scale is needed to even fit the country’s income distribution on one graph. This chasm is the direct result of policies — neoliberal globalization, deregulated financial markets, massive tax giveaways to big business and the rich — championed by liberals. So, we’ll believe centrists’ pronouncements that “inclusion matters” when they support much higher wealth taxes, shutting down tax havens, and socializing finance.

Economic Reform
Wolf acknowledges problems with capitalism, but says socialism is not the answer. Instead, he encourages centrist politicians to focus on “greater competition” and “better markets.” Competition, better markets, lather, rinse, repeat. Blaming wage stagnation and increased precarity on “winner take all” markets isn’t entirely wrong, but it sidesteps the concerted drive (spearheaded by centrists) of business and elites to take back the gains won by ordinary people through decades of struggle. Moreover, increased competition does nothing to change a system in which capitalists decide if, when, where, and how workers are employed.

Due to the length, part 2 is in the reply to this comment.


Part 2

Emphasizing the Local
Wolf encourages centrist politicians to “give communities the means to revitalize themselves.” A great hypothetical no doubt. But more often than not, liberal tools for community revitalization mean charter schools and “opportunity zones,” while demands for rent control and a living wage are roundly opposed by center-right and center-left governments. No matter. As Fight for $15 and the recent wave of teachers’ strikes demonstrate, communities increasingly aren’t waiting to be given anything. They are developing the tools and networks to win without any help from politicians on high.

Public Services
Challenging the libertarian ideal of a minimal state as “unworkable” and “incompatible with democracy,” Wolf says “politicians of the centre have powerful arguments in their favour when they defend the public services on which people depend.” They certainly do, which is why it is puzzling that so few centrists actually defend them. Instead, they’ve overseen decades of austerity, resulting in the neglect and dismantlement of public services.

Globalization and Global Cooperation
Third Way advocates such as Wolf are deeply disturbed by Trump’s attacks on the “stable and predictable rules governing [global] interactions” that have prevailed since the Second World War. Trump is deeply disturbing, but he’s also the result of a profound crisis of legitimacy for the global system that centrists built. The rules of global capitalism need to be rewritten, not rebooted.

Looking Ahead
If centrist politicians are to regain hegemony, Wolf declares, they must look ahead, crafting the terms of debate on climate change, artificial intelligence, and the rise of Asia. If they don’t “the Chinese party-state” will. Fearmongering is a classic move, but the horse is out of the barn for the liberal status quo. Young people everywhere are setting their own terms, crafting a new consensus that puts people over profit.

Humorist H.L. Mencken said: “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” “That is what charismatic demagogues offer,” warns Wolf. Instead, “the right response has to be a politics that bases hope on realism.” Actually, the problems of our society are not that complex. For decades big businesses and elites have enjoyed unchecked power to hoard wealth, power, and opportunity at the expense of ordinary people. The solutions, while not simple, are straightforward. Good jobs, health care for all, free higher education — security, justice. The fact that centrists think achieving these basic rights is a fantasy demonstrates not a firm grasp on reality, but a bankrupt ideology.


Context is Jonah Hill, a never Trumper but conservative opinion columnist. This is a LTE to the editor in response to a column Hill wrote about supporting Biden for POTUS.

LAT LTE about Biden 5-10-2019.JPG

A thread. I don’t know enough about China. Matt gets me thinking.


Yasha Levine enters the conversation.



Shockingly. This is only the tip of the iceberg!

The information is only from a pentagon study. The overall picture is likely much worse.


New database: Water sources in 43 states contain potentially unsafe chemical levels.

More than 610 drinking water sources in 43 states contain potentially unsafe levels of chemical compounds that have been linked to birth defects, cancers, infertility, and reduced immune responses in children, according to a new database compiled by the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University.
Using Pentagon data released last year and recently obtained public water utility reports, the researchers now estimate that more than 19 million people are exposed to water contaminated with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS.
The new research shows the broad extent of the problem, that the harmful chemical compounds found concentrated in military water sources across the United States have also been reported hundreds more public drinking water systems than was previously known.

“This is a national crisis and it requires a national response,” said Bill Walker, vice president of the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organization focused on health and the environment.

While PFAS are found in everyday items such as teflon and fast-food wrappers, the chemicals are concentrated in the fire-fighting foam that military bases, ships and commercial airports have used for decades.

Military bases and the communities surrounding them report some of the highest levels of contamination — much higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2016 recommendation of a maximum exposure level of 70 parts per trillion.



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