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Hometown: Green Mountains
Home country: US
Member since: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:27 PM
Number of posts: 9,740

Journal Archives

No One Wants to Work [For You] Anymore: The End of Oligopsony


This post highlights a very important discussion that may change the way that workers are treated in this capitalist economy. At least I hope it does.

There are few ways faster to piss me off than to say, “Slackers don’t want to work” in response to the lack of candidates for low-wage jobs.

Inside a one-mile stretch of the main thoroughfare where I live in Midwestern Suburbia, I can find 8-12 signs advertising job openings right now. I’ve lived here since the late 1970s and I’ve never seen this many postings for jobs.

Every single one of these jobs pays between $3.67 (Michigan’s minimum tipped hourly wage) and $15.00 an hour. None of them are full time, most have variable schedules, and only one place assures workers one weekend day off every week. None of them offer health care or childcare assistance of any kind. None of them offer enough hours regularly with enough compensation to pay for a one-bedroom apartment within walking distance, and likely not within a 10-mile radius.

Until the pandemic, these employers were able to tell workers what they’d pay, take it or leave it. They could act in concert without having to coordinate to set market pricing because it was simply understood by workers that hourly workers’ pay fell in this range and it was an employers’ market.

Employers have acted like a cartel, with collusion on price fixing for labor enabled by other monopolistic entities like Facebook and Google.

Excellent post and comments from Heather Cox Richardson today


But the real blockbuster political story of the day came in the form of a video obtained by Mother Jones and written about in a detailed article there by Ari Berman and Nick Surgey. The leaked video shows Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America—the political arm of the right-wing Heritage Foundation think tank—explaining to big-money donors that Heritage Action has worked closely with Republican state legislators to enact voter suppression laws. “In some cases, we actually draft them for them,” she said, “or we have a sentinel on our behalf give them the model legislation so it has that grassroots, from-the-bottom-up type of vibe.”

The story is not entirely new. Heritage (as it is known) published a report last February outlining “best practices” for voting, many of which are in the new bills coming out of Republican-dominated state legislatures. And in a March article for the New York Times, Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein outlined the role of Heritage Action in Georgia’s and Arizona’s voting restrictions, noting that at least 23 of the proposed state bills that dealt with voting had language that looked like that of Heritage. They also wrote that Heritage plans to spend $24 million to change voting laws in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin before the 2022 election, and that the person behind the Heritage voting policies is Hans von Spakovsky, who mainstreamed the idea of voter fraud in the Republican Party, although experts agree it is vanishingly rare.

What is new and dramatic about the video is seeing Anderson make her pitch to donors for a coordinated right-wing effort to take the vote away from their opponents. She talks of working with similar groups: “We literally give marching orders for the week ahead,” Anderson said. “All so we’re singing from the same song sheet of the goals for that week and where the state bills are across the country.”

Heritage Action is fighting hard against the Democrats’ For the People Act, which would protect the right to vote, end partisan gerrymandering, and limit money in politics. Heritage summarized the bill, which it called the “Corrupt Politicians Act,” in a short sheet for lawmakers. Anderson explained: “We’ve made sure that every single member of Congress knows just how bad the bill is…. Then we’ve made sure there’s an echo chamber of support around these senators driven by your Heritage Action activists and sentinels across the country where we’ve driven hundreds of thousands of calls, emails, place[d] letters to the editor, hosted events, and run television and digital ads.”

And this exceptional comment(s):

Ellie Kona4 hr ago

In Heather’s video chat today (5/13/2021), she talked about Stephen Douglas. Stephen Douglas, of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, drafted the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 to allow the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide whether or not to allow slavery, rather than to be decided by Congress, and the Northerners in opposition to slavery and oligarchy formed the Republican Party. The Democratic Party split between north and south. As the Southern Democrats escalated to the point of seceding from the Union, Douglas took a stand that secession was in opposition to democracy and sided with Lincoln and the Union for a mainstream position. With the split in the Democrats, the Republicans prevailed. As it echoes to today, the party split looks like a good thing.

Heather’s point was that the spin-off element can become very dangerous.

As Heather describes the campaign of the Heritage Action for America, we see ever more clearly how the danger comes in the form of not “just” the Jan. 6 insurrection, but the sophisticated monied manipulation of state legislators, and even of public opinion, as through letters to the editor, to create the appearance of legitimacy and “the will of the people.”

How is Heritage connected to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)? Both are funded by the Koch Foundation. Note that ALEC wrote the 360 voter suppression bills pending/passed across the country.

What is the counterpart progressive PAC that is spoon-feeding legislation to elected officials and their staff?

Fellow HCR Reader Jeff Carpenter looked for a progressive PAC. The best he could find is the State Innovation Exchange (SiX):

New Republic article of 1/03/2020, “Have Democrats Found Their ALEC?”


The State Innovation Exchange (SiX) provides an online database of liberal and progressive model state-level legislation that has been passed in a state for politicians and activists to replicate and enact in state legislatures.


Jeff learned that progressive state groups are more like libraries than lobbies, and big donors prefer national legislation over state legislation. Jeff contacted a SiX spokesperson who said:

“We do not operate like ALEC (For example, we’re not a “bill mill” that churns out copycat legislation. We know that policy alone won’t fix our democracy and economy, so we take a policy plus approach--we share policy research from issue experts, as well as communications, strategy, connections with movement partners, and other types of support that legislators need.) We do provide tailored support for state legislators, and democracy is one of our primary issue areas.”

However daunting, our despair can only be a feeling that we redirect into action. Barriers to voting, voter suppression bills, are already being passed as a set up for the minority to overpower the majority in the 2022 elections and beyond. The time is now to make our voices heard as individuals by writing/texting/calling elected officials, corporations, local newspapers, and social media.

How to get started, if you haven’t already? Here are 5 of more than 40 grassroots organizations:

Vote Forward: https://votefwd.org/

Fair Fight: Home | Fair Fight

League of Women Voters (members do include men!): https://www.lwv.org/

Common Cause: commoncause.org

5 Calls: https://5calls.org/

What’s your favorite organization in support of democracy?

Gigi3 hr ago

My favorite organization in support of democracy is Joe Biden’s administration.


Question—why am I still surprised that Heritage was doing everything that Democrats were accused of? Bussing people in to act like locals was something we often heard idjt45 raging about during the New Hampshire primary. There is no bottom to their madness and it explains why many politicians never even knew what they were proposing. Hello Marjorie and her America First caucus looking like a fool talking about an outside organization and no one blasted her on it.

Great list and background info Ellie. Thank you.

Guardian: US democracy on the brink: Republicans wage 'coordinated onslaught' on voting rights

This is such an important article. Please read/comment/recommend to others.


Seizing on Donald Trump’s lies about fraud in the 2020 election, Republicans have launched a brazen attack on voting, part of an effort to entrench control over a rapidly changing electorate by changing the rules of democracy. As of mid-February, 253 bills were pending to restrict voting in 43 states. Many of those restrictions take direct aim at mail-in and early voting, the very policies that led to November’s record turnout.

“The fragility of democracy has been exposed at levels that I think even white America was blind to,” said Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter.

Republicans have openly talked about their intentions. “Everybody shouldn’t be voting,” John Kavanagh, a Republican in the Arizona state legislature, told CNN earlier this month. “Quantity is important, but we have to look at the quality of votes, as well.”

Politicians May Be Guilty of 'Social Murder' in COVID Response - BMJ via Medscape


Intentional negligence. Willful murder.

Should anybody be blamed and punished for 2.2 million COVID-related deaths in the world?

An editorial in an influential British medical journal says politicians who didn't respond aggressively enough to control the coronavirus pandemic should be held responsible for those deaths, which the editorial says could be classified as "social murder."

"Politicians must be held to account by legal and electoral means, indeed by any national and international constitutional means necessary," wrote Kamran Abbasi, MD, the executive editor of BMJ.

Abbasi writes that the phrase "social murder" was coined by philosopher Friedrich Engels to describe the conditions created by privileged classes in 19th century England that "inevitably led to premature and ‘unnatural' death among the poorest classes."

Today, the phrase may describe "the lack of political attention to social determinants and inequities that exacerbate the pandemic," he writes.

"When politicians and experts say that they are willing to allow tens of thousands of premature deaths for the sake of population immunity or in the hope of propping up the economy, is that not premeditated and reckless indifference to human life?"

Among the politicians mentioned in the editorial are former U.S. President Donald Trump, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — all leaders of nations with high numbers of deaths.

History of Repuglican dirty deeds to cheat the elections - HCR


Her Letters from an American should be required reading for anybody that cares about where we've been and cares about the lessons to be learned.

This is a big deal. This was not a close election. Biden currently has over 7 million more votes than Trump, and has won by 306 to 232 in the Electoral College. And yet, Republican leadership is permitting Trump to undermine our democracy. Try to imagine any past Republican president doing what Trump is doing, and you can’t. But today’s Republican lawmakers are standing to the side, permitting Trump to poison our democracy.

To what end? Why are Republicans accepting this anti-American behavior from Trump?

It seems to me they are unwilling to risk losing Trump’s voters in the future because they are determined to regain power. They don’t much care about our democracy, so long as they have a shot at keeping Trump’s people on their side. But then, again, to what end? If Republicans regain power in 2022 or 2024, what will that look like? Do we have any reason to think they will then begin to defend our democracy? Do we have any reason to think they are interested in anything but even more legislation that moves wealth upward?

We have been in a spot much like this before. In 1884, Americans turned against the Republican Party because it had abandoned its support for ordinary Americans in favor of the industrial leaders who put money into Republican lawmakers’ political war chests, as well as into their pockets. Voters put Democrat Grover Cleveland into the White House, the first Democrat to hold the presidency since James Buchanan was elected in 1856.

Horrified, the Republicans flooded the country with stories of how Democrats were socialists who would attack the rich by ending the legislation that protected businesses. If Democrats continued to control the government, Republicans said, they would destroy America. In 1888, they suppressed Democratic votes and created modern political financing as they hit up businessmen for major donations. Despite their best efforts, voters reelected Cleveland by about 100,000 votes, but Republicans managed to eke out a win for their candidate, Benjamin Harrison, in the Electoral College. Harrison promised a “BUSINESSMAN’S ADMINISTRATION,” and indeed, in office, he and his men did all they could to cement the Republican Party into power so it could continue to defend business (among other things, they added six new states to the Union to pack the Electoral College).

But voters still didn’t like the Republicans’ platform, which seemed more and more to funnel money from hardworking Americans upward into the pockets of those men who were increasingly portrayed as robber barons. In 1892, they voted for Cleveland in such numbers they couldn’t be overridden in the Electoral College. Voters also put Democrats in charge of Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Bellingcat: What Restaurants and Maps Can Tell us About Billions of Dollars of Covid-19 Relief Funds


I like it when this investigative journalism site shines its light on the US. France and the United Kingdom are also examined. They have the talent to snoop out a lot of information that some other news organizations don't follow.

In the wake of the first wave of coronavirus and subsequent lockdowns in early 2020, governments around the world scrambled funds to support furloughed workers and keep businesses afloat. These programs distributed a huge amount of money and succeeded in many of their goals. Not only that, they did so in rapid time. However, as governments have begun to release detailed information about relief aid, indications of geographic inequities in some programs appear to have emerged. In others, data appears to point toward interesting demographic and economic trends. To better understand these patterns, the Bellingcat Tech Team has created interactive maps of coronavirus aid programs in three countries: the United States, France and the United Kingdom, using sector-specific data to facilitate geographic comparisons where possible.

In the United States, data suggests the chaotic rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) could have exacerbated existing inequality. For example, restaurants in neighborhoods in some cities, including New York and Los Angeles, appear to have had access to 20 times more funds than comparable neighbors. Restaurants were used in our analysis to make disparate regions of the US more comparable, because these businesses are common throughout the country. However, analysis suggests PPP inequalities extend beyond this sector. The vast differences in restaurants’ PPP uptake also appear to fall along existing racial and wealth divides in many neighborhoods, and are starkest in the most segregated cities.

A lot of excellent statistical analysis...

None of these correlations between aid access and demography have been intentionally designed into the Paycheck Protection Program, to our knowledge. Instead, it is likely that this is a consequence of existing inequities across the United States. Majority-minority neighborhoods have less access to banking services necessary in order to apply for aid, and immigrant communities where English is less frequently spoken may have had more difficulties accessing information and materials about the program.

Regardless of the intent or cause of the disparity, the consequences are clear: restaurants in whiter and wealthier neighborhoods across the United States have greater access to economic resources through the Paycheck Protection Program for recovering quickly from the coronavirus recession. While this analysis can only draw conclusions for restaurants, similar PPP trends for other broadly-distributed businesses such as hair salons and retail stores suggest that this inequity might extend throughout the larger economy. However, the United States also introduced other coronavirus aid programs, including Extended Unemployment Benefits (EB) and “Main Street Loans,” and this analysis does not necessarily generalize to these programs as well. Explore the patterns in their full detail in the interactive map below, hosted with the support of the Mapbox Community team.

Durham Has Unaltered Copies of the Documents that Got Altered in the Flynn Docket : emptywheel


I think the p-poor legal abilities left in the upper part of the Barr DoJ are going to rue the day that they signed on the trump gravy-train.

I'll quote a couple of paragraphs from Marcy's excellent analysis. This will be developing.
Bill Barr could come to regret his neat effort to place a ticking time bomb inside the Joe Biden DOJ, because John Durham has evidence in hand that Bill Barr’s DOJ tampered with documents.

I’ve been thinking … There’s something that doesn’t make sense about Bill Barr’s roll-out of the order making John Durham a Special Counsel. For the better part of a year, Barr has been saying that Durham could roll out actual indictments before the election, since none of the people he would indict were candidates. Yet Barr claimed, in his order, that he decided (not Durham) that, “legitimate investigative and privacy concerns warrant confidentiality” until after the election. And then he waited almost an entire month before he revealed the order. He did so in spite of adopting 28 CFR 600.9, which otherwise requires notice to Congress, to govern this appointment.

There is so much information packed into this blog and the commentaries. These will make an excellent historic record of this time of criminality and attempted tyranny.

How to be fearless in the face of authoritarianism - TED - Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya


How do you stand up to authoritarianism? And what does it mean to be "fearless"? In this powerful talk, housewife-turned-politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya describes her unlikely bid to defeat Belarus's long-time autocratic leader in the nation's 2020 presidential election. Painting a vivid picture of how small acts of defiance flourished into massive, peaceful demonstrations, she shares a beautiful meditation on the link between fearlessness and freedom, reminding us that we all have what it takes to stand up to injustice -- we just need to do it together.

Great talk by a great woman.

The Gift Horse (Mr. Fish)


Analysis of Trump's tweets reveals systematic diversion of the media


President Donald Trump's controversial use of social media is widely known and theories abound about its ulterior motives. New research published today in Nature Communications claims to provide the first evidence-based analysis demonstrating the US President's Twitter account has been routinely deployed to divert attention away from a topic potentially harmful to his reputation, in turn suppressing negative related media coverage.

The study focused on Trump's first two years in office, scrutinising the Robert Mueller investigation into potential collusion with Russia in the 2016 Presidential Election, as this was politically harmful to the President. The team analysed content relating to Russia and the Mueller investigation in two of the country's most politically neutral media outlets, New York Times (NYT) and ABC World News Tonight (ABC). The team also selected a set of keywords judged to play to Trump's preferred topics at the time, which were hypothesized to be likely to appear in diversionary tweets. The keywords related to "jobs", "China", and "immigration"; topics representing the president's supposed political strengths.

The researchers hypothesized that the more ABC and NYT reported on the Mueller investigation, the more Trump's tweets would mention jobs, China, and immigration, which in turn would result in less coverage of the Mueller investigation by ABC and NYT.

And we all know that he isn't smart enough to do this on his own. Now let's see, where do those wires lead?
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