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Posted by: Doug Henwood | August 17, 2017

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

August 17, 2017 Kristen Ghodsee, author of this article, on sex and gender in the former socialist world (the documentary about East Germany is here, and the Dissent article, hereRoger Lancaster on prison reform and the problems with the abolition movement

August 10, 2017 [return after KPFA fundraising break] Chris Brooks looks at the reasons for the UAW’s defeat in Mississippi • Cedric Johnson, author of this article, evaluates the lessons of the Black Panthers for politics today

If you like Behind the News and want to keep it coming, please support KPFA, its home station. If you do, please mention BtN!

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Posted by: Doug Henwood | July 13, 2017

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July 13, 2017 Alex Kotch (articles here and here) on the Koch campus network • Alfredo Saad Filho on the economic and political crisis in Brazil (Temer’s indictment, Lula’s sentencing)

Posted by: Doug Henwood | July 7, 2017

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Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

July 6, 2017 James Forman, Jr., author of Locking Up Our Own, on race and mass incarceration • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, in a reprise of her June 2016 interview, on a political response to mass incarceration and racist cop violence

Posted by: Doug Henwood | July 7, 2017

Defend Nancy MacLean!

My radio guest the other week, Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chainsis under attack by libertarians for her criticism of the doctrine, one of its leading propagandists James Buchanan, and its funders, the Koch Bros. It’s an excellent book and she needs help. Here’s a note she posted to Facebook with more:

Friends, I really, really NEED YOUR HELP. If you trust me based on all that you know about me, please read this, help me as indicated, and share this post with anyone interested the Koch operations and the mayhem they have caused.

This will sound nutty, I know, but it’s actually happening: the Koch operatives and the riders of their academic “gravy train,” as James Buchanan called it, are working very hard to kill DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS –and to destroy my reputation (as they have done to climate change scientists and others bearing inconvenient truth).

It appears they are using Washington Post blogposts as a seemingly respectable pivot for a coordinated and interlinked set of calculated hit jobs. By using the WAPO blogposts, they make it appear to the ordinary web surfer that the WAPO itself is trashing my book when it’s really the Koch team of professors who don’t disclose their conflicts of interest and the operatives who work fulltime for their project to shackle our democracy. The other side was getting top placement because their team was clicking and re-clicking and sending embedded links, and the velocity of their activity drove up their links.

Here’s how you can help if you want to stop the suppression of my research and the reputation assassination underway:

• Google me and the book and click on the REAL listings (e.g. my department page and the actual Viking book page or reviews by honest reviewers) to drive them above the paid “top stories” position.

• Go to DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS on Amazon, and click as “helpful” honest reviews by real reviewers and scholars who have read the book. The operatives are juking the Amazon stats so that their hit jobs (by people who in nearly every case never read the book) come up first by the number of “helpful” votes they got, no doubt from their fellow apparatchiks.

Oh, and one of them—under the name NPalgan2–also set up a wiki site on me (s/he also added criticism of another academic, who wrote on mass incarceration). We are trying to fix it now. And UnKoch My Campus is posted the undisclosed conflicts of interest.

People: this is real. Please help, if you’re willing, and then share this post with any journalists you know and anyone concerned about the Koch’s power to undermine our institutions.

I won’t be the last they set out to get; anyone who challenges them is subject to that have called “upping the transaction costs for the other side.”

Help me stand up to them, for all of our sakes?

Posted by: Doug Henwood | June 29, 2017

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June 29, 2017 Robert Pollin works out the economics of single-payer in California (paper here) • Michael McCarthy, author of Dismantling Solidarity, on the history of pension funds in the U.S.

Posted by: Doug Henwood | June 23, 2017

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June 22, 2017 Kate Gordon of the Paulson Institute on climate, the Paris Accords, and China • Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains, on right-wing scheming, particularly James Bucahan and Charles Koch

Posted by: Doug Henwood | June 15, 2017

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June 15, 2017 Tim Shorrock (his Nation articles are listed here) on the two Koreas, North and South • Margaret Corvid on the aftermath of the surprise British election results

Posted by: Doug Henwood | June 9, 2017

Hahaha

Great moments in political analysis:

Bill Clinton, November 2016:

Bill Clinton branded Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn the “maddest person in the room” in a speech he gave explaining the resurgence of left-wing politics in Europe and America.

Documents released by Wikileaks show the former President joked that when Mr Corbyn won his leadership contest, it appeared Labour had just “got a guy off the street” to run the party.

Barack Obama, December 2016:

President Barack Obama has suggested that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is “disintegrating” because it has lost touch with “fact and reality”.

Mr Obama said that the Democrats are not at risk of “Corbynisation” and that even the party’s more left-wing figures like Bernie Sanders are more moderate than Jeremy Corbyn.

In an interview with David Axelrod, who advised the former Labour leader Ed Miliband, Mr Obama was asked if he feared that the democrats could fall apart like Labour.

He replied:  “I don’t worry about that, partly because I think the Democratic Party has stayed pretty grounded in fact and reality.”

Washington Post, April 2017:

After hard-left turn under Jeremy Corbyn, Britain’s Labour Party on course for historic defeat

[W]ith less than six weeks to go before Britain votes once more, the Corbyn-led Labour Party is on course for an electoral beatdown so broad and deep it would make the drubbing the party took in 2015 look like a triumph.

Posted by: Doug Henwood | June 8, 2017

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June 8, 2017 Yasha Levine, author of the forthcoming Surveillance Valley, on Russia, the NSA, and the Intercept election hacking leak • Angela Nagle, author of Kill All Normies, on the alt-right

Posted by: Doug Henwood | June 5, 2017

Jobs nonsense from ZeroHedge

ZeroHedge is ridiculous and terrible, a fever swamp of conspiracism, far-right paranoia, and permabearishness. Spreading disinformation about the employment statistics might not be their worst sin, but decent naïfs often fall for this sort of thing, so it’s worth a refutation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics applies a statistical model, known as the birth/death model, to its monthly survey of employers—the source of “the U.S. economy created x thousand jobs last month” headline. The survey covers over 600,000 employing establishments, but misses new business formations at first. The b/d model is an attempt to account for those overlooked jobs created by new businesses. (As its name suggests, the model also tries to account for business failures, but in normal times, those are far outweighed by new establishments.)

Ever on the lookout for a gloomy conspiracy, ZH found an advisory firm that says that this b/d model is responsible for almost all the job growth since 2008—93%, to be precise. What ZH doesn’t tell you is that the BLS cross-checks its monthly establishment survey once a quarter with the near-complete coverage of the U.S. formal employment universe provided by the unemployment insurance system, and releases a set of revisions to the employment data every year benchmarked to that UI count. With those benchmark revisions, the BLS retunes the b/d model based on the previous year’s results. Since 2000, the benchmark revisions have averaged 0.1% of total employment; since 2009, 0.0%. Disregarding signs and just averaging the absolute values of the revisions yields 0.2% since 2000, and 0.1% since 2009. (The fact that the averages of the absolute values are slightly larger than the averages of the signed revisions suggests that the monthly measures are not biased in one direction or other.)

What this shows is not that the BLS numbers are fake but, quite to the contrary, that its models are actually very good. And it shows that ZH and its source have no idea what they’re talking about.

Tyler Durden must have gotten punched in the head too many times.

Posted by: Doug Henwood | May 25, 2017

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May 25, 2017 James Whitman, author of Hitler’s American Model, on the U.S. origins of Nazi race law • Alex Gourevitch, contributor to this Boston Review roundtable, on strikes and their challenge to bourgeois law

Posted by: Doug Henwood | May 20, 2017

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May 18, 2017 Anne Elizabeth Moore, author of Body Horror, on homeownership, chronic illness, getting revenge on rapists, and the working conditions of models • Greg Kaplan, co-author of this paper, on the (stagnating) course of lifetime incomes

Posted by: Doug Henwood | May 17, 2017

The post-Trump era?

How much longer can this go on? As I write this, PredictIt gives 71/29 odds that Trump will last the year, but it’s mighty tempting to buy the “no”—especially after the revelation that he asked Comey to shut down the Flynn investigation. (Disclosure alert: I bought 100 shares of “no” at $0.28.)

What is the endgame of the people, mostly Democrats, pounding the drums most heavily? Do they want to impeach Trump, which seems a long shot given Republican control of Congress? Do they want to bruise his weak ego so badly that he resigns? Clearly the job is much harder than he ever imagined—and, by the way, what reasonably sentient person over the age of 8 ever thought the presidency wasn’t grindingly hard? But he also wants adulation, not the relentless volleys of shit he’s gotten. It’s not impossible to imagine him just walking offstage, especially if his legal situation gets seriously dicey.

What then? President Pence? If Pence were president, the entire Republican dream agenda would sail through Congress in like three weeks. Pence spent a dozen years in Congress (Tea Party branch) and four years as governor of Indiana; he’s an appalling figure but he knows how things work. He might not be able to overcome his party’s internal divisions, but he probably could do a better job than Trump, and every day would not be a circus as it is now.

DonnyMike

Pence is a horror—fiscal sadist, misogynist, homophobe, lover of the carceral state. He’s repeatedly described himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order,” though given today’s modern GOP, it’s not clear there’s much of a difference among these features. (He should have said he’s a reactionary Christian; there are plenty of other kinds.) He’s a creationist who rejects climate change, thinks stem cell research is “obsolete,” and once actually said that “smoking doesn’t kill.” His anti-abortion law was the most extreme in the country. His cuts to Planned Parenthood led to a rural HIV epidemic. Like Sessions, Pence is a maximalist on drugs, including weed. He’s hot to privatize Social Security. He likened the Supreme Court’s upholding of Obamacare to 9/11.

Should Trump get pushed out, the orchestrated campaign of healing would be painful. It’s not far-fetched to imagine leading Democrats channelling Gerald Ford’s “our long national nightmare is over.” There would be something of what Wall Street calls a “relief rally” on the transition, and it would perversely grease the way for Pence to make the U.S. more like the Indiana he left behind. We should be fighting to keep him in office, as fatally damaged goods.

Several things seem to be driving this campaign to squeeze Trump out, aside from the obvious fact he’s an unstable ignoramus. Dems still can’t get over the fact that they lost to the most unpopular candidate in the history of polling, but instead of blaming their own terrible candidate (the second-most unpopular candidate in the history of polling) and the slavers’ legacy, the Electoral College, they want to blame Russia. (Time was they blamed Comey too—remember when Paul Krugman said that “Comey and Putin installed a crazy, vindictive can’t-handle-the-truth person in the White House”? But he’s since been rehabilitated.)

But that’s not all: a large part of the political class (Hillary prominent among them, along with John McCain), the security establishment, and their contract-hungry patrons in the military–industrial complex all want desperately to make Russia the enemy, and are reviving zombie tropes from the Cold War to promote their cause. Trump may well have friends in the Russian mob, but his resistance to elite hostility towards the country is one of the few non-awful things about him.

It’s been stunning to watch liberals cheering on the security state’s war-by-leak against Trump. He’s odious, but he is the legally elected president—under an absurd electoral system, but that’s the one we’ve got. (Makes you wonder what they would have done to Sanders, if by some unimaginable fluke he’d won.) And yet we’ve seen months of praise for the CIA and the FBI as the magic bullets who could deliver us from the short-fingered vulgarian.

The defenses of the CIA began with Trump’s disparaging remarks about the Agency before taking office, which were taken as near-blasphemous. For an amateur like Trump, such attacks were extremely risky. In early January, Chuck Schumer presciently warned (on the Maddow Show, of course): “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community—they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you.” You’d almost think that he knew what would come next: an endless series of leaks portraying Trump as Putin’s towel boy and, as an extra-special bonus, a pervert (the piss tape)—all applauded by liberals, with little regard for the CIA’s 70-year history of lying, assassination, and coups.

Then came the Comey firing, and suddenly the FBI was a noble organization as well. It’s far from that, and has always been. As Mark Ames reports in his little history of the Bureau, it has no legal charter; Congress didn’t want to authorize a secret police so Teddy Roosevelt created it by executive fiat. Much of the Bureau’s history was been about persecuting communists—and gay people—and smearing its enemies. It spent the 1960s and early 1970s trying to ruin Martin Luther King, the Black Panthers, and and the New Left. In other words, it’s been political from the very first, and all these current worries about “politicizing” the FBI are Grade A bullshit.

Which brings us back to the endgame issue. Democrats look to be extending the strategy of their failed 2016 campaign by being the not-Trump and nothing more—it’s all they’ve got. They are making no visible effort to come up with an appealing agenda as an alternative to the deeply unpopular one the GOP has on offer. In fact, they’re annoyed at Bernie Sanders for trying to get the party to talk about policy, which is somehow seen as an act of narcissism in the Beltway worldview:

But the senator, who’ll be 79 the next time the New Hampshire primary rolls around, is continuing to put himself at the center of the conversation. He’s introduced a Medicare-for-all bill this week that he hopes will force others to sign on.

Imagine that! Pushing a bill to expand health insurance coverage at a moment when Republicans are trying to take it away. The ego of that man.

The party’s strategy can’t be counted a success on conventional measures; Gallup reports that the Dems have lost 5 approval points since November, leaving the two parties with near-identical approval ratings (D: 40%, R: 39%).

Party popularity

 

During the early days of the Trump administration, it seemed like a serious left opposition might take form. That‘s a hazy memory now that so many liberals and even leftists are taking dictation from the security state and throwing around words like “treason.” We can do better than this, can’t we?

Posted by: Doug Henwood | May 4, 2017

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May 4, 2017 Margaret Corvid on the British election, the Labour Party—and sex work • Emre Öngün on Turkey’s deeper slide into authoritarianism

Posted by: Doug Henwood | April 27, 2017

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April 27, 2017 Sebastian Budgen on the French election: the neoliberal vs. the neofascist • Sofia Japaridze on how foreign NGOs turned Georgia (the country) into a broke libertarian paradise

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