Monday , September 16 2019
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Articles by Yves Smith

Links 9/14/19

2 days ago

On a wing and a player: hopes webcam can save endangered albatross Guardian (MGL). From the beginning of the year but still a heartening story.
Yak loose in Virginia after escaping transport to the butchers BBC
Person Honors The Dog Heroes Of 9/11 That Are Often Overlooked In A Beautifully Sad Twitter Thread Bored Panda
Study Finds the Universe Might Be 2 Billion Years Younger Associated Press
Climate change: Electrical industry’s ‘dirty secret’ boosts warming BBC
Taxing Short, Cheap Flights Makes a Lot of Sense Bloomberg
Climate Change Will Create 1.5 Billion Migrants by 2050 and We Have No Idea Where They’ll Go Motherboard
The Truth About Faster Internet: It’s Not Worth It Wall Street Journal. So if you had any doubts, this should settle them. 5G is for planned obsolescence and better

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Dude! Where’s My Democracy?

2 days ago

By Kevin Albertson, Professor of Economics at Manchester Metropolitan University with a background in statistics and political economics. He is co-author of five books, including the Haynes Guide ‘How to Run the Country’. Originally published at openDemocracy
Democracy is unwell, so it is said. In America and other leading democracies citizens are apparently increasingly critical of the concept of liberal democracy. We argue this is a misdiagnosis; citizens are not critical of liberal democracy – it is the lack of democracy which is the problem.
Citizens are attracted to strong leaders (so-called “populists”) which are prepared to challenge the prevailing system, not because they distrust democracy, but because they perceive the prevailing system is fundamentally undemocratic.
The solution

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Majority in US Back Free College Tuition and Student Debt Cancellation, New Poll Finds

2 days ago

Yves here. As we’ve said for many years, positions widely depicted by the press as left-wing, such as strengthening Social Security and Medicare, cutting military spending, making taxes more progressive, have consistently polled with solid majorities or at worst, pluralities. And the poll that found broad support for cancelling student debt and free college tuition was a solid sample size. But I’m not holding my breath about the MSM giving these results the play they deserve.
By Judy Conley, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

A majority of voters support the bold proposals for free college tuition and the wiping out of student debt put forward by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Democratic primary, according to a new Hill-HarrisX

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48 States to Investigate Google: Anti-Trust or Politicking?

3 days ago

Yves here. Sadly, you can never be too cynical. Bill Black explains on The Real News why the 48 state investigation of Google may not be all it is cracked up to be.

GREG WILPERT: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Greg Wilpert in Baltimore.
Fifty Attorney Generals from 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico announced on Monday that they are launching an anti-trust investigation into Google. This investigation would be in addition the one that the Justice Department’s already conducting. Here’s what Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who’s leading the case, had to say when he made the announcement on Monday.
KEN PAXTON: This is a company that dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet and searching on the internet as they dominate the buyer side, the seller side,

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Links 9/13/19

3 days ago

Cubed wombat poop, why your left nut runs hot, among Ig Nobel winners ars technica
Scientists are racing to reengineer the banana before it’s gone forever Fast Company (Chuck L)
‘Game of Thrones’ prequel series about the Targaryen family in development at HBO, reports say CNBC. I wish Martin would have finished the books, particularly with a more fitting ending, but he’s not about to undermine the franchise.
Concerns grow over tainted sewage sludge spread on croplands PhysOrg (Robert M)
Obesity is the leading cause of death in America. When will we talk about it? Big Think. Advocates fat shaming. Go to hell. We are supposed to be sensitive to minor slurs to women and harass fat people? Did it not occur to anyone that fat people are ALREADY ashamed of being fat and get lots of negative

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The US Massively Underestimates the Trade War Blowback

3 days ago

Yves here. Even though most readers know the general point very well, that US trade and financial sanctions haven’t brought targets to their knees, and had instead pushed them to find allies, but it’s useful to have detail to flesh out the story. There are some bits one can quibble with, like the “annexation of Crimea” bit, and the US objectives for its sanctions against Russia. At least under the Obama Administration, the belief was that they would damage the economy severely and force a regime change.
By Robert Berke, an energy financial analyst with experience as a government consultant to the State of Alaska. Originally published at OilPrice
Trade wars and sanctions are economic weapons against rival regimes, and like actual military warfare, often lead to unanticipated and sometimes

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Modi’s Kashmir Power Grab Was Decades in the Making

3 days ago

Yves here. We’ve been unable to provide as much insight into Kashmir since India has succeeded in cutting off the area’s access to the Internet. But this article provides important background.
By Zainab Ramahi is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law. Originally published at openDemocracy

Since 5 August, the people of Kashmir have been living under lockdown after the Indian government voted to revoke the state’s semi-sovereign status. The unilateral termination of Kashmir’s autonomy, has been a long-held goal of Prime Minister Narendi Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But while the scale of the crackdown – which has seen tens of thousands of troops deployed – is unprecedented, a historical account reveals that Kashmir’s sovereignty has been steadily

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Kalecki, Minsky, and “Old Keynesianism” Vs. “New Keynesianism” on the Effect of Monetary Policy

4 days ago

By Tracy Mott, Professor, University of Denver. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website
In a postco-authored with Anna Stansbury, Larry Summers repudiates economic orthodoxy in regard to whether interest rate cuts suffice to restore full employment and looks at a more “original” Keynesianism to find adequate responses to secular stagnation. Tracy Mott walks us through answers many careful readers of Kalecki, Keynes, Steindl, and Minsky knew all along.
A version of what Lawrence Summers and Anna Stansbury (2019) recently pointed to as “original” Keynesianism can be found in the work of Michał Kalecki and Hyman Minsky, Their work offers analysis of the determination of investment spending and effective demand which avoids the deficiencies found in the New

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Michael Hudson: Why We Need to Abolish the Democratic National Committee, Even if That Means Breaking Up the Democratic Party

4 days ago

Yves here. Lambert has been pondering for some time the question of what kind of organization is the Democratic Party? Hudson stresses the role of the Democratic National Committee as the vehicle for assuring top 10%/big money control. Worse, the DNC seems to operate like a zombie fungus, raising the question of what would be left if its power were severely curtailed.
By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is “and forgive them their debts”: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year
Thursday’s debate on Walt Disney’s ABC channel is shaping up as yet another shameless charade. The pretense is that we are to

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Richard Murphy: Brexit Yellowhammer Is Wrong, but That Doesn’t Mean We Should Ignore It

4 days ago

Yves here. Even I am suffering a bit of Brexit fatigue. So many momentous things are happing that it’s easy to become desensitized. But some things, like the Yellowhammer “Reasonable Worst Case” document, turn out to be damp squibs. If you’ve been following Brexit, this document’s take isn’t that surprising, although it does have a couple of remarkable dot points on the first page that discuss bilateral deals with individual EU member states as if that were a realistic option. But as Lambert said, it’s unlikely to persuade true Brexit believers.
Oddly, the press seems to be giving much more prominent play to Yellowhammer than to the proroguation or to the Scottish ruling against it. Per the Telegraph:
The MPs who asked a Scottish court to overturn the prorogation of Parliament took on

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Axios: What’s the Actual Cost of Not Addressing Climate Change?

4 days ago

Yves here. To put the cost of Sanders’ Green New Deal plan in context, it’s roughly what we spend on the US military when you throw in all the black budgets. Yet we somehow can’t afford to save the climate, particularly, as the article points out, the “cost” pays for itself?
But sadly, as some readers pointed out at the Bailey Island meetup, the climate scientists they know all say it’s too late. All we can do now is arrest further damage and work on mitigation of the impact.
By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTryanny!

The amount of carbon tax — a neoliberal solution — required to achieve just a modest reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (source). Bernie Sanders wants to reach 100 percent renewableenergy for electricity and transportation by no later than

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The Two Sides of Government Guarantees for Banks

5 days ago

By Taneli Mäkinen, Advisor, DG for Economics, Statistics and Research, Bank of Italy, Lucio Sarno, Professor of Finance, Cass Business School, City, University of London, and Gabriele Zinna, Advisor, DG for Economics, Statistics and Research, Bank of Italy. Originally published at VoxEU
During the recent financial crises, government helped reduce the funding costs of banks by providing them with insurance, thus curbing panic in banking systems and financial markets. This column argues, however, that these beneficial effects can be attenuated when guarantees are risky in the sense that they offer weaker protection in recessions, when the guarantor is more vulnerable, or the guarantees are less certain. Using a large international panel of banks, a significant risk premium is found to be

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Links 9/11/19

5 days ago

Smithsonian Researchers Triple the Number of Electric Eel Species, Including One With Record-Setting Shock Ability Smithsonian
This heated fake keyboard was designed to fool your cat Boing Boing (resilc). Amen, I trained my cats not to step on keyboards, and they were all very good about it.
What if We Stopped Pretending the Climate Apocalypse Can Be Stopped? New Yorker (David L)
A globalised solar-powered future is wholly unrealistic – and our economy is the reason why The Conversation (furzy)
Japan may have to dump radioactive Fukushima water into the Pacific CNN (Chuck L)
Libraries and Archivists Are Scanning and Uploading Books That Are Secretly in the Public Domain VICE
Three Ways to Fix the Drug Industry’s Rampant Dysfunction Wired (Robert M)
China?

Heathcare professionals bought

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Under Bloomberg Pressure, CalPERS Coughs Up BCG Report on Private Equity, Confirming Criminal Abuse of Open Meeting Law; Board President Henry Jones Casually Leaks Confidential Information

5 days ago

Today we have a CalPERS trifecta. This post may seem less sexy than election-rigging, but it provides further evidence of CalPERS’ institutionalized abuses.
Bloomberg did the heavy lifting in providing a concrete example of how CalPERS engages in the criminal abuse of the Bagely-Keene Open Meetings Act by improperly relegating information and decisions that should be shared with the public to its confidential meetings, the so-called closed session. In this case, Bloomberg sought and eventually obtained a partly-redacted BCG report on CalPERS’ private equity strategy.
The fact that CalPERS coughed up most of this document (and we’ll explain why most of the redactions are overreaching) was an admission that a great deal of this deliberation was improperly held in closed session. This

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Andrew Bacevich, Ending War, American-Style

5 days ago

Yves here. Note that for all of Trump’s considerable faults, including hiring John Bolton in the first place and taking too long to get rid of him, Bolton’s opposition to finding a way for the US to extricate itself from the war in Afghanistan was reportedly the last straw.
By Andrew Bacevich, who serves as president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His new book The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory will be published in January. Originally published at TomDispatch
When the conflict that the Vietnamese refer to as the American War ended in April 1975, I was a U.S. Army captain attending a course at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In those days, the student body at any of our Army’s myriad schools typically included officers from the Army of the Republic

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CalPERS Election Corruption: Huge and Illegally Opaque Dark Spending Against Pro-Accountability Candidate JJ Jelincic

6 days ago

It’s astonishing to see the ferocity of the effort to turn the tide against JJ Jelincic, the favorite to win the election for the CalPERS retiree board seat. It isn’t just that CalPERS is too obviously trying to fix the election, or that board members and employees are violating anti-corruption laws by using state resources to attack Jelincic and promote his opponent, the incumbent Henry Jones. It is also that this is the first CalPERS board election to feature dark money, and on top of that, it’s coming in at levels that dwarf the spending by the candidates.
It isn’t just insiders who’ve noticed the tidal wave of dark money. Even the retirees whose votes are being sought don’t like what they see. From reader ALM in comments:
I am a CalPERS retiree. Last week, I received my mail ballot on

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CalPERS, Treasurer Fiona Ma, Board Members David Miller and Theresa Taylor, and CalPERS Employees Engage in Illegal and Dishonest Electioneering Against Candidate JJ Jelincic

6 days ago

On Sunday, we documented one of the illegal and desperate measures CalPERS and its election vendor, K&H Printing, are taking to try to defeat JJ Jelincic, the favorite in current election for the retiree seat, which is the use of see-through ballot envelopes that expose the voters’ choice. Making votes visible through the sealed envelope allows for election tampering by throwing out votes for Jelincic before they are tabulated as received. We described how this scheme constitutes mail fraud, a Federal crime, as well as violating the California constitution.
Today, we turn to the second of the illegal and reckless measures, that of prohibited electioneering by CalPERS as an institution, key board members, and certain employees. Keep in mind that California, like many states, does not allow

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Links 9/10/19

6 days ago

NYC Subway Banned Dogs Unless They Fit In a Bag, Dog Owners Did Not Disappoint EatLiver (furzy)
Isle Royale wolf relocation project resumes; 15 now roaming the island MPR News (Chuck L)
Rare ‘Micromoon’ Is Gracing Us With Its Presence On Friday The 13th HuffPost (furzy)
California Lawmakers Vote to Undo N.C.A.A. Amateurism New York Times. Paul R: “Woo hoo, CA legislature may kill the NCAA. The NCAA itself is a huge exploitive grift/scam. There was a big lawsuit against it a couple years ago saying as much. I don’t know what happened with it. But this is great. Colleges are already running de facto pro sports teams, with everyone making millions except for the players themselves.”
World ‘gravely’ unprepared for effects of climate crisis – report Guardian (David L)
Amazon Employees Are

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States Pass Record Number Of Laws To Reel In Drug Prices

6 days ago

Yves here. These efforts to tackle drug price gouging are long overdue, but a state-by-state effort is still piecemeal. But another dirty secret seems to be how arbitrary the consumer price is. I don’t have a pharmacy plan, but my meds are covered, which means I see what the prices are because I pay them and then submit for reimbursement. I recently had to have my 2 scrips filled at a different pharmacy chain. One is a super cheap generic. The other is more costly. I get 90 day scrips to lower the cost.
My old pharmacy said it was giving me a price break on the more expensive medication since I was a cash customer. I call new pharmacy and ask the pharmacist if I could get a better price as a cash customer. She said she could use a coupon. The result was it dropped the price to nearly 1/3

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Here Are Photos of Some of the Dilapidated Equipment San Francisco Wants to Buy from Bankrupt PG&E for $2.5 Billion

6 days ago

Yves here. These PG&E pix are scary! This is in San Francisco, where access to equipment ought to be easy. But Wolf seems to be skipping over a point. By buying this shoddy equipment, San Francisco is also presumably paying a premium to step in as the electrical provider. What is that worth? It may not justify this much of a premium over the asset value, but  having an existing grid does have value, particularly given cost of trying to build de novo.
By Wolf Richter, publisher of Wolf Street. Originally published at Wolf Street
This – the offer made on Sunday – has been kicked around in San Francisco since the catastrophic wildfire in Butte County in Northern California last year that killed 85 people, the cause of which was determined to have been PG&E’s electrical transmission lines –

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Who’s Responsible for the Ecocide in the Amazon

6 days ago

Yves here. This post makes what may seem to be a basic point about the hidden hand of ideology and corporate backers, but it is interestingly often lost. Plus the “ecocide” frame is important.
By Juan Manuel Crespo, an Ecuadorian sociologist, political scientist and photographer. He is engaged in action-oriented social research at the Institute of Higher National Studies of Ecuador and has worked in the Amazon for many years. Originally published at openDemocracy
There’s a cause for alarm as the world witnesses how the Amazon forests in Brazil, the Bolivian Chiquitanía and the Paraguayan swamps are being ravaged by uncontrolled fires. Approximately one million hectares of high biodiversity forests have been damaged so far by these fires, which are impressive, recurring, and quite obviously

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Brexit: Ultra Fracas

7 days ago

Needless to say, last week was an exceptional one for UK politics. It looked like car crashing into a wall and flying into pieces. And the audience wonders…will the gas tank explode next?
Boris Johnson managed to unify a heretofore hopelessly divided opposition against him, and made his bad situation worse by conducting a jihad against his own party. And day-to-day developments that don’t make the headlines are just as unflattering. For instance, Johnson appears to have no idea what Brexit negotiations would amount to (he seems to be sincere when he talks about getting a deal done at the October EU Council meeting). And unlike Trump, he doesn’t have the excuse of not knowing the job description.
Because I was largely on holiday last week, I hope I am not skipping over anything important

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From Cohabitation to Cohousing: Older Baby Boomers Create Living Arrangements To Suit New Needs

7 days ago

Yves here. The cohousing concept is likely to become more popular since marriage rates are lower among the young, provided members continue to be successful in finding the like-minded. But the effort and cost of setting one up is a considerable barrier.
By Nancy P. Kropf, Dean, Perimeter College & Professor, Social Work, Georgia State University, and Sherry Cummings, Associate Dean and Professor of Social Work, University of Tennessee. Originally published at The Conversation
One of the major questions of growing older is, “where do I want to live as I age?” For many baby boomers, an important goal is staying independent as long as possible. Many in this generation desire to age in their homes and make their own choices as long as possible.
Living preferences are changing, as are

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CalPERS’ Blatant Election and Mail Fraud: See-Through Envelopes for Completed Ballots; Illegal Electioneering by Treasurer Fiona Ma, Board Members David Miller and Theresa Taylor; Huge and Illegally Opaque Spending Against Challenger JJ Jelincic

8 days ago

CalPERS and its election vendor, K&H Printing, have implemented an illegal, non-secret ballot for the election currently underway, for the hotly contested retiree board seat. As we’ll describe, K&H Printing can readily see which candidate a voter has selected prior to treating the vote as having been submitted. This gives CalPERS the ability to discard mail-in votes for the candidate its executives and the majority of the board vehemently opposes, JJ Jelincic.
We’ve predicted that CalPERS’ culture of of casual lying would lead to criminal conduct, and it has finally occurred.
CalPERS is using ballot envelopes that allow anyone to see how a vote was cast. That makes it trivially easy simply to dispose of ballot envelopes that contain the “wrong” vote well before the envelopes are unsealed

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Maine Meetup Report: Great Conversation, Lost and Found

8 days ago

Despite Bailey Island being well away from where most Maine residents live and work, and the weather turning wretched in the later PM, we had a great turnout of 15! I had promised crashing ocean views, which everyone did get, but not from the deck but the cozy living and dining room of the rental cottage.
We got some input that seemed consistent with signs that this vacation season didn’t seem as robust as ones in recent years, like more empty parking spaces than usual in Brunswick and Boothbay Harbor, less crowding in some restaurants (although there were indicators that went the other way, like shopping center Freeport seeming busy).
The Maine contingent said that the summer season really got going mid-July, which is later than normal. They also said that restaurants and hotels were

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Is it Really “Full Employment”? Margins for Expansion in the US Economy in the Middle of 2019

9 days ago

Yves here. This post is particularly timely given the seeming disconnect between weak job creation but headline unemployment holding rock steady. We’ve described some of factors that make employment conditions less rosy than they seem, such as that job creation has overwhelmingly been in relatively low-skill, poorly paid positions, and that the level of involuntary part-time employment is high.
But get a cup of coffee. This is a very readable but also comprenensive treatment of this topic.
By Claudia Fontanari, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Economics, Roma Tre University, Antonella Palumbo, Associate Professor, Economics, Roma Tre University, and Chiara Salvatori, Ph.D. Student in Economics, Roma Tre University. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website
As

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Meetup Reminder: Hope You Can Stop by Our Mid-Coast/Bailey Island Maine Meetup Wednesday Sept 4

13 days ago

Even though Bailey Island is a bit off the beaten path (meaning I295 and Route 1), we’ve gotten a great response to our meetup this Wednesday. We expect to have ten or maybe even more participants. The house has a spacious deck with plenty of seating. So come by, enjoy the crashing waves, ocean breezes, wine and munchies, and most important, good company and lively conversations.
The meetup venue is at the start of the Giant Stair walk, so I encourage you to allow 10 or 15 minutes to take an easy hike and see the Giant Stair before coming up for a drink.
Please let me know if you are coming and if you prefer white or red so I’ll have the right provisions.
If you take State Route 24, it is a longish (22-25 minutes) but very scenic drive from the Cook’s Corner/Orr’s Island/Bailey Island

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Announcing Comments Holiday Through September 7

15 days ago

Dear patient readers,
You may have managed to forget it, but we have a holiday on comments for 2 weeks a year to give our writers and site moderators a break.
It might have seemed more logical to hold the holiday last week, because end of summer, but I take holiday this week, because off season rentals are cheaper + Labor Day Monday. So we have one of our comments holidays this week to correspond with my sort of vacation. We are shorter staffed on the moderator front than we’d like to be, so taking some time off is even more important than usual.
Having said that, individual post authors may decide to enable comments. For instance, if something happens on the Brexit or CalPERS front happens that I think can’t wait till next week, I might post, and I might (stress might) enable comments

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A Question of Character

16 days ago

This post is certain to do short shrift to the topic of individual character and cultural values. As you’ll see in due course, a long-standing friend, Professor Amar Bhide, sent me an encomium for a mentor of his, John McArthur, who among other things, was the Dean of Harvard Business School from 1980 to 1995.
What is striking about Amar’s description isn’t simply how rare it is for America to produce someone who was deeply engaged with the people around him, yet was also a first-class mind with wide-ranging interest, but that we no longer seem to aspire to produce people (outside immediate families) whose attentiveness and concern can and often does have a fundamental, positive impact on those around them. Amar points out that McArthur knew the names of all of the service staff in every

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Reminder: DNC Lawyers to Court, “We Do Not Owe Voters an ‘Impartial’ or ‘Evenhanded’ Primary Election”

17 days ago

Yves here. The DNC position on elections does much to explain the 2016 California primary, which featured numerous reports by poll workers of dirty practices. Oddly, I saw two separate  videos with many detailed first person accounts  of a range of abuses which now seem to be not findable on Google. Oh, and there were no exit polls. Convenient, that.
By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!

As Jimmy Breslin wrote in his blurb, this is the best book ever written about legendary Democratic Party boss Richard J. Daley, king of the smoke-filled back room deal. (Fun fact: John Belushi played a character closely based on Royko in an early Lawrence Kasden film, Continental Divide, that’s well worth watching.)
This is your periodic reminder that the “Democratic Party” is not

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