19 August 2017

My hunch is that there are many, many women and men like Amy McGrath in this country, who have the patriotic spirit necessary to be good public servants in Congress but who, alas, did not have the judgment to be born to well-known elite families or to look craggy and weathered quite like Bernie.  The Democratic Party should remember this every day.

I urge my readers to consider a donation to McGrath's campaign.  It will be people like her who can take back the House for accountability and democracy, or not at all.

16 August 2017

Max Kellermann wouldn't be a bad president for the next week or so.  Thanks, ESPN.

04 August 2017

Banking - with its gray functionaries and experts - has taken the place of the Church and its priests and, controlling credit, manipulates and propels the faith - the scarce, dubious confidence - that our time still keeps.  And it does it in the most irresponsible way, devoid of scruples, seeking to squeeze marginal profit out of the confidence and the hopes of human beings, fixing the credit of which everyone can partake and the price which everyone must pay for it (even the credit of nations, which have docilely abdicated their sovereignty).  In this manner, controlling credit, banking governs not only the world, but also the future of humans -- a future that the crisis is always shortening and making expire.

And if today politics no longer seems possible, this is because the financial power has indeed sequestrated all the faith and all the future, all time and all expectations.  In this hard situation, while our society that believes itself secular remains in servitude to the most obscure and irrational of religions, it will be well for everyone to reclaim credit and future alike from the hands of these dismal, discredited pseudo-priests, bankers, professors and functionaries of the various rating agencies.  And maybe the first thing to do is to stop looking so much at the future, as these guys exhort us to do, but instead turn our gaze back to the past ... Archeology - not futurology - is the only access road to the present.

Giorgio Agamben, ending of an essay in La Repubblica, Feb. 16, 2012  (my translation)

Martin Shkreli, despite a valiant defense of his character from august pillars of the investment sector, has been found guilty of three counts of fraud.  (This particular jury was composed of seven women and five men, which seems relevant when one considers Shkreli's chief hobby, harassing women online.)

I am gratified to see that the "don't call me a misogynist liar, I'm just Rain Man" defense didn't work this time.  Invariably deployed to protect straight white men from the consequences of their own actions, this may be Dustin Hoffman's most lasting legacy to Euro-American culture. 
One trial witness last month, Schuyler Marshall, a Dallas-based real estate company chairman who invested in one of Shkreli’s later hedge funds, said that Shkreli reminded him of the film character Rain Man, the autistic savant played by Dustin Hoffman, who has extraordinary mathematical powers but difficulty relating to others.
Under cross-examination, Marshall said that he was not claiming Shkreli was autistic, but that: “The reference here was that this was just an intensely focused, bright guy who knew his stuff.”

26 July 2017

As a former resident of Massachusetts, I could not be prouder of Monday's unanimous court decision against tyrannical and unlawful detention of innocent immigrants.  It honors the legacy of John Adams, defense attorney (if not John Adams, president). 

It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, 'whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,' and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.

25 July 2017

I turn my ears to the Streets and Avenues of the Midwest
And there groans and keens the rumbling of the Harley,
Whose Cylinders rage direKilling the noise
That spills over every family's windowsill,
Destroying the sleep of the babe and child,
And killing the subsidies given with lavish hand
By state development agency to forge
The Wheels without Wheels
For pale men remembering a pale Past.

A contemporary poem based on an excerpt from William Blake's Jerusalem

24 July 2017

Whether you are fighting because you’re buried in student loan debt, are struggling to afford your health care, or are one of the millions of Americans who have not bounced back from the Recession quite like Wall Street and the top one percent have, it is important that we stick together.
We have proven time and again that when we are determined, engaged, and supporting one another we can overcome whatever challenge is thrown our way. When the establishment told us that campaigning on Medicare for All, free college tuition, and closing the corporate tax loopholes without a Super PAC to help us was pie in the sky, we went out and won 22 states and over 13 million votes in the Democratic primary. That is exactly what we fought for...
As long as a single person is denied their right to health care, an education, a living wage, or reproductive rights, we will be there fighting. Until the fossil fuel industry, Wall Street, and the prison-industrial complex are called to account for the harm they’ve done to the American people, we will stand with you in this fight.

--Nina Turner, President of Our Revolution, in a fundraising email, July 22

23 July 2017

The Defeat of Trumpcare, as explained by Chad Harbach in his novel The Art of Fielding.  

[SIGNIFICANT PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD!  Here is a Cubs video to cushion the blow.]

   Dougal stomped pissily around the back of the mound, flipping the rosin bag with the backs of his fingers.  Henry squeezed into a batting helmet and slowly made his way toward home plate.  He dipped one foot inside the batter's box, as if testing the temperature of a pool.
   "Let's go, son," growled the umpire.  "Season can't last forever."
   Henry stepped into the box, tapped the Harpooner on his chest three times.  He felt less muscle than he'd grown to expect beneath the starchy fabric.  Dougal peered in, agreed to a sign.  The Amherst crowd started a chant.  The first pitch, an absolutely filthy slider, darted by for a strike.
   Henry knew that he was toast.  Dougal could throw that filthy pitch twice more, and he wouldn't come close to hitting it.  It was a pro-quality slider, had broken a foot or more while moving outlandishly fast.  The timing required to hit a pitch like that was a matter not just of skill but of constant practice.  A day off made it tough; a month off made it impossible...
   He decided in advance to swing at the second pitch, if only to give Dougal something to think about.  Dougal wiped the sweat from his forehead, checked Izzy at first.  The pitch was another slider, identical to the first.  Henry swung and missed.  Two strikes.
  Still, he must have done something to catch Dougal's eye, because Dougal shook off one sign, and then another, and then beckoned for the catcher, who called time and jogged out to confer.  The Amherst fans were going crazy.  Dougal lifted his glove to his face and spoke through the latticed weave of the webbing, to keep Henry from reading his lips ... The catcher figured Henry was an easy mark -- wanted to finish him off right away, with another slider down the pipe.  The catcher was probably right.  But Dougal saw something else in Henry, smelled a whiff of danger (We are brothers, Dougal, brothers) , and felt a need to set him up for the kill -- to show the fastball high and tight, before finishing with the slider low and away.  It was flattering, in a way, that a pitcher like Dougal would go to such trouble to strike him out.  And it was foolish, in a way, for Dougal to be so crafty, to insist on the pride of his craft, to try to orchestrate things, instead of simply letting Henry beat himself. 
  Henry set up farther from home plate than usual, to encourage Dougal to throw his high tight fastball a little tighter than he otherwise might...