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Sunday, June 30, 2019

On the depressing Kamala birtherism ...

by digby

Sen. Kamala Harris pushed back Saturday against online attacks about her race, comparing the latest jabs to the racism faced by former President Barack Obama, as fellow 2020 candidates rallied to her defense.

During Thursday's Democratic presidential debate, Donald Trump Jr. retweeted to his millions of followers a Harris critic who took issue with her identity.

"Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican," the critic, who identified as African American, wrote. "I'm so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It's disgusting. Now using it for debate time at #DemDebate2? These are my people not her people. Freaking disgusting."

Trump Jr. shared the tweet with the comment, "Is this true? Wow." He has since deleted the tweet and a spokesman for President Donald Trump's son told the New York Times that it was a misunderstanding.

"Don's tweet was simply him asking if it was true that Kamala Harris was half-Indian because it's not something he had ever heard before," spokesman Andy Surabian told the Times. "And once he saw that folks were misconstruing the intent of his tweet, he quickly deleted it."

Lily Adams, the campaign communications director for Harris, dismissed the attack, explaining that people, including President Trump, used similar rhetoric to question Obama's birthplace. Obama was born in Hawaii.

"This is the same type of racist attack his father used to attack Barack Obama," Adams told CNN. "It didn't work then and it won't work now."
Harris, who was born in the US to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father who were both immigrants, has directly confronted critics before who have questioned her black heritage, her record incarcerating minorities as a prosecutor and her decision to marry a white man.

In an interview with The Breakfast Club hosts DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God that aired in March, the show's hosts asked the California Democrat to address a series of derogatory memes that have circulated on social media. One of the hosts cited a meme that said Harris is "not African-American" because her parents were immigrants and she spent her high school years in Canada.

"So I was born in Oakland, and raised in the United States except for the years that I was in high school in Montreal, Canada," Harris responded with a laugh. "And look, this is the same thing they did to Barack (Obama). This is not new to us and so I think that we know what they are trying to do."

"They are trying to do what has been happening over the last two years, which is powerful voices trying to sow hate and division, and so we need to recognize when we're being played," Harris said.
Twitter confirmed to CNN that it had suspended some accounts that had been attacking Harris' race, but said that those accounts had been suspended for other rule violations.

Here's the depressing part:
"Our policies ban misleading, deceptive, and spammy behavior and prohibit attempts to game trends or cause unrelated Tweets to appear in search results. We've aggressively stepped up our actions in this regard," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. "In addition to these existing preventative systems, we will be protecting the integrity of the conversation around key topics and trends throughout the election, including during debates. We saw no coordinated use of automation during recent debates."

If that's true it means there were a whole bunch of real people tweeting that stuff. And, it's a real thing, not just a right wing troll. This won't be the last we hear of this.

But make no mistake, it's definitely a right-wing troll. Bon Domenech is selling "Kamala is a cop" t-shirts. Like wingnuts suddenly don't like cops ...



Kim Jong Un says he likes Trump because he isn't moral and doesn't judge. He's must love Tucker Carlson

by digby


President Donald Trump brought Fox News host Tucker Carlson to North Korea on Sunday instead of his own national security adviser, John Bolton.

Several journalists reported seeing Carlson on the sidelines of Trump’s historic visitto the the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, and the hosts of “Fox & Friends” confirmed Carlson was there during a phone interview with him.

Meanwhile, Bolton was shipped off to Mongolia over the weekend.

While speaking to his Fox colleagues, Carlson defended Trump’s friendliness with the brutal North Korean dictator.

“[North Korea]’s a disgusting place, obviously. So there’s no defending it,” Carlson said. “On the other hand, you’ve got to be honest about what it means to lead a country. It means killing people.”

“Not on the scale that the North Koreans do, but a lot of countries commit atrocities, including a number that we’re closely allied with,” he continued.

You have to love "there's no defending" North Korea followed by a sickeningly cynical defense of North Korea.

I'm not a Bolton fan, to say the least, but Tucker's "anything goes" attitude toward totalitarian violence is not any better. I know Trump doesn't know any history but surely Carlson does. This sort of thing tends to lead to very, very, very bad things that you end up being drawn into whether you like it or not.

Carlson is a wily opportunist who is clearly enjoying his brush with power. But beware of thinking he's some kind of moderating influence on Trump. He's this guy.


A Brilliant Cartoon

by digby

Guess what?

Michael de Adder was born, raised, and educated in New Brunswick province and was a regular presence in its newspapers. Brunswick News Inc., which owns the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, the Moncton Times & Transcript, and the Moncton Daily Gleaner, has now disassociated itself from de Adder.

The above cartoon is apparently the one that went a step too far for Brunswick News Inc.

According to Wikipedia de Adder “draws approximately 10 cartoons weekly and, at over a million readers per day, he is considered the most read cartoonist in Canada.”

Can you believe it? In Canada, fergawdsakes.

Political cartooning is under tremendous duress from all sides these days. In fact, all of political satire is under duress. And that's a shame. It's an important part of political commentary and has been for a very long time.

Here are some historic cartoons that changed the world from Victor Navasky:

James Gillray

Napoleon once said that the English caricaturist James Gillray "did more than all the armies in Europe to bring me down." Here's an example: "Manic ravings, or Little Boney in a Strong Fit" (1803).

Honore Daumier

In 1832, two years after King Louis Philippe famously abolished censorship of the press in France, Honore Daumier produced his famous pear-shaped caricature of Louis Philippe called "Gargantua." Daumier, his publisher, Philipon, and his printer were all indicted for "arousing hatred of and contempt of the King's government, and for offending the King's person." Only Daumier went to prison.

Thomas Nast

Nast's depictions of Boss Tweed are justly credited with bringing him and his corrupt Tammany Hall cronies down. Tweed famously said, "I don't care a straw for your newspaper articles. My constituents can't read. But they can't help seeing them damn pictures."

Art Young and Robert Minor:

Young and Minor were two of the artists whose work appeared regularly in The Masses. In August 1917, the Post Office revoked The Masses' mailing privileges. The Masses was brought to trial twice as the editors (including the cartoonists) were charged with "conspiring to obstruct conscription." Although Young and Minor stayed out of prison, the lawsuits caused the magazine to suspend publication.

Louis Raemaekers:

During World War I, no cartoonist exercised more influence than Louis Raemaekers of Holland. Charged with "endangering Dutch neutrality," his cartoons led the Germans to offer a 12,000 guilder reward for his capture, dead or alive. A German newspaper, summarizing the terms of peace Germany would exact after it won the war, declared that indemnity would be demanded for every one of Raemaekers' cartoons. Example shown here: "The German Tango."

David Low:

As Lord Halifax, the foreign secretary, reported to David Low's publisher, "You cannot imagine the frenzy that these cartoons cause. As soon as a copy of The Evening Standard arrives, it is poured over for [David] Low's cartoon and if it is of Hitler, as it usually is, telephones buzz, tempertures rise, fevers mount, the whole governmental system of Germany is in an uproar. It has hardly subsided before the next one arrives. England can't understand the violence of the reaction."

Actually, Low had a theory to explain Hitler's fits. "No dictator is inconvenienced or even displeased by cartoons showing his terrible person stalking through blood and mud. That is the kind of idea about himself that the power-seeking world-beater would want to propagate. It not only feeds his vanity but unfortuntely it shows profitable returns in an awed world. What he does not want to get around is the idea that he is an ass, which is really damaging." For example, "Rendezvous."

Der Sturmer:

Every week, Der Sturmer, the notorious anti-Semitic Nazi weekly (whose masthead slogan read: "The Jew is our misfortune"), ran vicious, ugly caricatures of Jews on its cover. A Der Sturmer Jew was easily recognized: ugly, unshaven, short, fat, drooling, hook-nosed. After the war, the Nuemberg Tribunal indicted 24 defendants, who represented a cross section of Nazi leadership, on charges of crime against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity (including an overarching conspiracy count). Der Sturmer's Jules Streicher was the only editor among them. Primarily as a result of running weekly cartoons like "The Satanic Servant Judah" by Fips (1934), Streicher was found guilty, hanged, and cremated at Dachau.

More at the link.

Kavanaugh is exactly what he appeared to be

by digby

This piece by Ian Millhiser at Think Progress says it all:
Indelible in the hippocampus is the anger.

The rage. The red faced, snarling incomprehension from Brett, who spent decades preparing for his ascension, only to have it threatened by some woman he claims not to remember assaulting.

Brett was careful. Brett came from the right family. Took the right jobs. Made all the right friends. And wrote all the right opinions. When excessive partisanship was a liability for men seeking ascension, Brett artfully said nothing about Obamacare. When ideological purity became fashionable, Brett made sure everyone knew he would overrule That Decision.

Brett. Went. To. Yale.

But now she was here. And she wanted Brett to pay for something that men like him do not pay for.

“I love coaching more than anything I have ever done in my whole life,” Brett screamed to his inquisitors. “But thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.” (Brett still coaches.)

“Thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee unleashed,” he raged. “I may never be able to teach again.” (Brett still teaches.)

Brett let it all out. He glared at those who dared to take from him what he’d worked for — what belonged to him. And he threatened revenge. “We all know in the United States political system of the early 2000s,” Brett told them, “what goes around comes around.”

Days later, when the fury subsided to a simmer, Brett told a different tale. “I might have been too emotional at times,” Brett admitted in the Wall Street Journal. “I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.”

“Going forward,” Brett promised, “you can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career: hardworking, even-keeled, open-minded, independent and dedicated to the Constitution and the public good.”

One Supreme Court term later, Brett has a record. We now know how he behaves when liberated from having to follow precedent, and when he is free to express his unvarnished views. That record tells us something important. It tells us that, in the crucible of his entitled madness, we saw the real Brett.

“What goes around comes around” is the real Brett Kavanaugh. We know this because we know how he’s behaved on the Supreme Court.

Read on for the full indictment.

This was his first term. The one where they usually keep their heads down try not to make waves...

Trump wasn't the first delusional celebrity the GOP foisted on us

by digby

This piece in the NYRB about Reagan and the movies shows us just how long the right has been enamored of this particular style of politician. In fact, they revere it:

For Reagan, movies were a source of knowledge. He waxed enthusiastic over WarGames (1983), in which a teenage hacker inadvertently sets off the nuclear codes. He was impressed by Firefox (1982), in which Clint Eastwood, a heroic bomber pilot fluent in Russian (!), is recruited to steal a Soviet fighter jet controlled by telepathy. Firefox inspired government research into a form of enhanced jet-fighter command controls based on an “ocular attention-sensing interface system,” perhaps the subject of the phone call Reagan placed to Eastwood after seeing the film.

Another instance of movie-empathy preceded Reagan’s determination to visit the Bitburg cemetery was a response to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s blubbering reaction to being left out of the 1984 D-Day commemoration extravaganza. After seeing the Oscar-nominated German-made wartime submarine drama Das Boot in 1982, the president mused in his diary that it was “strange to find yourself rooting for the enemy.”

Understanding that movies were information for Reagan, aides suggested that he screen Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1981) before his first meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev (who was evidently briefed to ask him about Kings Row), but there was another movie on the president’s mind. Reagan flummoxed both the Soviet general-secretary and his own staff with this departure from script by advancing the notion that extraterrestrial invasion would trump national differences and cold war rivalry. But national security adviser General Colin Powell recognized that the proposal was inspired by the 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still.

I confess that my own sense of Reagan was formed by his last movie, Don Siegel’s 1964 remake of The Killers, which I first saw in 1969, a year after spending the summer in Berkeley. It would be difficult to overstate my loathing of Governor Reagan, whom I regarded as a personal enemy. For me, Reagan’s supporting role as the movie’s criminal mastermind was an inexplicable bit of self-revelation.

In fact, it was a blunder. “I don’t think that Ronnie fully appreciated until he saw the film that he was really the most evil person in the picture,” Siegel would recall in 1980. At the same time, Siegel praised candidate Reagan’s political instincts:

After all he is an actor… He’s not going to be frightened when he’s having debates with anybody. He feels that he’s in better shape than they are, and he is. It’s not easy to get up on your own and look out at a sea of faces and mikes sticking up and, God knows how many millions of people are going to be looking at it. It doesn’t bother him at all.

As president, Reagan provided the nation with a new collective memory and a new representation—as well as a representative—of the national past. His last leading role would be his greatest. By the time, thirty-six years later, that another professional entertainer was elected, Reagan was imagined by many as the greatest American president since Franklin Roosevelt.

Hollywood was founded on the proposition that scenarios that are naturally hegemonic and usually reassuring will appeal to the largest possible audience. Seamlessly merging the concept of “Freedom” with the gospel of “Entertainment,” Reagan was Hollywood incarnate, the embodiment of happy endings and uncomplicated emotions, with a built-in Production Code designed to suppress any uncomfortable truth.

Reagan’s movie was America as America imagined itself. Trump’s reality TV show is Trump, as America imagines him. The Killers was revelatory, after all, just not in the way I’d thought.

Let's not forget about Schwarzenneger, a huge movie star who won on the basis of his role as "The Terminator."

As one of the few historians who deeply studies the intersection of American popular culture and modern politics, Rick Perlstein saw this phenomenon playing out with Trump from the get-go:

In The Invisible Bridge I wrote about what it was like in this New York in 1974, the summer when the federal lawsuit against the Trumps was approaching its climax, the summer when a controversial new movie began packing theaters across the five boroughs.

"Death Wish" starred a then-obscure Charles Bronson as a New York City architect who used to be liberal, until his daughter was raped and his wife murdered. His son-in-law pronounces defeat: “There’s nothing we can do to stop it. Nothing but cut and run.” The architect, by contrast, learns to shoot a gun—in an Old West ghost town—so he can start mowing down muggers at point-blank range. He soon cuts the city’s murder rate in half, and wins a spot on the cover of Time.

Liberal reviewers registered their disgust: The Times’s Vincent Canby called it “a bird-brained movie to cheer the hearts of the far-right wing,” then, 10 days later, branded Bronson a “circus bear.” Time called it “meretricious,” “brazen,” and “hysterical.” Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times labeled it “fascist.” But in the real-life New York City, where the murder rate had doubled in 10 years, and where a psychiatrist published a Times op-ed bragging about the violence he had prevented by leveling a pistol that he kept “never far from my reach while I attend to patients in my mid-Manhattan office,” each onscreen vigilante act won ovations from grateful fans—sometimes standing ovations.

Two years later came an even darker, and considerably more critical, portrait of New York City’s escalating culture of vigilantism. In Taxi Driver, a deranged Vietnam veteran speaks what must have been the unspoken inner monologue of any number of real-life New Yorkers who felt trapped in an urban sewer: “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.” Pistol in hand, he rehearses his revenge in the mirror: “Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads. Here is a man who would not take it any more. A man who stood up against the scum, the cunts, the dogs, the filth, the shit. Here is a man who stood up.”

When, around that time, Wall Street Journal columnist Irving Kristol coined the phrase “a neoconservative is a liberal who’s been mugged by reality”—a bowdlerization of the older adage “a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged”—he probably didn’t have Charles Bronson in mind, let alone taxi driver Travis Bickle. Nonetheless the politics is all of a piece. Charles Bronson conservatism, Travis Bickle conservatism, the conservatism of avenging angels protecting white innocence in a “liberal” metropolis gone mad: this is New York City’s unique contribution to the history of conservatism in America, an ideological tradition heretofore unrecognized in the historical literature. But without it, we cannot understand the rise of Donald Trump.

He literally sees himself as Charles Bronson in Death Wish. He even acted out the vigilante shooting from the stage at his rallies and led the crowd in chants of "Death Wish."

Democrats have their myths as well, of course. Our rather high self-regard about "progress" tends to ignore the ebbs and flows and backlashes to our goals. But for all the power of the so-called liberal media and entertainment complex, it's the right that has successfully harnessed its power for its own partisan political purposes.

Why is that?


QOTD: Kim Jong Un

by digby

When he's right, he's right.

And Trump is fine with that. makes him strong:

Aaaand, of course. He became president today:


Time to learn from 2016

by Tom Sullivan

For all the hard-to-quantify damage Russian disinformation did during the 2016 presidential campaign, it is wise to remember Americans were willing accomplices. In one case at least, a profiteer of fake news who didn't live long enough to enjoy his profits. Others spread disinformation from Macedonia. Still others from New York.

Jennifer Rubin last week cited a study published in the Columbia Journalism Review that analyzed how American news outlets covered the 2016 campaign. Aready infamous for its promotion of the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq, The New York Times comes in for criticism of how it contributed to the disinformation melee. The Times itself admitted, “Every major publication, including The Times, published multiple stories citing the D.N.C. and Podesta emails posted by WikiLeaks, becoming a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.” CJR documented how much the press added:

The research team investigated this question, counting sentences that appeared in mainstream media sources and classifying each as detailing one of several Clinton- or Trump-related issues. In particular, they classified each sentence as describing either a scandal (e.g., Clinton’s emails, Trump’s taxes) or a policy issue (Clinton and jobs, Trump and immigration). They found roughly four times as many Clinton-related sentences that described scandals as opposed to policies, whereas Trump-related sentences were one-and-a-half times as likely to be about policy as scandal. Given the sheer number of scandals in which Trump was implicated—sexual assault; the Trump Foundation; Trump University; redlining in his real-estate developments; insulting a Gold Star family; numerous instances of racist, misogynist, and otherwise offensive speech—it is striking that the media devoted more attention to his policies than to his personal failings. Even more striking, the various Clinton-related email scandals—her use of a private email server while secretary of state, as well as the DNC and John Podesta hacks—accounted for more sentences than all of Trump’s scandals combined (65,000 vs. 40,000) and more than twice as many as were devoted to all of her policy positions.
These reports were not generated by Russian bots, but by U.S. news organizations ranging from The New York Times and The Washington Post to The Wall Street Journal, CJR observes.
To the extent that voters mistrusted Hillary Clinton, or considered her conduct as secretary of state to have been negligent or even potentially criminal, or were generally unaware of what her policies contained or how they may have differed from Donald Trump’s, these numbers suggest their views were influenced more by mainstream news sources than by fake news.
Viewing a New York Times front-page story highlighting the racial components of Joe Biden's legislative history, Rubin wonders if anyone has learned from 2016:
For example, the article persistently references Biden working with segregationists in overhauling crime legislation. However, it neglects to put in information that appeared in a prior article (notice the repetition of the same negative story) on June 21: “Mr. Biden accurately noted that he presided over the renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 1982 for 25 years as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and fought for years to extend and expand the law, which protected racial minorities from discrimination at the voting booth. He was a liberal on most civil rights issues, but he was also a leading opponent of integrating schools through busing from the 1970s to 1980s, though his efforts largely failed.” The most recent article omits that critical context.

Also missing is the overwhelming support that the crime bills garnered. You’d think from the piece it was just Biden and those segregationists toiling away. But the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, for example, passed the Senate 97 to 2. The 1984 bill cited to illustrated that Biden was buddy-buddy with Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) was co-sponsored by “liberal lion” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). And that bill initially passed the Senate on a voice vote.
There is more in that vein, including a quote last week from former senator Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) who served with Biden. She described the hits on him as "opportunistic." Rubin's warning is history may be repeating itself here.

There may be a generational component to the Biden-segregationists stories. That is, what may not have been as big a deal then is a bigger deal now. Nicholas Kristof writes about a disagreement with his daughter over a college professor helping in the defense of Harvey Weinstein. Of course, Weinstein deserves a proper defense, he argued. But a house dean has no business being the one to do it, his daughter argued back. She had a point, Kristof admits.

"Progressives of my era often revere the adage misattributed to Voltaire: 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.,'" Kristof writes. "For young progressives, the priority is more about standing up to perceived racism, misogyny, Islamophobia and bigotry." The question is "how to live liberal values in an illiberal age."

The difficulty for legitimate journalism in the digital age is knowing how to prioritize between what generates clicks and what citizens really need to know to make informed decisions. The former lends itself to promoting fake news and catapulting the propaganda. In 2016, that tendency helped elect Russia's preferred candidate.

Biden himself may have delivered "the greatest self-own in debate history" when he uttered, “My time is up.” There is a sense in which Biden is out of his time like Billy Pilgrim. But the normal crucible of primary season will reveal that without slanted reporting or opponents spreading fake stories on social media. Rubin's concern is the press is again poised to do Vladimir Putin's work for him, and Donald Trump's. It is not clear news outlets have learned from 2016.

Nor Democrats, for that matter. Donald Trump wants to run against Biden. Trump won in a change election as an outsider running against a consummate Washington insider. He wants that scenario again. Biden is the closest thing in the Democrats' lineup he gets to running against Hillary a second time. Judging by early polls showing Biden with a comfortable (and comforting) lead, nervous Democrats may not have figured that out.

Democratic primary voters are 3-6 on picking winning presidential candidates over the last 50 years. They are 3-7 if you include Kennedy's challenge to Carter in 1980. Not an inspiring track record for conventional wisdom.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Saturday Night at the Movies

The Byrds and the beads: Echo in the Canyon *** & Model Shop (1969) ***

By Dennis Hartley

[The Beatles’ “She Said She Said” is] another psychedelic gem written by John, which in this case was literally inspired by psychedelics, because he came up with the idea for the song in the aftermath of an acid trip he took in 1965, while partying with The Byrds in L.A. (and you know that those space cowboys had the good shit, probably Sandoz). At any rate, the story goes that John got freaked out by Peter Fonda, who kept cornering him and whispering in his ear: “I know what it’s like to be dead.” Obviously, this unsettling mantra stuck with Lennon, who modified the final lyric, so that it became “she” said…I know what it’s like to be dead… - from my 2016 essay on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Revolver
“The Byrds were great; when [The Beatles] came to L.A. [The Byrds] came and hung out with us. That 12-string sound was great. The voices were great. So, we loved The Byrds. They introduced us to a…hallucinogenic situation, and uh…we had a really good time.”
- Ringo Starr, from the 2019 documentary Echo in the Canyon

Someone once quipped “If you can remember anything about the 60s, you weren’t really there”. Luckily for Ringo and his fellow music vets who appear in Andrew Slater’s documentary Echo in the Canyon, they’re only required to “remember” from 1965-1967.

That is the specific time period that Slater, a long-time record company exec, music journalist and album producer chooses to highlight in his directing debut. His film also focuses on a specific location: Laurel Canyon. Nestled in the Hollywood Hills West district of L.A., this relatively cozy and secluded neighborhood (a stone’s throw off the busy Sunset Strip) was once home to a now-legendary, creatively incestuous enclave of influential folk-rockers (The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Mamas and the Papas, et.al.).

Interviews with the likes of Roger McGuinn, Michelle Phillips, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, Eric Clapton, the late Tom Petty and producer Lou Adler are interspersed with performances from a 2015 tribute concert featuring Jakob Dylan and some of his contemporaries like Cat Power, Beck, Norah Jones and Fiona Apple covering their favorite 60s songs by the artists who are profiled (director Slater helped organize the event). Dylan also conducts the interviews and serves as a tour guide.

Frankly, there aren’t many surprises in store; turns out that nearly everybody was (wait for it) excited and influenced by The Beatles, who in turn were excited and influenced by The Byrds and the Beach Boys, who were in turn inspired to greater heights by the resultant exponential creative leaps achieved by the Beatles (echo in the canyon…get it?).

Still, it’s fun to be a fly on the wall as Dylan and his cohorts lay down tracks at vintage L.A. recording studios, or just to watch the late Tom Petty noodle around on a 12-string electric Rickenbacker to demonstrate the rudiments of the 60s California folk-rock sound.

One comes away with a sense about the unique creative camaraderie of the era. Roger McGuinn once received a courtesy note from George Harrison that the main riff he used for the Beatles’ “If I Needed Someone” was based on the Byrds’ “Bells of Rhymney”. Apparently, McGuinn was totally cool with that (too bad for poor George that the publishers of the Chiffon’s 1963 hit “He’s So Fine” didn’t receive his melodic lift for his 1970 smash “My Sweet Lord” in the same spirit-they promptly sued him for plagiarism).

According to Stephen Stills, there was so much musical badminton going on at the time that a little unconscious plagiarism now and then was inevitable. In one somewhat awkward scene, Dylan asks Eric Clapton about the very similar chord changes in Stills’ song “Questions” by Buffalo Springfield and Clapton’s “Let it Rain”. After mulling it over for several very long seconds, Clapton shrugs and concurs “I must have copped it.”

By odd coincidence, the day I previewed the film, a Rolling Stone obit caught my eye:
Elliot Roberts, who managed the careers of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty and many classic-rock legends, died Friday at the age of 76. A cause of death has not been revealed.

“It is with a heavy heart that we can confirm the passing of Elliot Roberts. No further details are available at this time,” a rep for Young wrote in a statement on behalf of Roberts’ Lookout Management. “Roberts, among the most respected and beloved music industry figures of all time, leaves an indelible footprint as a pioneer and leader in the business of artist representation. His uncanny intellect, unmatched, sharp wit, larger-than-life charisma along with his keen understanding of the music industry will remain unparalleled. Truly one of a kind, he will be missed always and by many.”

With his former colleague David Geffen, Roberts was one of the pivotal figures in the rise of the Southern California and Laurel Canyon music scenes of the Sixties and Seventies. Known equally for his business savvy and sense of humor, Roberts landed record deals for Young and Mitchell, co-managed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, conceived the idea of Petty and the Heartbreakers backing Bob Dylan in the 1980s and helped launch the careers of Tracy Chapman and the Cars. […]
Born Elliot Rabinowitz on February 25th, 1943, Roberts was raised in the Bronx, ran with gangs and, after flirting with the idea of becoming an athlete given his basketball chops, opted for show business. He wound up in the mail room at the William Morris Agency, where he would meet fellow would-be mover and shaker David Geffen. 
After he and Geffen rose up the ladder, Roberts heard a tape of Mitchell and soon became her manager, forming Lookout Management. At Mitchell’s urging, Roberts, then only 23, also began managing Young (following the breakup of Buffalo Springfield) and, soon after, Crosby, Stills & Nash. While trying to land the trio a record deal, Roberts realized he needed someone with more record company contacts. Alongside Geffen, he formed the powerful Geffen-Roberts Company. The management firm soon came to represent not just Mitchell (until 1985) but Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, America and many others. When Geffen started Asylum Records, its acts, including the Eagles and Jackson Browne, were also managed by Geffen-Roberts.
I believe I just heard an echo of The Bryds singing: “To everything (turn, turn, turn) …”

Speaking of odd coincidences, there is a scene in Echo in the Canyon where its director Andrew Slater mentions that one of the inspirations for his joint tribute concert/documentary project was Jacques Demy’s relatively obscure 1969 drama Model Shop (Slater weaves in brief snippets of Demy’s film all throughout Echo in the Canyon).

Suddenly, a little bell went off in my head (talk about echoes…lots of space in that empty noggin), and I realized that I had an unwatched copy of that very film sitting in my DVR (it recently aired on TCM). So, I figured-what the hell…sounds like a perfect double-bill.

While I am familiar with Demy’s work (mostly due to having Criterion's excellent six-film box set  in my collection), Model Shop has somehow eluded me. The film represents a period in the late 60s when Demy and his wife, filmmaker Agnes Varda took a hiatus from their native France to explore America’s counterculture scene (speaking of which- Criterion's three-film Agnès Varda in California box is another great set I recommend).

Like many films of its era, Model Shop is a leisurely, episodic character study. It’s about a restless, late-twenty something Los Angelino named George (Gary Lockwood) who is experiencing possibly both the worst and best day of his life. His morning doesn’t start well; he and his girlfriend are awakened from their slumber by a repo man who is there to seize George’s beloved MG convertible. George manages to beg a 1-day reprieve, based on his promise to make an in-person payment of $100 to his bank by end of business day.

George’s girlfriend (Alexandra Hay) is quite chagrined over witnessing a scenario she has experienced once too many times. This is obviously not their first fight over money; and it looks like the relationship is just shy of going “kaput”. George is an architect by trade; but has recently quit in a fit of pique (existential crisis?). George flees the escalating spat in his MG as he brainstorms how he’s going to scare up that $100 by 6pm.

George’s day (and the film) turns a 180 when he goes to visit a pal who runs an auto repair shop and espies a lovely woman (Anouk Aimee) who is there to pick up her car. On pure impulse, he decides to follow her in his MG (yes, it’s a bit on the stalking side). He follows her high up into the hills over L.A., and then seems to lose interest. He stops and takes in a commanding view of the city and the valley beyond, deeply lost in thought.

In my favorite scene, he drives up into (Laurel Canyon?) to visit a friend who’s a musician in an up-and-coming band. George’s pal turns out to be Jay Ferguson, keyboardist and lead singer of the band Spirit (and later, Jo Jo Gunne). Ferguson (playing himself) introduces George to his bandmates, who are just wrapping a rehearsal. Sure enough, the boys in the band are Ed Cassidy, Randy California, and Matthew Andes-that would be the classic lineup for Spirit! The band also provided the soundtrack for the film.

After the band splits, Jay plays a lovely piano piece for George; a song he’s “working on”. After some small talk, George sheepishly hits Jay up for a loan. No problem, man. Jay’s got him covered. George delivers this short, eloquent soliloquy about Los Angeles:
I was driving down Sunset and I turned on one of those roads that leads into the hills, and I stopped at this place that overlooks the whole city; it was fantastic. I suddenly felt exhilarated. I was really moved by the geometry of the place…its harmony. To think that some people claim that it’s an ugly city, when it’s really pure poetry…it just kills me. I wanted to build something right then; create something. It’s a fabulous city.
When George calls his parents to hit them up for money, he gets some dark news from mom. He has just received something he’s been dreading…a draft notice, and he is required to report for processing in just a few days (Vietnam hangs heavily over the film).

By pure chance, he once again spots the woman he had followed earlier. This time, he is determined to meet her. He tails her around Santa Monica, where she eventually disappears into a “models for rent” studio, where clientele pay to take pictures of women in various stages of undress. Undeterred, George pays for a session with the woman he is apparently becoming obsessed with. Their first conversation is as awkward as you would imagine; however, it turns out that George’s interest in her is more heartfelt than prurient.

What ensues is a “one-night-stand” tale that is bittersweet and affecting. The film is a unique entry in Demy’s oeuvre. Interestingly, it is both very much of its time, and ahead of its time; a precursor to films exploring modern love in the City of Angels like Hal Ashby’s Shampoo and (especially) Alan Rudolph’s Welcome to L.A. Like those films, this is a gauzy, sun-bleached vision of a city that attracts those yearning to connect with someone, something, or anything that assures a non-corporeal form of immortality; a city that teases endless possibilities, yet so often pays out with little more than broken dreams.

Previous posts with related themes:

The Wrecking Crew
David Crosby: Remember My Name
Incense and liniment: Monterey Pop turns 50
Of the beginning: Revolver at 50
10 Essential Rock Albums of 1969
10 Essential Rock Albums of 196

More reviews at Den of Cinema
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--- Dennis Hartley
More GOP ratfucking. Donald Segretti would be so proud

by digby

New York Times:

For much of the last three months, the most popular Joseph R. Biden Jr. website has been a slick little piece of disinformation that is designed to look like the former vice president’s official campaign page, yet is most definitely not pro-Biden.

From top to bottom, the website, JoeBiden.info, breezily mocks the candidate in terms that would warm the heart of any Bernie Sanders supporter: There are GIFs of Mr. Biden touching women and girls, and blurbs about his less-than-liberal policy positions, including his opposition to court-ordered busing in the 1970s and his support for the Iraq war. Pull quotes highlight some of his more famous verbal gaffes, like his description of his future boss, Barack Obama, as “articulate and bright and clean.” The introductory text declares, “Uncle Joe is back and ready to take a hands-on approach to America’s problems!”

All the site says about its creator is buried in the fine print at the bottom of the page. The site, it says, is a political parody built and paid for “BY AN American citizen FOR American citizens,” and not the work of any campaign or political action committee.

There is indeed an American behind the website — that much is unambiguously true. But he is very much a political player, and a Republican one at that. His name is Patrick Mauldin, and he makes videos and other digital content for President’s Trump’s re-election campaign. Together with his brother Ryan, Mr. Mauldin also runs Vici Media Group, a Republican political consulting firm in Austin whose website opens with the line “We Kick” followed by the image of a donkey — the Democratic Party symbol often known by another, three-letter, name.

The Biden website was intended to help Democrats “face facts,” Mr. Mauldin said in an interview. He kept his name off it because “people tend to dismiss things that they don’t like, especially if it comes from the opposite side,” he said.

Yet in anonymously trying to exploit the fissures within the Democratic ranks — fissures that ran through this past week’s debates — Mr. Mauldin’s website hews far closer to the disinformation spread by Russian trolls in 2016 than typical political messaging. With nothing to indicate its creator’s motives or employer, the website offers a preview of what election experts and national security officials say Americans can expect to be bombarded with for the next year and a half: anonymous and hard-to-trace digital messaging spread by sophisticated political operatives whose aim is to sow discord through deceit. Trolling, that is, as a political strategy.

Mr. Mauldin, who has not been previously identified as the creator of the website, said he had built and paid for it on his own, and not for the Trump campaign. But the campaign knows about the websites, raising the prospect that the president’s re-election effort condoned what is, in essence, a disinformation operation run by one of its own.

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, did not directly address that issue, though he said it was “great that talented supporters of President Trump use their time to help his re-election.”

“We appreciate their efforts in their own time with parodies like this that help the cause,” he added.

Inside the campaign, Mr. Mauldin, 30, is seen as a rising star, prized for his mischievous sense of humor and digital know-how, according to two people familiar with the operation. He also appears to be very much on point in his choice of targets: Mr. Biden is the Democrat polling strongest against Mr. Trump and has been repeatedly singled out on Twitter by the president.

Mr. Biden’s campaign knew about the fake website for months, but had not been of aware of who was behind it, said T.J. Ducklo, a campaign spokesman. “Imagine our surprise that a site full of obvious disinformation,” he said, “is the handiwork of an operative tied to the Trump campaign.”

Mr. Ducklo sought to place the website firmly in the context of Mr. Trump’s own social media habits — such as tweeting doctored videos — and what he said was the president’s lack of interest in measures to ensure the integrity of American elections.

In addition to Mr. Biden, Mr. Mauldin has anonymously set up faux campaign websites for at least three other Democratic front-runners. “Millionaire Bernie” seeks to tar Mr. Sanders as a greedy socialist; “Elizabeth Warren for Chief” mocks her claim of Native American ancestry; and “Kamala Harris for Arresting the People” highlights her work as a prosecutor who, the site says, “put parents in jail for children skipping school — and laughed about it.”

None, though, has proved as successful as the Biden website. Mr. Mauldin boasted in the interview that he had fooled people into thinking his Biden website was the real campaign page. Some offered to donate money, he said, and others wanted to volunteer.


Meddling by foreigners is illegal. But trolling or disinformation spread by American citizens is protected by the First Amendment, and if Mr. Mauldin’s work is any guide, Americans may well do a far better job deceiving one another than any Russian troll could hope for.

No doubt.

Birtherism lives

by digby

Of course it does. And it's spreading much faster than it used to:

Harris, 54, was born in Oakland, California to a father from Jamaica and a mother from India. She spoke of her experience growing up black in the debate, recalling a story about neighbors who wouldn’t let their children play with Harris and her sister because of the color of their skin.

The attacks on Harris’s background started Thursday when Ali Alexander tweeted she is not an “American black.”

“She is half Indian and half Jamaican,” Alexander wrote. “I'm so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It's disgusting. Now using it for debate time at #DemDebate2? These are my people not her people. Freaking disgusting.”

Alexander’s claim was picked up by Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted it to his nearly 3.6 million followers. “Is this true?” Trump Jr. wrote. “Wow.”

Trump Jr., who later deleted his tweet, wasn’t the only one using Alexander’s tweet to question Harris’s ethnicity.

Harris’s team denounced the comment as racist. “This is the same type of racist attacks his father used to attack Barack Obama. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now,” a Harris spokesperson told The Daily Beast.

More Twitter users copied and pasted Alexander’s message verbatim and tweeted it as their own, according to screenshots posted by writer Caroline Orr. Some of those accounts, like “@prebs_73,” have copy-pasted other popular right-wing tweets verbatim. Other accounts with right-wing references in their usernames and biographies piled on, accusing Harris of not being black.

“Ummmmm @KamalaHarris you are NOT BLACK. you are Indian and Jamaican,” wrote a Twitter user with a cross emoji, the word “CONSERVATIVE,” a red “X” emoji (a right-wing Twitter trope), and three stars (a QAnon symbol) in their username.

At least one known network of bot accounts was found spreading Alexander’s original tweet, BuzzFeed reported.

“The conversation is, no matter who we are, our blackness should be challenged because what we look like is not ‘American enough.’”
— Shireen Mitchell, Stop Online Violence Against Women
Shireen Mitchell, a technologist and founder of the group Stop Online Violence Against Women, said the accusation against Harris plays into a long-running debate that has been used to drive a white nationalist wedge through black communities.

“We are and have always been, for centuries in this country, having this little fight about who gets opportunities as black people and who doesn’t,” Mitchell said. “That includes colorism; that includes distinctions of where the ship actually landed; it includes if you are (and I am) a descendant of a slave who was born here versus a descendant of slavery from another country. Those distinctions, from my perspective, make no sense ever. But what it does is allow for white nationalist and nativist conversations to be planted in my community.”

A spokesman for Trump Jr. said Trump sent the tweet originally because he had not known that Harris’s mother was Indian.

“Don’s tweet was simply him asking if it’s true that Kamala Harris was half-Indian because it’s not something he had ever heard before and once he saw that folks were misconstruing the intent of his tweet he quickly deleted it,” the spokesman said.

Alexander, who describes himself as black and Arab, said that Harris has a “nasty, lying history with Black people.”

“Me pointing out that Kamala Harris has a mother from India and a father from Jamaica went viral last night because many people assume she descends from Black American Slaves,” he said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “She does not. I corrected Kamala Harris last night because she stole debate time under the premise that she is an African-American when she is in fact a biracial Indian-Jamaican who is a first generation American.”

This isn’t the first time pro-Trump activists have tried to undermine Harris and her authority to speak on issues of race based on her parents.

In January, right-wing operative Jacob Wohl, an associate of Alexander, argued on Twitter that Harris was ineligible to be president because her parents weren’t from the United States, even though she was born in California. Wohl’s claims were circulated by other right-wing figures online, in an attempt to create a birther-style question about whether Harris could legally run for president.

Mitchell, who has monitored harassment campaigns against black women since 2013, said Harris is facing a new, digital permutation of the birther conspiracy theory attacks President Trump levied against Obama.

“It’s a different iteration of birtherism: ‘where were you born?’ She was born in Oakland!” Mitchell said, referring to the conspiracy theory that falsely accused Obama of being born outside the U.S. “The conversation is, no matter who we are, our blackness should be challenged because what we look like is not ‘American enough.’”

Mitchell draws a distinction between two kinds of fraudulent accounts that try to discredit black people online. Botnets, an automated network of fake accounts, often tweet the same message. The technique allows a message to spread far and fast, with little effort. Some of the copy-paste accounts sharing Alexander’s message appear to be operated by real people.

Mitchell also monitors a trend called “marionetting,” in which someone will falsely pose as a black person online to push ideas that many black people might otherwise find objectionable.

Recent examples of marionetting include a troll who stole a black transgender activist’s picture to pose as a Trump supporter, and Russian-run accounts like “Blacktivist” that impersonated black Americans to sway black voters away from Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“I actually thought the botnet was going to die, because I felt like more marionetting was happening ... After this debate, I saw more botnets responding again, versus just marionetting.”

Fraudulent accounts often rely on stereotypes that trolls hope to apply to a collection of fake accounts, Mitchell said.

“The ‘black enough’ line has been a stereotypical frame,” she said.

“It has always been a systemic narrative. It’s just being expanded in this national debate”

This is not the last we'll see of this. Trump and his minions are no doubt thrilled. And people are, unfortunately, losing their bullshit detectors and common sense in the age of social media.



Never Trumpers have ONE JOB: explain to the wingnuts that Trump is an existential threat.

by digby

These goddamn Never Trumpers really and truly do believe they can dictate to the Democratic Party what policies they can have and how they are allowed to appeal to their own voters. In fact, what they seem to be saying is that the only way to win is to treat their own base like shit and kiss the asses of Republicans.

Implicit in this is the threat that they will vote for the man they consider an existential threat to democracy unless Democrats turn into Jeb Bush, and I mean right now. Oh wait, Jeb Bush was too liberal too. He spoke Spanish all the time. In fact, he was even married to a Latina immigrant.

Here's Steve M on alleged Never Trumper Bret Stephens:
Beto O'Rourke, Cory Booker, and Joaquin Castro spoke Spanish in the first Democratic presidential debate this week. The response from Bret Stephens: Speak English or die.
Amigos demócratas,
Si ustedes siguen así, van a perder las elecciones. Y lo merecerán. 
Translation for the linguistically benighted: “Democratic friends, if you go on like this, you’re going to lose the elections. And you’ll deserve it.”

Channeling Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, Stephens continues, decribing the Democrats as
a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us.
And who exactly are "they" and "we"?
They speak Spanish. We don’t.
Yes, it's horrible when candidates speak Spanish in debates. Regular Americans are morally offended by it, and it instantly seals a candidate's electoral doom. No Republican would ever do such a thing, and any Republican who did would lose the party's nomination instantly....

Oh right. It isn't just Jebbie:

Steve M found a number of videos of GWB speaking Spanish. That wasn't always a crime in the GOP> In fact, they once believed that the Latinx vote was something worth fighting for. Now not so much.

I have news for them. The Democrats tried to be more like Republicans. The Sistah Soljah's their base to death. Over and over and over again. For a couple of decades. Now we have Donald Trump.

So please, do something useful and spend the next 16 months explaining to your fellow Republicans why it's more important for them to save the country than it is to worry about candidates speaking Spanish.

That's your job now. Ambassador to the wingnuts. Make them understand. YOU bring them over to the light.

If you keep hectoring the Democrats instead, validating this idiotic premise that they are the problem, we'll know your objections to Trumpism have been shallow and stupid and in the end, you'll go along with the authoritarian program. I'm pretty sure I know the answer.

Steve M addresses all the other fallacies
in Bret Stephens' steaming op-ed pile. I didn't have the stomach for it.

Highlights of the Great Embarrassment

by digby

I. Just. Don't. Know. What. To. Say.

It would be one thing if this arrogant dunderhead surrounded himself with smart people. But his top advisers are his vacuous daughter and her air-headed husband.

God, that's depressing.

Even more depressing is the fact that it's not at all clear that he can't be re-elected.


Very stable genius at work

by digby

That's the man we're supposed to believe is capable of thwarting adversaries like Putin, Xi and MBS. Let's just say they it's not that hard to get his number. He's an imbecile.

Putin was expressing a broadly fashionable argument that he has promoted for years, and that has recently taken hold among reactionaries in several Western countries, including the United States. Their critique is not of liberalism in the sense of the American center-left tradition identified with the Democratic party, but the longer historical tradition of liberalism that emerged from the theories of John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and other traditional philosophers whose beliefs created the foundation for democratic government. Most graduates of an elite college who took any humanities courses would have some rough familiarity with their work, which is a cornerstone of what’s called a “liberal education.” The “West,” of course, refers to Europe and the United States, where liberal ideas first took hold.

Trump did not recognize this debate at all. Instead, he concluded that “the west” means California, and “liberalism” means the Democratic Party.

Believing Putin had criticized life in California rather than America’s philosophy of government, Trump explained that, yes, Putin is correct that things are terrible in cities in California (“he does see things that are happening in the United States that would probably preclude him from saying how wonderful it is.”) But, Trump added, this is the fault of the Democrats, not him. He then assured reporters he’s not offended, because Putin has congratulated him on the overall state of the American economy.

It's not important that a president has read Locke and Mill. But a normal president would have been briefed on this interview with Putin and would certainly know that he wasn't talking about California fergawdsakes!!!

Here's the interview
in which Vladimir Putin said he thinks Western democracy is finished. It's very revealing. He sounds like Steve Bannon.


A simple choice, really

by Tom Sullivan

Andy Dufresne: [to Red] I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
Shawshank Redemption, 1994

After this week's events in the Supreme Court, Andy pretty much sums up what it feels like trapped inside a world where the freedom to control your own fate seems evanescent. Even so, Andy resolved not to resign himself to his fate.

The day after the inauguration of the 45th president in 2017, three to five million (by one estimate) joined the Women's March in the United States alone. More than the combined military forces of the United States. The largest protest in U.S. history.

While impressive, a one-day march is not enough to make real change. Spark it, maybe, but not accomplish it. The blue wave last November demonstrated the Resistance was more than a one-day protest. Democratic women wore white to the 2019 State of the Union address in tribute to U.S. suffragists to drive home the point. The 19th Amendment first passed Congress one hundred years ago this month. The amendment was ratified a year later.

The fight for women's suffrage took 70 years. No matter the opposition and setbacks, nevertheless they persisted.

As disheartening as this week was for those of fighting to unrig districts rigged against them for the last decade, persistence will pay. Eventually. It did for the right's project to pack the courts with conservative ideologues. They worked that plan for decades. They passed measures across the country to suppress the vote and gerrymander as many districts as they could. They were persistent.

You cannot win if you don't show up to play. You cannot compete if you don't have game. So with a strategy meeting on tap this morning, I'll republish a post about a pet project for teaching under-resourced county committees how to help local candidates win in districts where they don't now:

This is what more looks like

by Tom Sullivan

On Monday here at Hullabaloo, I wrote about the 1st Democratic Candidates Conference (DemCanCon) that took place last weekend outside Washington, D.C.

I met lots of what one trainer called "mom & pop" candidates: people who finally had enough and filed for office for the first time. Most have no idea what they've gotten into, but this conference offered to get them up to speed. About 250 attendees. A small, but enthusiastic group from 24 states.

After finding out where they were from and what they were running for, I asked what help (post-primary) they could expect from the local parties in their districts.

The question generally drew a pregnant pause, a sigh, and perhaps an eye roll.
They were from Maryland, Virginia, New York, Indiana and elsewhere. Almost without exception the same reaction.

It's why I wrote my For The Win get-out-the-vote primer for county officers.

Firsthand experience is behind it.

I visited a western NC county a week ahead of the congressional election (yes, Heath Shuler was top of the ticket that year) to check on their preparations. What had they done? What else did they need to do? What did they need from us?

"We're done," they said.

Excuse me?

"We called through the phone list and put out the signs."

They saw us looking sideways at each other.

"You mean, you want us to do ... more?"

Yes. On Election Night, more suddenly looked pretty good.


An experienced election protection attorney from Boston was in our headquarters on GOTV Weekend. On Election Day, he walks up 3 hrs before the polls close and says with some admiration, "I've never seen an operation like this."

When the polls closed, the county picked up two state legislative seats in a year when Democrats across the country got the shit kicked out of them.

Volunteers arrived in a 15-passenger van from Nashville on GOTV weekend. One had come from as far away as Memphis (IIRC). They'd given up on Tennessee and wanted a chance to help flip North Carolina blue.

After sizing up the place, one visitor said, "We don't have anything like this."

And isn't that the problem?

I explained it to candidates at DemCanCon this way.

If you're not in a swing state, especially if you're in a more rural county in not-a-swing-state (including blue states), Barack Obama isn't parachuting in a team from Michigan Avenue to show you how to do a high-energy, months-long, countywide GOTV and electioneering effort. The governor's race doesn't show up out there. The U.S. Senate race doesn't set up out there.

Want to know one reason why Democrats get no traction in the Plains States? I tried to email Kansas, South Dakota, and Montana counties yesterday and got pissed off. The white counties in otherwise red-shaded states are either unorganized or have no email or Facebook contact information on the state party websites (and probably not even a Facebook page not listed there). That's 40 percent of Kansas counties, half of Montana, and 70 percent of South Dakota. That's counties, not population, naturally. Okay, very rural, low-density areas I have the luxury of not trying to organize. And maybe it is because there are no Democrats out there. Even so. Those states elect U.S. senators. If Democrats don't show up to play, they forfeit. Look at south-central Georgia.

​ So, I don't want to hear "This is the most important election of our lifetime" again. Ever. Because if you think short-term, you never invest in the future. As they say around the office, "Why is there never time to do it right, but always time to do it over?" Democrats do it over — and over — on a two-year cycle, in many places starting each time from scratch.

Turnover from the DNC on down, plus killing off the 50-state strategy, keeps local teams from building over time. State parties teach local committees to pull poorly targeted call lists from VoteBuilder, pat them on the head, and send them on their way. Not good enough.

I'm sending links to county chairs across the country, bypassing state-party bottlenecks and concentrating on places Democratic muckety mucks ignore. It's a lead a horse to water effort. For The Win is not comprehensive, nor meant to be. We just need to lower the bar to higher performance.
I sent those links to 2,300 county chairs last year. Hundreds of others in 49 states requested the 2018 edition. Over 1,000 downloaded it. There were even a few thank-yous along the way. The 2020 version is due out in January.

You cannot win if you don't show up to play. You cannot compete if you don't have game.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday Night Soother

by digby

Baby Red Panda!

Moonlight, a 4-year-old red panda, gave birth to a cub overnight June 12 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Moonlight and the cub appear to be doing well and keepers are cautiously optimistic that the cub will continue to grow. The new mom has been very attentive to the cub, only leaving the nest box where it was born for very short periods of time to eat and drink. Keepers have been monitoring the pair via a closed-circuit camera in the nest box and they have seen Moonlight, an experienced mom, grooming and nursing the cub.

When Moonlight left the nest box June 19, keepers took the opportunity to perform a quick visual exam and weigh the cub. It weighed in at 6 ounces (172 grams), which is normal for a newborn. Keepers and veterinarians will continue to monitor the pair closely during the next several weeks, which are the most critical for a newborn cub.

The cub will stay in the nest box for the next two to three months, where it will eventually open its eyes and begin walking. It is covered in a thick woolly layer of fur that will become thicker and in the coming months turn the iconic rusty red color that gives red pandas their name. The cub will stay with Moonlight until it is 1 year to 18 months old.

Red pandas are native to high-altitude bamboo forests in Asia. Their main threats are habitat loss due to logging and human development. They are classified as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The number of red pandas living in the wild has declined by as much as 50% during the past 20 years. SCBI participates in the Red Panda Species Survival Plan and breeds and studies red pandas to create an insurance population against extinction. It is home to five red pandas including the new born cub.

SCBI plays a leading role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability.

You want more cute? Here's some mega-cute:

I need to watch these all evening ...


"You can't break up rat families"

by digby

The "Cooch" speaks for the nihilist Trumpies

Cuccinelli, an immigration hard-liner nominated this month by President Trump to lead the federal agency that oversees legal immigration, including asylum, made the case while speaking on “Erin Burnett OutFront.” The news anchor asked whether Cuccinelli believed the graphic photo could be compared to the 2015 photo of the 3-year-old Syrian boy who had washed up on a beach, an image that had turned the world’s attention to the anguish confronting refugees trying to reach Europe. Would the photo of this father and daughter become a symbol of the Trump administration’s policies on the border? Burnett asked.

Cuccinelli said no, “in fact the opposite.”

“The reason we have tragedies like that on the border is because that father didn’t wait to go through the asylum process in the legal fashion and decided to cross the river and not only died but his daughter died tragically as well,” said Cuccinelli, 50. “Until we fix the attractions in our asylum system, people like that father and that child are going to continue to come through a dangerous trip.”

Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia, has long peddled far-right fare, supporting immigration causes that ultimately would land him in the president’s good graces. But his extreme positions have turned off some moderate Republicans. As a state lawmaker in Virginia, Cuccinelli once sponsored a bill that would strip undocumented immigrants’ U.S.-born children of their citizenship. He supported a bill banning undocumented immigrants from attending any state colleges. He has said a D.C. ordinance that doesn’t let animal-control workers kill rats is worse than U.S. immigration policy because, “You can’t break up rat families.”

That's why Trump chose him.