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PEF AT THE CEA 2022

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 1:13pm in

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Once again , PEF will be at the Canadian Economics Association (CEA) annual conference!

We now have the official schedule for the 2022 CEA meetings to be held at Carleton University, Ottawa.
The conference will be on-line Tuesday, May 31 and in-person Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 4.

Please note that in addition to the sessions below, the PEF annual general meeting (AGM) is on Saturday June 4 from 2 pm to 3:30 pm..

PEF sessions are below. The full CEA program is available at: https://cea2022.exordo.com/programme/at-a-glance .

Tuesday 31 May 2022
11:30 am to 1 pm (online)
PEF Panel: Heterodox Economics and Teaching Economic Principles
Chair: Jesse Hajer (U Manitoba)
Participants: Brenda Spotton Visano (York U), Rod Hill (UNB), Tony Myatt (UNB), Joelle LeClaire (SUNY Buffalo State), Jim Stanford (Centre for Future Work)

Tuesday 31 May 2022
1:15 pm to 2:45 pm (online)
PEF Panel: Explorations of Recent Inflation Trends
Chair: David Pringle (Independent)
Participants: Kaylie Tiessen (Unifor), Marc Lavoie (UOttawa), Paul Jacobson (Jacobson Consulting Inc.)

Tuesday 31 May 2022
3:00 pm to 4:30 pm (online)
PEF Panel: Consumer Financial Vulnerability in Canada: Looking Beyond Over-Indebtedness
Chair: Brenda Spotton Visano (York U)
Participants: Jerry Buckland (CMU), Andrea Hasler (George
Washington U), Bettina Schneider (First Nations U of Canada), Brenda Spotton Visano (York U).

Friday June 3, 2022
10:30 am to 12:00 pm (in-person)
PEF Panel: Are Labour Shortages Really Constraining the Canadian Economy?
Chair: Andrew Sharpe (CSLS)
Participants: Robin Shaban (Vivic Research), Tony Bonen (LMIC), Stephen Tapp (Canadian Chamber of Commerce), Kaylie Tiessen (Unifor)

Saturday June 4, 2022
8:30 am to 10:00 pm (in-person)
PEF Session: What Do Unions Do?
Chair: Fletcher Baragar (U Maniotba)
Presenters: Eric Hoyt (Stockton U), Ian Hudson (U Manitoba), Garry Sran (Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario)

Saturday June 4, 2022
10:30 am to 12:00 pm (in-person)
PEF Session: Do Unions Make a Difference?
Chair: Lindsay McLaren (U Calgary)
Presenters: Robert Chernomas (U Manitoba), Anupam Das (Mount Royal U), Jim Stanford (Centre for Future Work)

Also, the PEF Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday June 4, 2022 from 2 pm to 3:30 pm.

We look forward to seeing you at
the CEA.

Conference and registration info: https://www.economics.ca/cpages/cea2022

Sydney Airport announces new ‘Scott Morrison Memorial Terminal’, after Liberals lose PM in disaster

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 9:58am in

Sydney’s international terminal will be renamed ‘The Scott Morrison Memorial Terminal’, to honour the former Prime Minister’s favourite activity: disappearing during a disaster.

A spokesperson for the Liberal Party said it would be a fitting tribute for a man who loved to get away from it all. “He knew this terminal like the back of his hand. When things got a little bit tough, he’d come here to escape. It was definitely one of his favourite spots”.

It is the second Prime Minister the Liberal Party has lost to unforeseen circumstances. Scott Morrison entered into the election in Canberra in April of 2022 but failed to come out again, prompting a desperate search for answers.

A spokesperson for the PMO said while he was known for his disappearances during national crises, something about this one felt different “He loved travelling and was often seen taking a flight during a national disaster. But we suspect he won’t be back after this one.”

By Matt Harvey @mattharveystuff 

The GOP Agenda

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 8:00am in

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Mehdi Hassan:

In just 60 seconds, I listed the dozens of common-sense, hugely-popular Democratic bills that House Republicans have voted against: from baby formula money to free hearing aids to background checks to $1400 checks to many more.

Originally tweeted by Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) on May 23, 2022.

Keep this in mind when you hear the Republicans say they will help all the women who are forced to give birth against their will keep this in mind. The only thing they will ever willing spend money on is rich people and weapons.

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Actual righteousness or self-righteousness?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 6:30am in

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The Southern Baptists have a choice to make

A new report on the Southern Baptists’ cover up of sexual abuse has the religious right in a tough place. Should they do something about it or simply dismiss it as more “woke” nonsense designed to turn men into pansies and empower women to dominate them? There’s every reason to assume they will do the latter, I’m afraid. The minute they made common cause with the lying, libertine, con man Donald Trump, I’m afraid they revealed their true character.

Here’s Ed Kilgore’s take on the whole ugly story:

The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination, with over 14 million members, and a powerhouse in conservative politics and culture. It is famed for its self-conception as an assembly of believers committed to righteous living according to a strict ethos based on biblical inerrancy. But in 2019, Southern Baptists were roiled by an elaborate investigative report from the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News documenting 700 cases of sexual abuse by clergy and other employees of SBC churches:

The newspapers spent nearly a year building a database of church leaders and volunteers who pleaded guilty or were convicted of sex crimes in the past 20 years. Most are now in prison or are registered sex offenders. More are from Texas than from any other state …

Victims of sexual abuse had pleaded for the SBC to act, saying it was allowing predators to move from church to church. But the SBC in 2008 rejected all proposals to produce such a registry, saying the organization could not tell its 47,000 member churches whom to hire or ordain.

As voices within and beyond the denomination blasted the SBC for its apparent refusal to deal with a sexual-abuse crisis, the 2021 annual meeting of the SBC authorized a third-party investigation into the allegations. The designated investigator, Guidepost Solutions, has now issued a scathing 400-page report making it clear not only that the allegations were accurate but that the SBC’s powerful executive committee had itself tracked abuse cases for years and deliberately covered them up. Here’s the core finding of the “bombshell report,” according to the Houston Chronicle:

For 20 years, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention — including a former president now accused of sexual assault — routinely silenced and disparaged sexual abuse survivors, ignored calls for policies to stop predators, and dismissed reforms that they privately said could protect children but might cost the SBC money if abuse victims later sued.

The SBC professed helplessness in dealing with sexual abuse, though it had managed to militantly stamp out any sign of “liberalism” in its churches following the “conservative resurgence” that took over the once proudly decentralized denomination in the 1980s and 1990s. The Chronicle reported:

Anyone who contacted the national office to report a suspected case of sexual abuse at a Southern Baptist church was either met with silence or told that the SBC had no power to take action against congregations that concealed abuses.

The SBC’s governing documents allowed for the removal of churches that ordained women or “endorse” homosexuality, but leaders said they had no such oversight when it came to churches led by convicted sex offenders. “Behind the curtain, the lawyers were advising to say nothing and do nothing, even when the callers were identifying predators still in SBC pulpits,” Guidepost found.

While the sexual-abuse cover-up did not follow strict factional lines, the same people who demanded an investigation of the sexual-abuse cover-up were calling for greater SBC accountability on racism and were warning of the denomination’s political alliance with Donald Trump and the Republican Party. The most prominent dissenter, former denominational spokesman Russell Moore, who cut ties with the SBC last year over its stonewalling of various concerns, told Christianity Today the new report showed the sexual-abuse scandal was far worse than he had realized:

For years, leaders in the Executive Committee said a database — to prevent sexual predators from quietly moving from one church to another, to a new set of victims — had been thoroughly investigated and found to be legally impossible, given Baptist church autonomy. My mouth fell open when I read documented proof in the report that these very people not only knew how to have a database, they already had one.

Allegations of sexual violence and assault were placed, the report concludes, in a secret file in the SBC Nashville headquarters. It held over 700 cases. Not only was nothing done to stop these predators from continuing their hellish crimes, staff members were reportedly told not to even engage those asking about how to stop their child from being sexually violated by a minister. Rather than a database to protect sexual abuse victims, the report reveals that these leaders had a database to protect themselves.

The SBC Executive Committee issued a statement saying “they were grieved by the report and committed to ‘doing all we can to prevent future instances of sexual abuse’ in churches,” the Chronicle reports.

The timing of the Guidepost Solution report is important: Next month, the SBC is holding its annual meeting in Anaheim, California, and the fresh allegations could take some of the wind out of the sails of militant conservatives who want the SBC to double down on political engagement by doing more to fight “critical race theory” and any hint of tolerance for feminism or LGBTQ+ rights. The designated ultraconservative candidate for the SBC presidency is Florida pastor Tom Ascol, who, according to Baptist News, is focused on the alleged threat of liberalism rather than conservative hypocrisy: “One of the major wedge issues between current SBC leadership — which is conservative by any external standard — and the groups supporting Ascol … is fear that the SBC is sliding into ‘liberalism’ and its leaders are being too influenced by a ‘woke’ agenda that is feminizing men and challenging male authority.”

I’ll be shocked if they don’t go that way.

The former head of the SBC Russell Moore who resigned in protest over this and other misdeeds wrote a piece about this that opens like this:

They were right. I was wrong to call sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) a crisis. Crisis is too small a word. It is an apocalypse.

Someone asked me a few weeks ago what I expected from the third-party investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. I said I didn’t expect to be surprised at all. How could I be? I lived through years with that entity. I was the one who called for such an investigation in the first place.

And yet, as I read the report, I found that I could not swipe the screen to the next page because my hands were shaking with rage. That’s because, as dark a view as I had of the SBC Executive Committee, the investigation uncovers a reality far more evil and systemic than I imagined it could be.

Yeah. I would add that their approach to politics is more evil and systematic than any of imagined it would be, Listening to their flock out there screeching about morality is pretty hard to take these days.

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Great and rising inequality

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 5:57am in

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from Jamie Morgan An interest in great inequality and rising inequality have become prominent features of our times. According to Oxfam in 2019 the 26 richest people on the planet had equivalent wealth to the 3.8 billion who comprise the lower 50% of the world population. The previous year it required the top 43 to […]

Mutual grievance among friends

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 5:00am in

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It’s a powerful bonding experience

 Credit:Nathanial Schmidt, special to ProPublica

If all politics is local, we really do have a problem. This story by ProPublica about one guy in Wisconsin shows that many of the battles we wage are going to happen on the ground. I hope progressives are getting prepared for this

Jay Stone grew up in the rough-and-tumble world of Chicago ward politics, the son of a longtime city alderman. But his own forays into politics left him distrustful of Chicago Democrats.

When he ran for alderman in 2003, he was crushed at the polls after party leaders sent city workers out to campaign against him. Even his own father didn’t endorse him.

Then when Stone sought the mayor’s office in 2010, he only mustered a few hundred of the 12,500 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. He filed a federal lawsuit over the requirement and lost.

His father, Bernard Stone, who held office for 38 years, once told the Chicago Tribune: “My son is very good at what he’s trained to do. And that’s not politics.”

Jay Stone’s training was in hypnotherapy, and he eventually walked away from Chicago politics, carving out a living using hypnosis to help people with anxiety, weight gain, nicotine addiction and other issues. Only in retirement, and after a move to Wisconsin, did he finally find his political niche.

In 2020, Stone played a crucial, if little-known, role in making Wisconsin a hotbed of conspiracy theories that Democrats stole the state’s 10 electoral votes from then-President Donald Trump. The outcry emanating from Wisconsin has cast Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as a force of untoward political influence and helped create a backlash against using private grants, including large donations from Zuckerberg, to assist election officials across the country.

In Wisconsin, Stone has finally been embraced politically, by activists and politicians who, like him, didn’t approve of the so-called “Zuckerbucks” or of big-city Democratic mayors. They, too, are unhappy with the way the 2020 presidential election was run in Wisconsin and how it turned out. And they, too, show no inclination of giving up, even when their claims have been rejected and other Republicans have told them it’s time to move on.

“The best part of getting involved in politics in Wisconsin is the wonderful people I’ve been meeting,” Stone said in an interview. “They’re just a great group of men and women that I admire and respect.”

[Do not underestimate the power of community in fueling all this grievance. people bond ofverthis stuff. And they are having fun doing it.]

The questioning of the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s 20,000-vote victory in Wisconsin continues thanks to Stone and others who have emerged to take on outsize roles after the election. Among them: a retired travel industry executive who has alleged voter fraud at nursing homes. Ten alternate GOP electors who signed documents to try to subvert the certification of Biden’s election. And some state legislators who are still looking for ways to hand the state to Trump, a year and a half after the election.

Stone hasn’t garnered much public attention, but records indicate that in the summer of 2020 he was the first person to complain to state authorities about grant money accepted by local election officials. The funds were earmarked for face masks, shields and other safety supplies, as well as hazard pay, larger voting facilities, vote-by-mail processing, drop boxes and educational outreach about absentee voting.

Stone, however, saw the election funding, which came from a Chicago nonprofit, as a way to sway the election for Biden by helping bring more Democratic-leaning voters to the polls in Wisconsin’s five largest cities.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission rejected Stone’s claim last year, on the grounds that he didn’t live in any of the cities he mentioned and that the complaint did not allege any violations that the commission had the authority to investigate. A separate complaint Stone filed with the Federal Election Commission, in which he objects to the Zuckerberg money, has not been resolved.

Nonetheless, the idea that the election was somehow rigged lives on.

Chief among the election deniers is Michael Gableman, who served on the state Supreme Court for a decade. A Trump ally, Gableman was named as special counsel by the GOP-controlled State Assembly to investigate the legitimacy of Biden’s victory in Wisconsin. Not only did Gableman give Stone’s accusations a platform, he took them even further. In his review for the Assembly, Gableman labeled the grants a form of bribery.

Gableman expressed his admiration for Stone during a March interview on the “Tucker Carlson Today” show, which streams online.

It’s “a private citizen, a guy named Jay Stone, who really deserves a lot of credit,” Gableman said, referring to questions about the election grants.

“He saw all of this coming,” Gableman said. “And he’s not a lawyer. I don’t know what his particular training is — he’s trained in the medical field. He filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Elections Commission back in August of 2020, well before the election. And he foresaw all of this, he foresaw the partisan nature of all of the Zuckerberg money and all of the Zuckerberg people coming in to influence the election.”

Gableman, who has not responded to requests for an interview, had hired Stone as a paid consultant for his review by the time he appeared on Carlson’s show.

But that’s not the only thing keeping Stone from a quiet retirement in Pleasant Prairie, not far from the Illinois border, where he grows his own fruits and vegetables and heats his home only with firewood. Once again, he’s got his eyes on political office. This time he’s running for the Wisconsin State Senate.

He could very easily win and you know what a guy like him will do with that power.

Read on. It’s a fascinating look at the post-democracy American right.

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A Profile in Courage

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 3:52am in

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“I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy,”

This took guts:

A diplomat in Russia’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva quit his post on Monday, expressing shame over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and describing it as a crime against both countries.

Boris Bondarev, a counselor in the Russian mission since 2019 who described himself as a 20-year veteran of Russia’s Foreign Ministry, announced his resignation in an email sent to diplomats in Geneva on Monday. His resignation is the most high-profile gesture of protest so far made by a Russian diplomat over the war in Ukraine.

“For 20 years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on Feb. 24 of this year,” Mr. Bondarev said, referring to the date that President Vladimir V. Putin sent Russian forces into Ukraine.

“The aggressive war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine and in fact against the entire Western world is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia,” he added.

Diplomats in Geneva confirmed that they had received the email. Mr. Bondarev, reached by phone after responding to a message on his LinkedIn account, confirmed sending it to several dozen colleagues at other missions and said he had tendered his resignation Monday morning.

Mr. Bondarev, 41, is listed as a counselor in the Russian mission on the website of the United Nations; he sent The New York Times a copy of his diplomatic passport to confirm his identity.

Russia’s mission to the United Nations in Geneva said that its spokesperson was not immediately available, but that it would soon issue a statement.

Mr. Bondarev, who dealt with disarmament issues and was described by Western officials in Geneva as a mid-ranking diplomat, delivered a bitter denunciation of Russia’s leadership.

“Those who conceived this war want only one thing — to remain in power for ever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity,” he said in a statement attached to his email to diplomats. “To achieve that they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes.”

He added: “It’s been already three months since my government launched a bloody assault on Ukraine and it’s been very hard to keep my mind more or less sane when all about were losing theirs.”

He should have resigned three months ago, he said, when Russia invaded, but he had delayed because he had unfinished family business and “had to gather my resolve.”

Mr. Bondarev went on to deliver a stinging critique of Russia’s foreign service and its chief diplomat, Sergey V. Lavrov. The ministry had been his home, he said, but over the last 20 years the lies and unprofessionalism had reached levels that he described as “simply catastrophic.”

“Today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not about diplomacy. It is all about warmongering, lies and hatred,” he wrote, and was contributing to Russia’s isolation.

Mr. Lavrov was “a good illustration of the degradation of this system,” Mr. Bondarev said. In 18 years, the Russian foreign minister had gone from being a professional and educated intellectual esteemed by colleagues to threatening the world with nuclear weapons.

“I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy,” Mr. Bondarev wrote.

He needs to stay away from open windows.

I would hope that those who insist upon defending the Russian invasion as a necessary strike against Nazism will listen to this man.

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Vote suppression vs election subversion

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 2:30am in

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Subversion is the long game

The whole country has its eyes on Georgia this week in anticipation of the big Republican primary showdown between Gov. Brian Kemp and former President Donald Trump. Trump isn’t actually in the race, of course but he might as well be. He reportedly harangued former Sen. David Perdue to run in an effort to vanquish Trump’s hated enemy Kemp, who refused to help the then-president overturn the 2020 election.

Likewise, Trump has energetically endorsed Rep. Jody Hice to replace Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state who famously released the recording of a phone call from Trump in which he asked Raffensperger to “find” the necessary votes to hand him the state’s electoral votes. The most recent polling has Raffensperger and Hice likely headed to a runoff — but Kemp is probably heading for a landslide victory. Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, is scheduled to show up at a rally for Kemp on Monday, in one of the biggest signs of a permanent Trump-Pence split. 

Trump is predicted to have at least one winner on the day: Former football star Herschel Walker will be the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Raphael Warnock. There are so many questions about Walker’s fitness that he is far from guaranteed to win in the fall. So Trump is looking at a possible 2022 shutout in the vital swing state of Georgia.

But so what? All that means is that Trump’s followers may love him but they don’t think they have to follow his recommendations for other offices. If it’s supposed to signal that the rest of the party will then reject his anti-democratic agenda, there is no evidence they have any intention of doing that.

Let’s face facts: They don’t want to. It’s their best (and perhaps only) path to victory.

Apparently, early voting is very heavy for the Georgia primary, and many in the media see that as proof that concerns over the vote-suppression legislation enacted by Republicans was overblown.

Perhaps the voters of Georgia have accepted that they have to jump through ridiculous hoops to exercise their right to vote and are determined not to let it stop them. That certainly doesn’t make it right, especially since there was no reason to enact any of those restrictions in the first place. It’s important to note that laws against mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes are only a small part of the assault on democracy Republicans have been conducting for the past year and a half. Those things are unfair, of course, but voters can at least overcome them with effort. The even more serious problem is election subversion.

In April of 2021, the New York Times’ Nate Cohn sounded the alarm:

Beyond any provisions on voting itself, the new Georgia election law risks making election subversion easier. It creates new avenues for partisan interference in election administration. This includes allowing the state elections board, now newly controlled by appointees of the Republican State Legislature, to appoint a single person to take control of typically bipartisan county election boards, which have important power over vote counting and voter eligibility.

The law also gives the Legislature the authority to appoint the chair of the state election board and two more of its five voting members, allowing it to appoint a majority of the board. It strips the secretary of state of the chair and a vote. Even without this law, there would still be a risk of election subversion: Election officials and administrators all over the country possess important powers, including certification of election results, that could be abused in pursuit of partisan gain.

This has been happening all over the country, but the media has been strangely lackadaisical about reporting it. So it’s hard to grasp just how successful Republicans have been at putting these new laws in place, or where the greatest threat of the next coup will come from. This past weekend, the New York Times ran an important front-page story pulling together all the threads of this story from across the nation. It’s very sobering.

Their report found that “at least 357 sitting Republican legislators in closely contested battleground states have used the power of their office to discredit or try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election,” which adds up to 44% of all elected Republicans in state houses across the nine states where the election was the closest. The damning statistics keep coming: about 23% of Republican legislators “took steps to delay the vote count or overturn the election,” 11% supported sending alternate slates of Trump electors, 7% were in favor of “decertification” of the election after the fact (which is not possible) and 24% voted for “audits” of election results, to be conducted by blatantly partisan outside firms.

The Times notes that some Republicans have resisted all this, and that many of the craziest schemes have not been enacted. But their analysis concludes that in all the battleground states, groundwork has been laid for more robust interference with election results. It’s clear that this is now on the GOP agenda, and in close elections we will see Republicans seek the advantage through creating chaos and uncertainty, potentially creating circumstances that could invalidate or overturn the will of the voters:

In an interview with The Times, Mr. Trump acknowledged that in deciding whom to endorse in state legislative races, he is looking for candidates who want state legislatures to have a say in naming presidential electors — a position that could let politicians short-circuit the democratic process and override the popular vote.

Republicans in Pennsylvania just nominated a far-right extremist and 2020 election denier for governor, who promises that if elected he will make sure that the GOP-majority legislature has the final word on which candidate is certified as the winner of the state’s electoral votes. Unless the Congress gets off the dime and passes some reform to the Electoral Count Act, it seems more likely than not that some swing-state Republican governor is going to try this.

Back in 2000, Republicans first got a taste of how to use the levers of local political power, combined with a partisan Supreme Court majority, to declare themselves the winner in a close election. (The “independent state legislature doctrine” that underlies this plotting was first raised in Bush v. Gore by the conservative justices.) The GOP no longer has even the slightest concern about the legitimacy conferred by a popular-vote victory, since it’s only won one in the last 30 years.

Trump may have turbocharged the Republicans’ anti-democratic strategy with his Big Lie, but the party is smoothly adjusting itself to the idea that the norms and traditions that kept power-hungry politicians from exploiting the flaws in the system, for fear of the people losing faith in democracy, are no longer necessary. That stuff is for losers, and they simply don’t care about any of it anymore. 

They did make it harder to cast a ballot but perhaps the voters of Georgia have accepted that they have to jump through ridiculous hoops to exercise their right to vote and are determined not to let it stop them? That certainly doesn’t make it right, especially since there was no reason to do it in the first place. But it’s important to note that these laws against mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes as they’ve enacted in Georgia are only a small part of the assault on democracy the GOP has been conducting for the past year and a half. They are unfair but voters can at least overcome them with effort. The even more serious problem is election subversion.

In April of 2021, the NY Times’s Nate Cohn sounded the alarm, writing:

Beyond any provisions on voting itself, the new Georgia election law risks making election subversion easier. It creates new avenues for partisan interference in election administration. This includes allowing the state elections board, now newly controlled by appointees of the Republican State Legislature, to appoint a single person to take control of typically bipartisan county election boards, which have important power over vote counting and voter eligibility.

The law also gives the Legislature the authority to appoint the chair of the state election board and two more of its five voting members, allowing it to appoint a majority of the board. It strips the secretary of state of the chair and a vote. Even without this law, there would still be a risk of election subversion: Election officials and administrators all over the country possess important powers, including certification of election results, that could be abused in pursuit of partisan gain.

This has been happening all over the country but the news media has been strangely lackadaisical about reporting it so it’s hard to grasp just how successful they’ve been at putting these new laws into place and where the greatest threats of the next coup will come from. This past weekend, the NY Times did an important front page story pulling together all the threads of this story from across the nation. It’s very sobering.

They found that “at least 357 sitting Republican legislators in closely contested battleground states have used the power of their office to discredit or try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election” which adds up to nearly half (44%) of all Republicans in state houses across the nine states where the election was the closest.

-23% of them “took steps to delay the vote count or overturn the election by supporting lawsuits or by signing letters to Congress or former Vice President Mike Pence.”

-11% of them supported sending alternate electors to overturn the election.

-7% were in favor of “decertification” of the election long after the fact.

-24% voted for an “audit” of the election results, what the Times calls a “gateway” to further actions.

The Times notes that there has been resistance from some Republicans and that many of their craziest schemes have not been enacted. But their analysis looks at all the battleground states and the groundwork has been laid. It’s clear that this is now on the GOP agenda and in the case of close elections we will see more of this by Republicans who see the advantage in creating chaos and uncertainty, potentially creating the circumstances that could overturn the will of the voters.

In an interview with The Times, Mr. Trump acknowledged that in deciding whom to endorse in state legislative races, he is looking for candidates who want state legislatures to have a say in naming presidential electors — a position that could let politicians short-circuit the democratic process and override the popular vote.

Republicans in Pennsylvania just nominated a far-right extremist and 2020 election denier for governor who promises that if he’s elected he will ensure that the GOP legislature will have the final word on which candidate the state will certify to have won the presidential election. Unless the US Congress gets off the dime and passes some kind of electoral count act reform, it seems more likely than not that he or some other swing state Republican governor is going to try this.

Back in 2000 Republicans first got a sense of how to use the levers of local political power combined with the help of a partisan Supreme Court majority to declare themselves the winner in a close election. (The “independent state legislature doctrine” that underlies this plotting was first raised in Bush v Gore by the far right justices.) The Party certainly no longer has even the slightest concern about the legitimacy conferred by a popular vote victory since they have only won one in the last 30 years.

Trump may have turbo-charged the Republican’s anti-democratic strategy with his Big Lie but it’s not hard to see that the Party is quite smoothly adjusting itself to the idea that the norms and traditions that kept power hungry politicians from exploiting the flaws in the system for fear of the people losing faith in democracy or looking illegitimate in their eyes are no longer necessary. They simply don’t care about any of that anymore.

Salon

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SMH

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 24/05/2022 - 12:30am in

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Are Democrats bringing a butter knife to a gun fight?

If it’s Monday….

Where does anyone get such an impression? Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson pounds his head against the wall at “hapless” Democrats and this report from The Guardian:

The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol is expected to stage six public hearings in June on how Donald Trump and some allies broke the law as they sought to overturn the 2020 election results, according to sources familiar with the inquiry.

The hearings are set to be a pivotal political moment for the country as the panel aims to publicly outline the potentially unlawful schemes that tried to keep the former president in office despite his defeat at the hands of Joe Biden.

According to a draft schedule reviewed by the Guardian, the select committee intends to hold six hearings, with the first and last in prime time, where its lawyers will run through how Trump’s schemes took shape before the election and culminated with the Capitol attack.

Just a reminder. The U.S. Senate Watergate Committee investigating “a third-rate burglary” at a D.C. hotel held weeks’ worth of televised hearings in 1973 (Wikipedia):

The first weeks of the committee’s hearings were a national political and cultural event. They were broadcast live during the day on commercial television; at the start, CBSNBC, and ABC covered them simultaneously, and then later on a rotation basis, while PBS replayed the hearings at night.[8] Some 319 hours were broadcast overall, and 85% of U.S. households watched some portion of them.[8] The audio feed also was broadcast, gavel-to-gavel, on scores of National Public Radio stations, making the hearings available to people in their cars and workplaces, and increased the profile of the fledgling broadcast organization.[9]

Cable news today has to fill 24/7 worth of airtime. Why not provide them content, Democrats?

We’re talking here about a plot to overthrow the government supported by a violent insurrection, an assault on the U.S. Capitol in which people died. The perpetrators see their failed attempt as a rehearsal. Wilson is beside himself.

Democrats are playing for a good sportsmanship medal. The GOP is playing for keeps, Democrats. Did you think they were joking?

Those “low-information voters” are not blind.

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American idol: Freedom

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 23/05/2022 - 11:00pm in

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The common good is a casualty to zero-sum competitiveness

Shibboleth, says Websters, is “a word or saying used by adherents of a party, sect, or belief and usually regarded by others as empty of real meaning.” Freedom as used by many Americans has taken on that sense. It has become, as in the original Star Trek episode, a worship word to be spoken as a signifier of tribe, but stripped of meaning. One utters it and genuflects without thinking about why.

What freedom has become is license for radical individualism stripped of responsibility to the matrix of relationships that sustain it. It is the mask worn by market-based thinking to convince us that there is somehow moral content behind consumption. Consideration of the common good is secondary, if a consideration at all. The mask wars of the recent Covid pandemic were fought over whether personal freedom has any obligation to the common good that protects mine while protecting yours.

E.J. Dionne this morning invokes Heather McGhee’s sense that racism harms us all. It frame society as a zero-sum competition between individuals rather than a cooperative venture (Washington Post):

As McGhee told Vox’s Sean Illing, “The zero-sum story is the idea that there’s this massive dividing line between Black people and white people, that they’re on opposite teams, and that progress for people of color has to come at white people’s expense.”

Unions, say political scientists Paul Frymer and Jacob M. Grumbach, reduce tensions between members of different races. They are built on “selling and realizing the idea that workers, no matter their backgrounds, can move forward together.” Not in competition with one another. Aside from the worker-owner power dynamic, this idea threatens the framing of society as a competitive market and the feeling among owners that if workers have more power, they have less.

Neoliberalism works just like that, argues The New Republic‘s Win McCormack:

In an essay titled “Dewey’s Liberalism and Ours,” the political philosophy scholar Michael J. Sandel excavates a divergent form of liberalism developed early in the twentieth century, during the Progressive Era. Classical liberalism, as well as its leftist, modernized version, egalitarian liberalism, were concerned principally with individual rights—in the first case, with individual rights against the state, in the second, with an individual’s right to a decent life in the context of modern industrial civilization. John Dewey’s principal concern was not with rights, however, Sandel explains. His principal focus was on the creation of a democratic process within which individual character and creativity could flourish. Dewey’s philosophy was one of communitarian liberalism (in Sandel’s seemingly paradoxical phraseology), and at its core was the institution of the public school and the process of education for citizenship and democracy.

In Catherine Broom’s interpretation of Dewey’s pronouncements on education, the overriding purpose of schooling was to inculcate in students the desire and the ability to seek the common good for society as a whole. “The public good,” she writes in the abstract of her article, “is understood as an imagined and communal space in which goods valued by society become collectively owned and shared through respectful and open contestation and negotiation. The argument is then made that schools are both part of the public good as well as involved in the development of this concept in students, but that the ability of schools to do this is being damaged by new discourses…. neo-liberal ideology is eroding this democratic idea.”

Let’s not get lost in trying to define neoliberalism this morning, but accept the framing for now. The conception of society as a market has made the very idea of common good subversive. Public schools in this understanding do not exist to better society, the one that sustains personal freedoms. but to better one’s position against one’s neighbors. Education, then, is just another commodity to be consumed.

Jason Blakely in a 2017 Atlantic article argues:

… neoliberalism’s aspirations go way beyond merely propounding a competitive market ideology in the classroom. The proponents of neoliberalism, Blakely explains, have sought to turn school systems themselves into competitive marketplaces, following the neoliberal principle that when public institutions don’t resemble markets by offering a range of consumer choices, the consumer is not really a member of a free society. In education, the neoliberal goal has been to privatize public schools to the extent possible, or, alternatively, to create forms of consumer choice, such as vouchers, that will constrain the public schools. Blakely points out that the battle over school choice is only the latest episode in a decades-long global contest between two models of freedom, the first based on the principles of democracy, the other on a market-directed ideology. The latter is often unpopular with the public, requiring force to carry out its mandates, as was the case in Pinochet’s Chile. “Authoritarianism and market freedoms can and often do go together,” Blakely argues.

The United States is headed there now. Too few will notice so long as gas is cheap and store shelves stock baby food.

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Request a copy of For The Win, 4th Edition, my free, countywide get-out-the-vote planning guide for county committees at ForTheWin.us.
If in a position to Play to win in 2022 (see post first), contact tpostsully at gmail dot com.

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