Tag: win

When Government Works

Unfortunately, it’s not my government, it’s the government of New Zealand, which just passed a law banning semi-auto weapons in response to the terrorist attack on a mosque in Christchurch:

Less than a month after 50 Muslim worshipers in the city of Christchurch were fatally shot in terrorist attacks on two mosques, New Zealand passed a law banning most semiautomatic weapons on Wednesday — a measure supported by all but one of Parliament’s 120 lawmakers.

The passage of the bill means temporary restrictions imposed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern six days after the massacre, to prevent New Zealanders from stockpiling guns before the law went into effect, will now be permanent. The swift action by lawmakers stands in stark contrast to similar efforts in the United States, where nationwide gun control proposals have stalled despite a series of mass shootings in recent years.


The law outlaws military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles, and violators face five years in prison. Some semiautomatic guns will still be allowed, including .22 caliber rifles with magazines holding less than 10 rounds, and shotguns with internal magazines that hold no more than five rounds. All of the weapons used by the Christchurch gunman will be banned, as well as parts and magazines that can convert lower-powered guns to higher-powered versions.


But while sports shooters and farmers were among those who pleaded for exemptions to the restrictions, lawmakers allowed just two: for commercial pest-control businesses and for licensed collectors of guns, or those who want to keep particular guns as heirlooms or mementos. Collectors will be required to remove a part, making the weapons nonoperational, and store that part at a different location.

And in our case, we had elementary school students, and all we got were insincere thoughts and prayers.

F%$# that.

Also, F%$# the NRA.

This May be the Most Epic Exchange on Twitter

Jim Carey, comedian and anti-vaxxer, made what any sensible person would be a fairly anodyne statement about the wages of fascism:

If you’re wondering what fascism leads to, just ask Benito Mussolini and his mistress Claretta. pic.twitter.com/uc2wZl0YBu

— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) March 30, 2019

Alessandra Mussolini, honest to God fascist and grand daughter of il Duce, took umbrage:

You are a bastard

— Alessandra Mussolini (@Ale_Mussolini_) March 31, 2019

Again, a fairly anodyne, and typical, response, at least for a fascist daughter of Mussolini.

But Twitter user, and Italian cartoonist, Sted (@zerorisposte) has a response that knocks it out of the park:

🙃 pic.twitter.com/C8FjM9wcT7

— sted (@zerorisposte) March 31, 2019

This is just beautiful.

Walking the Walk, Bernie Sanders Again

Sanders campaign staff is going to join a union:

Employees on Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign are joining a labor union, officials announced Friday, a historic move that comes amid a Democratic primary featuring intense competition for working-class voters.

All campaign employees below the rank of deputy director will be represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400, the union said, adding that it will start negotiating a collective bargaining agreement as soon as possible.

“We expect this will mean pay parity and transparency on the campaign, with no gender bias or harassment, and equal treatment for every worker, whether they’re in Washington, D.C., Iowa, New Hampshire or anywhere else,” UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici said in a statement.

Sanders (I-Vt.) has faced questions about the way his 2016 campaign handled allegations of sexual misconduct. Asked if the effort to unionize was a response to that, Jonathan Williams, the communications director for UFCW Local 400, said it was not. A Sanders spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on that question.

The Sanders campaign applauded the move to unionize its members.

“We’re honored that his campaign will be the first to have a unionized workforce,” said Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir in a statement. The campaign said it helped pave the way for its workers to organize and did not require an election.

Bernie is walking the walk, unlike, for example, the sexual harassment in the Gillibrand Senate office, and the abusive environment in Klobuchar’s Senate office.

I think that a lot of the Democratic Presidential candidates are trying very hard to fake authenticity, and it shows.

Point, AOC

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez once again completely owns someone who tries to shame her by claiming that after going after unethical banksters, she will go after hard working bartenders.

It turns out that this is already the law of the land:

Actually, in NYC if you’re a bartender and knowingly over-serve to someone, you *ARE* liable for things they do after they leave the bar, because you knowingly put them at risk for $.

Its called the Dram Shop Act. It’s a big reason why bartenders cut people off. And it works. https://t.co/u2XMRuNOyb

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 12, 2019

It’s a legitimate question: Why is a bartender held to a higher liability for their work than the head of Wells-Fargo?

As Henry Farrell observes, this is a strength of AOC, that her, “Retorical style is that it often starts from the fact that non-professional classes know stuff and then builds up – a strong implicit contrast both to common liberal condescension and conservative cult of know-nothing-ism.”

I so want to vote for her to be President in 2024.

Walking the Walk

Not only does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocate for a living wage, she pays her staff a living wage:

Claudia Pagon Marchena, like so many Hill staffers, moonlighted at a Washington, D.C., eatery to pay her rent until she took a job with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She celebrated her last day at her coffee shop job that same week.

That’s because Ocasio-Cortez, who has called on fellow lawmakers to pay their staffs a “living wage,” is making an example out of her own office. The New York Democrat has introduced an unusual policy that no one on her staff will make less than $52,000 a year — an almost unheard of amount for many of the 20-somethings whose long hours make House and Senate offices run.

For Pagon Marchena, 22, the pay bump meant an end to a grueling, seven-day-a-week work schedule that was wearing down her resolve to stay in Washington, where rents average more than $2,000 a month.

“It was unsustainable,” she said. “I needed an office that was going to pay me a fair wage.”

The policy, which has not been previously reported, is the latest sign that Ocasio-Cortez and other progressive Democrats intend to buck a long-established trend of ostentatious austerity in congressional offices. Government watchdog groups say deep cuts to office and committee budgets have contributed to a lack of diversity in Hill offices, high turnover and congressional brain drain.


Ocasio-Cortez is trying to force the conversation. She made national headlines in December by announcing that all interns in her office would make $15 an hour plus benefits — a rarity for Capitol Hill offices in which interns are often unpaid. She has also highlighted the high number of Hill staff members who work side jobs to make up for median salaries as low as $35,000 for staff assistants, the lowest paid positions in congressional offices, according to a Legistorm analysis last year.

“We think that if a person is working, they should make enough to live,” said Corbin Trent, Ocasio-Cortez’s communications director.

I am counting down the days until she can run for President.

A Good Start

Progressive Democrats, most notably Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), managed to stop Nancy Pelosi’s hair hare-brained scheme to require a super-majority to raise taxes:

House Democrats have backed off a proposed rule that would have made it more difficult for them to raise taxes and pass their most ambitious goals, an early victory for the left-flank of the party that is about to take control of the House.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), incoming chair of the House Rules Committee, told lawmakers Tuesday he will not advance “supermajority” rules requiring three-fifths majorities to approve tax hikes for most taxpayers, according to Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

An existing rule created by House Republicans requires a three-fifths supermajority vote in the House to approve any income tax increase. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democratic leaders proposed leaving the supermajority intact for most taxpayers, while scrapping the requirement for the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans and for corporations. But some liberal organizations and lawmakers said that did not go far enough, arguing that even the weaker rule would make it nearly impossible to enact progressive legislation such as Medicare-for-All or free universal college.

“We’re very glad to see that one go away,” said Pocan, who added the progressive caucus repeatedly expressed their disapproval of the proposal. “We ran in 2018 on increasing access to health care, and increasing people’s wages. … Anything that took us off this conversation does not serve us well.”

The fight comes amid a broader battle in the Democratic Party over taxes, as an incoming crop of freshman lawmakers push the party to embrace social programs that require larger tax increases. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) were the first two Democratic lawmakers to publicly express their opposition to the rule.

The New Democrat types like to posture on the deficit, and they HATE doing anything that helps ordinary Americans, and this rule achieved both.

Now let’s kill Pay-Go.

Tweet of the Day

Also, pretty sure one Dante’s Circles of Hell includes scrolling through a mirror-hall of agonizingly similar healthcare plans like “UHG Choice Master HMO 1800” vs “RedGo Option Plus EPO 2000.”

I don’t know one normal person in this country that actually enjoys open enrollment.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) December 2, 2018

Yeah, pretty much.

The biggest problem with Obamacare is that selecting a plan is about as pleasant as Home Proctology Kit, the game.

Iceland, and Now Portugal

Portland has eschewed the confidence fairy, and austerity, and their economy is going gangbusters:

Ramón Rivera had barely gotten his olive oil business started in the sun-swept Alentejo region of Portugal when Europe’s debt crisis struck. The economy crumbled, wages were cut, and unemployment doubled. The government in Lisbon had to accept a humiliating international bailout.

But as the misery deepened, Portugal took a daring stand: In 2015, it cast aside the harshest austerity measures its European creditors had imposed, igniting a virtuous cycle that put its economy back on a path to growth. The country reversed cuts to wages, pensions and social security, and offered incentives to businesses.

The government’s U-turn, and willingness to spend, had a powerful effect. Creditors railed against the move, but the gloom that had gripped the nation through years of belt-tightening began to lift. Business confidence rebounded. Production and exports began to take off — including at Mr. Rivera’s olive groves.

“We had faith that Portugal would come out of the crisis,” said Mr. Rivera, the general manager of Elaia. The company focused on state-of-the-art harvesting technology, and it is now one of Portugal’s biggest olive oil producers. “We saw that this was the best place in the world to invest.”

At a time of mounting uncertainty in Europe, Portugal has defied critics who have insisted on austerity as the answer to the Continent’s economic and financial crisis. While countries from Greece to Ireland — and for a stretch, Portugal itself — toed the line, Lisbon resisted, helping to stoke a revival that drove economic growth last year to its highest level in a decade.

The EU is dominated by Germans, and German economic philosophy, which has not changed since their disastrous policies during the Great Depression, which created the most brutal economic downturn in all of Europe and rise of the Nazis.

Here’s hoping that Merkel’s successor doesn’t stake their political career on inflicting pointless misery on fellow EU members the way that she did.

Economists Discover the Obvious

Economists are now (begrudgingly) announcing that Seattle’s $15/hour minimum wage did not cause an apocalypse, and that, in fact, it benefited the poorest workers in the city:

Earlier this year, a group of business school researchers from the University of Washington and NYU, as well as Amazon, published an influential paper claiming that the rising Seattle minimum wage had decreased take-home pay for workers by 6% due to cuts to work hours — the paper was trumpeted by right-wing ideologues as examples of how “liberal policies” hurt the workers they are meant to help.

But a new paper by the same authors (Sci-Hub mirror) shows that the rising minimum wage generated major increases for the workers who had the most hours, whose hours were only cut a little, but still came out ahead thanks to the wage increase; workers with fewer hours saw no financial harm from the rising minimum wage, working fewer hours and bringing home the same sum; and they found some harm to people who had the smallest number of hours) (which may actually reflect stronger demand for workers and fewer workers in this category of very-low-hour work).


Hope for Humanity

A crowdfunding campaign formed by two Muslim groups has raised more than $60,000 for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which killed 11, the Independent reported.

Muslim-American non-profits Celebrate Mercy and MPower Change were behind the campaign, “Muslims Unite For Pittsburgh Synagogue.” It is also in partnership with the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

The campaign reached its initial goal of $25,000 goal in six hours. As of press time, it raised $62,500 of its new $75,000 goal. The proceeds will help with funeral expenses and medical bills.


A group of Jewish leaders told President Trump that he is no longer welcome in Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism following the shooting at a synagogue there over the weekend.

Eleven members of the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice penned a letter to Trump following the Saturday shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

“Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted,” the group wrote. “You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.”

Hopefully the rest of the community in Pittsburgh take a similar position.

Of Course, It’s Georgia

Phew. The 11th Circuit appeals court has just overturned a lower court ruling and said that Georgia’s laws, including annotations, are not covered by copyright, and it is not infringing to post them online. This is big, and a huge win for online information activist Carl Malamud whose Public.Resource.org was the unfortunate defendant in a fight to make sure people actually understood the laws that ruled them. The details here matter, so let’s dig in:

For the past few years, we’ve been covering the fairly insane situation down in Georgia, where they insist that the state’s annotated laws are covered by copyright. This is not quite the same thing as saying the laws themselves are covered by copyright. Everyone here seems to recognize that Georgia’s laws are not covered by copyright. But here’s where the problem comes in. The state of Georgia contracts out with a private company, LexisNexis, to “annotate” the law basically giving more context, and discussing the case law interpretations of the official code. The deal with the state is that LexisNexis then transfers whatever copyright it gets from the creation of the annotations back to the state. Finally, the only “official” version of Georgia’s state laws is in the “annotated” version. If you want to look up the official law of Georgia you are sent to the “Official Code of Georgia Annotated” (OCGA), and it’s hosted by LexisNexis, and it has all sorts of restrictive terms of service on top of it. Indeed, every new law in Georgia literally says that it will amend “the Official Code of Georgia Annotated,” which certainly suggests that the OCGA — all of it — is the law in Georgia. And the state insisted that part of the law was covered by copyright.

Malamud found this obviously troubling, believing that the law must be freely accessible to anyone in order to be valid. The state of Georgia threatened him and then sued him claiming that reposting the OCGA in a more accessible fashion was copyright infringement. The district court not only found that the annotations (even if part of the official law) could be covered by copyright but further that it was not fair use for Malamud to post them online. This was a horrifying decision.

And, it’s also no longer a valid one.

The appeals court has put together a thorough ruling rebuking the lower court’s analysis, and noting that the OCGA is not subject to copyright at all. The court admits the annotations by a private company make this more complicated than the general question of whether or not laws are covered by copyright, but notes that since this is so closely tied to the law, and directed by state officials, it seems clear that the annotations cannot be covered by copyright:

We really need to reign in the IP zealots.

They have devolved into parasites.

Banksey is a F%$#ing Genius


A Banksy painting sold at Sotheby’s for over £1 million.

Once the auction was completed, Banksey, or someone affiliated with him, triggered the shredder built into the picture frame:

Banksy has released a video showing how he secretly built a shredder into one of his paintings that self-destructed after it was sold for more than £1m.

The framed Girl With Balloon, one of the artist’s best known works, was auctioned by Sotheby’s in London.

Moments after the piece was sold, the canvas of a girl reaching for a heart-shaped balloon shredded itself.

Quoting Picasso on his Instagram, Banksy wrote: “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge – Picasso.”

The clip starts with a caption, saying: “A few years ago, I secretly built a shredder into a painting.”

The video then shows someone in a hoodie installing the device, before another caption, saying: “In case it was ever put up for auction.”

The video then shows the moment the painting shredded itself at the auction house on Friday, captured on a mobile phone.

It is unclear how the shredder was activated.

Moments before, the 2006 stencilled spray-painting had sold for £1.042m.

“It appears we just got Banksy-ed,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s senior director and head of contemporary art in Europe.

I’ve got to believe that Banksy is the secret love child of Eugène Ionesco, spiritually, if not genetically.

How It’s Supposed to be Done

Following their successful strike, Oklahoma Teachers have decimated their opponents in the state legislature:

For nearly a decade, Republican officials have been treating ordinary Oklahomans like the colonial subjects of an extractive empire. On Governor Mary Fallin’s watch, fracking companies have turned the Sooner State into the earthquake capital of the world; (literally) dictated policy to her attorney general; and strong-armed legislators into giving them a $470 million tax break — in a year when Oklahoma faced a $1.3 billion budget shortfall.

To protect Harold Hamm’s god-given right to pay infinitesimal tax rates on his gas profits (while externalizing the environmental costs of fracking onto Oklahoma taxpayers), tea party Republicans raided the state’s rainy-day funds, and strip-mined its public-school system.


Mary Fallin rode a wave of fracking dollars to reelection in 2014, while her GOP allies retained large majorities in both chambers of the legislature. With no organized opposition to counter the deep pockets of extractive industry, Republican officials could reasonably conclude that working-class Sooners had no material interests that their party was bound to respect.

But then, Oklahoma teachers decided to give their state a civics lesson. Inspired by their counterparts in West Virginia, Oklahoma teachers went on strike to demand long-overdue raises for themselves, more education funding for their students, and much higher taxes on the wealthy and energy companies — to ensure that those first two demands would be honored indefinitely.

They won one out of three. Despite the fact the teachers had no legal right to strike — and that the Oklahoma state legislature requires a three-fourths majority to pass tax increases of any kind — the teachers galvanized enough public support to force Fallin to give an inch. As energy billionaire (and GOP mega-donor) Harold Hamm glowered from the gallery, Oklahoma state lawmakers passed a tiny increase in the tax on fracking production (one small enough to leave Oklahoma with the lowest such tax rate in the nation), so as to fund $6,100 raises for the state’s teachers.

The strikers were pleased, but unappeased. They promised to make lawmakers pay for refusing to finance broader investments in education with larger tax hikes. “We got here by electing the wrong people to office,” Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, told the New York Times in April. “We have the opportunity to make our voices heard at the ballot box.” Hamm and his fellow gas giants (almost certainly) made an equal and opposite vow — that those few Republicans who held the line against tax hikes of any kind would not regret their bravery.

Last night, Oklahoma’s GOP primary season came to an end — and the teachers beat the billionaires in a rout. Nineteen Republicans voted against raising taxes to increase teacher pay last spring; only four will be on the ballot this November. As Tulsa World reports:
Republican voters handed out more pink slips to House members Tuesday.

Six of 10 GOP incumbents involved in runoffs were turned out and a seventh narrowly survived, as perhaps the most extraordinary primary season in state history drew to a riotous conclusion.

Between the first round on June 26 and Tuesday’s final results, a dozen incumbents — all Republicans, and all but one of them House members — lost primary or runoff races.

Such turnover is unprecedented for any recent decade, let alone year, and seemed to mark a dramatic shift in the Oklahoma Republican Party.

Each of those defeated Tuesday had, in some manner, earned the wrath of public education supporters during last spring’s occupation of the state Capitol.


Oklahoma’s historic primary season was no aberration. Last year, Democrats in the Sooner State won a series of special election upsets by speaking to popular outrage over disinvestment in education. In Kentucky this past May, a public school teacher defeated the state’s Republican House Majority Leader Jonathan Snell in a GOP primary. Snell had been considered a rising star in his party, and a protegé of Mitch McConnell. But he decided to spearhead a push to slash teachers’ pensions. So Kentucky teachers expelled him from office.

In Wisconsin, Scott Walker is facing the toughest challenge of his tenure — from the Democratic superintendent of the state’s schools. As the Koch brothers’ favorite governor falls behind in the polls, Walker has rebranded himself as “the pro-education” candidate. Meanwhile, back in Oklahoma, Mary Fallin’s 19 percent approval rating is giving Democrats a serious chance of reclaiming the Sooner State’s governor’s mansion this fall.


And last night in Oklahoma, teachers left the GOP’s House caucus covered in debris.

The lesson to be learned here is that it is better to be feared than it is to be liked.

Canada to Become Major Importer of Fig Newtons

Because they have just legalized recreational marijuana use nationwide.

You might also consider investing in ice cream sammiches:

Canada is to become the second country in the world to fully legalise marijuana, after the senate approved legislation paving the way for recreational cannabis to be legally bought and sold within the next two or three months.

“We’ve just witnessed a very historic vote that ends 90 years of prohibition,” senator Tony Dean told reporters on Tuesday after the vote to pass the Cannabis Act.

“It ends 90 years of needless criminalisation, it ends a prohibition model that inhibited and discouraged public health and community health in favour of just-say-no approaches that simply failed young people miserably.”

The federal government has said it would give provinces and territories – which are responsible for deciding how recreational cannabis will be distributed and sold – eight to 12 weeks after the legislation is passed to get ready for sales, but the exact date that sales begin will be set by the federal government.

Oh, Canada!

Someone is SO Getting Fired

The New York Times published a rather ordinary article about how various space launcher firms are trying to appeal to the hyper-rich.

What you may not notice if you click to go to the story is what the original URL is: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/09/style/pigs-in-spaaaaaace.html though it now redirects to https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/09/style/axiom-space-travel.html.

I prefer the first url, since this is clearly a “Rich Pig” story, even if the author played is straight.

Kudos to whoever got this on the Times web site, if only for a few hours.

H/t Naked Capitalism for finding this bit of IT mischief.

This is Brilliant

Trump is trying to add a question to the 2020 Census about citizenship status, likely for a court challenge to reduce Congressional representation for blue states by depressing immigrant responses.

Thankfully, this process is rather involved.

Gerard Magliocca looks at the question, and comes up with a brilliant question to add to the census:

I have a separate suggestion. If we are going to add new questions to the census about citizenship, then I would propose reviving one that was asked in the 1870 census. The modern version would ask all citizens above the age of 18 whether their right to vote has ever been “denied . . . or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion or other crime.” This is language from of Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that if states deny or abridge suffrage to presumptively eligible voters to excess then their representation in Congress shall be reduced.

It’s never gonna happen, but that made my day.

OK, This is F%$#ing Amazing Trolling

This may be the best troll ever done on Twitter:

this is the best pic.twitter.com/VondMhYhgk

— sam glover (@glovelyjubbly) January 1, 2018

When I first saw this, I thought, “People should never quote that overrated hack ……… Ummmm ……… I mean Freidrich Hayek, not Selma Hayek ……… I’m fine with quoting her ……… OMFG! That pack of right wing nut jobs just got completely owned.”

Well played, my friend, well played.

You got movement conservatives saying that Freidrich Hyek used his looks to get ahead.

That is brilliant.

H/t DC at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.