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15 Oct 23:05

Playing the Long Game

by Erik Loomis
Matthew Connor

Reminder to self: “We are playing a very long game, one that will last our whole lives... Nothing is ever won because evil never sleeps and they have all the money.”

In part because of our 24-hour media culture, every political act is defined in terms of winners and losers, with each loss seemingly devastating. There is good reason for that–many of the losses these days are in fact devastating. But the only answer to losing is to keep trying. Most of the time, we are going to lose. That’s the reality for anyone who studies labor history as I do and it’s the same for those who study other social movements. The forces of injustice are strong. It is hard to beat them. One way to deal with this, including dealing with it mentally after we lose, is to understand that we are playing a very long game, one that will last our whole lives. One big mistake that liberals have made in the last few decades is thinking that battles were won. But of course no battle is ever won. The Voting Rights Act is now effectively lost. The legal right for an abortion soon will be lost and barely exists in much of the country anyway. There is no guarantee gay marriage will continue to be legal. Nothing is ever won because evil never sleeps and they have all the money.

Blair L.M. Kelley, a historian of the early roots of the civil rights movement, makes this point better than I can, in terms of what we can learn from these failed struggles of the past in the wake of the Kavanaugh confirmation.

But in the end, these turn-of-the-20th-century African-American activists could not stop Jim Crow’s advance. Their suits, sit-ins, letter-writing campaigns, boycotts, marches and impassioned pleas to lawmakers failed to make a difference when legislators were determined to segregate no matter the costs. Segregation or exclusion became the law of the land in the American South, and remained so for many years, separating black and white Southerners not only on trains and streetcars but also in schools, neighborhoods, libraries, parks and pools.

Progressives, liberals and sexual assault survivors and all those who desire a more just and decent America and who feel they lost when Kavanaugh was confirmed despite their protest should remember Mitchell, Plessy, Walker and Wells, along with Elizabeth Jennings, James Pennington, Lola Houck, Louis A. Martinet, Rodolphe Desdunes, P.B.S. Pinchback, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary Church Terrell, J. Max Barber and many others, including those whose names we do not know. All of these men and women were on the side of justice and lost. None of these people, who fought for full and equal public access as free citizens on trains and streetcars, stopped fighting. None abandoned what they knew was right. They all tried again. Most would not live to see things made right, but they continued.

Those who see Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a lost battle in the larger war for gender equality and dignity for women — and sexual assault survivors, specifically — should emulate the activists of generations past. They should keep organizing, connect with like-minded people, volunteer for organizations that advocate for survivors, consider running for office, and work on the campaigns of those they believe in. A week after his confirmation, a reminder is in order: Movements are about more than moments; they are about thoughtful networks of dissent built over time.

My scholarship has taught me that activism requires a certain resilience, and the willingness to be long-suffering in pursuit of the cause. I hope people remember this. I hope they keep going.

Given the increasingly clear Republican desire to reinstitute segregationist policies, we may need to start thinking in these century-long time frames of struggle. But that doesn’t mean we can ever give up. We have no choice but to continue the fight.

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11 Oct 15:19

Björk – Crave (Odd Duck Mix); Hearts & Bones; Undone

by 5:4

In my most recent mixtape, exploring the noble art of the remix, i included a track by Björk – ‘Crave (Odd Duck Mix)’ – that i mentioned had been made available as a download back in 2001, but which was no longer available. There were in fact four tracks that Björk released as downloads at that time, and since three of them have been unavailable for over a decade, i thought it would be interesting to revisit them. It’s worth saying …

The post Björk – Crave (Odd Duck Mix); Hearts & Bones; Undone appeared first on 5:4.

5:4 is on Patreon! Please consider supporting the blog by becoming a Patron from just $2 a month: https://www.patreon.com/5against4

03 Oct 15:41

Emily King Returns With The Irresistible 'Remind Me'

by Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey
Matthew Connor

New Emily King!!!!!!!!!!

Emily King has signed to ATO Records for her new album out in 2019.

The anthemic R&B single will appear on Emily King's brand new record due out Feb. 2019, her first for ATO Records.

(Image credit: Bao Ngo/Courtesy of the artist)

28 Sep 23:29

Republican member of Judiciary Committee scheduled to appear in Boston on Monday

by adamg
Matthew Connor

I'm gonna be in New York on Monday, anybody around and feel like yelling a lot

Update: At least one Believe Women protest being planned. Oh, wait, here's another. And another.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake will discuss "the future of the Republican party" at a Forbes "30 under 30" event at the Colonial Theatre at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, along with John Kasich, Boston Magazine reports.

28 Sep 15:16

Pivotal Moment

by Josh Marshall
Matthew Connor

this gives me literal bad chills, this fucking motherfucker

Kavanaugh’s testimony and questioning were almost entirely heat and little light. This was the pivotal moment in my mind for what it revealed.

This meanwhile was Kavanaugh clearly and transparently lying to the committee.

14 Sep 15:15

harder-than-you-think:Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson and Ricky...



harder-than-you-think:

Cindy Wilson, Kate Pierson and Ricky Wilson, The B-52’s, late 1970’s.

13 Sep 22:27

This is America

by Paul Campos
Matthew Connor

I hate this fucking motherfucker so fucking much

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07 Sep 23:49

Today Among Our Massively Sexist Media Moguls

by Scott Lemieux
Matthew Connor

JUSTICE FOR JANET

Christ, what an asshole:

Although Moonves is embattled and likely to be ousted from CBS amid sexual harassment allegations (reportedly with a significant severance payment) following an investigation by The New Yorker, many women and men whom I contacted about Moonves’ conduct were reluctant to speak to me, even when I told them they could speak off the record.

One target of Moonves’ ire and vengefulness, according to multiple sources, was Janet Jackson.

Jackson became a years-long fixation for Moonves after the so-called “wardrobe malfunction” of 2004, when her breast was exposed for nine-sixteenths of a second after Justin Timberlake tore a piece of fabric off her bustier during their Super Bowl halftime performance. CBS and MTV (a subsidiary of Viacom, the parent company of CBS at the time), which produced the halftime show, faced a torrent of criticism and a $550,000 Federal Communications Commission fine.

Jackson and Timberlake both said the incident was truly a malfunction ― that Timberlake was only meant to rip away the leather on Jackson’s bustier to reveal red lace, but instead ripped away everything, leaving her breast exposed to over 100 million Super Bowl fans.

Moonves, however, was convinced it wasn’t a malfunction, but rather an intentional bid to stir up controversy. Moonves has been open about the fact that the incident caused him embarrassment, and he told sources who spoke to me that Jackson, in his mind, was not sufficiently repentant.

Moonves banned Jackson and Timberlake from the 2004 Grammys broadcast airing on CBS the week after the Super Bowl. But Timberlake was allowed to perform after he tearfully apologized for the incident, according to conversations Moonves had with my sources.

The CBS chief executive, according to sources who spoke to me, was furious that Jackson didn’t make a similarly contrite apology to him. The fallout from the incident inflicted significant damage on Jackson’s career ― which until that point had produced 10 No. 1 hits ― and still reverberates to this day.

Moonves ordered Viacom properties VH1 and MTV, and all Viacom-owned radio stations, to stop playing Jackson’s songs and music videos. The move had a huge impact on sales of her album “Damita Jo,” which was released in March 2004, just a month after the Super Bowl.

“We interrupt this broadcast of Gruesome Sex Crimes Unit: Billings to apologize for nearly destroying the country by exposing an image of a woman’s breast for nearly a full second.”

Oh, and of course:

“It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” he said of the presidential race.

It’s a real mystery that the Republican candidate openly boasting about sexual assault never became a story on the level of, say, his opponent’s compliance with email server management best practices.

 

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05 Sep 02:02

Pressley beats Capuano; Lynch barely breaks sweat to stay in office

by adamg

In a major upset in one of the most progressive congressional districts in the country, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley is beating longtime incumbent Mike Capuano, WGBH reports.

Pressley, who has no Republican opposition, will become the first woman of color to represent Massachusetts in Congress.

Her victory in the Seventh District means that perennial candidate Althea Garrison will become an at-large city councilor because she came in fifth in the 2017 city elections.

Capuano had been in Congress for 20 years.

In contrast to the Seventh District, Steve Lynch is coasting to victory in the Eighth over game designer Brianna Wu and some other guy.

Unlike Pressley, Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim won't be moving up - he lost, pretty convincingly, to incumbent Secretary of State Bill Galvin.

03 Sep 20:24

Contra Kavanaugh

by Rayne

[As always, check the byline — this is by me, Rayne, and I am not the lawyer on this crew.]

Call your senators RIGHT NOW and insist they do whatever they can to halt Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. He should not be confirmed.

Congressional switchboard number: (202) 224-3121

Leave a voicemail, don’t put it off; there’s less than 24 hours before the hearing begins. Do you need a script to help make your call? Check with @Celeste_pewter at this link; she has you covered. Send a fax if you’d rather. Look up your senators’ contact details at GovTrack.us. But do it, RIGHT NOW. Come back to this when you’re done.

~ | ~ |~

Now that’s the important part of this post, the must-do call to action right up front. Drop everything and make the call before proceeding. Persuade friends and family to do the same right now.

The rest of this post is a formality over which I have fretted for more than a week. There are myriad articles out there, new ones published every day, explaining Kavanaugh’s judicial history and why he is unacceptable as a justice with a life-time appointment.

The most important reason, though, is evident in the actions of the White House and the GOP combined.

Bad, Bad Faith

They have acted and continue to act in bad faith about everything while in office. Kavanaugn’s nomination and their handling of the vetting process is but one more cluster of bad faith acts.

If this administration had nominated Kavanaugh in good faith, his works would have been openly available to the Senate Judiciary Democrats with few exceptions — but this is not the case.

If Kavanaugh himself was a good faith nominee, he would be pushing for his work to be open for evaluation — but he is silent.

If the GOP Congress was acting in good faith, they, too, would demand all Kavanaugh’s documents — but they aren’t. Senator Susan Collins in particular deserves a drubbing here, having signaled an intent to approve Kavanaugh based on the documents she’s seen so far and they are a piddling amount of the documents Kavanaugh created or was involved with during his career. She is willfully buying a pig in a poke in spite of her position on women’s reproductive health.

The hurry to seat Kavanaugh is also unnecessary; Mitch McConnell wants him to begin on October 1 with the SCOTUS’ next session. To meet this wholly arbitrary deadline McConnell has broken with past practice — and shorted the production of documents related to Kavanaugh’s work history.

It’s not just the Trump administration, either, since many of the withheld documents were generated during the Bush administration. An unprecedented and partisan review process by George W. Bush administration lawyers is running in tandem with the National Archives and Records Administration’s document production, which the NARA calls “something that has never happened before.” NARA can’t produce the Kavanaugh documents before the end of October; the Bush lawyers are cherry-picking their selection to meet the 9:30 a.m. Tuesday hearing.

Given what we know of the Bush administration’s efforts on torture and surveillance alone, Senate Democrats are right to be worried about the insufficiency of documents. Pat Leahy indicated what few documents they’ve received include many duplicates, further frustrating analysis.

Why are the administration and the GOP trying so hard to prevent access to documentation of Kavanaugh’s work history? Why the sudden reversal on transparency after a Republicans-only meeting on July 24th? What of the concerns Leahy expressed in an August 17th letter to White House Counsel Don McGahn?

…do you have reason to believe any of the records relate to:
1. The legal justifications or policies relating to the treatment of detainees?
2. The rules governing the detention of combatants?
3. The warrantless wiretapping of Americans?
4. A proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman?

These topics are far too weighty to be given deliberate short shrift — the specificity of exclusion is troubling, especially when combined with questions about Kavanaugh’s questionable finances and the likelihood Kavanaugh lied under oath before the Senate in 2006. It gives the appearance of a cover-up, which is more than bad faith; it’s malignancy.

Before Justice Kennedy retired we had already quite enough of GOP bad faith. Obama’s SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland should have had a hearing; his work product had not been suppressed. Obama’s previous nominees had likewise been fully vetted, their documents made available. But Mitch McConnell suppressed Obama’s last appointment in bad faith; there is nothing at all in the Constitution to support the Senate’s denial of Obama’s appointment by refusing to evaluate his nominee.

Article 2, Section 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

(emphasis mine)

Refusing to hold a hearing meant a rejection of the Senate’s role to advise and consent. By the simplest interpretation of the Constitution, McConnell violated his oath of office by failing to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to well and faithfully discharge the duties of his office.

Unfortunately there is no remedy save for impeachment of McConnell or removal by voters and neither will happen before Tuesday.

Unindicted Co-Conspirator-in-Chief

The next critical reason why Kavanaugh should neither receive a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing nor be confirmed is Trump’s current status as an unindicted co-conspirator.  Although the current conspiracy for which Trump has not yet been indicted is not now in Special Counsel’s folio, we cannot know until after Special Counsel’s Office has completed their work whether Kavanaugh’s appointment was part of a larger conspiracy to defraud the U.S. The Senate should exercise its role to advise and consent by refraining from evaluation of Kavanaugh until Trump’s status is resolved — and the Senate Judiciary Dems should uniformly reject a hearing and confirmation.

What is already known about Kavanaugh suggests he will not act neutrally should the prosecution of any case involving Trump as a co-conspirator come before the SCOTUS. In 2009 Kavanaugh wrote for the Minnesota Law Review on deferrals of civil suits, criminal investigations and prosecutions of the president,

… The indictment and trial of a sitting President, moreover, would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.

Even the lesser burdens of a criminal investigation—including preparing for questioning by criminal investigators—are time-consuming and distracting. Like civil suits, criminal investigations take the President’s focus away from his or her responsibilities to the people. And a President who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as President.

In the same article, Kavanaugh encouraged Congress to write legislation “exempting a President—while in office—from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel.”

This opinion is flawed and based on what he saw of Clinton, Bush, and Obama presidencies. We no longer have a president who is absorbed by the duties of the office, taking roughly 25% of his time in office to commit violations of the Emoluments Clause by playing golf at his own resorts. The Special Counsel’s Office investigation hasn’t disrupted his golf game; it hasn’t disrupted the remaining 75% of his time in office save for Trump’s entirely elective and unnecessary kvetching via Twitter about a witch hunt.

No feedback from senators so far indicates Kavanaugh would recuse himself on cases coming before SCOTUS related to civil suits or criminal charges against Trump.

Health Care, Women’s Reproductive Rights, Settled Law Unsettled

These issues are all of a piece since they are interrelated by a narrow number of cases and will likely come down to swing senators who claim to care most about these issues — senators Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Kavanaugh has been interviewed by Collins who says she believes he is in agreement with her that Roe v. Wade is settled law and not likely to change. Collins, however, has been screwed over repeatedly by her party in no small part because she trusts uterus-deficient counterparts to see women’s reproductive rights as she does (this is an awful wordy way to say she’s easily played).

Lindsey Graham, however, left off sucking up to Trump to suggest Roe could be overturned by Kavanaugh because “a precedent is important but it’s not inviolate.” Having said this on at least two different Sunday talk shows one might wonder if he is leading Kavanaugh or Collins and Murkowski.

No Senate Democrat should give Graham or Kavanaugh the benefit of the doubt, though. His dissent in Garza v. Hargan, the D.C. Circuit case in which a 17-year-old asylum seeker sought an abortion while in U.S. custody, is disturbing. He wrote,

The Government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion. …

No. The government has no interests in favoring fetal life as if fetuses had rights co-equal to the mother, teen or adult, whether free or in detention. Forcing a minor to carry another child to term is not in the government’s interests; it’s child abuse.

Kavanaugh’s opinion in Priests for Life v. HHS, wrestling with the issue of religious freedom versus access to contraception, is also disturbing. He concluded,

First, under Hobby Lobby, the regulations substantially burden the religious organizations’ exercise of religion because the regulations require the organizations to take an action contrary to their sincere religious beliefs (submitting the form) or else pay significant monetary penalties.

Second, that said, Hobby Lobby strongly suggests that the Government has a compelling interest in facilitating access to contraception for the employees of these religious organizations.

Third, this case therefore comes down to the least restrictive means question.

Nowhere in this conclusion does it ever occur to Kavanaugh there are other reasons women are prescribed birth control besides contraception which have nothing to do with employers’ religious beliefs. To be fair, most men are clueless about the benefits of birth control for minimizing cramps and managing other debilitating menstrual problems. But this conclusion combined with the dissent in Garza do not assure that Kavanaugh will see Roe as settled.

Semi-Automatic Weapons Wankery

Not good. Kavanaugh dissented in Heller v. District of Columbia, a case which upheld Washington D.C.’s ban on semi-automatic weapons, writing that the Supreme Court

“held that handguns — the vast majority of which today are semiautomatic — are constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens.”

This blows off the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Ban which expired in 2004 and should have been renewed since civilian deaths by assault weapons escalated after 2004.

Kavanaugh couldn’t be trusted to support a ban on assault weapons which are semi-automatic.

Net Neutrality No-Go

This issue infuriates me as much as Kavanaugh’s dissent on Garza. Last year in U.S. Telecom Association v. FCC he wrote,

… While the net neutrality rule applies to those ISPs that hold themselves out as neutral, indiscriminate conduits to internet content, the converse is also true: the rule does not apply to an ISP holding itself out as providing something other than a neutral, indiscriminate pathway—i.e., an ISP making sufficiently clear to potential customers that it provides a filtered service involving the ISP’s exercise of “editorial intervention.” …

Except ISPs are nearly inseparable from telecom — which we would not allow any editorial rights over content — and ISPs are too thin in some markets, forcing customers to accept what might be the only ISP in their area along with that ISP’s “editorial intervention.”

I’m also disturbed by the examples he used of throttled content like Netflix and Ticketmaster while ignoring the possibility an ISP could exercise “editorial intervention” over essential services like email and VoIP.

Nothing like having Verizon sitting on the Supreme Court.

Surveillance State

Good Lord, his understanding of metadata…Kavanaugh wrote in his opinion for Larry E. Klayman v. Barack Obama, et al. (2015) denying an emergency petition,

… In my view, that critical national security need outweighs the impact on privacy occasioned by this program. The Government’s program does not capture the content of communications, but rather the time and duration of calls, and the numbers called. In short, the Government’s program fits comfortably within the Supreme Court precedents applying the special needs doctrine. … In sum, the Fourth Amendment does not bar the Government’s bulk collection of telephony metadata under this program. …

There’s no chance at all to his thinking that metadata itself could be the message.

~ | ~ |~

That’s more than enough without having to really dig, and I haven’t even touched on Kavanaugh with regard to LGBT equality. White House and GOP bad faith is enough reason to insist Kavanaugh not be confirmed.

If you made it this far without having called your senators, do it RIGHT NOW and insist they do whatever they can to halt Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. He should not serve a lifetime as a justice given what we already know.

Congressional switchboard number: (202) 224-3121

27 Aug 15:53

Album of the Day: Steady Holiday, “Nobody’s Watching”

by Editorial
Matthew Connor

one of my favorite albums this year FYI!

Menace lurks around every corner in Nobody’s Watching, the exquisite and cinematic sophomore album from Los Angeles songwriter Dre Babinski’s project Steady Holiday. What began as a concept record about a pair of crooks developed to become a masterful study on greed and the evils of modern living. The album adheres to the philosophical notion, attributed to Mark Twain, that history “doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes,” and some of its most striking observations hint that our current societal ills aren’t exactly new ones.

Much of the album’s success can be traced to Babinski’s decision to pair her bleak lyrics with sumptuous and imaginative music: the back-lounge keys in opening track “Flying Colors” blur as if seen through a rainy window; the dynamic string arrangements in lead single “Mothers” bring to mind Radiohead’s lurching (and rejected) theme song for the James Bond film Spectre; and “Love and Pressure” employs a similar brand of the low-key funk made popular by Canadian crooner Rhye. Throughout Nobody’s Watching, Babinski uses her weightless voice as a foil, drawing sweet melodies in the air as if with a fine-tipped pen, even as she prepares to “sharpen my blade” against an enemy and watches warily as soldiers glare from behind a barricade.

It’s not until the album’s skeletal closing track, “Desperate Times,” that she plays her hand: the only path forward is through empathy with one’s adversaries. “I would spy, I would preach / I would lie through my teeth,” she coos, ceding that when the going gets rough, people will do nearly anything to save their own skin. “Humankind is in a desperate time,” she states later; it’s a common refrain in 2018, but buried in the surreal world of Nobody’s Watching, it enables us to consider our shared challenges with fresh eyes.

-Max Savage Levenson
17 Aug 20:55

Cassandra Was Right Too

by Scott Lemieux
Matthew Connor

The Atlantic piece linked to here is so great. What a hero.

In light of the horrible revelations about the Catholic church in Pennsylvania, definitely worth remembering:

O’Connor was booed off stage at the Dylan 30th Anniversary concert the next week. (Kris Kristofferson is a mensch.) Her reasons for tearing the picture, which she clearly explained, were mostly ignored. And what happened to her career is a good illustration of why so much abuse went covered up for so long.

In related news, this is a good story about the church’s so-far successful battle to protect itself from any accountability in Pennsylvania.

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16 Aug 14:35

He’s Back

by Scott Lemieux
Matthew Connor

oh good

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, from left, Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Supreme Court associate justice nominee for U.S. President Donald Trump, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, stand during a meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 10, 2018. Senate Republicans are pledging a swift confirmation process that would put Kavanaugh on the bench before the new term opens Oct. 1, and there is little Democrats can do to stop them. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Pool via Bloomberg

Jack Phillips is back to demand exemptions from Colorado civil rights law:

Months after winning a Supreme Court case over his refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, Colorado baker Jack Phillips is setting up for another legal showdown.

Phillips, ordered by the state Civil Rights Commission into mediation with a trans customer of his Masterpiece Cakeshop for whom he had refused to bake a cake, sued Colorado officials in federal court on Tuesday, claiming they violated his rights to freedom of speech and religion.

“Colorado has renewed its war against him by embarking on another attempt to prosecute him,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit cites Phillips’ narrow Supreme Court victory in June that said the state Civil Rights Commission displayed anti-religious attitudes toward the baker, violating his rights, in a case involving his refusal to bake a cake for a same-sex couple.

The new case centers on Autumn Scardina’s order for a cake from Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop in June 2017 with a pink interior and blue exterior to celebrate the anniversary of her coming out as a transgender woman. Phillips refused to make the cake, saying “it would have celebrated messages contrary to his religious belief that sex ― the status of being male or female ― is given by God, is biologically determined,” his lawsuit says.

Scardina filed a complaint with the state Civil Rights Commission, claiming discrimination based on her sex. The commission found probable cause that Phillips violated an anti-discrimination law that prohibits businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. It ordered the two parties into mediation.

Phillips argues in his lawsuit, which names Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and Civil Rights Commission members, that the Supreme Court ruling allows him to decline customers for religious reasons. The court, however, did not address whether religious objectors to same-sex relationships can duck anti-discrimination laws and refuse to serve to LGBTQ customers.

“The state of Colorado is ignoring the message of the U.S. Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs,” said Kristen Waggoner, an attorney of the anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Phillips.

It was always naive to assume that Masterpiece Cakeshop would have only the very narrow implications it might appear to have taken at face value, and with Kennedy off the Supreme Court that’s even more true. Even if the Court doesn’t overrule Obergefell it is highly likely to undermine LBGT rights in other ways.

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06 Aug 13:47

In a system that is 86% minority, Boston schools somehow become even more segregated

by adamg

The Globe reports.

24 Jul 20:06

This DJ Wants To Twerk, Squawk And Shimmy His Way Into Your Cold, Dead Heart

by Stephen Thompson
Matthew Connor

I refuse to click through but this has to be one of the worst things I've ever seen.

Emir Kobilić, who performs under the name Salvatore Genacci.

Will you let him? "Sacha Baron Cohen channeling the spirit of Andy Kaufman to make fun of EDM concerts" just about sums up his performance style.

(Image credit: YouTube)

20 Jul 15:50

Pram Return After a Decade With the Haunting “Across The Meridian”

by Editorial
Matthew Connor

Pram is back!!!

Pram

Photo by Scott Johannsson

When a band loses their lead vocalist—the person who often acts as a focal point fans—it can be a devastating blow. The group either scatter to the winds, carry on in a diminished form, or has to radically adjust their approach to make way for a new voice. That was the challenge that faced Pram, the U.K.-based experimental pop project, when their longtime lead singer and keyboardist Rosie Cuckston decided to leave the group during the tour for their 2007 album The Moving Frontier.

The split was amicable, but it still felt momentous. Her unique vocal timbre—a perfect midpoint between the flat affect of Young Marble Giants’ singer Alison Stratton and the giddy warble of Marine Girls member Alice Fox—and often fantastical lyrics provided florid accents to the band’s already colorful music. She seemed impossible to replace. According to Pram’s co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Matt Eaton, the challenge was not as daunting as it initially seemed.

“We found it fairly easy to get going again,” he says, speaking via Skype from his home in Birmingham, England. “We played 50% instrumentals anyway, but we all read lots, and are quite capable of writing lyrics well. Sam [Owen, longtime member of the group] started singing a few songs, and those led to more and more. Now, we’ve hit that point where the new album is half songs with lyrics and half instrumentals.”

That new album is Across The Meridian, the first collection of Pram material in 11 years. Constructed from improvisations recorded in a studio in Wales that were then subject to a post-production process that included overdubs, sampling, and editing (Eaton refers to it as “collaging”), the record is the perfect next step in the band’s evolution. The elements of their sound, which uses strands of library music, jazz, dub reggae, and exotica to create the rubbery, whimsical sensation of an ether high are there, but the songs feel more earthbound. Some of them—the drunken circus soundtrack of “Electra” and the unhinged space age second line jazz found on “The Midnight Room”—hearken back to the discordance that marked early efforts like 1993’s Iron Lung EP, produced by Godflesh leader Justin K. Broadrick.

Pram first formed not long before the release of that EP, spawned from the same community of music and art obsessives that included members of Broadcast and Plone. From those noisy beginnings, the group gradually expanded their sound, introducing horns and woodwinds that gave later records like 2000’s The Museum of Imaginary Animals and 2003’s appropriately-titled Dark Island a more sensual atmosphere.

What kept Pram from dissolving after Cuckston left was the collectivist mindset the group adhere to. “Our unwritten manifesto is that the music is a product of all of us,” Eaton says. “You’ll never see a picture of us on our records ever.” In the band photos that do exist, the members are usually obscuring their faces with masks or deep shadows.

This spirit also means that it can be hard to pin down who was responsible for the creation of individual songs on Pram’s albums. Some of them start with the band slicing out the best segments of a jam session; others are bits of raw material brought in by individual members. From there, it all starts to bleed and blend together to form an aggregated whole.

“It works in every way you can think of,” says Eaton. “There’s one song, ‘Shadow In Twilight’ that I wrote lyrics and chords for and had an idea for how the guitars would work. I took it to the band, and it’s completely different than what I’d imagined. With this album, we spent a year recording and re-recording. Sampling and resampling ourselves. We spend a long time writing arrangements and our collaging process takes a long time.”

The density of the music on Meridian bears that out. Tracks like “Thistledown” and “Sailing Stones” feel fluffy and light, but are built from a thick center of psych guitar racket and synthesizer chaos. Floating between those songs is more hallucinatory material—the drifting “Where The Sea Stops Moving” and the chattering “Wave of Translation,” for example—that could nicely soundtrack the slow, fluid movements of a lava lamp.

And while Pram have been relatively silent for the last 10 years, Eaton went to great pains to explain that the band’s members have hardly been dormant. In addition to solo projects and day jobs, they’ve spent the intervening years collaborating with artist Scott Johnson on multimedia performances for which they soundtracked an array of films, animation, and shadow puppetry. There’s already another Pram album in the works that was initially recorded in Germany at the studio run by Faust member Hans Joachim Irmler.

“It doesn’t feel like we’ve really been away,” Eaton says. “To the general public who would look online for a new release, it looks like we just split up and then reformed. Up until 2007, we spent over 15 years working quite hard, producing lots of material and releasing an album a year. Gradually that slows down, by necessity. But we’ve been working all this time. We are always quite busy.”

-Robert Ham
19 Jul 23:43

A 100-track playlist featuring the best song from every Now That’s What I Call Music album

by Popjustice

This playlist very nearly killed us, not least because in the time between starting it last week and finishing it this week all the Now tracklistings seem to have been taken off Wikipedia.

But here it is: your pop life flashing before your eyes in a six-and-a-half-hour, banger-strewn extravaganza that spans two millennia, starts with Tracey Ullman and ends with Ariana Grande.

(The direct for the playlist is right here.)

Now 100 is released tomorrow. 

18 Jul 00:43

Man sliced in hand with machete in Downtown Crossing

by adamg
Matthew Connor

Oh good, right in front of my office. Ahhh, Downtown Crossing

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 21:35

Police found a man on Tremont Street at Park Street with fresh slice wounds to the hand he said were inflected by another man armed with a machete, around 9:35 p.m., possibly on Temple Place.

Free tagging: 

Neighborhoods: 

Topics: 

18 Jul 00:31

Our Broken Health Care System, Part the Infinity

by Erik Loomis

Well, this is infuriating.

On July 3, 1981, this newspaper wrote about a “rare cancer” killing gay men in New York and California. Though few knew it, what followed would be a generation-defining battle: for attention, for legitimacy, for our very lives. Today, after 37 years, we finally have a proven pathway to ending the AIDS epidemic in this country.

The only catch? Poor policy and pharmaceutical price-gouging have blocked the way, making critical drugs a luxury rather than an imperative.

The solution comes in a pill: Taken daily, Truvada, the brand name for a type of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is up to 99 percent effective at preventing H.I.V. infection. Used as directed, it’s one of the most effective methods of preventing a viral infection ever discovered, as good as the polio vaccine, the miracle of modern medicine. When you combine PrEP’s effectiveness with the discovery that people living with H.I.V. cannot transmit the virus to others once they become undetectable, we could be on the verge of a swift end to the epidemic.

Truvada was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012. But over six years later, the United States is failing miserably in expanding its use. Less than 10 percent of the 1.2 million Americans who might benefit from PrEP are actually getting it. The major reason is quite clear: pricing. With a list price over $20,000 a year, Truvada, the only PrEP drug available in the United States, is simply too expensive to become the public health tool it should be.

Gilead Sciences, the company that makes Truvada, maintains a monopoly on the drug domestically. In other countries, a one-month supply of generic Truvada costs less than $6, but Gilead charges Americans, on average, more than $1,600, a markup from the generic of 25,000 percent.

Infuriatingly, American taxpayers and private charities — not Gilead — paid for almost all of the clinical research used to develop Truvada as PrEP. Yet the price stays out of reach for millions, and will for at least several more years.

The disparities in PrEP access are astounding: Its use in black and Hispanic populations is a small fraction of that among whites. In the South, where a majority of H.I.V. infections occur, use is half what it is in the Northeast. Women use PrEP at drastically lower rates than men, and while there’s no national data on PrEP and transgender Americans, it’s almost certainly underused. The issue of PrEP access has become an issue of privilege.

But hey, what is more important in New Gilded Age health care than very rich people making even more money? Actually, I know the answer–it’s taxpayers funding the research that rich people make even more profit from and terrible racial and gendered disparities.

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14 Jul 07:51

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13 Jul 14:28

The Amazing Early Progress of #AbolishICE

by Erik Loomis

This Politico piece is supposed to be dismissive of #AbolishICE, but in fact, it shows just how far this movement has come in a very short time.

A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows that most voters oppose eliminating Immigration and Customs Enforcement — the homeland security agency some liberal Democrats have called for abolishing.

Only 1 in 4 voters in the poll, 25 percent, believe the federal government should get rid of ICE. The majority, 54 percent, think the government should keep ICE. Twenty-one percent of voters are undecided.

OK, not so popular right now. But then:

But a plurality of Democratic voters do support abolishing ICE, the poll shows. Among Democrats, 43 percent say the government should get rid of ICE, while only 34 percent say it should keep ICE. Majorities of Republicans (79 percent) and independents (54 percent) want the government to keep ICE.

Calls to abolish ICE have been amplified over the past two weeks — since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a liberal challenger, defeated House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley in a Democratic primary for Crowley’s New York City-based seat. Ocasio-Cortez campaigned on the issue, and has said that ICE represents “the draconian enforcement that has happened since 2003 that routinely violates our civil rights, because, frankly, it was designed with that structure in mind.”

A handful of liberal figures — including some potential 2020 presidential candidates, like Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) — have also called for eliminating or replacing ICE, as have other Democratic primary challengers, like Cynthia Nixon, who is running against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

This movement was basically started by Sean McElwee on Twitter in the early part of the year. I and others chipped in where we could, highlighting American ethnic cleansing on Twitter and in our writing. And by July, we have 43% of Democrats supporting the abolition of an evil agency of American ethnic cleansing. That’s amazing! Despite the 24-hour news cycle, social movements aren’t built overnight. Tiger Beat on the Potomac has no way to compute this because social movements don’t fit its model. So it seems unpopular. But it’s not. It is just being introduced to voters and a full plurality of Democrats want to eliminate this evil agency. Really, we should be very proud of this and continue to move forward demanding its complete abolition and a totally different immigration system as part of the 2020 Democratic platform. Anyone who wants to win the Democratic nomination needs to embrace this. Kirsten Gillibrand, being better at her job than her competitors, understands this and has gotten ahead of them all.

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08 Jul 12:49

Why Does No One Care About Meatpackers?

by Erik Loomis

It’s remarkable to me that basically no one cares about the lives of the people involved in producing our meat. I went into this in some detail in Out of Sight, but compared to the other issues I raised in that book, it didn’t get much attention. These are people in our nation, in factories under much concealment and often but not always away from the cities, and yet, even among liberals and the left concerned about labor and food issues, they are basically forgotten about. As I wrote in an essay in this recent issue of the Journal of Food Law and Policy, the Trump years are going to be very bad for food labor issues, but it’s not as if the Obama years were any good either–because, basically, no one cares. It’s remarkable as well, because liberals cared much more about this decades ago than they do today. I find that remarkable because today’s liberals and left are more concerned with workers of color, more concerned about food politics, more concerned about safe consumption, and more concerned with a global outlook. And yet, food workers, even in the U.S., are almost totally ignored.

In case you want to begin doing something about the condition of meatpackers in the U.S., here’s a good story on all the amputations workers suffer producing your steaks and tasteless chicken breasts.

US meat workers are already three times more likely to suffer serious injury than the average American worker, and pork and beef workers nearly seven times more likely to suffer repetitive strain injuries. And some fear that plans to remove speed restrictions on pig processing lines – currently being debated by the government – will only make the work more difficult.

Government and industry bodies point out that there have been reductions in worker injury rates over the last couple of decades, although the figures still remain higher than average. They argue that despite the lifting of speed restrictions, the need to adhere to strict rules on food safety will impose its own limit on line speeds.

Records compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveal that, on average, there are at least 17 “severe” incidents a month in US meat plants. These injuries are classified as those involving “hospitalisations, amputations or loss of an eye”.

Amputations happen on average twice a week, according to the data. There were 270 incidents in a 31-month period spanning 2015 to 2017, according to the OSHA figures. Most of the incidents involved the amputation of fingers or fingertips, but there were recordings of lost hands, arms or toes. During the period there were a total of 550 serious injuries which cover 22 of the 50 states so the true total for the USA would be substantially higher.

Recorded injuries include:

An employee’s left arm had to be surgically amputated at the shoulder after it was pulled into the cubing machine during sanitation.

A worker was reaching down to pick up a box to clear a jam when his jacket became caught in a roller. As he tried to pull it out, his hand got pulled in as well. His hand and lower arm were crushed.

While an employee was attempting to remove the ribs from the spine of a cattle rib set, his hand made contact with a running vertical band saw and two of his fingers were amputated.

An employee working on a sanitation crew pushed the stop button after removing parts from the upper portion of a machine. The employee then placed his foot into a horizontal grinder while climbing down from the machine, causing all five toes on his right foot to be amputated.

A worker was clearing the hydrolyzer when back pressure caused hot feathers to discharge on to him. As he moved out of the way, he fell six feet, breaking a bone over his left eye and suffering first- and second-degree burns to the hands, arms, face and neck.

But I like bacon, so who gives a shit, right.

It does not have to be this way. Not at all. The United Packinghouse Workers of America fought to make the workplace much safer in the mid-century years. But then the Eisenhower administration actively worked with rural interests to bust those unions and move meat production into the countryside in order to lower meat costs for consumers and take political pressure off itself over rising meat prices. Customers didn’t care, so here we go. Now these jobs are largely done by immigrants, often undocumented, with no political power and fearing a return to their often dangerous countries if they complain. There are all sorts of ways to fix this–demanding stronger workplace safety regulations, a real inspection process open to all, etc. Yet, in all the great things the left is proposing over the last few years, meat production is approximately 0 on the list. That really must change. Workers are literally dying.

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06 Jul 22:50

A mother and daughter reunited at Logan

by adamg

CNN posted this video of Angelica Gonzalez-Garcia, a Guatemalan national, being reunited with her 8-year-old daughter at Logan this afternoon, 55 days after they were separated by immigration officials in Arizona - who let Gonzalez-Garcia fly to Massachusetts, where she is now staying in Framingham, but sent her daughter in Harlingen, Texas.

CNN reports:

The reunion was made possible by lawyers from two firms and the ACLU of Massachusetts. Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Massachusetts, helped speed up the reunification process.

In a declaration filed as part of a lawsuit by the state of Washington against the federal government over the separations, Gonzalez-Garcia wrote:

On May 10, 2018, the day after our arrest, Officers came into the room and told me that they intended to take my daughter away from me. The Officers told us that the law with minors was "done" and again said 1 was going to be deported. Most devastating of all, the Officers said 1 would never see my daughter again. When the Officers told me this, 1 felt like collapsing and dying. I cannot express the pain and fear I felt at that point. My daughter was only seven years old and she was much too young to be taken from me. When I asked why the Officers said that I had "endangered" her by bringing her here. They told me to sign a consent form to take my daughter, but that it did not matter whether or not I signed, because they were going to take her either way.

The officer came into the cell and called my daughter and me into the big office space. They told me that if I did not sign the paper they would still take my daughter from me, and they also said it would be worst for me. During this same conversation one of the officers asked me "In Guatemala do they celebrate mother's day?" When I answered yes he said, "then Happy Mother's Day" because the next Sunday was Mother's day. I lowered my head so that my daughter would not see the tears forming in my eyes. That particular act of cruelty astonished me then as it does now. I could not understand why they hated me so much, or wanted to hurt me so much.

Her complete statement (11.8M PDF, search for "Exhibit 6").

03 Jul 20:32

Female hosts of NBC’S SATURDAY NIGHT (later called SATURDAY...





















Female hosts of NBC’S SATURDAY NIGHT (later called SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE) during its first two seasons:  Jill Clayburgh; Jodie Foster; Sissy Spacek; Dyan Cannon; Shelley Duvall; Ruth Gordon; Candace Bergen; Lily Tomlin; Louise Lasser; Madeline Kahn.

28 Jun 22:44

Thoughts On Justice Kennedy’s Announcement

by Josh Marshall
Matthew Connor

“Optimism isn’t principally an analysis of present reality. It’s an ethic. It is not based on denial or rosy thinking. It is a moral posture toward the world we find ourselves in.”

Elections have consequences. Often they are profound consequences stretching years or decades into the future from their inception point. Trumpism is civic poison. There is a temptation to think that this is another reverse coming after Trump’s election, the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, the reversal of DACA protections and more. I don’t see it that way. These jolts are really only absorbing, fully recognizing the consequences of what happened in November 2016. Once we ingested it into the body politic all sorts of outcomes became either inevitable or possible. This is just one more of them, though perhaps the most consequential yet.

Jeffrey Toobin says Roe v Wade will be overturned and abortion in 20+ states within 18 months. This is far from the only change we are likely to see in short order. The most visible, high-profile Court issues tend to be those centering on questions like abortion rights, LGBT equality, religious liberty. Far less visible, though no less consequential, are the issues I expect a new Court to focus on most: using the scaffolding of the law to block legislatures from addressing key economic questions facing our society, much as the Court did in the late 19th and early decades of the 20th century. They are all important; they’re all down by six runs in the 9th inning.

How do we react? I wrote yesterday that we can’t expect the courts to save us? That was clear with yesterday’s decisions. It’s even more overwhelmingly clear today. Litigation remains critical. But the fight for voting rights, for instance, will be won at the ballot box. Change will come through robust political coalitions — at the local and state level, building to the federal level. Everything else must follow the same path. We are on our own, left to our own devices. The history, whatever mistakes, misfortunes and interventions, is simply the terrain we now grapple with.

Coming off the brutal 2004 election, George Bush was reelected with his Republican majorities after an unexpected midterm election pick-up in 2002. There were numerous articles and even books explaining the Republicans’ “permanent majority,” a mix of wedge issues, money and geography which locked in a Republican majority something like forever. Two years later the entire Republican congressional party was shattered. Things change quickly – often dramatically and at the worst moment. I continue to believe that the Republican right is involved in an essentially defensive action, trying to lock in policy gains and anti-democratic obstacles to stave off an electorate which is growing and largely hostile to their views.

That’s an analysis, a prediction. But predictions and analyses can be wrong. We don’t know the future. As an historian, I know we don’t even really know the past. I wrote this the day after President Trump’s election: “At such a moment I come back to a thought I’ve told family members at times of stress or grief. Optimism isn’t principally an analysis of present reality. It’s an ethic. It is not based on denial or rosy thinking. It is a moral posture toward the world we find ourselves in. If everything seems great, there’s no need for optimism. The river of good news just carries you along.”

Our commitment to our values and to our country, which we express through political action, is an ethical commitment, not a read of the odds. The greater the crisis, the greater the national affliction, the more your country needs you. Our journalism, your activism, your commitment are simply more important today than they were yesterday. We can lie down. We can stand up. We can walk forward. For my part, I can’t think the future is on the side of the American right when the man who now embodies is it is so consistently unpopular. But I will walk forward regardless.

19 Jun 22:40

Racist Demagogue

by Josh Marshall
Matthew Connor

it's getting worse (i mean unless you're Pia i guess)

This requires an explicit mention.

The use of the word “infest” to talk about people is literally out of the Nazi/anti-Semites’ playbook for talking about the Jewish threat. It was also a standard for talking about Chinese in the western United States and it remains part of the vocabulary for talking about Romani (Gypsies) in parts of Europe. This is the most hard-boiled kind of racist demagogic language, the kind that in other parts of the world has often preceded and signaled the onset of exterminationist violence. The verb “to infest” is one generally used to describe insects or vermin (rats), creatures which are literally exterminated when they become present in a house or building or neighborhood.

17 Jun 10:03

Cult of personality

by Paul Campos
Matthew Connor

don't know what's up with the formatting here but ugh this made me feel actually sick to my stomach :\

For some reason this strikes me as the most obscene moment of the Trump presidency yet:

Jacob Soboroff‏Verified account @jacobsoboroff
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Starting to get some handout photos from our tour with @HHSGov. Here’s the Trump mural I mentioned to @chrislhayes inside the shelter for incarcerated child migrants. Also their beds and the towels they shower with.

6:25 PM – 13 Jun 2018
If you’re wondering where that quote is from:
Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump
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Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war. Don’t ever get down on yourself, just keep fighting – in the end, you WIN!

5:27 AM – 23 May 2014
This is America.

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17 Jun 09:55

Trump Admin: Bible Supports Family Separation Policy

by Josh Marshall
Matthew Connor

i don't believe in hell but i almost wish it existed just so these people could rot in it

Remarkable discussion today from Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders explaining why the Bible supports aggressive enforcement of the administration’s family separation policy.

Here’s Jeff Sessions, who went first.

And here’s Sarah Sanders responding to that argument.

A good place to start on this discussion is that we don’t govern ourselves by the dictates of the Bible. But even on its own terms this is a pretty weak argument. The Bible is replete with injunctions against gratuitous cruelty inflicted on the weak. It even has explicit passages enjoining good treatment of immigrants! The reference is to Paul’s Letter to the Romans in which Paul says that everyone should “subject themselves to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”

This is a controversial and highly contested passage and there are good reasons to believe Paul had historically contingent reasons for making this argument. Indeed, numerous Christian movements have been based on the clear rejection of this view. Paul foresaw the imminent end of the world. He saw no point in courting persecutions against nascent Christian congregations. But the most noteworthy point is that the passage doesn’t say what either Sessions or Sanders claims.

This is a quietist argument. Subject yourself to whoever is in lawful authority. It’s deliberately indifferent to the righteousness or morality of their rule. It simply says that they’re in charge because God wills it. It says nothing about the aggressive enforcement of the law. Nor is this some picayune technicality. Because enforcement of the law, what the law is goes directly to whether it is right and just, a point Paul intentionally ignores.

In any case, you can ‘enjoy’ the moral tawdriness of this latest argument on a number of different levels.

15 Jun 14:32

Sit Up At Attention, People

by Josh Marshall
Matthew Connor

sorry to keep sharing political shit but this is giving me the shakes

President Trump: “Hey, he is the head of a country and I mean he is the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.” Video.