Daily Blog December 2019

I’m sad to have to report that effective immediately, BlueRootsRadio can only stream to the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

I apologize to the many listeners in so many countries I can’t count, but it’s a matter of licensing agreements and I have to honor them.

I hope Live365 gets more agreements soon and if you’d like to be notified please send me an email and I’ll let you know as soon as I do. Contact info can be found on the About/Contact page.

Again, thanks so much for listening and I hope you can come back soon,


123 thoughts on “Daily Blog December 2019

  1. AOC Tells Democrats How to Get it Right in 2020

    “For anyone who accuses us for instituting purity tests,” she says, “it’s called having values. It’s called, giving a damn.”

    Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to reporters in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol on December 18, 2019. (Getty Images / Drew Angerer)

    As 2019 closed, the centrist pundits and politicians who make it their mission to police the Democratic Party were busy reanimating one of the oldest lies in the book. They were aiming at 2020, the year in which the party will nominate a candidate to take on the biggest liar in American politics: Donald Trump. To beat Trump, the centrists argued, Democrats must reject “purity tests.”

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, luckily, has recognized this threat contained in the coded language about “purity tests” and countered it with a masterful defense of the politics of principle that will be essential to upend Trump and Trumpism. She finished the year arguing, correctly, that Democrats must stand strong for their ideals in 2020, or they will run the risk of letting Trump frame the debate.

    “For anyone who accuses us for instituting purity tests, it’s called having values. It’s called, giving a damn,” the Democratic representative from New York told a cheering crowd of 14,000 at a December 21 rally for Bernie Sanders in Venice, California.

    Read more .


    William Greider, author and editor at The Nation magazine, during an interview in New York City. Photo: James Leynse/Corbis via Getty Images

    WILLIAM GREIDER, a columnist at The Nation and author of some of the most significant political books of the past 40 years, died this past Christmas Day at the age of 83.

    If you’re familiar with Greider’s writing, you won’t be surprised that this news generated an outpouring of sorrow across the internet. If you’re not familiar with it, you should definitely go to the library. If you had to choose the work of a single person to understand how America ended up in our current gruesome predicament, it would be hard to do better than Greider’s.

    He tackled gigantic subjects: the Federal Reserve (“Secrets of the Temple,” 1987), the evaporation of American democracy (“Who Will Tell the People,” 1992), globalization (“One World Ready or Not,” 1997), society’s deformation by the military-industrial complex (“Fortress America,” 1998), whether we can reinvent the U.S. economy (“The Soul of Capitalism,” 2003), and what to do when the people running this country seem determined to destroy it (“Come Home, America,” 2009).

    I used to talk about “Who Will Tell the People” in particular so much that a friend of mine threatened to mock up the cover for a book called “I Will Tell the People!” with a picture of me on the front angrily shaking my fist. I eventually met Greider and became one of the many younger writers he encouraged and supported.

    Each of these books is still completely relevant — something that almost never can be said about aging political writing. Pick up, say, “Game Change,” the bestseller by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about the 2008 election, and you’ll find it’s now as fascinating as gossip about the Harding administration.

    Greider pulled this off because he didn’t care about the daily political garbage tornado. Instead, his focus was always on the huge subterranean battles that actually determine our lives, i.e., capital vs. labor, creditors vs. debtors, marketing vs. people, and capitalism vs. democracy.

    Greider didn’t spend his life diagnosing America’s disease to make us despair.

    The message running through his work is that, for decades, one side in these fights has been absolutely beating the shit out of the other. But Greider didn’t spend his life diagnosing America’s disease to make us despair. It was the opposite — he did it because he believed we can develop the cure, if we put in the work. He thought that normal humans were capable of understanding the world, and governing ourselves.

    In other words, Greider was a member of humanity’s second party, the “democrats,” as Thomas Jefferson defined it in 1824:

    Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties. 1. those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2dly those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them cherish and consider them as the most honest & safe, altho’ not the most wise depository of the public interests. … call them [by] whatever name you please … aristocrats and democrats is the true one expressing the essence of all.

    Meanwhile, those at the top of America’s pyramid almost uniformly belong to the first party, Jefferson’s aristocrats. The nicer ones want to control us for our own good, while others are true predators who would, given the opportunity, hunt and eat us. But they all share a belief that human beings are, in general, dim pack animals, to be ignored when possible and to be herded in the correct direction when not.

    Read more .

  3. Centrist Democrats need a 2020 reality check before it’s too late


    h6>In obsessively pursuing white, middle-class midwestern voters, Democratic leaders are setting their party up for disaster/h6>

    Democrats are not going to win over enough ‘moderate Republicans’ to defeat Trump. Nor will suburban white mothers do the trick. The only way to win in 2020 is by mobilizing new voters and former non-voters. Photograph: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

    Let’s start the new year with a reality check. Remember that dad, uncle or neighbor, who told you over Christmas how much he dislikes Trump’s rude language and that he might vote for the Democrats, if only they nominate a “moderate” candidate and not a “socialist”?

    Well, he is going to vote for Trump.

    This election year will be (again) filled with columns and op-eds from #NeverTrump Republicans giving (unsolicited) advice to the Democratic party. They will argue that the Democratic party can win the presidential elections, but only if they nominate a “moderate” Democrat, who can win over the many Republicans they know that are appalled by Trump. But you can forget about these Max Boots, Jennifer Rubins, and (particularly) Bret Stephenses. These pet conservatives of the liberal media represent no relevant electoral base.


    You can also ignore the reports from “non-partisan” thinktanks – like the Niskanen Center – which show that many Republicans are much more “centrist” than Trump and his Republican party. Polarization in the US is not about party policy but about party identification. In particular it is about negative party identification – and most of these “centrist” Republicans despise or distrust the Democratic party, irrespective of whether it is led by Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders.

    Moreover, as long as the US economy is doing well – however shallow the foundations of that prosperity – these people are going to go with Trump, who has provided them with lower taxes and a booming stock market.

    By focusing so much resource and strategy on pursuing the “Midwestern voter” (ie, centrist, middle-class whites), Democratic leaders are setting their party up for potentially disastrous failure. Trump is no longer the risky outsider he was in 2016. He is a known quantity; he may not be especially liked, but for many voters he has delivered where it matters: the pocketbook.

    Democrats are not going to win over enough “moderate Republicans” to defeat Trump. Nor will suburban white mothers do the trick. The only way to win in 2020 is by mobilizing (potential) new voters and (recent) non-voters. Fortunately, there are more than enough of them. Almost half of Americans do not vote.

    However, new voters and non-voters are disproportionately non-white and non-suburban. Many of them are not even registered, or – thanks to Republican purges of voting rolls – no longer registered. This is particularly relevant to African Americans, who – contrary to popular perception – actually have rather high voter turnout, higher than other minorities, but are disproportionately affected by voter suppression (including incarceration).

    Read more .

  4. The Passion of Greta Thunberg

    The icon of the movement for action on climate change is a teenager. Shouldn’t that worry us?

    Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

    I didn’t feel good about asking Greta Thunberg for an interview. She’s a kid still; stardom rots the soul; and the spotlight is clearly torture to her—a torture she has chosen freely, but a torture all the same. And her celebrity has never seemed entirely healthy: this Nordic child, from one of the most comfortable and privileged societies the Earth has ever known, leading a movement to confront a planetary crisis that disproportionately harms people who do not look anything like her—people who live in Mozambique, the Bahamas, Somalia, San Juan, whose lives could not be more different from hers. Wasn’t the media playing the same tired, old game, elevating a photogenic white savior figure so that it wouldn’t have to deal with voices and faces that might make it uncomfortable? And wasn’t I part of that media?

    But I was also on my way to Madrid to cover December’s United Nations climate summit, and it was sufficiently important to Thunberg to be heard there that she sailed across the Atlantic twice. It felt irresponsible not to try to interview her, if only to ask her the same questions I was asking myself. Plus, she and the other youth activists would be the more lively subjects in those windowless convention center halls. Without their idealism and anger, the event would look like just another bureaucratic death march.

    I found an email address for interview requests. Greta wasn’t even on land yet at that point, but she had internet on the catamaran. She was tweeting still, and occasionally posting selfies. I couldn’t help but notice that out there in the swells and spray, she looked much happier and more at ease than she had on any of the stages I had seen her on over the previous month, each day looking more and more exhausted. Every time I saw her happy, I realized, I felt happy too. But this was part of the problem, wasn’t it? That I—and I knew I wasn’t alone in this—had become so invested in her individual happiness; that I had managed to funnel a portion of my rising panic over the climate crisis into her, brave little Greta, with the fierce eyes and the stainless steel backbone, those earnest pigtails a reminder that she was, despite it all, a child.

    Read more .

  5. Chris Hedges is an ordained Presbyterian minister so he speaks with authority

    Onward, Christian Fascists

    Mr. Fish / Truthdig

    The greatest moral failing of the liberal Christian church was its refusal, justified in the name of tolerance and dialogue, to denounce the followers of the Christian right as heretics. By tolerating the intolerant it ceded religious legitimacy to an array of con artists, charlatans and demagogues and their cultish supporters. It stood by as the core Gospel message—concern for the poor and the oppressed—was perverted into a magical world where God and Jesus showered believers with material wealth and power. The white race, especially in the United States, became God’s chosen agent. Imperialism and war became divine instruments for purging the world of infidels and barbarians, evil itself. Capitalism, because God blessed the righteous with wealth and power and condemned the immoral to poverty and suffering, became shorn of its inherent cruelty and exploitation. The iconography and symbols of American nationalism became intertwined with the iconography and symbols of the Christian faith. The mega-pastors, narcissists who rule despotic, cult-like fiefdoms, make millions of dollars by using this heretical belief system to prey on the mounting despair and desperation of their congregations, victims of neoliberalism and deindustrialization. These believers find in Donald Trump a reflection of themselves, a champion of the unfettered greed, cult of masculinity, lust for violence, white supremacy, bigotry, American chauvinism, religious intolerance, anger, racism and conspiracy theories that define the central beliefs of the Christian right. When I wrote “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” I was deadly serious about the term “fascists.”

    Read more .

  6. The Death of the Good Internet Was an Inside Job

    A decade of squandered potential can be laid at the feet of those you trusted to create a democratic online world.

    Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

    I remember the exact moment when the internet turned sour for me. It was July 1, 2013: the day Google Reader was put down by its corporate masters. The death of an RSS reader might not seem like the greatest tragedy to befall the internet over the past decade—it wasn’t—but it had a profound impact on my professional, and thus intellectual, life.

    Reader, which came online in the autumn of 2005, was a small wonder—a little idea that made a huge difference. It was a personalized feed of news and blogs from across the web, as specific or broad as one desired; connected to Google’s powerful search engine, it also allowed users to instantly gather the latest information on any topic under the sun. Which is to say, Reader tamed the internet for me and made it legible. It kept me steeped in fresh perspectives, helped me get a better signal-to-noise ratio from the Wild West of online material, and, as a journalist, enhanced my ability to connect threads of public discourse. It’s not a coincidence that my Reader years were those in which I first really started to flourish in my work.

    Here’s the best part: Reader didn’t ask for anything in return. Yes, it was created by a tech giant that would later flout its “Don’t be evil” slogan, but it was utilitarian and productive rather than extractive; it did not cost users anything, either literally or figuratively. And that is probably why Reader didn’t survive—a fate shared with many of the websites whose RSS feeds it collated.

    Read more .

  7. Rolling Stone summary of the NYT account of the Ukraine scandal

    Oh Look, More Evidence Trump Was Using Ukraine for Personal Gain

    It’s almost impossible to argue the president didn’t have his own interests in mind when he withheld military aid from the nation

    President Trump has claimed repeatedly that he had the welfare of the United States in mind when he withheld military aid to Ukraine and pressured its president to investigate the Bidens. The impeachment inquiry yielded a mountain of evidence suggesting otherwise, much of it surrounding the involvement of Rudy Giuliani, who as Trump’s personal lawyer probably shouldn’t have been wheeling and dealing with Ukrainian officials regarding matters related to U.S. national security.

    On Sunday, The New York Times published a sprawling account of the administration’s belabored efforts to hold up the $391 million in military aid Congress approved to send to Ukraine. It included a telling anecdote highlighting the absurdity of Giuliani’s involvement:

    “[Acting White House Chief of Staff] Mulvaney is said by associates to have stepped out of the room whenever Mr. Trump would talk with Mr. Giuliani to preserve Mr. Trump’s attorney-client privilege, leaving him with limited knowledge about their efforts regarding Ukraine. Mr. Mulvaney has told associates he learned of the substance of Mr. Trump’s July 25 call weeks after the fact.”

    Read more .

  8. The Stock Market Is Booming, but Democrats Say, Look Who’s Been Left Out

    In Iowa, Democratic candidates sought to undercut Trump’s core message of a strong economy by making the case that it isn’t working for the right people.

    Mayor Pete Buttigieg greeted attendees during a town hall event in Des Moines on Saturday.Credit…Daniel Acker for The New York Times

    DES MOINES — On paper, Esther Mabior should be fine. She has a degree from Iowa State University, where she majored in economics, and lives in a city where her chosen profession, the insurance business, employs thousands of people.

    But Ms. Mabior, 26, can’t find a job as an insurance adjuster. And she says her own experience is a lot like the stock market highs and the ever-expanding gross domestic product she keeps hearing about: It all looks good on the surface, but deeper down things aren’t so rosy.

    “There may be people doing well,” Ms. Mabior said after attending an event for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign in Des Moines over the weekend, calling herself “living proof” that as far as the economy is concerned, “it’s not that great.”

    The stock market is days away from closing out what is likely to be its best year in two decades. The unemployment rate, now at 3.5 percent, has been at 4 percent or lower for almost two years. Employers continue to add jobs in large numbers, with the country now in its 11th year of economic expansion.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  9. How a decade of disillusion gave way to people power
    Rebecca Solnit

    From Black Lives Matter and #MeToo to school climate strikes, the power of popular movements can no longer be ignored

    * Black Lives Matter protester Ieshia Evans is detained by Baton Rouge police in Louisiana, July 2016. Photograph: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters*

    As I write, immense protests are taking place in India against the new anti-Muslim law and Hong Kong activists, who have been protesting for their own rights for months, stand in solidarity with the Uighur people being persecuted on the other side of China. The decade will end in protest. But who can look back a decade when a week in Trump time is like a century, and hardly anyone can remember the overstuffed chaos of the month before, let alone 2017, to say nothing of the remote era before he was president?

    Seriously, people keep forgetting what came before, which is why they fail to recognise patterns, consequences and the real power of movements. For instance, the wave of feminism called #MeToo is often treated as a sudden eruption out of nowhere when in fact it came out of a very specific somewhere: a ferocious upsurge of global feminism over the past decade that had been spawning news, protests, hashtags and action about feminism before #MeToo in 2017. That upsurge was itself the culmination of feminist analysis and action for decades before. All that happened in October of 2017 was that movie stars got involved.

    The tech giants dominated the decade. But there’s still time to rein them in
    Jay Owens
    Read more

    But my real fear is that the 2010s will, like the 1980s, be misremembered through oversimplification. People dismissively say the 1980s were “Reagan”, as though several billion people on several continents were one reactionary old white man in America. Ronald Reagan was horrible, and his regime launched the reversal of decades of progress towards economic equality and security in the United States. But beyond and all around, the 1980s saw remarkable activism with immediate consequences – the overthrow of the Marcos regime in the Philippines through people power in 1986, the overthrow of the South Korean military dictatorship in 1987, the toppling of the whole eastern bloc of Soviet states in 1989, the beginning of the end of the apartheid era in South Africa (and powerful but unsuccessful uprisings in Burma and China).

    But a lot of groundwork was also laid for what was to come, with feminism, Aids activism and queer rights organising, and the beginning of a profound shift toward recognising racial and social issues in the environmental movement. Even deeper than that was the evolution of new, inclusive, less hierarchical, nonviolent organising strategies that rejected some of the failed tactics and principles of past activism and have been important ingredients in movements ever since.

    ‘If protests had a slow start in 2010s, they woke up fast with the Arab spring in January 2011, one of the most powerful waves of anti-authoritarianism the world has ever seen.’ Egyptian protesters gather in Tahrir Square, Cairo, in November 2011. Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP

    Read more .

  10. The Bernie Blackout Is Over

    The mainstream media and establishment Democrats are finally admitting Sanders has a shot. Now he has to hone the electability argument.

    Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally on December 16 in Rancho Mirage, California. (Getty Images / David McNew)

    Bernie Sanders’s campaign staff has long complained about a phenomenon they call “the Bernie Blackout”—the tendency of the mainstream media to downplay Sanders at the expense of other candidates. In early December, campaign official Nina Turner argued on Hill.TV, “I don’t want to see any candidate blacked out, but certainly not a candidate that is polling in the top one or two and certainly is in the top three of the candidates that could get the Democratic nomination. It is wrong and the system is rigged.”

    The Bernie Blackout was real enough. Over the past year, Sanders has been the number two candidate in national Democratic polls more often than not, holding a steady lead over all the other candidates except Joe Biden. For a brief period of three months, Elizabeth Warren overtook Sanders, but her support is now receding. Sanders has also been a front-runner by other metrics: He’s raised more money than the other candidates and has a much larger donor and volunteer base. Polling shows him competitive in the three earliest states. If he won those, he’d have a strong headwind carrying him forward for the rest of the race.

    Despite being an impressive candidate, Sanders gets less attention than rivals who by any reasonable measure have less of a chance. Turner’s claim the system is “rigged” is one explanation—but just as likely are nonideological factors. Sanders’s support has been steady, lacking the roller coaster ups and downs that made Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg more interesting candidates to cover. Sanders’s support has been unusually sticky, which makes him boring in simple horse race terms. Also, since he’s run before, he’s not news in the way many of his rivals are.

    Read more .

  11. A small Canadian airline using a 63-year-old seaplane is on the forefront of electric-powered flight

    The world’s first electric commercial aircraft, with Harbour Air chief executive Greg McDougall in the pilot’s seat following its maiden flight in Richmond, British Columbia. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press/AP)

    Running alongside Boeing, NASA and Uber in the race to launch electric planes is a small Canadian airline that has installed an electric motor on a 63-year-old seaplane.

    This month, Harbour Air’s modified de Havilland Beaver made its first flight above the waters near Vancouver, staying airborne for a few minutes. The feat prompted the airline to claim that it had conducted the world’s first commercial electric flight.

    It might seem a modest achievement in an era when jets routinely cross the globe, but Greg McDougall, Harbour Air’s chief executive and the pilot on the maiden flight, said it’s a big step toward a cheaper, cleaner and quieter future for aviation.

    “There’s a whole bunch of advantages,” McDougall said.

    Interest in electric planes has been growing in recent years, with established players and start-ups both undertaking projects and a group of U.S. senators backing more research and testing. The technology could open the door to new kinds of aviation businesses like airborne taxis and flying cars, while cutting flying’s environmental impact.

    Read more in a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  12. Amazon warehouse workers doing “back-breaking” work walked off the job in protest

    Workers lifting hundreds of boxes a day say they fear being fired for missing work, and are demanding time off like other part-time workers.

    A worker at an Amazon warehouse south of Paris. Hundreds of workers at a Sacramento facility are demanding paid time off in a new petition. Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

    More than 30 Amazon workers at a Sacramento warehouse walked off the job this morning, demanding they receive paid time off.

    Around 2:45 am on Monday local time, 36 workers — out of around 100 in total on the shift— left work two hours early after they read a letter to management out loud stating their demands to be granted paid time off (PTO) and meet with management to discuss their concerns, according to a worker at the site.

    These workers — who say they lift hundreds of packages a day in “back-breaking” labor —currently receive zero PTO days a year. The walkout comes weeks after workers say management has ignored their requests to meet with leaders of a group organizing around the issue. So far, workers have circulated an internal and public petition gaining over 4,000 signatures in total. The actions have been organized by a group of workers on site called Amazonians United Sacramento, which led a successful campaign in the past to get multiple colleagues reinstated who were fired for missing work, in one case while the colleague was suffering the loss of a family member.

    The recent walkout is also an escalation of labor tension at Amazon’s growing network of last-mile delivery centers, which are smaller warehouses where workers prepare packages that are then sent out to customers’ doorsteps. Most workers at the Sacramento site — as with those at other delivery stations across the US — are prohibited from working more than 30 hours a week. They often work up to that maximum amount allotted and sometimes more than that during peak shopping times. Workers say their shifts are physically grueling, involving lifting boxes of up to 50 pounds at a rapid pace, especially right before the holidays when they see their workload increase.

    But because they aren’t working full-time hours, most of these workers do not receive benefits such as employer-subsidized health insurance, and they can be fired for taking off more than 20 hours every quarter. Amazon publicly promises its part-time employees paid time off on its own website (notably, though, the policy differs for California employees), as well as in its employee handbook, according to documents Recode reviewed.

    Read more .

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