It’s a real mess out there vol. 1

Note: The daily BlueRootsRadio Today Show plays at 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. EDT

I’m back as you can tell. I’m flip=flopping back into posting the relevant stories I find and trying to emphasize positive stories or at least stories that point to a brighter, safer future.

I’ve added some new sources from Anand Giridhardas and David Sirota into the usual mix from The Correspondent, The Guardian, The Intercept, The Nation, The New Republic, Rolling Stone, Current Events and Jacobin and more.

Biden/Harris 2020

Trump/Pence Dustbin of History

175 thoughts on “It’s a real mess out there vol. 1

  1. TikTok Sensation: Meet The Idaho Potato Worker Who Sent Fleetwood Mac Sales Soaring

    Nathan Apodaca, whose TikTok video longboarding to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” has catapulting him to viral fame. Here, he is standing in the pickup truck donated to him by Ocean Spray. In his video, Apodaca sips a bottle of Ocean Spray’s Cran-Raspberry juice.

    Nathan Apodaca’s truck had already logged some 320,000 miles. One morning last month, it couldn’t go a mile more. The truck broke down on a highway in Idaho Falls, about two miles from the potato warehouse where he has worked for nearly two decades.

    Luckily, he had a skateboard in his truck, along with a bottle of Ocean Spray’s Cran-Raspberry juice.

    “I was just sitting there and I’m like, ‘OK I’m not gonna sit here and wait for nobody to pull some jumper cables,” Apodaco told NPR. “I’m not gonna flag anyone down.’ So I grab my juice, grab my longboard, started heading to work.”

    The story could have ended there. As many know by now, it didn’t.

    As Apodaca rolled down the hill, he casually turned on his TikTok account @420doggface208 and created a video that would make a cultural sensation of his fairly prosaic, if resourceful, commute to work.

    “When I heard ‘Dreams,’ that’s when I figured, OK, this is it,” said Apodaca, a 37-year-old father two. After the video took off, that 1977 hit single “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac catapulted back on the charts, tripling in sales. The band also reported its best week ever on streaming.

    This wasn’t Apodaca’s first TikTok video. He’s been making them for about two years, mostly on the lunch breaks at his factory job. He was first turned onto the app at the urging of his teenage daughter.

    In the video what would launch him into Internet fame, you see him wearing a gray hoodie. Juice bottle in hand. He gives a cool-guy “what’s up” nod to the screen. Then he turns his head around to check traffic, revealing a feather tattoo, which honors his Native American mother.

    “I couldn’t hear nothing when I was looking around for the cars because the wind was in my ears. So when I turned and the wind cut out is when I caught the part where she gets the vocals,” he said, referencing the end of the video when he lip-syncs Stevie Nick’s lyrics.

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  2. Republicans express fears Donald Trump will lose presidential election

    Ted Cruz says he’s afraid of ‘bloodbath of Watergate proportions’ as John Cornyn slams Trump for ‘creating confusion’ over Covid

    ed Cruz on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, on 24 September. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

    Ted Cruz fears an election “bloodbath”. His fellow top Republican senator Thom Tillis is talking in terms of a Joe Biden presidency. And even Mitch McConnell, the fiercely loyal Senate majority leader, won’t go near the White House over Donald Trump’s handling of coronavirus protocols.

    Individually, they could arguably be seen as off-the-cuff comments from Trump’s allies attempting to rally support for the US president just days ahead of a general election that opinion polls increasingly show him losing.
    US election polls tracker: who is leading in the swing states?
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    But collectively, along with pronouncements from several other Republicans appearing to distance themselves from Trump, his administration and its policies, it reflects growing concern inside the Republican party’s top tier that 3 November could be a blowout win for Joe Biden and the Democrats.

    “I think it could be a terrible election. I think we could lose the White House and both houses of Congress, that it could be a bloodbath of Watergate proportions,” Cruz, the junior senator for Texas and former vocal critic of Trump, said in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Friday.

    “I am worried. It’s volatile, it’s highly volatile,” he added, although he did say he also saw the possibility of Trump re-elected “with a big margin”.

    Tillis, one of several Trump associates who contracted Covid-19 apparently at a super-spreader White House event two weeks ago, faces a tough fight for re-election as senator for North Carolina, and raised the prospect of a Trump defeat during a debate against Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham.

    “The best check on a Biden presidency is for Republicans to have a majority in the senate,” he said, inadvertently suggesting he thought a Democratic victory next month could be a done deal. “Checks and balances does resonate with North Carolina voters,” he added.

    Elsewhere, Republican displeasure at Trump is becoming increasingly evident, especially among candidates locked in tight election races of their own.

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  3. Trump has made fracking an election issue. Has he misjudged Pennsylvania?

    The president’s energy stance may not play well in a swing state threatened by pipeline projects and supportive of climate action

    Ginny Kerslake stands outside an inactive work site for the Mariner East pipelines near her home in Exton, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Hannah Yoon/The Guardian

    In early August, Ginny Kerslake’s lush green yard in a middle-class Pennsylvania suburb turned into a muddy river, thanks to another spill at the pipeline drilling site opposite her house. A couple of days later, 10,000 gallons of drilling mud, or bentonite clay, contaminated a popular recreational lake that also provides drinking water for residents of Chester county.

    The spills are down to construction of the Mariner East (ME) pipelines – a beleaguered multibillion-dollar project to transport highly volatile liquids extracted by fracking gas shale fields in western Pennsylvania to an export facility in Delaware county in the east, ready to ship to Europe to manufacture plastics.

    In Pennsylvania, four years after Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 44,292 votes to win the state, the controversial pipeline project has helped make fracking a political flashpoint in the debate over energy, the climate crisis, environmental inequalities and the influence of big business.

    Fracking was a hot topic in this week’s vice-presidential debate, and the Republican party has blanketed the state with ads falsely claiming a Biden administration would ban the practice. Kerslake was unimpressed by the debate, but like many local anti-fracking voters she is hopeful that a Democratic administration might, at least, be persuadable on the issue.

    “The direct impact in our township has opened our eyes to how elected officials and government agencies we expect to protect us but don’t … Without fracking, there are no pipelines and vice versa,” said Kerslake, speaking in front of the noisy, unsightly drilling site, which can operate from 7am to 7pm six days a week.

    The ME horizontal directional drilling (HDD) project – which is subject to multiple criminal and regulatory investigations – has caused major disruption to dozens of suburban and rural communities, contaminated surface and groundwater sources in hundreds of mud spills, and created countless sinkholes in parks, roads and yards since construction began in early 2017.

    At least 105,000 people live within a half-mile blast radius of the ME pipeline system, which carries highly flammable, odourless and colourless gases in liquified form; many more Pennsylvanians attend schools, libraries and workplaces in close proximity.

    Pennsylvanians suffer the country’s second-worst air quality, thanks to greenhouse-gas-emitting industries, and according to one recent poll, 83% of voters in the state think climate change is a serious problem and 58% look unfavourably at lawmakers who oppose strong action to combat it.

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  4. Listen: 10 Batshit Things Trump Told Rush Limbaugh Today

    During the two-hour-long mutual back rubbing segment, the president went after Lebron James, Black Lives Matter, blamed Fox News for his campaign failures, and much, much more

    President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with radio personality Rush Limbaugh, left, as he takes the stage at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) AP

    Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh interviewed President Trump on Friday in what Limbaugh called a “virtual rally.” During the two-hour-long mutual back rubbing segment, the president went after Lebron James and Black Lives Matter, blamed Fox News for his campaign failures, and much, much more.

    Discussing the California wildfires, Trump told Rush about “explosive trees” in other countries:

    Read more and hear the audio links at Rolling Stone

  5. Chaos Engulfs White House as Trump Learns That the Coronavirus is Contagious

    If only someone had warned the president that he should actually take the Covid-19 pandemic seriously.

    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    The White House Coronavirus Superspreader Week is now among the biggest governmental outbreaks in the world, with the president’s residence ranking as one of the worst hot spots in the city of Washington. Grim photos show custodial staff decontaminating the press briefing room, now clad in head-to-toe personal protective equipment as they work. Trump, eager to appear healthy and vigorous, reportedly wants to work from the Oval Office today, which means that “staff coming in contact with him will wear gowns, gloves, mask, [and] eye protection,” according to CBS News. A fun day at the office for everybody, all because the president wants to be photographed signing yet more blank pieces of paper in The Room Where President Stuff Happens.

    The answer to the question of how we arrived at this bizarre point is that the president and his close associates have continuously acted as if the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans was not, in fact, a threat. It honestly might be more remarkable that it took so long for the natural consequences of these actions to reach them. Most of the rest of the country understands that masks are a trivial burden that helps to limit the spread of the virus, and that things like standing at least six feet away from people and limiting indoor events are unfortunate but necessary measures to deal with this new and deadly disease that we barely understand. Most people, even those whose class position has made them far more likely to lose income from the pandemic’s effects, understand that the virus cannot be toughed out or wished away.

    But Trump has consistently acted like a Facebook uncle who thinks his nephews are pussies for canceling their spring break trip. Even now, with the virus still in his body and still at risk of killing him, he refuses to rest or stop pretending to work. Just a couple days in a comfortable hospital were too much for him to bear. His bizarre decisions can be partly explained by the fact that his particularly nasty interpretation of masculinity requires acting as if all threats can be dominated simply by being Strong, and partly because he sensed it would be politically beneficial to broadcast a resolute dismissiveness of the virus’s threat. This turned out not to be the case, but Trump has always been more attuned to the dark pathologies of those who support him, even as following these instincts increasingly alienates the rest of the country. This stance has now come back to bite him and many people around him.

    A more capably corrupt administration, wrestling with the need to extract a maximum political benefit from downplaying the pandemic, might put up a dismissive front for the camera while taking care to protect itself from the virus behind the scenes. But one thing we have learned from this outbreak is that the Trump administration is not a capably corrupt one. Rather, its utterly perplexing insistence on pretending that the pandemic isn’t that bad, that the disease isn’t that infectious, that protecting yourself and others with a mask is unnecessary or feminine all apparently stem from genuine beliefs. It is hard to judge whether this is more or less disturbing than the Machiavellian alternative; either way, those beliefs are insane and wrong, and sincerely holding them makes these people no more defensible than if they were cynically acting as if the virus wasn’t a big deal for political or financial reasons.

    Still, it is interesting, if not particularly useful, to know that these people really did think masks were for losers and that they couldn’t get the virus—or that if they did, it would be no worse than the flu, because it only kills old people. Or something along those lines. Who knows exactly how they rationalize their personal health decisions, let alone the knowledge that they are complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. The point is that if they didn’t believe these things, you have to imagine that the basic human instinct of self-preservation would have kicked in at some point, and they would have started donning the ol’ face cloth that the rest of us have gotten used to by now. Not every worker who’s been forced to keep showing up at their job throughout the pandemic has had the luxury of protecting themselves. If I were a well-paid staffer at the White House, expected to go into the office every day even as most other offices in Washington shut down, I would have been wearing an N95 every day. (If anyone could get them—even at the height of the PPE crisis, you would imagine it would be these well-connected administration goblins. What’s the point of Jared Kushner otherwise?)

    Now more than 20 people who have had direct contact with Donald Trump have tested positive for the virus.

    Now more than 20 people who have had direct contact with Donald Trump have tested positive for the virus. Thirteen employees who staffed a fundraiser Trump attended in Minneapolis are also quarantining. There is no doubt that the virus is real—Trump says he has “learned a lot” about it—yet the campaign still mocked Kamala Harris for suggesting that the vice presidential debate tonight should feature plexiglass barriers. “If Senator Harris wants to use a fortress around herself, have at it,” said Pence aide Katie Miller, whose husband, Stephen Miller, just tested positive for the virus yesterday. Miller herself already had the virus just a month ago. It takes a special kind of utter moron to act as if a virus that you yourself caught is nothing to be afraid of.

    When he left the hospital this week, Trump told Americans not to let the virus “dominate your life.” Whether he likes it or not, it dominates his: Sickening the people around him is the least of it, compared to how it’s shaped this year of his presidency and what it’s done to his reelection chances. But he would not be Trump if he could change course now, and it certainly doesn’t matter to him how many more people around him get sick. After all, dying by his side is the ultimate display of loyalty.
    Libby Watson @libbycwatson

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  6. It’s Time to Put Some Muscle Behind the 25th Amendment

    Representative Jamie Raskin has long advocated for structures to assess the fitness of presidents. Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agrees.

    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi listens to Representative Jamie Raskin discuss legislation to create a commission to allow Congress to intervene under the 25th Amendment. (Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

    When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee member Jamie Raskin appeared before reporters Friday and proposed a plan to evaluate the mental fitness of presidents, they were peppered with predictable questions about Donald Trump.

    The president’s Covid-19 diagnosis, his increasingly erratic behavior, and concerns about his response to his prescribed medications, including the powerful steroid dexamethasone, made those questions inevitable at a press conference on legislation to clarify how the 25th Amendment works. The amendment was added to the Constitution in 1967 to establish contingencies for circumstances in which presidents die or are physically or mentally incapacitated.

    Raskin, a constitutional scholar who was a law professor before Maryland voters elected him to Congress, has long advocated for the establishment of an independent and nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Capacity to Discharge the Powers and Duties of Office. Now, the House Speaker is talking up Raskin’s legislation that would act on the section of the 25th Amendment that empowers Congress to establish a permanent “body” that, with the concurrence of the vice president, can declare that the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

    But in the era of Trump, everything is always about Trump. And with the presidential election less than a month away, the questions about whether Pelosi and Raskin were merely trolling a troubled president framed the discussion even after the speaker explained, “This legislation applies to future presidents. But we are reminded of the necessity of action by the health of the current president.”

    So be it.

    If Trump’s irrational presidency, and the politics surrounding it, have brought us to the point where we might finally resolve fundamental questions about presidential incapacity and succession, that’s a good thing for the future. This country leaves too many constitutional questions unanswered until crises develop—and that, Raskin reminds us, is dangerous.

    Read more -or- Read a pdf of this article

  7. See ‘Seinfeld’ Mailman Newman Return to Defend Postal Service in New PSA

    “There’s been a systematic, premeditated assault on the U.S. mail by President Trump and his so-called Postmaster General,” actor Wayne Knight’s character says. “That guy’s never even licked a stamp”

    Beloved Seinfeld character Newman made a surprise return to his mail route to deliver a full-throated defense of the United States Postal Service amid the Trump administration’s budgetary cuts in a new PSA.

    Actor Wayne Knight reprised the role of Jerry Seinfeld’s annoying neighbor in the new ad — written by Veep and Seinfeld producer David Mandel — from Democratic PAC Pacroynm that encourages voters to get their mail-in ballots in “as soon as possible.”

    “There’s been a systematic, premeditated assault on the U.S. mail by President Trump and his so-called Postmaster General. That guy’s never even licked a stamp,” Knight says. “They’ve had the unmitigated gall to try to slow down the mail when everybody knows the only person who can slow down the mail is a mailman. They’ve shortened working hours. They got missing mailboxes. They’ve decommissioned sweet, sweet sorting machines to try to delay voting by mail.”

    Knight notes it’s not just voting threatened by the attempts to conspire against the USPS: Prescription medication, social security checks and many, many Crate and Barrel catalogs are also at risk.

    “Look, I’m not a political person — last time I voted was for flavor of the month at Baskin-Robbins — but take it from me, a postman, if you want to vote early and in person, do it. If you want to vote from home, apply for your ballot and get it in as soon as possible. My brothers and sisters in blue will do our solemn best to get your ballots delivered.”

    Knight ends the PSA by threatening to leak the infamous tax returns Trump mailed to the IRS.

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  8. Harris Did Not Need To Defend Fracking

    Polls show PA voters back fracking restrictions — and yet Dems’ VP nominee touted Biden’s support for fracking as Beltway reporters keep falsely portraying it as a necessity to win the Keystone State.

    CSPAN screenshot

    Kamala Harris has previously said she supports a ban on hydraulic fracking, but last night she used the vice presidential debate to reiterate Joe Biden’s promise that a Biden-Harris administration would not move to halt the fossil fuel extraction technique, even as scientists warn that it is a driver of climate change.

    This pledge — made while Harris’s own state is experiencing a climate-intensified “gigafire” — has been depicted by national reporters as savvy and smart politics for a Democratic ticket that supposedly must embrace fracking in order to win the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania.

    There’s just one problem with that storyline: It isn’t substantiated by empirical data. Indeed, the idea that a fracking ban is political poison in Pennsylvania is a fantastical tale fabricated by a national press corps that refuses to let public opinion data get in the way of fossil fuel propaganda and a manufactured narrative.

    For months, Washington reporters — egged on by Donald Trump, a pathological liar — have suggested that Democrats would be risking political death in Pennsylvania by proposing to restrict fracking.

    The New York Times headline blared: “In Crucial Pennsylvania, Democrats Worry a Fracking Ban Could Sink Them.” The Los Angeles Times followed that up with its own headline: “Joe Biden’s Pennsylvania hurdle: Voters who fear a California-style energy plan.” Quartz last night asserted that a call for a fracking ban “tempts political suicide in swing states like Pennsylvania.”

    Somehow unmentioned is polling data showing that Pennsylvania voters support a crackdown on fracking.
    Pennsylvania Polling Shows Support For Banning Fracking

    A January poll of Pennsylvania voters from Franklin and Marshall University found that “more believe the environmental risks (49%) of natural gas drilling outweigh the economic benefits than believe the economic benefits outweigh the environmental risks (38%).” The same poll found that “more registered voters favor (48%) a ban on hydraulic fracturing than oppose it (39%).” Notably, the poll showed 54 percent of voters in the populous suburban swing counties of southeast Pennsylvania support a ban.

    While Washington-based reporters remain loath to mention this data, the media in the state aren’t: “Poll: Pennsylvanians Favor Statewide Ban On Fracking,” read a local CBS headline that was apparently too inconvenient to be mentioned by the creators of the national media narrative.

    An August CBS/YouGov poll found that 52 percent of Pennsylvania voters support a fracking ban. That includes not only a big majority of Democratic voters, but also strong majorities among traditional swing voters: 62 percent of self-identified moderate voters and 55 percent of registered independent voters support a ban.

    A separate August survey by Global Strategy Group for Climate Power 2020 found that 50 percent of Pennsylvania voters have an unfavorable view of the fracking industry, while only 32 percent have a favorable view, with a large majority supporting a phase out of fracking. The numbers were even worse for fracking industry CEOs, who were viewed favorably by 21 percent of Pennsylvania voters, and unfavorably by 53 percent of voters. The same survey found large majorities supporting tough restrictions on fracking and phasing all of it out in the future.
    “Political Maneuvers And Opinions Appear Largely Out Of Touch With Reality”

    It is certainly true that supporting a fracking ban is not a total political slam dunk in Pennsylvania — the industry is an employer in the state, the jobs are often unionized, and the CBS/YouGov poll showed strong support for fracking among a majority of self-identified Republican voters. This explains why Trump — who is down in the polls in Pennsylvania — has been trying to bait Biden into an argument over fracking, as a way to consolidate Trump’s own GOP base in the state and demoralize progressives.

    However, the idea that political reality in Pennsylvania obviously requires Biden to respond to that GOP horseshit by doubling down on fossil fuel production — that’s horseshit, too.

    In recent years, the fossil fuel industry in Pennsylvania has faced intensifying criticism for its pollution, and now faces law enforcement action over allegations of revolving door corruption and public health hazards. Those headline-grabbing scandals have coincided with the recent polling trends showing increasing support for restricting or banning fracking — there is no overwhelming evidence that opposing fracking is “political suicide” in Pennsylania.

    “Many pundits have proclaimed that opposition to fracking is a political taboo in the commonwealth, and some candidates even try to project that an opponent is opposed to fracking for political gain. But those political maneuvers and opinions appear largely out of touch with reality,” the Pittsburgh City Paper wrote in August.

    The paper added that the CBS poll “goes against the conventional wisdom that politicians can’t run on anti-fracking policies in Pennsylvania. In fact, in fracking-friendly Allegheny County, three political candidates won their primary elections this year while running on strong criticism of fracking and its related industries.”

    Biden has rightly criticized Trump as a “climate arsonist” who ignores science, but his own hostility to a fracking ban isn’t some empirical science-based decision — climate experts say we must ban fracking, and polls show that you don’t need to be a fracking shill to win in Pennsylvania.

    Biden’s posture reflects the fact that he is an ancient, 1990s-style politician who has always sought to separate himself from his party’s more progressive base.

    In this case, that meant he started his presidential campaign promising only a “middle ground” on climate policy. And now it means he and his running mate periodically boast to voters that they wouldn’t possibly consider banning fracking, even amid a climate emergency that threatens the habitability of the entire planet — and yes, even amid climate-intensified fires that are right now burning down the home state of the Democratic vice presidential nominee.

    The Democratic ticket is certainly far better than Trump on the climate issue — but that ticket is now embracing a pro-fossil-fuel position when there is no imperative to do so. That’s a real problem when time on the climate clock is running out.

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  9. 5 Times Mike Pence Tried to Gaslight America During the Vice Presidential Debate

    Donald Trump’s wing man was a torrent of misinformation, denial, and lies in his debate with Kamala Harris

    Vice President Mike Pence listens to Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) during the vice presidential debate on Wednesday, October 7th, 2020, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. There’s a fly on his head. Patrick Semansky/AP Images

    At the vice presidential debate Wednesday Sen. Kamala Harris delivered an indictment of the death and economic destruction unleashed by the Trump administration, which Mike Pence responded to with a litany of lies, dodges, and slippery evasions.

    Unlike the first presidential debate, the vice presidential debate was recognizable as such. Meeting at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, the candidates sat at desks placed 12 feet apart, with Plexiglass partitions offering a decorative nod to the fact that Pence had engaged in the alleged superspreader activities that have left President Donald Trump and more than a dozen White House associates infected with the coronavirus. That Pence came to the debate with a bloodshot eye and was visited by a fly that perched on his snow-white hair for several minutes did not add to an aura of good health.

    The candidates were composed and largely civil, although Pence relentlessly overtalked the moderator, who attempted in vain to enforce the time limits the campaigns agreed to. But Pence, in his whispery way, proved just as alarming as Trump’s bluster and bravado. He dismissed the science of global warming and “climate alarmists” while celebrating fracking, and he refused to say he’d stand up to Trump if the aspiring autocrat refused to accede to a lawful transfer of power.

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  10. Peacock To Debut Original News Shows Featuring Mehdi Hasan And Zerlina Maxwell

    The Mehdi Hasan Show and Zerlina. to Begin/Began Streaming October 5 on Peacock’s New Channel, The Choice

    “News is a key differentiator for Peacock and we’re excited to bring more original and popular news programming to the platform. We will continue to expand news content on Peacock with a focus on aggregating varied perspectives and diverse voices,” said Jen Brown, SVP of Topical Programming and Development for Peacock.

    The Mehdi Hasan Show will feature insightful reporting and probing interviews that examine the day’s events and provide a deeper level of context for the politics of our interconnected society. Mehdi Hasan is an award-winning journalist known for riveting one-on-one conversations, as well as his coverage of national politics, current affairs, and global news. Hasan worked as a senior columnist and host of the podcast Deconstructed at The Intercept. He was previously a political commentator and presenter at Al Jazeera. Hasan will also serve as a political analyst for MSNBC.

    “I’m thrilled to host this new show and also to be part of an exciting roster of programming as we launch this new channel under Peacock,” said Mehdi Hasan. “At this crucial time, it’s essential to hold people in power to account, which I aim to do on the show.”

    Zerlina. will offer incisive and timely coverage of politics and current events through in-depth conversations that unpack the latest developments in this era’s breakneck news cycle and will draw back the curtain on their real-world consequences. Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst and host known for her clear, relatable, and insightful commentary, and she is the author of The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide. She worked as a field organizer for the Barack Obama campaign in 2008 and as the director of progressive media for the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016. Currently, Maxwell is the head of progressive programming for SiriusXM, the co-host of the award-winning SiriusXM show Signal Boost, and a regular contributor to MSNBC.

    “We’re developing a show to help people think through how news affects their individual lives and our culture as a whole,” said Zerlina Maxwell. “Peacock provides a fantastic platform for the show to be seen by a broad audience.”

    The Choice lineup also includes political talk show The Majority Report, which is hosted by Sam Seder and features progressive news commentary and longform conversations daily. Saturday nights on The Choice feature replays of WILMORE and The Amber Ruffin Show, the late-night block of Peacock Originals.

    The Choice on Peacock schedule (all times ET)

    5:00 p.m. The Majority Report (new Monday–Friday)
    6:00 p.m. Zerlina. (new Monday–Friday)
    7:00 p.m. The Mehdi Hasan Show (new Monday–Friday)
    10:00 p.m. WILMORE (replay Saturday)
    10:30 p.m. The Amber Ruffin Show (replay Saturday)

    The progressive channel deepens Peacock’s news offerings, which also include streaming channels NBC News NOW, TODAY All Day, and Sky News, as well as Noticias Telemundo on demand.

    Viewers can sign up for Peacock for free at Peacock is currently available on the Roku platform; Apple devices, including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K, and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices, including Android, Android TV devices, Chromecast, and Chromecast built-in devices; Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; Sony PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro; and VIZIO SmartCast TVs and LG Smart TVs. Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, as well as eligible Cox Contour customers, enjoy Peacock Premium with their service at no additional cost.

    About Peacock
    Peacock is NBCUniversal’s new streaming service. Peacock delivers a world-class slate of exclusive Originals, on-demand libraries of hit TV shows, plus critically acclaimed films from the vaults of Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and Hollywood’s biggest studios. In addition, Peacock taps into NBCUniversal’s unmatched ability to deliver a broad range of compelling topical content across news, sports, late-night, Spanish-language and reality. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

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  11. Kamala Harris Called Out Covid Lies and Guilty Men

    The Democratic nominee for vice president won a critical debate against Vice President Mike Pence with facts, figures, and a demand for accountability.

    Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala during the 2020 vice presidential debate (Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)

    Mike Pence spent time preparing for the last vice presidential debate of his miserable political career and came up with what he thought was a strategy. The chair of the White House Coronavirus Task Force set out to deflect attention from the Trump administration’s failure to respond to a pandemic that has cost more than 210,000 American lives by claiming that any reference to that failure should be seen as “a great disservice to the sacrifices the American people have made” over seven wrenching months of sickness, death, and economic devastation.

    It was an old talk-radio trick trotted out by a cut-rate host from Indiana who parlayed his right-wing litmus-test results into a subservient vice presidency. Pence somehow imagined those tired tricks would work in a debate with a former prosecutor and state attorney general, with a senator who had mastered the politics of the largest state in the nation, with a woman who had mounted a serious presidential campaign in which her debate skills were her strongest suit.

    Pence has miscalculated frequently in his long political career. He tried to make a name for himself as a “radio personality” when he suffered from personality-deficit disorder. He lost elections. He aligned himself with political charlatans, including one Donald John Trump. But he has rarely misjudged a circumstance so badly as he did Wednesday night, when he faced Senator Kamala Harris on the debate stage in Salt Lake City.

    Joe Biden’s running mate shredded the vice president’s strategy by looking into the camera and speaking to the American people not as a Rush Limbaugh wannabe but as a leader who is prepared to level with a nation that is literally sick of the lies it has been told by Trump and Pence.

    “Let’s talk about respecting the American people,” she said. “You respect the American people when you tell them the truth. You respect the American people when you have the courage to be a leader, speaking of those things you may not want people to hear, but they need to hear so they can protect themselves.”

    Then the Democratic nominee for vice president delivered the knock-out blow. Speaking of workers who “didn’t have enough money saved up” when mass unemployment hit and ended up “standing in a food line,” Harris said, “They’ve had to sacrifice far too much because of the incompetence of this administration.”

    Debating on a day when Donald Trump is still being treated for his own case of Covid-19 and still sending all the wrong signals about how to avoid spreading the virus that is again surging in the battleground states that will decide the November 3 election, Harris came prepared to discuss the issue that has defined this year’s campaign.

    The former prosecutor employed facts, figures, and a timeline that upended Pence’s strategy—and, in doing so, derailed Republican hopes that the vice presidential debate would renew the flagging fortunes of the Trump-Pence reelection campaign.

    In the opening minutes of a debate that took place on a stage where the candidates were separated by plexiglass dividers, Harris explained that

    the American people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country. And here are the facts: 210,000 dead people in our country in just the last several months, over 7 million people who have contracted this disease. One in five businesses closed. We’re looking at frontline workers who have been treated like sacrificial workers. We are looking at 30 million people who, in the last several months, had to file for unemployment.

    Then she pointed the finger of blame, referencing recordings made by journalist Bob Woodward in which President Trump acknowledged that he had deliberately deceived the American people about a deadly pandemic.

    “And here’s the thing, on January 28, the vice president and the president were informed about the nature of this pandemic,” said Harris. “They were informed that it is lethal in consequence, that it is airborne, that it will affect young people, and that it would be contracted because it is airborne. And they knew what was happening, and they didn’t tell you.”

    “They knew,” she said, “and they covered it up.”

    More than an hour remained in the debate. But it was already over. Mike Pence thought he could keep deceiving the American people about a pandemic and the devastation it has caused. Kamala Harris knew that the time had come to call out the lies, and to identify the guilty men.

    Read more

  12. Facebook announces plan to stop political ads after 3 November

    The policy change is intended to ‘reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse’ and did not give a timeline for advertising to return

    Facebook has said it will stop running political ads after polls close on 3 November. Photograph: Amr Alfiky/AP

    Facebook has announced significant changes to its advertising and misinformation policies, saying it will stop running political ads in the United States after polls close on 3 November for an undetermined period of time.

    The changes, announced on Wednesday, come in an effort to “protect the integrity” of the upcoming election “by fighting foreign interference, misinformation and voter suppression”, the company said in a blogpost.

    Facebook’s chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, had previously defended the controversial decision not to factcheck political advertising on the platform, but in recent weeks Facebook has begun to remove political ads that feature dangerous and misleading claims.

    In early September, the company pledged to stop running new political ads one week before 3 November, the day of the United States elections, to prevent last-minute misinformation. Now it will also disallow political advertising entirely following election day “to reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse”.

    In other words, Facebook will not allow new advertisements starting one week before 3 November, and immediately after polls close it will stop running all political advertisements indefinitely. The company did not give a timeline for if or when political advertising would return.

    The new policies mark important progress toward protecting elections, said Vanita Gupta, the president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of dozens of nonprofits and human rights groups advocating for democracy.

    Read more

  13. ‘A Republican Party unraveling’: GOP plunged into crisis as Trump abruptly ends economic relief talks, dismisses virus

    A Marine stands guard outside the West Wing doors on Oct. 7. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

    Vulnerable Republicans are beginning to distance themselves from President Trump’s dismissive response to the coronavirus pandemic and his dramatic termination of negotiations with congressional Democrats over federal economic relief, with the latest cracks carrying enormous implications for Trump and the party with just four weeks until Election Day.

    Facing a political reckoning as Trump’s support plummets and a possible blue tsunami looms, it is now conservatives and Trump allies who are showing flashes of discomfort with the president, straining to stay in the good graces of his core voters without being wholly defined by an erratic incumbent.

    For some Republicans, the 11th-hour repositioning may not be enough to stave off defeat. But the criticism, however muted, illuminates the extent of the crisis inside a party that is growing alarmed about its political fate and confused by Trump’s tweets and decision-making.

    “It’s a Republican Party unraveling,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said. “They’re seeking to rid themselves of Trump at this juncture but realize they can’t quite yet. But they know his name is no longer kinetic on the campaign trail.”

    GOP strategists said on Wednesday that the angst in the party could exacerbate in the coming weeks if stock markets are throttled by Trump cutting off talks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on a broader stimulus bill and if the pandemic’s toll worsens as temperatures drop across the nation and people move indoors.

    Underscoring Trump’s unpredictability was the White House’s overtures to Pelosi Wednesday for a deal to rescue the airline industry.

    “There are cracks and fissures all over the ice,” said Republican consultant Rick Tyler, a Trump critic. “The president spent months ignoring the virus and talking about the economy coming back. But when the president catches the virus and the economy doesn’t come back, what do you do? You try to survive.”

    Read more at WaPo -or- Read a pdf of this story

  14. Don’t let Trump be the protagonist of the pandemic (and four other ways the media can improve how it covers the coronavirus)

    Our news system is designed for the daily grind, not public understanding. That’s a major problem when covering a structural development like the coronavirus. Here’s how the media can improve its coverage of the pandemic.

    Professor of journalism, NYU Jay Rosen

    Our news system is designed for daily content production, not public understanding. In our current crisis we cannot afford that. Here are five ways of improving coronavirus coverage – though these methods can be used for covering any major structural development.
    (1) End duplication, work together, and publish at the same time

    This idea comes from my friend Dan Gillmor in his Medium post on 8 March.

    His complaint is about the division of labour in journalism. When each newsroom produces its own story covering essentially the same ground, that is an inefficient and ineffective way to do things.

    “If you’re like me, you have no idea where to start given the duplicative work we’re seeing from so many news organisations,” Gillmor writes. “I want the best. I don’t have time to hunt around for every new scrap of information.”

    Here’s an example of what we mean: a selection of news stories right after the pandemic reached the US.

    Read more

  15. NEW DATA: Trump Reduced Safety Enforcement As Workers Died of COVID While Begging For Help

    New data show that COVID deaths followed workers’ request for help from federal safety officials — the COVID deaths happened as Trump reduced enforcement of workplace safety laws.

    Don’t cry for me I’ve got Covid🎶

    To help their corporate donors boost profits and stock prices, Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers have pushed hard to force workers back into unsafe workplaces. During the pandemic, the GOP has brushed off science and reopened economies, demanded liability shields for employers, ended special pandemic unemployment relief, helped Amazon block a worker safety initiative and encouraged states to punish workers who don’t return to their jobs.

    For those forced back to COVID-infected workplaces, the Trump administration has weakened the agency that is supposed to be policing workplace safety. And now a new study shows the results: death rates spiked almost immediately after workers pleaded with that agency to help, but were likely ignored.

    The analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data comes from researchers at Harvard, Boston Children’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. It shows that “there is a correlation between OSHA complaints and COVID-19 mortality” — in specific, COVID-related complaints to the agency “are correlated with (COVID-related) deaths 17 days later.”

    During the pandemic, researchers note that OSHA “has not issued any emergency or permanent standard specific to COVID-19 exposure at the workplace” and “had issued only four citations related to COVID-19.”

    Meanwhile, the report notes that “the total number of federal OSHA inspections (of any kind) during 2020 has been reduced by two-thirds, compared to the same period in prior years.”

    This graph shows how OSHA complaints almost perfectly reflected waves of coronavirus deaths. The graph tells the tragic story of workers crying out to OSHA for help, then being ignored, then dying:

    Read more

  16. The Adams Principle

    How did cartoonist Scott Adams go from Dilbert to MAGA and what does the Cold War have to do with it?

    Illustrations by Matt Lubchansky

    When I was maybe nine or ten years old, I was driven by boredom to look through my dad’s book collection. (I forget the exact year, but it was definitely before we had broadband, because the years after broadband were spent diving down rabbit holes of old TV shows and video game reviews.) Among the spy novels and Reader’s Digests, I managed to find a book that actually appealed to children, picked it up, and squirreled it away for later reading. It was appealing to kids because it had a cartoon dog on the cover.

    As you might have guessed from glancing at the illustrations, the book I’d chosen was not Clifford the Big Red Dog, but The Dilbert Principle, a satirical book about office life for adults by popular cartoonist, Scott Adams, based off his daily syndicated strip simply named Dilbert. Despite the book’s subject matter being seemingly irrelevant to my life, and its constant references to incomprehensible topics like Six Sigma, project management, and beta testing, I ended up reading and enjoying the whole book; not only that, but once I finished, I actually bought more Adams books with my own pocket money, to the bafflement of the staff at my local bookstore. Until recently, I actually looked back on this part of my life with shame and confusion—great, yet another part of my childhood to mark me out as abnormal—but in the last couple of years, thanks to the internet, I’ve discovered that I actually wasn’t alone. Perhaps half a dozen of my friends and coworkers that I’ve met through social media have confessed to also being “Dilbert kids”. Sadly, just as I’ve managed to get away from the shame of loving Dilbert for one reason, I’ve been forced to develop a new reason to be ashamed of loving Dilbert—namely, the increasingly strange behaviour and beliefs of Adams himself. But we will come to that later.

    For the uninitiated—those strange folks who spent their childhoods riding their bikes and playing with other children—the premise of Dilbert is very simple. Dilbert is an engineer who works for a generic corporate behemoth, alongside his coworkers Wally (lazy), Asok (naive) and Alice (woman), all under the auspices of an imbecilic manager known only as the Pointy-haired Boss. Any given strip typically involves Dilbert being tyrannized and frustrated by corporate culture, occasionally venting with his anthropomorphized pet/roommate, Dogbert, or sparring with the evil Catbert from human resources. (In case you were uncertain, Dogbert is a dog. I will allow you to draw your own conclusions about what Catbert is.) Dilbert has been a stalwart (stalbert?) of print media for going on 30 years, and is syndicated worldwide in about 2,000 newspapers.

    It’s easy to see why Dilbert is popular. Although the protagonist is an engineer, the setting is vague enough to act as a stand-in for practically all workplaces, and despite the occasional references to tech-specific gripes, the themes of unjust hierarchy, frustrating mundanity, and the general fact that work sucks is relatable to pretty much anyone, even schoolchildren, as it turns out. (Whom amongst us has never had a mean, pompous or incompetent Pointy-haired Teacher?) Also, a three-panel comic requires a certain kind of discipline, and despite the inevitable hit-or-miss situation you get when you churn out content on a daily basis—if you want an example, check my tweets—throughout the classic era of the strips there’s undoubtedly a tight turnaround of setup, punchline, post-punchline that usually feels good and right.

    (“Leaving at seven?” glowers the Pointy-haired Boss. “All my work is done”, replies Dilbert; “then get some more,” replies the PHB. “That would make my life an exercise in futility”, counters Dilbert, to which the PHB cheerfully responds: “exercise is good for you.”)

    There are also a lot of pieces of…philosophy is the wrong word, but the kind of stray shower-thoughts that feel impressive in their novelty, and tend to stick with you for their surface-level logic even when you know them, deep down, to be silly.

    (Courtesy of Wally: “I don’t understand why some people wash their bath towels. When I get out of the shower I’m the cleanest object in my house. In theory, those towels should be getting cleaner every time they touch me.”)

    This type of glib quasi-logic works really well in comedy, especially in a format where space is restricted, and where the quick, disposable nature of the strip limits your ability to draw humor from character and plot. You take an idea, find a way to subvert or deconstruct it, and you get an absurd result. In Dilbert the Pointy-haired Boss uses this type of thinking to evil ends, in the tradition of Catch-22 and other satires of systemic brutality, but the relatable characters use it to their advantage too—by using intellectual sleight of hand with the boss to justify doing less work, or by finding clever ways to look busy when they’re not, or to avoid people who are unpleasant to be around. The world of Dilbert is entirely built around this surface-level rhetorical play, which works great for a throwaway comic, and would have stayed great if Adams had kept them there. He makes constant use of something I’m going to call, for want of a better term, the sophoid: something which has the outer semblance of wisdom, but none of the substance; something that sounds weighty if you say it confidently enough, yet can be easily thrown away as “just a thought” if it won’t hold up to scrutiny. “Why don’t your towels get cleaner when they touch a clean person?” sounds clever at first, until you talk to anyone who knows about the science of water and hygiene or indeed, anyone who’s smelled a dirty towel. Of course, the average person does not try and get their wisdom from comics, but Adams did not just stick to comics: he is the author of over a dozen books (not counting the comic compendiums), which advise and analyze not only on surviving the office but also on daily life, future technology trends, romance, self-help strategy, and more.

    Read more -or- Read a pdf of the article

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