Doc SportelloDoc Sportello's Journal
From the bothsidesism to access journalism to confusing neutrality with objectivity and an emphasis on the horserace instead of the consequences, the media's obsession with gossip and personalities has provided an undue platform for Trump and other malign right-wing actors to rehabilitate their reputations and circulate their propaganda and lies. Careerism, a lack of intellectual curiosity, and emphasizing profits over bold truth-telling allow the cycle to continue as our democracy languishes.
I also won't be talking to Vice-President Harris or telling everyone how important I am.
Once, when the teacher had gone inside, I was dragged off to a mock court behind a large tree where the child bullies charged me with being too short to be in school and threatened to punish me by whacking me over the head with a baseball bat. A kind third-grade boy came over to defend me, saying, This is unfair! and commanding them to release me in so loud a voice that they did.
For the next few years, I became adept at finding older boys whod protect me from bullies. When visiting my maternal grandmother at her cabin in the Adirondack Mountains, I met Mickey. He was a kind and gentle teenager with a ready smile who made sure I stayed safe from the local bullies.
I dont recall asking Mickey to protect me. He wasnt the kind of hulking kid I usually chose as protector. He was on the short side and thin. And I dont remember Mickey putting up any kind of fight to defend me or even quieting the kids who made fun of me. But I do remember Mickeys warmth and reassuring presence. His calm good nature seemed to automatically cast a positive spell over kids whod otherwise turn to bullying.
It wasnt until September of 1964, my freshman year in college, that I heard what had happened to him.
From Robert Reich (with a chart showing that 97% of corporate assets are controlled by the top 1% of corporations):
The social costs of corporate concentration are growing.
The typical American household is paying more than $5,000 a year because corporations can raise their prices without fear that competitors will draw away consumers.
Such corporate market power has also been a major force driving inflation.
Huge corporations also suppress wages, because workers have fewer employers from whom to get better jobs.
And corporate giants are also fueling massive flows of big money into politics (one of the major advantages of large size).
Includes many examples from past "dire warning" polls and hot takes that proved in the end to be totally wrong.
I'm reminded of Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, who wrote in September of 1995, "There is little unity among Democrats or on the center-left on the desirability of reelecting President Clinton." He was right. At the time there were pitched battles going on among the centrists and the progressives which made the prospect of solidarity in the party a distant dream. The huge Republican win in the midterm election of 1994 as well as the non-stop scandal-mongering and investigations by the congressional Republicans had Democrats everywhere wondering how Clinton could possibly win re-election. The only thing that seemed to unite the party at the time was a mutual loathing of Newt Gingrich. 14 months later, Clinton won a decisive victory.
Similarly, at the same point in the 2012 election, there were rumblings from certain quarters that it might be wise to run a primary challenge against President Barack Obama after his approval numbers fell to the 30s in some polls. It had been a very rough three years trying to recover from the financial crisis, not to mention the rise of the Tea Party and a political massacre in the 2010 midterms. The New York Times reported in September of 2011, "Democrats Fret Aloud Over Obama's Chances": In a campaign cycle in which Democrats had entertained hopes of reversing losses from last year's midterm elections, some in the party fear that Mr. Obama's troubles could reverberate down the ballot into Congressional, state and local races. "In my district, the enthusiasm for him has mostly evaporated," said Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon. "There is tremendous discontent with his direction."
The media was full of stories of unhappy centrists, moderates and progressives alike, all of whom were sure that Obama was in trouble. 14 months later, Obama beat Mitt Romney in a romp.
Just two years ago there were endless stories about Democratic hand-wringing in advance of the 2022 midterms, mostly due to the off-year win by Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia gubernatorial race that supposedly portended a red wave like no other. In December of 2021, Thomas Edsall of the New York Times wrote a story headlined, "Democrats Shouldn't Panic. They Should Go Into Shock."
One of the best shows ever on television in my mind. Funny, poignant and an insight into Natve American culture never before seen on tv. A critic's take on the show, which runs on subscription service Hulu but does come on later on FX:
Ive described it as one of a kind, and as a show thats pushing the entire medium of TV forward on several fronts. Theres its groundbreaking representation in front of and behind the camera, as the rare show led by an all-Native main cast, writers and directors. And shot on location on Muscogee Nation land in Oklahoma, its infused with a sense of place, authenticity and specificity.
Visually and stylistically too, each episode feels like a uniquely transformative experience, wryly funny one minute and beautifully poignant the next. The show seamlessly moves between tones and genres, defying classification and expectations. Giving a pithy little description of it the adventures and misadventures of four teens growing up on a Native reservation in Oklahoma doesnt quite do the show justice or fully capture the care and detail that has so clearly gone into every single episode. (TV and film writers and actors, including those who worked on Reservation Dogs, are currently on strike over more equitable pay and working conditions in the streaming era.)
In its third season, which begins Wednesday on Hulu, Reservation Dogs continues to soar and bring out the very best of what has made it great. Creator Sterlin Harjo recently announced his decision to end the show this season. While its crushing to say goodbye, the sadness is lessened by the fact that its nice when a show gets to end on its own terms, rather than getting unceremoniously canceled. The chance to go out on a high note is even rarer for shows created by people of color and other people from historically underrepresented communities.
In fact, whats happening now in Hollywood is a microcosm of whats happening across America in the emerging digital economy which is rapidly replacing the production of things with the production of digitized ideas.
The workers in this emerging economy are some of the worst paid and worst treated anywhere, while the top owners and managers are among the fattest cats outside Wall Street.
Consider: Stock gains this year have been concentrated among five giant digital firms: Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Amazon, and Meta. Their combined market capitalization is now over $8 trillion, a figure that exceeds the GDP of every country but the United States and China. They are cash rich. All but Amazon have a combined $200 billion net cash-to-debt balance.
The biggest variable in all this is the law in particular, what limits it places on digital monopolies, and whether it facilitates or limits the power of creators.
In both these respects, the Biden administration has been terrific. It has been more aggressive against monopolists and in favor of unions than any administration since that of Franklin D. Roosevelt. But much of the law is still in the 20th century, and the federal courts have tended to be on the side of the corporate giants.
Here is a list of climate-related posts from just the past two days. More than I ever remember. I think maybe something is going on with the climate, no matter how much repubs want to bury their heads in the sand.
"A Climate-Changed World": Vermont Confronts Historic Flooding Again, 12 Years After Hurricane Irene - Democratic Underground
FL Ocean Temperatures In Mid-90s, And Peak Heat Stress On Remaining Corals Still Months Away - Democratic Underground
Deforestation in the Amazon in June returns to pre-Bolsonaro levels while fires are a concern - Democratic Underground
More than 100 rescues due to Vermont flooding - NBC News - Democratic Underground
Extreme US weather live: Vermont flooding 'nowhere near over', says governor - Democratic Underground
Record Florida ocean temperatures may be 'death knell' for coral reefs, expert fears - Democratic Underground
Number of wildfires surges in British Columbia after weekend of lightning strikes - Democratic Underground
Vermont flooding: Dangerous flash floods across the state - Democratic Underground
Florida ocean temperatures at 'downright shocking' levels - Democratic Underground
Phoenix Heatwave Threatens, May Surpass 120F Through Sunday 7/16 - 122F All-Time High
Seriously it is unbelievably hot - it will be 96F tomorrow in Kingston - Democratic Underground
US swelters as south-west braces for record-breaking heatwave up to 120F - Democratic Underground
Antarctic ice levels see "massive decrease" in June. - Democratic Underground
July 12 8PM ET - LIVE Climate Change Roundtable (Sanders, McKibben, AOC) - Democratic Underground
Live In An Area usually Not Prone to Natural Disasters - Democratic Underground
Microplastics Are In The Air, Drinking Water, Dust, Food: How To Reduce Your Exposure - Democratic Underground
The best commentary I've seen touting Biden's accomplishments and refuting the ageist attacks on him. Many more good reads in the whole article.
But if he's so over the hill that he's unable to function, how come he's done such a good job in his first term under very trying circumstances? It's not that these worries aren't legitimate but it feels as though any positive news is required to be followed by something designed to keep people from feeling too optimistic about the future. So it's been difficult to make the case that Biden's presidency has brought material improvement to most people's lives even though it manifestly has done so.
I was like many progressive types who didn't expect much from Joe Biden but I reconciled myself to the idea that it would be enough to have a caretaker president who would allow the country to calm down a little bit after the tumultuous Trump years. I was wrong. Biden has been one of the most active presidents in recent memory, making changes that are abrupt departures not only from Republicans but Democrats as well, including his old boss Barack Obama.
There were reports a couple of weeks ago that Hollywood producer and big Democratic donor Jeffrey Katzenberg was advising the Biden campaign to lean into the age thing pointing out that people aren't as ageist as we may think. After all, the biggest box office draw this past weekend was 80-year-old Harrison Ford reprising his role as Indiana Jones. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, both 79, are about to go on tour again and can be expected to sell out. Paul McCartney at 81 is producing AI Beatles records.
Some people just have a strong life force no matter what their age and if they're lucky they have wisdom, confidence and judgment too. Joe Biden seems to be among that group and his bucket list is to leave a legacy of major improvements in the way government works. For an old guy, he sure is getting a whole lot done and he wants to do more. The country will be much better off if we let him.
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