Monday, January 16, 2017

ANS -- The Case for Not Being Crybabies

Buck up.  Don't lose your dignity.  Look at who Trump really is, not who he says he is, and deal with that.  "Why are we still saying Trump isn't doing enough to avoid conflicts of interest? He's made clear he wants to profit off his presidency. Let's accept that. That is what he wants to do. If you're a journalist, start documenting the details. If you're an activist or politician start mobilizing against his corruption."

The Case for Not Being Crybabies


Last week I watched a conversation on MSNBC in which the anchor asked a guest whether it wasn't a problem that Buzzfeed had published the Trump 'dossier' because this would now give Trump some credibility in dismissing any reporting he didn't like as "fake news". There are plenty of grounds to criticize Buzzfeed's decision on standard journalistic grounds. But the idea seemed to be that because President-Elect Trump was already accusing prestigious journalism organizations of producing "fake news", Buzzfeed's decision might allow him to do it more.

There was a further uproar when Trump shouted down CNN's Jim Acosta when Acosta tried to insist that Trump answer a question from CNN if he was going to loudly attack the organization's integrity. Later Trump's incoming Press Secretary Sean Spicer threatened to kick Acosta out of future press conferences if he didn't show Trump more respect. This weekend brought news that the new administration is considering kicking the White House press corps out of the White House. And finally on Sunday, in a meeting with the President of the White House Correspondents Association, Spicer "expressed concern that journalists adhere to a high level of decorum" at press conferences and briefings. This presumably came in a meeting pressing the new administration not to clamp down on access to the President and the White House.

On top of this, in the last couple days there's been a medium post circulating from a Russian journalist warning his American colleagues of what to expect under Trump. One key paragraph reads ...

You're Always Losing. This man owns you. He understands perfectly well that he is the news. You can't ignore him. You're always playing by his rules — which he can change at any time without any notice. You can't — in Putin's case — campaign to vote him out of office. Your readership is dwindling because ad budgets are shrinking — while his ratings are soaring, and if you want to keep your publication afloat, you'll have to report on everything that man says as soon as he says it, without any analysis or fact-checking, because 1) his fans will not care if he lies to their faces; 2) while you're busy picking his lies apart, he'll spit out another mountain of bullshit and you'll be buried under it.

Let me say first the piece is quite good. It's worth reading. But as a prediction of what awaits the American press, I think it is way, way off the mark and the kind of pusillanimous, defeatist attitude we've seen in this cattle call of Trump outrages listed above. Presidents don't validate what is and isn't news. If you're expecting them to, you're doing it wrong. Almost nothing that is truly important about the work of a free press is damaged by moving the press office across the street.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that these things are not important or that all these threats aren't a very bad sign. It is vastly preferable to have a President who believes in or at least respects American and democratic values. But let's get real: we don't or won't as of Friday. Trump is a would-be authoritarian and a bully. He's surrounded by mediocrities who owe all to him and feel validated by enabling his endless transgressions. Of course, he's doing these things. We know Trump's MO. He will bully people until they're cowed and humiliated and obedient. He'll threaten to kick the reporters out of the White House and then either cut a 'deal' or make some big to-do about 'allowing' the reporters to stay. These are all threats and mind games meant not so much to cow the press as make them think Trump is continually taking things away from them and that they need to make him stop.

They don't need to. That access isn't necessary to do their jobs. And bargaining over baubles of access which are of little consequence is not compatible with doing their job. Access can provide insight and understanding. But it's almost never where the good stuff comes from. Journalists unearth factual information and report it. If Trump wants to turn America into strong man state, journalists should cover that story rather than begging Trump not to be who he is. America isn't Russia. And I don't think he can change us into Russia. So unless and until we see publications shut down and journalists arrested or disappeared, let's have a little more confidence in our values and our history and our country.

I've been surprised at the extent to which right-thinking people are all but threatening themselves with what Trump might do to, collapsing into their own sense of powerlessness. Maybe he'll jail his opponents! Maybe he'll call off the 2018 election! Here it is worth remembering things we learned from the campaign. Trump's one true gift is his ability to get his critics to surrender up their own dignity somehow of their own free will. That is just what he is trying to do to the press at this moment. It's no different from the dominance politics he played on his opponents in the GOP primaries.

Trump wants to bully the press and profit off the presidency. He's told us this clearly in his own words. We need to accept the reality of both. The press should cover him on that basis, as a coward and a crook. The big corporate media organizations may not be able to use those words, I understand, but they should employ that prism. The truth is that his threats against the press to date are ones it is best to laugh at. If Trump should take some un- or extra-constitutional actions, we will deal with that when it happens. I doubt he will or can. But I won't obsess about it in advance. Journalists should be unbowed and aggressive and with a sense of humor until something happens to prevent them from doing so. Trump is a punk and a bully. People who don't surrender up their dignity to him unhinge him.

Much the same applies to the endless chatter about 'conflicts of interest' and the insufficiency of his plan to separate himself from his businesses. Why are we still saying Trump isn't doing enough to avoid conflicts of interest? He's made clear he wants to profit off his presidency. Let's accept that. That is what he wants to do. If you're a journalist, start documenting the details. If you're an activist or politician start mobilizing against his corruption.

Trump is the most unpopular incoming President in American history. We only have data on this going back a few decades. But there's little reason to think any President in previous decades or centuries has been this unpopular. Indeed, he's getting less popular as he approaches his inauguration. People need to have a bit more confidence in themselves, their values and their country. As soon as you realize that the Trump wants to profit from the presidency and that the Republicans are focused and helping him do so, all the questions become easier to answer and the path forward more clear. His threats against the press are the same. He's threatening to take away things the press doesn't truly need in order to instill a relationship of dominance.

There's nothing more undignified and enervating than fretting about whether the President-Elect will brand real news 'fake news' or worrying whether his more authoritarian supporters can be convinced to believe - pleaded with, instructed to, prevailed upon - actual factual information. The answer to attacks on journalism is always more journalism. And the truth is that Trump's threats are cheap stunts and bluffs, threatening to take away things journalists don't need.


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Fwd: Hacked gmail warning.

If you are interested in defending yourself against the latest phishing attack, this tells you how.  The Alex mentioned is an expert in computer security (and Joyce's son).  

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: joyceck10 <>
Date: Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 9:52 AM
Subject: Hacked gmail warning.
To: Kim Cooper <>

Alex tweeted this to me. You may want to distribute it.

Sent from my Sprint Phone.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

ANS -- Cory Booker, John Lewis, and Discrimination-Only Democrats

Here is another interesting piece from Ben Studebaker.  What kind of liberal are you?  This is important stuff.  Economic justice is the next big fight, in my opinion.  


Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Cory Booker, John Lewis, and Discrimination-Only Democrats

by Benjamin Studebaker

In the last week, two news stories have caught my eye:

  1. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) attempted to draw praise from Democrats when he broke with Senate norms and testified against Jeff Sessions. Yet that very same day, he voted against legislation which would have enabled Americans to purchase less expensive Canadian medicine.
  2. Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) claimed that the president elect is "illegitimate", drawing the standard Trump Twitter response. Liberal media outlets immediately began publishing posts lionizing Lewis as a civil rights hero, as if this made him immune from criticism concerning his congressional record. In the past, Lewis has misled the public about Bernie Sanders' policies and record as an activist.

Booker and Lewis are often portrayed as if they were radical progressive or left wing figures because of the strong public stances they have taken and continue to take on racial issues. But this activism on race and social issues belies a creeping disinterest in much of the rest of the left's platform–Booker and Lewis don't seem to care about tuition-free college or single payer healthcare. Indeed, Booker doesn't even believe in lowering drug prices by exposing the American pharmaceutical industry to Canadian competition. What's going on here?

Since the late 1970s, the Democratic Party has grown markedly less interested in the New Deal and Great Society economic left wing policies which prevailed from the 1930s to the 1970s. The party used to be committed to a broad coalition of marginalized groups, including not just African-Americans and women but also the working class. But in the last 40 years, it's become progressively less committed to workers and poor people. This shift manifested chiefly in two ways:

  1. Defensive Democrats–these Democrats abandoned efforts to create new programs and expand existing ones, committing themselves exclusively to the defense of the legacy of FDR and LBJ–Lewis is like that. You won't find Lewis voting for welfare reform, but you also won't find him on the front lines, pushing for Sanders' programs. Indeed, defensive democrats will often undermine more robust left wing political programs because they don't believe strong left egalitarians are electable.
  2. Fallen Democrats–these Democrats actively participated in ripping down the old programs even as they present themselves as defenders. These politicians are two-faced and Trojan Horses for the right. That's Booker.

Many of these Democrats fend off criticism from the left by appealing to their identities–often their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation–and the genuinely admirable way they have fought for equality for these groups. In Lewis' case, his terrific history as a civil rights activist is regularly deployed by social liberals to shield him whenever he is criticized about anything at all whatsoever.

This often works because many Americans have developed an overly reductive and myopic view of justice which reduces it to discrimination alone. Discrimination is, of course, unjust, but it is not the only form of injustice–the left used to also be concerned with exploitation, the use of power to force people to work for unjust compensation under unjust conditions. Even if we got rid of all forms of discrimination in America, there would still be a lot of exploitation going on. Republicans tend to believe that the American economic system is fair, that it doesn't produce exploitative relationships. So if Democrats don't emphasize exploitation, no one will put it on the political agenda, much less do anything about it.

Republicans also tend to believe that the United States is not heavily discriminatory anymore, or at the very least that discrimination is not nearly as big a problem today as Democrats think it is. For this reason, it has become increasingly difficult for many people who feel they live with discrimination on a day to day basis to identify with the Republican Party. But while these Democrats recognize discrimination, many of them don't recognize exploitation, or at the very least pay it much less attention. The result is an influx of Democratic primary voters and politicians who are what I call "discrimination-only Democrats" or "DODs". Some don't care about exploitation at all. Some profess concern about exploitation, but in practice always put discrimination first. We even see people who constantly draw attention to one specific form of discrimination, engaging in forms of gender or racial reductionism.

The left can't be about just discrimination or just exploitation. It needs to be about both things. Those who defend DODs from legitimate criticism about their treatment of exploited Americans on the grounds that they have strong records on discrimination are aiding and abetting systems of exploitation and facilitating the propagation of the right's neoliberal paradigm. Being strong on discrimination is not enough. If we leave poor and working people to fend for themselves we don't get to call ourselves the good guys, no matter how much we do for people of color, women, LGBTs, or religious minorities.

Types of LeftiesDiscrimination is a ProblemDiscrimination isn't a Problem
Exploitation is a ProblemLeft EgalitarianismClass Reductionism
Exploitation isn't a ProblemDiscrimination-Only Democrats (Left Neoliberals)The Right (Right Neoliberals)

ANS -- China is Leaving the US Behind on Clean Energy Investment

We've been saying this for a while -- the US is not "leading the world" in renewables.  We may have invented much of the technology, but we are dropping the ball.  From the article: "Looking at the entire economy, not just foreign investment, China regularly outspends the U.S. on renewable energy. It invested more than $100 billion in clean energy in 2015, more than double U.S. investment, which spurred robust job growth."

China is Leaving the US Behind on Clean Energy Investment

January 9, 2017
clean energy

As 2017 begins, China is poised to leap ahead of the U.S. on clean energy to become the most important player in the global market. Last year, China increased its foreign investment in renewables by 60 percent to reach a record $32 billion, according to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. This includes 11 new overseas investment deals worth more than $1 billion each.

China's new Going Global strategy for renewable energy was an important instigator of its huge increase in foreign investment in 2016. This is part of a broader picture of overseas investment. Last year, China showed its regional strength by establishing the Asia Infrastructure & Investment Bank and pouring money into the BRICS' New Development Bank, which made its first loans, all for renewable energy.

Renewables on the Rise

Looking at the entire economy, not just foreign investment, China regularly outspends the U.S. on renewable energy. It invested more than $100 billion in clean energy in 2015, more than double U.S. investment, which spurred robust job growth. Of the 8.1 million renewable energy jobs that exist globally, 3.5 million are in China, compared to less than one million in the U.S. And China's National Energy Administration projects that new investment from 2016 to 2020 will create 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Solar panels are the mainstay of China's clean energy sector. Five of the six largest solar module manufacturing firms globally are Chinese. Average solar panel costs in China have tumbled about 30 percent this year.

But it's not just solar. China is also embracing more complex manufacturing like electric cars. It overtook the U.S. as the largest market for electric vehicles in 2015, with over 200,000 new registrations. Two Chinese firms, BYD and CATL, are challenging Tesla's pre-eminence in the sector, and China's Tainqi Lithium is now the world's largest manufacturer of lithium ion, an important input for electric vehicle batteries.

Even with renewables on the rise, the percentage of coal in China's energy mix remains quite high, contributing to climate change and choking smog in some of the largest Chinese cities. Electricity from coal often receives priority over renewable power, which means that some renewable energy capacity is being wasted. In the first half of 2016, 21 percent of wind power in China went wasted and 12.1 percent of solar in northern China was curtailed.

The good news is that the government is aware of these problems and is working to address them. It recently set a target to limit coal at 58 percent of its energy mix by 2020, down from 64 percent in 2015, and is working to reduce wasted renewable energy (learn more about these efforts here).

Looking at China's latest five-year economic plan, it is on pace to over-deliver on its 2020 carbon intensity commitments. However, that's not enough. All countries, including China, are falling short of the emissions cuts we need to avoid the most dangerous climate change. Everyone needs to go further.

Even though it is not going quite fast enough, China is heading in the right direction and is primed to become a clean energy superpower. By ramping up clean energy domestically, China is building the economies of scale it needs to export cost-competitive clean energy products and services abroad. The U.S., on the other hand, could soon be moving in the opposite direction.

Cooperation and Competition

In the past, the U.S. has been quick to innovate and embrace new energy opportunities: it is a global leader in natural gas and was a pioneer of renewable energy technology. But as the clean energy market matures, the U.S. is ceding its leadership role to China. It's time to catch up. U.S. states and cities are looking to a clean energy future. Public support is important at all levels, from investment in research and development to tax incentives for green investment. The rewards are immense, including new jobs and cheap, clean power. The U.S. solar industry is already creating jobs — well-paying, blue-collar construction and manufacturing jobs — 12 times faster than the overall economy.

It's not all competition between the U.S. and China in the clean energy market. There is plenty of cooperation going on as well. These two giant economies are collaborating government-to-government with public-private partnerships, and many U.S. businesses are engaged with Chinese clean energy. For example, GE partnered with State Grid Corp., one of China's large electric utilities, to develop standards for smart grids in China. Goldwind, a Chinese wind turbine manufacturer, developed and financed a 20-MW wind farm in Montana, working with state representatives.

The U.S. is not out of the race yet, but if the trends continue, China will leave it behind. The U.S. economy stands to benefit from greater efforts. It cannot afford to miss the clean energy opportunity.  

This article was originally published by the World Resources Institute under a Creative Commons license.