Colin Kaepernick protests affect Super Bowl

The NFL has been utterly craven in its response to the kneeling protest launched by quarterback Colin Kaepernick to highlight police brutality. They have clearly conspired to punish him and any others who protest by denying them the chance to play. Now it appears that some major stars are joining the protest by refusing to perform in the Super Bowl half-time show, once a much sought after gig for any entertainer.

Some of the biggest names in pop and rap, including Rihanna and Cardi B, have turned down the opportunity to appear, while one group that has reportedly been booked, the Adam Levine-fronted pop-rock act Maroon 5, is facing pressure to pull out. Rapper Travis Scott, the only performer reportedly secured to join the show, is facing pressure from hip-hop superstar Jay-Z and civil rights groups to pull out. With four weeks to go, producers of the 13-minute event are scrambling to find additional performers for what Variety last week called “music’s least wanted gig”.

Of course, I will watch neither the game nor the half-time show since I feel that evidence of rampant traumatic brain injuries has placed football on the same level as boxing, a throwback to the gladiator days when people risked their lives for the entertainment of the public.

You go, “little girl”!

It is truly fascinating to see how Republicans and conservatives are freaking out over new Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, criticizing everything that she does, says, and even the clothes she wears. But they are finding out that she does not give a damn and is throwing it back in their faces. Peter Wade has a nice article about how she has responded.

And when Great America PAC Chairman Ed Rollins bashed Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed top marginal rate of 70% from her Green New Deal, calling her “a little girl,” she fired back.

“GOP loves to insult my intelligence… If anything, this dude is a walking argument to tax misogyny at 100 percent,” Ocasio-Cortez responded to Rollins in a tweet. “Republicans rob everyone the opportunity of real policy debate by resorting to this,” she added.

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The man who says he knows everything really knows nothing

We have all heard Donald Trump at various times proclaim what a genius he is and how he knows so much more about practically everything than anyone else. Thanks to Rod Painter, I came across this tweet that has a mashup of all the times he has made this kind of boast. To see them consecutively is really something.

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The effect of increases in the minimum wages

2019 saw the implementation in 20 states and 24 counties and cities of new laws raising the minimum wage.

THANKS TO LEGISLATIVE efforts, ballot measures and adjustments for inflation, workers in 20 states will see an increase in their minimum wage in 2019.

These minimum wage increases, which range from a $0.05 inflation adjustment to a $2 per hour increase, will impact 5.2 million workers and, for those who work year-round, it will raise their annual pay between $90 and $1,300, according to a recent Economic Policy Institute report. On Jan. 1, 2019, 24 cities and counties will also raise their minimum wages.

Though the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour since 2009, there has been a growing movement across the nation to raise this number at both the state and local levels.

In 29 states, the minimum wage now surpasses the federal level, and a handful of state have pledged to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next few years.

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Powerful program on facing up to ugly historical realities

The radio program On the Media had a powerful program that looked at how differently the US and Germany deal with their ugly pasts. In Germany, there are memorials and reminders everywhere of the Nazi era with no attempt to hide the atrocities committed by them, all in the effort to make subsequent generations clearly aware that they as a people were capable of doing things like that and that they must be alert to avoid any repetition. But there are no memorials to the Nazi leaders, no statues or buildings or any other monuments named after them. In other words, the Nazi history is preserved and remembered but as a cautionary tale, not honored.
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These ‘tough guys’ are such snowflakes

Gavin McInnes is the founder of the group known as the Proud Boys, a right wing, ultranationalist group that has been involved in violent confrontations with anti-fascists. Kelly Weill describes his history.

More than anything, the Proud Boys are anti-leftist. Members talk openly of beating leftist opponents (“commies” and “antifa”) in the streets. Proud Boys at a violent Portland, Oregon, rally wore T-shirts valorizing Augusto Pinochet, a Chilean dictator who murdered tortured and murdered leftist political foes. When a prominent Twitter user made videos mocking the Proud Boys, a member showed up at his home. Members have also variously expressed sexist, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBT views. The ideological flexibility gives some space for members of color; the aforementioned Proud Boy who attended Unite the Right also runs with a primarily Latino skinhead crew. It also gives plausible deniability for figures like McInnes, who constantly toe the line of acceptable hatred.

In McInnes’ case, he accused Soros of funding a network of “lesbian” lawyers who harass the far right. (He also falsely accused Soros’ staff of organizing Unite the Right “to discredit us all.”)

But there’s something more sinister than simple conservative shit-talk at play: With one foot in the world of right-wing street fights and the other in upstate country clubs, McInnes is marshaling an extremist group from a safe remove. One Gavin McInnes champions violence and reaps speaking fees, the other doesn’t care for critical emails from neighbors.

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Alaskans desire to protect their precious bodily fluids is going to cost them

Many will have seen Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant satire Dr. Strangelove. Here is the clip of two famous scenes where the US general (played by Sterling Hayden) who has unleashed an unprovoked nuclear attack on the Soviet Union explains to a British officer (Peter Sellers) how the introduction of fluorine into the drinking water (promoted as a way of reducing tooth decay) was actually a cunning Communist plot to weaken Americans by destroying their precious bodily fluids.

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NBC and MSNBC are not progressive media

In the Donald Trump era NBC and MSNBC have tried to position themselves as the alternative to Fox News and have taken to giving negative coverage on him like the way that Fox News provides positive coverage. That may be a good ratings strategy to attract all those viewers who intensely dislike Trump but that should not delude us into thinking that it is a progressive news outlet. Far from it. Glenn Greenwald publicizes an astonishingly frank email written to various news outlets by veteran military and national security reporter and analyst William Arkin as he quits NBC News and MSNBC in disgust at what he sees as having become slavish pro-war propaganda outlets.
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These women look ready for action

I love this photograph of six new women members of Congress. They look like a team of crime fighters or superheroes ready to go into action to fight wrongs and bring justice.

To add to that image that some of these new members are ready to buck the old order, another new member Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib (who is not in the photograph) was sworn in on Thomas Jefferson’s Koran, as did Keith Ellison before her when he was sworn in back in 2007. That caused a controversy back then, fueled by those who sought to give the impression that the US was founded on explicitly Christian foundations. Since these bigots tend tp have very short memories, you can predict that they will boil over in outrage again and argue she is committing an unprecedented act of disrespect.

But clearly Tlaib was unfazed by that prospect and she even wore a traditional Palestinian dress called a thobe for the occasion.