Great moments in political grandstanding

Politicians love to claim that they have the pulse of the people and speak for them when in fact most of them speak on behalf of the wealthy and the lobbyists. Kentucky Republican Andy Barr invited congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to visit his home district and talk to the coal miners there about the impact her Green New Deal would have on their livelihood.

“I want to invite the gentlelady to come to eastern Kentucky where thousands of coal miners no longer have paychecks,” he said. “I invite her to go underground with me and meet the men and women who do heroic work to power the American economy.”

No doubt Barr felt that she would be afraid to meet with real Merkins because only Republicans speak for them. But to his surprise, she accepted and tweeted that she looked forward to persuading his voters that it was she who was best representing their needs and interests and not Barr.
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John Oliver exposes the Sacklers-again

The Sackler family, the owners of the Purdue Pharma that aggressively marketed the painkiller Oxycontin resulting in an explosive growth in drug addiction, has been dragged into the spotlight and are now the target of multiple lawsuits by states. As a result these highly secretive people, who only allow their names to be public when they put it on buildings as part of their ‘philanthropy’, have been forced to give legal depositions. But their lawyers have aggressively worked to have their video depositions sealed
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Good News! Health care stocks fall

I have long held that the only economic measure that matters in the US is the stock market. While other measures such as unemployment and wage rates, income and wealth inequality, health and education measures, housing and rental prices and the like may have much greater significance for the vast majority of people, the oligarchy only cares about the value of their stock portfolio. As long as the stock market rises at a healthy clip, champagne corks will be popping even as climate change threatens to destroy the world.
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The media and Democratic establishment attacks on Bernie are taking a familiar form

To the consternation of the Democratic party establishment and the mainstream media, Bernie Sanders is once again proving that he has strong support, both in terms of getting large numbers of volunteers signed up and in small donations. The party establishment hates him because he is not part of the neoliberal wing that encompasses the Clintons, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden, plus many of the other contenders for the party’s presidential nomination. Sanders and Warren are the two people who are taking direct aim at the control by the oligarchy of pretty much all the major institutions of American political and economic life.
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“A Message from the Future”

Naomi Klein introduces a powerful seven-minute video daring us to imagine how the Green New Deal can take us to a future much better than the one we are currently on a path towards.

TODAY, THE INTERCEPT launches “A Message From the Future With Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” a seven-minute film narrated by the congresswoman and illustrated by Molly Crabapple. Set a couple of decades from now, it’s a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?

Yo Yo Ma gets political

The world famous cellist is noted for his genial personality and his untiring efforts to use music to promote understanding between the peoples of the world. He has not been overtly political but he just brought his Bach Project to the sister cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, playing at the border. There were also performances on the Mexican side. He also spoke decrying the building of a border wall.

Bernie rocks the audience at Fox News town hall

Bernie Sanders spoke at a town hall sponsored by Fox News. More than 2.5 million viewers watched the event, the largest audience for any of the town halls held so far. You would think that the audience at an event sponsored by the cable news channel that is a fervent supporter of Trump and held in an area that voted strongly for Trump would be unsympathetic to Sanders’s message but it turns out that they responded well.
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Child marriage in the US

I would have thought that child marriage was illegal in the US, but apparently not. Based on a survey, it was estimated that between 2000 and 2010, about 248,000 children, some as young as 12, were married in the US, 77% of them young girls married to adult men. The highest rate of child marriage was in the state of Idaho and a bill to stop it was recently defeated in the Republican-controlled state legislature.
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End of the road for civil asset forfeiture?

I have written repeatedly about the abuse of the so-called ‘civil asset forfeiture’ provisions in the law that many government authorities use to seize the assets of people simply because of the suspicion that they may have been involved in a crime. The government holds on to these assets even if the person is not even charged with the crime. It should not be surprising that it is mostly low-income people who are at the receiving end. The people whose assets are seized have to sue the government to get them back, a complicated and expensive process, and many of the affected people simply do not have the resources to do so, so they end up losing their homes and their cars, which are often the only assets they have.
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