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February 28, 2018

Gun Manufacturers Targeting the "Xbox Generation"


Speaking to a shareholder meeting in September, James Debney, the CEO of of American Outdoor, expressed excitement about the "change in the demographic" of those buying the company's gun. "Many more younger people from urban areas versus older people from rural areas, let's say, are showing a strong interest in the shooting sports," Debney said.

Debney credits "savvy marketing" for American Outdoor's success in luring first-time buyers, noting that young consumers have a strong interest in self defense and going to firing ranges that are increasingly opening in urban areas. "Younger people," Debney said, describing the demographics of new customers, "millennials coming through strongly. And then, also, many more women showing an interest in the shooting sports."


At the Bank of America Leveraged Finance Conference in November, the CFO of one of the largest companies involved in gun accessories and ammunition was explicit about the video-game appeal to young gun enthusiasts. "It has become a recreational shooting market, partly driven by the Xbox generation coming of age," said Stephen Nolan, of Vista Outdoor. "And two trends which bode very well to the market long term: significant influx of younger shooters and significant influx of female shooters into the market." Younger shooters, he explained, look to buy paper targets of zombies or vampires, and are more interested in buying high volumes of ammunition.

THE NRA, WHICH is funded by gun manufacturers, has long maintained youth outreach programs. The group sponsors high school gun clubs around the country, including one with the JROTC program attended by Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland shooter. The group sponsors a number of programs for high school-level shooters, including the NRA's Youth Education Summit, which has events all around the country for young gun enthusiasts.


There are indications that the gun industry is making inroads. In a recent Marist poll, a majority of all age groups supported stricter gun rules. But people between 18 and 39 years old, the youngest grouping surveyed, favored stricter gun rules by a smaller percentage -- 64 percent, versus a national average of 71 percent -- than the other age groups.

By min | February 28, 2018, 1:16 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Shock Doctrine in Puerto Rico


ONE OF THE same banks that drove the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, into the red will now be paid to help auction it off to the highest bidder.

Citigroup Global Markets Inc., or Citi, will be the main investment bank consultant in the restructuring and privatization of PREPA, the Washington-appointed Fiscal Control Board -- the body now overseeing Puerto Rico's finances -- announced recently. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló first announced the move toward privatization last month.


Citi is responsible for having underwritten large chunks of the utility's $9 billion in debt, and at one point owned at least hundreds of millions of dollars in PREPA bonds directly, according to an analysis from the Action Center on Race and the Economy. Citi "has been profiting from helping push Puerto Rico over the edge for a long time," said Carrie Sloan, ACRE's research director.

"The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them," Lenin is famously reported to have quipped. But he never said it, which is just as well, since it's slightly off. The capitalists will sell you the rope with which you'll hang yourself -- and then buy it back at a discount when you're finished.

By min | February 28, 2018, 1:10 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Janus and Agency Fees

Janus is the third case to come before the Supreme Court in five years involving public-sector unions' ability to collect "fair share" (or "agency") fees. As this report will show, Janus, and the two fair share cases that preceded it, did not grow from an organic, grassroots challenge to union representation. Rather, the fair share cases are being financed by a small group of foundations with ties to the largest and most powerful corporate lobbies. These organizations and the policymakers they support have succeeded in advancing a policy agenda that weakens the bargaining power of workers. In Janus, these interests have focused their attack on public-sector workers--the workforce with the highest union density.
The possibility that workers could decide not to pay for the union benefits they receive if fair share fees are outlawed does not mean that they do not value these benefits. This proposition was explained in an amici curiae brief to assist the Supreme Court in understanding the free-rider problem at issue in Janus v. AFSCME, which was signed by 36 distinguished economists and professors of economics and law, including three Nobel laureates. The scholars explained that the free-rider problem is a well-established concept in economics. In particular, the brief shows it is widely accepted that if an individual chooses not to pay for a resource provided to him or her for free, it does not mean the individual does not value the resource, and that when individuals who benefit from a resource do not pay for it, the resource will be underprovided.

For example, as the brief points out, a recent union recertification election in Iowa revealed that a majority of workers in the bargaining unit voted in favor of continuing to be represented by the union, even though most of them also opted out of paying fair share fees.


Many of the organizations financing the legal challenges to workers' rights have also been funding legislative battles focused on limiting workers' rights. How do these groups benefit by limiting workers' rights? Anti-worker policies shift a greater share of economic gains to corporate players and away from ordinary workers. This is evident in the relationship between declining union membership and rising inequality. As union membership has fallen over the last few decades, the share of income going to the top 10 percent has steadily increased.

It's a bit of a long read but maps out how these wealthy corporate groups have been chipping away at unions over the years.


By min | February 28, 2018, 12:58 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Orrin Hatch's Shitty H-1B Bill

The thrust of any guestworker proposals that may arise will be to widen the essentially lawless zone in the labor market that has been carved out by the proliferation of temporary work visa programs, which put American and permanent immigrant workers into competition with temporary migrants who are denied all opportunity to bargain meaningfully for higher wages. This week's debate in the Senate should prioritize providing a path to citizenship for DREAMers, not opportunistically expanding the share of workers in America who are not protected by labor standards.

As the Los Angeles Times recently suggested, there may be an attempt to include a bill from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that would triple the number of college-educated temporary migrant workers who are employed in the H-1B visa program--a flawed guestworker program used mainly to outsource jobs in information technology and send high-tech jobs offshore. Hatch's bill is known as I-Squared, and although Hatch is trying to sell it as an increase in "merit-based" immigration, it is primarily an attempt to increase the number of temporary migrant workers the tech industry can hire at low wages.


By min | February 28, 2018, 12:49 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

AAPI Wage Gap

The wage gap is relatively small between white men and Asian American women largely because Asian American women actually have higher levels of educational attainment than white men.

By min | February 28, 2018, 12:40 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Today in Desperately Clinging To Power news

Eat A Bag Of Dicks, or The Case Of The Mysteriously Growing List Of Delegates.

By fnord12 | February 28, 2018, 12:37 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Today in horrible economic news

Corporate America Is Suppressing Wages for Many Workers.

Consumers are falling behind on their debts.

No progress, and in some metrics negative progress, in the economic situation for African Americans compared to 1968.

By fnord12 | February 28, 2018, 12:27 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 27, 2018

Word Salad from the NYT Op-Editor

Ashley Feinberg has a write up of a behind-the-scenes meeting run by the guy in charge of the New York Times editorial page. Additionally, you can read a transcript of the meeting. And one of the questions was why aren't there any voices representing the Bernie wing, and the response is unintelligible and ultimately ends with a cry for help, as if finding such people is an impossibility.

NYT employee: It's a follow-up to something kind of earlier. You identified that you're having trouble finding new voices, and that a lot of the problems you've identified seem to be that we just don't have people representing certain positions. During the election you had no strong advocate for [Sen.] Bernie Sanders [I-Vt.], or any of those positions. And so I guess, in the more recent months, in your attempts to find those voices, where have you been looking, what types of people have you been looking for, and how are you trying to get a more diverse group of people regularly writing in the op-ed section?

Bennet: I think we need, and you know, I'm sorry if I'm going to talk in code a little bit here, but I'm not talking about ideology necessarily. I'm talking about identity, as well. What columnists do, you know, again, highly intellectually honest, highly entertaining, highly interesting writers who have a lot to say -- hard to find those people from the get-go. What a columnist is is a trusted voice in your ear that helps you process, kind of, the world in real time, right? Through a particular lens. And there are a number of lenses we're missing right now, I think. And a lot of those are, it's gender and it's identity, you know, as well as ideology.

So where am I looking? I'm asking, I'm asking you guys. You know, send me names, please. You know, if there are people that you're reading that you think belong in The New York Times. You know, please. I always, when I was at The Atlantic, I always kept a list of Atlantic writers who didn't work for The Atlantic, just who felt like -- I was at The Atlantic magazine before I came back to the Times, and there was a particular kind of, not that dissimilar from the kind of people we're looking for now, with voice. And I could see them on other platforms and they just didn't know that they were Atlantic people yet, but they were. And I don't have as good a list now as I did then. It might be my own failing. Earlier I blamed the environment for that. But I'm taking nominations.

I've been... if I could, this is what I would be spending 90 percent of my time on. Because hiring in general, and I'm sure you guys feel this, too, is the most important thing that we do. Like, that's the most important editing we do, is picking the people. After that, you know, you ideally cut them loose to do their thing. In reality, I'm spending a small percentage of my time on this. So I would love help. So please send your nominations my way.

By the way, this was in December, so if he did get such nominations, he hasn't acted on them yet.

By fnord12 | February 27, 2018, 12:53 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

When your opponent is drowning in typos, throw them... an eraser?

DDay wonders if the Democrats are going to keep playing Goofus and Gallant when it comes to the Republican's Tax Bill.

By fnord12 | February 27, 2018, 12:31 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Thoughts and prayers

When "thoughts and prayers" has become such a running joke that even CNN knows about it, you can bet that it's what the DCCC is sending out to candidates as earnest advice.

By fnord12 | February 27, 2018, 12:29 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 26, 2018

Super Mega Medicare Ultra Extreme III Alright!!!!

Four takes on CAP's Medicare "Extra" For All proposal. Some are about the politics of it, some about the actual proposals.

Matt Bruenig.

Jon Walker.

Adam Gaffney.

Sarah Kliff.

By fnord12 | February 26, 2018, 2:35 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 25, 2018

Cockblocked in Denmark


Thirty-three-year-old Daryush Valizadeh, known to his predominantly heterosexual male fan base as Roosh, is a well-known pick-up artist within the worldwide "Seduction Community," which relies on pop evolutionary psychology to teach the art of getting laid. Its origins date back to dubious neuro-linguistic programming "speed seduction" theories in the early 1990s, but the Community rose to prominence with investigative reporter Neil Strauss's 2005 bestseller exposé The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, which spawned a VH1 reality show and drew aspiring "PUAs" to online forums and self-proclaimed gurus promising foolproof seduction strategies.

Pick-up artists believe that all women are the same: submissive, choosier than men when picking sexual partners, entranced by shiny objects. In the Community, players are self-made; most renowned pick-up artists claim they were socially awkward losers until they learned the tricks of the trade. If a pick-up artist hones his "inner game" (confidence) as well as his "outer game" (appearance), he can control his sexual future. When women come with cheat codes, rejection is not an option; if a play fails, the player tweaks his strategy instead of conceding defeat.


But Roosh's Denmark directory diverges from his usual frat-boy Casanova fantasies liberally seasoned with rape jokes. Don't Bang Denmark--note the dramatic title change--is a cranky volume that (spoiler alert!) probably won't help any Roosh acolytes score. Roosh calls it the "most angry book" he's ever written. "This book is a warning of how bad things can get for a single man looking for beautiful, feminine, sexy women."

What's blocking the pussy flow in Denmark? The country's excellent social welfare services. Really.


By min | February 25, 2018, 1:49 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

ICE's Racist "Extreme Vetting Initiative"

Having learned nothing from when we targeted Japanese Americans and put them into internment camps...

ICE's proposed "Extreme Vetting Initiative" (EVI) aims to use automated machine learning and social media monitoring vet visa applicants, generate leads for deportation, and continuously monitor people within the U.S.
ICE has plans to hire a third party contractor to design algorithms that will continuously trawl through the social media accounts of everyone inside the country. Their program aims to evaluate whether an individual will become "a positively contributing member of society" or whether they "intend to commit criminal or terrorist attacks" - language lifted directly from the president's Muslim Ban executive orders. This Extreme Vetting Initiative is tailor made for discrimination, and given our country's history in doing just that, we need to make sure that this program never gets off the ground.

On President's Day this year, we marked the 76th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which was signed by Roosevelt to forcibly remove over 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent to incarceration sites during WWII. This is an explicit example of how the government used its discretion to decide someone's "ability to contribute to national interests" and because of wartime hysteria and racism, they decided Japanese Americans as a whole failed to do so.

Japanese American communities were also long surveilled before being forcibly removed to prison camps. They were treated as the enemy despite citizenship or green card standing. Similar to the implications of social media monitoring, Japanese Americans were also subjected to ideological monitoring based on criteria of whether they'd "contribute to American society".


ICE's use of social media monitoring will only serve to chill free speech while targeting people of color, naturalized citizens, and long term visa holders. We know that ICE will inevitably share this information with other agencies and more people will be caught in the dragnet. Congress needs to take action and press DHS to end the program before it's deployed.


By min | February 25, 2018, 12:43 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

The Bright Side of Janus

Relatively speaking.

On Monday the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31 - a case experts have long predicted could strike a mortal blow to public sector unions. The plaintiff, an Illinois state worker named Mark Janus, has argued that he has a First Amendment right to avoid paying anything to a union that bargains on his behalf. With the current ideological leanings of the court, the plaintiff -- and the conservative groups backing his lawsuit -- face strong odds of victory.

But while most of the media has focused on the fact that the Janus case stands to decimate union coffers - and by extension, Democratic Party coffers - some labor activists and legal scholars have begun sounding the alarm on what they say would be the unintended consequences of the suit, effectively opening up the floodgates for countless lawsuits like the recent ones filed by the International Union of Operating Engineers. If Mark Janus doesn't have to pay his agency fees because collective bargaining is speech he disagrees with, then collective bargaining is speech. And it can't be restricted. Indeed, when some of the lazier advocates of Janus lay out the case, they accidentally argue on behalf of unions' right to free speech. "Because government is both employer and policymaker, collect­ive bargaining by the union is inherently political advocacy and indistinguishable from lobbying," wrote George Will on Sunday, directly implicating the First Amendment.


If the Janus plaintiffs win their case, this critical distinction would be dismantled. (A decision is expected by June, when the court's term ends.) A union's bargaining and political lobbying would be treated the same -- as protected free speech. In other words, the court would actually be elevating the free speech standards of bargaining. That, in turn, could bring with it new legal protections.

"If the plaintiffs are right that collective bargaining is political speech indistinguishable from lobbying, well, the flip side of that coin is that that protected free speech can't be restricted," said Ed Maher, a spokesperson for the International Union of Operating Engineers. "We don't think this has been thoughtfully considered by the plaintiffs, and it is our belief that a win for Janus will open a tremendous Pandora's box."


It's not a great silver lining because in order to sue employers and governments on the grounds that collective bargaining is free speech, unions will need money to pay the legal fees, which they will have less of because of the predicted Janus ruling, but it's something. I also enjoy any time a law pushed by conservatives can be turned around against them, like the Satanists trying to get their Satan statue up in city capitols.

By min | February 25, 2018, 12:15 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 21, 2018

Highland Park sanctuary

Anyone who says that the Green party doesn't do enough locally needs to look at Seth Kaper-Dale.

That said, i wouldn't have minded if he ran as a Democrat to primary Menendez. (No offense to Michael Starr Hopkins.)

By fnord12 | February 21, 2018, 3:01 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 15, 2018


This is some incredible stuff and i expect we'll be seeing a lot more of it around the country as progressives challenge old guard Dems.

By fnord12 | February 15, 2018, 11:31 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Oh, nothing

But if you like, you can buy some lunchboxes or something.

I don't know what this thing is doing here. It's got no plot purpose, no character development purpose, not even any comic relief purpose exactly. It's just sort of here.

By fnord12 | February 15, 2018, 9:32 AM | Star Wars| Link

February 10, 2018

New Democratic campaign slogan

"We've got what we've got for the next 30 years."

(This was actually about repealing and replacing the Republican tax bill. Bernie Sanders, Dean Baker, and MMT guy Randy Wray - i.e. the lefties - do have some substantive ideas.)

By fnord12 | February 10, 2018, 1:10 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 9, 2018

As If Kids Weren't Punishment Enough

Having kids means having to take time off to take care of them when the little germ factories get sick. And if you don't get paid sick leave, that can be a huge financial problem. So when people start demanding paid sick leave for all jobs, what do we get offered instead? A plan that says you can get some paid sick leave in exchange for losing some of your pension. How exactly is this making things better?

The argument here is that the plan cannot be said to impose a punishment on parents because all it really does is shift around the punishment we already impose on parents. Put simply, the Rubio-Trump plan replaces the lost-earnings penalty that our current system imposes on parents with a lost-pensions penalty. So, it eliminates (reduces) an old penalty while imposing a new one.

DeSanctis insists that because these two penalties are equal in magnitude, there is no punishment involved, but that's a bizarre rhetorical dodge. If normally I punch you, but then decide going forward that I am going to kick you instead, would a normal person say that my new kicking policy does not constitute an attack on you? I don't think so.

The People's Policy Project writes about it here and here.

I don't agree with Bruenig's argument for cynical support.

The cynical case is that, after such a policy was enacted, it would be trivially easy to subsequently kill the part where parents who take the benefits are forced to retire later. In fact, you would have about 25 years of time before the first recipients of the paid leave benefit would be retiring. If the Democrats took control anywhere in that 25 years, they could ensure that nobody who received the paid leave benefit has to delay their retirement for doing so. Indeed, adopting the popular plank of "ending the parent retirement penalty" may even make it easier for them to take power in the future.

I think the Democrats have demonstrated time and time again that they have little desire to do much of anything, regardless of who's in charge. I wouldn't rely on them to fix anything no matter how many years they had to get it done. The years the Democrats controlled the House and Senate, they would try for some milquetoast bipartisan crap that the Republicans would easily block. Then when the Republicans gained both houses, the Dems would spend the whole time sitting on their hands while peddling the idea that they are just powerless to effect change at this particular time, but boy are they totally on your side so please vote for them next time.

fnord12: Republicans have a "solution" for student loan debt which also includes trading away your social security. Republicans really want you to give up your social security.

By min | February 9, 2018, 4:50 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Recap 82

Time Travel Ziggurat

By min | February 9, 2018, 3:30 PM | D&D| Link

Let the negative feedback loop continue

"The resistance gets rolled".

Liberal groups groused that their allies in Congress had yet again squandered their leverage, bowing to Republican promises to debate immigration but not necessarily to pass legislation. But Democrats seemed unconcerned about angering the party's left flank.

"My boss is the 700,000 [constituents] who I represent. That's who I report to," Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) said. "I don't report to anybody out here."

Indeed, Democrats on both ends of the party's ideological spectrum said that prodding from the left had little bearing on their vote.

They brag about ignoring their active base:

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) recalled being pressed two weeks ago to reject a deal to reopen the government. Nonetheless, "I voted yes," he said.

"I pay attention to everybody," said Brown, who's also spurned calls from the grass roots to champion a Medicaid-for-all effort this Congress. "If the suggestion is if I'm spooked by them or they affect my voting record, the answer is of course not."

I mean, fine, ignore these people. But then spare us the outrage when they don't show up at the polls or vote third party.

By fnord12 | February 9, 2018, 2:41 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Some of those that work forces

This keeps happening:

California police investigating a violent white nationalist event worked with white supremacists in an effort to identify counter-protesters and sought the prosecution of activists with "anti-racist" beliefs, court documents show.

This Intercept article did not get enough attention.

By fnord12 | February 9, 2018, 10:39 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

That'll show em


The budget agreement sets aside the question of immigration and what to do about the sunsetting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was at the heart of the standoff in January that ended in a three-day shutdown.

Led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrats threatened to shut down the government if House Speaker Paul Ryan didn't give assurances of a DACA fix vote. In the end, enough Democrats voted for the spending bill to offset the conservatives who didn't vote for it. But they made sure Republicans sweated on the floor, withholding their support until the very last minute.

I'm not saying the Democrats have a lot of power at the moment or that forcing a government shutdown over DACA is a good strategy, but the way they keep leading DACA supporters and activists on isn't winning them any favors. Last time they forced a shutdown, got nothing, and relented. This time they threatened a shutdown but didn't (but at least they made the Republican's "sweat", thanks Vox). Democrats keep wavering between saying how they'll fight for DACA and claiming powerlessness. Meanwhile, Rand Paul seems capable of shutting down the government all by himself. It's enough to convince DACA supporters that maybe the Democrats aren't exactly sincere. Again, not sure what the right move here really is. But in terms of messaging and clear tactics, the Democrats don't seem to be doing so good.

By fnord12 | February 9, 2018, 10:22 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 7, 2018

Got them scared?

Atrios has abandoned his normal brevity to rant about the astroturf campaign being set up to fight Medicare For All. See here and here. Also relevant is his post on means-testing.

Regarding United States of Care, it seems to me like Medicare For All must seem like a realistic threat to them if they feel the need to set up stuff like this.

By fnord12 | February 7, 2018, 6:19 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

WHO you gonna believe?


Republican lawmakers are threatening to cut off U.S. funding for the World Health Organization's cancer research program over its finding that the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup is probably carcinogenic to humans.

By fnord12 | February 7, 2018, 6:17 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

UBI or Die

This article talks about how Facebook (and presumably Twitter) is killing all content producers, largely because people can view the content on Facebook and never go to the producer' sites and generate ad revenue. I don't dispute anything in the article but i think the premise needs to be examined. Relying on ad revenue in the first place seems to be an increasingly dubious prospect on the internet, even if Facebook, Google, etc.. weren't sucking up all of what there is of it. We need a real solution to this problem, but it's not the sort of thing our 80 year old senators - bought by various interests - are equipped to discuss. And until someone comes up with a better idea, i'm going to say that we just need to give everyone a Universal Basic Income so that they can produce awesome stuff on the internet and not be afraid that they're going to starve to death because of Facebook.

By fnord12 | February 7, 2018, 11:40 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 5, 2018

$15 Isn't Even Enough

Using MIT's Living Wage Calculator (which breaks it down by county), someone made a map that shows how much 2 adults with 1 child would need to earn just to meet basic needs.

Click for larger image

Even in Kansas, you'd need $21/hr. In Jersey, you'd need $27/hr just to pay for food and rent and things just to live. But not savings. So, you'll also need to keep making this much up until the day you die. Don't even think about getting sick.

The current minimum wage in this state is $8.60. Meanwhile, you've got the State Senate President Stephen Sweeney and others not only making us fight to get $15/hr, they want to exclude people who do shift work or get paid in tips or work on farms. What the fuck? Why don't these guys just go around and tell people to die, because that's basically what they're doing by refusing to give people a living wage.

By min | February 5, 2018, 4:46 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 3, 2018

Unironically noting without comment

Here's a weird kind of inside baseball story about Frank Pallone and how people get "picked" to run for Senate in New Jersey that i'm linking to so i don't lose it.

By fnord12 | February 3, 2018, 1:01 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

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