Matt Stoller at The Atlantic takes us back to the time "Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul" -- specifically, the time the "Watergate babies" that came into Congress in 1975 overthrew a populist anti-bank committee chair who had been in Congress for nearly half a century. Mr. Patman, a Texas House Rep, pretty much exemplifies all the contradictions about populism during the New Deal era -- he, like many populists and progressives of the era, was, at various times, a segregationist and a Vietnam War supporter, but his fierceness against bankster capitalism and corporate monopoly power remains unmatched by any member of Congress today, including Sen. Warren. Of course the whippersnappers who helped overthrow him also helped turn the Democratic party into the party of social liberalism, which essentially meant that economic populists were abandoned by both parties. Read the whole thing, though -- it's a marvelous history lesson, one that (as all great history lessons do) suggests what we can do about it if we only do it en masse.
Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals panel rules unanimously that torture is so unlawful that it's "beyond the power of even the president to declare such conduct lawful." You'd think a lot of right-wingers would applaud this decision, given that it declares the primacy of law and order over any faux-serious debate about military tactics, and restricts Presidential power just as the Founders intended, but instead they'll probably just yammer on about activist judges and that speech Jack Bauer gave on 24.
Dean Baker at TruthOut talks about the need to "retake the English language" when talking about "free" trade. He's made these points before, but he hasn't made them quite so clearly -- that it's literally impossible to call a trade pact a "free" trade deal if it codifies all sorts of policies, like expanding patent and copyright protections, that actually restrict trade, and a trade pact can hardly be a "free" trade when tariffs are already historically low. Also, too, "(t)he real story here is that the TPP is a deal about redistributing more income upward. It's imposing more competition on those at the middle and the bottom while maintaining and increasing forms of protectionism that benefits those at the top."
One more note for those whippersnappers supposedly thinking of voting for Gary Johnson: Gary Johnson doesn't like net neutrality. He can't really tell you why, either: his answer (from a 2011 interview) essentially boils down to government does it, so it's bad. Refuse to do anything because of "unintended consequences" and guess what? You will never do anything, because everything has unintended consequences. I know what the fully-intended consequences of opposing net neutrality are, though: that corporations, not you, will control your internet experience. It's bad enough they control your cable TV experience, though if we passed a strong a la carte cable packaging bill, we could change that.
A former porn star accuses Donald Trump of inappropriately kissing her, with Mr. Trump retorting, "I'm sure she's never been grabbed before." Why he recast her accusation as "grabbing" rather than "kissing" is unclear, unless he thought it made a better zinger, but no porn star deserves to be grabbed or kissed without their permission merely because they've done the deed in a movie -- using what happens under a contract to describe consent is moronic. (As an aside, why is he saying he'll sue all these women if he becomes President? Why not now?)
Finally, notorious cartoonist Jack Chick, purveyor of short, primitively-drawn religious tracts that have inspired mirth and scorn from young folks for decades, has died at the age of 92. Mr. Chick's little pamphlets, which religious folks have often distributed for free, rail against the occult, Catholicism, Communism, Islam, drugs, and homosexuality, among so, so many other things, and though of course I disagree profoundly with his notion that your only choice is either to believe in Jesus or go to hell, I must admit that he had a fierceness about him I can't help but admire -- a fierceness he could turn on himself occasionally, it seems. I'd be glib to say I'd feel differently about him if he'd taken over the world, because that was never going to happen -- he wasn't good enough at disguising his aims, possibly because he never tried. R.I.P.