David Graeber, writing for the Guardian, writes about the success leftist Kurds in Rojava have had in maintaining democratic structures, at least until ISIS came along. If you're wondering why you hadn't heard of this before, n.b. that the Rojavan Revolutionary Party maintains ties to Turkey's Kurdish Workers Party, which Western governments (including ours) have classified as a terrorist organization. Perhaps the West should look into that matter a bit more, since you'd hate to think we'd pass up a chance to kick ISIS's collective ass merely because it would mean making common cause with hard-left groups that have actually changed over the years. Unless, of course, the West wants ISIS to be just strong enough so that Westerners keep electing reactionaries to office.
Jim Hightower explains the rise of for-profit debt collection corporations. Like the vulture capitalists described by Greg Palast, these debt collectors buy up personal debt from banks and other creditors for mere pennies per dollar, then come after the debtors fast and hard. And most of these debtors -- unable to afford lawyers because, you know, the economy -- wind up in default, and then these corporations will get to repossess property and garnish wages forever more. Nice work if you can get it! Silver lining? A lot of the debts these corporations buy are backed by unlawfully lousy paperwork -- the corporations get employees to sign affidavits attesting to their truth, but New York AG Eric Schneiderman has been pretty successful poking holes in said affidavits. Remind you of anything -- like, say, robosigning?
Jeb Bush tries to be clever, blaming the federal minimum wage for keeping folks in poverty, letting the rich get richer, and "squeezing the middle class." None of which explains why he says "state minimum wages are fine," since, by his logic, they presumably do all the same damage at the state level. Oh, and this notion that people won't be able to get jobs because the minimum wage were higher? Total horsedoodle -- most minimum wage jobs in America are fairly essential, and people would notice if they were suddenly gone because they paid $10/hour instead of $7.25/hour. But seriously, he cares. He really does. And that magically transmutes his pro-corporate positions into pro-people ones. Really.
California state government revokes health insurer Blue Shield of California's tax exempt status. Apparently all the constant rate-hiking, executive-overpaying, and profit-hoarding calls attention to itself after a while -- and Blue Shield's efforts at PR damage control after previous controversies turned out to be too little, too late. That multimillion dollar luxury box at a football stadium sure didn't help, either. I'm not even particularly opposed to letting a non-profit such as Blue Shield keep a little cash in reserve, but they're clearly gaming the system.
Finally, in an interview with Vice, President Obama says Republicans, at least as far as climate change is concerned, are "often motivated, principally, by opposing whatever it is that I propose." It's one thing for me to say it, but another thing entirely for him to finally come out with it. And yet he also says it's a "phase that the Republican party is going through right now," one it will "outgrow." Ask Bill Clinton if Republicans ever "outgrow" that "phase." Ask the next Democratic President, too, whenever we get another one of those.