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Gender: Female
Hometown: London
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Current location: Stockholm, Sweden
Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 07:25 PM
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Journal Archives

Katie Porter and the politics of real life

The California Democrat, famous for her viral confrontations, is admired by fans and resented by some ex-employees. Now she’s running for Senate.



I had been granted an hour with the congresswoman, which felt generous, but she was about 15 minutes late, which was understandable. The House is an insane place to work, running for Senate is an insane thing to do, and having three underage kids, and about 755,000 constituent bosses, and 19 hours of commuting every week between Washington and Orange County, Calif. — well, time is scarce for Rep. Katie Porter. When the California Democrat arrived earlier this year for our meeting at a coffee shop near her basement apartment on Capitol Hill, she enthused about the shamrock hue of her outfit, which jibed with the unusually green lapel pin of the 118th Congress.

She herself hasn’t been a great match for the House of Representatives, which she describes in her book, published in the spring, with startling honesty. “Being a single mom of young kids in Congress was not possible,” she writes of her first year in office. The job was “just too hard.” The day before the 2019 in-person deadline to file for her first reelection campaign, Porter was here in Washington, far from the Orange County Registrar of Voters, and “so tired I couldn’t see straight.” She was resigned to failure, to being a one-term congresswoman, because she couldn’t get her act together to run again. She was “seething” that the Founding Fathers had wives and servants “to do their bidding while they endlessly debated in Washington, without worry about their children getting to bed on time.”

But 3½ years later — near the beginning of her third term, a campaign for Senate and a book tour — Porter was a vision of energy and focus. The growing pains had been tough, but now she was ready to reach higher, for the upper chamber. “With Senator Feinstein ending her service, with Nancy [Pelosi] not being speaker” and “with Gavin [Newsom] on a different path, shall we say, there are big shoes to fill in California, politically,” said Porter, 49, shaking a Splenda into her coffee. “And if we don’t have a scrappy, strategic, strong messenger in that role, we will not be able to win in every part and pocket of California.”

Power is what Porter wanted when she ran for office — the power to confront cheating corporations, to make the government responsive to the people. A “durable majority” of Democrats in Congress is what Porter wants now. She’s fed up with the party’s struggle to keep its head above water. “We’re going backwards in terms of the number of Democratic women” in the Senate, she told me. “To me, equality is not electing Joni Ernst‚” the Republican senator from Iowa. “Like, that’s not helping.”


Dan Carlin's Hardcore History 69 - Twilight of the Aesir

This show picks up where Dan’s Thor’s Angels show left off. In the early Middle Ages Pagan Germanic-language speakers like the Vikings are a dying breed. Many of their contemporaries wish they’d die faster.

Thor's Angels Link


Just when I thought the false equivalencies couldn't get dumber



During a CNN interview after a Republican Party debate hosted by Fox News on August 6, 2015, Donald Trump had said that Fox News anchor and debate co-moderator Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever" while questioning him during the debate. The next day, Erickson disinvited Trump from a RedState gathering held in Atlanta, calling Trump's remark "a bridge too far" and that even "blunt talkers and unprofessional politicians should not cross" certain lines, including decency. The following day, Trump released a statement stating that Erickson had a history of making controversial statements for which he has had to apologize, and that he, Trump, was an outsider who did not fit into Erickson's agenda.

Erickson described Trump as "a racist" and "a fascist", and insisted, "I will not vote for Donald Trump. Ever."

In February 2019, Erickson endorsed Trump for re-election in the 2020 presidential election.

I dress like you predict


Metropolitan Police officer accused of Tasering girl, 10, twice



A Met Police officer accused of Tasering a 10-year-old girl two times is set to face a misconduct hearing.

PC Jonathan Broadhead is alleged to have used force that was not "necessary, reasonable and proportionate" on 21 January 2021.

If the case against him is proven, the Met said he would have breached standards of professional behaviour relating to the use of force, and this would amount to gross misconduct.

The hearing starts on 27 November.

The Failure of Dodd-Frank

‘Too big to fail’ is more pervasive and regulation more captured than ever. What went wrong?


Beginning in 2011, Wells Fargo, today the country’s fourth-largest bank, launched a cross-selling plan to persuade existing bank customers to buy other products. This dubious but legal business model metastasized into a scheme where the bank opened extra checking and savings accounts and provided credit cards without the customer’s consent. The number of fraudulent accounts eventually totaled more than three million. That gross fraud produced excess costs to consumers, lucrative fees for the bank, and fat paydays for bank executives, particularly through their stock options. The cross-selling scheme was mostly an attempt to prove to investors that the company was growing, and as the stock rose, executives who were paid through equity awards benefited.

When the scheme unraveled, two Wells Fargo CEOs were eventually forced out. Some 5,600 low-level employees, who had been pressured by their managers to carry out the illegal ploy, were scapegoated and lost their jobs. The bank paid fines in the hundreds of millions. One senior executive, who was responsible for executing the design and aggressively pressuring employees to carry it out, faced criminal charges. But last Friday, Carrie Tolstedt, the chief of the bank’s retail operations for a decade, managed to avoid prison time, continuing a long pattern in which senior bankers, who create gross frauds and cause the suffering of millions of people, never go to jail.

Tolstedt was sentenced by a federal judge in Los Angeles to three years’ probation, six months of home confinement, 120 hours of community service, and a token fine of $100,000. (Previously, Tolstedt paid a $17 million fine to settle separate charges with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which makes that $100,000 fine look even more ineffectual.) The judge, Josephine Staton, was an Obama appointee. The Justice Department, which launches criminal prosecutions of bankers with the greatest reluctance, had prosecuted Tolstedt for the most minor of several possible offenses, failure to cooperate with regulators. In March, Tolstedt agreed to a plea bargain that might have included jail, but didn’t.

Tolstedt’s avoidance of prison is the perfect symbol of a bank regulatory and accountability system that is still broken, 15 years after the great financial collapse and 13 years after the Dodd-Frank Act supposedly ended “too big to fail.” It did not. Today’s big banks are bigger and more concentrated than ever. They take excessive risks in order to fatten executive pay, knowing that government will have to bail them out if they get into trouble, because of the catastrophic risk of systemic contagion. This was exactly the script that government followed after the collapse in 2008, and the script that Dodd-Frank was supposed to prevent ever recurring: Privatize the gain, socialize the loss.


The Absurdity of Washington Brain

Where what matters in House Republican strategy doesn’t actually matter


Congress is hurtling toward an October 1 government shutdown, after agreeing to overall spending levels for next year’s budget just four months ago in the debt ceiling deal. That agreement was immediately broken by all sides, and so the current fight is just a replay of these disputes, conveniently without the full faith and credit of the U.S. government at risk. In that narrow, relative sense, what Congress is doing now is practically responsible. But that’s only true until you look under the hood at what they’re spending their time doing, just a couple weeks out from the drop-dead date.

So far, the House has passed one of the 12 annual spending bills needed to complete appropriations; the Senate has passed zero. It’s obvious a continuing resolution to fund the government is needed, to buy more time for an agreement. House and Senate leaders announced that weeks ago. Inherent in the term “continuing” resolution is that it continues the spending from the status quo. That’s understood by and good enough for probably 80 to 90 percent of the House and Senate, if not more. It’s only not good enough for the small faction of Freedom Caucus conservatives, who lost the debt ceiling fight and want to exact revenge.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) believes that his position is dependent on the Freedom Caucus not throwing him out of office like they did the last two Republican leaders. So the first thing he did when the House returned from summer break—only three weeks from the deadline—was to unilaterally initiate an impeachment investigation against Joe Biden. This was done entirely to cozy up to the obstinate hard right. But even before McCarthy made the announcement, they all said this would not mollify them at all. So predictably, when asked how an impeachment inquiry would affect their demands on spending, Freedom Caucus member Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) said, “Zero. Zero. They’re totally unrelated.”

Only in Washington would you respond to a set of demands with an unrelated demand and expect that to work: It’s like a manager responding to workers wanting to see the air-conditioning fixed at the office by bringing in a pinball machine. But some parasitic worm endemic to Capitol Hill gets into the brains of the leadership, seizes control of the relevant neurons, and commands the Speaker to try these absurd gambits. McCarthy then had to shelve a defense appropriations bill because there were not enough votes available on his right and none to his left. He says that will get a vote this week, win or lose. Can I get odds on that?


Elon Musk Is Mulling Charging All X Users a Monthly Fee


Elon Musk is considering bringing yet another change to X, formerly known as Twitter: charging all users a monthly fee.

The billionaire is already charging users for verification as part of a subscription service now known as X Premium.

But in a livestreamed conversation Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Musk floated charging all users “a small amount of money” in an effort to fight proliferating bots on the platform.

“The single, most important reason that we’re moving to having a small, monthly payment for use of the X system is it’s the only way I can think of to combat vast armies of bots,” he said.

Read it at The Wall Street Journal

The Social Media Panicmongers Have Pivoted to AI

The science populists who stoked a Reefer Madness-like hysteria about social media are onto their next target—and predictably predicting the imminent end of the world.


Artificial intelligence (AI) has in 2023 quickly eclipsed social media and smartphones as the technology du jour for secular doomsday preachers. Concerns about content-ranking algorithms and “dark patterns” suddenly felt quaint compared to sentient AI exterminating (or displacing) every human on the planet. Mark Zuckerberg, once an unyielding digital titan, now feels like MySpace Tom reigning over an uncool, increasingly irrelevant virtual realm.

This sudden narrative shift posed a dilemma for a cottage industry of self-styled “tech-ethicists” who once effortlessly garnered book deals, headlines, and interviews on the topic of social media-induced societal collapse. Now, they find themselves outcompeted in the attention economy by the likes of AI safety researchers like Elizer Yudkowsky, who called for theoretical nuclear strikes on server farms in Time magazine, and Connor Leahy, who went on CNN to warn Christine Amanpour about the extinction of the human race. So, they hastily adjusted their messaging to compete.

Roger McNamee, author of the book, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, dismissed the positive potential of AI on CNN, only days after a New York Times report on AI helping a paralyzed man walk again. Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen predicted 10 million deaths from social media while promoting her new book, The Power of One: How I Found the Strength to Tell the Truth and Why I Blew the Whistle on Facebook. The influential public intellectual Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, went from calling free information “dangerous” to suggesting tech executives should face jail for allowing AI generated profiles. All three signed their names to a March 2023 open letter—released by the Elon Musk-backed Future of Life Institute—which demanded a six-month hiatus on AI development.

Also among the letter’s signees was Tristan Harris, the photogenic poster boy of tech-ethicism who famously eschewed his six-figure Silicon Valley salary—after pushing for design ethics at Google—to start the Center for Humane Tech, where he led a crusade against smartphones and social media. Harris’ influence and profile has now risen to the point of being invited to a recent Senate meeting on AI, along with Bill Gates and Elon Musk. A month after the letter’s publication, Harris and his team delivered a chilling presentation titled, “The AI Dilemma,” a reference to the social media-panic documentary, The Social Dilemma, of which they were also heavily involved. In the film, Harris claimed, “no one ever said this about the bicycle”—in regards to social media’s impact on society—which is an ahistorical statement, quickly (and ironically) fact-checked on social media.


Shaker Heights: One Suburb's Attempt to Build an Integrated Community


If you care about social mobility and cohesion in America, you have to care about the enduring racial segregation—and rising income segregation—found in American neighborhoods and public schools. Yet these problems are so pervasive that they have in some ways taken on the air of inevitability. So it’s intriguing to come across a community that has taken a more hopeful path. That’s the subject of Washington Post reporter Laura Meckler’s fascinating new book, Dream Town: Shaker Heights and the Quest for Racial Equity. Why, she asks, has one upper-middle class Cleveland suburb tried, over several decades, to create something different: a racially integrated community and system of public schools? And how successful has it been?

Meckler, a Gen Xer who grew up and attended public schools in Shaker Heights, draws upon more than 250 interviews to tell the evolution of the town through a series of engaging vignettes about individuals from Shaker Heights’ black and white communities. She details what Shaker Heights got right, as well as where it fell short, or overreached. Throughout, she questions dominant narratives found on parts of the left that America is too racist to seek integration anywhere, and from parts of the right that school integration is a distraction from America’s “real” educational problems, teacher unions and single-parent families.

Located next to the City of Cleveland’s east side, Shaker Heights began in the early twentieth century as a classic exclusive American suburb that was socially engineered to include only “people of the right sort”—those who were white, Christian, and wealthy. Developers in the 1920s advertised that the town would offer “contentment, forever assured by protective restrictions.” Local developers and landowners used the tools then available: now-unconstitutional racially restrictive covenants and economic zoning rules that outlawed the construction of multifamily housing in most areas of town, zoning rules that remain pervasive today.

In Shaker Heights, the community’s builders noted, homes would be required to be two full stories in height, and residents would be safe from “flats, terraces, and double houses.” This policy kept working-class people of all races out, and when a few upper-middle class black families tried to buy in Shaker Heights in the 1920s, they faced intimidation and attempts to drive them out with stones and fire. By the mid-twentieth century Shaker Heights would grow to become one of the wealthiest communities in the country, one that remained overwhelmingly white.

Embracing Racial Integration........


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