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      Quantitative Easing, to put it simply, no matter what form you do it in, is only marginally effective. Most of the money goes to the rich, you may or may not get a technical win in GDP, and in many cases the money may flow out of the country. If you want to improve the [...]
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Choices, clarified

The Hillary2012 robocalls have spread to swing states and while we’re not really sure who is doing them or for what purpose (it could be that they just want Hillary in 2012), there’s something that the Obama contingent should keep in mind.

We have heard over and over again that Hillary has no plans to run in 2012.  Plans can change but we’ll take her at her word, for now.  However, just because the person most likely to succeed in capturing the White House for the Democrats is staying out of the race (for now), that doesn’t automatically mean that we have to vote for Obama.  All it means is that the Democratic party persists in offering me a lousy choice of a presidential candidate who does not meet my standards of executive leadership, performance or ethics.  That’s all it means.  My position has not changed.

If Bill Clinton wants to lower his standards and vote for Obama, that’s his choice.  He is a loyal Democrat and his opinion is still of value to the Democratic party.  But I don’t have to follow his advice.  My vote is my own and I am no longer a member of the Democratic party.  After 2008, I feel no sense of obligation or loyalty to the party.  The party hasn’t scored any points with me and I’m fairly moderate in my liberalism.  I’m not a tree hugging, vegan, anti-nuke, anti-genetically modified corn crunchy granola type.  That doesn’t make me an independent by choice.  I only mean to say that I don’t accept a lot of left dogma as part of my tribal identity.  I find Chris Hedges types to be pompous, pseudosincere, impractical bores who I would not want to chat with at a cocktail party.  I might want to sit in a dark corner and watch him do his thing but I’m not going to submissively approach and touch him like he’s the alpha male chimp of my unit group.

Here’s the bottom line, if Hillary jumps in the race, I’ll vote for her.  I’m not so pure that I blame her single vote out of 99 for the Iraq War Resolution (because that would be stupid, illogical and hypocritical especially if I had planned to vote for John Edwards in 2008 before he dropped out).  I also don’t blame her for the fact that the wars didn’t end on January 20, 2009.  That was never going to happen even if Gandhi had been elected because the Bushies intentionally destabilized central asia before they left.  I also don’t think she is the only person in the world who has accepted money from lobbyists but I do give her credit for not allowing that money to cloud her judgment or mess with her principles.  So, yeah, I’d vote for her if she got in.

I’d also vote for other Democrats should they decide to run.  Like Sherrod Brown.  Or Ed Rendell.  Or even Al Franken, though most Americans don’t understand how serious and committed he is and he’d have an uphill battle there.  But still, if he decided to run, I’d vote for him and campaign for him and walk the streets for him- gladly and with much enthusiasm.  Same with Bernie Sanders.

But if the DNC thinks I will just fall into line behind Obama after his poor performance, then they can kiss my ass.  Putting him out there for a second run is easy for the Democrats but I’m not accepting easy from them this year and neither should anyone else. If Obama had run for president on some obscure party ticket and ended up on the ballot in 2008, no one would have voted for him. Go on and do a thought experiment on this.  Imagine Barack Obama running for president as the nominee of the Green party in 2008.  The Green party has had African American candidates before.  Some of them might have been pretty good candidates.  But have you ever seen the media go nuts over a Green party candidate?  Of course not.  If Hillary ran for the Green party in 2008, that would be news. Obama running as a Green in 2008?  Snore. The Green party hasn’t reached the threshold of electoral numbers and victories that would give it the proper gravitas.  Neither has any other obscure established party.   It was only the fact that Obama scored the Democratic party nomination that made him seem like a legitimate and serious candidate.

Come to think of it, the “third party test” will now become a part of my criteria for evaluating major party candidates for office during the primaries and general election.  I will now ask myself, if this candidate was running for office on an obscure third party instead of a major party, would I still vote for him or her based on their level of experience, positions on issues and voting record?  If more people had asked themselves this question back in 2008, Hillary would be president right now.  For incumbents, I might apply the Jack Welch “rank and yank” criteria.  On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being best, how does this incumbent stack up against the past 5 presidents?  If he scores a 2 or below, he’s outta there.

So, next year, I expect Democrats to raise their standards and work hard to win me back.  Obama ain’t going to cut it for me because I already know that commodity and his attitude towards hard working middle class STEM workers (he believes the garbage that the executives tell him) and women (he doesn’t seem to think they have quite the moral authority of men) and I’m just not interested.  But if they offer me someone else, I might take a good hard look.  Otherwise, I might as well take a chance on some third party candidate.  Those third parties can’t be offering anything *worse* than Barack Obama or the Republican nominee, and there’s a good possibility that they have someone who is better, or at least able to do his or her own thinking.

I expect the Democrats will come back screaming about how we’re slitting our own throats but what they are really objecting to is the loss of their own power.  From where I sit, I don’t benefit by giving my vote to either one of the current major parties at the presidential level.  I *might* benefit if I give my vote to another party.  I have nothing to lose, but possibly everything to gain.  I feel no sense of obligation to help Democrats retain power if they have no sense of obligation to help me keep my job, health care or my house.  This is not a game.

So, while I don’t know what the robocallers are up to, I encourage Iowa and New Hampshire Democrats to make a little mischief.  Color outside the lines.  Push the envelope.  Subvert the dominant paradigm.  If you don’t want Obama either, do us all a favor and pick someone who isn’t on the ballot yet.  Occupy the primaries.  You know what to do.

Weird Weather Weekend Open Thread

What Oklahoma looks like today (photo by Native1)

Another snowy view from Native1

It’s a weekend for strange weather. We’ve had heavy snow down south, and way below normal temperatures up here in New England. Dakinikat said it was only about 38 degrees down in New Orleans today. My aunt lives down on the coast in Alabama, and they only had temperatures in the 40s. Our Virginia Conflucians have had heavy snow today too. Here’s the picture that Indigogrrl took of her barn this morning.

I’ve always found weather exciting. Even though I don’t love dealing with snow and ice, I still find big snowstorms kind of thrilling, and there is a nice feeling I get when I know I’m snowed in and don’t have to go out till the storm is over. I love thunderstorms too. I was born in Fargo, North Dakota, in the middle of a terrible blizzard. My mom actually had to go to the hospital a day early because the doctor was afraid if they waited, she wouldn’t be able to get there.

I’ve heard stories about extreme weather from my parents all my life. Maybe that’s where my fascination with weather comes from. My mom often talked about having to dig a tunnel out of the front door of their house back in Hope, North Dakota, in order to get to school. And my mom has talked about the time the temperature went up over 120 degrees, in 1934. That same year in the winter it got down to 60 below 0. That is still a record for extreme temperatures in one location in a year, and it is still the hottest year on record in the U.S. Those were the dustbowl days. My mom says the dust storms were horrible. I found this photo on-line. I’m not sure where it was taken.

In Fargo, where my dad grew up, they have periodic floods when the Red River overflows its banks. Those can get really bad. In 1997, a flood completely destroyed Grand Forks. Much of the downtown burned and had to be rebuilt.

Grand Forks after the 1997 flood and fire

This picture was taken in Fargo during the big flood a couple of years ago.

A dog looking at the swollen Red River in Fargo

My first fully conscious experience with extreme weather came when I was three years old. We lived in Iowa then, and we experienced a tornado. I still have a picture of my three-year-old self sitting on a huge fallen tree. The next year, we moved to Kansas where I was exposed to extreme heat. Many of my memories of Kansas involve us kids playing outside on 100-degree afternoons while our parents took shelter inside. I’ll never forget the day it went up to around 115 degrees and the heat broke the big thermometer in downtown Lawrence. Of course there were the usual pictures in the paper of people frying eggs on their sidewalks. Here’s a classic of the genre.

Hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk!

Here in New England we get some pretty extreme weather at times–though not as extreme as the hurricanes down south, the tornadoes in the midwest, or 40-below-zero days they get up in the north country where I was born. But we get some wild nor’easters–those can be really bad, and if they come in the winter it can mean a blizzard with a couple of feet of snow. In February of 1978, Governor Dukakis had to close down the entire state for a week because of the terrible blizzard we got. Here’s a shot of a highway north of Boston after the ’78 blizzard.

Of course New England weather is notoriously unpredictable, and we never know when we’ll get a snow or ice storm in April or even May In the late summer and fall, we often get the tail-end of hurricanes, and once in awhile we get a full-blown hurricane. One October in the 80s we lost our electricity for a week because of a hurricane–I think it was Gloria.

This is an open thread, but if you’d like to share your extreme weather stories, please do.

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