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Words not found in Michelle Obama’s Speech

Unemployment

Unemployed

Jobless

You can grep it yourself here: Text of Michelle Obama’s Speech at the DNC 2012.

People all over the country send her mail about the bills they can’t pay and their problems and she has no idea how those people got that way.  But if they just keep working hard, they’ll dig themselves out of the mess they’re in.  Whoo-hoo! Obama 2012!

By the way, the unemployment rate in NJ in August 2012 was 9.8%.  I’m guessing that included many, many overeducated professional college graduates with STEM degrees because that’s what I’m seeing, including some former colleagues of mine who are newly unemployed with the upcoming closure of the Roche research facility in Nutley, NJ.  My friends worked on cancer drugs.  Cancer.  We are closing cancer research labs all over NJ.

Here’s a snippet of Michelle’s speech:

And everywhere I’ve gone, in the people I’ve met, and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.

I have seen it in the incredible kindness and warmth that people have shown me and my family, especially our girls.

I’ve seen it in teachers in a near-bankrupt school district who vowed to keep teaching without pay.

I’ve seen it in people who become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others…flying across the country to put out a fire…driving for hours to bail out a flooded town.

And I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families…in wounded warriors who tell me they’re not just going to walk again, they’re going to run, and they’re going to run marathons…in the young man blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said, simply, “…I’d give my eyes 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done and what I can still do.”

Thank you, Effie Trinket.

Yes, we love to work without pay and it looks like we’re expected to do so indefinitely.  With more cuts in the Grand Bargain, more people will have an opportunity to work without pay for bankrupt school districts.  The only thing that could top that is having the bankers work without bonuses but I couldn’t find it in her speech.   And until Obama actually ends the wars he said he was ending, more soldiers will have the opportunity to lose limbs and eyes 100 times over.

That man is never going to see again.  He’s not going to see a Van Gogh blue sky on a summer day.  He’s not going to see his kids’ faces.  He’s not going to know how much money he has in his wallet without help.  He’s going to wake up in the dark for the rest of his life. That man is trying to give meaning to a loss from a now meaningless war while government contractors lobby Congress to keep the damn thing going.

I think your broccoli needs weeding. You may leave now.

May the odds be ever in your favor!

In case the youtube embed doesn’t work for you, here’s the link.  Great movie, made just in time for the 2012 elections. Spells it out for even the dimmest wit.

***************************

More Michelle moments, this time on equality for women:

Barack’s grandmother started out as a secretary at a community bank…and she moved quickly up the ranks…but like so many women, she hit a glass ceiling.

And for years, men no more qualified than she was – men she had actually trained – were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continued to scrape by.

But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus…arriving at work before anyone else…giving her best without complaint or regret.

And she would often tell Barack, “So long as you kids do well, Bar, that’s all that really matters.”

Nauseating.

Stop complaining, Ladies.  Your careers are just not that important.  We insist on making you choose between your family and your job.  Is my husband great or what!?

Tuesday: Disgusting

Awhile back, when the Occupy Movement was at its zenith, I speculated on why the naysayers were concentrating on the cleanliness aspect of occupation sites:

Speaking of theories, I have a new one about Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS ads against Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic Senate candidates.  It has to do with cleanliness.  This is based on a limited number of data points but if the hard core Fox News lovers I know are any indication, there are lot of people who are very fastidious about their bodies.  Chalk it up to a long gone era when virginity was prized (for some weird reason that bears no resemblance to reality) and nice girls didn’t indulge in unorthodox sexual activity.  Home Ec was not an elective.  Fastidiousness, cleanliness, keeping one’s personal habits and thoughts tidy or at least being ashamed of them- all very important.  Holy hemiola!, have you ever heard one of them go off about homosexuality??  It’s all about the dirtiness, *physical* dirtiness, that they dislike.  Now, I’m not sure that the typical Fox News viewer always felt this way about a little filth but for some reason, they are now.  Some conditioning from 5 decades ago has been pricked and Rove knows how to work it.  And just think about all that mud at Woodstock…

This is the video from the Crossroads foundation:

Looks like I was on to something.  Yesterday, an article in the NYTimes explained our human reaction to disgusting things and how that reaction can be used politically:

Disgust is the Cinderella of emotions. While fear, sadness and anger, its nasty, flashy sisters, have drawn the rapt attention ofpsychologists, poor disgust has been hidden away in a corner, left to muck around in the ashes.

No longer. Disgust is having its moment in the light as researchers find that it does more than cause that sick feeling in the stomach. It protects human beings from disease and parasites, and affects almost every aspect of human relations, from romance to politics.

[...]

Speaking last week from a conference on disgust in Germany, Valerie Curtis, a self-described “disgustologist” from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, described her favorite emotion as “incredibly important.”

She continued: “It’s in our everyday life. It determines our hygiene behaviors. It determines how close we get to people. It determines who we’re going to kiss, who we’re going to mate with, who we’re going to sit next to. It determines the people that we shun, and that is something that we do a lot of.”

It begins early, she said: “Kids in the playground accuse other kids of having cooties. And it works, and people feel shame when disgust is turned on them.”

Some studies have suggested that political conservatives are more prone to disgust than liberals are. And it is clear that what people find disgusting they often find immoral, too.

It adds to the popularity of disgust as a subject of basic research that it is easier to elicit in an ethical manner than anger or fear. You don’t have to insult someone or make anyone afraid for his or her life — a bad smell will do the trick. And disgust has been relatively easy to locate in the brain, where it frequents the insula, the amygdala and other regions.

Toldja.

If you found yourself initially sympathizing with the Occupy Movement but stayed away from the sites because you found yourself disgusted with the thought of coming in contact with filth, lice and STDs, you’ve been pwned by some savvy political operatives who were probably retained by the 1% to trash the reputation of the nascent movement.  Granted, some of those sites weren’t allowed access to toilets and their campsites were crude.  But I never witnessed mounds of trash or vermin in Zuccotti park when I visited the site on multiple occasions.  In fact, it was kept very clean with makeshift recycle stations made of recyclable cardboard and broom stands.  Once I detected the scent of pee in one corner of the park but at the GA that evening, the issue was addressed: If you have to pee in the middle of the night, get your ass out of your sleeping bag and go find an open bathroom.  Don’t pee in containers.

I now suspect that the feelings of disgust were very deliberately generated in the media and youtube videos in order to keep people from going down to the occupation sites and seeing that the Occupiers were just ordinary, everyday people.  That’s the last thing the small evil group to which no one we know belongs wants.  They don’t want us to mingle and start sympathizing with each other.  That would mean visitors would go back and tell their friends and they would bring two people and so on and so on.  Nooooo, that’s not a good thing.  Too many people feeling a sense of community against the 1%?  Before you know it, they would be turning off their TVs, feeding the poor, sympathizing with the unemployed and demanding the immediate arrest and indefinite detention of the bankers who are perched on Wall Street thinking they are untouchable by the long arm of the law.  Obama might have to *do* something about it.  We can’t have that.

By the way, the NYTimes is particularly good at making us disgusted with the unemployed.  They perfected the front page story of the unemployed that featured middle aged, obese and unattractive women.  Well, who wants to be one of *those* people?  It’s sort of a carry over from the days when trashing Hillary supporters as being middle aged, uneducated, working class women ala Roseanne Barr.  It makes it so much easier to f%^& them over when you think of them as low class losers, right? If you are wondering why there is so much antagonism towards the unemployed, you can thank the New York Times for doing its part. In fact, I don’t know anyone who looks like the people the Times featured as the typical unemployed person, including myself.  Everyone I know who is unemployed is a former labrat with a fistful of degrees and none of them have a severe weight problem, lank, greasy hair or a slovenly appearance.

I expect to see more of this kind of thing.  I think the researchers are right about conservatives being more sensitive to disgust and it’s relationship, in their minds, to immorality.  Conservatives are easily disgusted by the thought of sex between men and sex in general.  Oral sex?  Instantly generates a gag reflex in them.  (In fact, I don’t like giving advice to Republicans but if anyone’s interested in taking Gingrich out of the running, they might want to repeat the stories about him getting blow jobs in the front seat of his car.  It will turn women over the age of 70 right off of their Newters kibble.) It doesn’t help that they get messages from their religious authorities about how dirty fornication is. Think “Purity Balls”. This is something you will probably not be able to overcome in the social conservative’s mind.  It’s so hardwired from decades and decades of guilt tripping and punishment and an almost Pavlovian conditioning linking filth with sex that it’s just not worth the effort.

Frankly, I don’t know *what* will finally be the thing that gets through to them.  What will it take before they realize that their own upbringing, generational history and backgrounds have  been used against them to create the most unequal distribution of power and wealth this country has ever known?  I have no idea but I’d hate to find out.

OccupyWallStreet: I see old people

The media keeps telling us that this is a student movement and there are nothing but young people at OccupyWallStreet.  This is a lie.

There are people of all ages there and a LOT more people who are middle aged than you would expect.  It is a gross mischaracterization to say that this a youth movement.  That’s because so many of us are unemployed that we have time to go to marches and rallies.  If the people who are running this country don’t want more marches, they really need to make a more concerted effort to get people back to work.  On the other hand, occupation sites might be a good place to network.  It gets people out of the house and out of their heads.  Plus, if there’s decent bandwidth, you can check your email for job posting updates and rejection notices.   

The unions added more middle aged people to the marchers once we got to Foley Square but if you look at the video I took at Zuccotti Park before we marched to Foley Square, you will see that roughly half of the people in that crowd are older adults (by that, I mean older than 30).  That is representative of the people who were there yesterday.

Note to Tea Party people: I recommend that you go to an occupation near you.  Just remember to keep politics out of your interactions with other protestors.  No one is there to argue for specific candidates (especially Ron Paul) or platforms or anything like that. (Seriously, you want to keep your politics at home at an occupation)  I did see a couple Obama people yesterday but, to be honest, they weren’t proselytizing and that’s not welcome anyway.  There were also no signs of religious affiliations.  All you will find there are people who are as angry as you are about the economy, debt and spending on the wars.  One of the most popular chants yesterday was:

How do you reduce the deficits?

End the wars, tax the rich!

If you can find common ground in those sentiments, get thee to an occupation and stand with your fellow Americans.  The last thing the parties want is for us to find common ground.  If you are itching to make a difference and put the fear of god in your elected representatives of either party, join an occupation.

OccupyNewJersey will have two sites: Trenton and Jersey City.  The Jersey City occupation will take place close to the Goldman Sachs tower, which architecturally bears a passing resemblance to Barad-Dur.  If you are in New Jersey, please check the Occupy New Jersey website for further details.  Considering how many R&D professionals are laid off in New Jersey, it would be kind of cool if we could get some turn out in our labcoat and safety glasses.  The country has the wrong idea about this recession.  It has no idea how severely our science professionals have been affected.  Time to let them know.

I expect that Chris Christie will pop a carotid when he sees us in Trenton.  Plan on nasty, mean spirited and soul crushing attacks from Christie’s crew, because they have no respect for average people who aren’t living off their investments or developers building stupid behemoth shopping centers in the Meadowlands.   He should remember that the longer this Lesser Depression goes on, the smaller the state treasury will get.  His Labor department has been working their butts off to find us jobs but until he and the legislature do something to plug the holes siphoning of the good paying biotech jobs to Massachusetts and California, the deterioration of the educated workforce in NJ will continue and may accelerate.

So, stop stuffing your pie hole, Christie and do something useful for a change.

And then there were the little people:

Wednesday: Fines, jobs and influence

Does this crown make me look fat?

Podcasts and things that I found interesting:

1.) Yesterday’s Brian Lehrer show on WNYC was the first media presence that I have heard that picked up on the success of Germany in retaining its important industrial and research infrastructure.  When the recession hit, instead of laying off thousands of people with important skills, who might otherwise be sitting around idle and losing their skills, Germany implemented a plan to bump workers and researchers to part time status and then the government stepped in to augment their salaries.  The effect of this plan is that when the economy recovers, these workers and researchers will be able to step back into the workforce with relatively little transition cost.  Their skills have been kept fresh and the economy hasn’t been hit with a deflationary cycle that threatens to take more businesses with it.  Germany used to be like France where the unions protected jobs to such an extent that the workforce was inflexible.  In France, it is almost impossible to lay anyone off.  But when business slows down, you have a lot of extra people cooling their jets doing nothing but still getting paid for it.  In contrast, Americans have zero protection from market forces.  They are completely at the mercy of the quarterly earnings report.  Germany seems to have bridged the two extremes.  Ramping down instead of out preserves their infrastructure for another day while still giving them the flexibility to take it down a notch when the business environment calls for it.

Another advantage that Germany has over the US is that more of their companies are family owned businesses that are not subject to the volatility of the stock market or the pressures of the finance industry to meet quarterly goals for the benefit of the shareholders.  That gives them the latitude to focus on long term goals and quality, which in turn allows them to command higher prices for their products.  This reinforces what I have said before that part of the problem with the demise of American labor is that there is too much reliance on the 401K.  When we all become shareholders, we expect ever increasing returns on our investments.  But this only hurts ourselves as we drive businesses to cut jobs to meet earnings expectations.  It’s a vicious cycle that must be broken and cutting back on social security is exactly the wrong strategy.  What we should be doing is encouraging people to get out of the 401K system.  But the business community and bonus class will never go along with that without a lot of pressure that they aren’t going to get with this president and his lame Democrats.

Nevertheless, if there are going to be any tax cuts in the budget, I would much prefer that they go to the unemployed who have a lot of their money tied up in their 401K accounts.  Right now, that money can’t be removed from the 401K until retirement, which at this point, may be never, especially if social security and medicare is pushed farther and farther out.  Actually, this 401K scheme is looking more and more like the worst possible deal for under 55 year olds.  If you can’t use your pre-tax 401K savings until you retire so you can get a break on taxes at a lower salary because you have to work longer, when the heck are you ever going to get a break on this money???

Anyway, as I was saying, if you need to take money out of your 401K and you have not reached retirement age, you pay a huge tax penalty.  So, no matter how much you need it, to pay your mortgage or your health insurance, buy a new car so you go out and find a job or just feed your kids, you get socked with this amazingly humongous tax.  It is a disincentive to take the money out, which normally wouldn’t be a problem if we were all gainfully employed.  But we’re in a “lost decade (or two)” and there looks to be little chance of a new stimulus package, Obama having blown his one chance to pass one that would have been big enough.  If we need to stimulate the economy, why not let workers do it with their 401K money?  And if we’re going to give people tax cuts, why not let the unemployed go first?  Let them remove that money without penalty so they can spend it and put it back into the economy.  If it’s true that the 401K is not contributing much to the financial market, then it shouldn’t be a problem.  But, you say, what will people live on when they get older?  I dunno, but I suspect I could live on a lot less if I didn’t have a mortgage and could afford to put more money away for a rainy day when I finally do get a job again.  Oo, Oo!  And let’s make this tax break available to the Unemployed who are 55 years of age or younger.  That way we’re not forcing anyone who is nearing retirement to take money out of their 401K.  {{smirk}}

I like my plan.  It cuts a break to the people who need it most while at the same time is sufficiently disconnected from reality to make me a “serious person”.

2.) BBC History Magazine used to be a once monthly podcast, which always left me craving more.  Now, it’s weekly and while the podcast is shorter, there are more of them.  Yessss!  This week’s podcast featured a segment on King Henry III’s Fine Lists.  Wow, that’s pretty obscure, you say.  Not really.  Henry III was the son of King John, aka Lackland.  He’s called Lackland because he was a phenomenally bad king who managed to lose or forfeit just about all of his foreign property.  He was so bad that subsequent kings never took “John” as their monarchical name.  And then there was that whole excessive taxation and tyrannical behavior and double jeopardy and not handing over the body and before you know it, he had a bunch of very hairy, very pissed barons breathing down his neck making him an offer he couldn’t refuse.  So, Henry III was the son of the king who signed Magna Carta.

The project to translate Henry III’s fine lists has uncovered some interesting trends that followed Magna Carta.  A fine is not a punishment for illegal behavior in this context.  A fine was a payment made to the king for certain privileges or protections.  For example, if a town wanted to have a market day or fair, it would apply to the king for a license to hold one.  Or if a lord’s tennants needed protections from that lord’s mismanagement, they could also apply to the king for that.  Or for changes to an inheritance or a number of other things.  What historians have discovered is that during King John’s reign, the payments for the fines were extremely high, ungodly high, which probably partially lead to the baron’s rebellion.  But in Henry III’s day, the fines became much more reasonable.  Speculation is that this was a direct result of the signing of the Magna Carta.  The institution and standardization of common law and gradual introduction of a check on the King’s authority lead to less autocracy at the top.  And who would say there is a problem with that?  It took several more centuries for the king to be thoroughly reined in by Parliament but while the pace of change may have been slow, the evolution towards democracy from monarchy and the rentiers is rooted in the ability of a people to force accountability, laws and standards on their leaders and wealthy.  That’s something we tend to forget.  It’s not rocket science.

3.) Jay Rosen wrote a piece picked up in the Guardian about what Rupert Murdoch’s empire was really built to obtain- influence.  Here’s the money quotes:

Here’s my little theory: News Corp is not a news company at all, but a global media empire that employs its newspapers – and in the US, Fox News – as a lobbying arm. The logic of holding these “press” properties is to wield influence on behalf of the rest of the (much bigger and more profitable) media business and also to satisfy Murdoch’s own power urges.

However, this fact, fairly obvious to outside observers, is actually concealed from the company by its own culture. So here we find the source for the river of denial that runs through News Corp.

Fox News and the newspapers Murdoch owns are described by News Corp, and understood by most who work there as “normal” news organisations. But they aren’t, really. What makes them different is not that they have a more conservative take on the world – that’s the fiction in which opponents and supporters join – but rather: news is not their first business. Wielding influence is.

Scaring politicians into going along with News Corp’s plans. Building up an atmosphere of fear and paranoia, which then admits Rupert into the back door of 10 Downing Street.

But none of these facts can be admitted into company psychology, because the flag that its news-related properties fly, the legend on the licence, doesn’t say “lobbying arm of the Murdoch empire.” No. It says “First Amendment” or “Journalism” or “Public Service” or “news and information.”

In this sense the company is built on a lie, but a necessary lie to preserve certain fictions that matter to Murdoch and his heirs. And that, I believe, explains how it got itself into this phone hacking mess. All the other lies follow from that big one.

Rosen goes on to suggest that Murdoch and his heirs (and presumably other media moguls) know that the reason they’re in the news business is to influence governments but that the rank and file is still under the impression that they’re working for a news business.  While I’m pretty sure Rosen has it nailed about the influence motivation, I’m not sure the minions didn’t know what Murdoch and his crew were up to.  In a way, Murdoch’s “news” organization reminds me of how the Nazis operated in Germany in the years before World War II as described in Eric Larsen’s book In the Garden of Beasts.  Hitler kept getting away with stuff because no one called him on it but the minions were more than happy to go along with it because for many of the rising players in the Third Reich, they had power for the first time in their lives.  They weren’t motivated by their altruistic desire to save the Republic from the ravages of a punitive war reparations schedule.  They did what they did because they could and they liked the idea that they could.  Rebekah Brooks is reported to have adopted the culture and accoutrements of the English “Creative Class” when Tony Blair was in office and then ditched that garb for the Jodphurs and boots of the Horsey Set when David Cameron came into office.  She knew that what she was doing wasn’t news.  And what about Juan Williams?  If he wanted to do “news” and real journalism, he would have stayed with NPR (yes, yes, I know they’ve gone downhill in the past decade but don’t get distracted).  But no, Juan Williams jumped ship for Fox and permanently soiled his reputation as a journalist. And why was that?  Well, you get to reach and influence a lot more people through Fox than through NPR and the money is probably much better for doing it.  Some people are into power.  That’s what motivates them more than anything else.  I suspect that the journalists who flock to Fox and News Corp are those kinds of people just as the finance industry attracts compulsive gamblers and people who value money above everything else.

If pandering to the public’s baser instincts were not so rewarding and didn’t result in greater influence, these people wouldn’t be doing what they do.  The reason they are so successful at it is that there are very few rules in place to make them accountable for their actions.  There is no “fairness doctrine”, no penalties for lying and misleading the public and our laws to keep one person from owning as many media outlets as they like are laughable.

“Ohhhh”, the politicians cry, “There’s too much money in politics. We need to run campaigns constantly.  If we don’t solicit funding, whatever shall we do?  Bad, BAD corporations!”

Blaming the candy for being sweet is no excuse for indulging.

And if you don’t like the rules the rulemakers are writing, change the rulemakers.  It’s the only thing that has ever worked.  Ask the English.

4.) Now THIS is interesting.  Barack Obama is the number one recipient of News Corp donations of all time.  Hmmm, what are we to make of that?  Anyone got any ideas?  Raise your hands, don’t be shy.

5.) I found this at Freerangekids.com from The Onion.  If you ever wonder why Americans are overly fearful of everything and can’t estimate risk, you can blame news organizations like FOX that cranks irrational fear up to 11.  This clip is hillarious.

Thursday: Rhetorical Talk about Rhetorical Jobs for Non-Virtual People

Words, words, words, yeah!

So, Obama gave a speech last night about removing troops from Afghanistan and bringing some home by the end of the year and blah-blah-blah.  Didn’t we hear this kind of crap before about Iraq? And how did that turn out?

Let’s examine What Obama REALLY Said last night:

For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as president, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan. When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives: to refocus on al-Qaida; reverse the Taliban’s momentum; and train Afghan security forces to defend their own country. I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to drawdown our forces this July.

Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. Thanks to our men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

First, we stopped combat operations in Iraq as well.  How many troops are still there?  More importantly, how many of those same troops are still under fire and presumably have to fire back?

Second, what is the definition of a “steady pace”?  100 troops per month?  1000 troops per month?  For how many months?  If planes carrying 100 troops leave Baghdad twice a week and planes carrying 300 troops leave Kabul once a week, how many months would it take to reduce the total number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by 50%?  You may use a calculator and a scratch paper to complete this problem.  Please show all work.  Partial credit will not be given for incomplete or incorrect answers.

Third, who says Obama is even going to be in office in 2014?  But more than that, are we going to increase the number of contractors and mercenary types in Iraq and Afghanistan to replace the troops we are removing?  If not, *prove* it.  If so, how much are the contractors going to cost?  Imagine Iraq and Afghanistan are cylinders of unequal height and diameter.  What must be the rate of replacement to remove US military troops from these two cylinders and refill them with Blackwater Soldiers of Fortune?  (Do saddle points make you nauseous?.)

I only ask.

As Greg Sargent notes at The Plum Line, Obama chose his words carefully to suggest that the money saved in Afghanistan would be used to solve problems here at home:

* Was Obama’s Afghanistan speech persusasive? One of the key political challenges Obama faced last night was to persuade the public that he’s winding down the war fast enough at a time when its costs are skyrocketing even as we face chronic unemployment and a fiscal mess at home. Hence his claims that “the tide of war is receeding” and that it’s time for “time for nation building here at home.”

The deliberate choice of the latter phrase seemed designed to persuade Americans that the Bush-initiated post-9/11 war era is slowly but inevitably coming to an end, in order to buy some political space to continue the mission at levels that are (not quite) acceptable to the military commanders and won’t draw sustained attacks from Republicans.

Nice try.  But one of the first things that my mom said when she heard of the drawdown bringing troops home  was “And where are THOSE people going to find jobs?”  Good question.  Barry??  Bueller?  Bueller?

A bit of a cart before the horse, eh?  Maybe the best thing to do is to propose a real jobs program for real people.  But Dave Dayan at FDL says the idea in Congress is to say the right words, sprinkle some magic fairy dust on the jobs program, whine about how mean the Republicans are and get back to ignoring the unemployed:

The Senate Democratic leadership – all of them, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Patty Murray, Debbie Stabenow and Mark Begich – planned a morning press conference today where they will call for job creation measures, or stimulus, to be included in any debt limit deal. They will say that deficit reduction cannot bring Americans back to work, and that recent soft numbers for the economy demand that jobs get the primary attention. According to the press release “they will urge the negotiators to consider new proposals to boost hiring in the short term at the same time that they pursue a plan to bring down the debt in the long term.” The phrase “equal priority” is in there as well.

Before Democrats let the narrative completely get away from them, this was the basic idea – stimulus now, doing no harm and even helping the economy through the rough patch over the next year or two, with deficit reduction to come later. But obviously, Democrats and the White House thought that the rough patch had ended with a few decent months of job creation, and so job creation was put on the back burner, at least in the context of the debt limit talks and the deficit deal. Now, with the new numbers, it’s clear that reducing the deficit will just put the country in a bigger hole.

There’s a sense that this is mainly rhetorical. Democrats have seen Republicans obstruct even the most piddling of jobs bills in the Senate. Yesterday the reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration, an old Great Society program, failed to break a filibuster. The reauthorization gave just a few hundred million more to the program, and was more than offset by the successful passage of the elimination of ethanol subsidies. Republicans still didn’t vote for it. Sen. Reid said yesterday,
“I don’t like to question my colleagues’ motives, but whether they work with us to pass these policies, or continue opposing ideas they once supported, will tell us a lot.”

I guess I can tell the bank that I am going to pay the mortgage too but in a couple of months, they will realize I was just being rhetorical.  I can only hope that the foreclosure documents are rhetorical as well.  Luckily for prospective employers, the Supreme Court has now made it safe to stiff female employees in the wage department because, after all, how are you going to prove it?  We all know that enlightened management treats all employees equally regardless of gender.  Anyone who is making less must be doing something wrong, Scalia seems to say.  For the knuckle draggers, the new Supreme Court Paycheck Fairness and Non-Discrimination policy should save some money.  How very Dred Scottian of them.  Whose going to an employer now for discrimination?  Maybe Dems can use it as a selling point in the new jobs program!

In the meantime, the job prospects of the liberated R&D professional are not going to get any better for, ohhhhh, I don’t know, about 9 years?  Check out this graph that Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline found on the “Patent Cliff” for the major pharmas:

That, my droogs, is a seriously scary picture for two reasons.  (Three, actually) One, it means that there are very few new and innovative drugs coming to market that will take the place of the older, more toxic ones, and that current drug shortages should be expected to continue.  Two, it signals that the system is broken.  There have been plenty of submissions, very few approvals.  Three, it means that things won’t start leveling out for us displaced sciencey geeky types until 2020 or longer.

Now, it might be the case that a lot of little companies, and the NIH roadmap for translational research, will pick up some of this slack. But that roadmap is in its infancy, no one knows quite how to implement it and it still takes years and years to develop a drug.  The R&D professionals will be trying to tough it out in smaller companies with less modern equipment, fewer resources and lower overall compensation.  It will be like moving the clock back on research by several decades.  Yeah!  That’ll make the young’uns want to study math and science more!

My offer still stands: we’re here, Democrats and Republicans.  Give us some retired lab space, decent salaries and all the reagents we can eat and we’ll make you antibiotics, CNS drugs and work on the other therapeutic areas that the bigger companies have abandoned.  All we ask is that you get rid of the merger and acquisition folks and let us decide how to use the money without the pressure of the quarterly earnings report.  We sell the patents to the US government.  Voile!  You can’t get a better value than that.

You want to concentrate on nation building here at home?  Save your scientific infrastructure.  We can even train some troops to work in the labs.

It could happen.  And that’s not just rhetoric.  That’s a jobs program.

Unemployment Day #1

I woke up this morning to go to a Biotech recruitment fair at a local community college.  My “professional” clothes fit me nicely now after over a year of feeling like I had a target on my back and finding out I wasn’t imagining it.  My actual professional clothes are denim jeans and professional chef’s clogs.  Panty hose feels weird.

The day did not start off well.  I couldn’t find my CV folder with my neatly formatted story of my life (in .doc and .pdf format with strategically placed key words).  I needed to get new copies from the stick that has all my presentation slides on it. The bright young thing at OfficeMax couldn’t operate the printers, couldn’t figure out how to send files to them and when I told her, forget it, I’m in a hurry, I’ll just do it somewhere else, pulled the usb stick out of the computer without unmounting.  {{GASP!!  Heart stopped, face blanched}}  “What did you do??  Those files are the only ones I have.  If you screwed up my presentation stick, I’ll kill you” (not really meaning to kill her. )  She jumped up from her stool and started to yell that I was threatening her.  Jeez, do I have time for this nonsense?  Went to the Staples up the road, did it myself.  It took 5 minutes.  Let that be a lesson.  Organize your boxes.

The recruitment fair was set up for pharmaceutical workers whose jobs has been eliminated and who had been out of work since January 2010.  There were recruiters and contracting companies and odd little services.  There was advice on how to optimize your LinkedIn experience (get at least three references and *complete* the profile).  One service that I had never heard of is called Encore.  Encore sets up professionals with companies that need their services for very short term projects.  I offered my CV to the Encore rep but she told me I wasn’t old enough.  ???

This recruitment fair was aimed at older workers in the pharmaceutical industry who had been displaced.  If they qualified, they were eligible for a $5000 retraining grant.  To learn…what, exactly?  I mean, they’re already about as high tech as you can get.  They’re all very well qualified, many have PhDs, some of them wrote the “How To Do It” books and papers on pharmaceutical sciences.  These are not the mythical mortgage brokers who need to be retrained to do computer programming.  These are the chemists and biologists who wrote the first protocols on how to make new drugs. Just because the whole pharmaceutical industry has decided to follow each other off a cliff pursuing biologicals doesn’t mean these people are suddenly unskilled.  Motivated, intelligent people don’t need a lot of retraining.  They just need opportunities.  And opportunities are the things in very short supply.

What I’ve heard from my former colleagues at Wyeth who were Pfizered last year (Pfizered- what happens to you when Pfizer buys your company’s pipeline but not the people who actually discovered the blockbuster drugs), is that employers actually *want* people with 15+ years of experience.  They really need the expertise.  But when they see a CV that has that many years of experience, the potential employee is “overqualified”, which is another way of saying, too expensive.  But expertise should have some kind of value.  Look, I understand that companies are trying to cut costs as the whole industry heads over the “patent cliff”.  But if you know you need the expertise, don’t try to cut corners with your talent.  After all, most of them didn’t choose to live here in the Northeast where it’s as expensive as all get out to support a family.  Pharma relocated many of these people in the 1990′s from places like Kalamazoo and Cinncinnatti.  At that point in time, their knowledge and skills were valuable and companies needed them.  They still need them, but they don’t want to pay for it.  The Wharton grad restructuring the research unit he knows nothing about , they’ll pay for.  The borglike IT drone who’s still stuck on Windows XP, they’ll pay for.  The guy who invented modern pharmaceutical science?  Unemployable.

This is what your 10,000 hours of experience will get you in the northeast:  Your company will be bought or restructured.  You’ll be worried about layoffs in the year following the big announcement.  After that year, the company will either offer you a job, maybe in another state, or lay you off.  If you accept the job in the new location, there’s a good chance your spouse will have to a.) give up his/her job and find a new one in the new location to keep the family together   or b.) accept that the family will have to live apart for much of the week.  The employee will have to rent a small apartment, sometimes with other relocated employees and travel back to the family on the weekends.  Besides adding stress to the family unit when one parent has to do the work of two throughout much of the week, there is the burden of additional cost of maintaining two residences, not to mention the blow to the quality of life.  It reminds me of the black men in South Africa who had to leave their families behind when they went to work in the mines during the apartheid era.

Or, the employee can get hired by a contracting company who plays the middle man between the company and employee.  The contracting company takes a cut of the wages; the employee pays everything himself out of the rest . There’s no job security, no benefits, no ties between employee and company.  That’s the whole point.

This is not a good thing to do with your best and brightest.  The reason they went into science in the first place is because it’s interesting.  They like the challenge.  They like to solve hard problems.  Treating them like swappable technicians that can be reduced to performing routine tasks is wasting their talents and discouraging their children from going anywhere near a lab bench when they get older.

It’s not like I expect these companies to suddenly grow consciences and become more sympathetic towards their work force.  No, the powers that be are so far removed from their research staff that such a thing is probably unrealistic.  But it doesn’t make good business sense to get rid of so much knowledge, or beat the spirits of the talent you need so that they’re not as engaged as they should be because their connection to the company is temporary and tangential.  The unemployable biotech worker will become walking warnings to anyone who dares to entertain the notion that science is a field worth pursuing.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  Especially when there is 20 years of knowledge bottled up in it with no place to go.

It’s not good for the nation’s scientific infrastructure.

 

Sunday: Lori, Noam, Libya and Paywalls

Lori

Lorenda Starfelt passed away last Tuesday.  She was 56.  Her death was announced by her husband Brad Mays yesterday on Correntewire where Lori posted under the name Basement Angel.  Long time readers of this blog will remember Brad and Lori as the filmmakers who documented the dispossessed of the 2008 primary elections.  I met them on several occasions.  Brad was a loose cannon and Lori was his voice of moderation.  She was beautiful with a dazzling smile and captivating eyes.  Brad says she died of uterine cancer that had spread to her liver.  I never knew she was sick.  I am very sorry to hear that she has died.  Her voice will be missed.

Lori intuitively understood the people who defected the Democratic party for the Tea Party.  She knew that racism had very little to do with it.  She knew that the Tea Party is rallying its supporters with false messages but at least it gives them answers.  The Democrats have abandoned its base, liberals and working class and the well educated unemployed.  We shouldn’t be surprised that the movement conservatives behind the Tea Party are picking some of them up.  In one of her last posts at Corrente, she posted this clip from an interview that the Commonwealth Club did with Noam Chomsky:

I have mixed feelings about Noam.  I can’t argue with the points he made in this segment.  He understands the way the powerful elite has used language to pit the working people of the world against each other while they make off with the loot.  And he’s right to criticize those of us on the left for failing to get our act together to deliver a different message.  But in an ironic way, he’s part of the problem.  For all of his justifiable criticism of the failures of the Obama administration, which he must known were coming if he was paying attention to the language of Obama’s 2008 campaign, he was willfully blinded to considering any of the other Democratic candidates as better options.  He didn’t like any of them, he says.  Noam reminds me of the people back in 2000 who thought there was no difference between Republicans and Democrats.  Well, there isn’t much difference now but back then there was.  Maybe Bill Clinton didn’t turn out to be the uber liberal that Chomsky and others like him were hoping for but there was a world of difference between him and the Republicans.  In the same manner, there was a world of difference between the top two Democrats who ran.  One lead from deeply held left of center principles; the other was just a brand who walked and talked like the finance industry that footed the bill for his campaign.  The difference between them had everything to do with who was backing them.  (Next time, pay attention.)

Noam’s weakness seems to be that he’s stuck in the 60′s, reliving the civil rights movement, Cold War and Vietnam.  Sometimes, I just want to smack him.  No one likes war and no one on welfare would prefer it to a well paying job.  The last thing we should do to help people on welfare is make it necessary for them to receive it.  Has he forgotten that poor people on welfare tend to live in the low rent parts of town, because that’s all they can afford?  That concentrations of poor people tend to perpetuate generational poverty, substandard educations and hopelessness?  No, Noam, we don’t want that.  We want government to help poor people by helping them get jobs.  There is a role for government but welfare isn’t a goal.  It’s a stop gap on the way to something better.

What would Noam think of the air strikes on Libya?  For the most part, he’s right about the unnecessary wars we’ve been saddled with.  Iraq was a sham that many Americans were tricked into pursuing.  But the war in Afghanistan?  I’m sorry, we needed to go into Afghanistan after 9/11.  The fact that the Bush administration screwed up the country after the invasion does not alter the necessity of going there.  A country can’t allow a ragtag group of terrorists to attack it and then turn the other cheek.  It sends a bad signal to the rest of the world, which despite our civilizing evolution of the past century is still barely holding itself in check from ripping itself to pieces for power and natural resources.

This morning, we  joined the French and other countries in attacking Libya as an impressive cultural shift continues to ripple across north Africa and the middle east.  Radio Free Europe sums it up:

The British and U.S. strikes came after French warplanes fired the first shots on March 19, destroying government tanks and armored vehicles in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

The campaign, called “Odyssey Dawn,” currently involves forces and equipment from the United States, Britain, France, Canada, Italy, and Denmark. It is the biggest Western military intervention in the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It followed a decision on March 19 in Paris by Western and Arab leaders to enforce a UN no-fly zone over Libya in order to prevent Gaddafi from carrying out attacks on civilians and opposition forces.

In an audio message broadcast on state TV, the 68-year-old Qaddafi remained defiant, saying he was prepared to defeat the Western forces in what he said would be a “long, glorious war.”

“You are unjust, you are the aggressors, you are beasts, you are criminals. Your countries are against you. There are protests everywhere in Europe, in America against the steps you’re taking against the innocent Libyan people,” Qaddafi said. “The people are with us, even your people are with us. All the people on Earth are against you. You will fail like how Hitler failed, Napoleon failed, Mussolini failed. All tyrants fall under the feet of the people. This is the era of the people and the great [Qaddafi] revolution.”

Uh-huh.  Maybe Qaddafi should cut back on the hot sweet tea.

If you are a person of principle, ideally, you want to allow the peoples of these countries to determine for themselves what their government should be and encourage them from the sidelines.  But the possibility that civil unrest threatens to destabilize the world’s economies might also make you want to act when a divided country starts to spiral out of control towards years of violence.  Better to pick a side, preferably the anti-dictatorship one, and aid it.  In this case, timing is everything.  Be swift and thorough.

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to decide which American politician has been the driving force behind arguing for and assembling the allies for an air strike.  Hint: Ditherers don’t do it.  Unfortunately, unbiased reporting on foreign policy at the NYTimes is spotty, which brings me to the paywall issue announced last week.

While I admit to being a regular NYTimes reader, lately, I have been disappointed and a little shocked by what I read there.  Last week’s coverage of Japan’s struggle with their nuclear reactors was breathless and hyperbolic while reports of the dead, missing and displaced was muted.  For the “paper of record”, it was disgraceful.  Meanwhile, anti-government bias there is becoming obvious.  Maybe the editors aren’t aware of the degree to which they have conformed to the anti-government point of view.  But today, their blurb on the frontpage to their editorial on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget parrots the movement conservative line that “Governor Cuomo is right to argue for spending cuts” even while it laments that the wealthy in the state are not going to be compelled to cough up more in taxes. Who decided that the spending cuts are the right thing to argue?  Did we poll the residents of New York, consult with leading economists, call up some historians?  And this article on the sea walls of Japan that didn’t hold back the tsunamis is just downright bizarre.  Not only is the “government programs are wasteful; private industry initiatives are dazzlingly perfect!” messaging obvious, it’s worked into the piece in particularly awkward ways.  It’s almost like the editors took the original writing from the bureau in Japan and made it work for the Goldman Sachs readers.  Sometimes, I read an article and think *I* could have written it.  Recent writing in the NYTimes doesn’t have the same quality as it did even a couple of years ago.  The prose seems clumsy and amateur, even a little bit dumbed down.

So, while I love Paul Krugman and will find a way to get my fix, I’m not inclined to pony up more money for a paper that seems to be evolving towards the clueless “creative class” readers and Wall Street crowd.  For one thing, soon I won’t be getting a steady paycheck so wasteful government spending in my house is strictly forbidden by real budgetary constraints.  Besides, it’s not like the NYTimes has gone out of its way to cover those of us educated unemployed or working class stiffs.  The union busting moves in Wisconsin were definitely downplayed and even Krugman is puzzled over the way we, the degreed unemployed, are being ignored and forgotten.

The NYTimes is marginalizing itself.  It’s becoming a paper for Mike Bloomberg types and their minions.  The little people who still get the “dead tree” version will have access at no additional charge but if you have internet access, why the heck would you get a hard copy?  It just piles up in the recycling bin.  And if you’re not printing on as much paper, why charge $15.95/month for the electronic version?  Presumably, with the exception of the bandwidth, the costs of printing the paper have gone down.  Is the NYTimes just following the herd of other corporations that have given in to MBAs and consultants who don’t know the business they are asked to manage?  Cater to the money and tell them what they want to hear.  Screw the news, even if it is your core business.  By the time journalism is just a fleeting memory at the NYTimes, the business guys will have taken the money and run.

The NYTimes lost my subscription with the Judy Miller incident.  They’re not getting it back simply because they have international news bureaus, especially if those news bureaus can’t write what’s going on without passing through a political filter.  I’ll have to get my news from more international sources from now on.

Thank goodness Brooke is a budding polyglot.

failure to discriminate

In case anyone has forgotten, there are still people out of work

Tucson.  I hope this is the last day we beat this dead horse.

In the past week, I have stayed away from TV and radio and most blog sites.  At first it was because I was tied up with something else that needed my full attention.  But as a the week wore on, I deliberately stayed away and only read an occasional piece in the NYTimes regarding the progress of Giffords’ recovery.  And here is the result of my deliberate isolation from the media frenzy:

  • We will probably never know the true extent of the poisonous atmosphere of Arizona politics on the shooter’s state of mind.
  • Regardless of what anyone says to the contrary, the poisonous atmosphere of Arizona politics and general right wing media craziness can not be ruled out as a contributing factor.  The little I know about the shooter’s word salad indicates that *something* had seeped in.
  • Gabrielle Giffords is a politician and she is a Democrat.  To suggest that politics had NOTHING to do with it is absurd.
  • Regardless of whether or not the infamous Palin map had anything at all to do with the shooting, vandalism, red faced furious constituents getting in Giffords’ face during meetups or the general fear of being labeled a liberal or a Democrat in Arizona, the fact that the map was connected with her website as part of a campaign to “target” supporters of the healthcare reform bill is unbecoming and irresponsible for any politician on either side of the aisle.  There is no excuse for that map.  Oh, I can see a lot of people twisting themselves into pretzels trying to come up with one but give it up already.  Have some standards.
  • I don’t care if the left is going nuts on TV.  I don’t watch TV news specifically because there’s too much histrionics.  I don’t want my emotions to be manipulated.  I advise readers here to turn the gasbags off.
  • I’ve been critical of the way Obama’s campaign organization treated half his party during the 2008 campaign.  I hated the way the media and DNC went along with it.  It wasn’t enough that I was a liberal.  No, I had to be called old, uneducated, a racist and then treated as if my vote didn’t count because I was a woman and I’d get with the program in the end anyway.  His campaign tactics were an indication of the way he was to govern.  He doesn’t care what voters really think and he feels comfortable ignoring us.  That’s why I will NEVER vote for Barack Obama.  I advise others to reject him as well.  If you feel you have no other option, you don’t have a very high opinion of yourself.
  • Sarah Palin doesn’t need our protection or support.  She made that perfectly clear in her video.  She has thrown her lot in with Glenn Beck.  GLENN BECK, people.  That’s who she gets her spiritual and  political advice from these days.  In case some of you have forgotten, it was Glenn and Rush and the whole Fox News establishment who has been pounding on liberals for the past 20 years to make sure we are afraid to say what we believe.  The right is going to continue to pound on us because that is what they do.  They hate us and want to make sure we don’t ever have a voice.  I’m not going to hand Sarah a mallet.  She is not our friend.  She is what she is.  That doesn’t make her a monster.

If the left wants to make it worse for itself, there’s not a whole lot I can do to stop it.  I can’t control other people’s behavior, I can only control my own.  I’m not joining on either bandwagon.  I’ve had enough.  I’m sick of being treated like an outcast by both parties.

If the right is so determined to exonerate Palin or the right wing media from the vitriol, they owe it to the rest of us to present evidence and a detailed study proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that their over the top, angry, irrational demonization of liberalism is not now or ever has been responsible for the intimidation of a group they have been trained to hate.  Otherwise, I’m going to look at the fact that the right has cornered the media market in many states, including Arizona, and conclude that the hatred of liberals is correlated to that market share.

I’ve never seen so much denial in my life.  The right was happy as all get out to stomp all over us before this shooting.  If it really had nothing to do with it, and I’m not saying it did, why not just admit that it was fun while it lasted?  Sarah and Glenn aren’t apologizing.  Take credit for the poison.  You deserve it!

But if you’re tired of it, like I am, turn off the TV and the radio.  Step away from the fight.  If you are an FDR type Democrat in Exile like me, this doesn’t have anything to do with you anyway.  It’s just two anachronistic, legacy parties going at each other.  It has very little to do with how people are living today.  It won’t get more people employed, fix our crumbling infrastructure, punish the bankers or end a war.  It is a major distraction.

Enough.

Fairness, Dignity, Respect: Conducting Subversion in Public

She was us. But we're still out here even if she has moved on.

I have read a lot of Woe is Us comments and posts around the web in response to Anglachel’s excellent post, Hillary is not Going to Save Us.

“We are doomed.  We should just accept Obama’s Reign of Error and unopposed primary run in 2012.  We should get used to our batshit crazy Republican overlords.  All is lost!  The hosts of Mordor have won!”

This is bull $#@%.

You are not reading Anglachel’s post correctly if that is what you think she is saying.

What she is saying, and she can correct me if I’m wrong, is that leaders get power from movements, momentum, a bloc of supporters and a set of principles.  Neither Hillary not anyone else can save you if you don’t have a movement to support her or make any attempts to save yourself.

Here’s where I differ with Anglachel: I think Hillary would jump in if she knew there was a tidal wave of people ready to throw their support behind her or some other FDR style Democrat.  Obama is very weak.  His supporters, as Anglachel says, are numerically small but very vocal.  So what?  It doesn’t matter how noisy the Stevensonians are.  The Democratic party still needs to appeal to all of the other regular working class people out there.  And those people aren’t letting themselves be corralled anymore.  Witness the reports on the AmericaSpeaks forums that Corrente is reporting.  We know what kind of game the handlers are playing.  They are trying to present the policy prescriptions as a choice between bad and slightly less bad.  Nowhere are the “acceptable to the average guy” policies allowed.  And people are letting these agents of the wealthy know that they’re not interested in that.  They want to be masters of their own fates, not sheepish pawns in someone else’s fantasy.

But more than that, had Hillary won in 2008, she would be looking at a second term in 2012.  It’s nonsense for her to state that she’s out of politics because, well, I don’t know why she would say that.  She wouldn’t be too tired to run for her re-election in 2012.  So, there’s got to be another reason why she says she’s *planning* to sit it out.  As we have seen with many politicians, Hillary included, it is usual with candidates to reject the addresses of the voters whom they secretly mean to accept, when they first apply for her favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. We should therefore by no means be discouraged by what she has just said, and shall hope to lead her to the oval office ere long.

But why should she, or any FDR style Democrat, accept the hand of a Mr. Collins when what she/he really desires is a Mr. Darcy?  We’re not in fighting form for  successful courting.  What we need to be is an attractive voting bloc, not just a ragtag, disjointed bunch of discouraged disenfranchised working class schlubs.  And when I say “working class”, masslib, I am talking about all of the people the Democrats left on the table in 2008, whether they are college educated or not.  If you make your income from a paycheck and not investments, YOU ARE WORKING CLASS. Don’t be afraid of the term.  Your strength depends on recognizing what you have in common with the people who you once thought were your intellectual inferiors.  When the top 10% of the county makes 70% of the wealth generated here, you working people of all professions and condition of dirt under the nails are in the same boat. To the top 10%, you all look like a bunch of stupid losers. It’s YOU against that top 10%.

This is why Sarah Palin is so successful.  She has tapped into the anger of the people who have smelled the asphalt.  If you want to beat her, you have to join with the road workers.  Once you have established that you exist and that you share a common cause and a common set of principles based on Fairness, Dignity and Respect, you will start looking pretty hot to the politician who will fight for the right to carry your banner.

Yes, oh best beloveds, there are such people.  The world is ever thus.  There are people who will strive to accumulate power and wealth and who will step on the heads of anyone who gets in their way.  And there are people who will gird their loins for you and step up.  There are good people in the world.  Those people are not perfect.  No human has ever been born upon the planet who did not have flaws.  But there are people who try.  They try and sometimes they fail.  But they do not give up because civilization hangs together by the slimmest of positive efforts that overcome the negative ones.  Without effort to overcome the chaos in favor of establishing a good order for the benefit of all, we as a people would cease to exist.  So, we must all be doing something right every single day to hold ourselves together.

That means showing up at public meetings and not allowing others to shout you down.  That means sticking up for the working people, even if they are public servants who seem to be benefitting from your taxes.  That means rewarding solidarity with your support.  That means giving to others when you don’t have much yourself: feeding the poor, buying a gift for a disadvantaged child at Christmas, donating money to classrooms in need.  That means helping your friends who have become unemployed through no fault of their own.  That means standing up for them when the ignorant and narrow minded call them parasites after all of their years of hard work and taxes for the public good. That means never accepting the fate that others would assign to you.  That means women sticking up for themselves and letting go of Roe that has created a false sense of equality and has been used by your enemies to rally the opposition to tear down your rights.  That means never giving anyone consent to treat you as an inferior.  That means conducting your business in public, transparently, creating your principles and values and inviting others to join you.  That means imposing discipline on yourself and others to stick to the point, not be distracted by identity politics.  That means insisting on equality for all because the country can use all the help it can get from everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, education level or any other criteria that separate us from one another.

Do not let them separate you from your friends.  Hold hands, get together, brainstorm, meet, plan, do, solve and never, never let the bastards grind you down.  Push back forcefully.  You don’t have a choice.  This is your country.  Take it back.  Insist on Fairness, Dignity, Respect.  Demand a New Deal.

If you build it, she may run.  Or someone else will take up the banner.  When she told us at the Convention to “Keep Going!”, I think this is what she meant.

Update: For those of you who asked, here is the proposal I wrote in 2008 for going forward.  It is preliminary and somewhat out of date.  But it’s a starting point for discussion.

ANewOrganizationforDemocratsinExile

 

Tuesday: Springtime for the NYTimes and Big Lies

It’s been really cold in NJ this spring.  Yep, I know it’s still early but I wore the liner of my trenchcoat yesterday and could see my breath in the chilly rain.  I’m thoroughly sick of it.  If you in the midwest are holding onto the zephyrs, please let them go already.  I feel like I’ll never be warm again.

In the meantime, the NYTimes have two interesting articles up today.  Surprise!  We feel good about the economy since Obama took office. Well, no one *I* know feels good about it but they probably didn’t get polled.  But for the rest of the country who live on some mythical Disneyesque Main Street, it is the triumph of hope over inexperience.

Americans have grown more optimistic about the economy and the direction of the country in the 11 weeks since President Obama was inaugurated, suggesting that he is enjoying some success in his critical task of rebuilding the nation’s confidence, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

These sometimes turbulent weeks — marked by new initiatives by Mr. Obama, attacks by Republicans and more than a few missteps by the White House — do not appear to have hurt the president. Americans said they approved of Mr. Obama’s handling of the economy, foreign policy, Iraq and Afghanistan; fully two-thirds said they approved of his overall job performance.

I find his job performance clearly lacking in tangible results, especially when it comes to the economy.  But the propaganda campaign is in full swing and many of my colleagues and friends feel absolutely powerless against the wealthy elite who run our companies and steal our money. (Wait a second. Wasn’t it the NYTimes that helped get us into the Iraq War in the first place? Hmmm…) I suppose the public is feeling that Obama will make them use plenty of lube and make it less painful than it was under the GOP.  Actually, I still sense a great deal of anger over this perceived powerlessness but the anger is directed at the finance industry than the administration right now.  That will change and we will do our best to speed things along.

The other article is all about the newly unemployed who are persisting in their old routines.  It’s a matter of pride, which psychologists suggest could be a good thing.  People who are laid off have lost some of their sense of identity when they lose their jobs.  So, they refuse to give in:

The Wall Street type in suspenders, with his bulging briefcase; the woman in pearls, thumbing her BlackBerry; the builder in his work boots and tool belt — they could all be headed for the same coffee shop, or bar, for the day.

“I have a new client, a laid-off lawyer, who’s commuting in every day — to his Starbucks,” said Robert C. Chope, a professor of counseling at San Francisco State University and president of the employment division of the American Counseling Association. “He gets dressed up, meets with colleagues, networks; he calls it his Western White House. I have encouraged him to keep his routine.”

No doubt, they are equally confident in Obama’s ability to revive the economy.


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