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Wisconsin Recap

The votes are mostly in and Walker will continue to be the governor of Wisconsin.  What have we learned from this?  Well, I doubt that the Democrats who are in charge have learned anything at all.  They’re still acting like this has nothing to do with them.  But secretly, they’re scared shitless.

What Wisconsin is saying is that with enough money, you can misdirect a whole population of people who are under economic stress.  At this point, I think that Abraham Maslow must have been the smartest person who ever lived because he very clearly spelled out what motivates people.  Here’s the Pyramid of Needs:

As Paul Krugman has come to realize, the idea behind the austerity measures and the deficit craziness is to use this moment of economic crisis to push through permanent changes in government and labor.  You may have seen this theory before in Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine.  Right now, the overlords are sitting on a pile of cash and they’re not going to let it go until we cry uncle and give up our safety net.  This results in a lot of uncertainty and pressure on all of us economically in the short term.  Of course, this has been building up for a couple of decades.  When people are under economic stress, they will look after their own needs first.  Forget all of that altruistic shit.  They don’t have time for it.  When their slice of the pie shrank to a size that finally got their attention, they started to hoard what they had.  Yes, it makes no sense to blame public sector employees and unions.  Putting pressure on them is not going to get you back what you have lost.  You have to focus your attention on the ruling class.  Ahhhh, that’s where the beauty of money comes into its full glory.  The wealthy can afford to flood the airwaves with misleading messages, continually focusing the attention of the voters down and not up.

I don’t know what to say about the vulnerability of voters to these messages.  There is no counterweight from the left.  That’s because the Democratic party has neutralized its left and taken all potential leaders out of contention.  When they had the chance to control the message right after the 2008 election, the Democrats passed.  They didn’t attempt to institute a fairness doctrine or make the Corporation for Public Broadcasting beholden to them.  I don’t know, maybe the Democrats are just stupid or they don’t want power as much as Republicans because they’re doing a piss poor job at keeping hold of it.

But whatever.  Here is where we are.  The economy has suffered extensive damage and people are feeling vulnerable.  They want to cut expenses wherever they can.  They are susceptible to Republican messages that assure them that all they have to do is break labor up and stop them from taking their hard earned taxdollars to pay for pensions and healthcare.  Nevermind that the bankers have taken so much more and don’t deserve it.  Nevermind that these right wing solutions will only make the recession worse.

Barack Obama is either in on the deal to divert money to the financial overlords or he is painfully inept.  He seems to be incapable of explaining what is going on to the average voter and even if he could, they wouldn’t believe him because they think he is a Kenyan Socialist.  I doubt that the real Kenyan Socialists would invite him into their club but there you go.  Logic has nothing to do with this.  This is on an emotional level.  It’s the kind of thing that provokes a flight or fight response.  Obama doesn’t seem to have an emotional bone in his body so his chances of getting through to voters is about nil.  And he can’t get around the paid for media filter.

All current data and trends point to him losing in November.  It has always been the economy, stupid and as long as the bad guys are holding it hostage, Obama will be vulnerable.

This is not the time for Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky to go off on self-actualizing tangents. This is not a good time for the Obama fanboy base to get all warm and gooey with aspirational delusions of grandeur. This is the time to locate that will to survive in the Democratic party.  Don’t think that it is impossible for Romney to win in this environment.  It could be easier than you think.  All the money has to do is shrink the pie and then have us fight over it.  The Republicans can ride to victory on that.

On Wisconsin!

I’ve been following the recall election news from Wisconsin all day and from the looks of it, turnout is very high and it looks like it will be a squeaker between Scott Walker and his Democratic challenger Tom Barrett.  Turnout is estimated at 119% in Madison.  That number only looks strange because it is a relative number compared to the last election.  Wisconsin allows for same day registration so the number of first time voters is up.

[There seem to be an awful lot of people on twitter who are confused about the math when the turnout is reported to be above 100%.  So here's how it works: Take the number of voters who turned out for the last election.  That's your baseline.  If you get less than that number this year, you have less than 100% of the last voter turnout.  This happens a lot, especially in off year elections.  It's not unusual for your some of your registered voters to stay home.  If you get more voters, you get more than 100% of the last voter turnout.  In Wisconsin, it is possible to register to vote on the same day as the election.  Since this is a very high profile election, there are a greater number of voters coming out to vote so the number exceeds the turnout of last time.  It only sounds strange because the numbers are not absolute and they are not absolute because there is no hard count of voters by registration rolls when same day registration is permitted.  I assume that the new voter had to fill out a voter's registration card and they will be vetted later. The number exceeding 100% doesn't necessarily mean there were out of state voters or dead people.]

Update: Bernie Sanders weighs in on what a Walker win would mean to the rest of the country:

I love this headline from Andy Borowitz: Canada Bracing for Massive Influx of Wisconsin Boat People.

Charles Pierce is on the ground in Wisconsin and writes his usual witty, pithy, brilliant first hand account in Scenes from a Recall (I hate him for that).

The accusations from both sides are flying thick and fast.  The hallucinating nutcases at Fox are saying that Barrett is busing in people from Detroit to vote.  The voters have been reporting misleading robocalls that assure them that if they signed a recall petition, they need not trouble their pretty little heads about voting today.

Then there are the excuses and rationale that are coming from Obama friendly sources.  Rumor has it that he didn’t campaign in Wisconsin for Barrett because he thought Walker would win and he didn’t want to be seen standing next to a loser.  That’s a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy if ever I heard one.  Once again, it’s all about Obama.  Nevermind that there are public service workers and regular working people and women who may suffer the consequences if Walker wins.  What’s most important is maintaining Obama’s image.

The new spin from press secretary Jay Carney is that Wisconsin won’t be very  predictive of Obama’s chances in November at all.  I disagree.  Let’s look at the possible scenarios:

1.) Walker wins big.  This is bad news for working people.  It also proves that with a lot of money, you can buy a lot of megaphone volume to spew lies out to the public.  It would set a really bad precedent.  Republicans would gleefully pull out all of the stops.  Obama’s carefully manicured image would be in danger, especially if he economy gets worse.

2.) Walker wins small. If it’s really tight or if there’s a recount and Walker squeaks by, we’ll always wonder if Obama’s active presence and support would have been enough to change the outcome.  I think we’ll hear a lot of criticism from Wisconsin if that happens.  And if they’ve fought this hard and lost the war anyway, what would be the point of showing up in November?

3.) Barrett wins small. This would be a great outcome for Wisconsin and working people everywhere.  But it’s hard to see how Obama benefits from a win when he has scrupulously avoided any association with the campaign.  His tepid endorsement after Barrett won the primary and his single motivating tweet on the Wisconsin election this morning just goes to show how little influence he had on the outcome.  On the other hand, Barrett is going to owe Bill Clinton.

4.) Barrett wins big. In this scenario, the sentiment is that working people are pissed and won’t be shoved to one side while the Republicans swagger all over them and the Democrats go out of their way to court the snippy suburbanites who have stay at home moms like Michelle Obama and don’t hang around with working people if they can help it.  The party may have to start paying attention to working people and unions, something they’ve been avoiding for the past 4 years.  Hmmm, how do they start to look sincere this late in the game…?  Or the party could continue on it’s single minded quest for complete control of the message and just ignore Wisconsin.  In neither case do I get the impression that Obama will motivate the base to vote for him in November.  In fact, working people might just start feeling their Cheerios and start issuing demands.

Are there any other scenarios that would favor Obama?  I don’t see them but I might be suffering from a failure to imaginate.  It just seems to me that the Obama campaign kind of let Wisconsin down here.  Sure, Debbie Wasserman Shultz says the DNC and Obama’s campaign org in Wisconsin helped out but one gets the impression from the candidate himself that he was dragged into it very reluctantly.  And against this much cash pouring into Walker’s campaign, boots on the ground and a serious, DNC GOTV effort was more than justified.

Does Obama even realize that working people are his base or is he still buying into that crazy ass stuff that Donna Brazile was peddling in 2008 when she said they were the “old coalition” and the Democratic party didn’t need them anymore?  Because I have news for the party. The suburbs aren’t doing so well these days either.  There are just as many of us out of work and much, much poorer than we used to be.  And as we move from being wage slaves with company benefits to involuntary entrepreneurs, footing the bill for everything ourselves, the conservative message starts sounding a lot less painful.  Not everyone has the interest to become a political junky and tease out fact from fiction, cause from effect like we do.  I wouldn’t get to comfortable if I were the DNC.  Or Obama.

Maybe he should have gone to Madison.  Some things are just worth the risk.

There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes

Here is the Barricade song from Les Miserables sung by the protestors in Wisconsin last year in the Capitol rotunda.  This one has the lyrics at the top so everyone can sing along.

We are all Cheeseheads now.  Go Wisconsin, beat the mighty toilet paper kings!

Monday: Break it to me gently

This morning, two extremely good looking dudes are upstairs cleaning my grout.

Wait, that didn’t sound right.

Anyway, the topic of this post is stuff we didn’t want to know about, stuff we tried to avoid seeing, but that is no longer avoidable, but we want to be let down easily.

Let’s start with this remarkable exchange that Paul Krugman had in London with some clueless austerians:

Conservatives seem to be in their own little universes where the laws of physics and supply and demand and the paradox of thrift do not apply to them.  They have beautiful theories destroyed by ugly facts.  It’s a world where new college graduates with $100K in student debt just can’t wait to start their own businesses and where unemployed chemists can start biotech companies by borrowing money from their “friends, families and fools”.

But nevermind that silly notion about how we all secretly want to become the equivalent of 18th century MBAs, Paul is trying to tell them that they were just dumped by the economy and it’s over, move on.  They want Paul to break it to them gently.  Let them down the easy way, presumably the way that doesn’t require any kind of concessions from them.  And Paul’s like, “He’s not coming back, Ok?  He doesn’t want you anymore.”  This exchange would almost be funny if it weren’t so deadly serious.  It’s very frustrating to have examined the data, run the models, found historical precedent and made accurate predictions only to have them ignored by people who are talking in non-sequitors about something completely different that works only in a different dimension.  I guess it’s going to have to take a global catastrophic failure before they get it. I don’t know what I find more disturbing about this: that there are so many disingenuous pundits out there lying to people or that these people may actually believe what they’re saying.  Is the average intelligence of the general populace really so low that people can’t reason this problem out?  That’s so frightening it makes me feel dizzy and sick.  Is there a 30 second youtube cartoon that can be put together to explain this to non-economists?

The second breakup story is from Peter Daou.  A year ago, he tried to warn the Obama administration that it needed to put more effort into courting its base but did it listen?  Daou found this article from April 2011 that suggested that the grassroots were not happy with Obama and wanted to see some effort from him before they started giving.  But the Democrats had Obama and they thought that everyone loved him because he’s so swave and de-boner so when the time came, they’d all come swooning back like they did in 2008.  Um, it turns out that isn’t happening.  In this new post from Buzzfeed Politics, we have this rather unsettling graphic that intimates that the honeymoon is over:

The dark blue dots are where Obama’s fundraising efforts have fallen off the most.  Funny how they follow state boundaries.  Isn’t it weird that this Democratic president has seen the least amount of fallout in predominantly conservative, bible thumping southern states? And JEEZ, look at the way Appalachia has been blowing him off.  But it’s not just Appalachia, California seems none too pleased, nor Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, Ohio.  In fact, it looks like all of the big states that Obama lost in the 2008 primaries are most seriously displeased.  I guess they’re trying to say that they’re just not that into him.  But the Democrats keep thinking that Obama’s the best that voters are going to get.  Sure, he’s a player, sure he’ll dump you for a Republicanesque bipartisan committee.  What are you going to do?  Voters are appearing to say that they’re not going to give him anymore money, how’s that?  They’ve been trying to let the party down the easy way for more than a year now.  But if the party isn’t listening, they might find that enough voters have left without a forwarding address that there will be a very rude awakening in November.

And then there is Wisconsin.  Bill Clinton was there a few days ago campaigning for Tom Barrett, the Democratic challenger in the recall election against Scott Walker.  Bill Clinton tried to give voters a wake up call about what this recall election means to them and the rest of working class Americans (working class is anyone not living off their bonuses and investments):

If you believe in an economy of shared prosperity when times are good, and shared sacrifice when they’re not, then you don’t want to break the unions. You want them at the negotiating table. And you trust them to know that arithmetic rules. Show up for Tom Barrett on Tuesday! If you want Wisconsin once again to be seen by all of America as a place of diversity, of difference of opinion, of vigorous debate, where in the end people’s objectives are to come to an agreement that will take us all forward together, youhave to show up for Tom Barrett on Tuesday!…

I can just hear it now, on Wednesday. All those people that poured all this money into Wisconsin, if you don’t show up and vote, will say, `see, we got them now. We’re finally going to break every union in America. We’re gonna break every government in America. We’re gonna stop worrying about the middle class. We don’t give a riff whether poor people get to work their way into it. We got our way now. We got it all. Divide and conquer works.’

You tell them no. You tell them, Wisconsin has never been about that, never will be about that — by electing Tom Barrett governor!

You can watch the whole speech here:

Clinton is not the kind of guy who likes recall elections or any attempt of one group of radicals to unseat a sitting elected official.  So, the fact that he’s out there in Wisconsin is significant because it means that he doesn’t see the working people of Wisconsin as a bunch of radicals.  This is THE most important election this year.  It is more important than the one in November, as it stands right now.  What Bill is really doing is sending a message to his own party to wake up and do something now because once the Republican juggernaut rolls over the working people of Wisconsin, it’s going to keep on rolling over everyone else.

Let me break it to you gently, lefty blogospherians, there is a battle right now within in the Democratic party.  We are seeing it play out in Wisconsin where the Democrats are pretending that they can straddle the fence.  They think that they can be for working class people in theory and still take money from big donors in practice and no one will notice when the economy fails and working people suffer.  That’s not going to happen.

Please note who is out there stumping for us.  Pay attention to what he is saying.  You need to have a vision of where you want to take the country.  You know all that shit you’ve been swallowing about how Bill Clinton wrecked the welfare system?  Think about that for a moment.  If you are one of those people who didn’t want to see the welfare system change to help people go to work and achieve and have dignity and get their families out of generational poverty, if what you really wanted was to just throw money at a problem and hope it went away, then you are a person who is afraid of change and not really aware of what a welfare check means to a person.  Do you know what we call people who like things the way they were and refuse to evolve?

Conservatives.

I am not going to break it to you gently, dear lefty progressives and liberals.  The left has failed to develop a vision of the future that acknowledges how our world has changed.  It has failed to figure out a way of elevating the working class out of the 20th century into the future with dignity, fairness, equality and excitement for what comes next.  The Democratic party fractured itself in 2008 and now it is floundering. The signs are all around that there’s a big breakup coming.  It needs to get its shit together as quickly as possible or we are all going to pay the price this November when the tons of money pouring into conservative message creating manages to aerosolize the working class and makes it impossible for any of us to join together and push back.

Announcement coming soon

If you’re wondering where I am, RL has intervened in a major way.  I’ve had to put this blog on the back burner.  But I’ll let you know what’s going on in a couple of days.  With President’s Day coming up, there may be a good opportunity to evaluate how THIS president is affecting the lives of many Americans and ask ourselves whether he deserves a second term.

In the meantime, keep your eyes on Madison, Wisconsin, where we are beginning to see the birth of GlennBeckistan.  This is what voters keep telling their politicians they want.  Then when they actually get it, they’re not so sure anymore.

There’s a reason why the national economy boomed during the middle of the twentieth century.  And there is a reason why it will take a heartbreakingly long time to recover from this Great Recession.  The grasshoppers who are consuming everything in sight are going to find out sooner or later that resources are finite.

Paul Krugman reports on the fraudulence of the budget negotiations in today’s column:

But that’s what everyone does. House Republicans talk big about spending cuts — but focus solely on that same small budget sliver.

And by proposing sharp spending cuts right away, Republicans aren’t just going where the money isn’t, they’re also going when the money isn’t. Slashing spending while the economy is still deeply depressed is a recipe for slower economic growth, which means lower tax receipts — so any deficit reduction from G.O.P. cuts would be at least partly offset by lower revenue.

The whole budget debate, then, is a sham. House Republicans, in particular, are literally stealing food from the mouths of babes — nutritional aid to pregnant women and very young children is one of the items on their cutting block — so they can pose, falsely, as deficit hawks.

What would a serious approach to our fiscal problems involve? I can summarize it in seven words: health care, health care, health care, revenue.

Paul’s preaching to the converted.  Even at the NYTimes, the front page news is concentrating on the turmoil in the middle east while putting our own battles in Wisconsin on simmer.  But I believe this pain and ugliness is all unavoidable.  The people who consistently vote for conservatives because they are moved by pictures of fetuses are going to have to see their political heroes unmasked as heartless minions of some extremely greedy and conscienceless power brokers.  What happens when those full term and delivered fetuses of mothers who were once gainfully employed are suddenly denied basics like milk and cereal when the WIC benefits are suspended?  I say suspended because I can’t believe the American people would be so cruel to deny sustenance to children who had the misfortune to be conceived when their parents still had a steady paycheck and health insurance and now don’t.  And yes, I know perfectly clean, well educated, American mothers who fall into this category through absolutely no fault of their own.  It was just business.  Nothing personal.  Except now the baby who was seven months in utero when the pink slip came still has to eat.  Or is infanticide acceptable, just not abortion?  Oh, we wouldn’t go that far.  It’s just a little malnutrition.  It won’t even show up until the kid goes to school.  Provided there’s a school available that doesn’t charge fees like some typical 3rd world country.

Americans have to experience the consequences of the rhetoric of the right.  It was all fine and dandy when it was some immigrant but now it’s everyone you know.  And they can’t all be slackers and parasites, can they?  The pain is just now coming to fruition in a hard way.  This is not by accident.  It’s by design.  The more you hurt, the more their plan is proceeding excellently.

Turn off your TV and radios and you take away most of their power.  They can’t talk you into doing something against your own interests if you can’t hear them.  Tell your doctor’s offices and garage waiting rooms that you’ll go somewhere else if they don’t shut off Fox News.  And mean it.  And tell 21st Century Democrats, the DCCC and any other Democratic fundraising organization that you’ll start contributing when Obama and the Democrats actually start acting like the Democratic party again.  Being out of power sucks.  You can get a lot of money from the big guys but as far as I know, votes still mean something and you get those from ordinary people.  And right now, ordinary people are pissed off.

There is one thing I think we can say with confidence: a third party candidate could clean up in this environment.  Real socialists start sounding reasonable.  And there’s a reason for that, for which I will give an example that is much closer to my current situation than I ever thought it would be.  Sound complicated and mysterious?  Stay tuned and all will be revealed…

This song is for the BFF.  I like this version a bit better.

Injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.

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