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    • Sanders and Trump win in New Hampshire
      No surprise, the polls were leaning strongly to both of them. Things get interesting from here for Sanders, but Trump will be moving to strength. New Hampshire is prosperous and has done well since the financial crisis, that’s not true in most of the upcoming states. (I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write […]
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The Mystery of Hillary’s Campaign Strategy

Short one today, peoples.

If I were Hillary, I would have picked up right where I left off in 2008 at the end of the primary season. That was when she was the strongest as an appealing candidate and her campaign message of making the invisible Americans count again meant something. She was feeling her Cheerios. It wasn’t her fault that the nomination was awarded to someone else through inflated caucuses, superhuman amounts of money from the finance industry, short-sighted superdelegates and DNC rules skullduggery.

Has she completely forgotten that she went to Denver in a statistical tie with Obama? Did she forget how the party prevented California and Pennsylvania from casting ballots during the roll call just in case it looked like she might actually have a good reason for a floor fight? Are we the only ones who remember that it was NOT a landslide at the convention for Obama, not even close?

Really, Hillary, you have to believe this. No one on this blog and some other blogs is stupid enough to believe that Obama “won” the nomination through the strength of his amazing campaign strategy or scintillating personality. Even as recently as last night, I run into people who absolutely. can. not. stand. him. because they don’t find him charismatic, interested in average Americans, or politically talented. These are *Democrats*, in local Democratic organizations. They loathe him. It’s not racism. It’s well founded, completely rational disgust with the way he campaigned and the opportunities that were handed to him on a plate that he squandered.

Yup, completely unsolicited loathing of the guy who weaponized accusations of racism and smothered real criticism from his own side for 8 long years. The Dirty F^&*ing Hippies are now getting together and comparing notes. How did Hillary miss that??

And then there is the subject of his legacy, which no one I know likes. Maybe it’s because I don’t hang out with the DailyKos crowd anymore. Eight years of Bush followed by eight years of a weak and compromised Obama who blew two years of a Democratic majority in the House and Senate has left almost everyone I know more economically insecure and twitchy. It’s even more insecure if you’re younger and you’re saddled with student debt the size of a mortgage and see very shaky job prospects for decades to come.

So, why in Hell would Hillary Clinton hitch her wagon to Obama’s star? It is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

This is the year when many Americans are finally figuring out that they have been eating grass. Even the seniors who have never met an abortion opponent they didn’t like are finally realizing something’s not right.

The Obama campaign apparatus oversold their strategy and prior success. It was illusory anyway. Charlotte’s Web is so over. And Hillary should have known that and done a whole lot more listening before she rolled out a campaign that was targeted to aspirational small business entrepreneurs and suburban working moms.

She is missing the big picture and bigger opportunity: It’s the income instability, stupid.

Focus on that.

Oh, and David Axelrod looks like a rat. Someone needs to stuff a sock in his mouth. I swear, the old Obama campaign people are out to get her. They need to go. Bring back Peter Daou.

Update: I’m finding it amusing that the NYTimes editorial page seems to be in full blown panic over the prospect of a Trump presidency and is now trying to get Hillary to keep her chin up. It’s all fun and games with the relentless “scandals” until a dangerous narcissist starts winning the primaries, eh Gail?

 

 

New Hampshire Returns Cocktail Party: OHai!

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With any luck, we won’t lose any faces tonight.

I guess I have to start taking this primary season seriously now that we’re in New Hampshire. But I’m a little rusty and I have to let Rico in to set up. Don’t let that stop you from filtering in while we get the bar ready and the band warms up.

Be right back…

Ok, I’m back.

Rico is going for something simple tonight. It’s a Cabin Fever on the Rocks. Hope you guys like maple. Last time I was in Manchester, I had ‘sugar on snow’, that is hot maple syrup poured over a bowl of snow and served with the obligatory sour pickle. It’s an acquired taste. Cabin fever is what I have these days. I am so over winter.

We’re serving a variety of appetizers tonight. On the menu are Maine Peeky Toe Crab Cakes, a variety of local cheeses, roasted garlic with tomato chutney and crostini for the vegans, and seafood chowder for those of you who haven’t had dinner yet.

We were able to get Pink Martini for the evening. A little something old and new and loungey and orchestral with the lovely China Forbes.

First update of the evening, Kasich seems to be making a surprising appearance. Wasn’t he at the Kiddy Table recently? Who knew? Ah, well, it’s still early.

You can leave your coat with Yolanda at the door. Remember to tip your wait staff generously. And if you need to argue, remember to keep it clean.

 

 

 

I’ve just gotta get a message to you…

Back in 2008, we were on Hillary’s radar. This year? Ehhh, not so much. That could be because of many different things, mostly because it’s 2016 and not 2008. Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to me like Hillary has taken a step back from really, I don’t know, campaigning. This time around, someone has convinced her that she needs to be data driven, reach out to millenials and embrace Obama like there’s no tomorrow.

And I think that’s why the race is so close in Iowa.

Note that she was similarly cautious in early 2008 as well. Remember all the crap we heard on DailyKos about Mark Penn? But then the party decided to take the money and turned on her and she got to work actually appealing to people.

I’ve made no secret about my lack of enthusiasm for Obama but I will let someone else make my case for why should reconsider her strategy of clinging to him:

 

or maybe this person can do it:

“Elizabeth Warren Indicts Shockingly Weak Enforcement” with respect to the finance industry.

Or go to any NYTimes piece on the cost of health care in America that wasn’t solved by the ACA, like Even Insured Can Face Crushing Medical Debt.  One thing you can say for the Republicans, they’re like attack dogs on something when they’re aroused. Democrats seem to think that because people with preconditions and children are covered by the ACA, the rest of the losers in the Healthcare coverage olympics should shut the F^&* up about whether we’ll lose our shirts if we are inconveniently sick. That debate is so five minutes ago. It’s settled. Democrats think it was a bloody debate that the whole country was engaged in when, really, no one we know had anything to say in the matter. But, whatever, it’s over, for them. Let’s move on.

The problem is, in the last 8 years, the country has changed so radically that it’s hard not to get angry when you’ve been left out of the decision making process.

Who died and made them spokespersons of the gods who shredded our careers, decimated our retirement savings and created two classes of workers- those who were lucky to get employer based health benefits and those who have to pay those crazy deductibles out of vastly reduced salaries? If you haven’t been there, YOU’RE the one who should STFU.

On one of my recent posts about the fate of women over 50 who can’t get work, someone called the linked NYTimes article “clickbait”? Really?? Those of us who have been through it don’t think it’s trivial.

And then there are people who bogarted the message for the last 8 years and think everything is fine now, like the gay guy who cuts my hair who was all happy that now everyone is equal, isn’t it great? No, we are not all equal. What about the reproductive rights laws that are getting crushed in state after state? Seriously, I wanted to smack him except he had my hair in his hands. The fight for equality is not over just because you have marriage equality. NOW, it is your turn, LGBT people, to do what you can for women, who, just as our culture demands every time, patiently stepped aside and put your needs first. Pay it forward.

But I digress.

Or have I?

Have I mentioned race yet? No, I think that was my point. In none of the instances above has race been mentioned. Black lives do matter. But what has been done for the african american community in the last 8 years?  They’re still getting killed for no reason, have higher unemployment, are getting pushed out of neighborhoods by progress. I could go on and on because I see it everyday as I pass through some pretty sketchy neighborhoods on my way to work.

And to add insult to injury, we now have a bunch of smug silicon valley types proposing to give us a basic income that is devoid of any meaningful work. I could write a whole different post on how many of us have lost the jobs we loved and enjoyed that we will never get back not because they weren’t useful jobs or highly skilled but because some bunch of shareholders decided they needed better returns on their quarterlies. There will be diseases that won’t be cured because of that. Can a guaranteed basic income make up for that, Paul Graham? I guess Zika will be a good test case.

Anyway, this is all to say what I predicted a couple of years ago about Hillary running for president in 2016. Why would she want to do it? The country has changed so much and people are so angry that the person who captures the voters is going to have to have to be a force for a big change. No one wants another “Lifeguard in Chief”, as Stephen Colbert says for 4 to 8 more years. Ain’t no one got time or money for that anymore.

I saw Hillary campaigning her heart out in the last days of the primary season in 2008 but a campaign is not the same as actually governing and leading with vision. Is she a transformative politician? I don’t know.

I know that Trump would be a transformative politician but not in any good way. I see nothing good coming for women if Trump is elected. If he can get away with disrespectful behavior towards women during a campaign, then it will only encourage others to crack down even more on women’s rights after the election. Who will enforce current laws against discrimination? We can barely get Obama to take notice. Trump stands for power, wealth, men and, um, that’s about it. If you’re a dude and you have a good job that’s a one-off and you’re not an illegal alien, you’ll do great under Trump.

But a guy who has turned getting out from under bankruptcy smelling like a rose while leaving his workers high and dry into performance art does not meet my criteria for good presidential material. Plus, I think he’s a narcissist. It looks like he attracts other narcissists to his campaign. That right there is a bad thing, especially when the Republican party has spent the last 8 years making government ineffective. It’s one thing to hire a selfish, self-centered, unscrupulous, macho, physically repugnant guy (the sexiest thing in his pants is his wallet) to the oval office. It’s another thing to make it impossible for any good legislation to pass through Congress while he’s in office.

Bernie Sanders is a good guy and he’s at least trying to give the rest of us a voice. But where was he in 2012? Why no action when the finance industry buddies of the Oval Office put a screeching halt on any progress to help the middle class? Sure, the FiliBernie was awesome but why didn’t he run in 2012? For that matter, why didn’t Hillary run?

But I can see where the passion is coming from on the left. Finally, someone is making a stand for income inequality. He’s saying craaaazy things. They’re just so crazy that everyone likes to hear them. They’re the kind of crazy things that appealed to voters my uncle’s age before he and his age cohort was distracted by abortion, conformity, religion and fear. Everyone should have health care because the rest of the developed world has done it. How novel is that??  Some countries have single payer, some have nationalized, some work through private insurance. ALL of the successful ones have implemented price controls. Don’t tell me that it’s not politically possible.

Most of the Europe has college education at vastly reduced prices so that students don’t start their professional lives indentured. Don’t tell me that’s not politically possible.

We used to have decent pensions in this country so that people were not forced to put their life savings on the roulette wheel of a global casino like we currently do with 401Ks. Don’t tell me that a guaranteed pension is not politically possible.

That’s what the polls are telling Hillary right now. They are telling her to NOT tell US that what we want is not politically possible.

We have had 8 years of a very weak president whose administration seems to excel at one thing- convincing pundits and political party spokespeople to glorify his Lilliputian achievements. (Please, don’t even go there.) And the voters are told over and over again that if they aren’t sufficiently appreciative that their net worth and futures are significantly diminished, they’re racists. If they want anything for themselves other than endless more decades of sacrifice while finance types continue to harvest them, they’re told that it’s not politically possible. I have to wonder if David Brooks, our modern Wormtongue and master of learned helplessness and messaging is secretly in charge of Democratic Party strategy.

Yes, the electoral map is against us but what would happen if the party stopped saying “Elect us president even though there’s nothing we can do!”

That’s not the message voters want to hear. They want to hear that you’re going to try. They want to hear that you’ll go to the mat for them. They want to be assured in no uncertain terms that if they hand the reigns of power over to you and manage to give you the house and the senate too by some miracle, that you are not going squander another golden opportunity to fix it. If there is one genuine surprise this year, it’s that after many long years, it is finally safe and even good to call yourself a liberal Democrat. It would be a shame if the party failed to move on that.

So, Hillary, tell Robbie Mook and his data models to take a hike. I don’t want to be pressured to donate just because 3 other people in my neighborhood did it. (Stop sending those emails. They make me resentful and obstinate.) Besides, data models are like Palantiri that can lead you astray. You don’t know the end of the story yet so there is no need to lock yourself into a careful, professionally crafted campaign approach that is unresponsive to current opportunities and realities. Do not market to me. What is good for my cohort is good for the vast majority of Americans. There is no reason to data drive, divide and conquer. We need a restart button not principle components analysis.

I want to see you throw caution to the wind and send a message that is going to at least match Bernie’s that you are going to do something for us even if it looks like it’s not politically possible.

Dream the impossible dream, Hillary. Dream BIG.

 

 

 

 

 

Snowpacalypse!!

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 11.20.31 AM

We’re in the pink! Winter storm but not a blizzard

 

Woot! Woot! Woot!

It’s not actually that bad here in Pittsburgh. The snow is still falling but we didn’t get a white out, the cows ain’t freezin’ in the fields and the children aren’t stuck in the schoolhouse overnight.

But I’m not going anywhere today. I have Netflix and iTunes and Amazon Prime. You know, the three ingredients necessary for subsistence during a weather emergency. Also some fig and olive crackers from TJ’s along with a creamy feta cheese spread.

Maybe we should get together later and discuss Iowa and what’s really going on and why the Democrats are so hung up on the idea that perfectly reasonable people, who are also Democrats who are not Republicans, are still racists or something like that. There’s some obsessive thinking going on there.

I keep toying with the idea of a podcast and have a name for it all picked out. Anyone want to chime in about that?

In the meantime, check out this video by John “Cedars” Lloyd, on his critique of the Jehovah’s Witnesses latest broadcasting video. An apology in advance to my relatives who still believe this stuff. I just don’t know how they can watch this without a drinking game. Too funny. By the way, you don’t have to sit through the whole video. Just the first 4 minutes should be enough.

Take it away, John.

 

Politically Correct Fundamentalists

This is a presentation by Dr. Mary Anne Franks, legal expert on cyber civil rights at a recent Skepticon conference. For those of you not familiar with Skepticon, it’s a conference for free thinkers and skeptics, and some of their presentations are more topical than others with respect to politics.

In this presentation, Franks lays out how current political discourse works. If you’re new to how the news is shaped, this might be disturbing and revealing. But she’s just telling it like it is.

 

Now, I don’t want to be the kind of person who says the left does it too but we do. It’s one of the reasons why we got so turned off by the 2008 elections. We are still living with the fallout of that election. And here’s how it typically plays out.

Take one middle class person who has a contract position and no benefits who is required to buy health insurance from the exchange only to find that the options are very expensive, he doesn’t get a subsidy, the deductible makes this policy almost worthless and a monthly drain on his wallet and substantially impacts his quality of life with little discernible benefit. The ACA was set up specifically to be painful, thanks to Republican demands that people have “skin in the game”. It’s also pretty clear that Obama did not ask for the world up front but came to the table and opened by giving the right almost everything it wanted. STARTED that way. We saw it. Don’t try to sugar coat this Paul Krugman. Fixing this is going to be very, very difficult and many people will spend much of their income on a limited ACA policy in the meantime to their detriments.

Here’s how the left deals with this. And when I say left, I mean my own side. I hate to keep saying that but I am closer to Bernie Sanders on this than Hillary Clinton at this point in time. In my humble opinion, we should scrap the whole thing except for the provisions for people with pre-existing conditions, children up to age 26 and mental illness and start over. We might still end up with private insurance but the way the ACA is currently structured, this is not working for anyone.

But here’s the way these conversations usually go. Let’s listen in:

Average Obamacare policy holder: “I don’t like Obamacare. It’s too expensive, too limited and I could go broke before I see any benefit from it.”

Average Lefty: “You’re a racist Tea Party person”

Well, that went well.

When Fox News loving Trump supporters complain about political correctness, there might be a soupçon of legitimacy about the complaint.

There’s more of course. At some point in time, we need to talk about women.

Democratic Candidate’s Debate: OooooIIIOWA

winter2013editI’ve heard a lot of stupid stuff from bloggers and journalists who are speculating why it is that Trump will not go away as a candidate and why Bernie Sanders appears to be hotter than previously thought.

First, I’d like to say that to blame Trump’s rise or the disgust with Obama on racism is too easy. I’m sure there are some clueless bigots out there that are supporting Trump and hate Obama. But I don’t think that’s why Trump is popular, or why Bernie is popular either.

There are a couple of things I would pay more attention to if I were a left blogger (I still am, by the way. I might be angry woman but I’m not stupid). One of these things was summed up by Steve Carrell’s character in The Big Short in a monologue when he was watching the financial industry melt and contemplated what would happen next. He foresaw homeowners compensated, the government taking measures to put things right, new regulations, and bankers carted off to jail. Of course, none of that happened. The measures were insufficient and delivered without the urgency that the country needed. And there are still people, such as myself, who will pay the price of the country having a high overhead of experienced, talented, over-educated people on the job market for a very, very long period of time.

What Trump voters are reacting to is *someone* is finally not acting like a student body president, trying not to upset the bankers, giving lip service to ideas and then doing a half assed job implementing them. You know what I’m talking about. The country handed Obama his job on a silver platter in a time of crisis and gave him more than enough support in Congress for two years to do something. They wanted real change. He didn’t deliver on that.

Trump may be a narcissistic, malevolent asshole without a congressional cohort but at least he’s not playing nice.

As far as Bernie is concerned, that’s not really a surprise, is it? Even the worst of the worst right wing Fox News lover grew up in an America when labor was strong, retirement was a realistic goal with a full pension, and most people were able to keep a roof over their heads. Some of these people are under the mistaken impression that a party would have to be crazy to touch social security and that single payer health care sounds like a good idea.

That’s the conditioning that Fox hasn’t really been able to touch, in spite of the incessant fear mongering, islamophobia, hyper-religiosity, racism and misogyny.

All Bernie has to do is be himself.

The question is: Who is Hillary Clinton?

They All Laughed

meadows_0701117

Mountain Meadows Massacre Monument*

When I said that we need to watch out for Christian religious extremists and anti-guvmit types with guns, I’m pretty sure I lost readers. Oh, ho-ho, there goes RD again, gettin’ all paranoid. She’s been eating too much tin-foil.

Turns out, not so much. The DHS was concerned about that possibility too but decided to defund the office that was looking into it anyway:

Daryl Johnson once worked in the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that studied the threats posed by antigovernment groups. His former office was shut down more than five years ago.

But when members of an armed group took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon last week, Mr. Johnson was not surprised.

In 2009, the former analyst wrote a report that warned of a growing antigovernment movement and the possible recruitment of returning military veterans that could “lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone-wolf extremists.”

His words drew fierce criticism from Republican lawmakers and conservative news media, labeling the report an unfair assessment of legitimate criticisms of the government. The document was retracted after Janet Napolitano, who was then the Homeland Security secretary, apologized to veterans, and the Extremism and Radicalization Branch was quietly dismantled.

Ah-fa-la-la! Isn’t that funny?

Know what’s even funnier? It was the openly Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, who thought that shutting down this office was a bad idea.

Oh wait, totally forgot to remind everyone that the first act of religious extremist terrorism on September 11 was by a bunch of Mormons who thought the government was going to come to Utah to…

…wait for it…

… take away their guns.

Or some such nonsense. Yep, turns out they were waiting for the US of A to send soldiers into Utah and make them start behaving or not polygamating or something. If you want a complete breakdown of how the whole ugly religious extremism-anti-government Mountain Meadows Massacre happened, check out this collaborative podcast effort between Lindsay Hanson Park and Mormon Expressions. You won’t be sorry. It’s an amazing story and cautionary tale for all of us.

  Granted, the Mormons had had a checkered past with the authorities in several states with massacre-ing happening on both sides. But with the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Mormons took it to a new level and butchered over 100 men, women and children who were just passing through. Maybe they wanted the cattle. Maybe they suspected them of collaborating with the people who killed one of their apostles. Maybe they just wanted to set an example for anyone else who thought they could traipse through the west without even a “by your leave”.

Who knows?

One thing for sure though. Those crazy Mormons had been fed a steady diet of anti-government propaganda, were chased from place to place because they were trying to rig the voting system in their favor and followed some new messianic religion, and they were waiting for the end of days.

So, you know, we have all been here before.

The violent, anti-government rhetoric in the west has been around for more than a century. We probably shouldn’t be surprised that Glenn Beck has been using the survivalist shtick to sell everything from gold to desert bunkers.

There is a cost to all of this. The religious extremism and anti-government paranoia has gone mainstream now. These people have their own “political correctness”. That is, in order to be a good American, you’ve got to believe in the most reactionary forms of patriarchal Christianity and the second amendment is THE most important amendment in the Constitution. It trumps the first, fourth and fifth amendment. Oh and the 14th amendment is optional.

Challenge them on any of this and see what happens.

*You may wonder why there’s a wall and fencing around the massacre monument. Turns out that the monument kept getting torn down. If I’m not mistaken, it was Brigham Young himself who ordered it torn down the first time. Then the relatives of the slain would rebuild it annnnnd the Mormons would tear it down again. So, who knows how long this one will be around. I think it’s a government historic landmark now.

Even more reason to tear it down.

For more on the most recent Malheur occupation by the YeeHawdist, Ammon Bundy and pals, see these background articles from The Conversation.

 

 

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