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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.

Droning on and on

(Deep apologies for my disappearance yesterday.  I had unexpected extended-family duties)

It wasn’t apparent until Sunday but Obama’s Kill Team (the 100 or so administration officials who participate in the Tuesday Nomination Meeting) are using PreCog technology to identify their victims targets:

U.S. drone targets in Yemen raise questions

There is little doubt among U.S. intelligence officials that Kaid and Nabil al-Dhahab — brothers who reportedly survived a U.S. airstrike in Yemen on Memorial Day — are associated with the al-Qaeda insurgency in that country. Less clear is the extent to which they are plotting against the United States.

“It’s still an open question,” a U.S. counterterrorism official said. The siblings were related by marriage to Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda operative killed in September, but they have not been connectedto a major plot. Their focus has been “more local,” the official said. But “look at their associations and what that portends.”

Then this at FireDogLake by Dissenter, How Coverage of Obama’s Role in Drone Executions Provokes Liberal Outrage.

The post itself is great – Dissenter is doing a terrific job, not just sharing links (like me) but his commentary is heartfelt and important:

Hayes set up the segment by mentioning that a policy of kill or capture of terror suspects has largely transformed into a policy of just killing the suspects. The issue had been “bubbling a bit” but just this week, Hayes said, it “felt like it really kind of entered the national conversation assertively for the first time this week.”

“Up with Chris” is a progressive show. Many of the viewers carry an expectation—albeit an unreasonable one—that Hayes will not wholly criticize Obama because there is a Republican presidential candidate named Mitt Romney out there trying to defeat Obama in the presidential election. There also are Republicans running to defeat Democrats, voters are being suppressed in states to help Republicans win and discussion of Obama and drones is destructive to the progressive cause. And that is why the segment got under the skin of many liberals and also why it was so critical that Hayes did this segment on his show.


Then, Hayes had Scahill address what really upset liberals the most: the fact that Scahill would say with a straight face Obama was a murderer for killing innocent people with drone strikes.

Think of the above as Part One in a two part piece….

Scahill says he was “called a terrorist, a neo-Nazi, a traitor and a racist” after his appearance. He was told that he wants Romney to be president.

This is what liberal or Democratic Party supporters who defend President Obama from his critics are saying these days when the issue of drones is raised. Or, in some cases, they aren’t saying anything at all. It doesn’t matter to them that innocents are being killed who may not be terrorists. The loss of human life is less significant than the fact that the Republican Party is plotting nefariously to beat Democrats and is perhaps engaged in illegal conduct.

These liberal or Democratic Party supporters, for some reason, think there has to be a choice made between opposing voter suppression and opposing drones. That doesn’t really seem right. Also, the reaction is pretty authoritarian when one considers that much of the outrage includes a demand or passive threat. They want Hayes to never feature people like Scahill again or cover the issue of drones again. Wide-ranging debate is too much for them. (Keep in mind Jacobs and Trevino were pro-military and given opportunity to share their pro-war views. No liberals called for them to be banned from Hayes’ program.)

It cannot be understated. The identities of the people being killed are not certain to US officials and yet they are carrying out operations that we are supposed to believe kill terrorists, not innocent civilians. Who “these guys” are that are being targeted is contested, which makes it hard to assess this program as something that is helping to kill “terrorists.” Just how many actual terrorists are being killed is debatable.

For Part Three, we should visit the comments (for more on this – Corrente)

The whole thread is pretty fascinating but in my opinion TBogg opened a huge can of worms with comment #167:

The question is:

When to act? Before the attack, minutes prior to the attack, or in retribution afterwards?

This isn’t an easy decision to make (as the article went to pains to point out), but to take the ability to prevent an act of terror before it happens off of the table is irresponsible. Your choice: an airliner full of innocent people or another Al-Awlaki. And, no, the choice can’t be: war is bad.

As I replied in the following comment (#168)

Isn’t that what the PreCogs were trying to work on in The Minority Report?

And for some quick (quote-free links)

Lambert, writing at Naked Capitalism Obama’s and Brennan’s Kill List shares a video and a petition

CounterPunch Diary: There’s a Cancer on the Presidency, Called Barack Obama, by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Scahill: Obama has ‘murdered’ people with drone strikes

The Cumulative Propaganda of Media Coverage of Drone Assassinations

Axelrod denies attending national security meetings