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    • Trump’s Policy on NAFTA is Mostly Correct
      Yeah, I know, Trump is wrong on everything. But I agree with Thomas Walkom on NAFTA. The bottom line is that what Trump wants is what the left should want, and if it doesn’t, it isn’t the economic left. And Trudeau’s pretty face and lovely abs don’t change that. Trump wants to: raise the minimum […]
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Post debate thread: “The Horror, The Horror”

Um, I don’t know what to say. I feel for you loyalists.

I guess you could comfort yourself with the idea that this is part of his 11 dimensional chess strategy.

That was cruel. I’m sorry.

If it’s any consolation, I’m not happy either. I keep hoping but it’s not looking good.

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Presidential Debate Live blog 1: Pete and Repete

Good evening, Conflucians.  It’s that time of the year again when our quadrennial election cluster%^& shifts into high gear.  The operatives have scoured the blogs for all the right buzz words and have carefully crafted sound bites for tonight’s entertainment.

Ah, but we at the Confluence do things differently.  We like to watch the debates without the sound so we can pay close attention to body language.  However, if there are readers out there who want to keep us up to date on what each person said in the timeline, that’s cool too.  Very helpful, in fact, so we can roughly coordinate our impressions with the speaker.

This year’s debate features Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  Party affiliation is not helpful this time since Mitt Romney is a relatively moderate Republican posing as a right wing nutcase and Barack Obama is a moderate Republican posing as a Democrat.  Since I don’t really have a dog in this fight (I don’t like either of them), that might be good for my objectivity.  If you feel likewise, join in!  Grab your beer, tune in to your favorite debate channel, set your DVR, or watch it online on C-Span, like I intend to do, and turn the sound off.  I guarantee you won’t miss a thing.  The media will be rerunning the highlights for days and C-Span usually runs the whole thing in its entirety.

Ready.  Set.  Go!

What question would you like to ask the candidates?

The live blog post will go off at 5 minutes before debate time.  So, while we wait, let’s talk about what we would ask the candidates.

Here are some of mine:

1.) *Are* women equal to men?  If not, why not?

2.) The idea that we should all work or start our own businesses has been pushed very hard in the last couple of years.  For those of us in professions with extremely high start up costs and low probability of success but require long term investment, what small business initiatives would you recommend that would help us keep our families fed and housed while we do the back breaking work of curing cancer?  I mean, that wouldn’t require heroic, patriotic self-sacrifice and wouldn’t import the exploitative work environments that discourage innovation as we have witnessed in India and China?  If Americans are so hard working and productive, why can’t we insist on a decent return on our productivity?

3.)  Referring to question 2, withdrawal from one’s 401K usually incurs a 10% excise tax in addition to income taxes.  Given that many laid off workers can not start a business without start up funds, why are the unemployed still penalized for withdrawing funds from their 401Ks to start a business?  Additionally, why are we charging an excise tax at all on these funds?  Although they are meant for retirement, the economy is in need of stimulus money that these funds can provide.  Who are we protecting here, the unemployed or the financial market?

4.) What are you planning to do to make the corporations and financiers get off the ungodly piles of cash they’ve been sitting on in the past 4 years?  Please be specific.

Those are  just off the top of my head.

Goonj, recycling clothing and dignity

One of the most basic but overlooked needs in India is clothing.  There are many poor people who have so little to wear that they can’t leave their houses while their clothing is being washed.  This article in the NYTimes explains how Anshu Gupta, a former corporate communications director, started an organization called Goonj, which collects used clothing and distributes it to people in need.  And they do it with the highest regard for the dignity and respect to the recipients, something that many right wing conservatives feel determined to strip away from the needy here.

Having decent clothing is the step before microcredit.  It’s that important.

We are a rich country.  It’s hard to believe that anyone in this country would have so little money that they can’t afford sanitary napkins.  But if there are such cases here in America, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps is not an option.  What they need are boots. What does it say about us as a nation that we do not treat each other with the dignity and respect we all deserve?  Poor people are not parasites.  They’re poor.  Fortunes come and fortunes go.  But everyone needs a nice warm coat, money for personal products, and kindness.

Here is a video describing Goonj and here is the website.  They do take foreign donations to help them defray their operating costs and pay their staff.  The donations of clothes they expect to receive from all of the classes of India who have extra clothes they no longer need.  Nothing is wasted.  You will be surprised to find what you can do with scraps of clothing.  This is the ultimate recycling project.

Iranian Autumn? and other news

The Iranians are in the streets again, protesting the regime of mullahs and Ahmedinejhad.

To paraphrase an old Sting song, “The Mullahs say they will bury you, I don’t agree with their point of view, it’s such an ignorant thing to do, if the Persians love their children too.”

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Americans are visiting the doctor less frequently.  It looks like the bipartisan plan to control medical costs via a program of sustained mass unemployment is working.

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Check these maps out in TheAtlanticCities if you want to see what happened to job growth since 2001 and in the last four years.  Not very pretty.

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Todd Akin (R), who is running for Senator of Missouri against eau-de-Democrat Claire McCaskill says that the government shouldn’t interfere with the way businesses operate even if it results in pay discrimination against women.

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Michael Lynch says in his article for the NYTimes Opinionator that persuasion by reason isn’t useless, it just takes longer than we like.  Eventually, we’ll have lost absolutely everything but maybe that’s what it will take before the gullible buy a clue.

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There really is a white male affirmative action program.  Let’s just cut the bullshit about all of the progress women have made and look at the facts, ok?

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True story: a couple of guys bought a house in Arizona a few years ago assuring the former owner’s daughters that they were going to restore it to its former architectural glory.  They didn’t.  Instead, they submitted plans to the local planning board to demolish the house, split the land into two lots and develop on it.  Except that this particular house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his son, David, and it was one of the prototypes for the Guggenheim Museum’s spiral design.  If the couple who bought the house don’t get a buyer who meets their asking price of $2.2 million by tomorrow, it’s curtains for the house.  Thursday is when the demolition is scheduled to begin.  The Wright foundation says this house flew under their radar because David Wright never let anyone visit it even though it’s about 10 miles from Taliesan West.  It would be awful to see it destroyed.  The place looks like it would be beautiful if someone gave it some TLC.  Unfortunately, the new buyers are going to have to have a lot of money to restore it and maybe that’s the sticking point.  Preservationists are racing against the clock to get it designated as a historical landmark.  It looks like they’re not going to make the deadline though.

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Hey!  There’s a debate tonight.  The New York Times says you can learn a lot about candidates in debates by their body language.  They’re a little late to this party because that’s the way The Confluence used to watch debates during the 2008 season.  Here’s the plan: tune into the debate on C-Span or set your DVR, and turn off the sound.  It doesn’t matter what they say anyway and you can always rewatch the debate later.  Now, watch their bodies.  Record your impressions.  You may come to different conclusions about who won based on their body language.  We’ll run a liveblog simultaneously.

As for me, I’m inclined to do like James Carville and join the Cocktail Party.  I love a bit of whiskey in the fall.  But if your tastes lean in the effervescent direction, check out this pumpkin beer recipe served from a real pumpkin: