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      Right, with the ban on Huawei using chips made with American manufacturing equipment (one of America’s last few places of absolute advantage); the bans of TikTok, Tencent and WeChat; the attempt to convince other countries to not use Huawei 5G; the arrest of the Huawei founder’s daughter for doing business with Iran along with the […]
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Bannon, Cromwell and Aristocrats

Update: It didn’t take long for Kellyanne Conway to state what Trump plans to do with Medicare. He’s going to save it for everyone *currently* using it. (See post below) The rest of us?  What do you think?  I think the bulk of the fabulous tax cuts we’re going to get are going to come from social security and Medicare phaseout. Make Americans Destitute Again! yay

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s “senior advisor”, refers to himself as a modern day Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell, as you may recall, was one of the first true English statesmen. His goal was to pull England out of the Middle Ages with respect to banking, commerce and the modernization of the state itself where a bunch of 16th century technocrats would run the joint while the aristocrats idylled in their game preserves.

One of Cromwell’s ideas was if you kept the restless poor masses fed and busy, you could calm insurrection, allowing business to bloom. He tried to get parliament to pay attention, as illustrated in this passage from Hilary Mantel’s brilliant book, Bring Up The Bodies:

“In March [1536], Parliament knocks back his [Thomas Cromwell’s] new poor law. It was too much for the Commons to digest that rich men might have some duty to the poor. If you get fat, as some men do who profit from the wool trade, you have some responsibility to the men turned off their land, the laborers without labor, the sowers without a field. England needs roads, forts, harbors, bridges. Men need work. It’s a shame seeing them begging their bread, when honest labor could keep the realm secure. Can we not put them together, the hands and the tasks?

But Parliament cannot see how it is the State’s job to create work. Are not these matters in God’s hands, and is not poverty and dereliction part of his eternal order? To everything there is a season- a time to starve and a time to thieve. If rain falls six months solid and rots the grain in the fields, there must be Providence in it. God knows his trade. It is an outrage to the rich and enterprising to suggest that they should pay an income tax only to put bread in the mouths of the work shy. And if Secretary Cromwell argues that famine provokes criminality, well, are there not hangmen enough?

The King himself comes to the Commons to argue for the law. He wants to be Henry the Beloved, a father to his people, a shepherd to his flock. But the Commons sit stoney faced on their benches and stare him out. The wreckage of the measure is comprehensive. “It is ended up as an Act for the Whipping of Beggars”, Richard Rich says. “It is more against the poor than for them.”

Soooo, that went well.

The problem with the last election is that the people who voted for Trump, and the rest of us who didn’t but are stuck with him, is that the voters what chose to “drain the swamp” ended up with a swamp only slightly less full. The Republicans are in charge of the House and Senate just like they were before the election. The Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan’s nickname is “granny starver” because he’s intent on dismantling Medicare and slashing social security. Oh, yes, oh best beloveds, he’s got binders full of plans and now that Obama is out of the way, he and his wealthy aristocratic friends will not be afraid to whip those babies out and ram them down our throats whether we’ve worked all our lives for those benefits or not.

I think he’ll be clever about it. He’ll grandfather in your grandfather who is already receiveing SS and Medicare. That will be the generational divide he’s been waiting for. It will be the Republican version of the ACA’s pre-existing conditions manuever. Of course, you will be expected to sacrifice so granny can eat.

And who could argue with that?

Ryan will flatter King Henry VIII, er, Donald, and Donald will come home to his wealthy and well connected roots. Eventually, he’ll turn on Bannon. So easy to do, just continue to play up his white nationalist roots.

Oh, I’m not feeling sorry for Bannon and his “ends justifies the means” repugnant version of white nationalism. He’s no Thomas Cromwell, who, if history is correct, really did have a social conscience, even if he did have to play the King’s game as he raped and pillaged the Church. That whole ordeal with Anne Boleyn was self preservation. The palace wasn’t big enuf for the two of them.

But sooner or later, Bannon will have to go. Whatever secret plans he had to make sure the wild and angry mob stayed pacified will be scrapped by the aristocrats we still left in Congress.

His king will turn on him and he’ll lose his head and we’ll be deprived of our safety net. The Ryans and Pences will look down upon us and ridicule us for not saving more of our meager earnings. They will judge us for daring to change God’s plans for us.

Wait and see.

Today is my birthday. I hereby declare The Confluence a beet free zone!

To audit or not to audit OR what did you do for GOTV?

I saw a lot of tweets last night from people who were desperate for Hillary’s campaign to do something before it was too late and get voters to ask for a recount in WI, MI, PA. I don’t know how many people urged me to demand a recount in PA. And I would be glad to except that I live in Allegheny County and Hillary won Allegheny County rather decisively. It wasn’t a California blowout but there is no question that the tech savvy, educated, diverse population that Pittsburgh is now attracting gave her a substantial win. 

That doesn’t mean I’m happy that she lost PA or that we couldn’t have eked out more votes in the Pittsburgh area. But PA mirrors the country as a whole. We have two “coastal” areas, some large college towns and then a sea of red in between where time runs backwards, science is ridiculed and people are glued to Fox News. That’s going to get you a whole lotta Trump voters. They didn’t like Hillary. It doesn’t matter that many of us did. They didn’t and there wasn’t anything you could say or any evidence you could point to in order to change their minds. 

It didn’t matter that she was the target of a 22 year smear campaign specifically designed to make her look shifty and Unlikeable. 

It didn’t matter that the media wrote more negative stories about her, more than any other candidate. 

It doesn’t matter if Comey doomed her campaign 11 days out from the election. 

You could dissect all of the reasons why Hillary was treated badly, unfairly and her reputation smeared. People who react emotionally to news are very difficult to reason with. They can’t overcome the visceral reaction they’ve been conditioned to have. 

That’s not to say we in PA couldn’t have pushed her over the edge with GOTV activities. My house was used as a staging location for the last 4 weeks of the campaign. We called in as many volunteers as we could. But it’s a large territory where I live. We knocked on as many doors as we could. I walked many streets, some of them on curvy roads without a sidewalk at dusk looking for addresses, one house behind the planned parenthood canvasser. I don’t see well after dark but I was knocking on doors in the dark until I couldn’t see the house numbers anymore and it made me feel guilty that I couldn’t do anymore. 

The last weekend, we had volunteers from all over Pittsburgh canvassing from my house. We had volunteers from NY and CA. It got so busy that we had trouble keeping the turfs organized and my downstairs toilet overflowed and while I was assigning canvassers and answering calls from my organizers and training volunteers, I was mopping up the bathroom floor. 

In one way or another, I had phone banked, registered voters and canvassed since July. Almost every weekend I was out there doing something. 

So, all I have to ask of the people who are frantic for a recount is, what did YOU do for this most consequential election of our lifetimes?  

I was afraid that the Democrats had used fear once too often in 2006, 2008, 2012 to motivate constituents. 

Maybe they cried wolf once too often. Maybe Democratic voters thought she was just so obviously better that voters would see the light at the end of the campaign. Maybe they thought they could be passive or cynical and go along with their friends condemning Hillary for being too much something or not enough something else. 

That was the complacency that we were trying to overcome in our GOTV efforts and we could have used your help. 

So she lost PA, MI and WI. It’s not like we didn’t try to tell you PA was going to be close. You all knew. And if the Clinton campaign is not pulling out all of the stops now to get recounts it’s because they know that there’s probably no point. Where they lost, they lost decisively. It’s where they won but not in a blowout like here in Allegheny County, where an extra 200 canvassers might have made the difference. 

We all need to save ourselves now.