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    • The Path Of The Great Prophets
      A religion is an ideology with supernatural elements. We consider it OK to criticize Marxists or capitalists or libertarians or monarchists, but we tend to shy  away from saying that a religion has bad elements. The Hindu caste system is evil. It needs to end, and it needs to end today. If The Laws of […]
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Corzine: “She would have been able to handle this Congress”

Corzine knew better

So, the former governor of New Jersey attended a birthday party for the Big Dawg and in one sentence managed to sum up everything that is wrong with the Democratic party right now:

“…Susan and Alan Patricof watched the slenderized and beaming couple kick it up to “You’re Still the One” as former New Jersey Senator John Corzine looked on wistfully. “I just wish,” Corzine said shaking his head, “I mean I knew — she would have been able to handle this Congress… but it was just Obama’s time.”

Stand back, Myiq, I can handle this.

Dear Jon, this statement exemplifies why you aren’t the Governor of New Jersey any more.  I voted for you for Senator and Governor.   After Christie Whitman left, I thought it was time for a Democrat to take control of the state and work on property tax reform.  You remember property taxes?  Those things that increase mortgage payments by roughly 50%?  Yeah, the voters of NJ expected you to do something about that, like adopt a more Pennsylvania like tax system.  You know, spread the responsibility, move towards a more equitable income tax solution, or hit your buds to pony up more, maybe consolidate some municipalities so they shared services, work with the teacher’s unions to make sure teachers proved themselves before they got tenure.  You know, stuff like that.  But you examined the problem only briefly, threw up your hands and declared yourself powerless and expected us to just kind of suck it up and vote for you again.

It reminds me of some of Obama’s legislative “victories”.  His supporters say he’s powerless to influence the big bad, nasty, wasty Republicans so his proposals are weak tea and do nothing to alleviate the suffering of millions of Americans.  But, Golly!, he certainly has a record of legislative accomplishments, doesn’t he?  No one since FDR has dones so much.  I guess all that Civil Rights legislation and Great Society stuff and Medicare doesn’t count.  LBJ must be rolling in his grave.  But isn’t Reagan delicious??

But I digress.  Let’s look at what your statement actually says.  We’ll break it down for the slow witted.

1.) “I knew — she would have been able to handle this Congress”.  That’s a very interesting admission, Jon.  Presumably, you had insight into Hillary’s capacity to govern because you had seen her in action.  You were in the Senate at roughly the same time.  You worked with her.  And she would have had a very powerful mentor at her side at all times who she could have asked for advice.  Initially, you were a Clinton Superdelegate.  That’s because even you could see that after eight years of George Bush’s devastating disaster of a presidency, the country was going to need a responsible, capable, experienced leader to clean up.  It would have been a thankless job too.  Because avoiding a financial crisis like the one we have now wouldn’t have the same impact as fixing it now that the economy is totally broken.  If Hillary had been elected and structured the TARP in such a way that the big banks had been taken over, that homeowners had been able to keep their houses and paid the banks on time and real, ready-to-go infrastructure projects had put people back to work, she would have just looked like a good president.  If we elect her in 2012 and she does all of these things, she will look absolutely Rooseveltesque!  Obama might not like that much but, trust me, the American people will love it.

2.) “…but it was just Obama’s time.”  No, Jon, it was OUR time.  That is, the American people’s time.  It was time for us to stop being terrified of scary Muslims.  It was our time to stop the slide of the middle class towards destitution.  It was our time to invest in infrastructure and our future.  We needed a leader who was ready and able to help us do that.  It wasn’t feminists’ time or African Americans’ time.  The prize of the presidency of the United States was not a personal accomplishment for Barack Obama.  He wasn’t ready for a commitment as big as this one.  And this is where you made your fatal mistake.

Where the hell do you get off substituting your opinion for expressed wishes of the voters of your state?  As a superdelegate, you can do whatever fool thing you want with your vote.  But you don’t have the right to take the primary results of millions of people of the state you govern and dump them in nearest waste paper receptacle because you are dazzled by a Wall Street shmoozer who thinks it is his destiny to rule the world.  You may have thought the local Democratic machine wouldn’t stand in your way if you did it anyway but the voters had the right to hold you accountable for your lack of effort and your bad judgment.  That’s why you’re not Governor anymore.

If there’s anyone to blame for Chris Christie’s win in NJ, it’s YOU, Jon.  All you had to do was act like you actually cared about the voters in your state.  Instead, you behaved with arrogance, detachment and wrong headed stupidity.  You saddled a lot of New Jersey residents with taxes they struggle to pay and you deprived them of a voice in the most crucial election of their lifetimes.  And for that, the voters held you personally responsible.

And that’s going to happen to Congress this fall.

Thanks for nothing.

BTW, Happy Belated Birthday, Bill.

(And so’s your wife)

Thursday Morning Breakfast

A month from now, I will have lost the muffin top and will be lounging around somewhere in Maui drinking Bad Ass Coffee for breakfast.  I will toss my red hair in the trade winds and laugh, “ha-hahhhh!”  Until then, four more weeks in frickin’ New Jersey with an eighth grader who is making my life miserable because I decided to do an academic intervention and send her to an intense five weeks of algebra this summer.  (No, she didn’t fail anything.  She’s just an underachieving G&T kid who refuses to do her homework).  Seven more days of adolescent sturm and drang before she aces the final and killing her becomes a lot less attractive as a coping mechanism.  I can’t wait.

Bad Ass Coffee

Bad Ass Coffee

In the meantime, lean your surfboard against the wall, grab a cup of kona and read the news.

Corzine *still* trails Christie by 10+ points in the NJ Governor’s race.  {{smirk!}}  Karma’s a bitch, Jon.  Oh, by the way, Hillary hasn’t completely ruled out running for President but she says it’s really unlikely.

Obama has pulled out all of the stops and is asking the public to support his health care plan. First bloggers, now a direct appeal to the rest of us.  What’s the hurry?  It won’t take effect until 2013 anyway and as reform goes, it isn’t that great.  As long as we have four years to implement it, why not take it niiiiice and sloooow and work all of the bugs out of the system.  if you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?  Color me suspicious on the rush job.  For instance, take this “Oh, really?” bit of BS:

With Republicans and some moderate Democrats on Capitol Hill balking at both the specifics of the legislation and Mr. Obama’s timetable for House and Senate passage of the bills, the White House is now trying to rally legislative support and public opinion by linking health care to the nation’s economic health and offering the promise of tangible benefits to Americans.

“If we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit,” he said. “If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket.” He acknowledged that Americans were anxious, saying, “Folks are skeptical, and that is entirely legitimate.”

Folks are skeptical because for the vast majority of us, reform ain’t gonna happen.  We’ll be locked into our current plan and insurers can continue to maximize profits.  Costs and deficits are going to continue to rise for four more years until this baby takes effect and eve the Congressional Budget Office says the current plan will do nothing to curb costs.  The insurance industry seems to be getting a great deal out of this one.  Maybe that’s why they want to seal this deal before anyone finds out.  Call it Son of TARP.

And this is just silly:

At first, House Democrats were weighing a tax on Americans making more than $280,000 a year; now there is talk of imposing the tax on those households earning $1 million or more, an idea Mr. Obama said he favored because it would not put the burden of paying for the bill on the middle class.

“To me, that meets my principle, that it’s not being shouldered by families who are already having a tough time,” he said.

Mr. Obama also signaled that he might be open to another idea under consideration in the Senate : taxing employer-provided health benefits, as long as the tax did not fall on the middle class.

I don’t think the middle class who make less than a million a year would mind a small tax increase if the quality of the health care insurance that everyone received improved.  You can make a small tax very attractive if the results are significantly better than what we’ve got.  Think Social Security.  That’s not what this bill proposes.  But it doesn’t surprise me that Obama would throw out this not-very-well-thought-out, disjointed statement. He doesn’t lead from principle.  He doesn’t lead.  He follows.  And it’s becoming clear that he is worried about media driven public opinion but not terribly worried about doing the right thing.  So what else is new?

Meanwhile, back in Sudan, Iraq, Iran, China and Kyrgystan (Kyrgystan??)…  There are a heck of a lot of foreign news stories on the frontpage.  What’s up with that?  Are these all turning into hotspots or are they just bright shiny objects?

The Birthers are back. Birther prophylactic: we are not nor ever have been associated with the birther movement.  It’s a pointless distraction.  I figure that the Clinton Campaign would have been perfectly within its rights to have Obama disqualified if he were not a natural born citizen.  It wouldn’t have been character assassination.  It would have been a constittuional issue.  But Bill Clinton himself said that Obama met the minimum requirements for being president, which I interpret to mean that they looked into it and there’s no THERE there.  I don’t know why Obama needs to produce the exact original of his birth certificate to satisfy the birther crowd but I can think of a really good reason why he wouldn’t: it makes the birthers look like a bunch of complete loonies if he occasionally stirs up the issue.  Birthers, please don’t try to defend yourselves on this blog.  We’re really not interested.

For those of you who are getting blindsided by the shifting frames of the media on who’s who in the Democratic caucus and who’s screwing up health care reform, check out The Blue Dogs Flunk Obedience School. In summary, Obama, who doesn’t have a political philosophy but for some reason really, really likes bipartisanship for its own sake, has ignored his progressive base and has now become hostage to conservative blue dog Democrats.  These DINOs come from conservative districts where voters are vulnerable to media messaging about tax and spend liberals.  So far as I’ve seen, our current Congressional session skews heavily to the right.  There’s still a lot of taxing and spending going on but nary a liberal intiative in sight.  And as long as the blue dogs remain unprimaried, that’s the way it will stay.

H1N1 is laying low for now but could be a real problem in the fall.  Still no need to panic.  Get your flu shot if you’re offered one, have your doctor’s phone number available if you get sick, ask your employer about plans in case of a public health emergency and follow your public health official’s guidelines to prevent spread of infection.  Let’s hope our precautions make this the biggest non-story of the year.

Podcasts of the day: I have heard it said recently that the world is undergoing a shift in consciousness in a way that is similar to the shift from polytheism to monotheism.  It is a shift away from traditional monotheism to a more logical, holistic vision of the universe and its source of wonder.  It was difficult to see this shift while the country was in the grips of the fundamentalist evangelical base and their Christ for Rich People stuff.  It’s funny that so many religious people vote for politicians who do not believe in holding people accountable for bad behavior.  I might be wrong but it feels like it is time for the country to regain its sense of ethical behavior.  And as we know from bitter experience, it isn’t always to be found in the pews of your nearest megachurch.  Here are several podcasts that have common themes though they aren’t all obvious at first. There is a lot of material to chew on about reason, first principles, inclusiveness and the evolution of the human spirit:

Melvyn Bragg’s in Our Time discusses the Vienna Circle’s Logical Positivism

Bill Moyer’s interviewed Robert Wright on The Evolution of God

Anything from Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith.  I have really become addicted to her podcasts. There’s something here for everyone, atheists included.  Tippet is the Terry Gross of the divine but what passes for divine these days may surprise you.   Most of her interviews are not overtly about religion at all but are more about how different faith and ethical  experiences allow individuals to view life, the universe and everything from a more holistic point of view. The Ecstatic Faith  of Rumi won a Peabody and it’s easy to hear why.  It’s poetic and beautiful.  But Tippett also explores The Biology of Spirit with neurosurgeon Sherwin Nuland, freelance monotheism with Karen Armstrong and a more modern form of logical positivism with Echard Tolle.  Her interview with Rick Warren and his wife Kay was fascinating.  The Warrens initially sound like shallow, corporate religious types and don’t quite shake that image with the listener in spite of all of their recent philanthropic efforts. Quite revealing in completely unexpected ways.  All highly recommended.

Heartless employer of the day: Drugmaker Wyeth, in the process of merging with equally heartless Pfizer, sent an email offering a resume writing workshop to all employees. (no link.  I was informed by some former colleagues) I love the way they are promoting the fiction that there are any companies, not in India and China, where their employees have any hope of actually finding a job.  All of the companies I know are in the midst of their own layoffs and endless hiring freezes, leaving projects short staffed and scrambling for outside contractors.  The Pfizer-Wyeth merger will result in the loss of thousands of scientific jobs, burdening further the unemployment rolls of NJ, PA, CT and NY.  I’m sure the workshop is  going to lead to greater productivity between now and when the real layoffs begin.  Just write off real drug development from that new behemoth for the next several years.  The Wall Street guys and the mega shareholders just won’t be satisfied until these companies are reduced to cheap, overseas scientific staff and a bunch of stateside marketers and executives.  So much for American innovation.  Contracting your brain trust from overseas is incredibly short sighted.  It’s like eating your seed corn.  Pretty soon, all that will be left are MBAs.  And what have they innovated lately?

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Thursday- Taylor’s only half right

Last night, I fell asleep to Taylor Marsh. I know, I know, a lot of you find it hard to believe that Taylor’s Midwestern Missouri edgy voice could be comforting and soothing enough to put anyone to sleep but I actually love Taylor’s straightforward honesty. My anxiety is relieved when I know what my parameters are, what my choices are and I have an idea of how high the mountain is. It means I can plan better. Uncertainty is a killer in terms of planning.

So, I was listening to Taylor last night relating the challenges that Clinton faces in getting the nomination. And yes, I do believe that it will be difficult. But one thing I have noticed even Taylor succumbing to is the notion that the nomination will not be legitimate if it is decided on the basis of Superdelegates. This illustrates perfectly why well crafted and often repeated memes are so insidious. Even people who should know better start to believe them.

Continue reading

NJ’s Corzine makes Obama an offer he can’t refuse

My governor, Jon Corzine, is going to make sure that my vote counts. The delegates of the state of NJ will count for nothing without the critical mass of the Florida delegation and if we add Michigan as well, the more the merrier. I think that is what makes me incensed about this whole disenfranchisement debacle. By enforcing the RULZ, Dean, Brazile and Obama are screwing CA, NJ, NY, MA, AZ, TX,OH , FL and MI and a bunch of other states. Our votes are being held hostage to Idaho and Utah. It’s outrageous. The total delegate count won’t change much but, by golly, without FL and MI, Obama looks like he’s got more delegates when he doesn’t.

So, what about it, Barry? Do you want to waive the rules or have a do-over and lose again? This time you can campaign and we’ll see just how much Florida loves you for throwing out their original votes. And let’s face it, no matter who funds this do-over, you will have just wasted their hard-earned money from January when they bought the *first* primary.

Thanks to Governors Corzine and Rendell, who are looking out for their constituents’ interests.  We stand in Solidarity with Florida and Michigan.

I’d like to thank the WGA for going on strike

If it hadn’t been for so many people having nothing better to watch on TV, many of them wouldn’t be watching the debates. I walked into my local Starbucks yesterday and people noted my Hillary Clinton campaign button leftover from a couple weeks ago. I could hear snippets of conversation swirling around of a political nature. I accidentally took someone elses tall caramel latte and was really embarrassed but the young woman whose drink it was said, “That’s OK, I forgive you. At least you’re not voting for McCain.”

This is a very red suburb where there isn’t a single Democrat on the Township committee. About 4500 people voted in the precincts in our town just for the Democrats and Hillary edged out Obama by about 100 votes. People are paying attention, ready to work together and motivated. And for that, I would like to thank the WGA.

Now, get back to work on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report before I start to lose my patience!

The Asian Factor

I think I mentioned this before somewhere but among my asian friends in my local Creative Class suburb and working environment, Hillary Clinton is clearly the favorite. Now, a piece in the New Republic on Asian Alienation tries to make sense of this phenomenon. I’m glad someone is finally starting to pay attention to this but the author only has part of the story:

The most interesting theory I have heard for why Obama may have underperformed in Asian American communities came from Taeku Lee, the Berkeley political scientist. The Illinois senator has focused his campaign squarely on the theme of change, and on the promise of radically altering the status quo in Washington, D.C. Obama aides are not shy in arguing that their boss is leading a movement as much as an ordinary fight for the presidency. Rhetorically, at least, his campaign can seem almost radical. For ordinary Democrats fed up with eight years of the Bush administration, this has been his main selling point. But, in an interview yesterday, Lee gave a different and very interesting explanation for why Obama may have underperformed in Asian American communities. “Running on change is risky,” he explains. “It’s not the best way to sell your candidacy in some immigrant communities. Many people who just came to this country or who feel unsettled are looking to have their anxieties alleviated, looking for a sense of stability.” When I spoke with an aide to a California congressman whose district includes a large East Asian population, he agreed with the assessment. “Many of our voters think his pitch is too radical. They are ‘New Democrats’ for a reason.” It probably does not help Obama’s cause that many of the immigrants who came to America were fleeing “revolutionary” regimes.

There’s probably an element of truth to some of this. Many of my asian colleagues move pretty quickly to become American citizens and I think part of that reason is because they feel a sense of security here. They can have their opinions and they don’t have to look over their shoulders. They are building stable lives here and have a network of friends they can rely on. When they go back to China or India on vacation, they come back with stories about how good the food is but how cold the little houses are. The price of prescription drugs in India might be excellent for a visitor on a US salary, but the average worker in Hyderabad doesn’t make enough money to consider them less than expensive. The traffic is bad. Air pollution is bad. It’s nice to see family and friends but they seem happy to get back to their new lives here. It’s a nice place to visit but they wouldn’t want to live there.

But there are some interesting things about well educated asians that I think point to why they are voting for Clinton in overwhelming numbers. Here are my guesses:

  • Unlike my American colleagues, Asians are well-versed in politics. Indians in particular follow politics like sports. They love the horserace. They know all of the players and pay close attention to everything that is said. Chinese colleagues will corner me at lunch and make me tell them everything that’s going on.
  • Asians, even the ones who are citizens, are painfully critical of their fluency in English. Most of my colleagues are very understandable but there is an element of English that they are still struggling with. One of my French colleagues told me once that he switched to English to accomodate his American colleagues but at the end of the day, he was exhausted by the effort to translate everything and keep up. I think there is an element of this with Asians as well. So, they may rely more heavily on appearance and body language. I can’t tell you how many times they pointed out a little detail in a debate or campaign appearance that I completely missed. But because they are more consciously aware of these things, they are less swayed by clever spin and turns of phrase. Nothing gets by them.
  • They have a very strong work ethic. They’ve been through the wringer in their native country. When you have to compete against hundreds of millions of peers to get into the elite universities, to even get a shot of studying abroad, you know how important it is to work really hard towards your goals. Hillary is a worker and they might identify with that in her. She’s also a policy wonk and it’s very difficult to fake fluency in a particular area of expertise. They like Obama’s freshness and charisma, but they will side with the smart, hard-working girl. She put in the hours and it shows.
  • One of the biggest reasons why Hillary is a favorite among asians is because they have gotten beyond the gender factor. Many asian countries have elected female leaders such as Indira Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Aung San Suu Kyi, and know what personal risks they take to defy cultural expectations and take the reins of government. So, they are comfortable with a female leading a country. They think we are hypocrits.

So, there you have it. It doesn’t surprise me that Hillary won NJ, NY, MA and CA with their help. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she had a better than expected performance in VA or NC. A lot of asians in the biological sciences start their post-doc training at places like the NIH in Washington and NC has the Research Triangle where they may also be found in large numbers. They take their new citizenship rights very seriously and vote. So, maybe Virginia is going to be closer than the Obamaphiles think.

NJ Voters: Don’t take this state for granted!

If you live here, you know what I’m talking about. This is a flaky state and too often, the party takes it for granted that the vote will go in one direction or another. If you are planning to vote for Clinton, don’t expect anyone else to do the heavy lifting for you. You only have a short time left to go to the polls and vote. The vote is going to be close and every vote counts. Now, get out there and when you get back, you can kick back and have a beer and watch Tweety sink into a deep depression from which he may never recover.

UPDATE:  OK, New Jersey, you have about 1 hour to get out there and vote for Clinton.  She’s slipping in this state by about 5 points according to exit polls.  So, pick up the kids, buy them a pizza and get thee to the polls as quick as you can.

A Message from Linda, my soon-to-be Congresswoman in NJ-07

Friends, here is a message from one of my favorite Democrats, Linda Stender, who is running for Congress for my district NJ-07. This woman understands what we’re up against and the importance of solidarity. Here’s the money quote:

I will be proud to see my name on the ballot in November alongside either Clinton or Obama. I know with either one of them in the White House, I will have a powerful ally as I take on the key issues of our time. Getting our troops out of Iraq, making sure that all Americans have access to healthcare, confronting the perils of global warming, and investing in stem cell research.

This woman will make us proud in the Congress. Linda is truly a better Democrat.  In 2006, she came within less than 4000 votes of beating Santorum-Wannabe, Mike Ferguson.  She has the intelligence and fire to win this district in November.  Let’s hear it for Linda, who knows there is power in a union.

Linda Stender for NJ-07

700,000,000

That is today’s number. It represents the hidden tax that every working New Jerseyan pays for the healthcare of uninsured residents of our state.

$700,000,000.00

It’s 3/4 of a Billion dollars that the state comps hospitals around the state when an uninsured 10 year old needs oxygen during a severe asthma attack, or an uninsured man needs to be treated for a heart attack or an uninsured free-lancing woman needs chemotherapy for breast cancer.

1.8 Million New Jerseyans out of 8 million are uninsured. That’s a lot of potentially sick people. Wouldn’t it be better for them to pay into a universal health insurance policy while they’re well so that the risk is dispersed and hospitals don’t have to pass the cost onto the insured like they do now?

One of our candidates believes in univesal coverage, The other would let the young and healthy opt out until they need it. In the meantime, the tax becomes less well hidden…