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    • Examining Turkey’s Shoot Down of a Russian Jet
      First, the ostensible reason for this incident is the Turkmen rebels in Syria. Erdogan summoned the Russian ambassador earlier this week to warn against strikes against the Turkmen in Syria. Second, it’s worth considering that much of this is about Turkish domestic politics. Erdogan is playing to the crowd, in the same way done by […]
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Lest you think I am exaggerating…

… about how dangerous undue influence can be, check out Confederate Pam’s twitter feed. When I first saw her tweets popping up at #freebree, I thought she must be a troll or something. Her stuff is so over the top it’s a wonder she hasn’t been banned by Twitter for hate speech. But it looks like she is the real thing. She hates African Americans, healthcare and gay people. And she’s got a special place in her, well, let’s not call it a heart, for liberals.

She could be one of my sister’s friends.

Oh, and she seems to watch an awful lot of Fox News. Hmmm…

I’m sure there’s no correlation. Butcha know, you are who you hang out with.

Just sayin’.

Who are they still fighting?

I saw this earlier today but am happy to make the video go viral.

Bree Newsome took down the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina statehouse. Watch as she climbs the pole and quotes the good parts of the bible (you know, the parts that are about not being afraid):

I was wondering when someone would finally get around to doing this.

But my question is, if it’s not about race (call me skeptical), who do the confederate battle flag supporters think they are still fighting?

And I don’t completely buy it that it’s just Scots Irish rednecks. There’s something bigger and far more menacing behind it if they can keep that middle finger in flag form up for 150 years. That flag means the war is never going to end. It means that there are forces in this country who think they are entitled and are going to make it as difficult as humanly possible for the rest of us to move away from feudalism, aristocracy and privilege. They’re going to keep this battle up with the North for as long as it takes and we the rest of us are told over and over and over again to compromise and give in and respect their Southern pride.

The people who love that flag have no respect for the rest of us. They don’t care about your climate. They don’t like public schools because ignorance is a good way to keep the help in line. They feel it is their right to do what they want with their property and they are never going to get over having some of it emancipated away from them.

Bree is awesome and brave. Thank you, Bree.

But in light of what happened last week, it shouldn’t have to take a bill and six months of waiting for a legislative session to get that flag removed from the statehouse. It’s the very least that South Carolina legislators could do before the sun set on the Thursday after the shooting.

Update: The FreeBree IndieGoGo page started by Credo is up to more than $43000 and growing at a really fast clip! After they bail Bree out, maybe they can apply that money to other courageous non-violent acts.

Proud Nations

rainbow-wallpaper-18Congratulations to everyone out there who can now share equally in the benefits of marriage that the state provides. That’s justice. No longer will same sex couples find themselves locked out of hospital rooms, denied tax breaks and excluded from other benefits that heterosexual couples have taken for granted for centuries.

Just out of curiosity, I girded my loins and went over to Fox News to check out the reaction from the hysterically nauseated homophobes who think that this ruling is going to precipitate the end of civilization as we know it. It’s always amusing to watch their reactions, especially since they seem to be in denial about what modern heterosexual married couples do to each other in bed. But, whatever. Not my problem.

But I did see this little bit of stupidity on their breathless “the-World-is-going-to-end-now-that-the-gays-can-marry” page. Take a look:

We don’t have to guess about the sociological implications of Friday’s decision. Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, contends that the legitimization of same-sex unions in Scandinavian countries has caused the heterosexual marriage rate to drop dramatically, while the number of children born out of wedlock has risen, resulting in numerous societal problems.

The reason for the drop in the heterosexual marriage rate is clear:  if marriage can be redefined to include any and every relationship, then why bother to marry at all? Anytime you counterfeit something, you cheapen the value of the real thing, and gay marriage is “counterfeit marriage” (In fairness, heterosexuals have also been cheapening the value of marriage for years through adultery and divorce.)

As a Christian, I am most concerned about the spiritual implications of Friday’s decision. During the oral arguments for this case on April 28, Justice Kennedy noted that the traditional definition of marriage “has been with us for millennia. It’s very difficult for the Court to say, ‘Oh, well, we know better.’”

Friday, the Supreme Court said in essence, “We know better than God how to define marriage.”  For thousands of years both Christians and Jews have believed in both the Old and New Testament definition of marriage that was  written by Moses and affirmed by Jesus Himself when He said that God “made them male and female … For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:4-5).

Jesus taught that sex was a gift from God between one man and one woman in a marriage relationship. Any variation from that—premarital sex, adultery, polygamy, unbiblical divorce, or homosexuality—is a deviation from God’s original plan for sex.  Friday’s Supreme Court decision represents a collective shaking of our fists in God’s face saying , “We don’t care what You say about life’s most important relationship. We know best.”

The guy who wrote this about the effects of marriage in Scandinavia clearly doesn’t understand the research but this is really how these people think.

They don’t get it that the reason why marriage rates are down in Scandinavia is because the social safety net there is so strong, and, I’ve heard from people who have actually lived in Sweden that the culture worships children, that there is no need to get married if you become pregnant. The parent-child relationship is considered so important that the state makes sure that it’s strong with economic assistance and job security. In Finland, for example, each new baby gets a gift box of clothes, diapers, blankets and other goodies (including condoms for the parents). The maternity box even serves as a first bed complete with a mattress. How cool is that? I’ll tell you, it’s very cool. And it doesn’t matter how much money you have. Every child is entitled to the same start in life in Finland. That’s so, so, what’s the word? Enlightened, or kind, or fair-minded or something.

Commie slacker parasite newborns in Finland get these things in a maternity box without putting any of their delicate scrumptious skin in the game

Even if Scandinavian countries didn’t force their citizens to get gay married, they would still have this incredible safety net for children and their parents regardless of marital status. There is no shame or economic pain attached to having children out of wedlock in Scandinavia so there’s no need to get married. Imagine that! Having children because you want them regardless of whether you are married. Why, that would almost make abortion unnecessary.

As for cheapening marriage, the exact opposite is true with this supreme court ruling. In fact, it shows just how valuable marriage is to all people who can derive real tax benefits and other privileges from the state sanctioned married state. It kind of reinforces how important that license is. If you’ve got it, your retirement bennies are transferable, your property is covered, you can give your trusted partner the authority to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated. You know, important stuff. Now, gay and lesbian couples can have those very valuable benefits. That’s all this ruling means.

Of course there’s more to it than that from a societal point of view. It does give married same-sex couples the dignity they’ve been forced to carry all by themselves. By the way, is there something seriously wrong with Clarence Thomas or what? I’m beginning to think he has some kind of personality disorder. But if what Atrios calls “the Olds” don’t want to join the party and celebrate, fine, let them go sulk in a corner. Their opinions are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

It’s really too bad that so many people felt coerced into marriage back before the Pill and are projecting their envy and bitterness on the rest of society. They do have a choice. They can be Calvinistic crepe hangers or they can let their Grinchy little hearts grow 5 sizes by enjoying other people’s happiness. But they seem determined to not only refuse to evolve but also to prevent other people from evolving too. And their chosen media seems willing to support their stubborness. I ask myself, what’s in it for Fox News and the wealthy people it represents? Because when they say it’s not about the money, it’s about the money. Well, Fox News is catering to the olds now but that’s not going to last forever.

Anyway, that brings us to the whole silly so-called “Christian” thing.

I don’t care.

No, seriously.

I don’t care what you believe. It’s none of my business. In any case, if the bible is nothing more to me than bronze age and iron age writings and not some divinely inspired rule book, then it’s useless to keep bringing it up as something I need to pay attention to. There are better sources of morality than that book.

Just like it’s none of your business to decide what people do in the privacy of their own homes between two consenting adults. There’s absolutely no reason for you to get involved in that. I’m not interested in your reasons for why you think this is your business or why it makes you feel superior to judge and criticize people so wholly unconnected with you in an attempt to shame them and deprive them of their happiness.

If that’s what it means to be Christian these days, it’s not a very good recruiting tool. That’s what the current research is showing as well. It’s anti-evangelical. Not only is it not working, it’s turning people off from the Republican party. That’s got to be of some concern to the small evil group who runs Fox News and the world to whom no one we know belongs.

Republican cruel, harshly punitive “you’re on your own” brand conservatism and fundamentalist evangelical so-called “Christians” are inextricably tied to one another in the minds of voters now. You just wait and see, somehow, the party has to ditch you people to make itself look cool and attractive again. It’s coming. And if it’s as cruel to you as you have been to the LGBT community, African Americans, poor hungry children and the unemployed, well, you have it coming. It will probably look something like the Republican party aggressively courting libertarians and younger people who have been forced to pay the freight on every little thing your generation took for granted. They’ll start looking at your Social Security benefits as something they shouldn’t have to pay for. Generational warfare.

But for you diehard “Christian” homophobes, I just think that’s a waste of time to be grumpy, unattractive, religious bigots, After all, it’s not gay people who are making working peoples’ lives miserable and eroding our quality of life. Where people, gay or straight. put their naughty bits, has nothing to do with the erosion of the middle class or income instability or exploitative profit mining of American working people by the wealthy and well-connected or whether the conservatives that frequent Fox News really, really hate Social Security with a white hot passion (because they do).

Funny that Fox News would spend its fury on same sex marriage and abortion when the plight of the long term unemployed gets completely ignored.

I don’t think that Jesus would approve.

Dylann Root, Charleston, Thoughts

For now, we see through a glass darkly

This post is in parts for reasons that I hope will become clear(er) as I write them:

1.) I was on the elevator at work on Friday. It was just the two of us, an African American guy and me. He sighed heavily and looked down. He looked worn out. “Tired?”, I said. “Depressed”, he said. I asked him why. “It’s Charleston.” He got off at the next floor, turned to me and said something to explain as the doors were closing.

I didn’t catch it. I couldn’t stop the elevator. He was gone before I had a chance to hear him. I felt really bad about that.

2.) Dylann Roof didn’t spontaneously generate. He is a product of his environment. I read the article in the NYTimes about his so-called “manifesto” and how some of it had its genesis in the stories the right wing tells itself about George Zimmerman gunning down Trayvon Martin. Roof came to see that Zimmerman’s actions were completely justified. Just out of curiosity, I googled Rush Limbaugh and George Zimmerman. I took one for the team and read that garbage so you don’t have to, my best beloveds. Here’s what I found:

First, Rush was livid (well, when is he not livid?) that the news media wasn’t covering the Zimmerman trial as obsessively as he and his droogs were. That really ticked him off. The Zimmerman trial explained everything that was wrong with America and not covering just showed how complicit the media was.

Secondly, Trayvon Martin was planning to commit a felony. This was explained by the use of the word “cracka” to his friend who he was talking on the phone with just before Zimmerman shot him. According to Rush, in a matter of seconds, Martin had determined that Zimmerman was a police officer (in plain clothes) or a security guard, weighed the consequences of his actions and had decided to beat the shit out of this “cracka”, which would have been a felony.

So, basically, the argument goes, if you are black and minding your own business talking to someone on the phone and someone is following you in a menacing manner, if you have any intention of defending yourself, that intention will be interpreted as a criminal act of defiance even if the person who is threatening you is not authorized to interfere with you. In other words, if you are African American, treat every person who bothers you or attempts to curb your liberty as an authority figure who has the right to do it or you will get shot. If you try to defend yourself, as most people might do if they are confronted with a gun wielding stranger, and you get shot, you brought it on yourself by refusing to submit and by your felonious actions.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who sees obvious problems with this theory.

3.) Here’s my own thoughts about what’s going on. Referring back to what I have written previously about thought reform, the BITE model and information control, it is my hypothesis that the reason why we can’t have nice things, long term unemployment is not important to anybody, poor people are “parasites”, religious people are really into shaming women and the racism genie is finally all the way out of the bottle, is because there has been an increasing and steady stream of information flooding the cable news channels, radio airwaves, conservative churches, and family picnics. If you have never been to a cookout where one of your sister’s redneck friends indignantly tells you about how all the liberals should be shot with his gun collection as you offer him a grilled sausage stuffed peppadew, you haven’t lived. Yes, that actually happened. I have often wondered how this dude who I had never met before or had exchanged any words with had any idea that I was a liberal. I wasn’t wearing my standard issue liberal garb that day so how did he know…? This is one of the reasons I absolutely refuse to live in central Pennsylvania. They just have radar about these things.

If you ever want to hear something chilling, listen to Steve Hassan, former Moonie and current cult mind control expert, talk about how far he was willing to go to follow Sun Yung Moon even to the point that he would praise Hitler. Hassan comes from a nice Jewish family but his devotion to Moon was so great that he was able to ignore all that he knew about the Holocaust and mindlessly spew anti-Jewish propaganda.

Side note: I was stunned to hear people I cared about tell me back in 2008 that it was ok if you have racist thoughts. It’s not illegal. Oh, sure, THEY didn’t have racist thoughts. THEY weren’t ignorant and bigots. But if a person is ignorant and bigoted and has racist thoughts, what’s that got to do with me? It’s not against the law. We can’t go around policing other people’s thoughts all the time.

That was a bad omen, Oh best beloveds. I heard this said by multiple people who I respected who were essentially giving permission to the ignorant and bigoted. It was about the same time that it became ok to treat women as irrelevant and “bitches” too. So, you know, once you start letting some of the worms hatch out of the mud, they all start to hatch out.

Hassan says that people who are susceptible to undue influence are not necessarily stupid people or poorly educated. The left’s notion that low-information voters are the people most susceptible to voting against their own interests is missing the point. Anyone is vulnerable to undue influence when they are targeted by manipulative actors who are skilled at using the BITE model. Control someone’s thoughts and emotions and you can control their behavior. Control their behavior and emotions and you can control their thoughts. Control the information they get, from whatever sources, and you can control their thoughts and emotions. For Democratic activists, who were the key to the 2008 elections, controlling the information in the left blogosphere was crucial. I’ve gone over how they did it in detail but if anyone wants the Cliff Notes version in BITE format, I’ll be happy to do that to show exactly how they did it.

For Americans in general, controlling the information from cable news channels, talk radio and religious institutions is key. Converting a population takes a lot information until it almost seems normal to believe what all your neighbors believe even if you’ve never believed that crap before. Before you know it, you’re saying stuff you never would have thought thirty years before.

Whole countries have gone stark raving mad when under the influence of the BITE model. Nazi Germany stayed in its grip right up to the very end when Adolf and Eva had to hide in a bunker while Berlin and eastern Europe were bombed back into the stone age. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to snap people out of it, especially when they’re under the influence of very powerful practitioners. In the modern era, we have just seen the UK vote into office some stunningly awful economic conservatives, and while those newly elected leaders slash and burn the social safety net, voters lament all the services they are losing and how harshly it is going to affect the lives of the poor. But they are unable to break free of the BITE model. They can’t snap out of it. It’s interesting to note that the Scottish independence movement almost managed to do it last year but at the very last moment when the complacent saw how the polls were going, newspapers, television and the BBC turned off the spigot to independent voices, turned up the volume on fear, uncertainty and dread, and the vote died. Lots of promises were made, promises that Parliament had no intentions of keeping. Now Scotland is stuck. It’s tax dollars go to support a regime that is completely at odds with its own population north of Hadrian’s wall.

4.) So, now we are starting to recognize acts like those that took place in Charleston this week for what they are: domestic terrorism. Indeed, Roof’s rationalizations remind me of Tim McVeigh’s reasons for blowing up the Murrah building in Oklahoma City. McVeigh was angry about what the FBI did in Waco and Ruby Ridge. Let’s face it, people like Roof and McVeigh, dissatisfied with the way life is going in the US and prodded to become enraged by influencers whose motives they might not be completely aware of, are dangerous people.

The problem is that there are many people out there who feel like the current economic and social model is not meeting the expectations they were raised to expect. They’re not on the top of the pyramid in the way their gender or “race” had promised them. And for some reason, they’re not looking up to see who is choking off them money supply. Even the best politicians we have running for president, save one, are masking who is responsible for what is happening to our economic prospects. Instead, there is a lot of information out there that blames poor people or black people or women or atheists or gay people. And we have seen from Ferguson and McKinney and from Baltimore and Cleveland, that if you go after the people who the influencers with big microphones say are drinking your milkshake, you can get away with murder.

Maybe if you start a race war or a war against the government, you can finally take care of the problem once and for all.

By the way, you will have noticed that up to this point, I haven’t said anything about Obama. That’s for a couple of reasons. First, this problem started before Obama even thought about running for anything. Second, it’s not like Obama has spent his years in office as a champion for African-Americans. He’s a company man who reacts to events that happen to the African American community. I’m hoping that the left is finally seeing the difference. What he is to the right wing is simply a convenient lightening rod to channel their anger and outrage.

I’ve said before on this blog that the Islamic terrorists don’t frighten me nearly as much as the domestic variety. That’s because the number of Muslims in the US is pretty tiny and the ones I know have better things to do with their time than plan terrorist events, Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev notwithstanding. In fact, the Tsarnaevs prove my point. Their actions, as grievous as they were, were self-limiting. There was no network, they were killed or captured quickly and there was nowhere for them to hide, really. An Islamic terrorist in the US has to be very careful.There are a lot more of us than there are of them.

But a domestic terrorist whose motives are that African Americans, women, gay people or liberals are getting in the way of Jesus, baseball and apple pie?

They are EVERYWHERE. They can blow up abortion clinics and hide in the mountains for years and people will cover for them.I was surprised by the reaction of some of Roof’s neighbors to hearing about what he did. It wasn’t horror and condemnation. It was more like, why did he have to go all the way to Charleston? Why indeed.

It’s a lot harder to racially profile a domestic terrorist. They look like your neighbors or conservative brother in law and who is going to think they’re going to do something crazy? Dylann Roof’s roommates didn’t take him seriously. So what if he was into confederate flags?

5.) And they have guns. There are a lot of angry people that have guns.

This is the summary of my hypothesis. There is a flood of information from people who wish to unduly influence a population. The purpose of this influence appears to be to use the election cycle to impose a plutocracy. The flood of information that money can buy is being used to enrage ordinary people against people who may use the safety net. The unduly influenced vote for candidates who undermine the safety net. The people who have the money to buy the information empire do not possess the capacity for empathy. They appear to be malignant narcissists. That there may be collateral damage from pushing emotional outrage and thought control techniques on an unsuspecting public does not seem to bother these malignant narcissists a whit. In fact, it works in their favor that there is an anachronistic, ill-defined second amendment ensuring that the people they are angering have almost unlimited access to guns.

That makes the outrage self-reinforcing. If I’m outraged and I have a gun, I don’t have to put up with any government pushing crap on me. I am defiant. I can fly the confederate flag above my statehouse. What are you going to do about it?

If I didn’t know better, I would say that the plutocratic malignant narcissists who are funding the flood of enraging information are actively encouraging a sort of domestic terrorism. Because the other half of the American public is starting to come to the realization that there are a lot of irrationally angry people out there with guns and they are now starting to turn on the people who are getting in their way.

It is getting to be very dangerous to be an American who is African American, gay, female or poor.

6.) It’s now clear that the combination of inflammatory rhetoric with access to guns is a dangerous combination to the rest of us. There are a couple of ways to address this problem. One is gun control. But as many people have pointed out, in the current political environment, that’s going nowhere.

The other thing that can be done is to stop with the inflammatory rhetoric. That doesn’t mean censorship. It’s just that the Rush’s and Glenns and Fox News’s could voluntarily choose to broadcast in a way that is less unethical and uses fewer BITE model techniques.

The fact that neither option is under consideration by the predominately Republican legislatures around the country and that the media has not offered to stop with the rhetoric demonstrates that the plutocrats and the mob that are disguising themselves as a party are comfortable with the current state of fear, intimidation and tension. Liberals might just want to think twice about disagreeing with ignorant bigots or bible thumping shamebots or economic hyper-conservatives on their soapboxes at picnics. Too bad for you if you weren’t born into a family with at least one other free thinker where you can eat your potato salad in peace. Shut up or you will pay in ostracism or maybe a target on the back of your head someday.

It is the way it is because the menace of domestic terrorism works for the plutocrats and the party they control. It serves a useful purpose. Undue influence works fantastically well when there aren’t any dissenters speaking up. When it no longer serves a useful purpose, they will stop funding it.

If there is any hope of changing it, presidential candidates and other people with temporary access to big microphones will need to learn how to reveal what is going on to their audiences in a step by step fashion through a series of “A-Ha!” moments. This is the task that is appointed to them and if they do not find a way, no one will.

If they can’t do it, they will go the way of the other feckless politicians with presumably good intentions who lost elections in other countries to be replaced with the red meat, heartless, useful lackeys to the fabulously rich and soulless. Say hello to President Scott Walker.

Ok, I’m done now.

Wow, the NYTimes really hates Hillary. What’s up with that?

Yesterday, Hillary’s kick-off speech got a short mention down the side of the page. I can’t recall if it was the main event at all yesterday on the front page. Now it’s buried in the Politics section. No comments section.


C’mon, guys, if it’s *too* obvious it’s not effective.

Anyone got any ideas on why the paper of record hates Hillary with such a white hot passion? Does it have anything to do with Punch or Pinch or whatever the hell his name is and his romantic idea that political introvert Caroline Kennedy would make a swell senator a few years ago? 

Is it because the vast majority of predators on Wall Street know that she’s less tractable than Obama?

Is it because the American Wolf  Hall still likes to think that their leaders are born into the right families?

What gives?  Anyone want to dish on this? I’m genuinely curious. It’s amusing in an embarrassing way for the NYTimes. Not the kind of route a paper with relevance wants to go, in my humble opinion. This campaign season may be more notable for the lengths that the NYTimes will go to get her unsuccessfully than for the actual campaign itself.

Maybe we should start a weekly list of its failures.

Update: I found a bit of linky goodness from a Jeff Jarvis tweet about the NYTimes self-interested OCD coverage of other topics. This piece is from the Public Editor. So, they are aware they have a problem and that the Hillary Clinton mobbing is in a class by itself. Worldview indeed. I guess it goes with the territory when the world’s rich can buy up real-estate and park their money in Manhattan and not even live there, while the young, talented and professional try to eek out an existence in shared studios. It might be the paper of record but what it is recording doesn’t apply to everyone anymore.


Funniest tweet yesterday regarding the speech comes from Lance Mannion:

Hillary’s Speech: Sooooo close

I missed the speech when it was live but that’s ok because I read the transcript. I recommend this, by the way, because you should be evaluating your candidates in a cold, dispassionate manner. I really mean this. Even today, I read a post from Digby who said 1.) Hillary doesn’t give a speech like Obama, implying that Obama is some kinda terrific speech giver, and 2.) She was never much impressed by Obama’s speeches anyway.

What the hell does that even mean, Digby?

Well, from my own personal experience, I found Obama’s speeches to be almost unlistenable. His sentences were so full of sequential prepositional phrases that I lost track of his point part way through. But if you’re the kind of person who wrote those kinds of papers as an undergrad and got rewarded for them by some overworked and underpaid TA, I can understand why you might be overly impressed by them. Besides, after the amazing similarity of Obama’s “Just Words” speech with Deval Patrick’s “Just Words” speech and other deconstructions of Obama’s speeches, I just couldn’t take him seriously. He and his speeches were manufactured and field tested by other politicians first. I suspect Digby means the same thing but it’s still not fashionable to go against the consensus reality in the party to say this so she has to say that Hillary doesn’t give a speech like Obama does.

For this, I am eternally grateful.

In general, I think it was a good kick off speech. She is channeling Roosevelt. That’s good. I think she has her mind in the right place. She also makes reference to drug discovery and there is some indication that she’s not entirely ignorant of what has been happening to the R&D field.

I also like what she says about immigrant workers. But there is a potential tie in with something I’ll get to in a minute that I think is the major flaw in this speech. As for immigrants, there are two possible audiences she may be addressing. The first audience consists of illegal immigrants who are long time residents. It’s wrong to split up families and even worse to deprive talented young students of a future just because they were brought here as children and didn’t have any choice in their immigration status. The other group of immigrant workers are high tech workers. I’ve worked (and am working) with many of these people. Let’s face it, they are treated like “just in time” cogs in a vast machinery with little thought given to their families or futures. I do favor quotas, by the way. There are plenty of well educated people in the biotech industry that are still struggling to make ends meet after the brutal layoffs of the last 7 years. But if you have to import tech workers, give them long term green cards and don’t tie that to any particular employer. These workers are human beings, not resources.

Now, onto the major flaw.

The highlight of the speech was supposed to be about growing the middle class and helping the poor with opportunity. Hillary tells the story of a single mother who was attending classes and working and asking her why this process has to be so hard?  And while I liked the direction of her “Four Fights”, they aren’t going to go far enough. What is the point of fighting to make something that is one zillion times hard only half a zillion times hard?

Hillary talked about incentives to make businesses concentrate on long term investments. That’s going to mean taking on the 401K elephant in the room. We can’t have the entire nation watching their quarterly statements for a boom cycle based on the layoffs of their friends and neighbors. What is she planning to do about that?

It’s also great that she talked about giving people sick days. If you are a temp on contract, like I am, you don’t really get sick days or at least nothing like the reasonable time off policies that I had for 23 years.

But it was these two items that caught my eye and made me wonder. Here’s the first one:

“I will give new incentives to companies that give their employees a fair share of the profits their hard work earns.”

I don’t like this. It smells too much like “profit sharing”. And some of you may be asking, what’s wrong with that, RD? Why are you harshing my mellow, fergawdssakes?? I’ll tell you why. I have seen the way one of America’s biggest companies does profit sharing. Their very poorly paid employees get up at 5:00am twice a year to head on down to their workplace to attend an employee profit sharing meeting where they are made to listen to “pep rally” speeches by management about how “everything is awesome!” and play silly games for door prizes. Then, for giving up the one day of the week when they can sleep in, they are given measly “profit sharing” checks averaging less than $50.00. Ta-Da! Isn’t that nice??

No, it is not. It is not nice if the incentives are still going to the management at the top and what the ordinary worker gets is humiliation and just enough money to cover the gas to work and back for the week. But that’s just part of what’s annoying about profit sharing that I’ll get to in a moment.

The other item that caught my eye was this:

“And today’s families face new and unique pressures. Parents need more support and flexibility to do their job at work and at home.

I believe you should have the right to earn paid sick days.

I believe you should receive your work schedule with enough notice to arrange childcare or take college courses to get ahead.”

Ok, let’s just cut to the point here. The thing that I really needed to see her mention in this speech which didn’t come out of it was:

“If we are going to grow the middle class, then working people need income stability. That’s right, no more part time, half time, under time, everything but full time, contract only for a brief period of time working conditions. We need the vast majority of working people to have regular full time jobs without constant churn, impending unemployment and income instability. Because otherwise, people will not have confidence in their future and won’t be able to invest or buy things like homes or college educations.”

That is what I wanted to hear and that is not what I am hearing.

The absence was very noticeable.

Cue Bernie Sanders to step up to fill this void. Elizabeth Warren also understands this.

A real champion is going to go there. A real champion has to be able to look these donors in the face and say, “You need to fix this problem with income instability because these are people you are dealing with, not resources. Your economy depends on their economy. No, I am not kidding and profit sharing is not income stability. Nice try. Do I looks stupid to you?”

That’s what Roosevelt did. I mean Franklin. He put a steady stream of money in families’ pockets by stabilizing their incomes. Yes, part of this was through infrastructure jobs and private-public partnerships and I am all in favor. But if you do not have the income stability piece in place, it isn’t going to kick start the middle class enough.

As Atrios is always saying, “give people money”. Actually, you don’t even have to do that. Most people don’t want to sit around collecting unemployment and god knows, most companies are understaffed now, running the remaining staff into the ground. What they need is a stiff kick in their asses to stop hoarding cash and making poor investment and M&A decisions, and more incentives to hire people full time.

Maybe I’m too close to this issue. No, I don’t think so. It’s happening to everyone and making the entire workforce twitchy. Plus, with the constant employment churn, people are either taking their experience with them (a lament I recently heard from a manager about his contractors) or not getting enough experience at all. It undermines everything else. Flexibility means different things depending on whether you are an employer or employee.

So, that’s where I am with this speech. I am waiting to see the policies.

Recently, someone referred to my support of Hillary as dogmatic. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do dogma of any kind. I would have called my support loyal. And I still support Hillary. She is the best candidate we have for many, many reasons. Bernie is a close second for me because he reminds me of what Democrats used to stand for.

And I don’t mind that she has friends in high places or that she knows people in the finance industry or Silicon Valley. I don’t see any evidence that she is taking orders from those people- yet. But she needs to really understand what is at stake here and that means feeling not what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck but to be constantly worrying about what is going to happen when the paychecks stop and having to sell yourself all of the time on the job market. When searching for a job becomes a full time job, even when you’re employed, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed because it is a serious impediment to the growth of the middle class.

You can use that line, Hillary. It will be a big hit at campaign rallies. You’re welcome.

Citizens United, Undue Influence, The BITE Model

This has been a surprisingly difficult post to write. I attribute this partially to what I am doing at work, which consists of speed learning. Not that I’m complaining (as long as my contract keeps getting renewed) but my mind has been busy retraining some circuitry and that means some other stuff has to join the queue.

The other reason it has been difficult is because I can’t believe no one has covered this territory before. If could be that others’ have but I don’t have the time right now to put in a lot of research as to how much it has been fleshed out. I know that some Twitter people have been busily picking up on the language and words used to describe the candidates. It’s good to see they’re being proactive but it’s probably not enough. So, I’ve had a difficult time figuring out how to jump into this topic.

And then there is the left blogosphere that seems to be dragging itself into the Hillary Clinton camp somewhat reluctantly. Sometimes, I see the briefest flashes of “snapping” out of their eight year self-imposed trance but I can’t tell if this is due to genuine insight or whether there are marching orders from party leadership or a little bit of both. Having read David Brock’s book Blinded by the Right, it’s my guess that the Media Matters people and affiliated blogs are more aware, to one degree or another, of the concept of undue influence, regardless of how much smoke got in their eyes in 2008. I can read between the lines in some blog posts. There is groupthink to some degree but there is also an underlying independence of thought that I think needs to be encouraged. In any case, there are some signs that the snapping might be real because connections have been made.

So, why am I grouping “Citizens United”, “Undue Influence” and “The BITE Model”? Let me tell you a little story about a conversation I recently had with a relative. I really like this person. He’s a senior but he’s interesting, smart and a little bit weird. But I can also tell where he gets his news. So, we were talking about health care and I mentioned that I don’t really have insurance. Oh, I have something that barely meets the requirements of the ACA but it’s not really insurance. And he says indignantly, “Why don’t we have insurance like they have in England where everyone is covered?!! That would be so much better than Obamacare.”

This was interesting to me because that sentiment should set off alarm bells in the right wing media empire. That is definitely NOT what they want their voter base to be thinking about. Because, what would happen if there was a politician who would somehow figure out a way to show these voters that getting what they want is not an impossibility after all?

I pointed out to my relative that in the US, we have several kinds of alternate health care models to choose from that match what he wants. Medicare and Tricare popped immediately to mind. He thought it would be great if we could all have Medicare but politically, it could never get passed. (BTW, I’m not advocating any particular model without cost controls on hospitals and providers. That’s probably the real impediment.) So, I pointed out to him that we would probably not get a real affordable health care system as long as Republicans were in charge.

His immediate response was: “All politicians are alike. It doesn’t matter what party they belong to.”

That, my friends, is a thought stopping idea and it was planted there by someone who has undue influence on a whole bunch of voters. The reason why I know this is that it was so quick. He may have a point in that Democrats hide behind Republicans in order to not offend their donors but I don’t think his thought process on the political reality was that well developed. I suspect he’s been trained to respond to the trigger about Republicans. Because you can bring up any subject and the minute you say “Republicans don’t like the idea you like”, the “All politicians and parties are the same” sentence flies out of their mouths without thinking. Republicans are going to be able to use that trigger in the upcoming election cycle. Anybody else is going to have to think of a way to get around it. And that’s going to be a problem because Citizens United has made it much easier for people with money to buy the means to apply undue influence.

“Duh”, you say, “Tell me something I didn’t know”. Ok, here’s where the connections are not being made: that money is being very effectively used to buy undue influence in a way you might not have considered before.

You may be wondering what I mean by undue influence. Undue influence originates from the law and since I am not a lawyer, I’m not going to discuss what that means exactly. The easiest way to understand it is to think about how elderly, possibly infirm people might be manipulated by their caretakers to sign over their estates. But the term is now being applied to mind control and can refer to any person or group, religion, political party that has the ability to influence others. Check out this video on Undue Influence 101 from Steve Hassan’s site Freedom of Mind to get a better understanding of what undue influence is.

What the Citizens United ruling did was allow a flood of money to infiltrate media and PACs. If you have the money, you now control the microphone. And if you control the microphone, your information is going to be able to influence the thoughts and emotions of your target audience. And once you are able to control their thoughts and emotions, you can control their behavior. There are many methods of carrying information. The obvious ones are TV, radio and newspapers. These are the primary sources of information for seniors. But more of them are now using Facebook (God knows why, I hate that thing). The more ways that money can control the means of disseminating information, the more thoughts and emotions can be influenced, the more behavior can be controlled. And now, the right wing controls almost all of the relevant information resources.

This is what is involved in the BITE model shown below:

Again, you may be saying to yourself that this is not new information. You already saw the correlation years ago or you’re starting to really get annoyed by it now because you’re finally starting to see what the New York Times has been up to with regard to covering presidential candidates.

But you would be missing the big picture. The big picture is that this is the way cults indoctrinate their devotees. These people do not know that they’ve been indoctrinated. They don’t know that they’ve had thought stopping ideas implanted in them. They don’t know that their fears of death, hell, abandonment, shame or ostracism have been tinkered with. They don’t know that the outrage over the so-called “War on Christmas” serves a very useful purpose. They don’t know that David Brooks is a master at writing posts that enforce “learned helplessness”. They are totally oblivious to it. They’re walking around like a bunch of Moonies spewing crap about “parasites” and “slackers” and “government is bad” when deep down inside, there is a conscience that objects to injustice but keeps getting strangled by thought stoppers.

This is what our Supreme Court majority allowed when they ruled on Citizens United. These are five smart men (interesting how they are all men). It is incomprehensible to me that they didn’t know what they were doing when they made this ruling. I’m sure they knew EXACTLY what was going on, especially John Roberts. What they did was allow the cult-like indoctrination of an entire country by people who have a lot of money and can buy more and more microphones, infiltrating every bit of information that comes though every media source and the “friends” you accept on Facebook .

That’s my first attempt at showing why we can’t have nice things. I’m not letting Democrats off the hook on this. What happened in 2008 was unconscionable. I’m delighted to see some bloggers in consternation about how they are supposed to defend Hillary Clinton when they’re up against this incredible media resistance and how irritating it is that all these young Ivy League graduates are jumping to the head of the line in major media publications to plant nasty trigger words about Hillary in the minds of their readers. Ha! Just wait until those same reporters start writing about how all those bloggers have tired interfaces or are catering to their older, elite demographic or something to that effect. Suddenly, their pretty little posts will lose their freshness and relevance. It’s going to happen. You heard it here first. It won’t matter how intelligent or pithy you are.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

There’s a tsunami of money headed your way.


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