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Happy Fourth of July and other stuff

dave-dicello_750There are no bad views in Pittsburgh on the Fourth of July. Some are better than others but you really can’t miss a good fireworks display. Best Spots are probably the Dravosburg and West Mifflin area,  Grandview, and a couple streets down from me. And there’s always Kennywood.

Happy Fourth!

Other stuff:

I’ve read in different places that Barack Obama may decide to become a venture capitalist after he leaves the White House, feeding on the corpses of geeks who ran out of early discovery money before they could develop their drugs into blockbusters.

Check out my post from 2011 on Their Plans for Us to get a better sense of what I’m talking about. And yes, the ACS representative really did say that those of us who were unemployed should borrow from “friends, family and fools” in order to work our asses off in our own start up for years before some venture capitalist came along to bail us out.

I’m reminded of the altruism, fairness study of monkeys who don’t think the game is fair if they get less than 30% of the fruit. But it’s OK if vulture capitalists cash in big on the backs of hard working researchers who should be grateful they get 1% back on their blockbuster patents they are forced to sell.

Well, he’ll be trying to fund cancer and orphan disease biological treatments and who can argue with that? If you have cancer or some metabolic disease, this is pretty sweet. But as I have said before, this kind of research has two major characteristics: 1.) It’s a business model that really does feed on the weak. A person with a life threatening disease will not complain about side effects, isn’t likely to sue you if you extend their lives and will pay whatever it takes to get better. Biologicals don’t have the same patent hurdles as many small molecule drugs and for cancer and life threatening orphan diseases they are “fast tracked”. In other words, the FDA will look the other way on many safety profiles. The potential profits are enormous. 2.) Other diseases will be deprioritized. Got heart disease, schizophrenia, or a life threatening bacterial infection? Too f&*(ing bad. Those small molecule therapies don’t get fast tracked, are subject to a lot of patients suing over side effects, are too difficult and expensive to research because of the blood-brain barrier or aren’t taken for long enough periods of time for the dough to roll in.

That’s the harsh reality. Vulture capitalism in new biological therapies is all about maximizing shareholder value while minimizing research at the cost of innovation in other areas. It puts researchers at risk because unless they are early geniuses or incredibly lucky, they will be job hopping from one shaky startup to another and it deprives harder science of the long term funding it needs to make progress.

But don’t take my word for it, listen to Chris Viehbacher, former CEO of a large pharmaceutical who is now into venture capitalism:

In Viehbacher’s view, Big Pharma is still trying to act in the way the old movie studios once operated in Hollywood, with everyone from the stars to writers and stunt men all roped into one big group. Today, he says, movie studios move from project to project, and virtually everyone is a freelancer. In biopharma, he adds, value is found in specializing, and “fixed costs are your enemy.”

Fixed costs are other words for “people who have spent most of their adult lives in a lab getting PhDs in very hard subjects”. These people require life sustaining things like food, water, shelter and money to pay off their student loans. Those things are baaaaad. They’re your enemy.Well, we’ll have none of that. But thanks to Chris Viehbacher, we have the entire working person’s grievance summed up in one paragraph.

By the way, Chris, specializing is important but even specialists have to work in project teams to do real discovery research. A star specialist is only effective if he or she can work in a team of people who put away their egos to focus on their goals. Pharma research has very, very few Mark Zuckerbergs (thank God). In fact, Mark Zuckerberg types who study molecular biology are just as likely to go work on Wall Street as a start up lab because they know where the money is when they have to make a living, didja ever think about that, Chris? But I digress.

and Chris also said…

“It is cheaper. But research and development is either a huge waste of money or too, too valuable. It’s not really anything in between. You don’t really do things because it’s cheaper. The reality is the best people who have great ideas in science don’t want to work for a big company. They want to create their own company. So, in other words, if you want to work with the best people, you’re going to have go outside your own company and work with those people … And, you want to work with them, why do they want to work with you? The reality over the last 10 years is, (a small biotech) wouldn’t get caught dead working with one of these big cumbersome pharma companies. Once you have a funding gap, suddenly there’s a much greater willingness of earlier-stage companies to work with Big Pharma. We’re looking earlier and people who are early need help.

It would take many posts to unpack what Chris is really saying in this paragraph. Let’s just say that to those of us who used to do this kind of research, this is transparent BS pitched to future investors and says more about the only thing that Chris and his droogs feel is a measure of success and value in life. This is from a man who likely never stepped foot in the labs he ran. Discovery sometimes takes a long time, patience and continuity. That’s how we do science. Everything else is either a get-rich-quick scheme or low hanging fruit built on the backs of others- who worked in those big corporate labs for years and years doing the heavy lifting in research.

But it’s the image of Viehbacher and his investors waiting around for early stage companies to have a funding gap, where presumably they can’t pay their top stars anymore, that really fuels my contempt for these predators. “Nice lead compound you got there. Be a shame if something *happened* to it.” This is venturing into Martin Shkreli territory.

And Barack Obama wants to be one of them?

Some presidents build libraries, some presidents build multinational charitable foundations, some presidents look for FDA loopholes, researchers on the edge of bankruptcy and desperately sick people to make a killing in the market.

***************************************************************

Antecdotal evidence of *something*:

I walked to the bus stop the other day on the way home from work. The buses must have been piled up in traffic upstream because the sidewalk was crowded with about 100 people. That’s an estimate, probably a good one. I didn’t want to block the sidewalk so I stood where I could. It turns out it was in a line that was quickly forming in front of another line of people backed up against the side of a building. All of the sudden, there was a voice behind me, “Is there a good reason you stood in front of me??”. I turned around to see a tall African American man behind me. He looked casually dressed, like he just came from a Pirates game. I looked like I just came from my air conditioned office floor in a tech company with my company lanyard hanging from my neck. I just said “No” and turned away just as the bus pulled up.

It’s just the buses held up in traffic and crowded bus stops with no place to stand. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar, not a socio-political statement. Anyway, there was no way I could stand behind him because there was a f^*&ing building there and then, people standing in front of me. So, you know, we’re all in this whole bus thing together.

Then I got on the bus and stumbled on the foot of a white woman who was taking up way too much space (she wasn’t obese) on the side bench seating including sticking her legs out into the aisle. “Excuse me”, I muttered as I quickly took my seat down the aisle and across from her. She too was a casually dressed, graying blonde who looked her age. She gave me the stink eye for several blocks before she got off in mid town.

WTF?? I suddenly felt like the target for Trump supporters AND anti-Bernie people who wanted to pick a fight.

This is going to be an ugly summer.

I ran into a bunch of POC tweeters yesterday who just assumed I was a Bernie supporter because I didn’t think the turn to the left in the Democratic platform was a slap to Obama. The internet is a rough place and I’m used to it, but the level of anger and assumptions, including that I had deliberately used a “sepia toned” photo of myself for some nefarious purpose was hillariously over the top.

Look, POC, calm your g&* damned tits for crying out loud. It was eight years ago that Donna Brazile and Paul Begala fought it out on national TV over the Democratic party ditching its “old coalition” for “eggheads and African Americans”. (They both missed the point, IMHO) This year, thanks to an angry electorate and a definite shift in voter sentiment against getting the shitty end of the economic stick in the past eight years with no bankers going to jail and years of absolutely the worst job market since the Great Depression, the Democratic party seems to slowly be turning back to its roots and in the direction of the left.

Those of you who *think* this turn is a slap to Obama should seriously ask yourselves why the party struggling to embrace its identity with working people and more liberal values looks like it is disrespecting Obama.

I’m not saying your perception is wrong. I’m saying the reason is not what you think it is.

I’ll leave it at that. You’re smart enough to figure it out. It’s got nothing to do with racism.

 

 

 

Phase out the 401K

401k-624x416There is a post in the NY Times today about the way companies that layoff their workers and replace them with H1B visa holders also require those workers to keep their mouths shut about what is going on.

The non-disparagement clauses might be partially responsible for the conventional wisdom that we need more STEM graduates when clearly we don’t. Long time readers of this blog know that I and my colleagues were laid off in NJ when our site closed. In fact, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, the Northeast Corridor, laid off hundreds of thousands of invaluable researchers and replaced them with… nothing. In some cases, brand new research facilities, some built for very specific studies that cost millions of dollars to build, were mothballed or even destroyed.

That’s right, it made more sense to the bottom line to destroy valuable lab space than keep the facilities with the upkeep, maintenance and taxes on the books. The people? What about them? It’s interesting to me that the braintrusts who decided to lay off all those scientists and planned to rent out the buildings to new start ups had a hard time finding renters. Who did they think they were going to rent to? The same scientists who were laid off didn’t have the funds for the start ups that were meant to replace the large corporate labs. They were too stressed trying to find any work in any state while keeping their families in the expensive northeast and mortgaged houses out of foreclosure. So, the “rent the labspace to the old labrats” scheme turned out to be a bust and now the buildings have to come down.

There are a couple of states that benefitted from the destruction of the research industry. Those would be Massachusetts and California. The business models were changed from small molecule research to biologicals. But number of jobs created is small. Only a tiny fraction of those laid off were invited to go to Cambridge. Medicinal chemistry in this country is decimated. Compounds can be made very cheaply in India. There’s still research in graduate school labs but it does not begin to make up for what has been lost.

It’s not like there’s not enough biology to research and anyone in the research industry knows that training is not the problem. These are some of the most highly trained people in the world who have to continue reading the latest papers to keep up. Soooo, that’s not it.

What could be driving the frenzy to dismantle the country’s research industry? Hmmm, what could it be, what could it be.

Well, in some companies, the decision to close the site was followed a few days later by an email to all employees from the finance department that congratulated itself on reducing costs and creating a nice quarterly profit. Sort of a “You who are about to die, we salute you!” email.

When they say it’s not about money, it’s about money.

Working Americans have been forced to participate in their own destruction through the 401K. We invest in funds that are rewarded when companies merge, consolidate and layoff. Companies are sold like baseball cards, drained of their assets and left as hollow shells of what they used to be. Research is expensive. Paying for experience is expensive. Better to ship that out if you can, hire only short term contractors, buy up companies with a promising drug lead and lay off their early research staff.

In the meantime, the portfolios will grow and now the masters of the financial universe have brought us into the game, some of us unwillingly. We are now complicit, watching the quarterly earnings reports and demanding more shareholder value. Because there are no pensions in our old age. This is how we make our money- on the backs of our fellow Americans.

And let us now turn our attention to the H1B visa holders who unfortunately have no rights here. If they lose their jobs, they can be sent back to their home countries. It doesn’t matter if they have lives, relationships or property here. Those are risky luxuries. And it doesn’t help that these people may eventually get green cards. Some green cards are so narrowly tailored so as to make getting a new job after a layoff very difficult for the bearer.

It’s all because of the vast amounts of money that used to be tied up in safe, boring but reliable pensions that are now splashing around the world like colored scrip in a global game of Life. The greed of the financiers and titans of industry is gargantuan. The analysts who work for them on Wall Street are incentivized to accumulate as much wealth as possible, with as much risk as possible in as short a time as possible. If they lose money, the government will cover it or some stupid firefighter will take the hit. It’s their fault if they didn’t go to Harvard and make the right connections.

The 401K is at the heart of everything that is wrong with the current economic system. It encourages risk taking, it incentivizes avarice, it propels the short term investment cycle, it causes the outsourcing, it destroys industries and it is now starting to affect productivity. Because when you sacrifice your talent for youth and low wages, and then force everyone to account for every billable minute, you force the workforce to reinvent the wheel and cause anxiety and distraction in the offices with endless paperwork and minute swapping.

Phase it out. Get rid of the pyramid scheme. Disincentivize short term investment and greed. If we don’t tackle the 401K, all the unions in the world won’t make a dent. There will be no need for them when we are all independent contractors in the gig economy looking over our shoulders for the next layoff and becoming more angry by the minute.

This is the legacy of the last eight years when no bankers were held responsible and no hearings were conducted to ferret out the root causes of so much risk and destruction while the companies held revolvers to the heads of their laid off staff and told them to not say a word about what was happening to them. Funny, the CEOs don’t have any problem telling the researchers what they think of them and how expendable and exploitable they are.

It’s about the money. The 401K fuels the Gig Economy. It’s the Gig Economy, Stupid that’s undermining the middle class, causing income instability, family instability and a drag on spending. Get rid of it.

Nearing the end of the worst primary season ever.

Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Holds Super Tuesday Event

Best “How Did I Get Here?” Expression goes to Chris Christie

When I say that it is the worst, I mean overall, for both Republicans and Democrats. By the way, have you noticed that very few people are challenging Hillary’s right to challenge the nomination right until the convention in 2008? That’s what happens when beautiful theories are destroyed by ugly facts. She had the votes, delegates and right to do it in 2008. Bernie? ehhhhhh, not so much. But we will find out on Tuesday.

I just hope that the Bernie supporters in California sleep on their votes on Monday night. New Jersey is a semi-closed primary where you must declare for a party in order to vote in the primary, at least that is the way it worked when I lived there. You can wait right up to the day of the election to declare. So, it’s possible that independents can be Democrats for a day to cast a vote. California had a registration cutoff back in May, if I recall correctly. If you didn’t make the cutoff, you can’t vote. But I’ve heard that many independents were motivated to register for the primary.

Republican presidential candidates pose before the start of a Fox-sponsored forum for lower polling candidates held before the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland

The Children’s Table

Why Clinton is leading by 17 points in NJ but is inching ahead in California is puzzling. Maybe some of it is due to demographics, though the number of highly educated Asian STEM workers in New Jersey has probably decreased dramatically since 2008 with the collapse of the pharmaceutical industry. Maybe it has to do with California not really being a true blue state but one where coastals are balanced by more rural independents, conservative Republicans and libertarians. Who knows?

screen-shot-2016-06-03-at-2-20-02-am-998x702

“Most Likely to Succeed”

If I were a Bernie supporter, I’d ask myself if I hate Hillary more than I hate Trump. If Hillary wins the nomination with NJ before the polls close in California, what message will be sent? That Bernie forced Clinton to hobble to the finish line? And if Bernie’s hoping to be given equal time at the convention after trailing Hillary by a significant number of delegates even after California, should he get more consideration than Hillary got at the 2008 convention? I’m guessing the guys will scream bloody murder if they get the same treatment that Hillary got in 2008. Let’s see whose side the party comes down on.

bernie-sanders-crop_custom-f7d9d8f286f09f04cf96c2f9e37fe57b34805d34-s800-c85

Bernie’s Filibuster- His Finest Hour(s)

Anyway, I’m glad it’s almost over. I’ve had enough of the penis wagging and the Bernie bros being nuisances. I really like Bernie and I stand with him on the issues but he’s let his supporters get into his head and may have damaged his legacy. His campaign has really pissed me off lately. I just want it to end before I lose all respect for him. Let’s get this over with already.

***************************************************

On another note, I was listening to Reliable Sources on CNN and one journalist was going off on the Obama administration for clamping down on the media and smothering whistleblowers and not letting them get anything to report on. I think it is now dawning on them that Hillary might use the same evasive tactics to keep the press guessing.

This is a good and a bad thing. The good thing is that we were not plagued during the last 8 years with a string of stupid, time-wasting congressional hearings and special prosecutors rifling through Michelle’s underwear drawer. They zipped it, zipped it good. There was nothing to grab onto. The Obama years were profoundly boring.

On the bad side, we have no idea how many times Jamie Dimon visited the White House. I’d like to know that kind of information, wouldn’t you? Who did Obama meet with on the financial bailout, the stimulus package and the affordable care act? What connections did Michelle bring with her to the White House where the hospital industry is concerned? How much or little did Obama expand the NSA creeping into our lives during his tenure? There’s lots of little things that we don’t know anything about and probably won’t until he leaves office and officials start spilling the beans.

The thing is, the clamp down is likely to continue in a Clinton administration. She is already notoriously reticent about speaking to the press gaggle that follows her campaign. I completely understand this. If all they are looking for is a confession of sins so they can force her to do a Cersei Lannister Walk of Shame on a regular basis, as has been their habit for the last 25 years, then why should she participate in her own self-destruction? A presumptive nominee and president has an obligation to her party to maintain a certain degree of dignity. If the media is always trying to undermine that, they shouldn’t be surprised if she cuts them out. She has to do it. They have brought it on themselves.

Going forward, she’s going to learn from her husband’s terms to button things up just to be able to do her job on a day to day basis without unnecessary distractions. But that means that we aren’t going to be aware of when things go off the tracks too. This level of vigilance will need to be maintained until the end of her term.

Rebecca Traister wrote that Hillary has to learn to get over her distrust of the media, even if this distrust is merited.I’m not so sure I see it that way. It used to be the media had an obligation to keep the public informed but these days, it seems like it’s more motivated by keeping the shareholders happy. If Clinton clamps down on journalists’ access because of their past behavior, as I expect she will, then what will they have to report? Well, I guess they could still create mountains out of molehills and make shit up but I think the public is getting really tired of that, especially when all the investigations result in big nothingburgers. How is that going to please the shareholders?

My prediction is that she’ll continue the Obama clamp down and they’ll be outraged by it. The question is, will they learn anything?? Sometimes, I get the impression that they took an oath years ago to never let Hillary become president or they will die trying to prevent it. It’s like some kind of Grover Norquist Club for Growth vow that has long outlived its usefulness. It’s just spite for the sake of spite, journalist “rebels” without a cause. And they really mean it. They just aren’t so clear about why anymore. None of it makes any damn sense. Unless there’s something radical about Clinton that they know that we don’t.

I guess we are all about to find out.

The Things of May

beltane-fire-fest

The May Queen banishes the spirits of winter and darkness at the Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh

The White House Correspondent’s Dinner was last night. I haven’t watched it since Stephen Colbert did a masterful job of making the media stars look like the self-absorbed, overpaid, underwhelming, lazy “journalists” they are.

Obama was there and couldn’t help but take a swipe at Hillary– for not knowing how to use Facebook.

President Obama poked fun at Hillary Clinton’s lack of appeal among young people Saturday night, joking at the annual White House press corps dinner that Mrs. Clinton was like an aging relative who cannot figure out how to use Facebook.

“Did you get my poke? Is it on my wall?” he said, imagining Mrs. Clinton trying to use the popular social media site. “I’m not sure I’m using this right. Love, Aunt Hillary.”

Ok, stop right there. I wasn’t at this dinner so I’m not sure of the context that this comment was made. But I have something to say about Facebook.

I hate Facebook. I’m not the only person who feels this way. And I don’t want to toot my own horn here but throughout my career, I’ve learned many different applications. I even have an application scale of my own making. The hardest one I ever learned was called HKL and I didn’t even really learn it all that well because I ran out of time before we were laid off. New applications do not intimidate me. I look forward to bending them to my will.

Except for Facebook.I don’t like the interface. It’s confusing. I can post stuff on my wall and get around but it doesn’t feel natural to me and probably never will. Perhaps I’m overthinking it. There’s got to be more to it than this stupid wall and how do you see everything in order??

But guess what? I can survive without Facebook. In fact, there is a whole side of the internet that Facebook devotees will not discover unless they leave Facebook and learn to use other apps and browsers on their tablets.

I’ll go even further. You can use Facebook in several different ways. You can use it as a social media tool. It’s a way to post all those pics you took at the last party you went to or the last time you saw all your friends from high school. Or you can use Facebook as your single entry and exit point into the internet. This is how some elderly people I know use it. Unlike what Obama is suggesting, older people get around Facebook fine. They don’t have an issue with it. It’s like the AOL of the 21st century. When everyone else moves on to SnapChat and Periscope, all your older relatives will still be on Facebook.

So, I don’t know where Obama was going with this dig at Hillary and Facebook. But if she were a normal person her age, she would be a master of Facebook. Fortunately, she is not a normal person her age and she uses everything. Or her campaign does.

Will anyone be waiting for updates to Obama’s Facebook page when he leaves office? Um, probably not as many as might have obsessively checked in 2008. Facebook is old. It’s still a classic but the rest of the world has moved on. You have to wonder if Obama knew that when he made that stupid joke.

How many “journalists” thought it was funny? Did anyone watch it last night? I’m curious to know how many younger correspondents were rolling their eyes in embarrassment while people like Chris Matthews was guffawing and chugging his chard.

Anyway, I’m picking up signals here and there that Obama and Hillary have had a strained relationship and are only bound by party obligations. So, I guess it’s no surprise that he would take a few gratuitous digs at her.

I’ll never understand what some people saw in him. Never, never, never.

*********************************************************************

Lance Mannion has a post about why Bernie people and Hillary people see history differently and how this has led some Democrats to put the blame for everything on Hillary’s shoulders. Worth a read. Here’s a sample:

At any rate, it is in Bernie’s interest that Hillary be “remembered” as not just having been wrong but bad. Bad as in a bad person. Evil, in fact.

For many of the Bernie supporters of my online acquaintance, it’s not enough for Clinton to be evil herself. She has to be Evil incarnate, the root of all evil and cause of all that’s wrong with the country and all that electing Bernie would fix. The way they go at it in their tweets and posts it’s as if she was at least co-president through Bill’s two terms, that George W. Bush was president for just long enough to lie us into the war in Iraq, at Hillary’s urging, after which she took over, guiding and prolonging the war from her seat in the Senate, where she did nothing else—Lilly Ledbetter? Never heard of her.—until Barack Obama became president, when once again she assumed the role of co-president, making all his foreign and military policy decisions until she left the State Department to prepare for her coronation as Queen-President in her own right.

But even among the more sensible, reasonable, and less doctrinaire, Bernie’s purity is generally proven by Hillary’s corruption and for that work history must be “remembered” accordingly.  And the ones taking the lead in the misremembering are middle-aged men—almost all the Bernie people I know online are Bernie guys and middle-aged Bernie guys at that—old enough to have been politically aware adults during the years of Bill’s presidency and Hillary’s time in the Senate but who apparently didn’t take notes and haven’t bothered to do the homework needed to make up for it.

Middle aged male Democrats, what’s up with them?? Srsly, I don’t get it.

I agree with him but I think there is another component to this. That is, Hillary takes the place of the sacrificial scapegoat. For some reason, some of it social pressure, these Democrats can not blame the party, Obama, themselves or Republicans for what has happened in the country in the last 20 years. It’s easy to make Hillary the convenient target because the media has beaten up on her continuously since she joined the spotlight and also because she actually has a record to criticize, a point that Lance touched on as well.

But something seems very primal here. There’s an element of ritual about hanging everything bad on this one woman. The Scapegoat Mechanism really is a thing, according to philosophers such as Rene Girard, who describes it like this:

In Girard’s view, it is humankind, not God, who has need for various forms of atoning violence. Humans are driven by desire for that which another has or wants (mimetic desire). This causes a triangulation of desire and results in conflict between the desiring parties. This mimetic contagion increases to a point where society is at risk; it is at this point that the scapegoat mechanism[9] is triggered. This is the point where one person is singled out as the cause of the trouble and is expelled or killed by the group. This person is the scapegoat. Social order is restored as people are contented that they have solved the cause of their problems by removing the scapegoated individual, and the cycle begins again. The keyword here is “content”. Scapegoating serves as a psychological relief for a group of people.

I can think of a lot of things that are desired here. For example, I think a lot of men can not wrap their heads around the idea that we might have a female president when they can think of a lot of “more deserving” men who could do the job. Do “desire” and “deserving” have a common cognate?

The idea that we can’t even contemplate one single woman before we have exhausted all of the other male possibilities who might be a smidgeon better is both funny and horrifying. After all, we have had over 40 presidents so far and all of them have been men. That means that half of them have been below average. (Average, not mean) Isn’t there any curiosity about where a woman would fit on the gaussian distribution graph?

I’m beginning to think that nothing short of a Nobel Prize would be enough to make Hillary comparable to a man who is running. Therefore, there must be something seriously wrong with her. She wants something that others want more and can’t get. She did her homework, got the experience, made all the right friends. Why is she so damned persistent? And how much bad stuff can we hang on her before we send her away again? Again! We thought we got rid of her in 2008 but she’s back. Well, we can’t have that…

(One final note: In this respect, Katiebird and I disagree. I don’t blame Hillary for getting a private email server. I remember in the early days of the Patriot Act when a system administrator working for the Republicans in the Senate broke into the Democrats’ server and made copies of strategic and other documents for his owners. He wasn’t punished or anything and if I recall correctly, the Democrats were blamed for not tightening up security of their server. It’s sort of the same argument that rapists make about their victims. If she hadn’t been wearing a short skirt, none of this would have happened. Nevermind that Nixon had to resign over doing something similar but lower tech before the days of personal computers and the internet.

So, if you are a Secretary of State and you just went through a grueling primary campaign and have 20 years of media and Republican nut cases trying to track down every “LOL!” you’ve ever texted to contort and parade before a gullible public, wouldn’t you want to make sure that nothing you wrote would be hacked into?

If the Republicans can have their own servers that are off limits to the public but through which they conduct public business (and then just conveniently erase when the heat is on), it’s unreasonable for someone who has had a history of bad relations with the other party, her own party and the media to be required more than any other person in government to leave everything open. Better to lock it all down as securely as possible. The State Department servers might not have been (and turns out the unclassified email servers weren’t) secure enough.

It’s up to the accusers to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that something nefarious was going on with her personal email server, which didn’t contain any classified emails at the time she sent them, and that some hard and fast rule was violated that Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Dick Cheney and Barack Obama haven’t also violated. When you can absolutely prove that, then you can make your case and seek indictments. Otherwise, it seems like a lot of cherry picking. Of only Hillary. The Scapegoat.

I guess you could say that it was dumb for her to do it because, as the designated Scapegoat, she should have known she was going to have to bear the blame of everyone else who did it. (“We didn’t say you were at fault, we said we were going to blame you”) It was ok when everyone else did it but it’s IMMORAL and ILLEGAL when Hillary does it. So, yes, that was probably dumb. But then, it would have been dumb to use a less secure system as well knowing that as the designated Scapegoat, everyone and their brother would use the flimsiest of excuses to go through each and every email on the State Department servers. On balance, is it better to ask for forgiveness or permission? Given that this was a no win situation, the more secure server may have been the most responsible, better choice.)

 

 

 

Yes, Digby, he does know something

Digby asks why The Donald seems to be doubling down on the Woman Card with respect to Hillary Clinton.

Here’s my theory: Digby and her buddies have been playing up racism, ie the Race Card, for 8 long years now. If anyone wasn’t enchanted with Obama because they preferred the more experienced candidate, they were called racists.

Same with everything else.

Didn’t like the way the bankers got off? You’re a racist

Think the administration’s response to long term unemployment was inadequate? You’re a racist.

Think Obamacare is too expensive and the deductibles require too much skin in the game while the control on costs was laughably absent? You’re a racist.

Oooo, here’s a good one:

If you are a conservative who approves of the Republicans blocking Merrick Garland’s appointment to the Supreme Court, you’re a racist who doesn’t like Obama as president. This last one went too far. The Republicans can legitmately deny that accusation because they approved Kagan and Sotomayor. The problem isn’t racism or Obama. The problem is Republicans want to retain their one seat advantage. They’d block any candidate who isn’t a strict, federalist conservative. It has nothing to do with Obama’s race. He could be red with yellow polka dots. The fact that he’s really a moderate conservative at heart is not good enough for McConnell et al. They can come up with dozens of silly and unconstitutional excuses to not approve Garland. They don’t need to be racists.

Frankly, Digby, the race card has been played wickedly well by Democrats and the media and voters are fed up with it. It has been used as a bludgeon to silence anyone who dares to criticize Obama and his policies.  I’m a liberal and I just voted for John Fetterman for Senate in PA. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not conservative or racist. But I have had to put up with 8 long years of this racism accusation shit and I’m tired of it. Obama has done a lot of things that aren’t even close to being liberal enough for me. If my head hadn’t dictated my choices, I could very easily see myself voting for Bernie. His supporters seem to be the only ones who are legitimately able to criticize Obama without being called racists.

Everyone knows he is not Jesus but we didn’t allow ourselves to apply any corrective action for eight long years.

Yeah, there are racists out there. But mostly, people are just pissed off that they can’t get heard and when they object to anything, they’re the equivalent of the KKK according to Digby and all the pro-Obama journalists (David Plotz admits they were totally in the tank for Obama).

So, here comes a legitimate, honest to god, hard working, well respected, smart, life-long public servant, who will be our nominee who is also a woman.  WE all know she’s good but she is also not Jesus.

This is Trump’s way of nipping it in the bud.

He is defanging us.

She may be historic but if you think his voters are going to let themselves get rolled again, you’re crazy.

Please, Digby, stop helping.

But Wait! There’s more!

Trump must have noticed how disgracefully Hillary was treated by her own party. Do I have to play the Bitch video again? In fact, it was Trump who said that Hillary had gotten “Schlonged”. Yeah, nice guy is our Donald.

I remember the Obots calling it very rough political hardball, as if that was supposed to make it better that women in general were treated to the dark archetypes of the male Democrats’ psyches. I can’t be the only one to notice that women in general lost some authority and respect after that primary. It was brutal.

In order to defend against Trump, Democrats and journalists are going to have to rally around Hillary. That means the Democrats who were the most vociferous assholes in 2008 are going to have to start walking it back. Not only walking it back but vigorously defending her. I won’t hold my breath.

As for journalists, they are magpies. They’re fascinated by Trump and his pink marble grotesques. And they hate Hillary. No, it’s not rational. For all we know, the feeling is mutual. They should never have gone rifling through her real estate deals, law firm billing records or cookie recipes. There’s a great deal of mutual animosity. Don’t expect them to come to her rescue. Expect them to watch this all play out like they would watch an approaching asteroid. It’s great for ratings, people will be thrilled to the very last minute, and there will be plenty to report when the Second Great Extinction happens.

Donald isn’t presidential. Not in the least. But he knows how to fight dirty and he will drag us all down into the gutter with him.

 

Northeast Corridor

It’s primary week in PA, CT, MD and RI. Holy Hemiola! It’s starting to get exciting now. Some short takes coming up:

1.) I’m starting to notice some gloating amongst the Clintonistas on Twitter towards the Bernie people. Just wanted to say that I’ve run into some really nice Bernie supporters in the past couple of days while I’ve been canvassing. They want to be heard and they need space to decide how best to make this election season count. I’d hate to see us driving them away by telling them they have nowhere else to go because that’s not true. They can always stay home in November. I doubt that Hillary will take any vote for granted because you never know what could happen in the days ahead. It’s dangerous to look too far into the future. So, if you feel like taunting a Bernie person, show some discipline and don’t.

2.) Did you see Hillary’s quick and deadly strike against Charles Koch yesterday when he said it almost might be better to vote for Hillary than whoever the Republican nominee is? Here it is:

Hillary Clinton Retweeted This Week

Not interested in endorsements from people who deny climate science and try to make it harder for people to vote.

All righty then. Things don’t necessarily go better with Koch.

I’d say that was pretty unambiguous, in case there was anyone out there stupid enough to believe she’d sell us out for Koch money.

3.) Nick Kristof wrote a tepid column yesterday about how Hillary was not dishonest… probably. (Note to self: never ask Nick Kristof for a recommendation) He also admits that the media gloms onto narratives and it can’t seem to let go of them. This has been unfair to Clinton. Then he immediately pivots into the newest narrative- she’s infuriating:

It’s true, of course, that Clinton is calculating — all politicians are, but she more than some. She has adjusted her positions on trade and the minimum wage to scrounge for votes, just as Sanders adjusted his position on guns.

Sanders’s positions seem less focus-group tested than Clinton’s, and she can be infuriatingly evasive. Partly that’s because she’s more hawkish than some Democrats, and partly that’s because she realizes she’s likely to face general election voters in November and is preserving wiggle room so she can veer back to the center then.

Does that make her scheming and unprincipled? Perhaps, but synonyms might be “pragmatic” and “electable.” That’s what presidential candidates do.

Then there’s the question of Clinton raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars from speeches to Goldman Sachs and other companies. For a person planning to run for president, this was nuts. It also created potential conflicts of interest, but there’s no sign of any quid pro quo (in a broader sense, companies write checks to buy access and influence, but if that’s corrupt then so is our entire campaign finance system). Bill Clinton, Colin Powell and other prominent figures were speaking for high fees, so she probably thought she could get away with it as well.

It goes on from there.

Nevermind that Obama took oodles of money from Wall Street in 2007-2008 and had some very cosy meetings with the bankers who proceeded to flood his campaign coffers in February 2008 right after Super Tuesday, which he did not win, by the way. But why take my word for some of this? Check out this page on Frontline about Obama’s friendship with Wall Street and how he appeared to protect them from punishment.

Can we see his transcripts??

By the way, remember the telecom immunity bill that Clinton voted against in 2008? Of course we don’t. The Big Orange Satan told us that she voted against that in order to make Obama look bad for voting for it. {{rolling eyes}} And she also snuck some Banker squirming amendments into the bailout bill.

But I digress.

What I found really amusing about Nick Kristof’s column was that John Dickerson and Emily Bazelon used almost the exact same words to describe Hillary in the latest edition of Political Gabfest. Yeah, go listen. I was stunned when I was reading Kristof’s piece because it was like I had already heard it. So, this is the new narrative. Hillary is infuriating. Oooo, let’s let her get under our skin for being a human being who does and says things that are less than perfect and for not catering specifically to us.

My question is, where were they all together when they heard these words, absorbed them, and decided to disseminate them as if on cue?

Plus, listen to Emily, John and David go on and on about how the regular Northeast Corridor Amtrak train doesn’t have the same smell as the Acela. The regular train smells like students and academics and regular people. No special reason for bringing it up, they just noticed it. I’ve taken both trains but perhaps my sense of smell is not so refined. I never noticed a difference in cleaning products aromas.

Do they have any idea how they sound??

‘gits.

4.) Finally, the sixth season of Game of Thrones began last night and it looks like the women have had enough and aren’t going to take it anymore. Don’t get on the wrong side of a Sand Snake. In one of the best scenes from last night, Brienne of Tarth rides to the rescue of Sansa Stark, who is probably starting to realize she needs to learn how to use a sword like her sister Arya. Looks like the women of Westeros are deciding they have to look after themselves. Will Sansa start acting like a Lord of the North? Time will tell. Nine more episodes to go.

 

OMG, get a grip, Michelle

Michelle Alexander is not the only one who can’t get over 2008 but for her, she got everything she could possibly hope for back then. So what the hell is her problem?

She recently wrote Why Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Deserve the Black Vote in the Nation recently where she blamed everything but bubonic plague on the Clintons. Sixteen years after Bill Clinton left office, eight years after George W. Bush, and and eight years after Barack Obama had “Feminist in Chief” and “Civil Rights Leader Extraordinaire” woven in big sparkly letters over his head, she still thinks that it was Bill who brought economic misery on African Americans.

Nevermind that some of us were not in a fog back in the 90s and actually saw what happened with Welfare Reform. Nevermind that throwing money at people is good strategy after a financial catastophe but catastrophic over a lifetime. Nevermind that the right wingers mobilize and herd a lot better than us to enact draconian policies on poor children of all colors but especially on black children.

No, in Michelle’s opinion, it’s all Bill’s fault. Oh, and Hillary’s fault. Hey? Remember CHIP, Michelle? Didn’t think so.

I can not for the life of me figure out why Michelle is so furious with the Clintons but says almost nothing about Obama.

What did he do about the economic consequences of the financial collapse in 2008? According to Paul Krugman, not nearly enough.

What did he do to protect homeowners from losing their houses? In that respect, his policies were almost worse than nothing. Homeowners might have been better off not applying for mortgage relief at all. Go ask Dave Dayen.

What did he do about long term unemployment- for anybody? I can answer that from personal experience. Nada.

Finally, what did he do to curb gun violence? Jeez, Stephen Colbert, hardly a right winger, says he acted like the Assistant Lifeguard in Chief.

What’s really annoying about Michelle’s stupid rant is that we *are* all in this together but we are participating in the dumbest, most self-destructive act of arguing over who got the smallest piece of the pie that the right wing nutcases are laughing their asses off and voting for Trump.

{{going into my best 2008 psychological manipulation tactics perfected by Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, here goes:}}

Is that what you want, Michelle? Do you want Donald Trump to be president? Donald “screw over my employees in Atlantic City every time I go bankrupt” Trump? Or maybe you would prefer Ted “little kids might have to die it’s all about personal responsibility” Cruz.

Because those are your choices, Michelle. And remember, it was Bill Clinton who nominated Lani Guinier, voting rights expert, for Attorney General, which was an inspired choice. If the Republicans win the White House, voting is going to get more and more difficult over time. Do you want to be responsible for that, Michelle? Go ahead, sit this one out. Let some confused and angry religious nutcase who is scared out of their pajamas go and vote for Trump or Cruz in your place.

Pick a Republican or Bernie or Hillary. My heart says Bernie but my head says Hillary. I’m going with my head. I have no idea what part of the anatomy you’re working with, Michelle. Maybe your gall bladder?

BTW, I just saw another youtube video from the Daily Show featuring Sr. Beyonce Correspondent Jessica Williams going off about Rudy Giuliani’s comments on Beyonce’s half time show. Weirdly, I read a similarly confounding post by Wesley Morris on the NYTimes the other day about how Beyonce was the best thing since the universe began and Lady Gaga was a has been. In fact, I think the words “has been” were actually used. What I couldn’t understand was why these two people are protesting too much.

You know, Rudy is a jerk. Who cares what he says anyway? Nevermind that both Bruno Mars and Beyonce have won my coveted Lick My Love Pump Award for writing catchy little ditties with X-rated lyrics that you can’t help but find yourself singing to as you drive your kids to school. (I’ve done that, actually. Sang harmony to Gorilla and felt dirty afterwards but I digress).

Here’s my point. If YOU like Beyonce and think she is the most amazing singer and entertainer ever, great! Have a blast, download all her songs. Dance til your ass falls off. i don’t care. I don’t even care if she has a political message. She’s entitled. I might even happen to agree with her. In fact, I *do* agree with her.

But don’t tell me I have to throw away all of the rest of my personal favorite things because someone else is telling me what is or isn’t in. I prefer to think for myself. I can take Beyonce in small doses. I don’t think she’s the greatest singer ever. She’s not bad but she’s no Lady Gaga. And her genre of music is not what I find myself tuned into, apple Beats be damned. Britney Howard? I could listen to her all damn day. She’s wildly entertaining even without a body con costume with matching artillery. Years from now, we’ll still be singing Hold On on classic rock stations while Beyonce will be a “has been”.

That’s the way of fame. Here today, gone the next. It’s only a fricking Superbowl half time show. It’s bubbly and energetic, cost millions and is gone in half an hour. I can be entertained without setting up an altar to her in my house. We all have differences of opinion and personal preferences. It’s called diversity.

So what is it about the criticism of Beyonce that is getting on the nerves? Why are so many people doing the Kanye West unnecessarily hurting Taylor Swift at an awards show thing? I mean other than Fox News and its guests always loving authoritarian people crushers and lacking any sense of empathy for what black people have to go through, this is pretty SOP by now for Fox. I have no idea but I would not be surprised to see a lot more of what seems like jittery and bitter panic in the next 10 months. We don’t know what’s coming and the last eight years have been nobody’s picnic, especially for the people who had a right to expect better.