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    • Trump Says He Would Put a 35 Percent Tax on Goods from Mexico
      That would be illegal under NAFTA, and long odds under the WTO. Certainly under TPP, if it’s in force then. Someone should straight up ask Trump if he’s willing to leave those treaties. If he is, and the Dem candidate is not, he will win the election. (I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll […]
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New Hampshire Returns Cocktail Party: OHai!

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With any luck, we won’t lose any faces tonight.

I guess I have to start taking this primary season seriously now that we’re in New Hampshire. But I’m a little rusty and I have to let Rico in to set up. Don’t let that stop you from filtering in while we get the bar ready and the band warms up.

Be right back…

Ok, I’m back.

Rico is going for something simple tonight. It’s a Cabin Fever on the Rocks. Hope you guys like maple. Last time I was in Manchester, I had ‘sugar on snow’, that is hot maple syrup poured over a bowl of snow and served with the obligatory sour pickle. It’s an acquired taste. Cabin fever is what I have these days. I am so over winter.

We’re serving a variety of appetizers tonight. On the menu are Maine Peeky Toe Crab Cakes, a variety of local cheeses, roasted garlic with tomato chutney and crostini for the vegans, and seafood chowder for those of you who haven’t had dinner yet.

We were able to get Pink Martini for the evening. A little something old and new and loungey and orchestral with the lovely China Forbes.

First update of the evening, Kasich seems to be making a surprising appearance. Wasn’t he at the Kiddy Table recently? Who knew? Ah, well, it’s still early.

You can leave your coat with Yolanda at the door. Remember to tip your wait staff generously. And if you need to argue, remember to keep it clean.

 

 

 

I’ve just gotta get a message to you…

Back in 2008, we were on Hillary’s radar. This year? Ehhh, not so much. That could be because of many different things, mostly because it’s 2016 and not 2008. Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to me like Hillary has taken a step back from really, I don’t know, campaigning. This time around, someone has convinced her that she needs to be data driven, reach out to millenials and embrace Obama like there’s no tomorrow.

And I think that’s why the race is so close in Iowa.

Note that she was similarly cautious in early 2008 as well. Remember all the crap we heard on DailyKos about Mark Penn? But then the party decided to take the money and turned on her and she got to work actually appealing to people.

I’ve made no secret about my lack of enthusiasm for Obama but I will let someone else make my case for why should reconsider her strategy of clinging to him:

 

or maybe this person can do it:

“Elizabeth Warren Indicts Shockingly Weak Enforcement” with respect to the finance industry.

Or go to any NYTimes piece on the cost of health care in America that wasn’t solved by the ACA, like Even Insured Can Face Crushing Medical Debt.  One thing you can say for the Republicans, they’re like attack dogs on something when they’re aroused. Democrats seem to think that because people with preconditions and children are covered by the ACA, the rest of the losers in the Healthcare coverage olympics should shut the F^&* up about whether we’ll lose our shirts if we are inconveniently sick. That debate is so five minutes ago. It’s settled. Democrats think it was a bloody debate that the whole country was engaged in when, really, no one we know had anything to say in the matter. But, whatever, it’s over, for them. Let’s move on.

The problem is, in the last 8 years, the country has changed so radically that it’s hard not to get angry when you’ve been left out of the decision making process.

Who died and made them spokespersons of the gods who shredded our careers, decimated our retirement savings and created two classes of workers- those who were lucky to get employer based health benefits and those who have to pay those crazy deductibles out of vastly reduced salaries? If you haven’t been there, YOU’RE the one who should STFU.

On one of my recent posts about the fate of women over 50 who can’t get work, someone called the linked NYTimes article “clickbait”? Really?? Those of us who have been through it don’t think it’s trivial.

And then there are people who bogarted the message for the last 8 years and think everything is fine now, like the gay guy who cuts my hair who was all happy that now everyone is equal, isn’t it great? No, we are not all equal. What about the reproductive rights laws that are getting crushed in state after state? Seriously, I wanted to smack him except he had my hair in his hands. The fight for equality is not over just because you have marriage equality. NOW, it is your turn, LGBT people, to do what you can for women, who, just as our culture demands every time, patiently stepped aside and put your needs first. Pay it forward.

But I digress.

Or have I?

Have I mentioned race yet? No, I think that was my point. In none of the instances above has race been mentioned. Black lives do matter. But what has been done for the african american community in the last 8 years?  They’re still getting killed for no reason, have higher unemployment, are getting pushed out of neighborhoods by progress. I could go on and on because I see it everyday as I pass through some pretty sketchy neighborhoods on my way to work.

And to add insult to injury, we now have a bunch of smug silicon valley types proposing to give us a basic income that is devoid of any meaningful work. I could write a whole different post on how many of us have lost the jobs we loved and enjoyed that we will never get back not because they weren’t useful jobs or highly skilled but because some bunch of shareholders decided they needed better returns on their quarterlies. There will be diseases that won’t be cured because of that. Can a guaranteed basic income make up for that, Paul Graham? I guess Zika will be a good test case.

Anyway, this is all to say what I predicted a couple of years ago about Hillary running for president in 2016. Why would she want to do it? The country has changed so much and people are so angry that the person who captures the voters is going to have to have to be a force for a big change. No one wants another “Lifeguard in Chief”, as Stephen Colbert says for 4 to 8 more years. Ain’t no one got time or money for that anymore.

I saw Hillary campaigning her heart out in the last days of the primary season in 2008 but a campaign is not the same as actually governing and leading with vision. Is she a transformative politician? I don’t know.

I know that Trump would be a transformative politician but not in any good way. I see nothing good coming for women if Trump is elected. If he can get away with disrespectful behavior towards women during a campaign, then it will only encourage others to crack down even more on women’s rights after the election. Who will enforce current laws against discrimination? We can barely get Obama to take notice. Trump stands for power, wealth, men and, um, that’s about it. If you’re a dude and you have a good job that’s a one-off and you’re not an illegal alien, you’ll do great under Trump.

But a guy who has turned getting out from under bankruptcy smelling like a rose while leaving his workers high and dry into performance art does not meet my criteria for good presidential material. Plus, I think he’s a narcissist. It looks like he attracts other narcissists to his campaign. That right there is a bad thing, especially when the Republican party has spent the last 8 years making government ineffective. It’s one thing to hire a selfish, self-centered, unscrupulous, macho, physically repugnant guy (the sexiest thing in his pants is his wallet) to the oval office. It’s another thing to make it impossible for any good legislation to pass through Congress while he’s in office.

Bernie Sanders is a good guy and he’s at least trying to give the rest of us a voice. But where was he in 2012? Why no action when the finance industry buddies of the Oval Office put a screeching halt on any progress to help the middle class? Sure, the FiliBernie was awesome but why didn’t he run in 2012? For that matter, why didn’t Hillary run?

But I can see where the passion is coming from on the left. Finally, someone is making a stand for income inequality. He’s saying craaaazy things. They’re just so crazy that everyone likes to hear them. They’re the kind of crazy things that appealed to voters my uncle’s age before he and his age cohort was distracted by abortion, conformity, religion and fear. Everyone should have health care because the rest of the developed world has done it. How novel is that??  Some countries have single payer, some have nationalized, some work through private insurance. ALL of the successful ones have implemented price controls. Don’t tell me that it’s not politically possible.

Most of the Europe has college education at vastly reduced prices so that students don’t start their professional lives indentured. Don’t tell me that’s not politically possible.

We used to have decent pensions in this country so that people were not forced to put their life savings on the roulette wheel of a global casino like we currently do with 401Ks. Don’t tell me that a guaranteed pension is not politically possible.

That’s what the polls are telling Hillary right now. They are telling her to NOT tell US that what we want is not politically possible.

We have had 8 years of a very weak president whose administration seems to excel at one thing- convincing pundits and political party spokespeople to glorify his Lilliputian achievements. (Please, don’t even go there.) And the voters are told over and over again that if they aren’t sufficiently appreciative that their net worth and futures are significantly diminished, they’re racists. If they want anything for themselves other than endless more decades of sacrifice while finance types continue to harvest them, they’re told that it’s not politically possible. I have to wonder if David Brooks, our modern Wormtongue and master of learned helplessness and messaging is secretly in charge of Democratic Party strategy.

Yes, the electoral map is against us but what would happen if the party stopped saying “Elect us president even though there’s nothing we can do!”

That’s not the message voters want to hear. They want to hear that you’re going to try. They want to hear that you’ll go to the mat for them. They want to be assured in no uncertain terms that if they hand the reigns of power over to you and manage to give you the house and the senate too by some miracle, that you are not going squander another golden opportunity to fix it. If there is one genuine surprise this year, it’s that after many long years, it is finally safe and even good to call yourself a liberal Democrat. It would be a shame if the party failed to move on that.

So, Hillary, tell Robbie Mook and his data models to take a hike. I don’t want to be pressured to donate just because 3 other people in my neighborhood did it. (Stop sending those emails. They make me resentful and obstinate.) Besides, data models are like Palantiri that can lead you astray. You don’t know the end of the story yet so there is no need to lock yourself into a careful, professionally crafted campaign approach that is unresponsive to current opportunities and realities. Do not market to me. What is good for my cohort is good for the vast majority of Americans. There is no reason to data drive, divide and conquer. We need a restart button not principle components analysis.

I want to see you throw caution to the wind and send a message that is going to at least match Bernie’s that you are going to do something for us even if it looks like it’s not politically possible.

Dream the impossible dream, Hillary. Dream BIG.

 

 

 

 

 

Democratic Candidate’s Debate: OooooIIIOWA

winter2013editI’ve heard a lot of stupid stuff from bloggers and journalists who are speculating why it is that Trump will not go away as a candidate and why Bernie Sanders appears to be hotter than previously thought.

First, I’d like to say that to blame Trump’s rise or the disgust with Obama on racism is too easy. I’m sure there are some clueless bigots out there that are supporting Trump and hate Obama. But I don’t think that’s why Trump is popular, or why Bernie is popular either.

There are a couple of things I would pay more attention to if I were a left blogger (I still am, by the way. I might be angry woman but I’m not stupid). One of these things was summed up by Steve Carrell’s character in The Big Short in a monologue when he was watching the financial industry melt and contemplated what would happen next. He foresaw homeowners compensated, the government taking measures to put things right, new regulations, and bankers carted off to jail. Of course, none of that happened. The measures were insufficient and delivered without the urgency that the country needed. And there are still people, such as myself, who will pay the price of the country having a high overhead of experienced, talented, over-educated people on the job market for a very, very long period of time.

What Trump voters are reacting to is *someone* is finally not acting like a student body president, trying not to upset the bankers, giving lip service to ideas and then doing a half assed job implementing them. You know what I’m talking about. The country handed Obama his job on a silver platter in a time of crisis and gave him more than enough support in Congress for two years to do something. They wanted real change. He didn’t deliver on that.

Trump may be a narcissistic, malevolent asshole without a congressional cohort but at least he’s not playing nice.

As far as Bernie is concerned, that’s not really a surprise, is it? Even the worst of the worst right wing Fox News lover grew up in an America when labor was strong, retirement was a realistic goal with a full pension, and most people were able to keep a roof over their heads. Some of these people are under the mistaken impression that a party would have to be crazy to touch social security and that single payer health care sounds like a good idea.

That’s the conditioning that Fox hasn’t really been able to touch, in spite of the incessant fear mongering, islamophobia, hyper-religiosity, racism and misogyny.

All Bernie has to do is be himself.

The question is: Who is Hillary Clinton?

Democratic Poo Flinging Debate?

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Reaction to an unexpected opportunity

Oh, we got trouble. We’ve got The Donald flirting with his dark side and scaring Americans to death over Muslims. And by the way, did Ted Cruz really say that only Christian refugees from the middle east should be let into the country? How is he going to know whether they’re really Christian? Do they have to bring baptismal certificates with them? Yeah, I can see that being the first thing to grab when you’re leaving your house in a war zone. “Honey, where did we put those baptism pictures from last year’s evangelical revival tent show in Homs?”

Wait! What about agnostics or atheists? Are they allowed into the country as long as they’re not Muslim? You gotta ask these questions because from what I can recall, nobody is hated more than an atheist. Or how about panentheists? What kind of religious test are we going for here? What if you just don’t believe the Bible is an inspired godly text that needs to be followed, um, religiously?

I only ask.

But let’s get real. This debate is going to be about whether Hillary and Bernie can talk the nation off a ledge or whether they’re going to snap at each other over some stupid data model that presumes that we can all be broken down into our socio economic group and grocery store buying habits?

Bring it on.

Live blog the atrocities here.

Note that the debate is on ABC tonight. ABC isn’t streaming in Pittsburgh and I’m not dragging my butt down to my chilly basement family room to watch it on the big screen. But you can stream the audio on TuneIn radio. Go to the WSB station.

Party Games

f778d10c334de6fa_shutterstock_34187182-previewI don’t know what all the fighting is about in the Democratic party over Bernie Sanders’ campaign’s supposed unauthorized access to voter/donor information but I do know that rigging the game for one candidate or another is something the DNC has done before.

That is not to say that any candidate had anything to do with it. In fact, I would be inclined to believe that this is something the DNC may have done all on its own, depending on how much money it has or has not received on behalf on any one candidate from outside sources whether that money was solicited or unsolicited or how much attention it feels it needs to generate this week.

Who knows?

I really have no way of knowing. I mean, it was much clearer what was happening in 2008 when those of us without eyes full of smoke could see what the party was doing. But now, I honestly don’t know what it’s up to. It sure didn’t love Hillary Clinton in 2008 and was willing to do just about anything to keep her from being nominated, voters be damned. If I recall correctly, one of Hillary’s campaign staff defected to Obama’s campaign with voter/donor information and the response from the party was {{crickets}}.

Gosh, I hope the money was good for whateverhernamewas.

This quote from a Vox post on the topic is, well, read it yourself:

It’s not much of a secret inside the Democratic Party that the DNC has favored Hillary Clinton’s interests throughout the primary. Martin O’Malley, for instance, has criticized the organization harshly. “This is totally unprecedented in our party’s history,” he said, referring to the thin debate schedule, where most of the debates occur before the Iowa caucuses, and some were scheduled, unusually, for Saturdays. “This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before.”

I know, right? Too funny. “Totally unprecedented!”  “This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before”

O’Malley is shocked, SHOCKED, that the DNC would pulls strings for one candidate over another.

The possible tragedy of this is that Hillary shouldn’t need their “help”. She’s far and away the most reassuringly qualified candidate we have on either side. If I were her, I’d run away from this meme asap.

All I know is the voters are increasingly cut out of decisions about, oh, I don’t know, who they want their representatives to be. You know, simple stuff like that.

That being said, I have no reason to believe that Hillary’s campaign had anything to do with this and it was not in her interest to let any bad feelings fester or have any accusations linger out there that the NY Times could jump on. So, to the extent that the datagate has been resolved, I say, great. Can we please get Debbie Wasserman-Shultz to pay attention to the actual issues?

Probably not but we can hope.

On the other hand, it will probably be topic numero uno at the debate tonight instead of how the Republican candidates are pushing voters’ “thoughts of mortality” buttons to get them to vote for the biggest, baddest, ballsiest candidate who will take the fight to the Muslims.

Wasn’t it The Donald who said “the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

Actually, it wasn’t Trump although it sounds like something he would say, with a “you know what I’m saying?” thrown in at the end.

It was Herman Goehring. But it could have been Trump. Or one of the other charismatically and intellectually challenged challengers on the Republican ticket.

Yep, it has worked so well before.

 

 

Democratic Debate 1: Let’s Do This Thing

Hey, does anyone remember that Berlin Wall thing? Whatever happened to that anyway?

Tonight’s the night we hear the other side, after months and months of silly twits pissing on double layer fences to keep the Mexicans out and generally trying to out mean each other. By the way, did anyone but me wonder why Republicans are comfortable with a double layer fence that not only keeps the illegal immigrants out but also keeps all the ‘Muricans in? Anyone remember the Berlin Wall? Anyone? Bueller?

Anyway, I got a message today from the Clinton campaign. Oh, heck, let’s be honest, I get about 20 emails a day from Hillary. Look, it’s not that I don’t care. I just don’t care yet.  I get it, Iowa (who the hell cares about Iowa??) is only a couple months away but you know, I’m just not as engaged as I was in 2008. The financial collapse, years of lost income and ongoing income instability can just make a person go “meh”. You know that sound, “meh”. Sounds a bit like a soft quack dosed with ennui. Meh.

So, Hillary wanted to know what question I would like the moderators to ask. And you know, I actually have one. It’s been on my mind for some time now. It has nothing to do with Benghazi or abortion or gun control or illegal immigrants. No, my only question for these two candidates who are so damn determined to save America is:

Where the hell were you in 2012?

That’s it. Because I don’t remember hearing much from either of them. Well, I take that back. There was the Filibernie. But neither of these two challenged Obama or the people who swept him into office and then concretized long term unemployment, poor educational reforms, an ongoing student debt crisis, the attacks on women’s agency, and the disintegration of labor standards.

It was like they weren’t even there. OooooOOOOoooooooo! Cue the scary Halloween music.

So, let’s just say that in my humble opinion, these two have some work cut out for them because I might still think that Friends don’t let friends vote Republican but I have yet to hear why we had to wait four loooonnnggg years for these two to challenge what the nasties have been doing to undermine the middle class.

Go on, let’s hear it. Convince me.

Live blog, if you feel up to it. Here’s the link to CNN’s Debate Central Hub Nexus Headquarters

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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