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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – December 15, 2019 by Tony Wikrent Economics Action Group, North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy The Economy of Evil [Historicly, via Naked Capitalism 12-11-19] Benito Mussolini became Prime Minister in October 1922. Nazis rose to power in 1933 in Germany. Mussolini convened a meetin […]
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Democratic Poo Flinging Debate?


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.

Question of the Day: What would Obama have to do to get your vote?

Busy day today.  I’ll be back in time for the debate tonight.  In the meantime, what would Obama have to do to get your vote?

I’m not sure he could actually pull this off for me but here are the things he would have to do immediately to get my vote:

1.) Fire Tim Geithner.  He has to do this before the election.  He has to appoint a Secretary of the Treasury who does not work for Wall Street.  This is my biggest demand.  Geithner and all of Obama’s Wall Street favorite advisors have got to go.  They have caused untold and unnecessary suffering for millions of struggling American workers and homeowners.

2.) Promise that he will under no circumstances sign any bill that reduces benefits or raises the retirement age for future Social Security beneficiaries.  He must promise not to negotiate on a Grand Bargain. (Please, Gawd, don’t let him anywhere near a negotiation table.) See the Campaign for America’s Future Website on the Lame Duck Whip Count on this issue.  Downticket Dems need to commit right this very second.  My two senators have but I have yet to hear from my Republican representative, Leonard Lance, one of the most committed hard ass Republican partisans. Obama must promise to explore cost controls for Medicare that do not fall on the recipients.  It’s time for providers to start making sacrifices since the inability to rein them in is what is going to drain us.

3.) He has to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan now.  We’ve given him plenty of time to pull out.  No more stalling, no more grandstanding.  Get out now.

4.) He has to rescind the Bush Conscience Rule immediately and without any further wordsmithing.

5.) He has to stop using the drones.  He has to empty Guantanemo expeditiously.  He has to stop siccing his DHS droogs on peaceful protestors.

6.) He has to promise to work for Rush Holt’s HR811 bill for voter verified paper ballots.  Casting votes on e-voting machines is “faith based voting” according to Holt because the machines are so easily hacked.  Obama has to get onboard right this very minute.

I’d like to remind the Democrats that all of the donors in the country can’t win this election for you.  You’ve got to get actual, genuine voter bodies to the polls and make them push buttons, punch chads and fill the circle completely within the lines to win.  There are some voters who will vote for you no matter what, some who are so gullible they’ll believe anything you tell them and US.  I suspect you’re going to need US this year.

What are your demands?  Take the poll below.  Choose up to 3 responses or add your own demand.

VP debate tonight and stray thought from 2008

Tonight is the Vice Presidential debate between Joe “the cop between my brain and my mouth is at the donut shop” Biden and Paul “Ayn Rand is my goddess” Ryan.  We should do another live blog but since the body language thing has become chic this year, maybe we should watch and listen this time.  OR, we could turn off the visuals and just listen.

Anyway, it just occurred to me that maybe one of the reasons Barack Obama did so poorly in his first debate appearance this year is because in 2008, he was actually running against Sarah Palin.  Oh sure he was.  That’s all the general campaign was about, how much smarter and more qualified Barack Obama was compared to Sarah Palin.  John McCain hardly entered the picture at all.  I think I noticed it back then too but it didn’t occur to me that this might be why his debate performances in 2008 were not a fiasco.  He was all confident and cocky about beating Sarah, that was the real race that his campaign had set up in everyone’s mind.

Plus, he was running a game of “whack a racist”.  ANY criticism of Obama was twisted to be a racial slur.  It was quite effective.  Combined with his race against Sarah, how was a liberal supposed to effectively evaluate Obama?  Any legitimate criticism of him was muted and he was running against a woman who the left had dehumanized and characterized as the stupidest person on the planet.

This year, it’s different.  Visually, Mitt is very presidential.  He’s a big, tall man with presidential hair and an engaging vital manner.  He’s also a Republican, which in my humble opinion, is unforgivable.  But that’s not the point.  As Obama supposedly believes, debates are sideshows.  From a policy perspective, they’re meaningless.  But I think they serve a purpose that can’t be underrated.  In the modern debate, we get as close as we can to hand to hand combat between chieftains of competing clans.  It *is* physical.  That’s why it was important that Michael Dukakis looked short, that Richard Nixon sweat and that Barack Obama looked like he didn’t want to be there.

It might have also done in Hillary because at 5’7″, she had to look feisty to compete with his taller frame and longer limbs. He took up more space and with a female opponent, he strut his macho stuff and acted dismissively when she talked. It might not have been enough that she was the smartest person in the room who had done her homework and could whip up a policy in 30 seconds flat.  To the liberals and progressives who were afraid of losing again, she had to look more like Boudicca than Hermione Granger.

Boudicca, ass-kicking queen of the Britons
(bears striking resemblance to Julia Gillard)

Nevertheless, she took him on and won her debates with him to such an extent that he refused to debate her again during the primaries after she beat him in Pennsylvania. He sought out a friendlier crowd in NC the next day to lick his wounds, flip her the bird and brush the dirt off his shoulders.  It has often been said that he doesn’t like confrontation and that NC appearance showed that he was much better at acting like the mean BMOC when he was with his adoring fans than taking her on and losing to her again.

It’s been awhile since I read MoDo but I dropped into her column yesterday and she seems to have matured ever so slightly.  She’s not so flip these days, probably because her mancrush in 2008 turned out to be far worse for women that the woman she mocked for two decades.  Maybe she’s learned her lesson.  She also seems more than a little alarmed.  Oh sure, Obama will do better next time.  Someone will have figured out how he’s supposed to debate a real general campaign opponent.  But MoDo suggests it’s more serious than that:

Just as Poppy Bush didn’t try as hard as he should have because he assumed voters would reject Slick Willie, Obama lapsed into not trying because he assumed voters would reject Cayman Mitt.

The president averted his eyes as glittering opportunities passed, even when Romney sent a lob his way with a reference to his accountant.

Obama has been coddled by Valerie Jarrett, the adviser who sat next to Michelle at the debate, instead of the more politically strategic choice of local pols and their spouses. Jarrett believes that everyone must woo the prodigy who deigns to guide us, not the other way around.

At a fund-raising concert in San Francisco Monday night, the president mocked Romney’s star turn, saying “what was being presented wasn’t leadership; that’s salesmanship.”

It is that distaste for salesmanship that caused Obama not to sell or even explain health care and economic policies; and it is that distaste that caused him not to sell himself and his policies at the debate. His latest fund-raising plea is marked “URGENT.” But in refusing to muster his will and energy, and urgently sell his vision, he underscores his own lapses in leadership and undermines arguments for four more years.

The debate was an uncomfortable window into Obama’s style in all things presidential.  What is urgent to you is not an emergency to him.  He’s smaller than we thought, less secure, confident and sure of his experience.  He doesn’t look like the alpha male commanding his clan.  He’s the guy who seeks assistance from the moderator with ingratiating comments.  That Obama doesn’t stand a chance against a real presidential candidate and not the carefully crafted illusions his campaign spun for him to do battle with four years ago.  And that is the weak prince we have had in office for four years while the barbarians knocked down the gates.

In a way, a strong showing by Joe Biden this evening might just do Obama in.

And here’s another quote from that MoDo column that I find deeply disturbing:

Once during the 2008 campaign, reading about all the cataclysms jolting the economy and the world, Obama joked to an adviser: “Maybe I should throw the game.”

Can someone confirm whether he really said that?

Wednesday: Whoops!

Gimme Coffee!

Gimme Coffee!

I woke up late this morning.  Cold medicine will do that to you.  Even Hypergraphia the muse is still sleeping. So, this is an open thread.

Here are some ice breakers to talk about:

  • When Obama challenged McCain to say it to his face, did he mean at tonight’s debate?
  • Now that Obama has won tonight’s debate, how will the media say he did it?  With his grace and eloquence or his mastery of the material or his inspirational vision?
  • And now for something completely different.  In The Wild Side, the NYTimes reports on a form of cancer in Tasmanian Devils that is spreadable.  They don’t get it from spreading a virus, like the Human Papilloma virus (HPV).  They spread it by contact with the cancer *cells* themselves.  Oddly enough, this is possible in humans as well, although it is very rare.  In the Tasmanian Devil case, it could lead to extinction.

Oh, and one more thing: We know that DFA is planning to train activists to put peer pressure on their friends, families and canvassing list. How do we know? They say so. Here’s the email from Armad inviting me to a training session to see how it’s done:

DFA Member –

This election is going to boil down to one thing: turnout. That’s good news, because that means the key to victory is in your hands.

Even better news: Our Get Out The Vote campaign will help you do it.

Studies show that peer-to-peer voter contact is the most effective way to increase turnout¹. When you ask friends to vote and they commit, they are much more likely to follow through. The same goes for neighbors, co-workers, and family. The statistics prove it — when you ask someone you know to vote, they won’t want to let you down.

That’s why our Get Out The Vote campaign focuses on mobilizing your social network. This Tuesday evening, DFA Night School returns for a special 50 State Victory GOTV session.


DFA Night School Special Edition – MyGOTV
Tuesday, Oct 14, 2008
8:30 Eastern Time

We’ll teach you the tactics and tools you’ll need to deliver results.

Our strategy is based on some of the best research available on voter turnout. Several studies show that voters turn out at higher rates when they believe their peers or neighbors will know if they’ve turned out or not.

It makes sense too. We all know that peer-pressure doesn’t end in high school. Let’s put peer-pressure to work and deliver victory for Barack and progressive candidates up and down the ballot.

Join us for Night School and help us get 3 million voters to the polls by Election Day.


Our campaign also focuses on voting early. That’s because voting early cuts down long lines on Election Day. It frees up the campaign to focus on less likely voters. And it eliminates unexpected circumstances that might keep someone from voting on Election Day.

With our campaign, once you actually vote, we’ll send you a free “I voted for Obama” bumper sticker. It’s just one more way to make sure your friends and neighbors see you are working to make change happen.

Don’t miss this important Special Edition Night School.


Thank you for everything you do.


Arshad Hasan, Executive Director
Democracy for America

P.S. If you haven’t yet pledged to vote for Obama and get 3 more Obama voters to the polls by Election Day, now’s the time.


¹ Yale University Institution for Social and Policy Studies: Lessons from Recent GOTV Experiments – Alan Gerber, Mark Grebner, Donald Green and Christopher Larimer (2006)
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Well, isn’t that special? Howard Dean’s brother Jim’s activist base training thousands of Obots to get in your face to put peer pressure on you to vote for Obama just like in high school. Research based psychological warfare, just what we need from another presidential candidate. And Obama is behind this 100%. I suppose there’s nothing illegal about it. It just feels really disgusting to me. Like siccing the popular clique on the rest of us. Aren’t we allowed to make these decisions on our own without peer pressure?

If you were Hillary…

…What points would you make to sway the voters of Pennsylvania? Don’t go for long winded soliliquys or treacly sentiments. What is called for is a knock out punch that voters will remember that will sum up the differences between her and Obama or will pull back the mask and expose one or the other’s true natures. Like Lloyd Bentsen telling Dan Quayle that he was no Jack Kennedy or Ronald Reagan with is “There you go again” thing. Hillary already had one with the “That hurts my feelings but I’ll try to go on”, which I thought was brilliant but was so long ago people might have forgotten it. It showed her humanity, humor and tenacity.

Ok, I’ll go first. IMHO, Obama’s appeal is that he seems to be a messianic figure who promises a vaguely defined change but his fan base is actually quite exclusionary. In ObamaWorld, not everyone gets to the Promised Land. Only DINKS, young people and AA’s. Everyone else is part of the great unwashed masses who are too stupid to be of any use to him but who he got saddled with anyway, sort of like the leftover kids he had to pick for his team. But he keeps telling us “You need me”, like, no matter how badly he treats us, we can’t do any better. I’d like to flip that meme around. “Senator Obama thinks you need him. You’re nothing without him. Senator, you can’t do anything without these people. All of these people. Rich, poor, young, old, laborers or academics. They’re the ones who get things done and *I* need *them*, every one of them. Including the voters of MI and Florida

Other ideas:

“If you are so confident you can win this contest without the voters of MI and FL, why are you spending money like a sailor to run ads in PA?”

“Is it possible that the people you say don’t like people who don’t look them are NOT Archie Bunker types, as your campaign called them in Ohio? What if they just think I’d be a better president?”

“Just because people who voted for me think I’d make a better president, that’s no reason to call them Archie Bunkers, as you did in Ohio.”

“Lobbyists? That’s all you got? Until you’ve had your life turned inside out by your enemies to find *nothing*, you don’t know what swiftboating is all about.”

“Sit up straight and pay attention when I’m talking to you.”

Ok, go!

Wednesday: Showdown

Mornin’ all, I have a presentation I need to prepare for so posting for me will be light today.

As you may know, there’s a debate tonight. It will be televised nationally on ABC starting at 8pm EST (5pm PST). Post debate coverage will be on C-SPAN2 at 10:00pm with caller reactions. If you want the most accurate reactions to the debates, your best bet is to follow up on C-SPAN2. Otherwise, the media has decided that Obama has already won it handily. Tweety and friends have already written up their notes praising him. He was brilliant. He was eloquent. He was fresh and new.

But I digress. Maya at the H-burg HQ tells me that before the debate, they re planning a haka of sorts. Yep, supporters for each side assemble near the debate site during the day and psych each other out with cheers or has the news media always describes protests in other countries, “the protestors held signs and chanted slogans”. Of course this is not a protest (unless you don’t like the fact that the media has already crowned Obama the winner without him having to utter a single word).

If you’d like to join the fun, and this is supposed to be *fun*, not confrontational, get thee hence to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia sometime this afternoon. Here’s the address and map:

National Constitution Center
Independence Mall
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 409-6600

National Constitution Center

Give the Philly HQ a buzz before you go to see if there is a particular plan for this haka (eg, where to stand, what to wear, slogans to chant) and while you’re at it, volunteer your time for this weekend’s GOTV.

520 North Delaware Avenue
Suite 202
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Phone: 215.625.0329
Fax: 215.625.0379

OK, one more time: Hillary won the debate


She wins all of her debates against Obama. It is only the media punditocracy that sets the bar for her so damn high that if she doesn’t clear 454 ft with her pole vaulting, it looks like a loss. She routinely clears 25 ft to Obama’s 16. But this does not indicate the level of superhuman abilities that we require from her. Anything less than 454 is like so much “So what have you done for me lately?”

Well, the debates are over and it is now for the voters of Texas and Ohio to decide. Do they need her to be superhuman and perfect or is excellent good enough? And are they going to buy the rambling, Shatner-like delivery of Obama, along with adolescent expressions of impatience and surprised disbelief as sufficient for the highest nation in the land or will they send him back to school for 4 years?

I guess we’ll see if the media standards are the ones that the rest of the country feels are fair. One thing for sure, though. Russert’s and William’s behavior last night didn’t make their case that we should adopt their standards as our own. Classy people don’t act like that. People with a vendetta do and we’ve watched enough crime drama since the advent of TV to know what that looks like.