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#Brexit, appliances, eucatastrophes and GoT crackpot theories

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What has the EU ever done for us?

Hi everybody, I have to go mow the lawn. It’s a nice day out today and I want to get it over with so I can do more fun things. But first, some thots about Brexit.

David Cameron is a ditz. He called his voters’ bluff one too many times. Unfortunately, the people who voted for exiting the EU are dragging all of the young and well educated with them. It’s funny how this turned out to be a referendum on immigration and all those furiners taking jobs. Why is it that the well connected who are making out like bandits in the globalization deal escape scrutiny time after time?

I blame Rupert Murdoch. Wherever his “news” channels are strongest so is the redirection of righteous indignation onto the backs of the people who are least able to defend themselves.

Anyway, I wanted to point out that this globalization meme is truly stupid and well-meaning politicians should stop cuddling up to the propagators of this nonsense. Instinctively, we know that globalization is the excuse that is being used to tear down social safety nets. The reasoning is that goods for Americans, for example, are cheaper when they are made elsewhere. But is that really true?

Here’s a challenge: next time you’re in Lowes or Home Depot, go visit the appliance department. Try to figure out which refrigerators and ranges are made here in the US and which are made in Korea by price. There are brands that are made here in the US but they do not carry a premium price. In fact, the most expensive appliances, the ones that everyone wants and needs, are made in Korea. Not only that but sales reps will tell you confidentially that the current generation of those $3200 refrigerators are not supposed to last more than 7-10 years.

That’s globalization for you. And people buying new appliances know this in their bones. They know they’re being conned. What can you do? You can’t let your food spoil. But you gotta wonder where all the cost savings went. If the appliances are no longer cheaper but the labor is, then the difference is pure profit and it’s going into someone’s pocket. Not ours, obviously.

Globalization as we know it is really about a global casino, shareholder value, 401K’s. Did you notice that on Friday when the market dropped, we were all told not to look at our 401Ks? That’s what the gamblers would prefer. They don’t want you to look at how the value of your hard earned money, your retirement plan, is taking a plunge and will continue to do so. “Leave it alone, don’t think about it” is the message we get. Otherwise, you might get angry and they don’t want you to get angry and pull YOUR money out of THEIR market. Don’t look until we have to retire and find that all these monumental shocks left us with a lot less than the financial consultants said. They won’t promise you a guaranteed rate of return or even that you’ll have any principal left.And it’s all up to you. If you don’t plan, if you’re not playing the game correctly, well, it’s you’re fault for not being them.

I don’t buy the idea that nothing can be done about this kind of globalization. As Larry Elliott writes in his post in The Guardian:

The risk is that if the mainstream parties don’t respond to the demands of their traditional supporters, they will be replaced by populist parties who will. The French Socialist party has effectively lost most of its old blue-collar working class base to the hard left and the hard right, and in the UK there is a danger that the same thing will happen to the Labour party, where Jeremy Corbyn’s laissez-faire approach to immigration is at odds with the views of many voters in the north that supported Ed Miliband in the 2015 general election, but who plumped for Brexit last week.

There are those who argue that globalisation is now like the weather, something we can moan about but not alter. This is a false comparison. The global market economy was created by a set of political decisions in the past and it can be shaped by political decisions taken in the future.

A smart politician is one who will see Brexit as the eucatastrophe it is, no pun intended. It might be too late for a do-over in Britain, but the American election is months away. It is not too late to turn this ship around. Even if Hillary is ahead of The Donald, she should take a good look at how the landscape has changed and take advantage of it to craft new policies, policies that will ensure lasting political change. Obama failed to take advantage of his opportunities from 2008-2010. Hillary should sieze on hers now even at the risk of offending some of her donors in Silicon Valley.  The pressure on regular non-rich Americans has been building for years now. It got significantly worse in the last 8 years as the finance industry and big business benefitted from lax oversight to push more and more people into a Gig Economy. That’s where you’re valuable when you’re young and single and willing to job hop. But as soon as you grow up and want a steady job and a family and a house, the jobs mysteriously dry up.

Brexit shows us what can happen when voters have a chance to express themselves. Voters are angry and they are motivated and they want to make a point. David Cameron thought throwing them a bone of a referendum would be just another Scotland independence vote where the whiners and complainers would get trounced and shut up about it already. But he seriously misread the electorate. They’re sick of being taken advantage of and if they’re going down, they’re going to take everyone else with them. And just like the UK, we have a bunch of angry white guys with big erections that they are going to parade all the way to the voting booth. The economy is not booming, we aren’t doing well and unlike the angry Bernie supporters, who at least know who to blame, the Trump supporters will lash out at anyone who isn’t a white male American.

Better to give them policies that will curb the malefactors of great wealth and stop expecting the working class to foot the bill all time than to see us all wake up after the conventions feeling like we’ve been thoroughly f^&*ed.

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

Tonight is the season finale of Game of Thrones. Here are my crackpot theories about how what’s going to happen:

  1. We will find out tonight just who was the recipient of Sansa Stark’s letter and plea for help. Everyone assumes it was Petyr Baelish, aka Littlefinger. But I think Sansa has grown a clue in the last six years. She made a deal with someone in the Vale. Was it Lord Royce or SweetRobin? In any case, Littlefinger may be losing his edge. If you’re planning to come to someone’s rescue, make sure you get the specific reciprocal rewards on paper, preferably signed in blood.
  2. Whatever Sansa does, there will be a faction of fans who will be critical. They’ve been complaining for years now that she’s been too much of a passive pushover. But since she started taking control of her life this season and making some controversial decisions, they’ve become even more hostile and critical that “She’s doin’ it wrong”. Also, there are some fans who are very negative that she might be losing her girlish innocence to be replaced by a calculating survival mode. Thus Game of Thrones continues to reflect current political realities. Even in the fantasy realm, Cenk Uygar is tiresome, sexist asshole. The pattern is obvious, Cenk. Your slip is showing. Calm your tits already.
  3. What is in the crypts of Winterfell? I mean, seriously, there’s some secret lurking down there that we don’t know about. And why is it that “there must always be a Stark at Winterfell”? The first book opened in the crypts when Ned took Robert down there to check out Lyanna’s grave. But various characters are always finding some excuse to go down there and light some candles. Maybe this is what Littlefinger is truly interested in. Sansa’s just the cheesecake dessert.** Whatever is down there is what he’s really after.
  4. Tonight, we will probably get confirmation that R+L=J. Was Jon reborn last week under a bleeding star of the circular pattern of dead and dying bodies? Was the “salt and smoke” from the Ramsay’s burning victims and the sweat of battle? Will Melisandre be the ultimate sacrifice? Will she finally understand the signs she sees in the fire?

Add your own crackpot theories in the comments.

* *  Here’s another crackpot theory. We all know how Ramsay Bolton had a thing for cutting off various body parts from his victims. What if Ramsay did a bit of FGM on Sansa? I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones to even be imagining this but I could see him doing it, considering what he cut off of Theon Greyjoy. In that case, Sansa may decide to become a born-again virgin and get her kicks from wielding power instead. Oooo, Cenk isn’t going to like that.

Dracarys.

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Tidbits and GoT Predictions

1.)I’m a bit sad this morning over Bernie Sanders’ self-immolation of his brand. Bernie was on to something. His message resonated with me strongly. He made a strategic misstep when he identified too much with the more paranoid supporters in his constituency. Bernie supporters will always be welcome here. Your opinions *do* matter to us and your vote is still important if you haven’t had a chance to participate in a primary yet. You shouldn’t be ignored just because your champion temporarily lost his f&*(ing mind. (Just don’t expect us to argue every point with you. Our focus is forward, getting Hillary elected)

And anyway, no revolution is going to happen until we put more people like us in Congress, the Senate and statehouses. If Hillary is elected president, the tide of bad voting laws can be rolled back. That right there is a good reason to vote for her because you can’t change anything if you can’t vote. So, I hope we can concentrate on downticket Democrats that both sides of the party can get behind. (Yeah, we don’t like Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and her student body president types either)

2.) We had a sustained attack on this blog on Friday. I have reason to believe it was not just a Bernie Bros production. The Bernie Bros are occasionally more earnest burning swamp monsters flailing and broadcasting high anxiety to the blog. (Calm your tits, guys, Hillary isn’t nearly as Satanic as you think). But I don’t think they are the most destructive trolls. I mean, who has the most to lose this election really? Who is more motivated to try to diminish and marginalize the pro-Hillary contingent?

Let’s just say that I’ve been tracing some of the commenters to their original sources and my curiosity is piqued. Would there be a concerted effort to bombard Hillary positive blogs with comments that looked like they came from unhinged Bernie Bros but are actually right wing disrupters who got their hands on what should be defunct domain addresses? I wouldn’t be surprised. Someone with more time and network skills on their hands should look into this. I can provide the information if you interested.

3.) Jane Caro, my favorite Australian, is writing a trilogy of books about Queen Elizabeth I of England and what sacrifices women in power have to make. She touches briefly on what Hillary is going through at about the 35 minute mark when she talks about how men are ok with women playing second fiddle. But the minute a woman politician decides to go for the top spot, she suddenly morphs into a “heinous bitch” in the media. There’s some speculation that there is an ancient physical taboo involved. Donald Trump has already tapped into this. I’m really intrigued by Jane’s hypothesis here.

Jane used to be in advertising and she’s very perceptive about what motivates people as well as what turns them off. Jane talks about why virgins are more powerful. We should probably try to understand this if we ever expect to make progress. Is she on to something? Discuss.

The whole video is really good. If I were Hillary, I’d add Caro to the campaign advisors.

 

4.) Ok, who out there hates to clean? Don’t be shy, raise your hands. I have some podcast gold for you that are truly sponge worthy and will take your mind off the chores that never end and don’t seem to stay done. These are about Hollywood’s early years and they are fascinating.

Stuart Waterman has two amazing podcasts. Pick one depending on your mood.

Attaboy Clarence podcasts are about an hour long and feature biographies of the stars, old timey ads and Lux Theater rebroadcasts of movies, along with Stuart’s sardonic commentary delivered in a Jude Law drawl.

The Secret History of Hollywood is more like an ongoing deep dyve narrative. These podcasts must take months to put together but they are so well done you can’t wait for the next one to come out. He has podcasts that cover Alfred Hitchcock, Universal Pictures’ horror genre and the beginnings of Warner Bros. and their gangster film franchise. I’m on part two of Bullets and Blood. Start with Bullets and Blood part 1. You won’t be sorry.

You Must Remember This is Karina Longworth’s podcast on the history of Hollywood. Her podcast also has biographies of the stars starting with the silent screen right up to Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. These podcasts are shorter, about 30 minutes long. Karina always finds an angle that you might not have thought about and leaves you thinking long after the podcast is over. Hollywood has had an enormous effect on our culture.

Both podcasters discuss the pre-code Hollywood era. That was a revelation to me and may explain why your grandparents were so much cooler than your parents.

5.) Alright, on to what you really wanted to talk about: Game of Thrones predictions. To recap this season (don’t read if you haven’t seen season 6 episodes yet. Spoilers ahead.):

Jon Snow is not dead. Melisandre brought him back with a sponge bath, haircut and some funky prayers in what sounds like Hebrew. He executed the Watch brothers who executed him, which just goes to show you that characters are not dead until you burn the bodies, assuming they can be burned (I’m getting to that).

Sansa escapes with Theon’s help. She and Theon are rescued in the woods by Brienne who offers her sword to Sansa. This time, Sansa has finally bought a clue and accepts the help. Theon departs for the Iron Islands where he offers to help make his sister queen after their father’s untimely murder at the hands of his brother.

Sansa reaches Jon at Castle Black and there is a touching reunion. Tormund Giantsbane locks eyes with Brienne. It’s love at first sight. (Bow-chicka-bow) Ramsay Bolton has Sansa and Jon’s(?) little brother and sends a taunting letter to Jon and Sansa at Castle Black saying “Come and get him”. Sansa channels her inner badass and tells Jon that if he doesn’t help her take back Winterfell, she’ll do it herself. Jon and the Wildlings are all in.

Arya is still in Braavos training to become a faceless man. But is she really “no one”? By the way, did anyone else notice that during the “beat the confession out of her” scene the Waif got Arya to reduce the number of brothers she has? Has Arya always known in some instinctive way that Jon wasn’t her brother even though both Arya and Jon are the most Stark like of all the Winterfell children?

Bran has greenseer visions with Bloodraven about the Tower of Joy. We still have no confirmation that R+L=J but, c’mon, what else can these visions mean? Unless there’s something we don’t yet know…

Cersei and Jaime hatch a plot to get the Tyrell’s to take on the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant. Sparrow has Margaery, King Tommen’s wife, and her brother Loras. The idea is to bring the Tyrell army to King’s Landing. What could *possibly* go wrong?

Dany escapes from the Dosh Khaleen and burns the right wing trolls and Bernie Bros, the worst collection of obnoxious, threatening, small minded barbarians that ever gave rape culture a bad name and emerges from the flames as an unburnt fiery demi-goddess.

Predictions:

High Sparrow got Loras to crack. Loras told Sparrow that is grandmother had King Joffrey poisoned. Then, Sparrow tells Tommen this, and he tells his mother Cersei. Cersei and Jaime hatch a plan to pit the Tyrell’s against the Faith Militant and hope to take both of them out at the same time by having the Lannisters show up and clean up the aftermath. Not sure how the much anticipated Cleganebowl comes out of this but expect to see Mountainstein take on The Hound in about episode 7.

Sansa is going to lead the army to Winterfell. She’s going to be the one to make herself a widow by slamming one of her embroidery needles into Ramsay’s brain. Being eaten by wolves is too good for him. He’s got to die by Sansa’s hands. Die, Die, Die, Ramsay, DIE! Ahem, got carried away there.

Arya took an antidote before she drank from the cup that Jaquen H’gar offered her. She’s still Arya under there.

Bran is going to go diving too deeply under the sea and almost loses himself. He sees The Others coming and Meera helps him sound the alarm. Will Howland Reed deliver Robb Stark’s will to the other bannermen of the North in time to take back and fortify Winterfell in time for the onslaught?

The wall will come down in episode 10.

Valar Morghulis.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Winter is Trumping

 

Australian humorist Huw Parkinson put that together, which is somewhat ironic given Australia’s notorious treatment of refugee boat people who try to reach its shores.

I was listening to a This American Life episode that featured a Trump supporter from South Carolina who is young, evangelical and gay. What struck me about this interview is how convinced the guy was that Hillary Clinton was going to be indicted.

That seems to be just hanging out there. You’d think that after all the investigations, and nearly 4 years after she left office as Secretary of State, that if there were something to indict her over, someone would have done it by now.But the idea that there’s something hanging over her is definitely a weapon that has always used against the Clintons to great success. It’s out there, we don’t know when they’ll be arrested but you can bet it’s going to happen eventually. Or not, most likely.

The other thing that struck me is that like most other Trump voters I have heard, the kid seems confused. He thinks Trump is an advocate of gay marriage. It reminds me a little bit of the way that Obama supporters in 2008 would pin their hopes and dreams, sometimes conflicting ones, on Obama, the ultimate tofu candidate. I doubt that Trump has a real issue with gay marriage but you never know what’s going to pop out of his mouth in front of the right audience.

I try to stay out of the minds of Trump voters. In there, the world doesn’t make sense, up is down, things happen for no apparent reason and they seem to be unreasonably fearful. It can make you feel a bit like Tyrion Lannister trying to be reasonable with people who will kill off the best characters in pursuit of an iron throne.

Valar Morghulis

 

What the world needs now…

… is a good liberation narrative.

 

Go, Snowden, Go!