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Four Tweets and Two Interviews

About a week ago, this tweet showed up in my stream and summarized everything that is worng with our current economy:

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 11.30.24 AM

Here’s what happened next:

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 11.30.56 AM

And after that?

{{crickets}}

That’s because when anyone has to actually sit down and think about it, the Gig Economy is only good for investors with a lot of money who can afford to dump a start-up when it doesn’t turn out to be the “get rich quick” scheme they thought it was.

The idea that some guy in his 20s is going to want to become a journeyman tech worker indefinitely is unrealistic. No one wants to live in a micro apartment forever. If you want a spouse and kids and a house, you can not do it if you are constantly looking for your next job that might be in another city where your spouse might not be able to find work or have to leave their own career behind. You can’t drag kids from one insecure gig to another and keep them in school without facing significant consequences down the road. (Take if from a Navy brat who still has problems with simple arithmetic. Thank god for calculators.)

Other things you can’t do in the Gig Economy as a tech worker: It’s hard to justify owning a house.How can you reasonably apply for a 30 yr mortgage if you don’t know when or where you’ll be working? It’s hard to save for retirement. Even if you are paid well, and some Accenture people I know are paid very well, you need to keep a significant chunk of liquid assets in case you’re laid off for extended periods of time. It used to be 6 months of salary. I’d say the actual amount is closer to two years. You just never know.

And add to that the stress of always shopping for a new job, updating your LinkedIn profile, networking, paying thousands of dollars for meaningless certifications, never getting enough experience or getting experience and then having to leave it all behind when the contract runs out.

IT IS THE STUPIDEST WAY TO RUN AN ECONOMY.

Yeah, if you’re an entrepreneur and you have a flexible morality that allows you to take advantage of “ease of migration” and “fluid labor laws” while benefitting from the “rule of law” and other nice infrastructure that everyone else pays for with their taxes, then it’s a sweeeeet deal. Good for Marc Andreeson! I used to admire the team who came up with Mosaic, the first browser I ever wrote HTML pages for back in 1995. But he is symptomatic of many people who think that just because this economy is working swell for him that we can all jump on the “I wanna be a rich entrepreneur!” bandwagon.

As I’ve pointed out before, biopharma R&D is a team sport, a collaborative activity where the credit is spread among many people. It does not adapt well to a start up economy where there are promises of fabulous riches made to a select few people of “talent”. Sure , there will be exceptions but what Marc will never know is how many cures did not get made because the research was not sexy enough to get the funding it needed.

And don’t even get me started about the companies and universities that make you sign over your patent rights as a condition of employment. When we were all in corporate labs with mostly stable jobs and a decent standard of living, we didn’t think twice about it. The company paid for the capital and overhead, we gave them a patent. It was fair. Now, all the risk is born by the researcher and they can’t keep their intellectual property.

Anyway, I won’t go on and on about it because you’ve heard it all before. My point is that as much as the candidates talk about retraining and having the work force catch up with technology, they seem to be ignoring the fact that there are millions of highly trained tech and R&D workers with all of the tech skills a company could want who are forced into lives that are pretty similar to migrant labor. Sure, the pay might be good for short periods of time but stretch that out over 40 years of a typical worker’s life and it’s a bad deal. There is so much uncertainty that it is going to have, and is currently having, a significant impact on the economy going forward.

We need to do something about those fluid labor laws where it is easy to lay people off for no good reason at any time, and we need to give foreign workers green cards when they are hired here so that their lives are not subject to the whims of vulture capitalism. If we really, really need highly educated foreign born citizens, then they are valuable enough to treat them as human beings, decently, with an opportunity to find other jobs if they are laid off due to no fault of their own.

Which one of our candidates is getting a clue?

I submit to you two recent interviews that Hillary has given recently. One is with Ezra Klein where they talked about policy. When I heard this, I could swear she’s been reading this blog for the last several years. She uses the words like “churn” to refer to the practice of large corporations to be perpetually overturning their work force every couple of years.

The other is the interview she gave to Charlie Rose last week where she says that “income insecurity” is a big problem. If she really means it, she will also have to acknowledge that profit sharing does NOT lead to secure incomes. She’s going to have to go back and talk to the Andreesons and other Obama’s supporters and tell them that’s not going to cut it.

The best thing about these interviews besides her command of policy, her confidence and her passion, is that she seems to have really started to listen. America is not as dark and foreboding as Trump would make us believe. But all is not well in terms of the economy and work and no one believes the current administration’s rosy scenarios and PR team. That is where the anger is coming from. We get a steady stream of Pravda media and it isn’t squaring with our own lives. Politicians, and by that I mean Republicans and some student body president Democrats, can only pull this off for so long before the electorate throws them all out.

She’s getting it. Good. That’s what I want to hear.

Gently Smiling Jaws

160723152029-tim-kaine-july-23-miami-florida-large-169

Getty Images

We had to wait until almost 2pm before Hillary and Tim Kaine showed up at the field house. There she was, cheery in robin’s egg blue. He was tall and relaxed in an open collar shirt. She gave a very pointed speech about Trump and his rule of one. There were some memorable lines. And then she did a magic trick.

Tim Kaine took the podium and nailed it.

Wasn’t that awesome? And there was Hillary sitting in back on her stool, looking perfectly content to let him have the stage and grinning from ear to ear as if to say, “Do I know how to pick them or what??”

She does indeed. Between the two of them, they have every branch of government covered except the Supreme Court. These are the two people who will get to nominate the next justices. Woot!

Meanwhile, Kaine gave his biography. He’s a really decent guy. Even his colleague Republican Senator Jeff Flake congratulated him. He also ticks every possible box Hillary Clinton could want in a VP pick:

  • From a battleground state- Virginia
  • Former Mayor and Governor
  • Faced a serious gun related incident during his tenure that compelled him to…
  • Take on the NRA to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands
  • Roman Catholic who likes Pope Francis
  • Actually went on a mission trip to Honduras where…
  • He learned to speak fluent Spanish

I could go on but you get the point.

But don’t be deceived. Behind that smiling face is the mind of a shrewd politician. He delivers his killing blows with neatly spread claws and gentle demeanor. I have no doubt that he’s companionable, competent and experienced, just what a VP should be. He can take over without any rookie mistakes. And he got to this place because he plays the game very well.

Can I just say that it’s about time we got people with experience running the executive branch? You know, people who don’t have to do on the job training, or will start the bargaining from a position of weakness, and who know how the web is structured so they know what threads to pull to get the whole thing moving in their direction? Politics is for politicians and this country has had plenty of really good politicians. They’re not all bad.

By all accounts he is a decent, hard working, god fearing, civil rights championing ex-governor with a heart. And he looks deadly for Trump and Pence.

Well done, Hillary. I have no doubt that she was rational and strategic and made this decision all by herself. There was no indication of second thoughts or buyer’s remorse. She also claims to be “afflicted with the responsibility gene“. As an eldest child, I know exactly where she’s coming from.

This was her first big decision and it was brilliant.

The two of them were like a crisp, bracing, joyful wind blowing away all the sturm und drang of Trump’s RNC convention speech translated from the original German.

All you lefty guys out there can relax now. (You know who you are, Joe Trippi and others too numerous to mention) This is what we saw in Hillary all along. She’ll take it from here.

 

Lighter Notes

Jaysus this week has been depressing. Let’s lighten things up around here.

For those of you who are Serial fans, Adnan Syed may be getting a new trial. Based on the evidence that was presented in a hearing a few months ago, his conviction was vacated. I think that’s a fancy way of saying, “technically, you’re innocent but we’re not done with you yet”. It’s hard to believe he could have been convicted in the first place based on such flimsy evidence -and that’s probably why I have never been selected as a juror. I’m just a f&*(ing pain in the ass with questions and not going along with the crowd. Anyway, hope he’s home soon.

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

It’s hard to believe that anything about Hillary’s email can be considered light hearted but it always amuses me when I listen to Poltical Gabfest where David Plotz, John Dickerson and Emily Bazelon twist themselves into knots over them. You can hear the frustration in their voices over the 8 years of a very secret presidency where the press that elected Obama has been fed nothing but eensy-weensy nuggets of nothing. It’s a bit ironic that the only person who we have any tinge of scandal about is Hillary and that only because the Republicans have been relentless over Benghazi. I’m sure everyone who is anyone in Washington has a private email account where they squirrel things away and it probably comes with a lot of encryption and poison pills these days.

Bazelon was uncharacteristically flummoxed over the legal reasoning why James Comey did not pursue Hillary for “gross negligence”. But I think we can all logic this out.

1.) There was no criminal intent and no evidence of any legal wrongdoing.

2.) Comey, knowing he was on the hook to deliver the goods, gives an unprecedented press conference to discuss his findings and why he isn’t going to indict. It’s the best he can do for Gowdy’s committee. There’s nothing to charge her with but he can smear her for carelessness and make her behavior look negligent and inexcusable.

3.) The problem is it wasn’t even gross negligence, which is why he was trying so hard to signal this to Gowdy et al during the hearing. He was telling them that the attack ad he gave in the press conference was as far as he could legally go. As I understand it, the State Department’s probe is going to pick up where it left off before it was so rudely interrupted and the truth about the emails is going to come out. Comey’s pronouncements were purely subjective statements that indicated the borders of his abilities to prosecute. He can’t get her for doing anything illegally with criminal intent AND he can’t get her for “gross negligence” because it doesn’t even make that threshhold either.

There’s nothing there.

Emily Bazelon, legal scholar, is smart enough to figure this out so I don’t know why she sounds so mystified about it. It’s staring her right in the face but she doesn’t want to admit it. The Comey press conference was a political hit job. It was a PERSONAL email server with nothing important on it and while the State department might have rules and guidelines, no laws were broken and no one even knew it existed until Benghazi went looking for gotcha emails.

Why do we need to see what’s in her personal email anyway, Emily? I mean, if there’s nothing classified in them of any interest, not even for the Chinese, why do we need to be snooping? I don’t think Emily has a good reason for this except that Hillary made it harder for them to do it and avoided FOIA requests. But then, the whole administration has been avoiding FOIA requests and has zipped it good and have left the media kicking the curb. They didn’t get any juicy scandal to report about for 8 long years. Later on in the podcast, they discuss a White House released description of Obama’s evening routines and note that there’s not even mention of Michelle and the girls in it. There are, however, details of exactly how many salted almonds Obama eats each evening. It’s exactly 7. It’s hillarious how the White House jerks the media’s chains especially after they were so extremely helpful getting him elected in the first place.

We tried to warn them but did they listen?

At one point, Bazelon likens Hillary’s behavior to that of Chelsea Manning’s. This shows just how disconnected the media has become over Clinton’s email. There’s no comparison between Manning and Clinton. Manning, regardless of how you feel about her motives, intentionally broke the law and leaked undeniably classified information of national importance. It’s not like apples and oranges, it’s like apples and platypuses. They’re not even in the same kingdoms.

Give it up, guys. If you pursue this, it’s going to depress your ratings. I guarantee that the only people who want this to come up in a debate between Trump and Clinton are the diehard Trump supporters and a small group of Bernie supporters experiencing a temporary psychogenic fugue state. The rest of us won’t watch the debates or will switch them off the minute the emails come up. There’s a resistant conspiracy culture growing around this issue that’s unhealthy and counterproductive going into the general election. The media has great power but it hasn’t been very responsible lately.

Yes, Emily, John and David, I’m talking about YOU and your colleagues. Grow up already.

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

Joy Womack, principal dancer for the Kremlin Ballet, is going to the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. Ballet fans know that Joy was one of the first American students to graduate from the Bolshoi ballet academy and then joined the Bolshoi itself as a soloist. But she never really got an opportunity to dance at the Bolshoi. She was in the company in the year when the director was splashed in the face with acid, an attack that was arranged by another dancer over the treatment of his girlfriend, an up and coming dancer. Joy herself was told that if she ever wanted to dance on stage, she would have to pay for the privilege. So, she left, and the Kremlin Ballet picked her up. In the last few years, she’s been working hard on classical repertoire, which bores me to tears, but whatever. She’s good at it. She’s gone through a lot of ups and downs, like alcoholic partners and unpleasant co-workers who take their anti-Americanism out on her. Plus, the pay sucks. She supports herself on her little company that makes Prima Bars.

Varna may change that. If she does well, it could give her more opportunities to dance as a guest artist for companies. I think that’s what she’s shooting for here.

Here’s one of her rehearsals for Varna with one of her more reliable and complementary partners, principal dancer Misha Martynuk and her ballet teacher, Zhanna. She’s the seated woman shouting corrections in Russian. They’re rehearsing the pas de deux for Le Corsaire first, followed by Diane and Acteon. Keep an eye out for the lift at about the 5:30 mark.  I’ve watched a lot of youtube videos of this pas and have never seen it done so effortlessly. Not even Vishneva and Acosta are this breathtaking.

The Republicans “Oh S^&*!” Moment

oh_ebd37d_221443I suspect it came on Tuesday when they realized they would have to run with The Donald they had.

They bet the whole enchilada on Hillary getting indicted. This apparent truth absolutely floors me but they seem to have talked themselves into it. How could they lose? After all, Jim Comey is one of their guys: lifelong, conservative, hard-ass Republican. Remember how he and John Ashcroft were buddies?BUT, as we have seen before, Comey has a conscience. Not much of one. It struggles under the weight of so much indoctrination from his party. Nevertheless, it surfaced at his press conference on Tuesday, buried underneath all that robotic recitation from Newt Gingrich’s “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control”, the primer that juvenile Republicans cut their teeth on.

Comey is … an apostate.

Duh-duh-duhhhhhhhh!

They just could not believe that he wasn’t going to step forward and save them from the spectacle of Hillary Clinton talking about policy and issues with Donald Trump during debates this fall. She’s not supposed to be there. Bernie is, or someone else that hasn’t been sufficiently vetted by the Democrats.

Here they were, having blown off their own primaries, confident that Comey was going to disqualify Hillary from running for president. Then they’d be home free, baby! It wouldn’t matter who their nominee was. The Democrats would be a broken party with a power vacuum at the top, babbling incoherently on CNN about climate change or something. Gowdy had to conclude the Benghazi fiasco last week, having found nothing but a series of unfortunate events. But the emails were going to finally nail Hillary FOR-EVER. Bwahahahahahhhhhhhh!

And it didn’t happen. Did they hear Comey right? Did he say no charges? No reasonable prosecutor would indict?

What about an UNreasonable prosecutor? Can we get one of those?

Turns out this is not possible.

You know, this batch of Republicans aren’t too bright. They’re not like the 90’s era Republicans who made House of Cards look like hopscotch. They haven’t got the media savvy of the Bushies who manipulated the American public into endless war and came up with such jolly and memorable slogans as “Cut and Run” and “Freedom Fries”.

OMG, this fall is going to be so ugly. They are going to get slaughtered at the polls.

 

Putting “Extremely Careless” into perspective

According to James Comey, head of the FBI who happens to be a Republican, after sifting through 50,000+ emails at a cost of millions of dollars to the taxpayer, he was able to dig up 113 emails that contained classified material. Some of this classified material was classified after the mail was sent, some was buried in email threads, which, as anyone who gets email threads at work can verify can sometimes be mind bogglingly long and hard to follow. The recipient can’t control what other people send to her.

Let’s do the math:

113 classified emails/50000 emails total = .23%. (I rounded up)

I can only assume that James Comey went through all of Condoleeza Rice’s emails and Colin Powell’s emails and Madeline Albright’s emails for comparison and that none of our three most recent Secretary of State’s emails contained anywhere close to that number of unintentional violations.

That would be about 2 tenths of 1% of emails.

What would be considered “extremely careful”? Shouldn’t Comey provide a scale so we know what would be considered rigorously careful? Presumably, 50000 emails would contain 0 classified emails unintentionally passed between communicants.

In the absence of any data from other Secretaries of State, we have no way to know just how egregiously bad Clinton’s numbers are.

So, James Comey, Republican, can say whatever he likes about the standard of care that was applied here. There is no way of knowing whether this is higher or lower than any other secretary of state who used private emails.

Ok, then.

What are you going to do? Bleed on me??

One more time:

California is still counting but I think it’s over guys.

I know that you wanted a revolution but as Thomas Jefferson once wrote,  “all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed”.

There’s a good chance that the people who voted for Clinton do not see her has the corrupt, deceitful, corporatist, neoliberal that you do. They see her has a person who has been thwarted for 25 years and has had to claw her way to this pinnacle with little or no help from anyone. And Bernie was good for her. The long, hard slog may have made her too practical. What Bernie gave her was a wake up call about where the country’s mood actually is.

But you know, you can not predict how this general election season is going to go. There’s a possibility that we could have a wave in the Senate. Is change likely in the House? Probably not, but I’m a Tolkienist, so anything is possible as long as we meet each new experience as it comes along without giving up hope.

Anyway, this is what *we* wanted but maybe not what *you* wanted. We aren’t going to apologize for it.

Come, Patsy.

 

Clinton Cocktail Party: Shattered Glass

ist1_3546928_bartender3The polls will close in NJ in about an hour from now. Time to fire up the tube and watch the first of two ceilings shatter.

Whoo-Hoo! Go New Jersey!

Update: We interrupt this cocktail party for a {{swoonworthy}} ad from Hillary’s campaign. Take a look:

Woah!

If you’re like me, you’ve been obsessively checking your phone and favorite sites during break and lunch and on the bus and since you got home. If you haven’t, here’s what you’ve missed.

Creamsicle Trump is whining about how the media is harassing him like no other candidate over his Judge Curiel remarks and his Trump University investigations and he’s not going to talk about it anymore because it’s distracting. His surrogates say the media is much nicer to Hillary.

LOLOLOLOLOLOL!

{{taking deep breath, wiping eyes}}

LOLOLOLOLOLOL!

Oh, my, this general election is going to be so much fun.

Also, for those of you who want to compare the 2016 primary vs the 2008 primary, check out the front page of the NYT, which has some nifty graphs showing just how close it was. Actually, it was closer. I’m pretty sure they’re not including the FL and MI delegates, which weren’t restored to full votes until just before the convention. The difference between Obama and Clinton was microscopic and his lead came from a lot of undemocratic caucus states, just like Bernie. Anyway, at least the media is *finally* acknowledging the shocking closeness of the 2008 primary. It’s about f&*(ing time. Now they should look into the egregious convention.

Rico is here. He came straight from the gym. We provide great benefits here at The Confluence. He’s whipping up something called a Kick in the Glass. It’s more like a dessert than a cocktail but you can order anything you like including some fine California wines.

David Gergen just said that Hillary’s nomination is not going to be as exciting as Barack Obama’s nomination.

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

{{taking deep breath, wiping eyes}}

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

Ok, where was I? Ah yes, cocktail party. Our servers are circulating with some appetizers from our primary states. Have some puffy tacos, fresh salads and crudites, buffalo sliders and steamed crab.

Our entertainment tonight is Billy Bragg and Wilco. This Woody Guthrie song goes out to our friends in California.

Everyone is welcome but please check your trigger words and concealed weapons with Florence, our enforcer. Heated arguments should be taken somewhere else. Relentless mockery is always encouraged.

Come on in.

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