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What I want to hear from Hillary if she decides to run

1.) That it is immoral for the finance industry or any industry to engage in exploitative profit mining of Americans.

2.) That the definition of success is more than how much money you make. That there is intrinsic value to many occupations that has nothing to do with the ability to exploit one’s neighbors or accumulating a hoard of cash that doesn’t serve the public good.

3.) Infrastructure in the United States requires immediate attention. That means broadband, highways and bridges, and mass transit.

4.) That retirement for most Americans is going to be a crisis situation and she plans to address the 401K ponzi scheme with expanded Social Security.

5.) That we don’t know at what temperature the earth will find its melting point so it is important to evolve away from fossil fuels.

6.) That it is more important to “Have courage and be kind” than invade other countries and cruelly kick people when they’re down.

7.) That truly good Christians do not delight in the misfortunes of others, are not proud, and don’t sound like clanging gongs when they insist on their “religious freedoms” at the expense of others.

Add what you want to hear in the comments below.

Disgusting (but not surprising) if true: Valerie Jarret allegedly leaked email scandal.

Consider the source. It’s the NYPost. Here’s the blurb:

Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett leaked to the press details of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail address during her time as secretary of state, sources tell me.

But she did so through people outside the ­administration, so the story couldn’t be traced to her or the White House.

In addition, at Jarrett’s behest, the State Department was ordered to launch a series of investigations into Hillary’s conduct at Foggy Bottom, including the use of her expense account, the disbursement of funds, her contact with foreign leaders and her possible collusion with the Clinton Foundation.

Six separate probes into Hillary’s performance have been ­going on at the State Department. I’m told that the e-mail scandal was timed to come out just as Hillary was on the verge of formally announcing that she was running for president — and that there’s more to come.

Like I said, this might all be made up. I’ll wait to see confirmation.

Setting aside the animosity and rancor that the Obama campaign generated by its scorched earth tactics against Hillary in 2008 (Accusations of racism and skin darkening photos anyone? How about the classy photo of Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau groping the breast of a life-size Hillary cutout?), we have to remember that Obama was funded by Wall Street. When Wall Street had to pick a candidate to support to ensure that it suffered none of the consequences for its reckless behavior, it picked Obama, not Hillary.

One was rehab and the other was an enabler. In the years since, I haven’t seen Wall Street making amends, have you? It still might control the horizontal and the vertical.

So, while I have no reason to believe this NYPost story (yet), let’s just say that nothing would surprise me at this point.

And in retrospect, it was probably wise for Hillary to put her emails on a private server. Some of us can’t trust our bosses to not snoop even at the highest levels of power.

More from the article. This part is totally unbelievable, as in, it can’t possibly be true that anyone actually said this with a straight face:

With his wife and Jarrett looking on, Obama made it clear that he intended to stay neutral in the presidential primary process — a clear signal that he wouldn’t mind if someone challenged Hillary for the nomination.

“Obama and Valerie Jarrett will go to any lengths to prevent Hillary from becoming president,” a source close to the White House told me. “They believe that Hillary, like her husband, is left of center, not a true-blue liberal.”

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! {{short breath}} LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

Who is this “source close to the White House” and who do they think is their target audience? That’s the stupidest thing I have read in years. Only an Obot would believe that Obama is more true-blue than Hillary and only a Tea Party person would think that Obama is liberal at all. Is this source targeting aspirational Democrats with a latent conservative leaning that they keep in the closet or are they targeting people who read the NYPost?

Jeez, she hasn’t even announced she’s running yet and the party is already in full swing.

Fun, fun! Let the games begin!

Here we go again with the old, stupid analysis of the 2008 campaign

The NYTimes has a piece up about Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s new data guru.

Woah! Hillary hired a data guru?? This changes EVERYTHING. Wow, if she had only had this dude back in 2008, the whole campaign would have been different! He’s a game changer. He likes “social media”. That’s something new to the Clintons. Her supporters, you know, those old, uneducated, working class, mouth breathers have probably never even heard of twitter and Facebook and sophisticated stuff like that.

{{snicker!}}

Either the NYTimes is setting out to deliberately insult us and the Clinton campaign or it really believes that Barack Obama “won” the nomination due to his technological superpowers.

There is nothing wrong with bringing in new consultants and if Robby Mook can bring something special to the table by his mastery of SpotFire and other data analytical tools, more power to him.

But, please, let us dispense with the notion of Barack Obama “winning” through advanced and sophisticated use of data. That is not what happened. No, Obama “won” because a flood of money was pumped into the coffers of the Democratic party in February 2008 from a bunch of sophisticated wealthy donors on Wall Street and probably a good many of them were country club Republicans who were more than happy to flirt with the other side in order to avoid financial disaster that they knew was coming. They used that money to buy off super delegates, many of whom were running for office. The party put pressure on everyone to turn away from the Clintons.

Hillary was winning handily in February of that year. Her only problem at that time was that the party deliberately withheld her wins in Florida and Michigan in order to make it look like a tight race and that Barack Obama was starting to overtake her.

It was a matter of managed perceptions. That’s all. The use of data did not help Barack Obama in California, Florida, Michigan (where he wasn’t even on the ballot), Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Texas, blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum. He lost those states, sometimes by significant margins. Obama didn’t win any of these big Democratic states with the exception of, what? Illinois? He won places like Utah. OoooOOOooo! So much data to sift through in Utah. Indeed, the biggest scandal involving the Clintons was how they were betrayed by their own party in 2008.

As for the general election, Obama’s only real triumph was that he successfully ran against Sarah Palin.

Ta-da!

Can we just stop with these silly hagiographic legends of Obama’s strategic intelligence already?? Clinton’s contingent wasn’t old or unsophisticated. Oh, look! I can install, manage and use WordPress! I have a twitter account! I hate Facebook for many reasons but I know how users are manipulated on it. Indeed, I know how DailyKos was turned into a giant focus group for people like Robby Mook to data mine. There are many, many Clinton supporters who know how to use a computer, tablet, smart phone, etc. How does that make me different from an Obot except I actually know when I’m being manipulated?

It’s not that I’m irritated, frustrated or offended by the constant mischaracterization of Clinton’s contingent. It’s that this narrative of old, unsophisticated and technologically behind Clinton overlooks the reason why she was winning so many states and had such a devoted, dedicated following. What the media missed in 2008 was that Hillary Clinton came into her own in 2008. She started off tentatively, relying too heavily on Mark Penn’s own version of data analytics, but became burnished by the fire of being the perceived underdog whether that was true or not.

We saw her fight in the rain, on the back of flatbed trucks, through the heckles of “why won’t she quit??” and “brush the dirt of my shoulders” and “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” and she kept on going and going like the Energizer Bunny. Adversity made her amazing. She was the one everyone wanted precisely because she wasn’t bought and paid for and gently carried over the finish line.

Data did not make Barack Obama a great politician. It didn’t even help him win. Take away the giant Charlotte’s Web that was paid for by America’s Most Wanted and you have an inexperienced, ruthlessly ambitious guy who has proven to be out of his depth, just as we predicted he would be.

So, it’s great to see Robby Mook join the throng. I hope he is as tirelessly devoted to her as she deserves and doesn’t, you know, sell her donors’ list to the highest bidder. Just do your job, Robby, and do it well. She is more than capable of doing the rest.

Secrecy and the Press: which came first?

Hillary’s emails at State might remain secret and away from prying eyes. Media freaks out accordingly.

Let’s see if I have this right. The media, such as the undead Andrea Mitchell, make a big stinking deal about everything Hillary Clinton does for 30 years, insisting it has the right, nay, the duty, to go through her underwear drawers looking for evidence of, of, well, nevermind that, when we find it, we’ll construct a narrative around it.

The undeads, prematurely decomposing before our very eyes, drag their target through many trials and tribulations, including scandals about billing records, scandals about friends who commit suicide, scandals about non-existent scandals about real estate investments that didn’t produce a generous ROI. The target has secrets that the undead is mindlessly driven to uncover. Secrets. “SSSEEEEEECCCCRRETS“, they sussurate as they stagger through the decades. Even as she outruns them, they manage to catch up, pounding on her door demanding SSEEEEEEEECRRRRRETTTS.

In the process, the target, being a live, sentient being, with the ability to learn and adapt to her environment, begins to understand that every interaction with the world can now be considered sustenance for the undead. So, she takes defensive measures and hides anything she doesn’t want taken out of context and twisted into some hideously misshapen, unrecognizable thing.

And now, the undead scream “Aha! We told you she was secretive!”

At this point, it shouldn’t be surprising if our protagonist rolls her eyes and ignores them.

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

Following up on what Peter Daou is exposing as the words that the right and the media use to describe Hillary (jeez, it sounds like something Newt Gingrich might have written in his infamous “Language: a Key Mechanism of Control” pamphlet. Wait. How do we know he didn’t write them?), I have assembled a similar list of words that the left uses.

The left will deny this (because it thinks rather highly of itself) but it is as prone to trigger words and propaganda techniques as the right. In the case of Hillary Clinton, there may be a certain segment of left purists who will not be satisfied with anything less than a knit-your-own-sandals, pacifistic, raw vegan, self-sacrificing type who grows her own GMO free biodegradable fuel source. Never mind that that kind of politician, if she even deigns to dip her little toe into such a filthy pursuit as politics, is completely unelectable. Hillary will never be able to meet the standards of these people.

But there is a vast segment in between them and, well, us, who are very vulnerable to anti-Clinton messaging. The former blogger Anglachel tentatively identified them as the “male grad student” demographic. These are the kiss ass sycophants who hope to make it up the career ladder by styling themselves as “creative class” and glomming on to disgruntled former Clinton administration officials or rivals. Many of them were too young to actually remember with accuracy what went on during the Clinton years when the GOP started flexing its muscle and went where few parties had gone before. Remember, it was Newt who shut down government back in 1995-96. Oh, you don’t remember? {{rolling eyes}}

Anyway, here are a list of words that this segment falls prey to with respect to the Clintons. For all I know, there are elements of the right invading comments sections of popular blogs and online newspapers, dropping these little rosebuds and then getting their colleagues to recommend the comments. That’s how they reach the top of the recommended comments list and convince other human herd animals that they have validity and should be emulated. This was a technique used to great success on DailyKos in 2008.

Here are the words:

inevitable, dynasty, entitled, war hawk, hawkishness, DLC, corporatist, insider, Wall Street candidate

urrrgghghhh! don’t those words just grate on your nerves??

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Wall Street trigger word is particularly funny because back in 2008 when Wall Street decided to back a candidate to save itself from the looming disaster it already saw coming, it didn’t pick Hillary. (Watch the creative classer’s head start to vibrate.) But never mind, Wall Street has always loved her (or so we are told) and now that it has let Obama go first (this is the most ridiculous rationalization I have ever heard), it will let Hillary go next. From what I can see, Wall Street, and its media minions, is not yet convinced it wants Hillary. We shall see.

Meanwhile, the undead remind me a lot of the courtiers of some medieval king, striving for status and hoping to not find their placecards below the salt.

The Conflucian policy advice to Hillary Clinton on economics

It’s a bit much for one dragon.

She didn’t ask for my opinion but she’s getting 200 advisors to tell her theirs. The problem she is facing is how to rebalance the country in terms of income inequality without, you know, pissing off the ultra wealthy. I’m not sure it can be done. A little bit of a snit is to be expected in all likelihood. Although, maybe she could have someone from Vox put together one of those cool and groovy graphics that demonstrate that no matter how hard the vanishing middle class works, we will never be able to afford our own yachts. That might bring a tear to the eyes of the 1%. The graphics should show how big a boat you can buy on a lifetime of $32000/year (if you’re lucky enough to get that these days) compared to what Steve Ballmer can buy.

Ok, so what would I recommend? Well, the rich are not going to like this but I’m not really interested in how the rich feel about these things. I’m only interested in bringing back prosperity, income security and innovation to the American middle class. It’s not all about them, except they are behaving like greedy dragons sitting on a giant pile of gold. If they’d just get off the stash we wouldn’t have any problems with the rich. I don’t envy their wealth and don’t want to be like them. I just want to be fairly compensated without feeling like I just got a handout that i didn’t deserve.

What I see as the biggest obstacle to income equality is what I call “exploitative profit mining”. That is the idea that Americans  can be harvested for various wealth through rents, fees and deregulation. I don’t want to feel like a crop anymore. The number one biggest policy initiative that I would propose is to eliminate the incentives to take advantage of everyday Americans simply because there is no one making sure it doesn’t happen. Than means reregulation. I can already hear the screams and howls from the flaming swamp monsters of the ridiculously rich. We can start at Wall Street. Let’s stop rewarding excessive financialization and risk taking. Maybe this would mean that Wall Street bonuses have to be capped at no more than 15% of income. That’s right, give those guys a straight salary. Maybe this would mean you can’t work an analyst to death at 100 hours a week. Go through every industry and increase the compensation to all stakeholders, not just the shareholders. Hire good managers and stop making CEOs co-owners who have an incentive to increase the values of their options at everyone else’s expense. That’s not socialism. That’s fairness.

Speaking of shareholders, I would like to see an alternative to the 401K. Americans should not be forced to gamble their retirement savings at a global casino. It’s immoral to require non-wealthy Americans to do this. Sorry, I’m not into it. I don’t like risk, especially when I’m going to have to live on that money. Plus, the 401K system undermines industries and innovations that create jobs. We have all seen investments gain in value when jobs are eliminated. The work still has to be done but it’s sent overseas or heaped onto the backs of people who are left after the lay off bloodbath. It’s inefficient and it destroys wealth of the middle class. Again, shareholders are not the only people who count. Bring back defined benefit pensions.

Medicare for all. There I said it. It’s ridiculous that anyone in this country has to be at risk of losing everything they’ve worked for all of their lives because cruelty is the flavor of the day on TV and radio. Let’s stop beating people when they’re down. If there are going to be sacrifices, everyone should have to make them, including the people getting rich on hip joint replacements and hospital beds. If you can’t get Medicare for all, at least impost cost controls and uniform fee schedules. Insurance companies shouldn’t have to negotiate different payments for each course of treatment based on how much profit providers think they can reap. Obamacare is not the wonderful panacea it’s been made out to be and it was never supposed to control costs. Let’s stop lying about it.

For god’s sakes, do something about long term unemployment. We’ve been hanging out here for too long. The jobs numbers are not telling the whole story. There are too many part time positions, too many temp positions and salaries are too low. Plus, ageism is rampant. Those of us who have decades to go before we can retire need to live on something. In the meantime, our lives are on hold. We can’t spend money because we don’t have it. That’s a drag on the economy and it depresses the wages of everyone else. People in the sciences especially need help. There’s a blighted generation that needs to be working. Set up some  private-public research labs, pay us a living wage and let’s get on with it already. We’re being wasted out here.

Those are some of my suggestions. I can think of a zillion more. We need to work on infrastructure, especially broadband. We need to gradually free ourselves from fossil fuel. The lefties will make climate change the reason but I’m just as interested in loosening the control of the super rich oil barons on the rest of our lives. Their price manipulations affect everything from mass transit initiatives to food prices. We should be allowed to choose whether we want to be owned by oil. I choose not to.

By the way, I don’t want profit sharing. I want a nice, steady income with a living wage. I’ve seen profit sharing schemes and they’re not serious. They are no substitute for stability. Our corporate overlords have a different value system than average Americans. Some of us do not want to be our own bosses, aren’t particularly turned on by playing capitalist games and just want the sweet relief of a regular paycheck. Recognize this. It’s important. Let’s stop measuring success in terms of how many yachts we can buy. Success can mean many things from discovering a new drug to being the best baker around. It’s not all about money.

I invite other Confucians to chime in here. What would your advice be to Hillary?

Finally, here is a video from one of my favorite straight talking Australians, Jane Caro. Caro has a background in advertising but she has been a popular speaker on education and feminism as well. In this video, Caro speaks about Dangerous Ideas. Her bit on quotas for women on boards and other institutions is brilliant. Not to be missed. So, I would add as a final suggestion to Hillary to institute a Gender Glasses program like they have in Finland. That is a government office that actually gathers cold, hard statistics from workplaces that demonstrate whether there is discrimination that prevents women from succeeding. No more “he said/she said”. If statistics are good enough in sports, they’re good enough to prove sexism in the workplace. Let’s measure everything. This country is way too deferential to men’s needs and ignores the economic impact on women’s lives.

Fast forward to about the 3 minute mark to Jane’s introduction.

“Those who were made can be unmade”

Enforcing the Quartering Act of 1774

In a news cycle, the report that Brian Williams is taking a brief sabbatical is already old. But what does it mean?

The last time we had a major news anchor step down it was definitely a political move. Dan Rather dared to expose George W. Bush’s service records. I don’t know which was worse: that a trusted name in news who covered in person some of the major news of his era was deposed or that we were subjected to the mind numbingly boring subject of kerning. Count me among the people who believe the records were genuine. His political enemies took him out anyway. That was to meant to be an example to the rest of us. Step over the line and we will finish you.

We all know how hyping misinformation can ruin a person’s reputation. This is what Vince Foster complained about before he committed suicide. But what could be behind this latest attack on the news?

Could it be a warm up to making Hillary Clinton’s campaign a living hell? Hmmm. Interesting possibility. But she’s been through this stuff before and she continues to learn from her experiences. That should trouble the opposition greatly. There’s nothing worse than someone who continually gets whaled on who figures it out. It could still be a rough campaign season if she decides to run but the results might not be as predictable as they were 20 or even 8 years ago.

Could it be something that has happened in the wake of the FCC chairman’s decision to treat the internet as a public utility? I have no idea how Williams’ forced leave would tie into that but telecomm/networks are not happy about that decision, even if we don’t know exactly how it would play out yet. Maybe they’re getting their ducks in a row for some serious push back. MSNBC is (was) seen as slavishly devoted to Obama so who knows.

Following up on that, maybe NBC needs a more compliant anchor going into the 2016 campaign season. You know, someone like Keith Olbermann in 2008 who will sell out his principles in order to push one candidate over another.  Someone without so many annoying scruples. Hmmm, who could it be, who could it be?

Or maybe this is a symptom of a much more serious problem. Maybe the military is getting way too powerful and is indicating its willingness to call the shots. Brian Williams becomes its new poster child. Even mild transgressions will be punished severely.

[Slightly off topic: Although I have seen some grants restored in the wake of the disastrous sequester of 2013, I am still running into people who continue to be laid off or quit academia as a result of losing grant money. In the last month, I met three more  academic scientists, a biochemist, a pharmacologist, and a neuroscientist who are out of work. They all had PhDs and were long time employees of a major university here. The neuroscientist told me that the grants for disease related research he had worked on had been replaced with grants from the DOD for research on traumatic brain injury. If you want to study that, which is important, the grant money is great. If you want to study dementia or some other brain disease, ehhhh, not so much. So, he left. The couple said grants had pretty much dried up for them as well and it seemed to be the primary way their salaries were funded, so they were out. Well, if you’re a conservative legislator, maybe you don’t think medical research is something the government should be doing. That’s something the private sector should be doing. Maybe they missed the memo on translational research. Or maybe all that sciencey stuff reminds them too much of climate research. Traumatic brain injury is more concrete. It’s something they can wrap their heads around, and their constituents at home, who sent a $#*!load of young healthy servicemen to get blown up in Iraq, are demanding it. Who knows? I only speculate. But if you are suffering from schizophrenia or heart disease, well, you’re SOL again. Better to get your noggin scrambled by an IED.]

Anyway, getting back to the military, now that the House and Senate are run by Republicans, I expect the military to get even more of the precious tax revenue that we can’t bring ourselves to spend on other stuff like, oh, I don’t know, student loans, crumbling bridges and school lunches. The defense contractors may see themselves as a previously underprivileged group that now has the total attention of legislators. This is maybe the reason why standing armies were considered problematic once upon a time. If you have them sitting around, all geared up with nothing to do, they’re going to get antsy.

Better not cross them.

Again, just idle speculation…

Update: I rarely read MoDo anymore but her column today is about Brian Williams. She says his tendency to exaggerate was well known among other journalists. He used to do it in private. It may have been doing it on TV that brought him down. The Facebook pushback got too hot.

Oh, please. This is silly. You don’t take out an anchor because people don’t like the way he tells his war stories. Did the US military embed journalists when they went to Iraq or didn’t they?

I’m not buying this very facile explanation. There’s a reason why Williams is getting the boot. We just don’t know what it is yet.

Here’s another post musing on why Williams is about to get the sack. Three possible reasons are cited but the bottom line is that if Williams’ war stories rise to the level of dismissal, there are a whole bunch of anchors and journalists who deserve it as well. Why single out this guy?

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

One other thing: TV and cable news are baaaad for you. They can make your brain rot. It’s bad because the audio portion combined with imagery can be crafted in such a way as to provoke a strong emotional response. Emotional responses to important events can short circuit rational responses to those events. They can make you want to start a stupid, money sucking land war in Asia. I don’t watch TV and cable news but I can’t stop anyone else from watching. All I can do it point out that you’re vulnerable to button pushing if you do watch it.

I also don’t listen to NPR anymore either. After it hired Juan Williams and others during the Bush era, I just felt it had drifted too far away from its original mission. This was probably not NPR’s fault but when political appointees started messing around with PBS and NPR funding, erosion of standards was bound to happen. I can’t listen to it now. My ears detect too much change. It’s just sad. As Sinclair Lewis once said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!

I get my news from written sources and my eyes carefully scan the text for trigger words.

Meta: Reflections on Race and Gender

If you haven’t read this post by Digby at Hullabaloo on the media gearing up to use the 2008 election campaign tactics as a way to crush women politicians in 2016, go read it now. I’ll wait.

In this one post, Digby comes so close to seeing the political landscape the way we did back in 2008. What she writes makes perfect sense but at the last moment, the thought-stopping conditioning springs into action and she calls anyone who draws the obvious conclusions racists.

I don’t have time to clear this up for her but I will say that we called the phenomenon that she is describing as “Penis Years” back in 2008. That is, no woman, no matter how much experience she has, regardless of her accomplishments, is as qualified as a man who simply wants the job. The presence of a penis adds eight to ten years of authority to his CV over any female that gets uppity enough to get in his way. This is hardly relegated to politics. It’s rampant in the private sector as well.

As for the racism aspect of all this, that’s in the mind of the beholder and that was the whole point of the 2008 campaign exercises. There are some Democrats who saw two potential interest group constituencies and through clever messaging, made sure that sexism was combined with the desire to finish the Civil Rights movement. It’s called marketing.

I think we can all agree after six long, painful years that Obama was not ready to be president, that his candidacy was rushed by some self-interested financial industry donors and that he has been the most conservative Democratic president of our lifetimes. He got the nomination using Penis Years reasoning and his campaign was ruthless in describing anyone who opposed him as a racist. The fact that some political scientists are making a bungling mess of pointing out this reality doesn’t make it less true. The legacy of the 2008 “Bros vs Hos” campaign is going to haunt the first woman nominee no matter who she is. We will be lead to wonder whether another inexperienced, less than competent in a time of economic crisis president is going to be shoved down our throats to satisfy some politically correct teachable moment.

You can pretend this is not true but when both Amanda Marcotte and Digby start writing posts about Penis Years in the lead up to 2016, they are actually acknowledging this fact.

I guess they are racists now.

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