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    • As Palmyra Falls to ISIS, What Are the Syrian Government’s Prospects?
      So, yet another city falls, and the city has some very nice ancient architecture, which we will no doubt soon see sledgehammered.  Some Palmyrans apparently thought the international “community” might protect them since they’re a great cultural site. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so sad. ISIS has fought well and fought smart, and came into [...]
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The Hawk Debate

Back in 2008, I took the step to ban certain words here. For example, if you used the word “racist” in a comment, your comment was auto-moderated. The reason was that whoever was operating the Obama campaign had gone on the offensive and insulted and humiliated innocent bloggers and commenters in order to shut them up. They did this by calling the dissenters racists. It didn’t matter whether we had legitimate reasons for refusing to jump on the Obama bandwagon that had nothing to do with race. An accusation of racism is extremely powerful and they knew what they were doing.

There are a few other trigger words that will get you auto-moderated. I leave discovery as an exercise for the reader. Banning the words doesn’t mean you can’t discuss the issue here. It’s just that taking specific words out of the comments section meant that no one can take the easy way out. You can’t just come here, poop in the punchbowl, and leave thinking you’ve done your job putting the old, uneducated working class Roseanne Barrs who flock here (your perception, not mine) in their place. You know, drop the late consensus reality shaping meme, use the buzzword du jour, put mean spirited peer pressure on these people and watch as they all come groveling back to your side. Nah-gah-happen. We didn’t get to 52,000+ page hits per day during the height of the nauseatingly brutal 2008 campaign season because we took the easy way out and ate our poisoned mushrooms so we would fall into line like TalkLeft and Taylor Marsh and The Left Coaster and Digby’s Hullabaloo. No, we watched what was happening, were thoroughly horrified and took it without flinching. 

As time went on, and the insults and aggression piled on, I became even less likely to vote for Obama. So, there, guys (and you were almost all guys). Good job. You pointed out to me that there was almost no level of offense or character assassination that Obama would not sanction. It spoke volumes about who was supporting him and what he was prepared to overlook in the future.

So, now we come to the topic of the day. This is a debate I have been having with Monster of the Id, who I dearly love and have no intention of banning. It’s about the word “hawk” and why it is always applied to Hillary Clinton.

It has become another one of those words. I am getting ready to auto-moderate comments featuring the word. As stated before, you can argue all you want that Hillary is the biggest supporter of the military industrial complex on the planet. But you’re going to have to show your work. You will not be able to just fling that word around willy nilly because that’s what everyone is saying about her.

Let’s recognize this word for what it is. It’s a mental shortcut that bears little resemblance to actual reality. Here’s my latest comment to Monster after he tried, once again, to explain his ambivalence towards Clinton due to her perceived “hawkishness”:

You’re missing the point. You can vote for whoever you damn well please. For all we know, Arkansas will go D in 2016, or Green or Commie. You don’t know what will happen and I don’t either.

The point is, don’t make up your mind based on the consensus reality of your side. That’s what the left did in 2008 and look who got elected? Was Obama the liberal messiah the left wanted? It fell for the whisperings and mental maneuverings and dogwhistles of the Wormtongues.

Wormtongue says that Hillary is a “hawk”. Oh really? In what way is she a hawk? What does it mean to be a hawk? What are the qualities of a hawk? How many military engagements does a person have to vote for in order to get this designation? Why isn’t John Kerry also called a hawk? Is Hillary more or less of a hawk than John Kerry or John Edwards? To what degree? Is she more or less a hawk than Lindsay Graham?

I only ask.

That’s the problem. Too few people on the left ask. They just accept. Well, someone on the left must have studied the problem, some Juan Cole person must have dug up the records and figured it out. There is no doubt in their minds that Hillary is a hawk, based on some criteria, right? Some authority figure who the left trusts did the math.
But what if no one on the left actually did?

What if it’s just a clever earworm planted there by someone with less than honorable intentions? How would you know?

Consistency is key.

Don’t try to get out of the dilemma you’re in by claiming that your vote doesn’t count or making light of it. What counts is whether everyone has an honest, consistent, unobstructed, unfiltered view of the candidate without shortcuts that terminate the thought process with facile categorization.

If she ends up wanting after you have discarded the shortcuts, fine, at least you will have done your job. But don’t cop out and tell me you can’t trust yourself to make those calls on your own.

The left bungled it badly in 2008 because it didn’t bother to do its own thinking. It became as gullibly pliable as the stupid hicks on the right that it always insists are the authoritarian followers who will swallow any moronic, self-defeating message their right wing leaders throw out there. We Conflucians watched as previously smart people on the left fell for love bombing and conversion diaries, peer pressure and trigger words. They did not distinguish themselves.

Don’t let it happen again.

Like I said, you can vote for whoever fills out your dance card. Make a matrix, put the names of the candidates on the Y axis and the issues you care about on the X axis. Check off the boxes, based on what you hear directly from the candidates or have read about from the most neutral sources you can find. Then, vote for the person who gets the most checks on the grid.

One thing I will predict right now: you’re going to have to figure out what the definition of hawk really means before you check that box for Hillary.

Wormtongues

I read with dismay yet another stupid story in the NYTimes about Hillary Clinton this morning. It’s going to be a long 18 months.

This time, it was about how progressives are pressuring her to kiss their asses. I wonder why she is even bothering at this point to give them any attention at all. They’re never going to like her, trust her, believe her, even if she really is the best thing they’ve got right now. They can’t see her for what she is and can’t appreciate what she’s got to offer them. It’s almost as if they’re under some kind of spell:

If you ever wondered what happened to Wormtongue, he left Meduseld “to spend more time with his family” and went to work for the NYTimes after working for a marketing research firm on Wall Street in 2008.

This sentence cracks me up:

Mrs. Clinton cheerily welcomed Mr. Sanders into the race, even as she works to deny Mr. Sanders or any other liberal an issue on which to bloody her from the left.

Are you serious? Sanders entering the race is the best thing that could have happened to Clinton. Now, there is another credible person on the left. Sanders is passionate, he speaks well, he’s rational. He doesn’t have the air of dweeb about him like Kucinich and he doesn’t come off as being an unrealistic “knit your own sandals” type who is going to make us eat a raw vegan diet with a heavy emphasis on organic beets. His concern is primarily about the very real erosion of the standard of living of most working Americans today.

He adds weight to the left side of the field. The longer he stays in the race, the better for Clinton. That means it won’t be six silly nobodies trying to out-mean each other on the right sucking all of the air out of the room and one woman defending the left all by herself. It means that issues might actually get discussed that aren’t all on the ultra conservative right. It means she won’t have to be so defensive. It means there will be a clear difference between the two political sides.

Damn straight she’s cheery.

Duh.

But the left is convinced that she’s with the enemy. In a way, I kinda understand it. They were completely taken in by Wormtongue in 2008. That was a disaster.

Still, the real enemies have almost won. It’s bad out here. And here the left is, sitting in its golden hall, lapsing into a coma like some crusty old dude enchanted by some evil wizards. Utterly feckless and hostile to the people who are begging it to get its act together and fight back. It’s almost like someone doesn’t want people with a common cause to become allies…

Suit yourselves. I’m going with the white haired guy and the blonde lady.

Forth Eorlingas!

Yard Work

IMG_2023The weather was awesome yesterday so I and one of my younger cousins spent the day outdoors cleaning up leaves and mowing and trimming hedges and all that fun stuff.

And then we went to the Oakmont Bakery to get a sugar rush from pistachio macarons and donuts.

On the job front, I have a temp position with regular hours but still no bennies. It’s great, except for the no bennies thing, and the fact that it’s going to end in about a month when the permanent employee returns. I like the floor I’m on. There are enough toys to assuage the gadget fiend in me. Plus, once I got behind the wheel again, the computer skills all came back within a couple of hours. The job is not in the computational chemistry field but I could live with it. It’s also on a collaboration floor. I do the team thing pretty well but the floor concept is new to me. BUT, it’s still just a temp job, which sucks. And the pay is just a little bit less than it would take to make me relatively stress free. So, there’s that. I’m still in job search mode. If you had told me two years ago that I would still be looking for a job like this, I would have called you crazy. It’s beyond exasperating.

As for Hilary’s announcement, you’ll find out more about my attitudes towards that pretty soon from a different source. Bottom line: her announcement video showed people in a more positive stage in their lives than me. I’m not feeling it yet, specifically because of the struggle I have faced to find a new job. Clinton may be leading us there but I’m not anywhere near being in the mood. The country has not come out of “tough economic times” yet.

Will I support her? Yes. And here is the reason: if I were a hiring manager and I got a dozen CV’s from people like Clinton, Christie, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, even Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton would be far and away the leading finalist for the job. She’s got the most experience, in the most areas, she has a network of associates she can call on for assistance to push her agenda, she’s got a mentor and she’s passionate about policy. No other candidate in the field is going to come close. And what all those attributes give her is a measure of independence that the other candidates will not have. Think about that for awhile and it will make sense. It also means there will be a lot of people, in both parties, who will not like for her to get the nomination because she won’t be so easy to control.

Just because she’s the best the country has doesn’t mean it’s going to be a cakewalk.

Ok, there’s one other thing I want to talk about. It’s about the PUMAs. I see no reason to run away from the fact that we were PUMAs in 2008. That just stood for Party Unity My Ass and it was our way of protesting how the DNC took the money from Obama’s donors, rewrote the primary campaign rules, disenfranchised 18000000 of us and then told us to get behind the ruthlessly ambitious, inexperienced shmoozer who became the party’s nominee or risk being called an ignorant, uneducated, old, bitter racist. Oh, HELL no. I was not going along with that program and I’m shocked that any loyal Democrat would give up their vote just to protect themselves from vicious group peer pressure. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.

But the PUMA groups went their separate ways after the election. If I were being honest, I would say we started going our separate ways in October of 2008 when I sensed that some PUMA groups were so angry that they were willing to go beyond a protest vote. In the aftermath of the election, the rift between us and the other PUMAs became more pronounced. We evolved but stuck pretty closely to our credo. They went the Tea Party route. It’s safe to say that we haven’t had any contact with other PUMAs since the early part of 2009. We aren’t BFFs, we don’t Facebook, we don’t belong to some super special sauce email group. If there is a widespread belief out there that that’s what’s going on with us and the PUMAs, let me dispel it now.

Nevertheless, that’s who we were and there’s no point in hiding it. It’s possible that the PUMAs on this blog had a different concept of what that term meant than other PUMA groups. It’s safe to say that some operatives on the right saw a certain segment of PUMAs as potential converts. That didn’t include US. As far as we were concerned, the concept had lost its usefulness and it was time to move beyond that. I only regret that I didn’t spend more time organizing some kind of umbrella group that would have been a more effective promoter of behaviors we would have liked to have seen in our elected officials. We should have had something to counteract the Tea Party. Instead, we left a vacuum. And that’s not good.

So, there you have it. There will probably be more to say later in the week. But right now, I am focussing on work. It’s the most important thing on my mind right now.

And mulch.

 

 

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.

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