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      MANDOS POST Take a look at Joe Biden—he appears to have, for now at least, considerable staying power in the Democratic primary opinion polls (although, of course, this may change as the actual primaries come through). If your model of political psychology can predict a strong core of popular support for Trump without also predicting […]
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Thursday: overslept


You may have to jump

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Just sayin’.  You can discover more about Dietrich Bonhoeffer at this Speaking of Faith podcast.

Right to Lifer gunman kills two at Boston abortion clinics.  Time to take matters into your own hands, ladies and get government out of your uterus.  Go underground.

Tennessee Guerilla Women posted this movie trailer the other day about what women face in this country.  Funny how you tend to get used to this crap.

500 years, eh?  Well. *that* sucks.  What we need is a woman starting her OWN network, delivering the news in a gender neutral fashion, you know someone like Oprah.

Oh wait, she was the one who gave us Obama.  Nevermind.

The New York Times reports that the nomination of the next Republican candidate for president may be out of the party’s hands.  Yeah, and I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn.  Are you kidding me?  Republicans are the ultimate control freaks.  I take that back.  The 2008 DEMOCRATS were the ultimate control freaks.  If Hillary had been running in the Republican primaries in 2008, she would have had the whole thing sewn up on superdupertuesday and Obama would have spent the next four years in the Senatorial obscurity he was showing such a talent for.

Tom Watson has a review of the book “You Are Not a Gadget” by Jaron Lanier.  Watson argues that Lanier’s point is that social networking technology has the capacity to dehumanize us and makes us vulnerable to those who seek power.  I would argue that that has already happened (see quote at top of page).  Here’s the money quote from Watson’s review:

Lanier’s point is that by reducing personality and the wide sweep of human thought into chunks that can fit easily into databases and digested through clever widely-popular front end designs, the possibility for horrific “crowd-sourced” activity is that much greater. To put it simply, the good guys don’t always win. Throughout history, they’ve often been shouted down by crowds. While it’s impossible to argue with the sunny opening lines of the introduction to Yochai Benkler’s seminal Internet text The Wealth of Networks – “Information, knowledge and culture are central to human freedom and human development” – and to sympathize with a point of view that argues that great access to those qualities improves the lot of mankind, Lanier’s warnings also seem in tune with the times.

It’s not crazy to worry that, with millions of people connected through a medium that sometimes brings out their worst tendencies, massive, fascist-style mobs could rise up suddenly. I worry about the next generation of young people around the world growing up with internet-based technology that emphasizes crowd aggregation, as is the current fad. Will they be more likely to succumb to pack dynamics when they come of age?

That kind of thinking flies in the face of a more utopian view of free information, embodied in hacker philosopher Richard Stallman’s famous ’90s proclamation that when “information is generally useful, redistributing it makes humanity wealthier no matter who is distributing and no matter who is receiving.” I’d naturally ask “what does generally useful mean?” and Lanier goes a step further, noting that the free flow of information also brings large-scale vitriol to arguments between semi-anonymous actors on the Net. “What’s to prevent the acrimony from scaling up? Unfortunately, history tells us that collectivist ideas can mushroom into large-scale social disasters.”

My question is how do we alert the general public to let the Tweeter beware?

Mecca is becoming the Las Vegas of Saudi Arabia.  High on tacky kitsch, low on fun?  There won’t be any commercials with the tag line, “What happens on Hajj, stays in Mecca”.

E. J. Dionne is running down the corridor as he tries to rehabilitate Obama in Rekindling Hope in Liberalism.  He uses the standard whiny reason:

For the president’s loyalists, of course, this indictment is profoundly unfair. He inherited a mess at home and abroad. The economic downturn began on Bush’s watch, but its bitter fruits were harvested after Obama took office. By contrast, Franklin Roosevelt took power after Herbert Hoover had presided over three of the most miserable years in American economic history. Blame was firmly fixed on Hoover by the time FDR showed up with his jaunty smile and contagious optimism.

And, yes, there is the small issue of Obama’s real achievements, the health care law above all. If insuring 32 million more Americans is not an enormous social reform, then nothing can be said to count as change. The now well-rehearsed list of additional accomplishments — from Wall Street and student loan reform to the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” to the simple fact that the economy’s catastrophic slide was halted and reversed — would, in the abstract, do any administration proud.

I would have written that first line of the second paragraph as “And, yes, there is the real issue of Obama’s small achievements…” E. J. is still clinging to the idea that no one could have known how bad it was going to be so it was perfectly reasonable to nominate the candidate with the least practical experience in our lifetimes to become president.  I simply can’t take this reasoning seriously when the poor performance was avoidable.  But the E.J. goes one better and has the nerve to lecture *us*:

And both the liberals and Obama need to escape the bubbles of legislative and narrowly ideological politics and re-engage the country on what can only be called a spiritual level. Modern American liberalism is not some abstract and alien creed. At its best, it marries a practical, get-things-done approach to government with a devotion to fairness, justice and compassion. These sentiments are grounded in the nation’s religious traditions and also in our commitment to community-building that Alexis de Tocqueville so appreciated.

Stop laughing.  Yes, he really said this.  E.J. needs to get out of his own bubble.  The “achievements” aren’t.  By practical standards, the health care reform bill was a bomb.  The mandate was an outrage in the absence of competition.  If you have stagnant wages and fear that you’re going to lose your job, the last thing you need is yet another expense you can’t afford that doesn’t result in something better than you already had.  The TARP bills rescued the banks and left everyone else hold the bag.  The stimulus bill was too small.  HAMP is almost criminal.

I don’t know who the hell E.J. has been talking to but from a practical, non-abstract, working class POV, this president has been an abject failure.  You don’t have to be a liberal to realize that but liberals have every reason to have expected better than this.  I don’t believe in the self-esteem movement where everyone gets a gold star for trying.  I believe you have no right to think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread until you’ve proven yourself. Republicans aren’t becoming suddenly sexy again because regular Americans are crazy about conservatism .  There are two reasons why Republicans are winning: 1.) Americans don’t buy the boosterism of the current administration.  No one believes in Recovery Summer or Recovery Fall or Recovery Winter or whatever nonsense they’re spouting this week.  They’re believing their lying eyes. and 2.) When your base stays home in disgust, that leaves the  Fox News viewers who have been emotionalized by Glenn Beck and abortion as the motivated voters who actually go to the polls.

You can’t reason the Democrats’ failures away by blaming the voters’ perceptions, E.J.  What the Democrats need to do if they want to recapture the public is to start acting more like Democrats.  Ooops!  Too late, they’ve lost the House and they’re preemptively capitulating before the Republicans even officially take over.  Don’t think the public doesn’t notice.

What the public *might* notice is Ed Rendell. Yeah, I think the idea of football being played in a blizzard is sort of stupid too.  But this is Philadelphia.  It’s not a city of wusses.  And Ed Rendell may be the rough and tough, unibrowed Democrat the party needs to man up.  BTW, that’s just a figure of speech.  Apparently, Ed Rendell plucks his brows.  And this is not an endorsement.  It’s just an idle speculation.

But I do take issue with some of this articles’ points.  For example, Ed probably did say  “that his state was full of “conservative whites” who were “probably not ready to vote for an African- American candidate.”  This is true.  There are a lot of areas in the middle of the state that fly confederate flags on their porches.  HOWEVER, those porches belong to Republicans.  How do I know that?  I talked to the canvassers who visited those areas.  They had the party affiliation sheets with the addresses.  The Democrats that I spoke to while phone banking in Harrisburg were of the opinion that they wanted an experienced person in the White House.  They were hurt that people were calling them bigots and they said they were willing to vote for Obama some time down the road.  So, Ed really needs to be clear about who his constituents are and what they are thinking.

Things to keep your eye on:  Senator Bernie Sanders, of filibernie fame, will be on Thom Hartmann’s show today to discuss the year in review.  The schedule thingy looks a little chaotic to me so check back periodically for the stream.

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