According to Dan Balz at WaPo, Ohio may be key to Obama’s reelection. He won’t necessarily lose the presidency if he loses Ohio. It’s just that no one since Jack Kennedy has been able to pull it off. Obama apparently has a problem with white working class and older voters. I don’t suppose it has anything to do with telling Appalachia to go F%^ itself in 2008 or that Pennsylvania voters were bitter, narrow minded racists. Still, a lot of them probably ended up voting for him in 2008 because he ran as a Democrat and the 2008 financial crash scared the bejeesus out of them. So, I’m betting that a lot of them are none too thrilled that he turned out not to be a Democrat after all.
It’s one thing to subvert the dominant paradigm locally. There were some thought provoking referendum items on ballots yesterday and since the debt ceiling debacle in August, voters are starting to get a more complete picture of what the Republican party is all about. Well, except for Virginia. But if the presidential contest comes down to Romney vs Obama, it may be much tougher to call it a victory in advance for the Democrats. If voters want a “change election” and they’re not happy with Obama’s performance so far and they see moderate Mitt as a the guy to send a message to Democrats to clean up their act, well, it would be a shame. Because the legislative races could sweep Democrats into power again and to be saddled with Mitt would just be another missed opportunity.
There are a couple of things I would like to point out to the Obama contingent: 1.) You may have perfectly good reasons for opposing Hillary Clinton. You haven’t persuaded me that they’re really *good* reasons, but I will accept that you have them. But you are just a tiny but vocal contingent and unfortunately, according to pollsters, Hillary is still wildly popular among the dirty, unwashed, insufficiently educated voters you look down on- to your detriment. Just because YOU don’t like her, doesn’t mean the rest of the country cares a flying f%^& what you think. You can take your chances with Obama or reassess your candidates. Sherrod Brown also looks promising. 2.) The idea that the African-American community will have a riot and abandon the party if Obama isn’t renominated is speculative at best, bordering on racist at worst. That attitude presumes that economically stressed people will put their racial preferences before their economic preferences even though the performance of the person up for reelection, and who has blown them off for 4 years, has been poor and made their lives miserable. One thing I think Obama Democrats are overlooking is that half the African-American community is female. With Clinton running, African-American females can’t lose. Identity politics could work here as well. I would vote for her because she’s the better candidate but we can’t overlook the fact that the double X thing is even more historic than the absence of some silly mutation that causes less melanin to be produced in the skin. 3.) You could always go with a primary. True, primaries are expensive but maybe *this* time, you could allow full participation of your base. And while in normal election years primaries haven’t worked in the incumbent’s favor, the last three years have been anything but ordinary. This is a different economic environment than anything we’ve seen since the Great Depression and as we know, organisms that fail to adapt to their environment, don’t make it to pass on their political philosophy to the next generation. But even more importantly, having a primary could reenergize the country and suck the air right out of the Republicans’ offensive. That is, if you have the right people primarying. You would have to get candidates who could make a strong case for an FDR style New Deal set of programs. It could be a way of arguing against the same old bipartisan shtick that Democrats like Obama have been peddling for the past decade.
Just some ideas since the poll numbers don’t appear to bode well for Obama next year and the signs that the party is starting to realize that are all over the place.
Oh, look, Washingtonian Magazine says that the State Department is one of the top 50 best workplaces. Fancy that. I wonder why that is? Back in the Bush years, career diplomats were quitting all over the place and emailing some very critical “good-bye cruel world” resignation letters. Remember? What could have possibly changed…? No, no, don’t tell me. From the CNN report:
The State Department made the list based on a survey of Federal News Radio listeners and in consultation with the non-partisan, non-profit Partnership for Public Service.
Hillary Clinton’s State Department has 44,362 employees and they can take advantage of perks including a student-loan repayment program, a transit subsidy, and a wide array of courses through the Foreign Service Institute, Washingtonian Magazine says.
“We’re making history every day when we come to work. That’s pretty amazing,” Gilberto TorresVela, an economic officer in the Office of Cuban Affairs, tells the magazine. “State’s employees feel that their work makes a difference in foreign affairs, helping to make the world more secure,” the article says.
What did Jon Favreau say about working for Hillary once upon a time? I can’t remember. But I do remember Tina Fey saying “bitches get stuff done”.
Coming to a workplace near you: Your company lays you off. A new company comes to town and hires you as a contractor working for less pay and fewer benefits and sends you to work – at the company that just laid you off. This is how we treat our STEM graduates who worked for Lilly. And the contracting company is going to skim some profits off of this arrangement with Lilly, at workers’ expense. I’m amazed at how many people in the comment thread are talking about unionizing. You never would have heard that kind of talk from chemists a few years ago. But the American Chemical Society has been conspicuously absent while its professional members have been getting the axe and watching their compensation packages get decimated. Something has to be done.
The funny thing is that this attempt at “in-sourcing” may not be as money saving for Lilly as the outsourcing they were doing to China and India. We knew the outsourcing wasn’t cost effective because it’s hard to keep track of the work and proprietary information half a world away. In-sourcing will have its own set of problems because they’ve taken the scientists who used to be invested in their projects as problem solvers and reduced their participation to hands on workers who perform a series of tasks for a specified amount of money. The problem with producing new drugs isn’t that American STEM workers don’t produce. The problem is that the management hasn’t got a clue about how to do research to make conditions conducive to the discovery of new drugs. Here’s a hint: you can’t do good research with a “flexible” staff. You need to hire people who are willing to go above and beyond what you ask of them, who will stay late to watch a reaction, who will come in on their days off to count cells and start new passages, who are willing to read more papers on new methods. If you take their expertise and try to break it down into little “just in time” bits, not only will you start running into IP issues, necessitating information roadblocks to keep the contract workers from looking at the sciency stuff that makes their work interesting, what you will get is someone who doesn’t feel invested in the project or the company. They’re too busy trying to make ends meet for their families and feeling resentment that they’ve spent so much time slaving away at hard subjects in college just so they could be treated as no better than some high school dropout assembly line worker for about the same pay. At 5:00pm, they’re out of there.
Businesses in Indiana where this is going on are going to take a hit when those same workers have their salaries drastically reduced. They will be buying less in the way of goods and services. And let’s not forget that if the work is only contract, there’s no way these workers can safely plan for the future. That means fewer homeowners, more renters, fewer people invested in their communities, more of the “paradox of thrift”. It could also mean fewer people with health insurance if contract workers have to pay for it themselves with reduced salaries. And that’s going to come back to bite taxpayers in the butt when those same workers suck up precious public health dollars when they get sick. Those are the same STEM workers who were paying a lot of state taxes and helping other people. Now, they become a burden on the state. Everybody loses in this arrangement except the new middleman overseers.
We’re not talking about high school dropouts here. This is the way we treat STEM workers. And if there are readers out there who are entertaining the idea that STEM workers shouldn’t feel entitled to a healthy salary, I suggest they try it themselves. Go check out the requirements for a BS degree in Chemistry or Biology or engineering. We are laying these people off in droves. The ones that aren’t forced into early retirement are cooling their jets while the industry tries to cut corners every way it can, reducing the output of research as a result and creating a vicious circle of more layoffs. The industry MBAs did this to themselves. Let’s stop blaming STEM graduates for being at the mercy of some cost saving management fad. If I hear one more politician parroting the business community’s lies about how they don’t have enough STEM graduates so they can use it as an excuse to import more cheap H1B visa holders instead of treating their current crop of labrats with respect and dignity, I’m going to get a posse of laid off chemists together to occupy their Manhattan offices. Do you hear me, Bill Clinton??
Meanwhile, contracting continues apace with nurses aides and home healthcare assistants taking a blow to their salaries. Here’s a typical story. Substitute “chemist” for “nurse’s aide” and “Lilly” for “hospital” and the result is converging for both sets of workers:
In June, one of the state workers at the Grand Rapids home, Emilie Perttu, 24, reluctantly left her job and took a nurse’s aide position at a hospital for a quarter less than she was making. Ms. Perttu, a single mother of two, started at the veterans’ home as a contract worker for J2S before becoming a state worker last year. She said that after Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, cited the outsourcing plans in his budget for 2012 and 2013, she feared losing her job or having her wages sharply reduced.
The lower wage, she says, has left her strained to cover $675 a month in rent, along with basics like food and child care. So Ms. Perttu collects $400 monthly in food stamps and child care assistance, programs administered by the state but largely financed by the federal government. She has not been able to buy winter coats for her children, she said, and often avoids calls from credit card bill collectors.
For those of you who think your virtue has kept you employed through this recession, don’t get comfy. Once you, the worker, are mandated by law to carry your own health insurance with no competition from a public option or low cost health plan, the companies you work for will feel no obligation to keep you on the payroll. They can lay you off and hire you back as a contractor. Your health insurance becomes *your* problem. This is what you get when you hire a president and Congress that are scared to address cost control, business run amok and hyperbolic TV bloviators who call them socialists.
And THIS, was the one thing that ended Rick Perry’s presidential aspirations last night:
It wasn’t all of the stupid s%^& he has been saying up until this point. No, it was Perry having a “senior moment”. In fact, if he had just said, “Sean, I was thinking so fast I lost my train of thought. Did that ever happen to you? Can you come back to me on that one?” The crowd would have totally understood his. Republican voters aren’t all concerned with whether the dude is perfect. On the contrary, if he’s just a regular average guy like themselves who occasionally makes mistakes, they are cool with that. He’s human. There were many good reasons to reject Perry up to this point. Mostly it’s all the stupid s%^& that comes out of his mouth when his brain is working optimally. Making a big deal out of a brain freeze *might* just be overkill. It could revive his standing slightly. Republicans might begin to “feel his pain”. You don’t want that. On the other hand, if Fox News starts proclaiming the Perry era over, that’s a different problem.
I think we can see the Republicans strategy for defeating the 99%. It starts with Karl Rove’s sudden interest in the Massachusett’s Senator’s race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown. Rove has seen the mojo emanating from Warren. The attempts to paint her as a Harvard elite liberal have failed and she seems to have tapped into a deep vein of discontent among the peasants. They are getting all righteously indignant and look like they might start revolting. We can’t have that. So, we will bombard her from now until election day. It will be unrelenting. It will be like 3 weeks before the election from now until November 2012. We’ll keep her so busy defending herself that she will run out of money and will have to keep tapping the proles for more. And more. Because no matter how much money she has, we always make her spend more. Her supporters will get sick of the constant begging. And that’s why the Citizens United ruling was so outrageous:
This video is a little irritating in its “I’m going to talk really sloooowly for you because you don’t seem to be getting it” approach to its target audience (hint: it’s not us). They could have been snappier and put in a little more humor. But after you’ve seen it, it’s hard to say you don’t understand what the problem is:
And I am introducing The Plum Line metric today. The Plum Line is described as “a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant — what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.” I’d say that is a pretty accurate description. A couple of times per day, Greg Sargent posts a compilation of blog posts from around the web. It is probably safe to assume that these are the writers that Sargent feels are the more authoritative and “serious” voices from online journals and the blogosphere. But how many are women? And what will the numbers tell us? I don’t know yet but a blogger like Sargent who writes for the Washington Post is going to refer to people who have access to information or powerbrokers. So, The Plum Line Metric may give us an indication of how much access and potential influence women have to shape political opinions “with a liberal slant”.
Today’s Plum Line Metric:
Number of citations: 12
Number of male writers cited: 12
Number of female writers cited: 0
In a perfect world, women should represent half of the writers cited since 1.)they represent half of the population as a whole, 2.)there is no shortage of female bloggers and writers on the internet and, 3.)presumably, they have opinions about how the world should be run that is not identical, but may be complementary to the conventional wisdom of liberal male opinionmakers. So, ideally, the ratio of females cited to males cited should be close to or equal to 1. Does anyone want to argue that allowing one half of the population to assume the responsibility for speaking for the other half of the population will actually express the full range of issues and priorities that that other half feels are important? Right. Moving on. Since the goal is to eventually reach 1 and we are at less than 1 now, let’s put the number of females cited in the numerator and the number of males cited in the denominator. We could use male citations/ female citations, which would be an indication of how many male voices we listen to per female voices, but we run up against the possibility of division by zero and mathematics hasn’t been able to get around that problem yet.
Today’s Plum Line Metric is 0/12 = 0.
This metric is not meant to be a slap down of Greg Sargent. He just happens to have an easy to count compilation at the end of the day. We could also include the Morning Post from The Plum Line. But let’s just stick to the Happy Hour compilation for now and I’ll update it with a cumulative ratio as well. Maybe we can plot it on a graph. We could even go back through the archives for a couple of years to see if there have been any trends or changes. Suggestions are welcome.
Two things about Joe Paterno. 1.) He’s 84 years old. Even if he hadn’t been fired, he should have been made an emeritus years ago. My god, the man was prematurely decomposing. It would have been better if he hadn’t gotten fired but 2.) He knew that a member of his staff was a relapsed child molester and covered it up. No number of national championships can make that acceptable. None whatsoever:
Yet it was Mr. Paterno who remained the public face of the university. He met with his team Wednesday in a gathering that players described as emotional. Stephon Morris, a junior cornerback, said Paterno was near tears when he told the team he was leaving. “I’ve never seen Coach Paterno like that in my life,” Mr. Morris said. Still, Mr. Paterno’s talk was not all about the turmoil. Mr. Morris said Mr. Paterno’s main message was “Beat Nebraska,” referring to Penn State’s next opponent. When he left, his players gave him a standing ovation.
Yeah, cry me a river. As one of the signs in the accompanying slide show says, “Joe Paterno is NOT a victim”. Well, that’s the last time that student will get season tickets.
There are causes that are worth rioting and smashing car windows. Firing Joe Paterno for abetting a creep who was seen having anal sex with a 10 year old in the Nittany Lions locker room showers is not one of them.
BTW, I lived in “Happy Valley” when I got my first job after graduation. For a former University of Pittsburgh student, football season up there was almost unbearable. Well, there’s nothing much else to do in State College but still, they took it to ridiculous extremes even by obsessed fan standards. Fall weekends were a perfect excuse to get the f%^& out of town and hang out in more sophisticated and cultured venues- like Harrisburg. Yeah, that’s how bad it was.
Filed under: Presidential election 2012 | Tagged: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, contracting, Hillary Clinton, in-sourcing, labrats, Lilly, Ohio, Plum Line Metric, State Department, STEM graduates | 38 Comments »