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Member since: Fri Nov 6, 2015, 07:20 AM
Number of posts: 2,352

Journal Archives

Why GOP establishment is warming up to Trump, for now


Much of the mainstream Republican reckoning with Donald Trump is rooted in deep disdain for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. After Iowa, will GOP Trump support grow or fade?

Donald Trump and some mainstream Republicans are engaged in a long-distance flirtation. Both sides are coming to the realization that they'll need each other if the billionaire businessman becomes the party's presidential nominee.

The GOP establishment is no fonder of Trump than when he first roiled the campaign last summer with his controversial comments about immigrants and women. But with voting beginning in just over a week, his durability atop preference polls has pushed some donors, strategists and party elders to grudgingly accept the prospect of his winning the nomination...

This raises a host of questions in my mind:

1. How bad can Cruz be, if the GOP hate him MORE than they hate the Donald?

2. Why can the GOP bow to the will of the people and support the public's choice, and the Democrats can't?

3. Why can the GOP choose pragmatism over rigid conformity? Why can't the Democrats? Who is the real fascist in this primary season? I'm beginning to have some horrifying suspicions...

4. Change is the business of politics. When is the DNC going to support change, (¢ or sense, bad pun, I know) over $$$, 99% people over 1% Elite?

Harlem Globetrotters removing water bucket skit from Flint Show


With the ongoing Flint water crisis, the Harlem Globetrotters announced on Friday they are removing the well-known "water bucket skit" from the team's show in Flint next week.

According to the Globetrotters, they are leaving the water bucket behind for the Jan. 25 show out of respect for Flint residents affected by the recent water crisis.

On top of that, the team is also donating 90 tickets to Joy Tabernacle Church to distribute the tickets to volunteers and local families in need of a smile.

The game begins at 7 p.m. Monday at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint.

Maybe they can lose that skit....

Paul Krugman calls us out, and lectures on "How Change Happens"


There are still quite a few pundits determined to pretend that America’s two great parties are symmetric — equally unwilling to face reality, equally pushed into extreme positions by special interests and rabid partisans. It’s nonsense, of course. Planned Parenthood isn’t the same thing as the Koch brothers, nor is Bernie Sanders the moral equivalent of Ted Cruz. And there’s no Democratic counterpart whatsoever to Donald Trump...Moreover, when self-proclaimed centrist pundits get concrete about the policies they want, they have to tie themselves in knots to avoid admitting that what they’re describing are basically the positions of a guy named Barack Obama.

Still, there are some currents in our political life that do run through both parties. And one of them is the persistent delusion that a hidden majority of American voters either supports or can be persuaded to support radical policies, if only the right person were to make the case with sufficient fervor.

Are you ready for it? Yet another Hillbot calling you delusional? Krugman has an infinite capacity for overlooking the obvious, until his nose is rubbed in it

You see this on the right among hard-line conservatives, who insist that only the cowardice of Republican leaders has prevented the rollback of every progressive program instituted in the past couple of generations. Actually, you also see a version of this tendency among genteel, country-club-type Republicans, who continue to imagine that they represent the party’s mainstream even as polls show that almost two-thirds of likely primary voters support Mr. Trump, Mr. Cruz or Ben Carson.

All the while denying that the Rebublicans have been doing this on an annual basis...rolling back everything from the New Deal onwards...usually with Third Way help!

Meanwhile, on the left there is always a contingent of idealistic voters eager to believe that a sufficiently high-minded leader can conjure up the better angels of America’s nature and persuade the broad public to support a radical overhaul of our institutions. In 2008 that contingent rallied behind Mr. Obama; now they’re backing Mr. Sanders, who has adopted such a purist stance that the other day he dismissed Planned Parenthood (which has endorsed Hillary Clinton) as part of the “establishment.” But as Mr. Obama himself found out as soon as he took office, transformational rhetoric isn’t how change happens. That’s not to say that he’s a failure. On the contrary, he’s been an extremely consequential president, doing more to advance the progressive agenda than anyone since L.B.J. Yet his achievements have depended at every stage on accepting half loaves as being better than none: health reform that leaves the system largely private, financial reform that seriously restricts Wall Street’s abuses without fully breaking its power, higher taxes on the rich but no full-scale assault on inequality.

Yeah, half a loaf for the 1%, and not even crumbs for the rest of us

There’s a sort of mini-dispute among Democrats over who can claim to be Mr. Obama’s true heir — Mr. Sanders or Mrs. Clinton? But the answer is obvious: Mr. Sanders is the heir to candidate Obama, but Mrs. Clinton is the heir to President Obama. (In fact, the health reform we got was basically her proposal, not his.) Could Mr. Obama have been more transformational? Maybe he could have done more at the margins. But the truth is that he was elected under the most favorable circumstances possible, a financial crisis that utterly discredited his predecessor — and still faced scorched-earth opposition from Day 1.

And the question Sanders supporters should ask is, When has their theory of change ever worked? Even F.D.R., who rode the depths of the Great Depression to a huge majority, had to be politically pragmatic, working not just with special interest groups but also with Southern racists. Remember, too, that the institutions F.D.R. created were add-ons, not replacements: Social Security didn’t replace private pensions, unlike the Sanders proposal to replace private health insurance with single-payer. Oh, and Social Security originally covered only half the work force, and as a result largely excluded African-Americans.

Just to be clear: I’m not saying that someone like Mr. Sanders is unelectable, although Republican operatives would evidently rather face him than Mrs. Clinton — they know that his current polling is meaningless, because he has never yet faced their attack machine. But even if he was to become president, he would end up facing the same harsh realities that constrained Mr. Obama. The point is that while idealism is fine and essential — you have to dream of a better world — it’s not a virtue unless it goes along with hardheaded realism about the means that might achieve your ends. That’s true even when, like F.D.R., you ride a political tidal wave into office. It’s even more true for a modern Democrat, who will be lucky if his or her party controls even one house of Congress at any point this decade.

Sorry, but there’s nothing noble about seeing your values defeated because you preferred happy dreams to hard thinking about means and ends. Don’t let idealism veer into destructive self-indulgence.

And a big FU to you,Dr. Krugman.

Weekend Economists: If I were a Rickman January 22-24, 2016

What can one say about Alan Rickman? He was an actor for all seasons: Comedy, Tragedy, Horror, Thriller...villain, hero, sidekick or heart-throb....he did them all with wit and skill and humor.

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016) was an English actor and director, known for playing a variety of roles on stage and screen, often as a complex antagonist. Rickman trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing in modern and classical theatre productions. His first big television part came in 1982, but his big break was as the Vicomte de Valmont in the stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Rickman gained wider notice for his film performances as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series.

Rickman's other film roles included the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, for which he received the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply, Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility, the title character in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny, which won him a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a Screen Actors Guild Award, Harry in Love Actually, P. L. O'Hara in An Awfully Big Adventure, Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest and Judge Turpin in the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Rickman died of pancreatic cancer on 14 January 2016 at the age of 69. His final film role, is as the voice of Absolem in Alice Through the Looking Glass, which will be released in May 2016


I apologise...I started this in the Bernie Sanders group by accident...I will be moving it over and deleting from there....I was really tired! The city inspector failed my new furnace, so the heating guy had to come twiddle with it....it took hours. he's not 100% sure yet, so I await a final decision on Monday. Still, it's nice to have a furnace that works, and doesn't roar like a 747 at takeoff.

Another new attack: Bernie Sanders Has No Idea How the Supreme Court Works

written by a fellow named Mark Joseph Stern, a young but prolific man with several axes to grind...

Mark J. Stern graduated in 2013 with a concentration in History, Art History from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He is 23. He has attracted notice:

Mark Joseph Stern’s Immaculate Conception By ROD DREHER

The effortlessly humble Mark Joseph Stern, who writes about homosexuality for Slate, wrote a Thanksgiving column saying how happy happy happy he is to be gay. Excerpt:

What if I had been straight, and I had gone really, really wrong? What if, given the privilege of heterosexuality, I turned against all the vulnerable and disadvantaged people, who, as a gay man, I inherently empathize with? As part of my job, I regularly read the writings of people in whom something has broken or withered—people who have lost the ability to see the humanity in others. I put myself in the mindset of people who dehumanize and vilify and hate. I become intimately acquainted with the twisted beliefs of those who, encountering a person they don’t quite understand, lash out with cruel loathing and immoral rage.

Because I am gay, it is basically impossible for me to become one of these people.

Yes, because he is gay, Mark Joseph Stern was born without original sin. Mark Joseph Stern cannot, by definition, dehumanize, vilify, and hate anybody. He could never lash out with cruel loathing and immoral rage....

The oppressed becoming liberated then turning as bad or worse than their former oppressors is a very old story. Seems to me you’d have to be shockingly ignorant of human nature to write an essay bragging that you’re grateful to be gay because it means you cannot be a horrible person. I wonder what Mark Joseph Stern’s colleagues think of this piece.


You can see this original young man's original POS at:


Looking Glass World: Our problem, Bernistas, is we have let the Opposition corner

all the crap, carping, and conspiracy theories!

(I'm running a parallel development to this sterling piece of...opinion found over the hills and far away... http://www.democraticunderground.com/110735585 )

I guess that's normal. The Corporatists on both the left and the right are always the most complaining and miserable SOBs when they don't get their way. But we cannot let our Corporate wing zealots take over our party without a fight.

I guess I lied to myself about no longer fighting the good fight in the Primaries forum.

I'll be damned if I am stand by an let the Third Way, Corporate wing of my party put us in the position of losing the Presidency and both houses of Congress plus the opportunity to set the direction of the Supreme Court for the next 20 years so they can stand on their principles and nominate the unelectable.

(edited to add the bolding...now, it's perfect!)

Today's HRC Meme is apparently: Sanders walks back Planned Parenthood, Clinton ‘establishment’ comme

which has been plastered all over the website like a pizza advert.

As if! Bernie isn't walking his comments back, he's backing theirs into the lies they tell.

I am wondering how long before the well runs dry, and we can have some discussion devoid of such idiocy? My best guess is March 8th. By then, we should have amassed an overwhelming delegate count for Bernie, and the Super-Delegates should be flocking in droves to his side.

Since Hillary hasn't enough money or prestige to hold these Super delegates in the event she hasn't got the nomination, I think their loyalty is minimal. If they try to float Biden or some other deus ex machina candidate at that point, there will be a revolution, and it won't be silent.

We just keep waiting and working our butts off...

And I am going to try to Ignore the Ignoramuses.

Some Experts, Like Krugman, Supported Single Payer Until Bernie Sanders Put It in His Platform


A res ipsa loquitur (“the thing speaks for itself”) post:

Krugman, 2007


In an ideal world, I’d be a single-payer guy. But I see the chance of getting universal care, imperfect but fixable, just a couple of years from now. And I want to grab that chance...

Ezra Klein: The Deceptive Strategy Underlying Obamacare, 2009

I would like to sign the insurance companies out of existence with my pen. It would be sweet. But it’s never going to happen in this country where we have sent a multi-billion dollar industry employing tens of thousands of people in every district in America out in one shot…They have a sneaky strategy, the point of which is to put in place something that over time, the natural incentive in its own market [is] to move it to single payer...

Ezra Klein, 2009, interview with Sanders


Klein: Lastly, you’re the author of one of my favorite pieces of legislation: The bill to create a prize process for pharmaceuticals. Want to say a word on that?

Sanders: That makes single payer look like a conservative bill! (Laughs) All that that does is take on the entire pharmaceutical industry and say that everything they’ve been telling the world for many years is simply not true. They’re not using their huge profits into new research for drugs. The best way to get the research we need to address the medical problems we face is to provide a prize to those companies willing to address the most serious problems in the world, and not worry about my baldness or cosmetic me-too drugs, which is what they do.

What we’re saying is okay, you come up with a solution to these very serious health problems which are killing millions of people and you’ll get financial renumeration for it. It changes the whole dynamic. Right now, billion and billions are going into medical research funded by taxpayers into this country. But when the drug is developed, the profits go to the pharmaceutical company. This may be the most radical legislation I’ve ever introduced because it would transform the worldwide pharmaceutical industry.

James Surowecki, 2010


The truth is that we could do just fine without them: an insurance system with community rating and universal access has no need of private insurers. In fact, the U.S. already has such a system: it’s known as Medicare. In most areas, it’s true, private companies do a better job of managing costs and providing services than the government does. But not when it comes to health care: over the past decade, Medicare’s spending has risen more slowly than that of private insurers. A single-payer system also has the advantage of spreading risk across the biggest patient pool possible. So if you want to make health insurance available to everyone, regardless of risk, the most sensible solution would be to expand Medicare to everyone. That’s not going to happen. The fear of government-run health care, the power of vested interests, and the difficulty of completely overhauling the system have made the single-payer solution a bridge too far for Washington, and for much of the public as well. (Support for a single-payer system hovers around fifty per cent.) That’s why the current reform plans rely instead on a mishmash of regulations, national exchanges, and subsidies. Instead of replacing private insurance companies, the proposed reforms would, in theory, turn them into something like public utilities. That’s how it works in the Netherlands and Switzerland, with reasonably good results. One could recoil in disgust at the inefficiency and incoherence of the process—at the fact that private insurers will continue to make billions a year providing services the government has shown, via Medicare, that it can provide on its own. But, messy as the reform plans are, they can still dramatically transform the system for the good. Reform would guarantee that tens of millions of people who don’t have insurance will get it, and that people who have insurance now won’t have to worry about losing it. And, by writing community rating and universal access into law, Congress will effectively be committing itself to the idea that health care, regardless of risk, is a right. If a little incoherence is the price of that deal, it’s worth paying.

Jonathan Chait, 2011


I understand disaffected liberals. I wish Obama had been able to pass a single-payer healthcare bill. I thought the Iraq war sounded like total bullshit when it was being pitched in 2002. I wish we had never gone in, and I wish we had gotten out sooner. I wish the bank reforms had teeth to them, especially considering what we just went through.

Obama, 2003 (with video)


I happen to be a proponent of a single payer universal health care program. [applause I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that’s what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out. A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back the House.”

Obama, 2007


This is a two trillion dollar part of our economy and it is my belief that it’s not just politically but economically it is better for us to start getting a system in place–a universal healthcare system signed into law by the end of my first term as president and build off that system to further to make it more rational….

By the way, Canada did not start immediately with a single payer system. They had a similar transition step.

Rep. Barney Frank (D – MA), 2009


I think if we get a good public option, it could lead to single payer and that’s the best way to reach single payer.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), 2009


And next to me was a guy from the insurance company who then argued against the public health insurance option saying, ‘It wouldn’t let private insurance compete–that a public option will put the private insurance industry out of business and lead to single payer.’ He was right. The man was right.

One Chart to Explain Politics Today


Wonk Blog: “Imagine everyone, as in everyone around the world, lined up based on how much they make. (This would be adjusted for how much that buys in their home country, but don’t worry too much about that). Well, that would let us set up a global income distribution. The richest people in the richest countries—and, for that matter, everywhere else too—would make up the global top 1 percent. Working-class people in rich countries would be around the 80th percentile for the world. Middle-class people in middle-class countries would be, you guessed it, around the 50th percentile. And so on, and so on. Now, when you add it all up, it turns out that nobody has done worse the past 30 years than the working-class in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, and France. Their inflation-adjusted incomes actually fell over this period. It was the richest people in the richest countries and, even more so, middle-class people in emerging-market countries who did the best. China, though, really belongs in a category all its own here. It’s that bump all by itself in the middle.”

“This chart is really a Rosetta stone for politics today—and not just in the U.S. Almost every rich country has their own anti-trade, anti-immigrant party. France has the National Front. Britain has UKIP. And the rest of Europe has an assortment of populist parties straddling the far-right and far-left. In all these countries, the simple story is that being an elite means buying into globalization whether you’re an elite of the center-right or center-left. So the people who feel like they’ve been left behind don’t feel like there’s anyone to represent their interests.”

It's not just Flint — every major American city has hazardous amounts of lead hurting kids


...Urban soil lead contamination is woefully understudied

The main thing we know about non-catastrophic lead in the United States is that the biggest problem is inner-city soil contaminated by decades-old gasoline. Gas went unleaded in the mid-1970s, but all the old lead burned in the past was dumped into the air and then fell back to earth. The tiny lead particles don't biodegrade. They mix in with the soil, get tracked into houses, and, most of all, end up on the hands and toys of little kids, who have a marked tendency to stick anything and everything into their mouths, leading to the ingestion of lead.

This lead is everywhere, but it's most heavily concentrated in places that were close to a lot of vehicle traffic during the leaded gasoline days — in other words, the centers of big cities.

But there's very little systematic research on the lead situation in most cities. An exception is New Orleans, which happens to benefit from proximity to one of America's leading lead researchers, Tulane's Howard Mielke. Here's what he found:

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