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What Scott Walker promised in the campaign is not the point

Lindsay Graham says people in Wisconsin shouldn't complain or act surprised, because Scott Walker is just doing what he promised during the campaign. Others have responded, "Oh no he didn't!" I'd say that whether he promised or not is merely a side issue. Specifically, what matters is whether this is a good thing to do or a bad thing, regardless of what Scott said during the campaign. Especially since Scott's approach here might very well become a template for more of the same in other states.

One of the issues that matter more generally is what this shows about the way we elect public officials. Just one example: Over the course of a long campaign a candidate's platform is distilled to a series of catch-phrases and talking-points. These talking-points are then repeated ad infinitum. Voters recognize that, and perhaps subconsciously their minds say, "Hey! We've been here and heard this. Yawn." After all, as I understand it, the brain evolved to respond more to novelty than to stasis. (I'll find documentation and add it. Suggestions welcomed.)

In other words, candidates might very well make promises during a campaign, but that doesn't mean the promises are being heard.

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In Politics, Nothing Happens by Accident

"In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

All the bad things. Poor president Obama. He's just powerless to stand in the way of the Republicans. Only thing is, he isn't.

This stuff isn't happening to Obama. This stuff is happening with Obama. The president is complicit.

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How Not To Fix Our Schools

Recently, a manifesto  appeared in the Washington Post called "How To Fix Our Schools".  Written by some of the superintendents of public schools , like Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein, the manifesto echos many of the same points made in the recent documentary "Waiting for Superman".  I would like to examine the fundamental claim in the manifesto, that teachers alone determine student achievement and other factors like poverty have no bearing.

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Obama's Power to Produce Progressive Legislation May Increase Dramatically Tuesday

It now appears that in all likelihood republicans will win a congressional majority this coming Tuesday. Nate Silver's projections of Friday October 29...

...found Republicans gaining an average of 53 seats, which would bring them to 232 total. Democrats are given a 16 percent chance of holding the House, down slightly from 17 percent on Wednesday.

Increasingly, there seems to be something of a consensus among various forecasting methods around a projected Republican figure somewhere in the 50-60 seat range.

Several of the expert forecasters that FiveThirtyEight's model uses, like the Cook Political Report, the Rothenberg Political Report, and Larry Sabato, have stated that they expect the Republicans' overall total to fall roughly in this range. A straw poll of political insiders for Hotline on Call found an average expectation of a 50-seat gain. And some political science models have been forecasting gains somewhere in this range for some time.

The forecast also seems consistent with the average of generic ballot polling. Our model projects that Republicans will win the average Congressional district by between 3 and 4 points.

The modeling also suggests that there is a 90% chance that after Tuesday Democrats will control at least 50 seats in the Senate, but that there is a 0% chance that Democrats will control at least 60 seats.

It's not looking good by any stretch of the imagination.

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$378 Billion for Drug Cartels from Wachovia, and No Charges!

Now isn't that a deceptive headline!

Because of course Wachovia charged the drug cartels a lot of money to launder $378 billion for them.

"No charges" only applies to the legal consequences of laundering $378 billion for drug-lords.

Wachovia admitted it didn't do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That's the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history -- a sum equal to one-third of Mexico's current gross domestic product.

"Wachovia's blatant disregard for our banking laws gave international cocaine cartels a virtual carte blanche to finance their operations," says Jeffrey Sloman, the federal prosecutor who handled the case.

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People Need To Buck Up

The biggest mistake many make when trying to sell the Democrats is to call the prospects stupid, and tell them buying the product is the only way they can stop being stupid, apparently thinking the prospects will immediately reach for their wallets and say "where do I sign"?

Of course, that result only happens in salespeople's dreams - and is the reason 90 percent of people who go into sales never make any money at the job.

There is also a (real life) tried and true technique in sales and marketing that the democrats could try: the top sales producers in any industry constantly critique themselves and ask themselves "If I'm not getting the results I want to get, what am I doing to get the results I am getting?"

Instead of asking themselves what they are doing to produce the results they are getting (dropping support) - and they are producing those results whether they want to or not - Democrats and their supporters are taking the easy route of blaming the voters (their prospects) and treating the voters as if they are stupid.

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The Rich Got Richer

From the Street...

The richest Americans are getting richer, according to the latest release of the Forbes ranking of the 400 richest Americans. At a combined wealth of $1.37 trillion, the 400 richest Americans saw their wealth increase by 8% over last year.


But on the downside, the market for movie stars is collapsing!

Today the actors who used to make $15 million are making $10 million. The filmmakers who used to make $10 million are making $6 million.

And why have salaries for all varieties of Hollywood "talent" declined? Some people blame a 25% decline in DVD sales, and many Hollywood insiders look all the way back to the writers' strike in 1988 as an epiphany for studio moguls, who suddenly realized that money could be made without any talent whatsoever, and the first "reality shows" were born.

But whatever the root-cause or causes may be, the no-talent paradigm of Survivor Vanuatu now extends all the way to major releases!

The end result is a huge recalibration of the money being paid out to talent, especially in an era where a surprisingly large percentage of the biggest hit films, from "Up" to "The Hangover" to "Star Trek" and "Transformers," are star-free movies, potential franchises that involve interchangeable parts.

And when even movie stars have been degraded into "interchangeable parts"...

What kind of individuality remains for you and me?

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Bongo! The Bipartisan Plan for Single-Payer Healthcare

 Two explorers are captured by cannibals. "Death or bongo?" says the chief. "What's bongo?" ask the explorers, but the chief only replies "Death or bongo?" The first explorer chooses bongo, and (without going into the gory details) it's so horrible that the second explorer chooses death.

"Okay," says the chief, "Death! But first... bongo!"

I remembered this old joke when the Census Bureau reported that now more Americans than ever before have no healthcare insurance.

Official estimates by the Census Bureau showing a dramatic spike of 4.3 million in the number of Americans without health insurance in 2009 - to a record 50.7 million.


The jump of 4.3 million uninsured is the largest one-year increase on record and would have been much higher - over 10 million - had there not been a huge expansion of public coverage, primarily Medicaid, to an additional 5.8 million people.

And that is the real bipartisan plan for single-payer healthcare, as more of more of us lose our jobs and houses and sink below the income threshold for Medicaid, and eventually only a thin upper crust remains dependent on private health insurance, which they can easily afford, because they own everything!

"But at least we have Medicaid!" say the millions of formerly middle-class Americans. "Okay," say the chiefs, "And now we cut Medicaid!"


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The Jamarcus Russell of Presidents

There's been no small amount of navel-gazing by the punditocracy, like in the article discussed over here, trying to decide the whole chicken and egg thing of whether it was the economy that makes the Dems November '10 chances so bleak or whether it was the HCR.  A consensus seems to be emerging that "it's the economy, stupid" and I won't dispute that.  But, I will say that even in 1934 - FDR's first midterm - Dems did not get hammered anything like the way they are going to get it this year.  And in 1934, the real bite from economic conditions which would lead to things like the Dust Bowl and farmers getting foreclosed off their farms everywhere were only getting started;  those icebergs were just peeking out of the water and things were still very bad.

Here, in 2010, Real Democrats have been predicting since his election that Obama and the Democratic officeholders would have an exceedingly difficult time of it and giving both very specific reasons why and very specific prescriptions for avoiding the coming debacle.  These warnings and prescriptions have gone unheeded and the predicted result will soon obtain, I suspect.

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More Than One Truth

Crossposted from Antemedius

Glen Ford writing at Black Agenda Report said on Wednesday "We Are Cornered: There's No Way Out Without A Fight": "Obama and his Democratic legislative allies have successfully shielded their Wall Street masters from anything worthy of the name financial reform.", and "The pace of finance capital deterioration quickens, accelerating the timetable of the Right's offensive. As the hunger grows, Wall Street's servants become more aggressive and demanding, and there is nothing in the Democratic Party, as presently constituted, to stop them."

Ford closed his essay with: "One truth remains: only a massed people can defeat massed capital. If the American Left is capable of bearing that in mind in the critical times ahead, it might just escape the cul-de-sac and make some modest contribution to the world."

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An excerpt from an Army Field Manual

Back in the day, when today's colonels and generals were still cadets and young lieutenants, they were taught fundamentals of military law.  It was a part of their curriculum.  Cleaning out a house, I came across a copy of their textbook.  For those who say "no one could have ever anticipated" or "this is totally new" or whatever rationalization they might think is the trendy, latest usage to camouflage torture in some sugar-coated "Enhanced interrogation" wrapper, here is the text from the manual from which those high-ranking officers were taught, as pertains to torture (emphasis added):

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BP's Well Leak : 55 Years Or More Into Gulf Of Mexico?

On June 15, 2010 the US Department of Energy announced that a group of federal and independent scientists convened by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, and Chair of the National Incident Command's Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG) Dr. Marcia McNutt (Director of the U.S. Geological Survey) had developed a new estimate for the amount of oil gushing from the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico that indicated the leak could be spewing up to 2.52 million gallons of crude oil per day into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico from British Petroleum's Macondo Well.

"This estimate brings together several scientific methodologies and the latest information from the sea floor, and represents a significant step forward in our effort to put a number on the oil that is escaping from BP's well," said Chu, who then expanded with "As we continue to collect additional data and refine these estimates, it is important to realize that the numbers can change.  In particular, the upper number is less certain - which is exactly why we have been planning for the worst case scenario at every stage and why we are continuing to focus on responding to the upper end of the estimate, plus additional contingencies."

Estimates from both BP and from the US Government of the amount of oil gushing from the blown out wellhead on the gulf seabed have been almost continually revised upwards since the well blowout and leak began on April 20, with widespread suspicions that BP has deliberately understated the leak rate in attempts to limit liability for the company.

It now appears that Chu may have been somewhat prescient with his statement that "it is important to realize that the numbers can change", and that the estimate of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico may need to be increased again, since an undated internal BP document (.PDF) obtained by Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) was released by Markey on Sunday June 20 showing that BP's own internal analysis believed that a worst-case scenario, based on damage to the well bore, could result in a leak rate from the well of 55,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

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