Saturday, August 17, 2019

Electoral reform + the best issue for wagers

== Electoral fixes ==

Am I alone in liking the recent Democratic Party presidential debates? I like the well-tuned level of mutual probing.  I like the exposure given to future important cabinet members. And one whole year ahead of the 2020 DP convention, I see no rush to "narrow the field." Sure, there are some I wish would go away. Delaney, Gillibrand for example. But Williamson's bizarro trip has swung toward harmlessly entertaining, and possibly slightly helpful pulling in more of the Goop Community.

Does anyone else wish Lawrence Lessig, who failed to make the debate cut under far-harsher rules back in 2016, had been onstagethis time? Lessig’s Equal Citizen campaign asks the mass brain - (you folks) - to offer debate questions via hashtag #askaboutdemocracy
     
I submitted one. Every Democratic proposal - from climate action and Health Care to student debt, consumer protection, equal rights and repairing democracy - can be supported not just morally, but by fair appraisal of facts. That's why the top agenda of today's right is fomenting hate toward all fact-using professions! From science, medicine, teaching and journalism to the "deep state" officers of law, military and intelligence agencies. Since (almost) every Democratic proposal is supported by facts, shouldn't we combat the War on Fact first? 

Hence my question to candidates:

"What would you do to restore Americans' ability to get past today's fog of confusion that's spread deliberately by right wing media and their foreign sponsors, and get back to negotiating based on demonstrable verifiable facts?" 

Sound impossible? See a dozen ways we can fight back for the very concept of objective, verifiable reality.

And here’s another encouraging item: researchers found that "psychological resistance" to fake news could be increased by having the subjects play an online gameIn the browser game, called Bad News, launched in February 2018, players become propaganda producers. They are allowed to manipulate the news and social media, invoking anger and fear. Tactics at their disposal include twitter bots, conspiracy theories, impersonation and photoshopped evidence. Still, while they use such Machiavellian approaches to attract followers, the players must maintain a "credibility score" to continue to be persuasive.

Huh. Find anyone who used that phrase “credibility score” before my novel EARTH, wherein it had a very similar purpose and use. Anyway, it’s not too soon to lure every “susceptible” you know into playing this game.

Meanwhile...

Workers in mostly red states aren’t seeing minimum-wage hikes, even though local lawmakers passed them. State-level officials and legislators in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin have all invalidated wage increases passed by cities, costing nearly 350,000 workers a total of $1.5 billion per year, a study finds. Even the smartest Democrat hasn’t figured out how to package this… and a myriad other travesties… so that our red neighbors wake up and remember who their parents’ favorite living human was.

== The acid test ==

WAGERS can be effective! But start with a wriggle-proof bet that corners denialist cultists and their Exxon/Russia/ Saudi/Koch masters. If you prove glaciers are retreating and every U.S. Navy officer is fretting the warming, they’ll just beat a retreat to the next magical incantation. (“Cow farts!” one idiot snarked at me, as a voodoo protective spell.) See my posting: Fight disinformation with wagers!

Above all, two words send every Fox-head fleeing: “ocean acidification.” They stammer and change the subject. There’s no goalpost shifting. Use those two words for wagers! 

Here goes. Demand your denialist cultist either refute these charges or pay up:

1. Acidification and eutrofication are killing the oceans and thus our planet. The Black and Caspian Seas are almost dead. The Mediterranean, Caribbean and East China Seas, plus the Gulf of Mexico are dying, as are much of the Pacific and Atlantic. Eutrofication is inarguably from human pollution. 

2. Acidification happens when you add Carbon-Dioxide to water (prove it with a 2 minute experiment! A straw, a glass of water and a swimming pool test strip.)

3. The source of rapidly skyrocketing CO2 is humans burning fossil fuels. Period. 

4. Foreign meddlers - coal barons, petro-boyars and oil-sheiks warring on our children for short-term greed - have stymied US creative response by ordering the GOP to slash R&D, thwart sustainables, block sensible legislation and mileage standards that saved us billions at the pump. They cancelled NASA and NOAA satellites, suppressed scientists. They ordered actual words, like “Earth” and “climate,” banned at federal agencies. (Part of the larger GOP war on all fact-professions.) 

Of course, there are more climate effects than acid-burnt and fertilizer-choked seas. (Red America is hard-hit!) But those two words “ocean acidification” are especially effective. They leave no room for even a squirming, wriggling, incantation-spewing confed-foxite to escape. And hence, you start here.

Demand your foxites either bet on points #1-4 above (and pay $) or admit their side is monstrous… or else (the usual result) they flee in panic while you get to slash their credibility before witnesses, by casting after their scurrying butts a single, manhood-demolishing hex-word: 

“Coward!”

 

== A structural improvement that matters ==

From cowards back to heroes and another Lessig project. The Maine legislature passed a bill for “ranked-choice voting” in selecting electors for President. The "we're the opposite of Florida" state has passed a number of intelligent reforms - this one long pushed by Lessig's Equal Citizens campaign. 

If more states did this, the folks who dream of fostering 3rd party candidates could do their thing without screwing us up, as they did with their preening Nader and Jill Stein gestures. It would prevent many (not all) kinds of noxious outcomes. We need it nationwide.

It is also the way that people of the UK should have a second Brexit referendum. The insipid Remain vs. Leave dichotomy never captured the public's want, which would win any multi-choice, RCV-style poll: 

"Remain, if the EU negotiates some changes like better residency sovereignty."

Lessig urges you to send the Maine governor (@GovJanetMills) a tweet saying we need RCV for president. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

International affairs... and China Redux

Turmoil  in Hong Kong. A trade war that turns out to not be so "easy to win." Chinese companies replacing western ones drilling for middle eastern oil. Threats aimed at Taiwan. Accusations of currency manipulation. Ongoing Intellectual Property ripoffs.... I won't talk about any of those things in today's turn toward the east.

In fact, let's start with some good news for a change. 

Announced in 1978, China’s “Green Great Wall” project aims to plant 400 million hectares of new forests (spanning 42 percent of China’s landmass) by 2050. ... and now... "Alipay’s ‘crowd’-planted trees not only comprise a growing carbon sink, offsetting China’s high emissions, but also aid in building this 4,500-kilometer ecological barrier to combat land degradation. Over the past 20 years, China and India have contributed one-third of the planet’s increased foliage.” Now “green points” are being earned by Chinese citizens for engaging in eco-better activities like walking. These can be used to help plant trees.  
        (Via Abundance Insider.)

So much for the good. A recent posting of mine caused a lot of buzz regarding some of the state-sponsored mythologies and rationalizations for conflict that are now pouring from BeijingIf you haven't seen it, I offer at least half a dozen insights into China you've never seen elsewhere.

What are PRC leaders trying to achieve? And what narratives are they using to justify a coming "clash of civilizations?" And how insightful was Mao's demand that the masses "Combat Liberalism"?  

== International affairs ==

For foreign consumption: Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged countries not to "close their doors and hide behind them.”  Xi said there was no need for "civilizations to clash with each other.”…” No civilization is superior over others.” 

Of course ironies abound. For millennia, China closed its doors and declared the Central Kingdom to be so inherently superior that it had nothing to learn from outside cultures. Of course this was a mistake of titanic magnitude. 

But more important than history is what they do today. Yes, there is immense savvy and sagacity in their neo-mercantilist dedication to national development — the PRC leadership caste is made up largely of former engineers, not Wall Street parasites, slumlords, casino moguls and shyster-lawyers. Hence they are much better short term tacticians. Still, they appear to be poor at strategic overview of long-term consequences.

Our post World War II Rising World - from the rapid recoveries of Japan and Germany etc. to the spectacular rise of China - was built upon a plan crafted by FDR and Cordell Hull, then George Marshall, Dean Acheson, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, for Pax Americana to do what no other empire did, favoring overseas industrial development by buying a hundred trillion dollars worth of crap we never needed. In China’s case, especially, this was the fifth time their only-ever friend came to their aid. This was policy -- to deliberately behave differently from every previous empire. And it worked. You're welcome.

But it's one thing to get rich selling us stuff. It is another to steal the inventiveness that enabled us to do that, thus killing the goose that lays golden eggs.

The final irony is that Xi and his factotums tell a very different story for internal consumption. Desperately seeking to unify the nation by riling up jingoism and fiery resentment, they stoke a sense of destiny and grievance at two levels. First simplistic public memes about revenge for colonialism (none of which applies to the USA, whatsoever, and we need to fiercely reject such guilt trips). Then second at an intellectual level.

Elsewhere I describe some of the rationalizations that are pouring from Chinese government think Tanks like Tsinghua University, where scholars like Feng Xiang work out “logically” how only one form of governance — a permanently centralized, pseudo-Leninist party apparat — can possibly guide humanity through a minefield of future challenges, These range from automation-driven unemployment and artificial intelligence to environmental stress and other dangers. 

They claim that this central party hierarchy will not at all (except in every way) replicate the ancient, dreary failures of imperial-feudalism. 

Moreover, in a final irony, this centralized, all-controlling state can never be asked or expected to wither away into Marxism’s idealized-liberated individualist anarchy, because it will always be necessary, under siege and attack from hostile forces. (How convenient for those whose personal self-interest lies in that apparatus being forever-needed.) 

In other words, the very last connection to actual, Marxian Marxism has been cut. These rationalizations are intelligent, well-articulated... and spectacularly dishonest in their tendentiously pre-decided conclusions, and especially their omissions. 

I’ll not repeat that error by tendentiously declaring their conclusions to be wrong! I don’t know — no one can. Indeed it may be that confucian-meritocratic hierarchy is the best way to guide humanity to a soft landing in a benign future. I doubt it, and I have evidence to back up my argument. But I was trained in the catechism of science: I Might Be Wrong. 

No, the most telling thing about this debate is that it is not a debate. Oligarchs of all kinds are declaring grand assumptions to justify the re-establishment of hierarchical rule over unruly (democratic) mobs, then commanding their hired intellectuals to justify that hierarchy. I portrayed this in EXISTENCE. The rationalizations of billionaires are remarkably similar to those of commissars.

No bad habit is more likely to convince the coming AI minds that human “sapience” is over-rated, and that we cannot be trusted with a burnt match.

== Influence at universities ==

Not to oversimplify. But one action could make a huge difference. It begins at U.S. universities, where foreign students -- including one-third of a million Chinese -- swarm across our campuses.

It used to be that when America, Canada and the west took in hundreds of thousands of foreign students, we got a win-win. We'd skim off the top 10% and make them Americans, thus acquiring loads of international expertise for free, along with great, brilliant citizens...

... and we'd send the rest of those graduates home -- infected with our values!

The CPPRC have given high priority to ending this 70 year-old American win-win. Now? The top 10% of Chinese graduates from U.S. universities hurry home to government-subsidized opportunities to get rich! (Can't blame them.) Moreover, while they are here, 350,000 Chinese students are carefully herded, tended, indoctrinated by Confucius Institutes near our universities, encouraged to report on one another, and rewarded for information gathering.

Recent news from NPR: "Seeking to develop its "soft power" abroad, China's Education Ministry funds the Confucius Institutes...(to teach the Chinese language, but also)... to monitor Chinese students abroad and shape international perceptions of China." Senator Ted Cruz attached an amendment last year to the U.S. military spending bill that says a university with a Confucius Institute cannot also receive money from the Defense Department program that pays for Chinese language training. Forced to choose, at least 13 U.S. universities have closed Confucius Institutes in the past year.

Might I recommend a much better silver bullet?  

Require all* undergrads and grad students to take one year of civics. Our civics. With focus on due process, rule of law, and the reasons why individual leaders should matter much less than transparent-accountable error-detecting processes. Heck, a large part of the class could consist of just viewing and discussing great films like "Mr. Smith goes to Washington." Oh, and make the Confucius Institutes register and pay taxes, and accountable to any student they bully.

Even if 99% pretend the courses had no effect on them, their steeped-in knowledge of rule-of-law and accountable authority would be a ticking time bomb to the CPPRC. They will know that they need to plan for a withering away - either ours or Marx's. And if the politburo guys do that loosening soon enough... gracefully enough... they may even be well-remembered by the free generations to come.

== A lesson from kindergarten -- Remember your friends ==

"Chinese strategist Yan Xuetong’s book Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power argues that all countries must recognize and accept China's centrality to the world as the Middle Kingdom," writes Yuriko Koike in The World Post.  

In fact, that way of thinking has been China’s curse, ever since Emperor Chi’in made the transcendent mistake of uniting the Four Nations. Until that moment, those four kingdoms had been profoundly innovative and progressive… the way a divided Europe rocketed ahead in the 15th through 19thcenturies. The sense of centrality -- Chung Kuo or "central kingdom" -- made things more "peaceful" though no more safe for commonfolk. It also led to one calamitous error, after another. Above all, a preening attitude that drove away every potential friend.

Don't believe it? Here is the ultimate question to ask our friends -- and I do mean to call them by that word – in the Central Kingdom, in order to help talk them down from a rising nationalist boil. This is another of my... name one example challenges.

Across the subsequent four millennia, name for us one example of a great and loyal foreign friend that China ever had? 

There was one. Only one, across 4000 years of civilization. Just one powerful friend who ever came - voluntarily and repeatedly (though not always vigorously or intelligently or with complete purity of motives) - to China’s aid, in times of need.  Not as a subject or satrapy, but just as a friend, seeking nothing in return. 

I’ll bet you’ll never guess who it was.

Oh, that one friend's record is far from perfect! But it is pretty good, by the standards of human history. And it truly was, across all those countless centuries, China’s only friend.

And funny thing… now that I think on it… the same exact thing can be said of Japan. 

Just.. one… true (though not always consistent)… friend.

----
* Yes, including especially U.S. born students!




Friday, August 09, 2019

Oh the conspiracies! 8Chan & QAnon and what's with all the resignations?

As America bleeds yet again from paranoia-propelled madmen, let me dive today into the weird illogic of conspiracy sites and theories. We'll get to the web side of this insanity. Also, we'll also ask, what's with the wave of "retirements" from Congress and the Administration?

For starters though... The FBI for the first time has identified fringe conspiracy theories as a domestic terrorist threat. The document specifically mentions QAnon, a shadowy network that believes in a deep state conspiracy against President Trump, and Pizzagate. The FBI believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists are likely to increase during the 2020 presidential election cycle.

The FBI said another factor driving the intensity of this threat is “the uncovering of real conspiracies or cover-ups involving illegal, harmful, or unconstitutional activities by government officials or leading political figures.”

But that's all "deep state" propaganda, right? Riiiight. Half a million civil servants, two million teachers, a quarter of a million journalists, a million scientists and science-related workers, a quarter of a million intel and military officers and FBI/law professionals... all in on it together, with a degree of secrecy and competence never before displayed by any government. Uh huh.

== Our Hearts Bleed ==

After every mass shooting, everyone trots out their own nostrums and prescriptions. Oh, I agree on the top priority: defeating Trumpism and the Putin-puppeteer behind it. 

My own proposal is that we weaken the opposition to reasonable gun laws by actually listening to what passes for moderates in the gun-clutching opposition. We'll make better progress if we offer a a way to resolve gun owners' fear of a "slippery slope to confiscation." There's a germ of a reasonable fear that we should at least try to understand.

 But my own top contribution has for 25 years been a demand to punish attention-seeking murderers by taking away their NAMES. The Greeks understood this. After the New Zealand shootings, it looked as if the idea might take hold.

== Bleeding Red ==


Let's move on to another kind of bleeding -- the accelerating flight of every remotely sane individual from the Trumpist mess.  “Will Hurd, the House's Only Black Republican, Won't Seek Re-election In 2020.” And that makes what? Nine GOP representatives retiring, six in the last week? 

Are these gestures? Acts of honor? Buyouts? Or might something else in the offing? Stated Hurd: "I left a job I loved in the CIA as an undercover officer to meet what I believed to be a need for new leadership in Congress on intelligence and national security matters…. I want to use my experience to focus on these generational challenges in new ways. … I will stay involved in politics to grow a Republican Party that looks like America." 

There are volumes worth pondering in each of those sentences And yes, I sniff something I’ll hint at, below. But one factor is that Texas is becoming unfriendlier to the Party of Cheating that gerrymandered its lock on power over the Lone Star State. Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, an Air Force veteran has already announced she was seeking this Texas seat again. In the mold of Amy McGrath, who is America's best chance to chase away the nation's worst traitor. Proving yet again my earlier point that this is time for a broad coalition, not splitter puritanism

But the bleeding continues. What is to be made of the sudden departure of the US Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats? And the even more sudden retirement of the current deputy director of national intelligence, Sue Gordon, who Trump banned from some White House briefings? To be clear, the new appointee, Joseph Maguire, the current Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, is a retired admiral and an apparently solid guy. (I always find the Navy reassuring, as when Adm. Mullen joined Def.Sec Gates, replacing Donald Rumsfeld during those almost-as-treasonous Bush years.) 

Ah, but here’s a question we never used to ask. Who will be the acting director? Sue Gordon was a career CIA officer who should have - by law - been made acting DNI. Apropos to a reality star president, Trump has turned to “acting” officials who are not always vetted by Congress. Think about that.

Also leaving, U.S. ambassador to Russia John Huntsman, a former Utah governor and 2012 presidential candidate, who served as ambassador to China in 2009. A sometime libertarian candidate, as well, Huntsman is known as something of a non-foxite (i.e. somewhat sane) Republican. “Huntsman's departure comes as Fiona Hill, the top official on Russian affairs at the National Security Council, is also expected to leave her post this month.”

And yes, there must be more to this recent wave than just professionals unable to stomach things-Trump anymore -- a “great judge of character” who has been later “betrayed” by the same “great guys” more often than any ten other administrations, combined.

Shall I tell you what I sniff? Watch. Watch for a move at least partly led by Mitt, some time in the late fall or winter.

== The Last Gasp of Sane Republicans? ==

Oh. Keep an eye on the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, which released Volume 1 of its report on Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election; it states that “the Russian government directed extensive activity, beginning in at least 2014 and carrying into at least 2017, against U.S. election infrastructure at the state and local level.” 

Read this report about the report, which elaborates and confirms Robert Mueller findings of all-out war against our institutions. One chilling quote: "… pro-Kremlin bloggers had prepared a Twitter campaign, #DemocracyRIP, on election night in anticipation of Secretary Clinton's victory.’ …If Russia's preferred candidate does not prevail in the 2020 election, the Russians may seek to delegitimize the election.”

Relevant to today's topic -- this report was issued by one of the few islands of sanity left in the Republican-controlled Senate, a committee wherein a cabal of Democrats and a few residually adult-sane Republicans (RASRS) refused to be controlled by Moscow Mitch McConnell, and instead did their duty.

== Conspiracy madness and our ruined immune system ==

Okay, now down to the promised stuff... conspiracies! We need to get ready for the tsunami of election interference, meddling and lies, much of it in the form of deep faked images etc. Our salvation will come from experts who appraise lies with modern tools… which is why Fox/KGB shills wage all-out war on fact-checking services.  To see how bad it can be… and how some of YOUR friends on YOUR side may be susceptible, read about QAonon

“Traditionally, the audience for conspiracy theories are those who feel marginalized from ordinary politics and are disengaged. Now the most prominent conspiracy proponent is, arguably, the world’s most powerful person.”  

This article about QAnon is so (scarily) consistent with what I’ve said in The Postman, in Earth and in Existence and also The Transparent Society.… that webs of citizenship have to be built upon some sense of common narrative and the sort of trust that arises out of open information flows.

“Much as there’s a robust online community extending the narrative of virtually any TV show, movie or beloved work of fiction, QAnon’s bakers are taking the narrative sketches offered by Q (the mythical, John Galt-like supposed Trump insider who offers QAnon tantalizing bits of Truth)  and extending them into a rich and detailed fantasy world. While there’s ample fan fiction about well-loved stories like the Harry Potter series or Star Trek, many fanfic aficionados choose to extend flawed texts, fixing their shortcomings and amplifying their strengths. Its far more fun to write fanfic for a bad show than for a perfect one, and the narrative put forward by Q on 4Chan and 8Chan is deeply flawed. It is filled with events that haven’t transpired and predictions gone wrong.

“What is perhaps most remarkable about QAnon is how resilient it has been to obvious setbacks, including the inconvenient truth that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama have been arrested.” … “Most of the popular QAnon podcasts feature sponsored advertising, notably products like emergency flashlights designed to help listeners survive the social upheavals destined to come about during The Storm.”

Ah, Holnism.

“With revelations about the use of Facebook groups by the Russian Internet Research Agency to create conflicts between groups of Americans and force cleavages within left-wing movements, it’s clear that the social media/news loop is being manipulated. What may be more relevant is the fact that these systems are also useful to those acting “in good faith”—i.e., not misrepresenting their identities or intentions—towards horrific ends.”

The author of this piece - Ethan Zuckerman - speaks of this ever-expanding tide of dangerous fantasy as “the Unreal.” He cites Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in Merchants of Doubt — that the strategies employed by tobacco companies about the harms of their product or oil companies about anthropogenic climate change were not designed to sway audiences to the corporate narrative, but to generate sufficient doubt to paralyze effective action. But clearly the conspiracy-nutter vanguard of the Unreal has surged beyond any constituency’s mere need for status quo protection. We are in a realm where the only possible outcome may be the chaos I described in The Postman.

Zuckerman concludes with 1-paragraph summaries of a number of earnest books and studies of the problem of what I call “online Nuremberg rallies” — echo-chambers of the fervent seeking only reinforcement of their drug high of sanctimonious rage.

== Soulutions, anyone? ==

Alas, the one thing we do not get from Zuckerman, or any other commentator on this problem, is a plausible proposed solution. Fact checking services like Snopes can support the majority of citizens who believe in such things, and perhaps nibble some of the more-sane out of those rallies. Dedicated debunking sites like QAnon-Anonymous can help a little. But they will not penetrate any major infection scabs with cleansing light.

What this author lacks - along with almost every other paladin of enlightenment - is any clue about the emotional dynamics and vulnerabilities at work here:

- Soa - Suspicion of Authority.  We all share this reflex, trained by generations of Hollywood films. We may differ over which pack of elites are conspiring to become Big Brother, but we’re all sure it’s somebody!  Start with this premise and you can forge a connection with your beloved, conspiracy-nut uncle. If he’s at all within reach of redemption, then try this first! You might draw him into an actual, actual (and maybe even fun) argument!  

Ask him what’s more plausible, a conspiracy by Wall Street cheaters, KGB agents-turned-Russian-mafia-oligarchs, casino moguls, slumlords, Saudi princes and inheritance brats… 

...or a conspiracy by all three million members of the so-called “deep state” of civil servants, teachers, journalists, scientists, FBI-intelligence officials and members of the U.S. military officer corps? 

Well, when you put it that way, both scenarios seem utterly insane plots from a bad 1970s thriller! Only…

…only the first one is proved to be true, top to bottom, with mountains of open evidence. And such an alliance of oligarchies and criminal gangs is wholly consistent with 4000 years of brutal feudalism that the American Revolution was all about escaping. 

Your uncle may not be convinced, but starting with your shared fundamental reflex — SoA — will give you an opening. 

On the other hand, if he’s a real QAnon asshole… go after his other main driver.
- Machismo - a desperate need for a manly, stalwart self-image, standing up the the rising tide of nerds and uppity females. There is a direct answer to this sort of small-ball overcompensating macho bluster. The counter-meme that I have found most effective is wagers

The one area where these guys accept the primacy of verifiable fact is in bar bets. So, demand that he escrow $5000 with an attorney for stakes, then settle on a fact-based bet revolving around something verifiable/falsifiable. 

I suggest ocean acidification, which can be tested with simple tools... a straw and a glass of water and a swimming pool test strip. A trip to the local beach.

 “If you’re so sure that climate change is fake, then why not offer up fair stakes, then take my money?  Any weaseling out of this means you don’t actually believe any of your bluster.”  

Nothing demolishes macho better than the devastating word: “coward!”

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Five devastating rebuttals to use with our worst allies... the mad ones who would "split" our coalition.

When I say we must stomp splitterism, I do not mean AOC and the sincere-liberal 'left.’ (Heck, my fave among the 20 DP candidates is Liz!) The “squad” types are welcome to primary old line dems in deep blue districts and create a big socialist caucus. Fine, earn it, fair n’ square. 

But some dogmatic fools - plus Kremlin provocateurs -  go much further. They aim to shatter the broad coalition against Putin-Fox-Trumpist treason. They denounce “corporatist Democrats” as “sockpuppets” for oligarchy, no different than Republicans. These splitters constitute the one great hope for Putin’s putsch to avoid 2020 annihilation.

 All of you have friends teetering along that lunacy. Here are five direct answers that might slap sense into them. 

FIRST: Democrats had power to pass national legislation for just two years out of the last 25 - the 111th Congress 2009-2010, during which these “corporatists”:

- passed the ACA, insuring 40 million more Americans, 

- banned bias for pre-existing conditions (enraging the insurance companies who then donated heavily to Republicans in 2010), 

- passed banking regulation (enraging that cabal, who donated heavily to Republicans in 2010, when many splitters didn’t vote), 

- created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau whose destruction was Trump’s top goal, 

- vastly increased auto gas mileage standards, saving Americans billions at the pump, 

- expanded support for sustainables, resulting in the solar+wind “takeoff,”

- did a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street rules (enraging that cabal, who donated heavily to Republicans in 2010), 

- passed a $787 billion economic stimulus package,

- repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell”, allowing gays to serve openly in the military, and much more…

President Obama called the 111th Congress the most productive in generations. “Measures that have almost become afterthoughts — like pay equity for women and the new power of the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco — would have been signature achievements in other Congresses. And the Senate confirmed two of Mr. Obama’s nominees to the Supreme Court — both women, one Hispanic.”  

Right. Tell us about “corporatist sellouts”! Hey splitters, even having just read that list, could you describe those bills and their effects and why you think they were just meaningless gestures by corporatist sellouts? No? You won’t even try, because knowledge can’t replace that sanctimony high. Oh, and we lost Congress ion 2010 partly because of splitters.

SECOND: Ask your splitter if he or she knows anything about the waves of legislation that have passed in blue states, where “corporatist sellout” democrats had lots of power for more than just 2/25 years. CA, OR, WA (yay Inslee), CO, NY… these have been bulwarks against Trumpism. California just infuriated Old Two Scoops by negotiating its own clean air and mileage deal with five auto giants, preserving the gains made under Obama. The list of legislative achievements under fine governors like Inslee and Brown is huge. If you want to rave “corporatist sellouts!” how about you actually know something, first?

THIRD: Most of you have seen my list of 29 CONSENSUS GOALS that every high level Democrat wants. Every one of the 20 candidates on the debate stage, along with Pelosi and all the rest, want at least this basic list of important items. Getting those 29 could save our future. It’s worth making a broad coalition to get them. In which case “corporatist” is a pretty broad and useless term.

Yes, many of you out there want more than those 29 "consensus goals." Fine! But suppose we get all 29 during the first year. We’d then have honest elections, safe DACA kids, healthcare for all children, and so much more. Then, in that vastly better nation, you and the lefty caucus can split and fight the moderates! Okay deal?

FOURTH: Ralph Nader & Jill Stein tipped the balance for Bush and Trump in 2000 and 2016. 3rd party folks are welcome to campaign for Ranked-Choice Voting, which would open their path ahead without screwing us all. (Join Larry Lessig's Equal Citizens movement and help make it happen!)

Meanwhile, every sincere 3rd Party person should campaign in deep-blue or deep-red states to build their donor base and recognition. But they must pledge to stay out of Florida and key tipping states… or we need to pounce with fury. 

FIFTH: For ages we’ve heard the leftist mantra: “We can attract red district voters by offering them truly vigorous socialist solutions!” 

Alas, it’s failed in every election. Every single one. In fact, 2018 was the final, blatant refutation to this insane nostrum. Every seat gained in the House —  and the reason why Jerry Nadler now has subpoena power — came where a crewcut (or hair-bun) military vet (or similar) who loves science and justice invaded a red or purple district and took territory away from some monstrous GOP (Giving Over to Putin) shill. Every… single… one of those crucial gains. 

Again, the lefty-purity nostrum was tested and utterly failed one-hundred percent. But we did learn what works. It’s a wide tent. A broad coalition of the kind that was forged by Franklin Roosevelt. Moreover, so long as the candidate agrees to most or all of those 29 points, then goal #30 is simple. Win!

SIXTH: The bonus reason to oppose splitterism? Because Valadimir Putin. Because Putin will spend tens of millions and vast resources to encourage splitterism. Splitter memes are already pouring in a tsunami from those Kremlin basement trolls. 

Again, the Confederacy and Fox can only win against a divided Union.
In fact, here is what the AOC social democrats should do! 

Want to primary and oust some old “moderate” from your deep blue district? Knock yerself out! Create a big socialist caucus? Fine. But each of you should also adopt and raise funds for some crewcut (or hair-bun) vet who loves science and justice, helping her (or him) take back some red or purple district. Because our only chance to oust Moscow Mitch McConnell is named Amy McGrath. (Look her up.) And that’s more important than any pompous-purist-preening sanctimony high. 

By doing so, the AOC and her pals would say: "We can argue later over how much socialism to do beyond the basics, or how much of the FDR social contract to build upon. Right now, let's focus on those basics we all share. We are united in saving the USA and our revolution."

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Debate Special: Shall we let them divide us? So many consensus desires that we share.


Donald Trump and his backers/handlers know their only chance to avoid annihilation at the polls in 2020 are (1) rampant cheating plus (2) a disunited opposition. One might add (3) incite a war, and that's still possible - even likely. But politically their credibility is too low for that to help.

We've spoken of the cheating elsewhere. See Kremlin shill Mitch McConnell justify spending nothing to defend our elections, for example. I've also offered an unusual tactic to bypass the Roberts Rationalization and fix gerrymandering. You can do your part by volunteering as poll officials or poll watchers... or adopt the state assembly candidate in some pivotal purple district where this fight can best be won - close to the ground.

But #2 is the killer. Republican operatives have pictures of Ralph Nader and Jill Stein on their walls. Oh, I don't mind 3rd party candidacies (3PC), so long as they make Ranked-Choice Voting their top goal. Till we get more places with RCV, they should agree only to run in deep-blue or deep-red districts or states where they can build membership without screwing us all. Any who run in Florida or a wavering purple state are little more than KGB stooges. (And that oughta suffice to fill this comments section with flame!)


Our disunity is the enemy's goal. And now we see op-ed pieces trying to stir up drama, declaring: "Why Democrats Are So Far From Consensus on 2020." On social media you see suspicious-looking denunciations of "corporatist" or "republican-lite" or "sellout" moderate democrats. Cherrypicking points of dissension, incitement merchants posit that the 25 Democratic presidential candidates share only a loathing of Donald Trump. Their followers will soon fraction into factions. 

Let's demolish that nonsense.  Here again is my list of consensus items that ALL of the Democratic candidates are for.

* Electoral reform: end gerrymandering, rigged voting machines, voter suppression and other cheats, 
* Election money transparency, 
* Restore our alliances. 
* Deter acts of war (cyber/electoral/trade etc.) against our nation/institutions,
* End "supply side" vampirism by the aristocracy we rebelled against in 1776, 
* Infrastructure, paid fo by ending supply side voodoo,
* DACA,
* Children out of cages, refugees given safe places to live and process,
* A Marshall Plan for Central America + holding their corrupt elites accountable,
* Medicare for all Children (a start so popular the GOP can’t dare refuse), 
* Climate action,
* Restore science, R&D and technological leadership as national strengths,
Protect women’s autonomy, credibility and command over their own bodies, 
* Whistleblower protections and rewards for those revealing corruption and blackmail,
* Consumer protection, empower the Consumer Financial Protection Board,
* At least allow student debt refinancing. Analyze and start doing much more,
* Restore the postal savings bank for the un-banked,
* Basic, efficient, universal background checks,
* Basic-level Net Neutrality for consumers,
* A revised-throttled War Powers Act and limit presidential emergency powers, 
* Civil Service protection,
* Reject racism, gender-phobia, nazism etc. as evils while calming all sanctimonies,
* Restored respect for things called facts. Support professions that use them, 
* Restored rebuttal rules on "news" channels, 
* Emoluments supervision. AUDIT the cheating, money-laundering oligarchy,
* Ease out of the damned drug war (at least dont impede states),
* Anti-trust breakup of monopoly/duopolies,
* Allow pharma renegotiation and stop the tricks that stymie generics,
* Restore some of the social contract set up by the FDR-loving "Greatest Generation" (GG),

Anyone who shouts "socialism!" at that list is screaming at our parents, the GGs who crushed Hitler, contained Stalinism, took us to the moon, loved science and built the world's greatest middle class.

All democrats, almost all independents and a whole lot of RASRS want all of those things, and more! And if you think not, show us the democrats opposing any of those things! *  Better yet, look at the last time the dems had power to legislate, just two years (2009-2011) out of the last 26, when those "corporatist" dems were frenetically busy! Look at California and New York, where they've had more time. This "corporatist" malarkey comes right out of a Kremlin basement.

Are there disagreements over the vigor and/or degree various democrats would push these desiderata? Sure! Plenty of demo pols would only travel along these roads halfway as far as you would go, especially in the last six items. And "Medicare for everyone under age 26" won't satisfy you liberals... nor should it! 

But if you can't see that the nation and the world would be in a vastly better place, if we spent the first 2 years of power just checking off everything this list, then you are the problem.

Want more than that list? Your chances will be better if we first get all that! And that will come by uniting a wide coalition. After? Then split! Gather your AOC/Bernie forces for further battle. At least you'll be fighting in a nation and world that again respects facts and justice and loves the future. 

Which brings us to the tragedy. Not one pundit or politician, or liberal or moderate sage, has had the wits to offer up this list. Even though it would unify the movement.  And if even one to them offered such a list, on a debate stage, she or he would electrify the nation.


== Go for their jugular issue ==

The one thing ol' Two Scoops and the GOP crow about is "The Great Trump Economy." And who gets credit? Consider: they only did one economically pertinent thing during the last two years! That thing was vast Supply Side tax cuts for the rich

Was that the cause, then, of the 'good economy'? 

Scan this chart. Who made a difference, after entering office? Obama in January 2009? Or Trump in January 2017? Which of them simply rides momentum from his predecessor? 

What is attributable to that Voodoo Tax Rape Bill is divergence in wealth, with most of it pouring into oligarchy. Also deficits, which always skyrocket under Republicans. (Dems always - always - step on the brakes toward fiscal prudence. Please, doubters, bet me your house on that! See another chart cited below.)

This chart needs to be rubbed under noses. Pundits who ignore it should be pummeled with copies. (Thanks Russ Daggatt.)


== The candidates debate. My fantasy ==

I fantasize a certain scenario for the Democrats in 2020, peering not at the top of the ticket, but at Elizabeth Warren for Vice President… a hope that was echoed on Saturday Night Live, as Kate McKinnon finished her hilarious EW sketch
   
Seriously, Dems have been raising up that office to greater power and effectiveness. Liz would turn it into a policy and legislation powerhouse, not seen since LBJ. And in the process, she’d gain the administrative experience she now totally lacks.

Who’s my pick for the top? I have none, yet – and neither should you – though anyone who shreds our coalition, as Gillibrand did, is a pariah to me. (And watch it Kamala; you can prove your toughness without damaging the cause.) 

I do lean toward an experienced and reassuring hand – ideally a governor. My fantasy is someone old enough and secure enough to plan in advance to resign after 3.9 years, giving EW a boost to begin her eight.

So… Jay Inslee? Governor of Washington State and universally known to be a strong reformer who can also lure purple voters into the tent? I like his climate emphasis, though it is second in priority to ending the cheating that’s wrecked politics and negotiation in American life. (What can we accomplish till that’s done? See my FACT Act.) He should make clear that’s even higher priority (as Mayor Pete has done… Butteigieg 2032!)

Ah, well. Inslee is only 90th percentile in persuasive charisma. Not enough. And Bernie's so much like my dad, in every way. And although Ol'Joe is a lot better than you guys credit... still, it's bad news and a bad sign that I have to keep saying that.  

So... maybe I'll skip the fantasy, make my spouse happy, and just go all-in with Liz... She's the smartest person in the room, and her only "skeleton" is that she believed the proud Cherokee stories told by her Oklahoma grandma. So awful.

Anyway… on to grand concepts!

=====

*(Certainly not the crewcut veterans who run well in purple and red districts and who took back the House for us. They are just as important as the AOC types. In fact, Amy McGrath has a chance to unseat Moscow Mitch McConnell. Can you think of anything more important?)