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Member since: 2001
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Democratic Primary voting should ALL be ranked-choice.

The Party should require it.

We implemented ranked-choice voting for local offices in our last municipal election and it was very effective. I admit I had some doubts, but it was much less difficult to implement than was initially feared.

It was particularly helpful in the case of a mayoral candidate who dropped out between the early voting and the final election. The next choice on each voter's ballot just moved up one choice level in the tallying process.

It sounds complicated, but the commission in charge of implementing it hired a PR firm to do some excellent resources- videos and booklets- to explain it, and held community meetings for people to ask questions and play a game version of the election to try it out.

As the process morphs from the days when people cared enough to attend Party meetings, participate in local, district, and state Party process, and do much of the vetting and early whittling-down of candidate slates that way, to the era when no one wants to have to do much more than look at media on their deevice screens and then cast a vote, we're going to have larger and larger candidate fields.

Ranked-choice voting is incredibly helpful, effective and, yes, transparent (if implemented, tallied, and reported properly) to winnow a field and make sure that everyone's voice is heard.

It would also help somewhat with the problem of people getting SO attached and SO passionate about one particular candidate that they get disgusted or turned off from the process if that candidate loses early or drops out.

In our last mayoral race I was able to look at a 5-candidate field and think not "which ONE do I have to throw all my energy and my vote into" but "Which one do I like BEST? And next-best? Who is my last choice?"

It gave me a very different perspective on the candidates and the election itself, and I think it resulted in the election of a mayor who had considerably more interest and support going into their first term, because while the winner might only have been 37% of the voters' first choice, they were more than fifty percent of the other voters' second choice and thirty-some percent of the other voters' third choice.

Ranked-choice voting would reduce intra-party rancor and division, provide a more effective and transparent way to reflect Democratic voters' preferences and concerns, and I really believe it would give our eventual nominee a much stronger, more united push behind them in the general election.

Just sayin'...


What People Die From During a Pandemic

Surprisingly, in most pandemics, a large percentage of the mortality rate is due to "secondary factors".

Meaning, the victims were pathogen-positive, but the pathogen itself would not necessarily have killed them.

Secondary factors include:

Delays in seeking care. People who feel "a little off" don't seek care, or fail to administer self-care such as taking rest, hydrating, monitoring their temperature, using anti-inflammatories, treating the symptoms, etc. Or they would be willing to seek care but have no access to care professionals who can prescribe the regimen most likely to help their immune system fight the pathogen, and who can tell them the 'trigger symptoms" (such as a particular degree of fever, or a particular length of a symptom's persistence, etc.) to escalate treatment.

Delays in diagnosis. If there is a treatment protocol, the longer diagnosis is delayed, the longer the pathogen has to multiply, deplete body resources and immune response, and the less effective the treatment protocol may be.

Inadequate or incorrect care. With or without a known, effective treatment protocol, poor care can increase mortality rates by exposing people in crowded, poorly-designed care facilities to re-infection, or by shortages of needed resources such as fluids, medication, equipment and person power to administer treatment.

Sequelae and secondary infections. An already pathogen-compromised immune system is vulnerable to other infections and/or can respond in unhelpful ways to physiological events associated with healing and/or long periods of inactivity.

Those four factors are the culprits to a greater or lesser extent in almost all high pandemic mortality rates.

Once a pathogen is identified and an optimal treatment protocol is developed, mortality rates will decrease quickly even without a specific "cure" medication or vaccine, IF and ONLY IF, communities have in place the resources to decrease the influence of those four factors.

That is:

Awareness and encouragement for everyone to self-monitor and respond to even vague or minor symptoms quickly, supporting preventive measures such as taking time off work to rest, understanding the importance of hydration and helping the body fight inflammation, and knowing what "trigger symptoms" are, so that they can avail themselves of...

Freely available diagnostic screening. This should include triage for severity, education on the treatment protocol, monitoring and support for self-care, and prompt routing to...

No-cost, good-quality, meticulous medical and nursing care for moderate-to-severe infections and...

Careful identification of vulnerable patients and preventive care and isolation to prevent sequelae and secondary infections.

Even without a "cure" medication or vaccine, providing those four things will keep mortality rates in any pandemic much lower than they would be otherwise.

The first one is pretty low-cost to the taxpayer, as it is mostly public education work and perhaps a temporary regulation to prevent employers from firing employees for absenteeism and to provide subsidies for mandated sick pay.

The second one costs more, but is still comparatively cheap if you mobilize emergency services at the community level so that there are trained technicians at clinics, fire stations, shelters, and mobile care stations in every community. EMTs, emergency personnel, and public employees unable to pursue ordinary duties due to preventive quarantine shutdowns can be trained and mobilized at relatively modest cost levels (compared to the costs of dealing with large numbers of acute cases and dead bodies, anyway...)

The third one is costly but there are ways to reduce the cost without compromising quality. Offer free video-based training and teleconsults to family member caregivers and community volunteers, provide "treatment at home" resource packages freely at community care stations, and use your more professional, highly-trained and carefully-equipped caregivers to do mobile monitoring and telecare consults with careful protocols to prevent transmission in the process.

The fourth one is very costly, true. It would involve effectively commandeering hospital and acute care beds and transport resources and setting up a monitoring and care network that can gather and analyze data on vulnerability factors and sequelae and hopefully develop protocols to reduce severity and incidence. But again, it's less costly than dealing with overwhelming numbers of acute cases and dead bodies.

A competent national government would already be working to implement #1 and prepare for the other three.

Many state and large-city public health offices are already on this, but their efforts will not be as effective as they could be with national coordination and extra resources directed to them.

And so when the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold in America we are likely to see a mortality rate considerably higher than necessary.

Because we allowed Russia to install an unelected moron to pwn the libs. Still happy about that, MAGAts?

Please read the foregoing carefully, and do your own preparations. Educate yourselves. Don't hesitate to treat physical symptoms, even vague ones, seriously. TAKE the time off work. You can't get another job if you're dead. Don't stockpile stupid stuff like masks, but DO make sure you have a good supply of clean water or filters, anti-inflammatories, nutritious and easy-to-prepare food that a pathogen-compromised system can deal with.

If you don't have one, invest in a good thermometer to monitor fever. Learn to count your own pulse and respiration rate. As soon as you feel unwell, track temperature, pulse and respiration a few times a day and record your results. Take notes on the development and severity of your symptoms.

Keep an eye on your family and loved ones. Encourage them to take care of any symptoms, share your monitoring protocol with them, be prepared to help them out.

We seem to be largely on our own, but that doesn't mean we can't survive this.


Making it Through the Summer

This is the fifth Presidential election cycle I've watched through the Democratic Underground lens. If you count the mid-term general election cycles (and some of them have been dillies) it's the tenth election cycle altogether.

They have more in common than you might think.

We're passionate about our beliefs, our issues, and our candidates. DU includes a spectrum of Democratic voters, Party members, and citizens that varies quite a bit on several axes (the plural of axis, though sometimes it does feel like the chopping tool...)

The things we care about matter to us, a lot. And they are important things generally. Certainly you cannot call climate change, economic security, human rights, the future of democracy, national security, or even many of their component issues trivial.

But there are a lot of them. And while most of them matter to most of us, our perceptions of priority, urgency, and feasibility vary greatly.

And then there are the candidates. Issues of trust, confidence, character, experience- when the stakes are high, where do our priorities align? Can we allow that people make legitimate changes in their beliefs, and reflect growing understanding and experience? Or do we mistrust "I know better now" as end-justifies-the-means pandering that will inevitably go back to old patterns once they're in office?

How much can we trust what a candidate we like says? How much can we trust any news source or media outlet to accurately relay information? What about a candidate we're doubtful of?

The most disturbing change I have witnessed over all the election cycles DU has shared is the extent to which information creation and distribution channels have been weaponized in the service of amoral, tacit or downright covert agendas.

The dangers of having a core of 'mainstream' or 'establishment' media are familiar to all of us. They are not new, as those of us who lived through the 'invisible propaganda' cycles of post-WWII western anti-communist bloc maneuvering can attest.

The new dangers of having NO core of accepted 'news of record' media that could be held to minimal shared standards of accuracy, reliability, and transparency feel different. Things fall apart, the center is not holding...

We are facing a reckoning with the First Amendment, and it's a lot easier to see the potential harm than the possible good of reassessing the risks and benefits of unregulated communication that uses shared commons for dissemination. Yet there are no certain remedies- and to do nothing is to enable continuation and increasing damage to self-government.

Believe it or not, here at DU we have it pretty good in some ways. This site has and enforces Terms of Service that include basic norms of adult interaction and politeness in disagreements and differences. We're not always perfect, sometimes not even very good, at applying that enforcement, but we retain the goals. We keep trying. We try to find a balance between questioning our own performance, and maintaining our convictions.

And we have learned over the years that election cycles make thing pretty lively. And increase the difficulties of maintaining those standards exponentially. We've implemented tools to help- the Primaries forum and Candidate fora, places where members interested in a higher level of passionate threshing of my beliefs against yours can interact within the focus of those candidates and contests.

But inevitably they leak. Because as the season grinds on, so many of us become increasingly certain that the stakes are now apocalyptic and that ONLY our ideas, ONLY the things we KNOW, for SURE, with PASSION, can save us, can save you, can save our nation.

And anyone who doesn't agree with that is an idiot, a troll, or part of the problem.

Stress mounts. People take breaks. GBCW posts become part of the landscape. The blue Jury Duty header seems to pop up every time we refresh the browser. Deja vu all over again.

Here's just a few suggestions for making it through the summer with sanity intact:

Stop trying to control what you can't control- i.e. other peoples' beliefs. They will either get it or they won't, and the more you try to make them, the more they won't. This is a reality of human nature.

Study a little history. Believe it or not, the stakes have been higher. We've faced down nuclear annihilation in the offing, candidates getting murdered here in the U.S., major riots in major cities, whole generations of young people getting conscripted into save-our-capitalist-oligarch wars. Yes, climate change is urgent and real and an existential threat. It's not the first. It may be the last, but making yourself crazy about it won't help keep that from happening.

Keep reminding yourself of the common ground we share, rather than the differences that divide us. Us here on DU, first, but there's a bigger problem of disunity and if we can make progress here, we'll be doing something that might have a larger effect where it's needed.

Practice deep breathing or mountain hiking or whatever helps you de-stress. And look at two things: How much you don't know (my word, the world is complicated and change is multi-layered and fast and people have all kinds of concerns I didn't even know were concerns, and interests I never even heard of, and they MATTER to the people who have them as much as mine matter to me...) and what's really important to you and the people you love, TODAY. Remember that death and chaos that may have nothing to do with politics are always out there waiting, and that you are alive and well and able to hug a loved one, walk a dog, enjoy a sunset is no small thing.

And remember, if you can, how much changes how quickly in an election cycle, and how little anyone knows about anything THIS time. Whoever was right last time is pretty much guaranteed to be wrong this time. What we think we learned has already become obsolete. You can't stop the current, the breakers will keep rolling. Learn to surf.

And vote blue.

No matter who.


Summary: Every bad thing about every Dem candidate. And one good thing about each.

Okay, here goes:


EVERY Dem candidate has:

Made a serious mistake sometime in their past.

Proposed legislation or policies or administrative regulations that I disagree with.

Voted for legislation, supported policies, or administered regulations that I detest.

Said something incredibly stupid, clueless, and hurtful to/about some group whose historical experience really makes me feel like "they totally didn't need THAT, from a DEMOCRAT, dammit!"

Been cranky, mean, dismissive, insensitive or rude to people who worked for them.

Eaten something that indicates they are Utterly Unenlightened by my standards.

Had (even still has) beliefs about some policy that I still disagree with and/or dislike and will strenuously resist if/when they become President.


EVERY Dem candidate IS NOT [Redacted].

I will vote blue, no matter who.

This is actually the first time I have EVER believed that an existential threat to my home and my world overrides every other consideration of the policies I support, the progress I work toward, the beliefs and principles I want my Party to embody.

Every candidate for the Democratic nomination has flaws, in some cases serious ones that I really have reservations about.

But those reservations shrink to near-invisibility when I look at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, at the DoJ, at ICE and C&BP, at our heritage of National parklands and common resources, at the Department of State, at the Supreme Court, at Moscow Mitch and his minions, at the mobs of MAGAts still faithfully turning out for their Trumpenjugend rallies...

I will vote blue, no matter who.

And I will devoutly hope that whoever that "who" is, they have not been critically damaged during the primary process by the Troll and Bot armies of the GRU, and the unwitting shills and tools that potentiate those attacks. I will hope they have not hit a vulnerability threshold that will enable the GRU and its UnAmerican collaborators to steal another election.

This is no longer about "we must reject anything that isn't the very best avatar of all we believe in", or even "if we support someone with a flaw, or two flaws, or even a horrible flaw that contradicts a deeply-held and cherished value, we become as bad as the people threatening that value and we empower evil in the long run."

Not anymore. There will be no long run if we do not stop the destruction of our Republic, NOW.

I will vote blue, no matter who.


Inferring from A to B-- this sequence of events:

A: John Kelly, former White House CoS, decides that the interests of the nation take precedence over the well-established and generally honorable obligation of discretion as a former WH official. This is obvs not a decision Kelly takes lightly, but the interests of the nation are paramount to him. He begins talking.

B: Within 24 hours, Hope Hicks, Reince Priebus, and Sean Spicer are suddenly back on the WH payroll, where presumably, legal obligations will assure they do not have the option to make such a decision.

Dude, could you BE any more transparent? Well, translucent orange, anyway.

Seriously, if I, a hick from the sticks who tries real hard not to pay too much attention to the shenanigans at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the interests of my own mental health, can figure that one out...

...WHO do you think you're fooling?


It's all "the economy, stupid!" until it becomes "the democracy, stupid!"

Marching over the cliff to tyranny in the wake of "great jobs numbers!" and "record stock markets!" may be a painful, costly lesson our nation is about to learn.

White Americans set ourselves up for this by cheap-assing on public education after "Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka" all those years ago when our horror at the very idea of our children sharing a classroom with BROWN kids overwhelmed our common sense.

First they came for the Civics classes... then critical thinking went by the wayside... then public education deterioration got turbocharged in the wake of male Americans realizing that those uppity women were grabbing for control of their own bodies, and science classes had to be kicked to the curb to make it possible to teach lies in "health" class... then they came for the history textbooks...

...and here we are, people.

But, hey, the stock market looks GREAT!

Shut up and eat your mystery meat nuggets fast, you'll be late for the shift you just got pinged to do at your third job. Better go before you go, too, if you know what I mean.

And look GRATEFUL, dammit. If you get uppity we'll decide you're an unfit parent and your kid will head off to the camps, too.

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