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Current location: Seattle, WA
Member since: Tue Nov 23, 2004, 11:22 PM
Number of posts: 9,292

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It is not a left/moderate/right "divide." It's more like this:

There is no "bipartisanship" with right-wingnuts whose only REAL agenda is serving their cronies, feeding the prison industrial complex, elevating those at the top higher, and leaving "the rest" to fend for themselves for the meager "slice of the pie" left

The break down of the electorate is much more like this.

1. Staunch Democrats:
People who will stand strong with Dems no matter what the Dems do.

2. Not Republicans:
People who get out to vote for Dems because Republicans are so much worse. They are at risk for falling into 3. These may not be as strongly "behind" Dems as group 1, but neither are they "moderates" in the sense that they occupy some left leaning/middle ground.

3. Opt Outs:
People who have opted out because they have given up on either party ever doing anything that actually makes a difference.

4. Disenfranchised:
People denied the right to vote for life by their status as felons -- about 4 million nationwide (not a trivial number). And about 30% of the African American male population of Alabama and Mississippi have been disenfranchised. People denied the right to vote by the suppression tactics we are seeing enacted by Republican controlled legislatures.

5. Republican Swing:
People attracted to Republicans primarily because they perceive them as the "strong ones." They go with "Strong and Wrong" Republicans over "Weak and Right" Dems. Many of these would swing to Dems if Dems demonstrated strength and gave them a real choice between Strong and Wrong, and Strong and Right.

Group 5 is not "moderate" in the sense that they subscribe to some ideology in the "middle." It is the strength they see in the right-wingnuts they find most attractive.

6. Knee jerk Republicans:
People who just see themselves as "Republican" and vote that way without much thought. Most of them probably always will. People in this group aren't keen on Trump. Some are "sticking with him," some are opting out or moving to Clinton because Trump is such a horror show. But, currently, aside from their problems with Trump, they go with Republican candidates down ticket. Some would actually start thinking twice if Dems transformed themselves sufficiently to inspire people in groups 3 and 4 to get behind them.

7. Staunch Reps/Dem haters: People whose hatred of Dems is so deep, nothing a Dem could do will ever reach them. Many are far more driven by hatred of Dems feed by the Republican noise machine than the propaganda against reasonable gun control an their commitment to "banning" abortion." (And regarding the latter, they actually have no idea what "banning abortion" would look like. They are generally opposed to incarcerating anybody for violating the "ban." Their position is more "I want it to stop." Instead of "pro-choice" rhetoric, Dems would be much more effective if they focused on the fact that a "ban" won't make it "stop." It will just push desperate women into taking desperate measures that risk death.)


The current Democratic leadership "strategy" of preemptive surrender ignores the existence of 3 and 4. As a consequence, those groups have just grown larger and larger.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. The Dems are currently trapped by insidious memes and beltway group think..

They will never win a filibuster-proof majority if they don't break free of the "conventional wisdom." They won't win of a vast majority of state administrations and legislatures. If they don't change, they will not gain the power necessary to create a far more equitable nation over the coming decades.

Unless they see the light, they will not even weld the power they do gain. (Just as they refused to use the power they had to filibuster Alito.) For example, mass incarceration is the most recent, destructive, insidious, systematic, method to keep African Americans and other POC "down." With the presidency, Hillary would gain the power of the pardon, and could use that power to mark the beginning of the of end mass incarceration. But unless she "sees the light" she isn't going to do it. But if she did, that would be truly informational change. If she used the power of the pen to decriminalize possession of drugs in quantities that were clearly for personal use, it would not be difficult to make the case that the billions saved must be shifted into treatment. Successfully shifting from incarceration to treatment would be extremely likely. When confronted with a new reality, even racists would go for it out of a belief "something" needs to be done about "those people" who are being released from prison.

But I digress. Bottom line: if Dems continue to be blind to the fact that standing strong and committing to an all out fight for the "Big Stuff" is a "WINNING" strategy, we will continue our downward slide.

All that said, there are encouraging signs of change. I will never give up on "them" because I will never give up on "us." I will never give up on our ability to either "get through" to them, or replace them.

What will it take for me to believe Hillary is starting to get it:

What to do?

As I said in my post:

Step 1, elect Hill;

Step 2, fight like hell to make her see she must "Go Big." Help her realize it's futile to "reach out" to the destructive obstructionists known as House and Senate Republicans. Help her see we are out here, and that there are so many others who would be inspired to act, if she just stopped with the "bipartisan" crap, went all out for some big things, and called on us to help her purge the House and Senate of any who are determined to stop us in 2018.

Incrementalism does not inspire. It does the opposite, it disheartens. It does not stop the downhill slide. And as we continue the slide down, down, down, more and more people will give in to hopelessness and apathy."

Incrementalism lost us the House and the Senate.

The most egregious failure was the failure to demonstrate commitment to our most basic principles, say NO to torture, and do everything in their power to see Bush/Cheney impeached, win or lose. That failure invited Trumpism. If torture is ok, ANYTHING goes. Obama's blanket amnesty for the torturers said to the nation "this is tolerable." He left the right-wingnuts in positions of power.

The right-wingnuts do not do "incrementalism." They dig their heels further in. Despite the fact that what they advocate is so incredibly destructive; despite the fact that the only interests they actually represent are corporate interests, their demonstrations strength -- their willingness to "fight, win or lose," their (false) rhetoric of "standing on principle," -- is seductive. And it has attracted an unbelievable number of Americans.

Democrats have dedicated themselves to the principle "can't win so don't fight." Over and over they demonstrate their willingness to abandon their principles in the name of "practicality."

Going Big is the only way to inspire those who have already descended into apathy. It is the only way to hang on to those that will be lost if the Democratic leadership continues "business as usual."

However wrongheaded, as long as Republicans are perceived as the party of "strength," they will come out on top. Especially when their strength is in contrast with the weakness demonstrated by the Democratic Party's leadership.

Bill Clinton got it right when he said:

When people feel uncertain, they'd rather have somebody that's strong and wrong than somebody who's weak and right.
--Bill Clinton

And I would add, "Strong and Right" beats "Strong and Wrong."

It is tragic that Bill Clinton, and now Hillary Clinton, themselves have failed, and continue to fail, to act in accord with those words.

We can, and will, fight the best "ground game" possible to win back the House and Senate. But, if we don't see a willingness to "Go Big" from the top, those who have opted out in apathy will not be inspired to get back into the game. If the Democrats stay on the incremental and practical path, it will severely undermine any chance we might have.

We do need to be screaming "Not Enough."

If the Democrats want to win back the people, and win back the sort of majorities that enable them to actually bring about meaningful change, they must start demonstrating strength. They must commit to the principle "We will fight to the finish, win or lose." That is the ONLY way they can ultimately win.

There can be no "bipartisanship" with right-wingnuts

The Dems notion that "pivoting to the middle" or declaring intention to "reach across the aisle" is somehow a "winning strategy" is one of the most misguided and destructive notions the DC Dems have every had.

And they are so damn committed to the insanity.

As the Repubs have been racing toward looney town, the Dems just keep chasing after them to "stay in middle."

One problem. They've completely lost sight of the liberal/progressive starting point that supposedly anchors the "spectrum."

And, fighting for "something I think the Republicans will let me do" is not particularly inspiring.

American's are desperate for representatives who inspire us and show us we can "make dreams come true." Like free college. Like universal healthcare. Like pardons for all who are, or were ever, imprisoned for possession of drugs for personal use. Like restoring the right to vote to all felons. Go Big!

What people want is someone who says "Hey, Join Me! I will fight to get you a whole loaf of bread. I can't do it alone. Elect the others who are committed to getting a whole loaf and we will make it happen.

What Dems give us are so called "leaders" who tell us, "Hey, Join Me! I can, perhaps, get four slices of that loaf you wanted... Or... eh... seems 'the other side' says four is too many, but, hey, well, get behind me and I'll 'reach across the aisle' and get you one slice (maybe, if it's a really small slice)."

As Lewis Rothschild put it (character in "The American President," 1994):

People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.

Trump could never have arisen, had the Dems not left such a giant vacuum.

So, what now?

Step 1, elect Hill;

Step 2, fight like hell to make her see she must "Go Big." Help her realize it's futile to "reach out" to the destructive obstructionists known as House and Senate Republicans. Help her see we are out here, and that there are so many others who would be inspired to act, if she just stopped with the "bipartisan" crap, and went all out for some big things, and called on us to help her purge the House and Senate of any who are determined to stop us in 2018.

LINES need to = FINES for SOS/County

All over, states and counties are cutting back resources to save money on elections.

The most obvious result is long lines.

LINES are no different that the POLL TAX.

TIME = MONEY. The idiom is part of the vernacular for a reason. Time is VALUABLE.

If we're going to allow lines, we might as well just bring back the poll tax.

We need federal law that sets a maximum allowable wait time and penalizes state or county agencies responsible for under-allocating resources in a way that creates wait times that exceed the maximum allowed.

An election is neither free nor fair when it "costs" ANY voter a substantial amount of time.

It needs to be Federal. We could try to do it state by state, but we'd get nowhere in "Red states." (Particularly with the latest about the Koch bros putting big money into getting "their" people elected as SOS's.)

Penalties must be substantial enough to cost the state or county much more than than any "savings" they may have gained by cutting resources in the first place.

Other ideas welcome, but I think the only way things will change is to create a monetary incentive to allocate sufficient resources to run elections well.

The penalties need to be big enough to be scary. Begging and pleading for change, appealing to conscience, none of it is flying. It has come down to this; officials need to be frightened into doing the right thing.

Regarding the "18 trillion in debt" attack on Sanders' proposals

Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center's analysis of Sanders' agenda concludes that the proposals, if fully implemented, would add 18 trillion to the Federal debt in 10 years.

In contrast, an earlier and more extensively reviewed analysis by Gerald Friedman concludes this:

After increasing in the first years of the Sanders Administration, the Federal budgetís cash deficit will drop sharply and there will be a significant and growing surplus in a Sanders second term. Instead of a deficit of $1.3 trillion in 2026, there will be a large budget surplus.

Gerald Friedman
Professor of Economics
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Estimating the Economic Impact of Sanders Proposals

What's the difference? Friedman's analysis includes the projected increase in economic output as a result of the public investment.

Four ex-chairs of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) wrote an open letter attacking Sanders' proposals and Friedman's analysis. Paul Krugman joined the chorus. Others piled on.

One problem. The CEA ex-chairs (or "gang of four" as William Black has referred to them) failed to actually "run the numbers."

Dave Johnson provides a great summary of the controversy, in a post on the Campaign for America's Future web site. Here's a sampling of responses to the "gang of four" (and the chorus echoing them) from the post:

William K. Black
Krugman and the Gang of 4 Need to Apologize for Smearing Gerald Friedman

Orthodox economists just hate the results of Friedmanís model, for the results support Bernie, rather than Hillary. Worse, they show that orthodox economists' claims that the government can do little good is a myth. They set out to kill the messenger, Friedman, even though Friedman shares their support for Hillary.

... Friedman's modeling of Bernieís plan is so terrifying Ö because it shows Ė under the orthodox economic models Ė that the government can be a powerful engine of producing "huge beneficial impacts." What is required is that our President has the nerve to junk the orthodox economic myths. Ö

Notice that they do not claim that Friedmanís "arithmetic" is inaccurate in the sense of making a computational or data input error. Nor do they attack his use of the conventional models they embrace. No, their criticism is that they hate the results of Friedmanís accurate arithmetic. They point out no errors in Friedmanís arithmetic. There is no indication that they ever checked out the accuracy of how he modeled the impacts of Bernie's plans.

Yves Smith
Krugman and His Gangís Libeling of Economist Gerald Friedman for Finding That Conventional Models Show That Sanders Plan Could Work

The original sin of Friedman's model of Sanders' plan is that it projects GDP increases in excess of 5 percent for several years running before growth levels moderate. Mind you, Friedman did this using a completely standard model.

David Dayen
The Pious Attacks on Bernie Sanders' "Fuzzy" Economics

it's worth pointing out that his economic growth numbers would simply eliminate the GDP gap that was created by the Great Recession and was never filled in the subsequent years of slow growth ó which should be the goal of public policy, however "extreme" it sounds

Mike Konczal
In Praise of the Wonk: Dissecting the CEA Letter and Sandersís Other Proposals

I would have done Gerald Friedman's paper backwards. He gives a giant headline number and then you have to work into the text and the footnotes to gather all the details. But a core assumption within the paper is that we are capable of getting back to the 2007 trend GDP through demand. We can get the recovery we should have gotten in 2009.

Ö Iíd recommend reading JW Masonís excellent analysis about why this is an important and reasonable argument to have: "In other contexts, it's taken for granted that more expansionary policy could deliver substantially higher growth" when thereís still an output gap, and if the output gap has shrunk understanding why is essential.

J.W. Mason
Can Sanders Do It?

The people who are saying that Jerry's growth numbers are impossible on their face are implicitly saying that we should expect all output losses in recessions to be permanent. This is not orthodox economic theory, at all.

To address the criticism, Christina and David Romer, two members of the "gang of four," decided it might be a good idea to actually bother to "run the numbers." They published Senator Sanders' Proposed Policies and Economic Growth.

All well and good, except that there is a major forecast failure in their model, as discussed by Yves Smith in James Galbraith Describes Major Forecast Failure in Model Used by Romers to Attack Friedman on Sanders Plan. From the article:

So why do the Romers say so confidently that Friedman is off base? They are using a different model. And as Galbraith explains long-form, it's one with a pretty crappy track record in post-crisis America.

There is little doubt that the Urban-Brookings analysis, the latest contribution to the effort to discredit Sanders proposals and Friedman's analysis of them, will, like the efforts before it, fail to stand up to serious scrutiny.

Additional references

Alan Harvey
Standard Fare or Fantasy Economics?

James K. Galbraith
interviewed on the Real News Network, Attacks on Sanders Economic Plan By Former CEA Chairs Are Irresponsible.

Mark Thomas
The Fiscal Times
Hereís Why Bernie Sandersí 5% Growth Plan Isnít Crazy After All.

Ryan Cooper
Why are big-shot liberal economists hippie-punching Bernie Sanders?

In short, the whole debate is about how much extra economic capacity there is in the economy, and some fairly strong evidence suggests that the answer is "a lot," provided the government is willing to try really hard. As Matthew Klein writes, "This supposedly 'extreme' and 'unsupportable' forecast implies American output will return to its previous trend just as Sanders would be finishing up his second term."

James K. Galbraith's Ultimate Takedown of the Critics: Response to CEA

You write that you have applied rigor to your analyses of economic proposals by Democrats and Republicans. On reading this sentence I looked to the bottom of the page, to find a reference or link to your rigorous review of Professor Friedman's study. I found nothing there.

Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the 21st Century, has an Op-Ed in the Guardian in which he discusses lessons from history and the economic implications of Sanders' proposals.

And if you are not familiar with Capital in the 21st Century, Stephen Marche's review of it is typical:

If you want to understand the world, if you want to comprehend the mechanics of the forces shaping our time, if you want to know the political choices we face, you must read it. I cannot think of a more important book published in my lifetime.

A final consideration

In addition to the question of including projected growth in estimates of the economic impact of Sanders proposals, there is another factor that gets ignored. Piketty points out that the data available for such analyses do not take understatement of income by the top decile into account. As Piketty puts it in his section on the Explosion of US Inequality after 1980, the data:

take{s} account only of income declared in tax returns, and in particular do not correct for any possible understatement of capital income for legal or extralegal reasons. Given the widening gap between the total capital income (especially dividends and interest) included in US national accounts and in the amount declared in tax returns, and given too, the rapid development of tax havens (flow to which are, in all likelihood, mostly not even included in national accounts), it is likely the Figure 8.5 underestimates the amount by which the upper decile's share actually increased.

Any regulation that makes it difficult to "hide" income would increase revenue. The effect could be substantial.

Some quotes that seem appropriate at this juncture

There are so many posts here that sap the hope and confidence we need to bring about change of any kind. I find these quotes to be a good antidote.

"Every great dream, begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
--Harriet Tubman

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."
-- Goethe

"They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds."
-- Dinos Christianopoulos

"New and stirring things are belittled because if they are not belittled the humiliating question arises 'Why then are you not taking part in them?'"
-- H.G. Wells

"Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight."
-- Bob Marley

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not."
-- Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

"You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream."

"It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."
-- Samuel Adams

"Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
-- Frederick Douglass

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
-- Helen Keller

"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."
-- Helen Keller

"Don't be afraid to take a big step. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps."
-- David Lloyd George

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader."
--John Quincy Adams

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
-- Anne Frank

"It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

"The question is not if we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."
-- Martin Luther King Jr.

I'm feeling my age.

"The activities of JennyQ apparently began on the Salon.com Table Talk forums. "

Media Whores Online was a wonderful resource in the early 2000's.

I was a "TableTalker" back in the late 1990's. There was a big migration from TT to DU in 2004. I can't actually recall what prompted it.

And then there was the "Censure and Move On" petition / email group back in 1998. When that began we had no idea what it was destined to become.

And BartCop (Terry Coppage, who died too young just a couple years ago).

The Clinton impeachment witch hunt woke me up to the "vast right-wing conspiracy." Conason and Lyon's "the Hunting of the President" laid out the players and connections.

Then we were hit by the 2000 (s)election.

I was thinking about one event just a couple days ago. Bartcop's fundraiser for Julie Hiatt Steele at James Carville's restaurant in DC. I met David Brock there. "Blinded by the Right" gave us a picture of what we were up against from the inside. I had a lot of respect for him at that time. He seemed embarrassed by all the attention he got at the event. Later, his Media Matters site became another great resource.

Seeing the role he is playing as propagandist is so disheartening. Who knows? Maybe he'll have another awakening and give us the inside scoop on that.

Enough reminiscing. There's a new chapter ahead.

"wide-ranging foreclosure abuses" -- there's more to the story

Companies like Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo and Chase ended up being stuck with an additional $25 billion settlement just for the tawdry document-fudging "robosigning" scheme that helped accelerate the foreclosure crisis.

I am glad Taibbi included this, but there is more to the story than the mortgage fraud and abuses that got so much press.

One aspect that we hear almost nothing about is that fact that the banks that served as securitization trustees for those giant investment trusts refused to engage in the most basic loss mitigation procedures -- procedures that were previously standard practice throughout the mortgage industry. Had they done so, I have no doubt that a countless number of the foreclosures would never had occurred.

I have learned this from personal experience. My partner and were pro se litigants in a case involving Citibank that stretched from 2008 to 2014. It's a long story, but suffice it to say, in the course of the case we became experts of sorts on the unlawful, negligent, and bad faith conduct that permeated the system. (Much of which continues.)

By failing to engage in the most basic loss mitigation steps, the banks displayed a mystifying level of negligence and bad faith. They exhibited absolutely no interest in protecting the interests of the investors. Because they were selling the bonds to each other, their failure is a truly bizarre display of acting against their own interests.

Another thing we learned is the extent to which the state courts enabled the unlawful conduct. From beginning to end in our case, the law was clearly on our side. Nevertheless, we lost in superior court and the appellate division. It was truly mystifying.

Ultimately, the Center for Social Justice at Seton Hall took up the case and petitioned the Supreme Court of NJ on our behalf. Although we lost there too, the fact that the the center took up the case was vindication that we weren't "crazy."



That's something we used on the old tabletalk political forums many moons ago.

It stands for "Do Not Feed The Energy Creatures."

Put them on ignore. They just aren't worth the energy.

Why? Beltway group think.

Too many Dems believe Sanders' "socialist" ideas are toxic. Just as they have believed that any fight for the principles we really care about will bring the wrath of... well, somebody... down on them. There will be a "backlash." The Republican noise machine will kill us (not that they call it that). And on and on.

Such beliefs and rationalizations for not "rocking the boat" are never challenged inside the beltway (or by the people "out here" who have internalized the rationalizations). Classic group think. The beliefs of the insular group just keep drifting further and further away from reality as those inside the insular group reinforce the increasingly irrational beliefs.

Sanders campaign is challenging beltway/establishment group think. But it's a hard nut to crack. By its nature, group think is a powerful social force.

It's not hopeless. Redemption is always possible. Sanders' campaign is chipping away, and, win or lose, will generate positive ripple effects into the future. If someone so "radical" can't make it to the White House this time, he will have paved the way for another candidate advocating real change to make it in the future.

In the meantime, it's up to us to just keep chipping away at the rationalizations and memes. (e.g., Can't win so don't fight; there'll be backlash; or whatever the latest excuse for inaction might be.)

The only way they can truly "win" is if we bow out of the fight.
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