Imagine.

An Essay by member William:

Imagine for a minute that suddenly the 22nd Amendment were repealed, and that a President could serve more than two terms.

And further imagine that President Obama declared that he was going to run for the third term. And still further, that as a result, no Democrat would oppose him for the nomination. And one final feat of imagination: that it was a virtual certainty that Obama would win the third term, by about the margin he had over Mitt Romney in the last election.

Would that be a strongly positive thing for the country, for the vision of it which we have consistently been striving for? I think not.

Yes, it would be a Democratic victory; it would not be a takeover of the executive branch by the Republicans. Roe vs. Wade would be safe for a while longer. But of course the almost certainly small margin by which Obama would win, would insure that the Republicans still controlled both houses of Congress. And given the absolute hammering the Democrats took in the two midyear elections during Obama’s term, it is likely that the Republicans would even increase that majority, maybe almost to a veto-proof majority. If not quite that, then close enough so that all that Obama could do during the third term would be to veto most of the many bills which the far right-wing House and Senate would send to him. And what if the Republicans threatened to shut the government down if he did not accede to various of their demands? And what if they refused to raise the debt ceiling? What leverage would Obama have, beyond making his “grand bargain” in which he agreed to massive cuts in Social Security and Medicare?

And what about the environment? Obama can’t do anything now to compel any agreement in this country to cut coal and gas emissions. He can do a few very small things around the fringes, but nothing substantial. He can’t really do much of anything in any area, because the Congress will not pass any bills he might propose. All he can do is veto some bills, and make speeches, which the media always seems to adore, but which don’t accomplish anything concrete.

We’ve now had a year of Obama facing a Republican controlled Congress, and he seems to have virtually given up on getting anything positive accomplished; he is simply trying to mute the worst effects. Another four years of that would not only be fruitless and dreary, the country would decline in so many important ways. A stalemate is better than a loss, but we do not have the luxury of being able to let things get worse in so many crucial areas, hoping for a change four years after that. In fact, why would anyone reasonably expect that four years from Obama’s re-election to a third term, the Democrats would suddenly become able to retake the Congress? Right now, the Democratic grassroots is withering; the Democrats have almost no strength or organization in a majority of the states. Republicans control most state legislatures, and they use this power to redistrict things even more in their favor. Some Democrats may not want to realize it, but the Democratic Party is actually in a state of serious weakness, despite holding on the presidency .

Now, if one follows this logical line, it seems pretty clear that an Obama third term would be far from sufficient or significant. And of course, that is the “best case” in that scenario. Obama barely won last time; what if he were to lose this time? Consider not only where we would be for the next four years; but who could suddenly arise to take back any of the lost ground in the next election?

What is absolutely. desperately needed, is a President who could do the following things:

1) Win by a large enough margin to at least help Democrats to make some inroads in the House and Senate, maybe even win the Senate back. This is so crucial in terms of the Supreme Court seats which will be coming up before too long. A Senate completely controlled by Republicans will simply defeat any moderate-to-liberal nominee. It should be very clear that the rabid and doctrinaire Republicans who control that party, do not care about protocol or reasonable dealings; all they care about is getting their way. If the Supreme Court seat has to remain unfilled for four years, while they vote down every nominee, they will do that. Thus a Democratic Senate is essential. At the very least, we need a Senate which is closely divided enough that maybe a couple of East Coast Republican senators might finally agree to support a moderate nominee.

2). Fight the Republicans. Do not cave into them. Use the power of the presidency for all it is worth. Use Executive Orders; threaten to withhold funds from legislators’ pet projects; go directly to the people and urge them to voice their support for the President’s position. Do not make bad deals just to avoid conflict. Call the Republicans out, and explain to the American voters what is at stake; and how pernicious are the Republicans’ views on these crucial issues. In other words, try to change the national dialogue. That is something that has not been tried since Bill Clinton was president. No one in recent times was more effective in winning the national debate on economics. If it weren’t for Clinton explaining this all once again to the American people at the last Democratic convention, Obama would probably have lost the election, because he somehow lacked the ability to make the case in simple but strong fashion. Or maybe he did not identify closely enough with the Democratic Party. Democrats have to win the national debate to be able to gain popular support for their positions and programs. Otherwise, the Republican-dominated media drowns it all out, and we are in a state of perpetual deadlock, at best.

3) Build up Democratic strength on the state and Congressional level. Democrats cannot. accomplish much of anything, if all the state legislatures are controlled by Republicans. Much of what can be done on a national level can be undone by the states. And having state legislatures in which Democrats show some power, can help in Congressional elections, because there is a deeper bench of potential new candidates. Right now, the Democrats nationally have virtually no young talent, which is frightening. This desperately needs to be fixed, and without delay.

The key point I take away from all of this, is that it is not enough for the Democrats just to win the next presidential election. It has to be won by someone who has the skill and strength to do all of the above, and more. And of course it is beyond obvious that if the Democrats actually nominate someone who cannot win, things immediately get much worse. We have to win, but not with just anyone; with someone who can set about fixing things which have steadily gotten worse in the last sixteen years, through a variety of failings and faults of a variety of people.

I think that it should be abundantly clear that the only possible person who has at least a chance to achieve this, is Hillary Clinton. Senator Sanders cannot win, nor could he effectively govern. Vice President Biden would at best just be a continuation of all of the limitations of the Obama Presidency. Hillary has by far the best chance of any Democrat to win. She is smarter than all of them; all the Republicans, and the media, too. She has vowed to undertake a massive rebuilding of the Democratic Party on the state level. She has seen and done more than enough in her career to have a very clear knowledge of what the Republicans and the vast right-wing conspiracy is about. She is a fighter, and she will not give in for the sake of convenience. It is so overwhelmingly clear to me that she is the only possible person who could change the course that the country is heading on, that I am virtually amazed that she is not getting the support of every single Democrat and Independent who truly cares about the the state of this nation.

Alternative History

An essay by our member, William:

 

August 25, 2019

The country is in the third year of the Jeb Bush presidency. It is in the midst of the hottest summer on record, with temperatures in the 100’s in many states. Climatologists who three years before warned that the “tipping point” on climate change was close to being reached unless drastic measures were taken, now state that it is virtually impossible to stop it. Republicans in Congress have gutted every environmental law and control previously on the books, and coal emissions have skyrocketed. Fracking has extended to both coastlines, and the Alaskan National Preserve. Pollution covers most American cities, in some cases worse than in the 1970’s, before the former EPA air quality standards were in place. The intense heat of course holds the pollutants in the atmosphere longer. Asthma, emphysema, and other lung diseases become epidemic.

The Food and Drug Administration has been essentially eliminated by the Republicans. Outbreaks of poisioning due to contaminated foods are becoming commonplace. Some state governors have warned their citizens that they cannot guarantee the safety of any food or drug on the market, and that extreme care must be taken.

Social Security benefits have substantially diminished, under the cuts decreed by Bush and his Republican dominated Congress. In his Inauguration Speech, Bush vowed to end Social Security, saying that the country could no longer afford it, but he promised to do it over a five year period. There are to be no more new Social Security recipients beginning January 1, 2020.

Medicare benefits have been severely slashed, under the legislation which offset these cuts with a payments of up to $1,000 a year to allow the elderly to buy insurance. However, with insurance rates skyrocketing, most seniors are unable fo afford such plans, and are reportedly using the money to buy dog food to eat. Bush has promised to crack down on this fraud; and the Congressional leaders have indicated that the payments may be terminated altogether.

The stock market, which rose 500 points in the three months after Bush’s election, which conservative pundits hailed as a “Republican Rally,” has now dropped 2500 points since then, as unemployment has risen, and spending is down. Corporate profits have done well in some industries, with many more jobs being outsourced or eliminated than in previous decades. Economists believe that we are already in a recession, the depth of which is not yet known. Republicans have promised to further cut corporate taxes, which they say will stimulate the economy; even though the reduction to a 20% top rate two years before has not done so.

An article in the Washington Post, entitled, “Were We Unfair to Hillary Clinton?” has gotten some coverage, though most of the broadcast media has ignored it. The article wonders whether the media was unfair to Clinton during her campaign, ignoring most of her policy proposals, in favor of covering matters such as her email, her speaking style, and her wardrobe.

Part of the article is as follows: “It turns out that Ms. Clinton was correct when she predicted a downturn in the economy if the Republicans won the White House. She was also right when she warned that the Republicans. if given control of all three branches of government, would quickly move to end Social Security and Medicare; while most of the media scoffed at this, saying that it was just fear tactics from a candidate desperate to win. And unfortunately, her warnings that global warming would drastically increase, seem to be proving out. Perhaps we in the media paid too little attention to these policy issues, in our more pervasive coverage of personal matters.” The article goes on to say, “We may owe Ms. Clinton an apology. But whether we do or not, our hope is that we will work to improve the way the media covers campaigns in the future.”

This article drew scornful reaction from the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd. Writing on the company’s blogsite, which has taken the place of the former print editions, Dowd said that Clinton’s retirement from public life was “akin to Miss Havisham sitting in her room filled with cobwebs and stale wedding cake.” Dowd also likened Clinton to Lady Macbeth, Daisy Buchanan, Medea, the Medusa, Lizzie Borden, and any other character she could remember from her high school and college literature courses.

The broadcast media, now “All Conservative, All the Time,” hailed the raising of the chocolate ration from two grams to three.

This could all be real headlines and news from this date. Or there could be an alternate history where things are much better. Who can tell? In the words of the great Philip K. Dick, from his novel “The Man in the High Castle,” “Believe.” And realize that if it has not already happened, we might still have a chance to keep it from happening.

Marketing Towards 1984??

—-An essay by our member William:

1984-NovelWhen I first read Orwell’s “1984” as a teenager, the thing which most terrified me was that the totalitarian state he envisioned, existed with the full support of its populace. There was some physical coercion, of course; and relentless surveillance of potential rebels; but the great mass of the people wholly bought into the government’s propaganda. There is no way that each of these people could have been individually brainwashed, the way that the protagonists Winston and Julia ultimately were. No, this was some kind of mass thought control, not done through individualized torturing, but simply playing on what Orwell saw as popular ignorance and credulousness, by the use of mass marketing techniques.

That book was written before technology has unfortunately (in my view) come to dominate much of people’s lives. Computer programs can now do even better what the cynical marketers of the “Mad Men” era were trying to achieve with their slogans and jingles. I never bought any of those products because of ads, so I used to look at it all somewhat amusedly. They could do all the beer commercials they wanted, but I wasn’t going to drink beer. And I wasn’t going to buy a car because some slinky woman was sitting on top of it, purring to me about how sexy it was.

But the somewhat amusing but ultimately sinister world of TV ads of course developed into something even more sinister: the marketing of politicians, and the attempts by the same types of marketers to manipulate the views and votes of the populace. First it was developing a certain kind of look for the camera; or coming up with a slogan like “I Like Ike.” But as this field developed, and as computers were able to calculate and refine such things much more comprehensively than humans, it became much more insidious. Millions and millions of dollars were poured into marketing research, to find ways to seduce, coerce, or manipulate the voters into preferring one candidate over another. And not at all surprisingly, the bulk of this is increasingly being done by the Republicans, a party controlled by corporations which now have billions of dollars to spend; and which contemplate even more billions of dollars in returns, by getting their preferred corporatist candidates elected.

A frightening microcosm of this can be seen in California, where I live. California was a state which was once controlled by oil and railroad barons, who bought and paid for the entire state legislature. When the Progressive movement of early 20th Century America found its way to California, it resulted in the election of the one progressive governor in 100 years, Hiram Johnson. And he helped to spearhead the three populist voting devices of the Initiative, Referendum, and Recall. These were intended to break the stranglehold of the corporate controlled state legislature, by letting people create Propositions which could go straight to the ballot, and be voted on, without the legislature being able to stop them. And people could vote to recall a politician who was felt to be guilty of malfeasance or ineptitude.

Well, as one might cynically expect, the good intentions of this system were eventually taken advantage of by billion-dollar corporations. First, they realized that they could develop and fund their own initiatives, and put them on the ballot. Then they would devise marketing schemes which would convince the people that they were not voting to benefit corporations, but that they were fighting against intrusive government, or “liberals,” or reducing their taxes. So some horrific propositions were put on the ballots. But actually, most of them were defeated, through some good, if underfunded, advertising by the “anti” forces. However, the corporations have been able to defeat virtually every populist consumer-based initiative, by swamping the airwaves (and I mean swamping; something like every five minutes, one of their ads would run) with messages carefully constructed to manipulate the opinions of voters, or make them think that “up is down,” the way that Orwell’s then-fictional totalitarian state did.

The typical buzzwords used (they are pretty easy to deduce, since we hear them all the time), are: “This will raise your taxes”; “We can’t afford to spend this money now”; “This will further damage a struggling economy”; “It will cost jobs”; “It is supported by the trial lawyers, who want to make money by filing frivolous lawsuits.” They have been tested and re-tested by the computer programs, and by immense marketing research. And very sadly, they seem to work. Most people just don’t have the time or even the insight necessary to sift through these messages and try to figure out who is paying for them. I always thought that the best way for the vastly underfunded consumer side of things to fight this avalanche of ads, was to try a little ju jitsu, by simply running a few ads saying, “All these ads you have been seeing, urging you to vote No on Proposition 58? Take a look at who is paying for them. Billion-dollar corporations which want to rob you of the ability to see what actually is in the foods you are buying. Stop them from duping you into buying genetically engineered and dangerous foods. Vote Yes on 58.” But no one actually runs such ads, and I don’t know if they would work, in any event. So the corporations spend $100 million to make $3 billion, a good investment for them. And this profit is poured into more of such marketing research and mind control manipulation.

Of course this has become pervasive in actual person-vs.-person elections as well. Both sides do it, but the Republicans, awash in corporate billions, have a lot more money to do so. And they are much more machiavellian about it. The Republicans have long ago abandoned whatever moral compunction they may once have had. They do not believe in science; they do not believe in facts; their sacred text is anything which can get them to win a national election. And very tragically, they are getting better and better at it. The fate of our democracy depends on people smartening up, and becoming more impervious to this evil marketing. And of course it depends on the reversal of the “Citizens United” decision, which opened the floodgates to “dark money” coming in to election campaigns, with no way for people to discern who is really behind it.

Now, as we know, the Republicans will do anything to defeat Hillary Clinton. Hillary is the greatest, and maybe the last, threat to their efforts to completely take over every branch of government, plus the media. At such a point, people would have no way to know what the truth was; they would just be brainwashed by the political leaders, supported by the corporate-owned media. We could be fighting Eastasia, or not; we could now be allies with Eastasia; who could tell? It is not really that difficult to create a totalitarian state, if you have control of all branches of government, AND the media; AND if you have trillions of dollars, and advanced computer metrics to show you how to keep this control.

So we are already seeing the results of these billions (and I literally mean billions) of dollars being spent on marketing research and advertising, designed to poison the voters’ minds against Hillary Clinton. We read that they are trying to figure out exactly how to get women voters to turn against Hillary. It is simply a marketing problem for them; like how to convince people not to buy a competitor’s detergent. They develop focus groups, and they try the various ads out on them. They found that the harsher ads were rejected by potential women voters, so they are going to try “softer” ads, all designed to change the minds of the women voters who originally favored Hillary. Will they be successful in this? Let us all fervently hope not. But we know that people are very susceptible to cleverly positioned ad campaigns. Just like in “1984,” the goal is to figure out what people’s greatest fear is, and then play upon it, to convince them that Hillary Clinton will cause the things that they don’t want. The accuracy of any of this is of absolutely no concern to them, just like it wasn’t to Goebbels in Nazi Germany, where his “Big Lie” technique was perfected.

And as we have discussed before, the Republicans believe that their best line of attack is the personal. They really don’t want to debate issues with Hillary Clinton. They want to convince people that she is a bad person, that she lies, that she cannot be trusted. All of these are nonsensical, but marketing research shows that you might be able to convince people of anything, if you say it frequently and cleverly enough. There is not one shred of fact indicating that Hillary has ever lied or misled about one aspect of political life; and probably not her personal life, either. But that does not stop the corporate marketers, who will run ads which say “she can’t be trusted,” over and over and over, like the Chinese Water Torture, designed to break the will of the tortured person. They will try to paint her as some kind of evil figure who wants to accumulate imperial power, when it is really they who want that power. They will doctor photographs of her to make her look unpleasant. And rest assured, they will seize on the most infinitesimal misstatement in any debate or speech to proclaim, ” You see! She lies! She misleads! You cannot trust her!” And the media, which is supposed to be a neutral and fair-minded watchdog, is really in the pocket of the corporatists, and will cheerfully aid them in this brainwashing technique.

We can still prevail in this election, and must do so. We cannot be overly dispirited by the misrepresentations in the broadcast and print media. But we have to provide the Clinton campaign with as much money as possible to help them to combat the Republicans’ insidious multi-billion dollar brainwashing campaign. It is a great shame that you need money to combat money; but right now, this is what has to be done. And then of course there still is a place for grassroots campaigning, where you can talk to the people one by one, and show them that billion dollar funded marketing lies are just that. We can all play a part in that, even as the main battles are inevitably fought in the media. Never in my life so much as now, have I felt that “1984” could become a reality. But it is not an inevitable reality, as long as we recognize the danger, and do not become paralyzed by fear or despair when confronting it.

Oooops! Now That I’m Running, I’ve Changed My Mind…

Lucky Hillary is in this race or these guys wouldn’t have any talking points. – SophieCT

Isn’t that the truth!

I can’t help myself! I just have to post these comments made by hypocritical Republican Desperado candidates who suddenly regard Hillary Clinton as The Enemy Of America who, to quote Carly, “Has no achievements”.

h/t to SophieCT for finding this.

Clinton’s campaign set up a press filing room for reporters covering the debates at her headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. The walls of the room were covered with posters showing past statements from several of the Republican candidates praising Clinton.

All Righty, then. Let us move onto Quotable Quotes from times no so long ago:

I want to start with Carly, who seems to have no problem accommodating the Patriarchy’s oldest trick in the world: Let’s get this girl to attack that girl AKA “The Cat Fight”.

Carly, the truth is: You would still be fetching coffee and donuts for some dickhead with half your brains if it weren’t for 2nd Wave Feminists like Hillary Clinton, who stood in the rain and snow and incurred multiple bruises so that you could  move up in the world of business and  then show up one day running for President while behaving like an insufferable ingrate. Thanks for confirming that in your one accidental moment of truth about Hillary:

………..And now, for quotable quotes from the Boys In The Band:

Well Donald! In between calling women dogs, slobs and fat pigs, you said this about the woman who, now that you are Running, is suddenly “The worst Secretary of State Ever”:

Gang, I don’t even know what to say to this Dumbo, except that the quote below is surprisingly cogent – at least for him:

And how about you, Marco, you plastic-faced clown?

Did I hear you say in that debate that “God has blessed the Republican Party with some good candidates. The Democrats can’t even find one”.

What a hypocritical desperado you are. How’s this, Jesus-Man: “Alas you pharisees. Hypocrites all!”. Read this and have a gulp of water, you two-faced asshole:

A Bush admitting that Hillary is admirable! I’ll alert the Media!

Republican Presidential Debate #1

The GOP Clown Car is taking their show on the road!

In case you’re just tuning in, there are A LOT of Republican candidates–too many to have an effective debate (17). So Fox, the host of the first debate, said they would take the top 10 in national polls and let them debate each other (the Serious Debate™) and the remainder would be be relegated to the Kid’s Table Debate. Fox kept their poll sources a secret all this time, but now we finally know: “Fox News’ Decision Desk said the five polls included in Fox’s average were conducted by Bloomberg, CBS News, Fox News, Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University.”

Iowa and New Hampshire haven’t been happy about this turn of events because, after all, it’s their role to decide who makes the cut and who doesn’t. I guess the RNC Rules and Bylaws committee has a weird set of roolz too.

The Serious Debate begins at Thursday, August 5, 2015 at 8:50 PM, east coast time and shall include: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich.

gop_debate_2016_01

This runs until 11 PM, at which point, it will be just in time to tune in to the last edition of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (#JonVoyage). The star-studded Grand Finale will be 52 minutes long. Don’t ask me why 52 minutes. (He will have to come up with something superb to beat Colbert’s Finale. Not that was really grand.)

The Kiddie Hour is from 5-6 PM, where the remaining guys will attempt to make the case that they belonged in the Serious Debate, if only Trump didn’t swoop in and take their place at the podium: Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore. (Who the heck is Jim Gilmore?)

Ohhh, I’m so excited, I can hardly wait!! I’ve got my popcorn, but more importantly, my Scotch ready and this Rolling Stone drinking game.

So, join in for the live blogging fun—Mystery Science Theater 3000 style.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 133 other followers