First, a correction. In my blog a couple of days ago I incorrectly identified Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia, who’s in a bit of hot water because some old photos of him in blackface have surfaced, as a Republican. He is, in fact, a Democrat.
A lot of people are talking about the State of the Union speech, and most of them are more qualified than me to comment, especially if they actually watched it, which I didn’t. I hear he talked, proudly, about ‘abolishing civil rights.’ I’m guessing that’s more because he doesn’t understand the term civil rights than anything else.
The one thing I want to bring up about the speech is one thing that I think is being misreported almost everywhere. That is Nancy Pelosi’s ‘sarcastic’ clap. Everybody’s talking about it and most of what you see are still photos. I saw a bit longer clip, a 5 second video and, when I went back to look for it so I could link to it in this blog, I couldn’t find it on Google, even when I specified videos. Just the stills. So, I went to YouTube and watched a slightly longer video with several reactions to the speech. (Not one of which included Tulsi Gabbard. As they panned the crowd, the news people must have been deliberately avoiding her.)
Two seconds before the famous ‘sarcastic clap’ Nancy Pelosi STOOD UP. There was nothing sarcastic about that clap at all. It came after a Trump statement about bi-partisanship and Nancy Pelosi was standing and clapping, warmly and enthusiastically.
This, just a couple of days after one of her top advisors was busted telling insurance company execs that Pelosi had no intention of letting Medicaid for All pass and even more recently after she referred to the Green New Deal as ‘the Green Dream or whatever.’ Now, that’s sarcasm.
This is the kind of thing that used to end people’s political careers. I think we should go back to that. To be clear, I’m talking about Nancy Pelosi’s career, and not Wendell Primus’. Wendell Primus is just an ‘advisor’ so if Nancy gets primaried in 2020, he’ll just go be an advisor to somebody else.
Here’s what happened (according to the Intercept, but there was a great amount of detail to the story, and it hasn’t been denied): Wendell Primus, who is Nancy Pelosi’s advisor when it comes to health care, recently had a meeting with some executives from Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and told them (here I’m paraphrasing) “Don’t worry, guys. We have no intention of actually passing Medicare for All.”
Now, Medicare for All is a very popular idea with the American people. Over 70% support it. Among Democrats, I believe it’s over 80%. Among supporters of Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard, it’s 100%, at least, and would be higher if that were even mathematically possible.
Pretty much the only people in America who oppose it are that stubborn 30% who believe that Noah’s Ark was a real thing, and insurance company executives. And, apparently, Nancy Pelosi.
There are two reasons why I imagine she’s against it: First, it was Bernie Sanders’ idea. Not that universal, single payer health care is Bernie Sanders’ idea. There are some countries that have had it for over a hundred years now, which is a bit longer than Bernie has been alive. Just the incredibly simple expedient of taking a program which already works for the elderly, and lowering the age limit to 18 (because people under that can still be on their parents’ programs), and bypassing a lot of the problems of bureaucracy and a complicated rollout.
Second, and by far the more important reason, is that if they pass Medicare for All, they will stop receiving donations from the insurance industry. That’s how corrupt the U.S. government is. They would rather let people die, literally, than give up their juicy campaign contributions.
This really should be the end of Nancy Pelosi’s career. In a sane world, it would be. But, I’m not holding my breath.
The “Overton Window” is the range of ideas which are acceptable in public discourse. They are mainstream enough that a politician could espouse them and not immediately blow up their career.
There is little doubt that Bernie Sanders moved that window significantly to the left. Nobody at all was talking about raising the minimum wage before him. Now, it’s happening. Bit by bit, a city here, a state or a company there. And it always gets widespread support, because now it’s within the Overton window. Before Bernie, few politicians would have suggested raising any taxes at all, but now, the idea of significantly raising taxes on the rich is popular. Gay rights was once outside of the Overton window. Now it’s squarely within it. Ditto marijuana.
Times have changed and that’s a good thing. But there is, of course, a side effect of the Overton Window. When it moves, and some radical ideas become mainstream, new radical ideas will crop up to take their place. You can always go further to the left. You can always go further to the right. To assume differently is to assume limitations on the human imagination, and that would be an unwarranted assumption.
So, now that we can talk freely about raising the minimum wage, and Universal Health Care, some people are starting to talk about a UBI (universal basic wage…basically, just give everybody a lot of money) and a cap on wealth accumulation.
That idea backfired on George McGovern badly, but maybe it’s time it was revisited. First of all, if you have a 70%, 90%, or even 100% tax on people who are making above x income, it’s not punitive. In fact, it’s really very easy to avoid. The person who is making such a huge amount of money that they could be in that tax bracket just has to re-invest some of that money before tax time – maybe hire a construction crew and flip a few -or a few hundred – houses; maybe open up a new plant or hire some people; maybe drop a shitload of money on advertising; or maybe donate a bunch to some university which is coincidentally doing research which could benefit your firm in future. In any event, you will continue to make money hand over fist, and the economy will keep chugging along.
One of the big problems of trickle down economic has always been that it lacked a mechanism to encourage that money to start trickling down. A 100% tax would have that money trickling down like Niagara Falls.
Researchers think they may have found Amelia Earhart’s plane, on the bottom of the ocean but not far away from an island, and that will be very interesting news if it proves true, but not for long. Beyond saying “We’ve found Amelia Earhart’s plane, and she died in 1937. She did not survive and live for decades on a desert island, and she was not a prisoner of the Japanese, and she was not abducted by aliens,” there’s not much else to add.
But, you can guarantee that somebody, somewhere, will say “This news is timed to distract from (whatever the larger scandal du jour is that day). Today, someone was saying that the the Northam scandal (Republican Governor of Virginia, and photos from his High School Yearbook have surfaced, with him posing in blackface) is timed to distract and take attention away from Tulsi Gabbard’s campaign launch.
It’s become a popular thing to say lately, and, of course, sometimes it might be true. It’s a hard to believe it was a coincidence that the attacks of September 11th, 2001, came one day after Donald Rumsfeld said the Pentagon had just sort of misplaced one trillion dollars. But to believe it was a deliberated distraction would mean that Rumsfeld knew about it in adva… oh, wait, that fits.
Still, I think in the vast majority of cases it’s just that there are so many things happening, all around the world, all the time, that of course each event is going to distract a bit from all the others. Yesterday, lots of people were watching the Super Bowl. Others were more interested in the fact that the U.S. has moved troops to Colombia, near the border with Venezuela.
People are often nostalgic about the old days (which are, by definition, the only days one can be nostalgic about) when we only had 3 TV channels and everybody got the same version of the news. Well, thank goodness that’s over. It made it much easier for the state to control the narrative.
Now, we have lots of sources, and many more stories are making it into the mix, because everybody’s reporting on the things they are interested in, and lots of people have cameras, and there are lots of cameras that are just constantly turned on, dash cams, body cams, security cameras, and so on. We need filters, for sure, or we’ll all go nuts, but the glut of information is basically a good thing. It is confusing, it is loud, and it is the sound of freedom.
I love Tulsi Gabbard. She talks calmly and rationally about the issues and, of course, is for most of the same issues I am. Definitely on the big ones.
On most issues she is, like me, right in line with Bernie Sanders. Medicare for All, of course, one of his signature issues, and a Green New Deal, which Bernie just called ‘transitioning to a green economy,’ so we can all thank Alexandria Ocasio Cortez for that new, and much catchier name. Tulsi cares enough about ending private prisons and legalizing marijuana that she mentioned them in her official campaign launching speech. That certainly differentiates her from Kamala Harris, who just loves private prisons to bits.
But recently I’ve caught a whiff of frustration, from within camp Tulsi, about a couple of ways in which she’s different than Bernie. When Bernie speaks, it’s white hot, you can feel the rage. So he gets loud cheers and draws big crowds. Also, Bernie was the first to really take on the corporations, the first to talk about a higher minimum wage and Medicare for All. It was electrifying.
Tulsi is for all those things, too. But, she’s a different kind of speaker, a different type of personality. Bernie was a barn-burner, a hell raiser of a speaker. Inspiring to listen to.
Tulsi is soft spoken. She is easy to listen to. I think the strategy for her is to get on TV and radio as much as she can . I know the MSM is blocking her. If she has to keep going on Tucker Carlson, or do interviews with the morning news and weather radio stations from Dog Patch all the way to Hooterville, then that’s what she has to do. Also, constant social media spots. Just get them out there, we’ll share them.
This election may be the tipping point. This may be the year that social media finally, totally supplants the old, bullshit, corrupt media.
Well, we’ve got a glimpse now of what a Green New Deal will look like, at least what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would like it to look like, and it’s kind of an awesome vision.
She wants to eliminate waste from agriculture, by the expedient of creating shit-tons of small farms, environmentally correct farms, with a negative carbon footprint (that is a positive thing), growing organic vegetables and such.
I think it’s brilliant because it not only helps improve air quality, making it a very Green idea, indeed, but it also puts a lot of fresh vegetables on the market, thus fighting in the war against obesity, and it could pretty much totally eliminate joblessness, and homelessness. To repeat: it is good for the environment, could end homelessness and bring unemployment down to as near 0% as possible, and will fight obesity. So much winning.
I totally agree with the program, and can even agree with an emphasis on that, but I think it needs to be part of a multi-pronged push. We also need to clean up industrial waste, by transferring the energy grid to solar and wind power, and away from coal, and nuclear.
We also need to reduce traffic emissions by having electric cars, and magnetic levitation, or hyperloop trains, and more bike paths.
And, whatever else we do, we need to plant a few trillion more trees. But I do like the healthy farms idea.
At first glance, the proposal to make Election day a federal holiday looks to me like a gimmick – a nice little vote-getter, because who can object to a holiday? I’m willing to support it, because there’s no reason to be against it, but I don’t think it really gets to the heart of the issue, which is that our elections are controlled by big donors from the get go and by the time John Q. Public marches into the voting booth, there is no one to vote for who isn’t a tool of the plutocracy.
But, Mitch McConnell’s protestations that it would give the Democrats more power makes me like it a little bit more. Anything that screws up the Republicans.
Here are some other proposals which would screw up the Republicans, by making Democracy more Democratic.
Replace the electoral college with one person-one vote. This is never going to happen because all the people screaming about it currently are only screaming because their candidate lost. Also because it’s in the Constitution, and it’s in there for a reason. The smaller, less influential states (at the time of the constitution, that was places like South Carolina and Georgia. Today it includes a lot of places like Wyoming and Alaska) didn’t want to join a union that was clearly going to be dominated by rich people in Boston and New York. There’s a logic to it, that still holds today. Also, it’s never going to happen because small states have overwhelming control of the Senate, and nobody ever votes to give away their own power.
Design voting districts by computer algorithm. End gerrymandering. This might benefit one party, then the other, as demographics shift, but it would be fair.
Statehood for D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam. This would be a big change, maybe bringing 6 new Democrats into the Senate, and forcing a redesing of the flag to cram 3 new stars in, but I think it would be a great thing. Also, a U.S. state where the majority language is Spanish = awesome.
I don’t see any of these having a chance of passing, but if Mitch McConnell objects to Election Day being a federal holiday, by all means let’s make it a federal holiday. I vote yes.