Saturday, February 13, 2016

Exploding ACA Premiums: Why Hillary's Proposed Extension of Obamacare Will Not Help Americans



"What really troubles me is the assertion that we ought not aspire to achieve the best, most equitable and just solutions to our most serious problems because that is unrealistic, politically infeasible and dooms us to fail. This criticism of Bernie Sanders' platform is really unsettling.This argument that we ought to tamp down our political aspirations has taken many forms as it is oft repeated by those politicos who seem terrified that Bernie might actually win the Democratic presidential nomination" - Donna Smith, on smirkingchimp.com

To see and hear Hillary proffering her "pragmatic" solutions to the ongoing  health care cost crisis, (in the last debate with Bernie Sanders), was enough to make a cynic laugh. In fact, anyone aware of the facts on the health care situation to do with Obamacare (aka the ACA) would be more likely to cry. As per a Wall Street Journal article ('Insurers Flag Deepening Losses on Health Care', Feb. 11, p. A1, A10) Obamacare this year is looking at a "36.8 percent increase in premiums."

Yep, you read that right. And to add insult to injury,  the increase in key prescription drugs (that seniors especially use) will likely increase in cost even more. This will force  them to have to choose between groceries and meds. A Hobson's choice if ever there was one.

If Hillary - who plans to keep the ACA as it is - has any real plans to fix this broken program one wonders how she will do it so it doesn't bankrupt most citizens. As the WSJ article notes, the problem at root is serious losses by the insurance companies that Hillary insists be kept in the loop - but Bernie Sanders wants to ditch as the major contributors to the problem.

The article cites Humana, Inc. as the "latest to flag its losses" which are expected to total $176 million including this year. Meanwhile, Anthem Inc. barely broke even and UnitedHealth Group, Inc. "said it had losses of about $475 million on its 2015 ACA plan business and booked $245 million projected 2016 losses"

These results have led to (p. A10): "negative margins of 3 to 4 %  on individual plans" and paved the way for the expected increases in premiums. After all, if as Obama and Hillary demand,  health care be kept a business (since insurers are part of the mix) then profits will be incorporated. The profit expectations will also be continuously  increased so higher and higher premiums must be expected. Further, with further losses on the ACA's horizon the insurers are already looking to even greater premium rates in 2017.According to Roy Vaughn of Blue Cross Blue Shield (ibid.):

"The insurer will need to seek another rate boost for 2017 to try to get us to a level that makes us sustainable".

But, of course, none of these ACA plans will be sustainable so long as younger citizens, especially of the healthier 22- 30 age group, refuse to sign on. The whole basis for the ACA in the first place was that the total medical burden would be shared, and so younger,  healthier ACA signees would ensure lower costs for the sicker, older ones. But this isn't happening.

Leading one to ask if Americans are really, really prepared to put up with this BS. The only plan that can work, in fact, is Bernie's 'Medicare for All', though WSJ cynics like Holman Jenkins Jr. (in a recent column) insist Sanders is nuts to offer it because seniors would "never allow a raid by everyone else on their Medicare:"   Seriously? Other needy citizens represent a "raid"? Seems Jenkins like the other tools really do want to start an intergenerational war.

After all, to the conservatives and especially the Reepo -backing jackals of the WSJ,  we are not all in this together, we are each man (or woman) for himself and devil take the hindmost. Charming! Social Darwinism at its most fecal and feral.

But Medicare seniors aren't out of the hole either so long as drug costs are not controlled. I can aver to that having had to spend a lot of money on prescription drugs this year just to get a gout attack under control, as well as an ear inflammation. Fortunately, like millions of other seniors, I didn't have to choose between food and meds. Many millions do!

Critics of Bernie's single payer proposal like to make it out as "pie in the sky" but I guess those who say that would rather have bankruptcy and "shit in the face". NO? Then what's the alternative? If you are just going to accept the status quo of the ACA - which even Obama admitted wasn't perfect - then it means greater and greater health care costs will have to be borne each year. This, even as the rest of the advanced world laughs at our venal stupidity and myopic sense of priorities.

"Heh, heh, heh, look at those dumbass yanks! They finally got a guy running for president who can help dig them out of their health cost hole and they want to toss him down a drain. Fuckin' idiots!"

If we want to prove our exceptionality to the other advanced nations (whose citizens enjoy health care as a right),  then we need to prove we can not only do it too - but better.  This as opposed to lamenting every goddamned day that "it's too costly", "it's too impractical", "it's too socialist" blah blah blah.  Because truly exceptional nations don't make excuses for not attaining the ultimate security for their citizens: their health without massive debt.

We have a choice, and it is a real one: Stick with the status quo of higher and higher health and drug costs as Hillary insists we do, or break free and liberate our propagandized collective consciousness. But the latter means choosing Bernie, and then - after he gets in -joining with fellow energized citizens to raise holy hell to make sure our reps act on our behalf. It will be difficult, make no mistake, but you tell me what other choice we have?

See also:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/donna-smith/65964/dear-americans-please-stop-dreaming-of-a-better-nation

And:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/dave-johnson/65965/is-bernie-sanders-promising-free-stuff-to-buy-votes

Excerpt:

The idea that things We the People “get” from government is just “free stuff” misunderstands the purpose of government. We the People established our government as a mechanism for all of us to decide to get together to do things that make our lives better. In a democracy, if We the People decide it is a good idea to, for example, have public schools, does that qualify as “free stuff?” Or is it an investment in making our lives better? And, while we’re at it, an educated population makes the society better.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Detection Of Gravitational Waves From Colliding Black Holes Vindicates Existence For Both


Depiction of the gravitational disturbance from two colliding black holes dispersing gravitational waves

In 1915, in a remarkable achievement of theoretical physics, Albert Einstein used an abstruse form of math known as tensor calculus to show how gravity arises when mass and energy warp space time. The ground breaking Einstein field equations can be summarized in the tensor form:

G mn   =  - ½ g mn  G=  - 8 p T mn   

Where the  T mn    denotes the associated  “stress-energy” tensor which incorporates internal stresses, the density of matter and its component velocities (u, v, w or in some texts: u1, u2 and u3).   From this one can see that if no matter is present, one would have:  G mn   =  0

If matter is present there must then be internal stresses and velocities so that:  G mn   =  K mn  where  (as seen from the field equations):  K mn   = - 8 p T mn   
 
We have then for the  T mn  : analogous to the g’s in standard form



T 11      T 12      T 13        T 14
             T 22     T 23         T
24                         

                         T 33         T 34
                                         T 44


=


p 11  + r u2, p 12 + uv,    p 13    +r uw,  - ru    


                    p 22  +
r v2,   p  23  +r vw,    - rv   


                                             p 33 +
r w2 ,      - rw 
      
                                                                            
r
 
Which again is still vastly oversimplified. A year later, based on these equations Einstein predicted that massive objects undergoing the right kind of oscillating disturbance should actually emit ripples in space time: gravitational waves that propagate at light speed. Of course, this prediction remained controversial for decades because the mathematics of general relativity  - a tiny bit of which is presented above - is so complicated. Besides, many theoretical physicists noted that even if the waves did exist, detecting them would test the very limits of our technological capability. This is given that most predictions included estimates for their wavelength as low as  10 -14 m. To fix ideas this is about the diameter of an atomic nucleus and is only an order of magnitude larger than the fermi (fm). (The LIGO design is such that it is capable of detecting a gravitational wave with a wavelength 1000 times less than the diameter of a proton.)
 
One of the earliest pioneers in gravitational wave detection was Joseph Weber of the University of Maryland. In 1969 Weber even claimed to have discovered them. He used a detector consisting of two massive aluminum cylinders 1.5 m long and 0.6 m wide, one of which was in Illinois, the other in College Park, Maryland.   Weber's contention was that a gravitational wave would stretch a bar and cause it to vibrate like a tuning fork and electrical sensors could then detect the stretching.
 
Weber's problem was that other physicists were unable to reproduce his published results, leading some - like IBM physicist Richard Garwin-  to argue that the universe would have had to have converted all its energy to gravitational radiation in 50 million years for Weber's claim to be valid.
 
While Weber's efforts were stillborn, he is still regarded as the father of gravitational wave detection and his research triggered the development of the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory). Now, we have learned that an international team using LIGO has detected a slight stretching and squeezing of space-time from one of the most violent events in astrophysics: two colliding black holes.
 
LIGO’s discovery, accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters,  see abstract e.g.
https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.061102

not only provides the first direct evidence for gravitational waves but also opens the door to using them to study the powerful cosmic events that create them.
 
Unlike Weber's aluminum drum detectors, LIGO features 2 L-shaped detectors (one in Hanford, WA, the other in Livingston, LA)  made up of two perpendicular arms totaling 2.5 miles long. Then a laser beam is split and travels along both arms, bouncing off respective mirrors to return to the L-intersection. Normally, the beams are aligned so they balance each other out and hence there's nothing to detect. But if a gravitational wave is intercepted it creates a tiny mismatch which is what LIGO detects. (One of the authors of the paper has referred to it as a "chirp".  The effect of this chirp or ripple changes the arms' lengths by a tiny amount, and that change can be detected by lasers.
 
Based on the paper cited in the above link, the two black holes are each roughly 30 times the mass of the Sun. They evidently merged some 1.3 billion light years from Earth. The  gravitational waves themselves were generated in the final moments before the black holes merged. The signal was brief but definitive and we on Earth have now received it.

The measurements are dramatic proof that gravitational waves do exist. The signal in the detector matches well with what's predicted by Einstein's original theory, according to Saul Teukolsky, of Cornell University, who was briefed on the results. It matches predictions of the ripples produced by two large black holes, in the final moments before they merge, swirling together at an enormous speed.

Another gratifying aspect is that this find puts the question of black holes existence to rest once and for all. It is in fact the most direct observation of black holes ever made. We acknowledge that black holes can't be seen with ordinary telescopes, so their existence has been inferred by the x-rays detected from binary systems.  Mathematically, the very brief periods of less than a millisecond betray an extremely compact volume. The x-rays indicate accretion to a large mass. Together, these can be matched to predictions given in the Einstein general relativity equations and Voila! the black hole emerges as an object consistent with the observations.


Unlike the x-rays signals from binary systems (stellar envelope mass accreting onto the hole's event horizon to generate them) the newly detected  gravitational signal comes directly from the holes, and it is virtually incontrovertible proof that the holes are out there.

As Teukolsky avers:

"If black holes didn't really exist, you couldn't explain these waves,"

We will now await other confirmations of this find, but certainly from the Physical Review Letters paper it looked very much like 'case closed'.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A TV Series ('11-22-63') As Dumb As The Book It's Based Upon


Actor James Franco (as 'Jake Epping' - 'Jack' in King's book 11-22-63)  looks over a Dealey Plaza model in preparation to go back in time to try to stop Lee Oswald from killing Kennedy. Trouble is the TV series like the book is based on the "Oswald dunnit" myth.

More evidence the elites and their propaganda lackeys are doing their best to get Americans to accept the canned nonsense and BS that Lee Oswald killed JFK: a new TV series (to run as a streaming vehicle on Hulu) based on Stephen King's daffy pseudo-sci fi novel '11-22-63'.

As I noted at the time King's  '11/22/63' came out, he admitted creating his lead character,  school teacher "Jack Epping", to attempt to travel back in time to stop the "nasty, snarling" (in one perp walk photo King referenced in an MSNBC interview in 2011) Lee Harvey Oswald "from carrying out his foul deed". So King, having been suckered into the Oswald dunnit myth,  decided to write an 849 page "gorilla of a book" to further the crass disinformation disgorged in the Warren Report.

The problem is that King's thesis is bollocks. It is based on the false historical presumption that Lee Harvey Oswald was the perpetrator and sole assassin. (Thanks to the Warren Commission, which was really a creature of Lyndon Johnson, as opposed to an official government investigation such as the 1978-79 House Subcommittee on Assassinations which found a "96% probability of conspiracy")

That King,  the media and the powers behind it could even believe they can sell this pile of ripe merde is beyond belief.  Not only that, but that they could make an eight part adaptation of the book, and enlist 500 extras to participate in this sham - as well as actors like Chris Cooper and James Franco. (Not to mention shutting down the center of Dallas for 2 days to "recreate the scene" - according to a recent TV Guide account)

In his original 'Morning Joe' interview on Nov. 16, 2011 King declared:

"I am prepared to get my ass kicked by conspiracy theorists on my book tour!"

And indeed he did, as researcher after researcher held this horror hack's feet to the fire for getting abundant facts wrong and revising history wholesale in his gargantuan novel - that almost rivals Vince Bugliosi's bunkum ('Reclaiming History')  in its fictional license and liberties.

When Scarborough pressed him for the basis, say avoiding a conspiracy plot, King was blunt.

"You know, Ockham's Razor and all".

Okay, hold it right there!  Invoking Ockham only works properly when applied  to a hypothesis concerning a natural event, or phenomenon! The reason is simple: we expect all natural events or phenomena to conform to a limited number of defined natural laws, including: the 2nd law of thermodynamics (entropy law), Newton's laws of motion, and the conservation of mass -energy. In addition, the primary attribute of most natural laws is the simplicity of their hypotheses, i.e. economy of assumptions.

The problem inherent in applying it to the Kennedy assassination is that this event is a fundamentally HUMAN driven act not a natural act or based on a natural phenomenon. It is imbued with human motivations, plans and agendas. Indeed, it is  the plausible presence of human subjective contaminations that automatically places the event in the realm of the  unnatural  so that Ockham's Razor cannot be logically applied.

In effect, we are making a deliberate separation between the causes and effects which govern the natural world, say like solar eclipses, coronal mass ejections, asteroid flybys etc. and those which govern human affairs. The latter are enmeshed in complexes of emotions and ideological agendas that can't be quantified like Newton's laws of motion, or simplistically reduced to one cause-one effect relationships. In addition, humans - unlike natural laws- are capable of deceit and misdirection. So, from many points of view, it would be foolhardy to reduce the realm of human behavior - including putative conspiracy - to the model applicable to simple natural laws. It would require something basically approaching a general denial that humans would or could ever act with duplicity. Which is total nonsense.

From this point of view, King ought to be ashamed for even suggesting such a thing - or that Ockham's Razor could legitimately be generalized and used as a litmus test as if the Kennedy assassination were like a solar eclipse or the planetary occultation of a star.

King did refer in his 2011 interview to assorted "conspiracy theories" (which he claimed to have investigated), but they were all of the weakest variety: the Mafia -Sam Giancana Mob theory - i.e. the Mob whacked him because he set his brother Bobby - as Attorney General - loose on the mob with his hearings, when Giancana & Co. allegedly allowed JFK to win Chicago and hence Illinois electoral votes in 1960; or "the Cubans did it" conspiracy, i.e. a cabal of disaffected Cubans nailed him for not providing air cover during the Bay of Pigs and so allowing them to be captured by Castro's revolutionaries and imprisoned. And lastly, the 'Fidel did it" theory - that Castro engineered the assassination to get back at Kennedy (for allowing the assorted CIA attempts on his life)

Nowhere,  at no point, either in his book or in his interview (or the Hulu adaptation),  is the key evidence cited that character Epping would need: the CIA's  201-289248 CI/SIG file on Oswald (released after the JFK Records Act) bearing the letter ‘D’ on the cover sheet,  indicating  a CIA Staff D, or SIGINT (signals intelligence) operation run in concert with the National Security  Agency or NSA. As pointed out by Peter Dale Scott (Deep Politics Quarterly, Jan. 1994): “In 1961, when William Harvey headed Staff D, he was assigned the task of developing the CIA Assassinations Project, ZR/Rifle

Most researchers who are serious understand that ZR/Rifle at the behest of Harvey was re-directed against JFK. The tipping point for most of us was when the spooks - like David Atlee Phillips, e.g

became aware of Kennedy's efforts at rapprochement with Castro, via aide William Atwood. (It had been Phillips who ran all the cut outs (fake personae, duplicate Oswalds, fake files etc. ) to implicate Oswald as a commie nut in league with the KGB and Soviets – all the better to paint him as the one lone nut assassin in Dallas.

This has been known for over 20 years by researchers and yet King's character (and King himself) were evidently too dense or clueless to patch it together.

King then ran off the rails, displaying even more lack of attention to historical details, by asserting to Joe Scarborough that:

"Oswald won Hell's Lottery!"

He made this offhand blurtation in connection to Oswald being hired at the Texas School Book Depository on Oct. 16, 1963, or a mere six days before the assassination. But it was no "lottery" that he won, rather being targeted by Ruth Paine to ensure he was there in order to play the patsy role. King made reference to Paine and her testimony that Lee left his keys, and other possessions as he left for work on the fateful day. All of which are lies.

Paine herself was a deceitful, untrustworthy witness who never truthfully acknowledged, either before the Warren Commission or a later New Orleans Grand Jury, that her sister (Sylvia Hyde Hoke) in fact worked for the CIA - while her husband's (Michael's) mother, Ruth Forbes Paine Young, was connected to Allen Dulles (the former CIA Chief) who JFK fired after the Bay of Pigs. (James Douglass, 2008, JFK and the Unspeakable, Orbis Books, p. 169)

Let us also recall that Dulles was appointed by LBJ as one of the Warren Commissioners. Between Dulles and Hoover (LBJ's good pal) all the documents and access for the Warren Commission could easily be managed and cherry -picked to drive the conclusion toward the lone nut nonsense. The latter did, however, serve a purpose in the warped reality of the Warrenites - as it justified the Commission avoiding the Oswald as KGB assassin  ruse.

Ruth Paine, who King seemed to hold up as some kind of unquestioned paragon, also never acknowledged in any of her testimony that she withheld from Lee the news of a better paying job offer made on Oct. 15. This came by way of phone call to the Paine Residence from Robert Adams of the Texas Employment Commission. According to the documented materials presented by author James Douglass (op. cit., p. 171):

"Adams spoke with someone at the Paines' number about his being prepared to give Oswald referral for permanent employment as a baggage handler at Trans Texas Airways for a salary $100 a month higher than that offered by the Book Depository's temporary job".

Adams then left a message with whoever took his call for Oswald to contact him about the job, but this was never done. Adams tried to phone for Oswald the next day, and was told he "wasn't here". Why? Why wasn't the better paying job information passed on to Oswald? Given Paine's background, and her connections to CIA people like her sister and Allen Dulles, the obvious reason is to put the patsy in place.

Here in a nutshell is the real reason King chose to do the hackneyed "Oswald dunnit" theme for his book, as well as the streaming Hulu adaptation: He was bloody lazy and it was a damned sight easier to regurgitate the official humbug than having to do real research and dig up the actual conspiracy (which we now tie to the CIA and William Harvey in the NSA via the Staff D operations and Oswald's CI/SIG file).  

Even TIME in its recent (Feb. 15, p. 55) write up about this farce essentially calls it out as being too simplistic to demand an 8-part series. ("The premise is so simple that conspiracy theories don't even enter into it.")  The problem then becomes violating a fictional version of Ockham's by expanding the fictional purview far beyond what is actually needed to narrate the pseudo-account.

Thus, a single lone nut-based story ought to wrap up in 4 parts or less. Obviously, a real conspiracy theme - tracking down conspirators like David Atlee Phillips, George Joannides and others-  would take more. Not to mention lead character Epping having to track down all three teams of assassins in Dealey Plaza (triangulation of gunfire) to stop JFK's murder as opposed to just one guy in one building. THAT would have delivered a real impact as well as logically- justified suspense, excitement as opposed to the phony, contrived alternative on offer from Hulu.

But as TIME notes: "Eight parts is too many and the series goes down several blind alleys".

Ignoring the main point that the whole Oswald dunnit angle is a blind alley, the biggest of all. At least King -- in his interviews- could have admitted he lacked the patience or background to put more ballast into his work. But rather than do that he again took the facile path of blasting "conspiracy theorists" like a true Warrenite toadie.

Rather than watch this tripe, viewers are better served by watching anything else, say like 'Amazing Race' or even 'Survivor'.  Their time would be much better spent, especially in avoiding being propagandized by this BS.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Disgusting Perversion of Democracy: The DNC's "Super Delegate" System

While many of us were ecstatic over Sen. Bernie Sanders primary victory in New Hampshire, it appears we were a tad premature. Unbeknownst to us, a 'shadow' electoral system was at work, upending and denying New Hampshire Democratic voters' will and awarding more of the state's 32 delegates to Hillary despite her being squashed 60% to 38% in cast ballots. Effectively, this disreputable system lurks beneath the outward scene of votes to undermine our democracy as these "super delegates"  - like corporate lobbyists - get to trump voters.

What gives? Well, it is the Democratic Party's skewed and rigged nominating system, overseen by the same DNC bunch that tried to whore for Hillary by initially limiting debates or screening them only at odd times, like Saturdays. Thus as one report from The Daily Caller observes:

"Though Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary in a landslide over Hillary Clinton, he will likely receive fewer delegates than she will.

Sanders won 60 percent of the vote, but thanks to the Democratic Party’s nominating system, he leaves the Granite State with at least 13 delegates while she leaves with at least 15 delegates."

HUH? He gets a paltry 13 of the granite state's delegate total while she grabs 15 despite having her butt handed to her? WTF is going on here? Well, it's the DNC's "quirky" system (I call it rigged).

Evidently, get this, like many other states New Hampshire's 32 on-screen, publicized delegates (which we beheld while watching MSNBC) are a mirage, an illusion. In fact, it turns out only 24 of those 32 delegates are really up for grabs via voters, the other 8 are 'super delegates' - all prior pledged to Hillary. As I said, a rigged system because it effectively trumps the voters' will. So while on paper she gets 7 of the 32 it is in reality 7 of 24 and with 8 added that converts to 7 + 8 = 15. Hence, she "beats" Bernie's total despite him thrashing her into the middle of next year.

WHO are these unelected eight?

These are party officials who are free to commit to whomever they like, regardless of how their state votes. Their votes count the same as delegates won through the primary.New Hampshire has 8 superdelegates,"

And let me translate that: Given these super delegates were also hatched by the Dem Establishment - the DNC - you can be sure all those "officials" are all going for Hillary. As I said, a travesty of the democratic process.

The sad news right now out of this undemocratic system?  Clinton has 394 delegates, both super and electorally assigned, to only 42 for Sanders. This despite two effective losses to Sanders, in Iowa and now New Hampshire

It will be a long, hard slog for Bernie indeed, but Dem voters need to be aware of how, essentially, their primary votes hardly play a role any more given this skewed, disgraceful DNC system! . Is it time to kick up a ruckus and activate protests? You better believe it!

See also:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/shamus-cooke/65938/can-the-establishment-fix-its-bernie-sanders-problem

Bernie Scores A Resounding Win in NH: Can He Go All The Way?

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally Monday Derry, N.H. (Andrew Burton, Getty Images)
It was gratifying last night to see Hillary delivering her concession speech for the New Hampshire primary with the clock not having even reached 7.30 p.m. Mountain time. By the time of her concession Sen. Bernie Sanders had amassed a nearly 21 percentage point lead in the count (59% to 40%) or very close to the margin that the polls had forecast.

Bernie's victory speech - televised in full on MSNBC and FOX (split screen - share dwith the Trumpies waiting for their own winner)  embodied all the themes he's sounded in this campaign so far, including the corrupting presence of campaign finance contributions from Wall Street's high rollers  (see also my post yesterday). One intriguing stat was that females in NH went for Sanders by 53% to 47% with younger women (18-45)  favoring the 74-year old by nearly a 69%-29% margin. It appeared the brash putdowns by Hillary surrogate Madeleine Albright ("A special place in hell is reserved for women who don't support other women....blah, blah") didn't have their intended effect and in fact may have backfired.

To the electrified, energized crowd gather in the victory venue, Bernie said:

"It is a political revolution that will bring tens of millions of our people together. It will bring together working people who’ve given up on the political process; it will bring together young people who’ve never participated.”

He then delivered his website, www.BernieSanders.com 

to which supporters can donate - noting "this is my campaign fund raiser". Today he will be in New York, including for guest appearances on the network shows.

Has he achieved any respect from his momentous win? A little. But as is their wont, the Neoliberal media is still unprepared to award an unqualified victory - any more than they allowed it in Iowa where Hillary surrogates gamed the outcome -  literally - with at least 6 coin tosses (prompting a call for investigation by the Des Moines Register). Their belief, expressed also last night, is that he achieved his wins in two "white states" but would have serious problems in the South or anywhere else.

As UK Guardian writer Lucia Graves pointed out:

"He is going to need more than just those young voters in the weeks to come: he has picked up plenty of delegates in the small, overwhelmingly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire because of them, but it’s not clear if they alone can carry him to continued victories as the election moves south."

But unlike the U.S. Neoliberal media she did caution against belittling his Iowa caucus and NH primary success:

"There are a lot of pragmatic reasons that Sanders and his team ought to feel trepidation looking at the long primary season and Clinton’s polling leads – but a pragmatic man probably wouldn’t have challenged her to a primary in the first place. And if pragmatism was winning over Democratic voters, they wouldn’t be voting in droves for the candidate promising a revolution."

Bingo! And as NH exit polls showed, an increasing fraction of Dem voters are demanding character over "experience". (By about 32 percent to 27 percent).  I believe this trend will continue as more and more is learned  about Hillary's Wall Street speeches, for which transcripts are sought. After all, as a presidential candidate who promises to rein in the money boys, we have every right to know what she told them after being paid $675,000 (by Goldman Sachs).

Lastly, the other outsider, Donald Trump, did congratulate Bernie before taking the stage for his own victory speech - but in a way it was back-handed. He told his own supporters "Bernie wants to give away everything free" but that in fact perverts the facts.

Making a single payer health care plan available to all citizens is not "giving away everything for free" given the U.S. was a signatory to a UN 1994 Declaration making health care a RIGHT. Too few people now recall that salient fact. And, if it is a RIGHT, then it must be accessible to all citizens, not unaffordable (driving people into bankruptcy) or selective.  Hence, Bernie is merely seeking to honor that edict as opposed to neglecting it as U.S. leaders have done the past 21 years. He is asserting that if and when this country is a signatory to a UN Declaration it means something. This as opposed to not being worth the paper printed on.

As for the expansion of Social Security, to ensure our elder citizens aren't scrounging the rest of their lives, that comes under the General Welfare clause of the Preamble to the Constitution, e.g.

“We the PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare..."

For more on this, and why more conservatives (like Trump) need to study it, see: 

http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2012/08/parsing-general-welfare-clause.html

 As for Bernie's continued primary challenges I believe he will meet them head on, even as the fight intensifies. The only proviso I would make is don't take any weapon off the table. And if Hillary continues to bash him as "unelectable" because of his democratic socialism - well, then it is time to play the email card!

See also:
http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/10/donald-trump-bernie-sanders-new-hampshire-primary-anti-establishment-outsider-campaigns

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hillary's Younger Woman Problem: Wall Street Campaign Donations



With the NH primary today, and national polls now showing Sen. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in a statistical tie, it is instructional to probe further into the claims and accusations made by Hillary and her surrogates over the weekend. It turns out that the influx of Wall Street money - millions in fact to Hillary  -  isn't some myth or an "artful smear" as she tried to portray it. Not according to a Wall Street Journal article on Wall Street executive contributions to her campaign (Feb. 5, p. A1, A7). As the piece notes (p. A7):

"No Democrat or Republican running for President this year  has received as much money from Wall Street as Mrs. Clinton has. Wall Street is the top donor to her 2016 campaign and to a super Pac run by Mrs. Clinton's allies to support her candidacy. Only the super PAC supporting Jeb Bush has raised more on Wall Street."

The Journal added that in a tour-de-force Sen, Sanders has turned one of Hillary's assets (campaign funding) into a powerful weapon against her. Indeed, she's so desperate for a false equivalence she even went on the record saying: "Sanders has taken Wall Street money too, but it was through the DNC, not directly!"    Please, Hill, you ought to be beyond such desperate bollocks. So, because the Democratic National Committee accepts Wall Street money and makes it available to all candidates  Bernie is in Maul Street's maw? Give me a break.

The WSJ also notes Clinton has received a whopping $14.3 million from a Wall Street-based super PAC alone, excluding direct contributions from banks and high rollers.

This is sobering and also means Madeleine Albright's disgraceful gender card castigation of younger women in NH and elsewhere:

"There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."

Needs to be turned on its head, e.g.:

"There is a special place in hell for women who don't tell other women the truth about a candidate, male or female.."

The Journal, in case Albright's memory is slipping, also noted that "Wall Street has contributed more than $100 million to Bill and Hillary's political campaigns". This is since the early 90s, but by anyone's reckoning is not chump change. We are actually talking real money here.  In addition:

"Some Wall Street money has helped the couple's personal finances. Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Chase and Co. and other Wall  Street firms have paid the Clintons more than $20 million in speaking fees over the years."

All of this is what Bernie has been railing about, though to behold the omissions of most of the mainstream press you'd never think she has taken anything. (Though it did come out in the CNN Town Hall meeting, when Andersen Cooper pressed her about accepting the $675,000 speaking fee and asked why, eliciting the lamo response: "That's what they offered!"

Then insulting voters' intelligence via the canard that if she'd known she would be running for President at the time she wouldn't have taken it.  Please.

While Bernie has offered a muscular program of breaking up the big banks that have again grown "too big to fail", Hillary has offered measures like (ibid.): "building on Dodd-Frank to strengthen oversight of the banking sector and unregulated 'shadow banking' and proposing a tax on certain types of high frequency trading."

And then we learn:

"Still there's a general feeling that 'she's not going to come after Wall Street"

This, "according to a super PAC donor who has spoken to dozens of potential supporters"

We also learn from Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at asset manager Horizon Investments (ibid.):

"She's moved to the left because she needed some political cover in her fight against Sanders. Her plan may be aggressive but her ties to Wall Street make it unlikely that this proposal of hers will be a top priority.....it's a cynical view."

Not really, bub. It's the view of a growing number of Dem voters - young and old - who have had the blinkers removed from their eyes and are no longer prepared to invest in business as usual. It is also the view (via honesty) of the Wall Streeters themselves, as from today's editorial ('Hillary's Wall Street Reckoning'):

"The traders at Goldman have a keen sense of value and they're not trading $675,000 for the entertainment value of Hillary Clinton's appearances."

Adding:

"The long standing arrangement between Democrats and financial giants like Goldman is that the politicians collect the money and get to pose as populists by publicly attacking the big banks, and in return the big banks enjoy high regulatory barriers that prevent smaller firms from competing with them"

But....as Bernie has noted...this impels continued growth that renders them unstable and more likely to fail so they can whine for the next public bailout. Haven't we had enough of this shit? Huh?  Haven't we citizens had about enough of this baloney from the Neoliberal DINOs and their bankster pals? I'd have thought so. For once, despite the cackling and babbling of Neolib tools and fools like Joe Klein (TIME) and others, we demand real change, not cosmetic change.

And Hillary and Albright and any other poppets can play all the gender cards they want but that won't change our determination and we aren't going to buy the media hogswill that we are chasing "pie in the sky" or an impossible dream. 

For anyone with brains and I don't mean in their ass, the WSJ article's facts ought to be a wake up call, including that "donations from the financial services sector make up a large and growing share of the amount of money raised in U.S. elections."

And, up to the end of 2015 this blood money "made up roughly 40 percent of the $1 billion donated so far into the 2016 election".

Friends, this IS exactly what Bernie has been pounding in all of his speeches until blue in the face. Given the young female voter demographic (18-30 yrs.) is the most idealistic and aspirational, it isn't surprising they'd be highly sensitive to Hillary's crass political manipulations. They are also too intelligent to be suckered in by tools like Albright blatantly playing the gender card. If Albright really had a clue, she'd give it a rest and maybe spend more time helping in old folks' homes - as opposed to dispensing junk admonitions to young women on the campaign trail..

Now, are we going to let the monied vultures continue buying off our so-called leaders and elections? OR are we going to grow spines for once, stop this "lesser of two evils" BS, and opt for genuine change?  Whatever your race or gender, determining who will be the next U.S. President ought to depend on principles and the nation's future welfare, not cold pragmatism in the service of finance parasites! Further, the candidate we choose to lead the nation should have and practice abiding principles - not merely when it's politically expedient.

See also:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/dave-johnson/65902/is-clinton-bought-by-wall-street-there-is-a-test-for-that

Monday, February 8, 2016

'Superman' Cam Has A Lot Of Growing Up To Do

Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos
'Starboy' Cam Newton sulks in a presser after the game - he then walked out.

In Barbados, the 'starboy' is the name used for the lead hero, the valiant male lead star - say in a Kung Fu film- or the invulnerable athlete who displays no weaknesses. For any given cinematic or sport venue it is always the starboy who will garner the biggest draw, the biggest, most excited crowds. 

Here in this country, in the 2 weeks leading up to Super  Bowl 50,  it was Cam Newton who fulfilled that role, evoking an aura of invincibility - especially after the beat down of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship game. In that game Cardinal QB Carson Palmer was made to look like a total loser while Cam Newton emerged an undisputed winner and consummate dabber. He shone in the spotlight, and one perceived he believed that being the winner, the conqueror,  was his forte - his calling.

But alas, as seen in a post game presser last night - maybe in losing not so much. The problem is that in the NFL players are expected to fulfill a media interactions role, win or lose. If you end up a champ like Peyton Manning or Denver LB  (and SB MVP) Von Miller,  you are expected to appear before the cameras and still answer questions. And if you happen to lose, like Tom Brady did 2 weeks ago to Denver, or Cam Newton did last night in SB 50, you are expected to man up and answer questions.  Never mind the trivial and hackneyed stage which entices more formulaic replies even from the game's heroes.

Brady fulfilled the role admirably showing his maturity and grace even in a loss. Cam acted like a petulant child, a morose, sullen bratskie who'd just had his all day sucker taken away. He didn't even face the media but mostly looked away, nursing the realization his superman aura had been punctured and he was now exposed as a sore loser. (Before the game began one could see him "pompasetting" - another Bajan term  - in a Superman sweatshirt.) Newton made no pretense of the fact he believed he was special and would demonstrate that in the game.

Trouble is, he didn't. In play after play it was the Broncos' pass rush and ferocity that reduced him to a very ordinary mortal. No TDs, not one, for the entire game. But a lot of wild throws and inadvisable decisions.  The result was a decisive 24-10 Denver victory.

After the game when asked what happened, the best Cam could manage was: "They made more plays. They played better. What ya want me to say?"

Well, more than that! Talk about your decisions, including the one that ended in an interception near the end. Tell us why when the game was on the line with three plus minutes left and you fumbled the ball and a recovery was critical  - but you backed away from any effort to do so. As Phil Simms put it, did you not feel getting the ball back was worth any risk to yourself? Say as opposed to  allowing the Denver D's recovery,  which then resulted in Denver's final 8 points?

The last showed a cowardly decision that no real, 'Superman' QB would make, not with the Superbowl on the line. Any real QB -whether Ken Stabler, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, or Aaron Rodgers- would have dove in that pile to try to get the ball back.

See, having made the decision not to try at the most critical moment at the end, you don't get to pout now in the presser. You don't get to act petulant and entitled for being denied the championship - because it was YOU that directly contributed to that outcome.

A real man would have admitted his lapses to the media hawks, not run away after less than five minutes without saying another word.

It doesn't take much manliness to do a 'dab' at the end of a blowout game. It does take a hell of a lot of guts to address your shortcomings after you've just lost the biggest game of the season,  rendering the Panthers'  otherwise sterling 17-2 record little more than an afterthought.

Hopefully, Cam Newton will spend the off season studying his reactions in that presser and work to get his act together, as opposed to how to refine his dabbing technique.