Daily Blog #2 July ’19

Note: The order of comments has been changed to having the newest ones at the top.

This month I want to explore something that has been stuck in my mind for a while.

It’s the tribalism that has split the country into a fractured mess dividing states, communities and families.

There are several causes I can identify, and surely others I haven’t recognized, but I want to try to find ways to get past this. No, I’m not talking about going back to some visioned “good old days” era but rather how do we move forward.

It’s clear to me media has been the major player in creating this divide. By media I mean mainstream, freelance, independent and social. The explosion of the internet of the 90’s made it possible in ways we are just now beginning to understand.

Throughout the month I will be posing articles and doing some podcasts as well on the information I’ve found. The points of focus will be on Russian propaganda and how to to deal with its impact on Americans who have unknowingly been fooled into accepting it as fact.

It’s so easy to want to throw up your hands and retreat from the news but that cannot happen, especially now. So, I’m hoping this project will open some doors to finding solutions. I’m doing this as much for myself as I am for public consumption because I’m feeling an increasing fatigue to just say fuck it and let happen whatever it is on the dark horizon thanks to the 2016 Presidential Election, but I can’t quit when at last the media is reporting Russian interference did have an impact on the election.

Wrapping up, this month’s blog is still “freeform” so post whatever you like on any topic, I know I will. So keep smiling and laughing and enjoying your summer.

Here’s the first installment

IMT Episode 80 – Russian propaganda like rust never sleeps Pt 1.

This is the first in a series discussing the reality of Russian propaganda and what can be done to neutralize its false messages.  This episode draws heavily from a recently published article by the Rand Corporation: The Firehose of Falsehood. You’ll learn why this might work but also what can be done to stop it.

185 thoughts on “Daily Blog #2 July ’19

  1. Bigger is Not Always Better

    The number of candidates is a major pain in the ass for Americans who only want to find the right person to beat Donald Trump.

    It was no surprise that last night turned into a battle between Progressives and Moderates and that fight should boil over into tonight’s second round of the Democratic Hunger Games. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.

    We have to have this fight now and the sooner it’s settled, the better. As much as I’m for historic progressive changes, I realize that progressives are a minority in America and don’t stand a chance against the Republicans and mostly moderate to conservative mainstream media.

    Absent Great Depression 2.0, the only way to the utopian programs we want to happen is to incrementally work back to dominating all 3 branches of government in DC. That is not going to happen with President Warren or Sanders because if they are elected, the electorate will put a check on them by electing Republican majorities in one or both Houses of Congress.

    I don’t like it, but that’s the way it is. Today the math is not on our side, but it can be if we have the will accept more moderate leaders who can help restore normalcy to the country and bring economic security to the working/middle class. Once you get there, the leap to universal/single payer healthcare will be a small step, not a giant leap.

    1. From Ezra Kline’s interview with Buttigieg in April

      After Obama, Democrats need a new theory of change. Pete Buttigieg thinks he’s got it.

      The most important debate in the Democratic primary is over how to make governing great again.

      Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

      The central lesson of Obama’s presidency, Buttigieg argues, is that “any decisions that are based on an assumption of good faith by Republicans in the Senate will be defeated.” The hope that you can pass laws through bipartisan compromise is dead. And that means governance is consistently, reliably failing to solve people’s problems, which is in turn radicalizing them against government itself.

      “You can only go so long with this divergence that we have between the center of the American people and the center of the American Congress,” Buttigieg says. “Donald Trump was not exactly a corrective, but he was a consequence of the fact that people watched their government drifting further and further away from them in terms of what it would deliver.”

      Read more

  2. Pete Buttigieg had the most important answer at the Democratic debate

    Buttigieg is right about why Democrats keep failing to pass their big plans.

    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg gave the single most important answer at Tuesday’s Democratic debate.

    It came after a lengthy section in which the assembled candidates debated different health care plans that have no chance of passing given the composition of the US Senate, and then debated decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings, which they also don’t have the votes to do, and then debated a series of gun control ideas that would swiftly fall to a filibuster and, even if they didn’t, would plausibly be overturned by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.

    That’s when Buttigieg spoke up:

    [This is] the conversation that we have been having for the last 20 years. Of course we need to get money out of politics, but when I propose the actual structural democratic reforms that might make a difference — end the Electoral College, amend the Constitution if necessary to clear up Citizens United, have DC actually be a state, and depoliticize the Supreme Court with structural reform — people look at me funny, as if this country was incapable of structural reform.

    This is a country that once changed its Constitution so you couldn’t drink and changed it back because we changed our minds, and you’re telling me we can’t reform our democracy in our time. We have to or we will be having the same argument 20 years from now.

    So far, I’ve found Buttigieg’s campaign underwhelming on policy. But where he’s clearly leading the field is his emphasis on structural reform. Buttigieg isn’t the only candidate with good ideas on this score — Elizabeth Warren and Jay Inslee have been strong on this too — but he’s the only candidate who consistently prioritizes the issue.

    Read more

  3. Warren and Sanders give rivals Bonnie and Clyde treatment during fiery debate

    Analysis: pair were dominant at event showcasing Democratic party’s split personality, pitting progressives against moderates

    On healthcare, immigration, the economy, the climate crisis and nuclear weapons, the rival wings of the party collided and clashed. There were times when it felt less a healthy conversation than a bout of fractious, scrappy and surly bickering (with no Spanish spoken this time), not helped by CNN hosts eager to interrupt. The party will have to hope the divide proves less damaging than the Sanders v Hillary Clinton split in 2016.

    Nothing summed up the internal tension better than the first topic, healthcare. Remarkably little was said by any candidate about the Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, and remarkably few criticisms were made of the way the Trump administration has sought to gut it.

    Read more

  4. From the “News We Missed” department

    ‘Our paychecks bounced’: US workers in limbo as coalmines suddenly close

    Blackjewel files for chapter 11 in a move critics say is increasingly used to avoid paying workers what they are owed

    On 1 July, Missy Cole was notified by her bank that her husband’s most recent paycheck had bounced, leaving their account more than $1,000 in the red. Her husband had worked as a coalminer for nearly three years at one of the eastern Kentucky mines operated by Revelation Energy affiliate Blackjewel mining.

    But both companies had filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy, a financial move that has implications far beyond just laying off staff as the ex-workers now wait for bankruptcy proceedings to play out. Critics say the move is a ploy increasingly used in the struggling industry to avoid paying workers what they are owed.

    “A layoff is always expected with miners. It’s always in the back of your mind and it’s no surprise when it happens in the coal industry. But this is much more than a layoff,” Cole told the Guardian.

    “We have absolutely no access to our bank accounts. Those accounts are still negative, and falling deeper into the negative daily. We cannot even touch his 401(k) to withdraw money to survive on without the signature of the Blackjewel mining CEO or his personnel.”

    One of the largest coalmining operators in the United States, Blackjewel abruptly shut its mines after filing for bankruptcy, jeopardizing the jobs of about 1,700 workers in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Wyoming

    Read more

  5. Gearing up for tonight’s debate…

    The Democrats Should Stop Doing Trump’s Work for Him

    Yes, the two-night, 20-candidate format is ludicrous, but can we please have a reasonable debate about America’s future?

    Fox News may have been shut out of hosting any Democratic presidential debates, but the Fox Theater in Detroit will be the site of the second round of debates.CreditCreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

    Gail: I have a feeling a lot of the candidates felt stampeded by the format of the first debates. That whole “Raise your hand if your government plan would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants” was a trap — were you supposed to vote to let them get sick and die? But the impression was that the candidates wanted to treat illegal immigrants better than a lot of citizens.

    By now all the serious candidates have worked out a strategy for getting their points in, making a splash. I’m kind of hoping this time Julián Castro will have a chance to shine. He struck me as one of the more thoughtful debaters first time around.

    And of course I’m rooting for my current fave, Elizabeth Warren.

    Bret: A friend of mine, a former politician and prominent Democrat, suggested that instead of raising their hands, at least some of the candidates should have raised a middle finger. But whatever else they do, they need to start speaking to a Democratic base that’s not vocal on social media, that despises the president but doesn’t want to spend the next 66 weeks re-litigating the 2016 election, and that is interested in a candidate who is going to care most about improving life and opportunities for the broad middle class, not appealing to party extremes.

    Read a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  6. Marketcraft: how government can beat inequality by reshaping markets

    Liberals shouldn’t just compensate citizens for the market’s excesses. They should seek to reshape markets themselves.

    The “Fearless Girl” statue stands facing the “Charging Bull” as tourists take pictures in New York on April 12, 2017. Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

    Thinking of government in this way opens us up to a profound rethinking of policymaking, one that is both less radical than democratic socialism — because it embraces capitalism — and more radical, because it seeks to transform capitalism from its roots.

    This perspective abandons the pretense that markets are free or natural in favor of a more realistic view: The alternative to government action is not free markets, but real-world markets riddled with imbalances of power, collusion, and fraud. Rather than trying to correct the results of these imbalances after the fact, the government should not be shy about reshaping these markets to make them work better, through measures like corporate governance, financial regulation, labor practices, and antitrust enforcement.

    The New Deal was marketcraft in action

    Read more

  7. From the “In My Own Backyard” department


    Plumes of steam drift from the cooling tower of FirstEnergy Corp.’s Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio, on April 4, 2017. Photo: Ron Schwane/AP

    The Ohio legislation reads as if it was designed specifically to undermine the planet’s continued capacity to support a steady human population. Along with propping up the state’s two nuclear plants, it also provides subsidies for failing coal plants in the state, as well as one in Indiana. It cuts and eventually ends any subsidies for new wind or solar, while approving just $20 million annually for large-scale solar projects that have already been approved. It even ends programs aimed at encouraging Ohio residents to reduce power consumption, through upgrades to appliances or heating and cooling systems.

    Read more

  8. Opinion

    The 2018 Campaign Worked

    Have Democrats forgotten?

    A woman at a rally for Representative Abigail Spanberger and Senator Tim Kaine in Henrico, Va., on Nov. 5, 2018.CreditCreditErin Schaff for The New York Times

    In last year’s midterm elections, Democrats won 31 congressional districts that President Trump had carried in 2016 — including in the suburbs of Atlanta, Chicago, Des Moines, Detroit, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Richmond, Va., as well as in more rural parts of Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico and Wisconsin.

    How did the Democrats do it? By running a smart, populist campaign that focused above all on pocketbook issues like affordable health care and good jobs. The Democrats who won in these swing districts didn’t talk much about Trump, the Russia scandals, immigration or progressive dreams like single-payer health care. They focused on issues that affect most voters’ daily lives.

    Theda Skocpol — the Harvard social scientist who has studied the Tea Party and the anti-Trump resistance, among many other things — has a new op-ed in USA Today that argues that the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are ignoring the lesson of 2018. By doing so, Skocpol says, they are increasing the chances that Trump will win re-election. As Democrats prepare for their second round of debates this week, I think Skocpol’s message is worth hearing.

    Read a pdf of this article or go behind the paywall.

  9. Democrats and media condemn Trump’s racist Cummings attack

    * Baltimore Sun: ‘Better to have some vermin than to be one’
    * Mulvaney insists Trump not racist, just fighting back
    * David Simon: Trump is a ‘simplistic, racist moron’

    * Elijah Cummings delivers a press conference following Robert Mueller’s testimony this week. Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images*

    In its response to Donald Trump’s racist attack on congressman Elijah Cummings, the editorial board of the Baltimore Sun said it “would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner”.

    But it did enumerate some of the president’s failings in office and liken him to a creature he said “infested” Cummings’ congressional district: a rat.

    “We,” the board wrote, “would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are ‘good people’ among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity.

    “Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.”

    Read more

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