In Ohio, a struggle for the [white] soul of the Democratic Party is playing out

❝ On a sweltering evening in a rural corner of Ohio, the struggle for the soul and identity of the Democratic Party is playing out over wine, meatballs and recriminations about Hillary Clinton’s defeat in last year’s presidential election.

Joe Schiavoni, the former top Democrat in the Ohio state senate, is talking to a crowd at a fundraising event for his fledgling bid to become their next governor. He believes leaders of his party in Washington have lost touch with voters. It’s a familiar refrain among Democrats in a state that helped catapult Republican Donald Trump into the White House in November…

In Ohio, as in other politically competitive “swing” states that Democrats won in 2012 but lost in 2016, Democrats are struggling to come up with a clear message and identity to win back the voters they lost.

❝ Listening to voters is the key to moving forward, some three dozen Democratic Party members across Ohio said in interviews. But there was little consensus on how to win over those voters.

Many of those interviewed said the party’s national leaders have not learned the lessons of last year’s defeat, when many voters rejected the party as too elitist and out of touch with working Americans.

This Reuters article apparently reflects the views of the official Democrat Party – as far as I can see. There is NO mention whatsoever of Black people or Hispanics. Either the party presumes automatic votes or hasn’t looked at anything other than the white chunk of Ohio’s working class.

❝ Angered by last year’s defeats up and down the ballot in Ohio, a group of political consultants circulated a memo to every member of the state party’s executive committee in December.

The memo, which has not been previously reported, lambastes the party leadership for the “electoral carnage” of 2016.

This memo at least acknowledges the inherent racism of ignoring questions affecting Black workers and the Black community in Ohio. It makes no mention of Hispanic workers or community.

11% of Ohio registered voters are Black. Almost 2% are Latino. That’s a lot of folks to take for granted.

Republicans sing, “Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be college graduates!”

❝ Most Republicans think colleges are bad for the country, and the vast majority think the news media is too, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. The Pew study, conducted from June 8 to 18 among more than 2,000 respondents, found that Democrats and Republicans are growing substantially more divided in their opinions on public institutions.

❝ According to the survey results released Monday, 58 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents say that colleges and universities have had a negative impact on the nation — the first time a majority of Republicans have thought colleges are bad for the country. As recently as 2015, 54 percent of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country, but by 2016 those results split to 43 percent positive and 45 percent negative.

On the other side of the aisle, 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners say they think colleges and universities have a positive effect on the country, holding steady with past years’ results…

❝ The partisan divide was even sharper when it came to the media. Only 10 percent of Republicans thought the media had a positive effect on the way things are going in the US.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have a positive view of the news media’s impact on the nation — an 11-point increase since August 2016…

❝ Despite the widening partisan gap, however, Pew reports that the public’s overall views on the effect of institutions on the nation are relatively unchanged. Polarization may have increased, but the uptick in Democrats’ positive views balance out Republicans’ increasingly negative ones.

Nice to know that confidence in constitutional democracy, republican representation, outweighs ideological stupid.

American Sophistry at its Political Zenith

I typify this as American sophistry at its political zenith for obvious reasons – if you’ve read about and understand the formation and foundations of sophistry. How American politicians turned it into the rationale for every copout foisted upon the body politic.

Life on one side. Death on the other. And it needn’t matter which side takes which position. That’s what needs to be understood. Obviously the best Congressional solution eventually lies between the two. Pick a war in the last 70 years!

Idjits.

Thanks, gocomics.org

The Big Lie That Republicans Call Healthcare Reform

❝ The Senate health-care bill is a blatantly cynical and political plan to reward the rich, squeeze the poor and give Republicans the chance to claim they protected the middle class — or at least those in the middle class who aren’t too sick.

❝ The Republican campaign to repeal Obamacare was always based on a false promise (okay, a lie): that it was possible for all Americans to have better, cheaper medical care without raising taxes or reducing the incomes of doctors and the profits of hospitals and drug companies.

The reality, as the Senate’s Republican caucus came to understand, is something quite different: You can’t lower health-care costs or extend coverage for some people without raising the taxes or premiums of everyone else. It’s a zero-sum game.

❝ Actually, that statement is not exactly true. In a country that spends roughly twice as much as other advanced countries for mediocre results, it would be possible to restructure the system to give most people more for less. But, alas, the Senate bill does almost nothing to restructure the way medical care is delivered, how much is consumed and how it is priced, because to do so would have meant taking on the business interests that the Republicans are counting on to finance their reelection.

Instead, what we get is a financial shell game.

RTFA. Lots of detail about the finances and financial requirements of managing a reasonable healthcare system for all. Even a suggestion on how Democrats might fight for this as a right – not a privilege as Republicans would have it.

Yes, there are beaucoup Dems who remember where they came from. They’re just not in charge. I have as little confidence in the Democrat Establishment nationally as I have contempt for the Republicans. I think they’ve been dining on the same gravy train for too many years.

Nope. It’s up the Progressive grassroots types who supported Bernie to figure out how to join with honest Liberals still stuck into the Democratic Party – to register voters, register the disaffected who’ve given up after decades of being ignored – and fightback against the Republican Party, the greediest bastards in our narrow political system and the fools who support them.

All [Robot] Hands on Deck!

❝ Autonomous ships will be great. Doing away with sailors will make the high seas safer and cleaner.


No humans neededGlyn Kirk/AFP

❝ It sounds like a ghost story: A huge cargo vessel sails up and down the Norwegian coast, silently going about its business, without a captain or crew in sight. But if all goes as planned, it’s actually the future of shipping.

❝ Last week, Kongsberg Gruppen ASA, a Norwegian maritime-technology firm, and Yara ASA, a fertilizer manufacturer, announced a partnership to build the world’s first fully autonomous cargo containership. Manned voyages will start in 2018, and in 2020 the Yara Birkeland will set sail all on its own. It’s the beginning of a revolution that should transform one of the world’s oldest and most conservative industries — and make global shipping safer, faster and cleaner than it’s ever been…

By one consultant’s estimate, moreover, carrying sailors accounts for 44 percent of a ship’s costs. That’s not just salaries: crew quarters, air-conditioning units, a bridge (which typically requires heavy ballast to ensure a ship’s balance) and other amenities take up valuable weight and space that might otherwise be used for cargo. And that dead weight contributes to a bigger problem: Maritime shipping accounts for about 2.5 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Barring a radical change, those emissions are set to surge in the decades ahead.

❝ All this explains why eliminating a crew and its costs has been a long-time goal for companies and governments around the world. The most advanced effort so far has come from Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, which rolled out a virtual-reality prototype of an autonomous ship in 2014. According to the company, the ship will be 5 percent lighter, and burn up to 15 percent less fuel, than a comparable vessel with humans aboard.

All the questions required of industries capable of full automation, essential automation, apply. They must begin with what is to be done to aid the human beings made redundant by the qualitative change which – after all – makes this industry more profitable, less expensive to operate?

The capitalists of Europe will probably follow guidance from enlightened geopolitical segments within their borders. Nations with at least a social-democratic bent. I would expect the same from China and those Asian nations with the courage to follow…perhaps, even lead.

Here in the United States? Silly question, eh? We live in a nation led by a political caste almost completely under the control of the least caring profiteers in the world. Short-sighted and arrogant, they really don’t care a rat’s ass about anyone fitting the broadest definition of proletarian. If you don’t own industry, you shall be politically subservient. From church to Congress, the Free Press to teachers who think they’re a 19th Century guild, obedience is the construct that counts. And Americans are, if anything, obedient cogs in the economy.

Are Democrats dumb enough to support a “bipartisan” carbon tax that no Republicans support?

❝ The dream of a bipartisan deal on carbon taxes is evergreen in US political circles. Lately, it has taken on a somewhat more specific form. The Climate Leadership Council (led by emeritus Republicans George Shultz and James Baker III) and the libertarian Niskanen Center have both proposed various forms of a deal in which Republicans would agree to a carbon tax in exchange for Democrats agreeing to repeal regulations on carbon emissions and fuel economy (among others).

Reporter Amy Harder…points out that no Republicans support the deal. But she also says that environmental groups and Democrats will not accept it — and their refusal is “the logjam preventing any climate compromise.”

❝ Niskanen’s David Bookbinder…told Harder that green groups actually would accept the trade if the price was right, they just won’t say so. “Like most entities that have no experience in actual negotiations,” he said, “[environmental groups] believe that they can’t say publicly that they will make the trade until the R’s put the tax on the table.”…

❝ This is shaping up to be a classic Washington dynamic: Democrats being pressured to compromise in advance, with phantoms.

❝ There is zero authentic support from the conservative movement or elected Republicans for a carbon tax. So the “debate” mostly consists of journalists and pundits (who have received these proposals rapturously) pressuring the left to reveal what it’s willing to give away.

Bookbinder would have us believe that real, experienced negotiators blab about what they’re willing to trade away in advance not only of a concrete offer but of anyone to negotiate with.

It would be indescribably stupid of Democrats to fall for this…

❝ There’s nothing wrong with people pushing this idea, if they think it’s a good idea. But elected Democrats are surely aware that a) there is no actual support for it among the GOP and b) when it comes to carbon, federally speaking, EPA regulations are the only tool left on the table.

David Roberts concludes with “Showing your cards…in exchange for the approval of the DC cognoscenti … well, surely that’s a mistake Democrats won’t make.”

Um, I hope so. Meanwhile, read the whole article. Roberts has done his homework and there is much to consider – even if there’s damned little on offer from the rightwing side of our political spectrum.

Gag orders lifted – reveals FBI forced Twitter to share user info illegally

Twitter announced Friday it received two national security requests, one each in 2015 and 2016, asking for users’ account data without informing the affected users. The company could not reveal this earlier since it was bound by gag orders until now that restricted it from openly speaking about the matter.

The requests were received in the form of national security letters…

Each letter requests a special kind of data called electronic communication transaction records, including email header data and browsing history.

FBI requests go far beyond the limitations set by a 2008 Justice Department legal memo, which said such orders could only be restricted to phone billing records

NSLs are government orders used for obtaining communication data available to service providers. They are usually accompanied by a gag order restricting the provider from informing the user whose data is obtained. The legal tool has been available since the 1970s, but has been put into regular usage for varied purposes since the passing of the U.S.A. Patriot Act…

The use of NSLs to obtain data is being opposed by major tech companies including Twitter which is fighting its own lawsuit against the government…

Yup. Last two years of the Obama Administration.

Nothing new about Liberal Democrats supporting the same crap Big Brother ideology as scumbags in the Republican Party. You ain’t about to see Donald Trump start supporting constitutional freedoms, privacy rights or net neutrality.

We’re posting this because while some Democrats are working sincerely to bring the supposedly liberal half of the TweedleDeeDum 2-Party system in line with the real needs of working folks – they will need concerned individuals to twist their arms, remind them to walk away from Cold Warrior lies and rationales. Stop snooping on ordinary citizens.

Infrastructure, roads, bridges, airports — all suck, all need repair


Michigan fixes road the way they fix water supplies

❝ The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the nation’s highways and bridges face an $808.2 billion backlog of investment spending, including $479.1 billion in critically needed repairs. More than two-thirds of the nation’s roads and nearly 143,000 bridges are classified in “dire need” of repair or upgrades. U.S. ports are clogged and need dredging to improve the flow of goods; railroad tracks need modernizing; airport communications technology needs updating and expansion; and urban mass transit is old and inadequate. As president, Trump wants to rebuild America’s core…

If you think the whole of these needs or a significant portion will produce a campfire singalong between elite Democrats, Progressive Democrats, Opportunist Democrats, Teapublicans, Trumpublicans, Hoover Republicans, elite Republicans — I might offer you a deal on one of those bridges. In Brooklyn.

That big white church on the Hill

❝ The share of U.S. adults who describe themselves as Christians has been declining for decades, but the U.S. Congress is about as Christian today as it was in the early 1960s, according to a new analysis by Pew Research Center. Indeed, among members of the new, 115th Congress, 91% describe themselves as Christians. This is nearly the same percentage as in the 87th Congress (1961 to 1962, the earliest years for which comparable data are available), when 95% of members were Christian.

❝ Among the 293 Republicans elected to serve in the new, 115th Congress, all but two identify as Christians; there are two Jewish Republicans – Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee – who both serve in the House. Democrats in Congress also are overwhelmingly Christian (80%), but there is more religious diversity on this side of the aisle. The 242 Democrats in Congress include 28 Jews, three Buddhists, three Hindus, two Muslims and one Unitarian Universalist – as well as the only member of Congress to describe herself as religiously unaffiliated, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. In addition, all 10 members of Congress who decline to state their religious affiliation are Democrats…

❝ The group that is most notably underrepresented is the religiously unaffiliated. This group – also known as religious “nones” – now accounts for 23% of the general public but just 0.2% of Congress…

❝ As with Republicans in the general public, Republican members of Congress are overwhelmingly Christian (99%). Among U.S. adults who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, 82% are Christian…

There are fewer Christian Democrats than Republicans, both among U.S. adults overall (63% of those who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party are Christian) and in Congress, where eight-in-ten Democrats identify as Christians…

❝ Within Christianity, however, Congress has seen a major shift as the share of Protestants has declined, a trend mirrored in the overall decline of the U.S. Protestant population. Protestants made up fully three-quarters of the 87th Congress, compared with 56% of the current Congress. Meanwhile, Catholics, who made up 19% of the 87th Congress, now make up 31% of the body.

Like the people who voted for them, I imagine most members of Congress are probably driving today’s version of their father’s Oldsmobile, as well. Cultural lag really is a significant feature of American electoral politics.

Even more unfortunate, I can’t help but feel that our Congress-critters think of Americans as all belonging to “their” church.