More Deep (?) Thoughts On the 2016 Election (updates)

November 12, 2016

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(Which has ultimately led to the behavior shown in this pic, by the way – this ties into a bit of what I got into here.)

I saw this item from Hillary Clinton, and I thought I needed to respond.

Yes, Hillary Clinton is right to say that the despicable actions of FBI Director James Comey contributed to her loss to Donald Trump (ugh) in the presidential election. But I think the following needs to be pointed out also.

I previously decried low-information voters who don’t pay attention to this stuff like they should, and I said they were partly to blame. I stand by that, with some caveats particular to Hillary Clinton that I’ll try to discuss, for what it’s worth. I also said that it’s pointless to engage in a circular firing squad on this stuff, but I’m going to break my own rule on that a bit.

With everything having settled in a bit, here is my number one reason why Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election:

She didn’t close the deal with the voters of this country on how she would manage the economy on their behalf.

The irony of this, to me, is utterly stupefying, because that is pretty much how her husband won election, particularly in 1992. And when it comes to voting psychology in this country, voters ALWAYS vote first and foremost on the economy.

Memorize this and burn it into your collective brains once and for all, Democratsvoters vote first and foremost based on the economy. Every time (I would put a bit of an asterisk on that next to 2004, though, since the Repugs beat 9/11 to death for political purposes and the economy hadn’t tanked yet).

The economy was teed up as THE political issue for Obama in 2008 since it was going all to hell, and the McCain/Palin team kept missing the proverbial boat on that issue over and over, particularly concerning the auto industry. So Obama almost couldn’t help but wrap his campaign around that. And in 2012, he had a record of success with the stimulus to run on (versus Willard Mitt Romney, who the Obama campaign had painted as a thoroughly out-of-touch elitist, which to me was an accurate portrayal). That year, Obama also had the power of incumbency on his side, and it’s hard to overestimate how important that is.

The Clinton team had none of these advantages. And they didn’t campaign as if they realized that. And that created the tiniest bit of an opening for that moron Gary Johnson and that nothing Jill Stein to jump in and claim that mantle instead (even Trump himself, laughably trying to act like he actually gives a damn about workers’ wages and that he actually knows something about creating jobs when he had experienced multiple business bankruptcies; of all of the corporate media stupidity during the campaign, the failure to point that out over and over was probably their biggest blunder).

Returning to the prior presidency of Bill Clinton (and why in God’s name didn’t Hillary remind voters of that era of economic success??), Hillary could have brought back the 1993 Bill Clinton budget that did a lot towards kick-starting a pretty solid era of job and wage growth. More than that, she could have reminded voters that it passed without a single Republican vote, and she could have tied that into a message about electing down-ballot Democrats to Congress!

(For the life of me, I will NEVER understand why Democrats seem to run away from their past record of success, but Hillary and her campaign did that. She did a really good job of portraying Donald Trump as the utterly narcissistic, intellectually lazy sexual predator that we all knew he was, but again, as her supporters, we knew that. She definitely didn’t appear to understand what it took to win over independents, who are the people that, for better or worse, decide our elections…something particularly galling given the fact that she probably had an army of people in her campaign who were supposed to know that in their sleep! Of course, the “Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party” knows better, I firmly believe – I’m sure that theory will be put to the test before too much longer.)

Or how about this – after defeating Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, she could have said “I’m Bernie Now,” and brought EVERYONE from the Sanders campaign on board and thrown out this band of DNC Beltway sycophants who seem to do absolutely NOTHING but lose elections! And she could have run her campaign accordingly (“go to the left,” as Kyle Kulinksi, among others, pointed out).

OK, enough of this exercise. We are where we are. Let’s take some down time for ourselves to try and regain our sanity and our strength. Because we’re going to need it.

Starting next January 21st, it’s probably going to be Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride every day. We just have to hang on for dear life and keep fighting in hope of a better future, eventually.

Update 11/13/16: I respect Joan Walsh a lot, and she’s right in a lot of what she has to say here about how our corporate media favored President Big Orange Cheetoh over HRC (and I suppose it’s just part of the cycle that the Dems have to try to make nice with this monstrosity who is now president – though I definitely would offer this in response).

However, I believe the Clinton team should have foreseen that they would get this kind of treatment from the news networks with initials for names. Was it fair? Of course not. But it was good for ratings, which is all they cared about, and EVER WILL care about.

But when faced with that, the Clinton team should have made THEIR OWN media. There were some very well done videos that they produced, but I couldn’t find anything approximating an “elevator pitch” on the economy. And yes, I looked.

There’s no shortage whatsoever of social media at our disposal – in addition to videos, there’s also Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter of course, other blogs sympathetic to the cause, etc. If you don’t like what the corporate media is doing, you make your own damn media! God knows the wingnuts don’t have any trouble propagating their garbage (always angers me that they have no problem getting out their lousy messages across scores of simpatico blogs and other sites and we have so much of a damn issue with getting out our good ones).

Besides, you generate enough of your own buzz, then the “news” networks WILL BE FORCED TO PAY ATTENTION TO YOU, if for no other reason that they’ll have potentially a ripe new audience for their advertisers.

Also, Walsh is sadly correct about those who purport to be on our side who demonized HRC regardless of what she did, and that was no help either of course (you reading this, Jimmy Dore?).

Update 11/14/16: I know I’m beating this to death and I swore I wouldn’t do that, and I apologize, but here is another observation from last Tuesday’s electoral hellscape, and it is this:

Hillary Clinton spent way, WAAAY too much time beating up on “Donald Drumpf.” The irony is that that fired up the Democratic base, but again, it did absolutely nothing for independents.

Yes, Trump deserved all of that invective and more. But here’s the thing: the person at the top of the ticket is supposed to leave it up to his or her surrogates to do that while the nominee for prez articulates the “vision thing,” as it was once called (I wish I has a nickel for every time I saw Bill Burton go at it with “Maniac Megyn” Kelly when Obama ran in ‘08, but that was his job).

Yes, our corporate media blocked out anything Clinton did on that time and time again. And yes, it was a scummy and lowdown thing to do. But you know what? That would have happened for ANY Democratic presidential nominee.

The media has been pulling this garbage for years. Back when we had Comcast Cable, I can recall an otherwise pretty solid news guy named Arthur Fennell who used to give us campaign updates on Bush and Kerry, and EVERY SINGLE TIME John Kerry gave a speech, Fennell would talk over what Kerry was saying to give his “spin” on what was going on and we never heard Kerry say a word. Now I think Fennell was just following orders, as it were, but it was still a dirty trick.

There are a bunch of solid presidential candidates I can recall who didn’t win because they were lousy campaigners. Is that fair? Of course not, especially considering the consequences. But I believe HRC thought the power of her personal narrative, as it were, would be good enough to win. It wasn’t.

Update 11/15/16: There aren’t too many people out there as far as I’m concerned who I would call studious observers of exactly what kind of electoral devastation took place a week ago, but I would say that Kurt Eichenwald is definitely one of those people, and I think he administers a dose of reality here (I had a feeling the Repugs had some “oppo” stuff on Sanders they would use if they had to, and believe me when I tell you that the stuff Eichenwald tells us is eye-opening…not saying it should have turned the election or how much of it is actually true, but to say it would have been a shot of hate-filled adrenaline to the wingnutosphere is a huge understatement).

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A Monday Tuesday Health Care Mashup (9/8/09)

September 8, 2009

Medicalinsurance1(Update: AAARRGGHH! My bad on the day – still unconsciously trying to hang onto summer, I guess.)

(One day, I won’t be posting on this topic any more – by the way, posting may be questionable for part of this week…don’t know exactly when yet.)

Dem U.S. House Rep Anthony Weiner tells us the following over at The Hill (here)…

The truth is that the United States already uses single-payer systems to cover over 47% of all medical bills through Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Understanding that these single-payer health programs are already a major part of our overall health care system should help us visualize what an actual public plan would look like. These institutions also provide health care to millions of satisfied customers in every community who would heartily agree that the government can build and run programs that work quite well.

Medicare also provides us with a case study in the hypocrisy of our Republican friends who have built their party on a 44-year record of undermining this popular program. And now their Chairman sees no irony in ripping “government run” healthcare while publishing an op-ed opposing changes to Medicare.

If Medicare has been such a success, why not extend it? Why not have single-payer plans for 55 year olds? Why not have one for young citizens who just left their parents or college coverage?

As I read this, I realize that Weiner is the one who should be I charge of “message control” for the White House on this issue (and in the matter of single payer, I give you the following from Dr. David Himmelstein of Harvard Medical School here in the New York Times)…

Q: A major goal of health care reform is to cover the uninsured. But does covering more people necessarily mean that medical bankruptcies will decline?

A: No. Our most recent study found that nearly two-thirds of Americans who declared bankruptcy cited illness or medical bills as a significant cause (PDF) of their bankruptcies. And of the medically bankrupt, three-quarters of that group had insurance, at least when they first got sick.

Wow…

Q: Would any of the plans under discussion on Capitol Hill reduce the rate of medical bankruptcies?

A: Only the single-payer plan sponsored by Representative John Conyers and Senator Bernie Sanders. The others pretty clearly do little or nothing for medical bankruptcy.

Q: How would a single-payer system reduce medical bankruptcies?

A: A single-payer system, such as the one proposed by my colleagues and myself, not only covers everyone, but also eliminates co-pays, deductibles and virtually all uncovered medical bills. Both the Sanders and Conyers bills would work that way. That’s how it works in Canada. Every Canadian has coverage with zero co-pays and zero deductibles. As a result, when they get sick, they’re not forced to pay for care. It’s the coincidence of bills coming when you’re least able to pay them that creates the problem.

Q: We’re hearing a lot of criticism of the national health care system in Canada. What is the rate of medical bankruptcy there?

A: Colleagues in Canada tell us that medical bills per se almost never cause bankruptcies in that country. The relatively small number of medical bankruptcies seems to be among people who suffer a sharp drop in income because of illness. Canada does not have a full disability and joblessness safety net. We’re planning a study with Canadian colleagues now to study this formally.

And in the same “Prescriptions” blog of the New York Times where I found the Q&A with Dr. Himmelstein, I found this post from Katharine Q. Seelye today, which tells us the following…

“What does all this talk of health care reform mean to me?”

That may sound like a line from one of those vintage “Saturday Night Live” monologues by Al Franken, but this is 2009, and the question is a serious one, posed by AARP in a mailing that will arrive in almost nine million homes this week.

The mailer is part of a broader campaign by AARP to reassure its 40 million members that the organization is committed to protecting their Medicare benefits.

(By the way, am I the only one who thought it was a real reach by Seelye to mention Franken here, given that she could’ve mentioned a whole range of other former cast members who people would remember? But I guess Franken is an easily target for Seelye’s particularly facile brand of punditry.)

But it’s a funny thing; the print version of the story contained the following paragraph (this was omitted for the online version)…

AARP lost more than 50,000 members this summer as a result of the perception that it had taken a partisan position in favor of Democratic health care legislation, which many feared posed a threat to the current level of Medicare coverage.

Really?

Fortunately, Media Matters brings us the “reality” point of view here (and as we know, reality has a well-known liberal bias)…

Between July 1 and mid-August, AARP nationally lost about 60,000 members. But during that same period, spokesman Drew Nannis said, it brought in 1.8 million new members.

I’ll breathlessly await another Times Correction in the print version of the paper tomorrow.

And finally, Joe Klein of Time tells us the following (here)…

If conservatives seem ridiculously hyperbolic about what the public option does and does not do–it does not, for example, increase costs (it could decrease them) or mean a government takeover of health care–some progressives have been a bit confused about what a public option might actually accomplish. Here’s Ezra Klein, who has established himself as a real voice of sanity in this debate, on what a public option actually might accomplish–and what it won’t.

I give J. Klein credit for linking to E. Klein here, but J. merely provides the link to E.’s blog and not the particular post in question; I’ll assume it’s this one.

(And by the way, J. provides two reasons for not liking the public option: 1) It sets up unfair competition with private insurers, and 2) “the right-wing smear campaign has succeeded and moderate Democrats, and a few stray Republicans, who might otherwise vote for health care reform won’t do so.”)

I won’t dignify the second supposed reason with a response, but how J. can believe that the public option sets up “unfair competition” after reading what E. says in his post, namely the following, is a real head-scratcher…

The strongest public plan on offer is in the bill being considered by the House of Representatives. This plan is limited to the health insurance exchanges, which are in turn limited to employers with fewer than 20 workers. So that’s the first point: The vast majority of Americans would be ineligible for the public plan, even if they wanted it. The CBO estimates that by 2019, the public plan would have a likely enrollment of 10 million Americans — and that estimate (pdf) imagines a world in which the exchanges are opened to businesses with 50 or fewer employees, which is to say, it’s more favorable than the actual bill.

The end result is that the public plan is unlikely to have a very large customer base, which means it will be unable to use market share to bargain prices far lower than private insurers. That might not matter if the plan could attach itself to the rates that Medicare uses. In the first draft of the House bill, the plan could do that, at least for its first three or four years of existence, after which point it was cut loose from Medicare. But the deal Henry Waxman cut with the Blue Dogs erased that advantage, and now the public plan, even in the House bill, is on its own. That is to say, the plan has neither Medicare bargaining power nor the sort of customer base that gave Medicare its bargaining power.

Ezra emphasizes, though, that he most definitely supports a public plan in spite of what he states above; even if it emerges in an imperfect form, its mere presence would ensure a built-in mechanism to “level the playing field” to a greater degree than what we have right now.

And by the way, here and here are two more instances of corporate media wankery on this issue (pay no attention to the propagandists “behind the curtain,” my fellow prisoners).


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