Un Fare

How Uber Cheats Everybody

“In the tradition of capitalism, there is nothing new here,” says Richard D. Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts and currently visiting professor at the New School University in New York City. When an industry starts, says Prof. Wolff, it undergoes “ruthless competition” with like businesses and, in the process of fighting its way to the top of the industry, it cuts corners. It may use inferior/cheaper materials or be less careful in production. This raises concerns in the public over whether the product or service is delivered “as advertised” (at best) or is dangerous to the public (at worst).

What eventually happens, he says, is that the public demands that the government get involved to regulate the business or industry to ensure that however businesses compete, they will not endanger the public. This is how things began in the taxi and limousine business: in order to beat the competition, companies scrimped on insurance or vehicle maintenance or driver qualifications or cut-rate fares, and so on. Left to itself, says Prof. Wolff, a capitalist competition will eventually endanger the public, so the public will demand that government ensure public safety and fair (or “fare”) competition. The government starts requiring businesses to behave less like sociopaths and truly serve the public without endangering the public.

UberLogo.pngThis is what companies like Uber and Lyft and the like are doing. The taxi industry already went through this process, but Uber and Lyft are re-inventing the steering wheel. No, this isn’t a software innovation; this isn’t “ride-sharing”; this is really an old vintage in a new vessel. Uber is taking an unfair advantage over the taxi industry by trying to escape quality assurance and labor regulations under the guise of “ride sharing.” Uber isn’t really ride-sharing, says Prof. Wolff: it’s worker exploitation. That’s because the Uber drivers are responsible for everything that costs money (insurance, maintenance and cleanliness, gasoline, etc.), while Uber itself, a company valued at more than $60 billion, gets to pick the pockets of their so-called driver-partners for everything that makes money (a “partner” who has no voice in business decisions and shares none of the profits). Uber doesn’t even guarantee that your driver isn’t a criminal!

The difference between an Uber and a taxi is that taxi service comes with certain guarantees and Uber comes with certain risks. Indeed, Prof. Wolff predicts that, left unregulated, the Ubers and Lyfts of the world will capture the industry, the regulated taxi companies will go out of business (never mind that thousands of jobs will be lost), there will be a kind of “wild west” effect in the industry, there will follow a lot of cheating of drivers and customers, a lot of accidents without insurance protection, passengers, drivers and pedestrians will get injured or killed—and we’ll go right back to where we were before: the public demanding that government get involved to ensure public safety and fair competition.

Oh, and don’t forget the other inevitability of capitalist “competition”: capitalist enterprises tend toward concentration and eventually fall into monopoly. And then, when you have nobody else to hail for your taxi service, what do you think will happen to those low fares? In Germany (as well as Spain, where Uber is banned), Uber tried to pull this stunt, but the Germans were not so easily fooled. And the European Court of Justice will decide sometime in 2017 whether Uber is indeed a ride-hailing app or just another taxi service.

But Uber’s sins against the common weal only get worse.

As Richard Stallman pointed out on his blog, Uber drivers can be fired (or “deactivated”) for low passenger ratings. What gets you a low passenger rating vs. a high rating? Sure, catering to your customer is helpful, but what if your customer wants to do something illegal or abusive in your car? Restaurant wait staff know very well how abusive customers can be, because customers know their tips depend on their tolerance. How much worse do you think it could it get in the privacy of a car?

Stallman goes on to point out a plethora of problems with Uber—from cutting driver rates arbitrarily, to discriminating against black or female passengers, to undercutting it competitors to drive them out of the business—something Standard Oil did in the early 20th century. And as the gridlock releases, there will be only one car left on the road.

But Stallman’s biggest critique of Uber should cause one to pause: the loss of privacy.

Uber requires passengers to identify themselves, both to order a ride and to pay. It also records where you get the ride and where you go with it. Uber can track who has a one-night stand. … If you take an ordinary taxi and pay cash, it will generate no records associated with you…. Uber’s … practice of identifying passengers enables drivers to find out who the passenger is. This makes some women scared to use Uber.

Yes, says Stallman, Uber today is one choice among many. But when it achieves monopoly status—and every capitalist enterprise lusts after monopoly status—prices will go up, quality will go down and freedom will be left with the meter running. And as the writer at Jacobin opined,

“Sharing economy” companies like Uber shift risk from corporations to workers, weaken labor protections, and drive down wages. … Drivers aren’t “partners” — they are laborers exploited by their company. They have no say in business decisions and can be fired at any time. Instead of paying its employees a wage, Uber just pockets a portion of their earnings. Drivers take all the risks and front all the costs — the car, the gas, the insurance — yet it is executives and investors who get rich.

Even granting some regulatory control, Uber will attempt to subvert those regulations with its wealth—what is called “regulatory capture.” Regulatory capture can be cured only by democratic control. Uber and like companies are cheating: cheating you, their drivers and the public. Before you are seduced into hailing an Uber, just because of those Un Fare prices, be prepared for what you will give up.

Posted in Economics, Rant

You Must Remember This

Are we entering a world in which to “look at” something is to “record” it? Forever?

The thought crossed my mind about three or four years ago with the prototype of Google Glass—which has the ability to take photos and record 720p HD video from a device shaped like regular glasses. But, as it never really caught on, and was much criticized over privacy and safety concerns, I paid it no mind until one day when I walked into a 7-Eleven store.

I have never smoked cigarettes. But I take care of some people who do and who cannot get to the store on their own. That is why, one day, I crossed the threshold of the local 7-Eleven to find that the management, in protecting minors from cigarettes, had crossed the threshold from cautious to insane. Pasted to the counter was a sign saying, not that they check ID, but that they scan ID prior to cigarette sales!

mementoOf course, says the sign, we do not “store” the information. Think about that a minute. If they do not store the scanned ID information, what is the point of scanning it? Can’t the cashier just “look at” your ID to determine your age-eligibility to purchase a legal weed? Or, alternatively, does management not trust its employees to be diligent gatekeepers?

Then I thought about it a minute. We all rely on memory to get along in life, make connections, enjoy the present by engaging with the past. Remember the 2000 film Memento? The main character suffers from a form of amnesia (anterograde amnesia) that prevents him from forming new memories. His life becomes virtually impossible to live without those newly formed memories. Forgetting a name or a face (and I do it a lot) can be socially awkward to say the least.

dataNow consider the opposite situation. Remember the 2011 episode of “House, MD” (7:12) in which the patient with a perfect memory suffers problems with family relationships? Or the android named Data in the long-running TV series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987-1994), who is incapable of forgetting anything? Is total recall really something to be desired?

Think of how much we actually rely on people forgetting—or at least remembering imperfectly. You create a lot of memories in life, especially about the boring stuff, that are just brain clutter. It’s useful to be able to forget: the traumatic stuff, obviously, but also the useless stuff. As Lornette “Mace” Mason said to Lenny Nero in the 1995 film Strange Days, “Memories are meant to fade. They’re designed that way for a reason.” Could society function if everybody remembered everything about everything?

strangedaysNow comes the “brave new world” in which to see it is to record it is to remember it. I know that Google Glass received a lot of criticism and some legislative action over privacy and safety concerns. And production models are currently pretty obtrusive. But how long before they (or something like them) are not? Will society adapt when there is no distinction between public and private? How will people learn to behave when everything we do and say becomes a movie, recorded and stored by anyone at any time?

It’s enough to make you take up smoking.

Posted in Uncategorized

Twilight

by Ronald Bruce Meyer

(aka Uptight, Late-Night, Stage Fright Ronald, the Duke of Doggerel)

9 December 2001*

 

ron-2004Between the hours of daylight and the fully settled sun

Comes a time that’s not yet nightfall, when the day is not yet done.

Yet the darkness isn’t ready yet to hang the noose on night,

For the sleek Cimmerian shadows slip so slowly into sight.

It’s a time that’s not true daylight, semi-darkness dims your view,

And though you turn the lights on, all the colors lose their hue.

When red turns gray and yellow white, and moon begins to climb,

The day is fading, dusk advances; twilight is the time.

Yes, twilight is the time when day distills to its decline,

But night will pause a beat or two before it drinks day’s wine.

 

You can wish for longer lighting, longer shadows are your prize;

For twilight comes, regardless of your wishes, to the skies.

It comes to lives unbidden like the turning of the leaf,

The twilight years, unhidden, mark decline and end in grief.

So if you rage like Thomas ‘gainst the dying of the light,

You stand a chance of standing up to face down that good night.

The twilight is a gloaming and a gloomy time at best,

And though it always ends in darkness, darkness gives a rest,

For hours at least, so twilight can eventually begone,

And daytime can in time for matins bring the Dusky Dawn.

 

For those who find it difficult to make a reasoned choice,

Just look at twilight’s indecisive bid to find a voice

For speaking of the daytime that is sure about to leave–

Or else the night — which? — is it afternoon or eve?

Can it be another dimension, not of sight or sound but mind–

A land of imagination where to see is to be blind?

A Twilight Zone ‘tween science fact and superstitious fear?

A timeless fifth dimension and a middle ground, I hear–

A mythical creation that was quintessentially Rod’s.

(It “Rings” of Götterdämmerung, the Twilight of the Gods.)

 

Now twilight comes when the setting sun is less than 18 degrees

Below the far horizon, as it’s hiding ‘hind the trees,

And the sun’s illuminating rays reflect from Earth and sky.

It isn’t rational to fear, but I know reasons why.

The twilight is a doubtful or half light — a dim eclipse,

And anything obscuring light can cause us trips and slips.

So I suggest the fear of falling furnishes those hours

Of twilit time a greater share than warranted of powers.

And you can wish millennia of fearing eventide

Can with a wisp of logic and sure steps be swept aside,

But twilight has a magic that is tragic for your pride,

So wish away! The semi-darkness will not be denied!

 

* Written and performed for the Ever-So-Secret Order of the Lamprey, Chicago, IL—a Sunday evening soirée, so-named because artistic types are blood-suckers. Or so I’m told.


NB: I revive this poem because it reminds me that I was young once (47). And witty. And I recall the creation with following words, written about that time:

“After a month of resting the doggerel deltoids, the Duke was ready to flex the fingers and poke the muse in the shins once again! Now, to dispel any rumors to the contrary, the Duke was not lazy: the words of late just didn't come down to the Duke's standards. …

“And what a challenge it was! A full three hours after he set his laptop to it, the printer churned out the next contribution to the decline of American poetry. With a little help from Dylan Thomas, the Moody Blues, Rod Serling, and Richard Wagner, the Duke was set to deliver a mortal blow to Art.

“But Art ducked in time.

“And the Duke, by popular demand, and in view of his numbered days in Chicago, was this evening appointed Adjudicator! Yes, the very Most High Office in the Ever-So-Secret Order of the Lamprey, bestowing absolute power on its holder, was conferred on the Duke. He performed admirably as a benevolent despot, handing out to "twilight" pieces awards such as the Trouser Trout, the Suck-Face Worm, the Silent Alarm, the Seeds of the King of Spain, the Scanner of Simulation, Oh Spare Me!, the Music of the (Hemi)Spheres, the Matted Hair of Revulsion, the Love Glove, the Keys of Desire, the Hat of Good Intentions, the False Gem of Hope, the Faceless Muppet of Anonymity, the Crown of Chaos, and Are You Just Happy to See Me?

“But that meant that the Duke's own contribution would have to go unrewarded (isn't being Adjudicator reward enough?) So, with full stomach and loaded gums, the Duke declaimed...”

And there followed the poem above. Ain’t I something?
Posted in Poet

Clinton Will Lose – and Lose YOOGE

Why Hillary Clinton will Lose to Donald Trump

By Ronald Bruce Meyer

7/31/2016

Now the balloons have fallen and the delegates have voted. The DNC got what it wanted: Hillary Clinton, the first female candidate to head a major party ticket in a general election.

Hillary has everything going for her: experience, connections, money. She is the most-qualified presidential candidate in modern history; she brought a lot of famous and high-powered testimonials to the convention stage. Videos showed Hillary’s softer side; her acceptance speech showed her toughness. The convention crowd sounded ready for Hillary and her response showed she is ready to fight for her program and against her Republican opponent.

And, incredibly and ironically, just about 100 days from today, she will lose. Why? I will give you five reasons.

  1. Hillary Clinton has misread the electorate. Hillary Clinton had an overwhelming superdelegate lead and major endorsements, hours of neutral or approving media coverage, plus strong super PAC money (mostly from corporations)—almost from the day she announced her candidacy in 2015. And yet, a 74-year-old Independent senator from Vermont, a self-described democratic socialist (which should have been a dirty word in pro-capitalist USA), won 22 states outright and tied the Clinton juggernaut in a few more. Bernie Sanders drew huge crowds to his rallies and raised millions in donations (mostly from individuals) without super PAC assistance.

Was there something in the American electorate that Bernie saw and tapped into that, perhaps, Hillary did not see? I think, more than anything else, Bernie read the anger and frustration of an economic system that is not working for the bottom 90% of the electorate: a jobless “recovery” from the Bush recession, bailouts for bankers but not homeowners, no prosecutions for the biggest failure of capitalism since the Great Depression and income inequality on a scale not seen since the Gilded Age.

I also think that the type of donor to each campaign was telling: voters saw who was donating to Hillary’s campaign—Wall Street and bankers (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley), the private prison industry, big media (Time Warner, etc), unions accustomed to being out of touch with their own workers, other large corporations (including Harvard and UC)—and assumed that, if elected, she would be working for them; then voters looked at who was donating to Bernie (voters with maybe $27 in their pockets and tiny donations from unions and a few other non-corporations) and hoped he would be working for them.

But Hillary was not completely tone deaf. Once she saw how popular Bernie’s ideas were with young people, a demographic she desired but was not reaching, she advocated some pale imitations of Bernie’s platform. But the electorate was not misled: Hillary’s corporate backers could see her wink when she repudiated the TPP and advocated health care for all and Wall Street regulation; young voters, engaged if not enraged, better informed than their parents were and personally suffering from centrist policies, could see where she borrowed her new ideas and reasoned that they should stick to the source rather than siding with the stream.

If we are judged by the company we keep, Hillary also had some tellingly bad friends: if it wasn’t feminist icon Gloria Steinem (“When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie’”) and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other”), it was embracing former Nixon Secretary of State and putative war criminal Henry Kissinger as her foreign policy advisor.

And then there was Hillary’s VP choice. As front runner and all-but-nominee, she could have chosen anybody. With an eye toward her opponent, she could have taken a bold step and asked a true progressive to join her to energize disappointed if not disaffected Bernie supporters. Instead, she chose a white male of questionable loyalty to progressive principles. Sen. Tim Kaine approves of the disastrous corporate takeover known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and voted to fast track the agreement—meaning that, even if Hillary was sincere about working with Congress to change the TPP into something more palatable, she could not. Kaine, among other senators, urged the Consumer Financial Protection Board regulators to lighten up on their regulation of regional banks, which may have something to do with his securities and investment sector donors.

Tim Kaine, as filmmaker Michael Moore pointed out in a tweet, was a choice from a “center” that doesn’t exist. He is a feint to a constituency that will stay home, rather than vote for a policy blend that is more a throwback to 1992 than a vision for 2016; an appeal to a voting bloc that was disappearing over the past generation, but has evaporated since the crash of 2008. Voters who stay home cannot help her. If she fails this dismally in reading the electorate, Hillary Clinton cannot hope to win.

  1. Hillary Clinton is a weak candidate. Hillary is distrusted by two-thirds of voters. Unfair as that may be, whether misperception or a “vast, right-wing conspiracy,” perception is reality in politics. On the other hand, you saw (when the mainstream media didn’t ignore them) the crowds of tens of thousands cheering Bernie Sanders. Hillary can’t even dream of getting young, excited, informed, politically involved voters to support her on her merits. The best she can do is frighten them with Donald Trump.

Her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was like celery: filling (full of clichés), but with no nutritional value (lacking a theme). Where she was best was in parroting policies, if not lines, from Bernie Sanders. But she didn’t pledge to ban fracking or promise to fight against the TPP. She gave her supporters and her skeptics nothing to dispel the notion that she is still pro-war, pro-Wall Street, pro-spying (domestic and warrantless), pro-censorship (of the Internet), pro-death penalty, pro-Patriot Act (and thinks Edward Snowden is a criminal, rather than an exposer of criminals). Furthermore, she is anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions against Israel to get equal treatment for Palestinians), anti-legalization of marijuana and anti-free speech (she thinks flag-burning should be a felony).

When the electorate clearly longs for a progressive candidate, Hillary Clinton gives them Republican-lite. Is it any wonder people leaning progressive would rather have somebody else (and feel stuck with her) and people leaning Republican would rather go with a real Republican?

Her platform and her policy positions show voters that Hillary has no vision—beyond that of getting elected. And calling herself “a progressive who gets things done” is a bit disconcerting coming from Hillary: in her efforts to compromise with Republicans who already agree with her corporatist and militarist views, she may give away the store—just as Obama did with the public option during the fight for the Affordable Care Act.

  1. Hillary Clinton’s opponent is playing a different game. By contrast, Donald Trump got the electorate right, just with the wrong solutions. The popular meme is that Trump supporters are lower class and uneducated. In fact, Trump is currently the front-runner among every income and education group in the GOP. The chief explanation for Trump’s appeal, clearly based on fear, is articulated by David Berg, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine: “Trump appeals to the anger, discontent and sense of entrapment that plague contemporary voters.” Indeed, “Many in this country are tired of having their speech and behavior constrained by the changing ‘sensibilities’ of the modern world. Many would like to ‘stand up’ to Putin and the Chinese (to say nothing of ISIS) in the belief that confrontation and belligerence will make the world safer.” Trump has tapped into this feeling, amplified it and redirected it.

The lack of meaningful recovery after the crash of 2008 hurt liberal and conservative citizens alike; the elites, not so much. But where liberals look for causes and cures, and work as a community to change their world, conservatives are encouraged to feel powerless to change their world, look for domestic and foreign “others” on which to fix blame, and yearn for direction from above. That is reflected in these telling words from Trump’s acceptance speech for the Republican nomination: “I am your voice. … I’m With You, and I will fight for you, and I will win for you.”

Moreover, Trump stole some progressive thunder from the other side: “Remember, it was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA, one of the worst economic deals ever made by our country. Never again.” And “[Hillary] has supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership—which will not only destroy our manufacturing, but it will make America subject to the rulings of foreign governments.” And “We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow. This, in turn, will create millions more jobs.” And “Millions of Democrats will join our movement, because we are going to fix the system so it works fairly, and justly, for each and every American.”

By contrast, Hillary’s speech was long on cliché and short on progressivity. Maybe she thinks she can do without her progressive, working-class base, the Bernie Sanders supporters, or the 39% of the electorate who identify as “independent”—that is, those so turned off by hyper-partisanship that they can’t stand either party—which constitute a larger voting percentage that either Democrat (32%) or Republican (23%). Furthermore, Hillary was late to the table with holding big business accountable for economic devastation: “It’s wrong to take tax breaks with one hand and give out pink slips with the other.” And “I believe Wall Street can never, ever be allowed to wreck Main Street again.” And for a candidate who refuses to ban fracking, it’s ironic to hear her say, “I believe that climate change is real and that we can save our planet while creating millions of good-paying clean energy jobs.”

There are other troubling signs. As the popular meme goes, Trump only brags about doing bad things; Hillary has actually done them. What sounds like Hillary-bashing is supported by her record and that of Hillary and Bill during the Clinton administration.

  • Trump complains about millions of people on food stamps and in public housing; the Clinton administration passed so-called welfare reform, cutting off a lifeline for many poor people—as if the national debt is caused by people with no power and no money.
  • She says Trump wants to ban Muslin immigration, but Hillary wants to continue bombing Muslim countries, threatening to hit Iran (the enemy she is “most proud of”) if they so much as blink at Israel and supporting a no-fly zone over Syria, where ISIL and Al-Qaida have no airplanes, but where the U.S. would have to commit 70,000 troops.
  • She calls Trump a racist, but Hillary supports racist policies. She volunteered for segregationist presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in the 1960s; as First Lady, she infamously called African-American youth “superpredators,” while actively campaigning for her husband’s crime bill; while criticizing Trump for his association with KKK leader David Duke, Hillary admitted to being mentored by high-ranking KKK member Senator Robert Byrd, even eulogizing him at his funeral.
  • She claims Trump will destroy the economy, but Hillary and her husband have promoted the job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and she has refused to categorically oppose the TPP. Her husband took the lead, with her support, in repealing the Glass–Steagall Legislation, which lead to the housing and economic crash—and bank bailouts—of 2008.
  • She says Trump is too irresponsible to hold the nuclear codes, but Hillary is a seasoned militarist (see #4 below).
  1. Hillary Clinton has other serious flaws. There is no reason to believe that if she becomes the first woman President, Hillary will be treated any differently by the “vast, right-wing conspiracy” to whom truth is a leisure service of politics. In the run-up to the election, for the next three months, you will see what an entire Clinton II administration will look like from the right wing that hates Hillary more than they ever hated her husband.

Bernie Sanders is a gentleman, a statesman and a patriot, so he declined to make a big deal of the very clear evidence of primary election-rigging and millions of dollars’ worth of media bias toward Hillary Clinton. But the Republican right wing will not be so gentle or so gentlemanly. Hillary can take it, you say? OK.

How about her Iraq vote? Yes, she said a few times (but only after 2007) that it was “a mistake,” and in her 2014 book <em>Hard Choices</em>, that she “got it wrong.” But <em>she has never apologized</em> for the mistake that ended up costing 4,500 American lives, perhaps a half million Iraqi lives, and a dramatic increase in the federal deficit, occasioning in major cutbacks to important social programs—and resulted in the creation of ISIL. She wasn’t alone in this vote, but the only presidential candidate who voted <em>for</em> the AUMF is asking us to trust her policy judgment after this “mistake.”

But let’s take Hillary at her word. Did she learn from her “mistake”? Perhaps not: As Secretary of State under President Obama, whose legacy she vows to continue, Hillary backed a major U.S. “surge” in Afghanistan (70% of the U.S. soldiers who have died in Afghanistan have died since Mr. Obama took office). She supports torture by the U.S., including the war crime of waterboarding, just not when performed by other countries. She supports the illegal expansion of the state of Israel into Palestine. Indeed, her promise to continue meddling in the Middle East hurts people and helps only weapons contractors—her donors. According to <em>Time Magazine</em>, Hillary Clinton’s State Department “helped enable Obama’s expansion of lethal drone strikes [which increased 300% since George W. Bush left office]. In fact, Clinton may have been the administration’s most reliable advocate for military action.” She supported the illegal U.S. bombing of Libya, now a failed state. She supports boots-on-the-ground regime change in Syria: according to <em>Time</em>, “She pressed Obama to arm the Syrian rebels, and later endorsed air strikes against the Assad regime.” And, after a coup to overthrow the Honduran democracy in 2009, she backed a fascist military dictatorship in its place.

Her legacy stems from support of her husband’s policies (1993-2001). She supported U.S invasions of or attacks against Haiti (1994 and formerly a democracy), Bosnia (1995), and Kosovo (1999). She “urged” her husband to bomb Yugoslavia (illegally, 1999)—indeed, this was a pretext to expand NATO, violating an agreement with Russia that NATO would not move “one inch” east of West Germany (and we wonder why Vladimir Putin gets upset at NATO encirclement!). As late as 2007, she supported the illegal U.S. embargo against Cuba.

Indeed, according to one website, “At the end of the year in which Clinton left her position as Secretary of State (2013), the Obama regime’s USA was voted, in a Win/Gallup poll of 65 countries around the world, as the single greatest threat to world peace, with the runner-up (Pakistan, an Islamic fundamentalist US ally) receiving three times fewer votes, and Russia receiving twelve times fewer votes.”

But it doesn’t end there. Hillary Clinton has been, and will be, the subject of multiple investigations—especially should she be elected without clear Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Republicans will (I think treasonously) tie up the people’s business in favor of hamstringing and stymieing any progress Hillary tries to make on her agenda. Just as they did to her husband with the Monica Lewinsky “scandal”; just as they have tried to do with Mr. Obama. Republicans will block her at every turn, dog her with scandals real or invented (it’s a distinction without a difference to the Fox News crowd) and, if anything, be harder on her than on the scandal-free Obama. It would not be surprising to find Articles of Impeachment land on her desk the day after she takes office.

  1. Hillary Clinton is an enigma. In his notorious 2008 campaign ad, then-Senator Barack Obama said: “Hillary Clinton. She’ll say anything, and change nothing.” Whether or not this is true, voters are asking: Just who is Hillary Clinton? Whose side is she on? Can Hillary be trusted?

In 2008, Hillary was the front-runner, but then voters abandoned her in favor of a freshman Senator from Illinois. Was it because they would rather have voted for the first African-American president than the first female president? Or was it because voters felt they could trust Mr. Obama more than Mrs. Clinton? Polls seem to indicate that voters favored Obama largely because he was not Hillary.

A June Rasmussen poll, quoted by Fast Company, found 46% of likely voters saying Hillary was less honest than most other politicians (45% said the same of Trump). This may be confirmation bias, as the article claims, in which case tough for Hillary. People already “know” she is a liar—there are many instances in which she has verifiably stretched the truth, but no more than many male politicians (including her husband)—but this explains why Republicans don’t trust her. What about the 33% of <em>Democrats</em> who think she is less than candid? She plays the gender card, but denies she plays it; she denies being part of establishment politics, even while reveling in it; she offered multiple excuses for why she used a private e-mail server instead of abiding by State Department and Public Records law (FBI director James Comey, a George W. Bush appointee, said there is evidence that she was extremely careless in her handling of very sensitive, highly classified information, including eight chains with highly classified information, 36 with secret information and another eight with confidential information); she even distorted the record of a true progressive (Bernie Sanders); to prove that she is really a progressive.

Then there is the election rigging. As usual, Hillary’s fingerprints are not found on this, but the evidence is clear and convincing—as the leaked e-mails and other sources demonstrate: targeted voter suppression, registration tampering, illegal voter purges, exit polling discrepancies, evidence for voting machine tampering, the security (or lack thereof) of various voting machine types. In any other country, this election cycle would trigger a U.N. investigation.

There is not much I can say to recommend Trump, but as one pundit put it, “[W]ith every force in the Republican party against him, [Trump] won fair and square. He abided by the rules.” The same cannot be said of Hillary: “Hillary Clinton had all the money, name recognition, and advantages any candidate could. And yet, the DNC had to rig the election in her favor.”

For all these reasons, Hillary Clinton will have a difficult time winning the presidency in November. Many of her problems stem from her personality and her background as a corporate Democrat. Many of her problems, like the right-wing haters who will never accept her, are out of her control. But whether it is her bad policy decisions or the perception of her duplicity, whether it is her misreading the electorate or misreading her opponent, whether she plays the First-Woman-President card or the Be-Afraid-of-Donald-Trump card, there is a sliver of hope in her electoral prospects. If Hillary were to become and behave as progressive as Bernie Sanders actually is, addressing with real solutions the real problems that galvanized Bernie’s followers, and even some Trump supporters, she might get independent voters to emerge from their dejection and eke out a win in November, in spite of her frighteningly negative numbers.

I don’t see that happening. It’s not in her nature. And that is why I believe Hillary will lose. And she will lose YOOGE.

Posted in Uncategorized

Redlining Pizza

Was I too quick to call out racism?

It was about 9:00 and I called the nearby Pizza Hut. The proprietor answered with something unintelligible before saying “Pizza Hut,” then asked if I wanted carryout or delivery.

I said delivery—if I have reached the Pizza Hut across from the 7-Eleven (my local one).

He replied, “That was the first thing I said.”

I thought that was somewhat smart-ass of him, but I said, “Your first words to me were unintelligible, so that is why I asked for clarification.” I gave him the delivery address, a well-kept neighborhood of rowhouses and single-family houses, mostly African-American.

He said, “I’m sorry, but we don’t deliver to that address after 5pm.”

Of course, it was dark at that hour, but I said it’s an assisted living home on a private driveway, up a hill, off the street. Then, after pausing a second, I added, “That policy sounds a bit racist. Are you sure you don’t want to reconsider it?”

He said, “Well, when my drivers are in danger….”

I cut him off and reminded him that this is an assisted living home, on a private driveway, so there is no danger.

He insisted on his policy. I hung up on him.

Instead, I ordered from Today’s Pizza, who were happy to take my delivery order at any hour. They had delivered to that address before.

As a Realtor, I’m familiar with the concept of redlining. Was I too quick to call out racism?

Posted in Uncategorized

Top 10 Reasons Why Donald Trump is a “Real” Christian

And Why Americans Love Him

10. Like conservative Christians, Trump seems to be afraid of nearly everything: brown people, other religions, the government, liberals, homosexuals, women breast feeding—pretty much anything or anyone that’s not a heterosexual, white conservative Christian.

9. Like conservative Christians, Trump is demeaning to women. “You know,” says Trump, “it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

8. After previously making favorable statements about the right to abortion, like conservative Christians, Trump now claims to be pro-life—and, also like conservative Christians, Trump says, “Planned Parenthood should absolutely be defunded.”

7. Like conservative Christians, Trump denies human-caused climate change: “We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.” He has also tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

6. Like conservative Christians, Trump thinks socialism is evil: he criticizes Vermont Senator Bernie (“Crazy Bernie”) Sanders’s democratic socialist beliefs as “a short road to failure for this country.” And, also like conservative Christians, he doesn’t know—or care—about the differences between socialism and communism.

5. Like conservative Christians, Trump would like to see schools compete: charters, vouchers, and magnets—in effect inviting unaccountable corporate control of education—and to cut the Department of Education and Common Core standards. Also like conservative Christians, Trump personifies the ignorance of facts and issues that results from a lack of education.

4. Like conservative Christians, Trump seems to have no problem chastising a poor family on food stamps or welfare—which he counterfactually calls an “outrageously mismanaged government program”—but considers anyone “un-American” who dares to call a wealthy person a greedy bastard.

3. Although he admits he knows little about guns, Trump seems to support them just as much as gun-obsessed conservative Christians. “We’re going to cherish the Second Amendment,” Trump said during a campaign stop in Washington state. And Trump argued that the November 2015 massacre in Paris would have “would have played out differently with the bullets flying in the other direction.”

2. Like conservative Christians, Trump seems to be OK with torture… of foreigners, preferably swarthy ones, because “we have to beat the savages.” Plus, he believes in family values at home, but that it’s OK to kill the families of terrorists abroad.

1. Like conservative Christians, Trump is racist: he suggests that Hispanic and Latino immigrants constitute a criminal class who want to rape and murder white women, and who, on the one hand, are stealing the jobs of “real” Americans, but who are also lazy moochers!

Posted in Entertainer, Politics, Rant, Uncategorized

October 26: Seth Macfarlane (1973)

Seth_MacfarlaneIt was on this date, October 26, 1973, that American comedian and creator of the prime-time Emmy-winning satire The Family Guy, Seth Woodbury MacFarlane was born in Kent, Connecticut. He is best known for writing, directing, producing and voicing the title character in the 2012 comedy Ted, starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, as well as its sequel Ted 2 (2015), and A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014).

 

MacFarlane’s background is in animation, which he studied at the Rhode Island School of Design. In addition to Family Guy, winner of two Emmy Awards, Macfarlane also created the 2005 adult animated series American Dad! He served in 2014 as executive producer of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, which is an update of the 1980 Cosmos series hosted by the late Carl Sagan. And he has performed live as a singer at Carnegie Hall and release three studio albums, admitting to influence from singer Frank Sinatra. In 2015, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 

MacFarlane was named the Harvard Humanist of the Year in 2011 in recognition for “his active, passionate commitment to Humanist values, and his fearless support of equal marriage rights and other social justice issues.” He also serves on the board of the progressive advocacy organization People for the American Way. On the February 19, 2010, episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” (HBO), MacFarlane said he is an atheist, but that he has no problem with religious people in general. And in the entertainment magazine Steppin’ Out, Macfarlane said, “I do not believe in God. I’m an atheist. I consider myself a critical thinker, and it fascinates me that in the 21st century most people still believe in, as George Carlin puts it, ‘the invisible man living in the sky.’”

Posted in Uncategorized
John Mill