Tuesday, February 19, 2019

A matter of hopeful analysis, not predictive analysis. Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Party's presidential primary

As Klouchbar, Harris, and others walk back support for Medicare for All, free public college tuition, and the Green New Deal, apparently due to the fact they are relying on corporate/financier money, I have stayed with the tried and true, Bernie Sanders. There are two overarching factors for early primary voters that any smart political strategist would tell us: (1) name recognition and (2) trust. This time, Bernie has both, and nobody else has that combination. My take has always been it is not "Bernie vs. Some New Face." It is Bernie v. Biden or some coalesced corporate media hyped candidate. It is not about "new faces," "young faces," compelling biographies, or the like. It is about protecting corporate power and we have to be more vigilant in recognizing what emanates from our televisions and radio, in terms of punditry especially, is corporate propaganda. Once we start with that recognition, we are able to discern where the hype is, and is not. Note the media was not anywhere near as breathless about Bernie's announcement compared to, say, Harris' announcement. 

As for Elizabeth Warren, corporate media is not going to coalesce around Warren, unless the corporate media has another death wish to re-elect Trump. I love Warren's policy proposals, and her domestic policies are outstanding. But sadly, I also find too many potential Democratic Party voters in the very States Clinton lost in 2016, but should have won, feel as if they don't trust Warren due to the Native American imbroglio. I find that to be a trivial issue, and one where Warren is being flogged in a way that is deeply unfair. However, it speaks to a resentment from the white working classes (lower to upper middle) in places like WI, MI, PA, and OH, who don't like the feeling she may have maneuvered her career based upon a misleading heritage claim. One more thing about Warren: Let's not give her a pass on her foreign policy positions.  Too often, she shows she is afraid to challenge any aspect of the Empire, and the conduct of Israeli governments, while Bernie has been far better, though some may say he pulls punches, too. 

I like the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttegeig. A lot. I especially liked his answer the other day to the question about socialism making a comeback in American politics.  He said younger people don't worry about whether something is socialist or capitalist as much as whether it makes sense or works or not--and that whether something is socialist is the beginning of a debate, not the end; something I have said for decades out here in the cold.  I also don't get the sense Mayor Pete is walking back from the positions Klouchbar and the others have walked back, though that may be a function of his not getting corporate/financier money, and not being a corporate media executive darling...I can't say. Still, Mayor Pete suffers from a lack of name recognition, and corporate media is not interested in promoting him, which means death in the early primaries, including SC and CA. 

Therefore, right now, it makes the most sense for progressives to publicly back, endorse, and promote Bernie. And even if we are still not certain, sitting back, and not endorsing Bernie, is only going to play into corporate media hands, as corporate media executives are contemptuous and fearful of Bernie's positions.  That is why these newbies have buckled under the pressure from the elites behind corporate media to walk away from progressive positions that a majority of American support.  

If another progressive with high levels of trust does well, Bernie would be the first to recognize it and step away. He has far less ego than most people who run for president. However, if the field stays crowded into 2020 early primaries, Bernie will get at least 25% or more of the vote, based upon trust and name recognition. This will make him a kingmaker and potential person for the younger candidates to decide to hitch their stars. I hope Bernie chooses a VP candidate by the end of 2019 so we may see a progressive team which speaks to the issues that are at least as much class based, as identity politics based. I have become convinced over the years that one without the other is a betrayal, and to speak of class based economic populism and identity politics as separate and exclusive is the problem.  It is not about whether we accent one or the other; they must be part of a seamless garment. 

None of what I have written here is a prediction analysis, once one gets past the name recognition and trust factors. This is an analysis of hope for our nation, for our children, and grandchildren, and for our planet.  Therefore, when someone asks you, whether a friend, acquaintance, pollster, etc., Who do you support for President?  Just say "Bernie."  And let's see how we can mess up the corporate media narrative makers, at least.  It will also push the newbie candidates into a corner where they say to their corporate/financier donors, "Bernie's making us look bad.  We have to adapt.  Sorry."  It won't mean we trust those others, but it changes the narrative the corporate media is trying so desperately to sell us.  And yes, I recognize what the DNC did last time.  Last time, the point of the HRC candidacy was to muffle progressive positions.  Bernie ran because he wanted to promote progressive policies, and the DNC did what it could to sabotage the effort, with their handmaidens in the corporate media outlets.  This time, the DNC strategy to sabotage progressive politics is to flood the field with "new" people.  It is to create chaos, and hope Biden or some media executive darling gets 20-25% of each vote to create momentum and push people into that corner for neo-liberal domestic policies/neo-conservative foreign policies.  That is how the system operates.  It is again why standing with Bernie upsets that systemic narrative cycle.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Who ya gonna believe, me or your own eyes?

Hmmm....So hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans take to the streets to support the current executive branch leadership.  At least those are the photos from Venezuelan state run television.  Still, a majority can be "wrong" if there is electoral fraud, mistrust, and oppressive behaviors afoot. 

I am deeply disappointed in the Venezuelan leadership over the years. But let's just begin with their squandering of oil revenues over those years. It was nice the current Venezuelan leadership did far more things for the people than most other Latin American nations in the time period of their rule, starting with building more hospitals, better roads and schoolbuildings, and economically developing and supporting people more than most Latin American nations of the past 150 years. But there is still a matter of simple accounting, ensuring there is protection against down times, and promoting alternatives to fossil fuels--instead of living on the short-term largess of what were high oil prices. 

There is, of course, and correctly, the very serious matter of the way the current Venezuelan leadership have run the politics, which have often been authoritarian and counter to transparency and open government, and not afraid to reach for the type of fraud Republican officeholders here may well be dreaming about. However, I began with the economic issues because American leadership says they care about "democracy" and such, but American government actions over the past 120 years of imperial adventures (and of course before then in earlier guises, including the stealing of Native American land and genocidal policies) show they are primarily interested in dictatorships on behalf of corporate power and the wealthy. When American leaders talk about promoting "democracy," they are, in short, lying--if History is any guide at all. 

Those of us who believe in procedural civil liberties, open government, and the like, are mostly without power, and, in foreign policy "crises", forever having to live in the world of the lying power centers in our nation. Therefore, when we are in situations as we are with respect to places such as Venezuela, the proper take is American leadership should do NOTHING about Venezuela. Let the Venezuelans sort it out. It is not pretty, and it fills me with frustration. But we simply are not to trust any American leadership who hold the reins of American foreign policies. First and foremost, Do no harm. There is no "Second." We lack the power, and if we exercised it, we are going to prison.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Delusional aphorisms of the rich

Barry Diller, a legend in late 20th Century Hollywood circles, who people hate more than love, for reasons that only tell us, "You had to be there, I suppose...."* has deigned to disclose what he believes is his "secret" for his personal success. Diller says we should "forget" each success in an endeavor so that one may repeat the success. The little snippet from the interview is here, at Yahoo! Finance. 

Um, Barry, you really don't forget success. Confidence tends to reek from people who are successful. In their private moments from time to time, they may have some doubts, but nearly every day is a day in which they bask in a warm sunlight known as economic prosperity. No, Barry. The key adage for what you are talking about is: "Money goes to money." Even a complete schmuck, as is our current president, can lose Brinks' vaults of money, fail at so many businesses, and remain living in a penthouse suite with gold plated rooms in upper Manhattan. The money, once it reaches into the centi-million level, and possibly anything more than $20 million, envelops and comforts you, and holds you together pretty much no matter what you do or don't do. You really have to work at the failure, most often through abusing alcohol or drugs, to permanently lose big chunks of the money previously made. Otherwise, the money in your various accounts flows like a solid, healthy river--and all your coupon clippings, little aphorisms you develop along the way, are just so much bullshit.

So, Barry, forget forgetting success. Learn a little humility by recognizing the Money is better and smarter than you are. That's money with a capital M.  And this forms a part of what I mean when I say "The rich are overrated."

As I am finishing my sixth Louis Auchincloss novel over the past three months, I am reminded of what Auchincloss described as the theme of many of his novels: "It was perfectly clear from the beginning that I was interested in the story of money: how it was made, inherited, lost, spent." And, with lawyers permeating the narratives (Auchincloss, in his semi-day job, was a lawyer at a Wall Street firm for many years), he wrote about how money is maintained and used to promote, refine, and protect power. As Gore Vidal wrote about Auchincloss, in an essay for the NYRB in the 1970s: "Not since Dreiser has an American writer had so much to tell us about the role of money in our lives. In fascinating detail, (Auchincloss) shows how generations of lawyers have kept intact the great fortunes of the last century. With Pharaonic single-mindedness they have filled the American social landscape with pyramids of tax-exempt money, to the eternal glory of Rockefeller, Ford, et al. As a result, every American's life has been affected by the people Auchincloss writes so well about."

Vidal's essay-review of an Auchincloss book is one of Vidal's so many marvelous essays. Vidal, in this particular essay, makes fun of the literary academy for ignoring Auchincloss, quoting literary pooh-bahs of the time who denigrated or criticized Auchincloss for writing about a "little world" scarcely beyond Manhattan, but which Vidal notes, stretches into the power corridors of the Empire known as the United States. Vidal laments how the cultural cues Americans get not only from media, but in the literature academy, have blinded us as to how the management and control of money is an arbiter of power, and how it is not the "anti-hero" who should be studied, but those who exercise and wield power through money.  One can say there is room for both, and Vidal knew that, but the lament requires an emphasis that may sound more as an "either/or."  

Today, "social justice warriors" in the academy would have a field day with the racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism rampant in the society Auchincloss describes, and impugn Auchincloss as a racist, sexist, or anti-Semite.  In doing so, they would confuse the writer with the character and society in which he lived and described. For Auchincloss' narration, unlike what I found with Booth Tarkington, does not betray him for the most part.  He writes about women, Jews, gays, though rarely African-Americans or Puerto Ricans in upper Manhattan, with a marked sympathy and recognition of the obstacles and challenges they faced in American society from the late 19th Century through 1970s.  I also believe such a criticism of Auchincloss and his novels would fail to recognize Auchincloss' inherent liberalism and sly critique of American society during that era. Auchincloss' perspective is essentially Vidalian, and more influenced in that respect by Theodore Dreiser than Henry James. Auchincloss also happens to write female characters better than most male writers of his or nearly any generation. One can only think of W. Somerset Maugham as a rival. Auchincloss' ability to perceive and write women characters as human beings appears to come from Auchincloss' self-professed admiration (and personal acquaintance) with Edith Wharton, and his respect for American female writers from the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  I have written about Auchincloss before, but I thought I'd repeat myself as I believe it relevant to this post.

Oh well. Keep on forgetting, Barry. You don't have to know any of this. After all, money goes to money.

*From what I am about to impart, one would not know I happen to like Barry Diller, compared to the other legends from that era in the entertainment industry. If one watches the entire interview from which this blog post is emanating, one sees Barry Diller is a fairly liberal minded guy when it comes to politics.  

Monday, January 14, 2019

Beware of "Biography" candidates

When Al Gore, upon accepting his nomination for the Democratic Party's candidate for president in 2000, chose Joe Lieberman as his vice presidential candidate, I remember a socially liberal activist in Orange County Democratic Party circles, who also shared a Jewish heritage, being so excited. She said, "Isn't this great?! You won't support Nader now, right? Gore chose a Jew--like us!" I said, No, Joe Lieberman is exactly why I am voting for Ralph Nader and the Greens in CA. Lieberman is a corporate Democrat and his foreign policy is horribly neo-con (the phrases were already being used in the circles in which I traveled). 

I was living in Thousand Oaks at the time, and at the synagogue we attended, there was so much excitement: Wow! A Jewish vice presidential candidate in a major party! My reaction there, too, was, Yuck--and of course, that reaction did not go over well. I would say, I'm sticking with the guy who grew up in a Lebanese-American Christian family. I said I didn't care about Joe Lieberman being Jewish. He is nobody I'd like personally or politically.

When Lieberman became a Bush/Cheney booster, I remember the Rabbi there saying to me, "How did you know Lieberman was so bad?" I just smiled and said, I read. And, I added, I don't fall for or make assumptions about candidates based upon their personal biographies. I admire RFK and FDR, both rich, white men who happened to care about those who are economically vulnerable and had tremendous empathy. Empathy and concern for those who are economically vulnerable are traits I admire in a candidate. 

All these people currently announcing for president are "Biography" candidates. They are selling themslves on a personal heritage or membership in some group or status that is historically oppressed (Well, Warren is a strange version: I am a white dirt farmer's daughter who my family told me had some Cherokee blood.). They are following the Obama 2006-2008 playbook, and trying to bolster ethnic/racial pride, which, in these times, may (I repeat may, not will) ironically solidify white pride for Republicans and Trump in places like WI, MI, PA, and OH. We still live in an Electoral College world, folks, until enough States sign the Compact (I am hoping NM signs next, as it is on the agenda for the State legislature this week, and the new governor is ready to sign).

At least Warren and the Mayor Pete from Indianapolis are progressive in matters of public policy. The others? Their playbook is not some book about public policy. It is merely Sheryl Sandberg's self-help book, "Leaning In," and they sell themselves as an ethnic/racial/gender "brand." When we consider so many of these other candidates, we think first of their personal status, make unwarranted assumptions, and their handlers smile.

I am already tired of the "Biography" candidates, whether Bankers* or progressives. Still, I know it is required if one wants respectful corporate media attention, and I find older people are more fooled by it than younger ones. I remember with ironic laughter how Bernie had a hard time accepting this style of campaigning and self-promotion, as his advisers had to beg him to talk about his own heritage. He was saying, "Who cares about these things? It should be about public policy." 

Bernie learned to talk sometimes about these things, but I know he still finds it to be an example of one's vanity. And when we view these other candidates through that lens, their vanity is practically screaming at us. When thinking of them, my advice is to remind ourselves of Joe Lieberman, and look at his vanity in being so desperate for attention that he goes on FoxNews to rip into the future of the Democratic Party. It is not enough to say, Go away, Joe. It is important to realize these types of "Biography" candidates are first and foremost about themselves. And that goes for the Beloved Obama, too.

* Gore Vidal, in 1980, took to calling most Democratic and Republican Party presidential candidates and other politicians, "Banksmen." See: Vidal's essay, "The State of the Union 1980" first published, I recall, in Esquire magazine, but it is also in his compendium of essays, "United States" (1992).  I think it is very apt to describe the corporate Democratic Party candidates running for president, or expecting to announce. It helps push back against the "Biography" diversion and expose these vain people for who and what they are.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Fun with "Outlander"

The Wife, The Daughter and I love "Outlander." But sometimes, the writers have a fail that is just too funny to resist comment. 

Last week, Claire and Bree, mother and daughter, were reminiscing in North Carolina circa 1771 about America and Great Britain circa early 1971. Bree somehow said she missed listening to "Led Zeppelin." Right away, I'm thinking, Bree, you have not shown us you liked Led Zeppelin at all. Young Bree traveled through the stones of Inverness to the 18th Century before Zep released the woman-friendly "Stairway to Heaven" in November 1971. The hardest music Bree would have listened to would have been Creedence Clearwater Revival. From everything about her, she was at best a CSN&Y fan (I don't know why "Deja Vu" was not in Bree's head the whole time she is traveling back in time...."We have all been here before/We have all been here before."). If Bree was a CSN&Y and CCR fan, that would have made sense and any guy worth his salt at the time would say, great for Bree on both counts! But why did the writers push us to think she liked Led Zeppelin? They may as well have had her say how much she likes Jethro Tull

Then, Claire, who was born in 1918 (!), and left the mid-20th Century for the second time around 1968, really goes full anachronistic. Claire tells her daughter she, Claire, would "probably" like Led Zeppelin, too. Really, Claire? My grandparents were born in 1916, and they thought the Nelson Riddle arrangements for Sinatra were "edgy."  Sorry, Claire. You showed no interest in music before, except as radio background as you did other things, and there is no reason to believe you would have understood Elvis or The Beatles--and if you got used to early Beatles, certainly not later Beatles. 

It is amusing to see anachronistic, forced dialogue in time-travel stories or alternative histories, though it is less amusing to see it in shows like "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." To me, I just never understood, until I started writing an "Outlander" fan fiction in my head, why Claire never took Jamie back to modern Boston, Massachusetts after Frank died in the car crash.  People don't stink--they take nightly, not weekly baths in the mid-20th Century. There are indoor flush toilets, anesthesia, and general conveniences, which the mother and daughter did say when reminiscing, which was great for them to finally acknowledge. Jamie, for his part, could see how silly it was for the Scots to have shed so much blood at Culloden in 1746 when Scotland was doing fairly well in the post-William Beveridge welfare state, circa 1971.  But then, I figured out why...

OUTLANDER FAN FICTION SUMMARY: Dissolve to 1971 Boston as Jamie is walking down the street near Massachusetts General Hospital. An advertising guy stops Jamie in the street, and says, "How'd you like to model our new shirt line?" Jamie is unsure what the fellow is talking about, but he needs money as he has no land, makes a little as a handyman, and is generally depressed as he sees Claire, the doctor, earning the money in a society that defines self-worth more by money, as opposed to land or feudalist power relations. Jamie gets paid, the ad goes up on billboards, and Jamie is a hit. As Jamie starts finding women asking for his autograph in the street, Claire begins to be wary. Jamie then starts making big money from modeling, including television ads, all in a matter of months. Then, a Hollywood producer calls--and Jamie travels to Los Angeles, and passes his film test. Jamie tells Claire he has to stay for a time in Los Angeles, and quickly ends up being invited to parties in the Hollywood Hills and the beaches in Malibu. "Girls"--as they were called then--are everywhere, and they all want their Jamie! Life magazine does a short squib on the rise of this dashing fellow, who seems so old fashioned and so modern at the same time. Women across North America and Great Britain begin to positively swoon over Jamie. Claire is now very, very nervous (and so is Robert Redford...:)). Claire says to herself, I'm taking this guy outta here and back to Scotland 1772. I don't care if everyone stinks from once a week baths. I don't care if there is no flushing indoor toilets or anesthesia. "Bitches, he's MINE!" Yeah, Claire must have done her own fan fiction in her head to keep Jamie in 1771, and endure all the hardships of life, and high risks of death. 

Oh, and Claire does not give two shakes of a lamb's tail about Bree, her one and only child. Claire never did, and never will. From the start of "Outlander," I have said Claire is like Meryl Streep's character, Susan Traherne, in the now obscure, but still powerful film, "Plenty." For Claire, and the character in "Plenty," life is about the personal thrill, and personal connections are hard to sustain, particularly with children. Claire never got over her thrill of being in WWII, and that is what really drives her to endure the personal uncertainty of the 18th Century. The Daughter and The Wife laugh along with me every time this season Claire says she misses or loves her daughter. She doesn't. But still, we love the show, and I love the way the show has developed overall, and most of the time, the dialogue is sharp, intelligent and emotionally touching--though also recently, we have really wondered about Roger's judgment and judgmental ways. Roger, pal, we expected more from you. You are a historian. You think you just walk out on Bree, and leave her alone at night to walk through a dangerous area? You really have to think about whether Bree is worth it if she doesn't want to remain a virgin until marriage?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

1969-2019 Iconic Rock Albums' Golden Anniversaries

I had posted this on FB on December 30, 2018 to not much response at all. I found that interesting and felt a little badly that nobody seemed interested. I post it here to keep track of it as I continue to find 1969 a great year for iconic rock albums. I offer no links as I am just too lazy today to bother...Cutting and pasting and going onto YouTube is the way to go here if one is curious to listen to those albums:

1969-2019. This is a going to be a golden anniversary for so many iconic rock albums, where the albums were the event, not merely a single off the album. I list below a variety of albums, in no particular order, as there really can't be, as one puts on each album depending upon one's mood. The end of the 1960s and up through the mid-1970s were a moment where rock bands constructed albums as albums, where they went to the max in trying to create an overall mood, where it was not about a single song for a hit single. Here are some I have come up with off the top of my head:

1. Tommy, by The Who; 
2. Stand Up, by Jethro Tull;
3. Court of the Crimson King, which is King Crimson's debut album;
4. The first Yes album; 
5. Led Zeppelin's first album;
6. From Genesis to Revelation, Genesis' debut album; 
7. Crosby Stills Nash's first album; 
8. Clouds, by Joni Mitchell;
9. Abby Road, by some band from Liverpool; 
10. Let it Bleed, the Rolling Stones' last innovative album; 
11. Doors' Soft Parade (the Doors channeling Frank Zappa in various parts); 
12. Hot Rats and Uncle Meat, two albums in one year, Frank Zappa; 
13. More and Ummagumma, also two albums in one year, by Pink Floyd;
14. On the Threshold of a Dream (and to a much lesser extent, Our Children's Children's Children), the Moody Blues.
15. Arthur (The Decline and Fall of the British Empire), by the Kinks; 
16. Santana, first album;
17. Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies, a way-out cult classic; 
18. Shazam, by the Move, a cult classic;
19. Sweet Thursday, its one and only album, a cult classic;
20. Tadpoles, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, another cult classic where, if one knows the Bonzos, may be surprised by how various much-loved songs resided in this particular album;
21. Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart;
22. Live/Dead, though not, Aoxomoxoa, also released in 1969, by the Grateful Dead;
23. It's a Beautiful Day.

There are other bands that produced great or interesting music that year, such as Van Der Graaf Generator first album, Alice Cooper Band's first album, the Zombies last, posthumous album, but the overall albums were not that great.  There are also some bands who produced albums that simply were not iconic compared to other works; here, I am thinking of Traffic's Last Exit album, among others. Again, I am thinking of individuals and bands who and which produced albums where the albums themselves, not merely a song or a few songs, were immediately iconic or became iconic, and where one listened to the entire album, letting it play right through, even if there are a couple of songs that may be deemed, in retrospect, clunkers.

Friday, January 4, 2019

PAYGO as a "dictatorship" of the corporate capitalist class

I love Robert Greenstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), but I find his reasoning on the House Rules passed yesterday, which included a PAYGO rule, defeatist reasoning. 

First, don't let anyone confuse us that the PAYGO rule the House passed yesterday is the same as the PAYGO law which corporate Democrats pushed through, and Obama signed, in 2010, the last time the Dems controlled the House of Representatives, Senate and Presidency. Even after reading Greenstein's article, I remain convinced this re-instatement of the PAYGO rule (after Republicans had adopted what is known as a CUTGO rule) means giving up legislative leverage before the Dems begin to agitate for new legislation. Why should anyone care that Republicans can call something a "middle class tax increase?" They do that already even without a PAYGO rule or PAYGO law. After all, they fairly consistently called Obama a "socialist," and it stuck with 40% of American voters at least, and a majority of older white Baby Boomers and Oldsters. And really, Bob Greenstein, let Mulvaney try to do or even do what you fear. With more progressives than in a long time in Congress yelling back at Mulvaney, let's see how angry we get so as to begin to force the type of changes a majority of Americans want to see. Republicans, when controlling the House, Senate, and Presidency, ramroded through tax cuts for billionaires and corporations by waiving PAYGO and CUTGO, and the reaction was the Democratic Party took back the House and various Statehouses. There would have been even more Democratic Party victories but for gerrymandering and voter suppression. The answer is to change the status quo--as Dr. Horrible would say, The Status is not Quo--and let's agitate to make 2020 an even greater wave which even overtakes those suppression type efforts. Democrats acting boldly will more likely lead to a Democratic Senate and a Democratic Party led presidency. 

After reading this article from Mr. Greenstein, who remains one of the most astute observers of legislation in DC for the past 20 years, I realized attacking the PAYGO law by not having a PAYGO rule would have focused a spotlight on Pelosi and Hoyer as they pushed the PAYGO law in the first place. All this complicated reasoning Greenstein employed is really about Pelosi and Hoyer saving face.

Too bad only Khanna, Ocasio-Cortez, and Gabbard were the only Democrats with guts to expose the charade. But substantively, this type of rule narrows the scope of policy debates, and forces politicians to compromise in ways that are more capitulations than compromises. The rule gives further procedural cover to scaredy-cat Dems and corporate media to attack progressives in Congress, "Follow the rule and the law. Tell us how to pay for it." It immediately puts progressives on the defensive beyond just rhetoric, as it is a House rule.  The rule tells the Democratic Party leaders and other congresspeople what is acceptable to the capitalist donor class before the first hearings on a proposed law begins. Yet, we know when there is a war or a giveaway to the wealthy interests, the concern for debt/deficits disappear, and a roll call vote to waive PAYGO or before CUTGO gets made and not many people are the wiser as to how that was done. It is only when we speak of legislation to directly help people that suddenly, we have to defend ourselves against the taunt, "Oh, how do we pay for this?" I get we will have to say this anyway, but why give any Democrats cover under procedural rules or laws on top of that?

When Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in their unfortunately famous "The Communist Manifesto," spoke about the "dictatorship" of the proletariat, they were using the term "dictatorship" to mean there would be new rules that would limit the ability of the capitalist class to block the will of the proletariat class. See Wiki for a start, and Marx's speech in 1872 where he speaks kindly of procedural democratic/republican values in England, U.S. and Holland as ways to transfer power in a peaceful, not revolutionary, manner.  It is an interesting definition of the term "dictatorship," as Marx particularly had studied how rules the British Parliament had set up at the end of the 1700's and into the early 1800's with respect to restricting the commons, subsidizing capitalist ventures, laws imposing the death penalty for breaking machines, and the like, had tilted power away from both the peasants and workers' guilds still in Great Britain, and also the old aristocracy. Marx and Engels liked the latter change, as they abhorred feudalism, and were also clear they recognized the positive side of growing capitalist-oriented economic development. However, both men sought different rules to govern on behalf of the growing industrialized workers, and not the owners of the machinery and businesses.  Michael Harrington is excellent on this in the early chapters of his magisterial work, "Socialism," and his next book thereafter, "The Twilight of Capitalism," the latter in Chapter 1.  We know, however, how dangerous it was for Marx and Engels to have used the term, and how Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others distorted and betrayed Marx's and Engels' most positive values.  The crimes of Communism in the 20th Century can still be laid at the feet of Marx and Engels to the extent it was their too opaque a definition of "dictatorship" that lent itself to an easy and deadly, even genocidal, abuse.

In any event, I admit to being very angry at the House passing the PAYGO "rule" yesterday because the House leadership, once again, is reacting to what "is" instead of daring to change "is." Again, so what if Mulvaney and Trump behave with contempt and petulance? Let people see. Let young people see, let older people see, let the majority of Americans throughout the land see what Republican governance truly means. Why hide behind a set of rules that keep us from seeing clearly how the national leadership actually operates? Why keep giving succor to a rule scaredy-cat Democrats passed in 2010 that Republicans have run with the same way Truman's loyalty oath program put in via executive order in 1945 and 1946 were used and abused with glee by Republicans during the later Joe McCarthy Era starting in 1950 and lasting through the rest of the 1950s and beyond?

This procedural battle may be lost, but it is past time for progressive Democrats in Congress to agitate and push forward an agenda that says, Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. This is, sadly, a torpedo from our own side, but it is part of the Argument Among the Rational, meaning those who are decent, but live within the current Overton Window, and those of us who wish to push that window outward.