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I caught up with Bob Dylan and asked him what he was thinking about the election. Here’s what he said:
“Well, you know, I don’t often git involved in politics, or talk on the record. I liked John Kennedy. And well, I didn’t write ‘She Belongs to Me’ or ‘Love Minus Zero, No Limit’ about Hillary Clinton, but I could have. She kind of reminds me of Joan Baez. She works really hard. Plus she’s got a law degree, she was First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and she did a good job.
“And I didn’t write ‘Positively 4th Street” about Trump, but I could have. He hasn’t done much good. Stiffed a whole lot of people.
“And I did write ‘Masters of War’ about the Republicans.
“And that’s all I got ta say.”
According to the data presented on FiveThirtyEight.com, “Polls Only Forecast,” Hillary Clinton has a 87.8% probability of winning the election. Hillary has a 91% probability of winning, if the election was held tomorrow, according to FiveThirtyEight. She only has a 77.6% chance of winning based on polls and historical data.
Drilling deeper into the “Polls Only” data …
Governor Christie wants an apology from the press. (Politicker and Vice). As a citizen of New Jersey, a blogger, and a card carrying member of the newspaper guild, I would like to apologize for Governor Christie.
I am sorry that the Governor of New Jersey settled New Jersey’s $9.0 Billion damages suit against Exxon Mobil for $225 Million, pennies on the dollar, 2.5 ¢ on the dollar (NY Times, here) but I’m glad NJ General Assembly Judiciary Chairman John McKeon is fighting the settlement (NJ Journal, here).
I am sorry that the Governor of New Jersey, who in 2011, before Superstorm Sandy said, “climate change is real…. human activity plays a role” and that climate change is “impacting our state” (Star Ledger, here) has, since Sandy refused to acknowledge any role climate change may have played in Hurricane Sandy, calling it “a scientific discussion and debate that I’m simply not engaged in” (Star Ledger, here).
I am sorry that the Governor of New Jersey is an arrogant bully and an obnoxious thug who’s only decisions while governor seem to be which contracts to reward to which cronies (“Politics, Policy & Jersey“) and which non-allies to punish.
Governor Christie may or not have directly ordered the closing of the George Washington Bridge, aka “Bridgegate,” as an act of retribution against a political non-ally. However, whether he ordered it or not, and whenever he knew about it, he clearly created the cultural milieu in which such an action was desired. As such, he has demonstrated a lack of fitness for office and an incapacity to govern.
Most of all, I’m sorry the voters of New Jersey elected Christie in 2009 and re-elected him in 2013.
Writing in the May, 1914 issue of The World’s Work, David Starr Jordan set out to explain to Americans what Europeans thought of them, and why. He quoted an unnamed German:
“We have an old tradition that ‘Germany is the land of the thinkers and the poets.’ We have in Germany everything well-ordered. The military training of the people gives them order and organization. We have, therefore, fewer criminals, fewer accidents, no “American bribery,” no corruption of judges or public officers.
“Moreover, in Germany, we have more culture, more idealism. Our science stands at the apex of the world. Our philosophy, our music, our theatre, our army, our railroads, our order. Thus it goes: ‘Germany above all, above all in the world.”
And so it went. Just a brief summer away from the first cataclysmic event of the twentieth century, one which not only shattered the self-regard of Jordan’s complacent German, but of the entire pantheon of Powers of that composed the acme of the era, leaving F. Scott Fitzgerald to express the profound sense of loss through his character Dick Diver: ” All my beautiful lovely safe world blew itself up here with a great gust of high explosive love.”
Welcome to Cultural Forensics. It is not so much a history blog as a history-in-the-making blog. With the past a preamble of the future, we are as much interested in where we are going as where we have been. And so it goes that we try to grasp that future by examining, in a metaphorically forensic way, the past’s entrails. We are forever betwixt the two, past and future, an interesting place to be.
“To demonstrate how ridiculous market predictors can be, … David Leinweber decided he could prove a point with butter production in Bangladesh:
After casting about to find a statistic so absurd that no sensible person could possibly believe it could forecast U.S. stock prices, Mr. Leinweber settled on annual butter production in Bangladesh. Over an 13-year period, he found, this statistic “explained” 75 percent of the variation in the annual returns of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.
By tossing in U.S. cheese production and the total population of sheep in both Bangladesh and the U.S., Mr. Leinweber was able to “predict” past U.S. stock returns with 99 percent accuracy.”
I’ve used the STUBL index, pronounced “Stubble” index. It stands for “Standard Transitory Unshaved Beard Length.” I look at college students on Monday mornings. When a majority of them are clean-shaven I conclude they went to sleep early enough to get up early and shave, and therefore didn’t have a great weekend. When a majority of them have a two day beard I conclude they had a great weekend.
This is a leading predictor of the market. However, I’m not sure when the correlation is positive and when it’s negative. That’s where the crystal ball comes in.
See, it’s an integrated approach.
He says “I have Israel’s back, but don’t take my word for it, look at what I’ve done.” His support for Israel at the UN and managing our response to the “Arab Spring” are good for the Americans, Europeans, Israelis, many Arabs, and many Persians, but not for Assad, Achmadinejad, and the Mullahs, or Putin. That’s good enough for me.
That’s not to say I like everything he’s done. There are aspects of his health care, tax, energy, and environmental policies I would like to change.
But you asked “what do we know?”
He was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961.
He was raised by his mom and her parents, who were from Kansas.
He went to elementary school in Indonesia, where his mom was living w her 2nd husband.
He went to high school in Hawaii. Played basketball. Went by the nickname “Barry.”
His mom and her parents were middle class. His mom was lower middle class in terms of money, income, wealth. On occasions his meals were paid for w food stamps.
This is conjecture but he probably was quiet, introspective and thoughtful. Obama the man is introspective and thoughtful. Most boys are quiet, and Obama was a black kid w a white mom and white grandparents in Indonesia and Hawaii.
I don’t know what it was like – I grew up Jewish in Staten Island at a time when there was one Jewish family per square mile – one family out of about 500 families – that’s 0.2% – and had my share of “incidents” involving religion and bigotry. There were some colorful people in my neighborhood, but except for one kid with a Native American grandparent, there were no “people of color.” None in my elementary school or Junior high. I was the only Jewish kid in in my class, I think my grade, until 4th grade. Then it was me and a very cute Jewish girl named Laurie. But I digress.
In the south he would have been a scandal. In Indonesia he was a paradox – a black kid w a white mom and Indonesian step-father. Privileged as an American, and yet conscious of it. In Hawaii there are 4 groups: Whites, Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiians. A black kid w a white mom in the 1960’s would have been his own category, especially with a half-Indonesian kid-sister. And divorce was uncommon and scandalous back in the 60’s.
My wife – who’s from Eastern Europe – asks why we say he’s Black because his mom was white. But she doesn’t really understand race in America. A black friend of mine says I don’t understand race in America from a black person’s perspective, and, lawyer that he is, he makes a cogent argument, based on facts.
What else do we know?
Obama graduated Columbia University, then Harvard Law, and didn’t go to either as a legacy kid. Ergo, he must be pretty smart and capable of hard work.
He went to Chicago trying to help poor people. Met and married Michelle. He lost one or two elections early on. Got elected to the State Legislature, then the US Senate, then the Presidency.
As we saw in the 2012 White House Press Correspondant’s Dinner, he is able to laugh at himself. That evening he grinned ruefully when Seth Meyers said “I don’t know who among the Republicans can beat you, but I do know who could beat you – the Barack Obama of 2008. Remember him?” And Obama himself, after issuing the order authorizing the mission that killed Osama bin Laden, and before knowing the results of the mission, before knowing whether it failed or succeeded, calmly and ironically saluted Donald Trump, saying “choosing whether to fire Gary Busey or Meatloaf- would keep me up at night.”
As a leader, he seems to listen to people he has reason to believe are experts, and make intelligent and informed decisions based on the facts and insight. That, in my opinion, is exactly what we need in a President. The melanin content in his skin, and the texture of his hair are irrelevant to his ability to do his job.
Medicare works well for my octogenarian father. My insurance premium is large enough – $1200 per month – for a new BMW and a new Mercedes. And I can’t see the doctors I’d like to see.
My insurance is great as long as I don’t get sick.
Then I’d face bankruptcy. What good is it? And One out of Six Americans has no health insurance and therefore very limited access to health care. This is appalling. It’s the population of California, NJ and New York City. It’s roughly the population of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland – the entire mid-Atlantic and New England states. It’s 47 Million People!
Please call your Senator and your Representative in the House. Tell them to support a DFA Green Orca who runs on a campaign to deliver single payer health care and 100% clean energy in 10 years.
Will it be easy? No. But – When John Kennedy urged us to accept the goal “before the decade is out, of sending a man to the moon and returning him safely” he said it would be hard and expensive. Yet we did it.
When the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day my children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” he didn’t say it would be easy. He didn’t say it would happen overnight. And he spoke those words about 45 years ago, about 100 years after Lincoln freed both slaves and the slaveholders of the bondage and oppression of slavery. And while last November a sufficient plurality judged Obama and McCain by the content or their character and not the color of their skin, we’re not out of the woods yet. (How else do you explain people like CNN’s Lou Dobbs? If his questioning Obama’s birth is not racism I’ll eat a whaleburger.)
We didn’t know where Apollo would lead – other than to the moon and back. We didn’t know it would lead to the Internet and tons of cool high tech. Unlike the Apollo program we know these twin goals – single payer and 100% clean energy – will have tremendous economic and national security benefits.
We can’t afford the status quo. As Gore said, “we are borrowing Billions from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf and burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that has got to change.” Coal, by the way, is dirtier than oil. It may be abundent, but it’s abundently dirty
Let’s turn those Blue Dogs into Dog Meat. And the Dog Meat Republicanista …
Think about it – rotweiller and pit bull versus orca? No contest. Orca wins.
There are corrupt politicians in both parties.
When a corrupt Democrat abuses power a lot of people benefit, and a few people Really benefit. When a corrupt Republican abuses power, A few people really benefit, and a select few REALLY REALLY benefit.
Consider Clinton and Bush. The worst thing Clinton did was he didn’t pass a single payer / Medicare law and create a universal health care system. The worst thing he is known for is “hooking up” with a young woman to whom he was not married. The worst things Bush did were destroy the economy, invade Iraq, mire us in Afghanistan, ram the Patriot Act thru Congress, ignore the FISA law on wiretaps, suspend habeus corpus, outsource the military to his friends, botch the emergency response to Katrina and Rita – those things are so much worse than an inappropriate relationship between consenting adults, even tho one had significant power over the other.
One difference is scale. Clinton’s affair with Lewinsky should have been a private matter; it should not be a public matter. It did not, or should not have effected policy. Every one of Bush’s failings is a policy failure that profoundly diminshed the strength, health and well-being of the United States and many citizens.