Category Archives: democracy at risk

Come out punching!

McConnell is not the top of the senate, Kamala Harris will be. As vice president she will be the Senate president. And as president she can break McConnell’s gridlock by recognizing any senator to bring any House-passed bill to the floor. She can do that without altering any Senate rule. No procedural vote is required. The Biden administration’s success depends on it. If Harris exercises this power, Republicans will never win again. If she does not, Biden will be one term.

To be successful, the Biden administration must come out punching.

2020 Vision: Klobuchar, Warren announcements are imminent
Mitch McConnell publicly acknowledges Biden-Harris win | National | chanute.com
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Frame like a Republican

I’m sitting here in my suburban living room on Melony Drive in Salt Lake City thinking I could do a better job communicating effectively than my Democratic representatives in Washington. The Democratic leadership is terrible at framing. Framing is the ability to phrase something in a nutshell that has immediate and emphatic meaning to the body politic. We just don’t seem to be able frame although the opportunities are myriad.

Ask yourself, for instance, how many times you have heard the phrase, “Imagine the Republican response if Obama did this . . .” Well, why don’t we level the same vehement response? Our lack of ability to effectively respond is why the Never Trumpers and the Lincoln Project are necessary. These groups are made up of ex-Republican operatives that know how to play hardball. They know how to frame. Democrats sputter in outrage at an effective Republican frame, with no response other that to repeat the frame by denying it. Democrats play puffball. Gently, with hand-wringing and apology (Democrats are decent people, after all).

After four years of Trump, the worst, most indecent person alive, Republicans are zealously throwing democracy under the bus rather than accepting his clear loss of the election. I could come up with a more vivid metaphor, like the Rs are throwing democracy in the ditch, pissing on it, then kicking dirt on the remains, but this is a family website.

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Pavlov’s dogs?

Take three obvious examples.

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America is Back

https://cdn.abcotvs.com/dip/images/7753715_biden-harris-2.jpg?w=1600
6abc Philadelphia

America is back. It was not the landslide victory for democracy that polls misled us once again to expect. (Just shoot me if I ever again read a poll.) But we have a decent, experienced, sane President-elect Biden, and thrillingly, we finally have a very exciting and gifted woman and a minority in Vice President-elect Harris. After having a sociopath as president for these four excruciating years, just returning to normal will be such a tremendous relief and improvement.

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Moral Irony

As a moral statement I have chosen to quit using big social media and big tech. The irony is that my tiny boycott against the bigs costs only me.

I have closed all my social media accounts in part because:

  • they spread disinformation and lies for immense profit,
  • they are purposefully addictive (the above works),
  • they are economically way too big and suppress vital competition,
  • they are politically biased (the right embraces lying and conspiracy much more than the left), and
  • they cause great anxiety.
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The GOP – Liars and Deniers

Utah is turning blue.

Most Republicans, particularly in Utah, have locked themselves inseparably to Trump. I can remember as far back as the 90’s that as a businessman I was disgusted by Trump. He made business people look bad by calling himself one. I have long been a fan of political scientist Fareed Zakaria and completely agreed with him that Trump’s sole qualification for president was that he was a bullshit artist. Now, after suffering as a patriot and American with that conman mobster as president, I believe Trump is the most despicable, immoral person, public or otherwise, that I know of. And Utah Republicans can’t get enough of him. It is costing them.

Contagious thief without a mask. He lies that the Supreme Court rushed appointment is not about politics.

In the Salt Lake Tribune today there is a long article about how many Republicans, particularly in Utah County, refuse to be tested for COVID-19 or to wear a mask. Mike Lee, who inexplicably has finagled his way to the eminent job of U.S. Senator, tested positive to COVID-19 just over a week ago and now is at the rushed hearing to pack the Supreme Court, in person, without a mask. Lee is from Utah County. I don’t know how or why not wearing a mask is allowed by the Republican Senate, particularly for an infected person, but I expect negative consequences for their gross neglect – for Republicans.

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What is the next move?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died. It is a fantastic loss to the country. The timing of her loss, of course, could be catastrophic. Evil is often fortunate.

There is no bottom for Republican senators. They will use Republican State AG’s to contest the election, appoint a radical right justice, and decide at the now corrupt Supreme Court to appoint Trump no matter what the legitimate vote count. A power hungry, racist minority will rule and democracy will be dead in the U.S.

How can we counter such a cynical ploy? Will marching in the street be enough?

Butterfly wings and change

It is obvious that one butterfly flapping its wings somewhere on the planet is not going to change the weather. Such a thing is the proverbial gnat fart in a hurricane. That is how I feel when it comes to boycotting the big tech companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google.  What is my tiny effort going to do against their immense wealth and power?

But their immense wealth and power is the problem. Amazon is choking out America’s bookstores, publishers and retailers. Yes, they make lower prices for consumers but thinkers like writer, attorney and professor at Columbia Law School Tim Wu and Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, know that there is more to the dangers of monopoly power than price. This old investment professional is worried that there are only about half as many public small-cap companies as there were twenty years ago. I am worried that Google and Facebook are almost completely choking out journalism and the democratically critical Fourth Estate. Economy like ecology like democracy requires diversity to thrive and survive. We are starting to recognize that all this free and cheap internet service like Google, Facebook and Amazon offer is actually very expensive and diminishing. Continue reading

We are serfs

Screenshot_2020-07-15 iShares Core S P Small-Cap ETF (IJR) Stock Price, Quote, History News - Yahoo Finance

This year-to-date stock index performance chart exemplifies a key aspect to the illness in our country. IXIC is the NASDAQ which is primarily influenced by the household name big tech stocks. SPY is the S&P 500. IJR is a small-cap index. Year-to-date the NASDAQ is up 17 percent, the S&P 500 is flat, and small stocks are down 17%. That is a crazy gap.

The big tech stocks in the NASDAQ, like Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft are the mega corporations that are wrecking Main Street and its mom and pop retail, that are decimating newspapers and journalism, that are publishing the Russian bots and creating the echo chambers of hate and divide that brings the U.S. to the brink of civil war. It is their massive, mountainous, tectonic market capitalizations that give to the large techs corrupt Citizens United power with assets greater than most countries and our nation’s steering wheel to the oligarchs that own most of their stock.

In my investment management career (ending with the previous century) we talked about performance gaps in basis points. A hundred basis points is one percent. A performance gap of say 80 basis points was notable. No one ever talked about six month gaps of 3,700 basis points. Such a thing never happened. (Today is a good day for small-cap stocks. It was more like 4,000 basis points yesterday.)

If this gap doesn’t close we are all serfs. Ill informed serfs. Chained to our phones, mind numb, and poor. Serfs to un-democratic corporations. Mere zombie consumers to be played.

I post this as a reminder to myself to back off of social media, to buy local, to read print and support my local newspapers. To support Torrey House Press and the power of story to change culture. And vote Democratic like our soul depends on it.

In spite of Trump, the COVID-19 curve is being flattened. And Trump will be re-elected.

Republicans will successfully frame and spin the relatively benign outcome.

Trump, who rarely speaks truth, is right when he says there are a lot of deaths every year from the flu. This season the Center of Disease Control estimates that, as of mid-March, between 29,000 and 59,000 have died due to influenza illnesses. Globally the World Health Organization estimates that the flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 people per year. In comparison, as of April 8, The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington forecasts there will be 60,000 deaths caused by (the first wave of ?) the COVID disease in the U.S. In Utah there are 13 deaths so far. Experiencing no more additional deaths than occur in a flu season will be a sort of success compared to how bad it might have been. It will be much worse than necessary, yet Democrats will fail to frame it as such. Continue reading

How Biden could be America’s best prez ever

I am hopeful and confident that Joe Biden can and will win the election this fall. I am gratified he has indicated he will choose a female vice-president. I am concerned, however, at Joe’s age. At almost 64 years old myself, I am not anti-geezer, but Joe will be 82 by a second term and that is getting just too old for the demands of the highest office in the land.

Image result for kamala harris with joe biden

How to gain the first female president.

My wife, Kirsten Johanna Allen, has a great idea that I have not otherwise heard being bantered about. Joe could guide the country through recovery of both our health and wealth for three years and then resign making, say, Kamala Harris president and putting her in place to run in the next election as the incumbent.

In this era of pandemic, with local earthquakes thrown in, the thought almost makes me optimistic. We may just save our democracy yet.