Bernie versus Hillary Redux

It’s Round Two, Keith Ellison versus Tom Perez, Bernie versus Hillary all over again.  It’s not Hillary’s team using shady tactics or Bernie’s team unable to expose the same, it’s the fact the Democrats have more members than Republicans yet they continue to lose ground on all levels of elections.

Ellison versus Perez will help determine the future Democrat Party and just like Bernie versus Hillary, how Democrats relate to the constituency is also on the precipice.

The fact that the race is considered quite close is a discouragement to those progressives who thought we were beyond such preliminaries.

Bernie versus Hillary

“The consensus among Democratic officials is that former Labor Secretary Tom Perez is the slight favorite to win election as the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Perez himself claims that he is far-and-away the front-runner — and that he is less than 50 votes away from victory.

But a POLITICO email survey of the 447 DNC voting members and follow-up interviews with close to a dozen national and state Democratic leaders finds a considerably closer race, with Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison holding a narrow advantage in a contest that seems likely to last through several rounds of balloting before determining a winner.

“Based on the constant calls from surrogates on both sides I would say that it is close,” said Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber, one of the remaining undecided state chairs. “Those two front-runners and other candidates are aggressively calling around to get votes. My sense is that almost everyone who has voted is going to have an opportunity to talk to both the two front-runners and, myself included, I think everybody really likes both of them. Most of the discussion I’ve heard is it’s really people voting for one of them but not against everybody.”

The email survey reveals what is essentially a two-candidate race in the final days before the Feb. 25 vote in Atlanta. Ellison, a Bernie Sanders supporter during the 2016 Democratic primary, holds a modest lead over Perez, with the rest of the field lagging far behind, according to the 176 DNC members who responded. After Ellison and Perez, the next largest group of respondents is undecided.

Perez’s team announced last week he had secured 180 pledged votes, just 44 votes short of the amount needed to win a majority. In response, Ellison accused his rival of trying to “exert pressure” on DNC members. But the Minnesota has not released his own vote count, making it unclear how much pledged support he can point to.

Still, Ellison boasts a long roster of prominent supporters and major labor groups, and recently added a key late endorsement from New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley, a well-known party veteran who currently leads the Association of State Democratic Chairs.

From the beginning of the race, Ellison has sought to position himself as the unity candidate and quickly picked up support from top Democrats in both the progressive and establishment-oriented wings of the party. Perez, who joined the race after it was well underway, has since won some of the most coveted endorsements in the race from former administration officials including Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

“I think Tom’s campaign — I think they’re pretty confident at the end of the day but they believed that this was always going to go to Atlanta,” said Maria Cardona, a voting member backing Perez. “Tom has done a pretty good job of cementing a topnotch campaign given the timing of when he got in but he remains very aware that this is not his for the taking and I think that’s smart of him to think that.”

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Neurotic Man Shops at Verizon

There are several things that give this Neurotic Man the willies – bowling ball holes, ready-made sandwiches, gas pumps (what is really in there?), but nothing terrifies me as much as Verizon.  I’ve been wary of the phone companies ever since I saw The President’s Analyst.

At Verizon you walk into a very clean store (a little bit of dirt never hurt anyone) with lots of space, way too much space.  And I shudder to think about the salespeople.   They smile too much.  They seem happy way too much.  Are they people or robots?  This Neurotic Man slouches and grimaces – I’m a real American so what are they?

Verizoners have all the answers while I have none.  Are we the same species?  I know very little about what they are saying and it is probably best is stays that way.

Neurotic Man

“Don’t get me wrong; in some cases, self-service is faster, easier, and generally superior to being waited on. Navigating a maze of dial-in menu options is not one of those cases. And while the Internet is packed with entire websites dedicated to tracking and aggregating people’s negative experiences with them, this one in particular seemed worth sharing. If it sounds familiar, share your own personal customer service hell in the discussion below.

So my less-than-a-year old Droid DNA bricked itself for the third time since March (well, technically its the second DNA as the first one stopped working before I got it out of the store and the other failure was with the wireless charger). Anyway, I take it into the local Verizon branch to see if they could do anything to help. The service guy tries a hard reset, then pulls out and reinserts the SIM card, then shrugs and says that’s the most they can do for troubleshooting. Really? Two methods, both of which I tried before taking it in, which combined require less than a minute to attempt, is the full extent of this phone’s serviceability. Preposterous.”

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Getting It Wrong

Once again the Democrats and the media and all those others who have been getting it wrong about Trump are scratching their heads.  They don’t understand that you can get away with it if you don’t know what you are doing and saying as long as you don’t sound like a politician.   Many Americans despise professional politicians and doublespeak and are willing to get rid of it even if all they are getting is more doublespeak.

There’s anger and mistrust out there and unless you are startling new you are part of the old.  So incompetence can reign – at least for awhile.

“In the beginning, they didn’t care for Donald Trump.

“Trump’s a buffoon,” David Searles said before casting a vote for Marco Rubio in the New Hampshire primary.

“He scares me,” Rebecca Meyer said before settling on Ben Carson in South Carolina’s primary.

“He’s not presidential,” Gail Francioli said after backing Ohio Gov. John Kasich in that state’s primary.

Yet like nearly nine out of 10 Republicans nationwide, Searles, Meyer and Francioli supported Trump in the general election. And like the vast majority of Republicans, they support him still.

In fact, these one-time-skeptics are part of the bulwark that is bolstering a President whose first month in office roiled the nation.”

Getting It Wrong

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Angry at Uber

I confess that I am angry at Uber.  It seems to me that those folks lead people on about the earnings potential at Uber. They take 25% right off the top and then another two bucks per ride.  High volume companies don’t need 25% + $2 to operate – that’s cutting their field workforce’s profit to the bone.  To give you an example – on a 20 buck ride Uber takes $5 plus $2, which is 35%.  Your car expense for a $20 ride (according to the IRS or AA) is at least 12 miles @.54 which is at $6.00 which is another 30%.  That leaves you 35% to pay for tolls and parking, any extraordinary car damage, cell phone use, food, water for your riders, the internet, and your profit. The percents are just not there no matter how hard or long you work.

Senior Management and owners have somehow found a way off the percentage they take from the drivers to get rich.  They can also, via your phone keep track of your movements even when not using Uber.  Creepy!  Or their allegiance with Trump.

So it is no surprise that they are accused of denigration based upon sex.  No surprise at all.

“The accusations from Susan Fowler, a former site reliability engineer who now works for technology company Stripe, prompted CEO Travis Kalanick to announce an “urgent investigation” on Sunday.

Fowler, who worked for Uber from November 2015 to December 2016, outlined her allegations on her blog, including claims that a manager immediately propositioned her for sex when she  joined, and that a director explained the dwindling numbers of women in her organization by saying “the women of Uber just needed to step up and be better engineers”.

“What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in,” Kalanick said in a statement provided to the Guardian. He claimed her blog was the first time he had heard of her allegations.

“We seek to make Uber a just workplace FOR EVERYONE and there can be absolutely no place for this kind of behavior at Uber – and anyone who behaves this way or thinks this is OK will be fired.”

On her first official day with her team, Fowler said her manager sent her a series of messages over the company chat, explaining that he was in an open relationship and that he was having trouble finding new partners.”

Angry at Uber

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Pulpdiddys Permutations on Sunday

For quite some time at Pulpdiddys Permutations I have had a Sunday column in which I explain why I no longer write a regular column on Sunday and instead use this explanation column and take the day off.  I’ve tweaked this Pulpdiddys Permutations column that appears on Sunday from time to time but the story remains the same – I take the day off.  I have taken to use this Sunday space so that it is a little bit about me and a lot about what I am trying to do with the blog.  It has become apparent to me that the roots for the blog come from three things.  First of all, I love to write.  I enjoy the process and especially how attempting to communicate with others forces my thought process to focus in a way that not having the writing would not cause.  Secondly, I have been fascinated with how we interact with each other from an early age.  My political and social precociousness led me to turn away from the almost brutal focus on scholasticism and athleticism that dominated my early years.  In my case, this break was a good thing as it expanded my interest in understanding my empathy.  And last of all I realized I had developed a way of looking at the world that focused on want. When I explained this to others I found they often shared my thoughts but that for the most part they did not desire to consciously understand or express the theme of want, or if they did, found they had shuttled it off to the recesses of their mind – a way of living that contained the shuttling as an inconvenient truth*.

The inconvenient truth is that we drown in want.  The want may be the search of fame or sex or health or power or toys but these wants ultimately have the same catalyst and that catalyst is money.  Some theorists and analysts think we only see that want in our dreams and that dreams are healthy.  The problem is that this want invades our day to days and we make decisions based on that want that often has far reaching and sometimes tragic consequences.  The want may be quite basic such as the quest to survive or quite advanced like controlling politicians or having a lobbyist team to market your ideas of law.  The thing about want is we largely are embarrassed about it, especially if the want becomes public and obvious and though at times we may expose our want it is often done in a non serious game show sort of way.  The other thing about want, especially in the most unconscious of us, is that we trample our fellow human beings in an attempt to achieve whatever it is that is our want.

I have found that magazines, blogs, and newspapers don’t understand want but instead focus on an agenda even if that agenda is to work hard in not appearing to have one.  Somehow the media has failed to see that in reality their own agendas are full of fiction and as such, are as much want as that of anyone else.  As for these agendas, most are political in nature.  The problem with an agenda is that it blinds you to certain realities – at least for a while.  So a journalist at the Washington Post 50 years down the road realizes the paper missed the mark by ignoring Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech when it was delivered, instead focusing on crowd control that day.  Or journalists at the New York Times realizing that they were too enthusiastic in support of the Vietnam War.  Or ditto for the enthusiasm of both papers when the misdirected terrorist war known as the Iraq War took place.  Of course this is an over-simplification and I mention it only as an illustration.

As I do my research for what to write at Pulpdiddys Permutations I think about the want that each of us has – the want we may not know exists.  Hopefully I can glean enough of the want to make an intelligent observation.  While personally I remain far more liberal then not regarding economic, political, and social issues I bring up the question of want in my analysis of issues and how the issue will affect all, most, or some of us.  So when President Obama does something that I find wrong I am not loathe to mention that wrongness at this site.  When Senator John McCain takes a position that I found courageous I find no problem in expressing praise for that position.  When Paul Krugman takes on an economic or social position that I find a bit silly I will also comment so.

Love of writing, looking at the world with empathy, and focus on want are the triumvirate that has brought about Pulpdiddys Permutations.  Though I believe I am eventually found out to be correct more often then not and certainly more so than any pundit I know that’s out there, I certainly am not infallible.  But I give you my pledge that I’ll continue to do the research, continue to consider the matter using the frame of reference of want in the material posted by me at this site, and correct myself when my opinion eventually is shown to just be wrong.  And if you’d like some lighter reading there’s always my e-book:

*I apologize to Al Gore, for using your title as a phrase.  It just fits.  And in this context, Mr. Gore, you are also a good example of an inconvenient truth.

Pulpdiddys Permutations


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Trump Opposition

It seems to me that the existing Trump opposition will stay the same: the vast majority of the Democrats, immigrant groups, and the majority of millenials will not become fans of Trump’s vulgarisms or idiocies. The only hope in the Trump opposition in terms of growth or potentially affecting all other groups is the Republicans.  While the Party has been ineffectual in Trump opposition, it is also the group that stands the most to lose in the case of a Trump backlash.  While these are the people who sucked up to G,W. until it was no longer expedient to do so, judging their morality or guts is a sure loser.  But if enough of them find their way it is just possible the rogue President will no longer be so.

Trump Opposition

“The Republican Senator broke with the reassuring message that US officials visiting Germany have sought to convey on their debut trip to Europe, telling a Munich security conference the resignation of the new president’s security adviser, Michael Flynn, over his contacts with Russia reflected deep problems in Washington.

“I think that the Flynn issue obviously is something that shows that in many respects this administration is in disarray and they’ve got a lot of work to do,” said McCain, a known Trump critic, even as he praised Trump’s defence secretary. “The president, I think, makes statements [and] on other occasions contradicts himself. So we’ve learned to watch what the president does as opposed to what he says,” he said.

Without mentioning the president’s name, McCain lamented a shift in the US and Europe away from the “universal values” that forged the Nato alliance seven decades ago. McCain also said the alliance’s founders would be “alarmed by the growing inability, and even unwillingness, to separate truth from lies.”

The chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said “more and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticising it as our moral equivalent”. The senator also regretted the “hardening resentment we see toward immigrants, and refugees, and minority groups, especially Muslims”.

European governments have been unsettled by the signals sent by Trump on a range of foreign policy issues ranging from Nato and Russia to Iran, Israel and European integration.”

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Most Stupid Thing I Ever Heard

Huffington Post, a beacon on the left, became less and less so until with its current editor more garbage is heard, so that the editor and its magazine has now voiced the Most Stupid Thing I Ever Heard.  The new Huffington Post will try to demonstrate that those concerns of the right are similar to many concerns on the left.  Kumbaya.  This is the Most Stupid Thing I Ever Heard, perhaps inspired by the Clinton Camp’s attempt to attract Trump supporters.  Sorry, those who support a vulgar President will not suddenly refine nor become left-wing magazine groupies.

What such a plan creates is lack of focus with non-acceptance on both the left and right.  I repeat it is the Most Stupid Thing I Ever Heard.

Most Stupid Thing

“Polgreen wants the site to “become a voice for people who feel that the fundamental political and economic power arrangements are unfair.” That, she says, “includes a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump.”

This reorientation will involve new hires and some restructuring.

Polgreen is just getting started — she became editor one month ago, taking over for Arianna Huffington, who co-founded the site in 2005 and was its top editor until last September.

Polgreen knows there’s curiosity and some trepidation about what HuffPost will be now that its namesake is no longer in charge.

“This is definitely not going to be the PolgreenPost,” she says.

In an interview with CNNMoney, her first about the future of the site, Polgreen passionately described opportunities to cover the Trump age.

Trump’s election “wasn’t the only thing, but it was the last deciding push that led me to walk away from a nearly 15-year career at The New York Times, and kind of jump into a whole new world,” she said. “I feel a sense of mission and conviction about rushing forward to meet this moment.”


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Neurotic Man Becomes a Fact-Checker

This Neurotic Man has come to the conclusion that the most up and rising field is that of a fact-checker.  Not only are most officials, politicians, and business leaders making up facts but so are most of the fact-checkers.  It might even be a full-time job fact-checking the fact-checkers!  Not to be too derisive over the present Administration but they tell do many fairy-tales they might need someone to keep these stories straight.  Kind of an indexer of all the stories.  If I could land that I’d be too busy to look or work for other clients.

Since when did fact-checking become such a big thing anyway?  If the President lied you went about your business, giving a do-over because the un-truth would be a rarity.  That’s one thing about the Donald; he has made it a way of life.  A whole new industry!

Neurotic Man

“In the frantic battle against falsehoods produced by enterprising Macedonian teenagers, crackpot conspiracy theorists and, with alarming regularity, the White House, the weapon of choice has been facts, and with it the venerated practice of fact-checking.

As the Guardian’s Martin Belam argued last week, journalism has to get better at spreading facts; at making its case and showing people what it is really going on.

But it is increasingly clear that every attempt to do so will face countermeasures from those who don’t like the facts or the way they are presented.

On Monday, left-leaning US non-profit Media Matters put out a warning to European fact checkers that conservative outlets would attempt to discredit them with attacks on their independence, impartiality and the backgrounds of their staffers. It cited articles from the likes of Breitbart, Fox and the Daily Caller attacking fact-checkers in both the US and Germany.

It’s a warning that should be heeded. Just as the the US president, Donald Trump, calls news organisations and reporters he doesn’t like “fake news”, so outlets with a reckless approach to the truth will hit back by attacking the fact checker, not the fact.”

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Universal Basic Income

There are things I like that Elon Musk proposes and others that I do not but Universal Basic Income is one of the good things.  This wonderful and bountiful planet has the capacity to take care of all her children.  It is silly that a little bit of sperm causes someone to have so much leading to an inequity of the planet’s resources.

As slave like labor disappears as machinery can do jobs more efficiently (and cheaper) guaranteeing a universal basic income is in our best interest.  And really is much closer to Christian or Jewish theology than anything proposed over the ages.

There just aren’t enough jobs.  There are kinks, of course, but I’d rather work out the kinks of sharing than arguing over Trump or his Cabinet.

Universal Basic Income

“In an interview with CNBC in November, Tesla CEO Elon Musk joined a growing list of tech executives who support universal basic income as a possible solution to the widespread unemployment that automation will likely cause.

Universal basic income is a system in which all citizens receive a standard amount of money each month to cover basic expenses like food, rent, and clothes.

On Monday, Musk doubled down on his initial support for the concept.

“I think we’ll end up doing universal basic income,” Musk told the crowd at the World Government Summit in Dubai, according to Fast Company. “It’s going to be necessary.”

The economic forecasts for the next several decades don’t bode well for the American worker. In March, President Barack Obama warned Congress about the looming threat of job loss, based on several reports that found that as much as 50% of jobs could be replaced by robots by 2030.

The downside of that projection is that millions of people would wind up out of a job — a possibility Musk discussed at the summit.

“There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better,” he said. “I want to be clear. These are not things I wish will happen; these are things I think probably will happen.”

Executives who have endorsed UBI — a group that includes Y Combinator President Sam Altman and Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes — also say automation would dramatically increase a society’s wealth.

“With automation, there will come abundance,” Musk said. “Almost everything will get very cheap.”

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Cruel, Hard, Place

When did America become such a cruel, hard, place?  Sure, since the beginning we took in immigrants and used them where our dainty hands wouldn’t go – the railroads and mines and sweatshops.  The immigrants earned the right to be here, they were tasked a problem and threw their bodies in harm’s way.  And harmed they were.  Over and over. Not only our roads but our trains and our houses were the result.  They often live in our poorest neighborhoods and hope through their labor they can get out.  They regularly died in our sweatshops and toiled endlessly in our fields. And they added to the melting pot in this cruel, hard, place with their labor and ingenuity and their optimism. They wanted to be here.

Cruel, Hard, Place

It’s one of the secrets of this cruel, hard, place – they were ignored by so many other lands while we advertised that we believed in accepting all – for whatever they can do to help us.

That’s how you make a country great – no, not by cruelly using our immigrants but by having the immigrants want to contribute.

Cruel, Hard, Place

“But on the whole, the refugee program is a huge net plus, for everyone. The overwhelming majority of refugees have been through significant hardship. They’re grateful, civic-minded and anxious to contribute. Doctors, dentists, linguists and engineers come in willing to scrub pots and clean motel rooms.

It’s a win-win. Employers, specifically small-business owners, tend to get personally invested in the project of helping a family in need. And they usually get a skilled and diligent worker who is urgently motivated to succeed and give back. The program is, exactly and down to the very last detail, the ideal of what our country is supposed to stand for. It’s tragic that we’re raising a generation of people who don’t understand that.”

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