Thursday, August 25, 2016

Utah Is A State Filled With Progressives-- They Just Don't Know It


PPP polled Utah and found Mr. Trumpanzee to be extremely unpopular but still viewed as the lesser of two evils by a plurality of Utahans. 61% of the voters have a neative impression of him; pretty devastating-- except that 72% have a negative impression of Hillary. If the election were held today Trump would win the state's 4 electoral votes with 39% to Hillary's 24%, Gary Johnson's 12%, Evan McMullin's 9% and Jill Stein's 1%.

The DSCC, led by the virulently anti-trans assholes Chuck Schumer and Jon Tester, has refused to even acknowledge that Misty Snow, a progressive woman who won the state's Democratic nomination against a typical conservative Democrat they were pushing. Mike Lee is beating her in the Senate general election 51-21%. If you want to help her get her name ID up, please consider contributing to her campaign here.

But what interested me about the Utah poll wasn't the horse race in either contest-- I expected nothing different-- but the attitudes expressed by Utah's severely brainwashed partisan voters, who, apparently, are only superficially brainwashed or, perhaps, in a conflicted state about their brainwashing. Tom Jensen of PPP makes several points about how the respondents are looking at the salient issues around 2016 politics:
Utah might be one of the most conservative states in the country, but we still find that voters there side with Democrats on a variety of key issues:

81% of voters in the state support background checks on all gun purchases, to only 13% who oppose them. That includes support from 90% of Democrats, 79% of independents, and 78% of Republicans.

78% of voters in the state support barring those on the Terror Watch List from buying guns, to only 12% who are opposed to that. There's support from 84% of Democrats, 78% of Republicans, and 73% of independents for closing the terror gap.

65% of voters in the state think the Senate should move forward with hearings on Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, to only 16% who are opposed to them. 87% of Democrats, 67% of independents, and 57% of Republicans support hearings for Garland.

65% of voters in the state think there should be an independent commission for redistricting, to only 15% who think legislators should draw their own district lines. 78% of independents, 73% of Democrats, and 55% of Republicans support independent redistricting.

64% of voters in the state support legalizing medical marijuana, to only 24% opposed to it. That includes support from 86% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and 53% of Republicans.

61% of voters in the state support increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, including 86% of Democrats, 61% of independents, and 52% of Republicans.

52% of voters in the state support expanding Medicaid, to only 27% opposed to it. Support from Democrats (90/5) and independents (56/30) for Medicaid. Expansion is pretty overwhelming and even Republicans (37/34) narrowly support it.

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Why Are There Blue America Billboards Up All Over Polk County?


The Blue America billboard up top went up on Tuesday on U.S. Highway 27 in Polk County, in Haines City to be more specific. We put a few different boards up on Winter Haven, Lake Wales, and Davenport. It wasn't something we were planning. In fact, our plan for FL-09 was to hold our collective breath and hope one of two excellent progressives, Dena Grayson and Susannah Randolph, would beat Florida's biggest NRA shill, conservative state Senator Darren Soto. Then Soto was endorsed by the New Dems. As of the August 10 FEC reporting deadline he had raised the most of anyone in the race-- $733,132-- and spent the most-- $676,176. But the two progressives, Susannah and Dena were competitive, with, respectively $693,663 and $535,036 raised. The only outside spending I detected was from a shadowy group called True Blue Florida that, I believe, is associated with Susannah and that spent $55,948 smearing Soto. There's no record of who put up the money.

My fear all along was that Susannah and Dena would split the progressive vote and Soto would win up winning the race. I was hoping one of them would put to the new district next door and challenge a right-wing fossil, John Mica, who could get swept away in an anti-Trump tsunami. Instead, the DCCC invented some candidate and inserted her into the Mica race. But then two things happened. Dena started consistently pulling ahead in polling so that it appears she would have the best chance to beat Soto. And then Holly Fussell, a friend of Susannah's had a pretty horrifying experience. I first heard about it from Lucy Flores, the Nevada Berniecrat. Yesterday I asked Holly and she sent me this and told me to share it with DWT readers.
The Hardest Part of Being a Working Woman
-by Holly Fussell

I’ve heard that the hardest part of being a working woman today is choosing between success in your career or your family. I don’t have kids-- but I’m still pretty sure that even if I did, this wouldn’t be true for me. The hardest part for me, being a working woman, is having to choose between success in my career and reporting sexual harassment and sexual assault.

During my time working with Susannah Randolph, candidate for Congress in FL-09, she told me that my many complaints of sexual harassment weren’t valid-- that they should be excused because the man had been drinking. After witnessing this same man threaten my career because I refused his advances, Susannah promoted him, and once again, encouraged me to forgive and forget because he had been drinking.

I recognize now that I should have told someone else I worked with-- but at that time, Susannah was the most senior female staffer, and she had also been my longtime friend and mentor. I trusted her judgment. I convinced myself that she was just looking out for my best interests. But she wasn’t. When this same man suggested that I increase our online fundraising numbers by sending a picture of my breasts to our email list, Susannah laughed right along with him.

After over a year of sexually harassing me without consequence, he raped me. I didn’t have the courage to report it at the time. I was terrified it would ruin my career, and doubted I would get any kind of justice anyway. I struggled to accept that this horrible thing had happened to me, and felt that I had nobody to go to who could give me advice, since the one woman I had always gone to for career advice had ignored my complaints.

I don’t blame Susannah for my sexual assault-- not in the slightest. That is the sole fault of the rapist himself. But I remain deeply disturbed that she ignored my very serious complaints for so long, and that she would promote a man she had witnessed sexually harass me. Perhaps even worse, although she knows I accused this man of rape, she continues to maintain a relationship with him (he was fired when I eventually told another supervisor about the situation, so I no longer have to work with him). You can find him on her campaign’s current FEC report over a dozen times.

It took me a long time to work up the courage to tell this story. I hoped that my post earlier this week, which didn’t include the graphic details, would be enough. But since posting that, I have received a number of complaints, mostly from progressive female activists, disgustingly enough, denying that these awful things happened to me, complaining of the timing of my post, and criticizing me for using Facebook to share my concerns.

But you know what? I tried to use different mediums, many different times over the past few years, and none of them have worked. I tried for so long to work this issue out privately. But that is no longer an option. I cannot sit by silently and watch Susannah Randolph be placed in a position of power, where she can continue to deny her employees’ accusations of sexual harassment, especially considering her continued relationship with my rapist. I can’t have that on my conscience.

I am not working for any of the candidates running against her, nor have I worked for any of their campaigns. Sharing my story has already cost me many of the people I believed were my friends, as well as my relationships with several progressive organizations that I’ve worked so hard to build. For the rest of my life now, when I apply for a job, people will know that I have complained of sexual harassment, and while that shouldn’t make me less employable, realistically, we all know it will hurt my future career prospects. But if I can stop her from doing this again, if I can stop this from happening to another girl, it will have all been worth it.

I’m not encouraging you to vote for anyone in particular. I’m simply encouraging to consider my story before you vote for Susannah.
I think that story getting around is horrifying and also liable to make it even more difficult for Susannah to beat Soto, which is my main concern for this primary. So we put this billboard up too. This one is on the I-4 west of exit 55 in Davenport.

Rather than ask you to contribute to the Blue America PAC's independent expenditure committee that pays for these kinds of things, I want to ask you to make a contribution to Dena Grayson's campaign instead. You can do that by tapping on the thermometer below:
Goal Thermometer

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Why Is Maddow In The Bag For #DebtTrapDebbie Wasserman Schultz?


A few months ago, a radio interviewer asked me why I wasn't calling out Rachel Maddows' biased anti-Bernie reporting. I said I didn't think Maddow was biased, just being a fair and balanced reporter. The interviewer laughed (at me) and sent me some video clips to watch. She was right and I was wrong. Rachel came off as a turd, slanting her reporting against Bernie and in favor of Hillary. It didn't take much longer before I stopped watching her show altogether, breaking a habit of many years. After the convention, I gradually started watching again, although I still accept dinner dates during her time slot without a second thought, something I would have never done last year. Yesterday I did watch her show and, because I know far more about the race between Wasserman Schultz and Tim Canova than she-- or the dullard NY Times reporter she hauled on as her "expert"-- will ever know, I was sensitive to the subtle and less-than-subtle ways she slanted the show against her old enemy (Bernie) and against Tim's campaign.

Maddow's production team asked Tim if he'd do her show and he said yes. But she apparently changed her mind and used some very selective bits from the Young Turks video above. And she eagerly, gleefully, said that the latest poll showed Wasserman Schultz "beating him by double digits." Technically, that's true but it's reason for Wasserman Schultz to be crapping her pants and for Canova to be doubling-down. The poll has a 5 point margin of error and the score was 50 to 40 with Tim leading gigantically among voters 34 and under, equivalent to Wasserman Schultz's biggest group, voters over 75. Many voters over 75 are trying to not go out of their homes in fear of zika-carrying mosquitos.

Goal Thermometer As for Bernie not helping Canova, I thought it odd when Maddow crowed about that in her annoying way, since I had just spoken with Tim a few hours earlier and he was telling me how wonderful it was that Bernie's latest letter for him had generated 300,000 much-needed dollars for the campaign's Get Out The Vote effort. Tim was still hoping that Bernie-- who is more popular than ever in south Florida-- would have the time to come to the district and campaign for him, the way a whole litany of corrupt corporate Dems from Hillary and Obama to Pelosi and Biden and rushed to the district to try to bolster a member of Congress who gives the Democratic Party such a terrible name and makes the party an object of scorn among people who aren't over 75. Early voting in going on right now and election day is Tuesday, August 30. There are no more important House races in the country. It says a lot that Rachel Maddow-- who promotes herself as "the smartest person on TV" or something equally laughable-- seems too be trying to put her thumb on the scale for Wasserman Schultz and likely doesn't even have an understanding of why the Canova challenge is important to the Democratic Party, the south Florida and to the U.S.A.

Yesterday, Michael at alerted me to an open letter to Rachel that he had written in late May.

You’ve been in my living room for years. Pretty much from the beginning. You know, post Keith Olbermann. I was even a fan of you before that, on Air America.

I’ve always understood that you have an agenda, a bias. It never bothered me. It was usually congruent with mine. You’ve always been pretty transparent about it, so I’ve always been able to factor it in and filter it all with that in mind.

I have long appreciated that you report on issues and stories that no other network would or could. I’ve enjoyed the humor and aplomb of your approach. I love that you broke the Flint Michigan story and the various bullshit that’s occurred regarding voting, civil and gender rights. I adore how brave and salient your priorities have been.

Thank you.

But lately you’ve been pissing me off.  Your coverage and commentary on the Sanders campaign in general and the recent events at the Nevada convention in particular are clumsy, irresponsible and embarrassing. It was lazy and intellectually disingenuous. You simply didn’t report the facts. What you did broadcast was sloppy conjecture. You interviewed the chair of the the Nevada DNC, Roberta Lange, the woman at the center of the controversy, and let her tell lie after lie after lie.

It was a smear.

Why didn’t you give equal time to someone like Erin Billbray, a Nevada super delegate, who could have given an accurate accounting of events and eyewitness testimony? If Thom Hartmann was able to get this “get” why weren’t you?  Why didn’t you invite Nina Turner?  What the fuck Rachel?

Why do you continue to repeat lies about chairs thrown, violence and people needing medical attention even on Friday’s broadcast? These are lies Rachel Maddow. I know that you know they are lies and I am disgusted.

There was no violence. There were no chairs thrown. A thousand cell phone cameras and nothing to support the crap you continued to report. The alleged threats to Lange are completely unsubstantiated.  No proof, no evidence, no forensic investigations of the recordings. Jon Ralston finally admitted he wasn’t even there and you based most of your bullshit on his reporting.

When it comes to the Sanders campaign, you’re no different than FOX News and every other entity out there. He is the best candidate to run for president in my lifetime and you all lie so egregiously as to not consider the well being of the people you broadcast to but rather to serve a more insidious itinerary of corporate dominance and political mendacity.

I am profoundly disappointed. You violated my trust. The MSNBC network is bad enough with Chris Matthews’ obvious conflict of interest, but you are clearly in the tank for a candidate that I cannot support. I would be a fool to expect honesty and integrity from you in light of this. I will continue to rely on sources that cannot be corrupted by corporations because they have inoculated themselves by refusing to take their money.

After all, isn’t that the entire point of Bernie’s campaign? The influence of corporations and their money in our society and our political system? The point that you, your network, and every other media outlet exert transparent strain to ignore?

You are complicit and I am offended.

Shame on you.

Drinks for my friends.
A couple of weeks ago Tim was finally able to corner Wasserman Schultz into debating. She did her best to hide it-- insisting on an 8am debate and not even mentioning it on her website. Today, a video of the debate isn't available on her website, primarily because no one can watch it without seeing how unqualified she is to represent a Broward/Miami-Dade district in Congress and how out-classed she was by Canova. The debate is featured prominently on Canova's YouTube video channel, Judge for yourself-- and if you like what you hear, please consider contributing to his last minute GOTV efforts by tapping the thermometer above Michael's letter on the right.

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TPP, the Democratic Party, and Obama's Presidential Library


by Gaius Publius

[W]e were told by a high up staffer who works for Joe Biden that Obama did it [endorsed Patrick Murphy] to get contributions to his uber-expensive presidential library, ostensibly from Murphy's rich, crooked father, from the super-wealthy Saudi family that sponsors Murphy (the notorious Al-Rashids) and from Schumer's Wall Street patrons. (source)

There's always a question about who politicians are primarily working for. Are they working mainly for the country and its people, for their political party and its access to power, or for their own personal fortunes? In the case of Obama and his headlong rush to pass the billioinaire-written TPP, I think we have a perfect petri dish for isolating the answer, at least in this one case.

Again, the questions are:
  • Does Obama want to pass TPP so badly because Americans need it?
  • Does he want to pass TPP because his party needs it?
  • Or because he needs it personally?
Obviously, the answer could be Yes to all three. In the case of the TPP, however, we're going to find two No answers, leaving just one candidate. I'm going to keep this as brief as I can. It's really not a hard question to answer.

Does the Country Need TPP?

No. It's been documented here and a great many other places that the country not only doesn't need TPP to pass, it desperately needs it not to pass. It really will be a NAFTA-style job killer, as well as a killer of national sovereignty (see also here). If you doubt me, check the links, or read anything from Public Citizens' Eyes on Trade pages.

Does the Democratic Party Need TPP?

Again, no. In fact, the Democratic Party also needs TPP not to pass. As Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, wrote recently in The Hill (my emphasis):
Obama's TPP campaign could drag down Democrats

How much is President Obama willing to harm the Democratic Party in order to win approval for the deeply unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) "trade" agreement? We may soon find out.

On Tuesday, Politico broke the story that the White House will be "making an all-out push to win passage of the deal in the lame duck session of Congress, organizing 30 events over the congressional recess." The effort will be designed to put pressure not only on Democratic members of Congress, but also on swing Republican votes, by lobbying important business interests in their districts.

Trump is far behind Clinton in the polls, and it seems unlikely that Obama would have launched a public campaign of this magnitude for the TPP in the heat of an election season if the race were looking like a serious contest. But there is more at stake: millions of potential Republican voters will stay home in November if Trump is losing by a wide margin. Many others will stay home simply because they don't like him.
And yet...
[M]any of these disaffected voters could be rallied to the polls if they think that Clinton, and her party, are going to bring them another failed "trade" agreement. (On the other side, some potential Democratic voters could abstain or switch sides for the same reasons). All this could make the difference between the Democrats taking the Senate, and in a big enough landslide, even the House of Representatives.
After looking at how close the Fast Track vote was, Weisbrot makes a striking point — to pass TPP, Obama will need the help of politicians in both parties who lost their jobs in the 2016 election, not those who won — politicians who can, in effect, trash their political futures and that of their party for lucrative personal next-jobs as lobbyists:
So [TPP] is looking like a very close vote. (For procedural and political reasons, Obama will not bring it to a vote unless he is sure he has the necessary votes). Now let's look at one special group of Representatives who can swing this vote: the actual lame-ducks, i.e., those who will be in office only until Jan. 3. It depends partly on how many lose their election on Nov. 8, but the average number of representatives who left after the last three elections was about 80.

Most of these people will be looking for a job, preferably one that can pay them more than $1 million a year. From the data provided by, we can estimate that about a quarter of these people will become lobbyists. (An additional number will work for firms that are clients of lobbyists).

So there you have it: It is all about corruption, and this is about as unadulterated as corruption gets in our hallowed democracy, other than literal cash under a literal table. These are the people whom Obama needs to pass this agreement, and the window between Nov. 9 and Jan. 3 is the only time that they are available to sell their votes to future employers without any personal political consequences whatsoever. The only time that the electorate can be rendered so completely irrelevant, if Obama can pull this off.
But note, it's not just the electorate that will be "rendered completely irrelevant" — the fortunes of both political parties will be damaged as well. Including Obama's Democratic Party. Were Donald Trump to develop a surprisingly competent campaign, the push for TPP could lose the White House for Democrats, and with it, the Senate.

Obama is asking the Democratic Party to take a huge risk. Even if they win the White House in 2016, 2018 could shape up as brutal for them. Pushing for, and passing, TPP will spark another Sanders-like backlash, in both parties.

So Why Does Obama Need TPP?

For the final question, Weisbrot hints at the answer:
Why is Obama willing to risk so much to get the TPP passed this year? Many press reports insist that it is because he wants it for his legacy. It is strange to think that he would want such an unpopular agreement for his legacy. There are less flattering reasons that seem much more plausible.
I'll do a little more than hint. The Obama Library (and any future foundation he may launch with other people's money) is his ticket to the next phase of his life. Not his party's life; just his own and his family's. As Howie Klein wrote in the quote at the top of this piece:
[W]e were told by a high up staffer who works for Joe Biden that Obama did it [endorsed Patrick Murphy] to get contributions to his uber-expensive presidential library, ostensibly from Murphy's rich, crooked father, from the super-wealthy Saudi family that sponsors Murphy (the notorious Al-Rashids) and from Schumer's Wall Street patrons
TPP offers a much larger payday than endorsing Patrick Murphy, a mere senator. TPP is wanted by nearly every American industry with money, from Wall Street to Big Pharma to Silicon Valley to Hollywood and every stop in between. As Weisbrot said above about the Congress people Obama is targeting:
It is all about corruption, and this is about as unadulterated as corruption gets in our hallowed democracy, other than literal cash under a literal table.
As Weisbrot hints (and I'm willing to say), that statement is also true about Obama. The Big Money people who want Congress to pass TPP also want Obama to make it pass, even if he sacrifices his own party's future to do it, and they're clearly willing to pay to "make it so." (After all, what's the point of having too much money if you can't buy things with it.) Obama's obviously on board; his recent actions scream how eager he is. To see if I'm right, watch his presidential library list of donors, if he releases it.

Money doesn't talk, it swears. Though maybe its song is sweeter when Democrats listen.


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Why Do We Pay The Highest Prices For Drugs In The World?


And why is Bernie blocking Obama's nominee for FDA head? Obama's done a lot of good things as president and there's a tendency for progressives to be favorable towards him. But it behooves us to remember he's a politician-- from Chicago-- and that he's done a lot of bad things as well and to be wary of what he's up to now. Bernie's 100% right to block Obama's FDA nominee-- and 100% is more than 99%.

This morning in a letter to his supporters, southwest Michigan congressional candidate Paul Clements, a progressive who supported Bernie in the primary, asked "What does a 10% cost increase mean to you? For many seniors a 10% increase in the cost of medication can mean the difference between this medicine or that one, between taking the whole pill, or half. Or it can mean the difference between food and medicine. Right now our laws put corporate profit above seniors' needs. A new independent analysis published yesterday says the cost of hundreds of medications in the Medicare Part D program rose by 10% since 2014. Even more, the cost of simply enrolling in Part D rose 13% over last year alone. We need to let the government negotiate drug prices. In Congress I will be a leading proponent for it, and Congressman Upton has led efforts banning such negotiations. That's why I'm running, because simple, practical changes to our laws can make life changing differences to millions of Americans." (You can support Clements' bid to defeat anti-health care reactionary Fred Upton here. His opponent, Fred Upton, is among the biggest bribe takers from Mylan and Big Pharma in general, and makes sure their agenda sails through his committee and through Congress.)

A few days ago, Lee Rogers broke the story about how Joe Manchin's greed-driven, avaricious daughter-- who, like her father, has a clear record of being a cheat and a lowlife-- right here at DWT. Yesterday Lee reminded me that aside from the Manchin daughter giving herself a 671% pay increase to celebrate all the people who would die when she raised the price of EpiPen-- from $2,453,456 nine years ago to $18,931,068 today-- she also illegally used inside information to trade over 100,000 shares in early August, anticipating her company's stock collapsing when news broke about Mylan's plan to murder their customers. The average price she got was around $50/share, bringing the greedy little monster $5,010,000.00, leaving her with another 828,318 shares valued at $41,415,900.00. The share price has been crashing ever since Rogers wrote his piece about how she raised the price of EpiPen to $635. (from $57).

And this is how the stock was performing as I was writing this post:

Were the Manchin daughter to sell her 100,200 shares at $43 instead of the $50 she sold it at when only she knew what was about to happen, she would have netted $4,308,600, nearly a million dollars less than she was able to bank. I have a vague recollection from my days working inside corporate America that insider trading is highly illegal and that all senior level executives are warned about the dangers, but from what I've been able to discern, she hasn't been fired or arrested yet-- or even questioned.

The Manchin daughter is a former lobbyist for the company and when she took over as CEO, the amount Mylan spent on lobbying soared astronomically. She contributes to political campaigns-- a legalistic term for bribery-- through the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, which spent $175,448 bribing members of Congress last cycle. The crooked Members who took the biggest bribes in 2014 were notoriously corrupt Republicans Mitch McConnell (KY), Joe Pitts (PA), Fred Upton (MI) and Lamar Alexander (TN) and so far this cycle Manchin's daughter has made sure the crooked members who got greased we're Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tim Scott (R-SC), hometown boy David McKinley (R-WV), Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Fred Upton (MI) again... and she made sure Pelosi's corrupt DCCC chairman Ben Ray Lujan got a taste as well. And what did she want for her bribes? Mylan successfully pushed through legislation to encourage use of the EpiPen in schools nationwide, as well as about $4 million in lobbying for the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act.

Michael Hiltzik pointed out for L.A. Times readers that little Heather, Manchin's horrid daughter, has condoned a tax-dodging scheme for her company as well, as had Rogers when he first broke the story on Monday. "[T]here’s another reason," wrote Hiltzik, "to detest this remarkably amoral corporation: It’s also a tax dodger. Mylan is one of the leading exploiters of the technique known as inversion, in which a U.S. company cuts its tax bill by acquiring a foreign firm and moving its tax domicile to the acquired company’s homeland." Heather's not making America great again.
Mylan’s 2014 deal involved its buying a generics manufacturer from Abbott Laboratories and reincorporating in the Netherlands, the subsidiary’s home. As in all inversions, nothing else changed: Mylan’s operational headquarters remained in Pennsylvania, and its main workforce didn’t relocate. At one point, Mylan even appealed to U.S. antitrust officials to help it block a takeover bid from an Israeli company. But the deal did allow the firm to cut its U.S. tax bill.

President Obama has labeled inversions “unpatriotic” and “one of the most insidious loopholes out there.” The Treasury Department has tightened tax rules several times to discourage them, and public disapproval has spiked a deal here and there.

Mylan’s inversion helped give this variety of loophole its noxious reputation, in part because defense of its deal was so transparently self-serving. Its CEO, Heather Bresch, daughter of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), wrung her hands over the anguish she suffered in deciding to skip out on the company’s obligations as a U.S. corporation. She told the New York Times, “You can’t maintain competitiveness by staying at a competitive disadvantage. I mean you just can’t.” Credulously, the Times regurgitated that she made the decision “reluctantly, and she genuinely seems to mean it.”

Should Mylan be believed? Let’s judge it by its marketing of the EpiPen. The spring-loaded syringe-like device is designed to deliver a measured dose of epinephrine, which instantly reverses the swelling, breathing problems and other manifestations of severe reactions to peanuts, bee stings and other allergens. The pens come in two-packs in order to provide a second dose if needed. Families with allergy-prone kids have to lay in a supply of several packs, say for home and school, and replace them once a year when they expire.

Since acquiring rights to the product in 2007 when a two-pack sold for about $100, Mylan has relentlessly raised its price, to more than $600 now. That can place the product out of reach of families whose insurance doesn’t fully cover the cost, forcing them to use expired pens or resort to hand-injections, which can be dangerous.

The price increase isn’t driven by Mylan’s costs. The manufacturing cost is essentially pennies per device, and the active ingredient, epinephrine, is a generic drug that has been in use for decades, so the company isn’t working down any research and development costs. Instead, it’s simply profiteering from market dynamics: Its main competitor, a product made by Sanofi, was taken off the market last year because of manufacturing defects. Another potential rival, from the generics company Teva, hasn’t yet won approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Mylan’s price-gouging has enraged patients and doctors and created whitecaps on Capitol Hill. On Monday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), ranking member of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into the matter. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, also has questioned the increases.

“There does not appear to be any justification for the continual price increases of EpiPen,” Klobuchar wrote the FTC. “Manufacturing costs for the product have been stable and Mylan does not need to recover the product’s research and development costs... Not only is this alarming price increase unjustified, it puts life-saving treatment out of reach to the consumers who need it most.”

Mylan rationalizes the EpiPen’s price as the fair cost of “a life-saving drug,” as Bresch told Wall Street analysts this month. Under the circumstances, she said, “I think that you can see it falls as not an expensive product.” She did acknowledge, however, that “as employers shift more cost to employees and make that everything has got to come out of pocket before you hit your deductible... you’re seeing a lot of noise around EpiPen.”

A lot of profit too. Mylan recorded $847 million in net income last year on sales of $9.4 billion. The EpiPen was a significant contributor, with sales of $1 billion.

The company has tried to have it both ways in relation to its inversion deal. Let’s examine Bresch’s assertion that the company found it just impossible to “maintain competitiveness” under U.S. tax rules. At a 2015 forum sponsored by Fortune Magazine, she griped that “there is an unlevel playing field in our country. We really penalize U.S.-based companies.”

Is that so? As we pointed out at the time of its inversion, over the previous two years, its sales had increased 12.7% and profits 16%; among its big competitors paying putatively lower taxes, British-based GlaxoSmithKline had gained only 3.14% in sales and 11.23% in profits. Israel-based Teva’s sales had risen 11%, and its profits declined 54%. Israel’s top corporate tax rate is 26.5%, the equivalent top U.S. federal rate is 35%.

But Mylan didn’t pay that top rate, of course. Almost no U.S. corporation does; CEOs use the statutory rate as a political boogeyman. Mylan’s effective tax rate had been only 16.2% in 2013, 20% in 2012 and 17.7% in 2011.

Bresch’s contention that Mylan was a “reluctant” inverter doesn’t hold much water. At that Fortune event, she reiterated the claim that Mylan hadn’t been seeking an inversion partner but had been willing to look into a deal “if the opportunity presented itself.” But she also seemed to say that its search for a partner was rather more proactive than that. “When we were inverting, we … looked at a lot of countries because we had the opportunity to really domicile where we wanted to, and the Netherlands was a... natural.”

Corporate mouthpieces and other defenders of inversions say there’s nothing wrong-- even something admirable-- in a company’s trying to do the best for its shareholders by cutting their tax bites. The argument is: “You don’t like it? Change the tax law.”

The problem with this position is that U.S. corporations have lots of advantages over foreign competitors that have to be paid for by taxes; inversions just amount to sticking the cost to someone else. Mylan itself proved this point last year, when it tried to fend off a takeover attempt by Teva by asking the U.S. government to declare it a U.S. company. That would have given U.S. antitrust officials the opportunity to block the takeover by a foreign company. Teva’s takeover attempt eventually broke down anyway.

Dena Grayson is running for an open congressional seat in central Florida. Her statement on Mylan is exactly the kind of strong position voters are looking from for leaders. Please wrap your head around what she's saying and then, if you agree, consider contributing to her campaign here.

"As a doctor and medical researcher, I know first-hand how much innovative new treatments can relieve suffering and save lives. And I know that it takes many years and extraordinary effort to discover and develop effective treatments for deadly diseases. But this isn’t scientific innovation by Manchin’s daughter at Mylan. It’s good ol' fashioned greed, plain and simple. Even worse, it's at the cost of the most vulnerable members of our society: sick kids. While Manchin’s avaricious daughter relaxes in her mansion, parents are forced to make a choice that no parent should ever have to make: whether to protect their child from dying from a fatal allergic attack, versus paying the rent. Yes, Mylan produces a tried and true medicine that saves lives, but it’s not innovative. It’s as though Mylan stumbled upon an cheap, old print of a Monet painting in their grandmother’s attic, and are now trying to pass it off as an original masterpiece. If Mylan is unable or unwilling to control their greed, then we will have to do it for them. Plain and simple."

Blue America has billboards up all over Polk County right now


Manchin's not very bright daughter-- and utterly devoid of a moral compass-- has cost Mylan's shareholders in the realm of $3 billion dollars, just so she could pocket a few million for herself. So far she's still neither fired nor arrested... but I bet no one's too happy about this:

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why Can't The DCCC Win-- Even When Districts Are Handed To Them On Silver Platters?


Losers, dragging the House Dems down with them

Polling results showing Hillary leading Mr. Trumpanzee in the Philly suburbs are stunning. Those suburbs are considered among the most swingy districts in the country but she's ahead of him by 40 points! So you'd like even the DCCC-- as lame and incompetent as it is-- could win the 3 districts that make up those 'burbs, right? Of course not; haven't you been paying attention for the last 10 years or so?

The Republican state legislature has gerrymandered 2 of the 3 congressional districts into misshapen Frankenstein-monstrosites, PA-06 and PA-07, which should be stuck down by a court based solely on the way they look on a map-- and the men who drew them should be thrown into prison. The 6th, which is represented by Republican Ryan Costello, includes parts of Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lebanon counties. The 7th, which is represented by Republican Pat Meehan, includes most of Delaware County and parts of Chester, Montgomery, Berks and (a tiny bit of) Lancaster counties. Here's how those 6 counties voted in the 2012 Senate elections between Democrat Bob Casey (D) and Tom Smith (R):
Berks- Casey- 51%, Smith- 48%
Chester- Casey- 50%, Smith-48%
Delaware- Casey- 62%, Smith-37%
Lancaster- Smith- 58%, Casey- 40%
Lebanon- Smith- 60%, Casey- 38%
Montgomery- Casey- 58%, Smith-41%
But the 3 districts have Republican incumbents because Pelosi has managed to craft the most astonishing incompetent DCCC in the history of mankind-- with Rahm Emanuel, Chris Van Hollen, Steve Israel and now some clueless lummox name Ben Ray Lujan doing all he can to emulate the worst of all Pelosi's chairmen, Steve Israel. They lost the districts and managed-- because of their relentless war against progressives-- to keep the districts lost, applying the DCCC's faulty operating theory, namely that Democratic voters want nominees just like Steve Israel (i.e., grotesquely corrupt and venal conservatives with breathtakingly low IQs). But they don't. Which is why the Democrats keep losing more and more seats in Congress, including overwhelmingly blue districts.

Off on a tangent but let's look at 3 examples of blue seats that Israel screwed up. Obama won NV-04 both times, 56-41% against McCain and 54%-44% against Romney. But the Democratic congressman, Steven Horsford, was an African-American and when he went to Steve Israel for aide, Israel-- a repulsive racist who doesn't think blacks should represent white majority districts, refused and the seat was lost to a far right Bible thumper, Cresent Hardy, who is a huge Trumpanzee enthusiast. Next, let's look at NY-24, basically Syracuse, NY, an even bluer district, where Obama beat McCain 56-42% and beat Romney 57-41%. How do the Democrats lose a seat like that. Steve Israel, take another bow and say bow-wow-wow. Dan Maffei, a faceless conservative New Dem had already been booted out by Democrats who had refused to vote for him, angered by a record that leaned way too far to the right (like the way Steve Israel prefers). So Israel recruited him to run again and he voted with the GOP again and Democratic voters refused to go to the polls to reelect him again. This is where Steve Israel's incredibly low IQ comes in. He can't understand this simple concept and keeps repeating the pattern. He's re-recruited a whole bunch of equally horrible corrupt conservatives this cycle in blue districts with GOP incumbents and then may get swept into Congress by the anti-Trump tsunami, whereupon they will vote like Republicans and lose in 2018 again. And the third district, the bluest of the three, was Iowa's first district, where Obama beat McCain 58-40% and then beat Romney 56-42%. Israel preferred a conservative "ex"-Republican who lost the primary. So he sandbagged the progressive. It was a wipe-out in Iowa that year because of the worst gubernatorial and Senate candidates anyone can remember and the sandbagged liberal lost but did better than anyone else in Iowa who got dragged down by the top of the ticket. This year, Israel sabotaged his primary and got the "ex"-Republican nominated. It goes on and one and on.

No one ever reports these stories in the media. But yesterday Guccifer 2.0 leaked some embarrassing info about the Philly suburban districts to The Hill, another tale of willful DCCC incompetence, with starring roles by corrupt right-wing Democrats Steny Hoyer (MD), Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL) and Denny Heck (New Dem-WA). We've been writing a lot how the DCCC is sabotaging Mary Ellen Balchunis' campaign in PA-07 even after she beat their preposterous Wall Street recruit, Bill Golderer, 74-26%. They would rather throw the perfectly winnable district away, where Hillary is going to win by a gigantic landslide than see a progressive like Mary Ellen win. This is what Guccifer leaked to The Hill:
[In] district seven, memos show a concerted effort by the DCCC to recruit Pastor Bill Golderer as a candidate. Golderer was eventually defeated in the primary by La Salle University Professor Mary Ellen Balchunis.

As late as May, the DCCC believed that incumbent GOP Rep. Pat Meehan was vulnerable, noting that historically a Democrat held a slight edge.

The DCCC began to solicit Golderer in the summer of 2015. Memos to Reps. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), Bustos and Heck giving strategy tips for the trio to encourage Golderer to run emphasized two key points.

The DCCC thought his story would make for a compelling foil to Meehan-- Golderer founded the Broad Street Ministry, an alternative church emphasizing inclusiveness and civic outreach. It also felt that Golderer could mount successful fundraising efforts through “an extensive rolodex from his public ventures and past political work and can mount a credible challenge.”

But after Golderer declared and the primary race went on into 2016, the focus of the memos switched to pleading with the candidate to stay in contention.

“A troubled campaign since the New Year,” the DCCC wrote in the memos, after key advisors left the campaign and the DCCC needed to step in to shore up necessary signatures for the primary. Golderer “has tried to exit the race several times.”

“Please ask him to stop telling supporters or members about his plans to exit the race without a plan in place,” asks one memo of Lujan.
Today Mary Ellen is still being sabotaged by Steve Israel, Cheri Bustos and Denny Heck, who urge institutional contributors not to "waste" their money on her race. Blue America has endorsed her and we're asking progressives to contribute to her on a page dedicated to progressives who won their primaries and who are being undermined by Steve Israel and his team of odious conservative monsters. Just click the thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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Can The Democrats Win Back The House? Not With Pelosi's DCCC


When the DNC and DCCC ask you for a contribution with a promise that they're going to take back the House, they're being as dishonest as... well, as dishonest as Trump is with his myriad manipulative statements. The corrupt and incompetent DCCC hasn't put the work in that would be needed to take back the House and they don't have the candidates to do it. It's a good theory-- and if the DCCC was even vaguely competent it could be done with alacrity this cycle-- but Pelosi has put together a dysfunctional losing-machine that will never win until she and Hoyer and gone and their DCCC is gone with them.

Unfortunately, the media has generally either been too lazy or too stupid to do anything but give credence to their silly claims about "taking back the House." Nate Cohn, though, writing for yesterday's NY Times reported that even with an anti-Trump tsunami "a House takeover by Democrats is no small task. They would need to pick up 30 seats, and, as of today, it’s hard to identify 30 seats where Republicans are in serious danger." Even a wave election, he wrote, "might not be enough for Democrats to retake the House." He's being generous.

He speculates that a Hillary landslide might result in a big shift in the House than in the past. "That’s because the relationship between presidential and down-ballot vote choice has tightened."
On the other hand, the tight relationship between the presidential and House ballots might be ready to break this year. After all, this isn’t an ordinary election about Democrats versus Republicans: This is about Mr. Trump, a very unusual candidate and one of the best-known people in the world.

So far, it doesn’t seem as if he has done enough damage to the rest of the party to put the House into question. The Cook Political Report estimates that just 36 Republican-held seats are either “tossups” or “leaning” Republican. Many of the well-educated white G.O.P. voters with reservations about Mr. Trump appear to be sticking by Republicans, at least for now.

The last live-interview survey to ask about the national House race was by McClatchy/Marist, which showed Democrats ahead by eight points, but that was far less than Mrs. Clinton’s 15-point lead in the same poll. Tellingly, House Republicans still had the edge among well-educated white voters, a group that supported Mrs. Clinton by 12 points in the poll.

Another indication that Mrs. Clinton’s lead hasn’t yet translated to a Democratic wave comes from the Washington State “top-two” primary. In that race, all of the candidates, regardless of party, appear on the same ballot-- and the top two candidates advance to the general. The result ends up looking a lot like the general election, although it generally tilts a bit to the Republicans. The primary results of 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2014 all gave clear indications of the playing field in November.

In the primary this month, Democrats did not appear especially competitive in the two Republican-held districts in Washington that were close in the 2012 presidential election (one that Mitt Romney won by two points, the other that Barack Obama won by two points). The Republican candidates led the sum of the Democrats by 18 and 14 points, respectively. Over all, Democrats did run well ahead of where they were in 2014 primaries. But these are the kinds of seats where the Democrats would hope to be a bit closer.

Right now, it’s hard to go seat by seat and identify the contests through which Democrats would pick up a majority. But that could change. The number of House seats that were deemed “tossups” or “leaning” by the Cook Political Report basically doubled over the final three months of the 2006, 2008 and 2010 elections.

The problem for Democrats, though, is that they might not retake the House even if they managed to perform as well as the Democrats of 2006 or 2008, or the Republicans of 2010.
Worse yet, he writes, that even with a big Hillary win and then a midterm and reelection campaign, "given the tendency for the president’s party to struggle down-ballot [i]f Democrats are going to retake the House anytime soon, November would probably be their best shot, and as of now it’s not happening." So how could it happen? Now we're in fantasy world because, like I said, it can't happen as long as Pelosi and Hoyer are running the show. Incompetence and a losing mentality is baked into the DCCC cake and the cake has to be rebuilt from scratch for it to start winning again. But let's imagine an alternative universe where the DCCC is vaguely competent. How do they win? Their willful recruiting of corrupt conservative candidates has ruined even that picture. But let's even overlook that. What could they do now? Start by gently getting rid of this delusion and dishonest person:

Then they should stop supporting corrupt conservatives who-- even if they win in November-- will never be able to hold a seat in a midterm and redirecting their resources to strong and inspiring grassroots progressive Democrats like Mary Ellen Balchunis, Paul Clements, Dena Grayson, DuWayne Gregory, Mary Hoeft, Pramila Jayapal, Alina Valdes, Thomas Wakely, who, along with Jamie Raskin and Zephyr Teachout, who the DCCC is already supporting on some level, are the kinds of men and women the Democratic Party desperately needs moving into the future. Another thing the DCCC could do right now to show they are not the corrupt and venal institution so many Demiocrats see them (correctly) as, would be to endorse Tim Canova against their own foul and odious colleague, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, breaking with tradition and causing a political earthquake in Washington that would inspire Democrats from Maine to San Diego, Honolulu and Alaska. But they won't... and they'll lose again in November and lose worse in 2018. What can progressives do? Tap the thermometer and ask yourself that.

Goal Thermometer

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Do native Americans speak with an accent? Yes, but most of us don't know what they are, including our own


Stephen Colbert challenges Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, and Allen Leech to read a Downton Abbey scene in American accents. Stephen's own idea about American accents could use some touching up, it seems.

"Nationally, most Americans don’t really know that much about the people who live in [Colorado, Wyoming, or Nebraska], which means we also haven’t constructed elaborate and unreliable legends about the ways people in those states speak. And because the way we see people is the primary factor in the way we hear them speak, if we don’t know much about a population? We don’t hear much of an accent, either."
-- Dan Nosowitz, in "Is There a Place in America Where
People Speak Without Accents?
," for Atlas Obscura

by Ken

Though Howie and I go back together to the ninth grade at the James Maddison High School annex, we go back together only that far, because I'm not a native New Yorker. When we moved here in 1961, many of the Brooklynites I now lived among were puzzled by my accent, which had been concocted through seven years in my native Baltimore and five years in the Midwest bastion of Milwaukee, where the kids I went to school with made fun of my "Southern accent." In Brooklyn especially, having what might be called "Midwestern speech" was interesting, because as I came to learn, Midwestern speech is the basis for what had come to be known as "General American" speech -- the sort of thing favored by the people who hired newscasters and other on-air personalities they hoped would sound "un-accented."

Only now it turns out that "General American" speech was itself mythologicall Oh, it might have described a cauldron of speech patterns, among which the "General American" speakers may well have tended to employ a few. But it doesn't seem likely that there was ever anywhere where the locals generally spoke "General American," and even in the areas where it was thought to be spoken, it isn't anymore -- there have been major shifts in the speech patterns of the whole presumed-"General American" belt since John Kenyon "laid out some linguistic and geographical guidelines for General American," which he claimed was spoken by 90 million Americans, in his 1930 book, American Pronunciation, as Dan Nosowitz reports for Atlas Obscura in a piece called, "Is There a Place in America Where People Speak Without Accents?"

Dan draws inspiration and courage in debunking the whole concept of General American from Oklahoma State University dialectologist and sociolinguist Dennis Preston, who says, "General American doesn't exist. He was demoted to private or sergeant a long, long time ago."
But the concept persists: we believe that, for example, newscasters, maybe some actors, and certainly some people, somewhere, speak an unaccented variety of American English. For instance, when Stephen Colbert explained his vocal patterns to 60 Minutes, he said:
"At a very young age, I decided I was not gonna have a Southern accent. Because people, when I was a kid watching TV, if you wanted to use a shorthand that someone was stupid, you gave the character a Southern accent. And that's not true. Southern people are not stupid. But I didn't wanna seem stupid. I wanted to seem smart. And so I thought, 'Well, you can't tell where newsmen are from.’"
The name of this accentless accent varies; sometimes it’s called Standard American, or Broadcast English, or Network English, or, as it was created by two independent linguists in the 1920s and 1930s, General American. It is a neutral accent, one without distinguishing features.

But where does General American come from? Is there a place where people, young and old, speak like newscasters?
I expect it won't surprise you to learn that, while Dan has an answer of sorts for the first question, his answer to the second is a resounding "no." It turns out that John Kenyon's General American was based on the speech he tended to hear from the speakers he was most familiar with growing up in Northeastern Ohio. It seems most unlikely that even then it was the "standard" speech of the area, and as noted above, since Kenyon's time, "The entire vowel system of the parts of the country along the Great Lakes, stretching from New York cities like Rochester and Buffalo straight through to Chicago and Detroit, began to dramatically change," in what came to be known to linguists as the "Northern Cities Vowel Shift."

You can check out for yourself some of the specifics, but the key point is that, "within the linguistic community, the idea that General American had any relation to any actual geographical place was quickly destroyed."
The field of American linguistics advanced very quickly in the mid-20th century, and by 1950 numerous studies were released that found that even within Northeastern Ohio, there were multiple distinctive accents and dialects, and that certainly Kenyon’s rules for General American did not apply to the vast part of the country he claimed. The Northern Cities Vowel Shift work further combusted any idea that General American described the way people talk in the Midwest.
In this more sophisticated understanding of American "accents," researchers like Dennis Preston have concluded that Americans (a) mostly think they themselves don't have an accent, except for some specific regions like the South, in part because (b) Americans are pretty terrible at recognizing accents, their own or anybody else's. Ironically, for example, "Midwesterners tend to not actually hear the very things that distinguish them to the rest of the country." Again, go to the source for some description of the kinds of things Dan is talking about, including some video clips of broadcasters speaking anything like a standardized "accentless" American.

One thing broadcasters frequently do do, though, is to enunciate with great care, which apparently is easily mistaken as "accentless" speech by hearers who aren't good to begin with at recognizing most American accents, which Dan assures us do exist, in every locality in the country. In the end, he says,
the search for an accent-less accent is more about our own perception and lack of understanding of linguistics than any objective, observable pattern. In other words, we are hearing what we want to hear, not what people are actually saying.
Hmm. "We are hearing what we want to hear, not what people are actually saying." Nothing surprising about that, is there?

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Are Our Brains Already Pre-Wired To Determine The 2016 Election?-- A Guest Post By Daniel Levitin


Our guest blogger today is Dr. Daniel J. Levitin, a neuroscientist who has written for us a few times over the years. Dan and I have been close friends for over 3 decades. He is perhaps best known as the author of the mega bestsellers This Is Your Brain On Music (which is required reading at Harvard for all incoming freshman) and The Organized Mind. His new book is timed for the start of this election season and is a primer on critical thinking for everyone. It’s called A Field Guide to Lies and I urge you to buy his book-- I read it in galleys and it will change the way you read the news, I guarantee it. You can pre-order it here. Dan gave me two signed advance copies of the book and I'll send them out as a thank you from Blue America today to the two most generous contributors to either Grayson on this page.

Recently he told me that "in 1996, five Mt. Everest hikers lost their lives because they did not allow new and relevant information to alter their views about the safety of proceeding. The 2007 global financial crisis has been traced to belief perseverance, when financial experts stuck with the status quo in spite of new evidence of weakening financial instruments." We talked about how the brain works in this regard in impacting politics and he added that there's a "need to nudge ourselves to think about how things might turn out if they don't go the way we think they will-- to imagine extreme, but still realistic scenarios. Use pre-mortems-- think ahead to all the things that could go wrong, and what might be the effects of these failures. Part of practicing the pre-mortem is recognizing that we are fallible and will make mistakes, succumbing to biases. What if a short-tempered candidate said the wrong thing to the wrong people at the wrong time? What if a candidate who wants to expand social support systems is confronted instead with a dire financial crisis? Which of these scenarios would yield the worst outcome? Third, identify what you would need to know in order to endorse or reject a candidate-- what are the real deal-breakers and deal-makers for you. Then take a dispassionate look at what the candidates really-and-truly stand for, not just what you've assumed they do."

Why It's So Hard To Learn Anything New About The Candidates
-by Daniel Levitin

Many Americans decided months ago which of the two presumptive Presidential nominees we would support, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The contrast between them is pronounced, and it has been said to be the most stark in the 52 years since the LBJ/Goldwater contest in 1964.

As new information comes in from journalists about the candidates' trustworthiness, rationality, attitudes about race, and views on the responsibilities and functions of a free press, most of us will tend to ignore it. This is because of confirmation bias and belief perseverance, cognitive short-cuts that cause us to discard information that contradicts things we think we already know. Our brains can be lazy, and don't want to have to keep revisiting old decisions. This can save previous neural resources but can lead to devastatingly bad decisions.

Every time the press reports something negative about Donald Trump, his supporters will tend to dismiss it as biased or irrelevant. After all, their candidate is "an outsider" who "bucks the establishment," while "the media want to keep the status quo and are against someone who tells it like it is." Every time the press reports something negative about Hillary Clinton, her supporters will tend to dismiss it, believing that their candidate is the victim of a "Clinton-bashing media" who have had it in for her and her husband for more than three decades.

Those initial decisions are often based on emotion and intuition, and we then cherry-pick evidence that allows us to maintain our view. When a candidate is shown to have committed some unsavory act, we find ourselves saying, "Yeah, but (s)he's still the best person for the job." Drew Westen at Emory University found that people making decisions this mode during the 2004 presidential elections failed to use the parts of their brains associated with deliberate, logical thinking (in the prefrontal cortex), and instead they engaged brain regions associated with sympathy. This in turn causes voters to give the benefit of the doubt to their preferred candidate but not to the opponent.

What kind of evidence would it take to unseat these biases? How strong an argument would have to be presented to make us change our minds? More than you'd think, and more than would seem rational or adaptive.

In a classic study, students at Stanford University were shown photos of people while hearing what they thought was a playback of their own heartbeat-- the heartbeat would speed up at points randomly determined by the experimenter. The students were thus led to believe that they felt more strongly about some individuals than others. After all, physiology doesn't lie.

At the end of the experiment, the researchers explained that the heartbeat had been computer manipulated and didn't correspond to their true judgments at all. Asked to rate whom they felt the strongest about, the students were overwhelmingly biased toward the photo that had been accompanied by the accelerated heart rate.

Think about this: The only evidence the students had for which person they felt strongest about had just been removed, yet they tenaciously clung to their initial belief. Social scientist Emily Thorson of George Washington University calls these "belief echoes," and in her research confirms that exposure to political information persists in shaping attitudes long after that information is discredited.

Trial attorneys know this well-- they will often make a defamatory remark about a witness or defendant that they know will lead to an objection, which the judge will sustain; but if that remark caused the jury (and possibly the judge) to form a negative impression, it can take hold and govern the outcome of the trial, even if it has been shown to be false.

Politics, like high school, is partly (maybe largely) tribal, ideological and emotional. But it doesn't have to be. In this increasingly inter-connected, global economy, each of us has a stake in how our leaders interact on our behalf with us, our neighbors, our trade partners, and even our enemies. Emotions are most useful when they motivate us to act, but such actions should be based on reason.

You wouldn't step in an airplane that was designed by someone using emotion as their sole blueprint-- you shouldn't want a country governed by someone whom voters have not properly vetted. Political parties and candidates are not like a hometown sports team that you stick with through thick and thin-- political issues are complex, and many of us find that we agree with some of the things being said by candidates in both parties.

Overcoming these biases is necessary to being informed, and being informed is fundamental to any democracy. Thomas Jefferson himself believed that democracy (or a democratic republic) "rests on the foundation of an educated electorate." Jefferson also said that "Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine percent." The whole point of democracy is to prevent the more powerful from dominating the less powerful. Our best defense against that-- to prevent us from devolving into a mob-- is to apply educated reason, arrived at through an analysis of facts.

Sure, a good candidate should stir emotion, patriotism, and should inspire. But to what end? Overcoming our biases requires three steps. We first need to be aware of them. In a study by McKinsey, investors who were made aware of cognitive biases were able to overcome them and increase their profits by 7%. Next, we need to make an extra effort to slow down and try to evaluate information from multiple sides objectively, and be ready to change our views. Psychologists Philip Tetlock and Jennifer Lerner call this making a break from using confirmatory thought to using exploratory thought. Finally, as my colleague Daniel Kahneman notes, there's a better chance of overcoming biases when a discussion of them is widespread. Therefore, discuss your views with others, and not necessarily others with whom you agree. You don't learn anything by only talking to people who agree with you. The press is helping us to wade through all of the conflicting claims, fact-checking, and contextualizing. Listening to them with an open mind is up to us.


I Know The Trump Family From Avenue Z-- They Were The Neighborhood Con Artists


The simplest way to see the Trump campaign is to never lose sight of that fact that he has always been and will always be a scam artist or, as most of his opponents in the Republican primary called him, a con man. The new flap over his immigration policy is just another example of that. After all the pain and anguish and turmoil he cause with his hateful rhetoric, he is now tap-dancing away from his round-up and deportation squads that so animated the racists and xenophobes on the GOP's fringes-- and beyond-- to try to reposition his deportation plan as one that will simply distinguish "bad" undocumented immigrants from others; in other words, Obama's system. On Fox with O'Reilly he pretty much admitted that the U.S. doesn't have open borders and that Obama is enforcing the law-- exploding the biggest premise of his own candidacy and putting the lie to the ad his campaign is running now. Yes, the guy is a two-bit hustler who's hustling two groups of Americans: racists and the intellectually handicapped. Are you a Trumpist? Which group do you fall into?

Some of the unfinished office space in Trumpanzee Tower that the Trumpanzee campaign had been paying $35,000 a month for until May. The campaign paid nearly $170,000 for its Trumpanzee Tower space in July

The newest scam uncovered by the media shows Señor Trumpanzee using campaign contributions to pay himself premium $120/square foot office space at Trumpanzee Tower when he hasn't been able to find a tenant to rent the same space for $90/square foot. If he is eager to soak and cheat his supporters, what do you think he has in mind for the a country stupid enough-- in his mind-- to elect him president? S.V. Date broke the story at HuffPo: Trumpanzee Jacked Up His Campaign’s Trumpanzee Tower Rent Once Somebody Else Was Paying It. The rent he charged his campaign "soared in July after Trump’s campaign began accepting donor contributions."
After bragging for a year about how cheaply he was running his campaign, Donald Trump is spending more freely now that other people are contributing-- particularly when the beneficiary is himself.

Trump nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign, according to a Huffington Post review of Federal Election Commission filings. The rent jumped even though he was paying fewer staff in July than he did in March.

The Trump campaign paid Trump Tower Commercial LLC $35,458 in March-- the same amount it had been paying since last summer-- and had 197 paid employees and consultants. In July, it paid 172 employees and consultants.

“If I was a donor, I’d want answers,” said a prominent Republican National Committee member who supports Trump, asking for anonymity to speak freely. “If they don’t have any more staff, and they’re paying five times more? That’s the kind of stuff I’d read and try to make an (attack) ad out of it.”

...The FEC filings show that Trump began increasing the rent at Trump Tower starting with the May 31 payment of $72,800. The Trump campaign paid $110,684 in rent on June 9, and $169,758 on July 10... Trump’s money makes up a tiny percentage of his campaign’s spending. The bulk now comes from outside donors, both small-dollar givers and those writing maximum-limit checks of $2,700.

“Nobody cares when you’re spending your own money, but when you’re spending the donor’s $27, that could cause problems,” the RNC member said, adding that small donors especially may not be sympathetic to Trump’s extravagance. “Most campaigns run on a much tighter budget.”

For many months, Trump’s campaign prided itself on its low-rent operation. It invited reporters in to tour its headquarters on the fifth floor of Trump Tower that had once been used as production offices for “The Apprentice” TV show, which starred Trump. Photos and video from those tours show work space with unfinished ceilings, makeshift drywall partitions, and only a few campaign workers.

Commercial real estate is available in the midtown Manhattan neighborhood in the range of $70 per square foot annually, although Trump has charged more than that. Trump Tower rented 9,000 feet of office space in December at $120 per square foot, but has been unable to rent a 15,000 square-foot office that includes six terraces overlooking Fifth Avenue, even at a discounted rent of $90 per square foot.

Democrat Hillary Clinton has been leasing two entire floors in a Brooklyn office building totaling 80,000 square feet since the start of her campaign. The rent for that space has been about $212,000 per month.

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