Saturday, January 30, 2016

Chips, Dips, Chains And Whips

Take heart, all you 29 million uninsured Americans out there! Even though Hillary Clinton wants to condemn you to misery and a possible early death through her strident vow that Bernie Sanders's single payer health plan "will never, ever come to pass," Barack Obama wants you to know that he still has your back.  

Rather than Medicare for All, he's offering Computer Science for All, as a kind of booby prize. A chip in every classroom and in every body will not only help the lack of medicine go down. It'll make Silicon Valley as rich as Croesus and Predatory Insurance and Big Pharma all put together.

While Hillary was shamelessly dragging the mother of a brain cancer patient up onto her campaign stage as a prop to spread the lie that Bernie Sanders would rip out her daughter's chemo line on Day One of his presidency, Obama is using the waning days of his own presidency to try and convince us that all we need to survive (besides Obamacare, of course) are a few more skills to make our lives as servants in the oligarchy seem cool. 

If we have to live in a Dystopia where we periodically enter the health care lottery for a slim chance to win at actually living, Obama will at least try to make us feel better. Welcome to the Brave New World of Techno-optimism, folks!

From his weekly address to Da People:
 Hi everybody.  As I said in my State of the Union address, we live in a time of extraordinary change – change that’s affecting the way we live and the way we work. New technology replaces any job where work can be automated.  Workers need more skills to get ahead.  These changes aren’t new, and they’re only going to accelerate.  So the question we have to ask ourselves is, “How can we make sure everyone has a fair shot at success in this new economy"?

(Translation: These changes are  fueled by job-destroying, corporation-enriching, democracy-killing policies that I like to call free trade deals, You know, like NAFTA --  which my pal and designated successor Hillary Clinton championed back in the day. Oh, and the TTP which she only pretends to hate because she has to fool enough people to beat Bernie.The Neoliberal Project -- the free market supplanting representative government, and dictating social and economic policies --  is nothing new. It got its second wave in the 90s when the first Clinton Regime continued the Reagan Revolution. So, we of the power elite sit around and rhetorically ask ourselves how we can make sure that enough people will actually believe what we say. We are so disingenuous that we don't even care how the phrases "fair shot at success" and the "skills gap" are being greeted with howls of derision from millions of struggling people and Bernie-supporters out there.  We do have the barest glimmer of an idea that people are fully aware of how corrupt we elected officials truly are. We can't admit this, though, because if we did, plutocratic heads might explode.)

  So back to my propaganda script: 
The answer to that question starts with education. That’s why my Administration has encouraged states to raise standards.  We’ve cut the digital divide in our classrooms in half.  We’ve worked with Congress to pass a bipartisan bill to set the expectation that every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a good job.  And thanks to the hard work of students, teachers, and parents across the country, our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high. 
 Through our discredited Race to the Top program, we had the excuse to close hundreds of "poor-performing" schools. Rather than allocate funds to alleviate pupil hunger, parental unemployment and other social ills, we saved money by shutting schools down and transferring the kids to for-profit charters to help private equity vultures get even richer. Better to put some high-tech crap from the Gates Foundation in classrooms (big donor to Hillary's slush fund, by the way!) than keep those unionized teachers around. And the two tightly clenched cheeks of Bipartisan Consensus actually passed an ass-pirational bill telling those poor kids and parents that "we" expect a lot more hard work from them. 

But enough of the cold-hearted truth. Propaganda's my name, propaganda's my game. My baritone spiels are nothing if not "euphoric, narcotic, pleasantly hallucinant."  (h/t Aldous Huxley.)
 Now, we have to make sure all our kids are equipped for the jobs of the future – which means not just being able to work with computers, but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy.  Today’s auto mechanics aren’t just sliding under cars to change the oil; they’re working on machines that run on as many as 100 million lines of code.  That’s 100 times more than the Space Shuttle.  Nurses are analyzing data and managing electronic health records.  Machinists are writing computer programs.  And workers of all kinds need to be able to figure out how to break a big problem into smaller pieces and identify the right steps to solve it.
OK, now we're getting into some super-cool, fun Huxley territory. Humans won't really become redundant: they will simply become the migrant labor at the robot farms. High school grads will become minimum-wage rocket scientists! Forget nurses spending tender loving direct care time with sick people. They'll be too busy uploading data so that Predatory Insurance can bill them quicker and get paid faster. They'll be too wrapped up in writing code to call any emergency Codes. Every minute of every working day will be a zero-sum slog. Your entire life will be shattered into many little puzzle pieces that you will then be expected to put back together again. And if you can't take the pressure, there's plenty more where you came from.  So stay in school, and make Bill Gates richer while I drone on:
In the new economy, computer science isn’t an optional skill – it’s a basic skill, right along with the three “Rs.”  Nine out of ten parents want it taught at their children’s schools.  Yet right now, only about a quarter of our K through 12 schools offer computer science.  Twenty-two states don’t even allow it to count toward a diploma.
In Brave New World, there will be no time for literature, creative writing, history, ethics and probably Recess. Every diploma will have a Computer Chip embedded in it to follow you for the rest of your life. As Aldous Huxley wrote, "Most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution." So let's prove Bernie wrong with my magical computer chips, my little chipmunks!
 So I’ve got a plan to help make sure all our kids get an opportunity to learn computer science, especially girls and minorities.  It’s called Computer Science For All.  And it means just what it says – giving every student in America an early start at learning the skills they’ll need to get ahead in the new economy.
Your kids are our kids, but my kids are my kids. Computer rights are human rights, and human rights are computer rights. This is the part where I endorse Hillary, and mention girls and minorities, because polls show she's starting to lose women and blacks. As long as some crappy neoliberal initiative has the words "for all" in it, you can forget that Medicare for All is never, ever, never in a zillion years ever gonna happen. Not ever! Thirty million uninsured people are just collateral damage. But maybe they can think they're getting ahead in the New Economy with a few technical skills and Bill Gates software. To quote Aldous again, "A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”  
First, I’m asking Congress to provide funding over the next three years so that our elementary, middle, and high schools can provide opportunities to learn computer science for all students.
(I hope -- LOL -- that this will be just the fig leaf I need to cram through the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership. Democrats can ease their consciences if we tepidly promise to offer a few computer classes to folks whose livelihoods we aim to destroy by this corporate coup.) 
 Second, starting this year, we’re leveraging existing resources at the National Science Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service to train more great teachers for these courses.
(This is a weasel-worded way to say I will "appropriate" funding from other social programs to train low-paid, non-unionized teachers to both market and use Bill Gates's products more efficiently.)
 And third, I’ll be pulling together governors, mayors, business leaders, and tech entrepreneurs to join the growing bipartisan movement around this cause.  Americans of all kinds – from the Spanish teacher in Queens who added programming to her classes to the young woman in New Orleans who worked with her Police Chief to learn code and share more data with the community – are getting involved to help young people learn these skills.  And just today, states like Delaware and Hawaii, companies like Google and SalesForce, and organizations like have made commitments to help more of our kids learn these skills.
(One Privatization Utopia in just one little paragraph, with just the right smidgen of Police State surveillance thrown in for good measure. This is not a project, people: it's a Movement! It's a Tempest! Oh Brave New World, that has such people in't!
 That’s what this is all about – each of us doing our part to make sure all our young people can compete in a high-tech, global economy.  They’re the ones who will make sure America keeps growing, keeps innovating, and keeps leading the world in the years ahead.  And they’re the reason I’ve never been more confident about our future.
 Keeping the cancer of global capitalism growing, one little malignant cell at a time. Endless growth at any cost, no matter the ultimate death of the planet from an overload of innovative pollution.


Despite his protestations that he is not endorsing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Obama's  weekly radio address actually does amount to a campaign speech for her.  As Chris Lehmann writes, Clinton is relying heavily on this same kind of "techno-optimism" to convince people to vote for her over Bernie Sanders. Thus the wording "Computer Science for All", instead of Computers for Kids or something similar. They really seem to think that as long as their rhetoric sounds inclusive, they can fool at least some of the people some of the time.

Lehmann notes that Alec Ross, Obama's tech adviser during his victorious race against Hillary in 2008,  immediately went to work for her in the State Department:
 Everywhere Ross looks across the radically transformed world of digital commerce, the benign logic of market triumphalism wins the day. When Terry Gou—the Taiwanese CEO of Foxconn, the vast Chinese electronics sweatshop that doubles as an incubator for worker suicides—plans to eliminate the headache of supervising an unstable human workforce by replacing it with “the first fully automated plant” in manufacturing history, why, he’s simply “responding to pure market forces”: i.e., an increase in Chinese wages that cuts into Foxconn’s ridiculously broad profit margins. And you and I might see the so-called sharing economy as a means to casualize service workers into nonunion, benefit-free gigs that transfer economic value on a massive scale to a rentier class of Silicon Valley app marketers. But bouncy New Economy cheerleaders like Ross see “a way of making a market out of anything, and a microentrepreneur out of anyone.
 When confronted with the spiraling of income inequality in the digital age, Ross, like countless other prophets of better living through software, sagely counsels that “rapid progress often comes with greater instability.” Sure, the “wealthy generally benefit over the short term,” but remember, kids: “Innovations have the potential to become cheaper over time and spread throughout the greater population.”
Yeah, kids.... as fraught as your lives have become with an Obamacare Bronze Plan or No Plan, and no hope, never, ever, never of Medicare for All.

If this post has scared the living daylights out of you, as well as making you mad as hell, there is a very simple solution.  

Simply Feel the Bern, and help fan the flames of the revolution against the neoliberal scourge.  Capitalism is way overdue for some deep-tissue cauterization.

There is better living through Medicare for All. Because our lives are not cheap. Our lives are not theirs to program and atomize.

(credit: Taylor Jones, Cagle Cartoons)


Pearl said...

Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare: Hint -- it's not Bernie Sanders | Fox News |

This is from a judge on Fox news but sounds as if her private high security e-mails could be a serious problem. Any comments? She has to be slowed down especially if she wins Monday.

voice-in-wilderness said...

President Obama doesn't seem to know that the present and future of IT jobs is a combination of outsourcing to Asia and insourcing temporary workers from Asia via H1B and an assortment of other visas. Don't confuse him with the facts.

For years I've been reading about the educational fix as a job panacea. Each time I propose picking up a magic wand and conducting the following thought experiment.

Suppose, equipped with your wand, you could wave it and everyone in the country would instantly have the education, experience, and other qualifications for any possible job. We could have any number of teachers, nurses, police, programmers, economists, engineers, doctors, hedge fund managers, Wall Street bankers, electricians, firemen, architects, plumbers, etc., etc. Where would we find the jobs for them? Who would pay them? Actually there are a few jobs I would exclude from the wand waving: drone operators, special ops assassins, people with top secret clearances, Washington lobbyists, and members of Congress.

annenigma said...

It's unbelievable how committed the corporate-government can be when it wants human resources to write mind-numbing code for it's digital hacking army and robotic defense contracting industry. Imagine how much in energy resources all this will require too. Rare earth metals are also essential (the Afghanistan mother-lode awaits) and tremendous amounts of water for cooling too. The NSA's Utah Data Center alone is a gigantic drain just in water to cool it's enormous amount of heat-generating power.

I'd rather our taxes go into our public educational system for yearly civics classes starting in 3rd grade so kids can start learning how to be engaged citizens, about political parties, corporate media news, corruption, the rigged tax code, importance of human social services to preserve national security, war profiteering, and government propaganda. They'll could learn to get the news from independent sources instead of being spoonfed packaged infotainment to keep them numb and dumb.

Then yearly classes starting in 5th grade in consumer education so they learn all the tricks of capitalism, banking, credit, advertising, and how corporations conspire to manipulate and exploit everything on earth, eager to pollute, poison, maim, and kill for profit.

Now THAT'S a lot more interesting and useful than coding! They'd go home and teach their parents too. 'Did you know...?' The dropout rate, drug abuse, and suicides would drop once their eyes are opened and the become empowered by learning what they can actually do about it instead of feeling powerless and purposeless as they do now.

How soul crushing and deadly boring the educational system is going to be when corporations complete their takeover and the kids are railroaded into coding and other technical training classes. They'll become robotic slaves in digital prison camps. 'Oh the humanity!'

We've got to succeed in helping Bernie launch this Political Revolution so it takes solid root and grows. If Hillary defeats him, we should form a Humanity Party. Or maybe we can lighten things up so we're not characterized as Angry Voters and form a Garden Party. Oh wait! better yet, the Berning Man Party! Then we could gather on our public lands to celebrate our commons (to keep Mormon jihadists from taking them over for their Cowliphate) and have our own yearly Burning/Berning Man festivals to keep our spirits up.

Woohoo! Go Bernie Man!

Meredith NYC said...

Sanders old-style FDR liberal, a solid legislator with 30 years of experience, as a commenter said.

Labeling Sanders as hard left/too idealistic, is only possible in our distorted political spectrum. Left/right are redefined.

Sanders is actually conservative, wanting to restore America’s tried and traditional New Deal policies that used to be quite centrist in US politics, and that created the world’s most secure middle class.

Today’s Gop are the radical extremists who will tear down what made the US a successful democracy. Today’s Gop extract our resources for their profit/power. Even Ike and Nixon weren’t Gop economic radicals out to destroy Soc Sec, unions, and the GI Bill or regulations on banks/corporations and very high marginal tax rates. Our dominant party later purged and banished its moderates.

Sanders a year or so ago was the senator who held Senate Hearings on health care systems in other countries. I happened to catch it on Cspan and it was so unique. Very little publicity –seems our media is afraid of testimony on h/c systems abroad.

Sanders held senate hearings with witnesses from Canada, France, Denmark, Taiwan on how their h/c for all is financed and used. Why doesn’t Sanders use this now in the campaign? He could point to already working systems that cover all at lower cost and refute critics who say that’s impossible here.

What would Hillary say to this evidence from actual working systems? Sanders could use for his campaign ads some testimony from citizens of countries with generations of h/c for all at lower cost.

Sanders just mentioned Denmark briefly in a debate, with no facts, giving Hillary the opportunity to answer "we’re not Denmark we’re America". Keeping Americans conveniently uninformed.

Why Sanders doesn’t use his senate hearings in this campaign? Are our politicians and media all scared into avoiding the tons of evidence from abroad?

Pearl said...

Annenigma: I appreciate all the information you give us after each column. I think that Bernie is doing the best he can in the short time he has and is covered and he did mention the success of health care coverage in other countries a number of times. Our only hope even if he loses Iowa which unfortunately looks possible, is to use this coming early part of the year before there is a final decision of who is nominated to educate and awaken more people to push harder for the changes we need.
I think anyone coming into the oval office will have a gargantuan job to keep anything going at all, even for Hillary.
It is going to take a long while to clean up the mess that has happened over the years with incompetent leaders and Congresspeople.
Keep up your reports, very informative and vital. Are you sending any of this around to the larger public or even to Bernie's website?
I am dreading tomorrow's voting results.

Will said...


"Cowliphate" is hysterical! Here's some other good ones I've seen around Twitter re the Oregon standoff:


annenigma said...


I only write comments here and at the NYT and I'm not as heavy a commenter there as I am here. I did send a suggestion to Bernie's campaign but never heard back. I think I might have sent it to the wrong address but who knows.

I did learn one important thing from watching a Republican debate. The candidates read the NYT comments when the article or opinion is about themselves! Figures. I think it was Ted Cruz who remarked how vile some of the top comments were about him :-)

So I think it's fair to assume some campaign staff, if not the candidate or someone close to them, are indeed reading our comments, at least the top ones.

I'm not NYT Verified so mine don't usually get much visibility, but sometimes they work their way up as one did recently to top spot. It helps if it gets a NYT Pick designation since they default to that column so people read all those first. Getting a Pick is rare for me. Also my comments are sometimes held back for 5-8 hours. One took 24 hours, so the incentive isn't great to even try. Another factor is that I'm not into the game of bashing the Republican Party which ALWAYS gains lots of Recommends - the more vicious, the more Recommends, providing it is in regard to the Republicans or Maureen Dowd. She baits them and they play along by submitting lots of attacks and it helps get her lots of clicks and comments - job security!

I do what I can without a blog or twitter or anything else. I just hope that if I say something that registers, that others will repeat it or pass it along. I even welcome plagiarism!

Jay–Ottawa said...


Allow me to plagiarize (h/t Pearl):

I appreciate all the information you give us…. Keep up your reports....

Kat said...

Well, Marx was a techno optimist, so I think the real problem is who decides how technology is used. And like most problems it comes down to the problem of how power and resources are distributed.

Neil said...

In case you missed this story, Medicare For All was the plan all along.

"How and Why Medicare for All Is a Realistic Goal"
by Nancy Altman, Founding Co-director
Social Security Works, Jan-24-2016

"Hillary Clinton is wrong when she says that Medicare for all is not achievable. In fact, if she and her husband had embraced the concept in 1993, we would be nearly there today."

"Medicare was supposed to be a first step toward Medicare for all. After activists tried and failed to include universal health care in the Social Security Act of 1935, and after President Harry Truman tried during his presidency to achieve that goal, supporters decided that an incremental approach was most likely to bring ultimate success."

"So activists decided to fight to cover seniors, as a first step. They achieved that goal with the enactment of Medicare in 1965. In 1972, Medicare was expanded to cover people with disabilities. But that is where progress stopped."

"In 1993, the electorate wanted better health care. The newly elected President Bill Clinton put Hillary Clinton in charge of a task force to develop a proposal. They created a Rube Goldberg machine, easily attacked by the health care industry because the proposal was so hard to understand. If instead, the Clinton administration had further built on the extremely successful and popular Medicare program, then nearly three decades old, they would likely have been successful. There was a strong case to be made (as there still is) to lower the Medicare age of eligibility from age 65 to age 62, when seniors are first eligible for Social Security benefits." read more

Kat said...

I should have said "the real problem is how technology is used and for whom it is used." You know, Marx believed that capitalism and the modern limited liability corporation was a force of the revolution. It would allow technology to be harnessed and would finally strip of us our illusions of the true nature of the relationship between worker and owner. So, when Sanders keeps talking about greed it seems kind of anti revolutionary to me-- a rather sentimental view of capitalism-- as if the problem is greed, not capitalism. So, why not call himself a New Deal Democrat (although he still seems to the right of that, but that is a problem of people's conditioning over the years.) In doing so, he might not get bogged down in stupid discussions of how we "pay" for things (after all, we are not going to have any stimulus to the economy if we pay for things.) That is my problem with Sanders not that he is not sufficiently radical. I understand that a radical is not going to win the primary and I realize that he has to appeal to middle class voters. For instance, medicare for all is popular (well, not with health insurance executives or physicians but they are not his constituents anyway) but I realize if he were to say "We are going to commit to creating a million units of public housing" his campaign would be D.O.A.
Then there is this stupid article that gets it mostly wrong (not saying I'm a radical) and laughablylumps Ta Nehisi Coates with the "radical left". (glad to see him exposed as a fraud, though).

Kat said...
sorry, this is what I was talking about.

Kat said...

And here is another link that I think is worth a read:
I don't feel that our educational systems or health care system- even if publicly owned are particularly empowering.

Kat said...

Me again. Hey Karen-- thanks for clarifying something that I did not know. From yur NYT comment: Contrary to Establishment belief, we don't want single payer health care now, now, NOW!!!!! If you actually listened to Sanders, you would have heard him say that the best way to accomplish our goals is to elect him, elect more progressives, give him the bully pulpit for two presidential years, and then hopefully vote in a Democratic majority in the 2018 midterms to start transitioning to single payer. Sure, this might not work. But just giving up and not even trying would be plain suicidal for the vast majority of us. Of course, to hear the neoliberal thought collective tell it, our demand for not only a decent life, but for bare-bones survival, is a radical pipe-dream.
I would be worried if by any chance Sanders were to win the white house that single payer woud become the all consuming issue. This is actually very reassuring. I would like to see single payer, but I do believe it is up against a whole heap o' powerful interests and if it were to be attempted right away might take away from more important measures.

Kat said...

I'll change my handle to chatty Katty or perhaps just Typo Queen.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Yes, there are smart-looking submarines cruising the ocean, like the Green Party and the Socialist Party and the Communist Party. They're streamlined vessels, but way, way under the radar, not to mention the visual field of millions of people now in deep water and scanning the skyline in despiration for something, anything, to hang on to.

Those at risk of drowning can see the luxury liners, but they are sailing away from the wreckage they caused.

Then there's the pretty good ship Bernie steaming into view. Bernie is an old ship, dating back to Great Depression days; but it sure looks like it's busy hauling people out of the water. True, it's covered in rust and barnacles, and all the cabins are the same. What to do? Wait for the smart submarines to surface, or paddle over to the big rust bucket?

Kat said...

Uh, not sure if that was directed at me, Jay but I've stated before that I will be voting for Sanders in the primary. I am not against lesser evilism if I believe that people will actually be helped in doing so. (and this is not to say that I believe Sandersi "evil"). Still, we should be wary of telling others to do so. Or accusing anyone of purism. There are still some real radicals that have spent their lives as actual socialists or anarchists and who am I to judge them?
The article that I linked to about defending more government was not really about Sanders. It really is worth a read.

Valerie said...

I can't believe how badly Ralph Nader has been treated - even by Bernie - considering how much he has given to this nation and the progressive movement. It seems to me that Bernie is campaigning on all the issues Ralph has been on about for decades. And Ralph has some really sound advice about addressing Hillary's jumping on Bernie's talking points that should be listened to:

Liz Warren is the same. It makes me wonder about these progressive politicians. It is like older people who have a lot to offer in the workplace being ignored by younger people who could gain a lot from their experience and wisdom

Anonymous said...

"It seems to me that Bernie is campaigning on all the issues Ralph has been on about for decades.... It is like older people who have a lot to offer in the workplace being ignored by younger people who could gain a lot from their experience and wisdom."

With all due respect, Bernie and Ralph are fairly contemporaneous on these issues, and Bernie need not constantly invoke Ralph Nader's name, any more than he should be expected to invoke Emma Goldman's name. It would be a distraction, neither irrelevant, nor necessary.

One of the great assets of a candidate like Sanders isn't that he satisfies the old guard left, but that he is invigorating a new generation of progressives, specifically, millenials, who will presumably be around a lot longer than any of us, and who will be inheriting the mess that our generations created. So let's not miss the opportunity?

Along those lines, I was surprised (and relieved!) to read that Karen Garcia's characteristically spot-on analysis of last night's debate didn't involve Henry Kissinger. That was left to the somewhat younger (but not millennial) Alex Pareene at Gawker, who I think really nailed it.

"At last night’s Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton invoked an unexpected figure: Henry Kissinger. “I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time,” she said, in an off-hand aside. It wasn’t an endorsement of Kissinger, or really much of anything. It was just a little brag that would have played well in a different room.

"The sort of room it would have played well in, really, is the sort of room in which the worst people in the country congregate. The fact that Clinton lapsed into speaking as if she were in that room is more or less why she’s having trouble, once again, convincing the Democratic electorate to nominate her for the presidency.

"Henry Kissinger, for the record, is a bad man, who waged a terrible and illegal war in Cambodia, supported a horrific right-wing strongman in Chile, and generally ran America’s foreign policy apparatus in the most amoral way possible, as a point of pride. However, in the bubble of elite American society, the bipartisan consensus, shared by politicians and members of the media alike, is that he’s simply a respected elder statesman.

"The point I’m making here is not, [Glenn Greenwald voice] HILLARY CLINTON SUPPORTS A WAR CRIMINAL. (Trust me, I know Kissinger isn’t moving many votes in New Hampshire.) It’s that Hillary Clinton exists in a world where “Henry Kissinger is a war criminal” is a silly opinion held by unserious people. Her problem? Lots of those silly and unserious people want to wrest control of the Democratic Party away from its current leadership, which is exemplified by people like Hillary Clinton.

"Bernie Sanders’ critique of Clinton is not that she’s cartoonishly corrupt in the Tammany Hall style, capable of being fully bought with a couple well-compensated speeches, but that she’s a creature of a fundamentally corrupt system, who comfortably operates within that system and accepts it as legitimate. Clinton has had trouble countering that critique because, well, it’s true. It’s not that she’s been bought, it’s that she bought in."