Friday, May 06, 2016

Friday Water Cooler

This was the week the impossible happened: GOP's "stop Trump" squad (Cruz+Fiorina, Kasich+pizza) dropped out, clearing the runway for Donald Trump, who is now the only candidate actively running for the Republican nomination.

So many pundits; so much crow to eat; so little time.

But let's don't fixate on politics. Let's also consider:

Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. ( So says a new study in BMJ. Why are we only learning about it now? Because it's been systematically under-reported. (Duh!) You didn't really think the honor system was a reliable way of handling this kind of info, did you?

How Big Data Harms Poor Communities ( There's a built-in disconnect (have you noticed?) between the cherished principle of "innocent until proven guilty" and the shameless legalized profiling that goes into concocting a credit score. The latter process assumes you are, in fact, guilty of all kinds of things until you redeem yourself by pleasing the nameless money-god algorithms (which, mysteriously, the rich seem to be better at than you or I).

Kleptorenumeration: When the Highest-Paid Jobs Cause the Most Harm (

From the Far Corner of the Basement ( What if it turns out that "what we know for sure" about vegetable fat (good for you) versus animal fat (bad for you) is actually based on junk science that can't be replicated? Except, the failed replication attempts never get published, because negative results seldom do get published.

It's like I say all the time. It's not just psychology that has a replication problem. A lot of science is junk science.

FBI "Shared Responsibility Committee" program raises concerns ( Mr. Orwell, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

Trump Said to Lack Plan for Fundraising, Running Mate Vetting ( This is hysterical. "On the cusp of the Republican nomination, Donald Trump has no blueprint for raising the estimated $1 billion he'd need to take on the Democrats and no process in place to begin vetting vice presidential contenders, according to multiple people familiar with the campaign."

If you don't think Paul Manafort can get Trump elected, you don't know Paul Manafort ( This piece gave me nightmares. (And BTW, in Italian, Manafort literally means strong-hand.)

The movie 'Clinton Cash' is set to premiere the day before the Democratic convention in Philadelphia ( "A trailer for the film, which is directed by M.A. Taylor., features images of blood dripping down piles of cash, Bloomberg News reported." Will reportedly be shown at the Cannes film festival. But honestly, there's nothing new here. And the "I'm with Her" crowd doesn't give a shit in any case. It's just the Clintons being the Clintons.

BOE Commissioners Knew About Purging Voter Rolls, District Leader Says ( Useful additional context on the now-famous dropping of 125,000 names from voter rolls in Brooklyn. This kind of bloodless purge happens when a corrupt duopoly seeks to strangle independents and infrequent voters in order to shore up the establishment's power. In other words, it's how you euthanize democracy, the modern way. No need to send anyone to Siberia. Just "disappear" people from the records. A very effective way to silence dissent.

How Big Pharma Drug Pricing Costs Us Our Health ( I think we know how big pharma pricing costs us our health (hence there's no need for this article, as well-intentioned as it is). What authors of articles like this need to do is explain what needs to happen to fix this situation, and how we might get there. We know the current model is broken. What comes next? (Hint: Maybe we start by considering the possibility that profit-based health care is the shittiest possible way to do health care?)

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's Compensation Soars 69 Percent to $42.1 Million ( Also, she'll get another $55 million if for some reason she's terminated without cause (by, say, an acquiring company that wants to sack underperforming deadwood). By the way: How much will you get when you leave your company? Ah yes, well. Maybe you're not pretty enough.

For a while this week, #DropOutHillary was the Number One trending hashtag on Twitter, with well over 400K tweets.

Despite Bernie's superior poll numbers against Trump, it seems we're heading for a situation where Hillary will stagger, bruised and wheezing, over the nomination finish line, grabbing (if barely) the prize she so desperately seeks, the Democratic nomination she was supposed to be able to "put away" back in January; then in February; then in March. Except, even with Hillary's superior name recognition, not to mention super PAC money, a string of closed primaries in which Independents were shut out, Wall Street backing, and 10 years of planning, she still is barely able to out-compete an aging socialist Jew from Vermont.

Some say that what this election season shows (what Trump's success, in particular, shows) is how eager voters are to reject establishment politics, at any cost. On resume alone, Trump is easily the least qualified presidential candidate of the last 100 years; combine that with his absurdly volatile, irrational temperament and you have nothing if not a "screw politics as usual" candidate. Clinton, on the other hand, represents everything about the established political order that so many voters seek to reject: deep ties to Wall Street, the backing of a corrupt DNC apparatus, an extremely hawkish foreign policy outlook, over-the-top arrogance, faith in big government, and a craven venality that somehow compelled her to keep making $200,000-an-hour speeches long after there was no need to. This is someone who hasn't driven a car in 20 years and thinks it's perfectly okay for a Secretary of State to access a private e-mail server with a non-security-hardened Blackberry. The contrast with Trump is stark. And she still doesn't get it! She doesn't get that calling Trump out for being an unpredictable, jingoistic/racist political outsider only reinforces the impression of her as an insider, which people don't want. She paints Trump as "risky" (underscoring her role as the play-it-safe candidate), not considering that maybe voters have reached the point where they want to take a chance on an unqualified outsider, shunning the timid, risk-averse, low-aspiration mindset of Establishment politics. Trump is the mysterious stranger in the fast car who appears out of nowhere and promises the bored, hungry hitchhiker a wilder-than-wild ride beyond city limits. For many, that's just the ticket.

GOP sent 17 of its best Establishent contenders up against Trump. All went down in flames. Now the Democrats want to send their best Establishment politician: Hillary Clinton. Will she land the magic knockout punch that so many others couldn't land? Or go down in flames, like everyone else who's gone up against Trump?

One thing is certain. The rules have changed. In a race where being an outsider is an advantage, Establishment politicians are severely handicapped. Hillary's resume, her long list of "qualifications," is proof of her alignment with an Establishment voters are now rejecting in droves. "Qualifications" of Clinton's sort are now disqualifying. Raw inexperience, by contrast, is not only allowed, but a badge of honor. Up is down. Black is white. People want change at ay cost. Hillary represents the status quo, the opposite of change.

My gut says she won't do well against Trump. Not at all. She doesn't understand the new rules. The system is rigged nowagainst her.
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