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Things Rick Blaine Never Said in Casablanca


Newt’s key mechanism of control

Newt's key mechanism of control

by digby

In which Newt Gingrich scolds people for incivility:

No, no, no, Newt. You wrote the book:

Language: A Key Mechanism of Control

Newt Gingrich's 1996 GOPAC memo

As you know, one of the key points in the GOPAC tapes is that "language matters." In the video "We are a Majority," Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party, along with Agenda, Rules, Attitude and Learning. As the tapes have been used in training sessions across the country and mailed to candidates we have heard a plaintive plea: "I wish I could speak like Newt."

That takes years of practice. But, we believe that you could have a significant impact on your campaign and the way you communicate if we help a little. That is why we have created this list of words and phrases.

This list is prepared so that you might have a directory of words to use in writing literature and mail, in preparing speeches, and in producing electronic media. The words and phrases are powerful. Read them. Memorize as many as possible. And remember that like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used...

Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.

abuse of power
anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs
"compassion" is not enough
criminal rights
failure (fail)
permissive attitude
punish (poor ...)
red tape
status quo
urgent (cy)

A few of his greatest hits:
There is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us. (2008)

The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did. (2010)

The mother killing her two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we have to have change. I think people want to change, and the only way you get change is to vote Republican. (1994)

People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz. (1994)

Democrats will bring to the United States the joys of Soviet-style brutality and the murder of women and children. (1980s)

These people [Democrats] are sick. ... They are so consumed by their own power, by a Mussolini-like ego, that their willingness to run over normal human beings and to destroy honest institutions is unending. (1989)


Bad faith should not be rewarded with the benefit of the doubt

Bad faith should not be rewarded with the benefit of the doubt

by digby

Hey, remember that time Chuck and Nancy and Lindsey and Donald all got together to fix DACA and provide funding for Ann Coulter's wall? And remember when they struck that deal and everyone was celebrating this new era of bipartisan comity until Stephen Miller and John Kelly told Trump he was being a great big wuss puss so he ostentatiously tore up the deal and told the whole group to go to hell? Yeah, I figured you'd remember that.

Well, now he's blaming Democrats for failing to pass a bill out of the House that doesn't need any Democratic votes. (It won't pass because Trump's buddies in the Freedom Caucus don't think it causes enough pain and agony.) And now we have fatuous fools like GOP Congressman Michael McCaul backing him up for the benefit of idiot Trump voters who watch Fox when asked if Trump is off base with his blame game:

"Well, I think our family needs to come together, but the fact is every Democrat voted against a very rational DACA fix. They've been talking about DACA for a year now, and we had a bill on the floor that would resolve this issue, legalize the DACA kids, and yet every one of them voted against that. I don't think that's operating in good faith either.

And I also think it's important on the border security piece — I've been doing this since I was a federal prosecutor in Texas to chairman of this committee — to deliver on the President's campaign promise, to build the wall, the technology and get the border secure."

Sorry. These Republicans made this toxic, poisonous bed and they have to lie in it. The bill in questions would have curbed legal immigration, given DACA recipients a temporary reprieve so that Trump can hold the futures of 800 thousand kids over their heads as a weapon, and funded his stupid goddamned wall. And he probably wouldn't have signed it anyway.

This is all police state crapola and Democrats are doing the right thing by resisting the urge to "negotiate" with the cheating conman in the White House again.


“We gutted it”

"We gutted it"

by digby

He loves to talk about "gutting", usually in a literal sense when he luridly describes people being slashed, stabbed, cut etc. He gets very stimulated by it.

But he made a huge mistake yesterday in Nevada using that term in a different context:

It may seem obvious that this is a loser for Trump and new survey results from Peter Hart bear that out. People are particularly upset by the administration's decision not to defend the law's ban on insurance companies discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.

I think it's quite likely you're going to be seeing that "gutted" comment in some ads this fall.

And once again, I have to wonder about the soulless assholes who clap and cheer for this cretin slamming John McCain and bragging that he has gutted the health care system. Who does that?


It’s a media show, Glenn

It's a media show, Glenn

by digby

Brian Stelter is the media reporter for CNN. For some reason Glenn Beck got offended when he asked him about his media company:

They are so used to being fluffed by fellow wingnuts that they've lost the capacity to live in the real world.


Some juicy gossip to make your day

Some juicy gossip to make your day

by digby

I'm just going to throw this out there:
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-Va.) hosted a dinner Friday night for more than 100 guests at his house on Martha’s Vineyard as part of the DSCC’S annual Majority Trust retreat. OVERHEARD: Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, joking to the crowd: “If you get me one more glass of wine, I’ll tell you stuff only Bob Mueller and I know. If you think you’ve seen wild stuff so far, buckle up. It’s going to be a wild couple of months.”

Marcy Wheeler is reading those tea leaves:

The Mueller investigation is, I suspect, coming to a head. 
I don’t claim I know how it will turn out. The president has an enormous amount of power and his flunkies in Congress promise they’re about to end Rod Rosenstein’s bend-don’t-break defense by impeaching him (though Rosenstein and Chris Wray have just thrown more documents out to slow the Republicans). It’s certainly possible that Trump will make a last ditch effort to undercut the Mueller investigation and that effort will be competently executed and none of the secondary fall-back defenses Mueller has put into place will work. For now, though, the Trump team seems intent on a delay and discredit strategy, which won’t stave off any imminent steps. 
So we shall see whether Trump succeeds in undercutting the investigation. I keep thinking, “that’s why they play the game,” but this is no game. 
There are a number of reasons I think Mueller’s investigation is coming to a head. But consider one detail. I’ve long explained that Mueller seems to be building a series of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States indictments that will ultimately incorporate the entire Russian operation (and may integrate the Trumpsters’ international self-dealing as well). As Mueller’s team has itself pointed out, for heavily regulated areas like elections, ConFraudUs indictments don’t need to prove intent for the underlying crimes. They just need to prove,

(1) two or more persons formed an agreement to defraud the United States; 

(2) [each] defendant knowingly participated in the conspiracy with the intent to defraud the United States; and 
(3) at least one overt act was committed in furtherance of the common scheme. 
Let’s see how evidence Mueller has recently shown might apply in the case of Roger Stone, Trump’s lifelong political advisor. 
Go ooooon ...

She gives the rundown on how this law might be applied to old Rog. It's very interesting.

Her conclusion:

This is just one of the people Mueller has publicly focused on in recent days. We could lay out similar arguments for Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Brad Parscale, at a minimum. Mueller had — and acted on — probable cause warrants covering five AT&T phones in March, all of which probably had close ties to Rick Gates. Assuming those targets are distributed proportionately with the US population, he’s likely to have obtained warrants for as many as 15 phones just in that go-around. 
So if Roger Stone is any indication, the Mueller investigation may soon be moving into a new phase.


John Has a Long Mustache…That He Keeps Tight With Harry’s Razors*

Trying to imagine what the WWII European resistance movements would have been like if they had to scare up corporate underwriters.

Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, the revolution may not be televised, but it will definitely be sponsored.

*Radio London


Godwin speaks

Godwin speaks

by digby

I'm getting very tired of people telling me and others who are screaming as this slow motion neo-fascim unfolds to shut up and don't make trouble. Liberals love to argue over tactics and strategies endlessly and worry constantly about a "backlash."  The news this morning is all about how the Trump base is getting riled up because their opponents are getting riled up. 

That is fascism,  my friends.

The man who coined the concept of Godwin's Law has something to say:

Does Godwin’s Law need to be updated? Suspended? Repealed? I get asked this question from time to time because I’m the guy who came up with it more than a quarter century ago.

In its original simple form, Godwin’s Law goes like this: “As an online discussion continues, the probability of a comparison to Hitler or to Nazis approaches one.” It’s deliberately pseudo-scientific — meant to evoke the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the inevitable decay of physical systems over time. My goal was to hint that those who escalate a debate into Adolf Hitler or Nazi comparisons may be thinking lazily, not adding clarity or wisdom, and contributing to the decay of an argument over time.

Godwin’s Law doesn’t belong to me, and nobody elected me to be in charge of it. Although I’m sometimes thought to be referee for its use, I’m not. That said, I do have thoughts about how it is being invoked nowadays.

Since it was released into the wilds of the internet in 1991, Godwin’s Law (which I nowadays abbreviate to “GL”) has been frequently reduced to a blurrier notion: that whenever someone compares anything current to Nazis or Hitler it means the discussion is over, or that that person lost the argument. It’s also sometimes used (reflexively, lazily) to suggest that anyone who invokes a comparison to Nazis or Hitler has somehow “broken” the Law, and thus demonstrated their failure to grasp what made the Holocaust uniquely horrific.

Most recently GL has been invoked in response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy that resulted in the traumatic separation of would-be immigrants from their children, many of whom are now warehoused in tent cities or the occasional repurposed Walmart. For example, former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden — no squishy bleeding heart — posted a couple of tweets on June 16 that likened that policy to the Nazis’ treatment of children in Germany’s concentration camps. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (a Democrat but also a security hawk) has made the comparison as well.

The response has been predictable: Debate for some people has been derailed by the trivial objection that, even if it is terrible to separate children from their parents (and sometimes lose track of them, or make it impossible for their parents contact them, or even deprive them of the comfort of human touch), it’s not as awful as what the Nazis did. Or as bad as the slave trade. Or as bad as what the expansion of the United States westward did to Native Americans.

My name gets cited in a lot of these discussions. And of course my ears are burning. It hasn’t mattered that I’ve explained GL countless times. Some critics on the left have blamed me for (supposedly) having shut down valid comparisons to the Holocaust or previous atrocities. Some on the right have insisted that I’m “PC” for having tweeted (a bit profanely) that it’s just fine to compare the white nationalists who plagued Charlottesville, Va., last year to Nazis. (I think they were mostly aspirational Nazi cos players.)

I don’t take either strain of criticism too seriously. But I do want to stress that the question of evil, understood historically, is bigger than party politics. GL is about remembering history well enough to draw parallels — sometimes with Hitler or with Nazis, sure — that are deeply considered. That matter. Sometimes those comparisons are going to be appropriate, and on those occasions GL should function less as a conversation ender and more as a conversation starter.

So let me start another conversation here. Take the argument that our treatment of those seeking asylum at our border, including children, is not as monstrous as institutionalized genocide. That may be true, but it’s not what you’d call a compelling defense. Similarly, saying (disingenuously) that the administration is just doing what immigration law demands sounds suspiciously like “we were just following orders.” That argument isn’t a good look on anyone.

The seeds of future horrors are sometimes visible in the first steps a government takes toward institutionalizing cruelty. In his 1957 book “Language of the Third Reich,” Victor Klemperer recounted how, at the beginning of the Nazi regime, he “was still so used to living in a state governed by the rule of law” that he couldn’t imagine the horrors yet to come. “Regardless of how much worse it was going to get,” he added, “everything which was later to emerge in terms of National Socialist attitudes, actions and language was already apparent in embryonic form in these first months.”

So I don’t think GL needs to be updated or amended. It still serves us as a tool to recognize specious comparisons to Nazism — but also, by contrast, to recognize comparisons that aren’t. And sometimes the comparisons can spot the earliest symptoms of horrific “attitudes, actions and language” well before our society falls prey to the full-blown disease.

By all means cite GL if you think some Nazi comparison is baseless, needlessly inflammatory or hyperbolic. But Godwin’s Law was never meant to block us from challenging the institutionalization of cruelty or the callousness of officials who claim to be just following the law. It definitely wasn’t meant to shield our leaders from being slammed for the current fashion of pitching falsehoods as fact. These behaviors, distressing as they are, may not yet add up to a new Reich, but please forgive me for worrying that they’re the “embryonic form” of a horror we hoped we had put behind us.


Overcoming The Illusion of Per Project Profitability

The illusion of per-project profitability can be a tough mindset nut to crack. I’ll talk with digital agency owners that say things like, “I have a 70% profit margin!” What they are telling me is that they have a seventy percent gross profit margin. They sell a project for $10k and pay some offshore team $3k to deliver it.

What they fail to consider is their business’s fixed costs – or their competitive wage – into the equation. The reason these numbers are significant is that they happen every month, regardless of how many projects you bring in. Your mortgage doesn’t care how fat your per-project margins are, just that you have their dough every month, relentlessly for 360 months.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say how profitable his or her work is, only to discover that his or her business is unprofitable. I will hammer this point until all agency owners understand it, or you decide to punch me in the face.

How This Works

The math to figure this out is simple. The problem I find when consulting with most digital agency owners, especially those with agencies less than a million dollars a year, is that they don’t pay themselves a fixed wage. They pay themselves whatever is left over at the end of the week or month (or they charge those plane tickets for their upcoming vacation to their business credit card because their personal account is broke – I speak from experience).

To figure out profitability, I always ask an agency owner to tell me what they should get paid every month. Thinking about their salary makes the math I’m about to show them more painful, but alas, more realistic. Let’s take a virtual agency of one as a baseline example. They sell $10,000 projects here and there, and the owner (should) makes a $60k per year salary with another thousand in fixed costs for hosting, internet and the like.

That scenario looks something like this:

  Month 1 Month 2 Month 3
Revenue $10,000 $0 $10,000
COGS/Labor $4,000 $0 $4,000
Gross Margin $6,000 $0 $6,000
Fixed Op Ex $6,000 $6,000 $6,000
Net Profit $0 -$6,000 $0

This business is now $6,000 in the hole. Since the owner isn’t paying themselves a fixed wage, they don’t pay themselves that second month and might still hold the illusion that the business is ok, they just are putting in sweat equity or something.

No, the business is not ok, and you’re not ok.

Wake Up Now

Before I showed this digital agency owner this math on the back of a napkin, they had proclaimed to me that their work was indeed profitable. My response is, “who cares, you’re not getting paid, and the business is redlining!”

At this point, I usually ask something like:

“How does it feel to know what’s going on in your business?”

Which gets a response of varying degrees of:

“It makes me depressed.”

Good. An unprofitable business makes me depressed too. However, now we know. And the more we know about what is going on, the more clear we are on the actual issues at hand. We can solve problems with better solutions than just not paying us.

“Deciding not to pay yourself to solve a business problem should be the last solution on the table. Not the go to each month because you are avoiding hard decisions.”

When people realize this injustice they are putting on themselves, I want them to go to bed fuming. I want them to think, “How have I let this happen?!”

We can put that energy and frustration to good use.

Channeling the Energy

If we run with the above example, we could make two relatively simple changes to this business and see lasting benefits.

The first would be a small update to their pricing model. I’m not talking about getting all hardcore by doubling their prices (which wouldn’t be wrong, but probably a bit reckless). In my head, I would be targeting at least a 15% net margin after paying themselves a wage. Since this example uses nice round numbers, month one and three operate at a 0% margin, so we can raise prices by 15% with everything else holding true we’d have the target margin.

The second would be to hammer into their head that they need to sell a $10k project EVERY month. If they told me that they didn’t get that many leads, then we’d solve that problem. If they said to me that they couldn’t deliver that much work, then we’d solve that problem. With enough time maybe we’d solve both problems.

With those two changes, here is how their situation changes:

  Month 1 Month 2 Month 3
Revenue $11,500 $11,500 $11,500
COGS/Labor $4,000 $4,000 $4,000
Gross Margin $7,500 $7,500 $7,500
Fixed Op Ex $6,000 $6,000 $6,000
Net Profit $1,500 $1,500 $1,500

Now we have true profit! The magic of pricing and volume.

Your Marching Orders

Getting clear on this issue in your business requires you to get clear on your financial numbers. I have been (unpleasantly) surprised at how many agency owners are not clear on this. This issue doesn’t affect the small shops as I illustrated in my example. I’ve worked with agencies with over $100k in monthly revenue that were unprofitable (but were convinced that shouldn’t be so because of the per-project illusion!).

The other thing that I demand of people is that they set a baseline salary for themselves and any other owner. The more this number equals a competitive wage for the position you fill in your business the more accurate our net margin number will be.

It’s just too easy for an agency owner to vary their pay and push this issue under the rug. Maybe it’s because we get beat around by our clients so much that we don’t think our salary is that important.

When in fact, it’s the MOST IMPORTANT NUMBER when running a business. When an airplane is going down, you put your oxygen mask on first. Then you take care of those around you. If your pay fluctuates, you lose respect for yourself. Your peers or spouse will think your business is not dependable. These views will seep into your mindset.

If you don’t pay yourself regularly, the chances of you going out of business go up significantly. Set a target wage. Get clear on your fixed monthly expenses. Make sure you track your company’s monthly performance.

How much margin you make on an individual project matters. Putting that number in the context of your month-to-month profit and loss statement is more important. I’d rather hear you say, “I have a 15% profit margin!” and for that to be real business profit margin after paying yourself a competitive wage than some 70% blasphemy.

If you don’t know this stuff, stop what you are doing, and figure it out RIGHT NOW. That client can wait. Your future depends on it.


You can’t eat this red meat by @BloggersRUs

You can't eat this red meat

by Tom Sullivan

SNAP benefits lag behind need, even as the GOP mulls different ways to cut back on food aid (CityLab, 2/23/18)

Schoolyard taunts won't feed your family. Nor will they heal you when you fall ill. Nor ripping infants and toddlers from vulnerable parents. It might draw international opprobrium. But you can't pay your bills with that or eat it either. (I'll spare you the Jonathan Swift references this morning.)

But the behaviors modeled by the White House and congressional majority raise the question: Just what is the president and the party of Trump selling? Fear in greater potency? Cruelty in higher doses? Because their version of American greatness looks a lot like a United States marginalized on the world stage, a world power in decline. Maybe even regressing to a time in history when it wasn't one.

Granted, America's rivals in the world that would welcome that. Some of them are the president's friends. Some are his financiers and creditors too, as investigations may yet prove (since his unreleased tax returns did not).

So after all the boasting, lies, and taunts, after all the incompetence and corruption, what exactly is the party of Trump delivering for Americans?

Well, a return to a health system in which a preexisting condition can be a death sentence. So there's that.

An exacerbated level of inequality and poverty in which "contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound." But since that might actually have been a byproduct and not their aim, it's not clear whether that counts as a failure or accomplishment.

Two Harvard scientists predict rollbacks to environmental regulations under the Trump administration could result in 80,000 extra deaths per decade. More toxic air and drinking water. Higher exposure to toxic chemicals. That's probably a plus for someone with a Capitol Hill lobbyist, but not likely for you or your kids.

With help from the Freedom Caucus, Republicans in the House advanced the 2018 farm bill without a single Democratic vote and with 20 Republicans dissenting. The bill passed Thursday includes $20 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP:

“It’s shocking that the House would pass this kind of harsh farm bill that betrays the long-standing bipartisan commitment to making sure that people who are struggling have enough to eat,” said Stephen Knight, director of policy and partnerships at the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which estimates that 110,000 Alameda County residents are enrolled in CalFresh, the state’s version of SNAP, 60 percent of them children. “With wages falling and inequality growing in our country, protecting and strengthening SNAP is essential.”
Just not to the party of Trump. Not picking winners and losers doesn't count when it comes to hunger. The party wants stricter work requirements for the poor even as it eases up on the rich.

A proposal to remove regulation of food safety (for everythying except meat and fish) from the HHS to the USDA:

Right now, the USDA and HHS split the task of regulating food safety. One big difference is that while HHS only has to regulate food safety, the USDA is required by the government to both promote agriculture and regulate it. In the past, this has created an awkward relationship in which powerful meat interest groups have held political sway within the department.
So, placing public food safety under the agency also charged with promoting the financial interests of producers. A very Trump move, to be sure.

Could be it's not just metaphorical red meat you cannot eat.

* * * * * * * *

For The Win 2018 is ready for download. Request a copy of my county-level election mechanics primer at tom.bluecentury at gmail.


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