In the United States, even the Vice President’s Family is Not Safe from Financial Ruin

This story by Vice President Biden reflects, better than anything, what the American Dream has become and why we need the changes Bernie Sanders is talking about.

When Biden’s son was sick, he realized that he might not be able to continue working as Delaware’s Attorney General. But as it is with most middle class families, even those making relatively good salaries, they didn’t have enough money to live off if he had to resign. So the Vice-President and his wife talked about it and decided to sell their house if it came to it.

Now, the story as it’s reported is of how President Obama stepped in and offered to help financially.  The real story, however, is that we live in a country where even the family of the Vice-President of the United States is an illness away from financial ruin.  

This is not the country we should live in.

Who is Dayani Crystal?

dyaniMovie recommendations: Who is Dayani Crystal? A documentary that tries to find out who one of the many men found dead in the Arizona desert was. It’s available on Netflix streaming now.

I tend to make light of Donald Trump, I’m amused at how he has repackaged the far-right’s talking points into plain talk.  He has scared the hell out of the Republican establishment which figured they could use the rhetoric of xenophobia to command the votes of that part of the electorate whose feelings of financial insecurity – as Hitler described in Mein Kampf – make them easy targets for any sort of chauvinistic messaging.

There is some sordid pleasure in seeing the Republican establishment being bit on the butt by the monster they created.  And I honestly don’t think that Trump means anything he says. I think he’d just as likely to say exactly the opposite if it’d got him the same adulation – but liberals are not as easily fooled (or at least I hope we are not, Hillary Clinton notwithstanding).

But then I go back and think about the men and women who have died in the desert because the US government spends so many resources trying to keep desperate people looking for jobs out. I don’t think Donald Trump is Hitler nor do I believe most Americans would condone a genocide. And yet, isn’t this how it starts? By saying – through our votes – that it’s OK to establish policies that will kill people?  Indeed, by tacitly determining that there are people whose life does not matter?

Watch the documentary, then come back.

Now that you’ve watched it, did you find it a little discomforting to have Gael García Bernal standing for the dead man? I love García Bernal, I think he is one of the best and most revolutionary actors of his generation.  But he also has such an upper class Mexican accent, speaks so eloquently (he’s an actor after all) and is so good looking and famous, that it makes me wonder if the impact of the documentary is that I cannot possibly imagine a man looking and sounding like García Bernal, dying in the desert. That tragedy has greater impact because it’s unexpected, but it is not “Dayani Cristal”‘s tragedy.  As much as I appreciate the fact that García Bernal got this movie made, his presence in the film ultimately looks as misery tourism.

It’s Open Season on Hillary Clinton

Hillary-Clinton-1200I’m starting to feel sorry for Hillary Clinton.  It looks like the Obama administration is throwing her under the bus (justifiably, mind you) with the full complicity of the media.  I anticipate that Biden will be announcing he’s running for President very soon.

Meanwhile, Hillary is finding enemies on all sides:

1 – Two days ago, CNN released a poll that had Hillary at 42%, Sanders at 24% and Biden at 22%. The headlines everywhere were about how Hillary was widening her lead. Today, a Bloomberg poll shows Hillary at 33%, Biden at 25% and Sanders at 24%. The two polls are within the margin of error of each other. However, the headlines today were all about how Biden is competitive with Hillary, how this is a 3-person race or, specially in the conservative press, how Hillary is on the outs.

2 – Meanwhile, for no apparent reason, the State Department decided to clarify that they asked Hillary specifically for her e-mails when they noticed that they didn’t have them, and only later they asked other former secretary of states. The story is sold as Hillary fibbing/lying as to the timeline of what happened.

3 – Soon after, we find out that – as expected – the FBI has recovered some of her deleted e-mails. The headlines are that these are deleted “personal and work e-mails“, though no details of what work e-mails were deleted have come out.  Of course, if she did delete work e-mails that would mean that she both lied and broke the law.  And I think we can all be sure that she deleted work e-mails because that’s the only reason why anyone would get a private server in the first place.

4 – Meanwhile, the court chastises the State Department for not turning in even more Benghazi related e-mails.

5 – As if this was not enough, online tabloids are all excited about a new book to come out next week with all sorts of nasty details about Hillary – including the suggestion that she yelled at Obama and told him to “call off his fucking dogs”.  The writer of the book is described as a former Newsweek editor – but it turns out that it’s been decades since he’s done serious journalism and since then he’s been writing pulp books about politicians filled with disgusting claims. Not helping their case, Clinton’s spokesperson’s response was to call the claims “bullshit”.

6 – Trump, a genius at seizing the moment, is going on a rampage blaming Hillary for “birtherism”.  Hillary has to come out and defend herself against what seem to be plain false accusations.

7- To add insult to injury, it’s left to Republican Carly Fiorina to express empathy for Clinton.

And I thought that House of Cards and Scandal were fiction!  Personally, I just hope that Hillary and Biden mutually destroy each other and leave room for Bernie Sanders​.

Bay Area Daily Deal Sites

I wrote the entry below on July 16, 2011.  Four years later most of the daily deal sites have disappeared; sometimes their domains have been bought by others.  The deals are no longer daily either, they now remain for days, weeks or months at a time.  Still, a couple of other sites have been added to the survivors, and there are some good deals to be had. Here are the ones I use:

Amazon Local

Similar variety of offerings than Groupon, but fewer offers.

Groupon

The site that started it all

Travel Zoo

It often has flash listings for nice restaurants.

Still Around but Barely

Living Social: It’s still going but seems to specialize in getaway and shares many of its local listings with Groupon.

Gilt City: barely any listings for San Francisco

Plumdistrict: few for San Francisco, even fewer for the East Bay

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I have to admit that I was a very late adopter of Groupon and other Daily Deal sites. I had checked out Groupon early, but as most of their deals were in San Francisco I had paid it no mind. But a little while ago I came across these sort of sites again and realized that many now have offering for the East Bay and even San Leandro. It’s also amazing just how many daily deal sites there are out there that cover the Bay Area, though East Bay deals are less common, there are still quite a few of them. Here are the sites I’ve found. If you know of others, let me know. And if you know of a service that aggregates all the deals into one daily e-mail, please let me know as well. You can see many (but not all) daily deals at Savvy Cities.

Groupon

Got Daily Deals

SFGate Daily Deals

Google Offers

Living Social

Buy With Me (now Gilt City)

Mamasource – children & mom oriented stuff

Bloomspot – travel, food & relaxation

Juice in the City

Plumdistrict

Goldstar – Event tickets