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Post By
Late Great Donald Blake 
Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,563
In Reply To
zvelf

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Subj: So if you agree the Dems aren't doing enough, how is glowing approval going to encourage them to do better?
Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2022 at 04:11:21 pm EDT (Viewed 266 times)
Reply Subj: Re: It seems like you're assuming whatever the Democrats are doing is the best that can be done.
Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2022 at 11:28:01 am EDT (Viewed 209 times)

Previous Post


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    First, yes this is all better than the the Republicans would do... that should go without saying...



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    I imagine your reply will say this an awful alot lol


Actually, I'm not going to say it once in this reply.


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    ...but most of these measures are basically insufficient and the question is WHY? Usually because in order to get any approval from the Democratic Party's actual constituency, these things have to be sufficiently defanged or watered down or others be made a massive give away to financial or other business interests and basicallythe upper 1%. And if we dig into the details that's what we find. I mean


It seems like this is a response you wrote before even reading the entirety of my post, which already states what you just stated. And what does "sufficient" legislation even mean? You think a single bill can solve all of climate change? A single bill can solve COVID? A single bill can solve all aging infrastructure issues? A single bill can solve all the problems of the healthcare industry? No bill is ever "sufficient" and none of these ever could have been. But you seem to believe that some utopian government is possible where politicians who are not indebted to any interests can solve any problem. That world does not exist.


    Quote:
    Also pointing to low unemployment as a sign of economic prosperity is a misleading and desperate measure... for the same reason it was a poor metric when the Trump administration tried to use it... because it doesn't tell you much about whether the income is enough to comfortably afford necessary expenditures. Or the quality of those jobs or anything else.


True, but all other things being equal, low unemployment is still much better than high unemployment.


    Quote:
    Also listing all these pieces of legislation with basically just the administration's tag lines attached I think should be taken with heaps of salt. We can get into detail, but basically you should be asking yourselves to what degree do these pieces of legislation meet the problems they're meant to address and to the degree they don't, then why don't they.


Strangely, this is what you criticize me for. This is vague criticism that can be a response to anything and isn't meaningful without details.


    Quote:
    You seem to clutch onto this regulatory idea that these are the pieces of legislation that were passed since the Democrats have taken office and definitionally they must have done the best the could and that must imply that this is the best that can be done. Which seems like a really bad way of evaluating a political situation. Or rather a forgone way of not evaluating it.


Again, this assumption is yours alone and belies your actually reading what I wrote which blatantly states that this is not the best Dems could have done - literally "there is a lot that Democrats can be criticized for" but somehow what you erroneously expect from my posts blinds you to the actual content of my posts.


    Quote:
    You say these are a mixed bag. Yeah everything is, but "subject to the sausage making compromise inherent to the legislative process" is basically just the universal solvent by which any criticism is dismissed. With this rubric which you could apply to ANY piece of legislation that you're party passes, you can justify anything.


How can I be dismissing criticism when I literally wrote, "there is a lot that Democrats can be criticized for" and then listed my criticism with specific details: "fails to ban assault rifles, the CHIPS Act is partly a giveaway to some big companies that don’t need the money"?


    Quote:
    From my perspective it's the President and the Congress doing what they can to represent the coalitions that empower them: rich donors and business interests and the libs who are ideologically dependent on the thought of Democratic Party (as it is) being a
    benevolent force for good and the limit of our politics.


And below, you accuse me of cynicism. This is one of those cynical generalizations/broadsides that applies to any political party, isn't all that meaningful, and doesn't look at the details. What political party doesn't represent the coalitions that empower them? What political party takes zero account of business interests? What political party doesn't think they are doing good? About those details and being beholden to business interests, this modestly named Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 which will very likely pass this week is going to do something Big Pharma has blocked for decades - allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Yes, this negotiation has restrictions that will initially limit the negotiation to 10 drugs, but it will broaden over time. Is it "sufficient" to solve drug pricing issues? Of course not, but it's overcoming a major hurdle and it is a big win over Big Pharma in context. So this bill lowers prescription drug prices (against big business interests), imposes a 15% corporate minimum tax rate that will bring in $313 billion (against big business interests), adds a 1% tax on stock buybacks (against big business interests and the interests of the very rich), increases enforcement of tax collection (against the interests of the rich), and invests heavily in clean energy. Given your previous posts and your ideology, I know there is never anything Democrats can do that would be "sufficient" for you, but climate groups are praising what is in this bill, some with superlatives and some with qualifications, but mostly praise which is worth something (https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/07/climate-groups-react-to-senate-passing-the-inflation-reduction-act.html).



    Quote:
    What I think is curious here is the point of your post. I respect it as an argument. But what I mean is the idea of trying to convince people that despite their own experience and intuitions about the state of the country and the economy, things are quite good or at least as good as they can reasonably be expected to be.


Except that is not what I am doing. If you read my last post in a debate we were having carefully (https://comicboards.com/php/show.php?rpy=community-2022051703335937), one to which you never responded, I stated what I was doing then and it is what I am doing now: "Now you can characterize everything I wrote as being an apologist to a Democratic Party that I am only half invested in, but what I am actually doing is shading the gray because all you want to do is focus on how Dems and Republicans are alike even as you condemn Dems more than Republicans. I want to focus on their differences so people know where to vote their interests." Now that post and my original post in this thread deal with a lot of grays, but you seem to insist on seeing everything in black and white, particularly this things are as "good as they can reasonably be expected to be" straw-man refrain which I have never ever stated but which you impute to me.


    Quote:
    In other words when you look at Biden's low approval ratings, that isn't itself data. It isn't the case that those low approval ratings are evidence that that many people aren't doing well, but that those people are in fact mistaken. They just don't understand how "overall" good things are. That just appears cynical. And while I can see why Dem apperatchiks are putting this out there. They have to. They have to sell the party. But when liberals do this it looks an awful lot like middle class people having more sympathy with the powerful and the institutions that serve them than for the people those institutions have failed and are failing.


The irony of your using Biden's low approval ratings as an example is that you earlier blew off my using Clinton and Obama's high approval ratings as an example. You can't have it both ways. It's hypocrisy. I can turn your exact argument against you: "It isn't the case that those high approval ratings are evidence that that many people are doing well, but that those people are in fact mistaken. They just don't understand how "overall" bad things are. That just appears cynical." In any case, regarding Biden's approval ratings, I do think Biden is doing an overall bad job. That doesn't mean that the Democratic Party as a whole hasn't passed some significant and good legislation. But saying that means going into the details and getting into the gray, the opposite of generalizations that a political party is beholden to business interests and so can never do anything "sufficient."

Actually, I'm not going to say it once in this reply.

LGDB: progress




It seems like this is a response you wrote before even reading the entirety of my post, which already states what you just stated. And what does "sufficient" legislation even mean? You think a single bill can solve all of climate change? A single bill can solve COVID? A single bill can solve all aging infrastructure issues? A single bill can solve all the problems of the healthcare industry? No bill is ever "sufficient" and none of these ever could have been. But you seem to believe that some utopian government is possible where politicians who are not indebted to any interests can solve any problem. That world does not exist.


LGDB: Sufficient legislation isn't some kind of jargon. It means what the denotation of those words mean. Legislation sufficient to deal with the problems that the legislation is supposedly meant to deal with. I understand that's not a totally binary concept, but to the degree legislation can be considered not good enough, that's what is meant. Let's not try to define away a thing that's obviously potentially real in the world.


You're attributing to me some utopian ideal which is silly. Foremost you're creating a false dilemma where anyone who has a political critique or suggests that we're being fundamentally failed by our legislators or political parties is utopian. As if the only two possible worlds we have to choose from are either this world as it is or the perfect one.

To the specifics, first, you can get a lot done with a single bill. The ACA was a single bill and it was a gigantic (poorly conceived, and reactionary) overhaul. Reconciliation though complicated and long in its process is similar to a single bill. Furthermore, this misses the point, whether one bill or a menagerie of bills generally this legislative session (just as an example) has failed once again to meet the moment.  The issue isn't that I expect Rome to be built in a day.  It's that the reach of our legislation are delimited not by democratic will, but by the will of powerful private interests.  


And as far as saying "indebted to interests" yeah this isn't something you should be accepting as if it's a neutral aspect of Washington culture. And there's another name for what you're talking about. It's called corruption. The system is justified on the basis that it's democratic in its nature, or at least it's supposed to be. Politicians being indebted to financial interests is diametrically oppositional to the idea of a democratic political situation. It's not something to accept much less try to justify.




True, but all other things being equal, low unemployment is still much better than high unemployment.

LGDB: yes, but still insignificant. You weren't using it as a metric in isolation as a "I'm just saying this is better than its opposite." You were suggesting it was evidence of a healthy economy, which it isn't. It is the kind of data though a political party would use to pad its resume.



Strangely, this is what you criticize me for. This is vague criticism that can be a response to anything and isn't meaningful without details.


LGDB: That's because you're taking it out of context. This is a distillation of a broad point of view. It's not meant to be specific. And I agree, without details it doesn't say much. But I was responding to your uncritical list of legislative "accomplishments." My very point is that without details that list of legislation doesn't amount to much. You're just taking each one and giving it a brief fluffy glowing description.




Again, this assumption is yours alone and belies your actually reading what I wrote which blatantly states that this is not the best Dems could have done - literally "there is a lot that Democrats can be criticized for" but somehow what you erroneously expect from my posts blinds you to the actual content of my posts.


LGDB: Yes, but I think that's disingenuous. The thrust of your point is that the Dems are doing a pretty good job all things considered. It doesn't really matter much that you include something like "Well hey it could have been better, but nothing's perfect..." before your conclusion that "under the circumstances they really are doing their best for the American people." This is little more than saying "all due respect" before you say someone's sister is loose or something.

If your problem here is that I didn't recognize content in your post. Let me do that. I recognize you gave a sort of boiler plate admission that the Democrats are not super heroes or angels.




How can I be dismissing criticism when I literally wrote, "there is a lot that Democrats can be criticized for" and then listed my criticism with specific details: "fails to ban assault rifles, the CHIPS Act is partly a giveaway to some big companies that don’t need the money"?


LGDB: Yeah, your MENTIONING criticism doesn't mean you're not dismissing it. Your conclusion that despite these things you've mentioned, which by the way you just mention in passing without engaging with or explaining how they're not fundamentally damning, we should understand that the Dem party is basically on the right track, doing their best, and by implication are in no need of serious reform such that they could actually represent the interests of the American people.

Again... I take note of your caveats, but I'm disputing your conclusion.






And below, you accuse me of cynicism. This is one of those cynical generalizations/broadsides that applies to any political party, isn't all that meaningful, and doesn't look at the details. What political party doesn't represent the coalitions that empower them? What political party takes zero account of business interests? What political party doesn't think they are doing good? About those details and being beholden to business interests, this modestly named Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 which will very likely pass this week is going to do something Big Pharma has blocked for decades - allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Yes, this negotiation has restrictions that will initially limit the negotiation to 10 drugs, but it will broaden over time. Is it "sufficient" to solve drug pricing issues? Of course not, but it's overcoming a major hurdle and it is a big win over Big Pharma in context. So this bill lowers prescription drug prices (against big business interests), imposes a 15% corporate minimum tax rate that will bring in $313 billion (against big business interests), adds a 1% tax on stock buybacks (against big business interests and the interests of the very rich), increases enforcement of tax collection (against the interests of the rich), and invests heavily in clean energy. Given your previous posts and your ideology, I know there is never anything Democrats can do that would be "sufficient" for you, but climate groups are praising what is in this bill, some with superlatives and some with qualifications, but mostly praise which is worth something (https://www.cnbc.com/2022/08/07/climate-groups-react-to-senate-passing-the-inflation-reduction-act.html).



LGDB: So here you have me wrong on several counts. First off you and I are using the word cynically very differently. The idea that political parties are beholden to the coalitions that empower them isn't a cynical statement. It's a mechanistic one. And it's basically a truism. And I agree it's obvious and not worth mentioning... except when it's not observed by someone who's confused or ideologically committed to ignoring it (let's say).

This is also way of you trying to smuggle in a "better than the Republicans" comparison with "what party doesn't!?" Foremost my claim is that we have two major parties who are both deeply corrupt; if you mean what other current party can I point to that isn't seriously corrupt, well obviously none. But let's be very specific here. You ask:


"What political party doesn't represent the coalitions that empower them? What political party takes zero account of business interests? What political party doesn't think they are doing good?


This is confused. My issue isn't that the Democratic party represents the coalitions that empower it. That's of a necessity. My issue is WHAT CONSTITUTES those coalitions. They're dominated by massive business interests as opposed to working people and their institutions. Shareholders not stakeholders, so to speak. And it isn't that the Democratic Party "takes account of business interests" it's that (as you probably know) its legislative agenda is more or less designed by the business sector. For the most part Big Finance, Big Healthcare, and Big Tech, but also a number of others. Democratic voters on the other hand are mostly just choosing the agenda instead of its monstrous competition with the Republicans, which is barely a choice if one at all.

And literally our own country in its not too distant past has counter examples. There were periods, most markedly during the New Deal, when the Democratic party had a more eclectic coalition of various groups up and down the economic strata. Of course the business sector always had buy in with the government and the public sector generally, but we're living in a time of pretty extreme grift and privatization which you are I think very sadly mistaking for the limit of public or working class participation in politics. It absolutely is the case that the Democratic party could be an actual labor party or at least mostly constituted by organizations that represent working class interest (which means chiefly labor unions but also others). Or at least have a more mix distribution. But they won't if liberals don't get it out of their head that they can't and it's fine if they don't, it probably never will.

And as far as, "what party doesn't think it's doing good?" First of all, are YOU the party? As I've said it's party insiders and paid lobbyists' and pundits' job to say the parties doing well regardless of circumstances. How do you fit in to that? And I have no problem with people wanting to like the Dems so long as as they're not patently ignoring evidence just to affirm an ideological bias.




As to the Pharma aspects of the Bill I'd encourage you to look into anyone offering any criticism of it to get a fuller picture. Above is your basically describing the sales job around it. Above you don't address any of the criticism against it. You just don't seem aware of them. If you are aware then it's curious to exclude them. So as you mention only 10 drugs are able to be negotiated and that's by 2026. 20 more can be included in that by 2029. But the bill was going to include provisions to punish companies for inflating their prices in the private sector. Those provisions were removed and so there's a very serious limit to what this bill will do to reduce prices for most people in the country, i.e. people who get their drugs from private insurance. Or as Politico reported: "The exclusion of the private insurance price limits means there is little left that will reduce costs for the vast majority of Americans who receive health insurance through their private sector employer."

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/06/dems-health-agenda-spending-bill-00047520?nname=playbook&nid=0000014f-1646-d88f-a1cf-5f46b7bd0000&nrid=9e503241-9b84-417b-a6f8-a85eb587f53b&nlid=630318

They also failed to include the cap to insulin prices specifically. Perhaps, among other things, this is because Chuck Schumer takes the second most contributions from Big Pharma than any other Senator. So why did these provisions get removed? Why was the bill so seriously watered down in this key area? It's really crucial to remember this is a partisan bill. Meaning the bill wasn't watered down to appease reactionary conservatives. The bill was watered down to appease corporate Democrats. Certainly not all of them but it wasn't just Sinema and Manchin this time. That means this bill isn't the milquetoast proposal it is because it had to be filtered through the compromise sausage machine to pass the 60 vote threshold. It is what it is as a product of the Democratic Party's output.


And I should be clear I'm not saying that all Democrats are reactionary or corrupt; as if by virtue of BEING a Democrat that means they're reactionary or corrupt.  There are plenty of Democrats who I approve of to varying degrees.  Those Dems are the Democrats who are the reason that there are any decent provisions left, and most of them take no or very limited contributions from the industries they're trying to regulate.   What I'm claiming is that there are enough Democratic leaders who are reactionary and corrupt such that they can prevent the party itself from being a general political force for good.  I mean sure, it might might only be 15 to 20 percent (if I'm generous), but 15% of your body filled with cancerous tumors can pretty much put the kibosh on your body doing anything close to functioning as a whole.   So the question is what to do about it.  Might I suggest not ignoring it and pretending like everything's fine and that we shouldn't expect or demand far better.

As far as the climate portions of this you should really look again. At least at the response climate groups are giving it. I think you meant (or should have meant) SOME climate groups are supporting it. Mostly the ones who have the strongest corporate connections and are in many cases massive nonprofits whose political capacities require strong access relationship with both the political parties and the mainstream press.   And many of the ones that are supporting it are doing so with some pretty outspoken caveats, like for instance the Sunrise Movement.  I agree with them btw.   But there's plenty of criticism and many outright rejection of the climate portions of the Inflation reduction bill if you're actually look for it. A quick Google search reveals:

https://biologicaldiversity.org/w/news/press-releases/hundreds-of-climate-community-groups-tell-biden-congress-no-fossil-fuel-expansion-in-reconciliation-bill-2022-07-29/

https://climatejusticealliance.org/the-inflation-reduction-act-is-not-a-climate-justice-bill/

https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2022/07/28/sunrise-pass-strongest-version-bill-immediately


And here's a long discussion posted on Jacobin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQFb1RXeBm8



Now most of these criticisms revolve around a few key issues: the relatively insufficient scope, the expansion of subsidies to fossil fuel companies, the privatization of public lands for use by fossil fuel companies, and generally because the bill rather than using the strong hand of nationalizing large sections of the energy sector is using various tax credit incentives to induce investment.  Again, none of the inclusion of these flaws was at the behest of backwards Republican lawmakers.

And there's some other things included as you mention which are pretty much a pittance. 15% percent tax minimums (which we'll see) and 1% tax on stock buybacks (which is almost insulting.), and this is the part I absolutely cannot stress enough... ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE BETTER THAN NOTHING. If these are the only options, this or nothing, then we should pick this. But perhaps we should set our sights somewhat higher that crap to shoe level. And the more serious consideration ideology be damned is the basic idea of a theory of political change. If we want the Democratic party to do better the only way to get them to improve is PRESSURE. I mean are we more likely to pressure them with a mass movement that says "this isn't enough, you have to do more!" or one that say, "oh yes, you guys are great! This bowl of porridge is just right."




Except that is not what I am doing. If you read my last post in a debate we were having carefully (https://comicboards.com/php/show.php?rpy=community-2022051703335937), one to which you never responded, I stated what I was doing then and it is what I am doing now: "Now you can characterize everything I wrote as being an apologist to a Democratic Party that I am only half invested in, but what I am actually doing is shading the gray because all you want to do is focus on how Dems and Republicans are alike even as you condemn Dems more than Republicans. I want to focus on their differences so people know where to vote their interests." Now that post and my original post in this thread deal with a lot of grays, but you seem to insist on seeing everything in black and white, particularly this things are as "good as they can reasonably be expected to be" straw-man refrain which I have never ever stated but which you impute to me.


LGDB: Oh yes, sorry for not responding to that. Sincerely. Unfortunately I have this thing they call a job and sometime it doesn't allow me all the time I'd like to argue on the internet. And by the time I did get the time, it was weeks later. If I get the time I'll respond to that too.

And you have me wrong here. Like, in a very literal way. I do not think the Democrats and Republicans are equally bad. Now there ARE ways they are equally bad. Namely in literally consensuses they tend to share. But in the majority of areas I would agree the Democrats are at least a little better. And again, it's contextual. It depends on what valence you mean. So for instance the economic policies of the Democrats tend to be somewhat better than the Republicans. Morally speaking, as a population, I think liberals and conservatives are basically a wash. Same goes the degree to which they're generally deluded about political realities. I usually say they both engage in fantasies, where between the two Republican fantasies usually appear more cartoonish and more grotesque (but often more honest).

And what you've said here, is basically how I've characterized your position. Like most liberals you think this kind of political discourse main mission should be so people know how to vote. But by that you mostly mean the general election. The only thing important is to make distinctions between the Democratic and Republican parties. But this is deeply limited. Because of course it doesn't help people make distinction when voting in the primary, where there are plenty of internecine disagreements.   There are as a matter of fact some divisions within the Democratic electoral coalition that are as great if not greater than the divisions between corporate Democrats and corporate Republicans.  Usually it's between people who think the Democrat party needs to be seriously reformed so they reflect the interests of most people rather than just the elite business community versus people who represent, you guessed it, the business community.  

Nor does this do anything in terms of coming to terms with or theorizing a politics that might reform the system, not just beat the Republicans. Which let's face it only gets you so far. 

Furthermore, I think plainly I'm not any more black and white in my politics than you are. It's just a matter of what we think the black and the white correspond to. You're every bit as absolutist about the clean and UNGREY distinctions between the parties and moral superiority of the Democrats over the Republicans. From any left perspective this is drawing  basically the political conflict in a way that only benefits the rich and the powerful. You have all the nuance in the world when explaining why the Democrats are doing their best and we shouldn't expect better.


As far as what I'm imputing to you, it's not a strawman. I'm not claiming that "good as they can reasonably be expected to be" is your argument. That would be a strawman. I'm saying that it's implicit to the argument you're making. That we disagree about what your claim implies isn't a strawman. It's just the basis of our disagreement.




The irony of your using Biden's low approval ratings as an example is that you earlier blew off my using Clinton and Obama's high approval ratings as an example. You can't have it both ways. It's hypocrisy. I can turn your exact argument against you: "It isn't the case that those high approval ratings are evidence that that many people are doing well, but that those people are in fact mistaken. They just don't understand how "overall" bad things are. That just appears cynical." In any case, regarding Biden's approval ratings, I do think Biden is doing an overall bad job. That doesn't mean that the Democratic Party as a whole hasn't passed some significant and good legislation. But saying that means going into the details and getting into the gray, the opposite of generalizations that a political party is beholden to business interests and so can never do anything "sufficient."


LGDB: Actually no. It's not. If I wanted to say low approval rating were a QED of political argumentation I would have just started there and be done with it. My point was that Biden's low approval rating reflect people general unhappiness with the economy. And this mirror's similar polls about whether or the country was on the right track. Clinton's high approval rating reflect a lot of things, one especially under Clinton was the ascendent state of the economy. There was tremendous economic growth at the time, and economic promise (that by the way soured and wasn't ultimately delivered especially for the working class) .  We disagree that Clinton had much to do with that, but that's another matter.  And Obama was coming off a dismal failure in a predecessor and was among other things a very talented politician. I think it should be obvious that a president approval rating and their performance have a very complicated relationship. Regardless, it's important not to miss the point: I'm saying Biden's low approval rating are a strong indicator that people aren't doing well and we should take that seriously, NOT that they're automatic evidence that he's doing badly. And to show consistency Biden's approval rating took a hit when he pulled out of Afghanistan, but I think that was one of the few unequivocally good decisions the man's made. It's not an issue of trying to have it both ways. It's an issue of actually showing an interest an offering an analysis that explains those approval ratings.

Further I should say, it's not to say that any Democrat can well represent the party itself, but if there ever was a politician that personified the party establishment it would be Joe Biden.  


As far as getting into the details and getting into the gray, I'm not sure you're doing much of a detailed analysis here either.   You've basically just briefly mentioned some legislation and uncritically describing it to be good and significant. I'm not sure how gray or detailed it is to loosely mention things and then approve of them.   And I'm not putting an unfair standard to you either.  Articulating your point of view at this level shouldn't necessarily require some massive heap of detail.   But to be clear, you're not offering nuance or detailed.  I think this is kind of a common centrist move.  (not that you're a centrist per se, for all I know.  But this is common there.)  The belief that moderates and centrists generally entertain is that despite not really doing detailed analysis, and just sort of agreeing with whatever they read in the NYT or watch on CNBC, because the position is somewhere between two (mostly imaginary) political polls, it must be more measured or well considered.  But it not terribly nuanced to just agree with whatever you hear on CNN or come out of the mouth of one of Chuck Todd's guests.  Again, I'm not saying that's ALL you're doing, but if you're doing the nuance, where's the nuance?  It seems like you're assuming that anything comfortably inside the liberal establishment is INHERENTLY nuanced.   I personally think this is something that Aaron Sorkin put into people's head.  Not a careful study of political science or political history. 

Tell you what. Take a particular piece of legislation or some aspect of the discussion we've had and we can get into it at any level of detail you want.


cheers,
---the late great Donald Blake







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