Simplifying Healthcare

Oh, the debates rage and the spinning continues.  Obamacare is failing (only because Republicans promise to repeal it and Trump’s threat to defund the subsidies made the markets too risky).  People won’t be thrown off healthcare (total lie). And on and on.  But here is the thing.  We haven’t agreed to what the goal of a healthcare bill is.  It is becoming fairly apparent that most Americans want universal coverage at reasonable rates.  Note the Republican bill throws 22 millions off the rolls, reduces coverage on many illnesses, and wildly inflates premiums.  Don’t believe me, read the CBO report led by a Republican appointed chief.

But here’s the thing, do we believe healthcare is a right?  If we do, then the way forward is fairly simple.  Once you decide to provide universal healthcare then the questions are how to do that and make it affordable.  America’s healthcare costs are double what other nations pay for better outcomes.  So here is a really novel idea, STUDY IT!  Where has universal healthcare worked the best (low or minimum wait times, good outcomes, and reasonable costs), what were their issues, and decide on the best way forward.  See how ideology got thrown out of this discussion.  It’s like one of my favorite T-Shirts, “Science Does Not Give a Shit What You Think“.  It is what it is.

When I was a project manager my expertise was in cost contracts.  Cost contracts are those where the costs of a certain project cannot be adequately determined because of the unknowns and risk, so the government enters into an agreement with a contractor to pay his costs, all of them.  The risk is then shifted to the government from the contractor as opposed to say a fixed price contract (he delivers the product at his bid price no matter what it costs him), and it is incumbent on the government to then manage the contractor prudently.  They key here is if you want something, it will cost what it will cost so manage it carefully.  Healthcare will cost what it will cost and we have to find a more efficient way to deliver it.  That is really the task.

Now Republicans have no intention of supporting universal care so on that one, forget anything they propose.  On the cost side, they are stuck in their market place solutions for insurance, tax credits, and leaving care to emergency rooms.  They are trapped in their ideology and cannot consider say a single payer, with a market placed delivery system.  The question is, what do the facts and the world’s experience in providing healthcare tell us.  They don’t want to look.  So generally speaking, Republicans don’t have a solution and the latest plan is the best they can do.  They don’t want universal care because they got theirs and it would cost money.  They don’t want to look at solutions other than private healthcare because it violates their big government ideology.  So for a while anyway we will have the most expensive healthcare system on the planet with outcomes rated way below other wealthy countries.

I think the solution in general terms is simple, a phased in single payer system like Medicare where health care providers still compete for that single payer reimbursement.  But there could be many improvements and changes that might make it more efficient and lower costs.  But since we can’t seem to agree on what we want and getting confused about details, it will be a while until we catch up to the rest of the world. And with leadership from the Village Idiot In Chief, it could be forever.

A Healthcare Question

  I read David Brooks this morning and he was trashing the “new” conservatives and the Republican healthcare plan.  He noted that while real conservatives have come to recognize economic inequality as a problem of our times, the new conservatives work only at the feet of their masters, the wealthy.  Then saying these new conservatives have ignored real conservatism and the ideas for a workable healthcare plan including universal healthcare, he says this:

Conservative income redistribution doesn’t look like liberal redistribution. Conservatives tend to like their redistribution done at the local level, and they like to use market-friendly mechanisms, like child tax credits, mobility vouchers and wage subsidies. But the intent is the same: to give those who are struggling more security and opportunity.

Conservative redistribution extends to health care. Over the past several years many plans have emerged from the various right-leaning thinking tanks that imagine consumer-driven health care that also has universal or near universal coverage.

These plans, from places like the American Enterprise Institute, use tax credits or pre-funded health savings accounts or some other method to give middle- and working-class people coverage, while reducing regulations and improving incentives throughout the system.

Okay, think about this.  “Conservatives tend to like their redistribution done at the local level …”.  How is that done at the local level? How do child tax credits, mobility vouchers and wage subsidies work at the local level?  And imagine the paper involved. On economic inequality the real problem are the rules on how the market place operates and our tax code.  Is the Sacramento City Council going to change that?

But on his healthcare argument, using tax credits or pre-funded health savings accounts or some other method sounds like another bureacratic nightmare and paper suffle to me.  How about we pay taxes and go to the doctor, end of story?  The question you have to ask in both cases for some kind of market driven redistribution at the local level and tax credits or pre-funded health savings accounts, is are we ignoring the simple solution to enforce some kind of conservative dogma about market places, small government, and people are lazy so things can’t be too easy, in many ways no less irrational than the “new” conservatives?

From my point of view as a retired project manager with Progressive leanings, this looks like twisting yourself into a pretzel when most solutions are much simpler if you could just bring yourself to see them.  I believe what we see here from David is the kettle calling the pot black.  New Republicans and old time conservatives are just as bound to their ideology with their only difference, old time conservatives might let reality peek in once in a while.  

The market place is a wonderful tool to create wealth, but it operates on a set of rules that favors the wealthy for wealth accumulation.  These rules are set by government.  To change the rules and still have the marketplace work its wonder while seeing to it that the benefits are more widely distributed, government, big government (the Feds) have to change the rules.  Conservatives like David now are starting to see the problem, but are still bound by their ideology to ignore the simple fixes.  Note, I did not say easy, I said simple.  But what I think you can now see from this little logical dissertation is that we have a long way to go before there will ever be consensus again.  Ideology blocks our view of reality and forces us to come up with amazingly complex ways of trying to fix simple problems.  

On healthcare, the analogy that comes to mind with Republicans is that you have a screw to connect two boards, but the only tool you have is a hammer, and it is not working out so well. Every time you try to drive the screw in by hitting it with the hammer, you split and destroy the boards.  Why not try a different tool?  Ideology stupid.

Monday and It’s Just Amazing How Far We Have Fallen

The numbers are out on the Senate’s Heathcare bill and only 22 million would lose healthcare.  See isn’t that so much better than the House Bill?  And the talking point is no one gets thrown off, they just don’t get added in the future.  Hmm.  We accept this? Forty economist including 4 Nobel laureates have sent a letter to Senator Mitchell in opposition.  Does it matter?  Once again this is really really simple.  If you want to cover everyone and lower costs you have to go to a single payer system where everyone is enrolled.  If you don’t really care who is covered, but you need to cut funding so you can fund tax cuts for the wealthy, go with the Senate plan.  How hard is that?  There are no middle ground solutions.  That is what Obamacare was and even then no Republican voted for it.  You can phase the single payer in over time, but sooner or later that is the answer. And note that if our healthcare costs were in line with other countries with better outcomes, it also would not be a problem to afford universal care.

Okay the Supremes has sung and they make no sense whatsoever.  First the ruling which was a partial removal of the stay on the immigration ban:

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to allow a limited version of President Trump’s ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries to take effect and will consider in the fall the president’s broad powers in immigration matters in a case that raises fundamental issues of national security and religious discrimination.
The court made an important exception: It said the ban “may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

In the unsigned opinion, the court said that a foreign national who wants to visit or live with a family member would have such a relationship, and so would students from the designated countries — Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — who were admitted to a U.S. university.

Now remember when this was a temporary ban to protect us from bad guys from these countries that was urgently needed?  Remember when they said our vetting program was a mess.  Guess what?  With no ban, no terrorist attacts. Oh and on that vetting thing.  They were lying through there teeth as they have made negligible changes to the vetting program,  It was already severe.  I am kind of wondering what is the point?  This is not the threat.  Meanwhile behind no camera’s the White House is gloating.  I know why they turned off the cameras.  They did not want people to see the “deer in the headlights” look on Spicer or Sanders face when they got confronted with reality.

But I think we are seeing a Supreme Court that is on the edge of moving in to the realm of Dredd Scott (blacks were not American citizens), Korematsu (upheld the interment of the Japanese during WWII),  Plessy Ferguson (separate but equal is oakey dockey), and let’s not forget Gore v. Bush.  This Robert’s court is moving quickly into the realm of one of the worst courts in history, with Shelby County versus Holder (the eviseration of the civil rights protections), NIFB versus Sebilius (upheld Obamacare but let states out out of Medicaid which killed thousands of people), and let’s not forget Hobby Lobby or Citizens United.  And we don’t seem to bat an eye.  We are finally living out the conservative dream with a village idiot and liar as President while they erode all your rights.  

Yes we are entering very dangerous times as the press continues to try to legitimize a man and a party that should be an international disgrace.  Actually they are, just not here.

Are Democrats Tired of Losing Yet?

So fire Pelosi, get an economic message (hopefully progressive), and get better candidates.  At least that is what is in the air these days.  I myself have argued that Nancy has to go, not because she has not been an effective leader, but because she represents the past.  I still stand by that.  Economic inequality is the issue of our times and is at the root of most other issues.  And it speaks across all divides, white working class, Latinos, blacks, you name it.  Of course there is a caveat here in that Black Lives Matters went after Bernie when he tried to explain that this was their issue too.  I personally can see Bernie’s point, but I am not black and I don’t live in a nation of systemic racism. But the answer is not pandering to blocks of voters, but a message that crosses all lines, while addressing systemic racism.

The last five elections went after Republicans in safe Republican districts who were appointed to the Cabinet and needed replacements in their districts. And when in doubt, Republicans vote Republican.  So yesterday I heard an argument that makes perfect sense.  Why spend all that money going after Republicans to vote Democratic (no matter how bad the VicLic* is) when Democrats in this country don’t vote and the real issue is to get out the vote?

Why waste time and money in districts safely Republican trying to turn Republicans into voting Democrat when the real issue is getting out the Democratic vote.  It could be argued that all the money spent in Georgia could have been used to register voters and get them to the polls in South Carolina, and that race could have been won. Democrats are making gains on Republicans and if moderates** find a reason to vote for them, they would sweep all elections. Also note that the VicLic lost the popular vote.  We just need to start really pushing that trend.

I found the argument highly persuasive.  If you are looking for a Democratic strategy that could redefine the party and start turning government around it would be this:

  1. A Focused economic message on economic inequality and the progressive way forward to deal with it.
    1.  Tax reform to increase revenue to the treasury while de-incentivizing benefits for the wealthy and off shoring wealth/jobs***
    2. A jobs program focused on infrastructure***
    3. An Energy program that rewards alternate energy, creates innovation and jobs (see solar)
    4. Equal rights and equal pay for women (and freedom of choice)
    5. Single Payer Health Care Option with defined benefits
    6. Affordable higher education for all
    7. Retraining and support for those left behind should they choose to quit voting for the past and help themselves
    8. Expand Social Security (reform the tax law)
    9. Raise the minimum wage
    10. Reform Wall Street Rules and Banks to ensure a fairer distribution of profits and reduce risk
    11. Ensuring full access to all of citizens with aggressive enforcement where discrimination is exposed
    12. Immigration reform that allows workers more easy access to jobs and then can go home if they choose (note recognizing that immigrants whether legal or otherwise actually help our economy)
  2. New leadership that no only embodies these Progressive ideas, but represents real change in the party
  3. A focused approach to registering voters and fighting voter suppression
  4. Focus on getting Democrats out to the polls, not trying to change Republican’s minds in Republican strongholds.  Many Southern states are ripe for this approach
  5. Major recruitment effort, not finding candidates who can pander to Republican Lite, but embrace all the goals under 1 above.
  6. In Summary, stand for something and be clear about it where ever you run an election

Did I miss anything?  The Democratic Party has lost seats and power in government from controlling all branches of the federal government to being totally out of power in 8 short years (and they got very little done that is not being undone).  In state governments the losses just pile up.

So maybe just working harder with the same leaders, with the same approach, we will just explain it to you Lucy, with a big tent, and trying to pander to certain voters as opposed to standing on principles is not the way to go.  You think?

Finally I will leave you with the Republican Healthcare Bill.  It has nothing to do with healthcare, it is a tax reform bill to gut benefits to the poor and pass them on to the rich.  If you can’t figure that out, you should not be reading this blog.  It will be interesting to see what happens next week.  If it passes, the Republicans will have a real albatross around their necks.  Reality will slowly sink in on what they did.  If it doesn’t pass, maybe the voters will figure out that the Republicans cannot fix healthcare, nor will they compromise with Democrats for fixes that would work.  They will then just continue their sabotage program and hope it fails leaving millions out in the cold.  The deserve it anyway right?

*VicLic – Village Idiot-in-Chief/Liar-in-Chief

**Here is an interesting look at moderates and how they vote. The mistake the article makes is to believe what moderates tell them, that they want more middle ground and compromise, and Democrats would be wise to not go too liberal.  It is a mistake because as always no one takes into account how far right the Republicans have gone.  Does meaning too liberal mean to give up policy ideas that will work.  Did we not learn anything from the last 8 years on Republicans not compromising with us?  No, Democrats need to forget about pandering and establish an agenda that works for our future whether that is seen as too liberal or not.  It is not about getting elected, it is about fixing our country.  The Republicans got elected and took over government by not compromising on anything.  Now they are wreaking havoc.  Let’s fight with ideas that work and we believe in, not polls about how people think we ought to vote.

***The issue here is to get economically conservative voters to realize that the debt is not in itself bad. See Saturday, Healthcare, Economic Conservatives, and The Village Idiot.

The Profit Motive

The incineration of Grenfell Tower in London and the death of 79 people gave us this wake up call if we want to hear it:

Flames consumed the tower so quickly that arriving firefighters wondered if they could even get inside. People trapped on the higher floors screamed for their lives through broken windows. At least 79 people died, a toll that is expected to rise as more bodies are recovered. Survivors have charged that the facade was installed to beautify their housing project for the benefit of wealthy neighbors.

A formal government inquiry into the fire has just begun. But interviews with tenants, industry executives and fire safety engineers point to a gross failure of government oversight, a refusal to heed warnings from inside Britain and around the world and a drive by successive governments from both major political parties to free businesses from the burden of safety regulations.

Promising to cut “red tape,” business-friendly politicians evidently judged that cost concerns outweighed the risks of allowing flammable materials to be used in facades. Builders in Britain were allowed to wrap residential apartment towers — perhaps several hundred of them — from top to bottom in highly flammable materials, a practice forbidden in the United States and many European countries. And companies did not hesitate to supply the British market.

Oh those burdensome government regulations, except when we need them.  Yes you can find rules that are unnecessary and burdensome, but on the whole, they come from valuing lives over profit.  So the next time you hear a Republican go off on the government or regulations, know it is a gross over generalization.  Sure we need smart government, but that means rules and regulations that puts people before profits.

Saturday, Healthcare, Economic Conservatives, and The Village Idiot

Let’s start with healthcare and I can make this really, really simple for you.  Either you believe healthcare is right or you do not.  If you want a system where everyone has affordable healthcare, that would be the rest of the world, then you enroll everyone in the program, you do smart things like preventative care, reducing drug prices by allowing the government to negotiate with drug companies, you reward for good outcomes, not more treatment,  you have a single payer system, and you will have affordable healthcare.  In my mind the most cost effective system is a single payer where healthcare providers (as separate from insurance companies) compete for your coverage. See Kaiser or other HMO providers.

On the other hand if you don’t believe in universal care, go with the Republican plan.  The problem is that even if you benefit initially from possible rate cuts, if you get sick, really sick, you will probably go bankrupt.  Oh, and don’t give me that crap about we have universal healthcare and poor people can visit the emergency room.  It is a death sentence because when they get sick enough to go, their care will be very expensive, and they die.  If you are fabulously wealthy you are fine.  If you are young and healthy, you are fine, but sooner or later you too will have a pre-existing condition.  Then what?

So what we are watching with the Senate Bill is a Kabuki Dance.  All they are doing is trying to find a way to cut cost so they can fund tax cuts.  Until we finally say, healthcare is a right, we are wasting our time.  Then we can debate about how to best do that and control costs, but that is the only solution.  Now if we get serious about a single payer plan you will hear the R-word, rationing.  We do it now by ability to pay.  Maybe that new heart should go to a twenty something instead of an 80 year old smoker.  We will have to make a lot of tough decisions, but until you accept that we are all in this together and you are going to help pay for somebody else’s healthcare until you get sick and then they pay for yours, we go nowhere and it just gets worse and worse as we try to find market place insurance solutions that don’t exist.

Okay, now on economic conservatives, those are really the majority out there.  They are usually socially liberal, but economically conservative.  So you ask, what does that mean, the economically conservative?  I find most of the answers are we should balance our books and pay for what we want, and there is that element of distrust about our fellow man.  If you give them free stuff they will gorge (or not appreciate it).  First let’s take on the debt thing (balance the books).  There is an irrational fear of debt based upon the home budget analogy. I go into great detail in my three part blog The Economy.  But suffice to say, a country is not a home budget.  It doesn’t have to pay off its debts to retire.  It keeps having new kids and it has to make investments for their future. It just has to keep the debt at manageable size.  See the debt we had after WWII, and we didn’t really pay it off, we grew our GDP so it was only a small percentage of our earnings.  Think about that.

Manageable size has two indicators, interest rates and inflation.  So according to most economic conservatives, the debt today is out of control and yet interest rates are at all time low and inflation is also too low to encourage those hanging on to their dollars to invest in things that don’t lose value as fast as money.  The thing that economic conservatives have a hard time with is borrowing and yet that is what every company does to invest in their future.  And so do we in our home budget analogy, but at some point we have to pay off our debt to retire.  Countries don’t retire.  So the real issue is how much debt is okay and what are investments that make sense.  If we can get by the fear of debt and understand it is a normal thing and is quite manageable if kept at certain levels compared to our GDP, we could start to really discuss what are our most important investments in the future that will give the biggest return on investment, and then get on with it.  Until we do that we are stuck and the Republicans use this to continue to push their economic agenda which is really a transfer of wealth to the wealthy,

The real issue facing us is economic inequality, too much of the pie is going to too few people.  The way to fix that is to change the rules on how our economy works.  Sure there needs to be adequate reward for taking risks, but we are out of control.  So make the tax code fair and bring back tax rates we saw in the 60’s when growth was large.  Change the rules about intellectual property so that after a short time innovations are given back to the people to use  to innovate something new.  And what to do with that money?  Well that would be the really interesting debates.  One thing off the table would be tax cuts for the wealthy. Maybe infrastructure, education, healthcare, you know, the stuff that gives our economy the natural resources to compete.  That is the future, I just wish it was now.  Note that we can debate how much, to whom, etc., but then we would be debating about a way forward.  As it is now the Republicans are trying to take us on a way backward.

One last thing, and what blog would not be worth its weight in hot air if I did not comment on the Village Idiot in Chief/Liar in Chief (VicLic).  He gave another interview and you had to be appalled.  First he told us almost everyone agrees that there is no collusion between the Russians and his administration, except that was just him being Liar in Chief.  Nobody knows because we have not seen the results of the investigation yet.  Then he tells us the Mueller-Comey friendship is bothersome.  So is the Trump-Putin love fest, but at least we are trying to find out the facts, no trying to delegitimize the investigation. Then when asked why he tweeted there might be tapes, “He said Comey’s “story may have changed” after he tweeted about the existence of tapes.”  Umm?  Is that obstruction of justice.  Of course Comey’s story never changed and he was trying to intimidate, but it backfired.

The smart play as pundits tell us is to say nothing other than Special Counsel Mueller is investigating and we will get to the truth. And yes that would be the smart play if you were not afraid they were going to find something very bad (follow the money).  They will and eventually it will come out, so the game you are seeing played is one of delegitimizing (at least in the eyes of his base) the source of the evidence against him.  As I have opined before, it will be leaked out as he attacks our most important institutions (justice, intelligence, courts) and people who see the evidence will not cover it up.

In all of this, the one salient fact that keeps you awake at night is that the Russians did hack our election.  They are a true threat to the future integrity of our democratic process, and the VicLic does not care.  He questions whether they actually hacked our election, has not to our knowledge asked for detail briefing on it, or has any plan to counter it.    We now know that President Obama failed to use his implanted electronic bombs to retaliate, but left the decision to the VicLic, and he has done nothing.  Only an apprentice to the village idiot in charge (his base) would not think that something is very rotten in Denmark.


Well, there are no tapes!  Actually, we don’t really know that.  What we know is there may or may not be tapes, but if they exist, they back up Comey’s testimony.  This answer was always a forgone conclusion and no one should be surprised.  The VicLic now pretends he did not start the rumor and one has to wonder for what purpose would you do that but to intimidate, which of course, backfired.  So on one hand you have the Liar in Chief, and on the other you have the Village Idiot in Chief.  Nice to know in one episode he can display both of his major character traits.

Then we have the Republican healthcare bill which is of course a disaster.  It is basically gutting Medicare so if you are old, kiss it goodbye.  And this for a tax cut for the wealthy.  Republicans have no interest in providing healthcare for anyone.  Their social Darwinism just assumes sick people deserve to be sick.  President Obama came out of his cave and Facebooked this:

Former President Barack Obama on Thursday slammed Republicans over the Senate’s legislation to repeal Obamacare, saying it will “do you harm.” Obama defended the Affordable Care Act in a statement posted on Facebook and urged Republicans and Democrats to reach a compromise. “The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill,” Obama said. “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else.” Republican senators hope to vote on the legislation next week, but at least four have said they would not support it.

Now in this is a truth and a giant lie. The truth is that it is nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth.  The lie is that somehow compromise is possible and this assumption is at the basis of all of the Democrat’s failures.  It has always been President Obama’s Achilles Heel in that he thought rational analysis and dialogue with the other side would produce compromise.  Democrats and Republicans are not going to compromise on health care, EVER!

Up to now Republicans have pushed out Demos and don’t give me the BS that that is what the Demos did in Obamacare.  They had a year to debate and add amendments of which over 100 Republican amendments were added, which they then turned around and voted against the bill.  So quit pretending the other side wants health care.  They want to end Obamacare and get lots of money for tax cuts and they cannot figure out a way to do that and keep their promises on keeping the good stuff and reducing costs.  The system is now collapsing because the Republicans kicked the support out from under the exchanges when they put the whole thing at risk.

And that is the challenge for the Democrats.  They just can’t seem to bring them to say the obvious about Republicans or admit that the only solution to Obamacare is a public option.  If you increase the risk pool you can lower costs by spreading them around, and keep the stuff that costs money.  So mandatory insurance and expand the health exchanges with a public option is the primary solution with cost controls and drug company negotiations thrown in.  It really is that simple and there is no other solution.  But Democrats just can’t seem to say that and Republicans will never allow it.  Ergo, there is no comprised fix.  Why not just draw the line and stand for something?

That brings me to my final topic of which the healthcare debate is such a giant example of what is wrong with Democratic Party.  Let me start with this:  Pelosi has to go.  So do most other leaders in the Democratic Party.  They have led us nowhere.  I personally think Nancy is a great American and a soldier, but, and this is where the healthcare debate comes in, who do we see attacking the Republican Senate health plan. Old people. And what do they offer.  Well they don’t want to alienate anyone so single payer is never going to come up.  But it is the only thing that will work and they just look feckless and out of touch.

The Democratic Party needs a new direction and a real strategic plan*.  That plan has to be built not on pandering to different voters in different regions who love coal, or want white power, or who is LGBT, but what we believe in and what works.  Either we believe in global warming and solutions or not. It is not some halfway for coal states. Either we believe in a woman’s right to choose, or we don’t.  There is not middle ground over there.  We are already standing on the middle ground on this one, as people have a right to choose.  No one is forced to do anything.  We either believe in progressive ideas about education, healthcare, and the economy or not.  That middle ground everyone talks about where we all get along is Republican Lite that has failed over and over and over and over again.

The silver lining in the losses last week, are that Democrats got another wakeup call after they ignored the one on Hillary.  In the meantime, the Republicans read the election as a referendum on the VicLic so now instead of holding back, they are all in.  It sets up the winning environment if Democrats can get their heads out of their ass.  First come out with a basic Democratic Bill of Rights for what we believe in.  Based upon that, what is our strategic plan to achieve it? Second, bring forward new leadership who are your vibrant speakers for that economic and social plan (Warren and others?).  Until you do that, it is lipstick on a pig.  Meanwhile, hanging on to the VicLic is the road to a disaster environmentally, economically, and in World politics.  It is coming.  So if Democrats finally figure out who they are and get ready, we could really turn this thing around.

*Note that in Georgia and other races the Republicans ran agains Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.  “Really?  You would vote for a DEMOCRAT?”

The Democrat they are describing and the ones I hear about from conservatives where I live don’t exist.  It is the myth of a Democrat crafted so carefully over 30 years or more as a feckless lover of big government that wants to tax, tax, tax, and spend, spend, spend.  If you examine the real record, it has been Republicans who have caused the greatest increases in our deficit (if you are afraid of the deficit), and the economy has done better under Democrats.  Those are just facts, but that is not the fantasy Democrat that the Republicans created to bring Big Government into your lives.

It plays right into the healthcare debate when everyone forgets how the market place has screwed us over the years.  It is time to take that false construct head on and really paint Republicans for who they are, using Government to increase economic inequality.  Democrats so far don’t seem to know how to take that on yet, at least the old ones.  They need a face lift and it can’t be done under old leadership that has too much history.

The Loss in Georgia

Well one has to find the silver lining in a loss, but this will not be the one you are expecting (Democrat gave real chase).  The silver lining is that a win there would have put Republicans on guard, and Democrats resting on their laurels.  I have not commented about this race because I don’t think you win it by throwing money at it or in running against The Village Idiot in Chief.  Hillary should have taught Democrats that lesson.

One Democrat was notably absent from this election and that was Bernie who at one point was not sure Ossoff was progressive enough.  Democrats have this fatal flaw that when they go into Red Districts they try to go Republican Lite.  You know, that big tent bullshit that they lose on every single time.  When Bill Clinton went right, he won and we are still cleaning up the mess of moving the Democratic Party right. 

The lesson here should be that if you want a Republican, vote Republican, and that is what they do.  What Democrats are missing is a basic message about economic inequality and social justice, including women’s right to choose.  If you think you can win by pointing out that the Commander in Chief is looney, but have no basic message about what your party stands for other than holding hands and working together (which will never happen), and you can be a kinda conservative, well the wreckage stretches back all the way to Tennessee, when Alison Lundgren Grimes went soft on coal and played Republican Lite to crash and burn.

Democrats need to quit worrying about big tent or winning back the white stupid vote.  They need to sit down and come up with a strategic plan for dealing with economic inequality that stretches from healthcare to jobs and women’s right to choose.  It really is that simple.  The key to winning for Democrats is getting out the vote and not pandering to stupid has always failed.  Republican extremism we have now, even surplanted by Republican Lite will not be an answer for our future.  It will become obvious in the next couple of years.  Democrats better have an alternative.  Bernie has a pretty good one.

UPDATE:  Frank Bruni wrote a column this morning which missed the point:

The party has been bitterly divided over whether that route should veer toward the left, which is where Bernie Sanders is beckoning it, or toward the center. Ossoff chose the latter, electing not to put his chips on the demonization of Trump, lest he offend all the district voters who had put faith in the president. His positions, in aggregate, were moderate.

I think that was the right call, given the demographics of this district, in the northern Atlanta suburbs. It’s no lefty enclave.

Again, it is pander to the voters in a certain area instead of a message and platform for the future.  Democrats need to decide what works (Progressivism) in our future and then start to rebulid the Democratic base.  Otherwise you lose.  Oh, and it is called leadership.  Finally here is one readers comment which I could not agree with more:

Once again the national Democratic Party blew it with millions spent here in Georgia on meaningless negative ads that were repeated ad nauseum. For the same reasons that Hillary lost , now Ossoff lost. No clear message of Democratic accomplishments and long term goals that benefit all strata of society as well as conveying the corruption of the GOP in D.C.. Instead ten times in a half hour we had “DCC” ads about Handel driving a state purchased Lexus and ordering chairs for $15,000 while the state had a budget crisis a decade ago when she was secretary of state. Did we hear about the corruption of the Trump administration and Handel’s support of Trump? Not really. Or better yet about the insider trading of Tom Price whose vacant seat was up for grabs? No. Or did we hear about how the 6th District was gerrymandered so as to make it nearly impossible for a Democrat to win?


I am not sure what it means anymore.  There is an MSNBC promo for Greta Van Susteren where she says something to the effect of just two people sitting in a dinner discussing politics.  I don’t think that happens any more unless there are guns involved.  All this comes to mind because of a story I heard from a family gathering where one of a mostly very liberal group basically said something to the effect of, “I can’t believe you don’t understand that Trump is going to save us.

Now in my progressive little mind, I wonder how with all that is going on, you don’t finally understand that Trump has no plan and he is so misinformed about so many things.  Add to that a narcisstic stunted child, and you wonder, save us?  So in Greta’s world is there going to be a quiet political discussion at the coffee table.  Absolutely not, nor is there going to be a noisy one.  There is not going to be a discussion at all. There is no point

Here the really troubling thing.  Facts and data don’t matter. Each side has their own.  In fact what we have lost is understanding that there really are objective facts and only one set.  If you want to understand how bad this has gotten, just follow the Russia stories that are now piling up.  Is this some partisan witch hunt, or is this really a very troubling and possibly dangerous reality?  Depends on what you need to believe. How did we get to a point where facts, data, and science could be carefully sorted to pick only those that support what you want to believe?

In the family example I used above, you could attack with the facts and show the misguided family member where their assumptions were just flat wrong based upon objective facts.  But the next day they would be back among those who reinforce those misguided beliefs, have a whole set of alternate facts, and who make them feel comfortable again in the world where facts are what I want believe*.  How did we get so lazy?

My answer here, as you might expect, is from Republicans.  But I would bolster that argument by pointing out that Democrats still have a fairly diverse (in terms of beliefs and race) Party, from the “moderate” Democrats who are really 1980’s Republicans, to the new Progressives.  In the Republican Party moderates (and people of diverse backgrounds) are an endangered species and getting outside the ideological bounds could result in you being banished.

Republicans have a conservative ideology that simplistically boiled down is small government, small taxes, and little to no regulation.  This in action actually means tax cuts for the wealthy, and the market place without government interference is the best way to create wealth for all of us**.  The trouble with this ideology that has become a religion (that is part of the problem) is that there are too many instances where it does not work.  So what to do?  And that is what the Republican Party has been about for the last 50 years, creating an alternate reality with alternate facts.

Think about the tobacco companies back in the 60s reinventing the facts about cancer, and you got the playbook for the Republicans.  Again you might want to say, oh you elite West Coast Liberal, but who attacked the intelligence agencies in an attempt to delegitimize their intelligence, attacked the free press as fake news as they pushed real fake news stories, and now is banning cameras and recording equipment from White House briefings?

Sure there are some ideologue Democrats, but they are few.  The rest of us just want stuff that works for all of us and are willing to see where facts, data, and science take us.  The Republicans cannot afford that because it would then put their religion in doubt.  The world is a gray place and flexibility is the way to deal with that.  Seeing the world in black and white may simplify your life and choices, and make you feel comfortable, but then you have to invent a whole new reality to support that black and white world where blame and fear are the motivators  And reality has a way of striking back.

So to my wayward family member, he is truly a nice person who we all love.  It is just better if we don’t challenge him as he will always withdraw into his bubble of alternate reality.  But when it comes to voting, we who pay attention better get all liberals out to the polls.  That is the only way we are going to turn this madness around.

*I have spent years in this blog trying to take what Republicans have said, whether it is flow down, immigration, Muslims, you name it, and put facts to test their suppositions.  It does no good and the fact checking of the VicLic during the election also fell on deaf ears.

**It is really a little more complex than that.  The market place operates on a set of rules held firm by government.  Those rules happen to favor the wealthy, and Republicans are dead set against changing those rules.  So they are not really against big government, low taxes, or few regulations.  They are really for government that has rules that benefit them, low taxes on the wealthy at the expense of everyone else, and few regulations unless of course, they benefit themselves.

Sunday Morning and It Just Gets More Wierd

Trump’s lawyer in one breath says he is not under investigation and in the next says he is. I guess it depends on how you define investigation and the meaning changes with the context, at least in Trump reality.  But speaking of reality, it is coming knocking on climate change deniers as there was an “event” in Antarctica that tells us you had better get your waders on sooner than anyone thought.  And while Republicans live in denial about how dysfunctional the VicLic is, the people who do real work get it.  They can’t hire at the White House. Nobody wants the job when your whole career could end right there.

Megyn Kelly is interviewing the nut job Alex Jones who thinks Sandy Hook was a hoax.  Why?  Oh it’s a ratings ploy and she is going to make her chops by tearing into him is the media executive thinking at NBC apparently.  It is a travesty and legitimizing nuts.  It is a sad excuse for news that got us into this mess.  Considered the unfathomable tragedy at Sandy Hook, how can you give air time to someone who could be so hateful and hurtful?  Wasn’t the tragedy bad enough?  My heart goes out to the parents and hope on a Father’s Day, the memories aren’t too painful, which of course they are.

Meanwhile in VicLic land, the great spineless Floridian, Senator Marco Rubio, was on Meet the Press and told us two things that were flat out lies and distortions and he knows they are.  When challenged about Attorney General Sessions claiming that he had never been briefed on the Russia attack at any time and whether that concerned Marco that there seems to be total denial in the White House about the Russia interference with our election, he claimed you can’t have it both ways, having recused himself and be involved.  Umm…  First of all Sessions did not recuse himself till March so from January on, there was no interest?  Second this does not hold water at all.  While Sessions is recused from the Justice Department investigation, he is on the National Security Council which has nothing to do with a criminal investigation and yet still no briefings?  The NSC is not interested in getting to the bottom of possible Russian interference?

So MTP host Chuck Todd, seeing exactly what I did, followed up with the question that it seems the White House is totally uninterested in the attack and even though 17 intelligence agencies have verified it, Trump (the VicLic) is still denying it.  His response was astounding.  Basically the VicLic was entitled to his own opinion.  Now think about that one.  After 17 agencies verified the attack, the VicLic decides he is going to ignore reality.  He has his own set of facts which work fine in his alternate reality And you wonder why I call him the Village Idiot-in-Charge/Liar-in-Charge?  If Marco Rubio believes the trash he just put forward, he also is a danger to the country and himself.  But alas, he is just making excuses to try to normalize and Idiot-in-Chief so he can get his agenda done.  I guess that makes him even more a threat to the country.

Finally, Father’s Day.  I have some thoughts here.  Most of us muddle through being a father either taking lessons we learned from our own father and applying them, or desperately trying not to repeat his errors.  In my case, I had a wonderful Dad who like all Dads was human and made mistakes, but was always there for me.  I learned so very much from him.  You know when you look at most of the people out there who commit serious crimes or who are seriously troubled human beings, it usually can be traced back to their parents.

And we have a whole population of people who should never have been parents.  There is not much we can do about that.  But what we can do is take parenting seriously.  It is the hardest and most important job you will every have.  So here’s to all the guys (and the wonderful women behind them) who are working hard to get it right.  It is all we can ask of anyone and in many cases where you will find the real heroes.  So today take a moment and celebrate them.  All three of mine checked in today.  I could not be prouder of them.  Go forth and prosper.  You have all the tools you need whether you got them from me or not.  I would prefer to assume the former.  Happy Father’s Day.