Monday Morning on Tuesday

Here in El Dorado County we are being pounded by wind and rain.  Started Sunday and has been non-stop.  As I write this the rain is pouring down and the wind is gusting and I wait for the inevitable power failure.  While it may be breaking up in the valley, and maybe we will get a break later, so far we have had about 7″ of rain.  All that has to go somewhere on an already saturated ground and swollen streams.  I think the real flood threat will be seen in about a day when all this reaches the valley.

Meanwhile President Cheeto-Head continue to confirm that he is bat shit crazy attacking the free press and go back to his roots, mob rule, as he stands before white crowds and pushes fake news.  Sweden?  That is what happens when your source of news is FOX News.  The latest plan for immigrants literally makes me sick to my stomach.  If they really do try to round them up, I will take to the streets, lie in doorways, get arrested, whatever it takes.  This is not my country and not my President

There was an important op-ed this morning about our choices for the head of DNC and what the Democratic Party should be about.  Here is the what I think is the critical point:

The far more important — and largely untold — story of the election is that more Obama voters defected to third- and fourth-party candidates than the number who supported Mr. Trump. That is the white flight that should most concern the next D.N.C. chairman, because those voters make up a more promising way to reclaim the White House. The way to win them back is by being more progressive, not less.

To be clear, all white voters matter. But Democrats must make tough, data-driven decisions about how to prioritize their work. Right now, too many are using bad math and faulty logic to push the party to chase the wrong segment of white voters. For example, Guy Cecil, who spent nearly $200 million as head of the progressive “super PAC” Priorities USA, urged the party to rebuild trust with the “millions of white voters who voted for President Obama and Donald Trump.”

The op-ed goes on to lay out the numbers that Ms. Clinton lost mainly due to black vote that did not show up, and third-party defections. My thought here is that anybody who voted for Trump is not someone we want to pursue.  As the article made clear, “Not only is there little evidence that Democrats can do significantly better with those white working-class voters who are susceptible to messages laced with racism and sexism, but that sector of the electorate will continue to shrink in the coming years.

I find the whole idea that we should go listen to racist, sexist white voters, or at least people did not care about those issues, who believed absolute nonsense and swallowed fake news whole.   Triangulating how we can change the party to attract them is total nonsense.  Do we or do we not stand for something?  Not if we chase this vote.  The whole narrative that we were not listening to these people is false.  Bernie was.  And he tried to pull the whole party Progressive, and the establishment beat him.

It was not that we were not listening to people who could be so easily fooled by promises that will never come true, it is that the party did not stand for a believable Progressive future.  Hillary had to be pulled left kicking and screaming (“Progressive means progress”) and those that defected simply did not believe her.  Now it is a whole other argument if that was a smart move, their defection to third and fourth parties, but as some have argued, maybe we needed a Cheeto-Head President to finally wake us and the Democrats up to what they do and do not stand for.  If you could not beat this guy, there was something really, really wrong with who you are.

So in the next week (28th), the DNC will elect their new leader.  I hope they get it, because this is a chance they cannot afford to loose, but if they let establishment Democrats once again control the party, they done as a Party.  You would think that the massive loses they have suffered not only in the last election, but in the state house would wake up call, wouldn’t you?

Being 71

Actually being 71 is damn good. Today is my Birthday.  No, the knees don’t work and I cannot workout like I used to, and my diet has to reflect the fact that I cannot exercise all the time.  And it was about a year ago this March that I got the advanced stage prostate cancer diagnosis, highly aggressive.  Then in November they elected Cheeto-Head and we have had to watch Republicans gloat in ignorance of how badly they are going to hurt the country and fail.  But you know what, I can’t do anything about any of that, not a damn thing.  One of things I learned when I spent a year in Thailand flying combat missions was to not worry about what you can do nothing about.  Plan for what you can do something about.

You know when you get a death sentence, the shock lasts about 5 minutes and then you get real.  Everyone has a death sentence.  I pretty much know what I will die of, but like everyone else, not when.  So really there is no big deal.  None of us know when.  And the lesson is so trite, it is insipid..  All you have is right now, look around you and take it in.  There is no contract. There is no guarantee.  And in the scheme of things, 71 is a lot more than most get. And I have looked around.  I have been with my best friend and lover (hormones are cutting into that one) for almost 39 years.  I have a daughter in London, a son in Arlington, and another in San Diego, that actually think I did good, that I am someone to depend on, that provides a little stability in their lives. Is that good or what?

I would like to sell my vineyard and simplify my life, move to where travel is simpler, but that hasn’t happened.  And if I have learned anything, you cannot live for another time, but in the one you are in.  Mine is on a beautiful vineyard on the top of a hill with quiet and serenity all around me.  Every morning my volunteer cat (picked us to live with) is out meowing at the door and the old golden retriever is standing staring at me, both wanting their small walk around the upper vineyard.  And that walk is through the vineyard I cut out of the forest, and the forest surrounding it.  There will always be something to see.  There is beauty all around.

I am 71 today, and my body is starting to fail in little ways that old age does to us.  But thanks to modern medicine, great doctors, kind people, and good friends, this is a life savored.  I had dinner last night at Boulevard in San Francisco, had a wonderful Patz and Hall Pinot, sat at the counter with my wonderful date for life, and watched and chatted with the chefs about their art.  It does not get any better than that.  Happy Birthday to me.  To quote Lou Gehrig, “Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

DWI

I guess it should be VWI, Voting While Intoxicated.  It still just amazes me that there are Trump supporters who still think this guy is anything but a wrecking ball.  I watched the Boeing South Carolina speech and the cheering crowd and wondered what they had to cheer about.  They had just done a number on themselves voting down a union and are now at the mercy of Boeing and world competition.  If they wanted a raise, and their productivity increases justified it (or a comparison of profit shares), who is their spokesman?  They are at the mercy of what Boeing executives want to give them.  But I get distracted.

What policies does Cheeto-Head have that is going to bring back jobs?  The real issue is how the economy operates and the rules have not changed.  Jobs are going to migrate to the lowest common denominator until we change the rules.  Changing the rules requires policies.  Seen any?  And that is why he really got elected.  People want good jobs and they saw the same old same old from the Democrats and the traditional Republican candidates, so intoxicated with their fury, they voted for Cheeto-Head.  Because his base is reality challenged (see the comments after his deranged press conference on Thursday) and really do not trust anything except what comes out of his mouth, it may be a while for they see the only reality they know, their paychecks and the economy in general start to suffer.  Only then will there be a come to Jesus moment.

There can be no good outcome here. Employment is actually in good shape or as good as it is going to get considering the economic inequality in the market.  Wall Street right now is DWI and careening higher and higher on hoped for tax cuts and regulation cuts.  I wonder what happens when, once again, they are faced with the failure of supply side economics, and all these cuts don’t create good jobs?  Meanwhile, in the world economic arena, he is sowing chaos and distrust.  See the Muslim ban and comments on Nato. I wonder how that is going to help the world economy, much less our own?  See the revolving door at National Security?  Now they are down to John Bolton, a true hawk and nut job.  You think more chaos in the world is going to be good for trade? No, this is not going to work out well.

But he has been busy with executive orders.  He has caused chaos in the immigrant population and that will soon be reflected in jobs not being filled, crops not being picked, lawns not being mowed, meals not being cooked, and it goes on and on.  They are a vibrant part of our economy, not to mention a part of our legacy.  We are after all, all immigrants. But not to worry, Republicans voted to give crazy people guns.  That ought to help with jobs.  If enough people kill each other, there should be openings. Then there is the rule that the Senate just voted to kill to keep coal companies from dumping wastes into valley’s and streams.  Again no real real jobs here, just a distraction and mirage of jobs in an industry that has mechanized while destroying the Environment.  Of course there may be some real jobs down the road when we get rid of this bunch and have to clean it up, at tax payer cost.

Then of course, is repeal and replace.  The latest forray is giving everyone tax credits and no mandate.  If you don’t make much, what good does a tax credit do, and how can you share the costs if you can bail on health insurance till you need it?  I mean this makes absolutely no sense at all when all people really want is affordable health insurance without all the “free market” complications that really gives you nothing.  Of course it won’t work, but the reality challenged will have to be facing the bills before they say, “Say what!”

Finally we see Trump vilifying all news that doesn’t agree with him (sound like Russia?) and the Trumpets just nodding like morons while real news exposes his snake oil.  In the background, Republicans who have sold their souls to power, are proposing budgets that will kill anything that will help the 90%.  And here is just the beginning:

WASHINGTON — The White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending, including longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.

These don’t even register as a blip in our budget, but they do help us critically think, and give weight to empathy and the human experience.  Can’t have that, just reforms which are disguised tax cuts to the wealthy and economic inequality, the root cause of all this malaise, will be put on steroids.  Let’s just hope in four years when all this becomes quite obvious to the rubes and morons that voted for and support Cheeto-Head, we can undo the damage, if it is not too bad.  But one thing I will promise you, I will not forget who legitimized and elected this disaster.  You are the opposite of civilization, but an ignorant mob and right now, like most Republicans, I find little empathy for your plight.

 

The Apocalypse

The Associated Press is reporting that Trump is considering calling up the National Guard to round up undocumented aliens.  Let the chaos and fighting in the streets begin.  How is this different than Hitler rounding up the Jews?  Okay, there are some differences, but slight.  The real problem here is that Chetto-Head is already experiencing a small rebellion in the federal government where leakers are trying to get the truth out.  Think what would happen in states like California that depend on immigrant labor and basically would resist booted thugs dragging hard-working people away from their families and jobs.

There was a story in the New York Times this morning about “Deep States” where in countries being taken over by a dictator, the bureaucracy basically undermines the leader:

Though leaks can be a normal and healthy check on a president’s power, what’s happening now extends much further. The United States, those experts warn, risks developing an entrenched culture of conflict between the president and his own bureaucracy. Issandr El Amrani, an analyst who has written on Egypt’s deep state, said he was concerned by the parallels, though the United States has not reached authoritarian extremes.

The growing discord between a president and his bureaucratic rank-and-file, he warned, “is dangerous, it encourages deep divisions within society, it creates these constant tensions.”

There is a difference here.  We have a President who is actively engaged in a fantasy reality and the leaks are an attempt to set the record straight and for a democracy, critical to our functioning if we are going to have an informed electorate.  Well if this story of calling out the guard is true, many of us would actively resist, shelter anyone who is at risk, and further undermine our belief in this government. Inevitably there would be violence.  I don’t really think he would do it, but I didn’t think he would get elected.  It could get very ugly very fast.

Your Morning Reading:

Timoth Egan – Probably the best round up of Trump to date.  This is going swimmingly.

David Brooks – While David cannot help himself from sliding on the slim of the Donald (“The court system has given itself carte blanche to overturn any Trump initiative, even on the flimsiest legal grounds”), he does manage to recognize that the man needs to be impeached sooner rather than later, and that is not going to happen.

Paul Krugman – Paul points out that Republicans are sitting on their hands on the Russian thing whereas if this had been Obama, their would be lynch mobs.

Editorial Board of the NYT – Points out the only solution for investigating the Russian interference is a Special prosecutor and all the conflicts of interest the Republicans have.

John Podesta – Trump and his flight of fantasy turned into policy and the danger for us.

Chaos and Incompetence

Putting lipstick on the pig won’t help and I believe the media has finally figured out these are not normal times.  On display for over 77 minutes was an arrogant, ignorant, and classless man who spouted self-centered nonsense.  “I inherited a mess”.  Actually only one of your own making, and comparing it to what Obama inherited in 2009 this looks like a tea party.  “The leaks are true and the news is fake.” Simply makes no sense.  If the leaks are true then so is news about them.  “This administration is running like a fine tuned machine.”  Really?  Chaos from the get go on the travel ban, ICE becoming the Gestapo of America, your National Security Advisor lying to the FBI and being fired, your campaign being investigated for Russian ties, and your new choice for National Security Advisor saying no thank you?

He attacked reporters asking hard questions that needed to be answered, lied about a meeting with Representative Elijah Cummings, called the minority leader in the Senate a light weight, and asked a black reporter if she could schedule a meeting with the Black Caucus, you know, all black people know each other, and generally made a fool of himself with a version of reality that could best be described as fantasy land.  Oh, and he can’t get things done because he can’t get the nitwits and absolute jokes he nominated for Cabinet positions confirmed because the Democrats want to expose their incompetence.  Had he nominate competent reliable Republicans instead of this horror show, he would probably have a Cabinet by now.

So we are getting what Red States and Middle America wanted with a “business man” running the country and you have just tasted a slice so far.  Oh, and on that cutting regulations thing, he is removing regulations that kept coal companies from polluting rivers and streams and is allowing those deemed mentally handicapped by the Social Security administration access to guns.  Oh how business will thrive!  Ignorance is bliss as they say, and I wonder if the rubes that voted for Cheeto-Head are still in bliss.  I wonder how long until they actually recognize their mistake.  The most amazing thing is the blame game.  Obama and the Democrats are the problem!  Except they are long gone and have no power.  No you have to face reality and you cannot make up alternate facts because you are now in charge and the world doesn’t actually work on alternate facts.  Enjoy your choice.

Meanwhile in House Republican Land, there was Paul Ryan giving the world the Econ 101 lecture on how if health insurance were just let loose to operate in the free market, costs would go down and the market place would solve all problems.  It is laughable.  There is no such thing as a free market, Americans don’t make choices on medical care costs on a rational basis, and studies have shown that when people have to pay more for their care (high deductibles), they under treat themselves, and when they really get sick, the costs soar.  The market place does not work for older people who are all pre-existing conditions.  But Red America, keep buying this pabulum. Soon the only healthy people will be the rich ones which is what the Republicans want anyway.  The Darwin effect will cancel out all the rubes.

Meanwhile in Red America the rubes loved it and are shouting, “More snake oil! Yeah, You the man!”  Well just another week in Republican controlled America where things are running like a fine tuned machine.

Hypocrisy Flashing Danger, Danger!

Remember that media narrative about partisanship and if the two sides would just sit down and negotiate?  It was bull shit then and it is bull shit now.  The problem with the whole narrative was that it assigned blame equally to both sides and nothing like that has been going on now for years.  The Republicans careened off to the right, decided to block everything the Democrats did, and the media still carried on with the narrative that this was a partisan fight instead of a conservative blockade.  It was that very narrative that gave us “fair and balanced” media coverage that gave equal weight to lies and distortions.  It was that narrative that elected Donald Trump when the press made false equivalencies between Benghazi and her emails, and the racist lies Trump told at every turn, while ignoring his ethically challenged business career, and all his other scandals.

Now we have entered the Looking Glass as up is down and down is up.  Remember when Republicans were holding hearing after hearing on Benghazi and we got nothing but unfounded accusations?  Remember when Republicans were all over the emails and Comey said she was careless, but broke no laws, and the Trump people, including General Flynn chanted “Lock her up”?  They wanted to investigate everything Democratic.  Now we have a real scandal and their reaction is, “I think it will take care of itself.”

As an American you should be deeply disturbed about the mounting evidence that the Russians interfered in our election, and at least some of the Trump campaign may have colluded with them.  Democrats are screaming for an investigation and Republicans could not be bothered.  And if you think, well it will be another partisan witch hunt, Democrats agree and want a 9/11 independent investigation.  Republicans could not be bothered.  What has exposed this is leaks about the ongoing investigation by the FBI and the intelligence services or General Flynn would still be the National Security Advisor.  Do you really think Comey with Sessions as Attorney General want to get to the bottom of this?

It is clear we are in grave danger as we have a government headed by a pathological liar who may be in league with the Russians. At the least he is a complicit fool. We have a Republican Party who is looking the other way so they can pass their dreamed for conservative economic hell on earth for the rest of us.  At this point, except in a few, very few instances, Republicans are the problem.  We are in grave danger when they care more about their ideology than their country.  They have sold whatever ethical and moral standards they might have had to power.  We are truly in grave danger.

Let’s Just Review

Stephen Miller, Trumps 31-year old White House advisor was on the Sunday Meet the Press and said:

“What the judges did both at the ninth and at the district level was to take power for themselves that belong squarely in the hands of the president of the United States.”

Hmm.  Absolute unchecked power really?  Do they understand how a constitutional democracy such as ours works?  He also said:

“I can tell you that this issue of busing voters in to New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics.”

Which was of course refuted by Republicans and Democrats alike in New Hampshire.  Do you suppose they actually believe this stuff?

Meanwhile in the White House press office:  “Manigault, who is now a communications official in the Trump administration, got into a heated argument with a White House reporter just steps from the Oval Office last week, according to witnesses. The reporter, April Ryan, said Manigault “physically intimidated” her in a manner that could have warranted intervention by the Secret Service.

Ryan also said Manigault made verbal threats, including the assertion that Ryan was among several journalists on whom Trump officials had collected “dossiers” of negative information.

Did the Hitler Youth take over in the White House?  Oh, maybe that is to harsh, maybe just Fascists.

Oh wait, we have the totally implausible story that Trump acted with all due diligence when he fired Flynn.  He  knew about Flynn and was told he could be blackmailed 17 days ago and he acted “quickly”.  Double speak is alive and well.  Trump was waiting to see if it would blow over.  And if you believe Flynn was flying solo, well, there is some land in Florida I can sell you.  

Meanwhile the Russians have upped the Koreans by deploying a crusie missle that violates our arms control treaty with the Russians.  Things are just going swimmingly for President Cheeto-Head.  Oh wait again!  The Freedom Caucus has demanded that we immediately repeal Obamacare and the rest of the Republicans are looking for cover.  

Oh wait again! It is reported that during the campaign multiple Cheeto- Head staff had contact with Russian intelligence agents.  Payback from the pissed off intelligence agency is a bitch, but more importantly did the Cheeto-Heads collude with the Russians?  Don’t worry say Republicans, move along. There is nothing to see.  Could it be more insane? Hey, it is only Tuesday.

Treating Symptoms Instead of Treating the Disease 

I see where things are pretty much going the way I thought yesterday.  Flynn has been slam dunked as a loose cannon when you know this was not a solo act.  Republicans in the Senate, probably with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, will vote today to remove gun buying restrictions on the mentally disabled.  I know. You are saying what?  That’s right, even common sense is too restrictive for the gun nuts. So with things flowing the way we knew they would I thought I would take a moment to reflect on other stuff.

And what caught my mind last night was a new show on TV called APB.  The plot of this new show is that a genius billionaire has his best friend killed in a convenience store robbery and he decides to take over a police district in Chicago and turn his technology into tools for them.  Now as a device for entertainment it worked.  I was entertained.  It is a good show and the lead character brings some humor to the endeavor.  But I was thinking that this is the Trump approach to fixing a problem.

Clearly, the shows premise is the problem is crime and therefore our approach should be to be more efficient at catching the bad guys.  It is treating the symptoms, not the disease.  The problem is not the crime itself, but what causes crime.  So if you have a $100 million or so, would it not be better spent finding people jobs and moving them out of poverty than buying toys for law inforcement?  See Donald Trump on the Wall.  Instead of a real reform of our immigration laws, let’s built a big beautiful wall.  Also see our War on Drugs.  Throwing them in jail solves nothing.

But let’s just say for a minute that the new improved equipment is the way we go.  Now the engineer in me kicks in.  He is using new armor, long range taser guns, cars, and computers and apps to connect the cops to the citizens.  Oh did I mention drones?  Okay so he equips them and out the door they go, to learn by trial and error.  No, that is not the way you would do it.  First you would take a small unit and train them in the equipment.  Use their experience in the field to develope tactics you would use in the field.  Then you would let them out in the field and then debrief what worked and what didn’t, and adjust accordingly.  

Here is the thing.  As you bring in new technology, your tactics will evolve reflecting the best use of the new technology and those lessons would then be implemented as you brought on line more units operating with the new technology.  But it is a TV show, except for the little matter that trying to solve a symptom with technology instead of an understanding of the root cause and trying to deal with that (so enforcement would be minimized) is the way our new world of politics is operating.  And only in fiction will it work out.  

Miscellaneous

Well this week ought to be a doozy.  First there is the Korean thing, and we will see if President tough guy starts a major war.  As one foreign policy expert described it, we have a couple of choices.  Sanctions, which is what we have done before to little effect, increase the pressure on China to do more, or take military action.  Actually there is one more, and that is ignore it.  That I think, is the spectrum of choices.  I have argued before that North Korea is going to have to be dealt with and the longer we wait, the worse the options.  They are truly crazy and there are reports (but who knows) that country may be on the brink of collapse, and as Henry V knew well, nothing unites a country like a war.

China fears a collapse of the North Korean regime and massive refugees.  My guess is that is the fear of South Korea also.  And the country will fail eventually, but why wait until they are armed to the teeth with nukes.  No there are no good options here, and sanctions just seem to kick the can down the road.  Really, really smart people have a hard time figuring out what to do so there is no telling what Cheeto-Head will do.  In a perfect world where North Korea (in an imperfect world) is a living hell on earth, we would go in as a world community and rebuild it.  That is not going to happen.

Next up is the ban on refugees and immigrants.  A fool would continue to fight it in court.  A cleaver fighter would recraft it to pass most tests and then dare the courts to ban it.  A strategist would throw the whole thing away as nothing but a political ploy to satisfy a campaign promise while making our security from terrorists much worse.  No telling what Cheeto-Head will do, but this is the week to do it.

Then there is General Flynn.  I don’t happen to think his contacts with the Russians was a flying solo.  Cheeto-Head’s own statements make that far too unlikely.  But there is that throw them under the bus thing, and that is probably what will happen.  Even as incompetent as Cheeto-Head is, he knows superbly well how to blame others, so we will get the General Flynn was a loose cannon and will be dismissed.  I have to wonder though if they were really that good at covering their tracks and does the FBI and NSA have other evidence.  We know that AG Sessions will do the right thing, don’t we?

Oh, and I see where auto makers are beseeching Cheeto-Head to reduce the mileage standards established by President Obama.  It will cost too much.  Hmm.  Have we heard this argument over and over when these companies, saved by the Obama administration, dig in their heels at change, any change?  It is a sad story we see over and over again and of course, Cheeto-Head will do “what is good for business”, not what is good for the country.  No Virginia, they are not the same.

Meanwhile in the states, Republicans are moving quickly to destroy more lives, attacking public unions, women’s right to choose, voter suppression, and of course, providing more and more business friendly environments (read screw the workers).  When Democrats finally get back in, there is going to be a whole lot of damage to repair.

Speaking of damage, I have been glued to my TV as Oroville Dam (the highest dam in the country) almost collapsed and we are not out of the woods yet.  The almost collapse was not at the highpoint but at an emergency spillway after the main spillway cratered.  We are still not out of trouble yet and watching the water flows is to marvel at nature’s power, which we only play at controlling.  It is another giant warning that we should not tinker with Mother Nature, yet Cheeto-Head ignores global warming.  If this is a sign of what she can do to us, we should all be very, very afraid.

Well, just another Monday morning where we are going to make America Great Again.  Glad I live on high ground and can grow my own food (grapes for wine).