Archive for September 2013

Looking into the Face of Another Shutdown

Chris Mathews continues to amaze me with his being totally out of touch with the present political situation. He was interviewing Jay Carney, the President’s Press Secretary, and he asked the question: These Republicans may not cave so what is the President’s plan to keep government running? Carney answered without answering, but I have the answer for him:

Gee Chris, what would you have him do, capitulate to a small minority of Republicans? Would you set this as a precedent so that all future legislation is done by brinkmanship and tyranny of the minority?

It is the epitome of what these Republicans are about, using terrorism to avoid the legitimate processes of government or shutting down government as almost as good. It is the dynamic Democrats themselves set up when they negotiated the last time. Yes this is a little different than last time when both parties (mistakenly) were trying to cut government and we got the sequester. This time the Affordable Care Act has nothing to do with the budget. It is terrorism and an attempt by a minority to dictate to and control of our government, and it must be resisted at all costs.

Finally Chris ended his show with an example of political courage back in the last century (20th) that got the government working. It was his attempt to say that political courage is all that is needed. That indicates his total lack of comprehension that this minorities’ goal and objective IS TO SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT and the political climate back in their districts no longer represents “representative” districts. In the last election with all House seats up, looking at total votes, Democrats got 1.4 million votes more than the majority Republicans. How can that be? Gerrymandering.

And note that this thing the House of Representatives thinks is reasonable is only a six week extension of functional government for killing Obamacare. If you capitulate here, what will they demand for the debt ceiling extension. Who in their right mind would negotiate on these terms? No, this is a defining moment. Either Democrats stand strong and take this as far as it needs to go, or they will destroy our Constitutional democracy by capitulating and negotiating with terrorists. It’s an easy choice in my mind. We are in this for the long haul.

Democrats Compromise?

They already did. The bill before the House was a continuing resolution for two months without reducing the sequester. It would pass if the House would let that bill be voted on. The Republicans move the country further and further to the right by taking far right positions and then demanding the Democrats compromise, moving the government more and more to the right and destroying our economy (unless you are the 1%). It is time to end this. No more compromises. It is time to hold the line or simply turn the country over to the American Taliban (Tea Party Republicans).  This time it really is about principle and that principle is majority rule or hostage taking.  Democrats?  You up for this?  It is your last stand.

The next battle will be the debt limit and there can be no negotiations there.  What the Democrats need to do is to fight this on the issue of the economy.  In other words sell an economic plan that shows how this cutting is hurting our economy and present a plan forward.  Then the blame-game is over and we are talking about the appropriate policy.  I know, I dream.  Sadly I live in a fact based reality which has no hope of breaking into the Republican fantasy bubble held together by gerrymandered districts and fear of a challenge from the right.

Or as Michael Tomasky wrote today:

…What they’re doing here is not hostage taking, the most commonly used metaphor in the media. It’s political terrorism. When hostage takers see that their demands are met, they release the hostage. But what makes anyone think today’s Republicans will ever release the hostage? No—if the Democrats agree to negotiate, the demands will never stop. Every pivot point on the legislative calendar will be an opportunity to make demands without precedent in our system.

Or as I asked yesterday, whatever happened to the edict, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists”?

How Out of Touch Our Press Really Is

Two Examples:  I was listening to a promo by Chris Mathews.  He is trying to reinvent himself as the Will McAvoy of news where he is keeping us on a rational and factual track, which he does anything but.  But here is what he said this morning that I think captures it:

I have chalked up five years of service in the Senate, four in the white House including my time as Presidential speech writer, and six years as top aide to speaker O’Neil. All this background taught me how to watch politicians in action.  Here on Hardball you can expect me to discuss history as it relates to what is happening now. You can expect me to analyze what politicians are doing today based upon what I have seen other politicians do before. 

And that is the problem.  Chris Mathews is so 20th century when we have moved into the 21st century and the politicians (Republicans) we are seeing today don’t even resemble those of his time.  He is up the creek without an paddle and is always getting surprised.  Trying to understand today’s Tea Party using experience with yesterday’s moderate Republicans is a recipe for disaster.

Meanwhile on Disrupt with Karen Finney, she thought it would be a good idea to have a hostage negotiator explain how President Obama should negotiate with the Republicans.  He gave us this:

  • Negotiate, use the time.  You should always negotiate
  • Bring in a third party
  • Let them save face (Give them an out) – You have to respect the other side
  • Be magnanimous

It is total BS.  These guys and gals don’t want to negotiate, they want their way, and wrecking government is a useful byproduct.  Every time the President has tried to negotiate, he has learned this lesson.  They are not rational.  What happened to, “We don’t negotiate with terrorists?”  Too bad the press doesn’t get it.

Let’s Take Stock – Healthcare

Let’s say you believe all the missi-information about Obamacare. Let’s review what is true:

  • Obamacare is the Republican option proposed to counter the Clinton initiative
  • Was successfully implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusettes
  • It is a market based solution that Progressives like me think will only be semi-effective in addressing our healthcare costs
  • Our healthcare system is the most expensive in the world (by a factor of two) and yet has poorer outcomes than other nations who insure all their citizens
  • Most other industrialized nations self-insure healthcare and do not depend on employer based healthcare or private insurers
  • More and more employers are limiting benefits and reducing coverage
  • Our healthcare cost were (since initial implementation of Obamacare requirements they have leveled off) climbing far faster than any other country, inflation, and will impact our long term debt problem

Nothing up above is in question. These are just facts. So if you ignore that there are not death panels, it has not caused an increase in part time jobs while decreasing full time jobs. that it is reducing the long term costs of healthcare, will not limit your choices, it has not cost jobs and will in fact create jobs, makes sure that even with pre-existing conditions you can get coverage, what is your plan for an improvement?

If you refuse to correct problems with Obamacare, which there are some, and you just want to tear it down, then we are doing nothing to address the problems up above. My solution would be to offer Medicare to everyone. Republicans have no solution. That ought to really inform you about this debate. It is really class warfare. The rich have perfectly good insurance and the rest of you can go pound sand. That is what this is really all about.

Some Nonsense This Morning

Well we are marching toward a shut down of government, although I think just about everyone is claiming to be essential. It is hostage taking by the Republicans on Obamacare which if you asked them what it actually provides or show us how it is destroying jobs, they would be unable to because the evidence is just the opposite. Meanwhile in Texas, oh how I love Texas, once again the school book committee wants to challenge evolution and climate science. It is the Dumb and Dumber show and that is what we have allowed ourselves to become.

Elsewhere I read an article about how in the last shut down Clinton engage his opponents in negotiations right up until they did shut it down which “Obama eschews”. Once again a giant failure of logic by our press. We have seen what negotiations with this current crop of Republicans means in their terms, capitulation. It is time to end this nonsense, or as Nancy Reagan once said, “Just say no.” This is about Obamacare and it is going to be implemented and then work. But let’s just say you are “against it”. What is the option? Who covers pre-existing conditions? Who decides what is covered (for profit insurance executives)? Who controls the costs? This is the most mindless debate I have ever seen. But if reality doesn’t suit you, just make up your own. Shout the sky is falling and gather the faithful around you. You would be right at home with the Tea Party bunch.

My Favorite Quote of the Day

President Obama and the Democrats are going to shut down the government because they won’t negotiate.”

Translation: They won’t capitulate to our demands so we are going to shut down the government.

Think about this: A law has to pass the House, pass the Senate, and then be signed by our President. That is what our Constitution requires. They can only get step 1, so they are resorting to terrorism to get their way. Who again are the patriots? Oh, and the budget as sent to them by the Senate, as bad as it is (only two months and contains the full sequester) would pass the House if it were brought up for a vote. So the nation is held hostage by 1/4 of the House and John Boehner.

Saturday Morning Musing

I see in Greece they are cracking down on the far right by arresting far right legislators. Oh if we could just do that here. Maybe be like Egypt and just outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood except here outlaw the moronic Tea Party. I guess tolerance has its limits.

Shortcuts taken by firm who did security checks. Big surprise here. How do you think low bidder becomes the low bidder? Oh yes, lets keep contracting out critical functions to the private sector because everybody knows that they do it better than the government would.

President Obama is having telephone conversations with Iran and Fox Nonsense must be apoplectic about this. Of course add on to that, we may actually achieve all our goals in Syria through semi-peaceful means and it is time for the sky is fallen rhetoric from the Know-Nothings. My god, could it be that sanctions really work, and we are in it for the long haul? Could attacks just be counter productive? Does slow and steady really win the race?

Meanwhile in Congress land they are now frantic to defund Obamacare before it works. Shutdown the government anyone because we can’t get our way, wah, wah. What’s next? Default the whole government? Yep that is what is next. It just amazes me that people voted for these yahoos. Oh, and let’s remember that by Boehner using the Hastert Rule, one half plus one of the Republican caucus, a majority of Republicans (118) out of 435 members, control our country and the agenda that gets voted on in the House. Sad isn’t it.

I got some real insight into conservative irrationalism last night at a wine tasting. One of the few Democrats in the county bated me by asking how I like Ted Cruz. I just laughed and said I love him as he wrecks the Republican Party and then headed for the hills (bar for more wine). Apparently Obamacare came up in my absence and there was a total demonstration of ignorance about it and irrational blaming of all that was wrong with healthcare. But when you are in a setting like this, you quickly realize that these people are angry and irrational and there is no such thing as a rational diologue, just anger and hate. She who must not ever be mentioned here was quite proud of me that I got nowhere near that discussion/non-communication. There is a whole group of people out there that think everyone is trying to take their money and the government is first in line. They can’t hear and they can’t see as they are blinded by their anger and ignorance and there is no point in even trying.

Oh and that pesky Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from the UN kind of ended the whole discussion with the Know-Nothings about how climate change is some hoax. It is here, caused by man, and they set limits for the first time on carbon emissions. You know, I think I am starting to understand why the right is getting crazier and crazier. Their fantasy world is starting to crumble around them and they have to be more and more frantic and weird to keep patching the holes in their fantasy bubble.

Just another Saturday Morning as we watch the greatest country in the world fracture into the fruitcakes and the rest of us. I kind of like the slow and steady track. Hell, we could even try Obamacare and if it has problems fix them. Good God what a novel idea. Beats the hell out of running around screaming the sky is falling, the sky is falling. More coffee anyone?

Republicans!

I have been listening to these guys today justify the course they are on and one can only come to one conclusion, either they are monumentally stupid, or they are lying, maybe both.  Now one could argue that they are just ignorant of the facts, but then you would have to recognize that they would have to be lying to themselves about the facts, so we are back to that lying thing.  Now, the Michele Bachmanns of the world are just monumentally stupid (throw Sarah Palin, Steve West, and Louie Gohmert in there with her), but the John Boehners of the world?  They are lying through their teeth to stay in power.  But we are Number 1, right?

Now one might ask yourself that if their stupidity or prevarications are so obvious, why do so many people listen to them?  Now we are down to stupidity and ignorance, and let us not forget fawning to politicians to maintain your access or think you are being fair and balanced.  Is this a great country or what?

Musing About the America’s Cup and America Itself

Oracle Taking the Lead

Oracle Taking the Lead

So what happened, and after an 8-1 lead only needing 1 race to win, why did the Kiwis come up short? Well I have my theory, which with a buck and a half will probably get you a cup of black coffee at Peet’s. So if you are interested, here is my theory:

These boats were on the cutting edge of technology, kind of like a beta version of software. The first launch of these larger craft (AC72) was restricted to July 2012 with only 30 days of sailing until January 2013. Generally speaking the teams began sailing them in May 2013 in San Francisco. Each team’s designers and builders create their own hulls, wings, soft sails, and underwater foils within the confines of the rules, and test and refine their designs as the racing moves forward (from the America’s Cup site). Now this is really critical. The crews and the engineers were learning about these boats and making minor modifications in tactics and design on the fly.

Now I have already opined about why Oracle got so far behind (Irrelevant but True – Oracle and Air Combat). The gist of this is that while the other three teams competing to challenge Oracle for the Cup had to race off against each other, testing the limits of their boats, crews, and tactics, Oracle raced against itself or practice races with the others, but it was never do or die, pushing the boat and tactics to the limits. So when Oracle faced off with the Kiwis, they were over matched in tactics and sailing experience in real-time racing of the AC72.

But then a funny thing happened. Losing race after race, Oracle went to school on the Kiwis tactics (i.e. tacking and jiving on the foils). They also made substantial, although yet un-revealed, changes to their boat and foils. They were learning how to sail this thing on the edge better with each race, and each night they made further changes to the boat to gain boat speed which the Kiwis were unmatched on up wind legs. As the Kiwis lead grew, Oracle had nothing to lose and were pushing tactics and engineering to the limit.

But what of the Kiwis and how could they lose a seven race advantage? Okay, I am really guessing here, but here is what I think: The team decided to sit on their lead. This boat and crew (tactics) had run up a seven race advantage and it would be foolish to start messing with a winning boat. Remember these are beta versions and the learning curve was very steep, so another team, innovating and pushing the engineering could quickly make up lost ground if you yourself weren’t pushing these limits. And that is what I think happened. The Oracle team refined their tactics and were equal to the Kiwis, but their boat was just faster due to changes they were making in the design.

The last day of racing kind of makes my point. The Kiwis tactics were flawless as they won the start and gained the advantage around Mark One when Oracle nose-dived at the first mark. But it wasn’t enough and once they split the course, boat speed became supreme and the Oracle team won.

Now I don’t know that I have this even remotely right, but if I do, this also is a lesson for America and American innovation and politics. We can’t let up for a moment. And Republicans are not only letting up, they are trying to pull us back into the last century, in effect, sailing single hulled keel boats against the world’s catamarans. Unlike the Kiwis, we better figure out we can’t rest on a winning record, and come out charging and taking risks. Oh, wait! Never mind. I think they are just about ready to shut down the government and they have already  fatally wounded us in research in development with their sequester. Is this a great country or what?  Don’t worry though, we are still Number 1 in gun violence.

UPDATE: 9/28/13 – I might be right. Here is what appeared in the USA today:

Coutts said that among other things they altered the weighting of the boat by bottom loading the 131-foot carbon fiber wing and adjusted the load sharing on the foils.

“The major changes in my view were the balance of the boat,” he said. “Then there were a bunch of little changes that just reduced the drag a few kilos here, a few kilograms there, and all the sudden you have an edge,” he added.

That was why Oracle, unlike the Kiwis, repeatedly took to the water with a new “measurement certificate” — boating parlance indicating it had made slight changes to the configuration, within the rules.

Related America’s Cup Posts:

They Did It!

Once More Into the Breach..

It’s 8 to 8!

Team Oracle, They Have Come a Long Way

A Primer

Some Thoughts…

A Day of Fun

Irrelevant But True

Who Said it Best Today: Timothy Egan

Mr. Eagan was commenting on the return of salmon to the Seattle waters which led to this quote and kind of sums up everything wrong with conservatives today (funny, conservative use to mean conserve):

This year, there are millions of them. Chinook, the mighty kings, are returning to the Columbia River in numbers not seen in decades. The run of pink salmon in Puget Sound and surrounding waters is pegged at six million or so. For this miracle of restoration, we owe decades of vigilance, patience and investment in tomorrow — precisely the things lacking in the other Washington.

That about captures it.