Archive for October 2016

A Beautiful Sight

No, not my vineyard although I take great joy in it.  It was the end of the Cubs game last night.  The Cubbies won and will be going to Cleveland on Tuesday for a do or die game.  What was so beautiful was the crowd.  They players left the field and forty of fifty thousand people stayed standing and singing together their Cubs’ love song.  And you know what?  I think if they would have lost the game, they would have done the same thing.  All those people loving their team and the game.  Republicans, Democrats, black, white, yellow, brown, it did not matter.  It kind of summed up what we have lost in loving our government and our country.  Politics used to be a game like baseball with rules and an idea of fair play, with respect for the other team.  Now it is a game of hate and destroy. Lies and innuendo. Well Cubbies fans reminded me of what is good about Americans and tells me we can get that back.  How I don’t have a clue.

In other news, just a word about FBI Director Comey.  His defenders said he was caught between a rock and a hard place and he made a tough decision.  Bullshit.  It was a failure of moral courage.  He was trying to cover his ass instead of making the really hard decision that he was not going to lob a grenade into the election and take whatever criticism that comes.  That would have been the courageous thing.  Instead he showed us the worst of America, my ass first.  One former deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick said this:

He may well have been criticized after the fact had he not advised Congress of the investigative steps that he was taking. But it was his job — consistent with the best traditions of the Department of Justice — to make the right decision and take that criticism if it came. ..

As it stands, we now have real-time, raw-take transparency taken to its illogical limit, a kind of reality TV of federal criminal investigation. Perhaps worst of all, it is happening on the eve of a presidential election. It is antithetical to the interests of justice, putting a thumb on the scale of this election and damaging our democracy.

How does that relate to the Cub fans?  Well if Comey had been a real fan of the game of government and democracy he would have gutted up.  Instead he threw a grenade and crawled under a rock of just doing his job.  

The Choice Ahead

The email grenade by Comey may change the election, but the truth of the matter is, there is nothing there.  But here is what it has exposed.  Trump is a disaster and that has been documented by many.  Even Ross Douthat made that point this morning.  And realistically you have only two choices, either Donald Trump of Hillary Clinton is going to be president.  Hillary is a flawed candidate for sure.  I actually think she would, if allowed, make a good president.  She is rational, understands world politics, and will not send the country too far left until they are ready.  

But the allowed thing is why she is so flawed.  What we have seen from the Republicans on the new revelations of emails is that they will never let her govern if they have a choice.  We are going to have one investigation after another if Republicans hold the Congress.  And generally, there is nothing there other than fodder for conspiracy nuts.  But they will approve nothing.  There will be no Supreme Court justices approved, not legislation passed, and generally the nation will once again be held in gridlock.  On the bright side, unlike Trump so won’t destroy the economy or gets us involved in some over reaction in geopolitical affairs.  The country will simply get even more partisan than it is now if that is possible.

So the choice is fairly straight forward:  Trump and disaster, Hillary and Gridlock, or Hillary and a Democratic Congress that beaks out of the gridlock.  Comey may have just destroyed that final solution and as soon as the election is over, his partisan attack to help down ballot Republicans should drive him from office.  That is a true tragedy and may change the potential for a real solution in November.  

I would encourage Democrats and independents to vote out the Republicans.  They have no ideas and there will be a war within their ranks after the election.  If you liked the last four years, it is only going to get worse.  I would say one other thing.  Democrats took over California and we are doing just fine.  In my mind the Donald was prophetic when he challenged African Americans with the question, “What do you have to lose?”  Well electing Donald or leaving the Congress in the hands of Republicans give you lots to lose, and another four years of no change.  If Hillary and the Democrats (if they are a majority) cannot start turning the country around, you can make another choice in 2018.  But staying the course with gridlock or a Trump lunacy is disaster.

Why Are We Here

I guess that is about the most fundamental things we have to deal with.  What is our purpose?  Do we have a purpose?  I am at a place in my life where that is a more urgent question than for most.  I am getting old and there are things I love that are no longer possible.  And with the diagnosis of an almost always fatal disease (at least there is no cure and maybe you can stave it off for awhile), I can’t help wonder, what did I do, or still have to do that gives my life purpose?  

Religion is one answer.  God has a plan.  Except for me that one does work.  Why is the plan so unfair?  There is a roll of the dice and that decides your fate.  I would argue with God, if I believed in one, on his plan. For some it really sucks. Why do some not make it out of childhood?  Why are some grossly abused and their lives are abysmal?  No, the God Plan thing does not work for me.  There is no God, just us, evolved on this planet from the animals to be aware of our existence and to wonder about it.

Most animals never worry about it.  Their job is to get through it and procreate.  Is that our purpose?  Well, clearly we have this need to be involved in something we think is meaningful whether it is our family, gathering wealth, improving our fellow man, getting something done.  Probably the best evidence for this is combat.  Many service people will tell you that they felt most alive and focused when part of a combat team.  Their purpose is well defined, the mission, keeping their team alive, working together to get through it.  But that ends and many are left flailing.  How does working in a Seven Eleven have meaning after that?

Some focus on their family and making sure they have a good life.  But sooner or later they leave the nest to live their own lives and there you are wondering what is next and why it matters.  Some dedicate their lives to improving the lives of others, however they define that.  Some are focused on bringing beauty and truth to our existence, whether through art or political action.  But I have to step back and recognized that we as a people on this planet have destroyed almost two-thirds of other living species.  What rights do they have?  If our lives are important, aren’t theirs?  To put it simply our existence is rapidly destroying the world we inhabit.

So I am back to that basic question, what is our purpose.  So far getting through it and procreating seems to be destroying the world we live in.  I also have some rather pessimistic thoughts about the idea that our economy and our well being depends upon ever expanding economic growth.  Sell, sell, sell.  Consume, consume, consume. When do we hit the ceiling and is there a ceiling?  As long as we can’t beam to other planets, there is a ceiling.  And is it a zero sum game?  For some to do well, must others have less?  We would like to think not, but most of us don’t really ever think about it. Does focus on what we can get.

We do all kinds of things to justify injustice.  Whether we believe that working hard and having discipline is all that is required,  to being chosen and it is all part of God’s plan.  The poor, disenfranchised, and abject are simply morally inferior or lazy.  But the injustice is there.  It would be nice to be able to say that your life’s purpose is to end injustice, but still, where are we going.  In other words, we have a just society living on the planet that we are killing?  And if we weren’t killing it, what then?  Maybe as human beings we just need to have something to do whether that is scratching out life at a primitave level to finding a source of clean and cheap energy for the human race.

Since I am doing neither, I am back to my existential question, what makes my existence worth the trouble.  I guess enough of us decide at some point it isn’t (suicide).  For those with a terminal illness and in great pain, they make what I consider a really really brave decision that their time is up.  And I think that in the fact that I think that is a really really brave decision, I may have an answer to my question, because they are choosing to no longer experience life or the love of those around them.

There is something about our awareness of experiencing life that makes it precious.  I still marvel at a beautiful sunset or the wonder of the universe.  I still find fine food or wine an art and the experience makes makes me smile.  I still love art and the creativity of my fellow man.  To be loved as I am lucky enough to experience is justifying in itself. Maybe, just maybe, the whole thing is about the joy of the experience of the world around us like no other animal can.  Maybe life is meaningful because we can feel the wonder of it.  The experience of love and regarding another’s life as more precious than ours is something very very precious.  And maybe what really makes it meaningful is that we don’t get a choice about being here, we just are, and we should be working hard to make it better for all of us.  

But that doesn’t mean we should quit asking the question where are we going and is this sustainable. For me the meaning of life is experiencing it in all its wonder.  On the other hand if you are a young man or woman trafficked for sex, you might have a whole other view.  I think of two scenes in art that captures my thoughts here, one is from the movie Blade Runner when Harrison Ford is on the roof and at the mercy of the replicant Rutger Hauer.  Hauer wants to kill him but as his internal clock is running out and life for him is ending, he finds his love of life so strong, he does not kill Ford:

In the film, the dying replicant Roy Batty makes this speech to Harrison Ford’s character Deckard moments after saving him from falling off a tall building. Deckard had been tasked to kill him and his replicant friends. The words are spoken during a downpour, moments before Batty’s death:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

The other is in the movie Michael with John Travota playing an irreverant angel whose final trip to earth is ending. When Travolta in the movie finally knows his time is up, when his body is ready to disappear from this world and he says with tears in his eyes:

 “I’m gonna miss everything so much.” 

I think that about sums it up for me.  Now I need to get back to saving the world for Donald Trump and Republican who are bent on destroying life and freedom as we know it.

How Did I Get Here?

And you may find yourself
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

Lyrics from the Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime. And I am asking the same thing this morning, how did we get here?  How did America go from a proud and progressive nation to chaos and ignorance? How did we get a nation that ignores science and data? How are we on the verge of quite possibly electing a pathological liar and racist whose pathology and racism is for all to see?  How did we get a Congress that seems to have two sets of facts, yours and theirs? How did we become a nation that cannot have a civil discussion about politics and policies? And most important, how did personal aggrandizement become more important than the good of the country?

Well I have tried to answer some of that in these blogs over the years.  I have tried to point out how psychological makeup predisposes us to believe certain things.  That to be a fully civilized human you have to recognize our own selfish tendencies and rise above them.  And yet here we are in what might be described as a tantrum of emotional bullshit.  We could be on the cusp of electing an orange haired phonie who does not even pretend anymore to hide his phoniness.  Oh, I get that Hillary is flawed and too calibrated.  I get that she may be to aligned with the establishment.  But she is rational and dealing mostly with the same facts the rest of us are.  Donald is pedaling chaos and revolution and his followers are almost in a trance.

So maybe after you have gone out and cast a vote for him, some of the other lyrics might come back to you from this song:

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say yourself, “My God! What have I done?”

Hate and anger never got us anywhere and voting motivated by those feelings will be a disaster.  I like to think we are all in this together, but I am beginning to wonder.

Lobbing in a Grenade

UPDATE 29 October 0910 PST:  It would appear that the Daily Beast did a much better job than I on excoriating Comey and laying out the problem and the way forward:  The Ultimate 11th Hour Clinton Scandal

UPDATE 29 October 0820 PST: VOX reported:  “Earlier, the Associated Press reported that the new emails did not come from Clinton’s private server, citing to a US official. And NBC’s Pete Williams reported during a TV segment that, according to his sources, the new emails are not from Hillary Clinton herself and they don’t appear to involve evidence that she or her people deliberately withheld from the FBI.”  So why again is this an investigation into Clinton?  If Comey will get off his cowardice ass and clarify this, the Clinton team can fight back showing how the Republicans totally distorted Comey’s cover your ass move.  At this point, somewhere down the line when the dust has settled, President Hillary Clinton should ask Comey to look for other work.

UPDATE 2015 PST:  It would appear this is much to do about nothing other than the FBI giving the Republicans a chance to further lie about Hillary.  According to a Newsweek reporter, the emails are emails Huma copied from other servers to print them (required) since the State Department printer was too slow.  So we probably have the same emails we have seen before and had nothing to do with Hillary.  Ball in your court Comey to clarify this instead of creating innuendo and false impressions.  Oh, and Hillary, if the above is true, I would go on the offensive to expose the Republicans for the lies they have made up (Ryan wanting to stop Hillary’s classified briefings).

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that emails had surfaced in a case unrelated to the Clinton case, and that they “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”  ARE YOU KIDDING? Later it was clarified that while they found more emails, nothing so far indicated any change to their original findings.  This is about the most tone deaf and politically stupid thing Comey could do and could very well effect the outcome of the election, and for sure the down ballot race and yet they have no idea if there is anything there.  WTF was he thinking?

I have a theory.  Comey hates Clinton.  That certainly came out in the first investigation when instead of a professional finding that while there were lapses in judgement, there was nothing rising to the level of a crime and no intent to break the law, he excoriated her.  That is not his role.  The Democrats let it go as the outcome was early enough in the campaign that she could overcome his overly personal condemnation.  But now 11 days before the election he lobs in this grenade and there was no reason to.  They may find emails from now until hell freezes over and is he going to reopen the investigation every time?

It is clear that she used poor judgement, but so did Colin Powell and others before her, we just have never seen those emails because they have never been required by the FBI to produce them.  And it is also clear that there was no intent to knowingly exposes anything classified, while the State Department and the FBI are still arguing about what was and was not classified.  Let’s face it, our classified system is a mess and classified information is all over the place.  In other words this is a witch hunt and the FBI Director should have never done this this late in the campaign.  

Not much to do right now, except it is time for Democrats to really go after Comey and not let him hide behind “independent professionalism”. This was a partisan grenade and one wonders if the investigations will never end. Salem Witch Trail anyone? You want to talk about a rigged election, you may have just seen the first real evidence.

Tortured Conservatives and Tortured Logic

I am sure you have seen them.  Some are Kathleen Parker, Nicole Wallace, Elise Jordan.  The pain is their eyes is obvious when they talk about what happened to their party, and yet they hang on.  Somehow they think the conservative movement, the one they thought they knew, will come back.  Elise Jordan comes to mind when she is on Lawrence O’Donnell and you can see the loss on her face.  They abhor where the Party has gone and yet are wedded to conservative values.  One liberal pundit turned to Elise Jordan the other night and said come on over, the water is fine, but she demurred thinking maybe Libertarian is where she might land.

These kinds of conservatives you probably know. They are good people who believe in being frugal, being careful, and are fearful of big government.  What’s not to like?  I always imagine myself in a friendly argument with one of them about their conservative beliefs, you know, where you can show that what they have supported does not work.  A rational dialogue.  But you cannot win it.  It would be a rare conservative that will cross over even in the face of overwhelming data.  Why is that?

Let me start with this:  Solutions cannot be boiled down to big government or small government, market place solutions or government solutions, low taxes or high taxes, more regulations or less regulations.  The world simply is too complex and while simple solutions with simple metrics as above simply lead us astray.  Now I am not going to make that argument today as I have in many blogs.  It is just sufficient to say, sometimes less government is a solution, and sometimes more government is.  Sometimes low taxes can stimulate growth, but in others (like now were the problem is demand) it fails miserably.  Same with regulations.  Sometimes they save lies, and sometimes they restrict business.  Sometimes they do both.

So with that said, if you do away with religious ideology and fixation on only small government/market place solutions, and I think you can convince most rational Republicans to do that, then why do they still resist being a Democrat that basically doesn’t care about the size of government of the level of taxes, just solutions.  I think there are two things going on and that is ignoring the psychological things that predispose Republicans to their beliefs (basically if you work hard you will succeed, and being fearful) (Understanding Conservatives).

The first is that they were raised Republican.  I ask myself everyday why people belive in god when the physical world around clearly belies that belief.  Well one answer is that they need to, but the other is that they were raised in it, indoctrinated into it, everyone around them takes god for granted.  It seems so natural to them that the data and evidence around them doesn’t penetrate that bubble, and then we are back to the fact that the need to believe it, so they are going to throw up all kinds of walls.  Well the same can apply to being raised Republican (by the way I was raised Republican so there is hope)*.

Part of the indoctrination is a view of liberals that violates their basic belief in frugality, small government, and responsibility.  Most of it today is simply not true.  I wonder how they react to California as a totally Democratic government, finally repairing itself and growing each day?  In other words, they have this built-in mechanism that denies that Democrats are not irresponsible spendthrifts.  The second part of this is what I call the home budget analogy.  Could also be the small business budget analogy.  It is Microeconomics 101.  You have to live within your budgets and debts are bad things.

So the indoctrination, familiarity, and the microeconomic analogy, says, we can’t trust Democrats.  Elise Jordan opined she might go Libertarian with the recognition that the old party is never coming back and the craven pandering to Donald Trump instead of values they honor.  I would say same mistake.  Libertarians think all government is bad.  The old Ronald Reagan, government is the problem.  But it is the same old problem of looking for a simple religion that requires complex answers.

You can’t solve global warming without big government to provide the incentives to move away from fossil fuels is just one example, and does she really want to do away with public schools.  Works fine for the gated communities, but not for most who are working two jobs to try and stay even. And if you accept that the system really is rigged and there is not a level playing field, who levels it?  Come on over Elise, the water really is fine, and you will find a lot of Democrats who want to go slow and be careful.

*Molly Ivins, the great columnist and humorist, when asked why she was a Democrat in Texas after growing up in a very conservative Texas family and she replied, “When I found out they were lying about race, I wondered what else they were lying about.”


Who cares?  At this point I doubt very many people care anymore except ardent partisans.  But it does give the news a story about Hillary as opposed to Trumps groping. Equivalency!  Fair and balanced! The problem as I see it, and of course I am following the story which most people aren’t, is that at least Bill may have gone right up to the line on shady.  Are you surprised?  This is the guy who thought it was just fine to have a private meeting with the Attorney General when his wife was being investigated.  Everyone loves Bill I guess except me.  I don’t think he gets it and never has.  From taking the Democrats right to cheating on his wife. Get that there are basic principles missing here?  He cost Al Gore the election and gave us George Bush.  But Bill isn’t running for office, Hilary is.

Clearly Hillary and Bill are going to have to distance themselves from the Foundation. But what are the allegations? Well, that the Clintons were involved in pay for play.  However, there is no evidence that while Hillary and Bill may have schmoozed with Foundation donors and they may have gotten access, there was no tit for tat with government services.  And HELLO? What do you think every politician does every day to raise funds?  Yes, some of it is unseemly, but nothing illegal.  Think Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia. And think about it, when you look at Donald Trump’s business dealings, this looks like amateur hour in nice-nice land.*

And here is another one for you, why do you think bankers pay those outrageous speaking fees.  For two reasons, one, if they think she may be a player later on, they want to know what see is thinking, and two, that they have a relationship so they can have access when and if she does become a player.  Do you remember Citizens United?  Money is free speech so if this is so terrible, time to rethink that.  In the meantime, that is the way the world works and she is not doing anything any other politician doesn’t do, but the emails make great soap opera fodder for infotainment. And of course if you want to hate her, well this will help. Distracted from the issues by the soap bubbles.

And one has to wonder, why are we getting these leaks and yet we don’t see the Donald’s internal emails?  Do you think it would be much worse? Why doesn’t Wikileaks leak Donald’s tax returns?  This alone should raise all kinds of flags. Do we remember why Assange is hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy?  Do we think he might have a problem with Hillary as a strong woman.  I don’t know, but the whole thing stinks.  My guess is he is hoping to drop something big next week.

And here is the really sad thing, what it might impact are down ballot races.  If Assange is successful, he might just be the tool Russia and Republicans need to give us dysfunctional government for four more years.  Trump has lost this race, but this is just a tactical battle from the Republicans point of view.  If, as they tried to do with Barack, make Hillary a one term President who can’t get much done, then we are going to have worse than Trump next time, as the people who don’t believe in science, whose economic ideas favor only the wealthy, and want to infuse our government with religious ideas to take social progress back 100 years will get another bite at the apple.  Don’t you just love ignorance?

*Republicans are already threatening investigation after investigation if Hillary gets elected.  I think you might recall that she has been investigated to the hilt and it has been a total waste of money.  But go right ahead of vote Republican down ballot and ensure gridlock and millions wasted on more investigations.  It’s the Republican way these days.

Destroying Democracy

I have made this claim before and I will assert it here again:  The current Republican Party does not like or honor democracy.  They have become an ideological cult that rejects the very premise of our Constitution, majority rule.  If it is not their way, it is heresy and they will block it.  Exhibit A is the election of Barack Obama and the Republicans plan to make him fail.  In their conservative religious fog, this was not bad for the country, because only what they wanted was good for the country.  And to implement the plan, their plan was to thwart democracy using the filibuster.  With a Democratic House and Senate, but not a super majority in the Senate, Republicans inflicted their tyranny of the minority on the country.

Now let’s stop and take stock here of the Senate which is NOT a representative body.  Every state gets two Senators with equal power.  So Red States like Wyoming and North Dakota have the same power as the two Senators from California or New York.   Considering the population of Wyoming, if you live in California, the population ratio is 1:66. Your vote in California counts 1/66 as much as a vote in Wyoming (lowest populated state). So Republicans in the Senate during the early Obama years were a minority who represented even a smaller minority of our population. 22 states that have 44 votes in the Senate compared to California’s 2 votes representing the same number of people. Said another way,  41 Senators can block any possible progress. In effect about 11% of the population that elects these Senators is controlling our ability to move forward. And of course these Senators come from Red states. If you wonder why it takes forever for change to take place in our Congress, wonder no more. This makes the filibuster antithetical to any hope of passing anything the Republicans did not preapprove.  See Our Undemocratic Senate.

David Frum a conservative writer wrote this in 2010 about the Party’s politics:

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994…

Okay, in 2011  Former Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren explains the strategy to Washington Post reporter Nancy LeTourneau:

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

And let’s not forget the grand bargain when the Republicans walked away from Obama’s great capitulation on entitlements.  Or the take down of John Boehner because they Tea Party felt he compromised too much. So both sides do it is a fantasy of the media, when the reality is Republicans have been sabotaging government and taking it hostage to defeat democracy. Remember the government shut down over the debt limit and everybody forgets that Congress itself approve the spending they now do not want to extend the debt limit for, in effect defaulting government.  Now let’s fast forward to today.

Republicans blame the slow growth in the economy on Obama, but they now control both Houses and they still won’t compromise.  Remember the demise of the immigration compromise when the House would not even consider it.  We have had eight years of dysfunctional government as a strategic choice by the Republicans.  Now their idol, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia dies and does Obama put up some liberal left wing justice?  Nope, he finds one that if government functioned normally, would have been a shoe in since leading Republicans had lauded him.  But he goes nowhere, not even a hearing. Now we have John McCain and now Ted Cruz vowing to reject anyone Hillary Clinton nominates.  Government only works when they get their way, not quite the implicit contract of the Constitution. It also says in this world we have to get rid of the filibuster so the majority can actually rule.

But the final exhibit is this election itself.  Basically if the Republican candidate loses, it was rigged.  His failure to accept the results (don’t get sidelined here as close elections always have recounts.  See Gore versus Bush) basically says if I can’t have my way we need to have a revolution.  Majority rule means nothing.  Now true, many Republicans have criticized this stance, but they and their scorched earth politics brought us this man, and none of them rejected his lock up Hillary language although that violates the basic tenants of our Constitution requiring due process.  Their endorsement of him basically tells you the abject truth about all of them:  They only care about winning and the system, or the Constitution, or the will of the people, may just be impediments to their ideology.

Way back in 2010, Obama saw this religious zeal to oppose everything he did, even at the expense of governing.  In a speech to the GOP at an Issues conference he noted this:

So all I’m saying is, we’ve got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality. I’m not suggesting that we’re going to agree on everything, whether it’s on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don’t have a lot of room to negotiate with me.

 I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You’ve given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you’ve been telling your constituents is, this guy is doing all kinds of crazy stuff that’s going to destroy America.

He saw it then and it has only metastasized.  My point is very simple.  If you want functional government, the Republican Party has shown it will not be playing.  If you think voting Republican in down ballot races will balance Hillary in Office, you are voting for more dysfunctional government.  As they have shown time and again, they don’t believe in compromise.  You are making a gross false assumption about Republicans we have in office today.  They hate democracy and when Hillary wins they will do everything in their power to obstruct the will of the people.

I want to leave you with this from Linda Greenhouse (Linda is a writer for the NYT that follows the Supreme Court) who also wrote about what she sees as the Republican threat to our democracy and the rule of law:

I’ll end with where I began, with the graceful departure of President George H. W. Bush. Before he left the White House on inauguration morning, President Bush went to the Oval Office and left on the desk a handwritten note for his successor. This in part is what it said:

Dear Bill,

When I walked into this office just now, I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that, too.

I wish you great happiness here …

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

Good luck.


That was a time when opposition parties where to debate and compromise.  Note that George is voting for Hillary.  Now with the present Republican Party they are all about obstructing and destroying their opponent. They have no idea what the loyal opposition is as they got rid of the word loyal. We’ve come a long way baby and it should be no surprise that the “freedom loving,” constitution waving Republicans are destroying what we hold so dear.

Obamacare Increases

UPDATE 28 OCTOBER: I guess I am not the only one:  The Best Way to Save Obamacare

Is this the October Surprise.  Not unless you are brain dead and there is a whole bunch of them that are.  Rates could go up by an average of 25%.  Of course the impact for many of the enrollees will be minimal since their subsidized plan will absorb the increases, but there are some groups that will feel that impact or worse.  So what is the problem?  Short answer is the risk pools are too small.  The projected enrollment at this point was 20M and they have half that, and of that half, most are sick.  Healthy young people are not enrolling. Basically insurers are adjusting their plans for less bill payers and more costs.  Some insurers have dropped out because they can’t accurately access the risk, and the hoped for competition in some states where there is basically only one insurer, is of course, non-existent. So what to do about it?  

I heard one conservative expert suggest that we reduce the regulations that require the plans to cover basic things, in effect hollowing out the coverage and we are back to junk plans.  If I am young and healthy (neither), I want a plan that doesn’t cost much so it doesn’t cover pregnancy and stuff I don’t think I will never use.  The problem with that is then the people who want the plan to cover stuff like pregnancy or mental health  then go up even further up.  Then there is the problem of people simply not enrolling and the penalties are not high enough for not having health care.  If you want a good short summary of some of things that could be done check out Sarah Kliff’s Vox interview.

But here is the thing.  We have one whole party that will just vote to repeal it, and won’t have rational discussions about fixing it.  And in my opinion it is just jerry rigging a system that will never really control costs because Congressional Republicans and some Democrats will continue to protect insurers and big Pharma.  And we are standing in a place where we can look around the entire world and see that nobody tries to operate as we do, and many countries deliver better health care at half the cost.  Maybe this is not a flashing light saying went too far, but not far enough.  Why not finally go over to single payer?

SINGLE PAYER!  Communism! Socialism! See Canada! Okay feel better?  Ask yourself what is the business model for private insurers whose sole purpose is to served their stockholders?  As any business will tell you they must maximize profits for their stockholders and in the health insurance business that is enroll healthy people and deny claims.  We have Medicare for a very simple reason.  There is no profit in enrolling old people.  So the government has to step in and spread the risk pool across the whole nation.  But if health care is a right, which I firmly believe, then the profit motive at the insurer level has no place.  It is counter intuitive and the results we have seen over and over is that it is certainly the mostly costly way to give people healthcare.

Single payer can mean lots of things from a system in England where health care itself is provide by government workers to elsewhere in Europe/Asia where the government is just the insurer and the market place survives at the level of providing actual care, doctors and hospitals.  We actually already have that system for federal retirees and it works just fine.  There are problems with any health care service and the bogey man is rationing, but we already ration using cost. This problem and others are being solved elsewhere in the world and god forbid we could learn from other countries.  

There are a myriad of details that have to be thought out and improved, but we would finally be on the path to universal health care and a system whose driving force is not profit, but healthcare and medicine at a reasonable cost.  I would just ask you this:  As you see big Pharma gouging and health care costs soar, do you think this system is working or are you just abstracting from your experience where you have a Cadillac plan?  Just wait till your employer starts passing those costs on to you and then maybe you will wake up.  And then again you might ask, why are employers being saddled with this cost* which might make them no competitive in a world market?  Why don’t we just expand the risk pool to the entire nation and get over with it?  

So the light is flashing and probably the only way forward if we get a reasonable Congress is to make fixes to Obamacare and maybe, just maybe offer a single payer plan similar to the Federal Retirement System where the feds share in your health cost and you can shop plans across a broad spectrum of providers.  We will see whether we see this as an opportunity to change, or another excuse to pull back.

*Employer provided healthcare is a result of WWII when the government put price controls on everything including labor to prevent wild inflation.  In order for businesses, especially manufacturing to compete for labor, benefits was the one thing that was not controlled so they offered free medical benefits and here we are today.

Donald Trump’s October SURPRISE!

Way back when, when Donald Trump started his run for office, I actually thought what he was doing was performance art to show how dysfunctional the Republican Party is.  Maybe it started out that way, but…  But what if it has been a giant joke all along?  What if Donald Trump was the Trojan Horse of the Democrats?  Could you imagine the following occurring in the last week of the election?

Donald Trump before a giant rally and the press to make his “October Surprise” speech, with everyone expecting some kind of wild attack on Hillary:

“My fellow Americans, America is rigged and you don’t know the half of it.  But the joke is on you my fellow Republicans and conservatives.  I ran for office as a Republican to demonstrate that you lack the thinking skills to select a competent leader and here we are today with the proof.  

First, I told you that building a giant wall would solve all problems with Mexicans, and you never asked, what problem?  Nor did you ask how we would pay for it so when I told you Mexico would pay for it, you bought it hook, line, and sinker. If I could build it, I would invest in tunneling equipment because there would be a run on it. It would be a bigely (or maybe big league) investment.  

Second, I told you that we need to ban Muslims from entering the country and then register all American Muslims and you bought it again hook, line, and sinker.  Nobody asked wouldn’t this make all Islam the problem alienating half the population of the world and play right into the hands of ISIS who wants to characterize the war as just that.  Then I denigrated a Gold Star family, not to mention John McCain and you did not flinch.  I turned patriotism into a fault.

Third, I told you that our problems are total incompetence with trade agreements and would cancel NAFTA and renegotiate it.  Nobody asked how I would do that or how I would actually renegotiate it.  I told you I would repeal Obamacare and gave you no alternate plan but basically what we had before.  In fact, I told you as a great businessman, I would fix everything and you bought it although I have no real plans to do anything.  Who supports someone who you have no idea what they would do?

Fourth, I told you I would protect entitlements (Social Security and Medicare) and then presented a budget that would bankrupt the country, claimed growth figures we have not seen since right after WWII, with the same old giant tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, with no explanation on how I would do all this, and not cut entitlements and you cheered. What happened to adding and subtracting? Oh, and my whole economic fantasy is based on flow-down that has never worked.  Can you not read?

Fifth, I told you I would do things that obviously violated the Constitution like lock up Hillary Clinton although she had been cleared by every investigation created to smear her, and you wildly cheered.  I told you the election was rigged and there was voter fraud everywhere when there are no facts to support that and elections are independently run by the states who are mostly Republican and again you bought it hook, line, and sinker.  In fact I have lied about a ton of things that there is video to prove I lied and you did not even blink.  When I got caught telling exactly what I have done to women, then lied about it in a debate, and then women came forward to tell their stories, I claimed it a Corporate, Democratic, Media, Elite conspiracy and you fools bought that one.

Sixth, I told you that the polls and everything you hear about me in the press is a lie and a liberal elite media plot and you bought it.  It was the liberal media that covered me non-stop to get me the free coverage I needed and never fact checked me as I lied through my teeth about so many things.  Now I have got you wanting to destroy the first amendment when the media actually started doing their job.  I think I could make a fortune with my own network continuing to feed you my lies. I could make Fox News look like real journalism.  I have got to work on that.

Seventh, I have been a leach all my life. I have cheated people in business dealings, racially discriminated, sent jobs overseas, hired undocumented workers, swindled victims in university scams, and have a charitable foundation that is now under investigation because it only gave to me, and you still think I am a great businessman.  I won’t release my tax returns and earlier in my career my Daddy bailed me out of all my bad investments, and you do know I lost almost a billion dollars back in th 90’s but you think I am just the guy to run the economy.  Oh, and there is that misogyny thing and my treatment of women although the evangelicals forgave me. What does that say about their morals?

And finally, after I trashed the Republican Party and its leadership, they came crawling to my feet to endorse me to save their butts.  I insulted their families and they cravenly crawled back.  When my lechery with women was exposed some of them unendorsed me and then looked at the polls and re-endorsed me.  What does that expose about who they are?

So now I stand before you exposing you for the lunkheads and Neanderthals you are.  I can’t believe you guys really don’t believe in science.  You would elect a lying, xenophobic, racist, not to mention tyrant and incompetent business man to run your country.  I have done a great service to my country and I am a great American because I have exposed the rot that is the Republican Party.  In the future I will be referred to as the Great Donald Trump who exposed America’s ignorant and immoral Republican Party for what it is and saved America.  Now I am going back to Trump Tower to eat a hamburger and rejoice in my greatness and the service I have done for the country. Now make America great again by voting out the Republican mob.  God bless America.

The sad thing is most of the above is true.  I wonder if he really does get how he has exposed the craven and immoral Republican Party and in that sense, did the country a great service. Oh well, I can dream.