Archive for March 2017

The Ugly American Rises Again

Anybody Remember what happen in Iran, or Egypt for that matter?  Apparently not:  “Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has decided to lift all human rights conditions on a major sale of F-16 fighter jets and other arms to Bahrain in an effort to end a rift between the United States and a critical Middle East ally, according to administration and congressional officials involved in the debate.”  Remember when we supported all those right-wing governments in Latin America as long as they did our bidding?  United Fruit anyone?  It did not work out so well as we became the bad guy.

Rex Tillerson is the poster boy for reinstating the ugly American.  It is not about human rights or people’s lives, it is about business.  That is why businessmen/women are not the best choice for government service.  It’s service, not maximizing profits.  Maybe we might make friends and have them go after radical terrorism, but it is that root cause thing again.  What is the cause of terrorism?  Could it be totalitarian governments that have not advanced enough to give their people hope?  So the short term maximizing of profits becomes king, while the long term best interests of peace and prosperity get shuffled aside.

Now for the other side of the coin.  In North Carolina, business speaks and boycotts the state (especially sports) on their bathroom law and the pressure mounts.  Now apparently the Democratic governor and the Republican controled legislature may have a deal. No the deal is not perfect, but it shows that the only thing that really talks is money, not rational thinking or compassion.  Funny, in the Bible Belt too.

Meanwhile in Climate Change land businesses are taking on Cheeto-Head on his rush to reinvent stupidity by trying to revive coal. It finally occurs to most business minded people (isn’t Trump suppose to be business minded?) that there are more jobs created in a clean energy economy than there is reinstating coal.  But as I noted yesterday, stupidity just keeps on giving and this president is one of the stupidest we have ever had.

Meanwhile in ignorance land, apparently many of the scientists that use to work in the White House have hit the pavement, opposed to the non-think of the White House and the White House is not backfilling the positions.

But critics see the empty offices as part of a devaluation of science throughout the Trump administration, including the reversal of Mr. Obama’s climate change policies and proposals to sharply reduce spending for research on climate change, science and health. They note that Mr. Obama appointed his top science adviser, John P. Holdren, a Harvard physicist and climate-change expert, in December 2008, weeks before his inauguration.

At the same time, conservatives — including a member of Mr. Trump’s transition team — have called for getting rid of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. (The chief technology officer is a part of that larger office.) They argue that the office, created by Congress in 1976, is a bloated bureaucracy that duplicates expertise already found at government agencies.

Does it just get any better than this?  In the meantime the investigation into Russian involvement in the American election and the possible (for sure) involvement of the Trump administration, stymied because the House Republican leader of that investigation shut it down, clearly because he panick when he found out there was a there there, is opening up in earnest in the Senate.  So there is hope.  The other Russian news is that Director Comey wanted to announce the attack by the Russians back in July, but the Obama administration prevented him, because they wanted all the intelligence agencies to weigh in.  But think about that a second.  How did they know unless they were listening to conversation of Russian agents.  And that is how they know about the collusion.  It is adding up.

Again I am listening to media morons asking why Democrats won’t work with Republicans and there was an op-ed this morning in the NYT to that effect.  What total bullshit.  Why should the Democrats capitulate what they believe in so the Cheeto-Head administration looks like it is doing something when it is dismantling our government.  That is what they did in Obama’s second term and nobody knows what they stand for anymore. Well off to San Diego for a few days with my son, and then back to the grind.

Stupidity Just Keeps on Giving

In England where my daughter now resides and works, Theresa May has officially started the exit from the European Union.  I can’t think of anything more stupid.  You would think after they had their fling with the vote, they would realize what they have done, but nope, the stupidity continues.  I could give you a million reasons why this is stupid, but here is one not easy to quantify.  Millions of youth have experienced the freedom to move about Great Britain and Europe with almost a single currency and no visa/borders.  They could pursue their dream wherever.  Theresa May and old rural people in Britain are putting an end to that.  I see the Scottish Parliment voted for a referendum on independence again.  And this is Putin’s dream, a fragmented and divided Europe.

Meanwhile the stupidity of the Cheeto-Head administration just keeps on giving.  I listened to Sean Spicer lie through his teeth about Sally Yates and the White House having no problem with her testifying.  The Post has all the letters they sent to her attorney claiming the topics are covered by attorney-client privilege or the presidential communication privilege.  Hmm.  Is that not trying to cut her off?  Not according to Spicer who maintains there is no there there in the Russian investigation.  Just to darken the view even more, the House Intelligence (oxymoron) Committee cancelled their hearings the day before she was to testify and have not met since.  I sure would like to hear what she has to say.  But the point here is that the White House has become propaganda central.  As Rachel Maddow reported yesterday, they repeatedly lie so there is no point in trying to find any truth there.

Really? Does the Stupidity never end?  I am reminded of my tour in South East Asia.  I was assigned to Udorn Thailand in an RF4C to fly low level reconnaissance missions in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.  The war was lost and was never winnable (define winning).  There was nothing to win and yet there we were flying into harm’s way for what?  Because it is hard to say oops, sorry, we were wrong?  So the stupidity tragically continued because we could not, as I believe Senator George Aiken said, “Declare victory and go home.”  People had to continue dying for nothing but hubris.  

So with Theresa May, they got that sled headed downhill and they are just going to ride it into the wall at the bottom.  Same with the Cheeto-Head Administration.  They claim up is down and down is up and we go on pretending they are not crazy.  Watched Cheeto-Head sign an executive order to end the Obama restrictions on Coal and they really believe any jobs are coming back?  We just pretend craziness is another point of view.  How stupid is that?

My favorite normalization of irrational and incompetent behavior* is the new talking point by the right, “We have been the opposition party for 8 years and now we have to learn how to govern.”  What a crock of shit.  Let’s go back to Project Management 101.  You have a team that does not like your idea so you challenge them, what’s your idea.  It’s call leadership.  Republicans never had an idea that was subject to scrutiny (see repeal and replace) because none of their ideas worked**.  So this is all about being uncomfortable in their new role as opposed to having not a clue what will work in today’s world?  B.S.

So we deny global warming, gut environmental regulations because, “it is good for business”, have no idea how to create, only destroy healthcare plans, propose walls instead of sound immigration reform, sell out our privacy to the highest bidder, and of course still trying to discriminate based upon religion.  And we claim these are just growing pains. Stupidity just keeps on giving.

Oh, and keep your eye on the ball, the Cheeto-Heads are up to their belly buttons with the Russians.  But worry not middle and rural America, this is just business.  Oh how stupidity blossoms.

*If you read the story it is about how they failed to pass their healthcare bill because they failed to follow procedures that would have allowed them to come together and work together.  Horse Shit.  This is the favorite talking point of the media these days and it totally misses the point.  What were they trying to accomplish?  Were they really trying to make Obamacare better?  Define better.  Ryan’s bill made it horribly worse but accomplished his goal, getting the Feds out of healthcare.  Would that improve healthcare turning it back over to the marketplace?  Haven’t we been there before?

The bill was trying to meet the objectives of the Freedom Caucus, to simply repeal Obamacare and walk away, and other Republicans who were facing reality in their less gerrymandered districts that people wanted it fixed not repealed.  And there is the rub as Shakespeare like to say:  Keeping the things they liked (keeping your kids on your plan till 26, no restrictions on pre-existing conditions, yearly caps on out-of-pocket expenses, no life time cap on benefits) while getting rid of the things they did not like (restrictions on what is covered, individual mandate, tax on the wealthy) is not possible.  One pays for the other.

So there was no Republican fix, and why they haven’t had one in 8 years that works.  The only real fix was suggested by Paul Krugman.  So when you hear the lunacy of Republicans and Democrats just need to get together to work this out, they have different priorities.  If one side is trying to push a giant rock up a hill, and the other is trying to roll it down the hill, how is it again they work together?  There is no compromise. The rock just doesn’t move. The system cannot be fixed by Republicans (there are no free market solutions) unless fixed means gutted. They are really good at that.

 

**Again we get lost in worked.  If worked is the improve Obamacare by keeping all the coverage and making it more afforable the Republicans got nothing.  If worked means gutting coverage to have healthy people with cheaper plans and sticking it to the sick, while transferring all the costs to the sick, old, or unhealthy, then they do have some ideas.

Lunacy Tuesday

I want you to read this statment and tell me what you think.  This is in regard to President Trump rolling back of President Obama’s climate rules specifically around “Clean Coal Plants:

Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, said in an interview on ABC News on Sunday that it will help the United States “be both pro-jobs and pro-environment” and described it as the “energy independence executive order.”

Up is down and down is up!  Even a 6th grader knows coal jobs are not coming back because machines have taken over most of the work.  Coal does not compete well with natural gas which is abundant, and of course it badly pollutes out environment.  And who is it that thinks mountaintop removal mining is good for the environment?  Energy independence?  We don’t import coal now so how does that help?  Again, the 6th grader in me wants to ask why we are not going full steam ahead on renewables that don’t emit carbon if we want to talk about real energy independence.  How is this hard?

But middle America and Cheeto-Head groupies love it.  And so now we are putting our country behind the rest of the world and damaging it in a two-for-one move by that “smart” business man who is going save those coal jobs.  Really, it is about short term profits for the already rich and throwing a bone to those too stupid to think this through.  

Oh, and one last thing on the lunacy topic.  Who thought a business person would be the best fit for running our government?  Again, I ask you to engage your 6th grade brain and think it through.  Is a business person (in general) worried about helping every last customer and employee, or is he looking to maximize profits?  Well if you can do both, great, but what is the “bottom line” so to speak?  Profits.  Putting Cheeto-Head and his family in charge is to put profits first.  So what makes good business sense (maximizing profits for the wealthy in the short term) is going to be what drives the train.  

So I ask you, have you seen a repeal and replace healthcare plan that is cheaper and covers more than Obamacare?  Oh, and you nut cases that had you employer healthcare, did you know Obamacare improved your coverage? Now we are on to Tax Reform which will also likely fail or at least not be reform because too many of people whose apple carts would be turned over are the Wealthy.  The Wall will never be funded although we may run around with storm troopers harassing imigrants, which will have nothing but negative impacts.  In foreign policy, it appears we are getting more aggressive and engaged instead of disengaging.  How are all those promises from the great business man working out for you?  Just great?  Lunacy reigns.

Oh, My Head Hurts

Paso – Or As I think of it, Chill

Yesterday, as I was driving home from my trip to Paso Robles I listened to Meet the Press.  My brain hurts.  I read the paper this morning and more nonsense.  It is as though our News Media, nose pressed against the window of Washington cannot see the forest for the trees.  Major discussions about what Cheeto-Head did and did not do to get the healthcare bill passed.  Major discussions about Congressional dittle-heads and why they did not come together. Not a peep about how bad the bill was or that Republicans are incapable of improving healthcare except if improving means gutting coverages.

Okay, I know, I launched on this yesterday, but it is rather amazing that we have these debates in our news about how the Republicans could have taken more time, or got more input and come up with a better bill (define better).  Not a word about whether they really want universal coverage or how can a healthcare insurance work if we don’t insure a larger pool, spreading the risk. Again I harken back to a rational debate.  What is it we are trying to achieve and then what are the possible paths forward.  The debate fails when we don’t first examine what we are trying to achieve and see if Republican solutions even address them.  They don’t.

And there is a bias going on in the Press.  It is the both sides equivalency again*.  A headline from the NYT said:  Democrats, Buoyed by GOP Health Defeat, See No Need to Offer Hand.  Offer hand for what?  The Republicans are trying to destroy the country first decimating Health Care, and next up are tax cuts.  One Party is the party of increasing economic (and social) inequality and the other is just the opposite.  How should they offer a hand?  Fix Obamacare.  Again, we are entering shear stupidity by the news media. Democrats have all kinds of solutions (See Paul Krugman this morning).  But since the aims of the two parties are diametrically opposed, none of that is going to happen.

Now Republicans are going to do what they can to make Obamacare fail because they don’t really believe in government involvement in healthcare.  Democrats should help them by fixes that Republicans won’t let work?  Next up are tax cuts.  Everyone loves tax cuts.  Wall Street has been giddy over that promise by Cheeto-Head.  Democrats should help them with gutting our important programs so the wealthy can get richer?  Maybe they will dangle some minor cuts for the middle class.  Should Democrats leap for the bangles?  I think not.  We need to reform our tax system, but once again the two Parties have two different agendas.

Republicans are focused on job creators who don’t create jobs, but just get wealthier with their tax cuts.  That has to do with economic inequality.  With most of the pie going to a few, there is less demand, therefore less jobs.  Democrats want to make the tax code fairer and fund things like Social Security, Medicare, and let’s not forget infrastructure.  Where is Cheeto-Head’s promised trillion-dollar infrastructure spending?  Again we have two parties with two different agendas.  The Republicans have no interest in government spending for infrastructure because it cuts into their tax cuts.  It there will be an infrastructure bill at all, it will be aimed at tax credits/breaks to the private sector and a backdoor way of handing our infrastructure to the private sector.  And not much will happen.

So while the press focuses on the politics (who said what, who hates who, what is the vote count), they are missing the big picture on everything.  I read something this morning that kind of explains where we are right now from The Stone, The Delight in Our Destruction:

“I, for example,” says the nameless narrator in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s “Notes From Underground (1864),” “would not be the least bit surprised if suddenly, out of the blue, amid the universal future reasonableness, some gentleman of ignoble or, better, of retrograde and jeering physiognomy, should emerge, set his arms akimbo, and say to us all: ‘Well, gentlemen, why don’t we reduce all this reasonableness to dust with one good kick, for the sole purpose of sending all these logarithms to the devil and living once more according to our own stupid will!’ That would still be nothing, but what is offensive is that he’d be sure to find followers: that’s how man is arranged.”

And that my friends is where we are and we fail to name it and claim it.  We fail to even understand our pursuit of our own self=destruction.  The Press focus on the ants when the elephants are coming.

*Sixty Minutes had a story on fake news last night and they made the equivalency argument.  Now it is clear that during the election it was totally one-sided from the right.  As The Atlantic notes, the left is now not immuned.  But they all miss the biggie in the room, Fox News and the White House.  Fox is watched by more people than any other network and they make a habit of promoting these stories, thus multiplying the effect.  Ditto with the President and Spicer. So give me a break.  While the rest of respected media fact checks these things. Fox News and the White House just amplifies them (conservative fake new).

And the Wall is Just Healthcare Repeal and Replace All Over Again

The feds have put out a solicitation for Cheeto-Head’s wall, basically a 30′ tall prison wall.  Have Cheeto-Head’s fan club considered that this is as ill considered and half assed as his repeal and replace bill?  Of course it is exactly the same thing.  What we want is a resonable immigration bill that allows us to control our borders, and allow workers to traverse fairly simply.  Forget the drug problem.  Most drugs come in at border crossings.  The real net crossing at the border is almost zero, and never has a terrorist tried to enter that way when the airports are so much simpler.  So we are going to throw up a wall costing around $100 billion that destroys the environment and makes us look like the movie “Escape from L.A.”

So how does that solve our problem for immigrant labor we so badly need or say about who we are?  It is the mess the repeal and replace health care bill was all over again and trust me, it will never pass the House.  They want to spend money on tax cuts, not walls.  But we continue marching down the road of stupidity because middle America thought Cheeto-Head was going to change things.  If you just changed “change” to “wreck” you would have it.  But on we march.

Sunday Morning and Returning to Reality

Today I make the trek back up I-5 to work that awaits me and a fond reunion with my two pets.  The central coast is beautiful and I had a wonderful trip with wonderful friends.  Besides next weekend I will be in San Diego for a short visit with my son.  Who could ask for more.  A place called Beerfish is calling me.

But what is striking to me as I pick up the paper is the talk about Cheeto-Head’s lack of leadership, the failure to plan for a real healthcare replacement, and House Republicans who cannot work together.  Huh?  The old project manager in me comes out here.  That is all nonsense.  The goal was to come up with a market based healthcare plan that corrected all the problems of Obamacare while keeping the things people liked. Mission Impossible and still we don’t talk about that.  There is no marketplace plan where everyone gets choice and there is no individual mandate that cost effectively covers existing conditions or includes such things as wellness care, psychological help, and caps out of pocket payments.  If there is, please show me where in the world it is happening.

If the Republicans had just been honest and said poor and sick people just die, and the rest of us get low healthcare premiums and the rich get a big tax cut, well then they had a chance.  But they said it was going to be better than Obamacare, everyone gets covered (they later changed that to access), you get choice, and it will be cheaper but you lose nothing.  If that is the goal, then the rest of the world has a plan for us.  It is called single payer.  So what I don’t get is why we continue to pretend that if Cheeto-Head would have had a clue, or the Republicans had a more coherent plan, they could have succeeded.  Oh, they could have passed a bill, but they would have met none of their metrics.  See what they did end up with.

So while we focus on their incompetence, disorganization, and the buffoonery of Cheeto-Head, what gets lost in all this is that there is no marketplace solution.  It was tilting at windmills.  Sure there are things wrong with Obamacare that need fixing.  The fix is to provide a single payer option and make sure everyone pays in.  As long as our news media continues to focus on bumbling politicians and does not focus on policy, we learn nothing, kick the present guys and gals out, and get a new bunch.  Rinse, repeat.

While I am on the subject, let’s take Social Security.  Oh, it is going to run out of money!  Well yes if we don’t fund it appropriately. One easy fix is just to raise the limit on income taxed.  Right now it is capped at $118,500.  Why?  Medicare is also going to “run out of money!”  Only if we don’t fund them with taxes.  Now do you start to see the problem. The fix for those of us who see these programs as essential is to fund them (raise the appropriate taxes and we all share in the cost).  The fix for Republicans who believe taxes are evil is to gut them.  The represent the rich who don’t need them.  So if the argument is around our current budget and you can’t raise taxes, the Republican proposal is to reduce benefits, especially if we can cut taxes for the wealthy.  The Democrats want to either redirect funding in existing programs to maintain them or raise taxes.  See the problem?

The problem is that we are not talking about the root issue.  We can afford these programs if we choose to but we really have to have a discussion about whether we buy the Republican lie that only lazy people use them, or they are essential to our security and well being.  We ignore this more basic debate, just as in healthcare, and get lost in the soap opera of the politics.  That was the root problem with Hillary’s campaign from many people’s point of view.  Bernie was clear about what his basic principles were and where we were going.  Hillary, for all her left leaning, really was an establishment Democrat that thought the answer was a compromise in these two basic ways of looking at our way forward.

There is no compromise.  There is no could the two parties just get along.  We see our future in fundamentally different ways.    So back to where we started.  If you believe that everyone deserves healthcare and it should not be hollow plans, there is no marketplace solution.  Republicans have nothing.  If you believe we need to help kids get affordable education or we need a national retirement system for those who pay in, again the Republicans have nothing.  There are not marketplace solutions for these things.  Ask yourself how that 401k is doing?  The economic inequality they have created with their marketplace solutions for everything, just prices most of us out of the market.  When we finally have that discussion, then we are really talking.

WTF Day 2

Well I am in Paso Robles living the life and the healthcare bill goes down in flames. I love all the finger pointing, especially at Democrats.  “They did not help us.” I want to remind them of something.  Back in 2009 and 2010, they did not help the Democrats and the Democrats got it passed.  And make no mistake.  This was one terrible bill.  I wonder if any Cheeto-Head worshippers noted that the final bill violated every promise he made?  Probably not.  Mornings after reading their cereal box, they are done reading for the day.

“With no Democrat support, we couldn’t quite get there. We were just a small number of votes short in terms of getting our bill passed.”

The one thing it did establish is that Obamacare set a new bar for healthcare, that we are all covered and that the coverage is real.  Republican intentions were clear all along.  It had nothing to do with giving you better cheaper plans, but to turn healthcare back over to the private sector with government out of it.  You remember what that was like before Obamacare? Most people, and it is nice we finally joined the rest of the world, now think affordable healthcare is a right.  That is a biggie.

But make no mistake, they are not done.  The big lie is that Obamacare is failing:

“I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode. It is exploding right now.”

This is exaggerated. As Reed Abelson and Margot Sanger-Katz have reported for The Upshot, the Affordable Care Act’s insurance markets are not “exploding,” “imploding,” “failing,” “collapsing” or in a “death spiral.”

While there are certainly issues with the current law (for example, high premiums and deductibles), the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in its first estimate of the Republican bill that both it and the Affordable Care Act would stabilize over the long run.

When your religion tells you that the market place solves all problems, they will just take another approach:

Instead, Republican leaders said, they would wait for the Affordable Care Act to encounter fatal problems, believing that Democrats will then want to work with them to make changes.

Now let’s all take a deep breath here and think what we just learned.  Every approach to “choice” means that for every lower cost plan (young and healthy) there are much more expensive plans (old, sick, or pre-existing conditions).  In other words unless we share the risk across the whole population, only the wealthy can afford their plans if they really get sick.  Second, we had market place solutions and “competition” and it did not work.  So if you want to make changes, unlike the changes Cheeto-Head was making to try to get conservative morons to go with it (you get sick, you die), you would have to offer a public option. Oh, and increase the penalty for those who do not insure themselves.  Or you could just have a single payer system for every one paid for with our taxes and end the whole misery.

But of course conservatives who worship at the altar of the market place, they will try to drive spikes into the present system to make sure it fails and then enact some nothing plan.  Then they will say, see, I told you so.  I actually think most people are now awake about their healthcare.  Of course I said that about women and the right to choose, and Republican women voted for Cheeto-Head, so take all that with a grain of salt.

Meanwhile on the Russian plot, the plot thickens.  Andrea Mitch reported that White House Staff are purging their electronic devices and the Daily Beast reported that Congressman Nunes disappeared the day before his famous press conference which he has now retracted.  Again, my gut tells me the Russian connection is bigger than any of us thought and the agencies investigating this are not sure how to release information that brings down an administration and casts a shadow of illegitimacy on the whole election.  In other words now what do we do?  We could have a new special election, but Republicans won’t stand for that since all their boys in this order are in line, Pence, Ryan, Orin Hatch, then Rex Tillerson.  Yikes.

Me, I am just going to spend another day tasting wine, maybe hit a brewery or two, and hike on the ocean.  I got my healthcare and it is a single payer system (government retiree).  It works just fine.  Oh, and I have a friend who is Russian so I have an “in” there too.  Not sure what the rest of you are going to do.  Carpé Diem.

Happy Friday!

On this Friday morning I am in Paso Robles, CA, for some serious wine tasting and gazing at the hills, maybe work in a quick trip to the ocean for drinks overlooking the surf.  Time is short and one has to seize every second.  Carpé Diem!

I am down here with some friends who have similar political thoughts and the one that just floors us is why did not the rest of the nation know?  Cheeto-Head is a small ignorant man, or more to the point, here is a man who lied repeatedly and was called out on it, had no coherent policies unless you consider really big, and great as policies, showed ignorance on most issues, and admitted to being a sexual abuser, and almost half of America elects him.  Now they are surprised that he cannot govern?

Actually one has to wonder how most Americans could not figure out that Republicans in general cannot govern.  The reason is simple.  Over the last eight years they became ideological hacks who could only prevent others from governing.  They were so busy saying no to Obama’s rehashed Republican ideas (Obamacare is a Heritage Society idea), that they became impractical ideologues where small government and tax cuts answer every problem and is to be worshipped at the altar of fealty.  Not having to govern, they built their cathedral around ideas that do not work in the real world.

So here we are with a repeal and replace healthcare bill that is draconian and belies everything Cheeto-Head told his worshippers.  Republicans promise better cheaper plans and seem to have not idea how insurance works.  They want to decimate the EPA that has been protecting the environment, and then there is the Cheeto-Head/Ryan budget.  No they are not the same but both would do equal damage.  For Paul Ryan, his Mary Magdalene is Any Rand.  And once again you have to wonder why half the nation did not see all these lies and oversimplifications that would never work in the real world.

I have a theory about that.  There are a lot of reasons the nation has become so dumbed down we elected a buffoon as a President who embarasses us every day, and they include an insular Democratic Establishment that lost their way (and please don’t bring back Hillary Clinton as a sign you did not get the message).  But the most important reason in my mind is the failure of our press.  What screams out at you is that Republicans are so crazy and everyone pretends they are making sense.  The press lends them credibility by not challenging their craziness and trying to create a false equivalency with Democrats to try to appear balanced.  Paul Krugman makes this point this morning talking about how the press has fawned over Paul Ryan while falling to notice that all his policies are houses of cards:

So how did Mr. Ryan reach a position where his actions may reshape the lives of so many of his fellow citizens, in most cases very much for the worse? The answer lies in the impenetrable gullibility of his base. No, not his constituents: the news media, who made him what he is.

You see, until very recently both news coverage and political punditry were dominated by the convention of “balance.” This meant, in particular, that when it came to policy debates one was always supposed to present both sides as having equally well-founded arguments. And this in turn meant that it was necessary to point to serious, honest, knowledgeable proponents of conservative positions.

Enter Mr. Ryan, who isn’t actually a serious, honest policy expert, but plays one on TV. He rolls up his sleeves! He uses PowerPoint! He must be the real deal! So that became the media’s narrative. And media adulation, more than anything else, propelled him to his current position.

…There’s an important lesson here, and it’s not just about health care or Mr. Ryan; it’s about the destructive effects of false symmetry in reporting at a time of vast asymmetry in reality.

This false symmetry — downplaying the awfulness of some candidates, vastly exaggerating the flaws of their opponents — isn’t the only reason America is in the mess it’s in. But it’s an important part of the story. And now we’re all about to pay the price.

Well there it is.  And yet they continue to do it.  So I am not surprised we are on an uncontrolled sleigh ride to hell.  Me?  I am in Paso Robles with good people tasting wine and living in the moment.  It is all we have. Carpé Diem.

WTF!

Well a couple of things.  First, what was Nunes doing yesterday?  Well I will tell you my theory.  We know now that the FBI is investigating possible Cheeto-Head collusion with the Russians, and Nunes’ minority senior member, Adam Schiff (Democrat), said there was evidence of just that.  Now that could be disastrous for the Republicans.  Schiff said this about Nunes panic run to the White House:

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking member, accused Nunes of acting like “a surrogate of the White House” and torpedoing the credibility of their investigation. Other lawmakers, including Republicans like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), said Nunes’ behavior made an urgent case for establishing an independent commission to investigate Russia’s involvement in the presidential race.

Panic is the word.  He now knows there is evidence of collusion and it is ongoing (my supposition).  So he freaked out and ran to the White House to warn them, while destroying an on-going investigation.  It is bad, very bad, and when the evidence does come out it will raise questions about the legitimacy of the election.  That is what the panic was about.

Okay, Lets talk about the healthcare bull shit.  Push all the crap off the table and you get down to a very simple argument.  Do you believe people have a right to affordable healthcare or not?  Vox.com had a wonderful article on this very issue and I won’t rehash.  Republicans cry more choice which any 6th grader can understand the failed logic.  Healthy people will have lots of choice and low rates.  Sick people will have few and very expensive.  Choice will raise the costs for all of us because even if we are healthy, we get old.  Think of it this way.  If healthcare plans don’t have to cover say mental illness, then who will?  Only a very few plans and it will be very expensive.  Extend that logic to preventative medicine, drug dependency, pregnancy, etc. and see where that gets you. 

So there is no debate.  Obamacare was flawed from the beginning because it still tried to use the existing private insurance markets.  It is not as nearly flawed as Republicans like to make out, and where it has real problems, they helped exacerbate them.  So how do you fix it.  Well it is back to the issue of whether it is a right or not.  If we all deserve affordable healthcare, we share the risk through our taxes and we have a single payer system.  If it is not a right, well poor and old people can just die.  It really is just that simple.  Take the burden off businesses and we all pay for it through our taxes.  If we could get the costs down to what other countries pay, we might even get a tax cut.  TTFN

Hearings

Two more days of them.  And they tell us…nothing.  When Director Comey came to Washington the only real news was his opening statement where at least he admitted they were investigating the Tump administration for their ties to Russia.  After that it was, “I cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.” Now for normal people who don’t watch these things, that is all that came out.  Sure the Democrats got to lay out their case of evidence that highly hints at collusion, and Republicans got a chance to show they don’t care about Cheeto-Head and the Russian involvement in our campaign, only leakers,  but only people who are news junkies or who read got it.  That’s not many of us any more.  

Then there is the Neil Gorsuch hearings for the Supreme Court.  He is smart enough and prepared enough to dodge every question asked of him.  There is no doubt that his past rulings show that women can kiss their right to choose goodbye and corporations have way more rights than people*, but he hides behind bluster and self-righteous “rule of law and precedent” which is all bull shit just like it was for John Roberts.  Again we have a show of Democrats trying to expose to the American people what they are getting, while the Republicans cleverly ask practiced questions to hide what we are getting.  And again, nobody but us news junkies are paying attention.

On this one, the Democrats were trapped between wanting to boycott the hearing to retaliate and prevent more episodes like what happend to Merrick Garland who never even got a hearing because Mitch McConnell, emboldened by his just say no campaign, decided to deny President Obama a Supreme Court pick, and being fair and giving him his hearing, but exposing who he was.  Again, the nation sleeps.  The rest is forgone.  He will pass the committee on a party line vote.  I actually think the Demos should have boycotted.  While the argument is fair, that two wrongs do not make a right, they probably would have made more of an impact with the non-reading public if they made the point that Republicans hijacked the system and that until normal procedures return, they will boycott. 

Now (two more days and then a party line vote) it goes to the Senate.  Here again we have an argument about strategy.  Democrats can block the nomination with a filibuster (60 vote threshold)**, but then shit head McConnell vows to finally end the fillibuster.  Oh, horrors…or not.   Some argue that Democrats should wait for a more radical nomination.  Democrats have been waiting forever.  This is another John Roberts and he is young.  So stand up.  Force cloture, let McConnell do his thing and let everyone see Democrats not falling on their swords for once.  There is no powder to save for next time.  Gorsuch is going to be on the Supreme Court, but American people who missed all the wrangling in Washington will notice when more of their rights are taken away and given to government and corporations.  Then they will want to know who fought against this.

But I fear listening to the talking heads that the Washington bubble misses all this.  They actually think Americans are paying attention to their flailings.  Wasn’t anybody paying attention to the last election.  They were staring at the navels and only feeling their own pain and believing Cheeto-Head gave a rat’s ass about them.  They are still staring.

*Here is Al Franken exposing Judge Gorsuch on the Frozen Truck Driver case

**The Demos are making a somewhat disingenuous argument about Barack having to reach a 60 vote threshold on his nominations.  While they did get 60 votes, cloture was never invoked making them have to get 60 votes.  That maybe because they had 60 or more votes so there was no point, but just the same, they were not filibustered.