Archive for June 2017

WTF Friday

I always thought WTF blogs would be once in a while, but who knew the white mob was going to elect Donald J. Trump aka the VicLic (Village Idiot in Chief/Liar in Chief)? So now almost every Friday is WTF blog day.  There is of course the Joe and Mika thing, which is a trivial thing in terms of the issues that face us, but it isn’t because it represents the mental instability of our President.  Oh, did I mention the crassness and immaturity of the number one role model in the United States?  WTF.

Now there are offshoots of this which you might consider, especially if you are in the majority of white women who voted for the Village Idiot.  In fact he won the majority of all white voters which might raise the issue of why white people should never be in charge of anything.  Anyway, the VicLic has used blood derogatorily about women more than once and one pundit (woman) said she was not sure what that was about.  Of course she knew what it was about, she just did not want to say it on TV.  It’s about menstrual blood.  Women menstruate and in the VicLic’s eye’s that makes them unclean and dirty.  When he has one of these fits out come his real feelings about women. Another WTF moment for sure.

Then there is the Republican reaction which says all you want to know about Republicans.  They have sold their souls (if there was any left to sell) for their conservative agenda.  They are all taken aback by it, but as Susan Collins tweeted, just cut it out, like if he just stopped this behavior everything would be okay, (or buried in the closet until it erupts again, maybe in a much more dangerous situation).

Meanwhile, Lawrence O’Donnell brings us the hypocrisy of the religious right that is his base.  Sara Huckabee Sanders defended the behavior as if you strike out at the VicLic he will return it in kind (fighting fire with fire), or as Melania claimed, we will punch back 10 times harder.  It is the eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth that we so much respect from all the peace and tranquility it has brought the Middle East.  It is also The Old Testament, and not the Christianity that Jesus brought to his people, of which Sanders and the VicLic claim to be faithful to.  I believe Jesus said something about turning the other cheek.  Now I would admit when there are times when responding in kind is appropriate, maybe the red line for Obama in Syria, but what does it say about the President of the United States that he feels he must respond to every talk show out there?  Or, WTF!

Oh, and seen a healthcare bill yet?  Of course not.  The Republicans went home. There is no Republican fix to Obamacare if your goal is to make it work better. There really are no market place (read competition) for health insurance for the sick, only for the healthy.  You lose money on the sick.  If you can come to realize that, you know you are watching a Kabuki dance which is really trying to generate enough cover to pass a tax cut for the wealthy.  Will Democrats come to the table, if Republicans let them, and craft some bipartisan solutions.  Oh, this is another WTF moment.  There is no bipartisan solution because it would require fixes that while they would be highly effective, cross outside the known world of Republican conservative ideology.  If some Democrats did join the hunt and then compromise in what the Republicans want, only a little more kinder, they are just selling their souls to compromise.  It simply won’t work.

There is the story that our Secretary of State blew up at the White House because they were vetoing the staff he needs to operate:

The normally laconic Texan unloaded on Johnny DeStefano, the head of the presidential personnel office, for torpedoing proposed nominees to senior State Department posts and for questioning his judgment.

Tillerson also complained that the White House was leaking damaging information about him to the news media, according to a person familiar with the meeting. Above all, he made clear that he did not want DeStefano’s office to “have any role in staffing” and “expressed frustration that anybody would know better” than he about who should work in his department — particularly after the president had promised him autonomy to make his own decisions and hires, according to a senior White House aide familiar with the conversation.

Apparently he is just getting tired of the micromanaging:

“Rex is a 65-year-old guy who worked his way up from the bottom at Exxon, and he chafes at the idea of taking orders from a 38-year-old political operative,” said a former transition aide who worked closely with Tillerson.

Okay now on to RUSSIA! My best advice is to pay attention to Rachel Maddow.  While we are distracted by blood and non-existent face lifts, things are happening that might make my prediction for a September departure for the VicLic come true.  The mainstream media has not really picked up on it, but there is now a story out there pointing to collusion of the Trump Administration and the Russians.  Apparently a GOP operative tried to get Clinton emails from the Russian Hackers.  This story has to play out, but it is certainly not very far-fetched.  Once the Trumpees knew there was hacking and before they were released, some thought what a good idea to get any dirt on Clinton.  The fact that they could be a tool for Russia never probably crossed their tiny little minds.  But it is another piece of the puzzle.

Then there is this, about the activities of our respected Republican Senators (Grassley and Graham):  “Rachel Maddow reports on how a letter from two Senate Judiciary Republicans to the FBI appears to be trying to set up a case to discredit the Trump Russia investigation, a familiar political tactic by those feeling the heat of an investigation”:

Now think about this.  The Republicans have decided that they don’t care about the evidence, discrediting Trump could be disastrous for the party so try to undermine the investigations (FBI and Justice Department (Mueller)) investigation, tear down our institutions, discredit our government in the eyes of the voters, all for a tax cut for the wealthy.  Again and the final, WTF!

The dysfunction is piling up and sooner (I am betting September) or later the house of cards will come tumbling down.  How is this working out for you white mob?  WTF were you thinking (or not thinking).

Liar in Chief and Fake News

You could not make this up.  If a movie was about a Trump-like presidency, it would have to be one of those comedies where you had to really suspend your disbelief.  The trouble is, this is not a comedy, it is a tragedy.  Truth and facts are the victims.  The NYT has done us a favor and compiled a list of the lies that the Lic (Liar in Chief) has said.  It is a long list and includes many important topics.   Does he know the difference?  Does it make a difference?

Republicans for years have been making policy based upon lies.  Flow down is central to their whole economic theology and it turns out it doesn’t create jobs, just transfers money to the wealthy.  They have been masters at taking the anecdotal and turning into a stereotype to stoke fear and hate.  From gay marriage to immigrants, most of what they want to do in policy is based upon a lie or an antidore that meets their ideological needs, but does not survive close examination.  Attorney General Sessions is about to get tough on drugs again, crack down on marijuana, and it is all about being insulated from what the nation has learned about the lack of efficacy of imprisoning drug offenders and the foolish and failed attempts at prohibition.

The Lic was speaking to some energy association today and started by saying aren’t you glad this eight year nightmare is over.  He is talking about President Obama pushing the nation toward alternate energy and creating  jobs twelve times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy.  Now we can drill baby drill.  Does he believe this lie about hurting the oil and gas industries at the expense of the country? The price of gasoline dropped because supply is large and fuel efficiency increases has reduced demand.  Wasn’t that a good thing a few years ago not to be depended on crude oil from elsewhere?

But there is something much more sinister going on here than another get tough on crime white boy isolated from reality appeal the the white mob.  There is an attempt by the current administration to define truth as anything it says and delegitimize attempts to “fact check it”.  The attack on our intelligent agencies was an attempt to delegitimize facts the administration might find inconvenient to its policies.  The attack on the press, continuing this week with the famous Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying from the White House Podium about a video that supports their claim of the “constant barrage of fake news”, is an attempt to delegitimize fact checking on the White House:

Sanders told reporters during the White House briefing that “the constant barrage of fake news directed at” President Donald Trump “has garnered a lot of his frustration.” Trump in a pair of Tuesday morning tweets called CNN “fake news,” as well as NBC, CBS, ABC, The New York Times and The Washington Post.  She pointed to an undercover video from the Project Veritas group in which John Bonifield, a producer for CNN’s medical unit, is heard discussing that CNN’s focus on Trump and his campaign’s involvement with Russia is good for ratings but that the story is likely “mostly bulls—t” and that Trump is likely right to call it a “witch hunt.”

“Whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know,” Ms. Sanders added about the video, lest there be any doubt about the White House’s standards for accuracy.

The response from one reporter to this on-going arrogance and attack was right there in the press room, right back at them:

“Any one of us, if we don’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us, but you have been elected to serve for four years at least. There’s no option other than that,” he said. “We’re here to ask you questions. You’re here to provide the answers. And what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘See, once again, the president is right, and everybody else out here is fake media.’ And everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.”

Sanders said she “completely” disagreed.

No shit she completely disagrees because truth is defined by the Trump Administration and no one else.  Truth or truthiness as I believe Stephen Colbert coined it (or was it Jon Stewart?) is what I want to believe and has nothing to do with reality for these folks.  That does not mean they don’t believe it, but it says that their arrogance about their own self righteousness is not only anti-democratic, it is down right despotic.  They are trying to destroy the very basis of a vibrant democracy, stifling dissent, and disrespecting other points of view.  They are turning one citizen against the other and enjoying it as entertainment. They are a disgrace to this nation.

Meanwhile this morning the Lic was wearing his other hat, the Village idiot in Charge (VIC), and showed his disdain for respect, courtesy, and of course, his misogyny when he attacked Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough when he did not like their reporting on him:

MSNBC responded with this statement: “It’s a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job.”

The president’s deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, defended the tweets by saying Trump was responding to the “outrageous attacks that take place” on “Morning Joe” and other shows.

Trump refuses to be “bullied,” Sanders said on Fox News. “This is a president who fights fire with fire.”

This man is disgusting and his judgement is in great doubt.  So what happens when he gets something important.  How do you defend this?  Only if you have no understanding of democracy or the power of the President to abuse his power intimidating his enemies.  This is so far from what we expect of a president, that on this alone, he should be impeached.

By the way Sanders came out today when challenged and said the President has never advocated violence, a direct lie.  So here is my question as we go forward with this moron and the destruction his and his party’s lying are doing to the United States:  Why do we cover White House Press conferences?  What is there there except continuous lying and misinformation.  Walk away press corps, there is nothing worth covering there.  Oh and quite enabling people like Sarah Sanders who you mistakenly say they are just doing their job.  So were Hitler’s hinchmen.  Lying to the country from the White House is part of a plot to destroy America and everyone better wake up to it and call it out. Oh, and defend those who do, our press.

Absolute Nonsense (and a Blatant Lie)

Mitch McConnel (lying sack of shit) went before the media to tell us that the vote on the Senate Republican version of their new tax plan (actually it is to replace Obamacare, but it is really a tax cut plan for the wealthy) would be delayed until next week (or never).  He was then asked if he would be willing to work with Democrats and he indicated they were not interested.  This is the lying sack of shit part.  Since he hid it from even many Republicans until he released it, Democrats have not been given an opportunity to weigh in.

Okay, so reasonable people (or so I am told and this is the total nonsense part) asked why don’t Republicans and Democrats come together to fix Obamacare (See Harold Ford, moderate Democrat on MSNBC). There is no compromise possible and the reason is simple.  Remember when the VicLic told you he would replace it, it would cover more people, and would be cheaper?  Seen that yet?  It is not possible in a Republican world.  And here is the wakeup call.  THAT IS NOT WHAT THEY ARE ABOUT!  This bill is an attempt to reduce costs and repeal taxes on the wealthy so they can pass more tax cuts on to the wealthy using reconciliation (no 60 vote threshold).

So think about it this way:  Democrats want to at least cover those who are covered under Obamacare,  fix problems with firms dropping out of the exchanges, and reduce overall cost to consumers.  Republicans say that, but as noted above, their real goal is to get government out of healthcare.  So where in that would you compromise? There is no compromise and if the two parties did sit down to deal, it would be a Kabuki dance because what it would take to fix it is not in the Republican lexicon.

Democrats do need to present their own plan and it would be simple.  Keep Obamacare, reduce the age for Medicare in ten year increments say over the 20 years starting with 55 tomorrow, where there is a problem with lack of competition in the exchanges, offer a public option, negotiate prices for drugs, and continue the cost saving things in Obamacare without interference from Republicans.  Think the Republicans will go for any of that?  Of course not.  There is no negotiated fix.  When we end this nonsense about market place solutions and learn how to read a spreadsheet, the answer is clear, enroll more people to spread the risk, and reduce costs within the system.  The profit motive for insurance companies will do neither.

Simplifying Healthcare

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

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

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

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

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

A Healthcare Question

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Democrats Tired of Losing Yet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Profit Motive

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, Healthcare, Economic Conservatives, and The Village Idiot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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