Archive for January 2018

The Day After

And you might ask after what? Exactly. In the run up to the State of the Union and afterwards, there is nothing there. It is like tasting a big fruity upfront wine with no finish (Sorry, I was watching Sideways for the 100th time). There is nothing there. It is all posturing and lies. Talking about the posturing and lies afterwards is also hot air. Nothing moves, nothing changes, and nothing gets done. Remember when it was Barack and the Republicans shouted you lie? Now it is President DFF and it wasn’t necessary to shout it out, we all know he does.

First, the President has little to do with the economy except to wreck it. See Bush and Republicans (with help from Democrats who leaned right) in 2008. If you really wanted to note anything you should read the quotes from some economists after Davos, commenting that this feels like 2008 when nobody thought anything could go wrong. It is the herd mentality. He is riding on a curve established in the Obama Presidency, and it may be hitting its peak. Second, talking infrastructure makes me want to throw up. The plan is partnerships, public and private, where we get all this stuff free (You don’t really think Republicans are going to put tax cuts at risk for infrastructure funding do you?), which means welcome to higher cost for everything while some businesses profit exorbitantly. If you like toll roads and pay as you go, everywhere, turn our infrastructure over to profit making institutions.

Meanwhile the Republicans get in a train/truck conflagration (train wins) and it is like the story of the hour. Well so far it has been most of the day. Again, the only news here is that we have so badly underfunded train travel that we do not have proper controls at crossings (or elevated crossings). Some are so traumatized they may just go home instead of their gaggle to plan destroying America. What does that say about these guys connection with the real world. Their votes on healthcare and the safety net have killed thousands. Light rail hits man on tracks and guess what, we all still go to work. Think about that.

But the best part of the day where you should be drinking wine instead of watching any news is that the FBI director came out and said that the Nunes Memo is so flawed and misleading that it should not be released. Guess what they will do?

The “F.B.I. was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” the F.B.I. said in a statement. “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

That is the America we are now living in. You know I got to thinking about how so many Republicans now can really just toss their country for a racist, lying pig, and it finally occurred to me that they live in such a conservative bubble, that they really believe their own shit. I can’t help it, I can’t help thinking there is a big crash coming as you can not be this stupid for this long and not be involved in a major disaster. Larry, Moe, and Curly have nothing on us.

Just When You Thought It Could Not Be Worse

The Republicans decided to blow up any fake bipartisanship they may have been displaying by voting against the Justice Department’s recommendations to release the Nunes Memo.  At the same time they voted against releasing the Democrats’ Memo which is a point by point rebuttal of their memo.  How’s that for respecting different opinions?  If you think Republicans are interested in democracy or the rule of law, think again.

My thought is that at this point Democrats can quit saying “my friend across the aisle” and just recognize they are the enemy.  They are in a word, destroying democracy and the rule of law.  It is everything we stand for and believe.  And of course the whole memo is a carefully culled document to paint the FBI and the Justice Department in the worst possible light to impede or stop the Mueller investigation.  Remember WMD and Iraq.  Here we go again. My thought here is that Democrats need to quit respecting the legitimacy of the majority party and just release their own memo and get the facts out there. They are no longer in an institution protecting American values and tradition, but destroying them.  Why play by their rules any more?

The memo itself is purported to cast Rob Rosenstein, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General as using a flawed or biased process to decide to bug Carter Page.  First let’s say that as we learned from the Simpson testimony, there were multiple sources corroborating something was very fishy besides the famous dossier gathered by Fusion GPS with the help of Christopher Steel, British intelligent agent.  But that is not how the Nunes selective fact gathering memo is reported to describe it.  It is a hit piece pure and simple.

But let’s just step back a moment.  Do you remember what went on that we know about?  Further let’s just give Nunes’ lie the benefit of the doubt.  Say the initial information was tainted with bias (try to keep in mind that the initial study was funded by Republicans trying to smear Trump before they gave up and the Demos ended up paying for it).  A FISA Court Judge would not have authorize a bug based on that alone and would have requested corroborating evidence.  We are not privy to that and you can bet Nunes would not present that information.  But once they did bug him, the evidence that might have been gathered could not be tainted, it is either true or false.

So if the whole process is tainted with FBI love for Democrats which we all know is ridiculous (who cost Hillary the election again?), there is still the facts and testimony to examine to determine if all that smoke is really indicating a fire.  And that is the key here.  They don’t want that to come out.  With the caving of FBI Director Wray in the resignation of Assistant Director McCabe, we have seen the Republicans capture and maybe permanently damage one institution of justice.  They have already destroyed the Justice Department.  Now they have an echo machine to try to change lies into truth through Fox News and the whole Republican Party.

What is disheartening this morning is to watch the clown show and realize this our country.  There was money laundering, collusion, and certainly obstruction of justice to hide these things.  We have a moron for a President who is a pathological liar, racist, and xenophobe.  And we have a major party, the Republicans enabling all of this.  Not my America anymore.  I have no idea what we stand for anymore.  Again I want to personally thank those 76,000 morons in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio that brought us the destruction of America.

Will I watch the State of the Union.  No.  He will read a Stephen Miller written speech about how he is single  handedly saving the country and everything he is taking credit for was already happening.  He is a consummate liar and not one thing he says can be depended upon.  The only hope for the country is when the walls come tumbling down, and I just hope there is enough left to rebuild.

As an aside, when you recognized what is happening and you know that your friends and neighbors who are such good people who voted for Trump are enabling this destruction, watching their Fox News, and still supporting the Republican Party, how can you be friends anymore?  My best friend is a Nazi?  Think about that.

Old Man Grousing (You Kids Get Off My Lawn!)

I tried to watch the Grammys last night, looking for new young talent and beautiful music, but failed to get through the hip-hop, rap, or whatever they call it these days. Yeah, I know, old man move on with the times. But it is not like I am pining for Glenn Miller, but I am looking for haunting melodies that lift me or take me to another place, and what I got was chanting with bad grammar. Do we really think street smarts and fake gangster persona is wisdom on any level? The free spirit/nonconforming soul is really just a carbon copy of the last one.

Watching the spectacle itself was disturbing. Everyone out there trying to be look at me, look at me, look at me. Oh, of course there were exceptions, but I think we have gone over the cliff. Do we need a piano covered by feathers for Lady GaGa to make her point? Sometimes the music itself, not the spectacle is what it should be about. But back to the rap, where was the music? Oh sure, some of the chants have social or political messages. But really? On a 8th grade level maybe. Try reading Robert Frost. Oh wait, that would take some intellectual discipline which seems to no longer exist.

I think maybe it is a sign of our times. Reading Facebook is like a me, me, me experience where self promotion is the name of the game. All right, I do post these blogs there and that is a form of self promotion, but it is not my self I am promoting, but my ideas. That is a whole other ball game where having ideas is like bad manners. Don’t disrupt my need for continuous stimulation, glitz, or cute pictures of a cat with wanting me to slow down and think something through. That takes work and I would rather be distracted by the next shiny object instead of thinking deeply about where we are going or who we have become.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a writer for the Miami Herald and put this idea forward, how much shit would we be in if President DFF were actually smart? President DFF is doing immense damage to our democracy, but with no real end game. What if he had one and was crafty? Then he points out how or ability for critical thinking has been pretty much co-opted by social media which allows a nut job like our President to reign and get nonsense out there, unexamined by the me generation. His solution I found interesting besides purging Facebook and Twitter of false junk and hate speech:

Now would also be an excellent time for schools to beef up their teaching of philosophy, history, civics and social studies. Teach those things as a means of helping people to think critically, value truth and internalize the ideals that are supposed to make America America.

Ha! I wish. Philosophy, history, civics, and social studies requires us to think deeply beyond the words and into what is it we want, what is life about, what are the deep implications of a society whose measure of success is told in their portfolios. And the other part of it is that for most of us, it is hard work. I read very slowly, sadly. Getting through some books with profound ideas about who we are and where we are going is a long slog for me most times. But it is worth it as you start to see the road ahead more clearly, and understand what is going on around us. Marvel comic books is no substitute. I would suggest along with all that philosophy, history, civics and social studies, we throw in some of the great literature that brings these ideas alive. If you don’t think Animal Farm is about the Trump administration your are denser than a rock. Actually George Orwell had a lot to say about the times we live in.

I guess I should not despair. Some of the movies nominated for an Academy Award this year do in fact take us deep into our soul. While you may have loved Francis McDormand’s toughness in Three Billboards, there was something much deeper going on about life, chaos, cruelty, justice, and moving on. Darkest Hour’s best line was when Winston had rallied the government to fight the Nazis, one of his opponents (Halifax) commented, “He just mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” The Post gave us a lesson in free speech and about women and how we have treated them in our culture. Dunkirk made me think about life, death, and forgiveness. Note I did not find Shape of Water to be anything but a comic book, but maybe I missed something. So I should take heart that thinking is going on or at least we are getting a respite from car chase scenes and spectacular special effects going nowhere, with dialogue aimed at the 4th grader.

But I do worry. In the 60’s people came out into the streets, but then the men at least had skin in the game (draft). Today we can look away and distract ourselves, and except for the Women’s Movement (they really do have skin in the game), I see intellectual and political laziness. I guess I knew we were doomed when NASCAR moved in to the mainstream along with country music. Now it is just a slow slide into oblivion.

Problems without Solutions

Sometimes you read something that nails a problem and yet leaves you thinking, okay, but what is the solution? I ran into this in my professional life (Project Manager) where people would download their concerns, without a way forward. Of course I would challenge them on that, “So what’s your plan?” Usually I would get the I am just a peon defense, but if you don’t like something what good is your ire without a thought out way forward? I read two articles this morning that fit that bill, one by George Will on the problems with tariffs, and one by Steven Livetsky and Daniel Ziblatt on the problems with our Democracy.

Let’s start with George who points out that the latest tariffs placed on washing machines and solar panels by President DFF is really rent seeking by Whirlpool and solar manufactures, paid for by Americans who will simply see higher prices subsidizing not real innovation or improvement by American companies:

Fomenting spurious anxieties about national security is the first refuge of rent-seeking scoundrels who tart up their protectionism as patriotism when they inveigle government into lining their pockets with money extracted from their fellow citizens. Sugar producers are ludicrously protected in the name of “food security.” Most U.S. steel imports come from four important allies: Canada, South Korea, Mexico and Brazil. The coming steel tariffs/taxes will mean that defense dollars will buy fewer ships, tanks and armored vehicles, just as the trillion infrastructure dollars the administration talks about will buy fewer bridges and other steel-using projects. As Henry George said, with protectionism a nation does to itself in peacetime what an enemy tries to do to it in war.

And of course he is right, but… The but is what happens with imports that wipe out jobs or drive wages down to slave level? I guess in the perfect market place, innovation and competition would create new jobs, or create better washing machines and solar panels to properly win back the American dollar. But that is not what happened in middle America, so what is the solution?

Certainly if we can create a better market place economy with more competition with less rent seeking, there would be more “creative destruction” and these workers could move on to other jobs. But we have not seen that and the real issue is not to just be against tariffs, but what to do about workers who suffer from creative destruction (dynamic process of creative destruction: new ideas originate and spread, old ways of doing things are displaced, and resources are reallocated from less to more productive combinations of capital and labor). While conservatives are wild and somewhat right about the market place, they look the other way from the wreckage left in its wake. It’s that balance thing.

Okay, next up is Livetsky and Ziblatt on what they are seeing happening to our democracy. The article talks about seeing opposition as legitimate (mutual tolerance) and the loss of forbearance:

To function well, democratic constitutions must be reinforced by two basic norms, or unwritten rules. The first is mutual toleration, according to which politicians accept their opponents as legitimate. When mutual toleration exists, we recognize that our partisan rivals are loyal citizens who love our country just as we do.

The second norm is forbearance, or self-restraint in the exercise of power. Forbearance is the act of not exercising a legal right. In politics, it means not deploying one’s institutional prerogatives to the hilt, even if it’s legal to do so.

Okay, but let’s not forget who started this game in 2009 with the approach from Mitch McConnell and the Republicans to make Barack Obama a one-term President. It was a scorched earth policy to use every trick in the book to make his administration fail. The authors seem to recognize the Republicans are playing this game with this, but want to sanction Democrats for fighting back:

Perhaps the most consequential was the Senate’s refusal to take up Mr. Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Since 1866, every time a president had an opportunity to fill a vacancy before the election of his successor, he was allowed to do so (though not always on the first try). The Senate’s refusal to even consider an Obama nominee violated a 150-year-old norm.

Democrats are beginning to respond in kind. Their recent filibuster triggering a government shutdown took a page out of the Gingrich playbook. And if they retake the Senate in 2018, there is talk of denying President Trump the opportunity to fill any Supreme Court vacancy. This is a dangerous spiral.

American democracy retains important sources of strength, including vast national wealth, a vibrant media and civil society, and a robust judiciary and rule of law. But the norms that once protected our institutions are coming unmoored. President Trump has accelerated this norm erosion, but he didn’t start it. Intensifying polarization, driven by an extremist Republican Party, is making constitutional hardball a new norm for party politics.

The lessons of history are clear. Extreme polarization can wreck even established democracies. America is no exception. As long as Americans do not overcome their deepening partisan animosities, democracy remains at risk — President Trump or no President Trump.

Okay, but what are Democrats suppose to do, turn the other cheek, be the only adult in the room? This is how they lost in 2010, 2014, and 2016. While you can pine away at what is surely the slow destruction of our democracy, you could note that it is being caused by one party and rational debate went out the window years ago. What should be the appropriate response of Democrats, principled capitulation?

I think not, and while the Democrats learned shutting down the government is not the right tactic, the authors owed us the responsibility of pointing out who is the major player in this game and a reasonable way forward. This is what you see a lot in writing today to try to reach both sides, not pointing out who is the real problem. And it fails every time because those who play this game don’t give a wit about a reasoned approach to democracy, only winning. Now when you face this reality, isn’t it their responsibility to also give us a way forward to bring reason and civility back to politics? In the meantime, I will give you mine in this blog, and right now the only way I see to win back America is to fight fire with fire. Got a better idea?

It’s The Economy Stupid Again

I have written before that our current metric for success is a tape measure used to measure our money pile. Everything from success as a human being to our confidence in our future is based upon money. And in the world we live in, in some cases, at least our own security, that is the world we have built. But even at Davos, they are starting to worry:

Just days ahead of the confab, Larry Fink, chief executive of the $6 trillion-plus asset management firm BlackRock and prototypical Davos attendee, made clear his own doubts about our economic future. “Popular frustration and apprehension about the future simultaneously have reached new heights. We are seeing the paradox of high returns and high anxiety,” Fink declared in his annual letter to thousands of top business leaders. Noting the low wage growth, dimming retirement prospects and other financial pressures that squeeze too many across the globe, he said, “I believe that these trends are a major source of the anxiety and polarization that we see across the world today.”

Fink made some recommendations: “Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

The BlackRock letter suggests that the current economic system, which has come to prioritize corporate gains and private growth above all, sees trouble ahead and is looking for ways to save itself. That animating worry is visible in the titles of sessions on the Davos schedule (Day 1 panels: “How Is Rentier Capitalism Aggravating Inequality?” and “Why Is Our World Fractured?”). And the same realization has threaded the pronouncements of the other industry and political leaders in attendance.

I found this discussion enlightening and hopeful. We see stock market gains everywhere and yet we are fearful. Said another way which I have been hammering at now for years, the economic inequality created by “rents” only benefits a few and cuts out the rest. A big argument against capitalism is its pure selfishness. I got mine screw you. That was in fact seen as a benefit that drove competition, innovation, and new jobs, except it doesn’t any more. That is where the concept of rents comes in. “Rent refers not to the monthly check you send your landlord but to the excess payment made to any factor of production (land, labor, or capital) due to scarcity.”

Scarcity can be created in many ways, but the one that is most troubling is by government. If corporations capture government and then have them rewrite the rules to favor certain industries or rents (without creating jobs or innovation), we have a transfer of wealth to the wealthy, less and less competition, and no real growth in jobs. While the stock market is at record highs and the GDP is looking good, ask yourself as Mr. Fink did, why is there so much unrest and apprehension about the future. It is not being shared, it is based mostly on rents, and most of us barely see any benefit.

I am reading an interesting book right now, The Captured Economy: How the Rich Enrich Themselves, Slow Down the Growth, And Increase Inequality, which argues that the problem is not too much competition, but not enough. The rules have been rewritten to increase the value of rents, while hindering others entry into the market to take advantage of innovation and change to create jobs and wealth for everyone. It is an interesting argument because it takes on both conservative and liberal approaches to growing the economy. I think (I am still in the first third of the book) that the argument is flow down works if the economy was not rigged by government controlled by the wealthy to redirect the flow down to themselves.

The authors clearly recognized that government has a role to play in the government, but it is fraught with the ability of those who have money to rig the system, as they have.  They point to the slowdown in growth and the fact that this economy does not act like any before to make their point. They point out the conservative idea that many rules and regulations favor those already in the market place and shut out others.  Monopolies simply grow.  They argue that it is capitalism that is the engine of wealth, but it is one we all have to be able to play in.

I have called this leveling the playing field.  It will be interesting to see if they recognize that while capitalism is a great way to spark innovation (if we get rid of a lot of intellectual property and monopolies), in some areas, its model just does not work, like healthcare insurance.  It will be interesting to see where they go with social programs like social security (guaranteed retirement), single payer healthcare, and access to higher education for all.  These and investments in infrastructure in my mind allow for human capital to then take advantage of a more competitive and open market place.  Well you see where my prejudices lies.  I will update you when I have read more.

It would be really interesting if we could take the ideas of both sides and apply them within a framework where they really did work.

Where From Here?

Some things just amaze me. I spent the formative years of my life (right out of college) being trained as a navigator, RF-4C back seater, and then a nuclear weapons trained Radar Navigator (Bombardier) in a B-52. In that time period I participated in almost 100 combat missions. Okay, what was the essential lesson of all that training. Plan, plan, plan. Think it through. What could happen and what was the exit strategy? Being safe meant reducing the risks by careful planning, learning from the past, and then executing the plan in the air. Seat of your pants did not exist.

So with that in mind, how do you crash the first high-speed run of a train in Washington?

The engineer of an Amtrak train that derailed outside of Seattle last month may have lost track of where he was and thought he had already passed a curve that would have required him to slow the train to 30 mph, according to new details released by federal safety officials Thursday.

Say what? This befuddles me. First you would have a time-table/schedule of actions, not look for a sign and then pull back the throttles. Let’s see, what time is it, I should be coming up on a curve…Second, and really a WTF moment, there are apps you can use on your smart phone to plot your location and track your trip. Third, I can think of some really cheap ways to put something on the tracks that gives you an audible warning as you approach a curve. WTF. We are pretending we are still driving trains in the 1940s? This is what America has become? Of course it is.  We can’t afford to live in the 21st century according to the Republicans.

Steve Bannon has been invited to speak at the University of Chicago and let the protests begin:

Outside the Booth School of Business protesters chanted phrases “Disinvite! Disinvite!” and “Say it loud and say it clear, stop inviting fascists here,” according to the Chicago Maroon. Local news outlets estimated the number of protesters ranged from 100 to 300 people.

Like Berkley, what part of free speech did these morons not get.  You need to fight free speech with free speech, not Gestopo tactics to suppress speech you do not like.  Do we still have thinking Americans in America?  I really wonder if they understand free speech at all or that the fact we have the 1st Amendment is because what is distasteful to you is someone else’s truth.

Okay, next up, is that President DFF tried to fire Mueller. The press is all over this along with the fact that the White House is terrified the DFF will actually testify to Mueller. Of course he did nothing wrong (except lies continuously), but they are terrified anyway. This all goes to obstruction of justice, which the press is all over like fudge sauce on ice cream, can’t have too much. But we are missing the big picture, which is what our press does as they get caught in a “SQUIRREL” moment (personally my SQUIRREL moments have to do with “BACON”).

So what are the missing? Why the obstruction of justice. What are they obstructing justice for. And that is the real issue here because once you have that, all the denial in the world about an FBI witch hunt falls apart. Was there collusion? Of course there was. Too many meetings. But why and what did the Russians have. Ah, now we are talking. Did they have video of Trump with strippers peeing on a bed in Moscow? The stripper thing gets a little more believability after “Stormy”. But I think it is obvious what the connection is, money laundering through loans. Once you make that connection, the obstruction and the why is easy. Mueller is a smart man. He must have come to that conclusion also, but the press is rabid over the effects of the coverup, not the coverup itself. I think we are getting close to when the other shoe will drop.

Finally, least we forget, we are on another continuing resolution (CR) and it expires on 8 February, my birthday month by the way. If you don’t consume a whole month (especially when you get to my age) celebrating your birthday and making everyone around you miserable, you have not lived. But I get distracted. Norm Ornstein wrote an interesting piece in the Atlantic about the whole situation with DACA and the CR and got to three possible scenarios. You can read it yourself, but back to my plan, plan, plan. Have the Demos considered the three possible outcomes and planned accordingly?

Now once again our press is so focused on asking foolish questions, that they miss the big picture. My favorite is what are you Democrats going to do? And the real question is what can they do? THEY ARE IN THE MINORITY! So why keep asking them stupid questions like what are they going to do when they really have few to no options. The Democrats should push back, but of course they won’t. The push back is here is what we can do, but the Republicans are in charge and the real question is not what we can do, but what can voters do to change this in 2018. They are the ones responsible for this mess.

Now one thing we know is that the shut down is no viable because the Demos don’t have the guts to keep it up to the Republicans blink. And that may be smart because Republicans hate government and have been wanting to dismantle it anyway, so why not let the Democrats do it for them. So what is in play is the promise for a clean DACA bill. But here is the thing. What is their plan when the Republicans put a poison pill in it as we know they will. No, it won’t just be the wall. They have to have a plan for what I think is the most likely outcome. Seen one yet? Me neither. Plan, plan, plan.

Oh the BS

Secret society inside the FBI against Trump! Nunes the Ninny has the memo! The FBI is out to overthrow the President! Palace coop! OH THE NONSENSE! Republicans have been spouting this for days now with the tempo and noise level raising as we get closer to a show down with Mueller, the Special Investigator’s office, and President DFF. Does anybody remember that Comey and Mueller are or were Republicans? Who was it again that really caused Hillary Clinton not to be President by announcing a new investigation that did not go anywhere? Want to know what is really sad? It could be playing out there among the unwashed as the numbers who approve of the Mueller investigation drop.

Remember back in the day when you went to the supermarket and you saw people reading those supermarket tabloids and you thought, wow, how gullible can people be. Well, I think it was a disease that ate everyone’s brain. If you are following the investigation, who has been interviewed, and what we know (rumor a third flip is coming), you know that the noose is tightening. So we have the hysterical reaction by Republicans. But their hysteria is catching and as the defame and demean the Justice Department and the FBI they may be destroying the rule of law in America. No may be is not correct, they are. Then we become the nation of the rule by rumor and hysteria.

When you look at and listen to these barking dogs, you know what treason and lynch mob mentality looks like. The sad thing and what really may determine our fate, is that “responsible” Republicans are staying silent. They are complicit in their salience. Meanwhile in President DFF land, he spouts out last night that he will be interviewed in person and unlike Hillary, will be under oath. Now first he is not going to show up, and this is just another giant blovation before his lawyers pull him back in, kind of like his statements on DACA before the Stasi (Kelly and Miller) pull him back in. Oh, and that “under oath” thing, nobody is under oath unless they are before a Grand Jury. His ignorance knows no bounds.

Nunes the Ninny’s memo is probably a very selective and out of context summary of things that make the FBI look bad. Oh that ought to help respect for government. They ought to know better, but like the Bush Administration, they started with a wild belief and look only at evidence that supports their belief. And what it might lead to is a rush to release everything because the Republicans are releasing carefully crafted partisan information. Democrats will have to respond and the flood of information in already overloaded and uncritical thinking public will result in chaos.

Of course there was obstruction of justice, it was out there for all of us to see and he admitted to it. Of course there is money laundering, where do you think the leverage on President DFF and his family came from? Of course they colluded with the Russians although the trail into the Oval Office might be harder to prove as we have seen how his Trumpets will lie through their teeth to hold on to power. Muller will have the goods. Then it comes to the majority in Congress, Republicans, to do anything about it. Think they will? I don’t.

But things are starting to come to a head. At Davis it was noted that because we have fewer travelers to the United States. Canada just went on its own with an Asian trade agreement, and it would seem that the tariffs President DFF could cost more jobs than it saves. World trade is moving on and soon we will feel it in our pocket books. The dollar is weakening and in one sense that is good for trade (our stuff costs less) but in another sense it could be a disaster if foreign countries look elsewhere for a stable currency as a world standard. All of this should just be reaching the perfect ripeness when the 2018 elections hit. If Democrats can avoid shooting themselves in the foot like on the government shutdown that went nowhere, we might just have a chance.


There are really two schools of thought out there about whether the Democrats caved on DACA or made the smart play. Let’s start with the cave. Why draw a line in the sand and then bailout? What message does that send to those who had taken relief in finally Democrats were going to play hardball? Why kick the can down the road for a couple of weeks? Did you not just send a loud message that when the politics got hard you will fold? Remember the last shutdown? Republicans got blamed and they won the Senate. So in summary, what the hell were the Democrats playing at and what did they achieve except to demoralize their base and give Republicans confidence that Democrats will always cave?

Now let’s look at the other side. The shutdown hurts a lot of people and is bad for the country. Just listen to all the pundits. Democrats were afraid the shutdown would hurt their chances for midterms. So the smart thing to do was to find a short term solutions and get something. Those against the cave say the Democrats got a promise from Mitch McConnell that really could be interpreted either way about actually putting legislation on the floor of the Senate. Further, there is no guarantee that the House would ever vote on any such legislation (never bring to the floor), and the President, well who knows. So what was the gain?

Well, having thought about this awhile, I think it was a smart move after all. Ignore my earlier blogs. Here is why. I don’t believe the Republicans really want a DACA bill and all the nonsense about President DFF maybe seeing the light or compromising is just that, nonsense. While the majority of Americans want this thing ended and settled (DACA), Republicans are not going to do that. So the first shutdown left open the quite real possibility that the Democrats could be blamed and suffer at the polls. Now the cards are on the table.

McConnell has to put a real bill on the floor and let there be debate and amendments. Equivocating will be seen as a failed promise by everyone. If he doesn’t, holding the budget hostage is justified. My guess is he will delay until after the 8th of February comes along, and if there is no progress, another CR should be demanded until the Demos get their vote in the Senate. It also gives the Demos leverage on the Republicans in the House. Finally, if the impossible happens and they actually send a compromise bill to the President, he does not get to hide anymore or move the goal posts and it will be clear who has once again not been the great deal maker, but instead a cowering fool to his base.

Now all of this depends on the Demos going offensive. They were playing defense with mixed messages on the first shutdown. Vice President Pious Pence gave them a great opportunity when he stood in front of the troops and lied about who would be responsible for cutting off their pay. Remember Claire McCaskell offered unanimous consent for their pay to be continued and Mitch McConnell objected. Where were the Demos crying liar, liar, pants on fire? This is their great failure is that they refuse to go on the offensive and they need to.

There is one more up side to all this. If it fails, and the Demos are seen as losers again, it will make replacing a lot of these people with real progressives a must, people who will fight and draw a line. So the next few weeks are going to be interesting. This time Demos have to stand for something.


The Senate got a deal.  Is it a good deal?  I would say in normal times yes.  These are not normal times.  I am still trying to find the details.  Here is what I think:

  • They got a 3-week CR. Another kick the can down the road
  • They got a “promise” from Mitch McConnell to put a DACA bill on the floor allowing open debate and amendments “next month”

Was CHIP in it?  I don’t know yet.  Has anything changed so that the CR is not just another delay that we will once again face shutdown?  Will DACA actually come up?  Will Paul Ryan bring it up in the House even if McConnell does? Will the President even consider a DACA bill?  Will the House tube the whole thing?  I think this is a long shot and Progressives are smart to walk away from it (not vote for it).  We will get three weeks of posturing and then once again we will be looking into the abyss.  It would be interesting to see if the McConnell actually keeps his promise and DACA is attached to something that either has to pass or stand alone.  I don’t think we really have a resolution and the Democrats may have caved.  I hope I am wrong.

But here is the thing you really need to think about.  The people who made this happen, regular order, are not going to be around in the future.  Progressives need to learn from what happens in the next few days.  The establishment Democrats blinked.  Maybe they are right, but that is not what history tells me.

Update: Here are a few comments from others that kind of expresses my feelings here:

Mike from Kansas: Accepting this compromise may be the best the Democrats can do at this time, but I don’t believe either President Trump or the Republicans can be trusted, at all. What will the Republicans demand to pass the dreamer protection and path to citizenship, an end to Medicare and Social Security?

Sooner or later, we will need to take that stand.

Laurence from California: You’re a good man, Charlie Brown! (And a Democrat, for sure.) Now get ready to kick that football.


Not yet but not far away. I think we are in for the big fall. It has become patently obvious to me that most Americans don’t have much in the way of morals or ethics, most importantly they don’t really understand what America is built on, but they understand their paycheck. The last election was settled on paycheck issues where many Americans thought the establishment on both sides was too tied to Wall Street and wanted a non-traditional candidate. In the end Democrats did not offer a candidate that played in that sand box, but the Republicans (against their whole establishment) offered one along with racism, xenophobia, nativism, and just plain ignorance and he eked out the election.

We have now had a year of President DFF and what we have seen is the capitulation of the whole Republican Party over an agenda, casting off any semblance of moral or ethical values, now opening lying to protect him. Their claim to fame is destroying the agencies like the EPA, FDA, Department of Interior, State Department, and CDC, and passing a tax cut for the wealthy. Now they have shut down the government, not because agreements could not be reached, but because of chaos in the White House. The NYT’s let supporters of President DFF take over the editorial page for a day and the theme was consistent. Look at the economy! It is about my paycheck! Except Trump isn’t really responsible for the economy. Here is from Larry Summers this morning:

While Trump will probably try to take credit for all the economic good news, it is unlikely that he deserves it. He is president of the United States, not the world. And the economic surprises in the rest of the world have been more favorable than those in America. The scale of upward revisions of growth forecasts for 2017 and 2018 has been higher in Europe, Japan, China and emerging markets broadly than for the United States. Many other stock markets have outperformed those here. If Trump’s pro-business policies were driving the global economy, one would expect an increase in net capital flows into the United States, and so a stronger dollar. In fact, the dollar has weakened significantly in the past year, despite more Federal Reserve tightening than was anticipated at the beginning of 2017.

We are also riding on a wave created by the Obama administration after the Republicans disastrous handling of the economy under Bush. Just look at the growth curves and Obama is out performing Trump. What that says is that we are getting too euphoric about the economy and when it crashes, well hang on. We are destroying the safety net just as fast as we can under Republicans and many will now fall through the holes created. Meanwhile the country meanders as those paragons of moral virtue, the evangelicals, embrace the devil as their own. The right to lifers are out loving the man who will enslave women with their religious nonsense and openly sexually harasses them. SNL got it right last Saturday when they showed that he is held responsible for nothing, but as Jonathan Capehart told us this morning, Republicans are complicit.

The latest is the government shutdown and you have to be brain dead to not see what is going on. Republicans, starting in the Obama era (Make Obama a one term President) quit governing. They have no idea how to compromise and have instead developed an unyielding approach to two party government. The other side must capitulate and convince everyone it is not their fault. One might note that the ones actually negotiating on the Republican side are the dying breed of moderates that may soon be totally gone as they quit. President DFF is never going to allow DACA and so Democrats have to decide what is the plan. Do they open the government and let the hardline radicals drive the country further off the abyss or do they hold the line and wait for the country to wake up.

I am for the latter, but we will see. What will wake them up is when the economy (world) finally starts to go south and Americans realize that the tax cut and the gutting of our government has left them no place to land. Then we will once again wake up, but the question is how much damage has been done. I thank my good fortune that I live in that high tax California where we have a government actively fighting these morons, where Republicans have little control on government, and get this conservatives, we have put billions away for a rainy day. That is Democratic leadership.

The fall is coming and it will not be a recognition we need government or it does many good things the capitalist utopia can’t. It won’t be when we recognize that our strength is our diversity and immigrants from all walks of like are essential to our American dream. It won’t be when we recognize that the rest of the world is passing us by as we starve government R&D and do not invest significantly in our own infrastructure. It will be when you fools see your paycheck threatened by all the above and get mad. Sad day isn’t it?