Archive for the ‘Connecting the Dots’ Category.

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.

Thursday!

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.

The Loss in Georgia

Well one has to find the silver lining in a loss, but this will not be the one you are expecting (Democrat gave real chase).  The silver lining is that a win there would have put Republicans on guard, and Democrats resting on their laurels.  I have not commented about this race because I don’t think you win it by throwing money at it or in running against The Village Idiot in Chief.  Hillary should have taught Democrats that lesson.

One Democrat was notably absent from this election and that was Bernie who at one point was not sure Ossoff was progressive enough.  Democrats have this fatal flaw that when they go into Red Districts they try to go Republican Lite.  You know, that big tent bullshit that they lose on every single time.  When Bill Clinton went right, he won and we are still cleaning up the mess of moving the Democratic Party right. 

The lesson here should be that if you want a Republican, vote Republican, and that is what they do.  What Democrats are missing is a basic message about economic inequality and social justice, including women’s right to choose.  If you think you can win by pointing out that the Commander in Chief is looney, but have no basic message about what your party stands for other than holding hands and working together (which will never happen), and you can be a kinda conservative, well the wreckage stretches back all the way to Tennessee, when Alison Lundgren Grimes went soft on coal and played Republican Lite to crash and burn.

Democrats need to quit worrying about big tent or winning back the white stupid vote.  They need to sit down and come up with a strategic plan for dealing with economic inequality that stretches from healthcare to jobs and women’s right to choose.  It really is that simple.  The key to winning for Democrats is getting out the vote and not pandering to stupid has always failed.  Republican extremism we have now, even surplanted by Republican Lite will not be an answer for our future.  It will become obvious in the next couple of years.  Democrats better have an alternative.  Bernie has a pretty good one.

UPDATE:  Frank Bruni wrote a column this morning which missed the point:

The party has been bitterly divided over whether that route should veer toward the left, which is where Bernie Sanders is beckoning it, or toward the center. Ossoff chose the latter, electing not to put his chips on the demonization of Trump, lest he offend all the district voters who had put faith in the president. His positions, in aggregate, were moderate.


I think that was the right call, given the demographics of this district, in the northern Atlanta suburbs. It’s no lefty enclave.

Again, it is pander to the voters in a certain area instead of a message and platform for the future.  Democrats need to decide what works (Progressivism) in our future and then start to rebulid the Democratic base.  Otherwise you lose.  Oh, and it is called leadership.  Finally here is one readers comment which I could not agree with more:

Once again the national Democratic Party blew it with millions spent here in Georgia on meaningless negative ads that were repeated ad nauseum. For the same reasons that Hillary lost , now Ossoff lost. No clear message of Democratic accomplishments and long term goals that benefit all strata of society as well as conveying the corruption of the GOP in D.C.. Instead ten times in a half hour we had “DCC” ads about Handel driving a state purchased Lexus and ordering chairs for $15,000 while the state had a budget crisis a decade ago when she was secretary of state. Did we hear about the corruption of the Trump administration and Handel’s support of Trump? Not really. Or better yet about the insider trading of Tom Price whose vacant seat was up for grabs? No. Or did we hear about how the 6th District was gerrymandered so as to make it nearly impossible for a Democrat to win?

Here We Go Again (UPDATED)

UPDATE:  SEE BELOW  In the aftermath of the shooting we are getting the, “Heated rhetoric must calm down in this country,” argument (Joe Scarborough). Get the implication here.  It is the great peace making argument that both sides need to tone it down, but fails to really recognize the imbalance here.  It is a giant cop out by our media that wants to be “fair and balanced.” In another story, which points out that the attacker was a Bernie supporter, the article made this statement implying “overheated”rhetoric:

Their idol, the senator from Vermont, has called President Trump a “demagogue” and said recently that he was “perhaps the worst and most dangerous president in the history of our country.”

So when is telling the truth about the worst and most dangerous president in the history of our country overheated rhetoric?  It is not both sides, and President Trump is not normal.  The rhetoric about him and the danger he poses is the reality of the situation.  That has nothing to do with tolerating violence, which the Democrats have never done.  You have to dig very deep to find some extreme outlier to demonstrate a Democrat promoting violence as a political tool.  On the other hand, just run the tapes of the Trump campaign speeches where he threatened the press, or said he would defend a violent assault on a protestor.  Remember, he claimed the Democrats were paying people to incite violence at his rallies.  Here is a great video summary. Oh, and let’s not forget who just body slammed a reporter to cheers from his supporters.

Meanwhile the Right Wing Media, which has always incited racial hate, fear of immigrants, nativism claims the shooting of Scalise is because of violence prone Democrats.  It is what they have always done.  Hate and fear are the stock and trade of the Republican base and that is the seeds of violence for both sides.  What would you call using your Second Amendment Rights (Sarah Palin) to get your country back?  Tell me where are all those left wing radio shows spewing out hate?  Right Wing radio commands the radio dials.  Spewing hate and fear attracts listeners, spewing tolerance and equal rights puts people to sleep.  So where again is all the overheated rhetoric coming from?

And of course there is the final straw.  Where did all those automatic weapons come from?  There are going to be unhinged people always.  Would you rather they have a knife or an AK-47?  The Republicans would prefer the AK-47.  You know, to protect your rights from the government they disparage every day.  It is not Democrats who are threatening to take away healthcare, or are about to gut Dodd-Frank.  It is not Democrats who want to pass “religious freedom” laws to allow discrimination.  It is not Democrats who want to give away the treasury to the wealthy, or destroy the environment by tearing down our government institutions.

So Republicans have by far been the spewing of hate and fear party, put the weapons in the hands of the nutcases, and are now trying to further disenfranchise the little guy, and the problem is the Democrat’s heated rhetoric?  Bull puckey.  We have been building to this event for a long, long time.  The current President of the United States, is the result of intolerance and ignorance.  And we are surprised that some nut job got a gun?  Sure we can tone down our rhetoric, but that does not mean censor it.  Donald Trump is an ignorant, racist, liar, and that is not rhetoric, that is proven fact.  Click on the links. Run the tapes of his speeches.  We are in dangerous times because the Republicans refuse to reign him in.  So don’t give me any bull shit about both sides need to tone it down.  Look at how we got here.

This is not to condone the violence, but to condemn it.  But the latest rhetoric to tone it down is simply a bandaid on a serious wound, and if we don’t look at how we got here, the bandaid is insufficient.  Remember who has been disparaging government forever, and who is it that wants to use government to try to make things better.  Remember who has used hate and fear to get elected while the other party tries to represent the rights of gays and women.  Remember who wants to dumb us down so our minds are not confused about facts.  Remember who nominated and fell in line behind a racist, ignorant, liar who incited violence at his rallies.  Remember who makes sure the nuts have access to automatic rifles.  Yeah we have a problem, but our problem is remembering who is our problem.

UPDATE:  Does the hypocrisy never stop?  Here is from ThinkProgress:

Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) told Fox News Wednesday afternoon that “the media is complicit” in acts of violence like the mass shooting targeting members of Congress “if they keep inciting, as opposed to informing.” Then he went on to say, “I agree with Rodney wholeheartedly in that the hateful rhetoric serves no positive purpose. In fact, today it served a negative purpose. But unfortunately, and I’m looking at all the media in the eye when I say this: friendships and cordial relationships don’t make good news. So I can tell you, especially as the president of the freshman class of Republicans, we are united along with our Democratic freshman counterparts to bring civility back to the 115th Congress.”

What a bunch of happy horseshit from the party that made saying outrageous things a way to campaign.  See the Liar in Chief or do you remember Joe Wilson and “You Lie”?  Lets go back to Michelle Bachman and her outrageous claims that always turned out to be untrue.  Didn’t Louie Gohmert just say, in speaking of Mueller, “This man had the FBI training materials purged. He did a lot of damage and a lot of Americans are dead as a result of the purging of their training materials.” and later told us Mueller is “Dirty”.

Look at my first link above, a Red Wing website, and then look at ThinkProgress or Media Matters, or any Progressive site and tell me they are equivalent.  If you do, “YOU LIE!”

Just When You Thought It Could Not Get Any Stranger

Trump is thinking about firing the special counsel?  Deja vu!  Of course he is not a student of even recent history so he probably thinks Deja Vu is some French dish.  Now reasons for the firing are being thrown out by his minions.  Mueller is a friend of James Comey and is therefore biased.  He was appointed after Comey released his notes and therefore was a plot by Comey.  He is a Democratic plant and many of the people he is hiring gave money to the Obama Campaign. And on and on.

None of it makes any sense.  Everyone agreed this former FBI director who was appointed by Bush II is a straight shooter.  The investigation will go where it will and the truth and facts are what will make a case and is what is important here.  And that is the real reason the ViLic (Village Idiot/Liar in Chief) is considering firing him.  He is doing the job and the obvious truth will out.  It will be interesting to see if the Republicans sense a sinking ship and like rats, desert the ship, or will they circle the wagons knowing that by hitching their wagon to this buffoon in the early going lusting after their “agenda” could crush their party if the truth does will out.

Tomorrow we have Attorney General Jeff Sessions to testify in an open hearing.  I believe we will see whether they are circling the wagons or deserting the ship.  I can’t believe he will not assert executive privilege.  On the other hand he could deny all of Comey’s testimony and then the game is afoot.  Or he could try to rehabilitate himself (if that is possible) and just tell the truth.  Only in my dreams.

The Big Cave

The Republican Party is no more.  I think that is now fairly obvious when you listen to Lindsey Graham, incoherent John McCain, or Orrin Hatch.  They don’t stand for anything any more but defending the indefensible, I guess in search of their agenda.  And I think if you think about that, you understand that they no longer stand for anything.  Let me explain.

The Republican Party that no longer exists was one that basically was tough on defense, demanded you take personal responsiblity, believed in personal and professional integrity, and of course smaller government, lower taxes, and less regulation.  The market place will solve most problems.  But they weren’t afraid to acknowledge where the market place did not work, in things like infrastructure, the FAA, and other federal agencies.  Let’s not forget that it was the Republicans who created the EPA.

Now I mention these three example of bipartisan supported government functions because all three are now being dismantled.  Instead of collecting taxes and investing in roads, bridges, trains, water and sewage treatment facilities, dams, water storage, and utility improvements, The ViLic (Village Idiot/Liar in Charge a.k.a. Donald Trump)(a new acronym every day) has decided he will get the Saudis to fund it.  So on the first one we are selling our infrastructure to a foreign country which used to anathema to Republicans.  The EPA is being taken apart and turned over to industry, and the ViLic has proposed we turn the FAA over to the lowest bidder.  This all ought to work out well. Remind me to drive everywhere.

Somewhere along the way, Republicanism became an ideology around low taxes, small government, few regulations, and of course, getting re-elected.  Somewhere in there they forget about their love of the Constitution, fairness, integrity, or the importance of a strong national defense if they could sell those things out for their ideology.  So a Russian incursion into our election is secondary to maintaining a President (and their Party) totally unsuited for the role, in office.  Somehow winning at politics became more important than voter rights and fair representation.  Hate and fear became a useful tool to tear us apart if that met their election aims.

So what we have left is a party with no real moral or ethical values but hate and dissension, playing on racial, social, and religious differences, while undermining our democracy and our Constitution, so they can enact their agenda.  How do you explain the redistricting thrown out by the courts, claims of religious freedom to allow for discrimination, or once again allowing discrimination of gays in the work place?  We have a President who has thrown our ethical rules out the window, earning money with giant conflicts of interest and the Republicans look the other way.  We have a President who lies and for almost certain has committed obstruction of justice, and the real obstruction is from Republicans so we won’t find out about it.  And almost certainly he and his team have colluded with the Russians.

Meanwhile they salivate over their agenda.  They do all this with the justification that the people have spoken so all this is okay.  Well actually they lost the popular vote, and we are a Republic based upon a Constitution, not a pure democracy.  That seems no longer operable in their little minds.  They are redefining the Constitution and look the other way or even aid and abett a president who tries to destroy free speech.

So what of their agenda?  Well so far they are in hiding (in the Senate) creating a bill to gut Obamacare.  No hearings, no daylight, and you can be sure the lies told about a better approach are just that, lies.  The plan will have just enough window dressing so they can then cut taxes for the wealthy.  The refrain you hear is that it is already collapsing (how do other countries manage it?), and that is because they have created so much uncertainty in the markets, the insurers are pulling out.  So whatever they come up with will be a disaster for most of us.  Then there is their push to repeal the financial protections put in place after the financial meltdown in 2008.  Next up will be tax reform to really just give away our treasury to the wealthy.  You can also see a behind the scenes effort to get rid of regulators and regulations.

Now here is the thing.  What we have seen is a Congress who would already be in the process of impeaching a President Hillary, turning a blind eye to the ViLic.  So I think you can say that unless Special Counsel Mueller drags them kicking and screaming into the light, impeachment is off the table.  And Muller’s investigation could take a while.  Meanwhile they will enact an agenda that will fail, and fail miserably for most of us.  Our international reputation and influence could be marked at the laughing stock level.  Global warming will happen and many of those who voted for the ViLic will get hurt the most.  And while the rich get richer, the rest of us will have a smaller share of the pie.  See Kansas for reality.

So they are selling their souls for a false god that will leave the country in shambles, fewer jobs not more, loss of healthcare for many and rising prices across the board, maybe a financial crisis, our infrastructure sold to the highest bidder, and maybe set low standards for ethical and moral behavior for the forseeable future.  Can we recover.  Yes, but make no mistake, these are dangerous times.

With Maryland and D.C. now filing a lawsuit against the ViLic, I still think it will all come crashing down in September.  Mueller just hired one of the best criminal prosecutors in the U.S. so there is certainly real fire where we see smoke. You never know if an avalanche starts, Republicans might find their backbone out of self-preservation. Leaks will continue and multiply as those professionals in government see what is being covered up and can no longer stomach it.  The ViLic will take more hits on his business and if his dealings with the Russians are exposed (financial), he may just walk away.  But there is the other scenario where he could go postal, grant himself immunity, and wag the dog.  Then all we have are the morally and ethically bankrupt Republicans.  Kind of lets you know how important the mid-term is in 2018.  Time to get organized.

Constitutional Crisis

We have arrived.  Clearly the testimony of Dan Coates, director of national intelligence and Mike Rogers the director of NSA, yesterday before the Senate Intelligence committee should make that point even before the testimony of James Comey:

Two top intelligence officials refused to answer senators’ questions on Wednesday about whether President Trump had asked them to intervene in the F.B.I. investigation into Russian election interference, saying only that they had never felt “pressured” by the White House to do anything improper.

Isn’t the Senate Intelligence committee the ‘oversight” for these agencies and since there was, by their own words, no executive privilege claimed and did not involve classified material, there was no basis to refuse to answer the question.  They were duty bound to answer it and they both demurred claiming it seem inappropriate.  Actually there was a reason, loyalty to the Village Idiot in Chief (VIIC), and not loyalty to their oath to defend the Constitution.  Now on this item alone we have a Constitutional Crisis where the Executive Branch and the government of the United states is no longer answer to the judicial branch.  It was disgraceful.

I also want you to note that words are important.  Saying they did not feel pressured to intervene in the F.B.I. investigation is not the same as saying you were not asked.  In fact, it implies you were. Unlike Comey who we heard today, these guys will sell their soul to keep their jobs.  Now there are two other conclusions to draw here.  The first is that this sends a chilling message to the people who work for them.  Truth needs to be shaded to make the VIIC happy.  There will be a revolt and it turns our agencies against the Executive Branch, not serve as a partner.

Second, we are going to see massive leaks as those in the trenches see their bosses compromise the truth or try to hide.  The hearings for Coates and Rogers was Exhibit A.  Sessions is Exhibit B.  Most of us are starting to wonder why what we know about the Russian attack on America is still so classified.  Why should not we who vote know what the threat is and understand and ask questions about why the VIIC continues to call this much to do about nothing.  Leakers like Reality Winner may be more of a patriot than a criminal as many believe the true problem is being hidden for political reasons, not protecting intelligence sources.  Coates and Rogers almost make that point.

Okay, on to the hearing today with ex-FBI Director Comey.  My thought is that it was fairly damning.  There were two camps as always.  The Democrats wanted to know what happened, and the Republicans are trying to either sully Comey (subtly) or make the interpretation of what happened just a misunderstanding (the ignorance excuse for the VIIC).  It is bull shit and obvious bull shit.  The President clearly asked for his loyalty (to take orders over and above the Constitution), asked him to end the Flynn investigation, and lied about both.

But there were some other things that should really get your attention.  The first one is about whether the President was or was not being investigated.  Comey clearly told him he was not, and that is the only truthful thing the VIIC has said about the whole affair.  But there was a big caveat and that was when Comey explained about the meeting of the senior leaders and there was dissent about whether they should tell him that based upon two reasons.  The first was that they were investigating the Trump campaign/administration and it could lead to him.  The second was that there is that problem of once you make that statement, you then have the responsibility to notify them if it changes.  Remember for Hillary and the October surprise?

The second was that ex-Director Comey telling us that he briefed President Obama multiple times on the Russian incursion into our election, and has never been requested once to brief the VIIC.  That about says it all.  We have a president who has and is lying, and does not seem interested at any level in pursuing the Russians and protecting our institutions.  Republicans can dissemble all they want, the pile of shit is growing and so is the smell.  If what we know about Mueller (the special counsel) is true, at some point, he will be fired.

Listening to the VIICs attorney, he heard a totally different hearing than I did.  And of course as I noted earlier, words matter.  He claims the president is not under investigation.  We don’t know that.  His people are and if there is a trail to the top, it will be followed until the VIIC then fires the special counsel.  The claim about Comey being the Leaker-in-Chief is just ludicrous in that the notes were not classified, nor were they held back by asserted executive privilege (which probably would have failed in the courts).  The VIIC already told us his version and Comey simply replied.

So here we are in a true Constitutional Crisis where the Republicans have basically abdicated their responsibly for the Constitution and their Congressional duties.  We have the heads of many of the VIICs executive agencies hiding facts from Congress.  There is no longer just smoke, but a raging fire.  I stand by my prediction he will be gone by September.  Stand by.  The Twitter rant will eventually come out.

One last thing.  Comey explained why in July he came out to explained why he was dropping charges against Hillary instead of just dropping charges without commenting.  I bought it.  He saw the meeting with the then Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton as tainting the whole process and felt unless he came out with a full explanation, their would be doubt cast against both the Justice Department and the FBI.  I get that.  That was a colossal blunder by Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch.  In many ways, that move ended Hillary’s campaign.

However, I don’t buy the second part, that because he had announced the investigation was over, when they found what they thought were additional emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer, he had to announce he was reopening it.  There was policy at that point that said don’t do it, but he still felt that the Justice Department and the FBI would once again in jeopardy of appearing biased.  That was wrong and he changed who was elected president.  But in the end, Bill Clinton and sex have done immeasurable damage to this country and  I wish the Clintons would just go away.

The Flag is Burning

Not one I recognize.  Not even one I admire anymore.  Remember that “Shining City on the Hill”.  It has become that lean-to in the dump. Sure there are lots of manicured castles around, but that is just for the special folk as the rest of us see a stagnant and backward nation.  Do I hyperbolize?  Let me recount:

  • We elected a leader that is ignorant of history, admires brutal dictators, denies science, cannot speak in full sentences, and is a narcissist on steroids (See any of my last 200 blogs and the references therein)
  • Our President thinks nothing of hawking his wares from the White House and thumbs his nose at conflict of interest charges basically sending the message that rules are only for the little people
  • A Vice-President so incompetent and clueless that he would create a theocracy if he could, but he sounds nice
  • During a state visit of the President of Turkey who our very own Village Idiot In Charge (VIIC) congratulated when through corruption won an election to severely limit democracy, protestors in Washington were beaten up by Turkish thugs and we ignore it
  • His own disregard for the first freedom of speech through his attack on journalists and implicitly inciting violence on them bore fruit in Montana were the candidate attack a journalist.  Oh, and he got elected
  • While is Saudi Arabia one of the VIIC Minions (VIMs) noted that there was not one protest on any of the motorcade routes.  No, I am not kidding.  They love police states
  • The VIIC actually tweeted that the Pope was a humble man, much like himself
  • The VIIC in Brussels pushed his way to the front of the pack and then took up one of his famous Presidential looks that reminds you of a 7-year old trying to look important
  • The VIIC refused to make a decision on the Paris Climate Accord, which is code for coming home and then denying science to make his base happy and take part in destroying the planet for our children
  • The VIMs, specifically the Attorney General, is bringing back of the glory days of the War on Drugs of the 1980s where we filled our prisons with non-violent offenders and had more prisons than schools, which by the way are more expensive than colleges to operate
  • The VIMs, specifically the Chief of the EPA, has decided to replace scientist with industry lackys to rule on environmental protections.  Love Canal here we come.
  • The VIMs released a budget that slashes everything that helps Americans to afford tax cuts for the wealthy
  • The VIMs want to slash the corporate tax rate based on the lie that we pay more corporate taxes than anyone.  Just the little guys do.  The really big guys pay nothing and the average is 14% which is less than half what the published rate is.
  • The VIMs, specifically the Secretary of Education, wants to transfer the control of education loans to treasury where it can be managed as a revenue source for government instead of a program to help those in need afford education
  • The VIIC seems to want to restart the war in the middle east, except we will just be smarter this time, right?
  • The VIMs released and passed a healthcare plan that lowers premiums for the young and healthy, but won’t cover much, pushes 23 million off healthcare, and could raise rates by 800% for the sick and elderly
  • Finally in the great example of the new cruelty of this administration and the “we are definitely not all in this together,” was Ben Carson, another VIM who explained that poverty was a state of mind.  It is the responsibility argument that allows you to blame the victim.  People are poor because the deserve it, and she was raped because she was provocative

On the VIIC’s latest trip, he gave a speech in Saudi Arabia where he said we don’t care about human values (we are not going to tell you how to live or what to do), and changing our foreign policy toward democracy and freedom and putting business first.  He went to NATO and did not affirm Article 5, an attack on one is an attack on all, the very basis of NATO and with Russian encroachment increasing.  Meanwhile his son-in-law is under investigation for trying to set up a back channel communication, and National Security Advisor tried to normalize it without mentioning the whole idea was totally alien to back channel communications in that it was designed to take our intelligence agencies out of the loop.

So here we are.  And we are here because we are too tolerant and kind.  Yes tolerance is a virtue and so is kindness.  But who knew our democracy was so fragile that with one election we set out to destroy everything good about America?  So there is a place for kindness and tolerance, but not when it comes to our basic values.  The base of the Republican Party should have been slapped back again and again by Moderate Republicans (or real Republicans), Democrats, and the media.  Instead we gave them a pass to practice by being tolerant of their intolerance.  Hopefully we have learned something.  If we haven’t it really is all over.

Oh Good Lord!

The Village Idiot in Charge (VIIC) is running amok in Europe and pissing everyone off.  Does the man understand the history of World War I and II?  Rhetorical.  He does not and neither do most of his supporters.  Nationalism is the road to war and empowering Russia.  When the VIIC failed to overtly say he stands behind Article 5 of NATO (an attack on one is an attack on all), it was a Russian wet dream. It undermines NATO.  Then he goes and offends just about everyone.  The video of him pushing aside (ala Diana Ross of the Supremes) a European leader to get up front tells you exactly who he is.

He is stupid, arrogant, and a grave danger to the country.  How do you apologize to the citizens of the world for this abomination or the ignorant fools who voted for him?  I don’t know but I am not proud to be an American under this kind of leadership.

Hillary came out swinging today at the commencement speech at her alma mater, Wellesley.

I think Hillary killed it “…a full fledged assault on truth and reason.”  put a face on what the VIIC is doing to this country.  My thought as I watched this is where is Barack?  These are not normal times and all I can say is all hands on deck, tradition be damned.

In the Russia news, the follow the money strategy is focusing in on Jared Kushner.  That was no surprise as last week it was a close advisor of the VIIC who was a person of interest.  Who else?  For the VIIC you are starting to see what he is really about (himself).  Nationalism to him is me first, I got mine, screw you.  We see that in his approach to Europe and his short-sighted profit motive to be friends with the Russians.  What do we care if Vlad takes over Eastern Europe again?  Where is the profit and loss?  In Saudi, the message was do what you want with women or minority rights, we don’t care as long as it does not impact the bottom line.  That is not the America where I am a citizen.

Meantime in the country we have the same thing going on.  We are going to run the government like a business and what that means is the business of tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts for everyone else. Did you see this morning that VIIC minions wants to transfer student loans($1 Trillion) from the agency that cares (or is supposed to) about educating our nation, to the Treasury Department as a revenue stream on the backs of our kids.  That is the new America we live in.

Finally in healthcare we have a disaster for a “repeal and replace.”  It won’t pass and what they will do is not do the things that will fix the problems with Obamacare, but continue to sabotage it to make the medical markets smaller and more costly so they can blame the failure of Obamacare on a bad idea (death spiral) instead of their hand in its demise and failure to take the steps necessary to fix it.  Middle America doesn’t get it yet, but they will.

In the meantime we had Montana morons cheering the attack on a journalist and believe me,  listening to and seeing the journalist, no one will believe he attack the candidate.  While the Republicans poored money into this campaign, the Democratic Party was once again very late to the party.  That is the new America we live in and I want to move.  No actually I want to move all the morons who reject science, knowledge, data, our fundamental beliefs to Montana or South Carolina where they can all simmer together in their stupidity and see what percolates up.  Happy Memorial Day Weekend.  Memories may be all we have left.

More Random Thoughts – Potpourri

I watched most of the hearings in the House Intelligence Committee and it is clear to the casual observer that there is clearly fire where there is smoke and while they were all dancing around it, invoking privileged conversations, it was obvious that was has been reported is true. It is clear there is something rotten in the Trump administration.  Not that the Republicans did not try to produce more smoke so you could not see if there was a fire.  It was almost shameful.  One Republican knuckle head actually tried to say that when Obama conferred with Medvedev, President of Russia back in the day (two heads of state), it was the same thing.  Nothing here folks, look away, or Obama is the bigger traitor.  I wonder when this kind of moronic spinning will finally start to hurt them?

The VIIC (Village Idiot in Charge) and his village idiot minions (VIMs) released his budget yesterday and it is a horror show unless you are a very rich person.  Of course all the cuts and give aways to the rich will be paid for by amazing economic growth that no one has seen since Eisenhower.  In other words it is a pack of lies and really smoke and mirrors to cut everything that we do to help our fellow citizens survive so that rich people can have further tax cuts.  Did you get the name of it?  The New Foundations for American Greatness. George Orwell be still your beating heart.  Ayn Rand would be orgasmic. I thought we learned austerity does not really help the economy? Oh well.

The Budget Office also scored the Trumpcare Plan and it was as expected.  There is no Republican solution to healthcare with a market based system if you want to cover as many people as possible and make it affordable while keeping the good stuff from Obamacare.  It really is that simple.

Thomas Friedman served up an interesting view of degenerating middle America with this conclusion:

The big divide in America is not between the coasts and the interior. It’s between strong communities and weak communities. You can find weak ones along the coast and thriving ones in Appalachia, and vice versa. It’s community, stupid — not geography.

The story was of communities that from local advocacy, learned how to thrive and innovate their economic base and those that did not.  I am not sure it is as simple as that, but my thoughts went elsewhere here.  The picture of those failing communities were of lost jobs and then stagnation, turning to a drug epidemic.  This is kind of foreign to my being, the idea that communities are so stagnate.  I was a military brat when I grew up moving about every three years.  College was expected, and when I graduated, the nation was my plaything.  Now granted I went into the Air Force and left Maryland to go to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, but had I not been in the Vietnam era and a military career been my choice, I still would have looked at the country as the job market.

When things go south at home, I did not have a home.  Time to move on.  So with that kind of mentality, it is hard for me to understand the desperation of the young at least.  But I fear the story is more complicated than Tom paints it.  What about the old or the young who do not want to move and new industries do not come in to reinvigorate their communities?  Local community action might not be enough.  I think another story might be told that people on the coast are more mobile and maybe educated.

I also think about my experience getting she who must not be mentioned here a new car.  Now she has had her old car for 11 years so we were amazed at the technology changes.  And then it dawned on us, lease a car for 3 years because the technology changes are accelerating.  In other words just finance 3 years of use instead of the life of the car and upgrade again.  So how does that transfer to jobs?  My answer is that the job market will also change in the same fashion and what is technological savvy today, will be obsolete tomorrow.  While service industries might be static or stable in one area (teachers, nurses, hospitals, police, fire, etc.), there has to be a driving business community to which they serve the workers.  So what does that tell us?

I think two things.  First, jobs are going to come and go and government will have to play a role, counter to Republican inhumanness, where the community is not close to a university that can leverage a changing job market.  Second, the world of secure jobs for most of us, except service industries is over.  The work force will have to be a learning community as technology changes the whole environment of work.  So once again, what about those that are not capable? The Republican solution is leave them to die in the ditch.  Government has a role to play here providing easy and affordable access to education and a safety net for those who get left behind.  Think truck drivers when we go to driverless trucks and that is just scratching the surface.

One final thing this morning as I am on a train to SF and a visit to the Legion of Honor to see the Monet exhibit.  The Russia thing:  I have said it before and apparently they are finally catching on.  Follow the Money.  It has always been about the money and how the VIIC got his financing over the years as Russia was sinking their claws into him.  I see him gone by late summer.  The media has finally figured this out and it is only a matter of time.  Republican equivocating and obstruction is just disgusting.  I am hoping that they can also show Pious Pence lied about what he knew about Flynn.  Then does it go to Paul Ryan or will the nation finally realize we need a do over, a special election for President?  Maybe a two month thing (and please don’t run Hillary again).  I dream.

Note:  I have not mentioned the bombing in Manchester because I am not sure what to say.  I almost ignore it because there is nothing to say.  It is sad, tragic, and mindless.  It is also a police issue because this is the kind of threat we will be facing in the future.  It is just nut jobs and rooting them out is everyone’s responsibility. Reading about it is just too sad and I think we learn nothing when we hover on the nut job who thought taking innocent children had any meaning.