Archive for the ‘Connecting the Dots’ Category.

The Fat F*ck

Sorry, but that is now how I see this despicable man we call the President. As the days go on, you start to wonder why the nation does not throw him out. He stands before us and tells one lie after another, and his behavior obscene, totally unbecoming a president of this country. I have to wonder how anyone at this point thinks he has either business acumen or is a crafty politician. He is a blathering lying fool. The latest was as he stood in the White House Garden pretending he and Mitch don’t despise one another and blatantly lied about President Obama and other presidents meeting with the parents of fallen service men. It was such a blatant and distasteful lie that went beyond the bounds of the new normal of his lying. There is such a sickness here that permeates everything he does. And what he does is out of meanness, spite, and ignorance.

Look at the lies he spouts about Obamacare. He is wrecking it with no thought to what comes next for the people who will suffer. He tells the whopper that most Republicans tell us that we will have more choice and our premiums will go down and he opens the door to junk plans and cuts subsidies to policies for the really poor. Oh and look at that group in the picture with him. Pander white f*cks who have got theirs. And any reasonable analysis tells us this is all a big lie. Sure you will be fine if you are healthy. But when shit happens, and it will, you are back to the pre-Obamacare days where the number one cause of bankruptcy was health issues and medical bills.

Then there is the nonsense he spouts on the Iran nuclear deal. And what he is doing here is mixing apples and oranges. Sure Iran does bad things, but the one they are not doing is building nukes. That is what the agreement was about. And no, there are no violations and it is working. So he just walks away or is going to “negotiate a better deal”? Um, what about the other countries that actually make this thing work? What we are seeing is that the trust of the United States to keep its word is non-existent. That ought to work out well with North Korea.

Here we have a man who is shocked, shocked, shocked at Harvey Weinstein and yet he admitted to sexually assaulting women, but that was just “locker room”. Here we have a man who flaunts using his position of power to enrich himself. Here is a man who stands before the nation and tells us lies about the electrical power plants in Puerto Rico, and threatens to abandon them, our fellow Americans. And here is a man who rates everything he does by the reviews he gets. He spends days on the NFL and says nothing until pressed about the servicemen killed in Africa.

I don’t know how much more evidence you need that he is not fit to be anywhere near the oval office. He is a smug, arrogant, buffoon in the best of lights, and a mean nasty little man who is working out his feelings of inadequacy on the nation by lashing out, destroying everything in his wake in the worst of lights. The really sad thing is that many of us and press lets him off as we get used to his lies. But I find him an embarrassment to the whole notion of what it is to be an American. So let me say this loud and clear, “THAT FAT FUCK IS NOT MY PRESIDENT. I think John McCain, knowing his days are numbered probably said it best when he took on the Trump/Bannon faction of his party when he got his Liberty Award yesterday, but his aim should have been wider at the lack of spine both he and his party have shown over the years to bring us to this abomination. Let’s not forget the ignorance of Sarah Palin. So I will leave you with this, and it is truly a sad thought. I have never been so ashamed and embarrassed to be an American. That is the times we are living in.

Harvey Weinstein, GMOs, Fire, and Living in Ignorance

ca. 2000 — Man Putting Fingers in Ears — Image by © Duncan Smith/Corbis

Are you sick to death of media coverage of Harvey Weinstein? The DIC (Dotard in Charge) has taken a sledge hammer to our democracy, and we get more coverage of Harvey and his perversions? The story here is not how Harvey raped (alleged) or exposed himself, but how his power and influence had others just turn away. See Donald Trump. NBC’s behavior about the story is despicable as they tried to kill it after pressure from Weinstein lawyers. Says something about news as entertainment and profit. People in Hollywood are just shocked and you know that they are shocked because now they can afford to be.

Hollywood is not the only place where who you know makes your career, it is just the most visible one, and with lots of beautiful women, there is going to be sexual abuse where someone in power abuses their power. Again see Donald Trump. The truly sad think is how many looked away because their career depended on it. There are lots of talented people, so who gets the shot, who gets the major role, who gets the promotion. We would like to pretend it is all on merit, but who you know is more important in many cases that your raw talent. So we are set up for abuse. Again see the DIC. Kiss his ass and you are his friend. It is the human condition and we just need to be braver at calling it out.

I have always thought the public outcry about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) is a bunch of pseudo science. Let’s face it, plants and animals modify their genes in nature all the time. They are called mutations. But a scientist does it to make a plant more hearty or healthy and we have Frankenstein. So you see non-GMO on packages because like the people who think vaccinations cause autism, people have a false sense understanding of science and nature. Now sure, there can be problems, but here is a story of survival of my favorite fruit, the banana. It is being wiped out world-wide by a fungus so scientists are trying to produce a more fungus resistant strain. Come on people, like everything else, its gray. Of course humans don’t like gray, they like black and white for simple minded decision making. Once again see the DIC in action. But that is not how our universe works. I would bet those folks in wine country would like to see some more fire resistant trees developed.

The fire here in California is probably the way of our future. We are having another Red Flag* day today and I got the message, have a bag packed with your getaway stuff so you can be out of here in 1 minute or less. Think about the essentials, a couple changes of cloths, passports, medicine, shaving kit, spare glasses, and a checklist for other critical stuff if you have time. This story in the WaPo is just harrowing and you think this will not happen to you, but I live in the forest and if Santa Rosa can burn down, well just wow. But the one thing about local news (Sacramento) was that most stations were just terrible at covering it. But when they finally focused, it was only for the big shots of flames. Now that the fire is semi-under control, well, on to other things. But the real story is the aftermath and how we recover. The real learning is there. But there is a car chase on I-5 so our gaze deflects… Oh, and think about it, California is a rich state and the damage was extensive with over 2500 homes just gone, schools gone, businesses gone, and this is very minor compared to Puerto Rico.  This President makes me ill.

Finally, we come to the sledge hammer wielding of the DIC fulfilling his “campaign promises” to destroy America. I wrote about them yesterday. Primarily we are talking about his assault on Obamacare and Iran, and nukes in general. On that latter case, the NYT had an excellent piece fact checking what he told us about Iran and nukes and how badly flawed the narrative was (untrue). Here is the WaPo on his subsidies claim as bailouts (four Pinocchios). I have no doubt he believes this stuff, but it is all wrong. How can you have effective policy based upon false assumptions about cause of problems? Or if you want to stay awake at night, think about how you have the facts wrong about Iraq, and totally misunderstand North Korea and have an effective nuclear deterrent policy. The sad thing is most Republicans are in the same boat as the block research and data that might show them the light. We are being lead by Dumb (the Republican Party) and Dumber (the DIC). Sleep well tonight.

*Red Flag means temperatures are warm, humidity is very low, and winds are high making any fire that gets started basically uncontrollable.

Noise, Total Noise, Smoke and Mirrors

What we are getting right now is noise, smoke and mirrors. Why did he do it? Who cares, because the next one will be a different why? We pretend we will get some kind of closure when we know why, I guess because we think if we know why we can protect ourselves. But the next nut job will have a different why. Take the last big shootings, Sandy Hook, the Virginia Tech Shooting, and the Pulse Club in Florida.

What is the common denominator, their type of craziness, or the assault weapons they used. Oh, and you will feel so much better because look, look, even the NRA is moving to “talk” about banning bump stocks. Note that sales are soaring just in case they do. Unless we do an Australia, we haven’t even moved the needle, yet we are so excited that the NRA and Republicans will let us talk about bumps. I am just giddy. It would appear that the more guns we have, the more we need to protect ourselves from others who have guns. Maybe if I was carrying a rocket launcher I could have taken out that nut job shooting from the 32nd floor.  I wonder when we will ever have a real debate.

I listened to one Republican dissembler tell us that we need to debate and study this issue of bump stocks. Responsible people don’t over react (like tax or healthcare reform).  How long have we been looking at this? More noise, smoke, and mirrors. Remember guns don’t kill people, people do, but guns makes it so much more efficient and effective. So why is it again that we keep handing them more and more dangerous and lethal ways to go postal?  See nukes are not the problem, people are.  See the irrational logic line here?

Almost everywhere I look it is smoke and mirrors, noise instead of real change. Tax reform is a joke. Real tax reform is hard. Everyone has a vested interest and we don’t start from the same place. What has to be paid for before we going giving away treasury? No agreement there so this is nothing but a tax slash for the wealthy which is the only economic policy position Republicans know.

Climate change is happening, and we have just had three of the most disastrous storms we have seen in hundreds of years, predicted by global warming, and who is the lead of the EPA (a climate change denier), and now the Dotard in Charge (DIC) is appointing a coal lobbyist as the second in command at EPA. His boys and girls (Cabinet/White House staff) are using their private emails (lock her up) and flying around the country on private jets at your and my expense, and he is draining the swamp? Oh did I mention he is meeting with the generals on North Korea (“Calm before the storm”), and wants to change the Iran agreement? Meanwhile the Republicans are stonewalling the Russia investigation. It’s noise, smoke, and mirrors while the country slides backwards into chaos.

Now that I have thoroughly depressed you unless you are a LD (Little Dotard, Trump base), let me try to show you how we got on this path of ignorance. Right after the shooting in Las Vegas I heard an interview with a woman who was spouting the conventional wisdom about bringing the country back together. “We just need to start listening to each other. We need to lower the rhetoric and listen and try to understand the other side. Then maybe we can find common solutions.” Sounds great doesn’t it? It is horse shit. Pabulum for those who have not been paying attention. It’s pabulum because we don’t operate on the same set of facts anymore.

Were you not paying attention during the Obama years?  Much to my chagrin, because I don’t think Republicans have workable solutions, President Obama tried to compromise with them.  How many Republican votes did he get on healthcare (0).  It got to be a standing joke that even if Barack proposed a Republican plan (which he did on numerous occasions), they were against it.  There goal was to destroy the his presidency (remember Mitch McConnell’s one term President comment?).

In order to take the positions Republicans have taken and support their policies, one had to create an alternate universe, and they did.  Climate change doesn’t exist, tax cuts pay for themselves, immigrants are the root of all our economic problems, all trade agreements are bad, the EPA just hurts business with regulations, regulations in general are bad, government is bad, guns are a natural right, and they were extremely effect at then explaining away failure to act as both sides do it.  Now they are in charge, and they still can’t do anything.

But the point here is that they created a public that does not agree on a set of facts.  Does it not floor you that much of America gets their news on Facebook trending junk?  We can’t have effective solutions if we cannot come together on root cause and effect.  Republicans believe that more guns makes us safer.  How has that worked out?  Republicans believe that climate change is worst a hoax, at best not man-caused, so we do nothing as the conditions for disastrous climate changes increase.  How can all regulations be bad when many of them came from very bad situations where protections are in order? Obamacare is a disaster, but their answer for a fix is trust us, the market place will solve all issues?  The facts do not support any of their beliefs.

So back the woman who wants me to listen.  But the other side has already ended listening because I must be confused about my facts.  Why should I listen to someone who wants to take away gay, lesbian, or transgender rights?  Why would I want to listen to someone who wants to destroy Obamacare with no viable solution?  Why would I want to listen to someone wants to destroy the EPA and deny climate change?  Until we can establish again the difference between political differences and facts, there is no debate.

Let me leave you with this.  There will be no hand holding and coming together.  We have to re-establish facts before we have political debates about what to do about them.  Climate exists and is man caused.  Tax cuts in this economy do not simulate growth.  All government is not bad.  Immigrants help, not hurt our economy.  More guns are killing more people.  We live in a global economy and we need trade agreements.  If we could just start from those established facts (google them!).  Then maybe the listening could start.  But Republicans have made clear they have an alternate set of facts and no further discussion is necessary.

The only fix is that if we survive this four years, we need to hose out the White House and Congress after we throw all of the Republicans and “moderate Democrats” out, and get about the business of governing again.  We deal with facts, data, and science, develop policies based upon them, and if they need fixing, we do not have an ideological agenda or wanting to believe something that prevents us from doing just that.  It is just amazing to me that the real ideologues are not progressives who can change, but Republicans who cannot, and yet somehow we all just need to hold hands.  Bull shit.

Halfway Through “The Vietnam War” Thoughts

Tough watching, but exactly as I remembered it. I actually think it is a masterpiece, especially telling the story from all sides, the protestors, the supporters, the South Vietnamese, and the North Vietnamese. It makes the point that there is one human condition and racism so necessary to killing in war is harder to achieve when you have empathy for your enemy. The one thing that comes through is the insanity of it, the wanton killing and massive death of civilians. Let us never forget the free fire zones or the “colateral damage” of napalm. When you cannot tell who your enemy is, it is time to get out.

Now I always laugh when I hear people talk about the lessons from Vietnam. They usually indicate that they didn’t learn anything. Here is what I learned*:

1.  Our government lies to us

2.  Generals (CEOs?) generally do not have a clue what is going on, because they hear what people think they want to hear.

I say that from much experience, but if you are watching “The Vietnam War”, it is clear that the government knew this was futile, but could find no way to walk away. If you bought their logic at the time, if we give up Vietnam, all of Indochina will fall (which I did not), they still knew it was futile and they were throwing lives away because they could not do the hard thing. It was hard to tell whether they were more afraid of a Communist Indochina, or that the voters would be pissed. My view was that it was easier to kill kids so the voters won’t be pissed (that is the Republican Party today on healthcare except this time it is the minority base and their donors).

I got that then as did many both in the military and in the protest movement although those for the war, like those today who support Donald Trump, were badly misinformed or ignorant of reality. It was clear to many of us that the war was unwinnable. I would make the arguments why, but Burns and Novick have done a great job of doing just that, and if I have to argue further, it is futile.  I guess if we killed everyone we could call that winning.  At any rate they lied to us and keep us in the dark about the extent of our involvement, the cost, and the futility of the cause (the corruption and incompetence in South Vietnam).

The second lesson was a lesson I learned early in my young career in the AF, generals hear what they want to hear, and people get promoted by telling them just that, what they want to hear. In Burns’ and Novick’s narrative it is clear that most of us on ground or actually doing the fighting/flying were well aware of the failure of our efforts, but the message never got carried up to the top, simply because they did not want to hear it and the war became the ticket to success.

I am wondering if Burns and Novick will tell the story of John Paul Vann that correspondent and author Neil Sheehan did in his book Bright and Shining Lie, about how someone who saw the failure of our tactics and the futility of the war got co-opted by his success as he moved up the chain. We will see next week. I used to have to fly with our squadron commander because he was a desk jockey in the pentagon and was at Udorn to punch his ticket for promotion. The man could not refuel the airplane (air to air) and I was there to get the gas. The war was a ticket puncher for advancement.

Now a present day example of both of these is how torture during the Bush administration was a failure of both principle and utility. In other words, it was against our basic values and it did not work. People will tell you anything you want to hear under torture and you have no idea the reliability of their information you do get. As the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Investigation on Torture found, it was counterproductive (turning more to al-Qaeda/ISIS), and the information was generally already available and gotten earlier and more effectively by other means.

So why did that not get up the chain? For both of the reasons above. The original information on WMD was obtained because that is what the V.P. wanted to hear and those below him figured that out and then they realized if you give the brass what they want to hear, you are the go to guy. So the information was culled to tell Cheney what he wanted to believe.

When the big wigs showed up to see how the war was going, it was dog and pony show time. It still is in many ways. We know from today’s politics that many people know what they want to believe and they ignore evidence to the contrary. So too our leaders, and they have to fight that and the fact that the system wants to feed them what they want to hear to “raise all ships”.  Me, I would always tell people what I thought and so would most of my contemporaries. Thus we were regulated to the background and when they did hear the truth, they were shocked, shocked, shocked. Then you must be some kind of radical.

There are so many parallels and lessons for us today in this story, but I think the one thing really important thing that has come through is the bravery of American kids who were in an impossible situation, and in most cases did amazing things that make you on one hand so very proud of them, and on the other, sick and angry that they were so misused. I was an adult and an officer and I knew what I was getting into. These were idealistic kids who made us very, very proud. It makes it all that much harder to visit the Wall and know the reality of that war and the way they were treated afterwards.

It will be interesting to see where we go next week, but so far the ride for me has been trying and yet familiar. Burns and Novick have got it right if anyone out there is listening. I haven’t heard any news coverage of this series or the lessons we might take from it for today’s issues and adding more troops in Afghanistan by the DIC (Dotard in Charge.)

Oh, and for those of you that just say if we could have changed our tactics, did more of the hearts and minds stuff, invaded Laos and Cambodia (we did illegally), bomb the North back to the stone age, we would have won that war, I simply ask you to define win. When every man woman and child is dead and you are the last man standing? There was no leadership in the South, just corruption. Like the Middle East, we are the invader and it really is their country and their destiny to decide, communist or not.

We are now getting into my territory as I went in the AF in 1968 and basically entered the pipeline to the war.  By then we knew it was a lost cause, but we still knew we had to go.  Insanity does not describe it. Burns and Novick will this week.

*There is one other lesson, but maybe I ought to save it till the end.  Oh well, here it is:  You can’t win other peoples war for them.  If they don’t have a good chance of winning it themselves you are throwing lives and treasury away.  And you said there were no parallels to Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ha!

Playing Into Their Hands and Other Topics

Well are you embarrassed enough?  The Village Idiot spoke at the United Nations and if you are doing a fist bump, I hope you go first to the coming war.  First, he told us the Iran agreement was the worst and “dumbest” thing we have done.  So the option was war?  By all accounts it is working and is the route we could only hope for with North Korea, but the VIC is indicating he does not keep agreements.  How is that effective?  What message does that sent to North Korea?

Speaking of North Korea, just about everyone gets it wrong.  Kim Jong-un is quite rational in his own way.  He will do whatever to stay in power, including taking his nation on a suicide mission.  Think of the lover who wants to own the focus of his attentions.  If he can’t have her, no one can. Oh, and many of his citizen believe they could survive a nuclear war.  So much for MAD.  Kim runs a ruthless, cruel, and illegitimate regime.  He needs the threat of an American attack to keep his generals and people from revolting.

There is a report of suggesting we should drop iPhones all over the country and deploy a WiFi network so the North Koreans could find out about the real world.  It is known that many North Koreans who defect do so after getting radios and phones from China, learning the truth, and then going through the treacherous route of China to Laos to Cambodia/Thailand.

Here is the problem with that.  Once Kim feels threatened, he will go to war.  He is simply defending himself in his mind.  That is the issue here.  There is no believable scenario saying he is not under threat of regime change, and giving up his arms would actually weaken him.  He looks at Libya, Iran, and other countries, along with the VIC’s penchant for lying and not keeping his word, and wants to snuggle up with his nukes.

So he is not going to negotiate and he is going to get nuclear weapons.  If he is ever really threatened, he will use them.  Now what do you do?  I have argued we have two paths, let him have them and rely on MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) to deter him (which I don’t think is operative), or take him out and live with millions of casualties and quite possibly bad to horrible relations with Japan, South Korea, and China.  What a choice.

Okay, let’s talk tribal politics.  There was an article in the Washington Post that looks at our politics in tribal terms, the red tribe and the blue tribe. So you don’t think and you just are loyal to your tribe.  That is how many explain the failure of facts to penetrate the red tribe. The author refers to an essay by Andrew Sullivan with this:

Sullivan believes that America’s founders would have been surprised by our cultural tribalism and skeptical that any republic could survive it. I’m inclined to think that Alexander Hamilton — who viewed men as essentially “ambitious, vindictive and rapacious” — would be unfazed. But few (or none) of the founders would have viewed political parties based on cultural identification as a positive thing.

I take issue with this formalization of our politics.  Not that there is not some truth here, who could forget Jim Jones and his followers who found it relieving not to think and just follow their leader. But I think the Enlightenment was about more than the freedom to believe anything you want to (Fantasyland).  It was about taking faith-based thinking out of the equation and allowing reason and logic to prevail.  And it clear which tribe does that more routinely (the blue one).  I think it is a mistake to characterize it this way and continue to hammer away and try to restore what most of our Founders believed, debate and rational though leads to the best solutions, not a tribal war.

One last thing this morning.  As you hopefully are aware, the Republican are making another assault on Obamacare and it is reported that the three Republicans who held out before are wavering. One thing I learned in local politics was that a bad idea just keeps coming back until everyone gets tired and it somehow gets through (city council and development).  Maybe this time they will create their own worst nightmare by repealing it with no workable solution to replace it.

Meanwhile in the NYT there was a op-ed about the failure of single payer.  It is definitely worth the read, especially the comments.  Make no mistake, this is a hack job. Sure there are problems with single payer, but note they do not raise any of the problems with our existing system or offer any real viable alternatives. The whole article reminds me of that famous saying, I believe by Winston Churchill, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms…“.  The same could be said for single payer. I will leave you with what one reader (Pat) thought about this piece:

A favorite right-wing tactic: let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Don’t act because we don’t have an absolutely perfect replacement yet. Good thing we didn’t apply this kind of reasoning to virtually every advance in science, policy, technology etc. or else we’d still be living in caves.

Another: subtle misdirections such as saying that “[w]hile many other countries have universal health systems and feature more government control over individual health care decisions….” But in our system we have for-profit insurance companies exercising more control over individual health care decisions in ways calculated to increase their profit. Which would you prefer?

We don’t need more delays and reasons not to act. The rest of the modern world has figured this out already and it’s time for us to join them. Let’s start with Medicare for all and work from there to implement a civilized, modern system that covers all Americans.

 

Taking a Step Back and Reflecting

This is a long one, but lays out I think, all the connecting of dots for our way forward.  In Florida the mob is out with the pitchforks and torches over the death of elderly residents at a care facility in Hollywood Florida. There was an immediate call for criminal proceedings. Why? Certainly it was a tragedy as these folks basically died of complications from heat stroke. But other than that we don’t know what happened. Wouldn’t we want a thorough investigation before you erect your gallows? I am not here to argue who did what or did not do what, I am just using this example to show how we tend to want to blame first, and find out facts later, maybe leaving many innocent victims in our wake.

It is with this in mind that I watch Hillary being interviewed and pushing her new book. I have been clear that I just want her to go away, in a sense blaming her for Donald Trump. But as a great article in the Atlantic by James Fallows makes the case, she does have something to teach us. You don’t have to agree with her to learn something here and on many things she is direct and right. As James put it:

If you’ve read this book, with Clinton’s repeated reminders that blame for this historic disaster begins with her, you’re more likely to start yelling at the TV—or the newspaper or the website—when you see pundits, mainly male, saying that it’s time for Hillary Clinton to “step back” or “stop whining” or “get off the stage” or “stop making excuses.” She’s telling an interesting and important tale—and one with uncomfortable implications for the press among other institutions.

So as one of my friends reminds me, she still commands the respect of millions and maybe we ought to allow her her podium. I listened to the Rachel Maddow  interview on MSNBC and on many policy issues she has great insights, and unlike the idiot we have in office, actually knows their history and the players. There is no argument here that she would have been much for better the country than the train wreck we are on right now.

Her point about the press fixating on SQUIRREL! (emails) and Trump’s understanding of this to get 24/7 coverage of his lies is critical to her loss and has not been fully reconciled by the press as they continue their nonstop coverage of the Village Idiot in Charge when he or his surrogates say nonsense. The White House Press briefing has become an arrogant fuck you America and we still get it live every day, giving them a megaphone to spout lies.

But in that interview with Rachel and in her book (which I have not read yet, but will, so I am judging here from excerpts), I can find no real reckoning with the massive loss of Democrats in state and federal government positions over the Obama years. Rachel did not ask the hard one here about why Democrats could not get the vote out. And that I think is my critical criticism of Hillary and Democrats in general and why I have argued in the past that I wish she would just go away. They have not come to grips with this except as a bunch of tactical errors, not why they do not excite the electorate.

I withdraw my just go away critique and I think we can learn from her, as long as she is never a candidate again. Her advice on policy and knowledge of the players may be invaluable, but on the big issue of strategic vision, she is sorely lacking. Right or wrong there is just too much baggage and a lack of trust. It can’t be won back.  There is too much history and a history of calculating on isses and following the herd (gay marriage for one).

So why did Democrats basically get relegated into also rans? Now before I answer this question, I want to bring up one other question that has driven me nuts: Why do most Americans reside in Fantasyland? Why is it that facts became relative? They aren’t you know. If the last election were run on issues and facts, Hillary would have won in a landslide. Democrats in general would fare much better in the polls. Facts, data, and science are mostly on their side. Donald and the Republicans have repeated lies and misrepresented the facts and Donald’s White Mob (his base) is as Hillary said, deplorable. Yet he got elected and so did the Republicans. How is that?

Well there is a great book that goes a long way to explaining it called, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500 Year History, by Kurt Anderson. Basically he gives us this great condensation:

The short answer is because we’re Americans, because being American means we can believe any damn thing we want, that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone else’s, experts be damned.

He tells of Stephen Colbert riffing as the conservative character he created on his invented word, truthiness, and summing up that philosophy is this monologue:

Now I’m sure some of the “word police,” the “wordinistas” over at Webster’s, are gonna say, “Hey, that’s not a word!” Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart…. Face it, folks, we are a divided nation… divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart…. Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.

He tells us of all the mystical fanciful things we like to believe (religion, witches, Obama is a Muslim, Angels, Devils, Heaven, black helicopters, etc.) and makes this assertion about us:

By my reckoning, the more or less solidly reality-based are a minority, maybe a third of us but almost certainly fewer than half. Only a third of us, for instance, believe with some certainty that CO2 emissions from cars and factories are the main cause of Earth’s warming.

I called this faith-based thinking and I have argued in a similar vein that our religious training and beliefs gives rise to this duality of thinking, rational and faith-based, that starts crossing lines and gives us what we want to believe instead of what is.

I am in that third, solidly reality-based group.  Certainly I have my prejudices and things I want to believe, but in the end, facts, science, and data inform me.  If tax cuts for the wealthy really worked I would jump on it.  If unregulated markets are really the best solution for all things, I would be all for them.  If for profit healthcare really did give us the best system, I would fight for it. If global warming really was a hoax, I would be against legislation to recognize it.

If transsexuals really were a problem in the military, I would be for banning them.  If the Muslim ban were anything but counterproductive, I would be all for it. I could go on and on. If the poor are poor because they are lazy, well it is just deserts. But we have tons of data, facts, and science that tell us otherwise and I have written extensively about all of them in this blog with links to reliable sources, facts, and data.  None of it matters to what people want to believe.

So why is this import to the question of why the Democrats have fallen out of power?  Were the Republicans just better liars?  Let me introduce another idea, that of optimal and suboptimal solutions.  I think Thomas Friedman came up with this concept a few years ago:

But while our culture of imagination is still vibrant, the other critical factor that still differentiates countries today — and is not a commodity — is good governance, which can harness creativity. And that we may be losing. I am talking about the ability of a society’s leaders to think long-term, address their problems with the optimal legislation and attract capable people into government. What I increasingly fear today is that America is only able to produce “suboptimal” responses to its biggest problems — education, debt, financial regulation, health care, energy and environment.

The concept is fairly simple.  Take healthcare.  What we know from the rest of the world is that universal healthcare (everyone has it, not necessarily single payer) is the model that drives down costs and delivers better care.  It has been implemented in many forms from doctors and hospitals that are government owned, to single payer like Medicare.  There are even forms of it as private insurance (Switzerland) although highly regulated (no profit taking for basic well-defined benefits policies).  So what did we do here?  We went for a suboptimal Obamacare because we could get it. Now it is under continuous attack. There is a lesson here.

Back in what I like to call the semi-rational days when Republicans had not gone totally off the rails, Democrats and Republicans would compromise on suboptimal solutions, which is the very essence of compromise.  If you watch what happened and you are honest, the country went right with Bill Clinton, more like a moderate Republican than a Democrat, and conservative economic ideas took over the nation.  De-regulation and Wall Street ruled. As Democrats tried to accommodate the country’s drift right with more economically conservative positions, the real threat to our Democracy grew, economic inequality***.

During the Bush years we had disastrous tax cuts with no jobs and giant deficits, and finally through deregulation helped by Bill Clinton, the market crashed and burned.  Guess what?  Self interest did not drive wise decisions. Then when Obama came along and improved the markets, there was no flow down to Main Street, thus the birth of the Tea Party.  They were tired of suboptimal solutions that did not work for them.  The trouble with their optimal solutions, balanced budgets, slashing government spending, gutting government regulation, and blaming everything on immigrants is that it was based on what they wanted to believe, not reality, and we are back to Fantasyland.

Eight years of Obama and nothing really changed for those middle class working stiffs.  They saw the rich guys get richer and they languished, and worse, their children’s prospects languished. What arose from all this was the election in 2016 where the mood in the country was anything but the establishment that had proven ineffective to dealing with our problems.  Both sides were seen (accurately) as part of the problem. Democrats did, and you still hear it today, want to be hands across the aisle.  Working together is the goal instead of optimal solutions based upon data, facts, and science. It polled well although the reality was people never vote that way. It is a recipe for failure. You can (and I have) blamed the failure on Republican control of the media, gerrymandering, the filibuster, but in the end, Democrats failed to present a strategic vision of their way forward.

Other than on social issues, Democrats failed to really stand for anything and their economic policy (and Hillary’s) was Republican Lite. So you had a choice between Republican Lite, socially progressive, and real Republicans who stood for a grand strategy, although one built of a Fantasy world.  Voters picked the guys who stood for something, albeit all the wrong somethings.

Standing for something means standing for optimal solutions, based upon facts, science, and data.  Things that work, not fit neatly into an ideology about what should work, or politically easy.  But in that standing for those optimal solutions, there has to be a grand strategy, a strategy of how what we are proposing fits into a whole that will make all our lives better.  Hillary, at least I have yet to hear it, has not ever done this in a believable way.  For the young voter’s perspective, while she has some good policies and certainly would be better than Trump, is still part of promoting the economic establishment that is at the heart of all our problems, racial***, social, and economic.

The grand failure of the Democratic Party is that they lost what they stood for and it became working within the existing system assuming that the existing system was not fundamentally flawed. Being against what Republicans were for, but not real there, there. In trying to accommodate right trending popular politics, they lost who they were.  The book Listen Liberal should be required reading for everyone.  It’s painful, but the truth is Democrats became like Republicans, really blaming the victim, using education as the tool to innovation and a better tomorrow.  We don’t like to believe it, but we became elitists too. This last election was a giant flashing sign that the electorate was pretty much done with establishment politics because it wasn’t working for them no matter who was in power.

The Democrats tried to reinvent themselves within the establishment with their “Better Deal”.  Then they introduced some policies to support that.  It fell flat.  Better Deal connotes that the existing system just needs some fixes and everything will be hunky dory.  Donald Trump and the Obama voters that voted for him are data that says that does not work or that no one believed it.  They know the system is against them and they are right.

Bernie got that, but the Democratic establishment did not want to hear that message, and we got Trump against Hillary and this should have been a cake walk.  I thought it would be.  But I have learned from this election, and Hillary and establishment Democrats do not appear to have. Their still arguing tactics and not understanding that their grand strategy was non-existent. We are the non-Trump party did not wash when people wanted to break things.  They wanted a new way forward.

Okay smart guy, what is the way forward?  What is the strategic vision? Well remember that old document, The Declaration of Independence.  Remember this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …

Well change it to this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and a level playing field. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …

That is the strategic vision.  Money begets power, which begets the loss of equality.  Powers seeks to consolidate its favored position, and all the rest is history.  Economic inequality throughout the world is growing and is the root of all the rest.  This does not mean that meritocracy should not rule, but within bounds and be fair meritocracy, not one based upon position and power (read money).  And what the Republicans who represent the 1% forgot was that last part, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men …”.  They defined it as securing their rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness at your expense when your life, liberty or happiness conflicts with theirs, and as wealth accumulates with the few, there are lots of conflicts.  In other words, economic inequality is the root of all inequality***.

Once this reality is recognized,  that  our system is structured to increase economic inequality under the false assumption that a high tide lifts all boats, then you recognize that the system has to be changed in fundamental ways and we have look at what works effectively, those optimal solutions that get thrown away as “not politically feasible” when in fact, they are our goals.  Bernie laid it out for us, but he is a socialist so don’t listen to him, was the response of Republicans and many Democrats.

He said the obvious, the system is not working for the average guy.  It has to be fundamentally changed so that more of us share in the wealth of our nation.  That says we have to rewrite the tax code, laws that regulate intellectual property, trade agreements, property and contract laws to name a few.  We need a fair minimum living wage.  We need major investments in our infrastructure.  We need to recognize science, and fight global warming.  We need universal healthcare and a Social Security system that insures everyone with a secure retirement*.  We need to fundamentally rethink debt and investments in our future.  But all of this cannot be just policies, but a vision or structure and a systematic approach to improving our lives and our children’s live’s for the future. It has to be couched in the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and a level playing field.  

The solutions to all of the above cannot be suboptimal solutions, but optimal ones.  Does not mean you will get there on day one, but that is the goal, that is what we stand for. And with that we become a party of well-defined principles again. We will still have a capitalist solution, but one regulated to prevent monopolies, abuses, and excessive profit taking.  It will take some of the proceeds and invest them in tomorrow.  Instead of looking for corporations and CEO’s to define tomorrow, we the people will, and rewrite the rules to benefit all of us, not the wealthy few.

That is radical change.  And we already know the solutions that work, except for those who reside firmly in Fantasyland.  But that will fail too and Fantasyland looks bleak when your beliefs don’t get you anywhere.  That may be why electing Trump was probably the only way forward to see the failures of Fantasyland. And if some of  those solutions we progressives so believe in don’t work, we can change because we are wedded to science, data, and facts, not ideology. That is the key.

So the grand vision of our next Democratic Party, if they are to survive, is simple:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and a level playing field  — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …**”  Hillary would buy into that in a minute, but not understand the fundamental changes in our economic system that has to take place because she is perceived as too wedded to the old power structures.  Then again maybe she would, but the time is past for Hillary and this is what the New Democrats have to bring to the table.

*One of the things that helps innovation and social mobility is a strong safety net.  Our European friends have shown us that with a strong safety net, people are more willing to take chances, create businesses, and innovate.  Too bad we can’t learn from them.

**Mustn’t forget that second part about “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  Market places and competition do not secure a level playing field.  In fact they do their best as they accumulate power to do the opposite.  Government secures that level playing field.  Yes that big bad government is our salvation if we want real freedom and equality.

*** Racism wants to reserve a special place for themselves with special solutions.  That may be somewhat true when considering systemic racism in our institutions (policing), but if you believe that money is power, then leveling the playing field should also give them power. Leveling the playing filed is really an approach to all, racism, economic, social, or class.

 

 

The Noise Today

Noise, because it is distracting, not informing.  Of course we are distracted by Hillary whining.  The press loves it and does not spend much time on substance.  Note that after the election Bernie has been working tirelessly to get Democrats around Progressive issues (see Medicare for All) while Hillary spends the time throwing mud.  Of course she has some valid points.  Comey was an ass, both in July 2016 which was totally unprofessional, and then again in October just prior to the election when what he did was simply against the rules.  Did she loose because of it.  Maybe, but again why was it even close.  Oh and don’t get distracted by the popular vote.  Winning sadly is by electoral college and that is the game you play.  Did the Russians affect the election.  Most probably.  Right now we are having interviews to sell her book and what the country needs is to move on.  Hillary lost and this was an election the Democrats should have walked away with.  Thomas Frank from the Guardian gave I think the best critique:

No real blame ever settles anywhere near Clinton’s person. And while she wrestles gamely with the larger historical question of why the party of the people has withered as inequality grows, she never offers a satisfying answer. Instead, most of the blame is directed outward, at familiar suspects like James Comey, the Russians and the media.

This I think is significant, the massive losses Democrats have had over time and the establishment’s failure to come to grips with their own complicity.

She seems to have been almost totally unprepared for the outburst of populist anger that characterized 2016, an outburst that came under half a dozen different guises: trade, outsourcing, immigration, opiates, deindustrialization, and the recent spectacle of Wall Street criminals getting bailed out. It wasn’t the issues that mattered so much as the outrage, and Donald Trump put himself in front of it. Clinton couldn’t.

…Besides, to take populism seriously might also mean that Bernie Sanders, who was “outraged about everything,” might have had a point, and much of What Happened is dedicated to blasting Sanders for challenging Clinton in the Democratic primaries. Given that he later endorsed her and even campaigned for her, this can only be described as churlish, if not downright dishonest.

That Clinton might have done well to temper her technocratic style with some populist outrage of her own only dawns on her towards the end of the book, by which point it is too late.

Not to mention impossible. Hillary Clinton simply cannot escape her satisfied white-collar worldview – compulsively listing people’s academic credentials, hobnobbing with officers from Facebook and Google, and telling readers how she went to Davos in 1998 to announce her philosophy.

And then, in her concluding chapter, returning to her beloved alma mater Wellesley College and informing graduates of that prestigious institution that, with their “capacity for critical thinking” (among other things) they were “precisely what we needed in America in 2017.”

I wish it were so. I wish that another crop of elite college grads were what we needed. I wish Hillary’s experts and her enlightened capitalist friends could step in and fix this shabby America we inhabit today, where racists march in the streets and the Midwest falls apart and cops shoot motorists for no reason and a blustering groper inhabits the White House.

I wish it were all a matter of having a checklist of think-tank approved policy solutions. But I know for sure it isn’t. And voters knew that, too.

My point here was emphasized yesterday in an interview with purple state Colorado Senator and Democrat Michael Bennet, where he tells us that people just want us to work together.  We can all agree on goals so let’s just focus on debating how we get there*.  It is like he too missed what happened in 2016 or for that matter the last 9 years where if you agreed with the Republicans goal and offered them policies they liked, they rejected them.  He is blind to the failure of the middle road and how it has allowed Republicans to take over almost all government while Democrats seem to stand for nothing.  You need to take a stand on what works and not works, not pie in the sky goals.

Democrats need to recognize the anger out there with the establishment that has solved nothing.  That was the lesson of the Bernie and Donald Campaign.  The Demos missed it and had already anointed Hillary and the rest is history.  She lost because she did not get out the vote on a candidate who was easily beatable.  That is the bottom line here and if Democrats fail to understand that, they will cease to exist.  Happily many are now working to develop progressive agendas that is not holding hands with Republicans who are ideological opposed to most of the viable solutions to our problems. At the very heart of this is the knowledge that our economic system does not work anymore for the majority of us and Democrats have been to wedded to the status quo defending that system.

Speaking of the economic system, the VIC (Village Idiot in Charge) is now all into bipartisanship.  Don’t be fooled.  Look at what is accomplished, not what he says.  The tax cut he claims will not be not be on rich people, for the middle class, and of course lower the corporate rate to 15%.  Remember when he claimed the Republicans repeal and replace protected everything?  He has no clue.  On the 15%, the big guys don’t actually pay that and will be against it.  I don’t mind lowering the corporate rate as long as we close all the loop holes and make sure they pay their fair share for all the things like infrastructure we now have to do.  See where we might raise the capital gains tax so they pay what the rest of us pay?  Don’t get distracted by smoke and mirrors.  There is no free ride and fixing the tax code while providing funding for the things we need is going to take sacrifice, not free rides.  So it goes with another day where the media loves to report what is said and political infighting but misses the real issues that affect all of us.

*If you don’t believe in global warming, how do you plan for rising sea levels? If you believe tax cuts create jobs and stimulate the economy (supply side economics) how do you craft efficacious solutions?  If you believe government is bad, how do you grapple with national problems.  It is of course not as simple as Bennet confusedly states.

Just Some General Thoughts/Not Making Sense

Sometimes because I spent some of my life focused on the meaning of words (interpreting and enforcing construction contracts), I like to focus on how we have become a nation that ignores their meaning or the logic of their thoughts. The first one that pops into my head is when the White House held a press conference after the Village Idiot announced rescinding DACA. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the following:

It’s a known fact that there are over 4 million unemployed Americans in the same age group as those that are DACA recipients; that over 950,000 of those are African Americans in the same age group; over 870,000 unemployed Hispanics in the same age group. Those are large groups of people that are unemployed that could possibly have those jobs.”

Really? How does that follow and if they could have them, why don’t they already have those jobs? How does it follow that DACA people took them away? You know when a Republican starts out with, “It’s a known fact…”, that you are listening to ideological dogma. The WaPo noted the same thing:

Here’s the problem: immigrant and native-born workers are imperfect substitutes. There is no evidence that the unemployed Americans, be they black, white or Hispanic, have the skills necessary to hold the same jobs occupied by the young beneficiaries of the five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

But what this gives you is a perfect example of how if you want to believe something (to justify blaming immigrants for all things), how you can make false analogies or use anecdotal examples to fool yourself. And note how Sarah Huckabee Sanders says it with such arrogant conviction, “It is a known fact…”. No actually it isn’t and if you examine most of the things Republicans believe as bedrock fact, you find out the bedrock is made out of sand. That is why much of what they want to do to “Make America great again” is bullshit.

Here is something that puzzles me. Republicans call themselves conservatives, and in that definition is economically conservative. I would bet that most people are not dogmatic conservatives, but see themselves as socially progressive and economically conservative. So one has to ask, what does that mean? Well if it is a balanced federal budget, you don’t get Econ 101 and macroeconomics. If you want to explore that argument go to The Economy. I will just say here it is the false analogy of comparing government spending to a home budget. But really, Republicans claim they are about being fiscally conservative and yet we know that the things they want are counter productive to that.

Start with Obamacare. It did bend the curve on healthcare spending and besides the claims that it is collapsing, it is not. They may be doing their best to sabotage it, but it is working if they would let it. Republicans want to go back to no regulations and in that no program to limit costs like incentivizing outcomes instead of treatment. But here is what you really have to ask yourself if you are really fiscally conservative, universal care in other industrial countries cost half as much as our system does with better outcomes. Republicans want a system that is fiscally stupid. Note that my link above is from a conservative website.

Okay, let’s look at immigration. Study after study shows that immigration is part of the life blood of our economy. The very Mexicans the Village Idiot in Charge (VIC) had demonized are in fact critical to our economy, even those undocumented ones. So instead of a reasoned immigration policy we get a Wall and rescinding of DACA and if you are fiscally conservative and want to do what is best for our economy why in the hell would you follow this policy, unless of course you are using fear and false scapegoats to capture the weak-minded? The Wall is a gross waste of money, environmentally damaging, and will never work. Again you economically conservative people, why, oh why, do you elect people who support this nonsense.

How about those tax cuts? All you economically conservatives think we should pay our bills, so how about we pay for them instead of giving money away to the wealthy? Oh, wait, those are the job creators, except they aren’t and no they don’t pay for themselves by stimulating the economy. If we really did tax reform, the wealthy would pay more, but so would some of us in the lower percentiles since some of those favored deductions like a second home or even the interest paid on your first home if it were large might go away. But it would be a smart thing to do and help our economy. You think Republicans are going to do any of that? Ha!

Then we have global warming and infrastructure improvements. Yes the Republicans mouth infrastructure improvements, but show me the money. With the Harvey damage and soon to be Irma damage it is readily apparent that we should be investing in infrastructure hardening and planning for the impacts of global warming. If will save us tons of money in the future and create tons of jobs. But who is denying global warming and thinks privatizing infrastructure improvements is a good idea? Republicans. So how is this economically conservative.

Oh, I know, we are not going to elect any of those tax and spend, big government Democrats. Really?  Both the economy and our deficit has always done better under Democrats. First we need to spend on some stuff and there is no free ride. You actually have to collect taxes if you want to fix our roads and bridges, not to mention hardening our infrastructure for climate change and more intense storms and tornadoes. Oh, and who is going to do that?

The Republicans/conservatives believe the market place is going to fix healthcare, secure social security, invest to make higher education affordable to all, build our roads and bridges (yes if they are all toll roads), or plan for global warming (if they believed in it). If the markets could they would have. Oh sure, the Republicans shout at the top of their lungs that the market place will solve it, don’t worry, but it is the free ride promises of the huckster. It is our government that builds the basis for all of us to prosper and grow. Meanwhile you keep voting for Republicans who throw money away to the wealthy, nothing gets done, and you call yourself conservatives. Ha! How much longer can you delude yourself? Fiscally conservative you are not.

Note that I linked almost everything.  Go read for yourself.  What I find is that if you want to believe nonsense that the Republicans or those who call themselves conservative are pushing, the first thing you need to do is be intellectually lazy.  The facts, yes, the real facts are out there and all you have to do is educate yourself and think critically.  There is no easy way forward and it has to be paid for.  But the solutions are all out there.  It amazes me to listen to the ignorance and stupidity of the Republicans and see how many people buy it because mostly they are intellectually lazy and looking for a free ride, blame someone else.  So sad that is what our country put in power.

A Predictable Disaster

No, not Harvey, Donald. Watching this man over the last 200 some odd days he has been President should tell you that he is a despicable human being. And I mean that with no partisan bias. His actions with Obamacare (now gutting money for promoting signups), his firing of honorable people (Comey, Yates), his Boy Scout speech, his continuing lies, Charolettsville, his treatment of transsexuals, the border wall politics, his me trip to Texas after Harvey and then turning to tax cuts for the wealthy with no plan to pay for Harvey, and now DACA, is just despicable. There is no other way to describe it.

 

He is a detestable man and there is just no way to paint it any other way. As a representative of America, do you remember that book/movie back in the 60s called the Ugly American? That about captures it. The most amazing fact is that he presented all these character traits prior to the election, and many of the people who voted for him are disappointed. Or braindead. Granted the Democrats ran the worst possible choice for defeating him, as Hillary haters are alive and well in the general public and this just got them frothing at the mouth, and ignoring how bad their other choice was.

 

But the media still tries to somehow legitimize him. Maybe his stance on DACA was just a smart ploy to force Republicans to do something? Ha! They are doing something because like Obamacare, they realize they will get creamed if they actually came through on many of their threats. No, Donald Trump is never going to change and now it appears the noose is tightening on his taxes and Moscow connections. And that my friends explains everything.

 

Yesterday, a pundit was discussing his attack on innocent kids covered under DACA and noted that 64% of Americans favor DACA and only 32% are against. She could not figure out his politics here since it was a no-brainer to support it. Does the 32% ring a bell? That is about the size of the base that loves all the things I listed above that most of us find abhorrent. His politics are as clear and rational as can be. That 32% is what will keep him from being impeached because Republicans in Congress and the Senate live and die on how they vote in their home states.

 

So the disasters will continue and they are very very predictable. All the Village Idiot cares about is the Village Idiot. He does not even have any there, there, in terms of policy positions. It was quite clear he had no idea what was in the Obamacare “replacement” and I doubt seriously if there is anything in his tax cut proposal with any real meat other than more tax cuts for the wealthy. He stands for whatever his 32% rabble demand, and he does whatever will sooth his ego and ensure his safety from Congress that refuses to have the moral courage to remove him.

 

And that totally explains the man. There is no cunning or cleverness. Just lies that the rabble in the 32% want to believe. And people who voted for them who wanted change, action, a businessman in charge, were fools to the nth degree. No I don’t care about their woes as an explanation for their vote. That is bullshit. My argument is being made every day by the Village Idiot as he just makes things worse and worse. And make no mistake, what drives him is survival and that should make us all very afraid. The shit will hit the fan and we will have a Constitutional Crisis. There is no if, but when. Then we will see who has political courage and who does not.

 

Notes: On the DACA repeal and the treatment of undocumented workers by both Trump and the Governor of Texas, the chickens are about to come home to roost. South Texas will require major cleanup and rebuilding and that workforce will be in hiding, afraid of the Gestapo (ICE). Maybe this will force Republicans to get serious about immigration reform and realize that a healthy input of immigrants is what drives our economy.

 

On the Wall DHS just released their contracts to build prototype walls down near San Diego. I was interested in what firms were finally selected because many of the big boys decided this was a political nightmare that could affect their access to markets and labor for years to come. It will be interesting to see if the sites become a magnet for protests and resistance.

More on Unregulated Anything

Since I live in a community that the majority “hates big government”, Houston has come along as the lurking monster that allows me to make my point. When everything is hunky-dory, well those regulations just get in the way, that is until you are affected by your neighbors unregulated activities that you thought were his right as a land owner until they started to impinge upon your rights as a land owner. Here is from Houston:

Flooded sewers are stoking fears of cholera, typhoid and other infectious diseases. Runoff from the city’s sprawling petroleum and chemicals complex contains any number of hazardous compounds. Lead, arsenic and other toxic and carcinogenic elements may be leaching from some two dozen Superfund sites in the Houston area.

But we don’t need no stink’in EPA, land use controls, or safety regulations. They just get in the way of business. Take it to the banking sector and it has been discovered that Wells Fargo issued millions of credit cards to customers who did not ask for or want them to meet sales quotas. A friend of mine (conservative) was decrying the expense he incurred to upgrade his fruit packing facilities to meet Whole Food requirements for food safety as prescribed by the Feds. I pointed out that if one person gets sick from a product they lawsuits could wipe them out and they were just protecting their interests.

All those regulations came from somewhere.  Back about 15 years ago I remember major damage in Florida from Hurricane Andrew winds and rains and it was because all those regulations for connections and steel straps when attaching the roof structure to the main house frame was just raising the cost of housing so they got rid of them (did not enforce them). The result was catastrophic damage to roofs when there shouldn’t have been any. I did house engineering here in California after I retired for houses that did not meet the prescriptive requirements of the building code (mostly for lateral forces from earthquakes). One builder complained that I was adding thousands of dollars to the cost of a home, and I pointed out that that is what the earthquake load required. The point is that nobody cares and we get lulled into a false sense of security until shit happens (in this case the design storm/earthquake), and then people demand regulations.  Up to then, it is just stupid costly regulations.

Take that plant in east Texas that is blowing up. It is owned by a French firm. Who would have thought that the French would come to America to get away from regulations, but Texas offers just that. Remember the fertilizer plant that blew up in West, Texas? No state regulation, and the Feds stretched too thin. And that is what the Republicans are about, making sure the Feds are stretched too thin. I guess that is what makes me laugh at Libertarians. They live in la la land. They want small or no government and are oblivious to all the safe things they enjoy that is available and safe because of government. When you hear them saying they will home school their own kids and don’t need no stink’in government interference, the rest of us pay for all the things that make them able to live out that fantasy, like clean air and water, transportation networks, schooling for all those they don’t want to think about, sanitary and safe food, fire and rescue, police.

The problems we face, global warming, pollution, clean air and water, foreign threats, reliable and safe food, infrastructure improvements, affordable healthcare, reliable retirement, affordable education, yes even good jobs, are not solved through the market place and de-regulation. They are solved through collective government action. And we haven’t been doing that as the Republicans, with enabling from the Democrats, have vilified government and made selfishness into a valued character trait (wealth accumulation). Time to rethink that.

Sure there are dumb regulations, rules, and red tape that may apply in some cases, and are counterproductive in others. Sure we created bureaucracies to enforce those rules and because of the fear of abuses, did not give them any power to make smart decisions when they did not apply. None of this is new. And quite frankly what may seem dumb to you may in fact be the only way to protect the greater good. But what we need is to review them all, not to get rid of them (some sure), but to make them smarter and effective.

What applies to big businesses maybe be onerous to small businesses. My point here is that there are no absolutes. Big government is not necessarily bad or good, nor are regulations. We need a more rational approach that does not just take into account those that benefit by the regulations*, but all stake holders. It is a giant balancing act. At the state level we could appoint commissions tailored to the stakeholders to review and adjust. But just vilifying government and regulations gets us nowhere.

Texas and Harvey have given us an opportunity to see what little regulation and uncontrolled growth, not to mention ignoring the effects of global warming can bring. The citizens of Texas are showing us what community means as they help each other as the extent of the crisis exceeds government resources. But the real test is yet to come with a massive cleanup, toxic environments, and homes and businesses that maybe should not be rebuilt in those locations. One has to ask yourself why we should invest in a rebuilding campaign if next year another 1000 year storm becomes the normal and they get wiped out again. Maybe this time we should do a little planning and regulating.

One thing Texas is showing us is that people will pull together for a common cause. Right now our government is in shambles because we have a Party and a leader who has tried to pull us apart for their own selfish ends. If the Democrats could find a leader who could finally show we are all in this together, we might just take over the nation and all pitch in for each other.

*Actually we have a very regulated market place, it is just that those rules and our tax code favor wealth accumulation and the wealthy. So it is not regulating the market place that is the issue, but who do those regulations benefit that is the question.