Archive for the ‘The Press’ Category.

Normalcy and Compromise

That's what this morning's news is about.  First we go on and on about General Kelly taking over the Chief of Staff position and establishing order and normalcy.  Ha!  Maybe the illusion of normalcy.  Their first action was to get rid of Anthony Scaramucci.  Not that anything changed, just the crude spokesman for telling it as it is, is gone.  But does that change any of the dynamics?  Time will tell, but the pundits are hoping Kelly will put a discipline in policy making.  I don't think you can put anymore lipstick on this pig which is really bad policies and chaos.

That has been really the pundits, mostly hopeful Republicans, who have tried to say things will settle down, Trump will learn, and normal policy will return.  Again, Ha!  Have we learned nothing in the last 6 months?  He is who he is and we will see how Trump destroys Kelly's reputation.  Even the most smooth and coordinated administration, with the policies of Donald Trump, will and does look like chaos.  It is chaos and bad policy based on an alternate reality.

The other talking point today is "compromise".  Maybe now the two sides will sit down and try to fix Obamacare.  We have this foolish idea that in this day and age that compromise is the best of all possible outcomes.  But what if you are compromising with policy based upon alternate facts that set up failure?  What if one side is so tied to ideology, that thinking outside the box is impossible?  Compromise is highly overrated.

Saturday, I tried to give you a blog that looks at proposed solutions to healthcare provided by Republicans and why they make no sense.  If you want to scream, "that's your opinion you liberal pig!" actually no when you get CBO (Congressional Budget Office) scores that tell you it doesn't work.  Republicans then decry the report as false from their own guy because they did not like the answer. And that is critical here.  We need to quit the ideological bullshit and just evaluate an approach and any possible compromise by whether or not it will actually be effective and efficacious.

Somehow we have gotten to think that both sides are as ideologically wedded to a certain solution and that is simply not true.  Republicans are because the market place must solve all problems and big government is bad.  If the market place would have solved all problems, we would not have needed Obamacare.  Obamacare was the Democrats trying to accommodate market place solutions and we have seen where that fell short. Paul Krugman today (Who Ate the Republicans Brains?) tried to explain how Republicans have created an alternate reality to uphold their ideology and they are now locked in a world of  dishonesty:

And that kind of behavior doesn’t come out of nowhere. The Republican health care debacle was the culmination of a process of intellectual and moral deterioration that began four decades ago, at the very dawn of modern movement conservatism — that is, during the very era anti-Trump conservatives now point to as the golden age of conservative thought.

A key moment came in the 1970s, when Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, embraced supply-side economics — the claim, refuted by all available evidence and experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Writing years later, he actually boasted about valuing political expediency over intellectual integrity: “I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities.” In another essay, he cheerfully conceded to having had a “cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit,” because it was all about creating a Republican majority — so “political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.”

The problem is that once you accept the principle that it’s O.K. to lie if it helps you win elections, it gets ever harder to limit the extent of the lying — or even to remember what it’s like to seek the truth.

Does that mean healthcare should be single payer only.  Of course not.  Medicare is not single payer only.  It is supplemented by market policies that fill the gaps.  But it does need to be universal care which is what the rest of the world's experience tells us.  The bottom line here is that we need to get to a place where not compromising is okay if the compromise is not the end in itself and will not solve the problem.

We just looked at three plans submitted by the Republicans and we all saw where they would lead, to a failure of healthcare.  So sure, go talk, see if we can get a consensus.  But don't stupidly kick the can down the road to hold hands and say we compromised when the solution is destined for failure.  We have data and metrics.  We know what will and won't work, and we have a Congressional Budget Office that will give us a real score.  Let's use it. Sure some solutions will give us unintended consequences so we need to then fix them.  Ideology is what has prevented us from fixing Obamacare. They hate it on made up facts and ideology so they can't stand to fix it.

One last thing, I and many progressive would like  Medicare for all, but we are open to anything that stands the test of reality.  Republicans, whether it is flow down works (tax cuts pay for themselves), big government is always bad (so how come Medicare works and Social Security saves many people?), or the market place left unfettered by government provides the best solutions (see the Financial Crisis 2007-2008), have had it wrong with a capital WRONG.  They are very good at identifying problems, but then their ideology gets in the way of evaluating solutions.  It is time to end that and not be afraid to not compromise with bad ideas.  Just evaluate the ideas with an open mind in the reality we live in, not the alternate one the Republicans have created.

Liar in Chief and Fake News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sanders said she “completely” disagreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opps

Yeah, I know I have used Alfred E. Neuman before, but is there any better example for our Village Idiot in Chief? According to the WaPo through leaks from our security agencies they are appalled at President Cheeto-heads actions, the moron released critical classified information:

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said that Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.
The information Trump relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said that Trump’s decision to do so risks cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and National Security Agency.

When the White House denied it, nobody believed them.  It is almost funny that we know it is the lying show. The leakers are far more credible than the White House.  Secretary of State Rex Tellerson came out and made an identical denial as the White House was pitching, and when the State Department was asked about it, they had no idea what he had said.  They were totally out of the loop.  Clearly it occurred and the hypocristy of going after Hillary’s email system when no damage has ever been identified, the classified material was not classified by some agencies, and this leak that will probably cost lives is just enormous.  I wonder if the Russians left any listening devices behind after their visit?  At least they got all the pictures.  The American Press was barred.

But I think the most poignant moment in this latest Cheeto-head fuck up came when Allen Dershowitz, famous attorney, was on CNN and got quite animated about warning fellow panelists not to conflate this with the collusion investigation.  “They are entirely two different things!”  No, Allen, they are not.  Now legally he is right, but they come from the same motivation and misunderstanding that caused them both.  

On the collusion thing, the reality I believe we will soon find out about is the flow of money to finance Trump adventures (investments), much of it laundered or being laundered through his deals.  So in Trump’s little mind the Russian boys and girls are really just good fellow business men and woman and of course there was collusion to send them a signal that the sanctions were just a hinderance to business.  I don’t know this, but I think it is the most likely scenario here with all the denials and head fakes.  Cheeto-head does not get the adversary thing at all.  And if I am right, they have their hooks in him and he has no idea.

So Cheeto-head does not see the Russians as an adversary, but a way to make lots of money. It’s jus business.  He has no idea he is so far out of his league that they are using him to undermining our democratic system.  Thus the leak was just an exchange among the boys and he is clueless about the damage done, as he is clueless about just about everything.  He is their perfect captured idiot in spy talk.  But, hey, it is just business, right?  And with a businessman in charge, everything should be hunky dory, right?  You people who voted for him are morons. As I have pointed out before, none of this is a suprise.

I know what we are going to hear next.  “Who leaked this?  We have to get those leakers! Leakers, leakers, leakers.” Or said another way, deflect, deflect, deflect. Except he is the biggest leaker of all.  And the leakers leaked in order to wake up the nation to the danger he poses and the damage he has done.  And it is only the beginning.  He alienated all the intelligence agencies and the FBI.  Now his bumbling is putting the nation at risk.  They are good Americans and will not stand idly by while he destroys their hard work and undermines our intelligence sources.  It is going to be a fun and dangerous ride.  I hope he did not kill anyone with his leak, but he may well have.  

Trump Fires Comey Over Handling of Hillary’s eMails, Really?

Comey certainly showed extremely poor judgement in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and I agree with the findings of Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein that Comey’s press conference in July to excoriate her and explain why no charges would be filed and notifying Congress of the reopening of the investigation barely a week before the election was wrong.  But it makes no sense.

Rosenstein has been on the job two weeks and he writes a memo dated 9 May (yesterday) that is immediately acted upon by the President?  There is an ongoing investigation of Comey for those actions in the Justice Department and no initial findings were cited nor was the inquiry even consulted?  The memo itself is an opinion piece and not a typical Justice Department legal finding. I would hazard a guess he did not write it.

Now let’s look at the White House.  While Cheeto-Head was upset that they did not lock her up, he must have enjoyed (and quoted) her public shaming by Comey, and later praised him profusely for his “bravery” in reopening the investigation in late October, maybe impacting the election.  After he became President, he again praised Comey and expressed his confidence in him.  Now he gets a memo and acts on in within minutes after waiting 18 days in the General Flynn affair?  It does not make sense.

And just as an aside, note that what Cheeto-Head did not like about the whole affair is the fact that they brought no charges.  While even Republicans noted that there was no intent in the Clinton affair and therefore no legal basis for prosecution, Cheeto-Head could not accept this.  The rule of law be damned.  King Cheeto-Head did not get his way.  This should have disqualified him for the presidency, but the morons in Red America were blind to the threat and his ignorance.

Finally, Comey is out in California talking to field agents and sees on TV that he is fired.  What does that say about an Administration that praised a man for his actions and then does not have the decency to look him in the eye and allow him to step down?  What does it say that the personal body-guard of Cheeto-Head delivered the letter to the FBI, after they announced it?

In Cheeto-Head’s letter to Comey, the elephant in the room that explains everything is strangely right there:

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I was not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.

WTF?  See, this has nothing to do with Russia, See?  See?  Or not so WTF.  Here is the reason for the whole thing:  The Russian investigation.  See yesterday’s blog for why this almost a raging fire.  The President won’t release his tax returns that could clear him of financial ties to the Russians, so why not?  Continued attacks on the intelligence community to try to delegitimize anything they turn up.  His continued attack on the Russia investigation as fake news.  The firing of all the Attorney Generals at one time to disrupt on-going investigations including into his dealings in New York.  The firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates two days after she exposes Michael Flynn’s duplicity, and now the firing of the Director of the FBI, heading up the investigation of the Russian involvement, shortly after he announced that there was an investigation into the ties of the Cheeto-Head administration/campaign and the Russians.  This is pure and simple about the Russian investigation and it is a power play by Cheeto-Head.

We have a clear Constitutional Crisis.  The investigation is getting too hot and the President has done a Dick Nixon.  Here is a test for Republicans.  We will see who defends this action and who calls for an independent counsel.  This is no longer murky.  The Cheeto-Head administration just pointed a shiny light on their corruption.  The stupidity and incompetence of this move should tell anyone with operating brain cells that democracy is at stake.  And if as Cheeto-Head claims, there is nothing there, what’s the problem?  Because there is a lot there.  The Republicans have given Cheeto-Head a free pass to violate all sorts of ethical standards around the presidency.  Now will they give him a free pass as he destroys our institutions?

One last thing.  I expect big things to happen in the next few days.  If a special prosecutor is not appointed expect to see massive leaks on what is really going on.  The career Justice Department, Intelligence, and FBI personnel will not stand by and let democracy and our institutions be wrecked by political ditto-heads.  Maybe Republicans will in their lust for power, but not those who have given their lives to serving our country.  As Sally Yates said in her hearing when she was asked by Senator Cruz who she worked for, I work for the people of the United States and the Constitution.

The White House Correspondents’ Dinners, The Real One and the Not One

While Cheeto-Head was up in Pennsylvania doing his best interpretation of Hitler to a crowd of sycophants and idiots, the media was gathering in two places to have a little fun.  First some thoughts on the Pennsylvania rally.  What president in his first 100 days is out giving a campaign speech full of lies to his base? Adolph Hitler. See, he his the same guy you elected, full of hate and lies, working diligently to tear down democracy by going after the free press.  I watched some of the rally and was filled with hate and divisiveness.  I was filled with a sense of revulsion for my fellow Americans in Pennsylvania.  Somehow in my little mind, I did not think that was what a president was supposed to do.  Yes we have entered a different era.  Of course he did his best to undermine the free press and (getting ahead of myself) as Samantha Bee pointed out about the Press:

“You basically get paid to stand in a cage while a geriatric orangutan and his pet mob scream at you. It’s like a reverse zoo, but you carry on.”

Meanwhile there were two White House Correspondents Dinners, the official one and Samantha Bee’s Not the WH Correspondence Dinner and I watched both (oh the miracle of DVR).  I am not sure who got roasted more, Cheeto-Head or the media itself, which is fair because their endless coverage of him in the campaign without fact checking him and using competing pundits got him elected.  Policy and facts did not matter anymore, just outlandishness.  What was nice about the Pennsylvania rally was that it reminded you this presidency is not normal and what a true pig he really is.  But I get distracted.  Here is Hasan’s full speech:


Hasan Minhaj did a splendid job at the real dinner as he spent most of his time on the press itself.  He started by saying the obvious:

“This event is about celebrating the First Amendment and free speech. Free speech is the foundation of an open and liberal democracy from college campuses to the White House. Only in America can a first generation Indian American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the President.”

Then he got real:

“I would say it is an honor to do this, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one one wanted to do this so of course it falls in the hands of an immigrant. That’s how it always goes down.”

My favorite was when he made fun of the endless viewer polling CNN (and MSNBC) do.  “If you think attacking Korea is a good idea, text 1.”  As he asked are they trying to get us to give them the news?  Both he and Samantha Bee decried the nonsense of shouting pundits that has taken the place of real news and informed analysis (He said/she said news) and here is their take:

Hasan Minhaj:

“Don [Don Lemon of CNN Tonight], every time I watch your show, I feel like I’m watching a reality TV show. ‘CNN Tonight’ should just be called ‘Wait a second! Now hold on! Stop yelling at each!’ with Don Lemon.”

Samantha Bee:

“With so much excellent reporting out there, why do 96 percent of Americans believe the media should be strung up by its own bowels?” she asked. “I don’t know — maybe because when they turn on the TV looking for news, all they can find are journalists trying to referee a pack of well-coiffed message robots shouting at each other all day from increasingly tiny boxes.”

And I think that gets to the heart of our problems today.  We are not looking for the truth through carefully researched journalism, but a mud wrestling contest, winner has the best costume.  Ratings are king if some cloths are ripped off.  Samantha made the point most effectively by quoting Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide and then making the point that they had effectively turned news into a sporting event (news as entertainment):

“There’s no truth or falsehood in sports. There’s just winners and losers, and people giving 110 percent because sports thinks that’s a number. The difference is, on CNN, the cheerleaders get paid.”

His barbs at MSNBC and CNN were well deserved:

“MSNBC is here tonight. And I’m glad you guys are here. That way if I’m bombing, Brian Williams will describe it as stunning.”

— “MSNBC. It’s hard to trust you guys when you send so many mixed messages. On the one hand you tell us the prison industrial complex is the problem, and then you air five straight hours of ‘Lockup.’ You can’t be mad at corporations profiting off of minorities in prison when you’re a corporation profiting off of minorities in prison.”

— “I had a lot more MSNBC jokes, but I don’t want to just ramble on, otherwise I might get a show on MSNBC.”

“CNN is here, baby. You guys got some really weird trust issues with the public. I’m not going to call you fake news, but everything isn’t breaking news. You can’t go to DEFCON-1 just because Sanjay Gupta found a new moisturizer.”

Yes, the press was on trial here and mostly they were (TV media) guilty as charged.  Maybe they learned something, I just don’t know.  We know Cheeto-Head is a disaster for this country, but last night was a reflection on how we got an ignorant racist misogynist for a president and sadly news and the way it is presented is a large part of the problem.  But they are also our only hope.  Samantha wondered why CNN, who has many great journalists, would just stop with the reality show and let them do their job.  Hasan probably summed it up best and maybe we need to hear it from a 2nd generation immigrant Muslim who does really appreciate what America should be and was about (here is the only copy of a video I could find and it was on twitter and I could not find the embed code):

Even though Mr. Minhaj said he had been told not to mock Mr. Trump or his administration in absentia, he felt he had a duty to “get on this stage and make fun of the president.”

“But the president didn’t show up,” Mr. Minhaj said. “Because Donald Trump doesn’t care about free speech. The man who tweets everything that enters his head refuses to acknowledge the amendment that allows him to do it.”

A few hours from now, Mr. Minhaj said, “Donald Trump will be tweeting about how bad Nicki Minaj bombed at this dinner. And he’ll be doing it completely sober. And that’s his right. And I’m proud that all of us are here tonight to defend that right, even if the man in the White House never would.”

After thanking the White House Correspondents’ Association, and thanking Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein “for inspiring a generation of journalists,” Mr. Minhaj concluded by saying, “I would like to thank Donald Trump for inspiring the next.”

Finally, I would like to leave with Woodward’s comments about what journalism is about:  Trying to find the best obtainable version of the truth we can.  We have a large portion of our citizenship who does not have a clue what that means.  A nobel endeavor and they are our only hope against ignorance and fascism on display in Pennsylvania that same night. A lot of things that needed to be said to powerful people was said.  I only hope they were listening.

Some Friday Musings

Paul Krugman summed up repeal and replace as trying to fit a large balloon in a small box.  He used the analogy to try to explain what I have been hammering away at, there is no Republican fix.  It has nothing to do with leadership or tactics.  There just isn’t a conservative solution to paying for all the stuff you want without making the plan unaffordable for those who need it most.  It is not a lack of ideas either.  It is simply arithmetic. There are progressive ideas for making it better, but no conservative ones because conservatives don’t believe in government involved in health care.  No where in the world do free markets provide universal health care and we have tried and tried here at home to come up with most expensive healthcare on the planet.

If you want to see what is wrong with Obamacare, see Republicans.  As a NYT article noted, where the GOP fought the plan tooth and nail (Oklahoma) they have only one insurer and some of the most expensive rates in the country.  Where the GOP let the market place work (New Mexico) they have just the opposite outcome.

But now both states are worried that political maneuvering at the federal level may deeply destabilize the marketplaces. In an effort to get Democrats to negotiate, Mr. Trump has threatened to stop paying more than $7 billion in subsidies to insurers that don’t charge deductibles and co-payments to millions of poor people. Uncertainty about the subsidies, which are a critical financial underpinning of the law, may drive more insurers out of the market — leaving Oklahoma with no health plans in the marketplace — and raise premiums significantly higher for those that stay.

And that is the point.  If they would have let it work, and worked with Democrats to fix some of its flaws, It would be a healthy system today with lower rates.  The conservatives always say let the market place work and then Trump and his boys and girls keep changing the rules so the market place sees major risk and draws back.  It is called a self-fulling prophecy.  So when you listen to your friendly neighborhood conservative complain about how Obamacare is wrecking the nation, ask why they voted for people to make sure that would happen.

But wait! Up next is tax reform.  Really?  The only thing slightly less complicated than healthcare is tax reform.  Everyone has an ox to be gored or a cart to be overturned.  So the only thing they could do is cut taxes to the wealthy and hope Obamacare fails so they can move those funds over to fund their tax cuts.  Meanwhile I was listening to MSNBC and they were asking if there could not be some compromises (the Holy Grail of punit insight) to of all people, Ed Rendell, ex-Governor of Pennsylvania.  I say that because why do they always pull out the old establishment Democrats who have nothing new to say.  The question to Ed was could not the Democrats compromise on some bills, and Ed says sure, Democrats just can’t block stuff.  Huh?  That is exactly what the Republicans did and now they own everything.

Then he says, everyone wants infrastructure so there could be a compromise there, and if the Republicans want to fix Obamacare, not repeal it, then they could work with that.  Oh the stupidity!  He is setting Democrats up to fail.  The only response would have been we have to see what is in their bill and whether they are actually willing to work with us, not fill it up with poison pills.  Infrastructure, and mark my words here, will be full of give aways to corporations, not real funding for infrastructure that we the people will own.  On Obamacare, they don’t want to fix it, because unless you move left, you can’t.

It amazes me that Democrats seemed to have learned nothing from the last election.  Hillary Clinton should have clobbered Cheeto-Head and she did not.  She did not because she did not get the vote out where it counted.  It was more Democrats as usual with a Republican Congress…snore.

The next election is about getting out the vote, not with how we can maybe compromise with the Republicans, not how we can block them, but what is our vision for the future that will get people out.  If you tell me you are running on working with the other side to “make Washington work again,” I am laughing at your stupidity.  People voted for Cheeto-Head because they believed he would change things.  Well Democrats, put Ed Rendell to bed and bring out new blood that doesn’t look like yesterdays suit just hung in the bathroom overnight to get the wrinkles out of it.

Compromise, Eqivocating, and All That Jazz

What Me Worry?

Trump took two major national security decisions in the past few weeks. One was to strike Syria for using poison gas. Trump summoned his national security team, asked for options on Syria, chose the cruise-missile strike — which was right — and won praise for acting “presidential.”

The other decision you didn’t see. It was Trump dismantling budgets and regulations undergirding U.S. climate and environmental protection policies — in his nutty effort to revive U.S. coal-fired energy — while quietly announcing plans to withhold a promised $32.5 million U.S. contribution for the U.N. Population Fund, which supports family planning and maternal health.

Unlike the Syria decision, Trump made the second move without seeking a comprehensive briefing from experts — he controls the world’s greatest collection of climate scientists at NASA, NOAA, the E.P.A., the Pentagon and the C.I.A. — and without ever asking for an intelligence briefing on how the combination of climate change, environmental degradation, drought and population explosions helped trigger the civil war in Syria, spawn terrorist groups like Boko Haram around Africa’s central Lake Chad (which has lost 90 percent of its water mass since 1963) and become the main force pushing tens of thousands of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa into Europe each year, and from Central America up to the U.S.


I promise you that Trump will spend the rest of his presidency dealing with the disruptions caused by this cocktail of population explosion and climate/environmental degradation — and his generals know it. But in today’s politics, bombing is considered presidential and ignoring science and defunding family planning, when populations are exploding and droughts expanding, are ho-hum back-page news.  Thomas Friedman

So lobbing bombs with no real strategic policy is presidential and being an idiot on science and not making the hard choices about our future is just ignored? Yep that is it.  People, even media types don’t like complexity.  It is why the North Korean problem is being played as the bully in the school yard. You just have to stand up to him.  Right?

It is an amazing world we live in today where rational thought just seems to have drifted away. I watched the Senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst give a town hall meeting where she was challenged head on with questions like how she can support a man who treats women so poorly and watched her equivocate away. While she finds some of his behavior “wrong”, she supports his conservative ideas, except of course the Wall and his stand on NAFTA because Iowa needs to export corn to Mexico.  What is it in her little conservative brain that says it’s okay to legitimize Cheeto-Head with her support even though many of his policies will hurt Iowans?

Meanwhile in the White House the President calls Turkey’s President to congratulate him on…?  He had just passed a referendum to turn the democracy into a dictatorship.  Did the Trump White House even know this?  Speaking of did they know anything, where oh where is the “armada” sailing to North Korea?  Involved in a training exercise in Australia.  We either got a lie or total obliviousness from the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the National Security advisor.  Oh and let’s not forget their puppet, Sean Spicer.  Is it incompetence or is it,,,?

In media land I listened to Kate Snow, who wants to be everybody’s friend, not respond to an outrageous claim by a Republican spinner about how Republican Congressmen where being challenge about Cheeto-Head’s taxes in town hall meetings and it was just stupid because there was nothing they could do.  Really Kate?  You believe that garbage?  There was a bill in the House to make all Presidents show their tax returns and it got nowhere because Republicans were not going to have it.  Do you even know what is going on in the world?  Maybe there will be a place for you at the White House after Spicer self-destructs.

Then there is always those appeals for compromise.  Why can’t the two sides just work together?  Well take global warming.  If one side doesn’t believe it exists, there is no problem, ergo, no need for a fix.  Take health care.  One side doesn’t believe government has any place in providing health care and the other thinks universal health care is a right.  Obamacare was the great compromise.  Now what?  How do you compromise with dismantling it?  Take tax cuts.  There was the perfect mindless op-ed in the NYT about how Republicans just need to keep it simple* and reduce the corporate rate down to 15%.  Anybody know what the Fortune 500 actually pay in taxes?  No where near as high as 15%.  But they go on and on based on the belief that if the rich had more money, we would all benefit.  Corporate profits are greater now than they have ever been and do you see jobs? So where would you compromise on that one?

Does anybody have their brain engaged anymore?  We have an incompetent and ignorant White House.  We have a President who has the vocabulary of a 4th grader (probably because he does not read). We have a Republican controlled Congress that is pushing policies that further enable the rich and fail miserably for the rest of us.  We have a media that ignores facts and pretends this is all just partisan differences.  And the Holy Grail is compromise?  WTF?  We are with Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole and we are pretending up is down and down is up.  I simply can’t watch it anymore.

*You really ought to read the op-ed and the comments.  You know who you are dealing with when they make this statement:

One sure lesson from the health care setback is the old admonition “Keep it simple, stupid.” The Republicans tried to fix the trillion-dollar health insurance market instead of keeping the focus on repealing Obamacare.

Okay, you get it.  The people who wrote this don’t give a damn about all the people who would die once they lost Obamacare.  They also don’t care about jobs because if they did they would know that corporations are not creating them.

 

The Syrian Rorachach Test

I have been listening this weekend to the pundits/politicians blubber about Cheeto-Head and the bombing and then it dawned on me, they all were just reporting what they wanted to see, not what was there.  You remember the old psychological Rorachach Test in which subjects’ perceptions of ink blots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex algorithms, or both. Some psychologists use this test to examine a person’s personality characteristics and emotional functioning?  People look at the same ink blot and see different things and what they see tells you a great deal about them.

Republicans who would have gone nuts if Obama would have launched missiles without their okay that had done minimum damage, not seen someone presidential.  Republicans and Pundits who are hoping beyond hope that this presidency will not be a disaster, see a man who took reasoned limited action to send a message.  How careful and measured they claim.  Meanwhile in the far right they see a promise broken.  Other pundits see a man changing his mind as the reality of office comes down on him.  Me, I see a reactionary child with no real plan forward and the attack helping him domestically while doing nothing for Syrians that we could help in so many ways.

Well here is what I really know about the reason for our Syrian adventure.  Nothing and neither does anyone else because Cheeto-Head has no policy.  So nobody knows what this meant, whether it was a reasoned shift in policy or a reactionary move to quiet his critics.  What we have heard crosses the spectrum from he saw reality on TV and he was shocked, shocked, shocked, and wanted to teach Assad a lesson, to the whole thing was done with the planing and backing of the Russians to help Cheeto-Head domestically.  No really, that is the range of things I heard in the last few days.

Now here is what we know today.  The attack was in response to a gas attack.  Who actually did it, Syrians or Russians, or Syrians’ with Russians’ complicity we don’t know.  There have been other chemical attacks and barrel bombs dropped on civilians, and many more children have been maimed and killed than in this attack.  Oh, and let’s not forget all the children suffering as refugees that we will not let into the country.  We still have no context for the attack.  What is our way forward?  Now just step back a minute and think about this: as long as he does not use Chemical weapons for his murdering everything is fine?  So even if we do believe the base story, it simply seems to have had no impact on the Syrian War.  They are flying missions out of the airfield as I write this.  So what was the point?

I see nothing presidential here or even laudatory.  Everyone is reading into what happened what they believe should be happening or want to be happening and not look at what is not happening.  We still have a presidential campaign deeply mired in Russian involvement, a president who who has no plans for anything, and we just rewarded him for reactionary behavior.  Again, what if Obama had done this?  So when all the smoke clears what do we see, a little man, still clueless about how the world works, no real plan and full of lies, who we just rewarded for acting impulsively. You want to know why America is so fucked up, just look to our media, panting dogs waiting for the next dog biscuit.

Oh and just to note, today the Republican nominee for the Supreme Court will take the place of Merrit Garland and again step back and take it in.  Eight years of obstructionist government, making our Congress dysfunctional worked splendidly.  The Republicans control everything and their denying President Obama a Supreme Court Justice worked just as well.  So when the press goes on about how the Democrats should meet the Republicans half way, Really?  Were you asleep in the last 9 years?  You have to get the people out to vote and Democrats have not done that by being the party of nice.

And while I am on a rant, did you see the latest Ferguson Mo. election? They re-elected the same mayor and only 29% of eligible voters turned out.  We don’t need Black Lives Matters harping about what are we going to do about systematic racism.  They need to become Black Votes Matter and they just need to vote.  We would not have Cheeto-Head had they and many others not voted.

Stupidity Just Keeps on Giving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Sunday Morning and Returning to Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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